" />

Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

The Man Pulling the Anti-Sharia Strings

In the evolving race for the GOP presidential nomination, the Islamophobic right has been given no short thrift. The state-by-state nominating process has generally allowed certain candidates to craft a national campaign out of a patchwork of anti-Islamic messages delivered to mostly local audiences.

 

Much of the groundwork for this campaign was laid by one group working to promote so-called “anti-Sharia” legislation in various state capitals.

 

Ever since the public outcry over the construction of the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” in Manhattan, state legislatures across the United States have debated a flurry of “anti-Sharia” measures designed to restrict the implementation of Islamic and other “international” laws in U.S. courts. While the movement has been aptly described by the American Civil Liberties Union as a “solution in search of a problem” and by the Anti-Defamation League as “the stuff of pure paranoia,” it has nonetheless enjoyed, according to the New York Times, an “air of grass-roots spontaneity” that “shrouds its more deliberate origins.”

 

“In fact,” continues the Times, “it is the product of an orchestrated drive that began five years ago in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in the office of a little-known lawyer, David Yerushalmi, a 56-year-old Hasidic Jew with a history of controversial statements about race, immigration, and Islam.”

 

The lengthy Times profile details how, with funding from right-wing outfits like Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy (where Yerushalmi serves as general counsel), Yerushalmi has made a career out of authoring scurrilous reports hyping the use of Sharia law in U.S. courts and crafting model legislation to curb it. Through Yerushalmi’s association with Gaffney, his work has reached a broad network of Islamophobic activists, including GOP presidential candidates Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich and former CIA director R. James Woolsey, as well as bloggers like Pamela Geller, who led the anti-“Ground Zero mosque” charge in early 2011.

 

Yerushalmi is the founder of the Society of Americans for National Existence (SANE), which serves as his primary anti-Sharia vehicle. Think Progress has noted that, while Yerushalmi has claimed curiously to have “never written anything that calls for discrimination against Muslims,” SANE’s website calls explicitly for 20-year prison penalties for those who “support the adherence to Islam,” a declaration of war by the U.S. Congress against “the Muslim Nation or Umma,” the expulsion of all non-citizen Muslims in the United States, and the denial of visas to all Muslims wishing to visit the United States.

 

The Times profile notes that when Yerushalmi and Gaffney were unable to get much traction for their anti-Sharia platform with the federal government, they shifted their efforts to state governments, where provincial attitudes toward Muslims and foreigners were more easily exploitable. So far, at least three state legislatures have passed laws inspired by Yerushalmi’s “American Laws for American Courts” template, and voters in Oklahoma approved a like-minded resolution last November, though this has been temporarily blocked pending a court challenge. Similar legislation has been considered in several other states.

 

With a relative dearth of examples documenting the actual triumph of Sharia law over constitutional law in even domestic relations or commercial courts in the United States—to say nothing of the utter lack of  “pro-Sharia” organizing by Islamic groups—such efforts amount, at best, to a waste of time. At their worst, especially given Yerushalmi’s body of racialist scholarship and Gaffney’s lengthy neoconservative track record, they represent an effort by Islamophobes to keep American Muslims at the margins of society and to build support for a militaristic, anti-Islamic foreign policy.

 

—Peter Certo

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

The brainchild of Sears-Roebuck heiress Nina Rosenwald, the Gatestone Institute is a New York-based advocacy organization formerly chaired by John Bolton that is notorious for spreading misinformation about Muslims and advocating extremely hawkish views on everything from Middle East policy to immigration.


Conrad Black is a former media mogul closely connected to rightist political factions in the United States who was convicted in July 2007 for fraud and obstruction of justice and later pardoned by his friend President Trump.


David Friedman is U.S. Ambassador to Israel under Donald Trump. He is known for his extreme views on Israel, which include opposition to the creation of a Palestinian state and support for Israeli settlements.


Jason Greenblatt is the Special Representative for International Negotiations for President Donald Trump primarily working on the Israel-Palestine conflict.


The neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies has re-established itself as a primary driver of hawkish foreign policy, especially in the Middle East, during the Trump administration.


Rupert Murdoch is the head of News Corp, the parent company of Fox News, and a long-time supporter of neoconservative campaigns to influence U.S. foreign policy.


Shmuley Boteach is a “celebrity rabbi” known for his controversial “pro-Israel” advocacy.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

A series of escalations in both word and deed have raised fears of U.S.-Iranian military confrontation, either direct or by proxy. It is urgent that cooler heads prevail – in European capitals as in Tehran and Washington – to head off the threat of a disastrous war.


Vladimir Putin excels at taking advantage of mistakes made by Russia’s adversaries to further his country’s interests. Donald Trump’s Iran policy has given Putin plenty of opportunity to do that.


The Trump administration’s claims about purported Iranian threats have been repeated by credulous reporters and TV news programs far and wide.


This is the cartoon that the international edition of the New York Times should have run, at least as regards U.S. policy toward Iran.


The assault on Tripoli by Khalifa Haftar, Libya’s renegade general and leader of the self-anointed Libyan National Army (LNA), has forced an indefinite postponement of key UN peace efforts in the country even as the Trump White House announced that the president recognized Haftar’s “important” role in fighting terrorists.


With all eyes focused these days on Donald Trump and his myriad crimes, John Bolton’s speeches are a reminder that even worse options are waiting in the wings.


Advocates of cutting U.S. aid to Israel rather than using it as leverage must understand how this aid works, how big a challenge it represents for advocacy, and how to make a potentially successful argument against it.


RightWeb
share