The Dangers of Interfaith Dialogue with Fanatics

Two weeks ago, Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, hosted a group of British Muslim clergymen for tea and cake at Lambeth Palace, his official residence. Among those in attendance were Mohammad Ali Shomali, a former representative of Iran whose organization is currently under investigation by UK authorities, and Mohammed Kozbar, who has praised Hamas, associated with notorious anti-Semitic Islamists, and is the deputy head of a group that has been boycotted by the British government since 2009 for its pro-terrorism stance. Stephen Pollard comments:

I don’t for a moment think that Welby is even remotely sympathetic to the views of Shomali or Kozbar. But the fact that he is happy to host them at Lambeth Palace points to the fundamental flaw in so much interfaith dialogue. For one thing the word dialogue is a misnomer, because this is not a serious exchange between people openly sharing their views. It is, rather, a form of hekhsher, [a kosher certification]. For the likes of Shomali and Kozbar, it’s a mechanism by which they can, bit by bit, normalize their public standing.

That’s because all too often, as we see in this instance, those who invite people with such views for tea or its equivalent don’t do anything resembling due diligence about what their guests actually say and believe. Worse—and I think this is more often the case—they don’t even care, because they naively think that “it’s good to talk”—that somehow if we all sit round and talk that must be a good thing in itself, when the act of sitting together and talking can, in reality, be a very bad thing.

Worse still, Pollard observes, such exercises often undermine “all those moderate Muslim voices who despair that organizations like the [Kozbar’s Muslim Council of Britain] are seen as being the appropriate representative of British Muslims.”

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Church of England, Interfaith dialogue, Islamism

Ordinary Gazans Are Turning against Hamas—and Its Western Sympathizers

In the past few days, difficult-to-confirm reports have emerged of unrest in the Gaza Strip, and of civilians throwing stones at Hamas operatives. A recent video from Al Jazeera showed a Gazan declaring that “God will bring Qatar and Turkey to account” for the suffering of Palestinians in the current war. Being an agent of the Qatari government, the journalist turned away, and then pushed the interviewee with his hand to prevent him from getting near the microphone. Yet this brief exchange contributes much to the ongoing debate about Palestinian support for Hamas, and belies the frequent assertion by experts that the Israeli campaign is only “further radicalizing” the population.

For some time, Joseph Braude has worked with a number of journalists and researchers to interview ordinary Gazans under circumstances where they don’t fear reprisals. He notes that the sorts of opinions they share are rarely heard in Western media, let alone on Al Jazeera or Iran-sponsored outlets:

[A] resident of Khan Younis describes how locals in a bakery spontaneously attacked a Hamas member who had come to buy bread. The incident, hardly imaginable before the present war, reflects a widespread feeling of “disgust,” he says, after Gazan aspirations for “a dignified life and to live in peace” were set back by the Hamas atrocities of October 7.

Fears have grown that this misery will needlessly be prolonged by Westerners who strive, in effect, to perpetuate Hamas rule, according to one Gazan woman. Addressing protesters who have taken to the streets to demand a ceasefire on behalf of Palestinians, she calls on them to make a choice: “Either support the Palestinian people or the Hamas regime that oppresses them.” If protesters harbor a humanitarian motive, she asks, “Why don’t we see them demonstrating against Hamas?”

“Hamas is the destruction of the Palestinian people. We’ve had enough. They need to be wiped out—because if they remain, the people will be wiped out.”

You can watch videos of some of the interviews by clicking the link below.

Read more at Free Press

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion