Pam Geller hailed her appearance at the Chabad of Great Neck and later, at a protest on Old Country Road in front of the Nassau County Human Rights Commission offices, a great “success,” “a triumph.”
It was standing room only in the small meeting room at the Chabad, with several hundred more people accommodated with folding chairs and a Jumbotron outside the building, while men who called themselves Patriot Guard Riders formed a color guard with flags.
Hundreds of people came from throughout the region, many carrying signs, “We Stand For Free Speech.” Geller was hailed a “Warrior Princess,” a courageous figure, and an acolyte made mention of “the trials and tribulations that she experienced this week,” when in a single day, her talk was canceled by the Great Neck synagogue, but then welcomed at the Chabad.
Geller, who signs her missives “Yours in liberty” and is editor and publisher of Atlas Shrugs, president of American Freedom Defense Initiative, and executive director of Stop Islamization of America, played the victimization card well but Geller was never prohibited from speaking or threatened or impeded from speaking in any way.
But she got the media frenzy – and the audience – she craved.
This was a manufactured controversy and served well to divert from the core issue that Geller was supposed to address: the ludicrous premise that Sharia Law is taking over America.
I can’t think of an instance of government at any level enacting Sharia laws, can you? Is there any place in America where girls are prohibited from attending school, where “honor killings” are permissible, wives who commit adultery or girls who are raped can be killed?
And yet, the Geller groups (there are many) are pushing for a law in Florida, already adopted in five other states, American Laws for American Courts.
You would think that the First Amendment which enshrines separation of church and state would be enough.
Geller came to prominence leading the charge against the Ground Zero Mosque, even though an Islamic center had existed at that site for years and until Geller and others fanned the flames of outrage, the community had accepted the center. Since then, a preacher burned Korans, inciting deadly riots in Pakistan, and a Murfreesboro, Tennessee community barred the building of a mosque.
What prompted the furor in Great Neck was an entreaty that came from local religious leaders and from Habeeb Ahmed, from the Islamic Center of Long Island and a member of the Human Rights commission, urging Great Neck Synagogue to withdraw the invitation from the Men’s Club to Geller, who has raised concerns by civil rights organizations because of her anti-Islam diatribe.
Strip away the manufactured victimization, the fact that the reason that the event was cancelled at the Great Neck Synagogue and then hastily shifted to the Chabad, was a financial one – an attorney had told the synagogue board that if Geller appeared, the synagogue would have to pay for an armed guard for the school “in perpetuity” because the school would become a target.
No one’s rights were violated in Great Neck.
But all of that served the purpose to unleash a media frenzy and had the desired result of drawing a mass of people to her who otherwise would not have come, and to give Geller the power to attack Habeeb Ahmed,
“The reason why the media became so in love with this story,” she said during the protest at the Nassau County Human Rights Commission that followed her Chabad appearance, “is because it evolved from Habeeb Ahmed…of the Islamic Center of Long Island – who uses his political office as Nassau County human rights commissioner tot strong arm the synagogue, and liberal Jews, Rabbi Davidson, picked up. That’s when the media picked it up, Jew against Jew.”
What Habeeb Ahmed did was to send out an email raising concern about Geller giving a speech at Great Neck Synagogue and asking what could be done to stop it.
“ Do we do a petition on the stationary of council of churches, The Interfaith Alliance and The Holocaust Center?? Her views are well known…she is the personification of an Islamophobe!!! Brothers and Sisters what do you think?? “ Ahmed wrote.
This was the “threat” from Ahmed. She dubbed it “Habeebgate, the alleged attempt by the Islamic supremacist Habeeb Ahmed of the Nassau County Human Rights Commission to use the power of his position deploy his mujahideen in a covert effort to intimidate the Great Neck Synagogue into cancelling my scheduled speech there,” Geller wrote on her blog.
“Habeeb and his accomplices ordered their minions to strong-arm the shul, make calls, and get the synagogue leaders to cancel a proud Jew scheduled to speak at their synagogue.”
