Tag Archives: Islamophobia

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.

UC Irvine’s Muslim Student Union possibly suspended for 1 year for Israeli ambassador protest

When is the last time you heard of a student group being suspended for a year for doing what student groups do all the time-protesting a speaker? Probably never. And therein lies the question– some members of the Muslim Student Union (MSU) of UC Irvine planned to disrupt Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s talk at the campus. Eleven of them did so and were peacefully escorted out of the room by security, one by one. The plan was discussed on the MSU e-list but planned separately, according to the students’ attorney Reem Salahi. In fact, MSU members were divided on the protest so did not endorse it.

And yet, as UC Irvine’s Daily Pilot reports: “A UC Irvine student conduct committee has recommended suspending the Muslim Student Union, following repeated disruptions by several of its members during a February speech by the Israeli ambassador, a campus spokeswoman said. The recommendation has not taken effect because the student group has appealed the decision, said UCI spokeswoman Cathy Lawhon.”

If something seems off here, the Los Angeles Times thinks so too in UC Irvine protest case raises questions about discipline practices. They say “Experts say it’s unusual for a whole group to be sanctioned in civil disobedience cases.” Indeed. Is such a judgment fair or consistent? And if not, why not?

Attorney Reem Salahi responds with this damning litany of hypocrisy:

The University’s disciplinary recommendation never explains why the alleged violations and particularly the alleged lie justifies the massive, unprecedented sanction that the University has levied against the MSU.  In the past, UCI has permitted protestors to disrupt speakers by heckling, breaking into song and even, on one occasion, allowing an organized group of students to surround an MSU speaker critical of Israel with posters and continually shout him down to the point that he was unable to be heard. Neither these students nor their respective organizations were administratively sanctioned. Similarly egregious protests have taken place at the different UCs with little to no administrative response.

At UC Riverside earlier this academic year, Republican students shouted down and visually blocked a panel of speakers. These students espoused hate speech and yelled homophobic and racist epithets at the panelists.  Police and administrators stood by and permitted the presentation to be thoroughly disrupted for over an hour.  They made no attempt to detain, arrest or identify those students, even though the faculty speakers and others present could readily identify them.  Nor did they conduct an investigation, punish them, or punish the campus organization with which these disorderly students were associated. Similarly at UC Berkeley, pro Israeli students interrupted a distinguished pro-Palestinian scholar and UN Special Rapporteur using a bullhorn after they were explicitly told by the police not to do so. They were not arrested and following an internal investigation, no disciplinary sanctions were levied. So, while the University preaches the “marketplace of ideas,” the disparate treatment of those who speak on the wrong side of the Israel/Palestine question reveals the weakness of the University’s commitment to this ideal.

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Pt. II Dershowitz et al, “The worst two hours of my life.”

That’s what a Palestinian friend from the West Bank said after what was at times a hateful, nasty 2-hour long harangue by Anne Bayefsky, Jon Voight, Elie Wiesel, Alan Dershowitz, Natan Sharansky and Shelby Steele. “I just listened to 2 hours of demonization of Palestinians and Muslims fueled by racism and hate,” said my clearly shaken friend.

I already posted some choice quotes by Jon-the-new-Holocaust-Voight. The tour de force of the session, ostensibly on anti-semitism but really promoting anti-Arab/Palestinian/Muslim hate, was Alan Dershowitz. (Although conservative African American scholar Shelby Steele, who gets plenty of applause from a room  filled with white people, reaches a whole new depth in his theory about the end of white supremacy and the deep shame of people of color regarding their own inadequacies.)

Dershowitz is the schoolyard bully all grown-up, very smart and even angrier. Watching him, you feel like he might explode. Like all good demagogues, he knows how to whip up an audience at the most nasty applause lines. I admit it. I’m scared of him.

