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July 29, 2016 / 23 Tammuz, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘heroes’

Memorial Day: Remember America’s Fallen Heroes

Monday, May 30th, 2016

{Originally posted to the author’s website, The Lid}

The Original Order Creating the Memorial Day Holiday:

The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but Posts and comrades will, in their own way, arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are here to play, Comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers sailors and Marines, who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead? We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security, is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains, and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledge to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon the Nation’s gratitude—the soldiers and sailors widow and orphan. 

It is the purpose of the Commander in Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to call attention to this Order, and lend its friendly aid in bringing it to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

A Memorial Day Prayer:

Lord who grants salvation to kings and dominion to rulers, Whose kingdom is a kingdom spanning all eternities; Who places a road in the sea and a path in the mighty waters – may you bless the President, the Vice President, and all the constituted officers of government of this land. May they execute their responsibilities with intelligence, honor and compassion. And may these United States continue to be the land of the free and the home of the brave.

 

May He bless the members of our armed forces, who protect us from harm, on the land, in the air, and on the sea. May the Almighty cause the enemies who rise up against us to be struck down before them. May the Holy One, Blessed is He, preserve and rescue our fighters and their families from every trouble and distress and from every plague and illness, and may He send blessing and success in their every endeavor. 

May the God of overflowing compassion, who lives in the highest and all worlds, give limitless rest to those who are now under his Holy sheltering spiritual wings, making them rise ever more purely, through the light of your brilliance, and may he bless their souls forever and may he comfort the bereaved.

And let us all say, Amen

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Jeff Dunetz

The Holocaust: Many Villains, Few Heroes

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

As we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Nuremberg trials, at which selected Nazi leaders were placed in the dock, we must ask some disturbing questions about those who were never tried for their complicity in the world’s worst genocide. It would have been impossible to carry out the mass murder of so many people without the complicity of so many governments, groups, and individuals. Perhaps there were too many guilty parties to put them all on trial, but it is not too late to hold the guilty morally accountable for what they did and failed to do.

To be sure, the guiltiest individuals were the Nazi leaders who directly planned and implemented the final solution.  Their goal was to in gather Jews from all over the world in order to kill them and to destroy what they regarded as the “Jewish race”.  They came very close to succeeding, wiping out nearly all of Europe’s Jews in a relatively brief period of time. These Nazi leaders had the help of many “willing executioners,” both in Germany and in the countries under its control.  Among the worst culprits were individual Lithuanians, Latvians, Hungarians, Slovakians, Poles, Ukrainians, and others.

There were some heroes among these groups and they are justly remembered and honored.  But the number of villains far exceeded the number of heroes. Then there were the guilty governments that cooperated and helped facilitate the deportations and round-ups.  The French government deported more Jews than the Nazi’s demanded.  Other governments, including those of Norway, Holland, Austria, Hungry, also helped the Nazis achieve their genocidal goal. Bulgaria, on the other hand, declined to cooperate with the Nazi genocide and its small Jewish population was saved.

There were also the countries that refused to accept Jews who might have escaped the Nazi’s had they been permitted to enter.  These countries include the United States, Canada, and many other potential places of asylum that shut their doors.  In the United States and Canada too, there were heroes who pressed their leaders to do more, but for the most part they failed.

Many Arab and Muslim leaders also played ignoble roles, siding with the Nazi’s and conducting their own pogroms against local Jews.  The leading villain in this regard was the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who joined Hitler in Berlin and played a hands-on role in sending Jews to their deaths and in keeping the doors of Palestine closed to Jewish refugees.

Could more have been done by Britain and the United States to end the genocide?  Could they have bombed the rail lines to Auschwitz and other death camps?  These are complex questions that have been asked but not satisfactorily answered since 1945.

There were also the actions of those who pardoned and commuted the sentences of Nazis convicted at Nuremberg, and those who helped Nazis escape prosecution after the war ended.  That list too is long and disturbing.

The Nuremberg trials, by focusing narrowly on Nazi leaders and their direct henchmen, implicitly exculpated those who played important, but less direct, roles by their actions and inactions.  By their nature, courts are limited in what they can do to bring to justice large numbers of individuals who belong on a wide continuum of legal and moral guilt.  But historians, philosophers, jurists and ordinary citizens are not so limited.  We may point fingers of blame at all who deserve to be blamed, whether or not they were placed on trial at Nuremberg, or at subsequent legal proceedings.

