by Jerry Gordon (April 2012)
On March 9th, the Florida American Law for American Courts (ALAC) legislation did not reach the floor of the Senate for a final vote. This was falsely trumpeted by the Florida CAIR director, Hasan Shibly, as a Shariah victory. It was not.
Rebutting the false claims of Florida CAIR Director Shibly and United Voices for America led by ex Tampa CAIR executive Ahmed Bedier were the following facts. The ALAC legislation (SB1360) died because Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos didn’t call up the bill, although calendared for action, because he wanted his pet legislation passed before he left office. As evidenced by the overwhelming House passage of the ALAC legislation (HB 1209) by a vote of 92 to 24, and all the hurdles passed by the Senate version of ALAC (SB1360) the measure would have been adopted if it had not been for the actions of Senate President Haridopolos. Bedier, head of United Voices for America, was caught on video promoting the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) false talking points that the measure violated freedom of worship provisions of both the state and US Constitutions by barring Jewish Halacha and Bet din court rulings. Incoming Florida legislative leadership contacted by the author during the 2012 ALAC legislative battle indicated support for measure’s re-introduction in next year’s session.
A review of the CAIR playbook for combating the ALAC legislation contained vicious ad hominem attacks on David Yerushalmi, Esq. the author of the ALAC model law. CAIR further falsely alleged that Shariah is not in violation of Article VI of the US Constitution. In addition, the Muslim Brotherhood front group endorsed ADL’s specious arguments.
In parallel to CAIR’s national attack on ALAC another Muslim Brotherhood front, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), announced on March 5th, a national program “to promote religious freedom and combat Islamophobia.” The ICNA press release noted the scope of this Shariah promotional campaign:
ICNA’s campaign, Defending Religious Freedom, Understanding Shariah, will include a 25 city education tour to introduce the Islamic faith to the American public. ICNA is also promoting awareness through a public service announcement campaign, billboards across the country, college campus seminars, radio ads and a national hotline dedicated to addressing questions about Shariah and the Islamic faith.
According to sources involved with the Florida ALAC legislation the bogus arguments of CAIR, the UVA and ADL were not recognized in the 2012 legislative debates over adoption of ALAC.
Because of the ADL’s peculiar stand, the National Conference on Jewish Affairs (NCJA) issued a press release calling for the resignation of long term ADL national director, Abe Foxman. The ADL involvement in future legislative deliberations of ALAC in Florida and other states should be sidelined given ADL’s mistaken views which emboldened CAIR and other Muslim Brotherhood groups opposing the legislation. There is also disturbing evidence that Catholic University law Professor Marshall Breger, the Vice Chairman of the Jewish Policy Council (JPC) of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) has become a prominent figure emboldening Muslim Brotherhood objections to the ALAC legislation.
This article delves into why Jewish defense groups and alleged conservative Republican Jewish figures have made common cause with Muslim Brotherhood front groups in opposition to the ALAC legislation. Legislation that seeks to protect all Americans against the possible recognition of Shariah law in our courts that could supplant bedrock Judeo-Christian values, the core of the US Constitution and the law of this land.
The Shariah victory that failed in Florida
The Florida Legislature ended its 2012 session on March 9, 2012 with an important bill, SB 1360 “Application of Foreign Laws in Certain Cases” not sent to the floor for a final vote even though it was scheduled. The neutral Florida law would preserve basic constitutional rights guaranteed all citizens and thwart adoption of foreign laws depriving women, gays, Jews, Christians and Muslim citizens of their civil rights. Among matters that prompted consideration of the Florida legislation was a controversial decision by a Florida Circuit Court of Appeal in Tampa wherein a Judge ordered Muslim complainants to follow foreign law in a community dispute.
The stated objective of Florida SB 1360 was:
Application of Foreign Law in Certain Cases; Clarifying that the public policies expressed in the act apply to violations of a natural person’s fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges guaranteed by the State Constitution or the United States Constitution; declaring that certain decisions rendered under such laws, codes, or systems are void; providing that the act may not be construed to require or authorize any court to adjudicate, or prohibit any religious organization from adjudicating, ecclesiastical matters in violation of specified constitutional provisions or to conflict with any federal treaty or other laws.
