An ‘industry’ built on hate: How the right-wing successfully brought anti-Muslim bigotry into the American mainstream

ActivismIsrael/PalestineMiddle EastUS Politics
on 73 Comments

Ahmed Sharif was a 44-year-old Muslim Bangladeshi taxi driver in New York City. It was August 24, 2010, a time that marked the height of vitriolic protests against a planned Islamic center to be located in lower Manhattan, a few blocks away from the site of Ground Zero. Sharif picked up 21-year-old Michael Enright for an early evening ride. Everything was going smoothly until Enright, three blocks away from his stop, yelled at Sharif, “this is a checkpoint, motherfucker, and I have to bring you down.”

Enright, a filmmaker who kept a diary filled with strong anti-Muslim sentiment, pulled out a knife and slashed Sharif across the throat, face and arms. Enright tried to escape, but was arrested by the New York Police Department. Sharif survived, but he packed up and moved to Buffalo, in upstate New York. It was a crime that seemed to fit in with the general climate of hysteria over Muslims that developed that summer.

9780745332536

This is how Nathan Lean begins telling the story of how a small group of bigots seized upon the frustrations and fears of post-9/11 America and exploited those feelings to create a circular industry of hate. Lean’s new book, The Islamophobia Industry: How the Right Manufactures Fear of Muslims, is a compact and punchy look at this industry stretching across continents that has sowed hatred of Muslims into the fabric of Western society.

The book, written by the editor-in-chief of Aslan Media, comes at an opportune time. Released in September 2012, the book landed just one month after American Muslims witnessed a stark increase in hate attacks during the holy month of Ramadan. A report by the Council on American Islamic Relations documented that the Ramadan of 2012 “saw one of the worst spikes of anti-Muslim incidents in over a decade.”

From the beginning of 2012 to July 20, which is when Ramadan began, there were 10 incidents in which Muslim places of worship were targeted. During Ramadan–specifically over 13 days in August–”Muslim places of worship were targeted eight times.” These incidents include the destruction of a mosque in Missouri by fire; the leaving of pig legs at a planned mosque site in California; and the firing of air rifles outside a mosque in Illinois.

How, exactly, did we get here? By the time Ramadan of 2012 rolled around, it had been almost 11 years since the September 11, 2001 attacks were carried out by a group of Islamic fundamentalists part of Al Qaeda. You would expect anti-Muslim bigotry to decrease after the wounds of 9/11 healed, after it became clear that the vast majority of American Muslims have no inclination to attack their own country. You would be wrong.

Jumping from the U.S. to Israel to Europe, Lean traces the arc of the Islamophobic sentiment that has exploded in the West. The foreword from scholar on Islam John Esposito lays out the importance of Lean’s work: “It exposes the multi-million dollar cottage industry of fear mongers and the network of funders and organizations that support and perpetuate bigotry, xenophobia, and racism, and produce a climate of fear that sustains a threatening social cancer.”

Lean properly places anti-Muslim bigotry in the context of American hysteria over religions and ideologies that refused to conform to mainstream standards. Before jumping into the contemporary context, he reminds readers that Catholics were once the target of acceptable religious bigotry. The conspiracy theories spun out of thin air about Catholics would ring a familiar bell to those consuming Frank Gaffney’s utterly insane theory that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the U.S. government and is subverting it from within.

But by far the most important contribution Lean makes is his unmasking of the bigots who have infused American politics with virulent anti-Muslim sentiment. Lean zeroes in on a number of high-profile episodes and figures to make his points, from the pro-settler Clarion Fund’s distribution of an anti-Muslim film to the 2010 Values Voter summit to Anders Behring Breivik’s killing spree in Norway. Lean points to an “industry” of hate mongers that have gone to “great lengths to sell its message to the public.” The difference, though, between this industry and others is that “in many cases the very networks that spread their products are themselves participants in the ruse to whip up public fear of Muslims….It is a relationship of mutual benefit, where ideologies and political proclivities converge to advance the same agenda.”

The most important nodes in this industry are the online peddlers of hate. The author particularly focuses on Pamela Geller, the blogger at the front of the network of Islamophobes in the U.S. You can see Geller’s fingerprints in many of the public battles over Islam in this country, most prominently the ginned-up hysteria over the Park 51 Islamic center. Currently, Geller is in the spotlight for a series of anti-Muslim ads she has put up in New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.–with more on the way. She has used her celebrity, boosted by Fox News (a principal player in the Islamophobia industry), to create cross-continental activist networks against Islam. Robert Spencer, Geller’s partner in crime, is also a focus of Lean’s. “People such as Robert Spencer, Daniel Pipes, or Martin Kramer, all online Islamophobes, spread each others’ postings and write-ups to their own audience,” writes Lean. “With each new click of the mouse, the story grows.”

But the Islamophobia industry does not just exist in the fever swamps of the online world. There’s real on the ground work being done. And there are disparate players in this industry. They come, principally, from right-wing Zionism and evangelical Christianity, uniting to form a Judeo-Christian front in their battle against Islam. Their funders, too, come from these worlds–though the right-wing Zionist world has fueled the majority of anti-Muslim activists.

Right-wing Christian ideology places Muslims beyond the pale. “The idea that Muslims may also be in possession of God’s revelation and truth, is not only unacceptable, it is an offense so blasphemous that it must be stopped,” Lean notes. Evangelical Christians, as a core part of the Republican base, have actively pushed their ideas about Islam into the mainstream of American politics. They have been aided by figures such as Newt Gingrich, who while reinventing himself as an ardent Christian conservative has also spread panic about Sharia law taking over the United States. Many Christian conservatives are also, of course, Christian Zionists who see Israel as the fulfillment of biblical prophecy that will continue until the Messiah comes down again.

It is this Christian Zionism that closely binds right-wing evangelicals with strong supporters of the Jewish state. The Zionists who spread anti-Muslim bigotry can be placed in three camps, according to Lean: religious (Jewish) Zionism, Christian Zionism and political Zionism. “For Religious Zionists, prophecy is the main driver of their Islamophobic fervor. For them, Palestinians are not just unbidden inhabitants; they are not just Arabs in Jewish lands. They are not just Muslims, even. They are non-Jews–outsiders cut from a different cloth–and God’s commandments regarding them are quite clear,” he writes. And there is the political Zionism that sheds religious language but is still hostile towards Muslims. As Max Blumenthal wrote, these figures, some of whom are neoconservatives, believe that “the Jewish state [is] a Middle Eastern Fort Apache on the front lines of the Global War on Terror.”

Lean’s spot-on analysis about how Zionism is connected to Islamophobia is a refreshing departure from other works and institutions that shy away from examining the connection. The most prominent investigative reporting on Islamophobia and its sources of funding has come from the Obama-linked Center for American Progress (CAP). But the Zionist motivations of many of the funders CAP highlights are not interrogated. You have to turn to this piece by activists Donna Nevel and Elly Bulkin on those connections to get the full picture.

Lean also pinpoints how anti-Muslim bigtory has spread from the Internet world to the very heart of some government policies on terrorism. From the New York Police Department’s surveillance program to Peter King’s hearings on “Muslim radicalization,” anti-Muslim bigotry has become institutionalized in some quarters of government.

But Lean’s discussion of how parts of the U.S. government have become infused with Islamophobia does not tell the full story–and this is the main critique I have of an otherwise excellent book. Lean correctly focuses on how the right has manufactured fear and hatred of Muslims. But it would be wrong to leave out the other side of the equation: how liberals in this country who are part of the Democratic Party have also helped anti-Muslim sentiment to spread.

This is not to say that Democrats spew Islamophobia in their election campaigns. No, the Democratic Party does not go that far. But they are largely silent when ugly anti-Muslim bigotry comes into play, which allows the right to step into the vacuum in a debate over Islam in the U.S. When the Democrats run away from the issue, there is no one left in the mainstream to challenge the right’s Islamophobia.

As Deepa Kumar, author of her own book on Islamophobia, pointed out in The Nation, Islamophobia is a “bipartisan project.” Liberal Islamophobia, Kumar writes, “may be rhetorically gentler but it reserves the right of the US to wage war against ‘Islamic terrorism’ around the world, with no respect for the right of self-determination by people in the countries it targets.” You can see this liberal Islamophobia in action when you look at the fact that “Obama has continued Bush’s policies of torture, extraordinary rendition and pre-emptive prosecution. American Muslims continue to be harassed and persecuted by the state.” And then there was Obama counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan pronouncing that the NYPD’s targeting of Muslim in their surveillance program was legitimate. “My conversations with Commissioner [Ray] Kelly indicate he’s done everything according to the law,” Brennan told reporters.

While the White House walked back his comments, Brennan’s continued presence in the administration tells you all you need to know. Liberal Islamophobia’s march continues ahead–and ignoring how the Obama administration has failed to combat anti-Muslim bigotry is setting people up for failure. The way to combat Islamophobia is through activism and coalition-building, but if you ignore its manifestations no matter where they emanate from, you won’t get very far.

Besides that oversight, though, Lean’s The Islamophobia Industry is a vital contribution to the still-growing body of literature on anti-Muslim sentiment in the U.S. If you want to understand the genesis of the right’s toxic Islamophobia and how it has spread, pick up Lean’s book. You won’t regret it.

