Saturday, August 18, 2007

Terra Incognita 1

August 18th, 2007

1) ‘The Foreign devils and Iraq’: Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi, a leader of the insurgency in Iraq has recently been revealed to be a fake. He was created by Al-Quaida to make the Iraqis think the insurgency is led by locals. However the history of terrorism shows that terrorists usually aren’t locals, they don’t ‘spoil their own nest’

2) ‘Monster in the Garden, Karen Armstrong’: Armstrong is one of the leading writers on religion in the world today. Her books on Islam and Mohammed who she describes as ‘a prophet for our time’ are supposed to bridge the clash of civilizations. However a careful reading of her and her fellow travelers reveals a tragic agenda.

3) ‘The ADL’s rotten mistake’: Abe Foxman of the ADL has condemned a campaign to have the U.S Congress recall the Armenian genocide. The ADL, a Jewish organization that fights anti-Semitism and hate, has no business doing this and by siding with Turkey is making an immoral mistake that it should be ashamed of.

The Foreign devils and Iraq
Seth J. Frantzman
August 16th 2007

Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi was a brutal mastermind of terror operations in Iraq. He was a local born leader who had vowed to drive out the Americans and the Shia. As a local leader of the Islamic State in Iraq, he was affiliated with Al Qaida. But there was one problem. He wasn’t a real person.

Many people will react to this news by scoffing at how stupid the Americans must be to have been fighting a fictional character. American officers used to complain in Vietnam that the man in the black pajamas would attack them and then fade away into the neighboring jungle and villages. But at least the Vietcong were real people. Its disturbing to think that the ‘insurgency’ in Iraq is being led by characters as far fetched as Mighty Mouse and Wolverine.

But it turns out that Mr. Baghdadi wasn’t exactly fictional. He was more of a stand in for the foreign born leaders and fighters that make up al Qaida in Mesopatamia, the man Sunni insurgent group. According to reports the voice of Baghdadi was provided by Adullah al-Naima and the idea behind this ruse was masterminded by Abu Ayub al-Masri, the Egyptian born leader of Al Qaeda in Mesopatamia. The terrorists went to these lengths in order to mask the degree to which foreigners make up the worst terrorists in Iraq.

This will surprise those who often refer to terrorists as ‘freedom fighters’. But the history of terrorism also has a certain ‘not in my backyard’ mentality to it. Oh how quickly we forget. The anarchists who terrorized the United States in the late 1890s and first twenty years of the 20th century were mostly foreigners. Many had been in the United States less than ten years and it was no surprise that the U.S deported many of them including the Lithuanian born Emma Goldman in 1919(she had been in the U.S for 35 years).

Communist terrorism was often led and caused by foreigners. The top leadership of the Soviets after the death of Lenin in 1924 were composed of Georgians(Stalin and Beria), A Pole(Dzerzhinsky), an Armenian(Mikoyan), A Ukrainian(Khrushchev), a peasant(Kalinin), Jews(Trotsky, Kamanev, Zinoviev, Sverdlov) and other people who were either foreigners or not considered Russian(the only prominent Russians included Molotov and Bukharin).

The history of Palestinian terrorism is almost always tied up with foreigners, including its most infamous leader, Yasser Arafat, who was probably born in Egypt. Many other prominent Palestinian terrorists have been born abroad, in Beirut, Syria or Jordan, not in Palestinian refugee camps, they simply were not Palestinian in the first place. The most famous Palestinian leader in the 1948 war outside Abdal Kader Husseini, was Fauzi Kaukji, a Syrian.

