SPLC: Geller, Jones Up anti-Muslim Hate

Pamela “the looniest blogger ever” Geller is on the front page of the SPLC hate report. The SPLC should feature Spencer’s hate diatribe and association now as well.

Geller, Jones Amp Up Anti-Muslim Hate Rhetoric

The annual observances in New York City of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks on the World Trade Center are normally somber and subdued. But with anti-Muslim acrimony in America escalating, apparently stoked by anger over a proposed Islamic cultural center two blocks from Ground Zero, this year’s commemorations were sometimes downright ugly.

Public figures such as Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin helped fuel that discord with harsh denunciations of the proposed Muslim center. But no one did more to fan the flames of fear and hatred over the “Ground Zero mosque” than Pamela Geller, co-founder of Stop Islamization of America (SIOA).

Earlier this year, Geller — who also has questioned whether President Obama was born in America — bought anti-Muslim ads that were displayed on New York City buses for a month. She warned that Muslims will “turn to further intimidation, murder and terrorism” if they can’t achieve a political takeover. Her comments were so incendiary, in fact, that several neo-Nazi organizations even ignored the fact that she is Jewish and published her diatribes. She in turn commented favorably on the South African, apartheid-defending terrorist Eugene Terre’Blanche after he was murdered, blaming his death on “black supremacism.”

Pamela Geller
Pamela Geller

On Sept. 11, Geller led a rally near the proposed Muslim community center, where protesters carried signs (“No mosque on sacred ground”) and heard speeches by her and Geert Wilders. Wilders is a hard-line Dutch lawmaker who has compared the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf and made frequent speeches in the United States warning that Islam is an ideology, not a religion, intent on world domination.

At the same time Geller’s demonstration was being staged, a rival rally was held just blocks away. Those demonstrators called for tolerance and carried their own signs — “The attack on Islam is racism” was one.

Citing police estimates, The Wall Street Journal said there were about 1,500 people at Geller’s anti-mosque rally and 2,000 at the counter-demonstration. The New York Post said the pro-mosque crowd outnumbered the anti-mosque protesters, 3,000 to 2,500. Both these estimates infuriated Geller, who accused the “liberal establishment mass media” of a “massive distortion” meant to minimize her cause.

Terry Jones
For several days this September, Gainesville, Fla., pastor Terry Jones and his plans to burn Korans were world news. Then the Muslim- and gay-bashing chief of the Dove World Outreach Center sank back into obscurity.

Meanwhile, an obscure pastor from Gainesville, Fla., drew vastly more publicity than the far better known Geller by announcing a plan to mark the 9/11 commemoration with “International Burn a Koran Day.” News of Terry Jones’ plans tore across the Muslim world, igniting fury in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates phoned Jones in an effort to persuade him not to burn copies of the Islamic religious text. Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, warned that Jones could endanger the troops. President Obama said if Jones followed through on his plan, it would be “a recruitment bonanza for al Qaeda.” The right-wing pastor, who has also bitterly attacked “homos,” received death threats and a visit from FBI agents. The international police agency Interpol issued a warning to governments worldwide of an increased risk of terror attacks if Jones proceeded with his plan. The U.S. State Department also warned Americans living and traveling abroad of the potential for violent protests.

In the end, Jones canceled his Koran burning event, saying he had an agreement that would move the Manhattan Islamic center to another site. That wasn’t so. Gainesville law enforcement agencies later said they would bill Jones for the costs associated with his planned Koran burning. They are expected to exceed $200,000. That would bankrupt his 50-member Dove World Outreach Center, Jones said, a prospect that clearly delighted many residents of Gainesville.

Two missing Coptic women Abused by Priest Husbands, What if they were Muslim?

Robert Spencer was all on this issue before, painting it in a simplified form directly taking the side of ultra right-wing Coptic apologists who hate Islam with a passion. Don’t expect any retractions from Spencer on this one.

Two missing Coptic women had been abused by priest husbands

(StlToday)

CAIRO, Egypt • The wives of two Egyptian Coptic priests, forbidden by the church from divorcing their abusive husbands, desperately sought another way out by converting to Islam. When their intentions were discovered, police handed them over to the church, and their whereabouts since have been unknown.

The cases caused a furor at home that spilled over the borders and turned deadly when al-Qaida in Iraq cited the women as the reason behind the worst attack ever on Christians in Iraq — a siege of a church in October that left 68 people dead.

It was a stark example of the schism between Christians and Muslims that runs through the Middle East and periodically erupts into violence.

“Amid the current sectarian discord, the timing is perfect for al-Qaida to show it is defending Islam and to exploit the situation to rally extremists against the churches,” said Ammar Ali Hassan, an expert in Islamic movements.

Both Wafaa Constantine, 53, and Camilla Shehata, 25, lived in remote rural towns and enjoyed prestige as devoted and pious wives of conservative Coptic priests. But behind that veneer, a lawyer and a church official said, the women were trapped in abusive relationships.

Both tried to seek a divorce through church channels but hit a dead end because the Coptic Orthodox Church forbids divorce — a rule enforced even more strictly against the wives of priests. And they decided to rebel, not only against their husbands but against the whole religion.

