Stop Trying to Split Gays and Muslims

Geller is attempting to pinkwash Islamophobia, but many in the LGBT and Muslim communities will not allow it to happen.

Chris D. Stedman, a humanist, who is also homosexual has been an outspoken fighter against anti-Muslim bigotry and takes on Geller and her cohorts’ claim that they have support from the gay community head on.

Homosexuality is a controversial topic in many Muslim American communities in which there is heated debate about the topic, but there appears to be a consensus that despite disagreements on homosexuality, respect and support for equal rights before the law, especially in the case of the marginalized has to be part and parcel of securing ones own rights.

Stop trying to split gays and Muslims

Anti-Islam crusader Pam Geller’s effort to foment hate between the two groups is based on lies and doomed to fail

BY 

I have an earnest and sincere question for the LGBT community: Do you support Pamela Geller?

Geller, who is one of the most active proponents of anti-Muslim attitudes in the United States, rose to notoriety as one of the key instigators of the Park51 backlash, misrepresenting a proposed Islamic Community Center (think a YMCA or Jewish Community Center) by calling it the “Ground Zero mosque” and engaging in dishonest rhetoric and blatant fear-mongering. Her organization, Stop the Islamization of America, was identified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization, alongside extremist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and Nazis. And it’s earned that label — Geller and her allies have dedicated countless hours and millions upon millions of dollars to drum up hatred, fear and xenophobia toward Muslims.

Last week I learned that Geller and one of her biggest allies, Robert Spencer, are hosting a fundraiser for their anti-Muslim advertisements on the website Indiegogo. This disturbed me for a number of reasons, but particularly because Indiegogo’s terms explicitly prohibit “anything promoting hate.” (Despite reports from me and many others, Indiegogo has so far declined to remove the fundraiser; if so inclined, you can let them know what you think about that here.)

While I was looking into this, I discovered that Geller recently announced plans to run a series of anti-Muslim advertisements in San Francisco quoting Muslim individuals making anti-LGBT statements. Why? Because members of San Francisco’s LGBT community criticized other anti-Muslim ads she has run there.

I tweeted my appreciation that the LGBT community in San Francisco is standing up against her efforts to drive a wedge between LGBT folks and Muslims. Soon after, Geller retweeted me, claiming that she in fact has “huge support in Gay community.” Immediately, her supporters began to lob insults and even threats at me; Spencer himself suggested that I should be rewarded for supporting Muslims by someone “saw[ing] off [my] head.” (Meanwhile, though Geller, Spencer and their supporters kept tweeting at me that Muslims “hate gays” and want to kill me, many Muslim friends and strangers alike tweeted love and support for LGBT equality at me.)

As things settled down, I realized that Geller had stopped responding to me when I requested more information to back up her assertion that she has “huge support in Gay community,” after the only evidence she provided was a link to a Facebook group with 72 members. I’ve since asked her repeatedly for more information, but have not gotten a response.

I couldn’t think of a single LGBT person in my life that would support her work, but I didn’t want to go off of my own judgment alone. So I started asking around. It wasn’t hard to find prominent members of the LGBT community who do not share Geller’s views.

“The idea that the LGBT community should support Islamophobia is offensive and absurd,” said Joseph Ward III, director of Believe Out Loud, an organization that empowers Christians to work for LGBT equality. “[American Muslims] are our allies as we share a common struggle to overcome stereotypes and misconceptions in America.”

“Trying to drive a wedge between the LGBT community and other communities is old, tired and [it] doesn’t work,” said Ross Murray, director of News and Faith Initiatives for GLAAD. “Pitting two communities [like the Muslim and LGBT communities] against one another is an attempt to keep both oppressed. Wedge strategies are offensive and, in the long run, they do not work. Geller is not an LGBT ally — she’s posing as one because it is convenient to her [anti-Muslim] agenda.”

“As with any attempts at a wedge, these efforts seek to erase the real and powerful reality of LGBT Muslims and seek to create a false dichotomy: All the LGBT people are non-Muslim/Islamophobic and all the Muslims are straight and homophobic,” said Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, program director of the Institute for Welcoming Resources at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “Particularly given the oppression, marginalization, hatred and violence visited upon the LGBTQ community, it is critically important that we use our spiritual, communal and political power to speak out against the victimization and vilification of any other community. As a Christian lesbian, I must stand against any attempts to victimize another because of their personhood.”

