Austria: Attacks during a soccer game

July 25, 2014

The Austrian newspaper der Standard is reporting, that soccer players from an Israeli soccer club were attacked during a friendship game in Austria. According to the newspaper the attackers had a Palestinian and Turkish background. They wanted vengeance for the Israeli attacks on Gaza – the newspaper said.

Haïm Korsia: “We all have to protect the Republic”

July 23, 2014

Jewish chaplain and the new Chief Rabbi of France, Haïm Korsia is known for his commitment to interreligious dialogue and to the values of the French republic. He was elected June 22, 2014 and is now faced with a series of attacks against the country’s Jewish community that have occurred during pro-Palestinian demonstrations. In the wake of rioting in Sarcelles Korsia participated in an interfaith prayer session with Drancy’s imam Hassen Chalghoumi in the town’s synagogue. Korsia answered questions in a recent interview with Le Point.

When asked his reaction to the speeches given at the presidential palace and at the prayer session in Sarcelles, he answered that is was a “necessary time for the national community, that needed to express the idea of solidarity between all its peoples, to say that there are things that are unacceptable.”

Korsia affirmed that it was not only up to Muslim leaders to speak out against violent acts. In the words of imam Chalghoumi, those perpetrators “are not in true support of any cause, they are not Muslims, they demonstrate only a rejection of the system and a hate for Jews. It is necessary to recognize this in order to fight: it will not work to be alarmist, but to make a fair observation in order to institute working methods, education, and courage so that there may be a peaceful ‘living together,’ which is France’s true mission.” The rabbi stated, “There is no war of religions, but of Frenchmen who attacked other Frenchmen.”

The rabbi trusts Minister of the Interior Bernard Cazeneuve’s statement that there will no future demonstrations. He expressed his surprise at elected officials who attended banned demonstrations, saying, “It is incomprehensible that certain people scoff at the Republic that they are supposed to embody.”

He stressed the importance of interreligious dialogue and of schools to introduce children to classmates with different religions than their own. “Someone else’s religion doesn’t have to be a mystery, a radical otherness, but another form of humanity that is just as deserving of respect,” he said. Korsia believes that this type of dialogue is possible in public schools. “One must go back to basics, at what is at the heart of the republican intention: we are all citizens, and there is a single community that counts: the national community,” he affirmed.

When referring to the “great national cause” he acknowledged the specific fight against anti-Semitism. However he said “it’s necessary to see things as they are: when we engage in methods to fight anti-Semitism, we give the impression that there are two weights, two measures…In reality one must fight against any rejection. The fight against global racism is good, but with a specificity towards anti-Semitism, which must become a great national cause.”

According to the recent findings, 5,000 French Jews have relocated to Israel in 2014 compared with 1,907 in 2012. Korsia stated that this number may be related to the anxiety many Jews feel in France, but is not the only reason for their relocation.

When asked if he believes that the majority of France feels a “softness” towards the anti-Semitic violence that occurred he answered, “not a softness, but an indifference, a resignation.” He stated that it’s necessary to work towards instituting “freedom and brotherhood while at the same time working toward national reconciliation.”

“Muslims of France wish for a united brotherhood” affirm Muslim leaders

July 23, 2014

In a recent statement, Muslim leaders recognize the “particular resonance in our country” of the “war between Israel and Palestinians.” They emphasized that “the Muslims of France wish for one united brotherhood, to live together peacefully.”

“No exterior conflict, particularly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, should, in any case and in any way, be brought into France and most of all affect the relations between our country’s citizens or generate hostile behavior between them,” they wrote.

The leaders condemned “the small minority, who under pretext of defending the Palestinian cause, infiltrate the demonstrations that have peaceful objectives to attack citizens or their places of worship, no matter if they are Christians, Jews or Muslims.”

They called on the Muslim community to stand up to these “‘thugs’ whose objectives are totally foreign to [the community’s] interests and principles.” Reaffirming their support for the Great Mosque of Lyon they called on Jewish leaders to “understand, beyond the passions and legitimate feelings that they feel in regard to Israel, that we as well cannot remain insensitive to these children, to these women and these Palestinian men who die each day.”

The concluded: “We propose to our Jewish citizens of France to discuss together the best ways to resist…proponents of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism in France and in the world.”