This important measure would have barred application of foreign laws from Islamic countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
The Florida version of the American Law for American Courts (ALAC) was based in part on the model law developed for the American Public Policy Alliance (APPA) by David Yerushalmi, Esq. The ALAC model has been enacted in several states: Arizona, Louisiana and Tennessee.
A needless last minute dog fight between outgoing Senate President Mike Haridopolos (R-Merritt Island) and the ALAC Senate Bill 1360 sponsor Sen. Alan Hays (R-Umatilla) effectively ran out the clock for a measure that had strong support for a veto-proof passage. Haridopolos’ likely successor as Senate President in 2013 could be Sen. Don Gaetz, who represents a Senate district in the Florida Panhandle. Gaetz in an email response to the author went on record in support of the ALAC measure. That and the strong support shown in the passage of the House version might indicate ultimate passage of ALAC in the next legislative session.
However, informed sources advised us that the ADL may have been behind a last minute amendment submitted by Coral Gables State Senator Miguel Diaz de la Portillo that would have “virtually gutted the legislation.” Sen. De la Portillo was alleged to have said that the ALAC bill sponsor, fellow Republican Sen. Hays, “had no international law expertise.” We understand that Sen. De la Portillo assured irate district supporters that he would withdraw the hostile amendment but never did.
Ahmed Bedier of (UVA) labeled the legislation as hateful to Muslims and in violation of constitutional guarantees of freedom of worship. He was particularly outraged by the sponsor of SB1360, Sen. Alan Hays, who passed copies of an anti-Shariah booklet to fellow members stating that it was a threat to the US Constitution.
Note Bedier’s comments on the Florida ALAC Senate Bill in this Miami Herald report, “Religious Leaders condemn anti-Shariah bill”:
This proves this bill is exactly what we’ve been saying it is. It is intended to target the Muslim community in Florida, and it is intended to target and limit religious freedoms for Muslims.
Bedier has in effect accused the sponsors of SB1360 of singling out Islam, when that was not the intent. The intent was to protect all citizens and thwart adoption of foreign laws.
The people’s representatives will do their job as they deem appropriate. If it passes, well. If not, there’s always next legislative session with a new freshman class.
Hassan Shibley, the Florida CAIR director noted the interfaith supporters that allegedly contributed to the “Shariah victory”:
This is a great success not only for the Muslim community, but for all Americans who believe in the constitutional protections of freedom of religion.
Among those interfaith supporters who opposed the bill was the ADL.
The Florida regional executive director of the ADL, Andrew Rosenkranz, a few days before the scheduled vote on SB 1360, weighed in with the novel argument that the legislation would bar Bet Din, Jewish rabbinic courts in matters of domestic relations important to observant Jews. In a March 7th press release, Rosenkranz of the ADL said:
This legislation addresses a non-existent threat, but what many don’t realize is that it would be harmful to the religious freedom of all Floridians, including observant Jews.
Rabbi Jon Housman, knowledgeable about the differences between Jewish Halacha and Shariah, disagreed with the ADL stance. He noted that:
No jurisdiction recognizes the efficacy of a Get to dissolve a marriage, legal dissolution of which is controlled by State statute in every State and Territory of the US.
On February 28, 2012, Florida Muslim Capital day, an investigative team from The United West (TUW) captured on video Ahmed Bedier of the UVA extolling the ADL talking points in opposition to the Florida ALAC legislation. Watch Bedier in this TUW You Tube video:
Bedier went out of his way in the TUW video to nefariously attack the author of the ALAC model law, David Yerushalmi, as a “racist bigot” and was shown using the ADL material in lobbying a Florida legislator. The ADL/UVA effort was not what killed the legislation for this session. Note the comments of someone involved in the Florida ALAC legislative battle:
The ADL should be lambasted for their opposition to 1360 because they were dishonest in their objections.
The Southern Palm Beach County Jewish Community Relations Council may also have been complicit. Sources indicate that the group may have underwritten ADL travel and related expenses for lobbying in Tallahassee during the legislative session.
