Thursday, April 16, 2009

Anti-Semitism on the march among the British Left

The heading I have put above on this article is not the original but it is accurate. The original heading was: "Pox Britannica. English anti-Semitism on the march". It was written by Howard Jacobson and appeared in "The New Republic". It was illustrated by a picture of a City gent (i.e. a man in a Bowler hat) with a Hitler moustache. And I am perfectly confident from what I read elsewhere that much of what Jacobson describes below is accurate. What he failed to mention directly (but can be seen in the sources quoted) is that the phenomena described occur almost exclusively on the British Left -- joined by some Muslims on occasions. Maybe his own narrow social circle makes the author believe that the Left intelligentsia is the whole of England. It is not. The cartoonist's implication that City gents (financial district workers) are the source of the antisemitism really is ludicrous.

The failure to mention the Leftist culpability is more or less to be expected from where the article was published -- the ludicrous and Left-leaning "New Republic". I can find nowhere on their site anything about their editor these days but last I heard "TNR" was edited by young Franklin (now "Frank") Foer. Has "Frank" ever apologized for the blatant and thoroughly discredited lies he published about the troops in Iraq? Nope. He just ducked and weaved. Still, it is interesting to hear about Leftist antisemitism from a Leftist source

'England's made a Jew of me in only eight weeks," says Nathan Zuckerman on the last page of Philip Roth's The Counterlife. It is not meant to be a compliment. What makes a Jew of Zuckerman is the "strong sense of difference" the English induce in him, a "latent and pervasive" anti-Semitism, rarely rampantly expressed except for a "peculiarly immoderate, un-English-like Israel-loathing."

At the time--The Counterlife was published in England in 1987--Zuckerman's account of Anglo-Jewish relations struck an English-born Jew like me as a mite thin-skinned. It was possible that an American Jew detected what we did not, but more likely that he detected what was not there. Whatever the truth of it, a comfortable existence was better served by assuming the latter. We all had our own tales of anti-Semitism to tell--my grandmother's headstone, for example, had just been defaced with a swastika in a skinhead raid on a Jewish cemetery in Manchester--but mainly they were isolated, low-level acts of idle vandalism or reflexes of minor intolerance, more comic than alarming, and not personal, however you viewed them. Apart, that is, from the Israel-loathing, but then that wasn't--was it?--to be confused with anti-Semitism.

Twenty years on, it is difficult to imagine Nathan Zuckerman lasting eight days in England, let alone eight weeks. There is something in the air here, something you can smell, but also, in a number of cases, something more immediately affronting to Jews. It is important not to exaggerate. Most English Jews walk safely through their streets, express themselves freely, enjoy the friendship of non-Jews, and feel no less confidently a part of English life than they ever have. Organizations monitoring anti-Jewish incidents in England have reported a dramatic increase after Gaza: the daubing of slogans such as "kill the jews" on walls and bus shelters in Jewish neighborhoods, abuse of Jewish children on school playgrounds, arson attacks on synagogues, physical assaults on Jews conspicuous by their yarmulkes or shtreimels. But, while these incidents ought not to be treated blithely, they are still exceptional occurrences.

And yet, in the tone of the debate, in the spirit of the national conversation about Israel, in the slow seepage of familiar anti-Semitic calumnies into the conversation--there, it seems to me, one can find growing reason for English Jews to be concerned. Mindless acts of vandalism come and go; but what takes root in the intellectual life of a nation is harder to identify and remove. Was it anti-Semitic of the Labour politician Tam Dalyell to talk of Jewish advisers excessively influencing Tony Blair's foreign policy? Was it anti-Semitic of the Liberal Democrat Baroness Tonge to refer to the "financial grips" that the pro-Israel lobby exerts on the world? Such allusions to a pro-Israel conspiracy of influence and wealth, usually accompanied by protestations of innocence in regard to Jews themselves--"I am sick of being accused of anti-Semitism," Baroness Tonge has said, "when what I am doing is criticizing Israel"--have become the commonplaces of anti-Israel discourse in the years since Philip Roth wrote The Counterlife. And, whatever their intention, their gradual effect has been to normalize, under cover of criticism of Israel, assumptions that 50 years ago would have been exclusively the property of overt Jew-haters. The peculiarly immoderate Israel-loathing that Roth remarked upon in 1987 is now a deranged revulsion, intemperate and unconcealed, which nothing Israel itself has done could justify or explain were it ten times the barbaric apartheid state it figures as in the English imagination.

