Ana Kasparian Calls Robert Spencer a Loser and a Sad Sack of …

The whole All-American Muslim controversy had the upside of giving birth to this video by The Young Turks.  Ana Kasparian basically calls JihadWatch’s Robert Spencer a loser and a sad sack of …

Cenk Uygur calls Robert Spencer a “clown-o-ramo” and his site to be “full of morons.” Ana Kasparian delivers the elbow from the sky when she asks: “How depressing is it that you dedicate any time at all to creating a website called JihadWatch?”

Ana, believe it or not but this portly, bearded, and bald man named Robert Spencer has dedicated his entire life to blogging about jihad.  This grown man is nearing the age of 50 and this is how he not only spends his time but it’s his career.

Whenever I visit Neo-Nazi websites like Stormfront (which I do from time to time in order to marvel at the sheer insanity found there), I cannot help but marvel at how these people are obsessing over how much they hate “the blacks”.  Don’t these grown men have anything else to worry about?  Families, mortgages, actual careers?  What could be sadder than a group of old white men meeting in uniform to talk about how much they love Hitler?

It’s the same hate and level of obsession on JihadWatch.  Robert Spencer is their Grand Wizard, and they are all absolute, 100% total losers.  Their unhealthy level of obsessional hatred scares away friends and makes it impossible for them to ever get dates from normal women.  So, most of them hide this hatred in real life and just spend hours trolling the net in their basement.

As for Robert Spencer, one has to wonder what set him off: maybe some Muslim girl broke his heart long time ago by getting with some Muslim dude.  Now, Spencer is getting his revenge out on all Muslims.

That’s very similar to the founder of the Florida Family Association, the man behind the whole All-American Muslim controversy: his reason for dedicating his whole life to hatred has something to do with how he hates himself for being a frustrated porn addict:

Belgium, Islam, and the Boomerang of Loon Idiocy

Belgium VigilFrancois Lenoir/Reuters Women lit candles on Wednesday in memory of victims at the site of a gun and grenade attack in Liege, Belgium.

On Tuesday, after the grenade attack in Belgium, Loonwatch exposed Robert Spencer’s feeble attempt to pin it on Muslims here.  He immediately jumped to the conclusion that the perpetrator, Nordine Amrani, was a Muslim with sinister Islamic motives. Spencer wasn’t alone.

All the usual suspects also jumped the gun: Belgium, Islam and the Boomerang of “Multiculturalism” (Frontpage Magazine – thanks for the title idea), Belgium Grenade Attack by Muslim[s] 4 Dead, 75 wounded (Atlas Shrugs),  Belgium: Honor Killing Trial Causes Jihad With Hand Grenades (Winds of Jihad).

Apparently the loons are unaware that Amrani is typically a Mizrahi Jewish surname. It is reckless to guess because names can be deceiving, but if Amrani’s Jewish origin is confirmed, will the loons suddenly agree with us that the religious and ethnic heritage of the perpetrator shouldn’t be relevant?

As the bigots are fond of pointing out, Nordine Amrani is of Moroccan extraction, though he was born and raised in Belgium. According to an article in the New York Times, Amrani considered himself Belgian, didn’t speak a word of Arabic, and was not a Muslim.

In the absence of facts, it seems anti-Muslim bigots just manufacture whatever sensational headlines suit their hateful agenda. Authorities say the attack is not religiously motivated:

‘No religious motive in Liege rampage’

The Belgium grenade attack which killed three people and injured 123 has sent shockwaves through the country. However, Glyn Ford, a former Member of the European Parliament, stresses that individual motives are the key to understanding such attacks.

After Nordine Amrani, who also died in the blast, went on a rampage in a central square in the city of Liege on Tuesday, there has been much speculation as to what led him to throw three hand grenades toward a bus shelter and opening fire on the crowd.

Speaking with RT, Glyn Ford said that despite earlier reports, this was not a repeat of the July 22 Norwegian massacre that left 77 dead.

Well, we don’t know, but it would appear that it was an individual incident. Earlier reports that there were three or four gunmen involved have since been discredited and it equally appears that he wasn’t targeting anybody in particular… so in a sense it’s not a replica of what happened in Norway.

Ford was also quick to counter any allegations that Amrani’s attack was religiously motivated.

Earlier reaction in many senses seems to be rather racist. He was not being identified as a Belgium when he was a Belgian citizen. Because of his Moroccan origins, people are talking about killing the Muslims;  it’s all the fault of the Muslims, and the new socialist government that’s been in office now for nearly a week is being blamed for being soft on immigrants and not reacting hard enough.

It was also reported that a rightwing extremist had gone on a shooting spree in Florence, Italy, killing two African traders and wounding three others before taking his own life. While Ford recognizes that these tragic events in Europe are a cause for concern, he argues that the European Union has done a much better job of curbing such violent crimes than the United States.

In a sense, the European track record is far better than that in the United States. The United States has these kinds of rampage attacks happening fairly regularly in schools and elsewhere. I think it’s the rather tougher gun laws that we actually have in the European Union that’s kept it down to the low level that it is, because essentially Europeans are no different than American. It’s the lack of weapons that’s kept this under control to a degree.

Ultimately, Ford says that when confronted with such events, it is better to investigate individual motives rather than jump to any immediate conclusions.

****************************

The latest Europol Data confirms that less than 1% of terrorist attacks in Europe are perpetrated by Muslims. Shooting sprees and violent rampages are usually said to be the work of a “lone wolf” with no religious motive, and they don’t count as terrorism, unless the perpetrator is Muslim. In that case, it’s terrorism done “in the name of Islam,” regardless of actual motive.

The Telegraph compiled a list of similar incidents over the last 10 years, and it appears Amrani would be the token Muslim if the loons were right about his background:

Liege shooting and grenade attack: previous European incidents in last 10 years

September 27, 2001 – SWITZERLAND

A man bursts into the local assembly in the central Swiss town of Zug and opens fire, killing 14 members of parliament and local government then turning the gun on himself.

‘Grudge’ behind Swiss gun massacre

Fredrich LeibarcherFredrich Leibarcher

March 27, 2002 – FRANCE

Eight local councillors are killed and 19 injured when a man opens fire on members of the municipal council of Nanterre, outside Paris. He kills himself the next day while in police custody.

The perpetrator in the shootings was Richard Durn, 33, who was originally from Slovenia.

Richard DurnRichard Durn

April 26, 2002 – GERMANY

Sixteen people, including 12 teachers and two students, are gunned down at a school in Erfurt in eastern Germany by a 19-year-old former student, apparently in revenge for having been expelled, who then killed himself.

Robert SteinhuserRobert Steinhuser

November 7, 2007 – FINLAND

An 18-year-old goes on a shooting rampage in a school in the southern Finnish town of Tuusula, killing eight people before shooting himself.

A Deadly School Shooting, This Time in Finland

Pekka-Eric AuvinenPekka-Eric Auvinen

September 23, 2008 – FINLAND

Eleven people, including the 22-year-old gunman, die in a massacre at a training school at Kauhajoki, Finland at the hands of Matti Juhani Saari

Matti SaariMatti Saari

March 11, 2009 – GERMANY

Nine pupils, three teachers and three passers-by are killed in a school shooting at Winnenden in southern Germanyby Tim Kretschmer a former pupil who then kills himself.

Tim KretchmerTim Kretchmer

June 2, 2010 – ENGLAND

Twelve people are killed when Derrick Bird, a 52-year-old taxi driver, goes on a shooting spree in the English region of Cumbria, before killing himself.

Derrick BirdDerrick Bird

April 9, 2011 – THE NETHERLANDS

A gunman opens fire in a packed mall in the Netherlands, killing six people before shooting himself dead.

Lone gunman shoots six dead in Dutch shopping mall

Van der Vlis left a farewell letter, found by his mother, in which he mostly talked about his suicidal feelings. But it did not give a clear motive for the killings, the town’s mayor Bas Eenhoorn told Dutch television.

Tristan van der VlisTristan van der Vlis

July 22, 2011- NORWAY

A bomb attack on government buildings in Oslo that kills eight is followed by a shooting which kills 69 at a summer holiday camp organised by the ruling Labour party on the island of Utoya, near to the capital. Anders Behring Breivik, a right-wing extremist is arrested for carrying out both attacks.

Anders BreivikAnders Breivik

December 13, 2011 – BELGIUM

Three people, plus the gunman, are killed when a man, armed with grenades, opens fire on a square packed with children and Christmas shoppers in the eastern Belgian city of Liege.

Nordine AmraniNordine Amrani

December 13, 2011 – ITALY

In ITALY a far-right militant kills two Senegalese street vendors and wounds three people in a shooting spree in Florence after which he apparently kills himself.

Gianluca CasseriGianluca Casseri

Among all the anti-Muslim hate sites, the most novel is the Roman Catholic Imperialist, which claims Anders Breivik is also a Muslim convert. Notice how frequently the word “Muslim” is repeated [emphasis mine]:

In the Belgian city of Liege known for its love of the Muslim – a Muslim kills 4 in a terrorist attack and wounded at least 75. It is not official that the terrorist is a Muslim, but all bets are that he is. The Modus operandi is the same as in all other Muslim terrorist attacks. This attack is similar to the attack in Norway by the Muslim convert Anders Behring Breivik.

First: the bomb.

Second: the gun.

The Muslim terrorist lobbed grenades into the crowd. After his hands were free the Muslim terrorist pulled out a hand gun and started firing. The Muslim aimed to kill.

The Belgian interior Ministry said the incident was not terrorism-related. Meaning of course that the man was most likely a Muslim.

No Muslims were killed ‘cept of course for the Muslim terrorist who later blew his brains out.

Breivik described himself in his Manifesto as a “culturally Christian” agnostic who wanted to restore the Knights Templar. Breivik despised Islam and viewed himself as a foot soldier in the war against the Muslim hordes. In fact, the site looks like something Brievik could appreciate.

So why does the Roman Catholic Imperialist say Breivik is a Muslim convert? An anonymous comment suggests, “All terrorists are Muslims, therefore all Muslims are terrorists.” Breivik is a terrorist, therefore Breivik is a Muslim.

Take another look at the photos above, folks. According to loon (il)logic, they’re all Moooslems!

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 Loses His Mind Over Muslim Reality Show, Asks Why “All-American Muslim” Doesn’t Include Terrorist Family

Before I begin, I must disclose my general disdain for reality television.  I think this phenomenon is part of a generalized “dumbing down” of America.  I’ll even go so far as to say that I lose a bit of respect for those who watch Jersey ShoreKeeping Up With the Kardashians, etc.

But, when I heard about TLC’s All-American Muslim, I was naturally intrigued.  It was a clear violation of the rule that Muslims can only be portrayed in American media as terrorist villains or, occasionally, as the token Muslim helping “the good guys” against the Evil Muslim Terrorists.  The idea of depicting what real Muslims are like–instead of the caricature in the media–is something I support.

Indeed, there is probably nothing more important in the battle against Islamophobia than humanizing Muslims and making them relatable, which this television show just might do (or at least help in doing so).  Katie Couric argued that a “Muslim Cosby Show” would be a great idea: just as it helped many white Americans see that black Americans weren’t all that different from them, so too could a show about American Muslim families help other Americans realize that they aren’t all that different from each other.

JihadWatch’s Robert Spencer and other Islamophobes absolutely hate that idea.  That’s why Spencer grumbled that “[t]he point of the show is to depict Muslims as ordinary folks just like you and me who are subjected to unjust suspicion.”

