Urmee Khan has sent me a copy of a manifesto from a new group, Alif Aleph UK, which is to launch its report, “Positive Contacts Between British Muslims and British Jews“, on Tuesday 5 July. An article on other similar initiatives, and on the difficulties that they have encountered, can be read here.
Aleph Alef’s manifesto is both an encouraging and hopeful, and is worth reading in full.
We are British Muslims and British Jews who aim together to build creative partnerships in the UK.
We live here. We belong here.
We are not going away.
We have every reason to work creatively together to the benefit of our own communities, and to spread the example of joint working to the other communities who inhabit these islands.
We wish to build on the positive contributions both of our communities have already made to British society, culture and business.
We find ourselves living side by side in a country where we are both minorities, and both significant contributors to society. This provides new opportunities for us to draw on our positive histories together to contribute to social cohesion in Britain.
We have a common experience of having to address hostilities that derive from mistaken stereotypes of our religions and our cultures, leading to Islamophobia and anti-Semitism. The reality that confounds these mistaken stereotypes is that our religions have more in common with each other than with other religions. We have very similar cultural traditions rooted in the religious commonality.
We both come from traditions of the Book, traditions that are literate, inquiring and remarkably tolerant of differing and minority views when debating and analysing our Texts.
We regret the divisive effects of the Israel/Palestine conflict spilling over from abroad. Alif-Aleph UK aims to build on mutual understandings of the natural sympathies we each have in that conflict, and then move beyond that discussion working jointly for mutual benefit in this country.
We recognise that those who wish to find reasons for our two communities not to meet are driven to import from abroad their reasons for division and hostility. Even those external negative reasons are undermined by the amazing number of projects in the Middle East where Jews and Palestinians are maintaining and developing joint activities in the face of political drives toward division and separation.
We sign this Manifesto to demonstrate our commitment to the ideas in it and encourage others to join us.
We welcome people who are neither Muslims nor Jews to sign the Manifesto to be Associates, as a token of their support for what we are doing, and for the help that they can give us.
We anticipate that this manifesto can be adapted as a responsible basis of a later Manifesto not just for British Muslims and British Jews, but also inclusive of all communities and individuals who live in the UK.
I doubt whether there are that many starry eyed ingenues who imagine that the task that Aleph Alef have set themselves is a simple one. It is, however, essential that projects such as this are encouraged, and that this important dialogue takes place.
I’d encourage everybody who endorses this manifesto to sign up to it. Unfortunately, there isn’t a way to do this online at present: print the manifesto out and return it to Alif Aleph UK the old fashioned way.
UPDATE: If you really cannot send your details to Alif-Aleph by snail mail, you might send in your details to firstname.lastname@example.org. I don’t know if this email is functional as a collection point.