The Main Purveyors of Islamophobia
The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011 are often cited as the roots of “Islamophobia” in the United States. However, attributing Americans’ Islamophobia solely to the events of 9/11 ignores the anti-Muslim propaganda that predated the attacks, and that continues today.
The roots of Islamophobia in America can be traced to a small, well-funded and well-connected network of “misinformation experts” who use Islamophobia as a tool to promote the Israeli agenda here within the United States.
According to a research study conducted by the Center for American Progress entitled Fear, Inc., there are five key purveyors who manipulate Islamophobia to further the US’s support of Israel: Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, David Yerushalmi of the Society of Americans for National Existence, Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum, Robert Spencer of both Jihad Watch and Stop Islamization of America and Steven Emerson of the Investigative Project on Terrorism. American billionaire Sheldon Gary Adelson, terrorism “expert” Evan Kohlmann, journalist Jennifer Rubin, and Emergency Committee for Israel’s founding member, Rachel Abrams additionally contribute to this network.
Arguably one of the most well known Islamophobes, Steven Emerson has proven to be highly influential as well. The goals of Steven Emerson’s organization, the Investigative Project on Terrorism, are to investigate, analyze and expose Muslim infiltration in the United States. The organization claims to be “one of the world’s largest storehouses of archival data and intelligence on Islamic and Middle Eastern terrorist groups.” Prior to founding the Investigative Project on Terrorism in 1995, Emerson worked for the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but he left Capitol Hill in 1986 to further his career as a journalist. He worked for the US News and World Report, until taking a job as an investigative correspondent for CNN in 1990. The position was short-lived, and Emerson left CNN in 1994 and produced a documentary film entitled, “Jihad in America,” which he claims in his biography “exposed clandestine operations of militant Islamic terrorist groups on American soil.” The Nation, however, referred to this documentary as generating “mass hysteria against American Arabs,” and furthering sentiments of Islamophobia, which are bigoted, radical and dangerous.
This is not the first time, nor the last, that Emerson’s priorities and motives have been questioned. An article published by FAIR, an organization dedicated to promoting fairness and accuracy in reporting, raises the alarming question, “why is a journalist pushing questionable stories from behind the scenes?” The article questioned Emerson’s unusual involvement in a story claiming that “a senior Pakistani weapons scientist” was behind a “thermonuclear war” supposedly on the brink of occurring between Pakistan and India. The story claimed to have uncovered that Pakistan was “planning nuclear first strike on India.” Emerson worked behind the scenes to give his congressional and media contacts a heads-up on the story, and worked closely with the attorney on the case, who said that Emerson was helpful in “corroborating information and making scientific clarifications.” The nature of his “scientific clarifications” is not specified, and one might wonder what Emerson, who received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University in 1976 and a Master of Arts in sociology from Brown in 1977, would have to contribute in this regard. It was later uncovered that the alleged senior Pakistani weapons scientist, a man by the name of Iftikhar Chaudhry Khan, was in fact an accountant at a company that makes bathroom fixtures. At first, it seems unclear why a seasoned journalist such as Emerson would forward this unverified and largely speculative story to his contacts in Congress and the media, at the risk of pushing the world toward nuclear war, as FAIR’s article aptly points out. The article suggests that Emerson’s priorities may have gotten in the way of his professionalism and better judgment, in particular the fact that Pakistan is a Muslim-nation, and India’s nuclear program has allegedly been tied to Israel.
Although Emerson’s reputation was hurt by this incident, he was back in the news following the bombings on the US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya. As he returned to the political mainstream, he again injured his credibility as a journalist in multiple instances. His book Terrorist was criticized by the New York Times for being “marred” by factual errors and having an undeniable anti-Palestinian bias. Additionally, the Columbia Journalism Review discovered that entire passages of his book The Fall of Pan Am 103 bore “a striking resemblance in both structure and style” to articles published in a newspaper distributed out of Syracuse, N.Y. Emerson’s credibility was even further diminished by his confident assertion that the Oklahoma city bombing of 1995 was undoubtedly the work of an Arab, as it had “an Arab trait,” which he further defined as intending to kill as many people as possible. His willingness to jump to this conclusion and to promote this accusation proved ignorant and bigoted when his assessment turned out to be entirely wrong. Somehow, the American media continues to sanction Emerson. For one Associated Press reporter, the aforementioned errors were not enough to discredit Emerson as a journalist and a terrorism expert. He was asked to partake in a series on Muslim-Americans as a consultant and a resource. He provided the AP with what he claimed were FBI documents that have later been proven to be modified versions of his earlier writings, and one must wonder if the Associated Press’s faith in Emerson has finally been shaken.
