How the Anti-Defamation League Fuels Islamophobia
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During the post-9/11 period, the ADL engaged in a number of actions that targeted Muslims and Arabs. It also marked a time when the ADL, with allies like Daniel Pipes’ Freedom Forum, was busily labeling mainstream Muslim community groups as “terrorist sympathizers” and trying to exclude them from the public sphere. Although the ADL was rebuffed, it brought pressure to prevent representatives from the Council on American Islamic Relations ( CAIR), the country’s largest Muslim civil liberties group, from speaking at the November 2001 Florida Commission on Human Relations annual conference, “Day of Dialogue Across Ethnic, Cultural and Religious Lines,” and then, around a month later, at a public hearing of the State of California Select Committee on Hate Crimes. 
In 2003, an ADL press release praised President George W. Bush for appointing Daniel Pipes to the board of the United States Institute for Peace. Pipes believes that “militant Islam” is “infiltrating America” and supports student monitoring of professors for their views on the Arab-Israeli conflict.  While the ADL commented on Pipes’ “important approach and perspective,” Muslim and Arab American leaders characterized his appointment as “a slap in the face for Islam” and described him as “a bigot” who “promotes fear and hatred of many communities, not just Arabs and Muslims."  As a result of strong opposition to Pipes by Senator Edward Kennedy and other Senate Judiciary Committee members, President Bush had to resort to a recess appointment of Pipes.
Another attack on Islam and the Muslim community took place in 2004, when the ADL, along with the American Jewish Congress and the Zionist Organization of America, charged that Muslim students at the University of California Irvine who planned to wear Shahadas, green Arabic-covered stoles, at graduation were expressing hate and glorifying suicide bombers. By the time the three Jewish groups had bothered to get an accurate translation of the Arabic, “The O’Reilly Factor” and others had already repeated the charges as fact. On one side the stole contained the Shahada or Muslim declaration of faith (“There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is Allah’s prophet”), while the other side said, “Oh, God, increase my knowledge.”
The ADL apologized, but insisted that it remained “deeply troubled” by a garment that, it said, “has been closely associated with Palestinian terrorists.” The American Jewish Congress did not respond, and the Zionist Organization of America saw no need to apologize, afterwards calling for action against “this outrageous and immoral conduct” that, according to them, exhibited insensitivity to “what many find as offensive.” In an article that was otherwise sympathetic to the students, the Jewish Daily Forward headline, “Muslim Students Get Apology in a Tiff Over ‘Shahada’ Scarf” minimized the impact on the students, their families and their community.
In the past decade, the ADL has been on the anti-Muslim side of three high-profile Islamophobic campaigns: the multi-year initiative to block the building of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center; an anti-Muslim smear campaign targeting educator Debbie Almontaser and the Khalil Gibran International Academy, the country’s first English-Arabic dual language public school; and Park51, the proposed mosque and Islamic cultural center in lower Manhattan. Members of what Center for American Progress researchers have called “the Islamophobia network in America” played a role in instigating each of these local campaigns—fear-mongering, providing misinformation, and using the right-wing media and blogosphere to foment or sustain a high level of anti-Islam sentiment. And each received some measure of support from members of the local Jewish establishment, including the ADL.
The Boston mosque controversy took five years to play out. Instigated in 2002 by William Sapers, who had done work with the ADL, opposition to the mosque construction was subsequently backed by Charles Jacobs of the David Project, Citizens for Peace and Tolerance, and other hardline pro-Israel groups and individuals, including Steven Emerson, who has claimed that Islam “sanctions genocide, planned genocide, as part of its religious doctrine.” After the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) broke ground in 2002, the right-wing Boston Herald—using information provided mostly by Emerson— charged the ISB with having connections to “radical Islamic” groups, such as Hamas and Hezbollah. Newspaper coverage included an incendiary picture of the planned mosque next to one of Osama bin Laden.