The Coalition for Jewish Values (CJV) last week called upon the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) to retract its statement issued April 16 entitled, “ISNA Condemns Israeli Violence Against Palestinian Worshipers.” CJV pointed to numerous factual errors in the statement, which, taken together, could easily be characterized as promoting a false narrative, encouraging anti-Semitism, and even fomenting violence.
“The statement makes outlandish claims that invert those who came to cause violence with those who responded to quell it,” said CJV President Rabbi Pesach Lerner. “As written, it appears to demonize Israeli police for stopping a violent riot. The police foiled attempts to murder Jewish worshipers at the Western Wall, and restored calm so that peaceful Islamic prayers could occur at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Both Muslims and Jews should commend Israeli police for preventing an intended massacre and permitting the faithful of both religions to worship safely.”
The ISNA statement erroneously claims that “Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque,” with “unprovoked and violent Israeli attacks” on “Palestinian worshippers.” In reality, both Arab scholars and Israeli commentators have pointed to the desecration of the mosque by rioters that occurred in the morning, prior to prayers, as was documented on camera. The Israeli police enabled prayers to take place by stopping the riot.
The statement also insists that it was a “violation of international human rights law” for Israeli forces to stop rioters from throwing stones over the western edge of the Temple Mount complex, though each such projectile constituted an attempt to murder Jewish worshippers at the Western Wall below. As written, the statement implies that international human rights law demands – or at least condones – the murder of Jews.
Glaringly, the statement even notes that April 15 fell during the Islamic Holy Month of Ramadan and on the Christian Good Friday, yet fails to mention that it was also the eve of Passover, a time when an extraordinary number of Jewish worshipers flock to the Western Wall. This omission could give readers the impression that ISNA does not value free practice for all religions that revere that holy site – in particular, Judaism, the one whose historical attachment to the Temple Mount precedes that of others by millennia.
“Islam is an Abrahamic faith with hundreds of millions of peaceful adherents,” noted CJV Southern Regional Vice President Rabbi Moshe B. Parnes. “Few things could sully the reputation of Islam in America more than a statement condemning efforts to prevent bloodshed, under the imprimatur of an American organization with Islam in its name. It is for this reason that we urge ISNA to repudiate this statement before it can do further damage.”