Archive for Anti-Defamation League

Clergy Beyond Borders Embark on an Interfaith Caravan Trip

Posted in Anti-Loons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 26, 2011 by loonwatch

Just look at the difference between Clergy Beyond Borders and hatemongers such as SIOA’s Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller. One group (guess who) promotes pluralism, respect for our Constitution and freedom while the other one sows divisiveness, hate and thrives off of fear.

Clergy Beyond Borders Embark on an Interfaith Caravan Trip

Symi Rom-Rymer (Huffington Post)

An unusual vehicle is stuck in traffic on the highway from Nashville to Murfreesboro, T.N. It may look like an everyday passenger van but a glance inside tells a different story. Two imams, two rabbis and one evangelical pastor sit cheek-by-jowl with boxes of interfaith material blocking the back windows. With the rain pelting against the windows, the pastor and one of the rabbis pull up Facebook, excitedly checking how many friends they have in common. The conversation swings from good-natured teasing to philosophical discussions and disheartening stories of humiliation suffered in a post-9/11 world. This drive is just one of many this group will have taken together by the end of their 15-day Religious Leaders for Reconciliation ride through cities in the American South and Midwest. Their goal is to bring a message of unity and of interfaith understanding to a country they feel is forgetting what that means.

“A rabbi next to an imam, next to an evangelical minister: it sounds strange,” explains Imam Yahya Hendi, founder of Clergy Beyond Borders, the organization sponsoring the ride, and the Muslim chaplain at Georgetown University. “But this is the America dream. This is what America makes possible. This could be a joke in Saudi Arabia or maybe in Pakistan. This could never be a joke in the United States of America. This is a dream we need to protect. This is the reality we need to nurture.”

Deep recessions in the United States in the past have resulted in high levels of intolerance of immigrants and other minority groups. “History suggests that the quality of our democracy — more fundamentally, the moral character of American society — would be at risk if we experienced a many-year downturn,” Harvard economist Benjamin Friedman predicted in “Meltdown, a Case Study,” in The Atlantic in 2005.

For the clergy in the van, Friedman’s 2005 predictions are today’s realities. The stresses of the last decade have thrown American racism and prejudice into stark relief. An atmosphere of suspicion and misunderstanding has taken root, poisoning the religious and cultural plurality that many Americans point to with great pride. The motto of the trip is “One Ark, One Humanity,” drawing from the premise that followers of the three Abrahamic faiths share the same ancestor, Noah. In other words, to ignore that bond is to ignore one’s own faith. By talking about each of the religious traditions and better understanding them, the clergy hope to break down barriers between the practitioners of each of the faiths. Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer, a ride participant said, “I don’t actually think as a Jew, that I know everything there is to know about God and about religious truth. I love my tradition, I read the text of my tradition, but it’s been my experience with Christians and Muslims that what I’ve learned [from them] enriches me, makes me a better Jew and makes me see things in my own tradition that I didn’t see before.”

The destination today is Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, T.N., the ninth city on the tour. While much of the media and political attention last year was focused on whether to build Park 51, the proposed Muslim cultural center in downtown New York, Murfreesboro was struggling with its own divisive debates over the building of a new mosque. No sooner had the land been secured, some members of the community opposed it. Bringing the matter to court over zoning laws, the case attracted the attention of national conservative groups. Soon, it was no longer about the legality of building the mosque but rather a referendum on American Muslims and on Islam itself. The Los Angeles Times reported that conservative activists were brought into Murfreesboro to say in court that “American Muslims — including those in Murfreesboro — want to impose Shari’a, or Islamic law, on the United States, and that the proposed mosque, gymnasium and swimming pool were part of a ‘stealth jihad.’” Meanwhile, the county’s planning commission argued that Islam was not a religion and therefore not eligible to own land for religious purposes.

The Judge ultimately ruled in favor of the Muslim community but just before the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the local Islamic Center received a bomb threat. Thus far, no contractor is willing to take on the project of building the mosque.

In the van, this recent history is well known. There was some anxiety as the group rolled closer to the destination. The event, co-sponsored by the MTSU Muslim Student Association, the Wesley Foundation and the Jewish Student Union, would be open to the public. One of the clergy remarked that earlier in the day while in Nashville, he was told that he would be going to ‘Ground Zero.’ His students at Duke University told him that they looked forward to seeing him if he got back, not when.

