Archive for Abraham Foxman

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.

 

The New Anti-Semitism: Replace Jew with Muslim

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2010 by loonwatch
The anti-Muslim movement is gaining momentum

Danial Luban examines the people and ideas behind the growing anti-Muslim hysteria. What he finds is a mixture of crusader-inspired nuts and right wing politicians willing to compromise sanity for electoral success.

The New Anti-Semitism

by Daniel Luban

After Abraham Foxman waded into the “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy,opposing [1] plans to construct an Islamic community center a few blocks from the World Trade Center site, the Anti-Defamation League chief was assailed by critics who charged that the ADL was giving license to bigotry and betraying its historic mission “to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike.” A week after initially coming out against the mosque, Foxman announced that the ADL was bowing out of the controversy, but the damage to the group’s reputation had been done.

The problem for the ADL is that there simply isn’t much anti-Semitism of consequence in the United States these days. While anti-Semitism continues to thrive elsewhere in the world and to molder on the fringes of American society, Jews have by now been fully assimilated into the American ruling class and into the mainstream of American life. A mundane event like the recent wedding of Protestant Chelsea Clinton and Jewish Marc Mezvinsky drove this point home. What was notable was not the question “will she convert?” but how little importance anyone attached to the answer; the former first daughter’s choice between Judaism and Christianity seemed as inconsequential as the choice between Episcopalianism and Presbyterianism would have a few decades ago.

At the same time, many of the tropes of classic anti-Semitism have been revived and given new force on the American right. Once again jingoistic politicians and commentators posit a religious conspiracy breeding within Western society, pledging allegiance to an alien power, conspiring with allies at the highest levels of government to overturn the existing order. Because the propagators of these conspiracy theories are not anti-Semitic but militantly pro-Israel, and because their targets are not Jews but Muslims, the ADL and other Jewish groups have had little to say about them. But since the election of President Barack Obama, this Islamophobic discourse has rapidly intensified.

While the political operatives behind the anti-mosque campaign speak the language of nativism and American exceptionalism, their ideology is itself something of a European import. Most of the tropes of the American “anti-jihadists,” as they call themselves, are taken from European models: a “creeping” imposition of sharia, Muslim allegiance to the ummah [2] rather than to the nation-state, the coming demographic crisis as Muslims outbreed their Judeo-Christian counterparts. In recent years the call-to-arms about the impending Islamicization of Europe has become a well-worn genre[3], ranging from more sophisticated treatments like Christopher Caldwell’s Reflections on the Revolution in Europe to cruder polemics like Mark Steyn’s America Alone and Bat Ye’or’s Eurabia.

It would be a mistake to seek too precise a correspondence between the new Islamophobia and the old anti-Semitism, which differ in some key respects. Jews have never threatened to become a numerical majority, or even a sizable minority, in any European country, so anxiety about Jewish power naturally gravitated toward the myth of the shadowy elite manipulating the majority from behind the scenes. By contrast, anti-Muslim anxiety has focused on the supposed demographic threat posed by Muslims, in which the dusky hordes overwhelm the West by sheer weight of numbers. (“The sons of Allah breed like rats,” as the late Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci put it.) It may be that in many ways this Islamophobia shares more of the tropes of traditional anti-Catholicism than classic anti-Semitism.

But if the tropes do not always line up, there is some notable continuity in the players involved. One of the most striking stories of recent years has been the realignment of segments of the European far right behind a form of militant support for Israel. Much of the traditional neofascist right remains both anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic, but savvier far-right leaders have realized that by dropping the anti-Semitic elements of their platforms and doubling down on Islamophobia, they can tap into a new base of support from pro-Israel hawks across the Atlantic. Both the British National Party and the Vlaams Belang in Belgium have gone this route, although it remains questionable whether the move away from anti-Semitism is more than skin-deep. (The Vlaams Belang’s predecessor party, for instance, was disbanded after a controversy [4] concerning Holocaust-denying statements made by one of its top officials.) Equally striking has been the rise of Geert Wilders, the controversial Dutch politician whose Islamophobia, virulent enough to draw thecondemnation [5] of even the ADL, has made him a darling of “anti-jihadists” in the United States.