73 Responses

  1. FreddyV
    October 26, 2012, 3:05 pm

    I’m so tempted to get this book, but I’ve got so much on my reading list.

    I’m so glad that someone has tackled the issue of Neocon / Evangelicals / Zionists and the defamation of Islam.

    Brilliant!

  2. MRW
    October 26, 2012, 4:04 pm

    I’m going to buy it.

    This is a direct result and consequence of an uninvestigated 9/11. (They’re taking longer to find out who killed the Ambassador to Libya than the BS finger-pointing by Barak (11:30 AM EST) and Perle and Gaffney on 9/11 (later that night), which was accepted without challenge.

    Bob Smietana’s investigative series in The Tennessean is another interesting source. The Naval Academy ME expert on page 5 sneers at the Islamophobes, and their concept of Sharia Law.

  3. Annie Robbins
    October 26, 2012, 4:20 pm

    Fantastic report Alex.

  4. Rusty Pipes
    October 26, 2012, 4:26 pm

    Between Democrats being afraid of being painted “soft on terrorism,” of offending Jewish Zionist donors by saying anything positive about Muslims or Arabs and of Obama being branded “Secret Muslim Man”* by the Tea-Partiers and Birthers, they have given the Rightwing’s Islamophobia little pushback and lots of enabling. Thanks for calling them out, Alex:

    This is not to say that Democrats spew Islamophobia in their election campaigns. No, the Democratic Party does not go that far. But they are largely silent when ugly anti-Muslim bigotry comes into play, which allows the right to step into the vacuum in a debate over Islam in the U.S. When the Democrats run away from the issue, there is no one left in the mainstream to challenge the right’s Islamophobia.

    As Deepa Kumar, author of her own book on Islamophobia, pointed out in The Nation, Islamophobia is a “bipartisan project.” Liberal Islamophobia, Kumar writes, “may be rhetorically gentler but it reserves the right of the US to wage war against ‘Islamic terrorism’ around the world, with no respect for the right of self-determination by people in the countries it targets.” You can see this liberal Islamophobia in action when you look at the fact that “Obama has continued Bush’s policies of torture, extraordinary rendition and pre-emptive prosecution. American Muslims continue to be harassed and persecuted by the state.” And then there was Obama counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan pronouncing that the NYPD’s targeting of Muslim in their surveillance program was legitimate. “My conversations with Commissioner [Ray] Kelly indicate he’s done everything according to the law,” Brennan told reporters.

    While the White House walked back his comments, Brennan’s continued presence in the administration tells you all you need to know. Liberal Islamophobia’s march continues ahead–and ignoring how the Obama administration has failed to combat anti-Muslim bigotry is setting people up for failure. The way to combat Islamophobia is through activism and coalition-building, but if you ignore its manifestations no matter where they emanate from, you won’t get very far.

    Speaking of the Islamophobic “Secret Muslim Man” meme, why is Wes still allowed to comment here?

  5. Stogumber
    October 26, 2012, 7:20 pm

    Really, don’t you think that those books are boring? It’s always about bad boys cynically “making” other people “fear”. But for a cheap success those books eliminate the more interesting points of the story.

    First, the real protagonists are nearly never cynics – they are as believing as their followers.

    Secondly, propaganda relies on real experiences and conflicts – so wouldn’t it be more instructive to write about those real matters?

    Thirdly, you can’t “make” someone fear, you can only cover his latent fears with
    a kind of rational explanation. Latent fears rely on a deep sense of insecurity – so, wouldn’t it be more instructive to write about why and how far people feel insecure (and don’t they have a right to feel insecure?)

  6. DICKERSON3870
    October 26, 2012, 10:31 pm

    RE: “There’s real on the ground [anti-Muslim] work being done. And there are disparate players in this industry. They come, principally, from right-wing Zionism and evangelical Christianity, uniting to form a Judeo-Christian front in their battle against Islam.” ~ Alex Kane

    SUNG FORTISSIMO:
    “Onward Judeo-Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
    With the symbols of Western superiority going on before.
    G_d and Christ, the royal Masters, lead against the foe;
    Forward into battle see Their banners go!
    At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee;
    On then, Judeo-Christian soldiers, on to victory!
    Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise;
    Brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise. . .”

    P.S. “FREE DON” SIEGELMAN PETITION - link to change.org

    • DICKERSON3870
      October 26, 2012, 10:43 pm

      P.S. FOR A LITTLE BACKGROUND ON CHRISTIAN ZIONISM, SEE:
      “Grace Halsell: De-bunker of Christian Zionist Doctrine”, by Stuart Littlewood, Palestine Chronicle, 8/11/12

      [EXCERPTS] Not long ago I quoted American journalist Grace Halsell in an article about the damaging influence of the Scofield Bible, not realising how sorely she was made to suffer for setting out the truth.
      That article, ‘The Zionist cuckoos in Christianity’s nest’, showed how Cyrus Scofield corrupted the Biblical message and produced a propaganda classic that has been working its evil for 100 years.

      Scofield, a convicted criminal and described by one American newspaper as “a shyster”, was commissioned to re-write the King James Bible by inserting Zionist-friendly notes. The idea was to change the Christian view of Zionism by creating and promoting a pro-Zionist sub-culture within Christianity. The Oxford University Press appointed Scofield as editor, and the Scofield Reference Bible was born.
      It introduced a new worship icon, the modern State of Israel, which did not exist until 1948 but was already
      being ‘prepped’ on the drawing board of the World Zionist movement.
      It appealed to the impressionable and was seized on by religious chancers who have used inappropriate methods to establish a large and dangerously un-Christian fringe to the Christianity movement. They call themselves Christian Zionists.
      Here is how Grace Halsell explained the re-hashed Biblical message: “Simply stated it is this: Every act taken by Israel is orchestrated by God, and should be condoned, supported, and even praised by the rest of us. Never mind what Israel does, say the Christian Zionists. God wants this to happen…
      “Scofield said that Christ cannot return to earth until certain events occur: The Jews must return to Palestine, gain control of Jerusalem and rebuild a temple, and then we all must engage in the final, great battle called Armageddon. Estimates vary, but most students of Armageddon theology agree that as a result of these relatively recent interpretations of Biblical scripture, 10 to 40 million Americans believe Palestine is God’s chosen land for the Jews.”
      The problem, she said, was the belief system of Christian Zionists. “They believe that what Israel wants is what God wants. Therefore, it is perfectly acceptable to give the green light to whatever it is Israel wants and then conceal this from the American people. Anything, including lies, theft, even murder, is justified as long as Israel wants it.”
      Those pseudo-Christians, who would have us all believe that God is some kind of racist real estate agent, thereafter made her life a misery. . .

      ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to palestinechronicle.com

      • FreddyV
        October 27, 2012, 11:01 am

        The thing that’s most compelling about Christian Zionism is that the ‘end times’ are always framed in the time of the person hold to the belief. With Israel now being in existence, it needs to acquire the Biblical Nile to the Euphrates territory and engage in a massive war against the ‘Gog-Magog’ alliance which is identified as Iran and Russia.

        Needless to say, these things don’t bode well for Muslim – Christian Zionist relations.

      • Bruce
        October 27, 2012, 3:30 pm

        @ DICKERSON3870

        The Littlewood article quoted and your inclusion of bold type are just terrible, and quite misleading. You and Littlewood make the theological origins of Christian Zionism to be some kind of nefarious, un-Christian conspiracy.

        The theology of the Dispensationalists was quite worked out before political Zionism saw the light of day and Scofield wrote his bible.

        It is certainly worthwhile in understanding Christian Zionists to read about the history of their theology – also brain numbing if Christian theology is not your usual interest – but I’d strongly suggest avoiding Grace Halsell if Littlewood’s description of her writing is correct.

        For a brief into, I suggest reading Wikipedia entry for Dispensationalism, and for C. I. Scofield.

      • Annie Robbins
        October 27, 2012, 4:59 pm

        bruce, it may have been ‘worked out’ but it didn’t take off for awhile and wasn’t mainstream like it is today. your wiki link:

        Dispensationalism began to evolve during this time, most significantly when a significant body of dispensationalists proposed the “pre-tribulation” rapture. Dispensationalist leaders in Moody’s circle include Reuben Archer Torrey (1856–1928), James M. Gray (1851–1925), Cyrus I. Scofield (1843–1921), William J. Erdman (1833–1923), A. C. Dixon (1854–1925), A. J. Gordon (1836–1895) and William Eugene Blackstone, author of the bestselling book of the 1800s titled, “Jesus is Coming” (endorsed by Torrey and Erdman). These men were activist evangelists who promoted a host of Bible conferences and other missionary and evangelistic efforts.

        They also gave the dispensationalist movement institutional permanence by assuming leadership of the new independent Bible institutes such as the Moody Bible Institute in 1886, the Bible Institute of Los Angeles (now Biola University) in 1908, and the Philadelphia College of the Bible (now Philadelphia Biblical University) in 1913. The network of related institutes that soon sprang up became the nucleus for the spread of American dispensationalism.