There will never be perfect justice for those who helped carry out the Holocaust.  Most of the guilty escaped prosecution, lived happy lives and died in their beds, surrounded by loving family members.  West Germany prospered as a result of the Marshal Plan and many German industrialists, who had benefitted from slave labor, continued to benefit as a result of the perceived needs of the Cold War.  The scales of justice remain out of balance.  Perhaps this helps to explain why more than 6 million people have been murdered in preventable genocides — in Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur and other placed — since the world pledged “never again.”

There is, of course, the risk that by blaming all, we blame none.  It is important to calibrate the responsibility of those who played very different roles in the Holocaust. This is a daunting task, but it must be undertaken if future genocides are to be deterred.

Alan M. Dershowitz

Redeeming Relevance: Parshat Achrei Mot: Nameless Heroes and the Holy Path

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016

Parshat Achrei Mot represents a transition in the book of Vayikra. We now go from the first half with its emphasis on Aharon and his sons to the second part which is generally addressed to the Jewish people as a whole. It goes from the model of Torat Kohanim (The Law of the priests) to that which is extrapolated from it – that which I call Torat Mamlechet Kohanim (The Law of the nation of priests).

Before speaking about the priestly service on Yom Kippur which is told from the perspective of atoning for the various impurities that this section culminates, the Torah engages in an unusually stylized flourish. It tells us that these laws were given after the death of the Aharon’s two sons. Of course, this could be just a time marker, though there would be other ways to denote such a marker; for example, “In the second week of the operation of the Mishkan.” That it does not use such a phrase, strikes us a clear maneuver to recall and emphasize one of the Torah’s most dramatic and difficult events. Before we get to that, it is worthwhile to not only note the fact that the event is mentioned, but also how it is mentioned.
We have often pointed out that the Tanakh artfully describes people in different ways depending on what it wants to emphasize. Here Nadav and Avihu are described without their names but solely as Aharon’s two sons. Each word is carefully chosen here. Their identity is that they are Aharon’s sons. Moreover, there is an implication is that they are his only sons, or at the very least his main ones. (Finally the fact that they are two sons is something that we already know, hence the word, two, here is also presumably meant to add significance.)

So why is it that they are identified as Aharon’s sons? It is well known that Aharon was more popular than Moshe. As such, he may have been the most popular man in the nation, certainly the most popular senior leader. This is easily understood. He had been Moshe’s public figure and in charge of speaking to the people. And, paradoxically enough, his failure at the golden calf might have added to his popularity, rather than taken away from it: He was the man on the spot and tried hard to bridge the people’s needs with God’s demands. There was no easy way out and he showed the people his willingness to take great personal risks to maneuver through an untenable situation..

Now we understand the significance of their being called Aharon’s sons. Sometimes we care about a person more for their parents than for themselves. Given Aharon’s popularity, Aharon’s tragedy was no doubt one that the entire people felt on a very personal level. And if they were his main sons, all the more so. It is thus no doubt the fact that it was Aharon’s sons that were the ones taken by God that affected the people so profoundly.

This brings us back to the point of mentioning this detail now in the middle of Vayikra, several chapters after it occurred. There are many laws that the Torah will now discuss that are related to earlier laws in the book of Shemot. And there are even more laws that could have easily found their place there, along with all of the other particulars that one finds in Parshat Mishpatim. Yet the Torah waited with all of these, because the Jews were not yet ready to hear about the importance of detail for their national mission. Some laws, primarily dealing with civil law had, to be heard right away for the smooth ordering of their society and these were already recounted in Shemot. But when it came to going beyond the ethical into the realm of the holy, the Jews needed to wait for certain things to happen This is because it is not intuitive that attention to detail can make us a holy people. And yet, on some level, this is what the laws addressed to the Jewish people in the book of Vayikra are all about.

Because the spiritual dimension of attention to detail it is not intuitive, it needed particular emphasis. The Torah does this by showing us that the greatest and most beloved Jews tried the road of not paying attention to detail. If it would have worked for anyone, it should have worked for them. The fact that it didn’t should tell us that there is truly only one road.

Millennia later, we all know that attention to detail is at the heart of the Jewish experience. It can even be described as Judaism in a nutshell. Moreover, this did not start with the rabbis. It started with a seminal tragic event necessary to put the holy nation on track for that very special historical mission that is taught in this book of Torat Mamlechet Kohanim.

