Orientalism and Double Standards

on 158 Comments

Here’s yet another attack on Muslims for being too sensitive about seeing the Prophet Muhammed depicted or caricatured in the press, along with the usual indictment of the West for caving in and "self-censuring."

But when was the last time you saw the Pope, or Jesus, cartooned or ridiculed in a big newspaper or on a major TV program?  I remember back in the 1970s when Boston magazine published what it thought was a humorous article about the city’s cardinal, Humberto Medeiros.  The public uproar was tremendous, and the editor-in-chief lost his job.

Of course freedom of the press is a primary value.  But Western editors do have red lines, and they try not to pointlessly offend their publics.  Why do they think they can treat Muslims differently?

158 Responses

  1. James Bradley
    April 27, 2010, 2:52 pm

    I find it even more ridiculous that the media is making a big deal out of this event.

    Just because some obscure unheard of group on the internet posted a “warning” doesn’t mean anythings really going to happen or that its really even newsworthy.

    This is all on top of the fact that editors are pumping out articles like this just to piss off Muslims.

    It be one thing if they were trying to have some sort of constructive debate by offending Muslims, but they’re not – they’re just doing it to piss off Muslims and get a reaction from them.

  2. Avi
    April 27, 2010, 2:52 pm

    Why do they think they can treat Muslims differently?

    That may have been a rhetorical question, but I’m going to answer it.

    1. It’s part of the process of dehumanizing Muslims/Islam.

    2. Due to the lack of Muslim representation in high places, European and North American countries stand to lose very little due to their ill treatment of Muslims.

    • pabelmont
      April 27, 2010, 4:14 pm

      And — it’s FUN to mistreat someone. Can anyone doubt it? And people (not only militarist imperialist states) need someone to hate (and you mistreat people you hate) (and vice versa). There seems to be “permission” in US and EU to mistreat Muslims.

      Remember “Polish jokes”? Can’t tell “Polish jokes” any more. Can’t tell “Jewish jokes” anymore unless you are a Jew in Jewish company. We live in a repressive society w/o freedom to be mildly nasty (due to “political correctness”), BUT WAIT — YES YOU CAN! You can be nasty to Muslims. Society says so. That’s what we all seem to be saying.

      Or am I missing something?

      • Avi
        April 27, 2010, 5:32 pm

        Or am I missing something?

        While I can’t speak to the motives of a newspaper in Denmark, for example, I can certainly see how such hatred and abuse can become mainstream. All it takes is for authority figures, like presidents, ministers, celebrities or artists to repeat such sentiments over and over. In time they become legitimate forms of expression. Bush’s rhetoric during his eight years of power, coupled with the media’s feeding frenzy have facilitated the pervasiveness of that language and bigotry.

        I believe that Europe had its own internal demographic issues prior to 9/11, but the mass hysteria and the anti-Muslim sentiments that swept the world in the years after exacerbated those problems and brought them to the surface.

    • LanceThruster
      April 28, 2010, 6:01 pm

      Though western religions have had their periods of enlightenment, introspection, and evolution, there are still those elements that would gladly turn back the clock should they be able to regain control on a level they had previously. Again, the desire for theocratic control is there, it’s just not conceivable at this point. William Donahue of the Catholic League once spoke about some affront to Xianity (it might have been South Park’s bleeding virgin episode, but it was a post-“Piss Christ” era offense) and said the offender was lucky that Xians didn’t respond in the manner that Muslims have done in the past as the offender definitely deserved the most severe sanctions. You could tell he wanted to be able to wield that power, just that contemporary society would not allow it.

      That being said, as an atheist, I am used to being demonized by believers (both individuals, and their faith groups). As I feel that blasphemy is a victimless crime, adherents to a particular god-view should have convictions confident enough to leave any retribution to their god or gods and not rely on human proxies to carry out any punishment whatsoever (I would allow them to express their disapproval and the ways that their god/s might be upset, but only in the “you’ll be sorry when you die” manner and not doing anything to hasten such an end).

      I feel *all* claims of revealed knowledge are unsupportable, and claims of one set of such as being superior or more provable than another is just so much nonsense.

      However, no one group should be demonized above other (condemning actual actions notwithstanding). My take on the way it works is similar to the “comedy” of Borat. Everyone else’s sacred cows are fair game and open for mockery. However, that same satirical lens will not focus too close to home if at all, though equally worthy of ridicule.

  3. wondering jew
    April 27, 2010, 3:08 pm

    James North- Are you maintaining that “South Park” never ridicules Jesus?

    • Cliff
      April 27, 2010, 4:49 pm

      Christian culture is so pervasive and mainstream that attacking it is not in the same context obviously.

      Just think of Kevin MacDonald and his advocacy of ‘white interests’. What is the reaction to the notion of ‘white interests’? People in the mainstream don’t have a problem w/ a ‘Jewish’ State and maintaining Israel as a ‘Jewish’ State at the cost of the kind of democracy that exists in the US.

      So obviously these kinds of comparisons should be put in context. These ideals. Yea, it’s free speech and w/e to ridicule all religions, but that doesn’t mean it won’t offend people or within a particular context (the wars in the ME, the war ‘on Terror’, Guantanamo Bay, Israel-Palestine, etc.) give some the impression of hatred (and not equal opportunism).

      Isn’t that what Zionists like eee or yonira say? That people are criticizing Israel out of blind-one-dimensional-viral Jew-hatred?

      • wondering jew
        April 27, 2010, 5:07 pm

        Cliff- I will study your statement and try to figure out what you’re saying, and if it needs an answer I will try to answer it. But nonetheless James North made a statement-“But when was the last time you saw the Pope, or Jesus, cartooned or ridiculed in a big newspaper or on a major TV program?” If indeed he is maintaining that Jesus was not ridiculed on South Park, he ought to say so and then I can watch the reruns of it and cite every time that Jesus was so ridiculed. But in fact he made such a statement and has not come back to back it up, for it was a ridiculous assertion.

      • Cliff
        April 27, 2010, 5:55 pm

        Well we don’t have to talk about South Park. South Park is just an example of this kind of humor.

        My point was about putting the ridicule of Christianity on the same level as that of Islam.

        Like, you know the phrase, ‘laughing at you, not w/ you’ or something like that?

        I’m simply saying that when you consider the US is currently occupying to Arab Islamic or ‘Islamic’ (all ‘Arab Islamic’ [I’m not saying Afghans = Arabs] in the eyes of the average American IMO, although that’s just my impression of the zeitgeist), and is supporting a Jewish State which is continually occupying/colonizing land in the ‘Arab world’ with ‘Arabs’ being dispossessed and blah blah -> wouldn’t a joke about ‘their’ religion (again, zeitgeist, impressions, etc.) be seen as hate to them?

        I mean, and again I’m going on a tangent but I feel it’s related….Dave Chapelle left ‘The Chappelle Show’ because of feeling as though he was ridiculing Black identity and that corporate higher-ups were trying to commodify that particular take on Blackness. Like people were laughing ‘at’ him not ‘with’ him. I dunno.

        I think in France, there was some comedian who made fun of settlers and got into trouble w/ the Zionist community there. (He later shifted into more radical politics and beliefs too, this commedian).

        In Canada recently a childrens book about Palestine is getting blacklisted w/ the Israel lobby in that country mobilizing against it..

        This is about identity and censorship yea, and it’s complex. I don’t think you should simply equate things ‘functionally’.

      • Cliff
        April 27, 2010, 6:18 pm

        ‘Functionally’ – as in saying other religions get it too. That’s truthful, but superficial.

  4. Chu
    April 27, 2010, 3:10 pm

    I think Ross Douhat should do his homework. Revolution Muslim is run by a Joseph Cohen who lived in Israel and went to rabbinical school. Sounds kinda fishy…

    link to en.wikipedia.org

    “The group of 5-10 members devoted to Abdullah el-Faisal was run by Yousef al-Khattab, born Joseph Cohen, an American Jew who converted to Islam in 2000 after living in Israel and attending an orthodox rabbinical school there, then returned to New York”

    and Jon Stewart is proving yet again to be a bigger wanker yet with his response.
    Piece on Stewart yesterday:
    link to willyloman.wordpress.com
    “The more I learn about Jon Stewart, the more detestable he becomes. After years of exposing neocon propaganda, Jon Stewart is now reporting it as “news” to his liberal audience.”

