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Jewish Arab Dialogue Association Condemns Anti-Defamation League Slander of Muslim Community Leader, Sofian Zakkout

FOR EMEDIATE RELEASE                                                               August 12, 2010

 

Jewish Arab Dialogue Association Condemns Anti-Defamation League Slander of

Muslim Community Leader

 

For Immediate Release

Call Jack Lieberman - 305-582-4846

 

                                An Open Letter to the Anti-Defamation League 

 

Mr. Rosenkranz,  

I am writing to you on behalf of JADA, the Jewish Arab Dialog Association of South Florida, to express our outrage over your recent public attack on our co-chairman Sofian Abdelaziz Zakkout and AMANA, The American Muslim Association of North America.

 

As you should be aware JADA has been one of few organizations in South Florida that has promoted an ongoing political dialog between Jews, Arabs, Christians Muslims and Americans in our community in order to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians. From the beginning of our existence in 2003 we have taken a clear stand in support of a "two state solution" to the conflict.  All of the Jews in our organization are Zionists and the Palestinians in our organization, including Mr. Zakkout, have taken a clear stand in support of Israel's right to exist. Indeed, Mr. Zakkout has come under criticism in his community for taking such a strong vocal stand in support of peace with Israel.

 

Like most organizations in the peace movement AMANA also stands in opposition to the threat of US military action against Iran. Leading Jewish peace organizations have also taken a similar position against a military attack on Iran including J Street, Americans for Peace Now, The Shalom Center and Tikkun.

 

Due to a lack of knowledge, Mr. Zakkout made a mistake and posted on AMANA's web site an anti-war video dealing with Iran made by ex Klu Klux Klan leader David Duke. When they posted it they did not not examine it's content closely and they did not know who Duke was except that he was former member of the Louisiana State Legisature. When they were alerted about who David Duke was and what he stood for, they immediately put a notice on their site denouncing him as racist. They left the notice on their page for a day and then removed Duke's demagogic video from their site.  

 

It strikes us as disingenuous that the ADL would ignore all of the work that Mr. Zakkout has done to promote dialog between our communities and rush to issue a press release with a strong condemnation implying that Mr. Zakkout and his organization are anti-Semitic and racist.  What purpose did this press realize serve other than to tarnish the reputation of a man who has promoted dialog in our community and one of the few Arab American leaders around the nation who has worked to combat racism and anti-Semitism  his community.

 

The fact that you would do so without even making a phone call to Mr. Zakkout, or his partners in the Jewish community who have worked so closely with him, shows a callousness that is ill suited for an organization that claims it is seeking to "counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry."

 

It also shows how out of touch the ADL is with the AMANA and the Muslim community as well, because AMANA has a large number of African American members who would be equally offended by Duke's appearance as anyone in the Jewish community would.

 

Mr. Rosenkranz, one un-intentional error does not wipe away years of collaboration with Jewish activists and others in promoting dialog and working to combat prejudice in our communities.  In your hasty rush to score political points and discredit a perceived political adversary you have done a disservice to the cause of combating racism and anti-Semitism and you owe Mr Zakkout and AMANA an apology for your slanders.

 

Jack Lieberman,

Co-Chair, JADA, The Jewish Arab Dialogue Association

Former President, American Jewish Congress, SE Region

ENEWT GINGRICH CONDEMNED FOR REMARKS

ENEWT GINGRICH CONDEMNED FOR REMARKS ON PALESTINIAN PEOPLEThe following Press Release AMANA just sent out:
ENEWT GINGRICH CONDEMNED FOR REMARKS ON PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
December 11, 2011 (MIAMI, FL): The American Muslim Association of North America (AMANA) strongly condemns the insensitive recent remarks of Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich on the Palestinian people. On a recent interview before Israeli media “The Jewish Channel” Gingrich expressed: “I think that we've had an invented Palestinian people”. Also he said that Palestinians are "terrorists."This openly islamophobic and ignorant remark deeply offended not only the Christians and Muslim Palestinian community in America but all the Palestinians living in Palestine and around the globe. Gingrich, ironically a history professor himself, appears to ignore even the millenary biblical reference to the Philistines; people that have evidence their history is backed not by hundreds but by thousands of years of history. His remarks are clearly racial and also charged with hostility against the Palestinian people. The xenophobic expressions of Newt Gingrich render him incapable of leading the American Nation that was founded and developed on the basis of Religious Freedom, Democratic Values, Civil Liberties and Human Rights.His remarks denying the existence of Palestinians as a nation are an affront and disrespect to the same Constitution he has sworn to uphold and defend on many occasions in the past while holding public office.
For Media Contact: Sofian Zakkout, Director:305-898-9314E-Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Wilfredo Amr Ruiz, Esq.: 305-320-7042   E-Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

AMER came back from Haiti after receiving the two containers of relief supplies

100 0268PRESS RELEASE: Contact: Sofisn Zakkout, 305-898-9314
AMER LATEST REPORT – Miami, Florida USA – April, 2010.
AMER came back from Haiti after receiving the two containers of relief supplies and successfully distributing them to the Haitian earthquake survivors. AMER team was headed by AMER director and four American Haitian Muslims. One of the 4 volunteers came from Texas and the other three from South Florida.
After visiting Haiti AMER team recognized that the country has suffered from both the 2008 Hurricane and the 2010 Earthquake and unfortunately the country doesn't have the enough food, medicines nor shelters. Most of the country is out of electricity and will not have electricity in around three years. Also we are approaching the Hurricane season and most of the population living under fragile built tents that can easy kill the people if any small Hurricane hit that area due to the fact that the tents made of wood, metal and fabric.
As we promised! (Please see AMER report attached for complete information)
We thank all the donors and the volunteers who made the delivery and the distribution of the two containers containing the most relief items possible! Now we are working on the third containers and the only items are accepted:
Tents (used & new), blankets, pillows, towels, flash lights (the Crank ones), candles and cash.
Those who (in charity) spend of their goods by night and by day, secretly and publicly, will have their
reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve." (Al-Quran, 2:274)
You can assist the Haitian’s survivals of the Earthquake by making a tax-deductible donation online at www.amerelief.com or by check to: AMER, (Haitian Fund), 183 NE 166 Street, Miami, FL 33162
For a free DVD on AMER profile, Haiti Reports and the Pictures taken in Haiti and in the US send
Your request by e-mail to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
For more information visit AMER website: www.amerelief.us

