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‘The Jews have stopped the billboard’ – American Atheists’ Leader Complains that ‘God is a myth’ ad near Hasidic Neighbourhood has Been Blocked

Bob Pitt of Islamophobia-Watch rightly questions whether Islamophobes who allied themselves with American Atheists over the Zombie Muhammad issue will now cry that Jews are attacking freedom of speech and expression, as they surely would if Muslims had stopped the billboard:

(via. Islamophobia-Watch)

‘The Jews have stopped the billboard’ – American Atheists’ Leader Complains that ‘God is a myth’ ad near Hasidic Neighbourhood has Been Blocked

by Bob Pitt

This time atheists found themselves answering to a higher power – a picky landlord. A Southside loft owner refused to allow a billboard questioning Judaism to be installed atop his S. Fifth Street building on Tuesday amid outrage in Williamsburg’s Hasidic community.

National atheist leaders tried to take out a month-long ad adjacent to Williamsburg’s Orthodox Jewish stronghold with text in English and Hebrew reading: “You know it’s a myth … and you have a choice.” But at the last minute, landlord Kenny Stier refused to allow workers from the advertising company Clear Channel into his building, according to American Atheists president David Silverman.

Silverman claims powerful neighborhood rabbis convinced Stier to block the non-believing billboard and called the religious leaders and the landlord “anti-atheist bigots”. “The Jews have stopped the billboard,” said Silverman. “It’s really ugly bigotry. As a former Jew, it’s repugnant to see Jews act like this.”

Several Hasidic leaders said they had nothing to do with the landlord’s decision to block the billboard, and Stier declined to comment. “I don’t want to get involved in this,” he said.

Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsburg) said the billboard showed a “severe lack of sensitivity” at a time when Brooklyn should be striving to have open conversations about religion.

“Even if we were to ignore the antagonistic placement of this billboard near the Williamsburg Bridge, the content of the message is conveyed in a disrespectful manner,” said Levin. “This does not appear to be a genuine attempt to engage in a dialogue, but is here merely to insult the beliefs of this community.”

The Brooklyn Paper, 6 March 2012

We look forward to Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, who have been enthusiastically supporting American Atheists over the “Zombie Muhammad” controversy, joining Silverman in condemning this development as an outrageous attack on freedom of expression – as they undoubtedly would if it had occurred in a Muslim neighbourhood. But don’t hold your breath.

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  • NurAlia

    @everyone.

    I am sorry I even put myself in this type of conversation. Ignore this ignorant woman.

  • Believing Atheist

    @Nur,

    A lot of nations are ethnically pure nations yet democracies.

    Here are two excluding Israel:

    1. Japan

    2. South Korea (most immigrants are not eligible for citizenship or even permanent residency, unless they are married to a South Korean citizen or have invested more than $5 million USD in the local economy)

    Both are democracies because both have free and open elections.

    Hence, that is how Israel is both a democracy and Jewish state or in the words of Judge Barak

    What, then are the ‘core’ characteristics shaping the minimum definition of the State of Israel as a Jewish State? These characteristics come from the aspects of both Zionism and heritage. At their center stands the right of every Jew to immigrate to the State of Israel, where the Jews will constitute a majority; Hebrew is the official and principal language of the State and most of its fests and symbols reflect the national revival of the Jewish People; The heritage of the Jewish People is a central component of its religious and cultural legacy”.
    —Aharon Barak 11280/02

    and,

    “A list of candidates or a candidate may not participate in the elections if the cancellation or denial of these characteristics is central and dominant among their ambitions and activities; and they act decisively to realize these ambitions; and provided all can be persuasively, clearly and unequivocally proved by the established evidence. ”
    —Aharon Barak 11280/02

  • Just Stopping By

    @Nur Alia:

    I don’t understand why you keep insisting that your country of Malaysia believes in ethnic purity. As you know, Article 153 of the Malaysian constitution assigns special treatment to Malays and other groups. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_153_of_the_Constitution_of_Malaysia.

    While there are some minor distinctions for citizens in Israel, they are mainly separate systems for religious courts and education, much less than the preferential treatment given certain groups in the Malaysian constitution that you say causes “people like [you to] strongly fear and dislike people”.

