The Ostroy Report

The Ostroy Report is a fresh, aggressive voice for Democrats and a watchdog of the GOP/Tea Party. We support President Obama and the Democratic agenda and seek to preserve the Senate majority while taking back the House. But we're also not afraid to criticize the left when necessary.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Wafa Sultan: An Island of Sanity Amid a Sea of Madness


Please take a few minutes to watch this powerful and amazing statement made on Al Jazeera television earlier this year by Wafa Sultan, a Syrian-born Arab-American psychologist from Los Angeles who emigrated with her husband David to the U.S. in 1989. Both are now naturalized citizens.

Following are a few key excerpts:

Wafa Sultan: The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions, or a clash of civilizations. It is a clash between two opposites, between two eras. It is a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century. It is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality. It is a clash between freedom and oppression, between democracy and dictatorship. It is a clash between human rights, on the one hand, and the violation of these rights, on other hand. It is a clash between those who treat women like beasts, and those who treat them like human beings. What we see today is not a clash of civilizations. Civilizations do not clash, but compete.

Host: I understand from your words that what is happening today is a clash between the culture of the West, and the backwardness and ignorance of the Muslims?

Wafa Sultan: Yes, that is what I mean.

Host: Who came up with the concept of a clash of civilizations? Was it not Samuel Huntington? It was not Bin Laden. I would like to discuss this issue, if you don't mind...

Wafa Sultan: The Muslims are the ones who began using this expression. The Muslims are the ones who began the clash of civilizations. The Prophet of Islam said: "I was ordered to fight the people until they believe in Allah and His Messenger." When the Muslims divided the people into Muslims and non-Muslims, and called to fight the others until they believe in what they themselves believe, they started this clash, and began this war. In order to stop this war, they must reexamine their Islamic books and curricula, which are full of calls for takfir and fighting the infidels.

My colleague has said that he never offends other people's beliefs. What civilization on the face of this earth allows him to call other people by names that they did not choose for themselves? Once, he calls them Ahl Al-Dhimma, another time he calls them the "People of the Book," and yet another time he compares them to apes and pigs, or he calls the Christians "those who incur Allah's wrath." Who told you that they are "People of the Book"? They are not the People of the Book, they are people of many books. All the useful scientific books that you have today are theirs, the fruit of their free and creative thinking. What gives you the right to call them "those who incur Allah's wrath," or "those who have gone astray," and then come here and say that your religion commands you to refrain from offending the beliefs of others?

I am not a Christian, a Muslim, or a Jew. I am a secular human being. I do not believe in the supernatural, but I respect others' right to believe in it.

Dr. Ibrahim Al-Khouli: Are you a heretic?

Wafa Sultan: You can say whatever you like. I am a secular human being who does not believe in the supernatural...

Dr. Ibrahim Al-Khouli: If you are a heretic, there is no point in rebuking you, since you have blasphemed against Islam, the Prophet, and the Koran...

Wafa Sultan: These are personal matters that do not concern you.

Wafa Sultan: Brother, you can believe in stones, as long as you don't throw them at me. You are free to worship whoever you want, but other people's beliefs are not your concern, whether they believe that the Messiah is God, son of Mary, or that Satan is God, son of Mary. Let people have their beliefs.

Wafa Sultan: The Jews have come from the tragedy (of the Holocaust), and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror, with their work, not their crying and yelling. Humanity owes most of the discoveries and science of the 19th and 20th centuries to Jewish scientists. 15 million people, scattered throughout the world, united and won their rights through work and knowledge. We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church. We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people. The Muslims have turned three Buddha statues into rubble. We have not seen a single Buddhist burn down a Mosque, kill a Muslim, or burn down an embassy. Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people, and destroying embassies. This path will not yield any results. The Muslims must ask themselves what they can do for humankind, before they demand that humankind respect them.

18 Comments:

  • At 7:14 AM, Anonymous Sean said…

    What a bunch of racist crap!