Jewish Arab Dialogue Association Condemns Anti-Defamation League Slander of Muslim Community Leader

FOR EMEDIATE RELEASE August 12, 2010
Jewish Arab Dialogue Association Condemns Anti-Defamation League Slander of
Muslim Community Leader
For Immediate Release, Call Jack Lieberman - 305-582-4846

An Open Letter to the Anti-Defamation League

Mr. Rosenkranz,

I am writing to you on behalf of JADA, the Jewish Arab Dialog Association of South Florida, to express our outrage over your recent public attack on our co-chairman Sofian Abdelaziz Zakkout and AMANA, The American Muslim Association of North America.
As you should be aware JADA has been one of few organizations in South Florida that has promoted an ongoing political dialog between Jews, Arabs, Christians Muslims and Americans in our community in order to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians. From the beginning of our existence in 2003 we have taken a clear stand in support of a "two state solution" to the conflict. All of the Jews in our organization are Zionists and the Palestinians in our organization, including Mr. Zakkout, have taken a clear stand in support of Israel's right to exist. Indeed, Mr. Zakkout has come under criticism in his community for taking such a strong vocal stand in support of peace with Israel.
Like most organizations in the peace movement AMANA also stands in opposition to the threat of US military action against Iran. Leading Jewish peace organizations have also taken a similar position against a military attack on Iran including J Street, Americans for Peace Now, The Shalom Center and Tikkun.
Due to a lack of knowledge, Mr. Zakkout made a mistake and posted on AMANA's web site an anti-war video dealing with Iran made by ex Klu Klux Klan leader David Duke. When they posted it they did not not examine it's content closely and they did not know who Duke was except that he was former member of the Louisiana State Legisature. When they were alerted about who David Duke was and what he stood for, they immediately put a notice on their site denouncing him as racist. They left the notice on their page for a day and then removed Duke's demagogic video from their site.
It strikes us as disingenuous that the ADL would ignore all of the work that Mr. Zakkout has done to promote dialog between our communities and rush to issue a press release with a strong condemnation implying that Mr. Zakkout and his organization are anti-Semitic and racist. What purpose did this press realize serve other than to tarnish the reputation of a man who has promoted dialog in our community and one of the few Arab American leaders around the nation who has worked to combat racism and anti-Semitism his community.
The fact that you would do so without even making a phone call to Mr. Zakkout, or his partners in the Jewish community who have worked so closely with him, shows a callousness that is ill suited for an organization that claims it is seeking to "counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry."
It also shows how out of touch the ADL is with the AMANA and the Muslim community as well, because AMANA has a large number of African American members who would be equally offended by Duke's appearance as anyone in the Jewish community would.
Mr. Rosenkranz, one un-intentional error does not wipe away years of collaboration with Jewish activists and others in promoting dialog and working to combat prejudice in our communities. In your hasty rush to score political points and discredit a perceived political adversary you have done a disservice to the cause of combating racism and anti-Semitism and you owe Mr Zakkout and AMANA an apology for your slanders.
Jack Lieberman,
Co-Chair, JADA, The Jewish Arab Dialogue Association
Former President, American Jewish Congress, SE Region
END OF MESSAGE

AMANA ANSWER TO ADL ‘s July 28, 2010 PRESS RELEASE: "ADL Condemns Organization for Posting Anti-Semitic Video on Website"

AMERICAN MUSLIM ASSOCIATION OF NORTH AMERICA (A.M.A.N.A.)
PRESS RELEASE

Media Contact: Sofian Zakkout, 305-898-9314
AMANA ANSWER TO ADL ‘s July 28, 2010 PRESS RELEASE: "ADL Condemns Organization for Posting Anti-Semitic Video on Website"
Miami, FL; August 1, 2010 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AMANA, the American Muslim Association of North America, is very disturbed by the press release was made by an organization who call themselves a tolerant organization.
When AMANA posted on its website the video of David Duke: “No War for Israel in Iran - Keep Americans Safe” did not have any intention to bring or to promote anti Semitism we are anti wars period! We at AMANA have vast records in the past in articles, pictures and videos showing our stand against promotion of hate or anti-Semitism; since many Muslims and AMANA director himself has Semite origins.
After AMANA posted the video we got advice from associates such as Mr. Jack Lieberman, one of the AMANA community advisors and the Co-Chair of (JADA, the Arab Jewish Dialogue Association) that David Duke is an ex KKK and a bigot. Due to the fact of Joe Kaufman’s (a close associate with ADL) posting in his website a copy of AMANA’s website image we decided to change the title of the video to read "Former racist KKK member David Duke making derogatory statements!" We could not take the video down at that time since we wanted all people that Kaufman was inviting to see our posting to clearly see our opinion of it on a clearer manner by reading the new title for the video. After we decided to take the video down we discovered that in the next day Andrew Rosenkranz, ADL’s Florida Director sent a massive emails to all his thousands of contacts condemning AMANA organization and all related to AMANA.
That is not acceptable! This is not the smart and sensible thing an organization like ADL should have done specially after AMANA director personally met Mr. Rosenkranz two weeks before this events in a meeting to establish together joint efforts for any future events being anti-Semitic or against Islam!
Mr. Andrew Rosenkranz of the ADL should of have the courtesy to call AMANA director to address any concerns with AMANA posting the video and we would have proceeded to take it down without hesitation. The proof of my good intention is the communication took place last year with Mr. Robert Tanen of ADL Miami Region Director when he brought to my attention about a link used to be at AMANA website asked me to take the organization of a Orthodox Rabbis’s (http://www.nkusa.org ) from AMANA website and we did not reject his offer after he explained that was a Jewish Group that promoted anti Semitism. We found this a way to foster our relation with ADL. Unfortunately Mr. Andrew Rosenkranz was not wise and he decided to go public and condemn not our act but rather all of us in AMANA and this was not nice nor professional. His actions clearly were meant to bring hate between Jews and Muslims; something which we have historically tried to avoid in the past especially after the war on Gaza and will always strive to avoid in the future as well.
AMANA could go back and post the video within seconds and to keep it forever and that is our legal and constitutionally protected freedom of speech right. However, we will not post this video after I learned that will hurt our fellow Jews in America and might raise hatred anti-Jew feelings. It was shameful and stupid from ADL to go public condemning a major national Islamic organization without responsible verification.
Also in this release we do condemn strongly the organization ADL in general for its support of the Bigots against of the construction of the Mosque in New York: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/07/30/bad-for-the-jews
We demand that ADL remove the hateful press release from its site, and we demand ADL to leach Mr. Joe Kaufman from attacking Muslims and ADL must apologize for the damage done intentionally against Muslims !

