Oral Traditions in Islam and Judaism

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Oral Traditions in Islam and Judaism

Original Guest Post

by JustStoppingBy

Both Judaism and Islam rely on oral traditions that explain and put texts into context and can help counter misperceptions of the religions.

One of the sources of Islamophobia and Judeophobia is the selective quoting of religious passages that, either taken out of their literal context or without the context of how they have been interpreted, suggest that the adherents of Islam and Judaism repeat and harbor seemingly harsh views.  When the literal context is missing, sometimes just referring to the preceding or following verses is sufficient to counter any misconceptions and let a stereotype go.  In other instances, the religions’ oral traditions may help elucidate how adherents read those verses.

As Passover approaches, I want to highlight two well-known (at least among Jews) portions of the Jewish oral tradition that appear at the Passover seder and how, in broad terms, they relate to some well-known portions of the Islamic oral tradition because they are used by adherents to help put other texts into context.  The Passover seder relates the story of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt.  Within the story, there is a listing of the ten plagues with which the Egyptians were smitten.  As each plague is recited, Jews either spill a drop of wine or use a finger (more traditionally) or utensil to take a drop of wine from their cup and discard it on a plate or napkin.  It is not clear how far back the common explanation for this ritual goes, though it is at least as far as Rabbi Yitzhak Ben Yehuda Abarbanel, or Don Isaac Abarbanel. (1437-1508) who wrote, “The custom is to drip drops of wine out of the cup when counting the plagues to indicate that our joy is not whole because on our account an entire people was punished. Even though the enemy deserved that defeat, it does not cause us real joy.”

My guess is that the explanation, if not the tradition itself, developed over time.  A likely reason is that Jews saw a “difficult text,” or one that can have multiple interpretations, and wished to emphasize the interpretations that resonated with their view of their religion’s morality.  A similar portion of oral history that works its way into many seders  is a midrash, or interpretation of the Torah, found in the Talmud that describes what was happening in Heaven as the Red Sea closed over the Egyptian army that was pursuing the Children of Israel: “The ministering angels wanted to chant their hymns, but the Holy One, blessed be He, said, The work of my hands is being drowned in the sea, and shall you chant hymns?”  As is the case with many midrashim, some Jews take this as a literal revelation and others as a story made up later to provide a moral lesson.  For my purposes here, it does not matter which it is.  Rather, what matters is that hundreds of years after this midrash was first recorded, Jews find it worthwhile to retell every year because it provides context for our understanding of an important Jewish text.

Turning to Islam, I would like to highlight a few portions of its oral history.  One I take from anessay by Imam Shamsi Ali, who writes, “Our oral history records Muhammad’s last sermon as containing the following guidance: ‘Even as the fingers of the two hands are equal, so are human beings equal to one another.  No one has any right, nor any preference to claim over another.  You are brothers.’”   I chose this quote not because of its meaning, but because of how Imam Shamsi Ali explicitly ties it to the oral history.  Still, an Internet search shows that this is indeed a popular quote, appearing in numerous locations.  That should not be surprising given that it is the type of quote that should resonate with Muslims when thinking about the moral messages provided by Islam, with the equality of human beings being one of those messages.

A second piece of the Muslim oral tradition was cited by Arsalan Iftikhar in his interview with Loonwatch: “…we should be reminded of a well-known Islamic parable that tells the story of the Prophet Mohammed and his interactions with an unruly female neighbor, who would curse him violently and then dump garbage on him from her top window each time he walked by her house. One day, the prophet noticed that the woman was not there. In the spirit of true kindness, he went out of his way to inquire about her well-being. He then went on to visit his unfriendly neighbor at her bedside when he found that she had fallen seriously ill.”  This is indeed a well-known parable, found frequently on the web, including in comments at Loonwatch.

But, here is one potentially surprising thing about this particular story: it is not clear that it is authentic.  While there are similar stories, some investigations of this particular one have yielded results such as “I have not found a basis for this specific incident in the books of hadeeth or reliable works of prophetic biography, and it seems as though this story has become popular on the tongues of people without any source to support it, and Allah knows best” as well as “although the record of this particular incident is found in almost all the books of ‘Seerah’ or biography of the Prophet (saws) and is oft-repeated by the Muslims, to the best of our knowledge there is no record of this specific incident in any of the authentic and established Books of Sunnah. And Allah Alone Knows Best.”  As with the midrash on the angels preparing to rejoice, for my purposes it does not matter if this story is authentic.  The fact that this story is so popular even without it being found in what may be called the reliable or authentic hadith or Books of Sunnah only strengthens the point that Muslims repeat this story not because they are “forced” to because it is part of canonical literature that must be repeated, but, rather, they repeat it because its message resonates with their view of the morality of Islam.

Another reason that I chose the quotation provided from Imam Shamsi Ali is the further observation provided by his co-author, Rabbi Marc Schneier, in one of his essays in the samebook.  Rabbi Schneier writes, “Most Jews and most Muslims, however, are simply unaware of the good news that the other side has an oral tradition that moderates the sometimes harsh language of the written law.  The ignorance among the majority in both faiths allows the demagogic purveyors of hate to peddle their poison virtually unchallenged.”

Compare this with a statement by one such demagogic purveyor of hate, Robert Spencer, who has written, “Rabbinic Judaism ever since the destruction of the Temple had evolved non-literal ways to understand such commands, while in Islam such literal interpretation is still very much alive.”  In fact, Spencer is misleadingly inaccurate on both counts: Judaism had evolved non-literal ways of interpreting “problem texts” before the destruction of the Temple, and there are both literal and non-literal interpretations of “problem texts” very much alive in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.   It is the latter point, however, that is the more important.  By suggesting solely that there are literal interpretations of “problem texts” in Islam, Spencer hides the existence of similar interpretations in Judaism and Christianity as well as the many Muslims who highlight stories such as Muhammad’s concern for a woman who would throw trash on him (whether the story is literally true or not) as a lens through which they interpret any texts that could be read to call for retaliation for aggressive acts.  As Imam Shamsi Ali writes in one essay, “The guidance found in scripture is not meant to be taken only literally.  … Our stance is that though the Qur’an is sometimes exact, to extrapolate the wisdom in its passages, we need not see the texts as simply static, literal words.”

Strikingly, the Qur’an has no problem citing Jewish Oral Law.  “Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors.” Qur’an 5:32.  The reference may be to Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5 (“Therefore was the first man, Adam, created alone, to teach us that whoever destroys a single life, the Bible considers it as if he destroyed an entire world. And whoever saves a single life, the Bible considers it as if he saved an entire world. Furthermore, only one man, Adam, was created for the sake of peace among men, so that no one should say to his fellow, ‘My father was greater than yours…’”) or potentially other similar references such as Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin 4:1 (22a).  Whether one  believes an Islamic interpretation that Qur’an 5:32 was revealed to Muhammad, or a secular one that the ayah  repeats something that Muhammad heard, this ayah shows a continuity of belief and a tie between the oral Jewish tradition (which by that point had been written down) and written Muslim tradition.

Yet for some “demagogic purveyors of hate,” as Rabbi Schneier calls them, this is not a sign that Muslims view the Qur’an as part of a continuous revelation sometimes referencing Jewish and Christian scriptures.  Instead, these Islamophobes claim to “find further proof of plagiarism of apocryphal Jewish literature; this time in the Jewish Mishnah Sanhedrin” or title a section of an anti-Islam screed “Plagiarism in Quran,” citing the same passages.   If only the Qur’an had managed to avoid the charge of plagiarism by introducing the text by saying something like “We decreed upon the Children of Israel.”  Oh wait, it did!  Presumably, the demagogic purveyors of hate would not be satisfied with anything short of a footnote and embedded hyperlink in the text when it was compiled over 1300 years ago.

Certain Islamophobes who accuse the Qur’an of plagiarism in this verse, despite the explicit reference to a decree to the Children of Israel, seem less concerned with how Jesus’ statement in Matthew 7:12 (“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”) does not reference Tobit 7:15 (“And what you hate, do not do to anyone”) or a well-known (among Jews) saying of Hillel the Elder(traditionally c. 110 BCE, died 7 CE): “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.”  One notable demagogic purveyor of hate, Ali Sina, has written, “There is nothing in the Quran and Hadith that would make us believe that Islam is compatible with the Golden Rule.”  Actually, Wikipedia provides a dozen quotes from the Qur’an and Hadith that are variants of the Golden Rule.  The one that struck me the most was one that echoed Hillel: “A Bedouin came to the prophet, grabbed the stirrup of his camel and said: O the messenger of God! Teach me something to go to heaven with it. Prophet said: ‘As you would have people do to you, do to them; and what you dislike to be done to you, don’t do to them. Now let the stirrup go! [This maxim is enough for you; go and act in accordance with it!]’ —Kitab al-Kafi, vol. 2, p. 146.”

