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Real Anti-Semitism, Unreal Anti-Semitism, and Really Bad Reporting On Islam

| 35 Comments | 1 TrackBack
Gary Farber's home blog is Amygdala.

It's important to know the difference, and it's also important to not, while expressing concern about Islamic extremists or terrorists, either assume they are the majority, nor slip into anti-Islamic bigotry.

I first saw this story on the blog of Zack Ajmal. To quote:

The basic story goes like this: Some Muslims students planned to wear green stoles at graduation at University of California, Irvine. The Arabic writing on the stoles said “God, Increase my knowledge” on one side and “There is no god except God and Muhammad is God’s messenger” on the other.
Some groups, student and other, protested against that because they heard that the “Shahada” would be on the stole. They interpreted “Shahada” as martyrdom instead of the profession of faith. That by itself could be an honest mistake since these people don’t know Arabic and are not conversant with Islam. However, they persisted in calls for protesting or banning the stoles even when told about what would be on the stoles.

[...]

Let’s take a look at so-called better news sources. All of them played this story as a he said, she said one.

Students and administrators at the University of California, Irvine are debating the meaning of green stoles some Muslim students plan to wear this weekend at graduation.

Critics say the stoles are meant to show support for the terrorist group Hamas. But the Muslim Student Union says the stoles are a show of religious solidarity.

Dean of Students Sally Peterson […] says the two sides were waiting for an unbiased third party to translate the Arabic writing on the garment before releasing a statement calling for a “safe and celebrative commencement.”

According to Muslim students the Arabic translates to “There is no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger” and “God, increase my knowledge.” They say the words are known as the “Shahada.”

Some say that the word shahada was Hamas’ call for Muslims to martyr themselves.

[...]

Jewish students and outside groups began to vigorously protest to campus officials about the Hamas armbands - reports of which even surfaced Wednesday night on “The O’Reilly Factor,” a Fox television show.

A very different truth soon surfaced, though. Although no one was wearing armbands, a handful of Muslim students did plan to wear stoles over their gowns, - as do many other graduates who want to commemorate groups they have ties to.

On one side, the stoles say “God, increase my knowledge.”

On the other side, they have the word “shahada” written in Arabic.

This mistake was present in almost all articles. The stoles did not have the word “Shahada,” they had the Shahada i.e. “There is no god ….”

Jewish students and outside groups that have gotten involved in the controversy, such as the American Jewish Congress, say the wearing of a garment with that word implies approval of terrorism and suicide bombings.

“I am offended by that,” said Larry Mahler, president of the UCI chapter of the Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi. “What they are doing is ratifying the suicide bombing that killed innocent people.”

Again confusing Shahada as martyrdom.

Muslim students said the word is intended only as a religious statement. According to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Web site, shahada may be translated as, “There is no God but God; Muhammad is the Messenger of God.”

Shouldn’t the CIA website statement have killed this controversy? However, in the article, the reporter never authoritatively states any facts. Wasn’t it easy to ask the Muslim students to show the reporter a stole with the Arabic writing? Now, the reporter could not obviously be expected to know any language other than English because that would require surrendering his US citizenship. But he could have asked someone else, may be some scholar of Arabic, to translate that writing. May be his story might have more legs then?

And it is not a matter of one or two reporters. The LA Times was guilty of it as well.

[...]

Even after the graduation ceremony, the LA Times was saying that the words on the stole said “Shahada.” I wonder what happened to that translator that UC Irvine asked to check the writing on the stole.

Some Jewish students said that the stoles showed support for terrorism because the Arabic word on them, “shahada”, could be interpreted to show support for suicide attacks and the militant group Hamas.

The final story in LA Times on June 22 did not have any clue what was written on the stoles.

The idea that if a reporter just quotes both sides, she is being objective is completely nuts. There are lots of facts that can be easily checked. A reporter should check his facts and write based on them. The “he said, she said” method signifies a gossip column, not an objective news report.

And finally, our laugh of the day comes from Jewsweek;.

According to a letter sent by MSU board member Jazakhallah Kair [bolding mine – ZA] to all graduating Muslims, the word shehada (martyrdom) will be printed on one side of the arm band and a verse in Arabic on the other. Shehada is the term regularly used by Hamas terrorists in Gaza to describe suicide bombings in Israel.

