Written By Dr. Phyllis Chesler
We are drowning in anti-Israel propaganda, and still it never stops coming.
Simultaneously, the “Palestinian narrative” appears to us as if in a dream, over and over again, always slightly surreal and yet overly familiar. By now the “Palestinian narrative” is a brand and we have all been hypnotized. This is not surprising.
For more than 40 years, the Soviet, Arab, and Saudi Lobbies, eventually joined by the Iranian Lobby, have funded the demonization of Israel and the popularization of Palestine. The condemnation of Israel for crimes it has never committed (“ethnic cleansing,” “genocide,” “apartheid”) and the call for a Palestinian one-state solution is echoed, similarly, in films, books, poems, academic papers and lectures; we see and hear this on television, at conferences, at campus demonstrations, in the halls of the United Nations, the European Union, in Parliaments, and, of course, in the Arab and Islamic worlds.
By now, the “Palestinian narrative” has effectively rendered Jews unsafe and unwelcome in Europe. Jews who look “Jewish” or “religious” are not safe on the streets of certain European countries such as England, France, Holland, Belgium, and Scandinavia. European pagan, Christian, and Nazi-era Judeophobia has found a new outlet in the obsessive demonization of Israel, the only Jewish state. This is also the way Europeans hope to appease Muslim immigrants who live in Europe but in parallel universes, who are hostile to the Western enterprise, and who demand the right to be brutally intolerant as a Western civil right.
This same false Palestinian narrative has morphed into a belief that all Muslims—who are, themselves, the largest practitioners of religious apartheid in the world, and who persecute all non-Muslims—are, as Muslims, being persecuted in the West. This may be because Islam is not (yet) dominant in the West.
In my opinion, the success of the “Palestinian” narrative is what has led to the unquestioning acceptance of the false concept of “Islamophobia.”
Those Europeans who have challenged the idea of “Islamophobia” and who have told the truth about Islam in Europe—or who have chosen to leave the Religion of Peace—have put themselves in harm’s way. Either they are sued for blasphemy or defamation—or they must live in exile and with bodyguards. Some have been murdered, even butchered.
What about America? Surely that is not true here.
In 2008, America’s FBI found that 66.1% of religious hate crimes targeted Jews, but only 7.5% of religious hate crimes targeted Muslims. On March 29, 2011, The Center for Security Policy released a revised edition of their groundbreaking longitudinal study, Religious Bias Crimes 2000-2009: Muslim, Jewish and Christian Victims — Debunking the Myth of a Growing Trend in Muslim Victimization. (I have provided a PDF Copy of this study at the bottom of this article) It is based on annual FBI statistics and contradicts the assertions that religious bias crimes against Muslims have increased in America and that the alleged cause is widespread “Islamophobia.” In fact, the study shows that religious bias crimes — also known as hate crimes — against Muslim Americans, have remained relatively low with a downward trend since 2001, and are significantly less than the numbers of bias crimes against Jewish victims.
According to the Center’s analysis, in 2009, Jewish victims of hate crimes outnumbered Muslim victims by more than 8 to 1 (1,132 Jewish victims to 132 Muslim victims). From 2000 through 2009, for every one hate crime incident against a Muslim, there were six hate crime incidents against Jewish victims (1,580 Muslim incidents versus 9,692 Jewish incidents). Even in 2001 when religious bias crimes against Muslims increased briefly for a nine-week period, total anti-Muslim incidents, offenses and victims remained approximately half of the corresponding anti-Jewish totals.”
Nevertheless, American Muslims have alleged rampant “Islamophobia” in America. Countless number of Talking Heads have taken this allegation seriously.
Thus, it is not surprising that CNN just aired a documentary which was titled Not Welcome: The Muslims Next Door.
On camera, the Muslims are all so very…peaceful. There is not one angry or hate-filled Muslim man on camera. Not one. Despite the fact that we have seen hundreds, possibly thousands of angry, frightening, violent Muslim demonstrations, including prayer services, all across America and across the Islamic world, and many hate-filled captured Islamic and Palestinian terrorists on camera, CNN’s chosen Muslim-American men of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, including the Sheikh of the planned Islamic Center, are all soft-spoken, emotional, tearful, non-violent. Except for the Sheikh’s American wifewho converted to Islam, the Muslims on camera are all innocent, good, non-white people.
Soledad O’Brien, CNN’s special anchor, likes them, and, as someone with Afro-Cuban as well as Caucasian Australian parents, perhaps she even identifies with them. In any event, O’Brien questions them very politely, sympathetically.
However, the white, Christian-Americans on camera—all of them, without exception—are portrayed as hateful, cruel, insidious, dislikable, selfish, phobic, and no doubt racist. O’Brien interviews them with barely disguised hostility and contempt.
At issue, according to CNN’s website are America’s post-9/11 fears about radical Islam, terrorism, and “Sharia Law.” As CNN sees it:
“Murfreesboro, Tennessee has just over 100,000 people, 140+ churches, and one mosque. For decades, Muslims have lived and prayed in Murfreesboro without incident, but last May, when the Muslim community gained county approval to build a new 52,000 square foot Islamic center in town, hundreds of Murfreesboro residents took to the streets in protest…. O’Brien chronicles the dramatic fight to block the mosque project in Murfreesboro and the fight over religious freedom; a fight that would ultimately include protests, vandalism, arson and an explosive lawsuit that would involve the U.S. Department of Justice.”