Geller used this as ammunition, because you are supposed to believe that her free-speech rights were denied, and therefore her premise, that Sharia Law is coming to America and America is being taken over by Islamists who will take away our freedom. And by the way, Muslims are required by their faith to murder Jews.
To complete this image of victimization, Geller and the others also unleashed savage attacks on Rabbi Jerome Davidson and other “liberal Jews” who are equated with Holocaust Deniers.
Jeff Wiesenfeld accused Davidson of organizing a protest at the Great Neck Synagogue, which is the reason, they claimed, that the synagogue canceled the event after parents fear violence would be done to the Sunday school children.
Actually it was just the opposite: Davidson discouraged any protest and there wasn’t any.
“My voice was one of the loudest against a demonstration, and no one else was really for it,” Davidson told me.
Set aside the personal attacks on “liberals” like Rabbi Davidson, an iconic figure in our community and American Jewry and a champion of social justice throughout his life, and of course, that idiot savant socialist, President Barack Obama who doesn’t actually care about our soldiers or our veterans returning with battle scars in body and mind, who doesn’t make an effort to protect America from terror attacks by not specifically branding them as terror attacks but (as in the case of the Fort Hood shooting, “workplace shooting.”
Strip away the ridiculous premise that America is being invaded by Sharia law, that somehow, our protections of (and from) religion, free speech, etc. etc., are being supplanted legislatively.
There is a valid concern that political correctness – of being wary of insulting Islam – has produced a double standard and left us vulnerable to what they claim is the threat of Jihadism in America (the Fort Hood shooter, Army Major Nidal Hasan is a prime example).
There are valid concerns about the radicalization on college campuses – which is linked to the embrace by progressives of the Palestinian cause, playing the “victim” card.
Even more serious and valid is the charge that Islamist propaganda is hijacking progressives to discount the violence and brutality and the existential threat to Israel, Israelis and Jews everywhere.
There is a double standard that is applied to Israel, and few Americans have any sense of the nuance or complexity of the issues, the “right of return,” and control over Jerusalem, for example.
It is likely true that there are jihadists in America – American Muslims radicalized by Bush’s invasion of Iraq (a country that had nothing to do with 9/11), Abu Graib, Guantanamo, and Obama Administration drone attacks. Radicalization was the case with the Times Square bomber and with the Fort Hood shooter, Nidal Hasan.
Indeed, as I write this, there are the reports unfolding of the terrorist bombing at the Boston Marathon, but at this writing there is no information about who was responsible.
(Shortly after the bombing, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, condemned the bomb attacks and urged all Americans to pray for the victims and their families and asked the Boston-area Muslim community to donate blood for those who were wounded.
In a statement, CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said: “American Muslims, like Americans of all backgrounds, condemn in the strongest possible terms today’s cowardly bomb attack on participants and spectators of the Boston Marathon.
“We urge people of all faiths to pray for the victims and their loved ones and for the speedy recovery of those injured. We also call for the swift apprehension and punishment of the perpetrators.”]
There is evil in the world and evildoers.
But there are also domestic terrorists who commit murder and mayhem, like the Oklahoma bombers, McVeigh and Nichols, Neo-Nazis and White Supremacists, and Operation Rescue religious fundamentalists who think that protecting the unborn gives them the license and duty to kill (how is this different than the Islamic extremists?).
Geller has made a career and gained celebrity by inciting lawsuits blocking her “free speech.” She did this prominently in pushing for ads in the New York subways that referred to “savages”.
There is no better place on the planet than a New York City subway car where you can see people from all extractions – who would be warring against each other in other places: Hindus and Muslims, Muslims and Jews – and this is where Geller chose to spur the conflict and hatred.
Looking about the people who gathered at the Chabad to hear her, there is no doubt that playing the “victim” who was denied her right to “free speech” drew them out.
Geller was elevated into the “Warrior Princess” as she was called by one of her followers, for her “bravery” in standing in front of Chabad (sure, with a score of police ringing the perimeter), and she reminded the audience that Chabad has been targeted by Islamists, recalling the tragedy in Mumbai which hit home here in Great Neck.
