February 10, 2010 by ab
My name is Straw Man, and I’ve got a direct pipeline to the Oval Office.
Some people get quoted in presidential speeches by writing heartfelt letters to the president about personal loss, or by doing something heroic, like landing a plane in the icy Hudson River.
I just sit in the Oval Office, and mouth off to President Barack Obama, one inanity after the next. And sure enough, my words—word for word, mind you!—show up in his biggest speeches.
Who am I? Sotus—Straw man of the United States. I’m Mr. Obama’s most trusted rhetorical friend.
In his speeches, Mr. Obama says there are “those” who suggest we “can meet our enormous tests with half-steps and piecemeal measures.” He suggests there are “some” who are content to let America’s economy become, at best, “number two.” He says that on health care, “some people” think we should do nothing.
Listen, there is no “some people.” He’s just quoting me, Sotus.
Why, just a few weeks ago, I said: “Hey, Mr. President, you know, why don’t we just fight tired old battles, run up the deficit, and, you know, just chuck common sense to the wind?” Imagine my thrill when I heard Mr. Obama during the recent State of the Union: “Rather than fight the same tired battles that have dominated Washington for decades, it’s time to try something new. Let’s invest in our people without leaving them a mountain of debt. Let’s meet our responsibility to the citizens who sent us here. Let’s try common sense.” Ouch, Mr. President, you got me there!
And then there was the nice talk we had right before that historic January afternoon, when he was sworn in. I turned to him and said: “Mr. President-elect, our system of government can really only tolerate small plans, and limited ambitions.” Think how good it felt to hear my own words echoing across the Mall: “There are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short, for they have forgotten what this country has already done.” Good one, Mr. President!
A few days later, as we were shooting baskets, I said: “Mr. President, you know, I think that in the face of the biggest financial crisis in three generations, you should really do nothing.”
And sure enough, at a press conference on Feb. 9, 2009, he quoted me: “There seems to be a set of folks who—I don’t doubt their sincerity—who just believe that we should do nothing . . . I don’t think that’s what the American people expect, is for us to stand by and do nothing.” They don’t? Guess I lose again!
And you know, I’m not just about policy. I also care a lot about presidential leadership. My preference: Go slower. Do less. Don’t try so hard. Don’t care so much. Don’t be so bold.
Conservatives cry foul when they hear me quoted. They can’t imagine anyone is saying the things that Mr. Obama stands up as arguments that he proceeds to knock down. Of course, they haven’t met Sotus.
Some say Mr. Obama should make a stronger case for his opponents’ positions than his own. The cynics think straw-man arguments by definition prove that the speaker has no proof or logic on his side. Some would force presidential speechwriters to choose between a nifty setup for a zinger and boring rhetoric that puts audiences to sleep.
See, this straw man thing is pretty easy. I just rattled off three of them. Maybe I need to give some of this material to the big guy. He’s been saying he needs more material on false choices.
Mr. Neusner is a principal with 30 Point Strategies and was a speechwriter for President George W. Bush.
Understanding Taqiyya - Islamic
Principle of Lying for the Sake of Allah
30 April, 2007
Lying and cheating in the Arab world is
not really a moral matter but a method of safeguarding honor and
status, avoiding shame, and at all times exploiting possibilities,
for those with the wits for it, deftly and expeditiously to convert
shame into honor on their own account and vice versa for their
opponents. If honor so demands, lies and cheating may become
absolute imperatives.” [David Pryce-Jones, “The Closed
Circle” An interpretation of the Arabs, p4]
“No dishonor attaches to such primary transactions as
selling short weight, deceiving anyone about quality, quantity or
kind of goods, cheating at gambling, and bearing false witness. The
doer of these things is merely quicker off the mark than the next
fellow; owing him nothing, he is not to be blamed for taking what he can.” [David Pryce-Jones, “The Closed Circle”, p38]
The word "Taqiyya" literally means: "Concealing, precaution,
guarding.” It is employed in disguising one's beliefs, intentions,
convictions, ideas, feelings, opinions or strategies. In practical
terms it is manifested as dissimulation, lying, deceiving, vexing
and confounding with the intention of deflecting attention, foiling
or pre-emptive blocking. It is currently employed in fending off and
neutralising any criticism of Islam or Muslims.
Falsehoods told to prevent the denigration of Islam, to protect
oneself, or to promote the cause of Islam are sanctioned in the
Qur'an and Sunna, including lying under oath in testimony before a
court, deceiving by making distorted statements to the media such as
the claim that Islam is a “religion of peace”. A Muslim is even
permitted to deny or denounce his faith if, in so doing, he protects
or furthers the interests of Islam, so long as he remains faithful
to Islam in his heart. (See endnotes)
Like many Islamic practices, taqiyya was formed within the
context of the culture of Arab tribalism, expansionary warfare,
Bedouin raiding and inter-tribal conflict. Taqiyya has been used by
Muslims since the 7th century to confuse, confound and divide 'the
A favoured tactic was ‘deceptive triangulation’; used to persuade
the enemy that preparations for a raid were not aimed at them but at
another tribe altogether. The fate in store for the deceived enemy
target was an unexpected plunderous raid, enslavement of the women
and death to the post-pubescent males.
The core foundation of hyper-masculine Arab culture is bound up
in perceptions of "honour and shame". At all times, he (it's usually
a male) must avoid having his face "blackened" by words or actions
which are a slight upon, a challenge or affront to, his status in
the family or broader social / tribal group. To be open, frank and
forthright or to make self-damning admissions in his dealings
(particularly with the infidel enemy) is to leave himself open and
vulnerable to humiliating shame and to the subsequent disrespect
from his peers. Tongues will wag in the bazaar’s coffee shops and
rumours will rapidly spread that so-and-so has lost his "manliness"
and status. In short, he is no longer worthy of deferential respect;
to an Arab, this is worse than death itself.
The higher one is placed in the social order (or rather, on how
important the individual perceives himself to be), the more
imperative it becomes to strenuously avoid “loss of face”. The
male's perceived loss of honour and status, must be redressed and
his face "whitened", i.e. his honour regained and restored, at any
cost; even to the extent of (as in the honour killing of daughters)
murdering the person “responsible” for causing the initial
humiliation. When taqiyya is used to avoid making an admission or
concession it is simply an essential means of ensuring that ones
honour and standing remain intact and untarnished. Blood feuds and
vendettas, caused by an ancient humiliation of a long dead ancestor,
can persist, fuelled and propelled by shame and honour, for
generations. Muhammad, who is promoted as every Muslim’s exemplar,
set the precedent for vengeful retaliation when he ordered the
murder of those who mocked or satirised him and, as he was an Arab,
caused him potential loss of face. [See link, “Muhammad’s
Dead Poets Society”]
Islamic spokesmen commonly use taqiyya as a form of 'outwitting'.
The skilled taqiyya-tactician doesn’t want the matter at hand to be
debated or discussed; so his opponent must be outwitted or
preemptively outflanked by the use of taqiyya. The objective is to
divert attention away from the subject through duplicity and
The claim is often made that difficulties in translating from
Arabic to English makes the meaning of what they say or write
difficult or impossible to convey….this is simply another
subterfuge. Keysar Trad has repeatedly claimed that Sheikh Hilali’s
obnoxious, inflammatory and misogynistic comments have been
“mistranslated”, misquoted or “taken out of context”. The aim of
this ploy is to dilute or neutralise public opprobrium. The use of
independent translators has, in the past, disproved his assertions.
The Sheikh states what he believes to be correct according to
Islamic precepts and his “interpreter” reconfigures the statement to
make it palatable to the unwitting listener.
Consider the following statement by Mr. Trad on the February 24
Keysar Trad, president of the Islamic Friendship Association of
Australia, told Reuters that Australian Muslims
agreed with Costello's (Australia’s Treasurer, Peter Costello)
sentiments about being good, law abiding citizens.
"But to continually single out the Muslim community like this is
very unhelpful, it's very divisive and it does stir up
"We're proud to be Australian and our religion strongly
stipulates that if you make an oath, whether it's an oath of
citizenship or any other oath, that you honour it, abide by it."
