Intergroup Muslim and Jewish Conflict Transformation Program

ING News & Information, 3/5/08

In this Edition:

  • In the News: Responding to the Obama “Muslim Smear” Campaign
  • Now Accepting Applications for Intergroup Muslim and Jewish Conflict Transformation Program
  • ING Speakers Supplement Social Studies in Middle and High Schools, 3/3/08
  • “Islam in the Modern World” at Christ Episcopal Church, Los Altos, 2/28/08
  • “Interfaith Speakers Bureau” Speakers Training, Los Altos, 2/28/08
  • Thank You for Your Support!

In the News: Responding to the Obama “Muslim Smear” Campaign

“Muslims say faith used as scare tactic against Obama. San Jose Group Notes Few Step Up to Condemn Strategy”, by Kim Vo San Jose Mercury, February 29, 2008

“Muslim rumors have dogged Barack Obama throughout this presidential campaign, but the political arrows flew fast and furious this week, leaving Maha ElGenaidi anxious that her community would be further wounded in the aftermath. “The outcome of this game they’re playing amongst themselves is possibly tragic for Muslims in America,” said ElGenaidi, founder of the San Jose-based Islamic Networks Group. American Muslims complain their faith is being used as a scare tactic, possibly inflaming prejudices already heightened by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the subsequent war and terrorist bombings. The recent ploys, leaders say, insinuate that simply being or associating with Muslims is sinister. . . . . Republicans have criticized some of the tactics, as has the National Council of Churches. Muslim leaders say while the politicians’ admonishments are needed, they fall short of the full-throated defense other religions would receive. ‘They’re not apologizing for the bigotry, but rather it’s unstatesmanlike to insult each other,’ ElGenaidi said.” For the entire article, go to: Contact Kim Vo at [email protected] or call (408) 920-5719.

For another response to this campaign, read: “Obama, Being Called a Muslim Is Not a Smear” by Naomi Klein, the Nation, February 28, 2008

“The turban “scandal” is all part of what is being referred to as “the Muslim smear.” It includes everything from exaggerated enunciations of Obama’s middle name to the online whisper campaign that Obama attended a fundamentalist madrassa in Indonesia (a lie), was sworn in on a Koran (another lie) and if elected would attach RadioShack speakers to the White House to broadcast the Muslim call to prayer (I made that one up). Of course Obama must correct the record, but he doesn’t have to stop there. What is disturbing about the campaign’s response is that it leaves unchallenged the disgraceful and racist premise behind the entire “Muslim smear”: that being Muslim is de facto a source of shame. …The orgy of hate that is “the Muslim smear” is unfolding in real time, and it promises to greatly intensify in a general election. …This at a time when US Muslims are bearing the brunt of the Bush Administration’s assaults on civil liberties, including dragnet wiretapping, and are facing a documented spike in hate crimes. Occasionally, though not nearly enough, Obama says that Muslims are “deserving of respect and dignity.”… To see the entire article, go to:

Now Accepting Applications for Intergroup Muslim and Jewish Conflict Transformation Program

The Unity Program is coming to the San Francisco Bay Area for the 2008-2009 school year. Applications are being accepted from Jewish and Muslim students ages 16-18 through March 15, 2008. The Unity Program is a high school course designed to educate students about Islam and Judaism while strengthening the relationships students have to their own religious traditions. The course examines the relationship between Islam and Judaism, the historical relationship between Muslims and Jews, and issues within North American Jewish and Muslim communities. Each of these components deepens students’ understandings of Jewish and Muslim individual and group identities in contemporary society as well as the textual, ideological, and historical relationship between and within each religious tradition.

The three major components of the Unity Program are:

(1) Teacher-led classes on issues related to Islam, Judaism and Muslim-Jewish relations.
(2) Presentations by Jewish and Muslim guest speakers.
(3) Interschool meetings between students from schools in which trained facilitators lead participants in group dynamics sessions.

The Unity Program utilizes these methods, along with relevant field trips, to create an environment where students learn with and from the ‘other.’ Upon completing the Unity Program course, students will receive an official Certificate of Completion from both Abraham’s Vision and the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Francisco. Exceptional students will also receive letters of recommendation for their university applications.

To download the application, visit the Abraham’s Vision website at Applications are due by March 15, 2008.

Events of Interest:

ING Speakers Supplement Social Studies in Middle and High Schools, 3/03/08

ING speakers delivered presentations to middle and high schools across the Bay Area last week, including public and private schools. Omar Ansari addressed social studies classes at Central Middle in San Carlos, Imran Maskatia addressed classes at Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School in Palo Alto; Khatija Afroze spoke to Comparative Religion classes at Urban School of San Francisco; Nashwan Hamza delivered presentations to freshman classes at Carmel High School on Monday and Friday of last week; Amany Nasser spoke to classes at Woodside School in Concord on Wednesday; Maha Elgenaidi & Aisha Morgan spoke to two social studies assemblies at Pollicita Middle School in Daly City. While the fall is usually the busiest time for ING, this spring has been as busy as the fall!

“Islam in the Modern World” at Christ Episcopal Church, Los Altos, 2/28/08

ING’s president, Maha Elgenaidi led a women’s group roundtable discussion on Islam in the modern world and women’s role in the community at Christ Episcopal Church in Los Altos on February 28. About 25 women participated in an engaging and stimulating conversation that not only looked at abuses of Islam in the modern world but also abuses of Christianity and other religions and the discrepancies between theology and historical teachings and the practices of people based on interpretations that are more often influenced by economics and politics, culture & tradition, education, and family upbringing than it is attempting to understand the will of God. Topics ranged between women’s role in the family and extremism in religion.

“Interfaith Speakers Bureau” Speakers Training, Los Altos, 2/28/08

An ING trainer led an interfaith speakers bureau training for Jewish members of the Jewish Community Relations Council in Los Altos on February 28. The orientation included an introduction and a description of the new bureau and its purpose, an overview of the content of the two different types of panels that will be formed: the Five Faith Panel which includes the five major world religions, and the Muslim-Jewish Panel. Trainees were also provided the content for each of the panels from the perspectives of the five faiths, and an overview of guidelines for speaking about religion in public institutions based on First Amendment Center Guideli
nes. The workshop concluded with a few basic tips for panelists and facilitators, and an overview of certification procedures. Trainees were highly engaged throughout, with discussions among the trainees particularly invaluable because they presented ideas to further develop the program especially in the area of Frequently Asked Questions, which will eventually be developed for each of the faiths. If you’re interested in joining the newly formed Interfaith Speakers Bureau, please contact Grace Fong, at [email protected]

Thank You for Your Support!