The Lobby: No Mosques Allowed in America
A recent joint poll by Americans for Peace Now and the Arab American Institute [pdf] shows remarkable convergence in the views of a weighted sample of Jewish Americans and Arab Americans on Arab-Israeli peace. In contrast to the mainstream American Jewish community, which has fought tirelessly for justice and tolerance in the US, a small group of fanatics has made a different impression.
Karin Friedman details a conspiracy by rightwing Zionist groups in Boston to prevent the city’s Muslims from worshipping freely at their own mosque. This article is especially good on the “David Project,” among the ideologically more dangerous hate groups in the US. Friedman writes,
‘ Many celebrated the construction of New England’s largest mosque as proof of “the Muslim community coming into its own.” Yet not everyone celebrated. In 2004, the City of Boston was sued for selling the land to Muslims. Racist commentators whipped up public hysteria against the mosque.
“Muslims are very upset,” said Mushtaque Mirza, who has lived in Boston for 30 years. “The mosque is always depicted as [supporting] terrorism.” . . .
When in 2005, mosque directors Dr. Yousef Abou Allaban and Ossama Kandil sued Fox News and the Boston Herald for defamation, analysis of discovery materials exposed a professionally coordinated network of pro-Israel organizations, mass media, Islamophobic academics, and real estate developers. The directors accused a growing list of defendants, including Steven Emerson, the David Project, and Citizens for Peace and Tolerance (CPT), whose president is Dennis Hale, of “a concerted, well-coordinated effort to deprive … members of the Boston Muslim community of their basic right of free association and the free exercise of their religion.”
Islamophobia or Anti-Muslimism may be the biggest moral challenge to American values of tolerance and respect for the rights of all in the 21st century. And, insofar as American Muslims tend to be endogamous (practice in-marriage), they over time increasingly will form an ethnic group, so that hatred of them is not just religious bigotry but also racism (i.e., when acted upon, illegal in US law.)
I have said it before, and I will say it again. People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Members of the American Jewish community who think it is entertaining to spread hatred against another minority will eventually discover that the habits of hatred are hard to uproot and know no ethnic boundaries.