American Muslims: The Community and Their Relations with Jews

, January 18, 2011

No. 64

  • Muslims in the United States number slightly under three million according to the most accurate population studies.They are among the wealthiest, most educated, and most ethnically diverse Muslim communities in the world.Their integration into the United States is remarkably different than in European countries, most notably in the near-absence of Muslim ghettos or enclaves common across the Atlantic. Three well-organized and well-funded political and civil rights organizations form the core Muslim advocacy.They work within the American political process to advance Muslim interests, but frequently present their community as victims of widespread “Islamophobia.”Leaders in all three have drawn controversy for support of extremist groups, and are overall hostile to Israel.
  • Since 9/11 several counterestablishment groups, often led by a charismatic individual, have been formed to promote alternative visions for American Muslims. Strongly influenced by their adopted homeland, they perceive the character and policies of United States more favorably and advocate for a moderate Islam in harmony with democratic, pluralistic values.Nevertheless, their influence among the broader Muslim community is still quite limited. Similar social currents have emerged in the openness of American society, questioning taboo issues such as homosexuality and apostasy, and spurring American Muslims into the spotlight of global Islamic debates.
  • Two nationwide and scores of local dialogue initiatives between Jews and Muslims have taken root, especially over the past decade.Most focus on common religious themes and mutual civic issues rather than hot-button political questions. Despite modest successes, the differences over Israel and questions regarding some Muslims’ sincere embrace of moderate positions still present stumbling blocks to sustained contacts, especially at the national level. Jewish groups differ significantly over respective approaches to dialogue and suitable Muslim partners.Most recently, the intense national debate over the planned New York mosque has polarized Muslim-Jewish relations and served as a sort of litmus test for future contacts.
  • Muslims from certain circles have demonstrated hostility to Jews in recent years, worrying many in American Jewry.Some college campuses have turned into centers of Israel-bashing and overt anti-Semitism, often spearheaded by Muslim student groups. Individual Muslim attacks on Jews have occurred sporadically, and radical pro-Al-Qaeda groups have been established, two alarming trends that mirror developments among Muslim immigrant communities elsewhere in the West.

History and Demographic Trends

The first believers in Islam most likely came to North America involuntarily in the sixteenth or seventeenth century. Some historians have estimated that as many as 10% of imported slave labor from West Africa were Muslim.[1] The vast majority of these Muslims and their ancestors abandoned their beliefs and converted to Christianity; some might have observed Islamic rituals in secret for a few generations, but ultimately left Islam for the dominant faith of the American colonists. The legacy nevertheless endures, as many African Americans over the past several decades have converted to Islam in the belief that they are returning to their ancestors’ heritage, including such famous athletes as Muhammad Ali and Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

A wave of voluntary Muslim immigration began in the 1860s and lasted into the first two decades of the twentieth century – an era of overall large-scale immigration to America. Newcomers hailed from such diverse places as Polish Tatarstan, Albania, the Ottoman Empire territories, and India. Many of these immigrants settled in large cities such as New York, but others ended up in remote small towns such as Biddeford, Maine.[2] [3] Legislation in the 1920s curbed immigration from non-northern European lands, only to be reversed four decades later.

Once the doors reopened in 1965, hundreds of thousands of Muslims began immigrating in a wave that continues up to the present. A study by the Center for Immigration Studies reveals that the largest immigrant community hails from Pakistan, with Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, and Turkey following suit respectively. Today, Muslims live overwhelmingly in urban areas, primarily on the West Coast, East Coast, and in the Midwest states, with significant numbers also in the Sunbelt states of Florida and Texas.  As a state, California has the most Muslims. The cities of New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, and Dearborn, Michigan (a suburb of Detroit) have the largest Muslim communities. American Muslims live overwhelmingly in mixed ethnic and religious neighborhoods; one Dearborn neighborhood can be classified as the only example of a Muslim “ghetto” in the United States.[4]

The Numbers Debate

The current Muslim population in the United States is subject to debate, but estimated by respected pollsters at anywhere between two and three million. Accurate figures are hard to come by, primarily since the once-in-a-decade U.S. Population Census Bureau does not ask for religious affiliation. Muslim organizations such as the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) have regularly stated American Muslims’ number as at least six million. The group’s claim is based on its 2001 study “The Mosque in America,” surveying attendance in over 1,600 Muslim prayer centers and an estimated two million mosque-goers. The study surmised that only a third of Muslims attend mosque in any capacity, boldly asserting that six to seven million Muslims lived in America.[5]

The CAIR study, however, was widely criticized by pollsters and demographers, noting its unscientific research methods for population estimation. Some critics emphasized CAIR’s political aims, arguing that these self-styled Muslim leaders inflated population figures to appear more powerful and deserving of policymakers’ attention.

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) commissioned a post-9/11 study with the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, analyzing data from previous nationwide surveys on religion, and estimated 1.7 million Muslims, with a margin of error allowing for a maximum of 2.8 million.[6] A similar American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) in 2001 estimated 1.8 million Muslims.[7] The nonpartisan Pew Center polling firm conducted the most recent demographic survey of Muslims in 2007, and estimated 2.5 million in the United States, or 0.8% of the total population.[8]

The dueling 2001 demographic surveys provoked a harsh war of words between Muslim and Jewish groups, deepening mutual tension that lingers up to the present. CAIR executive director Nihad Awad said the Jewish community was trying to “marginalize” the growing Muslim population, while spokesperson Ibrahim Hooper labeled AJC part of the “extremist wing of the pro-Israel lobby.” The now-defunct American Muslim Council (AMC) blasted the pollster for “denying the existence of 4.5 million Muslims,” and argued that many recent Muslim immigrants are afraid to report their religion due to Islamophobia.[9] David Harris, the AJC executive director, dismissed the claims and said his group’s study was merely about “truth and accuracy,” and the “wildly divergent” estimate by the Muslim groups was geared for gaining more influence in Washington.[10]

Ethnic and Religious Subgroups

According to Pew’s 2007 survey, 24% of American Muslims are Arab, 32% South Asians (including Iranians), and 20% African Americans. Smaller percentages are of West African, Balkan, and Southeast Asian (Malaysia and Indonesia) origins.  Approximately two-thirds (65%) of Muslims were born outside of the United States. The poll estimates Shi’a Muslims to number 200,000-400,000 of the 2.8 million, or anywhere between 10%-15% of the total population.[11]

Another subgroup, the black-separatist Nation of Islam, counts anywhere between 10,000-100,000 members and is almost always included as part of Muslim American demographics.[12] However, most Muslims do not consider the Black Muslims as part of their faith, as the latter’s beliefs in prophecy after Muhammad and rejection of racial equality contradict core Islamic tenets. Many African-American converts, though, have first embraced the Nation of Islam, later turning to mainstream Sunni Islam.

Economic and Social Trends

Economically, Muslims settling in America have fared much better than European coreligionists, as well as vis-à-vis the general population. The Pew 2007 study found that a plurality of American Muslims (41%) live in middle-income households or higher – those earning over $50,000 per year – similar to the overall American rate (44%); 35% lived in low-income households – $30,000 or lower, close to the national average of 33%.  By comparison, a 2006 Pew study revealed that 53% of German Muslims lived in low-income households, as opposed to 35% of the general population; in Britain the Muslim disparity was even greater (61% vs. 39%).

The 2007 study also discovered that 24% of American Muslim adults have at least a bachelor’s degree or higher, slightly lower than the overall national average of 25%.[13]  In sharpest opposition to European figures, Muslim immigrants to America actually have higher average incomes and levels of education than their native-born Muslim counterparts (including both converts and born Muslims). One especially indicative statistic is the 19% of immigrant Muslims who live in households earning more than $100,000 per year, which is higher than the national average (17%).

Muslims are prominent in many white-collar professions such as physicians and engineers. Keith Ellison became the first Muslim elected to Congress in 2006 from Minnesota as a Democrat,[14] joined two years later by Indiana Democrat Andre Carson.[15]  In cultural and social spheres, individual Muslims have succeeded on the basis of their merits, just like other minorities in the American experience. Muslim journalist Fareed Zakaria is one of American media’s foremost commentators, now editor-at-large for Time Magazine and hosting a weekly CNN program.[16] Algerian-born Elias Zerhouni served as director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under President George W. Bush.[17] In May, Rima Fakih became the first Muslim to win the Miss America beauty contest.[18]

In the fall of 2010, the first accredited Muslim college opened its doors for fifteen students, Zaytuna College in Berkeley, California. With a motto of “Where Islam Meets America,” it intends to combine Islamic scholarship with a traditional liberal university education and train American-born imams and young leaders[19] – as many imams are imported from Muslim countries and speak English poorly. Headed by two American converts to Islam and frequent media guests Hamza Yusuf and Zaid Shakir, Zaytuna hopes to expand its curriculum and student body over the next decade and provide a vehicle for the expression of a uniquely American Islam, perhaps in a fashion similar to what Yeshiva University has expressed for traditional American Jewry. Still, the past radical backgrounds of the two concern some observers. Shakir once wrote an essay about Islam being incompatible with democracy and to this day wishes for America to turn into a Muslim country,[20] while Yusuf has called Judaism “a most racist religion.”[21]

Another factor more common in America than in European countries is the voluntary shedding of Muslim identity in favor of a simple ethnic one. Some immigrants from Muslim-majority nations feel more of a kinship with non-Muslims from that same country than with other Muslims from elsewhere. Iranian Americans are most exemplary of this trend; estimated at anywhere between 300,000-500,000, they have formed several political and social organizations that serve solely Iranian American interests, with little to no concern for greater Muslim issues.

