Tag Archives: Israel

Zahra Billoo’s “pro-Palestinian” antisemitism

You don’t have to be a scholar specializing in the study of antisemitism to realize that the idea that Jews enjoy doing evil is a fundamentally antisemitic notion. But like too many others, Zahra Billoo seems to think that as long as she substitutes “Zionists” or “Israel” for Jews, it’s terribly unfair – and indeed downright “racist” and “Islamophobic” – when she gets criticized for her openly displayed bigotry.

Billoo, who is the Executive Director of the San Francisco branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), was obviously infuriated when the Women’s March swiftly rescinded her recent appointment to its board soon after her long record of social media posts that demonize Israel in clearly antisemitic terms caused an outcry. 

Billoo seems to have embraced extremist views for more than a decade. In 2007, she proudly linked to an article quoting her “lil’ brother” Ahmed Billoo, who told The Jewish Journal that “the righteousness of suicide bombers needs to be evaluated on a ‘case-by-case basis.’” In an attempt to support his reluctance to condemn suicide bombings, Ahmed Billoo explained that he believed they were “something that Islam justifies,” adding that it was “very rare that I meet someone who says suicide bombings in Palestine are not justified.” 

Then as now, Zahra Billoo had little reason to be proud of her brother, though she only recently declared once again: “My brother @AhmedIbnAslam makes me proud often.” Ahmed Billoo is now a cleric, and just in the week before his sister praised him again, he led a trip to Jerusalem for his employer, the “Institute of Knowledge” in California. While waiting for his return flight at Ben Gurion Airport, Billoo reportedly posted a no longer publicly accessible — but archived — Facebook update announcing that he was “feeling annoyed.” He added an invocation in Arabic that reads in translation: “Oh God, reduce their numbers, exterminate them, and don’t leave a single one alive.” The hashtag “Zionists” in English clarified whom Ahmed Billoo wanted exterminated.

But it is Zahra Billoo’s own openly displayed obsession with the world’s only Jewish state that leaves little doubt about her passionate hatred and unrestrained bigotry. While many people apparently assume that the intensity of her resentments might be explained by a Palestinian family background, Billoo’s parents immigrated to the US from Pakistan. In view of the fact that Billoo has precious little to say about Pakistan’s truly atrocious human rights record it seems justified to conclude that her hatred for Israel cannot be explained by a principled concern for human rights. 

However, Billoo is a longtime close friend of the prominent Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour, who now rushed to her defense, insisting that “Zahra is more than a few tweets,” hailing her as “a long time champion of human rights and a steadfast ally and supporter of the Palestinian people.” 

But it is deeply dishonest to pretend that this is about “a few tweets.” Anyone who tries to pick some examples to illustrate Billoo’s bigotry faces an embarrassment of riches. Billoo has repeatedly equated Israelis with Nazis and shown a measure of sympathy for Hamas, declaring that “Blaming Hamas for firing rockets at [Apartheid] Israel is like blaming a woman for punching her rapist.” She has also opined that “the Israeli Defense Forces, or the IDF, are no better than ISIS. They are both genocidal terrorist organizations.” In another attempt to convey her sense of Israel’s infinite and cynical evil, she tweeted: “‘Welcome to Israel. Where chanting “Death to Arabs” is democracy, running over children is equality, and firing on funerals is peace.’”

Then there is a whole series of tweets, posted between May 2011 and January 2015, that reflect the deeply antisemitic idea that Jews enjoy perpetrating evils that the rest of humanity abhors. In May 2011, Billoo declared: “Israel commits war crimes as a hobby.” A year later, she tweeted: “Apartheid Israel kills children as a hobby” and “Apartheid Israel violates international human rights laws as a hobby.” In 2013, Billoo once again returned to this theme, asserting “Apartheid Israel commits war crimes as a hobby, funded by US tax dollars,” which she also repeated in 2015:  “#Israel commits war crimes as a hobby.”

Demonstrating that she has not changed her views, Billoo posted a thread at the end of September, denouncing Israel once again as “an apartheid, racist, terrorist state” that “commits war crimes as a hobby;” she also asserted that “American Muslims who work with Zionist institutions” should be held “accountable for their complicity in state terror” and insisted that there was no difference between joining the notorious Islamist terror group Daesh/ISIS and joining the Israeli army. Billoo further opined: “If we’re going to counter violent extremism, let’s start with those who support Apartheid Israel.” By beginning her thread with a quote from Islamic texts, Billoo indicated that she considers it her “religious obligation” to speak out against the “evil” that is the world’s only Jewish state, and she expressed the hope that this intolerable evil would eventually be eliminated: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will InshaAllah be free.”

The Nazis aptly summarized their Jew-hatred with the slogan “The Jews are our misfortune;” Zahra Billoo’s Jew-hatred could be summed up with the slogan “The Jewish state is our misfortune.” Moreover, her statement that “Apartheid Israel kills children as a hobby” unmistakably echoes the blood libel, and it is not the only time Billoo alluded to this enduring favorite of Jew-haters. In May, she linked to an article reporting about the opening of branches of the Israeli-founded restaurant chain Burgerim in the San Francisco area and commented: “When they say they sell halal meat, I can’t help but wonder, when [what] does it mean to drain the animal’s blood if your company’s identity is drenched in Palestinian blood?” 

Several of the Twitter users who responded to Billoo’s tweet noted that she invoked the blood libel; one retorted acerbically: “I love my burgers dripping in blood and I also make my Passover Matzoh with the blood of children. It’s delicious and also Halal.”

Given that Billoo has almost 34 000 Twitter followers, she may not have seen the responses, and she may also not have seen a blog post that highlighted her updated blood libel. But it is also unlikely that she would have cared much if she had noticed the criticism. Like her good friend Linda Sarsour, Zahra Billoo despises anyone who dares to notice contemporary manifestations of antisemitism propagated by the left. That includes the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), to which Billoo devoted a Facebook post and an almost identical Twitter thread last year in order to educate her followers about the ADL’s supposedly vicious record and odious history. 