How DARE the show depict Muslims as ordinary folks!  Doesn’t TLC know that Muslims are not ordinary at all, that they eat infidel babies for breakfast, shoot jihad laser beams from their eyes, and fart 100% pure radioactive Sharia?

Spencer bellowed:

TLC’s much-ballyhooed All-American Muslim reality show makes its agenda clear in its opening sequences: shots of a hijabbed girl roller-skating, Muslims dancing at a wedding, an American flag waving proudly in the breeze, and newspaper clippings proclaiming “4 in 10 Americans ‘suspicious’ of Muslims,” “Outrage at Ground Zero ‘Mosque,’” and “Muslims Brace for Backlash.” The point of the show is to depict Muslims as ordinary folks just like you and me who are subjected to unjust suspicion.

And so we meet one zaftig girl who loves to have fun and go to clubs, and who is in the process of getting married. Another young woman, provocatively dressed by Muslim standards, is trying to open up a club of her own. A young hijab-wearing wife shares the joy of her pregnancy with her loving husband. They’re balancing the demands of faith and family with life’s daily pressures, just like most Americans. So why—the show implies—are non-Muslim Americans so mean to them?

Yet it is noteworthy that both the woman who is getting married and the one who is trying to open a club acknowledge that they are not all that religious. And that is the problem at the heart of All-American Muslim. The Muslims it depicts are for the most part undoubtedly harmless, completely uninterested in jihad and Islamic supremacism…

But Americans aren’t suspicious of Muslims who are trying to get married, open clubs, and play football. Americans are suspicious of Muslims who are trying to blow up American buildings, subvert American freedoms, and assert the primacy of Islamic law over American law.

Robert Spencer is upset that All-American Muslim didn’t portray a family of terrorist Muslims–perhaps they could have named them the Al-Kablams.  Here is where Spencer lives in his Islamophobe fantasy: he imagines that American Muslim families are “jihadis” and Islamic supremacists who want to “blow up American buildings, subvert American freedoms, and assert the primacy of Islamic law over American law.”

If Jersey Shore were really about Italian-Americans (as some incorrectly thought it was), do you think it would be justified to demand that the show include a mafioso family in it?  Does a reality show about Catholic families in America need to include a family led by a child-molesting priest? Would a reality television show about Mexican-American families be “misleading” if it didn’t include at least one family of illegals?  Would a show about Russian or Chinese-Americans be incomplete if it didn’t include at least one family of radical communists?  Is a show about black Americans incomplete if it doesn’t include a family of ex-cons?

What utter nonsense.

This would be like arguing that the Cosby Show was misleading white America, since it showed “harmless blacks,” and not the ones “who are trying to rob, rape, and kill whites,” which was a prevailing stereotype of the time.  The entire purpose of the Cosby Show–and now All-American Muslim–is to counter stereotypes.  So why on earth would All-American Muslim include a terrorist family?  Why does anyone take Robert Spencer’s nonsense seriously?

The fact that All-American Muslim chose to include characters who were not very religious had Robert Spencer in quite the tizzy.  Interesting, some American Muslim viewers were also taken aback by this.  However, AltMuslim.com’s Tuqa Nusairat gave an appropriate response to this criticism, saying:

Let’s stop assuming that Muslims do not drink, have tattoos, or own clubs. If you were somehow shocked by the scenes on this episode, it simply indicates your lack of intermingling with a representative sample of American Muslims.

Only a very small percentage of American Muslims are observant.  (The exact percentage is hotly debated, but there is no question that they are in the minority.)  And only a fraction of those who are religious wear the headscarf (hijab).  Therefore, one could even say that the observant Muslim population is over-represented in All-American Muslim.

This is another reason, among the many, that Islamophobic fear-mongers are wildly off the mark when they portray the American Muslim population as a threat to American democracy.  If only a fraction of Muslim women even wear the headscarf in America, what percentage of American Muslims do you think want to overthrow American democracy to replace it with Taliban-style Sharia?  (Answer: 0.000000001%)

This is not to buy into Robert Spencer’s false dichotomy between Good, Nominal Muslims on the one hand, and Bad, Observant Muslims on the other.  Spencer writes:

[T]here are people who are very knowledgeable about its doctrines and serious about putting them into practice, and others who don’t know and don’t care about what their religion teaches but still identify themselves as members of it, and every gradation in between. It would never happen for obvious reasons, but All-American Muslim would be much more interesting if it tracked one of its secular, attractive nominal Muslims as he decided to get more serious about his faith, and ended up participating in jihad activity or Islamic supremacist efforts to demonize and marginalize those who resist that activity.

He assumes that religious observance would necessitate participation in terrorism and Islamic supremacism.  In fact, as I noted above, many of the actors are observant: they reconcile their faith with modernity–and set themselves to being productive citizens; there is no contradiction for them, and millions of others, between being religious and being a good citizen.  In fact, they see the two things going hand-in-hand.  And Robert Spencer et al. absolutely hate that.

*  *  *  *  *

Elsewhere in the same diatribe, Robert Spencer says:

All-American Muslim addresses nothing of that supremacist ideology, although at times it makes an appearance despite the producers’ best efforts. The woman who is getting married is marrying a Roman Catholic, who converts to Islam in order to marry her. Her father insists on the conversion as a condition of the wedding, and at one point we are told in passing that while a Muslim man may marry a non-Muslim woman, a Muslim woman is not free to marry a non-Muslim man.

There are two issues here: (1) an alleged double standard between Muslim men and women with regard to marrying non-Muslims, and (2) a supposed supremacist attitude that demands that Muslims can only marry fellow Muslims.

Despite the fact that it wasn’t discussed in the first episode of the show (perhaps it will be in future episodes), there exists an alternative opinion with regard to Muslim women marrying non-Muslims, a view grounded in the Quran no less.  This dissenting, reformist opinion is expressed by the Islamic intellectual Khaled Abou El Fadl, who allows Muslim men and women to marry non-Muslims.

The traditional opinion uses verse 2:221 of the Quran to completely prohibit Muslim women from marrying non-Muslims (see, for instance, this ultra-conservative Islamic website):

And do not give your women in marriage to idolaters until they believe: a believing slave is certainly better than an idolater, even though he may please you.   Such people call you to the Fire, while God calls you to the Garden and forgiveness by His leave.

Yet, the first half of the verse, addressed to the men, is conveniently left out (in bold):

Do not marry idolatresses until they believe: a believing slave woman is certainly better than an idolatress, even though she may please you. And do not give your women in marriage to idolaters until they believe: a believing slave is certainly better than an idolater, even though he may please you. Such people call you to the Fire, while God calls you to the Garden and forgiveness by His leave.

It’s the exact same restriction upon Muslim men.  The Quran says in another verse (5:5):

Today all good things have been made lawful for you. The food of the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) is lawful for you as your food is lawful for them. So are chaste, believing, women as well as chaste women of the people who were given the Scripture before you (Jews and Christians), as long as you have given them their bride-gifts and married them, not taking them as lovers or secret mistresses.

Clearly, the first verse (2:221) prohibits marriage to idolaters only, not to all non-Muslims.  In fact, throughout the Quran, the “People of the Book” (which includes Jews and Christians) are referred to separately from “idolaters,” an indication that these two groups are not simply interchangeable.

The reformist argument goes: since the exact same word is used for women–in the very same verse, no less–it seems that the Quran is only prohibiting Muslim women from marrying idolaters, not all non-Muslims–it is certainly not referring to Jews and Christians (such as Jeff).  Based on this understanding, Muslims are allowed to marry Muslims or non-Muslims, so long as they are chaste.

There are much wider implications to this discussion, including the way different ideological groups within the Islamic community…

1) …choose to emphasize or de-emphasize traditional views.

2) …choose to emphasize or de-emphasize “ijma.”

3) …view the religious texts: do they view the Quran with “fresh eyes” or do they only read the Quran “through” ancient commentaries?  Also, is it really true that the stricter, more conservative views are “more authentic” and are more closely grounded in Quranic evidence?

4) …view non-Muslims: are they all idolaters?  Or can non-Muslims enter Paradise?

5) …view women and patriarchy.

These and other issues I plan on discussing in greater detail in the future.  They are very important to understand if one truly wants to understand the American Muslim community and Islam in general.  This understanding and depth of knowledge is needed to tackle Islamophobia as well, and it is critical in order to counter the myths spread by Robert Spencer and co.

*  *  *  *  *

Robert Spencer then says:

Left unanswered in the show is the question of what might have happened if the couple had decided to get married in the Roman Catholic Church, or to leave Islam at some later date. No doubt this non-observant woman’s Muslim relatives would have been less solicitous in that event.

So too are many devout Catholic parents “less solicitous” when their children wish to marry outside the faith.  In fact, the Catholic Church blocks all marriages to non-Christians, calling it a “disparity of cult.”  One must seek a special exemption from a bishop to conduct such a marriage; the bishop’s job is to try to get the non-Christian partner to agree that the children will be raised Catholic.  Is this then a reflection of the supremacist attitude of Catholicism?

How would Robert Spencer himself react if his son or daughter wanted to marry a Muslim?  We all know how “solicitous” he’d be feeling.

Certainly, many Protestant Christian groups, especially Evangelicals, insist on only dating and marrying fellow believers.  Many outright forbid marriage outside the faith, citing the Biblical verse 2 Corinthians 6:14:

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?

Two of the three major branches of Judaism (Orthodox and Conservative) similarly forbid Jews from marrying non-Jews.

But, remember, when Muslims say that they should only marry fellow believers, that’s a proof of inherent Islamic supremacism!

The lady–in this case, Robert Spencer–doth protest too much, methinks.

Also, it should be pointed out that there is no indication that Shadia is fearful for her life should she choose to marry a non-Muslim.  A reasonable assumption is that her father would be upset with her, stop speaking to her for some time, and/or not attend the wedding.  Only in Spencer’s mind would it be reasonable to assume that he is going to “honor kill” her.  Considering that the total number of Muslim honor killings in the United States can be counted on the hand, why should the show depict that as representative of the millions of American Muslim families?

In fact, Shadia’s father already knows that his daughter is dating Jeff; she even kisses Jeff in front of him.  Shadia’s father also knows that she has tattoos and drinks alcohol, among other “un-Islamic” things.  He hasn’t killed her yet.  In fact, he is loving towards her.

Even though the father’s demand–that Jeff convert to Islam if he wants to marry Shadia–is completely unreasonable, it should be noted that really the father is asking for Jeff to make a token, fake conversion–one that he probably knows is not considered valid in Islam.  Contrary to what was depicted on the show, conversion to Islam does not require just saying a simple sentence and presto!  Rather, Islam stresses that conversion starts in the heart; without conviction, the conversion meant nothing.

Similarly, Robert Spencer whines elsewhere:

There are many women in the show who are wearing hijabs and many who are not, but we are not allowed to see what might happen if one of the hijab-wearing women decides to take it off.  Such conflicts would not serve The Learning Channel’s agenda.

Here again he assumes that the women on the show are forced to wear hijab by their families.  This shows Spencer’s unfamiliarity with American Muslim community.  One can bet that there are other women in the same family who don’t don the hijab–and nothing happens to them.  In fact, it has been a phenomenon that younger American Muslim women don the hijab of their own accord, often against their parent’s wishes.  In any case, there is no reason at all to assume that anything at all would happen to them if they chose to take it off.  Such considerations would not serve JihadWatch’s agenda.

