RUSHING TO JUDGEMENT IN BOSTON

Two related reports ….
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Obama’s rush to judgment: Was the Boston bombing really a “terrorist” act?

 Ali Abunimah
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President Obama has repeatedly claimed that the Boston Marathon bombing was an “act of terror” and that its alleged perpetrators are “terrorists.”

It may seem pointless to quibble with this description: after all what could be more “terroristic” than setting off bombs at a peaceful sporting event killing three persons, one a child, and injuring or horrifically maiming dozens more?

But in fact how the act is described is very important in determining government, media and wider societal responses, including ramping up racism and bigotry against Muslims, Arabs or people of color.

There can be no doubt that the Boston Marathon bombing was a murderous act, but does it –– based on what is known –– fit the US government’s own definitions of “terrorism”?

It is important to recall that other, far more lethal recent events, including the mass shootings in Aurora, Colorado and the school massacre at Sandy Hook, Connecticut havenot been termed “terrorism,” nor their perpetrators labeled “terrorist” by the government. Why?

Obama’s changing descriptions

In his first statement shortly after news emerged of the bombing in Boston on 15 April 2013, Obama pointedly did not describe the attack as “terrorism.” The term is totally absent from his statement. He does say, “We still do not know who did this or why. And people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts.”

It was only the next day on Tuesday, 16 April, that Obama first called the bombing an “act of terrorism” after media had pressed the White House on the issue.

Last night, after 19-year-old suspect Dzhokar Tsarnaev was captured by police, Obama made a statement declaring: “We will investigate any associations that these terroristsmay have had. And we’ll continue to do whatever we have to do to keep our people safe.”

In his weekly video address today, Obama reaffirmed, “on Monday an act of terrorwounded dozens and killed three people at the Boston Marathon.”

Official definitions of “terrorism”

The US government has no single definition of “terrorism” but the National Institute of Justice at the US Department of Justice points to two influential standards that are in use, one enshrined in law and the other provided by the FBI:

Title 22 of the U.S. Code, Section 2656f(d) defines terrorism as “premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.

Both definitions of terrorism share a common theme: the use of force intended to influence or instigate a course of action that furthers a political or social goal. In most cases, NIJ researchers adopt the FBI definition, which stresses methods over motivations and is generally accepted by law enforcement communities.

What was the “political” or “social” goal of the Boston bombing?

Based on these definitions, what distinguishes a “mass shooting” such as Aurora or Sandy Hook on the one hand, from an act of “terrorism” on the other, is that the mass shooters have no political goals. Their act is nihilistic and is not carried out in furtherance of any particular cause.

So far, however, absolutely no evidence has emerged that the Boston bombing suspects acted “in furtherance of political or social objectives” or that their alleged act was “intended to influence or instigate a course of action that furthers a political or social goal.”

Nor is there any evidence that they are part of a group.

Neither of the suspects is known to have made any statement of a political or other goal for their alleged action and there has been no claim of responsibility. Obama, in his statement last night, admitted as much:

Obviously, tonight there are still many unanswered questions. Among them, why did young men who grew up and studied here, as part of our communities and our country, resort to such violence? How did they plan and carry out these attacks, and did they receive any help?

So why is Obama calling them “terrorists?

Since Obama has no idea why the alleged suspects may have resorted to violence and no one else has offered an evidence-based explanation, why is Obama already labeling them “terrorists” when he himself warned against a “rush to judgment?”

The only explanation I can think of is the suspects’ identification as ethnic Chechens and Muslims, even though there is no evidence that they acted either in relation to events in their ancestral homeland or were motivated by any Islamist ideology.

Obama seems to be going on the careless, prejudiced assumption so common on cable television: they’re Muslims, so they must be “terrorists.”

This may be the easy and populist way of looking at it, pandering to prejudice as Obama so often does, but it is irresponsible and violates official US policy that Obama seemed, at least on the first day, willing to observe.

How acts are labeled is highly political: recall the controversy over whether Obama was quick enough to label the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last September as “terrorism,” and the continuing demands that the government designate the November 2009 mass shooting at Fort Hood, allegedly perpetrated by Major Nidal Hasan, as “terrorism.”

All of these cases reinforce the widely noted observation that acts of violence, especially mass shootings, carried out typically by white males are immediately labeled as the acts of “disturbed individuals” while the acts of a person identified as “Muslim” are to be labeled “terrorism” regardless of the facts.

These are unsafe assumptions and foreclose the possibility of full understanding. Moreover, by reinforcing popular stereotypes, they give new force to the anti-Muslim backlash that seems only to be growing stronger and more poisonous as the 11 September 2001 attacks recede into the past.

It is also important to note the contrast between Obama’s eagerness to label the Boston attack as “terror” and its alleged perpetrators as “terrorists” – without evidence – and hisreluctance to label last August’s mass murder at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin as “terrorism” despite the identification of the shooter as having a history of white nationalist and supremacist activism.

Perhaps the first serious consequence of labeling Boston a “terrorist” attack was the Obama administration’s decision to deprive the suspect who was captured of his constitutional right to receive a Miranda warning on arrest, a further thinning of the already threadbare pretense of “rule of law” in post 11 September 2001 America.

Could this be another “Columbine?”

Let’s consider another possibility. Exactly 14 years ago today, 20 April 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold executed a carefully-planned attack on Columbine High School in Colorado, using guns and bombs.

The two seniors murdered 12 fellow students and one teacher before shooting themselves.

Like the Boston Marathon bombing allegedly was, the Columbine attack was carried out by two persons, and it involved some of the same methods: homemade explosives.

But the Columbine attack is remembered as a “school shooting” or a “mass shooting” – perhaps the most iconic of a sad litany of such events – but not a “terrorist” attack.

In his essential 2009 book Columbine, Dave Cullen tells the story of the attack in meticulous detail, debunking many of the popular stereotypes that persist to this day that the attack was meant to avenge bullying by “jocks.”

The evidence that emerged is that Harris was a clinically sadistic sociopath who had no ability to empathize with other human beings. Klebold was a depressive whom Harris was able to manipulate. These facts lay at the heart of what happened.

It is definitely not any more desirable in the wake of such atrocities to have a media frenzy stigmatizing all people with mental illness as potential killers any more than we want them to stigmatize all Muslims as potential terrorists – in fact people with mental illness are no more likely to be violent than anyone else, and are indeed more likely to be victims of violence. And contrary to popular stereotypes fed by the media it is exceptionally rare for Muslims to become “terrorists.”

What we do need is patient, serious and informed analysis: could the relationship between the Boston suspects be similar to those of the Columbine killers? What other factors are at at play? I don’t know, but I cannot rule anything out.

Just like President Obama, I do not know what drove the alleged Boston bombers. What I do know is that when the media and the government, egging each other on, rush to judgment, the possibility of alternative scenarios is ruled out and getting to the truth is harder.

If Boston was “terrorism” based on the little that is known, then we must be able to answer these questions: can only white or Christian males be sociopaths, or suffer from other mental illnesses that under certain conditions lead to violence?

Can only two white Colorado high school students act as a pair without “terrorist” motives? Can “Muslims” or ethnic Chechens, or Arabs never be subject to the same kind of conditions or analysis?

Surely the survivors and families of the Boston bombing deserve no less of an accounting of what happened than the victims of Columbine?

We cannot and should not rule out that evidence will emerge that the alleged Boston bombers had a political motive. But it hasn’t so far.

What we have seen is the usual rush to judgment that has left Muslims and many people of color once again fearing collective blame and the governmental and societal retribution that comes with it.

 

Written FOR

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And of course, the anti-Muslim backlash …

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So here we are, nearly 12 years after September 11 unleashed a new wave of anti-Muslim hate. 44 percent of Americans say they have an “unfavorable” view of Muslims, according to a recent poll–and that was before the Boston bombings. How little has changed.

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Boston Marathon bombings unleash a new wave of Islamophobia

by Alex Kane
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Sharia
An anti-Park 51 protester in New York City in September 2010
(Photo: David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons)
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It’s happening again: another collective freakout steeped in Islamophobia. The Boston Marathon bombings have unleashed the anti-Muslim sentiment that bubbles under the surface and always shines bright in times of national hysteria. The current wave of Islamophobia the country is perpetuating and experiencing–and it’s only the beginning–is the first since the Park 51 fracas in 2010.

The news that the main suspects in the bombing are Chechen Muslims will fuel the ugly hate that has intensified since September 11. But the hate was unleashed immediately after the attack, even before the public knew that Muslims were involved. How little is needed for the brash and bigoted side of this country to come out swinging against the “Muslim enemy” we have been been so trained to fear.

It’s very easy to see the most blatant manifestations of the ugly phenomenon of Islamophobia, which casts collective blame on all Muslims. The right-wing is always the place to start. But it’s also emanating from our mainstream institutions and figures, where it’s a little more difficult to identify the Islamophobia. It’s there, though. Powerful institutions and figures are focusing on Muslims and trying to justify even more animus and surveillance targeting the Muslim community in the United States.

Let’s begin with the easiest of places: the Islamophobic media. The New York Postled the charge on this front. In the immediate hours after the Boston attack, the Rupert Murdoch-owned tabloid fingered a “Saudi national” who was injured in the blast as a suspect. It turns out he had nothing to do with the attack.

The other easy place to see anti-Muslim hate is, of course, the Islamophobic blogosphere. Pamela Geller went from freaking out about the Saudi to freaking out about two innocent people featured on the Post’s front page to freaking out about a missing university student to finally arriving at where everybody else is: freaking out about the Chechen suspects. What tied them all together was they all looked “Muslimy,” the term Wajahat Ali aptly used in Salon, and denotes how Muslims have become racialized in this country. There was also Steve Emerson, the faux terror “expert” welcomed by AIPAC with open arms, who opined about the “Saudi national” on television, as Ali Gharib documented.

And then there are the anti-Muslim hate crimes. ColorLines has chronicled some of them. They include: a white man punching a Palestinian woman who wears a hijab in Massachusetts; and Latino men beating up a Bangladeshi in the Bronx because he looked “Arab.”

But how easy anti-Muslim sentiment migrates over into the mainstream. Sure, this form of Islamophobia is not as blatant as Pam Geller’s. But it’s just as dangerous–if not more so, since more people imbibe what the mainstream tells them.

The mainstream media is busy speculating about whether Islam played a role in the decision to blow up the bombs at the Boston marathon. I heard one reporter ask the uncle of the suspects whether they were “radicalized” in a local mosque, apparently not knowing that the vast majority of mosques in the nation are nowhere near “radical.” This is the soft bigotry the mainstream is engaging in.

Another culprit that has bought into Islamophobia, and therefore legitimizing it, is law enforcement. Return back to the Saudi national story. As The New Yorker’s Amy Davidson writes, “he was the only one who, while in the hospital being treated for his wounds, had his apartment searched in ‘a startling show of force,’ as his fellow-tenants described it to the Boston Herald, with a ‘phalanx’ of officers and agents and two K9 units.” Davidson goes on to ask: “Why the search, the interrogation, the dogs, the bomb squad, and the injured man’s name tweeted out, attached to the word ‘suspect’?” The question answers itself. He was Saudi. He was Arab. That’s enough for a lot of people, including law enforcement. It speaks volumes that the only injured person to have his home searched by law enforcement was the Saudi national.

