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March 13, 2009

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PAGE 18A Darfur From page 1A organizations encouraged local communities to pursue Jewish-Muslim dialogue on common concerns such as civil liberties issues and fight- ing racism and prejudice. "Differences remain" among the two communi- ties, the document says, but "they should not necessarily preclUde efforts to dialogue." Its advocates say the resolu- tion will provide "guidance" to local communities. Jack . Moline. a Conservative rabbi from Alexandria, Va.. who helped craft the statement. says it simply says that "'we should be treating Muslims like any other partner in dialogue." Some critics argued that the resolution did not provide Muslim enough guidance on contro- versial issues. Holder: No clash between ideals, security U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder received a standing ovation before he started speaking on the morning of March 2. "This is definitely my kind of audience." he said inre- sponse. The main theme of Holder's 15-minute talk was that the conflict between fighting ter- rorism and protecting "'our tradition of civil liberties" is not a "zero-sum battle." Such an idea is not only "misguid- ed." he said, but "has done us more harm than good." After the speech Holder held an hourlong, off-the- record meeting with about a dozen top JCPA leaders on legal topics from torture to church-state issues. "It was a deep, substan- tive discussion," said JCPA Washington director Hadar Susskind, adding that the attorney general saw the meeting as the "first step in building an open and en- gaged relationship with the Jewish community." How big a tent? The Jewish Council for Public Affairs Plenum's March I discussion of "How Big a Tent for Pro-Israel Ad- vocacy?" marked the debut of a new face inside the tent. J Street. the 10-month-old group that has marketed itself as an alternative to what it believes are the more hawkish views of mainstream Jewish orga- nizations, for the first time was invited to participate in a conference held by an established group.The invi- tation sparked a spiritedbut civil, debate about how the Jewish community should discuss Israel. Jeremy Ben-Ami, J Street's executive director, argued that the community should shun useless labels such as "pro-Israel" and instead have a vibrant discussion about what is best for the Jewish state saying that "ortho- doxy" of opinion on Israel was "dangerous" and "'sow- ing the seeds of destructioN' for the Jewish community. The deputy national direc- tor of the Anti-Defamation League, Kenneth Jacobson. responded that there was plenty of debate about Is- rael in the American Jewish community, but it happened in places such as the JCPA plenum and the Conference of Presidents of MajorAmeri- can Jewish Organizations.. The community has HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, MARCH 13, 2009 i thought about the best way to be effective and have in- fluence, Jacobson said, and the answer was to have a "consensus position" when it goes to Congressnan approach that has achieved "unbelievable success." There's a "difference be- tween the right to think as an individual and the respon- sibility of the community to present advocacy in a way that will have an impact," the ADL official said. Meanwhile. the third member of the panel. Endow- ment for Middle East Truth founder and director Sarah Stern. asserted that there was a "tremendous distinc- tion between lobbying from the left and right" because those on the left were "en- couraging risks." Jacobson rejected that notion. Stern and Jacobson ar- gued that those who want to participate in the commu- nity's debate about the Jew- ish state should at least be grounded in some minimal amount of education about Israel and the Jewish world. Ben-Ami. though, said the community can only benefit from bringing more people into the discussion, saying that young Jews are turned off when they are given just one opinion on the conflict but will be en- gaged by more free-flowing debate. The crowd of about 75 seemed to include sup- porters of both viewpoints, and Ben-Ami was pleased afterward by the debate his appearance had fostered. "This is the kind of dis- cussion we need to have." he said. "If ,college students saw this, they'd be thrilled." From page 1A Gaza. top European pOlitical figures were among those who participated in protests against the Israeli operation. In Stockholm, the head of Sweden's Socialist Party and the country's former foreign minister joined 8,000 protest- ers Jan. 10 in a mostly Muslim demonstration full of anti- Israel slogans. In Spain, rep- resentatives of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero attended a rally in which some participants called for jihad, praised Hezbollah and cursed Israel. After the protest, which drew 100.000 people, the vast majority of them non-Muslims, the Israeli