The program at MTSU was billed as an interfaith event but Islam and Muslims were firmly at the center of the discussion. Could this panel of clergy bring some words of reconciliation or encouragement to this town torn apart by anger and suspicion? Imam Hendi, with great verve and enthusiasm, tried to impress upon his audience the seriousness with which he takes the American ideals of religious plurality and freedom. “Many years ago,” he thundered to the crowd, “I wanted to live free and I knew only in America can I live free. Only in the pluralistic, diverse America, can I be myself and I want America to continue to be pluralistic, to continue to be diverse. That is why I will continue to live in the United State of America. Not because I want it to be a Muslim America. No! If America wants to become Muslim, let me know so that I can move elsewhere.”

Laughter and applause greeted his words, but skepticism lingered. In this traditionally Christian majority community, some wanted to know if by advocating for religious pluralism, these clergy were really advocating for an amalgamation of the three religions. Absolutely not, was the immediate reply. “I am an exclusivist,” expanded Reverend Steve Martin. “How do I square that then with interfaith dialogue? Calling myself a Christian or claiming a certain faith experience doesn’t mean that I have it all figured out. Although I believe the truth of the faith that I claim is definitive, there’s a lot that I can learn about that faith by interacting with, by loving and caring, and deeply deeply respecting brothers and sisters of other pathways and other faiths. ”

Other questioners spoke more to the political discourse of recent years, demonstrating the influence conservative talking points have had within the community. “Do you believe that Christians should be able to build as many churches as they wish and Jewish people should be allowed to live in Saudi Arabia and build as many synagogues as they wish?” asked one audience member suspiciously. “How do you plan to even begin on the oppression of your [Muslim] women?” asked another.

These provocative questions resulted only in calm answers. I’m so glad you asked that question, responded Imam Hendi. “I stand by you for a Christian to be able to openly and publically worship in churches in Saudi Arabia.” Imam Abdullah Antepli, his colleague on the panel, jumped in, adding that not allowing minorities to pray in Saudi Arabia has no grounding in Islamic practice and is in fact a violation of Islam.

Turning the onus back onto the questioner concerned about Muslim women’s rights, Imam Hendi added some provocation of his own. “I feel so angry when I see women oppressed in some Muslim countries. That happens not because of Islam, but rather despite Islam. Look at the history of the past 20 years in Muslim countries. Turkey had a female president, [as has] Bangladesh and Indonesia. Pakistan had a female prime minister. The American debate, unfortunately, is still if we can have a female president.”

For many others, the themes of unity and of opening oneself up to ones’ neighbors resonated deeply and without rancor. They made it clear that the debate over the mosque not only affected the Muslim community, but the whole community. It was their image and reputations on the line. Laura, a Murfreesboro resident, summed up many of her neighbors’ feelings during the question and answer session. The portrayal of her town in the media over the past year was not a fair representation of her and of the people of Murfreesboro, she said. “There are many of us who support the mosque,” she added. “A number of us have made some efforts in community organizing in order to come together.”

As people lingered in the lobby following the program, the mood was positive. The message the clergy had been trying to impart all evening seemed to have fallen on receptive ears. “I think it was one of the best debates we’ve had, and I’ve been to several of them,” said Jennifer Roberts, another Murfreesboro resident. “In the last year, [this] is all I want to talk about. I started a diversity group where I work and we’re trying to get people just to learn. You don’t have to become. You don’t have to switch. If you know, it’s not as scary.”

Having been awake since 5 AM and arriving back at their hotel in Nashville 18 hours later, it had been a long day for the group. Early the next morning, they would pack up the van again and leave for their next stop: Louisville, K.Y. The schedule was punishing, but they had a mission. “A lot of voices in the name of religion have been dividing us,” said Imam Antepli, who had gotten up at 3:30 AM to join the ride. “We are struggling to turn our differences into richness. It is the core mission of the clergy to make religion a strong force of peace and reconciliation.”

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.

Richard Silverstein: David Yerushalmi Threatens Defamation Lawsuit

Posted in Loon People, Loon Rabbis with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2011 by loonwatch

Richard Silverstein takes David Yerushalmi to task. Yerushalmi threatened him with a lawsuit, it didn’t work out for old Yeru.

