About Talking Tachlis

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Why is Shaarey Zedek and ZOA Undermining Our Jewish Community?

Metro Jewish Detroit’s Dirty Little Secrets are hurting all of us.

There is a conspiracy of silence, an “omerta” if you will, by our communal “bosses” and organs of power to hide the truth, to deflect our focus away from serious and growing threats to much more pedestrian or newly-hyped issues of the day. To read the Detroit Jewish News of late, one would think that bed bugs and cluttered closets are our biggest worries. If only that were true. Granted, it is much harder to confront difficult and inconvenient truths, but we fail to do so at our own peril.

The sad reality is that not only have our leaders failed to address the accelerating dangers; not only have they reneged on their responsibilities to be the front guard protecting our welfare and security; in too many cases, they are the problem – in bed with the wrong bed partners.

To wit, the Jewish News just weeks ago featured a front-page cover story hailing the 150th anniversary of Congregation Shaarey Zedek. In the glowing review of the synagogue’s and clergy’s vaunted history was, by way of pointing out its ecumenicalism, a brief mention of the synagogue’s commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. No mention of the participating imam or his troubling ties to a “radical anti-Semitic” Pakistan-based Islamist organization whose founder likened Jews to parasites and presaged the “extermination” of the Jews. No mention of ADL’s warnings not to grant the legitimacy the organization craves to mainstream itself in advancing its ‘extremist ideology’. No mention that authorities stated the organization influenced the radicalization of a young American teen to become Al Qaeda’s top English language propagandist and the alleged mastermind of the cargo bomb plot targeting Chicago synagogues who was killed alongside Anwar Al-Awlaki in the recent US drone strike in Yemen. No follow-up analysis or enterprise reporting from the Jewish News. Only one small letter to the editor from a concerned communal activist that had to fight its way into the paper and only after it was gored of much substance.

And in what is perhaps the most painful and dangerous sellout of all, the Zionist Organization of America has thrown our community under the bus. Tonight at its annual Balfour Concert, the ZOA Michigan Chapter, with the backing of the national ZOA, is honoring CSZ Rabbi Joseph Krakoff, despite the fact that the ZOA knows full well about the imam’s associations because the ZOA itself made the rabbi and synagogue aware of them in vain hopes CSZ would preclude the imam’s participation or refuse itself to participate.

Instead of calling out an enabler of dangerous anti-Semitism and radical Islamism; instead of criticizing the appaling derelictions of due diligence that allowed this to transpire, the ZOA is honoring and rewarding the betrayal of our community. Why would the most stalwart of Jewish organizations make a a sham and mockery of their mission?

There is no organization stronger or more principled than the ZOA in defending Israel…in calling out university presidents, diplomats, generals, US Secretaries of State and Presidents and even Israeli Prime Ministers when they undermine Israel’s legitimacy and strength. But isn’t the strength and security of our local community worth speaking out for as well? What good are all the ZOA speakers and programs warning us of the looming threats when they help to enable and empower them in the first place? Just this past week, the ZOA Midwest campus coordinator wrote a crying appeal for communal support after a high-ranking Bedouin Israeli speaking here at the University of Michigan was treated malignly by a group of MSA students. Instead of gala concerts enabling the enablers, why didn’t ZOA, Rabbi Krakoff and his imam colleague go to the university to support the speaker, to insist he be treated civilly and to demand the university ensure the rights of Jewish students are honored and protected?

Bottom line: The rabbi didn’t want to hurt the imam. ZOA didn’t want to hurt the rabbi. Does anyone care that they are hurting our children??

CSZ and ZOA are hardly the only local institutions to have compromised our communal integrity and welfare. They are just the most recent. TT hopes desperately that all our communal organizations will take to heart their avowed obligations to speak and act on behalf of our interests. If ever there was a time for scrupulous vetting, for reassessment of priorities, for reorientation, it is NOW!

Read the report below.

ADL: “Despite its effort to ‘mainstream’ itself, IONA maintains its official ties to Pakistan and remains committed to its goals and extremist ideology.”

Joe Kaufman, Americans Against Hate: "If one wishes to keep away from extremists and caution others to do the same, one would certainly not join up with CAIR or IONA. One would shun them."

