New England Jewish Community Discussion on the Islamist Threat
For over five years, we have been trying to break the silence surrounding the controversial Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center run by Boston’s Muslim American Society (MAS) – a group that federal prosecutors call “the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in America.”
Boston’s mainstream media have been – in the cases of the Herald and Fox 25 – cowed into silence by the threat of legal action. They have ceased reporting what they know. In the case of the Globe, which first paid for and then buried an investigative report on the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) mosque, the paper’s politically correct mindset prevents it from reporting the facts as they know them to be.
A few weeks ago, we were able to force open a discussion about the Islamic center within the Jewish community, whose leaders, not unlike the media, had chosen not to reveal what they knew about the
threats posed by the ISB/MAS. The catalyst was a column in Boston’s Jewish Advocate criticizing Newton Rabbi Eric Gurvis for his public embrace of the Muslim American Society leadership. Ironically, his embrace came soon after one of the Muslim American Society’s imams was caught on tape telling followers to “pick up the gun and the sword, don’t be afraid to go out into the world and do your job.”
In this section of our website, we document the resultant debate within the New England Jewish community – on how to talk about radical islam in our midst and how to talk to each other about such a controversial topic. Here we list the key articles and documents which have driven the controversy. For an extensive chronological account of the debate, follow the link to see the “Controversy Timeline.”
Summary of Events
On May 22nd, 2010, despite warnings from the Boston Jewish leadership about the extremist background of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick visited the Islamic center and publicly embraced the extremist Imam Abdullah Faaruuq. Shortly after Patrick’s visit to the Islamic center, independent candidate for Massachusetts governor Tim Cahill criticized Patrick for pandering to Islamic extremists. During a press conference held by MAS to condemn Cahill’s statements, Newton Rabbi Eric Gurvis embraced the head of the MAS, Bilal Kaleem, for which he was criticized by APT President Charles Jacobs in a Jewish Advocate article. Upset at Dr. Jacobs, 70 Massachusetts rabbis issued a letter of collective condemnation, accusing him of “waging a destructive campaign against Boston’ Muslim community.” The rabbis’ letter resulted in a massive outpouring of support for Charles Jacobs and Americans for Peace and Tolerance, as well as of condemnation of the rabbis – with Christians, Muslims, and Jews speaking out for APT and against the rabbis’ false statements. After the jump is a timeline documenting the controversy.
05.07.09 – “Leaders are Extremist”
On the heels of the opening of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, Charles Jacobs and Dennis Hale publish an op-ed in The Boston Globe, detailing the Islamic extremist and terrorist ties of the ISBCC’s leadership.
Rabbi Toba Spitzer publishes a letter to the editor in The Boston Globe criticizing Charles Jacobs for protesting the mosque’s opening. Spitzer claims he does not represent Boston’s Jewish community.
03.06.10 – “Friends and Protectors of One Another”
Imam Faaruuq gives the “Gun and Sword” sermon at the Brighton-based Yusuf Masjid.
04.17.10 – “MAS Leaders Meeting with Governor Patrick”
Faaruuq and other MAS leaders meet with Deval Patrick at the ISBCC in preparation for the 1000 Muslim Day of Action at the Islamic center.
Deval Patrick meets with 1100 Muslims during the Day of Action at the ISBCC and embraces Imam Faaruuq.
05.27.10 – “Cahill: Patrick Pandering to Muslims”
Tim Cahill issues a statement criticizing Deval Patrick for pandering to Muslims.
MAS holds press conference with interfaith leaders, including Rabbi Eric Gurvis – who’s prominently featured in press coverage hugging Bilal Kaleem. The leaders blast Cahill for his remarks.
Local CBS outlet, WBZ Channel 4 confronts Imam Faaruuq at the anti-Cahill press conference with footage of his controversial sermon.
05.28.10 – “The Imam and the Governor”
APT releases the “Imam and the Governor” video.
06.04.10 – “What’s up with Patrick?”
