On college campuses the propaganda war is definitely on the Palestinian side with Saudi Arabian money coming in to support anti-Zionist groups and to sponsor professorships for anti-Zionist teachers. Supposedly free speech-oriented people on the left have denied Israelis the chance to even speak at college campuses (Concordia University and elsewhere).
At a recent Morning Prayer service at Memorial Church, Harvard President Lawrence H. Summers said,
“Where anti-Semitism and views that are profoundly anti-Israeli have traditionally been the primary preserve of poorly educated right-wing populists, profoundly anti-Israel views are increasingly finding support in progressive intellectual communities. Serious and thoughtful people are advocating and taking actions that are anti-Semitic in their effect if not their intent.”
Marc Berley, an English teacher at Barnard College, Columbia University points out propagandistic posters that appeared at Columbia after 9-11. One said, ‘In 1945 we were all Jews, now we are all Palestinians.’ Berley adds,
“Shrewdly offensive: Not to be with Palestinians today, so the logic goes, is to be against the Jews in 1945. But the aim is not to identify with the Jews killed in the Holocaust. It is to identify survivors of the Holocaust as Nazis.”
Columbia Latino Studies Professor Nicholas De Genova, speaking at a campus rally last semester, went even further:
‘The heritage of the victims of the Holocaust belongs to the Palestinian people. The state of Israel has no claim to the heritage of the Holocaust.’
Israel is “a Jewish supremacist and racist state,” and “every racist state should be threatened,” declared Columbia Professor of Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures Joseph Massad at that same rally last semester. (Columbia teaching assistants and professors let their students skip class to hear it).
Since the anti-Semitism issue has come up, let’s talk about this virulent form of shadow projection, one of the most consistent and dominant themes in history and every bit as active as ever. The objection that is always raised here is that anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism. (Some regard “anti-Semitism” as a misnomer because not all Semites are Jews, and not all Jews are Semites. Get over it. It is the accepted term for anti-Jewishness. I can’t tell you how many people obnoxiously point out the error in this term as though the were saying something original, witty or incisive when pointing out something that has been pointed out endlessly for decades.) In theory, you could draw a line between anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, but in practice they so often overlap and merge. The psychological view is more interested in what the actual practice is, not the theoretical intentions. Fundamentalists and some other religionists frequently don’t want to own up to the actual practice of their traditions as compared to an idealized theory of how it should be. Jung, the son of a Protestant minister and a Christian himself, had the courage to ask himself a question that few Christians have ever had the courage to ask, Why has more blood been spilled in the name of Christianity than any other force in history? (at the time he asked the question) He came up with some penetrating answers that date back to how Christianity was altered after it attempted to murder the Gnostic Christians and burn their gospels (see his book Aion).
The politically correct thing is to say that religious abuses are done by a few bad apples, but the religion itself and the holy texts are above reproach. But the Bible says women are the property of their husbands and the Koran says, among other things, “Men are the masters of women because Allah made one to excel the other, and as to those whom you fear desertion or disobedience leave them alone in the bed and beat them.” Surah 4 Verse 34 Check the nearest copy of the Koran, I’ve looked at several translations. There are also numerous passages in the Koran that command Muslims to go out and kill the infidel and kill any other Muslims who are not fulfilling this holy duty. For example, Muhammed commands Muslims: 009.005 “When the sacred forbidden months for fighting are past, fight and kill the disbelievers wherever you find them, take them captive, beleaguer them, and lie in wait and ambush them using every stratagem of war.”
To read more passages from the Koran on these themes, all quoted from English translations of the Koran published by Saudi Arabia, go to teawithterrorists.com. The author of this site is a Christian Fundamentalist unfortunately, but he has done his homework and the text I’m referring to is from the Koran and the English translations you will find in almost all the mosques in this country. (I will include a link at the end of this essay to an article that documents that violent Jihad is at the core of Islam, not the extreme fringe as many badly misinformed people believe.) And yes, there is an Hadith (another holy Islamic text) that really does promise 72 virgins, whose virginity is recycled each night awaiting good Muslims in paradise. An article in the Gaurdian Saturday Review reports:
The Islamic paradise is described in great sensual detail in the Koran and the Traditions; for instance, Koran sura 56 verses 12 -40 ; sura 55 verses 54-56 ; sura 76 verses 12-22. I shall quote the celebrated Penguin translation by NJ Dawood of sura 56 verses 12- 39: “They shall recline on jewelled couches face to face, and there shall wait on them immortal youths with bowls and ewers and a cup of purest wine (that will neither pain their heads nor take away their reason); with fruits of their own choice and flesh of fowls that they relish. And theirs shall be the dark-eyed houris, chaste as hidden pearls: a guerdon for their deeds… We created the houris and made them virgins, loving companions for those on the right hand…” It is in the Islamic Traditions that we find the 72 virgins in heaven specified: in a Hadith (Islamic Tradition) collected by Al-Tirmidhi (died 892 CE [common era*]) in the Book of Sunan (volume IV, chapters on The Features of Paradise as described by the Messenger of Allah [Prophet Muhammad], chapter 21, About the Smallest Reward for the People of Paradise, (Hadith 2687). The same hadith is also quoted by Ibn Kathir (died 1373 CE ) in his Koranic commentary (Tafsir) of Surah Al-Rahman (55), verse 72: “The Prophet Muhammad was heard saying: ‘The smallest reward for the people of paradise is an abode where there are 80,000 servants and 72 wives, over which stands a dome decorated with pearls, aquamarine, and ruby, as wide as the distance from Al-Jabiyyah [a Damascus suburb] to Sana’a [Yemen]’.” …Modern apologists of Islam try to downplay the evident materialism and sexual implications of such descriptions, but, as the Encyclopedia of Islam says, even orthodox Muslim theologians such as al Ghazali (died 1111 CE) and Al-Ash’ari (died 935 CE) have “admitted sensual pleasures into paradise”. The sensual pleasures are graphically elaborated by Al-Suyuti (died 1505 ), Koranic commentator and polymath. He wrote: “Each time we sleep with a houri we find her virgin. Besides, the penis of the Elected never softens. The erection is eternal; the sensation that you feel each time you make love is utterly delicious and out of this world and were you to experience it in this world you would faint. Each chosen one [ie Muslim] will marry seventy [sic] houris, besides the women he married on earth, and all will have appetizing vaginas.”
Martyrdom is praised repeatedly as the royal path to this hedonistic orgy of a male paradise. The Gaurdian article reports,
While suicide is forbidden, martyrdom is everywhere praised, welcomed, and urged: “By the Being in Whose Hand is my life, I love that I should be killed in the way of Allah; then I should be brought back to life and be killed again in His way…”; “The Prophet said, ‘Nobody who enters Paradise will ever like to return to this world even if he were offered everything, except the martyr who will desire to return to this world and be killed 10 times for the sake of the great honour that has been bestowed upon him’.” [Sahih Muslim, chapters 781, 782, The Merit of Jihad and the Merit of Martyrdom.]
(Time Magazine recently 7/31/06 reported a typical mural in Iran, “…a vast mural depicting a female suicide bomber with a baby in her arms, accompanied by the words I LOVE MOTHERHOOD, BUT I LOVE MARTYRDOM MORE.”)
There are courageous Muslims who are fighting to take back their religion from this madness, but they also need to repudiate much of what’s in these archaic texts, as the Reform Jews have, to put this type of insanity into the past. And yes, once again, there is lots of insanity in the Hebrew Bible as well.
Ok, back to anti-Semitism. I have the feeling that many in the anti-Zionist left have the impression that Jews who complain about anti-Semitism are a bunch of spoiled whiners, that they live privileged lives of affluence and security and wring their hands because some kid scribbled a little swastika on a Synagogue in France while they are totally oblivious and indifferent to what Palestinians suffer.
I’d like to establish my credentials to discuss anti-Semitism from up close and personal experience. I grew up in the most diverse world imaginable, the melting pot of New York City, in particular the Bronx where (as Woody Allen put it) “I had the opportunity to get beaten up by children of all races and creeds and colors.” The Jewish population of the Bronx, in the Sixties and Seventies, was rapidly evacuating, and these were the most violent out of control decades in the borough’s history. The anti-Semitism I experienced at the hands of certain ethnic groups was not subtle, not my application to the yacht club getting turned down, no it was, for example, a group of kids surrounding me on Kingsbridge Road or Jerome Avenue and shouting, “You Jew? You Jew?” Either a yes or a no, or even defiant silence could result in a beating.
