Jews Against Islamophobia issued the following press release this morning:
Jewish Groups Condemn (Yet Again) Ads
Promoting Hate and Anti-Muslim Bigotry:
Call for Unequivocal Repudiation of Islamophobia
Monday, Dec. 17, 2012 The Jews Against Islamophobia (JAI) Coalition condemns the latest hate-mongering ads, sponsored by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), that are scheduled to appear in New York City subway stations today. “New York residents have already demonstrated that we don’t want such ads in our city. In a month when many people gather with their loved ones for Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and other seasonal celebrations, Jews must recommit ourselves anew to standing up against these ads and all forms of Islamophobia,” pledged JAI Coalition member and director of Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), Marjorie Dove Kent.
The ad shows a picture of the World Trade Center in flames, next to a quote from the Koran, and reads: “Soon shall we cast terror into the heart of the unbelievers.”
“But, of course, a bigot can play this game of selective quotation with any religion. Find a picture of horrifying violence committed by some Jews or Christians — there are a depressingly large number — and juxtapose it with one of the following quotes from scripture: “I come not to bring peace, but a sword” [Matthew 10:34] or “Only in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes” [Deuteronomy 20:16]),” notes JAI Coalition member Alan Levine.
The AFDI ad—which cost about $70,000—is part of a nationwide campaign to demonize Muslim and Arab Americans. In the past six months, AFDI has funded hate ads in Westchester, New York City, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco. In each of these cases, a wide range of interfaith and civil rights groups came together to denounce the ads and to stand up for unity and solidarity. The AFDI’s Pamela Geller is co-founder of Stop the Islamization of America, identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group.
“Geller’s ads contribute to creating an even more hostile climate than already exists for the Muslim community, many of whom are already living in fear of street harassment, bullying, and other forms of verbal and physical violence,” says JAI Coalition member Jon Moscow. “We all have a responsibility to make sure this does not continue. We call on New Yorkers to respond individually and collectively to repudiate this vicious attempt to divide our city and to strongly condemn these ads.”
This anti-Muslim ad campaign takes place in the context of a post-9/11 atmosphere of fear, hate, and bigotry in the United States that targets Muslims, Arabs, Middle Easterners, Sikhs and other South Asians. “While we find shocking the blatant Islamophobia in the ads and strongly condemn this vicious hate speech, we also condemn ongoing governmental policies of racial and religious profiling,” emphasized director of Jewish Voice for Peace, Rebecca Vilkomerson, whose group is also a member of the JAI Coalition. “For example, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) has been engaged in police surveillance of Muslims that has flagrantly violated the community’s civil and human rights. These Islamophobic acts help make possible the hate-filled atmosphere in which people like Geller thrive.” Despite the NYPD commitment of time, money, and personnel to its widespread surveillance and spying program in the Muslim community, it has not, according to the Commanding Officer of the NYPD Intelligence Division, generated a single lead or triggered a terrorism investigation. Communities have organized in response to NYPD surveillance and spying, including groups coming together to support City Council bills that would begin to hold the NYPD accountable for these actions.
People across New York City are once again joining the Muslim community to oppose these ads and to ensure that the rights of all our communities are fully protected and that no group is subjected to any form of harassment or racism. The JAI Coalition pledges to continue to be part of that movement for justice.
The Jews Against Islamophobia (JAI) Coalition consists of three groups: Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), and Jews Say No! (JSN!). http://www.jewsagainstislamophobia.org/