     
  • At 8:18 AM, Anonymous Cathy said…

    Gee Sean,

    You sure display real intelligent thought.

    Haven't you noticed that they do not live or think like the modern world?

     
  • At 9:10 AM, Blogger THIRD WORLD WAR said…

    SYRIA IS A CIVILIZED MUSLIM COUNTRY IN CONTRAST TO THE BARBARIAN WAHHABI ISLAMIC NATIONS.
    DR WAFA SULTAN IS A GOOD REPRESENTATIVE OF SYRIA. INDIANS LIKE SYRIA. WHY IS ISRAEL AGAINST CIVILIZED SYRIA AND IN FAVOUR OF UNCIVILIZED WAHHABI SAUDI ARABIA KUWAIT ETC.
    (1) The "World War Three" has started.
    "WORLD WAR THREE" has begun. Republican Vice President Dick Cheney declared the restart of the New Cold War in March 2006. Republican Former Speaker of the Congress declared the start of the first phase of the "WORLD WAR THREE" in July 2006.
    (2) "World War Three" now promotes the national interests of United States, India and China. Imperial colonial powers of the yester years- France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Ottoman Turkey, Russia, Spain- are in decline now and they wouldnever again be world powers.
    (3) The post-1945 decolonization process permanently weakened former colonial powers that also suffer from disastrous population decline due to the declining fertility rates of their women. The Declining populations would rule out any imperial pretensions of Russia, France, Germany, Japan, Spain and Italy.
    (4) The 2006 start of the World War Three is in the geopolitical national interest of the United States as presently United States enjoys military preponderance in the world. The 2006 is the ideal time for the start of the World War Three as it would guarantee that the coalition of Allied Powers led by USA, India and Britain is highly likely to win the World War Three. Any delay or postponment of the World War Three would progressively work against the national interests of the United States. Now is the good time for the World War Three.
    (5) The 2006 start of the World War Three is in the national interest of India as well as China. Any delay of the World War Three would make Islamic Nuclear Terrorism formidable. The World War Three should begin now, so that the civilized world may successfully De-Nuke Islamic Atom Bomb and Islamic Nuclear Weapons Delivery Systems.
    (6) The 2006 start of the World War Three is in the national interest of Russia as it would allow Russian Army regain for Russia the glory it lost after the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991.
    (7) The principal goal of the World War Three is to gain control over world's oil and gas reserves so that OPEC Oil Gas Producers are brought under the civilized occupation and control of the Great Power led Petro-Colonial Empires. The purpose of the World War Three is to partition the OPEC Oil Producing Nations into the spheres of influence of leading Six world powers, namely, USA, India, China, Russia, Europe and Japan.
    Diplomat Kalki Gaur
    email: diplomatkalkigaur@yahoo.com
    web Blog: http://360.yahoo.com/diplomacyofcivilizations
    Blog: http://360.yahoo.com/neoconservativemanifesto
    WEBBLOG: http://diplomacyofcivilizations.squarespace.com
    Blog http://www.clearblogs.com/neoconservativeparty
    http://360.yahoo.com/theworldwar3
    http://diplomacyofcivilizations.blogspot.com
    http://empirepaxamericana.blogspot.com

     
  • At 12:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    The Muslims are called primitive, backward, barbaric, oppressive, dictatorial, abusive to humanity, abusive to women; and possessing a Middle Ages mentality. Yet, "the Muslims must ask themselves what they can do for mankind" in order "to stop the war." Exactly how might they quickly evolve to the level of that ability, insight and introspection; and, yes - civilization? How can an intelligent person expect a people so undeveloped to suddenly mature to the "age" of reason? Isn't the burden of a resolution the job of the advanced? The "adults", if you will.

    Can it be that one side of the opposites is primitve and the other side is insane?

