By Isaac Yetiv, Ph.D
LA JOLLA, California– My “Open Letter to Fareed Zakaria” has elicited many pertinent comments and questions. Rather than respond individually, I thought it better to tackle them in the aggregate and to publish this comprehensive response.
The “Mosque Affair” has assumed national, even international, proportions. Since my “open letter,” more information has emerged:
On the promoter, Imam Rauf : two more damning videotapes were broadcast, in which he was seen, saying clearly:
1) that America has caused the death of 500,000 (!) Iraqi children because of the sanctions against Iraq (this vile accusation was strongly rejected, when made, by no other than President Clinton, who blamed Saddam for any death, not the US sanctions.)
2) that “America has more Muslim blood on its hands than Al-Qaeda has non-Muslim blood on its hands.” And this, after the 3000 Americans killed on 9/11. A chutzpah of the highest degree by someone who is still touted by the political elites as a “moderate” Muslim who was dispatched to the Middle-East as ambassador of the United States to ” improve our image in the Muslim world.”
(We just heard that his wife, Daisy Khan, has also been sent to the Middle-East for the same mission, thus doubling the taxpayer’s bill to tens of thousands of dollars, ostensibly to explain how good America is, but certainly to fundraise for the Mosque.)
In the Middle-East, the cry for “the right of all Muslims to build mosques anywhere…and to pray to Allah” did not come from kings or presidents but from Mahmoud El-Zahar, the co-founder and leader of Hamas, who also extolled the virtues of shari’a which he would like to see observed among US Muslims,and later, among non-Muslims in the U.S. and in the world.
A Saudi cleric, Mohammad El-Arifi, took a more violent approach (on Egyptian TV on June 19) :” Our devotion to Jihad, he said, and our desire to shed blood, smash skulls, sever limbs, for the sake of Allah, is our honor as true believers. The Koran says that
infidels should convert, pay jizya (poll tax), or be killed. If we had implemented this, we would not be humiliated as we are now.”
True, this is an extreme view, and the majority of Muslims don’t agree with it , but that majority is missing in action, absent from the scene, and as the French say, the absent are always wrong (Les absents ont tojour tort.) The extremists are the only
game in town, and the conflict is with them, not with “Islam as a religion,” not with “the first amendment” or “freedom of religion.”
El-Arifi, too, wants sharia to become the law everywhere. His wishes have been partly granted : in Europe, there are many enclaves of sharia , independent from the law of the land , to judge Muslims. In Malmo, the third largest city in Sweden with a quarter of the population Muslim, Sharia is already the law in the “autonomous areas.”
In the United States, while we are not yet there, there has been at least one judge who agreed to use “their law” and acquitted the perpetrator of what is a crime under our laws (he was overturned later.) And there are in the US many banks and financial institutions which are “sharia-compliant” where a committee of sheikhs
decides on economic activities according to Islamic law. AIG, now owned by the US taxpayer, is among the most important of them.The Center for Security Policy found that out of 100 mosques in the US, 80 use Sharia in one way or another.
It was recently “discovered” that the State Department has spent six million dollars “restoring” mosques in Pakistan and…China, and elsewhere , thus violating the separation of “mosque” and state (how many churches have we restored with taxpayers’ money? ) while a church that was destroyed in 9/11 was not allowed to rebuild for 9 years, nor were the towers themselves been rebuilt, nor was a monument erected in memory of the victims. How can we explain the fervent calls from the emasculated politicians to put up a skyscraper of a mosque with unknown sources of funding?
No wonder the disconnect of those political elites from the people : A recent poll showed 68 % of the elits for the erection of the mosque and 77 % (!) of the people against it.
A phenomenon of immense importance , that would change the face of the jihadi war against us and our ways and means to fight it, has been noticed lately: the change in the leadership in Al-Qaeda , to more “local” chiefs, including four US citizens and one resident, “working from places like Yemen, Somalia (the Afghanistans of tomorrow),and from among us, here, in the U.S.of A.
