Why mainstream Jewish orgs haven’t said a word against Peter King’s anti-Muslim hearings

Israel/Palestine
on 33 Comments

There has been little objection from the mainstream Jewish establishment to Representative Peter King’s anti-Muslim hearings that took place yesterday, and some commentators are asking why. Given the history of discrimination against Jews in the U.S., it should be an easy call to speak out against the McCarthy-like hearings that seek to demonize Muslim-Americans (laudably, J Street has spoken out, as well as, surprisingly, the Anti-Defamation League).

But it should come as no surprise that the likes of the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) have been silent about the March 10 hearings titled, “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response.” It all comes down to Israel.

Rep. King, for one, a Long Island Republican with a past of strong support for the Irish Republican Army, is a staunch advocate for Israel, making any potential criticism of him by mainstream Jewish organizations all the less likely.

Immediately after the Israeli naval attack on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla last May, which resulted in the deaths of nine activists, King introduced a House resolution to “prohibit United States participation on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and prohibit contributions to the United Nations for the purpose of paying for any United Nations investigation into the flotilla incident.”

On his website, King proclaims that he has “consistently voted in favor of military and economic aid packages benefiting Israel and sponsored legislation that prohibits direct assistance to Palestinian Government entities associated with Hamas or other terrorist organizations.”

In return for his “Israel can do no wrong” attitude, King rakes in the dough; according to Open Secrets, over $100,000 in pro-Israel contributions have been deposited in King’s campaign war chest between 1998 and 2010.

And then there’s the larger issue of the Israel lobby turning a blind eye to Islamophobia, or actively aiding it, in service of their larger political goal: unquestioning support for anything Israel does. These hearings do nothing more than give Islamophobia more mainstream credibility in the United States, something that even the Anti-Defamation League, the AJC and others have no problem with, as demonstrated by these organization’s shameful positions when the furor over Park 51 occurred last summer.

Maintaining blind support for Israel in the United States requires the demonization of Muslims and Arabs, and contributes to the narrative, pushed by neoconservatives, that Israel is the West’s bulwark against Islamist extremism. As Scott McConnell, the founding editor of the American Conservative magazine, put it, “it is hard to miss that anti-Muslim bigotry is becoming embedded in American political culture, and Israel and its supporters are playing a substantial role in generating it.”

M.J. Rosenberg, a liberal blogger and former staffer at the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, made this point succinctly in an interview I conducted a couple of months back. Islamophobia “is tactical bigotry to weaken the voices of Arab-Americans and friends of Arab-Americans when it comes to Israel/Palestinian issues,” he said.

Establishment groups are “just trying to protect AIPAC and the pro-Israel lobby’s political power. In other words, if you discredit every Arab group by saying they’re extremist or ‘pro-terror,’ then who’s ever going to stand up to the lobby on Capitol Hill?”

So there shouldn’t be any astonishment at the deafening silence from the mainstream Jewish establishment on these hearings. If there was dissent, that would be news.

Alex Kane, a freelance journalist based in New York City, blogs on Israel/Palestine and Islamophobia at alexbkane.wordpress.com, where this post originally appeared.  Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.

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33 Responses

  1. Taxi
    March 11, 2011, 11:51 am

    Answer to you question headline:

    Because American zionists are islamaphobic aggitators and they’re getting results from dumb Americans.

    • Chu
      March 11, 2011, 3:01 pm

      and they’re afraid of the rise of more political representatives, like Keith Ellison. Less Muslims in US politics, better for Israel.

  2. Potsherd2
    March 11, 2011, 11:58 am

    King maybe ought to get in touch with his Irish buddies about his support for Israel. With their history of occupation and oppression, the Irish are perhaps the most supportive nation on Earth for the Palestinians.

    • CK MacLeod
      March 11, 2011, 12:34 pm

      What’s even more ironic on the Ireland-Palestine connection is that the people King was helping to finance in the IRA actively cooperated and trained with the PLO and allied groups for decades.

