Op-ed in the Boston Jewish Advocate,
about the Islamic Society
of Boston’s Mosque
American Jews are fortunate to live in a society where our rights and freedoms are relatively protected. But we can never take this for granted. Learning from our history, we have a responsibility to speak up for ourselves and for others who are treated unfairly.
This is why Tekiah: A Jewish Call to Action is alarmed by the conflict between the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) and the David Project. Michael Stedman’s July 7th column demonstrated one upsetting aspect of this dispute. Beyond objecting to the unacceptable comments of individuals linked to the mosque, some in our community oppose the construction of the mosque itself. For Jews to oppose the building of any house of worship is deeply disturbing.
Tekiah is a five-year-old local Jewish organization committed to social justice in our own community and in society at large. We oppose all forms of prejudice and bigotry, including anti-Semitism, racism, and Islamophobia. We will always speak out against prejudice, whether it comes from ISB members or anyone else.
But we object to using the statements of a few individuals with varying levels of connection to the ISB to stigmatize Greater Boston’s largest Muslim community. We object to depicting the ISB as a terrorist threat when law enforcement has raised no such concerns. We are saddened that some community institutions have halted interfaith dialogue while a lawsuit is pending, polarizing Boston’s Jewish and Muslim communities when communication is most needed.
Mr. Stedman is indignant that the ISB chose to pursue a defamation lawsuit against media outlets and a Jewish organization. But he omits the history behind that lawsuit. Stedman’s selective analysis succeeds in demonizing a Muslim congregation, but falls short in examining the crisis.
Stedman writes that after the Boston Redevelopment Authority sold land to the ISB, “a concerned community group mounted a public campaign to shed light on the issue.” He doesn’t mention that this effort to “shed light” included a lawsuit against the ISB and BRA—ironic, after his objections to the ISB’s lawsuit. This “community group’s” litigation also enjoyed strong backing from the David Project, whose education director Anna Kolodner, boasted in an e-mail of having “identified a viable plaintiff.”