The leading Iranian-American public policy group discovered that only 42% of Americans of Iranian descent defined themselves as Muslims – despite emigrating from a country with a Muslim population of more than 95% – while a surprising 30% indicated “other.” Iranian Jews and Bahais – groups with strong religious identities – were both found to number less than 10%.[22] It can reasonably be deduced that a sizable number of Iranian Americans were born Muslim but in the free American society no longer identify as such. A parallel probably exists among the tens of thousands of Turkish Americans, whose organizations lobby Congress solely on issues related to Turkey and American-Turkish interests and never identify with a national Muslim constituency.[23]

Established Communal Organizations

Many organizations claim to represent the extremely diverse American-Muslim constituency. These organizations address numerous issues, ranging from protecting Muslim civil rights to certifying imams and managing mosques, or lobbying policymakers on domestic and global affairs. At some level, all of these groups – both large and small – have drawn national attention and participated in nationally significant events, be they congressional hearings or public religious ceremonies.Various grassroots-based groups have sprung up since 9/11 also to challenge the established organizations’ perceived disconnect with the “mainstream” views.

Three “mainstream” Muslim groups can be classified with several attributes. They all are comprised of Muslims from diverse backgrounds, not just catering to one ethnic or regional Muslim grouping.[24] All operate within the constraints of American societal norms and political processes, embracing pluralism and a moderate Islam at least officially.

More discouragingly, all express a somewhat obsessive hostility to Israeli and American actions, in contrast to remaining silent or ambivalent about Muslim sufferings elsewhere such as in Darfur or Pakistan. Perhaps most distinguishing is these groups’ attachment to depicting American Muslims as perpetual victims of Islamophobia, particularly after 9/11, and their staunch opposition to federal antiterror measures. They sometimes present conspiracy-theory arguments about government policies, suggesting that Muslim vilification is a hidden national agenda and Islamic extremism an exaggerated if not mythical threat. The groups ambiguously condemn incidences of Islamist terrorism, singling out some individuals and acts but remaining evasive elsewhere, or even defending “armed struggle” in certain conflicts. Federal authorities have investigated two of them, mainly on suspicions of supporting foreign terrorist groups.

The Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) is the oldest and largest of the mainstream groups, founded in 1982 and claiming 400,000 members as of 2008 (based on membership dues).[25] It serves as an umbrella organization for smaller Muslim collectives, including about half of the nation’s mosques, and holds an annual convention that draws tens of thousands of participants. Headed by Sudanese-born Muhammad Magid, ISNA tries to display a moderate Islam image through interfaith activities, humanitarian relief efforts, and educating Americans about Islam in marketing drives.[26]  It provides materials and certifies imams for over half of American mosques, as well as most Muslim chaplains in the military.[27] It demonstrates considerable political influence: an ISNA imam was selected by President Bush to offer a Muslim prayer a few days after 9/11 at a national mourning ceremony.[28] A senior adviser to President Barack Obama spoke at its 2009 annual convention, a first for a Muslim organization. ISNA is the parent organization of the Muslim Student Association (MSA), founded in 1963 and active at over one hundred American universities.

The Los Angeles-based Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) is a premier interest and lobbying group. Established in 1986, the council tries to promote a distinct Muslim identity in America and present Americans with a sympathetic image of Islam. It cooperates with ISNA on many national political initiatives, such as the six-hundred-mosque-wide Grassroots Campaign to Fight Terrorism. MPAC is also an active partner with other minority groups for common-interests lobbying. It has been a prominent fixture at White House Ramadan dinners and been given advisory roles on several government panels. MPAC has condemned certain Muslim-perpetrated terrorist attacks, but often mentions Islamophobia in the same sentence as mutually deplorable. The council released a very critical report of the Department of Homeland Security’s post-9/11 counterterrorism measures, arguing that the policies were laden with “anti-Islam rhetoric,” and more often than not has complained of law enforcement’s “profiling of Muslims.”[29] [30]

The third major group and most controversy-laden is the abovementioned Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a self-proclaimed civil rights movement that aims to counter negative views on Muslims. Headquartered in Washington, the organization was founded in 1994 by several leaders of the Hamas front group Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP).[31] Spokesperson Ibrahim Hooper frequently appears on television as a perceived representative of the Muslim community, while Executive Director Nihad Awad received President Bush at the Islamic Center of Washington days after 9/11 in the president’s address to America’s Muslim citizens. CAIR conducts “diversity training” programs with corporations and federal agencies to educate them about Muslim sensitivities. Somewhat modeled after the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the organization constantly reports on instances of alleged discrimination and harassment against American Muslims.[32] More than any other group, it plays the victim card, frequently asserting that its critics have an “anti-Islam agenda” and sometimes throwing the “Zionist” label at them to suggest that their supposed pro-Israel sympathies predispose their negative views on Muslims.[33]

Less than a decade ago, the then FBI director Robert Mueller described the American Muslim Council (AMC) as “the most mainstream Muslim group in the United States.”[34]  Founded in 1990 by the charismatic activist Abdulrahman Alamoudi, the Washington-based civil rights group gained an impressive foothold in the national political scene. The Clinton White House courted Alamoudi, who served as an adviser on Muslim issues.[35] He was selected by President Bush to join a memorial prayer service for the 9/11 victims at the National Cathedral. For over ten years, AMC was a premier liaison to the State and Defense departments for a variety of Muslim issues.[36] Some investigative reporters accused AMC of defending Muslim terrorists and noted its association with anti-American figures, but backers including the Catholic Church and Hillary Clinton defended the organization and labeled its opponents “Muslim bashers.”

The public façade of moderation was exposed as evidence emerged of Alamoudi’s complicity in a Libyan plot to assassinate then-Saudi crown prince Abdallah. During his subsequent trial, he was also found to have covert ties to terrorists while his rabidly anti-Semitic views were made all more the more obvious.[37] He was convicted in 2003 for his role in the assassination scheme, and the AMC disbanded in 2007. The rapid fall of a purportedly moderate Muslim organization so firmly anchored in the American lobbying arena fostered skepticism toward the mainstream Muslim scene, as well as demands for a closer observation of their positions and actions.  

Anti-Semitism and Hostility to Israel among the “Mainstream”

The well-organized and well-funded three mainstream groups project an overall image of respect for American democracy and commitment to pluralism with other religions.  However, at some rallies and group gatherings, they have issued hostile declarations against Israel and support for jihadist groups, and in other cases blatantly anti-Semitic rhetoric. This trend, coupled with the accusations of terrorism against ISNA and some CAIR officials, has hurt the reputation of these groups as moderate and made Jewish organizations cautious in pursuing dialogue with them. It has also generated debate among observers as to how accurately these organizations reflect the aspirations of American Muslims.

ISNA

The Islamic Society’s annual convention, held in July 2010, combined several discussions on expanding dialogue alongside other Israel-bashing ones. Reform Rabbi Jeremy Schneider from Dallas was the Jewish representative in a panel on interfaith relations. Yet one such lecture featured Mavi Marmara flotilla participants, representing them as innocent peace activists who merely responded to Israeli brutality.  A second talk argued on the need to further the Palestinian cause and delegitimize Israel in America, and was headed by poisonously anti-Israel British politician George Galloway.[38]

At the 2009 gathering, featured speaker Imam Warith Deen Umar justified the Holocaust because of Jews’ “disobedience to Allah” and chided Obama’s Jewish aides as secret Israeli agents by rhetorically asking, “why do this small number of people have control of the world?”[39] ISNA has also faced scrutiny as an unindicted coconspirator of the Hamas front group Holy Land Foundation and for its staunch support for Musa Abu Marzook, head of the Hamas political bureau who was detained by the FBI and is wanted by Israel on charges of complicity in violence.[40]

MPAC

MPAC has been free of overt terrorist associations, yet prominent members have still taken rabidly anti-Israel positions and in some instances made anti-Semitic statements. The organization argued in a 1999 policy paper that Hizballah and Hamas should be removed from the United States’ list of foreign terrorist groups and stood by Islamic Jihadsuspect Sami Al-Arian when he was brought to trial.[41] On the eve of Israel’s sixtieth anniversary, MPAC released a press kit highlighting “60 years of Palestinian suffering,” endorsing the “right of return,” and blaming Zionism for the vast majority of the conflict.[42]

Executive Director Salam al-Marayati suggested that Israel could have been behind the 9/11 attacks because it “diverts attention from what’s happening in the Palestinian territories,”[43] and he has consistently shouted invective at Israel in group gatherings. Other MPAC officials or MPAC-sponsored speakers have alleged Zionist control over U.S. policymakers and stymieing of home-grown Muslim influence, rationalized Palestinian suicide bombings as natural responses to Israeli policies, and characterized Israel as an “apartheid state” replete with “butchers.”[44] Moreover, Communications Director Edina Lekovic formerly edited the UCLA campus Muslim Students Association magazine Al-Talib, in which she wrote in 1999 that “When we hear someone refer to the great Mujahid…, Osama bin Laden, as a ‘terrorist,’ we should defend our brother and refer to him as a freedom fighter.”[45]

CAIR

CAIR’s public posturing and its members’ proven association with Hamas have tarnished its reputation as moderate. More than any other Muslim organization, CAIR has been associated with Saudi petrodollar funding, including a $1 million gift from the House of Saud for an Islamic public relations campaign in America and another generous endowment from Riyadh for building their national headquarters.[46] CAIR’s illicit support for Hamas was a central focus of the Holy Land Foundation terrorist trial in 2007, where founding members Omar Ahmed and Nihad Awad were named as fundraisers for the terrorist movement’s front groups in America.  The overwhelming evidence against CAIR officials prompted the FBI to suspend its cooperation with the organization in 2009, especially on the subject of fighting home-grown extremism.[47] The organization also spearheaded many pro-Hizballah and pro-Hamas rallies during Israel’s respective wars against those groups, in which its speakers defended them as “legitimate resistance.”

