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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

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April 4, 2014

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Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

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The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review July 28, 2008 / 25 Tamuz 5768

More Perils of Interfaith Dialogue

By Steven Emerson

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | News reports indicate that the recent World Conference on Dialogue in Madrid ended with something less than the Kumbaya atmosphere both organizers and attendees had envisioned.

According to the reports, a presidential advisor from the United Arab Emirates urged attendees to "to distinguish between Judaism and Zionism," adding "I can speak to pacifists but not bellicists, who are in favor of war."

Rabbi Marc Schneier, chairman of the World Jewish Congress in North America, responded, saying "Israel is not a political issue... If you want to understand Judaism, then you need to understand that Israel is a core issue of our religion."

Jay Rosenbaum of Temple Israel in Lawrence, N.Y., went further, telling a New York Sun reporter that the comments were anti-Semitic, representing "the same old rhetoric that has led to more hatred and the building of a wall between the Jews and the Muslims for the last 60 years."

Here's hoping that the episode opens more eyes than just Rosenbaum's. After all, if Jewish leaders such as Schneier, David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee legitimize these meetings with their presence, how can representatives of any other faith challenge their wisdom? The same holds true for interfaith dialogue back home in America.

The Madrid conference is the latest in a long line of so-called interfaith dialogue initiatives between various leaders of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. It was sponsored by the Saudi monarch and organized by a man who justifies Palestinian suicide bombings and is alleged to have links to a senior Al Qaeda financier. (See "Organizer's Past Raises Questions About Madrid Interfaith Conference" for background.)

Now come new disclosures that the principal partner in domestic outreach, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), is rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood, the 80-year-old Egyptian society from which virtually all Sunni terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda, emerge. The Brotherhood's long range goal is to make Islam dominant throughout the world, not to seek a path to mutual understanding.

The time for ignoring these links or blaming the messenger has passed. It is a time for pointed questions, answered publicly. Those Jewish leaders, ever desperate to forge any common ground with self-styled mainstream Muslim organizations, must examine these new disclosures and explain why they believe in continued dialogue with people who are blatantly deceiving them.

They must challenge their outreach partners for credible explanations. At a time when Sami Al-Arian admits he was in the Muslim Brotherhood when ISNA was created, and that he co-founded ISNA, as the Investigative Project on Terrorism reported Tuesday, it's time to stop the "dialogue" and demand real answers.

Schneier, a participant at the aforementioned Madrid conference, and Eric Yoffie of the Union of Reform Judaism, are cases in point. Both have bent over backward to whitewash ISNA, currently named an unindicted co-conspirator by the government in a HAMAS financing trial in Dallas against the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF).

As reported in the New York Sun, on the topic of ISNA, the major Muslim Brotherhood umbrella group in the U.S.:

"People do evolve," says Rabbi Schneier, who told us that he has worked with the Islamic Society of North America to prepare a public service announcement with rabbis and imams jointly warning against anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and also to plan joint activities between synagogues and mosques that are set for November.

Evolve? ISNA denies having anything from which it has to evolve. And this is Schneier at the Madrid Conference opening:

Rabbi Marc Schneier, North American chairman of the World Jewish Congress, said King Abdullah was reaching out to other faiths to counter extremists and fanatics within Islam.

"What I heard from him is that 'I represent Islam, and I am the voice of moderation'," said Schneier.

So the leading exporter of Wahabbi Islam, who refused to invite any Israelis (the one rabbi with Israeli citizenship at the conference, the AJC's David Rosen, was listed on the program as an American), let alone have the conference on Saudi soil, is somehow a voice of moderation. Adding to his "moderate" credentials, Abdullah invited a radical, pro-Islamist Jewish leader who attended the Iranian president's 2006 Holocaust denial conference:

Some other Jewish officials invited to the conference are more controversial, including Rabbi David Weiss, whose group, Neturei Karta, objects to the creation of Israel on the grounds that it violates Jewish religious law.

At a 2006 gathering in Tehran hosted by hard-line Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Weiss made headlines by saying the number of Jews said to have been killed in the Holocaust was inflated.

