Post Woolwich, we must stand together
The horror of May 22 is seared into my brain. How can I forget watching a murderer spouting on about “an eye for an eye” while his hands dripped with the blood of a young serviceman hacked to death on the peaceful streets of Woolwich?
Sadly, far-right elements have used the murder to justify attacks on Muslim individuals and institutions.
The Board of Deputies and other Jewish organisations have been outspoken in condemning this, and in standing beside their Muslim fellow citizens.
These statements of support have been shared widely among Muslims via social media. They are evidence of solidarity from a Jewish community that has a long memory of seeing its religious institutions attacked.
At a national level, there is little contact between the Board and the Muslim Council of Britain. Before I left the MCB in 2010, I tried to promote dialogue but with limited success.
However, I believe changes are happening below the level of these umbrella organisations. The activities of smaller organisations operating nationally (such as the Three Faiths Forum and the Joseph Interfaith Foundation) and locally, along with the activities of individuals, show Muslims and Jews coming together more and more often.
This is because they recognise that an increasingly secular society presents major challenges which are better tackled together.
The Israel-Palestine question need not be a barrier to co-operation. We must learn to compartmentalise — people can disagree about Middle East policy while still coming together to pursue mutual interests in the UK.
Mohammed Amin is co-chair of the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester. He is writing in a personal capacity.