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Israel and Jews Blamed for “Islamophobia”Jeff WaltonMay 19, 2011
The following is one of two articles about the “I Am My Brother’s Keeper: Confronting Islamophobia” conference in Seattle. To read the other article, click here.
Israel and U.S. Jews came under repeated criticism during several presentations at the May 6-7 conference “I Am My Brother’s Keeper: Confronting Islamophobia” held at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle.
A workshop entitled “Islamophobia in U.S. Middle East Policy” produced many of the more controversial statements.
“The discourse in this country at the moment is very Islamophobic,” asserted author and workshop leader Kathleen Christison. This “anti-Muslim discourse,” she said, was driven by “pressure from the pro-Israel lobby and Islamophobia lobby” and resulted in policies that favored Israel. Christison often seemed to use the phrase “Israel lobby” as a euphemism for American Jews who support the Jewish homeland.
“Politicians are all afraid of opposing Israel publicly for fear of losing campaign funds,” claimed the former CIA analyst. She sought to “draw a line” of connection between popular opinion allegedly created by the Israel lobby and policy decisions made by the U.S. government.
Christison condemned “neo-conservative fanatics” whom she termed “initiators of Islamophobia.” But she also denounced Tea Party activists, “pro-Israeli zealots,” and “Christian fundamentalist extremists” as forces shaping U.S. foreign policy and working to “advance Israeli regional hegemony.”
“It’s hard to trace a direct line, but I think we can all see elements of Islamophobia” in these groups, according to Christison. She defined “neo-cons” as “propagandists who ended up as policy makers in the Bush administration.”
The pro-Palestinian writer lamented that President Obama had been unable “to stand up to anybody.” But she feared that Islamophobia would be even worse if former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, or real estate magnate Donald Trump became president.
“We enable all international law violations that Israel is committing,” Christison charged, citing $3 billion in military aid granted annually by the U.S. government to Israel.
Christison seemed to regret the relative calm in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. “The problem is that Israel has peace right now – there is very little terrorism and has been very little terrorism for several years,” she said. “What we need to fight for is justice, not peace.”
“Peace is a benefit to the powerful – it allows the powerful to continue to oppress the powerless,” Christison contended. “Justice gives the powerless some kind of voice in resisting – hopefully not violently – the oppression under which they are.”
“All of the major groups who are involved in promoting Islamophobia are interlinked in many cases; they are the same people in one group or another,” Christison maintained. “They are Christian fundamentalists, Christian Zionists, Tea Partiers, Israeli supporters, and a lot of this Islamophobia comes from Israel but it also comes from Israeli supporters.”
Christison fretted that Islamophobia was becoming mainstream. She cited books critical of Islam that were produced by major publishing houses as evidence of this trend.
“The Israel lobby is very important in policymaking,” according to Christison. She spun out her conspiracy theory with insinuations: “Who do you think it is who writes legislation having to do with Israel in Congress? Who is it who makes campaign contributions that prevent congressmen and senators from criticizing Israel?”
“The Christian right supports it [Israel] more than Jews do,” responded one questioner.
“The Christian right is awful, I agree with you,” Christison said. “But the Israel lobby has been around longer than the Christian right. “
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