By Gail Rubin
For calling out White supremacy and violence – You’re brave.
For calling out Islamist supremacy, violence, slavery, and genocide – You’re a racist and Islamophobic.
Either all racism is bad, or all racism is acceptable. Call out with equal measure Antifa and the Alt-right along with Black Lives Matter and White Supremacists. Call out KKK and radical Islamic terrorists with equal force. Decry car-ramming murders in Jerusalem as you would those in Charlottesville. They inhabit the same universe of hate: kill, maim, destroy.
Do not respond with your zero-sum game of identity politics. Hate is a disease. All decent and good people must work together to stamp out this cancer. Do not remain stuck in an echo chamber of moral anemia wherein you are outraged by the KKK or Alt-right, but not by egregious acts inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and ISIS.
Be sickened by a local Imam who invoked the name of G-d (Allah) in a call to slaughter Jews everywhere. Be proud of a community that rallied on behalf of our Muslim neighbors when their house of worship was vandalized, but be ashamed by the relative quiescence when the mosque’s clergy made an open call to arms to slaughter Jews – “…Oh Allah, destroy them and do not spare their young or their elderly” (Imam Ammar Shahin, July 14, 2017).
I am an American. I believe in religious pluralism. I am outraged by a local cleric that denigrates democracy and the U.S. Constitution as “idols” not to be believed. In a November 11, 2016, sermon, the same Imam Shahin called the foundations of our country “idols”: “…these things, these matters, democracy, constitution, all of these things that people make today, are like the idols that the infidels used to worship, which were made from dates. The infidels used to worship idols from dates.”
If that is not enough, then be shocked by a guest Imam (described as an “honorable scholar”) that lectured in January 2017 at the same Davis mosque and called for the death penalty for homosexuals. Sheikh Al-Nabulsi said: “Homosexuality involves a filthy place, and does not generate offspring. Homosexuality leads to the destruction of the homosexual. That is why, brothers, homosexuality carries the death penalty.”
Or, don’t be shocked. Don’t be outraged. Give this Imam and other hate-mongers a pass. Accept his apology for hurting our feelings. Let’s just wait and see.
Apologies do not erase hateful ideologies. Really, they do not. Neither do closed-door press conferences with carefully selected spokespersons “heal” the “pain” of a call to genocide. Control the press, carefully craft the feel-good speeches, and give a big yawn as this unfortunate incident goes away. But did it?
In the August 13, 2017 article by Vanguard editor David Greenwald, “Sunday Commentary: The anti-Imam Protest and the Need for Unity,” Mr. Greenwald derides an August 9 community vigil that took place in protest of Imam Ammar Shahin’s murderous sermon: “Now we see a bigger picture creeping into play. These are all voices of dissension in our community or outside our community, trying to use this unfortunate incident to stir things up.” Indeed, blame the victims and provide cover for the perpetrator.
A nefarious plot to stir things up after a call for genocide? And outsiders too? Oh forsooth. Does he refer to CAIR’s executive director from Sacramento (not a Davis resident) or the Board Chair from Sacramento’s Jewish Community Relations Council (not a Davis resident) who were both invited to attend the July 28 press conference and who both played a hand in the negotiated apology of Imam Shahin? No. Those “outsiders” were welcomed by Mr. Greenwald, but not so for other friends of Davis residents who were invited to a vigil in lawful exercise of the rights to free speech.
Bring in a few supporting residents from the greater Sacramento area that have a different moral compass and they are denigrated as “outside agitators.” Double standard? You bet. So, who came to the August 9 vigil in Davis Central Park to protest Imam Shahin? Mostly Jews? No, just decent people from all walks of life who know good from evil. Mostly Davis residents? Yes, with some friends from the Sacramento area. How do I know: Because I am that aforesaid organizer of the vigil to whom Mr. Greenwald so hastily assigned some nefarious motive. He rushed to judgment without any attempt to interview any of us who stood along 5th Street on farmers’ market day. He stated it was organized by someone from Congregation Bet Haverim. It was not. I am not a member of that congregation. He claimed it was a “Jewish” protest. It was not. A plurality of attendees were not of the Jewish faith. And why would that even matter? He claimed some “outsider” organized the vigil. Wrong again. I have been a resident of Davis for the last 18 years.
Mr. Greenwald, some simple journalistic integrity would have given you all that you needed to know to publish a story that wasn’t imbued with insulting innuendo and nasty speculation. Is it possible that the vigil was held by those of us with sincere beliefs that differ from yours? Is your negligent reportage an attempt to stifle our free speech and make us look disingenuous? Sadly, your rush to judgment of who we are is in glaring contrast to your rush to forgive a cleric who unabashedly calls for genocide of an entire minority group.
“There are forces out there that want to divide our community,” states Mr. Greenwald. He is correct. More than that, those forces want to divide our nation and the world at large. We now have White Supremacists marching brazenly without any white-hooded disguise and Imams preaching murderous screeds from the pulpit that are videotaped (by the mosque) and unapologetically posted on the mosque’s website. Hate is out there for all to see, front and center.
Only those of us asleep would have failed to notice the horrendous anti-Semitism occurring on our college campuses. UC Davis has the ignoble distinction to be rated among the top 10 U.S. universities for anti-Semitic activity. (https://theaggie.org/2016/03/30/five-uc-schools-rank-in-top-10-most-anti-semitic-campuses-in-america/). Given this campus climate, we should all be concerned that UC Davis Muslim students are being mentored and taught by Imam Ammar Shahin. In fact, he has been teaching classes to UCD students on campus, making use of public facilities at a publicly-funded university. Is he inciting those students to hate and kill Jews? Is this in keeping with the university’s community standards? We should all be worried. (Jewish students speak out about the alarming rate of Jew-hatred on college campuses https://youtu.be/gAyFlByb64M).
Extremist ideology will only change once we remove the imams and the mosque leadership who are complicit and who have unfettered access to a powerful platform. These are not people of faith; they are not spiritual leaders. They are dangerous propagandists and they need to be removed.
We are told from Jewish teaching, “The Sayings of the Fathers” (Pirke Avot) as well as from the sayings of the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., that “justice delayed is justice denied.” Imam Shahin and the governing board of the Islamic Center of Davis must go.
So sorry, but the “sorry” is simply not good enough.
*For more information on Imam Ammar Shahin’s sermons and about the community vigil that was held on August 9, 2017, please go to the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6x1hebBEA4&feature=em-share_video_user
**To sign a Petition calling for the Imam’s resignation, go to: https://www.change.org/p/islamic-center-of-davis-mosque-board-islamic-center-of-davis-fire-your-antisemitic-imam
Gail Rubin is a retired attorney and 18-year resident of Davis.