An student group that previously sponsored an event with Mohammed El-Kurd recently boycotted an interfaith Passover-Ramadan event.
By Pesach Benson, United With Israel
This year’s overlapping holidays of Passover and Ramadan provided plenty of opportunities for interfaith events meant to build bridges.
For example, Yossi Dagan, the head of the Samaria Regional Council and a group of local Arab sheikhs made headlines in early April when they joined together for a traditional iftar meal, a meal served at sunset when Muslims break their daylight fasting.
Similar interfaith Passover-Ramadan events were held around the world at universities, diplomatic missions, and local religious and cultural institutions. All went off without a hitch.
But not at American University in Washington D.C. The Muslim Student Association (MSA) pulled its participation from a Passover-Ramadan iftar-seder over the campus Hillel’s support of Israel, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported.
By way of background, the MSA was one of the sponsors of a visit by Mohammed El-Kurd, a controversial Palestinian activist whose dispatches, poetry and social media posts frequently feature antisemitic tropes. After Jewish students circulated a petition against El-Kurd, the event was moved to an off-campus venue.
“Hillel’s continued support for the state of Israel after this attack contradicts our values of human rights and justice and we are unable to participate in a co-sponsored campus event at this time,” the MSA posted on social media following a Palestinian riot on the Temple Mount.
“We stand in solidarity with Palestine,” the post added, going on to call Israel “a settler-colonial and apartheid state.”
The MSA post claimed it was not aware that Hillel was one of the interfaith event’s co-sponsors.
Jason Benkendorf, the AU Hillel executive director, told the JTA that despite the MSA’s withdrawal, the event went ahead successfully with the partnership of other campus organizations.
“We are disappointed that the MSA chose not to participate and are hurt by their decision to express their disagreement with Israel’s actions by boycotting our campus Jewish community,” Benkendorf said.
“We don’t believe this is in keeping with the values of our campus. Regardless, AU Hillel will continue to foster meaningful opportunities for interfaith and cross-cultural engagement.”