The ADL published an exhaustive list of anti-Semitic statements by CAIR officials, including justifying suicide bombings on Israeli civilians because all citizens supposedly serve in the military. Furthermore, CAIR funded a college speaking tour by activist Dovid Weiss of the Jewish, radically anti-Zionist Neturei Karta organization, and sponsored a Press Club talk with The Israel Lobby authors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt.[48] The organization honored journalist Helen Thomas with a Lifetime Achievement Award at its annual fundraiser in October 2010, several months after she demanded Israeli Jews to “get the hell out of Palestine” and “go home to Germany, Poland, America…everywhere else.”[49]

Particularly noteworthy is CAIR’s assault on Islamic scholar Khalid Duran for writing an introductory book on Islam geared for Jews in 2001, Child of Abraham: An Introduction to Islam for Jews. The book was commissioned by AJC, in conjunction with a Jewish professor’s introductory Judaism book for Muslims.[50] AJC had long cultivated ties with Duran as a genuine moderate and anticipated the book exchange as an avenue for expanded outreach to American Muslims.

CAIR’s offices in America attacked Duran for portraying certain Muslim practices in less than flattering terms and supposedly tarnishing Islam’s image among Americans. It hastily publicized the book in many Middle East-based Arabic media outlets, resulting in one Jordanian cleric issuing a fatwa urging “Muslims to unify against Duran.”  Hooper later explained to a journalist that this fatwa meant “his blood could be shed.”[51] Duran stated that “CAIR put my life in peril” and temporarily went into hiding with twenty-four-hour security protection.[52]

Countercurrents and Alternative Muslim Movements

Over the past decade, several Muslim groups have emerged to directly challenge those older organizations’ perceived representation of the greater Muslim community, especially in the aftermath of 9/11. These newer and less experienced groups, often founded and largely maintained by one dominant figure, are slowly trying to expand their following beyond a core group.

They seek a more inclusive Islam that stands opposed to the establishment’s “victimization” approach and reject politicizing the religion or attaching it to certain political-ideological causes abroad. They regard America as a blessing for Muslims, allowing them to flourish among a mostly tolerant population. In a similar vein, Muslim individuals have challenged long-established Islamic norms in an American context, pushing for debate of such long-taboo issues as gay rights and women’s roles in mosques.  Yet other activists have renounced Islam altogether, a move tantamount to death throughout the Muslim world, and strive to force acceptance of ex-Muslims and freedom from religion.

Grassroots and Independent Organizations

The best organized and most broadly appealing among these is the Washington-headquartered American Islamic Congress (AIC). Founded as a civil rights and dialogue group several months after 9/11, the AIC encourages Muslim self-criticism alongside promotion of a tranquil and deeply spiritual Islam. Unique among Islamic groups in America, the organization has boldly addressed “dirty laundry” issues in the community, such as urging dialogue with Bahais and Sikhs, historically targets of special hostility from Muslims for their post-Islamic beliefs; Muslim persecution of non-Muslim minorities in the Middle East; and the suppression of civil rights by Arab regimes. Unlike the establishment groups, AIC unequivocally condemns terrorism committed by Muslims, including against Israeli civilians.[53]

The AIC was cofounded and is currently directed by Zainab al-Suwaij, an Iraqi Shi’a from a prominent family who fled in 1991 after partaking in the failed uprising against Saddam. Its leadership is composed of young, idealistic Muslims from diverse backgrounds. In addition to its Washington office, it has large centers in Boston and Cairo, the latter serving as the base for its various Middle East operations. Suwaij has testified several times at congressional hearings and spoken at the Republican National Convention in 2004.[54]  Under her watch AIC has been active in advocating for Muslim women’s rights and reconstruction projects in Iraq. The group also launched a college- campus initiative, Project Nur, aiming for a “positive civic agenda” including interfaith dialogue, Muslim cultural events such as film festivals, and solidarity campaigns with Muslim dissidents living under dictatorships.[55] The project has reached tens of campuses and aims to provide a more pluralistic alternative to the conservative and controversy-laden Muslim Student Association.

Another recognized antiestablishment group is the Islamic Supreme Council of America (ISCA), headed by Lebanese-born Sufi cleric Sheikh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani.  Kabbani was among the first prominent Muslim figures to attack the moderate credentials of the Muslim establishment groups in America, labeling them as “Wahhabist” as early as 1999 and alleging that close to 80% of mosques in the United States were under the sway of radical thinking.[56] Sheikh Kabbani has met with White House officials and President Bush, lecturing on the dangers of Islamic extremism in America. Through the ISCA, Kabbani utilizes his solid religious qualifications to challenge CAIR and ISNA’s Islamic legitimacy, issuing fatwas that uniformly condemn suicide bombings and terrorism.[57]

The American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) was established in Phoenix, Arizona, in 2003 as a “Muslim think tank.” It is presided over by former navy lieutenant Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a child of Syrian immigrants, and publishes material on Islamic radicalism in America. Jasser has testified before Congress and spoken at Muslim-American panels.[58]  The Center for Islamic Pluralism (CIP), located in Washington, pursues a similar agenda. It is headed by journalist Stephen Suleyman Schwartz, who converted to a Sufi stream of Islam in 1997. His organization counters the “Wahhabist lobby” and other extremist Islamic forces in the United States, which he claims are mostly Saudi-funded, and most recently has garnered attention for opposing the “Cordoba House” mosque planned near Ground Zero, on the basis of being insensitive to the 9/11 victims’ families (as has the AIFD).[59]

A final group of this model is the Free Muslims Coalition, also located in Washington.  Founded in 2005 and run by Palestinian-American Kamal Nawash, the coalition gained national recognition for its 2005 March Against Terrorism, attended by over a thousand people.[60] It claims Sheikh Dr. Khaleel Mohammad, a California-based scholar of Islamic studies known for his maverick views, as its spiritual leader. He also serves as Canadian Muslim reformist Irshad Manji’s inspiration, and has singled out rampant Jew-hatred and conspiracy theories blaming others for their ills as serious problems plaguing contemporary Arab and Muslim thought and stifling self-improvement.[61]

Challenging Islamic Norms

In line with this grassroots political rebellion against the establishment’s harder-line policies, other Muslims have questioned Islamic roles within the confines of American openness.  In the spring of 2005, the liberal website-based organization Muslim WakeUp! and Progressive Muslim Union (now defunct) sponsored the first Friday service conducted by a woman, challenging a long-held Islamic ban on women-led prayers, at a cathedral in New York; several area mosques had rejected the proposal due to security concerns.

The female imam, African-American convert Amina Wadud, provoked great debate within American and international Muslim circles. Many Islamic scholars in America supported her move, arguing that it encouraged a needed discussion on religious mores, while a prominent Egyptian cleric said her actions were in accordance with one interpretation of shari’a law.[62]  Still, most highly-regarded scholars in the Middle East condemned Wadud as being seduced by Western feminism rather than influenced by Islamic teachings, with the Muslim Brotherhood cleric Yousef al-Qaradawi using his platform on Al Jazeera to label her a “heretic.”[63]

American Muslims with a homosexual orientation have been permitted to come public and foster debate on this highly sensitive issue, one mostly repressed in the Muslim world.  In 1998, Pakistani-American Faisal Alam organized a conference for gay and transgender Muslims, which culminated in the creation of an organization specifically for this constituency, Al-Fatiha. It developed into a national support group of several hundred members, empowering gay Muslims in unprecedented fashion.

Al-Fatiha drew a spotlight for marching in several San Francisco gay-pride parades, its members holding flags of various Muslim nations. The group has since expanded into other Western countries, and generated worldwide Muslim debate on the question of homosexuality in the modern era. Domestically, Al-Fatiha has formed alliances with the broader gay community. Alam has spoken at synagogues about the struggles gays face within Islam and encourages Jewish gay movements to stand by his organization.[64] Additionally, some independent mosques with a Sufi bent have also openly welcomed gay believers.[65]

A Daring Step Further: Renouncing the Faith

The aforementioned alternative movements strive to enhance Islam in America from within, seeing the problem rooted in the way Islam is interpreted by some Muslims rather than the religion itself. Some former Muslims within America’s protection have gone a step beyond, believing Islam at its core to be the problem, its basic values incompatible with the modern, democratic world. They argue that only with full secularization of Islam as a personal belief, rather than its current manifestation as a sort of social-political order, will the religion and adherents escape their many shortcomings in the contemporary world. Many holders of this paradigm have come to the United States precisely for its freedoms and values that they believe represent the polar opposite of the Muslim world. Several women are among its most ardent advocates. One in particular, Syrian-born psychiatrist Wafa Sultan, sparked a firestorm in Muslim circles worldwide when she renounced her belief in Islam on Al Jazeera and insisted that Islam is on the losing side of a war between “modernity and barbarism.”[66]

Sultan and other prominent ex-Muslim or secular-Muslim intellectuals spearheaded the 2007 Secular Islam Summit in Florida, sponsored in conjunction with the humanist Center for Inquiry. These intellectuals included Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born woman who is a former member of the Dutch parliament now residing in the United States; Nonie Darwish, an Egyptian-born convert to Christianity; and Ibn Warraq, pseudonym of an agnostic of Pakistani descent. From the gathering came the St. Petersburg Declaration, calling for Islam’s permanent renunciation of all violent and hateful teachings toward minorities and apostates, and likewise for ending the “Islamophobia” media campaign to present Muslims in the West as perpetual victims of intolerance and loathing, when in fact they are offered unprecedented opportunities to succeed.[67]

Many of the individuals have since been involved in launching the California-based group Former Muslims United. Founded in late 2009, it functions as the main organ for ex-Muslims in America to spread awareness about the intolerance for apostates in Islam, in some cases even in the United States, and lobbies for civil rights protection. This movement faces many uphill struggles, and its appeal to a broad segment of American Muslims seems doubtful. Sultan and Hirsi Ali have received numerous death threats, some from people in the United States, and Ibn Warraq needs the pseudonym to ensure his safety when visiting family in Pakistan.[68]

Nevertheless, the ex-Muslims’ astute observations and provocative questioning about the laggard state of Islam in many fields have influenced reformist-minded Muslims. Feminist Muslim scholar Asra Nomani, who criticizes Sultan’s blanket condemnation of her religion, was still impressed by her “willingness to express openly critical views on Islamic extremism that are widely shared but rarely aired by other Muslims…by so sharply voicing her beliefs, Sultan crystallizes the mission for the rest of us who want to take the slam out of Islam.”[69]

Jewish-Muslim Dialogue Efforts

Many of the Jewish communal organizations in America, varied in agendas and large in number, have tried to find common partners among the matrix of Muslim organizations and leaders, particularly in the post-9/11 and Second Intifada contexts. As fellow minorities in a Christian-majority nation with many common rituals as well as points of intense difference, it would seem natural for Muslims and Jews to build bridges wherever possible.

