Archive for ThinkProgress

ThinkProgress: The American Enterprise Institute’s Islamophobia Problem

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon People with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 2, 2012 by loonwatch

Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton recently wrote a 2 part report on the Islamophobic views held by some of the “prominent” think tankers at the neo-Conservative American Enterprise Institute.

One such think tanker is Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In the first part of the report below Gharib discusses Ali’s recent speech in which she sympathizes with terrorist Anders Behring Breivik and shifts blame for his massacre onto the “advocates of silence,” i.e. liberals. Gharib also tip us for flagging the speech.

(Make sure to check out the second part of this report as well here.)

Conservative Think Tank Scholar Promotes Claim That Norway Terrorist Attacked Because He Was Censored

by Ali Gharib (ThinkProgress)

In a speech earlier this month, a scholar at an influential think tank and flagship of contemporary Washington conservatism, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), gave voice to one of the justifications for Norwegian anti-Muslim terrorist Anders Breivik‘s attacks, explaining that Breivik said “he had no other choice but to use violence” because his fringe views were “censored.” While accepting a prize this month from the German multimedia company Axel Springer, Somali-born Dutch AEI scholar Ayaan Hirsi Ali spoke on the “advocates of silence” — those she admonishes for purportedly stifling criticisms of radical Islamic extremism.

In the speech, flagged by the website Loonwatch, Hirsi Ali noted that she herself appeared in Breivik’s 1,500-word manifesto (Breivik reprinted a European right-wing article saying Hirsi Ali should win the Nobel Peace Prize). While she denounced Breivik’s views as an “abhorrant” form of “neo-fascism,” she then postulated that Breivik was driven to violence because his militant anti-multicultural views were not given a fair airing in the public discourse.

After speaking about how the “advocates of silence” repress discussion about radical Islamism, Hirsi Ali said:

Fourthly and finally, that one man who killed 77 people in Norway, because he fears that Europe will be overrun by Islam, may have cited the work of those who speak and write against political Islam in Europe and America – myself among them – but he does not say in his 1500 page manifesto that it was these people who inspired him to kill. He says very clearly that it was the advocates of silence. Because all outlets to express his views were censored, he says, he had no other choice but to use violence.

Watch a clip of the speech:

Hirsi Ali’s exclamation that the “advocates of silence” stifle discourse so effectively that Breivik was driven last July to kill 77 people — 69 slaughtered at a summer youth camp — is contradicted even by her own speech. In closing, Hirsi Ali said, “The good news is that recently the leaders of established conservative parties in Europe have broken the pact of silence,” citing comments against multiculturalism by the leaders of Germany, France and the United Kingdom. Furthermore, Hirsi Ali has herself been a Dutch parliamentarian, a frequent contributor to mainstream U.S. and international publications, and author of a New York Times best-selling autobiography. Dutch anti-Muslim politician Geert Wilders enjoys considerable success in Hirsi Ali’s own Netherlands. Views against multiculturalism don’t get censored, though some of the most bigoted ideologies are often driven to the margins in free societies.

Neither AEI nor Ayaan Hirsi Ali replied to requests for comments about her talk. But a public affairs official at AEI wrote to ThinkProgress, “AEI does not take institutional positions on policy issues. When our scholars speak, they speak for themselves.”

In her speech, Hirsi Ali said that “to speak out against radical Islamism is to be condemned as an Islamophobe.” But as detailed in the Center For American Progress’s report on Islamophobia, “Fear, Inc.,” the Islamophobe label applies not to those who rail against “radical Islam,” but rather against Islam as a whole. Not surprisingly, Hirsi Ali is herself in this latter category — yet another indication that Islamophobic views are not censored. In a 2007 interview with Reason Magazine, Hirsi Ali called for Islam to be “defeated.” The interviewer asked: “Don’t you mean defeatingradical Islam?” Hirsi Ali replied bluntly: “No. Islam, period. Once it’s defeated, it can mutate into something peaceful. It’s very difficult to even talk about peace now. They’re not interested in peace.”

Police Remove Muslim Women From Pam Geller’s ‘Human Rights Conference’

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2012 by loonwatch

Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer only preach to their minions, and anyone else is not accepted.

