Sniffing Out the Islamophobes in Pew Polling Data

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Sniffing Out the Islamophobes in Pew Polling Data

Original guest article

By JustStoppingBy

By comparing results from two survey questions, we can get a much more refined view of the prevalence of Islamophobia in different demographic groups.

According to a well-known quote, “Knowledge is power.”  We may think that we know who the Islamophobes are among society.  But, how accurate are our assessments?  One problem with many polls that attempt to measure the presence of Islamophobia is that they often do not distinguish between bias against or dislike of Muslims with general forms of bias or dislike of others.  For example, suppose that someone says that they oppose building mosques.  If the same person would also say that they oppose building churches, synagogues and any other house of worship, it generally makes more sense to categorize them as anti-religion rather than specifically anti-Islam.  Fortunately, the Pew Research Center put out a poll in 2009 that has two questions that, when examined together, can provide us with an interesting take on this issue by specifically isolating bias against Muslims from biases against religious groups in general.

The questions begin with the introduction, “I’m going to read the names of some specific religious groups. For each one that I name, please tell me whether you would favor or oppose this group applying for government funds to provide social services to people who need them.”  Two of the “groups” covered are interesting:  first, “Individual churches, synagogues and other houses of worship” and second, “Muslim mosques.”

What makes these interesting is that we can look at the people who favor government funding for “individual churches, synagogues and other houses of worship” and see how that figure declines when that larger group is replaced by “Muslim mosques.”  The first question should screen out people who object to government funding of any religious group providing social services, whether because they oppose government spending on social services or oppose the government outsourcing such activities (positions that are tied to views of government rather than religion) and those who oppose government providing such funding to religious groups (which could represent a view of government generally or a view on religion generally, but should not be specific to views of Islam).  Then, when we switch to the second question, about Muslim mosques, any change is due to respondents’ views on Islam in particular.  Thus, the drop in support is a relatively clean measure of Islamophobic responses separated out from other issues such as views of government or religion generally.  This drop can be examined for different subgroups, allowing us to examine the relative degrees of Islamophobia across them.  This drop may be more useful than a single question about how respondents view Muslims, as it may be the case that some groups of respondents are generally more friendly or hostile to religious groups in general as opposed to Muslims in particular.

Before presenting the results, it is worth noting a few caveats.  First, the difference in the results represents Islamophobia among those willing to provide government funding to religious organizations for the purposes of providing social services generally.  The questions do not provide any information on the degree of Islamophobia among those who oppose the government providing such funding to religious groups at all.  Second, correlation is not causation.  However, readers are invited to provide their thoughts on the reasons for the differential results across subgroups, and some thoughts will be provided below.

Now, on to the poll results.

The first subgroup examined by Pew is Age.  Here are the results of Support along with two measures of the drop in support going from houses of worship generally to mosques:

Pew_Table1

There are a few interesting things to note here. First, in both the general house of worship and the mosque categories, support declines (with one exception) as age increases. Second, if we measure the decline in percentage points (the change in the share of the total group before screening with the first question), the declines are smallest for the two youngest age categories and then seem to roughly level off. Third, if we look at the percentage change (the change share of those in support on the first question), we see the same general pattern, but even more pronounced. (The 2009 results on age are consistent with a 2013 Pew survey finding that “[m]ost young people continue to reject the idea that Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers” and that younger people are more likely to say that Muslims suffer from discrimination.)

In terms of recommendations, there are two conflicting possibilities.  One is that because here is a quite limited amount of Islamophobia among the youngest group, perhaps efforts that are devoted there should be focused elsewhere.  A completely conflicting interpretation is that the near absence of Islamophobia in the youngest group is the result of those efforts, which should then be continued with future groups of young people if not expanded to cover other groups where possible.There are a few interesting things to note here.  First, in both the general house of worship and the mosque categories, support declines (with one exception) as age increases.  Second, if we measure the decline in percentage points (the change in the share of the total group before screening with the first question), the declines are smallest for the two youngest age categories and then seem to roughly level off.  Third, if we look at the percentage change (the change share of those in support on the first question), we see the same general pattern, but even more pronounced.  (The 2009 results on age are consistent with a 2013 Pew surveyfinding that “[m]ost young people continue to reject the idea that Islam is more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers” and that younger people are more likely to say that Muslims suffer from discrimination.)

The next category covered in Pew is household income.  There does not seem to be much in the results, but they are presented here in case someone sees something worth discussing.  (You may also note that the Total category results change a little from those in the Age table.  This appears to be due to slight changes in the sample, perhaps based on people not being asked or not answering questions for the different types of categories.)

Pew_Table2

Next is marital status.  In this case, it seems that the results are at least somewhat related to age, with the widowed category showing one of the highest levels of Islamophobia and the never been married the least.

Pew_Table3

Next, Pew presents the results by religion.

Pew_Table4

(Other Christian = Mormon, Orthodox, Unitarian, self-identified as Christian.)

It is worth noting that the atheist/agnostic/nothing in particular category shows the smallest amount of Islamophobia.  This should be kept in mind when considering whether some of the prominent New Atheists such as Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris are representative of the broader atheist community.  Second, while Jews are pretty much tied with other religious groups when considering houses of worship generally, they show the smallest dropoff, or the least amount of Islamophobia, and end up being the only religious group (even including atheist/agnostic/nothing in particular) with a majority support for government funding of social programs at mosques.  If this were purely a question of how a minority (meaning non-Christian in the United States) religion is attentive to concerns that a minority religion would not receive its fair share of funding, we would expect to see similar results for the “other religion” category.  Instead, that group falls a little closer to the higher level of Islamophobia in three Christian categories than to lower level among Jews.  Similar to atheists, the lower than average rate of Islamophobia among Jews should be kept in mind when comparing the general Jewish population to prominent individuals; generally different from atheists, who tend to have fewer identity-specific institutions, one can think about whether mainstream Jewish education and communal/religious organizations have a substantial role in bringing about this result.(Other Christian = Mormon, Orthodox, Unitarian, self-identified as Christian.)

Next, we have education.

Pew_Table5

While support for government funding of social programs at houses of worship is relatively flat across education levels (or perhaps a bit U-shaped: higher at the ends than in the middle), it is distinctly lower for those without a high school diploma when it comes to funding for social programs at mosques.  There clearly seems to be a story and a lesson here about how education helps reduce Islamophobia (while still keeping the correlation/causation caveat in mind).

The next category covered by Pew is sex.  The differences seem to be relatively small, with a slightly greater degree of Islamophobia seen among males.  In a bit of contrast, the 2013 Pew survey showed fairly clearly that men were more likely than women to say that Islam was more likely than other religions to encourage violence among its believers.While support for government funding of social programs at houses of worship is relatively flat across education levels (or perhaps a bit U-shaped: higher at the ends than in the middle), it is distinctly lower for those without a high school diploma when it comes to funding for social programs at mosques.  There clearly seems to be a story and a lesson here about how education helps reduce Islamophobia (while still keeping the correlation/causation caveat in mind).

Pew_Table6

The final category studied by Pew is “political ideology.”

Pew_Table7

Depending on one’s expectations, the results here may be a bit surprising.  The highest degree of Islamophobia is among conservatives, not those who identify as very conservative.  Thoughts on this are welcome.  Another interesting point is that the moderate and liberal results appear quite similar, with a small decline in Islamophobia among the very liberal.  In this case, the 2013 Pew survey did show a clear ordering of results, with conservative Republicans most likely to say that Islam encourages violence among adherents, followed by moderate/liberal Republicans, Independents, moderate/conservative Democrats, and finally liberal Democrats.

Hopefully, the data above provide some amount of knowledge.  It should go without saying that the data represents information aggregated across groups and do not prove that any single individual is or is not Islamophobic.  After all, while those earning over $100,000 typically have below-average displays of Islamophobia in this poll, Robert Spencer falls into that category.  And while a Jewish woman with some college but no degree would display three features associated with a below-average degree of Islamophobia, we have a prominent counter-example with those three characteristics.  On the other hand, the data should not be ignored as it may provide useful information if we can figure out how to use it properly.

Northeastern University SJP chapter suspended as members are subjected to police interrogation

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Students for Justice in Palestine activists at a conference at Columbia University in 2011. (Photo: Columbia SJP)

 

Northeastern University SJP chapter suspended as members are subjected to police interrogation

By Max Blumenthal (MondoWeiss)The Islamophobia network led by the anti-Muslim hatemonger Charles Jacobs has been deeply involved in smearing NEU’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter. This is an unprecedented attack on student rights and academic freedom.

On March 7, members of Northeastern University’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) were informed by the school’s Center for Student Involvement that their chapter had been suspended for at least a year.

In a letter sent to the SJP chapter and provided to me by Max Geller, a second year Northeastern University School of Law student who actively campaigns with SJP, the school’s Director of the Center for Student Involvement, Jason Campbell-Foster, offered a litany of charges against the students. At the top of the list was the SJP’s February 24 distribution of notices across Northeastern campuses that mocked the sort of eviction notices slapped on Palestinian homes slated for Israeli demolition – an awareness-raising tactic increasing in popularity among SJP chapters nationwide.

“You have not shown a concerted effort to improve your practices and educate your members on how to properly operate your organization within the boundaries of university policy,” Northeastern’s Campbell-Foster wrote.

According to Campbell-Foster’s letter, all current members of Northeastern SJP’s current executive board are permanently banned from serving on any future board in the organization. Further, SJP members must undergo a strict regimen of trainings led by university administrators as a condition for reinstatement.

On the morning of February 25, two days after Northeastern SJP members distributed mock eviction notices throughout campus dormitories, all Northeastern students received an email from Robert Jose, Northeastern’s Associate Dean for Cultural and Residential Life. “We do not condone any behavior that causes members of our community to feel targeted and/or intimidated,” Jose wrote.

Jose urged students to express “how this has impacted [them]” by contacting school administrators and the Hillel House of Northeastern, an explicitly pro-Israel Jewish communal organization committed to countering SJP-related activism.

letter that appeared almost simultaneously on Northeastern’s Hillel’s website announced, “Rather than seeking to prompt dialogue, the fake eviction notices alarmed and intimidated students in their homes, in clear violation of Northeastern policy. We are in communication with Student Affairs regarding this incident, who have been quick to respond to student concerns. The administration is working with the Northeastern University Police Department to conduct a thorough investigation.”

At 10 AM that same day, members of Northeastern SJP received phone calls and visits from campus police officers. “All of the sudden the school was accusing us of an act of criminality for simply [an] act of leafleting,” remarked Geller. “A special investigation was launched for what the university claimed was a petty handbook violation and NYPD-style tactics were used against students. It was so disproportionate to what happened and a complete misappropriation of university funds.”

Geller told me the first Northeastern SJP members to be visited by teams of university police were Muslim and Arab members. “They were freaked out and scared,” he recalled. “It’s hard enough being a brown person with an Arabic name on campus. Now imagine what it was like being treated like a criminal for handing out fliers.” (Full disclosure: Geller hosted me for a discussion of my book, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, at Northeastern on January 7).

Following the police investigations, the university has pursued disciplinary sanctions against two SJP members, accusing them of “endangering behavior” and threatening them with expulsion for their involvement in the mock eviction action. They happen to be the only women of color in the Northeastern SJP chapter.

According to Geller, neither student was involved in a leadership role in the organization or in the leafleting action. “It is so arbitrary and Kafkaesque what the school has done,” he said. “Instead of going after the actual leadership they are targeting two women of color with Muslim backgrounds.”

The suspension of Northeastern SJP is the culmination of a long-running campaign against the group led by powerful pro-Israel outfits based in Boston. The campaign began in the wake of David Project founder Charles Jacobs’ failed campaign to prevent the construction of the Islamic Community Center of Boston in the predominately African-American neighborhood of Roxbury. Jacobs, an outspoken anti-Muslim activist who has referred to mosques as “victory markers,” turned his attention to Northeastern, which lays just on the border of Roxbury.

