Wednesday, June 13, 2007

After forgiveness, celebration in Roxbury

Boston--June 9--The Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) decided to settle
with the David Project, with both parties agreeing to drop all
lawsuits including the suit filed by James Policastro to attempt to
get the Roxbury mosque torn down. No future litigation can be brought
against the mosque.

Interfaith director Jessica Masse said, "The ISB has made its point,
which was never about monetary gain, and was always about standing up for the right of its community to worship freely. We will now focus on strengthening our ties with the broader community, and in particular, the interfaith community."

Masse thanked the interfaith community for having the courage to the
stand with the ISB when no one else would.

ISB Director, Dr. Yousef Abou-Allaban stated, "We have achieved
multiple victories in court… The decisions of the Massachusetts judges
who issued rulings in these cases affirming our rights should be read
by all citizens. But now we want to move forward."

The ISB held a press conference on Wednesday, May 30 at the mosque
site in Roxbury and on June 9 held a "Faith and Unity March" and
"Minaret Capping Festival" attended by over 2000 visitors, including
James Policastro!

Policastro said it was a beautiful ceremony, reported the Boston Globe.

A copper cap, affixed with an American flag, was lifted by crane and
attached by workmen to the top of the minaret in front of the crowd as a symbol for the Muslim community's addition to the American melting pot.

Imam Basyouny Nehala called the adhan from the minaret for the first time.

The 70,000-square-foot mosque, which has taken two decades to
complete, plans to open this Ramadan.

Muslim American Society Boston's executive director Bilal Kaleem
expressed his joy.

"The settlement was achieved a couple weeks ago," Kaleem said, "but it
didn't hit home until I saw the 5,000-pound cap of the minaret coming
down slowly with thousands of people praying and crying. It was
beautiful, emotional, and a time of great thankfulness."

Sufia Hassan, whose husband heads Masjid Alhamdulillah in Roxbury,
said their mosque was not originally built as a house of worship.

"This is the first built from the ground up," Hassan said
enthusiastically. "What's nice is that it will bring Muslims from this
country and other countries together."

The New England community has achieved a great milestone in their
dream to build the largest Islamic Center in Greater Boston.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Boston Muslims Forgive Israel Advocates

Many celebrated the construction of New England’s largest mosque as proof of “the Muslim community coming into its own." Yet not everyone celebrated. In 2004, the City of Boston was sued for selling the land to Muslims. Racist commentators whipped up public hysteria against the mosque.

“Muslims are very upset," said Mushtaque Mirza, who has lived in Boston for 30 years. “The mosque is always depicted as [supporting] terrorism."

The lawsuit against the City was dismissed in 2007, but irreparable damage had already been done. Donations slowed to a trickle, the mosque only half built.

When in 2005, mosque directors Dr. Yousef Abou Allaban and Ossama Kandil sued Fox News and the Boston Herald for defamation, analysis of discovery materials exposed a professionally coordinated network of pro-Israel organizations, mass media, Islamophobic academics, and real estate developers. The directors accused a growing list of defendants, including Steven Emerson, the David Project, and Citizens for Peace and Tolerance (CPT), whose president is Dennis Hale, of "a concerted, well-coordinated effort to deprive ... members of the Boston Muslim community of their basic right of free association and the free exercise of their religion."

The Jewish community

Some Jewish groups kindly distanced themselves from this conspiracy to deprive Muslim Americans of their constitutional rights, which is a federal crime, but Nancy Kaufman, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, whose stated mission includes minimizing the political influence of groups feared hostile to Israel, stated, "None of those organizations [who signed statements supporting the mosque] are members of the organizations of the JCRC. We don't consider them to be a part of the mainstream Jewish community."

Who is Charles Jacobs?

In 2006, Dr. Yousef Abou-Allaban, chairman of the board of the Islamic Society of Boston, addressed Charles Jacobs, president of the David Project, in an open letter that was quoted in the Boston Globe.