      There is even evidence that IED techniques used against British (and American) forces in Iraq were passed on to the insurgents via connections between the Palestinian groups and Hezbollah – and originated with the IRA.

      link to realclearworld.com

      Small world, eh?

      • fuster
        March 11, 2011, 12:48 pm

        Of course, King isn’t going to note that his IRA terrorist buddies were armed by Gaddafi.

        link to bbc.co.uk
        —As part of the negotiations to lift sanctions, Libyan officials provided information about millions of pounds and 120 tonnes of weaponry which they had given the IRA.—

      • Saleema
        March 11, 2011, 1:12 pm

        Wow. I had no idea. Gaddafi’s shitty self was all over the place. I can understand why he would meddle in Africa, being in Africa, and Europe, being so close to the Mediterranean Sea. What I don’t understand is his meddling in Pakistan. He armed a gang called “Hathora Group,” or the “Hammer Group,” in Pakistan to take revenge for his ex-PM Bhutto’s hanging. They bludgeoned random people to death.

      • Potsherd2
        March 11, 2011, 2:38 pm

        Ask why Chavez is all buddies with Qadhafi. It’s the enemy-of-my-enemy syndrome. Some people need to find influence wherever the can get it.

  3. Oscar
    March 11, 2011, 12:11 pm

    Despicable — King’s agenda is transparent. In the shambles that was the first day of substance-free hearings, not once did King deplore growing threats of violence against the American Muslim community.

    The only reason the ADL opened its yap this time was because of its previous shockingly racist position on the so-called 9/11 mosque, which was breathtakingly hateful. Critics claiming it’s time to fold the tent on the musty, Israel-only organization would have had a field day bashing the Foxster if he remained silent.

    although Fox News cites a Gallup poll citing a slight majority of Americans approve of the hearings, the reaction in the MSM has been surprisingly critical.

    Any American who fails to see this as anything but a pathetically transparent show trial for the benefit of AIPAC is just a brain-numbed thumbsucker who doesn’t realize he’s being duped by a Clash of the Civilizations type agenda.

    • Citizen
      March 12, 2011, 5:45 am

      Why yes, Oscar, and there are tens of millions of such Americans. They would chuckle at your characterization of them basically as duped bigots, and respond to you thusly, “Heh heh, oh poor ignorant me; the difference is that Muslim advocates want to kill the infidels right here in the USA. So why are you obsessing about Jews?”

  4. annie
    March 11, 2011, 12:23 pm

    this is not a matter of “the Israel lobby turning a blind eye to Islamophobia”, they are creating it.

    from your “actively aiding” link

    Inside the Bizarre Cabal of Secretive Donors, Demagogic Bloggers, Pseudo-Scholars, European Neo-Fascists, Violent Israeli Settlers, and Republican Presidential Hopefuls Behind the Crusade
    By Max Blumenthal

    Besides providing the initial energy for the Islamophobic crusade, conservative elements from within the pro-Israel lobby bankrolled the network’s apparatus, enabling it to influence the national debate. One philanthropist in particular has provided the beneficence to propel the campaign ahead. He is a little-known Los Angeles-area software security entrepreneur named Aubrey Chernick, who operates out of a security consulting firm blandly named the National Center for Crisis and Continuity Coordination. A former trustee of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which has served as a think tank for the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a frontline lobbying group for Israel, Chernick is said to be worth $750 million.

    there’s more of course.

  5. munro
    March 11, 2011, 12:31 pm

    Black List once grating, sanctimonious badge of honor now used by Jews against Muslims link to youtube.com

  6. Avi
    March 11, 2011, 12:40 pm

    Minnesota’s Representative Keith Ellison’s testimony to Congress.

    Rep. Ellison held back tears as he told the story of a 23-year-old Muslim-American first responder who lost his life on September 11, 2001 and was later smeared as being in collusion with the hijackers.