Islamist terrorism has relied on foreigners in all of its major campaigns. From Lebanon(1976-1988) to Afghanistan(1980-2001) to Algeria(1990-1998) to Bosnia(1994-1998) to Chechnya(1991-2000) and beyond. In East Africa, Kashmir, Sudan and most recently in Iraq. Islamists speak of fighting for the ‘Umma’ or Muslim nation, but this has had an elastic quality to it. In Afghanistan the foreigners slaughtered natives who disagreed with them including the ethnic Tajiks and the Shiites. In Bosnia the imported Arabs who worked as terrorists during the Balkan wars were known to have raped Bosnian women, thinking them to be ‘kaffirs’ since they went about uncovered and looked European. The same situation has played out in Chechnya where Arab recruits for the Jihad against Russia have abused and carried out depredations among the local Chechen population who they view as immoral and secular. In Jordan the Palestinian terrorists residing there under the banner of the PLO imposed their will on the local Bedouin population to such as extent that the King ordered his Bedouin soldiers to destroy the PLO in 1970. The main reason why Afghanistan fell so easily to the Americans in 2001 was because the ethnic Pashtun Afghans had tired of watching foreign fighters, mostly Saudis, overrun their homes and assault their women. They turned on the Arab Jihadists with a vengeance, happily naming names so the Americans could bring them to Guantanamo. Anyone who believes the insurgency in Iraq is fueled by Iraqis is mistaken, without the presence of foreign fighters, foreign weapons and foreign propaganda the insurgency would be far less deadly to both the American soldiers and the residents of Iraq.

Monster in the Garden: Karen Armstrong
Seth J. Frantzman
August 15, 2007

In an introduction to her book Mohammed: A Biography of the Prophet, Karen Armstrong wrote that “it has been difficult for the west to understand Islam’s reaction to Salman Rushdi’s depiction of Mohammed in the ‘Satanic Verses’…” Therefore she embarks on a search for the ‘historical Mohammed’. In this farce passing itself off as scholarship she uses the Koran as her source for the life of Mohammed, hardly a good way to get to the ‘historical’ Mohammed, but perhaps a good way to get to the Islamic Mohammed.
Karen Armstrong is the author of a number of popular books on religion, including; A History of God, The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions, The Battle For God, Mohammed: A Biography of the Prophet, Buddha and Mohammad: A Prophet for Our Time. She is one of the world’s most respected commentators on religion and a member of the Alliance of Civilizations, a group supposedly dedicated to inter-religious dialogue. She is a devotee of the ‘every religion has fundamentalism and violence’ mantra.

“Fundamentalism has erupted in every single major faith worldwide, not just in the Islamic world. The term "fundamentalism" was coined here in the United States, at the turn of the 20th century, when Protestant Christians said that they wanted to go back to the fundamentals of their faith… we have fundamentalist Judaism, Islam, Sikhism, Confucianism, Hinduism.”

Like all those who have recently written on religious extremism from Christiane Amanpour(God’s Warriors), Christopher Hitchens(God is not Great), Sam Harris (The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason), Avraham Burg, there is the general argument that all religions are violent(A parallel stream of thought argues that all religions engage in terrorism and that terrorism began with the Jewish zealots in 70 A.D and that the ‘first use of the word terrorism was used to describe the Jewish underground movement in Palestine in the 1930s’ But this logic the Jews Baruch Goldstien and Yigal Amar are as important as the Christian’s who have bombed abortion clinics and together they are as important as all the thousands of Islamic terrorist movements in the world and the tens of thousands of deaths caused by them yearly. See for instance: ‘A History of Terrorism’ by Gerard Chaliand, ‘Inside Terrorism’ by Bruce Hoffman, Reuters ‘Israeli-Palestinian Conflict’, Robert Pape’s ‘Dying to Win’ )

Karen Armstrong was born in 1962 and joined a nunnery at the age of 17. She left when she was 24. In one book she has described this ‘dark’ period of her life and how she did not ‘find God’ in the convent. Perhaps this shaded the rest of her work on Christianity and Judaism, and affected her subsequent writing on Islam, that borders on being a sycophant. Armstrong once noted that “I usually describe myself, perhaps flippantly, as a freelance monotheist. I draw sustenance from all three of the faiths of Abraham. I can't see any one of them as having the monopoly of truth, any one of them as superior to any of the others.”

According to professor Juan Eduardo Campo, Karen Armstrong has been influential in conveying the more objective post-19th-century scholarship of Islam to a wide reading in Europe and North America. Her view of Islam can be summed up by the following paragraph in her biography of Mohammed:

“After Mohammad’s death, Jews and Christians were never required to convert to Islam but were allowed to practice their religion freely in the Islamic empire. Later Zoroastrians, Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs were also counted among the People of the Book. It has never been a problem for Muslims to coexist with people of other religions. The Islamic empire was able to play hose to Christians and Jews for centuries; but Western Europe has found it almost impossible to tolerant Muslims and Jews in Christian territory(page 87).”

Armstrong has pretended in her writing to be unbiased and objective. But she is emblematic of the typical British and western view of Islam as enshrined by T.E. Lawrence, Richard Burton, John Bagot Glubb and Lady Evelyn Cobbold. It is the romanticizing of Islam and ascribing to Islam the perfection that its devotees ascribe to it. It is never criticizing or judging Islam but accepting its view of history from its point of view. This is the most blatant form of moral-relativism and the blindness of this type of scholarship has been responsible for much misunderstanding and countless deaths.

Deaths. How could it be that Ms. Armstrong has been responsible for deaths? But let us recall this friend of Ms. Armstrong, Feisal Abdul Rauf. Rauf is the imam of the al-Farah mosque in New York City and founder of the American Sufi Muslim Association. He teaches Islam and Sufism at the Center for Religious Inquiry at St. Bartholomew's Church and at New York Seminary. He was quoted during a seminar on fundamentalism with Armstrong as saying:

“One of the things that has been bothersome to many of us in the Muslim world is the so-called "clash of civilizations" [language] that was fostered by Samuel Huntington. His paradigm was that when people engage in conflict, they do it along civilizational lines. But it's become a very catchy phrase. People say civilizations clash, and the next big clash is the West against Islam. We've been demonized in that way. You have to have a dialogue amongst civilizations rather than speak of it in terms of a clash. Because the United States is the sole superpower today, we have the power of the bully pulpit. How we frame the dialogue will frame the future. If we frame the dialectic in terms of a dialogue among civilizations, we will create harmony. But if we foster the dialectic as a clash of civilizations, we will actually perpetuate the clash.”
The ideology of Armstrong means that people must ignore reality. By pretending that all of Muslim history was a utopia of tolerance the world is continually drugged into a false sense of security. When terrorism and violence breaks out among Muslims, the blinded people then blame themselves, wondering how they could have made the perfectly peaceful religion so violent. Witness the Pope who made comments at Regensburg about the connection of Islam and violence. Over the next week churches were bombed in Iraq, firebombed in Gaza, a priest was stabbed in Turkey and a nun was shot to death in Somalia. Islam turned violent. Muslims protested in England and one protestor held a sign that said “behead those who call Islam violent.” To a rational person the response should be obvious: Islam is violent, the fact that Muslims all around the world reacted the same way to the statements, by calling for the killing of Christians and murdering Christians who were not even Catholic, Islam showed itself to be violent. The logical person would ask “what would Buddhists do if they were called violent?” What of Christians or Jews? Christians are continually called violent by the press, accused of being the leaders of the inquisition and the crusades and accused of being fundamentalists who blow up abortion clinics. But Christians don’t react violently to being called violent, they usually say things like “the Crusaders weren’t real Christians.”
But the blindness of Armstrong and her acolytes drives people to claim that the Pope ‘caused violence by his comments and should retract them.’ The same logic was employed after the Cartoon affair in Denmark. The attacks all over the Muslim world on Christians, including riots in Damascus and Beirut and more firebombings of churches in the West Bank and Gaza, were said to be the fault of Denmark. After all the cartoons had ‘provoked violence.’ The same westerners who make these excuses would never make a similar excuse for a Jew who murdered an Englishmen in revenge for the Dave Brown Cartoon of Ariel Sharon eating a Palestinian Child that appeared in the U.K newspaper ‘The Independent’ in January of 2003. Would the west have made excuses for Jews who murdered Iranians after Iran hosted a Holocaust Denial conference and a Holocaust Cartoon contest. Actually we know how the west reacted to this. A number of Western leftists actually attended the Holocaust denial conference, including Canadian Professor and admirer of Chomsky, Dr. Shiraz Dosa. In addition Westerners framed the Holocaust denial conference as ‘showboating’ or ‘standing up to the west’ or ‘shedding light on the injustice forced upon the Palestinians for the Holocaust.’ Professors such as Virginia Tilley went out of their way to claim that Iranian President Ahmedinjad didn’t really call for any harm to come to Jews or Israel. Her comments must be read to be believed:

‘Putting Words in Ahmadinejad’s Mouth’ by Virginia Tilley in on August 28th, 2006.
“every supposed quote, every supposed instance of his doing so, is wrong. The most infamous quote, "Israel must be wiped off the map", is the most glaringly wrong. ..According to Farsi-language experts like Juan Cole, what he actually said was "this regime that is occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time."
What did he mean?,Mr. Ahmadinejad was being prophetic, not threatening. He was citing Imam Khomeini, who said this line in the 1980s…
But what about his other "threats" against Israel? He said "There is no doubt: the new wave of assaults in Palestine will erase the stigma in [the] countenance of the Islamic world." "Stigma" was interpreted as "Israel" and "wave of assaults" was ominous. But what he actually said was, "I have no doubt that the new movement taking place in our dear Palestine is a wave of morality which is spanning the entire Islamic world and which will soon remove this stain of disgrace from the Islamic world." "Wave of morality" is not "wave of assaults." The preceding sentence had made clear that the "stain of disgrace" was the Muslim world's failure to eliminate the "occupying regime".
For months, scholars like Cole and journalists like the London Guardian's Jonathan Steele have been pointing out these mistranslations while more and more appear: for example, Mr. Ahmadinejad’s comments at the Organization of Islamic Countries meeting on August 3, 2006. Radio Free Europe reported that he said "that the 'main cure' for crisis in the Middle East is the elimination of Israel.”...According to al-Jazeera, what he actually said was "The real cure for the conflict is the elimination of the Zionist regime, but there should be an immediate ceasefire first."
Nefarious agendas are evident in consistently translating "eliminating the occupation regime" as "destruction of Israel". "Regime" refers to governance, not populations or cities. "Zionist regime" is the government of Israel and its system of laws, which have annexed Palestinian land and hold millions of Palestinians under military occupation. Many mainstream human rights activists believe that Israel's "regime" must indeed be transformed, although they disagree how. Some hope that Israel can be redeemed by a change of philosophy and government (regime) that would allow a two-state solution. Others believe that Jewish statehood itself is inherently unjust, as it embeds racist principles into state governance, and call for its transformation into a secular democracy (change of regime). None of these ideas about regime change signifies the expulsion of Jews into the sea or the ravaging of their towns and cities. All signify profound political change, necessary to creating a just peace.
A final word is due about Mr. Ahmadinejad’s "Holocaust denial". Holocaust denial is a very sensitive issue in the West, where it notoriously serves anti-Semitism. Elsewhere in the world, however, fogginess about the Holocaust traces more to a sheer lack of information. One might think there is plenty of information about the Holocaust worldwide, but this is a mistake… Skepticism about the Holocaust narrative has started to take hold in the Middle East not because people hate Jews but because that narrative is deployed to argue that Israel has a right to "defend itself" by attacking every country in its vicinity. Middle East publics are so used to western canards legitimizing colonial or imperial takeovers that some wonder if the six-million-dead argument is just another myth or exaggerated tale.
Still, Mr. Ahmadinejad did not say what the US Subcommittee on Intelligence Policy reported that he said: "They have invented a myth that Jews were massacred and place this above God, religions and the prophets." He actually said, "In the name of the Holocaust they have created a myth and regard it to be worthier than God, religion and the prophets." This language targets the myth of the Holocaust, not the Holocaust itself - i.e., "myth" as "mystique", or what has been done with the Holocaust… In any case, Mr. Ahmadinejad’s main message has been that, if the Holocaust happened as Europe says it did, then Europe, and not the Muslim world, is responsible for it.
Virginia Tilley is a professor of political science, a US citizen working in South Africa, and author of ‘The One-State Solution: A Breakthrough for Peace in the Israeli-Palestinian Deadlock’ (University of Michigan Press and Manchester University Press, 2005).
We live in a world dominated by Armstrongs and Tilleys. These people are little different than the Lady Evelyn Cobbold who in 1929 converted to Islam and made the Hajj to Mecca in 1933. They are converts to Islam already and yet they pass themselves off as scholars in the west writing ‘objective’ accounts of Islam. They are like Feisal Abdul Rauf who teaches Islam at the Center for Religious Inquiry at St. Bartholomew's Church and at New York Seminary. Like him, a Muslim teaching Islam at Christian institutions, they are Muslims as well.

The ADL’s rotten mistake
August 17th, 2007
Seth J. Frantzman

A bill is making its way through the U.S Congress that condemns the Armenian genocide. Who would oppose that, except Turkish nationalists? It turns out Jews oppose it. The Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith, the AJC and the JINSA, some of the biggest and most influential Jewish organizations in the United States, have made it clear they oppose the bill. One of the organizations claims that the question of the Armenian genocide should be ‘settled by historians’. Abe Foxman, chief of the ADL, is one of the leaders in the Jewish community calling on Congress to take no action. He has claimed that the “Jury is still out on whether those massacres [Armenians] qualify as genocide” and he has further noted that “it is not the job of Congress to settle the question” of the Armenian genocide.

This seems pretty rich coming from someone who heads an organization that works to end anti-Semitism towards Jews and expose those who issue anti-Semitic statements or carry out such actions. When a professor such as Norman Finkelstien says “the jury is still out on the Holocaust” or “the question of the Holocaust is one that academics should settle” he is called a Holocaust denier and rightfully so. Iranian President Ahmadinjed has often said that ‘scholars’ should decide the extent of the Holocaust, rather than Jews or governments. But ‘scholars’ is usually a code-word for ‘scholars that agree with me.’ In Turkey, for instance, there are plenty of scholars who study Turkish and Ottoman history and not one of them has ever confirmed the Armenian genocide. This is because academics in Turkey are prosecuted for ‘insulting the Turkish state’ if they mention the Armenian genocide, or insinuate that there might have even been massacres of Armenians. Turkish academics are at the forefront of Turkish nationalism and they reject the Armenian genocide as slander against ‘Turkishness.’ There is nothing scholarly about such extremely nationalistic professors. Yet Foxman basically collaborates with them. Since the majority of academics studying Turkish history are Turkish and since most departments of Turkish studies in the United States are funded by Turkey and since any professors who studies Turkish history would be banned from the country should be mention the genocide, it is not surprise that the ‘scholars’ have decided mostly that no such genocide took place.

Imagine if Germany barred any professor who accepted the Holocaust as truth from doing research in Germany. Imagine if Germany bankrolled all departments of German studies in the United States and forbid those departments from mentioning the Holocaust. Imagine if German academics denied the Holocaust. All of a sudden we would find that there were far less professors studying the Holocaust. It is the German support for Holocaust studies and the opening of Nazi archives that have made that study progress. Turkish archives, by contrast, are closed for the period in question, 1915-1922.

What of Foxman’s strange claim that the issue of the Armenian genocide is not one for Congress to deal with? The U.S Congress supported the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. The U.S has supported the creation of an international Holocaust remembrance day. U.S public schools teach the Holocaust. Foxman has not complained when legislatures in France, Germany, Austria and elsewhere in Europe have made Holocaust denial a crime. So where was Foxman at the opening of the Holocaust museum to protest the interference of Congress in legislating the Holocaust? Where has he been all these years to tell us that Holocaust is a matter for ‘scholars’ such as Finkelstien and Chomsky.

The fact is that Foxman has been bought off, at least in part, by the Turkish lobby. This is not a conspiracy. Reports have noted that the Turkish government has met with Jewish groups in America to note that the Turkish cause dovetails with Israel and that Jews should support Turkey because Turkey has traditionally sheltered Jews and the Jews in Turkey even support Turkey in the matter of denying the genocide.

Those who support Israel and Israelis themselves often find themselves confused about the Armenian genocide because of fears that Turkey, as Israel’s only Muslim ally, might turn on Israel and the Jews should Jews voice too much interest in the genocide. But blackmail is not a good reason for people to deny history. This is seen often in Arab countries where minorities are encouraged to support national movements for fears of being called ‘traitors.’ In Egypt this is the case with the Copts, they are expected to not only stomach being called infidels but they are supposed to be in total denial about their suppression under Islam for 1400 years and the disappearance of their language, in order to not be called traitors by Egypt’s leaders. But the Jews are not Copts. There is no reason to deny the Armenian genocide.

What is worse is that there is no excuse to sit by while others deny it and thereby collaborate with the deniers. But Foxman is doing just that. Why didn’t Foxman just keep his mouth shut? Is he worried the Armenian Genocide will compete with the Holocaust(after all the anti-Israel writer at the Independent, Robert Fisk has tried to get people to refer to it as the ‘Armenian Holocaust’ or ‘The First Holocaust’)? No, that’s not the reason apparently. Foxman has a big mouth perhaps, he has apparently been convinced that it is somehow bad for the Jews if the Armenian genocide will be recognized. This baffles me. Does Foxman have similar fears about recognition of genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda and Sudan? No. That is why it is obvious it has much to do with Turkey. Some people have tried to draw parallels between the shrill condemnations of Israeli ‘ethnic-cleansing’ and ‘massacres’ and the accusations of Turkish genocide against the Armenians. Turks certainly feel this way. They say the Armenians were terrorists, like the Palestinians, and that the Armenians collaborated with Turkey’s enemies during the First World War, the way the Palestinians collaborated with Israel’s enemies, and that the deportation of the Armenians was the result, just as Palestinians fled Israel in 1948. Some supporters of Israel and Israelis have accepted this. They have accepted that the media inflated the Armenian massacres the way the media inflates the Israeli occupation to make it the ‘most brutal apartheid occupation in the world.’ But the situation of Israel and Turkey is not the same. Israel doesn’t deny its human rights violations or its history, it merely contests the extreme interpretations of them. By contrast in Turkey it is illegal to discuss the genocide. In Israel it is common for academics such as Kimmerling, Gordon, Zimmerman and Pappe to compare Israel to a ‘Nazi state’.

The ADL should be ashamed of itself for taking part in debating the Armenian genocide. The Armenians don’t comment on the Holocaust and nor should they. Many people would also write that its improper for the Jews to comment on the authenticity of the genocides of others because the Jews suffered a genocide. Many would say that the Jews should also be at the forefront of defending the victims of genocide, which is what Jewish activists did in Bosnia(for the wrong reasons) and have done in Darfur(for the right reasons). But I won’t say that. Its just wrong, period. Not because of Jewish history, but because of hypocrisy, sleaze, and collaboration with evil.

Seth J. Frantzman is a former aide to U.S Congressman Jim Kolbe, and is currently working on a Doctorate at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the creator of the theory of Post-Humanism and a contributor to the Tucson Weekly.

Seth J. Frantzman

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