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Activists mark Chanukah by challenging growing Islamophobia in the United States

on 27 Comments

Tying together a long history of Jewish social justice activism–think Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel participating alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches–Jewish Voice for Peace and Jews Say No! gathered in Rockefeller Plaza on the first night of Chanukah to call for an end to the virulent and growing Islamophobia facing Muslims in the United States.

Members of the Jews Against Islamophobia Coalition held up nine candle placards to represent each candle of the Chanukah menorah in a poignant action against the varied and pervasive forms of Islamophobia and racism that exist within American society. The coalition identified eight commitments corresponding to the eight candles; the first night’s commitment stating “We will not be silent about anti-Muslim and racist hate speech and hate crimes.” Among the holiday and tourist crowds, demonstrators called out their commitment to fight Islamophobic hatred and violence, punctuating the directives with songs of resistance and tolerance like “This Little Light of Mine.” Some people scoffed, some shouted back–and some joined the demonstration.

A man who gave his name as Parviz was walking by with a friend and asked to hold up a sign that said “Solidarity”. Originally from Uzbekistan, Parviz is a Muslim American living in Brooklyn who is tired of what he called the mainstream media incitement against Muslim communities. “Generations of Muslims growing up will be afraid,” Parviz worried, adding that even he is afraid to “read the word Muslim or Islam in the news,” for fear it will be in the oft-repeated xenophobic narrative.

Dorothy Zellner and a young volunteer help light a menorah. (Photo: Jewish Voice for Peace)

Dorothy Zellner and a young volunteer help light a menorah. (Photo: Jewish Voice for Peace)

The concerted racist hatred of the U.S. rightwing is perhaps most obvious in the rhetoric of billionaire GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump who over the course of his campaign has proposed a plan to register all Muslim Americans in a national database as well as ban all Muslims from entering the United States. Jews Against Islamophobia Coalition spokeswoman Dorothy Zellner told Mondoweiss, “people in every community everywhere have got to stand up now. This is a critical moment. I mean when open, fascist statements are being made and they’re not being contradicted…we have to, we absolutely have to stand up. So as Jews we have to because we know what happens when you don’t.”

Zellner further pointed out the hypocrisy plaguing mainstream media when it comes to dealing with suspected terrorists. Referring to the mass shooting in a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood facility on November 27 that left 3 dead and 9 others wounded, Zellner called out the double standard of Muslim terrorism versus Christian terrorism.

“You have a crazed Christian fanatic you know who just did it a week ago, who just shot up people a week ago, and truly the critics are right: I mean, nobody called this a Christian terrorism.” Zellner dated the lenient treatment of white Christian political violence to the 1950s and ‘60s, adding “coming from the Civil Rights movement, I assure you, no white person who bombed a church and firebombed somebody’s home was ever called a terrorist. Ever ever ever. They were never called white, they were never called terrorist, they were never called Christians.”

The Jews Against Islamophobia Coalition is holding similar events in 15 different U.S. cities on each night of Chanukah, in an effort to spread actions against Islamophobia and rekindle the “commitment to justice.” The other cities are Miami; Chicago; Washington, D.C.; New Haven; Portland; Oregon; Durham; Columbus, Ohio; Seattle; Atlanta; Boston; Ithaca; Springfield; Denver and Providence. Activists will also reconvene in all 15 cities on December 13, the last night of the holiday.

Reiterating the need for members of the American Jewish community to get involved in combatting anti-Muslim sentiment, Zellner stated unequivocally, “We have to stand up now against the hysteria–we absolutely have to. And if we don’t, we know what the end is.”

Activists speaking out against Islamophobia and racism in Rockefeller Plaza, Dec 6. (Photo: Jewish Voice for Peace)

Activists speaking out against Islamophobia and racism in Rockefeller Plaza, Dec 6. (Photo: Jewish Voice for Peace)

Jesse Rubin

Jesse Rubin is a freelance journalist from New York. Twitter: @JesseJDRubin

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27 Responses

  1. Atlantaiconoclast on December 9, 2015, 2:55 pm

    Till people begin to speak out against the official narrative behind 9/11, nothing will change. Ending Islamophobia will not be possible any more than stopping a hurricane. Too many Americans are emotionally invested in Islamophobia, precisely because most of them believe the official story.

    • traintosiberia on December 9, 2015, 6:46 pm

      Not only that,there are more. American went to war against Germany because of Lusitania and Zimmerman telegram.
      America has sunk too many ships and carried personally too many ” Zommerman telegrams” to the Middle East SAsian leaders with ” yes or yes ” choice .
      Americans might shrug it off just the way recently some Europeans youth shrugged it off when they realized the violences they were accusing Koran of ,actually came from Bible .

      Truth and nothing will pave way to justice . Without justice ,peace will be elusive .

