Clarification: ISNA and the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council

Clarification: ISNA and the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council

(Plainfield, IN 11/18/16) Earlier this week, the formation of a Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council (MJAC) was announced and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) has been inundated with inquiries about the efforts which led to the formation of MJAC, ISNA’s role in MJAC, and the purpose and objectives of MJAC. The leadership of ISNA appreciates the inquiries and would like to provide clarification.

ISNA staff were involved in the discussions which led to the formation of the council. The American Jewish Committee (AJC) approached the ISNA Office of Interfaith and Community Alliances (OICA) to explore such a venture, in line with that department’s focus to promote interfaith dialogue. ISNA appreciates the outreach and support we have received from all our interfaith partners, especially the Jewish American community. The three action items MJAC is expected to undertake are:

The Council will highlight the contributions of Muslims and Jews to American society, and aim to celebrate their contributions in the best traditions of American democracy. The Council will develop a coordinated strategy to address anti-Muslim bigotry and anti-Semitism in the U.S. The Council will work to protect and expand the rights of religious minorities in the U.S., as enshrined in the Constitution, so they may practice their faiths in full freedom and security.

ISNA supports these action items and will honor the agreement reached with AJC and the MJAC members to promote Muslim-Jewish dialogue and understanding. Following the public announcement of the formation of MJAC, an internal inquiry revealed that standard reporting and approval mechanisms were not followed to secure formal approval of ISNA leadership to elevate involvement of ISNA to the level of “co-convener” of MJAC. We were thus surprised to receive the announcement about ISNA’s collaboration with AJC on the formation of the MJAC. The efforts to launch MJAC, while laudable, are not limited only to ISNA and AJC. Rather MJAC is a separate and independent body comprised of over thirty individuals and organizations represented on the council. The co-chairs of MJAC do not represent AJC or ISNA. In a spirit of openness and collaboration, both AJC and ISNA recommended Jewish and Muslim individuals respectively, to be on the council, with some Muslim members of MJAC even being suggested by AJC, while some Jewish members were suggested by ISNA. Since only one meeting of MJAC has occurred, preparation for future meetings will afford the opportunity for the leadership of MJAC to consider adding individuals and organizations.

Lastly, ISNA leadership reiterates that even as ISNA is represented on the MJAC, our principled commitment to domestic and international causes of concern to Muslims will remain strong. We specifically would like to reiterate support for the right of individuals and organizations in the US to peacefully work for human rights and the right of self-determination of Palestinians without fear of legal sanction.

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CONTACT: Faryal M. Khatri, ISNA Communications Department, 317-838-8126,