CAIR-MA has recently published a report on a local hate group, Americans for Peace and Tolerance, at Islamophobia.org; it can be found below and at http://www.islamophobia.org/156-americans-for-peace-and-tolerance/170-americans-for-peace-and-tolerance.html. The report outlines in detail the group’s sources of funding (over $700,000 per year, documented, in donations according to the group’s most recent records), financial ties to organizations identified as hate groups according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, past statements disparaging Muslims and Islam by its members, inaccuracies in their interactions with media, and ongoing attempts to undermine the Muslim community, beginning with its leadership.
The report serves as a resource for the media, interfaith groups, and the public more generally about the nature of the group, their goals, and past biased actions. If you find yourself being targeted by this group, please contact CAIR-MA immediately before speaking with them: we can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (617) 862-9159.
While purporting dedication to “promoting peaceful coexistence in an ethnically diverse America by educating the American public about the need for a moderate political leadership that supports tolerance and core American values in communities across the nation,” the Boston-based Americans for Peace and Tolerance (APT) is a hate group dedicated to undermining mainstream Muslim institutions and promoting Islamophobia within the media. The group and its members have consistently made defamatory, inaccurate, and misleading statements about Islam and Muslims, and receive financing from some of the most notorious Islamophobic organizations in the United States. The group has also targeted moderate Jews and those with views critical of Israeli policy toward Palestine.
APT has adopted a top-down strategy, focusing its attacks on those in positions of leadership and influence within the Boston Muslim community in order to prevent mainstream Muslim organizations from occupying a stable position of civic engagement. The group has repeatedly made unfounded and misleading allegations about members of the Boston Muslim community, especially the Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) and Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center (ISBCC). They have taken out extensive advertising in local and national newspapers asserting ties between these organizations and designated terrorist groups, penned op-eds in numerous news outlets presenting Boston as a “hub” of extremism, and accused local mosques of serving as fronts for the Muslim Brotherhood and promoting “violent Jihad, hatred for America, and of Western civilization in general.” The group waged a successful harassment campaign against the Newton, MA public school system: in an effort to alter the schools’ curricula so as to remove texts about Islam, APT took out incendiary and factually misleading ads in major Boston-area newspapers such as the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, Newton Tab, Jewish Advocate, and Boston Metro. Additionally, the group has attempted to smear those who encourage interfaith dialogue with Muslims, including respected Jewish community leaders such as Rabbi Eric Gurvis of Temple Shalom of Newton, MA. The ISB and ISBCC have publicly refuted each of these claims, identifying them as misleading and unsubstantiated attempts to tarnish their organizations, and a group of seventy Rabbinical community leaders together published a letter in The Jewish Advocate in 2011 calling upon APT’s President, Charles Jacobs, “to discontinue his destructive campaign against Boston’s Muslim community, which is based on innuendo, half-truths and unproven conspiracy theories.” Recently, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz publicly called the group’s claims “incredibly racist and unfair.”
APT’s publicly available financial records reveal a significant incentive for the group to engage in such hate-mongering: since 2009, APT has received nearly $2,000,000 in contributions. The group’s IRS Form 990 from 2013 indicates that it received $705,014 that year alone (up from $625,542 in 2012 and $319,760 in 2011), an enormous amount for a state-level nonprofit with just five registered employees, only one of whom, Charles Jacobs, collected a salary. The sources of this funding include some of the most prominent Islamophobic hate groups in the United States. The Alan and Hope Winters Family Foundation contributed $28,000 between 2010 and 2012, and the Middle East Forum provided $35,000 between 2009 and 2012. The former is described by the Center for American Progress as one of the top eight funders of Islamophobia in the US, donating to infamous anti-Muslim activists such as David Yerushalmi (the major promoter of nationwide “anti-Sharia” legislation) and Pamela Geller, who the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as “the anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and flamboyant figurehead” and whose group Stop the Islamization of America it lists as a hate group. Middle East Forum is one of the most prominent Islamophobic think tanks in America. The Forum is directed by Daniel Pipes, considered by many Muslims to be America’s leading Islamophobe: he is on record as being “encouraged” by growing bias against Muslim-Americans and claiming that ISIS is “100% Islamic,” among numerous other bigoted statements about immigrant and African-American Muslims. Americans for Peace and Tolerance’s financial support by these organizations not only demonstrates that their views are sufficiently aligned so as to attract such funding, but also displays a financial interest in promoting damaging narratives against Muslims and Islamic institutions.