What’s wrong with Murfreesboro is that it is too damn Christian and too damn white. It is not diverse enough.It is not Middle Eastern enough.
O’Brien, herself a Harvard graduate, dresses as a modern American woman. She has absolutely no comment to make about the fact that most of the adult Muslim women on camera are all wearing long, shapeless dresses and severe hijab—while the Muslim men are all dressed in modern, American style. The Sheikh’s wife insists that women are not “oppressed” under Sharia Law, that she is not oppressed, that no Muslim woman she knows has ever been oppressed, etc.
Interestingly enough, the Sheikh has a foreign accent. One wonders why so many Sheiks have been imported from the Middle East to America. Asra Nomani is a religious Muslim feministwho was born in India and raised in America. Her father founded the mosque of Morgantown, West Virginia. Nomani tried to persuade her mosque to become more woman-friendly. She failed. In a PBSdocumentary about this story, Nomani claimed that when Arab Muslims joined her mosque, her battle to bring it into the 21st century failed. On camera, she says:
“Extremists — mainly Arabs — led by one rather physically and verbally violent Egyptian, Hany Ammar, took over. At that point, I began hearing really scary sermons. An unchaste woman is worthless. The West is on a bad path. We must hate those who hate us. Women should be silent in a mosque. Jews are descendants of apes and pigs.”
Incredibly, on camera, Ammar says: “I pray to Allah that you be punished. May Allah get revenge for Ammar.” Ammar is also heard, but not seen, physically attacking a young moderate Muslim man. Ammar’s wife Mona is even more conservative, more aggressive than he is. She minces no words in expressing her contempt, even hatred for Nomani. Like certain kinds of religious women, she is even more zealous in upholding the patriarchal status quo, more aggressively empowered to strike down any other woman who dares challenge male supremacy or Islamic gender apartheid.
Ultimately, Ammar tries to ban Nomani from the mosque. Eventually, both she and her family leave.
Why do I even bring this in? Because Murfreesboro’s Sheikh Ossama Mohamed Bahloul is also a foreign-born Arab Muslim. All this means is that he may (or may not) be a religious Muslim supremacist or an Islamist. Bahloul is an Egyptian-born graduate of Al-Azhar University in Cairo. He was the Imam of the Islamic Society of Southern Texas, in Corpus Christi, and then the visiting Imam for the Islamic Center of Irving, Texas.
Sheikh Bahloul is not a terrorist, nor did he have anything to do with the trial of the Holy Land Foundation, an organization which raised money for Hamas and was based in a suburb of Dallas, Texas. However, he was summoned from Egypt to work in Texas, and left for Murfreesboro a year after the Holy Land trial began. Texas is known as a hotbed of increasingly fundamentalist Islam. Perhaps Bahloul was chosen for his radical beliefs and for his ability to mask them as something else. After all, his wife is dressed as if they live in Cairo, not in America.
To me, this is a sign and signal of a desire to live in a parallel universe, one in which Muslims are taught that they are superior to non-Muslims; one in which Muslims are taught to hate Jews and other infidels;one in which Muslims are taught that Sharia Law is, indeed, superior to American law. That is why CNN invites Harvard Professor Noah Feldman on. He assures people that “Our constitution prohibits any religion from becoming the law of the land.”
It does. But look at how Sharia law and/or Islamic custom has usurped the law of the land both in Europe and in America, where female genital mutilation, child arranged marriage, polygamy, the burqa and honor killings are pandemic.
An Egyptian father killed his two American daughters in Irving, Texas. Yaser Said came from Egypt, married his American-born wife when she was fifteen years old, honor murdered their daughters in 2008, and then fled. He has yet to be found.
A series of attacks were perpetrated against the building of the mosque. “Not Welcome” was spray painted on the sign which announced the mosque opening, arson was perpetrated, a lawsuit was brought. The graffiti and the arson are unacceptable. But no one who opposes the mosque is given a fair hearing or the slightest respect on camera. And, Sheikh Bahloul may be as clever as he is soft-spoken. In a very emotional but determined voice, pitched precisely to gain sympathy for his causehe says: “This is America. This is too much.”
Ah, so the Egyptian-born Sheikh understands America and fully knows what his rights are here. Funny, he only arrived here post 9/11. Actually, for all I know, he could have arrived here sooneror more recently. None of his many biographies and interviews share this information with us.
Is he, perhaps, asecret lover of Zion, an admirer of the American way of life, a Sufi-style peaceful Sunni Muslim? He graduated from the most prominent school of Islamic learning in the Sunni world. If he is really a man for the 21st century, he will have to take some very prominent and public stands which prove that this is so.
Phyllis Chesler, Ph.D is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies at City University of New York. She is an author, psychotherapist and an expert courtroom witness. She has lectured and organized political, legal, religious and human rights campaigns in the United States and in Canada, Europe, the Middle East and the Far East.
Dr. Chesler’s thirteen books and thousands of articles and speeches have inspired people on many diverse issues. Her books include: Women and Madness; Women, Money and Power; About Men; With Child: A Diary of Motherhood; Mothers on Trial: The Battle for Children and Custody; Sacred Bond: The Legacy of Baby M; Patriarchy: Notes of an Expert Witness; Feminist Foremothers in Women’s Studies, Psychology, and Mental Health; Letters to a Young Feminist; Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman; Women of the Wall: Claiming Sacred Ground at Judaism’s Holy Site; The New Anti-Semitism. The Current Crisis and What We Must Do About It; and The Death of Feminism. What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom.
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