Given that, how surprising is it to learn that the Madrid conference featured former neo-Nazi leader William Baker? There is no report of any protest for Baker's inclusion. The Associated Press quoted Rosen after the conference opened:

"What is historic about this is that it is organized by the king of Saudi Arabia," he told the Associated Press. "To hear the king of Saudi Arabia talk about tolerance, moderation and cooperation between the religions to address contemporary challenges is quite something."

When asked what he hoped to get out of the three-day gathering, Rosen added:

"The significance of this event is the fact that it is happening. I didn't have any great expectations with regards to the intellectual content."

Michael Lerner, editor of the liberal Tikkun magazine. Lerner wrote a fairly glowing assessment of the conference's opening, acknowledging dramatic change could take years, but finding the Madrid meeting a key step in the right direction:

I came away from this direct time with the Saudis with the distinct impression that I had helped foster more positive notions about who Americans are, who Jews are, and what Israelis are about. I believe that this happened in many other conversations that took place in the hallways between the 20 or so Jews at the conference and the hundreds of Muslims and Christians. While some of those Jews probably conveyed the same stuckness and stubbornness that Israel and the American Jewish establishment always conveys, there were fresh thinkers like Rabbi Michael Paley, Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, Rabbi Phyllis Berman, Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Rabbi Marc Gopin, Rabbi Scott Sperling and Rabbi David Rosen who each have creative and exciting ideas on how to continue this dialogue. For that, as for many other aspects of this set of conversations, I give thanks to God for the opportunity that I have had to serve the causes of peace and reconciliation!

In an email to Lerner shared with the IPT, Ali Alyami, the executive director of the Washington-based Center for Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, told the rabbi's his high hopes were not warranted:

The Madrid Conference has two objectives: One is to spread the deadly Wahhabi ideology and the other to silence critics of Saudi gross violations of basic human rights and hate for non-Muslims. With due you respect, you missed the point completely. According to the secretariat of the Muslim World League (the extremist organizer of the conference you praise profusely) "The conference does not aim to unite religions or to reconcile between them…the differences are there through God's wisdom and will. The objective of the conference is to spread knowledge {Wahhabism} and encourage cooperation in hope of attaining positive coexistence." The Saudis fed you a lot of false information and you bought it. This is tragic. (emphasis original)

Meanwhile, Yoffie, who spoke at ISNA's convention in Chicago last summer and has a history of partnering with ISNA, has said, in a statement posted on ISNA's website:

We chose ISNA as our partner because it is the closest equivalent to the Union within the American Muslim community. It has issued a strong and unequivocal condemnation of terror, including a specific condemnation of Hizbollah and Hamas terror against Jews and Israelis.

True, one can find this statement, "ISNA rejects all acts of terrorism, including those perpetrated by HAMAS, Hizbullah and any other group that claims Islam as their inspiration" on ISNA's website. ISNA rather slyly only generally "rejects" the violent acts: its officials refuse to condemn both groups, will not label either as terrorist organizations, but instead refer to HAMAS favorably as the "democratically-elected Palestinian government."[1] ISNA studiously ignores the HAMAS Charter, a virulently anti-Semitic tract which states that, "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it" and the fact that violent jihad is a core principal of HAMAS and Hezbollah. More on this below, as ISNA's own website contains similar anti-Jewish sentiments.

And unfortunately for Schneier and Yoffie, their timing on ISNA's alleged evolution and condemnation of terrorist groups, respectively, could not have been worse. Just last week, in documents presented in the HLF case, federal prosecutors said of ISNA:

HLF raised money and supported HAMAS through a bank account it held with ISNA as NAIT [the North American Islamic Trust]. Indeed, HLF (under its former name, OLF) operated from within ISNA, in Plainfield, Indiana… ISNA checks deposited into the ISNA/NAIT account for the HLF were often made payable to "the Palestinian Mujahadeen," the original name for the HAMAS military wing. From that ISNA/NAIT account, the HLF sent hundreds of thousands of dollars to HAMAS leader Mousa Abu Marzook, Nadia Elashi (defendant Ghassan Elashi's cousin and Marzook's wife), Sheikh Ahmed Yassin's Islamic Center of Gaza, the Islamic University and a number of other individuals associated with HAMAS.