Over the past several decades, initiatives have been launched that highlight the common religious and cultural heritage of the two, as well as appealing to mutual interests such as hate-crimes legislation and support for faith-based education. Nevertheless, the Muslim organizations’ own sharp differences with each other have made it all the more difficult for Jewish groups to find a counterpart whom they feel speaks for a consensus or at least sizable portion of Muslims in America. Moreover, the profound differences over Israel’s policies – and often its very existence – as well many Jewish groups’ concerns over many established Muslim groups’ anti-Semitic rhetoric and ties to terrorists, have made it difficult to sustain national-level Jewish-Muslim dialogue efforts up to the present.

Contacts between Jewish and Muslim groups began as early as the 1960s at the local level, truly blossoming in the 1980s as several Muslim groups established themselves in the political arena and found Jewish counterparts willing to talk to them. Generally, the better-funded Jewish organizations reached out to Muslims, whose priorities were oriented to community needs and financial means more limited. Muslims began visiting synagogues and Jews went to mosques in many icebreaker discussions.

Political events in the Middle East affected dialogue throughout the 1990s; the First Intifada discouraged domestic dialogue whereas the Oslo process enabled an expansion of contacts. The Jewish support was based on a combination of the tradition of reaching out to other religions in America’s heterogeneous religious scene and a pragmatic strategy to cultivate good ties with a growing group that could wield increased political clout in the coming generations. Muslims committed to the dialogue sought to win the trust of an influential minority and learn about their successful strategies in community institution-building and lobbying, not to mention their economic success. And perhaps as a lesser but nevertheless important calculus, the two sides felt that breaking down stereotypes and building trust could mitigate problems between the religions’ adherents in the Middle East and serve as a positive example to other Jewish and Muslim diasporas.[70]

National-Level Engagements

Two broad, nationwide Jewish-Muslim dialogues have been attempted in the post-9/11 climate. The more far-reaching and so far more successful of the two has been between the Islamic Society of North America and the 1.5-million-strong Union for Reform Judaism (URJ). The Reform movement’s president Rabbi Eric Yoffie became the first Jewish leader to address a major Muslim American organization, speaking at the 2007 ISNA annual conference.

He received a standing ovation as he blasted the “ignorance” that many Americans had about Muslims and the Islamic faith, including some Jews, while urging the two sides to unite internationally around a two-state solution in the Middle East and domestically in opposing the Bush administration’s curbing of civil liberties.[71] The URJ reciprocated a few months later by hosting then-ISNA president Ingrid Mattson as a keynote speaker at its biennial conference, where she denounced Muslim Holocaust deniers and said her organization was committed to “reclaiming Islam from the terrorists and extremists.”  Mattson and Yoffie drew out plans to twin ten mosques and synagogues across the country.[72] Afterward they developed the Children of Abraham project, a standard guidebook for conducting interfaith discussions.[73]

A second major endeavor has been undertaken by the New York-based Orthodox rabbi Marc Schneier, chairman of the American division of the World Jewish Congress and co-head of the black-Jewish dialogue group, the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding (FFEU). Schneier hoped to build on his successful outreach model with African Americans, engaging imams from New York City mosques and pairing them with synagogues. From the start, a centerpiece of his campaign called for Jews to take the lead in fighting Islamophobia, which to this day he always mentions in the same sentence as anti-Semitism and seems to perceive the two as inherently linked and equal in scope. He also insists that Israel and the Palestinians not be discussed at the start, as this political topic would only open emotional wounds in a fundamentally cross-religious dialogue.

In 2006 the rabbi invited the leader of New York’s Islamic Cultural Center, Imam Omar Abu Namous, to speak at his synagogue in Manhattan. But the event, geared toward creating an environment of trust, quickly shattered as the imam vented his anger at a plethora of Israeli policies, as well as suggesting a one-state solution.[74]

Rabbi Schneier was undeterred by the initial rough start, insisting that Muslims’ power is on the rise and co-opting them is beneficial for the future of American Jewry. In 2008 the rabbi found a partner in Abu Namous’s more moderate successor, Indonesian-born imam Shamsi Ali. The imam earned approval from the Jewish side for his unequivocal denunciation of Islamic extremism and Muslim-led anti-Semitism, and for encouraging non-Muslims to come to his mosque and ask questions. He furthermore repaired the reputation of the Cultural Center itself, whose imam preceding Abu Namous, Egyptian-born Muhammad al-Gameia, returned to Cairo after 9/11 and accused Jews of conducting the attacks.[75]

Ali and Schneier followed the Yoffie-Mattson model by organizing an annual “Weekend of Twinning,” where over forty synagogues and mosques across North America participate in joint community service and bridge-building projects. It has since expanded to include houses of worship in Europe.[76] [77]

Reactions to the Dialogues

These two primary efforts contributed to the ongoing internal debate within American Jewry about dialogue with Muslims, with which organizations they should partner and on what issues should the discussion be centered. The ADL, often active in Jewish dialogue with minority-rights groups, has argued that on the Muslim establishment side there is still “no one to talk to.” ADL national director Abraham H. Foxman disagrees with Schneier’s sidelining of the “sensitive” Israel issue, maintaining that Muslim groups must recognize Israel’s right to exist and condemn both anti-Semitism in the Arab world and ideological Islamic terrorism.[78]

The AJC opposed Rabbi Yoffie’s speaking at the 2007 ISNA convention, with David Harris describing the organization as a “discredited group eager for mainstream recognition.”[79] The AJC has not budged in its longstanding policy of refusing to cooperate with the Muslim umbrella organization.[80] Both ADL and AJC are very keen on noting that they do not oppose dialogue in principle and have vociferously condemned anti-Muslim attitudes and violence in the past; AJC has worked with the grassroots Muslim organizations.

The leading domestic policy group Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) is more optimistic, promoting a resolution in 2009 in support of building alliances with Muslims at all levels, and highlighting the example of Rabbi Schneier as an encouraging start. A solid majority of affiliated Jewish organizations supported the bill, and argued that common domestic issues – referring to a Gallup poll that showed Jews and Muslims to hold similar voting patterns – could be the basis for common ground.

A dissenting voice, led by the American Jewish Congress – now defunct – protested that vital issues of contention – especially Israel – were being glossed over and the moderation of potential Muslim partners not properly scrutinized.[81] Other Jewish observers disapprove of Schneier’s approach in equating Islamophobia with anti-Semitism, viewing it as a dishonest if not dangerous attempt to link two very different phenomena. Manfred Gerstenfeld explains, “Anti-Semitism has its origins in many centuries of religious and ethnic hate propaganda. Islamophobia derives not only from perceived aggression but also from actual violence supported by many in the world of Islam.”[82]

On the Muslim side, some countercurrent movements were also not impressed by the dialogues. The sentiment was most accurately reflected in a protest letter sent in January 2008, a month after Rabbi Yoffie hosted Mattson at the Reform biennial, by nine liberal Muslim intellectuals representing a half-dozen organizations to the Jewish Week.  The signatories condemned Yoffie for legitimizing ISNA, arguing that it is a “front group for Wahhabism…in which radicals are camouflaged as moderates.” They urged the URJ and other Jewish groups looking for dialogue to find “authentic moderates,” pointing to Sufi orders, independent mosques, and individual moderates.[83]

The AIC did not comment on either dialogue directly, and appears to view a solely Muslim-Jewish dialogue as too limiting for moderate Muslims to build bridges. A study of their guidebook reveals a much more honest look at points of contention with Jews, such as hostility to Israel and contemporary Islamic anti-Semitism, that mainstream groups are keen to downplay or avoid discussing altogether.[84] The AIC has also maintained its cooperation among a coalition of ethnoreligious groups under the AJC’s Center for American Pluralism, as the latter organization views AIC as sufficiently moderate.[85] Sheikh Kabbani of the ISCA also offered no comment on either dialogue but has quietly participated in his own engagement with a Bukharian synagogue in Queens, New York, aiming to show a true moderate face of Islam and stand united against extremist, Saudi-led Wahhabi Islam.[86]

The Ground Zero Mosque

Currently, the controversy surrounding the proposed mosque near Ground Zero in Manhattan has seeped into Muslim-Jewish relations. The three establishment Muslim groups are all strong supporters of the mosque. They chiefly invoke freedom of religion, and often emphasize that the mosque is in fact a community center modeled after Jewish and Christian venues.

Jewish groups initially remained neutral on the issue, but the ADL broke ranks by declaring its opposition to the mosque in July, for the sake of the 9/11 victims’ families.  While carefully noting its support for building mosques in principle, Foxman argued that the location so close to the site of the attacks would be wrong, comparing it to his organization’s opposition to a proposed Catholic convent near Auschwitz in the 1980s.  A few days later, the AJC and the locally powerful Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY) offered conditional support for the project, urging the Cordoba Initiative to reveal the source of its funding and its initiator Imam Feisal Rauf to condemn Islamic radicalism. J Street has led Jewish groups that unconditionally back the plan, suggesting that opposing the project will play into the hands of Islamic extremists who preach that America is anti-Islamic at its core, and would be a double standard for American religious tolerance.[87]

Polls have shown a slight majority of Jews – 55% – opposing the project, though this figure is lower than the 68% nationwide disapproval rate.[88] As mentioned earlier, some of the smaller nonestablishment Muslim groups are questioning the wisdom of building the large mosque/community center so close to Ground Zero on one count, and criticize Imam Rauf’s background on another.[89] Rauf has already come under scrutiny nationally by various commentators and politicians over his alleged sympathies for Hamas and questionable moderateness. He is alleged to say one thing to a Western audience and something quite the opposite to listeners in the Muslim world.

