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MEDIATING THE BOSTON MOSQUE DISPUTE

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  • World View
    Jewish groups, afraid of paying millions in damages to the Boston Muslim community, are now trying to settle out of court. Panel calls for quiet resolution
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 5, 2006
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      Jewish groups, afraid of paying millions in damages to the Boston
      Muslim community, are now trying to settle out of court.


      Panel calls for quiet resolution


      MEDIATING THE MOSQUE DISPUTE
      Charles A. Radin
      Boston Globe
      7/4/06
      http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2006/07/04/mediating_the_mosque_dispute/


      A group of prominent Christian and Jewish leaders has begun trying to
      settle quietly a bitter dispute over construction of a mosque in
      Roxbury that has deeply strained relations between Muslims and Jews in
      Greater Boston.

      The 40-member panel of ministers, priests, rabbis, and laymen has
      talked with both sides in the battle: a Jewish group that accuses the
      mosque's developers of anti-Semitic views and terrorist sympathies
      [meaning, they support human rights for Palestinians. -WVNS], and the
      Muslim group building the mosque, which has sued the Jewish group and
      several of its allies for defamation and conspiracy.

      Each side presented its case to the panel and was told that court was
      not the place to resolve the dispute, according to participants in the
      reconciliation effort.

      The religious leaders fear that the acrimony and public posturing that
      have accompanied complex legal maneuvers will poison interreligious
      relations in the wider community and create resentment that will
      endure even if the disagreements are resolved in the courts.

      A subcommittee met Thursday to plan further steps. Members of the
      panel include the Rev. Raymond G. Helmick, who has been involved in
      high-level mediation efforts in Northern Ireland, the Balkans, and the
      Middle East, and Rabbi Harold S. Kushner, author of the bestseller,
      ``Why Bad Things Happen to Good People."

      Panel members say they hope to create a more civil environment around
      the mosque issue and to encourage direct communication between the two
      sides.

      ``They are very angry," said Helmick, a Jesuit priest on the theology
      faculty of Boston College. ``Anger is not a very good basis for
      conduct or for policy. . . . We are really anxious that this [mosque
      project] not become a community-destroying thing. There are a lot of
      people on both sides anxious to see some reconciliation."

      Kushner said the mediators would suggest to the two sides that, if
      they continue their court fight, ``this will not be a matter of
      somebody winning and somebody losing, but of everybody losing. . . .
      Victory for one side will just leave the other side aggrieved."

      The Islamic Society of Boston, the Cambridge-based organization
      designated by the Boston Redevelopment Authority to build New
      England's largest mosque on a 1.9-acre site in Roxbury Crossing,
      presented its view of the conflict to members of the interreligious
      center May 11. The David Project, a Jewish leadership center, made its
      presentation on June 12.

      Leaders of the two sides did not respond to calls about the
      interreligious initiative. Their lawyers said they welcomed any
      attempt by respected religious leaders to learn the facts of the
      situation, but both also said that the facts prove their side is
      right. Both affirmed their willingness to continue the legal battle.

      ``I was extraordinarily impressed with the leadership represented in
      this group," said Howard M. Cooper, lead attorney for the Islamic
      society. ``Leaders from the Jewish community and leaders from the
      Christian community were very eager to play a constructive role. . . .
      We are hopeful they will be able to play a constructive role."

      Jeffrey S. Robbins, attorney for The David Project, said he was
      pleased both with the religious leaders' efforts to learn about the
      case in detail and their intention to help broker a resolution.
      ``Lawsuits like this pose a danger to any community, particularly one
      as diverse as Boston," Robbins said.

      Rabbi David M. Gordis, president of Hebrew College, said the effort to
      calm the conflict over the mosque and move toward an out-of-court
      settlement is a project of the Interreligious Center on Public Life, a
      group created through unusual collaborations that have developed
      between the college and Andover Newton Theological School in the four
      years since they began operating from a single campus in Newton.

      Jewish and Christian scholars and clergy at the two schools have long
      tried to foster good relations with the Muslim community, Gordis said,
      ``and then this whole sad situation [over the mosque project] came to
      the fore and threatened the positive relations that were developing."

