Archive for Richard Silverstein

UC San Diego Students Need to Protest the “Stand With Us” Destroying Human Rights Conference

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , on May 10, 2012 by loonwatch

tritons-4-israel

An update to this story. It is confirmed that certain anti-Muslim hate-mongers will be involved. Muslims and their partners on campus need to protest this, as Richard mentions a good part of the $20K or so being spent to secure these speakers,

…comes from student fees, meaning that all students, including those who are Muslim, are supporting this hate fest.

STANDWITHUS: DESTROYING HUMAN RIGHTS AT UC SAN DIEGO

by Richard Silverstein (Tikkun Olam)

Thanks to Audrey Jacobs of StandWithUs, I’ve managed to confirm that the far-right Israel advocacy group is indeed sponsoring Rescuing Human Rights, and that the program will feature four controversial figures in the national anti-jihadi movement. This event is part of Israel Awareness Week on campus. This in turn is directly connected to Israel Apartheid Week held at the same time. One of SWU’s key missions is to take the pro-Israel message directly to those it considers enemies on campus. Getting in the face of campus Muslim or Palestinian groups is SWU’s stock-in-trade.

SWU has done us the favor of uploading three of the speaker agreements between Tritons for Israel and SWU indicating they’re paying Zuhdi Jasser $4,250 plus hotel and travel, and Brooke Goldstein $3,500 plus expenses. The Wall Street Journal’s Brett Stephens is being paid $8,500 plus expenses.  Avi Bell, who teaches law at the Catholic institution, the University of San Diego may be speaking gratis.  That’s well north of  $20,000 if you include speaker expenses and rental of Price Theater, where the event will be held.  A good part of this comes from student fees, meaning that all students, including those who are Muslim, are supporting this hate fest.

The SWU promotional material notes the “inspiration” for the title and substance of the event supposedly comes from a Wall Street Journal column Stephens wrote, The Decline of Human Rights.  One of the key “bright ideas” in the piece is that there are “too many” human rights.  By allowing every Tom, Dick and Harry to claim their rights have been abused, we’ve cheapened the principle.  It’s something akin to the argument that there are too many sex discrimination or rape claims made in courts because every woman has come to see them as her meal ticket.  Yup, pretty damn offensive.

After reviewing the piece, it seems to me that Stephens filched some of his ideas from, and that the title for the UCSD event comes from the Henry Jackson Society essay, Rescuing Human Rights, which I referred to inyesterday night’s post.

In order to bolster Zuhdi Jasser’s Muslim bona-fides, SWU calls him a “devout” Muslim.  In fact, Jasser’s own promotional material make this claim.  I wouldn’t trust his claims as far as I could throw ‘em unless they were independently verified.

SWU and like-minded anti-jihadi pro-Israel groups are quick to point out the supposed international Muslim conspiracy to topple western civilization and replace it with a caliphate or Sharia law (depending on which anti-Muslim extremist you talk to). What few people are noticing is that there is a similar coordinated international pro-Israel campaign financed and directed in large part by the Israeli government. Though the pro-Israel cabal at times maintains its own initiative, funding and agenda.

This is far more than lobbying. It’s much more akin to the surreptitious surveillance and flacking for war against Iran which I described in my posting about the work on which Shamai Leibowitz and I collaborated. In the current case, we can call this an all-out campaign to legitimize Israel and in the process delegitimize anything or one that stands in the way.

The May 15th conference is a perfect example. Human rights are a terrific thorn in the side of Israel. If SWU and HJS can redefine and defang the contemporary concept of human rights then Israel will once more be able to stand tall in the international community. In fact, this program doesn’t “rescue human rights.” It destroys human rights as a robust principle for reining in the worst excesses of authoritarian regimes. If conferences like this “rescue” anything it’s state-sponsored torture (see last night’s post) and murder (seemy critique of John Brennan’s apologia for targeted killing and dronicide).

The premise of the pro-Israel anti-jihadis is that western civilization is at war with Islam (they claim only “radical Islam,” but make little or no distinction between the two). In such a war, there must be a no-holds barred approach to terror, since the Islamists know the weaknesses in our system and exploit it to their advantage. That’s why we need to emulate Israel and kill and torture more bad guys. There’s only one way to stop them. By being tougher and meaner than they are. That’s why human rights as currently defined are not only expendable, but inimical to the SWU anti-jihadi world view.  So bring on torture, bring on targeted killings as long as they get the bad guys–except when they miss and get a few of the innocents.  But can any Muslim truly be innocent?

Returning to pro-Israel flackery, some of my pro-Israel readers are fond of pointing out that lobbying is as American as apple pie. Indeed it is. But Israel’s activities and that of its “Amen choir” is more than lobbying. It’s no holds barred pull out all the stops advocacy. It skirts the bounds of propriety and even legality at times. It’s opaque, often mendacious, always slick and slimy.

