It should be clear that right-wing American Zionists have an interest in stoking the Islamophobic furor engulfing the United States. The opposition to the Muslim community center in downtown Manhattan, and the pernicious smears against Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, is all part of the larger narrative that is key to neoconservatism: the West is at war with Islam, and Israel is the first line of defense. What hasn’t been clear, up until now, is how intertwined the opposition to the Park51 project is with big-wig Zionists’ funding.
Politico has a revealing piece on where both sides in the community center debate are getting their money from; millions of dollars from rabidly pro-Israel individuals and organizations are fueling the opposition to the Islamic community center.
Kenneth Vogel and Giovanni Russonello report:
[David Horowitz’s Freedom Center] has steered nearly $1 million over the past three years to Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch group, one of the leading opponents of the lower Manhattan mosque plan…
There’s…big money behind the mosque opposition, as highlighted by the relationship between Horowitz’s Los Angeles-based nonprofit Jihad Watch — the website run by Spencer “dedicated to bringing public attention to the role that jihad theology and ideology play in the modern world” — and Joyce Chernick, the wife of a wealthy California tech company founder.
Though it was not listed on the public tax reports filed by Horowitz’s Freedom Center, POLITICO has confirmed that the lion’s share of the $920,000 it provided over the past three years to Jihad Watch came from Chernick, whose husband, Aubrey Chernick, has a net worth of $750 million, as a result of his 2004 sale to IBM of a software company he created, and a security consulting firm he now owns.
A onetime trustee of the hawkish Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Chernick led the effort to pull together $3.5 million in venture capital to start Pajamas Media, a conservative blog network that made its name partly with hawkish pro-Israel commentary and of late has kept up a steady stream of anti-mosque postings, including one rebutting attacks by CAIR against Spencer — who Pajamas Media CEO Roger Simon called “one of the ideological point men in the global war on terror.”
Horowitz, who runs the websites FrontPageMag.com and DiscovertheNetworks.org, is fond of conjuring up the fantasy that “Islamofascists” are allied with the American Left and need to be taken down on college campuses. For a taste of where Horowitz’s politics lie, the front page of his website has plenty of right-wing Zionists contributing on “Arab terror” and Hamas as a “genocidal organization.” Chernick was a trustee at WINEP, a key pillar of the Israel lobby.
M.J. Rosenberg, who formally worked for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, recently wrote that the right-wing Zionists opposing the community center are doing so because “they believe that the more acceptance there is of Muslims here at home, the less reflexive hatred there will be for Muslims abroad. And that, in their view, reduces America’s sympathy for Israel.”
Richard Silverstein highlights other right-wing groups in Israel that Chernick has given generously to, and writes:
Let’s not make the mistakes that were made in the Debbie Almontaser-Khalil Gibran Academy scandal, when New York political leaders caved to loony Jewish right-wingers like Daniel Pipes and David Yerushalmi, attempting to paint her as a jihadist. This time, let’s realize there are powerful right-wing pro-Israel financial and political interests seeking to torpedo the mosque project. The memory of 9/11 victims is an excuse, a convenient stepping-stone toward their real interests which are bashing Muslims for political gain.
The Politico piece reveals what needs to be articulated and acted on: right-wing American Zionists whose number one concern is Israel are playing a major role in stoking fears and hatred of Muslims in the United States. The only way to combat Islamophobia is to combat the Israel lobby.