WASHINGTON — President Obama delivered a strong defense on Friday night of a proposed Muslim community center and mosque near ground zero in Manhattan, using a White House dinner celebrating Ramadan to proclaim that “as a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country.”
After weeks of avoiding the high-profile battle over the center — his press secretary, Robert Gibbs, said last week that the president did not want to “get involved in local decision-making” — Mr. Obama stepped squarely into the thorny debate.
“I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. Ground zero is, indeed, hallowed ground,” the president said in remarks prepared for the annual White House iftar, the sunset meal breaking the day’s fast.
But, he continued: “This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are.”
In hosting the iftar, Mr. Obama was following a White House tradition that, while sporadic, dates to Thomas Jefferson, who held a sunset dinner for the first Muslim ambassador to the United States. My knowledge of US history is not on a level wth my knowledge of the history of my own country, but did Thomas Jefferson not use that occasion to protest about the attacks on US shipping by the Barbary Corsairs, the failure of that peaceful means of defence leading to the successful military expedition to Algiers of 1806? Hardly setting a trend in any event. President George W. Bush hosted iftars annually.
Aides to Mr. Obama say privately that he has always felt strongly about the proposed community center and mosque, but the White House did not want to weigh in until local authorities made a decision on the proposal, planned for two blocks from the site of the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center.
In New York, Rick A. Lazio, a Republican candidate for governor and a former member of the House of Representatives, issued a statement responding to Mr. Obama’s remarks, saying that the president was still “not listening to New Yorkers.”
“With over 100 mosques in New York City, this is not an issue of religion, but one of safety and security,” he said.
In his remarks, Mr. Obama distinguished between the terrorists who plotted the 9/11 attacks and Islam. “Al Qaeda’s cause is not Islam — it is a gross distortion of Islam,” the president said, adding, “In fact, Al Qaeda has killed more Muslims than people of any other religion, and that list includes innocent Muslims who were killed on 9/11.”
Noting that “Muslim Americans serve with honor in our military,” Mr. Obama said that at next week’s iftar at the Pentagon, “tribute will be paid to three soldiers who gave their lives in Iraq and now rest among the heroes of Arlington National Cemetery.”
Sharif el-Gamal, the developer on the project, said, “We are deeply moved and tremendously grateful for our president’s words.”
A building on the site of the proposed center is already used for prayers, and some worshipers there on Friday night discussed the president’s remarks.
On 9/11 2001, Muslim jihadists butchered 3000 Americans. Nine years later, a Muslim Imam wants to build a 13 story monument two blocks away from the site of that carnage.
Many Americans, particularly the New Yorkers and the families of the victims of that tragedy are outraged at the insensitivity, bordering arrogance of Faisal Abdul Rauf, the imam behind this project. Rauf says it is not a mosque but an Islamic center. The name does not change anything. Whatever you call it, it is of extreme poor judgment.
In 2004, Rauf published a book calling it “What is Right with Islam is What is Right with America.” In that book he argued “The American political structure is Sharia compliant. For America to score even higher on the ‘Islamic’ or ‘Sharia compliance’ scale America would need to do two things. Invite the voices of all religions in shaping the nations’ practical life, and allow religious communities more leeway to judge among themselves according to their own laws.”
The truth is that the American constitution and the Sharia law are opposite of each other. It is interesting however, how Rauf composed his statement. He did not say that the Sharia is in compliance with the US constitution, but the other way round. By doing so he wanted to establish the superiority of the Sharia over the US constitution.
The fact is that the American Constitution and the Sharia differ fundamentally. For example, the Sharia does not recognize
Freedom of speech,
Freedom of conscience
Equality of all people before the law
Equality of the rights of women with men
Of course, as an Imam he can’t reject the Sharia. He will reject the constitution when not in compliance with the Sharia.
There is nothing in the constitution of the USA that is in agreement with the Sharia law. You cannot find two documents more diametrically opposed to each other.
Think about stoning the adulterers, killing the apostates, hanging or beheading the homosexuals, chopping the hands of the thief, imposing a dress code on people and flogging them for consuming alcohol. These are all part of the Sharia law and against the Constitution. You can’t serve two masters. Muslims will have to either submit to the Sharia law or to the US constitution. If they submit to one, they are in violation of the other.
But the disturbing part in Rauf’s statement is the fact that he compares Islamic laws with the secular laws of America. This is proof that his goal is to supplant the latter with the former. Statements such as this make it clear that the ambition of Muslims in America is political.
Rauf ignores the fact the in the USA religion and state are kept apart. When he says “America would need invite the voices of all religions in shaping the nations’ practical life, and allow religious communities more leeway to judge among themselves according to their own laws,” he is not talking about Jews, Christians or other religions. In fact adherents of these faiths want to keep state and religion separate. Rauf wants these rights solely for Muslims. He aspires to convert America into an Islamic theocracy.
The Sharia law does not just regulate the rights of the Muslims but also the non-Muslims must submit to it. How is that going to work according to this imam? Well that part will have to wait until Muslims become the majority and convert America into a Sharia compliant state, like Saudi Arabia. Then no one has any right anymore.
As far as Muslims are concerned the Sharia law is from God and it supersedes all constitutions that are written by men.