Richard Silverstein: UK Jewish Chronicle Hosts BNP White Supremacist Blogger

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Media with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 20, 2012 by loonwatch

 

Our friend Richard Silverstein at Tikkun Olam was the first to expose the UK Jewish Chronicle’s hosting a White Supremacist blogger by the name of Carlos Cortiglia. It was largely through his efforts that the Jewish Chronicle removed Cortiglia’s posts, but not before Silverstein got screenshots. The UK Jewish Chronicle has not explained why they gave Cortiglia a platform, they seem to be just covering it up (h/t: Jenny):

UK JEWISH CHRONICLE HOSTS BNP WHITE SUPREMACIST BLOGGER

by Richard Silverstein (Tikkun Olam)

UPDATE: I e mailed the Jewish Chronicle editor asking about Cortiglia’s status as a JC blogger.  No one replied, but Ben White has noticed that the BNP leader’s posts are no longer publicly available on the site.  So the response to my inquiry must’ve been to take the posts down.  Their approach seems to hush this up so the embarrassment will not be too public.  Hopefully, we can disabuse them of that notion.

Another JC reader notes that apparently any JC reader can set up their own personal blog on the newspaper’s website, which is what Cortiglia did.  I’ve corrected my post title and text accordingly.  Finally, Cortiglia’s four posts are were still available using these links (here and here).  Whether or not Cortiglia was a featured blogger or a reader-blogger on the JC site, the fact remains that they published four of his posts, made them publicly accessible for eight months, and gave him a platform he wouldn’t otherwise have enjoyed.

UPDATE I: The JC has totally removed Cortiglia’s four blog posts, but we have screenshots for every one.  The JC editor, Stephen Pollard, is lying when he told the Guardian’s Hug Muir that Cortiglia’s blog was taken down in September.  The accompanying screenshot disproves this, as the four posts were on the site and freely accessible till yesterday.  Such lies only exacerbate the offense of the JC hosting BNP PR for eight months.  I don’t understand why, when faced with embarrassment, people don’t admit to the offense and move on.  Lying only focuses more attention on the matter.

*  *  *

Stephen Sizer reports that the UK national Jewish community’s Jewish Chronicle has offered a blog-column toCarlos Cortiglia, a leader of the British National Party, the nation’s leading white supremacist political party.  Cortiglia is the BNP candidate in the London mayoral race.

I asked Electronic Intifada’s Asa Winstanley to put BNP’s politics in a U.S. context, and whether it could be compared to the Tea Party.  He replied that BNP carries more political weight, but its politics are more extreme:

Although they have moved towards a focus on Islamophobia and the counterjihad movement in recent years, their background is in the more traditional European neo-Nazi context and the National Front…

They used to be solidly anti-Semitic and it’s said [their national leader, Nick] Griffin used to deny the Holocaust. In recent years and especially since 9/11, they’ve decided they hate Muslims more than Jews or blacks so have put the focus on agitating against Muslims…

As part of their appeal to unite against Islam, they’ve made more recent attempts to distance themselves from anti-Semitism (although it can’t be far underneath the surface). Interestingly they are also now very pro-Israel.

This seems part of the growing convergence of the European far-right and pro-Israel ultranationalists.  A perfect representative of this is of course Anders Breivik, who’s just gone on trial for murdering 77 young Norwegians.  I’ve also written here about a group of Russian neo-Nazis who were welcomed to the Knesset by two far-right Jewish MKs.  The operative concept here seems to be that the enemy of my Muslim enemy is my friend, even if he’s a Nazi.

But white supremacists?  Is this how low the mainstream UK Jewish leadership are prepared to go?  To make common cause with those who only a decade or so ago admired Adolf Hitler and denied the Holocaust?

On a somewhat related subject, Electronic Intifada reports that the faux progressive UK Jewish rights group, Engage, surreptitiously accepted funding from the UK Jewish Board of Deputies in order to mount an anti-BDS campaign.  All the while Engage touted itself as an independent Jewish progressive voice, when it was a paid shill of the monied pro-Israel interests of the UK Jewish leadership.  When you’ve been doing this as long as I have you develop a sense of smell about groups like this.  They make a pretence of believing one thing and do something entirely different.  Engage is one, as is StandWithUs.

Richard Silverstein: David Yerushalmi, Jew as White Supremacist

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon People with tags , , , , , , on February 28, 2011 by loonwatch

Richard Silverstein

Richard Silverstein’s excellent blog post on the paradox known as David Yerushalmi.

YERUSHALMI: JEW AS WHITE SUPREMACIST

(Richard Silverstein)

I know. It sounds too preposterous to be true. But read on.

