(June 3, 2018 / JNS)
Sara Yael Hirschhorn alerted me to a problem.
I am v[ery] disturbed by both personal & professional attacks on my friend and colleague @WajahatAli—I can only hope it will attract even more well-deserved attention to his recent @TheAtlantic article/film “A #Muslim Among the #Settlers”
Sara, my friend, is the author of A City on a Hilltop, an academic study of my generation of immigrants to Israel who moved to the liberated territories of Eretz Yisrael, positing that we “were not messianic zealots or right-wing extremists but idealists engaged in liberal causes.” We did not abandon our progressive heritage, but “saw a historic opportunity to create new communities to serve as a beacon—a “city on a hilltop”—to Jews across the globe. This pioneering vision was realized in their ventures at Yamit in the Sinai, and Efrat and Tekoa in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
I was interviewed for the book (a picture of me appears in it), and I assisted her with resources. I had hoped the book would deal with a parallel theme the success or lack thereof of Americans in YESHA, the Hebrew acronym for Yehudah, Shomron v’Azza, within the movement to resettle our historic patrimony, to shape it or lead it, but someone else will do that eventually.
As it happened, Wajahat, a Pakastani Muslim who is also a New York Times op-ed contributor, was disinvited from the 55th annual conference of the Islamic Society of North America, a leading American Muslim organization. His “crime”? Talking to Zionists, writing an article about it and thanking God for a bowel movement.
In a response, Wajahat wrote:
In a one-page letter, the program committee chair wrote that “our Muslim speakers” are “expected to support broadly our values,” including “our community’s support for the Palestinian people of all faith traditions, in their struggle against occupation and dispossession.” He added that he found my “recent work … troubling.” He also objected to my “continued use of language referencing Allah in manners not befitting His Majesty, whether in jest or otherwise.”
The proximate trigger for the letter appears to have been my story in The Atlantic’s June issue, “A Muslim Among the Settlers.”
I may have been partly responsible for his dilemma.
He came to my home in Shiloh last year, I served coffee and tea, and we visited Tel Shiloh. We talked, and the interview lasted about two hours or so. Too bad I didn’t make it into the print piece, but I think I was OK in the video.
I will leave Wajahat to fight his battles with fellow Muslims, as anything I could contribute would not provide him any advantage. But there is just one comment I’d like to make about that Islamic Society group’s statement.
I reread it and spotted this:
“our Muslim speakers” are “expected to support broadly our values,” including “our community’s support for the Palestinian people of all faith traditions.”
Does “the Palestinian people of all faith traditions” include Jews?
Can Jews live in a state of “Palestine”? Can a Jew be a “Palestinian”? And if so, can he then be a Zionist?
I do know that when a Jew ascends the Temple Mount, he is thought of desecrating the holy site with his filthy feet, as Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas declared. We defile.
Islamic theology has it that we Jews violated our covenant with God as regards practicing commandments, and therefore, we are as pigs and apes.
I wouldn’t want Wajahat to lose faith. But I do wish he clarify exactly what is the Islamic view of Jews and our rights as a people.
Yisrael Medad is an American-born Israeli journalist and author.