Sofian Abdelaziz Zakkout
Director and Counselor of AMANA,
The American Muslim Association of North America and
The Co-Chair of JADA, Jewish Arab Dialogue Association.
AMANA, The American Muslim Association of North America

AMANA, CALLS ON ALL MUSLIMS IN AND OUTSIDE THE US NOT TO USE ANY FORM OF VIOLENCE AGAINST THE DOVE WORLD CENTER CHURCH.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 30, 2010
MEDIA CONTACT: Sofian Zakkout - Direct: 305-0898-9314
AMANA, THE AMERICAN MUSLIM ASSOCIATION OF NORTH AMERICA CALLS
ON ALL MUSLIMS IN AND OUTSIDE THE US NOT TO USE ANY FORM
OF VIOLENCE AGAINST THE DOVE WORLD CENTER CHURCH.
RE: International Protests Begin Ahead of Sept. 11 Qur'an Burning Event in Florida

About 100 Indonesian Muslims protested outside the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta on Friday 27, 2010, Agence France-Press reported, with some threatening of war if the plan to burn Qur'an on the ninth anniversary of the 9l11 terror attack!
(Miami-August 30, 2010) AMANA, the American Muslim Association of North America calls all Muslims, friends and associates to stop any plan for any sort of violence against the Dove World Church in Gainesville, Florida.
We strongly feel that this Church is totally ignorant of the true message of the Qur’an.
We also strongly believes that a call to burn the Qur'an in September 11 will not benefit the Church nor the society and will only comfort the mutual enemies of Islam and non-Muslims.
Whereas burning the Qur'an will hurt the feelings of more than 1.9 Billion Good Muslims around the globe;
Whereas burning the Qur'an will bring more hate between Americans; and also may bring hate against Americans abroad;
Whereas throughout the Qur’an Muslims are urged to be merciful and just.
Whereas Allah (SW) mentionsin the Qur'an the great quality of the Muslim who control his/her anger;
Whereas Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him) said: "Even at war you must not attack or damage any place of worship". (Church, Synigougs, Mosques and others)
We would like to remind that Islam calls for vigorous condemnation of such hateful acts, but always within the margins of law and order.
Therefore let it be clear that we Muslims are not allowed to use any form of violence against the Dove World Church.

IMAMS WHO SUPPORT THIS STATEMENT:
IMAM Ibrahim Dremali, AMANA Advisor
IMAM Rafiq Mahdi, Al Iman Mosque
IMAM Roshan Ali, Nur-Ul-Islam Mosque
IMAM Ismet Accin, Islamic Mosque
IMAM Nasir Ahmed, Al Ansar Mosque
IMAM Foad Farahi, Shamsuddin Mosque
IMAM Tarik Chebbi, Al Ihsan Mosque
IMAM Saad Odeh, Bel Glade Mosque
IMAM Qasim Khan, Muslim Aliance
IMAM Khalil Hussien, Jamaat Al Mumineen Mosque
IMAM Munir Khan, Islamic Movement of S. Florida Mosque
IMAM Hassan Sabri, Islamic Center of South Florida Mosque
IMAM Rasheed Mohammad, Islamic Center of Broward Mosque
IMAM Yahya Ederer, Islamic Foundation of S. Florida Mosque
END OF MESSAGE

The American Muslim Association of North America strongly condemns the recent car bombing attacks med outside a Coptic Christian church

PRESS RELEASE - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The American Muslim Association of North America (AMANA)
(Miami, FL January 1, 2011) AMANA, The American Muslim Association of North America strongly condemns the recent car bombing attacks med outside a Coptic Christian church that killed at least 21 people in the city of Alexandria, Egypt. Copts, who are adherents of an Egyptian sect of Christianity, make up about 9% of the nation's population.
The religion of Islam precepts clearly prohibits any kind of damaging to worship centers of any religion. "This is a criminal act that can never be justified (in) any religion. Islam does require from every Muslim to be protectors of places of worship for both Muslims and non-Muslims.
We encourage other Muslim organizations nationally and from around the Globe, such as Al Azhar Center in Egypt, to also express their condemnation to this atrocious act and elevate a prayers for those who lost their lives and their families.