Statement issued by:

*Laid Abdelkader Bendidi, Président du CRCM Rhône-Alpes

Benaissa Chana, Vice Président du CRCM Rhône-Alpes

Azeddine Gaci, Recteur de la Mosquée Othmane

Kamel Kabtane, Recteur de la Mosquée de Lyon

Paris, Sarcelles: Cazeneuve “takes complete responsibility” for the ban on pro-Palestinian demonstrations

July 21, 2014

After a pro-Palestinian demonstration turned violent in Sarcelles, Val-d’Oise on Sunday, July 20, a similar demonstration followed in the streets of Paris in the Barbès neighbourhood. Bernard Cazeneuve spoke about the controversial decision to ban public demonstrations in support of Palestinians. He does not regret this decision, stating, “I take full responsibility for the decision…Every French citizen should live harmoniously with one another no matter their religious beliefs, their confession, their conviction. Can you do this when you let things escalate?” asked Cazeneuve in a recent interview.

According to Cazeneuve the violence would have been “worse” in Sarcelles without the ban. He assured those wishing to hold demonstrations that police heads would meet to discuss the possibilities of future pro-Palestinian demonstrations. If the demonstrations can be held “without risk” to public order “they will be allowed” he said.

According to Cazeneuve there is a “small minority” of French Muslims who are “radicalized.” “That has already shocked the representatives of Islam in France…There is a large majority of French Muslims that condemn [the violence] in France, Muslims are tied to the Republic,” he affirmed.

“’They themselves are put at risk’ by the recent events…They see the consequences that all of this can have on them” said Cazeneuve. “These hoodlums who riot in Sarcelles or elsewhere are not representative of the Islam of France.”

In Sarcelles, Muslim and Jewish dignitaries pray for peace

July 22, 2014

On Sunday, July 20 violence marred a pro-Palestinian demonstration in Sarcelles. In its aftermath leaders from both the Muslim and Jewish communities, including France’s chief rabbi Haim Korsia and the imam of Drancy, Hassen Chalghoumi, gathered to pray together.

The multi-faith prayer took place in the town’s synagogue under the protection of local police and included singer Enrico Macias and writer Marek Halter. Soon after Muslim, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, and Buddhist leaders gathered at the French president’s official residence to denounce anti-Semitism. “The president of the Republic reminded us that the fight against anti-Semitism will be a national cause,” underlined president of the Central Israeli Consistory Joel Mergui.

The violent riots took place in Sarcelles, a city north of Paris, known for its large North African Jewish community and often referred to as “little Jerusalem.” Cars were burned and stores were ransacked, including a kosher grocery store. Eighteen people were arrested and eleven remain in police custody, four of whom are minors.

“I didn’t sleep at night, I was anxious. People from all places live together here, we don’t understand,” said a 67 year-old Jewish resident whose car was destroyed. The city’s mayor Francois Pupponi later stated that “the Jewish community is scared” and no longer feels secure.

Muslims or not, citizens called on to express their solidarity with Gaza

July 22, 2014

Close to two weeks after Israel’s army began bombing the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian death toll has surpassed 650, most of whom were women and children. Many more have been injured and over 100,000 Palestinians have been displaced according to the United Nations. The Gathering of Muslims of France (RFM) firmly condemns “blind violence that violates international law and reiterates its deepest emotion and greatest concern at the unprecedented killing spree.”

According to the RFM is a country that “engenders great respect in the region,” and must “play a determining and decisive role for the immediate end to this violence and work for the establishment of justice and peace in this bruised region.”

The RFM “calls on the Muslims of France, politicians and all loving citizens of peace and justice to express their solidarity with the Palestinian cause, with respect for the republican pact which links and concerns us all.”

The organization reinforced the need for peaceful protest and reiterated that French Muslims reject “all forms of racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia. The Muslims of France are equally respectful of the sanctity of places of worship and are deeply committed to the safety of persons and property.”

French Muslims are invited to “benefit from these blessed days of Ramadan to pray that the martyrdom of the Palestinian people can stop as soon as possible.”

Signed,

Anour Kbibech, President of the RFM

Interfaith leaders launch daylong unity fast for Mideast peace

July 14, 2014

While the violence escalates in Israel and Gaza, a movement is taking hold that unites Jews, Muslims and others in a campaign for peace.

On Tuesday (July 15), a daylong fast is planned as part of a public effort to show unity in the fight against war and violence in the region.

