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How the Anti-Defamation League Fuels Islamophobia

The ADL's anti-Arab, pro-Israel mindset has led the group to perpetuate an anti-Muslim worldview.

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According to a 2005 Los Angeles Times article on the seven Palestinians and one Kenyan who would become known as the Los Angeles 8:

After the arrests in 1987, Anti-Defamation League officials claimed that the investigation had been triggered by information developed by their organization. They would back away from this boast a few years later, however, in the wake of embarrassing disclosures that ADL operatives in several cities, including Los Angeles, had kept thousands of covert files on people they deemed worthy of extra vigilance. Indeed, ADL files on [defendants] Hamide and Shehadeh did turn up. (Peter H. King, “18 Years Waiting for a Gavel to Fall,” Los Angeles Times, June 29, 2005, [accessed Dec. 22, 2011]).

The government case against the Los Angeles 8 did not conclude until 2007, when the government dropped charges. The presiding judge held that "’the attenuation of these proceedings is a festering wound on the body of these respondents [Khader M. Hamide and Michel I. Shehadeh] and an embarrassment to the rule of law’ and . . . [found] that ‘the government has failed to carry its burden of proving respondents deportable based on clear, unequivocal, and convincing evidence.’” (“The L.A. 8 Decision,” n.d., Progressive Jewish Alliance Policy Statement, [accessed December 22, 2011]). Although the government brought no criminal charges against the defendants, they did indict six for visa violations and charged the two permanent residents, on the basis of their association with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, with distributing materials that supported “world communism” and the overthrow of the U.S. government (Akram & Johnson, “Race, Civil Rights, and Immigration Law after September 11, 2001,” 317-321). The Progressive Jewish Alliance noted that the defendants had engaged in “activities that would clearly be constitutionally protected if undertaken by U.S. citizens” (“The L.A. 8 Decision,” Progressive Jewish Alliance Policy Statement).

[16] For a discussion of a shift from “the emphasis . . . on the PLO and the conflation of Arabs with terrorism” to a focus on “Islamic terrorism,” see Deepa Kumar, Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire (Chicago, Illinois: Haymarket Books, 2012), 121. Also Kambiz GhaneaBassiri, A History of Islam in America (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2010), 307-309.

[17] Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York: Free Press, 1996); and Huntington, “The Clash of Civilizations?” Foreign Affairs 72 (Summer, 1993): 22-28. As Edward Said has noted, between the 1993 essay and the 1996 book, Huntington’s work lost its question mark. (Said, “The Myth of ‘The Clash of Civilizations,’” Media Education Foundation Transcript, 1998, 2. [accessed Dec. 3, 2011]).

[18] See, for example, Sunaina Maira, “Islamophobia and the War on Terror: Youth, Citizenship, and Dissent,” in Islamophobia: The Challenge of Pluralism in the 21st Century, eds. John L. Esposito & Ibrahim Kalin (New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 122; and Mehdi Semati, “Islamophobia, Culture and Race in the Age of Empire,” Cultural Studies 24, No. 2 (2010), 257, 265-266,,%20Culture%20and%20Race%20in%20the%20Age%20of%20Empire.pdf (accessed Feb. 10, 2012) . As Nadine Naber has maintained about the post-9/11 period: “the arbitrary, open-ended scope of the domestic ‘war on terror’ emerged through the association between a wide range of signifiers such as particular names (e.g., Mohammed), dark skin, particular forms of dress (e.g., a headscarf or a beard) and particular nations of origin (e.g., Iraq or Pakistan) as signifiers of an imagined ‘Arab/Middle Eastern/Muslim' enemy. In this sense, the category ‘Arab/Middle Eastern/Muslim’ operated as a constructed category that lumps together several incongruous subcategories (such as Arabs and Iranians, including Christians, Jews and Muslims, and all Muslims from Muslim-majority countries, as well as persons who are perceived to be Arab, Middle Eastern, or Muslim, such as South Asians, including Sikhs and Hindus). Persons perceived to be ‘Arab/Middle Eastern/Muslim’ were targeted by harassment or violence based on the assumption ‘they’ embody a potential for terrorism and are thus threats to U.S. national security and deserving of discipline and punishment.” See Nadine Naber, “’Look, Mohammed the Terrorist Is Coming!’: Cultural Racism, Nation-Based Racism, and the Intersectionality of Oppressions after 9/11,” The Scholar and the Feminist Online 6, no. 3 (Summer 2008), (accessed Dec. 2, 2011); also the later version of Naber’s article (with the same title) in Race and Arab Americans Before and After 9/11, eds. Amaney Jamal & Nadine Naber (Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 2008), 278-279.

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