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ADL'S Abe Foxman denounces anti-mosque rally as 'un-American'

Adam Serwer of the American Prospect is guest blogging on The Plum Line this week.

Earlier this week, the Sept. 11 victims' families group "Where to Turn" sent out a letter expressing opposition to a planned Sept. 11, 2010 protest of the proposed Islamic community center near Ground Zero. "Such activities... disrespect the memories of our loved ones on this sacred day at this sacred site," read the letter, which was signed by the group's founder, Dennis McKeon, and posted on Politico.

Today, I spoke with Anti-Defamation League director Abe Foxman, who said he agreed with "Where to Turn" that the rally shouldn't take place. Among those slated to appear is Dutch MP Geert Wilders, whom the ADL has previously criticized for anti-Muslim bigotry. Foxman called the planned rally, and the recent incidents of anti-Muslim bigotry across the country, "un-American."

On the rally:

I would agree with [Where to Turn], this is not a place for political demonstrations, for advocacy, especially on 9/11. This is a place for memory, for families to be together, to memorialize their loved ones, [to have] a moment of reflection and introspection. For people with political agendas to use the place and the moment for their own interests and their own platforms is desecrating the memory and very sad. Especially if some of the families of the victims are asking, their view should be taken seriously and respected.

Foxman had some harsh words regarding the presence of Wilders, as well as for conservative blogger Pamela Geller and her group Stop Islamization of America, which is organizing the protest:

[Wilders] is a bigot, he's an anti-Muslim bigot, and one of the demonstrations being called for is being headed by someone who has an anti-Muslim agenda, often under the guise of fighting 'radical Islam.' The group vilifies Islamic faith and is engaged in [claiming] there's a conspiracy to destroy American values, which is nonsense. The organizer in fact has stated that part of her agenda is to help garner support for Wilders, who is a bigot, who has a long record of anti-Muslim bigotry.

Foxman also said he was concerned about other instances of anti-Muslim incidents around the country:

The debate surrounding the Ground Zero mosque has surfaced, first, a campaign which is in many places directed against building mosques, and it also has focused attention on the anti-Muslim bigotry that exists in this country. It's not new. It has been there. Part of the landscape, unfortunately, of America is that we're not immune to bigotry, to racism, to anti-Semitism. And part of what's out there is a bigotry to immigrants. Jews experienced it, Irish experienced it. Part of our history is there was opposition to building Catholic churches and Jewish synagogues. Now there's opposition to build mosques, and there is, in our landscape, bigotry.

Some of it is beneath the surface, and some of it in moments of crisis explodes. That's what we're seeing now. There seems to be a legitimacy that it's okay now to speak out and act out against Islam, and that's why this rally, on this very tragic day for Americans, but most tragic for those who lost their families, to use it and abuse it as a platform for bigotry, is not only tragic, it's un-American.

Foxman and the ADL came under criticism both from this blog and mine, for their position that the Cordoba Initiative should move the project from its current location, several blocks from Ground Zero, out of sensitivity to the families of the Sept. 11 victims. But the ADL has been the only high-profile opponent of the project so far that I've been able to find to also publicly acknowledge and condemn recent anti-Muslim incidents elsewhere.

According to SOIA's website, the rally is also supposed to feature John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and conservative activist Andrew Breitbart.

By Adam Serwer  |  September 1, 2010; 5:01 PM ET
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OK, so are you agreeing now with Foxman and the ADL that the Cordoba Initiative should move the project from its current location, several blocks from Ground Zero, out of sensitivity to the families of the Sept. 11 victims?

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 1, 2010 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Flip-floppin' Foxman.

Build the center already. Anyone who has a problem with it either knows nothing about NYC, is a bigot, or both.

Posted by: simpleton1 | September 1, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse


I'd MUCH MUCH rather see a post on the Middle East Peace Talks which STARTED *AHEM* TODAY!

OT, I'll be going on vacay till next week so probably won't be around here all that much. 'Till then! Keep the faith and be well! :)

Posted by: Ethan2010 | September 1, 2010 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Ethan - And safe passage to you!

Have fun.

Posted by: nisleib | September 1, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Fair enough Ethan. I was working on getting in touch with Foxman all day, I'll see what I can do tomorrow.

Posted by: Adam Serwer | September 1, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

The caselaw says that if there is a "Compelling Interest," the mosque can be banned.

1) The potential that the Mosque at Ground Zero can be used as a recruiting tool is a "Compelling interest."

2) The potential that the Mosque can be viewed as Victory Mosque - and thus a propaganda advantage for the radicals - that is a "Compelling Interest."

3) The fact that the mosque could incite violence - which is already HAS - is a "Compelling Interest"

the list can go on and on....

Obama went to law school - he knows what the caselaw says - his position is a complete joke

Obama is not properly defending this country - he wants to give the other side a propaganda tool for nothing.

This whole issue is a complete outrage - Bloomberg and Obama have nothing but shame on this issue - both should resign immediately.


Posted by: SaveTheRainforest | September 1, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

Party down, Ethan! No politics!

Posted by: wbgonne | September 1, 2010 5:50 PM | Report abuse

Ethan, safe travels. Bring us some gifts or at least a travel narrative.

Posted by: BGinCHI | September 1, 2010 5:55 PM | Report abuse

What? Here I was thinking I was gonna get to read some (more) dirt on Pammy!?! Ahh, well....just the same....she & Bolton will no doubt put on a show for everyone.

JakeD2 - He said no such thing. Get some new glasses.

SaveTheRainforest - Oh yea, your legal credentials speak for themselves. Don't sit by the phone waithing for that call from Cravath Swain & Moore.

Posted by: kindness1 | September 1, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Anyone know the difference, talent-wise, between John Bolton and Michael Bolton?

Posted by: BGinCHI | September 1, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

BG, I hear Michael Bolton's going to be on Dancing with the Stars if that tells you anything, LOL.

Have a nice vacation Ethan, I'm jealous, we can't get out of here until early Novemeber, ROAD TRIP !!!!!!!!!

Posted by: lmsinca | September 1, 2010 6:31 PM | Report abuse

"SaveTheRainforest - Oh yea, your legal credentials speak for themselves. Don't sit by the phone waithing for that call from Cravath Swain & Moore."

That's okay....yesterday he/she was playing the role of atmospheric scientist in order to downplay global warming.

Posted by: schrodingerscat | September 1, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

praying and praying ,,, what for??
religious leaders indoctrinating us to mass murder torture plunder rape
in the name of god
take your prayers out of the boundaries of mosques
and synagogues and cathedrals
pray before throwing sharia stones against women
pray before refusing to disclose the list of donors of
park51, all that cash.. god's gift?

Posted by: manittou | September 2, 2010 2:33 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: dseigler2 | September 2, 2010 8:26 AM | Report abuse


I graduated summa cum laude from Stanford Law School and practiced civil litigation for 35 years. What are YOUR legal credentials?

Posted by: JakeD2 | September 2, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse

"Anyone know the difference, talent-wise, between John Bolton and Michael Bolton?"

Both are very bad at their chosen work, but it's hard to compare such different endeavors. It's clear to any reasonable person that the retirement of both (or even either) would be a significant net plus for the world.

I'm fairly certain, on the other hand, that Michael isn't responsible for any unnecessary loss of human life.

Posted by: zimbar | September 2, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

[JakeD2: "OK, so are you agreeing now with Foxman and the ADL that the Cordoba Initiative should move the project from its current location, several blocks from Ground Zero, out of sensitivity to the families of the Sept. 11 victims?"]

My thoughts exactly. I'm confident Gellar, Spencer, would be perfectly willing to suspend their protest rally out of respect for "this sacred day at this sacred site." Provided (of course) that the stealth jihadists of Cordoba House reciprocated in kind and suspended their grotesque plans to erect a 13-story mega-mosque, 9/11 snuff porn vendor emporium and jihad recruitment pool party.


Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | September 2, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

So, now the Foxman has joined Pelosi and Bloomberg in threatening to silence the legitimate dissent, free speech and free assembly rights of SIOA.

I've been waiting patiently all month for the ACLU to denounce the “chilling effect” on the 1st Amendment exerted by this obvious attempt by powerful elected officials to intimidate the citizenry and inhibit them from freely expressing their dissent.

But it’s still early September, maybe they’re all still on summer vacation over at ACLU-HQ?

I’m sure the Bill of Rights purists will all be chiming in on this any time now, you betcha.

*crickets chirp*

Posted by: KaddafiDelendaEst | September 2, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

How can anyone support this mosque when the imam is a proven liar. He went to Maykaysia and told the Christians that they should not use the word Allah as it was insensitive to muslims. He has stated in writing that there is no need for inter faith dialogue as islam is above all religions. He is a tax cheat and a slum lord. This is disgraceful and a slap in the face to all Americans. Muslim and non muslim alike. Most people no nothing of the quran. 60% of the quran is on how to deal with non muslims. It is not pretty. This is from the quran. It can in no way be taken out of context...

PICKTHAL: O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. They are friends one to another. He among you who taketh them for friends is (one) of them. Lo! Allah guideth not wrongdoing folk.

Islam does not belong in any country that promotes freedom.

Posted by: yolo40 | September 2, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse


Protests on any day are the American way.

Foxman is foolish about this and should mind his own business.

Posted by: Hazmat77 | September 2, 2010 2:41 PM | Report abuse

I contacted the ADL's Civil Rights division on the growing anti-Islam, anti-mosque campaigns before the ADL made their public comments.

They had no interest in discussing this issue via telephone or email.

Posted by: responsiblepublic | September 3, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

Two days ago, the New York Times reported on a poll that they did of New Yorkers.

They found that 70% of New Yorkers believe the ObamaMosque should not be built so close to Ground Zero.

Yet in their editorial, the New York Times said "We stand with the 27%" who support the mosque being built there.

And so does Mr. Sargent.

And so do all the other liberals.

You liberals have chosen to take a stand on an issue in which some two-thirds of the entire electorate disagree with them.

This time, you sure picked the wrong hill to die on.

You have revealed yourself to be the true extremists, out of step with the vast majority of Americans, proud of your being a breed apart who empathizes more with "the world" than with your fellow countrymen.

So be it.

You liberals want to be a breed apart?

That's how the rest of us are going to treat you from now on.

You're not part of us Americans.
You're a whole different species.

Posted by: sinz52 | September 4, 2010 9:18 AM | Report abuse

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