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September 25, 2016 / 22 Elul, 5776
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Savaged for Daring to Name Savagery: Pamela Geller Attacked by Critics of Free Speech

The ads are already running on the sides of San Francisco buses, they began running today, September 24th, in New York City, and they were scheduled to begin appearing in the Washington, D.C. metro system. However, the DC system balked, citing the violent rioting by Muslims allegedly inflamed by a YouTube video which represents, so Geller initiated an emergency court action at the end of last week to enforce her First Amendment rights.

Pamela Geller

Pamela Geller

– The anti-Jihad ads are running in San Francisco, but with equal-sized disclaimers put up by the San Francisco transit agency running alongside them, and AFDI’s counter-counter-counter-ads running on still other buses.

– The anti-Jihad ads are running in New York City, after nearly a year-long delay during which AFDI had to sue the MTA in order for its First Amendment rights to be upheld.

– The anti-Jihad will not run in Washington, D.C. until it is ordered to by the federal court in which AFDI has filed suit to enforce its First Amendment rights.

Public Reaction

In most of the dozens of stories that have already been written about AFDI’s ads, Geller and her ads are harshly criticized, although some, grudgingly, agree that the US Constitution protects Geller’s political speech. The most consistent critics quoted by the media are representatives of groups like the Council of American-Islamic Relations.

CAIR consistently attacks Geller and her organizations as “designated hate groups,” and describes itself as a “civil rights group.” The “hate group” designation of  Geller’s group was one made by the now frequently discredited Southern Poverty Law Center.  On the other hand,   U.S. government representatives have described CAIR as a front group for Hamas.  CAIR was named on a list of unindicted co-conspirators in the largest terrorism-finance trial in U.S. history.  Although an appellate court later ruled the list itself should not have been made public, the designation of the group was never in question.  That court opinion stated that “the government has produced ample evidence to establish the associations of CAIR” and other groups “with Hamas.”

Another frequent critic of the anti-Jihad ads are representatives from the virulently anti-Israel organization Jewish Voice for Peace, a leader in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

Both the anti-Defamation League and the American Civil Liberties Union agree that the ads are protected by the First Amendment, although both hastened to distance themselves from the ads with the executive director of the New York City ACLU, Donna Lieberman, describing them as “patently offensive.” However,  Lieberman added that it was important the ads run because it would be more offensive  to “ violate the guarantee of free expression of all ideas regardless of how distasteful they are,” she said.

The ADL website has a page devoted to Geller on which it refers to her as a “conspiracy theorist” and her positions as “virulently anti-Muslim bigotry.”

Abe Foxman, executive director of the ADL said that Geller’s anti-Jihad ads are  “bigoted,” “anti-Muslim” and “highly offensive and inflammatory.”  Foxman disagreed with the ACLU’s Lieberman, as well as with Judge Englemayer, and said that “continuing to run the ad is irresponsible.”

When Geller was asked by The Jewish Press what Jewish or pro-Israel groups have been publicly supportive of the anti-Jihad ads, she could only come up with “a few Zionist Organization of America districts.”  That’s it.  She added, “the same kind of submission and acquiescence to annihilationist rhetoric we saw in pre-war Germany.”

When asked to compare the televised ads that ran in Pakistan with statements by President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton in an attempt to make clear that the United States was not involved in making the”Innocence of Muslims” movie and that it does not represent Americans’ attitudes towards Islam with her own ad anti-Jihad ad, Geller had this to say:

What did Obama achieve by running apology pro-sharia campaign ads in Pakistan?  He sanctioned the motive.  He sanctioned the brutal, anti-human blasphemy laws under the sharia. The result?  A Pakistani minister has issued  $100,000 bounty for the head of an American filmmaker.

Geller is regularly referred to as an anti-Muslim bigot, a term she considers highly offensive, and, she believes, reveals who are the real bigots.  Geller says she is highly, justifiably critical of people who commit unspeakable acts of violence against innocent civilians – people who are savages, that’s her point – in the name of Islam, but she doesn’t consider Muslims who do not commit such acts and who are opposed to such activity to be savages.

“They are the ones blurring the lines, not me,” and Geller adds, “I believe that Muslims are more victimized by Islamic supremacists than even non-Muslims.  Muslims as well as non-Muslims would benefit if free societies prevail over the Islamic supremacist  imperative to impose Sharia.”

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the U.S. correspondent for The Jewish Press. A graduate of Harvard Law School, she previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools. You can reach her by email: Lori@JewishPressOnline.com


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