Archive for Abe Foxman

Islamophobia, Zionism and the Norway Massacre

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 2, 2011 by loonwatch

A very well written piece from Ali Abunimah. The connection between Zionism and the rise in Islamophobia was explored by LW when we wrote an exclusive piece exposing the funding apparatus of Islamophobia, The Connection between Zionism and Organized Islamophobia–The Facts.

In the piece we elaborated on how Aubrey Chernick, a premiere funder of Islamophobes has also donated to, amongst other groups, the ADL which is quite literally taken apart in the article below.

Ali Abunimah writes,

The continued lurch towards extremism in Israel, and among many of its supporters, underscores the truth that anyone who wants to dissociate from ultranationalism, racism and Islamophobia, also has to repudiate Israel’s state ideology, Zionism.

It may not be true that Zionism needs to be absolutely repudiated for one to “dissociate from ultra-nationalism, racism and Islamophobia,” however criticism of Zionism should not be conflated with anti-Semitism or seen as a desire to destroy Israel.

Islamophobia, Zionism and the Norway massacre

by Ali Abunimah (AlJazeeraEnglish)

In a Washington Post op-ed last week, Abraham Foxman, the National Director of the Anti Defamation League, likened the hateful ideology that inspired Anders Behring Breivik to massacre 77 innocent people in Norway to the “deadly” anti-Semitism that infected Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries.

This is a parallel that I, and many others who have been observing with alarm the rise of anti-Muslim incitement in the US and Europe, have made frequently.

Does this mean that Foxman – head of one of the most hardline and influential pro-Israel lobby groups – has found common ground with the Palestine solidarity movement?

That would be a good thing if it helped to fight the growing scourge of racist incitement. But by criticising the ideology that inspired Breivik, and pointing the finger at a few of its purveyors, Foxman appears to be trying to obscure the key role that he and some other pro-Israel advocates have played in mainstreaming the poisonous Islamophobic rhetoric that has now – Foxman himself argues – led to bloodshed in Norway.

Pointing the finger

Foxman describes, in his Washington Post article, “a relatively new, specifically anti-Islamic ideology” which Breivik used to justify his attack. “Growing numbers of people in Europe and the United States subscribe to this belief system”, Foxman writes, “In some instances it borders on hysteria. Adherents of this ideological Islamophobia view Islam as an existential threat to the world, especially to the ‘West.’”

“Moreover”, Foxman explains, “they believe that leaders and governments in the Western world are consciously or unconsciously collaborating to allow Islam to ‘infiltrate’ and eventually conquer democratic societies.”

Just such irrational beliefs underpin the hysteria about “Creeping Sharia” – the utterly baseless claim that Muslims are engaged in a secret conspiracy to impose Islamic law on the United States. So prevalent has this delusional belief become, that legislative efforts have been mounted in about two dozen American states, and have been passed by three, to outlaw Sharia law.

Foxman points the finger – as others have rightly done – at extreme Islamophobic agitators such as Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller, co-founders of “Stop Islamisation of America” – whose hate-filled writings Breivik cited in his manifesto.

So far, Foxman has it right. But then he drops a clue about what really frightens him:

“One bizarre twist to Breivik’s warped worldview was his pro-Zionism – his strongly expressed support for the state of Israel. It is a reminder that we must always be wary of those whose love for the Jewish people is born out of hatred of Muslims or Arabs.”

Who does Foxman think he is kidding? There is nothing “bizarre” about this at all. Indeed Foxman himself has done much to bestow credibility on extremists who have helped popularise the Islamophobic views he now condemns. And he did it all to shore up support for Israel.

After Norway, Foxman may fear that the Islamophobic genie he helped unleash is out of control, and is a dangerous liability for him and for Israel.

Zionists embrace Islamophobia after 9/11

Many American Zionists embraced Islamophobic demagoguery after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Their logic was encapsulated in then-Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s notorious assessment that the attacks – which killed almost 3,000 people – would be beneficial for Israel.

Asked what the 9/11 atrocities would mean for US-Israeli relations, Netanyahu told The New York Times, “It’s very good”, before quickly adding, “Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy” and would “strengthen the bond between our two peoples, because we’ve experienced terror over so many decades, but the United States has now experienced a massive hemorrhaging of terror”.

