Tag Archives: David Yerushalmi

Far-right Jewish white supremacist authors Tennessee anti-Islam bill

The wave of Islamophobia continues to spread across the United States, as a Tennessee bill now on the table would make “following the Islamic code known as Shariah law a felony, punishable by 15 years in jail.”  The author behind this bill, one of 15 similar pieces of legislation being considered in states around the U.S., is a notorious, far-right figure:  David Yerushalmi.

Mother Jones‘ Tim Murphy has the story:

Yerushalmi, a lawyer, is the founder of the Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE), which has been called a “hate group” by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). His draft legislation served as the foundation for the Tennessee bill, and at least half a dozen other anti-Islam measures—including two bills that were signed into law last year in Louisiana and Tennessee.

With the exception of SB 1028, much of Yerushalmi’s legislation sounds pretty innocuous: State courts are prohibited from considering any foreign law that doesn’t fully honor the rights enshrined in the US and state constitutions. Because a Taliban-style interpretation of Islamic law is unheard of in the United States, the law’s impact is non-existent at best. But critics of some of the proposed bills have argued they could have far-reaching and unintended consequences, like undoing anti-kidnapping statutes, and hindering the ability of local companies to enter into contracts overseas.

But Tennessee’s SB 1028 goes much further, defining traditional Islamic law as counter to constitutional principles, and authorizing the state’s attorney general to freeze the assets of organizations that have been determined to be promoting or supporting Sharia. On Monday, CAIR and the ACLU called for lawmakers to defeat the bill.

Yerushalmi has quite the checkered past.  Here’s what I wrote on him following an event in which two Congressional Republicans were presented a report, co-authored by Yerushalmi, on the “threat” sharia law apparently poses to the U.S.:

Yerushalmi has been aptly described as a “Jewish fascist” by blogger Richard Silverstein.  As Silverstein highlighted in August 2007, Yerushalmi has said:

One must admit readily that the radical liberal Jew is a fact of the West and a destructive one…Indeed, Jews in the main have turned their backs on the belief in G-d and His commandments as a book of laws for a particular and chosen people…What interest does America have in a strong Israel? If your answer is democracy in a liberal or western sense, know you have sided with the Palestinians of Hamas.

Yerushalmi was a member of the Stop the Madrassa Coalition, which was instrumental in the anti-Arab, anti-Muslim smear campaign that brought down Debbie Almontaser, the founding principal of Khalil Gibran International Academy, a dual-language Arabic school in Brooklyn.  He has followed his Islamophobic buddies Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer in joining in their war against the Muslim community center near Ground Zero, and is an attorney with the so-called American Freedom Defense Initiative, which is run by Geller and Spencer.

That’s not even the worst part.  Charles Johnson, the blogger at the formerly right-wing, hawkish website Little Green Footballs who “parted ways with the right” for, in part, its “Anti-Islamic bigotry that goes far beyond simply criticizing radical Islam, into support for fascism, violence, and genocide (see: Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, etc.),” has the rundown on Yerushalmi:

This is a good time for some background information on Pamela Geller’s associate David Yerushalmi, who is an advocate for criminalizing Islam itself and imposing 20-year sentences on practicing Muslims. Yes, really.

He’s not simply anti-Muslim, though; Yerushalmi also wrote a now-infamous article titled “On Race: A Tentative Discussion, Part II,” in which he advocated a return to a pre-Bill of Rights Constitution, and the restriction of voting rights to white male land-owners. Again … yes, really.

Here’s a lengthy article at Talk To Action on the bizarre views and causes of David Yerushalmi: Anti-Semitic White-Supremacist Orthodox Jew Tries To Ban Islam In US.

Yerushalmi has deleted as much evidence of the “On Race” article as he could; he removed it from the Internet Archive and the Google cache, and put his entire website behind a registration wall. But here’s a PDF that contains the full article, and it’s as ugly and twisted a piece of racism as anything I’ve ever seen. Yerushalmi opens by calling Islam “an evil religion,” and “blacks … the most murderous of peoples.”