Through his newly minted front group, Americans for Peace and Tolerance (AFPT), Jacobs orchestrated a campaign called “Shame on NEU.” On the group’s website, Jacobs promoted editorials baselessly accusing Northeastern SJP of “Call[ing] for the Murder of Jews” and “Cheerlead[ing] Hamas.” Together with Richard Cravatts, a communications professor at Boston University who leads the pro-Israel outfit Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Jacobs claimed SJP was comprised of “anti-Semites, Israel haters” seeking to “justify a second Holocaust, the mass murder of Jews” and possessed with “an irrational, seething animus against the Jew of nations, Israel.”

On July 5, 2013, Northeastern University President Joseph Aoun received a breathless twelve-page letter from the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) demanding an investigation of three professors – Dennis Sullivan, Berna Turam, and M. Shahid Alam – accused by the organization of fostering a “hostile environment” for pro-Israel and Jewish students. Further, the ZOA demanded a review of course material to ensure it adhered to a strictly pro-Israel ideological line, and that the school punish “wrongdoers” for political activities both on and off campus. “Many Jewish students are feeling marginalized and even threatened on campus, afraid to express they are Jewish and pro-Israel,” ZOA President Morton Klein claimed in the letter, which was promptly reproduced and promoted on the website of Jacobs’ AFPT.

The Anti-Defamation League bolstered the ZOA and Jacobs’ crusade against Palestine solidarity at Northeastern by sending a letter of its own to Aoun demanding action against the “anti-Israel” professors.

The ZOA is a far-right organization that supports continuous, unrestricted Israeli settlement activity and the annexation of the occupied West Bank. Its national Vice Chairman, Steven Goldberg, has said that Jews who protest settlement activity are “mutants” who should have been aborted.

CC’ed on the ZOA letter to Northeastern was Robert Shillman, the multi-millionaire CEO of Cognex Corporation. A graduate of Northeastern, Shillman is identified [PDF] in the ZOA’s newsletter as “a major supporter” of the organization. Shillman has pumped his fortune into right-wing Zionist causes from the ZOA to the David Horowitz Freedom Center, which has back-channeled funding to Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer – far-right extremists identified as anti-Muslim hate group leaders by the Southern Poverty Law Center. (Geller has promoted an inflammatory 32-minute Americans for Peace and Tolerance video on her blog accusing Sullivan, a professor of international affairs and the director of the university’s Middle East Center for Peace, Culture and Development, of supporting terrorism and “shocking Jew hatred.”)

Shillman also happens to be a top contributor to Northeastern, having donating $3 million for the construction of a new classroom building in 1999 – Shillman Hall.Though Shillman is still alive, a statue of his likeness stands in the center of Northeastern’s campus, just outside the hall bearing his name.

Another wealthy pro-Israel donor who has exerted his influence over Northeastern is Seth Klarman, the hedge fund billionaire who acts as a principal financial angel for Jacobs’ political empire. Besides having backed Jacobs-founded outfits like the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting (CAMERA) and The David Project, Klarman is a major donor to the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston. And it is through the Combined Philanthropies, according to a review of 990 forms filed with the Internal Revenue Service, that the Hillel of Northeastern University received the vast majority of its funding in 2009 — $27,509 in all.

Under the tenure of President Aoun, a Lebanese Christian born in Beirut, pro-Israel forces in Boston have exerted their influence against an exceptionally malleable administration. In December, Aoun condemned the American Studies Association’s decision to boycott Israeli academic institutions involved in the occupation of Palestine, declaring, “Political differences indeed heighten, not diminish, the importance of unfettered discourse among scholars.”

The campaign against Northeastern SJP escalated when Jacobs’ AFPT created a Facebook page called, “Exposing Islamic Extremism at Northeastern University.”Threats poured in through the page, both publicly and privately, according to Geller. As Northeastern University Middle East Studies MA candidate and SJP board member Ryan Branagan documented at Electronic Intifada, one commenter said of Geller, “I would seriously introduce that kid to the inside of an ambulance.” Geller said he began receiving threats targeting his family when his parents’ home address was posted online.

In June, Northeastern SJP was placed on administrative probation and warned against future “transgressions” after its members staged a brief walkout protest of a presentation on campus by Israeli soldiers. The students were forced to issue a “statement of civility” afterwards by university administrators. The Boston Globe’s Yvonne Abraham described the sanctioning of SJP as a symbol of the transformation of American universities into “overpriced country clubs with climbing walls, sushi, and a culture of enforced politeness that is downright depressing.”

With the suspension of its SJP chapter, Northeastern University has awarded Boston-area pro-Israel outfits the prize they had been seeking. According to Geller, the episode provides the clearest proof yet that Northeastern’s administration “is more interested in appeasing outside astroturfed Zionist groups than in fostering an environment where the vigorous exchange of ideas can take place.”

My calls seeking comments from Northeastern University Center for Student Involvement were not returned.

EXPOSED: “Muslim charter” UKIP MEP Gerard Batten directly linked to extremist anti-Muslim propaganda network

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EXPOSED: “Muslim charter” UKIP MEP Gerard Batten directly linked to extremist anti-Muslim propaganda network

Original guest post by Jai Singh

Headed by Nigel Farage, a Member of the European Parliament, the UK Independence Party(known as “UKIP”) has made huge gains in local government elections in the UK, and may achieve the support of up to 20% of voters during the impending European elections. UKIP has of course also received scrutiny due to the extreme right-wing (and often explicitly Far-Right) views of far too many of its politicians. These views have received publicity via a combination of media exposure and blunders by UKIP politicians themselves.

Such incidents are continuing to occur. For example, during a recent UKIP conference in Torquay, Nigel Farage was caught enthusiastically applauding racist “jokes” about South Asians along with similarly derogatory “humour” at the expense of Muslims. Furthermore, during the same conference, UKIP tried to ban journalists from a meeting ostensibly to discuss sharia law; the very first question at that meeting was “How can you be both a Muslim and an Englishman ?” Farage himself has also become increasingly outspoken about expressing highly offensive views; in fact, even traditionally right-wing British news outlets such as The Telegraph are nowpublishing articles describing UKIP as “an overtly racist and extremist party”.

UKIP’S “DECLARATION FORM” FOR CANDIDATES

According to BBC deputy political editor James Landale, writing on 28 February 2014:

If you want evidence of how UKIP is trying to become more professional, look no further than the form potential candidates have to fill out, a copy of which I have obtained at the party’s conference in Torquay.

Wannabe UKIP candidates have to declare the following:

“I never engaged in, advocated or condoned racist, violent, criminal or anti democratic activity.

“I have never been a member of or had links with any organisation, group or association which the national executive committee considers is liable to bring the party into disrepute.

“I have never been convicted of any offence punishable by a custodial sentence, whether or not a custodial sentence was actually imposed. I shall notify the Party Chairman and General Secretary immediately upon being interviewed under caution.”

Later the form asks specifically: “Are you or have you ever been a member of the BNP, EDL or any other organisation that might be of public interest?”

And this is my favourite: “I do not have any ‘skeletons in my cupboard’ that may cause me or UKIP embarrassment if they were to come out during the election.”

Unfortunately for UKIP, the ramifications of this will become clearer immediately below, although not in the way UKIP’s leadership intended.

UKIP MEP GERARD BATTEN AND THE ANTI-MUSLIM PROPAGANDA NETWORK

Another very senior UKIP politician who has recently featured in the British news is Gerard Batten, UKIP’s immigration spokesman. A founder member of UKIP in 1993, he has also been UKIP’s Chief Whip since 2009, and was personally appointed by Nigel Farage. Furthermore, Batten is currently UKIP’s MEP for London and a member of UKIP’s National Executive Committee. Batten was appointed a member of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Security and Defence in 2004; he was appointed UKIP’s spokesman on Security and Defence soon afterwards.

In February 2014, Batten appeared as one of the main participants in several televised political debates on Channel 4 and the BBC, primarily in his capacity as UKIP’s immigration spokesman.As discussed in The Guardian, Batten has also recently received some publicity due to his proposed “Muslim Charter” requiring British Muslims to sign a “code of conduct”; despite the outcry, Batten has refused to withdraw his proposal. (Nigel Farage subsequently disownedBatten’s proposal).

Furthermore, the same Guardian article confirms that Batten is also on record as suggesting a ban on new mosques in British cities; Batten justified this by repeatedly referring to the prohibition on non-Muslim places of worship in Saudi Arabia, which he kept describing as “the heartland” of Islam. Batten is therefore proposing that British citizens who are Muslims should effectively be held hostage to the actions of foreign governments. Bear in mind that the majority of British Muslims do not have Saudi Arabian (or Middle-Eastern) backgrounds and do not even belong to the same religious “denomination” as state-sponsored Saudi Wahhabism.

On 28 February 2014, during an interview with Sky News anchor Adam Boulton, Nigel Farage insisted that UKIP had already “got rid of” everyone with any links to extremism. During his speech at the recent UKIP conference discussed above, Farage similarly claimed that “We’ve had one or two bad people. We’ve got rid of them”. However, Farage’s claims are demonstrably false: It turns out that Gerard Batten himself has a history of direct involvement with the core extremist international anti-Muslim propaganda network.

For example, in 2007, Gerard Batten personally represented the UK at a major anti-Muslim conference held in Brussels by the aforementioned propagandists. The conference brought together dozens of organisations and individuals to inaugurate the “Counterjihad Europa” network; participants included a number of the main writers at the virulently anti-Muslim websiteGates of Vienna, along with Robert Spencer, who is the main writer of the Jihad Watch website and a foreign extremist whom the British Government’s Home Office has now banned from entering the UK. Full details on the conference here and here; Gerard Batten is explicitly named.

Regular readers will recognise the names of many of the people listed, including sources cited by the mass-murdering terrorist Anders Breivik in his manifesto; Gates of Vienna owner Edward May (aka “Baron Bodissey”) is on record as explicitly describing himself as a “propagandist” and admitting that his agenda is to deliberately promote highly distorted information about Islam in order to stereotype and demonise the religion. Subsequent annual conferences have includedhigh-profile participation from the English Defence League leadership.

Gerard Batten is also directly linked to the Dutch Far-Right politician Geert Wilders, and has even held joint press conferences with him. Wilders’ extremely bigoted views on Islam are well-known (see examples via Wikipedia and the Institute for Policy Studies). Batten is on record as describing Wilders as “a brave man trying to defend western civilisation in the face of its own loss of the most basic instinct of self preservation”.

Furthermore, Gerard Batten also has a history of assisting the extremely anti-Muslim “Stop Islamisation of Europe” (SIOE) organisation. He even handed in a petition on behalf of SIOE head Anders Gravers to the mayor of Brussels. SIOE is part of Robert Spencer & Pamela Geller’s SION (“Stop Islamization of Nations”) organisation, and Gravers himself is currently a member of SION’s Presidents Council.