They sought to convert to Islam, something viewed as a disgrace in their community. The Coptic Church considers those who convert to other religions dead, making the marriage contract invalid.

Though Egyptian religious authorities say the women never succeeded in converting, the controversy in both cases escalated with protests by Egyptian Christians, who accused Muslims of abducting the women and forcing them to convert.

That riled Muslim extremists in Egypt who protested and accused the church of holding them against their will and forcing them to convert back to Christianity.

Al-Qaida in Iraq turned it into a cause celebre when it cited the women as the reason behind the Baghdad church siege. The group followed with more threats against Iraq’s Christian minority, generating such fear that most Christmas celebrations in the country were canceled.

Terrorism in Europe, What if they were Muslim?

The anarchists seem to be on a tear across Europe.

Terrorism is a serious issue in Europe, but contrary to popular misperception it isn’t the Mooslims you should be worried about:

‘Wave of terrorism’: Blasts hit Rome embassies

ROME — An Italian anarchist group claimed responsibility for parcel bombs on Thursday that wounded two people at the Swiss and Chilean embassies in Rome, a reminder of home-grown threats at a time of political instability in Europe.

A Swiss man was seriously wounded and was rushed to hospital. The employee at the Chilean embassy was less seriously hurt. A note was found stuck to his clothing, claiming responsibility for the attack on behalf of the FAI, or Informal Anarchist Federation.

“We have decided to make our voice heard with words and with facts, we will destroy the system of dominance, long live the FAI, long-live Anarchy,” said the note, written in Italian, which was released in the evening by the police.

Terrorists Not Muslim?…Then “Police Blotter Bob” Doesn’t Care

I am sure that “Police Blotter Scholar” Robert Spencer was salivating at the news: Parcel blasts occurred at two embassies in Rome. I’m sure he was quick to type up a long screed on his hate site about how Muslims are a threat, that Islam is all about “jihad” and violence, that all Muslims are radicals and if they are not, they are lying to you…etc, etc. I mean, what a perfect, mouthwatering scenario for Spencer: Muslim terrorists attack the capital of Catholic Christianity! Why, I bet his keyboard was soaked with his saliva!

But, it must have all come to a screeching halt when it was learned that the terrorists behind the attacks were “Anarchists-insurrectionists”:

An Italian anarchist group said it was behind the attacks in a note found on the clothing of the injured Chilean.

The message, written on behalf of the Informal Anarchist Federation (FAI), said: “We have decided to make our voice heard with words and with facts, we will destroy the system of dominance, long live the FAI, long-live Anarchy.”

The Italian intelligence services said in a report to parliament last year that the FAI was “the main national terrorist threat of an anarchist-insurrectionalist type”.

In fact, according to the BBC article:

Responding to Thursday’s blasts, the Mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno, said: “It’s a wave of terrorism against embassies, something much more worrisome than a single attack.”

The terrorists in this case are not Muslim, and thus it explains why Robert Spencer has no mention of the attacks on his hate site. You see, news such as this does not fit into Spencer’s narrative about Islam’s evil, its violence, its threat to the West, and so on. Thus, he simply omits the evidence that refutes his hypothesis. Why, how scholarly of him!

Arabs Not Allowed because they aren’t Jewish; What if they were Muslim?

How poignant is the above Photo? It wasn’t long ago that such signs were strewn across the USA, but those with historical amnesia seem to forget it ever existed.

Even more egregious,  Jewish extremists in Israel are now inflicting a similar decrepit form of racist and religious discrimination. What if it were Muslims saying “this is a Muslim only neighborhood, no Jews allowed?” Or if this had happened in an area of Cairo?

You can be sure that Robert Spencer and company would be chirping about it day and night.

Arab tenants forced to leave Tel Aviv home due to threats

(YNet)

Four Muslims and a Druze man were compelled to leave an apartment they had rented in southern Tel Aviv due to neighbors’ scheming against them, Ynet has learned. They claim that residents of the neighborhood threatened to torch the apartment and attack the landlord if the tenants were not evicted.

“Residents said aloud that they didn’t want to see Arabs in the neighborhood, because it’s for Jews alone,” one of the tenants said. (Hassan Shaalan)

Spencer Supports Old Persian Dictator: Reza Shah

Blubber on the cheeks with quite FASCistable 'stache before Tummy Tuck

Robert Spencer who has been ceaselessly attacking Reza Aslan for calling him out for being a bigot and an Islamophobe, (a fact which is a consensus amongst sane people) wrote an article not too long ago in which he claimed that Reza Aslan was somehow an apologist for the Iranian regime because a “genuine pro-democracy movement of free Iranians is on to NIAC.”

NIAC is an organization in which Reza Aslan is a board member it supports the growth of a Democratic Iran and the Green Movement. It is an understatement that whenever Spencer claims something is “genuine” it turns out to be a lie.

The so called “genuine movement of free Iranians” that Spencer is referencing is something called PDMI, and as we reported then it is an anti-Islam site run by a single anonymous individual who admires Reza Shah, the dictator who was overthrown by the Iranian Revolution of 1979.