Nevertheless, the ADL engaged in a disinformation campaign against the ALAC legislation that was bogus. Tom Trento of TUW believes that this UVA/Bedier investigative video should be used in a national campaign combating ADL and Muslim Brotherhood lobbying against other state ALAC legislation.
The Odd Couple – the ADL and the Muslim Brotherhood
The ADL forgot to check out Bedier’s terrorist and Islamic antisemitic track record. Bedier was the spokesperson for convicted felon and former University of South Florida computer science professor Sami Al-Arian. Al-Arian who was convicted of raising funds for the terrorist group, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. In February 2011 Bedier flew back to his native Egypt to broadcast from Tahrir Square in Cairo. He broadcast Sheik Yusuf al Qaradawi, the 85 year old Muslim Brotherhood chaplain and television personality, espousing the re-conquest of Jerusalem and tearing up of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.
The ADL touts itself as “the 911 of the Jewish community,” claiming to protect the interests of Jewish-Americans. As can be gathered from its frequent fund raising solicitations, the ADL relies on the support of Jewish-Americans who wish to help fight against antisemitism and support the U.S.-Israel relationship. Yet there is a dark side to this organization that its leadership is careful to cover up. The truth is that the ADL quietly carries out a political agenda that assists the efforts of Islamic radicals and works against the safety of Jews, Israel and America itself.
The long term national executive director of the ADL, Abe Foxman, has accused the author of ALAC, David Yerushalmi, Esq. of being an “extremist” and “racist bigot.”
Under Foxman’s direction the ADL created the Interfaith Coalition on Mosques (ICOM) in 2010 in the wake of the Ground Zero Mosque protests in Manhattan. The ICOM filed an amicus brief in the controversial hearings held by the Rutherford County Chancery Court into the expansion of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, Tennessee (ICM). The ADL trumpeted protection for such mega-mosque projects under the Religious Land Use and Institutional Persons Act of 2000. Note the bizarre comment of the ADL Civil Rights representative as regards the revelations by Steven Emerson of The Investigative Project on Terrorism and others. Emerson found active support for Hamas, a State Department designated foreign terrorist group, on a member of the ICM board’s MySpace Page.
Deborah Lauter, director of civil rights for the ADL, which sponsored the ICOM, is one of those who maintain that the “political preferences” of an ICM board member, Mosaad Rawash who supported the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas were “irrelevant.”
Lauter allegedly told the Los Angeles Times that “if all the members of the ICM were public cheerleaders for Hamas, it would still be illegal to discriminate against them because the First Amendment protects freedom of worship.”
There is irony in the alliance between the Muslim Brotherhood and the ADL in undermining the constructive Florida ALAC legislation. The Jewish defense group is betraying the State of Israel by allying itself with CAIR, a Muslim Brotherhood front that was founded as an affiliate of Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine.
There have been indications that donors to the ADL may have viewed their civil rights activities as a dangerous diversion from the original 1915 charter to fight antisemitism in America. In April 2009, the Florida office of the ADL issued a news release criticizing the Hon. Geert Wilders, leader of the PVV (Freedom Party) in the Netherlands when he spoke in southern Florida. He criticized Islamic doctrine, a right preserved in the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Further, investigations by Ilya Feoktistov and Dr. Charles Jacobs of Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) have uncovered ADL involvement with Islamic extremists in Detroit.
Then there is the matter of Florida CAIR director Hassan Shibly whose track record in Buffalo, uncovered by Feoktistov, Rachel Lipsky and Ryan Mauro who built an effective dossier, should have alerted the ADL to its dangerous alliance with CAIR.
Jacobs of APT in the “Buffaloed in Buffalo” expose about the myopic synagogue mosque twining program noted the terrorist connections of Shibly and his mother:
Hassan [Shibly] and his mother, Sawsan Tabbaa, were detained at the US-Canadian border after returning from an Islamic conference in Toronto, about which the Department of Homeland Security said: “… we had credible intelligence that conferences similar to the one from which these individuals were leaving were being used by terrorist organizations to fund-raise and to hide the travel of terrorists themselves.”