Earlier today, Fadi of Kabobfest linked in a comment here to a Muslim Link post by Tariq Nelson about David Yerushalmi’s “infiltration” of a Virginia mosque for the purposes of unmasking its alleged jihadi agenda. Since I know Yerushalmi based on his strident Israeli nationalist views I was having a hard time crediting Nelson’s claims that he espoused “white supremacist” views.

But Larry Cohler Esses has set me straight and proven that a Jew can indeed by a white supremacist as proven by this Yerushalmi essay in Conservative Voice:

While our constitutional republic was specifically designed to insulate our national leaders from the masses, democracy has seeped up through the cracks and corroded everything we once deemed sacred about our political order. Prior to the Civil War, the electorate, essentially white Christian men, had access to local government. It was here, where men shared an intimacy born of family ties, shared religious beliefs, and common cultural signposts, that representative government was meant to touch our daily lives. With the social and cultural revolution which followed the emancipation, man’s relationship to political order was radically nationalized and democratized. Today, there is simply no basis to resist “democracy” and the “open society”.

Note Yerushalmi’s distinction between national and local government. White men were supposed to enjoy democracy only in New England style town meetings with their neighbors, while the affairs of state were to be handled by national leaders free from the messy pressures of the unwashed “masses.” And you’ll notice who Yerushalmi blames for the deterioration in our body politic, Abe Lincoln, the Great Emancipator. That’s right, letting the darkies get the vote was the worst thing those “white Christian men” ever let happen to the Republic.

Fadi also turned me on to some eye-popping Yerushalmi legislative proposals regarding the Arab-American “menace:”

WHEREAS Islam requires all Muslims to actively and passively support the replacement of America’s constitutional republic with a political system based upon Shari’a.

Whereas, adherence to Islam as a Muslim is prima facie evidence of an act in support of the overthrow of the US Government through the abrogation, destruction, or violation of the US Constitution and the imposition of Shari’a on the American People.

HEREFORE, IT IS RESOLVED THAT: It shall be a felony punishable by 20 years in prison to knowingly act in furtherance of, or to support the, adherence to Shari’a.

The Congress of the United States of America shall declare the US at war with the Muslim Nation.

If you spend any time at a Yerushalmi site you feel like you’ve traveled through the Looking Glass where every notion about this country you ever cherished becomes reviled and every notion you ever detested about this country is lauded. It is definitely “through a glass, darkly.”

I’ve wondered whether Yerushalmi’s background as a Ukrainian Jewish immigrant could figure in this. [UPDATE: Yerushalmi is NOT an immigrant but born in the U.S. His ancestors were born in the Ukraine. My errror was due to the misunderstanding of a comment my informant made about Yerushalmi’s background.] Observers of the Israeli political scene note that many Russian immigrants entering politics are either outright anti-democratic or so far right as to be virtually anti-democratic. Avigdor Lieberman is one example and Natan Sharansky is not far behind. Something in the Communist system has so warped these people’s minds toward democracy that they view it as a debased system, a trick designed to harm their interests. Of course, Russia is also known for its right-wing racialist politics and neo-Nazi activism. Witness Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

 

Richard Silverstein on Israeli Settler MK Nissim Zeev and Mike Huckabee

Posted in Anti-Loons, Loon Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2011 by loonwatch

A great piece by Richard Silverstein.

ISRAELI SETTLER MK TO HUCKABEE: ‘WE’RE CONNECTED TO THIS LAND NO LESS THAN YOUR INDIANS’

(TikkunOlam)

Mike Huckabee and Israel’s radical settler movement are almost always fodder for a good laugh.  I thank Ofer Neiman for providing one in the form of an Arutz Sheva article, in which settler MK Nissim Zeev brags about his friendship with Mike Huckabee, who he brought to Israel and hosted last week.  Among the other things Huckabee did was tour and nod approvingly at the Judaization project in East Jerusalem’s Palestinian neighborhoods.

In this photo, he’s pictured addressing a settler yeshiva established with the lucre of Miami-based bingo magnate Irving Moskowitz.  Moskowitz is the very one who stole the Palestinian Shepherd Hotel and partially demolished it last week so he can move in some settler families.  I guess no one told Huckabee that this project flies directly in the face of current U.S. policy as does supporting settler thugs guilty of promoting violence and hooliganism against Palestinians and Jews alike.

But I reserve the biggest laugh for Zeev’s recounting of his discussions with his pal, Mike, who the reporter erroneously credits with being a U.S. senator:

I got together with him to pursue two issues: [international] recognition of Jewish refugees from Arab lands and recognition by the UN of Israel with the status of “indigenous.”  It’s unacceptable that after 2,000 years of exile, we are still characterized as “occupiers.”  Since 2007, there are peoples recognized by the UN as indigenous.  The U.S. also recognizes Indians as indigenous and if it won’t return to them their ancestral lands it will offer reparations.  We too require similar recognition.  Our connection to the land appears in the Bible and we are connected to this land no less than the Indians.