Police Remove Muslim Women From Pam Geller’s ‘Human Rights Conference’

By Eli Clifton on Apr 30, 2012 at 9:30 am, ThinkProgress

Yesterday in Dearborn, Michigan, noted anti-Muslim activists Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer hosted a conference promising to advocate for “human rights” in one of the largest Muslim communities in the United States. Geller, writing on her blog on Sunday, warned, “We will meet fierce resistance by Islamic supremacists who will do anything, say anything to impose the sharia and whitewash the oppression, subjugation and slaughter of women under Islamic law.”

But surprisingly, Muslim women found themselves denied entry to the conference and, after patiently waiting in the corridor after being told to wait, were removed from the Hyatt Hotel by the Dearborn Police Department and Hyatt security.

Several of the young women commented that they shared a similar appearance with Jessica Mokdad, the young women who Geller and Spencer claim was murdered in an “honor killing” (a conclusion not shared by Mokdad’s family or Michigan prosecutors).

ThinkProgress attempted to attend the event and was turned away, and eventually removed from the Hyatt by the police, along with the young women. One of the women commented, “I tried emailing [Pamela Geller to register] and I literally couldn’t get any kind of response back.” That comment seems to contradict Geller’s claim that she wants to help Muslim women and that the conference was in defense of the human rights of Muslim women.

Another woman who tried to attend the conference told ThinkProgress:

Coming in, I was asking where the human rights conference is. [Hyatt Security and Dearborn Police] were like, ‘what are you talking about?’ I’m like, ‘the human rights conference on the second floor.’ They were like, ‘the anti-Islam conference?’ That’s what they’re calling it now.

And another woman expressed surprise that Geller, who has asked to hear from more Muslim voices on human rights issues, was denying Muslims access to her event. “I watched an interview with her […] and she said, ‘Where are the Muslims?’ Well, we’re here!” Watch it (police arrive to escort the women off the Hyatt premises at 3:58):


Pamela Geller emailed ThinkProgress, “They didn’t register. We’ve been announcing for weeks that only registered attendees would be admitted.”

Geller and Spencer play prominent roles in the Islamophobia “echo chamber,” as detailed in the Center for American Progress’s report “Fear, Inc.: The Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America.”

At Florida Town Hall, Rick Santorum Cowardly Panders To Woman Who Alleges Obama Is ‘An Avowed Muslim’

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , on January 24, 2012 by loonwatch

At Florida Town Hall, Rick Santorum Cowardly Panders To Woman Who Alleges Obama Is ‘An Avowed Muslim’

By Faiz Shakir

At a Rick Santorum town hall meeting in Lady Lake, Florida moments ago, a woman stood up to declare that she doesn’t like to refer to “President Obama as president because, legally, he is not.” While the audience gasped and clapped at the comment, Santorum restrained himself, refusing to utter a critical word.

The lady continued, Obama “totally ignores” the Constitution, prompting a nod of approval from Santorum. Then she went even further with her conspiracy rant:

He is an avowed Muslim. [applause] And my question is: why isn’t something being done to get him out of our government? He has no legal right to be calling himself President.

In an exemplary show of cowardice, Santorum did not tell the woman that she had her facts wrong or even bother to distance himself from the previous comments. Instead, he did the opposite, giving sanction to her views. “I’m doing my best to get him out” of office, Santorum said, “and you’re right about — he uniformly ignores the Constitution.”

The tail continued to wag the dog as the lady pressed Santorum for tougher language about Obama’s unconstitutionality. Santorum meekly responded, “I agree with you in the sense that he is – he does things that are against the values and the founding principles of our country.” Watch it:

First, of course, Obama is not an “avowed Muslim.” He is a Christian.

And he certainly has every right to be calling himself President as he was soundly elected by the people and has sworn an oath (twice) to uphold his duty to serve and protect the United States.

For Santorum, who frequently touts the need for strong “leadership” in this country, today’s profile in weakness shows he’s unable to stand up to his own right-wing fringe.

Zaid Jilani, a Victim of False Anti-Semitism Charges

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on January 22, 2012 by loonwatch
Zaid Jilani

(cross-posted from The American Muslim)

by Sheila Musaji

In August, the Center for American Progress, CAP released a significant report “Fear Inc., the Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America”

Within days of the release of this report, Ed Lasky at the American Thinker wrote an article The Soros-supported Center for American Progress blames rich Jews for stoking Islamophobia which seems to be the first to have made the false claim (lie) that the CAP report was anti-Semitic, or that individuals at CAP are anti-Semitic.

