Category Archives: Uncategorized

What CUNY role model Linda Sarsour really stands for

The zealotry of über-progressive students turning against their progressive professors has occasionally attracted coverage by the mainstream media. The most recent example is the bullying of Evergreen State College biology professor Bret Weinstein, who recounts his ordeal in the Wall Street Journal under the grim title “The Campus Mob Came for Me—and You, Professor, Could Be Next.” But as James Kirchick showed in a recent article, some universities actually encourage and reward this kind of behavior.

The City University of New York (CUNY) is arguably going to do its part when it honors Linda Sarsour by hosting her as a speaker at the commencement ceremony of the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy on June 1. While Sarsour has been described as “an arsonist in our midst,” criticism of the decision to invite the controversial activist was firmly rejected by CUNY chancellor James B. Milliken, who wrote that Sarsour was chosen “because of her involvement in public health issues in New York City and her position as a leader on women’s issues, including her role as co-chair of the recent Women’s March in Washington.” The chancellor also highlighted that “Ms. Sarsour has been recognized by President Obama at the White House as a ‘Champion of Change’ and was recently named one of Time magazine’s 100 leaders and Fortune magazine’s 50 global leaders.”

In short, as far as CUNY is concerned, it is fully justified to ignore all criticism of Sarsour and to present her as a role model for the university’s graduates.

As Michael D. Cohen of the Simon Wiesenthal Center acknowledged when he recently denounced Sarsour as “an arsonist in our midst,” she is “a brilliant tactician who manipulates the media to gain attention and sympathy for her cause.” One might add that the media love to be manipulated by her, without asking tough questions about what exactly Sarsour’s “cause” is and how she pursues it.

During one of the recent controversies, Sarsour declared that she wants to be judged by her own words, but it is abundantly clear that she also wants people to ignore plenty of her own words that actually tell us a lot about Sarsour’s “cause” and her activism.

So let’s look at a small sample of those of Sarsour’s own words that are arguably very revealing, even though she will lash out at anybody who quotes them to her.

Indeed, Sarsour was recently recorded berating a student who asked her about her notorious tweet from 2011, when she declared that prominent women’s right activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali and strident Islam critic Brigitte Gabriel “don’t deserve to be women;” therefore, Sarsour wished she “could take their vaginas away.” If we take Sarsour’s response to the student who asked about this tweet seriously, White men (capital W, please!) have no business being disturbed by her vile outburst – an answer that reflects the divisive identity politics Sarsour often employs when it suits her, while calling for unity and solidarity when this seems more opportune.

But as the Dartmouth students who enthusiastically applauded Sarsour’s put-down of their impertinent White male fellow student illustrated, many people are all too willing to ignore an obscene six-year-old tweet posted when Sarsour was almost 31 – not, as she falsely claimed, in her twenties. Moreover, in spring 2011, Sarsour reportedly already served as director of the Arab American Association of New York; she was also about to be named “a fellow at the NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service Women of Color Policy Network” and boasted about her excellent access to the Obama administration.   

And soon enough, Sarsour would also boast about being victorious over Hirsi Ali. In fall 2012, Sarsour was still jealously wondering “What does Ayaan Hirsi Ali got that I ain’t got? Front page covers and shit. #MuslimRage;” but by the spring of 2014, Sarsour was able to celebrate a blow against her nemesis, and she jubilantly announced on Twitter: “Online activism WINS again. @BrandeisU does the right thing and rescinds honorary degree 2 hatemonger Ayaan Hirsi Ali;” she also added: “Hats off 2 @BrandeisU 4 rescinding honorary degree 2 Ayaan Hirsi Ali. U have restored integrity of your institution;” and she thanked the university’s president: “Thank you @PresidentFred for making the right choice today and rescinding honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. We are all very grateful.”

on AHA

Isn’t it deeply ironic that CUNY would so strongly defend its decision to honor Sarsour who celebrated so enthusiastically when she and other activists succeeded in denying a similar honor to Ayaan Hirsi Ali?

Sarsour’s “#MuslimRage” was apparently not diminished by the fact that Hirsi Ali established a foundation that has been working since 2007 “to end honor violence [including Female Genital Mutilation] that shames, hurts or kills thousands of women and girls in the US each year, and puts millions more at risk;” the foundation also promotes “the belief that there is no culture, tradition or religion that justifies violence against women and girls.”

But very different from Hirsi Ali, Sarsour is eager to defend the conservative traditions of Muslim societies, even when they are clearly harmful to women. Sarsour has asserted that “shariah law is reasonable,” ignoring the widespread and well-documented human rights abuses committed in Muslim majority states in the name of sharia. Sarsour has even gone so far as to praise Saudi Arabia – where women are completely dependent on the whims of their male guardians: “10 weeks of PAID maternity leave in Saudi Arabia. Yes PAID. And ur worrying about women driving. Puts us to shame.”

Since Sarsour often emphasizes her Palestinian Muslim identity, it is also interesting to note how Palestinians view sharia. As documented in a Pew survey from 2013, 89% of Palestinians want sharia law; 66% endorse the death penalty for Muslims who convert to another religion; 76% support mutilation as a punishment for theft, and a shocking 84% want adulterers stoned to death. The survey also shows that less than half (about 45%) of Palestinian Muslims reject so-called “honor killings” as never justified, and 87% insist that a wife must always obey her husband.

Given that CUNY has explicitly stated that they want to honor Sarsour as a “leader on women’s issues,” it is also noteworthy that she has repeatedly defended arranged marriages like her own, in which her parents married her off at the age of 17. In late 2007, Sarsour told Al Arabiya News: “Every year, we see more than a hundred arranged marriages in our community alone […] In our community […] you not only have to find a spouse who is Arab and Muslim; that person also needs to be Palestinian and from the same village as you.” According to the reporter, “Women like Linda accept being set-up because they don’t really believe in ‘love story weddings’.” And as Sarsour reportedly added to explain the benefits of arranged marriages: “If I fight with my husband, I can always run to my father because he is the one who chose him for me.”

But Sarsour has also defended the practice recently: in an interview with the Mecca Post on March 8, 2017, which begins with a related question, Sarsour answered by asserting: “I feel I have become mature much earlier in life than may be other sisters who are still in high school or in college.”

Well, maybe CUNY should start a “Sarsour Program for Arranged Marriages” to benefit female students in their last year of high school?

The Mecca Post interview with Sarsour includes also plenty of other interesting material. She dismisses her critics as “right wing supremacists” who “engaged in alternative facts and false accusations” and asserts that “there really is nothing that they said that really is true.” She also confidently claims Jesus was “a Palestinian Jewish refugee” who is “very co-essential to us Muslims” but misunderstood by many “who call themselves Christians.” She then proceeds to press Islam’s founder into the service of her agenda, breathlessly describing Muhammad as her “inspiration”:

“he was an activist he was a human rights activist, he stood up for the poor, he wanted to stand up against tyrants and oppressors, he loved animals he loved earth and taking care of the earth, he talked about environmental justice […] He talked about racial justice, and uplifting people regardless of what colour their skin was. […] I also think about Islamophobia now, the man who experienced the most Islamophobia they did not call it Islamophobia 1400 years ago was our beloved Prophet (SAW).”

One really is left to wonder if Sarsour is too naïve to realize that if she transforms Islam’s founder into a 21st century social justice warrior, she ultimately legitimizes those who employ the norms of our time to denounce him for his marriage to an underage girl (which was then common and unfortunately remains accepted in some countries); similarly, by the standards of our time, the supremely successful warlord, who founded not just a faith, but also an empire, committed numerous atrocities.

But when it comes to anything that has to do with Islam, Sarsour is an ardent advocate of double standards. She will denounce Hirsi Ali as a “hatemonger” while uncritically embracing a group like the Nation of Islam (NOI), which, according to the the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), “has maintained a consistent record of anti-Semitism and racism since its founding in the 1930s.” The ADL considers veteran NOI leader Louis Farrakhan as “the leading anti-Semite in America;” the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) provided a similarly unequivocal condemnation, denouncing “the deeply racist, anti-Semitic and anti-gay rhetoric” of Farrakhan and other NOI leaders, whose conduct “earned the NOI a prominent position in the ranks of organized hate.”

Yet, in 2012, Sarsour embraced the NOI as “an integral part” of “the history of Islam in America,” emphasizing that “Sunni, Shia, Sufi, Nation of Islam – we are #Muslim, we are all part of one ummah, one family. #Islam.” Two years later, Sarsour insisted that it was not possible to “learn or teach about the history of Islam in America without talking about the Nation of Islam (NOI).”

on Farrakhan Nov 2016

As I have recently documented, Sarsour joined two other leading activists at a major rally organized by Farrakhan and his associates in 2015, where she delivered a strident speech that echoed Farrakhan’s antisemitic efforts to blame Jews for problems and hardships experienced by African-Americans. Sarsour also seems to share some of Farrakhan’s bigoted views on the malignant Jewish influence in America, even though she often claims that she firmly opposes antisemitism. In this context it is important to realize that Sarsour apparently does not accept common definitions of antisemitism and has instead endorsed (#73) the truly Orwellian re-definition that veteran anti-Israel activist Ali Abunimah published in fall 2012, reflecting his preposterous view that Zionism is “one of the worst forms of anti-Semitism in existence today” and that support for Zionism “is not atonement for the Holocaust, but its continuation in spirit.”

