Dialogue doesn’t mean inviting someone to spew ‘racist hatred’ — Jews Against Islamophobia coalition

Yesterday we did a post on the Great Neck Synagogue scheduling an appearance by Pamela Geller, who is obsessed with Muslims taking over America and other fancies. The Jewish groups calling for the cancellation of the event make up a coalition. Here is their statement on the event: 

JEWS AGAINST ISLAMOPHOBIA COALITION SAYS:

GREAT NECK SYNAGOGUE SHOULD CONDEMN ANTI-MUSLIM BIGOTRY

 During this Passover season, in which we celebrate freedom from slavery and oppression, the Jews Against Islamophobia Coalition is especially outraged that the leaders of the Great Neck Synagogue have chosen Pamela Geller to speak at the synagogue on April 14, rather than condemn–loudly and unambiguously–her record of anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry.

The respected Southern Poverty Law Center lists Stop Islamization of America, a group co-founded by Geller, as a “hate group,” specifically because it repeatedly expounds a view of all Muslims as terrorists, potential terrorists, or terrorist sympathizers. The website of another Geller group, American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), publishes a broad array of anti-Islamic materials that are widely used by extremist right-wing organizations. 

Through AFDI, Geller has posted hate ads in Westchester, New York City, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco that vilify an entire religion. Geller and her followers have orchestrated vicious campaigns against Muslims’ right to practice their religion, opposing the building of mosques and cultural centers and fomenting fear about the use of Sharia law. People across the country have joined the Muslim community to oppose these ads and these actions–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.

Objecting to the invitation to Geller is not a First Amendment or censorship issue. Only the government can violate someone’s free speech rights. It is one thing to open one’s synagogue for dialogue reflecting different political viewpoints; it is quite another to welcome into it someone who spews racist hatred.

The willingness of an institution like the Great Neck Synagogue to welcome someone who promotes religious bigotry and racism—rather than to condemn such messages and acts—helps to fuel the hate-filled atmosphere in which such ideas thrive within and beyond the Jewish community. This atmosphere has contributed to physical and verbal attacks on Muslims and South Asians as well as to governmental violations of civil rights, such as the NYPD surveillance program against the Muslim community in the metropolitan area and beyond. 

We stand with all members of the Long Island community who have spoken out against such hatred, and we condemn the attacks that have been made against those who have stood up and called on the synagogue to cancel this invitation.

The Jews Against Islamophobia (JAIC) Coalition consists of three groups: Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), and Jews Say No!  http://www.jewsagainstislamophobia.org/

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 36 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. Hostage says:

    I find it hilarious that our liberal friends at the Forward and Haaretz can’t discern the difference between 1) attempts by public officials in educational institutions to muzzle students who speak-out in favor of equal rights for both Jews and Palestinians; versus 2) opposition to the use of private Jewish institutions to promote hate speech by the likes of Pam Geller. link to haaretz.com

    Even when they do discuss state-sponsored suppression of speech in a synagogue, like the decades-long case of the Women of the Wall versus the Western Wall Heritage Association, the Forward and Haaretz haven’t accused the responsible officials of “flip-flopping on freedom of speech”.
    link to nytimes.com

    But they’ve jumped to that unfounded conclusion in the case of those who are offended by the private invitation extended to Geller by this particular synagogue.

    • Joe Ed says:

      I live outside of Boston and the Temple right down the street frequently invites Muslim haters to speak (Geert Wilders, Jerry Boykin, Wafa Sultan, some other guy or guys a few weeks ago that they were bragging on in the Boston Herald).

      Scary

  2. yourstruly says:

    those of one faith who stereotype people of another faith

    when the screw turns

    and yours is the faith being stigmatized

    when you cry foul

    will anyone care?

    • Mike_Konrad says:

      those of one faith who stereotype people of another faith

      when the screw turns

      and yours is the faith being stigmatized

      when you cry foul

      will anyone care?

      Good point!

      But the Israelis look at it as case where they will be condemned, attacked, and killed no matter what their behavior, so why not go down fighting.

      When they behaved well [or at least thought that they behaved well] they were attacked.

      So they think they have no incentive.

      Maybe they don’t.

      • yourstruly says:

        when the going gets tough those israelis with more than one passport will be booking seats on the next flight to some other country. what’s more israelis may give lip service to holding out (a la the masada) but the conniptions that they go through at even one casualty suggests they’d do otherwise. remember how fast the french colons fled algeria a half century ago? also the portuguese in mozambique? and they’d been there for three centuries.

      • Citizen says:

        @ Mike_Konrad
        You mean when they got out of Gaza and got lots of US carrots for doing that? What were they doing in Gaza in the first place? Most of the natives had run there out of deathly fear from Israel’s state in the first place. And even after the Israelis got out of Gaza, they immediately set up what so far is a permanent siege on Gaza, turning it into an open air prison. So why do you say “maybe they don’t ” have an incentive to behave well? I guess you mean, they don’t have an incentive to behave well because the sole superpower rewards them for behaving badly, with no sign of change.

      • MK_Ultra says:

        But the Israelis look at it as case where they will be condemned, attacked, and killed no matter what their behavior, so why not go down fighting.

        HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! Thanks for the laugh dude. That must be your morbid attempt at Hasbara humor.

      • Ecru says:

        When did the Israeli’s EVER behave well? Are you some visitor from a parallel dimension or something?

  3. doug says:

    “Objecting to the invitation to Geller is not a First Amendment or censorship issue. Only the government can violate someone’s free speech rights.”

    Of course. Isn’t this obvious? There is a big difference between private schools, and public schools where the First Amendment can come into play. Good thing the US doesn’t have a State Religion unlike many other countries.

  4. John Douglas says:

    I’m still with J. S. Mill that the correct response to speech we don’t like is not to squelch but to answer.

    The use of the relatively new and ill-defined label “hate speech” is most often to repress rather than answer speech. I that way it resembles the older label “anti-semitic.”

    • John Douglas says:

      I’m still with J. S. Mill that the correct response to speech we don’t like is not to squelch but to answer.

      The use of the relatively new and ill-defined label “hate speech” is most often to repress rather than answer speech. In that way it resembles the older label “anti-semitic.”

      • RoHa says:

        I’m with you there.

      • Hostage says:

        I’m still with J. S. Mill that the correct response to speech we don’t like is not to squelch but to answer.

        That is a somewhat platitudinous summary of his views. Mill stated that it was always acceptable to limit individual freedom in order to prevent harm to others. Among other things, hate speech laws, are aimed at preventing incitement to harm others. There are no civilized societies, including Mill’s, that don’t prohibit forms of speech like slander, libel, perjury, or treason.

        Mill himself was a member of the British Parliament in the 19th Century. He felt there were no limits to the power his government could exercise over so-called backward peoples, races, and societies that were incapable of self-government, including despotism. But he felt that compulsion was justified even in a civilized society when the security of others was involved:

        That principle is, that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. . . . It is, perhaps, hardly necessary to say that this doctrine is meant to apply only to human beings in the maturity of their faculties. We are not speaking of children, or of young persons below the age which the law may fix as that of manhood or womanhood. . . . For the same reason, we may leave out of consideration those backward states of society in which the race itself may be considered in its nonage. The early difficulties in the way of spontaneous progress are so great, that there is seldom any choice of means for overcoming them; and a ruler full of the spirit of improvement is warranted in the use of any expedients that will attain an end, perhaps otherwise unattainable. Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians, provided the end be their improvement, and the means justified by actually effecting that end. Liberty, as a principle, has no application to any state of things anterior to the time when mankind have become capable of being improved by free and equal discussion.