Lasky said that since many of the funders or anti-Muslim activists named happen to be Jewish:

By “outing” the people involved, the report puts endangers them.  Furthermore, this “report” relies on the conspiracy and age-old anti-Semitic trope that Jews fan prejudice towards others and promotes divisions for their own nefarious purposes (to support Israel in this case). This mindset is straight out of Mein Kampf.  The report also stokes the view that rich Jews operate behind the scenes and use their wealth to control the media and government policy (politicians are also mentioned as being ensnared in this web).  …  Clearly, this is a well-funded effort to chill legitimate criticism of Islamic extremism in America. There are also political motivations behind this report since it also tries to refute allegations of ties between Muslims and Barack Obama.  But what is most shameful about this “report” is that it employs classic anti-Semitic tropes,  blaming conspiratorial Jews for stoking fear and hatred of Muslims. 

This will work its magic in the Muslim world, a substantial fraction of which believes that “defaming” Islam is legitimately punishable by death at the hands of any righteous Muslim.  By thoughtfully providing a hit list, the CAP does its part to spread fear and—yes—terror among the opponents of radical Islam.

Actually, Lasky is the one who “outs” or mentions the religion of those named in the report, the report itself does not identify these folks by their religion.  I was surprised that Lasky said that Steven Emerson is Jewish, as I had never heard that before.

This attempt to cast the authors of this report as anti-Semitic and as blaming Jews for Islamophobia is reprehensible, and already being repeated on the anti-Muslim blogsphere.  Pamela Geller called the report “Goebbels attacking the Jew”.  A Pipeline News article calls the report shades of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. and a functioning part of a greater – subversive – Islamist narrative.  Daniel Greenfield aka Sultan Knish, in an article on David Horowitz’s FrontPageMag wrote “Any report on Islamophobia that scapegoats Jews is not a report on bigotry, it is an act of bigotry.” 

Eric Boling on Fox News reinforced this false anti-Semitic meme by outright lying on air in a segment devoted to attacking the CAP report.

Bolling invited a three-member panel to comment, who all agreed that there isn’t an Islamophobia network in America. Bolling set up the discussion by making this outlandishly false statement:

I need to point this out – I’m reading directly from this report: “The Obama-allied Center for American Progress has released a report that blames Islamophobia in America on a small group of Jews and Israel supporters in America, whose views are being backed by millions of dollars.”

Boling has now issued a clarification, but not really an apology.  Boling’s clarification said

I want to correct something from a segment we did the other night on Follow the Money regarding Islam in America. The topic was a report from the Center for American Progress. At one point, I read a brief passage which said the group blamed Islamophobia on “a small group of Jews and Israel supporters in America”.    You need to know that I was reading aloud from an American Thinker magazine article critical of the group’s report and not from the report itself. Sorry for the confusion.

The American Thinker article he was referring to was the one by Ed Lasky.  As Faiz Shakir (one of the CAP reports authors) noted about this whole incident If there is one key takeaway from this incident, it’s that observers have witnessed how the Islamophobia network generally operates: 1) Produce a blog post with false anti-Muslim information, 2) promote that blog post through Fox News, 3) have so-called “experts” tout the information as if it’s credible, and then 4) stand by your mischaracterizations even when they are shown to be lies. In this case, we successfully fought back against this misinformation network. That’s what it’s going to take to end Islamophobia.

An editorial in the Jewish Forward also notes that a number of those named in the report happen to be Jewish, although to their credit, they discuss this in an entirely different context, one of disappointment:

There is, unfortunately, one disturbing way that a small number of Jews are contributing to the unfair characterizations and discrimination of Muslims. A new study by the Center for American Progress reveals that seven foundations have spent more than $40 million in the last ten years to spread misinformation about Muslim Americans. And who leads those efforts? Far too many Jews, including blogger Pamela Geller, co-director of the group Stop Islamization of America; David Yerushalmi, whose attempts to promote anti-Sharia laws were detailed recently in the Forward; Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum, which gave a platform for Yerushalmi’s dangerous ideas; Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, who has even criticized President George W. Bush and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for being soft on Muslims.

Philip Weiss notes that Lasky did not mention the fact that George Soros whose think tank he claims is fostering anti-semitism, is himself Jewish.