My most intense experience of anti-Semitism, and this really is a bizarre story which would take much more exposition than is appropriate here to cover, was a vicious dog mauling which happened to me when I was ten years old caused by someone who had (literally) a card identifying himself as a member of an American Nazi party in his pocket. He caused his German Shepard attack dog to lunge for my throat. I blocked it with my left arm which the dog grabbed severing all the muscles (reattached by a pioneer micro surgeon), the dog went for my throat again and got my head, and the dog was large enough, and I was small enough, that my head was in the dog’s mouth and I have the long scars on both sides of my forehead to remind me (and it tore up my leg as well.) The young Nazi who caused the attack admitted he was the cause three years later when (I told you this was a bizarre story) we had become best friends. I didn’t realize the extent of his anti-Semitism at the time, dismissed his occasional references to world Jewish conspiracies as a bit of typical conspiracy talk. So that was my most up close and personal experience with anti-Semitism, but there’s a bit more.
During the 1968 teacher’s strike in New York, African-Americans began handing out copies of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion a notorious hoaxed, inflammatory contrivance of the Czar’s secret police, that among other absurdities claims that Jews require the blood of Christian children to make matzo for Passover. The document was created to support pogroms happening in turn of the century Russian and three out of four of my grandparents were refugees from anti-Semitic persecution in turn-of-the-century Russia. But throughout Arab media today, even Arab-American publications, this same bogus document is treated as historical fact. Also treated as fact is the absurd claim that no Jews died in the 9-11 attacks (there were several at my parent’s Manhattan temple alone). The terrorists picked the American city where they could find the highest concentrations of Jews, the place they call “Jew York.”
During the strike of 1968, my parents were horrified when they found African Americans handing out copies of the protocols because they had been active in the civil rights movement and like lots of Jewish intellectuals were far to the left (and still are). My father was a prominent socialist back in the day. 1968 was when we first became conscious of an explosion of hard to explain anti-Semitism amongst African Americans. This was especially hard to explain since Jews had led the civil rights movement to a large extent, the NAACP, for example, was founded by and originally run by Jews.
My parents were not of the “some of my best friends are…” type of integrationists who valued diversity in theory, but in practice live in white suburbs. They still live in the Bronx, and when I call them to this day and there is company over, it is usually African American friends. When a zoning line was drawn right through my block in the Bronx (we were a few yards from the line) my parents could easily have lied about our address and I would have gone to a Junior High in affluent Riverdale (the setting for Archie Comics). They didn’t, because they believed then, and to this day, in integration, so instead I had to take public transportation to a Junior High in the South Bronx which was one of the most mismanaged and violent schools in the history of public education in New York City (of which I and my immediate family have more than a hundred years experience.) I was at ground zero for an explosion of reverse racism and anti-Semitism. There was a faction of kids with Muslim names in the school whose parents were in the Black Panthers and who singled me out in particular for savage attacks.
The black Muslim movement was burgeoning, but some African Americans who went to Mecca, like Malcolm X, were shocked to find that Muslims were not black as Elijah Muhammad of Chicago had told them, but all colors, and they were also a bit surprised to find that some Saudi Arabian school kids owned black slaves who carried their school books for them. When Malcolm came back from Saudi Arabia he was a changed man and when he started to speak about what he saw there he was assassinated by Muslims.
Although I had been brought up to practically idealize African Americans, and many of my close friends in elementary school were African American, by the time I left Junior High I had been successfully conditioned on an almost cellular level to be a racist based on the abuse I took for my race. I really had something very close to what’s now called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder to the degree that years later in college I would still flinch and take defensive actions if someone made a sudden movement because I was so used to warding off blows. I wasn’t able to overcome that racism until the Eighties when I went to work in a public high school in the South Bronx (about two blocks from where Jimmy Carter stood giving his famous speech about urban blight surrounded by burned out buildings). I taught there for six years and eventually served as Dean and building security coordinator and gradually worked through the nightmares of childhood.
Another aspect of the up close and personal view of anti-Semitism was the closeness of WWII and the Holocaust which ended twelve years before I was born. One of my uncles had been in Auschwitz and other concentration camps. He had come from a village in Poland and was on line for the ovens when he suffered hysterical blindness and was pulled from the line and later that night managed to be part of an almost miraculous escape. Every year he would go to Europe for “Holocaust Reunions” where he searched in vain for a single relative, friend or acquaintance from the village in Poland where he grew up. Because he had no sons, he asked my father if I could be given the Hebrew name of his father because he had no son to pass it on to. Growing up knowing things like that can make you feel pretty pleased to know that there is a land where they have to take the Jews in, even if it is only the size of New Jersey, one quarter the population of just one Muslim city, Cairo, and surrounded by 300 million Arabs.
So anti-Semitism is not an abstract, historical reality to me and many other Jews, but a major force in our lives. But I don’t obsess over it. In fact, living in Boulder I am usually completely oblivious to it. Whatever anti-Semitism there might be in Boulder is too subtle for me to bother with. But when it does appear my reaction can be intense, and therefore I have some idea of how strong the cellular antipathy of a Palestinian might be for a Jew, or what people with other sorts of ancestral enmities experience.
Last summer I was at the National Rainbow gathering where I go every year and do free dream interpretation and I Ching readings for people. The gatherings are supposed to be, and mostly are, hippie gatherings about peace, love, brotherhood and so forth. I hadn’t given anti-Semitism even a passing thought in months at least. I sat down by the fire at one of my favorite kitchens and a man with an Australian accent is speaking to someone right next to me, and it turns out he is the last thing I expected to find at a Rainbow Gathering—a Holocaust denier. For a minute or two I tried to reason with him, told him about my Uncle and he responded by trying to debunk my uncle’s history. Suddenly a nuclear intensity of rage erupted in me. Conversation was no longer possible, and I instantly got up and walked away before I might do something violent and regrettable.
A rage with thousands year long ancestral roots rose up overtaking all reason and that is how powerful projection can be. That rage still smolders in me, but I have attempted to sublimate it, to divert it from the endless madness of tribal warfare into casting down the idols of shadow projection in myself and in others, and this gigantically long email that I have spent all day writing in one sitting is a spin-off of that sublimation and I hope you are able to recognize in it the spirit from which it originates, a spirit of breaking down the illusions that bind us into alienation and violence. Like most New York Jews, the manner of communication that was normal in my culture (where aggressive intellectual and moral debate with generous helpings of sarcasm was the favorite sport) seems abrasive and confrontational to many other people, but it is not meant to offend or alienate. I know my own vulnerability to projection and the impossibility of seeing things with perfect clarity and so I am open to corrective feedback. There are more unseen variables at work than are accounted for in anyone’s philosophy, and as J.B.S. Haldane said (paraphrased), “Reality is not only stranger than you think, it’s stranger than you can.”
And now for an amazing synchronicity that really might be stranger than anyone can think. (to read a page on synchronicity click here) Just after I finished composing the above and emailing it, I noticed an email in my inbox announcing the death of Richard Richter the former president of Ursinus College where I was a student in the Seventies. This was a very feeling toned moment because I had been rather close to Richard, he was my academic adviser freshman year and later became a friend and mentor who gave me a lot of encouragement with my writing, research and artwork. Reading the announcement email I found there was a link to a website he had created called rpr/works. I followed the link to his website and immediately found an article he had written near the end of his life that had amazing parallels and supports for the argument I made in my email, and I forwarded that article to everyone on the RMPJC staff. Here is a link to this article which is an absolute must read because it gets right to the heart of the Islamic issue: http://webpages.ursinus.edu/rrichter/spencerrobert.htm
Still, I felt it might be a bit of a stretch to call it a synchronicity, though on an intuitive level it felt as if his departed spirit were standing right next to me giving support. In my email I wrote:
“The synchronicity was that it was as if one of my benefactors, though no longer amongst the living, was stepping forward to support what I had just written with something he had written in the last year of his life.”
Well this morning I went back to read my former mentor’s article and noticed a far more amazing synchronicity, a parallelism that should even impress a statistician. At the very end of my 9,234 word email I adapt the famous quote from Hamlet:
“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamed of in your philosophy.”
Here’s the last sentence I wrote:
“There are more unseen variables at work than are accounted for in anyone’s philosophy, and as J.B.S. Haldane said, “Reality is not only stranger than you think, it’s stranger than you can think.”
Just a few minutes ago I came to the end of Richard’s essay (which the first time through I had read at great speed because it was late) and found that he ended his lengthy article as follows:
“We are learning in the uncontrollable aftermath of invasion that the Islamic world has roots and branches undreamt of in the Pentagon’s philosophy. Robert Spencer’s cautionary tale about jihad omits much about that complex and far-flung world; but it helps explain some things.”