Although there was a predictable upsurge in anti-Muslim sentiments in the United States following the Sept. 11 attacks, much of the most virulent Islamophobic discourse remained marginal on this side of the Atlantic in the early years of the war on terror. There are several possible reasons for this, but one of the most important is simply that George W. Bush, as president, was committed to a rhetoric about Islam as a “religion of peace” divided into a moderate majority and an extremist minority. The justification for the Iraq war came to depend heavily on this distinction, and right-wing hawks, with some grumbling, generally fell into line. The election of Obama, however, freed the hawks from any obligation to temper their rhetoric and simultaneously provided ample material for conspiracy theories about Muslims and fellow travelers in the White House. The result has been an intensification both in the amount of Islamophobia and in its political prominence, as ideas that were once marginal have moved to the center of political debate.

***

The two years since Obama’s election have seen a sudden flood of books describing an alleged Muslim conspiracy against the United States. Examples include Robert Spencer’s Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam Is Subverting America Without Guns Or Bombs, Spencer and Pamela Geller’s new The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War On America, Paul Sperry’sInfiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington, and Sperry and P. David Gaubatz’s Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America.

The works share a set of common themes. Radical Muslims who engage in violence are only the tip of the iceberg, goes the argument; the more insidious threat comes from the far larger group of religious Muslims (most, perhaps all) who aim to subjugate the United States under sharia law through ostensibly peaceful and legal means. In this they are aided and abetted by the leftist elites controlling the government, media, and academy—above all, the ambiguously Muslim Obama himself—and a cast of villains that includes some mix of the Muslim Brotherhood, Jeremiah Wright, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Obama adviser Dalia Mogahed, ACORN, and George Soros. Some of the authors of these works have ties to the European far right themselves; Geller and Spencer, for instance, have alienated former political allies by championing Geert Wilders and the Vlaams Belang.
Andrew C. McCarthy’s The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America is among the most recent, and likely the most comprehensive, contributions to the genre. McCarthy is, on the surface, a credible figure: A former federal prosecutor, he came to prominence by winning convictions against Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman and others linked to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. During the Bush years, he was a vociferous defender of the administration’s detainee policies, while Obama’s election caused him to venture into nuttier territory. (He has speculated [6], for instance, that Bill Ayers may have been the real author of Obama’s Dreams From My Father.) His book helps illustrate both the potency of the Muslim-conspiracy myth and the extent to which it has taken hold of mainstream right-wing discourse.

McCarthy’s thesis is simple: Muslims aiming “to supplant American constitutional democracy with sharia law” have joined forces with leftists—including Obama himself—to impose a shared “totalitarian, collectivist” vision. Which Muslims? McCarthy hints that the real problem is Islam itself but that for reasons of political correctness it is wiser to stick to the term “Islamist”—a distinction that loses some of its force given his estimation that two-thirds of Muslims are Islamists. (Indeed, he applies the term to some, like Edward Said, who were not Muslims at all.)

The bulk of the Muslim population, then, aims to impose sharia over every aspect of American life. How will they do this? Through violence, if need be—but McCarthy is keen to note that Islamists are above all master dissimulators who will seek to impose sharia through legal means if they can (“grand-jihad-by-sabotage,” he calls it). This means that even peaceful attempts to follow Islam through strictly private means (for instance, through sharia-compliant finance) are simply precursors to a takeover of the overall system. Muslims who live within religious or ethnic enclaves are not merely trying to remain within a familiar community or preserve shared values; rather, they are presented as deviously following the “voluntary apartheid” strategy of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood—the group whose “global tentacles” extend into nearly every Muslim-American civil society organization. It is too obvious to be worth belaboring that no one would dream of applying a similar logic to Orthodox Jews or evangelical Christian homeschoolers.

At times, McCarthy speaks the language of religious tolerance, arguing simply that Islam should not have a “sacrosanct status” denied to other religions. Yet it becomes increasingly clear that he is in fact arguing for special targeting and discriminatory measures against Islam, and he eventually concedes that he believes it is wrong to place Judaism and Christianity “on a par with an inherently discriminatory, supremacist doctrine.” As a result, “foreign Muslims should not be permitted to reside in America unless they can demonstrate their acceptance of American constitutional principles.” (But how, given the Muslim propensity for dissimulation, can we be sure that their professions of loyalty are genuine?)

