David Yerushalmi and (in)SANE - updated 6/20/2012

David Yerushalmi and (in)SANE

by Sheila Musaji

A recent article about David Yerushalmi called him a “white supremacist”.  The idea of a Jewish white supremicist is something I had trouble seeing as a possibility since I couldn’t imagine many white supremacist groups that include Jewish members.  However, just as I was mentally wrestling with this concept, I saw an article by Richard Silverstein David Yerushalmi, Jew as White Supremacist in which he notes that he also had trouble with the concept initially, but after some investigation discovered that indeed it appeared to be true in this case.

Yerushalmi has featured in so many TAM articles about Islamophobia that is has now become obvious that he deserves a page of his own.  He is featured in TAM articles on Pamela GellerSharia and Halakha (which includes information on all of the current anti-Sharia bills in states across the U.S.)  -  Jewish anti-Muslim statements  - Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy Sharia Report, The anti-Muslim Congressional Mafia (objections to Muslim staffers and interns on Capitol Hill) etc.

Yerushalmi is Pamela Geller’s personal attorney and has represented her group SIOA (Stop the Islamization of America).  Yerushalmi incorporated American Freedom Defense Initiative which is the non-profit under which she and Robert Spencer produce their blogs.  He is also the legal counsel for Frank Gaffney’s anti-Muslim Center for Security Policy and served in the same role for Stop the Madrassa, the group which got Debbie Almontaser fired as principal of the Khalil Gibran Academy. **  He is associated with several organizations including the American Public Policy Alliance.

Yerushalmi’s name comes up whenever anti-Sharia or “creeping Sharia” is the subject.  The most recent anti-Sharia bill in Tennessee was actually drafted by Yerushalmi:  “The Tennessee bill goes further by proposing criminal penalties for following Shariah. Matheny said the bill was model legislation, given to him by the Tennessee Eagle Forum, a conservative advocacy group.  Bobbie Patray, state president of the Eagle Forum, confirmed that the law had been drafted by David Yerushalmi, a Chandler, Ariz.-based attorney. Yerushalmi runs the Society of Americans for National Existence, a nonprofit that says following Shariah is treasonous.  He also has close ties to Frank Gaffney, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Security Policy.”  Bob Smietana

Yerushalmi published American Laws for American Courts (the basis for the many anti-Sharia bills across the country) which was published and promoted by the American Public Policy Alliance (APPA).  A page on the APPA site lists supporters of American Laws for American Courts.  Here is that list, and many individuals on the list have backgrounders in our TAM Who’s Who of the Islamophobia/Arabophobia Industry:

Opinion Leaders for American Laws for American Courts:  R. James Woolsey – Former Director, Central Intelligence Agency, William G. “Jerry” Boykin – Lt.Gen. (Ret.) US Army, former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence,
Harry E. Soyster, Lt.Gen. (Ret.) US Army – former Director Defense Intelligence Agency, Henry F. Cooper – Former Ambassador and Chief US Negotiator at Geneva Defense and Space Talks with the Soviet Union, Admiral James A. “Ace” Lyons, US Navy (Ret.) – former Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, Phyllis Schlafly – Founder, Eagle Forum, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. – former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy (Acting), President and Founder, Center for Security Policy,
Joseph E. Schmitz, Esq. – former Inspector General, Department of Defense, Andrew C. McCarthy, Esq. – former Chief Assistant U.S. Attorney; Senior Fellow, National Review Institute; Contributing Editor, National Review, Stephen C. Coughlin, Esq. – Major (Res.) USA, former Senior Consultant, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Michael J. Del Rosso – Senior Fellow, The Claremont Institute and Center for Security Policy, Daniel Pipes – Founder and Director, Middle East Forum, Brigitte Gabriel – Founder, ACT! for America, American Congress for Truth, Faith J. H. McDonnell – The Institute on Religion and Democracy , Sarah Stern- Endowment for Middle East Truth, Andrea and James Lafferty – Traditional Values Coalition, Richard Thompson, Esq. – President, Thomas More Law Center, David Yerushalmi, Esq. – Counsel for American Public Policy Alliance and Center for Security Policy, Richard Gilman – Americans for a Safe Israel, Rabbi Aryeh Spero – Caucus for America, Pastor Randy Simmons – Oak Initiative-Texas, Pastor Paul Blair – Reclaiming America for Christ, Carol Taber – Family Security Group, Diana West – Columnist and Author, The Death of the Grown-Up, Bill Warner – Director, Center for the Study of Political Islam, Tom Trento – Director, United West, Clare Lopez – Retired CIA Officer, Andrew Bostom, MD – Author, The Legacy of Jihad and Associate Professor of Medicine at Brown University Medical School, J. Michael Waller – Walter and Leonore Annenberg Professor of International Communication, Institute of World Politics, John Guandolo – Former Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Stuart Kaufman – Alliance for Interfaith Resistance, Kelly Cook – ACT! for America, William A. Mayer – Editor & Publisher PipeLineNews.org, Elizabeth Allweiss – United Nations for Animals, David Reaboi – Vice President, Center for Security Policy, Christine Brim – Chief Operating Officer, Center for Security Policy, Christopher Holton – Vice President, Center for Security Policy.  Lawyers for American Laws for American Courts:  Stephen Coughlin, Esq. – Former Adviser to Joint Chiefs of Staff, Rep. Christian Coomer – Georgia House of Representatives, Karen Lugo, Esq. – California, William Connor, Esq. – Former Senior Military Adviser, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, Michelle Ghetti – Louisiana Outside Counsel for Health and Ethics Endowed Professor of Law, Southern University Law Center, Stephen Gele – Smith Fawer, New Orleans, Louisiana, Nicholas Nahorski, Esq. – Michigan, Gerald Roden, Esq. – Florida, Brian Treacy, Esq. – South Carolina, Gayle Camp, Esq. – Georgia, Sandra Gilbert, Esq. – Minnesota


Yerushalmi published a racist article that he must now be ashamed of, as Alex Kane points out “Yerushalmi has deleted as much evidence of the “On Race” article as he could; he removed it from the Internet Archive and the Google cache, and put his entire website behind a registration wall. But here’s a PDF that contains the full article, and it’s as ugly and twisted a piece of racism as anything I’ve ever seen. Yerushalmi opens by calling Islam “an evil religion,” and “blacks … the most murderous of peoples.”  

