Tag Archives: Islam

The hate preachers of Al Aqsa

In a commentary on the tense aftermath of the recent terror attack committed by three Arab Israeli Muslims coming from what is supposedly Islam’s “third holiest” site, David Horovitz rightly notes that the current status quo on the Temple Mount is in many ways “outrageous.” Towards the end of his column, Horovitz wonders if it was perhaps “a historic mistake” that shortly after Israel took over the Temple Mount in 1967, it returned control of the site to the Muslim authorities of the Waqf.

I think Horovitz’s column answers his question: yes, it was indeed a terrible historic mistake, because – as Horovitz himself explains – this naïve gesture of good will “has empowered a Palestinian and wider Muslim false narrative that asserts the Jews actually have no connection to the Mount, no history there, no legitimacy there — and by extension no sovereign legitimacy in Israel either. Why did defense minister Moshe Dayan’s concession on June 10, 1967, fuel that false narrative? Because, the way it was perceived in much of the Muslim world, the Jews could not and would not have relinquished their authority over the site if it truly constituted the most sacred physical focal point of their faith. Israel’s restraint […] in other words, has come to be regarded as proof of our illegitimacy.”

But the status quo on the Temple Mount is also outrageous for reasons I outlined in a recent EoZ post:

Since the Temple Mount is in the news again, it’s perhaps time to update a post I wrote some two years ago about the hate preachers who hold forth quite regularly at what is supposedly Islam’s “third holiest” site. Unfortunately, the mainstream media seem to have little interest in covering what Muslim worshippers attending the Al Aqsa mosque are told about how their faith relates to today’s world. And once you know what they’re being told, it’s clear that reporting it would be dreadfully “Islamophobic.”

Thanks to MEMRI, there is a large collection of translated clips that provide a revealing glimpse of the intense hatred that passes for pious Islamic teaching at the Al Aqsa mosque. I think it would be a great service to peace in the Middle East and beyond if MEMRI put all these clips together into one chilling documentary that should be shown around the world in order to perhaps shame the responsible Muslim authorities into putting an end to these vile outpourings. After all, the Temple Mount has been a symbol of Muslim fanaticism for decades – indeed, it soon will be a century since Haj Amin al Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, who later gained notoriety as a Nazi collaborator, first incited murderous Muslim violence with his mendacious fabrications about “Zionist” plots to damage the site’s Islamic shrines. But when the evil Zionists took over the Temple Mount in 1967, they naively thought it would be a wonderful gesture of good will to promptly hand the control of the site back to the Muslim waqf.

Ever since, Israel has cravenly served as enforcer of a “status quo” that is dictated by frequent threats of massive Muslim violence and that helps to entrench Muslim supremacism: only Muslims can pray on the Temple Mount – which is Judaism’s holiest site – while Jews and Christians are at best allowed to visit at severely restricted hours under strict police surveillance. 

My disgust with this arrangement isn’t due to any religious belief or sentiments; rather, with each new Muslim riot or act of violence justified “in defense of Al Aqsa,” it seems increasingly clear to me that peace has to begin on the Temple Mount: as long as Muslims are violently opposed to recognizing the Jewish and Christian attachment to the site and refuse to accept equal rights for Jews and Christians on the Temple Mount, there won’t be peace. And as long as Muslim leaders insist on denying equal rights for Jews and Christians on the Temple Mount, they should be denounced as supporters of a vile “status quo” that inevitably disgraces the religion which demands it.

So let’s have a good look at the “status quo” on the Temple Mount.

A perfect example is a recent speech by Palestinian preacher Ali Abu Ahmad during a rally at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in early May. The short clip – which concludes with a “prayer” imploring Allah to help Muslims to destroy whomever they perceive as enemies and to “annihilate all the Jews” – will give you a good idea about the intense hatred and the murderous incitement that is a regular feature of speeches and sermons at Islam’s “third holiest” site.

Hate preachers 1              

Shocking, but unfortunately, a common occurrence at Al Aqsa – in June, a very similar “prayer” was led by Palestinian cleric Sheikh Nadhal Siam (Abu Ibrahim): “Oh Allah, enable us to slaughter the Americans!” Audience: “Amen!” Nadhal Siam: “And the Europeans!” Audience: “Amen!” Nadhal Siam: “And our criminal and treacherous [Arab] rulers!” Audience: “Amen!”

Just two weeks after Ali Abu Ahmad had prayed for Allah’s help to “annihilate all the Jews” in early May, he was at it again, denouncing Trump as “the White House Satan” who is eager to talk with Arab rulers “about moderate Islam.” And once again, this hate preacher implored Allah to “bestow upon us a rightly-guided Caliphate in the path of the Prophet soon. Oh Allah, annihilate Trump and the conspirators. Oh Allah, annihilate all the Jews.”

At the end of May, Palestinian cleric Sheikh Muhammad Ayed, (Abu Abdallah) enlightened his audience at the Al Aqsa Mosque about the confessions of “Jewish schemers” from “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”: “They are behind all the strife in the world. They cause all the killing, the slaughter, and the destruction everywhere.” He also got around to contemplating America’s fate: “First, the Caliphate will clip America’s nails and then move on to chopping off its hands. After we clip its nails, we will chop off its hands, and then we will chop off its feet and drive it out of our countries.”

Also in May, Palestinian cleric Sheikh ‘Abd Al-Salam Abu Al-‘Izz gave a speech at Al Aqsa that is fascinating in the context of the controversy about the meaning of “jihad” in the wake of Linda Sarsour’s call for “jihad” against Trump: “Many people say that Islam did not spread by the sword. They try to conceal Jihad for the sake of Allah as a means of spreading Islam. They say that the Muslims were only defending themselves, and that if they conquered some country or another, it was only in order to put an end to tyranny. […] Any system of governance in the world is tyranny against humanity, except Islam. If we look at it this way, we find that there is tyranny in every country. Let us not forget that the Quran makes it incumbent upon us to spread Islam through Jihad: ‘Fight the infidels who are near you, and let them find harshness in you.’ […] the Jihad continues as long as there are infidels who are not ruled by Islam. Thus, the jurisprudents defined the reason for Jihad as the existence of infidels.”