*  *  *  *  *

Robert Spencer concludes with a sentence that makes clear his views endorsing collective guilt and punishment:

[A]ll that All-American Muslim gives us is a denunciation of “Islamophobia” featuring Muslims who could never have conceivably inspired any suspicion of Islam in the first place.

Spencer seems to be of the opinion that Radical Muslims are the ones to blame, not Islamophobia, for the suspicion the Muslims in All-American Muslim must deal with.  Can you imagine how quickly a person would be dubbed a racist if they were to say something outlandish like “black criminals, not white racists, are responsible for racism against the black community”?

Insert any race or religion for “Muslims” and Spencer’s bigotry becomes clear.  His beef with All-American Muslim is an argument steeped in Islamophobia, which the show may help to counteract–and that’s why it is only natural that people like Robert Spencer would steadfastly oppose it.  The Islamophobes can’t stomach Americans viewing American Muslims as “ordinary folks just like you and me.”  And that’s reason enough to support the show, at least in my book.

*  *  *  *  *

Addendum I:

Aman Ali, co-creator of 30 Mosques in 30 Days, offered some legitimate criticism of All-American Muslim.  The show failed to show the ethnic diversity within the American Muslim community:  all the Muslims in the show are Arab-Americans.  This reinforces the myth that all Muslims are Arabs, and all Arabs are Muslims.  In fact, “[o]nly about 12 percent of Muslims worldwide are Arabs”, and in the United States only 1 in 4 Muslims is of Arab ethnicity.

All-American Muslim didn’t bother to include any characters from the Asian and black communities, even though these two groups make up a greater percentage of the American Muslim population.  Writes Ali:

Brilliant! What better way to show the mainstream public an insight into how multicultural and intellectually diverse Islam’s followers are… with a show focusing on just Arabs (20 percent of the world’s Muslim population) who follow the Shia sect of Islam (about 10 percent of the world’s Muslim population).

The show, which premiered over the weekend, presents itself as a glimpse into the American Muslim community but ignores an overwhelming majority of the cultures that comprise it. South Asians like my parents, who came from India, make up one of the largest group of Muslim immigrants in the United States.

That doesn’t bother me as much as the fact that the show makes no reference to African-American Muslims, another huge American Muslim group. Many of the black slaves that built the foundation of this country with blood, sweat and tears were Muslim.

And Malcolm X, Muhammad Ali, Dave Chappelle and Lupe Fiasco are all American Muslims, too. Hell, Detroit is right next to Dearborn. All the producers had to do was turn around and they’d find one of the most active African-American Muslim communities in the country.

AltMuslim.com’s Tuqa Nusairat countered by saying:

The “reality” is that “Jersey Shore” doesn’t represent Italians in NJ, “Sister Wives” doesn’t represent all Mormons, “Kate Plus Eight” doesn’t represent all families of multiples, so why would would we expect this show to represent all American Muslims?

The problem with Nusairat’s retort is that Italians did and do criticize Jersey Shore for not being representative of their community.  They were certainly justified in doing so, even though the show was not called All-American Italians.  Similarly, Mormons did and do criticize Sister Wives, because they feel that it is not representative of their faith community.  (And I’ll be honest: I’ve never heard of Kate Plus Eight so no comment there.)

Jersey Shore was a poor choice for Nusairat to have relied on to make her argument.  However, I agree with her article overall and share her optimistic opinion with regard to the show, which is a refreshing change from the same-old Muslim as Terrorist role that Robert Spencer insists upon.  Since people today don’t like reading, the best way to counter Islamophobia and reach the average Joe is not through the long and intricate articles I write, but through the boob tube.  All-American Muslim is a step in the right direction.

Islamophobes Jump the Gun on Ginned up “Jihad” Against Catholic University


Last month, George Washington University Law Professor John Banzhaf took it upon himself to file a frivolous legal complaint, supposedly on behalf of Muslim students, against The Catholic University of America. Although no Muslim students had complained about their treatment at CUA, Branzhaf made the absurd accusation that the University was violating their human rights by, among other things, failing to provide them with their own prayer space, devoid of Christian symbols.

Banzhaf, who has been manufacturing controversy for decades, boasts on his website that he has been dubbed the “Osama bin Laden of Torts.” Whether he is a misguided human rights activist or an agent provocateur, his high-profile lawsuit immediately generated howls of furry from anti-Muslim outrage peddlers, who accused “Islamic supremacists” of waging holy war on American Christians.

In the wake of the controversy, Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations assured the Washington Post that Muslims had no complaints against the University, saying:

“Muslim college students are not hothouse flowers that need protection. If they had concerns, we would have heard them.”

Hooper was soon proven right in a refreshing display of journalistic integrity at The Blaze, a right wing website founded by former Fox News host Glenn Beck. After Meredith Jessup‘s investigation revealed that Muslims had nothing to do with the complaint, she published a correction to her previous article, saying:

“Since we brought you news of the legal complaint filed against Catholic University alleging that Muslim students’ rights are being violated as they pray in rooms featuring Christian images and symbols, the story has picked up national media attention. Last night on Fox News, host Sean Hannity’s panel debated this “holy war being waged in our nation’s capital.” But Hannity and others are missing key facts in this case and, as a result, overlooking the real story.

When I first read about the human rights complaint allegedly filed on behalf of Muslim students at Catholic, I made the mistake of assuming that Muslim students were behind it. Only after personally speaking with the complaint filer — George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf — did I understand what this story was really all about. In fact, not a single Muslim student at Catholic University has signed on to Professor Banzhaf’s complaint and he admitted to me that he lodged the complaint against Catholic with the D.C. Office of Human Rights as a concerned individual, not on behalf of any student or group of students.

In fact, Banzhaf sent a letter to the editor of the school’s newspaper soliciting complainants on September 22, yet readily admits that none have have signed on to his case against the school.

“The community here is very respectful of other religions and I feel free to openly practice it,” Wiaam Al Salmi, a Muslim student at Catholic U who recently started the Arab American Association on campus told the school’s student newspaper.

Additionally, Muslim enrollment at Catholic U (and Catholic universities across the country) has been on the rise.”

Anti-Muslim loons everywhere had taken full advantage of this juicy opportunity to spur widespread outrage against Muslims, publishing Raymond Ibrahim’s inflammatory article, Why does the Cross ‘Provoke’ Muslims, on Frontpage Magazine, Jihad Watch, Middle East Forum, and Winds of Jihad. Ibrahim, like Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, is part of an incestuous cadre of anti-Muslim hatemongers associated with the David Horowitz Freedom Center. Ibrahim has his own page, “Raymond’s Intersection,” at Frontpage Magazine, and also writes a weekly column for Jihad Watch.

Fellow loon Pamela Geller broke away from the hatemonger herd, linking instead to Fox News‘ Do Crosses at Catholic University Violate “Human Rights” of Muslims? She described Branzhaf’s complaint as an example of “Islamic supremacism,” and made the paranoid prediction that Attorney General Eric Holder would soon file a similar suit, presumably as part of the Obama Administration’s secret Mooslim agenda.

At the time of this writing, only Jihad Watch and The Blaze have published an update absolving Muslims. The ever paranoid Jihad Watch did so only grudgingly, insisting the lawsuit remains, “an equally insidious social engineering effort against CUA.”

Branzhaf’s ill-advised complaint is a setback in already strained relations between Christians and Muslims that cannot easily be reversed. Even if many sites retract their knee-jerk indictment of Muslims, the incident has been a public relations victory for the enemies of Islam and Muslims, reminiscent of the Islamophobiapalooza that boomeranged across the USA during the so-called South Park controversy.

Mass Honor Killing Delights Loons

Shafia Trial

The Shafia murder trial currently underway in Ontario, Canada is a public relations bonanza for anti-Muslim bigots who have made so-called “Islamic honor killings” a major theme in their campaign to vilify Muslims. Three of Mohammad Shafia’s daughters and his first wife were found dead in a car submerged in a shallow canal two years ago in what prosecutors say was a quadruple murder staged to look like an accident.

Mohammad Shafia, 58, his second wife, Tooba Mohammad Yahya, 41, and their son Hamed, who was 18 at the time of the incident, have each been charged with four counts of first-degree murder. All three have pleaded not guilty.

Shafia is a wealthy Montreal businessman originally from Afghanistan, who was apparently living in a polygamous arrangement with his first (infertile) wife, his second wife, and their seven children. After leaving Afghanistan in 1992, the family had lived in Dubai, Pakistan and Australia before settling in Quebec, Canada.

Two summers ago on a return trip from a Niagara Falls vacation, the family checked into a Kingston hotel for the night. Early the next morning, police found the family’s wrecked sedan in the nearby Kingston Mill locks.

Inside were the bodies of sisters Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti Shafia, 13, and Mohammad’s first wife, Rona Amir Mohammad, 52. Autopsies indicated all four victims had drowned.

At first, the couple told police their eldest daughter had taken the sedan for a joyride without their permission, resulting in a tragic accident. Inconsistencies in their story left police suspicious, and evidence found at the scene contradicted their account.

Investigators said the sedan would have had to travel past a locked gate, over a concrete curb and a rocky outcrop, and then make two U-turns to wind up in the locks of the canal. Damage found on both vehicles indicates that Mohammad Shafia’s SUV pushed the sedan into the shallow canal at an isolated, unlit location.

Police seized a laptop from the family’s Montreal home they said was owned by Shafia but used by his son Hamed. In the weeks leading up to the alleged murder, forensic experts found incriminating phrases had been entered in the Google search engine, including “Where to commit a murder,” “Can a prisoner have control over their real estate,” and ”Montreal jail.”

Shafia’s chilling statements captured on police wiretaps suggest he orchestrated the death of his daughters because they consorted with boys and dishonored his family with their defiant behavior:

“They committed treason on themselves. They betrayed humankind. They betrayed Islam. They betrayed our religion…they betrayed everything.”

An apparently remorseless Shafia told his second wife that when he views the cell phone photos of Zainab and Sahar posing with their boyfriends or in suggestive clothing, he is consoled, saying:

“I say to myself, ‘You did well.’ Were they come to life, I would do it again.”

The trial has received intense media coverage in Canada, but in the US, coverage has been mostly confined to anti-Muslim hatemongers and outrage peddlers. Frontpage Magazine, a site run by anti-Muslim loon David Horowitz, prompted some hate-filled comments from readers responding to an article about the Shafia trial:

“IslamoFascist Pigs will continue to carry out the tenets of Islam because they are 7th Century barbarians in the 21st Century. It’s unfortunate that Canada doesn’t have a death penalty.”

“…The West is drinking poison, we need to puke it out and close the door and seal every crack to keep this evil out.”

An article on The Blaze, a right wing website founded by former Fox News host Glenn Beck, provoked over 200 colorful comments, including:

“These towelheads think they are above the law. I don’t know what its going to take to wake up our country and it’s leaders.”

“ISLAM THE MUSLIM BARBARIC SATAN CULT! These are Dictator Barack Hussein Obamas chosen people! The SHARIA-LAW IS ALREADY STARTING IN OUR AMERICA!”

“Gee…if Muslims keep this up there won’t be a ‘problem’ with them. I say we need to keep hands off and let this run its course.”

“Nuke Mecca, Nuke Medina. Peace through Strength, Strength through Superior Firepower.”