In order for Israel and the United States to have the same enemy, the enemy could not just be the Palestinians, who never threatened the United States in any way. It had to be something bigger and even more menacing – and Islam fit the bill. The hyped-up narrative of an all-encompassing Islamic threat allowed Israel to be presented as the bastion of “western” and “Judeo-Christian” civilisation facing down encroaching Muslim barbarity. No audience was more receptive than politically influential, white, right-wing Christian evangelical pastors and their flocks.

Sermons of hate

“Since the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon, on September the 11th, American politicians have tripped over themselves to state that the vast majority of Muslims living in the United States are just ordinary people who love America and are loyal to America. Is that true? Is that really true?”

That is the question Pastor John Hagee, leader of an evangelical megachurch and founder of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), posed to his followers whom, he said, were becoming more concerned as “mosques appear across the nation”.

In a series of sermons soon after the 9/11 attacks which he titled “Allah and America,” Hagee began a relentless campaign of inciting his followers to fear and hate Muslims and Islam (videos of Hagee’s sermons can be found on YouTube.

Hagee has emerged over the past decade as one of the most prominent Christian Zionist supporters of Israel. His sermons are broadcast on dozens of TV channels and he influences millions of Americans.

As his “Allah and America” sermons progressed, Hagee’s answers became clear: “In the Qur’an, those who do not submit to Islam should be killed. That means death to Christians and death to Jews. Now I ask you, is that tolerant? Is that peaceful? Is that a sister faith to Christianity?”

After reading and distorting “selected verses from the Qur’an, which is the Islamic bible, in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, to increase our understanding of the basis of their faith,” Hagee claimed, “the Qur’an insists that no matter how mighty a nation is, it must be fought until it embraces Islam.”

And, apparently knowing that his congregation may hate and fear only taxes as much as Muslims, Hagee told them that the Qur’an’s message to Muslims is “when you get into the government, tax Christians and Jews into poverty until they submit willingly to Islam. Sounds like the IRS [Internal Revenue Service], but not faith.”

Then he offered this warning: “Politicians who are telling America that Islam and Christianity are sister faiths are lying to the people of this country. There is no relationship of any kind between Islam and Christianity. None whatever.”

At every step, Hagee exhorted the faithful that Islam and Muslims were not only a danger to the United States, but specifically to Israel – a country to which they should offer unconditional support.

This sounds a lot like the ideology of generalised fear and loathing of Muslims that Foxman condemned in the Washington Post.

Islamophobic fearmongering, demonisation and dehumanisation, from the likes of Hagee, and bellowed continuously on cable channels and radio stations across America, enabled the US government to legitimise invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and expand wars from Pakistan to Yemen to Somalia. These took the lives of hundreds of thousands of Muslims, under the guise of a “war on terror” – all the while as presidents hosted White House iftars.

What makes Breivik’s attack so shocking and new is that he turned the Islamophobic rhetoric against the white citizens of the Euro-American “homeland”, those whom the officially-sanctioned military slaughter of Muslims abroad was ostensibly meant to protect.

Foxman welcomes Hagee in from the fringes

While Hagee offered his zealous support to Israel (he founded CUFI in 2006), not all of Israel’s supporters returned the love. Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, warned in 2007 that the pro-Israel Jewish community’s embrace of far-right ideologues would drive away young, socially-liberal Jews from supporting Israel. He feared it could endanger the bipartisan support Israel always enjoyed in the United States by identifying it with what Yoffie saw as extremist elements.

Yoffie focused his criticism on Hagee, “who is contemptuous of Muslims, dismissive of gays, possesses a truimphalist theology and opposes a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.” He worried about the warm reception Hagee was receiving at conferences of Jewish Federations all over America.

One influential figure who didn’t share Yoffie’s fears about Hagee was Foxman, who told a reporter from the Religion News Service in March 2008, “I don’t have to agree with anybody 100 per cent in order to welcome their support, as long as their support is not conditioned on my agreeing with them on everything or accepting them 100 per cent.”