If you don’t remember who Reza Shah is then this interview might give you some sort of inkling:

I am guessing this won’t go over so nice with your patrons the Chernick’s Robert.

We can now add to the crack-pot dictators, fascists and neo-Nazis that Spencer supports: Geert Wilders (Right-wing Dutch neo-Fascist), EDL (English Defense League),SIOE (Stop the Islamization of Europe), BPE (Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa), Ewald Stadler (Far right Austrian politician), BZO, Sergei Trefkovic (Serbian Nationalist, genocide denier), and Reza Shah.

Max Blumenthal: “The Great Islamophobic Crusade”

An epic piece from Max Blumenthal. He links to us and a lot of the information he presents are issues that we have been covering for quite a long time. Robert Spencer and SIOA make a cameo.

The Great Islamophobic Crusade

Nine years after 9/11, hysteria about Muslims in American life has gripped the country.

With it has gone an outburst of arson attacks on mosques, campaigns to stop their construction, and the branding of the Muslim-American community, overwhelmingly moderate, as a hotbed of potential terrorist recruits. The frenzy has raged from rural Tennessee to New York City, while in Oklahoma, voters even overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure banning the implementation of Sharia law in American courts (not that such a prospect existed). This campaign of Islamophobia wounded President Obama politically, as one out of five Americans have bought into a sustained chorus of false rumors about his secret Muslim faith. And it may have tainted views of Muslims in general; an August 2010 Pew Research Center poll revealed that, among Americans, the favorability rating of Muslims had dropped by 11 points since 2005.

Erupting so many years after the September 11th trauma, this spasm of anti-Muslim bigotry might seem oddly timed and unexpectedly spontaneous. But think again: it’s the fruit of an organized, long-term campaign by a tight confederation of right-wing activists and operatives who first focused on Islamophobia soon after the September 11th attacks, but only attained critical mass during the Obama era.  It was then that embittered conservative forces, voted out of power in 2008, sought with remarkable success to leverage cultural resentment into political and partisan gain.

This network is obsessively fixated on the supposed spread of Muslim influence in America. Its apparatus spans continents, extending from Tea Party activists here to the European far right. It brings together in common cause right-wing ultra-Zionists, Christian evangelicals, and racist British soccer hooligans. It reflects an aggressively pro-Israel sensibility, with its key figures venerating the Jewish state as a Middle Eastern Fort Apache on the front lines of the Global War on Terror and urging the U.S. and various European powers to emulate its heavy-handed methods.

Little of recent American Islamophobia (with a strong emphasis on the “phobia”) is sheer happenstance.  Years before Tea Party shock troops massed for angry protests outside the proposed site of an Islamic community center in lower Manhattan, representatives of the Israel lobby and the Jewish-American establishment launched a campaign against pro-Palestinian campus activism that would prove a seedbed for everything to come. That campaign quickly — and perhaps predictably — morphed into a series of crusades against mosques and Islamic schools which, in turn, attracted an assortment of shady but exceptionally energetic militants into the network’s ranks.

Besides providing the initial energy for the Islamophobic crusade, conservative elements from within the pro-Israel lobby bankrolled the network’s apparatus, enabling it to influence the national debate. One philanthropist in particular has provided the beneficence to propel the campaign ahead. He is a little-known Los Angeles-area software security entrepreneur named Aubrey Chernick, who operates out of a security consulting firm blandly named the National Center for Crisis and Continuity Coordination. A former trustee of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which has served as a think tank for the American Israel Policy Action Committee (AIPAC), a frontline lobbying group for Israel, Chernick is said to be worth $750 million.

Chernick’s fortune is puny compared to that of the billionaire Koch Brothers, extraction industry titans who fund Tea Party-related groups like Americans for Prosperity, and it is dwarfed by the financial empire of Haim Saban, the Israeli-American media baron who is one of the largest private donors to the Democratic party and recently matched$9 million raised for the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces in a single night. However, by injecting his money into a small but influential constellation of groups and individuals with a narrow agenda, Chernick has had a considerable impact.

Through the Fairbrook Foundation, a private entity he and his wife Joyce control, Chernick has provided funding to groups ranging from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and CAMERA, a right-wing, pro-Israel, media-watchdog outfit, to violent Israeli settlers living on Palestinian lands and figures like the pseudo-academic author Robert Spencer, who is largely responsible for popularizing conspiracy theories about the coming conquest of the West by Muslim fanatics seeking to establish a worldwide caliphate. Together, these groups spread hysteria about Muslims into Middle American communities where immigrants from the Middle East have recently settled, and they watched with glee as likely Republican presidential frontrunners from Mike Huckabee to Sarah Palin promoted their cause and parroted their tropes. Perhaps the only thing more surprising than the increasingly widespread appeal of Islamophobia is that, just a few years ago, the phenomenon was confined to a few college campuses and an inner city neighborhood, and that it seemed like a fleeting fad that would soon pass from the American political landscape.