      The Rev. Nick Carter, president of Andover Newton, said the mandate of
      the interreligious center is ``to explore the resources of the three
      Abrahamic faiths for addressing the most difficult issues of our time."

      ``This is a difficult issue of our time, and we have engaged it," he said.

      Helmick and Kushner said the next stage of the interreligious center's
      effort will probably be to hold a number of small, closed-door
      meetings with Jewish and Muslim communal leaders.

      Experience in numerous international trouble spots teaches that ``when
      people are very isolated from each other, they are very likely to be
      curious about what makes the others tick," Helmick said. ``If they
      start to learn what is really going on the other side, even
      secondhand, sometimes that makes them more inclined to talk directly.

      ``Once you understand what is going on," he said, ``there is a menu of
      options that you can spread out. It is not my business to pick, but to
      let people understand there are options."


      Charles A. Radin can be reached at radin @ globe.com.

      ===

      Extensive Background Information on Muslim-Jewish Conflict in Boston
      Joachim Martillo - thorsprovoni @ aol.com


      Before Jewish/Zionist organizations began the initial attacks on the
      Islamic Society of Boston and the Roxbury Mosque, I began to see an
      upsurge in demonization of Islam, Arabs, and Arab media by the leaders
      of the Boston Jewish community at JCRC and synagogue events as well as
      at interfaith symposia. It may be just a matter of
      self-indoctrination, but there is a lot of evidence of a coordinated
      propaganda effort.

      You might want to look at this web page for the Boston College
      Interfaith Symposium, Speaking to Each Other in Times of Controversy.

      http://frontrow.bc.edu/program/speaking/

      From this web page you can play the videorecording of the speakers and
      dicussion.

      The three main speakers are Reverend Sam Lloyd, rector, Trinity
      Church, Boston; Barry Shrage, Combined Jewish Philanthropies of
      Greater Boston; and Catholic theologian Rosann Catalano, Institute for
      Christian and Jewish Studies, Baltimore, Maryland. You will probably
      find Shrage's comments the most interesting from the standpoint of the
      demonization of the demonization of Arabs and Muslims.

      Shrage tries to tie the attack on the WTC and the Pentagon to
      normative Islamic behavior over a 500 year period or so. I grant that
      he mentions Barukh Goldstein and the massacre at the Ibrahimi Mosque
      in Hebron but only as a Jewish aberration. He never addresses the
      murderous racist genocidalism that is an inherent component of
      Zionism, and he does manage a ridiculous slur against al-Jazeera,
      which according to Shrage broadcast the 40 part series Faris bila
      Jawad (Knight without a Horse) that was based on The Protocols of the
      Elders of Zion.

      The concerted effort of the organized Jewish Zionist community of
      Boston to demonize Arabs and Muslims is quite impressive, and it has
      been going on a long time. In some sense its intellectual currents
      originate in the 19th century when the Czarist university system began
      to employ Russian ethnic Ashkenazim as orientalists. These Russian
      ethnic Ashkenazim provided the academic framework by which the Russian
      government presented naked aggression against Turks, Persians and
      Muslims as a civilizing necessity. I do not believe that Russian
      ethnic Ashkenazi orientalists at this early period had anything
      personal against Muslims or Turks. Generally ethnic Ashkenazim and
      Polish Lithuanian Tartar Muslims got along fairly well in historic
      Poland.

      Ethnic Ashkenazi academic defamation of Muslims and Turks during the
      Czarist period was just work for hire, but it has remained an
      important part of Russian discourse for over a century, and the
      Zionists found it a useful framework for depicting the conflict in
      Palestine between ethnic Ashkenazi invaders and the native population
      I have attended seminars at Hebrew University. In many regards the
      historic Czarist anti-Muslim anti-Persian anti-Turkish orientalism is
      better preserved at Israeli academic institutions than within those of
      the Russian Federation.

      The Zionist version of Czarist orientalism permeates the attitudes of
      the long-resident Boston ethnic Ashkenazi community. Such bigotry has
      been invigorated by new Russian ethnic Ashkenazi immigrants to the
      Boston area because the mentality of such Russian immigrants fuses
      popular Russian bigotry with Zionist demonization.

