Activism

Jewish groups call on their communities: defund Islamophobia now

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Editor’s Note: The following is a statement  from Defund Islamophobia. Mondoweiss occasionally publishes press releases and statements from organizations in an effort to draw attention to overlooked issues.

As 450 Jewish community members from across the country gathered at the New York Marriott in downtown Brooklyn to participate in a one-day event, “A Taste of the Collaboratory,” where members of the Defund Islamophobia campaign held signs in front of the hotel that read: “Jewish Communities Say: Defund Islamophobia Now.” The group also handed out informational postcards and spoke to those attending the conference urging them to reach out to Jewish funds that support anti-Muslim racism.

The Jewish Communal Fund (JCF) in New York, one of the participants in today’s gathering, has supported anti-Muslim hate to the tune of over 2 million dollars in recent years. They are not the only Jewish fund doing so.  Chicago’s Jewish United Fund has allowed hundreds of thousands of donor advised fund (DAF) dollars to bankroll Islamophobic groups. Organizers in NYC and Chicago have documented their findings in detailed reports that reveal the extent of funding going to Islamophobia.

A report by the Council on Islamic-American Relations (CAIR) looked at the money trail from over 1,000 largely mainstream charities to 39 anti-Muslim groups that it calls the “Islamophobia Network. The 2019 report, called “Hijacked by Hate,” found that nearly $125 million was funneled to these groups (20014-2016). Of these 1,000+ charities reviewed, JCF was the 8th largest funder of anti-Muslim groups ($3.2 million during this period).

Protesters hands out information calling for the Jewish Communal Fund to stop funding anti-Muslim organizations. (Photo: Defund Islamophobia)
Protesters hands out information calling for the Jewish Communal Fund to stop funding anti-Muslim organizations. (Photo: Defund Islamophobia)

“That Jewish funds can support the most vile anti-Muslim bigots is unconscionable, particularly at this moment with the increase in violence against so many of our communities,” said Elena Stein, one of the organizers with the Defund Islamophobia campaign who was handing out the postcards to individuals entering the gathering. “Jewish organizations rightly wouldn’t fund anti-Semitic hate. Why do they not apply the same standards when it comes to funding anti-Muslim hate,” she added.

“We know that many Jewish groups and individuals are concerned about Islamophobia. We wanted them to know that our communities are funding anti-Muslim hate and demand that they stop,” added Talia Baurer, another of the campaign’s organizers.

The hundreds of postcards that got passed out asked. “In the spirit of today’s gathering, what does true Muslim-Jewish collaboration look like? “

The postcard includes examples of what Muslim-Jewish partnership looks like:

  • Building community together;
  • Protesting together and having each other’s backs;
  • Opening up our communal spaces during times of violence against our Jewish and Muslim communities;
  • Actively opposing the Muslim ban and other state-sponsored Islamophobia; and
  • Calling upon our Jewish institutions to defund anti-Muslim hate.

Some of the Islamophobes who are funded by the Jewish Communal Fund include:

PAMELA GELLER, who writes that Islam “is an extreme ideology, the most radical and extreme ideology on the face of the earth”; CLARION PROJECT, which funds virulently anti-Muslim films; “DAVID HOROWITZ, whom the Southern Poverty Law Center calls “the godfather of the modern anti-Muslim movement”; STEVEN EMERSON, who forged a “dossier” linking American Muslim groups with terrorism; and DANIEL PIPES, who claims Muslims wish to “impose Islamic law [in the United States]” and more.

The postcard urges participants in today’s event to call the Jewish Communal Fund (in NYC) and the JUF (in Chicago) and ask them to defund Islamophobia now.

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“The Jewish Communal Fund (JCF) in New York, one of the participants in today’s gathering, has supported anti-Muslim hate to the tune of over 2 million dollars in recent years. “– Is it having a Damascus moment? Is it a true conversion?