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Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism

Misunderstanding Islamic Antisemitism

Andrew G Boston is an author who has been working on his manuscript, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism

He has written a very interesting article Misunderstanding Islamic Antisemitism, which serves somewhat as a prelude to the upcoming release of his new book. Its posted on American Thinker.
He poses to the reader to identify the period in which this vile antisemitc passage which appears below was written, its a challenge not without some consequence.
Our people [the Muslims] observing thus the occupations of the Jews and the Christians concluded that the religion of the Jews must compare unfavorably as do their professions, and that their unbelief must be the foulest of all, since they are the filthiest of all nations. Why the Christians, ugly as they are, are physically less repulsive than the Jews may be explained by the fact that the Jews, by not intermarrying, have intensified the offensiveness of their features. Exotic elements have not mingled with them; neither have males of alien races had intercourse with their women, nor have their men cohabited with females of a foreign stock. The Jewish race therefore has been denied high mental qualities, sound physique, and superior lactation. The same results obtain when horses, camels, donkeys, and pigeons are inbred.

After reading this passage, do try to date the period in which this rather vile writing appeared, you may be in for a surprise.

Make sure you read his full article Here.

Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism (to be published later this month).

AmericanThinker: Misunderstanding Islamic Antisemitism
Andrew G. Boston: The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Red Sea a novel by Emily Benedek

Red Sea

Emily Benedek
Pages: 373
ISBN, 9780312354916
St Martins Press
Release Date: 18th September

Author and insider Emily Benedek was recently approached by a former top official in the Israeli Defense Forces asking if she would be interested in documenting specific insider secrets regarding the perilous state of international security. After Benedek agreed to several closed-door meetings, she concluded that there was no way
to reveal the sensitive information imparted to her in a work of nonfiction;
her source, still active in the security world, had to maintain anonymity.
Benedek’s confidential meetings dealing with the frightening holes in our
national security infrastructure were the genesis of her timely and
thrilling new novel RED SEA.

Emily Benedek's first venture into fiction after an expansive journey in non fiction publishing is notable to say the least.

She has written a novel in the suspense/spy thriller genre whilst set in a contemporary context.

It is a novel once read leaves the reader vastly dissatisfied.

Fortunately this dissatisfaction isn't with the author's penmanship or style of prose, rather the dissatisfaction comes from the awareness of just how vulnerable we are to a major terrorist attack. Emily Benedek has dared to confront the unmentionable.

The Red Sea can't help but bring up feelings of uneasiness, it ruptures the agreement most of us subconsciously have made to distance ourselves from the psychological trauma that has marked the beginning of the 21st century.

Just when you have managed to assure yourself that the sun will rise tomorrow, the gapping festering wound that is terrorism is callously ripped open.

If you kid yourself that everything is going to be alright no matter what, then this book isn't for you. If your willing to ask what if? Then be prepared for a flight into the dark recesses of fear and suspense.

To describe Red Sea as an edge of the seat thriller, isn't quite accurate, rather it is a variable and terrifying descent into the abyss that is terrorism. The book is well written and brings the reader to that most uncomfortable state we often try to avoid, an awareness of our own possible imminent mortality.

The characters are well defined, quirky and real, the plot takes lots of turns but stays within the realm of a possible reality, Red Sea ultimately its worth of your consideration.

Red Sea is a thriller with an unusual variable tempo, it doesn't always jump from brake neck speed from one event to another, rather it lulls you into a sense of safety before cruelly taking it away..

4 Bagels
Review by Mr Bagel

Click read more to see Biography and Excerpt

Author Biography

Emily Benedek’s writing has appeared in Newsweek, Rolling Stone, and The New York Times. She spent a year following an FBI special agent and SWAT team operator and wrote about an American F15-C fighter pilot who flew in Operation Shock and Awe. Red Sea is her first novel.