Demonstrators against Israel's operation in Gaza carried placards demanding an end to the "massacre" and the "slaughter." There was no contesting this rhetoric of wanton destruction versus helpless innocence. Hamas rockets counted for nothing, Hamas's record of endangering its own civilian population counted for nothing, Amnesty reports were cited when they incriminated Israel but ignored when they incriminated others. Whatever was not massacre was not news, nor was it germane. The distinguished British film director Ken Loach dismissed a report on the rise of anti-Semitism across Europe as designed merely to "distract attention" from Israel's military crimes. An increase in anti-Semitism is "perfectly understandable," Loach said, "because Israel feeds feelings of anti-Semitism." Scrupulously refusing the Holocaust-Gaza analogy, Robert Fisk, writing in The Independent a few weeks ago, nonetheless argued that "a Palestinian woman and her child are as worthy of life as a Jewish woman and her child on the back of a lorry in Auschwitz"--at a stroke reinstating the analogy while implying that Jews need to be reminded that not only Jewish lives are precious. And a columnist for the populist newspaper The Daily Mirror has taken this imputation of callousness a stage further, writing of the "1,314 dead Palestinians temporarily sat[ing] Tel Aviv's bloodlust."

Coincidentally, or not, a ten-minute play by Caryl Churchill--accusing Jews of the same addiction to blood-spilling--has recently enjoyed a two-week run at the Royal Court Theatre in London and three performances at Dublin's Abbey Theatre. Seven Jewish Children declares itself to be a fund-raiser for Gazans. Anyone can produce it without paying its author a fee, so long as the seats are free and there is a collection for the beleaguered population of Gaza after the performance.

Think of it as 1960s agitprop--the buckets await you in the foyer and you make your contribution or you don't--and it is no more than the persuaded speaking to the persuaded. But propaganda turns sinister when it pretends to be art. Offering insight into how Jews have got to this murderous pass--the answer is the Holocaust: we do to others what others did to us--Seven Jewish Children finishes almost before it begins in a grotesque tableau of blood-soaked triumphalism: Jews reveling in the deaths of Palestinians, laughing at dying Palestinian policemen, rejoicing in the slaughter of Palestinian babies.

Churchill has expressed surprise that anyone should accuse her of invoking the blood libel, but, even if one takes her surprise at face value, it only demonstrates how unquestioningly integral to English leftist thinking the bloodlust of the Israeli has become. Add to this Churchill's decision to have her murder-mad Israelis justify their actions in the name of "the chosen people"--as though any Jew ever yet interpreted the burden of "chosenness" as an injunction to kill--and we are back on old and terrifying territory. And this not in the brute hinterland of English life, where swastikas are drawn the wrong way round and "Jew" is not always spelled correctly, but at the highest level of English culture.

Again it is important not to exaggerate. Seven Jewish Children has not by any means received universal acclaim. Parodies of it seem to turn up on the Internet almost every day. But there is no postulate so far-fetched that it can't smuggle itself into even the best newspapers as truth. The eminent Guardian theater critic Michael Billington, for example, took Churchill's words in the spirit in which they were uttered, believing that she "shows us how Jewish children are bred to believe in the 'otherness' of Palestinians." Jewish children, note. But then it's Jewish children whom Caryl Churchill paints as brainwashed into barbarity. Without, I believe, any intention to speak ill of Jews, and innocently deaf to the odiousness of the word "bred" in this context, Billington demonstrates how easily language can sleepwalk us into bigotry.

The premise of Seven Jewish Children is a fine piece of fashionable psychobabble that understands Zionism as the collective nervous breakdown of the Jewish people; instead of learning the humanizing lesson of the Holocaust--whatever that might be, and whatever the even greater obligation on non-Jews to learn it too--Jews vent their instability on the Palestinians in imitation of what the Nazis vented on them. This is a theory that assumes what it offers to prove, namely how like Nazis Israelis have become. Furthermore, it dispossesses Jews of their own history, turning the Holocaust into a sort of retrospective retribution, Jews being made to pay the price then for what Israelis are doing now. Clearly, this exists at a more extreme end of the continuum of willed forgetting than Holocaust denial itself, its ultimate object being to break the Jew-Holocaust nexus altogether. Let us no longer deny the Holocaust, let us rather redistribute the pity. If there is a victim of the Holocaust today, it is the people of Gaza.

