Over the weekend, there was a long, somewhat-helpful piece in the Times about David Yerushalmi, the Hasidic Jew who is leading the campaign against supposed "Shariah law" in the U.S., a campaign that demonizes Muslims. But the article left me wondering: how much of Yerushalmi's campaign has to do with Israel, and why doesn't the Times ever go near that angle? Reporter Andrea Elliott does write:
His interest in Islamic law began with the Sept. 11 attacks, he said, when he was living in Ma’ale Adumim, a large Jewish settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. At the time, Mr. Yerushalmi, a native of South Florida, divided his energies between a commercial litigation practice in the United States and a conservative research institute based in Jerusalem, where he worked to promote free-market reform in Israel. After moving to Brooklyn the following year, Mr. Yerushalmi said he began studying Arabic and Shariah under two Islamic scholars, whom he declined to name. He said his research made clear that militants had not “perverted” Islamic law, but were following an authoritative doctrine that sought global hegemony...
If you want to know what Yerushalmi thinks about Israel and the occupied territories he lived in, you have to go to other sources. Richard Silverstein says that Yerushalmi is a Kahanist. He writes:
Even Yerushalmi’s name is fake. His family birth name is Beychok, born of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants to America. To be clear, I’m not saying that Yerushalmi’s legal name isn’t that. I’m talking about the underlying motivations regarding Jewish nationalist identity that are involved in such a name change. Yerushalmi means “from Jerusalem.” Yerushalmi is as much a resident of Jerusalem as I am. He doesn’t live in Jerusalem nor do I. Let me make clear that I have no problem with Jewish olim changing their name once they move to Israel, taking Hebrew names such as Yerushalmi. But to do so when you live in America is pure preciousness. He wants to tell you that he supports the settler concept of the eternal inviolability of Jerusalem as a Jewish city and capital. He wants to tell you he believes in the whole nine yards of ultra-Orthodox extremism regarding God’s sacred gift of all of the Land of Israel to the entire Jewish people in perpetuity.)
And here is Paul Berger writing in The Forward about Yerushalmi a couple weeks back and making it clear that Yerushalmi is a Jewish fundamentalist on his view of the "chosen people." Berger found a 2007 article by Yerushalmi that says:
“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. These Jews, the overwhelming majority, have embraced modernity in its entirety.”
I found that Yerushalmi article here, and it's clear that the dude is a wild-eyed zealot on Israel-- and that he (like me) regards the Palestinian issue as a core issue between the west and Asia.
...Jimmy Carter’s (yes, Jimmy Carter's!) analysis of the Israeli-Palestinian problem is a heroic effort to detach reality from the blanket of lies and deceptions known as the Israeli response to the Palestinians. In what one might describe as a curious oddity, a non-People with the most murderous of intentions created almost single-handedly by the 20th century’s greatest terrorist has become the cause célèbre of white Christian and non-Christian conservatives. For these conservatives, much like the Jew hating Leftists, the Palestinians and their righteous claim for national political existence has been despicably denied them because Jews ran from Europe during and after the Second World War to take land which they had not occupied in any real way since the destruction of the Second Temple. And the kicker for this brand of conservative is that but for the presence and despicable behavior of the Zionists, the West would be living quite peaceably with the 1.3 billion Muslims the world over.
If you are reading this essay and don’t understand this position is so contrary to fact that it can only be plausibly described as blindness, then either you know nothing of the history of this region or of the people and faiths which populate it, which in and of itself says much given its centrality in our lives, or you too are blinded to what should be obvious to any serious and reasonable mind.
...[The] Leftist or Elitist critique... reduces its claims to one of two positions on the Jewish State: either the Jews have no business in Palestine and that this vicious, murderous non-people of clans and tribes known as Palestinians do; or, the Jews might have some right to a small, indefensible Jewish State but the Palestinian claim is "equally" valid and the UN vote on the Partition Plan was the world’s resolution of these equally competing claims and therefore Israel ought to retreat to the original borders determined by the world body in a democratic vote or minimally to the pre-1967 armistice lines.
I would argue, although I will not do more than merely assert it to be so here, that for a Christian to take the position that the Jewish homeland is not Israel or that it is not even what is derisively described as "Greater Israel" is something akin to a positive result on a Litmus test for the dark forces which have themselves contributed over the years of the Jewish Diaspora to the problem we all face today with Jewish liberalism.
It is clear that the Jewish right to the land of Palestine is at the heart of Yerushalmi's thinking. You have to wonder whether his anti-Shariah campaign was motivated by his hatred for Palestinians (much as Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz's shift to neoconservatism in the 70s came out of concern over what the Democratic Party threatened to Israel).
The Times reporter says she spent hours talking to Yerushalmi. Too bad that the New York Times won't turn the page on this angle.
(It's not unlike this July 24 piece by Scott Shane that mentions Islamophobic writers Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller without citing their views on Israel, which are core in Geller's case.)