        The efforts of C. I. Scofield and his associates introduced dispensationalism to a wider audience in America through his Scofield Reference Bible. The publication of the Scofield Reference Bible in 1909 by the Oxford University Press for the first time displayed overtly dispensationalist notes to the pages of the Biblical text. The Scofield Reference Bible became a popular Bible used by independent Evangelicals and Fundamentalists in the United States. Evangelist and Bible teacher Lewis Sperry Chafer (1871–1952), who was influenced by C. I. Scofield, founded Dallas Theological Seminary in 1924, which has become the flagship of dispensationalism in America. More recently, the Baptist Bible Seminary in Clark Summit, Pennsylvania became another dispensational school.

        but I’d strongly suggest avoiding Grace Halsell if Littlewood’s description of her writing is correct.

        bruce, check out this nyt obit and nyu links and then compare it to what wiki has to say about her. they completely disregard what she’s famous for.

        link to nytimes.com
        link to dlib.nyu.edu

        either way, wrt anything involving israel i don’t think wiki is a decent source. but the bible is not an area i am proficient in,scofield or otherwise. however there’s nothing in halsell’s history that i know of that indicates she approached her subjects with anything other than seeking the unadulterated truth. it’s curious how wiki reduces her influence in a few short nondescript paragraphs largely stripped of context.

      • MRW
        October 27, 2012, 5:47 pm

        @Bruce,

        Grace Halsell is one of the 20th c’s greatest journalists. She covered Korea and Vietnam, was a White House speechwriter for Lyndon Johnson, and wrote the seminal “Soul Sister” (among her dozen or so books). The full title is Soul Sister: The Story of a White Woman Who Turned Herself Black and Went to Live and Work in Harlem and Mississippi. It stunned America. She was famous for taking on taboo topics and turning them inside out. Her books included Black White Sex, The Illegals, Evers,: A Biography of Charles Evers, Bessie Yellowhair. She did what you claim you like to do on this comment board

        I disturb the culture. Exactly!
        And I’m mean. Yeah, well that is tit-for-tat. That’s exactly how your culture acts when someone writes outside your boundaries of discourse.

        But you’ve never heard of her. Yet you advocate that if what Littlewood writes is correct, then you can admonish Dickerson

        I’d strongly suggest avoiding Grace Halsell if Littlewood’s description of her writing is correct.

        .
        So much for disturbance, or to the introduction of new info into the culture.

        Halsell was revered until she wrote, Journey to Jerusalem in 1981. Even though it was praised by Philip M. Klutznick, President Emeritus of he World Jewish Congress and Honorary President of B’nai B’rith International, as “An excellent work,” the vultures picked her bones apart for daring to lay bare the reality of Israel and Palestine. George Ball and Clark Clifford praised the book to the hilt–Ball called it worth a thousand polemics–but American Zionists would have none of it and made sure she never worked again.

      • MRW
        October 27, 2012, 6:03 pm

        @Bruce,

        The Christian Zionists, as they are now called (they were the Christian Right for a long time before that), got their power from Begin in the late 70s.

        Begin was pissed that Carter made him sign the damn Egyptian treaty. He wanted him out of office. Yitzak Shamir and Begin cooked up a way to screw the pooch.

        At the time, late 70s, the Christian Right were still blaming the Jews for killing Jesus. The Scofield Bible hadn’t been adopted widely in all the seminaries. Not yet. The Left Behind Series aided that. Begin knew that the only bridge between his brand of Judaism and the Christian Right was homosexuality. They both hated gays. So Begin called Jerry Falwell and said we have to do something about this scourge, and poured butter down his back saying that only Falwell could approach the president that should be in office, Reagan.

        Begin accomplished two things. He pumped Falwell’s ego. He got the Christian Right to come out in droves for Ronald Reagan, which people like Lee Atwater and a young Rove recognized the power of.

        Then, Begin refused to speak to Reagan directly. He only spoke to Reagan through his intermediary: Falwell. Falwell now had a direct line to the White House. They always took his calls. The Christian Right took over the values argument in American society, and we got the 80s.

        That was how the Israeli co-opted the Christian Right. That’s why there’s a Jewish Director of CUFI. That’s why Jewish pastors run some of the biggest Zionese churches.

        Sam Untermeyr paid for Cyrus Scofield to spend four years on the shores of Lake Geneva writing his 1906 Bible that the Oxford Press owned the copyright to then, and now.

      • Ellen
        October 27, 2012, 6:43 pm

        The destruction of Hasel was complete.

        Her editor at McMillian was fired and the the book dropped. When it was finaly published Kirkus Review completely trashed it with:

        ” The book concludes, true to form, with a chapter on Israeli torture of prisoners and an epilogue lamely celebrating what the three religions have in common. Among the several recent books highlighting Israel’s internal strains, both the least forthright and the least authoritative.”

        A former high profile respected and connected Journalist, one of the finest of her generation was never to really work again, nor to be received in places of power where only month before she was welcome with open doors.

        Upon her death the NYT obit never mentioned THAT book, but did praise all her other work.

        It can only be found now with rare and used book sellers.

        In a way I am surprised she lived until 2000.

      • Annie Robbins
        October 27, 2012, 8:04 pm

        bruce, i urge you to read the reviews of journey to jerusalem by grace halsell at amazon. especially the one by Diane Schlank. link to amazon.com

        i also recommend Grace Halsell’s What Christians Don’t Know About Israel link to ifamericansknew.org

        she writes about her experience getting journey to jerusalem published. here’s an excerpt:

        The day the book was scheduled to be published, I went to visit MacMillan’s. Checking in at a reception desk, I spotted Griffin across a room, cleaning out his desk. His secretary Margie came to greet me. In tears, she whispered for me to meet her in the ladies room. When we were alone, she confided, “He’s been fired.” She indicated it was because he had signed a contract for a book that was sympathetic to Palestinians. Griffin, she said, had no time to see me.

        Later, I met with another MacMillan official, William Curry. “I was told to take your manuscript to the Israeli Embassy, to let them read it for mistakes,” he told me. “They were not pleased. They asked me, ‘You are not going to publish this book, are you?’ I asked, ‘Were there mistakes?’ ‘Not mistakes as such. But it shouldn’t be published. It’s anti-Israel.’”

        ……..

        I lost more Jewish friends than one after the publication of Journey to Jerusalem—all sad losses for me and one, perhaps, saddest of all.

        In the 1960s and 1970s, before going to the Middle East, I had written about the plight of blacks in a book entitled Soul Sister, and the plight of American Indians in a book entitled Bessie Yellowhair, and the problems endured by undocumented workers crossing from Mexico in The Illegals. These books had come to the attention of the “mother” of The New York Times, Mrs. Arthur Hays Sulzberger.

        Her father had started the newspaper, then her husband ran it, and in the years that I knew her, her son was the publisher. She invited me to her fashionable apartment on Fifth Avenue for lunches and dinner parties. And, on many occasions, I was a weekend guest at her Greenwich, Conn. home.

        She was liberal-minded and praised my efforts to speak for the underdog, even going so far in one letter to say, “You are the most remarkable woman I ever knew.” I had little concept that from being buoyed so high I could be dropped so suddenly when I discovered—from her point of view—the “wrong” underdog.

        As it happened, I was a weekend guest in her spacious Connecticut home when she read bound galleys of Journey to Jerusalem. As I was leaving, she handed the galleys back with a saddened look: “My dear, have you forgotten the Holocaust?” She felt that what happened in Nazi Germany to Jews several decades earlier should silence any criticism of the Jewish state. She could focus on a holocaust of Jews while negating a modern day holocaust of Palestinians.

        I realized, quite painfully, that our friendship was ending. Iphigene Sulzberger had not only invited me to her home to meet her famous friends but, also at her suggestion, The Times had requested articles. I wrote op-ed articles on various subjects including American blacks, American Indians as well as undocumented workers. Since Mrs. Sulzberger and other Jewish officials at the Times highly praised my efforts to help these groups of oppressed peoples, the dichotomy became apparent: most “liberal” U.S. Jews stand on the side of all poor and oppressed peoples save one—the Palestinians.

        How handily these liberal Jewish opinion-molders tend to diminish the Palestinians, to make them invisible, or to categorize them all as “terrorists.”

        Interestingly, Iphigene Sulzberger had talked to me a great deal about her father, Adolph S. Ochs. She told me that he was not one of the early Zionists. He had not favored the creation of a Jewish state.

        it’s a really good article

      • Bruce
        October 27, 2012, 8:35 pm

        @ Annie Robbins & @MRW

        I criticized Littlewood’s article and DICKERSON3870’s bolding from Littlewood’s article.

        Then I later wrote, “but I’d strongly suggest avoiding Grace Halsell if Littlewood’s description of her writing is correct.” Had I read Halsell myself, then I would not have had to put the conditional “if” in. I would have given you my own view.

        Re-reading the DICKERSON3870’s comment one more time in response to your reactions, let me clarify:

        Littlewood’s article was titled, “Grace Halsell: De-bunker of Christian Zionist Doctrine.” With that title, it is reasonable to assume that the article reflected the writing of Grace Halsell. Her book on the subject is not readily available nor could I easily find other quotes or references to it, so I can’t make any actual evaluations. All the same, parsing out all of the direct quotes attributed to Grace Halsell, I have no problems with anything attributed directly to her.