      If you click on the video hyperlink, you will find that

      Philip Cunningham presents Shrage at 29:41 and

      Shrage begins to speak at 29:54

      At the time period when this symposium took place, the organized
      Jewish community seems to have begun a whispering campaign of
      defamation against the Islamic Society of Boston. It hit the media
      about a year later with reports in Fox News and in the Boston Herald.

      Joachim Martillo

      PS. The Harvard Pluralism Project has been building a resource page on
      Muslim Jewish conflict in Boston. You can find it at
      http://www.pluralism.org/news/index.php?xref=Islamic+Society+of+Boston+Controversy&sort=ASC
      .

      ===

      The Roxbury Mosque Controversy
      Joachim Martillo


      I started this exchange with the ACLU after I learned that Jewish
      contributors were putting pressure on the ACLU-MA to support the
      Policastro "separation of church and state" complaint, which is a
      transparent attempt by right-wing Boston area Jews to deflect the
      defamation cases that Dr. Yousef Abu al-Laban and the Islamic Society
      of Boston (ISB) have brought against several major local
      Jewish/Zionist organizations, some of their non-Jewish
      associates/employees, the Fox network, and the Boston Herald. I told
      Nancy Murray, who is a Massachusetts ACLU official* that I was a local
      resident concerned about the attempt of Jewish/Zionist organizations
      to deprive American citizens and legal residents of their state and
      federal constitution rights to assemble freely, to practice of their
      religion and to exercise freedom of expression. As I see it, the
      Boston Jewish leadership is attempting to create the equivalent of a
      poll tax or literacy tests that were used to deprive Southern Blacks
      of their voting rights during the Jim Crow period.

      The response from the ACLU to the email that I sent to Nancy and that
      Sara Wunsch included seems somewhat positive except that the ACLU
      really is not doing anything as far as I can tell. I am not sure the
      conspiracy case is as hard as Wunsch implies although at this point it
      would probably require more detective work than legal work. There is
      an ongoing and concerted effort to ruin Dr. Ron Francis professionally
      and force him out of the Andover public school system because he has
      been leading Somerville Divestment Project. All the same people and
      groups are targeting him that have been attempting to stop the Roxbury
      Mosque and that have been persecuting Professors Joseph Massad, Rachid
      Khalidi and others at Columbia. If such repetitive carefully scripted
      organized efforts to deprive law-abiding Americans of their right to
      free expression and ability to earn a livelihood in their chosen
      professions do not constitute conspiracy, there are no conspiracies.

      There is a little more to the imbroglio than I suggest because the
      same people that are organizing the attack on the ISB and the Roxbury
      Mosque were also very close to Lawrence Summers and his supporters at
      Harvard. This larger group seems to have been involved in extremely
      questionable Alston and Brighton real estate transactions associated
      with property acquisitions by Harvard and Boston College although
      Summers himself does not seem to have been implicated directly. (But I
      would not rule out the possible involvement of Summers' wife.) It is
      probably unrelated, but Summers himself may have been much more deeply
      linked to the corrupt dealings of Harvard Professor Schleifer in the
      Russian Federation** than the Harvard community and the public were
      lead to believe. I have the impression that Summers had to leave
      Harvard because the risk of disclosure of serious financial
      improprieties was becoming too large.

      BTW, in a separate email, Nancy told me that the information on the
      Vilna Shul was very helpful.

      * She is the director of the Bill of Rights Education Project at the
      ACLU of Massachusetts and also direct its Civil Liberties Task Force,
      which focuses on post 9/11 developments.

      ** There may in fact be a connection. I just have not spent much time
      among the local Russian Ashkenazim, and I am not sure how connected
      Schleifer is to the local community. It is interesting that the
      leaders of the Russian Ashkenazim have been extremely vociferous in
      condemning Massachusetts American Jewish Committee (AJC) director
      Larry Lowenthal for being too easy on the ISB and the Roxbury Mosque.
      Some of this sort of behavior is just Russian anti-Muslim bigotry,
      but the attacks on the ISB and the Summers controversy are the perfect
      distraction from financial malfeasance.