    • Citizen
      March 12, 2011, 5:51 am

      Maher had an exchange with Ellison last night on HBO wherein Maher raised the question, why is every single terrorist we find a Muslim? Maher then went on to sympathize with Ellison for “converting from one brand to the other” since both men were raised as Roman Catholics. Most of the rest of Maher’s show was inundated with Maher attacking the Catholic Church as a breeder of pedophiles. The I-P situation was never brought up at all.

      • Avi
        March 13, 2011, 12:37 am

        Citizen March 12, 2011 at 5:51 am

        Maher had an exchange with Ellison last night on HBO wherein Maher raised the question, why is every single terrorist we find a Muslim?

        Maher is simply repeating stale talking points from Fox News. US media ignore one category of people while focusing on another category of people (Muslims). Thus, in the eyes of the casual observer, all terrorism is committed by Muslims. It’s propaganda by omission.

        Unlike Fox, however, Maher is a fanatic about Israel. Time and again, whenever he discusses social or political problems in the US, he’ll say “You see? This kind of stuff would never happen in Israel”.

        Simply put, Maher is an ignorant pothead with a TV platform, but then again so are Jerry Springer’s guests.

      • annie
        March 13, 2011, 1:10 am

        why is every single terrorist we find a Muslim?

        because when lilly white christian boys open fire on politicians and kill a federal judge and students in crowded places we don’t call them terrorists? because timmy mcveigh was a marine?

      • fuster
        March 13, 2011, 1:31 am

        good point annie. it only seems that way because so many of the attacks and almost all of the murders are attributable to jihadis in the last decade.

        nobody ever seems to focus on the terrorist plots of the Earth Liberation Front outside of the FBI because ELF doesn’t manage to kill folks too often.

        here’s the big picture though, right from the FBI.

        link to fbi.gov

        plenty of different terror attacks noted since 1980, but the jihadis

        managed to do the overwhelming percentage of the murders.

      • annie
        March 13, 2011, 1:52 am

        so many of the attacks and almost all of the murders are attributable to jihadis

        obviously we live in different americas

      • annie
        March 13, 2011, 1:54 am

        your ‘big picture’ fbi link is circa 2002-2005. excuse me for not taking you seriously.

      • fuster
        March 13, 2011, 1:56 am

        Read the chart in the link , annie, then go find whatever America there is to your taste on whatever planet you like.
        I may not like the FBI but they’re damned thorough bureaucrats and their stats aren’t dismissible out of hand.

      • annie
        March 13, 2011, 3:11 am

        Terrorism by event 1980-2005 pie chart. The graphic of pie chart shows 318 total events broken into categories; 209 bombings, 43 Arsons 20 malicious destructions, 16 shootings 10 hostile takeovers, 8 robberies, 4 assaults, 2 Hijackings, 2 Kidnappings, 2 rockets, 1 assassinanation and 1 WMD.

        hmm, i looked at that list and i didn’t see any of these incidences mentioned. some hammers don’t recognize jewish nails.

      • annie
        March 13, 2011, 3:20 am

        either way, in 25 years the amount of damage wasn’t compelling. we’d be better off investing in health care. many more americans die from insurance fraud. this is all fear mongering as far as i am concerned and nowhere approached the fury and pain we’ve thrust on muslim populations.

        i’m simply not impressed from your bush era fear mongering fbi link. you bore me frankly.

        go find whatever America there is to your taste

        oh, believe me i have every intention of it.

      • tree
        March 13, 2011, 3:55 am

        but the jihadis managed to do the overwhelming percentage of the murders

        Only because of 9-11. Other than that, in the US, the home-grown JDL managed to murder almost as many people(4) as individual US “jihadis” did in the past 30 years, according to the FBI stats. And of course, the largest terrorist action before 2001, that killed 168 people, was committed by a couple of Christian white boys.

