Friday, April 30, 2010

Why Iran won't attack Israel
Palestine Center Brief No. 197 (21 April 2010)

Policy Brief

By Yousef Munayyer

Click here to view online or print this brief

This brief appeared today in the Los Angeles Times and is a response to a column written by Benny Morris that was published in the Los Angeles Times on 16 April 2010.

Palestinians are in Israel today because they managed to survive the depopulation of 1948, the year the Jewish state was founded (Arabs constitute about 20% of Israel's population). Ironically, while Benny Morris' scholarship suggests that the mere existence of these Palestinians in Israel -- and millions more in the occupied territories -- irks him, Israel's substantial Arab population also blows a hole in his argument about the need to deal with the supposed Iranian nuclear threat.

Morris is part of an increasingly vociferous chorus warning of an impending apocalypse for Israel at the hands of a nuclear Iran eager to rid the Middle East of its Jews. Yet Iran's religious leaders have repeatedly stated that such weapons are "un-Islamic" or "forbidden under Islam."

Morris' role in our understanding of the region's history is confounding. Arguably, no one played a more central role in exposing Israel's role in the depopulation of Palestinians from their homeland than Morris. In his seminal work, "The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem," Morris, using declassified military documents, exposes the calculated effort by early Israeli leaders to impose a Jewish majority through ethnic cleansing.

Long considered a champion of modern Israeli historians who sought to shed light on the ugly side of Israel's birth, Morris shocked many Israelis and Palestinians alike when he later changed course. To Morris, the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians was no longer the problem at the heart of the conflict; in fact, he suggested that the problem was that Israel didn't finish the job in 1948.

Morris said in a 2004 interview "Under some circumstances expulsion is not a war crime. I don't think that the expulsions of 1948 were war crimes. You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs. You have to dirty your hands."

Morris added later in the interview that if Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, "was already engaged in expulsion, maybe he should have done a complete job. ... If he had carried out a full expulsion - rather than a partial one - he would have stabilized the state of Israel for generations."

Yet the pesky Palestinian minority Morris wishes had been expelled decades ago serves as a deterrent from a nuclear-armed Iran, should the Islamic Republic ever build nuclear weapons and consider using them on Israel. The fact that Arab Israelis were among the casualties of the 2006 war with Hezbollah speaks to the reality that no nuclear attack on Israel could happen without the deaths of countless Palestinians and Israelis, not to mention the likely destruction of Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam.

The reality of Palestinian casualties, the destruction of Jerusalem, the onset of regional war and the immediate destruction of Iran's regime as a result of a multilateral conventional or even nuclear counterattack all serve as a credible deterrent to a nuclear Iran. The Iranian leadership has shown a demonstrable interest in self-preservation

The alarmism espoused Morris and company isn't grounded in reality. Rather
- just as with Iraq, Syria and now Iran - Israel constantly needs an enemy that it says threatens its existence. Otherwise the Jewish state would have a harder time maintaining its overwhelming military supremacy in the region and continuously changing the subject from resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to practically anything else.

The ideology at the foundation of the state of Israel and the very justification for its existence requires the existence of apocalyptic anti-Semitic forces with the intent and capability to annihilate. Without these boogeymen, whether it is Saddam Hussein, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Arabs who "want to push Israel into the sea," the state of Israel ceases to have any justification for the maintenance of a Jewish majority by force or for its ongoing occupation of Palestinian lands.

The fact that Benjamin Netanyahu, the pro-colonization Israeli prime minister, has made every effort to connect the idea of a nuclear Iran to the Holocaust is evidence of this scare-mongering. Iran, like Iraq in 2003, is an inflated but necessary fear for Israel. No credible analysis of the situation envisions a scenario in which Iran would use nuclear weapons against the Jewish state. But proponents of Israel's colonial enterprise, who support maintaining a Jewish majority by the force of walls and soldiers in occupied territory, want everyone to believe that the focus should be on Iran, not on the occupation, and that Israel's security policies are justifiable against "existential threats."

