Archive for November, 2015

Thoughts after the Paris attacks – Raymond Wofsy, member of Jews Say No! educator/activist living in Paris.

November 16, 2015

Jews Against Islamophobia, a coalition of Jews Say No! (jewssayno@gmail.com) and Jewish Voice for Peace-NY (jvp-nyc-coordinating@googlegroups.com), would like to share the thoughts of Raymond Wofsy, member of Jews Say No! and educator/activist who is living in Paris.

I am so sad today. My heart goes out to the families and friends of
the people who were killed and who are still in the hospital.

I feel very touched by these murders. Friends of mine were in close
proximity, and friends of friends are in the hospital or were killed.
One of the restaurants that was attacked is next to a vegan spot that
Felix and I go to often. All of these places are places I know well
and that I could easily have been at or near on Friday.

It feels hard to mourn because so much of the collective mourning here
seems to be centered around nationalism, the French flag, and
celebrating how wonderful France is. I cannot separate French
nationalism from colonial racism, Islamophobia, and imperialism. So
how do I feel my feelings right now? I am sad, upset, angry, but I do
not agree with the French government and I do not valorize the French
state. I am trying to hold all this together and to mourn in a way
that feels right to me.

I believe, as analysts have said, that these terrorist attacks were
not the beginning of a war in France, but the manifestation of wars
France is already participating in, specifically by bombing Syria.
France was at war, is at war, and now we are seeing what war looks
like in our own city. Terrorist attacks happen in many places and
they only get this type of attention when they target Europeans or
people from the U.S. I am especially close to Paris because this is
my home right now. I have been given a glimpse of what it feels like
to live with this type of violence and death, and I am thinking of the
millions of people who live with this type of fear everyday.

In a country where it is illegal to wear a hijab in public buildings,
where my Arab friends talk how strangers look at them with racism and
fear on their faces, about being afraid to go outside, and where
violent anti-Muslim attacks increased 500% after the Charlie Hebdo
attack, I am very afraid of what is to come. I am also heartened by
some of the analysis I am reading in friend’s Facebook posts and in
articles from activist organizations. I am trying to end on a
positive note here, hopeful that we can stand together against this
Islamophobic backlash, which has already started.

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November 16, 2015

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SURVEILLANCE OF MUSLIM COMMUNITY CONTINUES DESPITE PROMISES FROM DE BLASIO

November 2, 2015

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 Nov. 2, 2015   Jews Against Islamophobia (JAI) and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) are outraged to learn that the NYPD has continued to spy on the Muslim community and calls on the Mayor and City to put a halt to this discriminatory practice immediately. Despite Mayor De Blasio’s statement when he took office that it is unfair for law enforcement to single out people on the basis of their religion, the Gothamist reported that an undercover NYPD officer had been spying on a group of Muslim students at Brooklyn College as late as December 2014, eight months after he took office.

Pretending to have converted to Islam, the undercover NYPD officer spied for four years on women from the Brooklyn College Islamic Society solely because they are Muslim. Such surveillance undermines civil liberties and injures the people and community being targeted.

In 2011/2012, a Pulitzer Prize-winning Associated Press series documented that the NYPD had engaged in a far-reaching surveillance program that burrowed deep into the lives and institutions of New York-area Muslim communities. Informants were placed in mosques, Muslim student organizations, and Muslim-owned bookstores, businesses, and cafes. Some infiltrated Muslim student groups on college campuses at six branches of the City University of New York, as well as at colleges outside the City.

“That Muslim students at Brooklyn College were spied on like this makes a farce of anything De Blasio said about protecting people on the basis of their religion,” stated Candace Graff, member of JAI. “We need to speak out far and wide against this spying and intimidation.”

 According to JAI member and CUNY emerita professor, Rosalind Petchesky, “The Muslim community continues to face discrimination on a daily basis—in employment, through acts of violence and hate crimes against them, and through continued state-sponsored Islamophobia. It is shameful that students at Brooklyn College—or anywhere—have to endure this kind of discriminatory treatment. It is not only the City that is responsible. Chancellor Milliken’s office and the administrations of Brooklyn College and all CUNY campuses need to be adamant about protecting our students against bias, spying, and harassment.”

 As Alan Levine, civil rights lawyer and member of JAI, wrote in a 2012 piece in the National Law Journal on NYPD’s Unconstitutional Surveillance, “The Muslim community should not have to wait a day longer for city officials to abandon a practice that so flagrantly affronts principles of equal justice and religious freedom.” This remains equally true in 2015 and must stop immediately.

 Jews Against Islamophobia is a coalition of Jewish Voice for Peace—New York (jvp-nyc-coordinating@googlegroups.com) and Jews Say No! in NYC (jewssayno@gmail.com).  Jews for Racial and Economic Justice can be reached at info@jfrej.org

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