These guys obviously have no clue. But hey, if they don’t know what shahada is, how can we expect them to know about Jazakallah Khair. Jazakallah Khair means “May God grant you good” or “May God reward you for the good.” It is quite obviously the salutation at the end of the Muslim Students Union email before the name of the person, which the Jewsweek columnist confused with the person’s name.

Zack is absolutely right. This is pathetic reporting, and ignorance is no excuse. Imagine the lambasting if such ignorance were displayed of, say, the Niocene Creed, or the She'ma.

In the comments, we see an "apology" form the ADL that is also pathetic. Offensive in itself, I'd say, which is extremely sad to see coming from an organization with the ADL's mission.

The Anti-Defamation League is respectful of the Shahada, the Muslim Declaration of Faith, which is expressed by millions of Muslims around the world.

ADL's statement referring to the Shahada addressed our concerns about the abuse of this religious expression by radical Islamic groups and individuals in connection with suicide bombings and other forms of terrorism. At UC-Irvine some members of the Muslim Student Union engage in this abuse by wearing the Shahada on armbands at the same time that they rationalize terrorism and express support for the terrorist groups, Hezbollah and Hamas.

It was never our intent to offend anyone and we apologize to those who took offense.
And on precisely the same logic, any Jew who wears a Star of David, is engaging in "abuse" by wearing the Star of David, per se, because many Jews who say that Yitzhak Rabin should have been killed, or that Palestinians are all murderers, also wear the Star of David. And Christians who say something murderous are engaging in the same "abuse" when they wear a cross. The cross is "closely associated" with the Crusades and Inquisition, you know.

Give me a break.

Compare it to the main story this "clarification" is attached to:

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) is deeply troubled that members of the University of California, Irvine Muslim Students Union have chosen to wear a green graduation stole bearing the Shahada, a declaration of faith that has been closely identified with Palestinian terrorists. "We are troubled that members of the Muslim Students Union have chosen to display symbolism that is closely identified with Palestinian terrorist groups and that can be especially offensive to Jewish students," said Kevin O'Grady, ADL Orange County Associate Director. "This is part of an ongoing pattern of vicious anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incidents on the UC-Irvine campus, many perpetuated by the Muslim Students Union.

[...]

Green is the color of Hamas, and its activists and prospective suicide bombers wear the Shahada, a declaration of faith, on green armbands and headbands. The Shahada has come to represent, in radical Muslim circles, support for martyrdom and terrorist groups.

Green is the color of Arab countries. This is no different from saying that anyone who wears pale blue and white obviously is for the genocide of Palestinians, just as is saying the She'ma and wearing a Star of David. The wearing of symbols held by the totality of a religion does not, of course, in any sane person's mind, mean that the wearer is displaying them because of the views of a murderous and horrific minority, no matter that, you know, they wear those symbols, too.

Read The Rest Scale: 4 out of 5; Zack has a lot more detail. And before any strangers ask, please don't tell me I'm un-aware of anti-Semitism at UC, environs, or elsewhere.

Zack also has some good points here:

I was just minding my own business and making plans to go home to Jersey for the long weekend when I heard Pakistanis were under suspicion.
The US Department of Homeland Security has alerted six major airports in the United States to carefully monitor all travellers of Pakistani origin, including US citizens.
How exactly can one find out whether a US citizen is of Pakistani descent? Can you differentiate a Pakistani from an Indian, Iranian, or Afghan? I canít and I am a Pakistani myself.

[...]

One thing I donít understand is why the memo even needs to specifically mention Pakistani descent when what it seems to be on the lookout for is people coming from Pakistan with terrorist training. Is there any specific information on Pakistani terrorists, as distinct from non-Pakistanis trained in Pakistan, that this memo is based on?

Ah, we don't care about all those other Islamic terrorists. Besides, sending out a memo saying "be on the look out for terrorists" would lack helpful specificity.

In more depressing news from a key part of the Islamic world, David Remnick comes back from Egypt and isn't chipper.

1 TrackBack

Tracked: July 13, 2004 4:27 PM
major in jihad? from evolution
Excerpt: A while ago I wrote about the use of green bands used by Muslim students at UC-Irvine. A lot of news agencies and bloggers, including me, wrote about it breathlessly as nothing less than university-sanctioned jihad. The always-reasonable Winds of C...

