Critical Normalization (Muslim Leadership Initiative at the Shalom Hartman Institute)


About the Muslim Leadership Initiative, I saw a couple of things a couple weeks ago, before the new violence in Gaza, and before the murders of Naftali Frankel, Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Muhammed Khdeir. I was going to let it drop, but then today a colleague and FB friend posted another piece about  it. I’m actually getting tired of reading what Jews have to say for and against and about Israel and Zionism and Palestine and the conflict. This debate in the American Muslim community about same is much more interesting. At its heart is the inter-religious, inter-ethnic dialogue and the meaning of “normalization”

That the program involving the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem violates both the spirit and practice of BDS lies at the heart of the controversy regarding the Muslim Leadership Initiative (MLI). Organized by Abdullah Antepli through the Shalom Hartman Institute (SHI), the program is designed to bring U.S. Muslims to Israel in order to learn and to debate first hand in an open and critical way the complexities of the Israel & Palestine conflict. The first group of articles that I saw was written by participant Rabia Chaudry, which you can read here and here. Then there was this very critical push back by Sana Saeed against normalization, which you can read here. And then there’s this, which you can read here, by Antepli himself.

The Antepli piece is interesting for how the author describes how, in his own experience, the conflict in Israel and Palestine warped into anti-Semitism. Now’s a good time to post all these articles together. After this round of fighting in Gaza and Israel ebbs, what other real choice is there but for Jews and Arabs, Palestinians and Israelis to come to terms with each other and their narratives. I would hope that more Muslims come to see that normalization is a good thing, as long as everyone understands that genuine normal-ization is always critical, and that criticism does not preclude normalization. That would be my own liberal article of faith.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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3 Responses to Critical Normalization (Muslim Leadership Initiative at the Shalom Hartman Institute)

  1. dmf says:

    do you know if anyone in Jewish studies is working on these aspects of Dewey/pragmatism?

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