Birth of a Network

The Islamophobic crusade was launched in earnest at the peak of George W. Bush’s prestige when the neoconservatives and their allies were riding high. In 2003, three years after the collapse of President Bill Clinton’s attempt to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian issue and in the immediate wake of the invasion of Iraq, a network of Jewish groups, ranging from ADL and the American Jewish Committee to AIPAC, gathered to address what they saw as a sudden rise in pro-Palestinian activism on college campuses nationwide. That meeting gave birth to the David Project, a campus advocacy group led by Charles Peters, who had co-founded CAMERA, one of the many outfits bankrolled by Chernick. With the help of public relations professionals, Peters conceived a plan to “take back the campus by influencing public opinion through lectures, the Internet, and coalitions,” as a memo produced at the time by the consulting firm McKinsey and Company stated.

In 2004, after conferring with Martin Kramer, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the pro-Israel think tank where Chernoff had served as a trustee, Peters produced a documentary film that he called Columbia Unbecoming.  It was filled with claims from Jewish students at Columbia University claiming they had endured intimidation and insults from Arab professors.  The film portrayed that New York City school’s Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures as a hothouse of anti-Semitism.

In their complaints, the students focused on one figure in particular: Joseph Massad, a Palestinian professor of Middle East studies.  He was known for his passionate advocacy of the formation of a binational state between Israel and Palestine, as well as for his strident criticism of what he termed “the racist character of Israel.” The film identified him as “one of the most dangerous intellectuals on campus,” while he was featured as a crucial villain inThe Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, a book by the (Chernick-funded) neoconservative activist David Horowitz.  As Massad was seeking tenure at the time, he was especially vulnerable to this sort of wholesale assault.

When the controversy over Massad’s views intensified, Congressman Anthony Weiner, a liberal New York Democrat who once described himself as a representative of “the ZOA [Zionist Organization of America] wing of the Democratic Party,” demanded that Columbia President Lee Bollinger, a renowned First Amendment scholar, fire the professor. Bollinger responded by issuing uncharacteristically defensive statements about the “limited” nature of academic freedom.

In the end, however, none of the charges stuck. Indeed, the testimonies in the David Project film were eventually either discredited or never corroborated. In 2009, Massad earned tenure after winning Columbia’s prestigious Lionel Trilling Award for excellence in scholarship.

Having demonstrated its ability to intimidate faculty members and even powerful university administrators, however, Kramer claimed a moral victory in the name of his project, boasting to the press that “this is a turning point.” While the David Project subsequently fostered chapters on campuses nationwide, its director set out on a different path — initially, into the streets of Boston in 2004 to oppose the construction of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center.

For nearly 15 years, the Islamic Society of Boston had sought to build the center in the heart of Roxbury, the city’s largest black neighborhood, to serve its sizable Muslim population. With endorsements from Mayor Thomas Menino and leading Massachusetts lawmakers, the mosque’s construction seemed like a fait accompli — until, that is, the Rupert Murdoch-owned Boston Herald and his local Fox News affiliate snapped into action.  Boston Globecolumnist Jeff Jacoby also chimed in with a series of reports claiming the center’s plans were evidence of a Saudi Arabian plot to bolster the influence of radical Islam in the United States, and possibly even to train underground terror cells.

It was at this point that the David Project entered the fray, convening elements of the local pro-Israel community in the Boston area to seek strategies to torpedo the project. According to emails obtained by the Islamic Society’s lawyers in a lawsuit against the David Project, the organizers settled on a campaign of years of nuisance lawsuits, along with accusations that the center had received foreign funding from “the Wahhabi movement in Saudi Arabia or… the Moslem Brotherhood.”

In response, a grassroots coalition of liberal Jews initiated inter-faith efforts aimed at ending a controversy that had essentially been manufactured out of thin air and was corroding relations between the Jewish and Muslim communities in the city. Peters would not, however, relent. “We are more concerned now than we have ever been about a Saudi influence of local mosques,” he announced at a suburban Boston synagogue in 2007.

After paying out millions of dollars in legal bills and enduring countless smears, the Islamic Society of Boston completed the construction of its community center in 2008. Meanwhile, not surprisingly, nothing came of the David Project’s dark warnings. As Boston-area National Public Radio reporter Philip Martin reflected in September 2010, “The horror stories that preceded [the center’s] development seem shrill and histrionic in retrospect.”

The Network Expands

This second failed campaign was, in the end, more about movement building than success, no less national security. The local crusade established an effective blueprint for generating hysteria against the establishment of Islamic centers and mosques across the country, while galvanizing a cast of characters who would form an anti-Muslim network which would gain attention and success in the years to come.

In 2007, these figures coalesced into a proto-movement that launched a new crusade, this time targeting the Khalil Gibran International Academy, a secular Arabic-English elementary school in Brooklyn, New York. Calling their ad hoc pressure group, Stop the Madrassah – madrassah being simply the Arab word for “school” — the coalition’s activists included an array of previously unknown zealots who made no attempt to disguise their extreme views when it came to Islam as a religion, as well as Muslims in America. Their stated goal was to challenge the school’s establishment on the basis of its violation of the church-state separation in the U.S. Constitution.  The true aim of the coalition, however, was transparent: to pressure the city’s leadership to adopt an antagonistic posture towards the local Muslim community.