  5. MHughes976
    April 27, 2010, 3:18 pm

    Some very undesirable opinions are widespread among Muslims: we shouldn’t deny that this is so or that it is very disturbing. Let’s denounce and resist these opinions and punish any criminal actions to which they may lead.
    Let us also resist the hideous injustice visited consistently and the death and humiliation visited daily upon certain Muslims by the West and by Israel. Let us do this urgently and not be misled by preposterous attempts at justification.
    Two wrongs don’t make a right. People don’t lose their human rights by having undesirable opinions or religions: otherwise there would be no right of free speech, the very right that is invoked by those who rail against Muslims so vigorously.
    As to satires on Christianity, I don’t know if there has been much reporting in the United States about a brainstorming session in our Foreign Office about ‘what events should the Pope participate in during his forthcoming state visit?’ One suggestion included that he should launch a brand of condoms named Benedicts and visit a gay centre, or something like that. This has led to official apologies in quite humble terms.

  6. Citizen
    April 27, 2010, 3:20 pm

    James North, obviously you have not been watching South Park or Family Guy, for example. How about the Daily Show? The HBO standup comedians? If you’re a Mormon, how about Big Love?

    Christianity, whatever it’s form, has been lampooned and satirized for ages on MSM cable entertainment shows. And from Hollywood too. This goes back to at least Archie Bunker and BBC shows aired here. Compare, e.g., Exodus, and all the sit-coms that play with Jewish American values and assimilation over the years–in every one of them, Jews come off golden. Personally, I think Christianity cannot be attacked enough–but, gee, are Christians and Muslims the only hypocrites in the world? You’d think so, if you watched US entertainment shows.

    • Citizen
      April 27, 2010, 3:34 pm

      Phil Maherand his show is the most honest and straight forward example of the extreme bias against Christians and Muslims. If a US show of infotainment dealt in the same manner to American Jews and Israel it could not get on the USA airwaves. In fact, the proof is in the pudding.

      • Citizen
        April 27, 2010, 3:35 pm

        This is just an observation from an American who has no religious affiliation.

      • Chu
        April 27, 2010, 3:49 pm

        Watch Religulous and see how Maher finds out he’s a half-Jewish prince during his teenage year, and he is a happy boyo after that. It’s as if he gains his kosher wings.
        But get a lot of drinks and watch with friends. Maher will challenge anyone who has beliefs, since he has none. or should I say he believes he’s a libertarian.

      • Citizen
        April 27, 2010, 3:57 pm

        Well, Chu, here’s a glimpse of the US entertainment history before Maher:
        link to jbooks.com

        We need a new totally honest satire sh0w, again named Bridget Love Bernie. Or not?

    • Julian
      April 27, 2010, 4:50 pm

      Give me examples where Jews come off “Golden”. it’s not Seinfeld. Jerry’s family are idiots. maybe it’s Friends? No Ross and his sister are a mess. Could it be the Larry David show? No again. All the Jews have numerous psychological problems. How about Entourage? Sorry, Ari Gold is a maniac. Where are your “golden’ Jews?
      You make it just too easy.

      • Shingo
        April 27, 2010, 5:00 pm

        “it’s not Seinfeld. Jerry’s family are idiots. maybe it’s Friends?”

        Perhaps you might want to ask the Jewish writers for those shows?

        Of course, you ignored motion pictures where Jews are cannonized. Sophie’s choice was not about a Latina was it? What about Shindler’s List, Exodus, Holocaust, the Ten Commandments? You can’t get any more Golden than that.

        You make it just too easy.

      • Avi
        April 27, 2010, 5:23 pm

        Every year or so there’s a new movie out about, or related to, the Holocaust. The themes have been exhausted; there were movies like the Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Freedom Writers, The Counterfeiters…..

        Every movie explores a different angle as related to the Holocaust. There’s a guy who plays the piano, the girl who grows up in an orphanage and so on. The themes are endless.

        Now compare that with all other events that took place in the 20th century like the bombing of two Japanese cities, the massacres in Vietnam, the extermination of Poles, Ukrainians, Gypsies and Homosexuals and one starts seeing the overemphasis on the Holocaust as an exclusive event that is part of Jewish identity. One gets the sense that there is perpetual victimhood.

      • Citizen
        April 28, 2010, 6:27 am

        Being portrayed as neurotic with an occasional quick reference to being Jewish is not the same as being clearly and consistently portrayed as an ethnic/white bigot, a redneck dummy, or
        religious nut case. As for Larry David Show, the HBO audence is tiny compared to former network shows like Seinfeld and Friends.

  7. potsherd
    April 27, 2010, 3:48 pm

    I see the Pope ridiculed a lot these days, with the pedophile scandal in the news.

  8. Citizen
    April 27, 2010, 4:00 pm

    Yeah, postsherd, the Pope is nothing more than a cartoon character from South Park or Family Guy. That’s good. How about somebody like the Israeli PM? Can’t we even get him on with Shake, meatwad, and Fries? I guess not. No goys with balls.

    • demize
      April 27, 2010, 6:05 pm

      Sir, that be Frylock. I am dogmatic when it comes to ATHF.

      • Citizen
        April 28, 2010, 6:30 am

        Demize, sorry. U B right. I shoulda led with a capital letter for little Meatwad, too. How do you like their neighbor?

      • demize
        April 28, 2010, 12:11 pm

        Carl is is well, Carl an enigma wrapped inside a riddle etc…

      • demize
        April 28, 2010, 12:22 pm

        Wrapped in a wifebeater. That’s what I was trying to say Citizen.

    • yonira
      April 27, 2010, 6:28 pm

      Do you think Bibi or Lieberman the Tool would get laughs on South Park? I mean seriously, the Simpsons didn’t touch the conflict because its not funny, nor will SP.

      • Citizen
        April 28, 2010, 6:34 am

        SP did touch on Saddam–was that not a serious conflict? Bibi and Lieberman constantly say (darkly) funny things–they just don’t realize it–easy humor there if somebody was brave–and could afford to lose their career.

  9. olive
    April 27, 2010, 4:13 pm

    I will be convinced that this is about free speech when the, ehem, “artists,” at Comedy Central start lampooning the Holocaust. Of course, this will not happen since offending establishment positions on the Holocaust can get you fired in th US and a prison sentence in Europe. Here is a small taste of these delicious double standards:

    link to youtube.com

    Glen Greenwald also has a good article on this South Park controversy, by the way.

    P.S Please don’t start with the argument “but south park makes fun of Judiasm and Christianity.” The point is not about religion, per say. Its about attacking peoples identity. Most Jews are very secular, so they don’t care all that much if you make fun of Moses (upon him be peace). However, most Jews DO care about the Holocaust, since they consider and attack on the Holocaust an attack on their identity.

    • Chu
      April 27, 2010, 4:25 pm

      It’s great to see this tv host speak from both sides of his mouth, and get called on it.

      • Avi
        April 27, 2010, 5:08 pm

        This has become all too common. That’s a good video clip to illustrate that trend. If Islam is in the crosshairs, then freedom of speech is invoked to justify such attacks, but dare do the same with Judaism, for example, and you become an anti-Semite, are pressured to apologize and on and on and on.

        Do you remember the Hate in Jerusalem videos produced by Max Blumenthal?

        Do you remember how apologists for the hate spewed in those videos brushed them off as drunken teens on holiday?

        Now, compare that with Mel Gibson’s drunken remarks and we start seeing a glaring double standard.

      • Avi
        April 27, 2010, 5:12 pm

        Now, compare that with Mel Gibson’s drunken remarks and we start seeing a glaring double standard.

        I should say: Now, compare that with the response to Mel Gibson’s….

      • Chu
        April 27, 2010, 6:22 pm

        I remember all of these instances well.

        More sickening was how one of the apologists, (i.e. Whoopi Goldberg) could defend Roman Polanski of rape. Very poor display of hypocrisy for her and her crew. And of course, someone had to say his parents were in the Holocaust, and oh did the violins play.

