The Caliph-Strophic Debate

News Abroad

Dr. Walid Phares is a Senior Fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a Visiting Fellow with the European Foundation for Democracy and the author of “Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies against America.” Email: Phares@walidphares.com.

It seems that the US is having a hard time winning the hearts and minds of Arabs and Muslims, but an equally serious problem can be observed in the intellectual circles of America where some have had a difficulty coming to terms with the terminology of the War of Ideas. If the educated elite of the United States is incapable of identifying the ideology and the strategy of the Jihadists five years after 9/11, we not only have a problem with handling the War in Iraq, but also with the future of American national security as a whole.

An article published in Newsweek magazine on October 13, 2006 illustrates this problem. Entitled “Caliwho?” it asks why President Bush has raised the issue of an Islamic Caliphate. Lisa Miller and Matthew Philips, co-authors of the piece, begin by defining the term, “Caliphate” as a “fifty-cent word” posing a question of why a U.S President would use it four times in one speech. At first read, I thought the Newsweek journalists were lamenting the delay with which the chief executive of the nation has finally begun using this term - half a decade after September 11, and fifteen years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. After all, has not the American public demanded that the US Administration and Congress take steps toward “informing” the nation about the enemy, its ideology, and its future goals? Since one of the most important objectives of al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Salafi Jihadi networks around the world has been the re-establishment of a Caliphate - incorporating in it all Arab and Muslim states – one can only express relief that the term “Caliphate” has finally entered the President’s speeches.

However, as I continued to read further, I realized that the authors of the Newsweek article were putting forth quite a different view. They seemed to be appalled by the fact that the President “dared” to mention the “word” Caliphate and spoke of the Jihadists’ attempt to “extend the Caliphate, establish the Caliphate and spread the Caliphate.” Miller and Philips, writing with the certitude of Middle East Studies expertise, reminded their readers, oddly, that “many people (in the US) live long without using the word Caliphate” suggesting the uselessness of the President’s vocabulary.

Precisely this absence of understanding of the term Caliphate was the problem in the 1990s. During that decade, most instructors in American classrooms unfortunately succeeded at “dis-educating” the nation about the nature of the enemy by simply leaving out the term “Caliphate” of the curricula for Middle East Studies classes. If American students, many of whom would end up being recruited to newsrooms, have never heard about the Caliphate, Salafism, Wahabism or Khomeinism - let alone Jihadism – then the US was inevitably headed for a big trouble.

If in 1941, one would not know what “Reich” meant in the Nazi rhetoric, one would not be blaming those who would be helping others to understand it, but rather those who concealed the meaning from others in the years prior to the rise of Hitler. Since it has turned out that Americans were not properly educated by their Middle East Studies experts prior to 9/11, it is these academic and intellectual elites that should be put on the spot and questioned about their motivation to massage – for decades - Islamic history to make it more palatable to Western audiences. Why are the Newsweek authors blaming US government officials for taking up the task of teaching the nation about the true nature of the enemy when those charged with the task have obviously failed to do so?

Authors Miller and Philips continue further in misleading their readers. They blame the President for using a “pejorative” tone when referring to the “Caliphate” suggesting that the term is quasi-sacred and should be used with near-reverence. The authors treat the term as if it denoted a mere historical period and not an aggressive political project of the Jihadists of the 21st century. The term “Caliphate”, with all its linguistic and doctrinal derivatives in today’s Salafi terminology, is as charged and politicized as the “Third Reich” was to the National-Socialists during WWII. The “Caliphate” epitomizes all that the Jihadists are preparing for, working towards, and killing for. This word IS at the center of the War with Terrorism – it is not an obscure academic word as Miller and Philips would have us believe. The bringing back of the “Caliphate” is the chief reason why Osama Bin Laden, Ayman Zawahiri, Zarqawi, and Adam Gadahn have declared and waged a war against the people of the United States. Given its centrality to the Jihadist activities, the term must be treated seriously.

But Newsweek ’s investigative team is more interested in the “political” implications of such a use. Maybe it could stir some trouble overseas as the alleged Guantanamo-Koran affair did before? Or perhaps it would mobilize another campaign by the traditional (Wahabi funded) elites against educating Americans on matters “they shouldn’t know more about?” Who knows?

The article attempts to “link dots” between the use of the term “Caliphate,” and the so-called abhorred use of the terms “axis of evil,” Islamo-fascism, Islamic radicalism, militant jihadism, or what they coined as the “too jargony but more scholarly term of Islamism.” While they weren’t technically wrong on the latter, the authors implied the President is perhaps wrong or “political” when he used the more focused ones. Miller and Philips interestingly target the “people who prep him,” i.e. his speech writers, as perhaps pushing “complicating” words into the mouth of the commander in chief: in other words his advisors who probably encourage him to draw the attention of the American citizens to what the “Islamists” are up to. So, in sum, the article would suggest calling the enemy “Islamists” (the academic term) but not revealing their objectives, one of which is to establish a Caliphate. Is the Newsweek article calling on US leaders, President or congressional leaders “not” to use the term Caliphate at all, so that readers and the public at large “wouldn’t” learn what the actual Islamists “want” to do? This would be a disservice to the public and in total contradiction with the noble mission of the press.

But the matter would sound even more dramatic to Jihadism experts: For the article says “no one but students of Islamic history have much more than a vague idea of what it means.” Well, if we count on the educational system that “taught” America in the 1990s, you’d end up believing that Jihad is “spiritual yoga,” that Takfir is some Rock’n Roll Band, and that Umma is a Hollywood actress. Sure, if you count on our mostly Wahabi- funded Middle East studies programs you will get your Caliwhos and even your Caliwhats. Neither the US Congress nor the White House, let alone Homeland Security, are paid to teach students; campuses are, and handsomely. Unfortunately they did a bad job in educating their pupils, and now they are putting the blame on the graduated students.

You didn’t have to be an expert on German history or philosophy in 1940 to know what a Reich is. Nor did you have to be a specialist in Roman History and Latin to understand what fascism was. If today’s Joe and Jane Doe aren’t familiar with the term Caliphate it is because “someone” didn’t help them to make the acquaintance and that another someone is still obstructing that knowledge by alleging that this is only for the high cast of academics. While tens of thousands of Jihadists are pledging to the Caliphate before they commit to suicide bombings, beheadings and wrecking havoc in civil societies around the world, some voices (not necessarily the authors of the articles but intellectuals who are offended by popular awareness) are complaining about even “raising the issue.”

Although finding that students in Islamic studies can barely understand the Caliphate, the article yet uses a Merriam-Webster’s “dictionary” to educate readers:

A caliphate, according to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, is the “office or dominion of a caliph”; a caliph is “a successor of Muhammad ... [the] spiritual head of Islam.”

Well, in Islam there is no such a thing as the spiritual head of Islam. One wonders how did Webster's come up with this “spiritual head of” concept other than projecting a Christian-centric concept? Prophet Mohammed, according to the Islamic faith is the last Prophet and the messenger of Allah. He didn’t organize the Caliphate before he died. His followers established this system of succession, which with time, became the head of the Islamic state, not an office for spiritual affairs. Even though the Caliphs were technically the successors to the Prophet at the head of the community, known as Umma, they were heads of Government, leviers of taxes, managers of prosperity, ultimate judges, and more importantly commanders in chief of imperial armies. Caliphs invaded countries and involved themselves in civil wars among Muslims. Dozens of Caliphs were killed in coup d’etats, putsches, battlefields, succession wars, etc. The Caliphate wasn’t just an office to interpret holy texts but it was also a real Governance and power position; the equivalent to the Papacy and Emperor rolled into one. Trivializing the institution of the Islamic Caliphate for 14 centuries just to score points against a sitting President for eight years in "infidel" America is absurd.

Then Miller and Philips go on to lecture on the Caliphate-101:

After the Prophet Muhammad died in 632 A.D., his father-in-law, Abu Bakr, became the first caliph. (At the heart of the schism between Sunni and Shia Muslims, even today, is the question of succession: who has the right to become Islam’s caliph?) From the time of the Prophet’s death until the Mongols sacked Baghdad in 1258, caliphs ruled over Muslims and presided over the Muslim expansion throughout the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Europe. These were the caliphates; some beneficent, some warmongering, in concept not unlike any other empire or dynasty.

So, the lesson from Newsweek article is that indeed the Caliphs were emperors and did wage wars. Some were benign, others harsh, as in any other empire. But that is important for average Americans to know and for Europeans to remember: Caliphs were involved in geopolitics and have declared Jihads, as did Christian emperors for centuries calling for divine wars. Hence, Caliphs aren’t spared criticism and aren’t shielded from historical analysis and judgment because they were strictly spiritual. Besides, even if they were, Caliphs aren’t deities and the Caliphate is a very earthly thing. Along with all other offices of power in world history, the Caliphates had blood on their hands and no one can dispute that.

But what was missed by the writers was that the US President, and before him President Putin, US Congressional leaders from both parties and Arab leaders such as King Abdallah of Jordan and others, when they mention the Caliphate as a threatening goal, they are not playing historians. They are not talking about Caliphs Omar, Moawiya, Haroun el Rashid or Sleiman the Magnificent. Those are the Caliphs of history, not the commanders of 21st century al Qaeda. Adolph Hitler wasn’t a German emperor from the Middle Ages but he pretended he was their heir. Mussolini wasn’t Julius Cesar but he played his role. Hence when world leaders are warning about the “Caliphate” they aren’t arguing with those who died centuries ago, but resisting the extremists who want to reawaken the dark ages again, but with modern weaponry.

The article imputes rightly to Usama Bin laden the many troubling statements about “his” caliphate:

“Baghdad, the seat of the caliphate, will not fall to you, God willing,” he said, “and we will fight you as long as we carry our guns.” Bin Laden’s rhetoric evoked, as it often does, an earlier, golden era of Islam, one that exists more in his imagination than in the lawless, crumbling city of Baghdad today.”

Precisely, as I explain in my book Future Jihad, the Salafi Jihadists live in the past, borrow from the past but their bloody projects are in the present and loom over the future. When leaders, because of the mishaps of academics, respond to al Qaeda, they are sending a firm message: “This” Caliphate, which is against international law and the enemy of Muslim moderates as well, won’t be allowed to crush the international community and democracies. But our media unfortunately are not interested in a smart and vigorous response to the terrorists, but only in what can be harvested domestically in partisan “debates.” This article is telling us that Bush (or the 1990s’ Clinton for that matter) or any future President shouldn’t utter the word Caliphate, even if it has been absorbed by the modern days Jihadists and used in their mobilization campaign. As if in 1941, American Presidents would have been criticized for the use of “Third Reich” because “many centuries ago, the Reich was perceived as the German nation re-gathered.” Puzzling, isn’t it?

But the academic inquiry turns quickly into the usual political thing. They write: “Backers of the war in Iraq—Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, not to mention hawks like Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania—jumped on the word and used it in speeches dozens of times.” It is sad to see a debate about a national security, war on terror, war of ideas, history and ideology, rushed into “backers of wars, hawks, jump on word,” litany. For the Caliphate debate isn’t about Republicans and Democrats but about the victory of democracy and the survival of the Republic. It is not a partisan thing but a national defense and world security matter.

And to top it the article consults with the Islamist lobby on the issue and elevate it to the position of ex cathedra on all things Islamic. They write:

Parvez Ahmed, chairman of the Council on American Islamic Relations, says bin Laden’s word choices distort Islam for the world, and he wishes the president would take more care. When Ahmed heard “caliphate” Wednesday morning, he thought of the way Bush used the word “crusade” after September 11. “There’s a fundamental misunderstanding with the president and his advisers on core Islamic issues,” Ahmed said. “He’s getting bad advice, they’re misinformed on Islamic terminology.” Either that, or he’s making a strategic rhetorical choice.

With all due respect to the opinions and analysis of the spokesperson quoted, the question is not who has the real interpretation of the caliphate or Jihad for that matter. CAIR and al Qaeda could debate these matters at will, and one would wish to see this debate happening soon. I mean a real and open debate between the American Islamist-based group on the one hand and Adam Gadahn or Zawahiri on al Jazeera. That would be very informative, but obviously it is technically difficult since Gadahn is indicted and Zawahiri is wanted for justice, both for terror. Nevertheless it would be more academically sound to interview some pro Bin Laden Salafi Jihadi clerics on what the Caliphate they are struggling for IS, and IS slated to become when the time comes, and compare what they are saying with what Western leaders are talking about. Apples shouldn’t be mixed up with Oranges in the War of Ideas.

Tony Blair, the enemy number two of the Jihadi-terrorists after Bush, said a few weeks ago that, yes, we need a war of ideas: a campaign of intellect inside Western democracies, so that the public can be made aware of the realities of the War on Terror. He made a great point. For the Caliphate debate shows more clearly than anything, how “Caliph-strophic” the discourse is among our dominant intellectual elites.

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omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Zionist Racism or Racist Zionism, both being of equal validity and applicability in that “racism” and “racist” are , intrinsic qualification ,inborn with Zionism and is its sine quo non and its sole theoretical raison d’etre.

As with all “racisms” Zionism has the three major distinctive components that mark them all:

a-The commonly shared feeling between the members, a majority or sometimes a minority, of a community, religious or otherwise, a nation, a “race”, an ethnicity etc that it together with its distinctive (UNIQUENESS) form a whole “identity” distinct from the rest of humanity.

b-That that distinctiveness, uniqueness, endows it with certain privileges , prerogatives, extra rights or rather “super rights” , not allowed others, all of which being born out or resulting in an inferiority or, mostly an invariably, a superiority complex .

c-The resulting feeling, always manifested in a certain BEHAVIOUR/outlook and several intrinsically immoral and universally rejected practices, that being “special” with “extra rights” not only empowers them to conduct themselves the way they do, invariably unethically and contrary to the laws of natural and universal justice, but an equally shared conviction, within that community/race/ethnicity, that that its behaviour and those practices , for the single reason that THEY, IT, were behind them, are, consequently moral and legitimate!
This behaviour and the special privileges and crimes that go with it , and try io justify (?) it, is mostly attributed to the special Mission entrusted to that presumed unique entity.( to maintain Aryan or White purity and to colonize “the promised land” for the sole benefit of “the chosen people”)

Modern times have witnessed several “racisms” notably Nazi, Afrikaner, (Southern) US
and Zionism.

Nazism founded its “racism” on the presumed ethnic exclusivity, uniqueness, and hence in born superiority, of the ARYAN race, as distinct from other races, and allowed itself to behave in the most atrocious manner towards all other ethnicities, real and presumed alike.
Both Afrikaner and US (Southern) racisms were founded on the presumed exclusivity and/or uniqueness, and hence inborn alleged superiority, of the WHITE race as distinct from other, mainly, “coloured” races allowed itself many heinous practices.
Both “Aryan ”Nazism and Afrikaner and US White racism lost their cause in due course as a result of military /militant action, international universal rejection of and hostility to their absurd racist claims and an eventual realization within “their own community” of , at best, its absurdity and ,at worst, of its nonviability and counter productivity.

Zionism racism, manifested by Zionist Israel, still maintains its absurd racist claim of:
-special prerogatives
-Entitlement to atrocious, counter human, anti legal actions,policies and practices.

Zionist racism has its roots in the unique, as compared to other monotheistic religions, Jewish belief that the Jewish faith is particular to the Jews and the original Jewish community, being, until recently but mostly except for some of its “liberal” offshoots, averse to spreading the faith and the enlargement of the community through missionary and other action.
Also to the equally absurd belief in ,of a common ethnic provenance/origin of that community.
Both of these attributes are manifested in the particularly ODD Jewish belief that to be a "real"Jew , according to the predominant conservative Judaism, one must be BORN out of a Jewish woman!
Thus precluding "converts", insuring the non admission of others, the nonproliferation of the uniquely selective faith, AND maintaining the blood, ethnic, racial/racist continuity i.e. “ blood purity” of new incomers into the faith.

To maintain both fantasies the Jewish conservative establishment worked endlessly and feverishly to combat other history or views on the subject.
The telling saga of Arthur Koestler stands out in this respect.
The late Arthur Koestler, a Jew of Hungarian decent (?) was fiercely attacked and ostracized by the Jewish conservative establishment, the then and present pre dominant influence, for writing and publishing a book, in the early fifties (?), “claiming”, according to said establishment, and “proving/demonstrating”, according to the rest of the world, that the majority of East European Jews, being the majority of all Jews at the time, were converted into Judaism and were NOT Born from JEWISH WOWEN. Thus negating both claims of uniqueness (exclusivity of the Jewish faith) and distinct ethnic/racial provenance through the mother’s, not father’s, ” blood”; both being major underpinnings of the Jewish/Zionist claim on Palestine

(The topical relevance of the both the book and the fierce opposition to its hypothesis is best understood in the light of the Jewish claim on Palestine.)

The presumed uniqueness and exclusivity of the Jews, for Zionist racism to hold and employ better, had to have a theoretical underpinning/justification of the EXCLUSIVITY of its community, the Jews of the world; this was readily found in the absurd, and extensively held, claim of being God’s “chosen People” with all the privileges, prerogatives and extra rights ( denied others) and practices that accompany it.

As with all “racisms” the BEHAVIOUR and practices of Zionist racism witnessed and was noted , was /IS characterized by some of the ugliest practices and ongoing policies of modern times.

The BEHAVIOUR of Zionist racism was characterized by the arrogant , self righteous and self induced and self centered , blind and blindness inducing belief in presumed Jewish extra rights and privileges to colonize a land from which they have been substantially absent for the last 20 centuries regardless of the fact, that it has been ,ever since , inhabited and populated by an indigenous native population of another human community and irrespective of the consequences of such a colonialist enterprise on the lives, well being and fortune of indigenous people that still inhabited it , the region and the world.
This BEHAVIOUR, attitude, was manifested in some of the least human, most immoral and least legitimate practices of modern times.
These practices included but are not by any standarrd limited to:
-The dislocation
-Dispossession and
-The Disfranchisement and Subjugation of an indigenous people, the Palestinian Arab people, in their homeland and supplanting them with persons, the Jews, selected, “franchised” and gathered on a purely declared and avowed RACIST basis.

-The Denial of displaced, during war activities, Palestinians their inalienable human right to RETURN to their homeland and the repossession of their legal properties.

-The ongoing denial of Palestinians, resident in their homeland, their right to freedom and liberation by the ongoing occupation of their homeland.

-The ongoing de jure and defacto expropriation and annexation of Palestinian lands.

(to name only a few of Zionist/Israeli practices that ensued from an unshakable RACIST ZIONIST doctrine and outlook on human affairs.)

Of the unholy trio of recent racisms two, the ARYAN and WHITE based , are now of the past darker times.
The sole survival, active and as destructive and aggressive as ever, is the equally ugly and equally pernicious ZIONIST Racism manifested daily in Israeli policies, practices and overall behaviour of aggression and constant denial of basic human rights.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

My answer to your question:
"... my question in all this is who will inherit the revolution, Shia or Sunni?":
(Although I am not sure what you mean by "revolution" I will try to answer your question assuming that you mean by it: intense Islamist political activity and wide public support.)

My answer then would be:
Neither and both.
I expect the Islamists to gain power in several Arab and Moslem countries but NOT in all of them.
And I personally do NOT expect a united Moslem state, caliphate or otherwise, stretching from Morocco in the West to Indonesia in the East to ever see the light of day nor do I think that that would be necessarily beneficial to any.

As to both; in those countries in which Islamists rise to power :countries with a predominant shiite majority like Iran will certainly follow the shiite way and those with a sunni majority ,say Egypt or Pakistan or Indonesia , would, like wise, follow the sunni way .

One thing though should be carefully noted: the present imperialist (US, UK)/Zionist-Israeli onslaught on Islam have brought these two major factions of Islam much closer to each other than any thing else in recent history and memory.

The recent war in Lebanon in which Hizb Allah, a declared shiite movement took the brunt, and reversed, the Israeli aggression made it the idol and ideal of all Moslems and Islamist movements; including the rank and file and leadership of the Moslem Brothers Brotherhood , its presumed sunni counterpart!

An invasion of Iran by the same imperialist/Zionist alliance
of the Bush /Wolfowitz administration could lead to a de facto fusion of all Islamist movements, sunni and shiite, into one mega movement.

Re OBL and al Qaeda neither is a major force nor exerts any real long term influence; both are marginal and transitory though , for obvious reasons, quite sensational and TV worthy in the anti Islam effort.

The campaign to present them, and/or one or several of their offshoots, as major long term players and/or representative of sunni Islam is, for obvious reasons, part of the overall neocon-Zionist anti Islam campaign I refer to in my post above #10089 and has absolutely no basis in reality or truth.

Just another imperialist/Zionist PR ploy!

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Never the less this is the truth behind the motive force of Israel: past and present and the truth should never be hidden nor sidelined!.
Zionism, however, is NOT dead ;it is alive and doing damage daily to my people and to yours,assuming you are of the USA .
Should you look around more carefully than you do you will agree...really perceptive that you certainly are.
To assume that nefarious Zionism is dead is self delusion and sometimes, often in the West, is attempting to avoid clashing with Zionists and being labelled as anti Semetic.
I fear neither nor worry about either; not to say that you do, with your record here on HNN I can tell that you do not.
To say that Zionism is dead is to say what it did is of the past and as such is accepted and can not be undone....and that no harm will come from it in the future
I disagree with that!
A crime is a crime no matter how long ago it was committed, and the criminal is a criminal for always and will go on committing crimes as long as he is not disclosed and punished.
No statue of limitation exists when it comes to this sort of crime ; to alow the criminal to go unscathed and to forget the crime is to partake, subconsciously ,in the crime, is to invite him to commit more of the same
and to condone his crime(s).
Should you Mr Clarke and I live long enough we will witness the undoing of the crime and the pubishment of the criminal.
My children and grand children will; yours might be too busy undoing the crimes committed by Zionism against the USA to notice.
Are you waiting for the USA/Iran war, and American failure therein, to find out conclusively that Zionism is not dead?

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

By the way Mr Clarke that was NOT a reaction to Phares' scientefically uninnocent post; he was doing the job he is paid to do or will loose it and possibly the Green Card to.
That was in reply to Mr Friedman's invitation to validate my often repeated reference to and invocation of racist Israel and racist Zionism.
Furthermore I have no desire nor ambition to be on US TV; having been there for sometime in the past I have come to the definite conclusion that Zionist dominated US TV and US PR in general is a holessly futile means to reach the US public .
The outcome of this millennial cofrontation will never be decided nor substantially influenced by US or other media.
Unfortunately it seems that when it comes to US awareness and public opinion forming only tens thousands of US casualutes can do that; the 60000 in VietNam for example.

I am here on HNN to note, for the record, that we are fully aware who and what our enemy is, I believe it is yours as well, who are his allies and the inherit falsehood of his claim and the vileness of his methods and the inherit danger for any or all to believe that he has changed or will ever change!
Witness their reaction to Avnery's thougtful posts; all, including a "Professor", they had to say was that he was a "pornographer" and not a single word about their contents!
Appreciate your well meant words though!

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Do you recall what was your FIRST reaction to Avnery's post?
You dod, though belatedly, do some "history" review at my constant prodding, right?

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

As in many other similar writings, this article is yet another effort to sideline the centrality of the Arab/Israeli conflict in the ME situation.
The rationalization behind these efforts is to obfuscate the situation and mislead western ,particularly American public opinion re the facts and reasons, the cause behind these facts.

Living in the ME and reading this and all alike I can only wonder at the blatant blindness of those who write such defective and unworthy appraisals of the situation; assuming always that they are genuine and not paid for such disinformation or are in the pay of a newspsper, magazine, TV station etc that belongs, directly ot indirectly, to the eneny; say, Rupert Murdoch et all.( A big IF?)

What I would like from you is to reflect on the fact and significance that all other mentioned signs of malaise, whether true or contrived for the occasion, are of an "internal" nature where as the Arab/Israeli conflict, with the USA et all involved in empowering Israel to regional super power status, is of "international" concern and repercussions.

What do you make of that I would dearly love to know? Allways remembering that Israel was ALLWAYS against any international involvement in any search for a settlement!

Baseless and unfounded accusations of Islamofascism and anti Semitism aside for now, let us see what the Professor has to say on this specific point.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Friedman
Re your post #100112.
Being part and parcel of that neocon-Zionist campaign to disfigure the nature and image of Islam I would not expect of you to say anything else than you do.
The most telling post in this particular thread ,as far as I can tell, is Simon's clear admission that this campaign , that he more accurately describes as a "conspiracy", does exist and that it is instigated and powered by the neo-con /Zionist alliance:
" Yep, there's where the anti-Islam conspiracy ,started, come think of it." ( Simon's Post #10061)

I believe that is a very important step forward: admitting the existence of a conspiracy to maliciously denigrate Islam and disfigure its image and, per force through a thorough follow up of what is being said, here, and by whom, disclosing the identity of the campaigners in that conspiracy .
To counter a malicious conspiracy of disinformation and dis education with reason is as silly and ineffective as healing a physiological disease with poetry!
You all have a role to play and are playing it.
The thing is turning into a dialogue with the deaf who counter with prepackaged replies, irrespective of their relevance to the immediate issue at hand!
I will deal with the pernicious racist nature of Zionism in a future post!
For now I am extremely happy with Simon's admission and do not want to distract attention from that.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Friedman
Your expectations are NOT my primary concern!
Note worthy is your total avoidance of Simon's admission of a neocon/Zionist "conspiracy".
I did NOT expect you to comment on that, for obvious reasons.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

According to today's Arabic newspapers Hilaly is resigning his posts in Ausralia under intense pressure from his fellow Australian Moslems who could no longer put up with this deranged cleric.
Good news for and by Moslems all over the world!

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Professor Eckstein
Never and NOT to you of all people, should there be reason to...which does not exist any way.
Good to document your firsr reaction of attacking Avenery's character and NOT what he had to say...
professorial? Seemingly with your standards .
I will never hesitate to apologize to a gentleman should a real need to arise but NOT to you!
Review your record and recall the respect I showed you in our earlier confrontations to find out how civil and respectful I was!
By falsely accusing me, slandering me, of being an Islamofascist and an anti Semite you lost all respect...

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Friedman
"To wean" is hardly civil; propose using other words

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Relative to, compared to, Western mores, practices and standards Islam would look backward in the West.
By any standard, mainly ours, some of its aspects are backward.
Where to draw the line between forward looking and the (some)present backward practices WITHOUT adopting Western mores, practices and standards has been engaging many progressive mainstream Moslem and Islamist thinkers all over the Moslem world.
On one thing they are unanimously agreed: Western standards are NOT the model nor are they to be adopted, emulated, in toto.
On another issue they are also unanimous: we need no education from no foreign body.
Should some of the reformed standards look like, or even be identical to, Western standards that is no reason to reject them as long as they have evolved and has been developed internally and NOT simply copied from the West or undertaken under Western pressure.

That is NOT reinventing the wheel; that is, would be the normal evolution of things independently from extraneous, usually hostile, influences.

Important progress has been achieved theoretically and practically re women and minority rights in several Moslem countries this way.

We owe no party, except ourselves, a "statement of accounts" on how much was achieved and what is in progress!

Copying the west, known here as Westernization, is a dirty word in Arab and Moslem lexicon due mainly to the fact that it has always been attempted by colonialist powers, as by France in Algeria in the recent past, and by imperialist powers, as with the USA presently.
Calls for reform, the few genuine and the many otherwise, by the West will be automatically perceived as attempts at Westernization and will be readily opposed and rejected; a natural cultural reflex, considering our unhappy past and present relationship.
Sincere attempts at "education" will be similarly received and construed by many as things stand now between us.
Defamation is the, often paid, "mission" of some, here at HNN (?) and else where; in essence it is a deception, disinformation, dis-education effort aimed at the West and has no effect on us.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

"Defamation is the, often paid, "mission" of some, here at HNN (?) and else where;"

Professor Eckstein

If and when you learn the meaning of(?)then you may allege that an accusation was made.
However your urge to hurl insults and accusations is neither new nor surprising; considering your record.

You are hoplessly blinded, incurrably sick.
Pity the students that have to put up with you

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Friedman
Bad diagnosis leads to bad medicine particularly if the MD is NOT interested in the well being of the entity under consideration and is a bad MD to start with.

However if you stand by your expression:
" - unless they (the Arabs and the Moslems/my addition) plan to descend further into barbarism -"

Then you would be much more ignorant, self deluding and racially blinded that the impression you have already made on many.
That would NOT distress me; it should make you worry !

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Schrepfer
Do you not think that, at heart, ALL religions desire "to be the world's only religion"?
According to them it would be selfish to monopolize the "true faith" as all perceive themselves to be.
Is it not in the very nature of all universal dogmas to think that they are the best, the optimum, the final word and, if truly altruistically motivated, to wish to be the sole creed?
For the entire universe to partake in the ensuing bliss.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

"Caliphate", although unique to Islam, simply denotes a political governance system with a "calipha" at its head; as such, as a term denoting the appellation of the head of the system, “Caliphate” is liable to be as benign, evil or mixed, as much as a "monarchy", with a monarch at the head of the system, is liable to be.

Intrinsically it is neither necessarily evil nor necessarily benovelent ...just as “monarchy" is necessarily neither this nor that.

Dr Phares is correct in pointing out the importance of a specific feature of the “Caliphate” system in his delineation of the powers of the "caliphs" of yore which historically ,and hence “inevitably”, vested both ultimate temporal and spiritual/religious powers in one and the same person; the "calipha".
(Calipha literally means the successor to the Prophet ; Prophet Mohamed having historically wielded both powers; thence "inevitably") .
He is subjective and wrong on every other major point he raises particularly the political implications of “Caliphate” and “Calipha” .

Dr Phares has missed, or intentionally dismissed the following important points:.
*That none of the major Islamist parties and movements advocates the return to the “Caliphate” system with the notable exception of old but mainly ineffective “Hizb Al Tahrir Al Islami”
*THAT the complex repercussions of vesting both temporal and religious power in one entity have been under reconsideration by serious, main stream, Islamists almost everywhere.

* That present day Iran, an Islamist state, does NOT have a "calipha" nor is ruled by a “Caliphate”.
Realizing the complexity and potential untold repercussions of vesting both temporal/political etc and religious powers in one entity Khomenists grabbled with the apparent dichotomy of dual power and came up with a complex system that attempts a separation of powers .

The worst thing about this essay, however, is that Dr Walid Phares himself has seemingly embarked on his own personal “dis-educating” campaign by eagerly supporting and energetically contributing to the "dis-education" on Islam effort ; a major recent initiative of the overall anti Islam campaign of the neocon/Christian fundamentalist-Zionist/Jewish alliance.( and Dr Walid Phares?)

That "Moslem Caliphate", a basic element in Islamic history and culture and a major precept of Islam, shall come to be instinctively associated with and evocative of " Third Reich" in the minds of the American public, and "calipha" with "Hitler" as deliberately intended by the Bush/Wolfowitz administration, is not in the long term interest of the USA nor of the Moslem world.
It will only lead to further polarization and alienation between the two.

Theoretically a "caliphate" could be anti imperialist and democratic as much as it could be pro western and despotic depending on many other factors; as much as "monarchy" is liable to be.


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

In a typical herd move the Zionist cabal , here at HNN, is attempting to make al Hilaly an other, though on a much smaller scale, OBL!
No body, or a silent few, bothered to inquire, and research, whether this deranged clerick is of any importance and/or of repressentative value for his utterings, whether correctly and accurately reported or not,to be given the importance and attention they received.
But that, his importance, his representative value and/or influence does NOT matter; what matters is: in him they have a new opening to resume their doctrinaire denigration and vilification of Islam campaign...
That is what matters with the cabal; the disinformation and diseducation of the general nonspecialist and uncommitted reader (their mortal enemy).
All of the cabal gave al Hilaly undue importance and, by implication, a representative value for them to justify and pursue their campaign.
The unworthy, and seemingly deranged, professor stands out with his earth shattering discovery that al Hilaly is a "supporter" (a "supporter and not a "member"; few will note the importance of the difference) of Hizb Allah with all that that implies re the party which dragged his beloved Israel through the mud recently.
Further more being what he is this same professor went so far as to strongly imply that al Hilaly' stand ( now that he, the prof, hopefully, knows the meaning of the word "sharia") is a genuine dictate of the sharia (#100519) and NOT , possibly,Hilaly's own interpretation of the sharia.
Why do not we all ask ourselves: who ever heard of al Hilaly before?

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

More Kovashaving worthy of nothibg more than benign neglect.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Too late to converse with you sensibly Prof until you retract your heinous accusations of Islamofascism and anti Semitism!

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr Clarke
Mr, sorry,Professor ? Eckstein's post above #100560 is typical of his deranged interpretation of the meaning of words and sentences.
I perceive his writings re others' posts to be the forced, bent and way offf EXTRAPOLATIONS of a sick, closed mind hell bent on proving his point, or disproving others' in a manner to confirm his preconceived prejudices and biases.
Over all the real and only victims of this( serial?) fish killer are his unfortunate student!

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Should three or four or ,in this case, two and a half repeat the same lie does not make it a truth.

omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Mr. Simon
I welcome your belated and overdue admission of a neocon/Zionist campaign to disfigure the true nature and image of Islam.

However your attempt at equating it with "western civilization" in your proposed equation :

" neocon/Christian fundamentalist-Zionist/Jewish alliance"="Western Civilization."
is too optimistic, imbued with an overdose of wishful thinking and self delusion and much too early to make it valid .

You and yours certainly do work at making it so, selfishly sacrificing the interests of the West at the alter of aggressive ,Zionist and racist Israel.
But your campaign is being progressively recognized for what it is: another BIG LIE; the 20th century epilogue to the other BIG LIE: "a land with no people for the people with no land".

I am heartened by recent developments in the West which demonstrate this belated Western awareness of your , plural, designs; namely:
* Recent Spanish elections
* The unseating of Berlusconi
*The turmoil in the British Labour Party
(all , inter alia, direct and indirect symptoms of a reawakening Europe)
* US public increasing disenchantment with President Bush and his Iraqi adventure/fiasco ( a direct outcome of Zionist/AIPAC/Israeli influence and pressure)
* The Shavez phenomena; likely to be repeated all over South America
(in the Americas)
*The reaction to the recent failed Israeli aggression against Lebanon and the rejoicing at its outcome.
(World wide.)

In the long term confrontation that pits us against each other all are portents that belie the validity of your equation.
If you happen to know Arabic I remind you of the saying: " in ghaden li nathiruhu...karib".

