Home > Isaac Yetiv > The proposed Muslim community center may be fanatics’ Trojan horse

The proposed Muslim community center may be fanatics’ Trojan horse

September 1, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

By Isaac Yetiv, Ph.D

Isaac Yetiv

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.

  1. July 21, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Dr. Yetiv,

    You taught me French at the University of Akron in the late 1980’s. You were, and are, the most intelligent human being I’ve ever met. I have nothing but respect for you. Please, tell me you are still alive and kicking. You are one of the reasons I get out of bed each morning. I know you love the story of the wolf—la stoicisme…But please tell me you have a soft spot for The Brothers Karamazov also….

  2. Irv Bressel
    September 1, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    Fw: Torah Study with Rabbi Graubart – Sacred Space
    From: Irv Bressel View Contact


    Rabbi G. is brilliant ! FYI Irv B.

    Sent: Wed, September 1, 2010 11:45:14 AM
    Subject: Torah Study with Rabbi Graubart

    Comment on this Dvar Torah and read others! http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?llr=89kyyicab&v=001b3MRj4D6bdofpos7TVDfUSwWYuE9odF7BpPEFjWHaoXAIbtP2kpIvmwDMgyYseAayO1ZoK-ThYXO8XJpC9j9k37NLkuyYxfb8IVyBKvmL8_ojrFjAIs3sP3pYPAZ4rZQ4H07o7HJsZpmbQji7g5tCJKUrX06TNItJWIENYEMSHXh7wN-naS9sEyGED_3S_A-gTqobe1hxLXJwI5QgkV_ZsO8AwauVUEGrSvNk7zcTgOCVADCNRCiUTcQW5rAsuPk


    Deuteronomy 29.9-31.30

    Should there be a new mosque near ground zero? You have your opinion, I have mine (ask me, and I’ll tell you, or just come to services on Shabbat). But, for me, one particular phrase has jumped out in the debate: sacred space. Many commentators and bloggers, most prominently Charles Krauthammer (and one of my favorite country and western singers), have insisted that Muslims not build near ground zero because the place is “sacred.”
    But what makes ground zero a sacred space? Many would answer that it’s a cemetery; the bones and ashes of thousands of victim still mingle at the site with the dust, the ruins, and the construction cranes. Others claim that it’s the mass murder itself that confers sanctity, that any place where so many were murdered automatically becomes holy. These powerful, interesting, compelling answers raise a host of uncomfortable questions for Jews. Is Auschwitz a sacred space? It’s certainly a cemetery; natural forces will never wipe away the victim’s ashes. But strolling through Auschwitz, you rarely see overt religious symbols; unlike the Kotel and most synagogues, no one hands you a yarmulke when you walk in. Treblinka feels more like a sacred space – silent, fearsome, awe-inspiring. But still, do we give the Nazi killers the power to designate our holy places?
    As it happens, our Torah reading offers several powerful, Jewish ideas regarding sacred space. In one verse, it says “when all Israel comes to see the face of the Lord your God at the place where I will choose. . .” In the Pentateuch, particularly in the book of Deuteronomy, Jerusalem and the Temple Mount go unnamed. They are always “the place that I [God] will choose.” Nothing confers sacredness on the place – not murder, not death – except for God’s choice. God’s reasons could be obscure, or even arbitrary, but God and only God chooses. Furthermore the sacred spaces God chose within the desert camp – the Tent of Meeting, and the altar – shift locations as the Israelites travel through the desert. So, for the Torah, our sacred spaces are portable. They retain their sacred quality when we use them for sacred purposes. When we pervert them, or ignore them, God “turns his face,” and the places are no longer sacred.
    The fact is the Torah is ambivalent about the concept of sacred space. Biblical prophets spent much of their time railing against “the high places” – the places the Israelites mistakenly identified as sacred. Sanctifying space can lead to idolatry, to the worship of the space, and not God. God appeared to Moses at the burning bush and to the Israelites at Mt. Sinai precisely because those places are in the middle of nowhere. They’re wilderness spaces, unpopulated, places in between two civilizations.
    This is not to say that Judaism doesn’t value physical space. Clearly, we do. We build our national identity around a particular land. But we show extreme care in sanctifying our spaces because we understand that idolatry lurks down that path.
    For me, ground zero is not a sacred space. It’s an important place, a place that demands respect and thoughtful consideration. We must continue our debate over what to put there. But using the word “sacred” only raises the temperature of an already overheated argument. Osama bin Laden, after all, shouldn’t choose our holy spaces. For Jews, only God can do that.

    Shabbat Shalom,
    Rabbi Philip Graubart

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