David Yerushalmi Threatens Defamation Lawsuit

by Richard Silverstein (TikkunOlam)

NOTE: I originally published this post in reply to a threat of a defamation lawsuit from David Yerushalmi.  I temporarily withdrew it in order to consult with counsel.  I post this now.

But before I do, since I wrote this, the Anti Defamation League, a group with whom I often disagree, has published a strong denunciation of Yerushalmi’s views under the headline “Extremism,” which is worth noting:

One of the driving forces behind Shari’a-related conspiracy theories and growing efforts to ban or restrict the use of Shari’a law in American courts is David Yerushalmi, an Arizona attorney with a record of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black bigotry.

…Yerushalmi has not only actively promoted his conspiratorial vision of Shari’a law, but has also sought to portray all Muslims as a threat. In one March 2006 article, for example, Yerushalmi even went so far as to claim that “Muslim civilization is at war with Judeo-Christian civilization…The Muslim peoples, those committed to Islam as we know it today, are our enemies.”

That same year, Yerushalmi founded the Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE), a “think tank” that has published anti-Muslim, anti-immigration and anti-black materials, as well as New World Order-style conspiracy theories.

…Yerushalmi’s main instrument, SANE, is also openly hostile to undocumented migrants in the United States. It advocates somehow sealing all American borders and building “special criminal camps” to house undocumented migrants…

…Yerushalmi [has] defend[ed] people accused of anti-Semitism such as Mel Gibson and Pat Buchanan because they “have the potential to save the West from itself and from Islam.”

The statement doesn’t at all deal with Yerushalmi’s Kahane-like pro-settler views about Israel, which is understandable since the ADL’s difference with him on this subject might be more nuanced.  But such as it is, the statement should gain broad visibility and further reinforce Yerushalmi’s reputation as a far-right anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim bigot.

My original post follows:

A short time ago I published a post about David Yerushalmi’s leadership of various state campaigns to ban Sharia law.  If you’ve been reading this blog for a few years you’ll remember back to 2007 when I wrote several posts about Yerushalmi’s leadership role in the campaign against New York’s Khalil Gibran Academy and the accompanying demonization and forced removal of principal Debbie Almontaser (which was later found wrongful by an EEOC ruling).  I reviewed his then publicly-accessible website, Saneworks, for the overtly racist rhetoric it contained.  I called him then a “Jewish white supremacist.”

Mother Jones recently published its own profile of Yerushalmi’s efforts to ban Sharia law and called him simply a “white supremacist.”  Apparently, he didn’t like that.  Didn’t like it one bit.  As a result he sent Mother Jones a message saying that he was compiling a record of the magazine’s coverage of him as part of a legal brief.  Not exactly a threat of a lawsuit, but not far from one.

To me he was far more explicit.  He sent this to a lawyer representing me in my current libel suit which will be heard in Los Angeles in the coming days:

I am reluctantly forced to revisit the statements your client, Richard Silverstein, has made about me on his blog. When he first attacked me personally and stated that I was a fascist, racist, and Kahanist, I ignored them, even as others of his ilk provided these baseless statements “legs” allowing countless more “eyes” the opportunity to read what your client understood and represented to be carefully calculated factual statements about me.  These statements are demonstrably false and your client made them knowing they were false or acting recklessly in this regard.  This recklessness I believe was established in his deposition testimony in the Neuwirth case.

I ignored these publications because your client uses this kind of ad hominem invective on a regular basis and I was just one of many people he attacked personally without any real factual basis.

Unfortunately, your client has republished the original articles via links in a most recent piece stating that I am a white supremacist. I might still have ignored this except for the fact that it has now concretely and specifically injured me in my legal profession in Arizona. I have now lost an African American client who was prepared to retain my firm but for your clients defamatory publications, because he could not afford to be associated with someone accused of such beliefs even though he knows I do not hold these beliefs. Much of his business is in public relations and this charge by your client was for him too much to sustain.

My staff and family have prevailed upon me to sue your client for defamation. Again, I am reluctant given the First Amendment issues, but I believe there is a strong basis to assert that his wholly unfounded, false, and defamatory statements, which have now led to concrete damages that I can measure minimally in excess of $100,000 suggests to me that my staff and family have the better argument.