Perhaps CUNY doesn’t care much about Sarsour’s pronounced hostility to the world’s only Jewish state, but one would think they should care about this scene which happened in New York and was witnessed by Michael D. Cohen of the Simon Wiesenthal Center:

“Last September, I stood along with many of my colleagues at a New York City Council Public Hearing on that body’s resolution to officially condemn the BDS movement — a hearing at which all those in favor, including myself, were shouted down as “Jewish pigs” and “Zionist filth” from provocateurs strategically placed in the audience. It was Linda Sarsour who was at the forefront — manipulating the camera shots and sound bites. It was Linda Sarsour who sat for hours listening with great satisfaction to the libelous rants and screamed obscenities alleging that Israelis murder Palestinian babies. It was Sarsour who nodded approvingly and congratulated individuals who were kicked out of the hearing room for being out of order, for walking in front of individuals providing testimony in support of the resolution, and for shouting down our supporters with anti-Semitic slurs — all in the name of protecting free speech.”

So much more material could be cited to show how little Sarsour deserves to be held up as a role model for graduates of a respected American university, but let me just conclude with this: when Sarsour addresses her audience at the commencement ceremony of the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy and says she is honored to do so, remember that she also recently said she was “honored” to share a stage with convicted terrorist murderer and confessed US immigration fraudster Rasmea Odeh.

***

A previous version of this post was first published at EoZ.

 

Linda Sarsour wants to make sharia kosher

“This term sharia is the Arabic translation of the Hebrew word halakhah.” Linda Sarsour

Once upon a time, when being a leftist and a feminist meant something very different than what it means today, I happily considered myself both. But when someone like Linda Sarsour is cheered as a leftist feminist icon, I can only feel politically homeless: I want no part of Sarsour’s left, and I most definitely don’t support the crowd assembled by the notorious Pamela Geller for a protest that the New York Times (NYT) was only too happy to cover – after all, it was a good opportunity to tell readers that Sarsour’s “critics are a strange mix, including right-leaning Jews and Zionists, commentators like Pamela Geller, and some members of the alt-right.” Newsweek readers were also informed that “Feminist activist Linda Sarsour has become one of the far right’s favorite targets.”

As it happens, the NYT and Newsweek are simply parroting what Sarsour has told her fans countless times. The most recent example is a Facebook post from May 25, where Sarsour also claims that her evil right-wing detractors are using her “as a symbol to silence the communities I come from.” She then goes on to assert:

“When they chant or say they are ‘Anti-sharia’ that means anti-Muslim – plain and simple. This term sharia is the Arabic translation of the Hebrew word halakhah. It’s a set of guidelines that Muslims and Jews follow respectively. ‘Banning sharia’ means infringing on the rights of Muslims to worship freely – let’s call it out for what it is.”

I’m quite sure Sarsour is intelligent enough to know exactly what she’s doing by equating Islamic sharia and Jewish halacha.  She knows full well that, no matter how benign her own personal interpretation of sharia may be, the application of sharia results in terrible oppression and gruesome human rights violations all over the Muslim world. And she knows full well how disingenuous it therefore is to claim – as she also did when she recently re-tweeted one of her fans – that “Sharia is to Muslims what Canon Law is to Catholics what Halakah Law is to Jews.” And yes, I responded with a really snarky tweet.

sharia like halakhah

I’m not religious myself and neither qualified nor inclined to defend any religious laws – indeed, for someone like me, who was a leftist and a feminists before Sarsour was even born, it’s inconceivable to do so. To be sure, by now I’ve learnt to accept that many people find meaning in following the religious laws of their faith to a greater or lesser degree, and obviously, religious rituals can offer a lot of consolation to believers when life brings sorrow and bereavement. But that is no reason to forget that Christianity and Islam also have a very long and bloody history of religious coercion. That Sarsour insists on defending sharia while completely ignoring the sadistic cruelty of traditional sharia punishments and the misery that continues to be inflicted, particularly on women, in the name of sharia is one of the major reasons why I find it so appalling to watch her being made into an icon of everything that is supposedly progressive, good and just.

So I completely agree with Emma-Kate Symons – who must be a dreadful right-winger, but was inexplicably and scandalously allowed to criticize Sarsour in the NYT 

“Linda Sarsour is a religiously conservative veiled Muslim woman, embracing a fundamentalist worldview requiring women to ‘modestly’ cover themselves, a view which has little to do with female equality and much more of a connection with the ideology of political Islam than feminism. Could we imagine a wig-wearing Orthodox woman emerging from a similar ‘purity’-focused culture predicated on sexual segregation and covering women, headlining such an event [as the Women’s March]? No, because she is rightly assumed to be intensely conservative, not progressive on issues surrounding women’s roles and their bodies.”

Symons seems unrepentant, judging from her response to the NYT’s recent effort to promote Sarsour as a rising progressive star whose only critics are contemptible right-wingers.

Symons vs SarsourSymons vs Sarsour2

It may well be that Sarsour would argue that all the Muslim judges who use Islamic law to justify the oppression of women, or sadistic punishments like public floggings and beheadings, have no clue about sharia. I would be most happy if Sarsour embarked on a tour of the Muslim world to enlighten these guys – indeed, I hereby pledge that I would generously donate to help make such a tour possible.

Let’s conclude with a horrifying thought experiment: imagine the world’s only Jewish state would apply halacha as sharia is applied in Muslim states like Saudi Arabia or the United Arab Emirates. Is there anyone who believes that in this case, Linda Sarsour wouldn’t be very very busy denouncing Jewish law as a terrible human rights disaster that must be fought tooth and nail?

Meet BDS fan Haj Amin al-Husseini – the ‘Hitler of the Holy Land’

Half a year ago, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) and the Harvard Law School Alliance for Israel held a conference entitled “War By Other Means – BDS, Israel and the Campus.” One of the speakers was Cornell Professor William Jacobson, whose presentation was on the history of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The presentation is now available at Legal Insurrection, and it is a must-read (or must-watch) because Jacobson shows that “BDS is a direct and provable continuation of the Arab anti-Jewish boycotts in the 1920s and 1930s and [the] subsequent Arab League Boycott, restructured through non-governmental entities to evade U.S. anti-boycott legislation and repackaged in the language of ‘social justice’ to appeal to Western liberals.”

When I read through Professor Jacobson’s presentation, I remembered that some time ago, I had come across an archived JTA article from September 24, 1929 that provides a perfect illustration of the conference theme that boycott campaigns should be understood as “war by other means.”

Published a month after the notorious Hebron massacre and the subsequent Arab violence, which left 133 Jews dead,  the article is entitled “‘My Hands Are Clean,’ Grand Mufti Asserts in Interview;” and as the title suggests, it describes an interview with Haj Amin al-Husseini, who had incited the violence with the pernicious (and still popular) libel that “the Zionists” were plotting to damage or destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque in order to rebuild the Jewish Temple.

Shortly after the bloodbath he had incited, the man who would eventually become known as “Hitler’s Mufti” felt rather confident that the Jews would soon be forced to leave British Mandate Palestine. He asserted (rightly) that “it is untrue that the world is siding with the Jews” and then proceeded to explain:

“We are … assured of the solidarity of the entire Moslem world and have actually offers of armies to help us if necessary. Help is unnecessary. We will win through an economic boycott. The boycott in Moslem countries against Jewish industries is tight and daily growing tighter, until the industries will be broken and English friends, moved by pity, will remove the last remaining Jews [from British Mandate Palestine] on their battleships. Today there’s not a Jewish factory working in Palestine … (which happened to be entirely untrue) [and] as Jewish industry depends on the good will of the surrounding Moslem countries, the factories may as well remain closed. The Moslems will not buy.”         

While the mufti’s hopes of driving out the Jews with a successful economic boycott didn’t work out in his lifetime, he would surely be pleased to know that there are still people who haven’t given up on his lofty goal; and he would surely be no less pleased to see that in forums like the UN, it remains indeed often “untrue that the world is siding with the Jews.”

The mufti also said some other things that you can read any day at Ali Abunimah’s Electronic Intifada and similar sites: he complained about “the aid of rich American Jews for the Palestine upbuilding” and claimed that this aid “made the Palestine Jews so arrogant, they thought they could start expelling is [us].” And just like Palestinian leaders nowadays, al-Husseini denied having incited the murderous violence.

Another remarkable parallel to today’s news is that al-Husseini was rumored to have become quite rich by misappropriating funds he had collected for repairs of the Dome of the Rock. The article’s description of him is intriguing:

“The Mufti spoke in French and granted the interview in the presence of Jamal Effendi Husseini in the palatial office buildings located in the galleries of the Mosque of Omar. The 31 year old Amin El Husseini, with blond beard, sparkling blue eyes, ingratiating smile and pleasant mundane manners, sat in silken robes on a luxurious divan and smoked cigarettes taken from a gold beaten box, holding a morning levee like a mediaeval Turkish Pasha. The hall and corridors were filled with servants, ushers and courtiers. When politely told that world opinion is holding him personally responsible and partially guilty for the savagery and unspeakable assaults, the Mufti smiled and with a sweeping gesture, showing delicate manicured hands, he declared: ‘My hands are clean, I declare before God.’”

