The New York Times and the “Israel lobby” (& Brandeis to honor Kushner)

April 26, 2006

* This dispatch primarily concerns Jews who either deliberately work for Israel’s destruction, like Tony Judt and Tony Kushner, or well-meaning but naive left-wing Jews who coddle up to the enemy, as explored in the pieces below by Dennis Prager and Julia Gorin

* This dispatch concerns America’s so-called “good Jews”; for more on their European equivalents, see Jews against Israel: King, Kaufman, & Judt, Europe’s so-called “good Jews” (Dec. 1, 2005)

 

CONTENTS

1. The New York Times gets in on the act
2. Troubled Jews at the forefront of many anti-Semitic movements
3. Dershowitz on the “The Israel Lobby”
4. “If you believe the left is morally confused… the Jews’ disproportionate involvement on the left is nothing less than a tragedy”
5. Brandeis to honor Tony Kushner
6. Penn State Univ. closes down art exhibit on Palestinian anti-Semitism
7. “Jews and Israel: More voices” (New York Times, April 22, 2006)
8. “A Jewish lobby? Let’s talk about it” (New York Times, April 20, 2006)
9. Unpublished letters to the New York Times in response to Tony Judt’s op-ed
10. “Why are so many Jews liberal?” (By Dennis Prager, Townhall.com, April 25, 2006)
11. “In Birmingham, the benevolent face of jihad” (By Julia Gorin, JWR, April 26, 2006)



[Note by Tom Gross]

THE NEW YORK TIMES GETS IN ON THE ACT

I have not covered the tedious piece of pseudo-scholarship titled “The Israel Lobby” by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, published a month ago in The London Review of Books, because others have already effectively dismantled it for the shoddy, half-baked piece of conspiracy theory that it is.

The London Review of Books, owned and edited by an anti-Israeli Jew (Mary-Kay Wilmers), is known for its diatribes against the existence of the Jewish state. Few take its articles about the Middle East seriously.

The New York Times, which couches its anti-Zionism more carefully, is however taken seriously, and it strikes me as altogether more worrisome that it would invite Tony Judt on to its editorial pages last week to write a follow up to the Walt-Mearsheimer London Review of Books piece. Judt, a Jewish professor at NYU, has for some time campaigned for the destruction of Israel.

TROUBLED JEWS AT THE FOREFRONT OF MANY ANTI-SEMITIC MOVEMENTS

Judt’s article is riddled with falsehoods, distortions, and appeals to the authority of various non-authoritative opinions, all of them Jewish, of course. No doubt Judt is hoping that readers might not be aware that some troubled Jews have been at the forefront of almost every anti-Semitic movement in history, from those Jews who converted to Catholicism only to then advise the Spanish rulers to carry out the inquisition, to those Jewish communists who urged Stalin to persecute “the Jews,” to those Jews in Germany who even asked to join the Nazi party in 1930s Germany.

I don’t attach Judt’s piece – both because of its inaccuracies and because it has already received wide enough circulation on Islamist and far-right websites. I do, however, include a selection of letters (by Christopher Hitchens and others) criticizing the article published by The New York Times, and a further two, which were not. If you have time, I suggest these be read in full.

DERSHOWITZ ON THE “THE ISRAEL LOBBY”

For those outside the U.S. who may wish to know more about the reaction to the “The Israel Lobby” article, I suggest you read the extensive article on it by Alan Dershowitz, the leading Harvard law professor (and a subscriber to this email list).

www.ksg.harvard.edu/research/working_papers/dershowitzreply.pdf

Dershowitz adds: “Walt and Mearshimer repeatedly claim that they have written their paper, at least in part, in order to stimulate dialogue concerning the influence of the Lobby. They claim that it is the pro-Israel side that seeks to suppress public discussion: ‘[The Lobby] does mot want an open debate on issues involving Israel, because an open debate might cause Americans to question the level of support they currently provide.’ Yet the pro-Israel side has risen to the Walt- Mearsheimer challenge and has participated in the marketplace of ideas, only to be greeted by silence from the authors, who have generally refused to defend their views.”

