Members of the 8-year-old West Los Angeles Cousins Club say they have been intrigued to find how much Islam and Judaism have in common.
A guiding principle for the group is to discuss religion and spirituality, rather than delve into sensitive political issues such as the Arab-Israeli conflict. In the group’s eight-year history, there has been only one Arab member, a Syrian woman who attended for about a year. There was also briefly an Iranian American attendee, but most of the Muslim participants have roots in Southeast Asia or are converts to Islam.
Former French President Jacques Chirac has emerged as a spokesperson of sorts for Holocaust instruction in Muslim countries. Chirac’s popularity in parts of the Arab world and his history of making clear statements about France’s responsibility in the World War II destruction of Europe’s Jews accords him, according to this IHT feature, a unique place in talking about the relationship of racism and anti-Semitism to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Chirac said he had no intention “to place on Muslim countries a responsibility” for the Holocaust “that isn’t theirs” but stressed the importance of “making the Shoah known while removing it from the silence that people have built up around it in many countries.” “It’s been hidden,” Chirac said, “because referring to the Shoah in these countries has risked creating sympathy for the Jews and Israel.”