Embassy in Madrid took the rare step of openly chastising the prime minister for fueling anti-lsrael anger. Some analysts believe Eu- rope's Muslims will exert further pressure on political leaders when it comes to Mideast policy. "Mfislim-related issues will be a growing focus and shaper of the European political scene." the U.S. National In- telligence Council noted in its forward-looking 2025 global trends report. "Ongoing societal and political tension over integration of Muslims is likely to make European policymakers increasingly sensitive to the potential do- mestic repercussions of any foreign policies for the Middle East. including aligning with the U.S. on policies seen as pro-Israeli." Yet despite their rapid growth rate. Muslims will not be able to dictate foreign or domestic policy in Europe anytime soon. the report said. For one thing, in some European countries up to 50 percent of Muslims do not have citizenship or national voting rights, according to some estimates. Among Muslims in Europe generally, there is no hard data on what percentage are citizens with national voting rights, since European coun- tries do not collect citizenship or immigration data by reli- gion. Experts interviewed by JTA estimated that only about half of Europe's Muslims are citizens; those who are not include recent immigrants, those whose home countries prohibit dual citizenship and immigrants unable to meet stringent citizenship require- ments. The proportions of Muslirfls who are citizens are higher in France and Britain. countries with long histories of Muslim immigration, and lower in Germany, where until 2000 the children of immigrants born in the coun- try were not automatically granted citizenship. Thevastmajority of Musli'm immigrants to the continent hold legal residency permits, akin to green cards, which give them the right to vote in lo- cal elections but not national elections. In recent years, as concerns over the cultural in- tegration of Europe's Muslim population have risen, some countries have made their citizenship tests much harder. In the Netherlands. applicants must demonstrate a certain level of financial indepen- dence and approval of Dutch values, such as affirmation of gender equality and tolerance of homosexuality. Another factor limiting Muslim influence on Euro- pean foreign policy is that the primary concerns of Muslims in Europe, who tend to be poorer than average, are economic, not religious issues, according to a 2006 Pew Research Center survey. Rather than forming po- litical parties of their own. Muslim voters have helped strengthen socialist and other left-leaning parties that cater to disadvantaged populations. Nowhere is Muslim political influence in Europe more evi- dent than in Beigium. where fully one-third of the residents of the capital city, Brussels. are Muslim:This is more than m any other major European city. except for Marseilles, France. which has roughly the same proportion of Muslims. In some of Brussels' local municipalities. Muslims ac- count for 80 percent of the population. Following the last election of the Brussels regional leg- islature, in 2004. half the 26 legislators from the Socialist Party were of Muslim back- ground, a record high for that legislature. Some Belgians attribute the strong showing by the Socialists in that elec- tion to the party's outreach to Muslim immigrants and the record number of candidates with Muslim names on the ticket. Ermeline Gosselin. a spokeswoman for the Social- ist Party in Belgium, insists that no one in her party looks at religion or ethnicity when selecting candidates. Help Wanted Advertising Sales Full or Part Time Call Jeff at 407-834-8787 "We are proud to represent Belgians of all backgrounds," she said. The mere discussion of Muslim political influence is taboo in some corners of Europe. Several European academics interviewed by JTA refused to consider the issue. arguing that it is misguided and possibly racist because it addresses the religious rather than economic or cultural concerns of Muslim immigrants. Susanne Nies. head of the French Institute of Interna- tional Relations in Brussels. said religion plays no role in Europe's secular politics. "If you want to talk about being critical of Israel. that is a feeling among many Euro- peans, so how can you char- acterize that as Muslim?" she said. "There s no such thing as a Muslim issue in Europe or growing Muslim influence on politicians.' To be sure. many European politicians have their biases against Israel. On Jan. 23. the minister of culture, youth and sport in the Flemish government in Belgium, Bert Anciaux. compared a deadly attack that day by a deranged gunman on a nursery school near Brussels to Israel's re- cent operation in Gaza. The Belgian Foreign Ministry later distanced itself from the remark. Shepherd says the 2008 mayoral campaign in Lon- don is a revealing example of Muslim influence in European politics. In 