Finally, let’s look at the man who runs the city that suffered the nation’s most catastrophic terrorist attack. Mayor Michael Bloomberg sought to reassure New York City in the aftermath of the Boston attacks. But he ended up exploiting the attacks for his own political purposes. At a press conference on Tuesday, he crassly said: “The moment that we let our guard down, the moment we get complacent, the moment we allow special interests to shape our security strategies, is the moment that the terrorists are waiting for. As a country, we may not be able to thwart every attack. We saw that yesterday. But we must do everything we possibly can to try.”

“Security strategies.” It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Bloomberg is referring to the New York Police Department’s tactic of spying on Muslim communities with no regard as to whether people are innocent or guilty of any crime. Don’t get complacent: stop criticizing the NYPD, the mayor says. They’re doing their job, and their job is to map Muslim communities, eavesdrop on conversations and catalog innocent people in police documents related to terrorism. And those “special interests”? That’s a clear as day reference to the Muslims who are fighting back against the spy program and to the allies who have joined them in that fight.

What Bloomberg doesn’t acknowledge is that the police department itself has admitted in court that their surveillance program has not stopped a single act of terrorism. Not one. Which begs the question: how can the “security strategies” Bloomberg is defending help prevent the next Boston? They can’t. But Bloomberg wants to justify a program that is Islamophobic at its core.

So here we are, nearly 12 years after September 11 unleashed a new wave of anti-Muslim hate. 44 percent of Americans say they have an “unfavorable” view of Muslims, according to a recent poll–and that was before the Boston bombings. How little has changed. 

 

 

Written FOR

 

ISLAMOPHOBIA GETS A NEW INFUSION

Image ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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Even before the suspects in the Boston bombing are apprehended, the verdict has already been handed down and it apparently has been decided that they are Moslems.
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Needless to say, the corporate media is having a heyday with this  …
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According to several Muslims interviewed by the media, when a white man carries out a crime, he is looked at as an individual, but when the suspect is Muslim, the entire Muslim-American community is labeled.

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After Boston attack: US Muslims reliving post 9-11 experience

Some 6 million Muslims live in US, and in days following Boston Marathon attack, they say they are experiencing anew harassment and anxiety which took place after 9/11. Says one Muslim youth who was at marathon finish line and whose photo was posted online, ‘I’m afraid to go to school’

Yitzhak Benhorin*

Muslims in the US are living in fear, praying that those responsible for the bombings in Boston will be apprehended and shown to be non-Muslim. Over the last few days, reports of harassment of Arabs and Muslims have been coming up throughout the US, especially at places of employment and in schools.

Apprehensions were raised among Arabs and Muslims after the New York Post published the photos of two Muslim teens, who the paper’s headlines claimed, were wanted by authorities for questioning in relation to the Boston bombings.

A short time after the attack, the main headline on the newspaper’s site had stated that at least 12 people had been killed and that the main suspect was a Saudi who had been arrested by Boston Police. Law enforcement quickly denied the reports, saying they had not arrested a Saudi national, or anyone else.

On Thursday, the New York Post published a photo of the two youth, both 17. The paper wrote that Salah Eddin Barhoum and his friend, Yassine Zaime, had been seen close to the marathon finish line. Later the paper retracted its earlier report, saying the two were not the ones being looked for and that the FBI had identified other suspects.

But Salah Barhoum, a son of Morrocan immigrant parents and a high school track runner, was so shocked by the publicity, that when he noticed someone in a car outside his high school watching him and talking on a phone, he quickly ran back into the school.

הרגעים שלאחר הפיגוע בבוסטון (צילום: AP)

Police, runner react to explosion (Photo: AP)*

Barhoum said that after his photo appeared on the cover of the Post, he received over 200 messages, one from someone in Oregon saying, “How could you do that? Did you even think about the consequences?”

In an interview with the AP, Barhoum said he will not feel safe until the party responsible for the attack is caught. “I’m going to be scared going to school. Work wise, my family, everything is going to be scary.”

The Barhoum family emigrated from Morocco to the US five years ago, and the father, El Houssein Barhoum said he is afraid someone will shoot his son, and that he worries about the safety of his wife and daughters. He himself admits he is afraid to go to his job at a Boston bakery.

The BBC also spoke with several random Muslims they met on US city streets. One 10-year-old boy, identified only as Yusef, said when he arrived at his Ohio school after the attack, he was asked questions by classmates regarding his family. During a class discussion on the attacks, another student asked whether Yusef would blow up the school. The teacher, who did not understand Yusuf’s reply, pulled him aside and held him back until his school locker was checked.

Since the Monday attack,US Muslims are experiencing an intense change in the treatment they receive from others, as they did after September 11. Memories from 2001 are resurfacing for the estimated 6 million Muslims throughout the nation.

The greatest apprehension for Muslims following 9/11 was brought on by the fact that the attackers did turn out to be Muslim.

According to several Muslims interviewed by the media, when a white man carries out a crime, he is looked at as an individual, but when the suspect is Muslim, the entire Muslim-American community is labeled.

From

WHAT IF THE BOSTON TERRORIST IS A MUSLIM?

But even if the perpetrator eventually turned to have a Muslim background, would that mean that America should indict the estimated 1600 million Muslims of this world.”

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The Bostonian tragedy

  Khalid Amayreh in Occupied Jerusalem

There is no doubt that that the bombing at the Boston Marathon was a decidedly criminal act which ought to be condemned in the strongest terms. There is nothing more evil than targeting innocent people. No legitimate grievances or causes justify murdering or maiming innocent people.

This is why our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this violence and their families.

We Palestinians who have been victimized by Israeli terror and violence for decades understand what it means to be targeted by casual death and calamity.

Indeed, not a single Palestinian family has been spared the pain and anguish accompanying the sudden loss of life as a result of Israeli terror, either at the hands of the Israeli occupation army or Para-military Jewish settlers, hell bent on murdering non-Jews in order to expedite the appearance of a Jewish Messiah who would rule the world and attain redemption for Jews.

The Boston bombing has been condemned by every one, including Muslims, the likely suspects, given the Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hysteria permeating through the U.S. media ever since the 9/11 attacks.

I do hope that the American authorities will catch the perpetrators and subject them to the full weight of justice.

Having said that, I feel that as a Palestinian and Muslim, I must warn against the voices of hate and racism in the U.S. which are taking advantage of this tragic incident to incite against Muslims.

These are not truly patriotic American voices. I am not in a position to teach Americans the true meaning of patriotism. However, I believe there is a difference between true patriotism and inciting people to hate and murder.

This hateful incitement doesn’t fall under freedom of speech since freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom to urge people to murder or harm innocent people.

Otherwise, we must admit that the Nazis were exercising legitimate freedom of speech when they indulged in promoting the mass hysteria of hatred against their opponents.

Erik Rush, a frequent Fox News contributor, is one of these rabid gung-ho bigots of the American media whose tongue apparently functions much more swiftly than his brain does.

Rush got into a twitter exchange shortly after the tragic bombing. He wrote “Yes, they (Muslims) are evil. Let’s kill them all.”

Well, this is the kind of stuff that one would expect from such hate-filled individuals who should belong to psychiatric sanitariums rather than allowed to spew their racist venom via a TV outlet watched by millions.

Make no mistake about it, words can kill, especially when there are too many psychopaths of Rush’s ilk lurking throughout America, awaiting the “right moment” to murder an innocent Muslim man or woman and child.

In the final analysis, there is no real difference between killing innocent people at the hands of a terrorist and killing innocent people as an act of revenge.

True, the American law is against killing innocent people and the American law-enforcement agencies ought to be applauded for protecting Muslim citizens and visitors from the random violence of malevolent racists such as Erik Rush.

However, this is not enough. Venomous, hateful speech inciting to murder should be outlawed immediately.

Fox News must be held responsible, accountable and liable for any possible ramifications of Rush’s and like-minded people’s hate speech.

A gesture of good-will by the eccentric TV station should take the form of stopping any further association with this unreasonable individual.

So far, it is uncertain who carried out the criminal act at the Boston Marathon. But this is not the real issue because terrorists are terrorists first and foremost.

But even if the perpetrator eventually turned to have a Muslim background, would that mean that America should indict the estimated 1600 million Muslims of this world.”

What would Americans say and how would they react if one Muslim preacher in Amman or Cairo or Sana’a urged a massive congregation to kill Americans wherever they are found in revenge for the killing of innocent Muslims by Americans?

To be sure, innocent Muslims are being murdered and killed by Americans and their allies in Afghanistan, Yemen, and occupied Palestine and in many other places.

Yet, American visitors and tourists are freely touring the Muslim world, receiving all respect, protection and hospitality.

In the course of the past few decades, this writer hosted hundreds of Americans and Europeans and I don’t remember an instance of allowing the criminal American policy in occupied Palestine influence my or my people’s treatment of our American guests.

As a student, I lived many years in the U.S. and I know that most Americans are not carbon copies of Erik Rush. None the less, even one spoiled apple can ruin an entire fruit box.

I hope and pray that incidents like that of the Boston Marathon, painful and tragic as it is, will not make Americans lose their composures and mental equanimity. This is probably the ultimate goal of the perpetrators.

SOCIAL MEDIA BECOMMING A HAVEN FOR HATE

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In recent weeks we have seen the hatred spewed out on the pages of FaceBook by IDF soldiers. Photos and stories as to how to torture Palestinian Children, etc.
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Now it seems Twitter, as well, is allowing similar hate on their site as well. Is this the reason Social Media exists, or in actuality is it really anti social media?
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In the case of Twitter, it’s not Islamophobia, it’s anti-Semitism. Both are unacceptable in a civilised world!
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Last year, thousands of Tweets in French bearing the hashtag #unbonjuif (“a good Jew,” as in, “A good Jew is a dead Jew”) streamed through the social media site’s enormous network. The Tweets were usually violent comments about Jewish influence or blood curdlingly anti-Semitic jokes — one Tweet simply linked to a picture of an ashtray.
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Anti-Semitism and Anonymity on Twitter

Is the Social Media Giant Allowing Hate Speech To Thrive?

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Tweeting: What happens when hate hides behind a social media platform?
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Tweeting: What happens when hate hides behind a social media platform?

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By Gal Beckerman

“Anonymous” is a pretty apt name for the motley crew of anarchist hackers who like to disable and deface the websites of groups or people “they” don’t like. We can’t interrogate their motives. Only their work offers clues, sometimes quite unambiguous ones.

When Anonymous recently tried to take down the website for Yad Vashem — on Holocaust Remembrance Day, no less — this was anti-Semitism. Despite many newspapers, including The New York Times, describing the group that day as “pro-Palestinian,” it’s hard to understand how vandalizing the website of Israel’s Holocaust museum furthers the Palestinian cause.

But at least Anonymous wears its anonymity on its sleeve. The bigger problem with anonymity online is the way it serves as a mask on social media platforms that provide a bullhorn of unprecedented volume to anyone who wants it. I’m thinking of Twitter, and a recent case that poses interesting — some would say serious — questions about how social media abets hatred in new and dangerous ways.

