For American Muslim twitterati, 2014 was, in many ways, defined by major social media conflicts. Muslims quarreled online about the Abu Easa controversy, Alice in Arabia, the movement to boycott the White House Iftar, the “Happy” music videos, and the conversations about race in privilege around community inattention to anti-black police brutality. But arguably the deepest cleavages emerged around the Muslim Leadership Initiative (MLI), a project by the Shalom Hartman Institute.
MLI invites hand-picked American Muslim chaplains, journalists, interfaith activists and other civic leaders to participate in a fellowship to learn about how “Jews understand Judaism, Israel and Jewish peoplehood.” As the existence of the MLI fellowship became public, many American Muslim activists expressed their dismay and anger over what they viewed as a direct breach of the call by Palestinian civil society for the international community to boycott, divest and sanction Israeli goods and institutions until the country meets it’s obligations under international law vis-a-vis the Palestinians.
And when the new year started, further controversy erupted over a confrontation between the second cohort of MLI participants and a Palestinian activist on the campus of al-Aqsa Mosque, which Muslims believe is the third holiest site in Islam. The level of discourse between the two camps has sometimes veered into the vitriolic, including alleged threats of violence against MLI participants and their families.
Earlier this week, the conversation went international, as MLI participants and those opposed to the program appeared on Al Jazeera’s The Stream to debate the pros and cons of this initiative. I have collected a round-up of links of articles and op-eds from both camps shared below. Please post any further pieces in the comments section.
Support for Muslim Leadership Initiative
The Context (regarding the Jerusalem assault posted below)
Critiques of Muslim Leadership Initiative