National Muslim Jewish Interfaith Iftar: A Common Destiny for Humanity

June 7, 2020

On May 21st, 2020, the Combat Anti-Semitism Movement & the American Muslim & Multifaith Women’s Empowerment Council co-hosted the National Muslim Jewish Interfaith Iftar: A Common Destiny for Humanity. United States and United Nations officials were among the prominent leaders who participated, issuing a strong call for communities to join together to defeat anti-Semitism and other hatreds as the world grapples with COVID-19.

In total, over 11,000 people were reached through Zoom and Facebook Live.

The event also featured imams, rabbis, priests and other religious leaders from the Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Zoroastrian and Christian communities, who examined the need for greater tolerance, respect and cooperation especially during the Coronavirus crisis.

This event was a real interfaith celebration, which shows that it is possible to come together and build a better world for our children. We are opening the doors to learn from one another. The Coronavirus crisis has seen a sharp rise in anti-Semitic and other hate incidents. Now more than ever, there is a great need for tolerance and respect between individuals and communities.

Human rights icon Natan Sharansky said, “The war against Coronavirus sends an important message, that there are wars which we can only win together, by being united. Some voices of hatred have spoken about Jews and Israel being behind coronavirus. But these are the days in which people are working together and are saving each other. I believe that a very optimistic message is emerging.”

US Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor & Combat Anti-Semitism Ellie Cohanim described her Jewish family’s lengthy history in Iran, prior to the Islamic Revolution, commenting that “Persian Jews had lived among their neighbours in harmony for millenia. Sadly, the twentieth century saw the dispersal of around one million Jews from the region.” She took aim at “Ayatollah Khomenei who just this week mentioned the idea of a ‘final solution’.” However, she noted that “We are seeing certain realignments in the region…” She concluded, “When I look into the future, I am very hopeful that we can build bridges again between Arabs and their former nieghbors and that those who want a lasting true peace will see that day happen.”

US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback commented that, “Coronavirus has essentially put us in our homes and made us reflect and think about what happens when people work together to solve a problem. We have to figure out ways to work together in respect and mutual care. It is our moment to step up and show the world that faith is a tool of peace and not a tool of war.”

UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Dr. Ahmed Shaheed commented, “These difficult times make it even more important to cherish the religious values which are united under the golden rule – Do to others as we would have done to us. Today, the entrepreneurs of hatred have incited harm and violence. Anti-Semitism is a global menace and a threat to everyone. We must encourage the love of shared humanity.”

Judea Pearl, the father of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, called the event “A great tribute to my son Daniel Pearl, who was murdered eighteen years ago. He was a bridge-builder. His murder tried to sow divisions among us, but it sowed the opposite. His last words became an iconic reminder that the wave of terror, violence and hatred is aimed not at a tribe or country, but the very fabric of society.”

Former Pakistani diplomat, author, poet and academic Dr. Akbar Ahmed, who has worked closely alongside Judea Pearl commented, “I look now at the virus in a collective sense. We must very quickly help the world to understand how connected we are. Love and compassion are absolutely vital. That is what drives us irrespective of our cultures and our religions.”

Additionally, a video message was sent by US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, who said “During these challenging times, breaking bread together can break down barriers and replace them with mutual respect and tolerance. Standing together with a sense of unity can help us confront even the toughest of problems.”

In another video message, Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) commented, “With hate crimes on the rise in America, it is more important than ever that Jews and Muslims stand together to turn back the tide of bigotry. This event embodies those values, bringing people together.”

Together, we can follow these inspirational words to help build a better, more tolerant post-COVID-19 world.