IFUT Letter to Rabbis Adlerstein & Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center

Dear Rabbi Adlerstein and Rabbi Cooper,

I would like to take this opportunity to initiate a dialogue with you that could lead to greater mutual understanding. At IFUT, we are aiming to challenge existing narratives and evolve newer narratives whose goal is to foster pluralistic societies with a greater understanding and appreciating of different beliefs and faiths. We strive to challenge politically correct and prevalent narratives that are not getting us any closer aside from mouthing empty slogans and platitudes.

Towards this end, I would like to stress on our shared heritage. As Shia Muslims, we have been marginalized and persecuted by other Muslims empires and caliphates through the ages in the same way that Jews were victimized in Europe. The charge of Blood libel against Jews in Medieval Europe i.e. the disgusting allegation that Jews ate and drank the blood of Christian children is the same allegation that is made against Shias by Deobandi extremist groups like the Sipah Sahaba.

The hatred against Shia Muslims is infused with Anti-Semitism and Shias are historically accused of being fifth columnist, founded by a Jewish convert. This dual anti-Shia/anti Jewish propaganda is absurd because all Muslims were converts! Nonetheless, this fusion of Jewish and Shia hatred by extremists highlights that conversely, we must confront such hatred with dialogue.

My country of origin, Pakistan at the time of its creation in 1947 had a Jewish population estimated to be 2000. Their gradual migration has been a loss to Pakistani society’s diverse fabric. That is why I feel political differences between countries should never be used to foster xenophobia against national and ethnic groups. One such example is the xenophobia against Jews, which is based on differences with Israel’s policies.

It is time we move away from these cynical tactics and adopt the bolder and morally correct position of dialogue and understanding. As we move past slogans of exclusivism and destruction towards dialogues of commonality, we can make meaningful progress and engage in genuine interfaith dialogue.

Sincerely

Ali Taj

Director

Interfaith Unity for Tolerance

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