The implication is grave. It means that Muslims who uphold the Sharia law are a subversive group whose aim is to destroy our system of government. Muslims present Islam as a religion whereas their agenda is political and subversive.
When in 2007, Rauf published his book in the Muslims world, he did not call it What is Right with America is What is Right with Islam. He called it A Call to Prayer from the WTC rubbles: Islamic Da’wa from the Heart of America Post 9/11.
This is the kind of talk that resonates in Muslim world. The message that Rauf wants to send to Americans is that the Sharia is very similar to their constitution and hence they should not fear Islam. But his message to his fellow coreligionists is different. To them he is announcing that a da’wa is being issued to Americans from the rubbles of 9/11.
What is Da’wa? Da’wa means invitations to submit to Islam. Jihad has two phases. The first phase is the invitation. Disbelievers are to be warned first and given a chance to submit. If they refuse the next stage is qital (fighting). Da’wa and qital are integral parts of jihad.
The Cordova House will be the ultimatum, a line drawn in the sand for the Americans. After the da’wa is issued, Americans will have two choices: They must either submit to Islam or face more terrorism.
What is in the name?
The choice of the name is also significant. Cordova House may mean nothing to Americans, but for Muslims it is fraught with meaning.
Cordova is a city in south Spain. Muslims armies invaded Spain in 711, massacring countless people. Then they converted the biggest church in Cordova into a mosque.
Building mosques over churches, synagogues and temples of the conquered people began during the life of Muhammad who converted the temple of the Arabs in Mecca into an Islamic mosque.
Muslims have been doing the same ever since. Numerous Hindu temples, churches, synagogues and Zoroastrian temples were converted into mosques. The objective is twofold” To humiliate the defeated people and to establish the supremacy of Islam.
The mosque over the temple of Solomon in Jerusalem is one example. When Muslims conquered the Byzantine Empire they converted the biggest church in the Christian empire into a mosque. In India over 2000 mosques are built on Hindu temples.
A mosque, a place from which da’wa is issued, built over the rubbles of the WTC is a hint to Muslims that jihad is on the march and that Islam is advancing and conquering new territories. The conquest of Cordova ushered Muslims into an era of opulence, the so called Golden Age of Islam. It is therefore a symbol of Islamic conquest and supremacy, which Muslims recall nostalgically.
Who is Faisal Abdul Rauf?
Imam Rauf tries to present himself as a moderate Muslim. Far from it! He has made statements that show he has very radical views. Right after 9/11 Rauf blamed the victims and said, “United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened on 9/11.”
He also said “We [Americans] have been an accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world. In fact, in the most direct sense, Osama bin Laded was made in the USA.”
Rauf supports Muslim Brotherhood, the same group that wants to destroy America from within, and has nerve condemned Hezbollah or Hamas terrorist organizations.
In October 2009, the Former Muslims United sent Rauf and his wife the Pledge of Freedom that states Muslims should not be killed if they choose to leave Islam. The couple refused to sign it. So much for their tolerance! Also he has never made it public where the $100 million dollars financing comes from.
There are 2300 mosques in the USA and over 200 in New York. There is no need for another one, especially in the proximity of where Muslims massacred thousands of Americans. Why this place? The choice of the Ground Zero is no accident. Muslims have chosen this spot to a) thumb their nose at Americans and at the families of the victims and b) send a message to Muslim world announcing Islam’s victory over the “Great Satan.”
The Cordova House will have a huge symbolic significance for Muslims and it encourages them to enlist in jihad and make the ultimate objective of Islam, which is world domination come true.
Rauf is not a man of peace. He has made very inflammatory comments, such as “one man’s terrorist is another man’s hero.”
In an article entitled, “Sharing the Essence of Our Beliefs,” published in the Al-Ghad Newspaper in Jordan, 5/9/2009, translated by Walid Shoebat, Rauf wrote:
If someone in the Middle East cries out, “where is the law”, he knows that the law exists. The only law that the Muslim needs exists already in the Koran and the Hadith.
People asked me right after the 9/11 attack as to why do movements with political agendas carry [Islamic] religious names? Why call it ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ or ‘Hezbollah (Party of Allah)’ or ‘Hamas’ or ‘Islamic Resistance Movement’? I answer them this—that the trend towards Islamic law and justice begins in religious movements, because secularism has failed to deliver what the Muslim wants, which is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Rauf is not talking about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all the people. According to Islam these rights belong only to Muslims. The non-Muslims must suffer defeat, ignominy and dhimmitude.
Follow the Money Trail
Why would Mayor Bloomberg and the majority of the council members of the New York City support such an offensive project? The answer is, follow the money trail.
I am not accusing anyone, but my hunch tells me to be suspicious of anyone who strongly defends Islamic interests over the interests of his own country.
The Saudi and the Iranian regimes spend large sums of money buying the loyalty of politicians and the academicians in the west. The western supporters of Islam are not often mere useful idiots. In many cases they are well paid traitors.