Emerson hosts pro-torture Israelis in his home
Emerson’s anti-Arab sentiments are only one side of the coin; he also harbors close ties to Israel. The Jerusalem Post noted that Emerson has strong friendships with Israeli intelligence officials. Emerson has, on multiple occasions, personally hosted Israeli intelligence commander and supporter of torture, Yigal Carmon, in his Washington, D.C. apartment. Carmon has taken multiple trips to the US to lobby congress to continue to support pro-Israel policies. As if these connections are not enough to cause one to question Emerson’s bias and motivation, Emerson’s funding comes from organizations that Fear, Inc. have listed as top funders for the purveyors of Islamophobia, including the Donors Capital Fund, which has given Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism $400,000, and nearly $2.5 million to Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum. He has also received $100,000 from the Russell Berrie Foundation, which has also donated almost $300,000 to Pipes’ Middle East Forum. Additionally, Emerson’s organization has received funding from the Anchorage Charitable Foundation and William Rosenwald Family Fund, which has also donated to Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy, and over $2 million dollars in funds to Pipes’ Middle East Forum. Furthermore, Emerson’s Investigative Project on terrorism gave $3.3 million dollars to an organization called SAE Productions, to study the relationship between American-Muslims and terrorism. SAE Productions has one employee: Steven A. Emerson.
The financial connections between Emerson and other Islamophobia transmitters illuminate what the Center for American Progress aptly refers to as “a small, tightly networked group of misinformation experts guiding an effort that reaches millions of Americans through effective advocates, media partners, and grassroots organizing.” Sound dangerous? Since 9/11, Emerson has been called to testify before and to brief Congress “dozens” of times “on terrorist financing and operational networks of Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and the rest of the world-wide Islamic militant spectrum.” Let us allow Emerson’s track record to speak to his credibility and whether or not he is the best person to trust with framing our relationship with Muslims in America and in the Middle East.
Robert Spencer, Emerson’s contemporary and fellow Islamophobe, is another name associated with the deliberate spreading of Islamophobia in the United States. Spencer has a Masters in Religious Studies from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is the founder and director of Jihad Watch, an organization that claims to “track the attempts of radical Islam to subvert Western Culture.” Spencer is also the author of ten books, including two New York Times best sellers, entitled The Truth about Muhammad and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam. His next book, Did Muhammad Exist, is due for publication in spring, 2012. Spencer has been afforded the opportunity to lead seminars on Islam and jihad for the United States Central Command, the United Stated Army Command and General Staff College, the US Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group, and the Joint Terrorism Task Force. According to a study by the American Center for Progress, Spencer’s book, The Truth about Muhammad, was recommended reading for new bureau recruits as a tool to help them train and prepare for “interviews [and] interrogations with individuals from the [Middle East].” Unsurprisingly, the ACP also found during the Fear, Inc. study that Spencer’s texts seem to be among the most widely promoted by proponents of Islamophobia.
Among those who support Spencer’s endeavors is Pamela Geller of Stop the Islamization of America, Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum, and David Horwitz of the David Horwitz Center. The web of connections between the aforementioned names and organizations is striking. Geller and Spencer are in fact co-founders of Stop the Islamization of America, as well as co-founders of a lesser-known organization, the American Freedom Defense Initiative. According to Fear, Inc., donations made to Geller’s Stop the Islamization of America are received by Spencer’s own organization, Jihad Watch’s PayPal account, implying that the two organizations are more closely linked than one might expect. Spencer has also spoken at Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum, and in turn Pipes has praised Spencer’s book, Stealth Jihad, calling it a “pioneering survey of the stealth jihad whose ambition and subtlety threaten the continuity of Western civilization,” a striking claim. Spencer has also served as a contributing writer to Steven Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism. In 2010, Spencer spoke on many panels with Gaffney, such as a panel entitled “Terror from Within,” and has openly supported Gaffney’s claim that Obama has an Islamist agenda.
These few members of what the American Center for Progress refers to as “misinformation experts” mutually reinforce and reiterate the Islamophobic concepts and accusations purported by one another. It should come as no surprise then that Spencer’s Jihad Watch received funding from the Fairbrook Foundation, which has also donated money to Pipes’ Middle East Forum, Gaffney’s Council for Security Policy, Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism, and Brigitte Gabriel’s American Congress for Truth. The Fairbrook Foundation has also donated money to the David Horwitz Freedom Center, an organization that helps “spread bigoted ideas into American life,” according to the Southern Poverty Center, an organization that monitors hate groups in the United States. Horwitz himself has been quoted saying that “Middle Eastern Muslims are Islamic Nazis who want to kill Jews- that’s their agenda.” The David Horwitz Freedom Center produces two online magazines: FrontPage Magazine, and Spencer’s very own Jihad Watch.