      Joachim Martillo


      -----Original Message-----
      From: Sarah Wunsch <Wunsch@...>
      To: thorsprovoni@...
      Cc: Nancy Murray <Nancy@...>
      Sent: Thu, 15 Jun 2006 11:27:57 -0400
      Subject: roxbury mosque


      Mr. Martillo, I wanted to respond to your message to Nancy Murray.
      Since she is not an attorney, she passed it along to me.


      Re the lawsuit against the ISB and the City of Boston, the ACLU of
      Massachusetts does not generally participate as amicus curiae in cases
      at the trial court level, particularly when complex factual issues are
      involved. Nonetheless, we are watching this case with interest and
      will not hesitate to weigh in as a friend of the court if our doing so
      would further the cause of civil rights and liberties. We have also
      been following the Somerville Divestment Project problem with the arts
      festival in Somerville and will take action in appropriate circumstances.

      We are generally concerned with discrimination against members of the
      Arab, Muslim, and South Asian communities and have been working with
      other organizations to speak out against it and to provide information
      that might be helpful to the community.

      Re your allegations of a broad conspiracy, it is extremely difficult
      to bring cases involving such allegations and we are not in a position
      to take on a case like that at this time. Thank you for contacting us.

      Sarah Wunsch, Staff Attorney
      ACLU Foundation of Massachusetts


      From: <ThorsProvoni@...>
      Date: Thu, 25 May 2006 06:38:14 EDT
      To: <nancy@...>
      Subject: Constitutional Rights and the Roxbury Mosque Controversy

      Dear Ms Murray::

      I became interested in the Roxbury Mosque issue because so many of the
      people, who are giving the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) grief, were
      really strong supporters of Lawrence Summers, whose presidency I
      strongly opposed as a concerned alumnus. My wife has always believed
      that the Muslim community should take an active role in the Somerville
      Divestment Project (http://www.divestmentproject.org/). Summers went
      out his way to crush Divestment at Harvard. Along the way my wife
      wrote an email that was distributed on the Boston Muslim Students
      Association list. Organizations that are members of the Combined
      Jewish Philanthropies apparently monitor the Boston MSA list, and my
      wife's email became part of the court filings in one of the Roxbury
      Mosque legal actions.

      After reading the legal documents on the ISB
      (http://www.isboston.org/) and The David Project
      (http://www.davidproject.org/) web site, I have concluded that a
      significant part of the organized Boston Jewish community has engaged
      in a conspiracy to deprive Arab and Muslim American citizens of their
      state and federal constitutional right to assemble and to practice
      their religion freely.

      I would pray at the Roxbury Mosque once it is built as would my wife
      and children. Because we have suffered a denial of our constitutional
      rights as a result of the action of individuals and organizations
      associated with the Combined Jewish Philanthropies, we are
      investigating whether we should file a civil complaint against the
      individuals and organizations that have conspired to deny us our
      constitutional rights. I would recommend that each and every Muslim
      American that wants to make use of the Roxbury Mosque also file a
      complaint or join us in any legal action.

      As I review the materials associated with the Roxbury Mosque case and
      the history of divestment activities in Somerville, I believe there
      was also the intent to deny Arab and Muslim Americans their
      constitutional right to express their political opinions. The JCRC of
      Boston, the AJC (American Jewish Committee) and the AJC-CWJ (American
      Jewish Congress-Council for World Jewry) seem to have become convinced
      because of my wife's email that Boston-area Muslims were heavily
      involved in Somerville Divestment activities. In response, they
      suborned Mayor Curtatone with various emoluments into preventing the
      Somerville Divestment Project from canvassing voters at Somerville
      Artbeat. In fact, because the involvement of Arab and Muslim
      Americans in the Somerville Divestment Project was small, the
      conspirators mostly denied non-Arab and non-Muslim Americans their
      right to political expression.

      There is another aspect to the conspiracy to deny the constitutional
      right of expression. The Islamic Society of Boston was expressing its
      solidarity with the largely non-white often Muslim population of the
      community where the Mosque was sited. The ISB was expressing its
      desire to invest in that neighborhood. The wealthy white conspirators
      from Newton and Brookline adorn their own rich white neighborhoods
      with beautiful synagogues and community centers. The organized Jewish
      community does not invest in Black and Latino sections of Boston, but
      the ISB does. Thus, in preventing the ISB from exercising its
      constitutional right of expression, the conspirators also deny the
      Boston Black and Latino communities access to development investment
      in an action that constitutes racial discrimination.