     
  • At 2:02 PM, Blogger Howard Davis said…

    Great piece. Keep it up Andy. I am a liberal, but I just cannot understand the "liberal position" when it comes to Israel and terrorism. The International left is so blinded by Muslim propaganda that it is only a matter of time before The Nation begins publishing the "Jews are responsible for 9/11" crap.

    I understand that most liberals like to think of themselves as the "David" in a "David vs Goliath" situation. I do, too. But Israel is not the Goliath. We are talking about a 60 year campaign of constant attack and terrorism from the Arab world. They adopt the same language and rhetoric as the Nazis, and now they have the complete sympathy and support of liberals? A healthy dose of fact might cure that shit up.

    Israel actually lives in the situation that Bush and Cheney fantasize about America being in: a constant threat of terrorism from multiple sources on all borders. It is everyday for them. If you don't see it that way it's because you choose not to.

     
  • At 4:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Howard Davis -- aka Republican Undercover Agent

    What do you expect from people who are frozen in the time frame of the Middle Ages? How do intelligent people deal with "backward" and ancient-thinking people? Kill them all? (They do out-number us). Surely you have a suggestion since you've given this so much thought.

    And, the liberals I know know are strong, intelligent, morally right, progressive, far-seeing and most capable. They do not feel threatened by a huge, stupid force or "Goliahlithic" presence. That's why the Republicans hate us and are jealous of us and always want to "put us down." Of course we have to exclude Lieberman, Dean and most Democrats in Congress, or didn't you know about them?

     
  • At 4:34 PM, Anonymous Larry is Ostroy said…

    AMERICA,
    Bomb the middle east forward to the stone age. Pleeeease....

     
  • At 4:55 PM, Blogger Howard Davis said…

    Mr or Mrs. Anonymous -

    So I am a Republican undercover agent because I think it is okay for Israel to defend itself against terrorism? Funny how you don't even leave your name (is that you Cindy Sheehan?).

    You don't have to be a Republican or a neocon to understand the basic concept of responding. I understand that most of us are jaded because of Bush's mistaken excursion into Iraq. But don't confuse the issues. Just because you hate Bush (as do I) that does not mean Israel has no right to self defense.

    If you are so smart, Mr. Anontymous, then explain to me how Israel can live in peace with its Arab neighbors as long as terrorists are given the political legitimacy they have in Lebanon? Hezbollah has a "no negotiation" policy with Israel. Who do you propose they make peace with? A government that surrenders 1/3 of its country to a terrorist militia? Who. There is no such problem in Egypt, and the peace has lasted for nearly 30 years. The extremists in the Arab world just need to get the fantasy they have of Israel being annihilated out of their heads. If it means they get killed...so be it.

    It seems that the only answer is for Israel to pack up and leave, or do what it is doing now. It is so easy for you to sit anonymously behind a keyboard and criticize Israel for "disproportionate force" or some other PC term. If you lived in the area, and saw the threat firsthand, you might not be so smug.

    Just for the record, I am a Democrat, and have been one as long as I've been able to vote. I did not and do not support Bush. Israel is different than America, and should be treated as such.

     
  • At 4:57 PM, Blogger Howard Davis said…

    Oh, and I don't support Joe Lieberman either.

     
  • At 6:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Howard Davis -- well, that sure tells all anyone would need to know about you. Of course it could be Dean Howard or any other pseudonym you care to choose, so, if you'd give it a thought you'd see Anonymous is just as forthcoming as a name. In fact, you could be "Larry" who likes to use different names.

    But to the point: you think we should kill the Lebonese for allowing the Hezbollah into their government. Hezbollah has only one seat in their Parliament which was granted under duress. What about the terrorists who run our country. Should we all be killed for electing them? Or are they not terrorists? Are terrorists only those who murder certain races, or religions or groups of people? All life is precious except some life, which as Ann Coulter calls it - collateral: Webster's New World Dictionary: "2. of a similar but subordinate nature; secondary." (Lebonese children aren't as valuable as American embryos, says Bush and the Republicans.)