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Whatever Juan Cole is up to these days, he is not sacrificing his social life going onto HNN commment boards to post hundreds of sloppy insults, hose out cheap lies (how can Williams be my "friend" - I never met him and have no real desire to ever do so) and conduct third-rate McCarthyite character assassination and guilt-by-association witch hunts. Hypocrite Eckstein's typical retort when such behavior -which surely wins no teaching awards- is exposed, is to say that the criticism of him is "ad hominen." As are 90% of his posts here. However "strange" Juan Cole's ideas may be, he IS a specialist of the modern Mideast and NOT a professor of Ancient History coming on like a Kindergarten imitation of Joe Flaming Posterior Grand Inquisitor of all Imagined Closet "Islamofascists," to hurl his own self-made mud in all directions.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

This is an old, rotten, and never very useful debate you seek to reignite here, Mr. Baker, and I really cannot see any useful purpose. It makes you sound as obstinate, shrill, and terminology-obsessed as our Caliphatian Phares in the article here, and I suppose that was NOT your intention.

Phares, by all evidence thus far, starts from the desire to make radical Islam look as much like Nazism as possible, perhaps so that Donald Duck Bush and Corporate Welfare Junky Cheney can be presented as latter-day Churchill and FDR. Or so that Americans can wipped into a fear-based frenzy to sacrifice their future as a nation upon the altar of the neo-con and Al Qaeda joint fantasy of a "Clash of civilizations" / World War III or IV / War on "Terror" or Other Abstract Nouns. Calilphatobia seems to be crucial to this propaganda plan, hence Phares's lament when this "goal" of Al Qaeda is shown to be a marginal or distant fantasy not at all central to understanding the real problem of Islamic terrorism.

You, I regret to note, appear to have staked out a quite similar kind of extreme vocabularly-based position.

As I and others have pointed out to you on more than one past occasion, Zionism was the historical movement, born in late 1800s nationalist-minded Europe, to establish a Jewish state in the traditional Old Testament region of Jews. That movement succeeded when Israel has was established in 1948 and most of the world has accepted its existence as a Jewish homeland for many decades. Even, if we can believe professor LeVine (last week), Hamas accepts it. There is no more reason for Zionism to exist, except as a kind of past-looking nostalgia, it is already long dead, and the many stupidities and evils committed by the Israel regimes (especially stupidly and harmful to the Israel people themselves in the last 5-6 years) can only be effectively examined on their own terms, and not through the prism of some mythical Zionism Bogeyman -every bit as fear-laded and ludicrous as the Caliphatian notion that Bin Laden is about to sweep into power as the head some kind of Arabian Third Reich.

But you have no time for common sense it seems. You concoct an atypical definition of "race" (usually it means some kind of biological group, when it is not descredited altogether as a system of classification or analysis) designed to fit as closely as possible a historically lame myth of Zionism as the driving force of world history TODAY, and then conflate the two.

You start from the forgone conclusion that the existence (not the policies or actions) of a Jewish state in the Mideast is the great evil of nowadays, and contort vocabulary to "prove" the premise. Phares starts from the forgone absurdity, if not deliberate lie, that America must equate 9-11 with Pearl Harbor, Bin Laden with Hitler, Fratboy Bush with DFR and view rag tag of mutually antagonistic petty dictatorships, shadowy cells, medieval tribes, failed states, and hundreds of millions of peaceful mosque attendes as some kind of giant Orwellian Nuremburg rally. And hounds anyone not bowing to worship Caliphatobia.

You, Mr. Baker, are not the great TV star "scholar" Phares is, but if you inverted your diatribe so as to rail against "Islamofascists" and Caliphates, instead of "racist Zionists" you could perhaps make the big time spotlight, like Phares, instead of lurking in the shadows here on HNN.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

If 4 people "are not a monolith" I suppose you will now finally agree that 400+ million "Eurabians" are not either

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

"The categorization of you [Williams] as a believer in Jewish/Zionist conspiracies came from Peter Clarke--it's what he called a breath of fresh air."

This is certainly NOT what I said, ever. Find the real quote in the full context if you can, and try to evade owning up to your pathological serial lying and distortion. You are here to "expose," Eckstein, and you are: yourself.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Eckstein, the most rude, deceitful, and insult-laden distortionist to hit HNN in a long time wants an APOLOGY from ANYBODY else here?!

What a hoot.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

With one or two possible slight exceptions, I doubt whether anyone on this page would dispute that many aspects of modern Islam are backward, undemocratic, and anti-female. I would go further and say that in my view Islam as a whole is behind other major religions in progress towards needed reform in such areas.

Does any well-meaning pro-Western observer in their right mind, however, think that going on rude emotional witch hunts to "expose" concocted and misleadingly misattributed or trivially politically incorrect statements by Moslems or about Islam (or anything else) and generally insulting the religion and its adherents, is any viable way to promote the necessary reforms?

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

The German history summary is pretty good, Williams but there is a correlation vs causation problem which takes over by the time you get to American campaign financing. All the money in the universe spent on wall-to-wall 24 hour diaherria negative advertising, for example, cannot make make a collosal incompetent, like the current goofball American president, immune from electoral punishment for his serial towering disasters, and pigheaded denial thereof.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

There will be no apology here, Mr. Eckstein, especially since you are up to your old tricks again while demanding one.

I invited you to "find the real quote in the full context" which you failed to completely do. For rather unsurprising reasons, it seems to me.

The FULL context INCLUDES (but is not limited to) a discussion board connected to the HNN article of
9-25-06 entitled

"Islamofascism ... Bush Is on to Something"

By Daniel Mandel

located at


There any reader can find the whole page, featuring the over 300 comments, including multiple entries by

Eckstein (101)
Clarke (42)
Simon (35)
Friedman (25)
Amitz (16)
Baker (16)
Williams (16)

and maybe judge for himself (and incidentally perhaps why "herself" rarely applies) whether any apologies are in order and from whom.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

You are wasting your curiously abundant time, Eckstein. I have not bothered to drudge up the worst of your month-old statements to try to smear you. That pastime is your obsession, as any rare individual having the time to look at the full sweep of your strange involvement on HNN could not help but notice. No professor of history remotely approaches your track record here: Zero articles and scores of rude character-attack-based comments, rarely addressing the articles they should be addressing, but mostly levied against other commenters on those articles

The clarifying or “disavowing” that you seem to think is now suddenly required, out of the blue, from the out-of-context irrelevant exchange of a month ago was already addressed then. Here is a tiny but pertinent fraction of your omitted context:



Islamofascism ... Bush Is on to Something By Daniel Mandel

“...Accordingly, for all its obvious shortcomings, Bush's reference to "Islamofascism" has merit. For reasons that are indeed similar to those of the 1930s, peace has proved elusive, conflict is brewing and the only question is if the democracies will again allow themselves to be gulled into sleep on the eve of a supreme test.”

Gulled to sleep (#98227)
by Peter K. Clarke on September 25, 2006 at 11:37 AM

Conflict is not only brewing, it is being served daily: In Afghanistan, in Iraq, on the West Bank, in Sudan, and everywhere vile murderous Islamic terrorists -pretending to be great warriors and heroes of nations- are aided and assisted by the pigheaded and pathological blunderings of the Cheney-Bush administration, which claims that its massively failed anti-terrorism campaign is a "war" which America and the world has no choice but fight using its arrogantly incompetent non-plans.

Bush, and his apologia such as the article here, like to compare the Draft-Dodging Frat Boy to Churchill in the Battle of the Britain or FDR in his fireside chats. He is actually more like Mussolini in Ethiopia. A still closer analogy would be Kaiser William II. The remaining difference being that the Kaiser wanted peace and did not need war to be re-appointed.

Re: a possible first idea of his own? (#98487) by art eckstein on September 28, 2006 at 1:57 PM

Clarke's one and ONLY contribution to our discussion of these issues is the continuing mantra: "I hate Bush, I hate Bush, I HATE BUSH!!!" That's it, E.S.!

Mr. Clarke, we get the idea. Unfortunately, it doesn't help much with the actual issues we are addressing.

wrong, as usual (#98493)
by Peter K. Clarke on September 28, 2006 at 2:21 PM

I do not "hate" Cheney's tool

Oh really?... well tell us what you really think (#98504)
by E. Simon on September 28, 2006 at 3:31 PM

Peter, please then, give us an in-depth, analysis of what your feelings toward Mr. George W. Bush consist of, since I am very curious as to why discussions of him in the terms you use comprise about at least 1/3 of the words you devote to your posts on HNN.

Again, tell us your FEELINGS on the matter, as your rebuttal of the term "hate" makes YOUR FEELINGS on such an extensive matter as the person of G.W.B. that you drone on about are now very relevant to this discussion, thanks to your quick but rather incomplete attempt at clarifying them.

Be my guest, Mr. Irrelevancy (#98507)
by Peter K. Clarke on September 28, 2006 at 4:09 PM

If you want true confessions, go ahead. Never mind the HNN rules you are the all time worst violator of. Tell us how long you've been battering your "significant other," and all about your hateful FEELINGS towards Moslems, and what History courses you ever took in your life.

Re: Be my guest, Mr. Irrelevancy (#98511)
by E. Simon on September 28, 2006 at 5:09 PM

This "I know you are but what am I? - (oh wait, you don't get an answer to what am I)" stuff won't work. Besides, I'm better at it than you are. And what I do know is that intense, passionate feelings (like love and hate) are related. So when it comes to your intensely raging, obsessive scorn for Bush, I think, "well, unrequited love can leave some nasty scars, but maybe someday Peter will get over them."

I can see we're pretty much done with you here. But in the meantime I can see you've taken to enlightening Don Williams on the higher art of anti-Neo-Con, somesuch, blah blah bedfellow making. I'm sure he will appreciate it, as one of the more notorious (and obsessive) Holocaust deniers HNN has ever seen. I'm sure I can find you the evidence of it from last year, if I gather enough time and interest.

Re: Be my guest, Mr. Irrelevancy (#98513)
by E. Simon on September 28, 2006 at 5:22 PM

Wow. I can see his "the Jews invented Communism" angle has really tickled your fancy. Enjoy the foray with your fellow traveler in the art of historical inanities, political labelling and conspiracy theorizing, just hope it isn't too long until you have to scrounge to dissociate yourself from long acts devoted to discerning your active participation from plausible deniability in encouraging a Holocaust denial thread. Though it seems at least he's more your type of scholar, which is nice.


word to the wise (#98526)
by Peter K. Clarke on September 28, 2006 at 8:23 PM

On a website stuffed to the gills with egomaniac Likudnik rapers of history, an occasional anti-Israeli conspiracy theorist or Zionism-obsessed Arab is a welcome change of pace. Please shout your silly heads off at each other the way your idols do in every dust-clogged Mideast desert hell-hole. Real Americans, whenever they bother to pay attention, are not fooled. Take that into your solopsistic cocoon Simon and spin it into whatever tirade of crybaby insult retorts you wish. I could not care less what you think. You are dishonest to the core. Should you ever get a clue re basic historical reasoning and civilized discourse, I'll look forward to reading you on some website such as H-Net. You have the brains to be something of value. Pity about the morals.

Re: word to the wise (#98531)
by art eckstein on September 28, 2006 at 9:11 PM


Clarke writes as follows:

"Likudnik rapers of history"-- but opposed to "real Americans" such as himself (that's as opposed to us, Simon and Friedman!) "are not fooled."

Folks, just like Clarke's friend Patrick Ebbitt, and just like his friend the crazed Muslim totalitarian Omar, Clarke has now revealed himself to be what he is: a VICIOUS AND PRIMITIVE ANTI-SEMITE.

At least it's out in the open now.

word to the unwise (#98539)

by Peter K. Clarke on September 28, 2006 at 10:19 PM
Paranoid and unfounded accusations: the last refuge of the intellectually lazy. I have not made the slightest pejorative remark about any religion. Go back to your neo-Wallersteinian mumbo jumbo, and sorely neglected, if not warped, Roman history, Eckstein, and leave the insult boards here to people not entrusted ('tis human to err) with tenured university instruction.

In any case (#98540)
by E. Simon on September 28, 2006 at 10:27 PM

I urge anyone following this to check out Peter K. Clarke's idea of what a mere "anti-Israeli conspiracy theorist" looks like. Since his context isn't clear, we are not sure whether Mr. Clarke considers Mr. Williams to also be a real American, as opposed to a raper of history. I'm sure that as someone devoted to killing or praising messengers as opposed to messages, he would gladly let us know.

Be sure to pay extra special attention to the distortions and defamation that Mr. Williams employs, as Sara Salzman - who recounts Deborah Lipstadt's ordeals in discrediting the notorious Holocaust denier David Irving - in correcting Mr. Williams' gross errors, patiently and successfully walks him through some remedial historiography, despite his repeated personal attacks against her (and everyone else who doesn't outright buy his wholesale claims). This is the type of individual that Mr. "Clarke" considers a "welcome change of pace."

Re: word to the wise (#98543)
by N. Friedman on September 28, 2006 at 10:40 PM

Why are you so bitter?

You really are descending far into the gutter.

Take a deep breath, rest computer-strained eyes, etc. (#98560)
by Peter K. Clarke on September 29, 2006 at 4:00 AM

Calm down, boys. The storm troopers are not coming for you in the night. At least, not any time soon, nor with my blessing. I do not endorse Holocaust denial lite from Williams or Holocaust denial wacko from Smith or Holocaust denial evil from Irving. I am on the record here many times opposing all forms of anti-Semitism. And you guys (at least Friedman and Simon) know this damn well, so cut the silly misattributing. I think Simon is arrogant and irrelevant in his hundreds of posts, always hijacking other threads and never daring to comment directly on an article himself, and should either clean up his act or get lost, and I think that all three of you are far too unquestioningly loyal to a fantasy Israel that never existed and thus inclined to be aligned with the interests of the Likud contingent there, and that you're also rather excessively anti-Islam. But, Simon obviously has little intention of following either commendable course of action, and zebras aren't going to change stripes and so be it.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

You and I have both made some stupid remarks here in past weeks and months, Simon, so there are no grounds for either of us climbing onto the high horse. Unlike Eckstein, you at least HAD some cause for complaint, four weeks ago when I was rather unnecessarily rough on you, albeit not without provocation. But this is no reason to indulge Eckstein’s tangential Grand Inquisitor attempt here to jusifiy his initial gratuitous slur of me as a Holocaust denier, in the current thread . Even if you and he were essentially on the same side of a debate a month ago that warranted not a fraction of the 300+ posts made in it, and which does warrant revisiting in detail here (on this page which is similarly over-attended to).

Now then, do you not have something to say about the notion that Al Qaeda or "Islamists" are motivated more by a desire to "restore the Caliphate" than by death-wishes, wounded pride, anti-Semitism, anti-modernism or the desire to capitalize on the mistakes made by American governments who have in various turns supported the Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden's Mujahadeen against the Soviets, the Taliban against drug lords, the drug lords against the Taliban, the Saudi bankrollers of Al Qaeda, the Pakistani perpretators of nuclear technology, and a host of crooks and incompetents in Iraq post failed-cakewalk, not to mention the failed oppression and brutality of Ariel Sharon? Save it for another time if you prefer, and spare the adhominens for another much later other time too, please. Believe me, that later request will be easier to adhere to by staying on the topic of the article.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. F.,

I agree with the gist of your remarks. I think if you have the time to waste going back thoroughly over one of the dumber weeks on HNN, you will agree that nobody here (including the editors of HNN who chose the ultimately shallow semantical question (“Islamofascism”) as the “hot topic” of that week) have much reason to feel proud. I think the only regret I would care to personally express here now is the ultimately irrelevant lumping together of three clearly aligned but also clearly independently-minded posters (in the statement of mine obsessed upon by Eckstein above).

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

One different between "BS ghost stories" and history, or even decent journalism, is that in the latter two instances, a reasonable effort is made to develop a comprehensive picture.

For example:

Were the victims convicted of the gang-rapes referred to here Moslem women?

I would not suggest that it makes any moral or legal difference to the crime committed against them whether they worshipped Allah, Buddah, Confucius or Crocodile Dundee. But it does make a historical and political difference as to whether this undoutedly highly and deliberately unrepresentative example is one of a cleric trying to impose his views on an entire country, or to convince the followers of his religion in that country of such views.

Protestants in Italy do not live in fear that the Pope intends to try to burn them at the stake should they be seen buying condoms. This of course also raises the question of the position of Muslim authorities in Australis is regarding separation of religion and state.

These are the sorts of critical questions which are akin to the question of what happens to all the dead people who don't become ghosts to and haunt houses. Or why, in movie car chase scenes no one ever jumps into a car hoping to find the keys in it, only to find NO keys.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

The "deliberateness" is your endless selective use (in this and many other threads) and deceptive abuse (not in this thread, but in many others) of history and current events, in order to smear and intimidate other posters, and to advance neo-con Islamphobic propaganda.

How many Moslems are there in Australia?
How many of them endorse this one rape-apologist?
Where did you come across this story?

These are among the sorts of questions a freshman student would be advised to consider when writing an OBJECTIVE essay on this affair. Propagandists have other criteria for formulating their epistles.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

"We already have Mr. Clarke saying above that in those Australian gang-rapes of women by Muslim men, if they were Muslim women who were "immodestly dressed" than this is a less serious issue than if they were Australian Christians."

I did NOT say that, you foul liar Eckstein!

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. Phares's long piece here amounts to a lament against one lone article decrying the use of a particular term to describe a supposed objective of Islamic terrorists. I say "supposed", because the main point of any form of terrorism is to blow things up or murder people, or to somehow strike terror in them. Terrorism is a means, which may or may not be connected to one or more ends, clear, tangible and likely or -more usually- vague, utopian, and unhitched from reality.

Why is Phares so hung up on terminology, instead of talking about history and policy (which this website is supposed to be about)?

If the "Caliphate" is such a big deal to Al Qaeda et al, why does Phares's long winded rant include zero quotations by Bin Laden or other key figures using that term?

Maybe one of our resident Caliphatians (you know who you are) can rescue Phares from a state of utter unpersuasiveness.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

"All I am asking you to do is to clarify your position."

Of course that is not what you are doing, as anyone reading through the thread above can see. Like any serial liar you are throwing one falsehood upon the next to try to cover your tracks. It is time for you to cease your childish and cowardly campaign to rubbish and intimidate other HNN posters, and to either go back to your neglected duties as a scholar of ancient history, or if you must detract from your university responsibilities to send in many hundreds of posts to the comment boards here (unlike any other professor) to concentrate on real and legitimate historical issues, such as whether or not a particular episode is representative of a broader pattern, as any history STUDENT OUGHT to have learned to do in his lower division courses.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

"Eckstein [is] merely asking Clarke to clarify whether or not he thinks rapes of Muslims are less important (historically, politically, culturally or otherwise) than rapes of other Australians...which we, I remind everyone - have yet to receive."

I made my point very clear in the passage cited by Eckstein just
three posts above:

"But it does make a historical and political difference as to whether this undoutedly highly and deliberately unrepresentative example is one of a cleric trying to impose his views on an entire country, or to convince the followers of his religion in that country of such views."

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

The factual accuracy of Eckstein's cut and paste examples is no excuse for his deliberately and deceitfully putting misleading words into the mouths of anyone questioning in the slightest way his interpretation of those (representative or unrepresenative) examples.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Your compulsive lying, Eckstein, is becoming tiresome. Nowhere did I ever say this rape-excusing Moslem spokesman's comments are "not to be taken seriously."

Obviously, according to your own excerpted press accounts, this matter has been taken seriously by the responsible Australian authorities.

How representative he is of the general feeling and tendencies of Moslems in Australia or anywhere else remains unclear from anything presented in this thread.

You may have been asleep in grade school when the point about "two sides to every story" was made, but that is no excuse for you to engage in non-stop misattributions of anyone who was NOT asleep during that lesson in basic fairness and objectivity.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

...I wanted to say in the title of the post above

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Friedman, We have had some discussions about Phares and, separately I think, about Caliphatism before, but here is a chance, not more than that, to get deeper into what this is really all about. Historical truth does not rank high on the list of possibilities.

You are right that Williams is in Adhominenland here, but you have also presented no evidence disputing his (and others here too) well-founded essential assertion that this Caliphate obsession is a bogus ruse designed to dupe people into believing in fear-based false parallels with past empire builders (as opposed to fantasizing fanatics).

In all the many well-publicized statements from Al Qaeda and other Islamics over the past 5 years or so, I can recall just one mention along the lines of calling for restoring the Ottoman-Moorish highwater mark of the medieval/early modern era. To the extent that these Jihading Islamists have any consistent lines at all, they seem to be vastly more agitated about the presence of Israel, and of US troops in the Mideast, than about some far-fetched unification of hundreds of far-flung Arab and Moslem tribes under one gleichgeschalted Reich. I am not saying that some horror fantasy of an evil Taliban-like empire could never happen. But I don't think any of the cave-dwelling videomakers, cafe exploders or carbombers in such profusion of late are likely to ever evolve into some new Muslim Hitler. Even Achmijahid is a far cry from the 1930s Fuehrer. Germany after was the most powerful empire in the world during Adolf's formative painting years, but the last Persian empire of note was many centuries before Mohamed going to the mountain or vice versa. Any new Islamic totalitarianism is much likely to blindside us from some unexpected direction just as Bolshevism and Fascism suddenly popped up almost out of nowhere in the long view of things.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

I don't know or give damn who "Ismail Roye" is and never cited him in my life.
Not a "coupla weeks" or ever.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Friedman, we both know that there have been many complicated and confused situations, misunderstandings, and overheated shouting matches here on HNN. This isn't one of them.

Eckstein gave us this example from Australia. Williams is probably right to assume that he searched hard to find the most damning example of an outrageous speech by a Moslem cleric. Nevertheless it is a relevant example, worthy of a bit of closer scrutiny.

The essential facts of the rape-condoning remarks are not in dispute here, even if the exact status of the particular leader in the Moslem hierarchy remains unclear.

I asked a couple of dozen posts above whether the victims of the condoned rapes were Moslems, making it abundantly clear that this detail had nothing to do with the moral or legal character of the crime, but that it was relevant to the issue of whether the advocated policy (veils for women) was being advocated for all women or only Moslem women. That question was eventually answered factually and the answer has not been disputed. The victims were not Moslems.

Eckstein has, however, tried to claim half a dozen times here that I said something I did not say. I did not say that the al-Hilaly remarks were "less serious" or "less of a threat" depending on the religion of the victims of the rapes al-Hilaly thought were understandably provoked. I was challenging Eckstein to provide a bit of analysis and substantiation, by way of this detail, to help establish whether this case was not the raving of some abarrant barbarian, but actually an indication of a general Moslem desire to impose misognyst mores upon non-Moslems. The detail I asked about was relevant to whether or not the Aussie "Mufti" was trying enforce a backward form of Islam on Moslem or to impose it upon non-Moslems. This is a detail relevant to the overall question of how important a goal for radical Islamists is restoring an Islamic "Caliphate" to areas and people not currently subject (and in most cases, not in favor of) being ruled politically under Islamic law. By no means did I suggest that this detail alone answers the general question. In any case, it does NOT justify Eckstein misattributing comments to me, and then lying over and over and beeping over again to try to cover up his outrageous insulting and slander-oriented behavior.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

(to forestall a further round of tiresome lies)


"al-Hilaly thought were understandably provoked."

in the last paragraph, 2nd sentence above

I meant

al-Hilaly tried to rationalize.

Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Where? On page 22?

Here was the New York Times said. I normally read it online and can't tell where this was in the paper. I doubt it was on or near the front page.

A rather different take here than Eckstein's selective quotations which lead one to the impression that the cleric got away with no punishment at all. On an objectivity scale of 1-10, I would rate New York Times and Eckstein as being at least 7 points apart.

Mosque Punishes Leading Cleric in Australia


Published: October 27, 2006

CANBERRA, Australia, Friday, Oct. 27 — Australia’s top Muslim cleric has been barred from preaching for three months after he compared women who dress immodestly to meat that is left uncovered and then attracts cats. But the government on Friday denounced the punishment as too lenient.

The comments by the cleric, Sheik Taj el-Din Hamid Hilaly, the mufti of Australia’s biggest mosque, outraged many Muslims and other Australians and prompted calls for his firing and deportation.

On Thursday night the Australian Lebanese Muslim Association, which owns the mosque, suspended him.

On Friday, Prime Minister John Howard said that was not enough.

“I believe that unless this matter is satisfactorily resolved by the Islamic community, there is a real worry that some lasting damage will be done,” Mr. Howard told Australian radio. “We do not want the Islamic community isolated. We do not want the Islamic community to be an object of criticism and derision.”

Mr. Howard said that Mr. Hilaly, who was born in Egypt and courted controversy two years ago by glorifying martyrdom and calling the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States the work of God, was now an Australian citizen and could not be deported.

Mr. Hilaly has apologized for his recent comments, which he said had been misinterpreted and taken out of context. He attended prayers at his mosque, the Lakemba Mosque in Sydney, on Friday, but did not give the sermon.

In a Ramadan sermon last month, he said sexual assaults might not happen if women wore a hijab and stayed at home.

“If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it,” he said, according to the translation, “whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat? The uncovered meat is the problem.”

His sermon has again strained relations between the conservative government and sections of Australia’s Muslim population, constituting 1.5 percent of the 20 million Australians.

Tom Zreika, president of the Australian Lebanese Muslim Association, said the three-month suspension was intended to give Mr. Hilaly time to consider his future and the impact of his comments.

Don Williams - 10/31/2006

I grew up in the South. I learned one lesson: never trust a Baptist preacher who drives a Cadillac with white sidewall tires.

And if a preacher has his own radio or TV station, grab your wallet and run.

See http://www2.kenyon.edu/Depts/Religion/Fac/Adler/Politics/Israel's%20Christian%20Soldiers.htm

A. M. Eckstein - 10/30/2006

It is NOT indifference; these are terrible things. BUT the issue is the justification or excusing of gang-rape on religious grounds and blaming the woman by a major major Muslim cleric. That is what al-Hilaly was doing. I don't think GW does that...

Don Williams - 10/30/2006

1) When i stated in the above post:
"Some excerpts from Australian papers that Eckstein does seem to want to post:"

I meant to say:
"Some excerpts from Australian papers that Eckstein does NOT seem to want to post:

2) In my opinion, Eckstein is misleading readers here when he puts up so many posts above Al Hilaly but does not also not condemnation of Al Hilaly by Australian Muslim leaders.

The FOX News tactic of overhyping only part of a story is as deceitful , in my opinion, as a deliberate falsehood. Because the intent in both cases is to mislead the reader-- to create a false impression within their mind.

Don Williams - 10/30/2006

1) Eckstein has spent almost 100 posts condemming Al Hilaly and Muslims. For what?
Well, according to Eckstein, because Al Hilaly
"DEFENDED AND EXCUSED the (Muslim) gang-rape of (Australian) women"
Note, already, how the lie spreads. We are talking about ONE rape --but Eckstein
extends it to the mass of " (Australian) women".
2) Note, by contrast, Eckstein's behavior when I cite the large number of rapes in
Baghdad which have occurred since Bush overthrew the government there. What is
Eckstein's response? Utter indifference.
Ok , he utters one sentence saying those rapes are bad. But hasn't he spent thousands
of posts justifying the invasion of Iraq? If Eckstein can spend 100 posts condemming ONE
rape in Australia, isn't it fair to ask why he hasn't put up 100,000 posts condemming the
rapes occurring under Bush's occupation of Baghdad.
3) Double standards are the hallmark of the psychopath. Not that I think Eckstein and Friedman are
psychopaths -- but I think they have been brainwashed by people who are. Their own fault is their
refusal to rationally examine the inconsistencies and falsehoods within their beliefs.
4) The mark of the psychopath is that the most minor offense against him is to be loudly protested and resented
whereas the most horrible crimes he commits are to be accepted. He thinks the law should not apply to him--
that it is merely an obstacle to be evaded. He thinks that everyone else is as dishonest as he is. When he
speaks, it is not to discuss things honestly but to deceive. But most characteristic of all is how he responds
when horrible deaths are inflicted on others. His response is indifference.
5) Look at my discussion with Mr Friedman in posts "Blah Blah Blah" and "Causation flows forward".
I noted that Red Cross reports and the reports of US Physican groups supported Bin Ladin's
claim that 600,000 Iraqi died from water borne diseases after the US government bombed water treatment plants and then
blockaded the import of water purification materials.
What is Mr Friedman's response?
6) I have note estimates in the past that over 100,000 civilians have dies in Iraq as a result of the Bush invasion. What is the
response of Mr Eckstein and Mr Friedman? Indifference.
7) I have noted that US aid to Israel is resulted in millions of Palestinians having to live in refugee camps with an annual income
of less than $1600. I have noted how Sharon used a US supplied F16 to bomb an apartment building in densely populated Gaza, causing the deaths of 9 children. What is Eckstein and Friedman's response? Indifference.
8) I have noted that the US government has used military power to protect the vicious Saudi dictatorship for decades in order to loot the Saudi oil deposits and condemm the Saudi people to perpetual poverty. What are Eckstein and Friedman's response? Indifference.
9) But note how Eckstein milks ONE rape in Australia for all it's worth.
8) The psychopathic mindset within the Nazis is what destroyed Germany. Should we not be concerned that
that cancer is spreading here? Isn't that cancer --not imposition of Islamic Sharia within the US --the real threat to America?
Don't we see, every day, the widening spread of militaristic fascism within this country,
justified by deliberate lies about the "current emergency"? Did Hitler milk the Reichstag fire to as great an extent
as Bush and the Neocons have milked 911?

art eckstein - 10/30/2006

My comment above obviously belongs HERE:

Dear Mr. Friedman,

I always thought, myself, that the main purpose of the Manifesto was to give voice to exactly what you said just above--to point out how the "anti-imperialism" of the bien-pensant Left is increasingly giving ideological cover to people from the Dark Ages who cannot by any measure considered progessive.

I'm glad you agree with my point here, even if you didn't sign the Manifesto. Nor would I try to convince you to sign. Each to his own.

art eckstein - 10/30/2006

Dear Mr. Friedman,

I always thought, myself, that the main purpose of the Manifesto was to give voice to exactly what you said just above--to point out how the "anti-imperialism" of the bien-pensant Left is increasingly giving ideological cover to people from the Dark Ages who cannot by any measure considered progessive.

I'm glad you agree with my point here, even if you didn't sign the Manifesto. Nor would I try to convince you to sign. Each to his own.

N. Friedman - 10/30/2006


By the way, I agree with your comment about anti-imperialism. Such people wear ideological blinders so that they cannot face reality in the eye.

N. Friedman - 10/30/2006


I am not a big believer in the Euston Manifesto. I have a number of criticisms of it. I would not sign it.

First, it is specific in detail instead of setting forth broad brush strokes. That means that the manifesto will last a very short time - until a few details have to be changed and disagreements drown it. The authors evidently spent their time reading the proposed EU constitution instead of the American constitution.

Second, the manifesto adopts a specific position on the Arab Israeli conflict when what the world really ought to do is bud out. No one really has a clue how to settle the dispute just now anyway but all the budding in makes any settlement even less likely than it likely is - and that is not very likely - and tends to stir up bigots to boot. That advice goes doubly for Europeans who seem to think their judgement about problems they do not have to live with and clearly do not understand is sacrosanct.

Third, the manifesto has unintellible things to say about patents and copyrights. In any event, the issues raised are not the stuff of a manifesto but, instead, the narrow interests of a few dressed up as if such interests had universal applicability. They do not.

art eckstein - 10/29/2006

I urge every person on this blog to consider Salmon Rushdie's remarks from Oct. 11:

In a wide-ranging lecture and discussion presented by the Center for Inquiry-New York on October 11, Salman Rushdie defended an uncompromising right of blasphemy and diagnosed the failure of Western liberals to confront Islamic radicalism.

Addressing Western liberals whose animus towards American foreign policy leads them to seek allies among Islamist movements, Rushdie said, “Islamic radicalism is not interested in creating a world of greater social justice. It’s not interested in liberating women. It’s not interested in tolerance for minorities and sexual dissidents. It’s not interested in democracy. It’s not interested in economic redistribution. It’s not interested in any of things that you would call social justice. It’s interested in what the Taliban is interested in. It’s interested in creating a new, religious, fascist rule over the planet; the new caliphate, the talibanization of the earth. For the left to refuse to understand the nature of the people that they are refusing to criticize, is a historical mistake as great as those who were the fellow travelors of Stalinist communist in an earlier age.”

As far as I am concerned, Salmon Rushdie has hit the nail on the head here, both about the nature of the threat and the nature of those who refuse to see it. (Of course, given the conversations we have had here, I myself like the idea of someone of the eminence of Rushdie unashamedly using the term "fascist" to describe Islamic radicalism.)


art eckstein - 10/29/2006

I agree with everything you have written above, Mr. Friedman. Nor is this the first time such a thing has happened.

I just get very angry when people cannot see what is in front of their faces. I, too, am a person of the moderate left (a signer of the Euston Manifesto), and so I especially get angry when people on the left throw a mantle of validation- "anti-imperialism" over monsters from the dark ages, and have political sympathy with them, and even form a political alliance with them. And so I feel compelled to keep pointing out to people on the left that the people they are tempted to be sympathetic with and support ARE indeed people out of the dark ages--ignorant, arrogant, barbaric, and frightfully violent. Like al-Hillaly the Mufti of Australia.

I will try in the future to keep that anger under control. It may be entertaining, but I understand that does not advance discussion.

Peter, I have not intended to insult you or lie about you, just to point out the (sometimes dreadful) implications of what I think your positions are (as far as I can discern them).

N. Friedman - 10/29/2006


I stand by what I wrote. What you write does not refute my point. I note that former President Clinton also supported the war and, evidently, thought that Iraq had those WMD weapons. A

See http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,,4627217-103677,00.html

N. Friedman - 10/29/2006


You will note that I mentioned the original Iraq war. I even wrote that it was a factor in bin Laden's views. I wrote:

In 1990, Baathist Iraq invaded Kuwait and the US - evidently by invitation - brought troops to Saudi Arabia to prevent Iraq from continue its march. Moreover, the US, evidently with the agreement of the Saudi government, then, along with countries from Europe and from some Arab countries attacked Iraq's forces and drove them back into Iraq and then placed Iraq under substantial sanctions by use of force. At the same time, the US did not remove its forces from Saudi Arabia.

The stationing of infidel troops in Saudi Arabia evidently irked Islamist radicals from the beginning as, according to information I have read, bin Laden offered to employ his Jihadi International to protect Saudi Arabia and to help drive Baathist Iraq out of Kuwait. Note that this is a critical point as it brings bin Laden and his ilk into the picture. Prior to that time, bin Laden and Jihadists from a wide variety of countries had, in their minds, driven the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan by means of what they evidently perceived to be the first true international Jihad of divergent Muslims in centuries. With that head of steam behind them, they looked for more fights in order to continue the Jihad. The desire to fan out and extend their Jihad - basically as a way of life -is rather well documented by Mary Anne Weaver in her truly excellent book Pakistan: In the Shadow of Jihad and Afghanistan. She also provides some detail in her earlier, also excellent, book A Portrait of Egypt: A Journey Through the World of Militant Islam.