Four airliners are blown out of the sky---a devastating string of attacks taking hundreds of lives and striking fear into people and governments around the globe. Marie Peterssen, an ambitious young aviation reporter, has a hunch about the crashes, and her suspicions are confirmed when she’s approached by Julian Granot, an Israeli airline security expert and former Special Forces commando who has noticed her work.

Julian offers Marie a rare lead, one that will send her to London and later into the devastation of war-torn Iraq. With the help of a maverick FBI agent, Morgan Ensley, Marie stumbles onto the makings of a terrorist plot well beyond the destruction of airliners: the detonation of a rogue nuclear device in New York Harbor. The terrorists know that America’s most vulnerable spot is its transportation system, and they mean to exploit it. Time is short.

But Marie is in the grip of circumstances beyond her control. Julian’s intentions are unclear: Is he helping a journalist uncover answers the world craves, or is he setting up the girl to flush out an Islamic terrorist who killed Julian’s partner twenty years earlier?

Julian holds the key, but Marie’s role in the frantic race to unravel the plot grows when she learns that she may be tied to the terrorist leader in a more personal way.

Buy it from:
Barnes and Noble

Publisher: St martin's Press


Sunday, September 9, 2007



by Ronald Green

A opinion piece by Ronald Green, cousin of Antony Loewenstein first published in September 2006, published at Mr Bagel Reviews with permission of the author.

The recently published book "My Israel Question" by Antony Loewenstein is an auspicious event - for the author, obviously, but perhaps more so for the rest of us. It is not the book itself that is important, since any book endorsed by John Pilger and Robert Fisk will not leave any surprises as to its contents. And in case we are in any doubt, the front cover showing a temporary Star of David about to dissipate in a pristine blue sky leaves very little to the imagination as to the author's wishful thinking.

But it is a good time to ask WHY? Not about Pilger and Fisk, for we have been dealing with their ilk for as long as there were Jews in the world. The question is: Why is Loewenstein the way he is? How did a Jewish boy, whose grandparents escaped from Germany in the 30's and who grew up in a warm Jewish house in Melbourne become obsessed with turning against his past? Loewenstein, after all, was always aware of the centrality of Jerusalem to the Jewish people, and long before "Zionist" became a dirty word for him, he read about yearnings for the return to Zion countless times in his prayer book. Did this only child take teenage revolt so far as to turn over all the tables and cross every red line? And what is he still proving?

It is serious to label someone a racist. Loewenstein is a racist. In that he is not unique, of course. The phenomenon is interesting in his case not only because it is something of which he accuses others (very common among the righteous left), but because his racism manifests itself in a self-loathing that finds its outlet in his obsessive ravings against Israel, Israelis, Zionists and assorted other Jews.

Every Jewish community has its Loewenstein, some have even a number of those suffering from the Loewenstein Syndrome.

What is the Loewenstein Syndrome and what distinguishes it from your common or garden racist? A racist is generally defined as a person with a prejudiced belief that one race is superior to others. A Loewenstein Syndrome sufferer is a person with a prejudiced and obsessive belief that his race is inferior to others; "inferior" in this case means more evil, more inherently wicked than others. Since it is obsessive, there is virtually nothing the sufferer won't do in order to prove that he is right.

In the Loewenstein Syndrome, Israel cannot do anything right or be condoned for any behaviour whatsoever, even in defence of its very life, because the country was born in original sin. The very fact of Israel's existence is an affront. It's not a matter of withdrawing to pre-67 lines, for example, for even that comes with provisos that mean dismantling of the Jewish state.

It is clear from Loewenstein's writings that Israel is some sort of aberration as far as he is concerned. His book (as stated on its website) mentions that "Israel asserts the right of the Jewish state to exist". Note the wording: not that Israel has the right to exist, but that Israel asserts it has that right. But Loewenstein also has his humanitarian side, as attested by Sarah Smiles in WILLING TO CRITIQUE ISRAEL (The Melbourne Age – 20 August, 2006), who informs us that "while he supports Israel's right to exist" (thanks; we also support Loewenstein's right to exist, but we don't think we need to state it as if it is a great concession), he has a problem with the concept of a Jewish state.

