Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Muslims/Arabs over-react to Tancredo Comments, July 27, 2005

RELEASE: WEDNESDAY, JULY 27, 2005
ARABS AND MUSLIMS OVERREACTING TO TANCREDO COMMENTS
By Ray Hanania
I'm not as angry with Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo as many other Arabs and Muslims are. Tancredo supposedly said America should nuke Mecca, the Muslim Holy City.

Well, that's not what he said, though he came pretty close. Arab and Muslim American organizations quickly denounced Tancredo, demanding he apologize or resign. Not surprisingly, Tancredo stood by his comments, saying they were taken out of context.

Not only will he not apologize, he won't even admit his remarks were more ignorant than rant. That's because Tancredo's comments, accurate or not, are getting great play with an American public that is more and more concerned about a potential terrorist attack.

And Tancredo's getting a lot of media play, too. Most Americans had never heard of plans he had earlier in the year to run for president until the nuke Mecca controversy erupted. Now, his presidential bid is getting national coverage.

What was it that Tancredo really said?

Tancredo was being interviewed Jul. 15 by Pat Campbell, a talk-show host at WFLA radio in Orlando, Florida. The topic was a column posted on the popular WorldNetDaily internet site hosted by columnist Joseph Farah that asserted Islamic terrorists have already brought nuclear weapons into the United States across the impossible-to-monitor Mexican border. That's pretty scary stuff, especially coming right smack in the middle of two separate terrorist strikes by Muslims terrorists in London.

Here is the transcript of the interview, published by the Denver Post:

Campbell: "Worst-case scenario -- if they do have these nukes inside the
borders and they were to use something like that, what would our response be?"

Tancredo: "What would be the response? (pause) Um, you know, there are
things you could threaten to do before something like that happens and you may
have to do afterwards (unintelligible) draconian."

Campbell: "Such as?"

Tancredo: "Well, what if you said something like, 'If this happens in the
United States and we determine that it is the result of extremist,
fundamentalist Muslims.' You could take out their holy sites."

Campbell: "You're talking about bombing Mecca?"

Tancredo: "Yeah. What if you said, 'We recognize this is the ultimate
threat to the United States, so this is the ultimate response.' I'm just
throwing out some ideas because you would be talking about taking the most
draconian measures you could possibly imagine. Because other than that, all you
could do is, once again, tighten up internally."


I think the Arab and Muslim American organizations are overreacting. They bash anyone who even questions their religion. But when it comes to denouncing Islamic terrorists who have hijacked their religion and killed thousands of Americans, they seem selective.

Rather than publicize Tancredo, Arabs and Muslims should ignore him.

What Tancredo said or didn't say doesn't matter. What does matter is the growing hostility against Arabs and Muslims by many Americans that has nothing to do with Tancredo at all. The fact is, Tancredo's comments are mild compared to the chorus of Americans who are screaming for the United States to drop nuclear weapons on Arab and Muslim countries in response to Sept. 11. Just turn on any radio or TV talk show.

To many Americans, Tancredo probably didn't go far enough. The idea of responding with a larger, worse nuclear counter-strike is built into America's policy of nuclear deterrence. More importantly, though, Americans may be angry, but they are not stupid.

They see how Arab and Muslim Americans organizations are selective in criticizing some acts of terrorism but not all. To some Americans, Arabs and Muslims also look hypocritical in the Tancredo controversy. Isn't it Arabs and Muslims who are always arguing that Americans need to get to the "root causes of the terrorism?"

Maybe Arabs and Muslims should practice what they preach, and understand the "root causes" of the growing anti-Arab and anti-Muslim feelings that make it easy for elected officials like Tancredo and the American public to clamor for a tougher response to Islamic terrorism?

That's not to say that Arabs and Muslims should rally behind Tancredo's presidential candidacy. No. Until now, Tancredo was known to Americans for his history of insensitive comments about all immigrants, not just Arabs and Muslims.

But aren't there more important issues Arabs and Muslims should focus on, avoiding the cheap shots that play into, rather than assuage, the growing fears and anger of Americans?

To find out more about Ray Hanania, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2005 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
Originally Published on Wednesday July 27, 2005

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Muslims sometimes feed Islamic stereotypes, July 20, 2005

RELEASE: WEDNESDAY, JULY 20, 2005
MUSLIMS SOMETIMES FEED ISLAMIC STEREOTYPES
By Ray Hanania

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) released a PSA last week they hope will convince Americans that Muslims oppose terrorism. But the PSA fails to address some of the real challenges that feed American bigotry against Muslims and Arabs.

In fact, CAIR narrowly defines Muslims so harshly that it might even feed further misunderstanding.