35 Comments

I agree that there is a lot of bigotry going on and it is indeed a valuable exercise to try to identify what is and what is not racism. However, I don't think this article is accurate in its depiction of the controversy at UC Irvine. First, just a few weeks before it was publicized that the Muslim Student Union would be wearing the stoles with the shahada on it, they sponsored their annual week long event affectionately named "Anti-Zionism Week" . Tensions were high as the Jewish students were offended by the line of anti-semitic speakers the MSU sponsored at their events. Also, MSU's use of the stoles were not a declaration of solidarity with fellow Muslims, but with the Palestinian cause, the central component of Anti-Zionism week. With this as a backdrop, the article you refer to as a "scholar of Arabic" says so himself, albeit not in the body of his text but as a response to a correction by one of his readers:
"A reader wrote in to suggest that the AJC protesters confused shahadah, or "witness to faith" with shahiid or martyr. The former is an abstract noun, the latter is a person. The former is a recitation. The latter is a person killed for his or her faith. "Martyrs" or shuhada' (the plural) have in Islamic tradition most often been non-violent. The use of the term "martyr" for a suicide bomber is a very recent innovation by Islamist radicals."
Even though this is a "recent innovation" it is precisely that innovation that the MSU were evoking when they used the shahada as a statement of solidarity with the Palestinian cause. Anyone with 2 minutues can look up a literal translation of the shahada, but whether or not the meaning of the shahada has taken on a new meaning over the last 20 years is the real crux of the matter. To relate the recitation of nicene creed or the wearing of the cross today to the Crusades or Inquisition is ridiculous precisely because the Crusades and Inquisition happened so long ago. And thats the point. That the shahada is used today as a rallying cry for martyrdom by radicals, and that the MSU club used the shahada as a symbol of solidarity with the very radicals who use the shahada in murderous terms (coupled with the sponsoring of the anti-Zionism activities of the MSU), is why its use in the graduation was seen as an offense by the Jewish students. When the MSU got unwanted attention for their graduation plan, they conveniently hid behind the historical translation of the shahada and then used the outcries against their use of the shahada to redirect the moral condemnation back at Jews and others for being bigots against legitimate Islam. You are right to want to separate the anti-semites, unreal anti-semites and really bad reporting on islam, but I think the first step in this endeavor is not to confuse literal translation to literal meaning. The radicals are radical precisely because they have radicalized the meaning of their religion. The goal is to know when someone is using Islam for radical purposes or using it for its legitimate causes. Protecting those who do the former, by equating them to those who practice the latter only prevents us from gaining clarity. But then your Arab scholar said it well when he comments on those who translate Islam through the lens of the last 20 years:
If you do, it leads you to look like a total idiot and frankly, a fascist.
And there inlies the tactic of the radical and the method they use to dupe very smart (albeit quite pompous) intellectuals like you into protecting them.

To relate the recitation of nicene creed or the wearing of the cross today to the Crusades or Inquisition is ridiculous precisely because the Crusades and Inquisition happened so long ago. And thats the point. That the shahada is used today as a rallying cry for martyrdom by radicals, and that the MSU club used the shahada as a symbol of solidarity with the very radicals who use the shahada in murderous terms (coupled with the sponsoring of the anti-Zionism activities of the MSU), is why its use in the graduation was seen as an offense by the Jewish students.

OK, if we're going to play these semantic, high school debating team games, then forget Gary's Crusades analogy and replace it with, say, the World Church of the Creator? That temporally relevant enough for you?

The shahada may be used as a rallying cry by jihadists, but you speak as if they somehow have sole ownership of it. That is simply asinine, and shows your abject ignorance of Islam.

Bill Hebert:

The shahada may be used as a rallying cry by jihadists, but you speak as if they somehow have sole ownership of it. That is simply asinine, and shows your abject ignorance of Islam.

I completely agree with you: violent radicals do not have sole ownership of the shahada. But insofar as more moderate forces in the Muslim world believe that its use as "a rallying cry for martyrom" is a profanation, there is a moral imperative to reclaim it.

Non-Muslims may be caught up in a civil war within Islam but the principle responsibility and the principle power for quelling this civil war lie with Muslims themselves.