  2. traintosiberia on December 9, 2015, 4:09 pm

    Islamphobia will stay with us for a long time even long after the threat of jihadism and terrorism are gone.
    I can see the dirty political future wjere some leftist neocon left over coming out cowshed and hijack this picture above in the name of fighting for Muslim.

  3. Jackdaw on December 11, 2015, 2:07 am

    Does anyone really believe that holding up a sign is going to stop Islamism or Islamophobia?

    • talknic on December 11, 2015, 8:54 pm

      @ Jackdaw

      So Islamophobia also exists. Thanks for confirming

    • eljay on December 11, 2015, 10:05 pm

      || Jackdaw: Does anyone really believe that holding up a sign is going to stop Islamism or Islamophobia? ||

      You’re right: Crush Islamism and Zio-supremacism and other forms of evil, and educate against Islamophobia and Judeophobia and other forms of fear(-mongering).

  4. oldgeezer on December 11, 2015, 3:58 pm


    Of course not you silly boy. It makes a statement abd helps spread the message just like any sign.

    • Jackdaw on December 12, 2015, 4:54 pm


      I’m not your boy.

      Hidden reasons why Americans dislike Islam.


      • annie on December 12, 2015, 7:15 pm

        you’ve got to be kidding me jack, that article is written by an ironclad islamophobe. in his first sentence

        There will be no doubt some hand-wringing about “Islamophobia” and further calls to continue the American elite’s fourteen-year track record of whitewashing Islamic beliefs and culture

        and his “whitewashing’ embed (i bolded it and didn’t link) offers absolutely NO evidence of “whitewashing” (other than a single reference to obama telling the american public to be tolerant) and instead links to one of his own racist diatribes claiming the ‘Muslim World’ is overcome with ‘Hate’. then he tries to claim american don’t like muslims because all the 2 million soldiers who came home trashed the ME, as if the average american is in touch with military personel (they are not). overwhelming evidence suggests it’s the media — an dpeople just like him spewing their islamophobia night and day for over a decade into american minds. anyway, i’m not letting you post that gruesome link here. any one can find it w/a search of what i blockquoted. find somewhere else to drop your filthy turds.

      • oldgeezer on December 12, 2015, 7:52 pm


        Of course your’re not my boy. If you were then I’d disown you.

      • oldgeezer on December 12, 2015, 8:05 pm


        Truly a garbage piece. Takes a sick mind to pay heed to such unsupported and vile libels.

      • Jackdaw on December 13, 2015, 4:28 pm


        Why don’t you throw David French’s New York Time bestseller on the bonfire, as well?

      • annie on December 13, 2015, 4:57 pm

        oh great, the ACLJ website

        An organization one may think is a sad parody of the ACLU but is indeed a real organization that is the exact opposite of the ACLU. The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) was founded by fundamentalist Christian televangelist Pat Robertson to turn the United States into a theocracy via the Supreme Court. It is currently run by fellow neoconservative Jay Sekulow and headquartered in Washington DC (next door to the National Pro-life Action Center and right down the street from the courts, no less).

        It is a known fact that many students from Robertson’s Regent University start their political careers by interning at this organization.

        some freaks are popular jack, and people buy their books. that doesn’t men we need to promote them.

  5. oldgeezer on December 11, 2015, 3:59 pm

    It is people like these that give me hope for humanity.

    • Kris on December 11, 2015, 4:11 pm

      People like these Canadians give me hope for humanity, too:

      Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has welcomed the first plane of Syrian refugees as they arrived in Toronto. The country is pushing forward with a pledge to resettle 25,000 Syrians fleeing conflict by the end of February.

      In contrast, the United States plan to take in just 10,000 over the next year, and even that is provoking opposition. …

      “This is a wonderful night, where we get to show not just a planeload of new Canadians what Canada is all about, we get to show the world how to open our hearts and welcome in people who are fleeing extraordinarily difficult situations,’ Trudeau said.

      All 10 of Canada’s provincial premiers support taking in the refugees and members of the opposition, including the Conservative party, attended the welcoming late Thursday. Trudeau was also joined by the ministers of immigration, health and defense, as well as Ontario’s premier and Toronto’s mayor.

      In the U.S., several Republican governors have tried to stop the arrival of Syrian refugees in their states in the wake of the deadly attacks blamed on Islamic extremists in Paris and California. …

      Greg Keoushkerian, 26, waited at the airport for his best friend, whom he sponsored. Keoushkerian, a Syrian refugee of Armenian descent, said he and his family have been in Canada for 10 months and didn’t bother applying for asylum in the U.S.

      ‘Canada has been so welcoming. The U.S. doesn’t seem like that. People here respect each other here. It’s so multicultural,’ he said.

      And here are children from across Canada, welcoming their new friends:

      • oldgeezer on December 11, 2015, 4:30 pm

        As a Canadian I can say it is like a breath of fresh air to be rid of Harper at long last. There is nore we can do. I am sure Trudeau’s honeymoon will end but for now he makes me feel that we try to do the right thing as a nation.