If you consider an organization that has been fighting antisemitism and other forms of bigotry for more than a century as an unmitigated evil that must be denounced and shunned, you shouldn’t be surprised when lots of people doubt that you’re just out to criticize Israeli policies.

In this context it’s particularly depressing that Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib decided to issue a full-throated declaration of solidarity with Billoo. Tlaib linked to a thread in which Billoo attributed her ousting from the Women’s March board to “an Islamophobic smear campaign led by the usual antagonists,” which she identified as mainly “right-wingers, from the President’s son to the Anti-Defamation League and troll armies.” It seems fair to assume that Tlaib intended to endorse Billoo’s take when she wrote: “They won’t silence us for speaking out against human rights violations. They will lie, smear our names and call us anti this and that, but we always be pro- humanity & we have the truth on our side.”

Well, if you think it is “pro-humanity” to endorse the kind of blatant antisemitism Zahra Billoo propagates, you probably agree with all the Jew-haters who have thought for centuries that Jews are not quite human.

I can easily imagine that neither Rashida Tlaib nor Linda Sarsour nor Zahra Billoo would think I have any standing to define what’s “pro-Palestinian,” but if they insist that it’s “pro-Palestinian” to update age-old anti-Semitic stereotypes by substituting “Israel” or “Zionists” for “Jews”, their Palestinian cause can only attract vile bigots. 

***

First published at my TOI blog.

Omar Suleiman and the vile propaganda and incitement from American Muslims for Palestine

Almost two years ago, I noticed the group “American Muslims for Palestine” (AMP) thanks to their ardent support for convicted Palestinian terrorist and US immigration fraudster Rasmea Odeh. I didn’t cross-post the piece I wrote back then, but will do so now (see below) because the group has once again come to my attention, this time due to the support it has been getting from Omar Suleiman, a prominent American-Palestinian imam about whom I’ve written before (here and here and here).

Suleiman has recently been again in the news after he was invited to give a prayer in Congress; soon afterwards, the information I documented about his intense hatred for Israel was apparently unearthed and led to a controversy. Needless to say, Suleiman rejected the criticism as unfair and even claimed to fiercely oppose antisemitism. 

I plan to explain why I don’t think Suleiman’s claims and perfunctory expressions of vague remorse are all that trustworthy. While I have a hopefully soon to be published op-ed pending (now available here), I have much more material than I could present in the op-ed; therefore, I will also post some updates like this one, which focuses on Suleiman’s recent collaboration with AMP. 

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) profiled AMP in a report that includes activities up to 2014/15 and describes the group as “the leading organization providing anti-Zionist training and education to students and Muslim community organizations in the country. Founded in 2005, AMP promotes extreme anti-Israel views and has at times provided a platform for anti-Semitism under the guise of educating Americans about ‘the just cause of Palestine and the rights of self-determination.’” 

The ADL report also notes that “AMP has its organizational roots in the Islamic Association of Palestine (IAP), an anti-Semitic group that served as the main propaganda arm for Hamas in the United States until it was dissolved in 2004. Since its creation in 2005, AMP continues to work closely with some former IAP leaders who currently hold positions as AMP board members.”

Yet I found that in December 2017, Suleiman joined an AMP demonstration in front of the White House “in protest of Trump’s Jerusalem declaration.” This protest was held immediately after President Trump’s declaration that the US would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move its embassy there. Suleiman reacted to the announcement by posting an image of the Al-Aqsa mosque and tweeting: “Your embassy is as illegitimate as the occupation it seeks to legitimize.” #FreePalestine#Jerusalem

Later in December 2017, Suleiman wrote a fundraising appeal for AMP, describing the group as “a leader in the fight for justice in Palestine” and as “the only Muslim organization in the U.S. working exclusively on the issue of Palestinian rights.” Echoing his previous falsifications of history, Suleiman claimed that “Jerusalem historically has been a place of safety for people of all faiths,” and after emphasizing the special holiness of the city for Muslims, he asserted: “Palestine is a place from which many of us draw our history, and it is incumbent upon us to protect its sanctity and its native inhabitants who are being ethnically cleansed and their identity erased.”

Suleiman ended his appeal by admonishing his Muslim readers: “Resisting injustice and oppression is an integral part of our obligations toward God and humanity.”

[An archived copy of this text is here.] 

In late November of last year, Suleiman announced that he was on his way to attend an AMP convention. When you click on the attached image, you can see the poster advertising the AMP gathering.  The poster referred to Israel’s establishment in 1948 with the statement “70 YEARS LATER COMMITTED TO RETURN;” the demand was also presented visually by figures carrying Palestinian flags and walking towards a gate shaped in the outline of the area between the Jordan river and the sea, and leading to the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount. AMP thus left no doubt that their conference advocated the elimination of Israel and the establishment of a Palestinian state from the river to the sea. 

A month later, Suleiman once again wrote a fundraising appeal for AMP, this time railing against “ridiculous and illegal” efforts to pass laws combating discriminatory BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaigns targeting Israel. The text was illustrated with a photo of Suleiman speaking at the AMP conference in November in front of the poster advertising the conference.

[Archived here]

This clearly shows that less than half a year before Suleiman was invited to lead Congress in a prayer, he was agitating for BDS in co-operation with a radical group that rejects Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. 

* * *

Here is what I wrote about AMP two years ago:

The vile propaganda and incitement from American Muslims for Palestine

Maybe I’m late, but I recently discovered “American Muslims for Palestine” (AMP) It’s not a particularly prominent organization: it was founded in 2006; its Twitter account has some 6,600 followers, while the Facebook page – which describes the outfit as a “Public & Government Service in Falls Church, Virginia” – has some 15K followers. I’d love to know which government is behind this “service”…

In any case, the main “service” offered at the time of this writing is a frantic effort on Twitter to promote the hashtag #HonorRasmea in support of convicted supermarket bomber and US immigration fraudster Rasmea Odeh. I have to confess that it strikes me as not terribly prudent when groups that surely oppose restrictions on Muslim immigration to the US cheer a convicted terrorist like Odeh – though I guess the Trump administration will only be too happy to have this kind of opponents.