      I have attended enough Boston-area Israel strategy and Jewish
      community media information sessions to understand the reasoning
      behind the effort to thwart the Roxbury Mosque construction. The
      American Jewish community is in permanent decline due to attrition and
      assimilation while the American Muslim community is vital and growing.
      The political voice of American Muslims can only grow as is
      appropriate in a democracy, and the organized Jewish community
      definitely does not want it to connect with the non-Muslim Black and
      Latino communities, with whom American Muslims share many interests.
      The organized Jewish community wants Muslims to leave, The
      conspirators hope that sufficient demonization and denial of
      constitutional rights will force a large part of the American Muslim
      population to relocate outside of the USA and render the remaining
      Muslim population so despised that it will have no voice whatsoever in
      American politics. It is very much a reprise of the sorts of tactics
      that have been used to deny American Blacks their constitutional
      rights since the end of the Civil War.

      In any case, I am fully convinced that the conspirators against the
      Roxbury Mosque have undertaken their activities because they believe
      (probably correctly) that the vast majority of Muslims are hostile to
      Israel. Last time I looked, I saw no requirement in either the state
      or federal constitutions that one has to love the State of Israel
      before an American citizen can exercise the freedom of assembly or of
      practicing his religion. The conspirators have done so much damage to
      the Boston Muslim and Roxbury communities that I would seek relief in
      the from the organized Jewish community that consisted of $3-5 million
      to finish the construction of the mosque, multimillions of dollars for
      the lack of development opportunity in Roxbury, and hundreds of
      millions of dollars for education to counteract the demonization that
      the conspirators have undertaken against the American Muslim
      community. The last named amount is appropriate because the
      conspirators include Edgar Bronfman, who heads the International
      Hillel Society. As owner of Universal he spent hundreds of millions
      of dollars in producing movies to render Muslims completely odious to
      non-Muslim Americans.

      I would like to discuss possible legal action with you. Could I make
      an appointment to meet you?

      Joachim Martillo

      ===

      NOTES

      I put up a critique of the CS Monitor article on the Roxbury Mosque
      controversy at http://members.aol.com/ThorsProvoni/mosque.htm .
      There is a link to original Monitor article at the top of the web
      page. While I am not completely at ease with his approach to the issue
      of "terrorism," Richard Hugus puts the issue into a larger context in
      an article at http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Jan06/Hugus27.htm
      <http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Jan06/Hugus27.htm> .

      I wrote a short report on an anti-Mosque talk at Newton synagogue in
      March 2005. You can find it at
      http://www.aljazeerah.info/Opinion%20editorials/2005%20Opinion%20Editorials/March/9o/Report%20on%20Robert%20Spencer%20and%20the%20Boston%20AntiIslamic%20Controversy%20By%20Joachim%20Martillo.htm
      <http://www.aljazeerah.info/Opinion%20editorials/2005%20Opinion%20Editorials/March/9o/Report%20on%20Robert%20Spencer%20and%20the%20Boston%20AntiIslamic%20Controversy%20By%20Joachim%20Martillo.htm>
      . It supports Hugus' contention that opposition to the Mosque has
      very little connection with the issue of terrorism.

      Here is a response to Jeffrey Jacoby's screed against the Roxbury
      Mosque that recently appeared in The Boston Globe. I would probably
      name Jacoby, The Boston Globe and The New York Times. In its coverage
      of the Danish anti-Islam cartoons, a New York Times editor compared
      Muslims to insects, whose brains had been eaten out by parasites.

      Joachim Martillo

      Dear Editor:

      As far as I can tell Jacoby's column entitled Muslim Reformer Still a
      Target from Wednesday, May 17
      (http://www.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2006/05/17/muslim_reformer_still_a_target/)
      is a minor elaboration of David Project (http://www.davidproject.org/)
      talking points and is therefore a compendium of lies,
      misrepresentation and hysteria.