In fact, I’d suggest as a terrific photo-op that Mike bring together a settler chief and an Indian chief and they can both compare war stories.  Maybe the settlers can set up shop on a few reservations and teach tribal leaders who to expand their “settlements” by annexing land belonging to white folk, and force the U.S. government to recognize their land thefts.  I’m sure that’ll go over big in Washington.

Ya gotta hand it to Zeev though, he’s a real joker:

MK Zeev noted that Israel has many friends in the UN and Congress who have only to be asked to make the changes he’s proposing.  I visited Congress, where we have many friends, and many told me it was unfortunate that Israel didn’t make this demand [of Congress].

Zeev said that Huckabee promised to do everything in his power to bring this proposal before the UN…

Go ahead, Mike.  What’s stopping you?  You’re a U.S. senator, aren’t you?  Bring forward a ‘sense of the senate’ resolution recognizing Israeli Jews as indigenous.  Maybe one of the long-lost Indian tribes?  And while you’re at it let’s get Congress to allocate a few billions in reparation for Jews who suffered an “Arab Holocaust” and were expelled from their native lands.  A Jewish Nakba.  Of our very own.  Why should only Arabs get to have one?  Just doesn’t seem fair.  If they get to suffer, why not us as well?

Mike’s not above a little mirth as well.  Among the pithy statements he made while in the Holy Land preparing for Armageddon were that he believed in a Palestinian state, just not in Israel.  Which at first glance might appear to be a conventional endorsement of the two state solution…until you realize that Huckabee embraces the settler narrative that all of Greater Israel including Palestine is Israel.  So he’s in effect telling Palestinians and his own U.S. government to move Palestine somewhere like, say Uganda.  Where have we heard that one before?

 

Anti-Loons of the Year: 2010

Posted in Anti-Loons, Feature with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2010 by loonwatch
From Molly Norris, one of the Anti-Loons of the Year

We reviewed the Year in Islamophobia, and it was a crazy year. However, we noted that at the end of the day there was “hope.” There were those willing to stand up, take a stand firmly against hate directed towards Muslims and Islam. Here we recount some of the best anti-loons of 2010. There are many more whom we may have omitted and who deserve equal attention and recognition.

Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald published countless articles on Salon.com in which he took to task the complicity of the media in regard to Islamophobia, the double standards that exist when Muslims commit crimes as opposed to when non-Muslims do and the stark difference in coverage. He was outspoken on the root causes of terrorism and the willful neglect and negligence of our government and politicians when it comes to honestly discussing the causes of terrorism, namely — occupation. Greenwald’s colleagues Justin Elliot and Alex Pareene also contributed significantly to the discussion and had great coverage of the tidal wave of Islamophobiapalooza.

Jon Stewart

The Daily Show brought us plenty of laughs but also penetrating analysis and insight into the state of affairs in America today. Stewart’s mock news show was hailed for bringing more news to us than mainstream media. He was all over the coverage of the Park51 mosque controversy, and even before then he was seminal in covering and satirizing the rhetoric on Fox News, amongst Tea Partiers, as well hate crimes that were rising all over the country. His seminal “Rally to restore Sanity” which he co-hosted with Stephen Colbert was a watershed moment and though its detractors tried to minimize its importance, it frankly eclipsed Glenn Beck’s ghoulish “Rally to restore Honor.” His show also coined the word of the year, “Islamophboiapalooza.”

Stephen Colbert

The Colbert Report is a show that many are in love with, the host’s over the top adulation of himself combined with the incisive satire and biting sarcasm that no doubt turns Bill O’ Reilly and others in the Right-wing into a heaping pile of anger during the weekdays beamed onto our screens and left a residue of warmth and compassion. Colbert was everywhere, Capitol Hill for hearings on immigration, on the Mall for his “Rally to Restore Sanity and or March to Keep Fear Alive.” His commitment to justice led him to take on the pervasive atmosphere of anti-Muslim hysteria and in doing so he contributed to restoring sanity and dispelling fear.

Reza Aslan

Aslan is the man that Islamophobes love to hate. They can’t stand him. Robert Spencer published dozens of blog posts on him alone. Aslan has been vocal in the mainstream media about the anti-Muslim Islamophobia that swept America in 2010 and its main progenitors. He has delivered speeches, engaged in debates, written articles and books all towards attempting to foster understanding, and his implicit nod to Loonwatch on the Colbert Report was much appreciated.

Max Blumenthal

Max Blumenthal’s pieces on Pamela Geller, SIOA, video footage of rabid anti-Muslim rallies, and coverage of the Great Islamophobic crusade bring him into the spotlight as one of the leading anti-Loons of 2010. Blumenthal is also notable for being one of the first investigative journalists to quote and link to Loonwatch.

Lee Baca

Sheriff Lee Baca is a tough as nails LA County Sheriff who went toe-to-toe with a right-wing republican Representative over the politicians attempts to intimidate Muslims and cast Muslim leaders as affiliated with terrorist organizations.