Given how hard it is to distinguish Jew from Israeli in all this, the mantra "It is not anti-Semitic to be critical of Israel" looks increasingly disingenuous. But there is no challenging it, not even with such eminently reasonable responses as, "That surely depends on the criticism," or "Calling into question an entire nation's right to exist is not exactly 'criticism.'" Nor is the distinction between Israeli and Jew much respected where the graffitists and the baby bullies of the schoolyard do their work. But, in the end, it is frankly immaterial how much of this is Jewhating or not. The inordinacy of English Israel-loathing--ascribing to a country the same disproportionate responsibility for the world's ills that was once ascribed to a people--is toxic enough in itself. The language of extremism has a malarious dynamic of its own, passing effortlessly from the mischievous to the unwary, and from there into the bloodstream of society. And that's what one can smell here. Infection.


Beyond Terrorism

The Islamist threat is worse than you think


‘Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Koran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.” This is the battle cry of Hizb al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin, Egypt’s notorious Muslim Brotherhood, the intellectual font of Sunni Islamic radicalism for nearly a century. And that should give us pause.

Unlike al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and other terror networks, the Brotherhood purports to forswear violence — convincingly so, according to foreign-policy solons who urge U.S. diplomatic engagement with the group. The Brotherhood, they say, is mainstream and moderate. It is the Brotherhood, not the repressive Mubarak regime, that grips the mantle of democracy, pining for free elections. The political process, not terrorism, is the Brotherhood’s chosen path for achieving its ends. So the organization’s American fan club insists, blithely gliding by what those decidedly immoderate ends entail. Thus, the enormity of the motto: The Brotherhood may have abandoned violence (at least its direct execution by Brotherhood operatives), but it has never forsworn jihad. For the Brothers, jihad is still “our way,” and “dying in the way of Allah” — the martyrdom glorified by Islam’s prophet — remains “our highest hope.”

To speak of jihad without brutality seems contradictory. But it is not — though the explanation for this differs markedly from the benign rationale offered by Muslim revisionists. They claim the Islamic obligation of jihad (which literally means “struggle”) is not about violence or “holy war.” In their fable, the “greater” jihad has always been the Muslim’s struggle to live a virtuous life, and the term’s bellicose connotation is no more meaningful than commonplace calls to metaphorical “war” — against drugs, poverty, tobacco, and the like. They acknowledge a “lesser jihad,” a violent vestige of Islam’s history, but claim it is relevant in modern times only when Muslims are under siege.

This smiley-face jihad remains unconvincing. Bernard Lewis, the West’s preeminent scholar of Islam, points out that “the overwhelming majority of early authorities, . . . citing relevant passages in the Qur’an and in the tradition, discuss jihad in military terms.” Moreover, the encyclopaedic Dictionary of Islam, first published by the British missionary Thomas Patrick Hughes in 1886, defines jihad as “a religious war with those who are unbelievers in the mission of Muhammad.” So entrenched is jihad’s nexus with violence that forthright Islamophiles concede it. In The Age of Sacred Terror, for example, former Clinton officials Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon claim that a “domestication of jihad” has transformed it into an “internal battle” for personal betterment waged through “acts of charity, good works in society, and education.” Still, they ruefully attest that jihad grew up as “exclusively actual, physical warfare,” and that the “domestication” they perceive is a “modern-day” contrivance.

So if jihad and violence are joined at the hip, how can the Brotherhood, self-proclaimed jihadists, abandon violence? The same way a fierce army captures territory without firing a single shot, or the Mafia collects usurious loans while busting only the occasional kneecap. The answer, very simply, is extortion, combined with a shrewd appreciation of the ground a timid, multi-culti West may be only too willing to cede.

We’re not so shrewd. It has been 30 years since the Khomeinist revolution in Iran and 16 since jihadists declared all-out war on the United States by bombing the World Trade Center. Yet we still understand precious little about radical Islam and the threat this enemy portends. It is a conscious avoidance. Knowledge is power, but it also entails a responsibility to confront the dangers of which one becomes aware. The purpose of jihad is not violence for its own sake; it is to pave the way for the imposition of sharia, the Muslim legal code and the necessary precondition for building an Islamic state and society. That is a danger we simply don’t want to deal with: It would require facing up to the brute fact that such a state would be antithetical to American democracy.