An example that comes to mind is the US congressman Mark D. Siljander who began his career as a zealous evangelical Christian and then went on to write a book, A Deadly Misunderstanding, to “bridge the Muslim-Christian divide.” He argued that Christian and Muslim religious texts are surprisingly compatible, when studied in their original languages. This is of course a blatant lie. The truth came out on July 7, 2010, when Siljander pleaded guilty to two counts of receiving money from Muslims and supporting Muslim terrorists. He was indicted in January 2008 on charges of money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
Throughout the history, Islamic forces have deceived their victims, making them think Islam and Muslims are peace-loving, only later to find the opposite. Another example of this deception/treason happened in A.D. 635 when Damascus fell to Muslims because they deceived and bribed its Bishop who opened the city gates at night.
Anytime a politician defends Islam under the guise of “tolerance” and “community cohesion,” I think about money. Chances are you’ll find a skeleton in their closet. I am not accusing anyone in particular. I don’t know the facts. But I won’t be surprised if one day we find out that the politicians who defend the construction of this Islam Trojan horse on Ground Zero were paid for their support.
Mayor Bloomberg calls patriotic Americans who don’t want this mosque, “un-American.” He should know that it is very American to defend the American constitution against any creeping alien ideology whose adherents do not hide their intention to bring down America and “sabotage its miserable house from within.” What is un-American is to open the gates of the country to its sworn enemies. Whether the Mayor is bribed, or he is merely a useful idiot is not for me to decide. It is one or the other and in either case he is not qualfied to be the mayor of New York. But one thing is certain and that is his support for Islamists against the interests of America is very un-American.
"The first Muslim ambassador to the United States, from Tunisia, was hosted by President Jefferson, who arranged a sunset dinner for his guest because it was Ramadan --- making it the first known iftar at the White House, more than 200 years ago." -- Barack Obama, speaking at the “Annual Iftar Dinner” at the White House
See below for the entry in the Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia on this temporary envoy whom Obama describes as the "first Muslim ambassador to the United States" and pick up, from a few details, a familiar scent. Neither Jefferson, nor any of the Americans involved, thought they were giving an "Iftar dinner" but simply dinner, at a time convenient for this envoy,accommodating him because he represented a primitive and barbaric Muslim statelet on the northern littoral of North Africa, was now attacking American shipping -- the protection of the Royal Navy having been withdrawn at independence -- and American ships and seamen seized, as were other Christian ships and seamen who did not have enough protection. Barack Obama's attempt to re-write history here, just a little, by calling Sidi Soliman Mellimelli an "ambassador" which implies to today's listener a permanent posting,
A salute from the guns of the frigate USS Congress announced the arrival of the Tunisian Envoy. Sidi Soliman Mellimelli and his attendants were greeted at the Washington Navy Yard on the morning of November 30, 1805, by full military honors and a crowd of curious onlookers. The curious were not to be disappointed by the appearance of the first Muslim envoy to the United States – a large figure with a full dark beard dressed in robes of richly embroidered fabrics and a turban of fine white muslin.
Over the next six months, this exotic representative from a distant and unfamiliar culture would add spice to the Washington social season but also test the diplomatic abilities of President Thomas Jefferson and his administration.
The crisis with Tunis erupted when the USS Constitution captured Tunisian vessels attempting to run the American blockade of Tripoli. The bey of Tunis threatened war and sent Mellimelli to the United States to negotiate full restitution for the captured vessels and to barter for tribute.
Jefferson balked at paying tribute but accepted the expectation that the host government would cover all expenses for such an emissary. He arranged for Mellimelli and his 11 attendants to be housed at a Washington hotel, and rationalized that the sale of the four horses and other fine gifts sent by the bey of Tunis would cover costs. Mellimelli’s request for “concubines” as a part of his accommodations was left to Secretary of State James Madison.. Jefferson assured one senator that obtaining peace with the Barbary powers was important enough to “pass unnoticed the irregular conduct of their ministers.”
Despite whispers regarding his conduct, Mellimelli received invitations to numerous dinners and balls, and according to one Washington hostess was “the lion of the season.” At the president’s New Year’s Day levee the Tunisian envoy provided “its most brilliant and splendid spectacle,” and added to his melodramatic image at a later dinner party hosted by the secretary of state. Upon learning that the Madisons were unhappy at being childless, Mellimelli flung his “magical” cloak around Dolley Madison and murmured an incantation that promised she would bear a male child. His conjuring, however, did not work.
Differences in culture and customs stirred interest on both sides. Mellimelli’s generous use of scented rose oil was noted by many of those who met him, and guards had to be posted outside his lodgings to turn away the curious. For his part, the Tunisian was surprised at the social freedom women enjoyed in America and was especially intrigued by several delegations of Native Americans from the western territories then visiting Washington. Mellimelli inquired which prophet the Indians followed: Moses, Jesus Christ or Mohammed. When he was told none of them, that they worshiped “the Great Sprit” alone, he was reported to have pronounced them “vile hereticks.”
Mellimelli was in Washington during Ramadan, a month-long period in which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. To accommodate his guest’s religious obligation, Jefferson’s invitation to the President’s House on December 9 changed the time of dinner from the usual “half after three” to “precisely at sunset.”
At the same time Mellimelli was enlivening Washington society he was engaged in serious diplomatic exchanges with Jefferson and Madison. They agreed upon restitution for the captured Tunisian vessels but still grappled with the issue of tribute. Ultimately, Mellimelli used a tactic that appealed to the Americans’ humanity: He said that that if he failed in his mission he would be beheaded upon his return home. The Americans refused to yield to the idea of tribute, but in a meeting of the Cabinet it was agreed to send to Tunis gifts equivalent in cost to those sent to the United States by the bey.