Incidentally, another Palestinian cleric who educated his audience at Al Aqsa about the meaning of “jihad” in January 2016 concluded: “The purpose of Jihad for the sake of Allah is to make His word reign supreme, and to conquer the world. Thus, the Prophet’s companions roamed the planet Earth in order to conquer it. The Islamic State, which will be established soon, Allah willing, should do the same. It must conquer Rome, Washington and Paris, Allah willing, by means of Jihad for the sake of Allah, in order to remove oppression, and to purify the land from the filth of polytheism.”

Now let me just list a few of the examples I covered in my post two years ago:

In an address at the Al Aqsa Mosque on February 18, 2015, Palestinian political researcher Ahmad Al-Khatwani  (Abu Hamza) urged his audience to “pray that Allah will enable the Muslims to wage war on America and against its true terrorism. May He grant victory to the Muslims, and may they raid America on its own land and the land of heresy everywhere.”

In March 2015, preacher Muhammad Abed delivered two sermons at the Al Aqsa Mosque anticipating the establishment of a global caliphate: “Oh how similar to the past is the present! Just like the ideology of the Prophet Muhammad laid siege to the Quraysh tribe, the Persians, and the Byzantines, today, the religion and ideology of Muhammad – including Islam’s men of Truth, the men of the Caliphate and of jihad – are laying siege to America […] They are laying siege to Europe and to the fabricated democracy, the great lie. […] Oh nation of Islam, only a real Caliphate is capable of satiating your hunger, of defending you and your honor, and of liberating your Al-Aqsa Mosque form the filth of the defilers. […] America will be trampled by the hooves of the horses of the Caliph of the Muslims, Allah willing. This is the promise of Allah.”

In a lecture at the Al Aqsa Mosque on May 29, 2015, Sheik Khaled Al-Maghrabi spoke at length about Jewish evil and justified the Holocaust: “Let us consider the Holocaust of the Israelites in Germany, and all the prior problems that they experienced throughout Europe. The Israelites were expelled from all the countries of Europe, and eventually, they were burned in Germany. Ask yourselves why. […] It was not only due to (Jewish) corruption. On Passover, every Israelite community would seek a small child and kidnap him. They would bring a barrel pierced by many needles, and would place the little child inside it. That way, the needles would pierce the child’s body. At the bottom of the barrel there would be a tap to drain the blood. Why would they collect the blood of the kidnapped child? Because Satan, or one of the other higher gods, said that if they wanted him to fulfill their desires, they would have to eat bread kneaded with children’s blood. […] On Passover, when they are not allowed to eat regular bread, they make their matzos. They would knead the dough for these matzos with children’s blood. When this was discovered, the Israelites were expelled throughout Europe. That was the beginning of the calamity of the Israelites in European countries. It got to the point where they were burned in Germany. It was because of all those things, because of their multiple kidnappings of children.”

In another frightening lecture bordering on madness, delivered at the Al Aqsa Mosque on July 4, 2015, Palestinian cleric Issam Amira told his audience: “An Islamic state is required to deliver the call for Islam to the whole world. Therefore, this state must be qualified for expansion, militarily, ideologically, economically, and geographically. […] Therefore, our main war is with whom? With the Byzantines, with America and Europe – with France, with Britain, with those places […] The Islamic Caliphate must be restored, so that it will lead the armies to war against the infidels. Then we will bring about a second battle of Badr, and a third, and a fourth… In order to achieve that, the activists must work, along with [all] Muslims, to establish the Islamic State. It also requires destroying all the entities in the Islamic world.”

In an address at the Al Aqsa Mosque on July 6, 2015, Sheik Muhammad Abed said: “From here, from the land of the Prophet’s nocturnal journey, armies will set out to conquer Rome, to conquer Constantinople once again, as well as its [modern] symbols, Washington and London. This is Allah’s promise to His Prophet: Islam will rule the entire Earth.”

During an address on July 24, 2015, Sheik Ahmad Al-Dweik told his audience at the Al Aqsa Mosque: “Allah has promised to restore the Islamic Caliphate […] The Caliphate will come to be, and the nuclear bomb will be produced. It will be the number one country in the world. It will fight the U.S. and will bring it down. [The Caliphate] will eliminate the West in its entirety.”

Finally, since Muslims now like to claim that the Al Aqsa Mosque is not just the gray-domed building, but extends to the entire Temple Mount, let’s end with an example that illustrates just how holy that area is to Muslims: almost exactly four years ago, in July 2013, Islamists held a rally there proudly displaying their murderous hatred for everyone and everything they don’t like: America, France, Rome, Britain, and of course the Jews. But as the examples listed in this post show, all the hate expressed at this rally has also often been expressed inside the mosque. And if this is what’s being preached at Islam’s supposedly “third holiest” site, one can only wonder what is being preached in mosques all over the world.

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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?

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.

 

Germany’s bridge to the Islamic world

Qantara – which is Arabic for “bridge” – is a website funded by the German Foreign Office; according to its own description, the site “represents the concerted effort of the Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung (Federal Center for Political Education), Deutsche Welle, the Goethe Institut and the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (Institute for Foreign Cultural Relations) to promote dialogue with the Islamic world.”

Unfortunately, I have repeatedly had the impression that Qantara’s idea of promoting dialogue with the Islamic world includes promoting the hatred for Israel that is so prevalent among Muslims. Given the site’s government backing and its prestigious partner organizations, it could be a very worthwhile project to study their coverage of Israel in detail. But a cursory examination of Qantara’s offerings on Israel seems to indicate a preponderance of articles that are hypercritical, if not outright hostile to the world’s only Jewish state. Occasionally, Qantara will even stoop to giving a platform to professional anti-Israel activists like Ben White – who fittingly started his career with a post explaining that he can “understand” why some people are Jew-haters. What is arguably even more worrisome is that at a time when antisemitism in Europe is widely seen as growing alarmingly, Qantara will publish a truly hair-raising piece downplaying antisemitism – and just to be on the safe side, this piece is of course authored by a Jew who feels that “Anti-Semitism has never made much etymological sense” and that it’s a bit unfair that “Jews have been getting exclusive use of the term for quite some time.” But in any case, Qantara’s Jewish antisemitism expert thinks it’s not quite appropriate to talk of antisemitism when an Islamist terrorist kills Jews in a kosher deli in Paris, because anything short of “systemic extermination by national decree” shouldn’t really be called antisemitism and it is also “no wonder some may see a Jewish person or site as an extension of the Israeli policy they detest.”