“There’s no doubt that there’s a great deal of religion-based bigotry against LGBT people, although it’s hardly limited to Islam. The Hebrew Scriptures also prescribe the death penalty for some homosexual conduct, but you don’t typically see people using this to inflame anti-Semitic or anti-Christian sentiment,” said John Corvino, author of “What’s Wrong With Homosexuality?” and coauthor of “Debating Same-Sex Marriage.” “To single out Muslims in this way is both unhelpful and unfair.”

Despite her claim, the work of Geller and her colleagues has plenty of opposition in the LGBT community. Why?

For starters, it’s wrong.

As Junaid Jahangir writes in a recent piece at the Huffington Post, “[Geller’s] selective references provide a misguided view of the current Muslim position on queer rights issues.” He rightly notes that her advertisements lift up the views of a controversial Muslim cleric, but ignore the “over 2,500 Muslim intellectuals from 23 countries [that] not only called for an international treaty to counter such clerics, but also called for a tribunal set by the United Nations Security Council to put them on trial for inciting violence.” In his piece, which is a must-read, Jahangir goes on to quote many influential, pro-equality Muslim leaders. Pointing to the activism they are doing to support LGBT rights, he demonstrates that Geller is unfairly — and dangerously — presenting a skewed picture of Muslim views on LGBT people.

“There’s no question that homophobia is rampant among the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims — but that doesn’t negate the fact that there are huge groups of Muslims who have easily reconciled their faith and sexual orientation, like LGBT people in other faith communities,” said Reza Aslan, author of “No God but God” and “Beyond Fundamentalism,” in a recent phone interview. “For a woman who leads an organization that has been labeled a hate group to try to reach out to a community like the LGBT community, by trying to make a connection based on bigotry, is harmful and ridiculous. Bigotry is not a bridge.”

Of course, members of the LGBT community are right to be concerned about the dangers of religious extremism and totalitarianism — whether it is Christian, Muslim or any other expression. But demonizing another community won’t help reduce the influence of religious fundamentalism.

You can be honest about your disagreements without being hateful. I’m a queer atheist, and I believe that there are ideas and practices promoted by Muslims in the name of Islam that are not only false — they’re extremely harmful. But to rally against Muslims and Islam as if they and it are some monolithic bloc is counterproductive; it creates enemies where we need allies. There are many Muslims who oppose cruelty and violence done in the name of Islam and favor equality for all people, and they are positioned to create change. We should be working with them, not standing against all of Islam. Based on my own experiences, I know that this is a much more constructive approach. In my book “Faitheist,” I tell several stories about Muslim friends who are not only accepting of my sexual orientation, but are also fierce allies for LGBT equality.

That’s the problem with Geller’s advertisements, and with sweeping, generalizing statements about entire groups of people: They don’t account for the diversity of ideas and traditions that exist within any given community. Geller focuses on a ridiculously tiny minority of Muslim extremists in order to paint her picture of Islam, and in doing so she neglects to account for the rich and varied traditions of generosity, selflessness, social progress and forgiveness present within Islam. Not only that, but her efforts alienate key allies — Muslim and non-Muslim alike — who share her concerns about Muslim extremists, but who also recognize that her narrow approach is unfair and dishonest.

Instead of adopting Geller’s approach, LGBT people should focus on building relationships. After all, support for marriage equality more than doubles among people who know a gay person. The Pew Research Center reports that of the 14 percent of Americans who changed their mind and decided to support gay marriage in the last decade, 37 percent (the largest category) cited having “friends/family/acquaintances who are gay/lesbian” as the primary reason. The second largest group in this astounding shift, at 25 percent, said they became more tolerant, learned more and became more aware.

In 2011, I wrote an essay encouraging more cooperation and solidarity between the LGBT community and the Muslim community:

[In 2009], a Gallup poll demonstrated something the LGBTQ community has known for some time: People are significantly more inclined to oppose gay marriage if they do not know anyone who is gay. Similarly, Time Magazine cover story featured revealing numbers that speak volumes about the correlation between positive relationships and civic support. Per their survey, 46 percent of Americans think Islam is more violent than other faiths and 61 percent oppose Park51, but only 37 percent even know a Muslim American. Another survey, by Pew, reported that 55 percent of Americans know “not very much” or “nothing at all” about Islam. The disconnect is clear: When only 37 percent of Americans know a Muslim American, and 55 percent claim to know very little or nothing about Islam, the negative stereotypes about the Muslim community go unchallenged.