As it happens, when I researched this post, I came across another fascinating article about al-Husseini from June 1948. At first, I was not sure if the site that featured it, i.e. Old Magazine Articles, could be trusted. The article is entitled “Hitler of the Holy Land” and the sub header describes the mufti as “a master of terrorism.” But I found out that a ’48 Magazine indeed existed – in fact, it was apparently a relatively expensive highbrow magazine – and the author of the article, David W.Nussbaum, wrote at least two (but likely four) other articles on the mufti elsewhere in the immediate postwar years. According to the information given about Nussbaum, he was a “former Washington correspondent of Life, magazine writer and Navy air veteran” who in early 1948 had “just returned from an extended survey of conditions in the Middle East.” His article on the “Hitler of the Holy Land” is absolutely fascinating (it can also be downloaded as a pdf if you click the blue button “Read article for free” just above the space for comments).

Hitler of the Holy Land

In the almost two decades that had passed since the 1929 interview, the mufti had apparently lost his “pleasant mundane manners;” Nussbaum described him as “a man who has spent a lifetime fleeing justice” and who, “in his struggle for power, counts no man as a friend.” In Nussbaum’s view, the mufti was a crucial and cunning leader who ensured that the Arab conflict with the Jews would not be settled peaceably. Reportedly, al-Husseini told him: “What you see unsheathed in Palestine is the sword of Islam. Whenever they are beset, the Arabs will inevitably unsheathe it.” Asked if the Arabs had enough arms and men to win a war, the mufti responded: “Consequences do not disturb the Arab as they do the Westerner. The Jews do not reckon with this factor. If he is attacked, the Arab fights back regardless of the consequences. The fighting in Palestine has been inevitable since the first Jew set foot there.”

But Nussbaum believed that it was the mufti who worked hard to make war “inevitable”:

“War in Palestine is the goal that the Mufti set himself in the summer of 1946 [when he fled France], and it is the goal that is now being achieved. […] While he tightened his grip on Palestine, the Mufti waged a shrewd campaign within the Arab states. In Egypt, he made effective use of the extremist right-wing Moslem Brotherhood, which, supported by students, staged well-timed demonstrations in Cairo, shouting for revenge against the Jews. Fire-breathing statements began filling the Lebanon papers. In the lobbies of the Arab League conferences, the Mufti hammered away at the idea of jihad – the holy war.”

So it seems Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas knew what he was doing when he repeatedly paid homage to al-Husseini, praising him for having “sponsored the struggle from the beginning.”

But importantly, the “struggle” al-Husseini “sponsored … from the beginning” was not really about Palestine, but rather about Arab-Muslim rule. When Nussbaum asked him if he was looking forward to “an early return to his homeland,” al-Husseini “ruminated for a few moments and then said, ‘Palestine is not my home; it is only one of them. Cairo is home and so is Syria. Whenever I am among my own people, I am home.’”

* * *

A version of this post was first published last Dezember at EoZ.

 

The depth of Arab misery has nothing to do with Israel

“Any Arab who can will be out of here.”

Several recent articles provide a wealth of data that indicate how truly miserable conditions in many Arab countries are, and how grim the outlook for much of the Arab world is — and no, it’s not Israel’s fault. The most shocking data are from Syria (though the situation in Yemen is probably similarly dire). A recent NYT article outlines the devastation wrought by five years of war in Syria:

“Let’s take a look at the numbers. (While the following statistics are estimates, they will, if anything, get worse with the continuing matrix of wars in Syria.) More than 80 percent of Syrians live below the poverty line. Nearly 70 percent of Syrians live in extreme poverty, meaning they cannot secure basic needs, according to a 2016 report. That number has most likely grown since then. The unemployment rate is close to 58 percent, with a significant number of those employed working as smugglers, fighters or elsewhere in the war economy. Life expectancy has dropped by 20 years since the beginning of the uprising in 2011. About half of children no longer attend school — a lost generation. The country has become a public health disaster. Diseases formerly under control, like typhoid, tuberculosis, Hepatitis A and cholera, are once again endemic. And polio — previously eradicated in Syria — has been reintroduced, probably by fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Upward of 500,000 are dead from the war, and an untold number of Syrians have died indirectly from the conflict […] With more than two million injured, about 11.5 percent of the prewar population have become casualties. And close to half the population of Syria is either internally or externally displaced. A 2015 survey conducted by the United Nations refugee agency looking at Syrian refugees in Greece found that a large number of adults — 86 percent — had secondary or university education. Most of them were under 35. If true, this indicates that Syria is losing the very people it will most need if there is to be any hope of rebuilding in the future.”

But the future also doesn’t look rosy for the rest of the Arab world. MEMRI recently summarized some of the relevant findings of the latest UN Arab Human Development Report (AHDR), which focuses on “challenges and opportunities facing youth in the Arab region.” Needless to say, the comprehensive UN report is carefully “balanced,” which is to say it tries hard to package all the bad news with some slightly better news or upbeat talk about opportunities that are waiting to be seized.

As the MEMRI summary notes:

“While we would have wished otherwise, in reviewing the report we find that the critics of the ‘Arab Spring’ were more realistic in their assessment of the events of 2011 than those who were inclined to see bright stars in the sky. […] Arab youth today remain mired in poverty; they are politically marginalized and voiceless, economically disenfranchised, and socially prone to radicalization and violence. Theirs is a fragile and often volatile existence.”

“The [UN] report highlights the fact that in the last decade the region has experienced ‘the most rapid increase in war and violent conflict’ compared with other regions of the world. The Arab world also has ‘the dubious distinction’ of comprising the largest number of failed states showcasing a high scale of ‘fragility and failure’ in addition to being the source of the largest number of refugees and displaced people. While the report would not predict the level of conflict in the region, it does project that number of people living in conflict areas will increase from 250 million in 2010 to over 305 million in 2020.”

If you check out the report itself, there are plenty of findings that indicate how dire the situation in many Arab countries is and how little chance there is for rapid improvement – indeed, further decline seems more likely:

“the region still scores lower than the world average on the HDI [Human Development Index] and already lags three of the world’s six regions, namely, East Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Central Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean. By the year 2050, the region is projected to rank fifth, only a little ahead of sub-Saharan Africa.”

“Evidence shows that the prospects of young people in the region are, now more than ever, jeopardized by poverty, economic stagnation, governance failure and exclusion, all compounded by the violence and fragility of the body politic.”

“Overall, the quality of education is poor. Standardized international tests in education such as the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Programme for International Student Assessment show Arab countries scoring well below the average.”

“The rise of women in Arab countries is inseparably and causally linked to the future human development of the Arab region. The pervasive disempowerment of women in Arab countries is grounded in cultural, social, economic and political factors. As the 2005 and 2009 AHDRs observed, the seeds of discrimination are embedded in cultural beliefs and traditions in childraising, education, religious structures, the media and family relations.”

Among the particularly noteworthy figures in the report is the following, which shows that the overwhelming majority of Arabs consider religion, i.e. mostly Islam, as “an important part” of their daily life:

Arab development religion

This is also an interesting finding in the context of the ongoing mass migration to very secular Europe – a migration that is most warmly welcomed by liberals who don’t think much of their own religious fellow citizens and look down on religious Americans. The importance of religion for Arabs is also noteworthy in the context of another finding in the UN report:

“It is mainly because of its high levels of social and religious intolerance that the region stands out among countries at similar levels of development around the world. Tolerance is a core value in pluralistic societies and a cornerstone of more democratic systems. […] This wide regional deficit and lack of progress on values of tolerance are worrying for the future of democracy in the region.”

While Israel has so far managed to remain “a villa in the jungle” – as Ehud Barak once put it famously – it is clearly bad news that the region looks set to remain mired in conflict and that so many fundamental factors are likely to impede social progress and economic development. A year ago, a still very relevant article in The New York Jewish Week outlined the resulting problems for Israel as explained by veteran political analyst Ehud Yaari. The article begins with an anecdote:

“Ehud Yaari characterizes his friend Bernard Lewis, the eminent scholar of the Middle East [who turned 100 last May], as possessing ‘this ability to see into the future.’ Over a recent dinner in Israel, Yaari asked Lewis what he thought the Middle East would look like in fifty years. Without hesitating, Lewis leaned over the table and said decisively, ‘Any Arab who can will be out of here.’”

Unfortunately, many of those who can’t escape the hopelessness of the Arab Middle East may end up fueling sectarian conflict and bloodshed. And for frustrated young Palestinians, it is obviously tempting to commit terror attacks. In a very interesting piece published in early January 2017, Yaari writes about Israel’s efforts to curb the wave of attacks that started in fall 2015, and it turns out that the motivations of the mostly young perpetrators clearly reflect the deep discontent and frustration as well as the religious fervor described in the UN report on the Arab world:

“most of the attackers came from the fringes of West Bank society: young people struggling with social marginalization, who had experienced repeated setbacks in their private lives or faced insurmountable personal or financial hardship. The collective profile of the assailants identified most as frustrated individuals who felt that their lives had reached a dead end, to the point that many sought salvation through martyrdom. Many of those captured during assaults told interrogators that they believed that death for the sake of jihad would reward them with the recognition they failed to obtain in life.”

Regarding the motivations of the surprisingly high number of female assailants, Yaari writes:

“Investigations showed that almost all of these women—including a 72-year-old grandmother from Hebron—were seeking to escape family hardships, such as pregnancies out of wedlock, arranged marriages, violence within the family, and so forth. Quite often it seemed that these women were seeking death or arrest in order to break away from their environment. In more than one instance, a young woman would wave a kitchen knife or scissors far from the Israeli soldiers, not posing any real threat, knowing that she would be immediately taken into custody.”

