In the wake of the Hamas-led riots at the Israeli-Gaza border, a group of prominent Muslim leaders in Britain have purchased several full-page ads in major British newspapers to condemn anti-Semitism and urged vigilance in the Muslim community against those who “cynically use international issues” to demonize the Jewish community.
The ad, signed by leaders of groups including Faith Matters, a Muslim anti-extremism group; the Association of British Muslims, and Tell MAMA, a clearinghouse for complaints about anti-Muslim attacks, urged Muslims to “speak out” whenever they see signs of “one of history’s oldest and most virulent hatreds.”
Haaretz reported on Monday that the ads show a bold headline: “We Muslims have one word for Jews. Shalom,” — the Hebrew word for peace.
“As British Muslims, we believe the time has come to speak out. For too long anti-Semitism has gone unchecked,” begins the letter, warning against attempts to use politics to promote anti-Semitic ideas, with specific reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“We understand that many in our country empathize with the Palestinians and their right to a sovereign state,” the letter said. “However, we must be ever vigilant against those who cynically use international issues to vilify Jews or promote anti-Semitic tropes. There is no cause that can justify the promotion of hate.”
In their letter, Muslim leaders also observed that, “As Muslims, we believe that our future peace, security and prosperity in this great country cannot be ensured while Jewish communities feel under threat,” adding “It is our duty to speak out against all forms of hatred and bigotry — against anti-Semitism no less than anti-Muslim hatred.”
The appeal concludes saying that “the struggle against one of history oldest and most virulent hatreds is not your fight along but ours collectively,” and the last line of the ad comes from a Hebrew hymn and translates to “How good it is, for brothers and sisters to sit together.”
The ad received many positive responses from the Jewish community, including from the Board of Deputies of British Jews, who thanked the group of Muslim leaders for their “incredible solidarity.” It added: “Together we will defeat the twin evils of antisemitism & anti-Muslim hate.”
The campaign was sponsored by a nonprofit organization called Muslims Against Anti-Semitism (MAAS) and features an open letter with over a dozen signatories, including journalists, former members of parliament, and religious leaders. So far, the ads have run in The Times, The Daily Telegraph, and The Metro.
On Monday, former London mayor Ken Livingstone resigned from the Labour Party over allegations of anti-Semitism. Livingstone was suspended in April 2016 after saying that when Hitler won power in Germany in the early 1930s, “his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described Livingstone’s resignation as “sad after such a long and vital contribution to London and progressive politics.” He added that resigning was “the right thing to do.”