Consider this tweet: “If more people were like her, we would live in a more just world #HonorRasmea and come to her farewell.” Yeah, if more people bombed supermarkets full of Jewish shoppers and then sneaked into the US by lying about their terrorist past, it would be really great, wouldn’t it.

Another “service” provided recently by AMP was a demonstration with “Friday prayers outside Israeli embassy;” the demonstrators were mobilized with the blatant lie “AQSA UNDER ATTACK” – with “Aqsa” referring to the entire Temple Mount.

Just how low AMP will go is nicely illustrated in a slideshow that is featured on the group’s website under the title “Jerusalem in the crosshairs.” 

We learn that it all started in December 1917, when the British marched into Jerusalem, “ending hundreds of years of Ottoman rule of Jerusalem, ushering in an era of colonization and dispossession. Despite Palestinians’ best efforts, the Judaization of Jerusalem has been ongoing since this period and exacerbated after the June 1967 war.” 

Right – who wouldn’t be sentimental about the good old days of “Ottoman rule of Jerusalem,” when the city became the ‘backwater of a dying empire’ – but at least non-Muslims “lived under numerous restrictions” and were “subject to special taxes” that had to be paid “both to the Turks and the local Moslem authorities.” Glorious!!!

And naturally, when such glorious times end and non-Muslims, especially Jews, are no longer treated as second- or third-class citizens, rampant “Judaization” sets in. Horrific!!!

The slides are full of distortions and outright lies, which are all too obviously meant to incite and justify Muslim rage and terrorism. 

The slide for June 7, 1967 is entitled: “Israeli forces occupy Al Aqsa;” the text mentions the raising of the Israeli flag on the Dome of the Rock – but not that the flag was quickly taken down; it also claims that Israeli soldiers “burned the Quran,” prevented worshippers from praying and confiscated the keys. Needless to say, there is no slide explaining that, in a concession that may have no precedent in history, Israel quickly handed control of Judaism’s holiest site back to the Muslim Wakf. 

The intentionally misleading use of “Al Aqsa” for all of the Temple Mount in many of the slides clearly serves to add fuel to the fires of religious passions; one example is the slide for January 28, 1976, which asserts: “Israeli Supreme Court rules that Jews have the right to pray in Al Aqsa.” The next slide claims that “Members of the extremist Temple Mount movement storm Al Aqsa and raise the Israeli flag with the Torah.” The accompanying image is taken from a 2015 Daily Mail article about renovations at the Dome of the Rock and shows the shrine with two regular Israeli flags (without Torah!!!) in the foreground, i.e. clearly not on the Temple Mount, let alone the Al Aqsa mosque. 

No less vile than the incitement propagated by AMP are the justifications offered for the murderous Al Aqsa intifada and the more recent “stabbing intifada.”

Since American Muslims for Palestine prominently emphasize that they want “to educate the American public and media about issues related to Palestine and its rich cultural and historical heritage,” it’s a pity that the historic Palestinian leader who clearly inspires their efforts gets no mention in the slideshow. But at least Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas knows how to honor this important Palestinian hero: he has repeatedly paid homage to Haj Amin al-Husseini (a.k.a. “Hitler’s Mufti”), praising him for having “sponsored the struggle from the beginning.”

The NYT’s false claims about ethnic cleansing in Jaffa


A recent article in the New York Times (NYT) travel section described Jaffa as “Tel Aviv’s Unexpected Luxury Hotspot” and included several photos that should make everyone want to visit. Unsurprisingly, it also drew the ire of anti-Israel activists, who claimed the piece ignored Palestinians. The NYT responded to the resulting fury by revising the article and appending a contrite “Editors’ Note” that was promptly mocked. As leading anti-Israel activist Yousef Munayyer put it: “Ooops, we forgot Palestinians exist!” 

According to the editor’s note, the revision also included mentioning “the expulsion of many [Jaffa] residents in 1948.” Indeed, the article now includes a sentence that claims: “In 1948, when the State of Israel was founded, most of Jaffa’s Arab residents were forcibly removed from their homes.” 

So I’m afraid another correction is necessary.

I wrote a post on Jaffa’s relevant history a few years ago in response to similarly false claims by veteran Israel-hater Ali Abunimah, who insisted that “Zionist gangs perpetrated the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian coastal city of Jaffa.” 

When I researched the post, I found an Al-Ahram Special from 1998 “commemorating 50 years of Arab dispossession since the creation of the State of Israel.” On pp.91-93 there is an eyewitness account covering the situation in Jaffa between late 1947 to May 1948 under the title “After the matriculation.” The author, Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, is a former resident of Jaffa with impeccable anti-Zionist credentials – which is to say he would have described in detail all the horrors if there was any truth to the NYT claim that “most of Jaffa’s Arab residents were forcibly removed from their homes.”

However, recalling his last months in his hometown, Abu-Lughod wrote:

“No sooner had the UN General Assembly passed its partition resolution in November 1947, than Palestine was torn apart by a war waged between its two historically antagonistic communities — Palestinian Arabs and Palestinian Jews. […]  The first shots were exchanged between Jaffa and Tel Aviv on the eve of 30 November 1947 during a three-day general protest strike declared by the Arab Higher Committee. […] On the eve of the UN Partition Resolution, Jaffa’s Arab population numbered over 70,000. By and large they supported the traditional Palestinian leadership headed by Haj Amin Al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti.”