The Muslim and LGBTQ communities face common challenges that stem from the same problem—that diverse communities don’t have robust and durable civic ties. This is why the Muslim and LGBTQ communities ought to be strong allies.

I continue to believe this, and Geller’s work isn’t helping. Geller, Spencer, and their supporters are wrong to try to pit the queer community against Muslims. Their efforts to force a wedge between us and the Muslim community are little more than fear-mongering — a tactic that has long been used to keep the LGBT community marginalized and oppressed.

Read the rest…

Fox News Reignites Islamophobic Campaign Against The ‘Ground Zero Mosque’

Yup, Fox is really trying to dredge this “issue” up again.

Fox News Reignites Islamophobic Campaign Against The ‘Ground Zero Mosque’

By Hamed Aleaziz on Dec 10, 2012, ThinkProgress

Fox News is again trying to drum up “controversy” around the Park51 Islamic community center in Manhattan. On Sunday, Fox Nation re-published a New York Post article claiming that “community programs” no longer exist at Park51, just Muslims praying. From there, Fox and Friends discussed the latest “development” on Park51. “It’s all pray and no play,” host Gretchen Carlson said and complained that the center isn’t hosting community programs and is instead attracting Muslims for prayer. Noted Islamophobe Donald Trump cited the oft-repeated far-right claim that Muslims built the community center to celebrate victory on 9/11:

GRETCHEN CARLSON: It’s all pray and no play. The controversial Ground Zero Mosque was supposed to be a cultural center, but it turns out it’s now an empty space with no community programs. Dozens of worshipers gather at the site for prayer services, but that’s pretty much the only activity in the building aside from a small martial arts class.

BRIAN KILMEADE: … Donald, do you want to finance the mosque downtown?

STEVE DOOCY: The Mosque-erade

DONALD TRUMP: No, I don’t think so, I’d certainly buy the site. But I don’t think it’s an appropriate use of the site. A lot of people don’t. You know, in the Arab world, when they have victory, they like to build a Mosque at that site. It’s very strongly out there. I think this is a terrible idea. It shouldn’t be done and let’s see what happens…

Watch it:

Fox is recycling rhetoric from more than two years ago when anti-Islam activists like Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer led an all-out war in their attempt to prevent the cultural center from opening. At the time, Fox News became a major broadcaster of their Islamophobicagenda. Back then, Fox gave anti-Islam activists a platform to make their virulent attacks against the proposed Park51 community center.

Multiple news organizations, like the Washington Post, debunked the fearmongering, pointing out that the “stated point of the project is creating a world where Jews, Christians and Muslims connect again in a way that builds mutual understanding and respect. This is precisely the opposite goal of the 9/11 terrorists.” Conservatives like Orrin Hatch supported Park51. And New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke up in favor of the center as well, saying that freedom of religion should be tolerated.

As far as Fox’s new angle goes, it’s hardly a new development that the center serves as a place of worship; it was always slated to provide a home for Muslim worshipers in Manhattan. And the lack of cultural events likely has more to do with the center’s perceived financial issues than with a sinister plot: last year, a rental dispute between the center and its landlord went to court.

But unlike two years ago, the center faces no legal hurdles from the city to continue operating in the site. New York City’s Landmark Preservation Commission approved the center in 2010 and Mayor Bloomberg agreed. Park51 opened up last year without protests and little to no fanfare.

At RJC Forum, Gingrich says he’ll Appoint John Bolton as Secretary of State

At RJC Forum, Gingrich Says He’ll Appoint John Bolton As Secretary of State

by Charles Johnson Wed Dec 7, 2011

Speaking today at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s Presidential Candidates Forum, Newt Gingrich announced that for Secretary of State, his pick would be John Bolton.

Yes, that would be the same John Bolton who wrote the foreword for the deranged anti-Obama book by hate bloggers Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America, and who appeared in a recorded message at Geller’s ugly “Ground Zero Mosque” hatefest last year. (Newt, in typical Gingrich fashion, agreed to speak too but then bailed out.)

Max Blumenthal: “The Great Islamophobic Crusade”

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

The Great Islamophobic Crusade

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Birth of a Network

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Network Expands

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Scam to Publicity Coup

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Inspiration from Israel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Original post: The Great Islamophobic Crusade

Spencer Complains About Story Linking him to “Ground Zero” Mosque

Spencer-hypocrisy continues, this time the police-blotter, faux scholar had his paper thin sensitivity hurt when a story came out highlighting the Park51 Syndrome that exists in the United States. For example it has gotten to the level that even the Google “e” on Veterans Day was thought of as a “crescent moon.”