Rep. Mark Souder (R-Ind.) impugned Baca during a House Homeland Security subcommittee meeting, saying the sheriff had allied himself with a Muslim American group that engaged in “radical” speech by going to its fundraisers. Baca not only attacked that description of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, but he also told Souder he would be fine with going to more fundraisers for the group.

“If he thinks I’m afraid of what he said, I will go to 10 fundraisers because he said it,” Baca declared Tuesday afternoon, just a few hours before a town hall meeting with the Muslim American community.

Actually, Baca said, he’s been to only two fundraisers for the organization in four years, but that, he added, is not the point. What rankled Baca — aside from what he took as Souder personally challenging the sheriff’s patriotism — was what he saw as the congressman’s inaccurate assessment of the group.

“In other words, he’s an amateur intelligence officer,” Baca said.

Several times a year, the Muslim American Homeland Security Congress — an independent group set up to advise Baca and forge a partnership between the department and Muslim Americans — and the Sheriff’s Department’s Muslim Community Affairs Unit hold forums to discuss issues. The one Tuesday night was scheduled before the dust-up in Washington offered a charged topic for discussion.

When Baca spoke at the Tuesday event, he was given a standing ovation by the 75 or so people at the Omar ibn Al-Khattab Foundation near USC.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Mayor Bloomberg stood up at a crucial moment during the Park51 (Ground Zero Mosque) controversy and didn’t back down. He gave an impassioned defense of religious liberty and freedom in a historic speech during the firestorm and took a lot of heat for it from people in his party.

Honorable Mentions:

-Wajahat Ali

-Richard Silverstein

-Keith Olbermann

-Rachel Maddow

-Molly Norris

-Cenk Uygur

-Lesley Hazelton

 

Mark Halawa, Aish’s Manchurian Muslim

Posted in Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , on December 7, 2009 by loonwatch

Richard Silverstein, has this excellent piece up at his site Tikun Olam, on the newest right-wing “conversion” creation; Mark Halawa. Halawa, published a piece on how he was in the dark his whole life about his Jewish roots and now is a firm Likud-Israel backer. He published his “testimonial” on the Aish HaTorah website, Aish HaTorah you might remember was the organization that funded the anti-Muslim film Obsession. There used to be a great website that debunked the Obsession movie, hopefully it will be running again, Jews on First also have a great rebuttal.

Mark Halawa, Aish’s Manchurian Muslim by Richard Silverstein

A few days ago I received a seemingly polite, deferential e mail from someone named Mark Halawa telling me I might be interested in a post he’d just written.  When I saw the website I knew there was a lot more there than met the eye.  He had published at the Aish HaTorah website.  Anyone who knows anything about Aish or me knows that we don’t exactly see eye to eye on anything related to Judaism or Israel.  So I realized there must be something hinky about Mark’s e mail:

My name is Mark, and I’m very much impressed with your message.

Below is a link for my article that was published on Aish.com last week. Feel at liberty to use it, and let me know how I can be of help.

When I read his post I knew there was.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of this when I initially received his e mail and assumed it was a personal message.  On further review, this likely was an e-mail spam blast sent to scores or hundreds of sites.  The wording is vague enough that it could be sent as a mass mailing.  So it’s possible Halawa didn’t even know who he was dealing with when he e mailed me.

It seems that Mark is following in a long line of dutiful “moderate” (or “good”) Muslims who far-right pro-Israel groups use to impeach Islam.  The list is long and fascinating: Wafa Sultan, Nonie Darwish, Tawfiq Hamid, Walid Shoebat, Zuhdi Jasser, etc.  What all these have in common is that they’re trotted out by Aish HaTorah via their Islam hate movies.  Being a relatively new recruit, Halawa hasn’t yet been featured.  But he will be.  If not in a movie, you can be sure he’ll be visiting a Hillel or synaoguge near you warning about the evils of Islam and the wonders of Judaism Aish-style.

Mark Halawa dreaming of a Third Temple 

Mark Halawa dreaming of a Third Temple

Since we know that a good number of the Muslim turncoats especially Walid Shoebat are frauds it’s useful to dwell on a few of Mark’s claims.  Now, I’m not claiming that Mark is one.  But the possibility exists based on previous bad faith shown by Aish and similar groups using these people for their own political ends.

Though this story is less lurid, it does remind me somewhat of the account of the so-called former Hezbollah intelligence agent turned Haredi Jew and follower of one of Israel’s most racist anti-Arab rabbis, Rabbi Shmuel Eliahu.  Now that one was a real whopper!