In other words, you did not follow what I wrote. While I did not focus on the deaths involved in Iraq - as I do not think they were decisive to people who think targeting civilians is moral, I did focus on that war and its aftermath.

Don Williams - 10/29/2006

In his post above, Mr Friedman says:
"You say that the alleged Israel Lobby promoted the Iraq war by false propaganda. That, if true, does not tell me very much. Lots of people and groups supported the war and asserted all sorts of nonsense."
I have told you A LOT -- and you willfully ignore it.

There are very few individuals who give $14 MILLION in campaign donations , as Israeli Billionaire Haim Saban did. There are very few individuals who can then buy a Middle East policy think tank at Brookings , as Haim Saban did. There are very few individuals whose "Directors of Research" can then write editorials for the Los Angeles Times telling the American people that Hussein has WMDs -- as Saban's Directors did.

The are few individuals who have the blood of 2500+ US soldiers on their hands to the extent Saban does. As does those who defend him.

Don Williams - 10/29/2006

1) In his post above, Mr Friedman states:
"9/11 and many other attacks by Jihadists long pre-dated the Iraq war. Causation flows forward in time so far as I know so your theory makes little sense."
Mr Friedman evidently has fallen for George Bush's lie -- which is that 911 occurred before the Iraq invasion and hence Iraq was not a motivation for Bin Ladin.

As I have shown, time and time again, this is utter DECEIT on Bush's part. Bin Ladin clearly stated in 1998 --to US TV stations -- WHY Iraq was one of the three justifications for Jihad: The US government under George Bush's father bombed Iraq water treatment plants then blocked import of water treatment materials under the sanctions regime. As a result, roughly 600,000 children died from water-borne diseases like Typhoid, Cholera,etc. Bin Ladin's accusation was supported by the Red Cross reports and by a US Physicans aid group.

Ralph Peters - 10/29/2006

Mr Omar, nice try, but here is a list of pitfalls:

You wrote: "Caliphate", although unique to Islam, simply denotes a political governance system with a "calipha" at its head; as such, as a term denoting the appellation of the head of the system, “Caliphate” is liable to be as benign, evil or mixed, as much as a "monarchy", with a monarch at the head of the system, is liable to be.

Answer: No, it is not that simple. Caliphate, al Khilafa, is not just the Caliph. And you may know better that in Arabic there are two words. One is al Khalifa, i.e. "the Caliph." (Him) Two, there is al Khilafa, i.e. "the Caliphate," (it). The Caliphate is an institution but also a vast geopolitical domain, stretching from the Atlantic to China at some point, with all of its "history."

You wrote: "Intrinsically it is neither necessarily evil nor necessarily benovelent ...just as “monarchy" is necessarily neither this nor that."

I read Dr Phares' article and wasn't able to find a word you've used in your reply, that is "evil," or "benevolent." He didn't qualify the Caliphate under any of these attributes. He, before you, compared it to any other "empire" in history. That was precisely his point, which you re-made.

You wrote: "Dr Phares is correct in pointing out the importance of a specific feature of the “Caliphate” system in his delineation of the powers of the "caliphs" of yore which historically ,and hence “inevitably”, vested both ultimate temporal and spiritual/religious powers in one and the same person; the "calipha".
(Calipha literally means the successor to the Prophet ; Prophet Mohamed having historically wielded both powers; thence "inevitably") .
He is subjective and wrong on every other major point he raises particularly the political implications of “Caliphate” and “Calipha”.

Answer: That was the main point made by Phares in response to the Newsweek article which precisely cast a holiness around the notion of the Caliphate.

You wrote: "Dr Phares has missed, or intentionally dismissed the following important points:.
*That none of the major Islamist parties and movements advocates the return to the “Caliphate” system with the notable exception of old but mainly ineffective “Hizb Al Tahrir Al Islami”

Answer: I don't know if Dr Phares missed or dismissed. You seem to be sure that he intentionally left issues aside. I am wondering what is your evidence that he intentionally missed the point you made. But with regard your point, it is obviously flat wrong. All you need to do is to check more than 30 books, a dozen web sites and google al Jazeera shows to see that most Islamist (and certainly Jihadist) movements wants the reestablishment of the Caliphate. I am surprised that you insult the intelligence of historians and analysts as all of them had the opportunity to listen to Bin laden, Zawahiri, but also read Qutb, Banna and the rest of the Salafi chiefs, to hear and read the caliphate multiple times.

You wrote: "the complex repercussions of vesting both temporal and religious power in one entity have been under reconsideration by serious, main stream, Islamists almost everywhere.

Answer: Good try, but not solid. Obviously, the Islamists of modern times will try to adapt the Caliphate onto modern technologies and techniques. But the mere discussion of a Caliphate in the 21st century doesnt mean that the Caliphate they want back is not the salafi one.

YOu wrote: "That present day Iran, an Islamist state, does NOT have a "calipha" nor is ruled by a “Caliphate”.
Realizing the complexity and potential untold repercussions of vesting both temporal/political etc and religious powers in one entity Khomenists grabbled with the apparent dichotomy of dual power and came up with a complex system that attempts a separation of powers."

Answer: Not only Phares' article didn't state that the Khomeinists of Iran are seeking any Caliphate, but he clearly make a difference in all his propositions that Shiia Islamists are seeking an Islamist Republic, while Salafi Islamists are seeking the Caliphate. There was no point to be made here.

You wrote (and we can see your emotions building): "The worst thing about this essay, however, is that Dr Walid Phares himself has seemingly embarked on his own personal “dis-educating” campaign by eagerly supporting and energetically contributing to the "dis-education" on Islam effort;"

Answer: You begin your own attack on his alleged "personal" campaign, while he was only writing an article about a specific point. He hasn't addressed the theological pillars of Islam (although he has the right). He simply criticized an article for misleading (from his point of view) readers. Not only you weren't able to disprove him, but you accused him of a "campaign."

You wrote: "a major recent initiative of the overall anti Islam campaign of the neocon/Christian fundamentalist-Zionist/Jewish alliance.( and Dr Walid Phares?"

Answer: here we are losing you as a historian to find you as a political propagandist using militant attributes..

You wrote: "That "Moslem Caliphate", a basic element in Islamic history and culture and a major precept of Islam, shall come to be instinctively associated with and evocative of " Third Reich" in the minds of the American public, and "calipha" with "Hitler" as deliberately intended by the Bush/Wolfowitz administration, is not in the long term interest of the USA nor of the Moslem world."

Answer: Calm down. Your tone now resembles to a Jihadi prosecutor sending threats to the whole United States. One, in America we have the freedom of expression and of discussion of the Caliphate. It is not, nor will it be imposed by the Jihadists that Americans, or any citizen for that matter will be silenced from his or her right to discuss, research, analyze and express their opinion about anything anywhere, in the limits of the laws. And US and UN laws do not forbid a discussion of the Caliphate. If you, or the Taliban, or the Oil rich Wahabis, see it otherwise, you can apply your laws elsewhere. Besides, there are Muslims who sees the Caliphate under different angles. Many Muslims killed their Caliphs. One Muslim by the name of Mustafa Kemal abrogated the Caliphate. Others, like the Salafis wants it back. Let them advocate what they want, including the defeat of the infidels etc. But all that won't strip any person from his/her right to state their opinion about the Caliphate.

You wrote: "It will only lead to further polarization and alienation between the two."

Answer: You write as if the world is indeed divided into the dar al Harb and dar el Islam. You assume that there is one Muslim entity that you represent the opinion of. Too bad. There are millions of Muslims with hundreds of opinions on this matter and many other matters.

You wrote: "Theoretically a "caliphate" could be anti imperialist and democratic as much as it could be pro western and despotic depending on many other factors; as much as "monarchy" is liable to be.

Answer: Historically, the Caliphates ruled cities with great sciences and learning, but Caliphates also perpetrated genocides and ethnic cleansing for 13 centuries. And Islamists can tell usall the stories about theoretical new Caliphates that can be democratic. They can do it at will. But no one is fooled anymore by the use of words -formerly alien to the West. By essence a Caliphate cannot be democratic. But guess what, you can still say it would. For also theoretically too, new Nazis can be depicted as boy scouts. This is where History departs from science fiction..

Ralph Peters - 10/29/2006

Since your whole concern is to block the Phares' "conclusion" what ever is the argument, your whole argument is fallacious. For comparatively, Reich and Caliphate are historically comparable in their definitions, missions, and perceptions, obviously not in their essence. For one is about race and the other is about religious community. But the comparison is about how the militants projects both of the entities. Obviously you dislike the conclusion and you want to reject historical realities just because they do not serve your purpose. Too bad.

N. Friedman - 10/29/2006


It would seem to me that the publicity attached to these rather reactionary assertions by Muslim cleric will, in time, have the affect of dividing left wing politics. Which is to say, the implications of an alliance between near opposite political agendas is likely to be a devasting political blow to the political left wing.

As one of the moderate left who looks upon this alliance with a truly reactionary ideology as a disaster, I do think you are spot on to highlight the matter. At the same time, I do not think the enemy is Peter. He is reading the material and it will dawn on him - if it has not already - that the current Muslim agenda, whether the incident in issue meets that test, is rather dangerous, whether he is left, middle or right.

Now, I do also note that the world survived a long time with women being told to dress modestly and being told that the failure to do so and incidents of rape are connected. Such views can still be heard in the US and, I bet, in Europe, etc.. So, we must not overblow any individual incident of reactionary religious thinking into an act of imperial conquest - even if the statement is directed universally and not merely to the cleric's own flock -. In any event, there are far better and more important examples.

As for the cleric being a Holocaust denier, he has that in common with much of the world's Muslims. Somehow, I do not think these people are deniers but, rather, say such things for public consumption on the theory - and not a rather brilliant one - that such undermines at least Israel. In that even Israel's enemies largely do not negate that round of history and view such assertions as morally offensive, let Muslim clerics continue to say such things. They, if nothing else, undermine the imperialist agenda of certain Muslims.

art eckstein - 10/29/2006

al-Hilaly was removed from Prime Minister Howard's "Muslim Advisory Council" this summer for calling the Holocaust "a Zionist lie."

art eckstein - 10/29/2006

If this happens,it is all to the good. It will be a test of the Muslim community in Australia's allegience to Australia.
I think it was ABC who quoted folks at the Eid Festival in Queensland as saying that Hilaly was "well respected", however.
In Saudi Arabia, the govt press (surprise) is on al-Hilaly's side, and he's making a hadj there, so he says, within the next 35 days.

I hope this figure al-Hilaly goes away. But don't bet on it.

And the question remains, Williams:

Even Omar calls this man a "deranged cleric." The QUESTION is how did a deranged cleric become head of the Muslim community in Australia?

If YOU do some research on al-Hilaly's other positions, you will come across things that should worry you. For instance, he is a Holocaust denier.

So how did a "deranged cleric" who is a Holocaust denier become Mufti of Australia?

art eckstein - 10/29/2006

Slight correction, and it is not in Peter's direction:

As far as I can see from press reports, al-Hilaly did give a SPEECH at the great mosque on Friday, and was cheered to the sky by the 5,000 worshippers. He didn't "preach", however.

Don Williams - 10/29/2006

Some more news of Muslim leaders in Australia condemming al Hilaly. Again, why doesn't Mr Eckstein mention this?

From http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/sheik-will-not-step-aside/2006/10/30/1162056892622.html
However, other members of the Muslim community continued to call for the sheik's resignation.

A prominent Muslim, Dr Jamal Rifi, has written an open letter asking the sheik to stand down.

"He definitely has put us in a very difficult situation, a very unenviable position, but as a community we have to rise up and reach the challenges that we are facing right now," Dr Rifi told ABC radio today.

Sheik Hilaly had underestimated the impact of his statement on the Muslim community, he said.

"He described [it] as a storm in a cup, while I and many of my community see it as a category five cyclone," he said.

Asked whether Sheik Hilaly was likely to buckle under the pressure and stand aside, Dr Rifi said, "I have no doubt whatsoever. He knows where I stand and he knows where he stands and he has no option whatsoever."

"Give me 24 hours," he said.


Don Williams - 10/29/2006

Which was, how many of Australia's 300,000 Muslims support al Hilaly?

Pat Robertson is an American "spiritual leader". Does anyone think Pat's comments calling for the murder of Chavez represents American values?

For some reason, Mr Eckstein seems reluctant to include the comments by Muslim leaders condemming Al Hilaly or to note that those leaders are discussing what to do. Mr Eckstein also has not noted the time it takes to assemble a umma to judge whether Al Hilaly should be stripped of his position.

Some excerpts from Australian papers that Eckstein does seem to want to post:

1) From http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/muslims-thrash-out-plan-to-deal-with-hilaly/2006/10/29/1162056867082.html

"THE future of Sheik Taj el-Din al Hilaly lies in a plan drawn up by a powerful Muslim organisation, which may ask senior clerics from Australia and New Zealand to rule on his fate.

The Herald believes the plan, thrashed out at a closed-door meeting of the Lebanese Muslim Association on Saturday, was devised after discussion of several options. They include the staging of an umma - a national consultative process - to determine whether the sheik should be stripped of his title of Mufti of Australia and New Zealand.

The association - which allows Sheik Hilaly to preach at its Lakemba Mosque - can ban him from the mosque but has no authority to strip him of his position. That can be done only through an umma, which may take several days or weeks to organise because it involves clerics, Sunni and Shiite, from every state and New Zealand.

The president of the association, Tom Zreika, confirmed the meeting had been held on Saturday but declined to give details of what the five-point plan involved. "I am not prepared to go into that at this stage."

While declining to confirm any decision to stage an umma, he indicated the process had been discussed and confirmed it was one way of resolving the sheik's position as Australia's most senior Muslim cleric. "What we want at the moment is for everybody to calm down and that includes John Howard, Morris Iemma and Kim Beazley," he said.

"This will take time to resolve and we are not going to be rushed or pressured into making a decision. The Mufti's comments are embarrassing and we regret that he made them, but the issue of his future standing has to be worked through."

...In Brisbane, organisers of a Muslim festival withdrew the sheik's invitation."

art eckstein - 10/29/2006

1. I wasn't searching for something outrageous, Peter--this story is easy to find. It's a big story.

2. The Reuters story is misleading in that it omits that while al-Hilaly didn't preach, he was cheered to the sky by the congregation of 5,000--that was in the Australian newspapers.

3. The Australian newspapers also said that the board of the mosque backed al-Hilaly. Al-Hilaly has said he will not step down from being Mufti.

4. It looks as if he will not preach for a while, but for how long is unclear: two or three months. That is a good sign. This pressure came from the Muslim community and from government outrage--also a good sign.

5. And here is a bad sign, and an indication that he has wide support:

From the Times Online:

Muslim Council of Britain leader backs Aussie imam in "women are like uncovered meat" row

An indication that, unfortunately, Sheikh al-Hilali's views are not all that uncommon.

"Briton backs imam in 'uncovered meat' row," by Bernard Lagan in the TimesOnline, with thanks to Jeffrey Imm:

ONE of Britain’s most senior Muslims has defended as “a great scholar” the Australian imam who likened scantily clad women to uncovered meat that draws predators.

Abduljalil Sajid, a senior figure in the Muslim Council of Britain, offered support for Sheikh Taj Din al-Hilali’s views, saying that “loose women like prostitutes” encouraged men to be immoral. Dr Sajid, visiting Australia, said that Sheikh al-Hilali was attacking immodesty and loose dress, or “standing in the streets, inviting men to do these bad acts”.


Although the Australian cleric did not use the word prostitute, but appeared to be attacking women wearing revealing clothes, Dr Sajid said that the sermon had been taken out of context. Referring to the thrust of the Sheikh’s argument, he said: “So what is wrong in it? Who will object to that?” Dr Sajid, who is on a speaking tour, met the controversial Sheikh at his Sydney mosque yesterday.

Sheikh al-Hilali bowed yesterday to pressure and agreed not to preach for three months. But he defied those pressing for him to quit as the leading Muslim cleric in Australia.

After meeting him yesterday, Dr Sajid said: “As far as I am concerned he is a great scholar and he has a great knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence.” Dr Sajid added that he believed that the inflammatory excerpts from a speech, given last month, had been quoted out of context. “I respect his views. His intentions are noble in order to make morality and modesty part of our overall society,” the British cleric said.


6. In any case, your "clarification" indicates exactly what I said: you thought this was less of a social issue if the victims were Muslim women, because then the Mufti would not be imposing Muslim social mores on the broader Australian society.

That was what I was taking you to task for--and asking you to think about the social consequences of such thinking. One consequence would be less social concern about abandoning Muslim women (in this case hypothetical Muslim women victims of gang-rape) to male Muslim barbarism. This is a real issue: it came up both in Canada (in Ontario) and in Sweden, where the argument was that Muslim women, as Canadian and Swedish citiizens were entitled to the same protection of the laws as ANY other women. Surely you must accept that principle as a just one.
Hence the secular opposition to the attempt by LEADING Muslim organizations to impose sharia law, especially sharia family law. That they would attempt to impose it--in Ontario, in Stockholm-- is what is stunning and frightening and imperialistic.

7. In any case, it is clear that the Mufti and his PROMINENT supporters want to impose these restrictions on ALL of Australian society, and to impose THEIR understanding of "modesty" on ALL Australian women, the consequences for not doing so, if it be gang-rape by Muslim men, being on the women's heads.

8. This is not a marginal position. What do you think of that position in terms of social threat?

N. Friedman - 10/29/2006


It was an Australian story, not an American story. Hence, it did not receive much coverage here. But, in Australia, it was a big story. Take a look at The Age or The Australian.

N. Friedman - 10/29/2006


In this case, the Professor did not have to look hard. It was all over the papers. Trust me. I saw the article too and I was not looking for such a thing.

N. Friedman - 10/29/2006


I presume that you are capable of asking your questions directly to Peter without my being the intermediary.

As to Peter's comment to which you refer, has it occurred to you that Peter did not think before posting? Which is to say, you may not be reading his most well considered opinion but, instead, a snap statement which is not quite what he intended.

My suggestion: make your points. All of the accusations back and forth make everyone here look petty and stupid.

Yehudi Amitz - 10/29/2006


check also:


and click on "Listen Now" on the right side to listen to his speech

art eckstein - 10/29/2006

Mr. Friedman, please ask Mr. Clarke why he thinks the question of whether the women who were gang-raped were Muslim women is relevant to how serious a cultural threat we should consider the Mufti al-Hilaly's statements. He asked that question and thought it a "good question." WHY?

Of course, the victims were not Muslim women, but Christian women.

But ask Clarke why he thinks that if the victims were Muslims then al-Hilaly's statement would be less threatening to Australian society--if that is what he means. (But why else did he ask the question?)

art eckstein - 10/29/2006

The aggressive cultural imperialism referred to just above is what we now know to be the case: that al-Hilaly, the Mufti of Australia was warning NON-MUSLIM Australian women to change their appearance and dress in the hijab if they didn't want to get gang-raped by Muslim men; if they failed to dress in ways acceptable to Muslim men, then the acts of gang-rape which followed would be acts for which they, the women, would be "90%" responsible.

Think about the cultural arrogance and aggessiveness of THAT statement, Mr. Clarke.

N. Friedman - 10/29/2006


In fairness to the good professor, you do not always express yourself clearly and, sometimes, you express yourself in a way that demeans the person you address. In this case, I have not examined closely whether he has stated your views in a misleading manner or, in the alternative, in a manner consistent with what you wrote - whether or not that was what you intended -.

In fairness to you, I have been reading your posts for years now. You eventually state your real point.

The professor, as I have been saying repeatedly, ought consider the difference between addressing substance of a person's comment and the nature of the soul of the person uttering the comment - which is, needless to say difficult to discern via the Internet and, in any event, not a valid form of argument -. I do not know which side of the line he was on but I do know that he sometimes confuses the two things. Also, I do not think we should single him out on this point as he is far from the only person - you and I included - who does such things. However, he does make a habit of confusing the two things.

art eckstein - 10/29/2006

I am not putting words in your mouth. You have yet to disavow the post below, and in fact you have repeated it:

Good question (#100509)
by Peter K. Clarke on October 28, 2006 at 5:43 PM

For example:

Were the victims convicted of the gang-rapes referred to here Moslem women?


I would not suggest that it makes any moral or legal difference to the crime committed against them whether they worshipped Allah, Buddah, Confucius or Crocodile Dundee. But it does make a historical and political difference as to whether this undoutedly highly and deliberately unrepresentative example is one of a cleric trying to impose his views on an entire country, or to convince the followers of his religion in that country of such views.


In fact, it looks to me like you are standing by both the question you ask and the statement that follows, at the same time as you launch a sewer of invective at those who say you are doing this!

You need to reconsider your position and back away from it: it's a ridiculous one in every way.

art eckstein - 10/29/2006

al-Hilaly is the Mufti of Australia, Mr. Clarke. He is the official leader of Australia's Muslims, and was elected to that position by the federation of major Muslim organizations. He IS the leader, and has been for quite a while. You cannot argue that he is not. That would not be factual.

I repeat: do you really mean to say that if the women who'd been gang-raped had been Muslims than this would be more of an inter-communal issue and hence less of a threat to Australian society than if they had not been Muslims?
By repeated posting what you wrote on this, I believe that IS what you are saying.

Surely you want to reconsider your position. THINK about what you are saying!

In any case, the victims were NOT Muslims. THAT means the Mufti of Australia was warning non-Muslim women in Australia that if THEY did not change the way THEY wore their clothes, then any gang-rape that happened to them by Muslim men would be their fault "90%".

This is no crank, and no marginal figure. A mosque that holds 5,000 people--who cheered him on Friday--is a huge place. The charge that bringing this matter of excusing gang-rape of NON-Muslims by Muslim men is "demonizing Islam" was said at that mosque on Friday--as well as by Omar.

Since al-Hilaly is the Mufti of Australia it is up to YOU to prove that he is unrepresentative.

I repeat, too: even Omar describes him as a "deranged cleric." But THEN the issue YOU must face as you consider Muslim immigrants in the west is: HOW did a "deranged cleric" become the Mufti of Australia?

As people have said, I was correct to say that al-Hilaly ALSO has the full backing of the board of his mosque, which is the largest mosque in the country.

Maybe this "deranged cleric" will be deprived now of the Mufti-ship, or rather, maybe the Mufti-ship will be abolished, who knows? But you simply cannot argue that he is a marginal figure with no support, or unrepresentative! HE'S THE MUFTI OF AUSTRALIA AND THE LEADER OF AUSTRALIA'S LARGEST MOSQUE, WHERE HE HAS THE FULL SUPPORT OF THE BOARD.

THAT, Mr. Clarke, is aggressive cultural imperialism in spades.

art eckstein - 10/29/2006

Why, this seems an admission that my interpretation was indeed correct:

That is, to Clarke this issue of excusing of gang-rape by the Muslim Mufti of Australia, and the blaming it "90%" on the women, IS less important if the women who were ganged-raped by Muslim men were Muslim women. In which case the Imam's excusing of such gang-rapes as the women's fault is supposedly not as great a threat to the larger Australian community or as much a threat to Australian mores.

I am stunned. In other words, if the women were Muslims, we don't have to take al-Hilaly's comments seriously because he's simply involved in imposing sexual discipline within his community, and is no threat to the outside.

Can you really believe that, Mr. Clarke? Have you considered the social consequences of such a position?

In any case, as you've been told, Mr. Clarke, the women who were gang-raped were NOT Muslims. Does that not change even YOUR mind on this importance of al-Hilaly's statements as a cultural threat?

How representative is al-Hilaly? He is the Mufti of Australia, a very important figure. And he's gotten lots of support, in public demos.

Yet Omar calls him a "deranged cleric."
I agree: but then the question becomes: how did a "deranged cleric" become THE LEADER of the Australian Muslim community?

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that this is an important question.

N. Friedman - 10/29/2006


I note, whatever the Professor's motives are, that the facts he asserts about what is occurring in Australia are correct. Which is to say, the cleric involved said what he said, is extremely prominent, does have the backing of his board and the matter is a subject of much discussion in Australian newspapers. There is no doubt on these points. The issue to consider is whether his interpretation of such points is correct.

You may also want to look at this story, from the Sidney Morning Herald. It is a different comment but it is an interesting aside: http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/women-cant-refuse-sex-with-husband-islamic-group/2006/10/28/1161749357764.html

Some points to consider, as you examine things in context: It is not, of itself, odd that preachers would preach what is in their religion. Preaching modesty in dress for women is very much a Muslim (but not only a Muslim) thing, so that is not a big surprise. Nor is blaming the victims of rape a big surprise.

Moreover, it is not surprising that a movement - especially from an evangelical religion such as Islam - might wish to force its mores onto others. Nor, is revolutionary fervor unusual, even from religious groups.

Which is to say, the Professor's interpretation of such events is not unreasonable. Whether his explanation is the only possible explanation or the best explanation is another matter. And whether any given event - such as talking about modesty in dress - is an example of such thing is another matter.

For what it is worth, I think that his interpretation - although not necessarily the noted incident as an example of it - is pretty likely. Which is to say, if one reads the likes of leading Islamic preachers of, most especially, the Islamist persuasion, they speak the language of revolution and of conquest and of forcing their views upon others.

E. Simon - 10/29/2006

Here, Omar Ibrahim Baker demonstrates that he is more offended by Eckstein merely asking Clarke to clarify whether or not he thinks rapes of Muslims are less important (historically, politically, culturally or otherwise) than rapes of other Australians, than he is in hearing that clarification - which we, I remind everyone - have yet to receive.

In other words, Omar sees his intellectual alliance with Clarke and his emotional defense of him as more important than the facts of this thread and what has been said in it and what could be reasonably deduced from it.

Min Warrah, Omar? Do you identify with someone who is as lousy at defending his own position as you are at defending yours? There there, now. You should be aware that there are losers and loser ideas of all stripes all over the world to stand behind. You will have more losers popping up as soon as they can be knocked down, so don't despair. Just when you will get your head out of the Whack-a-mole board is what is interesting to figure out. If it won't be you then it will have to be others who rise above that game, which is ok.

N. Friedman - 10/29/2006


I can confirm that what you say here is correct.

Peter: he is objectively correct in this post immediately above.

art eckstein - 10/29/2006

In other words, you have no answer to my facts.

E. Simon - 10/29/2006

Thanks for not shying away from bringing this up and for asking for and providing the reasons for Clarke's potential clarification. Sometimes the ideas in his posts are too convoluted for me to even bother to take notice of the more unthinkingly problematic stances he takes, no matter how obliquely he phrases them. You have clearly provided a way for him to provide a less problematic clarification, and it remains to be seen whether or not we will receive much of one.

art eckstein - 10/29/2006


al-Hilaly is the head of the largest mosque in Sydney, he is the senior Muslim cleric in Australia, he is famous in Australia, and he is routinely referred to as the "spiritual leader of 300,000 Australian Muslims," and as "the Mufti of Australia."

Omar, al-Hilaly is also an ally of your friends in Hezbollah--what a surprise!--and has blessed Nazrallah during a grand tour of Lebanon in 2004, and Nazrallah was very happy to get his blessing. During that tour he met with Nazrullah PERSONALLY, one on one. He met with the Mufti of Lebanon, Mohammed Kabbani, personally.

NOW you want to claim this man is not an important person at all, but merely a "deranged cleric."

You call al-Hilaly a "deranged cleric." Well, of course I agree.

But that doesn't solve the problem for you, it worsens it. The question for YOU, Omar, then is: HOW did this "deranged cleric" get to be so important within Muslim society in Australia? How how did he get to be, in fact, the LEADER of all Muslims in Australia? How can the Mufti of Australia be a "deranged cleric"--unless something is very seriously wrong? And why is it that the major supporter of Hezbollah in Australia is, in fact, a "deranged cleric"?

I'd like you to answer these questions, though I doubt that you will do so.

art eckstein - 10/29/2006

Mr. Clarke,

Here's what you said, and remember, ti was said in the context of whether sharia was being imposed in the West:

by Peter K. Clarke on October 28, 2006 at 5:43 PM

One different between "BS ghost stories" and history, or even decent journalism, is that in the latter two instances, a reasonable effort is made to develop a comprehensive picture.

For example:

Were the victims convicted of the gang-rapes referred to here Moslem women?


I would not suggest that it makes any moral or legal difference to the crime committed against them whether they worshipped Allah, Buddah, Confucius or Crocodile Dundee. But it does make a historical and political difference as to whether this undoutedly highly and deliberately unrepresentative example is one of a cleric trying to impose his views on an entire country, or to convince the followers of his religion in that country of such views.


Protestants in Italy do not live in fear that the Pope intends to try to burn them at the stake should they be seen buying condoms. This of course also raises the question of the position of Muslim authorities in Australis is regarding separation of religion and state.


Mr. Clarke, I didn't bring up the question of whether the victims of the gang-rapes were Muslims--YOU did. WHY, if not for the reasons I have said?

All I am asking you to do is to clarify your position.

art eckstein - 10/29/2006

You asked whether the victims were Muslims and I gave you the information that they were not, and what I get is more abuse?

I'm not making up this story; this is a story roiling every Australian newspaper, Mr. Clarke. Major Australian political figures, including the Prime Minister, have spoken out harshly on this issue.

The person who said these primitive things is the most senior Muslim cleric in Australia, leader of the largest mosque in the country, he is supported by the board of the mosque and there was a large demo in his favor on Friday.

What's your problem with seeing this as a serious problem?

Yehudi Amitz - 10/29/2006

One of these Muslims (the same as our Omar) used the "talking points" about demonizing Islam.

Yehudi Amitz - 10/29/2006

I am open to ideas, if not Sharia, how one can call punishing with death what some backward religion feels it's blasphemy?
Another interesting one, yesterday I watched on CSPAN2 book TV a speech of Salman Rushdie and he said that a Muslim constable of the London police refused to perform security duty at the Israeli embassy. The Muslim policeman was not sacked on the spot for refusing an order but his superiors "understood" him and he is kept on the force. I guess next time when some Muslim criminal will kill some Jewish children the same guy will refuse to arrest the perpetrator.

N. Friedman - 10/29/2006


This is a very reasonable position.

N. Friedman - 10/29/2006


No, Arnold. People from Latin America arrive in the US to make a better life, not because the US did this or that or whatever to their countries of origin.

N. Friedman - 10/29/2006


I am not an MD and I was not making a diagnosis. I was pointing out that the direction that Muslims - particularly Arab Muslims - are turning is self-destructive.

N. Friedman - 10/29/2006


What, on earth, does your comment have to do with my factual statement that you mistate Mr. Wolfowitz's views?

Arnold Shcherban - 10/28/2006

Thanks Rodney,

Only Noam Chomsky says it better than you did. I could have, if I would have... but English is an SL to me.

Arnold Shcherban - 10/28/2006


I'm surprised that you even asked a question about membership in Al-Qaeda.
Instead you should have asked what Al-Qaeda is. Then I, supported by independent terrorism experts, some
of which consult CIA (but their opinions of course are ditched by the
Washington political elite), would tell you that there was and there is no such material organization or material entity.
Al-Qaeda was and still is an IDEA, ideological formation. Take 9/11, the major terrorist act, ascribed to so-called Al-Qaeda by the Wahington and US mass-media. As we well know now, it was planned and organized not by Bin Laden and his right or left hand leutenants in the camps of Afghanistan, but by an outside group of terrorists, the leaders of which, only after the plan was developed and ready to be implemented, informed Bin-Laden, they considered their ideological leader, and received his OK for it.
One of the leading terrorism experts, CIA consultant, have analyzed records of 200 most dangerous Islamic terrorists. What he (a Jew by ethnic origin) found was that about 60% of them had BS, and higher scientific degrees mostly obtained from Western Universities, were not particular religious (how probable is that they believe in Caliphate idea?), and more than 80% of them were members of small terrorist groups of 5-6 people that had no operational connections with Bin-Laden himself or his leautenants, unless one calls every Islamic terrorist leader in the world Bin-Laden's leutenant (what US propaganda essentially does). So, that much for Al-Qaeda myth.
Don't want to bragg, but even before I heard his report to the US anti-terrorism conference, I was telling on these very boards the same thing:
Al-Qaeda as a terrorist organization, such as say, Hezbollah, does not exist! Even pro-Bush ideologues admit now that this is something, as they say, "amorphous", organization without "central control and planning", "freelance" groups of terrorists. They think that everybody is stupid enough not discern under those terms the absence of definition of Al-Qaeda as organizattion, as practical admittance of what I have been saying over a couple of years by now - it is just an ideological formation, and idea.
The Al-Qaeda myth, as well, as the idea of Caliphate, as the dominant idea of the former, has been created by US political leaders and ideologues of American imperialism for justification of the concept of permanent war so prominent in the new
US strategic initiative.

Arnold Shcherban - 10/28/2006

You're either remarkably naive or pretend to be so. Every colonizing power and every agressor in the history of mankind, especially over the last 50- 60 years, after the universal condemnation of agression,
talked and talks about their actions, as intended to bring freedom, or/and civilisation, or/and democracy, while
killing exactly the ones he proclaims to protect.
In fact, this country and its political leaders have never ever
acknowledged that its military attacked any country/nation, initiated
any war on any reason rather than on those "idealistic" and "altruistic" ones or protecting its national security.
If you know one different occassion, do me a favor - educate us.

Arnold Shcherban - 10/28/2006

My country? Poor Mr. Simon, up to now he doesn't realize whom he's talking to... I have been American citizen for about 18 years by now, and still
live in the US.
Secondly, your last comment reminded me an old anecdote heard in Russia about 40 years ago: White American asked a Russian why Soviet Union produces so little number of passenger cars, Russian replies: "Well, in your country you
discriminate blacks".
Which was true, but what the heck did it have to do with the cars?

art eckstein - 10/28/2006


The question-mark--the (?)--hardly detracts from the accusation which you have put on the table! Rather, the question-mark is just another example of your shameful refusal to take responsibility for you own statements, in this case a slanderous statement.

