”By Robert Spencer on FrontPageMagazine”
Obama’s much anticipated speech to the Islamic world is being widely hailed as a major breakthrough in
Obama began: “I am honored to be in the timeless city of
...whose Grand Sheikh, Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, has given his approval — on Islamic grounds — to suicide bombing.
and for over a century,
According to Islamic law, a Muslim may only extend this greeting -- Peace be upon you -- to a fellow Muslim. To a non-Muslim he is to say, “Peace be upon those who are rightly guided,” i.e., Peace be upon the Muslims. Islamic law is silent about what Muslims must do when naive non-Muslim Islamophilic Presidents offer the greeting to Muslims.
We meet at a time of tension between the
“Co-existence and cooperation”? When and where, exactly?
Note that Obama lists only ways in which the West has, in his view, mistreated the Islamic world. Not a word about the jihad doctrine, not a word about Islamic supremacism and the imperative to make war against and subjugate non-Muslims as dhimmis. Not a word about the culture of hatred and contempt for non-Muslims that existed long before the spread of American culture (“modernity and globalization”) around the world, which Obama D’Souzaishly suggests is responsible for the hostility Muslims have for the West.
Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims. The attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights. This has bred more fear and mistrust.
The idea that the jihadists are a “small but potent minority of Muslims” is universally accepted dogma, but has no evidence to back it up. The evidence that appears to back it up is highly tendentious -- check out here how Dalia Mogahed (now an Obama adviser) and John Esposito cooked survey data from the Islamic world to increase the number of “moderates.”
And of course it was by no means only “the attacks of September 11th, 2001 and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians” that “has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights.” It was also the Islamic texts and teachings that inspired those attacks that have fueled this perception. But Obama is not singular in declining to acknowledge the existence of such texts and teachings. In that he is following George W. Bush and every influential American politician, diplomat, and analyst.
So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, and who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. This cycle of suspicion and discord must end.
I have come here to seek a new beginning between the
No word, of course, of the Sharia laws that impugn the dignity of human beings who are women or non-Muslim by denying them various basic rights.
I do so recognizing that change cannot happen overnight. No single speech can eradicate years of mistrust,
Once again, he assumes that it is his responsibility, and
nor can I answer in the time that I have all the complex questions that brought us to this point. But I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground. As the Holy Qur’an
tells us, “Be conscious of God and speak always the truth.” That is what I will try to do – to speak the truth as best I can, humbled by the task before us, and firm in my belief that the interests we share as human beings are far more powerful than the forces that drive us apart. Part of this conviction is rooted in my own experience. I am a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims.
Note that he avoids saying his father was a Muslim, which would open him to charges of apostasy
… I spent several years in
As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam – at places like
The idea that Islamic culture was once a beacon of learning and enlightenment is a commonly held myth. In fact, much of this has been exaggerated, often for quite transparent apologetic motives. The astrolabe was developed, if not perfected, long before Muhammad was born. The zero, which is often attributed to Muslims, and what we know today as “Arabic numerals” did not originate in Arabia , but in pre-Islamic
In sum, there was a time when it was indeed true that Islamic culture was more advanced than that of Europeans, but that superiority corresponds exactly to the period when Muslims were able to draw on and advance the achievements of Byzantine and other civilizations. But when the Muslim overlords had taken what they could from their subject peoples, and the Jewish and Christian communities had been stripped of their material and intellectual wealth and thoroughly subdued, Islam went into a period of intellectual decline from which it has not yet recovered.
I know, too, that Islam has always been a part of
Of course it doesn’t (the Treatry of
And since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the
Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t it have been more accurate for Obama to say “won a Nobel Prize”? Isn’t Ahmed Zewail the only U.S.-based Muslim to have won a Nobel Prize?
And when the first Muslim-American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same Holy Qur’an that one of our Founding Fathers – Thomas Jefferson – kept in his personal library.
I have an Arabic Qur’an and 19 different translations of the Qur’an in my office -- 18 into English and one into Spanish. I’m not sure that the fact that
So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between
I couldn’t agree more!
And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the
Assuming that such stereotypes actually exist, and that negativity toward Islam among non-Muslims isn’t entirely a reaction to jihad violence and Islamic supremacism, why is this his responsibility? Is it his responsibility as President to fight against negative stereotypes of Christians as ignorant racist yahoos? Is it his responsibility as President to fight against negative stereotypes of Hindus? Jews? Black Americans? American Southerners? Californians? Or is it only his responsibility to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam? If the latter, why? On what basis? By what justification?
But that same principle must apply to Muslim perceptions of
Good, but not good enough. He should have pointed out not only our founding principles, but the fact that
Much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President.
I still remember when it was “racist” and “Islamophobic” to note the President’s middle name.
But my personal story is not so unique. The dream of opportunity for all people has not come true for everyone in America, but its promise exists for all who come to our shores – that includes nearly seven million American Muslims in our country today who enjoy incomes and education that are higher than average.
“Nearly seven million American Muslims” -- he is accepting the inflated population figures pushed by Islamic advocacy groups for obvious political reasons.
