Saturday, December 28, 2013

Mordechai Kedar: Sisi - 1, Obama - 0

 by Mordechai Kedar

Read the article in the original עברית
Read the article in Italiano (translated by Yehudit Weisz, edited by Angelo Pezzana)

Read the article en Español (translated by Shula Hamilton)

Giving in does not lead to agreement, but rather to determination. Israel must do what Israeli interests - not American interests - dictate

Everyone is aware of the American plan to impose the Muslim Brotherhood on Egypt and any other country that would allow it. The reasons for this American plan were revealed on this stage a half year ago. 

Meanwhile, Sisi's regime in Egypt is becoming more entrenched, and the Muslim Brotherhood  - the Americans' favorites - has been declared illegal, they and their many organizations, having been declared to be a "terror organization". They are forbidden to hold demonstrations and gatherings, they are forbidden to distribute fliers, and the police even become involved in the universities in order to suppress the Brotherhood's activity.

One may disagree with Sisi's pronouncement of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terror organization, but one cannot take issue with the fact that the Egyptian regime is determined in its opinion to sweep the organization out of the political field, despite tens of millions of Egyptians who identify with them and with their goals. One may take issue with the behavior of the Egyptian regime and call it "undemocratic", but one would also have to admit that it is supported by many millions of Egyptians.

One may also condemn the violence that the Egyptian regime uses against those who oppose its actions, but you must also admit that in the Middle East there are much more violent regimes, for instance Syria and (democratic!!) Iraq.

Sisi also knows the American position full well, and especially President Obama's negative opinion of the actions against the Brotherhood, but Obama doesn't upset him, and not John Kerry either. He doesn't change his goal or retreat from the actions that he has taken against the Brotherhood. My heart tells me that Sisi already is not returning Kerry's or Obama's telephone calls when they phone to convince him to ease the pressure on the Brotherhood in the same way that he didn't capitulate to their pleas to restore Mursi to the presidency since he deposed him in early July this year. Moreover, Sisi is not deterred from putting Mursi in the defendant's cage and accusing him of murder, which could bring upon Mursi a death sentence.

If the court imposes harsh sentences on Mursi and the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood - and perhaps even the death sentence - the American government will issue a condemnation and try to bring about a lighter sentence, but I am not at all sure that Sisi will answer to the American demands, even if they are accompanied by punitive actions such as reduction - or even elimination - of military and civil support.

The Americans will have to decide what they will do about the Egyptian determination: will they totally cut off the connection with Egypt and allow this country to switch over to the Russian camp, or perhaps they will swallow the frog and continue to support Egypt, mainly in the civil arena, in order not to push Egypt into returning to Moscow. In my opinion Obama and Kerry have capitulated and will continue to capitulate to Sisi's determination and they will accept - under protest - his policy.

The events in Egypt prove that Obama and his team of aides are helpless against the determination of Middle Eastern countries. That's how it is with Iran, with Iraq, and with Syria. They can not enter into a confrontation with governments that are determined and firm in their positions, and ultimately Obama accepts the decisions of Middle East countries' regimes, even if he does not agree with them.

What Netanyahu can and must conclude is that it is not at all necessary to come to an agreement with the Palestinians. Kerry can come on missions from Obama again and again, can raise a thousand and one ideas, but he cannot take away the Jewish People's right to the Land of Israel that was granted to it thousands of years ago and again in 1920 in the San Remo Conference. Obama and Kerry cannot assure Israel that a Palestinian state with territorial contiguity would not at some point become another Hamas state, in addition to "Hamastan", which arose six and a half years ago, and therefore Israel must relate to their demands exactly as Sisi relates to them.

Giving in does not lead to agreement, but rather to determination. Israel must do what Israeli interests - not American interests - dictate, and in this phase of history Israel's immediate interest is to bring the Palestinian Authority to an end, and to continue what Hamas began: to establish the Palestinian Emirates on the ruins of the Palestinian Authority, based on the Arab cities in Judea and Samaria. Israel must maintain forever the rural expanse and offer Israeli citizenship to its residents.

A Palestinian state with territorial-terrorist contiguity would be an existential threat to Israel, and therefore Israel should assert its right - it can and must say to Obama and Kerry: No!!! If Netanyahu would be as determined as Sisi - he would succeed against Obama and Kerry, exactly as Sisi does.


Dr. Kedar is available for lectures

Dr. Mordechai Kedar
( is an Israeli scholar of Arabic and Islam, a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. He specializes in Islamic ideology and movements, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena.

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav with permission from the author.

Additional articles by Dr. Kedar

Source: The article is published in the framework of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. Also published in Makor Rishon, a Hebrew weekly newspaper.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the author.

What the Palestinians and Arabs Think of Kerry's New Ideas

by Khaled Abu Toameh

It is hard to see how Abbas would be able to retract his position now that the Arab League has also rejected Kerry's ideas. Kerry will now have to launch a new diplomatic campaign to convince the Arab League to change its position. And for the Arab countries to do that really would take a miracle.

The Palestinian Authority does not like U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's latest ideas for peace between the Palestinians and Israelis.

The Palestinians especially do not like Kerry's proposal that Israel maintain a military presence in the Jordan Valley if and when a Palestinian state is established next to Israel.

Kerry, however, does not seem to be impressed with the Palestinians' rejection of his ideas. He appears convinced that immense pressure on the Palestinians will eventually force them to succumb.

Palestinian Authority officials complained this week that Kerry is obviously not taking them seriously. "Although the Palestinian Authority leadership has turned down his ideas, Kerry continues to exert heavy pressure on us because he thinks he can impose his will on us," remarked a senior Palestinian official in Ramallah. "Of course, Kerry is living in an illusion if he thinks we would change our position."

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who briefed Arab foreign ministers in Cairo on December 21, repeated his opposition to Kerry's ideas. Before that, Abbas sent a letter to President Barack Obama expressing reservations about Kerry's proposals.

Abbas has even won the backing of the Arab League for his stance. So it is not only the Palestinians who are now saying no to Kerry, but the Arab countries too. "The U.S. proposals achieved Israeli expansionist demands, and guaranteed [Israel's] continued control of [the Jordan Valley] on the security pretext," said a statement released by the Arab League.

Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Araby said that not one Israeli soldier could stay in the West Bank.

The Arab League's position is a severe blow to Kerry's ongoing efforts to persuade the Palestinian Authority to accept his ideas. Having won the backing of the Arab countries, Abbas now feels more confident to say no to Kerry and his proposals.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sits with PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman, Jordan, on June 28, 2013. (Image source: U.S. State Department)

When Kerry next returns to the region, Abbas will once again tell him that he doesn't accept his ideas, particularly in the wake of the Arab League's having also rejected them.
Abbas, however, seems to have a problem not only with the idea of maintaining an Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley.

A Palestinian official, who also said that Abbas had won backing from the Arab countries for his stance, revealed that Abbas continues to stick to his positions on a variety of issues pertaining to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- positions that openly contadict most of the Israeli and American demands.

The official summed up Abbas's position as follows:
  • No to a demilitarized Palestinian state;
  • No to recognizing Israel as a Jewish state;
  • No to a solution that does not include all of east Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state;
  • No to another interim agreement with Israel and, of course,
  • No to the presence of any Israeli soldiers in the Jordan Valley.
The only two things that Abbas and the Arab League are prepared to accept is a timetable for an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines that does not exceed three years, and an exchange of land "equal in size and value" with Israel in cases where Israel retains any land beyond the pre-1967 lines.

Until recently, the Palestinian rejection of Kerry's ideas was expressed in a rather polite manner.

In the past few days, however, senior Palestinian Authority officials have begun launching a scathing attack on Kerry, with some accusing him of "endorsing" Israel's position on most issues related to the conflict with Israel.

PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo said that Kerry's proposals on security will lead to the "total failure" of the peace talks with Israel. Kerry's ideas, he added, have provoked a "real crisis." Abed Rabbo said that Kerry "only wants to win over the Israelis and [allow] settlement expansion at our expense."