A quote:

“There is a reason the founding fathers did not give women or black slaves the right to vote. You might not agree or like the idea but this country’s founders, otherwise held in the highest esteem for their understanding of human nature and its affect on political society, certainly took it seriously. Why is that? Were they so flawed in their political reckonings that they manhandled the most important aspect of a free society – the vote? If the vote counts for so much in a free and liberal democracy as we ‘know’ it today, why did they limit the vote so dramatically?”

How the U.S. Government Promotes Islamophobia

I often focus on organizations and individual right-wing activists outside the U.S. government that have stoked anti-Muslim sentiment here.  But the U.S. government itself is just as culpable in promoting a McCarthyist climate of fear where every Muslim-American is considered a “terror threat” and Islam is turned into the new bogeyman of the day.

The latest installment in the Washington Post‘s investigative series by Dana Priest and William Arkin, “Top Secret America,” provides a look into how the U.S. government is mired in the deep swamp that is Islamophobia in America (emphasis mine):

Seeking to learn more about Islam and terrorism, some law enforcement agencies have hired as trainers self-described experts whose extremist views on Islam and terrorism are considered inaccurate and counterproductive by the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies…

Ramon Montijo has taught classes on terrorism and Islam to law enforcement officers all over the country.

“Alabama, Colorado, Vermont,” said Montijo, a former Army Special Forces sergeant and Los Angeles Police Department investigator who is now a private security consultant. “California, Texas and Missouri,” he continued.

What he tells them is always the same, he said: Most Muslims in the United States want to impose sharia law here.

“They want to make this world Islamic. The Islamic flag will fly over the White House – not on my watch!” he said. “My job is to wake up the public, and first, the first responders.”

With so many local agencies around the country being asked to help catch terrorists, it often falls to sheriffs or state troopers to try to understand the world of terrorism. They aren’t FBI agents, who have years of on-the-job and classroom training…

Amazingly, the Center for Security Policy, a neoconservative think tank, is also being listened to by the U.S. homeland security apparatus:

A book expanding on what Shoebat and Montijo believe has just been published by the Center for Security Policy, a Washington-based neoconservative think tank. “Shariah: The Threat to America” describes what its authors call a “stealth jihad” that must be thwarted before it’s too late.

The book’s co-authors include such notables as former CIA director R. James Woolsey and former deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin, along with the center’s director, a longtime activist. They write that most mosques in the United States already have been radicalized, that most Muslim social organizations are fronts for violent jihadists and that Muslims who practice sharia law seek to impose it in this country.

Frank Gaffney Jr., director of the center, said his team has spoken widely, including to many law enforcement forums.

“Members of our team have been involved in training programs for several years now, many of which have been focused on local law enforcement intelligence, homeland security, state police, National Guard units and the like,” Gaffney said. “We’re seeing a considerable ramping-up of interest in getting this kind of training.”

The fact that Gaffney speaks with law enforcement on how to combat “terrorism” is disturbing.  Matt Duss of Think Progress explains that Gaffney is a person who thinks that “Obama is a Muslim, question[s] whether Obama is an American citizen, [and] believe[s] that the U.S. Missile Defense Agency’s new logo is a sign of the president’s ‘submission to sharia.’”  Gaffney is not an expert on Islam.  In fact, Gaffney did not consult a single Islamic scholar on his “report” on shariah law, and only started studying the religion three years ago.

What’s more, as I explained here, the Center for Security Policy’s general counsel is David Yerushalmi, an advocate for criminalizing Islam and who once wrote that “blacks [are]…the most murderous of peoples.”

Another recent instance of the U.S. government promoting Islamophobia was the arrest of Mohamed Osman Mohamud in Oregon, which in reality was, as Glenn Greenwald put it, the FBI successfully thwarting its own plot.

The next day, this happened:

U.S. investigators said a fire at an Islamic center in Oregon on Sunday was arson and warned they would tolerate no retribution for an attempt by a Somali-born teenager to detonate what he thought was a car bomb.

The Media’s Construction of the ‘Ground Zero Mosque': How Islamophobic blogs manufactured a controversy

This article, by Steve Rendall of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting and myself, originally appeared in the October 2010 issue of FAIR’s Extra! magazine.

How did a local story about a proposal to build an Islamic cultural center in Lower Manhattan turn into a national controversy about whether a “Ground Zero Mosque” would be a slap in the face to 9/11 victims?

