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Commentary Last Updated: Jan 16th, 2007 - 02:00:13

Is Islamophobia the new anti-Semitism?
By Joachim Martillo & Karin Friedemann
Online Journal Guest Writers

Jan 16, 2007, 01:56

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For several years the news media have reported increasing numbers of controversies involving Muslim communities throughout the USA as well as in Europe.

Recently, Representative Virgil Goode (R-VA) and US Holocaust Museum Memorial Museum Council member Dennis Prager objected to Representative Ellison's (D-MN) use of a Quran during a private swearing-in ceremony. Since Ellison's election, Goode and many other politicians and pundits have been demanding changes in immigration law to decrease or to stop the immigration of Muslims to the USA, as if the Ellison's ancestors have not been residing in the territory of the USA since the eighteenth century. Such proposals constitute an unsubtle statement that Muslims have no place in America. Muslims seem to us somewhat exotic, and are, therefore, easy to stereotype. Dumping on Muslims is fun, cheap, and easy.

The unwillingness of American and Western societies, in general, to confront naked Islamophobic incitement recalls so many pathological actions associated with the development of modern anti-Semitism in Central and Eastern Europe that we Americans must ask ourselves whether Islamophobia is the New Anti-Semitism.

Unabashed Islamophobe Robert Spencer, who has strong associations with neocon organizations and leaders, routinely mischaracterizes Islamic religion and cultures. The title of his book, Islam Unveiled, is strongly reminiscent of Eisenmenger's classic anti-Jewish text, Entdecktes Judentum (Judaism Unmasked). He recently visited Temple Emanuel in Newton, Massachusetts, at the invitation of this synagogue's Israel Action Forum in order to assist in the ongoing defamation of the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB). (See "Report on Robert Spencer and the Boston Anti-Islamic Controversy" by Joachim Martillo.)

Other scribblers of anti-Islamic screeds have begun to cast Muslim owned and managed businesses like the Islamic Development Bank, from which the ISB obtained a mortgage, in the role of sinister malevolent entities just as nineteenth and twentieth century anti-Semites used to depict Jewish owned and managed financial institutions like the Rothschild or Bleichroeder banks as forces of darkness and exploitation. The Globe ran two perfect examples of such anti-Semitism on January 10: "The Boston mosque's Saudi connection" by Jeff Jacoby and "Saudi bank�s role in mosque is questioned" by Charles A. Radin and Stephen Kurkjian.

The analogy between contemporary Islamophobia and classical anti-Semitism is not merely literary. Most Globe readers probably analogized the anti-Mosque confrontation described in reporter Colin Nickerson�s Jan. 9 front page Boston Globe article �As a mosque rises, a dispute flares in Berlin� with the Roxbury mosque conflict. The article uses classic anti-Semitic verbal tactics to make Islamophobia appear as a virtuous activity. The headline cites the Syrian-born Arab studies specialist Bassam Tibi with an Otto Weininger-esque quotation: "Europeans have used tolerance as the excuse for not confronting intolerance." One hopes that the author has taken Professor Tibi's words out of context, for he is certainly out of his field. Germans simply are not known for being particularly tolerant and have a strong history of racist violence and bigotry, which continues to this day. As if there were no history of decades of expressions of anti-Muslim and anti-Turkish hatred in Germany, Nickerson defines traditional German bigotry as a new willingness to confront Muslims.

The problem in the Globe's coverage of Muslims arises from the continuous stream of poisonous accusations and insinuations provided by pro-Israel advocacy organizations like the David Project and its affiliates. Like many other US newspapers the Boston Globe is giving license to journalists, who found their entry level jobs at the ethnic Jewish press or who are otherwise enmeshed with the organized Jewish community, to repeat talking points and press releases circulated on the Internet by people like David Project founder Charles Jacobs, when a good reporter would be doing serious investigative journalism or at least fact-checking.

As the cost of the Israeli-American alliance becomes more obvious, the David Project and similar Israel advocacy organizations are finding it more and more difficult to control discourse or to win debates about US Middle East policy. From the standpoint of the David Project, it makes much more sense to marginalize, to demonize, and to delegitimize Muslims in order to deflect criticism, than to engage in a debate with the American public that it is likely to lose.

In the Jan. 10 Boston Globe, reporters Charles Radin and Stephen Kurjian raised questions about the funding of the Roxbury mosque project. Again. The funding of the Roxbury mosque is not only not news; it's old news. The Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) has simply obtained a loan to finance construction of its Islamic center, just as many Americans do when they build their homes. The libelers casting suspicion on the ISB for [gasp!] getting a mortgage, are counting on members of the American public to be unaware that banks are multinational corporations. When you get a loan from Citibank, a lot of that money comes from the United Arab Emirates. Such cash flow is normal. The ISB is limited in its choice of mortgage providers because it must obtain a loan that conforms to Islamic law. The ISB already submitted their financial information to the Globe and to the David Project but the Globe refused to print the clarifications. An apology would have been in order.

The Globe willfully chose to create a fake story even while it had the facts. What is the reason? Subverting American news media is an important aspect of the David Project's self-declared mission ("diminishing the impact of Israel's detractors"). We have looked at the court filings and personal defamation suits directed at the David Project and friends. There is evidence to support the contention that various news, media including the Boston Herald and Fox News, have conspired with the David Project in a campaign to make us fear the mosque.

We that have followed the demonization of the Islamic Society of Boston by the David Project, Charles Jacobs, and his motley crew of anti-Arab anti-Muslim true believers are tired of the harassment of our friends and neighbors by bigoted, malicious know-nothings. The ISB is, by any standard, a completely apolitical faith organization, whose members are very nice people as anyone can learn by attending one of the ISB's public dinners. The members of the ISB, its directors and staff are completely law-abiding American citizens. The ISB has never even made any public statements on Israel. The ISB, unlike many Boston-area synagogues and Jewish community centers, only flies the American flag.

Debates on foreign policy have no relevance to the Roxbury mosque controversy, except that Charles Jacobs is coordinating various pro-Israel organizations to defame American Muslims. Conspiracy to deprive American citizens of their constitutional rights to assemble freely to worship is a federal crime. It is an indication of the power of the Israel Lobby and the level of moral corruption to which the USA has sunk under the Bush administration that Charles Jacobs and his co-conspirators have not been indicted. If the American political leadership does not have the courage to stand up to those that try to normalize Islamophobia, our democracy will be lost because the enemies of freedom will not stop with American Muslims.

It is time for the Israel advocacy propagandists to be scrutinized. We have looked at their public filings, and the David Project appears to be at the center of a network of connections among power brokers in Boston-area academia, in the Massachusetts Republican Party and in the Massachusetts Democratic Party, as well as in the local real estate and financial industries. (For details see "Battle waged in Boston over new mosque") This type of non-transparent para-organization (friends of friends) among the powers can easily develop into a threat to American democracy and become a mechanism to deprive groups of American citizens of their legal protections.

By suppressing public debate on important issues, Israel advocates put all Americans at risk of financial disaster or worse as policy makers more loyal to Israel than to the US manipulate America into waging pointless wars, instead of engaging in a civil dialogue with the rest of the world on matters of worldwide concern. Well, guess what! There is no constitutional requirement for Americans whether Muslim or non-Muslim to love Israel. The Boston news media and the FBI should be investigating the David Project, which is the genuine threat to America.


On Jan. 12, the Boston Globe published a Reuters article, "Islam urged to accept Enlightenment," whose Islamophobic innuendo duplicates classic 18th and 19th century exhortations from Judeophobes and anti-Semites that Jews must assimilate enlightened Christian values.

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