In wake of the 2016 election results, Muslims and Jews have come together to stand against the rising number of hate crimes committed across the U.S. The newly formed Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council aims to unify leaders from both the Muslim and Jewish American communities to discuss issues of common concern. So far, the group has brought together advocate groups such as American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) in addition to the 31 initial members.
According to a recent Buzzfeed article, council members met to discuss the group’s mission with the purpose of “identifying and establishing a mutual and domestic policy agenda” designed to help minority communities. Bob Silverman, director of Muslim-Jewish relations at the AJC, said that the creation of the council was not a reaction to the election results. There was a need for the Muslim and Jewish communities to come together long before the election, and leaders began formulating ideas for the group a year ago. Council members include political, business and religious leaders from both communities.
Stanley Bergman and Farooq Kathwari, both co-chairs of the council, said that the Jewish and Muslim communities have faced many similar issues and must work together in a joint effort to improve their communities and the community at large.
“The Council aims to provide a model for civic engagement by two communities, vital to American society, that agree to work together on issues of common concern and overlapping interest,” Kathwari, the president of the furniture chain Ethan Allen, said.
The Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council will work to tackle and address policy issues in order to protect marginalized communities and their most recent plans include a gala reception for newly appointed members of Congress.
According to FBI statistics released recently, the number of hate crimes against Muslims rose by 67 percent in 2015—the second-highest percentage increase recorded since 1992. Additionally, over half of religious hate crime incidents that were reported last year were anti-Jewish. At a time when Muslims and other minorities feel threatened and hate crimes related to religion are at an all time high, the alliance is especially important.
The mission of the event will be to lobby Congress to pass laws designed specifically for the protection of faith-based minorities, both inside and outside of the workplace. The council considers itself to be the first major national organization created for this purpose and its members will focus on drafting and defending legislature meant to accommodate religious practices, address religious discrimination at work and provide support for refugees during the immigration process, among other issues.
In the aftermath of his win, President-elect Donald Trump has begun appointing leaders notorious for their far-right beliefs such as Steve Bannon, whom Trump named as his chief strategist. Bannon is the executive chairman of Breitbart News, a conservative news site noted for its connection to the alt-right. As Trump continues to appoint advisors and aids who are unapologetically bigoted, it is vital that minorities form alliances to help ensure their safety. Efforts like the newly formed council will play a large role in taking a stance against bigotry and injustice in the United States.