In an interview with Voice of Palestine radio, Abed Rabbo continued his unprecedented criticism of both Kerry and his proposals. "Washington does not have the right to determine where our borders would be," he declared. "We won't allow Israel to slice off any parts of our land. If the Americans want, they can give Israel parts of California and Washington. This land belongs to the Palestinians."

The Arab League's rejection of Kerry's ideas not only complicates his efforts to achieve a deal between Palestinians and Israelis, but also ties Abbas's hands. It is hard to see how Abbas would be able to retract his position now that the Arab League has also rejected Kerry's ideas.

Kerry will now have to launch a new diplomatic campaign to convince the Arab League to change its position. And for the Arab countries to do that really would take a miracle.

Khaled Abu Toameh


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On the Brink of Explosion?

by Lilach Shoval

Is Israel facing a new wave of Palestinian terror? • The ongoing peace talks are being accompanied by a disturbing upward trend in Palestinian terror attacks • These are no longer isolated incidents, but rather something more organized.

An IDF tank near the Gaza border
Photo credit: AFP

Lilach Shoval


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Some Occupied Territories are more Equal than Others

by Thomas Lifson

The European Union is being challenged to explain why it treats Israel's "occupation" of (its homeland) territories in the West Bank differently from Morocco's occupation of Western Sahara and Turkey's occupation of Northern Cyprus. Raphael Ahren of the Times of Israel reports:
Many Israelis have long felt that the European Union is biased against them. Two legal scholars - a former Israeli ambassador and an American Jewish international law professor - think they've found the perfect case to prove the claim: A new fishing deal, signed between the Europeans and Morocco, which applies beyond Morocco's internationally recognized borders, taking in the territory of Western Sahara, even though Morocco invaded that area in 1975 and has occupied ever since.
The two scholars are now challenging EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton to explain why the agreement, in not excluding Morocco's occupied territory, doesn't prove that the EU is holding Israel to a double standard.
The EU insists that any agreement it signs with Israel explicitly exclude the settlements in the "occupied" West Bank, the scholars noted in a letter sent last month to Ashton's Brussels office. So why don't the same constraints apply in the case of Morocco? This blatant inconsistency shows "an official double-standard practiced by the EU," Professor Eugene Kontorovich of Northwestern University and Israeli ex-ambassador to Canada Alan Baker charged.
Last week, the EU responded to the letter, saying, essentially, that Israel's occupation is different, but without detailing how and why. 

I think the technical explanation for this is: "because we say so."Hat tip: Cliff Thier

Thomas Lifson


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Knesset Member Proposes Bill That Would ‘Annex the Jordan Valley Forever’

by Gidon ben Zvi

In response to the continuation of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, despite the recent escalation of terrorist activities in Judea and Samaria, Knesset Member Moti Yogev (Jewish Home) has presented a bill for Israel to annex the Jordan Valley, Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported on Friday.

Yogev’s bill has the support of MKs from right-wing parties, partners in Israel’s governing coalition, and even members of the left-leaning opposition.

An excerpt from the bill reads as follows: “Over the course of years, a consensus has built around the Jordan Valley with respect to its importance to Israel,” Ma’ariv reports. In an apparent appeal to Israel’s political opposition, the bill asserts that the first, “…valley communities were established by the labor movement… any future political settlement must include the Jordan Valley remaining under Israeli sovereignty.”

According to MK Yogev, “Israel should decide to exercise dominion over this vast region, whose Palestinian [Arab] population is sparse, and openly state that the Jordan Valley will remain under Israeli sovereignty forever.”

Gidon ben Zvi


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Why Jesus was a Zionist

by James Lewis

After the 1960s, the radical left conquered America's Organs of Propaganda, which now run robotically identical "news" stories every single day. Yet normal people don't all march to the same drummer. Big Media coordination of the "news" proves that we no longer have a free-thinking press; only the web is still free. 

Voltaire nailed it when he said that "To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize." There you have the open secret of our ruling class. If Obama can't be criticized for five whole years, you know who rules you. It's not you or me.

Now 'tis the season of Christmas, Hanukkah, and the New Year, a good time to wonder what Jesus would say about our political-media cult and its real beliefs.