    Or, if you are so concerned with words, we can talk about the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, or the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, whose very names suggest some form of ethnic or religious special consideration. Now, I don’t consider any of these states to be “inhumane” as your reasoning would suggest. But, by your logic, I suppose you do.

    But don’t worry, I don’t “strongly fear or dislike” Malaysia despite the fact that it enshrines what you would consider ethnic purity in its constitution. In fact, I found it quite lovely.

  • NurAlia

    @believing athiest…

    You are ignoring the ONLY question I asked. I asked you to tell me how a nation that has the mindset of ‘ethnic purity’ is a democracy.

    To me, giving ‘special treatment’ to one group of people based on thier ethnic group has the goal of making them ‘ethnically pure’.

    So…no, you can hide behind other people’s words, because we cant debate articles. If you want to use them to jusitify an inhumane posistion…then I really understand why people like me strongly fear and dislike people like you.

    I dont really know what to say to you anymore. So I wont say anything else.

  • Ilisha

    “I guess I am not Just Stopping Pi, because transcendental numbers are just too long.”

    :lol:

  • Believing Atheist

    @JSB,

    You’re right.

    Arab schoolchildren in Israel will be taught next year that the founding of the State of Israel was a tragedy (Nakba in Arabic) in accordance with a widespread Arab view of the event.

    The Education Ministry, headed by Prof.Yuli Tamir (Labor), has approved adding the Arab version to the curriculum in response to calls by Arab nationalists who requested the “Nakba” version be taught in their schools.

    The new directive approves a Grade 3 textbook “Living Together in Israel,” which was written by Arabs who left their homes during the 1948 War of Independence and claim that Israel took their land. The textbook evenhandedly points out that the Arab nations refused to accept the United Nations partition plan creating the Jewish State and a new Trans-Jordan country.
    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/123152#.T10k7YF8B9Q

    It has since then been removed
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/07/22/idUSLM2389

    It is ironic that Israel removed the term, when all an Arab has to do is read the New Historians like Benny Morris, or ILan Pappe to know what happened in 1948.

  • Just Stopping By

    @Ilisha says, “Also, just to add to JSP’s point…” I guess I am not Just Stopping Pi, because transcendental numbers are just too long.

    @Believing Atheist says, “Primary and secondary education is universal, with instruction for the Arab minority based on the common curriculum used by the Jewish majority, but conducted in Arabic.” My understanding is that there is actually some difference in the study of history, with the term naqba introduced and then removed from Arabic lessons (or at least removed officially but not necessarily in practice), for example. Garden.

  • Believing Atheist

    @Nur,

    One more thing Nur that I forgot to mention. Israel has had two Arabs in its Supreme Court.

    The first was a Muslim by the name of Abdel Rahman Zuabi.

    The second, current and only Arab on the Supreme Court is Salim Joubran, an Arab Christian, I believe

    Considering that the U.S. has had a longer existence than Israel and has only put two black men in the Supreme Court, Israel (which was established in 1948 I believe, but I could be wrong), has made accelerated progress. Yes there is still work to be done, but that is true of any country.

    Also Freedom House ranks Israel as a free country
    http://www.freedomhouse.org/country/israel

    It has freedom of press
    http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2011/israel

    Now if Israel were a racially pure state as you claim Nur, why does it have Arabic as an official language? It should only have Hebrew if this assertion were true. This means that Israel recognizes its Arab population as belonging to the nation.

    More importantly,

    Primary and secondary education is universal, with instruction for the Arab minority based on the common curriculum used by the Jewish majority, but conducted in Arabic. In August 2010, the government mandated the teaching of Arabic in all state schools, starting with 170 schttp://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2011/israelhools in the north.

    Yes there are discrimination and problems, which I do not deny. But again every nation has discrination, even to this day European and Western nations. It is up to the Israeli Arabs along with secular and leftist Jews to change all of this, just as the African-Americans did in the U.S.

    The occupied territories are another story, and that’s why I oppose the occupation.

