Archive for September, 2010

Why US Muslims feel threatened

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

News item:

NEW YORK — A proposed Islamic center near ground zero is slowly being embraced by some Muslims who initially were indifferent about the plan, partly in response to a sense that their faith is under attack.

A summit of U.S. Muslim organizations is scheduled to begin Sunday in New York City to address both the project and a rise in anti-Muslim sentiments and rhetoric that has accompanied the nationwide debate over the project.

It has yet to be seen whether the groups will emerge with a firm stand on the proposed community center, dubbed Park51. The primary purpose of the meeting is to talk about ways to combat religious bigotry.

But Shaik Ubaid of the Islamic Leadership Council of Metropolitan New York, one of the groups organizing the gathering, said he has a growing sense that some American Muslims who initially had trepidation are now throwing their support behind the plan.

“Once it became a rallying cry for extremists, we had no choice but to stand with Feisal (Abdul) Rauf,” he said, referring to the New York City imam who has been leading the drive for the center.

Shaik Ubaid, you have earned one of my coveted FresnoZionism F’s in logic.

If Stalin opposes Hitler, should I be pro-Nazi? Speaking of Hitler, if he had been a vegetarian (actually he wasn’t), should I therefore become a meat-eater? If Terry Jones burns Qurans in Florida, do we need to have a mosque near Ground Zero?

It’s telling that Muslims say that “their faith is under attack.” Especially since the large immigration of Eastern European Jews in the beginning of the 20th Century, US Jews have dealt with antisemitic bias and sometimes violence — to a far greater extent than Muslims — but I can’t think of a case in which they have expressed themselves by saying ‘Judaism is under attack’.

Keep in mind also that there are 1.4 billion Muslims in the world (22% of the population), and the number is rapidly growing. Islam is projected to overtake Christianity as the majority religion on earth later in this century.  One would think that Jews (0.2%)  would be more likely to feel that their faith was besieged, especially in light of the massive campaign of defamation being waged against the world’s only Jewish state.

I think the reason they don’t is because the Jews have acclimated to being a minority everywhere in the Diaspora. They find this an acceptable condition, insofar as they are not persecuted. Post-Biblical Jewish writings, starting with the Talmud, are all about living as a minority in foreign lands. They see Judaism as part of Jews, something that can’t be taken away from them (as the kol nidre prayer on the eve of Yom Kippur makes clear) even under duress.

Islam, on the other hand, is a religion which seeks political power and is unsatisfied unless lands where Muslims live are ruled by a Muslim ruler (and for Islamists, a regime compliant with sharia). This explains the worldwide Muslim obsession with removing the ‘Jewish cancer’ from the heart of dar al Islam, which (as I mentioned yesterday) is quite irrational from a Western point of view.

Islam is a religious faith, but it is also in essence a political ideology — something entirely foreign to Diaspora Jewry, which finds safety in accepting the prevailing regimes and ideologies.

So anything which works against Muslim political power or the symbols thereof — such as a mosque built in the heart of America’s power, America’s Jerusalem, New York City — is viewed as an attack on Islam itself.

This also makes clear why any criticism of Islam or Muslim behavior engenders such a hostile response: Muslims expect that Muslims should rule, not be ruled, and criticism represents chutzpah — how dare those whose place it is to be subjects speak thus to those who should be rulers?

Another corollary is that Muslims must never compromise. Who ever heard of a ruler giving in to the ruled? And whoever heard of democracy, especially when some citizens can be infidels!

I said that this is essential to Islam, and it is certainly inherent in Islam today, as it developed in the autocratic cultures of the Middle East. Could there be an Islam without it?

I don’t know, but today’s Islamic politics are directly opposed to the ideals of the American democratic republic as constituted by the Founding Fathers and accepted by almost all Americans today — and if American Muslims don’t get this, the relationship is going to get worse, not better.

Technorati Tags: ,

CAIR appreciates Helen Thomas

Saturday, September 18th, 2010

News item:

The longtime White House correspondent who resigned from Hearst newspaper in June in the wake of comments she made about Israel will receive a lifetime achievement award from the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

CAIR is honoring Thomas, who is of Lebanese descent and now 90 years old, at its Leadership Conference and 16th Annual Fundraising Banquet on Oct. 9 in Arlington, Va. Speakers will also include Oxford Islamic studies scholar Tariq Ramadan.

