ADL, Reform Hit House Hearings on Extremist Islam; AJC Praises Them

The major American Jewish civil rights organizations are reacting strongly to Rep. Peter King’s congressional hearings into American Muslim radicalization, which opened Thursday on Capitol Hill.

The Anti-Defamation League issued a public statement (here) arguing that the hearing has “engendered an unfortunate atmosphere of blame and suspicion of the broader American Muslim community.”

The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism publicly decried the hearings in a blog post on its website (here) by associate director Mark Pelavin, charging that the hearing “singles out one religious community for investigation, rather than exploring the dangers of radicalism wherever it may be found.”

And the American Jewish Committee weighed in with an op-ed article in the New York Jewish Week praising King’s hearing as “a welcome development.”

AJC also submitted five pages of formal written testimony to King’s committee, cataloguing incidents of Americans carrying out attacks or, more often, trying to. The list includes Muslim immigrants, American-born Muslims and Americans who became converts “to extremist Islam.” (Who knew there was a separate ceremony for the extremist kind?)

This story "ADL, Reform Hit House Hearings on Extremist Islam; AJC Praises Them" was written by J.J. Goldberg.

Both AJC documents are the work of Yehudit Barsky, the director of the agency’s Division on Middle East and International Terrorism.

The ADL, in addition to its public statement, sent a letter to King signed by national director Abe Foxman and national chairman Robert Sugarman, laying out objections and warnings in greater detail. It said the ADL over the past year had “tracked an objectionable, intensified level of anti-Muslim bigotry in a variety of public forums.,” which made the hearing particularly incendiary. And the letter said that American police and intelligence had done a good job of stopping incidents before they happened, but that

In plain terms, hearings like this one actually increase the danger.

Barsky took a slightly different approach. As though government, the media and law enforcement hadn’t been talking about the threat of Muslim terrorists nonstop for the past decade, she warned:

Translation: It’s not enough to hunt down the people who throw the bombs — we’ve got to go after the “ideology and its purveyors” — that is, the nasty ideas and the people who discuss them.

The ADL letter also recalled the league’s research into other varieties of violent extremism that are on the rise and said King’s committee should be looking into those, too — essentially echoing what Pelavin wrote.

Barsky, again, didn’t agree. Here’s what she wrote (note how objectors like ADL and RAC get lumped with the Bad Guys as “organizations, Muslim and others”):

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.


J.J. Goldberg

J.J. Goldberg

Jonathan Jeremy “J.J.” Goldberg is editor-at-large of the Forward, where he served as editor in chief for seven years (2000-2007).

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