“IF YOU BELIEVE THE LEFT IS MORALLY CONFUSED… THE JEWS’ DISPROPORTIONATE INVOLVEMENT ON THE LEFT IS NOTHING LESS THAN A TRAGEDY”

I also attach below a piece by Dennis Prager who writes that “The most frequently asked question I receive from non-Jews about Jews is, why are Jews so liberal?” (I should emphasize that the Jews to which Prager is referring are not hostile to Israel, like Judt is, but in Prager’s view misguided.)

After listing six reasons to explain why Jews are so liberal (a preoccupation with social justice, and so on), Prager concludes with two scenarios “If you believe that leftist ideas and policies are good for America and for the world, then you are particularly pleased to know how deeply Jews – with their moral passion, intellectual energies and abilities, and financial clout – are involved with the Left. If, on the other hand, you believe that the Left is morally confused and largely a destructive force in America and the world, then the Jews’ disproportionate involvement on the Left is nothing less than a tragedy – for the world and especially for the Jews.”

The final article below, by Julia Gorin, concerns the recent invitation by Rabbi Jonathan Miller of Temple Emanu-El in Birmingham, Alabama, to host Bosnia’s Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric. Ceric was invited to address an interfaith audience at his synagogue so that Jews and Christians might “make room in our hearts and souls for others who believe differently from us.”

Gorin, who then explains exactly who Ceric is and why she thinks he is dangerous, warns (perhaps somewhat alarmingly) that “If Jews continue public relations efforts for movements that wish them ill, they’ll find themselves in a position similar to what they were in during WWII.”

BRANDEIS TO HONOR TONY KUSHNER

Tony Kushner wrote the screenplay for the recent Steven Spielberg movie “Munich,” which many criticized for its sympathetic portrayal of anti-Israel terrorists, and its falsification of history. For more on Kushner, see Munich (2): Spielberg: “For me this movie is a prayer for peace” (Dec. 15, 2005).

Now, perhaps in part because of praise for “Munich” (the anti-Israeli polemicist Robert Fisk said the film was “magnificent”), Tony Kushner is to be awarded an honorary degree by Brandeis University on May 21, 2006.

What makes this decision even more strange is that Louis Brandeis, after whom the university is named, was not only a justice of the Supreme Court, but also a key figure in the history of American Zionism.

Not surprisingly, given Kushner’s record of attacking Israel, a student campaign has begun against this decision. Here is Kushner in his own words, supplied by the “Stop Kushner campaign” at Brandeis University:

* “[Israel was] founded in a program that was ethnic cleansing, and that today is behaving abominably towards the Palestinian people.”
– Yale Israel Review (winter 2005)

* Kushner: “Establishing a state means fucking people over. However, I think that people in the late 20th century or early 21st century – having seen the Holocaust, having seen the 20th century and all of its horrors – cannot be complacent in the face of that.”
Ha’aretz reporter: “But you are saying that the very creation of Israel as a Jewish state was not a good idea.”
Kushner: “I think it was a mistake.”
– Ha’aretz (April 7, 2004)

* “I’ve never been a Zionist. I have a problem with the idea of a Jewish state. It would have been better if it never happened.”
– The New York Sun reporting Kushner comments made at a conference in New York (October 14, 2002)

* “I am not a Zionist, in case you haven’t noticed.” Kushner cited “the shame of American Jews for failing to denounce Israel.”
– Chicago Tribune (April 10, 2002)

* “The existence of the state of Israel, because of the terrible way that the Palestinian people have been treated, is now in great peril and the world is in peril as a consequence of it. And we have now the spectacle of Jewish people all over the world, who in the past century had an absolutely magnificent tradition of rejecting barbarism and right-wing murderous politics, rallying behind Ariel Sharon who 10 years ago would never have been acceptable anywhere.”
– In These Times interview (March 4, 2002)

* “Israel is a foreign country. I am no more represented by Israel than I am by Italy.”
– Ha’aretz (April 7, 2004)

* “The Israeli-built security wall should come down.”
– Baltimore Jewish Times (June 4, 2004)

* “ [Israel is involved in] a deliberate destruction of Palestinian culture and a systematic attempt to destroy the identity of the Palestinian people.”
– New York Sun (October 4, 2002)

PENN STATE UNIV. CLOSES DOWN EXHIBIT ON PALESTINIAN ANTI-SEMITISM

Pennsylvania State University has forced the closure of an exhibit about the effects of Palestinian terrorism. The creator of the exhibit, Joshua Stulman, was told that the 10-piece exhibit titled “Portraits of Terror” “did not promote cultural diversity or opportunities for democratic dialogue.” The exhibit aimed to raise questions about anti-Semitic propaganda and cartoons in Palestinian newspapers and the indoctrination of Palestinian youth into terrorist acts.