FOR MEDIA CONTACT:
Br. Sofian Zakkout, (305) 898-9314
Br. Wilfredo Amr Ruiz, Esq., (305) 320-7042

On occasion of the Jewish festivity commemoration of Yom Kippur at Temple Sinai , Miami, FL; Rabbi David N. Young

FOR IMMEDIAT RELEASE
September 22, 2010
Media Contact: Br. Sofian Zakkout, 305 - 898 - 9314

On occasion of the Jewish festivity commemoration of Yom Kippur at Temple Sinai , Miami, FL; Rabbi David N. Young delivered his sermon: Reacting to Islamophobia in America: An Open Letter to Imam Sofian Abdelaziz Zakkout. In this historical inter-religious dialogue approach initiated by Rabbi Young the South Florida Muslim community he masterfully delivered his Yom Kippur Sermon keeping all the audience at Temple Sinai Synagogue devoutly captivated. This message of peace and conciliation was gratefully welcomed message to both the Jewish community as well as to the Muslim community represented at the event by Br. Sofian Zakkout, Director of American Muslim Association of North America (AMANA - www.amanavoice.com) ; and by Wilfredo Amr Ruiz, Esq., Executive Director for the American Muslims for Emergency and Relief (AMER).
You may read the Sermon below or find it in the following links:
Rabbi Young’s Blog : http://www.rabbiyoung.blogspot.com
Kol Nidre Sermon 5771

