Dr. Charles Jacobs stands for everything that those who believe radical Islam can be reformed claim to desire. Jacobs calls for peace – real peace – between Muslims and Jews. He backs up his words with actions, by reaching out to moderate Muslims and doing all he can to create the safe haven they need to take, in their view, their religion back from the fundamentalists. Yet, Jacobs is no starry-eyed dreamer. He doesn’t hesitate to call out the Islamic radicals living among us, or to take their naïve, unwitting supporters to task. Jacobs has a penchant for pointing out that anything that walks and talks like a duck ready to strap a load of C-4 to its back probably is, and that’s what got him into trouble with a group of Boston rabbis earlier this month.
Jacobs is a man of remarkable accomplishment. He is founder of The David Project, co-founder of the American Anti-Slavery Group and of Americans For Peace and Tolerance. In recognition of his efforts to end the enslavement of black Africans in Sudan, Jacobs was presented with the Boston Freedom Award by Coretta Scott King and the Mayor of Boston. Jacobs serves on the board of directors of Americans For Peace and Tolerance with Sheikh Dr. Ahmed Mansour. According to their website: “Dr. Mansour is an Al Azhar-educated reformist Islamic scholar who fled his native Egypt after persecution by radical Islamists and imprisonment by Egyptian authorities. He is the spiritual leader of a reformist movement of Islam called the Quranists.”
So what did this peace-loving man of action do to annoy seventy Beantown rabbis to the point that they felt moved to publish an angry letter condemning Jacobs in The Jewish Advocate on June 11? What could a fellow who works so hard to find and nurture that most elusive of creatures – the moderate Muslim – have done to offend the leaders of so many congregations? What made seventy rabbis sign on to a letter that had this to say about Jabobs:
“We were shocked and appalled by the vicious, personal attack written by Charles Jacobs and printed in The Jewish Advocate. We denounce this attack and call upon Mr. Jacobs to discontinue his destructive campaign against Boston’s Muslim community, which is based on innuendo, half-truths and unproven conspiracy theories. We call upon members of our community to reject the dangerous politics of division that Mr. Jacobs fosters.”
Jacobs “vicious, personal attack” consisted of an article he penned for The Jewish Advocate in which he was critical of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and, more importantly for the shocked and appalled rabbis of Boston, of Rabbi Eric Gurvis, Senior Rabbi of Temple Shalom in Newton, Massachusetts. Both Patrick and Gurvis visited Roxbury’s “mega-mosque” on May 22, exchanging hugs and mutual admiration with the mosque’s leaders and, in Patrick’s case, accepting a $50,000 check from the mosque so that law-enforcement officials in the Bay State could learn to be more culturally sensitive when dealing with Muslims.
Gurvis’ presence and conciliatory words were used as evidence by the mainstream media to prove that Boston’s Jewish community thinks the mosque is a great addition to the area. Jacobs has repeatedly pointed out that Gurvis is in fact a utopian leftist who doesn’t come close to speaking for Boston Jews, most of whom oppose the mosque, not because of religious intolerance, but because of the kind of people who financed, built and are currently running The Islamic Society of Boston Mosque. The mosque was paid for by Saudi money and Saudi money inevitably means Wahhabi money and all of the implications that follow when radicals make a $16 million investment. The mosque is run by the Muslim Society of America, which federal prosecutors have called “the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America.” In the short time that it’s been in operating, the mosque has already been tied to or has offered support to several accused and convicted terrorists. Opponents of the project worried that the mega-mosque would become the east-coast center for jihadi activity and the early returns suggest that those fears were not unfounded.
Jacobs took Gurvis on in The Jewish Advocate, presumably both to make the point that Gurvis doesn’t speak for the Jewish community in Massachusetts and to point out once again just what the mega-mosque in Roxbury is really all about. While there’s no accounting for taste, I found Jacobs’ arguments cogent, factual and respectful. He’s critical of a particular viewpoint, not the viewer. Most of his piece is dedicated to recounting the troubled history of the controversial mosque and to criticizing Governor Patrick’s unwavering support for the mosque. Jacobs’ “viscous, personal” attack on Rabbi Gurvis is encompassed in this paragraph:
“Finally, why does Rabbi Gurvis refuse to acknowledge what he has been shown in official documents: that the MAS is a Muslim Brotherhood organization; that the mosque was funded by Wahabbi Saudis, not known to fund moderate mosques; and that the MAS/ISB leaders have invited defamers of Jews and Christians to “educate” the historically moderate Boston Muslim community? Rabbi Gurvis knows all this. Maybe for him it’s “my Muslim friends, right or wrong.” Or maybe the rabbi’s need to demonstrate his moral superiority by caring for the “other” – no matter how radical or extreme – trumps any foreseeable consequences.”
Rather than calling on Gurvis to answer Jacobs’ very reasonable, if troubling, questions, the Rabbi’s defenders chose to defame the messenger instead. Their rose-colored glasses have so blinded them that they refuse to acknowledge that a wolf in sheep’s clothing might just be on the prowl in their midst, even though this particular wolf isn’t particularly careful about hiding its fangs.