  • Ilisha

    Also, just to add to JSP’s point, Israel has a preferential but NOT exclusive immigration policy also. There are immigrants who aren’t Jewish:

    http://www.jweekly.com/article/full/11965/immigration-of-non-jews-to-israel-increasing/

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/peres-laments-shameful-policy-toward-non-jewish-immigrants-1.8121

  • Ilisha

    @Believing Atheist

    I expressly wrote that I wasn’t referring to Israel, and you have already made your point on that matter..several times.

    What I said is there is a difference between preferential treatment and ethnic purity, and there is.

    Also, just because country X does something doesn’t mean country Y should do it too. It only means either both are right or both are wrong. It’s an argument against double standards.

    In any case, I will add that I think calling Israel an Apartheid state or racist or whatever is counter-productive and adds nothing to the quest for peace. That’s why I qualified my statement.

  • Just Stopping By

    @Ilisha: “I don’t think giving preferential treatment to some groups is the same as having an ‘ethnically pure’ state. … This is not in reference to Israel…”

    Excellent point.

    Nur Alia has commented several times about Israel supposedly being ethnically pure, but as quoted above by Believing Atheist, “The political involvement of the Arab sector is manifested through both national and municipal elections. Arab citizens run the political and administrative affairs of their own municipalities and advance Arab interests through their elected representatives in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. Arab Israelis have also held various government positions, including that of deputy minister. At present a member of the Druze community is serving as a government minister. (My [i.e., Believing Atheist's] note: A Muslim Arab is now a Minister).”

    I don’t know if there are any ethnically pure states, and only two or three religiously pure ones that I know of: the Maldives (“The Maldives is the only country besides Saudi Arabia that claims to have a 100 percent Muslim population. Its constitution prohibits citizenship for non-Muslims.” http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/11497/political-instability-in-the-maldives-could-have-regional-fallout), perhaps Saudi Arabia from the prior quote, and Vatican City.

  • Believing Atheist

    @llisha,

    If you clicked on the site I linked you would’ve seen that Japan does not allow immigration (or only allows it at a small scale) in order to maintain its Japannessness so to speak. It has a legal right to do so. Now by that same standard Israel has a legal right to maintain its Jewishness quote on quote.

  • Ilisha

    @Believing Atheist

    “If these states can legally be an ethniclly pure state so can Israel.”

    I don’t think giving preferential treatment to some groups is the same as having an “ethnically pure” state. Ireland and the other countries you mentioned allow other immigrant groups as well.

    This is not in reference to Israel, just the “ethnically pure” state examples.

  • Believing Atheist

    @Nur,

    I am not going to say anything in my own words. I am simply going to cite the law. If the law bothers you, there is nothing I can do about it.

    “Jewishness” is not a racial identity, but complaints about Israel being a “Jewish state” are often put in terms of the Law of Return being “racist.” The Law of Return is based on ethnic (not racial) heritage grants anyone with a Jewish grandparent automatic citizenship (the Israeli Supreme Court has held that one is not eligible for the Law of Return if one has adopted the Christian religion, because in the complex area of Jewish identity, Jews who become Christians have left the Jewish people). Non-Jewish immigrants with no ethnic Jewish background can become citizens, with some difficulty, as can, automatically, non-Jewish immigrants closely related to Jews (e.g., spouses), many of whom have recently arrived from the former Soviet Union. Arabs who lived in Israel during the War of Independence (and thus presumptively accepted the existence of Israel and were not engaged in warfare against Israel) and their descendants have full citizenship rights, but they are relieved of one of the major obligations of Israeli citizenship, military or other national service”
    http://volokh.com/posts/1154643709.shtml

    Furthermore, if you have a problem with Israel being a Jewish state you have a problem with all of these countries as well.

    Ireland: “If you are of the third or subsequent generation born abroad to an Irish citizen (in other words, one of your grandparents is an Irish citizen but none of your parents was born in Ireland), you may be entitled to become an Irish citizen” [if, as I understand it, you register properly]. Does Ireland have the right to exist as an Irish state?

    Several other countries recognize a “right of return” similar, but often broader, than Israel’s (via Wikipedia):

    Armenia: “Individuals of Armenian origin shall acquire citizenship of the Republic of Armenia through a simplified procedure.”

    Bulgaria: “Any person … whose descent from a Bulgarian citizen has been established by way of a court ruling shall be a Bulgarian citizen by origin.”