It started with a small group of anti-Muslim activists who suggested the proposal was a scheme by anti-American Muslims to “conquer” the hallowed site of the September 11 attacks (Big Government, 5/18/10). Some even suggested that the Imam behind the proposal was an Al-Qaeda supporter (Fox News, 5/13/10). The project was named “Cordoba House,” opponents argued, in honor of the Islamic conquest of Spain, where Muslim victors built a mosque on the ruins of a sacked church (Newt.org, 6/21/10). How could anyone miss the parallels?

Created on small anti-Muslim blogs, the “Ground Zero Mosque” framing was eventually adopted by bigger right-wing outlets before making extensive inroads into broader corporate media.

Every key point in the opponents’ storyline was false. The location of the proposed 13-story community center and mosque, at 51 Park Place (known as Park51), is not part of Ground Zero, and isn’t even visible from the former site of the World Trade Center. The three-block radius around the WTC site that would need to be drawn to make Park51 part of some “hallowed ground” includes strip clubs, porn shops and liquor stores (Daily News, 8/16/10). The key figure behind the proposal, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, is an American Muslim who works in fields of interfaith outreach and tolerance, with an emphasis on improved relations between the Arab/Muslim world and the West. Cordoba House is a project of Rauf’s organization, the Cordoba Initiative, whose name honors the tolerance among Muslims, Christians and Jews that flourished in the Spanish city a thousand years ago (New York Times, 7/14/10).

But the facts didn’t seem to matter. The people who ought to have been on the defensive for misrepresenting facts and fomenting religious bigotry continued to be on the offensive, driving the coverage with their dubious claims, while their progressive Muslim targets remained on the defensive, smeared and chided for “intolerantly” pushing forward with their proposal.

A useful timeline produced by Salon (8/16/10) traced the controversy’s birth to posts by Pamela Geller on her Atlas Shrugs blog (e.g., 12/8/09), a key outlet for anti-Muslim bigotry. Geller (12/21/09) charged that the Muslim community center was about “Islamic domination and expansionism…. Clearly a more appropriate ‘Islamic center’ would be one devoted to expunging the Quran of its violent texts.” In April 2010, Geller joined with Robert Spencer of the “notoriously Islamophobic” Jihad Watch website (Guardian, 2/7/06) to form a group called Stop Islamization of America, which began to organize against the proposed center.

Another of Geller and Spencer’s anti–Cordoba House groups, the American Freedom Defense Initiative, is represented by attorney David Yerushalmi, who has written that Islam is an “evil religion,” “blacks are the most murderous of peoples (at least in New York City)” and “there is a reason the founding fathers did not give women or black slaves the right to vote” (Little Green Footballs, 8/10/10).

Beginning in May, Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post picked up the story; columnist Andrea Peyser (5/13/10) propagated the falsehood that the center would open on September 11, 2011, and the Post repeatedly used the phrase “Ground Zero mosque” (5/16/10, 5/20/10). It quickly exploded in right-wing media, which is no stranger to anti-Muslim sentiment (nor to late-summer, pre-election wedge issues.)

The usual suspects got on the case with their usual disregard for the facts. Fox News’ Sean Hannity (5/20/10) claimed that Imam Rauf “may be much more radical than most Americans know,” despite the fact that Rauf worked extensively with the Bush administration on improving America’s standing in the Muslim world (Talking Points Memo, 8/12/10). Fox pundit Newt Gingrich (Yglesias, 7/22/10) made the bizarre proposal that “there should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia,” and later (Fox News, 8/16/10) compared the building of a Muslim community center near Ground Zero to Nazis putting “up a sign next to the Holocaust museum in Washington.”

As Talking Points Memo pointed out (5/18/10), Tea Party leader and radio host Mark Williams wrote on his blog (5/14/10) that “the animals of Allah…are drooling over the positive response that they are getting from New York City officials over a proposal to build a 13-story monument to the 9/11 Muslim hijackers.” Houston-based radio host Michael Berry called for the “mosque” to be “blown up” (Think Progress, 5/28/10).

The story soon migrated to the establishment press. While challenging some of the “facts” that opponents put forward and refraining from calling for a ban on the community center, the more centrist corporate media entertained the lies and bigotry of anti-Muslim forces to an alarming degree.