Pamela Geller’s website Atlas Shrugs is also covering the story, and her readers appear to be equally hateful, paranoid, and in some cases, unaware that Afghans are not Arabs:

“Muslim DOGS is what they are… Arab DOGS!”

“Just another moderate Muslim. And that is not tongue-in-cheek. DEPORT ALL OF THEM.”

“The pathetic politically-correct wussies in the canadian parliament have totally rolled-over and caved to these islamo-crazies. Sharia will be the law of the land in canada within the next three years. It’s time to beef up our northern border.”

Notice that these comments are not confined to outrage over this specific crime, but are a wholesale denunciation of all Muslims and the Islamic religion, as well as calls for violence, deportation, and even genocide. Comments consistently expressed a visceral hatred of Muslims, belief in a sinister left-Islamist alliance, and paranoid conspiracy theories about Muslims taking over and imposing Sharia (Islamic Law) in the Western world.

Geller has a section on her website entitled, “Honor Killings: Islam Misogyny,” where she frequently repeats the lie that honor killings are sanctioned by Islamic Law.  She describes honor killing in America as, “a grotesque manifestation of [S]haria law abrogating American law,” and warns that “creeping [S]haria” will bring a myriad of barbaric practices to the US if  “Islamic supremacists” are not stopped.

The fact is that honor killings are not religiously or legally sanctioned by Islam. Rafia Zakaria is a lawyer, a doctoral candidate at Indiana University, and the Director for Amnesty International USA.  Zakaria is also a Muslim feminist and a regular contributor to Ms.blog Magazine, which covers contemporary women’s issues. On the subject of honor killing, she has said:

“That is one of the black and white statements I can make. There is absolutely nothing, either in the Qur’an or in the Hadith, or even in any secondary source that says that honor killing is something that Muslims should do or can do or that is lawful.”

Honor killing is an ancient practice that can be linked to the ancient Babylonian Code of Hammurabi, circa 1700 BC.  Barbara Kay, a harsh critic of Islam who previously sparked controversy with her column, “The Rise of Quebecistan,” says the first honor killing in Judeo-Christian civilization is recorded in the Bible in Genesis 34.  She relates the story here.

Some Muslims, a minority mistakenly believe that “honor killing” is permitted in Islam, and Mohammad Shafia’s statements in the wake of his daughters’ deaths suggest he shares this misconception, conflating culture and faith. For this reason, it is important to spread the news that Islam does NOT condone these killings, yet anti-Muslim bigots who claim they care about Muslim women are doing the opposite.

In a pathetic attempt to prove Islam sanctions honor killings, the loons have dredged up  ”Reliance of the Traveller,” a classical manual for the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence written over 600 years ago. A convoluted interpretation of select passages has gone viral, and is now routinely cited on the pages of hate sites and in comments on numerous articles related to honor killing.

Geller quotes a section of The Traveller on her website that says certain crimes, including the killing of one’s offspring, are not subject to retaliation, implying Muslim parents have a free pass to murder their children under Islamic Law, which is a bold faced LIE. Retaliation is a form of reciprocal justice, lex talionis, commonly known as “an eye for an eye.”

A crime that is not subject to retaliation can still be punished by other means. Restrictions on reciprocal justice in the Qur’an were meant to reduce blood feuds and the cycle of vengeance. The concept of retaliation is also found in Jewish and Christian scriptures, and like honor killing, traces back to the ancient Code of Hammurabi.

Even if The Traveller sanctioned honor killing (which it doesn’t), it would be the interpretation of one Islamic cleric who lived centuries ago, and not a formal part of Islamic Law. Sharia is drawn primarily from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, and neither sanctions honor killing.

Of course Geller is only parroting a common anti-Muslim talking point pushed by her teacher in all things Islamic, Robert Spencer. Spencer, since the launch of JihadWatch has tried his utmost to find an Islamic text that he could contort and link to “honor killings.”

His one method has been to cite the well known story of Khidr in the 18th chapter of the Qur’an as such a justification for “honor killing” in Islam:

Khidr killed the young man because he would grieve his pious parents with his “rebellion and ingratitude” (v. 80), and Allah (SWT) will give them a better son (v. 81).

…[further down states]…

Another point emerges in Islamic tradition: don’t kill children, unless you know they’re going to grow up to be unbelievers. “The Messenger of Allah (SWT) (may peace be upon him) used not to kill the children, so thou shouldst not kill them unless you could know what Khidr had known about the child he killed, or you could distinguish between a child who would grow up to he a believer (and a child who would grow up to be a non-believer), so that you killed the (prospective) non-believer and left the (prospective) believer aside.” The assumption thus enunciated may help explain the persistence of the phenomenon of honor-killing in Islamic countries and even among Muslims in the West.

Robert Spencer shamelessly tries to mislead the reader into thinking there is some textual justification for honor killing. Seeking Ilm, a traditional conservative Muslim website takes Spencer to task for this and sheds light on the above falsities, debunking Spencer’s mythical explanation:

Such an explanation is not at all mentioned by the scholars of old or of late. None understood this story to mean that it is permitted to kill children if they will be an unbeliever.

It goes on to discuss the tradition mentioned by Spencer: first the speaker is a disciple of the Prophet Muhammad known as Ibn Abbas; second, the wording of the tradition cited by Spencer is from a shaadh (peculiar) narration of the said tradition and is therefore “weaker” and not “accepted”; third, it is narrated differently in the Sahih of Imam Muslim (one of the most authoritative books of tradition) with only these words,

“Verily the Messenger of God (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) did not kill children, so do not kill children, unless you know what Al-Khidr knew when he killed the child.”

The Seeking Ilm folks go on to write,

The fact is it is impossible to know what Al-Khidr knew. Imam An-Nawawi (1234-1278 CE), recognized as one of the most brilliant Muslim jurists and judges to have lived, explained these words in his commentary upon the Sahih of Imam Muslim:

“It means: Verily it is not permitted to kill them (i.e. children), nor is it permitted for you to make a connection to the story of Al-Khidr utilizing it to kill children. For verily, Al-Khidr did not kill except by the command of God, the exalted, as this was specifically allotted to him just as was mentioned in the end of the story [of khidr], “And I did it not of my own accord.” So [Ibn ‘Abbas is saying] if you came to know of such from a child then he is to be killed. And it is known such cannot be known [by a person] and so it is not permitted to kill him.” ((Sharh Sahih Muslim: Translated by Seekingilm team ))

What is also important to mention is that Imam Nawawi himself, the great Dr. in Hadith and commentator of the Sahih, places this hadith beneath the chapter title, “Women Participants in Jihad are to be Given Reward but not Part of the Spoils, and the Prohibition of Killing Children of the People of War.” This fact stresses our point that the Muslims  did not extract the meaning claimed by Robert Spencer. If Robert Spencer and crew did not get all of what we just stated, let us sum it up for the idiots out there: one of the most prominent scholars for all Muslims is clearly stating that killing children is not permitted based upon this verse, as knowledge of the child’s future is not certain save by revelation from God, as was received by Al-Khidr. Even Moses, according to the story, did not know of the plight of the child, so how is it that a layman is to know of such? Furthermore, Imam An-Nawawi known as the second Imam Ash-Shafi’i, is stating that it is totally forbidden to kill children. The fact is Spencer’s null attempt at utilizing this statement for his own fear-mongering and islamophobic agenda only shows anyone with any knowledge of Islamic law how horridly ignorant Robert Spencer is of Islam.

Horridly ignorant is right!

In any case, it seems highly unlikely that the Canadian court will consult a centuries-old manual on Islamic jurisprudence to determine sentencing in the Shafia case.

Loons, who are clearly unhinged from reality, insist liberal “wussies” are caving in to “Islamo-crazies” and will allow Muslims to invoke Sharia to get away with murder in Western courtrooms.  Apparently they see no contradiction between their belief that Islamic Law is soft on crime and simultaneously, exceptionally harsh and barbaric.

Outside of the loons’ fevered imaginations, Sharia is not a factor in the Shafia trial. The accused will be subject to the Law of Canada, and if convicted, all three face life in prison.

Fjordman Back at Gates of Vienna whose Tipsters Include Caroline Glick

by Farha Khaled

Islamophobic blogs like Gates of Vienna, popular with white supremacists have Israeli American fans who have adopted a hard line pro Israel agenda. It also appears that Fjordman is back at Gates of Vienna. He was cited recently as a tipster alongside Caroline Glick, the senior editor at The Jerusalem Post.

A closer scrutiny of Gates of Vienna the white supremacist blog which published ‘Fjordman‘ until he went into hiding after the Norway massacre shows it is run by a couple living in Virginia, USA, one Baron Bodissey whose real name is Edward May popularly known as ‘Ned May‘ and his wife who edits the blog under the pseudonym ‘Dymphna.’ It claims to focus on the ‘Great Jihad’ in Europe, regularly publishing essays promoting white supremacism, calls for a Muslim Holocaust and is filled with vile anti Islam bigotry, lies and polemics dressed up as ‘counter jihadism’.  Anders Brievik has posted comments there. In the past too, discussions of exterminating the ‘Muslim’ problem caused waves as in ‘Thinking the Unthinkable‘ in which options to rid the world of Muslims were discussed.

Gates of Vienna has a pro Israel focus which Ned and Dymphna go to great pains to emphasise. A cynic may suspect there are ulterior motives at play here. The connection between Zionism and organized Islamophobia is clear and comes as no surprise now. Fear Inc. a six month study by the Centre for American Progress, details how an Islamophobia industry is being funded and peddled by a small minority of conservatives. What is popularly known as ‘Islamism’ has its Zionist counterpart, as explored in a recent LoonWatch series ‘Why Religious Zionism, Not Judaism, Is The Problem‘.

Indeed Dymphna regularly does the rounds at right wing Zionist websites posting comments moaning about their poverty. One such blog is the rabidly anti Palestinian and Islam hating blog ‘Sultan Knish‘ run by Daniel Greenfield an Israeli sabra living in New York, who is a fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Centre the same organisation that sponsors Jihad Watch.  Daniel is obsessed with a pathological hatred for Muslims and a delusion that the US military exists to carry out his fantasy of a war on Islam. Daniel’s postings regularly dehumanise Muslims, and are filled with anti Islam screeds which he fabricates on whim, not unlike Ned May.  He also has a Torah Parsha blog and this video shows him in a debate about New Media. In a common theme amongst neo cons, Daniel complains there is a plot to destroy the US military by Obama.  In one blog post ‘Winning the War on Terror‘ he suggests genocide:

‘We would have to be willing to kill millions, directly or indirectly, while maintaining an alliance that would defy Russia, China and the First World nations that would accuse us of genocide. The real name for this war might well turn out to be World War III. It would take a Churchill or a Roosevelt to launch something like that, and while the world would be radically different afterward, it might well turn out to be radioactively different too.’

Whilst Daniel’s crowd propagate that Muslims are out to destroy the USA, the truth is these very neo conservatives bankrupted the US economy by leading it into trillion dollar wars on fake premises and fabricated evidence. As Julian Borger reported in The Guardian, the evidence for the Iraq war was fabricated by the now defunct ‘The Office of Special Plans‘ affiliated with hard line Likudniks.

When the worlds media was questioning the role Robert Spencer and his crowd played in influencing the massacre, Daniel Greenfield, rushed to defend his buddies with  ‘Brievexploitation‘ a pathetic attempt to divert blame. A cursory glance at the comments underneath this post, dated 8/06/2011 shows Dymphna reminding Daniel how her ilk suffer for being philo-semitic:

‘The fledgling right wing of European politics, the only part of it that was NOT anti-Semitic, has been ripped from the body politic in Europe and thrown on the ash heap.’