The need for these inflated threats has increased in the years since Israel signed peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. Despite these agreements, Israel still maintains and furthers its occupation of Palestinian lands through blockade and settlement expansion.

The emperor may be naked in Tel Aviv, but he can continue avoiding attention and shame if he persuades the world to look in Tehran's direction instead.

Brigid Schulte, Washington Post, 4/30/10

The saga of the Virginia license plate that is either a white supremacist message or a tribute to NASCAR continues ...

After I wrote a story last Thursday about local motorists and a Muslim group complaining about a license plate on a Chantilly man's pick-up truck, the driver of the truck, Douglas Story, 46, sent me an email arguing that the license plate -- 14CV88 -- had nothing to do with racism, but rather his love of NASCAR.

The numbers 14 and 88 referred to his two favorite NASCAR drivers, he said, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. The number 14 did not refer, as others had complained, to the late white supremacist David Lane's 14-word motto: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for our white children." Nor, Story said, did the number 88 refer, as the complainants argued, to "Heil Hitler" (H is the eighth letter of the alphabet).

"Prior to this incident, I’d never even heard of David Lane," Story told me Thursday. Lane founded the white supremacist group The Order and was sentenced to 190 years in prison on racketeering and civil rights violations stemming from the murder of Denver radio talk show host Alan Berg.

Story's explanation appeared in Thursday's Post.

And now, as the late Paul Harvey would say, for the rest of the story.

Readers have been emailing me with links to Story's Facebook profile and comments he's left on some Facebook pages.

According to Story's profile, his favorite book is by David Duke. He likes to listen to White Power Metal. Under his Contact Info, he links to the New Saxons website, which advertises itself as "An online community for whites by whites." A web banner for the National Socialist Movement emblazoned with a Nazi swastika marches across the top of the page.

Here is one of Story's posts on Facebook's "Band of Heroes" gaming page:

No folks, the "Holocaust" is really the Gentiles' jew masters pulling the wool over our eyes, the "holocaust", or rather, the HOLOHOAX is just that, A HOAX!!! Never happened, and I refuse to fight in this game "Band of Heroes" for the interests of jews (Germany NEVER attacked the US, so we had NO business in the European theater of Operations). I will, however, fight those sneaky, Pearl Harbor bombing jap bastards (like my Granddaddy did in the Philippines).

Arguing that his license plate was purely about NASCAR and had nothing to do with race, Story told me that he had a Jewish sister-in-law and had attended his niece's bat mitzvah. He denied being anti-Semitic.

But here's how he describes himself on Facebook:

"100% WHITE MAN, 100% ARYAN, 100% PRO-LIFE (Children are innocent), 100% PRO DEATH PENALTY (Criminal Scum aren't innocent).
Over the past 28 years; I, like David Duke, have had an Awakening."

Note to self: In these days of social media, Twitter and personal oversharing on the web, always check Facebook...

When I called Story to ask about the Facebook page, he continued to maintain that his license plate message had nothing to with racism. He stuck by his NASCAR story. "Southern white men. Southern white sport. What else needs to be said?" he said.

Story acknowledged that he thinks of himself as 100 percent Aryan. "Aryan is a Sanskrit word that means noble," he said, "no matter what spin the liberal media tries to put on it as being a racist, hate word."

He said he is an admirer of David Duke, who, he said was "reamed by the media because of his Klan affiliations." "I am a white nationalist," Story said. "I am in favor of the whites having their own homeland." When I asked him where that homeland would be, he said he didn't know. "The Pacific Northwest maybe. Alaska. Denmark. Greenland. Iceland."

I asked if he really thought that the Holocaust was a hoax. "I don't know what to think," he said.

I also called Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, who had sent the Virginia DMV a letter complaining about the plate last week...

"We'd like to extend an invitation for him to come to CAIR and meet with regular Muslims to clear up some of his misperceptions about Islam," Hooper said. "And because he clearly also has misperceptions about people of other colors and our staff is very diverse, we may be able to clear up some of those as well."

