I have had to take a long step back and observe, read and think about the Peace Ring initiative by Norwegian Muslim youths.
Of course I am happy that Norwegian youths, regardless of their religious background step up to the plate and say no to violence. I can’t stand the damned if you do and damned if you don’t attitude that seems to be the way to evaluate events these days. I also find the two following – almost automatic assumptions – quite claustrophobic:
1: The assumed automatic enmity between Jews and Muslims. While we must not ignore the incendiary sermons delivered in many mosques, and tackle head on the many expressions of extreme anti-Semitism that seems to be passed on from generation to generation in some Muslim communities, it would be very cynical to pretend that at the same time, strong bonds and great friendships do not exist. A tricky line to draw, I’m aware of that, but we Jews say that if one person saves even one life, it is as if he saved the whole world. A mitzvah – a good deed – is a good deed and to be cynical about is destructive and not helpful at all.
2: The assumed automatic indecency of a person based on their religion. Well, come on guys, you can certainly relate to this? Do I need to spell it out for you, the Jewish experience in Europe over the last two millennia?
I much prefer to let the good deed of these youths shine on its own merit. Hence my heart bursts with pride.
At the same time, I’m deeply concerned about the white wash of the above mentioned unhealthy attitudes that seem to thrive in many Muslim communities. There is no denying that sadly, with increasing immigration of predominantly Muslims, coupled with a dangerous political fear of engaging with difficult issues hand in hand with political opportunism to secure votes, never mind if you cross boundaries that ought to be etched into every politicians ethical skeleton – it has become much more difficult to be Jewish in Europe (see this link to jog your memory). It simply won’t do to pretend that a relatively small rally in Oslo, is a sign that all of these problems are about to evaporate.
I am concerned that journalists and politicians grasp at straws and fail to do their job. Nobody challenged the organisers of the event on their anti-Israel stand. By stating that they have no sympathy for Israel, are they then also saying that they have no sympathy with the roughly 7 million or so of us Jews who live there? Wouldn’t that be a logical question to pose? In stead, anti-Isralism has both been promoted and tolerated, as if any of the above mentioned responsible people in position of power are so intellectually challenged that they cannot see that anti-Israelism and anti-zionism both represent the new anti-Semitism. And its as toxic and dangerous as the old style antisemitism, traditionally oozing out of extreme right wing, neo-nazi-like groups, whereas nowadays its the new chic, lefty, trendy thing.
If Norwegian politicians and journalists alike had done their job professionally, they would have been spared the lampooning that goes on in international media now. If there had been any serious attempt to challenge, confront, dig deeper, then they would have been spared the humiliation of being dissected on Breitbart.com (that has more readers than all the Norwegian newspapers put together).
For their lacklustre performance, we now have a situation where a marvellous gesture that could – should – have been debated with the urgency the topic requires now in stead is being lampooned, presented as a hoax, an emotional outburst without any significant meaning beyond the head lines it created. And we are no closer to acknowledging and dealing with it either, as anybody who has had a go at doing the job professionals should have done, have themselves been framed in the Norwegian media, accused of spoiling the party.
Luckily, we can trust that mad man Trond Ali Linstad to shoot off his mouth, baring for all to see, the terrible crater under the nice words:
lifted from vg.no (google translate)
Muslim Linstad: – peace ring is a serious error
Trustees in the synagogue: Shows that Linstad is part of the problem
Hajrah (17) – We’re with you! Play video
MONA Byrkjedalsgryta and SILJE LØVSTAD THJØMØE
Hand in hand formed Norwegian Muslims the planned ring around the Jewish place of worship in Oslo. It believes the prominent Muslim Trond Ali Linstad was a mistake.
The terrorist attack in Copenhagen
Norwegian Muslims formed Saturday a human ring around the synagogue to show that they deplore Jew harassment, after the terrorist attacks in Paris and Copenhagen. About 1300-1400 people attended the synagogue on St. Hanshaugen in Oslo.
It gets the doctor and Muslim Trond Ali Linstad to react:
– This is a serious mistake. The intention behind the event is good: To show solidarity to a minority group that is exposed is good, but to express support for an institution in Oslo, which is a Zionist institution, is problematic, says Linstad to VG, and continues:
– Zionism is the driving force behind the expulsion of Palestinians and the occupation of Palestinian land. Zionism is also reason for the difference in treatment in Israel, where Palestinians are not given full rights. We won’t ring fence this.
Disputed Linstad was awarded King’s Medal of Merit in silver in 2012, but later ruled King Harald himself that Merit should be deleted. Several criticized the award, partly because of Linstad statements about Jews:
“Be critical of Jews in the world, when it comes to the influence they have,” wrote Linstad including in a blog post in 2010.
– Can be misused
For Linstad it was unacceptable to attend Saturday’s ceremony in Oslo.
– Initiators wrong by holding the event at this institution. The intention is good, but the concrete results could be perceived as, and abuse of, support for Zionism. We must sustain support for the Palestinians and reject Zionism. We must not be ambiguous about it, he says.
President Ervin Kohn, in the Jewish community rejects the criticism and wants instead to achieve dialogue with Muslims.
– Linstad statement shows that he is part of the problem. He is part of the sphere who would fortify enemy images, and it is contrary to those who have made this marker want to get away. We need to achieve dialogues together, so that we can begin to live together and get the world to continue in the right direction, says Kohn VG.
– Will show support
Linstad get no support from the initiator Zeeshan Abdullah (37) behind the event “Peace ring.”
– We want to show our support for the Jews after the terror in Copenhagen. By turning the ring around the synagogue we will demonstrate to people that Jews and Muslims do not hate each other. We do not want individuals to have to define what Islam is for all of us, says Abdullah.
In 2009 held Ali Chishti speech “Therefore I hate Jews and gays.” It was compared with Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.” Today he was one of the initiators of turning ring around the Jewish synagogue in Oslo.
– We have a long shared history that is not about hatred and anti-Semitism, but of harmony and tolerance. It is not a widespread hatred of Jews among Muslims, but a few are trying to create an enemy image. The extreme points that emerge through the media is something we do not recognise us, says Chishti VG.
Researching extremist Islamism, Lars Gule, calls the event unique.
– This is a unique celebration, and it also shows international attention. It says that Norwegian Muslims are beginning to find a voice, Gule tells VG