After reminding him and his readers of the huge sacrifices made, she goes on to subtly beg:

‘Perhaps you could suggest to Mr. Horowitz that as part of discovering ABB’s networks, he could have that analysis done? Certainly if I had the money I’d get it asap.’

Far right Islamophobic activists have forged alliances of convenience with radical Zionists and regard Israel as an ally, not least because they see Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as a role model for how Muslims should be treated.  Hard line Zionists see it as an opportunity to lessen the growing Muslim presence and influence in the USA and Europe which they see as detrimental to a greater Israel. Stooges like Geert Wilders are funded in the hope they can halt Muslim immigration and influence. Marginalised as they are, some European nationalist groups are willing to shed their traditional Jew hatred in an attempt to find allies, but as often happens in marriages of convenience, it doesn’t take much for cracks to appear. Pamela Geller’s association with the EDL caused waves when Roberta Moore claimed they had Jew hating members and were not sufficiently pro Israel. In Europe, German newspaper Der Spiegel probed this alliance in ‘The Likud Connection‘ showing how some marginalized right wing populists are going the Geert Wilders way. This bizarre coupling has split the far right movement in Europe which has traditionally been anti-semitic.

Meanwhile, Ned May, an EDL activist, serves as director of International Free Press Society an American and Denmark based group whose members claim to fight threats to free speech from ‘forces within Islam’. IFPS’s board members include the familiar names Bat Ye’or, Robert Spencer, Andrew Bostom and affiliates like Aish Ha Torah. Incidentally, one of the listed advisers for IFPS is Rachel Ehrenfeld an “expert on terrorism” and author of ‘Funding Evil’ in which she made allegations of terror funding against the now deceased Saudi billionaire Khalid bin Mahfouz for which he sued.

Ned often mixes in a pro Israel and pro Jewish stance liberally peppering his polemics with quotes from the Talmud and expresses a desire (like Dymphna) to be in the pay of Mossad. In this he has help from fellow bloggers like his friend, a Jerusalem based Israeli American lawyer, one Carl Mordechai Sherer, who runs Israel Matzav as ‘Carl in Jerusalem‘. Charles Johnson banned Carl from Little Green Footballs where he was a heavy commenter for posting a link to Gates of Vienna with a curt ‘I will have nothing to do with people who promote fascist creeps‘. Stung by LGF’s criticism, a blog war followed, in which Ned May tries to salvage some dignity for his cesspool.

A particularly revealing blog post is where Carl can be seen giving Ned advice on the legality of declaring Jewish rights to Israel as an indigenous people, stating he fully supported a ‘greater Israel’ though the world won’t allow it. Ned  in turn laments a common nazi theme which he modifies to this convoluted logic:

‘Regardless of the merits of the case, I agree with Carl that the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples will never be applied to Jews — or to white Europeans, for that matter.

“Indigenous Peoples” are “brown” peoples, especially Muslims, American Indians, Australian Aboriginals, and black Africans. Anything using the term that is passed by the UN will only be allowed to apply to those peoples, and never to Jews or Caucasians.’

Ned May must be unaware of the millions of Caucasian Muslims including Russians, American Muslims, British and other European converts. Carl, who did not see fit to tell his friend that most Israeli’s are non Caucasian Sefardi Jews was however, quick to hypocritically cry ‘nazi’ at white supremacist Occupy Wall St protesters.

Incidentally, Carl, who has lauded Fjordman’s postings at Gates of Vienna gushes at Israel Matzav:

‘For those who have never been to Gates of Vienna, go check it out. It’s some of the highest level intellectual material you will ever read on the Internet.’

How high is that ‘intellectual level’ ? Let us quote Ned verbatim where he explains the purpose of Gates of Vienna is to spread lies at a grassroots level, in short; telling a lie often enough makes one believe it. Not just to lie but to oversell it. In a blog titled ‘Overselling the Meme‘ he states:

‘This must be accomplished at a level well below that of the celebrities and famous pundits, because action on that battlefield invites a massive and well-funded counterattack by CAIR, ISNA, the OIC, etc.’

Using hyperbole and flowery nonsense, he spells out his mission in life:

As a propagandist, my task is to spread the meme and not to sweat the nuances. Nuances can be argued about and nailed down by scholars in the centuries after Islam — as a culture, a political ideology, and a religion — is totally destroyed. We don’t have the luxury for such finicky scholasticism right now.’

Perhaps the best known Israeli tipster for Gates of Vienna is The Jerusalem Post’s Caroline Glick an Israeli American known for her right wing views, and who serves as editor for the Israeli political satire website Latma TV. Caroline was cited approvingly in Breivik’s manifesto.  It appears that Fjordman is once more back at Gates of Vienna, for on 13th October 2011, the credits included :

‘Thanks to C. Cantoni, Caroline Glick, Fjordman, heroyalwhyness, JP, and all the other tipsters who sent these in.’

When Israel was forced to offer an apology for Latma TV releasing ‘We Con the World,’ a satire mocking the dead Gaza flotilla activists, the Huffingon Post’s Eileen Read wrote ‘The Jerusalem Post Should Fire Caroline Glick for Making a Racist Video in which she opined:

‘But this is lower than I’ve ever seen someone go who carries a management title at a journalism organization. I’m ashamed to say that Glick and I are both Columbia alums. Even if she hates people of another race or religion and is allowed by her editors to poke fun at them in a tasteless and blatantly racist way, she should be fired for making fun of the dead.’

This incident was not the first time Caroline Glick had received flak for her radical opinions. In the aftermath of the Norway massacre, the Jerusalem Post published editorials that had tried to link the tragedy to Europe’s immigration policies. Norwegians took offence at sentiments expressed by Glick amongst others and voiced their objections to Israeli diplomats as to how the tragedy was being exploited. Some weeks later, the Jerusalem Post’s Editor in Chief published ‘Apology to Norway‘ an editorial in which he expressed remorse:

‘As Senior Contributing Editor Caroline B. Glick suggested in her column last Friday, the fact that Breivik’s warped mind cited a group of conservative thinkers including herself as having influenced his thinking in no way reflects on them.

“As a rule, liberal democracies reject the resort to violence as a means of winning an argument. This is why, for liberal democracies, terrorism in all forms is absolutely unacceptable,” she wrote. “Whether or not one agrees with the ideological self-justifications of a terrorist, as a member of a liberal democratic society, one is expected to abhor his act of terrorism. Because by resorting to violence to achieve his aims, the terrorist is acting in a manner that fundamentally undermines the liberal democratic order.”

It later emerged that Breivik, a Christian radical, had posted on the Internet an extremely anti-Muslim manifesto that supported far-right nationalism and Zionism.’

He then moves on to vocalise the Jerusalem Post’s stance:

‘This is certainly not the kind of support Israel needs. It is the type of Islamophobia that is all too reminiscent of the Nazis’ attitude toward the Jews. Jews, Muslims and Christians in Israel and around the world should be standing together against such hate crimes.’

Caroline has also given explicit permission for Gates of Vienna to publish a Norwegian version of Norway’s Problem which Ned did after writing:

‘Under normal circumstances, Gates of Vienna does not publish in any languages other than English (in its American, British, Canadian, and Australian variants). However, we are making an exception for the following opinion piece by Caroline Glick.’

Setting the tone for this unique honour, Ned continues:

‘The result was the column below. Several Scandinavians requested that we publish a Norwegian translation, and with Ms. Glick’s permission it was kindly translated by Cecilie.’

Indeed! We have here one of Israel’s most ‘most important’ women and the Senior Contributing Editor of the Jerusalem Post giving permission to publish a translated version of her article at a hate site (that credits and links back to her) espousing views deemed repugnant by her editor-in-chief. One can recall the hue and cry when Octavia Nasr tweeted about a Hezbollah sheikh’s death that led to CNN firing her!

Gates of Vienna may be bottom feeders in the world of Islamophobia, but clearly their unsettling involvement with prominent hatemongers is more than just a cause for concern.

Farha Khaled is a columnist for the Arab News.  She can be followed on Twitter http://twitter.com/farhakhaled

Jewish Law*: One Israeli Soldier Worth More Than 1,000 Palestinians

Please make sure to read my disclaimer Why Religious Zionism, Not Judaism, Is The Problem wherein I clarify that “Jewish law” here is not meant to be understood in a blanket way.  Certainly, there exist alternative, more compassionate understandings of Halakha.  I understand that many readers are deeply uncomfortable with characterizing “Jewish law” in such a sweeping manner as we have done in this “thought exercise”–but that’s the point of the article series: if you refuse to generalize Halakha, then why do you do it to Sharia?

Read the Introduction: Does Jewish Law Justify Killing Civilians?

Previous: #4 TERRORISM!

Israel recently agreed to release over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for 1 captive Israeli soldier.  The soldier’s name is Gilad Shalit: he is neither a high-ranking military official or anyone of national importance.  Then, why did Israel agree to ransom him with over a thousand men?  Why is he worth so much?

CNN ran with the headline “Shalit swap based on ‘ultimate value of human life,’ rabbis say”:

“Judaism places ultimate value on human life. Therefore in the Jewish tradition, in Jewish law, redeeming captives trumps just about everything else,” said Ascherman, of Rabbis for Human Rights. “It takes priority over anything else you can possibly do.”

So, it is just that Israelis value life so much?  Are they just that superbly moral?  I have seen such discussion on the internet and in the media, with pro-Israeli apologists comparing this “ultimate value of human life” with the “culture of death” that Palestinians (and Arabs/Muslims) supposedly have.

Yet, the CNN article is misleading, as it implies that Judaism* values human life, when in fact Jewish law* places the ultimate value on Jewish life only.   The mitzvah (religious obligation) to redeem prisoners is limited to fellow Jews. It does not apply to Gentiles. Had the prisoner been Christian or Muslim (ha!), Israel would never have made such a trade.

There is a deeply racial underpinning here: according to Jewish law*, Jews and Jewish life are always considered superior to Gentiles and Gentile life.  Prof. Israel Shahak, an Israeli human rights activist, documented the background for this racist religious dogma in his book Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel. For example, he quotes Rabbi Abraham Kook, largely considered “the ultimate father figure” of Religious Zionism, who stated that “the difference between a Jewish soul and the souls of non-Jews…is greater and deeper than the difference between a human soul and the souls of cattle.”

Admittedly, such beliefs are not unfamiliar to Radical and Ultra-Conservative Muslims, who argue that “the worst Muslim is better than the best non-Muslim.”  Similar statements can be heard from fundamentalist Christians.  Yet, Religious Zionists take this bigoted idea much further, using it to justify the killing of civilians: to save one Jewish life, killing any number of Gentiles is acceptable.  Not only can one exchange 1,000 Gentile prisoners for 1 Jewish prisoner, but one can also kill 1,000 Gentiles to save 1 Jewish prisoner (or as revenge and deterrence in the case of a Jewish soldier who was killed).

Rabbi Michael J. Broyde asks rhetorically on p.4 of War and Peace in the Jewish Tradition (a book written under the auspices of the world’s leading Orthodox Jewish minds):

If the government can rescue a soldier only by killing a dozen innocent infants in the enemy camp, may it do that?