The Islamist threat to the United States, McCarthy further argues, would not be so dire if it weren’t for their alliance with the leftists who “dominate policy circles, the academy, and the media.” The most important of these, of course, is Obama himself. Obama “publicly professes” to be a Christian, and McCarthy generously allows that there is no reason to doubt him—although he goes on to include two full chapters on Obama’s Muslim roots—before asserting that the “faith to which Obama actually clings is neocommunism.” This distinction ultimately matters little, however, for the Marxism of Obama and the rest of the American elite coalesces in key respects with the Islamism of the Muslim Brotherhood and its American minions.

The overall tone and content of McCarthy’s polemic will be familiar to students of 1850s Know-Nothing anti-Catholicism or 1950s anti-Communism—or, for that matter, late-19th-century European anti-Semitism. It is tempting to dismiss him as a crackpot, and on an obvious level he is one. But his speculations and those of his fellows are far from irrelevant to the political moment. They are not being published in anonymous blog comments sections, but in widely publicized and bestselling books. More to the point, they have already made a notable impact on American political discourse.

The mosque furor is only the most recent and revealing demonstration of the anti-jihadists’ political influence; from the beginning of the controversy, McCarthy and his allies have dictated the terms of debate on the right. In his July 28 statement attacking the Islamic center, Newt Gingrich cited The Grand Jihad and framed the controversy in McCarthy’s terms of Western civilization under siege from creeping sharia. More recently, the American Family Association—a leading fundamentalist Christian group—cited the book to argue that no more mosques should be built anywhere in the United States because “each Islamic mosque is dedicated to the overthrow of the American government.” A campaign spearheaded by Pamela Geller, the right-wing blogger who was previously most notorious for publishing a lengthy piece alleging that Obama is the illegitimate child of Malcolm X, will place ads on New York City buses opposing the Islamic center. On September 11, she and Gingrich will lead a major rally against the center that will also feature Wilders, the Islamophobic Dutch politician. What was once a lunatic fringe now appears to be running the show, aided and abetted by mainstream figures like Gingrich.

It is quite possible that the next Republican president will also be a party to what can justly be called the new McCarthyism; for that reason alone, McCarthy and his allies deserve our attention. But even more important is the impact of this steady stream of anti-Muslim vitriol on the popular consciousness. Cynical politicians like Gingrich may know that all the talk of the Islamic center as a “9/11 victory monument” and of ordinary Muslims as stealth sharia operatives is mere agitprop designed to win votes in an election year, but ordinary citizens may take them at their word and act accordingly.

While activists like Pam Geller have led the anti-mosque campaign and the broader demonization of Muslims that has accompanied it, leaders like Abe Foxman have acquiesced in it. In doing so they risk providing an ugly and ironic illustration of the extent of Jewish assimilation in 21st-century America. We know that Jews can grow up to be senators and Supreme Court justices. Let’s not also discover that they can grow up to incite a pogrom.

Daniel Luban is a doctoral student in political science at the University of Chicago.

 

CNN’s Fareed Zakaria Returns Award to the ADL

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on August 8, 2010 by loonwatch

CNN host returns ADL award over group’s opposition to Ground Zero mosque

(Hat tip: Mondoweiss)

Columnist and TV host Fareed Zakaria has returned a First Amendment award to the Anti-Defamation League in protest of the organization’s opposition to a proposed mosque near Ground Zero, the site of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.

Zakaria, a Washington Post columnist and CNN host, has been the editor of Newsweek International, a journal with a circulation of 24 million, for almost a decade. He published a blog on Friday publicly announcing that he had returned the ADL’s Hubert H. Humphrey Freedoms Prize.

“I was thrilled to get the award from an organization that I had long admired. But I cannot in good conscience keep it anymore. I have returned both the handsome plaque and the $10,000 honorarium that came with it. I urge the ADL to reverse its decision. Admitting an error is a small price to pay to regain a reputation.”

The Anti-Defamation League said in a statement Friday that it was saddened and stunned by Zakaria’s decision to return the prize they awarded him in 2005. ADL National Director Abe Foxman said he hoped that Mr. Zakaria “will come to see that ADL acted appropriately” and would reclaim the award bestowed upon him.

The ADL, a U.S. Jewish civil rights group, has said that the location of the planned mosque is counterproductive to the healing process of the families of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack.

 

Brad Burston: Rethinking Boycotts, the ADL and a Mosque

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 2, 2010 by loonwatch

Brad Burston is one of my favorite writers at Haaretz. His articles are always insightful, analytical and the commentary always makes you think.