In December, Ben Smith at Politico published an article which included the following paragraph regarding an article by Eric Alterman at CAP

“There’s two explanations here – either the inmates are running the asylum or the Center for American Progress has made a decision to be anti-Israel,” said Josh Block, a former spokesman for AIPAC who is now a fellow at the center-left Progressive Policy Institute. “Either they can allow people to say borderline anti-Semitic stuff” – a reference to what he described as conspiracy theorizing in the Alterman column – “and to say things that are antithetical to the fundamental values of the Democratic party, or they can fire them and stop it.” (Alterman called the charge “ludicrous” and “character assassination,” noted that he is a columnist for Jewish publications, and described himself as a “proud, pro-Zionist Jew.”)

Justin Elliott published an article documenting that Josh Block had sent out an email to a private listserv called the Freedom Community, in which he throws around accusations of anti-Semitism against liberal bloggers and calls on other list members to “echo” and “amplify” his assault and “use the below [research] to attack the bad guys.”

Elliot also notes in this article that Block was quoted in Ben Smith’s Polito article of accusing CAP columnist Eric Alterman of writing “borderline anti-Semitic stuff,” a charge Alterman (who is himself Jewish) dismissed as “ludicrous.”

In a follow-up article, Elliot notes that two think tanks that Block is associated with, the Progressive Policy Institute and the Truman National Security Project — were apparently rattled by the incident:

PPI head Will Marshall privately told Block that the think tank would sever ties with Block if he didn’t retract the charges detailed in Salon, according to a source familiar with the discussions. Block subsequently offered Politico a statement on the charges, claiming he had never accused people at CAP in particular of anti-Semitism, but not walking back or apologizing for the gist of what was reported in the Salon piece. It’s still unclear how PPI — which declined to comment — will proceed at this point.

Meanwhile, at Truman, top officials privately debated via email whether to cut ties with Block after the Salon story broke, a source says. They had already been unhappy with Block’s attacks on critics of Israel, and the Salon piece exacerbated tensions, I’m told.

Eric Alterman noted that after these events:

The decision in late December by Rachel Kleinfeld, founder of the Truman National Security Project, a defense-oriented Democratic think tank, to sever publicly all ties with former fellow and ex-AIPAC spokesman, Josh Block, brought to an end what was an ugly episode in Washington’s Israel-focused policy community. Block had orchestrated a sloppy smear campaign against a group of progressive writers and bloggers with the aim of painting their dovish views on Israel as beyond the pale of acceptable discourse. His specific target was two left-leaning think tanks, Media Matters and the Center for American Progress, where I have been a senior fellow since 2003.

…  In Kleinfeld’s email cutting off ties with Block, she wrote, “This has nothing to do with your policy views, and is a decision solely made on the basis of the need for this community to privilege the ability to debate difficult topics freely, without fear of mischaracterization or character attacks.”

What were the comments that were found in emails or tweets from individuals at CAP that were worthy of the charge of anti-Semitism?  The two terms that are considered beyond the pale of civilized conversation are “Israel-firsters” (or dual loyalty) and “Israeli apartheid”.  (See Philip Weiss commentary on Jews using this term here)

Jason Isaacson, the AJC’s director of government and international affairs, told the Jerusalem Post by e-mail that “think tanks are entitled to their political viewpoints – but they’re not free to slander with impunity. References to Israeli ‘apartheid’ or ‘Israel-firsters’ are so false and hateful they reveal an ugly bias no serious policy center can countenance.”

The ADL, told the Jerusalem Post’s Benjamin Weinthal it considered two specific comments from CAP bloggers to be anti-Semitic, including the “Israel Firster” remarks and claims the Israel lobby had pushed the U.S. into the Iraq war.

Ali Gharib issued a clarification and apology for his Kirk comment on Twitter:  One my tweets several months ago, a crude characterization of a senator is being seized upon by critics branding me as an anti-Semite. While the accusations are completely false and contemptible, I do apologize for the crudeness of the flippant tweet in question.

Alana Goodman reported that she had “asked the Truman Project today whether it believed the ADL and AJC were also wrong for calling the comments from CAP bloggers anti-Semitic. The center’s spokesperson, Dave Solimini, declined to answer the question directly:

I think our position has been very clear on this. Josh was removed from our community because he was unable to differentiate between an honest debate and damaging personal attacks. There is real anti-Semitism in the world and we cannot debase the term by using it for everyone who disagrees with us on Israel policy. We are a community of trust, and his actions have caused too many to fear discussion within our community.