Thus, we avert our eyes from our enemies’ goal and fail to recognize both who our enemies are and why the accommodations they demand, some of which seem harmless enough on the surface, should be opposed. Our national-security policy obsesses over means — in particular one tactic, terrorism — while ignoring the end the means seek to accomplish. Because America is a beacon of religious freedom, we’ve limited our focus to operatives who plot and execute acts of terror; the ideology fueling this savagery is not our concern — lest we betray our first principles and smear every Muslim as a terrorist.

This disposition is suicidal, for at least three reasons. First, Islam is not merely a religion. It is a comprehensive socio-economic and political system, which believers take to be ordained by Allah, its elements compulsory and non-negotiable. While those elements include tenets we would regard as a religious creed, these tenets constitute only a fraction of the overarching Islamic project. They’re also not easily distinguished because Islam does not separate mosque and state. When we blinker ourselves to Islamic ideology, in deference to the principle of rendering unto God what is God’s, we ignore a great deal of what, in American society, is to be rendered unto Caesar.

Second, speaking of “Islam” as if there were only one Muslim belief system is a gross oversimplification. Our Manichean public discourse invokes a “true” Islam, distinct from what simply must be the “false” Islam of the terrorists. U.S. officials gush about a monolithic “religion of peace,” while British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith brands terrorism “un-Islamic activity” merely by dint of its being terrorism. But despite the good intentions of “true Islam” dabblers — whose influence among Muslims pales beside that of fundamentalist clerics who’ve studied Islamic jurisprudence for decades — there is not a single Islam. There are many. They have a common core, but numerous interpretations are legitimately identifiable as “Islam.” When we speak of a “true” or “false” Islam, we are speaking nonsense. This shortchanges our understanding of the Muslim world and our influence on it.

What’s more, a counterterrorism strategy premised on delegitimizing as “anti-Islamic” the fundamentalist strains that practice violence is doomed to fail. Though we find them unsavory, these strains boast a rich pedigree, lie squarely within the tradition of Mohammed, and are supported by centuries of scholarship rooted in the literal commands of scripture. To pose a conservative estimate, their adherents number in the tens of millions when we account for both the small percentage of Muslims willing to take up arms and the far larger number who support forcible action (or at least its goals) even though they would not commit terrorist acts themselves. Pretending they represent a bare fringe has left us blind and vulnerable.

Third, means can’t be separated from ends without confusing both. On a gut level, policymakers may understand that jihad is not an end unto itself, but they won’t grapple with the actual end, namely, to establish a Muslim state. Thus they miss the threat and erroneously focus on only one of the jihadist’s means, violence, thinking that to end the violence would be to end radical Islam’s threat to our way of life. By contrast, Islam’s apologists actually do appreciate that jihad is merely a means to something transcendent, but because they refuse to accept jihad’s violent roots, they overlook its corporate nature. Mired in what Judge Robert Bork describes as modern liberalism’s radical individualism, they miss — or refuse to see — that Islam is not predominantly about the individual. It is about the ummah, the Muslim nation, establishing and spreading Allah’s law on earth. It is not about becoming a better person by doing good deeds, but becoming a better Muslim by submitting to this divine cause (the word Islam means “submission”). Jihad is shorthand for jihad fi sabil Allah: to struggle in the cause of Allah. The Dictionary of Islam elaborates that it was established as “a divine institution” for the specific “purpose of advancing Islam” — the belief system, not the individual Muslim. That is the end to which the jihadist dedicates himself: to advance Islam. The purpose of jihad is not to blow up buildings and kill infidels. Its purpose is to institute sharia.

Here, it is necessary to address some sleight-of-hand. The Koran contains many an ode to tolerance, most of which are from Mohammed’s early Meccan period, when he was seeking to recruit converts to the new religion. Many such benign injunctions were abrogated by the contrary, brutalizing verses of the later Medinan period, when the warrior prophet spread Islam principally by the sword. That inconvenient fact is ignored by the “religion of peace” crowd, whose unparalleled favorite scripture is Sura 2:256, the instruction that there shall be “no compulsion in religion.” On the basis of this directive, they argue, à la Jacqui Smith, that jihadist violence must be anti-Islamic.