Story said he wasn't interested. (More)


Michael Cavna, Washington Post, 4/30/10

Molly Norris, the Seattle artist who drew and circulated an "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!" cartoon to support "South Park's" censored creators, not only has distanced herself from the viral campaign her work spawned. Now she also playfully prefers a different campaign:

"Everybody Draw Al Gore Day."

In a new video posted on her website, Norris -- who draws for Seattle's City Arts magazine -- addresses the sensation that arose around her cartoon last week, and conveys her surprise at what a large national nerve her cartoon struck. (As she told Comic Riffs last week: "I made a cartoon that went viral but [this campaign] isn't really my thing.")

Norris makes a point to apologize to "everyone of the Muslim faith who has or will be offended" by her cartoon and supports calling off "Everyone Draw Mohammed Day," which was set for May 20. She also urges America's Muslims and non-Muslims to come together -- to meet "halfway."

In a lighter turn, Norris reaches out to the "South Park" creators she supported, saying: "I could use a little support from you guys." Norris had dedicated the "Mohammed" cartoon to show creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker, who say Comedy Central edited their work and censored attempts to depict Muhammad. (More)



Wow. How the mighty have fallen. It might be too early to call it the end but it looks like ex-booze buddies Andrew Bostom and Robert Spencer are at each others throats. Bostom is accusing Spencer of plagiarism, and Spencer is replying that he is "miffed" by the accusation.

The sorry fact is that both of them plagiarize from Orientalists who have made the same arguments and presented the same research centuries ago. (More)



(Ottawa, Canada – April 30th, 2010) - The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) has strongly condemned the defacement of a sign marking the future location of the South Nepean Muslim Community Centre in Barrhaven, Ottawa. Offensive words, phrases, and symbols were sprayed in red and black paint on the sign and were discovered early this morning by local residents. The incident has been reported to local Police. CAIR-CAN calls on the Ottawa Police to ensure that this incident is investigated swiftly and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

In a statement released today, CAIR-CAN said:

"Such acts are offensive, hurtful and intimidating to local citizens. Unfortunately, there have been several such incidents reported to CAIR-CAN in the last 4 months. Mosques in Hamilton, Calgary, and Waterloo were vandalized and hate messages were spray-painted outside a mosque in Pickering earlier this week,” said Ihsaan Gardee, CAIR-CAN Executive Director.

“While the recurrence of such incidents is deeply disturbing, CAIR-CAN does not believe that such acts represent the sentiments of the vast majority of Canadians, which is why we ask our fellow citizens to join us in condemning this and all such incidents.”

“CAIR-CAN urges mosque officials and community members to remain vigilant and to immediately document and report suspicious behaviour to the proper authorities, and to CAIR-CAN, in order to establish a clear record of such incidents.”

See photos here & here.

CAIR-CAN is a national, non-profit, grassroots organization striving to be a leading voice that enriches Canadian society through Muslim civic engagement and the promotion of human rights.

CONTACT: Ihsaan Gardee, CAIR-CAN Executive Director, 613.254.9704; 613.853.4111


Matthew Pearson, The Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — Racist graffiti has marred a sign marking the future site of a mosque in Barrhaven.

The messages — "F*** Muslims," "Ragheads Go" — and a swastika were spray painted onto the sign at 3020 Woodroffe Ave., near Claridge Drive, between Thursday night and Friday morning. (More)



We are hearing for the first time tonight, the moments after gunfire erupted at a Dearborn warehouse.

Watch the video here.


Albany council members call for Justice Department review of FBI prosecutions of Muslims
Katie Brandenburg, Hearst Newspapers

WASHINGTON -- Two Albany Common Council members on Thursday urged the Department of Justice to review terrorism cases that they say unfairly targeted Muslims.

They hope to get city councils around the nation to join with them in calling for an independent panel to review cases of Muslims convicted through "pre-emptive prosecution," a federal law enforcement tactic of conducting sting operations against Muslims in the United States suspected of having terrorist links.

Council members Dominick Calsolaro and Barbara Smith spoke at the National Press Club about a resolution the council approved April 5 that condemned the practice and requested that the Justice Department review it.