Okay – so in other words, the Truman Project doesn’t believe that the comments from CAP bloggers about dual-loyalty and “Israel-Firsters” rise to the level of “real” anti-Semitism?

Philip Weiss notes that Even Saturday Night Live is talking about Israel firsters.

It is now January of 2012, and this continuing saga continues to get more and more convoluted.

Eric Alterman’s article on the supposed end of this controversy included this statement But just as McCarthy’s tactics wore themselves out over time, so, too, does Jewish McCarthyism appear, by virtue of this incident, to be on its last legs. Everyone so accused by Block still has a job and the confidence of his or her respective employer. Block, on the other hand, has seen one think tank gig end and seen himself denounced by his own business partner. A third employer, the Progressive Policy Institute, has distanced itself from his comments but has not so far seen fit to let him go. Score one, therefore, if not for the “pro-Israel” side, then at least for the right to keep arguing about what it really means.

If only that were true. Glenn Greenwald reports that the “anti-Semitism” smear campaign against CAP and Media Matters rolls on.  In this detailed and lengthy article, Greenwald gives a lot of background and provides many links documenting the history of these false anti-Semitism charges.  Greenwald also notes

Is this not the most blatant evidence yet that these organizations and their adherents are manipulating and exploiting charges of anti-Semitism in order to stifle and punish perfectly legitimate political and policy debates about Israel? They are effectively admitting that “anti-Semitism” does not mean irrational hatred or animosity toward Jews — its actual definition — but rather now means: challenging or even questioning the policy assumptions and preferences of certain Jewish groups and the Israeli government. They are literally decreeing that you are barred from challenging the dubious premises of those who crave war with Iran, are further barred from questioning their fear-mongering about the Iranian nuclear program, are also barred from assigning blame to the settlement-expanding Israelis for the lack of a peace agreement, and are even barred from condemning the increasingly unsustainable and anti-democratic treatment of the Palestinians — all upon pain of being formally condemned as anti-Semitic.

…  What’s really going on here is as obvious as it is odious. The primary factor in AIPAC’s astonishing success has been ensuring that its mandated policies are fully bipartisan, that there are zero differences on Israel between the two parties, so that election outcomes change nothing. They are most petrified that some actual dissent may seep into the mainstream of the two parties; that’s why Bill Kristol has demanded that Ron Paul be expelled from the GOP, and it’s why these CAP and MM writers are being attacked so savagely. Especially with a possible war with Iran on the horizon, the last thing they want — especially in the mainstream of either party — is a permissive environment where one can freely debate the accuracy of their fear-mongering premises about Iran and challenge the wisdom of that aggression.

They are particularly panicked by their eroding power to monopolize the discourse. When Time Magazine’s Joe Klein is warning of “Israel-Firsters” and pointing out the role they played in bringing about the Iraq War and now trying to repeat that feat with Iran, and when The New York Times‘ Tom Friedman is warning that U.S. policy is “held hostage” by the Israel Lobby and the U.S. Congress is “bought and paid for by the Israel Lobby,” it’s clear that things have changed. Being able to display a new scalp on their wall will enable them to exhibit that they can still dictate debate limits and punish heretics. The problem, though, is that Joe Klein and Tom Friedman are too protected (to say nothing of being too Jewish and too devoted to Israel) to bring down with anti-Semitism smears (though they certainly have tried).

So what they do instead is target young, relatively obscure writers — especially ones with names like “Zaid Jilani” and “Ali Gahrib” — in order to make an example of them. This is a truly disgusting spectacle: these commentators — all of whom are writing well within the range of mainstream opinion on Israel — are being publicly smeared early in their careers as anti-Semites as part of a coordinated, ongoing campaign planned by Josh Block and carried out by numerous journalists with large media platforms, and aided and abetted by Jewish groups trading on their credibility to suppress debate.

These accusers know that their institutional employer (CAP) — dependent both upon White House access and funding by Jewish donors — can ill-afford to be smeared as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic regardless of whether those allegations are valid or not. And that’s exactly why they’re doing it: because they sense that these young CAP writers in particular (who, revealingly, have not been heard from in their own defense since the accusations against them were first voiced) are vulnerable to character assassination and career destruction. Unsurprisingly, CAP has alternated between distancing itself from and even repudiating their writings to desperately assuring everyone that they are fully on board with standard “pro-Israel” orthodoxies.