Au contraire. While militants would surely be delighted if, say, the destruction of the Twin Towers induced everyone to convert, that is not the direct goal of jihadist activity — violent or not. The goal is to induce each targeted jurisdiction to adopt sharia. The Muslim Brotherhood’s chief theoretician, Sayyid Qutb, explained that forcible jihad proceeds whenever Islam is obstructed by “the political system of the state, the socio-economic system based on races and classes, and behind all these, the military power of the government.” This system is then supplanted by Islamic law. At that point, Islam can be “addressed to peoples’ hearts and minds,” purportedly without compulsion, “and they are free to accept or reject it with an open mind.”

Jihad is not trying to convert you; it is seeking the imposition of Allah’s law. That law happens to be antithetical to bedrock American principles: It establishes a state religion, rejects the freedom of citizens to govern themselves irrespective of a religious code, proscribes freedom of conscience, proscribes economic freedom, destroys the principle of equality under the law, subjugates non-Muslims in the humiliation of dhimmitude, and calls for the execution of homosexuals and apostates. Nevertheless, its adoption produces what Islamists portray as the non-coercive environment in which people then “freely” embrace Islam.

That environment is achieved by violence only if violence is necessary. Naturally, the term jihad is drenched in gore: Its proponents understood violence would often be necessary to induce adoption of fundamentalist Islam’s authoritarian system. But the jihadist needn’t savage his targets if Islam can be advanced without a fight. An invading army does not go home if the locals surrender. It pushes forward, adding to its domain until it meets real resistance — at which point it promptly deems itself under siege and gets back to all that “lesser” jihad.

The Muslim Brotherhood has been nothing short of masterful in implementing this jihadist strategy. It is the nerve center, with tentacles spread throughout the world. For example, Hamas — which purports not to do terrorism either, just “resistance” — is the Brotherhood’s Palestinian arm, and the Ikhwan rudiments of al-Qaeda, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other Sunni terror groups are well documented. But the majority of Brotherhood branches, like the ones in Syria and Jordan, are ostensibly political and cultural enterprises. In Europe, terrorism analyst Lorenzo Vidino notes that Brotherhood constituents joined forces in 1996 to create the Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organizations, a Brussels-based “network of 42 national and international organizations bringing together youth from over 26 different countries.” Here in the U.S., jihadism expert Steven Emerson observes that “nearly all prominent Islamic organizations . . . are rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Their collective game plan is announced for all who care to see on the Brotherhood’s website. They seek “the introduction of the Islamic Shariah as the basis for controlling the affairs of state and society.” In 2007, the organization’s platform called for “spreading and deepening the true concepts of Islam as a complete methodology that regulates all aspects of life.” Even more telling, though, is an internal 1991 Brotherhood memorandum made public by the Justice Department during its recent prosecution of an ostensible charity, the Holy Land Foundation, for underwriting terrorism. It states: “The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”

Jihad Watch founder Robert Spencer has aptly labeled this strategy “stealth jihad.” It is working. It would not be accurate to say radical Islam is infiltrating American institutions without firing a shot. The purpose of terrorism is to terrorize. We’ve had plenty of it, and the specter of additional savagery greases the skids for more subtle forms of extortion. Unquestionably, this vulnerability is exacerbated by the multiculturalist bent of institutions dominated by the Left — the academy, the media, and, increasingly, government. Nonetheless, when droves of Muslims riot over cartoon depictions of the prophet, a schoolteacher’s innocuous choice of “Mohammed” as nickname for the class teddy bear, or false reports of Koran defilement at Guantanamo Bay, conditions are ever more ripe for the grievance-mongers to seize the advantage.

In rationalizing that the only real problem is terrorism, our government promotes the project behind the violence by embracing Muslim leaders, no matter how radical they are, as long as they are not currently in the act of terrorizing. In 2005, for example, Alberto Fernandez, then the State Department’s director of public diplomacy in the Middle East, praised the Brotherhood’s spiritual leader, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, as an “intelligent and thoughtful voice from the region,” a “respected scholar . . . worthy of the deepest respect” and “deserv[ing of] our attention.” Then as now, Qaradawi had been banned from the U.S. for promoting terrorism. Yet Fernandez chirped that Qaradawi’s role was “for the Muslim ummah to decide.” And so it did: rioting over the Danish cartoons and taking up arms against the “occupiers” in Iraq, just like he told them to.