        I don’t remember the Congress feeling the need to sponsor hearings on the role of the Christian or Jewish communities in domestic terrorism. 9-11 was not a “home-grown Islamic” terrorism incident, so its not a valid excuse for the hearings.

      • tree
        March 13, 2011, 4:19 am

        Some other interesting tidbits:

        There were significantly more domestic terrorism incidents in the 1980′s then there have been in the past couple of years. The year with the most incidents was 1982, with 51 incidents. The last few years have consistently seen incidents in the single digits.

        I got curious so I checked out the FBI report from 1985.

        link to higginsctc.org

        From 1981-1985, the 3 types of groups involved in the most terrorist incidents were Puerto Rican terrorist groups, with 51 incidents, followed by Jewish terrorist groups, with 22 incidents, and Cuban terrorist groups, with 15 incidents. However, the catch-all category of “other domestic terrorist groups and individuals” were responsible for 29 incidents during that time frame. No “jihadi” groupings then.

  7. hophmi
    March 11, 2011, 1:06 pm

    You know, Alex, this is demonstrably untrue. The ADL has spoken out, and that’s about as mainstream as it gets. The AJC has been at the forefront of fighting anti-Muslim bigotry; David Harris was a vocal supporter of the Park51 project. I’m active in the AJC’s ACCESS program; one of our leaders actually works with Imam Rauf behinds the scenes with the full support of the AJC. You’re just not telling the truth here, either out of animus or ignorance, but probably both.

    Don’t you think it’s a little ridiculous to claim that there is a deafening silence in the mainstream Jewish community in the same post where you note that the ADL has spoken out (not to mention J Street, which is very much a mainstream organization these days)?

    I invite you to attend any meeting at the American Jewish Committee’s ACCESS program that you like and see the organization for yourself.

    • Potsherd2
      March 11, 2011, 2:41 pm

      Individual rabbis, individual synagogues all across the country are in the forefront of the battle against Islamophobia.

      This doesn’t negate the fact that many large, influential Jewish organizations are involved with the very people creating the phenomenon.

      • hophmi
        March 11, 2011, 2:54 pm

        “This doesn’t negate the fact that many large, influential Jewish organizations are involved with the very people creating the phenomenon.”

        Well, at least you had the decency not to accuse the organizations themselves of fanning the flames.

        This is one unfortunate by-product of the rapprochment between big Jewish orgs and the evangelicals, and I can basically say that this alliance is not something younger Jews are especially interested in continuing.

      • Potsherd2
        March 11, 2011, 3:38 pm

        I’m pretty sure Jewish Islamophobia would be burning quite brightly without contact with evangelicals.

      • CK MacLeod
        March 11, 2011, 3:57 pm

        “I’m pretty sure Jewish Islamophobia would be burning quite brightly without contact with evangelicals.”

        That’s one of those impossible counter-factuals, since evangelicals have been around for quite some time, and aren’t going anywhere (except the millenarians), but, in general terms, if the Jewish community felt more isolated politically, here and abroad, it might very well seek accommodation and cooperation with Islam. There’s plenty of history of that as well – arguably a much longer, richer, and deeper history than of Jewish-Islamic conflict.

      • tree
        March 11, 2011, 6:13 pm

        Jewish Islamophobia in Israel was in full flower way before Israel began courting US evangelicals.

    • tree
      March 11, 2011, 3:02 pm

      Hophmi, has the AJC come out against King’s hearings? Or issued any criticism of them? That is what Alex Kane is addressing.

      And as to the AJC’s position on Park51, what is your response to MJ Rosenberg’s critique of David Harris’ press release, cited by Alex above?

      ( link to huffingtonpost.com )

      Here’s the AJC:

      First, with a $100 million price tag, what are the exact sources of funding? The public has a right to know that the donors all subscribe to an open, inclusive and pluralistic vision of the center.