The McAdam Report also has a PDF of issue number 585 (May 12, 2006) of their report, pages 7 to 11 of which contain the full text of Yerushalmi’s article “On Race”. 

Yerushalmi is the former employer of Dave Gaubatz, his one-time “Director of Intelligence and Counter-terrorism Studies” and author of a Muslim-bashing book. In 2007, Yerushalmi’s group paid Gaubatz $148,898 for “research.”    Gaubatz has a long history of bigotry targeting Islam and Muslims. He has called Islam an “evil ideology” and a “terminal disease.” Along with his past rhetorical attacks Islam, Gaubatz has called President Obama a “crack head” and wrote that “a vote for Hussein Obama is a vote for Sharia Law.” Nihad Awad

A key leader of the group opposing a new, Arab-focused public school in Brooklyn is a virulent opponent of a democratic Jewish state who denounces “Zionist Israel” and calls on it to “cast off the yoke of liberal democracy.”    Stop the Madrassa leader David Yerushalmi also condemns democracy in the United States and, in comments that evoke classical anti-Semitic stereotypes, says he finds truth in the view that Jews “destroy their host nations like a fatal parasite.”  ...  In a message to a pro-Israel rally last June he asked: “What interest does America have in a strong Israel? If your answer is democracy in a liberal or western sense, know you have sided with the Palestinians of Hamas.”  Jewish Week

Yerushalmi represented SIOA (Stop the Islamization of America) in bus ad lawsuit.  Pamela Geller founded AFDI (American Freedom Defense Initiative) with attorney David Yerushalmi **.  AFDI is the parent organization of SIOA (Stop the Islamization of America) which has been named a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

A lengthy ADL backgrounder on Yerushalmi, filed under extremism includes the following

One of the driving forces behind Shari’a-related conspiracy theories and growing efforts to ban or restrict the use of Shari’a law in American courts is David Yerushalmi, an Arizona attorney with a record of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black bigotry.

In recent years, Yerushalmi has created a characterization of Shari’a law (i.e., Islamic law) that declares there are “hundreds of millions” of Muslims who are either “fully committed mujahideen” or “still dangerous but lesser committed jihad sympathizers” who, because of Shari’a law, would be willing to murder all non-believers unwilling to convert, in order to “impose a worldwide political hegemony.”  Meanwhile, Yerushalmi asserts, the U.S. government itself has consciously chosen to turn a blind eye to this threat.

To combat this alleged threat, Yerushalmi has vigorously opposed all perceived “inroads” of Shari’a law in the United States, even entirely innocuous measures such as American financial institutions creating financing packages designed to be compatible with Islamic restrictions against loaning money at interest.

...  Yerushalmi has not only actively promoted his conspiratorial vision of Shari’a law, but has also sought to portray all Muslims as a threat. In one March 2006 article, for example, Yerushalmi even went so far as to claim that “Muslim civilization is at war with Judeo-Christian civilization…The Muslim peoples, those committed to Islam as we know it today, are our enemies.”

That same year, Yerushalmi founded the Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE), a “think tank” that has published anti-Muslim, anti-immigration and anti-black materials, as well as New World Order-style conspiracy theories. In 2007, SANE, declaring itself “dedicated to the rejection of democracy and party rule and a return to a constitutional republic [of the original founders of the US],” launched a campaign fueled by suspicion of all Muslims.

That campaign, “Mapping Shari’a in America: Knowing the Enemy,” sought to determine exactly what type of Shari’a every single mosque and Muslim religious institution in the U.S. was advocating. A June 2007 press release announcing the campaign indicated that SANE would work to “test the proposition that Shari’a amounts to a criminal conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. government” by investigating and ranking the adherence to Islamic law of mosques and their associated day-schools throughout the U.S. The statement also promised to “advocate for the criminalization of Shari’a” if it felt its targeted investigation into mosques and Islamic day schools proved such a measure necessary. 

SANE also proposed legislation that furthering or supporting adherence to Shari’a “shall be a felony punishable by 20 years in prison.” It called on Congress to declare war on the “Muslim nation,” which it defined as “Shari’a-adherent Muslims,” and further asked Congress to define Muslim illegal immigrants as alien enemies “subject to immediate deportation.”

The SANE press release for the Mapping Shari’a in America project included this statement “Shari’a is not merely speech, and it is certainly not religion as understood by the West,” SANE’s President, David Yerushalmi, said at a morning press conference. “Rather, it is a political and ideological mandate to destroy the West. We believe that every act to teach, preach, and live according to traditional, historical, and authoritative Shari’a contributes to a criminal conspiracy to overthrow our government.”

Loonwatch published an article discussing Robert Spencer’s “documentation” for his claim that 80-85% of American mosques are radicalized, and in that article noted

Spencer’s last piece of evidence to back up his bogus claim comes from the Mapping Sharia Project led by the loony racist anti-Muslim lawyer David Yerushalmi, David Gaubatz and conspiracy theorist Frank Gaffney. The only thing I could find on this “study” was a Jihad Watch link reporting the findings of the Mapping Sharia Project. The Jihad Watch article reports that “An undercover survey of more than 100 mosques and Islamic schools in America has exposed widespread radicalism, including the alarming finding that 3 in 4 Islamic centers are hotbeds of anti-Western extremism…”

Spencer relying on “undercover survey’s” by radical Islamophobes with pseudo-racist beliefs? Just par for the course.