The story that Spencer took issue with was about a Christian Church that is under construction and is going to have a dome, “concerned residents” thought a mosque was being built. The story pointed out quite accurately that Spencer and his fellow goon blogger Pamela Geller were the main voices branding Park51 a “victory mosque at Ground Zero.” So How can Spencer now complain about something that is an incontrovertible fact!

Message to Spencer: Your hysteric anti-Muslim rantings and disinformation campaign have an effect on your minions, this is one such effext. At the very least take some responsibility.

Church in Arizona protested because it looks like a mosque

(RAW Story)

By David Edwards

Islamophobia may have reached a point in this country where people condemn Christians that they suspect are Muslims without ever checking the facts.

In Phoenix, Arizona, a new Christian church has residents fearing that it is an Islamic mosque.

The Light of the World multidenominational church is being built just off of Interstate 10 and features a dome-like structure.

“Since the distinctive dome shape went up, church leaders said they have received phone calls from concerned neighbors who’ve mistaken the building for an Islamic mosque,” KPHO reported.

“I heard many people, they came over and they say, ‘Is this a Muslim temple?’ No, it’s not,” church member Juan Calixto told KPNX.

“It is unfortunate that people are so intolerant to differences that they aren’t willing to see that the place of worship is not a mosque,” said Tayyibah Amatullah of the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Arizona chapter.

Church officials have hung a sign to let people know they aren’t Muslim. “If you think we are different you are wrong,” the sign reads. “We are building a Christian house of prayer.”

“We’re trying to let people know that we’re Christian and our churches are modern,” Uzieo Martinez, a church official told KPHO.

Officials are trying to avoid the type of backlash received by the Park51 Islamic center that is planned near Ground Zero.

The cultural center was largely ignored when The New York Times first reported about it in December 2009.

The project received wider notice in May 2010 when a community board considered the construction plans. Conservative bloggers Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer dubbed the proposed center the “Ground Zero Mosque” which started a national controversy.

“But with so many high-profile figures selling unfounded, anti-Muslim fear to the public, is it any wonder that all many Americans can see in Islam is a phantom menace?” asked Tanya Somanader at the liberal blog Think Progress.

This video is from KPNX-TV, broadcast Nov. 15, 2010.

Spencer and Geller still Yapping about their “Historic” Rally

Robert Spencer and his goonish friend Pamela Geller, leaders of the hate group SIOA and FDI are claiming that the size of their rally on September 11th, which they billed as the biggest thing ever was huge.

The fact is that it was really not that big, let alone historic. It was definitely not in the 40,000 or more range as Geller and Spencer claim. In fact according to the AP it wasn’t larger than a thousand.

Charles Johnson sums it up well:

Anti-Mosque Rally Attendance: Less Than 1,000

According to the Associated Press, attendance at Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer’s international hate rally was less than 1,000: The Associated Press: Dueling demonstrations begin after 9/11 memorial.

After the ceremony, around 1,000 activists rallied about five blocks from the site of the 2001 attacks to support the proposed Islamic community center. A smaller group of opponents rallied nearby, chanting, “USA, USA.”

UPDATE at 9/11/10 6:27:36 pm:

Hilarious! Geller is claiming 40,000. Who could ever have predicted that?

UPDATE at 9/11/10 6:41:30 pm:

Pamela Geller’s closing words to the seething throng:

As the crowds dissipated, Geller warned them against talking to members of the media: “Do not give them any ammunition. You know who you are. You know that you’re righteous. Do not give them an opportunity to deride this fine and honorable effort. Remember what I’m saying. They’re looking to catch you. Don’t give it to them.”

Listen to Mommy,” she said.

Of course Spencer and company claim that it is a big old conspiracy against those who want to expose Islam, and that the numbers are under reported. Fact is that it isn’t under reported, it is just the their hate rally was “historically” underwhelming.

Robert Spencer: Was the Cabbie Attack Faked?

“Scholar” Robert Spencer seemed to be shocked that any sort of violence would be the end result of his constant barrage that Islam is associated with violence and terror. In a recent post, Spencer claims:

There was just one problem with all this: the attacker was a Leftist employee of an organization that has gone on record as favoring the mosque. So whatever may have been his motivation in attacking this cab driver, one thing that almost certainly wasn’t motivating him was rage over the Islamic supremacist mega-mosque at Ground Zero.