        However, contrasting the rest of Littlewood’s writing and the Halsell quotes embedded in the article, there is no necessary reason to conclude that Littlewood’s own analysis is derived from Halsell.

        Littlewood wrote and DICKERSON3870 bolded:

        That article [Littlewood's own], ‘The Zionist cuckoos in Christianity’s nest’, showed how Cyrus Scofield corrupted the Biblical message and produced a propaganda classic that has been working its evil for 100 years.

        Whether “Cyrus Scofield corrupted the Biblical message” is something that Christian theologians should determine, not Stuart Littlewood, “marketing specialist turned writer-photographer in the UK” for the Military & Foreign Affairs Journal, Veterans Today. I would also suggest that it is Christian theologians that should determine whether Scofield’s annotated version of the Protestant Bible is a “propaganda classic that has been working its evil for 100 years.”

        Littlewood wrote and DICKERSON3870 bolded:

        The idea was to change the Christian view of Zionism by creating and promoting a pro-Zionist sub-culture within Christianity.

        Where is the evidence for this? Is this what Halsell wrote? Was Scofield talking about Zionism as the Zionists were talking about it? Can anyone find a trusted source, since wiki is not here, that dates the use of the term “Christian Zionism”?

        The Wiki article on C.I. Scofield states, “Scofield’s notes teach futurism and dispensationalism, a theology that was in part conceived in the early nineteenth century by the Anglo-Irish clergyman John Nelson Darby, who like Scofield had also been trained as a lawyer. Dispensationalism emphasizes the distinctions between the New Testament Church and ancient Israel of the Old Testament…. It was largely through the influence of Scofield’s notes that dispensational premillennialism became influential among fundamentalist Christians in the United States, and these notes became a significant source for popular religious writers such as Hal Lindsey.”

        Although Annie, you don’t trust wiki with anything involving Israel, was there anything in the wiki article on “Dispensationalism” that led you to suspect that it was inaccurate on that subject? I can’t believe you found anything controversial with the three statements in the article which mentioned Christian Zionism.

        Littlewood wrote and DICKERSON3870 bolded:

        It [the Scofield bible] introduced a new worship icon, the modern State of Israel, which did not exist until 1948 but was already being ‘prepped’ on the drawing board of the World Zionist movement.

        Mooser, where are you? Talk about traveling in time. Do any of you serious believe this statement is true?

        Littlewood wrote and DICKERSON3870 bolded:

        It [the Scofield Bible] appealed to the impressionable and was seized on by religious chancers who have used inappropriate methods to establish a large and dangerously un-Christian fringe to the Christianity movement. They call themselves Christian Zionists.

        I’d be slightly reluctant to call the largest segment of American Christianity, an “un-Christian fringe to the Christianity movement,” even though many European Christians have told me just that.

        Littlewood wrote and DICKERSON3870 bolded:

        Those pseudo-Christians, who would have us all believe that God is some kind of racist real estate agent, thereafter made her life a misery. . .

        I don’t doubt that American Christian Zionists did make Halsell’s life a misery, but I’m not sure calling them pseudo-Christians solves the problem.

        In conclusion, I regret the line about Halsell, whom I would like to learn more about, but I insist that it is Littlewood and DICKERSON3870 who have done harm to her memory.

      • Bruce
        October 27, 2012, 8:42 pm

        @ Annie

        After reading your initial comment to me, I did read the Amazon reviews.

        See my reply to you and MRW.

      • Bruce
        October 27, 2012, 9:03 pm

        @ MRW

        Are you willing to provide any sources for your re-telling of Begin and Fallwell? Would like to read more of this before commenting.

        Am I correct in assuming that you like the same meaning of “Zionese” as American, “Zionese is the unofficial spoken language of the State of Israel. Most Israelis learn and use the Zionese language, but one need not be Jewish to speak it; today it is also the language that’s spoken in many Judeo-Christian and Messianic churches in America, often without church leaders realizing it.”

        Could you tell me which big “Zionese churches” are run by Jews?

        Also, you discuss Sam Untermeyr and Cyrus Scofield. When I google “Sam Untermeyr paid for Cyrus Scofield,” your comment here is the only result that comes up. When I google, “Sam Untermeyr and Cyrus Scofield” some ugly results show up, such as Scofield, Darby, Dispensationalism, The Rapture and the Zionists. I would quote from this article, but it would never pass the New Comments Policy of Mondoweiss. Would you also provide some references that discuss Untermeyr and Scofield’s relationship?

      • Klaus Bloemker
        October 27, 2012, 9:23 pm

        “‘My dear, have you forgotten the Holocaust?’ She [Mrs. Sulzberger] felt that what happened in Nazi Germany to Jews several decades earlier should silence any criticism of the Jewish state. ” – Grace Halsell
        —————————————————
        My impression is that American Jews put more stress on the Holocaust as the rationale for Israel’s existence and legitimacy than the Israeli Jews themselves.

        This became apparent in Obama’s speech in Cairo where he talked about the “Jewish tragedy” and Israel’s existence. His speechwriters must have written that from the point of view of the American Jews. – But that angered, even infuriated many Israelis who see their state’s legitimacy (and the uprooting of the Palestiniens) based on something else.

      • MRW
        October 28, 2012, 4:38 am

        @Bruce

        @ MRW

        Are you willing to provide any sources for your re-telling of Begin and Fallwell? Would like to read more of this before commenting

        Teddy Kolleck Jr. I was in the room. Sorry you weren’t there.

        Could you tell me which big “Zionese churches” are run by Jews?

        Sure. link to mcleanbible.org (One of many)

      • Annie Robbins
        October 28, 2012, 8:05 am

        bruce, the executive director of hagee’s org, christians united for israel (CUFI) is jewish.

        link to cufi.org

        he’s also Ehud Barak’s cousin.

        link to web.archive.org

      • Mooser
        October 28, 2012, 1:01 pm

        “The Littlewood article quoted and your inclusion of bold type are just terrible, and quite misleading”

        Bruce, I hate to be a nag, but what did I tell you yesterday? I told you that changing relationships and perceptions in the present will change the past. And you get to see it happen right in front of your eyes at Mondoweiss! You have a box seat for it.
        You can, of course if you want, beat your head against this congnitive wall if you like. I used to, but I’ve given up. Oh, I don’t think I’ll grow to love the process, but I’ll get used to it.

        Why Bruce, what kind of a past did you think Zionism would bring us?

      • Donald
        October 28, 2012, 1:14 pm

        I grew up taking Christian Zionism for granted–everyone seemed to have read Hal Lindsay’s “The Late Great Planet Earth” or else knew about it. I read it. There were also a couple of lurid end-times novels (similar to the Left Behind novels) by someone named Salem Kirban that I also read. But I don’t know the detailed history of how Christian Zionism came into such prominence. But it was part of my background, not that everyone necessarily knew that much about it. I was a bookish kid.

        Here’s an interesting link I found via googling–

        national humanities center

        The writer, Randall Balmer, is a professor of American religious history at Barnard. Towards the end of the piece he recommends a couple of books by Timothy Weber, one of them entitled “On the Road to Armageddon: How Evangelicals Became Israel’s Best Friend.” Which sounds relevant.

        Okay, a bit more googling turned up this article by Timothy Weber based on the book above–

        beliefnet article on the history of Christian Zionism

      • gamal
        October 28, 2012, 1:16 pm

        Also she wrote “Politics and Prophecy”, i have a copy its no longer in print i think, which was specifically about the then “secret alliance” between some forms of evangelical Christianity and Israel. I thought she wrote another one I/P, Forcing Gods hand, which makes me think that i may have confused these two titles. In one she accompanied a American Christian tour of the WB, its very interesting.

        I recently gave my copy of Soul Sister to a black feminist who was blown away by it, the cover illustration, a photograph of the black Halsell, is very striking, if I remember correctly she took some medication which affected her liver function or something to turn her skin dark, long time since i read it.

        Anyone disparaging Halsell as writer on these things isnt worth reading, in my humble opinion.

      • Mooser
        October 28, 2012, 1:32 pm

        “bruce, the executive director of hagee’s org, christians united for israel (CUFI) is jewish.
        he’s also Ehud Barak’s cousin.”

        Jeez, Annie, you had to fire both barrels?

      • Annie Robbins
        October 28, 2012, 1:33 pm

        10 used from 4.99 to like new for $135.00. or 2 new ones, $40 or 195.56.

        link to amazon.com

      • Annie Robbins
        October 28, 2012, 1:43 pm

        donald, here’s a link to jpost that gives you and idea of the timing.

        link to jpost.com

        “I made a call to Reuben to ask if I could meet with Begin again the next day because I knew why I came. Begin took the meeting, and this time when he asked me, ‘Why did you come?’ I said, ‘To build a bridge.’” He says Begin initially laughed, saying sarcastically, “You want to build the Brooklyn Bridge?” Evans replied, “No, to build a bridge between Christian Zionists who believe in the Bible and the Jewish people. A bridge of light.”

        “Lovely,” Begin said. “I get it. Let’s build a bridge together.”