Mellimelli and his retinue left Washington in May 1806 and traveled up the East Coast to Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, and Boston, raising many eyebrows along the way. The ambassador sailed home from Boston in September.
When Jefferson received “an uncommonly friendly letter from the Bey” dated Feb. 27, 1807, he concluded that the ambassador’s report had been accepted favorably in Tunis. [he was mistaken in that assumption]
While Mellimelli’s visit did pique cross-cultural curiosity and avert the immediate threat of war with Tunis, cultural differences would continue to intrude upon the relationship between the United States and the Barbary world.
The backdrop to this state visit was the ongoing conflict between the United States and the Barbary states, autonomous provinces of the Ottoman Empire that rimmed the Mediterranean coast of North Africa. Soon after the Revolutionary War and the consequent loss of the British navy’s protection, American merchant vessels had become prey for Barbary corsairs. Jefferson was outraged by the demands of ransom for civilians captured from American vessels and the Barbary states’ expectation of annual tribute to be paid as insurance against future seizures. He took an uncharacteristically hawkish position against the prevailing thought that it was cheaper to pay tribute than maintain a navy to protect shipping from piracy.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT IFTAAR DINNER
The East Room
7:01 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Please be seated. Thank you. Welcome to the White House. This is the fifth year in a row that it's been my honor to host an Iftaar in the State Dining Room.
Our distinguished guests represent the millions of Muslims that we're proud to call Americans, and many Islamic nations are represented here that America is proud to call friend. We welcome the representatives from many countries with large Muslim populations. I want to thank you all for coming to celebrate an honored tradition of the Muslim faith, and wish you a, "Ramadan Mubarak."
I want to thank those in my administration who have joined us. I want to thank the Imam for joining us today, and thank you for leading us in prayer after these short remarks. I want to thank all the ambassadors from the Organization of the Islamic Conference. I welcome other members of the Diplomatic Corps. And I want to thank the Muslim -- American Muslim leaders who are with us today. Thanks for taking time out to celebrate this important dinner.
Ramadan is the holiest time of the Muslim year. According to Islamic teaching, this month commemorates the revelation of God's word to the Prophet Muhammad in the form of the Koran. For more than a billion Muslims, Ramadan is a time of heartfelt prayer and togetherness. It is a time of fasting and personal sacrifice. It's a time to give thanks for God's blessings through works of charity.
One Muslim leader said: "It's a national and Islamic obligation to assist one's neighbors when they are in need." The American people saw that spirit as we recovered from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The world sees that spirit, that compassion of Islam, through the countless acts of kindness following the recent earthquake in southeast -- in South Asia.
America is fortunate to count such good-hearted men and women among our fellow citizens. We have great respect for the commitment that all Muslims make to faith, family, and education. And Americans of many backgrounds seek to learn more about the rich tradition of Islam. To promote greater understanding between our cultures, I have encouraged American families to travel abroad, to visit with Muslim families. And I have encouraged American families to host exchange students from the Muslim world. I have asked young Americans to study the language and customs of the broader Middle East. And for the first time in our nation's history, we have added a Koran to the White House Library. (Applause.)
All of us gathered tonight share a conviction that America must remain a welcoming and tolerant land, in which our people are free to practice any faith they choose. We reject every form of ethnic and religious discrimination. As I said in my second Inaugural Address, we cannot carry the message of freedom and the baggage of bigotry at the same time.
We also share a common hope for the future -- that our children and grandchildren will grow up in a safer and more peaceful world. Delivering on that promise to future generations requires action from our generation. We must stand confidently in the cause of freedom -- including the freedom of people everywhere to practice their faith in peace. We must also firmly oppose all who commit evil in God's name. I am grateful to the Muslim nations that have joined our coalition in the war on terror -- including many nations that have been victims of terror themselves.
As we work together to defeat the terrorists, we must be very clear about the enemies we face. The killers who take the lives of innocent men, women, and children are followers of a violent ideology very different from the religion of Islam. These extremists distort the idea of jihad into a call for terrorist murder against anyone who does not share their radical vision, including Muslims from other traditions, who they regard as heretics.
Their strategy will fail. Many Muslim scholars have already publicly condemned terrorism, often citing chapter 5, verse 32 of the Koran, which states that killing an innocent human being is like killing all of humanity, and saving the life of one person is like saving all of humanity. I appreciate those of you here who have joined these scholars in rejecting violent extremists. And I believe the time has come for all responsible Islamic leaders to denounce an ideology that exploits Islam for political ends, and defiles your noble faith.
I have great confidence in the future of this nation, and in the future of the Muslim world. I have been inspired by the courage of people in Afghanistan and Iraq, where Muslims are celebrating Ramadan in two of the world's newest democracies. I believe that people of every religious and ethnic background have the right and the desire to be free. And I believe that the spread of freedom and justice and tolerance in the broader Middle East will lead to the peace that we all seek.
As we celebrate this special Iftaar, we renew the ties of friendship that bind all those who trace their faith back to God's call on Abraham. We recognize the many hopeful works we have achieved together. We look forward to learning more from each other in the years ahead.