Mark, who was raised as a secular Muslim in Kuwait, claims that his maternal grandmother is Jewish.  On meeting an alleged Orthodox former philosophy professor, the latter tells him that means he is Jewish.  I’m trying to check out the halacha on this claim.  Of course, Orthodox Judaism is based on matrilineal descent, but I’ve never heard of some claiming to be Jewish based on a grandmother being Jewish.  At best, this is a very tenuous claim to being Jewish since his mother clearly wasn’t raised Jewish.

But the proof he posits for his grandmother’s Jewishness seems flimsy:

I recalled how my grandmother had a funny name on her documents, Mizrachi, which I never heard before. She also had a small prayer book with Hebrew letters, and she prayed in the dark crying. (I thought the Wailing Wall was so named because crying was a part of prayer.)

Aside from a vague family legend, my grandmother never mentioned anything about being Jewish — but now the pieces were fitting into place…

I went to my room and called my mother. She rebuffed the story, saying, “Don’t listen to people like that. We are Muslims and that’s that.”

I decided to call my grandmother myself and bring up the subject.

I beat around the bush a bit — after all, she’d been denying it for the past 50 years — and then finally blurted out, “Grandma, are you Jewish?”

She didn’t answer the question directly, but she started crying and spoke about the years of Arab-Israeli conflict. She told me how her brother Zaki had been killed in Jerusalem before the rebirth of the State. To me that was sufficient confirmation of her Jewishness and I decided to leave it at that.

Well that seals it, her brother was killed in 1948, therefore she must be Jewish.  There may be more family history here that he’s not telling us, but this isn’t in the least convincing.  If this guy isn’t lying, he’s really digging deep to prove something he desperately wants to be true.

This passage too seems suspect to me.  Keep in mind that he’s describing a supposedly Jewish Palestinian girl in the pre-1948 period falling in love with a Palestinian Arab in Jordanian army uniform:

My mother’s parents met in Jerusalem when my grandfather, an Arab from the West Bank, was serving in the Jordanian army fighting the Zionists. He was 18 years old and my grandmother was 16. Her father ran a school in Jerusalem — the same school where she would jump off the wall to meet my handsome, uniformed grandfather. They fell in love, got married, and lived for a number of years in Shechem (Nablus).

How likely would it be for any Jewish girl to fall in love with a Jordanian soldier “fighting Zionists?”  Again, I can’t say for sure that this is a sack of lies, but it sure smells funny.

Halawa claims that his suspicions about his grandmother’s origins made him predisposed to feel sympathetic to Israel:

Whenever we were on vacation in Amman, Jordan, I used to constantly watch the Israeli channel — when my parents weren’t around. My favorite was the Israeli national anthem, and I would stay up late waiting to hear them play it at the end of the TV transmission.

How touching that Mark knew at that early an age he was an Arab Zionist.  But explain to me this, Mark: how would this have gone over in a household in which your father was allegedly a Pan-Arab Nasserist??  Once again, there’s something wrong here.

The scene Mark describes of visiting a synagogue for the first time is absolutely priceless.  I tell you the guy should be writing for television.  He takes one look at the Black man, Indian and Egyptian all praying together and pfffft! he knows this is where he’s meant to be his whole life.  And don’t you know the tears fell like rain (even I almost shed one about as crocodile as the ones he was shedding).

There is another tell-tale sign that all might not be well in Mark’s story.  Keep in mind this is the first time he’s ever visited a synagogue and he presumably knows no Hebrew:

“I can’t believe I’m here, singing and praying in Hebrew. I could never have imagined it.”

Nor can I.  No one who has never been to a Jewish religious service and knows no Hebrew could “sing and pray in Hebrew” the first time he’s done it.  For someone to master the prayers and the language requires years of deep immersion.  The language is difficult to master and quite archaic in places.  It simply beggars belief that he could feel so at home in the language and music of the Shabbat service from the get go.

In the following passage, you finally get a glimpse of what Mark’s selling and it’s little more than the religious far-right anti-Muslim snake oil:

In the Arab world there are tons of misconceptions and misinformation regarding Israel. So I am working to develop a program to educate Arabs about Jews and Judaism, to dissolve the stereotypes propagated by the Muslim media and schools. I hope that my unique background can help bridge some of that divide.

Indeed.  Before Mark dissolves stereotypes and starts “truth-telling” to Muslims about Judaism he might want to come clean about himself and dispense with the fantasy he’s spun in this story.  Mark’s “program” reminds me of why I called him the “Manchurian Muslim” above.  For groups like Aish HaTorah, discoveries (or frauds) like Mark are pure gold.  They are secret weapons which Jews turn around and launch against the Muslims to undermine their cause.  They also serve to warm the cockles of the hearts of Jews who need to believe in the inherent superiority of Judaism to Islam.