Firstly, there is no web page allowing us access to examine the methodology employed by this study. When I went to the link to the Mapping Sharia Project, I was taken to the web site for David Yerushalmi’s organization, SANE (Society for American National Existence). To gain access, I had to become a member. I did not want to join this loony web site’s membership list, as I am spammed enough as it is. So Spencer’s third study does not even exist, at least out in the public. Even the link he places for the Mapping Sharia Project just takes you to another JihadWatch web page reporting the findings of the study. Guess we’ll just have to take Yerushalmi, Gaubatz, Gaffney and Spencer’s word for it that 80%… err, three out of four American mosques are radicalized.

Update:  see Robert Spencer Wrong about claim that 80% of American Mosques are radicalized for a full response to this claim.

In 2008 Rep. Paul C. Broun (R-GA) held a congressional briefing on Islamic finance that featured a presentation by Yerushalmi.  ***


YERUSHALMI QUOTES

The mythical ‘moderate’ Muslim ... the Muslim who embraces traditional Islam but wants a peaceful coexistence with the West, is effectively non-existent ... because he chooses to remain within traditional Shari’a-based Islam, where the Ulamā or Islamic legal scholars, and the Muftoon (singular: Mufti) who issue fatawa (singular: fatwa) or legal edicts, reign supreme together with the lesser mullahs, imams, and maulvis. A ‘moderate’ among these men will simply be shouted down, coerced into silence, or murdered. In contrast, the Muslim Reformer takes the proper position that Islam as it was created, as it has existed for 1,300 years, and as it exists now, is an evil political ideology the goal of which is a worldwide Islamic Caliphate.”  ***

“On the so-called Global War on Terrorism, GWOT, we have been quite clear along with a few other resolute souls. This should be a WAR AGAINST ISLAM and all Muslim faithful…At a practical level, this means that Shari’a and Islamic law are immediately outlawed. Any Moslem in America who adopts historical and traditional Shari’a will be subject to deportation. Mosques which adhere to Islamic law will be shut down permanently. No self-described or practicing Muslim, irrespective of his or her declarations to the contrary, will be allowed to immigrate to this country…”  **

“Islam was born in violence; it will die that way. Any wish to the contrary is sheer Pollyannaism. The same way the post World War II German youth were taught by their German teachers and political leaders to despise the fascism of their fathers, with strict laws extant still today restricting even speech that casts doubt on the Holocaust, so too must the Muslim youth be taught from the cradle to reject the religion of their forebears.” **

“Muslim civilization is at war with Judeo-Christian civilization…The Muslim peoples, those committed to Islam as we know it today, are our enemies.”  **

While our constitutional republic was specifically designed to insulate our national leaders from the masses, democracy has seeped up through the cracks and corroded everything we once deemed sacred about our political order. Prior to the Civil War, the electorate, essentially white Christian men, had access to local government. It was here, where men shared an intimacy born of family ties, shared religious beliefs, and common cultural signposts, that representative government was meant to touch our daily lives. With the social and cultural revolution which followed the emancipation, man’s relationship to political order was radically nationalized and democratized. Today, there is simply no basis to resist “democracy” and the “open society”. **

“Instead of a promise of victory, Sura 24:52 must be made ashes in the mouths of Muslims. A seemingly unending air control campaign over enemy territory is the way to continually remind the Muslims of their subordinate status and the impotence of Allah without becoming mired in the quagmire of counterinsurgency.” **

“The mythical ‘moderate’ Muslim ... the Muslim who embraces traditional Islam but wants a peaceful coexistence with the West, is effectively non-existent ... because he chooses to remain within traditional Shari’a-based Islam, where the Ulamā or Islamic legal scholars, and the Muftoon (singular: Mufti) who issue fatawa (singular: fatwa) or legal edicts, reign supreme together with the lesser mullahs, imams, and maulvis. A ‘moderate’ among these men will simply be shouted down, coerced into silence, or murdered. In contrast, the Muslim Reformer takes the proper position that Islam as it was created, as it has existed for 1,300 years, and as it exists now, is an evil political ideology the goal of which is a worldwide Islamic Caliphate.” **

“America was the handiwork of faithful Christians, mostly men, and almost entirely white, who ventured from Europe to create a nation in their image of a country existing as free men under G-d.”  Other articles on his website made racist statements such as: “There is a reason the founding fathers did not give women or black slaves the right to vote,” and “Race matters and affects your intelligence. Jews are the smartest white people around. Orientals smarter than Whites. Latinos next. Then Blacks.” **

Yerushalmi said “The more carefully reviewed evidence, however, suggests that because jihadism is in fact traditional Islam modernized to war against the ideological threat posed by the West against Islam proper, there is no way to keep faithful Muslims out of the war. If this is true, any Muslim who sticks his neck out of the mosque to yell some obscenity at the West should be considered an enemy combatant and killed or captured and held for the duration of the war. If you kill enough of them consistently enough, those disinclined to fight in the first place will find a way to reform their religion.”

Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE)

SANE (Society of Americans for National Existence)  released a policy paper that in part stated: WHEREAS Islam requires all Muslims to actively and passively support the replacement of America’s constitutional republic with a political system based upon Shari’a.    Whereas, adherence to Islam as a Muslim is prima facie evidence of an act in support of the overthrow of the US Government through the abrogation, destruction, or violation of the US Constitution and the imposition of Shari’a on the American People.    HEREFORE, IT IS RESOLVED THAT: It shall be a felony punishable by 20 years in prison to knowingly act in furtherance of, or to support the, adherence to Shari’a.    The Congress of the United States of America shall declare the US at war with the Muslim Nation.   **

The SANE website is no longer open to anyone except members.  That means that original documents are not available and can only be referenced through articles about them, or if someone has done a screen capture.

Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE) was involved with Dave Gaubatz in the Mapping Shari’a in America Project which was sponsored by the Center for Security Policy.

In our extensive collection of information documenting the anti-Sharia movement titled Islamic Sharia and Jewish Halakha Arbitration Courts there is a great deal of information about UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES of this anti-Sharia craze for other communities, including the Jewish and Catholic communities, as well as businesses involved in International trade.


UPDATE 3/6/2011

Richard Silverstein has just posted an article David Yerushalmi threatens defamation lawsuit which outlines the history of this threatened lawsuit against Silverstein.  The post includes a copy of the letter from Yerushalmi’s law firm.  Silverstein said that he had “debated how to address this threat and of course I’ve engaged pro bono legal case in the event he follows through on it.  But I will not be cowed by a bully.  I stand by the posts I’ve written by him.  I will not remove them.  I will gladly meet him in court or anywhere in defense of both my right to speak and publish, and the truth of the statements I’ve written about him.”  The post ends with this statement NOTE: Yerushalmi has withdrawn his lawsuit threat in a note he sent to my counsel.  Update 4/7: Richard Bartholomew reports that the threatened libel lawsuit has been withdrawn by Yerushalmi. 


UPDATE 6/13/2011

I have just published Mapping Sharia Project Goes Beyond Islamophobia to Raving, Paranoid, In(SANE)ity! about the release of SANE’s newest report Shari’a and Violence in American Mosques by Mordechai Kedar and David Yerushalmi.  An article about the release of the report makes a personal attack on me which I refute in my article.  My article discusses the claims made in the report itself and analyzes the “significance” of using such things as straight prayer lines, and wearing a watch on the right hand as markers for extremism.

Someone could write an entire article on the ridiculousness of the “watch on the right hand” issue alone.  And, the straight prayer lines as an indicator of anything other than keeping people from bumping into each other requires an article or a humorous YouTube video to show just how nonsensical this is.  There are so many problems with this report that it is difficult to believe that it is meant to be taken seriously.  It seems more like a satirical article that would be published on “The Onion”.  This report belongs in the category of lunatic ravings rather than of serious research, and deserves to be ridiculed along with Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy Shariah in American Courts and Sharia: a Threat to America reports.

Robert Steinback at the Southern Poverty Law Center also published a review of this report on the SPLC “Hatewatch” section.  The title of this review is ‘Study’ of Mosques Reflects Anti-Muslim Bias of Co-Author


UPDATE 7/31/2011

Andrea Elliott has just posted an article The Man Behind the Anti-Shariah Movement which consolidates a great deal of information on the background on Yerushalmi and the development of his anti-Sharia movement.

And, TAM has posted an article Islamophobia Manifesto Clearly Lays Out Plot Against Muslims which discusses just how organized such a campaign seems to be.


UPDATE 8/11-12/2011

Abraham Foxman of the ADL has just released an important statement on this anti-Sharia craze.  It says:

The threat of the infiltration of Sharia, or Islamic law, into the American court system is one of the more pernicious conspiracy theories to gain traction in our country in recent years. The notion that Islam is insidiously making inroads in the United States through the application of religious law is seeping into the mainstream, with even some presidential candidates voicing fears about the supposed threat of Sharia to our way of life and as many as 13 states considering or having already passed bills that would prohibit the application of Sharia law.

Louisiana and Tennessee were among the first to approve such measures. The bills were based on model legislation issued by the American Public Policy Alliance, an unabashedly anti-Muslim advocacy group that defends the legislation as seeking to “protect American citizens’ constitutional rights against the infiltration and incursion of foreign laws and foreign legal doctrines, especially Islamic Sharia Law.”

When the legislation was introduced in the Tennessee state Senate in early 2010, the bill defined Sharia as a “legal political military doctrine and system adhered to, or minimally advocated by, tens of millions of not hundreds of millions of its followers around the world.” In defense of the bill, state Sen. Bill Ketron said it “deals solely with a single part of Sharia that is strictly political in nature,” and “in no way inserts itself into the religious laws of Islam.”

The language was nearly identical to that of similar bills considered in other states, some of which were thinly disguised in terms of protecting against “the application of foreign law.”

All of this anti-Sharia activity has come despite the complete absence of evidence of the unconstitutional application of foreign or religious law in our judicial system. It has also come with a great deal of political handwringing—and myth making—about the threat of Sharia overtaking this country. This has led, in turn, to a false perception among a growing number of Americans that Sharia is a very real threat to our way of life and constitutional freedoms.

In fact, these legislative efforts are the proverbial solution in search of a problem. The separation of church and state embodied in U.S. and state constitutions prohibits our courts from applying or considering religious law in any way that would constitute government advancement of or entanglement with religious law.

But the anti-Sharia bills are more than a matter of unnecessary public policy. These measures are, at their core, predicated on prejudice and ignorance. They constitute a form of camouflaged bigotry that enables their proponents to advance an idea that finds fault with the Muslim faith and paints all Muslim Americans as foreigners and anti-American crusaders.

It is true that Sharia is being used elsewhere around the world in dangerous ways. While Sharia law can address many daily public and private concerns, it is nonetheless subject to radical interpretation by individuals or groups who subscribe to a more puritanical form of Islamic jurisprudence. Some individuals try to interpret Sharia law for their own radical agendas. It raises more serious concerns when it comes to implementing Sharia law in its entirety, as can be seen with the examples of Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Taliban. But that certainly doesn’t apply to America, where concerns about a “creeping Sharia law” are the stuff of pure paranoia.

If the hysteria over Sharia law continues to percolate through our political and social discourse, there is bound to be unintended consequences.

As we approach the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, in an uncertain economy with millions of Americans still out of work, we also face the prospect of a political season in which more political candidates may be tempted to invoke this mythological threat in an effort to pander to bigotry and fear, and to score political points.