        This one is too funny not to post:
        link to tabletmag.com
        Movie review critic finds his eventually finds his strength in the newsroom with his colleagues. Don’t hurt me Mel!

    • yonira
      April 27, 2010, 6:24 pm

      Olive, you should get out more. here is your proof. So can we start mocking the Prophet now? (peace be upon him)

      link to jwablog.jwa.org

      How about the latest Jew Joke (which made my laugh) by our National Security Advisor?

      link to rightsidenews.com

      Why no outrage on Mondoweiss for that?

      • olive
        April 27, 2010, 7:03 pm

        Yonira, perhaps you should pay a bit more attention to the content of your link:

        “Later, she wrote that she was “sick of being misunderstood” and explained, “Hitler thought he was being really manly ‘cleaning Germany up’ by burning people in ovens. I WAS MAKING FUN OF HIM, NOT HIS VICTIMS.” (caps mine)

        Yonira, I hope you understand that there is a difference between JEWS making fun of Nazis and Gentiles making fun of Holocaust survivors and victims. The former happens all the time. The latter, however, is taboo with a capital “T.”

  10. hughsansom
    April 27, 2010, 4:32 pm

    Here are at least a few examples of the welcoming attitude Americans have towards ‘alternative’ treatments of Christ, Christianity, Judaism, etc.

    1. The Last Temptation of Christ, film by Martin Scorsese. Protests across the Christian world. Terrorist attacks on at least one theater in France. Blanket banning of the film in several countries. And so on.

    2. Sensation Show at Brooklyn Museum, 1999. Included Christ Ofili’s “The Holy Virgin Mary,” which depicted the Virgin Mary as African and used close-ups of vaginas and elephant dung. New York Mayor Rudolf Giuliani threatened to close the museum and referred to the work as “degenerate art” (an expression popular among the Nazis).

    3. Piss Christ. 1987 photograph by Andres Serrano. US Senators Al D’Amato and Jesse Helms condemned the work, threatened the National Endowment for the Arts. The work was physically attacked in a show at the National Gallery of Victoria in Australia.

    4. Snow White and The Madness of Truth, by Dror Feiler, 2004. Ariel Sharon praised Zvi Mazel, Israeli ambassador to Sweden, after Mazel physically attacked a work of art at the Stockholm Museum of National Antiquities.

    5. Alan Dershowitz and many others have routinely characterized as anti-Semitic political cartoons representing Israeli atrocities. In 2003, Israeli formally condemned as anti-Semitic a cartoon, running in Britain, that showed Ariel Sharon devouring a Palestinian baby (ala Goya’ Saturn Devouring His Son) with the caption “What’s wrong, haven’t you seen a politician kissing babies before”.

    • hughsansom
      April 27, 2010, 6:11 pm

      One of the earliest examples of America’s tolerance of ridicule and criticism directed at Christianity? Thomas Paine, thorough champion of democracy, the rights of all and hardcore critic of Christianity, was excoriated by those who once welcomed him. He died alone and in poverty.

    • yonira
      April 27, 2010, 6:25 pm

      The Last Temptation of Christ was a pretty amazing movie.

  11. braciole
    April 27, 2010, 5:13 pm

    Just now and then you come across a cartoon that grossly ridicules the Catholic Church.

  12. braciole
    April 27, 2010, 5:25 pm

    Just to be fair, I should mention the “banning” of a play called Corpus Christi in Texas in the last few days.

  13. demize
    April 27, 2010, 5:57 pm

    What fascinates me are the number of clueless individuals who have suddenly become experts on Islamic Theology. I have argued this very issue on other for a and have been stymied by some of the aurgumentation. I replied to someone re. The Douthat Op Ed that Southpark has yet to tackle the taboo of Zionism. Now maybe this is too technical a subject for a cartoon to deal with. However the response was well they make fun of Jews etc.

    • yonira
      April 27, 2010, 6:17 pm

      When searching for an episode of Zionism or Israel in South Park (I am surprised there hasn’t been one yet, it would be funny as hell I am sure, and i might actually watch it) I came across this explanation.

      link to erichufschmid.net

      • Chaos4700
        April 27, 2010, 10:05 pm

        Just how many hours of your day are spent looking up conspiracy websites, yonira? Still working off those frustrations from not finding WMDs in Iraq?

  14. thankgodimatheist
    April 27, 2010, 7:06 pm

    Some light on this group called “Revolution Islam”:
    “Revolution Muslim” Looks Like a CIA Operation:A New Breed of Mockingbird
    link to willyloman.wordpress.com

    The “Radical” Muslim Group That Threatened South Park Creators Was Founded and Run by Joseph Cohen, a Former Israeli Radical Who Used to Live in a Settlement in the West Bank
    link to willyloman.wordpress.com

    • thankgodimatheist
      April 27, 2010, 7:07 pm

      Jon Stewart, go fuck yourself. You’re a propaganda spewing puppet and you’re no better than Glenn Beck.

      2001 South Park Episode “Super Best Friends”

      South Park ran an unedited image of Muhammad in 2001 in an episode called “Super Best Friends“… and nothing happened.

      In fact, the episode had been on the South Park website for viewing at any time for the past few years (they just removed it)… and nothing happened.

      For 4 seasons they had that image in their opening segment for every single show… and nothing happened.

      So for years on end no Muslim group, “radical” or otherwise, has threatened Matt and Trey or Comedy Central about the image of Muhammad that has been available for all to see every single day.

      All of a sudden last week a group called “Revolution Muslim” threatened violence against Comedy Central if they aired an image of Muhammad which forced Comedy Central to censor the show and now you have even liberals talking about those “radical Muslims” and their threats of violence. Karl Rove couldn’t have done it any better.

      Problem is, Revolution Muslim was started and run by a “converted” Israeli settler who studied at an orthodox rabbinical school in Israel before becoming a settler in the occupied territories.

      You don’t think a orthadox Israeli settler would have any desire to see progressive Americans start to hate “radical Muslims” do you? You think “Revolution Muslim” helps or hurts the Israeli PR campaign after Operation Cast Lead and the Goldstone Report?
      link to willyloman.wordpress.com

      • thankgodimatheist
        April 27, 2010, 7:09 pm

        Ooops..The above is ALL a quote from the article..

      • yonira
        April 27, 2010, 10:41 pm

        wow, a CIA ‘false flag’ operation.

      • Chaos4700
        April 27, 2010, 10:50 pm

        Find those WMDs in Iraq yet, yonira? Just checking.

      • thankgodimatheist
        April 28, 2010, 1:31 am

        wow, a CIA ‘false flag’ operation.
        Would that surprise you yonira? Did you check the article? The founder of this “outraged” group was a West Bank settler and now he’s very very upset about the depiction of Mohammed in South Park? My! I’ve seen more credible news on Flat Earth Society blog!

      • Chu
        April 28, 2010, 7:16 am

        Stewart is a Joker. I don’t expect him to have any integrity, although he became the ‘good’ reporter after his stunt on crossfire in 2004.

        He’s another shill, and I can’t say I’m surprised. His man Colbert stole his wind, being generally more humorous, and now JohnBoy is stuck in the doldrums – pressured to peddle propaganda.

      • Citizen
        April 28, 2010, 9:00 am

        Chu, it is fun to see that Colbert is so much ahead of John. Colbert is so much more universal. John is stuck in the usual hypocritical rut–I guess that’s his birthright.

      • Chu
        April 28, 2010, 10:14 am

        John will be gone in two+ more years. He will go with the election cycle as many do. And his acting skills are too poor for Hollywood. It’s possible He’ll take five years off and think about political office. It’s what he has been wanting to do for so long anyway, and with Franken as his model example, why the hell not?

  15. Judy
    April 27, 2010, 7:29 pm

    Is there any freedom American “liberals” prize more than the freedom to be an asshole?

  16. wondering jew
    April 27, 2010, 7:38 pm

    How many people were killed for Salman Rushdie’s book? How many people died as a result of the Danish cartoons? Why was Theo van Gogh killed?

