Letter to the editor,
Responding to “Anti-Jewish Attitudes in Early Islam” by Alfred Schlicht.
Growing up in New Jersey, I was taught that Muslim and Jews have their destiny intertwined. Jews and Muslims in the United States are both minorities that must support each other. Having grown up with many Jewish friends, I was taught that a main driving force in Judaism is Tikkun Olam. As a Muslim American, I have also been taught that it is my duty to protect fellow Jewish Americans because if their rights are trampled upon then mine will be next.
Having grown up with my background, I was pained to read the article by Alfred Schlicht in the Atlanta Jewish Times. Mr. Schlicht wrote an incorrect translation of the Quran, stating that Surah 5, Verse 51 means “O you Believers, don’t take Jews and Christians as friends!” The actual translation of that surah is “O believers! Take neither Jews nor Christians as guardians—they will only guard each other.” There is a world of difference between the incorrect version written about in the June 18th article and the correct translation. Having grown up in New Jersey, I was taught by my friends and teachers about how anti-Semitic writings twist the words of Talmud and Torah. Reading the article by Mr. Schlicht reminded me of the anti-Semitic book “The Talmud Unmasked,” which misquoted Talmudic texts to vilify Jews.
When I read the internet tags for the article, I can see that it is under the tag “Israel.” While I understand the importance of Zionism and the need for the Jews to have a safe homeland, the article written by Mr. Schlicht is borderline Islamophobic. The destinies of American Jews and Muslims are intertwined. If the purpose of the Atlanta Jewish Times is to inform the Jewish Community about Muslims, it is my opinion that the article Mr. Schlicht wrote is not consistent with Tikkun Olam. Muslim and Jewish Americans have to work together to create a safe and harmonious environment for our children. Israel is a divisive issue. It is one thing to debate the merits of the need for Jews to have a safe homeland. However, it is very poisonous to American communities to spread beliefs that Muslim Americans don’t think Jewish Americans (or even Israelis) can be their friends.
Hasan Memon, M.D., Princeton, NJ