This is a time when most Muslims and definitely many many American Jews in the United States would prefer to think of themselves as fair and respectable citizens, rather than as partisan hatemongers or intolerant bigots. In the US, and especially in Detroit, â€œinterfaithâ€ groups abound; such cross-cultural icons as Ghalib Begg and Imam Abdullah El-Amin and Brenda Rosenburg, among many others, have worked assiduously to cross picket lines and work with people of faith from Islam, Judaism, Christianity and many other faiths–at such a time it is something of a body blow to see a bigoted and unfair anti-Muslim crusade launched from behind the doors of a synagogue, where all the ringleaders appear to have come from the same congregation and to have used that synagogue as a launching ground for their attempts to politicize and derail the legitimate growth of another community that apparently they would like to squelch.
And yet, that is what we see in the case of Eagle Elementary, which after being bought at its appraised price by the Islamic Cultural Association, the powerful kernel of the Muslim community in the Bloomfield area which has been the genesis of the Unity Center, of the Huda School, and Beverly Hills Academy, and which continues to grow.
Because of that continued growth the community decided to buy additional property, in this case a Farmington Hills school slated for demolition, Eagle Elementary. Through some effort the ICA was able to make an offer and after an appraisal the Farmington Hills School District accepted an offer for the appraised amount of apparently $1.1 million. Now this rattled the cages of some people. Yes, the very same people you are thinking of. One of the more recent manifestations of this disturbance was a meeting held by a newly formed â€œCare4Eagleâ€ group with the support of attorneys from the Thomas More Center, at Congregation Bâ€™nai Moshe in West Bloomfield, attended by 200, who discussed the progress of the work by attorneys to foil the sale.
Eugene Greenstein and Melvin Sternfeld, (part of the same congregation?) had filed a civil lawsuit against Farmington Public Schools in relation to the sale. Their lawsuit failed to go forward on the basis that the Plaintiffs had no standing to sue.
Sue Burstein-Kahn, the wife of Farmington school board member Murray Kahn, and Irving Ginsbert, Linda Stulburg and others, began Care4Eagle in order to prevent the sale to the Muslims. Now doesnâ€™t all of this amount to a pattern? Perhaps it is time to investigate Congregation Bâ€™nai Moshe in West Bloomfield on the basis of their incredible intolerance for Muslims? Does their persistent opposition on the basis of their intolerance for Islam amount to ethnic intimidation, which by the way is a crime in Michigan? Or perhaps the Congregation has ties to terrorism? The â€œThomas More Law Center,â€ an apparently (from the lawyers on its website) all-male bastion of Catholics and other â€œpro-lifeâ€ Christians wrote a letter on June 13, 2012, documenting their version of the facts leading up to the sale to the ICA, the previous year, alleging corruption because meetings concerning the sale to ICA were sometimes behind closed doors for the stated purpose of negotiation. The letter petulantly described the buying of another $1,000,000 allegedly less valuable property in Bloomfield Hills by a Catholic group that had been rebuffed by the school district. The letter alleged that many potential buyers had been discouraged from making offers.
The More letter also alleged that the appraised value of the property (from an appraisal conducted by an independent law firm, probably forced by its fiduciarity duties to uphold an even higher standard of integrity than the Thomas More Law Center) was much less than a 2008 appraisal for the same property.
The letter then documented donations by the exuberant Muslims to all of the school district leaders they could find in the wake of the sale.
The More Center letter (actually written by Moreâ€™s president and chief counsel Richard Thomson), demanded a grand jury investigation of the supposed corruption involved in the case.
Now, the only possible explanation for the More Center letter is that Richard Thomson hoped that by throwing together a house of cards of flimsy evidence, with choice words like â€œIslamic Cultural Associationâ€ and â€œhouse of worship,â€ he could be able to ignite a knee-jerk anti-Muslim reaction from a bigot such as himself, to derail a successful transaction by a vibrant Muslim community. But apparently Michiganâ€™s Attorney General Bill Schuette was not ready to accommodate such unfair dealings.
But on our own we should consider the facts Thomson alleges.
First, consider the closed meetings. After all the controversy surrounding Muslims around the country who have bought mosques (trust me, Iâ€™ve read many reports) isnâ€™t it wise for a public body selling property to a Muslim group to keep it quiet? And after all, negotiations are occurring–negotiations are not such a flimsy excuse to close your door and have negotiations!
Second, consider the donations. Of course they made donations. They wanted to help the people who had facilitated their deal despite all the virulent anti-Muslim rhetoric, sometimes veiled (like the Thomas More letter) and sometimes open. If Mr. Thomson had been on the receiving end of discrimination instead of the supply side, he might also appreciate the tremendous sense of relief from just being treated fairly for a change.
Third, consider the refusals. Probably the ICA also was refused. However perhaps this particular community is resilient and persistent, and perhaps that dogged persistence is what brought this perfectly legal, honorable, and ethical real estate transaction to closing.
Fourth, consider the property value. Never mind that, instead of considering the property value, consider what planet Richard Thomson has been living on since 2008, since apparently he is unaware of the crash in real estate values.
All this is yet another attempt by the brownshirts of the Tea Party, the crusaders of Thomas More, and their allies to foil the legitimate hard work of Muslims.