Using the Twitter hashtag #HungryforPeace, the cause started in Israel and gained strength in England, promoted by Yachad, a U.K.-based pro-Israel, pro-peace group. Last weekend, it was announced in temples, mosques and churches in the U.S.

Pastor Steve Norman of Kensington Church near Detroit used Twitter to call his 10,000-strong congregation to join him in the fast after reading about the efforts of Muslims and Jews to publicly stand together.

“It just seemed right to follow their lead,” said Norman, whose church sponsors several trips to Israel and the West Bank each year.

The latest series of clashes between Israel and the Palestinians are blamed on the kidnapping of three Israeli young men who were later found dead, as well as the reported revenge killing of a teenage Palestinian boy from East Jerusalem. In the words of Lee Ziv, an Israeli peace activist, “The tears of an Israeli mother over her dead son are identical to those of a Palestinian Mother.”

Ziv started a Facebook page called “The Bus of Peace” and is organizing a bus to drive from Jerusalem to Gaza with flowers and peace slogans to demonstrate the goodwill of many Israelis toward the people of Gaza. In the past, she has gathered blankets and other supplies to donate to those living in Gaza.

UC regents have bigger issues than student rep debate

July 18, 2014

For the second consecutive year, the UC regents board is embroiled in an unnecessary and counterproductive controversy over the views of its student representatives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

On Wednesday, the regents voted to confirm the selection of Abraham “Avi” Oved, a UCLA economics major who will begin his senior year this fall, to be a student representative on the university governing board. Oved has previously served as the internal vice president of the campus undergraduate student government, and he was the selection committee’s unanimous pick for the regents board due to his thoughtfulness and boundless energy, committee members said.

But Oved is also an active member of student Jewish organizations at UCLA and an opponent of the movement to have the University of California divest its holdings in companies that do business with the Israeli military. That, regrettably, helped incite an effort to stymie his appointment.

Oved’s appointment comes during a period of contentious debate on UC campuses about the Middle East. Last year, for instance, the U.S. Department of Education exonerated UC Berkeley, Irvine and Santa Cruz of allegations of anti-Semitism in connection with protests that some Jewish students felt constituted harassment. This spring, Students for Justice in Palestine called on UCLA student council candidates not to take trips to Israel under the sponsorship of three pro-Israel groups.

Last year, this page supported the appointment of a Muslim student, Sadia Saifuddin, to the Board of Regents despite harsh objections from Jewish organizations because of her advocacy for divestment. Now, we support Oved as well.

The people involved in these squabbles should take a cue from the two student appointees themselves, who have, for the most part, said the right things. Oved said he would “reach out to communities that may have felt uncomfortable” with his nomination. And despite casting the only vote to delay Oved’s confirmation, Saifuddin welcomed the opportunity to work with him and to help guide him “through the myriad moral and political factors” student regents face.

Jewish and Muslim communities to break fast for peace

July 15, 2014

NEW HAVEN. The violent actions on display between Israelis and Palestinians is a sight Rabbi Herbert Brockman doesn’t like viewing or listening to.

But instead of hearing about casualties, Brockman, spiritual leader of Congregation Mishkan Israel of Hamden, doesn’t want to stand by.

At sundown Tuesday, Brockman and other members of the Jewish community will head to The Islamic Association of Greater Hartford in Berlin for a date with Muslims, where they will break fast together. Tuesday is Shivah Asar B’Tammuz, a fast day for Jews, while Muslims are fasting during the month of Ramadan, Mongi Dhaouadi, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations in Connecticut, praised the event. CAIR’s focus is to empower the Muslim community through activism.

“It was well received from both sides,” Dhaouadi of New London said. “It’s a very small gesture. I don’t think sitting on the sideline doing nothing is acceptable either.”

CAIR Condemns Vandalism of Mass. Synagogue with Pro-Palestinian Graffiti

July 15, 2014

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization, today condemn vandalism of a Massachusetts synagogue with pro-Palestinian graffiti.

Police are investigating graffiti, which included “Free Palestine” and “God Bless Gaza,” spray-painted on the Montefiore Orthodox Synagogue in Lowell, Mass.

In a statement, CAIR said:

“Whatever views one holds on the current round of violence in the Middle East, attacks on houses of worship must be condemned and the perpetrators brought to justice.”