Strangely - but not so when we take into account the Loewenstein Syndrome - he does not have a problem with the concept of Islamic states.

A symptom of the Loewenstein Syndrome, one that is soothing for the sufferer, is the simplicity of the world's problems as seen through his eyes. So here we have Loewenstein's definition and example of racism:

"If an Israeli marries a Palestinian from the Occupied Territories - they can't have the same rights of citizenship," says Loewenstein."That's racism, pure and simple." (Sarah Smiles, ibid)

Loewenstein needs to pass on that simple message to countries in Europe, for example, where marriage to a non-citizen does not grant automatic citizenship. Racists all?

And so Haifa being bombed is not as bad as Beirut being bombed. And we all know who started the last war, don't we? This is Loewenstein's take on it:

"At base, this war has never been about the retrieval of the Hizbollah-abducted Israeli soldiers. That was just the trigger. Washington's key proxy in the Middle East is attempting to decapitate the two nations not under Western control, Syria and Iran, and in the process prove to the Arab world that any military conflict with Israel will result in overwhelming force against its people." (Courier Mail, 7 August 2006).

Note the subtle last few words, where Israel's action always results in overwhelming force against innocent people.

Of course Israel always breaks international law, as far as Loewenstein is concerned. But what about when it doesn't? Loewenstein, never one to let facts come in his way, says:

"Nasrallah has become a symbol of Muslim pride, a man unafraid to stand up to Israeli aggression." (Courier Mail, 7 August 2006).

Loewenstein, who quotes UN resolutions with alacrity, does not, this time, mention that Israel withdrew to UN-recognised borders. How does he define "aggression" when it comes to Israel? Obviously the way Hizbollah does: Israel's very existence.

"Total victory, as outlined by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, is impossible to achieve because Israel is fighting an opponent that was born to challenge Israel's provocations."

Which provocations, one wonders, are those?

Although those with Loewenstein Syndrome don't necessarily have to be particularly intelligent, they do suffer from the illusion that they can fool all the people all of the time, so that even when they are unable to deny what is being said by Israel's enemies, they can mitigate it through sleight of hand. Even when Loewenstein cannot ignore Iran's president calling for Israel to be wiped off the map and a denial of the Holocaust to boot, he does call the remarks "both unacceptable and repulsive" ("Spinning us to war in Iran" - Znet, March 8, 2006), only to immediately question why wiping Israel off the map would be genocide.

"Rather than focusing on leaders who have actually caused death and destruction - take Bush, Blair and Howard in Iraq and the estimated toll of over 100,000 dead - the Jewish group wanted the world to focus on a country that poses no direct threat to anybody."

Leaving aside Loewenstein's canard that it was Bush, Blair and Howard who killed 100,000 people and not Muslims killing Muslims, he states that Iran "is a country that poses no direct threat to anybody", i.e. the same country that he had quoted a few sentences earlier as "calling for Israel to be wiped off the map." It gets even more muddled. A few sentences later Loewenstein has Iran merely as a "perceived threat to the Jewish state" and that "Israeli generals and politicians know Iran is not a serious threat", but two sentences further on tells us that "Iranian influence now stretches through Iraq, through the Kurdistan region into Turkey, a weak Syria and through into Lebanon's Hezbollah-dominated south, on Israel's border. Iran's reach also extends into the Arabian peninsula through Shiite communities scattered in the Persian Gulf countries." This is not just bad writing, unacceptable even for a first-year undergraduate, but a lame, albeit clumsy attempt to deny the obvious.