Understandably, Abu-Lughod, who was by then a professor of political science, didn’t mention the fact that the man who headed the popular “traditional Palestinian leadership” in the second half of the 1940s had spent the first half of the decade in Berlin, where he lived in considerable comfort as a well-paid guest and committed ally of Nazi Germany. Indeed, a 1948 magazine article described Al-Husseini as “Hitler of the Holy Land.”

Abu-Lughod then goes on to note that most Arabs in Jaffa and elsewhere seemed confident that “as the country belonged to the Arabs, they were the ones who would defend their homeland with zeal and patriotism, which the Jews – being of many scattered countries and tongues, and moreover being divided into Ashkenazi and Sephardic – would inevitably lack. In short, there was a belief that the Jews were generally cowards.”

When this belief proved mistaken, people started to leave Jaffa. According to Abu-Lughod, at first mainly the rich left, but as more and more people began to flee the fighting, the “National Committee…decided to levy a tax on every family who insisted on leaving.” Abu-Lughod volunteered to help with collecting this “tax:”

“I worked in a branch of the committee based in the headquarters of the Muslim Youth Association near the port of Jaffa. Our job consisted mainly of harassing people to dissuade them from leaving, and when they insisted, we would begin bargaining over what they should pay, according to how much luggage they were carrying with them and how many members of the family there were. At first we set the taxes high. Then as the situation deteriorated, we reduced the rates, especially when our friends and relatives began to be among those leaving.

We continued collecting this tax until 23 April, when the combined force of the Haganah and the Irgun succeeded in defeating the Arab forces stationed in the Manshiya quarter adjacent to Southern Tel-Aviv. On that day, as we realised that an attack on the centre of Jaffa was imminent, I and my family decided that they had to be evacuated temporarily. We rented a van, into which we crammed all the women and young children and sent them to Nablus.”

Abu-Lughod himself stayed in Jaffa until May 3, when he left by ship together with two friends to make the short trip to Beirut. By July 1948, he was already back with his family in Nablus, from where he soon made his way to the US to study and to build a successful career at Northwestern University. He left there in 1992 to become vice-president of Bir Zeit University in Ramallah.

As Abu-Lughod’s account illustrates, the majority of Jaffa’s Arab residents fled the fighting over a period of several weeks or even months – by land or by sea – while Jaffa’s self-proclaimed defenders tried to exploit those who wanted to leave by demanding a “tax.”

An additional point that is very relevant in this context is the fact that in the decades before Israel’s establishment, lots of Arab migrant workers were recruited from all over the region to build major infrastructure projects; in addition, there were legal and illegal Arab migrants who came to take advantage of “the relative economic boom, stimulated by the annual Jewish immigration beginning in 1882.”

As the 1937 report by the British Peel Commission put it:

“The increase in the Arab population is most marked in urban areas, affected by Jewish development. A comparison of the census returns in 1922 and 1931 shows that […] the increase percent in Haifa was 86, in Jaffa 62, in Jerusalem 37, while in purely Arab towns such as Nablus and Hebron it was only 7, and at Gaza there was a decrease of 2 percent.”

That means that, due to “the substantial 1880-1947 Arab immigration […] the Arab population of Jaffa, Haifa and Ramla grew 17, 12 and 5 times respectively.”

So Jewish development brought a lot of Arabs to towns like Jaffa; indeed, as Robert F. Kennedy  put it in a dispatch for the Boston Post after visiting Mandate Palestine in March 1948: “The Jews point with pride to the fact that over 500,000 Arabs in the 12 years between 1932 and 1944, came into Palestine to take advantage of living conditions existing in no other Arab state.”

As a result, it’s reasonable to assume that many of the Arabs who fled Jaffa and other major towns during the fighting in 1947/48 simply returned to where they had originally come from. 

Arab-Muslim fantasies about Israeli cowardice

I recently scrolled through the tweets of the popular Palestinian caricaturist Mohammed Saba`aneh, who makes his living by producing images that depict Israel and its military as brutal and bloodthirsty monsters.

Pal caricaturist Sabaaneh2Pal caricaturist Sabaaneh3Pal caricaturist Sabaaneh4

But given that Saba`aneh earns his money with images designed to show what monstrously cruel enemy the Palestinian face, I was astonished to see that he re-tweeted an obviously fake clip trying to ridicule Israeli soldiers as pathetic cowards, easily scared by a youngster with a giant Palestinian flag.

Pal caricaturist Sabaaneh1

The clip is obviously a particularly shoddy Pallywood production; its creators didn’t even try to dress up the actors posing as Israeli soldiers in anything resembling IDF uniforms and gear.

 

Yet this shoddy fabrication got more than 20.000 views; the original tweet garnered almost a thousand retweets and some 2000 “Likes”, and the responses included lots of “hahahah” and related emoji.

However, one response was somewhat incongruous – because if the Israelis are such cowards, how do they manage to be so powerful that it’s up to them to “allow” Trump “to be President for the TV” if he meets a list of “Zionist” demands???

Pakistani patriot antisemitism

It turns out that Zaid Zaman Hamid who posted the fake clip is apparently a rather popular Pakistani political commentator whose verified Twitter account has more than 180.000 followers – and rather unsurprisingly, he’s fond of conspiracy theories, including blaming Israel’s Mossad along with the CIA and India’s foreign intelligence agency for destabilizing Pakistan.

So again, this self-declared Pakistani “National Security Analyst” seems to believe that the Israelis are pathetic cowards but still manage to project their power far beyond Israel’s borders…

That’s what makes antisemtism so unique: its practitioners manage to believe both that Jews are despicably weak and cowardly, and at the same time so powerful that they can control anything they want all over the world — needless to say, always to the detriment of the world. 

  

Why Jamal Khashoggi’s Islamism matters

Would Jamal Khashoggi’s assassination in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul be any less horrific if it were more widely acknowledged that he was indeed an Islamist? It seems that’s how a lot of people feel – and if you disagree, you risk being denounced as a fanatic right-wing supporter of Trump and a cynical apologist for the cruel and oppressive Saudis regime.