Is Robert Spencer truly an “expert” on Islamic studies, and is he the man we trust with running workshops on terrorism, Islam and jihad at the United States State Department? According to Islamic scholar and professor Carl W. Earnst, recipient of the Bashrahil Prize for Outstanding Cultural Achievement, Spencer “has no academic training in Islamic studies whatsoever,” and notes that Spencer often carefully selects his textual evidence to create and convey the message that “Islam is not a religion of peace.” It is both dangerous to our national security and our relationship as a nation with American Muslims and foreign Muslims to afford Robert Spencer a prominent role as an informant regarding Islam.
Frank Gaffney, founder of the Center for Security Policy, is another influential purveyor of Islamophobia, and is most well known for his conspiratorial belief that Muslims are waging a “stealth jihad” against the United States, and Islam and Sharia Law are infiltrating American government and society with the intent of destroying the Constitution and the freedoms expressed therein. He is greatly concerned with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, and has been described as “ideologically close to Israeli hardliners such as the Likud party Chief Yitzhak Shamir.” Gaffney has repeatedly spoken out against President Barack Obama’s supposed Muslim affinity, saying that Obama’s policy on Israel, which is for all intents and purposes very similar to that of his predecessors, will be the cause of “the next Middle East war,” and has even gone so far as to suggest Obama might even condone a military attack on Israel. Unfortunately for Mr. Gaffney, much of his ranting seems far too outlandish and paranoid to be taken seriously; Director of the Institute for Middle East Studies at the George Washington University and Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, Nathan Brown, described Gaffney as a “self-parody,” adding that he has “better things to do with my time than investigating the veracity of his raving.” Gaffney’s reliability has repeatedly been discredited, often by his own undoing. Gaffney claimed to quote Abraham Lincoln in an article for the Washington Times, when he said, “Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled or hanged.” This quote, however, is “completely invented,” and the article has since been removed from the website. Despite his lack of credibility, Gaffney has still managed to become an influential voice in American politics.
Gaffney’s resume is frighteningly impressive. He worked in the 1980s as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy at the Department of Defense, where he worked under Assistant Secretary Richard Perle. He was nominated by President Reagan for the position of US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy, and served as acting Assistant Secretary for the better part of a year before his nomination could be officially blocked by the Senate. Currently, Gaffney hosts Secure Freedom Radio; he is also the publisher and associate author of the book “Shariah: The Threat to America.” Additionally, he still heads the Center for Security Policy, a decidedly pro-Israeli organization. According to his biography on the CSP website, Gaffney “also contributes actively to the security policy debate in his capacity as a weekly columnist for the Washington Times.” Gaffney has repeatedly stated that Palestinians have embarked on a “perpetual campaign to harass, delegitimize and ultimately destroy Israel.” He discredits the Durban Conference peace negotiations as being nothing more than “international, and anti-Semitic and anti-Israel hate-fests.” With Gaffney’s continuous Islamophobic rants circulating the Internet, radio and bookshelves, it is impossible to believe that the benefactors of the Gaffney’s CSP are unaware of exactly the type of rhetoric they are funding.
Unsurprisingly, the Council for Security Policy receives funding from the same major benefactors as his Islamophobic contemporaries’ organizations, such as Steven Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism and Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch (N.B.: Gaffney serves as legal counsel to Spencer’s Stop Islamization of America, which Spencer co-founded with Islamophobe Pamela Geller). In 2009 alone, CSP’s revenue topped $4 million. In the past decade, the Scaife Foundation contributed over $3 million dollars in funds to CSP, while the Fairbrook Foundation donated over $20 million dollars between 2002 and 2009. The Bradley Foundation contributed close to a million dollars, while the Becker Foundations and the William Rosenwald Funds each contributed around $400,000.
Gaffney seems to be most well known, in recent years, for his continued attacks against President Obama, claiming the President’s affinity for the Muslim Brotherhood and Sharia Law time and time again. He firmly believes that “nearly every major Muslim organization in the United States is actually controlled by the MB [Muslim Brotherhood] or a derivative organization.” Gaffney similarly purports that Obama is a practicing Muslim, supports the Muslim Brotherhood and is not a citizen of the United States. He claimed that the Muslim Brotherhood was intricately affiliated with both the President of the United States and the Department of Defense, citing a twenty year old “piece of hapless propaganda” written by a single member of the Muslim Brotherhood who the current MB leaders have since completely discredited. Gaffney, naturally, had much to say about Obama’s 2009 speech in Cairo, Egypt, in which the President offered hope to the Arab communities.
