Local Jewish, Muslim Groups Team Up For Series of Talks On Xenophobia in 2017

Jake Neher/WDET

Saeed Khan (left) and Howard Lupovitch (right)

The word “xenophobia” has had a resurgence in the American lexicon. Dictionary.com named “xenophobia” its word of the year after a huge spike in look-ups in 2016.

What does that term mean to specific minority groups in 2017 — especially in this political environment?

The Jewish Community Relations Council/AJC and the Michigan Muslim Community Council are holding a series of talks in the coming weeks about antisemitism and Islamophobia. “A Shared Future” is an interfaith dialogue series means to provide “a deeper comprehension of both forms of prejudice and discuss how a firm grasp of each enhances an understanding of both.” 

The hosts of the talks join Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson to discuss the events, as well as the important of holding these dialogues in a public space.

This kind of work is not easy. We certainly get our fair share of slings and arrows,” says Saeed Khan, an expert in Middle and Near East history and politics, who lectures at Wayne State University. He says the criticism comes from both outside and inside the Muslim and Jewish communities. “Fortunately, or unfortunately, [because of the current political climate] we figured people right now want to hear about how we’re going to move forward together.”

I wouldn’t put it on the level of a think-tank yet, but it’s definitely moving in that direction,” says Howard Lupovitch, director of the Cohn-Haddow Center for Judaic Studies at Wayne State University. He says he and Khan don’t view the world and politics in black-and-white, right-and-wrong terms.

We both prefer gray-area nuanced thinking,” he says, ”to be constructively critical, and to learn from that criticism.”

There will be three opportunities to attend the “A Shared Future” program: February 15 at the Muslim Unity Center in Bloomfield Hills, March 1 at Adat Shalom Synagogue in Farmington Hills, and March 22 at Wayne State University in Detroit. All programs will take place at 7 p.m. There is no charge to attend.

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

Jake Neher/WDET


Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

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Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.


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