And even if he were motivated by rage against the mosque, what would that have to do with us? Absolutely nothing. We are working on peaceful protests against the mosque, and trying to raise awareness among the American people about who is behind this effort and what its significance is. We have never advocated or condoned any violence or vigilantism — unlike the mosque’s own leader Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, who refuses to condemn the bloodthirsty jihad terror group Hamas. We are not responsible by any conceivable stretch of the imagination for everything any given opponent of the mosque does.

Robert Spencer claims he has never “advocated or condoned any violence or vigilantism.” Yet, he promoted a genocidal video on his website, produced by a group responsible for ethnic violence against Muslims. He has also supported the call for the annihilation of Pakistan. In addition, Spencer wrote in his book on p.224:

The situation in Europe has grown quite grave, and something must be done. It may be that the world needs a new Crusade, though of a kind different from those led by Richard the Lionhearted and Godfrey of Bouillon. We have seen in this book that the Crusades were primarily an act of defense against the encroachment of Islam. In that sense a new Crusade is not only possible but desirable.

You remember the Crusades: where Raymond d’Aguiliers wrote:

Piles of heads, hands, and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city. It was necessary to pick one’s way over the bodies of men and horses. But these were small matters compared to what happened at the Temple of Solomon, a place where religious services are ordinarily chanted. What happened there? If I tell the truth, it will exceed your powers of belief. So let it suffice to say this much, at least, that in the Temple and porch of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins. Indeed, it was a just and splendid judgment of God that this place should be filled with the blood of the unbelievers, since it had suffered so long from their blasphemies.

And all the while, Spencer has constantly asserted that Islam and Muslims are all about “jihad,” war, terror, and violence. And anyone who says otherwise is lying to you. Look at what he said to Mark Jacobson:

“Muslims are the first immigrant group that has ever come to this country with a ready-made model of society and government they believe to be superior to what we have here,” Spencer told me. The thinking was clear to anyone who took the trouble to study the plan, the blogger and author of Stealth Jihad contended. “Muhammad said, ‘When you meet the unbelievers, invite them to accept Islam; if they refuse, offer them the dhimma—second-class status—and, if they refuse that, go to war with them.’ That’s it. Conversion, subjugation, or war. Three steps. Conversion, subjugation, or war … That’s what Muhammad said. And in chapter 33, verse 21 of the Koran, it says Muhammad is the excellent example for the Muslim, you ask any Muslim and they’ll tell you that: That is nonnegotiable, what Muhammad said goes, and that’s not some hijacker extremist Islam, that’s mainstream … This is how it is, you don’t need a bomb. I don’t think Feisal is ever going to blow anything up, because that’s not his game; his game is a societal, cultural penetration … ”

Notice that he lumps all Muslims together. No nuance; no qualification; no recognition of the reality of the world. No. “Muslims” in general. And if you keep saying things like this over, and over, and over, and over – like Spencer does – then eventually someone is going to put 1 and 1 together.

That is exactly what 21-year-old Michael Enright did. He took matters into his own hands. Read this:

On late August 24th he hailed Sharif’s cab. Enright greeted Sharif with “Assalamu Alaikum.” A flattered Sharif responded. Enright asked Sharif how his Ramadan was going, and a compliant Sharif explained it was going well. Enright then gave Sharif a hint of what was coming by proceeding to ridicule Sharif’s faith.

At the end of the ride, before stepping out of the cab, Enright then left Sharif a little piece of “freedom fighting:”

“This is the checkpoint motherfucker” and “I have to bring you down motherfucker,” shouted Enright. The New York Times reports that Enright then “withdrew a Leatherman knife and reaching through the opening in the plastic divider, slashed Mr. Sharif’s throat. When Mr. Sharif turned, he said, Mr. Enright stabbed him in his face, on his arm and on his thumbs.” Mr. Sharif pleaded: “I beg of you, don’t kill me. I worked so hard, I have a family.”

Now, of course, Mr. Enright did not say, “Robert Spencer made me do it,” and so Spencer can innocently deny that he has anything to do with this and another acts of anti-Muslim violence. Yet it interesting that Robert Spencer doesn’t distance Islam as he distances himself from anti-Muslim violence. He continually searches for bad news about Muslims and then ties it all of Islam, using his “cut and paste scholarship” to do it. Yet, he is shocked to find that people will logically link anti-Muslim violence to his rhetoric. Are you kidding, Mr. Spencer?