        Until then, there is nothing for them but implicit obedience to an Akbar or a Charlemagne, if they are so fortunate as to find one. But as soon as mankind have attained the capacity of being guided to their own improvement by conviction or persuasion (a period long since reached in all nations with whom we need here concern ourselves), compulsion, either in the direct form or in that of pains and penalties for non-compliance, is no longer admissible as a means to their own good, and justifiable only for the security of others.

        On Liberty: The Subjection of Women, H. Holt, 1895, pages 23-25

        • RoHa says:

          “Among other things, hate speech laws, are aimed at preventing incitement to harm others.”

          But surely the pre-existing laws were sufficient to deal with incitement to violence. Were I to stand on my soapbox and urge the populace to round up the people who live in Smith Street* and hang them, I would surely be liable for prosecution under those laws. Why would we need extra laws to prosecute me for urging the populace to round up and hang New Zealanders?

          On the other hand, if I proclaim from that same soapbox that New Zealanders are sheep-shaggers who make lousy beer, is that an incitement to harm? I have not explicitly called for any harm against them.

          I know it can be argued that hearing such a view expressed could inflame those who are already pre-disposed to violence, but if that is to be taken as sufficient reason for restricting speech, we could end up being forbidden from making any critical comments about anyone at all.

          Of course, we can say that sensible men will be able to judge which critical comments will inflame the mob, and which will not, and apply the hate speech laws accordingly, but if we are to trust to the judgement of sensible men, why not trust the judgement of sensible men to apply the pre-existing
          laws on incitement to violence, and decide whether my criticisms of New Zealanders constitutes incitement to violence?

          (*Or people who wear check shorts, or lawyers.)

        • Hostage says:

          But surely the pre-existing laws were sufficient to deal with incitement to violence.

          The pre-existing laws have obviously not been sufficient to prevent Netanyahu, Bush, Blair, Cheney, or Obama from engaging in public incitement to commit aggression against others and then trivializing even the most obvious examples of cold-blooded murder in the aftermath. The ICJ advised that Israel could not avoid responsibility for the wrongfulness of its acts by invoking its own national security or a state of necessity. The same principle applied to the US-UK invasion of Iraq.

          Pam Geller makes a practice of justifying and defending Israel’s acts of aggression against Palestinians, even though they result in hundreds or thousands of wrongful deaths per year (year after year). The existing laws do not prevent Zionists from publicly reserving “the right” to commit more war crimes and crimes against humanity in the future.

        • Hostage says:

          I know it can be argued that hearing such a view expressed could inflame those who are already pre-disposed to violence, but if that is to be taken as sufficient reason for restricting speech, we could end up being forbidden from making any critical comments about anyone at all.

          Nobody slips on a bar of soap and invades another country by accident. Wars are illegal. Engaging in apologetics for wars of choice has zero redeeming social value. It’s absurd to suggest that obvious examples of slander and libel should have legal consequences more grave than those reserved for persons who incite and defend murder, ill-treatment, or deportation of others.

  5. ● RE: “[T]he Jews Against Islamophobia Coalition is especially outraged that the leaders of the Great Neck Synagogue have chosen Pamela Geller to speak at the synagogue on April 14, rather than condemn–loudly and unambiguously–her record of anti-Muslim hatred and bigotry.” ~ Jews Against Islamophobia Coalition

    ● MY COMMENT: The ‘Jews Against Islamophobia Coalition’ had better be very, very careful. Pamela Geller’s personal attorney is the notorious white supremacist David Yerushalmi. I imagine that, like most white supremacists, he knows how to play rough!