Feoktistov noted this:
The ADL is effectively partnering with [Shibly] who hates Israel, thinks that Jews and Christians are steeped in heresy.
He pointed out a Shibly Facebook post in February 2009 that should have jarred Foxman, a Holocaust survivor:
February 17, 2009: “The Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors from World War II are doing to the Palestinians exactly what was done to them by Nazis.”
The NCJA suggests that Foxman of the ADL resign
In reaction to these revelations and in the wake of the demise of the ALAC legislation in the Florida Senate, the National Council on Jewish Affairs (NCJA) issued a call for the resignation of veteran ADL leader Abe Foxman.
In a news release, the NCJA said:
National Jewish leaders, horrified that Abraham Foxman and the ADL board consider American laws insufficient to protect Jews, suggest [Foxman and the board] resign after ADL’s efforts defeat[ed] Florida legislation that would restrict consideration of foreign laws in the American legal system.
The NCJA news release went on to note:
ADL lobbying supports the agenda of CAIR, an unindicted co-conspirator in the [2008 Federal Dallas] Holy Land terror funding trial.
All of these revelations about the complicit role of the ADL in the recent Florida ALAC legislation episode underline the NCJA request that it is time for Foxman and his coterie at the ADL to leave. What may be required is the equivalent of a “Jewish spring” to sweep out autocrats like Foxman and return the venerable ADL to its original role of exposing antisemitism and Israel’s enemies, not supporting them.
Enter Conservative Republican ALAC Critic Professor Marshall Breger
While Foxman of the ADL prides himself on being a lifelong Democrat, human and civil rights liberal, there is an allegedly conservative Republican critic of the ALAC legislation and its defenders as well. Marshal J. Breger is a Professor at the Catholic University, Columbus School of Law in Washington, DC. He is an observant orthodox Jew. Breger was the Jewish outreach liaison in the Reagan White House and a valued member of the Bush I Administration as Solicitor and Assistant Secretary for Labor Standards at the US Department of Labor. He is Vice Chairman of the Jewish Policy Center (JPC) affiliated with the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC).
Breger’s views on Shariah were on display in a Moment Magazine, article, “Why Jews Can’t Criticize Shariah.” Breger’s arguments are reflective of his views expressed at a Washington Faith and Freedom conference last June. In the Moment essay Breger criticizes both Yerushalmi and Rabbi Jonathan Hausman suggesting that Halacha and Shariah are compatible and not in conflict with the US Constitution. In contrast, we had earlier published Rabbi Hausman’s essay, “Halacha, Shariah and the Religious Acceptance of Constitutional Governance.” He articulates a basic Talmudic principle: “That principle is known as Dina d’malchuta Dina; the law of the country is binding and, in certain cases, is to be preferred to Jewish law/Halacha.” Hausman, in addition to his academic, legal and orthodox rabbinic training attended the American University in Cairo. He speaks and reads Arabic in addition to Hebrew and other languages. Further, he is conversant with the Qur’an, Hadith and Sunnah.
My point is not to analyze the nuances of halacha, let alone Shariah, but rather to underscore the inconsistency of attacking Islam for activities that Jewish law and practice would also permit, or even require.
[. . .]
It is time that Jews in America go beyond “gotcha” polemics and stop treating Shariah and Islam as illegitimate expressions of man’s search for the divine.
ALAC does not trespass against religious freedom. As it plainly states: Far from denying religious freedom, American Laws for American Courts expressly champions and protects that liberty guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and by state constitutions adopted pursuant to it.
ALAC does not interfere with canon law or Jewish law. Indeed, prominent interfaith leaders – including experts in the legal codes of their respective faiths – have endorsed ALAC, (See the Interfaith letter of support for American Laws for American Courts.