While many viewed the president’s speech as a much-needed move “to set a new tone in America’s often strained dealings with the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims,” Gaffney found the historic and progressive speech troubling in two ways. First, Gaffney took the speech to be tangible proof that Obama plans to align “himself with adherents to what authoritative Islam calls Shariah- notably, the dangerous global movement known as the Muslim Brotherhood- to a degree that makes Mr. Clinton’s fabled affinity for blacks pale by comparison.” Secondly, Gaffney all but accused Obama as being anti-Semitic when he said that the President clearly “intends to compel the Israelis to make territorial and other strategic concessions to Palestinians to achieve the hallowed two-state solution. In doing so, he ignores the inconvenient fact that both the Brotherhood’s Hamas and Abu Mazen’s Fatah remain determined to achieve a one-state solution, whereby the Jews will be driven ‘into the sea.’” It seems highly unlikely that Obama is or was trying to drive the Jews into the ocean, (since his Presidency began in 2008, Obama has enjoyed an average of 14% higher approval rating among Jewish voters than the national average), but was instead supporting our national security interests by attempting to [or pretending to] rehabilitate America’s relationship with Arabs worldwide.
Unfortunately, it seems that Gaffney and his contemporaries have a powerful voice. Obama’s recent speech to the United Nations, decidedly pro-Israel, outraged Arabs worldwide, and significantly boosted his support in Israel. The Israeli Foreign Minister claimed it was the President’s best speech of his career, while Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas “listened with his head in his hands.” Unfortunately, because of the undue power and influence which this tightly knit network of Islamophobes have been awarded, the President, vying for a second term, is unlikely to return to his former objective of improving American – Arab relations, a move most crucial to our national security, any time soon. These are the results of the actions of Frank Gaffney, who has been likened to Senator Joseph McCarthy, and other like-minded thinkers and supporters of Islamophobia.
Neoconservative activist and wife of former Assistant Secretary of State Elliot Abrams, Rachel Abrams, is one such like-minded thinker. She is one of three founding members of the Emergency Committee for Israel, a PAC which is “committed to mounting an active defense of the US-Israel relationship by educating the public about the positions of political candidates on this important issue, and by keeping the public informed of the latest developments in both countries.” On Abrams blog, called “Bad Rachel,” she posted a stunning statement on the front page, which outlines what she sees as a fitting response to the return of Israeli captive Gilad Shalit, saying, “those who aren’t strapping bombs to their own devils’ spawn and sending them out to meet their seventy-two virgins by taking the lives of the school-bus-riding, heart-drawing, Transformer-doodling, homework-losing children of Others—and their offspring—those who haven’t already been pimped out by their mothers to the murder god—as shields, hiding behind their burkas and cradles like the unmanned animals they are, and throw them not into your prisons, where they can bide until they’re traded by the thousands for another child of Israel, but into the sea, to float there, food for sharks, stargazers, and whatever other oceanic carnivores God has put there for the purpose.” Unfortunately, due to Abrams connections in the media, she is able to disseminate her genocidal rants to the general public, and help to further the agenda of Islamophobes in America. ECIs advertising campaign that asserted that Occupy Wall Street is primarily an anti-Semitic movement, which as been denounced by prominent Jewish liberals in America, in a release entitled “A Statement Against Smears,” as “an old, discredited tactic.” ECI has also run negative advertisement campaigns against Senate hopeful Joe Sestak and House candidate Mary Jo Kilroy by portraying them as “openly hostile to Israel.” Curiously, ECI does not release its donor information, but it would not be surprising to see many of the aforementioned names and organizations on that list.
One of Abrams main allies in the media is Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin, “who often uses her Post perch to attack both Republicans and Democrats whom she deems insufficiently supportive of Israel and weak on U.S. defense.” She has criticized Dennis Ross, a Middle East policy advisor in the Obama Administration and Editorial Board member of the Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum, for being “delusional” in thinking that he could work under Obama and still benefit Israel. She has also “written in support of so-called Christian Zionists groups that espouse views closely in line with those of Israel’s right-wing Likud Party regarding Israeli claims to Palestinian territory.”