Last year, thousands of Tweets in French bearing the hashtag #unbonjuif (“a good Jew,” as in, “A good Jew is a dead Jew”) streamed through the social media site’s enormous network. The Tweets were usually violent comments about Jewish influence or blood curdlingly anti-Semitic jokes — one Tweet simply linked to a picture of an ashtray.

The Union of French Jewish Students sued Twitter last fall in the French equivalent of the Supreme Court, demanding the company provide the names of those Tweeting out the vile stuff (it would have been a long list since at one point the hashtag was trending among the three most popular topics in France). The students won, but Twitter has refused to comply, and in late March they sued again, this time to fine the company over $50 million for not obeying the ruling.

On the face of it, this seems like a straightforward matter of free speech. That’s what Twitter is arguing.

Since its servers are based in the United States, it respects First Amendment law, which offers a very broad umbrella of protection. Basically, if there is no threat of immediate violence, it’s fair game. Since Twitter sees as its mission (not to mention its business) to provide an open forum, it makes sense for them to be dogmatic on this point. The American in me instinctually gets this.

Twitter is simply a tool. It can be used by anyone — to project interesting ideas and witty asides, or racism and stupidity. And we should leave it to the free marketplace of Tweets to sort it all out. I wouldn’t want Twitter to become the arbiter of what counts as authentic hate speech and what doesn’t.

But I’m also a Jew. And the Jew in me has a hard time ignoring the particular context of French Jewry and the sense of embattlement it is currently experiencing. Between the shooting spree at a Jewish school in Toulouse last year that killed four people and the earlier torture and murder of a young Parisian Jew, Ilan Halimi, there is a deep sense of dread that has led to an increasing emigration by Jews out of France. For those French students suing Twitter, the endless vile Tweets must have felt like the walls closing in on them.

Complicating this already complicated issue is anonymity. What the French students wanted was not to ban the use of #unbonjuif (Twitter eventually deleted the most offensive Tweets). They wanted the names of those who Tweeted.

France has more stringent hate speech laws and those making threatening anti-Semitic statements could possibly be prosecuted if their identities were known. Those laws exist because of France’s history and because its citizens feel more acutely than Americans do that potentially dangerous speech has to be quickly suppressed.

At some level Twitter, as global as it is, understands the need for sovereignty. The company’s policy states that users must comply with their local laws. But this is meaningless when you consider that anyone can create a fake handle and start tweeting with impunity.

There is, of course, a defense of online anonymity to be made. Think of all the revolutions throughout history and the new ideas, dangerous at first, that would never have existed if their authors had to declare themselves publicly. Many of the Tweets emanating from the Arab Spring or the 2009 Iranian protests were anonymous. And some of the funniest material on Twitter comes from joke handles (remember @InvisibleObama, which appeared after Clint Eastwood’s conversation with an empty chair last summer?). Much of the vibrancy of a platform like Twitter could be compromised if users were forced to register with their real names.

Against this ideal of total freedom, though, stand the particulars of history and society. Sitting here in front of my computer in America, I think anonymity is important, even if it provides cover for hate and can become a tool for cowards. It would be a mistake to use the law to override it except under extreme circumstances. But can I say the same for Europe?

The hate that lies under anonymous cover in France or Germany clearly feels even scarier and more nefarious to its citizens. That’s why their laws are harsher for prosecuting that hate. At a moment when we are so enthralled by transnational, earth-flattening forums like Twitter, couldn’t we also make room for these concerns, balancing our enthusiasm with a respect for the way national history shapes our sense of what should or should not be spoken?

Source

BELLA CIAO TO ISLAMOPHOBIA

New Version from Iran (Thanks to Redpossum)
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It’s been a bad month for zionism and Islamophobia …. a great month for humanity!
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First this ….. Canadian Students Back Boycott Israel Movement 
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Then this ….. The Jimmy Carter Protests that Weren’t  
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And now this ….. Pamela Geller Speech Cancelled At New York Synagogue 
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Here’s the full report FROM …. it claims that the synagogue failed to take a stand, but I’m satisfied with the cancellation!
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Bella Ciao To Islamophobia!!
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Shul Cancels Pamela Geller — But Fails To Take Stand

By Nechama Liss-Levinson

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It was after 11 p.m. yesterday that I first heard the news that my synagogue, the Great Neck Synagogue, had announced the cancellation of a speaking engagement by Pamela Geller, founder of Stop Islamization of America (SIOA), described as a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center. I breathed a great sigh of relief. I quickly stopped writing the piece I was working on about how my heart was broken by the intransigence of the synagogue and its leadership in confronting a moral challenge.

Despite the cancellation, I am still filled with pain. When the synagogue announced its decision to cancel Geller’s talk, originally set for April 14, it cited “security concerns,” particularly for member families and their children. This indeed may be the reason that the executive board of the synagogue cancelled the event.


In my heart, I hope it was not the only reason. I hope the leadership was (at least unconsciously) influenced by the virtual flood of phone calls, emails, and private conversations in which Great Neck Synagogue members, as well as others, made the point that even though Geller has the right to speak, the synagogue does not have an obligation to offer her its pulpit.

I wish my synagogue had spoken of the moral question. I wish the leaders had stood up and said, “We didn’t initially realize what Geller represents. Now that we do know, we will stand proudly against hate speech.” I wish that they had noticed that Geller’s concerns about radical Islam often morph into a vilification of all Muslims and the Islamic faith. Her language encourages denigration and dehumanization, rather than constructive discussion and cooperation.

What is even more distressing to me is the reaction that the cancellation has engendered. The commentary on the blogosphere, including a statement posted on Geller’s website, now denigrates the synagogue and its leaders. The vitriol and hatred in these postings are frightening. Both sides in this conflict feel that they are right, that they own the moral high ground, and that an evil is being perpetrated. But a quick survey of these postings will find that the supporters of Geller have totally lost the capacity for civil discourse.

I had planned to use two quotes from Elie Wiesel in my original post about the Geller invitation. His most famous one is: “Indifference to evil is evil.” And then, just days ago, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, a young friend posted this, also from Wiesel: “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides.”

I feel that these quotes give me added strength to do what I think is right. And then I read scores of quotes online from supporters of Geller,also using the example of the Holocaust as a reason that she should be permitted to speak. Most used the phrase, “Never again.” Who knew that even the Holocaust can be used to justify such disparate viewpoints?

When I got into my car this morning at 8:00 a.m., a radio newscast informed me that Geller had declared that her talk was cancelled due to “relentless intimidation, bullying and threats.” In fact, she said, “leftist thugs, pushed and prodded by Islamist supremacist…… threatened a march on the shul.”

I sat in the car stunned. What was true was that my husband and I had petitioned the Village of Great Neck for permission for a peaceful demonstration, which would have taken place across the street from the synagogue on the Sunday morning of Geller’s talk. It was clearly written in the petition that the demonstrators would be “polite and law abiding.” There were no microphones or speeches planned for our event, just placards with messages like “Say NO to Religious Bigotry” or “Great Neck Synagogue Members Support Religious Tolerance.”

The organizers were all members of Great Neck Synagogue, parents and grandparents, community leaders and community activists. We wanted to show that not all members of the synagogue agreed with the decision to invite Geller. We wanted to be able to stand proudly. We wanted, as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, wrote, “to pray with our feet.” As of yesterday, we were the only group to file a petition to assemble on the day of Geller’s speech. I have been called many things, but this was the first time I have been branded a “leftist thug.”

Why did we plan to protest? We want our synagogue to be known for the many extraordinary programs in which we’ve participated: sending busloads of demonstrators to Washington D.C. to protest the genocide in Darfur; organizing a 25-person relief mission to rebuild New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina; sending food for the holidays to impoverished Jewish families as well as to the food pantry sponsored by a local church; and being home base for a Women’s Tefila group, which offers meaningful rituals for many of the developmental milestones that Jewish girls and women face. And so it seemed untenable that this synagogue would be stuck in such a terrible morass, getting attention for offering a platform to hatred and bigotry.

I am thrilled that the Great Neck Synagogue has cancelled the event for Geller. I remain brokenhearted for the underlying anxieties, fears and hatreds that it exposed.

 

 

ISRAEL WORRIED ABOUT ‘NEW INTIFADA’ AT CAMPUSES ABROAD

Israel must be losing at it’s propaganda campaigns on U.S. campuses. The arrogance of the David Horowitz’s and the Alan Dershowitz’s don’t seem to be as effective as they are meant to be as their messages of hate go unheeded. This worries Israel as can be seen in the following Op-ed from Ynet.
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The message that is not getting out …
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Perhaps the greatest danger is the fact that the influence on campus permeates slowly, without stopping, even when it comes to young Jewish students.

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New intifada on campuses abroad

Op-ed: Anti-Israel activists on US campuses found that attacking Zionism more effective than burning flags

Tzahi Gavrieli

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They meet in small groups on campus; funded by foreign money. They understand that this method of operation gives them more influence than any act of physical violence would. They are young people who convince others; they are builders of public opinion. Step by step they take control of the leaderships of student unions and organizations; pro-Palestinian activists join extreme left-wingers in activism against Israeli elements.

This is the new intifada. You won’t hear about in the next news update; it is not an uprising within Israel’s borders, and it stopped being just about the settlements, occupation and peace treaties a long time ago. It is far away from us; it is influential, exhilarating; it speaks in a new, young language and has one goal: The annihilation of Israel as a Jewish state.

Anti-Israeli elements have reached the conclusion that burning an Israeli flag does not make for good photos. It is too extreme, too controversial, and too barbaric; it doesn’t do the job anymore; the world has changed. They found that burning the Zionist idea rather than the flag is much more effective.

Over the past few months this campaign has been taken to the next level. At the University of California public university system, at the University of California, San Diego, at Brooklyn College in New York, at Oxford University in Britain and on other campuses there are calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, and activists also disrupt lectures of Israeli representatives – it is all part of a broad campaign to delegitimize Israel.

It is not coincidental that a significant part of the delegitimization campaign against Israel is talking place on campuses. The arena was carefully selected. Campuses have always been fertile ground for exchanging ideas, for activity aimed at fomenting social change and for calls for universal ideals because it is easier to plant the seeds of unruliness in the minds of 18 year olds, who are more open to innovative and revolutionary ideas. Within a decade millions of young, influential people within government, the economy, the arts, culture, the judicial system and research – those who have been inculcated with the anti-Israel idea – may adopt the notion that Israel does not have the right to exist as a Jewish state. ‘Why do the Jews need a state of their own?’ They will wonder.

Perhaps the greatest danger is the fact that the influence on campus permeates slowly, without stopping, even when it comes to young Jewish students. Regrettably, many young Jews do not possess the tools to deal with the harsh accusations and incitements against the country grandpa called the Jewish state. Besides, what incentive does a young female Jewish student have to confront the boisterous, provocative anti-Israel protesters on the campus lawn?

Those who do not take the phenomenon seriously and say ‘anti-Semitism has always existed in some form or another, and yet, look how far we’ve come,’ and those who believe this phenomenon will disappear as soon as a peace agreement is signed here, should realize that it will not stop and it will not subside. Those who believe it will disappear should take notice of the inconceivable increase in the number of North American campuses where significant anti-Israel activity takes place. They should ask themselves how is it that within just a few years more than 50 leading universities in the US began marking “Israel Apartheid Week,” which is characterized by hatred, lies and anti-Semitism?

