Tag Archive: Muslim

NYPD Investigating Newark Muslim Community: Are We Not Americans, Too?

The author is West Ward councilman, City of Newark. – promoted by Rosi

The Star-Ledger reported last week that in mid to late 2007, the New York Police Department (NYPD) conducted extensive surveillance of Newark Muslim based businesses and mosques. The sad part of this poster child for religious profiling was that it was done with the full knowledge and cooperation of former Newark Police Director Garry McCarthy and without the knowledge of Newark Mayor Cory Booker, his boss. Even sadder is the fact that the 60-page Ccompiled report cited no evidence of terrorism or criminal behavior.

In a post-9/11 world in the tri-state area, most would understand an investigation based on probable cause or some intelligence indicating a national security threat. But  this type of arbitrary investigation, only known to an out of jurisdiction law enforcement agency, and the head of the investigated jurisdiction’s police department, apparently without federal cooperation based on some evidence of terrorism, is anti-American and chilling to all of our rights as citizens under the Constitution. We all need to be offended and embarrassed by the act and the lack of remorse by the NYPD.

September 11, 2010, Hoboken, New Jersey

This is the first year since September 11, 2001 that I haven’t marked the anniversary at a public gathering. I was stuck in a meeting, so I had my computer open, tracking the timeline and quietly calling out the key events, which may have been unwelcome by the others at the table, but that’s tough. And this was a year when it felt like everything about the observance of the day changed. We’ve blown past We are all Americans today (thanks, George W. Bush), past calling it The Site and now calling it Ground Zero (which sounds less like a place of tragedy and more like a place to be avenged), past when the names were read to the ringing of bells where it happened and everybody in America sat glued, and solemn.  

We’re now into September 11 as political fodder for assholes like “Rev.” Terry Jones, haters looking for the next event on the horizon, and gullible media. So, I was glad to sit this one out with just my timeline of what really happened in front of me.

But that’s because I don’t live anywhere near Hoboken. And, to tell the truth, I missed word of what that city did to mark the day. So I’m glad somebody who lives there sent me a story about it afterward. And, especially because it happened within site of where the Towers once stood, it’s all very encouraging.

At an Interfaith Memorial Service, clergy members read from the Torah in Hebrew, from the New Testament, and from the Quran in Arabic. And the world did not fall apart, freedom was celebrated the way freedom really is (and not as a perversion of one religion against another), and tolerance, respect, and mutual support in grief was experienced. Senator Menendez was there, describing the day for those reliving it. The names of the 57 people Hoboken lost were read out loud. And if a city that lost 57 can have a day like that, we all ought to be able to calm the hell down, stop looking for enemies amongst out neighbors and remember our obligations to each other, as each of those religions, and many more – including the secular humanist traditions – teach us.  

Menendez talks Israel on the Senate floor

Senator Menendez took to the Senate floor on June 16 to talk about the Holocaust and Israel’s history. He said he was going to make a modest attempt at a broad overview of the history of the middle east. He talked about the founding of Israel and some of the current arguments in play in the region:

The Senator’s speech has been getting some positive reviews:

“The senator’s speech was not only moving and inspirational, it was timely,” said Max Kleinman, executive vice president of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ. “It set the record straight historically, as the media bombards us with distortions put out by demagogues and their naive supporters. In the turbulent days ahead, only the truth will guide us, as Sen. Menendez reminded us.”

Reached on his cell phone prior to a meeting with Menendez, Lionel Kaplan, a Princeton attorney and former president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, called the speech “phenomenal.”

“It gave an explanation of why there is an Israel,” he said. “Some people think it is because of the Holocaust, but he described why that simply isn’t true.”

But not everyone agreed with what Menendez had to say and did:

While Kaplan praised the senator’s description of Hamas and Hizbullah as “the head of the snake when it comes to terrorism” and Iran as its -tail,” Doni Remba disagreed.

Remba, a West Orange resident and executive director of the Jewish Alliance for Change – a group formed in support of Obama’s candidacy – called the Menendez speech “monochromatic” and “a typical cartoon picture of the enemies of Israel and Israel as the righteous victim.”

He said Menendez was “pandering to American-Jewish voters and telling them we Jews are victims and Israel is surrounded by enemies.”

This situation isn’t going to be solved by speeches on the Senate floor, but I’m sure many appreciate the recognition of their opinions being voiced. Some in the Jewish community perceived Menedez’s speech as a subtle rebuke to the President’s address in Cairo. I thought the President recognized some of the complicated realities of the region, but some felt he didn’t go far enough in his defense of an ally in Israel. Ultimately, it won’t be the rhetoric on any side, but the actions of all involved that will determine whether progress is made.

Powell cites fallen NJ Soldier’s story to condemn GOP tactics

The big story for the national media will be the fact that “Colin Powell turned his back on his party to endorse Barack Obama.”  I’ve already heard it on my local news and on the cable news channels.

A lesser told, yet more important story will be Powell’s condemnation of the GOP tactics used to vilify Muslims as terrorists you need to fear and the extension that Barack Obama is a Muslim terrorist you need to fear.

Powell talks about a photo essay he saw in a magazine of a mother in Arlington Cemetery with her head on the headstone of her son’s grave.  Her son was a NJ Muslim American soldier who was 14 at the time of 9/11, but waited until he was old enough to enroll and was killed in Iraq.  It puts things in perspective.

Take a look for yourself, it’s pretty moving.  A transcript is below the fold.