To win fundamentalist support for its democracy-building in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush administration helped write new constitutions that not only established Islam as the state religion but installed sharia as a primary source of law — a move that the State Department, far from being embarrassed by, called attention to as part of its energetic Muslim “outreach.” Embarrassment didn’t settle in until later, when, to the surprise of absolutely no one who troubles himself to learn about sharia, an Afghan court attempted to sentence to death, for the “crime” of apostasy, a Christian who’d converted from Islam years earlier. (The defendant was finally whisked to safety, in a non-Muslim country.) Similarly, in Iraq, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, much admired by the administration for his support of democratic elections, issued a fatwa calling for the murder of all homosexuals.

The mainstreaming of sharia — under the delusion that it is perfectly harmonious with Western democracy and culture — is picking up steam here at home. Minnesota, with its huge influx of Somali immigrants sowing Muslim enclaves, is a harbinger of things to come. The state was the site of the infamous 2006 “flying imams” incident, in which six Muslim clerics were thrown off a flight after allegedly intimidating passengers and crew by aping the behavior of the 9/11 hijackers. They complained and filed a lawsuit with the assistance of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) — a Brotherhood-rooted organization whose communications director has advocated the conversion of the U.S. into a sharia state (and some of whose members have been implicated in terrorism investigations). Our craven federal government reacted by subjecting 45,000 airport-security officers to Islamic sensitivity training. On its website, the Department of Homeland Security published a CAIR press release, which brayed about the fact that CAIR was regularly asked to advise DHS agencies on matters of Islamic culture. Remarkably, even as DHS and the FBI were “partnering” with CAIR, the Justice Department was citing the “civil rights” organization as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Foundation case.

In Minneapolis, cab drivers began refusing to ferry airport passengers believed to be carrying alcohol. Rather than revoking licenses, state authorities opted to consult the Muslim American Society, perhaps the Brotherhood’s principal American arm. Afterwards, the cabbies were cajoled into providing service — not because their discriminatory practice was wrong but on the (dubious) theory that sharia was not actually violated if alcohol was only transported, not consumed.

Minnesota schools are also in the jihad’s sights. A graduate education student was ousted from a high school last year while doing course-required field work. Prone to seizures, the student required the assistance of a specially trained dog. Sharia, however, pronounces canines unclean and prohibits touching them. The Muslim teens threatened to kill the dog. When the student complained, his university shamefully capitulated, awarding him credit without the requisite course-work. An official rationalized that it was “important to respect different cultures” and that the accommodation was simply “part of the growth process when we become more diverse.”

“Accommodation,” meanwhile, may have reached a new level regarding Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA) in Inner Grove Heights, Minn.: taxpayer funding for what appears to be a madrassa camouflaged as a charter school. TIZA is sponsored by an entity called “Islamic Relief,” and its executive director is a Muslim imam. It is housed in the headquarters of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota (the declared mission of which is “establishing Islam in Minnesota”), in a building that also contains a mosque. Students pray daily, eat halal meals, and attend “Islamic studies” courses — officially, after the close of the regular school day, but witness accounts suggest it is more like a staple of the regular workload.

And that’s not all Minnesotans are funding. The state has recently taken to facilitating “Muslim mortgages.” Sharia does not permit interest to be assessed in financial transactions. One might think that’s not a government’s problem — but Minnesota now buys homes from willing sellers and then resells them to Muslim buyers in transactions that disguise interest by higher costs and fees. That is, American taxpayer dollars are employed to promote conformance with Islamic law.

It is but one aspect of a burgeoning national field known as “sharia-compliant finance.” Strapped American financial institutions, anxious to tap the liquidity available in oil-producing Muslim nations, are encouraged to structure financial transactions that factor in interest payments without calling them that. The interest might, for example, be siphoned off to pay zakat, the Islamic obligation of charitable giving, with the arrangement blessed by an advisory board composed of experts in Islamic law. This is problematic on multiple levels: Many charities have proven to be fronts for terrorist organizations; the banks’ sharia advisers may be fundamentalists who steer business to suspect charities; and, most important, the upshot of sharia compliance is to validate — to regularize in our financial system — a legal code with significant anti-American, anti-capitalist features.