However, the Prophet Muhammad seems to have a different idea on
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 67, Number 427:
“By Allah, and Allah willing, if I take an oath and later find
something else better than that. Then I do what is better and
expiate my oath.' "
Role playing as the victim:
When placed under scrutiny or criminal investigation, (even when
there is overwhelming, irrefutable evidence of guilt or complicity),
the taqiyya-tactician will quickly attempt to counter the allegation
by resorting to the claim that it is, in fact, the accused who are
the 'the victims'. Victims of Islamophobia, racism, religious
discrimination and intolerance. Currently, this is the most commonly
encountered form of distraction and 'outwitting'….. Defence by
Manipulative ambiguity and Semantics:
Sheik Hilali and the late Yasser Arafat are both on public record
as (a) 'condemning' the 9/11 attacks, in ambiguous terms, to the
Western media and (b) praising suicide bombings, or “ martyrdom
operations”, to their Arabic speaking audiences .
Islamic spokesmen will rarely unequivocally condemn a specific
act of terrorism and direct questions will be skillfully evaded.
(NB: because Muslims regard Islamic attacks as “jihad”, and not
terrorism, their spokesmen can truthfully deny any support for
Interviewers would be better advised to ask the more precise
question “do you believe in jihad against the unbelievers?
However, a direct question requiring a simple "YES" or "NO" reply
is rarely forthcoming and is usually deflected by responding with a
tangentially irrelevant rejoinder or, in an attempt to neutralise
the original question, counter-challenging with another question
such as “are you in favour of killing children in Iraq?”…..Touché
Diversion, deflection and "tu quoque”:
Questions relating to the 9/11 terrorist attacks will usually be
diverted by either making outrageously wild conspiracy claims “the
CIA did it to give the U.S. an excuse to attack Muslims,… Mossad was
the perpetrator… No Jews came to work at the World Trade Centre on
September 11” etc. or by making an irrelevant counter reference to
“the plight of the Palestinians”,.. Iraqis,.. colonialism,.. the
crusades, or US foreign policy’s support for Israel” as the 'root
causes' of terrorism.
Then, of course, there’s the ever popular, specious allegation
that George Bush is a bigger terrorist than Osama bin Laden.
Diversionary “tu quoque” response ploys usually start with the
words “but” or “what about…?” in an attempt to turn, and transfer an
equal culpability back on their interlocutor.
Islamic spokesmen practice a form of taqiyya defined in
psychology as 'cognitive denial' by repetitive and persistent
demands of 'where is the evidence!' and 'prove it!' whenever there
is Muslim complicity in terrorist acts, evidence, which they know
very well, for security or legal sub-judice restraints, can not be
disclosed. If indeed the “evidence” were to be publicly presented,
they would then move on to the familiar “prejudicial to the
defendant receiving a fair trial--grounds for a mistrial” default
Rather than admitting that a proposition concerning a subject
under discussion can be partly true, an Islamic spokesman will
flatly deny a claim or proposition in absolute terms. For example,
"It is impossible to be a Muslim and a terrorist”; this semantic
argument is purely a matter of definition, because radical Islamists
don’t define their violent attacks as terrorism, but jihad. (i.e.
holy war in the way of Allah) .Another popular assertion is that
'Islam forbids suicide', which is true, but by virtue once again of
definition, irrelevant, because suicide bombings are regarded as
“martyrdom operations” and are therefore not forbidden, but on the
contrary, admirable and praiseworthy. Muslim spokesmen are also fond
of using extreme hyperbole. Their refutations regularly include the
word “percent”. e.g. “I am 150% certain that Jews orchestrated
September 11”…. “I guarantee the accused is 200% innocent”.
Exploiting cognitive dissonance:
Islamic spokesmen regularly perplex and baffle interviewers and
their audiences as they resort to double talk, 'clichés and
platitudes' concerning Islam. A state of cognitive dissonance (i.e.
holding two contradictory beliefs and attempting to resolve them) is
therefore induced in viewers and readers as they attempt to mentally
process the claim that Islam is a peaceful religion despite the
indisputable evidence before them of Islamist involvement in
terrorist acts or criminal conduct.
The Islamic 'defence' script:
Islamic spokesmen repeat the same predictable duplicitous clichés
concerning Islam in Europe, as do their counterparts in Australia
and America. They appear to follow a well prepared script as they
repeat "Islam is tolerant and peace loving”. In instances where they
find themselves presented with, and cornered by, undeniable evidence
that murderous radicals are indeed guilty as charged the spokesman
will then fall back on the old chestnut that the culprits are only a
“small minority” and not “true Muslims” anyway. Islamic spokeswomen
use taqiyya when making the somewhat Orwellian claim that wearing
the hijab, niqab, burqa etc. is “liberating” and “empowering”, and
that, for reasons known only to them, these symbols of submissive
exclusion offer them more freedom than Western women, thereby
implying that women in Muslim countries are somehow 'freer' than
women in the West. This ruse is designed to preclude further
examination into the well documented inferior status of females in
Islamic societies. Being put on the spot, and having to admit their
true obedient and subservient status, would be embarrassing and
therefore shame inducing so resorting to denial and exaggerative
taqiyya is their only option.
There’s a common and oft repeated lie that “Islam” means peace”,
it doesn’t, it translates as “submission” (to Allah).
Islamic falsehoods are echoed uncritically by Western politicians
and other apologist dupes, for example "A small group of
fundamentalists have hijacked a great and noble religion”. This
timely, skilful, misleading and diversionary theme of the
'hijacking' of Islam was introduced into public, political and media
discourse by an Islamic 'spokesman' in the United States shortly
after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and has become an “accepted fact”
repeated, ad nauseum, ever since.
The "Islam has been hijacked” myth is now a clichéd media and
political reference which serves to deflect attention from the
empirical proof of a fourteen hundred year continuity of the
doctrinal, political and religious nature of Islamic jihad.
A related theme that “a small minority of Muslims are engaged in
terrorism” is utterly irrelevant as terrorism is always perpetrated
by 'small minorities' or more accurately small groups or cells.
Surveys consistently reveal that between 10-15% of all Muslims
sympathise with the aims and methodology of this radical strain of
Islam which has been “hijacked”. This means, that within an
estimated world population of 1.2 billion Muslims, there are 120-180
million people prepared to fund, facilitate and in general, give
moral and financial assistance to the jihadists….. “a small
The indisputable truth is that there has been no “hijacking” of
Islam. Islamic extremists can, and do, find ample inspiration,
justification and encouragement for their violent ideology in the
Quran and Hadith.
Taqiyya as impressions and perception management
Pathos and the tactical use of children:
Australian television viewers may recall that interviews with
terrorist suspects raided by ASIO (Australian Security Intelligence
Organisation) and AFP (Australian Federal Police) frequently
featured women in hijabs holding small children or a crying baby as
they plaintively protested their husband's innocence and attested to
his innate piety, decency and kind-hearted nature.
Trembling fingers and quavering voices pointed out damage,
disruption and disarray to the family home. In some interviews the
suspect / father holds the child, whilst denying any involvement in,
or knowledge of, radicalism .
Sheikh Hilali’s daughter, in a newspaper interview, played the
taqiyya pathos card by claiming that, because the cold northern
winter was imminent, her father was travelling to Lebanon to “hand
deliver” thousands of blankets to “orphanages” and homeless victims
of the war between Israel and Hizbollah.
In the same Israel /Hezbollah war, a photojournalist filmed a
Lebanese man, strewing, for the purpose of emotional impact, the
contents of a large cardboard box full of children’s stuffed toys
amongst the wreckage and debris. This was obviously for the benefit
of a large contingent of international TV film crews who were about
to be taken on a guided tour of the bombed buildings later that
Photos of carefully placed baby’s bibs and dummies (pacifiers)
also appeared to be extraordinarily abundant on the internet, as
were “staged” photos of a “body” being removed from the piles of
collapsed concrete. One sequence of photos clearly shows the “body”
in question, alive and well, walking around with his “rescuers”
before and after the “retrieval” of his dusty, “lifeless body”. This
is taqiyya by imagery!
The above are examples of taqiyya in the age of impressions and
perception management and are designed to, dupe, play on the
emotions of, and elicit sympathy from, the compassionate, unwitting
Taqiyya and the Deceptive definition of Jihad:
The contemporary political meaning of jihad is clear: it is
“Jihad of the sword” and not the peaceful internal struggle for
spiritual improvement as their spin-doctors would have us believe.
Islamic fundamentalists consider jihad to be the sixth pillar of
Islam, a binding duty and integral to the faith. Claiming that Jihad
is a subjective and psychological state to become a better person is
taqiyya. In contemporary terms, Jihad means – HOLY WAR - against the
unbelievers and it is in this context that Al Qaeda training manuals
and other radical preachers use and refer to jihad.
The study of taqiyya is crucial to an understanding of Islamic
fundamentalism and terrorism. Its use ranges from the issuing of
false terrorist threats, operational and strategic disinformation
issued by Al Qaeda in the form of 'intelligence chatter' for the
purpose of throwing national defence groups into confusion.
Terrorist in captivity resort to taqiyya during interrogation. It is
most frequently used by Muslim 'spokesmen' whilst intentionally
making misleading public statements concerning Islam and terrorism.
The Arabs have a story which exemplifies subtle, semantic
dissimulation (taqiyya) perfectly. Legend has it that Mohammed’s
nephew, son-in-law and future Caliph, Ali, was sitting on a stool
outside his dwelling when one of his allies ran red-faced and
gasping into the village and hid in Ali’s home. Perceiving that the
man was being pursued, Ali promptly got up and sat on another nearby
stool. A few minutes later, a group of angry pursuers ran into the
encampment and asked Ali if he had seen the man they were pursuing.
Ali responded with the statement “AS LONG AS I HAVE BEEN SITTING ON THIS STOOL I HAVE SEEN NO ONE”
This story demonstrates why nothing an Islamist says can be taken
at face value. Every statement and utterance needs to be thoroughly
analysed, or “unpacked”.
After yet another violent incident in Sydney, involving “Males of
Middle-Easter Appearance”, a spokesman for the Muslim community
appeared on a Sydney television evening newscast. In the brief
soundbight he defensively declared “our religion teaches us that we
must be kind to one another” ….and indeed it does, it simply depends
on how we are to interpret the words “one another”, as these verses
from the Quran demonstrate:
Muslims are harsh against the unbelievers, merciful to one
another. – (Q 48:25)
Muhammad is Allah's apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to
the unbelievers but merciful to one another.
Through them, Allah seeks to enrage the unbelievers*. – (Q48:29)
So, was this spokesman lying?
Or was he telling the truth?
The answer is both, YES,… and NO! –Or, perhaps neither, and if
you are confused by this apparent contradiction?,. You’re meant to
be, because he was practising taqiyya; ……where the devil is ALWAYS
in the detail.
* The precise identity of the “unbelievers” in the above
references requires no further explanation.
1. Imam Abu Hammid Ghazali says: "Speaking is a means to achieve
objectives. If a praiseworthy aim is attainable through both telling
the truth and lying, it is unlawful to accomplish through lying
because there is no need for it.
When it is possible to achieve such an aim by lying but not by
telling the truth, it is permissible to lie if attaining the goal is
permissible." (Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, The Reliance of the
Traveller, translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, amana publications,
1997, section r8.2, page 745)
2. Bukhari Vol 3: 857 “Narrated Um Kulthum bint Uqba”:
That she heard Allah's Apostle saying, "He who makes peace
between the people by inventing good information or saying good
things, is not a liar."
3. Bukhari Vol 4: 269 “Narrated Jabir bin 'Abdullah: The Prophet
said, "War is deceit."
4. Bukhari Vol 5: 668 “Narrated Zahdam:
“When Abu Musa arrived (at Kufa as a governor) he honored this
family of Jarm (by paying them a visit). I was sitting near to him,
and he was eating chicken as his lunch, and there was a man sitting
amongst the people. Abu Musa invited the man to the lunch, but the
latter said, "I saw chickens (eating something (dirty) so I consider
them unclean." Abu Musa said, "Come on! I saw the Prophet eating it
(i.e. chicken)." The man said "I have taken an oath that I will not
ea (chicken)" Abu Musa said." Come on! I will tell you about your
oath. We, a group of Al-Ash'ariyin people went to the Prophet and
asked him to give us something to ride, but the Prophet refused.
Then we asked him for the second time to give us something to ride,
but the Prophet took an oath that he would not give us anything to
ride. After a while, some camels of booty were brought to the
Prophet and he ordered that five camels be given to us. When we took
those camels we said, "We have made the Prophet forget his oath, and
we will not be successful after that." So I went to the Prophet and
said, "O Allah's Apostle ! You took an oath that you would not give
us anything to ride, but you have given us." He said, "Yes, for if I
take an oath and later I see a better solution than that, I act on
the later and gave the expiation of that oath"
5. Bukhari Vol 6: 138 Narrated Aisha:
“That her father (Abu Bakr) never broke his oath till Allah
revealed the order of the legal expiation for oath. Abu Bakr said,
"If I ever take an oath (to do something) and later find that to do
something else is better, then I accept Allah's permission and do
that which is better, (and do the legal expiation for my oath ) ".
First Day of Rosh Hashanah 2010
By Rabbi Shalom Lewis
Many years ago a Chassid used to travel from shtetl to shtetl selling holy books. On one occasion he came to a wealthy land owner and asked if he would like to purchase a book of Torah teachings. The banker agreed and not only purchased the book, but paid for it with a hundred ruble note. He then began to chat with the Chassid and offered him a cigar, taking one also for himself. The Chassid noticed that the banker proceeded to rip a page from the holy book he had just bought and holding it to the open flame on the stove, used the page to light his cigar. The Chassid said not a word but simply drew out from his pocket the 100 ruble note he had just received from the banker, held it over the stove as well and used it to light his cigar.
This simple, little tale reflects a profound divergence of values. Our sympathy clearly and instinctively is not with the banker but with the pious Chassid. None of us would come to the defense of the banker. None of us would claim moral supremacy for the banker. None of us would justify his boorish deed. As the sages of the Talmud would say – “Pshita – It is so obvious.” Sadly though our planet is immersed in perversity where morality is not so manifest – where the book burner is a hero and the pious one, a villain.
I thought long and I thought hard on whether to deliver the sermon I am about to share. We all wish to bounce happily out of shul on the High Holidays, filled with warm fuzzies, ready to gobble up our brisket, our honey cakes and our kugel. We want to be shaken and stirred – but not too much. We want to be guiltschlepped – but not too much. We want to be provoked but not too much. We want to be transformed but not too much.
I get it, but as a rabbi I have a compelling obligation, a responsibility to articulate what is in my heart and what I passionately believe must be said and must be heard. And so, I am guided not by what is easy to say but by what is painful to express. I am guided not by the frivolous but by the serious. I am guided not by delicacy but by urgency.
We are at war. We are at war with an enemy as savage, as voracious, as heartless as the Nazis but one wouldn’t know it from our behavior. During WWII we didn’t refer to storm troopers as freedom fighters. We didn’t call the Gestapo, militants. We didn’t see the attacks on our Merchant Marine as acts by rogue sailors. We did not justify the Nazis rise to power as our fault. We did not grovel before the Nazis, thumping our hearts and confessing to abusing and mistreating and humiliating the German people. We did not apologize for Dresden, nor for The Battle of the Bulge, nor for El Alamein, nor for D-Day.
Evil – ultimate, irreconcilable, evil threatened us and Roosevelt and Churchill had moral clarity and an exquisite understanding of what was at stake. It was not just the Sudetenland, not just Tubruk, not just Vienna, not just Casablanca. It was the entire planet. Read history and be shocked at how frighteningly close Hitler came to creating a Pax Germana on every continent.
Not all Germans were Nazis – most were decent, most were revolted by the Third Reich, most were good citizens hoisting a beer, earning a living and tucking in their children at night. But, too many looked away, too many cried out in lame defense – I didn’t know.” Too many were silent. Guilt absolutely falls upon those who committed the atrocities, but responsibility and guilt falls upon those who did nothing as well. Fault was not just with the goose steppers but with those who pulled the curtains shut, said and did nothing. In WWII we won because we got it. We understood who the enemy was and we knew that the end had to be unconditional and absolute. We did not stumble around worrying about offending the Nazis. We did not measure every word so as not to upset our foe. We built planes and tanks and battleships and went to war to win….. to rid the world of malevolence.
We are at war… yet too many stubbornly and foolishly don’t put the pieces together and refuse to identify the evil doers. We are circumspect and disgracefully politically correct.
Let me mince no words in saying that from Fort Hood to Bali, from Times Square to London, from Madrid to Mumbai, from 9/11 to Gaza, the murderers, the barbarians are radical Islamists. To camouflage their identity is sedition. To excuse their deeds is contemptible. To mask their intentions is unconscionable.
A few years ago I visited Lithuania on a Jewish genealogical tour. It was a stunning journey and a very personal, spiritual pilgrimage. When we visited Kovno we davened Maariv at the only remaining shul in the city. Before the war there were thirty-seven shuls for 38,000 Jews. Now only one, a shrinking, gray congregation. We made minyon for the handful of aged worshippers in the Choral Synagogue, a once majestic, jewel in Kovno.
After my return home I visited Cherry Hill for Shabbos. At the oneg an elderly family friend, Joe Magun, came over to me.
“Shalom,” he said. “Your abba told me you just came back from Lithuania.” “Yes,” I replied. “It was quite a powerful experience.” “Did you visit the Choral Synagogue in Kovno? The one with the big arch in the courtyard?” “Yes, I did. In fact, we helped them make minyon.” His eyes opened wide in joy at our shared memory. For a moment he gazed into the distance and then, he returned. “Shalom, I grew up only a few feet away from the arch. The Choral Synagogue was where I davened as a child.”
He paused for a moment and once again was lost in the past. His smile faded. Pain filled his wrinkled face. “I remember one Shabbos in 1938 when Vladimir Jabotinsky came to the shul” (Jabotinsky was Menachim Begin’s mentor – he was a fiery orator, an unflinching Zionist radical, whose politics were to the far right.) Joe continued “When Jabotinsky came, he delivered the drash on Shabbos morning and I can still hear his words burning in my ears. He climbed up to the shtender, stared at us from the bima, glared at us with eyes full of fire and cried out. ‘EHR KUMT. YIDN FARLAWST AYER SHTETL – He’s coming. Jews abandon your city.’ ”
We thought we were safe in Lithuania from the Nazis, from Hitler. We had lived there, thrived for a thousand years but Jabotinsky was right -- his warning prophetic. We got out but most did not.”
We are not in Lithuania. It is not the 1930s. There is no Luftwaffe overhead. No U-boats off the coast of long Island. No Panzer divisions on our borders. But make no mistake; we are under attack – our values, our tolerance, our freedom, our virtue, our land.
Now before some folks roll their eyes and glance at their watches let me state emphatically, unmistakably – I have no pathology of hate, nor am I a manic Paul Revere, galloping through the countryside. I am not a pessimist, nor prone to panic attacks. I am a lover of humanity, all humanity. Whether they worship in a synagogue, a church, a mosque, a temple or don’t worship at all. I have no bone of bigotry in my body, but what I do have is hatred for those who hate, intolerance for those who are intolerant, and a guiltless, unstoppable obsession to see evil eradicated.
Today the enemy is radical Islam but it must be said sadly and reluctantly that there are unwitting, coconspirators who strengthen the hands of the evil doers. Let me state that the overwhelming number of Muslims are good Muslims, fine human beings who want nothing more than a Jeep Cherokee in their driveway, a flat screen TV on their wall and a good education for their children, but these good Muslims have an obligation to destiny, to decency that thus far for the most part they have avoided. The Kulturkampf is not only external but internal as well. The good Muslims must sponsor rallies in Times Square, in Trafalgar Square, in the UN Plaza, on the Champs Elysee, in Mecca condemning terrorism, denouncing unequivocally the slaughter of the innocent. Thus far, they have not. The good Muslims must place ads in the NY Times. They must buy time on network TV, on cable stations, in the Jerusalem Post, in Le Monde, in Al Watan, on Al Jazeera condemning terrorism, denouncing unequivocally the slaughter of the innocent – thus far, they have not. Their silence allows the vicious to tarnish Islam and define it.
Brutal acts of commission and yawning acts of omission both strengthen the hand of the devil.
I recall a conversation with my father shortly before he died that helped me understand how perilous and how broken is our world; that we are living on the narrow seam of civilization and moral oblivion. Knowing he had little time left he shared the following – “Shal. I am ready to leave this earth. Sure I’d like to live a little longer, see a few more sunrises, but truthfully, I’ve had it. I’m done. Finished. I hope the Good Lord takes me soon because I am unable to live in this world knowing what it has become.”
This startling admission of moral exhaustion from a man who witnessed and lived through the Depression, the Holocaust, WWII, Communist Triumphalism, McCarthyism, Strontium 90 and polio. – Yet his twilight observation was – “The worst is yet to come.” And he wanted out.
I share my father’s angst and fear that too many do not see the authentic, existential threat we face nor confront the source of our peril. We must wake up and smell the hookah.
“Lighten up, Lewis. Take a chill pill, some of you are quietly thinking. You’re sounding like Glen Beck. It’s not that bad. It’s not that real.” But I am here to tell you – “It is.” Ask the member of our shul whose sister was vaporized in the Twin Towers and identified finally by her charred teeth, if this is real or not. Ask the members of our shul who fled a bus in downtown Paris, fearing for their safety from a gang of Muslim thugs, if this is an exaggeration. Ask the member of our shul whose son tracks Arab terrorist infiltrators who target – pizza parlors, nursery schools, Pesach seders, city buses and play grounds, if this is dramatic, paranoid hyperbole.
Ask them, ask all of them – ask the American GI’s we sit next to on planes who are here for a brief respite while we fly off on our Delta vacation package. Ask them if it’s bad. Ask them if it’s real.
Did anyone imagine in the 1920’s what Europe would look like in the 1940’s. Did anyone presume to know in the coffee houses of Berlin or in the opera halls of Vienna that genocide would soon become the celebrated culture? Did anyone think that a goofy-looking painter named Shickelgruber would go from the beer halls of Munich and jail, to the Reichstag as Feuhrer in less than a decade? Did Jews pack their bags and leave Warsaw, Vilna, Athens, Paris, Bialystok, Minsk, knowing that soon their new address would be Treblinka, Sobibor, Dachau and Auschwitz?
The sages teach – “Aizehu chacham – haroeh et hanolad – Who is a wise person – he who sees into the future.” We dare not wallow in complacency, in a misguided tolerance and naïve sense of security.
We must be diligent students of history and not sit in ash cloth at the waters of Babylon weeping. We cannot be hypnotized by eloquent-sounding rhetoric that soothes our heart but endangers our soul. We cannot be lulled into inaction for fear of offending the offenders. Radical Islam is the scourge and this must be cried out from every mountain top. From sea to shining sea, we must stand tall, prideful of our stunning decency and moral resilience. Immediately after 9/11 how many mosques were destroyed in America? None. After 9/11, how many Muslims were killed in America? None. After 9/11, how many anti-Muslim rallies were held in America? None. And yet, we apologize. We grovel. We beg forgiveness.
The mystifying litany of our foolishness continues. Should there be a shul in Hebron on the site where Baruch Goldstein gunned down twenty-seven Arabs at noonday prayers? Should there be a museum praising the U.S. Calvary on the site of Wounded Knee? Should there be a German cultural center in Auschwitz? Should a church be built in the Syrian town of Ma’arra where Crusaders slaughtered over 100,000 Muslims? Should there be a thirteen story mosque and Islamic Center only a few steps from Ground Zero?
Despite all the rhetoric, the essence of the matter can be distilled quite easily. The Muslim community has the absolute, constitutional right to build their building wherever they wish. I don’t buy the argument – “When we can build a church or a synagogue in Mecca they can build a mosque here.” America is greater than Saudi Arabia. And New York is greater than Mecca. Democracy and freedom must prevail.
Can they build? Certainly. May they build? Certainly. But should they build at that site? No -- but that decision must come from them, not from us. Sensitivity, compassion cannot be measured in feet or yards or in blocks. One either feels the pain of others and cares, or does not.
If those behind this project are good, peace-loving, sincere, tolerant Muslims, as they claim, then they should know better, rip up the zoning permits and build elsewhere.
Believe it or not, I am a dues-paying, card carrying member of the ACLU, yet from start to finish, I find this sorry episode disturbing to say the least.
William Burroughs, the novelist and poet, in a wry moment wrote – “After one look at this planet, any visitor from outer space would say – “I want to see the manager.”
Let us understand that the radical Islamist assaults all over the globe are but skirmishes, fire fights, and vicious decoys. Christ and the anti-Christ. Gog U’Magog. The Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness; the bloody collision between civilization and depravity is on the border between Lebanon and Israel. It is on the Gaza Coast and in the Judean Hills of the West Bank. It is on the sandy beaches of Tel Aviv and on the cobblestoned mall of Ben Yehuda Street. It is in the underground schools of Sderot and on the bullet-proofed inner-city buses. It is in every school yard, hospital, nursery, classroom, park, theater – in every place of innocence and purity.
Israel is the laboratory – the test market. Every death, every explosion, every grisly encounter is not a random, bloody orgy. It is a calculated, strategic probe into the heart, guts and soul of the West.
In the Six Day War, Israel was the proxy of Western values and strategy while the Arab alliance was the proxy of Eastern, Soviet values and strategy. Today too, it is a confrontation of proxies, but the stakes are greater than East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Israel in her struggle represents the civilized world, while Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Queda, Iran, Islamic Jihad, represent the world of psychopathic, loathesome evil.
As Israel, imperfect as she is, resists the onslaught, many in the Western World have lost their way displaying not admiration, not sympathy, not understanding, for Israel’s galling plight, but downright hostility and contempt. Without moral clarity, we are doomed because Israel’s galling plight ultimately will be ours. Hanna Arendt in her classic Origins of Totalitarianism accurately portrays the first target of tyranny as the Jew. We are the trial balloon. The canary in the coal mine. If the Jew/Israel is permitted to bleed with nary a protest from “good guys” then tyranny snickers and pushes forward with its agenda.
Moral confusion is a deadly weakness and it has reached epic proportions in the West; from the Oval Office to the UN, from the BBC to Reuters to MSNBC, from the New York Times to Le Monde, from university campuses to British teachers unions, from the International Red Cross to Amnesty International, from Goldstone to Elvis Costello, from the Presbyterian Church to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
There is a message sent and consequences when our president visits Turkey and Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and not Israel.
There is a message sent and consequences when free speech on campus is only for those championing Palestinian rights.
There is a message sent and consequences when the media deliberately doctors and edits film clips to demonize Israel.
There is a message sent and consequences when the UN blasts Israel relentlessly, effectively ignoring Iran, Sudan, Venezuela, North Korea, China and other noxious states.
There is a message sent and consequences when liberal churches are motivated by Liberation Theology, not historical accuracy.
There is a message sent and consequences when murderers and terrorists are defended by the obscenely transparent “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”
John Milton warned, “Hypocrisy is the only evil that walks invisible.”
A few days after the Gaza blockade incident in the spring, a congregant happened past my office, glanced in and asked in a friendly tone –
“Rabbi. How’re y’ doing?”
I looked up, sort of smiled and replied – “I’ve had better days.”
“What’s the matter? Is there anything I can do to cheer you up?” he inquired.
“Thank you for the offer but I’m just bummed out today” and I showed him a newspaper article I was reading.
“Madrid gay pride parade bans Israeli group over Gaza Ship Raid.” I explained to my visitor – “The Israeli gay pride contingent from Tel Aviv was not allowed to participate in the Spanish gay pride parade because the mayor of Tel Aviv did not apologize for the raid by the Israeli military.”
The only country in the entire Middle East where gay rights exist, is Israel. The only country in the entire Middle East where there is a gay pride parade, is Israel. The only country in the Middle East that has gay neighborhoods and gay bars, is Israel.
Gays in the Gaza would be strung up, executed by Hamas if they came out and yet Israel is vilified and ostracized. Disinvited to the parade.
Looking for logic?
Looking for reason?
Looking for sanity?
Kafka on his darkest, gloomiest day could not keep up with this bizarre spectacle and we “useful idiots” pander and fawn over cutthroats, sinking deeper and deeper into moral decay, as the enemy laughs all the way to the West Bank and beyond.
It is exhausting and dispiriting. We live in an age that is redefining righteousness where those with moral clarity are an endangered, beleaguered species.
Isaiah warned us thousands of years ago – “Oye Lehem Sheh-Korim Layome, Laila v’Laila, yome – Woe to them who call the day, night and the night, day.” We live on a planet that is both Chelm and Sodom. It is a frightening and maddening place to be.
How do we convince the world and many of our own, that this is not just anti-Semitism, that this is not just anti-Zionism but a full throttled attack by unholy, radical Islamists on everything that is morally precious to us? How do we convince the world and many of our own that conciliation is not an option, that compromise is not a choice?
Everything we are. Everything we believe. Everything we treasure, is at risk.
The threat is so unbelievably clear and the enemy so unbelievably ruthless how anyone in their right mind doesn’t get it is baffling. Let’s try an analogy. If someone contracted a life-threatening infection and we not only scolded them for using antibiotics but insisted that the bacteria had a right to infect their body and that perhaps, if we gave the invading infection an arm and a few toes, the bacteria would be satisfied and stop spreading
Anyone buy that medical advice? Well, folks, that’s our approach to the radical Islamist bacteria. It is amoral, has no conscience and will spread unless it is eradicated. – There is no negotiating. Appeasement is death.
I was no great fan of George Bush – didn’t vote for him. (By the way, I’m still a registered Democrat.) I disagreed with many of his policies but one thing he had right. His moral clarity was flawless when it came to the War on Terror, the War on Radical Islamist Terror. There was no middle ground – either you were friend or foe. There was no place in Bush’s world for a Switzerland. He knew that this competition was not Toyota against G.M., not the Iphone against the Droid, not the Braves against the Phillies, but a deadly serious war, winner take all. Blink and you lose. Underestimate, and you get crushed.
I know that there are those sitting here today who have turned me off. But I also know that many turned off their rabbis seventy five years ago in Warsaw, Riga, Berlin, Amsterdam, Cracow, Vilna. I get no satisfaction from that knowledge, only a bitter sense that there is nothing new under the sun.
Enough rhetoric – how about a little “show and tell?” A few weeks ago on the cover of Time magazine was a horrific picture with a horrific story. The photo was of an eighteen year old Afghani woman, Bibi Aisha, who fled her abusive husband and his abusive family. Days later the Taliban found her and dragged her to a mountain clearing where she was found guilty of violating Sharia Law. Her punishment was immediate. She was pinned to the ground by four men while her husband sliced off her ears, and then he cut off her nose.
That is the enemy (show enlarged copy of magazine cover.)
If nothing else stirs us. If nothing else convinces us, let Bibi Aisha’s mutilated face be the face of Islamic radicalism. Let her face shake up even the most complacent and naïve among us. In the holy crusade against this ultimate evil, pictures of Bibi Aisha’s disfigurement should be displayed on billboards, along every highway from Route 66 to the Autobahn, to the Transarabian Highway. Her picture should be posted on every lobby wall from Tokyo to Stockholm to Rio. On every network, at every commercial break, Bibi Aisha’s face should appear with the caption – “Radical Islamic savages did this.” And underneath – “This ad was approved by Hamas, by Hezbollah, by Taliban, by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, by Islamic Jihad, by Fatah al Islam, by Magar Nodal Hassan, by Richard Reid, by Ahmanijad, by Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, by Osama bin Laden, by Edward Said, by The Muslim Brotherhood, by Al Queda, by CAIR.”
“The moral sentiment is the drop that balances the sea” said Ralph Waldo Emerson. Today, my friends, the sea is woefully out of balance and we could easily drown in our moral myopia and worship of political correctness.
We peer up into the heavens sending probes to distant galaxies. We peer down into quarks discovering particles that would astonish Einstein. We create computers that rival the mind, technologies that surpass science fiction. What we imagine, with astounding rapidity, becomes real. If we dream it, it does, indeed, come. And yet, we are at a critical point in the history of this planet that could send us back into the cave, to a culture that would make the Neanderthal blush with shame.
Our parents and grandparents saw the swastika and recoiled, understood the threat and destroyed the Nazis. We see the banner of Radical Islam and can do no less.
A rabbi was once asked by his students... “Rebbi. Why are your sermons so stern?” Replied the rabbi, “If a house is on fire and we chose not to wake up our children, for fear of disturbing their sleep, would that be love? Kinderlach, ‘di hoyz brent.’ Children our house is on fire and I must arouse you from your slumber.”
During WWII and the Holocaust was it business as usual for priests, ministers, rabbis? Did they deliver benign homilies and lovely sermons as Europe fell, as the Pacific fell, as North Africa fell, as the Mideast and South America tottered, as England bled? Did they ignore the demonic juggernaut and the foul breath of evil? They did not. There was clarity, courage, vision, determination, sacrifice, and we were victorious. Today it must be our finest hour as well. We dare not retreat into the banality of our routines, glance at headlines and presume that the good guys will prevail.
Democracies don’t always win. Tyrannies don’t always lose.
My friends – the world is on fire and we must awake from our slumber. “EHR KUMT.”
Posted by drmusic | 08/24/10 10:08 AM EDT
A group of muslims is called "a nest of muslim parasites".
Let them build the mosque at ground zero.. Taller than the towers..it's fine...let Barak Husain Oh!Bama build a mosque on the white house lawns.... Taller than the white house....it's fine....let Prince Charles build one on the palace lawns....taller than the palace....it's fine....let the pope build a mosque on the Vatican grounds....taller than the Vatican building....it's fine ....the more mosques the better and the taller they are the better... That is the only way common people will start seething at intrusive and evil Islam.
I predict that within a 100 years there will be no mosques left in this world and there will be no Islam on the planet because Saudi Arabia and the Muslim countries will be wiped out by the anger of the rest of the planet's non-Muslim people. Islam is in it's death swirl...but it is dying with a lot of blood and shouts...but it is definately dying... The mask of religion it has been hiding behind will soon be lifted off by the courts around the world.... People, including Muslims who actually think out of the box of Islam are starting to see Islam for what it is...Islam is a robber cult started by a woman-hating mass murderer and a legendary pedophile amonst other things. Islam's days are numbered... Let us help them build their mosques so we can pull them down en-masse. Their daggers are out but we have our bulldozers and our logic.
Posted by drmusic | 08/24/10 10:03 AM EDT
Daisy khan is absolutely right....we all hate hate hate Islam... Have no doubt about it...all this PC crap about Islam being a religion was started in Europe and by the Brits too and now Islam is biting them on their arses with it's rabid mouth and stinking putrifying but still not dead body...
Daisy khan is right right right... We all hate Islam and all all all Muslims because we all know how evil it is. Thank you Daisy for clearing this up. Islam labels people who are all alike differently and builds walls separating them instead of bringing them together.
Islam glorifies death by calling its murderers the soldiers of Allah. Islam preaches superiority of the "we" and inferiority of the "other." It is a creed steeped in superstition, demands blind obedience to authority, and sanctions just about every form of freedom. Everything in Islam is in black and white. One is either Muslim -- good -- or non-Muslim -- bad. Men are superior; women are subservient. This life is worthless and should be offered for the pleasure of Allah as defined by the evil clergy.
Islam is a creed of a primitive age. It is fixated in time and place; it harbors the ambition of taking the 21st-century world back fourteen centuries and ruling it by its dogma of intolerance, injustice, and death. Yet Islam is not only an obsolete vestige of a defunct era, but itself is an infinitely fractured belief that can hardly put its own home in order. The numerous Islamic sects are at each other's throats; sub-sects and schools despise one another as much as they hate the non-Muslims. Hatred, not love, drives Islam.
We have to try and avoid the yoke of Islamic slavery and its blinders that imprison a billion and half people by walls of superstition, hatred of others, and celebration of death.
March 30, 2010 | ISSUE 46-13
I'm not one of those people who spends his whole life wishing things had turned out differently. Sure, the so-called "real world" can be a pretty cruel place sometimes, but why sit around all day worrying about the way things are when, with a little imagination, determination, and blinding denial, you can convince yourself that everything is great?
It may sound crazy, but I'm telling you, if you put your mind to it, you can make yourself believe just about anything!
Don't let annoying little hang-ups like logic, reason, or even reality stand in the way of what you want to be true. Your mind is the most powerful tool you have, and if you use it correctly, you'll be amazed at all the incredible things you can deny.
Lose your job due to gross incompetence and whispers of corporate malfeasance? No, you didn't. You left your job voluntarily and without incident, because it was stifling your creative energy. Wife hates you because you're a pathetic shell of the man she used to love? Wrong again. In fact, you don't even have a wife.
Not if you don't want one!
It's surprisingly simple. All you have to do is block out what the actual, known universe is telling you is "happening." Voilà! It doesn't matter if your son repeatedly confides in you that he's gay, even going so far as to introduce you on three separate occasions to the person he calls his boyfriend. Your brain knows better than that. Your brain knows that your son is a virile heterosexual man like his father, and that he has definitely not chosen a lifestyle that might be threatening to his father's sense of self, which is strong, by the way, and in no way insecure. The boy likes to fuck women, okay? End of story.
See? Wasn't that easy? And now you don't have to go to bed at night with all those horrible "truth pangs."
And remember that no matter what happens, you must never throw in the towel. A lot of people who are confronted by difficult circumstances in their lives will turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of "escaping" their problems. Not me. I am able to tell myself that that my drug and alcohol use is totally under control, that I could quit at anytime, and that I don't use cocaine and tequila as a means of escape but merely as a way of cutting loose after a long day of being neither lonely nor unemployed.
It's all in the way you don't look at things!
It may seem hard at first, but once you start believing in God, and presupposing that this God condones all of your thoughts and actions, it gets a whole lot easier. Believing in a supreme being like that not only absolves you of any responsibility whatsoever, which is handy, but it also allows you to be self-righteous about the made-up stuff you've convinced yourself is true in order to gain some sense of structure or meaning in your worthless life.
If that seems too good to be true, it isn't. It is not too good to be true. Just tell yourself that. Over and over.
Now prepare yourself, because a lot of people out there are going to claim that what you're trying to believe is impossible. They'll try to "help" you by pointing out how you're destroying yourself through willful acts of self-delusion, and how your behavior is slowly eating away at the people who care about you most in this world. Well, I'm here to tell you that it's not true. What they are saying is not happening. In fact, they are not even saying that. They are not even there. They are somewhere far away, many miles from the warm, tropical beach where you are now relaxing in total, peaceful silence, undisturbed by what for a moment sounded like your wife banging on the door to your basement office, but what in reality—your reality—was just a few coconuts falling from a palm tree and landing with soft, reassuring thuds on the cool white sand below. Thud. Thud.
What was that, Alohanani? Would I like another mai tai? Why, yes, I would adore one. Much obliged, my portly Hawaiian friend.
Much obliged, indeed.
He should be keeping silent. But he's got a story to tell, one he delivers in his new book published this week, "Son of Hamas."
"To be honest with you, being killed is not the worst thing that can happen," he said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press. "If they want to do kill me ... let them do it, and they will be responsible for my blood."
In his memoir, Yousef, the 32-year-old son of a Hamas founder, claims he was one of the Shin Bet security agency's best assets and was dubbed The Green Prince, a reference to his Hamas pedigree and the Islamists' signature green color.
During his 50-minute interview, for which he arrived with armed security, Yousef took shots at Hamas leaders including political chief Khaled Meshaal. He lashed out at Hamas, saying the organization lives in the Middle Ages.
And he hurled his most inflammatory comments at Islam, which he called a religion that teaches people to kill.
"It is not a religion of peace," said Yousef, who converted to Christianity. "The biggest terrorist is the God of the Quran. I know this is very dangerous and this will offend many people. The more you follow the steps of the prophet of Islam and the God of Islam, the more you get close to being a terrorist."
Yousef said he started working with the Shin Bet after he was arrested and witnessed Hamas brutalities inside prison. When he was released in 1997, he started meeting with the Shin Bet and gravitating toward Christianity.
Yousef thought he could do some good, preventing the deaths of Israelis and Palestinians.
"I got a chance to stop killing," he said.
In his book, Yousef clearly relished his importance to Shin Bet and even designed his own missions, one involving duping Meshaal, who lives in Damascus.
"I love this spy stuff, especially with Israeli intelligence paving the way," he wrote. "In this way, a new communications channel was established with Damascus, even though Meshaal had no idea that he was actually on a party line with the Shin Bet listening in."
Yousef said Hamas has no idea how Shin Bet operates and accused Hamas of killing innocent people suspected of collaborating with Israel.
The U.S. government considers Hamas a terrorist organization. Hamas says it provides schools and other social benefits to residents in the areas it controls.
Yousef declined to discuss certain aspects of his intelligence relationship with the Israeli security organization, saying he didn't want to hinder its operational capabilities and give Hamas a "free gift."
"They're facing a dirty, difficult war," he said, referring to the Shin Bet battles with Hamas. "I don't agree with everything that they do. But their job is very important."
His relationship with the Shin Bet lasted for more than a decade until he decided he'd had enough. He ended his lonely and dangerous existence as a spy in 2007.
Yousef said the Israelis allowed him to leave the region for a few months to take a break from his harrowing job and travel to America, where he stayed, working as a security guard at a grocery store.
When he told his story to his new friends in America, people didn't believe him. But folks seem to be believing him now. His father, a senior Hamas leader, disowned him Monday.
Sheik Hassan Yousef said in a letter that his family had renounced "the one who was once our eldest son, who is called Mosab."
The son "disbelieved in God" and "collaborated with our enemies," said the father, who's serving a six-year term in an Israeli prison.
Mosab Yousef said he didn't take it personally.
"I know his heart," Yousef said. "My dad is a loving person. He would never disown me. At some point we will be together again. I love my father, and he loves me."
Yousef blamed his father's decision on the Quran.
"The God of Quran is trying to unskin Muslims from their humanity," he said, later adding, "Muslims are good people. But their God is absolutely bad."
Yousef's claims have rocked Hamas and exposed its vulnerability. His book comes on the heels of the assassination of a top Hamas operative in Dubai in January. Yousef denounced this latest killing in which Israel has been blamed and said the timing of the book was just a coincidence, not some Israeli scheme to generate even more paranoia among the ranks of Hamas.
Israel has not commented on Yousef's claims or on widespread speculation that it carried out the Dubai assassination.
Asked about why people should believe his book, which was displayed at a Manhattan bookstore's Christian inspiration section, Yousef said: "I am not expecting everybody to believe this story. Some people will doubt it."
Yousef said Hamas had no idea how to govern and he hoped the violence between the Palestinians and the Israelis would end. He said he thinks his traitorous efforts will pay off.
"A change," he said, "will happen for the next generation."
Your degree will open doors to opportunities that are not available to those who do not possess one. You are now among the elite of the nations; the best, the brightest; the educated. And, you now have the documentation to prove it.
However, although you may have thought otherwise, the truth is that your true education is just beginning.
I say beginning, because most of you have yet to master the most important skill of all: how to think. It is true that you know how to study, you know how to research an assigned topic, you know how to argue persuasively, and you know how to pay attention.
But, do you know how to form your own opinion, based on facts, even in the face of extreme peer pressure, in spite of your own ego? Do you truly understand the many levels of human motivation that may be behind the assertions made by many? Are you able to objectively examine your own beliefs? Are you even interested in facts, in truth? You have learned much. You have been told much. Undoubtedly, some of what you have learned is not fact; it is unsubstantiated and unjustified opinion.
Most of you are young. You are energetic, idealistic, compassionate, sincere, eager to show the world how to do it right. Some want to go out and change the world, to make it a better place for all. Some are interested in personal success. Some want to be respected, or famous, or feared. Some want to be left alone.
The world has no shortage of deceivers, demagogues, and deluded “leaders”, who want your unwavering support and loyalty. If you are unable to think for yourself; if you base your decisions and beliefs on your emotions, then you can become the pawn of those who can arouse passionate emotions within you. You would become like a member of a cult – always supporting whatever you are told is right, without even knowing why. Think of the millions who supported fascism, Nazism, communism, because each of these causes had eloquent spokesmen who aroused passion in their followers, and promised a better life for all. Think of the billions who blindly follow religious ideas and traditions, without even thinking about the reason they do so. Think of the unspeakable suffering of humanity throughout the centuries, and even occurring at this very moment, because of blind devotion to political, cultural, and religious institutions and ideas.
This world is indeed a mess. If you listen to some, the end of all humanity is near. Insurmountable problems seem to be facing us. Religious fanatics seem poised, even anxious, to cause the destruction of millions, of billions of their fellow human beings. Tyrants have set their sights on ruling the world, or at least large parts of it.
The list of the world’s ills is long. It seems like you have inherited inconceivably difficult problems to solve. But, it has always been like this. In all ages, mankind has been faced with problems, the mere contemplation of which can leave one weak, trembling, and despairing. There has always been a wolf at the door, waiting to devour. Yet, somehow, we manage to survive.
Over time, most things have gotten better. But what our ancestors and forefathers have achieved over centuries, and millennia, can be lost in a single generation, if we allow it. And, once it is gone, who can say how many centuries will pass before we get it back, if ever? We, you, must continue the fight for what is right, for human freedom. Freedom to be what we want to be. Freedom from fear. Freedom from those who would dictate how we should live and what we should think. Freedom from dogmas; physical, economic, and intellectual slavery. Every child, every little girl and every little boy born into this world must have every opportunity for happiness and fulfillment that the world can provide.
Thornton Wilder wrote: "I've never forgotten for long at a time that living is a struggle. I know that every good and excellent thing in the world stands moment by moment on the razor-edge of danger and must be fought for - whether it's a field, or a home, or a country."
Every good and excellent thing. Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. As Americans, you are heirs to a great tradition of liberty. Cruel policies have been made, atrocities and great injustices have been committed in our nation, and by our nation. We must see where we have been wrong, and admit it. We should not let that stop us, though. We must go forward, promoting the ideals upon which America was founded; political, economic, social, and intellectual liberty for all. Justice, peace, and security.
Now go forth, as leaders among men and women, as true thinkers; challenge your own beliefs, examine every assertion, be willing to admit that you may be wrong. Listen to the arguments of intelligent advocates for each position. Weigh the facts. Let your dedication to truth motivate you to dispassionately decide, based on the facts. Let compassion and idealism be your guide, but do not deceive yourself because you wish a thing to be true.
You have your whole life ahead of you. Spend that life wisely, for you only have one.
Do something important.
- Charles Baudelaire, Le Joueur généreux, February 7, 1864
Forget everything you think you know about politics. It is probably wrong.
There is no left or right. Communist, Socialist, Liberal, Conservative, Progressive, Democrat, Republican, those are all meaningless terms. They are used to confuse people so they miss the point. The most important point about politics there is. There are only two schools of political thought and they have predictable results. All the names and labels for them are just smoke and mirrors.
Political ideology is designed by elites to trick the masses into doing what they want. Each side tells you something designed to get your emotions going so they can play you. They get you to agree to give them more power, money and control over your lives by telling you some kind of story.
We need to put that vicious cycle to an end. It’s time to understand what their real goals are. But to free your mind, you need to be educated first. Only by seeing the road ahead can you avoid tripping on stones or falling off cliffs.
There are only two real political choices to make. And it has nothing to do with parties. It has to do with core beliefs. You are for one side or another. These sides are diametrically opposed. The best way I can describe the two choices is, freedom or slavery. That is what it boils down to. And the slave in question is you.
Do you want to be a slave or a free person? It’s your choice.
I’m sure some of you reading this have your guard up now. So take a deep breath and walk with me for a second. I am going to open your eyes.
There are only two forms of government. Every kind of government is a branch or variation of one of the two forms. All the side issues, are just window dressing because the root form of government determines a lot of crucial matters that effect everything else.
The first form has many branches and is called many by names. It is common. It is the oldest form. It is, in fact, ancient. It has many names because so many of those names have fallen into disrepute. So they keep re-branding it and try to sell it in a different package. But no matter what name it takes, it still leads to the same end result.
The second form has very few branches and is rarer than any precious stone. It is something many people want but few have had. The believers in the first form are always trying to destroy this second form. They lie about it. Try to corrupt and subvert it. Because they know it will always be more popular with the people if they knew they had a choice. So the second form must always be defended from the predators from the first, because it is precious. I like to refer to each system as the minus and plus system. But we’ll call them BG or LG here. Big Government or Limited Government.
Those who believe in BG go by many names, and many of these believers don’t even know that they’re supporting the same goals as people they think are bad. But they have been tricked into selling out their own freedoms to enrich someone elses. All BG systems lead to the same result. I classify this as a minus system because it’s negative. The end result of a BG system is bad for most involved.
The BG system is designed to feed all resources to a few at the top. All else are diminished in power and wealth. But the citizens are told that they must support the government and its rules in order to receive some kind of “benefits.” In order to get the treats the government doles out, you have to give up your freedoms and your property. It sells the idea of some glorious future that is never attained and only gets worse over time. But it always maintains that it will lead to some kind of paradise.
It never does. It usually leads to some kind of hell. But it always finds people to subscribe to its ideas who become fanatical in defense of it, no matter how much the system abuses them. And it deludes many others into wanting it because it preys on their human nature, the very thing that destroys it in the end.
The LG or Limited Government system is the best system for human freedom. As a result it has been very rare in human history. Where it has been allowed to flourish, human beings have flourished. But those who believe in BG are always trying to corrupt and destroy LG societies. This is because LG denies ultimate power to those who seek it. An LG system is more fair because you get what you put in. You have the ability to advance to any level as long as you don’t abuse the success that you have made or use it against others.
Before we explore how each system works, we need to understand the mindset of the people who believe in either system. I once did a cartoon illustrating the philosophies ( http://thehud.com/2009/12/clash-of-the-titans/) in the form of two Greek Philosophers, Aristotle and Plato. Each philosopher created the groundwork for understanding these schools of thought.
LG (Plus) believers are Aristotlian. They are like engineers. If something is proven to work, then they believe in it. They are not opposed to experimentation, but only if it involves proven principles. Ideas that are demonstrated to fail are rejected. They understand that human beings are flawed creatures. Humans are born hungry and spend their lives seeking to fulfill those hungers. In science terms, humans are driven by genetic hard wiring. It is part of their nature. In religious terms, humans are born with “original sin”. We can’t radically change who we are and remain human. We can only seek to improve ourselves through discipline, education, reason and morality.
LG believers understand that humans are often given to a lust for power because we all want some kind of control. LG societies are designed to limit governance so the state can never become tyrannical. It realizes that human nature is a constant so you have to develop a system that works within its framework, and keeps its basic problems in check. That way a politician’s greed is limited by what they are allowed to do by laws. The less interference a government has in human affairs, the more free the people are to progress on their own and flourish. LG believers are for individual rights. They believe a perfect society may not be possible, but it can be best achieved by respect for others rights and liberties. They believe in a social contract and the rule of law. They want people to be free in order to live their life without interference, as long as they respect other’s rights. The LG is there to enable the society to function and keep the peace, but it is not there to dominate or dictate how one should live.
BG (Minus) believers are Platonic. They posit that there’s an ideal form of society somewhere in the future, a utopia populated by an idealized form of humanity. This can only be achieved by forcing people to change through rules, laws and governance. It wraps itself in good intentions, but it ignores human nature, believing people can be changed by rules. Making the public follow orders will correct their bad behavior as the state sees it. It does not believe it can be tyrannical because BG systems are always sure they’re correct, not matter what happens. Dissenters are ridiculed or punished. No matter how many mistakes a BG society makes or disasters it causes, it does not admit its fault. BG believers preach dependence on the state. It denies individual empowerment or freedom and instead promotes group think. It pushes the group over the individual to keep people in check. It does not want leaders so much as followers. Its leaders are usually the hungriest for power that make their way to the top by gaming the system.
BG societies are constantly creating diversions to keep the public focused on policies it wants to sell. So it often creates “crises” of some kind that the people are supposed to rally around. In order to get them to give up more freedom or personal wealth, it often uses scare tactics. Threats of invasion, threats of nature, etc. The elites in a BG system always live vastly better than those at the bottom, but it always promises some kind of “equality” that never exists in reality. And because the BG system is large and complex it relies on bureaucracies to manage them. But because bureaucracies are made of humans, human nature always corrupts these systems. A bureaucracy becomes inefficient and corrupt in direct proportion to its size. The larger, the less effective, the more corrupt.
BG systems usually lead to economic collapse and stagnation. Usually with dire consequences for millions of people. That is why citizens in BG societies often yearn to go to LG societies. Many of them risk their lives to escape from BG societies that hold them captive. Because in worst case scenarios, BG systems imprison their citizens. They are all, to some extent, anti-freedom. It’s a matter of degree.
In contemporary American terms, the common names for BG and LG is “progressive” or “conservative”. Those terms have been used misleadingly by the media and others, so I avoided them. In part two I will do side by side comparison of the two systems performed in history. And I will explain the title of this series.
Let me begin by telling you that two of 50 million children taken away by abortionists since 1973 were mine. I can still see them in my mind's eye.
Like many black women, I once believed the doctor who told me my babies were no more than "a blob of tissue." I wanted to believe it. Eventually, I realized I was wrong, that I was a secondary victim of abortion. I repented and found healing through God. Today, I work in the civil rights movement of our century -- the right of every one of every race to live.
I am asking you to join me. Let me tell you why. Abortion and racism are evil twins, born of the same lie. Where racism now hides its face in public, abortion is accomplishing the goals of which racism only once dreamed. Together, abortionists are destroying humanity at large and the black community in particular.
Abortion has taken a gruesome toll on the black community, killing more than AIDS and crime combined. Some 14 million black babies have been aborted since the 1973 US Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in all stages in all 50 states. That's equal to one-third of the number of blacks living today.
By the abortion industry's own statistics, black women are 4.8 times more likely to abort than are non-Hispanic white women. Blacks comprise about 13% of the population, yet have 37% of all abortions.
When dramatic racial disparities like these appeared in employment and education, it was enough to conclude that institutionalized racism and discrimination were present in our corporations and colleges. Why should we apply a different standard to the abortion industry?
Racism and abortion are twins in many other ways.
Racism springs from the lie that certain human beings are less than fully human. It's a self-centered falsehood that corrupts our minds into believing we are right to treat others as we would not want to be treated. So it is with abortion.
Racism oppresses its victims, but also binds the oppressors, who sear their consciences with more and more lies until they become prisoners of those lies. They cannot face the truth of human equality because it reveals the horror of the injustices they commit. While victims die physically, practitioners die spiritually. So it is with abortion.
Racism is a way to gain economic advantage at the expense of others. Slavery and plantations may be gone, but racism still allows us to regard those who may keep us from financial gain as less than equals. So it is with abortion.
A majority, perhaps as many as 75%, of abortion clinics are in areas with high minority populations. Abortion apologists will say this is because they want to serve the poor. You don't serve the poor, however, by taking their money to terminate their children.
The abortion movement in this country was started by Margaret Sanger, the founder of an organization known today as Planned Parenthood. Ms. Sanger was quite open that she wanted "more children from the fit, less from the unfit." The unfit, she made clear, were blacks and poor whites. She had no qualms about speaking to as many as 12 Ku Klux Klan meetings. As I discuss in the new film, "Maafa 21: Black Genocide in 21st Century America" (produced by Life Dynamics Inc.), she targeted blacks in her eugenics-based campaigns.
Does an overtly racist past mean that the abortion industry is racist today? Consider last year's widely reported account of seven Planned Parenthood offices that agreed to accept a donation on the sole condition that the money only be used to abort black babies. The recordings of the phone calls to Planned Parenthood are chilling. Why were some offices of the organization willing to take money based on race?
Abortion targets blacks disproportionately, but it affects everyone. And as my uncle, Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote from the Birmingham jail, "[i]njustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Abortion is an attack on the family and the humanity that unites us all.
My Uncle Martin also wrote: "The Negro cannot win if he is willing to sell the future of his children for his personal and immediate comfort and safety." Those words are still true today. After all, how can the dream survive if we let them take our children?
Dr. Alveda King, today, is celebrating Uncle’s life and she said he would agree that, when it comes to treating all people with respect, that he would include babies before birth.
“Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of a Beloved Community where all are treated with respect and dignity,” Alveda King told LifeNews.com today.
“He fought against society’s exclusion of people who were treated as less than human because of their appearance," she added. "Today, we are compelled to continue Uncle Martin’s fight by standing up for those who are treated as less than human because of their helplessness and inconvenience."
King told LifeNews.com, “The unborn are as much a part of the Beloved Community as are newborns, infants, teenagers, adults, and the elderly."
The niece of the great civil rights leader also said those who follow his ideals of tolerance don't always show that to unborn children.
"Too many of us speak of tolerance and inclusion, yet refuse to tolerate or include the weakest and most innocent among us in the human family," she said.
King concludes, "As we celebrate the life of Uncle Martin, let us renew our hearts and commit our lives to treating each other, whatever our race, status, or stage of life, as we would want to be treated. Let us let each other live."
King had an abortion but now speaks out for protecting human life. She has called abortion and racism "evil twins."
Alveda King and her family will be joined by pro-life leader Father Frank Pavone of Priests for Life as a program participant in the Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Commemorative Service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.