  6. wondering jew on December 11, 2015, 5:12 pm

    It is natural to fret/obsess regarding a murder done by an immigrant for political reasons than a murder done by a citizen for political reasons. Thus to contrast the nonalarm reaction to the killings at planned parenthood with the alarm at the killings done by the immigrant from Pakistan/Saudi Arabia (and her citizen husband) is to pretend that human beings are cold statisticians and not human beings.

    • lysias on December 11, 2015, 5:26 pm

      My recollection is that there was already alarm over the killings in San Bernardino before we learned that the woman shooter was from Pakistan/Saudi Arabia. I think there was alarm as soon as it was learned that the shooters were Muslims.

      I was looking at the Comments sections of Washington Post articles on the shootings on line in the days immediately after the shootings.

      • Kris on December 11, 2015, 6:47 pm

        If the shooters really were this Muslim couple. How conceivable is it that the nursing mother of a six-month-old baby would sacrifice her life in this way, no matter how “radicalized” she is supposed to have been?

        For me, this is about as believable as the official “truth” that all those Palestinians are “attacking” Israelis with knives. Or that steel buildings collapse into their footprints without the aid of powerful demolition charges.

        San Bernardino, CA — On the night of December 2, after the tragic shootings at the Inland Regional Medical Center, CBS Evening News interviewed a witness to the shooting.

        The interview, which took place live and over the phone, has not been covered by any other mainstream outlet despite the vastly different details provided which completely contradict the subsequent ‘official’ narrative, while backing up several other eyewitness accounts.

        Witness Sally Abdelmageed, who works at the Inland Regional Center, and witnessed the shooting, spoke to CBS correspondent Scott Pelley.

        During this interview, Pelley would ask Abdelmageed to describe the shooters in detail. Abdelmageed replied that the shooters were three tall athletic white men.

        Below is the transcribed conversation from last week’s interview. …

        What makes Abdelmageed’s recount of the shooting so compelling is that she is corroborating the initial reports coming from unknown witnesses and police accounts on the ground during the shooting.

        As the Free Thought Project was reporting on the events as they unfolded, we managed to capture the links to police reports describing three shooters, who were “white males.”

        Fox Los Angeles reported that the suspects are “white males” in “military gear” and armed with “rifles.”

        Mark Stutte, who works in information technology for the county’s public health department, said his daughter called him from the scene, at the Inland Regional Center and described the exact same thing.

        “It was a like a Christmas party, an award party that we were having,” Stutte said.

        “She went to the restroom and she called me. She was huddled up in the restroom, and three gunman came in and they started shooting people — colleagues that I work with,” Stutte said.

        As the press descended upon the scene, police began to insert themselves between witnesses and reporters. Not only did they threaten witnesses by telling them not to talk to the press, but they were seen on LIVE TV physically pushing witnesses and press away from each other. Read more at

      • RoHa on December 11, 2015, 11:13 pm

        “If the shooters really were …”

        Quite a few people seem to have forgotten the basic legal principle of “innocent till proved guilty”.

      • Kris on December 12, 2015, 3:29 pm

        @RoHa: “Quite a few people seem to have forgotten the basic legal principle of “innocent till proved guilty”.

        “Innocent until proven guilty” obviously does not apply to selected classes of people including Muslims, Palestinians, and blacks.

      • oldgeezer on December 12, 2015, 6:19 pm

        I keep finding this thread intriguing. Particularly in light of indestructible passports, dead terrorists who turn up alive and uninvolved, etc.

        That said I am not sure how much can be read into ot. I have a few judges in my family and at one time or another they have all said they view eyewitness testimony to be the least reliable form of evidence. No idea if that would be generally accepted.

        I can also understand the cops separating the witnesses and reporters until such time as they had been interviewed by law enforcement officials as anything else could contaminate their recollection.

        It still makes me wonder, however, and perhaps we will never know.

    • echinococcus on December 11, 2015, 5:42 pm

      If that is your conception of human beings, Reb Fredman, count me out. You are describing stupid, dangerous yahoos that might as well be Zionists.

    • Mooser on December 11, 2015, 5:46 pm

      “It is natural to fret/obsess regarding a murder done by an immigrant for political reasons than a murder done by a citizen for political reasons. Thus to contrast the nonalarm reaction to the killings at planned parenthood with the alarm at the killings done by the immigrant from Pakistan/Saudi Arabia (and her citizen husband)…”

      Wow! I didn’t know you did ‘sarcasm’ “Yonah”!

    • oldgeezer on December 11, 2015, 8:27 pm


      I am sure you can back that assertion up with a reliable study beyond your usual claims that everyone knows it.

      Feel free to share it.

  7. MaxNarr on December 15, 2015, 10:22 pm

    Ironic and sad self haters.

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