She made reference to Greg Buckley, who had spoken about his son, a 21-year old Marine murdered in Afghanistan by a 16-year old Afghan just a couple of days before he was supposed to return home], saying, “ To listen to Greg Buckley, to the pain of a father, is the human cost of this fantastic delusion that we are pursuing all over the world, not just in Afghanistan, but in America,” she said, pairing that incident to the Fort Hood massacre by Army Major Nidal Hasan.
“Here you had a jihadi Major Hasan, wearing garb of the martyr, giving out Korans in the morning, and as he fired his weapon, shouted ‘Allahu Akbar,’ Allah is greater – greater than your God,” she declared, adding that this crime was classified by the government as “workplace violence” rather than part of the global War on Terror.
“It’s not just that they don’t care,” she charged, “it’s that they are pursuing a pro-jihadist foreign policy.”
“Don’t care?” “A pro-jihadist foreign policy?” That is absurd.
It is a far stretch to recognize that Muslims have been radicalized all over the world, to suggesting that Islamists are taking over America.
She went on to suggest that Obama was to blame for “throwing” Mubarak away – “our ally for 30 years, the first [country] to make a peace with Israel, enabling the Muslim Brotherhood to take over” but chiding him for failing to support the Iranian Revolution, yet backing the overthrow of Khadafi,
“What are we doing in Libya? We don’t get our oil in Libya. [Khadafi] was a bad guy – there’s worse. A jihadist revolution in Libya is worse. These things aren’t static… Mali gets taken over. Falling like dominoes -catastrophic.”
From here, Geller draws the conclusion that therefore an Islamic takeover of the United States is imminent, the next domino.:
She said, “There is a jihadic doctrine that calls for slaying the unbelievers wherever you find them – myriad – it is a commandment, not like the Bible, in Judaism where if you have two Jews you have three opinions, You can question. In Islam, you’re not allowed to question. Under Islam, if you attempt to reform or reinterpret the word of Allah as given to Mohammed, you are guilty of hypocrisy, punishable by death.”
“Jews, the most reviled of all in Islam. Islamic text and teaching call for the annihilation of Jews.”
Later, at the protest on Old Country Road, she expanded, I don’t see Jews going into a pizza parlor killing people. The difference is, in the Old and New Testament, violence is description; in the Koran, violence is prescription…
“It worries me, the media in this country, and the culture is self-enforcing Sharia – you cannot criticize Islam – you can’t have the discussion, Look what it took to get this – the brouhaha, the pressure on the rabbi…
“I am accused of being a hater, a bigot, because that is the war we are in. We are in a war in the information battle space, the war of ideas. All the bullets, bombs, comes as a result of this war – part of this war is to destroy anyone who speaks truth.”
And so she presents herself as the victim, the martyr.
“In Islamic countries, you are put to death for blasphemy. In the West, you don’t get assassinated but they assassinate your character, your credibility.”
Geller capitalized on the cancellation and the rebooking by Chabad, sending out an e-mail, but taking Great Neck Synagogue to task: “The cancellation by the Great Neck Synagogue was particularly craven and cowardly, as it sends the message that if leftists and Muslims defame those they hate loudly enough and for a long enough time, they will succeed in getting them silenced. But in contrast to that unconscionable self-imposed dhimmitude, both of these Rabbis [Geisinsky and Rosenberg who invited Geller after Great Neck Synangogue canceled] are standing up for the freedom of speech and the defense of the Jewish people. They’re saying no to thuggery and pressure tactics. Above all, they’re standing up for the truth.
“They’re doing what all free people should be doing. The Jewish people must stand up. The Jewish people must have the will to speak against annihilationist rhetoric. History is proof that fear and capitulation are a recipe for disaster.”
Geller devoted the protest she organized at the Human Rights Commission that followed her Chabad talk to attacking Ahmed and calling for his removal from the Commission, and said that Nassau County District Attorney’s office has been asked to investigate him, and look into all his emails.