All three of the Abrahamic faiths thus not only cite the Golden Rule in some form, but have traditions citing it as a maxim that sums up the morality of their religious texts or beliefs.  It is only by being selective in what they cite from the written and oral traditions that the demagogic purveyors of hate could hope to obscure this commonality.   Instead, it is worth taking the time to review the full range of the traditions of each religion, notably those cited repeatedly by their adherents because they resonate with their view of their religion’s morality.  And then, it is time to let the stereotype, and the stirrup, go.

The Jews Are Helping Muslims Take Over The West

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The Jews Are Helping Muslims Take Over The West

By Garibaldi

One often hears Islamophobes in the “counterjihad” movement claiming to be defenders of the “Judeo-Christian” West against the spread of Islam and the enfranchisement of Muslims in Western democracies. The term Judeo-Christian gained currency in the middle of the 20th century,

“promoted by groups which evolved into the National Conference of Christians and Jews, to fight antisemitism by expressing a more inclusive idea of American values rather than just Christian or Protestant.”

Ironically, in the past several decades and especially since 9/11, Judeo-Christian has most often been used by the rightwing to exclude differing religions and cultures from staking their own claim to Americanness, specifically, to amplify the so-called “Islamic threat.”

The rightwing considers America’s “uniqueness” to be rooted in its Judeo-Christian values. Take radio host Dennis Prager, who writes,

[o]nly America has called itself Judeo-Christian. America is also unique in that it has always combined secular government with a society based on religious values. Along with the belief in liberty—as opposed to, for example, the European belief in equality, the Muslim belief in theocracy, and the Eastern belief in social conformity—Judeo-Christian values are what distinguish America from all other countries.

The claims about “European,” “Muslim,” and “Eastern” societies are simplistic generalizations but there is some truth to Prager’s claim that “only America has called itself Judeo-Christian,” in so far as the USA is where Judeo-Christianism was born. If one can speak in such broad terms at all of an alliance/unity between Jews and Christians it is relatively recent; only 70 years out of the past 2,000 years.

A different kind of alliance

A recent article published on Loonwatch about the Spanish government’s commitment to give descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled over 500 years ago from Andalus automatic citizenship brought to mind the longer and deeper history of Jewish and Muslim collaboration.

The history of Jewish-Muslim alliance has led some scholars to the interesting thesis that the roots of medieval European Christian anti-Semitism was rooted not in charges of deicide (Jews killed Jesus) against Jews but in their alliance and collaboration with Muslims.

In Allan Harris Cutler and Helen Elmquist Cutler’s book, “The Jews as Ally of the Muslim,” the authors,

[R]evise the traditional explanations of the roots of anti-Semitism. They contend that the great outburst of anti-Semitism in Western Europe during the Middle Ages … derived from primarily anti-Muslimism and the association of Jew with Muslim.

Islamophobe Daniel Pipes, in one of his less bellicose and polemical articles wrote a review of the book in 1987 that is worth reading, concluding that “it offers an intriguing and ultimately convincing argument.” Though he takes exception to the authors’ advice to Pope John Paul II to“transform his office and mission from a more narrowly Christian into a broadly Abrahamic one . . . to create a new spiritual and institutional unity between Jews, Christians, and Muslims.”

Among certain nationalists and White Power currents in the “counterjihad” there is a continuation of the idea that Jews are allying with Muslims to help them take over the West, just as Jews aided Muslims in conquering Hispania from Visigoth tyranny.

In the view of these counterjihadists Jewish intellectuals have opened the gates of fortified Europe and America through modern day liberalism. Hence, their usage of “Leftist” in the familiar Islamophobic expression, “Leftist-Muslim alliance to destroy the West,” is a P.C. way to refer to Jews. “Leftist” masks an undercurrent of antiSemitism, since in their view Jew=Leftist.

The website Islam Versus Europe: Where Islam Spreads, Freedom Dies, did a three part series titled, “Jewish collaboration with Muslims during the invasion of Spain” by Cheradnine Zakalwe. The website has a global Alexa ranking of 703,552 and a US ranking of 262,275.

islamversuseuropeblogspot

IslamVersusEurope is considered by other “counterjihadists” to be a “respected CounterJihad blog” and is linked and blogrolled on numerous Islamophobic sites. The site has also been approvingly linked by Deacon Robert Spencer even after Zakalwe’s series of articles. (Not surprising considering Spencer’s alliance with antiSemites such as Eric Allen Bell and the anti-Jewish stances of his ally Pamela Geller).

IslamVersusEurope_JihadWatch

The main point of Zakalwe’s three part series is summed up in his first post,

So the Jews in Spain were enslaving European Christians. This provoked the irritation of other European Christians, who then took measures against the Jews. This caused the Jews to reach out to their fellow Jews abroad and to the Arabs, urging them to invade Spain and bring this Christian oppression to an end. When they did so, the Jews eagerly collaborated with the Muslims, acting as administrators for the conquered cities and realm.

The parallels with our own time are striking, with Jewish intellectuals having paved the way for the modern Muslim conquest by pushing the benefits of immigration, diversity, tolerance, special minority protection, etc., denigrating nationalism and wielding the Nazi stick forcefully against anyone bold enough to dissent. (Emphasis mine)

These views are not limited to Zakalwe but can also be found on unabashedly racist and Islamophobic sites like Occidental Dissent and Occidental Observer.

The truth is that yes, there was a long history of collaboration and affinity between Muslims and Jews which fueled animosity on the part of European Christendom. Pipes in his review of the Cutlers’ study even notes,

[T]he Hebrew language shares much with Arabic, and Judaism shares much with Islam; on the most abstract level, both are religions of law, while Christianity is a religion of faith. More specifically, they share many features such as circumcision, dietary regulations, and similar sexual codes. Further, because the Muslims were preeminent in the medieval centuries, “Jews themselves associated Jew with Muslim.” When this became known among the Christians, it much harmed the Jews’ position. Most damaging of all, Jews on occasion helped Muslim troops against Christians (as in the initial Arab conquest of Spain) and some Jews held prominent positions in Muslim governments at war with the Christians. Even when they did not actually take part in the fighting, “Jews usually rejoiced when Christian territory fell into Islamic hands.”

Mattai and Pope Alexander

Mattai and Pope Alexander

While there were great similarities and affinities, it must be pointed out that it is only logical that Jews would ally with those who would treat them better and with whom relations would be more advantageous. If medieval European Christians were offering less discrimination and interference in religious, family and financial life than Muslims then certainly Jews would have collaborated with Christians more than Muslims. In other words one cannot discount the importance of community interests, foremost survival as the motivation for such alliances.

This was driven home to me while watching the third season of Showtime’s historical drama,The Borigas. In one of the episodes, the leader of the Jewish community, Mattai meets with Pope Alexander,

Mattai meets with Alexander and tells him the whole Turkish navy could be burned to the waves with oil. He proposes stuffing some ships with oil for Ramadan and sending them over there just in time to berth for the holy month. Once they’re there, Mattai’s connections will set them alight. That’s if Alexander issues a papal bull that eases up on the taxes on the Jews in Rome. Alexander moans that he asks for a great deal, but Mattai refuses to back down, and even gives Alexander a bit of lip…He says he needs money to buy all this oil, and Alexander says that he’ll issue the bull if Mattai can ensure the success of this scheme.

Alexander meets with Mattai, Cardinal Sforza, and a few others. Mattai tells him the ships loaded with oil are already docked and the conflagration may have already happened.

In Constantinople, oil leaking out over the water is set alight, swiftly engulfing the anchored ships.

Back in Rome, Alexander sits and signs the papal bull, while in Constantinople, the ships explode and sailors flee for their lives. In a fantastic long shot, we see the entire fleet from a distance, burning away.

While the actual historicity of these events are dubious and likely never occurred, it highlights the reasons and motivations that guide communities. Jews who aided Muslims in Spain did so not primarily because both Muslims and Jews circumcise males or eschew pork but rather because they trusted that they would have a better and freer life.

The “counterjihadists” know that “perfidious” Jews aren’t opening up the gates to Muslim hordes. It is no longer the 14th century, there isn’t a “Christendom,” let alone a “Caliphate.” Many Christians are united alongside Muslims and Jews and others to make society and the world better, that is what the interfaith movement is all about.

Opening our doors to the stranger, seeing the image of G-d in our fellow human being and their inherent dignity should not be the opposite of our values but the very core of what we struggle to achieve and become.

This however is appeasement to the paranoid and conspiratorial “counterjihadists,” who in the place of our multi-faith and multi-cultural reality want to take us back to an unrealistic mono-faith, mono-cultural world.

