August 5, 2010: The plan to build a mosque in the vicinity of Ground Zero in Lower Manhattan has predictably brought out a fresh wave of Islamophobia and calls to move the mosque elsewhere. Sadly, some of the Jewish organizations that are supposed to oppose bigotry have placed themselves on the wrong side of the issue.
The American Jewish Committee, tasked with promoting democratic and pluralistic societies, has given its conditional approval for the building the mosque as planned, but only after equating Islam with terrorism.(1) The Anti-Defamation League--tasked with fighting anti-Semitism, bigotry and extremism--has called for the Manhattan mosque to be moved to a different location.(2) The Simon Wiesenthal Center, tasked with confronting bigotry and racism, also opposes the building of the mosque in its location.(3) Meanwhile it continues to build a Museum of Tolerance on top of a Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem.(4)
They are failing us in Manhattan. They are failing us in Jerusalem.
Jewish-American political writer Peter Beinart looked at the ADL's opposition to the mosque and connected the dots: "Indifference to the rights and dignity of Palestinians is a cancer eating away at the moral pretensions of the American Jewish establishment. Last Friday, in the case of the ADL, we learned just how far that cancer has spread."(5)
In their public statements, the ADL and the AJC have counted the many ways they've come in defense of Muslims, be they in the US, Bosnia, Germany, France-everywhere except Israel and Palestine. They are unlikely to speak out if the Israeli Army follows through on plans to demolish a mosque in Jenin in the Occupied West Bank.(6)
Please ask your friends to sign our open letter to the leaders of the Anti Defamation League, American Jewish Committee, and Simon Wiesenthal Center, insisting that they denounce Israel's increasing violations of human rights, dignity, and democratic values, including midnight raids on activists, media gag orders, crushing nonviolent protest, and silencing NGO's.(7)
These American Jewish leaders are too often on the wrong side of issues and betray our Jewish values of truth and justice. Their blind support for Israel's government is leading them to engage in Islamophobia and support injustices, both here and abroad. We deserve better.
Sydney Levy, Jewish Voice for Peace
(1) American Jewish Committee Opposes Mosque Too, Aug 3, 2010 (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mj-rosenberg/american-jewish-committee_b_669424.html), Build the Cordoba Center? Aug 2, 2010 (http://www.ajc.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=ijITI2PHKoG&b=6154567&ct=8552121¬oc=1)
(2) The Mosque at Ground Zero, Aug 2, 2010 (http://www.adl.org/ADL_Opinions/Interfaith/Mosque_Ground_Zero.htm)
(3) Call to the SWC, Aug 4, 2010.
(4) Petition to Save Palestinians' Mamilla Cemetery from the Simon Wiesenthal Center's plans to Build over It (http://www.juancole.com/2010/03/petition-to-save-palestinians-mamilla.html)
(5) Hateful Ground Zero Hypocrisy, Aug 2, 2010 (http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2010-08-02/the-anti-defamation-leagues-ground-zero-mosque-hypocrisy/full/)
(6) IOF gives demolition notices to a mosque and houses in Jenin, Jul 31, 2010 (http://www.globalpost.com/webblog/israel-and-palestine/iof-gives-demolition-notices-mosque-and-houses-jenin)
(7) Take for example the case of Ameer Makhoul, a prominent Palestinian Israeli human rights defender, who was arrested in the middle of the night in front of his children, held without charges, denied a lawyer for 12 days, tortured, and then disappeared under a strict media gag order which was partially lifted after widespread protest. You can read more about his case in a letter we sent to the State Department last week (http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article11431.shtml). Many other cases are documented here: http://theonlydemocracy.org/ for details.