CNN featured virulent Islamophobes on a number of occasions. Geller—who has called for the destruction of Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock, one of Islam’s holiest sites, and whose website depicted Muhammad with the face of a pig (FAIR Blog, 8/18/10)—appeared on the network twice (5/26/10, 8/17/10) to talk about her opposition to the project.

Bryan Fischer of the right-wing American Family Association called for “no more mosques” in the United States in a August 10 blog post (Talking Points Memo, 8/11/10); the next week, Anderson Cooper 360 (8/16/10) gave Fischer a platform to claim that Islam is a “totalitarian ideology that is anti-Christian [and] anti-Semitic,” and seeks “the extermination of Western civilization.” Another 360 segment (8/11/10) featured Flip Benham of the pro-life, anti-Islam group Operation Save America, where Benham called Islam “a lie from the pit of hell.”

Other outlets adopted the false framing the Islamophobic right was pushing. In big, bold letters, Newsweek’s August 16 cover asked, “A Mosque at Ground Zero?” NPR also adopted the “Ground Zero mosque” language (8/3/10, 8/18/10).

A front-page New York Times (8/10/10) report seemed to blame the victims of the bigotry, as reporter Anne Barnard described the “combustible debate” as coming about through “a combination of arguable naïveté, public-relations missteps and a national political climate in which perhaps no preparation could have headed off controversy.” Missing from her list was the organized campaign of misinformation and bigotry that launched and fed the controversy.

Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer (8/13/10) raised an absurd hypothetical to justify his opposition to the Islamic community center: “Who is to say that the mosque won’t one day hire an Anwar al-Aulaqi—spiritual mentor to the Fort Hood shooter and the Christmas Day bomber, and onetime imam at the Virginia mosque attended by two of the 9/11 terrorists?” And who’s to say that Krauthammer won’t decide to become a cannibal, like fellow psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter?

Krauthammer also questioned the “goodwill” of Imam Rauf for saying, on CBS’s 60 Minutes (9/30/01), in reference to September 11: “I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened, but the United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened.” As the Daily Show pointed out (8/16/10), Glenn Beck has made a similar point (Fox News, 4/15/10), saying: “When people said they hate us, well, did we deserve 9/11? No. But were we minding our business? No. Were we in bed with dictators that abandoned our values and principles? Yes. That causes problems.” Nobody questioned whether Beck sympathized with terrorism then, though.

Philadelphia Inquirer culture writer Stephan Salisbury (Tom Dispatch, 8/10/10) placed this story in the context of elevated anti-Muslim sentiment in the country since September 11, and the coinciding Islamo-phobic activism, which includes anti-mosque movements in Tennessee, California, Connecticut and elsewhere, as well as in New York. Calling the opposition to Cordoba House part of a larger movement that seeks to ban Islam in the U.S., Salisbury told Extra! he blamed media for failing to adequately confront the New York project’s opponents: “The role of journalists is to challenge narratives, not sit on the sidelines. This is especially true when a bigoted narrative like this one comes along.”

If some journalists challenged the anti-Muslim smears and defended Rauf and his associates (e.g., Fareed Zakaria, Newsweek, 8/6/10; New York Times editorial, 8/16/10), the coverage never fully reversed direction to frame the saga for what it was: a story of monumental lying and bigotry.

While much opposition to Park51 can be attributed to Islamophobia and a media culture that is often receptive to it, there’s also a partisan political aspect to the story that hasn’t been sufficiently examined. In December 2009, when the proposal was first unveiled, it generated little controversy (New York Times, 12/9/09) outside of the small number of anti-Muslim websites. But moving into the summer, it was seized upon by prominent conservative pundits and politicians like Newt Gingrich, who showed up on Fox’s Hannity (8/5/10) denouncing “elite politicians” for “turning a blind eye” to the views of most Americans. (After weeks of distortion, some produced by Gingrich himself, polls showed U.S. public opinion had turned against the center.)

Hannity’s response to Gingrich provided an even clearer look into how the right viewed the story as a handy political wedge in advance of November’s congressional elections:

Isn’t that where we are, though, in terms of American society? The American people support Arizona’s immigration law, but it doesn’t matter to liberal Democrats. The American people don’t want this mosque built. It doesn’t matter to liberal Democrats.