We stand at a crossroads in American society. We have the option of heading down a path toward a greater tolerance of anti-Muslim xenophobia and fear of the “stranger in our midst,” or we can rededicate ourselves to the ideal of an America that is open and welcoming to immigrants as well as minority groups who have been here for decades. Let us hope that the better nature of America will enable us to proceed down the second path and reject those who seek to divide us for political gain, or those who wish to stereotype and scapegoat an entire people because of their religious faith.

We should never diminish the very real threat of terrorism motivated by Islamist fundamentalism coming again to our shores. But as responsible, free-thinking Americans we must be careful to distinguish between the true threats to our freedoms, and identifying their sources, and those who loudly declaim against phantom threats that don’t really exist.

Yerushalmi posted a defense of his position which , like the “defenses” of his fellow Islamophobes is sound and fury signifying nothing.  Yerushalmi actually claimed “I have never written anything that calls for discrimination against…Muslims qua Muslims.”

All you need to do is read many of the statements above to decide for yourself the veracity of that statement.  Matt Duss wrote about Yerushalmi’s defense that

I’d say that advocating a legal regime that forces Muslims to reject Islam pretty clearly qualifies as “calls for discrimination against…Muslims qua Muslims.”  ...  Maybe Yerushalmi just has his own secret, magical definition of “discrimination.”

Moriel Rothman has posted an article Threats to America: Islamic Law Taking Over! Jews Controlling the Media! in which he points to startling similarities of anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic propaganda, and concerns about where scapegoating of any religious minority might lead.  He closes with

Might some elements of Islamic Law be categorically different than, say, the elements of Jewish and Christian law that have been cited to justify violence? I am personally skeptical of such a claim, looking towards Christian persecution of other religious groups throughout history, and towards the fanatical strands of Judaism that flourish in some parts of the Jewish-controlled West Bank today.

My personal opinions notwithstanding, I do think that there are certainly appropriate settings for serious, thoughtful and critical discussion of Islamic Law.

However, when that discussion is based on the premise that Islam is an inherently criminal religion, or that all Muslims have a proclivity towards violence, then that discussion shifts from legitimate intellectual debate to hateful religious scapegoating.

Thus, when people like David Yerushalmi advocate criminalizing Islam through policy that would make “the adherence to Shari’a… punishable by 20 years in prison,” it is the responsibility of all anti-hatred Americans to oppose him, and of all American Jews to recall the disastrous consequences of anti-Semitic conspiracies and scapegoating and speak out against the fanatics in our midst.

And, now Michigan joins the the anti-Sharia craze.  Rep. Dave Agema, R-Grandville, is pushing an anti-Sharia bill for Michigan.  When he was challenged about this by other politicians in his state he said “If anybody has a problem with this that means they don’t agree with U.S. laws,” he said. “If they don’t want it passed then they have an ulterior agenda. It shows the people accusing me of that (bigotry) are guilty of it themselves.”  

UPDATE 11/26/2011

After the Center for American Progress released Fear Inc., the Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America, the Islamophobes all began responding.  See Islamophobes Attack CAP Fear Inc. Report - More Sound and Fury Signifying Nothing for a full discussion of the various “responses”. 


UPDATE 6/20/2012

It seems that Catholics are becoming aware of just how this anti-Sharia movement may impact them also.  There are many unintended consequences of such anti-Sharia legislation.  In the past week a few very interesting articles have been published.

Catholic experts criticize Shariah law bans by Brian Frega, and Fears of ‘Creeping Sharia’ by Matthew Schmitz are two of the most detailed and relevant.

Andrew C. McCarthy of National Review invited David Yerushalmi to respond to an essay by Matthew Schmitz, deputy editor of First Things attacking Yerushalmi’s anti-Shariah crusade.

Many journalists have noted that publishing Yerushalmi’s “defense” is not good for the credibility of National Review.  Here are just a few of the articles discussing this:

— National Review’s New Contributor: White Nationalist David Yerushalmi, Matt Duss **
— National Review still publishing bigoted contributors, Adam Serwer ** 
— NRO Hires Racisty Racist It Can Dig Up, For Racism, Rebecca Schoenkopf **
— Oh, look at that: National Review publishes racist nut, Alex Pareene **
— Yes, Another White Nationalist at National Review, Charles Johnson **
— Yerushalmi, National Review, and a Conservative Fight Over Shari’ah, Sarah Posner **
—Matthew Schmitz has also written at least on response to his critics, The Real Point of Anti-Sharia Laws

An excellent point was made by Scott R. Paeth

Sarah Posner has an article in today's Religion Dispatches about the debate taking place at The National Review between David Yerushalmi, an advocate of "anti-Shariah" laws, and conservatives who believe that this is bad policy for any number of reasons. The article is worth reading for a sense of the nature of this particular, very strange debate.

But I was struck by this passage in particular:

As Matt Duss notes, Yerushalmi has lamented the absence of "'a discussion of Islam as an evil religion, or of blacks as the most murderous of peoples (at least in New York City), or of illegal immigrants as deserving of no rights.' He also wrote that the American founders were on to something when they limited the vote to white men. 'There is a reason the founding fathers did not give women or black slaves the right to vote.'" (emphasis added) Yet Yerushalmi brought his fear-mongering about shari'ah to Capitol Hill staffers in 2010,claiming it threatened the Constitution. 

Once upon a time, I thought that there was intellectual integrity to being willing to debate all comers, to take on in rational discourse anyone who was interested in the discussion. The amount of time wasted in my mid-20s to the kind of internet flame wars that used to set AOL ablaze once upon a time causes me to blush to this day (and truth be told, I am still horribly susceptible to being drawn into those kinds of fights).

But over time, I've begun to realize that not everyone or every idea is worthy of such engagement. Trying to "debate" the Westborough Baptist Church on homosexuality is pointless. Trying to debate the Ku Klux Klan on race is fruitless. At the end of the day, some opponents just aren't worthy of debate.

