CAIR slams ADL for ‘smear tactics’
By InFocus Staff
LOS ANGELES, Calif. – In an open letter addressed to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a leading Jewish advocacy group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a national Islamic civil rights and advocacy group accused the ADL of contributing to growing Islamophobia in American society by using “smears and exclusionary tactics” in its latest attack on the due process of a group of American Muslims.
According to CAIR, those smears appeared in a recent ADL news release targeting members of a coalition defending the legal rights of officials of the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) Muslim charity currently on trial in Texas.
Abrahim Foxman, director of ADL.
CAIR alleged the ADL falsely claimed in its release that members of the coalition ave been “tainted by their own murky associations with radical organizations and individuals.”
CAIR officials denounced the accusations.
“It is regrettable that the Anti-Defamation League, which claims to defend American civil liberties, would seek to exploit the growing level of Islamophobia in our society by using the same smears and exclusionary tactics that have in the past been used by anti-Semites to target the Jewish Community,” Ibrahim Hooper, communications director of CAIR National, told InFocus.
In its Aug. 21, 2007, press release, ADL stated, “If CAIR truly repudiates acts of terror and murder, we would welcome a simple declaratory statement that no cause, no matter how just it may be, justifies the use of suicide killers, rockets or other means to target civilians.”
Hooper accused the ADL of attempting to muzzle the First Amendment rights of American Muslims by smearing and demonizing them. Ibrahim Hooper, communications director CAIR National.
In its Aug. 29, 2007, open letter responding to the ADL’s release, CAIR’s National Chairman Parvez Ahmed and National Executive Director Nihad Awad wrote:
“A little research would have revealed a CAIR-coordinated 2005 fatwa, or Islamic juristic opinion, that states in part: ‘All acts of terrorism targeting civilians are haram (forbidden) in Islam. It is haram [forbidden] for a Muslim to cooperate with any individual or group that is involved in any act of terrorism or violence. It is the civic and religious duty of Muslims to cooperate with law enforcement authorities to protect the lives of all civilians.’
“Also, our 2004 ‘Not in the Name of Islam’ online petition states: ‘No injustice done to Muslims can ever justify the massacre of innocent people, and no act of terror will ever serve the cause of Islam.’”
Hooper also accused the ADL of being “shamefully hypocritical” on the issue of terrorism.
“CAIR and other American Muslim organizations have consistently condemned terrorism, including attacks on Israeli civilians,” he said, pointing out that “the ADL has remained silent about the abuses suffered by the Palestinian people under occupation.”
Hooper also said CAIR has repeatedly called for a peaceful and just resolution to the Middle East conflict that took into account the rights and responsibilities of all parties.
“For too long, the ADL has allowed its blind support for Israel’s brutal policies toward the Palestinians and its zero-sum approach to public debate on the Middle East conflict to unnecessarily poison relations between the Jewish and American Muslim communities,” he said.
The ADL denied the charges, and said the organization supported the civil rights of all in this country, including Muslims.
But CAIR’s open letter also outlined the ADL’s record of anti-Muslim and anti-civil rights behavior during the course of the past 10 years, including a 1999 monetary settlement of 1993 lawsuit that accused the ADL of spying on the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee and anti-Apartheid groups.
“The ADL has a history of seeking to marginalize and disenfranchise American Muslims in an attempt to stifle an alternative viewpoint on U.S. policy in the Middle East,” the open letter stated.
An example of that, according to the letter, was a 2004 incident when the ADL was forced to issue an apology for remarks in another news release that seemed to link the Islamic declaration of faith, or ‘shahada,’ with terrorism.
That news release, distributed by the ADL’s Orange County/Long Beach Regional Office, referred to the shahada as an ”expression of hate” that is ‘closely identified’ with terrorism and is ‘offensive to Jewish students.’
The ADL’s press release added that CAIR can “never be fully accepted in the Jewish community” until it condemns groups which aim to kill Jews and destroy Israel.
Hussam Ayloush, executive director of CAIR’s Greater Los Angeles Area office responded that “neither CAIR nor any American Muslim organization needed the ADL’s blessings to be accepted by the Jewish community.”
Ayloush added, “CAIR is proud of its work and associations with many in the Jewish community and with many American Jewish organizations. As for ADL and other extremist groups, we are glad not to be accepted by those who do not respect our religion or our community.”
The CAIR open letter quoted Shalom Center Director Rabbi Arthur Waskow (described by the Jewish Forward as one of the 50 most influential American Jews today) who wrote, after speaking a CAIR dinner: “Far from showing irreparable conflict between the Jewish community and CAIR, in fact the dinner showed that a seriously peace-committed part of the Jewish community can work with a seriously peace-committed part of the Muslim community, despite the existence of some violence-supportive people in both communities. That is the truthful and the important story.”
The open letter also quoted Rabbi Jeff Sultar of Mishkan Shalom in Pennsylvania who said: “We are inspired by the interfaith work that CAIR does, which serves to make all communities of faith stronger, and helps to address a serious gap in the understanding of Islam in the United States.”
Other American Muslim leaders expressed disappointment with ADL’s attempts to defame and marginalize the American Muslim community.
In an interview with InFocus, Shaikh Yassir Fazaga, Imam of the Orange County Islamic Foundation in Mission Viejo, Calif., and a prominent national Muslim leader, expressed hope that, considering the history of abuse faced by the Jewish community in Europe, this community will be alert not to allow any group to falsely use its name to victimize Muslims or others.
“The Muslim community has long realized that the Jewish community is not ADL and the ADL is not the Jewish community,” he said. “Over the years, we have managed to build friendships and cooperation with many in the Jewish community without having to go through ADL.”
“ADL seems focused on foreign issues, mainly Israel and its image. Local Muslims and Jews realize that we need not agree on foreign policy matters, but we can still cooperate on the many issues of common concern,” he added.
“Muslims get their inspiration from both the golden age of Islam and Judaism, in Andalusia, when both groups were tolerant of each other. This is what we long for now, but the current behavior of groups like ADL makes things like these unattainable,” Fazaga concluded.
CAIR representatives, however, opened the door for dialogue.
“If the ADL stops promoting noted Islamophobes and affirms the right of Americans to criticize the policies of any foreign country, including but not limited to Israel, without being demonized, then CAIR will welcome any opportunity to enter into dialogue,” stated the open letter.
CAIR leaders told InFocus that with the onset of the holy seasons of Ramadan and Tisheri, American Muslims and Jews should work together and engage in dialogue for peace and justice around the world.
- Hussam Ayloush
- Hussam has been a lifelong human rights activist who is passionate about promoting democratic societies, in the US and worldwide, in which all people, including immigrants, workers, minorities, and the poor enjoy freedom, justice, economic justice, respect, and equality. Mr. Ayloush frequently lectures on Islam, media relations, civil rights, hate crimes and international affairs. He has consistently appeared in local, national, and international media. Full biography at: http://hussamayloush.blogspot.com/2006/08/biography-of-hussam-ayloush.html