Former Councillor for Wilders’ PVV Active on Neo-Nazi Stormfront Website

Monica Nunes a former councillor with Geert Wilder PVV was an active member on the neo-Nazi Stormfront website. She claims she was on the site to try and persuade Nazis away from their racism, however she had no qualms in bashing Muslims in her comments:

Former councillor for Wilders’ PVV active on neo-nazi Stormfront website

A former councillor for the anti-immigration PVV in Noord Holland has close ties to the neo-nazi group Stormfront and submitted 2,200 items to the organisation’s website, the Noord-Hollands Dagblad reported on Friday.

Monica Nunes is one of three provincial councillors who left the PVV earlier this year to go it alone.

In her writings on the site, which ended around three years ago, Nunes says all Muslims should be sent back to their country of origin and “Jews have a good nose for money”, the paper said. Nunes used the name Doubt while active on the site. Her role was uncovered by anti-facist research group Kaftka.

In a statement Nunes said she had been a member of the Stormfront website, but with the aim of persuading other members to think differently.

“I might have been stupid to join a debate with these nazis,” she said. “But I argued against their most insane racial theories and always defended the Jewish community and existence of Israel.”

Dutch News, 5 July 2012

See also “Monica Nunes, (oude) medestander Brinkman actief op neonaziforum”, Antifascistische Onderzoeksgroep Kafka, 1 June 2012

Nunes’ comments on Stormfront included the following, which gives an indication of her motives for joining the PVV: “I wish we had a leader who would expel Muslims from the country, back to their country of origin. I don’t want to smash or kill these people. I just want them to go away …. far away.”

Islamophobia & Anti-Semitism: Everything Old Is New Again

The similarities between Islamophobia and anti-Semitism:

Islamophobia & Anti-Semitism: Everything Old is New Again

by Sheila Musaji (TAM)

First, let’s look at themes from anti-Semitic propaganda, and then at just a few of the statements currently being made about Islam and Muslims.

ANTI-SEMITIC PROPAGANDA

Anti-Semitic propaganda maintained that:

—all Jews were responsible for the act of any Jew, e.g. “The murder of Ernst vom Rath did not slow legal measures aimed at solving the Jewish Problem, but rather sped them up. The Jews living in Germany had to pay a fine of a billion marks to discourage them from repeating the cowardly murder.” **
— Judaism was not a religion. “Argument 1: “You say that religion is a private matter. But you fight against the Jewish religion!” Counterargument: “Actually, the Jewish religion is nothing other than a doctrine to preserve the Jewish race.” (Adolf Hitler). “In resisting all government attempts to nationalize them, the Jews build a state within the state (Count Helmuth von Moltke). “To call this state a ‘religion’ was one of the cleverest tricks ever invented.” (Adolf Hitler). “From this first lie that Jewry is a religion, not a race, further lies inevitably follow.” (Adolf Hitler).”  **
— there was an International Jewish conspiracy to influence and then control governments, media,  the economy, etc.  **
— the Jews hated all non-Jews and they wanted to destroy the Gentiles and dominate the world **  Further “Whether or not there is an organized Jewish government recognized by all the Jews is less important that the fact that there is a unified and conscious Jewish desire for world power. This is proved by a variety of political events that are taking place in plain sight today.”  **
— due to inbreeding, Jews had more negative characteristics and passed on these negative characteristics to the next generation.  **
— a war against Judaism was a war against the devil **
— by distortions of the Torah and Talmud they claimed that Judaism teaches hatred **
— “The goal of the Jew is to make himself the ruler of humanity. Wherever he comes, he destroys works of culture. He is not a creative spirit, rather a destructive spirit.”  **
— “Nearly all major inventions were made by Aryans.”  The Jews had no real creativity **  Further “Wherever Jewry has appeared, it has never built anything. It has always and everywhere destroyed or torn down, sucking others dry to fill itself. From the days of the Romans to our day, Jewry in every century, in every people, was and remained a foreign body, a destroyer of real and ideal values, a denier of any upward progress, a plague for body and soul. It sneaks in through deceit and treachery, trickery and slyness, murder and assault, understanding how to establish itself.”  **
— a good Jew could not be a good German, that it was impossible for a Jew to honestly say “I am a “good German” and a “decent Jew”! Only a Jew has the insolence to make such a claim. I answer it only to reach the public and finally dispatch the absurd notion of the “decent Jew.” The fable of the “decent Jew” is not a German fable that has been handed down by our people and therefore something with educational value, but rather it is a shameless lie designed to lull the host people to sleep and appeal to hysterical weaklings.”  **  And further “And you think you can be a “good German”! True, you do speak German, just as your racial comrades in other countries speak English, French, Spanish, and Polish, but you are no more a German than they are Englishmen, Frenchmen, Spaniards, or Poles, since Jews are a foreign body in every people.” **
— “Each Jew individually, and Jewry as a whole, is without a home. Jewry undermines every people and every state that it infiltrates. It feeds as a parasite and a culture-killing worm in the host people. It grows and grows like weeds in the state, the community, and the family and infests the blood of humanity everywhere.  In brief, that is the pestilential nature of Jewry, against which every people, every state, every nation must, should, and wants to defend itself if it does not want to be the victim of this bloody plague.”  **
—  “Jewish law enjoins or permits Jews to murder non-Jews whenever feasible” **
—  “Jews are permitted to lie without moral or religious compunction” **
—  “Judaism condones the sexual molestation of young girls” **
—  there was no way to tell the true nature of Jews as they presented a false face. **
—  Jews were uniquely violent and untrustworthy compared to all the other peoples of the world. **
— anti-Semitism was a reasonable response to a clear and present danger.  **
— there was a “Jewish problem” and that measures against the Jews were reasonable and defensive.  **
— Jews could not serve loyally in the military of Germany, and they were removed. **

ANTI-MUSLIM/ISLAMOPHOBIC PROPAGANDA

“Islam constitutes a threat to the world at large.”  Robert Spencer

When Shi’ite Muslims were persecuted by Sunnis, they developed the doctrine of taqiyya, or concealment: They could lie about what they believed, denying aspects of their faith that were offensive to Sunnis…Closely related to this is the doctrine of kitman, or mental reservation, which is telling the truth, but not the whole truth, with an intention to mislead…Remember that the next time you see a Muslim spokesman on television professing his friendship with non-Muslim Americans and his loyalty to the United States. Of course, he may be telling the truth–but he may not be telling the whole truth or he may be just lying.  Robert Spencer

There are “many elements of traditional and mainstream Islam that are at variance with our system of government, our Constitution, and our entire way of life.”  Robert Spencer

“There is no reliable way to distinguish a “moderate” Muslim who rejects the jihad ideology and Islamic supremacism from a “radical” Muslim who holds such ideas, even if he isn’t acting upon them at the moment.”  Robert Spencer

“The misbegotten term “Islamo-fascism” is wholly redundant: Islam itself is a kind of fascism that achieves its full and proper form only when it assumes the powers of the state.” Robert Spencer

“There is no distinction in the American Muslim community between peaceful Muslims and jihadists.” Robert Spencer

“(Islam) is the only major world religion with a developed doctrine and tradition of warfare against unbelievers.”  Robert Spencer

“Islam is of the devil” Rev. Terry Jones

“Islam is evil” Rev. Franklin Graham

“There is no escaping the unfortunate fact that Muslim government employees in law enforcement, the military and the diplomatic corps need to be watched for connections to terrorism.”  Rev. Franklin Graham

“Nearly all (emphasis added) of the Islamic organizations in the United States that define themselves as religiously or culturally Muslim in character have, today, been totally captured or dominated by radical fundamentalist elements…”  Steven Emerson

”Devout Muslims should be prohibited from military service. Would Patton have recruited Nazis into his army?”  Pamela Geller

Good Muslims lie to advance Islam, It’s the law. Atlas readers often hear me refer to taqiya – lies to advance Islam.” Pamela Geller

I believe that “Al-Qaeda is a manifestation of devout Islam … It is Islam.”  Pamela Geller

“Arabic is not just another language like French or Italian, it is the spearhead of an ideological project that is deeply opposed to the United States.”  Pamela Geller

I believe that “Hitler WAS inspired by Islam”  Pamela Geller

“The ability to enjoy and produce knowledge and abstract thinking is simply lower in the Islamic world.”  Nicolai Sennels

One significant conclusion of my research was that having been raised in a Muslim environment – with Muslim parents and traditions – includes the risk of developing certain antisocial patterns.  Nicolai Sennels

“I would like to feel all warm and fuzzy and embrace the moderate Muslim/ meme but they show no evidence of their existence – not in any real number anyway. The only voices of reason in the Muslim world are lapsed Muslims or apostates.  Pamela Geller