Reacting to Islamophobia in America: An Open Letter to Sheikh Sofian Abdelaziz Zakkout
Dear Sheikh Sofian Abdelaziz Zakkout
You and I have spoken a few times recently, and I want to first express my gratitude to you. You have many times offered to dialogue with the community at large. Your organization, AMANA, the American Muslim Association of North America, does some incredible work with the Greater Miami Community. I know you work very hard to build understanding and respect between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities, so again, thank you.
When my family and I lived in Plantation, our house was in a cul-de-sac with eight or nine other houses. We lived in between two homes whose inhabitants both drove big white vans. One our left was a Pakistani family with children a little older than ours. They were very friendly, and enjoyed spending time outside watching their children play. From their home wafted the sweet and pungent smells of Middle Eastern spices that the wife used in cooking. They moved to America about ten years ago and started a small business that had just begun to be successful. On their white van was their business logo in large red letters.
On our right was an American-born family. The husband and wife were born in Miami and lived in Plantation since they were married. They had teenage kids who spent most of their time shut in their garage practicing with their band. From their home wafted the smell of cigarette smoke. I do not know what they did for a living. On their white van was a large bumper sticker that read, in large red letters, “Islamophobe and Proud of it.”
We were the Jews in the middle.
Since building understanding is part of your mission at AMANA, I would like to open up a dialogue between your community and mine. Right now, a plague of Islamophobia is growing in our country. The Jewish people are commanded to be Or Lagoyim, a Light to the Nations. So I feel it is my responsibility as a rabbi to help fight this plague and work toward ending its run in America. The Jews in the middle are commanded do not stand idly by, and instead work toward the day when all people will be one and acknowledge that God is one.
Brother Sofian, I know you just finished the holy month of your calendar, and I hope you and your community had a Ramadan Mubarak, a blessed Ramadan. As you probably know, we are now in our holiest time of the calendar year as well. We call them aseret yamei teshuvah, the ten days of repentance. We started last week on Rosh Hashanah, celebrating the Jewish New Year. Like the secular New Year, Rosh Hashanah symbolizes a new beginning for the Jewish people. We eat apples dipped in honey to symbolize the circular nature of the year, and our hope that it be a sweet one. We blow a shofar, a ram’s horn, to bring in the New Year with a loud noise that wakes us up and reminds us that it is time to start ourselves fresh, too.
Ten days after Rosh Hashanah we gather again for Yom Kippur, our Day of Atonement—which begins tonight. As I understand it, the fourth pillar of Islam is the belief in a final Day of Judgment, yawm al-din. Yom Kippur is referred to in our liturgy as yom hadin, our day of judgment. On Yom Kippur we spend the day in prayer and study to repent for our sins. We actually have an opportunity to do this every day during the prayer service, but if a Jew is going to go to synagogue only one day in the year, this would be the day. It is known as the Sabbath of Sabbaths, the holiest day of the Jewish year. We fast for 24 hours to help us focus on our spiritual needs instead of our bodies. Our goal for this day is to do what we call tshuvah. I think that by explaining tshuvah to you it might illuminate some of my hopes for the coming year between our two communities.
The word tshuvah has three basic meanings. It means “returning,” “response,” or “repentance.” Of course these three meanings are all related, yet each adds a significant emphasis to what we are doing on Yom Kippur when we make tshuvah.
Tshuvah shares its root with the word lashuv, to turn. The prophet Jeremiah uses this word to describe the best possible relationship between God and the people of Israel:
Im tashuv Yisrael, If you return, O Israel–declares Adonai—Im tashuv eilai, If you return to Me, If you remove your abominations from My presence And do not waver, and swear, "As Adonai lives," In sincerity, justice, and righteousness -- Nations shall bless themselves by you And praise themselves by you.[1]
Jeremiah describes returning, or repenting, as the tool by which we will merit the respect and admiration of other nations. Other people will look to our example and live by it.
Tshuvah as returning means we return to God and faith, to the best version of ourselves we can be, before we were corrupted by prejudice and negativity. It can also mean returning to our roots.
I think about our shared Biblical ancestor Abraham, the first person to embrace monotheism, acknowledging that there is only one God. According to the book of Genesis, after Abraham’s wife Sarah dies, he marries a woman named Keturah. Her name is related to the word ketoret, or incense. In the book of Exodus, Moses marries Tziporah, whose name in Hebrew we translate as “bird,” but it was also a type of incense in Biblical Hebrew. Incense was the import that we got from Ishmaelites, the Arab tribes that were the progenitors of modern Islam. All the more so Tziporah was a Medianite, daughter of the priest Jethro. Both of these women, therefore, represent the lively trade relationship the Israelites shared with the Ancient Arabs, the people who would become Mulsims.[2]
I think about Abraham’s first two sons, Isaac and Ishmael. A Midrash, a rabbinic teaching about the biblical text, suggests that Isaac and Abraham would take trips away from Sarah to visit Ishmael. This suggestion teaches us that both Abraham and Isaac had a loving relationship with Ishmael, and thereby his descendants.
I think about the Talmud, the magnum opus of generations of rabbis. The Talmud refers to some Arab clans as Tayaye. Tayaye were “seminomadic traders living in the vicinity of the Babylonian Jewish community of Pumbedita,” according to Rabbi Reuven Firestone.[3] They were a people who had a great deal of respect and understanding of Judaism and Jewish culture. A Tayaye is credited with showing Rabbah bar Hanah the spot where Korach’s rebels were buried, and shows him the spot “where heaven and earth kiss.”[4] The Talmud illustrates a positive relationship between Jews and monotheistic Arabs, again the people who would become Muslims.
Tshuvah as returning proposes that we go back to our ancient ways. We must heed the words of Jeremiah and return to God and our faith, which will allow other people to live by our example. Both Jews and Muslims must look to the examples set by those who came before us. We must return to the behavior of our ancestors, emphasizing the positive relationships between our two cultures, and cultivating loving relationships between our peoples.
You recently sent me a video of Muslims sharing worship space with Jews in Washington, DC. They celebrated the end of Ramadan by worshipping in an historic Jewish synagogue, donating canned goods to the Christian-run Salvation Army, and participating in an interfaith feast with Christians and Jews. They were invited in response to President Obama’s suggestion that we open dialogue between Jews and Muslims. The video suggests that interfaith events like these are becoming more frequent in Washington. It is my hope that they become frequent here in Miami, too, as well as here at Temple Sinai.
Through tshuvah we can return to the relationships we had in the Bible, in the Talmud, and in our nation’s capital. We can return to become communities that care for one another and understand one another.
In order to understand one another, we can look at the second meaning of tshuvah.
Tshuvah also means “response.” It is a response to questions we struggle with, questions of ideas we have difficulty grasping, and a response to help alleviate some of our own ignorance.
The question that keeps coming up lately is about Park51, the proposed Islamic Cultural Center in Lower Manhattan, has proven to be the catalyst for an intense period of questioning in our lives. It is perhaps the single most divisive issue being discussed today. Should we “allow” a building with an Islamic prayer space inside to be built two blocks away from the most horrific attack ever perpetrated on America?
It is incredibly difficult to get a response to this question when we are inundated with rhetoric from all sides. It has been called the “Ground Zero Mosque,” even though it is not a mosque, nor is it at Ground Zero. Park51 is a cultural center, exactly to you what a Jewish Community Center is to us. JCC’s are so important to us that Temple Sinai has just built a bridge to get closer to ours. We of all people should understand how important the Islamic Cultural Center is to you.
We have been told it will be thirteen stories high, which admittedly sounds huge to a Miamian. Here in North Miami Beach the apartment buildings stick out as they stretch above the other buildings around them. We have to realize that in New York City a thirteen story structure is nothing, blending in with the scenery and getting lost among much taller edifices. We have heard that two blocks away is much too close to World Trade Center Plaza. This leads to another question. How close is too close? Where do we draw the line? Will we force the building to be farther than a block? A mile? A city? A state? A country?
The tshuvah, the response to this question can only come from a place of understanding. We know we cannot tell a religion where they may or may not build their places of gathering and worship. If anyone tried to prevent the building of a JCC because of the actions of a fringe group of Jewish Fundamentalists, my people would raise a litigious firestorm. We know that Islam itself is not to blame for the attacks of 9/11, and we do not hold all Muslims accountable for the atrocities of that day.
I pray that our response to Park51 is one of acceptance and understanding. That it must be built where it is planned. At the same time, Park51 must respond with the pursuit of peace and positive interfaith relations. Imam Rauf, a liberal Muslim who works with the Reform Movement’s Commission on Interreligious Affairs, has already condemned the actions of Islamic Fundamentalists who would do harm to any people. I ask that all Muslim leaders do the same, publically and in a loud voice. To do tshuvah, to respond, with more than religious tolerance, but with mutual respect and appreciation is the best way to honor the fallen of 9/11.
Tshuvah can also mean repentance.
Judaism acknowledges that human beings are not perfect. God created imperfect beings that do good and bad. We try to do good. We try to react positively and work toward the best things in the world. It doesn’t always work that way. We make mistakes. We sin. We miss the mark. Tshuvah is the device God gives us to fix our mistakes and make good on the times we have missed the mark.
Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, in his book The Thirteen Petaled Rose, writes, “Repentance is not just a psychological phenomenon…it is a process that can effect real change in the world, in all worlds.” My hope is that we can, together, change the world through the power of tshuvah. Repentance is the device by which we end the cycle of “an eye for an eye,” and begin the process of healing our nation and our world.
Brother Sofian, I am writing to admit to you that we American Jews have sinned. We have not fought to guarantee the rights for Muslims that we would demand for ourselves. We should remember how it feels to be denied religious freedom. When we hear the rhetoric of Islamophobia we should be reminded of the ranting of those like Father Coughlin in the 1930’s. It was unacceptable to speak like that then, and it is unacceptable now. We have sinned by not speaking out against those who spread hatred by their words or their fingers. I myself sat silently and deleted anti-Islamic emails sent to groups of people. I watched as I learned from a colleague that it is important to tell our friends and family members not to send us these messages of intolerance. We must not let the voice of hate set the tone for our discourse. We have sinned with our silence and our inaction, and we need to make tshuvah.
I am also writing to ask that the Muslim community make efforts toward repentance. On AMANA’s web site there is a link to a Jewish Fundamentalist organization called Netorei Karta. Perhaps some of their goals match some of the goals of the Muslim community, but their motives are misguided. They are an anti-Zionist fringe group that misrepresents our sacred texts for their own political purposes. I am sure this link is not on your web site to intentionally insult or harm mainstream, Jewish moderates. Please make tshuvah and remove this link. Every step you make towards us makes it easier for us to step toward you.
Through tshuvah, through repentance, we can repair damages done by those who spread hatred and fear. Both the Jewish and Muslim communities have made mistakes. We say things that our counterparts do not understand. Imam Rauf has said things in the past that I find offensive, and I am sure there are Reform rabbis who have upset you and other Muslims. I hope to be a part of the process that brings our communities together through tshuvah. We can only do that by keeping open the lines of communication, even when we hear something that we might not agree with.
Let us be judged favorably on this Day of Judgment, whether we call it yawm al-din or yom hadin.
Brother Sofian, we must teach our two communities to learn about each other, to work with one another, and to care for one another. We can only do this by speaking in peace with one another. We must build a lasting relationship between the Muslim and Jewish communities that will serve as an example to all peoples, that will be a light to the nations; a light that will eventually lead us to mutual admiration, kindness, and peace.
I want to thank you by helping me make the first step toward peaceful dialogue. I am thrilled that you are able to be here tonight to hear me read this letter to you, and I hope it is the beginning of a strong relationship built on respect and understanding.

