I was less offended by the imam of the Davis, California Islamic Center calling for the annihilation of the Jews than by his subsequent and meaningless apology encompassed in a photo op with members of the Jewish community heaping praise on the imam’s contrition.
In calling for the annihilation of the Jews, the imam was being true to his interpretation of his faith. He was accurately quoting the Koran, doing what fundamentalist imams all over the world, from Iran to Gaza to even Switzerland and Riverside, California, routinely do. There was nothing distinctive about his sermon.
Why should a fundamentalist Muslim be pressured not to be a fundamentalist Muslim? Do fundamentalist Muslims intervene in rabbinic sermons in synagogues?
Fortunately for the imam, Islam enables him to indulge in Taqiyya, where Muslims can speak falsely if it advances the faith.
Islam took the world by the sword, just as medieval Christianity did, and as Judaism did when Joshua emerged from the desert and stormed the strongholds of Canaan. But Judaism and Christianity have evolved, and so too, when given the opportunity, as in America, has Islam. Muslim reformers just don’t make for exciting news. Fundamentalists who lacerate our sensibilities do.
The imam at Davis says he got caught up in the moment, but the anti-Jewish screed lasted an hour. Perhaps the entourage at Wannsee that planned Hitler’s final solution merely got caught up in the moment. Too bad they didn’t use that as a defense at Nuremberg.
If any rabbi presented such a sermon about Islam, he would be shouted down, and if he persisted, the congregation would walk out on him. But at the Islamic Center in Davis, no one shouted an objection and no one walked out. In fact, when the sermon became controversial, the congregation doubled down in support of the imam.