Americans for Peace and Tolerance

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Americans for Peace
and Tolerance
Abbreviation APT
Type 501(c)(3) non-profit organization
Headquarters Boston, Massachusetts
Region served
United States
President
Charles Jacobs
Main organ
Board of Directors (Jacobs, Dennis Hale, and Ahmed Subhy Mansour)
Website peaceandtolerance.org

Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) is a Boston, Massachusetts, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which describes itself as being devoted to "promoting peaceful coexistence in an ethnically diverse America by educating the American public about the need for a moderate political leadership that supports tolerance and core American values in communities across the nation."[1] APT describes itself as having been at the forefront of criticizing Islamist extremism in the Boston area and nationally; however, it has been labeled a hate group by American Muslim and Jewish organizations, which allege that it has consistently targeted the Boston Muslim community through smear campaigns and guilt-by-association tactics.[2] US Attorney for Massachusetts Carmen Ortiz has labeled the group and its claims "incredibly racist and unfair."[3]

History and Membership[edit]

APT was founded by Charles Jacobs, Boston College political science professor Dennis Hale, and Egyptian exile and Muslim dissident Ahmed Subhy Mansour. Jacobs was previously the co-founder of the American Anti-Slavery Group in 1993, and the David Project in 2004. Mansour is a Muslim dissident who describes himself as neither Sunni nor Shia. He was fired from Al Azhar University in Cairo for his views and now lives in exile in the United States. All serve on the group's Board of Directors, and all have faced criticism for Islamophobic statements and activities (see below).[1][4][5]

Opposition to Islamic Society of Boston[edit]

APT has been a major critic of the Islamic Society of Boston, and of the construction in 2009, in the city's Roxbury neighborhood, of the $15.6 million Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, which includes a mosque. APT asserts that the group is directed and controlled by extremist leaders and contributors.[6][7] The Islamic Society of Boston rejected the charges.

In 2007 Islamic Society of Boston had dropped a defamation lawsuit filed against the David Project and other groups, over revelations that the city of Boston had sold land to the mosque at far below market value. The mosque’s fundraiser, who oversaw the land sale, was Mohammad Ali-Salaam, Deputy Directory of the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

In a 2009 op-ed, the APT's Hale and Jacobs wrote that the new Islamic Center was "paid for largely by the Saudis, and run by what federal authorities describe as the overt arm of the Muslim Brotherhood." They added that "it is way past time for sensible citizens to demand answers to questions about the leaders of the new Islamic Center in Roxbury."[5] Mosque leader Yusuf Vali replied that the vast majority of construction donors were U.S. based, and added that "no donations were accepted if the donor wanted to have any decision-making influence (even if benign)."[8]

Boston mayor Thomas Menino defended the Islamic Center, as did William A. Graham, dean of Harvard Divinity School, who said fear of the Islamic Center of Boston was "highly exaggerated."[7] The mosque opened despite APT's protests.[9]

Following the April, 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon, Jacobs renewed his argument that the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center and its affiliated mosques in Cambridge and Roxbury are tied to extremists. Boston Marathon bombing suspects Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev both worshipped at the Cambridge mosque. In a USA Today article, Jacobs stated, "...[T]his mosque has a curriculum that radicalizes people. Other people have been radicalized there."[8]

The Cambridge mosque’s first president, Abdulrahman Alamoudi, was convicted in a 2004 Libyan backed plot to kill a Saudi prince. Other mosque attendees involved in terror-related offenses include Tarek Mehanna, convicted for a plot to shoot up a shopping mall. Mehanna’s co-conspirator Ahmad Abousamra, son of Abdul-Badi Abousamra, former vice president of the Muslim American Society Boston, fled to Syria. He is currently on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List.[10] Leaders of the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center have rejected the allegations of radical activities.

Controversy and Anti-Muslim Criticism[edit]

APT has been heavily criticized for anti-Muslim biases and activities since its inception. In 2011, a group of seventy Rabbinical community leaders together published a letter in The Jewish Advocate calling upon the group's President, Charles Jacobs, “to discontinue his destructive campaign against Boston’s Muslim community, which is based on innuendo, half-truths and unproven conspiracy theories.” The Jewish religious leaders also called “upon members of our community to reject the dangerous politics of division that Mr. Jacobs fosters.”[11] In a 2015 article in the New York Times, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz labeled APT's claims about the Muslim community "incredibly racist and unfair."[12] The group's tax returns reveal that it is funded by some of the most notorious anti-Muslim hate groups in the United States, such as the Middle East Forum, which has been labeled "part of the inner core of the U.S. Islamophobia network."[13][14]

Individual members of the organization have similarly been criticized for professing bigoted perspectives toward Muslims. Charles Jacobs was a main figure in the CBS article "The Great Islamophobic Crusade,"[15] while Ahmed Subhy Mansour is infamous within the Muslim community for having supported former Congressman Tom Tancredo's proposal for bombing Mecca.[16] The US State Department has called Tancredo's statement "insulting and offensive."[17] Outside of his academic career, Dennis Hale has published numerous articles in blogs and online opinion sites arguing that Muslims only feign indignation to insults against the Prophet Muhammed and their religion in order “to induce, in infidels, a habit of deference to Islam, the more public the deference the better”[18] and claiming that “Palestinian Arabs only pretend that they want to be a people with their own nation. What Palestinian Arabs really want is depressingly clear: they want to destroy Israel and kill the Jews.”[19]