Thomas started at the White House as a reporter during the Kennedy administration. In a video interview captured at a White House Jewish heritage event for that spread quickly across the Internet, Thomas advised Israeli Jews to get the hell out of Palestine and go home to Poland, Germany, America and everywhere else.

One wonders if her long career would have earned her an award if she hadn’t ended it the way she did?

The worldwide Muslim obsession with Israel is sort of deranged. Aren’t issues like Iran’s program to subsume the whole Middle East under a Shia caliphate more important to the average Muslim than a tiny Jewish state, one in which Arabs have it better — both economically and politically — than anywhere else in the region?

If Israel bombs Iran’s nuclear weapons factories, will CAIR give the IDF an award? They should.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Mirror-imaging at Ground Zero and elsewhere

Friday, September 17th, 2010
Location of the mosque or 'community center'

Location of the mosque or 'community center'

I see that Rabbi Yoffie of the Union for Reform Judaism has commented yet again about why Jews should support the Ground Zero mosque (if you’re sick of hearing about the mosque, stick around — I’m going to make a more general point). What’s interesting is that while his arguments, good or bad, are at least relevant from a Western perspective, they have little or no connection to the motivation behind the project. In his 2300-word essay on the subject, he leaves out just about everything that is important to Muslims.

I recently heard the propensity of Westerners to assume that their interlocutors in the Muslim world think like they do called ‘mirror-imaging’. And this is what I think Rabbi Yoffie does.

It doesn’t matter whether it is a community center or a mosque or whether it will have a swimming pool. It doesn’t matter if it’s two blocks from Ground Zero or ten blocks, as long as it is presented as being at Ground Zero. Every Muslim in the world knows that Muslims struck at America in the name of Islam on 9/11, inflicted a grievous wound, and now America can’t stop them from building a monument to celebrate that. That is probably 90% of the whole story.

To Americans, a building is a building.  But Muslims know enough of their history to understand the significance of a mosque built at a conquered people’s holy site (in case you don’t, they made it easy to make the connection by calling it ‘Cordoba house‘ at first).

In Tehran, Riyadh or Gaza City what gets built is determined by who wants to build it, not constitutional guarantees. If there’s a conflict, ethnic, family or power relationships resolve it. Of course Christians or Jews need not apply — a new church going up in Gaza would mean that Hamas wasn’t in control.

Note that in these places, the person or group on the losing side may be very unhappy to lose. But that doesn’t mean that they admire the way we do things in America — it just means that they would prefer to be on top.

So if that mosque or whatever it is gets built the conclusion will not be that Muslims should be grateful for American freedom and largeness of spirit. It will be that either Barack Obama is on their side or he’s a weakling. And either of these will imply that they should push harder to get what they want (like, for example, the US to abandon Israel, to allow Iran to get nuclear weapons, etc).

Here are some more concepts that are seen very differently here and in the Middle East:

Compromise: if a union official ends a strike by accepting a smaller wage increase than originally demanded, Americans might praise him for being willing to compromise, to sacrifice for the general good. Arabs or Iranians would assume that he didn’t have the power to get what he wanted.

Universal rights: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. opposed segregation because he believed in equal rights for all racial and ethnic groups. In Baghdad, it would be assumed that he was interested in more power and advantages for African-Americans. In the Muslim world, all politics is based on clan, ethnicity or religion.

Negotiation (Harold Rhode explains this here in relation to Iran): in the West negotiation can be a process aimed at arriving at a win-win situation. In Iran, you don’t negotiate unless you have the power to guarantee that you will win. Rhode says,

In politics, Iranians negotiate only after defeating their enemies. During these negotiations, the victor magnanimously dictates to the vanquished how things will be conducted thereafter. Signaling a desire to talk before being victorious is, in Iranian eyes, a sign of weakness or lack of will to win.

Sound familiar? Substitute ‘Palestinians’ for ‘Iranians’ and you won’t be wrong.