David Yerushalmi, a lawyer and the founder of the Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE), has rhetoric similar to Abrams and Rubin. Yerushalmi, according to the Anti-Defamation League, has a “record of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-black bigotry,” having once described “blacks as the most murderous of peoples.” According to Yerushalmi, African Americans are a “murderous race, killing itself…The idea that racial differences included innate differences in character and intelligence would [,] it seem [,] more likely than not.” Statements such as this have triggered negative reactions among the media. Yerushalmi, who is himself Jewish, has even alienated himself from the Jewish people by blaming liberal Jews for destroying “their host nations like a fatal parasite.” Yerushalmi is also, alarmingly, one of the most influential members of the Islamophobic network; his work has, in recent years, sought to undermine religious freedom and promote an irrational fear of the infiltration and incorporation of radicalized Sharia law into the United States’ laws. Despite Yerushalmi’s widely known racism, he has still managed to become an important player in the way in which the United States views the Islam and Muslims. A New York Times article aptly summarized this frightening reality by correctly asserting that, “despite his lack of formal training in Islamic law, Mr. Yerushalmi has come to exercise a striking influence over American public discourse about Shariah.”
Yerushalmi’s interest in Sharia law took roots in the aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001. At the time of the attacks, Yerushalmi was living in Ma’ale Adumim, an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank, where he was working on “commercial litigation,” and promoting free market reform in Israel. In just five years, Yerushalmi entirely changed his career path and began to focus almost exclusively on the evils of Sharia, which he equated with radical Islam. By January of 2006, Yerushalmi had founded the Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE) with the goal of promoting legislation that would punish individuals for observing Sharia, and began raising funds for Mapping Sharia, a project of SANE that sought to expose ties between jihadist, terrorist organizations, and American Mosques. This project was of great interest to Frank Gaffney, who told the New York Times that his partnership with Yerushalmi began when the two Islamophobes embarked on a mission to “engender a national debate about the nature of Shariah and the need to protect our Constitution and country from it.” The New York Times noted in another article on the subject that the “more tangible effect of the movement” has been to promote an “alarmist message” about Islam. The message was not quick to catch on, however, until 2009, with the introduction of the Tea Party into the American political sphere, providing Yerushalmi with a political base from which to promote his ideas. In 2009, Yerushalmi and Gaffney officially began the project Mapping Sharia. He began writing potential legislation entitled “American Laws for American Courts,” which was, in essence, “a model statute that would prevent state judges from considering foreign laws or rulings that violate constitutional rights in the United States,” with the purpose of thwarting supposed efforts by American-Muslim jihadists to incorporate Sharia law into the United States’ laws.
The legislation proposed by Yerushalmi declared, “it shall be a felony punishable by 20 years in prison to knowingly act in furtherance of, or to support the, adherence to Islam.” Additionally, Yerushalmi proposed that the Congress of the United States declare war with “the Muslim Nation, or Umma.” In a proposal that harkens back to the dark days of Japanese-American internment following Pearl Harbor, Yerushalmi asks that the President of the United States “immediately declare that all non-US citizen Muslims are Alien Enemies… and shall be subject to immediate deportation.” Yerushalmi does not want Muslims in America; he further stresses this point when he proposes that “no Muslim shall be granted an entry visa” in to the United States, at all. During an interview on National Public Radio, the NPR host began by addressing Yerushalmi, saying, “I’ll start with you because as we mentioned, your policy paper has been the intellectual basis for a number of the measures being considered around the country.” If a proposal by noted racist Yerushalmi is serving as an “intellectual basis” for policy, it seems as if Sharia law is not, in fact, the biggest threat to upholding the integrity of the law of the United States. Yerushalmi’s reach continues to extend, however, and his opinions are now echoed by influential politicians, such as former director of the C.I.A. James Woolsey, which has helped Yerushalmi disseminate information, (read: propaganda) regarding Sharia law. Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy, for example, released a nearly two hundred page report entitled “Shariah: The Threat to America,” which was largely written by Yerushalmi, with contributions from Woolsey and other former intelligence officials, lending undeserved credentials to Yerushalmi’s work. New York Times investigative reporter Andrea Elliot said, in an interview on NPR, that “What was intriguing to me was how this man, who was really a fringe figure, came to cultivate allies and influence people at such high levels — former military and intelligence officials, leaders of national organizations, presidential candidates — how did he make that leap? . . . And I think part of the answer is, in person he comes across not as the erratic character as some might suspect but as a sophisticated man who is convinced by his idea and has an endless appetite for defending those ideas… Gaffney really became [Yerushalmi's] bridge to a whole network of think-tanks and government officials, including Jim Woolsey, a former director of the C.I.A.” Elliot concluded by adding, “I would say Gaffney catapulted Yerushalmi onto a new platform of influence and their aim seems to have been to get people in circles of influence to understand Shariah in this totally new frame, as a totalitarian threat akin to what the United States faced during the Cold War.”
