Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.
Greenburgh, a town in Westchester, an area which has some of the fastest growing Jewish suburban communities in the country, is an unlikely place to find hate groups holding forth in its Town Hall auditorium. It’s certainly not the place where you expect a man linked to a shadowy terrorist bank to be promoting hatred against Jews and Israel with the acquiescence of the town supervisor.
And yet, bomb-sniffing dogs and metal detectors were the order of the day in the Greenburgh Town Hall as Jewish protesters gathered outside while inside opponents of Israel denounced the Jewish State.
The Jewish Rapid Response Coalition had come to stand up to hate, but found itself blocked and harassed while hate groups enjoyed the use of a taxpayer funded building. The event went ahead against the recommendation of Police Chief Chris McNerney. It went ahead even though its main speaker had defended terrorism and had authored an article titled, “Did Israel Really Think Hamas Would Turn the Other Cheek?”
Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), a sponsor of the event, was notorious for its participation in pro-Hamas events. Signs at rallies the organization had cosponsored in the past had included messages such as “Gaza is the Real Holocaust.”
Local observers, including the Edgemont Community Council, attributed the disaster, which had put the town in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, to one man; Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner.
Feiner, a two-time failed congressional candidate, is a controversial figure even among Democrats. Ten years ago the New York Times had wondered what it was about him that seemed to “ignite in his fellow Democrats such a zealous desire to defeat him?”
Denied a seat in Congress, Paul Feiner had hung on to power in Greenburgh for decades, despite widespread resentment, and formed alliances with the extreme political left.
It is these alliances that are now coming back to haunt him.
Paul Feiner claimed that he was not “anti-Israel,” but argued that WESPAC, one of the radical groups sponsoring the hatefest, “does some great things on social justice issues.”
When WESPAC (Westchester People's Action Coalition) had brought the “Made in Palestine” exhibit glorifying terrorism against Jews to the Westchester County Center, other Democrats had denounced it as a “propaganda show for assassins” that demonstrated “anti-American, anti-Israel, and anti-Jewish hatred, as well as tributes to terrorists.” Exhibits had included the Hamas symbol and a homage to “the first 13 Palestinian ‘martyrs.’” But other Democrats still remained in thrall to WESPAC’s hatred.
Three years ago, Paul Feiner had appeared at an event against “Islamophobia” organized by Priscilla Read, the coordinator of the local JVP group. While Feiner claims not to support the hate group’s agenda, he had appeared at an event organized by its militantly anti-Israel coordinator.
But Priscilla Read wasn’t the most troubling figure at the event.
Front and center was the former Chair of the WESPAC board, Khusro Elley and a member of the Westchester Coalition Against Islamophobia. Elley had become famous as a key figure in the BCCI scandal, which Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau had described as “the largest bank fraud in world financial history.”
BCCI had been informally known by law enforcement as the "Bank of Crooks and Criminals”. BCCI had been founded by Agha Hasan Abedi to “fight the evil influence of the West”. Its account holders had included Osama bin Laden. Abedi also wanted BCCI to "fight the evil influence of the Zionists". Abedi had funded the Carter Center, but the Abu Nidal terrorists who had targeted synagogues, Jewish teens and the Goldenberg restaurant in Paris also had their BCCI account.
Abedi had used Khusro Elley to pass along orders. BCCI is long gone, but Elley has remained active.
In ’09, Khusro Elley appeared at a WESPAC protest against Israel’s self-defense in the face of Hamas terror. Elley bragged of getting a passerby to concede “that it was not all the fault of Hamas.”
On his blog, Elley ranted that the Jews control America. “No one can explain to me how a great nation like the US allows itself to be dictated by a few million Jews,” he wrote. The United States “is captive to a minority with money.”
The former chairman of WESPAC’s troubling views didn’t stop with anti-Semitism.
He contended that, “The Muslims can certainly take the credit for stopping the American Empire in its tracks by holding them to a stalemate in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Praising the Muslim Brotherhood leader who helped inspire Al Qaeda, Elley wrote, “Syed Qutub is a man demonized by the West but his book Social Justice in Islam should be required reading for all Muslims.”
This is the same book in which Qutb writes approvingly of Muslim "plunder, which consists of everything possessed by an unbeliever who has been killed by a Muslim". Qutb accused the Jews of monopolizing medicine and plotting to collect all the money in “the great usurious Jewish financial institutions.”
Qutb is better known for "Our Struggle with the Jews" in which he accused the Jews of inventing sex and materialism and blamed them for the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
Hitler, according to Qutb, had been Allah's instrument for punishing the Jews.
Khusro Elley’s support for terrorism even appeared directly on the WESPAC site where he is quoted as saying that, “The Lashkae Tayyaba and the Jaishi Mohammadi are people trained and bred by the Pakistan Army as freedom fighters to support the struggle of the Kashmiri people against the brutal suppression of their people by a 500,000 strong Indian Army.”
Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terror group funded by Bin Laden, was responsible for training the terrorists that carried out the Mumbai Massacre, which included the brutal murder of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his pregnant wife, Rivka. The dead Jews had been tortured by Khusro Elley’s “freedom fighters.”
Khusro Elley is a member of the Westchester Coalition Against Islamophobia. But the Coalition’s main mission seems to be attacking the Jewish State. Also listed in the Coalition is Priscilla Read of JVP. And Feiner had initially decided to allow the Coalition to use the Town Hall for yet another event featuring opponents of Israel while preventing a pro-Israel group from holding its own event.
After the Edgemont Community Council warned that Paul Feiner’s actions might be a potential violation of the First Amendment, a controversial upcoming event by the Westchester Coalition Against Islamophobia has been moved out of Town Hall. This event was set to feature Bina Ahmad who had appeared at an event showcasing the "art" of the head of Islamic Jihad in the US, an aspiring subway bomber, the American Taliban and a terrorist who threatened to murder the South Park creators for almost showing Mohammed in an episode of the series.
Bina Ahmad has described Israel as an “Apartheid state.” She was a vocal defender of Shahid Alam who had written that, “On September 11, 2001, nineteen Arab hijackers too demonstrated their willingness to die - and to kill - for their dream. They died so that their people might live, free and in dignity.”
Alan Levine, another of the WCAI panelists, is a JVP member who has attacked mainstream Jewish organizations as “Islamophobic” and promoted a boycott of Israel. Levine is a co-founder of Jews Against Islamophobia; an organization which gained notoriety when its phony protest against the 9/11 Museum was exposed in viral photos showing Muslim women in Hijabs holding up signs claiming to be, “Jews Against Islamophobia.”
With two panelists linked to JVP, the latest event titled “Free Speech/Hate Speech” appeared to be yet another production of the JVP hate group and its allies. Responding to growing community outrage, Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner announced that the next WESPAC hatefest would be moved out of Town Hall.
This may mean that Greenburgh residents will no longer be forced to foot the bill for bomb-sniffing dogs and metal detectors because of WESPAC. But Feiner has made it clear that he continues to support WESPAC and that leaves Greenburgh at risk of future disruptions caused by the hate group.
The effective response by members of the Jewish community and in particular, the Jewish Rapid Response Coalition, shows how important it is to stand up to anti-Semitism. While major Jewish organizations were willing to let the hate continue, committed activists fought the good fight and won.
The JRRC has said that it will remain vigilant over the abuse of town facilities by WESPAC and its allies to spread anti-Jewish hate. And Greenburgh residents will have to decide if the price of Paul Feiner’s extremist political allies is too much for their bank accounts and their souls.