By contrast, in 2003 Pennsylvania State University paid for an event titled “Islam Awareness Week.”

-- Tom Gross



FULL ITEMS

LETTERS TO THE NEW YORK TIMES

Jews and Israel: More voices
The New York Times
April 22, 2006

To the Editor:

Tony Judt says that I characterized the work of John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt as “slightly but unmistakably smelly.” But I was not referring to their criticism of Israeli conduct in the occupied territories: criticism that I stipulated was weaker than that policy deserves.

I was challenging their two further assertions that Israel (a) has induced the United States government to intervene in Iraq and (b) has brought the wrath of Al Qaeda on the United States.

Mr. Judt himself does not defend either of these highly dubious propositions. If an Israeli “lobby” were covertly manipulating our foreign policy, we would have intervened first in Iran. And if Osama bin Laden were moved principally by the suffering of the Palestinians – rather than by his demand to impose a caliphate on Afghans, Iraqis, Turks, Egyptians and others – then he would be at least morally in the right.

That last assumption probably deserves a much stronger condemnation than the word “smelly.”

Christopher Hitchens
Washington, April 19, 2006

***

NO MONOLITHIC “DOMESTIC PRESSURE GROUP, THE ‘ISRAEL LOBBY’”

To the Editor:

Re “A Lobby, Not a Conspiracy,” by Tony Judt (Op-Ed, April 19):

As a leader in the American Jewish community for three decades, I must point out that there is no monolithic “domestic pressure group, the ‘Israel Lobby.’”

Israel Policy Forum has publicly advocated a two-state solution – Israeli and Palestinian states living side by side in peace and security – for more than a decade, supported Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan and is urging the Bush administration to bolster those Palestinians who seek peace with Israel.

Other Jewish organizations have opposed these positions. Some have taken similar ones.

Beginning with President Harry S. Truman’s, every American administration has viewed Israel as an important strategic ally. Members of these administrations must have been stunned to read that they were “uncritical” of “Israeli behavior.”

They also must have been shocked to read that “American influence” in the Middle East “rests almost exclusively on our power to make war.” American influence led to peace agreements between Israel and Egypt, and between Israel and Jordan.

It is only American influence that can achieve an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, which will redound to America’s benefit around the world.

Seymour D. Reich
President, Israel Policy Forum
New York, April 20, 2006

***

“AMERICANS ARE SIMPLY NOT AFRAID TO DEBATE ISRAEL POLICY”

To the Editor:

Americans are simply not afraid to debate Israel policy. Editorial and opinion pages reflect that debate almost every day. What Americans should be afraid of is partisan political advocacy and thinly veiled anti-Semitism masquerading as scholarship.

There is also cause for concern when academics like Tony Judt, a constant critic of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, suggests that condemnation of the biased pseudo-scholarship of John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt amounts to stifling legitimate policy debate.

Mr. Judt’s contention that “fear” has caused a “continued silence” on the subject in the Jewish community is just wrong. The Anti-Defamation League, for one, has called the Walt-Mearsheimer essay exactly what it is – shabby scholarship and a classical conspiratorial anti-Semitic analysis invoking the canards of Jewish power and Jewish control.

Abraham H. Foxman
National Director
Anti-Defamation League
New York, April 19, 2006

 

“THE REASON AMERICANS SUPPORT ISRAEL IS THAT IT IS A DEMOCRACY THAT SHARES THEIR VALUES”

A Jewish lobby? Let’s talk about it
The New York Times
April 20, 2006

To the Editor:

Re “A Lobby, Not a Conspiracy,” by Tony Judt (Op-Ed, April 19):

Why should Jews apologize for having a powerful lobby that advances their interests? The elderly and Latinos have very powerful lobbies; no one accuses them of divided loyalties, starting wars or other conspiracy nonsense.