The suit will be brought in Arizona.  An interesting and related case is Yetman v. English, 168 Ariz. 71, 811 P.2d 323 (1991).

I certainly understand your client will raise the standard First Amendment defenses: opinion, hyperbole, no actual malice.  If we get past these, your client will have the opportunity to test “truth” as a defense. It is to that end and to that purpose I am now drafting my complaint.

Your client may avoid the suit by deleting all articles published on his blog or other forum that refer to me in the defamatory ways described.

I am providing this to you confidentially.  If you client chooses to make this public, and he certainly may, this settlement offer is rescinded.

Thank you.

David Yerushalmi

Law Offices of David Yerushalmi, P.C.:

Washington, D.C., New York, California & Arizona

I’ve debated how to address this threat and of course I’ve engaged pro bono legal case in the event he follows through on it.  But I will not be cowed by a bully.  I stand by the posts I’ve written by him.  I will not remove them.  I will gladly meet him in court or anywhere in defense of both my right to speak and publish, and the truth of the statements I’ve written about him.

David Yerushalmi is a fraud.  His claims about Islam are false, as anyone with any real knowledge of the religion will tell you.  His game is political opportunism to advance a strident right-wing anti-Muslim agenda.  An earlier iteration of his anti-jihad campaign involved a colleague, Dave Gaubatz, who did a “James O’Keefe” and infiltrated Virginia mosques posing as a new member.  They published their supposedly shocking accounts of radical jihadist activity which turned out to be “sky is falling” nonsense.  Gaubatz, for those of you who may not remember, was recently successfully sued for arranging for his son to pose as a CAIR intern, whereupon he stole internal organization documents for the purposes of discrediting CAIR.  The court ordered Gaubatz to return the documents.

Even Yerushalmi’s name is fake.  His family birth name is Beychok, born of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants to America.  To be clear, I’m not saying that Yerushalmi’s legal name isn’t that.  I’m talking about the underlying motivations regarding Jewish nationalist identity that are involved in such a name change.  Yerushalmi means “from Jerusalem.”  Yerushalmi is as much a resident of Jerusalem as I am.  He doesn’t live in Jerusalem nor do I.  Let me make clear that I have no problem with Jewisholim changing their name once they move to Israel, taking Hebrew names such as Yerushalmi.  But to do so when you live in America is pure preciousness.  He wants to tell you that he supports the settler concept of the eternal inviolability of Jerusalem as a Jewish city and capital.  He wants to tell you he believes in the whole nine yards of ultra-Orthodox extremism regarding God’s sacred gift of all of the Land of Israel to the entire Jewish people in perpetuity.

Yerushalmi denies he is a white Jewish supermacist, yet writes in his website and other online venues nonsense like this:

…Our constitutional republic was specifically designed to insulate our national leaders from the masses,democracy has seeped up through the cracks and corroded everything we once deemed sacred about our political order. Prior to the Civil War, the electorate, essentially white Christian men, had access to local government. It was here, where men shared an intimacy born of family ties, shared religious beliefs, and common cultural signposts, that representative government was meant to touch our daily lives. With the social and cultural revolution which followed the emancipation, man’s relationship to political order was radically nationalized and democratized.

And believe me, Yerushalmi doesn’t use the term “democratized” in a flattering way.  Here he clarifies that he isn’t opposed to the paternalistic democracy of the Founding Fathers in which selection of senators and even the president was not given directly to the people (or as he calls them, “the masses”):

The founding fathers themselves of course opposed “democracy” in its simple formand created a wonderfully elaborate system to shield government from mass democracy

Here he expounds on the perniciousness of:

Raw or radical democracy where all men and all ideas and all cultures are deemed equal and given equal voice. That is of course the agenda of the Left…

Yerushalmi of course opposes Israeli democracy as well, or at least the current version which accords rights to Israeli Palestinian citizens.  Larry Cohler Esses, in a series he wrote for Jewish Week on the Stop the Madrassa campaign led by Yerushalmi, noted that the latter called for Israel to “cast off the yoke of liberal democracy.”

