The Imam and the Sergeant: Open Letter to Mr. Jeffrey Goldberg

Dear Mr. Goldberg,

In your Atlantic article last week (“‘Ground Zero’ Immam…”) you heap praise on Imam Rauf and excoriate his critics:

The right-wing campaign against the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” includes vicious personal attacks on the Muslim cleric who leads the Cordoba Initiative, the organization behind the plan. I know Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, and I know him to be a moderate, forward-leaning Muslim — yes, it is true he has said things with which I disagree, but I have never expected him to function as a member of the Zionist Organization of America.

Now here is why I am writing. You no doubt know of Sgt. Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who was abducted from Israel by Hamas more than four years ago and who has been held hostage, incommunicado, for all this time. International groups like the Red Cross have been denied access to him. It is a barbaric action by these Islamists, and it is ongoing. So here is my thought. You tell us that Imam Rauf, while devoted to Islam, of course, is also both moderate and forward-leaning (whatever that means), and you tell us that he is a man you know. You vouch for him. So this is my suggestion. Get the Imam to prevail upon Hamas (a group the Imam has always refused to criticize), to prevail upon this group of fellow-Muslims to end their barbaric imprisonment of Sergeant Shalit.

Can you do that, Mr. Goldberg ? That would be, how can I put it, very forward-leaning on your part.


Werner Cohn

3 thoughts on “The Imam and the Sergeant: Open Letter to Mr. Jeffrey Goldberg”

  1. It would be a great thing if Rauf could prevail upon Hamas, but since they hold him in contempt as both a moderate and a Sufi, what makes you think this would help?

    It’s not that Rauf refuses to condemn Hamas, it’s that he doesn’t want to make a political statement. I wish he would, but it’s apparently a hornets’ nest for him and maybe he feels it’s none of his business.

    Think of something comparable among Jews. Should rabbis be compelled to condemn Kahanists (e.g., Baruch Goldstein or Yigal Amir) or racist statements or legislative initiatives by Yisrael Beitenu? I wish they would, but I wouldn’t condemn them for not doing so if they want to stay away from controversy.

  2. I have yet to meet a rabbi who does not condemn Jewish terrorism. That is routine in the Jewish community here and abroad. When Jewish terrorism was a factor, for instance in the days of the “Stern Gang” (Lechi), all the responsible spokespeople of the Jewish community condemned it. Compare this to the deafening silence among Muslims concerning Hamas.

  3. I need to add one more thing: there are uncounted numbers of Jewish individuals and Jewish organizations (Meretz among them) exclusively devoted to pointing out every little blemish on the part of Jews as they relate to Jewish-Arab relations, blemishes both real and imagined, while strenuously finding excuses for the the Islamists. There is nothing in any way comparable on the Muslim side. This I. Rauf cannot even get himself to criticize Hamas without equivocating.
    BTW, equivocation seems to be Rauf’s guiding principle. Here as elsewhere, equivocation is the handmaiden to evil.

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