The reason Americans support Israel is that it is a democracy that shares their values. The United States is a democracy, and Zionists have every right to influence public opinion.

If others disagree, they can form their own organizations. Their inability to do so does not indicate a conspiracy, but a lack of a cogent argument the American people will accept.

Jonathan D. Reich
Lakeland, Fla., April 19, 2006

***

“PERHAPS IT IS THE EUROPEANS WHO HAVE FAILED TO UNDERSTAND THE PLIGHT OF THE ISRAELIS”

To the Editor:

In his discussion of “The Israel Lobby,” the essay by Stephen Walt of Harvard and John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, Tony Judt (Op-Ed, April 19) cites David Aaronovitch, “a Times of London columnist who, in the course of criticizing Mearsheimer and Walt, nonetheless conceded that ‘I sympathize with their desire for redress, since there has been a cock-eyed failure in the U.S. to understand the plight of the Palestinians.’”

This is nonsense. Americans are inundated with news about the Palestinians; newspapers almost daily print articles about their dire situation. I would argue that it is not American understanding that is lacking.

Americans seem to understand the situation in Israel very well. But unlike the Europeans, who are awash in anti-Semitism, Americans are not inclined to excuse the brutality of the Palestinian attacks.

Perhaps it is the Europeans who have failed to understand the plight of the Israelis.

Ronald Gans
New York, April 19, 2006

***

“MR JUDT WOULD BE HAPPIER IF ISRAEL DID NOT EXIST AT ALL”

To the Editor:

Tony Judt wears his anti-Zionism lightly, but nobody should be deceived: Mr. Judt would be happier if Israel did not exist at all, as he made clear in an essay published in The New York Review of Books three years ago.

The “uncritical” American support that Mr. Judt unfavorably compares with the virulently anti-Israel attitudes that prevail in Europe has not been uncritical at all. This is immediately apparent on a moment’s reflection on the various “reassessments” of American policy under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, as well as President Bill Clinton’s heroic efforts on behalf of territorial compromise.

What bothers Mr. Judt is not uncritical support, but any support at all for a small, besieged democracy that he considers a strategic liability.

Yes, the pro-Israel lobby is effective. But it is working in a hospitable environment. This environment is shaped by the fundamental decency of the American public and its instinctive sympathy for a democracy that has repeatedly sought compromise with its enemies and been answered by mass murder, vicious anti-Semitism and a fanatical commitment to its destruction.

Howard F. Jaeckel
New York, April 19, 2006

***

“WHAT IS TONY JUDT TALKING ABOUT?”

To the Editor:

What is Tony Judt talking about?

The issue of American support for Israel is debated openly and vigorously on every newspaper op-ed and letters page, on the Internet and on university campuses across the United States.

Mr. Judt’s dislike of the outcome of these debates hardly marks “a failure to consider a major issue in public policy.”

Joshua A. Brook
New York, April 19, 2006

***

“QUITE THE OPPOSITE OF BEING A TABOO…”

To the Editor:

After I read “The Israel Lobby” by Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, the one thing that stood out to me was the shocking lack of new information. I had heard it all before.

Since I’ve never studied international relations or spent much time outside the United States, and since I knew it all already, I find it hard to believe that criticizing America’s Israel policies is a legitimate taboo.

Taboos are things people avoid out of fear of ostracism. Here, it seems to me, people proudly proclaim their intention to criticize Israel, noting the dangers they face in shattering this supposed taboo, reminding everyone that it’s not necessarily anti-Semitic to do so.

Quite the opposite of being a taboo, criticizing Israel resembles a kind of intellectual ritual, with its distinct pattern and style.

Chad Levinson
Chicago, April 19, 2006

 

Attached below are some other unpublished Letters to The New York Times in response to Tony Judt’s op-ed:

IDEAS “WITHOUT BASIS IN FACT”

To the Editor:

When Tony Judt asks why the American news media do not debate the U.S.-Israeli relationship, one wonders what media he consumes.

Mr. Judt’s deeper objection seems to be that the American mainstream encompasses neither his own views nor those of Professors Walt and Mearsheimer, who attribute the invasion of Iraq to insidious Jewish and Israeli influence over the White House. Pity the professors whose controversial opinions make headlines only in the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. Pity them more for having to endure the very debate they had called for.

