From Bergen County to Istanbul

Here is an interesting interfaith moment of a frum couple from Bergen county finding themselves on Turkish TV. I knew of this as soon as it occurred but was waiting for the You Tube. The couple are interested in Jewish Muslim reconciliation and were in correspondence with Adnan Oktar (Harun Yahya) and visited him and found themselves recorded for posterity. Adnan Oktar (Harun Yahya) is the leading Turkish creationist rejecting secular Turkey and the more rational Islamic approaches. Adnan Oktar (Harun Yahya) has a rich debate around him on the web. Look at his wiki page and the Anti-Wiki pages. and hate sites against him. Was he anti-Semitic and then saw the light after a prison term and is now pushing for Jewish-Muslim reconciliation? Was he imprisoned and placed in a psycho ward as a set-up victim of the state or did he deserve it? Here is a critical article.

Gil Amminadav writes to me after reading the links on this post.

“We had read some of the allegations against Harun Yahya before (as well as his group’s responses), but nothing as emphatic as that Humanist article! It was a very well-written piece. If we had read all of this before agreeing to meet with him, I can’t say that it would have changed anything; we believe that part of the purpose of cultivating a sensitivity towards negative and defamatory speech is to remind us that, when all is said and done, there is quite a lot said, and not nearly as much actually known. Even with truth to a single allegation, we are not interested in judging, we are interested in working. Another’s personal failures serve to remind us of our own – narcissism is hardly a unique trait. All in all, the man struck us as sincerely interested in promoting friendship and fellowship, from within his own cultural context, and for that we give him much credit and hope that he inspires others to do the same, God willing. If he has an imbalanced sexuality or mistreats others in any way, then we hope that God brings him “a healing of soul and a healing of body,” and that anyone who feels harmed by him is brought the same.”

“Elana and Gil Amminadav run Derusha Publishing, an indie publishing house based in New Jersey. Among their publications is Hakham Jose Fauer’s recent book. “So here are these young Jewish seekers who didn’t realize they were going to broadcast our conversation until we actually sat down. I am not sure what to make of it. This stuff is going on all the time. Here is the TV interview in two parts.

From the transcript:

Look. See how Islam resembles Judaism? The fact they resemble one another stems from their being the same in the faith of the Prophet Abraham (pbuh) and very ancient Sunna, insha’Allah.

GIL AMMINADAV: Yes, even more. It is a river and everyone drinks from the river. And some people drink from here and some people drink from there. But it is the same river. Beyond Abraham (pbuh), Ishmael (pbuh), Isaac (pbuh) and Jacob (pbuh) and all these beyond today, you have people drinking from the same river and know. Unfortunately, it seems we have seen a lot of people, unfortunately a lot of Israeli, has forgotten. We are supposed to be the people of memory but we have forgotten. But we are now remembering

GIL AMMINADAV: We have a sheikh, a tzadik (righteous teacher). His name was Rabbi Nachman ben Feiga, very nice person. He talks about the flip (sudden change) from this world order to the next world order. Inthe blink of an eye. No guns, no tanks, no missiles, just prayer

ELANA AMMINADAV: We also find that a lot of times we are looking forsomething called mussar, like instruction on how we can change ourselves. So when we find a Holy Book that teaches us or that points out things that might be problems in our people. Like things in the Qur’an talk about how the Jews might have worshipped their Rabbis. So then we can look at ourselves and say, why someone would say that to us, and that can teach us how to change and how to make ourselves better.

Gil’s statement afterward:

“We believe it is worthwhile for human beings to see the benefit in making religion a positive, unifying, and enriching force in their lives and in their relationships.  Meetings between those people who speak the language of friendship are key components of the widespread change unfolding around us.  We were honored to reflect upon the sanctity of Judaism, Islam, and other expressions of humanity’s relationship with God, for those who find sanctity in them, with Mr. Harun Yahya, a delightful, spiritually-sensitive educator and communal leader in Istanbul.  We hope that as human beings recognize more of each other in themselves, we will enter the next chapter of human history with a liberating new vision of the future.”

For a sense of how common this is becoming. Harun Yahya has had many Israeli guests on his show
including members of the current attempted Sanhedrin. A national Haredi yearning for the Ottoman Empire?

From the transcript:
The video is here:

RABBI ABRAHAMSON: Hello, my name is Benyamin Abrahamson. I am an orthodox Chassidic Jew from Israel. And I work as a historian or a kind of consultant to the court in Jerusalem that Rabbi Hollander is talking about. Mostly people here know me from my
endless discussions about the similarities between the Islam and Jewish customs. I enjoy talking about the Hadiths, Tabari, Ibn Hisham and al-Waqidi, and talking about the kings of Himyar as I much as I enjoy talking about the Midrash Rabbah, the Midrashei Geulah,
Rambam, Tosefos or the Shulchan Aruch. I like very much to talk about the common shared customs between Islam and Judaism, about the similarities in architecture between the masjid and the synagogue, between the similarities of the calendar, holidays and customs. But it is
clear to me that there is more than just similarities, that they obviously go back to a common root and a common faith.

So what do we make of this reapproachment? It is not the commonality of Jews living in Arab lands or of neighbors. It is not exactly dialogue, theology, or formulated views. And it is happening on the margins. Help me make sense of the implications. I do not want to discuss the people involved, just the encounter.

2 responses to “From Bergen County to Istanbul

  1. I do not think the creationism, anti-secularism and general fundamentalism of Harun Yahya should get a pass just because he is Muslim. Nor does he get a pass because he is willing to meet with similarly inclined Jewish folks. The truth is that we need not cheer on fundamentalist alliances in any form. I understand the nuance of the situation; that dissent in Turkey is often couched in religious terms. I also understand that this political dissent might attract us to figures like Harun Yahya as exemplifying the power of religion to stand up to corrupt and militaristic regimes. Fine. But in thinking of religion as critique, we need to think about the endgame. Such an endgame, viz. a Harun Yahya state, would be fascistic, bellicose, and profoundly totalitarian. I think the analogous case of Khomeini; someone who I see as having a genuine Islamic critique, and even a nice theory of government, speaks to what we can expect from Fundamentalist rule. I would urge people to dissociate themselves from Yahya and his Judeo acolytes.

  2. I can’t get over the Star Wars Landspeeder presented amongst “technologies of the ancients” discerned from glyphs, as presented in his 2 volume “Atlas of Creation”.

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