Which raises the question to me: Why does someone who subscribes to views as vile as Yerushalmi's deserve a forum in a widely respected conservative journal to peddle garbage? It's not that I have any particular brief on behalf of The National Review, but the fact that a bigot of Yerushalmi's stature isn't driven from the realm of rational discourse and given a soap box to occupy in Central Park is evidence of the moral bankruptcy of much of what passes for conservative discourse today.

There were many things to dislike intensely about William F. Buckley, but one thing he did right was to drive the John Birch conspiracists out of the conservative movement in the 1950s. They weren't worthy of engagement. In similar vein, bigotry of the kind endorsed by Yerushalmi, and often celebrated today on the right, even by elected officials and prominant commentators, should be driven from the discourse, so that some kind of real engagement about the issues confronting the world can take place, both within conservative circles, and between conservatives and liberals.


UPDATE 10/4/2012

David Yerushalmi was one of the speakers at the AFDI/SIOA/SIOE/SION/EDL/BF Global Alliance Event 9/11/2012 Aaron Labaree at Guernica Magazine, attended and reported on the Conference.  He provides “A few choice words by Dr. Babu Suseelan, a Hindu activist in Pennsylvania who sits on the SION board“If we do not kill the bacteria,” the jowly Suseelan scolded the audience, “the bacteria will kill us.” Otherwise, he warned, “Muslims will breed like rats and they will be a majority.” Still, he concluded hopefully, “Islam can be stopped! And it can be wiped out.”  Spencer laughed, but Geller covered her face, as if witnessing the antics of a naughty child.  There is no way to understand this except as a call for genocide.  And, covering your face with your hands or laughing, are not appropriate responses for individuals who claim not to hate Muslims.  No one reported on Yerushalmi’s response to this hateful message. 

Alex Kane reported that

The gathering brought together speakers from anti-Muslim movements around the globe, including Tommy Robinson of the English Defense League, a violent far-right group. David Yerushalmi, the racist Orthodox Jewish lawyer who has lived in an illegal Israeli settlement, was a speaker as well. And David Storobin, the Brooklyn state senator who created some buzz after being photographed in an Israeli army uniform, spoke to Geller’s conference too.


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The claim that the Islamophobes are “truth-tellers” and “defenders of freedom” who actually “love Muslims” and have never engaged in “broadbrush demonization” or “advocated violence” are nonsense.  The claim that they are falsely being accused of Islamophobia for no reason other than their legitimate concerns about real issues and that in fact there is not even such a thing as Islamophobia, or their claim that the fact that there are fewer hate crimes against Muslims than against Jews or that some Muslims have fabricated such crimes “proves” that Islamophobia doesn’t exist,  or that the term Islamophobia was made up by Muslims in order to stifle their freedom of speech, or that anti-Muslim bigotry is “not Islamophobia but Islamorealism” are all nonsense

The Islamophobia Industry exists and is engaged in an anti-Muslim Crusade.  They have a manifesto for spreading their propaganda, and which states their goal of “destroying Islam — as a culture, a political ideology, and a religion.” They produce anti-Muslim films.  They are forming new organizations and coalitions of organizations at a dizzying speed, not only nationally, but also internationally.   They have formed an International Leadership Team “which will function as a mobile, proactive, reactive on-the-ground team developing and executing confidential action plans that strike at the heart of the global anti-freedom agenda.”

The Islamophobia of these folks is very real, it is also strikingly similar to a previous generations’ anti-Semitism, and it has predictable consequences

The reason that this is so obvious to so many is that rational people can tell the difference between legitimate concerns and bigoted stereotypes.

The Islamophobes generalize specific incidents to reflect on all Muslims or all of Islam.   They consistently push the false memes that:  - we are in danger from creeping Sharia, - the Muslim population is increasing at an alarming rate, - 80% of American Mosques are radicalized,  - Muslims in government are accused of being Muslim Brotherhood plants, stealth jihadists, and creeping Sharia proponents and should be MARGINALIZED or excluded.  Every Muslim organization is connected to the infamous Muslim Brotherhood document or the unindicted co-conspirator label.  Individual Muslims and Arabs, and their organizations are accused of not condemning Hamas, telling American Muslims not to talk to the FBI, etc. 

These individuals and organizations consistently promote the false what everyone “knows” lies about Islam and Muslims (including ]distorting the meaning of Qur’anic verses, and distorting the meaning of Islamic terms such as taqiyya, jihad, sharia, etc.).