“It’s the Muslims who are dragging the rest of the world with them, in their genocidal dreams of annihilating goodness, creativity, production, inventiveness, benevolence, charity, medicine, technology, and all of the gifts of the Jews.  Our goodness makes them ill.”  Pamela Geller

I believe that “Islam is a mental illness”.  Pamela Geller

“The artifacts featured in this exhibit are stolen. Period. Stolen from the cultures conquered and Islamized, and the lands appropriated by the Muslims. The Met is passing off this stolen intellectual property as Islamic. It isn’t.”  Pamela Geller

I believe that Islam is “the most insidious doctrine of hate. Islam can’t be reformed, but it can be eradicated. It can’t be molded, but it can be smashed.”  Ali Sina

“We do not want to reform Islam. We want to eradicate it. Just as cancer cannot be reformed and the only way to cure the patient is to eradicate it, Islam cant be reformed either and it must be eradicated for the world to be saved.”  Ali Sina

I believe that “Islam, like fascism, appeals to people with low self esteem and low intelligence.  Ali Sina

I believe that “Every “moderate” Muslim is a potential terrorist.” Ali Sina

I believe that “On the so-called Global War on Terrorism, GWOT, we have been quite clear along with a few other resolute souls. This should be a WAR AGAINST ISLAM and all Muslim faithful…At a practical level, this means that Shari’a and Islamic law are immediately outlawed. Any Moslem in America who adopts historical and traditional Shari’a will be subject to deportation. Mosques which adhere to Islamic law will be shut down permanently. No self-described or practicing Muslim, irrespective of his or her declarations to the contrary, will be allowed to immigrate to this country…” David Yerushalmi

I believe that “Muslim civilization is at war with Judeo-Christian civilization…The Muslim peoples, those committed to Islam as we know it today, are our enemies.”  David Yerushalmi

“We love you Muslims because you are humans like us. We are all related to each other. We are all limbs of the body of mankind. But you are diseased. You are infected by a deadly cult that threatens our lives. Your humanity is destroyed. Like a limb infected by flesh eating disease, now you are a threat to the rest of mankind. We will do everything to save you, to make you see your folly, and to make you understand that you are victims of a gigantic lie, so you leave this lie, stop hating mankind and plotting for its destruction and it domination. But if all efforts fail and if you become a threat to our lives and the lives of our children, we must amputate you.”  Ali Sina

There is a need for an “old fashioned war with wholesale slaughter including indiscriminate death of innocents and babes. down to the last muslim, if necessary.”  John Joseph Jay

The only good Muslim is a dead Muslim.  …  The Islamofeces cockroaches are on the march and if we do not kill them all, they shall kill us.  George M. Weinert V

“I’ve got an idea, let’s kill all Muslims.”  Jay Severin

“Rot in hell, Osama bin Laden.  One down, 1.8 billion to go … many of ‘em inside U.S. borders, with the U.S. government at all levels kissing their asses.”  Debbie Schlussel

“I do not believe that our country can truly fulfill its divine purpose until we understand America was founded, in part, with the intention of seeing this false religion destroyed.”  Rev. Rod Parsley

“Absolutely. If a Muslim who has—who is—a practicing Muslim who believes the word of the Koran to be the word of Allah, who abides by Islam, who goes to mosque and prays every Friday, who prays five times a day—this practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Koran, cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America.”  Brigitte Gabriel

Westerners “don’t want to judge anybody based on their [religion].  [But] Islam is not a religion. Islam is a very dangerous political ideology…. There is no such thing as radical Islam and regular Islam or spiritual Islam….There is only one Islam.”  Wafa Sultan

“What has the Arab world contributed except terror? The theocratic, repressive Arabic states do no significant science, no significant arts and culture.”  “Osama bin Laden is a very good Muslim – a model one, in fact, and one of the most devout in the 1400 years of Islam.”  David Horowitz

“Sure America’s First Amendment protects freedom of religion. But the Founding Fathers and signatories of the Constitution undoubtedly would not have included rights in it for members of a religion that demands the destruction, persecution and invasion of the United States of America -and at best, the establishment of a shadow Constitution parallel to the American one, namely Islamic sharia law. No, that most certainly was not in the minds of America’s Founding Fathers.”  Eliana Benador

“America and the West are doomed to failure in this war unless they stand up and identify the real enemy: Islam.”  Brigitte Gabriel

“We are in a war against a political, theocratic, authoritarian ideology and it is called Islam!”  Rep. Allen West, (R-FL)

“The Muslim Representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district and if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran.”  Rep. Virgil H. Goode, Jr

“There are too many mosques in this country.”  -  “85 percent of American Muslim community leaders are an enemy living amongst us”  -  “no (American) Muslims cooperate in the war on terror”.  -  “I would say, you could say that 80-85 percent of mosques in this country are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists … Those who are in control.  The average Muslim, no, they are loyal, but they don’t work, they don’t come forward, they don’t tell the police.”  Rep. Peter King

“We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”  Ann Coulter

Taught military personnel that they should take a “war on Islam” “to the civilian population wherever necessary,” which he likened to the bombardment of Dresden and nuclear destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Army Lt. Col. Matthew A. Dooley

So once one acknowledges the obvious, that there is fascistic behavior among a core of Muslims — specifically, a cult of violence and the wanton use of physical force to impose an ideology on others — the term “Islamo-Fascism” is entirely appropriate.  Dennis Prager

We would be looked upon as uncouth for suggesting that the only language all Muslims understand is that of blood and death and only death can stop them. As long as they survive on this planet, they will be a destabilizing influence and never allow civilized people to breathe freely. There is no hope of transforming the Muslims into a good peace-loving and noble community. As long as a Muslim lives, killing infidels comes to him/her as naturally as does attacking its prey comes to a wild and hungry beast. Muslims are brainwashed to do this by the Quran – the instruction manual of hate and terror. They can never be transformed into good citizens. And so the only good Muslim is a dead Muslim. This is the harsh reality. And so we need to face the seemingly heartless and brutal fact of life that all Muslims need to be given the choice of leaving Islam voluntarily or being put out of harm’s way, i.e. put out of the way from harming anybody else! No other way has the prospect of resolving the Muslim problem across the globe.  War on Jihad site

It’s Time to Put the Coffee Down and Eradicate Islam in the West. This article included the passage “It’s time to join the war, not on “terror” (that oh-so soothing illusion,) but on Islam in the West. Most urgently, we must defend Israel as the frontline in the war against the spread of Islam.”  Jeanette Pryor on David Horowitz’ blog

“ Western European societies are unprepared for the massive immigration of brown-skinned peoples cooking strange foods and maintaining different standards of hygiene…. All immigrants bring exotic customs and attitudes, but Muslim customs are more troublesome than most.”  Daniel Pipes

Islam is “a violent political system bent on the overthrow of the governments of the world and world domination.  You’re dealing with not a religion, you’re dealing with a political system, and I think we should treat it as such, and treat its adherents as such as we would members of the communist party, members of some fascist group.”  Rev. Pat Robertson

“Do you really want someone representing you, who swears an oath on a Quran — a book that undermines our Constitution and says you should be killed? I’m Gary Boisclair, and I approve this message.”  Gary Boisclair (D-MI)

IS THERE ANY SIMILARITY BETWEEN ANTI-SEMITIC AND ISLAMOPHOBIC PROPAGANDA?

I would hope that the answer is obvious after reading just the few examples listed above.  Perhaps, reading an article by Colm O’Broin listing 10 statements by Julius Streicher and 10 statements by Robert Spencer and their remarkable similarities would make this even more crystal clear.  Of course, the Islamophobes will either claim that Islamophobia doesn’t exist or that fear of Muslims is “reasonable”.  In fact, SIOE, the parent group of SIOA has as its motto “Racism is the lowest form of human stupidity, but Islamophobia is the height of common sense.”

It has become fashionable to point to every individual anywhere in the world who happens to be Muslim who makes a hateful or extremist statement, or commits a criminal or terrorist act, and turn that into a blanket accusation against Islam and Muslims.

There is a problem that we all face of extremism,violence and even terrorism in the name of religion.  There are certainly some extremists and even terrorists that are Muslims.  There are verses in the Qur’an, the Torah, and the Bible that can be abused in an attempt to justify such behavior.  We need to attempt to understand the why of terrorism, but also to recognize that the claim that all terrorists are Muslims ignores history, and in fact, most terrorists are not Muslims.  We also need to attempt to understand the motivation behind the continuous demonization of the American Muslim community and the entire religion of Islam which does nothing to help fight against terrorism and only marginalizes the voices that might act as a bridge between cultures.