For example, the PSA includes several individuals, including two women who argue that terrorism is not condoned by Islam. Both are wearing a Hijab, a head covering some Muslims wrongly assert is required for women by the Quran. It is not.

The issue of the Hijab has become central to the conflict Americans have with Muslims. Sadly, many Muslim women are forced to wear the Hijab because Muslim men, who live under conditions free of the very restrictive inhibitions they impose on women, insist they wear them. The CAIR PSA therefore feeds, rather than undermines, the bias some Americans have against Muslims. Another issue involves the more complex distinction between Muslims and Arabs.

The two are often interchanged to suit the convenience of both American bigots and Muslims who often engage in their own policies of discrimination against non-Muslim Arabs or Muslims who do not accept the extreme interpretations of Islam.

The Arab-Israeli conflict involves Arab opposition to Israel's discriminatory practices against Arabs who are both Christian and Muslim. It is not the same as the campaign of terror driven by Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden.

Although Bin Laden claims to represent all Muslims, he does not. And his mission is not one of freeing Muslims or Arabs, but destroying Western civilization and those who do not accept his strict interpretations of Islam, people more commonly referred to by extremist Muslims as "infidels." Infidels not only include Americans and all Jews, but also Christian Arabs and Muslims who are more secular in their lifestyles.

The CAIR PSA feeds into the narrow definition of Muslims, excluding the secular Muslims and most Arabs. More than half of the estimated 4.2 million Arabs in America, for example, are not Muslim at all but are Christian.

The majority of Muslims in America, estimated as 7 million, are in fact non-Arab. Arabs only make up 23 percent of the Muslim-American population, and a slightly larger percentage worldwide.

Many Muslims are not Arab, and, as we have seen in London recently (where the suicide bombers were identified as Pakistani), many Islamic terrorists are not Arab.

Oftentimes, because Americans are uneducated about these subtle distinctions, they discriminate against Christian Arabs believing wrongly that they are Muslims. I am often mistaken for a Muslim. And while I am not insulted in the least, I am surprised at how many Americans don't even know that many Arabs are Christian.

Understanding these important subtleties might help the United States, for example, better prepare itself for another terrorist attack that is certainly going to happen. Chances are, for example, the United States will be the target of another suicide bombing.

Just as we witnessed the terrorism in London, we will see that kind of terrorism against civilian targets here in the America. But it is also a good guess that the perpetrators of the next terrorist act will not be Palestinian, who are engaged in an almost exclusively focused conflict against Israel.

Israel would like Americans to believe their conflict is the same as the war on terrorism, but it is not. The only Americans ever killed in Palestinian attacks were Americans who either were dual nationals carrying Israeli citizenship, too or Americans accidentally caught up in the Palestinian militant violence against Israel.

The violence of groups like Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad that includes suicide attacks is certainly immoral and is an unjustified form of resistance. Palestinians and most Arabs are not anti-American.

The real threat is not from those engaged in the Arab-Israeli conflict, but those who are fighting a larger battle not just against Israel, but against secular Muslims and Christian Arabs. Bin Laden is battling Western civilization and the freedoms its people enjoy.

These are issues that CAIR's national office should address. But Muslims, moderate and extremist, are oftentimes guilty of discriminating against other Muslims and Christian Arabs who disagree with narrow interpretations of Islam and the Middle East conflict.

One of the side effects of Bin Laden's terrorism has been the suppression of the secular Muslim identity and the isolation by extremist Muslims of the Christian Arabs.

In the end, that only helps Bin Laden achieve his terrorist goals.

To find out more about Ray Hanania, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2005 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.
Originally Published on Wednesday July 20, 2005

Friday, July 15, 2005

Not enough being done to condemn terrorism by Arabs and Muslims, July 15, 2005

Not enough being done to condemn terrorism by Arabs and Muslims
Creators Syndicate July 15, 2005
By Ray Hanania

Muslim and Arab American groups quickly and sharply condemned the terrorist attacks in London, but remained silent when suicide bombers struck Israel.

Last week, four attackers whom British officials now believe were suicide bombers, separately struck London’s transit system, killing 52 and injuring hundreds.

All four are believed to be a part of al-Qaeda’s loose network.

The attacks pushed the demarcation line on what is and isn’t possible. Many observers including Stephen Emerson warned that is is a matter of when not if suicide bombers strike America, again.

Yet one week later when a Palestinian suicide bomber struck a shopping mall in Netanya near Tel Aviv, nearly all the Arab and Muslim organizations were silent. The attack was blamed in Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Islamic sibling of Hamas.

