In April, Rabbi Jonathan Miller of Birmingham's Temple Emanu-El hosted Bosnia's Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric to address an interfaith audience at his synagogue so that we Jews and Christians might "make room in our hearts and souls for others who believe differently from us," as his op-ed in The Birmingham News read. According to one attendee, the mufti packed a big house and the evening was replete with Martin Luther King tie-ins and civil rights-era imagery.
The rabbi should have done some research first. Ceric recently called on the world to stand by Syria, a state that sponsors terrorism against Israel and U.S. forces in Iraq, among other targets. During the March, 2004 pogroms in Kosovo against Orthodox Christian Serbs by Albanian Muslims — in which 19 people were killed, dozens of churches and cemeteries destroyed, and close to 4,000 of Kosovo's minority Serbs displaced — BBC.com reported that Ceric "expressed concern about the rise of anti-Islamic hysteria in the West." He added that there was "no such thing as Islamic terrorism," and assured reporters that there were no charities linked to al-Qaeda operating in Bosnia.
In fact, a CNSNews.com article titled "Jihadists Find Convenient Base in Bosnia" reported that "terrorists who previously targeted the U.S. are now in Bosnia, where they have access to a 'one-stop shop' of jihad training camps, weapons and illegal Islamic 'charities' — all at the doorstep of Europe."
One charity that was funding millions of dollars to al Qaeda — the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation — closed in 2002 and then reopened under the name Vazir — an "association for sport, culture and education."
"More ominously," reported the Washington Times in 2003, "the greatest threat to peace and stability stems from the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism in Bosnia, which seeks to either wipe out or convert all Christians in the region. The country now serves as a base for al Qaeda operatives, where numerous terrorist cells are active and plotting attacks on targets throughout Europe. In the past, Saudi Arabia has sent millions of dollars in aid to "humanitarian" agencies that encourage Bosnian Muslims to promote the doctrines of Wahhabism…. Mosques have been established throughout the Muslim-Croat federation, many of whom preach the need for 'jihad' against the country's Catholic Croats and Orthodox Christian Serbs."
Further, "Osama bin Laden is actively directing terrorist cells in the former Yugoslav republic of Bosnia," read an October 2004 AFP dispatch. According to terror expert and author Yossef Bodansky, Bosnia's Zenica region provided the training ground for the terrorists who conducted a series of suicide attacks in Baghdad in August 2003, including the UN bombing there that killed 22 people.
More damning still, at least two of the 9/11 hijackers — Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi — trained and fought in Bosnia, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed "also honed his jihadist skills in Bosnia and financed some of the mujahedin operations there," Brendan O'Neill wrote for The New Statesman in 2004.
Last October, a raid on a Sarajevo apartment turned up suicide vests, 65 pounds of exploding bullets, rifles and a machine gun, to be used in an imminent attack on the British embassy in Sarajevo. What's more, reported the International Herald Tribune, "Bosnia gave passports to more than 800 former fighters and aid workers from the Middle East," including to known terrorists and sometimes under aliases.
Even more disturbing, the Islamists have been creating cells of "White al Qaeda" — Caucasian Bosnian Muslims who can evade ethnic profiling. The rabbi might also be interested to know that the suicide attack in Netanya in December, which killed five and wounded 95, was organized by a Bosnian-based group called Al-Asifa. There are Balkans ties as well to the London and Madrid attacks, as well as New York on 9/11.
That a rabbi would invite a terror enabler to ingratiate himself and his religion to a Judeo-Christian audience is a disgrace. Miller isn't doing Americans any favors by helping the Islamic PR campaign.
Yet he is not alone in his misguided efforts. Last year, the American Jewish Committee launched the Chicago Coalition for Interreligious Learning to "produce changes in how differing religions were presented in textbooks and classrooms in an effort to promote respect among communities."
But the organization's own counter-terrorism division warned about Islamist groups using interfaith to gain legitimacy, noting that most mainstream Muslim organizations are "pro-Saudi and pro-Muslim Brotherhood" and have learned that "interfaith dialogue is a good way to spread the ideology" since it "gives such organizations a public legitimacy that their ideology would deny them if they expressed it outright." Further, "these organizations come to the Jewish community to talk about 'interfaith,' while they still teach anti-Western and anti-Christian doctrines to their followers."
The dangers of inculcating fair-minded American masses aside, the vision of a Muslim cleric lecturing a Western audience on "making room in our hearts and souls for others who believe differently from us" borders on the obscene. "If we can do it here in Birmingham," instructs the rabbi, "who knows, but that we might spread this message to all the corners of the world. And then wouldn't G-d be pleased with us?" The glaring flaw in this pre-school-level thinking is that the Western world has done it, but the Muslim world isn't taking an example — its religious foundations running precisely counter to openness. Nor would G-d be pleased with us, as he surely has little respect for those who are unwilling to defend their way of life — which is already perilously over-tolerant toward ideologies that abhor its very tolerance.
The rabbi and some Christian friends came together to bring the mufti to the Birmingham synagogue to "speak for a tradition of the one true living G-d" — a reference to the false but endlessly repeated cliché that Muslims believe in the same G-d as Christians and Jews. In fact, Islam teaches that only it knows "the true nature of G-d that Judaism and Christianity tell lies about," as Balkans expert Dr. Serge Trifkovic has written.
If Jews continue public relations efforts for movements that wish them ill, they'll find themselves in a position similar to what they were in during WWII. At that time, the mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, met with Hitler to offer support. Thousands of Bosnian Muslims answered the mufti's call to volunteer for service in the Waffen SS. Al-Husseini is photographed proudly inspecting his Bosnian Muslim Nazi troops.
When we finally arrive at the logical conclusion of the current state of affairs, in which Jews are fleeing Europe once again and six million in Israel are threatened with "erasure" from the map, it won't be because "the world" looked the other way. It'll be because of my fellow Jews' own fatal ignorance.
Never again? What a joke. Shame on this so-called rabbi, and shame on every Jew and Christian in the audience who applauded the speaker on cue. CRO
This piece first appeared at JewishWorldReview.com