The Interfaith letter of support for ALAC signed by eight Jewish and Anglican leaders in America, including Rabbi Hausman, contains these comments from two signatories:
Rabbi Aryeh Spiro, President of the Caucus for America
The Constitution has been the greatest guarantor of our religious rights here in America since our founding. Any assertion that assigns “racism or bigotry” to those who wish the Constitution to be the sole arbiter of our laws is egregious and fundamentally skewed. We are here to reinforce the Constitution above any other system of law. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Father Keith Roderick, Secretary General of the Coalition for Defense of Human Rights agreed:
When it is possible to strengthen the protections of our Constitution and First Amendment protections, it seems expeditious to do so. The temptation to defer to foreign laws to resolve matters that have both civil and religious implications within the culture of the litigants risks the erosion of basic civil rights and religious rights.
Breger’s Muslim Brotherhood Associations
Marshall Breger appeared at February 2012 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) panel on Promoting Religious Freedom in the US and Abroad moderated by Suhail Kahn, a member of the board of the sponsoring American Conservative Union. Watch the You Tube video especially the comments of Breger at this controversial session sparked by a question on Shariah:
Breger should have been careful to check out Khan, a protégé of Republican K street lobbyist, Grover Norquist whom the latter nominated to the board of the American Conservative Union, sponsor of CPAC. Kahn was caught by the intrepid TUW video team at the 2011 CPAC denying the existence of the Muslim Brotherhood in the US, see here.
In 2010, Breger organized a trip for American Muslim Imams to visit Auschwitz that involved Imam Mohamed Magid, President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). Imam Mohammed Magid, who is the son of the Grand Mufti of the Sudan, also leads the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS). Breger has participated in Interfaith Dialogues sponsored by ISNA, see Open Dialogue is Key to Peace in the “Holy Land” and in the U.S.”
ISNA is one of several Muslim Brotherhood fronts cited as an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2008 Dallas Federal Holy Land Foundation trial accused funneling upwards of $35 million to a designated foreign terrorist organization, Hamas.
Magid has had his own brush with terrorist funding.
An article in the Militant Islam Monitor noted:
The FBI and JTTF raided the ADAMS in connection with terrorism funding in 2002 during Operation Greenquest, and Magid himself is tied to a worldwide Islamist network linked to Al Qaeda.
Then there is the question of Breger’s association with a J Street related group, the Israel Policy Forum (IPF), see here. Isi Leibler, an Israeli/ Australian international human rights advocate and frequent commentator for the Jerusalem Post has called the IPF “Jews against Zion.” Breger is a member of the US Advisory Council of the IPF. We are not sure that the views of the IPF and its US Advisory Council are in accord with those of the RJC and the JPC. The IPF has been accused of being part of the constellation of “progressive” Jewish groups on the left including J Street, Americans for Peace Now and the New Israel Fund, among others. M.J. Rosenberg, a long time Capitol Hill aide and former IPF Washington-based Director of Policy Analysis left to join the Soros-funded Media Matters Action Network as a senior policy fellow. The Daily Caller has accused Media Matters of being linked to anti-Israel al Jazeerah.
IPF US Advisory board member, former Ambassador to Egypt, Israel, the UAE and Deputy Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Edward S. Walker, Jr. is a former President of the Middle East Institute. He was among former US diplomats, religious leaders and NGO representatives who signed a letter to President Obama condemning Israeli settlements in the disputed territories.
When I exchanged this information with a JPC board of fellows’ member he suggested that Breger may not reflect the views of fellow members of the JPC. Everyone is entitled to their own views. Nonetheless, Breger’s views may not be representative of the RJC and the JPC. At the very least Breger’s views should be discussed with other members of the JPC board to see if they are in accord with the group’s established position.
Though his active criticism of ALAC and its defenders, Breger has in effect abandoned long held RJC positions and bedrock precepts of Jewish traditions supporting the laws of the land.
Like ADL’s Foxman, Breger’s stand against ALAC gives aid and comfort to enemies of the Jewish people and imperils the human and civil rights of all Americans. Given Shariah’s double standards in treatment of women, gays, unbelievers and even fellow Muslims, and the express objective of the Muslim Brotherhood to supplant the US Constitution with Shariah, Foxman and Breger are in the ironic position of supporting sedition under Article VI. Not unlike the NCJA suggestion that Foxman and his coterie resign their positions at the ADL, perhaps the JPC and RJC might suggest that if Breger’s views conflict with the conservative political Jewish group, then he should in good faith resign as well.