I’m not a Trump supporter, and I would find it very hard to think of anything good to say about the Saudi royals. But I also can’t quite see the political wisdom of reducing Khashoggi to the last year of his life and pretending that he was just some sort of liberal Saudi dissident who was writing op-eds for the Washington Post. What I do see instead is that these efforts to whitewash Khashoggi’s political views inevitably benefit the Islamists with whom he spent the last days of his life.

It’s true that – as a CNN article put it – “Jamal Khashoggi was a journalist, not a jihadist,” but it’s also true that Khashoggi collaborated to his last day with people who advocate jihad and that he was quite open about his support for the Hamas jihad against Israel.

When the news about Khashoggi’s disappearance at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul first broke, I noticed that many of the reports featured a photo showing Khashoggi in front of a banner advertising the Middle East Monitor (MEMO). From my work on anti-Israel activism and anti-Semitism, I knew what MEMO is, and I started to wonder why a Washington Post columnist would associate himself  with a disreputable Islamist organization like MEMO.

Khashoggi tweets MEMO                  

As it turned out, Khashoggi spent his last weekend in London, visiting his old Islamist comrade Azzam Tamimi and attending a conference organized by MEMO. While this fact has been noted in some media reports, there has been a marked reluctance to acknowledge the fact that MEMO is a British news site notorious for its “pro-Hamas and pro-Muslim Brotherhood stance.” As British antisemitism researchers have pointed out, MEMO frequently promotes “conspiracy theories” about Jewish or Zionist machinations as well as “other classical antisemitic canards and tropes.”

So the main benefit of getting your news from MEMO is that you quickly realize that whenever something bad happens in the Middle East, it’s the fault of the evil and illegitimate Jewish state – indeed, at MEMO, even Khashoggi’s disappearance can somehow be connected to Israel.

As Khashoggi certainly knew, MEMO is part of an extensive network of groups and organizations that was patiently built up based on an initiative first conceived in 2003 by two former al-Qaeda members in Saudi Arabia. In 2009, one of the groups affiliated with the network attracted critical attention with its so-called “Istanbul Declaration” which reflects an event with the Orwellian title “Global Anti-Aggression Campaign” where reportedly “speaker after speaker called for jihad against Israel in support of Hamas.”

MEMO director Daud Abdullah was one of the signatories of the “Istanbul Declaration.”

Abdullah is reportedly also “a leader of the Brotherhood-linked British Muslim Initiative.” A decade ago, he faced sharp criticism for insisting that the Muslim Council of Britain should boycott Holocaust Memorial Day.

It would be hard to overstate how much MEMO has benefitted from the free advertisement provided by prestigious media outlets that cited its association with Khashoggi without divulging its political agenda.  

MEMO cleverly seized the opportunity to further enhance its completely undeserved legitimation by organizing a memorial event for Khashoggi at the end of October. MEMO director Daud Abdullah opened the event which was live-streamed by the Washington Post. Senior Human Rights Watch official Sarah Leah Whitson also saw fit to legitimize MEMO by attending this event and promoting it energetically to her almost 50,000 followers on Twitter.

SLW at MEMO

SLW RTs MEMO Khashoggi

Those who are now so eager to legitimize MEMO in the wake of Khashoggi’s assassination are particularly disingenuous when they deny that he was a lifelong Islamist who cheered Hamas and whitewashed the record of the extremist Muslim Brotherhood clearic Yussuf Qaradawi.

It is after all thanks to MEMO’s reporting about Khashoggi and the translation of some of his columns to English that it is now so easy to document some of Khashoggi’s rather unsavory views.

One of the noteworthy examples is a MEMO report from last February – i.e. when Khashoggi was already writing for the Washington Post. According to the report, Khashoggi told his audience during a speech in Istanbul that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s “talk about moderate Islam” should be dismissed as worthless as long as the Saudi royals remained hostile to the Muslim Brotherhood. Khashoggi asserted that it was Muslim Brotherhood clerics like Yusuf Qaradawi who “introduced the term moderate Islam” and he insisted that “Bin Salman is confused about the proper choice for moderation […] The Muslim Brotherhood are moderates, but he does not want to admit that.”

Let’s contrast Khashoggi’s praise of the notorious Qaradawi as a paragon of “moderate Islam” with what the Washington Post reported on Qaradawi just a few months before the paper hired Khashoggi.

Citing a US counterterrorism expert, the paper described Qaradawi as “one of the most public figureheads of the radical wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.” Other US officials characterized the Muslim cleric as “a man whose beatific smile and folksy speaking style belie a history of defending suicide bombings in Israel and condoning violence against U.S. troops in Iraq.” The report also highlights the fact that Qaradawi sometimes used his popular sermons and his TV show to express support for Hamas and that he “has suggested that the murder of 6 million Jews by Nazi Germany was ‘divine punishment’ for historical transgressions. He has repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel, including the killing of civilians.”

Qaradawi’s precise comment on the Holocaust during an Al Jazeera program in January 2009 is worth quoting:

“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.”

It is hardly less alarming that Qaradawi also believes in a divinely ordained end-of-times battle between “all Muslims and all Jews.”

The fact that Qaradawi’s well-documented fanaticism didn’t bother Khashoggi is most likely due to his own intense hostility to Israel, which is clearly reflected in some of his Al Hayat columns published by MEMO in English translation.

In an article from July 2014 entitled “Palestine, the occupation and the resistance for beginners”, Khashoggi asserted that Israel’s “existence is outside the context of history and logic […] it came into being by force, it will live by force and it will die by force.”

While Khashoggi is now widely portrayed as a sophisticated Middle East analyst who shared important liberal values, he meant it quite literally when he claimed that Israel exists “outside the context of history and logic.”

Khashoggi’s shocking denial of Jewish history is evident from a Twitter exchange [archived] that took place in October 2015 [emphasis added; the tweets were first highlighted by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre].

