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Posted in: Jihad & Terrorism, Culture Wars & Censorship, Arts, Film & Culture

Published on Apr 08, 2010 by Phyllis Chesler

Written for Pajamas Media

Islamist Takeover of Manhattan, No Bullets Fired


Tonight, Manhattan surrendered. Tonight, Manhattan, my own home town, was "taken" by its own desire to turn Arabs and Muslims into heroes.

On the upper east side, where I now live, I saw a very important documentary about three—three!– known North African Muslims, (referred to throughout as "Arabs"), who saved a number of North African Jews whom the Vichy French and German Nazi armies hunted down in Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. The audience was packed, eager.

The filmmakers and their funders actually hope that this view of Arab-Jewish relationships (based on three cases) will somehow "heal" the tattered relationship….which once was so Golden. Well, I don't think so. Yes, Biblically, the Jews and the Muslims are half-siblings, cousins; we are both Semites. Yes, things were always easier for wealthy Jews in Arab lands but most Jews were very poor. Yes, things were better for everyone, both Muslims and Jews, when modernization, feminism, and the separation of mosque and state were afoot, at least in Turkey and Egypt, at the turn of the early twentieth century.

But things soured Big Time after the end of the Second World War and the creation of a Israel. See Pierre Rehov's film, The Silent Exodus the first of is kind which documents the persecution and flight of Arab Jews.

Don't get me wrong. The MacNeil-Satloff film is useful and informative. For example, I had not known that the Nazis and their French collaborators had built concentration and labor camps in North Africa where they worked North African Jews to death and tortured a good number along the way. (They also sent some poor unfortunate souls back to Europe.) In one instance, a Jewish North African father and his two sons were guillotined; the father was forced to watch the beheading of his sons before he, himself was also decapitated. Nor had I known that the major imam of Algeria had issued an edict which prohibited any Muslim from helping himself to confiscated Jewish possessions. Beyond that, the film made me a little crazy because it neatly, carefully, smoothly, sidestepped the thundering herd of elephants in the room right now.

I am, of course, talking about the premiere of author Robert Satloff's film Among the Righteous: Lost Stories from the Holocaust in Arab Lands. Satloff and Robert McNeil, of the McNeil-Lehrer Report, (whose production company worked on the film) were on hand to take questions from a packed auditorium at the Alliance Francaise, on East 59th St. Satloff is congenial, witty, enormously self-confident, and acts as if he hasn't a worry in the world. Maybe this is what is so disquieting. He should have at least a few, discernible worries.

The press release reads, in part, as follows: "Seeking a hopeful response to the problems of Holocaust ignorance and denial in the Arab world, and in the wake of 9/11, Middle East expert Robert Satloff set out on what would become an eight-year journey to find an Arab hero whose story would change the way Arabs view Jews, themselves, and their own history. Along the way, Rob Satloff found not only the (three) Arab heroes for whom he started his quest but a vast, lost history of what actually happened to the half-million Jews of the Arab lands of North Africa under Nazi, Vichy, and Fascist rule."

The film will air on Monday night on 95% of all PBS stations in the United States and thereafter, throughout the world. Maybe a clip will even appear on Al-Jazeera. No, Satloff's book has not yet found a French publisher—the French feel his documentary footage of the Vichy government in action is prejudicial to them, unfair. Maybe the footage is true, but it still makes them look bad. The Egyptians pirated a copy of his book but have now arranged to publish an "authorized" edition. The Israelis, for reasons Satloff could not comprehend, have thus far, resisted airing the film.

Now, let's go downtown to one of my old haunts: Greenwich Village, where I once worked, lived, attended countless meetings, planned demonstrations and parties; now, let's go down to Egypt, "way down in Egypt's land"–to Cooper Union's Great Hall near Cooper Square.

First, it was Obama. Now, it's Tariq Ramadan.

Ramadan was received as a hero by a crowd of six hundred people in Greenwich Village. As a rock star, a jet-setting professor-orator, a demagogue—a smooth operator. He spoke in the Great Hall where President Abraham Lincoln once spoke. The lines were huge.

Journalist Fern Sidman went down to cover it for me. Here is her report with a little editing by me.


Intellectuals Welcome Tariq Ramadan to Cooper Union

By Fern Sidman

On Thursday evening, April 8th, the vaunted hero of the American left and the denizens of the "politically correct" intellectual universe made his return appearance at Cooper Union in New York City. Tariq Ramadan, the "exiled" professor of Islamic Studies at Oxford University was the featured speaker at a panel discussion sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Association of University Professors, PEN American Center, the American Academy of Religion, and Slate Magazine.

For those who don't know: Ramadan is the son of Said Ramadan and the grandson of Hassan al Banna, who, in 1928, founded the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Ramadan, grandson and heir, is best known for his dangerously duplicitous rhetoric on Islamic radicalism.

