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Arabs Ending Divisions

Ruth Hartman1 and I led Shabbat2 at the West Coast North America Reference Persons’ Workshop in January 2015. Below is the talk I gave as an ally.

I’d like to talk about some of the work on ending divisions that has been taking place at workshops where West Asian RCers have gathered. (West Asian people are also known as Middle Easterners.)

During the past few years, the West Asian constituencies in RC in North America have been slowly but steadily growing in diversity. Through discharge, we have also been growing as allies to Jews.

The International Liberation Reference Person for South, Central, and West Asian-Heritage People, Azi Khalili, is an Iranian Muslim woman with Jewish heritage. She has done an excellent job of clearly stating how anti-Jewish oppression is used to divide West Asian peoples and keep us all oppressed.

Much of the Arab RC work done in the United States since the 1970s has been with Christian Arabs. Recently there have been more opportunities for Christians and Muslims to work together and build alliances. At Tim Jackins’ Asian Leaders’ Workshop last August, several Muslims played a visible role and led topic tables for Muslims and Allies. As a Christian Arab ally, I was invited to be present when the Muslims said daily prayers. That was very moving. I led a topic group for allies to Muslims, and a Muslim woman led Shabbat. Azi has counseled us Christian Arabs on anti-Muslim distresses. And at the first Muslim RC workshop last year, she led the work on discharging anti-Jewish oppression and also led Shabbat.

For centuries, Muslims, Arabs, Jews, Christians, and others have lived together in many places in West Asia and North Africa on relatively good terms, during long periods of time. Sometimes one group has been in the oppressor role, and in other periods another group has taken it on.3 Those of us in RC are fortunate to get to use discharge and re-evaluation to recover our human relationships with each other. The recent news story about a Muslim man saving the lives of Jews at a kosher restaurant in Paris can be a good one to spend time on in sessions.

So my thought at this Shabbat is that the work on unity we West Asians are doing in RC is gradually and visibly broadening. As allies-to-Jews work begins to include a larger variety of Middle Eastern allies, we will need to continue thinking, discharging, and learning about the history and diversity of West Asia and the diaspora. It is powerful and moving work.

Amin Khoury (Victor Nicassio)
Pasadena, California, USA

Ruth Hartman is an RC leader in Castro Valley, California, USA, and the Information Coordinator for Jewish Parents.
Shabbat is the Jewish Sabbath. It has become a tradition at RC workshops to celebrate Shabbat on Friday evening, as a way of contradicting anti-Jewish oppression.
“Taken it on” means assumed it.

Last modified: 2021-06-01 12:29:59+00