As I have previously reported, ISNA's support of HAMAS is not merely financial, but the group was also a vocal supporter of HAMAS leader Mousa Abu Marzook, using the pages of its magazine, Islamic Horizons, to both whitewash HAMAS' bloody history and engage in thinly veiled anti-Semitism. For example, in the November/December 1995 issue of Islamic Horizons, almost a full year after HAMAS was officially designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. government, an article titled "Muslim Leader Hostage to Israeli Interests" characterized Marzook as:

[a] member of the political wing of Hamas, disliked by the Zionist entity for its Islamic orientation, continues to be held hostage in the U.S. at the whims of his Zionist accusers.

And, more than two years after HAMAS' designation as a terrorist group, in the September/October 1997 issue, Islamic Horizons published an article describing Marzook as:

[j]ailed without trial in New York for-months for alleged ties to organizations seeking Palestinian rights.

This is an almost unbelievable contention, if not for the fact that it was uttered by the house organ of a major Muslim Brotherhood front organization.

Now, despite the documented evidence, ISNA says it has no connection - and indeed that it never had any connection - to the Muslim Brotherhood. And apparently Rabbi Schneier not only takes the group's word - again, in face of the actual evidence - but claims that ISNA has somehow "evolved." Since ISNA unabashedly claims no connection to the Muslim Brotherhood, it is true the group has evolved, just not in the way Schneier suggests, since the transparent lies of ISNA's leadership have grown even bolder, which is an evolution of sorts.

And ISNA's ties to the most virulent anti-Israel terrorist groups are hardly the only complication when it comes to "interfaith dialogue," especially with Jews, despite Rabbi Yoffie's assurances to the contrary.

A cursory look at the "library" page on ISNA's website includes the following passages about Jews (as well as four other, similar in nature to those in the HAMAS Charter) used to justify extremist violence against both Israelis and Jews around the world by the most radical of Islamist terrorists:

Book 41, Number 6985:

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.

Perhaps Schneier and Yoffie are unaware of ISNA's invocation of this Hadith - which plainly states that Muslims need to kill the Jews to bring about the end of times. Or perhaps they are aware, but choose to look the other way. Either way, pining for the mass slaughter of Jews by Muslims to usher in paradise should be a disqualifier for any sort of interfaith dialogue between Muslims and Jews.

Schneier, who has a history of failed outreach efforts, should know better. In November 2006, he attempted "interfaith dialogue" with a leader of the largest mosque in New York, with less than optimum results:

One of the last widely publicized Jewish outreach efforts to Muslims was made last November by Rabbi Marc Schneier, spiritual leader of the New York Synagogue. But it backfired when Imam Omar Abu Namous of the Islamic Cultural Center, who was invited to the rabbi's synagogue for a dialogue, unleashed a barrage of criticism of Israel - even questioning its legitimacy - as a stunned congregation watched. Rabbi Schneier said later that the incident "opened my eyes to the reality that we have a long way to go."

Actual constructive interfaith dialogue can only come when Islamist groups own up to their past and present support for terrorist groups. For ISNA's part, only after a sort of "truth and reconciliation" construct, in which the group's leadership admits its history of support for HAMAS, former U.S.-based HAMAS leader Mousa Abu Marzook, and various and sundry other Palestinian and Islamist terror organizations (all documented by federal prosecutors, by the way) should the organization begin to earn trust. Indeed, the various Jewish representatives who overlook these ties in the name of "interfaith dialogue," themselves are engaged in a huge disservice to everyone who deplores Islamist terrorism and extremism, and have no place as religious or community leaders.

[1] "US Muslim coalition condemns Israeli action in Gaza," The Muslim News, July 11, 2006, http://www.muslimnews.co.uk/news/news.php?article=11322.

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JWR contributor Steven Emerson is an internationally recognized expert on terrorism and national security and considered one of the leading world authorities on Islamic extremist networks, financing and operations. He now serves as the Executive Director of The Investigative Project on Terrorism, one of the world’s largest archival data and intelligence institutes on Islamic and Middle Eastern terrorist groups.

© 2008, Steven Emerson