How would Qantara like an article arguing that it is ‘no wonder some may see a Muslim person or site as an extension of the Saudi/Iranian/ISIS policy they detest’?

Qantara’s recent offerings include a post that promotes BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) against Israel together with the BDS goal of the ultimate elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. The post, presented as a review of a recently published book by veteran Israel-bashers Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe, echoes a similar review (by a different author) previously published at the Electronic Intifada, which has long provided anti-Israel activists with variations on the Nazi motto “The Jews are our misfortune.” Nowadays, it is of course the Jewish state that is presented as mankind’s misfortune, and the Qantara post indeed urges the site’s readers to understand that anti-Israel “activism has now become a duty – at international level.”

When I saw that this post was authored by regular Qantara contributor Emran Feroz, I remembered that I had come across this name before. Indeed, it turns out that Feroz – who describes himself on his Twitter profile as an Austro-Afghan journalist and blogger – is an ardent admirer of Max Blumenthal. It is thus hardly a surprise that he happily announced his satisfaction that his Qantara post “made many Zionists angry.” Perhaps Feroz hopes to have as many Jew-hating fans as Blumenthal?

In any case, it seems that Feroz came to admire Blumenthal after “toiletgate”, i.e. the infamous incident last fall when Max Blumenthal visited Germany with his fellow anti-Israel activist David Sheen and they both chased the leader of the Left Party through the corridors of the German Parliament all the way to the toilet, demanding he explain his decision to cancel an event that had been organized for them by some Left Party members. Feroz apparently admired Blumenthal’s and Sheen’s disgraceful conduct, and tried very hard – and ultimately successfully – to meet Blumenthal and interview him about his exploits and his views on Israel. The result was published in the Electronic Intifada under the title “Germany made Palestinians ‘indirect victims of Holocaust,’ says author Max Blumenthal.” In his introductory remarks, Feroz claimed:

“Some German politicians have tried to muzzle debate about Israel by denouncing its critics as ‘anti-Semites.’ The American journalist Max Blumenthal — author of Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel — faced such a smear on a recent speaking tour in Germany.

A number of elected politicians alleged that a scheduled talk by Blumenthal and his colleague David Sheen in a Berlin theater would serve ‘to promote anti-Semitic prejudice.’ This was deeply ironic: both Blumenthal and Sheen are themselves Jewish. The politicians denouncing them failed to produce any evidence that they are hostile towards fellow Jews.”

Well, if Feroz wants evidence of Blumenthal’s antisemitism, he can find a link to some 60 pages of it here. And since he seems to know very little about antisemitism, he might also want to check out this short introduction to “Anti-Semitism 101.”

It is of course very regrettable that a government-funded site intended to serve as Germany’s “bridge” to the Islamic world employs a regular contributor who downplays antisemitism, admires professional anti-Israel activists and has started to publish on the sites that cater to these activists. In addition to his Electronic Intifada contribution, Feroz has also recently published a post at the hate site Mondoweiss that has been shown to promote antisemitic material.

But it would be wrong to think that this affects only the coverage of Israel. As I have often argued, anti-Israel attitudes tend to come as a package deal, combined with anti-American and generally anti-Western resentments and a host of pseudo-progressive poses. It is thus hardly surprising that Feroz responded to a complaint of the notorious Electronic Intifada contributor Rania Khalek about the German media coverage of Blumenthal’s “toiletgate” with his own complaint about how apparently unpleasant it is to be a writer in Germany. Naturally, Max Blumenthal was sympathetic to Feroz’s plight.

Qantara Feroz1

Qantara Feroz2

In addition to the already mentioned article promoting BDS and the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state, another of Feroz’s recent contributions to Qantara illustrates his eagerness to promote material popular among the anti-Israel crowd. In late March, Max Blumenthal published a vicious attack on Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and sure enough, two months later, Qantara published an article by Feroz that faithfully recycled many of Blumenthal’s smears. It is somewhat heartening to see that a Qantara reader who claims to be Muslim took the trouble to post a response in defense of Hirsi Ali. But among the anti-Israel activists Feroz admires and promotes, voices that are critical of Islam and urge wide-ranging reforms are generally viewed with hostility – which is only natural when leading activists openly favor Islamist and jihadist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

A particularly offensive paragraph in Feroz’s piece denouncing Hirsi Ali recycled some previously refuted lies that she “absolved” the right-wing Norwegian mass-murderer Anders Breivik “of all blame;” and for good measure, Feroz also threw in a reference to the German-Jewish writer Henryk M. Broder, trying to implicate him somehow as not only a fan of the supposedly vicious and mendacious Hirsi Ali, but also as an inspiration for Breivik.  Qantara editors apparently liked that so much that they opted to illustrate the article with a picture of Broder, including a caption explaining that he is “one of the best known critics of Islam in Germany” and that he “was in the front row applauding Ayaan Hirsi Ali at an event held at the Axel Springer publishing house in Berlin in 2012.”

Qantara Broder

So unfortunately, it seems that some of the building blocks for Germany’s “bridge” to the Islamic world include the downplaying of antisemitism, the recycling of anti-Israel propaganda popular among activists devoted to eliminating the world’s only Jewish state, and even vilifying a German Jewish writer as a fan of supposedly vicious Islam critics and an inspiration to a mass-murdering Muslim-hating far-right extremist. One might wonder if Qantara has perhaps a rather low opinion of the Islamic world or if the site is just trying to cater to its basest instincts?

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This is a very belated cross-post from my JPost blog.

Anticipating Islam’s conquest of Europe and America at Al-Aqsa

Any European who would oppose Muslim immigration by arguing that the current waves of desperate people hoping to find safety and prosperity north of the Alps will pave the way for a hostile attempt to conquer Europe for Islam would certainly be denounced as an “Islamophobe.” But what do you call it when a preacher at the Al-Aqsa mosque – which is usually described as Islam’s “third-holiest” place – passionately announces that “soon, we will trample them [Europe’s Christians and Jews] underfoot, Allah willing”?

Europe will fall to Islam

In an address delivered some two weeks ago at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Sheikh Muhammad Ayed argued according to a translation provided by MEMRI that in Europe, “all the hearts are infused with hatred toward Muslims.” According to the Sheikh,

“Europe has become old and decrepit, and needs human reinforcement. […] they have lost their fertility, so they look for fertility in their midst. We will give them fertility! We will breed children with them, because we shall conquer their countries – whether you like it or not, oh Germans, oh Americans, oh French, oh Italians, and all those like you. Take the refugees! We shall soon collect them in the name of the coming Caliphate. We will say to you: These are our sons. Send them, or we will send our armies to you.”