    Personally I think the Koran is an important book (that created a truly monotheistic religion, which because of my prejudice I consider a major improvement over polytheism) . It is an important book that happens to include a bit of evil mixed in. I think that those that kill people because of “blasphemy” are evil people. I think the New Testament and the Tanach have had long histories of being held up to questioning and ridicule and the Koran is rather new at it. I think that Muslims who choose to move into Western societies are in for shock therapy when it comes to the lack of sensitivity to holy books.

    • olive
      April 27, 2010, 7:55 pm

      What an inspiring speech, WJ.

      So when can we expect to see Jews who choose to move into Western societies prepare for shock therapy when it comes to the lack of sensitivity to the Holocaust?

      • wondering jew
        April 27, 2010, 8:04 pm

        olive- how many people have been killed because of insensitivity to the holocaust?

      • wondering jew
        April 27, 2010, 8:05 pm

        olive- how many people have received death threats because of insensitivity to the holocaust? you are comparing apples and orange.

      • olive
        April 27, 2010, 8:14 pm

        “olive- how many people have been killed because of insensitivity to the holocaust?olive- how many people have received death threats because of insensitivity to the holocaust? you are comparing apples and orange. ”

        Well, I can tell you about 15, count it, 15 people who have been fined and imprisoned for “Holocaust denial”. Some of these poor souls had to rot in prison for a long six and a half years because of offending the feelings of Jews.

        You see, Jews don’t need to kill people who deny the Holocaust when they can have European governments to imprison people who dare to talk about it in a way that offends them.

      • wondering jew
        April 27, 2010, 9:09 pm

        Olive- In the United States there is no law against Holocaust denial and has there been anyone killed for their Holocaust denial? Has there been anyone threatened that he would be killed for Holocaust denial? You are comparing apples and oranges.

      • Sumud
        April 27, 2010, 9:19 pm

        olive – prosecutions for holocaust denial:

        link to en.wikipedia.org

      • Chaos4700
        April 27, 2010, 10:01 pm

        Has there been anyone threatened that he would be killed for Holocaust denial?

        Besides Ahmedinejad, and the Iranian people generally?

      • Sumud
        April 27, 2010, 10:55 pm

        WJ – I think arson, pipe and parcel bombs count as a threat.

        link to en.wikipedia.org

      • wondering jew
        April 28, 2010, 2:06 am

        I stand corrected. That certainly counts as a threat.

    • James North
      April 27, 2010, 8:22 pm

      WJ: An interesting question. Correct me if I’m wrong, but don’t the Israeli settlers/colonists in the Occupied Territories use the Bible to justify their actions? How many people have died there as a consequence of these beliefs? Didn’t Dr. Baruch Goldstein use the Bible to justify murdering more people in Palestine — 29 wasn’t it? — than the victims of the Rushdie book plus van Gogh?

      • wondering jew
        April 27, 2010, 8:26 pm

        James North- You owe me an answer to the question of your statement in your original post that said that no programs have made fun of Jesus. Have you retracted that statement. Have you asked the editor of this blog to retract that statement in the text of the original post?

      • wondering jew
        April 27, 2010, 8:42 pm

        James North- The battle between Zionism/Zionists and the Palestinians has religious dimensions, but it is essentially a battle over territory. The fact that Israel allowed/allows the settlers to be present in the West Bank is for territorial reasons. Whatever motivations the settlers or Baruch Goldstein had/have for their acts of violence it is essentially the fault of the Israeli government for allowing the settlers to be present in occupied territory and to place the blame on the settlers or Baruch Goldstein is misplaced and confuses what should be clear, rather than clarifying the misty.

        The battle regarding newspapers and airwaves and sensibilities is a different question. Maybe one can see it as the attempt of Muslims to impose their viewpoint on Europe and in effect it is also a battle over territory. Those who use the term Eurabia would probably agree with you if that is your point.

        If one wishes to blur all boundaries between issues of territory, warfare, terrorism and religion, then we can tally up the killed and the wounded and proceed accordingly. I think it is useful to attempt to separate various issues, especially those that you raised in your original post, the question of sensitivity to items and cartoons published in newspapers and on television.

      • Sumud
        April 28, 2010, 12:58 am

        WJ – yes, a battle over territory, and for the settlers they want to hold onto the land because they believe god gave it to them. Perhaps the Israeli Gov wants the land for more practical purposes (eg water) but the motivation of the settlers – the committed Eretz Israel settlers – is clearly religious.

      • wondering jew
        April 28, 2010, 1:17 am

        Sumud- I am not denying that there are religious aspects to the struggle, nor that the settlers operate based upon religious motivations. Recently I saw a MEMRI translation of a Kuwaiti pep rally for Hamas, in which the speaker said, “This is not a struggle for territory. This is a struggle for Islam.” (not an exact quote, but rather a paraphrase.)

        But I think James North raising the topic of the crimes/sins/motivations of the settlers in the context of the struggle over a free press and threats to a free press were not attempts to clarify anything, but rather attempts to obfuscate, confuse and muddy the waters.

        I think James North’s original post was dishonest and his answer to me was dishonest as well. When what we commentators do is comment, I consider dishonesty to be a real sin, whereas the other sin of rudeness is more painful to take, but in fact a lesser sin.

      • Sumud
        April 28, 2010, 4:10 am

        Well really! I think you’re being overdramatic when you call it a “struggle over a free press and threats to a free press”. It’s South Park – being provocative and offensive is their thing. Elsewhere on this thread yonira writes about being unable to find an episode where they lampoon the holocaust, which brings us back to olive’s point, that’s it’s OK to wind up the muslims but don’t go near the holocaust, not even in a serious academic sense – it’s a crime. The EU working definition of antisemitism – which is clearly political in intent – states it is anti-semitic to compare Nazi and Israel policy. To me, that’s a serious free-speech issue – not some TV show trying to boost ratings.

      • wondering jew
        April 28, 2010, 4:17 am

        Sumud- 38 people were killed as a result of the Salman Rushdie fatwa. According to the new york times 200 people died as a result of riots surrounding the issue of the danish cartoon. Theo van Gogh was murdered because he helped a female make a movie which was said to malign Islam. South Park is a tip of the iceberg. I am against the criminalizing of Holocaust denial and I do not accept the EU’s working definition of antisemitism, a phrase that I try to avoid because it is confusing.

      • Sumud
        April 28, 2010, 5:28 am

        WJ you’re making a mountain out of a molehill.

        In the first two instances – the Rushdie fatwa and cartoon riots – people in India and Pakistan mostly because police fired at protestors during riots – which happens all too regularly at protests throughout the world. Theo van Gogh was an unreasonable man murdered by another unreasonable man. Afterwards I didn’t hear a whole lot of praise from the world’s 1.5 billion muslims, did you?

        As others have pointed in the comments: all religions have their sacred cows and their overzealous defenders.

      • wondering jew
        April 28, 2010, 5:33 am

        The Rushdie fatwa deaths were primarily in Turkey and had nothing to do with police firing at protesters.

    • thankgodimatheist
      April 28, 2010, 1:41 am

      How many people were killed for Salman Rushdie’s book?
      Pray tell, how many? The only victim I’m aware of is a Lebanese who was preparing an operation. He killed no one but himself. If you have more information, I’m listening.

      • wondering jew
        April 28, 2010, 2:02 am

        read wikipedia on this and you will have a more complete view of the violence accomplished by those who listened to the fatwa by that rascal Khomeini: here’s some:
        Assassinations and attempted assassinations (with collateral damage)
        Hitoshi Igarashi, the Japanese translator of the book The Satanic Verses, was stabbed to death on July 11, 1991. Two other translators of the book survived attempted assassinations.

        Ettore Capriolo, the Italian language translator, was seriously injured in a stabbing the same month as his Japanese counterpart.

        Aziz Nesin, the Turkish language translator, was the intended target in the events that led to the Sivas massacre in July 1993, which resulted in the deaths of 37 people.

        William Nygaard, the publisher in Norway, barely survived an attempted assassination in Oslo in October 1993

        Bombings of book stores included two in Berkeley California. In New York, the office of the community newspaper The Riverdale Press was all but destroyed by firebombs in retaliation for an editorial defending the right to read the novel and criticizing the bookstores that pulled it from their shelves.[24] But the United Kingdom was the country where violence against bookstores occurred most often and persisted the longest. Two large bookstores in Charing Cross Road, London,(Collets and Dillons) were bombed on April 9. In May, explosions went off in the town of High Wycombe and again in London, on Kings Road. Other bombings include one at a large London department store (Liberty’s), in connection with the Penguin Bookshop inside the store, and at the Penguin store in York. Unexploded devices were found at Penguin stores in Guildford, Nottingham, and Peterborough.