However Mr. Judt may complain, he and like-minded people will have to continue to stomach criticism so long as they have the courage to speak their minds. Like it or not, stern criticism is what they will get when their loudly announced ideas remain so objectionable and without basis in fact.

Josh Pollack
Washington D.C.

***

“SUPPORTING A GOOD CAUSE REMAINS THE FINAL TEST”

To the Editor:

Taking positions hostile to American-Israeli relations is not new to Mr. Judt nor to the markedly left-wing paper he cites, the London Review of Books (to which I have been a subscriber). In supporting the Walt Mearsheimer diatribe on the subject of the “Israeli lobby” in the United States (published in the London Review of Books), Mr. Judt makes one very valid point: The subject should be discussed. But this is precisely what he does not do.

Instead he offers a rant in support of this report and very much opposed to America’s support for Israel. Indeed, at the end of his rant, Mr. Judt refers to Israel as a “small, controversial, Mediterranean client state.” I doubt that any Israeli or most objective observers would find that description accurate or unbiased although some Israelis might well revel in being found “controversial” and most would agree it’s “small”.

It is certainly true that there are organizations in this country which support Israel and which seek to influence public policy. It is also true that there are organizations in this country which support the Palestinian cause and seek to influence public policy, as there are organizations which seek to support all sorts of causes from curing diseases to promoting trade in Africa. Our governments policies are set by our elected representatives in the Executive and Legislative branches. These folks are free to pick and choose independently and from a wide menu of lobbying positions. That a majority has tended to favor a small, modern, democratic state which supports freedom of speech and religion, a unique phenomenon in its corner of the world, over neighbors who are rife with corruption and violence and sworn to its destruction, may have been influenced by the “Israeli lobby” but even if that were demonstrably the case, supporting a good cause remains the final test, and that test has been met.

Very truly yours,

Edmund Glass
New York City

 

WHY ARE SO MANY JEWS LIBERAL?

Why are so many Jews liberal?
By Dennis Prager
Townhall.com
April 25, 2006

www.townhall.com/opinion/columns/dennisprager/2006/04/25/194915.html

The most frequently asked question I receive from non-Jews about Jews is, why are Jews so liberal?

The question is entirely legitimate since Jews (outside of Israel) are indeed overwhelmingly liberal and disproportionately left of liberal as well. For example, other than blacks, no American group votes so lopsidedly for the Democratic Party. And the question is further sharpened given that traditional Jewish values are not leftist. That is why the more religiously involved the Jew, the less likely he is to be on the Left. The old saw, “There are two types of Jews – those who believe Judaism is social justice and those who know Hebrew,” contains more than a kernel of truth.

In no order of importance, here are six reasons:

1. Judaism is indeed preoccupied with social justice (as well as with holiness and personal morality), and many Jews believe that the only way to achieve a just society is through leftist policies.

2. More than any other major religion, Judaism has always been preoccupied with this world. The (secular) Encyclopedia Judaica begins its entry on “Afterlife” by noting that “Judaism has always affirmed belief in an afterlife.” But the preoccupation of Judaism has been making this world a better place. That is why the Torah (the Five Books of Moses) is largely silent about the afterlife; and it is preoccupied with rejecting ancient Egyptian values. That value system was centered on the afterlife – its bible was the Book of the Dead, and its greatest monuments, the pyramids, were tombs.

3. Most Jews are frightened by anything that connotes right wing – such as the words “right-wing” and “conservative.” Especially since the Holocaust, they think that threats to their security emanate from the Right only. (It is pointless to argue that Nazism stood for National Socialism and therefore was really a leftist ideology. Whether that is theoretically accurate doesn’t matter; nearly everyone regards the Nazis as far Right, and, therefore, Jews fear the Right.) The fact that the Jews’ best friends today are conservatives and the fact that the Left is the home of most of the Jews’ enemies outside of the Muslim world have made little impact on Jews’ psyches.

4. Liberal Jews fear most religion. They identify religion – especially fundamentalist religion and especially Christianity – with anti-Semitism. Jews are taught from birth about the horrors of the Holocaust, and of nearly 2,000 years of European, meaning Christian, anti-Semitism. They therefore tend to fear Christianity and believe that secularism guarantees their physical security.