Surprisingly, Mark addresses the Israeli-Palestinian conflict only obliquely and refers to it in terms that are not at all characteristic of the pro-Israel far right.  Again, either Mark hasn’t quite drunk the Aish Kool Aid, or he’s dissembling since this is far too Kumbaya for a real Aish follower:

It often seems like the Arab-Israeli conflict is intractable. Yet I believe in today’s world, there is a real opportunity for a breakthrough. Arabs today have a more universal education, which makes them more open and curious. Also they are meeting Israelis and Jews in their travels around the world, which breaks down misconceptions. And as we saw during the recent protests in Iran, many young people in the Muslim world are yearning for reform. On top of all this, they have high-speed Internet access which opens up all kinds of new avenues of communication, and the possibility of forming new friendships unrestricted by borders or political agendas. Perhaps this can be the basis of a grassroots movement to mend relations and hopefully one day achieve peace.

And perhaps Alan Dershowitz is Anne Coulter in drag.

Mark does have one classic Orthodox right-wing obsession–Arab men on the prowl for Jewish women.  According to Mark, it’s an epidemic:

The other issue that needs urgent attention is intermarriage in Israel. Unfortunately, a story like my grandmother’s is not so rare. Many young Jewish women are wooed by Arab men and brought back to live in their villages.

“Many” of course is an extreme exaggeration, which seems to characterize Mark’s entire story.  But it is true that for the Israeli far-right miscegenation is a deeply disturbing phenomenon much like it was in the Jim Crow South.  It’s also instructive that Meir Kahane used to rail about precisely the same issue, while concealing that he had an adulterous affair with an Italian-American woman who killed herself when he abandoned her.

Finally, this e-mail reply from Mark to the first e-mail I sent him, in which I warned him that Aish was a nasty organization, brought forth this reply containing some uncharacteristically naughty language for a supposed Orthodox Jew:

That’s a horrible message, Richard. You have lots of  hate blinding your eyes, and you run a site called Tikkun Olam!!!

You’ve exposed the real person you are; calling my people Nasty!

Its unfortunate, people like you use our religion for their own advancement, and financial gain.

Not a single Jew I’ve met in the past 7 years, ever spoke or incited against another religions.. Islam or other.

But here you are (a christian or messianic shit most probably) the first bigot! That knows nothing else but fowl [sic] thoughts and evil, for the lack of better education. You’re the nastiest person I’ve heard from, you’re [sic] own family probably hates you. What a scam!!!

Half of me wanted to report him to his Aish rebbe for fowl language!  But I was especially tickled by his accusation that I was “christian messianic shit” and that I was exploiting my religion for “financial gain.”

Curious also that Mark claims that he’s never met anyone at Aish who “incited against another religion.”  Keep in mind this is the same Aish (through its subsidiary Clarion Fund) which produced the two most hateful films about Islam in the past few decades: Obsession and Third Jihad.  Aish and their fellow partners in religious holy war, Ateret Kohanim want to rebuild the Third Temple where the Dome of the Rock now stands.  No incitement there either.  I don’t know whether Mark is a brainwashed ex-Muslim or an out-and-out fraud.  But whatever it is, he’s yet another sorry example of the Jewish religious right attempting to perpetrate fraud on any gullible parties who’ll listen to the message.

 

Tawfik Hamid: The Shemp of the Three Stooges

Posted in Feature, Loon-at-large with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 6, 2009 by loonwatch
Tawfik Hamid

Tawfik Hamid

In one of our earliest features we wrote about the Three Stooges of Islamophobia: Walid Shoebat, Zachariah Anani and Kamal Saleem who represent Larry, Curly, and Mo, but in the same way as there is Shemp, there is also Tawfik Hamid.

Tawfik Hamid, like his counterparts, describes himself as an “ex-terrorist” but as we will come to see his claims are as vacuous and silly as the other three.  The difference between the other three and Tawfik Hamid is that the other three claim to be converts to Evangelical Christianity while Hamid vacillates between claiming to be not only a Muslim and an Islamic Reformer but also a follower of Judaism and Christianity and in other instances a non religious person.

In 2007, Hamid served as a keynote speaker for the neo-Conservative  Intelligence Summit and now sits on their advisory board. Amongst the other speakers at the summit, such as Steven Emerson, Joe Kaufman, Nonie Darwish and Walid Phares, there was David Gaubatz, a white supremacist, who led the now defunct Mapping Sharia project (under the tutelage of Society of Americans for National Existence or SANE) which stated that Black people are predisposed to violence,

Is there something unique about the Black American…that leads him to murder so disproportionately and to most often kill and victimize his own? Do we see patterns of Black culture that arise out of Africa and the wanton murder of blacks by blacks there? Why have the colonized blacks of the African continent, after having acquired their freedom and independence, so willingly slaughtered their own and live in despicable disease and squalor despite a land of enormous riches while Indians of the Indian sub-continent have successfully moved from British rule to democracy and relative civility even in a country that still maintains social inequalities as a fact of their culture?