2005, London Mayor Ken Livingstone accused Israel of ethnic cleansing and called then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon a war criminal His criticism of Israel helped win him the support of Azzam Tamimi. the director of the London-based Institute of Islamic Political Thought and a public supporter of Hamas and Palestinian suicide bomb- ers. Tamimi mobilized British Muslims to support the mayor in his re-election bid last May, forming a group called Muslims 4 Ken that lambasted Livingstone's opponent for supporting Israel, Ultimately, however. Livingstone failed to win a third term, losing to Boris Johnson. "Livingstone definitely sought Muslim support by slamming Israel." Shepherd said. European governments increasingly are afraid of of- fending Muslims. Shepherd said. leading them to refrain from criticizing Islamic atti- tudes toward women or even toward terrorism. "This is a potentially vola- tile constituency, as we saw with the Danish cartoon controversy," Shepherd said, referring to the widespread Muslim rioting in 2005 that followed publication in a Danish newspaper of car- toons featuring the prophet Mohammed. Government leaders made sure to criticize publication of the cartoons even as they defended free speech, Shepherd noted. Jana Hybaskova. head of the Israel committee in the Eu- ropean Parliament, says that despite the hostility of many European Muslim organiza- tions toward the Jewish state. they rarely petition lawmak- ers on Israel-related issues. Presuming that Muslims share all the same political goals is a mistake, she added. "To see Muslim as common denominator is like seeing Christians as all the same." Hybaskova said. "I don't see any common denominator on policy." One major obstacle to Mus- lim political power is the absence of any significantpan- European Muslim political or- ganization. Muslims even have trouble organizing politically within their own countries in Europe. In France, the French Council of the Muslim Faith. a Muslim umbrella organization created in 2002 at the behest of then-Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, has been virtually paralyzed by a rivalry between its Algerian and Moroccan factions. The level of political activ- ism among Muslims varies from country to country. In Britain. Muslims vote in higher proportions than non-Muslims, whereas in Belgium the Muslim vote is below average. Another major obstacle, according to Riva Kastoryano, director of research at Sci- ences Politique in Paris and an author of several books on Islam in Europe, is the relative poverty of Muslims. Muslims are not "in an eco- nomic position in Europe to make abig impact in politics," she said. Muslim organizations often are completely in the dark about how to lobby govern- ment officials for their most pressing needs, Kastoryano observed. In some cases. Mus- lim groups have even sought the help of Jewish groups. "In Germany a few years back, when there was a wave of anti-Muslimviolence. Muslim clerics turned to Jewish lead- ers to ask how to get govern- ment support," she said. In France and several other countries. Muslims have turned to Jewish orga- nizations for help in acquir- ing government permission to continue to use halal meat--kosher for Muslims when the method of Muslim slaughter risked violating local ordinances. As for the few politicians in Europe of Muslim back- grounds, they tend to care more about loyalty to party, not Islamic ideology. On the national level, they're also all secular. "I am a socialist first, then Dutch. then someone with a Turkish-Kurdish back- ground." said Sadet Kara- bulut, a Dutch member of Parliament whose parents are from eastern Turkey. Asked whether her religion affects her political choices, Karabulut said. "My parents are Muslims and it is my background, but I am not. It's not important for me." Last October. Rotterdam became the first major city in Europe to elect a Muslim mayor, Ahmed Aboutaleb. Aboutaleb. who holds dual Dutch and Moroccan citi- zenship, has a reputation as a bridge builder between minority and majority groups. In 2004. after the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh by an Islamic extremist, Aboutaleb told an audience at an Amsterdam mosque that Muslims who do not like Dutch values should leave the country. That is little comfort to politicians like Teitelbaum, who points out that social- ist politicians who used to condemn Turkey's denial of the Armenian genocide now stay silent for fear of offend- ing Belgium's large Turkish community. Teitelbaum sees it as fur- ther evidence of pandering to an increasingly influential political constituency. When. in 2005. Teitelbaum sponsored a bill condemn- ing a resurgence of anti- Semitism in Belgium, the bill could not pass until she generalized the bill. adding condemnation of"racism and xenophobia." She was even urged by some colleagues to remove the word "anti- Semitism" from the bill. She refused.