The Insidious Network
This seems to be the key to how the Islamophobic network operates within the United States, however, with the main purveyors of Islamophobia helping to legitimize the work of their colleagues, and creating multiple organizations with essentially the same purpose and leadership. For example, the American Public Policy Alliance takes responsibility for Yerushalmi’s legislation “American Laws for American Courts.” The APPA is an alliance between Gaffney, Daniel Pipes, the founder and director of the Middle East Forum, Brigitte Gabriel, the founder of ACT! for America, and the American Congress for Truth, and of course, David Yerushalmi. These people and organizations are pointedly pro-Israel, receive funding from many of the same organizations, and use one another’s organizations and connections to mutually reinforce their Islamophobic agenda. For example, ACT! for America spent approximately $60,000 promoting the Oklahoma legislation, which included over 600,000 automated calls featuring Woolsey. Gabriel’s organization claims to “fearlessly speak out in defense of America, Israel and Western Civilization.” Yerushalmi is also an attorney at the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which is founded and run by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. In a perfect example of how the Islamophobic network is mutually sustainable, Yerushalmi defended Geller in a 2010 court case. Additionally, Gaffney’s CSP and Steven Emerson’s Middle East Forum serve as outlets for Yerushalmi’s work, frequently publishing or offering links to his articles, or commending his anti-Sharia legislation.
These main purveyors often speak out in defense of one another as well, and seem to legitimize the work of the others. Following a New York Times article that suggested Yerushalmi’s fear of Sharia law was more than unfounded, FrontPage Magazine, an offshoot of Islamophobe David Horowitz’s Freedom Center, ran an article claiming that “The Times focuses in on Yerushalmi, as though his Judaic background and love for Israel delegitimize his opposition to Sharia… And to make that point, they’ll sacrifice wives and daughters, and then blame a Hasidic Jew.” In fact, it is not Yerushalmi’s “love for Israel,” but rather his blatant connections to Israel, that have many wondering at his true motivation for defaming Islam. For example, Robert J. Loewenberg serves as Chairman under Yerushalmi at SANE. Loewenberg is also the head of the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies, a decidedly pro-Israel organization with links to Israel’s Likud Party. The Likud Party promises to “continue to strengthen and develop” communities in the occupied territories, “and will prevent their uprooting.” If Yerushalmi is receiving his funding and support from organizations that promote similar policies to IASPS, then it is more than probable that Yerushalmi and his contemporaries’ agenda is less motivated by fear of Sharia than by a pro-Israel agenda.
Yerushalmi has been careful to be very private about the donors who fund SANE. What is available, however, is that Gaffney’s CSP contributed an unspecified amount to a study conducted by SANE, which cost around $400,000 dollars, and involved secretly sending researchers into one hundred American mosques to determine the overall level of commitment to terrorist organizations. In that same year, Yerushalmi was paid over $153,000 dollars, consulting fees from CSP. SANE received $1.1 in million donations from 2007 to 2009, of which $950,000 went to “information dissemination through advertising and the website.” It is safe to assume, given Yerushalmi’s public Islamophobic agenda, that the vast majority of contributions come from organizations that share his ideology.
Sheldon Gary Adelson: Financier
One of the most famous contributors to help further the agenda of the Israeli lobby in the United States is American Billionaire Sheldon Gary Adelson. Adelson is the Chairman Chief Executive Officer of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, the parent company of Venetian Macao Limited. A “self-professed Zionist,” Adelson gave approximately $25 million dollars to Birthright Israel, and $1 million in 2010 to Islamophobe Newt Gingrich’s American Solutions for Winning the Future. Adelson, head of the Republican Jewish Coalition, is “fiercely opposed to a two-state solution” regarding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict, and declared that any such solution would be “a betrayal of principle.” It is not surprising then that Adelson also opposed the 2007 Annapolis Peace Conference aimed at achieving a mutually agreeable solution, and is suspected to have donated “hundreds of millions of dollars to Zionist” causes throughout his career. He has invested over $180 million dollars in Israel Hayom, an Israeli newspaper often referred to as “Bibiton,” because of its unwavering support of Benjamin Netanyahu. He has also traveled to Israel to promote a DVD warning about “spreading of Islam in the West,” and warned “participants about the dangers that Israel has to deal with and the risks from radical Islam.”