The activists zeroed in on the school’s principal, Debbie Almontaser, a veteran educator of Yemeni descent, and baselessly branded her “a jihadist” as well as a 9/11 denier.  They also accused her of — as Pamela Geller, a far-right blogger just then gaining prominence put it, “whitewash[ing] the genocide against the Jews.”  Daniel Pipes, a neoconservative academic previously active in the campaigns against Joseph Massad and the Boston Islamic center (and whose pro-Likud think tank, Middle East Forum, has received $150,000 from Chernick) claimed the school should not go ahead because “Arabic-language instruction is inevitably laden with Pan-Arabist and Islamist baggage.” As the campaign reached a fever pitch, Almontaser reported that members of the coalition were actuallystalking her wherever she went.

Given what Columbia Journalism School professor and former New York Times reporter Samuel Freedman called“her clear, public record of interfaith activism and outreach,” including work with the New York Police Department and the Anti-Defamation League after the September 11th attacks, the assault on Almontaser seemed little short of bizarre — until her assailants discovered a photograph of her wearing a T-shirt produced by AWAAM, a local Arab feminist organization, that read “Intifada NYC.” (“As AWAAM provides young women with opportunities to become active as community organizers and media producers, ‘intifada NYC’ is a call for empowerment, service, civic participation and critical thinking in our communities,” the organization explained once the controversy erupted.)

Having found a way to wedge the emotional issue of the Israel-Palestine conflict into a previously New York-centered campaign, the school’s opponents next gained a platform at the Murdoch-owned New York Post, where reporters Chuck Bennett and Jana Winter claimed her T-shirt was “apparently a call for a Gaza-style uprising in the Big Apple.” While Almontaser attempted to explain to the Post’s reporters that she rejected terrorism, the Anti-Defamation League chimed in on cue. ADL spokesman Oren Segal told the Post: “The T-shirt is a reflection of a movement that increasingly lauds violence against Israelis instead of rejecting it. That is disturbing.”

Before any Qassam rockets could be launched from Almonstaser’s school, her former ally New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg caved to the growing pressure and demanded her resignation, prompting the state’s Department of Education to fire her. A Jewish principal who spoke no Arabic replaced Almontaser, who later filed a lawsuit against the city for breaching her free speech rights. In 2010, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that New York’s Department of Education had “succumbed to the very bias that the creation of the school was intended to dispel” by firing Almontaser and urged it pay her $300,000 in damages. The commission also concluded that thePost had quoted her misleadingly.

Though it failed to stop the establishment of the Khalil Gibran Academy, the burgeoning anti-Muslim movement succeeded in forcing city leaders to bend to its will, and having learned just how to do that, then moved on in search of more high-profile targets. As the New York Times reported at the time, “The fight against the school… was only an early skirmish in a broader, national struggle.”

“It’s a battle that has really just begun,” Pipes told the Times.

From Scam to Publicity Coup

Pipes couldn’t have been more on the mark. In late 2009, the Islamophobes sprang into action again when the Cordoba Initiative, a non-profit Muslim group headed by Feisal Abdul Rauf, an exceedingly moderate Sufi Muslim imam who regularlytraveled abroad representing the United States at the behest of the State Department, announced that it was going to build a community center in downtown New York City. With the help of investors, Rauf’s Cordoba Initiative purchased space two blocks from Ground Zero in Manhattan.  The space was to contain a prayer area as part of a large community center that would be open to everyone in the neighborhood.

None of these facts mattered to Pamela Geller. Thanks to constant prodding at her blog, Atlas Shrugged, Geller made Cordoba’s construction plans a national issue, provoking fervent calls from conservatives to protect the “hallowed ground” of 9/11 from creeping Sharia. (That the “mosque” would have been out of sight of Ground Zero and that the neighborhood was, in fact, filled with everything from strip clubs to fast-food joints didn’t matter.)  Geller’s activism against Cordoba House earned the 52-year-old full-time blogger the attention she apparently craved, including along profile in the New York Times and frequent cable news spots, especially, of course, on Fox News.

Mainstream reporters tended to focus on Geller’s bizarre stunts.  She posted a video of herself splashing around in a string bikini on a Fort Lauderdale beach, for instance, while ranting about “left-tards” and “Nazi Hezbollah.”  Hercall for boycotting Campbell’s Soup because the company offered halal — approved under Islamic law (as kosher food is under Jewish law) — versions of its products got her much attention, as did her promotion of a screed claiming that President Barack Obama was the illegitimate lovechild of Malcolm X.

Geller had never earned a living as a journalist.  She supported herself with millions of dollars in a divorce settlement and life insurance money from her ex-husband.  He died in 2008, a year after being indicted for an alleged $1.3 million scam he was accused of running out of a car dealership he co-owned with Geller. Independently wealthy and with time on her hands, Geller proved able indeed when it came to exploiting her strange media stardom to incite the already organized political network of Islamophobes to intensify their crusade.