For some more on Palestinian frustration and discontent, you can check out this recent lament on “A Life of Degradation and Bitterness under Fatah Rule,” and this curse of “Israel, Hamas and Fatah” – the latter by a Palestinian who was “born and raised as a proud refugee from the Jabalia Refugee Camp in Gaza.” As much as the Palestinians may see themselves as part of the Arab world, it is definitely uniquely Palestinian to be “born and raised as a proud refugee” in a Palestinian city among Palestinians.

* * *

This is an edited version of a post first published in January at EoZ.

Remember “Global Mufti” Qaradawi when comparing Jewish and Muslim refugees

Nobody can know how the Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust would feel about the now so fashionable use of their despair and suffering for the benefit of today’s mostly Muslim refugees. I have repeatedly tried to explain why I think the comparison is inappropriate; but even though more influential writers have also adamantly opposed this facile “lesson of history,” it only seems to become more popular. One notable example for this trend is the Twitter account St. Louis Manifest: set up for the recent International Holocaust Remembrance Day, it quickly gained almost 74,000 followers by combining the commemoration of the Jewish refugees on board the St. Louis, who were denied entry to the US and later killed by the Nazis, with the message #RefugeesWelcome. In the same spirit, columnist Peter Beinart decreed on Twitter that it was completely unacceptable for Jewish organizations to commemorate the Holocaust without forcefully rejecting the Trump administration’s recent “Muslim ban” (which isn’t really a “Muslim ban”).

beinart-holocaust-muslim-ban

In a probably futile attempt to make the virtue-signalers think twice, Lee Smith argued in Tablet that if today’s Syrian refugees are the “new Jews,” we should urgently figure out who are the new Nazis. According to Smith, it is Iran and “its crack troops, the Quds Force,” as well as Iranian proxies like Hezbollah and Assad ally Russia “that hunted Sunni Arabs like animals and slaughtered them or sent them running for their lives. These are the Nazis. That’s who sent the Syrians running for their lives like Jews fleeing Hitler.”

Writing at The American Interest, Walter Russell Mead and Nicholas M. Gallagher make a similar argument:

“The refugee question is not the only uncomfortable parallel between the 1930s and our own time. The real problem in the 1930s wasn’t the lack of compassion for Jewish and other refugees; it was the feckless appeasement of Adolf Hitler and the unwillingness to confront him that empowered the Nazi persecution of the Jews and created hundreds of thousands of refugees. So today the true villain of the Syria story—aside from Syria, Russia, and Iran—is the feckless Obama foreign policy that allowed a cyst to metastasize into a cancer, just as Britain, France, and America once allowed Hitler to grow into the master of Europe.

The Obama officials and cheerleaders now guilt-tripping the country over ‘heartlessness’ toward Syria refugees are giving hypocrisy a bad name. Bad foreign policy is the cause of the heartbreak in Syria today, not bad immigration policy. The world does not need lectures from Susan Rice and Samantha Power on what we should do about Syrian refugees; the best way to deal with refugee flows is to prevent them from happening. The Holocaust was not caused by the Reed-Johnson Act [which sharply curtailed immigration since 1924]; it was caused by Nazi hatred, enabled by naive liberal illusions about the ‘arc of history’ that prevented the West from mobilizing against Hitler when he was weak and [could have been] easily defeated.”

But current controversies about Muslim immigration are of course not just about Syrian refugees, and arguably, everyone who is eager to cite “lessons” of the 1930s and 1940s should be confronted with the fact that the murderous Jew-hatred of this time remains not only fairly popular in the Muslim world, but is further fortified by ancient Islamic enmity to Jews. While there is plenty of evidence for these unfortunate facts, the perhaps best example is the popular Muslim leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi. It is crucial to understand how enormously influential Qaradawi is: A 2009 book entitled “The Global Mufti” asserts that “Qaradawi is unquestionably the most important Sunni religious figure in the world today,” and a Huffington Post/World Post list of Arab “thought leaders” ranks the now ninety-year old cleric as number three for 2016.

According to the Huffington Post, Qaradawi is best known for his program “Sharia and Life,” which is broadcast on Al Jazeera and has an estimated audience of 60 million worldwide; he has also published more than 120 books, and helped found the popular website IslamOnline, for which he has long served as “chief religious scholar.”

Interestingly, even the Huffington Post notes in its short biography on Qaradawi that due to some “controversial” views, he was refused entry to the UK (2008) and France (2012). One could add that also his US visa was revoked already in 1999, and he has even become controversial in the Arab world because many regard him “as the religious voice giving power to people in Arab countries to rise against their oppressive rulers.” Along with many Muslim Brotherhood members, an Egyptian court sentenced Qaradawi (in absentia) to death in 2015; Georgetown professor Abdullah Al-Arian denounced the sentence in his Al Jazeera column and praised Qaradawi as “possibly the most prominent religious authority in the Sunni Muslim world.”

Westerners who are eager to use the victims of the Holocaust for today’s political debates should be familiar with some of the relevant views of this highly influential Muslim scholar, who – as Al-Arian illustrates – has also well-placed admirers in the West.

In a speech broadcast on Al Jazeera TV on January 30, 2009, Qaradawi declared:

“Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.”

qaradawi-hitler

 So apparently, Qaradawi would prefer to see Muslims not as the new Jews, but rather as the new Nazis.

A few weeks before Qaradawi expressed his hope that Muslims would follow in Hitler’s footsteps, he also prayed in a Friday sermon that was aired by Al Jazeera TV:

“Oh Allah, take the Jews, the treacherous aggressors. Oh Allah, take this profligate, cunning, arrogant band of people. Oh Allah, they have spread much tyranny and corruption in the land. Pour Your wrath upon them, oh our God. Lie in wait for them. […] oh Allah, take this oppressive, tyrannical band of people. Oh Allah, take this oppressive, Jewish, Zionist band of people. Oh Allah, do not spare a single one of them. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one.”

These kind of fervent prayers calling on Allah to kill all the Jews are not uncommon – here is a selection: a Palestinian preacher (2010); a Hamas imam (2011); a Spanish imam (2014); an Italian preacher (2014); an imam in Berlin (2014); a Qatari sheikh (2014); a Palestinian sheikh (2016).

As far as Qaradawi is concerned, he had freely promoted his intense Jew-hatred already for years. In 2003, he published a book (in Arabic) explaining his “rulings” on Palestine; the book was translated to English in 2007. In this book Qaradawi warns Muslims not to be friends with “Jews, in general, and Israelis, in particular;” he describes Jews as “devourers of Riba (usury) and ill-gotten money” and as “true examples of miserliness and stinginess;” he also claims that Jews “have killed Prophet Zakariyya and Prophet Yahya and wove conspiracies against Jesus Christ.”

However, as Mark Gardner and Dave Rich noted in their review (full pdf text), the “most striking part of the book” is Qaradawi’s discussion of a notorious hadith [i.e. records “of the traditions or sayings of the Prophet Muhammad” which are viewed “as a major source of religious law and moral guidance, second only to the authority of the Qurʾān”] that also appears prominently in the Hamas Charter and reads:

“The last day will not come unless you fight Jews. A Jew will hide himself behind stones and trees and stones and trees will say, O servant of Allah [or O Muslim] there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.””

Qaradawi describes this hadith as “one of the miracles of our Prophet” and elaborates:

“[W]e believe that the battle between us and the Jews is coming. Such a battle is not driven by nationalistic causes or patriotic belonging; it is rather driven by religious incentives. This battle is not going to happen between Arabs and Zionists, or between Jews and Palestinians, or between Jews or anybody else. It is between Muslims and Jews as is clearly stated in the hadith. This battle will occur between the collective body of Muslims and the collective body of Jews i.e. all Muslims and all Jews. (p. 77).”

Another notable admirer of this hadith is Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the Palestinian Authority Mufti, who was appointed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and who is the highest religious official in the Palestinian Authority. As documented by Palestinian Media Watch: “At an event celebrating the 47th anniversary of the founding of Fatah [in January 2012], he cited the Hadith (Islamic tradition attributed to Muhammad) saying that the Hour of Resurrection will not come until Muslims fight the Jews and kill them.”
Here is the video:

Gardner and Rich argue that Qaradawi “personifies the combination of theological anti-Judaism, modern European antisemitism and conflict-driven Judeophobia that make up contemporary Islamist attitudes to Jews.” But given the fact that Qaradawi has long been recognized as “possibly the most prominent religious authority in the Sunni Muslim world” – to quote Georgetown professor Abdullah Al-Arian – it is by no means clear that only “Islamists” would share his views on Jews. And indeed, there is plenty of evidence that antisemitism is not only rampant in the Arab and Muslim world, but also prevalent in Muslim communities in the West.

I would have thought that if we want to draw “lessons” from the Holocaust, one of the most important would be to never again ignore incitement to murderous Jew-hatred. But the recent International Holocaust Remembrance Day was just one of many occasions to realize that I’m apparently wrong.

A previous version of this post was published at EoZ, and in Polish at Listy z naszego sadu.

 

So progressive: alt-left anti-Israel activists find common ground with the alt-right

In the aftermath of the US election, proudly progressive Israel-haters have been happy to tell everyone who’d listen that they have been right all along – alt-right, to be precise. About a week after the election, Ali Abunimah informed his Electronic Intifada readers that Trump might be “bringing ‘white Zionism’ to the White House.”

aa-white-supremacy-zionism3

In order to explain what “white Zionism” is supposed to be, Abunimah cited the – in my view well-deserved – criticism of Steve Bannon’s leadership role at Breitbart, which has been denounced for regularly publishing “materials designed to stoke fears about African Americans, Latinos, Muslims and other groups, and to explicitly normalize white nationalist and white supremacist beliefs.” Abunimah then declared triumphantly: “This so-called alt-right ideology has been described by one of its key promoters as a form of ‘white Zionism.’”