Al-Awlaki, who had connections with the last three jihadi attacks, is the most known, having been Imam in a mosque in Virginia that spewed two of the nineteen 9/11 highjackers. These new leaders have lived here, are very familiar with the laws and customs,and they master the English language. Awlaki’s recorded sermons are read in the mosques (protected free speech). He said: “Jihad is becoming as American as apple-pie. Anti-American terror will come from within…even against the military.” Are the “authorities” listening?
We better believe him, and prepare accordingly, as we better believe Hamas and Ahmadinejad when they promise to destroy Israel.
Finally, a case of a very suspicious “entrepreneurship” in the funding of the projected mosque whose provenance has been kept top-secret, is now unfolding. If we believe recent reports, a certain El-Gamal (a modest waiter turned into a mogul) has bought the real estate for the mosque for 5 million dollars and now was offered 20 millions (some say 39, 45) by a buyer named Elzanaty.
It is not clear whom they represent. It is still not known if this suspicious commerce is like any oriental bazaar dealing or a sinister plot to launder money given by mysterious and unfriendly donors.These transactions should be investigated by the proper authorities. If that is not enough, we learned that they will enjoy a “tax-exempt debt,” meaning the American taxpayer will subsidize the building of the mosque. Isn’t that mind-boggling?
One would think that this litany of bad news would generate a strong reaction from the governments involved, and a plan of action, but they, too, are missing in action. Worse, they encourage the subversion:
Obama first declared to a Muslim audience in the White House that the Muslims have the right to practice their religion and build a mosque…(as if any one person opposed that). The next day, he backed down, expressing doubt about the wisdom of doing it at ground zero. Then, he said he had no regrets (?), and finally, no more comments. This is in keeping with his “on-the-one-hand-on-the-other-hand” style, his indecision between his pro-Islamic stand and what is politically expedient before the elections. No wonder he has alienated both sides: the Muslim support went down 7 points, and 24 % of the population believe he is a Muslim.
Nancy Pelosi surpassed herself in stupidity and farcical behavior: she wants to investigate the funding…not of the Mosque, but of ads put up by the opponents. No less ridicule were the comments from some liberals like ” Would you have objected to the building of a church or a synagogue? (oblivious to the fact that the 19 hijackers were all Muslims, not Christian or Jewish.) Or the asinine ubiquitous remark that “we are not at war with Islam,” or “the jihadis are not a state,” or “remember the crusades.”
As for Bloomberg and Co, I have said enough in my “Open Letter.”
A few of my correspondents asked me if I believed that a mosque of that magnitude and cost should not be built on ground zero but elsewhere, or should not be built at all. I think I made it clear in my “Open Letter” that, while it is outrageous and despicable
to erect the Islamic shrine on the ruins of ground zero, we should not forget the “security risk” by building it elsewhere.
If this project succeeds, we should not be surprised to see more skyscraper mosques in other US cities. There is an unending supply of oil money and an unending supply of volunteer jihadists to staff them with Imams and preachers and recruiters and indoctrinators. I will not be surprised to see in the Manhattan mosque a memorial plaque for the 19 hijackers to be inaugurated on a 9/11, the day of their “martyrdom.” This ,too, will be protected free speech. The same way they used our airplanes in 9/11, they will use our laws to do more harm. And our authorities, and our money, will help them in their sinister endeavors.
What to do? First, there is no “right” that is not limited by another superior right. And “life protection” is paramount. When the “authorities that be” will sober up and start heeding the advice of the majority of their folks, they can enact some “zoning laws for security reasons” and limit the size and the location of any house of worship of any religion.
Anyone can pray to his-her god alone, in a small chamber, in the desert… Jonah prayed from the belly of a fish. God understands all languages and doesn’t need palaces (in fact, Islam abhors that.) Small places are easier to watch and monitor,and spy upon.