These American organizations are playing a duplicitous and dangerous game. They are only saying enough to protect themselves against what they fear will be a repeat of the post-Sept. 11 backlash.

The greater danger though is the impact their silence is having on the efforts to bring peace to the Palestine-Israel conflict, often cited as the backbone of the anger many Muslims and Arabs have against Americans and the West.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who was elected in democratic elections held in January, remains politically crippled as Hamas and the PIJ exploit the suffering of Palestinians.

The harder it is to achieve peace, the more the oppressive Palestinian life becomes. Pushed to heightened anguish and emotion, Palestinians are less likely to speak out against the suicide bombings or the extremist groups like Hamas or PIJ, even though a March 2005 survey of Palestinian by pollster Khalil Shikaki shows most support compromise with Israel and oppose suicide bombings. Hamas and the PIJ have both publicly rejected compromise and Israel’s existence.

Although Abbas’ Fatah political organization continues to dominate Palestinian politics on a national level, Hamas and PIJ gains at the local election level are disturbing.

Abbas should ban both organizations and prevent them from participating in any elections until they renounce violence.

He has the legal mandate to pursue this demand as the officially elected leader of Palestine. In contrast, Hamas and the PIJ are basically operating as illegal militias or vigilantes.

On a moral level, the violence of Hamas and the PIJ go far beyond justified resistance. Although Israel is guilty of many actions that violate human rights and international law, nothing justifies a suicide bombing against any targets, especially those that are civilian.

Suicide bombings are morally reprehensible.

Hamas and the PIJ were not only behind the most recent suicide attack in Netanya, but also the last attack last February which was as much directed at killing Israelis as it was at killing the legitimacy of Abbas’ government.

How do American Arab and Muslim organizations fit into this deteriorating scenario?

As long as the major Arab and Muslim organizations refuse or fail to stand up and denounce Hamas or PIJ violence and suicide bombing attacks, Hamas and the PIJ have no real pressure to discontinue.

Last month when Abbas extended his hand to Hamas and invited them into a coalition government if they would end their violent campaigns, Hamas scoffed at the offer. The Netanya suicide bombing can be viewed as their more public rejection of Abbas and his government.

As long as the major Arab and Muslim organizations refuse or fail to denounce Hamas and PIJ attacks, the Arab American media and even the Arab World media will continue to incite the public against peace and in support of continued violence, claiming falsely that suicide bombings are an act of legitimate resistance when it is well beyond the realm of legitimacy.

Finally, while Arab and Muslim American organizations refrain from condemning Hamas and the PIJ, they are active in attacking any Arabs or Muslims, like myself, who speak out against Hamas and the PIJ and who call suicide bombings immoral and unjustified.

In part, these organizations can get away with this because Americans and people in the West allow them to get away with it.

The Palestine-Israel conflict is so complex that it is beyond the comprehension of most Americans.

The fact that the alleged suicide bombers in London were Pakistani and not Palestinians seems to be irrelevant to many Americans who continue to rail against all Muslim causes, including distant causes like the fight for Palestinian justice and statehood.

END

Friday, July 08, 2005

London bombings reveal how unsafe the world really is, July 8, 2005

London bombings reveal how unsafe the world really is
July 8, 2005 Creators Syndicate
By Ray Hanania

I think it is pretty clear that the world is not safer as a result of the war in Iraq.

It is also clear that our current security procedures are not working. Profiling Arabs and Muslims only tends to isolate a community that for the most part opposes the extremism of the terrorists.

The fact is, no matter what we might do, without support from the communities where we believe terrorism originates, we cannot properly defend ourselves.

In effect, we are at the mercy of the terrorists who strike not on our failed timetables of fast wars, but on their ideological calendar where the period between attacks may be weeks, months and even years.

The toll of lost lives from the concerted attack against several commuter targets in Britain’s capitol continues to rise. Bombs were set in six bus and subway locations.

Immediately, British officials identified al-Qaeda, the terrorist organization of fugitive Saudi militant Osama Bin Laden.

You would think that a sane person moved by the tragedy of the terrorism might ask the obvious questions: Why haven’t we captured Bin Laden? Why did we focus on Iraq rather than on completing the job in Afghanistan where Bin Laden is reportedly hiding along the border with Pakistan, a nation that supposedly is our ally?

Most Americans are already weary of the contradictions in the answers.

There are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. We so easily pushed that aside and found a new excuse to justify an unjustified war there. But every failed excuse leads to another failed excuse.

What’s next after "making the world a safer place’ proves to also be a failed objective in invading Iraq?

At some point, the American and British people might start demanding accountability from their governments.

But it is so easy to fall into the heated and emotional political debate rather than to examine the failed policies for real answers.

The answers are there for us to find.

We should immediately withdraw from Iraq. It’s a war we cannot win. We began with unbelievably na├»ve goals of crushing Saddam Hussein and winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.

Saddam Hussein is in prison but the persistent and very successful insurgency continues to grow, not diminish while the number of mainly Americans soldiers who are dying there continues to grow.

Rather than creating enemies in the Arab and Muslim World through foreign policies based on injustice and favortism, we should be working to resolve many of the longstanding problems that range from the brutal and unjustified Israeli occupation of Palestine to the continuing support this nation provides to Middle East tyrants and dictators who oppress their own people while speaking hypocritically about embracing Democracy.

We should end the politically driven prosecutions of Arabs and Muslims in America, many of whom have been targeted not because of anti-American activities but because of their political views critical of foreign countries like Israel.

If the United States and Britain imposed a fair and just solution to the Palestine-Israel conflict, that would do far more to undermine the popular support terrorists are receiving from the people of the Arab and Muslim world who are driven to that support by anger and emotion.

When we stop playing politics with our foreign policy and put real meaning behind building Democracies, freeing people and achieving justice in the Middle East, then we might find that the majority of those people will embrace us as the champions that we so far have failed to become.

It will also mean eliminating the injustices and tragedies that the terrorists continue to exploit as a cover for their crimes.

As a result of the London attacks, there is an increased vigilance in America and other Western nations for potential follow-up strikes by al-Qaeda against transportation centers.

But if there is one lesson we must expect from al-Qaeda, and their free leader, it is that they are unpredictable and our current methods of security provide no security at all.

END

Friday, July 01, 2005

Heavy burden of peace falls on Israel July 1, 2005

Heavier burden of peace based on two-states falls on Israel
Creators Syndicate, July 1, 2005
By Ray Hanania

Whether or not Israel does succeed in evacuating its settlers and soldiers from the Gaza Strip, the move will only fuel continued conflict not end it.

There is only one solution and that is the two-state solution. And the two-state solution is only viable if certain steps are taken by both sides that go way beyond the demands set by Israel and the United States on the Palestinians.

The real burden for peace is on Israel. Either Israelis accept the inevitability of a viable Palestinian State or they accept the reality of endless conflict.

Some Israelis view the fate of the Palestinians as being that of the Native American Indians who were overwhelmed by White European settlers so much that they were eventually pushed to the point of marginalized submission.

In the end, the Americans did not have to compromise with the Native Americans at all. They continued to lie, signing treaty after treaty they knew would either be broken by angry Indians driven by the unfairness of the conflict and broken pride or by the needs of their own growing population.

That’s the difference. The enormous population growth of the European settlers was so great that the Native Americans were marginalized to near oblivion.

Israel’s population has no where to grow. Severing off Palestinian population areas, like the Gaza Strip, is only a short-term answer.

You can see much of the same "conquest greed" in the Israelis that drove the American settlers. But it is blinding Israelis from the only real answer to their survival. Working towards anything but a viable two-state solution only guarantees the conflict will never end.

For the two-state solution to work, Israelis and Palestinians must both set aside their pride and accept a few realities.

The two-state solution is impossible if Palestinians insist that all of the refugees Israel forcibly evicted from the country in 1948 (and later in 1967, too) will have to be returned.

It’s not going to happen. Most Palestinians know it won’t happen but in the face of their continued dispossession, they are afraid to admit it. Pride not reason keeps them from accepting that truth.

On its part, there can be no real peace if Israel insists on selfishly controlling all of Jerusalem and preserving most of the illegal settlements in the West Bank like Gilo and Ariel.

Either Israel accepts the fate that all of the settlements must be dismantled, or negotiates a compromise where the settlers become a part of the Palestinian state. Two-states are not possible if the settlements remain.

And two-states are worthless answers if they do not involve a real sharing of Jerusalem, not the fake sharing plan that Israel offered a few years back.

Waiting in the shadows are the extremists and rejectionists and both sides who hope for unrealistic dreams of pushing the other into the sea. They will use the oppression of the conflict to fuel a resistance that will keep the conflict alive for generations to come.

There may be lulls in the conflict. But Palestinians will not become for Israel what Native Americans have become for Americans, wealthy but powerless casino operators and tribal tourist attractions.

Israelis need not fear a strategic Palestinian plan to destroy it. The Palestinians can’t win. But they can prevent Israel from winning.

There is a genuine opportunity to make peace happen, but it will take Israel to take the initial steps defined in a broader vision that defines a future of two-states, side by side and in peace.

It will require both sides to make concessions that today seem equally tough and painful, but in a future defined by peace will no doubt be worth the price paid.

END