What would Jesus say about the alphabet channels and the New York Times? What would he say about MSNBC and Chris Matthews? About Miley Cyrus? About the infiltration of our lives by radical Muslims pursuing jihad against the infidels -- AKA free Americans?

Theologically Jesus is viewed by different people in very different ways -- liberal Christians seem to see him as a "community organizer" like Obama. Others seem him as a spiritually ideal human being, a divinely inspired prophet, a messianic bringer of salvation, and as both human and divine in Christian orthodox theology.

A Georgetown professor just said on MSNBC that Christian men claiming to love Jesus more than they love women "sounds interestingly homoerotic." But that's just the usual provocation by spokesnoids for the left, who love to offend you and me by confusing Jesus with their own smelly little orthodoxies.

That's what sells in our brain-dead media today.

Here I simply want to point out that whatever else Jesus was, as a human being in his time and place, he must have been a Zionist, a lover of Israel. The reason is simply that Jewish patriotism was the cultural soil in which he grew and flourished. It was the cultural context of his life.

That is an important point these days, because the mass media have twisted our political vocabulary, including the word "Zionism." The left in its bottomless ignorance seems to believe that Zionism is a leftover from European imperialism of the 19th century, and that any black or brown folks who try to destroy it are well within their rights.

Last year, Benghazi revealed an American ambassador smuggling arms to Al Qaida in Syria, the same folks celebrated by John McCain on an infamous visit, and yes, the same people who keep spawning photos of decapitated Christian children in Maloula and Nairobi. Our media distinguished itself once again by keeping total silence about huge crimes against humanity committed by Muslims.

But contrary to the left, Zionism is not just a leftover of the British Empire in the Middle East. Neither are the persecuted Coptic Christians of Egypt, having lived there centuries before Mohammed. The same goes for the Orthodox Churches, the Zoroastrians, and any number of religious sects that are commonly persecuted by jihadist monsters.

Zionism goes back more than two and a half millennia, 2,500 years, even earlier than the Babylonian Exile. Mount Zion is the symbolic heart of Jerusalem.

You might remember Psalm 137:1:
"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion." KJV
That verse dates to the sixth century BCE. Babylon was a great empire in Mesopotamia, the land between the Two Rivers, Tigris and Euphrates. We call it Iraq.

(Iraq is named after the ancient city of Uruk, related to Ur of the Chaldees, the legendary home of the patriarch Abraham).

Jewish nationalism has flowed continuously from those ancient times, just as Irish nationalism is one long stream starting about 1,200 years ago. Like the Jews, the Irish are a mix of ethnos (family and clan), language (Gaelic), and faith (the faith brought by St. Patrick, along with earlier beliefs). Unlike America, a nation of immigrants, most countries in the world come from that kind of fusion of ethnos, faith, and language.

Just as Irish Americans can love Ireland without abandoning the United States, Jews and Christians can love the Holy Land without abandoning America. America's freedom and sovereignty supports the freedom and sovereignty of other civilized, democratic nations. That is our whole history.

Still, the anti-Zionist left now makes common cause with ancient Islamic imperialism, in a clearly stated genocidal program to wipe out the nation of Israel. As we hear the usual river of lies and half-truths babbled by our politicians and media, that's basically all you really need to know. Check the facts at your fingertips.

Iran's mullahs have chanted their genocidal creed with their charming simplicity every single day since 1979:

Death to America!!! Death to Israel !!!

But since the New York Times never covers that fact, millions of Americans know nothing about it. Normal Americans faced the truth about Hitler and Japan, Stalin and a nuclear Soviet Union. But today we have turned into international know-nothings.

So -- during the Christmas and Hanukkah season it's worth wondering whether Jesus was a Jewish patriot, a Zionist.

Almost everything about the life of Jesus is hotly disputed, including his messianic preaching and his personal divinity. But if we step outside of theology for the moment, there are basic facts on which historians agree: His approximate year of birth, his origins in the Galilee, (many days of travel from the capital of Jerusalem), his role as a preacher of popular fame, his last pilgrimage to the city of Zion to celebrate the Passover holiday, commemorating the escape of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt to the land of Zion. Traditional American blacks took the Hebrew slaves' flight to freedom as a prophecy for their own lives, in spirituals and sermons, and in names like the Zion Baptist Church.