What’s worse, he seems to suggest that the attack on the Muslim cabbie was somehow “made up”:

Was this attack on a Muslim cab driver in New York yet another faked hate crime designed to tar opponents of Islamic supremacism as bigoted people who are fomenting hate? It cannot be ruled out. I hope that New York investigators are honest enough and brave enough to say so if that turns out to be the case.

Are you kidding, Mr. Spencer? So, this whole attack was a fabrication? The Muslim cabbie and Michael Enright got together and conspired to fake this attack? Including the numerous injuries to his neck, fingers, throat, and shoulder? His pleas to the attacker to spare his life a sham? Was this also “taqiyya”?

How low will Mr. Spencer stoop?

Robert Spencer used to be a Communist

Robert Spencer, a Christian crusader who likes to cover his anti-Muslim fanaticism with a pretense to scholarship is fond of saying “Obama may be a Muslim,” and his buddy Pamela Geller often dubs Obama as a “Socialist” and “Communist.”

That’s why it is quite ironic to learn that Spencer himself in a previous incarnation used to be a Communist. In his younger days before he went zealous with Christianity Spencer was a devoted Communist,

Robert Spencer…[a] canny operative who likely has the inside track on the State Department’s Middle East affairs desk should the tea party win the White House in 2012, Spencer nonetheless offered that he had spent part of his youth working at Revolution Books, which is run by the Revolutionary Communist Party (and its cultish leader Bob Avakian), a hard-line Maoist group most sixties-style radicals, like, say, Bill Ayers, would consider beyond the pale.

Not only was Spencer a Commie but he was a hard core Communist, such that even the boogie monster known as Bill Ayers wouldn’t want to touch. Continue reading

Robert Spencer: Ground Zero Strip Club is OK, No to Islamic Cultural Center

by Rousseau

How a strip club “at” Ground Zero doesn’t cheapen the sanctity of Ground Zero, while an Islamic cultural center does, is only something a wannabe conquistador could fathom.

Robert Spencer is enraged at the wording used by Politico’s Ben Smith in describing the so-called Ground Zero mosque as “actually a few blocks north of the site…” For Spencer, anywhere you can see Ground Zero may be hallowed ground. Continue reading

Spencer Waxes Conspiracy about Treatment of Mosque vs. Church

While Robert Spencer tries hard to play the role of “the cool objective scholar,” it doesn’t take much for him to break out of character to reveal his true identity: an emotional religious ideologue. Many of his articles implicitly or directly impugn events as being tainted by some diabolical conspiracy or double standards, this is particularly true when it comes to issues regarding his religion, Christianity such as in this particular case:

Spencer posted an article titled, “Ground Zero mosque moves forward, Ground Zero church in limbo” by Mark Impomeni for the right-wing website Human Events.

Spencer comments,

“Why is New York City throwing roadblocks in front of the rebuilding of a church that stood for decades at the site now known as Ground Zero, while moving heaven and earth to clear away all obstacles to building an Islamic supremacist mega-mosque there?”

A week ago Spencer also posted an article about this Church, “Nine years later church at Ground Zero still not built, but mad rush to build Islamic Supremacist mega-mosque.” In it he reveals that his mother was “baptized at the Church” and the New York Times article he quotes states,

Last July, the Port Authority and the Greek Orthodox Church announced a tentative plan to rebuild the church just east of its original site, at Liberty and Greenwich Streets. The authority agreed to provide the church with land for a 24,000-square-foot house of worship, far larger than the original, and $20 million. Since the church would be built in a park over the bomb-screening center, the authority also agreed to pay up to $40 million for a blast-proof platform and foundation.

In recent negotiations, the authority cut the size of the church slightly and told church officials that its dome could not rise higher than the trade center memorial.

The bold portion is from Robert Spencer, who seems to think that there is some conspiracy to deny the building of the Church. However, this made up grievance overlooks the previous paragraph which states,

Last July, the Port Authority and the Greek Orthodox Church announced a tentative plan to rebuild the church just east of its original site, at Liberty and Greenwich Streets. The authority agreed to provide the church with land for a 24,000-square-foot house of worship, far larger than the original, and $20 million.

That’s right, the Church is going to be bigger than it was before, it is going to get money from the Port Authority, but Spencer overlooks all of that. For him, the fact that the Port Authority has said that it does not want the dome to rise higher than the memorial (a construction/zoning issue) is a slap in the face and reaks of “double standards.” Imagine if there was a mosque in the place of a Church, what tune do you think Spencer would be singing then?