      The Roxbury Mosque is a Hassan Fathy design, which makes it extremely
      important architecturally and eventually a major tourist attraction in
      a part of Boston that desperately needs the associated business.

      It is complete nonsense to claim that the shuyukh of al-Azhar would be
      angry at anyone simply for attacking Muhammad ibn abd al Wahhab's
      ideas of reforming Islam. I question whether any al-Azhar shaykh has
      ever said anything positive about ibn abd al Wahhab's approach to
      Islam. Al-Qaradawi is not a radical Islamist, and I doubt that a tape
      of his was ever played to the audience at a fund-raiser. I have
      attended a few of these fund-raisers. They are extremely boring, and
      the attendees eat rubber chicken while someone gives a platitudinous
      speech. In any case the speakers do not necessarily represent the
      Islamic Society of Boston any more than Alan Dershowitz represents
      every Jewish group in front of which he speaks.

      The accusations about fanatic material in the Cambridge Prospect St.
      Mosque library are nebulous at best. I am not sure what "fanatic" is
      supposed to mean. The Mosque lists its entire catalogue on-line. (Just
      go to http://www.isboston.org/, and click on the library entry in the
      left column.) Guess what. The library contains nothing written by
      Muhammad Abd al-Wahhab. (No surprise at the lack of his books. Shayhk
      Bassiouny was trained at al-Azhar.) In any case, if one actually reads
      the books of ibn abd al Wahhab, one finds them only mildly reformist.
      The Mosque library does contain a few books by Sayyid Qutb. I have his
      collected works in my library. Despite the demonization by Neocons and
      Zionists, Qutb in the Islamic context is comparable to Locke in the
      Christian context. Only two books struck me as possibly
      objectionable, for they support creationism or intelligent design.
      One was written by a Christian.

      I concede that I could probably put together unrelated sentences and
      cherry-pick passages from the books in the Mosque library to get
      something fairly sinister, but I could also do that with most
      synagogue and church libraries.

      I have never met Fitaihi, who lives in Saudi Arabia. Because of the
      ridiculousness of most of Jacoby's charges, I am reluctant to comment,
      but the Biblical Prophets and Jesus were critical of am yisrael and of
      Roman period Judeans according to their respective historical
      contexts. Some of those passages from the Hebrew Bible and the New
      Testament have analogous passages in the Quran. Fitaihi may have
      discussed such a passage at some point but probably somewhere very far
      away because he does not live in the Boston area. As for the other
      alleged quote, the IDF does in fact commit ''oppression, murder, and
      rape of the worshipers of Allah." It also claims to be the army of the
      Jewish state with which most Jews identify according to AJC (American
      Jewish Committee) statistics. In any case, I have occasionally
      attended Quran classes and other talks there. They are apolitical and
      sometimes boring. I have also listened to Rabbi Schacter's
      post-Sabbath talks at Maimonides School in Brookline He speaks well,
      but I found his content disturbing when I attended his viciously
      racist and obnoxious three lecture series on Jerusalem a few years ago..

      If Jacoby really wanted to start an honest critical examination of the
      religious communities in the Boston area, he would start with the
      Boston Jewish community, which he knows best and whose form of Judaism
      certainly deserves serious criticism, for it consists for the most
      part of ethnic narcissism, Holocaust obsession and worship of the
      State of Israel to the point of disloyalty to the USA. The
      anti-Mosque campaign and the anti-Divestment activities that the
      organized Boston Jewish community is orchestrating look like an
      un-American and criminal attempt to deprive US citizens of their
      constitutional rights of free expression, assembly and practice of
      religion.

      If The Globe is really a serious newspaper serving the Boston
      metropolitan population, it has a civic duty to assign a reporter to
      investigate whether major Boston Jewish community organizations are
      engaged in criminal conspiracy. At the least, the Globe should hire a
      columnist who represents something more than racist ethnic Ashkenazi
      tribalism and who actually does some real work instead of
      regurgitating anti-Muslim propaganda and defamation composed by David
      Project founder Charles Jacobs and his employees. At the very least,
      a Globe columnist that includes in one of his columns an accusation
      that a Mosque library contains fanatic material could actually
      identify the items to which his charge refers.