The facts suggest that Jesus was a Jewish patriot, just as Socrates was an Athenian patriot. A country child growing up among the bonds of ethnos (family and clan), of religion and group identity, cherished by a people who were viciously oppressed by one conqueror after another, cannot help but be a natural patriot. If you doubt it, ask any Irish child today if he or she feels Irish. Or ask your kids if they feel American.

(Things were different among the Hellenized urban upper classes in Judaea, who often followed Greco-Roman customs and beliefs. King Herod the Great lived with the imperial family in Rome for years before he was appointed king of Judaea.)

It was a time of endless political arguments between Jewish rebels like the Maccabees and others who either identified with Rome, or who lived in an uncomfortable middle ground. The Maccabee revolt celebrated by the Hanukkah holiday broke out 150 years before the birth of Jesus, and was put down with the usual murderous ferocity. Seventy years after the birth of Jesus, another rebellion, led by Bar Kochba, broke out -- ultimately leading to the annihilation of Jerusalem by the Roman general Titus, and yet another exile for the Jewish people. Today in Rome you can see the Arch of Titus, with its famous sculpture of Titus driving his Jewish war captives through a triumphal march, bearing the great Menorah of the Second Temple of Jerusalem.

Jesus died on the cross around 36 AD/CE. Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect or procurator of Judaea, was recalled back to Rome in the year 36. Jesus must have been crucified before that time.

The death of Jesus is another source of endless debates, but there is no doubt why the Romans would crucify him. He was a suspected rebel against Rome, and the Romans killed such people on suspicion alone. The Pontius Pilate of the Gospels comes across as a perfectly practical Roman: when in doubt kill any suspected rebels.

For all we know there was a traitor among Jesus' disciples, like the Judas of the Gospels. For all we know the Sanhedrin plotted against him. Because Christianity became the official state religion of Rome in 330 AD/CE, the canonical Gospels were not allowed to blame Rome for the death of Jesus. Another scapegoat had to be found. The truth is that nobody knows all the ins and outs. There were no objective historians around, rooting through reams of original documents to tease out the truth.

Yet crucifixion was a Roman method of execution, combining inconceivable pain with certain death. Four decades after Jesus, in the year 72, Titus crucified a reported 70,000 Jewish rebels on the hills of Jerusalem, according to contemporary accounts. Titus didn't believe in the presumption of innocence. He killed any suspected rebel.

In sum, Jesus was a Zionist because normal Jewish children grew up that way -- with the exception of Hellenized Jews in strategic cities like Jerusalem and Caesarea, where Roman soldiers were present in force.

If Jesus was a Jewish patriot, a Zionist, why do millions of liberal Christians today support an anti-Zionist, genocide-threatening campaign mounted by a Muslim war theology that has conducted 1,500 years of genocidal war? A campaign that threatens genocide against Israel every single day? And which, in the case of the mullahs, is now only a month away from perfecting a nuclear bomb?

How can millions of liberal Christians claim to follow Jesus and still support the new, fashionable anti-Zionist genocidalism?

What would Jesus do today?

The best evidence gives a clear answer: that Jesus grew up in world pervaded with a love for Zion; that he knew the Psalms and their mourning over the Babylonian Exile from Zion; he was intimately familiar with Passover and its powerful theme of liberation by way of Zion; and that three times every day Jesus pronounced the Jewish credo, the Shemah, "Hear oh Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is One." The Shemah is an expression of Jewish unity, calling on the people of Zion to worship one God.

This is not exactly news, though it seems to be news to our media and their millions of brainwashed followers. You can still hear those ideas expressed by Bach, Handel, Verdi, and Brahms. Or you can see it in glorious works by Michelangelo, Bernini, Leonardo, and Rembrandt. The identification of Jesus with the Holy Land has never been questioned -- not until our surpassingly ignorant time.

As George Orwell wrote, in a time of deceit, saying the obvious is a revolutionary act.

The obvious fact is that Jesus was a lover of Zion.

Pass on the truth, please.