Rabbi Francis Nataf

Goodbye Columbus, Goodbye America

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

Columbus may have outfoxed the Spanish court and his rivals, but he is falling victim to the court of political correctness.

The explorer who discovered America has become controversial because the very idea of America has become controversial.

There are counter-historical claims put forward by Muslim and Chinese scholars claiming that they discovered America first. And there are mobs of fake indigenous activists on every campus to whom the old Italian is as much of a villain as the bearded Uncle Sam.

Columbus Day parades are met with protests and some have been minimized or eliminated.

In California, Columbus Day became Indigenous People’s Day, which sounds like a Marxist terrorist group’s holiday. While it’s tempting to put that down to California political correctness, in South Dakota it was renamed Native American Day.

The shift from celebrating Columbus’ arrival in America to commemorating it as an American Nakba by focusing on the Indians, rather than the Americans, is a profound form of historical revisionism that hacks away at the origins of this country.

No American state has followed Venezuela’s lead in renaming it Día de la Resistencia Indígena, or Day of Indigenous Resistance, which actually is a Marxist terrorist group’s holiday, the whole notion of celebrating the discovery of America has come to be seen as somehow shameful and worst of all, politically incorrect.

Anti-Columbus Day protests are mounted by La Raza, whose members, despite their indigenous posturing, are actually mostly descended from Spanish colonists, but who know that most American liberals are too confused to rationally frame an objection to a protest by any minority group.

About the only thing sillier than a group of people emphasizing their collective identity as a Spanish speaking people, and denouncing Columbus as an imperialist exploiter is Ward Churchill, a fake Indian, who compared Columbus to Heinrich Himmler. Ward Churchill’s scholarship consists of comparing Americans in past history and current events to random Nazis. If he hasn’t yet compared Amerigo Vespucci or Daniel Boone to Ernst Röhm; it’s only a matter of time.

The absurdity of these attacks is only deepened by the linguistic and cultural ties between the Italian Columbus Day marchers and the Latino Anti-Columbus Day protesters with the latter set cynically exploiting white guilt to pretend that being the descendants of Southern European colonists makes them a minority.

If being descended from Southern Europeans makes you a minority, then Columbus, the parade marchers, the Greek restaurant owner nearby and even Rush Limbaugh are all “people of color.”

Italian-Americans are the only bulwark against political correctness still keeping Columbus on the calendar, and that has made mayors and governors in cities and states with large Italian-American communities wary of tossing the great explorer completely overboard. But while Ferdinand and Isabella may have brought Columbus back in chains, modern day political correctness has banished him to the darkened dungeon of non-personhood, erasing him from history and replacing him with a note reading, “I’m Sorry We Ever Landed Here.”

But this is about more than one single 15th century Genoan with a complicated life who was neither a monster nor a saint. It is about whether America really has any right to exist at all. Is there any argument against celebrating Columbus Day, that cannot similarly be applied to the Fourth of July?

If Columbus is to be stricken from the history books in favor of ideological thugs like Malcolm X or Caesar Chavez, then America must soon follow. Columbus’ crime is that he enabled European settlement of the continent.

If the settlement of non-Indians in North America is illegitimate, then any national state they created is also illegitimate.

It is easier to hack away at a nation’s history by beginning with the lower branches.

Columbus is an easier target than America itself, though La Raza considers both colonialist vermin. Americans are less likely to protest over the banishment of Columbus to the politically correct Gulag than over the banishing America itself, which was named after another one of those colonialist explorers, Amerigo Vespucci. First they came for Columbus Day and then for the Fourth of July.

The battles being fought over Columbus Day foreshadow the battles to be fought over the Fourth of July. As Columbus Day joins the list of banned holidays in more cities, one day there may not be a Fourth of July, just a day of Native Resistance to remember the atrocities of the colonists with PBS documentaries comparing George Washington to Hitler.

These documentaries already exist, they just haven’t gone mainstream. Yet.

We celebrate Columbus Day and the Fourth of July because history is written by the winners. Had the Aztecs, the Mayans or the Iroquois Confederation developed the necessary technology and skills to cross the Atlantic and begin colonizing Europe, the fate of its native inhabitants would have been far uglier. The different perspectives on history often depend on which side you happen to be on.

