As progressive Jewish, faith, peace and social justice organizations, we thank the eight Massachusetts State Representatives and the Council on American-Islamic Relations Massachusetts (CAIR) for co-hosting a celebration to mark the end of Ramadan at the Massachusetts State House on June 5.
At the same time, we condemn the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC), whose executive director Jeremy Burton recently admonished State Representatives for celebrating this Muslim holiday with “an inappropriate partner.” We call on the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston (JCRC) to apologize for these insulting and Islamophobic attacks on CAIR.
Burton was joined by Robert Trestan, Anti-Defamation League (ADL) New England regional director, and Charles Jacobs, president of Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) in denouncing CAIR. The MA Republican Jewish committee followed by calling on the Massachusetts State House Democratic Leadership to reprimand its Democrat members (much as Congressional Republicans have called on Democrats to condemn Representatives Ilhan Omar Rashida Tlaib for their positions).
CAIR is the pre-eminent local and national organization fighting discrimination against Muslims, and has been doing so for over 20 years. It has been a lead organization, along with the ACLU, in fighting the Trump administration’s Muslim Ban and opposing unconstitutional attempts to curtail the first amendment right to boycott (with several federal court victories). Its core principles include protecting the civil rights of all Americans, regardless of faith, supporting freedom of religion and condemning all acts of violence.
Attacks by mainstream Jewish organizations on a group that fights religious discrimination are especially dangerous at a time when the national discourse is permeated by Islamophobic rhetoric. It is telling that JCRC’s attack on CAIR is supported by APT, an organization with a history of making false and slanderous claims about Muslim organizations such as the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC). APT’s tax returns reveal funding from far right anti-immigrant Islamophobic organizations like the Middle East Forum. Several years ago, in response to another attack by APT, US Attorney for Massachusetts Carmen Ortiz labeled both APT and its claims “incredibly racist and unfair.” What JCRC, the ADL and APT have in common is their attempt to label anyone who criticizes Israeli policies towards Palestine as antisemitic.
Statements condemning a Muslim religious celebration and smearing CAIR with innuendo are both Islamophobic and false, and should be condemned for the promotion of hate speech. Moreover, the JCRC has, yet again, exposed that its allegiance to Israel trumps its alleged positions of solidarity with progressive causes. If the JCRC hopes to retain any semblance of credibility among progressive organizations, it must both apologize for insulting CAIR, and pledge to oppose Islamophobia in all its forms.
- Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia
- Alliance for Water Justice in Palestine
- American Federation of Indians of Muslim Origin
- American Friends Service Committee
- American Friends Service Committee/Northeast Region
- Anti Zionist Shabbat
- Anti-Racism Collaborative (ARC)
- Arise for Social Justice
- Asian American Resource Workshop
- Asian and Pacific Islander Civic Action Network (APIs CAN)
- Black Lives Matter Boston
- Black Lives Matter Cambridge
- Cambridge Bethlehem People to People Project
- Cambridge United for Justice with Peace
- Campaign for Peace, Disarmament and Common Security
- Defending Rights & Dissent
- Democratic Socialists of America – Boston Chapter
- Dorchester People for Peace
- Jewish Voice for Peace-Boston
- Jewish Women for Justice in Palestine
- Maine Voices for Palestinian Rights
- Matahari Women Workers’ Center
- National Lawyers Guild-Mass Chapter
- Red Sage Stories: Playback Theatre & Art for Social Change
- Showing Up for Racial Justice Boston (SURJB) – Immigration and Muslim Justice Action Partnership
- The Community Church of Boston
- The Network/La Red
- Tufts SJP
- United for Justice with Peace
- UUJME-MA (UU’s for Justice in the Mid-East Massachusetts)
- Western Mass Jewish Voice for Peace