When it came to light during the 2008 US presidential campaign that Hagee had said in a 1999 sermon that Hitler had been sent by God to drive the Jews to Israel, Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain repudiated Hagee’s endorsement. But Foxman was quick to offer Hagee absolution, issuing a statement accepting the pastor’s “apology”.

Enabling Islamophobia

Foxman’s embrace of Hagee does not even mark the lowest point of his dalliance with Islamophobic extremists. Recall last summer – in the run up to the US midterm elections – the hate campaign targeting a proposal for an Islamic community centre planned for lower Manhattan in New York City.

Dubbed the “Ground Zero Mosque” by its critics, it became a cause celebre for the Republican Party – and some gutless Democrats – who claimed that building the institution close to the former site of the World Trade Centre would be an insult to the memory of victims.

The hate campaign was notable for unprecedented anti-Muslim rhetoric that exceeded anything heard in the immediate aftermath of the 2001 attacks. While New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg earned plaudits for defending the right of American Muslims to build the Islamic centre where they wanted, Foxman and his Anti-Defamation League caused consternation when they backed the bigots and came out against the project.

And who was it who helped take a little-noticed plan for a community centre and turn it into “a national political spectacle?” None other than Pam Geller and Robert Spencer – as the Washington Post reported at the time- the same Islamophobic extremists whom Foxman now blames for fueling the kind of hatred that inspired Breivik to kill.

Rescuing Zionism from Islamophobia

Foxman’s claim that Breivik’s support for Israel is “bizarre” is a brazen attempt to deflect attention from the alliance that Foxman and leading Israeli politicians have made with the most racist Islamophobes – ones Foxman accurately likens to anti-Semites.

To be clear, Israel and Zionism have always been racist toward Palestinians and other non-Jews, otherwise how else could they justify the expulsion and exclusion of millions of Palestinians solely on the grounds that they are not Jews? It is the virulent, specifically anti-Muslim trend that has been particularly pronounced since 2001.

But the rot has already gone too far. As a recent article in Der Spiegel underscores, Europe’s far-right anti-Muslim demagogues have found many allies and admirers in Israel, particularly within the upper echelons of the ruling Likud and Yisrael Beitenu parties.

And the feeling is mutual: European ultra-nationalists, such as Dutch Islamophobe Geert Wilders, have put support for Israel’s right-wing government at the centre of their politics.

Islamophobia welcome in Israel

While the world was united in horror at Breivik’s massacre, several commentators in Israel’s mainstream media were much more understanding of his motives, if not for his actions. An oped on Ynet, the website of Israel’s mass circulation Yediot Aharonot, stated that “the youth movement of the ruling Labour Party” – of which many of the youths murdered on Utoya island were members – “is an organisation of anti-Israeli hate mongers”.

An editorial in The Jerusalem Post offered sympathy for Breivik’s anti-Muslim ideology and called on Norway to act on the concerns expressed in his manifesto, while an op-ed published by the same papersaid that the youth camp Breivik attacked had been engaged in “a pro-terrorist program”.

Meanwhile, an article in the American Jewish newspaper The Forward noted that on many mainstream internet forums, Israelis expressed satisfaction with Breivik’s massacre and thought that Norway got what it deserved.

Clear warning signs

Foxman cannot claim he didn’t see any of this coming. Back in 2003, I interviewed him for an article about the inclusion of Yisrael Beitenu and other parties in Israel’s governing coalition, parties that openly advocated the expulsion of Palestinians. Foxman’s attitude was as indulgent toward those racists and would-be ethnic cleansers as he was to Hagee’s hate-mongering a few years later, and it is those same Israeli parties that have forged the closest ties with European and American anti-Muslim extremists.

The continued lurch towards extremism in Israel, and among many of its supporters, underscores the truth that anyone who wants to dissociate from ultranationalism, racism and Islamophobia, also has to repudiate Israel’s state ideology, Zionism. Universal rights and equality for all human beings are concepts that are anathema to both.

With his panicked and belated jump onto the anti-Islamophobia bandwagon, Foxman hopes we won’t notice, and that organisations like his can continue defending Israel’s racism free from the stain of the deadly anti-Muslim extremism they have done so much to promote.