      • thankgodimatheist
        April 28, 2010, 3:45 am

        I asked, you in good faith, how many deaths? You cited only one! Attempted assassinations are not assassinations. I know you like like to be extremely accurate, something I gathered from a previous conversation.
        The final answer to your question( How many people were killed for Salman Rushdie’s book?) is….ONE!

      • wondering jew
        April 28, 2010, 3:51 am

        I am sorry for giving you too much information. That should be the worst thing that I am guilty of. I will now look up the attempted assassination that resulted in 33 dead and see if that qualifies or not.

      • wondering jew
        April 28, 2010, 4:01 am

        TGIA- I believe these 37 deaths should also count in the deaths that the Salman Rushdie affair entailed, although maybe there was an element of hatred of Alevi Muslims that was also involved:

        The attack took place not long after traditional Friday prayers, when the mob broke through police barricades to surround the Otel Madımak, where artists, writers and musicians had gathered to celebrate 16th century Alevi poet Pir Sultan Abdal. Reportedly angered by the presence of Aziz Nesin, a writer who had translated and published extracts from Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, the enraged fundamentalists surrounded the hotel, shouting “Death to the infidel!” and threatening the assembled artists with lynching. The hotel was set alight, and the fire claimed 37 lives, including those of musicians, poets, tourists and hotel staff, while assembled police did nothing to intervene.

        37 deaths and the one from before equals a total of 38. The answer is 38.

  17. wondering jew
    April 27, 2010, 8:06 pm

    olive- dead people and holy books are two different categories. and if you can’t tell the difference…

    • olive
      April 27, 2010, 8:16 pm

      “olive- dead people and holy books are two different categories. and if you can’t tell the difference…”

      The common denominator here is that an attack on the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) is an attack on Muslim identity. Likewise, many Jews see a questioning of the Holocaust, or even some parts of the Holocaust, as an attack on Jewish identity.

      I hope that clears things up for you.

      • wondering jew
        April 27, 2010, 8:55 pm

        When I see a cartoon of Hitler in bed with Anne Frank (a cartoon that I believe won a prize in an Iranian contest for the best or most hilarious Holocaust cartoon), I am offended. I “identify” with Anne Frank. Many people, Jewish and nonJewish identify with Anne Frank and I’m sure that most people would view the cartoon as distasteful. It doesn’t offend me as a Jew, it offends me as a human being. (Or I should say it doesn’t offend me primarily as a Jew.)

        A cartoon depicting Muhammad as a terrorist is not distasteful in the same way. It infers that the acts of the terrorists are not acts by the misguided but by those who in fact have found the true essence of the Koran by committing terrorist acts. One can be offended by this for any number of reasons, but I suspect that the major ones are two: 1. the prohibition against depicting Mohammed and 2. the inference regarding the essence of Mohammed. I think that these are not inherently offensive to humans as humans, but offensive to Muslims as Muslims.

        I hope this clarifies the difference to you.

      • Chaos4700
        April 27, 2010, 10:24 pm

        So now WJ is pulling the “Muslims don’t think like the rest of us” canard.

        Every time I start to maybe respect you, reluctantly, at the urging of other people on this blog… you disappoint me.

      • olive
        April 27, 2010, 10:31 pm

        Yes, i particularly liked the way he tried to claim that making fun of Jews is repugnant to all human beings whereas attacking Islam should only cause offence to Muslims.

        Because, you know, Muslims are not human………

      • Chaos4700
        April 27, 2010, 10:35 pm

        yonira’s at it too, elsewhere on the thread.

        I continue to classify rational, liberal Zionists in the same category in which I place unicorns, dragons and Democratic politicians with spines.

      • Chu
        April 27, 2010, 11:30 pm

        …the same here. Is WJ’s feeling’s hurt and he is offended by the Anne Frank cartoon, but the Muhammad cartoon as a terrorist is not as distasteful and can be reasoned? boy-o-boy…
        more insensitivity from the ‘wonderer’.

      • wondering jew
        April 27, 2010, 11:35 pm

        Chaos- I never respected you (insofar as your participation on this blog), so there is nothing you can lose by saying whatever you want. But perchance other people read this blog and are persuaded by your pithy statements, I would like to clarify.

        Religious people think differently than nonreligious people, they treat certain books as God given and certain people as above criticism. Muslims think exactly like the rest of us, if by Muslims you mean religious Muslims and by “us” you mean religious Christians and Jews. (I suppose there are Muslims who take their religion with a grain of salt and Christians and Jews who take their religions with a grain of salt and are not so easily offended. But for now, let us assume that religious people are on a salt free diet.)

        What olive is doing is equating those who feel offended by Holocaust denial or Holocaust humor and those who are offended by Mohammed humor.

        There is a category of humor known as dead baby jokes. Example: What is the difference between a truckload of dead babies and a truckload of bowling balls? Answer: You can’t use a pitchfork to unload the truckload of bowling balls. Everyone with an ounce of sensitivity reacts to this “joke” with a grimace. There is nothing religious or ethnic about it. What if we changed this to What is the difference between a truckload of dead Jews killed by Zyklon B and a truckload of bowling balls? Everyone would again grimace and this would be a human reaction rather than a Jewish reaction, although the joke would not have gained anything by giving the dead people a specific ethnic identity.

        Anne Frank was a human being killed for the crime of being Jewish. When her father found her diary he emphasized her universalism rather than her particularism. That’s why he chose specific screenwriters to adapt her diary for the screen. I think to state that people identify with Anne Frank because of her humanity rather than because she is Jewish I am stating the obvious. Now if someone draws a picture of Anne wearing a Palestinian flag and is offended by this, then indeed the offense is political rather than human. But if someone draws Anne in bed with Adolph, the offense is human rather than ethnic.

        If my point is unclear to anyone beside olive and Chaos, I will try to clarify it further.

      • Sumud
        April 28, 2010, 1:09 am

        It’s not a matter of your point being unclear it’s just not convincing.

      • wondering jew
        April 28, 2010, 1:20 am

        Sumud- If I crack a joke about dead Rwandans or dead Armenians, do you think that only Rwandans and Armenians should be offended? Shouldn’t everyone be offended? Do you disagree with that?

      • wondering jew
        April 28, 2010, 1:21 am

        Sumud- Are you a believing Muslim?

      • sherbrsi
        April 28, 2010, 1:34 am

        in fact have found the true essence of the Koran by committing terrorist acts.

        Nice, WJ.

        So the true essence of the Koran is committing terrorist acts, and the only reprehensible element of the image is that it depicted that “essence of Muhammad.”

        Nope, there is no dehumanizing in slandering Muslims worldwide as terrorists at all…the only reason why they should be offended is because of their narrow-minded religious views.

        You did not clarify anything except your own hatred, ignorance and generalizing which smears over a billion people of being religiously motivated by hatred and violence, and then claiming that the only reason why they could ever be offended would be due to political or religious reasons.

      • wondering jew
        April 28, 2010, 1:51 am

        sherbrsi- I was not stating that as my own belief, but as the implication of the cartoon. My belief regarding the Koran is that it is a generally favorable book because it influenced many to adopt monotheism, but that it contains elements of evil, because it does encourage violence towards pagans. I’m sorry if you misunderstood that I was trying to explain what the essence of the offensive cartoon was.

      • sherbrsi
        April 28, 2010, 2:00 am

        I was not stating that as my own belief, but as the implication of the cartoon.

        Incorrect, Wondering Jew.

        You state that it is a fact that true essence of the Koran by committing terrorist acts.

        The image was just that, an image, and in your interpretation you made your bias and hatred absolutely clear, that the image showed the “true” terrorist essence of the Koran, and that Muslims operating under the beliefs of that text would only be offended due to such an implication, and not their collective profiling as terrorists.

        Are you really going to try and defend yourself with the cover of the misunderstood victim now?