Now, the reporter could not obviously be expected to know any language other than English because that would require surrendering his US citizenship.
Erm, could you clarify what this sentence is supposed to mean? I don't understand.

Oops, you didn't write that, you were quoting Zack. Sorry.

Guess what: the MSU, like most Muslims, supports Hamas.

"...the article you refer to as a 'scholar of Arabic'...."

Well, you know, I didn't. That is, I see you don't know, but I don't know why. Was some part of "I first saw this story on the blog of Zack Ajmal. To quote" (with link) unclear? Was blockquoting somehow unclear? (This is about the eighth time I've now experienced someone making a WoC comment who has been, um, confused on reading a quote, and responded as if I wrote the quoted article; I don't get it.)

"Tensions were high as the Jewish students were offended by the line of anti-semitic speakers the MSU sponsored at their events."

Was some part of "And before any strangers ask, please don't tell me I'm un-aware of anti-Semitism at UC, environs, or elsewhere" unclear? I trust you read the linked posts, of course.

"Anyone with 2 minutues can look up a literal translation of the shahada, but whether or not the meaning of the shahada has taken on a new meaning over the last 20 years is the real crux of the matter."

Well, if you want to declare that henceforth Muslims are to be disallowed from reciting the basic tenet of their faith, a tenet I again point out is as essential to the Muslim faith as the She'ma is to Judaism, you're pretty much saying that Islam needs to give up and disband, because the religion, and its tenets of faith, are being misused. I don't think this is a useful approach.

"That the shahada is used today as a rallying cry for martyrdom by radicals...."

Indeed. Muslim terrorists, or just radicals, use core Islamic language, as well as being terrorists, or radicals. This is not a revelation. So do the millions of peaceful Muslims. My entire point was that people need to distinguish the two.

"And there inlies the tactic of the radical and the method they use to dupe very smart (albeit quite pompous) intellectuals like you into protecting them."

Yes, well, us pompous dupes have to keep busy somehow. How I'm "protecting" radicals by having posted hundreds of posts on anti-Semitism and Islamic fascism, I'm a tad unsure, however.

dr.dna writes: "Erm, could you clarify what this sentence is supposed to mean?"

Again making clear I didn't write it, I will clarify that it was sarcasm. It was a "joke." Americans have one of the highest percentages of speaking only one language in the world?

colt writes: "Guess what: the MSU, like most Muslims, supports Hamas."

Thanks for the newsflash; this is relevant, how? Was either Zack or I defending Hamas, or Islamic terrorism? Is anyone here?

Again, this is analogous to defending the notion that it is offensive for Jews to recite the She'ma because the Jews who plotted to blow up Al Aqsa mosque say it, or that it is legitimate to be upset by Christians who wear crosses because, after all, people who bomb abortion clinics have worn crosses. Hey, those people who bomb clinics wear crosses! Damned objectionable, that cross-wearing!

A bit of trouble with the logic, though.

Gary Farber:

Thanks for the newsflash; this is relevant, how? Was either Zack or I defending Hamas, or Islamic terrorism? Is anyone here?

My point is that this whole conversation is moot. The Jewish organisations that protested the MSU probably picked on the symbol because it is familiar in the public eye (ie, synonymous with the SOBs in Gaza calling for "Islam over everywhere"). I suspect the MSU are aware of the similarity, too.

The groups who protested were wrong in the details, but correct in the grand scheme of things. You titled the thread: "Real Anti-Semitism, Unreal Anti-Semitism, and Really Bad Reporting On Islam." This was an instance of real antisemitism and really bad reporting on Islam.

This was an instance of real antisemitism and really bad reporting on Islam.

That is, the incident at the university - I'm not implying you're antisemitic.

Just for the record, using Juan Cole as a point of reference might not be the best idea.

Remember the fighting in Fallujah? Guess who Cole thinks we have to blame: Thanks, Prime Minister Sharon. Thank you very much.

"...The Jewish organisations that protested the MSU probably picked on the symbol because it is familiar in the public eye...."

Which symbol?

And how is "picking on" something "because it is familiar in the public eye" a justifiable act? Would that be justifiable if, say, people angry with Israel decrying Jews wearing kippas/yarmulkes?