"We would like to know why you and others at the David Project appear to be so intent on inflaming relations between our communities," Abou-Allaban wrote. "Do you really hate us that much?"

Charles Jacobs, like Charles Krauthammer and Richard Perle, earns his living through a speakers' bureau called Benador Associates, which specializes in pro-Israel campus events focusing on Islam and terrorism. Fareeha Iqbal, a student at MIT, attended one of his lectures.

"Dr. Jacobs’ talk expressed blatantly racist and anti-Islamic views. In fact, I have never seen Islamophobia exuded so blatantly at a public forum at MIT, nor such racist views aired at a panel discussion on human rights.”

A pioneer in the technological aspects of mass-marketing hate, CAMERA, which Jacobs co-founded in 1982 to enforce pro-Israel bias in the news, email blasts tailored “action alerts” to huge databases of specific target groups.

This Polish immigrant, armed with only a BA from Rutgers and a Masters in Education from Harvard has proven exceptionally effective in manipulating the US government and major American institutions into following policy blueprints created by his Israel advocacy organization, the David Project.

The David Project

The David Project is an affiliate member of the Israel on Campus Coalition (ICC), a network of national Jewish organizations, founded in partnership with the Jewish student organization Hillel and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. (The three organizations share a building in Washington.) It is essentially an Islamophobia franchisor complete with manuals and training videos.

In October 2003, the David Project funded a film, produced by Ralph Avi Goldwasser, to slander professors Rashid Khalidi, Joseph Massad, Hamid Dabashi, and Georges Saliba of Columbia University's Department of Middle East studies. Joseph Massad became known as one of the most dangerous intellectuals on campus. Calls for the professor’s dismissal were issued by Congressman Weiner and by the editors of the Daily News and the New York Sun, and the propaganda film was shown in Israel before a government minister at an anti-Semitism conference.

The David Project regularly places racist anti-Arab and anti-Muslim speakers on Harvard campus, but its first major accomplishment was blocking a $2 million donation from the late president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al-Nahyan, for a chair in Islamic Studies at the Harvard Divinity School. The Project's 2003 smear campaign, coordinated with the ADL, sought to exclude Arabs and Muslims from developments at Harvard University.

Sheikh Zayed

Charles Jacobs smeared Shaykh Zaid’s donation to Harvard.

Anti-Sudan Campaigns

Jacobs' pro-Israel advocacy organization spearheaded the campaign to vilify the Islamic Republic of Sudan, and provided huge quantities of lurid, both popular and pseudo-academic material, in which Sudan is described as a "terrorist, genocidal" state engaged in a "holy war." Charles Jacobs’ carefully designed "PR puff pieces" about "slavery" in Sudan have managed to secure national media coverage.

While pro-Palestine activists have long struggled to halt public funding of Israel, the dishonest “Save Darfur!” campaign, put together by DP friends and trainees, is the quickest divestment success in history. Sudan divestment resolutions have become law in Iowa and are in the process of approval in 12 states. The JCRC coordinating with the David Project has further poisoned human rights discourse with this effort to turn Arab and African Americans against each other.

ISB Settles Lawsuit

The furor over the Roxbury mosque has exposed the ways Israel advocacy groups pollute discourse on US foreign and domestic policy, which have until now remained mostly invisible to American political scientists.

Two lawyers that were originally helping the David Project, Jonathon Leffel and Jacob Feinberg, apparently had a change of heart and handed over to the Islamic Society of Boston damning evidence against the David Project.

The ISB had always made clear that they would settle if the David Project stopped challenging their right to build the mosque. On May 29, 2007 the David Project offered to withdraw Policastro’s appeal, and on May 30, 2007, the Muslim American Society announced that Kandil and Abou Allaban agreed to dismiss their defamation lawsuits.

Every time Jacobs, Kaufman, or Goldwasser look out of the top floor window of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies in downtown Boston, they will see the dome and minaret despite their best efforts to prevent its completion.

Karin Friedemann is editor of World View News Service in Boston, focusing on the Islamic world. Please visit