The Zionist Organization of America Michigan chapter, with the knowledge of the national organization and despite appeals from supporters and concerned community members, will confer its highest honor upon a rabbi who, along with the decision-makers of his synagogue, recently legitimized the leader of an organization described by the ADL as a “radical anti-Semitic” Pakistan-based organization seeking a global Islamic caliphate and who is also vice chair of a Michigan coalition (CIOMonline.com) which partners with CAIR, ISNA et al.

Tonight, Rabbi Joseph J. Krakoff will be awarded the Justice Louis D. Brandeis Award at the 78th annual Balfour celebration of the ZOA Michigan chapter. Just last month, at an interfaith commemoration of the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks (www.liftupsouthfield.org) , Rabbi Krakoff yielded his bimah to Imam Mustapha Elturk, the head of IONA, the reconstituted US arm of Tanzeem-e-Islami, an organization described as a "Nazi-style Islamist movement" in a Pajamas Media article by Joe Kaufman of Americans Against Hate. (http://pjmedia.com/blog/cair-leader-tied-to-nazi-style-islamist-mosque/).

Elturk recently penned a whitewashing tribute to Islamic sharia law. He was also quoted last year in the Arab American News mourning the death of Hezbollah spiritual leader and US designated global terrorist Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah.

The organization's history of anti-Semitsim has been documented by ADL and many sources. According to a report in Canada’s National Post on Tanzeem-e-Islami founder Israr Ahmad and included in an Investigative Project onTerrorism (IPT) report:

“He compares Jews to parasites, calls the Holocaust "Divine punishment" and foresees the "total extermination" of Jews at the hands of Muslims.”

According to Kaufman, and as documented by many other sources chronicling the organization:

“The movement was founded by Israr Ahmad, a religious fanatic who, according to IONA’s website, had broken away from the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) in 1957 because of the group’s “involvement in the electoral politics.”

A couple of Ahmad’s favorite targets are Jews and Christians, whom he chillingly describes as “enemies of Islam...”

Ahmad brought his movement to America in 1993, under the name Tanzeem-e-Islami North America (TINA). In 2003, the organization changed its name to the Islamic Organization of North America (IONA), after Ahmad had appointed Mustapha “Steve” Elturk to be the group’s new leader.

Subsequent to the name change, IONA has made the claim that it is somehow independent from TI. Yet, the web address tanzeem.us is a mirror address of IONA’s official website, ionaonline.org.

As well, the group never relinquished the harsh anti-Western and Nazi-like rhetoric of its Pakistani parent.”
The national ADL profile concurs: “Despite its effort to ‘mainstream’ itself, IONA maintains its official ties to Pakistan and remains committed to its goals and extremist ideology.”

Tanzeem-e-Islami/IONA, according to the ADL, Southern Poverty Law Center and other sources, purportedly influenced Samir Kahn, the online editor of al Qaeda's English language Inspire Magazine, who was taken out alongside American cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki, in the Sept. 30 US drone strike in Yemen. According to a Fox News report citing federal authorities, Kahn “admitted he was behind the October 2010 cargo printer bomb plot” which targeted synagogues in Chicago.

The Michigan ZOA Balfour fundraiser will also honor a local Jewish member of the US military. That is certainly noble, except for the fact that the honoree rabbi’s embrace of Imam Elturk degrades the tribute to the Jewish first lieutenant. As noted by the national ADL, Tanzeem’s founder expressed support for the Taliban as it is “based on upholding the supremacy of Islamic shariah.” Last Sunday, 13 Americans were killed in a Taliban bomb attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. The death toll of US soldiers in Afghanistan now tops 1,700.

What is so vexing is that the Detroit ZOA, which made the rabbi and Congregation Shaarey Zedek aware of its objections to the imam's inclusion in the 9/11 commemoration and provided documentation of the the imam’s extremist ties, would honor the rabbi despite his failure to rescind the invitation to the imam, to back out of the event or to issue a public statement disavowing the imam and IONA. Even more curious is the ZOA’s refusal to take up the rabbi on his reported offer to bow out of the ZOA honor in the wake of this controversy.

It is reported that the rabbi turned to the local ADL and AJC to vet the imam, who greenlighted him despite the national ADL's extensive documentation and warnings to the contrary.