Perhaps the most revealing glimpse into the entire cynical campaign was provided by right-wing radio firebrand Laura Ingraham. Guest hosting Fox’s O’Reilly Factor (12/21/09) last year, Ingraham told Daisy Kahn, one of the center’s developers and Imam Rauf’s wife, “I like what you’re trying to do,” referring to the project’s spirit of tolerance and outreach. By August, however, Ingraham had changed her tune. Again substituting for O’Reilly (8/25/10), she denounced the center, demanding: “So why is Barack Obama letting this go on? Why is the president of the United States at his already low approval numbers, why is he letting this continue as it is?”

House Republicans Pal Around with anti-Muslim, anti-Black racist David Yerushalmi

It should come as no surprise that elected officials are aiding and
abetting anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S., especially with mid-term elections nearby.  But it was still a little shocking to read Think Progress national security blogger Matt Duss’ post on a newly released report titled “Sharia: The Threat to America.”

Duss writes that the report, authored by the neoconservative Center for Security Policy, was presented to Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI).  Here’s the slightly shocking part:  also attending the event Duss reported on was David Yerushalmi, the general counsel for the Center for Security Policy.

So just who is this Yerushalmi fellow that Republican politicians were palling around with?

Yerushalmi has been aptly described as a “Jewish fascist” by blogger Richard Silverstein.  As Silverstein highlighted in August 2007, Yerushalmi has said:

One must admit readily that the radical liberal Jew is a fact of the West and a destructive one…Indeed, Jews in the main have turned their backs on the belief in G-d and His commandments as a book of laws for a particular and chosen people…What interest does America have in a strong Israel? If your answer is democracy in a liberal or western sense, know you have sided with the Palestinians of Hamas.

Yerushalmi was a member of the Stop the Madrassa Coalition, which was instrumental in the anti-Arab, anti-Muslim smear campaign that brought down Debbie Almontaser, the founding principal of Khalil Gibran International Academy, a dual-language Arabic school in Brooklyn.  He has followed his Islamophobic buddies Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer in joining in their war against the Muslim community center near Ground Zero, and is an attorney with the so-called American Freedom Defense Initiative, which is run by Geller and Spencer.

That’s not even the worst part.  Charles Johnson, the blogger at the formerly right-wing, hawkish website Little Green Footballs who “parted ways with the right” for, in part, its “Anti-Islamic bigotry that goes far beyond simply criticizing radical Islam, into support for fascism, violence, and genocide (see: Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, etc.),” has the rundown on Yerushalmi:

This is a good time for some background information on Pamela Geller’s associate David Yerushalmi, who is an advocate for criminalizing Islam itself and imposing 20-year sentences on practicing Muslims. Yes, really.

He’s not simply anti-Muslim, though; Yerushalmi also wrote a now-infamous article titled “On Race: A Tentative Discussion, Part II,” in which he advocated a return to a pre-Bill of Rights Constitution, and the restriction of voting rights to white male land-owners. Again … yes, really.

Here’s a lengthy article at Talk To Action on the bizarre views and causes of David Yerushalmi: Anti-Semitic White-Supremacist Orthodox Jew Tries To Ban Islam In US.

Yerushalmi has deleted as much evidence of the “On Race” article as he could; he removed it from the Internet Archive and the Google cache, and put his entire website behind a registration wall. But here’s a PDF that contains the full article, and it’s as ugly and twisted a piece of racism as anything I’ve ever seen. Yerushalmi opens by calling Islam “an evil religion,” and “blacks … the most murderous of peoples.”

A quote:

“There is a reason the founding fathers did not give women or black slaves the right to vote. You might not agree or like the idea but this country’s founders, otherwise held in the highest esteem for their understanding of human nature and its affect on political society, certainly took it seriously. Why is that? Were they so flawed in their political reckonings that they manhandled the most important aspect of a free society – the vote? If the vote counts for so much in a free and liberal democracy as we ‘know’ it today, why did they limit the vote so dramatically?”

So there you have it: House Republicans are openly associating themselves with a “Jewish fascist” who has called “blacks…the most murderous of peoples” and advocates for the criminalization of Islam.