So this smear campaign not only threatens to suppress legitimate debate about crucial policy matters in the U.S., but it also is aimed at the reputations and careers of numerous young liberal writers who have done absolutely nothing wrong. As Wildman put it about those who “debase the term by using it as a rhetorical conceit against those with whom we disagree on policy matters”: “When anti-Semitism is falsely applied, we must also stand up and decry it as defamation, as character assault, as unjust. . . .There comes a time when we must insist on common sense. We must reject the absurd. There comes a time when we must say, ‘Enough’.” We are way past that point now: both with the general smearing of Israel critics as anti-Semites and the specific, baseless attacks on these writers.

Early in January, the Jerusalem Post published an article E-mail reveals anti-Semitism at US think tank.  Here is their “proof” of the charge made in the title In the e-mail that the Post obtained exclusively from the CAP account of Faiz Shakir, who serves as editor-in-chief of the ThinkProgress.org website and is a vice president at CAP, he wrote, “Yes, I agree ‘Israel Firster’ is terrible, anti-Semitic language. And that’s why that language no longer exists on Zaid’s personal twitter feed, because he also knows and understands the implications.”    Zaid Jilani wrote on his Twitter account, where he identifies himself as a “Reporter-Blogger for ThinkProgress,” that “…Obama is still beloved by Israel-firsters and getting lots of their $$.” 

Obviously, the Jerusalem Post is thrilled that the anti-Semitism charges seem to be accepted even by those targeted.  Also, obviously, all of the propaganda is having an effect on CAP.

This week, the Jerusalem Post reported that

According to a Washington Post online article on Thursday, Jarrod Bernstein, the new White House liaison with the Jewish community, told Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, that what was unfolding at CAP was “troubling,” and, “that [the attitude toward Israel at the think tank] is not this administration.

…  Zaid Jilani had blogged for the Center for American Progress’s ThinkProgress website; he used Twitter to call US supporters of the Jewish state “Israel Firsters” and compared Israel to the former apartheid regime in South Africa.  A CAP employee who said her name was Amanda told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that Jilani was no longer employed by ThinkProgress.  Jilani’s biography and photo no longer appear on the ThinkProgress website “About” section. His Twitter feed no longer identifies him as a reporter for ThinkProgress. His last CAP blog posting was on January 12.

It is very difficult watching all of this unfold not to lose hope that free speech still exists.  It seems that simply charging an individual with anti-Semitism, whether or not there is any truth to that charge, particularly if that individual is a Muslim is enough to destroy their career.

At the beginning of this article I quoted Faiz Shakir’s statement If there is one key takeaway from this incident, it’s that observers have witnessed how the Islamophobia network generally operates: 1) Produce a blog post with false anti-Muslim information, 2) promote that blog post through Fox News, 3) have so-called “experts” tout the information as if it’s credible, and then 4) stand by your mischaracterizations even when they are shown to be lies. In this case, we successfully fought back against this misinformation network. That’s what it’s going to take to end Islamophobia.

Faiz Shakir’s most recent statement seems to contradict those noble principles, and CAP’s throwing of Zaid Jilani to the wolves doesn’t speak well for their courage or integrity.  It is possible that there is some other explanation for Zaid Jilani’s departure from CAP, but it doesn’t look good.

It’s a shame that CAP didn’t have the courage of their convictions to fight back against the misinformation network.  As, in the end, they will have been seen to have been on the right side of history to begin with.  Americans for Peace Now who identifies themselves as “a Jewish, Zionist organization that is dedicated to achieving peace and security for Israel” said in a statement

We are deeply concerned about the ongoing attacks against staff of the Center for America Progress (CAP). We believe that these attacks do not reflect genuine concerns about anti-Semitism, or even the use of language that some people may find offensive. Rather, they appear to be part of an effort to stifle discussion on America’s Middle East policy, while using Israel as a partisan wedge issue, both inside the Democratic Party and between Democrats and Republicans.

As a non-partisan organization, we have no interest in CAP’s political identity or its relationship to the Obama Administration. However, as a Jewish, Zionist organization that is dedicated to achieving peace and security for Israel, we believe that a vibrant public debate over issues related to peace and security for Israel and the Middle East – the kind of debate that takes place every day in the Israeli press – is vital for both Israel and the United States. We believe that the current charges of anti-Semitism are intended, cynically, to have a “chilling effect” on such debate. Such attacks cannot be allowed to succeed.