If this sounds “Islamophobic,” the politically correct thing is of course to simply ignore this story – and this is just what most of the mainstream media seem to have done. It almost goes without saying that this is not the first time that politically inconvenient stories from the Muslim world have been ignored. Frequently these are stories that would show deeply ingrained Muslim Jew-hatred; however, the arguably very belated revelations in a recent New York Times report about the shocking “tolerance” adopted by the US military regarding the widespread sexual abuse of children by its Afghan allies also provide a more general indication of how eagerly western institutions apply double standards that downplay or ignore profound evils in Muslim societies.

Personally, I would agree that the above cited remarks by the Al-Aqsa preacher are not necessarily newsworthy. After all, one can find fanatics who come up with deranged rants in every creed. But since Muslims claim the Al-Aqsa mosque as Islam’s “third holiest” site, one should assume that the Islamic Waqf – which was left in charge of the whole Temple Mount after Israel’s victory in the Six Day War 1967 – would ensure that crackpots don’t get a platform in this supposedly so important mosque.

Unfortunately, however, the hate-filled rant envisioning a Muslim conquest of Europe was by no means a unique incident. Over the past year, MEMRI has documented several similar “sermons,” and one can only speculate how many go undocumented and what is preached in local mosques all over the Muslim world.

On July 24, Sheik Ahmad Al-Dweik declared in an address at the Al-Aqsa mosque that the “Caliphate” promised by Allah “will be the number one country in the world.”

“It will fight the U.S. and will bring it down. [The Caliphate] will eliminate the West in its entirety. […] Allah promised that there would be an Islamic state, and that we would prepare for the West whatever strength and steeds of war we can, in order to strike terror in the hearts of the enemies of Islam and of Allah, until we become those who command and Islam rules [the world].”

Similar remarks were made by two other persons speaking at the mosque in early July.

Islam will rule earth

In March, another preacher addressing worshipers at the Al-Aqsa mosque on two different occasions recalled Islam’s history of conquest and declared:

“today, the religion and ideology of Muhammad – including Islam’s men of Truth, the men of the Caliphate and of jihad – are laying siege to America, despite its nuclear arsenal. They are laying siege to Europe and to the fabricated democracy, the great lie.”

“America will be trampled by the hooves of the horses of the Caliph of the Muslims, Allah willing. This is the promise of Allah.”

In February, Palestinian political researcher Ahmad Al-Khatwani (Abu Hamza) urged his fellow Muslims at Al-Aqsa to treat “Islam in a political manner, on the basis of the Islamic creed in its political sense.” He explained:

“If the Muslims accept Islam as a political and ideological foundation and guide, they will be able to confront America and its war on the Muslims, and they will be able to vanquish it with ease. We pray that Allah will enable the Muslims to wage war on America and against its true terrorism. May He grant victory to the Muslims, and may they raid America on its own land and the land of heresy everywhere.”

In January, a cleric speaking at the Al-Aqsa mosque praised the terror attacks in Paris as “defense of the Prophet Muhammad.”

Last November, a Palestinian publicly prayed in the Al-Aqsa mosque:

“Oh Allah, annihilate America and its coalition. Oh Allah, enable us to cut off their heads. Oh Allah, help our brothers, the mujahideen in the land of Iraq and Syria.”

Annihilate America

These “sermons” seem to indicate – and encourage – support for the savagery of the Islamic State terror group.

In addition, there are plenty of examples showing incitement of Jew-hatred in the vilest and most primitive terms imaginable.

Jews are evil

The video clips show that most of these rants are not formal sermons with worshipers listening attentively. It seems more like a Muslim version of Speakers’ Corner, where anyone – any man, that is – who feels like delivering a hate-filled rant against the Jews and the West can do so at Islam’s “third holiest” site. Men and young boys mull around, some stop to listen; but in general, the reaction of the audience shows that no one regards it as unusual to come to a supposedly very sacred place of worship and hear non-Muslims demonized and Islam exalted as destined for the bloody subjugation of the non-Muslim world.

So it seems that Muslims are quite flexible when it comes to perceived violations of the sanctity of Al-Aqsa. As the recent violence has shown once again, the mere idea that non-Muslims might dare to even just think about a prayer while visiting the Temple Mount easily enrages Muslims, whereas they apparently don’t mind at all when self-styled “defenders” of Islam use the Al-Aqsa mosque to stockpile rocks, debris and incendiary devices to attack police and visitors. Likewise, nobody seems to have a problem with fanatics bellowing out hate-filled rants at Al-Aqsa on a fairly regular basis.

To be sure, there are a few individual Muslims who have sharply criticized Muslim conduct at Al-Aqsa and the Temple Mount, notably the well-known writer Qanta Ahmed who has repeatedly published heart-felt calls for tolerance and peaceful co-existence. Last December, a Jordanian preacher even explicitly suggested that a part of the Temple Mount platform “where there are trees” should “be allocated for the prayer of the Israelites.”

But those lone voices are drowned out by overwhelming support for Muslim hypocrisy and supremacism. As I have argued previously, the Temple Mount has become a symbol of Muslim fanaticism, and those who most like to invoke the platitudes about Islam as a religion of peace are perhaps most cowed by the constantly repeated threats of Muslim violence. The well-practiced reflex of deferring to threats of Muslim rage was starkly illustrated when the UN Security Council (UNSC) published a warning about the recent violence avoiding any mention of the historic Jewish ties to the Temple Mount by referring to the compound only with the Arabic term “Haram al-Sharif,” and demanding that “Muslim worshipers at the Haram al-Sharif must be allowed to worship in peace, free from violence, threats and provocation.”

As documented above, the reality ignored by the UNSC is that Muslim worshipers at the Haram al-Sharif are absolutely free to indulge in violence, threats and provocation.

While Israel may have little choice but to constantly try to appease the always simmering Muslim rage about as yet unfulfilled dreams of Islam’s global domination, Arab leaders and media try their best to pour fuel on the flames. Particularly noteworthy is perhaps that Al Jazeera chose to promote incitement even in English: there is little doubt that the news network knows (or could know) about the vile rants that are regularly delivered at Islam’s “third holiest” place; yet, it featured a contemptible “analysis” explaining “Why Israel wants a religious war over Al-Aqsa.”