It should be noted that Meir Kahane maintained precisely the same dismissive attitude toward Israeli democracy, saying that if given a choice between the latter and a Jewish state he would choose the latter.  In fact, Kahane was perfectly comfortable with a Jewish state that was not democratic.  It should come as no surprise that during a session in which he deposed me for the libel lawsuit I mentioned above, he revealingly referred to Kahane with the honorific, “the Rov” (or “Rabbi”), a traditional Jewish way by which yeshiva students refer to an honored teacher.

Cohler Esses also notes that Yerushalmi believes that left-wing Jews:

…Destroy their host nations like a fatal parasite…One must admit readily that the radical liberal Jew is a fact of the West and a destructive one. Indeed, Jews in the main have turned their backs on the belief in G-d and His commandments as a book of laws for a particular and chosen people.

Most Israelis are raging Leftists, and this includes the so-called nationalists who found a home in the ‘right-wing’ Likud political bloc or one of the other smaller and more marginal right wing parties.

What’s extraordinary here is that even the far-right secular nationalists of Likud come under withering condemnation.  The only true Jews and true Zionists can be the ultra-Orthodox like himself.

In a recent NPR interview, he either dissembles regarding his true views or he has radically reversed himself since he published earlier statements I’ve quoted previously in this blog.  Here are some of his earlier legislative proposals regarding Islam in American life:

…Islam requires all Muslims to actively and passively support the replacement of America’s constitutional republic with a political system based upon Shari’a.

…Adherence to Islam as a Muslim is prima facie evidence of an act in support of the overthrow of the US Government through the abrogation, destruction, or violation of the US Constitution and the imposition of Shari’a on the American People.

HEREFORE, IT IS RESOLVED THAT: It shall be a felony punishable by 20 years in prison to knowingly act in furtherance of, or to support the, adherence to Shari’a.

The Congress of the United States of America shall declare the US at war with the Muslim Nation.

He has clearly soft-pedaled such extremist views in order to win acceptance for them in the context of this current anti-Muslim national legislative campaign.  But compare the following claim about his legislation (from the NPR interview) with the above views and judge for yourself whether this leopard has changed its spots:

The law does not even criminalize the absolute practice of Shariah. In fact, you could go to Times Square and you could print out: I advocate Shariah, I even advocate, in theory, jihad against America and my statute does not touch you. The statute says the attorney general simply designates someone who practices a Shariah with terrorism component.

Given what I quoted above, you tell me whether or not the following statement from the interview is a lie:

Q:…Is your view of the measure [the anti-Sharia law bill] motivated in part by a view that Islam is inherently violent and that its adherents are inherently predisposed to violence because of their commitment to religious Islam?

Mr. YERUSHALMI: No.

And in this statement, he doesn’t exactly lie, but he deliberately deceives the listener into believing in his pro-Muslim altruism, which is in truth anything but:

I have represented pro bono Muslim-Americans.

He is indeed representing, as far as I know, three Muslim-Americans who were allegedly legal clients of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.  They are suing CAIR.  David Yerushalmi is on a political jihad against CAIR, which he views inaccurately as a pro-jihadi Muslim extremist organizations.  So yes, he’s representing a grand total of three Muslim-Americans in a single case, but only because he believes it will advance his own anti-Muslim political agenda.

Let’s examine this statement too in light of what I quoted above:

I have stated on the record, the pietistic worship of the divine through Islamic worship, Jewish worship, Christian worship, atheistic worship or humanistic, is protected and absolutely sacrosanct in our system.

How can you claim the above, when you’ve also called for the U.S. Congress to declare war “on the Muslim nation?”  There may be a poorly drawn distinction he is trying to make here between Islam as a religion and what he considers radical Islam which professes, again according to him, Islam as a political system.  But you’d have to forgive most lay people for missing that distinction and believing he’s at war with all Islam.

In the interview he also makes the statement:

I…certainly can’t be a white supremacist, only because I’m an orthodox Jew…

That’s why I called him a “Jewish white supremacist” since that conveys that he isn’t the same as Richard Butler or the Aryan Nation.  Nevertheless, his views, especially those regarding Islam, are not that dissimilar.  Yes, he’s dressed up his ideology (or should I say, theology) with a certain level of intellectual rigor lacking in most white supremacists.  But the fact that he is a racist cannot be denied without doing violence to the truth.