She also benefited from close alliances with leading Islamophobes from Europe. Among Geller’s allies was Andrew Gravers, a Danish activist who formed the group Stop the Islamicization of Europe, and gave it the unusually blunt motto: “Racism is the lowest form of human stupidity, but Islamophobia is the height of common sense.” Gravers’ group inspired Geller’s own U.S.-based outfit, Stop the Islamicization of America, which she formed with her friend Robert Spencer, a pseudo-scholar from Great Britain whose bestselling books, including The Truth About Muhammad, Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion, prompted former advisor to President Richard Nixon and Muslim activist Robert Crane to call him, “the principal leader… in the new academic field of Muslim bashing.” (According to the website Politico, almost $1 million in donations from Chernick has been steered to Spencer’s Jihad Watch group through David Horowitz’s Freedom Center.)

Perfect sources for Republican political figures in search of the next hot-button cause, their rhetoric found its way into the talking points of Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin as they propelled the crusade against Cordoba House into the national spotlight. Gingrich soon compared the community center to a Nazi sign next to the Holocaust Memorial Museum, while Palin called it “a stab in the heart” of “the Heartland.” Meanwhile, Tea Party candidates like Republican Ilario Pantano, an Iraq war veteran who killed two unarmed Iraqi civilians, shooting them 60 times — he even stopped to reload — made their opposition to Cordoba House the centerpiece of midterm congressional campaigns conducted hundreds of miles from Ground Zero.
Geller’s campaign against “the mosque at Ground Zero” gained an unexpected assist and a veneer of legitimacy from established Jewish leaders like Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman. “Survivors of the Holocaust are entitled to feelings that are irrational,” he remarked to the New York Times. Comparing the bereaved family members of 9-11 victims to Holocaust survivors, Foxman insisted, “Their anguish entitles them to positions that others would categorize as irrational or bigoted.”

Soon enough, David Harris, director of the (Chernick-funded) American Jewish Committee, was demanding that Cordoba’s leaders be compelled to reveal their “true attitudes” about Palestinian militant groups before construction on the center was initiated.  Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center of Los Angeles, another major Jewish group, insisted it would be “insensitive” for Cordoba to build near “a cemetery,” though his organization had recently been granted permission from the municipality of Jerusalem to build a “museum of tolerance” to be called The Center for Human Dignity directly on top of the Mamilla Cemetery, a Muslim graveyard that contained thousands of gravesites dating back 1,200 years.

Inspiration from Israel

It was evident from the involvement of figures like Gravers and Spencer that the Islamophobic network in the United States represented a trans-Atlantic expansion of simmering resentment in Europe.  There, the far-right was storming to victories in parliamentary elections across the continent in part by appealing to the simmering anti-Muslim sentiments of voters in rural and working-class communities. The extent of the collaboration between European and American Islamophobes has only continued to grow with Geller, Spencer, and even Gingrich standing beside Europe’s most prominent anti-Muslim figure, Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, at a rally against Cordoba House.  In the meantime, Geller was issuing statements of support for the English Defense League, a band of unreconstructed neo-Nazis and former members of the whites-only British National Party who intimidate Muslims in the streets of cities like Birmingham and London.

In addition, the trans-Atlantic Islamophobic crusade has stretched into Israel, a country that has come to symbolize the network’s fight against the Muslim menace. As Geller told the New York Times’ Alan Feuer, Israel is “a very good guide because, like I said, in the war between the civilized man and the savage, you side with the civilized man.”

EDL members regularly wave Israeli flags at their rallies, while Wilders claims to have formed his views about Muslims during the time he worked on an Israeli cooperative farm in the 1980s. He has, he says, visited the country more than 40 times since to meet with rightist political allies like Aryeh Eldad, a member of the Israeli Knesset and leader of the far right Hatikvah faction of the National Union Party.  He has called for forcibly “transferring” the Palestinians living in Israel and the occupied West Bank to Jordan and Egypt. On December 5th, for example, Wilders traveled to Israel for a “friendly” meeting with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, then declared at a press conference that Israel should annex the West Bank and set up a Palestinian state in Jordan.

In the apocalyptic clash of civilizations the global anti-Muslim network has sought to incite, tiny armed Jewish settlements like Yitzar, located on the hills above the occupied Palestinian city of Nablus, represent front-line fortresses. Inside Yitzar’s state-funded yeshiva, a rabbi named Yitzhak Shapira has instructed students in what rules must be applied when considering killing non-Jews. Shapira summarized his opinions in a widely publicized bookTorat HaMelech, or The King’s Torah. Claiming that non-Jews are “uncompassionate by nature,” Shapira cited rabbinical texts to declare that gentiles could be killed in order to “curb their evil inclinations.” “There is justification,” the rabbi proclaimed, “for killing babies if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us, and in such a situation they may be harmed deliberately, and not only during combat with adults.”

In 2006, the rabbi was briefly held by Israeli police for urging his supporters to murder all Palestinians over the age of 13. Two years later, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, he signed a rabbinical letter in support of Israeli Jews who had brutally assaulted two Arab youths on the country’s Holocaust Remembrance Day. That same year, Shapira was arrested as a suspect in helping orchestrate a rocket attack against a Palestinian village near Nablus.

