We are, respectively, an imam and an Orthodox rabbi. Last month, our two congregations initiated a series of joint gatherings to enable our people to get to know one another, and study our respective sacred texts together. We were motivated simply by the recognition that the histories and the destinies of our peoples are inextricably intertwined, and that in a vacuum of genuine personal knowledge and understanding of one another, terrible, regrettable things can occur. Ignorance is the oxygen that feeds suspicion, mistrust, and enmity, and relationship is the antidote.
We are both alarmed and disturbed by the fact that the American-Muslim community is now under official investigation, as House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) has opened hearings to investigate “the Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response.” Both of us recognize the reality and the severity of the terrorist threat that our country faces, and the essential need to forcefully combat it. But we also firmly believe that the particular strategy that the Congressman has embraced for doing so is both morally misguided, and much more likely to exacerbate the problem than to remediate it.