Racism and demonisation go together, and George Orwell would have been proud of Antony Loewenstein. It is interesting how the word Zionism has gradually and relentlessly been given an evil connotation. Like Pavlov's dog and the bell, if you hear the juxtaposition of Zionism and Nazism enough times, people will have a knee-jerk reaction to Zionism even when mentioned on its own. How evil does "the Zionist state" sound when used by Loewenstein! Almost as odious is "The Jewish state". And there is, of course, the "Zionist lobby" in the USA, in Australia, in fact everywhere. This is not anti-Semitism, of course, but anti-Zionism.

Those with Loewenstein Syndrome don't multi-task. They can only concentrate on their one obsession: the evil that is Israel. Nothing taking place in the world is as bad as what Israel does. Not Darfur, not Ethiopia, not Chechenya, not massacres in Sri Lanka, not China's suppression of Tibet.

In "THE JERUSALEM SYNDROME" , Andre Glucksmann asks: "Why do the 200,000 slaughtered Muslims of Darfur not arouse even half a quarter of the fury caused by 200 times fewer dead in Lebanon?" Where was the Organization of Islamic States when the Russian Army razed the capital of Chechnian Muslims (Grosny, with 400,000 residents) killing tens of thousands of children in the process. More to the point: Where was Loewenstein? He has an excuse: the Syndrome, which cause him to be horrified only when a Muslim is killed by Israelis. We should also ask why Palestinian refugees are relentlessly kept where they - physically by the Arabs and spiritually in the world's gaze by the Loewenstein Syndromers. Jewish refugees from Arab countries in the '40s and '50s? Not important. Whose fault must it be that Arab refugees have been left to rot in camps for 58 years? The Jews, of course. Sorry, the Zionists that support the original sin that is Israel.

The most heinous of acts by those with Loewenstein Syndrome is the insidious and relentless subliminal message that the misfortunes of the world are due to Israel's existence. As Glucksman puts it:

"As long as four million Israelis and as many Palestinians are facing off against one another, 300 million Arabs and 1.5 billion Muslims are condemned to live in hate, bloody slaughter and desperation. And the rosier version:We just need peace in Jerusalem to put out the fires in Tehran, Karachi, Khartoum and Baghdad and to set the course for universal harmony."

Just as the Germans wrote at their rallies in the '30s "Die Juden sind unserer Unglück" (The Jews are our misfortune), so the world is led to believe that every bad thing that has happened and is happening, from the deadly Khomeini Revolution, the bloody Baathist dictatorships in Syria and Iraq, the decade of Islamic terrorism in Algeria, the Taliban in Afghanistan, none would have occurred if it hadn't been for the founding of the Zionist state. The conclusion is that if only Israel were to disappear, there would be peace on earth with all living in harmony.

For those who have Loewenstein Syndrome, Israel is guilty. It is guilty if it defends itself, it is guilty if it builds a wall to stop suicide bombers killing its children, it is guilty because it is. It is guilty because it exists.

Those with Loewenstein Syndrome do not threaten Israel and neither do they threaten Zionist organizations. The problem is not ours. The problem is theirs.

With gratitude to Ronald Green for Permission to publish.
Also published at The Blank Pages of the Age


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Throwing Bombs instead of Bacon sandwiches...

A radical view of UK Islamism

For anyone who thought that Brick Lane in the East End of London was all curry houses and wistful Jewish memory, Ed Husain’s startlingly honest account of growing up in the area’s Bangladeshi community, The Islamist: Why I Joined Radical Islam in Britain, What I Saw Inside and Why I Left (Penguin, £8.99) is a warning of how easily extremism can creep into a vacuum of belonging.

It is hardly news that Brick Lane has played host to poor immigrant communities, and been the site of religious battles. (It was here that Jewish anarchists pelted ultra-Orthodox worshippers with bacon sandwiches on Yom Kippur in 1904, outside what is now the Brick Lane Mosque.) But starting with his childhood days following his grandfather — a respected Sufi elder — Husain compellingly describes his journey of descent from the seemingly innocuous Young Muslim Organisation (YMO) to the radical Hizb ut-Tahrir.