In 2007, Adelson established the Adelson Family Foundation, which sends money to programs supporting “Israel advocacy and defense, Israel programs, Israel Studies on campus, and Jewish and Zionist Identity and Education.” He is also a Co-Founder of Freedom Watch, and a major contributor to the Zionist Organization of America, and AIPAC. He also largely funds Counterterrorism and Security Education and Research Foundation, (CTSERF), a foundation whose mission statement is to “develop education programs and materials for security professional and the general publics that will enhance our understanding of the causes of terrorism and the measures necessary to deter and combat it.” CTSERF has contributed over $1.6 million to Steven Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism, but Adelson has never listed “the Investigative Project as the end recipient of [his] funding.”
The aforementioned Daniel Pipes is an influential and highly educated promoter of Islamophobia, and the founder of the Middle East Forum. Although ideologically close to his anti-Islamic contemporaries, Pipes is one of the few members of the Islamophobia network that actually has an educational background in Islamic and Arabic studies. The Center for America Progress refers to Pipes as “the academic turned anti-Muslim propagandist,” and acknowledges his respectable educational foundation, having earned both his BA and PhD from Harvard University in the 1970s. Pipes studied abroad during his college and post-graduate years, spending three years in Egypt, and living in Cairo for two years in between college and graduate school. During this time, Pipes learned to read Arabic and studied the Quran, which he says helped him foster an appreciation for Islam. One journalist from the Washington Post book review noted in a 1983 review of Pipes book, In the Path of God: Islam and Political Power, however, that although Pipes “professes respect for Muslims,” he is “frequently contemptuous of them.” Unfortunately, it seems Pipes respect for Islam is limited to Medieval Islamic History, the field in which he earned his doctorate. In the decades to come, Pipes would turn his attention towards what he saw as the emergence of radical Islam, believing that radical Islamists intend to infiltrate the United States government. As the aforementioned Washington Post journalist aptly noted, Pipes begins to display “a disturbing hostility to contemporary Muslims.” One of Pipes’ former college professors, and a former Director for Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies has said of Pipes, “to speak for myself, I have been appalled frequently by his polemical stance on almost everything having to do with Islam, Muslims or the Palestinian/Israeli issue.” The same professor went on to add that “the irony… is of course that Dr. Pipes and other radically and blindly pro-Zionist American Jews are much farther along the chauvinist and ultimately anti-American spectrum than are even radical American Muslims.”
Daniel Pipes founded the Middle East Forum in 1990, but it was not until after the attacks of September 11th that Pipes began to stand out as increasingly Islamophobic, becoming obsessed with “the supposed threat posed by Islam and Muslims in America.” The Center for American Progress describes Pipes as becoming “increasingly out of touch with the realities of the Muslim world at home and abroad, making more extreme and unfounded observations about Islam in the United States.” Following September 11th, Pipes formed three subgroups of his Middle East Forum: Campus Watch, Islamist Watch and the Legal Project. Formed in 2002, Campus Watch was the first of these subgroups. Campus Watch’s mission statement asserts that the group serves to review and critique “Middle East studies in North America, with an aim to improving them.” While this sounds harmless enough, a closer examination of the website reviews that the group seeks to address what they feel to be flaws in the professorate of Middle Eastern studies in North American colleges and universities. In the early stages of Campus Watch’s existence, Pipes encouraged that students report any “Middle East-related scholarship, lectures, classes, demonstrations and other activities” that undermine the goals of Pipes and the Middle East Forum. Campus Watch provides us with the following example and quote: a student at Georgetown University should report Professor John Esposito for saying that Islamist movements “are not necessarily anti-Western, anti-American, or anti-Democratic,” because he is “portraying militant Islam as a benign movement.” Interestingly, Campus Watch claims to fight against the “intolerance of alternate views;” apparently, there is only one correct answer regarding whether or not militant Islam poses a direct threat.
Pipes promotes the idea that the Islamist movement has two faces: one violent and one lawful, which help to mutually reinforce one another. Like Yerushalmi, Pipes is specifically concerned with the later. Pipes’ fear that Islamic law is infiltrating our government is the most curious of his phobias. The second of the groups which Pipes created seeks to expose the Islamist movement and then to fight back against what he calls Islamist “lawfare.” Islamist Watch, a subgroup of the Middle East Forum, asserts that “it exposes the far-reaching goals of Islamists” in the United States. The site includes links to Steven Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism and FrontPage Magazine, of which David Horowitz is Editor in Chief, and where Gaffney is a frequent contributor. These links help to outline the small network of Islamophobes in the United States that mutually reinforce and affirm the assertions of one another. According to Islamist Watch, for example, Islamists within the West are “quietly, lawfully, [and] peacefully,” working to impose “aspects of Islamic law” into the legislature, and to “win special privileges for themselves” within America and other Western nations. Most, if not all, of these supposed “privileges,” including exemption from treatment programs for Muslim sex-offenders, and a law which would put the blame and responsibility of the crime on female rape victims in Norway, sound rather unlikely to occur.