Arnold Shcherban - 10/28/2006

People from Latin and especially Central America do arrive in large numbers to this country on one main
reason... that this country devastated
their native countries through economic and political dictate, murderous dictatorships (all - US clients and friends), and terror, in
direct or by proxy format, and brutally squashed (and continues to do so) any attempt to real economic and political sovereignity and democratic regime.
(Guatemala, Nicaragua, San-Salvador, Columbia, Chili, Brazil, Argentina,
Paraguay, Panama, Haiti, Grenada, etc.)

art eckstein - 10/28/2006

Muslim demands for the imposition of Sharia, esp. for FAMILY law (!!) is happening in Britain too: it happened there in August. And those demanding it were NOT marginal figures, but senior Muslim leaders, important enough to sit down with Cabinet-level British government officials. They were led by Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha, Secretary General of the Union of Muslim Organizations of the U.K. and Ireland..

Note: these demands for sharia law came AFTER the discovery of the British Islamicist plot to blow up ten British/U.S. airliners flying from Britain to the U.S.!

art eckstein - 10/28/2006

Bagdad is certainly terrible. But the point of the Australian story is not that rape is bad, which it is, everywhere; it's that the "spiritual head" of Australian Muslims, the imam at the head of the largest mosque in the country, DEFENDED AND EXCUSED the (Muslim) gang-rape of (Australian) women, on grounds that they asked for it.

Again, isn't rocket science, and you can't escape the issue by pointing to Bagdad.

art eckstein - 10/28/2006

You also sneered at the idea that sharia was a threat to Western countries--whereupon I simply pointed out two shocking instances of Muslim attempts to impose sharia on immigrant communities in western countries. You denied that al-Hilaly speaks for a majority of Muslims; that may be (though he certainly has a LOT of support), but one of those attempts to impose sharia in the West came from the largest Muslim organization in Sweden.

I provide the INFORMATION. You respond by providing the insults.

art eckstein - 10/28/2006

The men involved in the multiple gang-rapes received long prison-sentences, Williams. The head of the Muslim community in Australia now blames the women involved, in a speech filled with the vilest of metaphors. And the board of the huge mosque he heads supports his retention as the spiritual leader of the mosque.

This isn't rocket science--to see there's a big, big problem here.

You should be angry with the primitive al-Hilaly and you should ask how such a vile creature ended up as "spiritual head" of 300,000 Australian Muslims, and you should be angry with the many Muslims who publicly support him, and not with me. I didn't make up the story, I'm just reporting it to readers on HNN. I simply don't understand your violent tone.

Don Williams - 10/28/2006

Downtown Baghdad since George Bush took over.

A report from Human Rights Watch at http://hrw.org/reports/2003/iraq0703/1.htm#_Toc45709960

"At a time when insecurity is on the rise in Baghdad, women and girls in Baghdad told Human Rights Watch that the insecurity and fear of sexual violence or abduction is keeping them in their homes, out of schools, and away from work and looking for employment.....
...Reports of sexual violence and abduction of women and girls abound in Baghdad. Medical practitioners, victims, witnesses, and law enforcement authorities have documented some of these crimes. Human Rights Watch is concerned that many other cases go unreported and uninvestigated ....
...Many of the problems in addressing sexual violence and abduction against women and girls derive from the U.S.-led coalition forces and civilian administration’s failure to provide public security in Baghdad. The public security vacuum in Baghdad has heightened the vulnerability of women and girls to sexual violence and abduction. The police force is considerably smaller and more poorly managed when compared to prior to the war. There is limited police street presence; fewer resources available to police to investigate; little if any record keeping; and many complaints are lost."
"You're doing a hell of a job, Brownie"

Don Williams - 10/28/2006

According to this site, there were 15,630 rapes in Australia last year -- out of a nation of almost 21 MILLION people. See

Unless you can show that a large percentage of those rapes were committed by Muslims --which I very much doubt -- then I don't see your point.

To extrapolate from one rape to the idea that roughly 150,000 male Muslims are wondering around Australia with a hard-on for "Christian women" would be a new low ,even for you. It would also make me wonder why you have a problem with the mentality of anti-Semites.

And if this is the best you can come up with re the "Caliphate Threat"
as a national security threat, then you shouldn't hold your breath waiting for calls from Homeland Security or the Pentagon.

No wait --cancel that last statement. Dick Cheney, Douglas Feith and the National Review will probably want a briefing from you.
They will probably even set up a "Special Cell" in the Pentagon to process your "Special Intelligence".

art eckstein - 10/28/2006

Williams says that the U.S. and Australia don't face any threat from the imposition of sharia. That al-Halily is a "bullshit" story, or (in Clarke's formulation) a ghost story.

But in fact Ontario, Canada, was tempted to experiment with imposition of sharia for FAMILY law (!!), until protests stopped it last year. The impetus came from the imams. Imams just like al-Hilaly.

And then there's THIS, from Sweden this spring:

"Separate Laws for Muslims" Idea Slammed
The Local (Sweden), April 26 2006

Sweden's largest Muslim organisation has demanded that the country introduce separate laws for Muslims,
Sweden's equality minister Jens Orback called the proposals "completely unacceptable".

The Swedish Muslim Association, which represents around 70,000 Muslims in Sweden, has sent a letter to all Sweden's main political parties suggesting a number of reforms. The proposals include allowing imams into state (public) schools to give Muslim children separate lessons in Islam and their parents' native languages. The letter also said that boys and girls should have separate swimming lessons and that divorces between Muslims should be approved by an imam.

The letter provoked an instant, and damning, response from integration and equality minister Jens Orback.
"We will not have separate laws in Sweden. In Sweden, we are all equal before the law. In Sweden, we have fought for a long time to achieve gender-neutral laws, and to propose that certain groups should not be treated like others is completely unacceptable."

Liberal Party leader Lars Leijonborg also slammed the idea of separate laws.
"Sweden has equality between men and women. To introduce exceptions for Muslims so that women can be oppressed with the support of the law is completely unacceptable to me," Liberal leader Lars Leijonborg wrote in a statement.

Williams, if you think they're not serious about this, you are wrong.

We already have Mr. Clarke saying above that in those Australian gang-rapes of women by Muslim men, if they were Muslim women who were "immodestly dressed" than this is a less serious issue than if they were Australian Christians.

Make way for the Caliphate, you guys.

Don Williams - 10/28/2006

1) My understanding is that the Muslims themselves are currently debating whether to force this guy to step down.
2)Even if this guy stays in office then why doesn't Australia simply block immigration of such people? My understanding is that this guy doesn't even speak English.
3) But again, this is an irrelevant diversion. Any suggestion that all Muslim immigrants are like this guy is (a) a crock of shit and (b) probably racist or bigotry

"5000" supporters? Where were the other 295,000 Australian Muslims?

art eckstein - 10/28/2006

They were Christian Australians, Mr. Clarke, not Muslims. They were called "Australian pigs" by the gang-rapists (note: PIGS. Get it?)

Nor can you call al-Hilaly "unrepresentative", let alone "DELIBERATELY unrepresentative" (I have no idea what that means, actually--you mean this story is all an anti-Muslim PLOT?), when (a) he is the leader of Australia's largest mosque, and (b) when that mosque's board is now backing him.

art eckstein - 10/28/2006

Williams, is THIS part of the "ghost-story," too? From the Sydney Morning Herald:

October 28, 2006

THE imam of the Lakemba Mosque, Sheik Taj el-Din al Hilaly, should resign or be sacked. His comments exposed this week - comparing young women with "meat" and blaming rape victims for the crimes committed against them - are not some aberration. For more than 25 years, since he arrived in this country, Sheik Hilaly has engaged in hate speech. Every time he has been exposed, he has claimed his comments were misunderstood, mistranslated or taken out of context. It was the same this week. On Thursday, the board of the Lebanese Muslim Association, which runs the Lakemba Mosque where Sheik Hilaly preaches, decided not to discipline him because his latest remarks had been "misinterpreted" and he had apologised for any hurt he had caused.

This is not credible. The Lebanese Muslim Association has decided to accept the unacceptable, and defend the indefensible. His comments were neither ambiguous nor out of character. He began the offending sermon, delivered in the past month, by saying: "Those atheists, people of the book [the Bible], where will they end up? In Surfers Paradise? On the Gold Coast? Where will they end up? In hell! And not part-time. For eternity. They are the worst in God's creation …"

Moving on to the subject of adultery, he said: "When it comes to adultery, it's 90 per cent the women's responsibility. Why? Because a woman possesses the weapon of seduction. It is she who takes off her clothes, shortens them, flirts, puts on make-up and powder and takes to the streets … Then it's a look, then a smile, then a conversation, a greeting, then a conversation, then a date, then a meeting, then a crime, then Long Bay jail. Then you get a judge, who has no mercy, and he gives you 65 years."

He once described the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as "God's work against oppressors". He has described the Holocaust as a Zionist lie and Israel as a cancer. Now he has condemned young women who dress provocatively, a variation of the "slut" and "whore" accusation heard too often from Muslim men.

The great shame is that Sheik Hilaly and his apologists at the Lakemba Mosque have created the impression: that Australian values and Islam are incompatible.


art eckstein - 10/28/2006

Al-Hilaly is not a ghost; he is the most important Muslim cleric in Australia.

Yesterday he spoke in a huge mosque in Sydney filled with 5,000 cheering people, who defended his statements and declared that criticism of al-Hilaly was an attack on Islam. They are not ghosts either, Mr. Williams.

E. Simon - 10/28/2006

I have no problem with appeals to staying on topic or even butting out in the absence of anything topical to contribute, were I myself not the one with an obsession for personally controlling the terms of these discussions.

But you cannot claim control over this back and forth which you have participated in between yourself and Mr. Eckstein simply in response to my having commented on the original thread that you quote now, in this debate over its meaning - especially when I was a part of it originally. That's just ridiculous.

Don Williams - 10/28/2006

The USA and Australia may face many threats --but imposition of Sharia is not one of them.

I've been in Australia. 99.9999% of Australians don't give a hairy rodent's posterior what al-Hilaly thinks. If he or any other immigrant trys raping "exposed" women in the Outback, he may discover another custom called "nutcutting".

I have new Muslim immigrants in my Middle Class neighborhood -- their wives ,both in custom and dress, resemble the other women here.

N. Friedman - 10/28/2006


The Professor is correct that we are speaking of a person in Australia demanding that Australia adopt custom long ago rejected in Australia. And he is correct that such is part of a movement, Islamist Jihadism, that is imperial in character. I think that is clearly correct.

Now, one really ought to look at this, for point of comparison, with other migrating groups. In the US, people from latin speaking countries are arriving in large numbers. This, as with Muslims immigrants in other parts of the world, has created a backlash, sometimes angry, against Spanish speaking people. But, and this distinguishes the Spanish speaking people from Muslim immigrants, do not demand that the US adopt hispanic mores and the Spanish speaking immigrants do not claim in large numbers, as do quite a number of Muslim immigrants, that they despise and want to remake their new country in the image of their home country.

So, in the case of the hispanics, they will change the US. But, they do not demand that the US become, say, a carbon copy of Mexico. They merely push so that, for example, Spanish is a permissible language of communication. And, even there, the children of hispanic immigrants generally, like most other immigrants, start speaking English as their primary language. Third generation Muslims in Europe say they hate Europe and want to remake it by forcing their mores onto others. So that is something to wonder about.

Now, one might argue that groups trapped in a country would adopt revolutionary interests. That, to me, has a logic to it. Certainly, many Jews did that in the 19th Century. However, that is not quite what is going on here, as there is connection with poltical groups advocating for Middle East countries, most specifically in the case of Muslim clerics, Saudi Arabia. Which is to say, we have an effort closer to colonization, in which there is an effort to change the colonized country. And, at the same time, such is not, most likely, the goal of most of the immigrants but merely of those manipulating them.

art eckstein - 10/28/2006

Williams wrote:

"But it is the height of tyranny for people on one side of the world to presume to dictate in detail how people on the other side of the world should live", meaning we have no right to tell Muslims how to treat women.

But, Williams, I've already made the point that al-Hilaly is NOT talking about events in Beirut but about events in Sydney Australia--where HE is an immigrant from "the other side of the world, " and where HE is telling Australian women how to live if they don't want to get raped by Muslim men. You just don't seem to get it: This is about the gang-rape of AUSTRALIAN women in AUSTRALIA by Muslim men, and a Muslim cleric's blaming of THE WOMEN for being raped, and calling the sentence the guilty men received far too harsh BECAUSE THE WOMEN TEMPTED THEM, and his congregation calling it "demonizing of Islam" when people are outraged by al-Hilaly's statement, To repeat: that was a statement about AUSTRALIAN women and what happened to them in AUSTRALIA.

This is a perfect example of an attempt at Muslim cultural imperialism, a imperialism which (if you are a woman) has terrible goals in store for you. In Australia--not just Beirut. Its ambitions are to rule and draw up rules for everyone to control every aspect of every moment of everyone's lives worldwide.

That, btw, is Omar's "total-application-of-sharia state". I believe that Al-Hilaly is an example of it.

Don Williams - 10/28/2006

1)Women are human beings -- and I strongly disapprove of how some Muslim clerics treat women. As I would disapprove of any totalitarian and oppressive system which mistreats human beings.
2) But it is the height of tyranny for people on one side of the world to presume to dictate in detail how people on the other side of the world should live.
3) Especially when the USA is in no position to cast stones.

How many young girls are devoured each month by our huge pornography industry?

Why is it that we have no major actress who has not had to appear in the nude on the screen?

Why is the USA the destination of sex slaves from Russia, Thailand and elsewhere?

Why do we have a fashion and cosmetics industry which makes tens of $billions based on the premise that the road to success for a woman is to dress like a whore in the hopes that some rich chump will give her a lifetime meal ticket in exchange for sexual services? How many sad women find out, time after time, that it's not that easy?

Why does US society allow so many men to abandon their children? Why do we have so many struggling single mothers working themselves into the ground to provide for their children?

Why , in the richest nation on earth, do millions of American mothers have to drop their crying young children --less than 5 years old -- into day care every morning in order to feed those children? Note that I'm not just talking about single mothers abandoned by their husbands -- I'm talking about the vast majority of women in blue collar families whose husbands cannot make enough to support a family.

Because the USA government is owned by the rich, is run by the rich, and betrays 98% of US citizens in order to serve the rich.

N. Friedman - 10/28/2006


You wrote something rather perceptive.

I believe that India went through a similar thing, as did China. That approach led backwards and, in China, to millions of people dying. Note that such countries now have taken a different path, no longer rejecting Westernization out of hand. And these lands were as colonized as the Arab and wider Muslim regions.

Japan, however, decided early on that wisdom obtained from wherever it comes is worthwhile. Hence, Japan has made itself a modern country, defeating a Western power on the battlefield as long ago as 1905 and achieving economic success despite being occupied by the US after WWII, in which the country stood its own, albeit being eventually pushed back after a Herculean effort, in battle against the US.

One thing the Arab and other Muslim regions ought to do - unless they plan to descend further into barbarism - is get the chips off their shoulders (i.e. end their resentment) rather than looking to the 7th Century for solving problems. Such period offers no useful wisdom for today's issues but, instead, serves to feed resentment.

This does not single out Islam, by the way, but notes the obvious that religious ideas are no substitute for a liberal arts and science curriculum. And, my comment singles out people and regions who are unwilling to face reality as it is but, instead, give in to their resentment and fantasize revenge for which they find imagined justification in religion.

art eckstein - 10/28/2006

1. Omar, it is absolutely nuts to accuse people here on HNN of being paid to defame Islam. Really, Omar--how do you think such paranoia looks to normal people?

2. It is NOT, in any case, "defamation" to recite hideous FACTS. I repeat: al-Hilaly is not a minor or marginal figure, he is the senior Muslim cleric in Australia. He said these things, specifically in the context of protesting the Australian conviction of MUSLIM MEN for GANG-RAPING Australian women. He defended the men, said they were provoked by the scanty clothing of the women and "their swaying hips," so it was the women's fault. Omar--do you disavow his statements?

3. Al-Hilaly said these things in Australia, not in Sidon, Omar. Despite your posting just above, this isn't about the attempted westernization of the Middle East. This is about the attempted Talibanization of Australia.

4. Al-Hilaly's statement was a dark-ages attack on the ideals of male-female relations in western civilization; and the non-Muslim Australian outrage at al-Hilaly's blaming women for being raped is understandable. Yet the response of al-Hilaly's followers is to respond to the outrage with the outrageous charge that the anger is "demonization" of Islam. But al-Hilaly SAID these things, no one else: no one's making up lies to defame Islam. Maybe AL-HILALY is defaming islam, but his supporters don't think so. When Muslims immigrate to the West to enjoy the good things of the West and then try to impose primitive dark-ages views of women's rights on people living HERE (not in Beirut), how do you think that plays? Are you suprised that western people get angry? Shouldn't they BE angry?

5. And finally--guess what? Hilaly is a big friend and supporter of....HEZBOLLAH, Omar. (See MEMRI, Feb. 14, 2004.) What a surprise.

E. Simon - 10/28/2006

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.


Lewis Carroll

N. Friedman - 10/28/2006


While I would not follow the good Professor's approach to throwing comments in your face, I do note that the posts by you that he posts is pretty nasty. I really cannot imagine that it is your considered opinion. And while I do not expect - since this is something about which you tend to be rather sensitive - you to disown your words - as they certainly do portray some component of what you think -, you might do deflate this line of discussion by denoting your views and not clinging to comments I am quite sure you, on hindsight, would not have inked.

To the Professor: This board would benefit by challenging views, not people.

E. Simon - 10/28/2006

He's a defensive guy. He's alluded to the lack of any shame in admitting error before, and has shown willingness to do so, but always seems to think that for him to be wrong requires that someone else admit that they were, simultaneously also wrong - whether they were or not. I think it comes down to more an issue of format.

E. Simon - 10/28/2006

How much more context do you wish to supply before you give up beating around the bush of the fact that no alternative interpretation - which you aren't supplying, incidentally - redeems your stupid remark?

What you said itself was much more memorable, for reasons much more obvious than I believe you can imagine. Take that statement, and its implications on your relevancy, and stuff it under your Nativist hat, Mr. #1 All-American.

art eckstein - 10/28/2006

Your very posts above, Peter, show that I am not dredging this Sept. 28 quote up from out of the blue, as you now claim. I have consistently confronted you with this quote ever since you made it, and I have urged you to retract it.

Again, I urge you to do so. I see that below with Williams you point out his anti-Zionist paranoia. So why not just say you made a mistake here?

When I have made mistakes, as you well know when I attributed to you something that belonged to Williams, I retracted my statement.

art eckstein - 10/28/2006

Mr. Clarke,

1. I am simply amazed that anyone would be so obsessive as to count up the frequency of postings on a thread that is three weeks old.

2. The frequency with which I posted on that Islamofascism thread is irrelevant to the anti-semitic content of your Sept. 28 statement ("likudniks rapers of history" vs. "Real Americans", and anti-Israel conspiracy-theories as "a welcome change of pace").

3. The September 28 quote above is complete, and is exactly as you wrote it, and you have to live with it, and evidently you are not now disavowing it. You could say you were being sarcastic and have been misunderstood, but you have not said so.

4. Not believing that any rational person would really want to be associated with your Sept. 28 statement, I now offer you another chance to disavow this statement. I re-paste it in full:

"word to the wise (#98526)
by Peter K. Clarke on September 28, 2006 at 8:23 PM
On a website stuffed to the gills with egomaniac Likudnik rapers of history, an occasional anti-Israeli conspiracy theorist or Zionism-obsessed Arab is a welcome change of pace. Please shout your silly heads off at each other the way your idols do in every dust-clogged Mideast desert hell-hole. Real Americans, whenever they bother to pay attention, are not fooled. Take that into your solopsistic cocoon Simon and spin it into whatever tirade of crybaby insult retorts you wish. I could not care less what you think. You are dishonest to the core. Should you ever get a clue re basic historical reasoning and civilized discourse, I'll look forward to reading you on some website such as H-Net. You have the brains to be something of value. Pity about the morals."

adam richard schrepfer - 10/28/2006


Usingt the term denominations to describe Buddhism isn't very accurate..maybe sects in the cases that you are speaking of would be better. Also the Buddha didn't say anything about coverting the world over to his God's particular faith. Muhammed did. This is the point that get's lost by a lot of flag waving and pointing to other religions. Separation of Church and state is a good thing. It does no good to simply point to other religions and say it's ok. How many Buddhist are making religious laws that everybody else in their country has to follow??

E. Simon - 10/28/2006

Well, at the least, he could differentiate between the ad hominems he likes to respond with and a "tirade of crybaby insult retorts", but I think it's safe to assume he won't.

E. Simon - 10/28/2006


What has your country done about Chernobyl lately, in speaking of the divinging of a country's intelligence levels based on how catastrophes are followed up on?

I remind you that 1986 leaves a bit more time for follow-up than does 2005.

E. Simon - 10/27/2006

"The West, given its status as the only actor with the power to redefine that warped playing field, has therefore a moral obligation to interfere, even with something so simple as publicity and denunciations of those shortcomings."

E. Simon - 10/27/2006

Well, what's amazing is that the supporter is implying that government action in prosecuting an atmosphere conducive to legitimizing sex crimes is an "excuse to demonize Islam".

My expectation that lesser minds such as Don Williams will see this blatant intrusion and effective attempt at the subversion of Western government as innocuous - at least compared to the evil-doings of rich Jews - aside, what is astounding is the sheik's supporters' ability to warp and morph the issue entirely - through a perceptual transformation of this wholly legitimate defense of Western values, into an assault on Islam.

As Peter should note; while not all Muslims think like this, the fact that Muslim moderates largely lack either doctrinal authority, popular appeal or the protections of a government and society devoted to those Western values which can be used to strengthen and protect them - and their more sensible interpretations; that far from being insulting, these expositions and denunciations by Westerners are the only devices available for their own safety and the future survival of their moderation.

When moderates are otherwise powerless, the extremists will hold sway and control the terms of not only how they are dealt with, but over how the dignity which they demand is defined.

The West, with its power to redefine that warped playing field, has therefore a moral obligation to interfere, even with something so simple as publicity and denunciations, those shortcomings.

E. Simon - 10/27/2006

Also, count me in on the pessimistic crowd, as well.

E. Simon - 10/27/2006

Should I find it more perplexing or ironic that someone so offended or embarrassed by it being pointed out that women were told to bare their breasts to disrupt a speech or the Ayatollah's own lurid interests in sexual prescriptions should so casually point to a pornographer as a great source of historical accuracy and interpretation, as well as a "decent Jew"?

Someone's got issues, Omar. Hypocrisy is only one of them, to be sure.

art eckstein - 10/27/2006

You lied about what I said. You said I said "not one word" about the contents of Porno-Avnery's piece, and it wasn't a passing remark but an attack on my character for not addressing the contents of Porno-Avnery's piece, when in fact I gave long expositions about the contents which were the kind of ludicrously inaccurate history one would expect from a pornographer.

It is also perfectly permissible to question the validity of a source such as you brought forward, when the source is of the type you brought forward. I also suspect that you yourself were totally ignorant of the nature of the source. YOU need to consider why you aren't ashamed to be using an ignorant pornographer to support you.

Mr. Friedman, statements such as the one just above from Omar explain once again my pessimism about your project of trying to talk to this person rationally.

art eckstein - 10/27/2006

I didn't CONCOCT this story, Mr. Clarke, NOR is it trivial. This is the LEADING Muslim leader in Australia, justifying rape as the woman's fault because she is exposed meat. And from the second story, it's obvious that this primitive has plenty of support among his congregation..

It is not "insulting" to present important facts. Facts are facts--even if the implications are unhappy. If we are to not talk about abominations like this because it would be "insulting to Islam", then we cannot have an honest conversation about those who are prominent representatives of Islam and claim to speak for Islam, and DO speak for Islam according to their congregatioins, and say hideous, hideous things such as what is above.

"I don't give'em Hell--I just give'em the facts and the THINK it's Hell!"--Truman.

I'm not comparing myself to Truman--but I hope you see the point.

Robert Smith - 10/27/2006

It depends on the denomination of Buddhism. Buddhists have certainly converted people through force. As did Hindus. In fact, the history of the Hindu faith is really quite bloody. One can argue that has more to do with the "leaders" of the Hinudu faith (the Brahmin) but the distinction is not important.

And you're flatly wrong about Judaism. While there isn't the same evangelism we see in other religions, the formal doctrine claims that only Jews will be ressurected. Hence, Judaism is the only true and valid faith. Talk to any orthodox Jew.

Yehudi Amitz - 10/27/2006

I don't believe you are capable of anything else

Don Williams - 10/27/2006


A. M. Eckstein - 10/27/2006

From the Australian, 28 October 2006:

Relaxed sheik gets rock star treatment
John Stapleton

WHILE the rest of the country expressed outrage at his comments, Taj Din al-Hilali enjoyed rock star status when he arrived at Lakemba Mosque yesterday.

He was smiling when he exited Sydney's now infamous mosque, clearly buoyed by the backing he had received inside, where 5000 worshippers shouted their support during the midday service.
He was surrounded by more than 200 fervent supporters as he made his way to a waiting car.

"This is just another excuse to demonize Islam!", exclaimed an angry supporter.

A. M. Eckstein - 10/27/2006

Folks, here's a dose of primitive, ignorant and disgraceful reality, as opposed to Mr. Williams' paranoid fantasies above.

I note that the person who said these foul words is (1) not some marginalized crank but the head of the largest mosque in Syndey, Australia, the senior-most Muslim cleric in all Australia; (2) that this senior-most Muslim cleric said these things during a RAMADAN sermon; and (3) that he said these things in the specific context of defending Muslim men who have recently been CONVICTED in court for gang-raping non-Muslim women.

This is the Caliphate on the march, readers, from the Daily Mail:

Outrage as Muslim cleric likens women to 'uncovered meat'

By RICHARD SHEARS Last updated at 16:10pm on 26th October 2006

Controversial: Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali

A Muslim cleric's claim that women who do not wear the veil are like 'uncovered meat' who attract sexual predators sparked outrage around Australia yesterday.

Sheik Taj Din al-Hilali, the nation's most senior Muslim cleric, compared immodestly-dressed women who do not wear the Islamic headdress with meat that is left uncovered in the street and is then eaten by cats.

Politicians including Prime Minister John Howard, community leaders and a large number of Muslims condemned the mufti's comments amid calls that he should be deported to Egypt, his country of origin.

He has since been forced to apologise for his remarks.

In a Ramadam sermon in a Sydney mosque, Sheik al-Hilali suggested that a group of Muslim men recently jailed for many years for gang rapes were not entirely to blame.

There were women, he said, who 'sway suggestively' and wore make-up and immodest dress "and then you get a judge without mercy and gives you 65 years. But the problem, but the problem all began with who?" he said, referring to the women victims.

Addressing 500 worshippers on the topic of adultery, Sheik al-Hilali added: "If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it..whose fault is it - the cats or the uncovered meat?

"The uncovered meat is the problem."

He went on: "If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab (veil), no problem would have occurred."

Women, he said, were 'weapons' used by Satan to control men.

His comments, reported yesterday in the nationally-circulated newspaper The Australian, created a storm of outrage.

Prime Minister Howard labelled the mufti's comments as 'appalling and reprehensible', adding: "They are quite out of touch with contemporary values in Australia.

"The idea that women are to blame for rapes is preposterous. I not only reject the comments, I condemn them unconditionally." Treasurer Peter Costello urged the Muslim community to condemn the comments and take action against the Sheik.

"If you have a significant religious leader like this preaching to a flock in a situation where we've had gang rapes, in a way that seems to make it justifiable, or at least lighten the dehumanising and degrading extent of the offence."

A close associate of the sheik, Keysar Trad, said the speech was about adultery, not rape. "He wasn't talking about standard norms of dress in Australia or any country, he wasn't talking about the hijab, he was talking about people who engage in extramarital sex."

But Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Miss Pru Goward said there could be no backtracking over the comments. "He could be guilty of incitement to the crime of rape and should be deported," she said.

N. Friedman - 10/27/2006


I note the views of Christopher Hitchens - known partisan for Palestinian Arabs - that Wolfowitz is rather supportive of Palestinian Arabs. I also note that he roundly booed when he gives speeches to groups that are more supportive of the Likud. So, you have no idea what you are talking about, at least on that issue.

As for his support of the Iraq war, well, that was a pretty dumb one. He, according to Hitchens, had idealistic motives, consistent with well known positions about hating oppression and helping the oppressed.

N. Friedman - 10/27/2006


It would seem to me that there is abundant evidence that Jihadists have an agenda. There is no compelling reason to think all or most Muslims support use of violence or the specific goals of the Jihadists. There is, however, compelling evidence that such leaders are manipulating ordinary Muslims, evidently with some success, regarding the evangelical aspects of Islam for political gain.

I do not think that Don is factually correct in what he writes and I cannot imagine you could, as a person who can think, agree with what he writes. He would have it that "Neocons are using the same tactics against the Islamic world that the Nazis used against the Jews." Really? Like conducting experiments on people? Gassing them? Making soap from them? Exterminating them en masse? I'm sorry but your comment is nonsense. His analogy is wrong. US policy, whether loathsome or angelic, has nothing to do with Nazism. Rather, it is fashionable in some quarters - especially where there is a political agenda - to yolk together unlikes. Hate is what yolks unlikes together in people's minds.

Now Don sees a Big Lie in the view that Jihadists have an agenda. He says The Neocons have to frantically create myths about "Islamofascists" and "The Caliphate" to divert Americans from the Truth --because they know that Americans ever find out the truth, Americans will hunt down the Neocons and shoot them like dogs.. I do not use the Islamofascist language because I think it is not the best descriptor. But, many serious scholars do, as Professor Eckstein showed previously. Such people include renowned and left wing, by the way, Islam scholar Maxime Rodinson, who has no connection with current US policy. Moreover, Paul Berman, also a left wing scholar, also sees serious fascist influence in Islamism. Sol, to that extent, Don is way off base - if we are to be factual, not emotional -. As for the Caliphate, that is an indisputable fact. It is not a neocon fact. It is a fact that two minutes of research by you will verify.

Now, ten seconds of research will also reveal that Professor Phares is not a neocon, in any event. He is a Maronite nationalist holding social democratic beliefs. On that score, he may have a motive to exaggerate. Maybe. That he would make things up? Nonsense. That the Caliphate is not an important to Jihadists? That is an idiotic opinion. The Caliphate is an important tenet of Sunni Islam and is a stated goal of the Jihadists. So, it is not a Big Lie. Rather, the opposite point of view is misinformed or, if not the case, a Big Lie.

Note: that does not mean that the Jihadists can achieve their goal or that, if a Caliphate were re-established, it would be a bad thing. But that it is not important to the Jihadists or, for that matter, to Sunni Muslims, only a person ignorant of the facts could hold such an opinion. It is, to put it bluntly, a nonsense opinion.

Please note: that does not make the Bush administration a nice bunch or on the right track or anything else. It just says that what Don argues is not correct, factually speaking.

Don Williams - 10/27/2006


Bush would probably like S Daniel Abraham's support as well.

j) November 2000-2002: Another large Democratic donor is billionaire S Daniel Abraham of West Palm Beach, Florida --who donates over $2.3 million to the Democrats in 2000-2002. [9]
Mr Abraham has long been a strong advocate for Israel in US foreign policy circles via his Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation [10]

k) March 18,2003: S Daniel Abraham donates $2,000 to Howard Dean's campaign [11]

l) September 11, 2003: Howard Dean receives a storm of criticism from the Democratic leadership after saying that the US needs to be evenhanded in the Israel-Palestinian issue [12]

k) November 2003-Feb 2004: Howard Dean campaign is destroyed in Iowa primary by barrage of attack ads from a mysterious group "Americans for Jobs and Healthcare". Leader of group refuses to disclose funding sources. Disclosure to FEC not required until end of quarter. [13]

l) March 2004: FEC report indicates that attack group "Americans for Jobs" received $1 million in funding, with the largest donation --$200,000 -- coming from S Daniel Abraham.[13]

m) November 2004: Instead of $Millions, S Daniel Abraham only gives the Democrats $81,500 in the 2004 election [11]

n) October 2004: John Kerry attempts to criticize Bush's invasion of Iraq but can only make incoherent, strangled sounds.

o) Jan 2005: Capital Hill Democratic insiders are aghast when Howard Dean is put in as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee during a revolt by grassroots activists in the party. (It's easier to find out the membership of Al Qaeda than it is to find out who's on the "Democratic" Committee. )

p) One Year Later on Jan 30, 2006: Roll Call reports that "Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill are privately bristling over Howard Dean’s management of the Democratic National Committee and have made those sentiments clear after new fundraising numbers showed he has spent nearly all the committee's cash and has little left to support their efforts to gain seats this cycle. ".[14] The specific war chest numbers are Democrats $5.5 million, Republicans $34 million.[15]


[9] <http://www.opensecrets.org/indivs/index.asp>; , enter "Abraham, S Daniel"
and 2000,2002

[10] <http://www.motherjones.com/news/special_reports/mojo_400/1_abraham.html>;

[11] <http://www.opensecrets.org/indivs/index.asp>; , enter "Abraham, S
Daniel" and 2004

[12] <http://www.cbs2.com/politics/politicsla_story_254070009.html>;

[13] <http://www.public-i.org/report.aspx?aid=194&;>;;sid=200

[14] <http://www.rollcall.com/issues/51_74/news/11931-1.html>;

[15] <http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/news/politics/13751602.htm?source=rss&;>;;channel=kansascity_politics

Don Williams - 10/27/2006

Bush's Middle East policy makes a lot more sense when you realize that he's trying to court men like Israeli billionaire Haim Saban.

look at the events leading up to the Iraq invasion:
a) November 2000- 2002: The biggest campaign donor to the Democratic Party is Israeli billionaire Haim Saban, who contributes $12.7 million in the
2000 and 2002 campaign cycles. (His wife Cheryl's donations raises the total to
$13.7 million) See Reference [1] below

b) May 2002: Haim Saban funds the "Saban Center for Middle East Policy" at the Brookings Institute. One of the four stated research areas is "the implications of regime change in Iraq". Another task is providing "future policymakers with a better understanding of the complexities of the Middle East and the process of developing effective policies to deal with

c) June 30,2002: St Petersburg Times notes that "leading congressional Democrats were concerned that Jewish voters and donors were reassessing their relationship "with the Democratic Party given Bush's strong pro-Israel stance [3]

d) September 10, 2002: During a conference at the University of Virginia, high level intelligence adviser to the White House, Philip Zelikow, states: "Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us? I'll tell you what I think the real threat (is) and actually has been since 1990 -- it's the threat against Israel," [4]

e) December 19, 2002: In a Los Angeles Times op-ed "Lock and Load", the Directors of Haim Saban's Center for Middle East Policy ,Martin Indyk and Kenneth Pollack, state "Saddam Hussein has failed to come clean. His denial of possessing any weapons of mass destruction makes that clear ... As former U.S. government officials who had access to the most sensitive U.S. intelligence on Iraq, we are well aware of Iraq's continued efforts to retain and enhance its weapons capabilities" They then advocate launching a war on Iraq.[5]

f) January 17, 2003: Atlanta Jewish Times notes that " pro-Israel interests have contributed $41.3 million" in campaign donations over the past decade, with more than two thirds going to the Democrats. Article also notes that Republicans are making a strong push to court those big donors. [6]

g) June 20, 2003: In a New York Times column, "Saddam's Bombs? We'll Find
Them", Saban Center Director Kenneth Pollack tries to excuse his earlier claims re Iraq WMDs (see (e) above ) by stating "Where are Iraq's weapons of mass destruction? It's a good question, and unfortunately we don't yet have a good answer... In any event, the mystery will be solved in good time; the search for Iraq's nonconventional weapons program has only just begun." [7]

h) September 2004: John Kerry attempts to criticize the Bush war on Iraq but can only make incoherent, strangled sounds.

i) November 2004: Instead of $12.7 million, Haim Saban's campaign donations
in the 2004 election only total $84,000 -- and $2,000 goes to George W Bush, in case
the Democrats don't get the message.[8]

[1]<http://www.opensecrets.org/indivs/index.asp>; , enter "Saban, Haim" and select election cycles 2000,2002


[3] <http://www.sptimes.com/2002/06/30/Columns/Jewish_voters_noticin.shtml>;

[4] <http://www.ipsnews.net/interna.asp?idnews=23083>;

[5] <http://www.brook.edu/views/op-ed/indyk/20021219.htm>;

[6] <http://www.atljewishtimes.com/archives/2003/011703cs.htm>;

[7] <http://www.brookings.edu/views/op-ed/pollack/20030620.htm>;

[8] <http://www.opensecrets.org/indivs/index.asp>; (enter "Saban, Haim" and
choose 2004 )

Don Williams - 10/27/2006

1) The lesson from Nazi Germany is that the smug manipulation of the NeoCons today are a threat to the Jewish community within America -- who often are not aware of what the NeoCons are doing and would not approve if they did know -- but who may ultimately be blamed for the Neocon acts.
2) As I've noted before, Neocon propaganda about the "War on Terror" has such bizarre disconnects with reality because it is really being used as a deceitful cover for something else: a war between American elites for power and ,ultimately, for money.