The Jewish diversity of opinion over the planned mosque has mirrored an intensifying nationwide debate. Some critics of the project have displayed overt anti-Muslim bigotry more than simple opposition to the one issue, a sentiment captured by one Florida-based Christian pastor’s call to burn the Qur’an. Jewish supporters and opponents alike have been disturbed by this trend, which some populist politicians have latched onto, with the opponents especially keen to distance themselves from the outright anti-Islam voices.

In September the ADL formed a partnership to assist Muslims in building mosques. This was aimed at countering the widespread criticism it received for its position on the New York center. A few days later a coalition of rabbis from across the spectrum and Jewish community councils, led by David Saperstein of Reform’s Religious Action Center, attended a summit with ISNA where leaders pledged to work with Muslims to “denounce categorically the derision, misinformation and outright bigotry being directed against America’s Muslim community.”[90]

Nevertheless, considerable debate lingers as to what role American Jewry should play in assisting Muslims, and how this anti-Islam trend should be regarded. Some figures such as historian Jonathan Sarna see it in the historical context of occasional waves of nativist American hostility to religious minorities, such as Catholics in the late 1800s. Others such as AJC’s David Harris find Islamophobia to be confined to “pockets of hatred” rather than “sweeping the nation,” and note statistically that Jews are still more frequent targets of hate crimes than Muslims, suggesting the threat is exaggerated.[91] The headlines-grabbing issue of the mosque has a long road ahead, and will undoubtedly influence the course of Jewish-Muslim relations for the foreseeable future; it has already injected apprehension into the annual FFEU mosque-synagogue twinning, leading one Jewish congregation to cancel its engagement altogether.[92]

Simpler Interfaith, Locally Produced

At the local level, the smaller-scale Muslim-Jewish joint initiatives have held together more consistently. In essence, a local setting means concrete civic causes and more frequent day-to-day contact, which offer the potential to more easily unite the two communities than at the national level. One fairly successful example includes the Baltimore Jewish Council’s ongoing dialogue with the Maryland Muslim Council, which has carefully avoided discussion of Israel and instead focused on shared local concerns.[93] Another is Chicago’s Jewish Council on Urban Affairs, which has been running a wide-ranging Community Building Initiative with Muslim groups for almost a decade.[94]

San Francisco’s Bay Area is home to a national organization, Abraham’s Vision, that focuses mostly on local projects. Dedicated to conflict resolution between Muslims and Jews, this organization addresses the Israeli-Palestinian conundrum head-on, providing a comfortable atmosphere for its target youth audience to discuss this divisive issue and learn about the “other side’s” perspective. Abraham’s Vision pioneered a yearlong interaction program for Jewish and Muslim high schools that began in New York in 2005, but now is just active in the Bay Area. Its flagship endeavor, a ten-month-long conflict-resolution trip for Palestinian and Jewish – both American and Israeli – college students in the Balkan countries and follow-up during the academic year, has run continuously since 2006 and graduated over seventy participants.[95]

As a mecca for progressive activism on the West Coast, Los Angeles has unsurprisingly maintained several running dialogues. The family of murdered Jewish journalist Daniel Pearl created an LA-based foundation in his memory in 2003, featuring a Dialogue for Jewish-Muslim Understanding that his father Judea started with former Pakistani ambassador Akbar Ahmed. What began as a conversation between the two about religious similarities blossomed into an international phenomenon of “town hall-style dialogues” between Jews and Muslims to hear each other’s perspectives and develop common bonds.[96]

The Muslim establishment groups, too, have been more successful in and near the City of Angels. MPAC’s LA headquarters has been partnered with the Jewish Progressive Alliance in a “New Ground” dialogue that brings Jewish and Muslim professionals together for face-to-face discussions, including on the Israeli-Palestinian impasse.[97] Far removed from Washington, CAIR has conducted dialogues with Jewish congregations in nearby San Diego and “peace walks” in the neighboring state of Arizona.[98] The University of Southern California, also located in Los Angeles, has pioneered a Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement, in conjunction with the local campus of Hebrew Union College and the Muslim social-services provider Ibn Khattab Foundation. The center serves as a resource database for interfaith dialogues and systematizes interfaith program development, training advocates to navigate the potentially tenuous atmosphere of Jewish-Muslim relations. It released a study in 2009 on the quantity and quality of initiatives in the United States, revealing that most dialogues have been formed after 9/11 and only a minority focused on political issues, the majority covering religious and social subjects of shared interest.[99]  

Anti-Semitic Trends: Campus Hostility and Physical Violence

The general state of relations between Muslims and Jews in the United States is much more placid than that between their counterparts in European countries, as a result of several dynamics. Muslims are better integrated in mainstream society, more educated, and economically more successful than their brethren across the Atlantic, as well as less ethnically homogeneous. Jews are more numerous than Muslims, a phenomenon unique to America among Western countries; this strength-in-numbers factor has strong psychological underpinnings.

The more active network of dialogue and interfaith outreach and the nonhomogeneous composition of America may also serve to prevent the widespread emergence of an “us vs. them” mentality among Muslims toward Jews and the Christian majority, as has developed overseas. Unlike in many European cities, religious Jews can comfortably wear their skullcaps in public and not worry about harassment or assaults. Nevertheless, certain trends among Muslim Americans in their attitudes toward Jews have been worrisome and draw parallels to Europe.

The MSA and University Radicalism

The Muslim Student Association (MSA), a founder of the ISNA, sends ambivalent messages about its moderation. On many campuses it engages in dialogue with other religious groups and participates in interfaith panels, as illustrated on various chapters’ websites.[100] At some universities it even has even cosponsored events with Jewish student groups. Nationally, it has condemned terrorist attacks committed by Muslims, though it often conditions this with the need for more mutual understanding and bridge-building activities with other religions.[101] Yet past leaders at MSA chapters have tarnished its perception as moderate and nonviolent. Beneath the surface the organization has a radical background, and some of its members have been accomplices to terrorism.

The national leadership endorsed the writings of radical thinker Ibn al-Wahhab – a source of inspiration for many contemporary jihadis – in the 1980s and was listed as an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood in a 1991 internal memorandum. The cofounder of the Rutgers branch helped plot the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.[102] A past MSA president at Montgomery College near Washington was convicted in 2006 of financing the Pakistani terror group Lashkar e-Taiba and of involvement in the Virginia Jihad Network that plotted to attack American troops in Afghanistan.[103] American-born Al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who has recently captured headlines for inspiring Western-born Muslims to commit jihad attacks, served as president of the Colorado State chapter in the 1990s and as an assistant chaplain for the George Washington University MSA in 2000; he was a proven associate of the Fort Hood shooter.[104] [105]

American-born Al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki served as president of the Colorado State chapter in the 1990s and as an assistant chaplain for the George Washington University MSA in 2000; he had close relationships with several 9/11 hijackers and praised subsequent jihadist attacks

Within this same context, certain campus chapters today are leading the helm in a vicious Israel delegitimization and demonization campaign, which gathered steam after the Second Intifada erupted in 2000. On some campuses, the MSA’s annual Islam Awareness Week campaigns have included anti-Semitic speakers, adversely affecting Jewish students’ wellbeing. The Muslim Student Union (MSU) at the University of California-Irvine, an affiliate of the national MSA, is a frightening case in point for a hotbed of anti-Semitism, with speakers routinely comparing Israel with Nazi Germany and inciting violence against Israelis.

Every spring for the past few years, the chapter has organized a Palestine Awareness Week featuring a hodgepodge of far-left activists, Neturei Karta advocates, and radical Islamist imams venting anti-Israel hate, with programs titled “From Auschwitz to Gaza: The Politics of Genocide” and “Never Again? Palestinian Holocaust.” One particular imam, Amir Abdul Malik Ali, regular speaks at these events and is quite open in his disregard for distinguishing anti-Zionism from anti-Semitism. His speeches have included diatribes about Jewish control of the U.S. media – wrongfully identifying Fox News CEO Rupert Murdoch as Jewish – Jews working to suppress black Americans’ civil rights, and praise for Hizballah, Hamas, and “martyrdom” in general. In one such lecture he proclaimed, “We will fight you until we are either martyred or we are victorious…. It’s about time that they [Israelis] live in fear.”

Another frequent invited speaker, the Washington-based cleric Muhammad al-Asi, regularly blames the “Zionists” for pushing America to invade Iraq and now insists that the “pro-Zionist Israeli crowd” is egging on an American war on Iran.[106]

Other California campuses are also incubators of Muslim radicalism. In 2000 the MSA president at UCLA led a rally in front of the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles chanting “Victory to Islam…death to the Jews!”[107] At UC-Berkeley, MSA activists posted anti-Semitic fliers about “Jewish Talmudic racism” against non-Jews and members of the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) interrupted a Holocaust Memorial Day ceremony in 2002.  Most grotesque was a San Francisco State rally titled “Genocide in the 21st Century” where posters depicted Palestinian babies being slaughtered “according to Jewish Rites under American license.”[108]

Various chapters in California have also promoted university divestment from Israel and disrupted pro-Israel speakers. In other parts of the country the MSA has been involved in organizing events for the now-annual Israel Apartheid Week. In one instance, violence surfaced: at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, MSA members physically assaulted a Jewish student for taking down a Palestinian flag at an Israeli Independence Day celebration.[109]

Attitudes Transformed into Violence

Of lesser frequency but equal concern are physical attacks by Muslims against Jews for ideological reasons, which have occurred sporadically over the past two decades. These assaults have been carried out almost exclusively by assimilated individuals with no past record of militancy, rather than committed members of coherent terrorist organizations.  But like the organized terrorists, the attackers display a strong ideological zeal and sense of Muslim outrage, and see the Jews as collectively guilty for supposed injustices.