Circling the Wagons: Islamophobes on the Defensive
Even so, Pipes and his contemporaries are not taking any chances. The Legal Project, the third offshoot of the MEF, offers legal protection to those who are “victims” of the same Islamist “lawfare” which Islamist Watch seeks to expose. The Legal Project’s website offers a quote from Steven Emerson, which stipulates “legal action has become the mainstay of radical Islamist organizations seeking to intimidate and silence their critics.” The Legal Project, through donations and funding, arrange for “pro bono and reduced rate counsel for victims of Islamist lawfare,” according to its website. Often, the “victims” are people who have made defamatory and unfounded statements regarding Islam as a religion. The Legal Project has helped some high profile and notorious Islamophobes, such as Geert Wilders, who have been criticized for their anti-Islamic comments. Wilders, who has said, “I don’t hate Muslims, I hate Islam,” and fought for the banning of the Quran in the Netherlands, naturally applauds the efforts of the Legal Project. Wilders has commended and credited the Legal Project for the favorable outcome of his court case last June, saying, “I was acquitted of all charges by an Amsterdam court. The Middle East Forum’s Legal Project… was always there to help, advise and assist.”
The Main Purveyors of Islamophobia Are a Close Knit Group
Steven Emerson passed on control of the Investigative Project on Terrorism to his former intern and understudy, Evan Kohlmann. Kohlmann has written for the Journal of Counterterrorism, and is the author of the book, Al-Qaida’s Jihad in Europe: the Afghan-Bosnian Network, promoting the idea that Muslims are engaged in a conspiracy to promote radical Islam throughout the world. He has written for Daniel Pipe’s Middle East Forum, as well as Islamophobe contemporary Brigitte Gabriel’s Act! for America, along with David Yerushalmi, Steven Emerson, Daniel Pipes, Frank Gaffney and Robert Spencer, which speaks strongly to the Islamophobic network’s ability to mutually reinforce the information promulgated by one another.
Pipes has been interviewed for Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy, and publicly endorsed Gaffney’s book Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America, a title which reminds one of the rhetoric of Pamela Geller, and the Stop the Islamization of America group founded by co-founded by Geller and Gaffney. Pipes also joined Geller and Gaffney in the fight against the “Ground Zero Mosque,” more aptly named the Park51 community center, and expressed his concern that the community center was an example of “Islamist triumphalism,” and would undoubtedly “spread Islamist ideology.” Daniel Pipes was also an influential advocate for the closing of a New York City public school that taught “Arabic and Arab Culture” classes. He referred to the school as a “madrasa,” hoping to promote his belief that “all Arabic instruction is inevitably laden with Pan-Arabist and Islamist language.” Pipes later acknowledged that his use of the word “madrasa” was “a bit of a stretch,” but he defended his word choice, saying that he was simply trying to “get attention.”
Additionally, Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum receives funding from some of the same large donors that contribute to other main promoters of Islamophobia. The Donors Capital Fund, for example, was previously mentioned in this report for having given the Middle East Forum over 2.3 million dollars between 2001 and 2009. As previously mentioned, the same fund also provided Steven Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism with close to half a million dollars over the same time period. In 2008, the Donors Capital Fund also contributed over 17 million dollars to the Clarion Fund, a group formed in 2006 in which Frank Gaffney, Jr. and Daniel Pipes sit on the advisory board. The Clarion Fund produced and released a DVD entitled, “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” which was distributed to over 28 million voters living in swing-states during the 2008 presidential election. Interestingly, the Clarion Fund shares an address with Aish Hatorah, a pro-Israel organization and the former employer of all three founders of the Clarion Fund. The Clarion Fund has been accused by International Relations Center as provoking “a climate of fear in the United States.” Upon closer examination of the organizations and funds that contribute financially and ideologically to Islamophobia, the interconnectedness of the main purveyors of Islamophobia is difficult to dispute, and Daniel Pipes, the Middle East Forum, Campus Watch, Islamist Watch and the Legal Project certainly are no exception. We must ask ourselves if we want these “experts” to dictate and influence our understanding of Islam here in America and our vital, struggling relationship with Arab nations worldwide.