The fallout from the mosque malarkey is that we’ve all fallen out. As the letters opposite show, we’re nothing if not divided on the issue of the new Islamic centre in Golders Green. Some have slapped us on the back; others have slapped us on the face. The protesters are still there, protesting, reinvigorated by the opposition to their protest, incredulous that this newspaper did not support their position. Sorry, that’s just not what we do. And by ‘we,’ we mean Jews.
Protest or not, the building is bought and the mosque is going ahead, so now that we’re slowly getting this collective hissy fit out of our system, the question we need to ask is how best to welcome the new neighbours. Some, it is clear, have no welcome plans whatsoever, but others will laudably extend their hand, and in doing so, their networks.
This, we remind ourselves, is nothing new. Indeed, Muslim and Jewish charities already work closely in areas relating to security, communal safety and the monitoring of hate crimes, which makes sense since adherents of both faiths fall victim to it. We work together, sharing best practice and knowledge, and who knows, this may one day just save something terrible from happening.
In fact, if you think about it, we could be working together on so much more, because there is a multitude of issues of common concern. Consider all the challenges to freedom of religion, the opposition of many to religious slaughter or male infant circumcision, the court cases aimed at banning the wearing of religious clothing or the public display of religious adornments, or the many and varied workplace issues people of faith face, particularly around discrimination, scheduling and time-off for religious holidays.
The establishment of an Islamic community in Golders Green is an opportunity to discuss cooperation in all these areas, to the benefit of both.