We will not be divided – an open letter
As Jewish, Muslim, and Jewish-Muslim organisations, initiatives, alliances, and institutions that have created spaces for Jewish-Muslim encounters, we have decided to write this open letter because we refuse to allow the conflict in the Middle East to destroy our shared community and our political and cultural work here in Germany.
Over the years, we have built up diverse alliances and networks between Jewish and Muslim organisations, communities, and individuals despite difficult circumstances and through delicate and complex processes. We will defend them against a new wave of hate and disinformation. Any time the conflict in the Middle East is played out here in Germany, we all suffer!
We therefore wish to make two points very clear:
1. We condemn all anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim racism
We condemn any kind of anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim racism and every form of violence and hate, such as the recent attacks on synagogues Germany, as in Bonn and Gelsenkirchen. We strongly object to Jews and Muslims in this country being held responsible for what is happening in the Middle East, whether via physical violence or corresponding representations on social media. This misplaced assignment of responsibility is an expression of anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim racism that endangers the present and future of our collaboration and community with one another. It is exactly this dynamic that our work over the years has sought to work against.
Jewish-Muslim relations are anything but a given. We have invested much time and care in building mutual trust so that we do not have to shy away from questions that may upset each other. These questions are interwoven with complex historical dynamics that involve suffering and trauma. We have learned to endure our differences, even if this is not always easy. We have also discovered many commonalities and formulated goals for how we as Jews and Muslims want to and can live together in Germany, and what we also expect from the majority society. We will therefore not allow our Jewish-Muslim friendships and alliances to be instrumentalised for political purposes or reduced to the Middle East conflict.
2. There must be room for different views on the Middle East conflict.
The conflict in the Middle East is a hot button issue within Jewish-Muslim relations – we are well aware of that. That people have different views of the conflict in the Middle East is understandable; our perspectives are shaped by our differing socialisations, experiences, knowledge, and emotions. Any open, pluralistic, democratic society must allow room for that. We can and must live with these differences, as they exist not only between Jews and Muslims, but also within different groups. We also recognise, however, that the conflict in the Middle East is not the norm in Jewish-Muslim relations; it is not an essential part of being Muslim or Jewish, but rather a specific about which everyone can have a responsible opinion. We also assume that the conflict in the Middle East need not by definition be a topic of Jewish-Muslim relations or discussions. Our work deals with a wealth of topics, and this will not change. We will not let our work be reduced to the conflict in the Middle East.