Though he was not charged, his name came up again in connection with another act of terror when, in January 2010, the Israeli police raided his settlement seeking vandals who had set fire to a nearby mosque. One of Shapira’s followers, an American immigrant, Jack Teitel, has confessed to murdering two innocent Palestinians and attempting to the kill the liberal Israeli historian Ze’ev Sternhell with a mail bomb.

What does all this have to do with Islamophobic campaigns in the United States?  A great deal, actually. Through New York-based tax-exempt non-profits like the Central Fund of Israel and Ateret Cohenim, for instance, the omnipresent Aubrey Chernick has sent tens of thousands of dollars to support the Yitzar settlement, as well as to the messianic settlers dedicated to “Judaizing” East Jerusalem. The settlement movement’s leading online news magazine, Arutz Sheva, has featured Geller as a columnist.  A friend of Geller’s, Beth Gilinsky, a right-wing activist with a group called the Coalition to Honor Ground Zero and the founder of the Jewish Action Alliance (apparently runout of a Manhattan real estate office), organized a large rally in New York City in April 2010 to protest the Obama administration’s call for a settlement freeze.

Among Chernick’s major funding recipients is a supposedly “apolitical” group called Aish Hatorah that claims to educate Jews about their heritage. Based in New York and active in the fever swamps of northern West Bank settlements near Yitzar, Aish Hatorah shares an address and staff with a shadowy foreign non-profit called the Clarion Fund. During the 2008 U.S. election campaign, the Clarion Fund distributed 28 million DVDs of a propaganda film called Obsession as newspaper inserts to residents of swing states around the country. The film featured a who’s who of anti-Muslim activists, including Walid Shoebat, a self-proclaimed “former PLO terrorist.” Among Shoebat’s more striking statements: “A secular dogma like Nazism is less dangerous than is Islamofascism today.” At a Christian gathering in 2007, this “former Islamic terrorist” told the crowd that Islam was a “satanic cult” and that he had been born again as an evangelical Christian. In 2008, however, the Jerusalem Post, a right-leaning newspaper, exposed him as a fraud, whose claims to terrorism were fictional.

Islamophobic groups registered only a minimal impact during the 2008 election campaign. Two years later, however, after the Republicans regained control of the House of Representatives in midterm elections, the network appears to have reached critical mass. Of course, the deciding factor in the election was the economy, and in two years, Americans will likely vote their pocketbooks again. But that the construction of a single Islamic community center or the imaginary threat of Sharia law were issues at all reflected the influence of a small band of locally oriented activists, and suggested that when a certain presidential candidate who has already been demonized as a crypto-Muslim runs for reelection, the country’s most vocal Islamophobes could once again find a national platform amid the frenzied atmosphere of the campaign.

By now, the Islamophobic crusade has gone beyond the right-wing pro-Israel activists, cyber-bigots, and ambitious hucksters who conceived it. It now belongs to leading Republican presidential candidates, top-rated cable news hosts, and crowds of Tea Party activists. As the fervor spreads, the crusaders are basking in the glory of what they accomplished. “I didn’t choose this moment,” Geller mused to the New York Times, “this moment chose me.”

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

Original post: The Great Islamophobic Crusade

Dr. Hawa Abdi: Woman of the Year

Here are some women that Robert Spencer won’t be talking about soon because they are Muslim women who defy the caricature forwarded by Islamophobes of the helpless covered women oppressed by men. Dr. Hawa Abdi is an inspiration to us all and a real asset to humanity that we can learn from.

Dr. Hawa Abdi & Her Daughters: The Saints of Somalia

(Glamour)

They are Women of the Year because: “They are fearless. Their life’s purpose is to be of service to Somali refugees, and their unwavering fortitude in the face of insurmountable obstacles is a testament to the warrior spirit of women.”
—Iman, cosmetics executive, model and 2006 Woman of the Year, born in Somalia

On a still, hot morning last May, hundreds of Islamist militants invaded the massive displaced-persons camp that Dr. Hawa Abdi runs near Mogadishu, Somalia. They surrounded the 63-year-old ob-gyn’s office, holding her hostage and taking control of the camp. “Women can’t do things like this,” they threatened.

Dr. Abdi, who is equal parts Mother Teresa and Rambo, was unfazed. Every day in Somalia brings new violence as bands of rebels rove ungoverned. Today Somalia remains what the U.N. calls one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. On that morning in May, Dr. Abdi challenged her captors: “What have you done for society?” The thugs stayed a week, leaving only after the U.N. and others advocated on her behalf. Dr. Abdi then, of course, got back to work.

Her lifesaving efforts started in 1983, when she opened a one-room clinic on her family farm. As the government collapsed, refugees flocked to her, seeking food and care. Today she runs a camp housing approximately 90,000 people, mostly women and children because, as she says, “the men are dead, fighting, or have left Somalia to find work.” While Dr. Abdi has gotten some help, many charities refuse to enter Somalia. “It’s the most dangerous country,” says Kati Marton, a board member of Human Rights Watch. “Dr. Abdi is just about the only one doing anything.” Her greatest support: two of her daughters, Deqo, 35, and Amina, 30, also doctors, who often work with her. Despite the bleak conditions, Dr. Abdi sees a glimmer of hope. “Women can build stability,” she says. “We can make peace.”

