Loonwatch has previously pointed out that Islamophobia and Judeophobia are frequently related. In this open letter to synagogues and Jewish organizations planning to have Pamela Geller speak, Jewish Loonwatcher Just Stopping By points out that not only is Pamela Geller Islamophobic, but her Islamophobia leads her to take anti-Jewish positions as well. Loonwatchers are encouraged to send copies of or links to this letter, or to compose a polite but informative message of their own, when they hear of Geller planning to speak at a synagogue or Jewish organization.
Some Jewish Reasons Why Inviting Pamela Geller To Speak Is Not Kosher
Guest Post by Just Stopping By
An Open Letter to Synagogues and Jewish Organizations Considering Inviting Pamela Geller to Speak: Pamela Geller Promotes Hatred of Jews and Jewish Practices
Pamela Geller frequently arranges to speak at venues by claiming to be a human rights advocate. Often, when the venues involved learn of her public Islamophobia, they decide to cancel her speech.
Rabbi Eric Yoffie, President Emeritus of the Union for Reform Judaism noted in 2013, “The recent decisions by a synagogue in Great Neck and another outside of Toronto to cancel appearances by anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller—both were rescheduled at other venues—have made headlines in the Jewish press and raised interesting questions for the Jewish community.” Rabbi Yoffie states in his commentary that “Pamela Geller has no place in an American synagogue. She is a bigot and purveyor of hate.”
Pamela Geller’s anti-Muslim hatred should be sufficient reason to not invite her to speak or to withdraw any invitation already given. In addition, as has often been pointed out, hate against one group often leads to hate against another. And, even if Pamela Geller does not mean to promote hate against Jews and Jewish practices, in many ways she does just that. Below are ten ideas that you may not be aware that Pamela Geller has put forth that, in fact, are conducive to promoting hatred of Jews and Jewish practices.
1. Geller is effectively against kosher meat, having described a process nearly identical to shichitah (kosher slaughtering) as an action that yields “meat slaughtered by means of a barbaric, torturous and inhuman method: Islamic slaughter. Halal slaughter involves killing the animal by cutting the trachea, the esophagus, and the jugular vein, and letting the blood drain out…” The same could be said about shichitah, as the slaughtering method is subject to the same concerns.
2. Geller objects to reasonable accommodations for those who want to wear religious headwear like a kippa / yarmulke. Similarly, she points out an Obama appointee is “the first veiled Muslim woman to serve in the White House,” (bolding in Geller’s post), licensing a similar smear against kippa- or sheitel-wearing Jews.
3. Geller objects to universities offering optional classes and conferences in religious law. This is true even when those conferences serve goals such as applying pressure on non-state actors to reduce civilian casualties by addressing “the lack of standards for dealing with the rise of irregular armies or the inability of the law to accommodate asymmetric forms of attacks by non-state entities against sovereign states.” This position could be used against schools like the largest Catholic university in the United States, which has a Center for Jewish Law & Judaic Studies.
4. Geller objects when a government official uses a Semitic language to speak to an audience, calling it “speechifying in” that language. This attitude could be similarly used to criticize U.S. government officials who reach out to Jews in Hebrew or, moving beyond purely Semitic languages, in the Yiddish phrases that former Secretary of State Colin Powell sometimes invoked.
5. Geller objects to a private airline removing pork from its menu when traveling to/from a Middle Eastern country, even though many American Jews are familiar and comfortable with pork-free flights to the Middle East.
6. Geller objects to mosques‘ existence and construction, often under the pretext of zoning issues, using arguments that could be turned against synagogues. She further “calls for immediate investigation into foreign mosque funding in the West and for new legislation making foreign funding of mosques in non-Muslim nations illegal,” a principle that could be turned against foreign funding or support for synagogues, and presumably other religious endeavors such as Chabad Houses, everywhere in the world other than in Israel.
7. Geller objects to the use of sharia courts for private dispute resolution, though this could affect b’tei din (Jewish courts) and though Jewish, Muslim, and other religious courts are publicly financed in Israel.
8. Geller objects to public schools having religious holidays off when those holidays are for religious minorities at the school, though Jewish groups often make the case for schools with large Jewish student populations having Jewish holidays off.
9. Geller promotes intolerance by using mocking terminology for religious figures, such as “Moe” for Muhammad, while Jews have rightly been upset at the use of mocking references to Jewish names and should be uniquely concerned with nomenclature given issues such as references to the Tanakh or the “Old” Testament.
10. Geller spreads conspiracy theories about what she has called the “Islamic Geopolitical Influence in Financial Markets.” Do synagogues and Jewish organizations really want to sponsor a speaker who promulgates theories about the influence of members of a particular religion on global financial markets?
Pamela Geller’s statements about Muslims are hateful enough that on that basis alone she should not be invited to speak at a synagogue or Jewish organization. Jews would not approve of other groups making similar statements about us, and we should remember that we should not do to others what is hateful for us. Beyond that, when we go and study Geller’s statements, we see that her agenda is not pro-Jewish. In fact, it is conducive to hatred against Jews and Jewish practices; she does not even have a leg to stand on.
How far do Geller’s statements go in providing support for hatred against Jews? Consider this quote from Geller, with bolding added, about a rabbi who called out Geller’s bigotry:
The quisling “rabbi” Jill Jacobs, the executive director of T’ruah, which spent $10,000 on ads last fall to oppose my pro-Israel ads, said “I wish that none of this had ever started.” Really, “Rabbi”? Jacobs will answer to higher authority. Jacobs was silent when vicious anti-Israel ads ran in cities across the country. Jacobs only got involved to condemn me for standing up against the vicious anti-semitic ad campaigns running on transit platforms from NY to California. Jacobs is not a rabbi — Jacobs is a quisling, an enemy with a Mona Lisa smile. She should be stripped of any rabbinical status (I am sure she’s of the ridiculous “reformed” [sic] movement — which no practicing Jew takes seriously).
A speaker at a synagogue or Jewish organization should be someone whose talk leads to a good and pleasant experience for those seated in the audience, not someone who uses blog post titles to spread division-inciting baseless hatred while trivializing Jewish history. Geller’s statements are not the kind of speech that a Jewish soul should yearn for; for if it does, our hope for peace and understanding with Muslims and other Jews may be lost.
It is understandable that a synagogue or Jewish organization could be misled by a carefully edited biography about Pamela Geller that seems to show her as a civil rights activist. But, analyses by the Southern Poverty Law Center show that she is an avid anti-Muslim bigot. That should be sufficient to deny her a position as a speaker at a synagogue or Jewish organization. But, given Geller’s effective anti-Jewish agenda, if you do decide to invite her, remember not to serve kosher meat or to refer to any rabbis who oppose her, especially those of the Reform movement though also Modern Orthodox, as a rabbi (instead of as a “rabbi”), lest you do something she finds offensive. Of course, the best idea is to either not invite her at all, or, like other synagogues and Jewish organizations have done, to withdraw an invitation you have provided before being made aware of Geller’s anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish positions.