The resolution describes "pre-emptive prosecution" as an FBI program in which Muslims not involved in criminal activity are targeted and then prosecuted based on electronic surveillance and other "secret'' evidence.

In a 2009 report, the Justice Department's inspector general said a review of past terrorism cases should be considered to see if Muslims were unfairly targeted. (More)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Anti-Islam Ads Pulled from Miami Buses
CAIR-SFL applauds end to 'campaign of hatred and intolerance'

(MIAMI, FL, 4/16/10) -- The South Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-SFL) today announced that Miami-Dade Transit is dropping bus advertisements sponsored by an anti-Islam hate group.

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CAIR-SFL asked that the ads, produced by the hate group Stop the Islamization of America, be dropped because they promote bigotry and may fuel discrimination against ordinary Florida Muslims.

SEE: Miami-Dade Transit Says It Will Remove 'Offensive' Bus Ads (Miami Herald)

"We believe Miami-Dade Transit did the right thing in dropping this campaign of hatred and intolerance," said CAIR-SFL Executive Director Muhammed Malik. "The advertisement’s reference to apostasy is merely a smoke-screen for the promotion of anti-Islam bigotry and the attempted marginalization of American Muslims."

He said Stop the Islamization of America’s leaders, Pam Geller and Robert Spencer, are considered by many Muslims to be among the nation’s most vicious Islamophobes.

On her personal blog, Geller has written of President Obama: "[O]ne thing is for sure: Hussein is a muhammadan [sic]."

Geller has been vocal in her criticism of the black population in South Africa and seemingly supportive of the slain South African apartheid leader Eugene Terre'blanche. Following Terre'blanche's recent murder, Geller wrote: "All I see in South Africa is Black supremacism. Terreblanche [sic] may have been a white supremacist, but he's the dead one."

Her blog has in the past features categories such as "Advancing Islamic Lies," "Islam 2008: Religion of Barbarism" and "Slavery: An Arab custom." She was recently involved in a Florida conference that invited extremist anti-Islam Dutch politician Geert Wilders to speak.

In one 2009 blog post, Geller wrote in reference to Islam's Prophet Muhammad: "And frankly I find the whole new 'Abrahamic' narrative really galling. 1,400 years ago some maniaic [sic] decided to spin the origin of a 5,767 year old religion to advance their own evil end and said it was Ishmael that Abraham was to kill and now it's taken as.....gospel? Puhleeeze."

She also claims Muslim groups "control information and how it is processed at senior levels of the CIA, the FBI, the Pentagon, and the various branches of the military."

Geller has even been criticized by other Islamophobes for her extremism and for supporting far-right fascist groups in Europe. In fact, Stop the Islamization of America is an outgrowth of a similar group in Europe that seeks to block the construction of mosques on that continent. Stop the Islamization of Europe also "considers Islamophobiato be the height of common sense" and claims that Islam "considers lying to be not only acceptable, but obligatory."

Robert Spencer has also been criticized for the extremism exhibited on his personal anti-Muslim web site "Jihad Watch," which recently compared Muslims to Nazis. Jihad Watch Board Vice President Hugh Fitzgerald wrote: "When I see thousands of people in a mosque, I am put in mind not of a gathering at St. Peter's, but rather, of a Nuremberg Rally, a horizontal collective affair, rather than vertical, with the prostration itself performing, or signifying, blind obedience of the kind that, at the real Nuremberg, is signified by the heil-hitlering salute of thousands, yelling in unison, and saluting, and re-saluting." [Spencer refused to repudiate those statements.]

Fitzgerald also wrote on that hate site: "Only one group, only one belief-system, distinguishes itself by appearing incapable of fitting in. And that is Muslims, and Islam...if one really knew what Islam contained...then how could any decent person remain a Muslim?" He also recommended that western nations be "Islam-proofed the way a house is child-proofed."

One then right-wing critic wrote of Spencer's blog: "His website has descended into a true hate site at this point, dominated by extreme, bigoted commenters who regularly advocate genocide and mass murder of Muslims." [That writer has since broken with the far-right, in part because of pervasive anti-Islam bigotry its proponents often exhibit.]

