Is David Yerushalmi Jewish?

Previously we wrote about anti-Shariah crusader David Yerushalmi. He is back in the news again at the National Review and Mother Jones, according to Sarah Posner at Religion Dispatches.

A strong objection at NR to Yerushalmi's crusade is that he proposes a preemptive solution to a problem that does not yet exist.

On 7/31/11 we wrote: The Times has a front page article on the lawyer, David Yerushalmi, "The Man Behind the Anti-Shariah Movement" by Andrea Elliot. It is quite negative in tone, critical of his anti-Shariah agenda, his campaign against Islamic law.

We are opposed to every facet of Yerushalmi's bigoted campaign. Let us make it as clear as possible. Attacking Sharia as an evil by association with terrorism is equivalent to attacking Nike shoes because terrorists wear them. Law, scripture, propaganda -- all those can be the clothing of evil and terror. Going after the garb to make it outlawed is a misdirection of gargantuan proportions that will accomplish nothing except to engender a backlash.

Finally, the Times is catching up and catching on. Nearly five months ago we criticized this agenda, based on what we read in a Mother Jones article. On 3/7/2011, we posted this about David Yerushalmi:

Yes, David Yerushalmi is a Jew. According to an email by him published in Mother Jones, he is an Orthodox, practicing Jew. He says, "My parents are Russian Jewish immigrants who came to this country ...in the 20th century." Yerushalmi is an attorney and a right wing political activist.

The article in Mother Jones is quite negative and accusatory from the title on through, "Meet the White Supremacist Leading the GOP's Anti-Sharia Crusade." Its author Tim Murphy summarizes his attack on Yerushalmi, "States across the country are considering far-right bills to ban Islamic law. For that, we have hate-group leader David Yerushalmi to thank."

He goes on to describe the Yerushalmi campaign quite negatively:
Last week, legislators in Tennessee introduced a radical bill that would make "material support" for Islamic law punishable by 15 years in prison. The proposal marks a dramatic new step in the conservative campaign against Muslim-Americans. If passed, critics say even seemingly benign activities like re-painting the exterior of a mosque or bringing food to a potluck could be classified as a felony.

The Tennessee bill, SB 1028, didn't come out of nowhere. Though it's the first of its kind, the bill is part of a wave of related measures that would ban state courts from enforcing Sharia law. (A court might refer to Sharia law in child custody or prisoner rights cases.) Since early 2010, such legislation has been considered in at least 15 states. And while fears of an impending caliphate are myriad on the far-right, the surge of legislation across the country is largely due to the work of one man: David Yerushalmi, an Arizona-based white supremacist who has previously called for a "war against Islam" and tried to criminalize adherence to the Muslim faith.
The anti-Sharia movement gets quite Talmudic in the ways that tries to avoid the appearance of racism, while accomplishing its anti-Islamic aims. Yerushalmi's sample legislation, which he promotes, cloaks itself in language substitutions, as in,
...a sample bill Yerushalmi drafted at the behest of the American Public Policy Alliance, a right-wing organization established with the goal of protecting American citizens from "the infiltration and incursion of foreign laws and foreign legal doctrines, especially Islamic Shariah Law."

In a 40-minute PowerPoint that's available on the organization's site, Yerushalmi explained the ins and outs of the sample legislation. His bills differ from the failed Oklahoma amendment in one key way: They don't mention Sharia. Instead, they focus more broadly on "foreign laws and foreign legal doctrines." As Yerushalmi explained in an interview with the nativist New English Review in December, the language is "facially neutral," thereby achieving the same result while "avoiding the sticky problems of our First Amendment jurisprudence."
We are not pleased to read about Yerushalmi accusations that he supports racists and racism,
Yerushalmi has suggested that Caucasians are inherently more receptive to republican forms of government than blacks—an argument that's consistent with SANE's mission statement, which emphasizes that "America was the handiwork of faithful Christians, mostly men, and almost entirely white." And in an article published at the website Intellectual Conservative, Yerushalmi, who is Jewish, suggests that liberal Jews "destroy their host nations like a fatal parasite." Unsurprisingly, then, Yerushalmi offered the lone Jewish defense of Mel Gibson, after the actor’s anti-Semitic tirade in 2006. Gibson, he wrote, was simply noting the "undeniable Jewish liberal influence on western affairs in the direction of a World State."

