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CAIR-Philadelphia in today’s Inquirer

The following Letter-to-the-Editor by Jacob Bender, CAIR-Philadelphia’s Executive Director, was published in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer:

To the Editor,

As the Executive Director of the Philadelphia chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, I believe your readers should be aware that many Muslim organizations, including ours, have condemned the recent brutal murders in the Jerusalem synagogue. CAIR’s national statement reads in-part, “We condemn this and any other attack on a house of worship and urge all parties in that holy city to refrain from actions that further inflame religious tensions.”

It is precisely at tragic moments like this, however, that we must reject the temptation of hopelessness, and attempt to turn our fear into faith, and our despair into reconciliation. Too much Arab and Jewish blood has already been spilled in this conflict, but it must be remembered that the conflict over Israel/Palestine is not an eternal war going back to biblical times, but is rather a modern conflict only some one hundred years old, a complex mix of competing nationalisms, colonial meddling, and religious fervor. But it is a conflict that is eminently solvable, if both sides can finally recognize their common humanity, and reject the occupation and the repression, the revenge and retaliation that will neither lead to Palestinian liberation or Israeli security, but only to more death.

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Director’s Desk, November 21, 2014

By Jacob Bender

I had the pleasure of representing CAIR at several venues these past weeks. First, on Nov. 3, I gave a talk at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster. About 100 people (faculty, students, and community guests) turned out to hear my talk about my experiences working for one of the leading institutions in the American Muslim community.

Then, on Nov. 6, I made a presentation about my work for CAIR at a regular meeting of an interfaith group of some of Philadelphia’s preeminent religious leaders, organized by Rev. Dr. Malcolm T. Byrd, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Faith Based Initiatives.

Finally, on Nov. 14, I screened my film “Out of Cordoba” at the New Africa Center in West Philadelphia. The Center functions as a cultural and educational institution and was developed to inform and preserve the rich cultural heritage of the African America Muslim community. The center attempts to pass on this heritage to future generations and to foster intergroup awareness, respect, tolerance and multicultural understanding by way of public forums, workshops, classroom presentations, youth and senior citizen programs, festivals, art exhibitions, literature, and multimedia outlets. The Center is located at 4243 Lancaster Ave. Philadelphia, Pa 19104, telephone 215-222-0520.

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Legal Updates

This month, Ryan Tack-Hooper, our staff attorney, is initiating a suit against a landlord who discriminated against a Muslim family. The landlord illegally refused to renew a lease to the Muslim family in an attempt to resolve a conflict created by the biased attitudes of an anti-Muslim tenant. The ethical and legal response, of course, would have been to address the hateful tenant, not kick out the Muslim family.

Every American has the right to rent and buy property without regard to his or her religion. Contact our legal department if you have been denied housing or treated differently by a landlord because you are a Muslim.

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Promotional Opportunity in Our End-of-Year Newsletter

CAIR-Philadelphia is offering businesses, organizations, and individuals an opportunity to reach the Muslim American community in the Greater Delaware Valley during the month of December. CAIR will be mailing and distributing over 4,000 newsletters to our community describing CAIR’s numerous accomplishments in 2014. This newsletter will also be sent out electronically to our mailing list and others, offering an even wider outreach for your message.

Ad space (3.5 in. x 2 in.) will cost $200 (in color), which is less than 5 cents a contact and considerably less than a postage stamp. You can also just send us the text you want in your ad. Act quickly to reserve your spot!

Confirm your reservation now!

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Director’s Desk, October 27, 2014

I will be speaking about CAIR and Muslim-Christian-Jewish relations at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, PA on Monday evening, Nov. 3. For more information, click here to see a flyer for the event.

I will also be screening my documentary film, “Out of Cordoba,” at New African Center on Friday night, Nov. 14. For more information, click here to see a flyer for the event.

Finally, another in my series of reading recommendations, this is an important article by Rachid Ghannouchi, the founder and chairman of Tunisia’s Ennahda party, called “Tunisia shows there is no contraction between democracy and Islam.” Click here to read the article in The Washington Post.

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