Broyde argues in the affirmative, noting that “enemy civilians” are “less sacred than one’s own soldiers.”  Even if it were otherwise, Broyde argues, Jewish law* allows for a “presumptive hora’at sha’ah (temporary edict/suspension of law) that would permit such[.]”  He goes on to say:

Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, for example, permits the sacrifice of oneself as a form of hora’at sha’ah [temporary edict/suspension of law] that is allowed by Jewish law to save the community.  While the voluntary act of heroic self-sacrifice and the killing of an unwilling victim are not parallel, I think that one who would permit a Jewish soldier to kill himself to save the community, would permit the killing of “less innocent” enemy soldiers or even civilians in such situations as well.  In grave times of national war, every battle and every encounter raises to such a level, I suspect.

In “every battle and every encounter,” it is permitted to kill “even civilians.”

Broyde raises a very odd argument, rhetorically asking:

If a government can choose as a matter of policy to engage in retaliatory military action that risks the lives of its own soldiers and civilians in a time of war, does it not follow that it may do so with enemy soldiers and civilians as well?

Rabbi Norman Lamm asks on p.238:

To use the Talmudic phraseology, is the blood of Israeli soldiers any less red than that of enemy Arab civilians?

The bottom line is that the Jewish military can kill enemy civilians to “save its soldiers.”  Prof. David Shatz writes on p.xix of the introduction to War and Peace in the Jewish Tradition:

It would be morally acceptable, and perhaps even required, to cause civilian deaths in order to save your own combatants.

How many civilian deaths?  Certainly, “killing a dozen innocent infants in the enemy camp” to save 1 Jewish soldier is not unreasonable.  The 1-to-1,000 ratio is also acceptable.  Mordechai Eliyahu, the late Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, bellowed:

Even when we seek revenge, it is important to make one thing clear – the life of one yeshiva boy is worth more than the lives of 1,000 Arabs.

He went on to say:

The Talmud states that if gentiles rob Israel of silver they will pay it back in gold, and all that is taken will be paid back in folds, but in cases like these there is nothing to pay back, since as I said – the life of one yeshiva boy is worth more than the lives of 1,000 Arabs.

The Sephardi Chief Rabbi called for carpet bombing the Palestinians instead of “risk[ing] the lives of Jews.”  The Jerusalem Post reported in an article entitled “Eliyahu advocates carpet bombing Gaza: Says there is no moral prohibition against killing civilians to save Jews“:

The former chief rabbi also said it was forbidden to risk the lives of Jews in Sderot or the lives of IDF soldiers for fear of injuring or killing Palestinian noncombatants living in Gaza.

Similarly did Rabbi Yaakov Perin famously state that “one million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.”

One of Israel’s justifications for the 2006 Lebanon War, which killed over a thousand Lebanese (mostly civilians), was to recover two IDF soldiers.  Does it seem reasonable to kill over a thousand people to recapture two soldiers?

During the conflict in Gaza, Rabbi Yehuda Henkin, former Rabbi of the Beit She’an Valley in Northern Israel, opined that “the Halacha (Jewish law) countenances the killing of non-combatants in times of war,” and that “there is no excuse for endangering our own citizens or soldiers to protect the lives of civilians on the other side.”  This is an argument for Israel relying on carpet bombing against a civilian population instead of sending in ground troops to fight in “hand-to-hand combat.”

Far from being the views of some radical, fringe element in Israel, these are the mainstream beliefs of Religious Zionism.  These attitudes are reflected in Israeli society as a whole, with “more than 70 per cent support for bombing Gaza–but just 20 per cent support for a ground invasion.” It is no surprise then that indiscriminate killing–accepted by international law as “equally” criminal compared to targeting civilians–is thus the norm of Israeli war policy.

Surely, a dozen or a thousand Palestinian infants (who will grow up to be terrorists anyways) are not worth the life of one brave Israeli soldier.

*  *  *  *  *

This racist line of thinking reaches its logical conclusion by encouraging the slaughter of civilians to “protect” Jewish soldiers.  A Jewish soldier’s life is so much more precious than the lives of enemy civilians that this trade-off is acceptable.  On pp.65-67 of Jewish History, Jewish Religion, Prof. Israeli Shahak documents a Q&A between an Israeli soldier and Rabbi Shim’on Weiser (a conversation originally published in the yearbook of one of Israel’s prestigious religious institutions, Midrashiyyat No’am).  In it, the soldier asks the rabbi:

[Am I] permitted to put myself in danger by allowing a woman to stay alive? For there have been cases when women threw hand grenades.

Rabbi Weiser responds by saying:

The rule “Whoever comes to kill you, kill him first” applies to a Jew…[but] it only applies to him if there is [actual] ground to fear that he is coming to kill you.  But a Gentile [non-Jew] during wartime is usually presumed so, except when it is quite clear that he has no evil intent.

In other words, Jews are considered innocent by default, whereas Arabs are guilty until proven innocent.  If there is any doubt as to the innocence of the Arab civilian, such a person should be killed just to be on the safe side.  The Israeli soldier responds by restating the Rabbi’s position:

As for [your] letter [to me], I have understood it as follows:

In wartime I am not merely permitted, but enjoined to kill every Arab man and woman I chance upon, if there is a reason to fear that they help in the war against us, directly or indirectly.

In the current climate, there is such a high level of paranoia in Israeli society that almost every Palestinian is seen as a threat, constituting “a reason to fear.”

*  *  *  *  *

Similar arguments are raised by many of Israel’s ardent defenders to justify killing civilians.  Former IDF soldier and full-time Israeli propagandist Cori Chascione of Jewcy opines:

Individual [Israeli] soldiers are not permitted to risk their own lives in order to avoid collateral damage or to save civilians…a soldier’s life comes before a civilian in enemy territory

Ted Belman of Israpundit.com writes:

As a numbers game, is it moral to cause one of your own to be killed to avoid killing ten of them? What about one hundred of them. In the last few days we killed 100 of them and lost 2 of ours. To my mind that is moral.

How similar is this rhetorical questioning; we saw it in the sober, serious, and scholarly book written by the leading Orthodox Jewish luminaries of the world (see above).

With views such as these emanating from mainstream Orthodox Judaism, it is only natural that others would take this paranoid worldview even further, such as Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira who declared that it would be licit to kill [Palestinian] children if there was a fear that they would “grow up to become enemies of the Jewish people.”

*  *  *  *  *

As I have repeated over and over again, I am not trying to categorize all of Judaism, all interpretations of Jewish law, or all Jews as one way or another.  I am simply establishing that extremist views such as these exist in no short supply.  So why this overwhelming focus on Islam, Islamic law, and Muslims?

The Top Five Ways Jewish Law Justifies Killing Civilians; #4: TERRORISM!

Please make sure to read my disclaimer: Why Religious Zionism, Not Judaism, Is The Problem.

Read the Introduction: Does Jewish Law Justify Killing Civilians?

Previous: #3 Promoting Ethnic Cleansing (II)

Israeli professor and human rights activist Israel Shahak wrote in the preface of his book Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel (co-authored with Norton Mezvinsky):

Virtually identified with Arab terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism is anathema throughout the non-Muslim world.  Virtually identified with ignorance, superstition, intolerance and racism, Christian fundamentalism is anathema to the cultural and intellectual elite in the United States.  The recent significant increase in its number of adherents, combined with its widening political influence, nevertheless, make Christian fundamentalism a real threat to democracy in the United States.  Although possessing all the important social scientific properties of Islamic and Christian fundamentalism, Jewish fundamentalism is practically unknown outside of Israel and certain sections of a few other places.  When its existence is acknowledged, its significance is minimized or limited to arcane religious practices and quaint middle European dress, most often by those same non-Israeli elite commentators who see so uncompromisingly the evils inherent in Jewish fundamentalism’s Islamic and/or Christian cousins.

As students of contemporary society and as Jews, one Israeli, one American, with personal commitments and attachments to the Middle East, we cannot help seeing Jewish fundamentalism in Israel as a major obstacle to peace in the region.  Nor can we help being dismayed by the dismissal of the perniciousness of Jewish fundamentalism to peace and its victims by those who are otherwise knowledgeable and astute and so quick to point out the violence inherent in other fundamentalist approaches to existence.

Pro-Israeli apologists are certainly “quick to point out the violence inherent in” Radical Islam while simultaneously dismissing “the perniciousness of Jewish fundamentalism to peace.”  MEMRI is one such group: this Israeli propaganda machine churns out cherry-picked translations from Arabic texts, in an attempt to magnify the threat of Radical Islam.  Meanwhile, these same sorts of pro-Israeli elements levy the charge of “Self-Hating Jew” and “Anti-Semitism” against all who would point out similar radicalism in the Israeli/Jewish community.  Prof. Shahak was himself the victim of such slurs (and now I have been accused of this as well).

We are constantly barraged by screeds warning us how inherently violent Sharia is–and how Islam supposedly compels its adherents to commit acts of terrorism–yet few would be comfortable with holding Judaism to the same standard we do Islam.  Certainly, Halakha (Jewish law)–as understood by Orthodox Judaism in Israel (the only form of Judaism recognized by the Jewish state)–permits targeting and killing civilians, collective punishment, and ethnic cleansing. It also permits terrorism against civilian populations. Rabbi Michael J. Broyde writes on pp.23-24 of War and Peace in the Jewish Tradition:

Air warfare greatly expands the “kill zone” of combat and (at least in our current state of technology) tends to inevitably result in the death of civilians.  The tactical aims of air warfare appear to be fourfold: [1] to destroy specific enemy military targets, [2] to destroy the economic base of the enemy’s war-making capacity, [3] to randomly terrorize civilian populations, and [4] to retaliate for other atrocities by the enemy to one’s own home base and thus deter such conduct in the future by the enemy.

The first of these goals…is permissible…The same would appear would be true about the second…It would appear that the third goal is not legitimate absent the designation of “Compulsory” or “Obligatory” war. The final goal…could perhaps provide some sort of justification for certain types of conduct in combat that would otherwise be prohibited.

In a future article, I will explain the different types of wars as understood in the Jewish tradition: for now, however, the reader ought to know that on p.14 Broyde quotes Maimonides that “a war to deliver Israel from an enemy who has attacked them” would constitute a Compulsory/Obligatory war.  This is nearly a unanimous opinion.  Prof. Arye Edrei writes in Divine Spirit and Physical Power:

[The Chief Rabbi of Israel, Shlomo] Goren[,] stated frequently in his writings that the contemporary wars of Israel meet the criterion of obligatory wars because their goal is to save Israel from the hands of an oppressor, and he categorized the Peace for Galilee War [1982 Lebanon War] as such a war.

Therefore, it is permitted under Halakha for Israel to “randomly terrorize [Arab] civilian populations.”  Notice also that the fourth “tactical aim,” permitted under Jewish law, also fits under terrorism: “to retaliate for other atrocities by the enemy to one’s own home base and thus deter such conduct in the future by the enemy.”  This is manifested in Israel’s policy of “massive retaliation,” which is a euphemism for state terrorism: the goal is to inflict so many Palestinian civilian casualties that it would serve as a deterrent to future terrorist attacks.

Professor Herbert Leventer of Yeshiva University legitimizes “terror bombing,” writing on p.75 of War and Peace in the Jewish Tradition:

If, in an emergency, you engage in the occasional assassination, terror (rather than mere strategic) bombing, killing of civilian shields–you do no wrong, and have no reason even to feel regret.

Adam Aptowitzer of B’nai Brith opined:

Terror is a tool, terror is a means to an end … When Israel uses terror to … destroy a home and convince people to be terrified of what the possible consequences are, I’d say that’s acceptable use to terrify someone.