Obviously not. As for Professor Cole, although I did not, again, mention him, I'm quite familiar with him, and I reserve my right to entirely disagree with some things he says, and agree with other things he says, and be somewhere in between on yet others. Since I do. I certainly don't agree with all of his positions, statements, and presumably beliefs, about Israel. I'm not aware, however, of there being any standing to question his knowledge of Arabic or Islam, which is all that is remotely relevant here. Are you?

Are you familiar with the fallacy of poisoning the well?

And how is "picking on" something "because it is familiar in the public eye" a justifiable act? Would that be justifiable if, say, people angry with Israel decrying Jews wearing kippas/yarmulkes?

Hillel wanted to draw attention to the pro-Hamas nature of the MSU, and apparently pointed to the Hamas-style armbands as evidence. Stupid move (and mistake). They are still right about the MSU.

I'm not aware, however, of there being any standing to question his knowledge of Arabic or Islam, which is all that is remotely relevant here. Are you?

No, and it's a fair point. I'm just wary of anything that comes out of Cole's mouth. If my calling him a latent antisemite is poisoning the well, so be it.

My apologies for bringing him up - I misread the post.

"They are still right about the MSU."

Who here are you arguing with on this?

It's important to know the difference, and it's also important to not, while expressing concern about Islamic extremists or terrorists, either assume they are the majority, nor slip into anti-Islamic bigotry.

The majority of Muslims do support Hamas.

Ok, start again.

Green is the color of Arab countries. This is no different from saying that anyone who wears pale blue and white obviously is for the genocide of Palestinians, just as is saying the She'ma and wearing a Star of David.

After a week of overt Jew-hatred, and pro-Hamas and pro-Hezbollah speakers? Assuming the worst of the MSU in that context is entirely forgiveable. I don't think it qualifies as "anti-Islamic bigotry" though.

"The majority of Muslims do support Hamas."

Cite?

In America?

Cite, please?

Also, please define, in this context, "support."

"Assuming the worst of the MSU in that context is entirely forgiveable."

I'm going to try this one last time, and then I'll give up.

It doesn't matter what members of MSU said or did, in this regard. Decrying the Muslim Shahada is decrying all Muslims. Period. Full stop. It doesn't matter what "context" decrying, and condemning, an entire religion, and its essential tenet is in. End of story. What other stories there are -- and I spend a great deal of time on those other storiesk -- is not relevant to this single issue.

"I don't think it qualifies as "anti-Islamic bigotry" though."

What would?

Not necessarily financial, but moral support.

Cite?

No polls exist, to my knowledge, outside of the territories.

The Muslim Council of Britain is the biggest Islamic organisation in the UK, an umbrella group of some 400 British Islamic groups.

Most recently, they're defending Muslim Brotherhood religious leader Dr Al-Qaradawi (who's called for the destruction of infidels, the release of the Blind Sheikh, and child suicide bombings against Israeli civilians) from the "Zionist lobby" "assassination". Link

The MCB believes that the smear campaign against Dr Al-Qaradawi is being orchestrated by the Zionist lobby who are evidently angered by Dr Al-Qaradawi's staunch opposition to Israeli State brutality against the Palestinian people.

Besides the antisemitism in the "Zionist lobby" bit, they seem to be terming calling for suicide bombers "staunch opposition to Israeli State brutality against the Palestinian people".

After an Muslim Association of Britain spokesman said:

ďDo not call them suicide bombers, call them Shuhada (martyrs). They (Israelis) have guns, we have human bombs. We love death, they love life.Ē

(Link)

...a British MP named Louise Ellman denounced them in Parliament as the Jew-haters they are. The MCB rushed to the MAB's defence - another "smear" of "moderate Muslims".

This one is my favourite. MPAC UK, another member of the MCB coalition. When they're not calling for the liberation of al-Aksa Mosque by "freedom fighters", they're listing Jews close to Tony Blair.

Ok, you've convinced me.

BTW, the MPAC-UK is not a member of the MCB as of May 2003. My mistake. They do, however, send joint press releases.

Colt said: "The majority of Muslims do support Hamas."

When asked for a citation, Colt replied:

"No polls exist, to my knowledge, outside of the territories."

You're asserting that "the majority of Muslims do support Hamas" as fact, with no source?

Well.

You entered this thread with the unanchored, non sequitur: "Guess what: the MSU, like most Muslims, supports Hamas."