The State of Israel cannot and should not deal with the global phenomenon of delegitimization alone. We must call on the leaders of the Jewish people to wake up, because all this is happening on the campuses of their hometowns, where their children study. Wake up! Because when people call for the end to Israel as a Jewish state they are destroying the home of the Jewish nation with a single blow. Because when scholars explain that in a time of globalization and universality without borders there is no need for the Jews to have Israel – thousands of years of Jewish heritage of exile, yearning, suffering and hope are crushed.

The large Jewish clock is ticking again. The delegitimization campaign is a wake-up call for the State of Israel and the Diaspora. This camping threatens Israel, and it must be addressed by the new government.

Attorney Tzahi Gavrieli served as an advisor to prime ministers Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Olmert

ISLAMOPHOBIA AS A TEAM SPORT IN ISRAEL

Hundreds of Beitar Jerusalem fans walk out after Chechen player scores

At match against Maccabi Netanya, racist fans object to Muslims playing on their team.

 Haaretz Sports Staff
Beitar Jerusalem fans leaving the match, March 3, 2013.
Beitar Jerusalem fans leaving the match, March 3, 2013. Photo by Sharon Bukov
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Sunday evening’s soccer encounter between Beitar Jerusalem and Maccabi Netanya ended in a 1-1 draw, but the event was again overshadowed by a blunt show of racism by hundreds of Beitar fans.

Considering Beitar’s dire recent form in the Premier League – four losses and a draw in the last five games – one could believe that that the home fans would be overjoyed when their team scored in the 48th minute. After a weak first half from the hosts, Avi Rikan sent a delicious through ball which cut through the Netanya defense, finding Chechen forward Zaur Sadayev, who controlled the ball with his chest and sweetly struck home from inside the box. While most Beitar fans and players celebrated the goal, some 300 fans walked out in disgust.

After Beitar’s goal, Netanya pressed for the equalizer and completely controlled proceedings, with the home team defending deep and trying to hit on the counter attack. Beitar’s goalkeeper Ariel Harush did well to block Ali El-Khatib‘s fierce strike from outside the box, before Rikan almost doubled the home team’s advantage with a spectacular overhead kick.

Most remaining Beitar fans cheered Sadayev when he was substituted by the troubled Eran Levy in the 74th minute, but three minutes later Netanya were rewarded for their efforts: Firas Mugrabi, who earlier missed a glorious opportunity, found Omri Ben Harush who scored from close range. The last few minutes saw both teams squander excellent chances to score, with Achmad Saba’a rattling the Beitar post and Rikan, again, missing after being set up by Levy.

While the draw did little to help Netanya escape the relegation area – only three points separate Tal Banin’s team from Hapoel Haifa – Beitar now has to hope that Ramat Hasharon fails to beat Be’er Sheva in the last game of the regular season, and get a result against Maccabi Tel Aviv at Bloomfield in order to secure a place in the upper-tier playoff.

Source

“THIS IS WAR PROPAGANDA. YOU ARE THE TARGET”

Pamela Geller is once again conducting an underground campaign of hate. For the second time activists are giving her Islamophobic message a makeover …
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 ‘This is war propaganda, and you are the target’–latest anti-Muslim subway ads get another makeover
Alex Kane
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At the 50th Street subway stop in Manhattan, a Pam Geller advertisement is plastered with a “caution” sticker. It reads: “This is War Propaganda. You’re the Target”

The latest installment of anti-Muslim advertisements put out by Pamela Geller have gone up in New York City subway stations. But they have quickly received a makeover, just as the last batch did.

Activists plastered stickers over the ads that read: “This is War Propaganda, and You’re the Target.”

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A shot of a sticker at the 23rd street station in Manhattan

Another source reports that when activists were having trouble reaching the ads above the subway platform, a tall woman waiting for the train put it up for them. The activists told her it was illegal but she didn’t care–she had seen the advertisement and was offended.

Here’s another photo:

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At the 50th Street subway stop in Manhattan, another one of Pam Geller’s ad is plastered with a “warning” sticker. It reads: “This is War Propaganda. You’re the Target”

Activists also hit another subway station, on 23rd street:

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Another sticker plastered on an anti-Muslim ad, at the 23rd street station”

Here’s a statement a source sent over explaining why activists took this action:

This evening, concerned New Yorkers came together to respond to a new set of advertisements placed in many of their city’s subway stations by the notoriously chauvinistic “American Freedom Defense Initiative” (AFDI), headed by the right-wing anti-Muslim activist, Pamela Geller. 

The new ads, in which Geller’s organization has reportedly invested about $70,000, feature a photo of the World Trade Center exploding in flames next to a quote from the Qur’an. Concerned New Yorkers engaged these ads by labeling them with stickers that resembled bright caution or warning signs reading, “This is War Propaganda, and You’re the Target”. 

One participant, who works as a filmmaker, explained, “These ads must be understood as war propaganda that target regular Americans, the public that is exposed to them.” He continued, “Yes, the ads are clearly hateful and racist. But the additional thing to realize is that by vilifying and dehumanizing Muslims, they work to conscript people into supporting the U.S. government’s ongoing covert and overt wars, and the related violence and injustices suffered by Muslims here in the United States.” 

A law student added, “Muslim communities in the United States not only endure the everyday experience of humiliating racism, but are subjected to expansive and illegitimate government surveillance, along with egregiously unjust detentions and prosecutions in U.S. prisons and courts. These new ads work as propaganda to facilitate and support violence against Muslims in the United States and abroad.” 

Another woman, who is a scholar and an artist, followed, “It’s abominable that these ads exploit the real suffering that fellow New Yorkers bore the day the twin towers burned to continue to incite more violence against more people. Rather than allow New York City’s experience of such suffering to generate empathy for the suffering of other people in other cities facing attacks, whether by U.S. drone strikes or other means, and seek to end such violence, they absurdly conjure Americans as innocent victims who have no choice but to be violent in a violent world.” 

A human rights researcher concluded, “Over the past eleven years, the U.S. government’s response to the day photographed in these ads has resulted in the killing and maiming of hundreds of thousands of people in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and beyond, along with tens of thousands of Americans. The United States has also threatened the Iranian people with war, and already begun a devastating campaign of sanctions against them that is effectively a war against a people by other means. … As New Yorkers we want to make clear that the particularly vulgar manifestation of vicious racism and militarism in these ads is not welcome in our city. But more broadly, we are committed to ending ongoing U.S. wars, both for the sake of people on the receiving end of American belligerence and bombs, and to secure the possibility of a meaningful democracy and livable future for us all.”

Written FOR

MENTAL ILLNESS, ONE OF MANY CAUSES OF ISLAMOPHOBIA

Bennett editorial cartoon
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From The New York Times; Ms. Menendez’s years of inner and outer turmoil culminated in the deadly assault on an unsuspecting man who was waiting for a train on Thursday. Beyond stirring fear among riders on crowded platforms across the city, the attack also raised new questions about the safeguards in a patchwork private and public mental health system that is supposed to allow mentally ill people to live as freely as possible in the community while protecting them and the public.
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“How many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?”
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The following from Mondoweiss deals with the latest incident …
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After Islamophobic hate crime in New York City, mayor wants public to ‘keep death in perspective’

by Annie Robbins and Alex Kane
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The Passport photo of 46-year-old Sunando Sen, pushed to his death because a woman thought he was Muslim (Photo: Christie M. Farriella for New York Daily News)
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A horrific crime if we’ve ever seen one–and a reminder that Islamophobia affects many communities outside Muslim ones.

From the AP:

A woman who told police she shoved a man to his death off a subway platform into the path of a train because she hates Muslims and thought he was one was charged Saturday with murder as a hate crime, prosecutors said.

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“I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I’ve been beating them up,” Menendez told police, according to the district attorney’s office.

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Friday urged residents to keep Sen’s death in perspective as he touted new historic lows in the city’s annual homicide and shooting totals.

“It’s a very tragic case, but what we want to focus on today is the overall safety in New York,” Bloomberg told reporters following a police academy graduation.

What kind of perspective is Bloomberg referencing? If someone said “I shoved a Jew in front of a train because I hate Jews,” would Bloomberg be touting drops in the city’s annual homicide and shooting totals? Quite an insensitive comment, at the very least.

After this news broke, Twitter was aflutter with people pointing to Pamela Geller as one culprit pushing anti-Muslim sentiment in the city. Geller’s organization, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, recently put up a new crop of ads that features the World Trade Center burning with a Qu’ran verse printed to the right of the towers. 

Geller’s role in promoting anti-Muslim sentiment of the sort that leads to Islamophobic hate crimes should not be in dispute. But what should also be highlighted is how New York City’s own police force has promoted anti-Muslim bigotry time and time again, from surveillance of Muslims that places the whole community under suspicion to training officers with an Islamophobic flick. 

Friend of Mondoweiss Lizzy Ratner made this point in her excellent piece on Geller in The Nation:

Though Geller and her crew are fringe elements, they are not random or spontaneous, idiopathic lesions on the healthier whole. They are, quite sadly, part of this country, outcroppings of something big and ugly that has been seeping and creeping through the body politic for years. In the decade since September 11, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bigotry has become an entrenched feature of our political and social landscape. It lurks in the hidden corners of everyday life—in classrooms and offices and housing complexes—as well as in the ugly scenes that occasionally explode into public consciousness. In the special registration of Middle Eastern men after 9/11. In the vicious campaign against Debbie Almontaser, the American Muslim school teacher who tried to open the Arabic-language Khalil Gibran International Academy (KGIA) and was tarred as an extremist. In the attack on the Park51 Islamic center, more commonly (if less accurately) known as the Ground Zero mosque. In the New York Police Department’s selective surveillance of Muslim communities. And that’s just New York City. All of these instances should have called on our horror and outrage, and in all too many of them, society hasn’t lived up.

This crime appears to be the latest manifestation of New York City’s Islamophobia. This time, it cost a life.

AN ISLAMOPHOBIC CHRISTMAS GREETING FROM ISRAEL

Christmas is officially here, so is Islamophobia!
See and hear for yourselves in his own words…
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Full text of message
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Today, Christian communities throughout the Middle East are shrinking, and many of them are endangered. This is, of course, not true in Israel. Here there is a strong and growing Christian community that participates fully in the life of our country. Israel is proud of its record of religious tolerance and pluralism, and Israel will continue to protect freedom of religion for all. And we will continue to safeguard places of Christian worship throughout our country. We will not tolerate any acts of violence or discrimination against any place of worship. This is not our way, and this is something we cannot accept.

So as you celebrate Christmas and your holy holidays, we hope that you will recall the places where Judaism and Christianity emerged, and then come see our ancient land with your own eyes: visit Nazareth and Bethlehem, wade into the Jordan River, stand on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
And next year, come visit our eternal capital, Jerusalem.

Happy holidays to all of you. May you all be blessed with a year of security, prosperity and peace.