      • wondering jew
        April 28, 2010, 2:04 am

        Zie gesundt und shtark chor tachat.

      • sherbrsi
        April 28, 2010, 2:17 am

        I think that these are not inherently offensive to humans as humans, but offensive to Muslims as Muslims.

        Yes, because you know that being human and Muslim are mutually exclusive things.

      • wondering jew
        April 28, 2010, 2:19 am

        und tzveitem mahl, zie gesundt undt shtark, chor tachat

      • sherbrsi
        April 28, 2010, 2:24 am

        wondering jew,

        Do you have a habit of conversing with yourself?

      • Sumud
        April 28, 2010, 2:36 am

        “Sumud- Are you a believing Muslim?”

        Why do you ask?

      • wondering jew
        April 28, 2010, 2:58 am

        A discussion of the issue of blasphemy and what offends whom would be easier if we establish what belief system each of us is operating from?

      • wondering jew
        April 28, 2010, 3:02 am

        sherbrsi- you have made it clear that a dialogue with you at this time is impossible, therefore a monologue is preferable.

      • sherbrsi
        April 28, 2010, 3:12 am

        you have made it clear that a dialogue with you at this time is impossible

        I expressed my views on your post, writing on each and every point I had issue with. And you responded by addressing none of those issues, simply saying that I was misunderstood besides and voicing your general views on the Koran (which answer none of the projections you made in the original post).

        Seems to me that you really are engaging in playing the victim and avoiding dialogue. Even so if you prefer monologue instead of active discussion, then I really was misunderstood in even replying to you in the first place.

        I will leave you to yourself.

      • wondering jew
        April 28, 2010, 3:31 am

        sherbrsi- you are easily pleased with yourself.

      • thankgodimatheist
        April 28, 2010, 3:57 am

        My belief regarding the Koran is that it is a generally favorable book because it influenced many to adopt monotheism, but that it contains elements of evil, because it does encourage violence towards pagans.
        Why would you want to go there since it’s a well documented fact that violence in the Bible (both testaments) far exceeds the violence in the Qura’n?

      • thankgodimatheist
        April 28, 2010, 4:02 am

        BTW, monotheism is largely overrated. If anything it’s a reflection of a certain jealously of other gods. Hardly saintly or something that justifies the horrendous accounts of murder, slaughter and genocides in the name of an “exclusive” god..

      • wondering jew
        April 28, 2010, 4:12 am

        I will go wherever I choose to go. Unlike the Koran which is one book, the old testament, also known as the Hebrew Bible or Tanach, consists of 24 books, if one counts the minor prophets (aka the 12) as one. In my opinion, just as literature, the Hebrew Bible is far superior to the Koran, but I may be prejudiced. The types of wars advocated in certain books (Deuteronomy and Joshua and Numbers) are worse than anything advocated by the Koran. I would say that the Hebrew Bible is the greatest collection of books, including Shakespeare, ever compiled. I would say that the laws of the Torah include the great, the mediocre and the evil. The greatest stories in Tanach are in Genesis, Exodus, and Samuel. The greatest poetry in Tanach is in Psalms. The loftiest morals in Tanach besides “Love thy neighbor as thyself” are in Isaiah and Amos. I have a particularly soft spot for the prophet Jeremiah. The greatest book of wisdom in Tanach is Ecclesiastes, but the Hebrew word Kohelet, is easier to spell. If the laws of the Torah would be applied it would create a terribly retrograde society. If all the Tanachs in the world and on memory disks would be burnt and deleted, it would pay to try to recreate the works from the humans who know the books as close to by heart as possible, for it would be a terrible loss to humanity. The Koran is a mediocre piece of literature compared to the incomparable richness of the Tanach, but indeed if the Koran would be applied and the Torah would be applied as law, the Koran would be less evil.

      • thankgodimatheist
        April 28, 2010, 4:15 am

        Which book is more violent?

        Dark passages
        By Philip Jenkins/Boston Globe
        “But in terms of ordering violence and bloodshed, any simplistic claim about the superiority of the Bible to the Koran would be wildly wrong. In fact, the Bible overflows with “texts of terror,” to borrow a phrase coined by the American theologian Phyllis Trible. The Bible contains far more verses praising or urging bloodshed than does the Koran, and biblical violence is often far more extreme, and marked by more indiscriminate savagery. The Koran often urges believers to fight, yet it also commands that enemies be shown mercy when they surrender. Some frightful portions of the Bible, by contrast, go much further in ordering the total extermination of enemies, of whole families and races – of men, women, and children, and even their livestock, with no quarter granted. One cherished psalm (137) begins with the lovely line, “By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept”; it ends by blessing anyone who would seize Babylon’s infants and smash their skulls against the rocks.
        link to boston.com

      • wondering jew
        April 28, 2010, 4:20 am

        Atheists should value monotheism because one is much closer to zero than many. But I agree the laws involved with monotheism lead to violence and evil.

      • thankgodimatheist
        April 28, 2010, 4:21 am

        but indeed if the Koran would be applied and the Torah would be applied as law, the Koran would be less evil.
        I started to doubt you being on topic talking about the comparative LITERARY merits of the two books but I’m pleased you got your conclusion right.

      • thankgodimatheist
        April 28, 2010, 4:28 am

        Atheists should value monotheism because one is much closer to zero than many.
        Are you serious?

      • wondering jew
        April 28, 2010, 4:30 am

        Certainly the Jewish religion (in terms of applying the Torah law) threatens anyone living in Israel and the occupied territory. But the Islamic religion (in terms of applying Koran law) threatens anyone living in a much larger portion of the land mass of this planet, n’est pas?

      • wondering jew
        April 28, 2010, 4:35 am

        On a sheer numbers basis I am not that serious, but I do believe that monotheism was part of the development of the global orientation of the human race and was an inevitable development of human consciousness. I also believe that atheism was an inevitable development of human consciousness. Personally I think that a moderate anti dogmatic theism or deism is on a higher level than atheism, but I do not think that the western world could have developed its thinking without passing through a period of monotheistic thought.

      • thankgodimatheist
        April 28, 2010, 4:40 am

        I do not have shares in either religion but for the time being, in the context of Palestine/Israel,( our subject and area of interest here) I see those who are using the bible to steal, dispossess and kill as far more problematic and dangerous..

      • Sumud
        April 28, 2010, 4:44 am

        ” would be easier if we establish what belief system each of us is operating from?”

        I can’t agree but since you asked I’m an atheist of anglo/christian heritage.

        To your argument that the cartoons should be of concern to muslims only – I do no agree. To depict the Mohammed in that way – turbin as bomb, was clearly an attempt to stir up trouble. Context: 2 American wars in the middle east, resistance of any sort characterised as terrorism, and a vicious long-term campaign to vilify islam. I found and continue to find that campaign deeply offensive as a *human*.

        Aside from that, even as an atheist with no time for religion, it’s not hard to show a little respect. There are prescriptions in the koran not to make images of the prophet, muslims take it seriously, surely we can be reasonable respect that? If there are boundaries to be pushed it should be left to those inside Islam.

      • wondering jew
        April 28, 2010, 4:57 am

        Sumud- I am not a cartoon artist and the cartoon in question did not impress me as particularly clever and it was provocative and simplistic. I try to avoid disrespectful comments, although the give and take on this site does not inspire respect. In general political cartoonists are not in the respect business, but in the provocation business and I don’t expect them to act any different. I think that burning buildings and attempting to kill translators and threatening bookstores and publishers is a terrible thing, not as bad as fighting wars (if they are unjust), but truly truly terrible nonetheless. I think that publishers are more cowed today than they were 20 years ago when the Rushdie fatwa was issued and that is very bad.

      • Sumud
        April 28, 2010, 5:40 am

        “Atheists should value monotheism because one is much closer to zero than many.”


      • thankgodimatheist
        April 28, 2010, 5:55 am

        The Koran is a mediocre piece of literature compared to the incomparable richness of the Tanach,
        How do you know? Did you read it? Preferably in Arabic for the added value of the rhythmic/musical merit and quality?