Khashoggi first posted a tweet asserting that the “Grave of Al-Nabi Yusuf [Joseph’s Tomb] which was attacked by demonstrators yesterday is a Jewish fabrication. It is a grave built in the Turkish period, and the Jews turned it into a school of extremism and claimed that it is [the grave] of Joseph.”

He then followed up explaining:

The Jews have no history in Palestine. Because of this, they invented the Wailing Wall, which is a Mameluke structure. After 67 they noticed Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus and they decided that it is [the grave] of Joseph, and they took it over.”

Another Twitter user (@JawadAlhashimy) objected: “The Jews without history in Palestine!!! It seems professor that your honor’s knowledge of history is like my knowledge of the Korean language!! Greetings.”

Khashoggi responded: “Go and dig with them Jawad Al-Hashimi, maybe you will find a grave or remains that they can ask blessings from. [The Jews] dug all over [Palestine] and they didn’t find anything, maybe you have [more] experience.”

Jawad Alhashimy replied: “For your knowledge professor, we Muslims took from the Jews even the name ‘Al-Quds’. [The Jews] called Jerusalem ‘Beit Hamikdash’ and we stole it and called it Bayt Al-Maqdis.”

In response, Khashoggi wrote: “@JawadAlhashimy shame [on you]… The Muslims didn’t steal anything from the Jews. I consider you to be a Muslim who is proud of your identity, do not provoke me anymore.”

Jawad Alhashimy insisted again: “Yes, they [the Muslims] did. They stole its Hebrew name ‘Beit Hamiqdash’ which means ‘Holy House’ and they gave this name to Iliya [Arabic version of the Roman Aelia Capitolina] in the days of the conflict between the Omayyads and Ibn Al-Zubayr.”

Khashoggi’s denial of Jewish history clearly reflects his commitment to rather extremist Islamist ideology, which he also betrayed with his evident hope that Israel “will die by force.”

It is thus hardly surprising that Khashoggi was also an ardent admirer of the terror group Hamas.  In an article written in July 2014, Khashoggi begins with what reads like a bitter lament that the Arabs have never waged “a jihad” against Israel. Implicitly rejecting negotiations with Israel, Khashoggi asserts that the divinely ordained “price” for freedom was “blood and death.” He then heaps praise on Hamas for accomplishing the “miracle” of procuring rockets and explosives; he expresses great admiration for the “distinguished combat performance” shown by Hamas and the building of “the huge network of tunnels that extends for miles under Gaza and the borders with Israel and Egypt” which – as Khashoggi notes with undisguised delight – “were used brilliantly to inflict unprecedented losses on the enemy.”

But the perhaps most chilling sentence comes when Khashoggi concludes: “All of this proves that the movement [i.e. Hamas] wasted no time while ruling in Gaza.”

All too obviously, Khashoggi felt that Hamas should be applauded for turning Gaza into a heavily armed terrorist enclave instead of taking advantage of Israel’s withdrawal in 2005 to develop the territory into a model for a Palestinian state. But praising this as a miraculous accomplishment of Hamas makes sense only for someone who fervently hopes that one day, Israel “will die by force.”

As vile as some of Khashoggi’s views may have been, they obviously don’t justify his assassination. Yet, his undisguised hatred for Israel should not be whitewashed by portraying him as a quasi-liberal writer who just wanted a few freedoms for the Middle East. Khashoggi also wanted a Middle East where Islamist forces like the terror group Hamas would vanquish the hated Jewish state. Precisely because Khashoggi’s many Islamist friends are fully aware of this fact that is so inconvenient for his western friends, the efforts to downplay what Khashoggi’s Islamism entailed could all too easily be construed as tacit approval.

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Translation from Arabic courtesy of Ibn Boutros.

A slightly different version of this post was first published at my Times of Israel blog.

The endless hate for Israel at Human Rights Watch

I have documented the blatant bias against Israel that is openly displayed by Human Rights Watch (HRW) officials in several recent articles (see e.g. here and here).

However, it’s usually not possible to cite all the material that may be relevant in articles – they’re after all categorized as op-eds and can’t be endlessly long, even if you have tons of outrageous stuff.

Since I use Twitter a lot to check on the issues I work on, I’ve also tried to collect some of the material there (see e.g. here).

But the more I look at the conduct of HRW officials, the harder it becomes to avoid the conclusion that their unending and completely shameless display of hypocrisy, if not outright bigotry on Israel, is worth documenting more systematically.  

So here are just two of the recent examples.

A few days ago, Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of the HRW Middle East and North Africa Division, retweeted a cartoon by the notorious Carlos Latuff, who is a prolific producer of antisemitic images – one of which won him an award at an Iranian-sponsored “International Holocaust Cartoon Competition” in 2006.

The Latuff cartoon Whitson liked so much associates Israel prime minister Netanyahu with the assassination of the Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. It is widely assumed that the assassination was ordered by the Saudi crown prince, and there is an energetic campaign initiated by the Washington Post (which hired Khashoggi a year ago) demanding a drastic downgrading of all dealings with the Saudis.

In my view, this campaign is in many ways hypocritical – whoever needed the assassination of Khashoggi to discover how dreadful the Saudi regime is shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Moreover, I think it’s very problematic that Khashoggi’s Islamist views are now not only whitewashed, but also mainstreamed.

But needless to say, Whitson enthusiastically supports this campaign; and equally needless to say, whoever can be tarred as a supporter of the Saudis is unspeakably evil. Neither Netanyahu nor other Israeli government officials have made statements regarding Khashoggi’s assassination and its political implications, but that doesn’t prevent types like Latuff and top HRW official Sarah Leah Whitson from trying to spread the idea that the world’s only Jewish state must surely be on the side of the evil ones.

SLW RTs Latuff Netanyahu Khashoggi MbS

Another very similar effort comes from veteran Israel-hater Glenn Greenwald in the wake of the recent Brazilian election won by Jair Bolsonaro, who is widely regarded as a right-wing populist and has been described as a Brazilian Trump.