        “That was how we began,” says Evans. “He was the bridge-builder and I was his assistant. That’s how modern Christian Zionism was birthed – through Menachem Begin. He is father of the modern Christian Zionist movement.”

        the next year begin gave farwell the Jabotinsky award, which was a really big deal.

      • Donald
        October 28, 2012, 1:57 pm

        I couldn’t figure out exact dates from that Jpost article. Hal Lindsay’s book was from about 1972. The link I provided (the beliefnet article) says that Israeli government was really strongly linked with the Christian Zionists in the 80’s, but someone named Yona Malachy was sent over by the Israeli government to study fundamentalism in America to see what the possibilities were of a political alliance. It sounded like that might have been soon after the 67 war, but that part of the article wasn’t completely clear to me.

        Anyway, roughly speaking, Christian Zionists had been around a long time, but the Israeli government started thinking about forming an alliance with them sometime after the 67 war (when exactly I’m not clear) and it was pretty strong by the 1980’s.

      • Bruce
        October 28, 2012, 2:01 pm

        @ Mooser

        Nag away. I deserve it.

        I’m giving up my box seat to sit out in the left-field bleachers.

        Why Bruce, what kind of a past did you think Zionism would bring us?

        I never thought this Zionism thing would amount to much. Couldn’t imagine it would get synthesized into what you call Ziocaine. Who would have predicted back then that Begin & Fallwell would end up more stylish than Abercombie & Fitch.

      • Mooser
        October 28, 2012, 2:31 pm

        “I’m giving up my box seat to sit out in the left-field bleachers.”

        I’m with ya’ man! This is 2012. Anywhere I hang my laptop is home.

      • MRW
        October 28, 2012, 4:05 pm

        Correct, annie. But I also know for a fact that Begin and Shamir decided to destroy Carter from within his church. They needed to split the Christians. That was the impetus. ‘To get the fucker’. They felt they had to get him out of office, or he would create a Palestinian state in his second term. They were up to their old 1940s tricks. How do I know? (So Bruce won’t waste a post.) Because I heard it from the insiders before it happened. Mike Evans can take the credit, but it was already in play before 1979 (per JPost…great catch BTW). How do I know? I HEARD IT.

      • Bruce
        October 28, 2012, 4:43 pm

        @ MRW

        Lon Soloman is the best you can do? He found Jesus in 1971 and his church had been around before that.

        What about the Sam Untermeyr financing Cyrus Scofield source?

      • Bruce
        October 28, 2012, 4:49 pm

        @ Annie Robbins

        I also have now read Haskell’s reports at the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, which includes the article you recommend and quote. They give a fairly broad view of her positions.

        “What Christians Don’t Know About Israel” is most interesting for experience in trying to get the book published.

      • Annie Robbins
        October 28, 2012, 5:10 pm

        Jeez, Annie, you had to fire both barrels?

        well, i could have fired 3. didn’t bother going out of my way to mention CUFI is the creme de la creme of the xtian zio fruitcakes orgs. you don’t get more top notch in that field, they lead the pack.

      • Annie Robbins
        October 28, 2012, 5:21 pm

        donald, the Israeli government started thinking about forming an alliance with them sometime after the 67 war (when exactly I’m not clear) and it was pretty strong by the 1980′s.

        quick google search came up w/:

        1978: “…a Likud plan to encourage fundamentalist churches to give their support to Israel” was published. The Likud is a conservative party in Israel; as of 2002-JUL, they are the leading party in a coalition government. The guide was written by Yona Malachy, and was titled “American Fundamentalism and Israel: The Relation of Fundamentalist Churches to Zionism and the State of Israel.” It was published by the Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

        link to amazon.com

        here’s another article i just found googling around, it mentions 67 but only in background. by Clifford Kiracofe, professor at the Virginia Military Institute. from 2002: link to home.alphalink.com.au

        The relevant background on the Israeli link to American Christian Zionists dates to the 1967 war. In the wake of the war, extremist elements in Israel formed the Movement for Greater Israel, and the settler movement that established Kiryat Arba near Hebron. The extremist Gush Emunim settler organization grew out of this environment. In the years after 1967, the Gush Emunim became the leading edge of the Israeli new right. There were three components of this new right: Labor Party factions supporting the Movement for Greater Israel, the new religious-nationalist activists, and the old-line Jabotinsky nationalist right converted into the Begin-led Herut Party. From 1974 to 1977, three Labor Party leaders vied for supremacy, and each had his Gush Emunim supporter within his ministry. Prime Minister Rabin had General Ariel Sharon as his special adviser.

        Defense Minister Shimon Peres had Yuval Neeman, later leader of the pro-Gush Emunim Hatechiyah Party. Foreign Minister Yigal Allon was the patron of the fanatic settler network behind Kiryat Arba. By the time Likud came to power in 1977, the power of the Gush Emunim over the government was complete because Begin was a long-time supporter of the settler movement. In the United States, however, the Carter administration attempted to pursue a more evenhanded policy in the Middle East in the face of an omnipotent domestic Zionist lobby. So hard-line Jewish Zionist intellectuals formerly associated with the Democratic Party adopted a new stance. They repackaged themselves as neoconservatives in order to penetrate the Republican Party foreign policy network with a view to the 1980 election and a potential victory for the US new right.

        …….

        After several years of organizational activity in the United States, the Christian Zionist lobby came out of the closet with its first National Prayer Breakfast for Israel held in Washington on Feb. 6, 1985. The event attracted many key political personalities and supporters.

        “A sense of history, poetry and morality imbued the Christian Zionists who more than a century ago began to write, plan and organize for Israel’s restoration,” said the featured breakfast speaker. “The writings of Christian Zionists, British and American, directly influenced the thinking of such pivotal leaders as Lloyd George, Arthur Balfour and Woodrow Wilson.” The guest speaker was the Israeli UN ambassador, Benjamin Netanyahu. Over the past decade, the so-called National Unity Coalition for Israel (NUCI) emerged as an important lobbying arm of the American Christian Zionists. It is not surprising that this organization has close links to the ICEJ, to neoconservatives in Washington think tanks and to neoconservative operatives inside the Bush administration.

        there’s a lot more in that article

      • MRW
        October 28, 2012, 5:35 pm

        @Bruce,

        From Scofield’s biography and here: link to whtt.org

      • Annie Robbins
        October 29, 2012, 10:27 am

        roughly speaking, Christian Zionists had been around a long time,

        not really. there may have been a few people on the fringe but they were not a political force as as far as i know. i posit the term wasn’t even coined until sometime in the 70’s or 80’s. the history of christian zionism as a political force didn’t come about til at least the 80’s, after the rise of the christian right within the republican party.

        link to en.wikipedia.org

        The Christian right has been a notable force in both the Republican party and American politics since the late 1970s, when Baptist pastor Jerry Falwell and other Christian leaders began to urge conservative Christians to involve themselves in the political process. In response to the rise of the Christian right, the 1980 Republican Party platform assumed a number of its positions

        conservatism was different in the 60’s, it was the party of goldwater. john dean wrote a book

        link to amazon.com

        In Conservatives Without Conscience, John Dean, who served as White House counsel under Richard Nixon and then helped to break the Watergate scandal with his testimony before the Senate, takes a vivid and analytical look at a Republican Party that has changed drastically from the conservative movement that he joined in the mid-1960s as an admirer of Senator Barry Goldwater.

        …..
        In his seventh book, Dean, the former Nixon legal counsel whom the FBI has called the “master manipulator” of the Watergate coverup, weighs in with a rebuke to Christian fundamentalists and other right-wing hard-liners. A self-described Goldwater conservative (indeed, Goldwater had planned to collaborate on this book before his death), he rails against the influence of social conservatives and neoconservatives within his party

        i have not read the book, but there was a big change in this country, and christian zionism, a term virtually unknown and unheard of (albeit with earlier fringe roots) in the 60’s. but i am opened to being convinced otherwise if someone can point me to a source published before 1970’s using the term ‘christian zionism’.

      • Donald
        October 29, 2012, 4:28 pm

        “not really. there may have been a few people on the fringe but they were not a political force as as far as i know. ”

        I wasn’t talking about Christian Zionists as a political force. I agree that as best I can tell that started in the 80’s or sometime around then, both from what I’ve read and also from what I can actually remember. I don’t remember ever hearing that term growing up–Christian Zionism–but I was one in the early 70’s, when I was a teenager, after reading “The Late Great Planet Earth”. The idea that the birth of Israel in 1948 started us on a countdown to Armageddon was prevalent in the 70’s–I remember reading a story in the local paper about someone who had figured out when the world was going to end based on Israel’s rebirth and the length of time he thought Jesus meant when he used the term “this generation” . So these ideas (using the term loosely) were percolating in conservative Christian circles in the early 70’s and I know, because I was there. Politically it might not have been influential until later.

        Hal Lindsay is still around, btw–I saw him on cable for a minute just yesterday (one minute was all I could stand).

  7. homingpigeon
    October 27, 2012, 3:35 am

    Last time I read something he wrote, Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch propagandized for the Crusades as a Christian defense against Islam. That premise aside, I’m wondering how his Jewish allies relate to him on the matter of Crusader massacres of Jewish communities along their march from Europe to Jerusalem.

    • Mooser
      October 28, 2012, 1:03 pm

      “That premise aside, I’m wondering how his Jewish allies relate to him on the matter of Crusader massacres of Jewish communities along their march from Europe to Jerusalem.”

      Oh, I’m sure they don’t mind. God, you know, is the great sorter-outer. All those collaterally damaged Jews are in heaven.

  8. LeaNder
    October 27, 2012, 8:24 am

    Thanks for this, Alex.

    • Mooser
      October 28, 2012, 1:24 pm

      Said it about half-a-dozen times before, and I’ll say it again. Here I go: In his reporting, Alex Kane goes from strength to strength.

  9. Stephen Shenfield
    October 27, 2012, 6:05 pm

    Without disagreeing with anything said here, I would like to add a caveat. Just as Zionists use accusations of anti-Semitism to discredit their critics, so do Moslem bigots use accusations of Islamophobia to discredit anyone who criticizes them. Great care is needed to define the boundary between anti-Moslem bigotry and legitimate criticism of Islam and political forces that speak in the name of Islam. Here is a very pertinent interview with an Algerian feminist:

    link to europe-solidaire.org

    • Annie Robbins
      October 27, 2012, 6:47 pm

      Moslem bigots use accusations of Islamophobia to discredit anyone who criticizes them

      stephen, could you give us an example please. your source doesn’t provide one. thanks

      • Stephen Shenfield
        October 28, 2012, 9:34 am

        Evidently she did not feel the need to provide sources because in her own country, Algeria, and in other countries where Islamist forces are active the practice is so widespread as to be common knowledge. However, I shall respond to your request by focusing on two writers whose works are well known in the West and whose commitment to progressive values can hardly be questioned by any well-informed and fair-minded person — the Egyptian physician, writer and feminist Nawal El Saadawi and the British writer Salman Rushdie. Both these writers (as well as many others of equal integrity but less well known or completely unknown in the West) are routinely condemned by Islamists as “Islamophobes.” For example, on one of the sites of the Moslem Students’ Association link to msaucr.com you will see that a lecture was delivered to Moslem students entitled “Challenging an Islamophobe: Nawal El Saadawi.” Other examples can easily be found by jointly googling “Islamophobe” and the name of the writer concerned.

      • Annie Robbins
        October 29, 2012, 9:24 am

        For example, on one of the sites of the Moslem Students’ Association
        you will see that a lecture was delivered to Moslem students entitled “Challenging an Islamophobe: Nawal El Saadawi.”

        actually what i saw was a list of events.

        · Hip Hop Performance by ManifestOne

        · Challenging an Islamophobe, Nawal El Saadawi

        · Women’s Rights in Islam – Lecture

        · Fajr Prayer at the Beach

        · And more …

        how do you know Nawal El Saadawi was not the featured speaker and this was the name of her lecture? can you please direct me to any report as an example of these false accusations? i am asking you sincerely. false accusations of anti semitism (as well as the alleged ‘new’ anti semitism), is practically an industry. one we are all very familiar with them.

        you made a comparable, Just as Zionists use accusations of anti-Semitism, so i would appreciate if you can provide a least a couple examples. thanks. btw, i googled ‘Islamophobe, Nawal El Saadawi’ and could not find even one accusation against her.

        but it doesn’t have to be her. just a few examples the way i could easily find examples of false accusations of anti semitism toward president carter or norm or whatever.

      • Klaus Bloemker
        October 29, 2012, 10:45 am

        “a few examples … of false accusations”

        Annie –
        you provided one yourself by calling Islamophobes ‘racists’ – I consider that a false accusation ( I told you so).

      • Annie Robbins
        October 29, 2012, 10:51 am

        klaus, try copypasting stephen’s assertions above your allegations and then tell me how they apply please. you are just diverting by morphing the argument into something else. and while you’re at it why not link to our conversation so readers can see the context of your ridiculous allegation. thank you.

        and please excuse me in advance for not engaging you in this thread further over your diversion, i am actually interested in stephen providing context for his assertion which i think is a false equivalence. (see point scoring hasbara handbook)

        i would also like to note, once again, nothing in either of stephen’s supporting links offers one iota of evidence to support his assertion. i am not saying it couldn’t be true, i am just saying i have not heard of ‘Moslem bigots using accusations of Islamophobia to discredit anyone who criticizes them’, so either they do, or they don’t.

      • Annie Robbins
        October 29, 2012, 11:11 am

        ps, note how stephen *inadvertently classified the Muslim Students Assoc as bigoted?

        *(giving him the benefit of the doubt)

      • Klaus Bloemker
        October 29, 2012, 11:14 am

        “your ridiculous allegation” – (I agree, I was a bit joking concerning you.)
        ——-
        “i have not heard of ‘Moslem bigots using accusations of Islamophobia to discredit anyone who criticizes them’”

        I haven’t heard that either. The ‘Muslim bigot’ will discredit the critic of Islam by calling him a ‘racist’. – But this is not a joke.

      • Stephen Shenfield
        October 29, 2012, 8:43 pm

        Academically adequate research into the political uses made of the term “Islamophobia” would require time, facilities, and language knowledge that I lack (I don’t read Arabic, Farsi or Urdu).

        Here is a somewhat more solid example from the site of the International Humanist and Ethical Union — link to iheu.org. It is about how representatives of Islamic states have blocked criticism of human rights abuses in their countries at the United Nations Subcommission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. One of the means they use for this purpose is to smear those who try to raise these concerns as Islamophobes.

        Besides texts, we have the testimony of people with long personal experience of living in societies where Islamists are a major political force, like the interview with the Algerian feminist. Shouldn’t we treat this testimony as an important source of evidence in itself?

        In defense of the parallel I draw with the political uses made of the word “anti-Semitism,” I would refer to the Wikipedia discussion of definitions of “Islamophobia.” We find the same sort of vagueness, confusion and inconsistency as in definitions of “anti-Semitism.” Some definitions focus on fear or hatred of Moslems, others on fear or hatred of Islam. Some commentators claim that these two things are inextricably linked, while others insist that they must be distinguished. (I take the latter view, in part because I have liked and certainly not been afraid of most of the Moslems I have met, but yes, I am afraid of Islam as a religion.) Professor Fred Halliday suggests replacing “Islamophobia” by “anti-Moslemism” and I think that is a very good idea.

        The Runnymede Trust list eight views about Islam that they equate with Islamophobia. One is the view that Islam is sexist. Another is the view that Islam is “a violent political ideology rather than a religion” — although this is surely a false contrast, Islam being widely viewed as an inherently “political” religion. These views may be right or wrong — I think most of them are partly right and partly wrong — but labeling anyone who holds any of them as a hate-monger seems to me a dangerous attack on freedom of debate. Recall that the definition of “anti-Semitism” that was almost adopted by the EU also included a list of “anti-Semitic” statements about Jews, Judaism and Israel, some of which could not reasonably be called anti-Semitic at all.

        The situations look pretty similar to me. Both “anti-Semitism” and “Islamophobia” are vague and highly ambiguous labels, therefore susceptible to dubious political manipulations, but highly damaging to those on whom the labels are more or less arbitrarily hung.

      • Annie Robbins
        October 30, 2012, 10:15 pm

        hi stephen, i think perhaps we are having a basic miscommunication. the site you’ve linked to, although i have not done lots of poking around, is not an example of ‘Muslim bigots using accusations of Islamophobia to discredit anyone who criticizes them’. it is a site claiming they are the victims of this without actually providing the evidence, or linking to it. for example:

        link to iheu.org

        IHEU slams Islamic States for building an international crisis from nothing

        IHEU today received a very warm reception from an especially large number of Member States and UN institutions, as our representative slammed the various Islamic countries which have encouraged overreaction or violence in response to the video ‘Innocence of Muslims’.

        ……

        Human Rights Council 21st Session, 10 – 28 September 2012
        Speaker: IHEU Representative Josephine Macintosh, Tuesday 25 September 2012
        Agenda Item 9: Racism, racial intolerance and related forms of discrimination

        Incitement to violence in the name of religion

        Madam President

        We appeal to the member states of this Council and the wider international community to recognise that the limits to freedom of expression are already well-drawn in international law. Articles 19 and 20 of the ICCPR, drafted while the memory of the Holocaust was still fresh in our minds, set out very clear limits to what can be permitted if incitement to hatred and violence are to be effectively combated.

        The poorly-made video clip insulting Islam gained virtually no attention when it first appeared on the Internet in July and only became an international issue when publicised by the rabble-rousing Sheikh Khalad Abdalla, a host on the Islamist satellite-TV station al-Nas. The protests we are now hearing from many leaders in the Islamic world should therefore be seen for what they are – political expediency by states who wish to limit freedom of expression as a way of limiting opposition to their undemocratic and repressive regimes.

        there might be more to it than that, some might consider the video itself as a form of provocation. from the comments:

        While I agree that fanning the fires resulted in harm to all involved, I take exception to the IHEU ever present agenda of combining belief and action in order to produce a blanket indictment. I say this as an atheist and member of the IHEU. What the IHEU fails to recognize is the legitimacy of the hurt and anger over having something of deep importance to someone treated like trash. If the IHEU wants to accomplish it’s mission it must acknowledge the value of human feelings. It must be willing to differentiate between belief and action. The feelings of hurt and anger that resulted from having ones deeply held beliefs treated like trash,even if manipulated and magnified by a select few, should not be on trial here. Only those actions that resulted in harm to others ought to be considered.

        first of all, you did not give me an example of ‘Muslim bigots using accusations of Islamophobia to discredit anyone who criticizes them’, in fact there was no link to the other sides position at all.

        i’m not sure how this can compare to false accusations of anti semitism made against president carter or norm finklestien and accusations of this sort the hasbarists have turned into an orwellian form of performance art for the benefit of zionism.

        also, it implies, as did your earlier example of the Muslim Students’ Association, that the “Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). Representing 56 member states, mainly Muslim-majority countries,” iow those requesting, in Erdoğan’s words (i suppose he would be included also)”international legal regulations against attacks on what people deem sacred, on religion,” as bigoted. i am not here to get into a discussion on who’s most at fault over the islamophobic film (a film which offense was depicted as “nothing” by your source) nor am i here trying to engage you in a debate about freedom of speech or what “situations look pretty similar to”.

        i am merely asking you to provide an example of a) the muslim bigot, b) the accusation from the mouth of the bigot c) a link to the accusation. the way i might link to pamela gellar as an example of a bigot accusing someone of being an anti semite, someone..who is not. is that too much to ask? i know nothing about “the ethical union” but i do know it takes more than a name to be ethical.

        One of the means they use for this purpose is to smear those who try to raise these concerns as Islamophobes.

        link to the smear. so once again you have not provided the bigoted muslim accusing the innocent, only the allegation.

    • Ellen
      October 27, 2012, 6:58 pm

      Why butt in with a “caveat?”

      “they do it too!” is that the excuse you gave your mom after acting ugly and lying?

      Considering the level of nurtured Islamophobia in the US by media and other opinion makers (anyone seen the propaganda Homeland show?) leading to attacks on Muslim citizens and their places of worship and communities (including the murder of citizens believed to be Muslims) what do cries of Islamaphopia have to do with “Muslim bigots?”

      Go to YouTube and search “Ultimate redneck.” A creepy, Islamophobic and racist video like that which even insinuates violence against the POTUS would not last 10 min on YouTube if it were Judeophobic or calling for violence against those of the Jewish faith.

      Deal with truth. Your Hasabara efforts are insulting and disgraceful.

      • Stephen Shenfield
        October 28, 2012, 9:57 am

        I have never been a Zionist: I would have thought my articles and comments on this site make that obvious enough. On what basis do you perceive me as a Zionist seeking to excuse anti-Moslem bigotry? It wouldn’t by any chance have anything to do with me being Jewish, would it?

        In any case, I find your accusation that I am engaged in “Hasbara” i.e. Zionist propaganda as well as your general tone deeply insulting. I expect from you a public apology and self-criticism.

        One of the reasons you and many other Americans have such a limited understanding of this issue is that (apart from I/P) you are focused so strongly on one particular country, i.e., the United States, almost as though the rest of the world does not exist. Here in the USA Islamism is not a serious domestic problem, while I willingly acknowledge that anti-Moslem bigotry is. But in many countries the opposite is the case, e.g. North Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria. My orientation is that of a world citizen, even though I happen to be living in the US.

      • Mooser
        October 28, 2012, 3:33 pm

        “Here in the USA Islamism is not a serious domestic problem, while I willingly acknowledge that anti-Moslem bigotry is.But in many countries the opposite is the case, e.g. North Africa, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria. My orientation is that of a world citizen, even though I happen to be living in the US”

        Ach, I’m sorry for being so flip, Stephen. I wasn’t thinking about that whole clash-of-civilisations aspect of it. Thanks for reminding me.

      • Ellen
        October 28, 2012, 8:51 pm

        You are the one who brought up the question of you being a Zionist or not. I sure didn’t.

        I do not know what you are and did not even consider it. You did…and appear to have insulted yourself.

        I considered only your words and the typical pattern of Hasbara communication and debating. Your post displayed it all. It is disingenuous. And one does not need to BE a Zionist or Jewish to practice in Hasbara and it’s purpose.

        Putting words and thoughts into the mouths and keyboards of others — as you just did — also fits the pattern.

        Then going on, to aim at the person himself/herself with your assumptions of what they think, i.e. my background and my “limited understanding of the issue….” blah blah.

        That is just another way of simply saying that I suck while trying to sound reasoned in your denigration of another.

        BTW, I do not even live in the United States.

      • Stephen Shenfield
        October 29, 2012, 8:59 am

        I didn’t mean to support the simplistic idea of a “clash of civilizations” — I was just saying that the political situation is different in different countries and we should take that into account in forming our viewpoint.

      • Klaus Bloemker
        October 29, 2012, 10:56 am

        “I didn’t mean to support the simplistic idea of a ‘clash of civilizations'”
        – Stephen

        But I do. It’s the best ‘simplistic’ take on the post-Cold War world.

      • Mooser
        October 29, 2012, 11:09 am

        “I didn’t mean to support the simplistic idea of a “clash of civilizations”

        Thank Heaven for small favors.

      • Mooser
        October 29, 2012, 11:23 am

        “I expect from you a public apology and self-criticism.”

        And if it’s not sincere enough, you get turned over to Mrs. Mao. Then you’ll be sorry! You wanna end up in a re-education camp, Ellen?

      • Annie Robbins
        October 29, 2012, 11:23 am

        I expect from you a public apology and self-criticism.

        as soon as you can provide us with a few reasonable examples of your allegation (thus far you have provided nothing) one might find your expectations reasonable. as it is you’re just sounding a tad unhinged.

      • Stephen Shenfield
        October 29, 2012, 8:02 pm

        Hasbara means Israeli propaganda. How can I practice it if I do not support Israel? I don’t understand how one can be an anti-Zionist Hasbarist. Do you mean — inadvertently?

        I see that the point I made might also be made with the motive of excusing Israeli crimes. But that shows neither that the point is invalid in itself nor that I had that motive. The same thing can be said with very different motives. So if you want to suss out someone’s motive for saying something (though I don’t see why that is necessary), you do need to know something about them.

        I am sorry for assuming that you are an American.

      • Mooser
        October 28, 2012, 1:25 pm

        Stephen gives us the caveat, and Ellen wields the stick.

      • Mooser
        October 28, 2012, 2:37 pm

        And there’s the arch reply I didn’t have enough guts to press the “Post Comment” with my sarcastic warning of. Good for me.
        Fido goes to fetch his boner fides.

  10. MHughes976
    October 28, 2012, 10:39 am

    There are genuine crimes committed in the name of Islam, of course – some terrible. The BBC is just now reporting another suicide bombing of a church in Kaduna, a Christian-Muslim border town in Nigeria. But frantic and phobic reactions don’t help.
    The early streams of Christian Zionism were already flowing strongly before Scofield in later Victorian days. It seems to have been reviewers of Alexander Keith’s 1844 ‘Land of Israel’ who created the catchphrase ‘Land without a people for a people without a land’. Through this book and others an atmosphere appeared in which a Prime Minister and a Foreign Secretary, Lloyd George and Balfour, both strong CZs, could emerge and do such impressive things.
    I certainly don’t think that CZ is authentic Christianity but then authenticity judgements are not easy things. I do hope that the Nigerian bombers do not act on an authentic form of Islam, nor Jewish Zionists on an authentic form of Judaism.

  11. Mooser
    October 28, 2012, 2:50 pm

    “I do hope that the Nigerian bombers do not act on an authentic form of Islam, nor Jewish Zionists on an authentic form of Judaism.”

    Well, if so, I guess we will just have to settle for the inauthentic forms. Do you think God will notice? He’s pretty discerning, from what I’ve heard. And picky, too.

  12. gamal
    October 28, 2012, 3:10 pm

    “whose commitment to progressive values can hardly be questioned by any well-informed and fair-minded person”

    but surely your point is that everything can be questioned, or do all fairminded people agree, werent such statements accurately satirized in the well known 50 billion flies joke, and isnt this kind of thinking precisely a form fundamentalism, perhaps I am neither well informed or fairminded, I can live with that, and it is almost certainly true in many ways.

    Firstly conflating Saadawi and Rushdie, is a bit lax, or is it lox, you need to look more closely at Rushdie, my father, an Alim, famously said he would shelter him in his own house, whether he is progressive or not I wouldnt know, however some of his pronouncements are certainly open to criticism, both about Islam and other political issues. Saadawi, is an entirely different entity, i reviewed her then husbands novel nearly forty years ago for some magazine, he was tortured by the Egyptian regime of the day, I dont recall much about it other than his quite intense rendering of torture and some bad literary sex, the review was mixed. Saadawi is positions are rejected by certain Isalmists and not by others its a complex situation.

    Lets cut to the chase rather than engaging in my usual rambling, there is a problem with the formulations such as “Criticizing Islam”, “Criticizing Christianity, Judaism, Progressivism”,

    Firstly because they always rely on specific interpretations of such categories, which are in no way universal, there is no Islam in this sense that is amenable to examination, much less critical scrutiny.
    Secondly, er probably finally for this part, if one is to criticize say Judaism from where will one do this, what is the exalted vantage point that from which one could do this, there is no value free set of criteria from which to do this. This is not to say that one can not challenge specific interpretations both in their own terms and in terms of ideas and formulations external to them. This is called discourse and is what the world is made of.

    So the notion that Islamists in the Muslim world use the accusation of Islamophobia to silence criticism runs into one major problem, such charges would be meaningless in a Muslim society, the discourse there is of a different character, all these religio-racial-enthno-etc-phobias are a part of the western discourse. One would be much more likely, depending on what sort of Islamist one was dealing with to hear charges of heresy, spreading corruption or perhaps even pertinent considered responses drawing on all sorts of ideas both internal to and external to actual Islamic sources, as such. This is of course not to say that Islamists, Muslims etc are not perfectly valid entities for critical analysis, why not, but I would be interested in what you would consider a valid criticism of Islam, i assume from a progressive perspective, keeping in mind that for me there is no Islam separate from some specific interpretation, there is no Islam as such out there, in this sense of course there is no Quran either, or Hadith or Siraa, or anything that just sits there like a natural object. But i am always wiling to learn, it is interesting.

    Someone posted a link to a comment by a Naval College don of Islamic studies making the point that there is no Sharia either, do you see what I am getting at. Difference is a tough thing to integrate in to ones thinking. Saba Mahmoud was savagely criticized for her book on the womens piety movement because she questioned the universality of “Western” notions of self actualization etc.

    I have problem with the notion of truth existing outside any ideological structure, for fundamental philosophical reasons which need not detain us long, truth-value is obviously reliant on the criteria used to determine it, truth is if it is anything at an ideological expression, secondly if there is indeed some truth, that I am of course privy to, how does one account for those whose views and truths differ, what are they, heretics or malicious ideologues.

    So to summarize to engage in a process of inference, whose validity can not ever be unproblematically established, of chimeras, Such as Islam etc, is perhaps what all this discourse is, its fun though if you dont take it too seriously.
    I may have missed the point somewhere. Words can be very deluding.

    • Bruce
      October 28, 2012, 7:47 pm

      @ gamal

      Well stated!

    • Stephen Shenfield
      October 29, 2012, 9:33 am

      I don’t conflate Rushdie and Saadawi, I know they are rather different cases. I was only saying that the same smear technique is used against them both. Just as those smeared as anti-Semites for opposing Zionism do so from many different viewpoints.

      I think your point about the “Islamophobe” smear belonging to Western rather than Moslem discourse is a very good one. It is clearly a calque on terms like “homophobe.” I expect Islamists use it only when they are operating within the discourse of “Western” society.

      I realize that religions have varied interpretations. Texts can be interpreted literally or symbolically; there can be endless argument about what situations they do and do not apply to. I know that there are four main judicial schools in Islam and some of the differences among them are quite significant. But certain limits on interpretation are set by the belief that the Quran, Torah etc are in some sense divinely inspired. It is forbidden to interpret them in purely human terms.

      I accept that absolute truth is unattainable, but I consider some viewpoints closer to it than others and in that sense “superior.” The test of relative closeness to truth is experience, including scientific experiment and observation, and the taboo-free use of our minds to gather and analyze experience. However, unlike many other empiricists and rationalists, I do not identify the scientific mindset with European or Western civilization. There have been many scientific thinkers since ancient times in India, China and other regions of the world, while conversely the West has produced all sorts of harmful anti-scientific and pseudo-scientific doctrines.

      • gamal
        October 29, 2012, 5:33 pm

        thanks Stephen, I am going to go through your reply’s carefully, which is not my usual way of dealing with posts here. First i have to attend to something in appreciation of your post above be patient i have some little difficulties, being a refugee of a kind from all manner of forces, some of them Arab, and Muslim at the moment, but you raise, particularly in posts not addressing me directly some interesting dare i say crucial points, about Muhammad and Moses and interpretation. soon come.

      • aiman
        October 30, 2012, 11:51 pm

        “But certain limits on interpretation are set by the belief that the Quran, Torah etc are in some sense divinely inspired. It is forbidden to interpret them in purely human terms.”

        Isn’t that what a translation is? A human interpreting a text in a language or providing commentary. Also it might interest you to note that worst translations of the Qur’an — with the most human and modern political terms — come from Saudi Arabia. The most authentic translation of the Qur’an, The Message of the Qur’an, translated by Muhammad Asad, is banned there.

        I fear that many of your criticisms appear to be echoing Christopher Hitchens and are erroneous. Fundamentalism is not the religious “pure”, it is a modern problem. It is participants in a sociohistorical context who give meaning to the text (Khalid Abou El Fadl), even the Qur’an itself. Present-day contexts inform interpretations, there are no limits on interpretations. The only limits come from today’s Puritans who are the biggest enemies of justice. As in all traditions Islam has a range of thinkers from bad to good. The fall of the British Empire gave impetus to a number of thinkers who wished to articulate an ethical vision for communities looking for direction, and this is where many of these thinkers went wrong just like in Zionism. But there are always those who stood outside time itself, who never surrendered to power and resisted injustice, even from Muslims, and one of these great men was Muhammad Abduh.

  13. Klaus Bloemker
    October 28, 2012, 8:44 pm

    There is somthing wrong with the generalized term ‘Islamophobia’.
    I would think that the ‘phobia’ depends on …

    – the ethnicity of the Muslims (Arab or Turkish etc.)
    – how strict they are following their rituals and cultural rules (dress)
    – the number of Muslims in a country

    Here are some percentages of Muslims
    Germany – 5%
    France – 4%
    Swiss – 4%
    UK – 3%
    USA – o,6%

    Judging from these numbers one would assume that Islamophobia is lower in the US than it is in Europe. In Germany the Muslims are mostly Turks. In Britain Pakistani, in France Algerian. – I have no idea whether Islamophobia is in fact higher in the US than it is in European countries. – What Alex writes sounds convincing as all conspiracy theories (there is no real-life basis to this phobia – it’s all engineered.)

  14. subconscious
    October 29, 2012, 5:51 am

    The latest contribution of the “industry” is the new video “The Red Line,” one of the most extreme of recent Iranophobic productions. It’s going viral w/ more than 1.25 million YT hits in the 10 days since posting:
    link to youtube.com
    The writer/director/producer is identified as Rabbi Shraga Simmons,
    link to en.wikipedia.org
    who is affiliated w/ the settler-supporting Aish HaTorah w/ connections to the Clarion Fund,
    link to en.wikipedia.org

    Though hardly a surprise, the US politics of the video’s producers can be gleaned from the thumbs-up they give the “Obama Banned This Video” clip at their YT channel:
    link to youtube.com

    Unfortunately, the extremists behind these productions have managed to co-opt a couple of Iranian-Americans of some standing. The Red Line’s narrator is identified as the US-residing daughter of Siamak Pourzand, a dissident Iranian writer/journalist whose case was highlighted by various human rights orgs before he was driven to suicide in 2011:
    link to en.rsf.org
    link to pen.org
    link to unhcr.org
    link to hrw.org
    The 2011 Clarion Fund production “Iranium” was narrated by the Iranian-American actress Shohreh Aghdashloo:
    link to imdb.com

  15. Stephen Shenfield
    October 31, 2012, 8:44 am

    I would like to thank the participants who have explained aspects of the history of Islam. I admit being out of my depth in this area and quite possibly I have been over-influenced by Christopher Hitchens. So I won’t comment further on the subject.

    I have found a couple of examples of “Islamophobia” being used as a smear where I can cite the sort of direct evidence requested. It is necessary not just to find cases of a person being called an Islamophobe, but also to show that the person concerned is not an anti-Moslem bigot. I don’t deny that many of those called Islamophobes really are bigots.

    First, please consider this material from the site of Sheikh Yermami:

    link to sheikyermami.com

    Second, I noticed that the telejournalist Fareed Zakaria is often called an Islamophobe. For instance, see the review of Stephen Sheehi’s “Islamophobia: The Ideological Campaign Against Muslims” at link to weekly.ahram.org.eg
    Zakaria’s name is included here in a list of “mouthpieces of Islamophobia in the US” (presumably in the book too, though I haven’t checked). Now from listening to Zakaria’s broadcasts he seems to me a tolerant person. He returned an award sent him by the ADL in protest against the ADL’s opposition to the plan to build a “mosque” (actually an interfaith center) near Ground Zero. Is that the act of an anti-Moslem bigot? The Islamophobe charge appears to be related to his views about the stagnant nature of Arab and/or Moslem society. I haven’t explored the precise content of these views but it seems to me that whether valid or invalid they are legitimate intellectual positions and do not make him a bigot.

    German Lefty has posted information about another example from Germany, where a court decision against circumcision of minors without consent on human rights grounds has been attacked as both “anti-Semitic” and “Islamophobic” at the same time! This is neat because it highlights the susceptibility of both terms to arbitrary application.

    I would like to give examples from countries where Islamist forces are stronger, but as I said I don’t know the relevant languages. I am hoping others will fill that gap.