This is quite plainly what psychologists call projection: since the days of the Palestinian leader who later became notorious as “Hitler’s mufti” – who is still considered a Palestinian hero – Arab and Muslim leaders, as well as activists like Ali Abunimah, have fabricated Jewish or “Zionist” threats to “Al-Aqsa” (increasingly understood not only as the mosque, but the entire Temple Mount compound) to incite often lethal violence.

It should not be overlooked that this incitement also serves as an important tool to prop up Muslim “solidarity.” The powerful Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was established in 1969/70 after the guards employed by the Islamic Waqf failed to prevent a mentally ill Australian Christian tourist from entering the mosque to set a fire there. At the OIC website, there is no hint of the negligence of the Islamic Waqf guards; instead, the implication is that the “criminal arson of Al-Aqsa Mosque” happened because Jerusalem is “occupied.” Palestinian media regularly repeat the libel that the Australian was a “Jewish terrorist;” most recently it was featured in TV programs and media commentaries marking the anniversary of the arson towards the end of August. Similarly, the previously cited Al Jazeera screed also implies that the 1969 arson happened because “Jews wanted to take the Noble Sanctuary.”

It is thus hardly surprising that the OIC currently plans once again “to hold an emergency meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the OIC Member States to discuss the Israeli violations in the occupied city of Al-Quds and ways to stop the Israeli aggressions on Al-Aqsa Mosque.” In addition, the OIC secretary general recently sent a letter to the heads of major international organizations voicing “his strong condemnation of the Israeli attacks on the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque” and warning “that burning parts of the mosque, attacking worshipers inside it by occupation forces, and arresting those stationed in its courtyards are crimes, aimed at freedom of worship.”

In the same letter, the OIC insists without the slightest sign of embarrassment that Jews and Christians should be denied freedom of worship on the Temple Mount.

This shameless hypocrisy is perhaps inevitable as long as freedom of worship for Muslims at Al-Aqsa includes the freedom to indulge in vile fantasies of Islam’s coming conquest of the non-Muslim world.

* * *

Cross-posted from my JPost blog.

The vicious campaign against Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ever since Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s latest book “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now” came out at the end of March, the writer who should be celebrated as a “hero for our time” has been maligned in numerous articles. It was arguably no surprise that Israel-haters like Max Blumenthal would try to denigrate Hirsi Ali, but it was pathetic to see that supposedly serious media professionals like Al Jazeera presenter Mehdi Hasan promoted Blumenthal’s smear campaign on Twitter.

MHassan vs AyaanHAThe latest attack against Hirsi Ali describes her as “dangerous” and sets out to explain why “we must reject her hateful worldview.” The sub-header hints already at the major reason: endorsing Hirsi Ali “insults and mocks a billion Muslims” – and as we know from many incidents, that can indeed be very “dangerous”… But of course, nobody knows that better than Ayaan Hirsi Ali herself.

What is particularly noteworthy about this attack against Hirsi Ali is that it is authored by a very successful self-described “Muslim” woman whose own life-story and life-style is quite unthinkable in any Muslim country. Indeed, in an interview Rula Jebreal gave to an Italian blog in 2009, she described herself as “married to Western values ​​of freedom and democracy, secularism and tolerance.”

RulaJebreal vs AyaanHA

Jebreal claims now that it is her “own, very different experience of Islam” that “compels” her “to challenge Hirsi Ali’s work.” She accuses Hirsi Ali of conflating Wahhabism with Islam and asserts that her own experience shows the “inherent pluralism” and “diversity” within Islam:

“As a Muslim woman married to a Jew and the mother of a Catholic daughter, I have lived in Jerusalem, Cairo, Rome and New York, and I am a regular visitor to other Muslim countries. What I have seen, particularly after the 9/11 attacks, was a broad rejection, not only of the extremism of Al-Qaeda but also of the authoritarian violence of Western-backed secular dictators — who, by stripping Muslims of their constitutional rights, jailing and torturing them, accomplished only the mass radicalization of young Muslims.

My father, a guard at al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, believed, like most of the world’s one billion Muslims, that Sharia is not fixed and monolithic, but always in flux, its core principles — such as preserving life, faith, intelligence, family and property — remaining sacrosanct, but requiring translation into more flexible rules to match our lives in a changing world.

He believed that context and interpretation matter when reading the Quran and the Hadiths, and that interpretations had changed along with centuries of social change. Context mattered since the early days of Islam. We always, for more than a millennium, understood text in context. We have 1,400 years of inherent pluralism within Islam to testify to that diversity within our religion.”

Apparently, Jebreal has never asked herself in how many Muslim countries she could live with her Jewish husband (Arthur Altschul Jr.) and her Catholic daughter if both wanted to freely and safely practice their religion. She has also apparently never wondered if her personal experiences and her impressions from her “regular” visits to Muslim countries provide a sound basis for general conclusions about Muslims views.

So according to her, “after the 9/11 attacks, [there] was a broad rejection … of the extremism of Al-Qaeda.” That fairly vague statement could perhaps pass as not entirely untrue, but the regular surveys by the respected Pew Research Center show a much more problematic reality than Jebreal would like to acknowledge: for years after 9/11, there was actually considerable admiration for bin Laden, particularly among Palestinians and in Jordan as well as in supposedly “moderate” Indonesia; likewise, Nigerian Muslims also were ardent bin Laden fans.

1 Pal confidence in binLaden

Pew surveys tracking Muslim support for “suicide bombing and other acts of violence that target civilians” also show that actually many millions of Muslims remain willing to endorse such acts “in defense of Islam.”

Moreover, all Pew surveys show that, among Muslim populations, Palestinians hold very extreme views on many issues. This is not only true when it comes to support for terrorism, but also when it comes to Sharia punishments. Jebreal, who often highlights her Palestinian identity, has a daughter who was born out-of-wedlock, and more than one-third of her fellow-Palestinians would have considered it justified if her family had killed her for this “stain” on their “honor.”