    ● SEE: “DAVID YERUSHALMI: ‘THE MAN BEHIND THE ANTI-SHARIAH MOVEMENT’”, By Pamela Geller, Atlas’ Stench, 7/31/2011

    [EXCERPTS] The ‘New York Times’ has a lengthy piece on a man I consider a national treasure, and I am not just saying that becuase he is my lawyer, representing me in numerous cases (i.e., the $10,000,000 lawsuit brought by Rifqa Bary’s parents; the violation of free speech in the banning of my freedom buses; the NYC transit ban on my Ground Zero mosque buses, etc.).
    The Times gets it wrong, of course. It woud be kind of wonderful for the likes of Andrea Elliot to practice her craft in a sharia-compliant country and spare us her smears and deceptive whitewash of the most brutal ideology on the face of the earth.
    It’s a smear piece, and a heads up to Ms. Elliot, America is behind the anti-shariah movement.
    “The Man Behind the Anti-Shariah Movement” ~ Andrea Elliot, ‘NY Times’
    A confluence of factors has fueled the anti-Shariah movement, most notably the controversy over the proposed Islamic center near ground zero in New York, concerns about homegrown terrorism and the rise of the Tea Party. But the campaign’s air of grass-roots spontaneity, which has been carefully promoted by advocates, shrouds its more deliberate origins.
    In fact, it is the product of an orchestrated drive that began five years ago in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in the office of a little-known lawyer, David Yerushalmi, a 56-year-old Hasidic Jew with a history of controversial statements about race, immigration and Islam.
    Despite his lack of formal training in Islamic law, Mr. Yerushalmi has come to exercise a striking influence over American public discourse about Shariah. . .

    SOURCE – link to atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com

    • ● P.S. ALSO SEE: “David Yerushalmi, Islam-Hating White Supremacist Inspires Anti-Sharia Bills Sweeping Tea Party Nation”, by Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam, 3/02/11

      [EXCERPTS] You’ve gotta hand it to David Yerushalmi. Until now, I can’t recall a Jew who’s ever been called a white supremacist before (actually now that I think of it, I called him a Jewish white supremacist way back in 2007). Thanks to him, we now can. . .
      . . . I’m referring to an eye-opening expose in Mother Jones about the inspiration the Jewish extremist is offering for the anti-Muslim legal initiatives that are sweeping the south after the victory of one such campaign in Oklahoma a few months ago. . .
      . . . One of the most delicious phrases used to describe the Jewish anti-jihadi is “white supremacist,” to which I say: if the shoe fits . . . I’ve also called him a Jewish fascist. But white supremacist will do just as well.
      As Murphy notes, this is a guy who endorses the principle that “Caucasians” are superior to blacks and that Jewish liberals are a cancer in the U.S. body politic. The nearest Jewish “intellectual” antecedent I can determine would be Meir Kahane. But Yerushalmi’s views are far more radical than Kahane’s. . .

      ENTIRE COMMENTARY – link to richardsilverstein.com

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  6. How does one go about “Islamising” the US? By encouraging more Afghan refugees to seek admission to the US? More Somalis? Eritreans?

  7. I wonder if Pam Geller is concerned that the birthrate of Muslims in the Russian Federation is higher than the birthrate of non-Muslims.

    • Mike_Konrad says:

      I wonder if Pam Geller is concerned that the birthrate of Muslims in the Russian Federation is higher than the birthrate of non-Muslims.

      She should be. The Russians have nukes.

      • Eva Smagacz says:

        Muslim are not to be trusted with nuclear weapons (/sarcasm).

      • Ecru says:

        So your position is that Muslims, any Muslims, would use nukes where other people would not. Oh no you’re not a blind bigot at all are you.

        If Europe were to use Israel’s definition of “existential threat” as a justification for attacking another nation they’d launch a pre-emptive strike on Israel right now in response to the uniquely insane “Samson Option.”

    • bilal a says:

      Yes Muslims will be a rather large majority in Europe and Russia most likely resulting in increased Jewish emigartion to the US from both areas and of course Israel. This should radicalize the American jewish community even further as time passes, at least in this vocal immigrant sub population.

  8. Mayhem says:

    All focus on Jewish organizations with their open dialogues, discussions and debates. Nothing from the other side, no Islamic organizations extending invitations to non-Muslims to come inside and talk.
    Why is everything so one-sided here?