That is why Bush invaded Iraq (seen as a threat to Israel by the Likud) and left Al Qaeda free. That is why
Bush hyped an ominious threat to the USA while leaving our borders wide open for years -- acting only recently when conservative grassroots groups grew restless over the anomaly between Bush's words and his deeds.

3) Bush, Cheney and Karl Rove are trying to seduce major financiers of the Democratic Party --who are also strong advocates for Israel --over to the Republican Party in order to cripple the Democrats. The stakes are huge --who receives $Trillions in tax cuts , who receives $Trillions from the public Treasury, and whether the Rich have to pay off Bush's $Trillions in debt with higher taxes or whether that debt is paid off by cutting Social Security and letting the elderly starve and die prematurely from lack of medical care.

4) Democratic leaders in Washington know what Bush is doing. But they are caught in a disconnect between the values of their grassroots citizens --values they publicly endorse -- and the desires of the wealthy men who pay them. That's why whenever John Kerry tried to criticize Bush re Iraq, Kerry could only make choked, strangling sounds.

Kerry and other Democratic leaders in Washington cannot criticize Bush for whoring for Israel because they know they have been whores for Israel for decades.

5)That's why Iraq is invaded for nonexistent and elusively defined
"weapons of mass destruction" while Israel's 80+ nuclear warheads have been ignored for years.

6) Given such huge stakes, political men who have never been within 500 miles of an active battlefield can be cavalier about the loss of 2500+ US soldiers in Iraq -- and the permanent crippling of thousands more.

Don Williams - 10/27/2006

1) Lloyd George's smugness re the Balfour Declaration is obvious. Unfortunately, a young corporal named Adolph did not see the joke.

Mein Kamph seethes with his hatred at what he sees as the betrayal of Germany -- hatred directed at the Social Democrats and Communists as well as at the Jews. What Richard Evans does not make clear in his book is that several prominent leaders of the radical branch of the Social Democrats and of the Communists were Jewish. Those groups led the strikes that hit Germany at a crucial point late in the war.

2) Many non-Jews supported the Communists and Social Democrats. Many Jews did not. And Germany's defeat was caused as much by the blunders of the Kaiser's government as by the Weimar Revolution. But Lloyd George's jeering did not help.

3) In several respects, Hitler is deceitful. He argues that Germany could have held off the Allies on the Western Front because the Communist Revolution in Russia in 1917 removed the pressure on the East. But in that case, Hitler owed the Jews a debts for the Bolshevik Revolution -- since they had supported the Revolution against the Anti-Semitic Czar.

4) The larger point is that small wealthy elites often mislead the common mass of citizens with deceitful propaganda -- and that their manipulations often rebound in harmful ways upon the common citizen.

The common German Jew was not cutting Zionist deals with Lloyd George in London -- but he paid dearly for those deals. Hitler took power in the early 1930s after the Great Depression hit Germany. The Holocaust largely kicked into gear circa 1942 after the USA entered WWII against Germany. In my opinion, Hitler was using German Jews in the 1930s as hostages to forestall action by US elites.

Don Williams - 10/27/2006

During WWI, Lloyd George was the British Prime Minister and he was also Britain's leader at Versailles.
In his "Memoirs of the [Versailles] Peace Conference" (Book 2, Chap XXIII, p. 721) , Lloyd George
explained why Britain created Israel as a war time measure against Germany. An online copy is here:
http://users.cyberone.com.au/myers/l-george.html . Some excerpts follow:
"It seems strange to say that the Germans were the first to realise the war value of the Jews of the dispersal. In Poland it was they who helped the German Army to conquer the Czarist oppressor who had so cruelly persecuted their race. They had their influence in other lands - notably in America, where some of their most powerful leaders exerted a retarding influence on President Wilson's impulses in the direction of the Allies. {ed. - before the Balfour Declaration} The German General Staff in 1916 urged the Turks to concede the demands of the Zionists in respect of Palestine. Fortunately the Turk was too stupid to understand or too sluggish to move. The fact that Britain at last opened her eyes to the opportunity afforded to the Allies to rally this powerful people to their side was attributable to the initiative, the assiduity and the fervour of one of the greatest Hebrews of all time: Dr. Chaim Weizmann. He found his opportunity in this War of Nations to advance the cause to which he had consecrated his life. Dr. Weizmann enlisted my adhesion to his ideals at a time when, at my reguest, he was successfully applying his scientific skill and imagination to save Britain from a real disaster over the failure of wood alcohol for the manufacture of cordite. In addition to the gratitude I felt for him for this service, he appealed to my deep reverence for the great men of his race who were the authors of the sublime literature upon which I was brought up. I introduced him to Mr. Balfour, who was won over completely by his charm, his persuasiveness and his intellectual power. Dr. Weizmann then
{p. 723} brought to his aid the eager and active influence of Lord Milner, Lord Robert Cecil, and General Smuts.
During the summer of 1917, Mr. Balfour, with my zealous assent as Prime Minister, entered into negotiations with Lord Rothschild on the subject of the Zionist aims"
The Balfour Declaration represented the convinced policy of all parties in our country and also in America, but the launching of it in 1917 was due, as I have said, to propagandist reasons. I should like once more to remind the British public, who may be hesitating about the burdens of our Zionist Declaration to-day, of the actual war position at the time of that Declaration. We are now looking at the War through the dazzling glow of a triumphant end, but in 1917 the issue of the War was still very much in doubt. We were convinced - but not all of us - that we would pull through victoriously, but the Germans were equally persuaded that victory would rest on their banners, and they had much reason for coming to that conclusion. They had smashed the Roumanians. The Russian Army was completely demoralised by its numerous defeats. The French Army was exhausted and temporarily unequal to striking a great blow. The Italians had sustained a shattering defeat at Caporetto. The unlimited submarine campaign had sunk millions of tons of our shipping. There were no American divisions at the front, and when I say at the front, I mean available in the trenches. For the Allies there were two paramount problems at that time. The first was that the Central Powers should be broken by the blockade before our supplies of food and essential raw material were cut off by sinkings of our own ships. The other was that the war preparations in the United States should be speeded up to such an extent as to enable the Allies to be adequately reinforced in the critical campaign of 1918 by American troops. In the solution of these two problems, public opinion in Russia and America played a great part, and we had every reason at that time to believe that in both countries the friendliness or hostility of the Jewish race might make a considerable difference.
{p. 725} The solution of Germany's food and raw material dificulties depended on the attitude of Russia and the goodwill of its people. We realised, and so did the Germans, that Russia could take no further part in the War with her army, but the question was: when would she conclude peace with Germany and what manner of peace would it be? Time counted for both sides, and the conditions and the temper of the peace between Germany and Russia counted even more. Would the peace be of a kind which would afford facilities for the Germans to secure supplies of grain, oil, and copper from the immeasurable natural resources of that vast and rich country, or would it be a sulky pact which would always stand in the way of Germany's attempt to replenish her stores from Russian resources? In the former case, we could not hope for a better issue of the War than a stalemate after another year or two of carnage. In the latter case, the stranglehold of our fleet would be effective, and the Central Powers would be deprived of essential food and material and their will and power of resistance would be weakened to a breaking-point. The Germans were equally alive to the fact that the Jews of Russia wielded considerable influence in Bolshevik circles. The Zionist Movement was exceptionally strong in Russia and America. The Germans were, therefore, engaged actively in courting favour with that Movement all over the world. A friendly Russia would mean not only more food and raw material for Germany and Austria, but fewer German and Austrian troops on the Eastern front and, therefore, more available for the West. These considerations were brought to our notice by the Foreign Office, and reported to the War Cabinet.
The support of the Zionists for the cause of the Entente would mean a great deal as a war measure. Quite naturally Jewish sympathies were to a great extent anti-Russian, and therefore in favour of the Central Powers. No ally of Russia, in fact, could escape sharing that immediate and inevitable penalty for the long and savage Russian persecution of the Jewish race. In addition to this, the German General Staff, with their wide outlook on possibilities, urged, early in 1916, the advantages of promising Jewish restoration to Palestine under an arrangement
{p. 726} to be made between Zionists and Turkey, backed by a German guarantee. The practical difficulties were considerable; the subject was perhaps dangerous to German relations with Turkey; and the German Government acted cautiously. But the scheme was by no means rejected or even shelved, and at any moment the Allies might have been forestalled in offering this supreme bid. In fact in September, 1917, the German Government were making very serious efforts to capture the Zionist Movement.
Another most cogent reason for the adoption by the Allies of the policy of the declaration lay in the state of Russia herself. Russian Jews had been secretly active on behalf of the Central Powers from the first; they had become the chief agents of German pacifist propaganda in Russia; by 1917 they had done much in preparing for that general disintegration of Russian society, later recognised as the Revolution. It was believed that if Great Britain declared for the fulfilment of Zionist aspirations in Palestine under her own pledge, one effect would be to bring Russian Jewry to the cause of the Entente.
It was believed, also, that such a declaration would have a potent influence upon world Jewry outside Russia, and secure for the Entente the aid of Jewish financial interests. In America, their aid in this respect would have a special value when the Allies had almost exhausted the gold and marketable securities available for American purchases. Such were the chief considerations which, in 1917, impelled the British Government towards making a contract with Jewry. "

Don Williams - 10/27/2006

1) One of the recurring themes from posters here are poorly-informed ghost stories about something called a "Caliphate". First it is cited as a threat against "Western Civilization". After we decide that "Western Civilization" is more of a threat to itself than anything the Islamic world could hope to be, we hear that the Caliphate is a threat to Jews. I then point out that the Ottoman Caliphate was a refuge for centuries for Jews fleeing Christian pogroms in Spain and elsewhere. So now we hear that the Islamic world will become the next Nazis -- without discussing why.

2) Throwing out incoherent and internal inconsistent propaganda doesn't require either intelligence or historical knowledge. But trying to steer the United States through the shoals which have wrecked so many past civilizations does. So let's talk about the rise of the Nazis and the destruction of Germany -- and see the lessons for the US.

3) First, note that Germany prior to WWI had been a refuge for the Jews --allowing a number to prosper and grow wealthy. Note, for example, Bismarck friendship with his financier. While it's true that a feudal aristocracy kept political control and occasionally crapped on the Jews, that aristocracy treated the common German Protestant or Catholic much the same. Friendships and intermarriages flourished --Yiddish is a German dialect.

4) So what destroyed this? We know of the carnage of WWI , the resulting destruction of the German economy via hyperinflation and expropriations under the Versailles.

The millions of Jews killed in the Holocaust were not responsible for that. So how was Hitler able to make them scapegoats and convince millions of their fellow citizens to turn against them?

5) Well , partly via the Big Lie ,via terror, and via gangster government. But that came after Hitler came to power -- and Hitler gained power via elections and the political process.

6) In part it is because the social cohesion of the Jews has often been a curse --because it made them be blamed as a group for the actions of a few of their numbers. Partly it is because wealthy elites have found that the way to exert power over Jewish leaders is to threaten the Jewish community as a whole.

7) In this, Hitler was greatly aided by Germany's enemy , Great Britain. (cont)

A. M. Eckstein - 10/27/2006

Gee--Camp David? Doha? Wye? Madrid? I seem to remember those were ALL international efforts in search of a settlement.

So I have no idea what you mean when you write:

"What do you make of that I would dearly love to know? Allways remembering that Israel was ALLWAYS against any international involvement in any search for a settlement!"

A. M. Eckstein - 10/27/2006

The point is that the reason that Evans has contracts with publishers is not that he is being paid off by Jews for his hatchet-job on poor ol' David Irving--who actually was found to be a Holocaust denier by the British court, just as Professor Evans asserted (and this is now the SECOND official court decision that Williams disagrees with, the first being Royer who's in prison for terrorism!). The point is that he has contracts with publishers because he is a prominent scholar and his books sell well.

That's a lot more reasonable that Williams' paranoid fantasies of Jewish payoffs, which is what he asserted on Sept. 28.

Don Williams - 10/27/2006

In para 56 directly above, the sentence "She now had the resources to defend against Irving in an independent suit without being dependent upon Irving."
"She now had the resources to defend against Irving in an independent suit without being dependent
upon Penguin."

Sorry for the mistake.

A. M. Eckstein - 10/27/2006

This was all discussed on Sept. 28. Mr. Williams timeline is totally wrong. Evans worked on this project for some 18 months; he was paid by the Lipstadt people for 5 months and paid by Penguin Books for the fully 13 months that followed. Williams called this Penguin entering the Evans situation "late in the day." Penguin's solicitor officially stated in the London Times that Penguin picked up the tab.

Don Williams - 10/27/2006

Re Mr Eckstein's statement above:
"You then made statements about how Evans' new books on the Third Reich were only accepted for publication as part of an additional Jewish payoff to Evans for his testimony about Irving. This too I showed to be highly doubtful and irresponsible on your part, since Evans is (1) not some unknown hack but a major figure in Third Reich studies at a most presitigous university and (2) since his books sell very well according to Barnes and Noble & Amazon."
Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter's bullshit sell very well at Barnes and Noble and Amazon. That doesn't mean they're not bullshit.

Popular sales are no measure of truth -- unlike Mr Eckstein, a Real scholar would know that.

Publishing Houses used to put books through at least some review --but that's largely fallen by the wayside. Mr Eckstein is hilariously claiming the publishing system is a measure of merit -- the same publishing system that published multiple Irving books until ADL got involved.

I made a specific argument above --with a specific citation -- re exactly why I think Richard Evans book "The Coming of the Third Reich" is a piece of crap. Notice how Mr Eckstein directly avoids that criticism.

A. M. Eckstein - 10/27/2006

Here is exactly what you said, Mr. Clarke, and for which you have never apologized.

word to the wise (#98526)
by Peter K. Clarke on September 28, 2006 at 8:23 PM
On a website stuffed to the gills with egomaniac Likudnik rapers of history, an occasional anti-Israeli conspiracy theorist or Zionism-obsessed Arab is a welcome change of pace. Please shout your silly heads off at each other the way your idols do in every dust-clogged Mideast desert hell-hole. Real Americans, whenever they bother to pay attention, are not fooled. Take that into your solopsistic cocoon Simon and spin it into whatever tirade of crybaby insult retorts you wish. I could not care less what you think. You are dishonest to the core. Should you ever get a clue re basic historical reasoning and civilized discourse, I'll look forward to reading you on some website such as H-Net. You have the brains to be something of value. Pity about the morals.

For you an anti-Israel conspiracy theorist (Williams) and a Zionist-obssessed Arab wasn't "a breath of fresh air,"--oops!-- it was, rather, "a welcome change of pace" from "Likudnik rapers of history" who are trying to mislead "Real Americans."

Don Williams - 10/27/2006

2) Re Eckstein's comment to me:
"you made a statement about Spielberg paying the Cambridge scholar Richard Evans $250,000 for his work--as part of a conspiracy of Big Jews against poor Mr. Irving-- which I proved to be false."

Eckstein did no such thing. Given the information that I provided to him, it is my opinion that his statement here
is intentionally designed to mislead the reader.

Deborah Lipstadt herself states in a later book that her Rabbi contacted a group of Jewish billionaires who wrote
$100,000 checks to raise a $1.5 Million war fund against Irving. Among those billionaires was Steven Speilberg--
heavily invested in the Holocaust narrative because of his movies.
I don't get the impression from Lipstadt that a drive for scholarly objectivity and historical truth was a big factor.

Deborah Lipstadt herself states that her legal team hired Richard Evans and his research team months before
Penguin Books agreed to come on board.

Lipstadt herself states that she feared early on -- before receiving the Jewish aid -- that Penguin would abandon her and cut
a settlement with Irving.

Penguin eventually agreed to pick up the costs of Evans research. The reasons why are obvious: Lipstadt had
Penguin over a barrel. She now had the resources to defend against Irving in an independent suit without being dependent
upon Irving. She could thus negotiate separate settlement with Irving --releasing her from liability -- and then
give Irving access to Penguin's deep pockets by testifying in Irvings behalf that -- yes -- she didn't really have
much to justify her claims against him. Instead --after Penguin cut a deal with her --she refused to testify at the Irving

An interesting form of scholarly peer review.

On the one hand, the Lipstadt backers did provide a valuable service in evaluating Irving's claims. But one has to wonder if any
historian --faced with the prospect of having their books suppressed and fighting a $1.5 Million legal fund -- will
now approach Nazi history in a critical fashion and will be willing to challenge the politically-backed history of that era.

2) Readers can see the information I provided earlier to Eckstein here and make their own judgment about Eckstein's

3) Again, notice how if I refute one of his slurs, he drags 10 more out of his pocket. Including some recycled from the previous week.

A. M. Eckstein - 10/27/2006

The first reaction was to question the character of this source you used, since Avnery was a radical Israeli pornographer; but it was not the final reaction: I also showed that in terms of historical data, he was wrong, wrong wrong.

Maybe you don't want to accept what I showed, but the fact is that I took up the contents of porno-Avnery's fantasy post. For you to claim that I did not--"not one word about the contents of what he wrote"--is simply a lie about me.


Arnold Shcherban - 10/27/2006

You right about everything, except one: holding too high of an opinion of everage Americans. If they haven't realized what you mentioned up to now, e.g. if they forgave this administration Katrina's handling, as they obviously had, they are really... how do I say it nicely?... less than intelligent. And don't forget a tremendous US corporate propaganda machine, which showed on numerous occassions for decades that it can conjure up some really amazing sleights-of-hand.

A. M. Eckstein - 10/27/2006

Mr. Williams, when you describe David Irving as an "indepedent scholar" under attack by evil Big Rich Jews, I'd call that "support".

In the process of arguing this position, you slandered Richard Evans, a professor of history at Cambridge University, portraying him as someone who took $250,000 from Steven Spielberg to destroy David Irving, and whom Jews are still helping, via the publishing of his really bad books on the Third Reich which don't deserve publication.

Arnold Shcherban - 10/27/2006

Wolfowitz is a pro-Israelian hawk and political gangster; in his particular case the name (brains of a wolf) says it all, whatever he might say or doesn't about Jewish settlements. He and R. Perle is two of a kind.

Arnold Shcherban - 10/27/2006


I don't know Mr. Williams, and I'm a Jew, and I have been prosecuted by Soviet regime. I live now in the US
for many years. And I do care whether Mr. Williams anti-semite or not. However, as an unbiased observer, I have to tell you that I second him in everything he wrote in the message you commented on, not because he is someone or not, but cecause he's right. And in the spirit
of fair and honest discussion, if a person tells the truth, every unbiased and honest observer Must to admit it, regardless of who tells that truth - God or Devil.
What I see on these pages are primarily VICIOUS DOUBLE STANDARDS dressed in the ugly uniform of ultra-nationalism, and ethnocentrism;
the folks, with an exception of a few, that just refuse to measure their governments and themselves by the same units, as they measure their imaginable or real adversaries.

N. Friedman - 10/27/2006

Typos and corrections. disregard the last post and substitute:

When did I say that all people in Europe hold the same view. Note that Bat Ye'or's view is that Eurabia is a politcal project that encompasses cultural and other aspects, not the view of all or even most people in that region - including not the view of all or necessarily most Muslims.

N. Friedman - 10/27/2006


When did I say that all people in Europe hold the same view. Note that Bat Ye'or view is that Eurabia is a politcal cultural entity that encompasses cultural and other aspects, not the view of all or even most people in that region - including not the view of all or necessarily most Muslims.

Don Williams - 10/27/2006

Let's look at your statements:

1) "You are a fervent and public supporter here on HNN of David Irving, a Holocaust denier according to official ruling of the British courts, "

a) I have little respect for British courts --in part, after seeing how British magistrates rolled over like dogs on the issue of whether Tony Blair misled Britain when dragging it into Iraq with Mr Bush. British magistrates have always known that their sinecures depend upon them doing what their betters tell them -- that's why my ancestors ran them out of America 230 years ago.

b) Your claim that I am a "fervent and public supporter here on HNN of David Irving" is, in my opinion, a false, deceitful lie.

My dialogue with Sara Salzman here on HNN was an attempt to discover what Daving Irving was guilty of.

Especially when I checked Deborah Lipstadt's book and found SHIT to support her accusations against Irving. As I noted in my comments to Sara.

Especially when I discovered that the findings against Irving were the result of hired gun Richard Evans and his research team running a fine tooth comb through Irving's 1000 page tomb over 3 YEARS after publication of Irving's work was suppressed.

c) If you were REAL scholar, you would understand my concerns. Irving's bias are obvious and he palms the cards at times. I consider his historical narrative unreliable and untrustworthy. But after the Michael Bellesiles incident, I consider ALL histories unreliable and untrustworthy. The peer review process of the history profession is clearly badly broken.

The only value of histories published today are the citations in back to the primary sources. Only by reading and evaluating those sources can you have confidence that you --partly -- understand what happened.

d) Deborah Lipstadt, as far as I have discovered, has produced little to nothing re the history of Nazi Germany. That's because she's not a historian -- she's a professor of something called Jewish Studies. Which allows her to indulge her activist impulses while making gestures imitative of scholarship. That may be why she refused to testify at the Irving trial and allow Irving to cross-examine her scholarship --leaving Richard Evans to carry the water. You would probably admire her.

As I noted earlier, if Lipstadt had went to the archives and had debunked Irvings work in 1993 with evidence, I would have been the first to applaud her. But according to Christopher Hitchens, Irving's publisher dropped him due to pressure from the ADL, not from any kind of peer review.

e) In contrast to Lipstadt, Irving's unearthing of material from the German archives had been praised by several prominent historians -- even though they disagree violently with his interpretations.

f) Why does it matter? Again, if you were a Real scholar, you would understand. History is the collective experience of the human race. It is the only guide we have to avoid disasters that have overtaken us in the past --disasters like Nazi Germany.

But how much do we really understand of what caused the rise of the Nazis? How much of our history consists of bullshit like "Hitler was a master orator", "Hitler had a hypnotic gaze", "You know those Germans" , "You know those Catholics", etc.

A false and misleading history leads us to disaster. Irving's defense of Hitler was bullshit -- but his challenging of our incomplete, misleading mythology of the Nazi period was not. The Jews had long prospered in Germany. Intermarriages with Germans were frequent. How was Hitler able to turn the German people against the Jews with such fury?

You won't find the answer by looking at hired gun Richard Evans' recent piece of shit -- his book "The Coming of the Third Reich". Hitler -- who spent years in the trenches of WWI and won the Iron Cross -- was quite clear in Mein Kampf about his motivations --but Evans largely ignores that. Hitler was deceitful in his arguments to the Germans in several respects --but we won't discovered that either by reading Evans.

For example, How can anyone claim to explain the rise of the Nazis without discussing LLoyd George's comments regarding the reasons behind the Balfour Declaration which created Israel?
Without discussing how creation of Israel was not a response to the Holocaust --but rather that the Holocaust was ,in part, caused by the creation of Israel?

(I will discuss this in more detail below-- in the meantime , readers are directed to look at
the online copy of Lloyd Georges' "Memoirs of the [Versailles] Peace Conference" (Vol 2, Chapter XXIII) located here: http://users.cyberone.com.au/myers/l-george.html

Note 1: I have checked this online copy against the actual text of Lloyd Georges Memoirs up to page 727. It is an accurate copy to that point. The highlighting and parenthetical remarks {} was added by the copyist.

Note 2: Note how several Jewish leaders in Britain --e.g,Lord Montagu-- were opposed to the creation of Israel.

LLoyd George was the wartime Prime Minister of Great Britain in WWI and the British leader at the Versaille Conference. He went along with the economic rape of Germany in spite of the warnings of economist John Meynard Keynes that this would bring disaster upon the common German -- see Keynes "Economic Consequences of the Peace".

A. M. Eckstein - 10/27/2006

Oops about the jury. My mistaken assumption. Nevertheless, that Royer accepted a PLEA-BARGAIN of TWENTY YEARS suggests the kind of terrorism he'd engaged in. And this is your SOURCE.

When you said that Royer deserved "a slap on the balls" for his behavior, I took that to mean you'd have voted for acquittal. A reasonable deduction, seems to me.

A. M. Eckstein - 10/27/2006

And here is an article you should read:

“The Madness of Jewcentricity”

by Adam Garfinkle

…Not all cases of Jewcentricity are so inconsequential, however, or so harmless. I spent the first three weeks of September in Europe, the first in blissful repose in Provence, the second more or less working in Paris and Berlin, and the third doing much the same in Frankfurt and Budapest. Asked by French colleagues to speak about America and the Middle East, once in private, once publicly, I was happy to do so. In the public presentation I offered a taxonomy of the main drivers of current realities in the Arab and (less pointedly because so much more diverse) the Muslim worlds. I noted six such drivers.
First and most important are the ongoing travails of modernization as the West collides mostly inadvertently with the Muslim world, giving off sparks of Islamic factionalism, fundamentalism and violence discussed so insightfully in these pages by Anna Simons, Peter Berger and others.

Second is the rise of Wahhabism within the Sunni Muslim world, whose faint beginning can be nicely dated to 1924, the year of the first published oil concession in Arabia and the year that the legions of Ibn Saud conquered the Hejaz and established control over Mecca and Medina.

Third is the more recent political awakening of the Shi‘a, its earlier manifestations brilliantly chronicled in Fouad Ajami’s The Vanished Imam, and its more recent impact as plain as it is worrisome in Iraq’s burgeoning civil war.

Fourth is the end of the Cold War, which has sharply expanded the freedom of action of regional governments.

Fifth is the impact of the information revolution, which has raised the specter of a cybercaliphate. The Internet has accelerated and deepened the inherently radicalizing amalgamation and magnification of real and imagined Muslim grievances from Andalus to Mindanao, and it has simultaneously made available new methods for causing mayhem in those places and many others.

And sixth is American policy toward the Middle East since 9/11, not least the very mixed effects of the so-called freedom agenda. This factor is not as deep historically as the other five, but still significant owing to the unprecedented power of the United States to influence the region.

After I completed my presentation, I knew what would happen next, particularly at a moment when the aftershocks of the summer war between Israel and Hizballah were still being felt—and it did. “You haven’t mentioned Israel or Palestine”, said the first evidently amazed questioner, as nearly the entire assembled Parisian congregation seemed to nod in unison. “Don’t you think that conflict is really central to the region, and to the world?”

Let me not be coy: I stand second to none in wishing the Arab-Israeli conflict to be settled once and for all, fairly, justly and satisfactorily to all sides, and there is no doubt that settling it would have a benign affect on the region’s misanthropies. A settlement would to some unknown degree reduce pressures for radical recruitment and mobilization.

But the idea, so popular in Europe and among some in the United States, that an Arab-Israeli settlement would have a major positive impact in the War on Terror, that it would somehow decisively affect energy issues, that it would have a major beneficial effect on the future, say, of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Morocco—all more broadly consequential matters than what happens in Palestine—is a wishful fantasy. The six drivers I outlined really do explain the vast majority of what social scientists call the variance in the Middle East, and with the partial exception of the fifth driver, none of them has much to do with Israelis, Palestinians, Jerusalem and the rest.

More than that, the logic that links a settlement of Arab-Israeli issues (not only Palestine but also the matter of peace between Israel and Syria, and Israel and Lebanon) to a major amelioration of Islamist terrorism leaves a great deal to be desired. An Arab-Israeli settlement, all Western diplomats and politicians agree, will further legitimate, protect and support a Jewish state in the land of Israel within some borders. Anyone who thinks that such a result will satisfy salafi fanatics clearly does not understand their views. More likely, Islamist radicals would redouble their efforts to prevent any such settlement, and violence and terrorism would most likely rise, at least in the short term. Opponents of such a settlement would attack any Arab, and any Muslim, who would dare put his seal to such an agreement, and they would attack any Western state whose good offices helped to mediate or otherwise bring it about.

There is a corollary to the conviction of the centrality of Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict to all that goes on in the Middle East, and by extension the world. Some have argued that the U.S. government has not done enough to solve the Arab-Israeli problem, an argument that rose to crescendo toward the end of the Bush Administration’s first term.

This corollary comes in two variants. One is that if only the United States tried hard enough, it could indeed settle the matter, if necessary by imposition. But it is not as though imposition is easy to impose, or wise in any case; and it is not as though U.S. diplomacy has not tried hard. None tried harder than the George H.W. Bush Administration and the two Clinton Administrations, and they did not succeed.

The reason comes down to a simple truth that pervades international history: While it takes two (or more) parties to resolve a conflict and bring peace, it takes only one to continue a conflict and to bring war. And as ought now to be plain to all but the most obtuse, the PLO of Yasir Arafat was unwilling to make peace on terms any Israeli government could accept, a fact that became plain to President Bush in the wake of the infamous Karine-A affair, and a fact on which Bill Clinton holds forth with some zest at any given opportunity.

The second variant is more subtle. This variant coalesces in the view that even if a settlement, or major progress toward a settlement, is not now possible, the U.S. government should still go through the motions of trying, because doing so maintains the value of American diplomatic equities with all parties against the day when progress might in fact be possible. This view is what led several richly experienced veterans of Arab-Israeli diplomacy to remark in the course of this past summer’s mini-war that never before had an American administration allowed the appearance of perfect symmetry between U.S. and Israeli interests in a moment of crisis. This was not a criticism of the substance of American policy, but of the “optic”, and it is an observation with much merit. When a U.S. secretary of state flies to the region and cannot find a single Arab capital to host her, it foretells the need for heavy lifting ahead.

Jewcentricity helps to explain some of this. The senior figures of the Bush Administration have been an unusually blunt group as politicians-cum-statesmen go. And when it comes to the Middle East, George W. Bush is not ashamed of his admiration for Israel, his pride in U.S. support for Israel, and his personal belief as a born-again Christian that Israel, as the state of the Jewish people, plays a unique role in history.

Though some diplomats may rue the Administration’s reluctance to concern itself with appearances, the President’s approach is broadly popular, particularly among the growing legions of Evangelical Protestants (a growth that for theological reasons conduces to rising forms of Jewcentricity in the United States).11. See the discussion and the statistics in Walter Russell Mead, “God’s Country?” Foreign Affairs (September/October 2006).

The President knows, too, that much of the Muslim world today hosts anti-Semitic impulses of the most rancid and irrational kind. (Consider that the worst insult Sheikh Nasrallah could think of for Druse leader Walid Jumblatt, his erstwhile Lebanese opponent, was to call him “a Jew.”) Jewcentricity, alas, is a fact of Muslim life. Why else would Osama bin Laden’s famous 1998 fatwa refer to “crusaders and Jews”, as if crusaders aren’t challenge enough? Why else the widely believed theory in the Muslim world that the Mossad caused 9/11 and that Jews knew not to go to the World Trade Center on that day? Why else does the Hamas Charter reference the Protocols of the Elders of Zion? Why else did former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad blame the Jews for HIS country’s woes?

A. M. Eckstein - 10/27/2006

On the contrary, Omar, the posters you cite, including prominently myself, showed that Avnery's idealized discussion of Muslim rule in European areas was simply total fantasy. It was wrong--ask the tens of thousands of European boys kidnapped from their parents and forced to convert to Islam by the Ottomans. That was a large part of Avnery's contents.

The posters, including prominently myself, also showed that Avnery's strong dependence in his article on the statement in the Koran that "There shall be no compulsion in religion" was total fantasy as well, as shown by the death-penalties for apostasy from Islam in eight really-existing Muslim states, as well as the Muslim history in Europe. That was a large part of Avnery's contents.

So, when you state that all they had to say about Avnery was that he was a 'pornographer' and not a single word was said about the contents of the article which you cited and which you praised in your historical ignorance, why--that was an indication either than (a) you didn't read our postings because you will not or cannot read carefully, or that (b) you are simply a liar and are hoping that no one else did.

NOW, therefore, I demand an apology for your lying specifically about me in the last lines of your posting above, since I have just proven that you are wrong and that we strongly addressed the CONTENTS of Avnery's posting as well as calling into question (RIGHTLY) his qualifications to be writing history.

I'm waiting for the apology.

N. Friedman - 10/27/2006


I do not "willfully" ignore anything.

I shall stipulate that the US supports the Saudi, Kuwaiti and UAE governments and sells them arms. I do not think that I agree with very much of the rest of what you write and I disagree with your interpretation, if I understand you correctly.

Saudi Arabia, notwithstanding anything that can be said about it, came into being due to the efforts of the Saud family and the Wahhabi movement. It was perceived by its people as a legitimate government. However, the government came under considerable strain as became rather evidence when a group, claiming connection with a person claiming to be the Mahdi, seized the sacred mosque in Mecca. In response, the government sured up its Islamic bona fides but the government's devotion to Islamic purity has been in issue ever since. That, not the fact that the government is perceived, by US standards, to be repressive is more likely an issue.