Well, to Ali Abunimah it must have seemed like a golden opportunity: when half of America was in shock about Trump’s unexpected election victory and appalled by the prospect of an empowered alt-right, why not seize the moment and come up with a spin that might convince all these people that Zionism was just as bad and despicable???

But Abunimah was by no means the only one to demonize Zionism as the Jewish version of white supremacism: at the hate site Mondoweiss, Phillip Weiss accused renowned Holocaust scholar Deborah E. Lipstadt of “advocating a double standard” if she was denouncing “white nationalism as a white supremacist ideology” without condemning “Jewish nationalism” in the same terms.

A more recent post at Mondoweiss gloats about the widely reported failure of Hillel rabbi Matt Rosenberg at Texas A&M University to respond to alt-right leader Richard Spencer’s claim that Jews refused to assimilate and thus remained “a coherent people with a history and a culture and a future,” and that he just wants the same for whites. As Mondoweiss contributor Jonathan Ofir concludes, “Spencer masterfully put Rosenberg in a checkmate” by exposing “how Zionism and white-supremacy in fact dovetail.”

It’s good to know that alt-left anti-Israel activists would feel so elated to have their demonization of Zionism validated by the ‘masterful’ leader of the alt-right… The intellectual depth displayed here reminds me of Rania Khalek’s excuse when she was caught linking to a Holocaust denial site and then claimed it had just been “an error,” insisting at the same time that the book she had recommended from the site was “completely factual.” As I wrote at the time, Khalek was apparently convinced that a site devoted to minimizing Nazi crimes and defending people “not believing in the existence of gas chambers” can be trusted to feature a “completely factual” book that presents Zionist Jews as Nazi collaborators – which is obviously an idea that deserves as much ridicule and contempt as the notion that a white supremacist site would be a good place to find a “completely factual” book on blacks.

What anti-Israel activists who feel that the alt-right’s supposed affinity for Zionism validates their own “anti-Zionism” really tell us is that their view of Zionism has little to do with realities in the world’s only Jewish state.

Let’s look first at what Spencer means by “White Zionism”. This is how he put it at an alt-right gathering in 2013:

“For us ‘immigration’ is a proxy for race. In that way, immigration can be good or bad: it can be a conquest (as it seems now) . . . or a European in-gathering, something like White Zionism. It all depends on the immigrants. And we should open our minds to the positive possibilities of mass immigration from the White world.”

More recently, Spencer told the notorious alt-right gathering in Washington D.C. something very similar as he told Hillel rabbi Matt Rosenberg at Texas A&M University:

“The Jews exist precisely because they were apart, precisely because they had, maybe you could say, a bit of paranoia about trying to stay away — please don’t quote paranoia,” Spencer said.”

Right, let’s not quote “paranoia” – it’s perhaps not the best word to describe the results of more than a thousand years of antisemitism…

But in any case, others at the gathering agreed that the Jews provided an excellent example for white nationalists. As one participant put it:

“The opposition to intermarriage. The creation of their own state. The recreation of their language. This is the greatest triumph of racial idealism in history.”

So let’s start with intermarriage (and leave aside that I’m writing this as a naturalized non-Jewish Israeli citizen who “intermarried” with a Jew). While the alt-right hopes to be able to mainstream their ideas under President Trump, they presumably know that Trump’s daughter Ivanka converted to Judaism and married a Jew. So if white nationalists want to emulate Jews, they’ve surely developed some ideas about how non-Whites can convert to being white? And another interesting question: what language do white nationalists plan to recreate?

Anyway, to clarify things a bit more, I thought white nationalists might find it useful to contemplate this image before praising Israel for any supposed “greatest triumph of racial idealism in history”…

idf-diversity

Mhm, you think this is how white nationalists would want their army to look? And, incidentally, how do you think white nationalists would feel if they knew the story of former Israeli president Moshe Katsav, who was found guilty of sexual offenses and sentenced to a lengthy prison term by a well-respected Christian Arab judge? If white nationalists see Israel as their example, maybe we should expect that they’ll have well-respected Black Muslim judges in their state?

I could go on, but I agree with Gilead Ini’s recent remark on Twitter: taking the alt-right’s professed admiration for the world’s only Jewish state seriously, and trying to show how insincere and uninformed it is, may not make more sense than countering other libels by  “arguing that Zionism isn’t Nazism or that Jews don’t drink blood.”

But the alt-left’s eagerness to embrace the alt-right’s fantasy of Israel as a validation of campaigns aimed at eliminating the world’s only Jewish state shows how alike both fringes are: the alt-right wants a white state without Jews, the alt-left wants a world without a Jewish state – and if their respective visions were to come true, the alt-right couldn’t care less about the fate of Jews in the diaspora, while the alt-left couldn’t care less about the fate of Jews in Israel.

* * *

A previous version of this post was published at EoZ.

Max Blumenthal triggers a wave of buyer’s remorse

For the past few years, Max Blumenthal has worked hard to establish himself as a leading anti-Israel activist who is rightly celebrated wherever there are Jew-haters. But while Blumenthal’s “pro-Palestinian” fans could see nothing wrong with his “journalism” as long as it served to demonize Israel, they have come to reject the exact same kind of “journalism” as deeply offensive hackery when Blumenthal turned his attention to Syria. Since many people were hoping that Syria’s truly heroic rescuers known as “White Helmets” would get this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, Blumenthal apparently felt an irresistible urge to show off his journalistic brilliance by exposing the Syria Campaign – a group supporting the White Helmets – as an evil tool of the West. Not deceived by “the lofty rhetoric about solidarity and the images of heroic rescuers rushing in to save lives,” Blumenthal triumphantly discovered “an agenda that aligns closely with the forces from Riyadh to Washington clamoring for regime change.”

So brilliant and so obvious at the same time, isn’t it: given Bashar al-Assad’s benevolent rule, no Syrian could possibly want “regime change”…

The backlash against Blumenthal and his closest allies – notably Ali Abunimah and some of his Electronic Intifada writers – was quick and furious. Admittedly, it was a rather enjoyable spectacle, because a lot of the harsh criticism now voiced by disappointed fans (who want to see Israel gone as much as the likes of Blumenthal) could have been quoted from posts I and other critics of his screeds have written: suddenly people were ready to denounce “Max’s fact-free delusions” and his “smear pieces;” my personal favorite was perhaps when Blumenthal’s gonzo journalism was mocked in a tweet ridiculing how he usually concocts the “evidence” to indict his targets: “This NGO took money from a fund whose director once ate lunch in the same restaurant as an employee of an Islamophobe.” (Another delightful parody of Blumenthal’s “journalism” is here). Incidentally, this is also an excellent description of the modus operandi regularly followed by Ali Abunimah and his Electronic Intifada crew.

Abunimah was quick to complain that this was a “coordinated smear campaign that’s been going on for months,” and naturally, he had no doubt about the sinister forces behind it all: it was, of course, an “Israel-lobby inspired smear campaign.” Stalwart Abunimah fans like the perpetually “Angry Arab” agreed: it just couldn’t be a “coincidence that the campaign is being directed against some of the bravest voices against Israel in the US.”

Abunimah reacted with a torrent of tweets hurling abuse against his critics – and his bullying ultimately paid off: a blog post under the title “Palestinians decry Western Assad apologists” named only Max Blumenthal and linked to a statement signed by about 120 “Palestinian signatories” that denounced unnamed “Allies We’re Not Proud Of.” The statement declared that the signatories “are embarrassed by the ways in which some individuals known for their work on Palestine have failed to account for some crucial context in their analysis of Syria” and decried the “tendency to heroize those who advocate on behalf of the Palestinian struggle,” vowing that the signatories would “no longer entertain individuals who fail to acknowledge the immediate concerns of besieged Syrians in their analysis.”

An Al Jazeera article on the controversy also avoided naming names, though the author forcefully condemned activists who regard the “Palestinian cause” merely as a convenient “platform … to vent their selective anti-imperialist outrage.” Interestingly, this article painted a rather dramatic picture of the controversy:

“The Palestine solidarity movement is facing an unprecedented internal crisis, brought about not by the conflict with Israel but by the war in Syria. The latter has caused divisions that are arguably deeper and more damaging than those over how to realise Palestinian rights and aspirations. While the effects of Palestinian political infighting have remained largely domestic, the fissures over Syria have taken on a global dimension, and created unparalleled hostility among supporters of the Palestinian cause.”

There was indeed quite a bit of “hostility” on social media, some of it helpfully documented by Ali Abunimah himself. One telling example is archived here: Abunimah complained that the “Syrian American Medical Assoc. launches incitement campaign against me/others, claims we’re paid by Assad/Russia.” And apparently, Abunimah didn’t like getting a taste of his own medicine: “This level of incitement – comparing us to Hitler – is getting to dangerous levels.” Abunimah also took offense when his dear friend Max Blumenthal got the Max Blumenthal treatment from erstwhile fans.

3

Clearly, Abunimah feels that Nazi smears should only be reserved for Israel.