      • Citizen
        April 28, 2010, 7:10 am

        Anne Frank in bed with Hitler, Anne Frank wearing a Palestinian flag… the former cartoon meld offends us as humans, while the latter offends us for political reasons? How about Anne in bed with Yassir A? I don’t understand your distinction, WJ. How about
        Rachel Corrie in bed with Netanayuh? Or Rachel wearing an Israeli flag? Should those images offend us as for humane or political reasons? Do people identify (or not) with Rachel because of her humanity, or because she is American, or not Jewish?

      • Citizen
        April 28, 2010, 7:17 am

        WJ, do you also think the same of Jewish and Christian scripture?
        Do they not also contain elements of evil encouraging violence towards non-believers?

      • Chu
        April 28, 2010, 7:29 am

        Real slick WJ. Almost believable stuff, but you hold many prejudices that are plain to see.

      • Citizen
        April 28, 2010, 7:32 am

        Genesis, Exodus, and Samuel stories. You compare them to Shakespeare’s best works? Say they are superior? As written? You must be joking. As a former professional writer and editor, a published poet (over the transom) and academically credentialed person in English and World Literature, I find your literary position ridiculous. The best literature and poetry conveys in depth what it means to be human. I will take any classic piece of secular literature over either the Old Testament or the New Testatment. And, if I had to pick one biblical story with a clear tribal or religious religious bent to be up there with the Classics,
        it would be the the story of Christ, perhaps.

      • MHughes976
        April 28, 2010, 7:54 am

        David Hume argues, in the Natural History of Religion, that polytheism is more acceptable to a sceptic because the stories that it tells are not meant to be taken with the terrifying seriousness that has marked the mono religions.
        I understand that the Koran is written in more than one style and takes more than one view on matters of toleration.

      • wondering jew
        April 28, 2010, 3:01 pm

        TGIA- I have read the Quran in English and admit that if its value is its rhythm and poetry/ musical merit, I cannot truly comment. Tanach has had a great translation into English in the King James Bible (if not entirely accurate, a great piece of literature on its own merit). My “view” of the Koran is that it is similar in content to Deuteronomy- particularly those parts that are exhorting in nature. I think it is a useful tool for self hypnosis, which is a lot of what religion is about. In terms of its level it is somewhere between the level of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Better than Proverbs and inferior to Ecclesiastes. (those books are dissimilar in content to the Koran, I am using them as measures of level.) If one takes a handful of verses from tanach: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. Love thy neighbor as thyself. Love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. The lion shall lay down with the lamb. Justice, justice, shall thou pursue. To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven. It is clear that Tanach is a cut above anything written before Shakespeare. (And it was Jesus’s favorite book, rather than the New Testament that he never read.) Maybe it’s just a good translation, but nonetheless one cannot deny the power of just these seven quotes. The Koran summarizes stories, but has nothing to compare to the story of David or the story of Joseph. The wide variety of emotions, types of literature. It’s just not a fair comparison, like comparing a welterweight and a heavyweight or a magazine versus an encyclopedia.

    • Cliff
      April 27, 2010, 8:51 pm

      WJ, how could you have misread that? What a superficial (and telling) first impression.

      I think you proved olive’s point.

      • Chu
        April 27, 2010, 11:32 pm

        he didn’t misread it. It’s part of his mentality to act this way.

  18. James North
    April 27, 2010, 8:08 pm

    Thanks to many of you who took the time to comment on my post above.
    I should have been more specific in making a distinction between a religion, which includes its fundamental beliefs, and its practitioners. There is certainly a tradition in the Arab world of making fun of hypocrisy among purported believers. In the 1992 film Terrorism and Kebab, for instance, which starred the great Egyptian comic actor Adel Imam, a fundamentalist character is portrayed as a sanctimonious hypocrite. The film was one of the most popular in Egypt that year.
    I don’t follow South Park too closely, but if it makes fun of certain types of Christians it is in the same spirit as Terrorism and Kebab.
    The Islamic belief that the human form should not be represented explains why centuries of art in much of the Islamic world is abstract. This belief especially applies to the Prophet Muhammad.
    To violate this kind of core belief is the rough equivalent of making fun of the Christian virgin birth, mocking the resurrrection, or suggesting that the burning bush never appeared to Moses.
    Of course dissidents that emerged from all religious traditions have always questioned and mocked these beliefs.
    But you are not going to find a cartoon on the Washington Post editorial page making fun of Jesus. (I also doubt you would see a cartoon even in Haaretz that pokes fun at Orthodox Jewish beliefs, although Shmuel and Avi would know more about this than I do.) But Muslims did see a cartoon in a major Danish newspaper (not in whatever is the Danish version of South Park) that not only portrayed the Prophet Muhammad, but showed him with a turban in the form of a bomb.
    Muslims could well ask: why the double standard? I certainly ask it.
    And what I find particularly revolting is that I truly doubt the Danish paper and their cartoonist even cared enough about Muslim people to understand before they published it why their cartoon was so offensive.

    • demize
      April 27, 2010, 8:25 pm

      James thank you for writing it. It is extremely impotant on multiple levels. I’m not sure if there is a particular Hadith against depicting images of any or all Muslim Saints or Prophets other than display of graven images. I wonder if there are older Islamic traditions that do not follow these strictures? It may solely be traditional as there is certainly a focus on the “word” in Islamic architecture. Anyone who has seen the intricate calligraphy and geometry at Al Hambra can attest to this. I’m neither Muslim nor an authority on Islam I just thought I’d throw these thoughts into the mix.

      • olive
        April 27, 2010, 8:42 pm


        The Islamic prohibition on creating images of animate life seems to stem from stopping people from trying to imitate God’s creative power: Here is a short section from the classic Islam Legal manual, “The Reliance of the Traveller” that quotes Hadiths on this subject:
        Chapter P44.0: Making Pictures
        The Prophet (Allah bless-him and give him peace) said:

        -1- ‘Every maker of pictures will go to the fire, where a being will be set upon him for each picture he made, to torment him in hell.”

        -2- “Whoever makes an image shall be required (on the Last Day) to breathe a spirit into it, but will never be able to do so.”

        (n: Other hadith evidence appears at w50, which discusses legal questions relating to the artistic, photographic, and televisual depiction of animate life.)
        And here is a fatwa by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani on the subject of creating images of animate beings:

        In the name of Allah, the inspirer of truth. All praise is to Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate, and all blessings and peace to our Master Muhammad, his family, companions, and those who follow them.

        What is strongly impermissible is to draw the entire human body with all its details, or the face and neck with all its details (except when necessary for immediate educational purposes and the like).

        As for drawing an outline of the human body, without detailed features, and labeling the various parts, or drawing the details of a particular part (such as the heart), this is permitted, and this is not disliked if for a reasonable purpose (such as education).

        It is mentioned in Imam ` Ala � al-Din al-Haskafi�s al-Durr al-Mukhtar that, among the types of pictures that are not prohibited to have are those that are

        �(Small) such that the details of their limbs are not apparent to someone who looks down at them standing while they are on the ground, as Halabi mentioned, (or with their head or face cut off) or with an organ effaced out that the body cannot live without, (or of an inanimate object).�

        Ibn Abidin clarified in his supercommentary, Radd al-Muhtar,

        �(His saying �with their head� cut off�) That is, whether it did not have a head in the first place, or it had one and it was effaced.� [Radd al-Muhtar` ala al-Durr al-Mukhtar, �Babma yufsidal-salatwama yukrahufiha�]

        And Allah knows best.

        Faraz Rabbani.

      • demize
        April 27, 2010, 8:51 pm

        Thank You Olive for clarifiying this for me. To the topic at hand since real live Muslims continue to be slaughtered it seems to be a convenient meme to propogate that only religious offenses would piss off said group. Another words nothing to see here folks look over there.

      • wondering jew
        April 27, 2010, 10:11 pm

        Theo van Gogh was murdered in the Netherlands for some offense and there follows a quote attributing 200 deaths to the Danish cartoon controversy. It is not just a question of free press; it is a question of violence in reaction to a free press. One can discuss the wars (of occupation) by nonMuslim peoples against Muslim peoples and also discuss other acts of violence by Muslim peoples against nonMuslim peoples because of “blasphemy” issues.

        And guess what? We should also be allowed to talk about freedom of the press issues without being accused of changing the topic.

        “After a Danish newspaper and other European publications displayed 12 cartoons caricaturing the Prophet Muhammad in 2005 and early 2006, violent protests erupted around the world. Muslims throughout the Middle East and Africa rioted. They burned embassies and churches and fought with police; at least 200 died and many more were injured.”

        I found this by googling danish cartoon deaths. it is in the new york times in the category Times Topics. Danish Cartoon controversy, updated August 12, 2009.

      • Chaos4700
        April 27, 2010, 10:22 pm

        …200 people died? Like, who, exactly? Got any more details about this?

        Also, as if there wouldn’t be repercussions if any non-Jew posted something slanderous about something you held dear. Hell, there’s already consequences for people who attempt to criticize Israel, or even merely report facts — Goldstone found that out the hard way, and he’s Jewish. And Zionist, though I have to imagine that’s changing.

      • yonira
        April 27, 2010, 10:31 pm

        it was mostly muslims that died during the riots. i have seen figures closer to 140, but any death or riot over a cartoon is pretty ridiculous.

        i guess that is the difference between making a joke about islam and making a joke about any other religion.

      • Chaos4700
        April 27, 2010, 10:33 pm

        Gee, yeah, yonira, those savage brutal Aye-rabs, huh.

        You know what they say, you can maybe take a Jew out of redneck hicksville, but…

      • Keith
        April 27, 2010, 11:38 pm

        Just as “Revolution Muslim” may be a CIA “false flag” operation, the notorious Danish cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad may have been a Mossad provocation. According to James Petras, the editor was a recently arrived Ukrainian Jew with ties to the Mossad and Likud. The cartoon was published in September 2005 to little reaction. In January and February of 2006, Jewish Sayanim (helpers) got the cartoon reproduced throughout Europe, which prompted the Muslim reaction. This was a deliberate, orchestrated provocation. The editor has since relocated to Miami.

      • yonira
        April 27, 2010, 11:40 pm

        Where do you get this stuff Keith, seriously. I like a good conspiracy (and a good laugh) perhaps you could share some links?

        Were the rioters really Mossad agents too? Or was that true Muslim on Muslim killing?

      • Chu
        April 27, 2010, 11:51 pm

        It’s on wikipedia and other articles.
        link to en.wikipedia.org

        “The group of 5-10 members devoted to Abdullah el-Faisal was run by Yousef al-Khattab, born Joseph Cohen, an American Jew who converted to Islam in 2000 after living in Israel and attending an orthodox rabbinical school there, then returned to New York”

      • yonira
        April 27, 2010, 11:58 pm

        what are you exactly proving? another jewish conspiracy?

      • Keith
        April 28, 2010, 12:03 am

        YONIRA- It’s not a link. It is a book by Professor (Emeritus) James Petras titled THE POWER OF ISRAEL IN THE UNITED STATES (2006). The use of false flag operations and other forms of psyops propaganda is actually rather common. If you think about it, it should be obvious that both Israel and the U.S. would engage in information warfare to achieve their operational objectives. As for the riots, I’m sure they were quite genuine, and exactly what was intended in the effort to promote the “clash of civilizations” theme.

      • Citizen
        April 28, 2010, 7:55 am

        Yonira, what are you denying? Please address what Keith said, and what Chu dug up on Wikipedia as to the source of the controversy.
        Motivation may be more complex than dismissal by suggesting another anti-semitic “jewish conspiracy.”

  19. Scott
    April 27, 2010, 9:14 pm

    I’m tempted to tell the Sarah Silverstein holocaust joke I heard on NPR, but she tells it much better than I can.

    • yonira
      April 27, 2010, 10:57 pm

      Here is a link Scott

      link to youtube.com

      No death threats against Sarah Silverman.

      • Chaos4700
        April 27, 2010, 11:02 pm

        How would you know?

      • Citizen
        April 28, 2010, 8:02 am

        Sarah can say anything she wants. It would be nice if the rest of us had the same license?

  20. rachel
    April 27, 2010, 10:23 pm


    Most people will find Holocaust jokes rather offensive. What’s so hilarious about making fun of gassed people? How would you react if I made fun of dead Palestinians? Would that be a taboo? Or an offensive, repugnant joke?
    But hey, knock yourself and post some holocaust jokes. Do you have any good ones? I need a good laugh. HAHA!

    • Chaos4700
      April 27, 2010, 10:30 pm

      No, no, no, you’re getting it all wrong. The Wicked Witch of the West threatened to burn the straw man, not build one.

    • olive
      April 27, 2010, 10:34 pm

      *flabbergasted* errrm, rachel, I was not making fun of Jewish people. But it is late in the night (at least where I’m living) so I can understand if your exhaustion causes my comments to be hard to read for you. Get some sleep and then come back to me when your all freshened up.

      • Chaos4700
        April 27, 2010, 10:38 pm

        Don’t bother, olive. Rachel is basically using a verbose, modified form of the “noun,verb, anti-Semite!” defense.

        I didn’t think Canadians were capable of being this rude, but then again, I heard that it implied that she’s French Canadian, which of course would be the exception to the rule.

      • olive
        April 27, 2010, 10:49 pm

        Yeah, I suspected that much ,Chaos .But I find that its always best to end things on a gentle note with people. If I’m a jerk to people, their ego will feel indignant and thus close their hearts to what we are trying to say.

        Too bad I’m not very good at following my own advice!

      • Chaos4700
        April 27, 2010, 10:53 pm

        You’re a better man than I am for even trying. As you may have noticed, I generally answer belligerence with belligerence. I’ve gotten very cynical about finding open hearts (or any heart at all, metaphorically speaking) among vicious people like rachel.

      • Chu
        April 27, 2010, 11:48 pm

        She says what’s the fun in joking about gassed people and then goes on to bait someone into telling a Holocaust joke. Then she’ll say Mondoweiss is full of Jew Haters! It’s an odd game for sure.
        – I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Holocaust Joke, and Ruth/Rachel is a disturbed late night poster that drinks wine and snorts ziocane rails, only then to rant about how wrong everyone else is. Classic dementia and she’s as sick as they come, although her new face (rachel) is trying to play it cool.

    • Citizen
      April 28, 2010, 8:06 am

      Yeah, rachel, I have one good holocaust joke: Madoff.
      That’s just the punch line.
      It’s as good as Sarah’s joke about Jews driving German cars. All by itself.

  21. Richard Witty
    April 28, 2010, 7:56 am

    There is a hypocrisy in many of those anti-Zionists, those with Arabic pseudonyms, anarchist pseudonyms and others conducting a form of interrogation on WJ for expressing any observation or inquiry into Muslim motives and experiences, and the utter lack of any evidence of self-inquiry into the affects of their comments and references to Jewish and/or Israeli’s sensitivities.

    The world is made a better place by improving one’s own sensitivities, even/especially towards those that one has some discomforts with, not by rationalizing one’s own prejudices and insensitivities.

    • Citizen
      April 28, 2010, 8:08 am

      Richard Witty, slamming hypocrisy? Now that should be on SP or Family Guy. I can see it now…

    • Chaos4700
      April 28, 2010, 8:23 am

      Says the guy who approves of the IDF bombing hospitals and strip-searching children “for the safety and security of the Jewish state.”

      Says the guy who says allowing Palestinian right of return is an “immigration issue” but that the Zionist movement wasn’t.

      Zionism always boils down to two things — anti-Arab hysteria, and ad hominem attacks on human rights activists.

    • Sumud
      April 28, 2010, 8:22 pm

      ” those with Arabic pseudonyms, anarchist pseudonyms and others”


  22. bigbill
    April 28, 2010, 2:03 pm

    When was the last time? I think it was a few days ago when I saw South Park. There were several times MSM papers have said Jesus was a homosexual. And of course that “Piss Christ” sculpture thingie a few years ago. Lots of papers refer to “x-tians”, using the standard Jewish may-his-name-be-blotted-out form. I have seen several New York/hip media mags with Jesus cartoons, as well as the reported New York/LA/SF queer events and demos showing e.g. Christ in drag, humping other guys, for example. There are all the published atheist “flying spaghetti monster” “magical sky friend” gags (aimed at Christians, of course, not Jews or Muslims).

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