     
  • At 7:05 PM, Anonymous Cathy Is Ostroy said…

    Anonymous 6:34 PM,
    You are an America-hating irrational pig. As for your quote that Hezbollah "has only one seat in their Parliament which was granted under duress." YOU ARE A LIAR, you pig.

    Hezbollah holds 14 seats in the Lebanese Parliament (more than 10% of the total seats). Hezbollah has two ministers in the Lebanese government and a third is endorsed by Hezbollah.

     
  • At 8:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Dear Ostroy Report:
    While Wafa Sultan speaks convincingly about the backwardness of the entire Muslim civilization (she could easily be mistaken for a right-wing zionist), we should not add any credence to her point of view simply because she has Syrian heritage. Anymore than we should give extra credence to Clarence Thomas's anti-affirmative action stances simply because he is Black.

    The rise of radical muslim groups in not monolithic, only Al Qaeda (and George Bush) is trying to dupe the world into believing it so, as Al Qaeda jumps on the bandwagon of every cause, retroactively claiming that Mohammed Atta was a crusader for the liberation of Palestine (and as Rice still implies that Saddam might have ordered 9/11). Fearing irrelevance, Al Qaeda leaders (generally Sunni and given to referring to Shiites as infidel impostors who must be destroyed) are now coopting Nasrallah, whom they previously reviled because he is a dirty Shiite. Hezbollah is not Hamas is not Islamic Jihad is not Al Aksa Brigades is not the Shiite nor Sunni insurgency is not the Somali Islamic Courts movement. Each of these groups has its own agenda and they generally are fighting eachother along ethnic and sectarian lines except when the U.S. or Israel go out of their way to give them an especially horrendous example of Arab suffering to unite around.

    In the mainstream Israeli press there are many of examples of Israeli Jewish writers who are extremely critical of Israel's response to the kidnapping and killing of soldiers by Hamas and then by Hezbollah. One editorial writer for Haaretz, Gideon Levy, called for an immediate ceasefire as soon as the first bombs started to fall on Beirut. Here is his piece from today:

    Days of darkness

    By Gideon Levy

    In war as in war: Israel is sinking into a strident, nationalistic atmosphere and darkness is beginning to cover everything. The brakes we still had are eroding, the insensitivity and blindness that characterized Israeli society in recent years is intensifying. The home front is cut in half: the north suffers and the center is serene. But both have been taken over by tones of jingoism, ruthlessness and vengeance, and the voices of extremism that previously characterized the camp's margins are now expressing its heart. The left has once again lost its way, wrapped in silence or "admitting mistakes." Israel is exposing a unified, nationalistic face.

    The devastation we are sowing in Lebanon doesn't touch anyone here and most of it is not even shown to Israelis. Those who want to know what Tyre looks like now have to turn to foreign channels - the BBC reporter brings chilling images from there, the likes of which won't be seen here. How can one not be shocked by the suffering of the other, at our hands, even when our north suffers? The death we are sowing at the same time, right now in Gaza, with close to 120 dead since the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit, 27 last Wednesday alone, touches us even less. The hospitals in Gaza are full of burned children, but who cares? The darkness of the war in the north covers them, too.

    Since we've grown accustomed to thinking collective punishment a legitimate weapon, it is no wonder no debate has sparked here over the cruel punishment of Lebanon for Hezbollah's actions. If it was okay in Nablus, why not Beirut? The only criticism being heard about this war is over tactics. Everyone is a general now and they are mostly pushing the IDF to deepen its activities. Commentators, ex-generals and politicians compete at raising the stakes with extreme proposals.


    Haim Ramon "doesn't understand" why there is still electricity in Baalbek; Eli Yishai proposes turning south Lebanon into a "sandbox"; Yoav Limor, a Channel 1 military correspondent, proposes an exhibition of Hezbollah corpses and the next day to conduct a parade of prisoners in their underwear, "to strengthen the home front's morale."

