Anti-Defamation League's New Interfaith Coalition on Mosques

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 - 07:53 PM

The Anti-Defamation League caused a firestorm when it came out in opposition to the Islamic Center near Ground Zero. It claimed, with a rationale that has become common among critics, that while the developers had the right to build there, it was not right to build there. Many people in the interfaith community felt ADL had betrayed its core values.

Last week, the ADL surprised a few more people by announcing creation of an Interfaith Coalition on Mosques. From the release:

From Florida to California, ugly rhetoric has replaced civil dialogue at local government planning meetings and community debates over proposals by Muslims citizens to exercise the rights guaranteed to everyone in America. "The level of hostility, fear mongering and hate speech is unacceptable and un-American," the coalition stated. 

Working under the sponsorship of the Anti-Defamation League, which initiated the concept, ICOM will carefully monitor incidents of mosque discrimination around the country, gather facts and analyze the information, and speak out when appropriate to help Muslim communities who are encountering prejudice. "We will not take political sides. We will not make decisions based on ideology," the coalition said in its statement.

Eboo Patel, a Muslim activist and prominent supporter of the project, wrote in HuffPo about being courted by ADL's Abe Foxman, before signing on to the new coalition:

So when I got a phone call from Abe Foxman inviting me to join a new committee that the ADL has put together to fight protests against mosques in America, I could barely suppress the urge to say "take a hike." But, in the Ramadan spirit of patience and forbearance, I decided to have a conversation instead of hang up the phone.

I told him I disagreed with his position on Cordoba House, and then I asked him a few questions. "I see the anti-mosque protests as a symptom of a far larger issue, the problem of an increasingly mainstream anti-Muslim bigotry. Are you willing to talk about that?"

He was.

"This anti-Muslim bigotry didn't drop from the sky; it's been manufactured and advanced by what I call the industry of Islamophobia. Will you call them out?"

He would.

"The ADL has significant political capital, a century-long history of fighting bias and a staff of 350 people all over the country. Will fighting anti-Muslim bigotry become a real priority for your institution?"

He said yes.

In fact, he'd already started.


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Comments [1]

PilgrimSoul from California

I don't trust Foxman. He's power-hungry, and he demonizes as anti-Semitic anybody who criticizes Israel, no matter how sincere and constructive the criticism. And he stands behind AIPAC, which has virtually taken the legislative branch of government hostage, and will attack any Representative or Senator that articulates American interests in the Middle East when they diverge or oppose Israel's perceived interests.

So there's a problem. But Muslims all over the country are facing real problems with initiating even the most modest kind of prayer room or house of I think we must try to work with the ADL on this issue.

On the other hand, can the people in this coalition criticize Israel when they feel it is in America's interest to do so, or when their conscience tells them to? Or will the ADL then turn on them? If you criticize Israel, you're likely to end up on the ADL's daily 'backgrounders' characterized as a terrorist, anti-Semite or self-hating Jew.

Furthermore, will the ADL take a little leadership from Muslim organizations? Not likely. They've demonized CAIR as a "terror organization" because it stands up for Palestinian human rights. For the ADL, demonizing Muslim organizations is more important than working with them or taking leadership for the organizations that Muslims have themselves developed.

Those are the main two issues here.

In the meantime, let's work with the ADL, and its National Director of Civil Rights, and see if we can make the case for religious liberty. America needs that case to be made with strong, unequivocal voices. If the ADL puts the increasingly erratic government of Israel before religious liberty, so be it. But let's at least give working with the ADL a chance.

If necessary, the coalition, or a coalition like it, can go on without the ADL. In the meantime, the ADL's money and power will be an asset.

Nov. 13 2010 04:00 AM

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