Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Jihad Chic: Imam Rauf's "Gift of Reconciliation"

by Phyllis Chesler

The propaganda campaign in favor of Islam is intense, subtle, clever, elegant, vulgar, massively well-funded, and incredibly well coordinated, synchronous, just like suicide bombings often are.

This “war by other means” is even more important, partly because it continues to “gentle” the West into submission by misinforming the public and partly because this kind of stealth warfare remains curiously and stubbornly below the radar of our intelligentsia and our media.

Let me say, as I always do, that most Muslims are not terrorists and are, themselves, in the clutches of very corrupt and evil leaders who are either old-fashioned tyrants or comprise a new form of totalitarian jihad. Some of the bravest Muslims in the world have been murdered by Muslim tyrants and terrorists, are sitting in Muslim jails, or are living in exile. However, the majority of Muslims have either been brainwashed or simply do not wish to risk their lives or those of their families by taking a stand against Islamic imperialism, colonialism, and intolerance.

They are like the Germans, Austrians, Poles, who did not wish to die in an attempt to assassinate Hitler or his henchmen; or, like many Europeans, who profited, personally, financially, from the Nazi extermination programs aimed at the mentally ill and retarded, the gypsies, the homosexuals, the “politicals,” and above all, the Jews.

Acts of omission are as important as acts of commission. People collaborate with evil by refusing to resist it.

Here is an example of the kind of pro-Islamic propaganda I am talking about—and I saw it only by accident.

I rarely read a fashion magazine. This time, I did. In an idle and desperate moment, I picked up a glossy, glitzy magazine dedicated to expensive clothing, jewelry, and perfume, filled with ads of half-naked and incredibly slender young white girls and female celebrities and a few short pieces about Great Men of an uncertain age. Mick Jagger, 67, is on the cover. Julian Assange, of Wikileaks fame, is profiled in a piece titled “The Gift of Information.”

Yes, I am talking about the current New York Times Style Magazine.

And then, to my astonishment and annoyance (I was off duty, trying to find a moment of escape), I saw another profile titled “The Gift of Reconciliation.” It is about Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the man behind Mosque 51, the Ground Zero Mosque, or as Rauf would have it, the Cordoba Initiative. The piece is written by James Carroll and the Imam is photographed by Todd Eberle.

It is a dreamy, romantic photo of a smiling, white-haired Rauf at an unidentified friend’s house, one which was taken in October, 2010. The “pull quote” is as follows:

We wanted to change the thinking that made 9/11 possible; we wanted a harmonious, tolerant world. And then Feisal Abdul Rauf wanted a pulpit mere blocks from Ground Zero. James Carroll on the Imam and his interfaith dream.

The pull quote is all in large, capitalized block letters. The piece quotes Rauf as saying that, at even at a young age, when he first came to America from Kuwait, he “had an intuition that my work would involve introducing Islam to America.”

He says nothing about introducing American values or ideals to Muslims or to Islam.

Rauf arrived here in 1965, when he was 17 years old. He is quoted as having been awed by the “majesty” and “beauty” of the image of the Statue of Liberty.”

Ah, another young immigrant coming to America—just as countless generations of immigrants have done before him. Well—perhaps not. If you know anything about historical Islam you will know that Muslim immigrants mainly colonize, conquer, convert, and/or take over all the countries where they live and that historically, they have been intolerant towards any and all other religions, as well as towards free thought.

If one does not know this—if one has been otherwise informed, then one will not understand all the ramifications of Rauf’s next statement, namely that “America made it possible for me to freely and deliberately choose to be religious and a Muslim.”

His point is well taken: One cannot make such a “free” choice in the Muslim world where a Muslim is still persecuted and honor murdered for leaving Islam or for converting to Christianity or to atheism. But, the reporter does not ask Rauf what kind of Islam he is bringing to America—is it one that maintains historical Islam’s traditional intolerance? Could Rauf “reform” Islam in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, or Afghanistan? Does Rauf believe that doing so might be an even more important project—especially since the master propagandists hail from such countries ?

Why is reporter James Carroll as dreamy about his subject as is photographer Todd Eberle?

And who is James Carroll?

Why none other than the author and ex-Catholic priest whose well-known record of misrepresenting both Israel and Arabs is well-known. Carroll attacked Israel’s “security fence,” and when challenged, then only partially corrected his mistakes; he viewed Israel’s right to defend its citizens as morally equivalent with Hamas’ right to attack those very citizens. Earlier this year, he misrepresented and sympathetically exaggerated the eviction of Arab squatters in Jerusalem who refused to pay rent for homes on Jewish-owned land.

Yes, of course: The NY Times would choose someone with this kind of track record to interview Rauf.

While I am cautiously in favor of “interfaith” dialogue (it all depends on with whom, exactly, one is dialoguing) as an American, how can I possibly believe anything that Imam Rauf and the New York Times say on this point? Read Mohammed Zuhdi Jasser’s brave and brilliant piece about the Cordoba Initiative/Park 51/The Ground Zero Mosque/the interfaith cultural center (the name is an ever-changing one).

James Carroll tells us that, as a long-time participant in interfaith dialogue, that Imam Rauf cofounded the “multi-faith Cordoba Initiative, named for—and taking its mission from—the Iberian (Spanish) city that was a medieval center of Jewish-Christian-Muslim reconciliation.” Rauf is directly quoted as saying, “There is a perception that Jews and Muslims and Christians must be each other’s existential enemies…to defeat that is an act of reconciliation.”

Sounds good—but what if it is a bald-faced lie, what if such peaceful co-existence never existed? The Cordoba Mosque was once the Cordoba Church. Historically, Muslims have either destroyed, desecrated, or built over churches, temples and synagogues.

Utterly disingenuously, Rauf and Carroll take us back to Rauf’s arrival in America. It was Christmas time. When asked what he most remembers, Rauf does not use the word “Christmas” or “Hannukah” but rather describes “the seasonal displays … a season for wishing people peace, but also of gift giving for the needy. Peace and good will to all. It struck me as familiar.”

Is this something Rauf became acquainted with in Kuwait? Or in neighboring Saudi Arabia? It is definitely not something the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) knows anything about; this Hamas-supporting organization has just gotten a course on Islam canceled in Oregon because the teacher, Barry Sommer, does not share their politically correct view of Islam.

The New York Times should profile Mohammed Zuhdi Jasser, who is also a religious Muslim, as often as they profile Rauf and his wife and partner Daisy Khan. In the last year, the Gray Lady has featured one or both of them in positive puff pieces 15 times.

Here’s what worries me. Someone is paying for all this positive publicity. Who might that be? And, whoever it is, is targeting not only western students, professors, media, government, and international organizations—they are now funding soft-core pieces for the fashion-conscious.

What kind of money can do this 24/7 around the globe? Can any lesser financial effort on behalf of the truth even begin to hold its own?

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Phyllis Chesler

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