    Finland: “The Finnish Aliens Act provides for persons who are of Finnish origin to receive permanent residence. This generally means Karelians and Ingrian Finns from the former Soviet Union, but United States, Canadian or Swedish nationals with Finnish ancestry can also apply.”

    Germany: “German law allows persons of German descent living in Eastern Europe to return to Germany and acquire German citizenship.” My understanding is that this German descent may go back many generations. [Note that until recently, Germany's citizenship law was less liberal than Israel's, in that it did not allow non-ethnic Germans, including Turkish who had lived in Germany for generations, to be become citizens.]

    Greece: “‘Foreign persons of Greek origin’, who neither live in Greece nor hold Greek citizenship nor were necessarily born there, may become Greek citizens by enlisting in Greece’s military forces.”
    (Same Source).

    If these states can legally be an ethniclly pure state so can Israel.

  • Ilisha

    @NurAlia

    I think you might like this from Israeli author Avraham Burg. Maybe you will agree with his assessment:

    Prayer for Peace
    Here is what the prime minister should say to his people: the time for illusions is over. The time for decisions has arrived. We love the entire land of our forefathers and in some other time we would have wanted to live here alone. But that will not happen. The Arabs, too, have dreams and needs.

    Between the Jordan and the Mediterranean there is no longer a clear Jewish majority. And so, fellow citizens, it is not possible to keep the whole thing without paying a price. We cannot keep a Palestinian majority under an Israeli boot and at the same time think ourselves the only democracy in the Middle East. There cannot be democracy without equal rights for all who live here, Arab as well as Jew. We cannot keep the territories and preserve a Jewish majority in the world’s only Jewish state – not by means that are humane and moral and Jewish.

    Do you want the greater land of Israel? No problem. Abandon democracy. Let’s institute an efficient system of racial separation here, with prison camps and detention villages.

    Do you want a Jewish majority? No problem. Either put the Arabs on railway cars, buses, camels and donkeys and expel them en masse – or separate ourselves from them absolutely, without tricks and gimmicks. There is no middle path. We must remove all the settlements – all of them – and draw an internationally recognised border between the Jewish national home and the Palestinian national home. The Jewish law of return will apply only within our national home, and their right of return will apply only within the borders of the Palestinian state.

    “Do you want democracy? No problem. Either abandon the greater land of Israel, to the last settlement and outpost, or give full citizenship and voting rights to everyone, including Arabs. The result, of course, will be that those who did not want a Palestinian state alongside us will have one in our midst, via the ballot box.

    Burg was formerly a member of the Knesset, a chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, and a Speaker of the Knesset. He was also an activist in left-wing organizations and the Peace Now movement. In 2004, Burg resigned from the Knesset and public life.

    I think another person who has said similar is the late Yehoshafat Harkabi, who was the chief of Israeli military intelligence from 1955 until 1959. His writings have influenced my thinking significantly.

    They’ve tried very hard to put things into perspective, without trifling in legal obscurities.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GargamelGold?feature=mhee CriticalDragon1177

    @DawahFilms

    You wrote,
    ————————————————————————–
    So let me get this straight…many atheists get offended when Christians, Jews and Muslims try to sell them their religion and consider it “shoving it down their throats”, but they can post huge billboards in front of religious centers to be viewed 24/7?

    Interesting.
    ————————————————————————–

    Well some atheists are hypocrites just like some people who believe in a god are hypocrites. I’ve come across a few.

  • NurAlia

    @believing athiest…

    PLease note…without using ‘ancedotes’ from ynet and apologists for Israel…that I want you to explain your support for a ‘Jewish State’ and how it is a democracy when it’s existance depends on ‘ethnic purity’.

    Do not hide behind other people’s words. I want you to express to me your point of view.

  • Believing Atheist

    @Nur,

    I claim the latter.

    Legally speaking:

    Arab Israelis are citizens of the Israel with equal rights. In 1948, Israel’s Declaration of Independence called upon the Arab inhabitants of Israel to “participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions”.