To Americans, the Alamo is a shining moment of heroism. To the Mexicans who are the heirs of a colonialist empire far more ruthless than anything to be found north of the Rio Grande, the war was a plot to conquer Mexican territory. And neither side is altogether wrong, but choosing which version of history to go by is the difference between being an American or a Mexican.

A nation’s mythology, its paragons and heroes, its founding legends and great deeds, are its soul. To replace them with another culture’s perspective on its history is to kill that soul.

That is the ultimate goal of political correctness, to kill America’s soul. To stick George Washington, Patrick Henry, Jefferson, James Bowie, Paul Revere, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and all the rest on a shelf in a back room somewhere, and replace them with timelier liberal heroes. Move over Washington, Caesar Chavez needs this space. No more American heroes need apply.

This is how it begins. And that is how it ends. Nations are not destroyed by atomic bombs or economic catastrophes; they are lost when they lose any reason to go on living. When they no longer have enough pride to go on fighting to survive.

The final note of politically correct lunacy comes from a headline in the Columbus Dispatch about the Columbus Day festival in the city of Columbus, Ohio. “Italian Festival honors controversial explorer with its own Columbus Day parade”.

Once the great discover of America, Columbus is now dubbed “controversial” by a newspaper named after him, in a city named after him .And if he is controversial, how can naming a city after him and a newspaper after the city not be equally controversial?

Can the day when USA Today has a headline reading, “Some cities still plan controversial 4th of July celebration of American independence” be far behind?

Daniel Greenfield

Two Days Among Heroes

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

Recently, as I stood on the inevitable winding line at Kennedy Airport, shoes in hand, forced to yield up my bottle of water to airport security, I could not help but think: “Humiliation at the checkpoints indeed!”

Courtesy of jihadi terror, civilians at just about every airport in just about every country are forced to wait on long lines and submit both their bags and their bodies to physical and x-ray examinations. Of course, most of us understand that such surveillance ensures our survival.

While countless propagandists have demonized Israel for the “humiliation” of Palestinians (including would-be bombers, who are also forced to wait at checkpoints), I have never once heard any Western liberal academic or activist blame Al Qaeda or Richard Reid (the “shoe bomber”) for our considerable collective discomfort.

I always do.

This time, however, I would have waited on line for hours if necessary. I was on my way to a landmark conference of Muslim and ex-Muslim dissidents in St. Petersburg, Florida. The quietly efficient Austin Dacey, of the Center for Inquiry/Transnational, the eminent scholar Ibn Warraq, and the tireless Iranian activist Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi co-organized this event, which took place on March 4 and 5. Most speaker-delegates were staunch secularists; some were ardently or moderately religious; all believed in a separation of mosque and state; all were pro-Israel and pro-human and women’s rights.

Ironically, my views about Islamic gender and religious apartheid, Israel, and jihad, which have been excoriated by so many politically correct academics, found favor with these heroic and noble souls who honored me by having me chair the opening panel.

Delegates from Bangladesh, Egypt/Gaza, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Pakistan, Syria, and Uganda, most of them living in exile in the West, attended. One of the delegates was human rights activist Shariar Kabir, a gentle man with a beatific countenance who still lives in Bangladesh where he has been imprisoned many times. “It is my country and I will not desert her” is how he put it.
The major speakers included Egyptian-born author Nonie Darwish (They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror), now an American citizen and the founder of Arabs for Israel; Egyptian-born Dr. Tawfik Hamid, author of The Roots of Jihad, now living in hiding but once a colleague of bin Laden’s number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri; Jordanian-born Dr. Shaker al-Nabulsi, who challenged the mullahs to issue a fatwa against bin Laden; Lebanese-American Dr. Walid Phares, author of Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies Against the West; Pakistani-American Dr. Tashbih Sayyed, editor of Muslim World Today and Pakistan Today, who’s been at the forefront of the fight against Islamism and jihad; Wafa Sultan, the Syrian-American phychiatrist who recently rose to prominence when MEMRI translated her fiery and extraordinary debate in Arabic on Al Jazeera; and the soul of the conference, Pakistani-born Ibn Warraq (a nom de guerre), author of many books including Leaving Islam and What the Quran Really Says.

Two speakers were Arab Christians; thirteen had been born and raised as Muslims. Perhaps I was there to represent the Jews – and to speak as an American women’s rights activist who has written extensively about and condemned Islamic religious and gender apartheid.

