January 29, 2016 by Jacob Bender Sixty-two years ago, in the landmark case of Brown vs Board of Education, a unanimous Supreme Court of the United States ruled that state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students were unconstitutional. Separate educational facilities, the Court said, “were inherently unequal.” The ruling paved the… Read more…
by Jacob Bender When I was 12 years old, my parents took me to hear Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speak at an outdoor rally for civil rights in the Watts section of Los Angeles. We were some of the very few white folks in the crowd. I can still remember the eloquent words pouring… Read more…
Governor Tom Wolf signs “The Pledge to Combat Bigotry.” Marwan Kreidie (seated at right) and Jacob Bender (standing at right) were in attendance. By Jacob Bender CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director Last Wednesday, September 30, I travelled to Harrisburg with a group organized by the Arab American Institute (AAI) in Washington, DC and Marwan Kreidie, an AAI… Read more…
Trump’s remarks are a clarion call for the Muslim community to become involved in civic engagement and the political process; to make its voice known throughout the land by proclaiming: “America is our home, and Islam is our faith. We will not be silent nor disappear, neither today nor tomorrow.”
I was on vacation last week. My wife, daughter, and I spent the time in a beachfront hotel in Montauk, a lovely little village at the tip of Long Island. Vacations should be a welcome relief from the tensions of the world, but this year, the world found a way to make its pain known through the ubiquitous electronic devices that litter our contemporary environment.
I write about this, not only because it is the 70th Anniversary of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki bombings, but also because I believe the world continues to exist under the shadow of The Bomb. One Muslim nation, Pakistan, already has The Bomb, and the situation along the border with India remains extremely tense.
On the average of about once every two months, our office receives a “hate call.” These calls usually come in after office hours (as the caller clearly has no interest in dialoguing with us) and are left on our voice message system. The messages are often filled with obscenities, in addition to the usual delusional Islamophobic rants. On occasion, the messages include clear threats of violence, which we have duly reported to the police. CAIR chapters around the country report similar patterns of harassing and menacing phone calls.
We at CAIR-Philadelphia have watched the tragic events unfolding in our neighboring city of Baltimore these past days with trepidation and sadness, just as we previously witnessed the injustices committed by the police in Ferguson, Staten Island, Charlotte, and countless other cities across the nation. We should not delude ourselves: these killings of Black men are not the exception, they are symptomatic of the lack of due process by which African American communities are governed in this country.
On April 10th, 11th and 12th, I joined my fellow CAIR Executive Directors from over 25 CAIR chapters around the country, together with CAIR staff and Board Members, for CAIR’s National Board Meeting in Washington, DC. The Meeting was also an occasion to celebrate CAIR National’s 20th Anniversary.
This past Saturday, Feb. 21, marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X in Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom in the year 1965. I was a teenager when I first read “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” and I can still remember the emotional impact it had upon me as a white student involved in the Civil Rights Movement, as well as upon my political development. The book was my first real introduction to the religion of Islam, and led to my life-long dialogue with its faith and the Muslim community.