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What They Are Saying: Wake Up, Ms. Rice — and Smell the Spoils of Ramadan
“ ‘We in America know the benevolence that is at the heart of Islam,’ declared Ms. Rice, addressing assembled Muslim dignitaries at the annual Ramadan dinner at the State Department — and provoking an examination of the rhetoric of the most important U.S. official next to the president.
“The legacy of 9/11 has left us with: an open-ended war abroad; the introduction of homeland hyper-insecurity; and the open-ended introduction of Ramadan celebrations all over official Washington, which is worth a question or two on its own, beginning with: ‘Why’? Why has it become the post-9/11 function of the U.S. government to celebrate Ramadan? The buzzword of ‘Muslim outreach’ comes to mind, but, as the Judeo-Christian culture hit by Islamikazes on 9/11, haven’t we got it exactly backward? That is, wouldn’t Muslims better outreach themselves if the Saudi Embassy, for example, celebrated Christmas and Hanukkah?
“Getting back to Ms. Rice’s shindig, Ramadan wouldn’t be Ramadan without Nihad Awad, executive director of the notorious Council on American-Islamic Relations. His invitation alone deserves separate mention — and maybe an investigation into whether security concerns arose over bringing into the State Department someone from a Hamas-linked group boasting five current or former officials arrested, convicted or deported on terrorism-related charges.
“ ‘We in America know the benevolence that is at the heart of Islam,’ Ms. Rice said. Really? Is that what history tells us? Is that what current events tell us? Ms. Rice’s speechifying, which included a personal riff on Ramadan as being a time ‘characterized by sacrifice and abiding faith, by prayer and self-reflection, and by compassion and profound joy,’ makes a wicked contrast to real-live headlines.
“I’m thinking of the Muslim suicide bombing in Hadera, Israel, that killed five, and the Hitlerian promise of Iran’s Shiite president that ‘the stain of disgrace’ — Israel — will be ‘purged from the center of the Islamic world.’ I’m thinking of the week of Muslim rioting in Paris, and the news that a 7/7 London suicide bomber was buried in Pakistan (his exploded remains, anyway) at the shrine of an Islamic saint. In New Delhi, Muslims are suspected of killing 60, while actor Omar Sharif has received Internet death threats, thought to come from Muslims in Italy, for playing St. Peter. And I can’t stop thinking about the three Christian girls who were beheaded in Indonesia en route to their Christian high school. The killers carried off one of the severed heads to a new church, where they left it.
“Then there’s Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper in Denmark that has received bomb threats, become a potential terror target on an Al Qaeda Internet list and drawn official diplomatic protests from 11 Muslim ambassadors for having published 12 cartoons of Muhammad. Depictions of the Islamic prophet may be a no-no under Islamic law, but redoubtable Denmark and its free (non-apologizing) newspaper are not under Islamic law.
“Condoleezza Rice isn’t either. But her soft-soap routine comes across as supplication, not statecraft. The United States should never kowtow to the Islamic diplomatic community by pretending that no doctrinal or institutional links exist between the teachings of Islam and the terrorism that has benighted our days.
“She, they must face facts. An informative place to start would be to challenge these same Ramadan diplomats to denounce, not newspapers that publish funny faces of Muhammad, but anyone who chops a schoolgirl’s head off.”
Calling Mr. Nasser — Oops, Make That Mr. Ahmadinejad
Former U.S. ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk writes in the Los Angeles Times (www.latimes.com) on Nov. 1 that Iran’s bluster isn’t a bluff:
“Last week, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the new president of Iran, declared that ‘Israel must be wiped off the map.’ It was a truly ‘retro’ moment, conjuring up images of Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, who, almost four decades earlier, called on the Arab people to ‘throw Israel into the sea.’
“Now, as then, the international community gasped at the lack of civility but could not imagine that the leader who uttered these words was serious. Iran’s diplomats were quick to explain it away; even Ahmadinejad ultimately sought to tone down his words with less inflammatory rhetoric.
“Does Israel really need to fear the populist ranting of an Iranian hothead president, who seems only to be using Israel as a whipping boy to stir up support for his already faltering government?
“There is plenty of International Atomic Energy Agency evidence to indicate that Iran is bent on acquiring a nuclear-weapons capability, and that this goal is broadly supported by all of Iran’s political factions. Four years ago, another Iranian leader, the supposedly moderate Hashemi Rafsanjani, provided the strategic rationale for using nuclear weapons. He explained that in a nuclear exchange, Iran could withstand a second strike, whereas ‘the use of a nuclear bomb against Israel will leave nothing on the ground.’
“Now Ahmadinejad has explained Iran’s ideological rationale, justifying his threat to Israel in the context of Islam’s centuries-long struggle against the infidel. He also threatened Arab leaders who might think of signing treaties that recognized Israel, just as during the Oslo process, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme religious leader, issued a fatwa to assassinate Yasser Arafat.
“Some will point out that Iran appears to be at least five years from acquiring nuclear weapons, and that the international community has already mobilized to prevent that from happening. But that argument overlooks Iran’s other weapon against Israel: Its ongoing war by proxy, which it has been waging for more than a decade. Iran’s primary proxies are two terrorist organizations: Hezbollah, which operates out of southern Lebanon, and Palestine Islamic Jihad, which carries out terrorist operations against Israeli civilians. The Iranian intelligence service trains, funds, arms and directs both.
“In the 1990s, Iran was able to use these proxies in its attempt to thwart the Clinton administration’s peacemaking efforts. Their attacks did much to defeat Shimon Peres in the 1996 Israeli elections, which led to the stalling of the peace process. Subsequently, Hezbollah’s success in forcing Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000 helped provide the rationale for the Palestinian intifada, which then destroyed the peace process.
“Once Iran’s proxy war shifted from Lebanon to the West Bank and Gaza, however, Islamic Jihad moved into the vanguard position. Its activities were barely distinguishable from the suicide bombings undertaken by Hamas. Nevertheless, during the intifada, Hamas was on several occasions willing to pause for tactical reasons. On each occasion, the fragile calm would be punctured by an Islamic Jihad attack. In this way, Iran was able to keep the intifada boiling until Palestinians could take it no longer.
“Ahmadinejad’s declaration, therefore, is certainly no aberration. It was just one of those moments when the world could no longer avoid noticing Iran’s decades-long aggression toward the Jewish state.”