      Second, do the center’s leaders reject unconditionally terrorism inspired by Islamist ideology? They must say so unequivocally. This is critical for the institution’s credibility. There is no room here for verbal acrobatics. Otherwise, the pall of suspicion around the leaders’ true attitudes toward groups like Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah will grow – spelling the center’s doom.

      If these concerns can be addressed, we will join in welcoming the Cordoba Center to New York. In doing so, we would wish to reaffirm the noble values for which our country stands – the very values so detested by the perpetrators of the September 11th attacks.

      Imagine if the American Jewish Committee (and its sister organizations) were held to that standard.

      AJC’s building on 56th Street would have to be unbuilt until AJC condemns the slaughter of 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza in 2008-9 (including 432 kids). Also, the AJC would be shut out of its building until it condemns the carpet bombing of Lebanon in 2006, including the use of thousands of cluster bombs still embedded in the earth. The list is pretty endless. The AJC has never opposed any of these acts of terror. In fact, it supports them. All of them. And it is now lusting for a bombing attack on Iran.

      Nonetheless, AJC issues demands that the Cordoba Center, which has never endorsed violence, repudiate terrorism (which it always has). Worst of all, the media is allowing the AJC to appear as if it supports the center when it in fact opposes it for the same reasons ADL does. We all know what those are.

      I guess Harris assumes no one will read his press release — a safe assumption, except I did.

      David Harris, join Abe Foxman, Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Newt Gingrich, Sean Hannity and, Rush Limbaugh. Your opposition is every bit as forceful as theirs. Just more clever.

    • Chu
      March 11, 2011, 3:06 pm

      “The ADL has spoken out, and that’s about as mainstream as it gets.”

      Like when they came out against the ground zero mosque?
      That was bigotry, and plain to see.

  8. Marlene
    March 12, 2011, 11:41 am

    It was an excellent article, but I need to make one very important criticism about mentioning the ADL as one of the Jewish groups who have spoken out. Quoting the statemet on the ADL website:

    Robert G. Sugarman, ADL National Chair and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director issued the following statement:
    “Homegrown Muslim extremists pose a real threat to the United States, but the issue is one that may be difficult to explore seriously in a hearing that has engendered an unfortunate atmosphere of blame and suspicion of the broader American Muslim community. We need to be careful not to single out an entire community for special scrutiny or suspicion. ”

    What kind of double-talk is this? Are Muslim “extremists” the only home-grown real threat to America? Why not just say “extremists” which encompasses anyone of any color, ethnicity or faith? Certainly there have beem enough acts of terorism in this country not carried out by Muslims.

    What I find is that someone like Abe Foxman is an extremist for actually supporting in a sense what Peter King is doing (another extremist) and using methods which still demonize Muslims and does create fear and hatred in this country because it is all about Israel.

    I have left a comment on the author’s website, asking him to remove the ADL fom his article because it defeats the pupose of his article, and adds to the scape-goating.

  9. fuster
    March 13, 2011, 7:29 pm

    US Muslims find defending themselves exhausting

    link to dawn.com

    —–“It’s unjust to single out one group from another,” said Hashi Shafi, head of the Somali Action Alliance. “It’s really an emotional time. It’s just too much. . . . We cannot be on the hot spot all the time, every year. Just as we had in 2008, and 2009 and ’10 and now 2011, Somalis are still in another hot spot. It’s unfortunate.”

    Zuhur Ahmed, host of a local Somali radio show, said a hearing about radicalism is fair – because certain individuals do pose a threat. But she says it’s wrong to single out the Muslim community. She says a threat to America is a threat to her as well.

    Before Friday prayers at the Islamic Center of Long Island in Westbury, New York, retired physician Dr. Irfan Amin said he felt “betrayed” by King.

    “I have contributed to his campaign,” Amin said. “I personally met him at one function and asked him to please come and at least talk to us: ‘You have been in our community so many times. Have you seen anything with your eyes?’ He didn’t give me an answer.”—–

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