Who is David Yerushalmi?
David Yerushalmi is an attorney who the Southern Poverty Law Center has described as a “key figure in the U.S. anti-Muslim hate movement” and an “anti-Muslim ideologue.” Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative described Yerushalmi as “an advocate for the criminalization of adherence to sharia and Islam.”
Yerushalmi is general counsel for the Center for Security Policy (CSP) and is the co-founder of the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC), two prominent anti-Muslim organizations.
A 2022 CAIR report detailing nearly $106 million of philanthropic funding into anti-Muslim groups shows that philanthropic organizations the CSP and AFLC received more than $2,700,000 collectively in grants between 2017 and 2019.
Yerushalmi has a prolific repertoire of Islamophobic statements. In one instance, Yerushalmi has claimed that “jihadism is, in fact, traditional Islam.”
In 2010, Yerushalmi proposed through his organization that Congress should go to war against “the Muslim Nation or Umma,” that the US government should “declare that all non-US citizen Muslims are Alien Enemies under Chapter 3 of Title 50 of the US Code and shall be subject to immediate deportation,” and that “No Muslim shall be granted an entry visa into the United States of America.” Yerushalmi has additionally proposed that those who are identified as having ‘adhered to Shariah law’ should be sentenced to twenty years in prison.
Yerushalmi co-authored a report on “Sharia and Violence in American Mosques,” which was published by Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum. The report alleged that the length of a Muslim prayer leader’s beard and the choice of which arm to wear a watch were indicators of immanent violent extremism.
Yerushalmi acts as a leading voice of the notion that Islam is a political-ideological movement which seeks to undermine, subvert, and destroy ‘Western society.’
In 2006, Yerushalmi declared that “Muslim civilization is at war with Judeo-Christian civilization” and that “Islam deems it a religious duty to destroy the West.” The Southern Poverty Law Center reported that Yerushalmi proposed the United States should consider deporting ‘Muslims and other Non-Western, Non-Christian’ people to protect its ‘[Judeo-Christian] national character.’
Yerushalmi co-founded the American Freedom Law Center, an anti-Muslim law firm labeled as a ‘hate group’ by the SLPC that acts as the Islamophobia Network’s legal counsel.
According to the Bridge Initiative, Yerushalmi’s AFLC has “defended numerous anti-Muslim clients in cases involving transportation advertisement, an anti-mosque case, two “Muslim-free” gun ranges, a restaurant and [fought against] “sharia compliant” insurance.”
In August 2017, the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) submitted an amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, lending its support to President Trump’s Muslim Ban. Yerushalmi asserted that “the travel ban did not go far enough.”
In 2016, while representing a coffee shop accused of discriminating against Muslim women, Yeushalmi stated that Muslim-American advocacy groups had been utilizing “anti-discrimination laws not for equal protection, but to attain special protection and rights for sharia-adherent Muslims who reject America and the Judeo-Christian values it stands for.”
Yerushalmi is also a key figure in Center for Security Policy’s “Team B,” and co-authored the Center’s “Shariah: The Threat To America.” The report asserts that the U.S. legal system is being infiltrated by those seeking to ‘establish sharia law,’ deems Islam as “totalitarian in character, incompatible with our Constitution, and a threat to freedom here and around the world.” The report alleges that “Muslims are obligated to conquer the West and replace its governments with an Islamic theocracy.”
As profiled by The New York Times, Yerushalmi has “come to exercise a striking influence over American public discourse about Shariah,” and one of the effects of his ‘anti-Shariah movement’ has been “the spread of an alarmist message about Islam — the same kind of rhetoric that appears to have influenced Anders Behring Breivik,” the perpetrator of the 2011 Norway terrorist attacks.
Yerushalmi and AFLC enjoy a close relationship with Gaffney and his anti-Muslim Center for Security Policy. CSP President Gaffney and CSP fellow Joseph Schmitz both served on AFLC advisory board, while Yerushalmi served as General Counsel to the Center for Security Policy.
AFLC submitted the amicus curiae brief on Trump’s Muslim ban on behalf of Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy amongst others. In addition, AFLC cited works published by Daniel Pipes’ Middle East Forum in its amicus curiae brief.
Yerushalmi created a legislative template for state legislatures across the United States to introduce anti-Sharia bills called American Laws for American Courts (ALAC). ALAC received funding from Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy.
According to a report published by Haas Institute at the University of California Berkeley, Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy provided $153,000 to Yerushalmi as “consulting fees.” From 2010 to 2016, Haas Institute reported 194 anti-Sharia bills were introduced in 39 state legislatures, of which 18 bills were enacted into law.