These dissidents are truth-tellers, endangered in their homelands, living in exile, strangers in a strange land, so to speak. They have been empowered by their sojourns in the West.

In what way are they important to Israel and America? They certainly have no mass following or powerful constituency among other Muslims – at least not yet. But if the silent, hopefully moderate Muslims are ever going to listen to anyone other than the master propagandists who now brainwash and terrorize them, these brave, rational, tolerant, and awe-inspiring dissidents are their most likely role models and teachers.

The conference produced and signed a Declaration (it can be viewed at www.secularislam.org) that brands “Islamophobia” a false allegation; sees a “noble future for Islam as a personal faith, not a political doctrine”; and calls on governments of the world to “reject Sharia law[and] oppose all penalties for blasphemy and apostasy, in accordance with Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights [and] eliminate practices such as female [genital mutilation], honor killing, forced veiling and forced marriage[and] to reform sectarian education that teaches intolerance and bigotry towards non-Muslims”

Among the initial 16 signatories was Mithal Al-Alusi, the Iraqi hero who, upon being elected to Parliament, chose to visit Israel – a crime for which jihadists killed his two sons and a bodyguard.

Not all Nazi-era Germans were Nazis themselves; some were peace-loving individuals who wanted to live safe lives and avoid death at Nazi hands. Ultimately, however, their failure to resist radical evil rendered them morally culpable as collaborators with that evil. In my view, the silent majority of Muslims are now on notice: they have a choice, there is another path to follow.

But make no mistake: Those Muslims who resist Islamist tyranny at home and fight for human and women’s rights are imprisoned, tortured, and executed. Dissidents are lucky if they can escape to the West. Those who do are to be commended for continuing the fight against Islamism while in their new countries.

It is important for the readers of The Jewish Press to know that nearly every speaker at the conference praised Israel and condemned the lethal propaganda against Jews, Israel, and America that is so pandemic in the Islamic world.

• Iranian exile and activist Manda Zand-Ervin had this to say: “I now believe in this statement by Golda Meir: ‘We will have peace only when the Arabs’ love for their children is stronger than their hate for the Jews.’ There is nothing worse than a society that kills its young.”
• In his book about jihad, Dr. Tawfik Hamid, the former Jammaa Islameia terrorist, systematically denounces the brainwashing into Jew- and Israel-hatred that characterizes the Islamic world. In The Roots of Jihad, Dr. Hamid contends that the “the more religious a person becomes in Islam, the more aggressive he/she becomes toward others.  Islamic groups who have studied their religion very deeply commit the highest percentage of terror acts in the world.”

• Irshad Manji, in her book The Trouble with Islam, describes Islam as “imperialist” and challenges both the Muslim and Western concept of Israel as “imperialist.” She also acknowledges that “hundreds of thousands of Jews found themselves kicked out of Arab lands by the 1950’s.” Unlike the Palestinians, they “did not languish in refugee holding tanks because Israel absorbed and integrated them[and] 98,000 Palestinians. What have Arab governments done by and large for Palestinians?”

• Nonie Darwish, the daughter of a Palestinian shahid, reveals how she was taught to hate Israel and Jews in both Egypt and Gaza. In Infidel, she remembers how President Nasser “was obsessed with the elimination of Israel” and displaced his rage against European colonialists onto Israel. She recalls how the Arab media “twisted and repackaged their devastating defeat” in 1967 and how Israel was viewed as having “cheated” for daring to defend itself.

Darwish describes how every foreigner she met and befriended in Egypt or Gaza was viewed as “Zionist” or “CIA” or “Mossad.” When Israeli doctors took care of her relatives – all of whom hated Israel – she underwent a sea change. In her words: “I discovered the decency, beauty, and grace in Jewish culture.”

• Dr. Tashbish Sayeed visited Israel to try and understand Israelis’ “reluctance to do something about the bad press that continues to paint them as villains.” He found that “despite daily provocation” Israelis have not “descended to the level of depravity [of] their Arab enemies.” He states, “It is vital that Israel is supported, defended, and protected by all those who want the Muslims to progress as civilized people. I consider the rebirth of the Jewish state to be a blessing for Muslims.”

Dr. Sayeed concludes: “If the American civic faith has given the world a hope to be able to live with dignity, self respect and honor in peace, the Jewish traditions and culture of pluralism, debate, acceptance of dissension and difference of opinion have manifested themselves in the shape of the state of Israel to present the oppressed Muslim world with a paradigm to emulate. And if we want this world to be free of any kind of terror, we will have to defend this state of mind, whether it is seen in the shape of Israel or in the form of the United States of America.”

