Americans support tolerance and reject hate
by Sheila Musaji
Rabbis for Human Rights - North America is beginning an advertising campaign called CHOOSE LOVE.
They introduce their Choose Love petition (You can sign the petition here.) with these words: Our subway platforms and buses should not be the platform for messages of hate that divide friends, neighbors, and colleagues. New York City’s diversity should be celebrate, while those who spread hatred should be condemn. Rabbis for Human Rights-North America invites New Yorkers of all backgrounds to join together to condemn the messages of hatred against Muslims that were placed on our subways and to call on our elected officials to strongly condemn these attempts at bigotry and intolerance.
The petition states:
We join together to call on New York City officials, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to publicly condemn Pamela Geller’s inflammatory advertisements on the New York City subways. These disturbing and misguided ads are not meant to educate; they are meant to increase hatred and discrimination against New York City’s Muslims, and to drive a wedge between Muslims and Jews. The subway ads demonize Islam and ignore the positive contributions that our Muslim friends, neighbors, and colleagues make to our country every day.
We believe strongly in the right to free speech, but feel compelled as New Yorkers and citizens of the United States, founded on principles of religious freedom, to speak out against words of hatred.
We reaffirm our commitment to religious pluralism and ask that all New Yorkers, regardless of beliefs, join us in a show of tolerance.
They also have an ad that will begin running next week in the same subway stations as the AFDI/SIOA ads. The Rabbis for Human Rights ad will read
In the choice between love and hate CHOOSE LOVE. Help stop bigotry against our Muslim neighbors.
The NY Times reports that: “We wanted to make it clear that it is in response to the anti-Islam ad,” said Rabbi Jill Jacobs, executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights, whose members include rabbis from all streams of Judaism.”
United Methodist Women has an ad campaign
that has already begun. The ad they are posting reads:
“Hate speech is not civilized. Support peace in word and deed.”
Think Progress reports
The counter-ads will run for as long as Pamela Geller’s ads do. AFDI also ran its campaign in San Fransisco and may be coming to Washington, D.C. in the near future. United Methodist Women is already preparing to run counter-ads in the nation’s capital, possibly in partnership with local social justice campaign, Sojourners.
United Methodist Women is also running a social media campaign through Facebook and http://www.twitter.com/umwomen”>Twitter, inviting those interested to spread awareness of their message by attaching a “Twibbon” to their avatar and use the hashtag #mysubwayad.
Sojourners, a Christian interfaith group
, is also posting ads that will read:
“Love Your Muslim Neighbor”.
Jim Wallis, the director of Sojourners introduced this campaign with an article ‘Love Your Neighbor’ Wasn’t Just a Suggestion
Our article American Jews Are Speaking Out Against Anti-Muslim Ads notes many statements opposing bigotry and engaging in Tikkun Olam (healing the world). Some of those who have spoken out against these ads are: Russell Simmons, Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, The ADL, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), and Jews Say No! (JSN!), Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster, director of North American Programs for Rabbis for Human Rights, Joshua Stanton, Assoc. Dir., Center for Global Judaism, Ron Meier, New York Regional Director of the ADL, Bradley Burston, Rabbi Mark Pelavin, senior adviser at the Union for Reform Judaism, Marcia Kannry, Founder, The Dialogue Project, Rabbi Ari Hart.
American Arabs and Muslims are also speaking out and running counter ads.
At this point, the only positive articles about the AFDI/SIOA ad campaign are from Geller, Spencer, and their allies in the Islamophobia industry. Geller & Spencer insist that the ads are not hateful, and that any criticism is unfounded, and a deliberate attempt to misrepresent their message. However, it seems that Geller’s message is “misunderstood” as hateful by an awful lot of people.
The Business Insider thought the term “savages” referred to Palestinians generally. Adam Chandler in the Jewish Tablet thought the ad could be read as anti-Israel. The San Francisco Jewish Community Center thought the ad was anti-Muslim. Ron Meier, the ADL NY Regional Director thought the ad was highly offensive and inflammatory, saying “We support the court’s conclusion that the ad is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment, yet we still strongly object to both the message and the messenger. We believe these ads are highly offensive and inflammatory. Pro-Israel doesn’t mean anti-Muslim. It is possible to support Israel without engaging in bigoted anti-Muslim and anti-Arab stereotypes.” Tfhe Huffington Post thought the ad was anti-Islam. Alex Kane thought the ad was offensive and anti-Muslim. The San Francisco MTA who ran the ads thought the ad belittles, demeans, and disparages others. Sydney Levy, Director of Advocacy for Jewish Voice for Peace thought the ad was very offensive. Tim Redmond of the of the San Francisco Bay Guardian thought the ad was inexcusably offensive. The Jewish Weekly thought the ads were bigoted. Johnathan Vigliotti thought the ads were anti-Islamic. The Times of Israel thought the ads were anti-Islamic. Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feine thought the ads were offensive and inflammatory and encourage hatred. Bradley Burston ]thought the ads represented “At root, the Geller and pro-Kahane brand of “support of Israel,” is little more than a slash and burn Arab–hate that, if left unanswered, will tear apart the Israel and the Jewish community from within. It blinds people to solutions. It convinces people that there are no solutions. It persuades people that there are no options apart from violence, both of word and deed.” The SFMTA agreed to publish the ads as they are protected speech but posted a notice condemning the description of any group as “savages” and they will donate the money they receive from AFDI/SIOA to a public education campaign by the San Francisco Human Rights Commission ... update: the negative reviews continue to pour in Robert Mackey in the NY Times called the ads anti-Islam, as did CBS News as did NBC Connecticut, as did Hispanic Business, as did The Stamford Advocate. The Greenwich Post calls on its’ readers to reject the hate displayed in these ads. - Salon anti-Islam ad - Business Insider anti-Muslim - Electronic Intifada Islamophobic hate speech - Fox News inflammatory and anti-Muslim - New Republic anti-Muslim - PolicyMic ignorant - Think Progress Islamophobic - Newsday legal but lacking common sense - Big News anti-Islam - Digital Journal anti-Muslim - Haaretz anti-Muslim - New York magazine anti-Muslim - The Gothamist hateful - CNN hate speech - Huffington Post Islamophobic, not pro-Israel - Global Grind Islamophobic, anti-Muslim - The Daily Beast exploiting the first amendment with hateful public message - Haaretz anti-Arab hate
It is clear that most Americans are decent human beings who wish to live together peacefully in a civil society.