“The Hizb”, as its adherents call it, is a political Islamic organisation seeking the establishment of an Islamic khalifya — caliphate — in the Middle East. Its members seem to know little about the “true” Islam of their forefathers, the prayer rituals, the nuances or even love espoused by the Prophet Mohammed. Instead, this is a world of angry young men, which leads to lies, confrontation and, eventually, murder: as witnessed by Husain.

This is a disturbing but educational read about the extremist mentality, and the grounds in which it breeds.


Penguin Website Synopsis:

When I was sixteen I became an Islamic fundamentalist. Five years later, after much emotional turmoil, I rejected fundamentalist teachings and returned to normal life and my family. I tried to put my experiences behind me, but as the events of 7/7 unfolded it became clear to me that Islamist groups pose a threat to this country that we — Muslims and non-Muslims alike — do not yet understand.

Why are young British Muslims becoming extremists? What are the risks of another home-grown terrorist attack on British soil? By describing my experiences inside these groups, the reasons I joined them and how, after leaving I recovered my faith and mind, I hope to explain the appeal of extremist thought, how fanatics penetrate Muslim communities and the truth behind their agenda of subverting the West and moderate Islam. Writing candidly about life after extremism, I illustrate the depth of the problem that now grips Muslim hearts and minds. I will lay bare what politicians and Muslim 'community leaders' do not want you to know.

This is the first time an ex-member openly discusses life within radical Islamic organisations. This is my story.

Penguin: The Islamist

with thanks to

The Jewish Chronicle: A radical view of UK Islamism

Amazon UK: The Islamist: Why I Joined Radical Islam in Britain, What I Saw Inside and Why I Left (Paperback)


Norman Finkelstein threatens to go on starvation diet

DePaul memos tell of run-ins with professor

If embattled DePaul University professor Norman Finkelstein carries out his pledge to engage in civil disobedience at the start of the fall term Wednesday, it won't be his first confrontation with school administrators and campus police, according to internal university memos obtained by the Tribune.

Finkelstein, both lauded and decried for his strong criticisms of Israel, was denied tenure in June. His classes, however, remained in the university's course schedule, and students were enrolled. The classes were abruptly canceled Aug. 24, at which point Finkelstein himself was notified he was being put on "administrative leave," he said.

Oral and physical confrontations between Finkelstein and university officials began shortly after his tenure denial, according to a memo written by university Provost Helmut Epp.

The provost's memo, dated June 26, alleges that Finkelstein "angrily confronted" other faculty and staff and engaged them with "threatening and discourteous behavior" after being denied tenure.

On three such occasions, campus security officers were called to intervene, according to the provost's memo. When a dean attempted to escape a confrontation by ducking into an elevator, Finkelstein physically tried to keep the door from closing, according to the provost's account.

On Wednesday morning, Finkelstein, whose case has attracted wide attention both within and beyond the academic world, intends to teach a symbolic reincarnation of one of the scratched classes, "Equality in Social Justice," at a public library near DePaul's Lincoln Park campus.

Afterward, he has announced, he will attempt to enter his office, from which he has been barred. He promised to go on a hunger strike if jailed for his effort, a vow Finkelstein renewed in an interview Sunday.

"I am morally, mentally and emotionally depleted right now," said Finkelstein, 53. "But I will find the resources to fight this next battle."
[Some might remark Finkelstein has been morally depleted for a lot longer that that. ]
The provost's memo and other memos relating to the case have been circulating widely among faculty members, said Jonathan Cohen, a professor of mathematics at DePaul.

Other faculty members have said they regretted the administration's silence on the subject, fearing students might follow Finkelstein's example of civil disobedience, putting their academic careers in jeopardy. At a convocation Friday marking the start of the academic year, several dozen protesters wore T-shirts proclaiming: "We are all Professor Finkelstein." Reportedly, some faculty wore the shirts under their academic gowns.

Finkelstein's support among colleagues, once considerable, had been waning.