I'm so grateful that you joined us today. I wish you a blessed Ramadan, and may God bless you all. (Applause.)
Source: U.S. Department of State
These remarks were delivered by President George W. Bush on October 17, 2005
The separationist policy amounts to saying to the Islamic peoples:
Your religion is so dangerous and disgusting that we will have nothing to do with you. Therefore we are cutting you off--all 1.25 billion of you--from our societies. We have no ambition to interfere with, change, or destroy your religion, because as a practical matter we know that that is impossible. We have no desire to wage war against you, as that is not in our interests. But we non-Muslims so utterly oppose and condemn your religion that we henceforth and forever will regard you, the entire Muslim community, as personae non gratae everywhere outside the historic Muslim lands.
What could be a stronger expression of disapproval and disrespect to the Muslims than for the rest of mankind to quarantine them? Such quarantine of course serves the main and essential purpose of Separationism, which is to save us, the non-Muslims, from Islam. However, humane Westerners also have a secondary and non-essential but still very worthwhile purpose, which is to save Muslims from Islam. But how can that be done? To repeat, we do not have the power to reform or destroy Islam. Such reform or destruction can only be brought about by the Muslims themselves. And what would have a better chance of bringing Muslims to the point of making such a fundamental change than the unyielding rejection and ostracism of the Islamic world by all of non-Muslim humanity?
So, if we care about the terrible cruelties done to girls and women under Islam, if we care about freeing Muslims from the threat of death for apostasy, Separationism offers the best and perhaps the only possible way to help them. Just as President Reagan, by calling Communism evil, took away the Communist world's sense of its own superiority and rightness and helped initiate the process that led to the downfall of Communism from within, we non-Muslims, by declaring that Islam and its followers are totally unacceptable to us, will shake the Muslims' sense of their own superiority and rightness, and the experience of finding themselves increasingly and permanently rejected by the rest of the world may perhaps ultimately lead them to abandon Islam as the Communists abandoned Communism.
Half-way sensible, but not quite there. Communism was an -ism and could be fought with an -ism. Islam is much more intractable. Muslims will not give a hoot for the "disapproval" and "disrespect" of the infidels, and why should they care that we find it "unacceptable"? What quarantine - a better word than "separationism" - will do is make Muslims stew in the juice of Islam. Their societies will fail, because pure Islam, without the safety net of Western aid or plunder, cannot sustain itself. And when they fail, there will be nothing to blame but Islam.
So cut them off. No more aid, no more immigration, no more talk of Islamic "achievements". Cut them off and let them go under.
Here is an excerpt from the front-page story, by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, about Obama's remarks on the Ground-Zero mosque, in today's New York Times:
"In hosting the iftar, Mr. Obama was following a White House tradition that, while sporadic, dates to Thomas Jefferson, who held a sunset dinner for the first Muslim ambassador to the United States. President George W. Buswh hosted iftars annually."
Question for Sheryl Gay Stolberg, and for her editors at The New York Times:
A visiting envoy arrived from Tunis to negotiate with the American government, in order to have ships from Tunis released that the Americans, fed up with attacks on their shipping and seamen that originated from Tunis (the Americans dealt separately, but equally severely, in the end, with the deys of Algiers and Tripoli, and with the King of Morocco), had seized, and also to arrange, so he thought for permanent "tribute" to be paid by the American Republic to the Dey of Tunis.
He was regarded as an exotic specimen, a curious, exotic, and altogether barbaric figure, whose primitive ways were noted and whose demands ignored or sometimes contemptuously met. At one point, during this strange figure's stay in Washington, during Ramadan, in order to show him courtesy despite all kinds of misgivings, Jefferson gave him a dinner. Not a state dinner, not a dinner announced or even thought of as an "iftar dinner," but merely a dinner. That is apparently what Barack Obama, and Sheryl Gay Stolberg, and the editors of The New York Times have been unable to grasp.
But let's leave it as Obama would have it. Let's pretend that Thomas Jefferson, whose experience as an envoy in Europe, treating with Muslims, left him full of mistrust and amused contempt at their demands and their grandiose view of themselves -- an attitude shared by all other Americans of the young Republic who had dealings with them -- did indeed give not merely a dinner but rather an "Iftar dinner."
When, then, was the next in this long, but "sporadic" series of iftar dinners? I can find no record of any, for roughly the next two hundred years, until we come to the fall of the year 2001, that is just after the deadliest attack on American civilians ever recorded, an attack carried out by a novemdectet of Muslims acting according to their understanding of the very same texts -- Qur'an,Hadith, Sira -- that all Muslims read, an understanding that many have demonstrated since that they share, not least in the spontaneous celebrations that were immediately held in Cairo, and Riyadh, and Jeddah, and in Ramallah, and Gaza, and Damascus, and Baghdad, and all over the place, where Muslims felt that they had won a victory over those accursed kuffar, those ingrates, those Infidels. And it was President George Bush who decided that, to win Muslim "trust" or to end Muslim "mistrust" -- I forget which -- so that we could, non-Muslim and Muslim, collaborate on defeating those "violent extremists" who had "hijacked a great religion," started this sporadic ball unsporadically rolling.