Leadership goals: a Westerner would think that the leader of a country like Syria, for example, would want to improve overall economic conditions in his country. Nope — he is interested in staying in power and improving the economic circumstances of his family or clan. He has absolutely no feeling of obligation to the people as a whole. Too harsh? Look at the behavior of the Assads, the Sauds, etc.

Values: do you think the PLO/Fatah wants a peaceful, prosperous sovereign state, the way Israel does? Maybe someday, but not until every square centimeter of land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean is in their hands, and every one of the hated nakba-guilty Zionists is dead or subjugated.

Democracy: yeah, right.

Until we stop mirror-imaging we will have a hard time understanding why we need to oppose the mosque, why the Israeli-Palestinian ‘peace process’ never seems to get off the ground, and why the Obama Administration policy of engagement with the Muslim world has so resoundingly failed to produce positive results.

Why we need to oppose the Ground Zero mosque

Why we need to oppose the Ground Zero mosque

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

An open letter to Dan Yaseen

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

So, you are probably asking, who the hell is Dan Yaseen?

He’s the Vice President of our local “antiwar and social justice” organization, called ‘Peace Fresno‘. I’ve met him and he seems to be a nice guy.

Dear Dan,

Yesterday I listened to your program on KFCF, “Speaking Truth to Empire,” on which you interviewed Ali Abunimah. I tuned in late, unfortunately, so I didn’t hear the whole program. But the part I heard was all about Israel.

I heard you ask him friendly questions to elicit his opinion on this subject. And I heard him, in his polished way, spew a stream of lies. I heard him assassinate the character of a whole nation. I heard him implicitly advocate genocide — yes, you read me right, because this is what his support for Hamas means in practice.

I didn’t hear you disagree with a word of it.

Peace Fresno is supposedly against war. So how come you are on the side of those who have brought almost continuous war to the Middle East since Israel was founded (actually, since before that, because those same forces were killing Jews who wanted to live in the region since about 1920)?

Peace Fresno is supposedly against colonialism and imperialism. So how come you are against the people who actually kicked the British out of Palestine? How come you support Iran, the real imperialist in today’s Middle East?

Peace Fresno supposedly abhors war crimes. So how come you support Hizballah and Syria, who have tens of thousands of missiles — some with chemical warheads — aimed at Israel’s towns and cities? Or Hamas, which randomly shoots mortars and rockets at Israeli towns, deliberately launches rockets from locations near schools and stores them in mosques, and commits drive-by murders of pregnant women?

Peace Fresno supposedly hates racism and apartheid. So how come you are on the side of the racist, apartheid dictatorships of the Middle East?

Peace Fresno is supposedly opposed to ethnic cleansing. You are very concerned about Arab refugees. So how come you didn’t seem to notice that in 1948 the Jordanian Army forcibly removed every last Jew from Judea/Samaria and East Jerusalem? Or the hundreds of thousands of Jews forced to leave the Arab world after 1948? How come you approve of the Arab demand today that a ‘peace’ agreement must include the evacuation of every last Jew east of the 1949 armistice line?

“Israel just has to evacuate the territories and there will be peace” you’ll say. Really? Read the Hamas Covenant or even the PLO/Fatah platform (an old version? — the latest one, accepted at the Fatah General Congress in 2009 explicitly incorporates it). Think about the meaning of ‘racism’ and ‘genocide’ when you read these documents. Pay attention, too, to what happened when Israel evacuated Gaza.

Frankly, the local ‘peace and justice’ movement, including Peace Fresno, WILPF, numerous other groups, coalitions, cooperatives, etc. — and absolutely not excluding the KFCF radio station, which adds its own poison to a schedule already dripping with venom from KPFA, Berkeley — has bought into an ideology of hate, an ideology exemplified by its pantheon, including the Nazi Mufti al-Husseini, the Original Terrorist Yasser Arafat, and minor deities like the child-killers Dalal Mughrabi and Samir Kuntar, or perhaps Amna Muna.

How wrong can you people be? Why do you believe without question propagandists like Abunimah; the mentally deranged, like Noam Chomsky or Norman Finkelstein; or the corrupt, like Human Rights Watch?

Think about it, Dan. Is this what the antiwar and social justice movement should be about?