In Peace, Salaam, Shalom,
Rabbi David Nathan Young
(*Side note to anyone reading this letter--at this point I walked off the bimah and handed a copy of this letter to Br. Sofian. He promised me that he would remove the link to Netorei Karta from his web site. By Sunday morning, my first opportunity to go on line after Yom Kippur, he had already fulfilled his promise and removed the link from his web site.)
[1] Jeremiah 4:1-2
[2] Rabbi Reuven Firestone, An Introduction to Islam for Jews, [3] Ibid., [4] B. Talmud, Baba Metzia 86b

ACTION ALERT: STOP THE CAMPAIGN AGAIST ISLAM & MUSLIMS

LogoT H I S   M E S S A G E   T O   OUR   R E S P E C T E D   M U S L I M   L E A D E R S & O U R   F R I E N D S   A N D   A S S O C I A T E S

 ACTION ALERT: STOP THE CAMPAIGN AGAIST ISLAM & MUSLIMS

(PLEASE DISTRIBUTE THIS MESSAGE)

On Sunday, September 14, 2008 nearly fifty major newspapers throughout the United States carried as

an insert in their Sunday edition, a free pre-release one hour edition of the controversial film,

"Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West."  The release of the film, considered by many to be very incendiary, insensitive, negative, and aggressively biased, has caused an elevation of community concern. Who is the responsible! And let them show the public any benefit for our national security!

 

A decision by The Charlotte Observer and other newspapers to distribute as paid advertising a

DVD about Islamic fundamentalism brought objections Friday from Muslims, who condemned the documentary as "hate speech." The DVD called "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West" was inserted in about 200,000 copies of today's Observer.  More than 80 other U.S. newspapers, including the (Raleigh) News & Observer and Miami Herald, also are including the DVD in their deliveries.  According to reports in the Huffington Post, 28 million copies of the film are being delivered this week. The DVD has already been inserted into copies of The New York Times distributed in Midwestern states. This weekend and next, it is slated to be distributed in many newspapers in the electoral battleground states of Ohio, Michigan, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Colorado, in addition to North Carolina.

Muslims interviewed by the Observer charged that the distribution, less than two months before Election Day, is a ploy by the New York-based Clarion Fund to assist GOP presidential candidate John McCain, who leads Democrat Barack Obama in polling on national security issues.

 

(Pro-McCain Group Dumping 28 Million Terror Scare DVDs in Swing States, Eric Ose)

They are doing Da'wah (preaching) against Islam & Muslims.  We are the ones who are supposed to do Da'wah for Islam & Muslims.

 

Unfortunately, it is too late to call major newspapers to ask them why, when, and how... major newspapers have already distributed the DVD to poison the public's mind against Islam and Muslims and they have done the damage. 

 

The newspapers are partners with the DVD producers and instead of asking them about the reasons for distributing this harmful DVD or requesting them not to do it again, we should demand a sincere public apology that is available to all.  There is absolutely no excuse or logical reason for distributing a biased DVD of this nature when we consider all the hard work that both determined Muslims have been doing to encourage the message of tolerance and removing excessive fear from people's hearts.

The newspapers should also be held responsible for any increase of "Hate Crimes" against the Muslims, especially since they didn't have the common courtesy of considering such very possible harmful effects especially to Muslim children in America.

We should start to hire a team of lawyers to plan a group of law suits against the "Obsession" DVD movie producers, their financial supporters, and their promoters & distributors.

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

 

The American Muslims are the best resources in America. We have been working with all forces like the justice department, law enforcement, and Department of Homeland Security to protect our country from any future terrorist attacks.

The Obsession DVD movie has nothing to do with protecting our country from terrorism or even radicalism. It shows clearly that the goal of the makers is to bring more hate and discrimination and that will develop violence against Muslims. The terrorist attack of 9/11 also did the same by bringing hate and discrimination against Islam and Muslims. They (Terrorists and the Movie makers) both are partners to divide the American society and they both should be stopped.

 

9/11 did not benefit Islam and Muslims in America.  9/11 hurt us all and that is the reason it is the Muslims' war as well against terrorism and against extremists like the "Obsession Movie Makers".

 

The people who made this movie prove that their intention is to fight the American public by hurting and fighting the American Muslims.

The solution to deal with this evil campaign is by following the actions below:

1-  If you are subscribed to one of the newspapers that shared the distribution of the DVD, simply ask them to stop immediately the subscription of the newspaper until they write an apology.  Do not ask them why they did it rather explain to them why you are stopping the subscription. 

2-  If you are an owner of any grocery/retail stores, please ask them not to place their newspapers in their respective stands and refuse to carry them.  We have thousands of business stores owned by Muslims promoting their papers. Believe me that if the big advertisers discover that there are

no stands for the newspapers, those advertisers will complain more effectively than us.