      Joachim Martillo
      Boston, MA

      ===

      JEFF JACOBY
      Muslim reformer still a target
      By Jeff Jacoby | May 17, 2006

      WHEN Ahmed Mansour learned a lawsuit had been filed against him by the
      Islamic Society of Boston, he had one urgent question: ''Will they put
      me in jail?"

      The answer was no -- in America, people don't go to prison for
      publicly expressing their views. But Mansour had good reason to worry.
      He had learned the hard way that Muslim reformers who speak out
      against Islamist fanaticism and religious dictatorship can indeed end
      up in prison -- or worse. It had happened to him in his native Egypt,
      which he fled in 2001 after receiving death threats. He was grateful
      that the United States had granted him asylum, enabling him to go on
      promoting his vision of a progressive Islam in which human rights and
      democratic values would be protected. But would he now have to fight
      in America the same kind of persecution he experienced in Egypt?

      Mansour is just one of many people and organizations being sued for
      defamation by the Islamic Society of Boston, which accuses them all of
      conspiring to deny freedom of worship to Boston-area Muslims. In fact,
      the defendants -- who include journalists, a terrorism expert, and the
      founder of the American Anti-Slavery Group, plus the Episcopalian lay
      minister and the Jewish attorney who together with Mansour formed the
      interfaith Citizens for Peace and Tolerance in 2004 -- appear to be
      guilty of nothing more than voicing concerns about the ISB's
      construction of a large mosque in Roxbury. Unsettling questions have
      been raised about the ISB and its mosque project. For example:

      Why did city officials provide the land for the mosque for just
      $175,000, when the parcel was publicly valued at $400,000? And where
      did that $400,000 figure come from, when the land's value had earlier
      been assessed at $2 million?

      What is the Islamic Society's relationship to Yusef al-Qaradawi, a
      radical Islamist who praises suicide terrorism and endorses the
      killing of Americans in Iraq? For several years the ISB listed him as
      a trustee, though now it says that was an ''oversight." Was it also an
      oversight when a videotaped message of support from Qaradawi, who is
      banned from the United States, was played at a fund-raiser in 2002?

      When it was reported that another trustee, Walid Fitaihi, had written
      that Jews are ''murderers of the prophets" who will be punished for
      ''oppression, murder, and rape of the worshipers of Allah," why did
      the ISB resist for seven months before unequivocally repudiating his
      words?

      But if anything should raise eyebrows, it is the decision of the
      Islamic Society to pursue Mansour for his comments about the ISB at a
      press conference in 2004. He had gone to pray at the ISB's current
      mosque in Cambridge, and described at the press conference what he had
      observed: ''I am here to testify that this radical culture is here,
      inside this society," he said. He had seen ''Arabic-language
      newsletters filled with hatred against the United States." Books and
      videos in the mosque's library promoted ''fanatical beliefs that
      insult other people's religions." A religious man, Mansour stressed
      that he was ''not against the mosque. . . . I'm against extremists."

      If Mansour doesn't have the expertise to form such opinions, it would
      be hard to say who does.

      He holds three degrees from Cairo's Al-Azhar, the foremost religious
      university in the Islamic world, where he was appointed a professor of
      Muslim history in 1980. He would probably be there still if his
      scholarship hadn't gotten in the way. The deeper Mansour delved into
      the history of Islam, the clearer it became to him that the faith had
      been perverted into a ''false doctrine of hate" -- a doctrine that has
      been spread across much of the Muslim world and that has fueled great
      cruelty and bloodshed.

      His mounting opposition to Wahhabist radicalism drew the wrath of the
      powerful Al-Azhar sheiks, who removed him from his classroom and tried
      him in a religious court. For two years, he says, he was pressured to
      recant. In 1987 he was fired. Then the Egyptian government imprisoned
      him for two months.

      Undeterred, Mansour continued to write and speak out against radical
      Islam. He has authored 24 books and more than 500 articles, many of
      them denouncing as heretical any Muslim creeds that ''persecute and
      kill peaceful humans and violate their human rights." The real
      infidels, he has argued, are those who share ''the traits of Osama bin
      Laden and his followers." Before fleeing for his life, he worked with
      Egypt's leading human-rights activists, promoting democratic values,
      funneling assistance to persecuted Christians, and advocating for the
      reform of religious education.