He uses the word “philosophy” derived from the same Hamlet quote exactly 21 words before the final period of his lengthy article. I use the word “philosophy” twenty words from the final period of the last sentence of my 9,234 word document. When I noticed this amazing parallel I went to Google to look up the Hamlet quote and found a Richard Roony introducing it this way, reminding me of the context:
“The exchange is between Horatio, an intelligent empiricist, and Hamlet, a brooding, intuitive romantic. The two have just seen Hamlet’s father’s ghost. Horatio, shocked and disoriented, says: ‘O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!’ Hamlet replies: ‘And therefore as a stranger give it welcome. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamed of in your philosophy.’
The context of the quote is that they have just seen a ghost and the chain of synchronicities began with these parallel essays feeling like the departed spirit of my mentor was standing next to me! What’s more is that Hamlet is challenging the superficial rationality of Horatio and pointing out that there are phenomena that his rationalist philosophy cannot account for. Still more strange is the meaning now added to the J.B.S. Haldane quote that I closed with. After I wrote that at the end of my document— like most of my writing it just comes spilling out at high speed, driven by the muse—- and looked at it, I distinctly asked myself, Why am I ending with that quote? Seems a bit incongruous. But the intuitive confidence in it was very strong so I let it stand. Reality really is stranger than you can think.
I’m going to close this long and labyrinthine discussion with a quote from Richard’s rpr/works website where he expressed feelings about creating a website that so closely parallels the feelings I have about my site,
Keeping this website current is a labor of love (though sometimes it becomes just labor). As time goes on, its main value for me, I think, is that it gives me an efficient and accessible space in which to record and interconnect my interests. In a rough and ready way, it guides me, like a map, through the stages of thought that I experience.
Though visitors/readers are few, their access via the Web gives urgency and significance to my work; it would lack this real-world feel if I were simply stuffing finished pieces into a file folder. As one of those visitors, dear reader, you thus do me a friendly service by your presence.
The small constellation of files that make up this website connects directly to a whole universe of thought on the Web. I haven’t figured out quite why this lends new excitement to what I have been doing all my life, but it does.
I hope the time you spend here among my interests allows you to find something that touches your interests. I’m always glad to receive questions, comments, new ideas from visitors —RPR
Me too…. —-Jonathan
Again, please read the article linked above as it gives essential information on Islam.
Some New and very relevant material added on 1/18/06
From FLAME (Facts and Logic about the Middle East) Excerpts, slightly edited, from documents found on their website. (Usually, I disagree with FLAME whose stance is so reflexively pro Israeli that their arguments lose credibility. In this case, however, they make some sound points.)
There are many who are convinced that the existence of Israel and its “alien” presence in the predominantly Moslem Middle East is the “root cause” of the ongoing and never-ending violence in the area and of terror in the world. And that if it were not for Israel, peace would prevail and terror would cease. That premise is assiduously advocated by the Arab and Moslem nations.
Israel is a tiny country, with only six million inhabitants (a million of whom are Arabs). It is surrounded by 22 Arab countries, with 300 million people. Their combined land area is greater than that of all of Europe. (Israel is about the size of New Jersey) Despite this disparity in size and population, Arab propaganda has convinced the world, even many well-meaning people in the United States, that Israel is the mighty Goliath compared to the puny Arab states. It is a supreme irony that six million Israelis, surrounded by implacable enemies who are fixated on their destruction, are considered a mortal danger to the Arabs and perhaps even to the peace of the world. And that if it were not for the Jews, were it not for Israel, peace would descend and terror would cease.
Israel, despite constant propaganda to the contrary, is not the “root cause” of this strife and turmoil in the Middle East. Violence and war are endemic in Arab society and in Arab history. Israel was not involved in the deaths of the millions who died in the Iraq-Iran war. Arab-Moslems killed over a million black Christians and animists in the Sudan and brought intolerable suffering to that impoverished region. The Sudanese government, dominated by Arab-Moslems, didn’t lift a finger to help its citizens. Israel is certainly not involved in that. The thousands whom Hafez Assad, the father of the current president of Syria, slaughtered in the city of Hama have no connection with Israel. [written before the present Syrian meltdown and slaughter of tens of thousands of their own citizens] Abdal Gamel Nasser, the self-appointed president of Egypt, mortal enemy of Israel and instigator of the Six-Day War, did not invade Yemen and gas its people because of Israel. Saddam Hussein did not torture and kill tens of thousands of his own people and did not invade Kuwait because of Israel. The Lebanese did not stage their civil war and kill thousands of their own because of Israel. And there are many more examples of intra-Moslem or intra-Arab slaughter and mayhem. Israel was uninvolved in any of those. All of this would have taken place if Israel had never existed.
And how about terror? Again, many believe that Israel is the “root cause” of the terror that Arab-Moslems have visited and continue to visit upon the world. The attack on the United States on September 11, 2001, the destruction of the two U.S. embassies in West Africa, the bombing of trains in Spain, the murderous attacks on the London subway system, and so many other acts of terror would have taken place even if there were no Israel. And, many believe that if only the United States would withhold its support from Israel (and get out of Iraq), terror would cease and the world would no longer have to fear the scourge of suicide bombings, the invention of Arab-Moslems.
Many claim that Arab-Moslem terror is the result of despair, hopelessness, and poverty. But that is patently absurd. The Arabs are some of the richest people in the world, although, instead of using their enormous wealth to benefit their people, they squander it in bizarre luxury excesses for a privileged few. It is obvious nonsense that Arab-Moslem terror is the result of poverty. The nineteen hijackers were not poor or desperate. They were, without exception, well-educated people, members of upper-middle-class families. The leaders of such Arab-Moslem terror organizations as Hamas, Hezbollah or Islamic Jihad are educated people, from the upper reaches of their societies. And if hopelessness, deprivation of their “national rights,” and poverty would give rise to terror, how come that, even in the worst and most evil days of Jim Crow, American Negroes never engaged in systematic terror against their white fellow citizens? How come Tibetans don’t use terror against their Chinese overlords? How come the sub-Saharans of Sudan and other countries of Africa do not use terror against their Arab-Moslem oppressors?
In one of the most astonishing propaganda coups ever, a United Nations conference on racism, which took place in Durban South Africa in 2001, declared that Zionism is racism. No wonder the U.S. and Israel walked out of the meeting, which was dominated by representatives of Islamic and Arab states and other anti-Israel forces, and whose conclusions were predictable from the outset.
The supreme irony of this conference was that it accused no other nation of racism—only Israel. In truth, Israel is perhaps the most racially and ethnically diverse and tolerant country in the world. More than half of Israel’s Jewish population consists of people of color—blacks from Ethiopia and Yemen, as well as brown-skinned people from Morocco, Iran, Syria, Egypt and Israel itself. In addition, Israel’s population includes more than one million Arabs, who enjoy the same civil rights as Jewish Israelis. In Israel hate speech is banned, and it is against the law to discriminate based on race or religion.
In contrast, anti-Semitism—a poisonous form of racism directed specifically against the Jewish people—is rampant in most all Islamic societies. Not only is anti-Semitism commonplace in Muslim nations, but it is propagated shamelessly by their leaders, in state-sponsored media, and by Muslim clergy.
For example, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed declared in a 2003 speech to the Organization of Islamic Conference that, “today Jews rule the world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them.” Imagine if an American president had made a similarly sweeping and bigoted statement about blacks, Latinos or any other race—what a justifiable uproar, perhaps even an impeachment, would ensue. Yet there was no condemnation by the Muslim world of Mohamed’s comments. Rather, virtually all of the conference’s Muslim leaders actually voiced their approval.
In response to a terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia in May 2004, Crown Prince Abdullah declared that “Zionism is behind [these] terrorist actions in the kingdom.” (Zionism is the code word often used by Islamic anti-Semites for Jews.) U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos called the Prince’s assertion “an outrage . . . blatant hypocrisy,” but Islamic leaders were silent. In fact, millions of Muslims still insist that Zionists were behind the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
Anti-Semitism is expressed so freely and ubiquitously in most Islamic societies that no citizen can escape it. During Ramadan in 2002, Egypt’s state-controlled TV aired “Horseman Without a Horse,” a program based on the notorious forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, in which Jews allegedly use the blood of non-Jews to make Passover matzoth. In Iran, a TV series, “Zahra’s Blue Eyes,” portrays “Zionists” kidnapping Palestinian children and harvesting their organs.