5. Despite their secularism, Jews may be the most religious ethnic group in the world. The problem is that their religion is rarely Judaism; rather it is every “ism” of the Left. These include liberalism, socialism, feminism, Marxism and environmentalism. Jews involved in these movements believe in them with the same ideological fervor and same suspension of critical reason with which many religious people believe in their religion. It is therefore usually as hard to shake a liberal Jew’s belief in the Left and in the Democratic Party as it is to shake an evangelical Christian’s belief in Christianity. The big difference, however, is that the Christian believer acknowledges his Christianity is a belief, whereas the believer in liberalism views his belief as entirely the product of rational inquiry.

The Jews’ religious fervor emanates from the origins of the Jewish people as a religious people elected by God to help guide humanity to a better future. Of course, the original intent was to bring humanity to ethical monotheism, God-based universal moral standards, not to secular liberalism or to feminism or to socialism. Leftist Jews have simply secularized their religious calling.

6. Liberal Jews fear nationalism. The birth of nationalism in Europe planted the secular seeds of the Holocaust (religious seeds had been planted by some early and medieval Church teachings and reinforced by Martin Luther). European nationalists welcomed all national identities except the Jews’. That is a major reason so many Jews identify primarily as “world citizens”; they have contempt for nationalism and believe that strong national identities, even in America, will exclude them.

Just as liberal Jews fear a resurgent Christianity despite the fact that contemporary Christians are the Jews’ best friends, leftist Jews fear American nationalism despite the fact that Americans who believe in American exceptionalism are far more pro-Jewish and pro-Israel than leftist Americans. But most leftist Jews so abhor nationalism, they don’t even like the Jews’ nationalism (Zionism).

If you believe that leftist ideas and policies are good for America and for the world, then you are particularly pleased to know how deeply Jews – with their moral passion, intellectual energies and abilities, and financial clout – are involved with the Left. If, on the other hand, you believe that the Left is morally confused and largely a destructive force in America and the world, then the Jews’ disproportionate involvement on the Left is nothing less than a tragedy – for the world and especially for the Jews.

 

IN BIRMINGHAM, THE BENEVOLENT FACE OF JIHAD

In Birmingham, the benevolent face of jihad
By Julia Gorin
Jewish World Review
April 26, 2006

jewishworldreview.com/julia/gorin042606.php3

What is the world coming to when rabbis in Birmingham are inviting muftis from Bosnia?

Earlier this month, Rabbi Jonathan Miller of Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El hosted Bosnia’s Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric to address an interfaith audience at his synagogue so that we Jews and Christians might “make room in our hearts and souls for others who believe differently from us,” as his op-ed in The Birmingham News read. According to one attendee, the mufti packed a big house and the evening was replete with Martin Luther King tie-ins and civil rights-era imagery.

The rabbi should have done some research first. Ceric recently called on the world to stand by Syria, a state that sponsors terrorism against Israel and U.S. forces in Iraq, among other targets. During the March, 2004 pogroms in Kosovo against Orthodox Christian Serbs by Albanian Muslims – in which 19 people were killed, dozens of churches and cemeteries destroyed, and close to 4,000 of Kosovo’s minority Serbs displaced – BBC.com reported that Ceric “expressed concern about the rise of anti-Islamic hysteria in the West.” He added that there was “no such thing as Islamic terrorism,” and assured reporters that there were no charities linked to al-Qaeda operating in Bosnia.

In fact, a CNSNews.com article titled “Jihadists Find Convenient Base in Bosnia” reported that “terrorists who previously targeted the U.S. are now in Bosnia, where they have access to a ‘one-stop shop’ of jihad training camps, weapons and illegal Islamic ‘charities’ – all at the doorstep of Europe.”

One charity that was funding millions of dollars to al Qaeda – the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation – closed in 2002 and then reopened under the name Vazir – an “association for sport, culture and education.”

“More ominously,” reported the Washington Times in 2003, “the greatest threat to peace and stability stems from the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism in Bosnia, which seeks to either wipe out or convert all Christians in the region. The country now serves as a base for al Qaeda operatives, where numerous terrorist cells are active and plotting attacks on targets throughout Europe. In the past, Saudi Arabia has sent millions of dollars in aid to “humanitarian” agencies that encourage Bosnian Muslims to promote the doctrines of Wahhabism…. Mosques have been established throughout the Muslim-Croat federation, many of whom preach the need for ‘jihad’ against the country’s Catholic Croats and Orthodox Christian Serbs.”