In most Muslim-majority countries, there is massive popular support for having Sharia as the country’s official law; and contrary to the benign views Jebreal attributes to her father, clear majorities of Sharia supporters in North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia, want to see criminals mutilated and those who leave Islam executed. In addition, huge majorities of Muslims condemn homosexuality and sex outside of marriage as immoral, and among many Muslim populations, clear majorities want to see adultery punished by stoning.

Similarly, Jebreal claims that “most of the world’s one billion Muslims [believe] that Sharia is not fixed and monolithic, but always in flux.” As a matter of documented fact, however, overwhelming majorities of Muslims believe Sharia is “the revealed word of God,” and particularly observant Muslims who pray several times a day tend to insist that there can be only a single interpretation of Sharia.

Jebreal may have her own, personal “experience of Islam,” but it is clearly not representative of well-documented mainstream Muslim views, which are – certainly in the context of the 21st century – often reactionary, fundamentalist and extremist. But since Jebreal states that it is her own “experience of Islam” that “compels” her “to challenge Hirsi Ali’s work,” her apparent ignorance of prevalent Muslim attitudes and views reduces this purported “challenge” to just another pathetic attempt to malign Hirsi Ali and discredit her entirely justified arguments about the urgency of a reformation of Islam.

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First published at my JPost blog in May.

Insulting Islam: the flogging of Raif Badawi

Aptly described as “the survivors’ issue,” the new edition of the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo reportedly “sold out within minutes;” though for this week, the now so tragically famous publication will come out in five million copies instead of the normal print run of 60,000. But since the magazine’s defiant staff once again put a caricature of Mohammad on the cover, there are already – once again – plenty of complaints, accusations and threats. An Al Jazeera contributor sharply criticized that “Charlie Hebdo continued with its provocative editorial line” and failed to respect “the red lines” and “all of the calls issued by Muslim clerics.” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan’s King Abdullah, who had enjoyed their photo opportunity during last Sunday’s solidarity march in Paris, rushed to condemn the new Charlie Hebdo cartoons, while the International Union of Muslim Scholars ominously warned of “dire consequences to the continued insults to the Prophet.”

It is 2015, and Muslim leaders once again tell their fellow-believers that drawings in an originally fairly obscure European publication are such a terrible insult to Islam that outrage and even “dire consequences” are justified.

But what is not an insult to Islam is that in 2015, Saudi Arabia, an “Islamic state based on principles prescribed by the Qur’an” and governed by a monarchy claiming a “deep sense of responsibility toward Islam,” is putting on a weekly spectacle of sadism in the name of Islam. Via Amnesty International, here is an eyewitness account of what happened in front of the al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah last Friday, and what the pious Saudi regime wants to happen there for another 19 weeks every Friday:

“When the worshippers saw the police van outside the mosque, they knew someone would be flogged today.

They gathered in a circle. Passers-by joined them and the crowd grew. But no one knew why the man brought forward was about to be punished. Is he a killer, they asked? A criminal? Does he not pray?

Raif Badawi had been brought to the square in front of al-Jafali mosque in Jeddah just after midday. […] He was handcuffed and shackled but his face was not covered – everyone could see his face.

Still shackled, Raif stood up in the middle of the crowd. […]

A security officer approached him from behind with a huge cane and started beating him.

Raif raised his head towards the sky, closing his eyes and arching his back. He was silent, but you could tell from his face and his body that he was in real pain.

The officer beat Raif on his back and legs, counting the lashes until they reached 50.

The punishment took about 5 minutes. It was very quick, with no break in between lashes.

When it was over, the crowd shouted, ‘Allah-hu Akbar! Allah-hu Akbar!’”

Yes, Allah-hu Akbar, it is 2015, and a father of three can be sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes by a pious Muslim regime that will drag him in front of a crowd of its pious Muslim subjects to have him flogged publicly for the unspeakable crime of having tried to encourage political and social debate with his entirely reasonable, if rather restrained, writings.

Are there any Muslim leaders, any Muslim scholars, who consider this medieval barbarity an insult to Islam? Are there any sizeable Muslim grass root movements to protest against Saudi sadism – the regular public floggings, the beheadings on “Chop-chop square,” the absurd trials of witches – all of it justified as required by Islam?

Apparently not. Nothing that Muslims do in the name of Islam can be as insulting to their religion as the drawings of European cartoonists.

Saudi blogger Badawi

Update:

Also posted at Harry’s Place and my JPost blog.

News reports now indicate that today’s scheduled flogging of Badawi has been “postponed ‘for medical reasons’. ” The Telegraph report concludes with the observation (my emphasis):

“an indefinite postponement would be a neat compromise for the Saudi authorities, who would be reluctant to be seen to bow before western pressure, particularly at a time when activists are calling for wider political change in the country, as across the Arab world.

They are also bound by the opposite pressure internally, with large numbers of traditionalist Saudis taking to social media to defend the punishment, and accusing the authorities of being weak in the face of insults to Islam in the West – for example from the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in publications like Charlie Hebdo.”

So this suggests that the Saudi condemnation of the terror attacks in Paris is paid for by the likes of Raif Badawi: to burnish their “moderate” image – that western politicians and media so eagerly and cynically help to promote – the Saudi regime will join in the condemnation of some spectacular Islamist terror attacks like those in Paris; but at the same time, it will assure its hardline supporters at home that the regime remains committed to defending the violent and repressive form of Islam it has always championed.

Indeed, Saudi support for spreading their peculiar and extremely intolerant version of Islam is an important point brought up in the debate of this post at Harry’s Place. Here are a few links to relevant reports on the “astronomical” amounts of money Saudi Arabia has been spending for at least two decades to radicalize Muslims around the world:

Saudi Government Paper: ‘Billions Spent by Saudi Royal Family to Spread Islam to Every Corner of the Earth’ (2002)

Wahhabism: A deadly scripture (2007)

Saudi Arabia funding fuels jihadist terror (2013)

Finally, though I rarely agree with The Guardian when it comes to their coverage of the Middle East, they published a great editorial on this subject today. Particularly noteworthy are the “lessons for the world” highlighted by The Guardian:

“The first is a much-needed reminder of their bare-faced hypocrisy. Saudi is, so far as its rulers can make it, closed to all foreign ideas. They equate atheism with terrorism, and propose to apply the same punishments for both. At the same time it is a fountain of Islamist poison, of antisemitism, of narrow-minded and fanatical preachers, and of young men who leave to fight in other people’s countries and help to destroy them in the cause of Wahhabist Islam. Let us not forget that 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudis and that Saudi money has funded cruel and pointless wars all over the Middle East. If the kingdom now draws back in horror at the spectacle of Islamic State rampaging through the river valleys of Iraq and Syria, it is the horror of Dr Frankenstein seeing his monster walking.