Perhaps nowhere is the hatred of Jews more virulent than among the Palestinians. Most perniciously, Palestinian children are taught in school that Jews are descended from apes and pigs and that the most noble thing they can do is to kill Jews. Muslim clerics like Imam Ibrahim Madiras, an employee of the Palestinian Authority, declared in a 2005 television sermon, “Jews are a cancer” and later that, “Muslims will kill the Jews . . . [and] rejoice in Allah’s victory.” No surprise, then, that the 1982 doctoral dissertation of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas makes the astounding claim that “Zionists” collaborated with the Nazis to annihilate the Jewish people in order to drive the survivors to Palestine.
The myth that Israel’s “occupation of Arab lands” is the root cause of the conflict is just that – a myth! Arabs have been slaughtering Jews long before the “occupation,” long before the creation of the State of Israel in 1948. In 1929, for instance, Arabs killed 133 Jews and wounded 399 in Hebron. Those who were not killed fled, making the city, where Jews had lived for centuries, judenrein. The Mufti of Jerusalem met in 1941 with Adolf Hitler and declared his kinship with Nazi Germany because “we have the same enemy as Germany, namely the Jews.”
Palestine, which incorporated what is now the Kingdom of Jordan, had been part of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire for centuries. After World War I, Britain was given the Mandate over Palestine, which, in accordance with the Balfour Declaration, was to be the homeland for the Jewish people. This was formalized by the League of Nations and by the 52 nations that comprised it. In 1922, in violation of its Mandate, the British severed all the lands east of the Jordan River – 80 per cent of the Mandate – and gave it to the Arabs who, under the Hashemite rulers, created the Kingdom of Jordan. The Jews acquiesced to this betrayal. Britain finally relinquished its Mandate in 1947 and turned its responsibility over to the United Nations. They came up with a partition plan, by which the Arab sector was to be a contiguous land mass and the Jewish sector three discontiguous pieces. Jerusalem, located in the very center of the Arab sector, was to be “internationalized.” Most of the Jewish sector was the desolate Negev desert. The Jews accepted this plan. But the Arabs rejected it out of hand and invaded the nascent Jewish state with the armies of six nations. It cost thousands of lives and caused over 650,000 Arabs to flee. Had the Arabs compromised, they would now have had their state since 1948
….. In the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel again defeated the combined Arab might and remained in possession and administration of the Golan Heights, of Gaza, of the West Bank, of the Gaza Strip and of the entire city of Jerusalem. Israel had no intention of staying in possession of these territories. It waited for the Arabs to make proposals for peace, but that was not forthcoming. On the contrary, the Arab League met at Khartoum and promulgated their “three no’s”: no peace with Israel, no negotiation with Israel, and no recognition of Israel.
On Yom Kippur of 1973, Egypt and Syria once again attacked Israel. And again…. Israel defeated the combined Arab armies and drove across the Suez Canal and to within miles of Cairo. In the aftermath of that war, Egypt’s president Anwar Sadat came to Jerusalem and spoke to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. He offered a peace treaty, but imposed very tough conditions, among others, the return of the entire Sinai, with the cities that Israel had built; the return of the oil fields that Israel had developed (and which would have made it energy-independent for the foreseeable future); and relinquishing the strategic mountain passes and early warning systems that protected Israel against any future attack. It was the first time in recorded history that the vanquished imposed conditions on the victor.
In 2000, under the stewardship of President Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak made unprecedented concessions for the sake of peace: 98 per cent of the land that the Palestinians requested, control over most areas of eastern Jerusalem, and authority over the Temple Mount. To the dismay of Clinton, Arafat curtly rejected this dramatic offer, under the pretext that Israel would not accept the “return of the refugees.” That would have spelled the end of Israel as a Jewish state.
How about other nationalities that yearn for a homeland, for their own state? There are first of all the Basques, the vast majority of whom live in the northern region of Spain. They are a unique people, with a language and a culture that has no relationship to anything else in the world. They have been fighting to become liberated. But Spain – most vociferous in the promotion of a “Palestinian homeland” – refuses that. An independent Basque homeland would not endanger Spain in any way. But does the world, does the UN support the Basques in their quest for independence? Of course not!
Or take the Kurds. They are a distinct group. They live in a land that is part of Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Syria, and Armenia. They have been fighting for independence for centuries, but it has never been granted. An independent Kurdestan would not endanger the countries that now occupy it. But does the world, does the UN support the Kurds in their quest for independence? Of course not!
And then there are the Tibetans. They are a distinct people, unique in language and religion. They have been annexed by China, which has flooded the country with its “settlers.” The Chinese are fully in the process of making Tibet into an integral part of China. Clearly, an independent Tibet would not be any existential threat to China. But does the world, does the UN support the Tibetans in their quest for independence? Of course not!
The above are slightly edited excerpts from documents created by FLAME.
We hear much in the left about Palestinian refugees, but I’ve never heard a word from these circles about the greater number of recent Jewish refugees from Arab and Islamic nations. Here is the story of how one Arab nation, Iraq, made refugees of 125,000 Jews who were part of a Jewish community that had been in Iraq for 2,600 years.
The following excerpts are from “Dispossessed— How Iraq’s 2,600-year-old Jewish community was decimated in one decade” by Edwin Black published in Reform Judaism Winter 2004
…. approximately eleven Jews who have not chosen to leave….are the last vestiges of a 125,000-strong Jewish community whose ancestors flourished here for twenty-six centuries.
The dismantling of Iraqi Jewry, once the most established and affluent Jewish community in the Arab Middle East, began at 3 PM on June 1, 1941, some forty years before Saddam Hussein came to power. In Europe, the events of the next thirty-six hours would have been called a pogrom. Iraqi Jews called it the Farhud. Perhaps Farhud is best translated as violent dispossession.
The Farhud was not a spontaneous outburst; it was the culmination of an anti-Jewish campaign rooted in an alliance between the Mufti of Jerusalem and Adolf Hitler.
Seizing on the growing discontent, the pro-Nazi cleric Haj Muhammed Amin al Husseini, Mufti of Jerusalem and leader of the Arabs of Palestine, railed against the Jews…
The Mufti also entered into a secret pact with Germany, offering Iraq’s precious oil in exchange for the destruction of the Jews of Palestine and the Reich’s support of Arab national aspirations across the Middle East.
Jews were murdered and mutilated in the streets; women were raped as their horrified families looked on; infants were killed in front of their parents. Violence quickly spread across the city and beyond, as the gangs looted and torched Jewish shops, burned down synagogues, and defiled their Torahs.
The Mufti’s charge that the Iraqi Jews had pledged their loyalty to the Zionist cause was ironic, for the zeal that led waves of European Jews to settle in Palestine had no parallel in the Arab world. In fact, Iraqi Jews were decidedly anti-Zionist in the 1920s and 1930s—-so much so that no immigration representative, or shaliach, of the Jewish community in Palestine had been posted to Baghdad, and none was welcome. One high Zionist official, Chaim Arlosoroff, put it plainly: “The Jews there live contented lives, they are involved in all branches of commerce and economy, and therefore have no thought of emigrating.” To the Iraqi Jews, explained eminent Baghdad Jewish community leader Menahem S. Daniel, “any sympathy with the Zionist Movement is (seen as) nothing short of a betrayal of the Arab cause…Jews in this country hold indeed a conspicuous position. They form one-third of the population of the capital…”
(In Nazi Germany) …the Mufti…was accorded the personal protection of his host, SS chief Heinrich Himmler. Using Radio Berlin, he now called on Moslems throughout the Middle East to defeat the British and slaughter the Jews. In one fatwa he declared: “O Moslems! Proud Iraq has placed herself in the vanguard of this Holy Struggle…It is the duty of all Moslems to aid Iraq…and seek ever means to fight the enemy…Kill the Jews wherever you find them. This pleases Allah, history and religion. This saves your honor.”
By 1942 Arab unity would coalesce around the notion that all Iraqi Jews were Zionists and therefore enemies of the state.
The defeat of the Third Reich in 1945 only heightened hatred of Jews, as thousands of Holocaust survivors made their way to Palestine.
On November 29, 1947, the UN voted 33 yes, 13 no, with 10 abstentions, to create two states in Palestine: one Arab, the other Jewish. In response—and using the pretense that every Iraqi Jew with money was secretly funding Palestine—the Iraqi government adopted Nazi confiscatory techniques. Whether wealthy or not, Jews were forced to pay exorbitant fines as punishment for trumped-up offenses. One man, for example, was ordered to pay the equivalent of 10,000 pounds for possessing a gun, even though he had a permit. All the while, chants of “death to the Jews” were frequently heard on the streets of Baghdad and across the Iraqi provinces.