James Lewis


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A new Variable in the Pollard Equation

by Shlomo Cesana

Did Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu add another variable this week to the diplomatic equation? His statement, after learning that the Americans were listening in on phone calls and intercepting the emails of senior Israeli officials, among them the prime minister and the defense minister, that the time had come for Jonathan Pollard's release, perhaps injected a new element.

This is not about Israel freeing imprisoned Palestinian terrorists, despite Pollard's ongoing incarceration, but rather it comes at a time when the Americans have spied on us here at home.

All of this is happening against the backdrop of the release of Palestinian prisoners -- murderers with blood on their hands. If there is no change at the last minute, in a few days Ibrahim Juma and Suliman Abu Harbish, who murdered Rachel Weiss and her three little children (Ephraim, Netanel and Raphael), will be set free. 

In 1988, these two terrorists threw firebombs at a bus travelling from Tiberias to Jerusalem. The bus was attacked in Jericho and caught fire. Rachel, her three sons and soldier David Delarosa all perished inside. Juma and Harbish are only two of 26 terrorists to be freed in the third prisoner release phase (of four), which were agreed upon at the onset of the renewed negotiations with the Palestinians.

The previous phase of the prisoner release was accompanied by an internal government clash initiated by Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett, who opposed the measure. Bennett "forgot" that he is a member of the government and accused the prime minister of freeing prisoners when he could prevent it. 

It appears, however, that this time the message, at least within the coalition, has been received. This week on one of the local radio shows, Tourism Minister Uzi Landau, one of the more hawkish government representatives, was asked if the government intends to go through with the third phase of the prisoner release. He made it clear that the terrorists would be released as planned. 

With four months left until their expiration date, the talks are at an impasse. All officials in the know concede that the chances of the talks failing are greater than the chances of success. On the ground, the trend is already discernible. Since the talks began in July, the amount of terrorist-related incidents has doubled; six Israelis have been killed. Is this merely a matter of Hamas and Fatah divvying up their territory as they push toward the same goal -- the expulsion of the Israeli occupation as they call it -- or is it an attempt by the extremists to torpedo the diplomatic process? 

The pressure is now on Israel. The demand is to present a map with the borders of a Palestinian state and to accept the security principles outlined in the final status agreement. Netanyahu is not prepared to put a map on the table for the time being. If I present a map, he says to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, what other cards will I have left to play? Like Kerry, Netanyahu is not interested in the talks breaking down and is therefore agreeable to a one-year extension of the deadline. A conflict that has lasted for nearly 100 years will not end in nine months, Netanyahu has said in the past.

As for the security principles, Kerry presented a plan prepared by General John Allen. The plan, however, is problematic for Israel for two main reasons: Control over the Jordan Valley and the option of operating inside Palestinian cities.

As for the Jordan Valley, the Americans reject the claim of Israeli sovereignty, meaning our communities there. According to the Americans, an Israeli military presence there is sufficient and that, too, for only a limited period of time. Netanyahu does not accept the position that Jordan can be the buffer to defend Israel on its eastern flank. He believes that the existing border needs to stay the same, and that Israel's borders must only be guarded by the Israel Defense Forces. The defense establishment's demand is for operational freedom to combat terrorism. 

In the meantime, there is no agreement over the plan. "Kerry wants to win the Nobel Peace Prize. It won't happen at the expense of Israel's security," a senior Israeli official said this week. "There will not be an agreement at any cost."

Kerry is talking about a "framework deal": The Palestinians will recognize Israel as a Jewish state and Israel will present a map with Palestinian state borders. At this stage Netanyahu has requested not to present such a map. The concern is that Kerry's proposal will be cemented as the position both sides will have to adopt. 

This week in the Knesset, one MK recalled a conversation he had with the prime minister. The MK was interested in "the question of stamina throughout the negotiations," in his words. Netanyahu answered him: "I am prepared to be flexible and I am prepared for a real agreement, but I won't be diminished by the Americans, even at the cost of a clash."