    • Donald says:

      I doubt that’s true, but Muslim organizations are also spied upon and treated with suspicion and sometimes contempt in the US, even by some mainstream politicians,no doubt pandering to people like you. It’s hard to believe, but Bush II was actually relatively liberal on this compared to later Republicans.

      • Mayhem says:

        @Donald, you doubt that it’s true.
        Your uninformed guesswork hardly inspires me to change my statement.
        Take the National Centre for Excellence in Islamic Studies Australia at the University of Melbourne for example. Refer link to nceis.unimelb.edu.au
        Zilch.

    • Cliff says:

      Its not one-sided at all.

      Phil is Jewish. Adam is Jewish.

      Phil has said that he writes from the perspective of a Jewish progressive and to heal his community.

      He writes with that identity and purpose.

      If you want to learn about Islamic inter-faith dialogues, I suggest you cut the lame victim-hood complex and Google or search the archives here.

    • mig says:

      @Mayhem. Wanna join?

      link to aicongress.org

      link to aifdemocracy.org

      Why is everything so one-sided here? Dunno. We can use google?

    • Citizen says:

      @ Mayhem
      Bullsh**. For example, CAIR encourages non-Muslims to “come inside and talk” all the time. You should get off your daily dose of zioncain and get on CAIR’s mail list. It’s a good organization; here they are in Florida: http://www.cairflorida.org

    • Ecru says:

      Jewish organisations with their open dialogue? I assume you’re joking given all the broohaha Jewish groups raise any time the Palestinian side of things is even whispered of. But isn’t it interesting that you single out Islam for your response. Why not Christianity, Sikhism or Hinduism?

      Zionists bringing the “right” type of bigotry to a community near you soon.

  9. jayn0t says:

    “Only the government can violate someone’s free speech rights.”

    So, if a mob of rednecks prevented Chomsky from speaking, or Brooklyn College had barred the BDS campaign, that would not be violating their free speech rights?

    Of course a synagogue can invite Pam Geller. They agree with her. Of course it’s hate – and mostly not true – but that’s freedom. The SPLC opposes freedom for extremists like Geller so it can gradually undermine it for everyone else it disagrees with.

    • Hostage says:

      So, if a mob of rednecks prevented Chomsky from speaking, or Brooklyn College had barred the BDS campaign, that would not be violating their free speech rights?

      The 1st Amendment is a limitation on the power of the federal government. Try reading it. The Courts have employed the 14th Amendment to apply the Bill of Rights to State, county, and municipal governments. A mob of red necks is not a government entity, but the Brooklyn College is a government entity that receives federal funding.

  10. Blank State says:

    “Nothing from the other side, no Islamic organizations extending invitations to non-Muslims to come inside and talk”

    Hmmm. Who do you suggest they invite? Besides, here you have a Jewish Synagogue inviting a rabidly racist Jew to speak. How do you waltz into this being about inviting a member of another faith to speak to an Islamic organization? Where is the parrallel to a synagogue inviting the witch Geller to speak? Perhaps you think CAIR should invite Geller to speak??? Maybe you just haven’t thought things through, eh?

    • Hostage says:

      Perhaps you think CAIR should invite Geller to speak???

      LOL! This appearance is no longer a hot topic, since the Los Angles Jewish Federation canceled the ZOA’s scheduled Gellar-fest. See
      *”Anti-Islamic Activist Blocked From L.A. Speech: Federation Scratches Pamela Geller Event, Sparking Protest” – link to forward.com
      *” Conservative blogger Pamela Geller lashes out at L.A. Jewish federation over nixed speech”: Geller, a fiery critic of Muslims, liberals and mainstream Jewish organizations, took to her blog to blast the federation, comparing modern-day Jewish leaders to those who did not do enough to protest the Nazis in the years leading up to the Holocaust. — link to haaretz.com