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Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton moderated a discussion between Rabbi Marc Schneier, President of The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, and Imam Shamsi Ali, former spiritual leader of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York. The three discussed the important topic of “Combating Islamophobia.”

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The sold out event held at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan was attended by many leaders of the American Muslim and Jewish communities from New York, Washington, D.C. and California. 

During the discussion, Schneier told the audience:

“I believe that as a Jew and a rabbi I have a responsibility to speak out against anti-Muslim bigotry and discrimination, just as I expect my Muslim brothers and sisters to speak out against anti-Semitism.”

Shamsi Ali added that both Muslims and Jews need to look beyond negative stereotypes of each other to strengthen people-to-people ties.

Noting that the term “jihad” is often misconstrued in the media to mean exclusively violence against non-Muslims, Imam Ali said:

“In fact we are now engaged in a jihad for peace and for cooperation between people of all backgrounds.”

As for the recent revelations that the NYPD has been spying on mosques and Muslim student groups, Imam Ali said:

“People in the Muslim community are deeply concerned about this, but instead of demanding (Kelly’s) resignation, we need to engage the NYPD to put procedures into place so that it consults with Muslim leaders on an ongoing basis.”

It was a healthy discussion that needs to happen more often between the Muslim and Jewish community.

(Photos by Nancy Adler)