In the age of Obama and Iraq war exhaustion, the War on Terror clearly no longer provides the right wing Israel lobby with the umph it needs to delegitimize Palestinian claims for justice or, frankly, simple human decency. Here, Dershowitz launches a new frame. Netanyahu et al have been pushing the Hitler/Ahmedinejad comparison for some time now. But this is the first time I’ve heard such a sweeping condemnation of Palestinians (with a few exceptions of course, because Dersh “doesn’t like to generalize”) as Nazis. Excerpts from video above:

“Painful truths about the Holocaust today are being suppressed by college campuses, they’re being suppressed wherever the Palestinian conflict is being discussed. My painful job today is to talk about one of those very difficult historical truths that many would prefer to see ignored..

The terrible, terrible, terrible tragedy is that there is a direct unbroken line between Hitler and [the anti-semitic Palestinian Mufti} Husseini  on the one hand, and today Hamas and radical Islamic Jihadists on the other hand. They are the heirs of Hitler. Ahmedinejad their spoonsor is the heir of Hitler. Those who are complicit in that evil are complicit in the evil of  Nazism. Nazism has not disappeared from the world today. It has the same genocidal goals….

Woe unto any of you out there who support Hamas. You are supporting Hitler’s heirs. Whether you consider yourself a leftist or a centrist, you are complicit in the worst evil of the twentieth century. And there is no way of breaking that bond. As long as Hamas maintains its genocidal attitudes towards the Jewish people…

This conference is a hate fest. Like Nuremberg was a hate fest…

Durban I traces its roots to Nuremberg. It traces its roots to the Nazi-Husseini alliance.

There is a lot to say about his line of reasoning. In future posts.

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting on Islamophobia: tip toes to the edge but won’t jump in

FAIR\'s Smearcasters report now available

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) has done us all a service by publishing this important downloadable report, Smearcasters: How Islamophobes spread fear, bigotry and misinformation. It is filled with a familiar right-wing cast of characters like self-styled “terrorism expert” Steve Emerson, inveterate Muslim-basher Daniel Pipes, David Horowitz “the Islamophobia movement’s premier promoter”, and Fox talking heads Sean Hannity and BIll O’Reilly.

So what’s wrong with the report? While FAIR documents numerous examples of false reporting, hyperbole, McCarthyite innuendo and pure hate promulgated by these people, they seem to self-censor and deliberately avoid the obvious: the central role played by US-based Likudnik groups in funding and promoting much of this anti-Muslim hysteria.

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Millions of free anti-Muslim DVDs delivered over weekend to newspaper subscribers in swing states

“But we’re non-partisan!” claims the mysterious Clarion Fund, funders of the unprecedented campaign. Tikun Olam reports that the infamous propaganda film arriving in some 28 million American homes over the next few weekends, Obsession, was already being given to young Jews on free Birthright trips to Israel. The Republican Jewish Coalition has also been giving copies to rabbis and other Jews.

Jews on First has a lot more on the kooky right and the “shadowy” Clarion Fund.

Sure, if you’ve got more-money-than-G-d it’s OK to buy 28 million DVDs to send to anyone you want. It’s a free country, isn’t it? Yeah, but this slickly manipulative film, complete with sinister soundtrack, isn’t about thoughtful debate. It’s about demonizing an entire religion, and its some 1 billion adherents (and, as illustrated by attacks on Obama, their progeny), in order to reinforce an outmoded world view/foreign policy that it’s either US or THEM. Far from making Americans safer, this kind of trash only strengthens extremists, on both sides.This is also the kind of thinking that helped get the declining Empire into the mess we’re in. Brute force as a way to achieve peace in the Middle East. Yeah, Palestinians, traditionally among the most secular of Arabs, are just causing all this trouble because they HATE the West. It has nothing to do with, oh, stealing land and resource, and repression. No.

Face it: blatant, stupid, bigoted, unconscionable propagandistic Islamophobia is completely socially acceptable.

And now, it may help swing an election.

We should be ashamed.