You followed with, in referring to the incident described in the posts I linked to "was an instance of real antisemitism...."

What you're down to is asserting that the "majority of Muslims" (still unclear if you mean "in the world" or "in North America," or "in Europe," or "in the UK," or "in the US," or what) "support Hamas," meaning "moral support" (undefined -- approving of suicide bombings of children? -- approving of suicide bombings of IDF? -- approving of their, for reasons better or worse, making Palestinians proud? Or what?) based upon... no source.

Okay.

I'm more curious than ever as to what you believe constitutes "anti-Islamic bigotry," though.

That there is rampant anti-Semitism in much of the Islamic world: is this supposed to be news? If not, why are you telling me>

I do believe that we can go too far in decrying religious displays.

What struck me about this article is how little compartive outcry was raised by this act compared to how much outcry would have occured should a Christian or Jewish organization try to make a similar statement of faith.

Imagine a Christian group walking down the isles of a State funded University at a University sponcered event wearing crosses and shawls of penitance. How quickly would the ACLU be filing lawsuits stating that allowing the students to do was the equivalent of endorsing a religion? Imagine if a group like Campus Crusaders for Christ decided to were white hoods with red crosses on them as a show of thier devotion? Would the Muslim student groups on campus see this as a simple statement of faith?

The CCC could easily enough say that wearing a hood with a red cross on it was not intended to refer to any sort of physical struggle. After all, we 'fight not against flesh and blood, but against spiritual powers'. If the CCC was criticized for comparing this spiritual fight to a militant one, they could easily point out that St. Paul had made the same comparison and described the prepared Christian as being like a warrior wearing 'the full armor of God', but Paul was clearly not advocating militancy by this comparison and if it had been by some interpretted in a militant fashion that didn't mean that they had lost the right to such metaphors.

And all those assertions might well be true. It might well be that Campus Crusades for Christs act would be a mere display of religious solidarity and devotion.

But it needn't be. It could very well be a political statement. It could very well be a devisive statement.

What I'm saying is that we shouldn't judge a religious display based on whether it is right to make a religious display. IMO, it is and Americans ought to be free to do so. We shouldn't judge a religious display based on whether someone might take offense at it. The right to (potentially) offend is inherent in the right to free speach. We ought to judge it by what was in the hearts of those that did the display. And I would suggest that in this case, the answer to that question is probably pretty complex. Among the students wearing the green hood there probably were students wearing it as an act of piety. There probably were students just giving in to peer pressure and doing it because thier friends were doing it. And there almost certainly at least some students wearing the hood as a political statement, who do support Hamas, and who were trying to show unity with not only the Palestian people but with the Palestinian people. It would be disengenious to suggest that the group was entirely homogenous, composed only of peaceful pious people or only of militant fanatics bent on establishing the Sharia in the U.S. The truth is almost certainly more complex, and whether we wish to or not the events at the graduation cannot be completely divorsed from the events of the previous week precisely because many if not most of the actors involved in one were actors in the other.

So it is perfectly reasonable to suggest BOTH that the mere wearing of a religious icon does not constitute bigotry (lest we slip into Islamophobia and religious phobia in general), and that some of the people wearing that icon probably are bigots based on thier prior actions (lest we forget that bigots are unfortunately often very religious).

You're asserting that "the majority of Muslims do support Hamas" as fact, with no source?

No, with no polling data. Do you have polling data to the contrary? If you do, great, let's see it. If not, then how can you defend your position - whatever it is? Polling data is not the only means of asserting opinion.

So I did the next best thing and went to a mainstream Muslim group. The MCB is the "moderate" Muslim group in the UK, and they're defending Muslim Brotherhood leaders, pro-Hamas spokesmen and talking about "Zionist lobbies". That all sounds pretty antisemitic to me, and I jumped to a conclusion that an antisemitic Muslim group defending Hamas might even support them.

the "majority of Muslims" (still unclear if you mean "in the world" or "in North America," or "in Europe," or "in the UK," or "in the US," or what)

In the Arab world and in the West. The former is surely beyond dispute, the latter clearly not. Living in the UK, and familiar with the MCB, I figured the situation in the UK would serve as a good benchmark for Europe and North America. Silly me - I thought the statements of the UK's most representative Muslim group would count as a source.