For the UKIP leadership’s benefit and for the public record, it is worth reiterating the following key facts. Robert Spencer is:

(a) an individual with precisely zero academic, professional or linguistic qualifications on the subject of Islam;
(b) an individual whose own alma mater, the University of North Carolina, have publicly condemned his writings;
(c) formally allied to racist white supremacists and European neo-Nazis, and has even organised joint public demonstrations with then;
(d) on record as demonising the entire Muslim population and demonising the religion of Islam as a whole;
(e) on record as repeatedly making false statements about Islam and Muslims, and repeatedly trying to hide the evidence when his actions were exposed;
(f) on record as making false statements about historical Popes and major Jewish figures, and then trying to hide the evidence when his actions were exposed;
(g) one of the most heavily cited sources in the terrorist Anders Breivik’s manifesto;
(h) an ordained Catholic deacon who has publicly admitted that his anti-Islam propaganda campaign is heavily motivated by his [unilateral] agenda for the dominance of the Catholic Church, despite the fact that his actions are in violation of both official Vatican policy and the extensive interfaith bridge-building efforts of the global leaders of his own Catholic sect;
(i) closely linked to influential American Catholic religious leaders affiliated with “Dominionism”, an extreme interpretation of fundamentalist Christianity deriving from “Christian Reconstructionism”, which involves the belief that rule by non-Christians anywhere in the world is sacrilege, explicitly approves of the historical slavery of African-Americans, and openly advocates the replacement of American law with Old Testament injunctions including the death penalty for apostasy and homosexuality; furthermore, according to Dominionism, its adherents have a God-given mandate to infiltrate the highest echelons of power and subsequently impose their beliefs on the entire world;
(j) closely linked to multiple figures who are extremely anti-Semitic as well as anti-Muslim;
(k) on record as denying the Srebrenica genocide, explicitly describing it as “the-genocide-that-never-was” and proposing “the possibility that Muslims could have carried out any deceptive atrocity-manufacturing in the Balkans”;
(l) on record as repeatedly promoting the work & writings of Serge Trifkovic, former spokesman for the Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic; Karadzic is currently charged with genocide during the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Bosnia. Spencer and Trifkovic have even held joint interviews and collaborated on an anti-Islam documentary film. Trifkovic openly supports and defends Ratko Mladic, whom the United Nations Tribunal has indicted on 16 counts of genocide and war crimes. Furthermore, Trifkovic has also appeared as a defence witness during the trials of several Serbian war criminals subsequently convicted of multiple crimes against humanity, including genocide, exterminations, persecution and deportations;
(m) on record as joining a genocidal white nationalist Facebook group called the “Campaign for the Reconquest of Anatolia”, whose mission statement openly advocates the ethnic cleansing, mass sterilisation and euthanasia of Turkey’s entire Muslim population, targeting “up to 150 million people”;
(n) on record as making extremely disparaging statements about the prestigious West Point military institution and has described Far-Right terrorists in the US as “ordinary Americans who believe in individual rights”.
(o) an individual whose SION/SIOA/AFDI organisations’ leadership is directly assisted by David Yerushalmi, the head of an organisation whose mission statement explicitly declares that its (currently unidentified) members are “dedicated to the rejection of democracy”.
[Note: Extensive further information regarding these facts along with a range of other matters involving Robert Spencer and his inner circle is available in this recent article.]

EDL ex-leader Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka “Tommy Robinson”) was a member of SION’s Presidents Council until his unconvincing “defection” to the Quilliam Foundation in October 2013. Speaking to various international outlets, especially a Far-Right source, Yaxley-Lennon has admitted the real reasons for his involvement with Quilliam. It is worth noting that Yaxley-Lennon has repeatedly stated that there has actually been zero change in his extremist views, and that he continues to support Robert Spencer. Yaxley-Lennon is also on record as publicly endorsing UKIP.

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UKIP’S LINKS TO INTERNATIONAL FAR-RIGHT PARTIES

As confirmed by the New Statesman:

Ukip is part of the group Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD). The group includes representatives of the Danish People’s Party, the True Finns Party, the Dutch SGP and the infamous Italian Lega Nord – all of them far-right. Nigel Farage is co-President of the group along with Lega Nord’s Francesco Speroni, who described multiple murderer Anders Breivik as someone whose “ideas are in defence of western civilisation.”

Mario Borghezio, another member of the group, declared in a radio interview that Breivik had some “excellent” ideas. Farage’s reaction was to write a strongly-worded letter to Borghezio, asking him to withdraw his comments or Ukip would pull out of the EFD. Borghezio not only did not apologise, but responded with an extraordinary speech in which he raged: “Long live the Whites of Europe, long live our identity, our ethnicity, our race… our blue sky, like the eyes of our women. Blue, in a people who want to stay white.”

Nigel Farage did not withdraw from the EFD. He continues to co-preside over it, along with the leader of the Lega Nord. MEP Nikki Sinclaire, however, was expelled from Ukip for refusing to take part in the EFD because of their “extreme views”.

UKIP AND BRITISH FAR-RIGHT PARTIES

Via the aforementioned New Statesman article:

“Ukip has no links to the BNP,” explained Farage in 2007. The first line of any description of Ukip calls it “a libertarian, non-racist party”. What party, other than one skating close to the lines of taste and decency, needs to describe itself as “non-racist”? Farage boasted on The Andrew Marr Show (20 January 2013) that “Ukip is the only UK party to explicitly ban BNP members from joining”. What party, other than a party whose policies are attractive to such organisations, would need to do that?

…..More recently, however, Farage refused to vote to oppose moves for the European Union to fund the BNP.

The founder of the party, Alan Sked, says it has become “extraordinarily right-wing” and is now devoted to “creating a fuss, via Islam and immigrants”.

Furthermore, as confirmed by the Huffington Post on 28 February 2014, it turns out that UKIP’s “new” “Love Britain, Vote Ukip” campaign slogan is actually a rehash of the Far-Right BNP’s own slogan. A BNP spokesman subsequently complained “They’ve stolen our policies and now they’ve stolen our slogan”.

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FURTHER INFORMATION

1. For interested readers, UKIP leader Nigel Farage’s Twitter address is @Nigel_Farage.

2. UKIP “immigration spokesman” and “Chief Whip” Gerard Batten’s Twitter address is@GerardBattenMEP.

3. BBC deputy political editor James Landale’s Twitter address is @BBCJLandale.

4. Sky News anchor Adam Boulton’s Twitter address is @adamboultonSKY.

5. Huffington Post UK Political Director / New Statesman contributor Mehdi Hasan’s Twitter address is @mehdirhasan.

Robert Spencer Lies About Praising Angola’s “Ban on Islam”

Angola Bans Islam Destroys Mosques

Omar Sacirbey, a journalist for the Religion News Service has a blog post summarizing Islamophobia and Muslim news over the past week in which he gives us a very nice commendation,

Loonwatch.com, an excellent website keeping tabs on the Islamophobe industry, reported this week that the anti-Muslim blog FreePatriot.org published a story about a Muslim mob in Egypt that threw a 15-year-old Christian girl out a third-floor window. The FreePatriot story came with a photo of a woman falling out a window. Pretty enraging stuff, except that the story is completely made-up. The 2011 photo of a woman jumping from a fifth-floor window was shot in Shanghai.

Sacirbey also noted that Islamophobes Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller both welcomed the, as it turns out, inaccurate news about Angola’s ban on Islam,

Speaking of false reports, did you catch the one about how Angola had banned Islam and was planning to raze mosques in the country? Anti-Muslim bloggers Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer both welcomed the false news. At The Daily Beast, Jacob Mchangama writes how the bloggers’ praise of Angola’s purported Islam ban contradicts their self-styled images as defenders of free speech.

There is a lot more that plainly showcases the anti-freedom bona fides of Spencer and Geller and can easily be found detailed on Spencerwatch.

In the comments section Spencer showed up, addressing Sacirbey in his usual arrogant and ego-driven tone, Spencer decided he would lie,

Robert Spencer

“Fabricating stories to demonize people is nothing new” — and you should know, Omar Sacirbey, since you’re a master at it yourself. Here, you are retailing the falsehoods of other smear artists, but are you too lazy to do any fact-checking? In reality, I never praised the supposed ban on Islam in Angola, and actually condemned it: http://www.jihadwatch.org/2013/11/angola-denies-it-banned-islam-destroyed-mosques.html

You’re a disgrace to journalism.

Cordially
Robert Spencer

Other commenters pointed out Spencer’s hypocrisy and called him out for being a despicable liar,

Robert Spencer,

The hypocrite is YOU.

You did indeed welcome the possibility of the ban of Islam in Angola when news first broke of it, or at the very least did anything but condemn or even criticize it. From your own blog:

“This is extraordinarily strange news, given that the world is racing in the other direction, to accommodate and appease Islam. It will be interesting to see, if these reports turn out to be accurate, how the mainstream media and Islamic supremacist groups will find a way to accuse the Angolans of “racism.” In any case, clearly this is a national security issue, with Islamic supremacists and jihadists wreaking havoc in Nigeria and spreading elsewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa. There is no way in Angola any more than there is anywhere else to distinguish jihadis in Angola from the peaceful Muslims among whom they move, organize and recruit, and clearly this measure is designed to stop that activity. However, censure from the UN and the world “human rights” community will probably soon compel Angola to change its stance, and allow the jihadis free rein.”

Let’s analyze your statement here:

1 – The alternative to a ban of Islam (“the other direction” as you put it) is to “to accommodate and appease Islam.” And since your entire blog rants and shills about the prevalence and evil of such accommodation and appeasement, one can easily conclude which of the two “options” in your binary world view you prefer.

2 – You scoffed at the possibility – that if the ban turns out to be true – “how the mainstream media and Islamic supremacist groups will find a way to accuse the Angolans of “racism.”” You are clearly stating you would disagree with such opposition and in fact go further to mock those who would.

3 – You justify the possibility of the ban to be “clearly this is a national security issue”

4 – Incredibly, you argue that there is no way to distinguish between bad Muslims and good Muslims in Angola or anywhere in the world, essentially endorsing the ban as the final solution not only in Angola, but everywhere in the world: “There is no way in Angola any more than there is anywhere else to distinguish jihadis in Angola from the peaceful Muslims among whom they move, organize and recruit, and clearly this measure is designed to stop that activity.”

5 – You put those who would seek to oppose the ban on human rights grounds in quotes (“human rights”) suggesting that you do NOT agree that this would be a human rights issue. You indicate that the consequence of reversing the ban on a human rights ground is: “the free reign of Jihadis.” Now, unless you are now changing your mind that “the free reign of Jihadis” is an undesirable thing, you are explicitly warning against the reversal of the ban.

The full quote: “However, censure from the UN and the world “human rights” community will probably soon compel Angola to change its stance, and allow the jihadis free rein.”

In conclusion, the claim by Omar Sacirbey is 100% true.

You either have a painfully low IQ, are a shameless hypocrite, or suffer from severe amnesia when you come here to deride this fine journalist and accuse him of lying about your first response to the news of the ban when it is so clearly documented.

Moreover, if you are ashamed of your own views, why hold them, let alone parade them so proudly, in the first place? Time for a psychiatric evaluation.

Cordially,

Richard

It’s good to know that sane and well informed voices are willing to push back more and more against the hate brigades.

Freedom of speech under attack by Islamophobes in Tennessee

Freedom of speech under attack by Islamophobes in Tennessee

by Sheila Musaji, TheAmericanMuslim.com

I’ve noted before that Pamela Geller Does Not Understand Freedom of Speech when she found fault with American Muslims and others for denouncing her hate ads.  This she called an attempt to “impose blasphemy restrictions on free speech”.  She does not understand that   Freedom of speech does not include freedom from condemnation of that speech.  She showed this same lack of understanding of freedom of speech when Al Jazeera came to the U.S.  In that case Pamela Geller Defended Free Speech By Calling for Censorship.  When a number of students at UC Irvine disrupted Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s talk, The Irvine 11: Freedom of Speech and Double Standards – 11 of those students were arrested and stood trial and the MSU on campus was censured for coordinating the protest.  Pamela Geller called the MSA suspension for disrupting the ambassador’s talk “a giant stop sign to the Islamic supremacism and jackbootery increasingly found on college campuses. America is waking up to the enemy in our midst.” 

