By promoting a fair and honest understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict, The David Project leads the ideological effort against the forces intent on defaming, weakening and destroying the Jewish State.The David Project is committed to building Jewish leadership; increasing the support for Israel on campus; strengthening the pro-Israel and pro-Jewish sentiments and friendships within churches; and working in partnership with Jewish day schools and synagogue after-school programs to incorporate Israel advocacy and leadership skills into their core curricula.After the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) sued The David Project for raising questions about the conduct of its leadership – past and present – its Chairman, Dr. Yousef Abou-Allaban, published a full page ad in The Jewish Advocate (12/23/05) appealing to Boston’s Jewish community for understanding. His letter is instructive and is posted on The David Project’s website.In it, Dr. Abou-Allaban promises that his $22 million mosque and Islamic Cultural Center now under construction with funds raised mostly in Saudi Arabia will advance “…interfaith dialogue and communication.”He writes to the Jews of Boston that “…we are your brothers and sisters…. We have …hopes that our children will live in a society that is open and tolerant….” The ISB seeks “…dialogue with all people ….” And he writes that all this can be achieved if we “…stand up against intolerance no matter where we find it….”Dr. Abou-Allaban’s words would touch the heart of most every Jew in Boston. They reflect hard-won victories against racism and discrimination. They invoke a yearning for harmony among our religious, ethnic and racial communities. To Jews especially, who have often been the target of discrimination, these words hold almost magical power.And that is why there is a special obligation to ensure that when they are invoked, these words are employed for the true purposes they call forth. Unfortunately, the ISB and Dr. Abou-Allaban himself have employed these words in ways that are genuinely troubling.
Dr. Walid Fitaihi, ISB’s Trustee, spoke of tolerance and dialogue when he befriended a prominent Boston rabbi, and through him engaged the Jewish community in dialogue. But at the same time, in Arabic newspapers, Dr. Fitaihi wrote “Jews will be scourged” because of their “oppression, murder, and rape of the worshippers of Allah.” Jews “have … brought the worst corruption to the earth …” and “… one day their covenant with the American people will be cut off.” This is just a sample.
When Jewish communal leaders asked Dr. Abou-Allaban to explain this, he defended Fataihi, saying simply that “our activities are beyond reproach.” When pressed further, he explained that Fataihi was referring only to particular Jews, not all of us. Months later, after interventions by Mayor Menino and Congressman Capuano, Dr. Abou-Allaban conceded that “some of Dr. Fataihi’s writings have been extremely hurtful….”
Dr. Abou-Allaban’s letter urged Jewish Advocate readers “to stand up against intolerance no matter where we find it.” But to his shame, as head of fundraising for the ISB, he invited Yusuf al-Qaradawi to address an ISB fundraiser at Boston’s Sheraton hotel. Qaradawi is a man who encourages acts of terror against Americans, Jews and others. Since he was banned by President Clinton from entering the United States, Dr. Abou-Allaban arranged to have al-Qaradawi’s videotaped talk played to the audience. We hope to obtain that tape, but here is what al-Qaradawi has said elsewhere: “We will conquer Europe, we will conquer America.” “You shall continue to fight the Jews… and the Muslims will kill them, and the Jew will hide behind the stone and the tree, and the stone and the tree will say: Oh, servant of Allah, Oh Muslim, this is a Jew behind me. Come and kill him.” Qaradawi has a special approach to Muslim-Jewish dialogue: “with them the dialogue will be with the sword.”
Dr. Abou-Allaban, who brought this man’s message to Boston, now sues The David Project for “defamation.” We Jews have a special love, even a weakness, for peace and dialogue. Fortunately, there are wonderful people of the Muslim faith who truly despise hatred. We know them. They are our true brothers and sisters and we are their friends. One, Ahmed Mansour, works with Citizens for Peace and Tolerance, another group sued by Dr. Abou-Allaban. Until the ISB leadership truly reflects their values, we will keep Dr. Abou-Allaban’s letter in a special place so that when, G-d willing, our hopes and dreams come true, its wonderful words of peace can be recited with plain honesty and a clean heart.The David Project appreciates your support. The David Project Center for Jewish Leadership