Proclaim Enough – Paris Reflections

Peace for Paris

Illustration by Jean Jullien

Dear Friends,

Today is a day filled with sorrow. As once again, our hearts are broken for the more than 120 innocents murdered across Paris. We ache for them, for their families and friends, and for their nation which is under siege.

Today is a day when we stand in solidarity with the French people from all walks of life and diverse beliefs. In one voice, we denounce the violent extremists – apparently ISIS followers – who claim “credit” for butchering people just going about their lives in restaurants, concerts and as they moved across their city.

We also mourn and draw attention to the over 40 Lebanese deliberately slaughtered only days ago – including Sh’ia Muslims, Christians and Druse – by two ISIS suicide bombers in Beirut.

We remember in profound sorrow the Israelis and Palestinians – Jews, Christians and Muslims – who are dying amid a rapidly escalating cycle of condemnation, division and violence in their homeland.

We recognize the Muslim and Christian Syrians who are desperately seeking to escape from the horrors that ISIS and others are inflicting on them in what was once a thriving nation.

And we must not allow ourselves to forget Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian toddler who we all mourned, when he washed onto a beach as his family sought to escape the constant terror that Syrians now face.

Today, with one voice, we must remember the horror of Paris and horrors across our globe. But we must do more. We must reaffirm our commitment to the core values in our many traditions and beliefs, and to our shared humanity.

There are many possible responses to today’s horror in Paris. Sadness fills us. But this is also a time to recommit to one another. To standing together amid our many differences, to honoring our neighbors and joining with them to stand against the aberrant extremism that threatens us all.

Let us stand together and, with strength, proclaim enough!

Joyce S. Dubensky

There’s No Room for Stereotyping in NYPD Training

Last January, when the New York Police Department’s use of the anti-Muslim, stereotype-filled film “The Third Jihad” came to light, the Department claimed that it had been “mistakenly screened” for a few officers. This week, we learned that the film has actually been shown to nearly 1,500 officers, looped repeatedly and featured an interview with Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

The problem here is not that the NYPD seeks to be informed about radical extremism and terrorism. That is a critical part of their job and necessary to keep New York City and our nation safe. What is problematic is this particular film and the way it uses fear, frightening stereotypes and hatred to define a diverse and important American group – the American Muslim community. The dilemma is where to draw the line between preparing police to deal with the reality of extremist ideologies and avoiding frightening stereotypes that disparage an entire community.
Repeated stereotypes and misinformation like those in “The Third Jihad” take on the aura of truth and can pose a risk to reasoned conduct. Repeated often enough, the stereotypes become the “Big Lie.” The looping and repetition of “The Third Jihad” before the men and women of the NYPD risks becoming such a lie. Tanenbaum calls on the Police Department to institute inclusive, fact-based religious diversity training for all officers – including, but not limited to, fact-based training on the American Muslim community in the U.S.
“The Third Jihad” features ominous music and portrays images of terrorist violence as a narrator declares: “This is the true agenda of much of Muslim leadership in America… A strategy to infiltrate and dominate America.” The film was produced by the Clarion Fund, a non-profit organization that has produced other anti-Islam films.
That these films were made and disseminated is troubling. That they are presented as truth to a captive audience of law enforcement personnel is infinitely more so. The NYPD has struggled to maintain positive relationships with the city’s many Muslims and their communities. Those relationships were strained following the Associated Press’s reportage about NYPD surveillance of Muslim communities in the city. They are now threatened once again.
Commissioner Kelly has publicly stated that cooperation with the Clarion Fund was a mistake. Tanenbaum asks him to go two steps further: first, by instituting department-wide diversity training that equips officers to liaise with the many faith communities with which they come into daily contact; and second, by holding accountable every officer who perpetrates messages of hate and disinformation about Muslims or members of our community from any belief system.
The NYPD protects all of us regardless of creed, national origin, race or class. As such, let it serve as a model not only by accepting responsibility for its poor decision but also by moving to rectify it with non-partisan training that recognizes the common humanity of all New Yorkers.
Joyce S. Dubensky