A few steps are necessary: First the “authorities” should challenge those who call themselves “moderate Muslims” to actively separate themselves from the “radical fundamentalists” of the Wahabi-Salafi doctrines. Tawfik Hamid proposed a “test of moderation” for the Muslim leaders. They should declare, loudly and publicly, verbally or in their websites, that they strongly condemn the Redda doctrine
that allows the radicals to kill anyone who converts to another religion, the violence against women, the Sharia teaching to use jihad to dominate the world , and other practices. I believe it is within the political reach of the American government to impress upon the leaders of the Islamic world that they should demand from their religious leaders, whose salaries they pay, to issue clear fatwas prohibiting suicide which is an unforgivable sin in Islam (Dhumb la yughfar Lah), and the killing of innocent women and chilldren which is also strictly forbidden in the Koran.
There have been a few encouraging interventions from courageous Muslim leaders, as I reported before. Here is another pronouncement recently published: The General Manager of Al-Arabiya TV, Abdul Rahman El Rashid, expressed his fear that “the Mosque in Manhattan will be turned into an arena for promotion of hatred, and a symbol for those who committed the crime [of 9/11].” Not different from what
I presented here and in my open letter. That is the truth. We ignore it at our peril.
Yetiv, a native of Tunisia, immigrated to Israel, where he served on the Haifa city council, and later came to La Jola where he writes and lectures on the Middle East.
Dear Mr Zakaria:
The case in point is your position on the controversial decision to build a mosque on Ground Zero in New York (your program of Sunday 8 Aug. 2010.) I believe that your support for building the mosque was a knee-jerk reaction to ADL’s strong opposition to it, and that if you dig deeper, you might revise your opinion. ( Already, in your interview with Anderson Cooper a few days later, you seemed less sanguine; I even detected some regretful tone) . The following analysis will hopefully help:
Rauf refused to say where the money (100 millions !!) will come from. A foreign country? a sponsor of terrorism? the terrorists themselves? It is clear that those who will finance the project will dictate its content and its programs. Recent events clearly demonstrate that an “investment” of such magnitude can only come from a few oil-rich theocracies that have produced nine-eleven and other terrorist calamities. Is that scenario not plausible? Do you want to take that risk?
It is a case of what I would call ” zoning for reasons of security, sensitivity to the feelings of the victims of 9/11, common decency,and domestic peace.” The onus of proof is on the proponents of building the mosque precisely at that point and not a few miles away.
The 9/11 atrocities were seen by the perpetrators and their sponsors (to be sure, a minority, to be distinguished from real moderate Muslims, and certainly from Islam as a respectable religion no less than the others)
I dare to go farther: as an avowed foe of political correctness of any kind– I believe it is our collective enemy number one because it obscures the truth, and afflicts us with willful blindness, and the truth, for me, remains the supreme criterion for any judgment– I say with sadness that the Jewish leaders on the Left, in general, suffer from the Jewish disease of what I call “universalitis.” They can’t take their own side in a dispute, the others are always right. They speak in the abstract, on what should be rather than what is. To parody a popular adage, they don’t see the log in the eye of the others but they see the straw in their eye.
They indulge in self-deluding pieties on liberty, rights, constitution, and they defend those who reject them violently. In the words of Lenin in another context (speaking of the Communists in the West) they are “useful idiots.” To the point that they even brave the 69 % and growing opponents among their constituents. I believe they will not be re-elected.
I also believe the mosque will not be built on ground zero. As for Obama, safely protected by those Jewish politicians, he has an uncanny ability to do things against the majority of the people’s wishes. And he, too, will pay politically.
Maybe we should prohibit all religions, for the sake of fairness, to limit their houses of worship to no more than 2-3 floors. We should “respect and suspect” everyone,and not endanger the security of all because of political correctness. And if it is difficult to decide, I suggest to use “Le Pari” (the Wager) of Blaise Pascal. He wrote :” Let us wager that God exists. If we are right, we gain eternity; if we are wrong, what did we lose, a few pleasures or sacrifices, nothing.”
Applied here, it will be: ” If we build such a mosque, we expose ourselves to a potential huge danger but if we don’t, we avoid such catastrophe even if we will annoy some group by limiting their “rights.” For me, the choice is clear.
La Jolla, CA