— Everyone “knows” that most or all terrorists are Muslims, and there are no Christian and no Jewish terrorists (or terrorists of any other religious stripe), and that Muslims are all militant,  inherently violent, more likely to engage in violence against civilians, and more likely than other Americans to be radicalized.  — Everyone “knows” that Muslims are not interested in dialogue.  That Muslims don’t help Christians in need.  That Muslims can’t have Christians as friends, and are anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers, and intolerant of other faiths, and in fact hate Jews.  — Everyone “knows” that Muslims don’t unequivocally denounce terrorism, that American Muslim leaders have not responded to radicalization in their community,  that mosques are the source of radicalization, that 85% of mosques are run by radicals, that Muslims don’t cooperate with law enforcement.— Everyone “knows” that Muslims are not equivalent to real Americans, that they are the enemy within, and a fifth column,  that good Muslims can’t be good Americans, that Muslims are not loyal to America, that they are not a part of our American heritage— Everyone “knows” that Islam itself is the problem and makes Muslims “backward”, that Muslims have made no contribution to the West, that Islam is “of the devil”, a Crescent menace, a “green peril”, that was spread by the sword,  an “evil encroaching on the United States”, and not a religion.   — Everyone “knows” that this is a Christian nation, which the Muslims are trying to take over, starting with getting an Eid stamp which is the first step towards shariah law which is a threat to America, and a threat to our judicial system, by purposefully having more children than others to increase their numbers, and they will be the majority in this country in 20 years.  Muslims are a threat to America— Everyone “knows” that Muslims have no respect for the Constitution, they don’t obey the laws of the United States,  that they are opposed to freedom of speech, don’t allow and freedom of religion.   — Everyone “knows” that Muslims are given a pass by the elite media.  It’s “us versus them”.  — Everyone “knows” that the Muslims’ goal is world domination under a Caliphate, and the proposed Cordoba House in NYC is a demonstration of supremacism and triumphalism, and that Muslims planned to open it on the anniversary of 9/11.   — Everyone “knows” that Muslims don’t speak out against extremism or terrorism, and even those Muslims who do speak up or seem moderate are simply lying or practicing taqiyyah.  — Everyone “knows” that the Qur’an is uniquely violent, that the Islamic concept of God doesn’t include God’s love, and does not include the concept of a Golden Rule,  that Allah is a moon god.  — Everyone “knows” that Islam is a monolith and all Muslims are the same, like the “Borg”.  This means that every act committed by an individual who is a Muslim is directly attributable to Islam, and never because the individual is crazy, criminal, or perverted. — Everyone “knows” that Muslims don’t have a sense of humor— Everyone “knows” that Muslims are like the Fascists and Nazis and that in fact they supported those movements.  And, all of these memes that everyone “knows” ARE FALSE.

Islamophobes falsely claim to see “JIHAD” PLOTS everywhere, particularly where they don’t exist.   They, like Muslim extremists, don’t understand the true meaning of the term jihad.  The Islamophobes have uncovered countless examples of “shocking”, non-existent Muslim jihad plots.  They have uncovered:

Muslim celebration for special needs children jihad“vehicular jihad”objecting to pornographic ads jihademployment jihadlitigation jihad“environmentalist jihad”.  —— “comic book jihad”Muslim victims of 9/11 accused of dying as martyrs in an act of jihadhospital jihadMuslim Family Day jihadMuslim Prayer event jihadbumper sticker jihadThanksgiving turkey jihadpaisley scarf jihadmarriage to important men jihadspit jihad —  fashion jihadspelling bee jihadrape jihaddefacing dollar bills jihadpopulation jihadcreeping Sharia jihad —  mosque building jihadterror baby jihad“creeping Sharia” jihadpedophilia jihadbus driver prayer jihadforehead bruise jihadpostage stamp jihadsoup jihad —  banning alcohol jihadfake hate crimes jihadpiggy bank jihadtv reality series jihadhandshake jihadprom jihadinterfaith jihadArabic language jihadpublic school jihadreligious accommodation jihadCrescent moon jihadChristmas tree tax jihadoath of office jihadimmigration jihad community fundraiser jihadpublic school/madrassa jihadpost office jihadfood jihadpyramid jihadcrucifixion jihadfireworks jihadcomputer donation jihadcivic participation jihadOlympic “judo” jihadstealth name jihadpre-violent jihad

When Islamophobes are caught in the act of making up or distorting claims they engage in devious methods to attempt to conceal the evidence. 

There is a reason that many, even outside of the Muslim community see such demonization of Muslims as Islamophobic.  There is a reason that the ADL has stated that Brigitte Gabriel’s Act for America, Pamela Geller & Robert Spencer’s Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA), David Yerushalmi’s Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE)  are “groups that promote an extreme anti-Muslim agenda”.  There is a reason that The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated SIOA as a hate group, and that these individuals are featured in the SPLC reports Jihad Against Islam and The Anti-Muslim Inner Circle.  There is a reason that these individuals and organizations are featured prominently in: — the Center for American Progress reports “Fear Inc.” on the Islamophobia network in America and Understanding Sharia Law: Conservatives skewed interpretation needs debunking. — the People for the American Way Right Wing Playbook on Anti-Muslim Extremism.  — the NYCLU report Religious Freedom Under Attack:  The Rise of Anti-Mosque Activities in New York State.  — the Political Research Associates report Manufacturing the Muslim menace: Private firms, public servants, and the threat to rights and security.  — The ACLU report Nothing to Fear: Debunking the Mythical “Sharia Threat” to Our Judicial System — in The American Muslim TAM Who’s Who of the Anti-Muslim/Anti-Arab/Islamophobia Industry.   There is a reason that the SIOA’s trademark patent was denied by the U.S. government due to its anti-Muslim nature.   There is a reason that these individuals and organizations are featured in just about every legitimate report on Islamophobia and anti-Muslim hatred. 

See Resources for dealing with Islamophobes for many more reasons that these people cannot be trusted.




SEE ALSO:

