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Can Islam Solve Its Jewish Problem?

Jan. 25 2018

On December 8—the Friday following the American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital—three imams in the U.S. delivered virulently anti-Semitic sermons at their mosques. Ben Cohen comments on the Islamic texts cited in these sermons, the reactions to complaints about the sermons’ contents, and what hope there is for change in Muslim attitudes toward Jews:

On the one hand, . . . Islam regards the Jews as “enemies” of Muhammad’s prophecy; on the other, Islam realizes only too well that, without the existence of the Jews and their practices to begin with, there would have been no subsequent prophetic tradition and faith to follow. . . .

[Take, for instance,] the sermon delivered at the Islamic Center of Jersey City by Sheikh Aymen Elkasaby, who told those gathered for prayers that the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem was “under the feet of the apes and pigs”—a commonly expressed derogatory term for Jews, that is based upon a sura (chapter) in the Quran which claims that in his anger toward the Jews, God “made some as apes and swine.” . . .

In the aftermath of all three sermons, . . . I came across some reassuring signs that in America, [it’s possible to] deal with these issues with an honesty that is absent in much of Europe and certainly in the Middle East. . . . In the case of [the preacher who gave an anti-Semitic sermon at a Houston mosque], the Islamic Society of Greater Houston condemned him for making “inflammatory remarks about our Jewish community in a deeply disturbing tone.” . . .

In each of these cases, I spoke to Muslim leaders who expressed some degree of remorse or condemnation, and did not deny—as would often be the case in Europe—that such rhetoric is . . . an actual threat to the Jews living here, and therefore a potential threat to most precious norms and conventions of the nation at large. . . .

Nobody can pretend that these anti-Jewish texts, beliefs and traditions do not exist. But the experience of Jews with the Catholic Church during the last half-century—in which fundamental doctrines about the demonic nature of the Jews dating to the time of St. Paul have been dispensed with—suggests that there is very little in this world that is immovable.

Read more at JNS

More about: American Muslims, Anti-Semitism, Islam, Muslim-Jewish relations, Religion & Holidays

The Trump Administration Has Said the Right Things about Syria, but Words Are Not Enough

Jan. 30 2018

While praising the White House for recognizing that Iran poses a major threat to American interests in Syria, Jennifer Cafarella argues that Washington still needs a strategy for countering the Islamic Republic and its allies:

The Trump White House identifies Iran as a primary threat. It has verbally committed to the departure from power of Bashar al-Assad. It claims to prioritize repairing relations with Turkey, seeks to destroy al-Qaeda, and wants to refocus the U.S. on Syria’s humanitarian catastrophe. These are the correct goals toward which American policy should strive. . . . The problem is that the strategy Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has outlined [in a January 17 speech] will not accomplish these goals. . . .

American policy in Syria, regardless of any tough administration statements, is to accept Assad and his regime de-facto. . . . The “de-escalation” agreement that President Trump signed in November 2017 with Russia is a surrender not only to Russia, but also to Iran. It heavily favors Assad. In that deal, Russia promised to compel Iran to withdraw its forces from southern Syria. It never happened. Pro-regime forces violate the de-escalation zone with impunity. . . .

Tillerson uses vague terms like “deny their dreams” to describe our strategy against Iran in Syria. He identifies no clear goal against which the U.S. can measure success. He states that the U.S. must deliver an “enduring defeat” to al-Qaeda—and we certainly must. Yet the U.S. Defense Department has offered no vision of how to do that. The strategy Tillerson outlines—and that the U.S. is pursuing—amounts to outsourcing the problem to Turkey, which is actually working with al-Qaeda in Syria. . . .

Two administrations have sought to substitute rhetoric for action and to outsource American interests to local partners. The U.S. must abandon this approach and recognize Syria’s importance to American security.

Read more at Fox News

More about: Al Qaeda, Donald Trump, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, Rex Tillerson, Syrian civil war, U.S. Foreign policy