Geller and her partner Robert Spencer actively promoted the recent protest in Tennessee.  In fact, Geller posted on Twitter  “Thousands gather at AFDI free speech demo in Tennessee”.  This means she is taking responsibility for this shameful display of bigotry.  Unless she believes that the organizers and participants in this protest should be censured or arrested just as those who disrupted Ambassader Oren’s talk were, then she is truly hypocritical when it comes to freedom of speech.  This protest was an egregious example of selective freedom of speech.

The background:  Last month, Coffee County, Tennessee commissioner Barry West posted a photo on Facebook of a man squinting down the barrel of a gun, with a caption reading, “How to wink at a Muslim.”  The Muslim community in Tennessee and across the nation was outraged, and many were frightened by the implications of the photo and caption, especially coming from an elected official. The photo below is a capture of the Facebook page by the Mail Online.  There is no way to see this as anything but threatening.

As Elizabeth Plank noted in an article on this incident:

… An endorsement of Islamophobia by an elected official can only make matters worse for a state that is the home of a frightening amount of anti-Muslim violence. “We know that these lead to discrimination and hate crimes in the Muslim community, and we are very wary of that,” said Sabina Mohyuddin. “I am a second-generation American. My children are third generation. We don’t see ourselves as anything but American,” she continued.

Daniel Tutt, an Episcopalian interfaith activist and a research fellow at the nonprofit Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in Washington, told USA Today that the best thing Barry West can do is publicly apologize and privately meet with Muslim families living in Coffee Country. “The initial reaction from Muslims will be, ‘This is unfortunate, but we’ve seen a lot of this.’ But it’s not acceptable. If the same thing were done to the Jewish or African-American communities, it would not be tolerated.” …

West ultimately issued a half-hearted apology after first denying that there was an issue and claiming it was only a joke. Look at this photograph and caption, and simply scroll through the article collection below containing many references to previous incidents in Tennessee, and consider whether or not a community that has seen so much hate directed towards it would see this as a joke.  In fact, simply change the wording and replace the word “Muslim” with a word descriptive of another community and see what your reaction would be.

how_to_wink_at_a_muslim

The American Muslim Advisory Council decided to host a meeting to allow local Muslims to share with their neighbors about who the Muslim community is, and to talk about American Muslims and public discourse, and they invited a representative of the DOJ and the FBI to attend and talk about what’s considered free speech and what’s illegal hate speech, and where the line is where speech can be prosecuted.    The situation in Tennessee was that there was a lot of tension between the Muslim community and their neighbors.  There had been a series of anti-Muslim incidents, and an elected official had posted something that the Muslim community believed to have crossed the line between protected speech and hate speech.  This is exactly the sort of situation that the DOJ’s community outreach program is designed to address.  Bill Killian, U.S., Attorney of the Eastern District of Tennessee was to speak about the Constitution, the first and fourteenth amendments, and to clarify what constitutes hate speech, and what are the existing legal consequences.

A meeting was arranged and publicized and the Islamophobia network freaked out.  They made a number of ludicrous claims and totally misrepresented the meeting.

An article by Janet Levy titled The Not-So-Veiled Threat to Non-Muslims in Tennessee contains most of the misrepresentations that were repeated endlessly by the Islamophobia echo chamber.

Levy opened by saying that “Claims that American Muslims are loyal citizens, partners in counterterrorism investigations, part of radicalization prevention efforts, and an integral part of American society for centuries fell flat, especially coming from the host organization that was formed only two years ago in response to anti-shariah legislation in the Volunteer State.  A well-informed crowd responded with calls of “taqiyyah” when members of AMAC, a group that bills itself as “a bridge between the Muslim community and law enforcement,” touted Muslim contributions to U.S. society and their dedication to upholding American values. (Taqiyyah doctrine obligates Muslims to deceive infidels as part the required effort or jihad to institute Islamic doctrine or shariah). In actuality, Muslim organizations have specifically instructed Muslims not to cooperate with law enforcement and have demanded that all counterterrorism-training materials be expunged of critical references to Islam and Muslims, as well the training instructors fired or retrained who fail to follow along.”

So, according to Levy, we are to understand that well informed people know that if American Muslims claim to be loyal citizens and an integral part of American society – they are lying (practicing taqiyya) and required to lie by their evil religion.

From there she goes on to make false claims about Muslims being forbidden to befriend non-Muslims, being required to wage jihad to establish a global Islamic government under Sharia, having aspirations to replace the Constitution with shariah, etc.  She also claims that no other group in the United States has been the focus of such a degree of attention and outreach, no outreach to Jews or other communities, the DOJ and FBI have not scheduled meetings addressing the concerns of any other group but Muslims.

This is the usual ploy of the Islamophobes.  No matter what the particular issue at hand, rather than dealing with facts, they throw in every negative aspersion they can to demonize the religion of Islam, and Muslims in general.  It is exhausting to have to constantly respond not only to the particular issue at hand, but to all the bigoted claims added on to prove to their audience that Muslims are somehow unique and dangerous.  All of the claims that Levy makes in her despicable tirade have been previously addressed.  Here are responses to specific charges made by Levy in this article:

— Qur’an 5:51 Can Muslims Have Non-Muslims as Friends? – The Concept of Wilaya in the Qur’an; — How mainstream Muslims understand the term “jihad”;— Islamic Sharia and Jewish Halakha Arbitration Courts;— The Return of the Caliphate?;— The Taqiyya Libel Against Muslims;— American Muslims must defend the Constitution of the United States;— Muslims are a part of our American heritage;— Historic events and people that shaped the American Muslim community;— Does CAIR tell Muslims not to talk to the FBI?The False Claim that Muslims have no programs to counter radicalization;— A defense of free speech by American and Canadian Muslims;— Where is the U.S. Government Getting It’s Information on Islam and Muslims? (training scandals);— FCNA Resolution: On Being Faithful Muslims and Loyal Americans

As to all the other constantly repeated claims about Islam and Muslims, the meaning of terms, interpretation of scripture, etc. please see Resources for dealing with Islamophobia and Islamophobesfor responses to these and numerous other claims.

Actually, having representatives of the DOJ, FBI, or other government agencies speak to minority groups about issues of particular concern to various groups, and about civil rights and constitutional issues is not at all unusual.  Just last month, Attorney General Eric Holder of the DOJ spoke at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Centennial Summit.  In his speech he discussed the history of the fight against anti-Semitism, against discrimination, and for civil rights.  The fact that such work remains unfinished, and that challenges and threats still lie before us.  “And the path to ensuring equality, opportunity, and justice for all – regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or walk of life – still stretches beyond the horizon.”

In fact, a statement Mr. Holder made to the Jewish Anti-Defamation League (ADL) applies equally to this meeting in Tennessee (just replace Jewish community with Muslim community):

That’s why gatherings like this one are so critical. By fostering constructive dialogue, by standing firm against discrimination, by monitoring hateful activities, by studying the roots of extremism, by defending the security of Jewish populations around the globe, and by educating policymakers, law enforcement leaders, and members of the public – ADL is proving every day that the changes we seek are possible. You’re showing that the results our citizens deserve are not beyond our reach. And you’re strengthening the ability of our nation’s Justice Department to advance these vital efforts.

More than three decades ago, ADL stepped to the forefront of this work – pioneering a model hate crime law that has since inspired similar statutes in 45 states and the District of Columbia. Across the country, you’ve helped guide the implementation and enforcement of these and corresponding federal laws – including right here in Washington.

During the 1990s – when I served as United States Attorney for the District of Columbia – I worked closely with David Friedman to create a Hate Crimes Working Group to build engagement between community leaders, prosecutors, law enforcement officials, and the D.C. residents they were sworn to serve. Under my predecessor, Attorney General Janet Reno, this approach was widely replicated across the country. And, on an even larger scale, ADL’s efforts to support and educate law enforcement with innovative training programs – in partnership with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum – have helped to reinforce the values of tolerance and respect for our nation’s diverse population.

To date, more than 80,000 law enforcement officials – including all new FBI agents – have taken part in this training. At every level of today’s Justice Department, my colleagues and I have been proud to work with ADL in broadening the impact of your efforts. We’ve partnered with you to develop cutting-edge resources like the FBI’s new Hate Crime Training Manual. And we’ve been fortunate to stand together in calling for the passage of important legislative tools, including the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act that has enabled us to take these comprehensive efforts to new heights.

…  We can all be proud of the Justice Department’s comprehensive civil rights enforcement efforts – and our ongoing work to bring about long-overdue reforms. We can be encouraged by the results of our close collaboration with ADL – in building new safeguards for vulnerable populations and securing needed changes to help guard against bigotry. Together, we’re upholding the values that have defined this organization over the past century, and the principles that lie at the heart of our justice system.

…  We must also continue to move forward in preserving our democratic ideals and ensuring fair treatment for all – even, and especially, in moments of great difficulty.

…  In July of last year, the Department filed suit against a Tennessee county for discriminating against local Muslims by refusing to allow a new mosque to open. ADL wrote and filed a brief to aid in this case, on behalf of a broad interfaith coalition. The congregation encountered vandalism, threats of violence, and steep public opposition. But the Department obtained a court order requiring county authorities to stand aside and honor First Amendment rights – and the congregation was permitted to worship in their new facility.

This action, and many others like it, prove the Department’s determination to safeguard the core Constitutional protections that stand at the center of who we are as a nation – and that have always empowered the ADL to bridge divides and promote cooperation over conflict. As Americans, we must not allow any group to be stigmatized or alienated. We must not tolerate acts of hatred. And we must reaffirm every day – through our actions as well as our approach – that justice and public safety are not in tension. They rely upon one another.  …

This meeting in Tennessee was exactly the same sort of effort against Islamophobia as previous and continuing efforts against anti-Semitism, homophobia, racism, and other forms of bigotry.

Here are just a few examples of such community meetings and presentations by U.S. Attorneys and other DOJ officials to many different minority communities:

