Effects of Fighting in the Middle East Felt in the U.S.

October 7, 2000

Source: Los Angeles Times

On October 7, 2000, the Los Angeles Times reported that "the latest crisis in the Middle East that has flared into bloody confrontations between Israelis and Palestinians is putting already troubled efforts in Southern California to promote dialogue between Muslims and Jews to a severe test. The Muslim-Jewish Dialogue group, set in place in July 1999, and its newly formed crisis management committee were designed to give the two communities a forum for talking over differences on issues before issuing public statements. But as deaths and injuries mounted for a week, neither group met. Instead, some members of the dialogue group, including the Progressive Jewish Alliance, a liberal organization, and several well-known Muslim leaders called a news conference at which they denounced hard-line Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon for triggering the violence by visiting Jerusalem's Temple Mount--known to Arabs as Haram al Sharif, the noble sanctuary. The groups said they acted after it became clear that the dialogue group was not speaking out against the violence or could not endorse their specific proposals...With the signing of a code of ethics in December, members of the dialogue group said they hoped that during times of crisis they would close ranks in repudiating violence and incivility. If they could demonstrate such cooperation among Jews and Muslims in Southern California, they said, they could become a model for similar approaches elsewhere, including the Middle East. Now, leaders say the fast-paced developments and the lack of a common Muslim-Jewish statement of concern may require a reexamination of how religious leaders in such a religiously diverse region respond to a crisis that involves both communities."