As is customary, most political leaders will congratulate the winner of a democratic presidential election – here is e.g. a report on French President Emmanuel Macron’s congratulation.

But of course, the congratulation of Israel’s prime minister provides yet another irresistible opportunity to depict the Jewish state as an evil entity – both for Greenwald and Sarah Leah Whitson.

As Greenwald put it: “Like most fanatical far-right leaders, Bolsonaro loves Israel & craves closeness to it. With the western liberal world recognizing Israel for what it is and abandoning support, Israelis see an alliance with far-right nationalists as their key strategy.”

SLW RTs Greenwald Bolsonaro

 

So you want to free Ahed Tamimi? Her parents want her in jail

In a post entitled “The Tamimi masterclass on media manipulation,” I documented some two years ago in considerable detail that Bassem and Nariman Tamimi (i.e. the parents of Ahed Tamimi) feel completely free to tell credulous reporters invented stories that depict them and their children as innocent victims of Israeli brutality. The specific incident I investigated also showed that – even when it comes to her own children – Nariman Tamimi’s grim philosophy is “Either victory or martyrdom.”

A recent example shows Bassem Tamimi displaying a similarly cold-hearted fanaticism – but only for Arab audiences. Thanks to an admirer of the Tamimis, we can watch clips with English subtitles (h/t @kweansmom) from an interview that Bassem Tamimi recently gave to the Lebanese media network Al Mayadeen. According to Wikipedia, the network’s “editorial policy emphasizes that Palestine and resistance movements wherever they are found are its point of reference” and “that the Palestinian cause is the channel’s centerpiece;” there have also been claims that “the channel is a propaganda platform for Iran and Hezbollah.”

The Al Mayadeen interviewer is obviously eager to let Ahed’s father Bassem Tamimi tell their audience what an awesome “resistance” icon he has brought up. In the first clip, Ahed’s proud dad explains that after publishing the video of Ahed punching, kicking and slapping two Israeli soldiers, the family anticipated her arrest. Bassem Tamimi doesn’t mention the fact that it was Ahed’s mother who posted the video on her Facebook page – thus apparently trying to ensure her daughter’s arrest – and he doesn’t mention the fact that the video also includes a segment where Ahed, prompted by her loving mom to give a “message to the world,” is calling for stabbings and suicide bombings.

As Bassem Tamimi explains to Al Mayadeen, even though the family anticipated Ahed’s arrest, it would have been wrong “to break (stop) a possible exemplar (of resistance) because “our people need to see a specific moment even if there is a price to pay.”

After outlining his views on futile Israeli attempts to intimidate Palestinians, Bassem Tamimi is asked by his interviewer what sentence he expects for Ahed. He calmly responds that he expects his daughter to be sentenced to a year and a half in prison, and he vows to reject any possible “agreement”: “We will not break her challenge so that she pleads guilty in front of this judge. This will be offered to us for the sake of extortion, [but] we will reject it [and] she will completely reject it.” Bassem Tamimi also claims that Ahed “said to her siblings ‘you are not allowed to have an agreement’” and supposedly, Ahed said the same to him in previous instances when he was arrested.

Emphasizing again that Ahed “rejects making an agreement,” Bassem Tamimi declares: “so we have two choices: completely rejecting the legitimacy of the [Israeli] court, or asking to put the court on trial by way of a global opinion (pressure).”

Of course, this is not really an either-or choice: the strategy Bassem Tamimi outlines obviously involves rejecting any compromise with the Israeli authorities AND mobilizing public opinion against Israel. This has been the Tamimis’ strategy for years, and according to this interview, the Tamimis intend to follow it through also now – even if it means a considerable prison sentence for their teenage daughter. The global publicity that activists and sycophantic media outlets provide to the Tamimis makes it very worthwhile for them to have Ahed locked up for a year or two.

A fourth clip from the interview is summarized by the translator as follows: “Ahed’s father tells @AlMayadeenNews of how his little resistor is driving the Zionist establishment insane, discovering there [their] spying devices and leaving them baffled.”

Yet, the clip starts with Bassem Tamimi presenting a dire picture of the hardships and dangers his daughter is facing in Israeli detention – a “child” taken to “a jail cell” and facing endless interrogations; “the main court brings people to yell, threaten with rape & all these things” – but it seems Ahed’s loving dad doesn’t worry too much about his daughter being supposedly “threaten[ed] with rape & all these things,” because he quickly changes the topic to announce proudly that Ahed discovered “spying devices.”

Bassem Tamimi also declares: “I was extremely happy when she told me ‘a police officer started yelling out of frustration, that’s when I knew I won, and he was defeated.’” Then Bassem Tamimi returns to the story about the “spying devices”, which his daughter supposedly discovered when her mother Nariman and her cousin were brought to her cell. Ahed gestured to them not to talk until she found the “spying device” and started “talking to (toying with) them [i.e. presumably the Israeli ‘spies’], mocking them.”  And Bassem Tamimi proudly concludes: “I saw that she was like a stone, all this pressure on a child hasn’t affected her one bit.”

So this is the version for Arab audiences – you can watch the strikingly different version for English-speaking western audiences here: a sad Bassem Tamimi who worries terribly about his daughter and wants her to be just a normal teenager…

It is of course almost unbelievable that parents could be so fanatic that they reject any plea bargain and prefer to see their teenage daughter in jail. But the fact that Nariman Tamimi, Ahed’s mother, livestreamed the incident and its aftermath on her Facebook page – including Ahed’s call for stabbings and suicide bombings – indicates that the Tamimis were indeed hell-bent on getting Ahed arrested.

Last but not least, here’s a revealing Al Mayadeen clip about how Ahed Tamimi is presented to her fans in the Arab world – and you don’t have to know Arabic, because the pictures glorifying Ahed speak for themselves, showing clearly that her Arab fans know very well that the Tamimis are not fighting Israeli settlements or the occupation of the West Bank, but Israel’s existence as a Jewish state in any borders.

