While good Jewish-Muslim relations often prove elusive in some parts of the world, it’s important to celebrate progress, wherever it occurs. One baby step took place last week when businessman S.A. Ibrahim, who lives in Tiburon, became the first Muslim appointed to a regional Anti-Defamation League board.
The breakthrough happened in Philadelphia, where Ibrahim’s private mortgage insurance company, Radian, is based. Ibrahim is now officially a member of the ADL’s Eastern Pennsylvania/Delaware board.
As our story on page 3a reveals, Ibrahim is a special person. A native of Hyderabad, India, he grew up well educated in a cosmopolitan setting, inculcated with a deep respect for all peoples, cultures and faiths, including Judaism.
After moving to the United States and achieving financial success, he turned his attention to interfaith relations. Though he admitted that he once harbored resentment toward Israel, he and his family traveled to the Jewish state two years ago and felt very welcome.
His 25-year-old son, though not Jewish, was a member of the Jewish fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi, at Johns Hopkins University.
Ibrahim’s attitude fits in well with the mission of the ADL, which seeks to combat prejudice against all peoples, not just Jews. The world desperately needs more visionaries like S.A. Ibrahim.
What we’d like to see next is commensurate action on the part of Muslim groups, if not in the Middle East then here in the United States. There is no reason why Muslim organizations created to combat Islamophobia should not appoint Jews to their boards.
The important thing is to see the fight against hate as not just the fight of any one ethnic group. No one has a corner on the market of victimization. Prejudice against one is prejudice against all. The ADL has understood this truth for decades.
There are other examples of Muslim-Jewish cooperation, such as the Israel-based Abraham Fund, which has been working for Arab-Jewish coexistence in Israel since 1989, and U.S. “twinning” programs, in which members of the two faiths visit each other’s houses of worship.
It is our hope that more Muslim groups, which rightfully stand up against hate speech and hate crimes directed against Muslims, will embrace Jews as allies, and will likewise stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Jews when anti-Semitism rears its ugly head.
Ibrahim says he would like to get involved with ADL activities in the Bay Area, where he lives. We expect he will be met with open arms, should he reach out. Congratulations to him on his appointment, and may this open doors for Muslim-Jewish cooperation in the future.