Norwegian Muslims plan 'ring of peace' to protect Oslo synagogue

After a rash of deadly attacks, and clear evidence of a steady rise in dangerous anti-Semitism all over Europe, it is nice to see a demonstration from anyone across the pond whose purpose is to embrace the Jewish people. In the wake of a deadly shooting at a free-speech event and a Copenhagen synagogue last week, some Muslims in Norway have volunteered to form a ring around their local synagogue Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, to protect its occupants from harm.

One of the event organizers, 17-year-old Hajrad Arshad, explained that the intention was to make a clear statement that Muslims don’t support anti-Semitism.

“We think that after the terrorist attacks in Copenhagen, it is the perfect time for us Muslims to distance ourselves from the harassment of Jews that is happening,” Arshad told the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation NRK in an interview cited by The Local News website on Tuesday.

She noted that the group aimed to “extinguish the prejudices people have against Jews and against Muslims.”

Members of the synagogue worried that they would draw small numbers, but the Facebook event page for the demonstration has more than 1,000 people committed to showing up. The Washington Post translates the invitation:

Islam is about protecting our brothers and sisters, regardless of which religion they belong to. Islam is about rising above hate and never sinking to the same level as the haters. Islam is about defending each other. Muslims want to show that we deeply deplore all types of hatred of Jews, and that we are there to support them. We will therefore create a human ring around the synagogue on Saturday 21 February. Encourage everyone to come!

When critics talk about what’s necessary to beat back the radicals of Islam, they often talk about what Muslims should do. Or, what they don’t do enough of. A group of Muslims explicitly protecting a synagogue and rejecting hatred of Jews meets a pretty high standard when it comes to what I expect out of Europe. Given recent events, this isn’t exactly simply symbolism. There is a measure of real danger, here, as Muslim demonstrators put themselves literally, physically on the same side as the threatened Jewish community. I applaud this effort and I pray for everyone’s protection, as people of many faiths plan to stand together against barbarians. More please.

Meanwhile in Virginia, Democratic delegates left the chamber rather than vote for a standard pro-Israel resolution urging a “cordial and mutually beneficial relationship” and affirming the country’s right to defend itself against threats. Sigh, a study in contrasts.

It passed overwhelmingly, 70-2, but two tries at getting the fleeing delegates on the record as friends of the state of Israel were fruitless. As the speaker notes in the video, it was a “profile in courage.”

I’ll leave you with Bibi Netanyahu’s moral clarity on the Copenhagen killings:

“Again, Jews were murdered on European soil just because they were Jews,” Netanyahu said at the start of his Cabinet meeting Sunday. “This wave of attacks is expected to continue, as well as murderous anti-Semitic attacks. Jews deserve security in every country, but we say to our Jewish brothers and sisters, Israel is your home.”