Monthly Archives: September 2013

Islamophobia and Israel Politics – a series of articles in Alternet

By Donna Nevel and Elly Bulkin

Pamela Geller’s Islamophobic ads on public transit in the Bay Area.

Within a national and international framework, we consider Islamophobia in the context of its relationship with Israel and the U.S. “war on terror.” We have written the following four pieces (see links below) to analyze these intersections and to make more visible a topic that has so often been taboo within, as well as outside, the Jewish community.

Our first article, “How the Jewish Establishment’s Litmus Test on Israel Fuels Anti-Muslim Bigotry,” examines the ways in which the mainstream Jewish community applies the “good Muslim-bad Muslim” paradigm, most often in relation to Israel, to determine which Muslims (or Arabs) are “good” or “bad.” “Follow the Money: From Islamophobia to Israel Right or Wrong” documents the financial connection between Islamophobes and right-wing pro-Israel politics. “How the Anti-Defamation League Fuels Islamophobia” describes how the Anti-Defamation League, which bills itself as a premier civil rights organization, participates frequently in fomenting and perpetuating Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism, especially against those who do not share its adamantly pro-Israel politics.

Finally, “How Pro-Israel Forces Drove Two Virulent Anti-Muslim Campaigns” considers the lessons we can learn from two Islamophobic campaigns, one involving an Islamic cultural center and one an Arab dual language public school, in which Israel politics played a central and destructive role. We hope that the articles, published in Alternet (the most recent published on 9/21/13), can be useful resources in the struggle to understand Islamophobia and anti-Arab racism and to challenge them as effectively as we can.

Elly Bulkin is a writer and editor. Donna Nevel is a community psychologist and educator. They were founding members of Jews Against Islamophobia Coalition and steering committee members of Communities in Support of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, and are helping to develop a new project–Jewish Voice for Peace Network Against Islamophobia. They can be reached at challengingislamophobia@gmail.com.

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Three Steps Forward, Two Steps Back

by Marilyn Kleinberg Neimark

On the same day The New York Times–in a groundbreaking move for the grey lady–
published Ian Lustick’s op-ed on the impossibility of a two-state solution, the paper also revealed that it still has cold feet when it comes to news reporting on the U.S. relationship with Israel.

Days earlier, the Guardian newspaper in Great Britain reported that the “The National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens.” I expected the story to make headlines in America’s newspaper of record. After all, thanks to whistleblower Edward Snowden, the report, by Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poltras and Ewen MacAskill, included a smoking gun, the actual “memorandum of understanding” between the NSA and Israel. And the story was promptly reported in The Washington Post , The Los Angeles Times and linked to in The Huffington Post. At The New York Times, however, silence reigned and now, thanks to the doggedness of a combination of NYT’s readers and its public editor, Margaret Sullivan, we now know why. It just wasn’t important enough: Continue reading

Chill the Champagne?

by Marilyn Kleinberg Neimark

In a world with a surfeit of bad news, two recent victories for freedom of expression are worth celebrating. Both were cases in which apologists for the occupation sought — unsuccessfully! — to stifle criticism of Israeli policies.

The first ruling, which came down last month from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), threw out claims that three University of California campuses — Berkeley, Irvine and Santa Cruz — violated TItle VI of the Civil Rights Act by fostering antisemitic climates by allowing protests against Israeli policies to take place. As part of the ongoing “lawfare” campaign to silence pro-Palestinian speech, some Jewish UC students contended that the political speech expressed in these demonstrations created a “hostile” atmosphere and amounted to illegal harassment and intimidation. But encountering views contrary to one’s own, hardly constitutes harassment, the OCR concluded. As their letter closing the Berkeley complaint aptly stated, “In the university environment, exposure to such robust and discordant expressions, even when personally offensive and hurtful, is a circumstance a reasonable student in higher education may experience.” That something so obvious would be contested through a series of formal complaints suggests that there is nothing “reasonable” about students cynically trying to silence political opponents. Continue reading