May 3, 2021 — New York
The first in a series of short videos to foster awareness of Jewish and Muslim contributions to American society was released today by the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council (MJAC). The videos and other stories of Muslim-Jewish cooperation will be promoted on MJAC’s new Facebook (@MJACAdvocacy) and Twitter (@Muslim_Jewish) pages, also unveiled today.
“Muslims and Jews are essential threads in the social fabric of our country, yet many Americans do not know us as neighbors, colleagues and friends,” said Farooq Kathwari, Co-Chair of MJAC. “Five years ago, we joined together as Muslims and Jews in a pioneering effort to combat hate and strengthen our democracy. Our digital campaign is another vital tool.”
Established in 2016 by American Jewish Committee (AJC) and Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), MJAC members advocate jointly on domestic policy issues, notably combating hate, and building understanding of Jews and Muslims in the United States. In addition to the national coalition, headquartered in New York, 11 regional MJACs have been established in Dallas, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Louisville, Miami, New Jersey, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. MJAC’s membership comprises Muslim and Jewish leaders in various professional fields, including business, policy, faith, entertainment, and education.
From its inception MJAC members have successfully mobilized bipartisan support in Congress for major legislation to combat hate. MJAC was a leading advocate for the bipartisan Protecting Religiously Affiliated Institutions Act, signed into law in October 2018. MJAC’s advocacy for congressional examinations of the threat of white supremacist violence and domestic terrorism led to six hearings in 2019.
Current efforts by MJAC in support of the bipartisan Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, which will address the serious underreporting of hate crimes, yielded success last month, when the Senate adopted it by a vote of 94-1. The measure is expected to pass the House and be signed into law by President Biden.
“Our advocacy success underscores the power of interfaith partnership, with Muslims and Jews working side by side to promote equal rights and equal protection for all Americans,” said MJAC Co-Chair Stanley Bergman. “We believe that amplifying stories of Muslim-Jewish cooperation will act as a strong counternarrative to those who seek to drive a wedge between us.”
The first three videos, 90 to 120 seconds in length, present the ethos of MJAC. One highlights the coalition’s work to promote America’s pluralistic democracy, another focuses on the need for partnership in the face of rising hate, and a third tells the story of why Muslims and Jews joined MJAC. All seek to portray the rich diversity of U.S. Muslims and Jews working together for the good of their communities and American society at large. The series is being produced by Smartypants Pictures, creators of the widely acclaimed Secret Life of Muslims, and with support from several prominent Muslim and Jewish foundations and philanthropists.
Forthcoming videos in the series will cover Muslims and Jews as contributors in the fields of health care, the armed services, business, and sports. Featuring Jews and Muslims in cooperation and as individuals, the series seeks to underscore America’s promise as a nation where people of diverse faiths can flourish and contribute to all areas of society.