In 1990, Baathist Iraq invaded Kuwait and the US - evidently by invitation - brought troops to Saudi Arabia to prevent Iraq from continue its march. Moreover, the US, evidently with the agreement of the Saudi government, then, along with countries from Europe and from some Arab countries attacked Iraq's forces and drove them back into Iraq and then placed Iraq under substantial sanctions by use of force. At the same time, the US did not remove its forces from Saudi Arabia.

The stationing of infidel troops in Saudi Arabia evidently irked Islamist radicals from the beginning as, according to information I have read, bin Laden offered to employ his Jihadi International to protect Saudi Arabia and to help drive Baathist Iraq out of Kuwait. Note that this is a critical point as it brings bin Laden and his ilk into the picture. Prior to that time, bin Laden and Jihadists from a wide variety of countries had, in their minds, driven the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan by means of what they evidently perceived to be the first true international Jihad of divergent Muslims in centuries. With that head of steam behind them, they looked for more fights in order to continue the Jihad. The desire to fan out and extend their Jihad - basically as a way of life -is rather well documented by Mary Anne Weaver in her truly excellent book Pakistan: In the Shadow of Jihad and Afghanistan. She also provides some detail in her earlier, also excellent, book A Portrait of Egypt: A Journey Through the World of Militant Islam.

Now, you point to the US providing arms to the leaders of the various countries in the region and suggest that such has worked to the detriment of the people in that region. The word "detriment" is not an objective term but rather expresses a judgment about the activity. Whether that is a detriment or not is, hence, a judgment that people in the region, not you or I, would have to make. Such allegation of detriment is made by people living outside of the region but it is not, by and large, the central allegation made, so far as I know, locally by those claimed by foreigners to lose by virtue of such sales. And, the radical Jihadists complain not so much that the US provides arms but that the governments permit US cultural influences that undermine Islam. That is what I was referring to when I mentioned that the US is the Great Satan - the seducer who would destroy Islam.

[An aside: There are complaints in Egypt that the US's relationship with Egypt props up the government. In that case, the US does support the government. However, the absence of the US from Egypt would not automatically result in "the people" prevailing but, more likely, in a brutal campaign by the government to eradicate its enemies - the result of which being impossible to predict except to note that the uprising in Egypt during the 1990's was, in fact, largely suppressed with many of the radicals coming to the conclusion, as shown by Fawaz A. Gerges in his flawed but, nonetheless, interesting book Journey of the Jihadist: Inside Muslim Militancy, that violent Jihad would not help establish an Islamist Egypt.]

More important, I think, and unnoticed are two other factors. First, the number of children born and surviving to adulthood has dramatically increased. That led, particularly in Egypt, to large numbers of both educated and uneducated people becoming poorer. In the case of the educated, it led to well educated people holding jobs for which they are remarkably overqualified. Needless to say, declining economic fortunes lead to resentment which, in turn, feeds Jihad. Many of these people found their way to the richer Gulf states where they brought their resentment and resulting radicalism on their sleeves. Again, Ms. Weaver documents this point rather well and the birth statistics are well documented by Huntington. Second, the same sort of birth statistics are not limited to Egypt but also pertain in the Gulf states. The Gulf states were, at one point, rather rich and had, at one point, domestic products rivaling Western countries until - and this is critical - the power of oil, economically and politically, began to decline. The result was a dramatic decrease in living standards, also feeding resentment. I believe that you will find that the decline akin to what occurred in the US during the Great Depression.

At the same time and not disconnected with the above facts, Arab nationalism showed itself to be a failure, as the Arab regions were declining in noticeable ways, plainly evident to people in that region who could travel and see things with their own eyes. The reaction was a turn radically to the religious right. The saying that took hold is "Islam is the way."

But, I note, even the above explanation is not complete. Islam as a counter movement had been in the air ever since the elimination of the Caliphate. The Muslim Brotherhood had, if I recall, millions of members long before the US began to prop up regimes in the region - assuming that "prop up" reasonably interprets the matter. Which is to say, there is another point to be considered, namely, the impact of the end of the Colonial era on the region. And, in the end, this may be far more important than any of incidental facts thereafter. The generation that took control as the British and French - and note, the Americans were not there in any serious way - withdrew from the region were quasi-secular and looked to westward for their ideas about governance and about societal questions. Mohamad Jinnah, who founded the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, was a secularist. The Baathists were secularists with socialistic and also some fascistic intellectual leanings. Nasser was a secularist with socialistic leanings. Pan-Arabism was secularist, as was its rival at the time pan-Islamism (ironic as that sounds). Which is to say, the politics of the elite was not so closely attached to the region. Their children, however, and the people - who remained very deeply religious - pushed local ideas and those ideas included a return to Islam's glory, based on the view that, with deep faith and Jihad, Islamdom could be restored.

I am not sure that the above is entirely adequate either. Then there is the view, pushed by Bernard Lewis and, I might add, by the former PM of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, in his infamous speech a few years ago. His book What Went Wrong and his 1990 Atlantic article detail his theory. In a nutshell, Islam lost its way long before the 20th Century. The decline began somewhat before 1683 as Islam failed to adapt to the advances made in Europe which led to catastrophic declines in all aspects of Islamic civilization. This decline bred resentment which led to the situation that now exists.

Now, you mention the Versailles Conference. The US did not determine what France and Britain did. France and Britain reached a secret agreement, called the Sykes-Picot Agreement. It is to be noted that France and Britain actually cooperated with local powers and did not, by themselves, divide up the region but in cooperation with local powers. France and Britain, on the other hand, did insinuate themselves into the region. The US was an outsider, on any telling, until after WWII. Perhaps you might imagine that if the US controlled things back then, the US might have created zones of influence at the time.

In any event, I note that historians will look back on the current era and have to do a lot of digging before they can assign causes. I frankly do not think that the causes are fully understood and, moreover, the causes do not quite tell me so much about the effects as the effects have taken on their own life that live on their own, without regard to any actual grievances. Note: publishing cartoons is now taken as a grievance as are a few words by the Pope. So, I do not think it is enough, at this point, to say that we can resolve the problem by eliminating grievances, since they are now endless and cannot be satisfied - as new grievances would instantly appear.

You say that the alleged Israel Lobby promoted the Iraq war by false propaganda. That, if true, does not tell me very much. Lots of people and groups supported the war and asserted all sorts of nonsense. Iraqi socialists also supported the war. I know Maronite Christians who supported the war. What of it? And, I might add, 9/11 and many other attacks by Jihadists long pre-dated the Iraq war. Causation flows forward in time so far as I know so your theory makes little sense.

A. M. Eckstein - 10/27/2006

I'm just citing facts here, folks.

I repeat: like Omar, and sometimes Peter Clarke, all Williams can respond to when faced with such facts is with ad hominem attacks.

I'll add that though, as I've said, I'm not a specialist in Muslim history, I've done my share of reading on the aggressive nature of Islamic imperialism (e.g., Patricia Crone of Princeton--whom I happen to know personally), and one of my academic specialties is imperialism in general and imperialism theory, a graduate course on which I teach at my university. So I'm not exactly as narrow as some people here would like to paint me, Mr. Clarke.

A. M. Eckstein - 10/27/2006

Mr. Williams,

You are a fervent and public supporter here on HNN of David Irving, a Holocaust denier according to official ruling of the British courts, and you made a statement about Spielberg paying the Cambridge scholar Richard Evans $250,000 for his work--as part of a conspiracy of Big Jews against poor Mr. Irving-- which I proved to be false. You then made statements about how Evans' new books on the Third Reich were only accepted for publication as part of an additional Jewish payoff to Evans for his testimony about Irving. This too I showed to be highly doubtful and irresponsible on your part, since Evans is (1) not some unknown hack but a major figure in Third Reich studies at a most presitigous university and (2) since his books sell very well according to Barnes and Noble & Amazon.

The categorization of you as a believer in Jewish/Zionist conspiracies came from Peter Clarke--it's what he called a breath of fresh air.

Folks, draw your own conclusions about Mr. Williams.

Yehudi Amitz - 10/27/2006

The Third Reich begun with burning books the modern Caliphate is worse it threatens the book writers with death.

Don Williams - 10/27/2006

That is extremely hilarious coming from you, Mr Eckstein.

In my opinion, you have shown a consistent pattern of behavior over the past months. Which is to divert any substantial discussion of US Middle Eastern policy by lying, over and over, about the character of the person introducing the facts. From day one, you have consistently REFUSED to address my citations re why Al Qaeda attacked the US, the background to their grievances, and my attempts to discuss what is in the interest of the American people -- as opposed to the agendas of special interests.

Instead, everything is "Holocaust denier" "Holocaust denier".

In spite of the fact that my past posts show that I am no such thing, it does no good to refute your slur because while I am doing so you are dragging 10 more out of your pocket.

The whose purpose of your dishonest tactic being to derail any real discussion of what is happening to America. Because you are afraid of that discussion.

Don Williams - 10/27/2006

1) I did not say I would have acquitted Royer --in fact, I stated the opposite.

Whether Royer deserved 20 years is can be debated, given the example provided by the Bush Administration's extensive use of mercenaries for acts in which the Administration wishes to avoid accountability.

2) My understanding is that your comment " What IS relevant is that a federal jury DID vote to convict" is incorrect. My understanding is that Royer accepted a federal plea bargain under duress.
3) It would have been interesting to see the trial. During the Clinton Administration, the Justice Department asked an Idaho jury to convict Randy Weaver --of Ruby Ridge -- for murder and to give him the death penalty. This due to a shootout that occurred when the FBI raided Mr Weaver's home.

But the jury acquitted Mr Weaver and his friend. The Justice Department ended up giving Mr Weaver and his daughters over $2 Million in a desperate attempt to head off a Congressional inquiry into the death of Mr Weaver's wife. The county prosecutor in Idaho then charged a FBI sniper with manslaughter under state law. The Justice Department argued it's officers were immune from state courts but was overruled by a federal judge. The county prosecution was eventually dropped when a new prosecutor decided that the county did not have the financial resources to fight the Justice Department.

So the old Angle-Saxon jury is a great institution -- to punish the guilty, to free the innocent, and to judge the questionable. Too bad it was scrapped recently in Republican legislation.

art eckstein - 10/27/2006

Mr. Clarke, I said that Williams was your "friend" because you praised his Jewish conspiracy approach as "refreshing" two weeks ago, in a post in which you also compaired "Likudnik rapers of history" to "real Americans," whom they were trying to mislead.

Character counts--with you, with Williams, and with Ismail Royer, because one needs to know who one is talking to (in the first two cases) and one needs to know who is the purveyor of information (in the third case). Royer was used as a source by Williams; Royer is a convicted Islamic terrorist currently serving a 20 year prison-sentence for supporting violent acts; it is relevant when we consider his value as a source.

I'm not an expert on the Middle East and do not pose as one. But as E. H. Carr said, the first step a historian needs to make is discover the background of the author of the material that he is being presented with. That's basic.

When the response to facts is ad hominem attacks (as with you, with Williams, and with Omar), that is also relevant in evaluating the person with whom one is dealing.

Don Williams - 10/27/2006

You willfully disregard the facts I've provided in the past showing how the US government has used military aid --Vanell Inc, Massive arms sales, CIA,etc to protect the oil dictatorships of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and UAE --to the severe detriment of the people of those countries.

You know full well that the USA was the dominant player at the Versailles Conference.

You willfully ignore the facts I've provided showing how members of the Israel Lobby actively promoted the invasion of Iraq --including dominating US public discourse with false propaganda.

Yehudi Amitz - 10/27/2006


Yehudi Amitz - 10/27/2006

As usual you rabid rants are long, irrelevant and out of date.
Racism, by the way, is a part of the human nature. Humans can be educated to be less racists, as in the case of the Jewish nation and the majority of the humans in the western world, or as in your case (and the Islamic world in general), people are brainwashed to be ultra-racists and brought into a state that can't be described as human anymore.
Please come back to humanity and don't try to pass through a Shiite road block afterward!

adam richard schrepfer - 10/27/2006


Please..no I don't think that all religions desire 'at heart' to be the world's only religion. Simply studying Hinduism would dispel that myth. Also there is a big difference between religions that are tied to political domination and those that are not. Did mention anything about setting up governments and punishing sinners who did not please God????

art eckstein - 10/27/2006

Mr. Williams, I have no way of knowing whether Royer's accusations are true or not.

Methodologically, however, it is VERY bad form to put the unconfirmed accusations against Walid Phares from a person who has been convicted in federal court of serious terrorism charges out on this blog against Phares, when you yourself admit that you don't know whether they are true! Or so you said at 3:34; it sounds in the posting just above as if you might tend to believe them at this moment.

But whether you believe these charges against Phares or not, you have put those charges out on this blog for everyone to read, and thus they are here now. And so you have intentionally undermined Phares's credentials when you yourself do not know whether Royer's charges are true, and when one must assume--given Royer's conviction on serious terrorism charges-- that he is untrustworthy.

Before he was convicted of Islamicist terrorism he was a professional propagandist for Islamicist causes. You ought to think about that, too.

(Mr. Williams, that might not have voted to convict Royer, as you indicate above, is irrelevant. What IS relevant is that a federal jury DID vote to convict, and Royer had an expensive defense team, and the federal jury nevertheless voted to convict him of crimes supporting violence so serious that he is serving 20 years in prison.)

The same holds for Juan Cole as a source, though of course it's not as bad as Royer. On the one hand, he's a professor at Michigan. On the other hand, he was up for a position at Yale and was turned down precisely because of the low scholarly quality of the very blog YOU cite.

David Irving, Ismail Royer, Juan Cole--you seem to be attracted to these sorts of strange sources. Their common denominator? Jewish conspiracy theories. The latter concept, of course, is something which you yourself endorsed on HNN about two weeks ago. It was an idea that Peter Clarke, as I remember, found "refreshing".

N. Friedman - 10/27/2006


You ask, "1) Of the 1 Billion Muslims, how many are members of Al Qaeda?"

I have no way of knowing.

I note that the percentage of people sympathic to the radicals is rather substantial but the number of people part of al Qaida organization is beyond my ability to know. I have heard membership numbers in the thousands and up to several tens of thousands. But, then again, I really do not know. I do not trust figures on this matter as it is all basically speculation.

By way of example, recently it was determined - contradicting what was said back in 2005 - that those involved in the London subway attack were actually part of al Qaida. That may or may not be so. But, it does go to show that the number of members is difficult to discern.

You then ask, "2) To what extent is Muslim rage against America driven by real grievances -- by death and destruction that the US government has inflicted upon Muslims on behalf of Big Oil, Big Defense, and the Israel Lobby?"

"Real grievances"? Germany had very real grievances in the aftermath of WWI. The Versaille treaty was perceived, maybe correctly, as unjust and unfair. But, the reaction to that injustice and unfairness took on a life of its own that morphed into something else.

Which is to say, there may be real grievances involved but, in fact, I am not sure that we are dealing anymore with something involving real grievances. Instead, we are dealing with a religio/political movement that aims at conquest and at revenge, among other things.

If you listen to the grievances asserted by Islamists, they tend not to be too clear. They start, sometimes - and especially with bin Laden and al Qaida - with the elimination of the Caliphate. In fact, the Muslim Brotherhood clearly did spring up immediately in the aftermath of the elimination of that Caliphate by Attaturk's Turkey. To listen to the Islamists, that is America's fault - which clearly is not the case.

Then, they typically move on to the division of the Muslims, following WWI, into multiple states. The US, however, had little to do with what occurred while France, Britain and the King Abdullah of Jordan's ancestors had much to do with it. The US, is nonetheless blamed. And that is considered a serious grievance.

Contradicting the view that the US (or Europeans, for that matter) divided up the Muslim regions, radicals seem to think that the US prevents Palestinians from having a state - calling into question why it would have been wrong to divide the Muslim regions into states. In any event, the US had next to nothing to do with Israel's creation and embargoed Israel from receiving arms during the 1948 war. Instead, the USSR funneled arms to Israel via Czechoslavakia. And, after that war, the US tended to side with the Arabs (e.g. in the 1956 war). In any event, the state issue is a bogus one. The objection was really to sharing power with non-Muslims, at least for the Islamist radicals.

The next grievance typically cited is that the US planted troops in Saudi Arabia. That was a religious grievance. But even then, it is difficult to understand since, no doubt, had the US not shown up, the place of the two holy sites would have been conquered by secularist Saddam. And, further, the foreign troops were not places precluded under Islamic law.

Then, there is the argument that the US sides too much with Israel. The Islamists reject this view - strange as it seems -, arguing that Jews can only live in the dar al-Islam by enterring into a dhimma - pact of concession -. So, Israel's behavior is not the issue to the radicals. Israel's existence is. In any event, in radical ideology, Israel is the little Satan - with Satan being a seducer, as noted by Bernard Lewis.

The US, on the other hand, is the Big Satan and is the main target of the Jihadis, whether or not Israel exists. Why? My view is that the Jihadists seek the radical re-ordering of the world, as did, in previous times, after the French revolution and, in more recent times, the Nazis. The goal is to restore Islamic power as the world's dominant power.

So, I do not think the US can really hide from the Jihadists. I think that is an illusion. Those supporting that goal have rather unlimited ambitions.

You lastly ask what Israel has done. Two things that I know of - aside from the contributions of its citizens, which includes, I have read, the cell phone and substantial contributions in the medical arts, etc. - is undermining Soviet influence in Egypt, which the US used Israel to help accomplish and, also, it has kept greater peace in its vicinity than, for example, has existed in the Gulf since the fall of the Shah.

I guess I read your question as suggesting that Israel is the cause of the general Jihad. I think that is a nonsense view. I think the causes are mostly due to societies which have not managed to escape Medieval ways of thinking. Hence, the goal of conquest for the radical Jihadists has the tacit support and lives among the population because it is supported by religious dogma, which calls for war against infidels until Islam governs over the red and the black - to use the Islamic formulation -. Israel did not create that dogma. It is well over 1,000 years old.

On your other topics, I have no idea what are the worst threats to the US. My interest is Islam, Islamic history, etc., etc. I think it fascinating and I think Islam is a fascinating religion. That, not whether lunatic Muslim Jihadists are the greatest threat, concerns me.

I have no use for Mr. Perle. He does not speak for me. He speaks for himself and maybe for some of those who hold views like him.

I do note, however, that I really do not think that Perle's agenda was to help Israel. I think he thought that planting an army between Iran and Saudi Arabia would help stem the tide of the Jihad. It remains to be seen if that is the case. I tend to doubt it.

Don Williams - 10/26/2006

1) I must say Royer is a strange sort of terrorist. Daniel Pipes notes on his site that "For several years, one of my severest and most persistent critics has been one Randall ("Ismail") Royer, an American convert to Islam."

Note that Royer published several articles publicly attacking the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) and various Neocons. A curious way of conducting a secret, covert op.

2) Also curious is Royer's military tactics -- as described in the federal indictment (Ref: http://fl1.findlaw.com/news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/terrorism/usroyer603ind.pdf )

"8. It was further part of the conspiracy that the defendants and their conspirators used paintball weapons and equipment to practice small-unit military tactics and simulate actual combat in
preparation for violent jihad." )

3) Oh, and also:
"31. On or about October 6, 2000, SEIFULLAH CHAPMAN trained with a Russian-made
Saiga .308 sniper rifle at a firing range at the Quantico Marine Base in Prince William County, Virginia."

4) I concur that Royer evidently trained with a Pakistani mujahideen
,shot in the general direction of India, and probably hit it. For that he deserved to get slapped on the balls.

5) My boiling outrage at Royer is only restrained by my memories of all those Blackwater guys shooting up Baghdad. Or those Vanell Inc guys getting rich in the past 35 years teaching the Saudi Gestapo how to keep the Arabian populace in line.

6) Yes, Royer did carry an AK-47 around in the trunk of his car and shoot at public rifle ranges in Virginia. So do many of the NRA members who elected George Bush.

Maybe Royer would have evaded detection if he had waved the gun over his head and said the federal government could have it when they pried it "from his cold dead hands".
After all, Charleton Heston got away with it.

6) But, on the hypothesis of "it takes one to know one", does Mr Eckstein confirm or deny Royer's comment that Walid Phares was ..er.. in his wild and reckless youth -- linked with the Lebanese "Guardians of the Cedar"? See http://www.antiwar.com/orig/royer1.html . A short excerpt:
"And FDD Senior Advisor Walid Phares has had a long and close relationship with the Guardians of the Cedar, a pro-Israel Lebanese militia. The group, which in 1976 led the massacre of at least 3,000 Palestinian men, women, and children at the Tel al-Za'atar refugee camp near Beirut (and continues to call the massacre a "cleansing"), is labeled “an extremist Christian group” by the US State Department. The Congressional Research Service labels them an “extremist Maronite militia and terrorist organization.”
7) I'm surprised Mr Phares didn't sue Royer for the above comments.

Don Williams - 10/26/2006

Two questions, Mr Friedman:

1) Of the 1 Billion Muslims, how many are members of Al Qaeda?
2) To what extent is Muslim rage against America driven by real grievances -- by death and destruction that the US government has inflicted upon Muslims on behalf of Big Oil, Big Defense, and the Israel Lobby?
3) What reason is there for Muslims and the American people to come into conflict if we stay on our side of the world, they stay on their side, and we each trade with whoever is the legitimate government in office.
4) Why should real Americans give a hairy rat's ass what happens to Israel if Israel continues its right wing course of aggression? Why should we sell Israel advanced F16s, give Israel $3 Billion/year in aid, and veto UN sanctions against Israel? What has Israel ever done for America that justifies 6000+ dead and $2 Trillion in lost wealth?
5) I believe America has real hard-core enemies in the Muslim world. I believe we are in a war to the death with those enemies. But I also believe it is in America's interest to isolate those enemies from support in the Muslim world by addressing real grievances --especially when those grievances result from US politicans whoring for special interests at the expense of US citizens.
6) But I do not think Al Qaeda is our worst enemy. I think our worst enemy is the enemy within -- those who lie to us, who manipulate events for the advantage of wealthy men, who lead us into unnecessary wars. Those Who cover up the greedy acts which bring down death upon us. Those Who create a system is which no politican can survive unless he becomes a docile whore for them. Those Who run con games on the American voters. Those who exploit the patriotism of the best among us -- and send those best to their deaths.

7) I remember Richard Perle going on Meet the Press prior to the invasion of Iraq and telling us about WMDs in Iraq. Tim Russert noted that 3 members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees had stated that they had seen no evidence that Hussein was an imminent threat to the USA. Whereupon Perle told us that those 3 members of Congress "Had not seen the Intelligence".

Well, where is Perle now? Where is his WMDs? Where is this "intelligence" he spoke of?

8) Perle is probably smiling now. He's won. No matter what happens, a divided Iraq will never be the opponent to Israel that Hussein was.

One of these days ,perhaps a parent who lost a son in Iraq will pick up a deer rifle and blow Richard Perle's brains out. If they were caught and tried, I would not convict them if I was on the jury.

But if that parent starts with Perle, where do they stop?

N. Friedman - 10/26/2006


Again, not definitive because it is a newspaper article but this article is rather insightful.


According to the article, which is about a book by a person who had considerable contact with al-Zarqawi:

In the introduction, the Jordanian journalist writes, "I interviewed a whole range of al-Qaida members with different ideologies to get an idea of how the war between the terrorists and Washington would develop in the future." What he then describes between pages 202 and 213 is a scenario, proof both of the terrorists' blindness as well as their brutal single-mindedness. In seven phases the terror network hopes to establish an Islamic caliphate which the West will then be too weak to fight.

Yehudi Amitz - 10/26/2006

The Caliphate is an old symbol and al Qaeda is a new one. The Caliphate is a form of Islamic totalitarianism preferred by the majority of the Muslims, a male dominated society where some kind of sharia law is enforced. The Taliban government was the extreme form of this kind of totalitarianism.
Al Qaeda was the cohesive paramilitary organization who's goal was to institutionalize Islamic totalitarianism. Al Qaeda isn't a centralized organization anymore, it is now only a symbol followed by local Islamists who can't adapt to the 21st century and only follow the centralized ideological guidance of al Qaeda. There are now enough Muslims trained in al Qaeda camps to spread the military knowledge in a society incapable of improving itself, a society who prefers to use its skills for destruction and not for construction.

E. Simon - 10/26/2006

Surely the fact that the sentiment is abundantly there and that oppositional sentiment is to meek to do much about it only bodes well for someone more powerful and single-minded than Ahmadenijad to take the reins somewhere in the Middle East and lead to the even more problematic scenario that you find unlikely.

E. Simon - 10/26/2006

What "LIE," Omar??? That you "(demand) respect while remaining impervious to empirical evidence if (you don't) like it"? That's all this 1/2 person commented on, and you could prove it is a lie through your behavior or examples if you weren't beneath doing so.

Actually that wouldn't prove it is a lie, it would just prove that all these people are wrong, as it doesn't show a conflict between what we knew and what we said. Maybe that should make your job easier. So get to it, Mr. I Make Accusations of Lying and Will Clarify if I don't Mind Proving Them.

Or not.


For the umpteenth time.

N. Friedman - 10/26/2006


This is from a government information paper prepared for Congress:

“Clash of Civilizations”. Following his declaration of jihad on the United
States, Bin Laden released a series of statements that expanded the vision and scope
of his self-declared conflict with the United States and specified his political
prescriptions for the reformation of Islamic societies. Echoing U.S. academic
Samuel Huntington’s theory on the impending clash of civilizations,9 Bin Laden
repeated his characterization of a so-called “new crusade led by America against the
Islamic nations,” and emphasized his belief that an emerging conflict between Islam
and the West would be fought “between the Islamic world and the Americans and
their allies.”10 Bin Laden argued that the Islamic world should see itself as one
seamless community, or umma, and that Muslims were obliged to unite and defend
themselves. Turning his focus to the internal politics of the Islamic world, Bin Laden
urged Muslims to find a leader to unite them and establish a “pious caliphate” that
would be governed by Islamic law and follow Islamic principles of finance and social
conduct.11 Bin Laden repeatedly argued that Afghanistan had become a model
Islamic state under his Taliban hosts and used religious rhetoric to solicit support for
the Taliban and Al Qaeda.12

CRS Report for Congress, titled "Al Qaeda: Statements and Evolving Ideology, Updated January 26, 2006, at
http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/terror/RL32759.pdf CRS stands for, in case you did not know, "Congressional Research Service" which is part of the Library of Congress. The report was written by Christopher M. Blanchard, Analyst in Middle Eastern Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division.

Again, I shall endeavor to find a complete speech to make you happy. You might also read Phares' book since he also notes the importance of the Caliphate. His assessment is that we are dealing with people who have removed their minds and thoughts to Medieval days.

Again, it is not a complete text but a summary. But, frankly, this is not all that much in doubt.

E. Simon - 10/26/2006

I think the bold text is a good point, and one that I had in mind. I'm not sure how likely it is, especially currently - although since the dynamics of an international order can be extremely subtle, I wouldn't discount it outright. If the empire that many label America as, is as unusual as Niall Ferguson describes it, then I think it is noteworthy to point out that America could be as transformed by the global order it runs as the global order could be shaped by a more imaginative America.

It is said that empires can create their own reality, but I think the melting pot shows how willing America is to be shaped by its immigrants from within. It is not unimaginable to posit an America shaped by the global order from without, especially if it sees it as too unruly to effectively shape to its interests through the wielding of its many forms of power.

N. Friedman - 10/26/2006


Here is the source I cited to you some years ago. http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/ladin.htm

According to the source, Al-Qa'ida's goal is to "unite all Muslims and to establish a government which follows the rule of the Caliphs." Bin Laden has stated that the only way to establish the Caliphate is by force. Al-Qa'ida's goal, therefore, is to overthrow nearly all Muslim governments, which are viewed as corrupt, to drive Western influence from those countries, and eventually to abolish state boundaries.

I realize that the quoting is broken and it is paraphrasing, but I shall find you complete quotes in short order - at least I hope. In any event, FAS is a reliable source, most of the time.

E. Simon - 10/26/2006

Charles, if you are referring exclusively to terrorism abroad transforming a country, then it is a harder scenario to address with pertinent examples, but it also strays further from the point I was making - assuming I understand you correctly.

E. Simon - 10/26/2006

Nope. But the possibility of flight 93 hitting the Capitol or the White House in 2001 shows that only a failure of imagination prevents us from believing that with greater access to technology, the infrastructure of a free society and more destructive weaponry, a transformative scenario is not more likely - any scaremongering on behalf of the administration notwithstanding.

Spain wasn't transformed by the Madrid bombing but for some reason I am quite unreluctant to allow for domestic terrorism to influence even foreign policy and elections. Add up enough possibilities and you get to a potentially transformative scenario (assuming policies that are pursued doggedly enough in the long-run can provoke a transformative response by the electorate - think civil rights). Maybe that sounds imperialistic or favorable to the current administration, but Americans who have been more ardent opponents of Bush and his administration's policies from earlier on make the same point - they just emphasize the administration's ability to manipulate it to that end by focusing on 9/11. Thus, more subtle versions of this point are taken seriously by a large sector of the American public - not that these sentiments are historically authoritative - but since they are a part of that democracy, their opinions and responses matter nonetheless.

A. M. Eckstein - 10/26/2006

Oops, sorry, Peter! It was your friend Mr. Williams who cited Ismail Royer as a source on Walid Phares. My mistake.

Williams wrote at 3:34 p.m. today:

3) I have not been able to verify if Ismail Royer's comments re Phares and the Guardians of the Cedar are true -- but if they are, they cast a rather hilarious light upon how one becomes a FDD "terrorism expert". (I do have to acknowledge the possibility that, given Royer's allegiances, they may be a false slur.)"

"Allegiances", indeed. Royer's currently serving 20 years for an Islamicist terror plot.

N. Friedman - 10/26/2006


I shall endeavor to find information for you regarding the radicals and the Caliphate. That may take a bit as I also have to work. But I shall - and you can remind me if I forget. I shall try to look today or tomorrow.

In the meanwhile I note that the issue with seeking a Caliphate is not if that is the case - that is well established by documentary evidence. The more important point is whether such is a realistic concern as (a) it is unclear the Jihadists can recreate it and (b) it is unclear whether, once created, it would help or harm relations between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Do note that the Caliph is a really, really important thing in Sunni Islam. Belief in one is something that is part and parcel of being a Sunni Muslim. Which is to say, even if there were an absence of first hand evidence regarding the specific predeliction of bin Ladan and Co., it is, intellectually unimaginable that a reactionary religious character in the Sunni tradition would not fancy the recreation of the Caliphate. We are, after all, dealing with the person who is the successor, theologically, to Muhammed. And that is an issue that goes to the very heart of what Islam, to the extent of its political nature, is about.

A. M. Eckstein - 10/26/2006

Last coupla weeks, Peter Clarke was citing Don Williams the advocate of Holocaust-denier David Irving as a reputable source.

Above, he cites Ismail Royer's comment on Walid Phares.

Well, here's who Ismail Royer IS:

The U.S. Department of Justice announced in January 2004 that Ismail Royer pleaded guilty to charges of a violent nature, including “aiding and abetting the carrying of an explosive during the commission of a felony." In April 2004 he was sentenced to 20 years in Federal prison.

He's a Muslim terrorist, Mr. Clarke.

A. M. Eckstein - 10/26/2006

Mr. Friedman, and ES: Please note Omar's response, both its content and its tone. My pessimism about this person is confirmed.

N. Friedman - 10/26/2006


Your entire argument is ad hominem. Moreover, it is factually faulty. Phares CV is well known. And, he is a social democrat to boot - unless he is a liar.

Those who see mostly roses in the Muslim regions say wicked things about Phares. Such people say wicked things about anyone who champions non-Muslims living in the Muslim regions. Yet, to anyone who thinks and cares about equality, that is a major issue in the Muslim regions. After all, equality is the very thing rejected by the Muslim revivalists whom people like Cole more or less champion.

In any event, this is Phares' short CV, as he posted it on his website:

Born and raised in Lebanon, Walid Phares was educated at the Jesuit and Lebanese Universities of Beirut where he obtained degrees in Law and Political Science as well as a certificate in Sociology. He obtained a Masters in International Law from the Universite de Lyons in France and a Ph.D. in International Relations and Strategic Studies from the University of Miami.

He practiced as a Lawyer in Beirut, served as an analyst editorialist and was the publisher of several weeklies and monthlies in Arabic, French and English (1982-1987). He worked with the Kaslik University Research Committee and under intellectuals such as Fuad Afram Bustany.

He published his celebrated book, al Taadudiya fi Lubnan (Pluralism in Lebanon in Arabic) on the Clash of Identities and Civilizations in Lebanon in 1979, followed by a number of books and articles in the Arab and international press since 1980. He engaged in public discussions with Islamic Fundamentalist and Arab Nationalist intellectuals in the 1980s out of Beirut. He lectured in a number of countries in the Middle East and worldwide (France, Belgium, UK, Switzerland, Brazil, Uruguay, Cyprus and Canada).

Relocated to the United States in 1990, where he taught at Florida International University, the University of Miami then was hired by Florida Atlantic University in 1993. Teaches Middle East Politics and History, Ethnic and Religious Conflict, the Politics of Civilizations, Islamic Fundamentalism, Human Rights, Nationalism.

It does not sound like he had a lot of time to be a warrior. He is not an historian but he has a rather good head on his shoulders.

Don Williams - 10/26/2006

1)See, for example, my comments above on the nation of Walid Phares' NeoCon organization -- the Orwellian-named Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

2) Or maybe a comment by Juan Cole:
"As it is, pro-Israeli figures like the Phalangist-related Walid Phares have played a sinister behind-the-scenes role in trying to railroad Arab-Americans like the four defendants in the Detroit case, which has now had to be dropped because of overwhelming evidence of their innocence and of prosecutorial malfeasance. The FBI should investigate how Pharis, an undistinguished academic with links to far rightwing Lebanese groups and the Likud clique, became the "terrorism analyst" at MSNBC."
Ref: http://www.juancole.com/2004_09_01_juancole_archive.html

3) I have not been able to verify if Ismail Royer's comments re Phares and the Guardians of the Cedar are true -- but if they are, they cast a rather hilarious light upon how one becomes a FDD "terrorism expert". (I do have to acknowledge the possibility that, given Royer's allegiances, they may be a false slur.)

4) I don't like ad hominems in arguments but when a foreigner like Phares is given so much airplay by our media, I do like transparency re where his loyalties and allegiances lie. He is hardly just a "professor at Florida Atlantic University". In the same way, it is not the "American Entreprise Institute" who picks up the hefty restaurant bills of NeoCon Richard Perle.