The group is led by Charles Jacobs, who has a long history of founding polarizing and defamatory organizations in the Boston area. He previously directed The David Project and co-founded CAMERA (the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America). The former was profiled, along with Jacobs, in the CBS article “The Great Islamophobic Crusade,” which described in detail their efforts to block construction of the ISBCC on ideological grounds, as well as the group’s production of the film Columbia Unbecoming, which made unfounded accusations against Arab-American Columbia University faculty. The David Project has received over $250,000 since 2005 from organizations identified by the Islamophobia Network as promoting religiously motivated hatred against Muslims, and CAMERA has received over $2,000,000 in donations since 2001, including significant sums from groups dedicated to promoting anti-Islamic sentiments. The Anti-Defamation League has publicly repudiated Jacobs for his unfounded and “irresponsible” allegations that a public school building in Michigan was to be used as a front for the Muslim Brotherhood, and his criticisms of the ADL for supposedly not taking the threat of Islamic extremism seriously. The ADL cited his “pattern” of making such accusations, “replete with distortions, inaccuracies, exaggerations, and hyperbolic attacks that shed more light than heat.”
Other prominent members of APT include Ahmed Subhy Mansour, who is controversial for his support of well-known Islamophobe Daniel Pipes, as well as his justification of former Congressman Tom Tancredo’s suggestion of bombing Mecca. Following Tancredo’s proposal that the US might propose bombing Islam’s holiest site as a deterrent against terrorist attacks, Mansour wrote that “an objective assessment of [Congressman] Tancredo’s statement must claim that any US official, concerned with the lives of his civilian countrymen, is likely to make such a remark as a way of deterring terrorists.” The US State Department has called Tancredo’s statement “insulting and offensive.” Mansour has served in leadership roles within numerous organizations that are supported financially by Islamophobic causes and foundations, including the Center for Islamic Pluralism (CIP), which has received nearly $500,000 since 2005 from the Middle East Forum and the Donors Capital Fund, the latter of which has been documented as a major source of financial support for groups which oppose mainstream US Muslim organizations, having contributed over $27,000,000 to groups promoting Islamophobia. As noted above, the Middle East Forum is directed by Daniel Pipes, who has endorsed religious profiling of Muslims and stated that “Western European societies are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene… All immigrants bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim customs are more troublesome than most.” Mansour has expressed his support for Pipes, writing that “We Muslims need a thinker like Dr. Pipes, who can criticize the terrorist culture within Islam, just as I usually do.” William Sapers, an insurance executive, and Professor Dennis Hale of Boston University are also listed as Directors. The latter has published numerous articles in blogs and online opinion sites arguing that Muslims only feign indignation to insults against the Prophet Muhammed and their religion in order “to induce, in infidels, a habit of deference to Islam, the more public the deference the better;” publicly opposing the construction of the Park51 mosque in New York (calling it the “Ground Zero Mosque”); and claiming that “Palestinian Arabs only pretend that they want to be a people with their own nation. What Palestinian Arabs really want is depressingly clear: they want to destroy Israel and kill the Jews.”
Americans for Peace and Tolerance is the latest instantiation of a grouping of individuals with a long history of opposing religious plurality in the Boston area. Although its methods for doing so have evolved – from obstructing the construction and expansion of Muslim religious centers in the community to, once those institutions were established, attempting to erode public confidence in their leadership and capacity to engage in productive interfaith dialogue – its aims remain the same. The credibility of the group and its members, especially their espoused desire to “promot[e] peaceful coexistence in an ethnically diverse America,” is belied by their ongoing close association with some of the most virulently anti-Muslim groups currently operating in the United States, and they have a significant financial incentive to continue undermining the credibility of local Islamic institutions. Media outlets and political figures should be highly suspicious of their claims, which have been misleading or outright fabricated in the past.