— In Ohio “the office hosts meetings open to the broader community to discuss a wide range of topics. In the past year alone, the U.S. Attorney has spoken to community groups about hate crimes, hosted meetings focused on ways to reduce bullying in schools and convened a meeting a local mosque to hear concerns to security restrictions at airports and border crossings, to name a few.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI convene quarterly meetings with community leaders, interested stakeholders and members of Northern Ohio’s minority communities. The office has partnered with The Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio and holds the meeting in important locations in the community, from a Sikh gurdwara to a center of Cleveland’s Vietnamese community. By sharing our collective experiences and stories, we hope to continue to creat understanding and respect between all our various cultures.”  [url=http://www.justice.gov/usao/ohn/programs/outreach.html]***[url]
— In California “Scams targeting seniors and the elderly are on the rise in the Internet Age and consumer protection experts advise that education is the most important element of a successful fraud prevention program. With that goal in mind, on November 13, 2012, the Central District of California teamed up with Bet Tzedek Legal Services of Los Angeles to produce a short program to educate local seniors on scams and how to avoid being victimized by fraud. U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr., Sandy Samuels of Bet Tzedek and Debbie Deem of the L.A. Regional Office of the FBI led an interactive presentation for seniors.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office participated in a community meeting in conjunction with the “Stand UP and Speak Out Against Bullying” Campaign.  Hosted by the Los Angeles Police Department’s West Valley Division, the Reseda Neighborhood Council and the Reseda Magnet School, the meeting at Reseda H.S. brought together more than 200 students, parents, teachers and other interested parties. ***
— In Alabama, A meeting in Birmingham, Alabama between FBI officials and representatives of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Birmingham-area les­bian, gay, bisexual and transgender organizations.
—- In D.C. U.S. Attorneys, and Police addressed a neighborhood meeting of the Georgetown-Burleith Advisory Neighborhood Commission to discuss urban crime and violence ***.  The D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office staff attend approximately sixty community meetings and events a month. These meetings are held by civic associations, local government, and the Metropolitan Police Department. During these meetings, in an effort to improve transparency in the criminal justice system, community prosecutors educate the community about our Office including giving insight on our bond determinations, charging decisions, and sentencing allocutions. We also educate the community about the inter-workings of the criminal justice system. In an effort to formalize this educational component, we have piloted a new program called “Witness for the Prosecution” Over a period of several sessions, this program educates the community about the criminal justice and our Office’s role in the criminal justice system. In the coming year, we should look towards expanding this program to marginalized communities, such as the Muslim, Ethiopian, Hispanic and Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered communities. Moreover, during these community meetings we receive various nuisance abatement complaints. In an effort to address and document these complaints, we have drafted a Nuisance Abatement form which standardized how we receive complaints and disseminate these complaints to the appropriate agency.  ***  On October 3, 2012, the Civil Rights Division and the Community Relations Service (CRS) of the Department of Justice hosted a Roundtable on Religion-Based Hate Crimes at the Robert F. Kennedy Main Justice Building Conference Center. Representatives from 22 religious and interfaith organizations representing a broad array of religious communities participated in a discussion about data collection and reporting relating to religion-based attacks on individuals and places of worship, and the adequacy of current categories in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports.  Diverse religious groups presented anecdotal and survey evidence about hate crimes against Sikhs and Hindus, as well as against Arab Americans, and recommended that these be added as categories in the Uniform Crime Reports to help better understand religious and ethnicity-based hate crimes. Changes to the FBI Uniform Crime Reports are considered by the Criminal Justice Information Services Advisory Policy Board, a board made up of federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement officials and subject matter experts. The Board then makes recommendations to the FBI Director. ***
— In Arizona, the Southern Arizona Hate Task Force met with elected officials, the acting U.S. Attorney and members of the FBI in forums designed to inform the public about how they can report allegations of police misconduct, about the elements of a hate crime, and what to do if they have been a victim of a hate crime. They’ve even launched a website designed to provide community members with factual information about hate crimes and links to important local resources.  ***  U.S. Attorney Burke’s civil rights focus has been instrumental in addressing community conflict by recognizing that some communities, particularly those of color, race, gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity, are at higher risk of discrimination and the possible threat of violence. The office has held community civil rights forums to ensure that people are aware of their civil rights and know whom to contact if they or someone they know is a victim of a hate crime. U.S. Attorney’s Office personnel have also reached out to local law enforcement and provided training on the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, forging partnerships that have facilitated better communication among state, local, and federal agencies.  Through the efforts of its Civil Rights Unit and Community Outreach component, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona has held community forums with Latino and African American communities to address issues of immigration and police misconduct. The office has also conducted community forums that target faith-based groups, including interfaith groups, boards of Rabbis, and outreach to Arizona’s Islamic centers. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona also regularly holds forums with sexuality and gender identity-based communities to build trusting relationships with law enforcement.  ***
— In Minnesota, in the aftermath of the burning of an Amish barn, CRS worked with Amish leaders and local police to develop an agenda for a town hall style meeting. The town hall meeting provided non-Amish community members with an understanding of the history and background on the Amish way of life in an effort to prevent future misunderstandings, biased-based incidents, and hate crimes. ***
— In Connecticut, Civil rights outreach by US Attorneys of the DOJ included:  Visits to two New Haven schools in celebration and recognition of Black History Month. Our presentations to students at Micro Society Magnet School and Hill Central Music Academy began with a discussion of prominent African Americans in recent history and important moments in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. We then engaged the students in a discussion about hate crimes by using the example of a civil rights prosecution handled by this office, asking the students “What would you do?” and “How would you feel?” if you were a victim of or witness to the offensive conduct. We finished with a vibrant discussion about bullying and its consequences. They joined with the FBI’s Atlanta Division to host the nation’s first community conference to discuss implementing and enforcing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. We recognized that members of the community, and particularly those citizens who the new law is primarily designed to protect, may not be knowledgeable about the changes in the law. Moreover, we believed that state and local officers, who are the first responders to incidents that might qualify as hate crimes, needed training not only on the changes to the statute, but also on enhancing their community outreach efforts so that victims are empowered to report violations. Consequently, we convened members of community groups along with hundreds of officers and agents from local, state and federal law enforcement organizations for a day-long event at Georgia State University in Atlanta. Through speakers and panel discussions, participants shared important information about investigating, prosecuting and preventing hate crimes, while also encouraging communications and building trust between law enforcement and these community groups. ***

This meeting, unlike the hundreds of other meetings across the country with various minority groups, did not go smoothly, and was overwhelmed by the followers of Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer who had posted appeals to meet in Tennessee for a protest against what they termed an attempt to take away their right to freedom of speech and “impose Sharia blasphemy laws” in the U.S.

Here is what then took place:

Nashville Scene posted the entire 1 hour and 39 minute VIDEO of the event.

Charles Johnson reported Pamela Geller at Tennessee Anti-Muslim Protest: “Without Freedom of Speech We Must Resort to Violence”.  He includes a video that Geller posted of her speech to the crowd outside the meeting and he notes that “Geller even hints around about using violence against Muslims, starting at about 4:50 into the video.  Geller says:  There are no Jews, they’re all leaving Norway. They’re fleeing France, they’re fleeing the UK. Christians can’t wear a cross in the UK. For us, Europe’s a cautionary tale. We are only five to ten years behind Europe.  And I will tell you that freedom of speech is a line in the sand because, without freedom of speech peaceful men must resort to violence. [shouting] AND WE DON’T WANT TO!  Right, you don’t want to. (Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.)”

Other statements by Geller in the course of her tirade:  – The first amendment protects all speech, not just speech that we like – We’re speaking out against the most brutal and oppressive ideology on the planet – Truth is the new hate speech – The justice dept under the Obama admin has become a de facto legal arm of the Muslim Brotherhood – We need an army, the time is now to stand up …

NEWS21 reported Muslim group’s TN forum with feds disrupted by heckling  “During the keynote speech given by Bill Killian, U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Tennessee, audience members continually interrupted, making it difficult to understand what was said. Killian brought a PowerPoint presentation that covered the First and 14th amendments and what constitutes a hate crime, among other things. He read the First Amendment verbatim, between interruptions. …  Former “Saturday Night Live” star Victoria Jackson was among the protesters.  “The Constitution and Sharia cannot coexist,” she said. “Islam is evil.”

A Times Free Press article U.S. Attorney Bill Killian greeted by hostile crowd at Manchester, Tenn., free speech event included this strange statement:  “Some people at the impromptu rally were handing out anti-Islamic literature, other patriotic materials and some Christian materials as several speakers were using a megaphone to work up the crowd.  One man’s sign read: “In America, you are free to practice your religion, and I am free to insult it.”  I would hope that this was a typo, and that they did not actually mean to say that “anti-Islamic literature” is equivalent to “other patriotic materials”.

Pam Strickland wrote in the Knox News Irony goes over protesters’ heads.  She gives a detailed description of events during the meeting including:  “… During the outdoor rally, one woman with a bullhorn declared that “Islam does not deserve the protection of the First Amendment.” Others carried anti-Muslim signs.  None of the signs spoke of religions other than Islam, but the underlying theme was that Christianity was the preferred religion the First Amendment was written to protect. If that were the case, why would we need the First Amendment? Some would say to protect different Christian denominations. Only that’s not what the First Amendment says. It says religion, and it doesn’t have any exceptions written into it. It protects all religions — period.  … ”

An editorial in the Tullahoma News Actions at diversity meeting shameful  noted that:

There was no door to stand in front of that kept black students from entering, and there were no police officers arresting black citizens as they attempted to eat at a counter with the words “whites only” emblazoned on the wall above their heads.  But little else distinguished Tuesday night’s event at the Manchester-Coffee County Conference Center from those hate-filled, racist gatherings of days past.

Organized and sponsored by the American Muslim Advisory Council, headquartered in Murfreesboro, the event, called “Public Disclosure in a Diverse Society,” was billed as an educational opportunity for the public to learn about American Muslims, as well as how the civil rights of all citizens are protected under the United States Constitution.

It was the result of a recent Facebook reposting by Coffee County Commissioner Barry West in which a man is pictured pointing a gun at a camera with words that read, “How to wink at a Muslim.” West has since apologized for the post and removed it, but not before the story about his posting went viral.

While, undoubtedly, some of the nearly 1,000 people who attended the event and preceding anti-Muslim and “free speech” rally were there to listen and learn, the overwhelming majority had another intention in mind – to intimidate, undermine and disrupt the event.

Their stated reason for being there? To protest what bloggers had called the government’s attempts to take away an individual’s First Amendment rights to post whatever he or she chooses on social media sites without repercussion.  The real reason, however, became apparent shortly after the presentation began.

Wrapped in American flags and waving Bibles, the protesters shouted, “speak English” at a Muslim man who has been in the United States for three decades. They cheered and clapped at photos of a burned mosque in Columbia, Tenn. They booed at photos of American Muslim soldiers killed while serving their country in the United States militaryThey accused all Muslims of being terrorists and yelled at them to “go home.”  Those who couldn’t get inside for the presentation due to overcrowded conditions called law enforcement officers “communists.” One man, who donned a confederate soldier’s cap, shouted, “Mohammed was a pedophile!”

There is no doubt that the majority of the people in Coffee County are embarrassed and ashamed by the actions of the people gathered at this assembly, and that many, if not the majority, of those in attendance, were from out of town. …

And finally, Hate Comes to Manchester, Tennessee by Drost Kokoye.  This is a first-hand account by one of the Muslim attendees/organizers of the “Public Discourse in a Diverse Society” forum, that was disrupted by anti-Islam hate groups in Manchester, TN. Although this incident was widely reported on in various media, many outlets left out the depth of hate that was on display Tuesday evening.

In recent years, there has been an alarming surge in anti-Islam hate group activity in Tennessee, especially in areas such as Rutherford and Coffee Counties.  This virulent hate was fully on display Tuesday night at the “Public Discourse in a Diverse Society” forum in Manchester.

Since 2010, our community has seen a concerted effort being made to demonize the religion of Islam and its adherents, with hate groups from all over the nation using our state as a staging ground for spewing negative propaganda.  This includes the effort to block the construction of the Murfreesboro Mosque, to the faux-outrage created when an elected official mistook a mop-sink in the state legislature for a “Muslim foot-bath.” Legislators who have fallen under the influence of these groups introduced an “anti-Sharia bill,” which would have made the practice of Islam punishable by up to 20 years in prison.  Additionally, we have seen a normalization of increasingly violent rhetoric – such as a Facebook posting by Coffee County Commissioner Barry West, depicting a gun being pointed at Muslims.

Commissioner West’s posting “How to Wink at a Muslim” garnered national attention, due to the overt call to violence against a specific minority group.  Local Muslim groups such as the American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC) and the American Center for Outreach (ACO) immediately asked West to issue an apology, due to the aggressive nature of the post in addition to Mr. West being a public official.  As this story went viral on social media, many key players in the Islamophobia industry latched themselves to the story, criticizing AMAC and ACO for demanding an apology.  Much to the chagrin of the anti-Islam groups, Mr. West issued an apology for his irresponsible post the next day.

Tuesday evening, the American Muslim Advisory Council hosted about “Public Disclosure in a Diverse Society” in Manchester, TN, as an open forum to discuss the dangerous effects of the rhetoric that was espoused by Mr. West in his post.  Those within well-funded Islamophobia Industry – such as Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer from the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) saw this as an ideal opportunity to fan the flames of hate in our back yard.  And while their so-called protest was done so under the guise of “defending free speech,” the reality is that the public is unaware of the nefarious affiliations of such groups.