‘FREEDOM LOVING’ ZIONISTS FUND THE HATRED ON NEW YORK’S SUBWAYS

Geller told me in an e-mail that “many clear-thinking and freedom-loving Jewish groups approve of my work.” 
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Who funds Pamela Geller? In 2010, it was a former Israel Project board member
 Alex Kane

Geller at 9/11 Conference
Pamela Geller speaks at a September 11, 2012 conference (AP Photo/David Karp)

The nation’s leading anti-Muslim blogger and activist is back at it again in the New York City subway system. On December 17, Pamela Geller, who runs the blog Atlas Shrugs and is the head of Stop Islamization of America and the American Freedom Defense Initiative, had inflammatory ads put up in 50 subway stations at a cost of over $10,000. The ads picture the World Trade Center burning on September 11 and quote a Qu’ran verse–tying the religion of Islam to the terrorist attacks.

And in September, she put up another round of anti-Muslim advertisements at a cost of thousands of dollars. Many of them were altered and defaced by activists.

All of this begs the question: who is paying for Geller’s antics?

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The latest advertisements that went up in the subway December 17.

It remains unclear who exactly is funding the ad buys. In an e-mail to Mondoweiss, Geller said “all the money for the ads comes from supporters’ donations.” On the American Freedom Defense Initiative’s website, a donation button urges readers to “fund the fight.” But the word “supporters” is not exactly revealing. (It’s also worth noting that Geller won a $4 million divorce settlement and $5 million in life insurance.)

Tax records, though, show who partly funded Geller two years ago, when she first made a big name for herself leading the fight against the Park 51 Islamic center in lower Manhattan. These details have not been reported by other media outlets.

A foundation called the Alan and Hope Winters Foundation gave $5,000 to the American Freedom Defense Initiative in 2010, the Geller-led outfit behind the anti-Muslim advertisements. The foundation also gave money to a host of other anti-Muslim outfits that year, including the neoconservative Hudson Institute ($25,000) and David Yerushalmi’s Society of Americans for National Existence ($115,000).

Geller said that the Winters’ money went to her activism around Park 51. But the fact that a big-pocketed foundation gave cash to Geller’s group raises the question as to whether other foundations are likewise funding Geller’s ad buying spree.

Regardless of the answer to that question, the Winters donation is interesting in its own light. Hope Winters was on the board of The Israel Project in 2006 and 2007, according to 990 tax forms reviewed. It is the clearest example yet of how members of the Israel lobby are tied to Geller, a woman who told The New York Times that “a very good guide” to how she sees the world is the “prism of Israel.” Indeed, her last ads read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man.” And next to those words were the following: “Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.”

The Israel Project (TIP) is a thoroughly-mainstream and well-connected shop that seeks to put “a more positive public face of Israel” out for everyone to see. TIP works with journalists to inform–or spin– the American public about the region. The group’s influence can be seen in the fact that a number of Senators and Representatives from both parties sit on its “board of advisors.”

Currently, TIP is headed by Josh Block, a former spokesperson for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. TIP did not respond to requests for comment on this story.

So what’s a former board member with TIP doing funding Geller’s hateful crusade against an Islamic center? Winters did not respond to inquiries relayed to her through an associate who helps handle her foundation’s finances. But it’s not too hard to guess.

TIP’s and Geller’s goals converge when it comes to Israel. They both support hawkish right-wing Israeli governments bent on colonizing the West Bank. They both want aggressive U.S. or Israeli action against Iran. Geller’s whole shtick is to cast Israel as a Western outpost in a sea of Arab and Islamic barbarism–the first line of defense in the “war on terror.” More subtly, TIP sees the Middle East in that way as well.

And TIP has other links to well-known Islamophobes. As the Institute for Policy Studies’ Right Web project notes, the Center for Security Policy’s Frank Gaffney spoke at a 2007 TIP-organized press conference about the “Iranian threat.” When Gaffney is not pushing for aggressive action against Iran, he’s pontificating about the threat of Muslim Brotherhood infiltration in the U.S. government and how sharia law is slowly taking over. Crazy stuff, but TIP has no problem with it.

The explicit links between Geller and TIP are a sharp contrast to how other mainstream Jewish groups have reacted to her anti-Muslim ad buys. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Jewish Community Relations Council condemned Geller’s September ads, which conflated Muslims and Palestinians with “savages.” But these groups have themselves dabbled in explicit Islamophobia. A Dallas branch of the ADL, for instance, once held a screening for the film “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.”

Geller told me in an e-mail that “many clear-thinking and freedom-loving Jewish groups approve of my work.” 

While Geller remains a step too far for some groups, like the ADL, she operates within the larger context of Islamophobia that has been aided by Israel lobby groups. Think of her as the tip of the big spear pushed by more mainstream pro-Israel groups. And her links with The Israel Project bring the Geller tip that much closer to the mainstream establishment.

 

Written FOR

PAMELA GELLER’s NEW ROUND OF HATRED ON THE WALLS

Once again Pamela Geller takes her hatred to the walls of the New York subway system. Despite MTA’s disclaimer, the ads are scheduled to appear today ….
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Anti-Islam Subway Ads By Pamela Geller Feature Exploding World Trade Center, Quote From The Quran (PHOTO)

New York City’s resident Islamophobe is back with yet another anti-Islam subway ad. Pamela Geller‘s latest features a photo of the World Trade Center exploding in flames next to a quote from the Quran that reads, “Soon shall We cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers.”

When Geller last bought ad space in the NYC underground, New Yorkers didn’t react too kindly. Nearly all of the signs– which read “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad“– werevandalized.

As a result, The Observer reports Geller doubled her ad buy this time, and that “the new ads will be plastered across at least 50 different locations.”

“I refuse to abridge my free speech so as to appease savages,” she said.

Additionally, Geller’s latest bout of vitriol will come with a MTA disclaimer:

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“A cost of opening our ad space to a variety of viewpoints on matters of public concern is that we cannot readily close that space to certain advertisements on account of their expression of divisive or even venomous messages,” the MTA stated at the time of the “savages” ad. “The answer to distasteful and uncivil speech is more, and more civilized, speech.”

 

Source    

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A new group, Jews Against Islamophobia added the following;

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Jewish Groups Condemn (Yet Again) Ads

Promoting Hate and Anti-Muslim Bigotry:

Call for Unequivocal Repudiation of Islamophobia

 

Monday, Dec. 17, 2012 The Jews Against Islamophobia (JAI) Coalition condemns the latest hate-mongering ads, sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), that are scheduled to appear in New York City subway stations today. “New York residents have already demonstrated that we don’t want such ads in our city. In a month when many people gather with their loved ones for Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and other seasonal celebrations, Jews must recommit ourselves anew to standing up against these ads and all forms of Islamophobia,” pledged JAI Coalition member and director of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), Marjorie Dove Kent.

 

The ad shows a picture of the World Trade Center in flames, next to a quote from the Koran, and reads: “Soon shall we cast terror into the heart of the unbelievers.”

 

“But, of course, a bigot can play this game of selective quotation with any religion. Find a picture of horrifying violence committed by some Jews or Christians — there are a depressingly large number — and juxtapose it with one of the following quotes from scripture: “I come not to bring peace, but a sword” [Matthew 10:34] or “Only in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes” [Deuteronomy 20:16]),” notes JAI Coalition member Alan Levine.

 

The AFDI ad—which cost about $70,000—is part of a nationwide campaign to demonize Muslim and Arab Americans. In the past six months, AFDI has funded hate ads in Westchester, New York City, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. In each of these cases, a wide range of interfaith and civil rights groups came together to denounce the ads and to stand up for unity and solidarity. The AFDI’s Pamela Geller is co-founder of Stop the Islamization of America, identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.

 

“Geller’s ads contribute to creating an even more hostile climate than already exists for the Muslim community, many of whom are already living in fear of street harassment, bullying, and other forms of verbal and physical violence,” says JAI Coalition member Jon Moscow. “We all have a responsibility to make sure this does not continue. We call on New Yorkers to respond individually and collectively to repudiate this vicious attempt to divide our city and to strongly condemn these ads.”

 

This anti-Muslim ad campaign takes place in the context of a post-9/11 atmosphere of fear, hate, and bigotry in the United States that targets Muslims, Arabs, Middle Easterners, Sikhs and other South Asians.  “While we find shocking the blatant Islamophobia in the ads and strongly condemn this vicious hate speech, we also condemn ongoing governmental policies of racial and religious profiling,” emphasized director of Jewish Voice for Peace, Rebecca Vilkomerson, whose group is also a member of the JAI Coalition. “For example, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) has been engaged in police surveillance of Muslims that has flagrantly violated the community’s civil and human rights. These Islamophobic acts help make possible the hate-filled atmosphere in which people like Geller thrive.” Despite the NYPD commitment of time, money, and personnel to its widespread surveillance and spying program in the Muslim community, it has not, according to the Commanding Officer of the NYPD Intelligence Division, generated a single lead or triggered a terrorism investigation.Communities have organized in response to NYPD surveillance and spying, including groups coming together to support City Council bills that would begin to hold the NYPD accountable for these actions.

 

People across New York City are once again joining the Muslim community to oppose these ads and to ensure that the rights of all our communities are fully protected and that no group is subjected to any form of harassment or racism. The JAI Coalition pledges to continue to be part of that movement for justice.

 

FREE SPEECH AND HATE SPEECH

hate-speech-is-not-free-speech
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In a nutshell, free speech, though not an absolute value in itself, is a positive value and ought to be protected and defended; but hate, malicious and vulgar speech is a negative value that ultimately leads to bloodshed and war.
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My response to America’s fanatical libertarians
Just as American libertarians insist that no other value should be more paramount than freedom of speech, Americans should understand that other peoples have equally paramount values
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Khalid Amayreh 
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In some recent internet articles, a number of American writers criticised and ridiculed me for arguing that Muslims have a legitimate right not to be offended by Islamophobes and other provocateurs just as Americans have a constitutional right to free speech, including the right to offend and despise others.

One writer argued that there was no such right not to be offended. Claiming “no one has the right to a world in which he is never despised,” the writer went as far as arguing that attacking free speech was even a greater blasphemy than a slur on the divine.

Furthermore, the writer went on, saying that “Amayreh doesn’t truly comprehend American core values when he says that ‘in the final analysis, a Muslim’s right not to be offended and insulted overrides a scoundrel’s rightto malign Muslims’ religious symbols.’ “

A second writer urged President Obama to refute my defence of Muslims’ rights not to be offended.

Well, Americans seem to have a world of their own just as we have a world of our own. Moreover, many Americans seem to harbour a certain subconscious conviction that non-Americans should unreservedly adopt, or subject themselves to, American values. That was the tacit message communicated ad nauseam by numerous Hollywood movies for many decades.

This condescending perception, often encapsulated in the Yankee slogan, “The American way,” is a natural symptom of American cultural imperialism and megalomania. 

Americans constitute a mere five per cent of humanity, and as such have no right to impose their values on the rest of humanity, however logical and rational these values may sound. There are other peoples in this world, including some 1.6 billion Muslims who adore and love their religion and Prophet.

I know freedom of speech is a sacred value in the United States and many other countries. However, just as American libertarians insist that no other value should be more paramount than this value, we expect the same Americans to understand that other peoples in other parts of the world have equally paramount values, including religious values.

In Matthew 5:29, it is said that “and if thy right eye offends thee, pluck it out, and cast it away from you.”

