Donor pressures and the need to keep establishment credentials squelch discussion of how Zionism and the Israel lobby fuels anti-Muslim sentiment in this country. The perfect example of this squelching was the Center for American Progress report on the small group of rich donors shoveling cash into Islamophobic outfits like David Horowitz’s Freedom Center. The report was excellent, but as Phil Weiss noted here, it sidestepped “the Israel-motivation angle of the Islamophobes,” which Weiss called “intellectually irresponsible.”
But The Nation gets it right. Their new special issue on Islamophobia is a detailed and diverse accounting of the anti-Muslim fervor a small group of bloggers and activists have generated. And the publication doesn’t shy away from the important Israel factor that is an integral part of how Islamophobia functions in the US.
Max Blumenthal’s piece, “The Sugar Mama of Anti-Muslim Hate,” places the Israel lobby front and center. Blumenthal profiles Nina Rosenwald, who, along with her sister, has funded anti-Muslim groups to the tune of more than $2.8 million. Rosenwald sat on AIPAC’s board; now she gives money to a host of neoconservative and Islamophobic activists and organizations. Rosenwald is the personal symbol of the nexus of Islamophobia and Zionism.
Here’s an excerpt from Blumenthal’s piece:
Rosenwald’s wealth has fueled a rapidly emerging alliance between the pro-Israel mainstream and the Islamophobic fringe. (In 2003 alone the Rosenwald Family Fund donated well over half of its $1.6 million in total contributions to pro-Israel and Islamophobic organizations.) This alliance serves to sanitize and legitimize professional anti-Muslim bigots like [Geert] Wilders, allowing their ideas to mingle easily with those of neoconservative foreign policy heavyweights intent on promoting the appearance of a convergence between US and Israeli interests by invoking the specter of a common “Islamofascist” enemy. With Gatestone—which publicizes the writings of figures ranging from pro-Israel super-lawyer Alan Dershowitz to “counter-jihad” propagandist Robert Spencer, and boasts Harold Rhode, a neoconservative former Pentagon official credited, as a senior fellow, with helping to try to push the Bush administration to invade Iraq—Rosenwald has attempted to shift the alliance into overdrive.
Laila Al-Arian’s article, on her Palestinian father’s arrest, shows how the Bush administration targeted Palestinian activists in the US and brought in anonymous Israeli intelligence agents to testify against the Holy Land Foundation.
And Ramzi Kassem, professor at law at the City University of New York, aptly notes how the New York Police Department’s surveillance program targeting Muslims is an example of the “war on terror” coming home. An excerpt:
The resulting NYPD spying venture had a distinctly hybrid quality, applying methods intended for overseas use domestically. It also harked back to the counterinsurgency strategies deployed in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq, where the US military canvasses residents’ opinions while collecting photographs and fingerprints, under the rubric of “human terrain mapping.” No less disturbing: according to a former police official quoted by the Associated Press, the NYPD approach was partly modeled on how Israeli authorities operate in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, casting the NYPD in the role of brutal occupying force—and the areas where American Muslims live as occupied foreign territory.
The Nation is right to identify Israel as a central factor in Islamophobia. Their special issue is a welcome break from the usual tepidness of liberal institutions unwilling to take on the lobby.