Geller and Spencer and their organizations are listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as “hate group leaders.”  They hold close affiliations with the English Defense League – a Neo-Nazi affiliated group that has employed violent tactics against the Muslim community in the UK.  Both Geller and Spencer were cited extensively (174 times between the two) in mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik’s manifesto, which was written shortly before he murdered over 80 people in Norway.  To put it plainly, these individuals recognized widely as being extremists – therefore it is highly concerning that so many citizens of Tennessee have bought into their overt message of hate and bigotry.

Groups like the TN Eagle Forum and ACT for America (also listed as nativist and hate groups, respectively) called for thousands of their followers to come to this public forum to “stand up for their first amendment rights” that they claimed AMAC is trying to limit. These groups turned out people from all over Tennessee. Personally, I spoke with folks from Bristol, Sparta, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, and Tullahoma. They showed up in front of the Manchester Coffee County Conference Center hours before the forum. Geller and Spencer joined in around 5:30pm, ensuring the crowd was primed and riled up – including rhetoric that alluded to justifying violence.

After the outdoor protest, waves of people flooded the hall at 6:20pm.  All the seats were taken with in the first five minutes so people started to post up along the walls, near the doors, outside the doors, in the lobby, and all the way out to the entrance of the building.

The AMAC program had yet to begin, when Eagle Forum members (who also brought their own American flag) took it upon themselves to stand up and recite the “Pledge of Allegiance.”  Everyone else in the room, Eagle Forum member or not, joined them, for one of the most aggressive recitations of the Pledge that I’ve ever heard, followed by a long and loud applause.

At 6:30 pm, Zak Mohyuddin, an AMAC Board Member and long time resident of Coffee County, began the forum with an introduction to who and what AMAC is.

Before he could even get a sentence out, he was interrupted by a comment from the audience, “speak English!”

The panel continued as follows:

Zulfat Suara – AMAC Board Chair

Dorothy Zwayyed – AMAC East Tennessee Coordinator

Sabina Mohyuddin – AMAC Board Member and long time Coffee County resident

Bill Killian – U.S. Attorney DOJ Eastern District of Tennessee

Kenneth L. Moore – special agent in charge of the FBI’s Knoxville Division

Throughout the program, the speakers were plagued with interruptions, jeers and epithets being lobbed at them. Whenever examples of cooperation between the American Muslim community and law enforcement were highlighted, the crowd would yell, “Infiltrators,” Terrorists,” and “go home! 

As a representative of the Muslim community who was participating in the forum, the words of hate that I heard spoken on this day are something that I will not forget for a long time.

As I stood up to gather index cards for the Q&A session, a man from the crowd said, “Watch out, she might blow up!”  – Which was met by rousing laughter, rather than disgust.

As one of the Muslim speakers from the event finished, another individual exclaimed “FINALLY!  Can we burn her at the stake now?” – which was also met by laughter and cheers.

When bullying and discrimination that kids face in schools was brought up, one woman yelled,“Leave our children out of this. They hate you.”

Finally, during a portion of the presentation – a picture of a mosque, which had been destroyed by arson, was shown.  Rather than responding with compassion, the hateful attendees responded with applause and cheers.

Although the goal of the forum was to foster dialog and positive engagement – it is clear that Geller, Spencer and the hate groups came to cause divisiveness and hate.  It is saddening that some Tennesseans have succumbed to this temptation, as it brings back dark memories from our nation’s past.  On a positive note, many in attendees from the community greeted us with goodwill and assured us that the haters do not represent them or the majority of people out there.  Though a small gesture, this helped end an otherwise tense night on a positive note.  As we move forward from this eye-opening evening – the hope is that Tennesseans will take the lead in denouncing and marginalizing these fringe groups, while fostering an environment of positivity and inclusion.

Zionism and Islamophobia: Initial Encounters with Islam and Muslims

by Garibaldi

Introduction

This is the first in a series of articles that will discuss the relationship between Zionism and Islamophobia. The impetus for this series is what many have already observed:

1.) Islamophobic polemics within trends of Zionism, the preponderance of Zionists within the Islamophobia movement, the usage of Israeli state symbols and the symbiotic relationship between anti-Muslim groups in the USA and Israel are a present-day reality.

2.) There is a confused and malformed understanding amongst some individuals of Zionism on the one hand and its relationship to Islamophobia. Zionism is not understood in its proper historical context: Why did it form? How has it evolved? What is its effect on Jewish and world history? What is its relationship with the ‘other’?

Some who are confronted with the present day reality of Zionist Islamophobia are in denial of its very existence while others propose answers to the aforementioned questions not based on facts but rather emotional, even hysterical inaccuracies and conspiracies.

The Zionist relationship with Islamophobia enmeshes the discussion of racism, nationalism, human rights and the liberation struggle of Palestinians. It will be the task of this series to clarify these concepts and provide a much-needed dose of realism to any analysis of the subject, beyond the histrionics that can at once serve as a distraction and muddle our conscience.

Initial Encounters with Islam and Muslims

“[T]he Zionist view of Palestine has always considered all Palestinians without regard to class, creed, or locations, as bodies either to be removed or ignored (if possible); and on the other hand, that the Palestinian opposition to Zionist settler-colonialism was a national struggle, enlisting, as it did, segments of political life (in various complex ways of course).” (Zionism from the Standpoint of Its Victims by Edward W. Said, p.10)

The quote from Edward Said accentuates an obvious truth that is important for us to comprehend from the outset: Zionists could care less what creed Palestinians followed. Ever since the publication ofTheodor Herzl‘s (1860-1904) Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State) and the First Zionist Congress (1897) Zionists have organized their collective energy on colonizing the land of Palestine, then a territory under Ottoman control.

The fact that a majority of Palestinians followed Islam was generally inconsequential to Zionist aims. Indeed, if the majority of Palestinians had been Hindu we may very well be discussing Zionism and Hinduphobia today.

While it is true that Zionists were not concerned with Islam as such it is vital to investigate what the early ideologues of modern Zionism had to say about Islam and Muslims; at the very least noting to what extent this has a bearing on how contemporary Zionists relate to Islam and how this relationship has developed over the years.

A necessary overview of the history of Zionism will be the subject of the next article in this series but suffice it to say that Zionism formed in the milieu of 19th century European nationalism, in the heyday of Imperialism, Colonialism–and renewed Antisemitism. Considering that Zionism was a product of 19th century Europe, it is reasonable to presume, and has served as the thesis of several historians that the Orientalist worldview with its inherent biases and prejudices pervaded the Zionist view as well.

Influence of the Jewish Golden Age

One important caveat is that there was amongst 19th century Jews Islamophile trends and a recognition of a Jewish Golden Age under Muslim rule, particularly in medieval Andalusia. Jewish historians such as the early Zionist Heinrich Graetz (1817-1891) were prominent advocates of an idealized version of the Jewish Golden Age, a history that Graetz and others used to serve as a rebuke to the Christian European treatment of Jews.

In this regard there is a glimpse into the attitude of the most pivotal leader of modern Zionism, Theodor Herzl, a mercurial figure whose tactics in the Ottoman Empire were well known. One would think his interaction with the Sublime Porte (the seat of Ottoman authority) would reveal much in the way of his view on Islam and Muslims, however it does not.

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It is in Herzl’s Utopian novel titled, Altneuland,(Old-New Land), that we see some semblance of his views on the subject. Herzl portrayed the Arab characters such as Rashid Bey in a patronizing manner, characterizing them as being grateful to the Jewish immigrants for the “immense benefit” they have brought to the land’s Arab residents. In an echo to Graetz’s work we see Herzl describing Bey as regaling visitors to the land on the “tolerance demonstrated by the Arabs toward Jewish immigration, in the best tradition of Muslim society, which was always more tolerant of the Jews than Christian Europe.”

Another anecdote highlights that the Golden Age views were also imparted on the likes of a youngYigal Allon Paicovitch (1918-1980). In a biography on Allon’s life we are told that Allon viewed Christianity with suspicion, as an age-old persecutor of the Jewish people whereas he did not have similar “misgivings” about Islam and Muslims,

“In Allon’s imagination the Crusades were so tied to the Inquisition that when he traveled to Nazareth with his father he was careful not to bend down near a church lest it be understood as kneeling before the cross. He had no such misgivings about Islam, having learned in school that Muslims were tolerant of Jews, with the emphasis on Spain’s Golden Age.” (Yigal Allon, Native Son: A Biography by Anita Shapira p.33)

Allon who would later become the commander of the Haganah’s Palmach (strike force) between 1945-1948. During the 1948 war, he commanded several military operations (i.e. Operation Yiftah, Dani, and Yoav), and he became famous for being one of the engines behind cleansing the most populated Palestinian areas (i.e. Lydda, Ramla, Safad, Hebron hills, Faluja pocket).

Palestinian Muslims: the descendants of ancient Hebrew farmers

David Ben-Gurion (1886-1973), one of the ‘founding fathers of Israel’ was a hawkish advocate of the dispossession and expulsion of Palestinian Arabs, who stated, “We must expel Arabs and take their places.” (Ben Gurion and the Palestine Arabs: From Peace to War by Shabti Zeveth, p.189)

Interestingly, in Ben-Gurion’s On the Origin of the Falahin he held the view, to be repeated later in his life (in a letter to Charles De Gaulle), that Palestinian Muslim farmers were descendants of ancient Hebrew farmers and that “much Jewish blood flows in their veins.” He describes Palestinian embrace of Islam as a “travesty of [the] times,”

The agricultural community that the Arabs found in Eretz Israel in the 7th century was none other than the Hebrew farmers that remained on their land despite all the persecution and oppression of the Roman and Byzantine emperors. Some of them accepted Christianity, at least on the surface, but many held on to their ancestral faith and occasionally revolted against their Christian oppressors. After the Arab conquest, the Arabic language and Muslim religion spread gradually among the countrymen. In his essay “Ancient Names in Palestine and Syria in Our Times,” Dr. George Kampmeyer proves, based on historico-linguistic analysis, that for a certain period of time, both Aramaic and Arabic were in use and only slowly did the former give way to the latter.
The greater majority and main structures of the Muslim falahin in western Eretz Israel present to us one racial strand and a whole ethnic unit, and there is no doubt that much Jewish blood flows in their veins—the blood of those Jewish farmers, “lay persons,” who chose in the travesty of times to abandon their faith in order to remain on their land.  (Leverur Motsa Ha’FalahimLuach Achiezer, pp. 118-27, reprinted in Anachnu U’Shcheneinu, pp. 13-25.)

There is an apparent contradiction in Ben-Gurion’s statement that Arabic and Islam spread gradually and that Jewish farmers embraced Islam “in order to remain on their land.” The former implies a conscious and free conversion over a period of time and the latter forced conversion. Ben-Gurion’s 1967 letter to De Gaulle would indicate that he advocated the idea of forced conversion.

In either case, Ben-Gurion’s statement is highly interesting in light of the work of Israeli historianShlomo Sand,

Countering official Zionist historiography, Sand questions whether the Jewish People ever existed as a national group with a common origin in the Land of Israel/Palestine. He concludes that the Jews should be seen as a religious community comprising a mishmash of individuals and groups that had converted to the ancient monotheistic religion but do not have any historical right to establish an independent Jewish state in the Holy Land. In short, the Jewish People, according to Sand, are not really a “people” in the sense of having a common ethnic origin and national heritage. They certainly do not have a political claim over the territory that today constitutes Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, including Jerusalem.

Sand’s work also concludes that the progenitors of the Palestinian Arabs were the ancient Jews.

This raises numerous questions: if Ben-Gurion held that many of the “Muslim falahin” were descendants of indigenous Jews why didn’t this factor into his ideology and how did he square this with advocating their expulsion? According to his own ideology aren’t Palestinians more entitled to live in their ancient homeland than European settlers? Do not the Palestinian refugees have a right to return to their homeland?