Charles’s column in the Jewish Advocate, “What’s Up with Patrick?” is on the Faaruuq/Patrick controversy and criticizes Rabbi Eric Gurvis for embracing Bilal Kaleem.
Faaruuq interviewed for World Net Daily in article on Deval Patrick’s embrace.
06.07.10 – “What’s Up with Patrick?”
Charles’s column, “What’s Up with Patrick?” is republished in Family Security Matters
06.09.10 – “Mickey Mouse Multiculturalism”
Boston Phoenix editors write editorial, “Mickey Mouse Multiculturalism,” criticizing Deval Patrick and the interfaith leaders who condemned Cahill for ignoring the MAS’s desire to spread Sharia Law, and for discriminating against gays and women.
70 rabbis and rabbinical students attack Charles Jacobs in an open letter in the Jewish Advocate, accusing him of “waging a destructive campaign against Boston’s Muslim community, which is based on half-truths, innuendo, and unproven conspiracy theories.”
06.10.10 – “PJTV: The Massachusetts Mega Mosque”
Charles appears on PJTV with Bill Whittle to talk about the Faaruuq/Patrick controversy and again criticizes Rabbi Eric Gurvis.
A number of letters and articles in support of Charles are published on Solomonia blog.
Richard Landes discusses Jacob’s op-ed and the rabbis’ letter on Augean Stables
Jewish Russian Telegraph compares the rabbis’ who attacked Charles to Soviets who imprisoned the critics of the “beautiful socialist reality” in gulags.
06.15.10 – “Othering, Rabbinic Style”
JStreetJive blog blasts the 70 rabbis for ignoring Charles Jacobs’s warnings about the radical leadership of the ISBCC for years.
Jewish Advocate publishes letters to the editor supporting Charles by Jews, Christians, and Muslims – as well as two letters criticizing Charles by Jewish Community Relations Council Executive Director Nancy Kaufman as well as 17 mostly Conservative rabbis.
06.16.10 – “The Silence of the Rabbis”
Charles responds to Rabbis’ letter in his column in the Jewish Advocate – “The Silence of the Rabbis”
Following her letter of support of Rabbi Gurvis in the Jewish Advocate, Solomonia calls for the resignation of Jewish Community Relations Council Executive Director Nancy Kaufman.
Janet Tassel describes the controversy on NewsRealBlog
APT publishes an open letter to the Jewish community in the Jewish Advocate
06.23.10 – “Enough Already”
The Jewish Advocate editorial on the issue calls for both sides of the disagreement to end the debate.
06.23.10 – “Argument and Unity”
Jewish Advocate op-ed by Barry Shrage, the head of the Boston Combined Jewish Philanthropies calls for civility and comes out in support of Jacobs : “Those who think that the Rabbis visit to the mosque was a heroic act …need to acknowledge that the questions about the political goals of the MAS and the radical origins of the founders of the ISB are real. “
06.23.10 – “Quarreling only Saps Our Strength”
Jewish Advocate Op-Ed by Rob Leikind, New England Director of the American Jewish Committee, and Seth Klarman, Chair of the David Project.
06.23.10 – “Engaging the Other”
Jamaica Plain rabbi Victor Reinstein writes about his successful relationship with the Muslim American Society.
06.23.10 – “Blind Faith”
APT Chairman of the Board Dennis Hale’s letter to the editor, published in the Jewish Advocate.
06.30.10 – “Shooting the Messenger”
A comprehensive synopsis of the controversy written from the pro-Jacobs viewpoint in Frontpage Magazine.
07.01.10 – “Packed House at Muslim Forum”
Jewish Advocate report on APT’s highly successful townhall-style event about the Rabbis controversy: “The cars lined the streets of the residential neighborhood for blocks around Temple Beth El-Atereth Israel in Newton. Inside, several hundred people packed the spacious social hall. The draw: Charles Jacobs.”
07.01.10 – “Our leaders: tame as lambs”
An open letter to Jewish leadership from the Russian Jewish community of Massachusetts, published in the Jewish Advocate.