Of course a Jew can be a white supremacist if he denounces “liberal democracy,” disdains minorities, and believes in waging “war against Islam,” as he has said.

Let me also make absolutely clear, my quarrel with David Yerushalmi is purely political.  It is a quarrel among Jews about the meaning of Jewish identity and the role of Israel in Jewish life.  It is a battle over ideas.  If he wants to have such a battle in a courtroom or any other venue, I’m prepared.  Of course, Yerushalmi prefers to hold the battle in the courtroom because he doesn’t trust the rude democracy of the blogs and internet.  He knows his ideas will lose in a free and fair debate as our founding fathers envisioned.  So he resorts to legal threats.  It’s really a reverse form of the term beloved by far-right pro-Israel advocates like Alan Dershowitz, lawfare.  That is, it’s a form of political harrassment through abuse of the legal system to bring purely political arguments which should be resolved in the traditional American way such things are resolved; and instead attempting to bankrupt or otherwise intimidate the victim into silence.

Some people also call these legal actions SLAPP (Strategic Limitation Against Public Participation) suits which are often used by companies and other well-heeled individuals to limit discussion of issues sensitive to them.

The anti-jihadi lawyer’s claim of damage or losing business is a twisted version of what he attempts to do to his enemies.  He knows how difficult it is for an individual blogger to retain pro bono legal counsel and take the years that such cases can involve.  So he holds this over one’s head as a cudgel to stifle free speech and debate.  Well, not this blogger.  Not now.  Not ever.

Finally, I have no personal malice whatsoever against Yerushalmi.  I don’t know him personally.  I don’t want to know him personally.

NOTE: Yerushalmi has withdrawn his lawsuit threat in a note he sent to my counsel.

ADL: Hate-monger David Yerushalmi a Driving Force Behind Anti-Sharia Efforts

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2011 by loonwatch

The ADL calls out David Yerushalmi, a pretty good expose:

David Yerushalmi: A Driving Force Behind Anti-Sharia Efforts in the U.S.

(ADL 3/25/11)

One of the driving forces behind Shari’a-related conspiracy theories and growing efforts to ban or restrict the use of Shari’a law in American courts is David Yerushalmi, an Arizona attorney with a record of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black bigotry.

In recent years, Yerushalmi has created a characterization of Shari’a law (i.e., Islamic law) that declares there are “hundreds of millions” of Muslims who are either “fully committed mujahideen” or “still dangerous but lesser committed jihad sympathizers” who, because of Shari’a law, would be willing to murder all non-believers unwilling to convert, in order to “impose a worldwide political hegemony.”  Meanwhile, Yerushalmi asserts, the U.S. government itself has consciously chosen to turn a blind eye to this threat.

To combat this alleged threat, Yerushalmi has vigorously opposed all perceived “inroads” of Shari’a law in the United States, even entirely innocuous measures such as American financial institutions creating financing packages designed to be compatible with Islamic restrictions against loaning money at interest.

“American Laws for American Courts”

Yerushalmi’s latest weapon is model anti-Shari’a legislation he has titled “American Laws for American Courts,” developed for a group called the American Public Policy Alliance (APPA). The group claims that “one of the greatest threats to American values and liberties today” comes from “foreign laws and foreign legal doctrines,” including “Islamic Shari’ah law,” that have been “infiltrating our court system.”

Yerushalmi’s proposed legislation, which claims to “protect American citizens’ constitutional rights against the infiltration and incursion of foreign laws and foreign legal doctrines, especially Islamic Shari’ah Law,” has been the basis for anti-Shari’a measures introduced by state lawmakers in several states in recent years.

For example, a bill introduced by Sen. Alan Hays and Rep. Larry Metz in Florida to outlaw Shari’a (and other non-secular or foreign laws) in March 2011 is strikingly similar to Yerushalmi’s model legislation. Both Tennessee and Louisiana actually passed variations of Yerushalmi’s legislation in 2010.

On its Web site, the APPA cites 17 cases where it claims that Shari’a has been introduced in state courts; this is its evidence of “creeping” Shari’a law within the United States.