Cyberpath Robert Spencer has a Weird Fetish For Reza Aslan

Robert Spencer before the tummy tuck

Cyberpath Robert Spencer can’t get over Reza Aslan.

Aslan irks Spencer, bothers him to no end, Spencer views him as his arch-nemesis. In dozens of posts over the past few months, Spencer has at times nervously, at other times excitedly and feverishly used all the JihadWatch talking points and obfuscation at his disposal to attack or hurl personal insults and wild inuendo at Aslan. The dozens of posts have been long winded thousand worded epic Spencerian bile.

The reality behind this Spencer obsession is that Aslan is an outspoken critic of the anti-Muslim Islamophobia machine in which Spencer is a leader, and at the same time is also an advocate for Islamic reform and greater freedom in Muslim nations.

Aslan represents all that Spencer isn’t and therefore is a personality that confounds him, no longer is it easy for him to sling the allegation of Islamic supremacist, or Stealth Jihadist at someone who has an air of respectability and visibility in the mainstream such as Reza Aslan commands.

Spencer’s most recent outpouring of invective against Aslan was due to a few words Aslan said about Islamophobia,

RA: And the crazy thing about it is that we’re seeing that same sort of playbook, that made European Islamophobia so successful and mainstream on the continent, now being adopted by these groups like Stop Islamization of America and Jihad Watch, which are also very successful about creating a mainstream sense of anti-Muslim sentiment.

In the margins of this country there will always be racists and bigots; it’s just that they were always on the fringes; now, hence we have people like Pam Geller and Robert Spencer appearing as regular guests on mainstream television….

For this Spencer calls Aslan the “new” Fritz Kuhn, who was the leader of the American Nazi party back in the 30’s. Insane hyperbole and ad hominem attack? You bettcha!

Among other inane assertions, in a feat of hubris not uncommon for Spencer he not only compared Aslan to an American Nazi leader he also compared Islam to Nazism and levied the assertion that he is on par with those who criticize “Nazism.”

Imagine if Kuhn had given a similar address denouncing critics of Hitler and Nazism as “bigots” and “Germanophobes,” and claiming that anti-Nazi sentiment in the United States was a recrudescence of the ugly nativism that had victimized Catholics in America in the nineteenth century, and was leading up to a wholesale persecution and possibly even a genocide of innocent German-Americans.

Spencer’s off kilter analogy falls on its face when we realize that in fact Spencer is engaging in projection, as he himself has been an ally of Fascists and neo-Nazi groups such as: Geert Wilders (Right-wing Dutch neo-Fascist), EDL (English Defense League),SIOE (Stop the Islamization of Europe), BPE (Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa), Ewald Stadler (Far right Austrian politician), BZO, Sergei Trefkovic (Serbian Nationalist, genocide denier), etc.

Spencer’s argument as to why Aslan is the “new Fritz Kuhn” gets even weaker from that point. In trying to make his obscene case he says that Aslan is the new Fritz Kuhn because he is,

1. A “board member” of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) which Spencer says is, “a group that genuine Iranian pro-democracy forces regard as an apologetic vehicle for the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

First of all the NIAC is considered one of the best Iranian pro-Democracy organizations out there. In truth, the link that Spencer provides goes to an organization that not only doesn’t support democracy but displays an image of the Shah Reza Pahlavi on its site, not really a scion of democracy.

NIAC, Terrorist Apologist or pro-Democracy advocates?

2. He claims Aslan is uncritical of Ahmadinejad and his anti-Semitism.

Another false claim. If calling someone a “fraudulently elected Megalomaniac” is uncritical as Aslan did in one article then Spencer doesn’t know the meaning of “uncritical.” As it happens Aslan condemned Ahmadinejad’s denial of the holocaust calling it “absurd.”

3. Aslan calls for the US Government to negotiate with Ahmadinejad and Hamas.

What is controversial here? Others have called for the US to negotiate with Ahmadinejad and Hamas as well. Is Spencer implying that because Aslan has called for the US to negotiate with the two he somehow supports them? If so can he show us any proof? Of course he cannot and so he resorts to innuendo.

4. Has “praised” Hizballah by observing that it is “the most dynamic political and social organization in Lebanon.”

Aslan didn’t “praise” Hizballah as Spencer would have it, implying that Aslan somehow endorses them. He merely observed an obvious point that even Hizballah’s greatest detractors have, that it is the most highly organized and dynamic party in Lebanon.

This is what Aslan really said (hat tip: Mosizzle),

“You may think of Hizballah as a terrorist organization, and certainly they have engaged in terrorist acts, but they are also the most dynamic political and social organization in Lebanon”

Again, not really high “praise.”

At the end of the day Spencer is only chasing vague phantoms and attempting to spin terrorists or terrorist supporters out of thin air to suit his morbid agenda of framing “the only good Muslim as a bad Muslim.” The real Fritz Kuhn’s of the world are Spencer and his ilk, individuals who wish to eliminate Islam from the West.