This biblical quotation should demonstrate that my argument about the right not to be offended is not far fetched and inherently incompatible with Western thinking.

Jesus never really maligned the religious symbols of other people. And the Quran urges Muslims not to “insult those whom they (disbelievers) worship, idols besides God, lest they insult God wrongfully without knowledge” (Al-Anaam,108).

Interestingly, blasphemy laws appeared in Western societies long before they appeared in the lands of Islam.

But all this talk may be virtually inconsequential to self-absorbed libertarians who think they are correct and everyone else is wrong.

According to America’s fanatical libertarians, Americans have an inherent and absolute right to free speech, which conceivably includes hate speech, incitement to murder, defamation and besmirching people’s images and reputation. 

Yet, we see American culture and media have a zero tolerance for critics of Israel and Zionism, particularly in the American arena, which really draws a huge question mark over Americans’ commitment to true freedom of speech.

I am not an advocate of hate speech even under the rubric of free speech. Hate speech could easily lead to mass murder and genocide. We should all remember that before there were Auschwitz, Bergen Belsen and Treblinka, there was Mein Kampf as well venomous anti-Jewish Nazi propaganda.

Needless to say, it was this virulent propaganda that desensitised Europe and much of the Western world to the systematic extermination of European Jewry and others.

In my humble opinion, free speech that is likely to lead to the loss of life is not worth protecting and defending. In the final analysis, a human being’s right to life is more important than a human being’s right to absolute, vulgar hate speech.

Yes, the two rights need not always be in a state of conflict. However, when a purported right has the potential of decimating the other more natural right, the right to life, there should be no question as to where our attention should be focused.

And as we all know, the matter is not merely academic, as recent events in parts of the Middle East have demonstrated.

There are, of course, those who claim that hate speech wouldn’t have to lead to bloodshed. Well, this might be true if the rest of the world adopted the American value system and believed in the First Amendment as God-incarnate. But to the chagrin of our American friends, the world is too diverse to adopt the American way and adhere to the American Constitution as the ultimate religion of mankind.

This shouldn’t mean though that the world is doomed to everlasting cultural confrontations. Conflicting cultural values need not evolve into wars of cultures or even worse, religious wars. A certain compromise solution ought to be found whereby a delicate balance is struck between the world’s various value systems, including the right to free speech versus the right not to be offended by hate speech.

In the final analysis, we have to give due consideration to the magical word: Respect. I realise how difficult it would be to legislate “respect” among heterogeneous communities let alone among diverse cultures.

Nonetheless, the present situation between Islam and the West where one group of people must be offended and insulted on the grounds that another group of people has an allegedly absolute right to free speech cannot be maintained. The global village has become too small to allow fanatical and unbridled American libertarianism to demean and insult other cultures.

In a nutshell, free speech, though not an absolute value in itself, is a positive value and ought to be protected and defended; but hate, malicious and vulgar speech is a negative value that ultimately leads to bloodshed and war.

 

ISLAMOPHOBES LOSE OUT IN CONGRESSIONAL RACES

Key members of what has been termed Congress’ “Islamophobia caucus” went down in their re-election fights last night, dealing a blow to anti-Muslim activists’ efforts to influence policy and the national discourse. National Muslim organizations celebrated their victories today.
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Key members of the Congressional ‘Islamophobia caucus’ swept from Congress
By Alex Kane
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West and Geller
Former Florida House Republican Allen West poses with anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller (Phota via DownWithTyranny.blogspot.com)
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Key members of what has been termed Congress’ “Islamophobia caucus” went down in their re-election fights last night, dealing a blow to anti-Muslim activists’ efforts to influence policy and the national discourse. National Muslim organizations celebrated their victories today.

Allen West (R-FL), Joe Walsh (R-IL) and Adam Hasner (R-FL) were three Republicans that had used anti-Muslim rhetoric throughout their elected careers. But now they’re out of a job (though Hasner was running for a Congressional seat he did not hold).

“Folks in their districts wanted to send a message: we will not allow divisive politics, we will not allow extremism to run our political conversation,” said Haris Tarin, the director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council’s Washington, D.C. office. “It also tells people that trying to divide Americans, by using anti-Muslim rhetoric, will not work in the long run.”

West, a former U.S. Army colonel, went down in Florida’s 18th Congressional district after Patrick Murphy squeaked by in a slim victory. West’s political career from the outset was marred by controversy; he is alleged to have threatened an Iraqi prisoner with death during an interrogation and to have fired shots near the prisoner–something that Murphy attacked him for in the campaign.

The Daily Beast’s Ali Gharib has more background on West’s Islamophobia:

In the House, West earned a reputation as a ferocious right-wing attack dog. The unfounded accusations that dozens of Communists populate the Congress’s Democratic caucus were nothing new, but his most novel legacy may be West’s inflammatory rhetoric about Muslims. Along with Reps. Steve King (R-IA) and Michele Bachmann (R-MN), West used his time in Congress to press his case that Islam is “not a religion” but a “totalitarian theocratic political ideology,” and that terrorism is inherent to the faith—not radical Islam, but Islam, writ large. He’s accused a fellow Member of Congress, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), a Muslim, of “represent(ing) the antithesis of the principles upon which this country was established.”

If all that wasn’t bad enough, West has shared a stage with America’s foremost anti-Muslim activist, Pamela Geller (who was recently in the news again). When he was called out for his ties to bigots like Geller and asked to respect Muslims’ right to worship freely, his one-word response made an apparent comparison between the request and Nazi overtures for an American surrender in World War II.

Illinois’ Walsh lost his Congressional seat to Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth. “With 93 percent of the unofficial vote counted, Duckworth had 55 percent, with 45 percent for Walsh,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Walsh, in addition to his far-right advocacy on the Israel/Palestine conflict, has also spewed anti-Muslim rhetoric.

In August, Walsh warned that radical Islamists were “trying to kill Americans every week” and that the next 9/11 was inevitable. Walsh also claimed that radical Islam “was here” in the Chicago suburbs. Shortly after Walsh’s remarks made waves, two Chicago-area Muslim centers were violently attacked.

Hasner was a former Florida state representative until 2010, and decided to run for a Florida House seat in 2012. But he lost to Lois Frankel last night. He was an up and coming Jewish Republican who is really cozy with Pamela Geller, the nation’s leading and most virulent anti-Muslim activist. Hasner also was a leader in ginning up fear over the non-existent threat of Sharia law coming to the U.S, and once invited notorious anti-Muslim politician Geert Wilders to a “free speech” conference.

“These encouraging results clearly show that mainstream Americans reject anti-Muslim bigotry by candidates for public office and will demonstrate that rejection at the polls,” Nihad Awad, executive director for the Council on American Islamic Relations, said in a statement. “This election witnessed an increased political awareness and mobilization effort among American Muslims that dealt a major blow to the Islamophobia machine.”

And while Michele Bachmann (R-MN), the undisputed leader of Islamophobia in U.S. government, ultimately won her race last night, it was extremely close. Despite spending 10 times the amount her opponent Jim Graves did, Bachmann only won by a few thousand votes. Bachmann is the woman who claimed, with no evidence, that there was Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of the U.S. government. MPAC’s Tarin said that the message voters in Bachmann’s district sent was, “if you continue to use this anti-Muslim rhetoric as your main platform issue, to divide Americans, it’s not going to work.”

In a press release, CAIR also noted some other races where anti-Muslim politicians went down: “In Arkansas, Rep. James McLean defeated Republican Charlie Fuqua, a candidate who advocated the deportation of all Muslims in a self-published book. In Minnesota, Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-MN) lost his seat. Cravaack was a key supporter’s of Rep. Peter King’s (R-NY) series of anti-Muslim hearings.”

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ISLAMOPHOBIA HAS BECOME A FULL FLEDGED INDUSTRY

 
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But the Islamophobia industry does not just exist in the fever swamps of the online world. There’s real on the ground work being done. And there are disparate players in this industry. They come, principally, from right-wing Zionism and evangelical Christianity, uniting to form a Judeo-Christian front in their battle against Islam. Their funders, too, come from these worlds–though the right-wing Zionist world has fueled the majority of anti-Muslim activists.
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An ‘industry’ built on hate: How the right-wing successfully brought anti-Muslim bigotry into the American mainstream

by Alex Kane

Ahmed Sharif was a 44-year-old Muslim Bangladeshi taxi driver in New York City. It was August 24, 2010, a time that marked the height of vitriolic protests against a planned Islamic center to be located in lower Manhattan, a few blocks away from the site of Ground Zero. Sharif picked up 21-year-old Michael Enright for an early evening ride. Everything was going smoothly until Enright, three blocks away from his stop, yelled at Sharif, “this is a checkpoint, motherfucker, and I have to bring you down.”

Enright, a filmmaker who kept a diary filled with strong anti-Muslim sentiment,pulled out a knife and slashed Sharif across the throat, face and arms. Enright tried to escape, but was arrested by the New York Police Department. Sharif survived, but he packed up and moved to Buffalo, in upstate New York. It was a crime that seemed to fit in with the general climate of hysteria over Muslims that developed that summer.

 

This is how Nathan Lean begins telling the story of how a small group of bigots seized upon the frustrations and fears of post-9/11 America and exploited those feelings to create a circular industry of hate. Lean’s new book, The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims, is a compact and punchy look at this industry stretching across continents that has sowed hatred of Muslims into the fabric of Western society.

The book, written by the editor-in-chief of Aslan Media, comes at an opportune time. Released in September 2012, the book landed just one month after American Muslims witnessed a stark increase in hate attacks during the holy month of Ramadan. A report by the Council on American Islamic Relationsdocumented that the Ramadan of 2012 “saw one of the worst spikes of anti-Muslim incidents in over a decade.”

From the beginning of 2012 to July 20, which is when Ramadan began, there were 10 incidents in which Muslim places of worship were targeted. During Ramadan–specifically over 13 days in August–”Muslim places of worship were targeted eight times.” These incidents include the destruction of a mosque in Missouri by fire; the leaving of pig legs at a planned mosque site in California; and the firing of air rifles outside a mosque in Illinois.

How, exactly, did we get here? By the time Ramadan of 2012 rolled around, it had been almost 11 years since the September 11, 2001 attacks were carried out by a group of Islamic fundamentalists part of Al Qaeda. You would expect anti-Muslim bigotry to decrease after the wounds of 9/11 healed, after it became clear that the vast majority of American Muslims have no inclination to attack their own country. You would be wrong.

Jumping from the U.S. to Israel to Europe, Lean traces the arc of the Islamophobic sentiment that has exploded in the West. The foreword from scholar on Islam John Esposito lays out the importance of Lean’s work: “It exposes the multi-million dollar cottage industry of fear mongers and the network of funders and organizations that support and perpetuate bigotry, xenophobia, and racism, and produce a climate of fear that sustains a threatening social cancer.”

Lean properly places anti-Muslim bigotry in the context of American hysteria over religions and ideologies that refused to conform to mainstream standards. Before jumping into the contemporary context, he reminds readers that Catholics were once the target of acceptable religious bigotry. The conspiracy theories spun out of thin air about Catholics would ring a familiar bell to those consuming Frank Gaffney’s utterly insane theory that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the U.S. government and is subverting it from within.