On July 10, according to one newly obtained memo, the political science department informed the provost that Finkelstein's actions "constitute unacceptable and unprofessional behavior." It recommended that Finkelstein be granted "non-residential leave" for the 2007-08 academic year by DePaul, a Catholic university founded by the Vincentian order. Traditionally in academia, a faculty member denied tenure is owed a final year in the classroom.

Earlier, the political science department had strongly supported Finkelstein's cause, voting in favor of his application for tenure. Even so, his departmental colleagues had noted Finkelstein's no-holds-barred writing style, saying that in his books, "careful and important scholarly arguments are often sprinkled with ad hominem attacks, invective and unsparing criticism."

Finkelstein, himself Jewish, has been accused of fomenting anti-Semitism through his unrelenting criticism of Israel and Jewish leaders, a charge he denied to an Israeli newspaper:

"I am just the messenger who reports on the actions of the Jewish establishments, actions that are encouraging anti-Semitism," he said.

As Finkelstein's tenure review went up the administrative ladder, its fortunes turned. Chuck Suchar, the dean Finkelstein allegedly confronted in an elevator, found Finkelstein's approach to scholarship inconsistent with DePaul's "Vincentian values," including respect for the opinions of others.

In Sunday's interview, Finkelstein turned that charge back upon the university.

"It is rather regrettable that DePaul is carrying on the spirit of Chicago's Al Capone rather than St. Vincent de Paul," Finkelstein said.

During the long struggle over Finkelstein's tenure, DePaul was besieged with letters and e-mails by his supporters and detractors. Finkelstein has engaged in a long-running battle with Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz, a strong supporter of Israel. Finkelstein's supporters have included intellectual heavyweights such as social critic and linguist Noam Chomsky and the late Raul Hilberg, the dean of Holocaust historians.

Two years ago, Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, DePaul's president, seemed to be in Finkelstein's camp. When supporters of another fired faculty member alleged he was being muzzled and asked why Finkelstein wasn't, Holtschneider replied that Finkelstein's presence on campus marked DePaul's commitment to freedom of inquiry.

In June, however, Holtschneider endorsed the finding of the school's tenure board that Finkelstein be denied tenure.

Denise Mattson, associate vice president for public relations, said Sunday that the university couldn't comment on the memos obtained by the Tribune. She said the university considers the memos personal documents. She added: "The reason for [Finkelstein's] administrative leave was not related to the tenure decision but rather to unacceptable behavior exhibited on campus in June."

Finkelstein denied picking or perpetuating a fight with the university, saying he continues to hope for negotiations to resolve the issue under conditions acceptable to both sides. But, he added, he intends to leave with his head held high, his reputation intact.

He cited the example of a folk-singer, actor and civil rights crusader long celebrated on the political left.

"One of my heroes is Paul Robeson, who said, 'I will not retreat one-thousandth part of one inch,'" Finkelstein said. "And I won't either."

...and we will not care "one-thousandth part of one inch" either Norman.

Chicago DePaul memos tell of run-ins with professor

Kippertip for original article to YWL


Chaim Bermant prize for journalism

Chaim Bermant

The Chaim Bermant prize for Journalism closes shortly.

Chaim Bermant Prize

The Jewish Book Council and The Jewish Chronicle are delighted to announce the establishment of the Chaim Bermant Prize for Journalism in memory of the author and journalist, who was a leading light of The Jewish Chronicle for forty years until his death in 1998. The first award will be presented at Jewish Book Week in February 2008.

Chaim Bermant was both witty and wise to a rare degree. He was one of the leading chroniclers and critics of his age, and his weekly column in The Jewish Chronicle was compulsory reading over decades.

Described by the late Lord Jakobovits, the former Chief Rabbi, as “Anglo-Jewry’s voice of conscience” and by himself as a “licensed heretic”, he always wrote memorably and incisively, combining humour and erudition to convey his original and often irreverent perspective on the issues of the day.