In April 1948, a month before Israel declared its independence, Iraq…joined other Arab countries in a military invasion of the new Jewish state. “This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres,” promised Azzam Pasha, secretary-general of the Arab League.
In its war on the Jews, the Iraqi government turned next to the statute books. On July 19, 1948, penal code Law 51 against anarchy, immorality, and communism was amended to include “Zionism.” Though the word was never defined, anyone accused of “Zionism” would face up to seven years in prison. The police conducted sweeps of thousands of Jewish homes searching for “evidence” of Zionist activity. If walls needed to be demolished to search, so be it. One Jewish man was sentenced to five years’ hard labor for merely possessing a scrap of paper with a biblical Hebrew inscription; the paper was declared a Zionist instrument. Hidden money was often deemed proof of illegal aid to Israel. Denouncing a Jew required the testimony of only two Moslem witnesses; the accused was allowed virtually no avenue of appeal, Hundreds of Jews were arrested, forced to confess under torture, heavily fined, sentenced, and jailed.
…..in October 1948, most Jewish government civil service employees—an estimated 1,500—were summarily dismissed, crippling communications, railroads, ports, and other key infrastructures. …Jewish businesses were boycotted and their owners arrested; their firms disappeared. Destitute Jewish businessmen and former government employees were now reduced to selling matches on the streets to avert arrest for vagrancy.
In late 1948, Israel’s Mossad, the clandestine agency created to spirit Jews out of Europe during the Holocaust, entered into secret negotiations with Iranian Prime Minister Said Maragai and his aides, who, over time, received bribes totaling $450,000. On February 13, 1950, Maragai announced that his country would open its doors to Jews as a grand humanitarian gesture…Soon, some 1,000 Jews per month were flowing into Iran, requiring the creation of refugee transit camps. One of the most overcrowded camps was in an Iranian cemetery. It was nicknamed “Hell.”
On March 3, 1950, to stem the flight of Jewish assets, Prime Minister Tawfig as Suwaydi introduced a one-year amendment to Law 1, the Denaturalization Act. The amendment revoked the citizenship of any Jew who willingly left the country. All his assets would be frozen….Once a Jew registered to emigrate, the decision was irrevocable, and the individual was required to leave within fifteen days.
In March 1951, newly re-installed Iraqi Prime Minister Said realized that his 125,000 captive Jews could be turned into a demographic weapon against Israel. Said marshaled the passage of another anti-Jewish statute: Law 12, which permanently seized the assets of Jews who had been denaturalized by the previous law…. Formulated in secret, Law 12 was presented to leading Iraqi government officials only minutes before the vote. As the measure was being ratified, Baghdad’s telephones went dead, ensuring that Jews did not learn of the law in time to transfer their assets. And if those precautions weren’t enough, the government ordered the banks closed for three days.
Israel’s Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett vociferously condemned Iraq’s extortion and state-sponsored theft as “robbery by force of law.” “We have a reckoning to conduct with the Arab world,” Sharett declared, vowing “the value of the Jewish property in Iraq would be taken into account by us in calculating the sum of the compensation we have agreed to pay to Arabs who abandoned property in Israel.”
Hoping that the Jewish state would crack beneath the economic burden of the mass rescue, Prime Minister Said demanded that Israel absorb 10,000 Iraqi Jewish refugees per month. He also set a deadline—May 31, 1951—after which no more exit visas would be issued. If Israel did not accept these stateless enemies at once, he warned, the concentration camps would be readied.
Israel had no choice but to accelerate the rescue of Iraqi Jewry by as many as 15,000 per month…. The daily spectacle of forlorn Jews, clutching nothing but a bag and their clothes, being hustled into truck after truck, was cause for great jubilation on the streets of Baghdad. But the Jews were able to get out. Between January 1950 and December 1951, Israel airlifted, bussed, or otherwise smuggled out 119,788, all but a few thousand who were too elderly or too unconvinced to leave.
In the 1960s, state harassment of the remaining Jews rose and receded with the political tides. One of the low points came on January 27, 1969, when the six-month-old Ba’ath regime of Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr tried fourteen men, nine of them Jews—including the son of Iraq’s chief rabbi and family members of prominent Iraqi Jewish merchants–most falsely accused of being Zionist spies and saboteurs. Despite the worldwide revulsion over the show trials as well as foreign and UN pleas to halt them, the military court sentenced all fourteen to death by hanging in the public squares of Baghdad and Basra. The condemned Jews wore signs—marked “Jew”—affixed to their clothes. In Baghdad, the entire city had been summoned by radio to enjoy the “happy occasion.” A chanting throng of 200,000, led by President al-Bakr himself, marched to the square. As the men were executed, the crowd erupted in a roar. During the full day that the men were left hanging in the sun, exhilarated Baghdadis desecrated the bodies.
In mid-July 1979, Al-Bakr announced his resignation for “health reasons.” His right-hand man, Saddam Hussein, immediately assumed the presidency and launched a murderous assault on anyone deemed disloyal. Jews were afraid to leave their homes. Their synagogues became surreptitious gathering places. The systematic pauperization placed many Jews on the brink of starvation.
After each war with Israel, Baghdad’s persecution of its dwindled Jewish community ratcheted up, and more and more terrified Iraqi Jews smuggled themselves out of Iraq and into Israel. The most recent of these exits was on June 22, 2004.
Today, about eleven Jews are all who remain of the once glorious Jewish community–2,600 years in the making, but dismantled in a decade.
Feb. 3, 2006
Hamas would now like to blow up another country, that sinister, Zionist, imperialist, aggressor nation…. Denmark. And for the most horrendous of offenses—newspaper cartoons allowed by the unIslamic principle of free speech. Do you expect Israel to be able to make peace with people who fly into a homicidal rage against Scandinavians a few thousand miles away who print cartoons? The following is from AP:
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip Feb 3, 2006 — Tens of thousands of angry Muslims marched through Palestinian cities, burning the Danish flag and calling for vengeance Friday against European countries where caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad were published.
Whoever defames our prophet should be executed,” said Ismail Hassan, 37, a tailor who marched through the pouring rain along with hundreds of others in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
“Bin Laden our beloved, Denmark must be blown up,” protesters in Ramallah chanted.
In mosques throughout Palestinian cities, clerics condemned the cartoons. An imam at the Omari Mosque in Gaza City told 9,000 worshippers that those behind the drawings should have their heads cut off.
“If they want a war of religions, we are ready,” Hassan Sharaf, an imam in Nablus, said in his sermon.
About 10,000 demonstrators, including gunmen from the Islamic militant group Hamas firing in the air, marched through Gaza City to the Palestinian legislature, where they climbed on the roof, waving green Hamas banners.
“We are ready to redeem you with our souls and our blood our beloved prophet,” they chanted. “Down, Down Denmark.”
Thousands of protesters in the center of Nablus burned at least 10 Danish flags. In Jenin, about 1,500 people demonstrated, burning Danish dairy products. Hundreds protested in Jericho, and protests were held in towns throughout Gaza.
Associated Press Writers Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Sinan Salaheddin in Baghdad, Iraq; Selcan Hacaoglu in Ankara, Turkey; Benjamin Harvey in Istanbul, Turkey; Maria Sanminiatelli in Rome; Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark; Munir Ahmad in Islamabad, Pakistan; and Irwan Firdaus in Jakarta, Indonesia, contributed to this report.
Copyright 2006 The Associated Press
Rome – A top leader of Hamas said caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad printed recently in European media are an “unforgivable insult” that should be punished with death, an Italian paper said on Saturday.
“We should have killed all those who offend the Prophet and instead here we are, protesting peacefully,” Mahmoud Zahar, a top leader of the militant Islamic group that won the January 25 Palestinian elections, told Italian daily Il Giornale.
The drawings have sparked growing anger among Muslims.
Bombings and boycotts
In Gaza City, Palestinian militants threw a bomb at a French cultural center on Friday, and many Palestinians began boycotting European goods, especially those from Denmark, where the cartoons where first printed.
Tens of thousands of incensed Muslims marched through Palestinian cities, burned the Danish flag and called for vengeance, as similar protests were held elsewhere in the Muslim world.
“We should have killed them, we should have required just punishment for those who respect neither religion not its holiest symbols,” Zahar was quoted as saying in the interview with Il Giornale.
Something Is Rotten Outside the State of Denmark
– Cinnamon Stillwell
Wednesday, February 8, 2006
A worldwide battle for free speech is taking place, with Denmark at the center of the storm.