The Huffington Post interviewed Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Executive Director for the Rabbis for Human Rights North America about the ads they posted. Here is what she said:
HP: Personally, how were you affected by the anti-Jihad subway ads? What was your initial response when you heard about this?
Rabbi Jacobs: I was very concerned that people might think that these ads speak for the Jewish community, as Geller couches her anti-Muslim message in the language of supporting Israel. The suggestion that she is speaking only about terrorists, and not about Muslims in general, falls apart as soon as you read her writings, which are fear mongering about Muslims in the U.S. and in the world, and about Islam as a religion.
HP: What do you hope to achieve with your pro-Muslim ads?
Rabbi Jacobs: I want to spread the message that 1800 rabbis—along with the majority of the American Jewish community—believes in partnership with our Muslim neighbors. We, of course, oppose all acts of terrorism. We will not, however, allow the actions of a small minority to be an excuse for dehumanizing an entire people.
HP: Do you expect any negative response?
Rabbi Jacobs: The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. We have received so many thank you messages from members of the Muslim and the Jewish community—both in the U.S. and overseas. Of course, there are people who agree with Geller’s sentiments—you can find their comments online.
... HP: Anything else you’d like to add?
Rabbi Jacobs: I am struck by the juxtaposition of these ad campaigns with the Jewish holiday season. Geller’s ads went up just before Yom Kippur—a cruel irony, as this is the holiday of reconciliation. Our ads will be going up just before Simchat Torah, when the Jewish community finishes the annual cycle of reading the Torah, and immediately starts again from the beginning. The very first chapter of Genesis, which we will read in synagogue this week, says that all human beings are created in the image of God. This verse is the basis of the Jewish commitment (and of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America’s commitment) to work for the dignity of every single human being.
The NY Post reports that “The New York City Commission on Human Rights is counteringcontroversial billboards that call enemies of Israel “savage” with a new ad campaign promoting the city’s diversity. The ad reads, “From many countries, one city” and features a bright red apple covered with a map of the world. ... The International Action Center also has ads going up next week that read, “No to Racism & Anti-Muslim Bigotry.”” The “apple” ad is at the top of the page.
Also today, 23 other interfaith partners added the names of their organizations to the ad prepared by the Methodist Women’s group. A new ad signed by these organizations will go up in New York on Monday. This ad will be signed by Co-Sponsoring Organizations: • United Methodist Women • The Shoulder-to-Shoulder Campaign • American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee • American Baptist Churches USA • American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA) • Arab American Institute • Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) • Church of the Brethren • Church World Service • Cordoba Initiative • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America • Friends Committee on National Legislation • Interfaith Alliance • The Interfaith Center of New York • Islamic Society of North America • Muslim Public Affairs Council • National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA • National Religious Campaign Against Torture • The New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good • Peace is Loud • Presbyterian Church (USA) Office of Public Witness, Washington, DC • Reconstructionist Rabbinical College • United Church of Christ • United Methodist General Board of Church and Society.
Representatives of these organizations will participate in a press conference on Monday to discuss this new ad.
Here are some more useful ad possibilities:
In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support peacemakers - defeat hatemongers.
In any war between the intelligent man and the idiot support the intelligent man. Support thinking - defeat stupidity. (IbnPercy)
In any war between the civilized man and the savage, don’t let the media dictate who the savage is. Educate yourself. (MeriamSabih)
In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support humanity, defeat racism.
In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support jihad, defeat hirabah.
In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israelis & Palestinians, defeat the extremists.
In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support humanity, defeat warmongers.
In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support tolerance, defeat hatred.
On TAM, we have published a number of articles on the current controversy over a series of ads being published in public spaces across the country by the hate groups AFDI/SIOA. These articles include many sources and references regarding discussion of different aspects of this controversy:
- Pamela Geller: A Tale of Two Bus Ads
- A Tale of Three Bigoted Ads
- AFDI/SIOA Bus Ads Inspired by Ayn Rand’s Racist Views of Arabs and Muslims?
- Pamela Geller & Robert Spencer announce new “Islamorealism” anti-Islam ad
- 17,000+ “Islamic terrorist” attacks exist only in fevered Islamophobic brains
- The origins of the term “Islamophobia”
- Bus Ads: Of Savages and Idiots
- 17,000+ “Islamic terrorist” attacks exist only in fevered Islamophobic brains
- Freedom of speech does not include freedom from condemnation of that speech
- Pamela Geller Does Not Understand Freedom of Speech
- American Muslims and Arabs respond to the ads.
- All extremists are “savages” and “civilized men” need to counter the hate
- How Muslims understand the term “jihad”
- Is vandalism an appropriate free speech response to hate speech? .
- The legal battle over AFDI/SIOA Anti-Muslim Ads
- American Jews Are Speaking Out Against Anti-Muslim Ads
- AFDI/SIOA Roll Out 9 More Anti-Muslim Ads
- Americans support tolerance and reject hate about the ads being placed by Rabbis for Human Rights, Sojourners, and United Methodist Women.
- Could a boycott of public transport carrying AFDI/SIOA ads be effective?
Originally published 10/4/2012