Yerushalmi has testified in support of the anti-Shari’a legislative efforts based on his proposal. For example, in a hearing before the Alaska House State Affairs Committee in March 2011, Yerushalmi claimed that “today, we are far more likely than ever before to have foreign laws in American courts…There are plenty of occasions in which foreign law informs what Alaskan law could be.”

Demonizing Islam

Yerushalmi has not only actively promoted his conspiratorial vision of Shari’a law, but has also sought to portray all Muslims as a threat. In one March 2006 article, for example, Yerushalmi even went so far as to claim that “Muslim civilization is at war with Judeo-Christian civilization…The Muslim peoples, those committed to Islam as we know it today, are our enemies.”

That same year, Yerushalmi founded the Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE), a “think tank” that has published anti-Muslim, anti-immigration and anti-black materials, as well as New World Order-style conspiracy theories. In 2007, SANE, declaring itself “dedicated to the rejection of democracy and party rule and a return to a constitutional republic [of the original founders of the US],” launched a campaign fueled by suspicion of all Muslims.

That campaign, “Mapping Shari’a in America: Knowing the Enemy,” sought to determine exactly what type of Shari’a every single mosque and Muslim religious institution in the U.S. was advocating. A June 2007 press release announcing the campaign indicated that SANE would work to “test the proposition that Shari’a amounts to a criminal conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. government” by investigating and ranking the adherence to Islamic law of mosques and their associated day-schools throughout the U.S. The statement also promised to “advocate for the criminalization of Shari’a” if it felt its targeted investigation into mosques and Islamic day schools proved such a measure necessary.

SANE also proposed legislation that furthering or supporting adherence to Shari’a “shall be a felony punishable by 20 years in prison.” It called on Congress to declare war on the “Muslim nation,” which it defined as “Shari’a-adherent Muslims,” and further asked Congress to define Muslim illegal immigrants as alien enemies “subject to immediate deportation.”

Yerushalmi’s Allies and Associates

Since founding SANE, Yerushalmi, who received his law degree from Arizona State University College of Law, has been involved with several notable anti-Muslim groups and campaigns, often providing legal services for them:

  • Yerushalmi works closely with Pamela Geller, head of the anti-Muslim Stop Islamization of America (SIOA). For example, in September 2010 Yerushalmi represented Geller and Florida attorney John Stemberger when Omar Tarazi, a Columbus, Ohio, attorney sued them for allegedly saying he had contacts with terrorists. Tarazi had represented the parents of Rifqa Bary, a Christian teenager who fled to Florida, saying she feared harm from her Muslim mother and father. In his lawsuit, Tarazi said Geller wrongly linked him to Hamas. Yerushalmi reportedly incorporated the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), the non-profit organization through which Geller and Robert Spencer publish their blogs. He also defended AFDI ads on New York City buses opposing a planned mosque near Ground Zero that juxtaposed an image of an airplane headed toward the burning World Trade Center with another building labeled “WTC Mega Mosque” and the words “Why There?” Yerushalmi and Geller were also involved in a bus ad campaign in Miami that read: “Fatwa on your head? Is your community or family threatening you?”
  • Yerushalmi was the attorney for the Stop the Madrassa Community Coalition in New York City, which lobbied for the Bloomberg administration to shut down the Khalil Gibran International Academy, an Islamic school, and requested the firing of its founding principal, Debbie Almontaser.
  • In December 2008, the Thomas More Law Center filed suit against the federal government, claiming the government’s loan to American International Group (AIG) was illegal because the insurance company had financial products that the group claimed promote Islam and are anti-Christian. Yerushalmi handled the case for the Center.  In an article written around the same time, Yerushalmi even went so far as to suggest that U.S. companies that offer Shari’a-compliant finance measures might violate the Sedition Act.
  • Yerushalmi is General Counsel to the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Security Policy, founded by Frank J. Gaffney. Gaffney has been active in opposing mosque construction and has made several statements about Islam that raise concerns. For example, in a 2009 article in the Washington Times, Gaffney claimed that “there is mounting evidence that the president not only identifies with Muslims, but actually may still be one himself.” In 2010, the Center for Security Policy published the book Shari’ah: The Threat To America, An Exercise in Competitive Analysis, Report of Team ‘B’ II, co-authored by Yerushalmi. The book repeated Yerushalmi’s theories about a vast Shari’a threat to America.
  • Yerushalmi has for many years been associated with the Institute for Advanced Strategic & Political Studies (IASPS), a right-wing think tank based in Israel and the United States, even serving as its chairman for five years, as well as writing a number of articles for it.  IASPS now primarily supports the projects of SANE.