3-  Open the newspaper and call each advertiser in the newspaper and/or send them e-mails and

faxes to complain about the newspapers blatant wrong doing and disregard against their customers

(that is us the American Muslims and others).

4-  For the American Muslim organizations, please we need to bring our issue to the Department of

Justice and I assure you with teamwork and cooperation we can win in the end and the makers

of the DVD will be exposed. We need to take them to court. Their evil action has nothing to do

with freedom of speech but rather it has to do with violating the very essence of religious tolerance in America.

 

5-  The most important action and I believe that it is also the most effective is to fight their Da'wah

against Islam and Muslims by doing our duties as Muslims and start to do a mass Da'wah for Islam & Muslims. I call upon all Muslims especially the Muslim organizations like ISNA, MAS, ICNA, CAIR, AMANA, the EEE &I, Discover Islam, IMPAC, IMAN, MANA, and all the Islamic Centers and all the

MSAs and the MSOs to start increasing their efforts to the maximum to buy all the public mailing lists, also through the same newspapers and door to door distribution to send CDs, DVDs, Brochures

and other materials on ISLAM, on Prophet MUHAMMAD (SAW), on SALAH, on RAMADAN, on HAJJ,

on WOMEN in Islam, and on CHARITY & GIVING, and other important issues to teach the public correctly about Islam and its harmonious message of peace.

Let us get the American public familiar with us. Let us teach them that Islam does not promote aggression and hate. Let us do our duties as Muslims by sending more than 100,000,000 Da'wah materials to the American Public. Our organization AMANA, the American Muslim Association of North America, have distributed for the past 11 years more that 100,000 thousand Qur'an and 100,000 books, brochures, & CDs, on Islam and Muslims.  Together we can send more than 100,000,000 and that way we will show the truth.  I am confident that the American public will not be misled if we react from today to practice our rights on defending the truth and continue to set good examples. 

It is the truth my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters that will bring a healthier society in this country.  It will reinforce the message that people of all faiths should live in peace without neglecting anybody's civil rights.

 

Without a tolerant, healthy society we will never be a stronger America against all the challenges we are facing.

It is a shame that in this age of education and in this diverse country of America, that we have to address such an issue.  But I hope you sincerely agree that we cannot afford to stay quiet or passive and let all of our hard work be overturned by a disgraceful decision such as of the distributing of this DVD.  If we do not take action, then you can imagine what to expect in the future.  Let's be proud American Muslims and let our voices be heard so that we can pave a bright future of hope for the next generation, not a future filled with unsupported fear and intolerance.  Finally, let us be the positive change and pray for the best. (PLEASE DISTRIBUTE THIS MESSAGE)

Sincerely,

Br. Sofian Abdelaziz Zakkout

The Board of Directors of AMANA

American Muslim Association of North America

Related articles:

  http://al-amana.net/home/2008/09/18/republican-jewish-coalition-responsible-for-mailing-%e2%80%9cobsession%e2%80%9d-an-anti-muslim-film/

  Controversial film on Islam delivered nationwide

http://al-amana.net/home/2008/09/15/controversial-film-on-islam-delivered-nationwide/

  Obsession the Movie

http://www.obsessionthemovie.com/?gclid=CK-FsYKF4pUCFSCcnAodygSNfA

  Is DVD a wake-up call or propaganda?

http://www.mcall.com/news/local/all-a1_5clarion.6587003sep13,0,1060082.story?track=rss

DVD inside The News-Press controversial

http://www.news-press.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080914/NEWS01/80913033/1075

 TV

American Muslim Association of North America

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You are invited to: THE THIRD ANNUAL PREPAREDNESS DAY

PRESS RELEASE FOR EMMEDIAT RELEASEFlyer of Preparedness at MJAM

You are invited to: THE THIRD ANNUAL PREPAREDNESS DAY

Muslims, Christians, Jews and other communities are requested to join together for a day of

Preparedness for the Hurricane season.

The Hurricane Season started! Free!!! Literatures, CDs, DVD, and more on how to

be prepared from all kinds of disasters especially Hurricanes and Storms.

We need to work together for the seek of a healthy society and for a stronger Americ 

WHEN: Sunday July 10, 2011.            

TIME: From 4:00 PM To 8:00 PM

WHERE: at MJAM, Masjid Jamaat Almumineen.

ORGANIZED: By AMER, the American Muslims for Emergency & Relief, Inc.

                      AMER is a MUSLIM CERT, Community Emergency Response Team.

                      "Muslim Neighbors 4 Neighbors" www.amerelief.com     

, FREE FOOD

(BBQ of Hamburgers and Hotdogs) will be served to the public.

MJAM, Masjid Jamaat Al Mumineen will distribute FREE

valuable "Emergency Kit" For the first 100 visitors.

 FOR MORE INFORMATION: (305) 898-9314, (954) 536-0395

http://al-amana.net/home/wp-content/uploads/2007/02/Flyer-of-Preparedness-at-MJAM.jpg

LOCATION: at MJAM, Masjid Jamaat Almumineen

3222 Holiday Springs BLVD., Margate, FL 33063

The steady increment of islampphobic expressions throughout the past years come as a product of concerted efforts of various individuals and institutions

AMANA PRESS RELEASE

PRESS RELEASE: ISLAMOPHOBIA FUNDING NETWORK IN US DISCOVERED

August 31, 2011 (Miami, FL)

As the 10th anniversary of September 11 attacks approaches our nation  witness once again the increment on Islamophobic rhetoric throughout all media outlets; traditional, electronic and through social networks.  The steady increment of islampphobic expressions throughout the past years come as a product of concerted efforts of various individuals and institutions that have been and continue to be funded with millions of dollars. This is why the Islamphobia spokesmen such as Robert Spencer, Frank Gaffrey, Pamela Geller, Joe Kauffman and many others have made a living out of spreading hate and xenophobia. Their hateful discourses have made it even to directly influence Norway’s recent terrorist acts committed by Breivik who directly cited in his manifesto recognized Islamophobics such as Spencer and Gaffrey