Ali Abunimah is author of “One Country, A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse”, and is co-founder of The Electronic Intifada.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

ADL Denounces SIOA but Takes Money from their Supporters

Posted in Feature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2010 by loonwatch

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which has come under fire for its opposition to the NYC Cordoba House Mosque and Cultural Center put up a piece on August 26th on their website that denounced Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), an organization founded and lead by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, two of the leading anti-Muslim bigots in the nation (hat tip: Justin).

The ADL wrote that SIOA “promotes a conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda under the guise of fighting radical Islam.”

They then proceeded to highlight much of what we already exposed in early July about the existence of hardcore anti-Muslim fear mongering and overt genocidal declarations by SIOA members,

Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, who took over the group’s leadership in April 2010, view SIOA as protecting against a powerful and dangerous “Islamic machine” that stands to threaten the security and cultural fabric of the U.S. Geller, in views she outlines in her blog, has linked Islam to bestiality and rape of minors and described the Qur’an as “inspiring” violence. Geller has also charged that Muslim immigration has caused “rampant” honor killings in North America and Europe, compared Muslims to Nazis, and asserted that Hitler was inspired by Islam.

Several SIOA ads have been displayed on public transportation in various cities in the U.S. One set of ads directed viewers to a Web site created by SIOA called “Refuge From Islam.” The site claims that Muslim Americans who “long to be free” of their religion are in danger of being killed, and offers “safe houses” for those who want “out.” Another set of ads – the “Honor Killing Awareness Campaign” – purports to address young Muslim women feeling threatened by their family for rejecting Muslim values or becoming “too Americanized.”

Much of SIOA’s activity has been focused on the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero. Geller, in particular, has sought to garner support for the group at various events in New York and elsewhere. At a Tea Party convention in Tennessee on May 22, 2010, Geller called the proposed center “the ultimate flag of conquest.” On June 6, during an SIOA demonstration against the proposed Islamic Center in New York City that attracted thousands, Geller said, “It is unconscionable to build a shrine to the very ideology that inspired the jihadist attacks at ground zero.” SIOA also launched an advertising campaign, which ran during the month of August, juxtaposing an image of an airplane headed toward the burning World TradeCenter with another building labeled “WTC Mega Mosque” and the words “Why There?”

SIOA organized what it characterized as a “September 11 Rally of Remembrance” near the proposed Islamic center site on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks. The rally featured a number of politicians, radio personalities as well as 9/11 victims’ family members. After a number of commemorative prayers, SIOA head Pamela Geller told rally participants, “Only you can stop this triumpheral mosque on the cherished site of conquered land.” Participants carried various banners and signs, including ones that read, “No Obama’s Mosque” and “Islam = 1400 years of Aggression, Murder! ‘Peace’ of Islam = Cutting Non-Muslims to Pieces! Never Submit to Sharia – Islam!”

Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who was introduced by Geller as her “hero,” told the crowd: “As we all know, America, New York and shari’a are incompatible…A tolerant society, like your city New York, must defend itself against the powers of darkness, against the forces of hatred, the blight of ignorance….we must never give a free hand to those who want to subjugate us.”

In her blog postings and other writings, Geller regularly voices support for Wilders, whom she has described as “the Bravest Man in Europe” and “our proxy in the trial of Western Civilization, protagonist vs Islam, antagonist.” She has also indicated that she intends to help garner support for Wilders; she claims to have personally financed Wilder’s February 2009 trip to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC. A few months later, she served on the host committee of one South Florida event held in Wilders’ honor and defended him against criticism related to some of his other scheduled appearances in the area.

SIOA was created to mirror its European “sister” organization, Stop the Islamization of Europe (SIOE). Like its American affiliate, SIOE warns of the encroachment of shari’a, or Islamic law.  However, SIOE’s leaders go one step further, calling for the halt to all mosque construction in Europe.