Minnesota is a telling ripple from a growing wave. The Organization of the Islamic Conference, comprising 57 nations (not to mention the “State of Palestine”), is lobbying in the U.N. for a revised declaration of human rights that would make criticism of Islam a violation of international law. Muslim activists have succeeded in enacting hate-speech laws and speech codes throughout Europe and Canada that criminalize and create civil liability for criticism of Islam. British courts are home to the noxious practice known as “libel tourism,” permitting defamation suits against American journalists and academics who write about Saudi society’s promotion of radical Islam — suits that would instantly be dismissed under American law.

And where Western governments cannot directly forbid examination of radical Islamic ideology, they are using their muscle to suppress it. In February, Geert Wilders, a Dutch legislator, was barred from entering Britain by Jacqui Smith’s Home Office, despite having been invited by a member of the House of Lords to screen his controversial film, Fitna, which highlights the well-established connection between Koranic preaching and jihadist terror. The same Labour government that has demanded the return to Britain of numerous terrorist detainees held at Guantanamo Bay refused admission to an official of a fellow EU government due to fear of offending Muslims.

Last year, the Homeland Security Department, after consulting with what it described as a “wide variety of Muslim American leaders” whom it otherwise declined to identify, issued language guidance for the government: an attempt to purge our public discourse of terms like “Islamofascism” and, of course, “jihad.” Fastening their rose-tinted glasses, DHS experts explained the premise of the guidance: “Many so-called ‘Islamic’ terrorist groups [so-called?] twist and exploit the tenets of Islam to justify violence.” Exploit, sure, but twist? To justify jihadist violence, how much does one need to “twist” such scriptures as (to take just one of many possible examples) Sura 9:123: “O ye who believe, fight those of the disbelievers who are near you, and let them find harshness in you, and know that Allah is with those who keep their duty unto him”?

The Muslim Public Affairs Council took time out from its campaign to have Hamas, Hezbollah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad removed from the government’s roster of formally designated terrorist organizations to congratulate DHS on the new guidance and pat itself on the back for both its “regular . . . engagement with government agencies including [DHS]” and its long advocacy of a “nuanced approach” that stresses “the importance of decoupling Islam with [sic] terrorism.”

MPAC has a point. The problem isn’t just terrorism. Not by a long shot. The problem is that radical Islam, by lawfare and intimidation as well as by terror, is working assiduously to validate and ultimately establish its legal code in the U.S. and throughout the West.

All of this can be reversed. American law need not embrace sharia. Our system guarantees only freedom of conscience — to believe what one chooses to believe — not a right to have those beliefs accommodated, adopted, or imposed. Regulations codifying sharia can be undone. It is unlikely, short of another terrorist attack, that Congress would revisit the 1990 Immigration Act, which, at the behest of leftist Democrats, effectively gutted ideology-based exclusions of aliens committed to the eradication of American constitutional democracy. Still, though such a reconsideration would be welcome, there is no reason, in the meantime, for U.S. government agencies to be “partnering” with Islamic groups that take their cues from the Muslim Brotherhood. Those organizations are radical, and mean our society mortal harm, even if they’re not blowing up buildings. The main challenge today is not protecting the buildings; it’s protecting ourselves from what’s going on inside the buildings.


Think Again: Esau and Ishmael allied

Jewish eschatology contains numerous references to an alliance between Esau (Rome, the West) and his father-in-law Ishmael (Islam) against the Jewish people toward the end of history. Frankly, I've always had a hard time imaging such an alliance between clashing civilizations. Perhaps my mistake lay in imagining a sort of updated Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

What we are witnessing instead today is Western appeasement and submission to Islam. In both the United States and Western Europe an effective double-standard has been carved out for Islam. Scorn for traditional religions and their adherents is fine, even praiseworthy, as long as it is confined to Judaism or Christianity. But toward Islam, we must show respect.

The lesson that Europeans learned from the Danish cartoons episode was that it is not wise to rile Muslims. Noting Islam's unlovely propensity for producing adherents eager to kill in its name inevitably triggers murderous riots that prove the point being protested.