But by far the most important contribution Lean makes is his unmasking of the bigots who have infused American politics with virulent anti-Muslim sentiment. Lean zeroes in on a number of high-profile episodes and figures to make his points, from the pro-settler Clarion Fund’s distribution of an anti-Muslim film to the 2010 Values Voter summit to Anders Behring Breivik’s killing spree in Norway. Lean points to an “industry” of hate mongers that have gone to “great lengths to sell its message to the public.” The difference, though, between this industry and others is that “in many cases the very networks that spread their products are themselves participants in the ruse to whip up public fear of Muslims….It is a relationship of mutual benefit, where ideologies and political proclivities converge to advance the same agenda.”

The most important nodes in this industry are the online peddlers of hate. The author particularly focuses on Pamela Geller, the blogger at the front of the network of Islamophobes in the U.S. You can see Geller’s fingerprints in many of the public battles over Islam in this country, most prominently the ginned-up hysteria over the Park 51 Islamic center. Currently, Geller is in the spotlight for a series of anti-Muslim ads she has put up in New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.–with more on the way. She has used her celebrity, boosted by Fox News (a principal player in the Islamophobia industry), to create cross-continental activist networks against Islam. Robert Spencer, Geller’s partner in crime, is also a focus of Lean’s. “People such as Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes, or Martin Kramer, all online Islamophobes, spread each others’ postings and write-ups to their own audience,” writes Lean. “With each new click of the mouse, the story grows.”

But the Islamophobia industry does not just exist in the fever swamps of the online world. There’s real on the ground work being done. And there are disparate players in this industry. They come, principally, from right-wing Zionism and evangelical Christianity, uniting to form a Judeo-Christian front in their battle against Islam. Their funders, too, come from these worlds–though the right-wing Zionist world has fueled the majority of anti-Muslim activists.

Right-wing Christian ideology places Muslims beyond the pale. “The idea that Muslims may also be in possession of God’s revelation and truth, is not only unacceptable, it is an offense so blasphemous that it must be stopped,” Lean notes. Evangelical Christians, as a core part of the Republican base, have actively pushed their ideas about Islam into the mainstream of American politics. They have been aided by figures such as Newt Gingrich, who while reinventing himself as an ardent Christian conservative has also spread panic about Sharia law taking over the United States. Many Christian conservatives are also, of course, Christian Zionists who see Israel as the fulfillment of biblical prophecy that will continue until the Messiah comes down again.

It is this Christian Zionism that closely binds right-wing evangelicals with strong supporters of the Jewish state. The Zionists who spread anti-Muslim bigotry can be placed in three camps, according to Lean: religious (Jewish) Zionism, Christian Zionism and political Zionism. “For Religious Zionists, prophecy is the main driver of their Islamophobic fervor. For them, Palestinians are not just unbidden inhabitants; they are not just Arabs in Jewish lands. They are not just Muslims, even. They are non-Jews–outsiders cut from a different cloth–and God’s commandments regarding them are quite clear,” he writes. And there is the political Zionism that sheds religious language but is still hostile towards Muslims. As Max Blumenthal wrote, these figures, some of whom are neoconservatives, believe that “the Jewish state [is] a Middle Eastern Fort Apache on the front lines of the Global War on Terror.”

Lean’s spot-on analysis about how Zionism is connected to Islamophobia is a refreshing departure from other works and institutions that shy away from examining the connection. The most prominent investigative reporting on Islamophobia and its sources of funding has come from the Obama-linked Center for American Progress (CAP). But the Zionist motivations of many of the funders CAP highlights are not interrogated. You have to turn to this piece by activists Donna Nevel and Elly Bulkin on those connections to get the full picture.

Lean also pinpoints how anti-Muslim bigtory has spread from the Internet world to the very heart of some government policies on terrorism. From the New York Police Department’s surveillance program to Peter King’s hearings on “Muslim radicalization,” anti-Muslim bigotry has become institutionalized in some quarters of government.

But Lean’s discussion of how parts of the U.S. government have become infused with Islamophobia does not tell the full story–and this is the main critique I have of an otherwise excellent book. Lean correctly focuses on how the right has manufactured fear and hatred of Muslims. But it would be wrong to leave out the other side of the equation: how liberals in this country who are part of the Democratic Party have also helped anti-Muslim sentiment to spread.

This is not to say that Democrats spew Islamophobia in their election campaigns. No, the Democratic Party does not go that far. But they are largely silent when ugly anti-Muslim bigotry comes into play, which allows the right to step into the vacuum in a debate over Islam in the U.S. When the Democrats run away from the issue, there is no one left in the mainstream to challenge the right’s Islamophobia.

As Deepa Kumar, author of her own book on Islamophobia, pointed out in The Nation, Islamophobia is a “bipartisan project.” Liberal Islamophobia, Kumar writes, “may be rhetorically gentler but it reserves the right of the US to wage war against ‘Islamic terrorism’ around the world, with no respect for the right of self-determination by people in the countries it targets.” You can see this liberal Islamophobia in action when you look at the fact that “Obama has continued Bush’s policies of torture, extraordinary rendition and pre-emptive prosecution. American Muslims continue to be harassed and persecuted by the state.” And then there was Obama counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan pronouncing that the NYPD’s targeting of Muslim in their surveillance program was legitimate. “My conversations with Commissioner [Ray] Kelly indicate he’s done everything according to the law,” Brennan told reporters.

While the White House walked back his comments, Brennan’s continued presence in the administration tells you all you need to know. Liberal Islamophobia’s march continues ahead–and ignoring how the Obama administration has failed to combat anti-Muslim bigotry is setting people up for failure. The way to combat Islamophobia is through activism and coalition-building, but if you ignore its manifestations no matter where they emanate from, you won’t get very far.

Besides that oversight, though, Lean’s The Islamophobia Industry is a vital contribution to the still-growing body of literature on anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. If you want to understand the genesis of the right’s toxic Islamophobia and how it has spread, pick up Lean’s book. You won’t regret it.

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CASHING IN ON ISLAMOPHOBIA

Some national Jewish organizations joined a coalition of religious groups calling on the Washington Metro system to donate profits from an anti-Islam ad to charity. 

Jewish Groups Want Anti-Islam Ad Profits for Charity

Joint Effort To Pressure Washington Subway Over ‘Jihad’ Ads

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Some national Jewish organizations joined a coalition of religious groups calling on the Washington Metro system to donate profits from an anti-Islam ad to charity.

“The placing of offensive, anti-Muslim ads in the D.C. Metro system is an important opportunity to affirm our commitment both to free speech and to a society that deplores hate and hate speech,” said Rabbi Batya Steinlauf, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington’s director of social justice and interfaith initiatives, and president of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington.

“We are all part of one community,” she said.

The ad, currently running in four train stations throughout the Washington area, reads, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” It was sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative.

Monday’s news conference was organized by the 28-member Shoulder-to-Shoulder: Standing with American Muslims, Upholding American Values and United Methodist Women. The coalition of Christian, Jewish and Muslim groups released a letter signed by 168 religious clergy members.

The letter states that the “ads espouse inaccurate and inflammatory stereotypes about American Muslims. These ads equate generalized ‘savages’ with ‘jihad,’ dangerously painting all Muslims as savages and suggesting that these generalized ‘savages’ must be defeated.”

Major Jewish organizations participating include Rabbis for Human Rights-North America, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and the Union for Reform Judaism.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority had sought to delay posting the four ads, calling for a one-month cooling-off period following the worldwide violence that followed the showing of the film “Innocence of Muslims.”

However, a U.S. District Court Judge in Washington cited the First Amendment’s right to free speech in denying Metro’s request.

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BLOOMBERG’S ANTI ARAB INTERESTS IN JERUSALEM

To any reasonable person who believes in humanism, democracy and the basic dignity of man, it is clear that Eliyahu is not fit to be a public figure or a religious leader, and less so one associated with an organization like MDA. Regrettably, MDA has not heeded calls to cancel this appointment.

This is where MDA supporters and all Israelis could use Mayor Bloomberg’s help. In the commemoration ceremony Bloomberg spoke of his father, a man who believed in “a world where your last name would not be cause for discrimination… where his son and daughter would have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.” These are powerful words. Eliyahu’s words and actions are the exact antitheses of such beliefs. Should Bloomberg step up and object to Eliyahu’s appointment and revoke his donation until Eliyahu is relieved, he will have earned his own place worthy of commemoration in the annals of Jerusalem and Israel.

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Michael Bloomberg and Magen David’s Anti-Arab Rabbi

Mayor Should Object to Shmuel Eliayhu as Board Head

GETTY IMAGES

By Zohar M. Nevo*

When one enters Jerusalem, two structures immediately catch the eye. The first is a digital sign informing the traveler when the next Sabbath begins and ends. The second is a building bearing a sign identifying it as the William H. Bloomberg MDA Jerusalem Station.

The building is the Jerusalem headquarters of Magen David Adom, Israel’s national emergency ambulance and blood bank service. The Bloomberg Station is a state-of-the-art facility renovated and expanded thanks to a donation made by the family of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and dedicated in October 2011 in memory of Mayor Bloomberg’s father.

 

Michael Bloomberg

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Michael Bloomberg

At the dedication ceremony, Bloomberg told the audience that his family had been attracted to MDA due to “…its spirit of volunteerism and its commitment to treating all people, of all religions and nationalities, absolutely equally.” Indeed, MDA prides itself on the treatment it provides during emergencies to both Jews and Arabs. It now seems, however, that MDA may need some rescuing of its own.

MDA has recently made a new addition to its ranks, and this time it is not a volunteer seeking to save lives. The ultra-Orthodox community had been critical of what it perceived as inappropriate mixing of the men and women volunteers, with a number rabbis even going so far as to issue an edict forbidding followers from volunteering. In response, MDA agreed to establish a rabbinical committee which would have the authority to dictate religious guidelines for the organization. The chairman of the committee, which started operating in June, is Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of Safed.

Eliyahu is the son of the deceased Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, who was chief rabbi of Israel from 1983 to 1993. In the last decade, it is the younger Eliyahu who has made a distinct, if infamous, name for himself.

In 2002, following a terrorist attack near Safed, Eliyahu called for the expulsion of Arab students from the local college. In a radio interview in 2004 he warned against the seduction of Jewish girls by young Arab men and called upon Jewish apartment owners not to rent to Arabs.

Following these statements, Eliyahu was charged by Israel’s attorney general with incitement to racism, a crime under Israeli law. The attorney general dropped the charge after Eliyahu agreed to release a statement claiming his remarks referred only to Arabs who actively supported terror and that he was otherwise respectful of all people.

In 2010 Eliyahu was at it again. Amid his concerns that a new medical school to be opened in Safed would attract more Arabs to the city, he published a letter, along with other rabbis, contending that selling or leasing land to non-Jews was prohibited according to Jewish religious law. He reinforced this message by organizing a conference to address the “danger of assimilation” in Safed. Eliyahu was not satisfied, however, by merely issuing statements, and later that year he personally visited an 89-year-old Holocaust survivor and veteran of the 1948 war who had rented out an apartment to Arab students in order to persuade him to terminate the lease. Once again, following calls by civil society organizations, Israel’s attorney general opened an investigation, which was recently dropped for lack of sufficient evidence to satisfy the burden of proof.