Accusations of bias in Newton Public Schools curriculum[edit]

In October 2013, APT took out newspaper ads in the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Newton TAB, Boston Metro, and Jewish Advocate, noting the presence of anti-Israeli materials being incorporated into the Newton Public Schools curriculum.[20] The school system’s use of the ‘Arab World Studies Notebook’ was sharply criticized, including claims that Muslims had discovered America in 889. The source had been criticized earlier by the American Jewish Committee for its proselytizing approach to Islam,[21] and by Native American groups for other claims, including that Muslims become chiefs of Algonquin tribes in the 17th century.[22]

Related claims of regulatory noncompliance brought by Newton residents had been investigated and dismissed by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education one month earlier.[23] The ads criticized school superintendent David Fleischman and school committee chair Matt Hills and called on the city to remove "hateful education materials from their curricula," which APT alleged "demonize Israel and America while glorifying Islam."[24]

Hills responded to the accusations in November 2013, calling them a "pure distortion of the facts."[23] Fleischman responded, "Parents have access to their kids’ curriculum materials, and they trust our teachers. Our work speaks for itself."[23] The Anti-Defamation League and clergy at Newton synagogues Temple Emanuel and Temple Shalom also denounced the ads.[23] A 2014 analysis by the independent research group Verity Educate, however, noted numerous instances of inaccuracies and overt bias in the Newton materials.[25]

Hate Spaces: The Politics of Intolerance on Campus[edit]

In 2016, the APT released a documentary on the BDS movement called Hate Spaces: The Politics of Intolerance on Campus. The film tracks the history of Students for Justice in Palestine and its ties to Middle Eastern donors.[26][27] It includes scenes of antisemitism under the pretence of anti-Zionism on campuses like Northeastern University.[27] It suggests that university professors take funding from anti-Zionist donors out of cynicism rather than ideology, which influences their perspective on Israel in class.[27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Mission and About Us". Americans for Peace and Tolerance. Retrieved 29 August 2015. 
  2. ^ "Islamophobia.org". 
  3. ^ "New York Times". 
  4. ^ Paulson, Michael (June 28, 2009). "At mosque opening, tensions permeate interfaith gathering". The Boston Globe. Retrieved February 2, 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Hale, Dennis; Jacobs, Charles (July 5, 2009). "Leaders are extremist". The Boston Globe. Retrieved February 2, 2010. 
  6. ^ Solomont, E. B. (August 11, 2009). "Boston area Jews split on Tamir. Russian emigrants demand Israeli envoy's recall, while mainstream groups support him". Jerusalem Post. 
  7. ^ a b Paulson, Michael (June 25, 2009). "A call to prayer, a long quest fulfilled; Celebration follows years of controversy". The Boston Globe. Retrieved February 2, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b Dorell, Oren (April 25, 2013). "Mosque that Boston suspects attended has radical ties". USA Today. Retrieved 29 August 2015. 
  9. ^ "Controversial mosque opens despite protest", The Jewish Advocate, July 3, 2009, accessed February 2, 2010
  10. ^ "Most Wanted Terrorists". FBI. Retrieved 29 August 2015. 
  11. ^ "Rabbincal Leaders Letter". 
  12. ^ "New York Times Article on Boston Muslims". 
  13. ^ "Islamophobic Organizations - Middle East Forum". 
  14. ^ "Middle East Forum Funding". 
  15. ^ "The Great Islamophobic Crusade". 
  16. ^ "Tancredo Interview". 
  17. ^ "Associated Press, July 21, 2005". 
  18. ^ "Political Mavens". 
  19. ^ "Political Mavens". 
  20. ^ Jacobson, Judie (October 30, 2013). "Ads blast Newton Mass., schools over anti-Israel texts". Jewish Ledger. 
  21. ^ "Propaganda, Proselytizing, and Public Education: A Critique of the Arab World Studies Notebook" (PDF). American Jewish Committee. February 2005. Retrieved 29 August 2015. 
  22. ^ "Textbook on Arabs removes blunder". Washington Times. April 16, 2004. 
  23. ^ a b c d Allen, Evan (November 7, 2013). "State affirms school curriculum after protests". Boston Globe. 
  24. ^ "Boston Suburb of Newton Accused of Demonizing Israel in Classroom Materials". Forward. October 24, 2013. Retrieved 29 August 2015. 
  25. ^ "Newton – Middle East Report Request Form". Verity Educate. Retrieved 29 August 2015. 
  26. ^ Cravatts, Richard L. (December 16, 2016). "‘Hate Spaces:’ A New Film Reveals a Toxic Bigotry on American Campuses". The Jewish Journal. Retrieved December 29, 2016. 
  27. ^ a b c Barken, Jeffrey (December 26, 2016). "A New Documentary Shows the Extent and Nature of Anti-Zionist ‘Hate Spaces’ on Campus". Algemeiner. Retrieved December 29, 2016. Hate Spaces meticulously charts the flow of money from dictators in Muslim countries to American universities, suggesting that this transfer of capital buttresses support for Islamic causes among academics. Devoid of intellectual integrity, professors choose a path of least resistance when discussing Israel and the Palestinian territories, and are unfairly sympathetic to the BDS agenda. 

External links[edit]