Where Islamism Starts, Interfaith Dialogue Stops

Two issues surfaced which highlight the hypocrisy behind this one small event and many other interfaith dialogues. First, by silencing me just before I was to read the quote from the Muslim Brotherhood, outlining their destructive mission, Rev. Yorty frustrated any hope of honest discussion about anyone's valid concerns with the political ideology of Islam. At the same time, however, the reverend seemed to have no trouble allowing the previous attendee to express his dismay at Israel’s building housing units in its own land. It would seem that the pastor and his Jewish partners have no issue with having Israel thrown under the bus, and using it as a scapegoat. Obviously, for them, building units in Israel did not belong in the rubric of discussing politics.

The second issue is the lack of intellectual honesty demonstrated by organizers of interfaith dialogues who attempt to stifle any frank discussion on Islam. How can liberally minded individuals, including Jews -- who like to think of themselves as “progressives” -- decline to challenge the misleading worldviews we hear reinforced over and over again? Isn't intellectual dialogue the foundation of philosophic discipline? How can those who consider themselves intellectuals indulge those who prohibit open and honest debate?

Discouraging the legitimate scrutiny of dangerous ideologies -- especially those which would infringe on our very survival and our liberal democratic system -- is intellectual bankruptcy. By establishing the outright condemnation of dissent in any form as a requirement for interfaith dialogue, the reverend, and likeminded organizers, in effect abandon the purpose of critical inquiry.

For too many years since 9/11, courtesy of the mainstream media, academia, government, and interfaith activists, we have heard deceptions and obfuscations regarding Islam. Many times, during interfaith gatherings, members of the audience or the organizers find it suitable to bash Israel, but persistently avoid raising the underlying cause for the Arab-Israeli conflict: the political ideology of Islam.

Those who challenge the countless lies on issues of paramount concern to the Jewish people and to freedom-loving citizens -- issues that have everything to do with our survival -- are labeled as bigots and Islamophobes. By claiming that he was taking the place of the president of UC Irvine, the reverend implied that I was like one of those “fundamentalist extremists” Muslims, while, in effect, he proved to be like the Muslim mob. In the same way they prevented the Israeli ambassador from delivering his presentation, the reverend blocked me from stating my legitimate concerns over the Muslim Brotherhood. While the Muslim mob displayed a vile belligerence, I introduced my statement in a most polite and cordial way. But that did not matter in the least. The reverend did not want to be confused with facts. His intellectual position appeared to be so weak that he could not allow anyone to challenge it.

In her column on Imam Rauf, “Jihad Chic: Imam Rauf's 'Gift of Reconciliation,'” the author Phyllis Chesler writes: “The propaganda campaign in favor of Islam is intense, subtle, clever, elegant, vulgar, massively well-funded, and incredibly well coordinated[.]” In her last column on the anti-Israel propaganda, Chesler concludes: “We need the equivalent of a series of Stuxnet viruses in the war of ideas. Nothing less will do.”

It is a moral imperative for interfaith dialogues to be an open platform for communicating candidly, without equivocation, on issues including Islam’s perilous supremacist doctrine and anti-Israel propaganda. Their bitter reality should not be ignored. Real healing can take place only in the spirit of genuine inquiry, transparency, and the fearless pursuit of truth, wherever it may reside.