We recognize that the tone adopted by many commentators – on both sides of these very contentions issues – has grown uglier in recent years. This is especially true in blog posts and tweets. All of us operating in this sensitive policy sphere would do well to de-escalate the tone. Intemperate rhetoric only distracts from the important policy issues that, for the sake of both Israel and the U.S., deserve serious debate. Name-calling has no place in policy discussions and, as has been seen in the current context, can pave the way for both unintended offense and for manufactured controversy.

CAP and its staff have a long record of pro-Israel, pro-peace work. This includes hosting numerous Israeli security and policy experts, in addition to providing timely, thoughtful analysis and commentary on the issues. It includes a long record of support for peace, Israeli security, and the two-state solution. Such positions are consistent with the policies of successive U.S. presidents from both parties and with the aspirations of most Israelis and their leaders.

This sounds remarkably similar to Zaik Shakir’s original statement, and it is just a shame that it seems that in Shakir’s case, it may have been only talk.  It will be interesting to follow further developments and statements.

What is most ironic about all of this is that just yesterday, I wrote an article about Andrew Adler, owner and publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times who had published an article calling on the Israeli Mossad to assassinate President Obama.

I thought about the term “Israel-firster” when I was writing that article, as it seemed to me that he is a perfect example of the fact that there really are individuals for whom this is a factual statement of their ideology.  Interestingly, I am not the only one who had that thought.  Chemi shalev wrote onHaaretz:

It is ironic that Adler’s despicable diatribe comes against the backdrop of a fierce blogosphere debate that flared up yesterday about the term “Israel-firsters” and whether it is a legitimate critique or an anti-Semitic slur. Adler, for his part, has provided an example of a sub-specie of “Israel-firsters” that have not only lost track of where their loyalties lie, they have gone off the tracks altogether. He has pleased anti-Zionists and delighted anti-Semites by giving them the kind of “proof” they relish for accusing American supporters of Israel not of “double loyalty” but of one-sided treachery, plain and simple.

… There is something eerily familiar in all this, of course, for anyone who was present 16 years ago at Tel Aviv’s Kikar Malchei Yisrael, as it was then known, on the night that Yitzhak Rabin was murdered. One can already envisage how Adler will be disowned, described as a “wild weed,” depicted as a lone wolf who does not represent anyone in his or in anyone else’s community and used as a springboard for a righteously indignant, preemptive counteroffensive that will show how his solitary case is being exploited to score points against anyone who legitimately criticizes Obama.

Islamophobe Frank Gaffney Endorses Newt Gingrich’s Anti-Muslim Comments

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , on January 20, 2012 by loonwatch

Islamophobe Frank Gaffney Endorses Newt Gingrich’s Anti-Muslim Comments

By Eli Clifton

Newt Gingrich’s statement that he would only support Muslim presidential candidates if they “would commit in public to give up Sharia” was met by harsh comments from both Muslim American organizations and academic experts on Islamic law. “Newt Gingrich’s vision of America segregates our citizens by faith. His outdated political ideas look backward to a time when Catholics and Jews were vilified and their faiths called a threat,” said Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR) Legislative Director Corey Sayolor.

But Gingrich’s anti-Muslim crusade found an ally with noted Islamophobe Frank Gaffney. Gaffney, the president of the Center for Security Policy, leaped on Gingrich’s anti-Shariah comments yesterday in a column for National Review Online and on his radio show, Secure Freedom Radio. His column reads:

Newt is absolutely right in making such a distinction [between a “moderate person who worships Allah” or “a person who belonged to any kind of belief in sharia, any kind of effort to impose that on the rest of us]. The danger we currently face from the so-called Muslim world arises not from the fact that people are Muslim, but from the extent to which they adhere to the totalitarian, supremacist Islamic doctrine of sharia.

Speaking on his radio show yesterday, Gaffney took a similar line:

With his successive warnings about sharia…Newt Gingrich has, in my judgement, rendered a real public service. We must know who are enemies are and we must defeat, not accommodate, those who in the name of Sharia are obliged to wage Jihad against us. And we must keep America Sharia free.