Geller has also expressed support for the goals and actions of the English Defense League (EDL), a self-described “Counter Jihad movement” based inEngland. Geller described the group as Europe’s “movement for freedom” and promoted EDL events, including a March 2010 rally organized in support of Wilders. In response to an incident in which members of the EDL were implicated in violent clashes with police in the northern English city ofBradford in August 2010, Geller posted the following message to her blog: “The stated goal of the EDL is to oppose militant Islam and the sharia. What’s wrong with that? Everything to the PC, leftist slaves in the media and the government.” Days later, she defended the group against accusations that it features a neo-Nazi and racist ideology, instead accusing the media of attacking “any and all counter jihad activists.”

Anti-Muslim themes can also be seen in Geller and Spencer’s impassioned criticism of President Obama, whom Geller has described as “the culmination of the Islamic-leftist alliance.” Geller has accused Obama of doing the bidding of “Islamic overlords” and unfairly favoring Muslims, whom she argues have become “a de facto privileged class” in the U.S. Geller and Spencer co-authored the book, The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America, released in July 2010.

While it is welcomed news that the ADL condemns the likes of Geller and Spencer, it highlights a glaring contradiction on the part of the ADL. They  are willing to take a stand against the likes of Geller and Spencer but at the same time they receive funds from those who support them, i.e. Aubrey Chernick and his wife.

These denunciations will always appear hollow and hypocritical until the ADL boldly calls out the Chernicks for supporting the likes of Spencer and either gives the Chernicks an ultimatum to repudiate and distance themselves from Spencer or return the money to the Chernicks in protest.

 

ADL Contradicts its Goals by approval of Fascist

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 7, 2009 by loonwatch

adl-large

The ADL (Anti-Defamation League) is one of the oldest civil rights organizations in America and Abe Foxman has been its public face for over 20 years now. The ADL bills itself as the “nations premier civil rights/human relations agency” and states that it “fights Anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all.”

These are lofty goals and one must recognize the contribution that the ADL has made to civil rights both in legislation and advocacy over the years.  This is the reason why Abe Foxman’s comments in support of the new Israeli administration led by Binyamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman are all the more troubling.

He implies that he is not troubled by the ascension of Avigdor Lieberman who has been described by many in Israel as a fascist because of his desire to make all Israelis take loyalty oaths and if they do not comply have their citizenship revoked. As we reported previously Lieberman was a member of the Kach party which was inspired and created by the late terrorist Meir Kahane.

All of these facts should have raised red flags for Foxman but in a piece titled Lieberman loyalty proposal finds support in U.S., Ben Harris writes,

the Anti-Defamation League, an organization that is quick to spot instances of discrimination, says Lieberman is right to be concerned about apparent acts of disloyalty by Israeli Arabs.

Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director, noted with concern the trips by Arab Israeli Knesset members to enemy states and expressions of solidarity with Hamas by Israeli Arabs during Israel’s recent military operation in the Gaza Strip.

“There were a lot of people who said, ‘Hey, that’s disloyal,’ ” Foxman told JTA. “That’s what he’s talking about. He’s not saying expel them. He’s not saying punish them.”

This is a very troubling justification for Lieberman’s agenda and a convenient glossing over of the

Abraham Foxman

Abraham Foxman

facts. It is ironic considering that this is a similar accusation that was leveled against Jews in Europe at which time their loyalty was also called into question. It is a slippery slope when anyone brings up the card of “loyalty,” it leads one to ask who defines loyalty to a state? Is any criticism of the state considered disloyal? When many Israelis, Arabs and Jews protested against the Gaza offensive they were called disloyal, is this the type of action that merits a program to test the loyalty of a nation’s citizens?

Lieberman and his party define disloyalty by what you wear amongst other things,

If you are an Arab student and dare come to school wearing a kefiyah, you are ‘disloyal.’ He has called for the expulsion of Arab Members of the Knesset, threatening them that “a new administration will be established and then we will take care of you. He led the drive in Israel’s Central Election Committee to have Arab political parties banned from running in the most recent election, which passed successfully and was overturned only by the Israeli Supreme Court”

Abe Foxman should have known better, instead of siding with a fascist with a murky past and a penchant for radical and hateful statements such as Lieberman he should have held fast to the stated goals of the ADL to “defend Democratic ideals,” instead his actions undermined them and put into question ADL’s commitment to Democratic values.