The truth is that terror is an option to be used by states in order to prevent deaths of their own citizens and others. Acts that take place in Gaza and [the] West Bank, you might want to classify them as terrorists sponsored by the state. But when that is being done to prevent deaths, are we going to say that is wrong

(Note: To give credit where credit is due, I first came across this quote in Norman Finkelstein’s Beyond Chutzpah.)

Throughout its short history, Israel has terrorized the Palestinian population.  From 1948 when “the Hagana and other Jewish paramilitaries were terrorizing Palestinian civilians” (quote taken from p.56 of Prof. Sean F. McMahon’s The Discourse of Palestinian-Israeli Relations) to the recent 2008-2009 Israeli war on Gaza–described by the United Nations as an operation “designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population”–state terrorism has been used by the Israelis very consistently.  (In the future, I will write a more detailed article documenting the systematic terrorism conducted by the state of Israel.)

Today, nearly half of Israeli Jews (46%) support “price tag” terrorism against Palestinians.  Price tag terrorism refers to “acts carried out against Palestinians in revenge of government actions harming the settler enterprise.” These are characterized as “pogroms meted out by fanatical settlers against defenseless Palestinians,” and involves violence against civilians.  Price tag terror is conducted by “Israeli soldiers and settlers” who”rampag[e] through” Palestinian villages, meting out “retributive violence.”

These terror attacks include blowing up cars, vandalizing homes, beatings, and stabbings.  Just a few hours prior to writing this article, an article was published by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that Palestinian cars were set aflame.  [Editor’s Note: This article was written a few weeks before it was published.  A few days before the article was published, however, a mosque in Northern Israel was burned down by Jewish extremists.] Mosques are a favorite target for “price tag terror,” which have been burned down.  All of this goes on “under the watch of the army and with the encouragement of state-funded religious nationalist rabbis.” Not only do nearly half of Israeli Jews support price tag terrorism but “most traditional, national-religious and ultra-Orthodox Jews believe these actions are justified (55%, 70% and 71%, respectively).”

Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, a terrorist himself, declared that “neither Jewish ethics nor Jewish tradition can disqualify terrorism as a means of combat.” (hat tip: NassirH)

*  *  *  *  *

In addition to specifically allowing “terror bombings” that target civilians, Jewish law permits “indiscriminate violence” against civilians during milhemet mitzvah (Obligatory war), which all of Israel’s current wars are considered.  As Mordechai Eliyahu, the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, stated, “[there is] absolutely no moral prohibition against the indiscriminate killing of civilians.”

According to international law, there is no difference between intentionally targeting civilians and indiscriminately killing them.  Dr. Norman Finkelstein writes in the preface to Beyond Chutzpah:

One often hears that Hamas’s deliberate targeting of civilians cannot be compared to Israel’s “unintended” killing of them.  However human rights organizations report that Israel’s use of live ammunition is “indiscriminate” (HRW) and “on many occasions… deliberately targeted” civilians (Amnesty International), and accordingly conclude that the purported distinction between Hamas and Israeli violence “makes no difference” (B’Tselem). If Hamas were to declare after blowing up a crowded civilian bus that it had only meant to kill a military officer in the vehicle and not the other passengers, it would rightly be ridiculed. Yet how different is it when Israel drops a one-ton bomb on a densely populated Gaza neighborhood in order to liquidate a Hamas military commander and then declares that the fourteen civilian deaths were unintentional? In his authoritative study on the laws of war, Israeli legal scholar Yoram Dinstein observes:

…From the standpoint of LOIAC [Law of International Armed Conflict], there is no genuine difference between a premeditated attack against civilians (or civilian objects) and a reckless disregard of the principle of distinction: they are equally forbidden.

Even if, for argument’s sake, we assume that Israel’s attacks on civilians are unintentional and accordingly that the worst it can be accused of is “reckless disregard of the principle of distinction,” it is still the rankest hypocrisy to require of Hamas that it cease violent attacks yet not put a comparable requirement on Israel to cease what is “equally forbidden.”

I would argue, however, that a case could be made that Israel’s indiscriminate use of violence against civilian populations is actually worse, because far more civilians die in such attacks than from Hamas’s terrorist bombings.  To put it simply: a terrorist attack against a civilian bus limits the death and destruction to one bus, whereas “drop[ping] a one ton bomb on a densely populated neighborhood” results in the death and destruction of many buses in that neighborhood.

Yet, Israel’s defenders seek to justify and normalize indiscriminate violence against civilian populations.  Ted Belman, editor of Israpundit.com, argues:

Israel is free to employ ALL munitions, tactics, equipment and personnel in her arsenal to defend herself against the outlaw Hamas terrorist organization. Short of the intentional targeting and murder of truly uninvolved and innocent civilians, Israel can (and should) operate as freely as she desires to protect her territorial sovereignty and the lives of her citizens.

What could be clearer.

What could be clearer, indeed.  Belman argues that there is a “non-existent duty to avoid killing enemy civilians.”  So long as Israel does not “intentionally kill civilians,” it can use indiscriminate violence to kill as many civilians as it needs, “even in disproportionate numbers” on the order of “100 of them…[to] 2 of ours.”  Belman says: “To my mind that is moral.”  This is Israeli and Zionist morality.

The actual ratio is very similar: during the Gaza conflict, conservative estimates from the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem have it that 1,387 Palestinians were killed (of which at least 773 did not take part in the hostilities at all), whereas only 9 Israelis were killed (of which only 3 were civilians).  This is a ratio of more than 250 to 1.  Three civilians were killed by deadly Qassam and Grad rockets, and in response 773 civilians–who took no part in hostilities at all–were slaughtered.  This, according to the mind of Ted Belman, is “moral.”

To conclude, Jewish law permits–and Israel routinely commits–acts of violence specifically targeting civilians, which is in addition to the licence granted to wreak indiscriminate violence against civilian populations. Why is it then that all we ever talk about all day long is how Islamic law is this and that?  Why do we constantly hear serious pundits pontificating about “what’s wrong with Islam” and how Islam needs to go through a reformation, and yet we never hear a peep out of anyone about Jewish law?  Why the skewed discourse?  What gives?

The Top Five Ways Jewish Law Justifies Killing Civilians; #3: Promoting Ethnic Cleansing (II)

(image by Carlos Latuff)

Please make sure to read my disclaimer: Why Religious Zionism, Not Judaism, Is The Problem.

Read the Introduction: Does Jewish Law Justify Killing Civilians?

Previous: #3 Promoting Ethnic Cleansing (I)

On the previous page, we saw how Halakha obligates Jewish armies to “leave one side open” when they attack a Gentile city; this is to allow civilians the opportunity to flee the city.  The corollary to this is that any civilians who don’t flee are automatically considered “combatants” and “human shields” who can be licitly targeted and killed.  Not only has this concept been used by Israel to promote the ethnic cleansing of Palestine but it is also used to absolve Israel of any blame for indiscriminate violence against civilian populations.

For example, during the Gaza War in 2008-2009, Israel supposedly dropped “hundreds of thousands of leaflets” and used “telephone calls” to warn residents of Gaza to evacuate the area before Israel dropped bombs on their heads (quotes from Alan Dershowitz).  Here Dershowitz is mimicking the line by the Israeli state itself; the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs claimed ”the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) makes strenuous efforts to give advance notice to the civilian population” of impending Israeli attacks “so that they have an opportunity to leave the area.”

Dershowitz calls these “unprecedented efforts to avoid civilian casualties,” with Israeli-friendly Richard Kemp arguing that “during Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.”  Prof. Asa Kasher, author of the IDF Code of Conduct, argues that the Israel Defense Forces are “the most moral army in the world” (The Most Moral Army in the World™) because “[w]ho tries harder than we do to warn the neighbors [to leave a conflict zone]?”  Kasher then engages in typical Israeli self-congratulatory praise.  Israel’s America’s pro-Israeli lobby AIPAC shielded Israel from all criticism by noting that “Israel dropped hundreds of thousands of leaflets and made 250,000 phone calls to targeted areas to warn citizens they were in danger.”

But only if Israel dropped not “hundreds of thousands” of leaflets but two hundred million leaflets!  If only 500,000 phone calls were made instead of “250,000!”  Then only a crass Anti-Semite could take umbrage at the IDF’s sojourn in Gaza that killed scores of civilians.  After all, doesn’t dropping a certain number of leaflets and making so many phone calls absolve oneself from all responsibility?

What utter nonsense.  Under international law–and using one’s own common sense–it is not permissible to carpet bomb an area with impunity just because warning leaflets were dropped beforehand–no matter if four billion leaflets and ten trillion phone calls are made in advance.  These “advanced warnings” are clearly meant to absolve Israel of all guilt for killing civilians, and have nothing to do with actually saving civilian lives.

What’s more is that the leaflets or phone calls do not give any information as to where the civilians are supposed to flee from or to.  In fact, the leaflets and phone calls can be seen as nothing more than threats designed to instill terror in the civilian population.  They are part of Israel’s psychological operations, not an ethical consideration.  Electronic Intifada reproduced one such leaflet:

To the residents of the northern Gaza Strip:

The terrorist actions originating from your areas are forcing the Israel Defense Forces to respond harshly to those who are subjecting the citizens of the State of Israel to danger.

We call on the Palestinian Authority to shoulder its responsibility to prevent these criminal acts.

We warn you of the danger of remaining in the areas which are being used to launch terrorist actions and we advise you to leave your homes.

We are not responsible for the consequences if you ignore our warning.

Israel Defense Forces

I could not “independently corroborate” this report, but The Guardian documents something very similar, reporting that Gazans would be called by Israelis, saying: “You and your family are requested to leave home because the IDF intends to attack it.”  The article says further that “the pre-recorded message department of the Israeli military has been gearing up again, threatening people apparently selected at random…”  What can this be other than terror by telephone?

The Guardian reported further:

The Israeli air force today dropped leaflets on the Gaza Strip warning residents that it plans to escalate its military offensive, now in its second week.

The army said it had dropped the flyers throughout Gaza and that the notices are meant as a “general warning”.

These “general warnings” do nothing but instill panic and terror in the Palestinian population.  They don’t know when or where the attacks are coming, and where they are supposed to flee to.  Considering that all the infrastructure, including highways and major roads, were destroyed, one wonders where and how the Gazans can flee?  Certainly, they cannot flee Gaza entirely, which is blocked off on all four sides; interestingly, the “fourth side” is not left open.

In addition to aiding Israel’s psychological operations against the Palestinians, these terror leaflets and phone calls absolve Israel of all blame when it then unleashes its fury against civilian populations. They were warned, and therefore they had it coming.  Israel then carpet bombs the area with impunity, its conscious clear from all guilt.  Then, Israelis pat themselves on the back, fascinated by their superior sense of morality and how they continue to have the The Most Moral Army in the World™.

Human Rights Watch had this to say about Israel’s terror leaflets and phone calls [Note: I broke this into paragraphs to make it more readable]:

In public statements, Israeli officials have countered allegations of unlawful civilian deaths by claiming that the IDF had warned Gaza’s civilian population in advance by dropping leaflets, making telephone calls, and breaking into local radio and television broadcasts. International humanitarian law encourages armed forces to provide advance warnings of an attack when circumstances permit, but the warnings must be “effective.”