Shlomo Cesana


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A Century of African-American Islam

by Daniel Pipes

The year 2013 marks the centenary of the reported founding of the Canaanite Temple in Newark, New Jersey. That was the very earliest form of an indigenous African-American Islam, one completely distinct from normative Islam, the 1,400 -year-old religion from Arabia founded by Muhammad. From this movement came Elijah Muhammad, Malcolm X, and Louis Farrakhan.
Noble Drew Ali, founder of the Moorish Science Temple of America.
The century divides into two main eras: inventing a new religion (1913-1975) and moving toward normative Islam (1975-2013).

Timothy Drew (1886-1929), an American black who called himself Noble Drew Ali, founded the Newark temple and then, in 1925 another, better verified organization, the oddly named Moorish Science Temple of America. His ideas derived mainly from four unlikely sources—pan-Africanists, the Shriners, Ahmadiyya Muslims, and white racists.

From pan-Africanists such as Edward Wilmot Blyden and Marcus Garvey, he appropriated the notion of Christianity as the religion of whites and Islam that of non-whites. As a practicing Shriner, Noble Drew Ali borrowed traits from this organization, such as the use of "Noble" before one's name, the requirement that men wear fezzes, and a network of lodges. From Ahmadis he took Arabic personal names, the crescent and star motif, the prohibition of pork, and the notion of Jesus traveling to India. From white racists came the idea that accomplished black Americans are not Africans at all but "Moors," "Moorish-Americans," or "Asiatics," a mythical northwest African people, the Moabites, who migrated to sub-Saharan Africa.

Noble Drew Ali's scripture, The Holy Koran of the Moorish Science Temple of America.
From this unique mixture, Noble Drew Ali concocted the 64-page scripture of his religion, The Holy Koran of the Moorish Science Temple of America (Chicago, 1927) which, despite its name, has almost nothing to do with the normative Islamic Koran but is largely plagiarized from two texts, one occult Christian and the other Tibetan. Even more strangely, his Koran focuses not on the figure of Muhammad but on Jesus.

Noble Drew Ali hoped that by avoiding association with Africa, inventing a new identity for American blacks, and urging them to be loyal to the United States, they would appear to be new immigrants and, like other newcomers, would escape entrenched racist stereotypes and avoid segregation. But such was not to be. As the historian Richard Brent Turner writes, "Noble Drew Ali did not understand that the melting pot was closed to black people in the 1920s."

MSTA declined with Noble Drew Ali's death in July 1929. The organization still exists with a following of about a thousand adherents. One member, Clement Rodney Hampton-El, was convicted for his part in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and sentenced to 35 years. Another, Narseal Batiste, got 13½ years for planning to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago.

The Temple had a key role as precursor to the Nation of Islam (NoI), which came into existence in July 1930. MSTA began the dual tradition, subsequently picked up by NoI, of appropriating the imagery of normative Islam without its content and then using this folk religion as a vehicle to escape white racism. Both focused primarily on un-churched American blacks and served as a bridge for them to convert to normative Islam. Many MSTA traits – the term "nation," the "Asiatic" identity, the rejection of Negro and Africa, the identification of Islam with "people of dark hue," the prediction that all whites would be destroyed, and the leader's claim to prophethood and even at times divinity – survived in NoI.

Clement Rodney Hampton-El, convicted World Trade Center terrorist.
Many of NoI's earliest members had previously belonged to MSTA and they often saw the Nation as the Temple's successor. Elijah Muhammad, NoI's effective founder, himself praised the MSTA forerunner and sometimes modestly portrayed his movement as "trying to finish up what those before us started."

Since 1975, the momentum has been away from MSTA and NoI in favor of normative Islam, with its over a billion adherents. MSTA and NoI cannot compete against the depth, gravitas, and resources of this world faith. NoI has been bleeding members to normative Islam, to the point that it hangs on thanks mostly to the prominence of the elderly and sick Farrakhan (b. 1933). After his passing from the scene, NoI will likely follow MSTA into a rapid decline, with African-American Muslims overwhelmingly adopting normative Islam.

Despite their insignificant futures, MSTA and NoI retain their importance because nearly all of today's approximately 750,000 African-American Muslims – and a potentially much larger community in the years ahead – trace their roots to that Canaanite Temple in Newark a century ago.

Mr. Pipes ( is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2013 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.


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