The controversy also revealed a few interesting tidbits showing “pro-Palestinian” stars like Max Blumenthal and Rania Khalek in a rather unflattering light. If Blumenthal really “went to Gaza &burst into tears at a Hamas checkpoint,” the boundless admiration he has expressed for Hamas perhaps also reflects some rather unhealthy psychological dispositions: the more brutal the bully, the more admiration Blumenthal will feel – which may well help to explain why Blumenthal has so much contempt for Israel and the US, and so much respect for Hamas, Assad, Russia and Iran.

mb-cries-at-hamas-checkpoint1

But while I couldn’t find confirmation for the delightful insider rumor about Hamas reducing Blumenthal to tears, I did manage to find evidence for the accusation that Electronic Intifada “associate editor” Rania Khalek is a plagiarist: if you check out this 2008 post on “6 ‘Non-Lethal’ Weapons That’ll Make You Wish You Were Dead” and scroll to the comments, you will find one posted on August 4th, 2011, which says: “This article has recently been plagiarized by someone named Rania Khalek for a website called Alternet. It’s not even subtle. […] The title of the stolen article is ‘6 Creepy New Weapons the Police and Military Use To Subdue Unarmed People’ and it was published August 1st 2011.” Sure enough, there is such an Alternet article by Khalek, which is marked as “updated” at the beginning and adorned with an “EDITOR’S NOTE” at the end stating: “This article has been corrected since its original publication for more accurate attribution to original sources.” Isn’t this a delicate way to put it…

Khalek’s author archive at Alternet shows that her regular contributions at the site ended a few months later in January 2012, but resumed again after three years in January 2015 – and amazingly enough, the plagiarized piece was promptly recycled under the exact same title, without the “editor’s note” and without any hint that it had been published years earlier. I suppose that’s Alternet quality journalism …

Last but not least, the disappointment expressed by erstwhile Blumenthal fans offered many more revealing glimpses at how truly pathetic many supporters of the “Palestinian cause” are. One heartbroken Blumenthal fan lamented: “I regret writing a review of @MaxBlumenthal’s Gaza book for @MuftahOrg http://muftah.org/a-review-of-max-blumenthals-the-51-day-war-ruin-and-resistance-in-gaza/ … I see that he’s fallen as low as Rania Khalek.” Check out the linked review posted on July 29, 2015, and you’ll find the highest praise for the “fearless integrity that fuels Blumenthal’s reporting.” You’ll also find that this review is illustrated with an image of the aftermath of a deadly “explosion … at a public garden near Shifa hospital in Gaza City on July 28, 2014.” It’s hard to think of a better illustration for a review praising Blumenthal, because Israel had immediately said that the carnage was caused by Hamas rockets, and even Amnesty International ultimately conceded in the spring of 2015 that “the projectile was a Palestinian rocket.” Ignoring this fact is really a good example of Blumenthal-style “integrity”.

So here’s a lesson for erstwhile Blumenthal fan Joey Husseini Ayoub and the likes of him: if you hail a hack like Blumenthal who glorifies an Islamist terror group like Hamas for his “fearless integrity,” you just look utterly pathetic when you denounce him for serving as an apologist for Syria’s Assad: Hamas and Assad have pretty much the same concern for the people under their rule. Just as the current carnage in Syria is due to Assad’s determination to hold on to power, all the wars in Gaza in the last decade are due to Hamas’ cynical efforts to polish their credentials as the “Islamic Resistance Movement.”

But I suppose there’s really nothing more “pro-Palestinian” than to quickly forget how Hamas threw opponents from high-rises in Gaza, tortured them and dragged their bodies through the streets, or executed them ISIS-style on public squares – a spectacle that was actually defended by Ali Abunimah. Maybe Max Blumenthal recalled atrocities like these when he burst into tears at a Hamas checkpoint: it must be really scary to be at the mercy of people who treat their own like this – even if you’re a “journalist” who came to glorify those brutal bullies.

* * *

This is an updated version of a post first published at Elder of Ziyon.

The terror-supporting, Jew-hating Tamimis and their enablers (summary and links)

As my regular readers will know, the American writer Ben Ehrenreich recently published a book that portrays the Tamimis of Nabi Saleh as a lovely family of non-violent activists who suffer greatly from Israel’s relentless and wantonly cruel oppression. It was not the first time Ehrenreich paid tribute to the Tamimis and their supposedly noble struggle: already in spring 2013, his story about the Tamimis’ ambition to start a “Third Intifada” was featured on the cover of the New York Times (NYT) Magazine – and Israel-haters noted with great satisfaction that Ehrenreich’s piece “contains an implicit argument for violent resistance.”

The same could be said about Ehrenreich’s new book; yet, reviewers for highbrow outlets like the NYT and The Economist were hardly able to contain their heartfelt sympathy for Ehrenreich’s terror-loving Jew-hating protagonists – which presumably means that none of them noticed or was bothered by the fact that Ehrenreich does acknowledge in his book that the Tamimi family includes several much-loved terrorist murderers.

I began to document the Tamimis’ ardent support for terror and their equally ardent Jew-hatred a year ago and wrote several posts; a more systematic and thorough documentation was published in the November issue of The Tower Magazine (How a Family Became a Propaganda Machine), where I argued that it was completely unethical for Amnesty International to promote the Tamimis as supposedly non-violent defenders of human rights.

After the publication of Ehrenreich’s book in June, I updated my research on the Tamimis and documented their ongoing support for terrorism and their seething Jew-hatred in several additional posts (see e.g. Ben Ehrenreich’s obscene empathy with the terror-supporting Tamimis).

Given that Ehrenreich’s book – and the glowing reviews for it – were published just a few weeks before the 15th anniversary of the Sbarro massacre, which was planned and facilitated by Ahlam Tamimi, I very much appreciated that Tablet published a related post of mine (though I didn’t get to choose the title): Was Ben Ehrenreich Bamboozled By a Palestinian Terror Clan?

Another related piece was first published at Harry’s Place and is cross-posted below; it includes a YouTube video I put together in collaboration with Elder of Ziyon; the clip offers a short introduction to the four Tamimi family members listed first in the Acknowledgements to Ehrenreich’s book. I later also created a slide show featuring about 40 tweets by Manal Tamimi, which provide a glimpse of the intense hatred that drives the Tamimis.

 * * *

Ben Ehrenreich celebrates the Tamimis (who celebrate terrorism)

Roughly a month before the 9/11 terror attacks, Palestinian terrorists bombed a crowded Sbarro pizzeria in downtown Jerusalem on August 9, 2001. Fifteen people were killed, including seven children and a pregnant woman, and some 130 people suffered injuries; one young mother was left in a permanent vegetative state. Unwittingly or not, the Guardian marked the 15th anniversary of the bombing by promoting a book that extols the humanity and lovingkindness of the family of the Hamas-affiliated terrorist who planned, and helped perpetrate, the bombing: Ben Ehrenreich’s recently published “The Way to the Spring: Life and Death in Palestine” focuses heavily on the Tamimis of Nabi Saleh, who remain proud of their relative Ahlam Tamimi, the unrepentant mastermind of the Sbarro massacre.

Ehrenreich’s book has already won high praise from the New York Times, which recommended it warmly as a “Love Letter to Palestine” that is full of “heartbreaking and eye-opening” stories; similarly, a teary-eyed review in The Economist fawned over Ehrenreich’s “elegant and moving account” and emphasized that “[it] is in the author’s descriptions of the Tamimis that the hope, and the love, are to be found.”

The few hints Ehrenreich provides in his book about his protagonists’ sympathies for terrorism and terrorists apparently didn’t strike any reviewer as worthwhile investigating. Ehrenreich does acknowledge in passing that Ahlam Tamimi’s “relatives in Nabi Saleh still speak of her with great affection,” and he does get around to mentioning that two other Tamimi family members were convicted of the 1993 murder and burning of Chaim Mizrahi. One of them, Nizar Tamimi, happens to be the nephew of Ehrenreich’s dear friend Bassem Tamimi; Nizar is also the presumably proud husband of Ahlam: the two murderers were both released in the 2011 deal that freed Hamas hostage Gilad Shalit in exchange for 1027 convicted Palestinian terrorists – an event that was celebrated in Nabi Saleh – and they married shortly afterwards in Jordan. Bassem Tamimi and his wife Nariman, as well as their famous daughter Ahed, attended the happy occasion; needless to say, the murderous couple reportedly planned to “have resistance children.”

While Ehrenreich doesn’t tell his readers much about Nizar or Ahlam, he does devote a few pages to the stories of Said Tamimi, who helped his cousin Nizar kill Chaim Mizrahi and who was released in December 2013 in a US-brokered deal “to bring Palestinian leaders back to peace negotiations.” It’s noteworthy in this context that a still available media report published shortly after Mizrahi’s murder in 1993 stated that the killing was claimed by Hamas, describing it as “an attack by extremists determined to disrupt the peace process by provoking Jewish anger.”

Ehrenreich doesn’t bother his readers with these details, but after presenting Said Tamimi as a somewhat tragic and sympathetic figure, he does address the murder:

“About Mizrahi, Said expressed no remorse. ‘I didn’t know him personally,’ he said. ‘Those were the means that we used. It was part of the resistance and part of the struggle. I was considered a fighter, a soldier. The role of a soldier is to kill or be killed.’ Bassem interrupted: ‘This was not a personal issue,’ he said. Said nodded and agreed. ‘It wasn’t personal,’ he repeated. ‘My father was killed in a battle. I killed in a battle.’ [Note PMB: Mizrachi was reportedly a religious student in Beit El who went to the Tamimis to buy eggs.] I asked him where it happened. Bassem answered for him. ‘Near Beit El,’ he said. I asked him how. Again Bassem answered. ‘With a knife,’ he said. Out the window, the muezzin’s cry was rising from the mosques. Said stubbed out his cigarette, excused himself and kneeled in the corner to pray. I poured Bassem another coffee. ‘Ben,’ he said, laughing, ‘fuck you. Why do you ask all these questions?’”