5) Phares background would matter less if he provided factual data that could be independently verified. But look through his article above and see if you can find a significant fact.

Read through it again and see if you can see the Neocon intellectual debt to the Marxist dialectic. For, as Pat Buchanan has noted, the Neocons are basically Trokskyite boat people who rafted over to the Republican Party after the McGovern disaster.

6) I blew coffee on my keyboard when I read Phares' suggestion that

"After all, has not the American public demanded that the US Administration and Congress take steps toward “informing” the nation about the enemy, its ideology, and its future goals?"

7) I genuflect in awe. It is rare to see someone will balls the size of coconuts and made of solid brass. Because the last fucking thing the NeoCons want --or will ever allow -- is an honest discussion of what motivated the Sept 11 attack.

N. Friedman - 10/26/2006

Mr. Simon,

While I think your point is well taken, I think you meant to direct your post to Clarke.

In any event, I think that the use of terrorism could, in potential, play a broad role. In this regard, I note an interesting book review - which I previously quoted out of for the benefit of Arnold. I do so again:

For the Arab philosopher of history Ibn Khaldun, the conquest by the warlike Arabs of more advanced yet weak and decadent empires represented a deep historical pattern. When a civilization becomes too sedentary, too decadent, too forgetful of the struggle for existence that originally put it on top, it becomes ripe for conquest by those who are still warlike and driven by a fanatical sense of mission. Thus, he noted, superior wealth and superior civilization were no guarantee that those who possessed them could hold on to them in the face of small but determined bands of fanatics united by a sense of what he called “group feeling.” In short, for Ibn Khaldun, jihad can be devastatingly effective even when it is waged against a civilization that, in material terms, is far in advance of the jihadists.

Can the same thing happen again today — or over the course of the next few generations? Is such an idea even thinkable? Or should those who raise such questions be dismissed as alarmists and hysteria-mongers?

Here we can see again the most serious flaw in the clash-of-civilizations model. If jihad were being used simply as a means of conducting Clausewitzian warfare, it would indeed be a relic of the past about which none of us in the West would need to worry overmuch. If Muslim civilization only decided to clash with ours, we could clash back, and with overwhelming military force. If we were confronting the armies of Omar or of Tamerlane, there is little doubt which side would secure the victory. But the objective of jihad is not Clausewitzian politics continued by other means. Its objective is the destruction and dissolution of politics as we have come to understand it in the West. The jihadists are not interested in winning in our sense of the word. They can succeed simply by making the present world order unworkable, by creating conditions in which politics-as-usual is no longer an option, forcing upon the West the option either of giving in to their demands or descending into anarchy and chaos.


The last line of the quoted material, which I set out in bold text, is likely exactly the strategy of the Jihadists in their use of terror. Whether that strategy can succeed is another matter beyond my ability to predict.

Thus far, it has not really worked, as I read the tea leaves. The strategy becomes a narcotic so that the Jihadists cannot limit their attacks to the enemy. They attack their potential friends, thus undermining their efforts, which in the end, do require a powerful society to finish off Islam's enemies. Instead, Jihad has undermined Muslim society more than non-Muslim society. At least that is my view.

Charles S Young - 10/26/2006

Irregular fighters have defeated occupation by greater powers a number of times. (Algeria 1960s, Vietnam 1970s, Iraq 2000s)

But can you think of any modern cases of irregular troops transforming a DIFFERENT country?

E. Simon - 10/26/2006

Who said that I ever considered Wikipedia a primary source? Hmmm? Not me. If one is lacking in basic familiarity with a topic, however, I see no problem with referring that person to an encyclopedia. Mr. Friedman is familiar enough with law to understand that it is no use debating something until all parties can agree on basic definitions, or by extension, defining characteristics of a given topic.

E. Simon - 10/26/2006

I think that if terrorism is sufficiently pervasive and tolerated, it can achieve the end of maintaining a society ruled by fear and authoritarianism.

Other than that, yes, it is primarily a means to achieve an end, even if the end I mention is so characterized by that methodology as to be moreso an attribute of it than a means to it.

N. Friedman - 10/26/2006


Not being here to rescue Professor Phares but ...

Phares' main point is that in order to discuss something adequately, you must have an open discussion. As he sees thing, many elements of the MSM - and, if you read his book, also many in academia - have basically censored themselves. As a result, perfectly reasonable questions about the Caliphate - including your questions, remain hidden to general readers by misleading articles, which the Newsweek article he discusses arguably is.

I again point you to the book While Europe Slept, by Bruce Bawer - a fascinating book which addresses the noted topic in substantial detail with reference Europe. I note that his book received a rather good review from well known historian Walter Lacquer. According to Lacquer, the book "is an angry book, well written and well informed." http://www.laqueur.net/index2.php?r=2&rr=2&id=31 .

Lacquer does not write much in his review about press self-censorship that occupies a good portion of Bawer's book other than to note, in passing: "In Norway (with fewer immigrants), the authorities have not yet reached this stage, and social and cultural workers still take pains not to offend Muslims by criticizing even the slavery and female genital mutilation practiced in some Islamic countries. Such criticism, after all, would be an incitement against religion and might cause trouble."

Noting the issue of the Caliphate, bin Laden has, in fact, spoken of re-establishing the Caliphate. We argued about this topic several years ago. If I recall correctly, I posted his statement on the topic as collected online by a reliable source. Moreover, Phares, who makes his living investigating the stated aims of the Jiahdists, certainly knows correctly what such people claim to espouse. I take that much as a given, having read his book.

Now, the issue of whether there is (a) any chance that the Caliphate will return or, (b), if it returns, whether it would be a good or a bad thing, I have no idea. I do note that the Caliphate plays an instrumental role in Jihad in classical Sunni Muslim theology. He is the party who has the right, technically, to call a Jihad for purposes of extending Muslim rule by conquest.

N. Friedman - 10/26/2006


Let me start with this point. Wikipedia is the last place on earth to look for analysis. You can find some facts on it but regarding issues of analysis, it is no starting place.

Here is a suggestion for you. Read Bernard Lewis' book The Jews of Islam. Lewis is largely well disposed toward Muslim rule and, most especially Turkish rule and he says about as much kind of the Turkish relationship with Jews that one can say without making things up. But that is only a starting place if you want to understand how Muslims treated non-Muslims.

And, one can read his statements regarding the disabilities directed at Jews and reach a different conclusion than he does. For example, he does not think that being compelled to wear different, specially designated, clothes to mark one's religion is a serious disability. One does not have to agree with Lewis and I, for one, do not.

I think that one can learn to live with that disability but I am willing to bet that few, if any, people wanted to live that way or considered it a minor issue, especially when such disability supported economic, political, religious and other disabilities. Imagine anyone seeking to live with that sort of thing today. Actually, you do not have to do much imagining as the Taliban were in the process of doing just that when they were overthrown.

Now, you would have it that Jews were relieved from military duty. That is true. But that was not a compensation. It was, instead, part of losing the right of self defense. The ruler feared that non-Muslims would learn that art which would lead to revolts from his non-loyal subjects (non-loyal because they did not support the Muslim cause) - a reasonable fear given other disabilities including disabilities in the practice of religion and in economic endeavors and, most particular, in connection with self-defense.

Consider that non-Muslims lost the ability to bear arms in a world where it was lethally dangerous to venture on any journey. And they lost the ability to defend themselves in a fight with any Muslims, as (a) the testimony of a non-Muslim was non-admissible and (b) the act of self-defense carried not only a penalty, possibly of death, for the person acting but, technically, was a breach of the dhimma (i.e. the pact of concession) by which the act of one person acting in self defense eliminating protection for the entire community. In other words, if non-Muslim A strikes Muslim B, the Muslim community could act against the entire community of non-Muslims to which non-Muslim A is a part. That, from time to time, resulted in the massacre of entire communities.

You can, if you like, characterize the above anyway you like. I think it rather barbaric by today's standards and no advertisement for the historic tolerance of Islamic rule. But, and note my words carefully, I do not say it is worse than what Christians offerred at comparable periods over the course of history. I just say it was unjust and not a basis to praise Islamic civilization.

Note, in any event, that my primary point was not about Jews who, in Islamic history, were a comparatively small group. The treatment of Christians - since they were a very huge group and, at times, the vast majority of people living under Muslim rule (far outnumbering Muslims), is my note for purposes of understanding how non-Muslims lived under Muslim rule. Their treatment stunk and that is why apologists for Islam mention the treatment of Jews - because European Christians treated Jews rather bad.

Lewis, who is Jewish, chose to write about Jews because that group interested him and likely he perhaps sought to make the Ottoman Empire, of which was fond for unrelated reasons, look good. Had he chosen to write about Christians, there is no way to make the Ottoman Empire appear all that wonderful.

In the 19th and early 20th Century, writers pointed to supposed Islamic tolerance by selective analysis - focusing away from the treatment of Christains and Hindus - often in order to browbeat Europeans into better treating minorities and, most especially, Jews.

Now, the point here is not that Muslims treated people particularly bad, compared to European Christians. My point is that the treatment was, nonetheless, bad - as was the treatment of minorities by European Christians. I excuse neither group. But, to suggest that Islam was tolerant is nonsense. Tolerance is merely the Islamic interpretation of its own actions.

Lewis' point that tolerance of the type we today understand was not part of any major culture prior to just recently is, I think, well taken. And that, not trite assertion of Islamic tolerance, is a reasonable approach as is the approach that, given the lack of world tolerance, it is worth understanding the aspects of such lack.

Don Williams - 10/26/2006

1) Since Mr Simon thinks wikipedia is a primary source, look at this:
b) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_Turkey

2) It seems to me that Jews often prospered under a Caliph -- because in exchange for their financial support, he protected them both from hostile Christians and from harassment by the natives of the country in which they resided. This seems to hold whether the "Caliph" is a Sultan in Turkey, Bismarck in Germany, or an American President.

3) Yes, they were taxed by the Ottomans. But were they not exempt from serving in the military which protected them? Were they not exempt from dying in battle, if they paid the tax?

Consider a few paragraphs from citation 1-b above:

"Under Sultan Murad I the Turks crossed over into Europe, and the Jews of Thrace and Thessaly came under Ottoman dominion. The change was a welcome one to them, as their new Muslim rulers treated them with much more toleration and justice than they had received from the Christian Byzantines. The Jews even asked their co-believers from Bursa to come over and teach them Turkish, that they might the quicker adapt themselves to the new conditions. The Jewish community of Adrianople began to flourish, and its yeshibah attracted pupils not only from all parts of Turkey, but also from Hungary, Poland, and Russia. The grand rabbi at Adrianople administered all the communities of Rumelia.

Sultan Murad II (1421-51) was favorably inclined toward the Jews; and with his reign began for them a period of prosperity which lasted for two centuries and which is unequaled in their history in any other country. Jews held influential positions at court; they engaged unrestrictedly in trade and commerce; they dressed and lived as they pleased; and they traveled at their pleasure in all parts of the country. Murad II. had a Jewish body-physician, Ishak Pasha, entitled "Hekim bashi" (physician-in-chief), to whom the ruler granted a special firman exempting his family and descendants from all taxes. This was the beginning of a long line of Jewish physicians who obtained power and influence at court. The same sultan created also an army corps of non-Muslims called "gharibah" (= "strangers"); and to this Jews also were admitted when they were unable to pay the haraç.

Murad's successor, Mehmed the Conqueror (Mehmed II) (1451-81), issued three days after the conquest of Constantinople a proclamation inviting all former inhabitants to return to the city without fear. Jews were allowed to live freely in the new capital as well as in the other cities of the empire. Permission was granted them to build synagogues and schools and to engage in trade and commerce without restrictions of any kind. The sultan invited Jews from the Morea to settle in Constantinople; and he employed Jewish soldiers. His minister of finance ("defterdar") was a Jewish physician named Ya'kub, and his body-physician was also a Jew, Moses Hamon, of Portuguese origin. The latter likewise received a "ferman" from the sultan exempting his family and descendants from taxes.

[edit] The Jewish immigrants who had taken refuge in Ottoman Empire between 1300-1500
Jews of Hungary, in 1376
Jews of France, in 1394
Jews of Sicily, at the beginnings of 15th century
Jews of Bavaria/Germany, in 1470
Jews of Venice, in 1490
Jews of Spain and Portugal, in 1492

[edit] Haven for the Jews
A great influx of Jews into Turkey and the Ottoman Empire, however, occurred during the reign of Mehmed's successor, Beyazid II (1481-1512), after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain and Portugal. The sultan recognized the advantage to his country of this accession of wealth and industry, and bade the Spanish fugitives welcome, issuing orders to his provincial governors to receive them hospitably. The sultan is said to have exclaimed thus at the Spanish monarch's lack of wisdom: "Ye call Ferdinand a wise king — he who makes his land poor and ours rich!" The Jews supplied a need in the Ottoman empire: the Muslim Turks were good soldiers, but they were largely uninterested in business enterprises due to Islamic limitations on commercial dealings; and accordingly left commercial occupations to members of minority religions. They also distrusted their Christian subjects, however, on account of their sympathies with foreign powers; hence the Jews, who had no such sympathies, soon became the business agents of the country. Coming as they did from the persecutions of Europe, Muslim Turkey seemed to them a haven of refuge. The poet Samuel Usque compared it to the Red Sea, which the Lord divided for His people, and in the broad waters of which He drowned their troubles. The native Turkish Jews helped their persecuted brethren; and Moses Capsali levied a tax on the community of Constantinople, the proceeds of which were applied toward freeing Spanish prisoners.

The Spanish Jews settled chiefly in Constantinople, Salonica, Adrianople, Nicopolis, Jerusalem, Safed, Damascus, and Egypt, and in Bursa, Tokat, and Amasya in Asia Minor. &#304;zmir (Smyrna) was not settled by them until later. The Jewish population at Jerusalem increased from 70 families in 1488 to 1,500 at the beginning of the sixteenth century. That of Safed increased from 300 to 2,000 families and almost surpassed Jerusalem in importance. Damascus had a Sephardic congregation of 500 families. Constantinople had a Jewish community of 30,000 individuals with 44 synagogues. Bayazid allowed the Jews to live on the banks of the Golden Horn. Egypt, especially Cairo, received a large number of the exiles, who soon out-numbered the native Jews (see Egypt). The chief center of the Sephardic Jews, however, was Salonica, which became almost a Spanish-Jewish city because the Spanish Jews soon outnumbered their co-religionists of other nationalities and even the original native inhabitants. Spanish became the ruling tongue; and its purity was maintained for about a century...."

Arnold Shcherban - 10/26/2006

They could not formulate what is Al-Qaeda (at the time allegedly the greatest enemy of Western civilisation), except as presenting it as such amorphous in its control and organization, as to say that's no organization at all. So now, they trumped up out of an exoteric set of
semi-truths, semi-lies that world threatening idea of a Caliphate.
The Nazism analogy applied to the latter, is as valid as when it was apllied to Saddam Hussein regime whom
the designated with the universal threat status.
Lies, lies, and lies again - that's US elite justification of their imperialistic policies.

E. Simon - 10/25/2006

Hopefully he gets the message in your last sentence, but I doubt it as well. And until then, participating in discourse where non-reciprocal demanding attitudes are not challenged may have the effect of encouraging the kind of intellectual and emotional immaturity (relatively speaking, of course) that has been observed, including the less-than-mutual demanding behavior.

N. Friedman - 10/25/2006


Woops, I misunderstood your question. Jews were driven out largely beginning in 1492. That was the work of Christians. A large percentage ended up in the Netherlands and in the Ottoman Empire. As I noted: the Ottoman Empire occasionally treated Jews comparatively well - but not by modern standards and not compared to how Muslims at the time were treated. However, Jews were far better treated than Christians, who were thought of, aside from being infidels and subject to the rules applied against Jews, as a potential and sometimes actual fifth column in league with European Christians.

I note that you may mean that Jews were well treated in Andalusia - i.e. Islamic Iberia -. I think that the best that can be said is that Jews contributed at times to the civilization in Andalusia. However, it was a rather small group while the rest were persecuted in the manner noted. By and large, the treatment of non-Muslims in Andalusia would, by today's standards, be called oppression.

N. Friedman - 10/25/2006

Mr. Williams,

The best that can be discerned is that most converted to Islam in order to escape persecution, oppression and discrimination. Others, as I said, were massacred, died of intentionally created famines, in slave marches, etc., etc.

The millet is a legal system whereby religious communities judge their own (so long as a Muslim was not involved). If a Muslim is involved, a Muslim court had jurisdiction.

Don Williams - 10/25/2006

where did they go, Mr Friedman?

Also, what is "millet"?

N. Friedman - 10/25/2006


Omar is free to demand respect. However, since none of us are his slaves, his demands can be ignored. In any event, respect is something that must be earned. And I doubt he is gaining respect as a poster by holding obviously contradictory positions and making contradictory arguments.

Rodney Huff - 10/25/2006

Don is right when he says that "Western Civilization" (WC) has always constituted a "mass of contradictions."

If we accept that the core values of Christianity are at the heart of WC then how do we reconcile the teachings of Jesus with capitalism, another central component of WC?

According to Jesus, the more you give, the more you get (this is also the unspoken principle on which the great redistributive feasts [e.g., Potlatch] in tribally organized societies are based).

On the other hand, in conformity with the principles of capitalism, the more you take, the more you get. The relentless pursuit of profit for the sake of profit thus always threatens to subordinate human values to market values (and leads inevitably to nihilism, as Nietzsche made abundantly clear).

We saw how the invisible hand of the market, unfettered by governmental regulations, operated to create the debilitating mass poverty in Charles Dickens's merry old England. Accordingly, Marx lamented that capitalism is fundamentally antithetical to community values and dampens compassion for one's neighbor.

Sure, the concentration of wealth and investment in technological innovation has resulted in marvelous new technologies and cheap, mass produced commodities. But at what cost has all this "progress" come? It is now estimated that if everyone in the world lived the lifestyle of the average American, we would need 5 more planets to sustain that level of consumption. The capitalist impulse to acquisition is driving us to render this planet uninhabitable for humans everywhere.

Now to tie all this to the larger discussion: Don mentioned that the values traditionally associated with WC are not the actual values informing this administration's foreign policy. I agree and disagree.

I agree in that the policies enacted by this administration do not embody Christian values.

But if we accept that capitalism is also at the core of WC, then it is easy to understand how billions of tax-payer dollars have now gone missing in Iraq, how the Development Fund for Iraq, entrusted to the US-controlled CPA, has been looted to cover no-bid contracts awarded to Halliburton; how the warlords in this administration are protecting the war-profiteers; how a republican-dominated congress repeatedly squashes Rep. Waxman's proposals to investigate the colossal fraud; how Bush, by associating Iraq and Osama bin Laden in the minds of Americans, deceived congress and thus opened up lucrative business opportunities to rebuild what US bombs destroyed; and how Bush is now trying to lump together (in the minds of Americans) Osama bin Laden and an array of disparate terrorist organizations - with different agendas, loyalties, motivations, and capabilities - with Hitler and the Third Reich. Enter catch-all terms like "Islamo-fascists."

This sort of muddling and willfull misunderstanding are intended to manufacture consent and thus prepare the way for yet more "preemptive" invasions of sovereign nations - and even more lucrative opportunities for Halliburton, CACI, Blackwater, etc. to capitalize on human misery and destruction - i.e., to make a killing.

N. Friedman - 10/25/2006


I guess I do not see your point. The background is what it is. There is all sorts of things, good and bad, to examine. However, the basis of the relation between Muslim regions and non-Muslim regions has been one of great rivalry and unending wars. And, the common origins - if they are really that common - pale in comparison with the divergent path they took. Otherwise, there would not have been so much war.

N. Friedman - 10/25/2006


You wrote a very long post. I have time to respond to portions of it that interest me.

First, I agree with you that the term "Western civilization" is not 100% definable and that it is vague. No dispute there. I told you how I used the term and what I meant. And, in communicating, that is about the best that can be done.

Regarding the details of your topic ...

I agree with you that the Europe and Christendom was nasty and brutish and intolerant. All of that is the case and it remained the case, especially, but not only, for Jews, into the 20th Century. In fact, it is not clear how wonderfully tolerant Europe is today for Jews but, no doubt, it is better than it was in previous centuries. Notwithstanding that point of agreement, you make what, to me, is a leap into the dark when you suggest a truly tolerant picture under Islam. That, frankly, is incorrect.

What can be said, I think, about rule under Islam is that Muslim law and society were not largely good for the mass of its non-Muslim subjects. Lest you doubt me, note the disappearance of Christians and Jews from places where they were living in large numbers including, for example, the area now called Turkey which, previously, was dominated by Christianity. North Africa was populated mainly by Christians along with a large number of Jews and Pagans. Iraq was mostly Christian. Persia was mostly Zoroastrian but also had large numbers of Christians and Jews. Arabia had pagans as well as a substantial number of Christians and Jews. Obviously, the land we call Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt had large numbers of Christians and Jews.

What became of these non-Muslim populations under Islamic rule? Note: remnant communities survived. The remainder were destroyed by numerous means including large scale massacres, famine, deportation and, once order was established under Islamic law, by means of discriminatory policies which could be escaped by means of converting to Islam. The discriminatory practices included, among other things, the requirement to wear religion identifying clothing and hairdos (enforced often but not always), the requirement to pay a special tax to benefit only Muslims - hence, non-Muslims were double taxed, once by their own community and once to support Muslims -, with such taxed paid in a humiliating ritual in which the non-Muslim is struck on the neck in order to be made to recognize his subjugation - as stated explicitly in the Koran -, the inability to provide testimony against a Muslim or to defend when attacked by a Muslim, etc., etc.

I might also note that Christians, more than Jews, suffered under Islam. Note that the infamous janissary corps were manned with children stolen from Christian parents in an annual event and raised Muslim. The records of Christians paying bribes for the return of children are legion as are the accounts of parents weeping while their children are dragged away.

[Note: I have not discussed what happened to Hindus and Buddhists under Islamic rule. However, the massacres overall, far exceed anything the Nazis did on anyone's telling. And, the killing was largely done by sword; in other words, up close and personal. By these means, tens of millions of Hindus and Buddhists were butchered.]

Now, I do not claim that Islamic society was less tolerant than Christian society or any other society. However, it is not, by any stretch of the imagination tolerant on the whole over the course of its history. It was another society - one which made contributions to civilization along the way but - which did lots of cruel things such as slave marches, the slaves being the losing armies defeated by Muslim armies; a system of overlord (i.e. Muslims) over the conquered (e.g. Christians and Jews) which was designed in a manner to create conversions. In the beginning, moreover, the system made it more difficult to convert as the small Muslim population which ruled a vast non-Muslim empire preferred to live off of the booty stolen from those conquered (i.e. the noted tax).

Now I do not claim that Islamic civilization is the enemy of the West. I say instead that the history is largely one filled with dispute and rivalry. During much of that history, the non-Muslim side was on the retreat. Since around 1683, Islamic power has been in serious decline. At present, the rise of religious forces in the Muslim region speak of Jihad, which is the traditional word associated by Muslims with their war with non-Muslims during the period when Islam was a dominant power. Which is to say, there is certainly a struggle by Muslims to - as noted by Ahmadinejad - to reverse Islam's losses against Islam's rivals.

The issue with the Caliphate is this: in Islamic theology of the Sunni variety, the Caliph is the person who is legally may and, if he follows his faith, must act on a religious imperative to spread Islamic rule by, if necessary force. Or, in non-Muslim terms: he would be an emperor where the uniting message of the empire is conquest for purposes of bringing a new form of governance to the regions conquered in order, by means of a system of discrimination, to convert those conquered to Islam.

Don Williams - 10/25/2006

To summarize the definition of "Western Civilization"

1) E Simon:
a) "Kind of thinking defined by the Enlightenment" (which I assume E Simon means: Reason and systematic
thinking should guide the design of government instead of e.g., tradition, irrationality, superstition, and tyranny.
Power of nation-state over the individual should be limited and for rational purposes. Society and government is a social
contract among free individuals.

I assume E Simon also means Natural law:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,–That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness"
b) strong system of procedural law wedded to protection of individual rights
c) promotion of international system with a & b
d) capitalism
e) innovation (in technology? or in business and other areas as well?)

2) N Friedman:
a) Western civilization is a largely secular civilization based on a scientific, rationalistic way of thinking
b) Profound influence by the ancient Greeks, Christians, and Jews
3) Part of the problem is that "Western Civilization" has always been a mass of contradictions and relentless, hate-filled battles
among violent factions.
Both the Catholic and Anglican Churchs were as hostile to secular rationalism than they were to Islam.
The "Enlightenment" did not occur until very late in the day: 1700s AD. Even then it did not stick in many cases --look at how the Catholic Church supported the Nazi takover of the Reichstag in order to combat "Cultural Bolshevism" -- a polite way of referring to the Frankfurt School.
4) The Churchs of the Middle Ages were repressive and totalitarian -- attempting to control the minds of subjects as
well as their bodies and physical behavior. Compare the pograms against the Jews and the burning of dissenters -- as well
as the massacre of the Albegensians -- with the tolerance shown to Christians and Jews by the some of the Islamic Caliphates.
5) And when we speak of the "profound influence of the Greeks and Christians" are we talking about the Greek Orthodox
Church? I don't think so.
6) The problem is that "Western Civilization" is a vague concept used to promote sloppy thinking in order to promote
specific hidden agendas. Churchill's "History of the English Speaking Peoples" -- in its implicit racism and propaganda
appeal -- was a soft form of Hitler's racist appeal to nationalism in support of the "Aryan People". As is Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations".
7) Finally, note that "Western Civilization" has changed greatly over time -- frequently from the outside. The Romans and Greeks
regarded both the Christians and Jews with contempt --look at Tacitus's statements. The Plantagenet kings of England were little
more than Viking raiders from Scandavia one generation removed. Many European dynasties were founded by uncivilized
Germanic invaders. Were the National Socialist philosophies and Bolshevism of Germany in the recent past part of
"Western Civilization"??
7) I think that there are specific core values which I, Mr Simon and Mr Friedman share. Some of those values are not well-established
in many Islamic governments. Where I disagree with Mr Simon and Mr Friedman is that I do not think those values guide
the current US Government either. I think the false propaganda promoted by supporters of that government -- and the acts of that
government -- are extremely contrary to the core values of Christianity, of Judaism, and of the Enlightenment. Certainly "secular rationalism" seems to play a very small role in the ongoing debate within America.
8) So let's forget about whether the Islamic world is an enemy of "Western Civilization". To see where we agree and disagree, Let us instead define the specific core values that we think the USA represents --values that we are prepared to defend strongly. What is at stake in the current "War on Terror"?
What is at risk from Phares' "Caliphate"?
9) Because we are running out of room,please post the response as a new thread at the bottom of this page.

Charles S Young - 10/25/2006

It's a glass half full or half empty situation.

There are differences and similarities out there to be found. There's loads of evidence to prove either point. If your agenda is to divide and stigmatize, you study the differences. If seek hope and reconciliation, you look for commonalities.

art eckstein - 10/25/2006

Omar demands respect while remaining impervious to empirical evidence if he doesn't like it. All too typical.

Good luck to you, Mr. Friedman, with this person.

N. Friedman - 10/25/2006


That was not my term. The Professor wrote: "... I wish you well in your effort to wean Omar from Islamofascism, or Islamism, or whatever you wish to call it." I merely responded.

N. Friedman - 10/24/2006


I am not trying to wean him. I just think you underestimate Omar.

I note that people - whether or not generally fact oriented - tend to dismiss evidence when it affects them but does not fit what they want to say. In this case, Omar claims the importance of his Palestinian Arab cause and he is not interested in hearing things that undermine that cause. Lots of people do the very same thing.

art eckstein - 10/24/2006

I understand and appreciate your hope that Omar is rational, Mr. Friedman--and you are right that I probably should not be rubbing his face in his irrationality. It doesn't lead anywhere accept to infuriate him. Your attempt to speak rationality with Omar is a noble effort, in my view.

My problem is that I have seen no evidence to speak of that Omar's rationality exists, or that he has an empirical world-view. As far as I can see, he is concerned to defend Islam and Islamists against the disrespect of dhimmis, period. In my comments above, I wasn't just gassing off but Iwas working from my very frustrating experience with Omar's own absurd and irrational postings. In my world, when people are presented with solid evidence, they accept it even if it hurts their darling, their hypothesis. This is one of the painful lessons one learns in graduate school. I see no evidence that Omar can absorb such evidence that contradicts his emotional worldview. Even when I have patiently presented simply masses of such evidence to him, it didn't convince him (at least not in public), and all I've gotten back is irrational denials of incontrovertible facts, denials (such as about Hezbollah) which you yourself find irrational and absurd. Those denials have come, as well, with a sewer of personal abuse.

My own conclusion is that Omar simply isn't interested in facts. As E. Simon says, he is pre-empirical. He has a cause, it is an honor for him to defend this cause and to foster it, it is a dishonor for him to accept any criticism of it.

However, I could be wrong (it wouldn't be the first time). Perhaps Omar will one day be a rational being, and I wish you well in your effort to wean Omar from Islamofascism, or Islamism, or whatever you wish to call it.

N. Friedman - 10/24/2006


Assuming that you are correct, sticking it in Omar's face will not move him past what you believe to be his origins. I, however, am not convinced that you view of him is correct or fair.

My bet is that Omar understands rather clearly the paradoxical position of defending groups like Hezbollah while saying that he personally opposes violence and Antisemitism.

In that he can read, he surely knows - notwithstanding his pro forma denials - that groups like Hezbollah hold views he claims to oppose. So, either he opposes such things but they are unimportant, in the scheme of things, to him or he does not oppose such things but merely claims to do so. Either way, he certainly knows that faced with that contradiction is a loser. And, either way, he knows something is amiss.

The term 'cognitive dissonance' comes to mind when I read Omar's denial posts. That leads me to think that he likely is not sure how to react when confronted by the inherent contradition in his position. Thus far, he denies factual evidence he cannot explain away. Again, no doubt he realizes that such denial is a losing argument. Whether he will change his view given what are obviously facts that contradict his rosey view of Islamists remains to be seen.

Now, Omar is faced with the ultimate contradiction: claiming that racism is the issue with Zionism while supporting groups which espouse bigotry. My bet is that faced with his dislike of Zionism he will move away from Islamists as that undermines his entire position. As I have noted: polling in France has shown a dramatic shift, among elites, away from Palestinian Arabs due to the influence of Islamism on that movement and the troubles brewed in Frane by Islamists. If the French are drastically re-thinking their position now that Islamists rule the Palestinian Arab cause, the message will be heard by the likes of Omar.

art eckstein - 10/24/2006

E.Simon has it perfectly right that Omar comes out of a pre-empirical thoughtworld.

It is a tribal honor/shame world, a simple world, where what counts is ONLY whose side you are on, not what facts you have. In such a world, the only facts that are important are those that are on your side; the other side's facts are either lies or inconsequential. That's because this is a battle and not an actual intellectual debate. To think that the other side has a point would in such a battle be "weak"--hence, it would be shameful. Hence it cannot be done.

Moreover, it is a thoughtworld where people are either on "your" side or the "other", side, period and black-and-white. If they are on "your" side they are ipso facto good. And if they are on the "other" side then they are all ipso facto evil--in this case, if people agree on something on this blog (and even if we also disagree) we are all part of Omar's grand anti-Islam conspiracy. It explains so much, you know--and it does so without the Muslims or Islam being responsible for any of it. Therefore conspiracy theory is both natural and (above all) honorable.

So, no, Mr. Friedman, Omar cannot see that terrorism besmirches the name of Islam and that not protesting it besmirches the name of Islam. He simply cannot see it. He doesn't see it as terrorism if it's done by Muslims, and therefore he doesn't see any reason in the slightest to condemn it on moral grounds (there might occasionally be pragmatic reasons to back away from it a bit from time to time from some particularly grotesque Muslim violence against innocents, if it seems counterproductive at the moment, but always with the caveat that Omar "understands" why Muslims acted that way and it wasn't their fault no matter how it looks).

In any case, many Muslims have an extraordinarily hard time criticizing Muslims in front of non-Muslims, and that includes Omar. This helps explain, for instance, Omar's extraordinary and absurd denial in the face of overwhelming evidence that Hezbollah and its leadership are anti-semitic. it's not an issue of the FACTS (because facts don't matter to the pre-empirical). It's an issue of HONOR. He is defending Hezbollah's HONOR.

Moreover, who are we, as dhimmis and infidels, to criticize the Word of God OR to criticize those who believe in the Word of God? To accept that dhimmis and infidels might have legitimate criticisms of Islam as a faith (a faith, say, which has strong elements conducive to violence), or of legitimate criticisms of Muslim violence is, ipso facto, an absurd and a dishonorable thought. Therefore, this is a thought--that dhimmis might have a point--that cannot be thought by people such as Omar. They certainly cannot be SAID.

It is an unfortunate fact, and conducive to a massive amount of violence in the world, that there are many, many such people in the world. Not everyone who takes this pre-empirical atttiude is a Muslim, of course; it's a view typical of many morally primitive thinkers: Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, atheist.

E. Simon - 10/24/2006

I was a bit unfair. As far as the defining features of what lies within Western Civilization and what lies outside, I think the most important aspects have to do with allowing for the kind of thought defined by the Enlightenment, a strong system of procedural law that is wedded to the protection of individual rights, and the promotion of a society that adheres to a worldview where those functions have been allowed to flourish as a part of the modern international system, which is in turn made possible in no small part by the ascendancy of the West. Capitalism plays a large role too, as does the innovation both leading to it and resulting from many of the other attributes mentioned. This is what I'm talking about, Don; they are all related, too - although perhaps, again, you think this is just nothing more than think-tank talk designed to distract otherwise righteously indignant citizens. We will have to see, and your choice of responses will clarify that.

N. Friedman - 10/24/2006


I do think you make a good point if you are suggesting that we are dealing with somewhat undefined and, perhaps, undefinable terms.

In any event, I tend to speak of Christiandom or European civilization. Western civilization is, on my thinking - and when I am writing carefully - basically the remnant of that prior civilization and, I would think, now largely transcends it. In any event, Western civilization is a largely secular civilization based on a scientific, rationalistic way of thinking.

I note that I am not ascribing anything to the notion in my comparison with Islam. My point is that the influence of Islam on you and me and mostly everyone else here has not been that great, if we are considering our culture, habits of thought and scientific and other such contributions. That, however, is not to suggest the absence of contribution.