Other Hostile Views

Yerushalmi’s main instrument, SANE, is also openly hostile to undocumented migrants in the United States. It advocates somehow sealing all American borders and building “special criminal camps” to house undocumented migrants, where they would serve a three-year detention sentence, then be deported.  SANE also argues that the “immigration debate” should take into account that America was “founded and made strong by immigrants from western European countries with Judeo-Christian roots.”

Yerushalmi has also claimed, as he wrote in a 2006 article, that the United States is in trouble because it “rejected its Christian roots, the Constitution and federalism,” and because it “embraced democracy” and multi-culturalism. This has rendered it “incapable” of “overcoming the World State ideology of the Liberal Elites.”  These beliefs have caused Yerushalmi to defend people accused of anti-Semitism such as Mel Gibson and Pat Buchanan because they “have the potential to save the West from itself and from Islam.”  Liberal Jews, on the other hand, according to Yerushalmi are “the leading proponents of all forms of anti-Western, anti-American, anti-Christian movements, campaigns, and ideologies,” and to argue otherwise one would have to be “literally divorced from reality.” Liberal Jews, according to Yerushalmi, have also destroyed “their host nations like a fatal parasite.”

Nor has Yerushalmi neglected the subject of race. Articles Yerushalmi has written for the SANE Web site argue that the “most of the fundamental differences between the races is genetic.” In a 2006 essay for SANE entitled, “On Race: A Tentative Discussion,” Yerushalmi claimed that “some races perform better in sports, some better in mathematical problem solving, some better in language, some better in Western societies and some better in tribal ones.” He also contended that African-Americans are a “relatively murderous race killing itself.”  For Yerushalmi it was obvious: “If evolution and the biologists who espouse the theory are correct, then the idea that racial differences included innate differences in character and intelligence would[,] it seem[,] be more likely than not.”

Henry Kissinger: “Jews in Gas Chambers is not an American Concern”

Posted in Loon Politics, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 16, 2010 by loonwatch

Henry Kissinger, one of the only Nixon officials to escape the taint of involvement in Watergate has officially had his reputation destroyed. A recently released Nixon tape has Kissinger saying that it is not a concern of America if Jews are sent to gas chambers.

“The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy. And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern.” — Henry Kissinger

Christopher Hitchens who I am generally wary of linking to has an excellent piece on this most recent expose of the heinous views of Kissinger. He makes an excellent point that Kissinger should now be shunned by society and that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) which is quick to condemn anti-Semitism when it is uttered by Jesse Jackson or Mel Gibson need to break their silence and condemn Kissinger.

Christopher Hitchens: Latest Nixon tape buries Kissinger’s reputation 

(Slate)

In the past, Kissinger has defended his role as enabler to Nixon’s psychopathic bigotry, saying that he acted as a restraining influence on his boss by playing along and making soothing remarks. This can now go straight into the lavatory pan, along with his other hysterical lies. Obsessed as he was with the Jews, Nixon never came close to saying that he’d be indifferent to a replay of Auschwitz. For this, Kissinger deserves sole recognition.
It’s hard to know how to classify this observation in the taxonomy of obscenity. Should it be counted as tactical Holocaust pre-denial? That would be too mild. It’s actually a bit more like advance permission for another Holocaust. Which is why I wonder how long the official spokesmen of American Jewry are going to keep so quiet. Nothing remotely as revolting as this was ever uttered by Jesse Jackson or even Mel Gibson, to name only two famous targets of the wrath of the Anti-Defamation League. Where is the outrage? Is Kissinger — normally beseeched for comments on subjects about which he knows little or nothing — going to be able to sit out requests from the media that he clarify this statement? Does he get to keep his op-ed perch in reputable newspapers with nothing said? Will the publishers of his mendacious and purloined memoirs continue to give him expensive lunches as if nothing has happened?

Read more: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2010/12/14/christopher-hitchens-latest-nixon-tape-buries-kissingers-reputation/#ixzz18ILqW8kA

 

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.