Well, no worries: It was the only time Ehrenreich asked his friends some mildly probing questions. After all, Ehrenreich didn’t want to know too much about the Tamimis’ unpleasant views and the occasions they acted on them – or at least he didn’t want his readers to know much about all that.

But as I have shown in a fairly detailed documentation that is based on examining publicly available social media posts and other material where the Tamimis freely express themselves, their image as “non-violent” activists who valiantly fight for a noble cause is hardly more than a façade designed to attract the support of gullible “pro-Palestinian” westerners and organizations like Amnesty International. While Ehrenreich worked hard to bolster this image, the Tamimis freely share their enthusiastic support for terrorism and their ardent Jew-hatred among themselves on social media (though mostly in Arabic). Bassem Tamimi tends to be more careful about the “non-violent” Tamimi brand and only occasionally betrays his admiration for terror groups like Hezbollah or the Qassam Brigades, but the Facebook page of his wife Nariman provides a steady stream of posts and interactions with friends and family that leave little doubt about the Tamimis’ shared enthusiasm for terror.

As I have already noted in a recent piece for Tablet, Nariman has repeatedly promoted posts by Ahlam Tamimi (whose Facebook page is adorned with images of the suicide bomber who carried out the Sbarro massacre) inciting and glorifying terror attacks; she has also posted graphic instructions on where to aim a knife to ensure a lethal outcome for a stabbing attack, and whenever there are news about a terror attack, Nariman Tamimi will rush to celebrate with her Facebook friends. Even if a teenage Palestinian murders a 13-year-old Jewish girl sleeping at home in her bed, Nariman Tamimi and friends & family will hail the teenage terrorist as a heroic “martyr” who helped “to restore to the homeland its reverence.” Nariman Tamimi is also more than willing to go public with her admiration for Ahlam Tamimi: just last year, Israeli media reported that Nariman defended the Sbarro pizzeria bombing as “an integral part of the struggle,” declaring firmly: “Everyone fights in the manner in which he believes. There is armed uprising, and there is popular uprising. I support every form of uprising.”

Bassem and Nariman Tamimi are the first people Ehrenreich lists in his Acknowledgements, where he thanks them profusely: “I would not have been able to write this book without the abundant help, generosity, hospitality, kindness, laughter, encouragement, insights, and wise counsel of Bassem Tamimi, Nariman Tamimi, Bilal Tamimi, [and] Manal Tamimi.”

A clip I made together with veteran blogger Elder of Ziyon provides a glimpse of what these four paragons of lovingkindness really stand for.

Perhaps the most outspoken member of the Tamimi family is Manal Tamimi, who represents the Tamimis’ cause on Twitter in broken English under the well-chosen handle @screamingtamimi. Manal is always happy to flaunt her enthusiastic support for terror and her ardent Jew-hatred. While Bassem Tamimi will only occasionally acknowledge that the “struggle” he advocates is not just directed against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, but against Israel’s existence as a Jewish state in any borders, Manal Tamimi will frankly announce on Twitter: “We will keep resisting until the last zionist either got killed or leave palestine.” Her hatred is so intense that she sometimes just can’t resist posting the most vile antisemitic material imaginable – even if it means equating Palestinians with the Nazis, as she did in this tweet [archived here: http://archive.is/s6dvM; an almost identical image identifies the hideous creature that is beaten up by the Nazi figure as a “Jew Rat”].

It is not hard to find out that Ehrenreich shares the Tamimis’ view that one Jewish state in the world is one too many – as he put it in a 2009 op-ed in the Los Angeles Times: “Zionism is the problem.” Obviously enough, however, reviewers for highbrow outlets don’t really have a problem with a writer who doesn’t want Israel to exist, but who wants everyone to share his love and admiration for a clan that has already produced several murderers, that openly justifies past terrorist attacks like the Sbarro bombing, and that cheers every new murder of Israelis quite publicly.

Note: Translation of Arabic texts courtesy of Ibn Boutros

Rania Khalek’s antisemitic anti-Zionism

Since I wrote about Rania Khalek and her “updates on Jewish evil” almost a year ago (belatedly cross-posted below because it is relevant to this new installment), her career as an anti-Israel activist has taken off: she is now an “associate editor” at Ali Abunimah’s Electronic Intifada and writes regular posts for the site. Her most recent contributions include a piece entitled “Ta-Nehisi Coates sings of Zionism,” where she attacks the award-winning American writer for what she deems “one of his most glaring political lapses.” What bothers Khalek so much is that, in order to make the case that American Blacks should receive reparations for slavery and discrimination, “Coates presents German reparations to Israel as a successful and moral model, ignoring the horrors Israel inflicted and still inflicts on Palestinians and other people of the region using those funds.”

Before looking at Khalek’s new outburst of blatant bigotry, it is worthwhile noting that the title of her piece echoes a 2008 post by Ta-Nehisi Coates – “The Negro Sings Of Zionism” – where he described the “need for Barack Obama to assure us that he is, indeed, the best friend Israel could ever have” as “distasteful.” For whatever reason, anti-Israel activists discovered some six years later that they should take Coates to task for “[i]nvoking Malcolm X to justify Zionism” in this piece, and Coates duly apologized: “Yes it is [sad]. Penned as though the Palestinian people do not exist. Deeply wrong.” He added: “Apologies for pontificating on an actual struggle, as though it were a pet science project.”

Khalek is also picking up a story from 2014, when Ta-Nehisi Coates first made his by now famous “Case for Reparations” in the Atlantic. It is perhaps noteworthy that this piece opens with a quote from Deuteronomy 15: 12–15:

“And if thy brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee. And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty: thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the LORD thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing today.”

Perhaps prompted by the major awards Coates has received in the past two years, Rania Khalek apparently felt that it was finally time to air the longstanding resentment she seems to have nurtured ever since Coates and his Atlantic colleague Jeffrey Goldberg didn’t allow her to derail the discussion at an event she attended in 2014. She has opined on Twitter that “[i]t’s unfortunate that @tanehisicoates offers legitimacy to war crimes enthusiast & apartheid lover @JeffreyGoldberg” and has wondered how anyone can “take Coates seriously as an anti-racist while he allies w a former Kahanist Israeli prison guard who cheered the Iraq war.”

Luckily, Khalek now has the Electronic Intifada to showcase her bigotry. As far as she is concerned, Coates is guilty of “lauding Germany’s bankrolling of a racist, settler-colonial state as a model;” furthermore, Khalek feels that Coates “ignores the Nakba, erases Palestinian suffering and gives Germany a free pass for making Palestinians into secondary victims of its European genocide.”

Unsurprisingly, Khalek also claims that the “narrative” Coates advances “completely ignores the fact that while other Jews were resisting the Nazis, Zionists infamously made a deal with them, the notorious Transfer Agreement of 1933, to facilitate the transport of German Jews and their property to Palestine and which, as Joseph Massad points out, broke the international Jewish boycott of Nazi Germany started by American Jews.”

Yes, you read this correctly: Khalek is saying here that the evil Zionists should be condemned for trying to help Jews flee Nazi Germany instead of leaving them to their fate. In order to make her bigoted case, she linked to two Al Jazeera op-eds by notorious Columbia University professor Joseph Massad, who is listed as an Electronic Intifada contributor and whose writings on Israel are sometimes hard to distinguish from material posted on neo-Nazi sites like Stormfront. When Al Jazeera published one of the Massad articles Khalek links to back in 2013, Jeffrey Goldberg tweeted sarcastically: “Congratulations, al Jazeera: You’ve just posted one of the most anti-Jewish screeds in recent memory.”

Some of the reactions to Khalek’s piece are documented in this Israellycool post; it is particularly noteworthy that Ali Abunimah responded to criticism of Khalek’s piece by accusing critics of “defending Zionist-Nazi collaboration.” As Avi Mayer rightly pointed out, what Abunimah denounces as “collaboration” saved the lives of some 60,000 German Jews, and it is definitely hard to avoid the conclusion that Abunimah “would have preferred they be left to die.”

For more on the vile fantasies about “Zionist-Nazi collaboration” that are so popular among anti-Israel activists, see the following post that was originally published at my JPost blog in April 2015. But while this post focuses on Rania Khalek, it is important to note that Ali Abunimah fully supports her bigotry and that he is an ardent admirer of Massad, who uses his academic position to legitimate material that is promoted on neo-Nazi sites.

***

Rania Khalek’s updates on Jewish evil

You may have never heard of Rania Khalek – a Lebanese-American “journalist” who thinks “objectivity is bullshit” and is apparently prone to anxiously counting how many Jews write about her favorite topics – but she is quite popular among anti-Israel activists. While Khalek is in no way original and keeps busy with simply amplifying the themes propagated by sites like Ali Abunimah’s Electronic Intifada, she recently managed to provide a truly excellent example of the pervasive antisemitism that is a quasi-professional hazard for activists dedicated to demonizing the world’s only Jewish state as a monstrous evil that must be denounced in terms eerily reminiscent of the anti-Jewish bigotry of bygone times.