This trend can be classified as part of a wider phenomenon of Muslims born and bred in America attacking fellow citizens in their ideological rage over certain government policies. The U.S. military in particular has been hit by several of these homegrown jihadi assaults, such as Sergeant Hasan Akbar’s 2003 murder of two fellow soldiers on base in Kuwait at the beginning of the Iraq War[110] and Nidal Hassan’s 2009 massacre of comrades at Fort Hood, Texas.[111] Ordinary civilians have also been targeted, as naturalized citizen Faisal Shahzad’s foiled Times Square bombing demonstrates. In Shahzad’s sentencing he insisted his loyalty to Islam as a “soldier” stood above his oath of allegiance to the United States when becoming an American, commenting about that pledge, “I did swear but I did not mean it.”[112]

The aggressors often strike against Jews when tensions run high in the Middle East. In 1994, a week after the Baruch Goldstein massacre in Hebron, a Lebanese American shot at a van full of Hasidic children on the Brooklyn Bridge, killing one.[113] In 2002, as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict raged, an Egyptian American attacked El Al’s ticket counter at the Los Angeles airport, leaving two dead.[114]  Four years later, while Israel battled Hizballah, a Pakistani American in Seattle took a teenage girl hostage to gain entry to the Jewish Federation building, whereby he murdered a woman and injured several others.[115]  Other Jews have been killed by extremist Muslims without relation to events overseas; one Saudi national who underwent a “religious awakening” beheaded his Jewish friend in Houston in 2003.[116]

Federal authorities have thwarted scores of other attacks against Jewish targets. In one chilling example, a Palestinian immigrant was convicted of planning to bomb a New York subway line in Borough Park in 1997, giving his motivation as: “there are a lot of Jews that ride that train.”[117] In 2005 four Muslims were indicted for plotting to attack the Israeli consulate in Los Angeles, as well as synagogues.[118] Last year the FBI arrested four Muslim converts who had planned to attack synagogues in the Bronx.[119] Plots such as these have led many synagogues and Jewish community centers to increase their focus on security, with some taking measures such as installing twenty-four-hour surveillance and employing security guards.

European Extremist Replicas: Jihadi Groups and Hate Rallies

Another threat comes from domestic Al-Qaeda-supporting jihadi groups, who openly promote violence against and hatred of Jews. Communicating mainly through internet forums and staging incendiary public rallies, they see Muslims as being in a permanent state of war with the kufaar (infidels), of which Jews are among the most sinister enemies, in addition to calling for the transformation of America into an Islamic state under shari’a law. Logically, this movement condemns any Muslim participation in the American political process and integration into the greater society and culture. New York is home to two such groups, both based in Queens, which follow the model of the now-banned, rabidly anti-Semitic British movement Al Muhajiroun.

The Islamic Thinkers Society (ITS), founded in 2005, has protested the past few years at the annual Israel Day Parade and in front of the Israeli consulate in New York with slogans such as, “Israeli Zionists you shall pay! The Wrath of Allah is on its way! The mushroom cloud is on its way! The real Holocaust is on its way!”[120] and signs such as “Close Guantanamo, Reopen Auschwitz.”[121] The other group, Revolution Muslim (RM), has many of the same members as IST and often appears alongside it at hate rallies. RM was cofounded by a former Orthodox Jew converted to Islam, Yousef al-Khattab (born Joseph Cohen).  Its members host an active online discussion group that has included incitement to kill Jews.

The two groups have yet to commit actual violence against Jews, but in the summer of 2010 two RM members were arrested en route to Somalia planning to kill American troops there. One of the suspects had attended ITS rallies with the sign “Exterminate the Zionist Roaches.”[122] The arrest has drawn enough attention to make ADL and other Jewish groups consider RM a serious threat.[123]

Terrorism scholar Mia Bloom warns that while RM and other likeminded homegrown pro-Bin Laden outfits may themselves eschew violence, they undoubtedly constitute a gateway for violent Islamists to begin their radicalization process, as some will move on to actual terrorist groups. The nature of RM’s verbal threats against synagogues and other Jewish places has also led New York police to investigate some of its members.[124]

Recent demonstrations against Israel have also featured increasingly anti-Semitic hate rhetoric. At one rally in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in December 2008 during the Gaza War, a headscarf-clad woman was recorded on film telling Jews to “go back to the ovens. You need a big oven, that’s what you need.” Local police had to prevent the anti-Israel marchers from clashing with Israel supporters.[125] In other American cities, observers of Gaza protests reported similar anti-Semitic sentiment from demonstrators. In Washington and Cleveland, Muslims chanted the “Khaybar” battle cry reminding Jews of a seventh- century massacre by Muhammad’s armies, and in San Francisco chanters assaulted an Israel supporter while others held signs equating Israel with Nazism.[126] At several events, Muslims interrupted their protests to pray in public. Foxman commented on this disturbing trend, reflecting a sentiment shared by all in the Jewish communal world, “We’re worried because hate speech eventually leads to pain and suffering and death.”[127]

Conclusion

The Muslim community in America is unique among those in the West, being the most diverse, economically well off, individualistic, and deeply integrated into their new society. The attitudes held by the collective are complex and difficult to summarize. On one hand, the mainstream advocacy organizations display traces of radicalism and a victimhood  narrative typically found in Muslim countries, but on the other, a genuine moderate current exists that strives to challenge existing Islamic mores and forge an Islam balanced between tradition and modernity. The future trends for American Islam are difficult to predict but will undoubtedly be influenced by events within the United States and the Muslim world. Still, the circumstances within which American Muslims operate offer the most potential among any Western community for sustainable moderate, tolerant strands of Islam to develop.

The battle for the soul of Islam in America, for which organizations and movements will speak in the name of the people who practice the religion, will continue, fought peacefully in the American tradition of civil debate. Questions ensue over whether the small, moderate groups can extend beyond the shadow of a single strong leader and truly encompass a sizable cadre of Muslim supporters across the country, or perhaps unite together around an issue or general outlook. For now, the three main groups and their more extreme posturing have a dominant grip on the American-Muslim policymaking scene and intellectual discourse; still, the dissenting voices should not be underestimated.  Likewise, the speedy rise and fall of the former fourth major group illustrates the vulnerability of any organization, no matter how entrenched it seems.

Since America’s Muslim citizens offer more hope for peaceful coexistence than any other Muslim community in the West, dialogue with Jews is bound to hold promise. The local level is the most encouraging, as common civic issues are easier to unify around.  The broad strategic national endeavors will prove harder to maintain, so long as the mainstream Muslim groups are tarnished with extremist affinities and the issue of Israel divides the sides. Muslims will continue to interact with Jews in business and community settings, as the openness of America and nonghettoized residences of the two peoples will naturally encourage such encounters. One hopes that these normalized encounters will erase stereotypes and lead to other positive developments.

Still, the Muslim collective is not immune from the extremism found in European countries. One of the most striking lessons to be drawn is that more societal acceptance and prosperity does not necessarily translate into more liberal attitudes. The realities of the Seattle Federation attack and Fort Hood shootings demonstrate that transnational, violent Islamist sentiment can rear its head even in accepting America among seemingly assimilated Muslims. Although a solid majority of American Muslims eschew violence and jihadi mindsets, the confrontational, European-imitation groups have sprung up and appeal to some American Muslims. This will worry American Jewry for decades to come, following a pattern in other Diaspora Jewish communities.

Intertwined with all the above issues are the implications of the community’s growing population. Currently, it is estimated to number just under three million, but it is expanding for the foreseeable future. With high birthrates, conversions, and continued immigration, American Muslims will increase by several million over the next decade or two. How this will translate into political clout in Washington and influence in society is a difficult question to answer.

Will the increased size give the mainstream groups more confidence and encourage them to radicalize their positions and demands? Or will the growth translate into greater diversity and bolster the existing moderate groups or spur the creation of newer, if not more effective ones? How will international developments and trends, such as the decline of oil revenues in Arab Muslim nations, correlate with the power of American-based Islamic organizations? Will the freedom of and from religion in America result in more Muslims ultimately secularizing and assimilating, as has happened on a grand scale with Jews?  If so, how should the Jewish community relate to it? Will the future bring more confrontation as the larger Muslim constituency senses strength in numbers, or will it create greater opportunities for them to learn from the more established Jews or even set an example for Muslims worldwide in interacting with the “People of the Book”?

The Muslim experience with the American “melting pot” is a story still being written.  The country offers more promise for Muslims to keep their faith securely and yet advance themselves based on merit than any other land, arguably even more so than Muslim countries. Yet the contemporary world is highly interconnected, with ideas traveling instantaneously through cyberspace and one cleric’s appeal or events in one place able to capture hearts and minds among others living on another continent. Many factors over the next few decades will indicate where Islam in America is heading and whether American Muslims can on the whole successfully integrate, as have scores of ethnicities and religions beforehand. The Jewish community needs to keep a close eye on the ensuing developments and respond wisely in a clear, strategic fashion.

*          *          *

Notes

[1] Thomas A. Tweed, “Islam in America: From African Slaves to Malcolm X,” National Humanities Center, University of North Carolina, 17 December 2003.  http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/tserve/twenty/tkeyinfo/islam.htm [Accessed 3 October 2010]

[2] “Religion: Ramadan,” Time Magazine, 15 April 1937. www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,758343,00.html

[3] Amir Muhammad, “Collection & Stories of American Muslims: the 1900s,” CSAM website, 2005. www.muslimsinamerica.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=12&Itemid=30

[4] Khalid Duran and Daniel Pipes, “Muslim Immigrants in the United States,” Backgrounder, Center for Immigration Studies, Washington, DC, 2002, 1-3.