"moral support" (undefined -- approving of suicide bombings of children? -- approving of suicide bombings of IDF? -- approving of their, for reasons better or worse, making Palestinians proud? Or what?)

Suicide bombings in Israel.

I'm more curious than ever as to what you believe constitutes "anti-Islamic bigotry," though.

Confusing "shahid" with "shahada" certainly stretches the definition of "anti-Islamic bigotry". But you want an answer, so I'll give you one: lies about the Muslim faith or people. Mistakes and lies are two different things.

That there is rampant anti-Semitism in much of the Islamic world: is this supposed to be news?

No. But the possibility that Muslim antisemites might support Hamas seems to have escaped you, or why else ask for a cite?

I'm usually too stubborn to do this, but I'm going to have to retract a few comments.

1. You followed with, in referring to the incident described in the posts I linked to "was an instance of real antisemitism...."

It wasn't.

2. "Assuming the worst of the MSU in that context is entirely forgiveable."

Should have been qualified with: "However, after the Hillel, et al, discovered their mistake they should have used a different line of attack."

"If not, then how can you defend your position - whatever it is?"

My position is that I have no idea precisely what percentage of Muslims, in any given location of the Western world, "support Hamas," particularly without a clear definition of what "support" means. I find that an easy position to defend.

"But the possibility that Muslim antisemites might support Hamas seems to have escaped you, or why else ask for a cite?"

That it's reasonable to ask for a citation for a questionable assertion of fact seems to have escaped you. (Fact. You did not, it happens, assert that it was a "possibility" you were putting forth; the difference between an asserted fact, and a "possibility" is more than a tad significant.)

That you believe in this "possibility" makes clear that you have not bothered to read the links I cited in my post, asking that people please read them before engaging in a predictable, ignorant of my writing, response.

I then repeated that statement ("before any strangers ask, please don't tell me I'm un-aware of anti-Semitism at UC, environs, or elsewhere"), and those links, again, in comment #24305. I'm uninterested in repeating the links a third time, and since you are evidently uninterested in reading cited links, which I've specifically asked people to read before going on on this, I don't see much point in putting further effort into putting forth words you will not read. (You can also try going to my blog, and dropping "anti-Semitism" into the search engine on the upper left sidebar; read some posts, then come back and start educating me again on the topic, if you wish to make the effort.)

"I'm usually too stubborn to do this, but I'm going to have to retract a few comments."

That reflects well on you, and I mean that with nothing but sincerity.

My position is that I have no idea precisely what percentage of Muslims, in any given location of the Western world, "support Hamas," particularly without a clear definition of what "support" means. I find that an easy position to defend.

Fair enough.

That it's reasonable to ask for a citation for a questionable assertion of fact seems to have escaped you.

I was surprised at the request for a cite because your pointing out the "rampant antisemitism in the Islamic world" would back up my position that most Muslims support Hamas (to any extent you'd like). Most Muslims live in Islamic countries, and if those countries are rampantly antisemitic (which I'd interpret to mean a majority), I got the impression you were agreeing with me. My mistake.

I'm fairly familiar with the instances of antisemitism at UC, so I didn't check the links you gave. - I did, just now, and I'd read them or different reports of the same incidents.

That reflects well on you, and I mean that with nothing but sincerity.

Thanks. I think we've started out on the wrong foot (mostly me).

I've thought about it, and this is what I was getting at:

Hillel and co were wrong to say that, because the MSU wore the Shahada, they were in favour of Hamas. The possibility, based on their own previous statements and actions, that they are in favour of Hamas doesn't change that at all.

My disagreement comes from the implication (anti-Islamic bigotry, etc) that the error was intentional. You've seen how difficult I found it to climb down on things far less important, and this is a conversation between two people who don't know each other on a message board. For the ADL, Hillel, et al, to admit they made a stupid mistake would be very difficult. Correct, yes, but people are rarely the best they can be.

If everytime a Muslims says or wears the Shahada, they are accused of supporting Hamas, the accuser is foolish. Malicious? Perhaps, but not simply because of their error. I don't buy that saying shahid=Shahada is bigotry, or decrying the Muslim faith. It sounds more like a dumbass mistake.

However, if a pro-Hamas student union's members wear clothing associated with Hamas, people are going to make mistakes, and I admit I'm not too concerned with their feelings being hurt.