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Restating the obvious

Wednesday, September 15th, 2010

Every once in a while, I’m reminded that it’s necessary to restate some things that I think are obvious, because they are clearly not obvious to everyone. I had a conversation the other day with someone who said something like this:

Why don’t you just give the Palestinians what they want? Israel is a military and economic superpower and the powerless Palestinians have been kicked around for years. Remove the settlements and let them have their state in the ‘West Bank’. That will take the wind out of the sails of the terrorists.

My goodness…where can I start?

Let’s take some of my friends’ explicit statements and implicit assumptions one at a time.

Israel is a superpower. It’s true that Israel has the most powerful military force in the Middle East. But there are several reasons that this is less important than it looks. First of all, there are severe constraints on Israel’s use of this power. Almost every war or operation undertaken by Israel since its beginning has been terminated by an imposed cease-fire, sometimes to Israel’s great disadvantage. Success in war usually means not being destroyed, rather than changing the overall situation in a permanent way. The withdrawal from the Sinai in 1956, the escape of Yasser Arafat and his men in 1982, and the toothless UN resolution that ended the second Lebanon war in 2006 are a few examples among many.

Another problem is Israel’s vulnerability. Tiny, with little or no strategic depth, with all of its population centers in easy rocket range of its enemies, Israel can’t afford to lose battles and can’t hold out in a long conflict without outside help. Israel is presently almost surrounded by hostile entities, with tens of thousands of short and long-range missiles aimed at it from Lebanon, Syria and Gaza.

The conflict is with the Palestinians. The conflict is only partly with the Palestinians. The entire Arab world — and now Iran — sees Israel as an alien body in a Muslim Middle East. Even those countries supposedly at ‘peace’ continue to educate their youth to yearn for the day that Israel can be eliminated. Saudi Arabia has historically employed its economic and political muscle first to try to prevent the creation of Israel and then to weaken it and crush it. Iran threatens it with nuclear weapons and supports nasty proxy armies on its northern border and in Gaza. The Arabs and Iran support and encourage Palestinian terrorists to attack Jewish targets. It’s not incorrect to say that the Palestinian Arabs are really just the point of the spear.

The Palestinians want something Israel can give them. The PLO/Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority does not want a state in Judea/Samaria that will live at peace alongside Israel. They want a combination of things that include a complete Israeli withdrawal to the 1949 armistice line including all of East Jerusalem, they want the right to militarize their state, and a ‘right of return’ for millions of Arabs who claim ‘refugee status’ into Israel. Even if they get these things — which would involve uprooting hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes and the conversion of Israel into an Arab majority state — they are not prepared to give up their claim against all of Israel or admit that it belongs to the Jewish people.

It seems absurd when stated that way, but that’s the deal they are offering. Give us almost everything, and we will  … demand the rest. This doesn’t even mention the fact that Hamas, with a written program similar to Hitler’s, controls almost half of the Palestinian population and accepts no ‘solution’ except a genocidal one.

Terrorism would end if they had a state. Arab terrorism started when Jews came to the land of Israel, and has continued ever since. Offers of a Palestinian Arab state in (at least) 1937, 1947, 2000 and 2008 were rejected, usually with accompanying terrorism as punctuation. Terrorism clearly has nothing to do with the desire for a state or even the desire to end the ‘occupation’ of 1967 — the return of the Sinai to Egypt and Gaza to the Palestinian Arabs resulted in more, not less, terrorism.

The problem is not that the Palestinians need a state, it’s that the entire Muslim world can’t abide a Jewish one.

There is a solution, but the Obama Administration and the Europeans have it backwards. The solution cannot be imposed  on Israel because Israel isn’t the problem. It must be imposed on the Arabs and Iran:

Support for terrorist proxies and armed aggression against Israel must stop.

Support for Palestinian terrorist factions must stop.

Incitement of hatred against Jews and Israel — in the Muslim world and among the Palestinians — must stop.

The principle that Israel is the state of the Jewish people must be accepted by all parties as a prerequisite for any negotiation leading to a Palestinian state.

In today’s world, this probably won’t happen until Iran gets a new regime. If my friend is as concerned for the Palestinians as much as he says, perhaps he should be working on this.

Technorati Tags: , , ,