[5]  Ihsan Bagby, Paul M. Perl, and Bryan T. Froehl, “The Mosque in America: A National Portrait,” Council on American-Islamic Relations, Washington, DC, 2002, 1-3.

[6] Teresa Watanabe, “Private Studies Fuel Debate Over Size of U.S. Muslim Population,” Los Angeles Times, 21 October 2001.

[7] Gustav Niebuhr, “Studies Suggest Lower Count for Number of U.S. Muslims,” New York Times, 25 October 2001.

[8] “Mapping the Global Muslim Population,” Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, Pew Research Center, Washington, DC, 2009, 25, 33.

[9] Daniel Pipes, “How Many U.S. Muslims?” New York Post, 29 October 2001.

[10] Bill Broadway, “Number of U.S. Muslims Depends on Who’s Counting,” Washington Post, 24 October 2001.

[11] “Mapping the Global Muslim Population,” Appendix A: Methodology for Muslim Population Estimates, Pew Research Center, 2007, 42.

[12] Associated Press, “Farrakhan Steps Down as Nation of Islam Leader,” Taipei Times, 24 September 2006.

[13] “Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream,” Pew Research Center, 2007, 18-20.

[14] Bobby Ghosh, “Does America Have a Muslim Problem?” Time, 19 August 2010, 14-18.

[15] Judith Cebula, “Second Muslim Elected to Congress,” Reuters, 11 March 2008.

[16] Newsweek website, www.newsweek.com/authors/fareed-zakaria.html [Accessed 2 October 2010]

[17] Susan Morrisey, “Cover Story: Elias Zerhouni,” Chemical & Engineering News, 3 July 2006.

[18] “Is Miss USA a Muslim Trailblazer?” This Just In, CNN, 20 May 2010 (web).

[19] Joanna Corman, “Zaytuna College, First Muslim College in U.S., Opens in California,” Huffington Post, 24 August 2010.

[20] Laurie Goodstein, “US Muslim Clerics Seek a Modern Middle Ground,” New York Times, 18 June 2006.

[21] Stephen Schwartz, “The ‘Sufi’ Master of Deceit: Hamza Yusuf Hanson,” Accuracy in Media, 12 April 2007.

www.aim.org/guest-column/the-sufi-master-of-deceit-hamza-yusuf-hanson/ [Accessed 1 January 2011]

[22] “Survey of Iranian Americans,” Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian-Americans (PAAIA), October 2008, 24.

[23] A perusing of prominent Turkish American organizations’ websites, such as the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (www.ataa.org/), the Turkish Coalition of America (www.tc-america.org/), and the American-Turkish Council (www.the-atc.org/), reveals commitment only to issues affecting Turkish foreign policy and Turkish-American citizens, with virtually no focus on issues affecting the larger Muslim American community.

[24] The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), a conservative Muslim interest group, receives over ten thousand people at its annual convention and has nationwide offices. It is, however, mainly composed of South Asian Muslims and lacks the broad national Muslim agenda, and media and political influence, that truly mainstream organizations wield. Therefore, this and other ethnocentric organizations are excluded from this study.

[25] Cyril Glasse, The New Encyclopedia of Islam (Lanham; MD: Rowan & Littlefield, 2008), 251.

[26] ISNA website, http://www.isna.net/ [Accessed 22 July 2010]

[27] J. Michael Waller. Statement to the US Senate, Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology, and Homeland Security, 14 October 2003. http://kyl.senate.gov/legis_center/subdocs/101403_wallerl.pdf [Accessed 12 July 2003]

[28] Jake Tapper, “Islam’s Flawed Spokesmen,” Salon, 26 September 2001.

[29] MPAC website, “History: Highlights from 24 Years of Service.”

www.mpac.org/about/history.php  [Accessed 22 July 2010]

[30] “MPAC’s Flawed Prescription for Fighting Homegrown Terror,” IPT News, 18 December 2009.

www.investigativeproject.org/1583/mpacs-flawed-prescription-for-fighting-homegrown

[31] “ADL Report on CAIR,” 2 March 2010. www.adl.org/Israel/cair/default.asp [Accessed 21 July 2010]

[32] CAIR website,  http://www.cair.com/ [Accessed 22 July 2010]

[33] Daniel Pipes and Sharon Chadha, “CAIR: Islamists Fooling the Establishment,” Middle East Quarterly 13, 2 (2006): 3-20.

[34] Frank Gaffney, Jr., “The Truth About the AMC,” Fox News, 28 June 2002.

[35] Steven Emerson, “Friends of Hamas in the White House,” Wall Street Journal, 13 March 1996.

[36] Daniel Pipes, “American Muslim Council Founder Heads to Jail,” Capitalism Magazine, 5 August 2004. http://www.jcpa.org/System/For%20Copyediting/www.capitalismmagazine.com/index.php%3fnews=3824 [Accessed 27 July 2010]

[37] Ira Stoll, “Bye Alamoudi,” American Spectator, 23 October 2010.

[38] ISNA Main Program, “Nurturing Compassionate Communities: Connecting Faith and Service,” 2010 annual conference, Chicago, 2 July 2010.

http://www.jcpa.org/System/For%20Copyediting/www.isna.net/assets/conventions/2010/program/webisnaprogram.pdf  [Accessed 21 July 2010]

[39] Nathan Guttman, “Antisemitic Rant Causes Red Faces at Islamic Confab,” Forward, 24 July 2009.

[40] “ISNA Admits Hamas Ties,” IPT News, 25 July 2008.  www.investigativeproject.org/732/isna-admits-hamas-ties [Accessed 22 July 201]

[41] Investigative Project on Terrorism, “Apologists or Extremists: Salam Al-Marayati.”

http://www.jcpa.org/System/For%20Copyediting/www.investigativeproject.org/profile/114#_ftn14 [Accessed 22 July 2010]

[42] Muslim Public Affairs Council, “A Resource Toolkit on 60 Years of Palestinian Suffering (1948-2008).”

http://www.jcpa.org/System/For%20Copyediting/www.mpac.org/publications/60-Years-of-Suffering/60-Years-of-Palestinian-Suffering.pdf  [Accessed 22 July 2010]

[43] Larry Stammer, “After the Attack: Jewish-Muslim Dialogue Newly Tested,” Los Angeles Times, 22 September 2001.

[44] Steven Emerson, “Jihad in California,” FrontPage Magazine, 16 March 2004. Emerson’s article has detailed links and citations of all quotes issued by MPAC spokespeople or by individuals at MPAC-sponsored events.

http://97.74.65.51/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=14547 [Accessed 22 July 2010].

[45] Daniel Pipes, “MPAC, CAIR, and Praising Osama Bin Laden,” FrontPage Magazine, 1 June 2007.

http://97.74.65.51/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=26821 [Accessed 22 July 2010]

[46] Pipes and Chadha, “CAIR.”

[47] Mary Jacoby, “FBI Cuts Off CAIR over Hamas Questions,” IPT News, 29 January 2009.

www.investigativeproject.org/985/fbi-cuts-off-cair-over-hamas-questions [Accessed 26 July 2010]

[48] “ADL Report on CAIR,” 2 March 2010.

[49] Bridget Johnson, “Helen Thomas Receiving Lifetime Achievement Award from CAIR,” Blog, The Hill, 18 September 2010. http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/119595-helen-thomas-receiving-lifetime-achievement-award-from-cair  [Accessed 1 October 2010]

[50] Khalid Duran, “How CAIR Put My Life in Peril,” Middle East Quarterly 9, 1 (2002): 37-43.

[51] Nat Hentoff, “A Foreign Threat to a Scholar in America,” Jewish World Review, 10 July 2001. www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/hentoff071001.asp [Accessed 26 July 2010]

[52] Dean Murphy, “Jordanian Muslim Cleric Calls for Death of U.S. Author,” New York Times, 30 June 2001.

[53] AIC website, http://www.aicongress.org/ [Accessed 1 August 2010]

[54] Judy Aita, “Iraqi Addresses Republican Convention About New Freedom in Iraq,” Washington File (publication of State Department), 31 August 2004.

[55] Jana El Horr and Sana Saeed, “Campus Radicals: A New Student Group Tries to Rouse the Moderates,” Wall Street Journal, 20 June 2008.

[56] Tapper, “Islam’s Flawed Spokesmen.”

[57] ISCA website, http://www.islamicsupremecouncil.org/  [Accessed 1 August 2010]

[58] Zuhdi Jasser personal website, www.mzuhdijasser.com/about/  [Accessed 1 August 2010]

[59] Jeff Jacoby, “A Mosque at Ground Zero,” Boston Globe, 6 June 2010.

[60] Don Oldenburg, “Muslims’ Unheralded Messenger,” Washington Post, 13 May 2005.

[61] Free Muslim Coalition website, “Our Positions: Don’t Blame the ‘Jews.'” www.freemuslims.org/issues/dont-blame-jews.php   [Accessed 2 August 2010]

[62] Thomas Bartlett, “The Quiet Heretic,” Chronicle of Higher Education 51, 49 (2005): A10.

[63] Siti Nurbaiyah Nadzmi, “The Day I Met Amina Wadud,” New Straits Times, 19 February 2009.

[64] Hidden Voices: The Lives of LGBT Muslims, Wolfman Productions, dir. Faisal Alam, 2008.

[65] Neil MacFarquhar, “Gay Muslims Wrestle with God and Love,” New York Times, 7 November 2007.

[66] John Broder, “For Muslim Who Says Violence Destroys Islam, Violent Threats,” New York Times, 11 March 2006.

[67] Art Moore, “Muslims Issue Manifesto Against Radical Islam,” World Net Daily, 6 March 2007.

www.wnd.com/?pageId=40487 [Accessed 5 August 2010]

[68] Former Muslims United website, http://formermuslimsunited.americancommunityexchange.org/ [Accessed 12 August 2010]

[69] Asra Q. Nomani, “Wafa Sultan,” Time Magazine, 30 April 2006.