Despite his racist views, Yerushalmi has been warmly received by mainstream conservatives; his work has appeared in the National Review and Andrew Breitbart's Big Peace. He's been lauded in the pages of the Washington Times. And in 2008, he published a paper on the perils of Sharia-compliant finance that compelled Sen. Minority Whip John Kyl (R-Ariz.) to write a letter to Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Chris Cox.
Oy, we are liberal and Jewish and simply don't like being compared to "a fatal parasite" -- so Mr. Yerushalmi has not exactly won us over, even with his sharply argued Talmudic rhetoric.

The man replies after the fact to the article, having refused to be interviewed by the writer whom he accuses of "bigoted journalism." Okay but why now write an email? In it Yerushalmi denies that he is a "white supremacist" because, "As an Orthodox Jew, whose grandparents and parents were immigrants to this country, I am the first person that real white supremacists wish to murder. Have you not read neo-Nazi or KKK literature?" Murphy probably did read that literature, which adds to the contradictions that enhance the newsworthiness of this story.

Yerushalmi denies he is racist, even though he admits that his writings are suffused with racist discussions.

And he gets worked up because something else Murphy says.
Secondly, you suggest I am a racist because I criticize liberal Jews. I dare say that insofar as I am an orthodox, practicing Jew, my criticism of liberal Jews can hardly be counted as "racism;" yet, indeed, you make this asinine argument.
This fails the Talmud test, there is no logic here in the refutation. If Murphy sees fit to apply the tag racist to a Jew because of how he attacks other Jews, that is his right - and it is all the more ironic and interesting.

And then we listen as Mr. Yerushalmi calls other charges in Murphy's essay, "patently absurd" or a "patent falsehood" or "a bigoted ad hominem attack" and threatens Murphy with "a legal brief" and implies that he will sue Murphy for "actual malice."


We are grateful that this article and reply came out before the Jewish holiday of Purim. It gives us a chance to point out a timely seasonal irony.

To preface this, when we were twelve we wrote a school report on Judah P. Benjamin, a Jewish politician who supported slavery in the US Senate and then rose to political prominence in the Confederacy during the civil war. While in the Senate, once after Benjamin delivered an eloquent pro-slavery speech, one of his opponents rose to criticize Benjamin, calling him "an Israelite with Egyptian tendencies." Even at the age of twelve we could see that this a was delicious political rhetorical irony.

Shifting to the case at hand, the enemy of the Jews in the book of Esther is the nefarious Haman, the Agagite.

He conspires with the King of Persia in a racist anti-Semitic plot to have the Jews killed,
Then Haman said to King Ahasverus, "There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the peoples in all the provinces of your kingdom; their laws are different from those of every other people, and they do not keep the king's laws, so that it is not for the king's profit to tolerate them. If it please the king, let it be decreed that they be destroyed..." (Esther 3:8-9).
Well certainly, Yerushalmi is not seeking to pass legislation to kill all the Muslims in our kingdom.

But  he does go after a certain people dispersed among us, the Muslims. And he does go after their laws that are different from those of every other people. We do think it is fair to rise in the chamber of debate and to ask ironically, is Mr. Yerushalmi a Jew with Agagite tendencies? Is he acting in ways that appear nefarious and racist against another people? Obviously, Murphy thinks that he is, and it makes for an interesting article.


Nachum said...

So being opposed to sharia is now "hate." Wow, Orwell lives, and, as he would have predicted, it all comes from the Left, busy selling Muslims the ropes from which they will hang.

Tzvee Zahavy said...

I was going to chastise Yerushalmi for racist views on the analogy that Haman built the gallows on which he and his sons were hanged. But then I did not want to overdo the analogy. It's obvious that we Jews should be the last to promote any racist policy. First Sharia, next what?

YMedad said...

Let me see, you write "Attacking Sharia as an evil by association with terrorism is equivalent to attacking Nike shoes because terrorists wear them." True.

But if terrorists prefer Nike, and despite options of other footwear, one could say that "Nike are the preferred shoes of terrorists", and so an ad agent could run a campaign as "Sharia - the preferred theological corpus of Islamic terrorists", no? And then, the campaign could be developed in a college class along the lines of:

a) why do Islamic terrorists prefer Sharia?
b) is Sharia being perverted by Islamic terrorists?
c) is the Koran inducive to violent behavior? against women? against Jews and other infidels?
d) what does Shariah say about that?