Gary, & others:
This all reminds me of some giant circle jerk by males who have no concept of the true nature of sexual congress.
David Cohen, posting at BrosJudd had the following relevant remark/statement:
"Allah formed Arabic to be the perfect vessel for His words to Mohammed, His final prophet. The Quran is, thus, doctrinely unvarying, unambiguous and correct for all time.

For that matter, translations, because they purport to take Allah's message out of Arabic, are necessarily imperfect and unreliable."

http://www.brothersjudd.com/blog/archives/013847.html

OK, if we're going to play these semantic, high school debating team games, then forget Gary's Crusades analogy and replace it with, say, the World Church of the Creator? That temporally relevant enough for you? The shahada may be used as a rallying cry by jihadists, but you speak as if they somehow have sole ownership of it. That is simply asinine, and shows your abject ignorance of Islam.
You just proved my point. Say my group, for arguments sake, the "Christian Anteaters" (a fictional group), were to hold a week long event called, say "Anti-Godless Jews Week", and say there is a separate christian white group in England which broadcasted the nicene creed as a call to arms in which Jews would be systematically targeted by bombings and this was done in the span of about 20 years. Then say after my weeklong event, my Christian Anteaters club wanted to show solidarity with our brothers in England by wearing a sash that has the nicen creed inscripted on it, do you think the act of wearing that nicene creed as these people intend it to mean should be defended? I sure as hell dont think so. But then, my group could always say that the nicene creed is only a statement of faith and it has historically been a peaceful message, well, if you ignore the people over in England who use it to kill Jews and if you ignore the fact that we just held a week long event supporting their cause.

America has unnecessarily offended so many muslims all over the world. Maybe they have a tremendous interest in defending the cause of Israel - so they are now targetting iran and syria too after having captured iraq. For how long will bush and cheney keep on creating enemies in the arab world. Very soon the kerry-edwards team will take over at the white-house. We hope this team will be more positive towards the arabs and they will atleast be more sensitive to muslim sensitivities.www.sufijalalani.com .Om namoh shivai- regards- hiro bachani

hiro bachani:

Maybe they have a tremendous interest in defending the cause of Israel - so they are now targetting iran and syria too after having captured iraq.

Or maybe Iran and Syria (not to mention Saudi Arabia) are terrorist sponsors who are killing Americans.

Why would removing despotic leaders who kill numerous Muslims, not to mention Americans and Jews, "be more sensitive to muslim sensitivities"?

Mike Daley, aside from your delightfully kind characterization of the post and discussion, I remain entirely unclear what point you feel you are making. Traditional Islam has it that the Koran was dictated by God to Mohammed, yes. So?

Hiro Bachani: I wasn't aware that Bashir Assad's regime was particularly Islamist. But if our goal is to offend Muslims, my suggestion would be that we begin bombing Turkey; it would be so easy given our airbase at Incirlik.

There was a widely reported poll in March that found 47% support for suicide bombings in Israel among UK muslims. 43% were against, and "only" 13% were for further AL Qaeda attacks on the US (Google for ICM Research).

About the ceremony. It is true that recitation of the Shahada is a part of mainstream Islam; but I'm not so sure about wearing stoles with it. In fact I never saw any Muslim wearing them except for all the suicide bombers, decapitators, etc. Maybe this just goes to show my ignorance of Islam, and in fact this is an essential graduation ceremony fashion accessory in the Muslim world; but if it isn't, it seems reasonable to assume that wearing them in this case was intended to show support for violent islamists.

Gary,

Thanks for the thoughtful post. There is most certainly an anti-Islamic bigotry that thrives on half-heard verities and jumps light years to conclusions.

A small correction in one of your comments, though. The US doesn't have a base in Incerlik, outside of Turkey. It's actually a NATO base on which the US has aircraft. In order to enter the base, you need both Turkish and another NATO country's ID. The other (i.e., non-Turkish) forces use the base with point-by-point permission of the Turks.

And, just on more philosphic grounds, I'm not at all sure that picking Turkey as an Islamic target would be very good. Most Arabs consider Turks to be very bad Muslims, if Muslims at all.

Action against the Turks would certainly attract the usual, global anti-US response, but wouldn't do much in terms of stirring most Muslims to see it as "anti-Islamic", IMO.

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