Chaim Bermant’s voice reached well beyond the Jewish community. He regularly contributed feature articles and reviews to many of the nation’s broadsheets and periodicals, in particular The Observer and The Sunday Telegraph. He also wrote over thirty books of history, fiction, satire and memoirs, all imbued with his characteristic wit and elegance.

The judges for the first award will be David Rowan, Editor of The Jewish Chronicle, Jonathan Freedland, journalist and author, and Jonny Geller, literary agent and author. They will be looking for journalists whose writing best reflects the qualities that made Chaim Bermant so outstanding and so loved.


The prizes will be open to all journalists, but the subject must have relevance to Jewish themes and/or Israel. There will be two categories:

Published journalist

The winner in this category will be chosen by the judges on the basis of outstanding achievement in the field of journalism, and will receive £3,000. Candidates may be nominated either by themselves or by others, whether private individuals or publications.

Aspiring journalist

This is open to anyone between 18 and 30 on 31st October 2007. Candidates should submit a previously unpublished non-fiction article of between 500 and 1,000 words. The winner will receive £1,000, and the opportunity to have an internship at The Jewish Chronicle. An edited version of the article will be published in The Jewish Chronicle.


The closing date for entry for both prizes is 31st October 2007. Entries, nominations and articles should be sent to Nicole Gordon either by email to or by post to 25 Furnival Street, London EC4A 1JT.

Click here for Terms and Conditions.

Chaim Bermant website: Contest Details
Chaim Bermant website:About Chaim Bermant
Thanks to The Jewish Chronicle


Sunday, September 2, 2007

It seems one Muslim refuses to be Jimmified

Above: A Parody of President Jimmy Carter's New book cover

It's so refreshing to hear discourse from a Muslim that is both studied and critical. I don't necessarily agree with everything this author writes, but in a climate of intimidation and intolerance for dissenting opinions within the Islamic world, Ms Manji is a breath of fresh air.

In this piece which appears in the Australian the author of 'The Trouble with Islam Today, sees through the fallacy of Jimmy Carter's arguments in his book 'Palestine Peace not Apartheid'.

[Click

Irshad Manji: Modern Israel is a far cry from old South Africa

It's absurd to apply the term apartheid to one of the most progressive states in the world, maintains Irshad Manji

IN the past year, a stream of thinkers across the West - from Australian writer Antony Loewenstein to US academics John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt - has punctured the usual parameters of debate about Israel. I, for one, welcome any effort to prevent ideas from calcifying into ideologies. As a Muslim refusenik, that's what I do by defying the conventional prejudices of my fellow Muslims. Why would I resent refuseniks of a different kind?

It's precisely because I embrace intellectual pluralism that I respectfully challenge Jimmy Carter's recent critique of Israel as an apartheid state. To be sure, I've long admired the former US president. In my book The Trouble with Islam Today I cite him as an example of how religion can be invoked to tap the best of humanity. In no small measure, it was Carter's appreciation of spiritual values that brought together Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, compelling these former foes to clasp hands over a peace deal.

Which is why Carter's new book disappoints so many of us who champion co-existence. Entitled Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, the book argues that Israel's conduct towards Palestinians mimics South Africa's long-time demonisation of blacks. Of course, certain Israeli politicians have spewed venom at Palestinians, as have some Arab leaders towards Jews, but Israel is far more complex - and diverse - than slogans about the occupation would suggest. In a state practising apartheid, would Arab Muslim legislators wield veto power over anything? At only 20per cent of the population, would Arabs even be eligible for election if they squirmed under the thumb of apartheid? Would an apartheid state extend voting rights to women and thepoor in local elections, which Israel didfor the first time in the history of Palestinian Arabs?

Would the vast majority of Arab Israeli citizens turn out to vote in national elections, as they've usually done? Would an apartheid state have several Arab political parties, as Israel does? In recent Israeli elections, two Arab parties found themselves disqualified for expressly supporting terrorism against the Jewish state. However, Israel's Supreme Court, exercising its independence, overturned both disqualifications. Under any system of apartheid, would the judiciary be free of political interference?

