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On April 25th, IDI held a panel discussion on Jewish-Muslim relations in North America, “Confronting Hate and Prejudice” with the effort of strengthening solidarity and exploring bridge-building among rising bigotry against both Muslims and Jews.
The moderator for event was Yoni Goldstein, Editor of the Canadian Jewish News. The speakers included, Rabbi Debra Landsberg from Temple Emanu-El; Doctor Ingrid Mattson, Chair of Islamic Studies at Huron University College; Rabbi Daniel Korobkin, Senior Rabbi at Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto; and Imam Abdullah Antepli, Chief Representative of Muslim Affairs at Duke University and adjunct Faculty of Islamic Studies.
Rabbi Korobkin began the event by emphasizing that it was important for people to see that Muslims and Jews, from different perspectives, can dialogue and disagree and still be friends at the end of the evening.
Imam Antepli pointed out that circumstances are forcing a healthier and more sophisticated conversation, but that Muslims and Jews were still struggling with the basics. “If hate goes unchallenged, it corrupts the community it comes from,” he said.
Dr. Mattson explained that upon her return to Canada after 20 years, she was shocked at the dismal relations between Muslims and Jews. She mused that the reason interfaith activities in Canada weren’t stronger might be because of its more secular approach. In Rabbi Landsberg’s opening remarks she stressed that it is important to give respect to individuals independent of their community.
When the moderator asked the speakers what they or their communities found to be the concerns and trepidations with this kind of dialogue, there were some similarities. Rabbi Landsberg mentioned a fear that exists that there is something inherent and that their words can’t be trusted because they don’t speak for the majority.
Dr. Mattson mentioned the events at Yonge and Finch, echoing the remarks by Rabbi Landsberg that there exists a litmus test. “I’m not guilty today, but if the driver had been Muslim, would I be guilty?” she asked, even though in either context she had nothing to do with it.
Imam Antepli pointed out that it was important not to conflate moral disagreements with political disagreements. Rabbi Korobkin, for his part, pointed out that Facebook did a disservice to these kinds of conversations. There are members who reject that anything redeeming can be found, but online platforms like Facebook and Twitter amplify these minority voices—communities are complicated.
On the topic of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there were many different views and caveats for this complex subject. The speakers, though, ensured that they approached the topic calmly and with sincere and open dialogue. It highlighted that the topic is something different to different people, from the reasons for the conflict to the importance of the topic, and served to show how it can be engaged productively.
“Confronting Hate and Prejudice: Jewish-Muslim Relations in North America”
We live in an era of rising bigotry against both Muslims and Jews. As such, there’s hardly been a time when the need for more solidarity, good faith, and bridge-building has been more immediately felt. While it is crucial to build trust, respect, and understanding in ways that honor the ideals of both communities, it is important not to be blind to the difficulties and tensions that have often divided these communities. The panel discussion aims to shed light on historcial and contemporary issues, and articulate a broad vision for the future of Muslim-Jewish relations in Canada–one based on mutual respect and good faith.
Yoni Goldstein, Editor, Canadian Jewish News
Rabbi Debra, Landsberg, Vice-Chair of the Canadian Rabbinic Caucus and Senior Rabbi at Temple Emanu-El
Dr. Ingrid Mattson, Chair in Islamic Studies, Huron University College
Rabbi Daniel Korobkin, Senior Rabbi, Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto
Imam Abdullah Antepli, Chief Representative of Muslim Affairs, Duke University
April 25, 2018, 7pm-9pm
Hart House, Debates Room
7 Hart House Circle, Toronto, ON M5S 3H3