The Treacherous Waters of Christian-Muslim Dialogue
Whenever Christian and Muslim leaders meet for purposes of inter-religious dialogue, people responsible for the safety and well being of the Jewish people need to pay attention.
And it’s not just Jews. Lay Christians and moderate Muslims need to stay on guard as well.
Time and again, Christian leaders have proven themselves to be naïve and feckless in their dealings with Muslim dialogue partners. Too often they speak with Muslim leaders who, when they are not speaking words of peace to Christians, promote Jew-hatred and support terrorism to their fellow Muslims.
By “dialoging” with Christian leaders, Muslim extremists who promote Islamic supremacism and jihad among their flocks can portray themselves as reasonable dialogue partners committed to religious pluralism. Simply put, Christian leaders are not very good at due diligence and, as a result, often give cover to Islamic anti-Semitism and jihadism.
One egregious example of this phenomenon took place in 1991 when the United States Catholic Conference, the precursor to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, co-sponsored a national dialogue with Muslim leaders in response to the First Gulf War.
A communiqué issued by the participants on October 22, 1991, stated that attendees sought to “foster mutual respect and understanding,” “work to end misrepresentation and stereotypes of each faith,” “join together for the realization of common values,” and to “collaborate for the achievement of peaceful coexistence between both communities in the U.S. and throughout the world.”
This all sounds well and good until one takes a good look at the attendees from the Muslim side of the dialogue. One of the dialogue partners was Abduraham Alamoudi, who at the time of the meeting was director of the American Muslim Council.
In the years after his dialogue with Catholic leaders, Alamoudi revealed himself to be a vocal supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah, two terrorist organizations dedicated to Israel’s destruction. (So much for “peaceful coexistence.”) Eventually, Alamoudi’s sympathies caught up with him and he was sentenced to 23 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to terrorism-related charges, including participating in a Libyan plot to kill Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
To be fair, Alamoudi fooled a lot of people, including government officials who allowed him to participate in the selection process of Muslim chaplains into the U.S. military, but the fact that Catholic leaders sat down and “dialogued” with a man who later publicly expressed support for terrorism against Israel and was part of a plot to kill a Saudi Prince is nonetheless disconcerting.
During the same meetings, Catholic leaders also met with Qutbi Ahmed, executive director of the Muslim World League’s (MWL) offices in Washington, D.C. (Ahmed served as “co-planner” of the dialogue.)
This is particularly troublesome because the Muslim World League is, according to the Anti-Defamation League, a supporter of terrorism and a broadcaster of anti-Semitic ideology. In 2009, the ADL reported that the Muslim World League does condemn specific acts of terror, but also “has a long history of providing financial support to terrorist groups or having organizational links to them, including to Hamas, Abu Sayyaf group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Jemaat al Islamiyya, and Al Qaeda.”
Writing in his 2006 book, Hamas: Politics, Charity, and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad (Washington Institute for Near East Policy), Matthew Levitt reports “The nature of MWL’s ties to terrorism is extensive and includes both senior officials and branch offices.” In testimony before Congress, Levitt also reported “Muslim World League member organizations suspected of funding terrorism, including the Rabita Trust. Rabita, which U.S. officials says changed its name to the Aid Organization of the Ulema, is based in Pakistan and actively raised funds for the Taliban since 1999.”
The organization also promotes anti-Semitism in a big way. In 2008, the Muslim World League invited Yusuf Qaradawi, a notorious Jew-hater and spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, to speak at the First International Islamic Conference on Dialogue, where he said that he would “never sit with Jews on one platform and never hold dialogue with those Jews who have committed injustice against us and support Israel.”
The ADL reports that in 2004, the MWL published an article in its monthly magazine that stated “The Zionists managed to develop a racist society on the basis of the Nazi system, which believed in a superior race and people. In this case the Zionists saw non-Jews as lower races of people and that anything is justified to remove them from their newly established state.”
And in May 2009, the same publication published a cover story about the Jewish control of the media in the United States. The article “names individuals heading media companies with the epithet ‘Jew’ or ‘Jewess,’ and speaks of the ‘insatiable appetite Jews have shown for all the organs of opinion control on which they could fasten their grip.’”
None of this stopped officials from the World Council of Churches (WCC) from participating in a dialogue organized by the MWL in September 2009. Rev. Dr. Olav Fyske Tveit, General Secretary-elect of the WCC, began his talk to the assembly by offering his greetings to “Honored leaders in the search for proper attitudes of dialogue across religious and cultural boundaries!”
And in response to the “debate” over the publication of cartoons depicting Mohammad, Tveit stated that “freedom of speech must be exercised with wisdoms so as not to cause offense to one another.” He closed his talk with a plea for “dialogue, honest dialogue about our attitudes toward our neighbor, about our common responsibility toward the earth and toward the coming generations.”
And that little thing about MWL promoting Jew-hatred? Well, it must not have been brought to his attention!
It’s one thing to engage in dialogue with honest partners intent on peace. It’s another thing altogether to help Muslim leaders and organizations that use talk of peace to disguise their true agenda of hate.