Moreover, freedom in
So let there be no doubt: Islam is a part of
Platitudes and naivete. No mention of the Islamic supremacist agenda that would deny the right of so many to live with dignity -- but I am sure he doesn’t even believe that such an agenda exists.
Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.
For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. And when innocents in
He picked two places where he believes that the chief victims are Muslims.
That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.
This is a difficult responsibility to embrace. For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes subjugating one another to serve their own interests.
Yes, and often they have done so under the divine imperative to make non-Muslims “feel themselves subdued” (Qur’an ).
Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners of it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; progress must be shared.
In the interest of such sharing, no doubt, Obama made sure that Muslim Brotherhood members attended this speech. Yet the Brotherhood is dedicated, in its own words, to “eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.” Doesn’t that count as an attempt to elevate “one nation or group of people over another”?
That does not mean we should ignore sources of tension.
Indeed, it suggests the opposite: we must face these tensions squarely. And so in that spirit, let me speak as clearly and plainly as I can about some specific issues that I believe we must finally confront together.
The first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all of its forms.
Unfortunately, the definition of “innocent” is not always and everywhere the same. Some jihadists consider no non-Muslim to be innocent. This is an important point, since Obama is appealing to Muslims to oppose the killing of innocents, by which he means American non-combatants as on 9/11 -- but many of his hearers don’t consider such people to be innocent:
The situation in Afghanistan demonstrates America’s goals, and our need to work together. Over seven years ago, the
Make no mistake: we do not want to keep our troops in
That’s why we’re partnering with a coalition of forty-six countries. And despite the costs involved,
He is appealing to Muslims, as I explained above, on the basis of premises that not all of them share.
Incidentally, his reference is to Qur’an 5:32. doesn’t quite continue the beautiful spirit here, mandating crucifixion or amputation for those who fight against Allah and Muhammad.
The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. Islam is not part of the problem in combating violent extremism – it is an important part of promoting peace.
No mention, no awareness, of the imperative within Islamic texts and teachings to subjugate Infidels.
We also know that military power alone is not going to solve the problems in
Based on the erroneous assumption that jihad violence is a reaction to American actions, and so American kindness will dispel it. The South African Mufti Ebrahim Desai, the imam of an “Ask the Imam” feature at a Muslim question and answer site, was once asked this question (spelling and grammar as in the original): “The west is often criticised by Muslims for many reasons, such as allowing women go to work. But shouldnt the west also recieve praise because its always them who intervene when muslims r being tortured, they stopped Milosovic kiling muslims and sent their own troops to the country, they r usually the first to send aid when theres a flood, they r also intervening in Isreal and condeming them killing Muslims, so should we appreciate their efforts or not?”
Desai’s answer was brief: “In simple the Kuffaar [unbelievers] can never be trusted for any possible good they do. They have their own interest at heart.”
One man’s opinion? Sure. But it is an opinion with deep roots in Islamic tradition, and it would therefore be naïve to dismiss it as simply Desai’s own mean-spiritedness. The Qur’an contains a warning against those who turn “in friendship to the Unbelievers….If only they had believed in Allah, in the Prophet, and in what hath been revealed to him, never would they have taken them for friends and protectors, but most of them are rebellious wrong-doers” (5:80-81). It also tells Muslims that “never will the Jews or the Christians be satisfied with thee unless thou follow their form of religion” (2:120).
These are words that Obama should consider carefully.
Let me also address the issue of
And finally, just as
Good luck with that. It hasn’t happened in all the years since 9/11. Why will it happen now? On what basis does Obama think or hope it will?
The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.
Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in
On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than sixty years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank,
Occupation? Why did no one ever complain about Egyptian and Jordanian occupation of Palestinian land between 1948 and 1967, when they controlled Gaza and the West Bank?
And those “daily humiliations” might not be so bad if so many of them hadn’t gloried in blowing up Israeli civilians.
So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.
Intolerable? But it wasn’t intolerable for Israelis to put up with the daily threat of being blown up in pizza parlors or on buses?
For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It is easy to point fingers – for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by
Such a state will be used as a base for further jihad attacks against
That is in
The Palestinians never have. What will Obama do to change that now? Apparently his only concrete idea is to put more pressure on the Israelis, although he talks a good game:
Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in
His comparison of the Palestinians with black Americans is unconscionable. Are the Israelis Bull Connor and George Wallace? For the comparison to hold, black Americans must have been launching daily rocket attacks against white civilians, and blowing themselves up at those segregated lunch counters during crowded lunch hours. Remember that?
Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build.
People have been calling upon them to do that for years. They have never heeded the call. Mortimer Zuckerman and others spent $14 million to give them Israeli greenhouses during the
But remember, the lessons of history don’t count.
The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, and to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel’s right to exist.
Yes, and Khaled Meshaal will fly Buraq to
At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as
Absurd moral equivalence. Peaceful settlements on land to which
Never mind the many indications that that humanitarian crisis is a product of the Palestinian propaganda machine.
Finally, the Arab States must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state; to recognize
Not “everyone” knows this. Many Palestinians will not recognize
Continues on Part II