Conference of Presidents Hosts Secretary General of World Muslim League at Event Commemorating Muslims Who Saved and Protected Jews During the Holocaust

New York, NY. . . The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations hosted an historic event at the Museum of Jewish Heritage recognizing and commemorating the acts of Muslims who welcomed, hosted and protected Jews during the Holocaust.  His Excellency, Dr. Mohammad Ibn Abdulkarim Alissa, Secretary General of the World Muslim League headquartered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia was a featured guest. 

Diplomats from several Muslim majority countries were acknowledged for the actions of their countrymen in safeguarding Jews during the Shoah.  Also participating were the Chief Rabbi of the Bukharan community in Queens, N.Y., Rabbi Itzhak Yehoshua  and Ms. Laziza Dalil, vice president and a co-founder of the Morocco based Muslim student movement, Association Mimouna, who flew to New York from Morocco especially to join the program.  Prominent leaders from the Jewish and Muslim American communities attended the event, which was held in cooperation with the American Sephardi Federation.

In January of this year, at the suggestion of Dr. Robert Satloff, Executive Director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Dr. Alissa publicly acknowledged the tragedy of the Holocaust in a letter to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.  He wrote that the Holocaust was “an incident that shook humanity to the core, and created an event whose horrors could not be denied or underrated by any fair-minded or peace-loving person.”  He went on to state that “True Islam” opposed the Nazi genocide and he forcefully condemned Holocaust denial in any form. Dr. Alissa and Dr. Satloff engaged in a wide-ranging exchange about the significance of Dr. Alissa’s public statements on the Holocaust and the importance of the message it conveyed to the entire Muslim world.  Dr. Alissa stressed that his actions are a necessary precursor to achieving justice based on truth.

Ms. Dalil noted the long association between the Conference of Presidents and Association Mimouna and shared her personal story of being accosted, while a student in Paris, by an anti-Semitic woman who thought she was a Jew.  Ms. Dalil and her colleagues on campuses in Morocco are devoted to preserving Moroccan Jewish heritage, educating their peers about the Holocaust and building bridges of understanding.  She announced the publication of the first Holocaust education curriculum for students in Morocco.

A highlight of the evening was the presentation to countries that hosted, protected and absorbed Jewish refugees during the Holocaust.  Speaking on behalf of all the honored countries were H.E. Erzhan Kazykhanov, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the U.S., H.E. Elin Suleymanov, Ambassador of Azerbaijan to the U.S., and Mr. Mohammed Benabdeljalil, Consul General of Morocco in New York on behalf of  H.H. Princess Lalla Joumala, Ambassador of Morocco to the U.S.  They all spoke of the long history of Jewish communities in their countries and the example they represent for Muslim-Jewish relations.

Stephen M. Greenberg, Chairman and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of the Conference of Presidents, said, “Last night, the Conference of Presidents was privileged to be the first Jewish organization to host the Secretary General of the World Muslim League, H.E. Dr. Mohammad Ibn Abdulkarim Alissa, in a public forum discussing his historic letter to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and explaining the principles of Islam that value telling the truth about the Holocaust and teaching and learning the lessons of the Nazi attempt to wipe out the Jewish people.

In the presence of many leaders of the American Jewish and Muslim communities, Dr. Alissa joined us we commemorated and paid tribute to the immensely important, but too little known, acts of human decency and kindness of people in many majority Muslim countries during the Holocaust that enabled Jews to survive the horrors of the Nazi drive to exterminate them. 

Dr. Alissa continues to demonstrate his commitment to engaging with the Jewish community in meaningful dialog to help bring Muslims and Jews closer together in an atmosphere of mutual dignity and respect.  The Conference of Presidents looks forward to an ongoing relationship with him in this crucial endeavor.

The Conference of Presidents enjoys close relations with countries where Jews do not experience anti-Semitism and governments are committed to fighting it.  We are privileged to show our appreciation and respect to all whose courage and moral fortitude to do what was right to save lives, to shelter and provide safe harbor for Jews in their countries and those fleeing persecution and annihilation.  This message is so necessary today when we see anti-Semitism on the rise, racism manifest and intergroup tensions created and exploited by radical and extremist elements.

We hope this historic evening will only be the beginning to forging better ties with those who share our values, aspirations and stand for justice.”

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The Conference of Presidents is the central coordinating body representing 50 national Jewish organizations on issues of national and international concern

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