And thus it is, that ever since 2001, we have had iftar dinner after iftar dinner. But face it -- it was George Bush, in his terminal idiocy, who started this "tradition" that has been observed only sporadically -- i.e., never, until George Bush came along, unless we are to count as an "iftar dinner" what was merely seen, by Jefferson, as a dinner given at a time convenient for his not-too-honored guest.
I keep a little list of the worst lexical lapses I find in contemporary print.
I've just added the word "sporadic" as used in this front-page story in today's New York Times.
From Madness - their only No 1 chart topper of 1982. Doesn't Suggs look young? He has grown into a man after my own heart with his love for the quirky side of London and her history.
All the way through you think this song is about a young man planning to celebrate his 16th birthday with an activity illegal for him prior to that date.
Some people never get the joke.
He is indeed in the wrong shop - as he wants to buy party hats and poppers for the family 'do'.
When Sirhan Sirhan murdered Robert Kennedy, he was identified promptly as a "Jordanian" and a "Jordanian" he has remained ever since. But you can now find out that among the Arabs, he is regarded as a "Palesitnian" Christian, one of those who forever retains his "Palestinian-ness" which turns out to be so useful in the propaganda Jihad against Israel.
When Al-Zarqawi was decaptiting various Americans and Englishmen on camera, as the head of Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, he was always identified as a "Jordanian." It turned out he was a "Palestinian" (as they, and other Arabs, insist on calling all people with a connection, however long ago, with any part of historic Palestine, as it was called in Christian Europe, that is to say, with Israel west of the river Jordan.
When Elias Abuelezam, the man accused of being a serial killer who chose only black victims, was arrested, for some hours and even days he was identified as an "Israeli." And an "Israeli" he continued to be called, though anyone at all familiar with his name would instantly recognize him to be a Christian Arab. And while the Isaeli Arabs now have started calling themselves "Palestinians" this man, even when identified as an Israeli Arab, was never called a "Palestinian." And when, finally, it was no longer possible just to call him an "Israeli" but he simply had to be corr3ectly identifed -- as an Arab living in Israel, that is as an "Israeli Arab," one had the distinct sensation that those so identifying him devoutly wished that somehoe they could maximize the adjective, and minimize the noun, thus: ISRAELI arab.
A fleeting episode in the annals of the press.
But for those paying attention, telling nonetheless.
That First Iftar Dinner Was Not An Iftar Dinner At All
When the envoy from the dey (or bey) of Tunis, Mellimelli, arrived in Washington to negotiate with the American government, headed by Thomas Jefferson, over the ships captured by the Americans, and over the "tribute" that the dey of Tunis expected to receive from the Americans -- notice that it was the Americans who had defeated, in essence, the Muslims of Tunis, but the Muslims of Tunis acted as if was the Americans who should be suing for peace, and be willing to pay permanent tribute (does this remind you of any Arab attitudes today?) -- Jefferson accommodated him on one occasion.
Here is how Gaye Wilson describes what happened:
"Mellimelli was in Washington during Ramadan, a month-long period in which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. To accommodate his guest’s religious obligation, Jefferson’s invitation to the President’s House on Dec. ? changed the time of dinner from the usual “half after three” to “precisely at sunset.”"
So he changed the time of dinner -- but not the nature of the slightly-postponed repast -- from "half past three" to "precisely at sunset." End of story. End of quick fiction about the "first Iftar Dinner."
President Obama at Panama City, Florida Press conference
Shortly after his arrival for a family vacation on Florida's Gulf Coast in Panama City, President Obama held a press conference and immediately hedged his remarks about last night's endorsement of the Ground Zero mosque initiative promoted by the much maligned Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf. Park Place location for the project is not far from the pit at Ground Zero, considered by most Americans as 'hallowed ground' akin to Gettysburg. The perpetrators of the 2700 murders of innocent victims at the destroyed World Trade Center twin towers site were Muslims bringing death from afar and from the skies on that brilliant late summer day I witnessed nine years ago.
A recent Siena College Poll revealed that three out of five New Yorks (61 percent) opposed what Joel Mowbray called another gaudy mosque" -a 13 story $100 million project with questionable ownership and equally murky funding.
President Obama refined his defense of the Ground Zero mosque Saturday, saying his previous comments defended the right to build it, not the "wisdom" of its location.
The clarification came less than 24 hours after he spoke in support of the project during a White House celebration for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
"My intention was simply to let people know what I thought, which was that in this country, we treat everybody equally and in accordance with the law, regardless of race, regardless of religion," the President said during a visit to the Gulf Coast Saturday.
"I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there," Obama said. "I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding. That's what our country is about."
But the opponents of the Codoba HouseIinitiative Ground Zero Mosque were highly critical:
"There is no issue of religious liberty. He won't face truth," Gingrich wrote.
Republican gubernatorial hopeful Rick Lazio reiterated that point, saying in a statement, "This is not an issue of religion, but one of safety and security through transparency."
Foes of the project fear Park51 will be funded by terrorists and become a rallying point for Muslim extremists whose goal is to destroy America.
Others say the planned 13-story center is akin to a victory shrine for the terrorists behind the 9/11 attacks.
Debra Burlingame, founder of 9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America, said the President has "a gross lack of sensitivity to the 9/11 families and to the people who were lost."
"This controversy is not about religious freedom," she said in a statement. "Building a -story mosque at Ground Zero is a deliberately provocative act that will precipitate more bloodshed in the name of Allah".