Would an apartheid state award its top literary prize to an Arab? Israel honoured Emile Habibi in 1986, before the intifada might have made such a choice politically shrewd. Would an apartheid state encourage Hebrew-speaking schoolchildren to learn Arabic? Would road signs throughout the land appear in both languages? Even my country, the proudly bilingual Canada, doesn't meet that standard.

Would an apartheid state be home to universities where Arabs and Jews mingle at will, or apartment blocks where they live side by side? Would an apartheid state bestow benefits and legal protections on Palestinians who live outside of Israel but work inside its borders? Would human rights organisations operate openly in an apartheid state? They do in Israel.

For that matter, military officials go public with their criticisms of government policies. In October 2003, the Israel Defence Forces' chief of staff told the press that road closures in the West Bank and Gaza were feeding Palestinian anger. Two weeks later, four former heads of the Shin Bet security service blasted the occupation and called on Ariel Sharon to withdraw troops unilaterally, which later happened in Gaza. Would an apartheid state stomach so much dissent from those mandated to protect the state?

Above all, would media debate the most basic building blocks of the nation? Would a Hebrew newspaper in an apartheid state run an article by an Arab Israeli about why the Zionist adventure has been a total failure? Would it run that article on Israel's independence day? Would an apartheid state ensure conditions for the freest Arabic press in the Middle East, a press so free that it can demonstrably abuse its liberties and keep on rolling? To this day, the East Jerusalem daily Al-Quds hasn't retracted an anti-Israel letter supposedly penned by Nelson Mandela but proven to have been written by an Arab living in The Netherlands.

Even the eminence grise of Palestinian nationalism, the late Edward Said, stated flat out that "Israel is not South Africa". How could it be when an Israeli publisher translated Said's seminal work, Orientalism, into Hebrew? I'll cap this point with a question that Said himself asked of Arabs: "Why don't we fight harder for freedom of opinions in our own societies, a freedom, no one needs to be told, that scarcely exists?"

I disagree: some people still need to be told that Arab "freedoms" don't compare to those of Israel. The people who need reminding are those who now push the South Africa analogy a step further by equating Israel with Nazi Germany. To them, Zionists are committing hate crimes under the totalitarian nightmare that they dub "Zio-Nazism" (like neo-Nazism).

When it comes to granting citizenship, Israel discriminates in the same way as an affirmative action policy, giving the edge to a specific minority that has faced genocidal injustice. Does this amount to Nazism? Spare me. As a Muslim, I could become a citizen of Israel without having to convert. After all, Israel was one of the few countries anywhere to grant shelter, then citizenship, to the Vietnamese boatpeople who sought political asylum in the late 1970s. I don't have to wonder how Syria compares on that score.

Now for the ultimate proof of Israel's flimsy credentials as a bunker of Hitlerian hate: It's the only country in the Middle East to which Arab Christians are voluntarily migrating. And they are also thriving there, notching much higher university attendance rates than the Arab Muslim citizens of Israel, and enjoying better overall health than Jews.

The Holy Land is gut-wrenching and complicated. As much as I applaud Israel's efforts to foster pluralism, I condemn its illegal Jewish settlements and less visible crimes such as the diversion of water away from Palestinian towns. These contradictions of the Israeli state should be exposed, discussed, even pilloried. And they are: openly as well as often. So there's little point in deciding whose camp is the paragon of vice or virtue. The better question might be: who's willing to hear what they don't want to hear? That's the test of whether a country is more than black or white.

Quite refreshing indeed...

The Australian: Irshad Manji: Modern Israel is a far cry from old South Africa
Muslim Refusenik: The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith

Picture Credit:
Parody of Carter Book, a Mr Bagel Original

Elder of Ziyon Thanks for the pointer!


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