By Shoshana Bryen
WASHINGTON, D.C. –The State Department has confirmed that Feisal Abdul Rauf – who wants to be the imam of a mosque at Ground Zero – is taking a State Department funded trip to the Middle East to foster “greater understanding” about Islam and Muslim communities in the United States.
“He is a distinguished Muslim cleric,” said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley. “I think we are in the process of arranging for him to travel as part of this program, and it is to foster a greater understanding about the region around the world among Muslim-majority communities.” Rauf is reportedly going to Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Qatar.
What a load of hooey.
We know a lot of rabbis, some ministers and a few priests. We would be appalled to have the government of the United States, which by law favors no religion, sending a rabbi to Israel – or the former Soviet Union or France or Argentina, where there are communities of Jews – to talk about how Jews live in the United States. Having a priest travel to the Vatican, Honduras, Ireland or the Philippines to describe the lives of American Catholics would be outrageous. Likewise, ministers to Sweden.
What business is it of the American government to send a Muslim to Muslim-majority countries to talk about Islam? How offensive is it to think that the American government is using American tax dollars to fly a non-government person around the world to promote the activities and lifestyle of a particular religion? Better to send a non-Muslim American government official to talk about American religious freedom, cultural diversity and the virtues of the secular, democratic state.
To the speculation that Rauf will engage in fund raising for the proposed mosque at Ground Zero, Mr. Crowley said, “That would not be something he could do as part of our program,” he said.
We’re so relieved. And we’re so sure he will do only as the American government desires.
But Debra Burlingame, a 9/11 family member told The New York Post, “‘We know he has a fund-raising association with Saudi Arabia,’ … noting that the Saudis have contributed money to underwrite programs by the American Society for Muslim Advancement, a not-for-profit that Abdul Rauf runs with his wife and that is one of the sponsors of the Ground Zero mosque. ‘He’s going to the well, and how can they say they do or don’t know what he’s doing?'”
To be entirely clear, JINSA believes Ground Zero is a battlefield cemetery – the site of a battle for the liberal democratic state. We oppose the building of a Muslim sectarian monument there because regardless of what its supporters say, it will be widely understood in the Muslim world as a battlefield monument in the name of Islam.
Does the State Department really think Rauf (who said in English that the United States bears responsibility for 9-11) will tell the Saudis, Bahrainis and Qataris that he is building a monument to cultural understanding, interfaith relations and peace in New York because America is a good, safe and decent place for Muslims as long as they understand the secular, democratic nature of the United States? And that he doesn’t want their money because Americans will fund the mosque?
And how will the State Department know?
Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.
(WJC)–The European Commission’s proposal to recognize Israeli data protection standards as appropriate to transfer personal data of Europeans has been blocked by the Irish government. A spokesman for Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said that Ireland could not support the move in the wake of the row of the faking of Irish and other EU passports in the killing of Hamas commander al-Mahbouh, in Dubai in January. In Europe, the hit is widely blamed on Israel’s Mossad.
The spokesman said the Irish government had the “gravest concern” that information supplied to Israel could be used to forge passports for use by intelligence agencies.
Dublin expelled an Israeli diplomat last month. Dubai police have accused Israeli secret service operatives to be behind the killing. However, separate investigations conducted by the Irish police did not find any additional evidence that links Israel to the forged passports of EU member states. Nonetheless, the Irish government maintains that Israel was responsible for them.
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.
(WJC)–Israel says it will block a fleet of nine ships carrying international activists and supplies from reaching the Gaza Strip.
Israel has offered to transfer the humanitarian aid, including food, clothing and construction materials, to Gaza through an approved Israeli port.
“Ships forcing their way into Gaza will do nothing to aid the people there,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said in a statement issued late Monday. “Existing land crossings are more than capable of meeting their needs. International aid organizations and the private sector of Gaza ensure that all the necessary food, medicine and clothing are provided to the Strip via Israel.”
Palmor said the flotilla organizers “are less interested in bringing in aid than in promoting their radical agenda, playing into the hands of Hamas provocations. While they have wrapped themselves in a humanitarian cloak, they are engaging in political propaganda and not in pro-Palestinian aid.”
Some 15,000 tons of supplies enter Gaza each week, according to the Foreign Ministry.
Five Free Gaza vessels have been allowed to dock in Gaza port in recent years. A ship was turned away last year by Israel’s navy.
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress.
(WJC)–Australia has ordered the expulsion of an Israeli diplomat after an investigation concluded that there was “no doubt” Israel forged four Australian passports used in the assassination of a senior Hamas leader. Stressing that the decision was taken “much more in sorrow than in anger,” Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Monday that he had requested an unnamed diplomat to be withdrawn within one week. “These are not the actions of a friend,” he said. “No government can tolerate the abuse of its passports, especially by a foreign government.” Australia’s punitive reaction follows Britain’s action in March, expelling an Israeli security agent following an investigation that it said offered compelling evidence that Israel was behind the January 20 assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a hotel in Dubai.
Some 33 members of an assassination team widely speculated to have been Mossad agents used forged passports from Britain, Ireland, Australia and Germany to enter and leave Dubai. Israel has neither confirmed nor denied that the Mossad intelligence service was behind the assassination. A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Canberra expressed “regret” at the decision, adding that it was not “reflective” of the relationship between the two countries. Michael Danby, a Jewish legislator in the Labor government, criticized the decision, but said bilateral relations between Canberra and Jerusalem – which date back to World War I – would remain intact.
Preceding provided by Worod Jewish Congress.