Further, “Osama bin Laden is actively directing terrorist cells in the former Yugoslav republic of Bosnia,” read an October 2004 AFP dispatch. According to terror expert and author Yossef Bodansky, Bosnia’s Zenica region provided the training ground for the terrorists who conducted a series of suicide attacks in Baghdad in August 2003, including the UN bombing there that killed 22 people.

More damning still, at least two of the 9/11 hijackers – Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi – trained and fought in Bosnia, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed “also honed his jihadist skills in Bosnia and financed some of the mujahedin operations there,” Brendan O’Neill wrote for The New Statesman in 2004.

Last October, a raid on a Sarajevo apartment turned up suicide vests, 65 pounds of exploding bullets, rifles and a machine gun, to be used in an imminent attack on the British embassy in Sarajevo. What’s more, reported the International Herald Tribune, “Bosnia gave passports to more than 800 former fighters and aid workers from the Middle East,” including to known terrorists and sometimes under aliases.

Even more disturbing, the Islamists have been creating cells of “White al Qaeda” – Caucasian Bosnian Muslims who can evade ethnic profiling. The rabbi might also be interested to know that the suicide attack in Netanya in December, which killed five and wounded 95, was organized by a Bosnian-based group called Al-Asifa. There are Balkans ties as well to the London and Madrid attacks, as well as New York on 9/11.

That a rabbi would invite a terror enabler to ingratiate himself and his religion to a Judeo-Christian audience is a disgrace. Miller isn’t doing Americans any favors by helping the Islamic PR campaign.

Yet he is not alone in his misguided efforts. Last year, the American Jewish Committee launched the Chicago Coalition for Interreligious Learning to “produce changes in how differing religions were presented in textbooks and classrooms in an effort to promote respect among communities.”

But the organization’s own counter-terrorism division warned about Islamist groups using interfaith to gain legitimacy, noting that most mainstream Muslim organizations are “pro-Saudi and pro-Muslim Brotherhood” and have learned that “interfaith dialogue is a good way to spread the ideology” since it “gives such organizations a public legitimacy that their ideology would deny them if they expressed it outright.” Further, “these organizations come to the Jewish community to talk about ‘interfaith,’ while they still teach anti-Western and anti-Christian doctrines to their followers.”

The dangers of inculcating fair-minded American masses aside, the vision of a Muslim cleric lecturing a Western audience on “making room in our hearts and souls for others who believe differently from us” borders on the obscene. “If we can do it here in Birmingham,” instructs the rabbi, “who knows, but that we might spread this message to all the corners of the world. And then wouldn’t God be pleased with us?” The glaring flaw in this pre-school-level thinking is that the Western world has done it, but the Muslim world isn’t taking an example – its religious foundations running precisely counter to openness. Nor would God be pleased with us, as he surely has little respect for those who are unwilling to defend their way of life – which is already perilously over-tolerant toward ideologies that abhor its very tolerance.

The rabbi and some Christian friends came together to bring the mufti to the Birmingham synagogue to “speak for a tradition of the one true living God” – a reference to the false but endlessly repeated cliche that Muslims believe in the same God as Christians and Jews. In fact, Islam teaches that only it knows “the true nature of God that Judaism and Christianity tell lies about,” as Balkans expert Dr. Serge Trifkovic has written.

If Jews continue public relations efforts for movements that wish them ill, they’ll find themselves in a position similar to what they were in during WWII. At that time, the mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, met with Hitler to offer support. Thousands of Bosnian Muslims answered the mufti’s call to volunteer for service in the Waffen SS. Al-Husseini is photographed proudly inspecting his Bosnian Muslim Nazi troops.

When we finally arrive at the logical conclusion of the current state of affairs, in which Jews are fleeing Europe once again and six million in Israel are threatened with “erasure” from the map, it won’t be because “the world” looked the other way. It’ll be because of my fellow Jews’ own fatal ignorance.

Never again? What a joke. Shame on this so-called rabbi, and shame on every Jew and Christian in the audience who applauded the speaker on cue.


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.