Britain's recent refusal to permit Dutch parliamentarian Geerts Wilder into the country and the criminal prosecution against him in his own country provide a classic example of anticipatory compliance. The fear that showing of Wilder's movie Fitna, consisting primarily of quotes from the Koran, to a group of British parliamentarians would trigger riots trumped traditional Anglo-Saxon support for freedom of thought and argument.

THE WEST'S astounding passivity in the face of Iran's racing nuclear program is the most consequential form of appeasement. In three months in office, the Obama administration's sole initiative on the Iranian front has been a video from President Barack Obama full of paeans to the great Persian culture, for which he received mostly spittle in return.

By contrast, the administration has been hyperactive on the Palestinian-Israeli front. The president's first foreign policy initiative was to appoint a special Mideast envoy, who has already visited the region several times. The president and his secretary of state constantly stress the urgency of the "two-state solution" and the unsustainability of the status quo. The Arab-Israeli conflict, we keep hearing from Washington, holds the key to all Middle East conundrums.

That inversion of priorities makes no logical sense. The possession of nuclear weapons by an ideologically expansionist power sitting atop or adjacent to a large percentage of the world's oil supply and serving as a patron of terrorist groups around the world would permanently change the world in ways too painful to contemplate. Sunni leaders know this and repeatedly told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Iran constitutes a far bigger threat to regional stability than Israel.

On the other hand, an imposed "two-state solution" would change little in the Middle East. Arab countries would continue to be plagued by high rates of illiteracy, second-class citizenship for women, lack of scientific or technological training, and the absence of civil liberties even in the unlikely event of peace with the Palestinians. The only consequence of such a "solution," particularly if it left Israel uninhabitable after a Hamas takeover of the West Bank, would be to strengthen the narrative of Islamic ascendancy and whet the jihadist appetite.

Few propositions are so easily refuted as the centrality of the Arab-Israeli conflict to the multiple deformations in the Arab world. Not one of the major bloodlettings in the region is remotely attributable to Israel: the Iraq-Iran War, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and its aftermath, civil wars in Lebanon, Iraq and Algeria, the slaughter of 20,000 Syrian citizens in Homa.

Finally, resolute Western action with respect to Iran might actually achieve something. Iran's economy is highly vulnerable, particularly with oil prices low. Yet rather than exploit Iran's economic weakness and lack of petroleum refining capacity, major European firms have signed billion dollar deals to lessen that vulnerability by helping Iran develop its refining capacity.

But there is scant hope of progress on the Palestinian front, particularly if peace, not just signed agreements, is the goal. "Moderate" Muhammad Dahlan, carefully cultivated by the United States for more than a decade, now admits that Fatah has never recognized Israel's right to exist. Hamas, for its part, repeats over and over again that it will never recognize Israel in any borders. The Palestinian Authority continues to honor as heroes perpetrators of massacres of Jewish civilians. Billions of dollars of international aid continues to go to maintaining multiple security forces and feathering the nests of Palestinian officials rather than building a decent society. And from an Israeli point of view, as long as rockets continue to fall from every area from which we withdraw, there is no chance of further withdrawals.

WESTERN SUBMISSION and passivity are only part of the story. Ever larger segments of elite and left-wing Western opinion have signed on to Hamas's exterminationist agenda. Comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany are so commonplace in European discourse that they no longer even shock. Oliphant's cartoon of a jackbooted Israel has now brought this obscenity to the mainstream American press.

Operation Cast Lead is said to have brought Israel's international standing to a new nadir. Responding to their accusers, Israelis ask: What other country in the world would have tolerated three years of rockets shot from across the border at its civilian population? How would you have brought those missiles to a halt in a more "gentle" fashion than Israel has? Why are you obsessed with the deaths of 300 civilians in Gaza brought about by the policies of their duly elected leaders (think of the civilian population of Germany under Hitler), but so oblivious to the killings of hundreds of thousands of black Muslims in Sudan?

Very good questions to be sure, and not ones to which there are any answers. But their effectiveness depends on the assumption that the one being asked accepts Israel's right to exist at all. Europeans view our very presence in this place as the last vestige of Western colonialism. On a tour of US college campuses, The Jerusalem Post's Khaled Abu Toameh found more support for Hamas among non-Muslim professors and students than exists in Ramallah. "We should not be surprised," he wrote, "if the next generation of jihadists comes... from university campuses across the United States."



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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