Ahed vs Israel octopus

I was intrigued by one image in particular: it seemed to be cut at the bottom corners, which were also obstructed by the line of text displayed in the Al Mayadeen clip. So I took a screenshot and did a reverse image search – which was worth it: the full image shows Ahed wearing a Palestinian keffiyeh and a shirt adorned with a map that presents Israel, the West Bank and Gaza as one country; two rats wearing caps with a Star of David viciously chew at her flowing hair.

The image was apparently very popular on Facebook and Twitter; interestingly – and depressingly – it was also retweeted by Samya Ayish, who describes herself as a Palestinian “Journalist/ Producer in @CNNArabic.” Perhaps Ayish didn’t notice the antisemitic imagery of the two rats with the Star of David, but she surely didn’t have a problem reading the Arabic text of the tweet which praised Ahed for wearing (or representing) “the amulet of Palestine … all of Palestine.” So it seems that at least at CNN Arabic, they know what the Tamimis stand for.

Ahed w rats Star of David

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A previous version of this post was published at EoZ.

Omar Suleiman’s indirect response to my Algemeiner article

A few days ago, The Algemeiner published my article on Omar Suleiman, a very popular Palestinian-American imam whom Linda Sarsour has repeatedly praised – and who has also expressed admiration for her. When I researched Suleiman’s views on Israel and on Jews, I quickly found a lot of alarming material: he posted an image signaling support for the Muslim Brotherhood; he repeatedly called for another intifada and tried his best to incite religious passions; he also compared Israel to the Nazis and to Taliban-affiliated terrorists who had perpetrated a horrendous massacre in a school in Pakistan. But what shocked me most was listening to some of his religious teachings that are available on You Tube. The example I cited in the article was from a lecture series on the Bani Israel that he gave a few years ago, and in the introductory lecture, he very clearly blamed the Bani Israel – literally the “sons of Israel,” i.e. the Jews – for the fact that food decays. Quite obviously, this is no less pernicious than the medieval blood libel.

Now I just discovered that, without tagging me or linking to my article, he has posted a text on his Facebook page that seems to be an indirect response to my piece – and I have to say that I found much of it quite impressive, certainly compared to Linda Sarsour’s pathetic habit to dismiss all criticism as “alt-right” and “Islamophobic.” You can read Suleiman’s post here or in the screenshot below.

Omar Suleiman Algemeiner response

Of course, I did not ‘intentionally decontextualize’ anything Suleiman said or wrote. And I think it’s not convincing to describe the material I documented as ‘slip ups,’ since in most instances, he repeatedly expressed the same or similar views. I am also working on documenting some other material from Suleiman’s lectures that I found very disturbing and that in my view is central to the Muslim unwillingness to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state in any borders.

It should go without saying that I do not “hate” Omar Suleiman, and I do not “want to bury” him in his “past mistakes.” But quite obviously, it can have far-reaching consequences when an imam who has more than a million followers on social media makes “mistakes” and writes things he now wishes he “never wrote.” Indeed, some of the things I exposed were “liked” or shared by tens of thousands of people.

But I found it moving and very dignified that Suleiman wrote:

“Maybe thats a lesson though that we need to always be more responsible with our words. That even before social media, your words were being recorded and saved. That everything you’ve ever said may have impacted someone for years after even if you moved on. That we should heed the prophetic advice to not say things today that we will have to apologize for tomorrow.

I pray that I’ve written and said more good than evil, and that my carefully archived scrolls will be a proof for me rather than against me.”

Suleiman is very young – just in his early thirties, and from what I’ve seen, I do think his record includes a lot of “good.” But as I’ve already noted, I still think that he also promotes some very problematic views which I plan to document further. If he wishes to clarify or revise his views, he has many platforms to do so. And he has already shown that he is sometimes willing to change: e.g., he seemed prepared to tone down his previous condemnation of homosexuality – though only he can know if it is out of conviction or because of political expediency. But if he revises some of the views I have documented, and still plan to document, I would regard this as a small, yet still hopeful, step that could only help to improve relations between Muslims and Jews not just in the US, but perhaps even in the Middle East. After all, Suleiman is young, clearly very talented and very ambitious, and if he were to revise some of his problematic views, he could become a moderating voice that is desperately needed when so many religious leaders are eager to incite their followers by demonizing the Jews and denying their long historical attachment and rights to the land of Israel.  

Update:

Several people have told me that they feel I’m too conciliatory here, because Suleiman after all did not explicitly renounce any of his views; one person also criticized that he didn’t delete any of the offensive posts I cited (and archived). But I think only time will tell if I was too conciliatory. Even if he deleted the posts I exposed, it wouldn’t change the fact that when he published them, many thousands of people read, liked and shared them, and the incitement can’t be undone. Yet, I think compared to the reaction Linda Sarsour regularly offers when she is facing criticism, Suleiman’s vague acknowledgment that he regrets some of the views he expressed, should be appreciated — though, to be sure, Sarsour is setting a very low bar.

The past can’t be undone, but if Suleiman will now avoid calling for another intifada and stop describing Israel in terms that echo the Nazi slogan “The Jews are our misfortune,” I for one would find that a very positive outcome, since the 1.2 million (and counting) people who follow him will not be poisoned by such incitement from a religious leader they adore. Incidentally, it is very interesting to check out the comments responding to his post: most people accept very graciously that the imam they admire expresses regret about going public with some unspecified views and that he simply encourages everyone to learn from what he presents as his own learning experience.  

Having said all this, I don’t have any illusions about how deep-seated Suleiman’s anti-Israel — and arguably anti-Jewish — resentments are. I have watched some of his relevant lectures and found it all in all a rather depressing experience. But more on this in a follow-up article later this month.

 

 

 

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.

Hate preachers 2

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.

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A previous version of this post was published at EoZ.