One can also see the kind of disdain which Ben Gurion held for the “spirit of the Levant” in popular views that he and many fellow Zionists expressed in regard to “Eastern/Sephardic Jews,”

Ben Gurion…described the Sephardi immigrants as lacking even “the most elementary knowledge” and “without a trace of Jewish or human education.” Ben Gurion repeatedly expressed contempt for the culture of the Oriental Jews: “We do not want Israelis to become Arabs. We are in duty bound to fight against the spirit of the Levant, which corrupts individuals and societies, and preserve the authentic Jewish values as they crystallized in the Diaspora.”…Ben Gurion who called the Moroccan Jews “savages” at a session of a Knesset Committee, and who compared Sephardim, pejoratively (and revealingly), to the Blacks brought to the United States as slaves, at times went so far as to question the spiritual capacity and even the Jewishness of the Sephardim. (Sephardim in Israel: Zionism from the Standpoint of Its Jewish Victimsby Ella Shohat, p.4-5)

Imagine, if these were Ben Gurion’s views about the “Oriental Jew,” how much more magnified was his animus towards native Arabs and Muslims?

Exorcising the Islamic Soul From Palestine

Ze’ev (Vladimir) Jabotinsky (1880-1940) the founder of the Revisionist movement within Zionism was perhaps the most explicitly unabashed and hawkish modern Zionist proponent of colonialism, racism and expulsion; central subjects in many of his writings and speeches. Jabotinsky is most famous for his exposition of the “Iron Wall” ideology that no compromise with the Palestinians was possible. Revisionism would eventually spawn the Irgun and Stern Gang terrorists which made names for themselves by using terrorism against innocent civilians.

Lenni Brenner, writing in 1984 noted that Revisionism, once considered the lunatic fringe of Zionism“is now the dominant ideological tendency in present-day Zionism.” (The Iron Wall: Zionist Revisionism From Jabotinsky to Shamir by Lenni Brenner)

I would argue that this holds true today as well (and add Religious Zionism is on the rise), as we have seen with the administrations of Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Netanyahu, and high profile politicians such as Avigdor Lieberman and others.

Jabotinsky’s views were quite emphatic in their degradation of Arab society, especially Muslim society: here he responds in a vitriolic manner to Max Nordau’s (1849-1923) statement that Muslims and Jews share a kinship,

“When he [Jabotinsky] approached Nordau during the war about the establishment of a Jewish legion which was to fight against the Turks, he was told, ‘But you cannot do that, the Muslims are kin to the Jews, Ishmael was our uncle.’ ‘Ishmael is not our uncle’ Jabotinsky replied. ‘We belong thank God, to Europe and for two thousand years have helped to create the culture of the west.’” (A History of Zionism: From the French Revolution to the Establishment of the State of Israel by Walter Laqueur, p. 228)

In his famous “Iron Wall,” Jabotinsky alludes to his belief in the deficient “spirituality” of Palestinian Arabs,

“Culturally they are 500 years behind us, spiritually they do not have our endurance or our strength of will” (Iron Wall by Jabotinsky)

A theme in Jabotinsky’s views is his emphasis that Jewishness is opposed to the East and a “part of the West,” (of course he is speaking only of European and American Jews and completely ignoring Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews), he also alludes to Islam as some sort of demonic spirit that must be exorcized from “Eretz-Yisrael,”

“We Jews, thank God, have nothing to do with the East. . . . The Islamic soul must be broomed out of Eretz-Yisrael. . . . [Muslims are] yelling rabble dressed up in gaudy, savage rags.” (Expulsion of the Palestinians by Nur Masalha, p.29)

Anti-Judaism as Anti-Islam

Arthur Ruppin (1876-1943), one the founders of Brit Shalom, was a proponent of warped racial theories and eugenics who despite his bi-national views still supported the expulsion or in the euphemism of his day “transfer” of Palestinians. Ruppin, like many of his peers and contemporaries was very severe in his criticism of traditional Judaism. In Ruppin’s view Judaism’s main fault is that it is “similar to Islam,” in that it is supposedly anti-intellectual, opposed to criticism and modern science.

Ruppin explained the success of Hassidut as a result of the hard material conditions of the Jews in Eastern Europe: “The spiritual energy of the Jewish people created an imaginary world when the real world was lost to him.” This was the reason the Jews took refuge in the mysticism and superstition offered them by the Hassidic Rabbis.

As already mentioned, Ruppin’s views concerning the Jewish religion were identical to those of Haeckal and Bismark regarding Catholic clericalism. Ruppin, indeed, saw a similarity between Judaism and Catholicism since both of them he believed, were based on prayer, and from that concluded that, like Catholicism, Judaism was still anthropomorphic. However, the most important fault he saw in Judaism was its similarity to Islam. Jewish Orthodoxy and Islam had the same type of faith, a “blind faith,” which did not permit any critical doubts and rejected all the discoveries of modern science. These characteristics differentiated them from “the protestant skeptic type of faith of our times.” What defined the Jewish worldview, according to Ruppin, was its lack of skepticism, its fear of any doubt and its inability to cope with conflicting thoughts: “As soon as he begins to doubt, his fate is sealed, his secession from orthodoxy is a necessary result. The skeptic will never more be a pious Jew.” (Arthur Ruppin and the Production of Pre-Israeli Culture by Etan Bloom p. 79)

These views are, to say the least, overly simplistic and presumptuous, disregarding the variegated and complex nature of both Judaism and Islam.

Judah Leon Magnes

Judah Leon Magnes (1877-1948), a prominent American born Reform Rabbi, was a life-long pacifist, proponent of a bi-national state and vocal critic of attempts to create an exclusive “Jewish state.” Towards the end of his life, in 1948, he withdrew from the AJJDC for ignoring his plea to help Palestinian refugees.

Rabbi Magnes no doubt wrote the following with good intentions,

“It is in derogation of the actual importance of the living Jewish people and of Judaism to place them on one side of the scale and have it balanced by the relatively unimportant Arab community of Palestine. The true parallels and balancing forces are Jews and Judaism on the one side, and the Arab peoples and even all of Islam on the other. In this way you get a truer perspective of the whole and you increase the significance of Palestine as being that point where in this new day Judaism meets Islam again throughout all its confines, as once they met centuries back to the ultimate enrichment of human culture.” (Like other Nations? retrieved from The Zionist Ideaed. by Arthur Hertzberg p.447)

Magnes attempts to relay a hopeful and positive vision of the future in which Judaism and Islam meet together “to the ultimate enrichment of human culture,” but one cannot help but also note the glaring condescension towards Palestinians, crassly described as the “relatively unimportant Arab community of Palestine.”

Religious Zionism

Religious elements, both Orthodox and Reform were generally late to join the political Zionist caravan which was led mostly by secular and non-religious Jews. In time however the religious sects would, with notable exceptions, reconcile themselves to Zionism through compromise and accommodation with the state of Israel.

Instrumental in this process was the main ideologue of modern Religious Zionism, Rabbi Abraham Itzhak Kook (1865-1935).

“Kook saw Zionism as a part of a divine scheme which would result in the resettlement of the Jewish people in its homeland. This would bring salvation (“Geula”) to Jews, and then to the entire world. After world harmony is achieved by the refoundation of the Jewish homeland, the Messiah will come.”

Historically Judaism’s relationship with Islam and attitude towards Muslims has been unique. Maimonides formulated the decisive majority opinion that Islam like Judaism was definitely a monotheistic faith, this had all sorts of repercussions for Halacha (Jewish law). For instance Jews could worship in a mosque whereas they could not worship in a church, Jews could take benefit from wine handled by a Muslim whereas they could not by a Christian.

While Islam was viewed as special this should not mislead us into the relativist belief that Judaism advanced some sort of Perennialist theology. Indeed, like all religions Judaism in its Orthodox form is exclusivist, especially when it comes to the ‘Promised Land.’

In fact there are sources within Orthodox Judaism that can be used to dehumanize the non-Jew, to view and treat the non-Jew as inferior and unequal. We have witnessed many such cases in the past few decades with the rise and expansion of extremist Jewish fundamentalism in Israel.

Early modern Religious Zionists were not immune from expressing such racist views. Rabbi Kook has been quoted as saying that the souls of non-Jews are inferior “in all different levels” to that of Jews. (Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel by Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky, p. xix)*

In the wrong hands such attitudes can reinforce the mentality and culture that produces and celebrates terrorists such as Baruch Goldstein and Yigal Amir, that offers no compromise when it comes to dismantling and evicting settlements and reaching a just solution to apartheid occupation.

Reconciliation?

I believe it is appropriate lastly to cite Yitzhak Epstein (1862-1943), one of the few Zionists who was a Palestinian. Epstein lived with Bedouins for eight months, an experience that led him to publish two books in Hebrew on Bedouins. At the same time he worked in intelligence gathering for the Jewish Agency Political Department and became a leading “Arab specialist.”

Epstein uttered what I believe are prophetic words regarding his belief that Zionists must reconcile themselves to the “peoples of Islam.”

“We must reconcile ourselves to all the peoples of Islam; if we don’t we are lost.”(Palestine Jewry and the Arab Question by Neil Caplan)

If one were to ask if such a reconciliation has been reached today the question would be treated as rhetorical, as present day circumstances reveal the answer to be a resounding “no.” The question is why is this the case? Why are so many Zionists today violently opposed to Islam and Muslims, in fact holding onto the belief and strategy of a war with Islam? (This will be answered in a future article in this series).

Conclusion

This article has not exhausted the topic of the initial encounters between modern Zionism, Islam and Muslims, for instance I have not discussed the work of Zionist authors such as Moshe Smilansky(1874-1953) who wrote a number of novels involving Arabs and Muslims. It does however uncover what I feel are fairly representative views from a wide spectrum of currents; Socialist, Revisionist and Religious–including very influential leaders of Zionism.

It is helpful in the context of the period discussed in this article to speak about Zionism in relationship to the paradigm of Orientalism, in fact there is a wealth of historical literature on this topic over the past few decades. The imagination of Zionist literature, film, ideology and political policy has been infused with Orientalisms of one variety or another from the very beginning,

“Several writers on Israel and its neighbors have suggested in recent years ways to apply Edward Said’s fascinating thesis on the connection between Orientalism as a profession and deep-seated anti-Islamic attitudes in the West in general. Aziza Khazum has shown how the history of the Jewish people in modern times can fruitfully be described as a continuous series of “Orientalizations,” that is, an elite trying to block the advance of an upcoming minority group by dubbing it “Oriental,” meaning devoid of “real” culture and hence not worthy of equal treatment. Ella Shohat has applied the same idea to the history of early Zionist films, where the Arab is depicted as a brutal and cultureless creature whose objection to Zionism lacks rational grounding. Said himself first analyzed Orientalism as a cultural outgrowth of the West and then started to apply that idea to the Zionist venture itself.” (Zionism, Orientalism and the Palestinians by Haim Gerber, p.1)

I have not in any depth covered the deep racism against the indigenous Palestinian Arabs, seeking to separate that out from views regarding Islam and Muslims; at times it is not possible, as the two are interwoven. What we have then are attitudes that comport to well known bigoted Orientalist racism, stereotypes, prejudices, and a few romanticized notions of the ‘other.’

The view of many of the early leading Zionists is a reaffirmation of the presumed ontological distinction between West and East, i.e. that the very being of Western Jews is essentially different than that of the Palestinian Arabs and Muslims.

*I want to point out clearly that I in no way support Shahak’s bigotry against Judaism. I am only leaving up the citation since the quote by R. Abraham Kook is authentic.

Islamophobes discover ludicrous “hospital jihad” plot

A proposed Muslim surgical facility in a Chicago suburb elicited the usual fear and conspiracy theory mongering that is the m.o. of Islamophobes. The center’s proposal was rejected today by state boardfor reasons unrelated to the Islamophobes but this stands as another instance of the Islamophobia crowd fabricating headlines.

