By Leah Julian, Elianna Wasserman, Hailey Levien, Mathilda Silverstein, and Devon Conway
As a group of Jewish student activists we feel it is our duty to reach out to the wider Davis community regarding Imam Shahin’s recent sermon at the Islamic Center of Davis. We acknowledge that this is a moment of communal pain and discomfort for everyone involved and we are inspired by the constructive reaction displayed by the Davis Interfaith community.
Responses to Imam Shahin’s sermon have been varied but we will say that statements within the sermon have caused real and valid pain for many Jewish students here in this community. Whether or not Imam Shahin’s statements were intended to be anti-Semitic, they have led to pain, fear, and anger.
We stand with all Jewish students who have been impacted by Imam Shahin’s statements in this way and here to denounce anti-Semitism in all its forms. However, we also are here to recognize that the edited publication of Imam Shahin’s sermon was done with islamophobic intent.
We believe that the edited video of his sermon was published in part to exploit legitimate fears of anti-semitism within the Jewish Community and to exploit the unfortunate but common view in today’s world that Islam is an inherently violent religion in order to sow divisions within our community.
We are not going to let this video foment unnecessary fear and hatred of the other and take away from the relationships that the Davis community has worked so hard to build. We know that showing compassion and working toward a common understanding are the only ways to end this cycle of hatred.
We are here to reaffirm our commitment to strengthening our relationship with the Davis Muslim community and the UC Davis Muslim student community and working to fight islamophobia and anti-Semitism together.
Leah Julian, Elianna Wasserman, Hailey Levien, Mathilda Silverstein, and Devon Conway are Jewish student activists at UC Davis