Rabbis Steven Sirbu, Jordan Millstein, and others compare opposition to the location of the Muslim community and prayer center in lower Manhattan to the experience not long ago of American Jews, whose synagogues were blocked and who were excluded from many neighborhoods. Is that an apt comparison? Did Jews murder 3,000 Americans, destroy the World Trade Center, and declare “Death to America” in the name of Judaism? Many in your article call on Jews to defend Muslims from the protests over the “Ground Zero mosque.” I sympathize with that, but why haven’t American Muslims similarly defended Jews from Islamic anti-Semitism, violence, and intimidation, which are spreading on college campuses throughout North America. As disclosed by Memri.org, horrific anti-Semitic rants are emanating from Islamic religious and political leaders every day, matching the worst tirades from Nazi Germany in the 1930s. While quick to demonstrate outrage over real and imagined expressions of “Islamophobia,” American Muslims are doing relatively nothing to prevent the buildup to the next Holocaust in the name of their religion. The imam of the proposed “Ground Zero mosque” cannot even bring himself to call Hamas a terrorist organization and brazenly declares that he will seek financing from Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Your editorialist and Shaheen Khateeb, a member of the Dar-Ul-Islah mosque, unwittingly offer an explanation for this phenomenon. Your editorialist writes, “One way to avert the threat of radicalization is to encourage the development of moderate Islam and those who speak for it.” If we need to encourage the development of moderate Islam, isn’t that an assertion that it does not now exist? Shaheen Khateeb similarly says, “if there is going to be a reformist movement in Islam, it is going to emerge from places like the [Ground Zero Mosque].” Note that big “if.” Isn’t Ms. Khateeb likewise asserting that a “reformist movement” in Islam is needed and that it does not now exist?
The obvious question is if Islam is a religion of peace, and if terrorists are perverting its teachings, then why do your editorialist, Ms. Khateeb, and so many others aver that it is in need of reform and moderation? Equally important, why hasn’t Islam already developed a reformist movement on its own? Though Jews suffered horribly from centuries of Christian and Muslim prejudice and second-class citizenship, they did not resort to suicide-murder. Christians today also suffer from murder, abuse, and discrimination in the Muslim world, far exceeding the prejudice encountered by Muslims in the West. Yet, no one fears that Christians in the Muslim world will become radicalized. Americans should not have to fear that this disagreement over the Ground Zero mosque will result in the radicalization of their American Muslim neighbors. If that worry is legitimate, as many in your article seem to assert, it says more about American Muslims than it does about their neighbors.