It all began last September when a Danish author writing a book on Islam was unable to find artists willing to submit illustrations because of the Islamic stricture against visual representations of Muhammad. To try and call attention to the issue, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten put out a call for cartoonists to submit depictions of Muhammad. Twelve cartoons were submitted and eventually printed in the newspaper.
The cartoons themselves were a mixed bunch. Some merely depicted Muhammad as a man, which is by no means a historical first. Other, more provocative drawings alluded to the realities of terrorism and misogyny in the Muslim world. But in the risqué realm of political cartoons, they could hardly be construed as derogatory toward an entire religion. If compared to the body of criticism and satire connected to Western religion, the cartoons were downright tame. Government-subsidized art in the West using human urine and elephant dung to depict Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary come to mind.
But judging by the reaction from the Muslim world, one would think that a crime against humanity had been committed. The response so far has included demands for apologies and censorship, violent protests, Danish flag-burnings, attacks on Danish aid workers, employees, diplomats and embassies, as well as terrorist warnings and death threats. On several occasions, the staff at Jyllands-Posten was forced to evacuate the building after a bomb threat, and the cartoonists who drew the Muhammad series have now gone into hiding.
In Denmark, a group of radical imams and Danish Muslim organizations tried to pressure the newspaper’s editor, Carsten Juste, and Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen into apologizing. Juste acknowledged that the cartoons may have offended Muslims, but he refused to express regret over the decision or to back down on the issue of free speech. Rasmussen issued an apology to the Muslim community but would not cave in to demands that he censor Jyllands-Posten. As he put it, “Independent media are not edited by the government.”
The campaign to defame Denmark soon went international, with calls for Muslim consumers around the world to boycott Danish products. As a result, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Libya, Kuwait and the Palestinians pledged to join the boycott, and more Muslim countries are sure to follow. The boycott is already having an impact on sectors of Denmark’s economy, with workers being laid off and businesses put at risk.
Islamists Fan the Flames
No doubt the furor was inflamed by the spreading of three false and ridiculously over-the-top cartoons via a report handed out by a group of Danish imams touring the Muslim world and meeting with political, religious and media figures. Spokesman Akhmad Akkari actually admitted that the drawings had been added, but claimed the cartoons had been sent to them anonymously. It seems that the original cartoons were not sufficiently offensive to whip the Muslim masses into a frenzy.
Whether the protesters constitute large portions of the Muslim population or simply a radical fringe is still questionable. It certainly is odd that the cartoons came out in September and are only now causing such an uproar. How all those Danish flags suddenly appeared across the Muslim world is another curiosity. Could it be that this “movement” was in fact orchestrated? The finger has been pointed at Syria and Iran as possible contenders.
But some Muslims have chosen not to follow the script. Emboldened by the fortitude of their countrymen, Danish Muslims in the city of Arhus have begun to speak out against the radical imams who purport to represent them. “There is a large group of Muslims in this city who want to live in a secular society and adhere to the principle that religion is an issue between them and God and not something that should involve society,” said city official and organizer Bünyamin Simsek.
The Danish cartoon controversy is certainly not the first example of European writers and artists trying to tackle subjects relating to Islam and encountering resistance. The murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh in 2004 was an earlier wake-up call. Van Gogh was ritualistically murdered by Islamic extremist Muhammad Bouyeri because his film “Submission” shed light on the oppression of women in Islamic culture. His partner, Ayan Hirsi Ali, born in Somalia and a member of parliament, was forced to go into hiding, and she retains extensive security to this day. Interestingly, none of the Hollywood glitterati came to Van Gogh’s defense or even referenced his brutal murder.
Similarly, in 1989 when the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa authorizing Muslims to murder British author Salman Rushdie for his allegedly blasphemous book, “The Satanic Verses,” Western apologists for radical Islam said nothing. The leader of the terrorist group Hezbollah in Lebanon, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, recently invoked that case, saying that the cartoon dispute would never have occurred had the death sentence against Rushdie been carried out.
And now an Iranian newspaper has decided to test Westerners’ commitment to free speech by holding a contest for the most inflammatory Holocaust cartoons. When the expected riots and death threats fail to materialize, perhaps that will be a lesson in free speech to those who really need it.
Today’s apologists condemn the Danish cartoons, while ignoring real offenses from the Muslim world. Somehow Muslims inciting hatred toward other religions on a regular basis has become acceptable, while honest analysis of Islam has not. The daily eruptions of anti-Semitic and anti-American sentiment from the Muslim world are hardly pleasant for those on the receiving end. But instead of stifling speech, opponents challenge such expression on the intellectual and political battlefields. Yet some would have us turn a blind eye instead.
How did this double standard arise? The answer is multiculturalism. Not the multiculturalism of different cultures living side by side, but the ideology that renders all cultures equal and therefore none worthy of condemnation. Such moral equivalence allows for the most backward traditions to flourish, even when they are destructive to the society as a whole. When democratic societies find themselves dominated by intolerant cultures to which they have given sanctuary, everyone’s freedom is put at risk.
Multiculturalism also has the effect of erasing any unifying culture or nationality in favor of a collection of balkanized groups with nothing in common. In such an environment, integration is forsaken and culture clashes are sure to follow. The Muslim riots in France last year were a prime example. Many a reporter chalked it up to the lack of integration in French society, but few followed that line of thought to its logical conclusion and named multiculturalism as the root cause.
Political correctness is another of multiculturalism’s destructive offshoots, and there are certainly those in the West who would shield Muslim populations from legitimate criticism. But they are actually doing more harm than good. Much-needed reform will never be possible until Muslims learn to withstand examination like everyone else. Islam should be subjected to all the scholarly interpretation, self-reflection, humor and even insult that Western religions experience.
Beyond economic need, one of the reasons many Muslims immigrated to Western countries in the first place was to enjoy the sort of freedom denied to them in their native lands.
One of the most important and hard-won rights in the West is free speech. When free speech is chipped away in the name of avoiding offense, all else is soon forfeit. Western countries will have to decide where to draw the line — or find themselves overtaken by tyranny.
Cinnamon Stillwell is a San Francisco writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
“The Saudi ruling family hosted a telethon for Palestinian martyrs. The imam they chose to promote this fundraiser, al-Buraik, said, ‘I am against America. My hatred of America, if part of it was contained in the universe, would cause it to collapse. She is the root of all evils and wickedness on earth. O, Muslims, don’t take the Jews and Christians as allies. Muslim brothers in Palestine, do not have any mercy, neither compassion, on the Jews, their blood, their money, their flesh. Their women are yours to take, legitimately. Allah made them yours. Why don’t you enslave their women? Why don’t you wage jihad? Why don’t you pillage them?’
Rabbi Reuven Firestone, author of “Jihad: The Origin of Holy War in Islam” and Professor of Medieval Judaism and Islam at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles, offers his insights into the events of September 11.
The queries have come in steadily since the great increase in suicide bombings by Muslim Palestinians during the past year, but since Sept. 11, they have come virtually non-stop. “Does Islam condone suicide? Does Islam condone killing noncombatants? Does Islam teach that a martyr who enters heaven gets the pleasure of 70 virgins? Does Islam really teach the universal doctrine of ‘Islam or the sword?’ Does Islam hate Jews and Judaism?” or, “Does Islam fundamentally hate anyone and anything not Muslim or Islamic?”
Americans know almost nothing about Islam beyond what they pick up from films and novels and news reports (much of it erroneous). Israelis probably know even less, though many have the bad habit of claiming (with some swagger) that they know Muslims because they live with them. The truth of the matter is that Israelis don’t live with Muslims, hardly see them beyond what they see on their own televisions, and tend to have an extremely distorted view of Islam. We few who know something about Islam are bombarded with questions and asked for interviews, but given the hurry and the nature of media discourse, the short answers often confuse more than clarify.
Simplistic clarifications by so-called “Muslim scholars” often confuse the situation even more, because virtually any Muslim can claim to be a scholar and speak on behalf of Islam. From my own experience, many of them seem not to know what they are talking about.
So how do we arrive at the truth about Islam? Is it a fundamentally violent and hateful religion, as its detractors have claimed? Or is it a religion of compassion and reason, as its Muslim adherents insist? To answer this question, we must first look inward. How have its champions and its enemies characterized Judaism? We have suffered the abuse of religious character assassination by those who not only have hated us, but also by those who have feared us. Anyone who can read is able to find excerpts in translation from the Bible and from our Talmud and midrash that would curdle the blood of any innocent reader who doesn’t know the context of the citations. Our great King David arranged the murder of an innocent man because he lusted over the poor man’s wife (2 Samuel 11). Rabbis incinerate their opponents (Shabbat 34a, Sanhedrin 100a). The Torah even calls for mass extermination, for genocide of the native Canaanite inhabitants of the land (Deuteronomy 7). It is just as easy to find violent material in the Quran and in the second most important source of Islamic religious teaching: the Hadith literature (parallel to Oral Law in Judaism). It almost need not be said that one can just as well find material urging compassion for the needy, the poor, the homeless, the orphan and widow.
