FFEU In The News 2017
One week ago, when white nationalists, white supremacists, Ku Klux Klan members and neo-Nazis shouted phrases like “Jews will not replace us” and “white lives matter,” Simmons and Schneier saw the very hatred they have worked together for decades to combat.
“When it comes to standing up to evil, there is no moral ambiguity," he said.
We must stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters and forcefully push back if steps are taken that violate their constitutionally protected rights as American citizens... If we resolve together to stand up for each other and to protect the rights of Muslims and other faith or ethnic communities that might be demonized or discriminated against, there is no question that we will prevail over fear and bigotry.
The message of this evening was one of welcome and acceptance. At a time when Muslims are feared and singled out in America, including by our president, the consul general of Israel made them the first guests in his new home.
Israeli Consul General of Los Angeles Sam Grundwerg and the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding hold an Iftar meal with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Russell Simmons and Jewish/Muslim religious leaders to promote dialogue between the two communities.
From Berkeley to Brooklyn to Brussels, Muslims and Jews are sharing the iftar meal and helping turn the tide against polarization.
“In our practice of serving God, there is no more essential service that we can provide than teaching people to connect and see themselves in each other,” said Simmons, according to the release.
"Those who pit us against each other do so, not out of spiritual beliefs, but rather for their own political and financial enrichment," said Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
"We have seen hundreds of debates about Islam and identity, but apart from Marine Le Pen, no one is addressing the losers of globalisation." Samia Hathroubi, FFEU's European Director.
"Walter Ruby, the program director for the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, which promotes cooperation and understanding between Muslims and Jews, said that examples of solidarity between the groups in recent months 'very much jibe with what the poll says.'
He pointed to the examples of Muslims who have raised funds for desecrated Jewish cemeteries and of Jews who have opposed the Trump administration’s travel bans on people from majority Muslim countries.
'There is a common interest, a common sense of vulnerability,' he said."
"The hate has escalated over the years, and I think it’s all this dialogue about hate that has made us all kind of band together. The Muslim community is now put in a group of people at risk: Every woman, every African American, every Latino, every marginalized group are at risk. So now, we start to turn to each other for support – for protection. We are looking out for each other."
On March 26, our European Program Director, Samia Hathroubi, led our annual program, Sadaqa Tsadaka Project, where young Jews and Muslims were welcomed by Rabbi Yann Boissière, at the Liberal Synagogue of Paris, for a day full of activities. The young Muslims, coming from the mosque of Sevran, took part in a didactic Seder of Pessah, and a workshop of calligraphy in Hebrew/Arabic. Next month, their Jewish counterpart will be invited to the Mosque of Sevran.
"Rabbi Marc Schneier and Imam Shamsi Ali from the Foundation For Ethnic Understanding both said a few words. The group’s mission is 'to reduce tensions among diverse racial and ethnic communities.' Rabbi Schneier decried the Trump administration’s decision to declare 'open season' on Muslims, and compared the current climate to the ninth biblical plague, 'the plague of darkness, a darkness that affected the heart (...) when we do not see one another and do not care for one another.'”
“I’ve had a wonderful, wonderful relationship with them,” said Walter Ruby, the Washington-based Muslim-Jewish relations programs director with the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding. “It’s really not right to attack a mosque, a whole community, that’s doing wonderful work today.”
“We are here to show middle America our beautiful signs and, through our beautiful actions and intentions, that they have been misled,” he said. “They’ll see our rally; they’ll question their government.”
"We love this country, and we want to be accepted. This is our home," Navarro said.
Co-organised by hip hop mogul Russell Simmons, rabbi Marc Schneier and imam Shamsi Ali, the event, which stretched back multiple city blocks, saw a range of speakers who declared, amid the unseasonable February sunshine: “Today, I am a Muslim too.”
More than a thousand people of various faiths attended the "I Am a Muslim Too" rally, which was held in Times Square on Sunday and was organized by several groups, including the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding.
“We are here because we will not be cogs in this machine that is dismantling our Constitution; that is dismantling our Bill of Rights,” Simmons said.
Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at the peaceful rally, saying “we have to dispel the stereotypes” and that America is “a country founded to protect all faiths and all beliefs.”
The Times Square protest was organized by Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and the Nusantara Foundation in response to Trump’s travel ban, which prohibited refugees and citizens of seven mostly Muslim nations from entering the United States.
New Yorkers of various backgrounds and faiths turned out for the peaceful rally, which was coordinated by several organizations, including the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and the Jamaica Muslim Center.