Ramadan accepted the tenured position of Henry R. Luce Professor of Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at Notre Dame University in February 2004. But that August, U.S. Customs officials denied Ramadan entry into the country under the "ideological exclusion provision" of the Patriot Act. The university filed a petition on Ramadan's behalf but hearing nothing from the government, he resigned from the post in December 2004. Ramadan was later denied other attempts to obtain visas so he could honor speaking engagements, with the ACLU, the American Association of University Professors and the PEN American Center all of whom wanted to host him and who argued on his behalf in the ensuing legal wars. After a federal judge ordered the government to make a decision on Ramadan's pending visa request, his application was denied in September 2006, with a U.S. consular officer concluding the academic's actions "constituted providing material support to a terrorist organization."

The government's evidence was $940 that Ramadan had given to two charity groups that the U.S. Treasury Department had linked to Hamas in August 2003. On January 20, 2010, the American State Department, under a different administration, decided to lift the ban which, to lift the ban that prohibited Ramadan (as well as Professor Adam Habib from South Africa) from entering the United States. Our very own Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, signed this document.

Ramadan was introduced by Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU's National Security Project, which litigates cases concerning dissent, discrimination, detention, surveillance and due process. Jaffer was counsel to the plaintiffs in American Academy of Religion v Chertoff, the lawsuit that ended the ban on Ramadan. Hailing him as the sacrifical lamb of the Bush administration's anti-Islamic agenda, Jaffer said this evening was dedicated "to creating a safe political space for the exchange of ideas".

The panel was moderated by Jacob Weisberg, the Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of The Slate Group, which publishes Slate Magazine and other web sites. Weisberg introduced the other members of the panel, but noted that the evening would focus on the philosophies of Tariq Ramadan, and that he'd be asking some hard hitting questions. The other panel members included Dalia Mogahed, a Senior Analyst and Executive Director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies; Mogahed is the co-author of a book entitled, "Who Speaks for Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think"; George Packer, a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq; feminist Joan Wallach Scott, professor of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton and the author of The Politics of the Veil. Wallach has also been a strong advocate of boycotting and divesting in Israel. She is also a theorist of gender.

Ramadan took the lectern and thanked the sponsoring groups for championing his rights and then went on to say that while he is sharply critical of American policy vis-a vis Iraq and Afghanistan, he is not anti-Western and feels that Muslims in Europe can maintain a pro-Western lifestyle while closely adhering to their Islamic beliefs. He said that Islamic women were now taking their place in the forefront of those who frame the debate about the dual role of Muslims in a secular European culture and those who remain faithful to Koranic principles.

However, one of those Islamic women at the forefront is Ayaan Hirsi Ali whom Ramadan has scorned. Shamefully, he did so again tonight.

Ramadan said, "Islam is really a Western religion and Muslims in Europe can and should be loyal citizens of the countries in which they live. Many people are afraid of the Muslim presence in Europe but we know that we can integrate diversity through secularism, humility, respect and consistency. Muslim women are informing the process and if you look at them you think they're oppressed but when you hear the way they think and speak, they're clearly a driving force in Islam."

Concerning his thoughts on the Bush administration, Ramadan intoned, "Bush implied that all Muslims were 'others', they were different and somehow dangerous. While I a vocal opponent of US policy in the Middle East, all I am saying is that I am against the murder of Iraqi civilians and I am waiting for the new administration to be an honest broker in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I am still waiting because I don't see it as of yet in the Obama administration."

Honestly, the man needs glasses.

Ramadan's detractors view his rhetoric quite differently. "Tariq Ramadan's entry into America needs to be met with open dialogue from the Muslim Community, non-Muslim organizations and the media on the real threat of Political Islam," says M. Zuhdi Jasser, the president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD). "It is incumbent on all Americans, especially American Muslims, to engage Ramadan at any opportunity to demonstrate that the US Constitution trumps the construct of the Islamic State." He went on to say, "To give Ramadan an unfettered platform for his dissimulation while also perpetuating his message of victimization is to give him and his clerical colleagues a status which will forever retard real reform within Muslim thought. Real reform comes from those Muslim leaders with the personal strength of character to call for an end to the Islamic state and the separation of mosque and state. Ramadan has not. Rather he is a soft tongued global instrument of political Islam against the bulwark of real freedom and liberty as we know it in the United States."

Panelist George Packer asked Ramadan why he never condemned his grandfather, Hassan al Banna for strongly supporting the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who spent years in Nazi Germany and advocated the mass extermination of the Jews. Ramadan danced around the question saying that his grandfather was misquoted and that he never supported a fascist regime but only supported the Mufti in terms of his fierce opposition to the creation of the State of Israel. Packer pressed Ramadan on this point and asked how his grandfather could support and work with someone who advocated such a pernicious philosophy of classical anti-Semitism. Ramadan refused to admit that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem was anti-Semitic but rather claimed that he was righteous in his beliefs that Palestine should not be colonized by the Jews of Europe or the West.

To Be Continued.


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