    The political involvement of the Arab sector is manifested through both national and municipal elections. Arab citizens run the political and administrative affairs of their own municipalities and advance Arab interests through their elected representatives in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. Arab Israelis have also held various government positions, including that of deputy minister. At present a member of the Druze community is serving as a government minister. (My note: A Muslim Arab is now a Minister).

    The Declaration also promises that Israel will “ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex” and guarantees “freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture”.

    Israel has extensive anti-discrimination laws. Moreover, since the founding of the State, the status of Arab Israeli women has been significantly improved by legislation stipulating equal rights for women and prohibition of polygamy and child marriage. Israel remains one of the few countries in the Middle East where women enjoy equality in rights and personal freedoms, including the right to vote and be elected to local and national office.

    The only legal distinction between Arab and Jewish citizens is not one of rights, but rather of civic duty. Since Israel’s establishment, Arab citizens have been exempted from compulsory service in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). This exemption was made out of consideration for their family, religious and cultural affiliations with the Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world, given the on-going conflict. Still, volunteer military service is encouraged and IDF service was made mandatory for Druze and Circassian men at the request of their community leaders.
    http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Society_&_Culture/arabs2.html

    Now discrimination exists and legality is not always applied fully but again like all nations Israel is a work in progress.

    Yes different ethnicites can get married via civil marriage. Interracial couples can head to Cyprus get married and come back and the Israeli govt will recognize the marriage. The same is true of Lebanon. Or you can head into a foreign embassy get married there and the govt will recognize it.

    In fact Jews convert to Islam in Israel
    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3274735,00.html

    And this is a result of Jewish, Christian women marrying Muslim men.

    You have claimed several times that Israel is Apartheid, but within Israel, apartheid may not be true. See for instance, Judge Goldstone’s analysis where he claims it is a slander
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/01/opinion/israel-and-the-apartheid-slander.html

  • NurAlia

    @Believing Athiest…

    This is my quote…exactly. Please try NOT to be creative with what I post, or imply things I did not say.

    “…You didnt post the UN charter, you posted a ‘commentary’ to the charter of the UN. The Charter itself does NOT offically recognise Israel as a ‘Jewish State’, nor does any country recognise them as such. Even the US doesnt recognise Israel offically as a Jewish state…”

    Now, going back to ‘unjustifying civilized moral and ethical values’ and not trying to justify what I am asking you in the muck of legality…please tell us.

    If YOU promote Israel’s right to be a Jewish State religiously, how is it a democray? Tell us how basing law on religious principles FULL MEASURE equality for ALL people? Tell us, how a person would be treated…for example…working on Saturday if the law was based on the Torah, or how non combatants would be treated in war?

    In other words friend, show us the ‘humanity’ of having Israeli law based on the Jewish Holy book…and how that would be a democracy, rather than a theocracy?

    If YOU claim that Israel is a Jewish state based on ‘ethnicity’…then tell us how equality would be interpreted for those who do not belong to that ‘ethnic group’? Tell us, who decides how ‘ethnically pure’ one has to be to be ethnically Jewish. What do you think should be done to maintan ‘ethnic purity’ in a society built on ethnicity. Can people of different ethnicitys be married? Will the ‘leaders’ make laws dividing ‘citizen’ from ‘resident’ based on ethnicity…etc.

    Israel can not be a Jewish state in ANY form and also be a democracy. Please dont get ‘lost’ in technicality, and tell us how you can claim that Israel is a democracy.

  • Believing Atheist

    @Nur,

    You mistakenly believed that the UN established a Jewish state. That’s not true. It only recognized a Jewish state via a resolution and that resolution is legally nonbinding.

    The Jewish state was given a legally binding international recognition before the creation of the UN. I quote:

    “The San Remo Resolution converted the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917 from a
    mere statement of British policy expressing sympathy with the goal of the Zionist movement
    to create a Jewish state into a binding act of international law that required specific fulfillment
    by Britain of this object in active cooperation with the Jewish people. Under the Balfour
    Declaration as originally issued by the British Government, the latter only promised to use
    their best endeavors to facilitate the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the
    Jewish people.”
    http://www.acpr.org.il/pp/pp147-grief-E.pdf

    Read the entire resolution here:
    http://www.cfr.org/israel/san-remo-resolution/p15248

    @JSB,

    Garden?

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