Rabbiner Eric Yoffie, Prräsident der „Union for Reform Judaism”, die 1,5 Millionen Mitglieder in etwa 900 Synagogen hat, war am vergangenen Freitag Redner bei der Versammlung der Islamic Society of North America, kurz ISNA. Er war somit der erste jüdische Redner auf einer solchen Veranstaltung. In seiner Rede rief er die Muslime Nordamerikas dazu auf, sich für einen offenen Dialog zwischen Judentum und Islam einzusetzen und sich für eine Lösung des Nahostkonflikts stark zu machen; geht aber auch auf die Gefahren von religiösem Extremismus ein und versucht laut darüber nachzudenken, wie die jetzige Situation, in der dem Islam häufig offene Feindschaft entgegen schlägt, entstand.

There exists in this country among all Americans — whether Jews, Christians, or non-believers — a huge and profound ignorance about Islam. It is not that stories about Islam are missing from our media; there is no shortage of voices prepared to tell us that fanaticism and intolerance are fundamental to Islamic religion, and that violence and even suicide bombing have deep Koranic roots. There is no lack of so-called experts who are eager to seize on any troubling statement by any Muslim thinker and pin it on Islam as a whole. Thus, it has been far too easy to spread the image of Islam as enemy, as terrorist, as the frightening unknown. von hier

Einige Vorschläge bzw. Aussagen von Politikern zitiert er auch und wundert sich über die unverhohlene Feindschaft:

How did it happen that Christian fundamentalists, such as Pat Robertson and Franklin Graham, make vicious and public attacks against your religious tradition? How did it happen that when a Muslim congressman takes his oath of office while holding the Koran, Dennis Prager suggests that the congressman is more dangerous to America than the terrorists of 9/11? How did it happen that a member of Congress, Tom Tancredo, now running for President, calls for the bombing of Mecca and Medina? von hier

Aber auch Europa bekommt sein Fett weg. So wie die USA hier mittlerweile der große „Bösewicht” sind und kaum ein Comedien dieses Thema ausspart, so wird scheinbar die Europäische Union in den USA gesehen:

Compare this with the situation in Christian Europe. For centuries we were the “other” in Europe. The Europeans have little ability to deal with difference, and often show suspicion or outright contempt for people of faith. As you are well aware, there are places in Europe where wearing a headscarf to a public school is a punishable offense. What an outrage this is, what an abomination! In a global media culture that fawns over Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan, why should anyone criticize the voluntary act of a woman who chooses to wear a headscarf or a veil? Surely the choice these women make deserves our respect, not to mention the full protection of the law. America, fortunately, is different in this regard. What distinguishes America is our religiosity and our pluralism. More than 150 million Americans worship on a regular basis, in an astonishing number of denominations. Americans respect religion and believe in God, and they eventually learn to respect religions different from their own. If we add to this the great principle of church-state separation, we can be certain that our religious autonomy is assured. And we can conduct our dialogue not in despair but in hope, knowing that we will ultimately find a secure place in the American religious mosaic. von hier

Wie kommt man also heraus aus der Sackgasse in der wir stecken? Rabbiner Yoffie:

You will teach us about Islam and we will teach you about Judaism. We will help you to overcome stereotyping of Muslims, and you will help us to overcome stereotyping of Jews. We are especially worried now about anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. Anti-Semitism is not native to Islamic tradition, but a virulent form of it is found today in a number of Islamic societies, and we urgently require your assistance in mobilizing Muslims here and abroad to delegitimize and combat it. A measure of our success will be our ability, each of us, to discuss and confront extremism in our midst. As a Jew I know that our sacred texts, including the Hebrew Bible, are filled with contradictory propositions, and these include passages that appear to promote violence and thus offend our ethical sensibilities. Such texts are to be found in all religions, including Christianity and Islam The overwhelming majority of Jews reject violence by interpreting these texts in a constructive way, but a tiny, extremist minority chooses destructive interpretations instead, finding in the sacred words a vengeful, hateful God. Especially disturbing is the fact that the moderate majority, at least some of the time, decides to cower in the face of the fanatic minority — perhaps because they seem more authentic, or appear to have greater faith and greater commitment. When this happens, my task as a rabbi is to rally that reasonable, often-silent majority and encourage them to assert the moderate principles that define their beliefs and Judaism’s highest ideals. My Christian and Muslim friends tell me that precisely the same dynamic operates in their traditions, and from what I can see, that is manifestly so. Surely, as we know from the headlines, you have what I know must be for you as well as for us an alarming number of extremists of your own — those who kill in the name of God and hijack Islam in the process. It is therefore our collective task to strengthen and inspire one another as we fight the fanatics and work to promote the values of justice and love that are common to both our faiths. Auch von hier

Man kann nicht behaupten, Yoffie habe ein Thema ausgespart und das die Höflichkeit einen nicht dazu zwingt gewisse Themen auszusparen, zeigt die Rede eigentlich schon. Den ganzen Text gibt es hier.