This process of making hatred towards Islam and Muslims acceptable has been aided, sadly, by the fact that Islamophobic statements have even been made by Jewish and Christian clergy people.  Islamophobic statements are also becoming the norm in the political arena, in political campaigns, and even among our elected government representatives.  The 2008 Presidential campaign was rife with Islamophobia.

It is becoming more and more difficult as an American Muslim not to be afraid of where this increasingly divisive and hateful rhetoric might lead. Polls, Surveys, and Statistics relating to Islam and Muslims show that negative attitudes are widespread.  Our civil rights are being restricted, and there are some Americans who are ready to undermine the Constitution in order to deny American Muslims full citizenship.  And, we see regular examples of prejudiced or violent incidents directed at mosques, cemetaries, and Islamic Centers as well as directed at individuals.  The vicious rhetoric is leading to violence not only against American Muslims, but also against politicians and political rivals.  American Muslims, and Muslims worldwide have spoken out loudly and clearly against extremism and terrorism, but this voice seems to be ignored.

Read the rest…

Iranian Book “How to Eliminate Israel from the Planet” No Different than Israeli Publications

The anti-Muslim blogosphere operates as an echo-chamber: one Islamophobic site publishes a story and then the other ones quickly reproduce it.  The latest story to get the Islamophobic juices flowing was with regard to a book that was supposedly published by religious students in Iran.  I wrote about it earlier:

Iran: Yet Another Case Study in Robert Spencer’s Hypocrisy and Double Standards

JihadWatch’s Robert Spencer just posted an article with the following title:

How to Eliminate Israel from the Planet: Iran promotes genocidal book by Muslim seminarians, published by Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance

He’s taking exception to an anti-Israeli book supposedly written by some religious students in Iran, called “How to Eliminate Israel from the Planet.”  Spencer calls this a “genocidal book.”

This is why LoonWatch exists.  We’ve been documenting what loons like Robert Spencer say so that we can pull Jon Stewart moves like the one I am going to pull now…

The reader is referred to Robert Spencer’s post in March 2010 wherein he promoted a “genocidal video” calling for “wiping Pakistan off the map” and nuclear annihilation of Pakistan:

Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer: Wipe Pakistan Off the Map

And my article on the topic back then:

Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller Promote Video by Militant and Genocidal Group

When Iranians/Muslims call to “wipe Israel off the map” or “eliminate Israel from the planet”, then it is a “genocidal book” and all freedom-loving people must be outraged by this.  When anti-Muslim extremists call for the same against Muslims, then that’s a “genocidal freedom-loving video” that all freedom-loving people must support.  As George Orwell put it: “Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them.”

Robert Spencer’s hypocrisy and double standards are of course shared across the Islamophobic spectrum, from the mild-mannered Jeffrey Goldberg to the foaming-at-the-mouth website BareNakedIslam.

For now, I am assuming that Robert Spencer et al. are accurately reporting the story–a huge assumption considering: (1) I have not found the story reported by any reputable sources; (2)  Loons like Robert Spencer aren’t exactly known for accurately and truthfully reporting anything about Islam or Muslims. (3) Spencer cited Pajamas Media as his source (note: Remember how Robert Spencer and his minions scoff at using a source with silly names like “LoonWatch” or “Danios”…)

Leaving aside for now matters of accuracy, I’d like to expose even more hypocrisy and double standards from not just Robert Spencer but by the Islamophobes in general who are reporting this story in an effort to warmonger against Iran on Israel’s behalf.  They are trying to argue that the anti-Israeli book was not just written by a couple random students, but was in fact endorsed by the Iranian government; their evidence for this is the claim that the “book has been published by the Khorasan branch of the Ministry of Islamic culture and guidance.”

If this is proof of how evil Iran and Islam are, then what about this:

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel is a part of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and “is recognized by law as the supreme halakhic and spiritual authority for the Jewish people in the State of Israel.” During the Gaza War (Massacre) in 2009, the Chief Rabbinate “gave soldiers fighting in Gaza pamphlets urging them to show no mercy.” Other pamphlets elaborated on the Chief Rabbinate’s orders, spelling it out in no uncertain terms: kill the civilian population because “it is not innocent.”

Haaretz, the oldest and one of the most established of Israeli newspapers, reported:

An overview of some of the army rabbinate’s publications made available during the fighting reflects the tone of nationalist propaganda that steps blatantly into politics, sounds racist and can be interpreted as a call to challenge international law when it comes to dealing with enemy civilians.

Robert Spencer wrote that the Iranian book was a “book filled with genocidal hate, rooted in the Qur’an”; he bolded the parts of the passage that mentioned the Islamic holy book.  His purpose in doing so is obvious: to smear the entire faith of Islam.

It should be pointed out to Spencer that in the case of the military rabbinate’s violent, racist, and genocidal publications, it was none other than the Bible and traditional Jewish law that was cited.  Haaretz noted:

Following are quotations from this material:

“[There is] a biblical ban on surrendering a single millimeter of it [the Land of Israel] to gentiles, though all sorts of impure distortions and foolishness of autonomy, enclaves and other national weaknesses. We will not abandon it to the hands of another nation, not a finger, not a nail of it.” This is an excerpt from a publication entitled “Daily Torah studies for the soldier and the commander in Operation Cast Lead,” issued by the IDF rabbinate. The text is from “Books of Rabbi Shlomo Aviner,” who heads the Ateret Cohanim yeshiva in the Muslim quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem.

The following questions are posed in one publication: “Is it possible to compare today’s Palestinians to the Philistines of the past? And if so, is it possible to apply lessons today from the military tactics of Samson and David?” Rabbi Aviner is again quoted as saying: “A comparison is possible because the Philistines of the past were not natives and had invaded from a foreign land … They invaded the Land of Israel, a land that did not belong to them and claimed political ownership over our country … Today the problem is the same. The Palestinians claim they deserve a state here, when in reality there was never a Palestinian or Arab state within the borders of our country. Moreover, most of them are new and came here close to the time of the War of Independence.”

The IDF rabbinate, also quoting Rabbi Aviner, describes the appropriate code of conduct in the field: “When you show mercy to a cruel enemy, you are being cruel to pure and honest soldiers. This is terribly immoral. These are not games at the amusement park where sportsmanship teaches one to make concessions. This is a war on murderers. ‘A la guerre comme a la guerre.’”

To be perfectly clear, if it is true that an Iranian book was published with such offensive material in it, we should condemn it wholeheartedly–just as we should condemn the Israeli publications I mentioned above.  But we shouldn’t vilify Islam as a whole, just as we shouldn’t vilify Judaism as a whole.  Neither should we beat the drums of war against Iran, just as no rational person would use the Israeli publications as a valid justification to attack Israel.

I would, however, point out that there is one major difference between the case in Iran and Israel.  If it is argued that the Iranian book endorses ethnic cleansing as our opponents claim, it should be pointed out that Iranians are not actively carrying out such a thing.  The belligerence is limited to mere words and rhetoric.

Meanwhile, the publications in Israel were handed out to soldiers deployed in a brutal war against Palestinians/Muslims, part of a long campaign of ethnic cleansing that first began in 1948.  Those instructions to show no mercy to the enemy population were actively executed and acted upon by Israeli soldiers.

Leading international human rights organizations condemned “Operation Cast Lead” (as it was called by the Israelis).  Amnesty International, for example, titled their report: “Operation Cast Lead: 22 Days of Death and Destruction”.  The report noted that Israeli forces committed “wanton destruction” and killed “[h]undreds of Palestinian civilians” (whereas Palestinian rocket attacks “only rarely caused civilian casualties”).

Meanwhile, no Iranian publication can be linked to actual Jewish or Israeli fatalities.

Iran cannot realistically go beyond anything more than mere words or rhetoric, because actual acts of violence will be met with overwhelming force and massive retaliation from Israel and/or the United States.  This is so much so that it is being reported, by the likes of none other than Jeffrey Goldberg, that Iran is already under attack by Israel and the United States, and yet the Iranians have not retaliated or declared war.

If bombing Iranian facilities, killing their scientists, and using drones in their territory cannot evoke a military response, then why would anyone assume that they would have the audacity to initiate an attack on Israel?  The reason Iran hasn’t responded to these acts of war against it are that it wants to avoid being “bombed into the stone ages” like Iraq was.  In other words, the last thing Iran would want to do is give Israel or the United States a smoking gun.  Angry but empty rhetoric earns Tehran popular support, whereas action would jeopardize the regime’s very existence.

The Iranian leadership is no doubt despotic, oppressive, and illegitimate; but it is also, like many dictatorships, tenaciously pragmatic when it comes to holding onto the reigns of power.  The desire for self-preservation is an amazing thing.

Meanwhile, Israel can afford to act unilaterally, and it does so quite regularly and with a great deal of impunity, thanks to Uncle Sam, who acts as a shield to any international response.

