I have been sharing these two stories about how Muslims and Jews stereo type each other and yet, when asked individually, they would seek the truth. I hope through this story, we learn a lesson and speak up the truth, in the long haul, every one would be better off.
I was with a group of Jews after the movie "the monster among us" shown in a local auditorium.
I made copiuos notes about the 72 minute movie, and after the moive, there was a demand from audience to know if a Muslim had seen the movie, and there was a lady who said, I have many Muslim women friends, this movie does not reflect anthing like them. The barrage of questions was endless and I kept raising my hand to address some of the questions, but it took a chorus from the audience "give him the microphone" to get me to speak for a few brief moments.
Indeed the first thing I did was to hug a holocaust survivor who literally cried during the movie and during his comment. I wanted him to know that we are all humans and we need to be together in sharing the sorrows and joys.
I spoke about the movie, and condmned the ugly parts about anti-semitism in Europe, the efforts of the producer were lauded for bringing this to the fore. However, there were serious mistakes made in the movie, either they were deliberately made to fish money out by scaring the Jews who have survived the holocaust or a have made a genuine mistake.
The producer had warned me that the movie is one sided, "strictly a Jewish opinion" that made me want to see that perspective to understand and bring about a solution. In the movie, there was a Jewish professor of Islam in France, who said unlike the Jews and Christians, Muslims don't beleive in the messiah and beleive Muhammad will come and kill or convert every one to be a Muslim. The producer argued about the professors credentials, and I laid it out, that he did not know that aspect of Islam and challenged the audience to pick up the phone and call 100 Muslims randomly to verify this, and make their own determination. It is a cooked up lie to support the movie and further to cash on the fears. There were several flaws in the movie, another one was a man with a beard saying hateful things towards Jews and a book was shown nearby him to create the false impression that it was the Qur'aan he was speaking from.
After the conversations, some 15 people gathered around me with more questions, then I narrated a story about Muslims in the same situation.
I was attending a dinner some five years ago, and after the initial prayers people formed smaller groups for conversation while the food was getting ready to be delivered. I was in a group of about 15 with an Imam in the center. The Imam was telling a story of an acquisition of a Synagogue some where in W.Virginia or one of those states... and concluded that " we beat them Jews in the deal and got it and it is a mosque today".
I jumped at him without blinking an eye, "Prophet Muhammad would not have liked this" I continued, "he would have condemned it, for it breeds ill-will towards a people without any reason"
There was a dead silence and I was worried which way it was going to go, but speaking the truth was paramount, then one of the guys broke that eternal silence of some five seconds and said, "Mike is right, why do we need to hate the Jews?" then one after the other every one nodeed in agreement. I looked up at the Imam, he apologized and I asked him "never do it again" and I have watched him several times after that, thank God, he has fixed himself up.
What I would like you to think about is that critical moment; had the silent been broken by the wrong guy and question me instead, "Mike he is the Imam, he knows what he is talking about, you better apologize to him" do you think the other sheep would have all jumped with him? I considered that, but speaking the truth is paramount, the eveil exists in the world because good people do nothing about it. I would have considered myself evil, had I remained silent. Would you feel the same in a situation like that?
After the story, I asked the Jews around me, by a raise of your hand how many of you would speak out against some one manufacturing ill-will towards Muslims, even it suits them? Every hand went up.
I congratulated them for being honest and forthright and told them... you know it is a coincidene that those Muslims were also 15 and every one spoke against the wrong, and now you have done the same... what if the group was 100, would I get the same response? The hands went up again. The same thing is true with Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus or any people.
Shame on us, many of us would walk away from the perceived trouble, it is as though encouraging the wrongdoers to go ahead. We worry about what the Jewish or Muslim or other gangsters are going to do to us if we spoke up? They would not spare Jimmy Carter or Salman Rushdie, they will make their lives miserable. That is fascism to hound the people who speak up.
My friends, this was a great example I have witnessed of stereotyping each other without logic or brains. People are inherently good but we need to keep them up and not let them fall into the pit of connivance.
If you are a Jew, Muslim, Christian, Hindu or otherwise, would you take a pledge to yourselves that you will speak out when some one is falsfying or spewing ill-will towards others, Even if it suits you?
It is you and your conscience and your solitude.
Let's change the world, one at a time. Let's become the change we want it to be like Mahatma Gandhi had said.