The second is the spineless hypocrisy of western governments, not least our own, who take their oil, and hope for their money. When the spokespeople for the British Foreign Office assure us, as they always do, that there are forces of reform within the kingdom, shame should make the words taste like soap in their mouths.

In this country we have censored television programmes and cancelled a major bribery inquiry rather than disturb Saudi sensibilities, and those are just the cases that came to public knowledge. The punishment of Mr Badawi is a reminder to us all that the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is an enemy of free speech, of free thought, of honesty and of courage wherever they may be found in the world today. The British government should remember the slogan used against the mafia in Sicily: to be silent is to be complicit. Last week, many expressed their solidarity by saying we are all Charlie Hebdo: it is as true and just as necessary to remember and proclaim that we are all Raif Badawi.”

By way of a further update, the Times of Israel (TOI) reports that some 500 Palestinian Muslims demonstrated against Charlie Hebdo at the Al Aqsa mosque after Friday prayers, burning the French flag and chanting “’jihad, jihad, we will die in the name of God’ followed by ‘Allahu Akbar’ … and ‘Muhammad [is] our master and leader forever.’”

According to TOI, “Muslims across Middle East cities marched on Friday to protest the publication, as Qatar warned the image would ‘fuel hatred’.” The largest rally was reportedly in Jordan, “where around 2,500 protesters took to the streets of the capital Amman.”

By contrast, it seems that protests against Badawi’s flogging and imprisonment were held mostly in western countries.

 

Christmas propaganda from Palestine

It’s this time of year again when Palestinians and their supporters gear up to use Christianity’s most popular holy day for their own ugly political purposes. Elsewhere it may be the season of goodwill to all, but for the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), it’s just another welcome opportunity to stir up ill will towards Israel and the Jews.

For this purpose, the PLO has just released a short animated clip, which the PLO Negotiations Affairs Department (PLO-NAD) helpfully tweeted with the hashtag #ChristmasUnderOccupation.

PLO Xmas propaganda

The clip shows Santa passing all the usual symbols of Palestinian victimization: the evil kippa-wearing Israeli settler, armed and accompanied by a fearsome dog; a checkpoint guarded by an armed Israeli soldier; a sad girl with her teddy bear in front of a ruined house, and of course the security barrier built in response to the terrorist carnage of the Al-Aqsa intifada. But the best part of the clip is arguably the short text that accompanies it, which explains that on Christmas, “Palestine celebrates the birth of one of its own, Jesus Christ.”

Perhaps one should view this as a huge improvement over some of the other “Jesus was a Palestinian”-fantasies that are part of the annual Palestinian Christmas propaganda routine – last year, for example, an op-ed in the official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida proclaimed:

“Jesus is a Palestinian; the self-sacrificing Yasser Arafat is a Palestinian; Mahmoud Abbas, the messenger of peace on earth, is a Palestinian. How great is this nation of the holy Trinity!”

Given that Palestinians are used to being indulged by the world, there is indeed no reason why they should care that elsewhere, practicing Christians acknowledge history and think that it is important to remember

“that the first Christmas was first and foremost a Jewish event. Mary, Joseph, the innkeeper, the shepherds, the baby: they were all Jewish. And as the baby Jesus moved toward adolescence and adulthood, it was Jewish religion, Jewish literature, Jewish culture and Jewish history that shaped his personality and his mind.”

The fact that the historic Jesus was a Jew is of course also reflected in the concept of shared Judeo-Christian values. But all this is merrily ignored by Palestinians and their supporters, who don’t seem the least bit embarrassed to press Jesus into the service of Palestinian nationalism – never mind the fact that the declared goal of this nationalism is a state with Islam as “the official religion” and the “principles of Islamic Shari’a” as “the main source of legislation.”

In this context, it is rather interesting to ponder the popular Palestinian propaganda fantasies about the terrible hardships that would be inflicted by cruel Israeli soldiers on a present-day Joseph and the pregnant Mary on their way from Nazareth to Bethlehem.  For this Christmas season, the PLO-NAD chose to retweet a tweet by the virulently anti-Israel (not to say antisemitic) website “If Americans knew,” which apparently sponsored a billboard in Atlanta depicting Joseph and Mary being blocked from reaching Bethlehem by the security barrier.

PLO Xmas propaganda2

That Palestinian propagandists would choose such an image is a perfect illustration of their confidence that when it comes to maligning Israel, neither facts nor Christian beliefs matter. After all, the historical Joseph and Mary were Jews, and according to the Christian Bible, they travelled “out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he [Joseph] was of the house and lineage of David); To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.”

Can you imagine what would happen nowadays to a Jew from Nazareth who claims to be of the lineage of David and goes to Bethlehem because he regards it as the “city of David” and therefore his hometown?

I’m afraid the best case scenario is that the international media would denounce him and his pregnant wife Mary as extremist settlers who have only themselves to blame if anything happened to them and their newborn baby. And one thing is for sure: if this present-day Joseph tried to buy any property in Palestinian-controlled Bethlehem, any Palestinian willing to sell to him would risk being either lynched or sentenced to death for the crime of selling property to a Jew.

But the arguably most distasteful aspect of the annual Palestinian Christmas propaganda is the implicit belittling of the desperate situation of Christians all over the Muslim Middle East. To be sure, the West’s politically correct elites also don’t like to dwell on the fact that Christians nowadays suffer more persecution than any other religious group, and of course it counts for little that Christianity was born in the Middle East long before the region was conquered by Islam. By now it seems that the millennia-old native Christian communities may be facing the same fate suffered by the ancient Jewish communities of the Muslim Middle East. As Robin Harris put it in a Spectator column: “The ‘Sunday’ people are now following the ‘Saturday’ people out of the Middle East.”

Well, as a matter of fact, the “Saturday people” are still clinging to a tiny patch of the Middle East – and Palestinian propagandists work not just on Christmas, but all year round to create the impression that this is what ails the region.

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First published at my JPost blog.