[70] Loskata Brie and Reuven Firestone, “Challenges in Jewish-Muslim Dialogue: The American Context,” in Muslim-Jewish Dialogue in the 21st Century World, Centre for Minority Studies, Royal Holloway University, 2007, 3-5.

[71] Marc Perelman, “Top Reform Rabbi Gives Watershed Address to Largest U.S. Muslim Group,” Forward, 5 September 2007.

[72] Ben Harris, “Biennial Notebook: Shabbat Plug, Debbie Friedman,” Jewish Telegraph Agency, 16 December 2007.

[73] ISNA website, “Children of Abraham: Muslims and Jews in Conversation.” www.isna.net/Interfaith/pages/Children-of-Abraham.aspx [Accessed 9 August 2010]

[74] Daphna Berman,  “He’s Got One Foot in His Shul, the Other in a Hip Hop Club,” Haaretz, 10 October 2007.

[75] Chine Labbe and Mahawash Rezvi, “New York’s Imam is on a Mission,” Huffington Post, 21 April 2010.

[76] The Foundation for Ethnic Understanding’s website has a full section with materials related to the initial “Weekend of Twinning,” see the main page. https://www.ffeu.org/article_twinning.htm [Accessed 10 August 2010]

[77] Imam Mohammad Shamsi Ali and Rabbi Marc Schneier, “Jews, Muslims Can Defeat Common Enemies,” Guest Voices Blog, Washington Post, January 2010. http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/guestvoices/2010/01/jews_muslims_can_defeat_common_enemies.html

[78] Abraham Foxman, “Dialogue With Muslims: Reality or Pipe Dream?”  Jewish Week, 17 October 2006.

[79] Perelman, “Top Reform Rabbi.”

[80] Ron Kampeas, “Jewish Positions on Ground Zero Mosque Reveal Ambivalence,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 3 August 2010.

[81] Nathan Guttman, “JCPA Approves Effort to Build Dialogue With Muslim Groups,” Forward, 13 March 2009.

[82] Manfred Gerstenfeld, “Persecutors and Persecuted,” Jerusalem Post, 17 December 2007.

[83] Nawab Agha et al., “Attention Rabbi Yoffie: Please Speak to Moderate Muslims,” Jewish Week, 2 January 2008.

[84] See the Islamic American Congress’s “A New Guide to Interfaith Dialogue” brochure, www.aicongress.org/prog/interfaith_guide.pdf, which demonstrates a broader focus than on Jews, emphasizing multifaith engagements.

[85] American Jewish Committee website, “Intergroup: About Us.” www.ajc.org/site/c.ijITI2PHKoG/b.4330789/k.8B84/Interethnic.htm [Accessed 11 August 2010]

[86] Walter Ruby, “Into the Breach,” Jewish Week, 3 December 2004.

[87] Josh Nathan-Kazis, “Jewish Leaders Enter Fray Over Islamic Center Near Ground Zero,” Forward, 4 August 2010.

[88] James Besser, “Mosque Conflict Seen Sharpening Jewish Divisions,” Jewish Week, 15  September 2010.

[89] Steven Emerson, “Muslim Opposition to Ground Zero Mosque Grows,” Newsmax, 26 August 2010. www.newsmax.com/Emerson/muslimgroundzeromosque/2010/08/26/id/368449 [Accessed 12 October 2010]

[90] Sue Fishkoff, “Jewish Groups Step Up Efforts to Combat Anti-Muslim Bigotry,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 7 September 2010.

[91] Besser “Mosque Conflict.”

[92] Steve Lipman,  “Jewish-Muslim Pairings Face Toughest Test,” Jewish Week, 21 September 2010.

[93] Brie and Firestone, “Challenges,” 9, 14, 21.

[94] Elizabeth Tenety, “Chicago Jews and Muslims Work to Find Common Ground,” Medil Reports, 14 February 2008.

[95] Abraham’s Vision website, www.abrahamsvision.org/ [Accessed 2 September 2010]

[96] Akbar Ahmed and Judea Pearl, “Carving the Path for Muslim-Jewish Dialogue,” Common Ground News Service, 19 January 2006.

[97] Marc Ballon, “Breaking New Ground: Jewish, Muslim Groups’ Program Encourages Leaders to See the ‘Other’ as Friend,” Los Angeles Jewish Journal, 18 January 2007.

[98] CAIR website, “Interfaith.” www.cair.com/AmericanMuslims/Interfaith.aspx [Accessed 22 August 2010]

[99] “US Muslim-Jewish Engagement Growing,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 30 May 2010.

[100] Examples of MSA campus websites surveyed include Vanderbilt University, http://studentorgs.vanderbilt.edu/msa/v2/ and University of Minnesota, www.sua.umn.edu/groups/directory/show.php?id=426 [All accessed 26 July 2010].

[101] MSA website, “MSA Condemns Fort Hood Shooting,” press release, 5 November 2009.

www.msanational.org/national/news/msa-condemns-fort-hood-shooting   [Accessed 26 July 2010]

[102] El Horr and Saeed, “Campus Radicals.”

[103] Jerry Markon, “Teacher Sentenced for Aiding Terrorists,” Washington Post, 26 August 2006.

[104] Scott Shane and Souad Mekhennet, “Imam’s Path From Condemning Terror to Preaching Jihad,” New York Times, 8 May 2010.

[105] Gabrielle Bluestone, “Times Square Suspect ‘Inspired’ by Former GW Graduate Student,” GW Hatchet, 10 May 2005.

[106] Anti-Defamation League,”Anti-Semitism at UC Irvine.” www.adl.org/main_Anti_Israel/Anti-Semitism+at+UC+Irvine.htm?Multi_page_sections=sHeading_1  [Accessed 5 September 2010]

[107] Anoynymous, “UCLA Sponsors of Terrorism,” FrontPage Magazine, 4 April 2003.

http://archive.frontpagemag.com/Printable.aspx?ArtId=18870 [Veracity of story confirmed by other students attending UCLA at the same time]

[108] Larry Greenfield, “The Rise of Campus Anti-Zionism in California,” In-Focus Quarterly, 2, 4 (2008).

[109] Annysa Johnson, “Jewish, Muslim Students Clash at UWM,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 30 April 2010.

[110] Manuel Roig-Franzia, “Army Soldier Is Convicted in Attack on Fellow Troops,” Washington Post,  22 April 2005.

[111] Peter Sanders and Yochi Drazen, “Shooter Likely Acted Alone,” Wall Street Journal, 9 November 2009.

[112] Aaron Katersky and Richard Espito, “Faisal Shahzad: ‘War With Muslims Has Just Begun,'” ABC News, 5 October 2010.

[113] Uriel Heilman, “Murder on the Brooklyn Bridge,” Middle East Quarterly, 8, 3 (2001): 29-37.

[114] “Justice, FBI: El Al Attack Was Terrorism,” CNN, 12 April 2003. http://edition.cnn.com/2003/US/West/04/12/airport.shooting/  [Accessed 14 September 2003]

[115] Phuong Cat Le et al., “Six Shot, One Killed at Seattle Jewish Federation,”  Seattle Post-Intelligence, 28 July 2006.

[116] Andrew Tilghman, “Saudi Pleads Guilty to Killing Jewish Friend in Houston,” Houston Chronicle, 12 January 2004.

[117] Joseph Fried, “Jury Convicts Man in Scheme to Set a Bomb in the Subway,” New York Times, 24 July 1998.

[118] “Four Men Indicted on Terrorism Charges Related to Conspiracy to Attack Military Facilities, Other Targets,” US Department of Justice, 31 August 2005.

www.usdoj.gov/opa/pr/2005/August/05_crm_453.html [Accessed 1 January 2011]

[119] Scott Shifrel, “Alleged Bronx Synagogue Plotters Caught on Tape Testing Shoulder-Launched Missile,” New York  Daily News, 7 September 2010.

[120] Lorenzo Vidinio, “Islamists’ Message to Israel at New York City Rally: ‘The mushroom cloud is on its way!'”Counterterrorism Blog, 21 April 2006, courtesy of the Investigative Project on Terrorism. www.investigativeproject.org/328/islamists-message-to-israel-at-new-york-city-rally [Accessed 16 September 2010]

[121] Islamist Thinkers Society YouTube page, “Islamic Thinkers Society Rally Against the Salute to Israel Parade 2009,” YouTube.com, 2 June 2009.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=RihrUxLIDI8 [Accessed 16 September 2010]

[122] Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister, “Arrested Men Attended Protests Organized by Radical Islamic Group,” CNN, 12 July 2010.

[123] The ADL has an entire section devoted to Revolution Muslim as part of its survey of anti-Semitic hate groups. www.adl.org/main_Terrorism/revolution_muslim.htm?Multi_page_sections=sHeading_1

[124] “U.S. Based Revolution Muslim Spreading Message of Hate,” Fox News,  26 March 2008.

[125] Joseph Abrams, “Protester Calls for Jews to ‘Go Back to the Oven’ at Anti-Israel Demonstration,” Fox News, 8 January 2009.

[126] Investigative Project on Terrorism, “Gaza War Protests or Pro-Hamas Hate Rallies?” IPT News, 14 January 2009.

[127] Abrams, “Protester.”

*     *     *

Noam Ivri, a fluent speaker of Arabic, earned a bachelor’s degree in international relations from the Elliott School at George Washington University. His concentration was on Middle East affairs and religion. He currently serves in the IDF’s Liaison Branch for Foreign Forces.

About Noam Ivri

Noam Ivri, a fluent Arabic speaker, earned a bachelor's degree in international relations from the Elliott School at George Washington University. He served in the IDF's Liaison Branch for Foreign Forces and is presently a researcher at CyberDissidents.org.