In recent days the Center for American Progress published a report:  Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America exposes some of the funding sources that many individuals and institutions contribute to spread Islamophobia by the dozens of millions of dollars, specifically an amount over $ 42 million dollars. Among these, the top seven are:

•           Donors Capital Fund

•           Richard Mellon Scaife foundations

•           Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation

•           Newton D. & Rochelle F. Becker foundations and charitable trust

•           Russell Berrie Foundation

•           Anchorage Charitable Fund and William Rosenwald Family Fund

•           Fairbrook Foundation

 

AMANA calls the attention not to forget that among the main economic contributors is the Clarion Fund; that was directly responsible for funeling  dozens of millions of dollars to prepare and distribute Islamophobic DVD inserted on main circulation newspapers some years ago:  “Obsession : Radical Islam War Against the West” and is also responsible for “StopRadicalIslam.org” : on which images of the Twin Towers are used as part of their logo.

For all those citizens and institutions interested in receiving a copy of the “Fear, Inc. Report” a PDF copy may be downloaded on its totality at no cost at: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2011/08/pdf/islamophobia.pdf

For further comments, analysis ; and availability for interviews contact AMANA’s Director Br. Sofian Zakkout at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone number 305-898-9314.

AMANA, JADA and ADC-FL congratulate the State of Palestine on gaining United Nations status

Press Release - For Immediate RELEASE

 

ARAB, MUSLIM AND JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS CONGRATULATE PALESTINE

 (Miami-FL November 30, 2012) The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), the American Muslim Association of North America (AMANA) and the Jewish Arab Dialogue Association (JADA) congratulate the State of Palestine on gaining United Nations status. In a vote just moments ago, the U.N. member states voted in favor of conferring nonmember observer state status to Palestine. The vote passed with 138 countries voting “yes,” 9 voting “no,” and 41 countries abstaining from the vote.

After 65 years of occupation by Israel of Palestinian territories, which represents the longest occupation in human history, the world has responded today on Nov.29, 2012 by voting for Palestinian Statehood and full sovereignty.

It is time for the US to realize that supporting Israel does not signify, nor should it translate, in being opposed to legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians for sovereignty and the right to self determination. This the path to winning not only the  support and cooperation of the Arab & Islamic worlds, but also all peace loving people who yearn to see a lasting and just peace among all the Children of Abraham. 

It is important to recognize that this victory for the Palestinians is also a victory for peace loving moderates against extremists, whose only reason for being is to foment conflict and turmoil for them to continue to exist and to be in power. 

The United States should take the initiative to press both parties to negotiate a real and lasting peace, without any pre-conditions, which should result in equal sovereignty for both, insuring that a viable Palestinian State emerges which now has its name enshrined in the hearts of every Palestinian and is a reality acknowledged by most of the World.

- For the American Arab Anti Discrimination Committee, (ADC, FL Chapter)

Dr. Souheil E. Elia, Executive Board Director & Chairman - Community Affairs Committee, Tel: 702-722-9005, 954-232-9837

- For the American Muslim Association of North America- (AMANA)-

Br. Sofian Abdelaziz Zakout, Director & Counselor, Tel: 305-898-9314

- For The Jewish Arab Dialog Association, (JADA, FL.)

Jack Lieberman -Co-Founder and Co-Chairman, Tel:305-482-4846

(AMANA) vehemently condemns Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s statements suggesting to move US Embassy in Israel to the city of Jerusalem

(Miami-Florida-USA July 29, 2012)

PRESS RELEASE: American Muslim Association of North America (AMANA) vehemently  condemns Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s statements suggesting to move US Embassy in Israel to the city of Jerusalem; and also referring to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In his most recent visit to Benjamin Netanjahu and other Israeli leaders, Mitt Romney suggested in a CNN interview that the American Embassy in Israel should be moved to Jerusalem. Romney specifically stated:  "A nation has the capacity to choose its own capital city, and Jerusalem is Israel's capital…  I think it's long been the policy to ultimately have our embassy in the nation's capital of Jerusalem."

Romney’s statements depart from the official American policy during the past 60 years on not recognizing the claim of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. His inflammatory statements have an agenda of destabilizing the region since the issue of Jerusalem remains a contentions and sensible matter.  UN member states and international organizations do not recognize Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem. The United Nations have continuously condemned the illegitimate and illegal Israeli policies of continuous evictions of Christian and Muslim Arabs from East Jerusalem followed by expansion of illegal Israeli settlements.

 

Mitt Romney’s statements using the Palestine and the Arab – Israeli conflict for political gain are irresponsible and dangerous.  AMANA strongly condemns Romney’s  reckless statements on Jerusalem that evidently demonstrate once again his ignorance and incapacity to lead the foreign policy of our Nation

 

For further comments, analysis; and availability for interviews contact AMANA’s Director Br. Sofian Zakkout at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   or phone number 305-898-9314.

(AMANA) stands in solidarity with the victims of the deadly shooting attack at Wisconsin Sikh Temple

PRESS RELEASE No. 1
(Miami-Florida-USA August 5, 2012)
The American Muslim Association of North America (AMANA) stands in solidarity with the victims of the deadly shooting attack at Wisconsin Sikh Temple. This clear act of domestic terrorism attempts against the integrity and values of our nation specifically our core principle of Freedom of Worship.
This heinous act evidences that perpetrators of terrorist act may come from any ethnicity, nationality, or religious group; and also we are all victims of terrorism.
The thoughts and prayers of the American Muslim community and AMANA are with the Milwaukee and the rest of the American Sikh community in this time of loss, sadness and grievance.

For further comments, analysis; and availability for interviews contact AMANA’s Director Br. Sofian Zakkout at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone number 305-898-9314.

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