This is why dwelling on Iran’s rhetoric as opposed to Israeli action is misleading, but that of course is the essence of war propaganda.

Update I:

Prof. Juan Cole worded it best (h/t Believing Atheist):

Moreover, Iran cannot fight Israel. It would be defeated in 72 hours, even if the US didn’t come in, which it would (and rightly so if Israel were attacked). Iran is separated by several other countries from Israel. It has not attacked aggressively any other country militarily for over a century (can Americans say that of their own record?) It has only a weak, ineffective air force. So why worry about it?

What is really going on here is an old trick of the warmongers. Which is that you equate hurtful statements of your enemy with an actual military threat, and make a weak and vulnerable enemy look like a strong, menacing foe. Then no one can complain when you pounce on the enemy and reduce his country to flames and rubble.

Robert Spencer and Julius Streicher, Islamophobia and Anti-semitism: Same Message, Different Minority

Robert Spencer and Julius Streicher

Robert Spencer and Julius Streicher’s eerily similar rhetoric

An interesting piece by journalist COLM Ó BROIN comparing quotes from Robert Spencer and and Julius Streicher.

Julius Streicher was a pre-Nazi era anti-Semitic propagandist and his rhetoric eerily echoes that of Robert Spencer’s.

Islamophobia and Antisemitism: Same message, different minority

by Colm O Broin (Middle Class Dub)

Below are quotes which highlight the disturbing similarities between Islamophobic and Antisemitic messages.

Ten statements by ‘anti-jihad’ writer Robert Spencer and Nazi propagandist Julius Streicher are compared.

Julius Streicher was the editor of Der Stuermer, a Nazi paper that spread vicious Antisemitic propaganda from 1923-1945. As Nazi Party leader in Nuremburg he organized the destruction of synagogues in the city.

He was not directly involved in the Holocaust but was convicted of crimes against humanity after WWII. He was found guilty of inciting hatred against Jews in Der Stuermer and was executed in 1946.

Robert Spencer is a prominent critic of Islam who runs the Jihadwatch.org website. He is the author of several best selling books on Islam and he has spoken on Fox News, CNN, NBC and other news channels.

He has organized protests against the construction of mosques in New York. He has advised the FBI on Islam and his books were recommended by the FBI for its agents.

The following is a comparison of their views on Muslims and Jews respectively.

1 Muslims/Jews have a religious duty to conquer the world.

“Islam understands its earthly mission to extend the law of Allah over the world by force.”

Robert Spencer.

“Do you not know that the God of the Old Testament orders the Jews to consume and enslave the peoples of the earth?”

Julius Streicher.

2 The Left enables Muslims/Jews.

“The principal organs of the Left…has consistently been warm and welcoming toward Islamic supremacism.”

Robert Spencer.

“The communists pave the way for him (the Jew).”

Julius Streicher.

3 Governments do nothing to stop Muslims/Jews.

“FDI* acts against the treason being committed by national, state, and local government officials…in their capitulation to the global jihad and Islamic supremacism.”

(Freedom Defense Initiative, Robert Spencer/Pamela Geller organisation).

“The government allows the Jew to do as he pleases. The people expect action to be taken.”

Julius Streicher.

4 Muslims/Jews cannot be trusted.

“When one is under pressure, one may lie in order to protect the religion, this is taught in the Qur’an.”

Robert Spencer.

“We may lie and cheat Gentiles. In the Talmud it says: It is permitted for Jews to cheat Gentiles.”

From The Toadstool, children’s book published by Julius Streicher.

5 Recognizing the true nature of Muslims/Jews can be difficult.

“There is no reliable way for American authorities to distinguish jihadists and potential jihadists from peaceful Muslims.”

Robert Spencer.

“Just as it is often hard to tell a toadstool from an edible mushroom, so too it is often very hard to recognize the Jew as a swindler and criminal.”

From The Toadstool, children’s book published by Julius Streicher.

6 The evidence against Muslims/Jews is in their holy books.

“What exactly is ‘hate speech’ about quoting Qur’an verses and then showing Muslim preachers using those verses to exhort people to commit acts of violence, as well as violent acts committed by Muslims inspired by those verses and others?”

Robert Spencer.

“In Der Stuermer no editorial appeared, written by me or written by anyone of my main co-workers, in which I did not include quotations from the ancient history of the Jews, from the Old Testament, or from Jewish historical works of recent times.”

Julius Streicher.

7 Islamic/Jewish texts encourage violence against non-believers.

“’And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution is worse than slaughter…’ — 2:191.”

Koranic verse quoted by Robert Spencer on Jihadwatch.org.

“’And when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally: men and women and children, even the animals.’ (Deuteronomy 7:2.).”

Biblical verse quoted by Julius Streicher in Der Stuermer.

8 Christianity is peaceful while Islam/Judaism is violent.

“There is no Muslim version of ‘love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you’ or ‘if anyone strikes you on the right cheek turn to him the other also’.”

Robert Spencer.

“The Jew is not being taught, like we are, such texts as, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,’ or ‘If you are smitten on the left cheek, offer then your right one.’”

Julius Streicher.

9 Muslims/Jews are uniquely violent.

“(Islam) is the only major world religion with a developed doctrine and tradition of warfare against unbelievers.”

Robert Spencer.

“No other people in the world has such prophecies. No other people would dare to say that it was chosen to murder and destroy the other peoples and steal their possessions.”

Julius Streicher.

10 Criticising Muslims/Jews is not incitement to violence against Muslims/Jews.

“There is nothing in anything that I have ever written that could be reasonably construed as an incitement to violence against anyone.”

Robert Spencer.

“Allow me to add that it is my conviction that the contents of Der Stuermer as such were not (incitement). During the whole 20 years, I never wrote in this connection, ‘Burn Jewish houses down; beat them to death.’ Never once did such an incitement appear in Der Stuermer.”

Julius Streicher.

Notes:

Robert Spencer quotes;

(1) http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-871902797772997781

http://www.ourbeacon.com/cgi-bin/bbs60x/webbbs_config.pl/md/read/id/314123119154008

(2) http://www.jihadwatch.org/2011/07/anders-breivik-and-the-echo-chamber.html
(3) http://freedomdefense.typepad.com/about.html
(4) http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-871902797772997781
(5) http://www.jihadwatch.org/2007/08/australian-pol-to-oppose-islamic-immigration.html
(6) http://www.jihadwatch.org/2011/07/daniel-greenfield-in-defense-of-robert-spencer.html
(7) http://www.jihadwatch.org/2011/08/wapo-do-critics-actually-read-the-koran-uh-yeah.html
(8) http://books.google.ie/books?id=eanFm7hiM1cC&pg=PA27
(9) http://www.jihadwatch.org/2006/01/what-is-a-moderate-muslim.html
(10) http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/p00hz34g

Sources for Julius Streicher quotes;

http://propagander.tripod.com/js2.html

http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/story5.htm

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/Streicher.html

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/Giftpilz.html

http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/secretplan.html

www.twitter.com/colmobroin

“Islamophobia” is not a Neologism Anymore–it’s Mainstream

Islamophobia definition
Islamophobia

“It isn’t Islamophobia when they really are trying to kill you!,” goes the oft quoted refrain of Islam haters when their bigotry and wild-eyed conspiracy theories are brought to the fore. Setting aside the inherent prejudice implied by the usage of “they,” the heart of the quote is, Islamophobia.

The first occurrence of the term Islamophobia “appeared in an essay by the Orientalist Etienne Dinet in L’Orient vu de l’Occident (1922),” however it did not enter into “common parlance” until the early 90′s.

“Islamophobia”, like many other words in the English language is imperfect and hence subject to criticism. This criticism however does not mean, as some suggest, that it should be discarded and a new word or phrase take its place.

Islamophobia is not as contested a term as it once was, especially since the “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy, (Thanks Pamela???). Before the controversy there was much discussion on whether Islamophobia was a term that was imprecisely applied to a wide range of phenomena, from “xenophobia to anti-terrorism.”

The fog on one portion of this debate has been lifted, if not since the Islamophobiapalooza (to quote Jon Stewart) of 2010, then certainly since the killing spree by anti-Muslim/anti-socialist terrorist Anders Behring Breivik. It is clear that there are a lot of unfounded and completely bats**t crazy, *cough*, I mean irrational and unreasonable beliefs about Islam and Muslims in the world today.

It is also clearer that a certain segment of critics of the term Islamophobia always had nefarious intentions. Under the guise of the labels “anti-terrorism” and “pro-freedom” they trumped up an Islamic threat that would emerge like the Borg and conquer the Western world, either spectacularly or slowly over a period of many years. The Islamophobesphere, led by the likes of Robert Spencer’s JihadWatch, Pamela Geller’s AtlasShrugs, Fjordman’s Gates of Vienna, Daniel PipesMiddleEastForum and backed by billionaires such as Aubrey Chernick coalesced into an organized trans-Atlantic anti-Muslim movement that inspired Breivik and will inspire more like him.