In an effort to promote the among anti-Israel activists popular claim that there was some sinister “Zionist collaboration with Nazi Germany,” Khalek recently posted a tweet linking to a clip of Max Blumenthal regaling an audience in Stuttgart, Germany, with his tall tales on this subject. As Nurit Baytch, who documented the resulting developments, put it so pithily, Khalek then tried “to link Zionism to anti-Semitism by linking to Holocaust denial site VHO.org, inadvertently laying bare the much more pervasive links between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism.”

Khalek was apparently not much bothered that Nurit Baytch had caught her linking to a Holocaust denial site, but she did react when BuzzFeed’s Tom Gara took notice on Twitter.

RK tweets Holocaust denial site

Khalek deleted her tweet and responded to Gara that it had just been “an error,” insisting at the same time that the book she had recommended from the site was “completely factual.” In other words, Khalek is convinced that a site devoted to minimizing Nazi crimes and defending people “not believing in the existence of gas chambers” can be trusted to feature a “completely factual” book that presents Zionist Jews as Nazi collaborators – which is obviously an idea that deserves as much ridicule and contempt as the notion that a white supremacist site would be a good place to look for a “completely factual” book on blacks.

RK tweets Holocaust denial site2

Of course, as I have noted in a previous post dealing with the same sordid subject, those truly interested in the alleged “collaboration” between Zionists and Nazi Germany could consult a serious scholarly study on this topic – though admittedly, Professor Nicosia’s book wouldn’t satisfy anti-Israel activists like Khalek, since Nicosia warns already in his introduction [pdf] that readers eager to “somehow equate Zionism with National Socialism, Zionists with Nazis, or to portray this relationship as a willing and collaborative one between moral and political equals” won’t find what they’re looking for.

So it looks like Rania Khalek and her ilk are reduced to relying on books that, for good reason, are promoted by Nazi-sympathizers and Jew-haters…

But Khalek provided yet another example of the antisemitism that inevitably infects the efforts to present Israel as the Jew among the nations. The idea that the Jews are to blame for what’s wrong with the world and especially for whatever evil you suffer from or hate most has formed the core resentment of Jew-hatred throughout the centuries. The Nazis succinctly summarized it in the slogan “The Jews are our misfortune.” Khaled presented her version of this pernicious and ancient meme updated for the 21st century at an event organized by Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Berkeley earlier this week. The preposterous title of her talk was “Palestine: A Laboratory of Global Repression,” and the advertisement highlighted just how monstrously evil the world’s only Jewish state is [my emphasis]:

“What Israel does to Palestinians doesn’t stay in Palestine. Israel uses Palestine as a laboratory to test, refine, and showcase weapons of domination and control. These weapons are then exported around the world for use on other marginalized populations, from the killing fields of Gaza to the teargassed streets of Ferguson. Zionism is an engine for ‘combat proven’ repression technology that sustains racism and inequality across the globe.

RK at UCBerkeley

Khalek later retweeted a number of tweets posted by admirers who had attended her presentation, including one that cited her asserting that Israel was “becoming [the] ‘repression engine’ of the globe, spreading tech to maintain white supremacy world-wide.”

If antisemitism wasn’t such a lethal and still all too vigorous hatred, one could almost be amused: One day Rania Khalek relies on a site run by white supremacists to demonize Israel, and the next day she demonizes Israel for “spreading tech to maintain white supremacy world-wide.”

But of course, whatever Khalek’s twists and turns, her message remains the same: the Jewish state is our misfortune. If it wasn’t for Israel, who would ‘sustain racism and inequality across the globe?’ And, as one of her fans tweeted from her talk: “Opposing Zionism [is] not just important for Palestinian self-determination, it’s important for [the] self-determination of all oppressed.” Naturally, without Zionism the Kurds would have a state, as would the Baloch and the Tibetans and the people of Western Sahara and maybe even Iran’s Ahwazis; without Zionism, nobody would be oppressed – in short, a world without the Jew of the nations would be a much better place: it would be Juden-Staat-rein and its nations would live happily ever after in peace and prosperity, just as they did before there was a Jewish state…

Unveiled: The nun, the hijabi, and Zionist supremacism

I didn’t quite trust my eyes: while browsing the output of anti-Israel activists on Twitter, I came across a tweet shared and “liked” by hundreds of users (and re-tweeted by “progressive” anti-Israel activist Max Blumenthal) that – as you can see in the screenshot below – compares a Christian nun with a woman wearing a hijab, i.e. the covering for the head and neck that is either mandatory for women or imposed by social pressure in most Muslim countries and societies.

Hijab 1

Supposedly, this image had led to the suspension of a user who posted it on Facebook – and I’ll get back to this below. But let’s first consider the image that is cut in the tweet shown in the screenshot. When I checked out the full image on the Twitter account of the tagged user, i.e. @Resistance48, I saw that below the pictures of the nun (whose perfect make-up indicates that she’s not a real nun) and the hijab-covered Muslim woman there is the question “What’s the difference..?!” Above the picture, Abbas Hamideh aka @Resistance48 had answered the question: “The only difference is racism, bigotry and #Islamophobia.”

Well, no: the difference is that one picture shows a nun, i.e. a woman who dedicates her life to celibacy and service to her order and church – which nowadays very few Christian women do –, whereas the other picture shows a woman who wears the head- and neck covering that the vast majority of Muslim women chose, or are forced, to wear. It is very relevant in this context that the male counterpart to a nun, i.e. a monk, also has to follow a strict dress code, as required by his order. In stark contrast, Muslim men are generally free to wear whatever they please, with the exception of some particularly reactionary Muslim societies.

Equating the hijab with a nun’s head covering provides by far the best argument against the hijab I have ever encountered.

So it’s now apparently as politically correct as it can get to say: the Muslim hijab is just like a Christian nun’s head covering – it is meant to set the wearer apart from society, indicating a life that sacrifices individuality and sexuality in favor of selfless service.

There has been an often heated debate in western societies about what the hijab signifies, and perhaps the post as well as the related tweets were a response to a very interesting recent contribution to this debate authored by Asra Q. Nomani and Hala Arafa in the Washington Post. Both women firmly oppose supposedly well-meaning “interfaith” efforts that encourage non-Muslim women to show solidarity with Muslims by donning a hijab.

Nomani and Arafa also provide a fascinating glimpse of the history of the notion that Muslim women must demonstrate their “modesty,” religiosity and good character by covering their hair and neck. Interestingly, they point out that “Hijab’ literally means ‘curtain’ in Arabic. It also means ‘hiding,’ ‘obstructing’ and ‘isolating’ someone or something. It is never used in the Koran to mean headscarf.”

Could anything be more revealing than supposedly “progressive” people in the West promoting the hijab for Muslim women by equating it with a nun’s head covering and the renunciation of individuality and sexuality it implies?

But there’s more revealing stuff: as mentioned above, the image of the nun and the Muslim woman had first been posted by Abbas Hamideh, aka Twitter user @Resistance48, who claimed that his Facebook account had been suspended because of this post. In his Twitter bio, Hamideh describes himself as a “Palestinian Right of Return Activist.” He also mentions that he is a co-founder of Al-Awda, an organization that campaigns for the imaginary Palestinian “right of return.” Hamideh’s Twitter bio also includes the declaration “I don’t compromise on one inch of Palestinian land!” His Twitter handle @Resistance48 is a not so subtle hint that he opposes the existence of Israel.

Naturally, @Resistance48 couldn’t resist (pun intended) offering some explanations for the suspension of his Facebook account. The first was “@facebook succumbed to #Islamophobic @realDonaldTrump (#Trump) White Supremacist supporters & disabled my account.” A few minutes later, @Resistance48 realized that there must be another reason: “@facebook is just another racist Zionist supremacist tool. So far no trouble with @twitter when posting comparisons.”

Hijab Zio FB

But of course: who else but racist Zionist supremacists could object to equating nuns with Muslim women!!!

* * *

Update: Here is another recent piece on the subject from Pakistan’s Nation (not to be confused with the “progressive” US Nation, which would be very unlikely to publish any criticism of dress codes for Muslim women). The author’s conclusion:

“The ‘freedom to wear what I choose’ argument is in fact an insidious dynamic of women sustaining the mullah directed patriarchal order of Muslim society, and treating those women who reject it as enemies of the correct and proper order of Muslim society.

One has to see objectively what the hijab, niqab, and burqa have come to signify. There [sic] are symbols of oppression of the unwilling, and the atrocities faced by Muslim women who don’t keep their “proper” place. When the Taliban got projected into our living rooms in the 90s with their stadium executions and thrashings of women in blue burqas, there was no doubt as to what was going on.  With the advent of Wahabbism/Salafism across the Muslim world, the hijab is being enforced on girls as young as three.

So I find it very hard to accept the efforts of women in free countries to use the symbol of oppression as a means of showing solidarity. I can only label it as either ignorance of the Liberals of the West, or outright appeasment by the regressive Left of the backward, oppressive, misogynistic attitudes of Muslim society.

I am still unable to understand the desperate desire in the Western democratic Left to appease and coddle the most regressive aspects of the conservative Muslim right.”

* * *

I saw only now that the image equating the nun with the hijab-covered Muslim woman was also posted on Facebook by Al-Awda, the “right of return” organization Hamideh co-founded. At the time of this writing, this post had garnered more than 500 “likes” and had been shared by more than 800 people.