Gaubatz, in 2007, was a leading member of SANE which declared on its now password protected site that, “adherence to Islam as a Muslim is prima facie evidence of an act in support of the overthrow of the US.” It wants the government to ban adherence to Islam and put Muslims under surveillance as stated in its rules, “It shall be a felony punishable by 20 years in prison to knowingly act in furtherance of, or to support the, adherence to Islam.”

If this sounds unbelievably deranged, that’s because it is. We don’t make these facts up. Why would any sane, normal Muslim let alone Muslim reformer as Tawfik proclaims himself to be — speak at a hostile summit in which one of the participants wants to ban him from practicing his faith and make it a punishable offense? One answer is that Tawfik isn’t a Muslim and in fact hates Islam and Muslims which would also mean he is a charlatan. The other answer, which is related to the first, is that this is just part of the strange and twisted world that is produced when those chasing the Islamophobic cash cow converge together and let their strange and contradictory pathologies manifest like an insane asylum having a picnic (apologies to insane asylum’s).

Hamid says that he is a former member of the terrorist organization GI (Gamaa’ Islamiyya) and was a friend of Ayman Al-Zawahri, the number two man in Al-Qaeda. A claim that is not corroborated by any independent sources or governmental law agency. Again the million dollar question is, If this guy is a former terrorist then why aren’t the CIA and FBI all over this guy, watching his movements and interrogating him? Wouldn’t it be a point of interest for our government that someone who was a friend of Ayman Al-Zawahari, the number two of Al-Qaeda, the organization that attacked us on 9/11 is roaming around the country giving speeches? Either Tawfik is lying or our government has missed a big one.

On his new website, Tawfik identifies himself as “a Muslim by faith…Christian by the Spirit…a Jew by heart…and above all I am a human being.” This is a sharp departure from his previous statements in which he stated, “I am a Muslim by birth, a Christian by spirit, a Jew by heart, and above all I am a human being.” Someone must have told Tawfik that it might help his claim to be a “Muslim reformer” if he actually claims Islam as his “faith” instead of just something he was “born” into.

Richard Silverstein, who runs Tikun Olam, did a piece on Hamid after getting an email from Walid Shoebat’s list-serve that Tawfik Hamid would be speaking at Georgetown University. In it he devastatingly highlights the contradictions as well as obvious hate that Tawfik Hamid has for Islam and Muslims.

In Richard’s piece we also see a description of Tawfik on Shoebat’s website that is not there anymore. Notice the similarities between the biographies of Tawfik and Walid,

Here’s what Shoebat’s website tells you about Hamid:

Born in Egypt to a secular Muslim family. At the age of 16 young Hamid started to search for answers to the universal questions about creation and life’s meaning.

Later on, Tawfik started to read the bible as an attempt to criticise it in the ongoing religious debates between Muslims and Christians, but ended up studying the Bible with increased vigour and genuine interest.

If you compare that last paragraph to Shoebat’s own biography at the same site you have to wonder whether a single person is writing their ad copy:

Walid studied the Tanach (Jewish Bible) in a challenge to convert his wife to Islam. Six months later, after intense study, Walid realized that everything he had been taught about Jews was a lie. Convinced he was on the side of evil, he became an advocate for his former enemy.

It seems that these two “ex-terrorists” weren’t creative enough to come up with differing stories and instead didn’t think anyone would see the similarities in their testimonials. As Richard wrote, “you have to wonder whether a single person is writing their ad copy.”

Tawfik Hamid at the time of Richard’s article was charging $13, 500 for “speaking out against Islamic Fundamentalism that prevails in the world today.”

Yet it seems that Tawfik like his Christian Zionist counterparts doesn’t stop at speaking out against Islamic Fundamentalism but instead also speaks out against mainstream Muslims. For instance on the Orla Barry Radio Show he stated that,

There are different degrees of evil [within Islam]. Jemaah Islamiya represents the active evil or active terrorists let us call them who are ready to commit violent acts and all such atrocities. But the majority of Muslim are all passive terrorists. They believe in this evil. They support it either by money or emotionally they are not against it.

According to Tawfik the majority of Muslims are what he terms passive terrorists. This reveals a great contempt for Muslims who he views as nothing more than terrorists in one form or another. For him most Muslims are not law abiding individuals and even if they don’t commit violence or preach it then secretly they are still terrorists. This trope that is used by Islamophobes pretty much assumes Muslims are all guilty before proven innocent and that they are inherently violent.

Tawfik’s bumbling and inconsistent story in which at times he is a Muslim reformer, at other times a Muslim only by birth, then a Christian and a Jew or his declarations that most of his coreligionists are passive terrorists, his sharing the stage with white supremacists and well known Islamophobes and becoming a member of their advisory council is hard to follow let alone comprehend. It is contradictory and as we see quite lucrative — he fits in perfectly as Shemp to the Larry, Curly and Mo of Islamophobia.