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Latest News & Events

Healing America from the Bottom Up

by Yehezkel Landau The stunning victory of Donald Trump in the presidential election forces all Americans to rethink our assumptions about the web of social relations in which we live. The political polarization of our society has been strikingly confirmed by the even split in the popular vote. The pollsters and pundits, as part of the comfortable elite, failed to appreciate the depth of resentment stirring among many Americans, not only white males with limited schooling or economic opportunities. The widespread failure to anticipate the election results reflects the silos in which we all operate, reinforced by the selective news outlets and social media platforms through which we receive news and views. The ideological fragmentation of America into segregated, self-reinforcing constituencies makes it impossible for us to hear each other or to conduct honest, compassionate conversations across difference. The consequence of this mutual alienation is a debilitating “blame game” in which our political opponents are held responsible for all the woes besetting our country. It is a short step from this negative generalizing to scapegoating “Others” as a way of coping with our anxieties or expressing our anger. The language of fear, resentment, and scapegoating was prevalent throughout the Trump campaign; yet to a lesser extent it also characterized discourse on the left, when perceived reactionaries were labeled “deplorable” riffraff who threaten the future of our country. But there is no rhetorical symmetry here. Trump’s bigoted, xenophobic, and misogynistic statements attracted supporters who share those hateful prejudices. His endorsement by the Ku Klux Klan is enough to ring alarm bells. Our neighbors who are Muslims, or Mexican immigrants, or...

Anti-Muslim Rhetoric is Sacrilegious and Anti-American

by Yehezkel Landau The anti-Muslim rhetoric used by various candidates for political office in recent months has done far more than pollute our public discourse with ugly bigotry and hatred.  That would be alarming enough to justify an all-out campaign to discredit the message along with the messengers. Sadly, the impact of this toxic language, amplified by sensationalist media, is even more dangerous than the reinforcement of negative stereotypes or the scapegoating of an entire faith community. The malicious appeals to fear, resentment, and hatred are a profound threat to the moral values that undergird American society. Those values include tolerance for legitimate differences of opinion, mutual respect, and the constitutionally enshrined right to practice one’s faith without harassment. Beyond that, Islamophobic rhetoric is an attack on religion itself. It is a sacrilege that cannot be tolerated by people who believe in the One God who has created each and every one of us in the Divine Image. As a Jew, I am aware of the anti-Semitic parallels from the last century in this country—including Father Coughlin’s inflammatory radio broadcasts in the 1930’s—as well as in Europe.  I know that a verbal assault on any single group or community is an assault on us all. What starts as a denigration of one religion and its followers inevitably becomes extended to others who do not fit the declared norm, including “heretics” or “infidels” in the rabble-rouser’s own faith community. The United States remains an unprecedented experiment in collective self-government. Its lofty goals and principles are a beacon of hope to people the world over. They convey the highest ideals of...

Podcast: What it Means to Stand Together

“Legitimacy can be established through credentials … or it can be established through a track record and work experience, that you have indicated through some type of continuous effort that you are someone worth listening to.” “Our bigger challenge today is … the amount of indifference that exists.  That you see injustice taking place in front of you, and you have the ability to do something about it, and you still don’t.  You can have a perspective on a person or a community that they represent, without having ever met someone from that community.” “Find the courage to go and be with those who are different rather than waiting for them to be with you.” In this episode of our free podcast series “NYC Faith Leaders,” Maggi Van Dorn interviews Imam Khalid Latif, who shares with us his experience as the first Muslim chaplain of NYU, the emerging faith leadership of young adults, and how conviction inspires and necessitates a person to work across faith lines. We’re pleased that this episode will be the first entry in the Storybank of Religions for Peace USA’s “Our Muslim Neighbor” initiative, a long-term collective impact effort geared toward combating Islamophobia with a positive, informed, and consistent message of Islam and Muslims in the U.S. We hope you will not just listen to this series, but download the podcasts to hear while driving, jogging, or washing the dishes.  And subscribe in order to be alerted when new installments are available.  It’s a great way to learn about the faiths of our New York City neighbors. What it Means to Stand Together...

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The Our Muslim Neighbor Initiative is generously funded by the William and Mary Greve Foundation, The El-Hibri Foundation and Dr. Haruhisa Handa, and the International Shinto Foundation. We are deeply grateful for their leadership and support of our efforts.

Fear has become the motivating factor in the normalization of the condemnation of Islam and the oppression of Muslims in America. Our Muslim Neighbor works to counter this fear with a positive, informed, and consistent message of Islam and Muslims in the U.S.

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