In 2007, Spencer spoke at a so-called "Counterjihad Brussels" conference in Belgium attended by those with links to far-right parties such as Filip Dewinter of Vlaams Belang (Belgium) and Ted Ekeroth of Sverigedemokraterna (Sweden). Both parties have been accused of either having a racist platform, a neo-Nazi past or having links to neo-Nazis and other racists.

"The bus ads are part of a growing 'Islamophobia machine' nationwide that must be challenged by Americans of all faiths," said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad.

He noted that CAIR has long held that religious decisions should be matters of personal choice, not a cause for state intervention. According to CAIR's position statement on Islam and apostasy: "Faith imposed by force is not true belief, but coercion. Islam has no need to compel belief in its divine truth."

Awad also said that the FBI has been asked to investigate allegations that another Florida-based hate group has been harassing members of that state's Muslim community.

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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CAIR: Muslim Appointed to Fla. Commission Despite Smears

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 4/28/10) -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reported today that a Muslim university professor has been appointed to the Jacksonville, Fla., Human Rights Commission despite a prolonged smear campaign by the anti-Islam hate group ACT! for America, whose leader says Muslims should not be allowed to hold public office.

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Parvez Ahmed, a professor at the University of North Florida, was appointed to the commission by a 13-6 city council vote last night after being subjected to weeks of smears based on his previous community activism and his political views. [Ahmed is a past national board chairman of CAIR.]

As the city council began discussion of the nomination, one of its members called Ahmed to the podium and asked him to "say a prayer to your God." The same council member also asked Ahmed if the session's opening prayer offended him. When asked why that was relevant, the council member claimed Ahmed "would be offended by a prayer to Jesus, and therefore was not suitable to serve on the commission."

The Florida Times-Union newspaper reports that the council member's inappropriate line of questioning "produced gasps from the audience, concern from one of the city's top attorneys and sharp rebukes from his fellow council members."

SEE: Ahmed Nomination Sails Rockily to Jacksonville Council Approval

During the weeks-long smear campaign against Ahmed, another city council member was asked, "Do you believe Muslims should be able to hold any public office in Florida?" He responded: "I don't know."

SEE: Controversial Florida Politician Unsure if Muslims Should Hold Public Office

"The Florida Muslim community applauds the Jacksonville city council for standing up to the hatred and bigotry promoted by a tiny minority of fear-mongers," said CAIR-Tampa Executive Director Ramzy KiliƧ. "This incident is further evidence of the unfortunately growing 'Islamophobia machine' in our nation that targets any Muslim who seeks positive civic participation."

SEE: Georgia Church Sign Condemns Muslims (CBS)
CAIR-CAN: Anti-Islam Graffiti Found Near Canadian Mosque

He said the leader of ACT! for America, the hate group that campaigned against Ahmed's nomination, claims an American Muslim "cannot be a loyal citizen" and that Islam is the "real enemy." Brigitte Gabriel once told the Australian Jewish News: "Every practicing Muslim is a radical Muslim."

When asked whether Americans should "resist Muslims who want to seek political office in this nation," Gabriel said: "Absolutely. If a Muslim who has -- who is -- a practicing Muslim who believes the word of the Koran to be the word of Allah, who abides by Islam, who goes to mosque and prays every Friday, who prays five times a day -- this practicing Muslim, who believes in the teachings of the Koran, cannot be a loyal citizen to the United States of America."

SEE: A Case Study in Sincere Hypocrisy: Brigitte Gabriel

Gabriel also stated: "America and the West are doomed to failure in this war unless they stand up and identify the real enemy: Islam."

SEE: Islam's March Against the West

One of ACT! for America's Florida representatives recently bragged in a YouTube videothat he desecrated the Quran, Islam's revealed text, and urinates in the washing stations Muslims use to perform their ritual ablutions (wudu) for prayer.

A complaint has been filed with the FBI alleging harassment of Florida Muslims by ACT! for America.

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.