By contrast, the influence of the Greeks is profound. The same for Christianity and Judaism. And, so far as contributors, the main actors, post ancient Greece, are Christians and Jews. However, in more recent times, people from the Far East and India are making substantial contributions. The Muslim regions are not, at present, contributing much, except, perhaps, as inspiration to Western countries regarding the building of walls and defensive measures.

This can all be said without saying anything bad about Islam. Islamic civilization was certainly great and made substantial contributions. They just are not the primary contributions to Western civilization.

Now, you are also correct that had various wars come to different outcomes, the world might look rather different. Note Charles Martel. Note also the stopping of Muslim armies by the Khazarians. Note the defeat of the fascists and Nazis. Note the defeat of Napolean. Etc., etc. But, them's the breaks.

E. Simon - 10/24/2006

Since complex answers elude you, Don, you might want to try reading an article or two, or an encyclopedia:



Pay attention to that whole thing called the "Enlightenment" too, since ways of thinking are sometimes at least as important as discoveries - the significance of the specifically, Western Age of Discovery notwithstanding.

And when you find how the whole citation here is just a ploy to distract you from your conspiracy theories about 5th columns bringing down America and screwing the poor, cronyism, etc., ad infinitum, ad nauseum, it's ok, that's the typical response we've come to expect. So just relegate your objections to what you don't like about Western civ, which is more entertaining a revelation about your intellectual shortcomings to read here.

Don Williams - 10/24/2006

Maybe Mr Friedman and Mr Simon could clarify matters by defining what they consider "Western Civilization", who they see as belonging to it, and who lies outside of it -- and why.

If not for a chance discovery of a silver lode, Athens' fleet would not have been built, Thermopylae (sp?) would have been a long-forgotten futile gesture, and the much vaunted Greeks would have been servants and
love slaves to the Persians.

E. Simon - 10/24/2006

As I understand it, the four primary foundational cultures of Western civ were Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian. Other influences made it in, but not with the same significance. Perhaps in all his bile, Williams could look into that a little more and afford himself a bit more respect to them, or else decide that Western civ just ain't all that much and instead promote a revival of more obscure influences such as an ancient Egyptian movement.

I think I agree with Wafa Sultuan. Civilizations don't clash, they compete, but ultimately if they are in contact for long enough, and individuals on both sides will to survive and maintain their identity, a common civilization will emerge that predominantly carries on the defining attributes of one or the other. I suppose there can be fusions, as well, but it is difficult to see whether ANY civilization that currently exists poses a significant challenge to Western civ. Failing that, other civilizations will have to accomodate moreso to Western norms than vice versa.

Whether or not Islamic civilization wants or cares to see itself as part of the greater Western civilization is something that only people like Omar can clarify. But the fact that the remaining successful societies around the world of non-Near Eastern origin have basically accomodated to or are accomodating to Western norms and the current international dynamic created by them (such as India, Southest Asia), puts the ball squarely in the court of the modern remnants of Islamic civilization for how to accede to Western civ, reconcile itself with it, etc. or not.

If it chooses none of the above and wants to instead fight it, I don't see any way for it to succeed, but that's just my perspective - not that I can't back it up with good reasons for coming to that conclusion, of course.

E. Simon - 10/24/2006

Re: The whole "admission" garbage, I think this is what Irfan referred to with "min warrah." Omar is not capable of understanding that neither one of us necessarily have to /stand/ for the other, or - for that matter - for any other, we just happen to agree or less often disagree to an extent, based on the rational discourse that we engaged in. He simply does not get this. Everyone here is, in his eyes, broken up to what cause they are loyal to and who they are allied with. He is probably not capable of seeing it in any other way. Poor Omar.

Clarke does this too, but to a lesser extent, and more in accordance with Western prejudices, unlike those of Omar.

We are talking about another example of pre-empiric perceptual attitudes.

E. Simon - 10/24/2006

It seems I made the mistake of supposing that Omar's mind was subtle enough to handle a single line of light sarcasm, as it should be evident that's what it was from the context of the post. It's funny how people who work so heavily on the basis of conspiracy theories seem to find representatives for them in every corner, too. But such is what one can expect from a triumphalist such as Omar who thinks Jewish nationalism is somehow more insidious than any other national movement, including the Arab hegemonist movement that he implicitly endorses as opposition.

N. Friedman - 10/24/2006


I do not deny Arab influence. I do not deny Muslim influence. I merely tried to place that influence in context.

Note: Science and math came to great fruition, beyond anything imaginable in the Arab regions, for many reasons. The Arabs and Muslism are one rather minor one.

And, as I hinted and not assert clearly: the influence of the Greeks was, by any rational measure, immeasurably greater. We, after all, continue to celebrate Greek thought as central to Western civilization. That can be said without denying the Muslims and Arabs also contributed and Islam and Arabs are not denigrated by noting that much of their contribution - not all of it by a long shot - was the work of Jews and Christians. And that can be said whether, in part, such was due to translations made in Muslim countries of Greek work. But again: much - but hardly all - of the Greek contribution was due to people fleeing Muslim armies.

N. Friedman - 10/24/2006


I do not work for Mr. Simon. I do not care whether he admits to nonsense or not. In any event, there is no conspiracy, whether or not he thinks otherwise. And, lastly, somehow I suspect you misread his statements.

Note: let us see what he says. Again: what is good for the goose is good for the gander. So, we need to see if you correctly interpret his writing, whether he mispoke, whether he was joshing you or whether you read him incorrectly.

N. Friedman - 10/24/2006


Another thing. I am not part of any conspiracy, Zionist or otherwise. I advocate my own theories - many of which are criticized severely while finding support by others.

But, regarding certain things, I am willing to bet that few disagree with me. In particular, when I note the obvious, namely, that Muslim Jihadists are displaying a face that is worthy of disrepute, I bet there are few dissenters from my statement. And, I suspect that most of the readers on this cite agree that the Islamist movement is rather violent and rather bigotted. You might ask around, if you think I am wrong. And, to the extent that Muslims are essentially silent when such occurs, I bet most people on this site will agree that such affects how non-Muslims view Islam and Muslims - and the view taken from such is negative, not positive.

I bet even Mr. Clarke agrees with me on these point.

N. Friedman - 10/24/2006


I expect better from you.

In simple terms, you choose not to address arguable problems with your position. Fine. But, do not expect your readers to respect your position, since you do not defend it - only attack the positions of others. Expect to have it pointed out that you are unwilling to defend your position, leaving it to some future date - likely the 12th of Never - to respond. And that is the message here. It is the message you are sending.

N. Friedman - 10/24/2006


What point are you making?

Don Williams - 10/24/2006

Certainly some of the translators of Greek and Latin texts in Bagdhad were Jewish or Christian.
But the later development of ideas in medieval Europe borrowed from Arabic manuscripts in
direct and indirect ways as well. See e.g,. http://www.columbia.edu/~gas1/project/visions/case1/sci.1.html .

Even the idea of the "Greeks" being the sole source of Greek math/science/philosophy ignores
the interaction with Egypt and Persia. Remember Herodotus?

"If the [Nile] River carried away any portion of a man's lot, he appeared before the king, and related what had
happened; upon which the king sent persons to examine, and determine by measurement the exact
extent of the loss; and thenceforth only such a rent was demanded of him as was proportionate to the
reduced size of his land. From this practice, I think, geometry first came to be known in Egypt, whence
it passed into Greece. The sun-dial, however, and the gnomon with the division of the day into twelve
parts, were received by the Greeks from the Babylonians." [The History, Book Two(Euterpe), section 109]

Charles S Young - 10/24/2006

It all depends on whether you want to find divisions or commonalities.

E. Simon - 10/24/2006

It's funny that a serial Holocaust denier has to be reminded, in a discussion of Islam and its intersection with Western civilization, of what was actually denied or not denied vs. what was just in his Holocaust denying head.

N. Friedman - 10/24/2006


I would not suggest otherwise. However, each of the religions took a different path. Two of the religions - Christianity and Islam - came to be dominant in large parts of the world. And, they thought of each other as rivals, not as part of one unit.

So, while there is certainly considerable similarity in the beliefs of the three religions - although there are substantial differences as well -, they have seperate histories that, at times, overlap.

E. Simon - 10/24/2006

Did they also all experience reformations and challenges to the literalist tradition as a "unit?" I don't think so. I also think such a consideration would make for the more operative discussion, but many seem to tune it out for some reason or another. Why do you think that is?

Charles S Young - 10/24/2006

N. Friedman emphasizes the differences between Islam and the west. Contrasts are of course there to be found, but Islam, Christianity, and Judaism are all Mediterranean religions. They emerged from the same place with the same roots, so it is approriate to consider them a unit.

If you think of the differences between Islam and say Confucianism, and then compare to the commonalities with the other religions of Abraham, and it is apparent that they should be thought of as a triad. Islam, Christianity, Judaism, are full siblings, none is a stepchild, much as some want to disown him.

N. Friedman - 10/24/2006

Disregard my prior post. This is the CORRECTED version:


No one denies that Islam has influenced Europe. However, there is also some related points that are not as simple as you suggest.

First, as to the transmission of information, there is the point that much of the transmission of culture did not come from Muslim ruled areas but, instead, from educated Christians fleeing Byzantium - as the remnants of that empire were falling to Muslim armies -.

This is not to deny that some information travelled to Europe directly but only to note that, likely, the bulk of transmission was indirect. In this regard, consider, by analogy, that the acquisition of the Bomb by the US was not direct transmission of science from Europe but largely the result of scientists - mostly Jewish - fleeing from the Nazis and from fascism.

Second, there is the point about what actually was transmitted from Islamdom. There was considerable influence from, for example, Averoes which had implications for Thomism. But, so did Rambam, who is often cited by Aquinas (i.e. as Rabbi Moses). There was transmission of some mathematics information and some science although, by and large, the work was that of Christians and Jews, not Muslims. But, of course, that is the trend as there were, no doubt, many, many exceptions.

Now, the argument that Islam is a different culture than the West seems to be beyond question, whether or not Islam influenced Europe - and, no doubt, Europe influenced Islam -. At the same time, we are all part of humanity and no society is wholly isolated. But, Islam is not the primary influence on the West. It is one of many and, likely, not one of the main influences.

N. Friedman - 10/24/2006


No one denies that Islam has influenced Europe. However, there is also some related points that are not as simple as you suggest.

First, as to the transmission of information, there is the point that much of the transmission of culture did not come from Muslim ruled areas but, instead, from educated Christians fleeing Byzantium - as the remnants of that empire were falling -.

This is not to deny that some information travelled to Europe directly but only to note that, likely, the bulk of transmission was indirect. In this regard, consider, by analogy, that the acquisition of the Bomb was not direct transmission of science from Europe but largely the result of scientists - mostly Jewish - fleeing from the Nazis and from fascism.

Second, there is the point about what actually was transmitted from Islamdom. There was considerable influence from, for example, Averoes which had implications for Thomism. But, so did Rambam, who is often cited by Aquinas (i.e. as Rabbi Moses). There was transmission of some mathematics information and some science although, by and large, the work was that of Christians and Jews, not Muslims. But, of course, that is the trend as there were, no doubt, many, many exceptions.

Now, the argument that Islam is a different culture than the West seems to be beyond question, whether or not Islam influenced Europe - and, no doubt, Europe influenced Islam -. At the same time, we are all part of humanity and no society is wholly isolated. But, Islam is not the primary influence on the West. It is one of many and, likely, not one of the main influences.

N. Friedman - 10/24/2006


Omar is free to do as he pleases. The precise details of his position remain a mystery but, then again, none of us is exactly spilling the beans. No doubt, in due course, he will continue to unfold himself, perhaps gradually, just like everyone else here does.

Those reading this site can certainly discern that he supports Arab Muslim causes and, as of late, he has expressed some Islamist leanings. Mostly, however, I think his agenda is to undermine Israel's legitimacy rather than to work for a compromise - something to point out -.

Hence, he calls Zionism racist, which is a strange and ironic point when expressed with an Islamist twist - although such is a commonly expressed view by seemingly non-self-critical Muslims -. Omar does not seem to have noticed the drop off in support in countries tending to be pro-Palestinian Arab, including, most particularly, France, for Palestinianism now that the Palestinianism is expressed in Islamist language.

I think it fair and correct to point out the inconsistency in his view, since the Islamist groups - nearly all of them - draw substantive distinctions and (apart for thus far Turkey) when in power, radically discriminate between Muslim and non-Muslim, while, with the exception of the quasi-Islamist ruling party in Turkey, assert that Zionism is a bigoted belief. Evidently, what is good for the goose need not be good for the gander, at least if you favor Islamism.

N. Friedman - 10/24/2006


Again: Mr. Bauer holds whatever views he holds. However, my bet is that much of his publicly stated agenda is the opposite of the agenda of the other persons you mention. And, to note, those other people tend to hold a variety of views. They are not a monolith, as the saying goes.

Don Williams - 10/24/2006

i.e., that God needs their personal help -- and advice -- in order to fulfil his convenant with the Chosen People. And in pursuit of that goal, they appear willing to accept acts that violate the fundamental tenets of both Judaism and Christianity.

Charles S Young - 10/24/2006

If we are to take the threat of a caliphate as seriously as Phares wants us to,then the reality of it must be demonstrated.

For example, some Christians seek to speed the arrival of the rapture. If you take them at their word, this would be very threatening to all non-Christians, whose societies would be destroyed and their bodies tossed into the lake of fire. Hopefully, the presence of rapture believers will not trigger preemptive attacks on us.

Now take the caliphate. The fact that some hallucinatory extremists want one does not mean it is something we have to worry about. Phares does not do much to prove we face a monolithic threat, except to make comparisons to Hitler. The Nazi threat, however, was concentrated in the tightly run, efficient state. Its unity was based on a much tighter criterion -- race and nationalism. To suggest that Muslims could become similarly coordinated is a breathless leap. Could the Catholics of the world be united in an attempt to reverse the Reformation in even just one place, say England?

Remember the contortions of cold warriors trying to keep alive a monolthic communist threat, even as Vietnam invaded Cambodia, and China invaded Vietnam? The caliphate is an even more preposterous threat than a worldwide, coordinated revolt of the proletariat. The whole record of modernity is the splintering of human identities, not regimentation. The caliphate-baiters are the same as the professional anticommunists who told us to keep fluoride out of the water.

Demonstrating a caliphate to be a realistic concern carries an immense burden of proof because it is so fantastical.

N. Friedman - 10/24/2006

Gary Bauer?

He is a reactionary. Again: you lump disparate people under a label. My bet: Bauer and the others hold very different views on most issues.

N. Friedman - 10/24/2006

Mr. Williams,

The US teamed up with the USSR during WWII. Belonging to an organization in which some self-described neocons belong does not define one's personality or beliefs.

Take you, for example. There are people who deny, by and large, the Shoah. Many - if not most - people who hold that view also hate Jews and, by extension, Israel. But, that does not mean that all people who support that view must hate Jews or Israel. Does it? Your argument about the groups to which Phares belongs fits that smae logic.

Again, Phares is a social democrat. He supports the Maronite cause and, by extension, the cause of the oppressed non-Muslim groups living in Muslim countries. In doing so, he has made alliance with others. But, that does not mean he holds exactly the same views. Or, do you think he was forced to sign an oath of allegiance to the neocon cause - whatever it might actually be -.

And, I might add: the neocon view covers such a wide gamut of positions that it is difficult to see it as anything other than a collection of ex-left wingers who now support - or, at least, often support - some parts of the Bush agenda. But, even then, the not ever left wing - or, at least so far as I know - Rumsfeld is often called a neocon.

Even on Israel, not all neocons support the same view. In particular, the ever villified - perhaps, with good reason - Wolfowitz is a consistent critique of Israel's government for not being sufficiently favorable to a settlement with Palestinian Arabs. Likewise, the renownwed historian, Walter Lacquer - often called a neocon and, so far as I know, correctly called that - is rather skeptical about Israel as a whole. So, again: unless your goal is propaganda, what you write is basically nonsense.

Don Williams - 10/24/2006

Some of Mr Phares' associates at FDD:

Richard Perle?
Charles Krauthammer?
Bill Kristol?
Gary Bauer?

ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Don Williams - 10/24/2006

In my opinion, Mr Pheres' organization -- Foundation for Defense of Democracies-- has
a hilariously Orwellian name since FDD is, in my opinion, an Israeli front organization
designed to mislead American voters with propaganda.

1) The nature and funding of Mr Phere's organization --Foundation for Defense of Democracies--
was described in a 2003 article in "The American Conservative" --Pat Buchanan's magazine.
See http://www.amconmag.com/11_17_03/article1.html .

2) FDD's Vice President was initially Nils Bohr, but Mr Bohr left FDD some time after I noted his
affilation here on HNN: See http://hnn.us/comments/14609.html . A Short excerpt:
"a) I notice that many of the names on the FDD membership list
( see <http://www.defenddemocracy.org/biographies/biographies.htm>; )
have links to short biographies. However, the FDD page does not give a bio for Mr Nir Boms, the Vice President, for some reason. Why not?

b) When I google on Nir Boms, I see
"Nir Boms

Nir Boms is the officer of public affairs and education at the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C. "

art eckstein - 10/24/2006

Mr. Friedman answers Williams and Omar cogently, as usual.

But I would point out to the unwary that Williams certainly knows a lot about Nazis, since he is a devotee of the Holocaust denier David Irving--a subject on which I caught Williams out and made him look like a fool several times a couple of weeks ago.

Just a warning to people.

Mr. Friedman: if you look back at the blog based on Professor LeVine's article last week, you will see that Omar has ducked your challenge to admit I was correct about Hezbollah's complicity in the most vile anti-semitism (on which, you asserted, I had provided abudant and incontrovertible proof), refused to distance himself from Hezbollah as you urged him to do, and refused to clarify the possible totalitarian implications of his advocacy of "a total-application-of-sharia state", which is his ideal Muslim state.

You warned Omar then what conclusions people might draw about him from his failure to address these issues. I think that is correct.

N. Friedman - 10/24/2006

Mr. Williams,

The goal of creating a Caliphate is not something made up by neo-cons or anyone else. Such is the stated goals of numerous of the Islamist groups. By way of example and so far as I know, Hizb Ut Tahrir and Al Muhajiroun both support the recreation of the Caliphate. According to Omar, the Hizb Al Tahrir Al Islami supports recreation of the Caliphate. The al Qa'ida group has that goal as well, if their statements are to be believed.

Now, what a Caliphate would mean is another question. Omar claims it could, in theory, be anti-Imperialist. Anything is possible although that could quite possibly place the Caliphate at odds with classical Islamic theology which, by any reasonable reckoning, supports spreading Islamic rule under Islamic law to the entire world, using government power - including military force - in that endeavor and placing non-Muslims, once brought under Islamic rule, at a social disadvantage that they can escape, rather readily, by converting to Islam.

In any event, historically, the governments taking on the mantle of Islam under a Caliph have generally organized themselves on imperial precepts (e.g. the Ottoman Empire, the Abbasid dynasty and Umayyad dynasty). So, one might advocate a policy by the US that is conscious of the potential stated aims of Muslims.

One might also argue, I would think, that a Caliphate might be a good thing, at the moment, as it would absorb the ambitions of the current NGO jihadis, place a theological straight jacket on them (i.e. the Caliph is, in classical Islamic theology, the only person with the authority to organize a Jihad directed toward spreading Islam). But the counter-argument might be made that, historically, the Caliph has not been able to reign in NGO type jihadis and there is a very long history - covering much of Islam's history - of such jihadis acting on their own intiative without regard to the directives by the Caliph.

Now, you might argue that neo-cons use such stated Islamist goals to their advantage. But, again, we need some facts to support that position. And, it is to be noted that those making public policy, whatever the agenda of the neocons might be, might nonetheless be well advised to consider the stated goals of groups such as al Qa'ida. So, the neocons may be quite correct, whether or not they have the correct formula for dealing with that or any other issue.

Now, you suggest that Phares is a neocon - whatever you mean by that. Actually, he is a Maronite Christian who claims to be a social democrat. Maybe you mean he has an agenda you disagree with and you use neocon as a perjorative. I have no idea.

In any event, his agenda is, so far as I can discern - and I have read his book -, largely in favor of Maronites, which he perceives to be one of the many oppressed minorities living in Muslim countries. Hence, his approach tends to be supportive of non-Muslims in the Muslim regions, generally speaking.

He is not known, by the way, to be pro-Israel - which would be a minority view among neocons - although he does not advocate Israel's dismemberment either. Rather, like many other Maronites, he treats Israel as a country which, at times, has supported Maronites and at other times ignored them.

And, he appears to be cognizant that Jews would be severely oppressed, as is every non-Muslim group today, under Muslim rule. On that point he is on solid ground, whether or not creating a seperate state for Maronites - if such is part of his goal - is a reasonable idea.

E. Simon - 10/24/2006

The major advantage of Western civilization is that unlike Islamic civilization, the gates of access to philosophical/scientific reasoning were not formally closed, but rather opened wider than ever in the 18th century. So while David Irving might be wetting his pants laughing at how his defenders such as Don Williams reminds us to thank the Arabs for algebra and astronomy, the conspicuous regional absence of intellectual developments following that closure, leaves Don struggling with many more advanced intellectual developments that took place since - including realizing the folly of Holocaust denial, thanks to the West.



Don Williams - 10/24/2006

It is interesting how the Neocons are using the same tactics against the Islamic world that the Nazis used against the Jews.

The millions of Jews killed in the Holocaust had no influence or involvement in the conference at Versailles --the Conference that raped Germany and caused the economic collapse that gave birth to Hitler and the Nazis. Versailles was the work of greedy rich men. Among them may have been some Jewish financiers but they were an infinitely small percentage of the Jewish world.

But the Nazis used the ordinary Jew as a scapegoat to deflect attention of German citizens away from the wealthy elites who brought down death and destruction upon Germany.

That is because the "National Socialists" were never socialists --they were fascist whores for the rich who acted to protect the wealthy from popular unrest. The Neocons of today are much the same -- certainly it is not the common Jewish American who pays Richard Perle's rather hefty restaurant bills.

Like the Nazis , the Neocons have to create "The Big Lie" to hide the fact that it is not Al Qaeda who has, in just a few short years, stolen $4 TRILLION from the Trust Funds for Social Security/Medicare. It was not Bin Ladin who sent thousands of US soldiers to their deaths in Iraq --and who has crippled thousands more for life. It is not Bin Ladin who stands to make huge profits from deals with Iraqi Minister of Oil Ahmed Chalabi --the Ahmed Chalabi whose "bad intelligence" supposedly led Bush to order the invasion of Iraq.

The Neocons have to frantically create myths about "Islamofascists" and "The Caliphate" to divert Americans from the Truth --because they know that Americans ever find out the truth, Americans will hunt down the Neocons and shoot them like dogs.

Mr Phares's call for an intellectual debate re Islam is hilarious in its deceit.

For 5 years, the Neocons have created and have frantically promoted George W Bush's lie that Sept 11 occurred because the "terrorists hate our freedom".

For 5 years, the Neocons have totally suppressed any mention of the 3 reasons Bin Laden gave in 1998 for jihad. For 5 years, they have suppressed any discussion of how the predatory aggression of 3 major interest groups --Big Oil, Big Defense, and the Israel Lobby -- provoked the Sept 11 attack.

N. Friedman - 10/24/2006


You mention a "neocon/Zionist campaign to disfigure the true nature and image of Islam."

No offense but that is nonsense. If Islam is being disfigured, it is due mostly to lunatics who blow themselves up, claiming to do so in the name of Islam and it is due to the unwillingness of non-lunatic Muslims to reign the lunatics in, mount a theological or philosophical campaign against their ideas or even much comdemn them. Which is to say, the Islamic community has, in the eyes of many non-Muslims - made itself either unintentionally or intentionally complicit with people, who to non-Muslims, are the only voice of Islam.

Further, blowing up Israeli civilians, which not only is not condemned but which is applauded and, in some cases, said to be permissible in Islam, by a number of prominent Muslim clerics, suggests to any rational person that Islam permits the massacre of civilians. And, in this regard, the Israelis would certainly be within their rights to argue that point. Notwithstanding that right, the Israelis - although not all of their supporters - have, for the most part, distanced themselves from taking that tact.

Further, Omar, while you think that Zionism is racist, that is another nonsense assertion. Zionism was merely a liberation movement and is appropriately, to the extent that it is now connected with an actual country, properly described in nationalist terms.

Noting the view - required by logic - that what is good for the goose must, if true, also be good for the gander, if Zionism is racist, then, by logical necessity, Palestinianism is racist, as would be American nationalism, Russian nationalism, Greek nationalism (which expelled millions of Muslims in the course of creating modern Greece), Turkish nationalism (which annihilated most of its Armenian population and expelled essentially all of its Greek population), etc., etc. All of these movements favor one group over another, as does Islam itself (and most other religions, so that you understand that I am not pickin on Islam) - since it favors Muslims over others -.

In simple terms, Omar, you have provided nothing that distinguishes Zionism from any of the other liberation/nationalist movements whether or not population dislocation and the like occurred. And, most particularly in Arab and other Muslim countries, the treatment of non-Muslims is an abomination. And, that is particularly the case in Iran, with its Bahai'a population, which is treated as a non-dhimmi infidel population with essentially no protection from the law. In the case of Egypt, Copts are regularly murdered and rapes are rampant, with no expectation of justice from the authorities. These are two of many examples - and there are far worse examples.

Now, if you want to call Zionism, but not Islamism or other the world's other nationalist or liberation movements, racist, you have a lot of explaining, even to people who sympathize with Islam, Palestinian Arabs, etc., etc.

Don Williams - 10/24/2006

One of the signs of deep ignorance among the neocons is their distinction between the Islamic world and "Western Civilization".

Egypt and Northern Africa were major players in the Roman Empire.

Lawrence M. Principe, the professor at John Hopkins who teaches the history of science, has written about the major role played by the Islamic world in protecting, nurturing, expanding and transmitting much of Western philosophy, mathematics and science after the fall of Rome. A number of our classics came down to us via the Islamic world.

Anyone who has ever done celestial navigation knows that many of the primary stars have Arabic names.
The Arabic contributions to mathematics --algebra,etc --are well known.

As I noted before, Leo Strauss would wet his pants laughing at you guys.

E. Simon - 10/24/2006

It would also be pretty telling to see if you can give us a scintillating little insight into your interpretation of what you refer to as the Chavez phenomenon; that you believe is "likely to be repeated all over South America
(in the Americas)".

E. Simon - 10/24/2006

Gimme a break, Omar Kaczynski. The fact is that the Islamists - or should I be so bold as to call them "you and yours" - see themselves as in competition with Western civilization, and have since way before they could come up with and fashion "Christian fundamentalist-Zionist" as the pejorative to end all anti-Western pejoratives.

Peter Kovachev - 10/24/2006

Still not getting it, Mr. Dresner. Perhaps the difference between a limited situational analogy, versus a full-blown indepth one is beyond you. Bear in mind that Mr. Phares has only two modern examples of grand imperial schemes to choose from; Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany.

Nevertheless, the point is, indeed, that the press appears to be overly cautious and practically seeks permission whenever covering Islam. Our not-so valiant mainstream media thinks twice after the Muslim world's rampages and blood-curdling threats over the Mohammed cartoons and the Pope's mild remarks on the "religion of peace."

And since you think this is somehow all about you, no, you don't need to ask permission to critique a term, especially not from Mr. Phares who, after all, will not be issuing fatwas against you or trying to hunt you down to saw your head off in front of a camera.

Nancy REYES - 10/23/2006

Thank you. I may or may not agree with you about prognosis, but I did learn something about history, which is unusual in this forum.
As for your commenters: They ignore that Usama sees the return of the Calphate, and when AlQaeda (sunni) funding leads to bombs at Philippine fiestas, Mumbai subways, Thai Temples,and Hindu Bali tourist areas, one indeeds worry that this is more than spreading the faith... my question in all this is who will inherit the revolution, Shia or Sunni?
Usama or Iran?
After all, Usama merely wants to reinstate the caliphate thru local revultionary change of government. Iran might nuke Israel and Paris, and as Spengler points out: Remeber Thermopylae!

E. Simon - 10/23/2006

Mr. Baker's post here is actually more interesting, intelligent and topical than almost any of the others I've seen from him, but if I can be allowed one little piece of nitpicking - I thought it would be funny to note how the following exercise in overly simplistic attempts at too broad and pejorative mischaracterizations not only caught my eye:

"a major recent initiative of the overall anti Islam campaign of the neocon/Christian fundamentalist-Zionist/Jewish alliance.( and Dr Walid Phares?)"

...but could probably be substituted with the simple phrase "Western Civilization." Yep, there's where the anti-Islam conspiracy started, come to think of it.

Jonathan Dresner - 10/23/2006

Yes. Good historical analogies require work and they are never givens. The Nazi-Al-Qaeda analogy is not a good one, for reasons which significantly undercut the argument being made here.

Nobody has to ask permission to use any term, nor do I have to ask permission to critique the use of that term.

Jonathan Dresner - 10/23/2006

Quite right, thanks.

Paul Noonan - 10/23/2006

Ahem, I think the term you are looking for, Prof. Dresner, is anarcho-syndicalists, and they were not (for the most part) the ones engaging in random acts of terror or assasinations of rulers.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries there were people calling themsleves anarchists or anarcho-communists engaging in the acts you refer to. Basically they had a vision of a future society but no real idea of how to get there. In the early 1900's anarcho-syndicalism was a theory developed in the anarchist movement that posited using the labor movement to get to an anarchist society. The IWW in America was (and is) semi-anarchist, there were full-fledged anarchist unions in other countries such as the SAC in Sweden, the FAUD in Weimar Germany (led by the almost saintly Rudolf Rocker) and most importantly of all the CNT in Spain. The idea is to use unions both to win immediate concessions from employers and prepare the working class to transform society.

When the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1936 the CNT (formed in 1910) had its chance and it took it. Industries that had been organized by the CNT were collectivized by the CNT in Catalonia and elsewhere after the owners mostly fled to Franco controlled territory. The CNT ran the industries until the Fascist troops arrived at the gates.

There has been some violence connected with anarcho-syndicalism, but probably no more than with labor unions with more modest goals. While a very few assasinations or terrorist acts may have been committed by anarcho-syndicalists; most such acts done by anarchists have been done by anarchists who did not identify themselves as anarch-syndicalists or participate in an anarcho-syndicalist organization. (In fact, many of the acts you are probably referring to occured before there was such a thing as anarcho-syndicalism).

Peter Kovachev - 10/23/2006

Hravo, Omar. Sometimes, thanks to the sublime Laws of Chance, you actually get things. Well, in your own bizzarre way, at least.

Yes, Mr. Phares does compare the concept of the caliphate to that of the Third Reich. A good comparison, though; the swine who are currently promoting the Caliphate are comparable in many ways to the swine who came up with the modern concept of the Third Reich. Funny, how as an alleged anti-Imperialist, you have such a soft spot for the Muslim version.

Peter Kovachev - 10/23/2006

How can it be "clearly wrong"? This is a point of opinion. The issue is that that the media does not, need not and should not have to ask permission for using a term, be it "caliphate, "Third Reich," "Christianity," "Communism" or such, from interested parties. Had he used any of the other terms, would you have launched a detailed comparison between it and "caliphate"?

N. Friedman - 10/23/2006


I think Dr. Phares' point is that the article he critiqued ignores, for practical purposes, the importance of the Caliphate to Jihadi groups such as al Qa'ida. They, after all, are the groups killing people outside of the Middle East.

I might also note that, historically, the Caliph was, at least in theory if not in actual practice, tied in with the goal to make Islam the universal religion governing the entire world - to the red and the black, as the traditional formulation goes -. And such is a religious version of a categorical imperative.

Now, I tend to suspect that Islamic governance, after the first four early Caliphs, tended to be imperial, even if they governed a theocracy. But, the noted religious formulation had to have had an important impact on leaders, not to mention the educated classes and those living in such an environment, giving such leaders both self-justification for an expansionist foreign policy and a means to received support from the educated classes and the remainder of society.

There is also the important point that the Caliphs did tend to have an agressive foreign policy dedicated to expanding not only their own rule but the expanse governed under Islamic principles.

Which is to say, I think your history is not quite right. And, Professor Phares fairly points out that those who attack the US seem to seek a Caliphate, a leadership which, if operated in a traditional manner, would be expansionist.

You are, of course correct that Shi'a ruled Iran would not have a Caliphate. But, that is another story. And, no doubt, not all Islamist groups demand a Caliph. But some do, including the groups that kill innocent Americans and British and Indians and people in Bali, among others.

Jonathan Dresner - 10/23/2006

Maybe the analogy is limited (I disagree), but since it's clearly wrong, to use it as the basis for any conclusion is fallacious.

Peter Kovachev - 10/23/2006

Simply this: The analogy is limited; our press and historians did not, do not and should not check with German scholars or German organizations about the use of the term "Third Reich." Ditto for "Caliphate." End of comparison.

Jonathan Dresner - 10/23/2006

He's talking about the words appropriate to the historical analogy. What's your point?

Peter Kovachev - 10/23/2006

Mr. Phares' comparative analogy refers to the use of the word "Caliphate," as opposed to "Third Reich" by the media, not to a detailed historical comparison.

N. Friedman - 10/23/2006


I note that, in fact, not all religions have doctrines making them the sole truth. Such is particularly the case in the orient (e.g. with Buddhism and Hinduism). Moreover, Judaism, which is doctrinally related to both Christianity and Islam, does not make such a claim either but, instead, claims to be a light among the nations.

Now, I think you make a good logical point. However, religion is not really so much about logic as, instead, about belief, practice and history. So, logical or not, what you state is factually not the case.

I might also note that, in my view at least, the thing most wrong with religion is its view that it holds the truth - whether or not the exclusive truth which all should share -. One important thing, at least as I see it, that can be learned from the scientists is that our access to the "truth" is rather modest so that we should be more modest in what we claim as truth.

Jonathan Dresner - 10/23/2006

It's not clear to me that the analogy to the Nazis is even close to relevant, unless you want to push the date back to the time of the Beer-Hall Putsch.

A better analogy would be to the rampant assassinations of Syndico-anarchists in the late 19c-early 20c; terroristic, idealistic, naively optimistic in its disjunction between tactics and goals, a small minority splinter of much larger and significant movements. How many people needed to understand the jargon of those fringes? No, you deal with the mainstream movements as movements, and deal with the fringes as fringes, unless you're trying to shift the discussion....

adam richard schrepfer - 10/23/2006

After reading the article Godwin's law came to mind, but I do agree with the Author that the importance of the term Caliphate. It's too bad that for a lot of people the word conjures up images of the Washington Irving type telling stories of Moorish Spain. Oh that people would clue in to the desire of Islam (straight from Muhammed himself) to be the world's only religion.