The Temple Mount as symbol of Muslim fanaticism

In recent weeks, there have been numerous media reports warning about escalating tensions and possible violence on the Temple Mount.  Even if you just read the headlines and leads, the situation sounds pretty dire, as this selection from Al Monitor, Sky News and the Washington Post illustrates:

Israeli Restrictions at Al-Aqsa Mosque Could Spark Violence: Israel is imposing tighter restrictions on Palestinian Muslims wishing to access Al-Aqsa Mosque while allowing more Jewish visits that disrespect Islamic customs.”

Sacred Shrines Become ‘Ticking Time Bomb: ‘The chief cleric at one of the world’s holiest mosques tells Sky News that acts of Jewish prayer could spark a regional war.”

Jewish activists want to pray on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, raising alarm in Muslim world.”

These headlines and leads also tell us already who is to blame for this potentially explosive situation: Jews who want to visit the Temple Mount and maybe even pray there. Well, who could imagine a greater outrage than Jews wanting to visit and perhaps pray at the historic site of the Jewish Temples?  And who would dispute that followers of the “religion of peace” have every right to react to such an outrage with threats of massive violence? After all, Muslims are used to having their holiest sites off-limits to “infidels.” True, frustrated journalists who don’t make it into Mecca and Medina may point out that “You don’t have to be a Catholic to go to the Vatican. You don’t have to be Jewish to go to the Western Wall… You don’t have to be Buddhist to hear the Dalai Lama speak” – but there is obviously no reason to expect similar openness from Islam. Indeed, as a Guardian contributor casually remarked: “a billion Muslims worldwide would go ballistic” if Jews were allowed to freely visit the Temple Mount and pray there. And of course, in the Guardian as elsewhere, it’s the Jews who are the extremists.

However, this kind of reporting and commentary isn’t as biased as it may seem, because it unfortunately reflects the view of the Israeli authorities.  As a recent Jerusalem Post report about violent attacks by Muslims explains:

“Although the [Israeli] Supreme Court has upheld Jewish prayer rights at the Temple Mount – which is overseen by the Wakf Muslim religious trust – the court also allows police to prevent any form of worship there if they believe such activities will incite a ‘disturbance to the public order.’ […] Asked what has precipitated the pronounced uptick in violence, Police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said Arabs are growing increasingly incensed by religious Jews who increasingly illegally pray there in an act of civil disobedience. ‘The Arabs don’t like Jews coming there to pray, and an extreme group of Jews is going there to provoke them,’ he said.”

In other words, Israel’s Supreme Court has acknowledged that Jews have the right to pray on the Temple Mount, but it has also given Muslims a veto right: if they don’t like it and become violent, then they’ll get their way and Jews who exercise their supposed right are accused of engaging in a provocative “act of civil disobedience.” In practice that means that the Saudi policy of treating “infidels” like dogs who have to be kept off Muslim holy grounds is all too often also enforced on the Temple Mount.

Temple Mount threats

 Sky News screenshot

While I myself am not religious and have little sympathy for the political agenda of the more prominent activists who push for greater access to the Temple Mount, I don’t quite agree with the conclusion offered in a recent article by Avi Issacharoff that “[r]adical Muslim and Jewish groups at times seem to have forged an unholy alliance to push for holy war.”

As most of the reports on anything that happens on the Temple Mount emphasize, it is probably the most explosive spot on earth – but it is so explosive because the whole world takes it for granted that it is perfectly acceptable that “a billion Muslims worldwide would go ballistic” if they had to acknowledge the fact that first and foremost Jews, but also Christians have a historic attachment to the Temple Mount and that the claim of exclusive Muslim control is a ridiculous anachronism rooted in the glorification of Islamic imperialism and supremacism.

One of the very few Muslims to publicly acknowledge the long pre-Islamic history of the Temple Mount and its significance is Qanta Ahmed, who earlier this year published a fascinating four-part report on her visit to the site. In the final part of her report, she recounts her visit to the Al Aqsa mosque, where her Muslim guide showed her some massive ancient columns, explaining: “This was the entrance to the Second Jewish Temple that was here before Al Aqsa. You can see it is absolutely distinct.”

Reflecting on this sight, Qanta Ahmed writes:

“Somehow, these hardy arches, these massive pillars had escaped even the Romans’ determined destruction of the Second Temple. Before this place was made ours, it had clearly been theirs. We were on borrowed ground.”

Already in a melancholic mood from the decay and neglect she witnessed all over Islam’s supposedly third-holiest site – something noted also more recently by another Muslim visitor – Qanta Ahmed ends her report with a somber conclusion:

“Nowhere in my long ago travels and imperfect memory is the anoxia of Islamism more apparent than [in] the spent bosom of the Farthest Mosque [i.e. Al Aqsa]. Here, we have become the Farthest Muslims. I feel our departure most acutely in Jerusalem, the world’s gentle biographer, the beating, romantic heart of all belief, to all People, of all Books. Jerusalem, dear Muslims, is home to a gilded dome rendered hollow, little more than a fading husk to the richness once contained therein. She is ours no more.”

Once we hear even remotely similar sentiments from Muslim leaders, we will know that the Middle East is on the mend and peace is really possible.

In the meantime, it would be already a big step in the right direction if journalists and commentators hesitated a bit before they nonchalantly report – and implicitly justify – threats of Muslim violence. Ironically enough, the recent “Islamophobia” report of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) lectures us that the notion “that Muslims are inclined to violence including revenge and retaliation” is “Islamophobic.”  So the next time a Sky News reporter hears the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem threatening that the “whole region will be engulfed by war” if Jews want to pray on the Temple Mount, he could perhaps ask the Grand Mufti to explain this threat in view of the historic Jewish attachment to the Temple Mount and claims that Islam is a “religion of peace.” And maybe next time a Guardian blogger – particularly if he happens to be a Christian priest – writes about how easily “a billion Muslims worldwide would go ballistic,” he could ask himself what it would take for him to write with equal understanding about the threat of a billion Christians worldwide going ballistic.

As long as the media depict Muslim violence in the name of Islam as an inevitable reaction to any perceived provocation and give a free pass to the Muslim leaders who never tire to threaten such violence, we can regard the OIC definition of “Islamophobia” as no more than a cynical political tool that allows Muslim leaders to incite violence with impunity – and we can expect that the Temple Mount will remain a dangerous symbol of Muslim fanaticism.

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First published at my JPost blog on December 12, 2013