“As a Muslim, I came here to America where I was 17 years old. I consider this my country,” Sarowar told the Voice. “So it doesn’t matter what religion or ethnicity you came here as, everybody comes seeking America because of the freedom of religion.”
“An attack on anybody’s faith is an attack on all people of faith,” de Blasio told the crowd in Times Square. “I’m proud to say today I am a Muslim, too,” he said. “This is about defending everything the country has always been about.”
The Today, I Am A Muslim Too rally took over the Crossroads of the World was led by speakers including hip-hop pioneer Russell Simmons, Rabbi Marc Schneier and Imam Shamsi Ali.
Organizers said the event was planned in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order barring travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days.
The rally comes after Trump signed an executive order temporarily barring visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. The order also puts a temporary halt on the acceptance of refugees and an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees.
"We have to acknowledge there's a change in our country. We have been fighting Islamophobia for many years, but there is a shift towards more hate crimes and more hate," Simmons added Sunday. "But at the same time, we have to recognize there's also an acknowledgement of that hate and a connectivity that it brings, and a partnership and unity that it brings, so we can have this lovefest today."
“We must not fear in the face of oppression," said rally speaker Reverend N.J. L'Heureux Jr. of Queens, adding that our country is stronger than President Trump. "We must work together and stand solidly together."
"Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons joins Joy Reid’s panel discussing the ‘I Am a Muslim Too’ rally being held Saturday in New York City, and the rising tide of protests against Donald Trump’s immigration and other policies."
"I think now that he's in office, people need to talk to him," he said. "He doesn't realize how much his works will be looked at as horrible in the future. He will leave a legacy of hate and America is moving towards greater love."
"I ask you ... that you commit to being part of the true, never-again generation," Sarsour told the crowd. "Not on our watch, not on my watch, not on your watch."
“We are standing here at this moment in history when it no longer possible to be neutral. If you are silent, then you are complicit.”
"So we are here today to show middle America our beautiful signs and, through our beautiful actions and intention, that they have been misled -- that the seeds of hate that were small and maybe just ignorance cannot be watered, and that hate cannot grow because we are here to assist them in promoting love," Simmons told the crowd.
“We are focused on things that are not helpful to America, we’re using the Muslim community as a scapegoat. We are being mean to the people who are the victims of terrorism. All of the diversity we see here today will prevail.”
"We are living in a time when unity will make America great. This is a special moment for all Americans of goodwill to band together to promote the kind of compassion and equality for others that we want for ourselves."
"I am a member of all of the spiritual communities," Simmons said in a phone interview. "I feel that I am a Muslim today if you need me to be. I am a Jew today if you need me to be. I am a Christian today if you need me to be. It just seems to me that I should protect my brother because I am my brother."
“Everyone except white privileged males are in immediate danger,” Simmons said in a statement. “African Americans, women, Latinos, Asians and LGBTQ are all at risk, but there is no freedom in that privileged status either because the spirit of the oppressor is oppressed as well. We are living in a time when unity will make America great. This is a special moment for all Americans of good will to band together to promote the kind of compassion and equality for others that we want for ourselves”
We the people declare Trump’s ban as morally, politically, economically, and ethically unconstitutional. Trump did not win the popular vote and does not represent the voice of the people. We have taken to the streets in record numbers to remind him of this every day of his presidency —- swaying many of our senators, mayors, assembly members, and members of Congress to join the resistance from within. Trump’s hateful ban violates international law by openly endorsing discrimination against one targeted religion.
"As we await the advent of the new Trump administration, it is more important than ever for our community to reconnect with that uplifting chapter in American history half a century ago. We should do so not for the purpose of self-congratulatory platitudes, but rather because we face a similar moment of moral testing now.
Just as many Jews risked their very lives to go to the South in the 1960s in support of our African-Americans brothers and sisters, we must show similar courage and fortitude today and stand up for American Muslims, whose civil and human rights are under attack".
2016 was unquestionably a difficult year.
Throughout the yearlong presidential campaign, we saw a worrisome uptick in expressions of bigotry, including Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and anti-Hispanic and anti-immigrant rhetoric; much of it clearly in response to demagogic rhetoric in the campaign itself. Since the election on November 8, the number of hate crimes have soared. Mosques, synagogues and other houses of worship across the country have been desecrated by swastikas and hateful slogans, while in diverse cities, Muslim women have been assaulted by bigots, intent on tearing off their hijabs.