ADL backgrounder on David Yerushalmi: A Driving Force Behind Anti-Sharia Efforts in the U.S.  http://www.adl.org/main_Extremism/david_yerushalmi.htm
The Anti-Shariah Movement and Jewish Law , Jacob Bender http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/the-anti-shariah-movement-and-jewish-law
Cordoba House versus Team B:  Key to the Global 21st Century,  Dr. Robert D. Crane   http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/cordoba_house_versus_team_b_key_to_the_global_21st_century/
GOP House Members Call for Investigation of Muslim Political Activity, Glenn Greenwald http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/10/15-6
How Members of Congress Are Advancing Anti-Muslim Hysteria to Push a Radical Legal Agenda, Liliana Segura http://www.alternet.org/rights/145425/how_members_of_congress_are_advancing_anti-muslim_hysteria_to_push_a_radical_legal_agenda/?page=1
Is Yerushalmi’s motive for anti-Shariah campaign his contempt for Palestinians, ‘a murderous non-People’? ‘NYT’ can’t touch it, Philip Weiss http://mondoweiss.net/2011/08/in-long-piece-on-yerushalmis-anti-shariah-campaign-nyt-cant-talk-about-his-contempt-for-a-murderous-non-people-palestinians.html
Lawmakers target Islamic Sharia law, Marc Caputo http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/03/09/2106713/lawmakers-target-sharia-law.html
Lawyer Who Promotes Anti-Sharia Laws Publishes New Study on Islamic Extremism: David Yerushalmi Is Adept At Edging His Ideas Into the Mainstream, Paul Berger http://forward.com/articles/139688/#ixzz1TgiUdYfN
Mapping Shari’a in America Project, Yes, Just a bunch of nut cases but….  http://samaha.wordpress.com/2007/06/15/mapping-sharia-in-america-project-yes-just-a-bunch-of-nut-cases-but/
Meet the White Supremacist Leading the GOP’s Anti-Sharia Crusade, Tim Murphy http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/02/david-yerushalmi-sharia-ban-tennessee
Meet the nutter behind the Sharia Report, Daniel Luban http://thefastertimes.com/diplomacy/2010/09/17/the-nutter-behind-the-michele-bachmann-sharia-report/
Neocon ‘Team B’ Author Yerushalmi: ‘Islam Was Born In Violence; It Will Die That Way’, Matt Duss http://thinkprogress.org/security/2010/09/20/176281/neocon-team-b-author-yerushalmi-islam-was-born-in-violence-it-will-die-that-way/ 
Of all the things to worry about in the world ..., Jeffrey Goldberg http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/07/of-all-the-things-to-worry-about-in-the-world/242808/
Policy Exchange, SANE and the ‘vital importance of controlling the Arabs’, Tom Griffin http://www.spinwatch.org/-articles-by-category-mainmenu-8/74-terror-spin/5193-policy-exchange-sane-and-the-vital-importance-of-controlling-the-arabs 
Propaganda, the internet and the media: from CounterJihad to the Decent Left, Tom Griffin http://www.spinwatch.org/-articles-by-category-mainmenu-8/42-media-spin/5267-propaganda-the-internet-and-the-media-from-counterjihad-to-the-decent-left
Right-Wing Media Hype Mosque Study Co-Written By Anti-Muslim Activist With History Of “Bigotry”  http://mediamatters.org/research/2011/06/08/right-wing-media-hype-mosque-study-co-written-b/180401
SANE: An Islamophobic group attempts to banish Islam from the U.S.,  Abdus Sattar Ghazali http://www.milligazette.com/dailyupdate/2007/200706182_SANE_Islamophobic_group_banish_Islam_US.htm
Sharia panic factory, Justin Elliott http://www.salon.com/news/islam/?story=/politics/war_room/2011/04/07/sharia_nebraska_act_for_america 
Shout down the Sharia myth makers, Abraham Foxman   http://www.jta.org/news/article/2011/08/10/3088943/op-ed-shout-down-the-sharia-myth-makers
SD Rep. Who Authored Abortion Bill Nixes Sharia Ban, Tim Murphy http://motherjones.com/mojo/2011/02/sd-rep-who-authored-abortion-bill-nixes-sharia-ban
Sourcewatch backgrounder on Yerushalmi http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=David_Yerushalmi
Spencer, Geller, Yerushalmi, Gaffney: Attempt to Conceal Evidence of “Truth-Telling”, Sheila Musaji http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/robert_spencer_pamela_geller_and
Spies, Lies from “Mapping Sharia” Group Hit Dar Al-Hijrah, Tariq Nelson http://muslimlinkpaper.com/mybo2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1049&Itemid=0 
States Move To Ban Islamic Sharia Law: NPR interview with Yerushalmi and Intisar Rabb http://www.npr.org/2011/03/11/134458058/States-Move-To-Ban-Islamic-Sharia-Law
Tennessee’s Anti-Muslim Bill is an American Disgrace, Daniel Tutt http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-tutt/tennessees-antimuslim-bil_b_863032.html
This Is Who They Listen To, Adam Serwer http://prospect.org/csnc/blogs/adam_serwer_archive?month=09&year=2010&base_name=this_is_who_they_listen_to 
Uncovering US Anti-Shari`ah Roots http://www.onislam.net/english/news/americas/453297-uncovering-us-anti-shariah-roots.html
Who is David Yerushalmi, CAIR http://www.cair.com/ArticleDetails.aspx?ArticleID=26408&&name=n&&currPage=1&&Active=1
Why Jews Can’t Criticize Sharia Law, Marshall Breger http://theamericanmuslim.org/tam.php/features/articles/why-jews-cant-criticize-sharia-law
David Yerushalmi, Anti-Semitic White-Supremacist Orthodox Jew Tries To Ban Islam In US, Bruce Wilson http://www.talk2action.org/story/2007/12/27/20819/823
Yerushalmi: Devout Jewish Fascist, Richard Silverstein http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2007/08/24/david-yerushalmi-devout-jewish-fascist/
David Yerushalmi, Islam-Hating White Supremacist Inspires Anti-Sharia Bills Sweeping Tea Party Nation, Richard Silverstein http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_olam/2011/03/02/david-yerushalmi-islam-hating-white-supremacist/
Yerushalmi: House Republicans pal around with anti-Muslim, anti-Black racist David Yerushalmi, Alex Kane http://mondoweiss.net/2010/09/house-republicans-pal-around-with-anti-muslim-anti-black-racist-david-yerushalmi.html
Yerushalmi:  Neocon ‘Team B’ Author: ‘Islam Was Born In Violence; It Will Die That Way’  http://wonkroom.thinkprogress.org/2010/09/20/neocon-team-b-author-yerushalmi-islam-was-born-in-violence-it-will-die-that-way
Yerushalmi: How Many Muslims Contributed To New Right-Wing ‘Team B’ Report On Islamic Sharia Law? None, Matt Duss http://thinkprogress.org/2010/09/15/team-b-sharia-report/



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