Forget about The Onion, The National Lampoon, Mad Magazine, and Saturday Night Live (sorry for all those American cultural references). When it comes to satire nobody can beat a New York Timeseditorial!
Well, this one is funny because the Times is--sort of--trying to praise the Israeli government and criticize the Palestinian Authority (PA) but you can't help but laugh at the contortions they go through.
Here's the first one:
"After three months of American-mediated proximity talks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has agreed to direct negotiations on a two-state solution; the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, is stubbornly resisting. It is time for him to talk."
Now is this dishonest or what? The implication is that finally, just now, at the very last minute, and after three months (12 weeks, about 90 days) the U.S. negotiators can wipe the sweat from their brow and say that Netanyahu has agreed to direct negotiations.
But guess what? He publicly agreed to direct negotiations during a visit to Washington about 16 months (64 weeks, about 480 days) ago! So to avoid giving Netanyahu credit for being ready to talk all along the Times pretends that thanks only to a tremendous battle has the Obama Administration landed the big fish.
Ok, though, but at least they have praised Netanyahu and pointed out that Abbas is the barrier to progress? Not exactly. Keep reading:
"There are understandable reasons for Mr. Abbas's reluctance. We also don't know whether Mr. Netanyahu, a master manipulator, really wants a deal or whether his hard-line governing coalition would ever let him make one."
Yeah, Abbas, that Netanyahu is one evil dude! We can hardly blame you for refusing to make peace. I can imagine Abbas saying: "Sorry, I cannot negotiate because Netanyahu is untrustworthy. I read it in the New York Times so it must be true."
Might one wonder if Abbas is a "master manipulator" or whether his "hard-line government coalition would ever let him make one?" (See below on that point.) In fact, why throw into question Netanyahu's credentials? What has he done in the last 14 years, during which he has accepted a two-state solution, to make one conclude he is insincere on the issue, rather than just a tough negotiator?
Moreover, his coalition is not "hard-line" at all. Let's give the Times a little lesson in Israeli politics. The coalition includes six parties with a total of 72 seats, 12 more than is needed:
--Likud, 27 seats. While this is the main conservative party, and includes parliamentarians who would be against concessions, Netanyahu has a firm hold on the party.
--Israel Beitanu, 15 seats. While this party is headed by Foreign Minister Lieberman, it is not the "far-right" party that is the stereotype. It is, in fact, a Russian immigrant party. In some ways, Lieberman is rather dovish, proposing far-reaching territorial swaps (even if he does so to get rid of Arab citizens of Israelis the effect is not hard-line on negotiations). He is certainly capable of populist posturing but he is not, as such, an impediment to a peace deal.
--Labour Party, 13 seats. This is the leading party of the dovish left. Enough said.
--Two religious parties: Shas (11) and United Torah Judaism (3). These parties are mainly interested in patronage. They would fight tooth and nail on the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem and perhaps over the whole eastern part of the city. But on most of the issues they are not so intransigent. Shas's mentor has in the past said that giving up the West Bank can be justified if that saves lives.
--National Union (3). Aha, here's a hardline, right-wing party that would walk out of any government that agreed to a two-state resolution! But it represents only 4 percent of his coalition and Netanyahu doesn't need them.
Moreover, Netanyahu could replace any defectors if he wished by bringing in Kadima (28). While one could debate some of the details of my analysis the idea that the Israeli coalition would never countenance a two-state solution is absurd.
What is really astonishing is that, to protect the Palestinian Authority, the Times is even willing to bash its idol, President Obama, in a flagrant miswriting of history:
"Mr. Abbas also is wary of Washington. After Mr. Obama demanded in 2009 that Mr. Netanyahu halt all settlement construction as a prelude to negotiations, Mr. Abbas did the same. When Mr. Netanyahu forced Mr. Obama to back down and the Israeli leader implemented a more limited and temporary building halt, Mr. Abbas was left clinging to the maximalist position."
What? Obama made the demand and Netanyahu complied. He gave a one-year freeze to see what would happen in talks. Was that a case of Obama "backing down?" And when Obama retroactively added Jerusalem outside the 1967 lines, Netanyahu again complied.
Here's the truth: Obama demanded, Netanyahu agreed, and Abbas still rejected direct talks. This has been going on for one year. So I'll stand up for Obama against the Times on this point.
Then there's the way the Times deals with Arab politics. True, it points out that the Arab League backs direct talks. So here's my question for you: What does the Times leave out?
Answer: Palestinian Authority politics, Hamas, Iran, and Syria. Why can't the Times mention that this is the real prime motive for Abbas? It isn't mainly that he doesn't trust Netanyahu (if he were certain Netanyahu was eager for peace it would make it harder, not easier, for Abbas to enter talks!) or he is "wary" of Obama.
The fact is that Abbas knows:
--He has no control or authority over Fatah, a group in which he has almost no direct followers, but is the real power behind the PA. This is the group that would never let its nominal leader make a two-state solution. Most of the Fatah leadership is hardline. Some don't want to make any deal that would block them from trying to destroy Israel in future. Others are afraid to do so. The number one problem is PA politics.