• On February 21, 2006, on Al Jazeera, Syrian-American psychiatrist Wafa Sultan had this to say: “The Jews have come from the tragedy (of the Holocaust) and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror, with their work, not their crying and yelling. We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church.We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people. Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people, and destroying embassies. This path will not yield any results. The Muslims must ask what they can do for humankind before they demand that humankind respect them.”
• Finally, in his many books, the Renaissance scholar and chair of the Islamic Dissident Conference, Ibn Warraq, defends Jews, Israel, and the West. He describes the long history of the Muslim persecution of Jews, Christians, and other religious minorities, and challenges the so-called Golden Era as a myth. He writes: “Apologists of Islam minimize, or even excuse the persecution, the discrimination, the forced conversations, the massacres, and the destruction of the churches, synagogues, fire temples, and other places of worship. [The ignore or excuse] the appalling behavior of the Prophet toward the Jews; and [ignore] the intolerant, hostile, anti-Jewish and anti-Christian sentiments expressed in the Quran, which were the source of much intolerant, fanatical, and violent behavior toward all non-Muslims throughout the history of Islam.”

One of many examples of Jew-hatred he offers: “According to the Quran, Jews have an intense hatred of all true Muslims, and as a punishment for their sins, some of the Jews had, in the past, been changed into apes and swineand others will have their hands tied to their necks and be cast into the fire on Judgment Day.”

Ibn Warraq predicts that “without critical examination of Islam, it will remain dogmatic, fanatical, and intolerant and will continue to stifle thoughts, human rights, individuality, originality, and truth.” At the conference he “demanded the rewriting of anti-American and anti-Jewish texts, particularly in Saudi Arabia and Egypt,” saying it was “scandalous that this has not been done.”

Though these brave dissidents may not yet have a movement behind them, their gathering was considered important (or dangerous) enough for Al Jazeera and Al-Arabiya to cover it. CNN’s Glenn Beck devoted a one-hour special to the conference, which was also covered by the Wall Street Journal, US News and World Report, The Weekly Standard and FrontPage Magazine.com.

Investor’s Business Daily noted that the Saudi- and Dubai-funded Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) sent “henchmen” to Florida to shout down the reformers. CAIR also posted at least four stories about the dissidents whom they condemned as playing into the hands of “Islamophobes” and as not being the “right messengers.”

Does CAIR think its representatives are more appropriate? CAIR spokesman Ahmed Bedier could not hold his own against Dr. Hamid, who challenged him to “denounce Saudi sharia law for “killing apostates, beating (and stoning) women.” Bedier feebly responded: “This is not about Saudi Arabia. We condemn any nation that misuses Islam, but we’re not going to condemn an entire nation.”

Investor’s Business Daily viewed the conference as a “ray of hope.” So do I. These dissidents are Israel’s and America’s natural allies. Now is the time for Western intellectuals who claim to be anti-racist and committed to human rights to stand with these dissidents.

The abject refusal by too many academics to judge between civilization and barbarism, and between enlightened rationalism and fanatic Islamic fundamentalism, endangers and condemns the victims of Islamic tyranny – people of diverse skin colors and ethnicities, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, and Buddhists.

The conference did not seem to be a “ray of hope” to left-wing activist Rabbi Arthur Waskow, who in a mass e-mailing actually suggested it was funded by the CIA. This is complete fabrication, of course. Waskow’s problem is this: Since none of the speakers blamed America or Israel for the considerable suffering in the Muslim and Arab world, that must prove the conference was a CIA conspiracy. This is insane.

Actually, left-wing groups like Rabbis for Human Rights should have been at this conference. They were absent in droves. Here were true heroes speaking out, not people who saw themselves as victims of American and Zionist foreign policy. But then, that’s exactly why the Left shunned the gathering.

Ibn Warraq has written a devastating and masterful work, to be published this summer, titled Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said’s ‘Orientalism. Will Western intellectuals also dare defend the West? I call upon my colleagues to divest from an ideology of Islamic gender and religious apartheid that has hijacked, Palestinianized, and colonized the Western moral imagination with dreadful and dangerous consequences.

Phyllis Chesler

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/two-days-among-heroes/2007/03/14/

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