Islamophobia is a phobia? Does it Matter?

The supposedly still not-so-clear part about this debate concerns the breakdown of the term Islamophobia. Is Islamophobia a phobia? Does Islamophobia as a descriptor of an existing phenomenon need to be an actual phobia in the same sense as the psychological traumas of arachnophobia, xenophobia or acrophobia? Is the term Islamophobia too vague?

According to Dr. Jalees Rehman, ‘Islamophobia’ is not a phobia. He quips that there is a danger that “without a reasonable effort to delineate what is and what is not ‘Islamophobia’, this term could be easily used to stigmatize or suppress legitimate criticisms of Muslim society, culture or theology.”

This is not necessarily true, there is a fair amount of effort to delineate “what is and what is not ‘Islamophobia.’” We do it on our site all the time (this seems to be true of other sites that tackle Islamophobia as well). As many of our authors have pointed out “mere criticism of Islam and Muslims” is not at issue, what crosses the line into Islamophobia is irrational and unreasonable beliefs, statements or actions directed at Islam and Muslims.

For instance stopping the construction of a Mosque may or may not be Islamophobic. In some cases it may really be a zoning issue, or as in the scenario of the “Ground Zero Mosque,” the attempt by opponents of the mosque to have it stopped by declaring the site a “Landmark” was based on their irrational belief that the developers were building a “victory mosque.”

The argument also suffers because the same could be said of other terms that describe hateful phenomena. We are not going to stop using anti-Semitism because some fail to delineate “what is and what is not ‘anti-Semitism.’” Or because the term excludes Semites who are non-Jews.

The other part of Dr. Rehman’s critique of Islamophobia regards the psychiatric concept of “phobia”:

[a]nother troubling aspect of this neologism is the fact that it invokes the psychiatric concept of “phobia”. Phobias fall under the category of anxiety disorders and describe pathological fears; while many know the term from the infamous expression “arachnophobia” (pathological fear of spiders), many different types of phobias have been observed in patients. The standard manual of the American Psychiatric Association is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM IV-TR) and refers to “Specific Phobia” as a,

“Marked and persistent fear that is excessive or unreasonable, cued by the presence or anticipation of a specific object or situation (e.g., flying, heights, animals, receiving an injection, seeing blood).”

There are additional criteria that characterize a phobia, but I find the following one extremely interesting: “The person recognizes that the fear is excessive or unreasonable for discussing the term.”

This is the strongest portion of Dr. Rehman’s critique though it misses the point. Is the Islamophobes fear of Islam “marked” and “persistent,” is it “cued by the presence or anticipation of a specific object or situation?” Does “the person recognize that the fear is excessive or unreasonable?”

According to Dr. Rehman, “anti-Muslim fears, hostility or prejudice do not really constitute a ‘phobia’ in the psychiatric sense.”

Peter Gottschalk and Gabriel Greenberg in their book, Islamophobia: Making Muslims the Enemy, on the other hand seem to remark that though Islamophobia is not a “phobia” in the strict psychological sense it nevertheless is a reflection of a social anxiety,

Islamophobia: “anxiety of Islam”? Can this really be compared to individual psychological traumas such as acrophobia, arachnophobia or xenophobia? The authors believe that “Islamophobia” accurately reflects a social anxiety toward Islam and Muslim cultures that is largely unexamined by, yet deeply ingrained in, Americans. Instead of arising from traumatic personal experiences, like its more psychological cousins, this phobia results for most from distant social experiences, that mainstream American culture has perpetuated in popular memory, which are in turn buttressed by a similar understanding of current events. (p.5)

There is another reason to differentiate Islamophobia from the strict psychological connotations of phobia that has hitherto not been mentioned in the discussion. Phobias such as arachnophobia are uncontrolled, and it is not something that the one who suffers from really enjoys. However Islamophobia, in many instances, especially the organized variety is motivated.

Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller, Anders Behring Breivik, Geert Wilders, the EDL, SIOA and others are motivated by a hate for Islam and its practitioners. They are motivated by the romantic notion that they are a select group of superheroes who are saving Western Civilization from Muslim domination, and they hope in the process to become famous (and rich) in their cause.

Conclusion

In the final analysis, the discussion of whether or not Islamophobia is a phobia in a psychiatric sense misses the point. The discussion borders on the pedantic since the term Islamophobia is by now understood to refer to irrational and unreasonable beliefs, statements and actions directed toward Islam and Muslims. The line that distinguishes “Islamophobia” from “criticism” of Islam and Muslims is self-evident.

Furthermore, “Islamophobia” has crossed the threshold of acceptability into the mainstream, and in those instances in which their may be vagueness, employing “anti-Muslim” or “anti-Muslim Islamophobia” suffices to describe the phenomenon. Rather than get bogged down in trivial semantics or useless details, let us remember that language is never perfect. When a word organically captures the sense and reality of an existing phenomenon, as is the case with “Islamophobia,” it is important to understand its imperfections but not to be distracted from all it offers.

LGF: British Branch of the ‘Anti-Jihad’ Movement in Full Meltdown

Robert Spencer caught with his hand in the cookie jar once again.

LGF: British Branch of the ‘Anti-Jihad’ Movement in Full Meltdown

Even the bigoted Roberta Moore is leaving the EDL, now. When will Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller get the memo that it’s time to jump ship? (hat-tip: ZB)

British Branch of the ‘Anti-Jihad’ Movement in Full Meltdown

(Little Green Footballs)

The two most visible “anti-jihad” bloggers in the United States are probably Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller. They both appear frequently on Fox News as “experts” on Islam; Geller writes for Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government, Newsmax, and World Net Daily, and they’ve recently been touring the country showing their “Ground Zero Mega Mosque” horror film. Their anti-Muslim group “Stop the Islamization of America” was recently listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, for obvious reasons.

Spencer and Geller are also notorious for their enthusiastic support of Britain’s far right English Defence League, well known for their riots, fascist roots, and thuggish intimidation of British minorities.

Two examples: Geller gushed about the EDL here:

How I wish I could be there to stand with the English Defense League.

And Robert Spencer has called for “all free people” to support the EDL:

The EDL deserves the support of all free people.

So I have to wonder how Spencer and Geller will react to the latest news about their British allies.

First, the news that one of the EDL’s leaders, John “Snowy” Shaw, has suddenly realized that he hates Jews as much as Muslims, and is raving about the infamous antisemitic forgery “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion:” HOPE not hate blog: Infidel leader praises the Protocols.

With “the Protocols” Shaw has immersed himself in one of the most vile and dangerous forgeries of all time.

According to Shaw, the book has already begun to make things “click” in his head, and he advises “all true British patriots take the time to read this”.

Despite the book being discovered as a forgery, it has long been viewed as definitive proof of a Jewish conspiracy by Nazis and antisemites ever since. Adolf Hitler even had put it in the school curriculum in Nazi Germany. More recently, it was even among a selection of books that the BNP recommended for “patriots” during the 1980’s because they insisted it was still of historical interest.

The book is a crude record of the supposed minutes of a meeting of the Jewish community in the late 19th Century where plans for their world domination are discussed.

The book first surfaced in Russia in the early 1900’s and was used as a justification by antisemites to carry out pogroms against the Jewish community. It’s popularity spread as far as notorious Jew-Hater Henry Ford of Ford Motor car fame, who had a further 500,000 printed for distribution in the United States.

Having opened the book, Shaw is convinced by its authenticity. He is now adamant that both Jews and Muslims are conspiring together and that he “must stop them destroying our country”.

And second: hardline activist and leader of the EDL’s “Jewish Division,” Roberta Moore (a sort of British version of Pamela Geller), is very publicly bailing out of the group because of “the Nazis within:” EDL Jewish division leader Roberta Moore quits.

The hardline activist at the forefront of the “Jewish Division” of the extreme right-wing English Defence League has announced that she does not wish to be a part of it any longer because of Nazi elements within it. …

Although she described the EDL as “doing a fantastic job” she said the party had been hijacked by elements who wanted to use it “for their own Nazi purposes”.

Ms Moore said she still supported the EDL leaders and “all the genuine patriots out there who struggle to get their voices heard” but added that she no longer wished to be a part of it. “I sincerely hope that the leaders will get the strength to squash the Nazis within,” she said.

Mark Gardner, from the Community Security Trust, said: “This latest development shows, yet again, why Jews should not be involved in such circles.”