      This is the Islamic Society of Boston's idea of an anti-Muslim
      conspirator? Then what, one wonders, is its idea of Islam?

      Jeff Jacoby's e-mail address is jacoby @ globe.com.


      © Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

      ===

      I met Nancy Murray last Wednesday, and she was concerned about the
      church-state issues that the Policastro complaint raises. (Hillel
      Stavis a large contributor to the ACLU and super-Zionist anti-Arab
      anti-Muslim racist had just bent her ear with demands that the ACLU
      join in that complaint.)

      I pointed out to her that the organized Jewish/Zionist community had
      no such problem

      Hi Nancy,

      You might want to take a look at http://www.vilnashul.com/ . (Shul is
      Yiddish for synagogue. Technically it is a translation of beit
      hamidrash, which roughly corresponds to the Medieval Arabic sense of
      madrasa or Church Latin scholium.)

      You might want to focus on the article from the Globe Magazine (image
      at lower left). It links to a pdf file that you can get directly from
      http://www.vilnashul.com/Globe_Jewish_Revival.pdf . I think around
      page 4 it mentions that the shul was owned by the state as well as the
      court case that prevented it from being redeveloped as condominiums.
      As I remember the organized Jewish community got a great deal on prime
      Boston real estate, and I am sorry, but the historical interest in a
      100 year old synagogue of minor importance is no greater than the
      historical interest in the last Hasan Fathi design. (And I can rant
      for an hour on the destruction of the 700 year old historic moghrebi
      section of Jerusalem by racist Zionist colonizers.) Racist Eastern
      European Ashkenazim like Jacobs and friends suffer from ethnic
      narcissism of monumental psychopathology.

      Joachim

      ===

      Hi Nancy,

      The following article notes that the Vilna Shul receives state funding.

      http://www.isjm.org/jhr/nos3-4/vilna.htm

      From
      http://www.boston.com/news/globe/magazine/articles/2005/11/06/bostons_jewish_renaissance/?page=2

      It's a warm Friday night earlier this fall. A light rain dampens
      Beacon Hill as men and women walk toward their synagogue. They step
      inside the Vilna Shul and shake off their umbrellas. There are no
      gray suits, crisp white shirts, or prim blouses in this group, a
      20-something khaki and polo-shirt crowd. The women come in the same
      door as the men, sometimes holding hands with a boyfriend or husband,
      but more often in groups of their own. I also enter. Continued...

      Here is the continuation on the next web page
      http://www.boston.com/news/globe/magazine/articles/2005/11/06/bostons_jewish_renaissance/?page=3

      Page 3 of 9 --

      Passing a sign that says "Havurah on the Hill," - "havurah" in Hebrew
      means a gathering or community of friends - we move upstairs to the
      sanctuary. On the walls are menorahs, stars, and other Judaic symbols
      stenciled more than half a century ago. The men and women sit
      together, but the Star of David still dangles over our heads.
      Moonlight shines through the skylights as a young man dressed in gray
      slacks and a black shirt steps to the bimah, or lectern. The crowd hushes.

      This all seems like a much more direct funding of Jewish religious
      services at the Vilna Shul than anything that is taking place at the
      Roxbury Mosque.

      If you ask me, not only should the ACLU Massachusetts be undertaking a
      lawsuit against various leading members and groups within the
      organized Jewish community for criminal conspiracy to deprive American
      citizens of their right of expression, assembly and practice of
      religion as well as for civil infractions in attempting to deprive
      Roxbury residents of much needed investment on the basis of race and
      religion, but the ACLU should also be undertaking a lawsuit against
      the State of Massachusetts for violating separation of Church and
      State in supporting a Jewish religious institution (the Vilna Shul) on
      Beacon Hill.

      Joachim Martillo

      Hi Nancy,

      You can look at the prayer book (siddur) for the Vilna Shul for which
      Massachusetts State funds effectively paid at
      http://www.vilnashul.com/siddur.pdf .

      What is more fungible than cash payments from the state? And it
      certainly looks like state funding of Jewish religion to me.

      Joachim Martillo

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