Saturday, March 16, 2013

Pass the Tasty Samosas Not Working So Well for the Jews of Toulouse

In the age of Zionhass and resurgent jihad (the two are not entirely unrelated), "outreach" will only get you so far. Which is to say, it won't ameliorate pathological loathing, a fact that the Jews of Toulouse have yet to figure out:
On a day-to-day basis, the most visible and consistent threat to the 20,000-30,000 Jews of Toulouse — over 90 per cent of whom are of Sephardi origin — comes from within the Muslim community. The specific problem in Toulouse, unlike Paris and other cities, Ms Yardéni asserts, is the “lack of a charismatic Muslim leader”.  
Crif and the other Jewish associations in Toulouse have repeatedly attempted to reach out to the city’s imams but found them lacking. “The imams’ speeches are more hateful than they were 10 years ago,” Ms Yardéni says, a reflection of the atmosphere on the street, on satellite television and the internet. 
Like the rest of France, Toulouse suffers from unemployment and a lack of education and opportunities for those living in the working-class banlieues. For Toulouse’s Muslims, there is an “absence of a positive identity”, Ms Yardéni believes, but also they “don’t see how they can belong” within a society that has failed to provide a satisfactory model for integration.
An "absence of positive identity"? I don't think so. I think they have a hammerlock on their positive identity, and that that, in fact, is the problem.

Update: Ottawa Jews get all interfaithy:
Highlighting similarities between Judaism and Islam, Benlolo referred to the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of his son Isma’il, which is found in both the Qur’an and the Torah.

Benlolo also presented the Muslim imam with a shofar, which he described as a symbol of Abraham’s sacrifice to God, a menorah, a Kiddush cup and a book of the history of the Beth Shalom Synagogue.

In return, Jebara gave the Jewish leader a carved wooden Qur’an holder, a hand-sewn prayer rug from Syria, handmade calligraphy of the Muslim declaration of faith, books teaching Arabic from the Cordova Academy, three copies of the Noble Qur’ans and a long blue string of prayer beads.
Interesting. The Jew went the "Abe-Our-Common-Pappy" route; the Muslim not so much. Notice, too, that the Jew gave the Muslims articles associated with Judaism, but, pointedly, did not give him a copy of the Torah. The Muslim, on the other hand, gave the Jew three, count 'em, three copies of the "Noble Qur'an," along with a handmade declaration of faith (the shahada).

Such gifts speak volumes, don't you think?

Update: I'd advise any Jew who wants to tread the Pappy Abe path to read Jon D. Levenson's invaluable book, Inheriting Abraham: The Legacy of the Patriarch in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. As Levenson explains, Abraham is actually a very divisive figure, and thus one unlikely to bring the three monotheisms together. Here are some pertinent passages:
...the position that underlies the discourse of the three Abrahamic religions is actually a version of religious humanism, one that is heavily invested in a vision of human unity. Whatever the value of this line of thinking, its choice of Abraham as its focus is disastrously misplaced...
What, then, are the salient shortcomings of the idea that there are three equally Abrahamic traditions? We have already seen one of them--its neglect of the great importance of communal specificity to each of the traditions and especially of the doctrine of election in Judaism and Christianity. In those two traditions, while Adam and Noah are the fathers of universal humanity, Abraham for the most part is seen as the father of the chosen community alone. That he is to be "the father of a multitude of nations" (not religions) does not obviate the explicit affirmation in the same chapter of Genesis that God's covenant is with Isaac and not with the ancestors of the other Abrahamic lineages (17:5, 21), In Islam, where Abraham is not the father of the faithful (and where descent is in that sense theologically irrelevant), he is a believer and a prophet who is eminently worthy of emulation. And the best way to emulate him is not by observing the Torah or the Gospel (admirable as those both are) but by following Muhammad, the prophet whom he so clearly foreshadow and who, like Abraham, restored the original, natural religion of humanity that idolaters, Jews, and Christians, all in their different ways, had lost.
Hence the Ottawa imam's gift of three Qur'ans and a shahada.

No comments: