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January 20, 2015 0

Calling Radical Islam What It Is

By Abra­ham H. Fox­man
National Direc­tor of the Anti-Defamation League

This arti­cle orig­i­nally appeared on The Huff­in­g­ton Post Blog

If we want to win the war against rad­i­cal Islam — and in my view it should be the num­ber one pri­or­ity of the West­ern and Mus­lim worlds — we need to call it what it is. Too often, out of a mis­placed sense of polit­i­cal cor­rect­ness, polit­i­cal lead­ers, includ­ing Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and French Pres­i­dent Fran­coise Hol­lande, avoid iden­ti­fy­ing the extrem­ists as pro­po­nents of a rad­i­cal Islamic ideology.

The solu­tion to the threat lies pri­mar­ily within the Mus­lim world itself. Main­stream Mus­lims must on every level, start­ing with edu­ca­tion, dis­cour­age young peo­ple from tak­ing the extrem­ist path. But if we in the West are reluc­tant to explic­itly say what it is, why should Mus­lim mod­er­ates speak and act?

I address this as some­one who rep­re­sents an orga­ni­za­tion that stands up against defam­ing of Mus­lims in gen­eral or Islam as a reli­gion. When indi­vid­u­als try to show their bona fides in sup­port of Israel by claim­ing that Islam as a reli­gion is ter­ror­ist or that most Mus­lims are, we stand up to say no.

In Europe, the hes­i­tancy to say the words “rad­i­cal Islam” may largely be the prod­uct of intim­i­da­tion or the fear of vio­lent retal­i­a­tion. That is why the com­ments by French Prime Min­is­ter Manuel Valls before the French Par­lia­ment and in an inter­view with Jef­frey Gold­berg of the Atlantic are so important.

He pulled no punches and told it like it is. The enemy is rad­i­cal Islam. French soci­ety must stand up against the out­rage com­mit­ted by jihadists against France and against the Jews of France. The jihadist ide­ol­ogy surely does not rep­re­sent most Mus­lims and it is a hijack­ing of Islam, but the incite­ment to vio­lence and the acts of ter­ror are done in the name of Islam and influ­enced by teach­ers of fun­da­men­tal­ist Islam in schools and other insti­tu­tions through­out the Mus­lim world.

As Michael Walzer has writ­ten, it is not prej­u­dice but ratio­nal to fear Islamism, as opposed to Islam. When ele­ments within a reli­gious com­mu­nity pro­mote anti-democratic atti­tudes and anti-Semitism, and turn to ter­ror, anti-democratic atti­tudes, and anti-Semitism, it is not racist to oppose it forcefully.

There is noth­ing sim­ple about try­ing to fig­ure out how to defeat the rise of this rad­i­cal­ism within the Mus­lim world.  Social, eco­nomic and polit­i­cal forces within Mus­lim coun­tries and in rela­tions between the west and the Mus­lim world all con­tribute to it.

But what we know from past strug­gles against total­i­tar­ian move­ments, whether Nazism or Com­mu­nism, is that they require clear and prin­ci­pled think­ing to directly engage the danger.

That starts with say­ing that Islam and Mus­lims are not the enemy, they are part of the solu­tion.  We need to empha­size and acknowl­edge that there is prej­u­dice against Mus­lims because of recent events and to emphat­i­cally oppose it.

But we also must not hes­i­tate to point out that those who suf­fer the most from rad­i­cal Islam are Mus­lims them­selves. Just think of the recent news in Pak­istan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Nige­ria: Mus­lims being mur­dered, mosques being attacked by extrem­ist Muslims.

The basic mes­sage from polit­i­cal, reli­gious and civic lead­ers must be that all good peo­ple are in this strug­gle together. The Islamic extrem­ists are a threat to Mus­lims, a threat to Jews, a threat to civilization.

Just like the strug­gle against Nazism and Com­mu­nism were defeated by a col­lec­tive effort and by a set of clear ideas, this 21st cen­tury strug­gle can be won as well.

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January 15, 2014 2

Ariel Sharon in the Middle East Media: Reviled In Death As In Life

Just as for­mer Israeli Prime Min­is­ter Ariel Sharon was demo­nized in the Arab and Mus­lim media through­out his life, so it is fol­low­ing his death.  Fol­low­ing Sharon’s death on Jan­u­ary 11, news­pa­pers and web­sites across the Mid­dle East were flooded with arti­cles, opin­ion pieces and car­toons depict­ing him as a “killer,” “butcher,” “ter­ror­ist,” and “war criminal.”

In their look back at Sharon’s life, most opin­ion writ­ers have focused on what they con­sider to be his direct respon­si­bil­ity for the 1982 Sabra and Shatila mas­sacre in Lebanon. Oth­ers have accused him of being respon­si­ble for the US-led war in Iraq and for mas­ter­mind­ing an alleged assas­si­na­tion of Yasser Arafat.

Jihad Al-Khazin wrote in the London-based Al-Hayat, “….I hear he died and I hear that he is about to die, and I say ‘God, don’t send him back.’ He paid the price of his crimes on earth, and when he leaves he will be fire­wood for hell.”

Iron­i­cally, while the view from the street and the media is uni­formly neg­a­tive, many Arab lead­ers — qui­etly – are said to have had great respect for Sharon. While they may have dis­agreed with his poli­cies, many have said that they trusted his cred­i­bil­ity and viewed him as a leader who would always stand by his word.

Per­haps more than other Israeli leader, Sharon was vil­i­fied in the Arab media through­out his life. While op-eds fre­quently assigned to Sharon the worst human attrib­utes, it was through the more visual — and vis­ceral – edi­to­r­ial car­toons where the for­mer Prime Min­is­ter was por­trayed as a demonic fig­ure that was the embod­i­ment of human evil.

As high­lighted in ADL’s 2010 pub­li­ca­tion, Per­son­al­iz­ing the Con­flict: A Decade of Assault on Israel’s Pre­miers in the Arab Media, depic­tions of Sharon in car­toons included rivers of blood, images of the angel of death, var­i­ous mon­sters and ani­mals with demonic fea­tures, Nazi com­par­isons, and clas­si­cal anti-Semitic themes like alle­ga­tions of blood libels.

A favorite car­i­ca­ture of Sharon was of him eat­ing Pales­tin­ian chil­dren, drink­ing their blood and slaugh­ter­ing them.  Even fol­low­ing Sharon’s debil­i­tat­ing stroke in Jan­u­ary 2006, Arab news­pa­pers por­trayed him on his sick bed, intim­i­dat­ing the angel of death, who is afraid to take him.

After his death, the car­toons appear­ing in the Arab and Iran­ian media repeat these long-time images of Sharon as a devil, now eagerly awaited in hell.

 

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