In this article he writes about the ADL’s comments on the Cordoba Center as well as his opinions in general about boycotts.

A Special Place in Hell / Rethinking Israel boycotts, the ADL and a N.Y. mosque

by Brad Burston

In theory, the first purpose of boycotts is to cause people to think. To discover or reconsider an issue.

In theory, the first purpose of the Anti-Defamation League is the same. To cause people to discover, to rethink, to become aware of and combat bigotry, within themselves as well as in others.

This week a boycott campaign caused me to rethink boycotts against Israel. And a campaign by the Anti-Defamation League caused me to rethink the Anti-Defamation League.

The boycott was the decision by the Olympia, Washington Food Co-op, to remove Israeli products from the shelves of its two stores.

In a move as courageous as it was overdue, the co-op also featured and published online a pamphlet strongly opposing manifestations of anti-Semitism in leftist movements.

“Unfortunately,” the co-op’s blog observed, “anti-Semitic statements have abounded in a lot of the ‘support’ that the co-op has received in regard to the Israeli-products’ boycott.”

Protester calling for boycott of Israel A protester calling for a boycott of Israel.
Photo by: AP

The Olympia Food Co-op has taken an important step in distinguishing between opposition to the policies of Israel on the one hand, and anti-Jewish hatred on the other.

It has also worked to identify and distance Islamophobia and anti-Arab bigotry from the wider discussion of boycotts and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Which makes it all the more curious that when longtime ADL National Director Abraham Foxman chose to publicly oppose the construction of a mosque and Muslim cultural center near the Ground Zero site, his rationale was troubling, to say the least:

“Survivors of the Holocaust are entitled to feelings that are irrational,” Foxman, himself a survivor, told The New York Times.

“Referring to the loved ones of Sept. 11 victims, he said, ‘Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted.’”

There is something at once refreshing and destructive about Foxman’s words. Refreshing, in the sense that this sounds like unfiltered honesty. Destructive, in the sense that this is precisely the rationale under which many on the left have justified or excused non-progressive, at times overtly bigoted, statements and actions by militant Palestinians.

It is high time to strike bigotry of all forms – by both sides – from the debate over the Mideast conflict.

It is time, as well, for the Jewish community as a whole to relate differently to those in their midst who have a serious difference of opinion with Israel.

In this regard, it is time for the Jewish community to engage those who support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, rather than effectively excommunicating them.

Perhaps what is most profoundly needed is for those who care about the Mideast equation to genuinely say what they think, and to abandon the time-honored codes in which each side attacks the other.

Allow me to begin.

I fully recognize as valid the opinions of those who oppose the idea of a specifically Jewish state. I would only ask that they be honest and open about it.

If you think a Jewish state is a bad idea, an institution that should be disbanded, I believe that it is the honest thing – honest to yourself, before all else – to come out and say so.

As a supporter of the idea of a truly democratic Jewish state alongside an independent and sovereign Palestinian state, what I cannot accept is the idea that formally Muslim states are acceptable, where a Jewish state is not.

In the past I have been vociferous in opposing boycotts. I now realize that it was not the boycott per se that cause me rage, but the tolerance for a double standard that said “While others – including our own United States – commit war crimes, engage in oppression, and have a long history of subjugating, disenfranchising and dehumanizing minorities, Israel will be our sole target.”

Something else angered me as well – not the fact that some of the people who advocated boycotting Israel were actually against the idea of having a state of Israel, but the fact that for tactical reasons, they refused to come out and say so.

In general, I oppose boycotts as a tactic, first because I oppose collective punishment of all kinds, whether practiced by Israel against Gazans, or by progressives against Israelis as a whole. I also believe that boycotts against Israel tend to be self-defeating.

Having said that, I recognize that nearly everyone tends to boycott those they do not care for, while making efforts to support those whom they do. Moreover, some of those who most strongly oppose the BDS movement continually launch boycotts of their own.

I want to thank the Olympia Food Co-op Israel boycott. Something extremely valuable is happening there. Something truly radical. An awareness that people who are truly in favor of social justice must take a stand against bigotry, no matter the target.

The mayor of New York has set an example in this regard, saying of the mosque and its critics, “What is great about America, and particularly New York, is we welcome everybody, and if we are so afraid of something like this, what does that say about us?”

It’s a lesson that Abraham Foxman needs to relearn.