One of my criticisms of self-proclaimed pundits of Islam is that they do not cite their sources. Take a look at some of the key issues that lie at the core of the questions listed above.
About a week before the suicide massacres and destruction of the World Trade Center towers in New York, 60 Minutes claimed to have interviewed a Palestinian working for and with suicide bombers intending to kill Israelis. Interviewed in Arabic, the English voice-over translation had the man claiming that a martyr who enters Paradise will enjoy the sexual pleasures of 70 or 72 virgin women.
A number of self-proclaimed Muslim scholars accused 60 Minutes of distorting the transcript and demanded an apology. They claimed to have heard the original Arabic in spite of the loud English voice-over and emphatically stated that he said nothing of the sort. They even went further, to claim that Islam would never teach such a thing. This was clearly an attempt to avoid public embarrassment, but the truth is that according to Islamic lore and tradition, a male who enters heaven enters what we in the West would consider a hedonistic paradise full of physical and sensual pleasures. This is simply a fact. The origin of this view most certainly lies in the context of the extremely stark and difficult life of ancient Bedouin Arabia. Something as simple as the constant flow of water in a stream was considered miraculous, so it would be natural to imagine heaven as flowing with streams of water under the shade of huge trees.
But there are other delights as well, according to a Hadith in an authoritative collection called Sunan al-Tirmidhi, which would be on the shelves of any Muslim scholar. In my edition, published in Beirut, it can be found in a section called “The Book of Description of the Garden,” chapter 23, titled “The least reward for the people of Heaven,” Hadith number 2562. The Hadith reads literally as follows: “Sawda (Tirmidhi’s grandfather) reported that he heard from Abdullah, who received from Rishdin b. Sa’d, who in turn learned from Amr b. al-Harith, from Darraj, from Abul-Haytham, from Abu Sa’id al-Khudri, who received it from the Apostle of God [Muhammad]: The least [reward] for the people of Heaven is 80,000 servants and 72 wives, over which stands a dome of pearls, aquamarine and ruby, as [wide as the distance] between al-Jaabiyya and San’a.” That these 72 wives are virgin is confirmed by Quran (55:74) and commentaries on that verse. Al-Jaabiyya was a suburb of Damascus, according to the famous 14th century commentator, Isma’il Ibn Kathir, so one personal jeweled dome would stretch the distance from Syria to Yemen, some 1,600 miles.
Was this tradition intended to be believed literally? Do Muslims believe it literally? Are they required to? This particular Hadith has technical weaknesses in its chain of transmitters and is therefore not considered impeccable, though it is listed in an authoritative collection. As a result, Muslims are not required to believe in it, though many inevitably do (but an even more respectable Hadith with virtually the same message can be found in Tirmidhi K. Fada’il al-Jihad 25:1663). I am sure that many believe that they will experience incredible physical pleasures when they enter heaven. I personally have no problem with that. Religions inevitably expect their adherents to believe things that would seem absurd to believers of other religions.
The more important question is, who is privileged to enter heaven according to Islam? Does a suicide bomber who kills innocent people merit entrance into heaven? The answer to this question would appear to be quite clear. Because Islam is a religious civilization that has been associated with political power for many centuries, its religious scholars have had the responsibility to deal with issues of state and with issues of war. Islam, therefore, has a lot to say on such issues. On the issue of suicide and harming innocents, Islam is unambiguous.
The four schools of Islamic law expressly forbid the harming of noncombatants. These include women, children, monks and hermits, the aged, blind and insane. In the most authoritative collection of Hadith, the Sahih al-Bukhari (The Book of Jihad, chapters 147-147, Hadiths 257-258), Muhammad expressly disapproves and then forbids the slaying of women and children. “A woman was found killed during one of the Apostle of God’s battles, so the Apostle of God forbade the killing of women and children.” This message is found in a number of authoritative collections and has been formalized in the legal literature. Islam also expressly forbids suicide, the punishment for which is eternal reenactment of the act and revisitation of the pain. Sahih al-Bukhari (K. Jana’iz 82:445-446) has the following on the authority of the Prophet: “Whoever commits suicide with a piece of iron will be punished with the same piece of iron in Hell. Whoever commits suicide by throttling shall keep on throttling himself in Hell [forever], and whoever commits suicide by stabbing shall keep on stabbing himself in Hell [forever].”
On the other hand, martyrdom in war for Islamic cause is praised extensively throughout the literature. The Quran teaches (3:169): “Do not consider those killed [while engaging] in God’s cause dead. Rather, they live with their Lord, who sustains them!” The Quranic idiom, “killed while engaging in God’s cause” is a reference to martyrdom for acting on being a Muslim, whether as a persecuted and powerless individual or as a warrior fighting for the expansion of the world of Islam. Perhaps the most compelling expression is composed of the idioms found in the most authoritative sources and attributed to the Prophet, “Paradise is [found] under the shade of swords,” or “Paradise is under the gleam of swords” (Sahih Bukhari, Jihad, 22:73). Muhammad’s companion, Abu Hurayra, said that he heard the Prophet say: “By the One in Whose hands is my soul [i.e., by God], I would love to be martyred [while engaged] in God’s cause, then be resurrected, then martyred, then resurrected, then martyred, then resurrected, and then martyred” (Sahih Bukhari, Jihad 7:54). A Hadith in Sunan al-Tirmidhi states that in contrast to the suicide, the martyr does not even feel the pain of his death (Fada’il al-Jihad, 26:1663). He is also forgiven all his sins and has the right to intercede on behalf of his own family to enter Heaven.
So suicide is forbidden, killing of noncombatants is forbidden, but martyrdom is rewarded with entrance into heaven and, therefore, with great material rewards in the world to come. We are beginning to uncover the complexity of the problem. It rests to a great extent on interpretation and the authority of those who make the interpretations. One stable person’s definition of suicide may be interpreted as martyrdom by a fanatic. All these categories may be easily manipulated by fanatical, desperate, or evil people. A reasonable person’s obvious identification of innocent noncombatants may be categorized as Satan’s hordes by someone who is desperate and confused…
This article appeared originally in The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, September 28, 2001
The following was put together by my friend, Sean Moffitt of the Women’s Assistance Fund
The following instances, reported by various news sources, authors and human rights organizations (all cited), represent just a drop in the ocean of modern female experience under fundamentalist states. These randomly selected vignettes are designed to give someone new to this subject matter a general idea of attitudes and practices carried out against women under such systems. We hope that this raises your awareness and curiosity enough to look further into the issue. Please review our website for additional information, sources and links to other organizations, etc.
“We don’t want to see equality between men and women because according to Islamic law men should have double that of women. This is written in the Koran and according to God”
—–Muhammed Kuraidy, spokesman for Ayatollah Yacoubi, speaking about the formation of the new Iraqi political system in the wake of the deposition of Saddam Hussein. –New York Times
Feb. 6 2005 Jan 2, 2004, Kuwait City: A father straps his 13-year-old daughter to a chair in front of her siblings and slashes her throat because he feared she had lost her virginity. Forensic tests showed that she had not. – BBC News
Jan. 26 2005 Ankara Turkey -Father wraps a wire around his 14-year-old daughter’s throat and strangles her for being kidnapped and raped. – Star-telegram.com
April 30, 2004 Islamabad, Pakistan has averaged 500 to 600 “stove burnings” every year for the past decade, in which the victim is dowsed with kerosene and set on fire. 30% are pregnant at the time of burning. There are no burn centers in Pakistan. –Human Rights Watch Alum Rock, Birmingham, England
-Sadja Bibi was stabbed 22 times by her cousin on her wedding day for breaking the long standing family tradition of only marrying first cousins. – BBC News, October 15 2003
17 year old Farzana reported daily beatings and starvation imposed by her husband before being burned alive by her in-laws. – Radio Free Afghanistan, Feb 4, 2005
13 year old Rofayda Qaoud was raped by her two brothers in the West Bank town of Abu Qash. As punishment for being raped her mother tied a plastic bag over her head, slashed her wrists with a razor blade and beat her to death with a stick. – Worldnetdaily
November 18, 2003 Article 475 of Moroccan Penal Code states that if a child is abducted and raped, all legal action against the rapist will cease if the rapist marries the victim. –World Organization Against Torture 2003
A brother kills his sister with an ax for trying to flee her abusive husband -Jordan Times, August 6, 2004
In the book Burned Alive: Victim of the Law of Men, the author, “Souad” (not her real name), from a West Bank village, witnessed her brother kill her ten year old sister by strangling her with a telephone cord. She had received a telephone call, so her father insisted she must be a prostitute. Souad’s mother gave birth to 14 children and smothered 9 of her baby daughters to death. Souad survived an attempted honor killing in which her brother-in-law poured gasoline over her and set her on fire for allegedly having sex out of wedlock. Though the identity of her assailant was provided to police, he was never arrested.
