Newsletter #44 – Nashville’s Jews and Muslim Brotherhood affiliates

Previous newsletters have addressed how Governor Haslam, Commissioner Gibbons and TN DHS Regional Advisor James Cotter have helped legitimize the TN American Muslim Advisory Council (AMAC) which functions to actualize the Muslim Brotherhood strategy in Tennessee.  The Haslam administration has been joined in their efforts by The Tennessean.

Equally acquiescent in advancing the Islamist agenda is the Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee (Jewish Federation), its Jewish Community Relations Committee (JCRC), and the religious and lay leadership of the Nashville Jewish community.  (The Methodists in the Nashville area, also very active in supporting Muslim Brotherhood affiliate activity, especially dawah in public schools, will be addressed in a future newsletter).

The JCRC is described on the Jewish Federation website as the “central public affairs arm of the Jewish Federation of Nashville.” The JCRC has paid staff assigned by the Jewish Federation but the JCRC’s board is composed of and chaired by community volunteers.  Ms. Judith Saks, recently retired Director of the JCRC, can be seen in the “Losing Our Sons” video. The JCRC’s current chairman is Nashville lawyer, Mr. Irwin Venick.  The immediate past chairman is Mr. Avi Poster.

On August 22, 2012, a letter to Governor Haslam signed by Mr. Venick, and Ms. Saks, along with Jewish Federation Executive Director Mark Freedman and Board President Martin Ted Mayden, appeared in The Tennessean.  The letter applauded the appointment of Shariah finance facilitator, Samar Ali to the Department of Economic and Community Development.

Rabbi Kaliel Rose has also been active in helping the Muslim Brotherhood plan take root in Nashville. In March 2011, the TN Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC)’s lobbyist Remziya Suleyman organized opposition to the anti-terrorism bill. (see Newsletter #2). The “Muslim Rapid Response Team” and CAIR responded to her call, as did Rabbi Rose who likened the pending anti-terrorism bill as being similar to the type of laws passed by the Nazis.  His speech can be viewed in the ““Losing Our Sons” video.

The ““Losing Our Community” YouTube video trailer which preceded the full “Losing Our Sons” documentary, also documents Rabbi Rose’s engagement with The Olive Tree Education organization in the form of interfaith dialogue.  Becoming even further involved with interfaith dialogue, Rabbi Rose sent his synagogue’s religious school students to visit the Islamic Center of Nashville Muslim Brotherhood mosque.  Olive Tree Education was started in 1999 by Awadh Binhazim, whose associations with CAIR and the Islamic Center of Nashville are detailed in Newsletter #11.  Coincidentally, the Olive Tree website was taken down after the release of the “Losing Our Sons” documentary.

Olive Tree Education’s engagement with the Nashville Jewish community can be dated as early as 2008.  The “Losing Our Community” video documents that Rabbis Phil and Laurie Rice of Temple Micah in  Nashville, brought Olive Tree Education leaders including its outreach director (whose website at the time promoted Anwar al-Awlaki’s teachings) to speak to the Temple’s students.

The Wayback site shows that former JCRC chairman Avi Poster has been a member of TIRRC’s Board of Directors since at least 2009 and remains listed on its Board today.  He is identified on the TIRRC Board as “Community Relations Committee, Jewish Federation of Nashville”.  Currently TIRRC’s board also includes the co-chairs of the Governor-approved TN American Muslim Advisory Council – Daoud Abudiab and Zulfat Suara.

On July 13, 2011, the first Nashville “Family of Abraham” event was held at the University School of Nashville.  A large host committee included Avi Poster and Irwin Venick and featured Mark Pelavin from the Reform Judaism Religious Action Center.  It was reported by an attendee that Mr. Venick spoke against the anti-terrorism bill.  Mr. Venick is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Temple Ohabai Shalom in Nashville.

On November 17, 2011, another Nashville “Family of Abraham” event was held at the West End United Methodist Church, but this time featuring Muslim Brotherhood’s ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) National Director, Office of Interfaith and Community Alliances, Sayyid Syeed (see Newsletter #40).

More recently, the Rabbis at Mr. Venick’s temple, have become more involved in working with Muslim Brotherhood affiliate organizations and helping to legitimate their strategy and message.  On August 24, 2012, Temple Ohabai Shalom’s Rabbi Shana Mackler was part of the interfaith panel hosted by Lipscomb University which featured the Islamic Network Group presentation on women’s rights and Shariah. (See earlier post “Newsflash, AMAC’s Islamic Speakers Bureau”).  The host committee again included representatives from Nashville’s clergy, the Jewish Federation and JCRC – Irwin Venick, Avi Poster, Rabbi Rose, Rabbi Rice and Judith Saks.

On Friday, September 7, 2012, Temple Ohabai Shalom’s senior Rabbi Mark Schiftan led an interfaith service to celebrate a Habitat for Humanity “Unity Build”.  Imam Mohammed Ahmed from the Muslim Brotherhood Islamic Center of Nashville mosque, led the congregants in the prayer for peace.  (See also Newsletter #14 regarding Kamel Daouk quoted in attached article).

Given the recent news from Egypt it does seem ironic.

Why have the Jewish Federation, the JCRC and the Nashville rabbis legitimized the actualization of the Muslim Brotherhood strategy in Tennessee?

What’s to be gained….or lost?


Special note:  once research is completed, a special newsletter will be forthcoming regarding a wire transfer of funds from a major Middle East bank in Jordan to an entity in the U.S. – stay tuned.