--Palestinian public opinion tends to be hardline. And why should that be surprising? It is conditioned by years of indoctrination to be that way on top of what existed beforehand. The PA has been pumping out hardline propaganda now for 16 years.
--Then there is Hamas which enjoys somewhere between 25 and 30 percent support in the PA-ruled areas. Even the tiniest concession, merely holding direct talks, will be used by Hamas to claim Abbas is commiting treason. And joined with some elements in Fatah this hardline coalition would be deadly for the PA, and perhaps for Abbas personally.
--Moreover, Hamas controls the Gaza Strip. This little detail seems to be left out a lot, as if the PA's making an agreement was in any way binding on almost half the territory it is claiming to control! It would be like making a deal with South Korea or West Germany and claiming it applied to all of Korea or Germany.
Incidentally, it is almost never pointed out that Abbas's term in office ended in January 2009 and he keeps extending it without elections. Why? Because if elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip were held Hamas would win them. This shows how unstable is the regime with which Israel is supposed to make a peace based on massive unilateral concessions. If elections were to be held after a two-state agreement was implemented, Hamas would win, immediately reject the agreement, and return to war. This is rather significant for any discussion of Israel-Palestinian peace, don't you think?
--Then there are the external forces like Iran and Syria that are dead-set on making anyone who makes with Israel just plain dead. If Abbas were to negotiate a deal they would do everything in their power (in line with Fatah hardliners and Hamas) to destroy that agreement and overthrow Abbas.
Doesn't all of this seem a bit significant? Isn't it ridiculous to discuss the issue as if Abbas was some independent actor who could do whatever he wished, while Israel's leader (whose public opinion is eager for a negotiated peace, generally willing to make concessions, and flexible on many of the issues) is enchained?
I'm writing about this editorial not because I think the Times is so important in itself. Rather, these are precisely the ideas that dominate Western debate on the issue. What we have here is a failure to engage accurately with the basic facts on what is persistently (if wrongly) touted as the world's most important issue.
Muslim Cleric Calls for Jihad, Coptic Christians Attacked in Egypt
(AINA) -- On August 13 Sheikh Tobah, Imam of the village of Shimi 170 KM south of Giza, called during Muslim Friday prayers for Jihad against Christians living there. As a result the Christian Copts living in the village were assaulted over two consecutive days. Eleven Copts were hospitalized and many Coptic youths were arrested.
The assaults begain a couple of hours after the Sheikhs incitement. An argument between Copt Maher Amin, who was washing his taxi, and Mohamed Ali Almstaui, a Muslim extremist from the village, escalated into violence as Mohamad assaulted Maher. The altercation was stopped by bystanders. However, after the evening break of Ramadan fast, Ahmad, the brother of the perpetrator Mohamad, who is reported to belong to an extremist organization, together with twenty other men, went to Maher's family home, breaking down the door and assaulting him and his family with batons, including his old mother and his paralyzed sister, injuring them and breaking their furniture.
Security forces came and took away the Christian victims and kept them at the station in spite of their wounds, to pressuree them into accepting "reconciliation" with their attackers. None of the Muslims were arrested.
Saad Gamal, Egyptian MP for Elsaff, phoned from Gaza, where he is on a visit, and gave orders to the police to force reconciliation on the Coptic parties.
"I was against reconciliation, because I know that the culprits know that they can assault Copts, and in the end it will boil down to Copts giving up all their rights with the reconciliation sessions," said Reverend Ezra Nageh of St. George's Church in Elsaff.
"I was told by the security authorities that for the sake of the Holy month of Ramadan, everyone ought to make peace."
The next day, after the compulsory reconciliation between the Amin family and Almstaui family, a large number of Muslims were gathered by the Almstauis and attacked again the houses of the Copts, beaten the inhabitants, and went to the fields and assaulted the Copts there also.
"Why should they not do that, when they are told that the MP will defend them," said Rev. Ezra, adding the police have yet to issue a report about the incidents, because they were afraid of the MP. "So to whom should we go for help? MP Saad Gamal hates Christians, and President Mubarak pretends that he is not present or unaware of our plight."
Ghali Tawfik, one of the Coptic victims, said "We are forced into reconciliation and in less than 24 hours, we are assaulted again."
In an aired audio interview with activist Wagih Yacoub, Maher Amin said "they have humiliated us. We were beaten and we could not do anything about it. We are weak and helpless and have to accept reconciliation. They will next come to our homes and rape our women, and we will not be able to do anything about it."
Karam Bebawy, another Coptic victim, said the arrival of strangers to the village two weeks ago "with long beards and wearing short dresses like the Islamists" have a hand in poisoning the atmosphere in their village and inciting the Muslims against the Copts. He said that his Muslim neighbors have turned against him without reason since then.
Police today released the assaulted Copts who were detained on Friday and arrested three new Coptic youths in their twenties on charges of having some old cases against them. They were transferred to State Security. However, Rev. Ezra said that State Security is using the same old trick, which is detaining innocent Copts and fabricating crimes against them, to twist the arm of the church into accepting a forced reconciliation.
The village mayor, Sheikh Saad contacted Rev. Ezra on August 14, regarding a second reconciliation, but he flatly refused.
"They attack us today and force reconciliation on us. Are they waiting for us to be killed tomorrow and then they would think about the rule of law?" asked Reverend Ezra.