Zahida Pavin’s husband hung her from the ceiling, beat her with an ax-handle, gouged out her eyes with a metal rod and cut her ears and nose off because he feared she was having an affair. She denies the allegations. -National Geographic and Rozanehmagazine.com July-August, 2002
After marrying an Iranian man who neglected to tell her she would be his eighth wife, an American woman was imprisoned in an apartment in Iran. Her husband broke both of her legs as punishment for trying to escape. – She is now a member of the Women’s Assistance Fund
80% of all rural girls in Egypt have their genitals irreparably mutilated and more than 40% in major cities like Cairo.
—The Price of Honor
25,000 girls and women are burned alive in India every year. –Women’s Day Magazine, March 8, 2005
More than one thousand women in one year killed for honor in the province of Punjab, Pakistan. —Human Rights Advocacy Civic Litigation Report, 1999
2000 girls were burned alive over a ten-month period in Pakistan. One precinct in Lahore was reporting 10-15 burnings per month.
—The Price of Honor
A 1991 study by Human Rights Watch reported that seventy percent of women in Pakistan in custody for being raped are subsequently abused by the police. Gang rape and insertion of police batons covered in chili pepper was reported. 16 year old Yasmeen Abdullah was raped in March 1998. Upon her release from prison, her brother Sahran shot her in the head. Sahran was viewed as a hero in his community and was quoted as saying “Now the men in my family can sit with other men without losing face.” —The Price of Honor
Sait Kina killed his 13 year old daughter with a knife and an ax in Istanbul, Turkey, claming “I have fulfilled my duty.” In his court appearance he stated, “I killed her for going out with boys.” – Washington Post, August 8, 2001
Ahmedi Begum was hauled to jail and gang raped by police in Lahore. After raping her 50 times, police forced an oversized truncheon covered with chili paste into her rectum. She was beaten unconscious and awoke in prison. Her crime was failing to rent a room to a police officer. – The Price of Honor
22 year old Sakina was blinded by an acid attack by her husband, Zahid for having an opinion of her own. Zahid was never arrested. – CBSNews.com April 5 2003
Islamabad, 2004. There were 124 cases of gang rape reported and unprosecuted. Many of the girls were later killed by family members. –Human Rights Commission of Pakistan
A Palestinian family left a four year old daughter to bleed to death after being raped by a 25 year old man. – Suzan Ruggi –Jerusalem Times
Iran – A woman is sentenced to death by stoning for suspicion of “acts contrary to chastity” – Amnesty International Dec. 17, 2004.
The Koran states that the size of the stone should not be large enough to kill with one throw.
In the period from March 22, 2004 to Feb 4 2005, 234 women burned themselves alive in Herat Afghanistan to escape abusive husbands, some as young as 14 years old. They saw this as the only escape from abusive husbands. –Radio Free Europe
Jordan- Two sisters are hacked to death by their ax-wielding brothers the day after parliament rejected a bill to impose tougher punishment for “honor crimes” – BBC report
September 11, 2003 In its’ 2002 report, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan estimated that, in a country with 145 million people, 90 percent of Pakistani women suffer domestic abuse. “Particularly alarming,” the report said, “is the soaring number of cases of mutilation from pouring acid over women.” – CBSNews.com April 5 2003
1,250 women killed in Pakistan for family honor in 2004. This number does not include “stove burnings” which are reported as suicides by family members. –Kurdish Women Against Honor Killings website
Article 418 of Moroccan Penal Code grants leniency for husbands who beat or murder wives suspected of misbehavior. This often means the husband only spends a few months in jail. –World Organization Against Torture
In most Islamic countries the legal marrying age for girls is ten, or at her first menses. Midwives assisting births in Afghanistan commonly report girls of 12 giving birth. –International Midwife Assistance (IMA)
Afghanistan has the highest infant and maternal mortality rate in the world. –IMA
35 year old Pakistani woman Faizan Mai was physically tortured for years by her husband for not giving birth to a son. In 2002 She killed herself and her two daughters to escape the abuse. -Human Rights Watch
Article 36 of the Personal Status Code of Morocco states that women must obey their husbands. –World Organization Against Torture
In Morocco, women do not have the legal right to determine the number, spacing or timing of their children. -World Organization Against Torture
2003 Sharia Laws are upheld by passages from the Koran. –“Men are the masters of women because Allah made one to excel the other; and as to those in whom you fear disobedience, admonish them, leave them alone in the bed and beat them; then if they obey you do not seek a way against them…Allah is high, Great.” –The Koran Surah 4 verse 34
The Government of Pakistan sided with Islamists against a motion to strengthen laws that would promote harsher penalties for perpetrators of honor killings. –BBC World News March 7, 2005
“Women are deficient in intelligence and religion. Never will succeed a nation which makes a woman ruler.” Mohammed –Hadiths, Book of Life
Politics needs a certain mental ability, there are very few women with this kind of mind.” –Ahmad Saati, spokesperson for the University of Gaza as quoted in Nine Parts of Desire
“The Government of the Kingdom of Morocco makes reservations…particularly regarding the equality of men and women in respect of rights…Equality of this kind is incompatible with Islamic Sharia.” –World Organization Against Torture 2003
Marital Rape and domestic violence are not punishable by Moroccan law. The husband has legal right to the body of his wife whenever he wants. Moroccan Law officials do not respond to domestic violence complaints as it is regarded as a family matter and probably deserved by the woman. – World Organization Against Torture 2003
Article 97 and 98 of the Jordanian Penal Code ensures that a husband who is “provoked” will receive reduced sentences or exemption of penalties for murder of female members of his family. – Christian Science Monitor March 2, 2005
Article 548 of the Syrian Penal Code ensures exemption from penalty for a husband who murders a wife suspected of illegitimate sex. -About.com
“Mere beating and light injury shall not be penalized.’ – Libyan Penal Code Article 420
Lesser penalties shall apply to crimes of wounding and beating without intent to kill even if death does result if committed by the head of the family. – Moroccan Penal Code Article 257
Whosoever commits a crime in an outburst of extreme anger resulting from a grave action shall be liable for lesser penalty. – Lebanese Penal Code Article 17
In crimes requiring the sympathy of the court (honor crimes) the Judge can reduce penalties. – Algerian Penal Code Article 409
A man who kills his wife for adultery will receive a sentence not to exceed three years. –Iraqi Penal Code Article 153
A man who kills his wife, daughter, mother or sister for adultery will receive a sentence not exceeding three years or a fine not to exceed 3000 dinars. –Kuwaiti Penal Code Article 188
A man who sees his wife in a state of disgraceful adultery will be exempt from liability of murder. – Ottoman Penal Code.
The previous 8 entries were sited from Center for Islamic and Middle Eastern Laws and Inter-rights Honor Crimes Project
According to a canonical hadith, (Sahih Muslim, Book 40, Number 6985), if a Jew seeks refuge under a tree or a stone, these objects will be able to speak to tell a Muslim: “There is a Jew behind me; come and kill him!”
In Islamic eschatology, Jesus will set things right at the end of the world. He will return to end the second-class dhimmi status of non-Muslims in Islamic societies – not by initiating a new era of equality and harmony, but by abolishing Christianity and imposing Islam upon everyone. As Muhammad explained: “By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, surely (Jesus) the son of Mary will soon descend amongst you and will judge mankind justly (as a Just Ruler); he will break the Cross and kill the pigs and there will be no Jizya (i.e. taxation taken from non Muslims)” (Bukhari, vol. 4, book 60, no. 3448).
Another tradition puts it this way: “He will break the cross, kill swine, and abolish jizyah. Allah will perish all religions except Islam” (Sunan Abu Dawud, bk. 37, no. 4310). And yet another hadith has Muhammad saying: “How will you be when the son of Mary (i.e. Jesus) descends amongst you and he will judge people by the Law of the Qur’an and not by the law of Gospel” (Bukhari, vol. 4, bk. 60, no. 3449). —Robert Spenser
Part III is a dialogue on parts one and two with a worthy Islamic opponent