To any reasonable person who believes in humanism, democracy and the basic dignity of man, it is clear that Eliyahu is not fit to be a public figure or a religious leader, and less so one associated with an organization like MDA. Regrettably, MDA has not heeded calls to cancel this appointment.

This is where MDA supporters and all Israelis could use Mayor Bloomberg’s help. In the commemoration ceremony Bloomberg spoke of his father, a man who believed in “a world where your last name would not be cause for discrimination… where his son and daughter would have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.” These are powerful words. Eliyahu’s words and actions are the exact antitheses of such beliefs. Should Bloomberg step up and object to Eliyahu’s appointment and revoke his donation until Eliyahu is relieved, he will have earned his own place worthy of commemoration in the annals of Jerusalem and Israel.

*Zohar M. Nevo is a Jerusalem based attorney whose opinion pieces have appaeared in Haaretz and The Marker.

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STOP SPYING ON MUSLIMS

In this Jewish season of renewal and rebirth, in which we celebrate the universal value of equality of human rights, the New York Jewish community supports the local American Muslim community effected directly by this surveillance program. Every one of us should stand in solidarity when it comes to protecting the civil liberties — regardless of faith, ethnicity or race.
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Stop Spying on Muslims

Why the NYPD Needs Oversight

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By Rachel Kahn-Troster and Marjorie Dove Kent

What would it look like to have your movements and your friendships tracked simply because of your religion or where you prayed? Syed Farhaj Hassan knows. He stopped attending his mosque in New Jersey after discovering that the New York City Police Department had it under surveillance. Hassan, a specialist in the Army Reserve, told The Associated Press that he worried about his name, or the name of one of his mosques, turning up in a police intelligence dossier and jeopardizing his military security clearance or job prospects. He is one of eight American Muslims who filed a federal lawsuit in early June against the NYPD to force the department to change its surveillance tactics, which are aimed at singling out our Muslim neighbors and colleagues.

As Jews, we are just emerging from the Yamim Noraim, the High Holy Days, when our lives metaphorically become an open book before God and our year of deeds good and bad are examined and explained. But this examination is between God and us, not God and the state. Imagine if we worried that by going to synagogue for Yom Kippur, we would end up in the NYPD’s ledger of right and wrong. Under this aura of suspicion, the significance of the holy days would be replaced by mistrust and fear.

This is what the New York Muslim community must face. As Jews and as New Yorkers, we’ve been angered over the past year to read about targeted surveillance of Muslims by the NYPD. Numerous reports have shown that the NYPD has spied on Muslim student organizations, taken down the license plate numbers of people attending services at mosques and showed the inflammatory film “The Third Jihad” to hundreds of police trainees — targeting the Muslim community as a whole rather than acting on specific intelligence about individuals.

One NYPD practice that hit particularly close to home was the surveillance on college campuses, including infiltrating a student whitewater-rafting trip. For those of us who thrived in Hillels during our student years, it is unthinkable that those communities would cease to be safe spaces.

Jews have a historic vulnerability to abuses of power, and we feel especially responsible to ensure civil liberty protections for all New Yorkers. We know that the Jewish communities of New York City, like all communities, want to be assured that we are being kept safe against those who would do us harm. Keeping us safe, however, means that law enforcement should target suspects based on actionable evidence, not on those suspects’ religion, place of birth, race or ethnicity.

Two New York City Council members have introduced a bill that will create an Inspector General for the NYPD, which would have independent, broad authority to conduct investigations of the police department. Law enforcement officers would be required to report problems to the Inspector General and would also be protected from retaliation.

Inspectors General are a standard feature of government agencies — including the CIA, the FBI, and the U.S. Department of Justice — and most New York City agencies. While there are agencies that investigate individual cases, no mechanism exists to provide for independent investigations of NYPD policies and procedures to ensure that they are operating effectively and consistently with the law.

We encourage the City Council to adopt the Inspector General bill and its four companion bills, which would create additional safeguards against inappropriate NYPD surveillance and stop-and-frisk abuses. This includes prohibiting profiling by the NYPD, protecting New Yorkers against unlawful searches, and requiring officers to identify and explain themselves to the public.

In this Jewish season of renewal and rebirth, in which we celebrate the universal value of equality of human rights, the New York Jewish community supports the local American Muslim community effected directly by this surveillance program. Every one of us should stand in solidarity when it comes to protecting the civil liberties — regardless of faith, ethnicity or race.

Marjorie Dove Kent is the executive director of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice. Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster is the director of North American programs for Rabbis for Human Rights — North America.


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THE ZIONIST WAR AGAINST ISLAM

Don’t you think I am speaking about some rare cases of crazy rabbis hallucinating about ancient religious texts inside their parochial circles… These criminal rabbis are prominent and respected in their communities and have numerous followers, many with high college degrees from prestigious universities.
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The Jewish war on Islam
 
By Khalid Amayreh
 

There is an undeclared but ferocious Jewish war against Islam going on these days. One would have to be blind and deaf to deny this brazen fact.

In occupied East Jerusalem, government-backed Messianic Jews have been attacking and desecrating Islamic and, to a lesser extent, Christian holy places.

In the last few days, millenarian Jews, protected by para-military Israel police, have been attacking and beating peaceful Muslim worshipers at the Aqsa Mosque esplanade. The Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest Islamic site in the world.

According to observers of Israeli behavior in Occupied Jerusalem, the audacity and frequency of Israeli provocations at the Islamic sanctuary increased dramatically in recent weeks.

Sheikh Ikrema Sabri, the former head of the Supreme Muslim Council, warned that Messianic Jewish groups were “hell bent on provoking bloodshed on a wide scale in Jerusalem.”

“These religious maniacs believe that by inciting violence and causing bloodshed, they would expedite the appearance of a mythical Messiah who would create a world-wide Jewish empire ruled from Jerusalem.”

The extremists, who are backed by powerful religious and manifestly fascist parties in the Israeli Knesset or Parliament, don’t deny these accusations.

Moshe Feiglin, a Nazi-like Israeli politician who believes non-Jews should be stripped of their national and political rights, including the right to vote, this week led dozens of extremists to the Aqsa Mosque esplanade where he called for the demolition of Islamic Holy places.

Feiglin, also a prominent figure in the ruling Likud party, was arrested for a few minutes and then released to make further provocative statements against Islamic shrines.

The brief arrest had nothing to do with his incitement, according to an Israeli police spokesman.

Meanwhile, Jewish religious leaders continue to make statements and religious sermons offending Islam and Christianity. Some of the rabbis have even ruled that the status of non-Jews in general is not higher than that of animals such as donkeys.

Interestingly, such brashly racist statements don’t raise many eyebrows in Israel, neither among intellectuals nor politicians and religious leaders.

Those who dare criticize the so-called “rabbinic sages” for indulging in this Talmudic hallucination don’t do so out of rejection of Halakha or Jewish religious law, which views goyem or non-Jews, as animals walking on two feet, but rather because what is being said is politically wrong as could generate hostility for Jews among Gentiles.

Jewish incitement against Islam and Muslims is by no means confined to the Palestinian arena. This week, Jewish circles posted anti-Islam posters in four subway stations in Washington D.C.

The provocative add read:

“In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man,” the ad reads. “Support Israel/Defeat Jihad.”

The very same add was posted in a New York subway station two weeks ago, generating disgust and anger among Muslims.

Well, Jews are urged to thoroughly and honestly read and examine their Talmud and Old Testament in order to find for themselves who is Civilized and who is savage.

Anyone, Jew or gentile, can easily quote pornographically barbaric texts from both scriptures, underscoring the utter savagery and wickedness of religious Jewish thinking.

Jews should examine their ancient and recent history before hurling epithets of savagery and terrorism at Muslims.

Indeed, any honest comparison between Islam and Judaism would put Islam on a decidedly higher moral ground. In the final analysis, those living in glass houses, don’t throw stones.

But the anti-Islam Jewish circles, who unfortunately seem to represent a majority among Jews, have little concern for truth and honesty. Their ultimate goal is to spread lies, hatred, vindictiveness and malice.

In fact, Jews, especially those supporting Zionism or Jewish Nazism, are probably the last people on earth who are qualified to lecture humanity on civility and savagery.

The Jews were probably the first people on earth to carry out an organized genocide against another people for religious reasons. The Old Testament contains detailed records of this genocide.

Some Jewish apologists might argue that is grossly unfair to blame contemporary Jews for controversial religious scriptures written more than 3000 years ago.

Well, such a defensive reflex would probably be listened to were it not for the fact that for hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of Jews around the world, this genocidal mindset is still relevant today as it was 3000 ago.

Don’t we see and hear numerous rabbis out there who teach, even openly, that the life of a goy (non-Jew) has no sanctity and that a Jew might murder a gentile in order to harvest his or her organ if the Jew needed one!

Don’t you think I am speaking about some rare cases of crazy rabbis hallucinating about ancient religious texts inside their parochial circles… These criminal rabbis are prominent and respected in their communities and have numerous followers, many with high college degrees from prestigious universities.

Today, Jews incite against Islam and Muslims on five continents. Their tacit message is “hate, hate, and hate.”

When you call people “savages” and “terrorists” and other names just because they are fighting for their freedom and human rights, you are effectively inciting to murder. Vilification and demonizing always precede murder. Murder, including mass murder, is the ultimate fruit of mass hatred and incitement.

Jews ought to remember in case they have forgotten that before Auschwitz and Treblinka and Bergen Belsen, and even Kristalnacht, there was a Mein Kampf, the Nuremberg laws and the anti-Jewish mass hysteria.

In light, one might ask: Is this anti-Islam mass hysteria what Jews are trying to generate and produce? Are Jews trying to affect a holocaust for Muslims in Europe, North America and Australia in order to allow Israel to build more colonies for fanatical Jews in the West Bank ?

Jews reject both Islam and Christianity. The main reason for this illogical rejection is the timeless Jewish desire to retain and maintain the dubious prerogative of the “chosen people”

But Jews can’t be more deserving of heavenly salvation than other people just because some ancient Israelites worshiped God whereas other peoples and nations were pagans and worshipped idols. The Almighty doesn’t calculate matters this way. God deals with men on an individual basis. There are “chosen” individuals, not chosen people, and it doesn’t matter what ethnicity one belongs to.

Today many Jews worship power, money and sex, while others, and they are too many, worship the new Golem of Zionism, or Israel.

In the past, Jews tried and failed to poison and murder the Prophet of Islam. They also tried to decapitate and destroy the fledgling Muslim community in Madina by joining forces with the pagans of Arabia. Today’s Jews are doing the same thing by joining ranks with hysterical Christian Zionists seeking world domination. This coalition of evil, too, will fail and Islam will triumph.

But when Islam ultimately prevailed and Muslims built a huge Muslim state based on justice and tolerance, Jews enjoyed religious, political and economic freedoms.

Jews didn’t survive all these centuries because of their power. They survived because Islam catered for them and protected them from danger, near and distant. It is sad that Jews are now expressing their gratitude to Muslims by urging and instigating Westerners in America and Europe and elsewhere to hate and kill them.

 

‘NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT, IT’S JUST THE MOHAMMED CARTOONS’

All images ‘Copyleft’ by Carlos Latuff
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