07 August 2008

08 August 2008 - Criticizing Jews is not the way to reach out to Muslims

It's Almost Supernatural has a great post on the South African human rights delegation to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

I'm not saying this because they link my article on the subject, but because it has two very important pieces of analysis.

The first debunks the claim that criticism of Israel is stifled in the South African Jewish Community. The second debunks the idea that criticizing Jews is a way to reach out to the Muslim community:

"Most absurd, however, is that Geffen also claims that the delegation set out to try and improve the ties between the Jewish and Muslim communities in South Africa. I don’t buy it.

They blame only Israel for the problems; they lecture only the Jewish community about softening their positions; they investigate only Israeli abuses of Palestinian human rights. Everyone knows about the importance of the perception of fairness in conflict resolution. Geffen knows this. Yet, without any attempt to appear fair, he has the audacity to claim that they wanted to improve relations between South African Jews and Muslims. Who is he trying to kid?

Currying favour with one community and lecturing the other does not bring the two sides closer. It polarises the communities. It presses only the Jewish community to change its views, - not through debate but through public pressure! He calls on the Jewish community to better understand the suffering of the Palestinians (here I have to agree) but makes no similar demands of the Muslim community!

Furthermore, Geffen’s comparison between the positions adopted by the organs of the Muslim community and the organs of the Jewish community reflects complete naiveté and ignorance. In fact, he describes the failures of the Jewish community as far worse than those of the Muslim community. I challenge Geffen to actually read what the organs of both communities say. (Here Nathan, read this rhetoric from the Muslim Judicial Council and then find me similar utterances from a local Jewish communal institution)."

The best way to build relationships with the Muslim community is to build relationships with the Muslim community. Dialogue goes both ways, and one-way dialogue just encourages contempt on the receiving end--contempt that leads to more hatred.

I mean--seriously, this delegation went all the way to Hebron just to bash the local Jewish community back home?


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