But Gaffney’s concerns about religious and personal freedoms rarely extend to Muslim Americans. Last year, he said:

A mosque that is used to promote a seditious program, which is what Sharia is…that is not a protected religious practice, that is in fact sedition.

Newt Gingrich makes no secret of his hostility toward Muslims but Frank Gaffney’s defacto endorsement — he also picked up an endorsement from anti-Muslim activist and Gaffney ally Pamela Geller — might not be helpful as Gingrich attempts to appeal to moderate voters and chip away at Mitt Romney’s momentum in the primaries. Gaffney is a noted member of the Islamophobic far-right and his organization, the Center for Security Policy, was highlighted as a major nexus for the anti-Sharia initiatives sweeping the country in the Center for American Progress’s report, Fear, Inc.

The Dangers Of Gingrich’s War Against Islam

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2011 by loonwatch

Gingrich reasserts his commitment to the Sharia Hysteria and now suggests “a federal law that says ‘no court, anywhere in the United States, under any circumstances, is allowed to consider Sharia as a replacement for American law.”

The Dangers Of Gingrich’s War Against Islam

By Eli Clifton

Washington Post columnist and former George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson examines Newt Gingrich’s history of anti-Muslim fear-bating and concludes that “those views demonstrate a disturbing tendency: the passionate embrace of shallow ideas.” But Gerson fails to acknowledge that Gingrich’s “shallow ideas” are more than just rhetoric. Gingrich has a plan to put them into action.

Speaking at the American Enterprise Institute last year, Gingrich told the audience:

It’s time we had a national debate on this. And one of the things I’m going to suggest today is a federal law that says ‘no court, anywhere in the United States, under any circumstances, is allowed to consider Sharia as a replacement for American law.’ Period.

Watch it:

And Gingrich’s 2010 documentary, “America At Risk: The War With No Name,” portrays a disturbing vision of the world in which the U.S. and its western allies are at war with Islam. “This war will go on until either the entire world either embraces Islam or submits to Islamic rule,” says historian Bernard Lewis, while appearing in the film.

Further exemplifying his anti-Muslim sentiments, In an interview last week, Gingrich explained that the Palestinians are an “invented people,” a statement effectively denying the right of Palestinians to a state. Such a position would end U.S. support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and rejects the policy positions of the Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama administrations.

Gerson’s effort to flag Gingrich’s anti-Sharia rhetoric as “simplistic” is a welcome pushback against the growing Islamophobia in the far-right. (We addressed this problem in our recent report “Fear Inc.: The Roots Of the Islamophobia Network In America.”) But Gerson fails to acknowledge the potential domestic and foreign policy implications of Gingrich’s anti-Muslim statements.

On Veterans Day, State Rep. Rick Womick (R-TN) Calls for Purging Muslims from the Military

Posted in Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2011 by loonwatch

State Rep. Rick Womick (R-TN) speaks to ThinkProgress at an anti-Muslim conference in Tennessee

On Veterans Day, State Rep. Rick Womick (R-TN) Calls For Purging Muslims From The Military

By Eli Clifton and Lee Fang

ThinkProgress filed this report from the “Preserving Freedom Conference” in Nashville, TN.

State representative Rick Womick (R-TN) has made no secret of his anti-Muslim views. A New York Times article from July described Womick on the statehouse floor, warning his constuents that Islamic law was the most urgent threat to their way of life. But in an interview on the sidelines of the “Preserving Freedom Conference” at the Cornerstone Church in Madison, TN, Womick went to new extremes to paint Muslim Americans as dangerous and seditious.

In the interview, which took place on Veterans Day, Womick told ThinkProgress that “I don’t trust one Muslim in our military” and “if they truly are a devout Muslims, and follow the Quran and the Sunnah, then I feel threatened because they’re commanded to kill me.” When asked if Muslims should be forced out of the military, Womick responded “Absolutely, yeah.” Read the exchange:

FANG: What about the thousands of Muslims that are still in the military that are veterans, that are translators, that are active personnel. Is there some sort of policy solution that you’re advocating? […]

WOMICK: Personally, I don’t trust one Muslim in our military because they’re commanded to lie to us through the term called Taqiyya. And if they truly are a devout Muslim, and follow the Quran and the Sunnah, then I feel threatened because they’re commanded to kill me.

CLIFTON: You believe they should be forced out?

WOMICK: Absolutely, yeah.

Watch it: