When will moderate Jewish American leaders denounce extremism?
by Ray Hanania
After Sept. 11, 2001, there was a chorus of people demanding to know when will moderate Arabs and moderate Muslims denounce extremism in their communities? It was an important demand, even though most moderate Arab and Muslims did denounce the extremists. Still, Arabs and Muslims can denounce extremism more, and they should. There is an abundance of anti-Semitism, racism and extremism from Arabs and Muslims who lean towards violence. It is to the benefit of everyone, including Arabs and Muslims, to denounce them. But why just Arabs and Muslims? Why don’t mainstream American leaders denounce their extremists? More importantly, because the Arab-Israeli conflict is a primary driver of animosity in the Middle East, why don’t moderate Jewish American leaders also denounce their own extremists?In truth, mainstream Jewish American leaders and organizations are more silent about denouncing their extremists than Arabs and Muslims are about denouncing their extremists.The extremists supporting Israel are so vicious and pernicious, that they slander and libel Arab and Muslim moderates for the sole “crime” of “criticizing Israel.” And that is where moderate Jewish American leaders are at fault. They don’t like any criticism of Israel, and while they will “tolerate” a discussion about the problems challenging peace between Arabs and Israelis, they will not speak out and silence their own fanatics.
These pro-Israel extremists include web sites and organizations including groups like “Little Green Footballs,” which recently accused me of anti-Semitism because I criticized the failure of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom to equally and fairly criticize extremists on both the Arab and the Israeli sides.
The CIRF demanded recently that a Muslim school in Northern Virginia funded by Saudi Arabia be closed alleging that the school teaches hatred, while ignoring protests from the Saudis and the school officials that the CIRF failed to provide proof to back up their claims other than text references dating back several years.
I also criticized the Bush administration for failing to appoint any Arabs to the CIRF or to the so-called U.S. Institute for Peace, which once was the bully pulpit of another notorious Arab and Muslim basher, Daniel Pipes.
“Little Green Footballs” twisted and fabricated phrases and lies in order to justify its attacks, like asserting that I claimed the CIRF action was a “Jewish plot.” Similarly, Pipes routinely slanders, vilifies and falsely accuses critics of Israel of being “anti-Semitic,” supporters of Islamicist Jihad, and worse. Yet both are tolerated without as much as a whimper from mainstream American Jewish leaders and it says something about the point I make that a hate site like “Little Green Footballs” is ranked among the top 100 Blogs in the West.
Why? Why are these fanatics permitted to spew their hatred openly and without challenge? Why do American Jewish publications and even mainstream American web sites provide links to racists and bigots like Pipes and “Little Green Footballs”?
The failure of American Jewish leaders to denounce these groups – and Pipes and “Little Green Footballs” represent only the tip of the ugly iceberg of hatred – implies that maybe, just maybe American Jewish leaders really do not support peace based on compromise.
Maybe these groups say one thing, but then allow these haters to spew their vicious assaults because they do not want compromise at all.
I don’t mind being slandered by people like Pipes or Little Green Footballs. Being called an anti-Semite by “Little Green Footballs” is like being called ugly by a pig.
Few are more “anti-Semitic” against Arabs and Muslims than “Little Green Footballs.’
But the great disappointment is the shallow support for moderation that exists among mainstream American Jewish leaders and supporters of Israel.
I support Israel’s right to exist, denounce anti-Semitism and Holocaust revisionism. Where is the mainstream moderate Jewish American counterpart who can stand up and denounce the vicious racism from pro-Israel sites that target moderate Arabs like myself?
If there is no peace, it may not simply be because of the extremism among Arabs and Muslims. It might also be because of the deafening silence from American Jewish leaders and pro-Israel organizations.
They talk-the-talk of moderation but walk-the-walk of silence in the face of fanaticism from among their own.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian American journalist and author. Copyright Arab Writers Group, http://www.ArabWritersGroup.com).