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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

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