Sheila Musaji has the story:

Islamophobes discover ludicrous “hospital jihad” plot

Chicago Business reported that “Dr. Naser Rustom plans to open the first outpatient surgery center in Illinois that he says will follow Islamic law.  …  He proposes to establish a $5.5 million medical facility in southwest suburban Orland Park that would cater to Muslims, including space for prayer and ritual washing and partitions for enhanced patient privacy. … Patients of all religious and cultural backgrounds will be treated at the center, which will not be different from other surgery centers except “to the trained eye.”

Summary of the facts:  a Muslim doctor has applied for permits to open a hospital in an area of Chicago with a large Muslim population.  The hospital would be for the entire community, no matter what their religion, but would accommodate Muslim religious and cultural customs to make Muslim patients more comfortable.

The Islamophobes were on this right way.  Debbie Schlussel, for example, posted New SHARIAH/ISLAM-ONLY Medical Center to Open in Chicago.  Schlussel introduces an article about this planned hospital with this comment:  “More and more, America becomes Islamerica. And here’s yet another example. But this is only the symptom, not the problem: a growing Muslim population that has metastasized and is a ticking population timebomb–through immigration (legal and illegal) and birth rate. A Muslim doctor, who also owns a Chicago Middle East restaurant (where you should NOT eat, or you are financing shariah), is opening a shariah-compliant medical center. You can bet, by the way, that the government will not force the constructs of Obamacare down the throats of these Muslims, just Catholic-operated hospitals and the like. (On the other hand, I’ve repeatedly told you about the medical jihadists–how Islamic doctors treat non-Muslim patients, so maybe it’s better if Muslim doctors treat only other Muslims. Sadly, that ain’t how it works.)”

Schlussel is Jewish, and for an American Jew to find this proposed hospital to be some sinister Muslim plot is unbelievable.  But since she seems unable to even read the article to note that the hospital would be open to all, and not “Islam Only” as her title falsely claims, I suppose she might just be that ignorant.

Schussel was not the only Jewish Islamophobe to show this level of ignorance.  Bonni Benstock-Intall of Bare Naked Islam titled her “expose” COMING SOON TO CHICAGO: Islamic Female Genital Mutilation.  And, Daniel Pipes wrote Islamists in the Hospital Ward in which he says “A Muslim surgery center in Chicago: It was inevitable: not fitting in to normal medical facilities, Islamists would have their own. But who would imagine the trend starting in a Chicago suburb, Orland Park, where Dr. Naser Rustom, an internist, plans to build a $5.5 million surgical center?”  This issue of hospitals that cater to Muslim patients truly bothers the Islamophobes.  Pamela Geller & Creeping Sharia previously called Muslim hospitals “hospital jihad”.

This is an obvious attempt to create a story out of nothing.  The concept behind this hospital catering to Muslim patients is well-established in the Jewish community.

The Visiting Nurse Service of New York has an article online that states:

“We understand the importance of delivering culturally sensitive care and serving the unique needs of all of our patients. We know you and your loved ones live in New York but may be most comfortable with nurses and other professionals who are sensitive to each patient’s cultural needs, customs and religious background.  At VNSNY, we’ve tailored our comprehensive home health care and community-based services to New York City’s Jewish population—the largest Jewish community outside of Israel.

Our health professionals include nurses, therapists, home health aides, social workers, and translators who provide every type of care from mental health services to managing medications. They attend our La Bre Oot program, where they receive specialized training to recognize and understand the unique cultural needs and customs of their Jewish patients, particularly the laws and practices of Orthodox Jewish clients. Our staff members take those traditions into account when they care for you and your family. They are especially sensitive to:

Kosher dietary and nutritional practices and their relationship to medical conditions and continuing health
Laws of the Sabbath and holidays
Family dynamics in the care of the elderly and those with disabilities
Educating patients and families on medical conditions and treatments
In addition, VNSNY works closely with leading Jewish physicians, and we have nurses on-site at the major hospitals and medical centers that cater to the Jewish community, including Mt. Sinai, Beth Israel, NYU, Maimonides, and Lenox Hill. In addition, our relationships with the many community-based organizations that cater to New York’s Jewish population allow us to help our patients access the appropriate resources available in their neighborhoods.

An article To cater to the Orthodox community, back to basics reports that:

 

“Monmouth Medical Center, where more and more Orthodox Jewish patients from Lakewood are coming to give birth, is sensitive to cultural and religious needs. … To accommodate the growing Orthodox community in Long Branch, Deal and Lakewood, many physicians are opening offices nearby. “It’s a big part of what we do here,” said Dr. Dominick Lobraico where 35 percent of the practice’s births are to Orthodox parents.  The hospital operates a program to treat Orthodox patients and their families with sensitivity and educates its staff to do the same. … Because of a prohibition against the operation of mechanical devices on the Sabbath, Monmouth Medical Center has established a Sabbath entrance, which is a manual door, and a Sabbath stairwell to patient rooms so observant Jews do not have to use the elevator. … The Eisenberg Family Center offers a unit of private rooms for new mothers, with sofas in case a new father wants to stay the night. That unit also includes kosher kitchenettes and areas for prayer. Prayer shawls are located in a nearby bookcase.”

These Jewish Islamophobes continue to stir up the bigots, and as I wrote previously May Regret Stirring Up a Hornet’s Nest of Bigotry.  Their anti-Muslim prejudice is clouding their judgement about how closely anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, and all other forms of bigotry are linked.  Encouraging and condoning bigotry towards any minority ultimately can come to hurt all minorities.  Their ravings against Islam and Muslims are appealing to a certain segment of the population who need to have someone to blame and to look down on.  It is if she is taking a stick and sticking it into a hive of hornets and shaking it around and hoping they can control who those hornets sting.

Toronto Board of Rabbis Denounce Pamela Geller

A very welcome condemnation of Pamela Geller by prominent Toronto area Rabbis.

One small issue I have is with describing Geller’s activities as “criticism.” Criticism is not the right word but understandably the more accurate “batsh** crazy rants” to describe Geller’s activities wouldn’t fit the professional language required of an official press release.:

Toronto Board of Rabbis Denounce Pamela Geller

Toronto Board of Rabbis

President Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl Vice-President Rabbi Debra Landsberg Secretary Rabbi Martin Lockshin Treasurer Rabbi David Seed Executive Director Rabbi Michal Shekel

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 13, 2012

The Toronto Board of Rabbis (TBR) expresses its profound disappointment that a local Jewish organization has extended an invitation to Pamela Geller, a blogger who is known for her extreme criticism of Muslims in language that is intended to shock and ridicule.

The TBR is a strong supporter of freedom of speech for all, including Ms. Geller. Ms. Geller’s voice and message are already well known here in Canada and beyond. There was no sense in inviting her here to Toronto to speak before a Jewish audience. Sadly the only sure result of this event will be increasing tensions within the Jewish community and between Jews and Muslims in Toronto.

The TBR, which represents rabbis from all denominations of Judaism, wishes to make clear to all that it finds the invitation distasteful, just as it finds Ms. Geller’s views distasteful. We dissociate ourselves from the actions of the radical fringe Jewish group that extended the invitation. We call for more events here in Toronto that will build up friendship and understanding between local Jews and Muslims.

Media Contact: Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl, TBR president 416.781.3511
4600 Bathurst Street Toronto, Ontario M2R 3V3

Please note that our members will be unavailable from sundown Tuesday through sundown Thursday due to the observance of Shavuot (Festival of Weeks).

Tel: 416.849.1004 Fax: 416.631.6373 e-mail: informaton@torontoboardofrabbis.org

Via. Loonwatch

Ahavath Torah Congregation and Great Neck Synagogue Give Platform to Hate Group Leaders

Ahavath_Torah_Congregation

by Emperor

It is sad and dangerous when a religious institution actively allows itself to be used as a platform for hate-mongers who have inspired terrorists and incite hatred and prejudice against Muslims.

Ahavath Torah Synagogue, led by the Betraying Rabbi Jon Hausman has a long history of allowing itself to be used in such a way, for instance making the pulpit available to the likes of Geert “no religious freedom for Muslims” Wilders and Wafa “nuke ‘em” Sultan.

Both Ahavath Torah Synagogue and Great Neck Synagogue should be ashamed of themselves; real embarrassments to Judaism.

Lars Hedegaard, Robert Spencer, Andrew Bostom, Tiffany Gabbay to speak on panel discussion regarding “Sharia’s Assault on Free Speech.”

Lars Hedegaard
Robert Spencer
Tiffany Gabbay
Dr. Andrew Bostom
Moderated by Michael Graham*

Each of these individuals possess deep knowledge forged by years of involvement. No doubt this will prove to be an enlightening evening.

*This event is co-sponsored by Act for America and Michael Graham’s “New England Talk Network”.

When: Wednesday March 20, 2013
Time: 7:00PM
Address: Ahavath Torah Congregation, 1179 Central Street, Stoughton, MA
Price: $15 per person in advance, $20/$25 at the door, $10 for students with valid student ID.

Pamela “the looniest blogger ever” Geller will be speaking to Great Neck Synagogue:

On Sunday Morning, April 14, at 10:00am, the Great Neck Synagogue Men’s Club presents Pamela Geller, Founder of the influential “Atlas Shrugs” blog and Executive Director of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and Stop Islamization of America (SIOA).

Geller will be introduced by Greg Buckley, whose son, Lance Corporal Greg Buckley, Jr., was one of three Marines killed in a “Green on Blue” insider attack on his military base in the Helmand province, Afghanistan on Aug 10.

Related:
ACT! For America is Better Known as Hate! For America

#MyJihad: San Francisco Tells Hate Group Leaders Pamela Geller & Robert Spencer To Hit The Road

MyJihad4

We covered the #MyJihad ad campaign back in December, a campaign that seeks to reclaim the term Jihad from Muslim and anti-Muslim extremists alike. The response from Islamophobes has been nothing short of shrill, quixotically they want nothing more than to highlight and advance the “Jihad of Bin Laden as the correct Jihad.”:

These advertisements challenge the prevailing idea about Jihad being foremost about “Holy War,” a view which is most enthusiastically propagated by the hate group AFDI/SIOA and their founders Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer (whose Ad campaigns this past year have sent an opposite message of hate and racism.)

In response to the bus ads Islamophobes are going berserk, which is understandable as they have pegged their careers and lives on demonizing Islam and Muslims. The question I would ask is: If Muslims are telling you that they don’t believe in the “Jihad” of Bin Laden why tell them they have their religion wrong? What interest does it serve Geller and Spencer to propagate the Jihad of Bin Laden as the correct Jihad? That seems to be the height of absurd Islamophobia.

Recently, Geller and Spencer have put up response ads to the #MyJihad campaign, however not only have they been shown to be the kooks that they are but the money they spent on the ads are being used to fund Human Rights research on discrimination against Muslims!

Controversial ad campaign appears on San Francisco buses

by Claudine Zap

Bus ads many believe are anti-Muslim have roared into San Francisco. The campaign, sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), includes one running on 10 of the city’s Muni buses with an image of Osama bin Laden, the burning twin towers and the tagline, “That’s his jihad. What’s yours?”

The ads supposedly quote from extremists. One attributes a statement from the militant group Hamas, which reads: “Killing Jews is worship that brings us closer to Allah.”

AFDI had beat back an attempt by New York City’s transit authority to block a similar campaign in that city’s subway system. Comparable ads have run in Chicago and Washington, D.C.

San Francisco officials have condemned the campaign, but they have allowed them to run. The $5,000 the group paid to Muni will go to the Human Rights Commission to study discrimination against the Islamic community, according to the city.

“These offensive ads serve no purpose than to denigrate our city’s Arab and Muslim communities,” District Attorney George Gascon told local ABC News on Monday. The city has also created a campaign of its own to counter the ads.