“As a result of this egregious violation of the public trust, we urge the Nassau County executive to remove this thug from office.
“We welcome this investigation and hope the imposition of Sharia blasphemy laws using public office will be punished to the full extent of the law. American law for American courts. Stop Sharia in America.”
In a conversation with me, Rabbi Davidson came to Ahmed’s defense: “The people Rabbi White and I have worked with over the years at the mosque are leaders of the Islamic Center and they are in no way terrorists, fanatics nor extremists.
They are doctors and professors and teachers and business people who love the United States as much as we do. They have worshiped with people at Temple Beth El multiple times, at Sinai in Roslyn and many temples and churches around the island. It is a loose and irresponsible charge to label them….. Any accusation of extremism of these people is an absurdity, and basically a lie.
“Unfortunately, there is a paranoia among many Americans about American Muslims who are unable – out of ignorance – to make a distinction between American Muslims who live n the US and who participate in their communities in a noble way, and terrorists in the Middle East who are also Muslims,” Rabbi Davidson said. “Every group, unfortunately, including Jews, have extremists who can be dangerous and disreputable. But her goal is to taint all Muslims with the same hateful brush…. her organization, which has something to do with preventing Islam from taking over America, has been characterized by many, many civil rights organizations as a terrifying hate group. The woman has no credentials at all, but when you speak to people who want to hear a ratification of their own deep seeded prejudices, they buy it. And that’s what’s happened in Great Neck among many. Tragic how this community would accept this kind of garbage.”
If the real threat is that pro-Palestinian sympathizers are shifting American foreign policy support away from a dogmatic support of Israel and to a more open discussion of resolving the Palestinian issue, that would be a more honest and productive discussion – though Obama, in his recent visit to Israel, made clear his support for Israel.
But that is not the discussion at all. What Geller is saying is that Islamists are taking over America, that Sharia Law is creeping into our jurisprudence, and taking away our freedom.
They love to raise the anti-Woman elements of fundamentalist Islam, evoking images of honor killings, where a daughter who is raped is stomped to death by her father and brothers, a wife stoned to death for adultery, and girls prohibited from getting an education. Really? Is that likely to happen?
I worry more about America being taken over by fundamentalist Christians and Catholicism, and the impact on Women’s Rights. Women are actually dying because they are not able to get the health care they need. That is at the heart of the anti-abortion (anti-choice, anti-Women’s Reproductive rights) argument, and Marriage Equality.
There is Islamic extremism and sectarian violence, but the amazing thing about the United States, about New York City, Long Island and our community, is that you can see people of all denominations working, living together. Ride the subway sometime.
The reason Geller’s position is so heinous and prompts “progressive Jews” to recoil is that it brands an entire group – that is, there are more than 1 billion Muslims in the world – as all equally guilty of extremism and terror.
They condemn Beth-El – my synagogue – for its Interfaith program and outreach. How dare we? How dare we stand up for humanity and dignity.
This is exactly why America’s Founding Founders – who were humanists – deliberately left God out of the Constitution, and why they made the First Amendment a freedom FROM religion.
I am proud that Temple Beth-el has as its core principles social justice, that it takes to heart the principles we recite each year during the Holy Days – a foundation laid by our Rabbi Emeritus Jerome Davidson.
The religious extremists got what they wanted: a platform in which to play the victim, and Pamela Geller got what she wanted: notoriety and attention and lots of cash and celebrity, no doubt.
I didn’t come away from Geller’s talk with a firmer grasp on how Sharia Law is taking over America or how Islamists will take over America but, in looking around her acolytes, many wearing NRA buttons, I came to understand better why the Gun Violence Activists are so fervent about holding onto their military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, the kinds that are manufactured for the express purpose of killing as many people as possible on a battlefield. It is because they see our streets as a battlefield against the coming Islamic Revolution.
“EurAbia is coming here. If we keep speaking, we can wake up the American people. What will it take to wake them up? We don’t want America to become Islamaistan. We don’t want to lose our freedom,” Helen Freedman of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, declared at the protest at the Human Rights Commission office.