In Gaza, the IDF’s warnings were too vague, often addressed generally to the “inhabitants of the area.” Leaflets were dropped from high altitudes and scattered over wide areas; many Gaza residents told Human Rights Watch that they disregarded the leaflets because they were so common and widely dispersed.

In addition, the warnings often did not instruct civilians on what steps to take or where to find safety after fleeing their homes. With the beginning of the ground offensive on January 3, the IDF warned residents to “move to city centers,” but then some city centers, such as in Gaza City, Beit Layiha, and Jabalya, came under attack, as two of the incidents documented in this report show.  Ultimately, Gaza residents had no safe place to flee, given the closure of Gaza’s borders, enforced mostly by Israel but also by Egypt in the south.

Finally, even after warnings have been issued, international humanitarian law requires attacking forces to take all feasible precautions to avoid loss of civilian life and property. Just because an attacking force has issued an effective warning does not mean it can disregard its obligations to civilians; attacking forces may not assume that all persons remaining in an area after a warning has been issued are legitimate targets for attack.

Clearly, Jewish law (as understood by Religious Zionists) and Israeli conduct seems to think otherwise: if you warn them, you can kill them. And then, even as you wipe your blade clean of the blood just spilt, you can revel at your own greatness, your high level of morality.

How different are these leaflets and phone calls from the warnings issued by Zionist forces during the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948?  Israeli historian Benny Morris writes on p.191 of The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem:

Throughout, the Haganah made effective use of Arabic language broadcasts and loudspeaker vans.  Haganah Radio announced that ‘the day of judgment had arrived’ and called on the inhabitants to ‘kick out the foreign criminals’ and to ‘move away from every house and street, from every neighbourhood, occupied by the foreign ciminals’.  The Haganah broadcasts called on the populace to ‘evacuate the women, the children and the old immediately, and send them to a safe heaven’.  The vans announced that the Haganah had gained control of all the approaches to the city…

Morris calls these “psychological warfare broadcasts” designed to “stun” and cause “demoralization” of the enemy population.  The tactic worked, with terror-stricken Palestinians fleeing from their homes and villages en masse.

There is thus a continuity in Israel’s terror tactics, hardly something for pro-Israeli apologists to boast about.  The thing that makes Israelis somewhat unique is that they don’t stick to justifying their tactics, but go so far as to make outlandish claims such as being The Most Moral Army in the World™.  This is a sort of jingle that Israel’s propagandists hope will stick in our heads if they just keep repeating it often enough.  A lie repeated often enough becomes the truth.

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Zionists seem to think that they can bomb a city with impunity once they’ve warned its inhabitants beforehand.  Certainly, this is the dominant theme in Religious Zionist circles.  In an entitled Purity of Arms, the Jerusalem Post documents the views of the “the vast majority of Religious Zionist rabbis” who think that “the IDF bears no moral responsibility” for civilian deaths in Gaza:

Most of the rabbis cited Maimonides (1135-1204), one of the most important halachic authorities in Jewish history, as proof that collateral damage, including civilian deaths, is permitted. Maimonides pointed out the obligation of a Jewish army to leave an enemy force an open route to retreat, even in an obligatory war like the one waged in the North. “Whoever wishes to escape must be allowed to escape… whoever wishes to make peace can make peace… whoever wishes to fight… is attacked until conquest is achieved,” writes Maimonides in his Laws of Kings.  Maimonides’ ruling fits the IDF’s policy of forewarning civilian populations of air attacks, thus giving them the chance to escape. However, once noncombatants have been warned, the IDF bears no moral responsibility for their lives if they are unintentionally killed along with terrorists, arms and ammunition stockpiles, according to Rabbi Nachum Rabinovitz, head of the Birkat Moshe Hesder Yeshiva and an expert on Maimonides. This is true, says Rabinovitz, even when the civilians are held against their will by Hizbullah, as was the case in many incidents, especially in predominantly Christian Lebanese neighborhoods. “It is Hizbullah’s fault if these people are killed, not ours,” says Rabinovitz, echoing the vast majority of Religious Zionist rabbis.

Previously, we saw how such views were espoused in War and Peace in the Jewish Tradition, written by the leading Orthodox Jewish minds around the world.  Here, we see that this views are “echo[ed] by the vast majority of Religious Zionist rabbis” in Israel.

* * * * *

As I stated previously:

To be fair, Israeli apologists from “liberal, secular” Judaism voice similar ideas.  Case in point: Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who is one of Israel’s greatest defenders from the “liberal, secular” spectrum of the Jewish faith.  Dershowitz is credited as being “Israel’s single most visible defender” and “the Jewish state’s lead attorney in the court of public opinion.”

Prof. Alan Dershwoitz justifies ethnic cleansing in his book Chutzpah.  Norman Finkelstein writes on p.47 of Beyond Chutzpah:

Dershowitz explicitly lends support to….collective punishment such as the “automatic destruction” of a Palestinian village after each terrorist attack (“home destruction is entirely moral…among the most moral and calibrated responses”); torture such as a “needle being shoved under the fingernails” (“I want maximal pain…the most excruciating, intense, immediate pain”); and ethnic cleansing (“Political solutions often require the movement of people, and such movement is not always voluntary…[I]t is a fifth-rate issue analogous in many respects to some massive urban renewal”).

Did Finkelstein take the statement out of context, as Dershowitz later claimed?  In fact, when we look at the entire passage, it is more damning against Dershowitz.  The self-professed “civil libertarian and human rights activist” Alan Dershowitz writes on p.215 of Chutzpah:

Political solutions often require the movement of people, and such movement is not always voluntary.  Making Arab families move–intact–from one Arab village or town to another may constitute a human rights violation.  But in the whole spectrum of human rights issues–especially taking into account the events in Europe during the 1940s–it is a fifth-rate issue analogous in many respects to some massive urban renewal or other projects that require large-scale movement of people.

As can be seen, Finkelstein faithfully reproduced Dershowitz’s words.  Dershowitz responded by whining:

Another made-up quotation by Finkelstein is his claim that in my book Chutzpah I analogized “ethnic cleansings” to “urban renewal.”  I say nothing of the kind in Chutzpah.  I never even mention “ethnic cleansing.”

Dershowitz’s only response amounts to: But, I didn’t use the word ”ethnic cleansing!” It would be like someone endorsing Nazi concentration camps and gas chambers, only to protest when someone else “accused” him of supporting the Holocaust.  But I never used the word ”Holocaust.”

Is the esteemed Harvard law professor ignorant of the meaning of the word “ethnic cleansing?”  The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, a body established by the United Nations, states: “ethnic cleansing alone—that is, the forcible expulsion of the members of a protected group…”

Therefore, when Alan Dershowitz says that it wouldn’t be a big deal to “make Arab families move–intact–from one village or town to another” (which he clarifies would “not always [be] voluntary”), this is the justification of ethnic cleansing.  Dershowitz focusing on the words “ethnic cleansing” instead of the concept shows how hollow his response against Finkelstein is.

That Dershowitz is referring to nothing short of ethnic cleansing can be ascertained without a shadow of doubt from his next few paragraphs, in which he not only references other acts of ethnic cleansing, but tries to justify them (in order that he can then justify the ethnic cleansing ”forced transfer” of Palestinians); writes Dershowitz on p.216:

For example, following the end of World War II, approximately fifteen million ethnic Germans were forcibly expelled from their homes in Poland, Czechoslavakia, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, and other Central and Eastern European areas where their families had lived for centuries.  Two million died during this forced expulsion. Czechoslovakia alone expelled nearly three million Sudeten Germans, turning them into displaced persons. The United States, Great Britain, and the international  community in general approved these expulsions, as necessary to secure a more lasting peace. The presence of “disloyal minorities,” or so-called fifth columns, had helped to destabilize Europe on the eve of World War II. It would be a source of increased stability if “population transfers” could produce a new Europe where Germans lived only in the two Germanies and other nations had populations that reflected their own ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. President Franklin Roosevelt’s assistant Harry Hopkins memorialized his boss’s view that although transfer of ethnic Germans “is a hard procedure,” it is the only way to maintain peace.”

The words in bold are the quintessential reasoning behind ethnic cleansing: using “population transfers” to purify the land of ethnic minorities would increase Europe’s stability and get rid of “fifth columns.”  Dershowitz goes on, justifying the “forced transfer” of “fifteen million ethnic Germans” (one wonders how the pro-Israel community would react if a German justified the ethnic cleansing of “fifteen million ethnic Jews”–do you think that such a person would still be the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard University?).  Writes Dershowitz:

The ethnic German populations of these European countries had included individual traitors, saboteurs, and fifth columnists.  But they had also included significant numbers of simple farmers, factory workers, and apolitical people who just happened to speak German and live in German enclaves. But since ”their people” had started the war and then lost, it was deemed appropriate for entire ethnic German communities to bear the burden of relocation in order to reduce the likelihood of future wars. On the scale of human rights violations, forced transfer of minority ethnic populations in order to enhance the stability of the region did not weigh heavily in the postwar era.

After justifying the forced expulsion of fifteen million ethnic Germans because “their people” had started the war, Dershowitz writes:

Similarly, many Arab residents of the new Jewish nation of Israel were encouraged to emigrate to Islamic countries by a combination of factors, including fear, a desire to live under Islamic rule, and political considerations.*

The exchange of populations in the Middle East served some of the same goals as the far more extensive, lethal, and systematic one that was taking place in Europe. It would remove potential fifth columns, stabilize the region, and enhance the prospects for peace.

* In assessing the morality of these transfers, it must be recalled that many Palestinian leaders supported Hitler during World War II. They also actively and successfully opposed opening the doors of Palestine to Jewish immigration during the Holocaust.  They were not–as is sometimes claimed–entirely innocent bystanders to the Holocaust. They bear some moral responsibility.

There are too many lies above to refute, but for now, let us lay to rest the issue of whether or not Alan Dershowitz is justifying the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.  But I didn’t use the word ”ethnic cleansing!”

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The support for ethnic cleansing runs very high among Zionist Jews, especially among Religious Zionists but also voiced by “liberal, secular” elements of the Zionist community (such as Alan Dershowitz).  Indeed, according to a survey conducted by Haifa University’s Center for the Study of National Security a majority of Israeli Jews support a policy of ethnic cleansing against Palestinians, with a quarter saying they would consider voting for the Kahanist party Kach, known for its vocal support of ethnic cleansing as a resolution to the conflict.

As we have seen, Jewish law and war ethics permit shedding the blood of civilians who directly and indirectly “support and encourage” the war effort (even if just by “mere words”), as well as those civilians–women, children, and babies included–who passively support hostilities.  ”Passive” support refers to the mere act of living in the same city as a terrorist or militant.  ”Even babes in their mothers’ arms are to be killed” (these are the words of Rabbi Michael J. Broyde who was quoting, and agreeing with, Rabbi Ya’akov Ariel on p.24 of War and Peace in the Jewish Tradition).  This is the Zionist Jewish justification for collective punishment.

Collective punishment is taken to its logical conclusion, with the endorsement of ethnic cleansing.  Besieged civilians who “refuse” to leave the city (such as the stubborn “babes in their mothers’ arms”) are licit to kill.  It seems then that, under Jewish law, the only type of civilian that is protected from harm or death–and this too is something debatable–is the one who flees his homeland.  Everyone else can be slaughtered.  In other words, Halakha offers the enemy civilian population two options: flee or die.  The choice is between ethnic cleansing and massacre.  Pick your poison.

Note: The next part of this series will be published shortly.