I cut ties long ago with people like Spencer and Geller precisely because they were willing (eager, in fact) to make alliances with the farthest of the far right, up to and including people with neo-Nazi connections — people like the English Defence League.

There’s no comment so far from either Robert Spencer or Pamela Geller on these developments.

Andrew Brown: Islamophobia and antisemitism

The money quote from the article,

“But with Muslims, in Britain today, there is a feeling that the civilised, funny, clever ones aren’t really proper Muslims at all. And don’t think that these civilised, funny, clever people people don’t notice it.

This is subtle and pervasive – more of a smell than a substance – and I’m not sure whether it’s a very diluted version of the stench that comes off Condell or Robert Spencer or something essentially different.”

I couldn’t have said it better than that.

Islamophobia and antisemitism

by Andrew Brown (Guardian)

The great thing about being in Dubai last week was being a foreigner once more. It’s how I spent much of my childhood, how I grew up, and how I feel most at home; but it brings professional rewards as well as personal pleasures. I was for the first time in my conscious life in an environment where the most important thing about Muslims was not that they were Muslims. It gave me a moment of sudden awareness, like waking in a log cabin without electricity when all the background hum and tension of electric motors that you never normally hear is suddenly audible by its absence.

The people I was hanging out, and sometimes drinking, with were Muslim intellectuals whom I know and like in England. They’re not in any way discriminated against in this country, as far as I can tell: their lives are not impeded by the kind of people who think that Muslims are a problem to be solved. The kind of crude and open prejudice that flourishes online – and go and look at comments on the Telegraph website, or the videos of Pat Condell, if you want to know what I mean – is very rare in liberal circles, and when we catch ourselves at it, we feel guilty.

But there is a more subtle and general sort of prejudice which holds that Condell is not an extremist outcast. Richard Dawkins, for example, has praised Condell, and used to sell his videos on his website, which reminds of the way that Oswald Mosley remained a member in good standing of the English upper classes until the outbreak of the second world war, despite his views on Jews.

What I realised in Dubai was that in England today Muslims can’t escape being Muslims, any more than Jews in England in the 20s or 30s could escape being Jewish. They can’t just be unremarkable, as Jews in England can be now.

In Dubai, or neighbouring Sharjah, being a Muslim did not matter in the same way. Obviously, people made a huge amount of fuss about Islam. But when you’re in a room full of Muslim academics and students arguing about culture, or censorship, or why there is so little science in the Arab world, the arguments themselves make one thing wholly plain. Neither side is more Muslim than the other. None of the flaws of the Islamic world are essential or intrinsic to it. They may be widespread, and in some cases quite horrible. But they’re all cultural and not just religious.

I don’t mean by this that all the bad bits are cultural and all the good bits religious. That’s both false and simplistic. Cultures can be both good and bad and both are still authentically Islamic. But the whole idea of an “essential” or “true” way of being Muslim makes little sense when looked at historically, no matter how important, indeed indispensable, that style of argument is between Muslims. The same is of course true about “real” Christianity, or, for that matter, “real” atheism.

We don’t have any real difficulty accepting this about Christians in this country. Except for a few noisy bigots, it’s accepted that nice, good Christians are just as Christian as nasty and vile ones: that Jesus would be just as much at home among the Quakers as in Ian Paisley’s congregation; in fact most Guardian readers believe that he would like the Quakers more. Certainly this is true about Jews. No one really believes that Lionel Blue is less Jewish than the chief rabbi (unless the chief rabbi does).

But with Muslims, in Britain today, there is a feeling that the civilised, funny, clever ones aren’t really proper Muslims at all. And don’t think that these civilised, funny, clever people people don’t notice it.

This is subtle and pervasive – more of a smell than a substance – and I’m not sure whether it’s a very diluted version of the stench that comes off Condell or Robert Spencer or something essentially different. Either way, it is a smell of which I spend most of my life unaware, and Muslims notice much more often. I shall try to flare my nostrils a little more often.

Cyberpath Robert Spencer has a Weird Fetish For Reza Aslan

Robert Spencer before the tummy tuck

Cyberpath Robert Spencer can’t get over Reza Aslan.

Aslan irks Spencer, bothers him to no end, Spencer views him as his arch-nemesis. In dozens of posts over the past few months, Spencer has at times nervously, at other times excitedly and feverishly used all the JihadWatch talking points and obfuscation at his disposal to attack or hurl personal insults and wild inuendo at Aslan. The dozens of posts have been long winded thousand worded epic Spencerian bile.

The reality behind this Spencer obsession is that Aslan is an outspoken critic of the anti-Muslim Islamophobia machine in which Spencer is a leader, and at the same time is also an advocate for Islamic reform and greater freedom in Muslim nations.

Aslan represents all that Spencer isn’t and therefore is a personality that confounds him, no longer is it easy for him to sling the allegation of Islamic supremacist, or Stealth Jihadist at someone who has an air of respectability and visibility in the mainstream such as Reza Aslan commands.

Spencer’s most recent outpouring of invective against Aslan was due to a few words Aslan said about Islamophobia,

RA: And the crazy thing about it is that we’re seeing that same sort of playbook, that made European Islamophobia so successful and mainstream on the continent, now being adopted by these groups like Stop Islamization of America and Jihad Watch, which are also very successful about creating a mainstream sense of anti-Muslim sentiment.

In the margins of this country there will always be racists and bigots; it’s just that they were always on the fringes; now, hence we have people like Pam Geller and Robert Spencer appearing as regular guests on mainstream television….

For this Spencer calls Aslan the “new” Fritz Kuhn, who was the leader of the American Nazi party back in the 30′s. Insane hyperbole and ad hominem attack? You bettcha!

Among other inane assertions, in a feat of hubris not uncommon for Spencer he not only compared Aslan to an American Nazi leader he also compared Islam to Nazism and levied the assertion that he is on par with those who criticize “Nazism.”

Imagine if Kuhn had given a similar address denouncing critics of Hitler and Nazism as “bigots” and “Germanophobes,” and claiming that anti-Nazi sentiment in the United States was a recrudescence of the ugly nativism that had victimized Catholics in America in the nineteenth century, and was leading up to a wholesale persecution and possibly even a genocide of innocent German-Americans.

Spencer’s off kilter analogy falls on its face when we realize that in fact Spencer is engaging in projection, as he himself has been an ally of Fascists and neo-Nazi groups such as: Geert Wilders (Right-wing Dutch neo-Fascist), EDL (English Defense League),SIOE (Stop the Islamization of Europe), BPE (Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa), Ewald Stadler (Far right Austrian politician), BZO, Sergei Trefkovic (Serbian Nationalist, genocide denier), etc.

Spencer’s argument as to why Aslan is the “new Fritz Kuhn” gets even weaker from that point. In trying to make his obscene case he says that Aslan is the new Fritz Kuhn because he is,

1. A “board member” of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) which Spencer says is, “a group that genuine Iranian pro-democracy forces regard as an apologetic vehicle for the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

First of all the NIAC is considered one of the best Iranian pro-Democracy organizations out there. In truth, the link that Spencer provides goes to an organization that not only doesn’t support democracy but displays an image of the Shah Reza Pahlavi on its site, not really a scion of democracy.

NIAC, Terrorist Apologist or pro-Democracy advocates?

2. He claims Aslan is uncritical of Ahmadinejad and his anti-Semitism.

Another false claim. If calling someone a “fraudulently elected Megalomaniac” is uncritical as Aslan did in one article then Spencer doesn’t know the meaning of “uncritical.” As it happens Aslan condemned Ahmadinejad’s denial of the holocaust calling it “absurd.”

3. Aslan calls for the US Government to negotiate with Ahmadinejad and Hamas.

What is controversial here? Others have called for the US to negotiate with Ahmadinejad and Hamas as well. Is Spencer implying that because Aslan has called for the US to negotiate with the two he somehow supports them? If so can he show us any proof? Of course he cannot and so he resorts to innuendo.

4. Has “praised” Hizballah by observing that it is “the most dynamic political and social organization in Lebanon.”

Aslan didn’t “praise” Hizballah as Spencer would have it, implying that Aslan somehow endorses them. He merely observed an obvious point that even Hizballah’s greatest detractors have, that it is the most highly organized and dynamic party in Lebanon.

This is what Aslan really said (hat tip: Mosizzle),

“You may think of Hizballah as a terrorist organization, and certainly they have engaged in terrorist acts, but they are also the most dynamic political and social organization in Lebanon”

Again, not really high “praise.”

At the end of the day Spencer is only chasing vague phantoms and attempting to spin terrorists or terrorist supporters out of thin air to suit his morbid agenda of framing “the only good Muslim as a bad Muslim.” The real Fritz Kuhn’s of the world are Spencer and his ilk, individuals who wish to eliminate Islam from the West.