    It's not difficult to guess what we would think about an Arab TV station whose commentators would say something like that, but another few casualties or failures by the IDF, and Limor's proposal will be implemented. Is there any better sign of how we have lost our senses and our humanity?

    Chauvinism and an appetite for vengeance are raising their heads. If two weeks ago only lunatics such as Safed Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu spoke about "wiping out every village where a Katyusha is fired," now a senior officer in the IDF speaks that way in Yedioth Aharonoth's main headlines. Lebanese villages may not have been wiped out yet, but we have long since wiped out our own red lines.

    A bereaved father, Haim Avraham, whose son was kidnapped and killed by Hezbollah in October 2000, fires an artillery shell into Lebanon for the reporters. It's vengeance for his son. His image, embracing the decorated artillery shell is one of the most disgraceful images of this war. And it's only the first. A group of young girls also have their picture taken decorating IDF shells with slogans.

    Maariv, which has turned into the Fox News of Israel, fills its pages with chauvinist slogans reminiscent of particularly inferior propaganda machines, such as "Israel is strong" - which is indicative of weakness, actually - while a TV commentator calls for the bombing of a TV station.

    Lebanon, which has never fought Israel and has 40 daily newspapers, 42 colleges and universities and hundreds of different banks, is being destroyed by our planes and cannon and nobody is taking into account the amount of hatred we are sowing. In international public opinion, Israel has been turned into a monster, and that still hasn't been calculated into the debit column of this war. Israel is badly stained, a moral stain that can't be easily and quickly removed. And only we don't want to see it.

    The people want victory, and nobody knows what that is and what its price will be.

    The Zionist left has also been made irrelevant. As in every difficult test in the past - the two intifadas for example - this time too the left has failed just when its voice was so necessary as a counterweight to the stridency of the beating tom-toms of war. Why have a left if at every real test it joins the national chorus?

    Peace Now stands silently, so does Meretz, except for brave Zehava Gal-On. A few days of a war of choice and already Yehoshua Sobol is admitting he was wrong all along. Peace Now is suddenly an "infantile slogan" for him. His colleagues are silent and their silence is no less resounding. Only the extreme left makes its voice heard, but it is a voice nobody listens to.

    Long before this war is decided, it can already be stated that its spiraling cost will include the moral blackout that is surrounding and covering us all, threatening our existence and image no less than Hezbollah's Katyushas.

     
  • At 11:37 AM, Anonymous Brian DeLaite said…

    As long as cutting and pasting other people's work is considered an intellectual discussion. I've pasted one of my favorite writers work below. Credit for the work is hidden in the article.

    --

    On Sunday, John Kerry said of Israel's war against Hezbollah, "If I was president, this wouldn't have happened," adding, "we have to destroy Hezbollah."

    But wait a minute — Hezbollah didn't attack us on 9/11! Wouldn't fighting Hezbollah distract us from the urgent task of finding Osama bin Laden?

    Democrats can't come out and admit that they refuse to fight any war in defense of America, so they utter the "Where's Osama?" incantation to pretend that they'd be doing something. To wit: dedicating the entire resources of the U.S. military to locating Osama bin Laden.

    Thus, in the third presidential debate, Kerry complained about the cost of the war in Iraq, saying the war was "the result of this president taking his eye off of Osama bin Laden."

    After making the capture of Osama bin Laden their sole objective in the war on terrorism, now Democrats expect us to believe they would have been fighting every other Muslim jihadist on the planet like mad — just not one of the main sponsors of Islamic terrorism, Saddam Hussein. But they'd be merciless with every other mass-murdering, Islamic terror-sponsoring lunatic.

    Israel's recent tussle with Hezbollah reminds us how absurd the Democrats' fixation on Osama is. America has been under attack from Muslim extremists for nearly 30 years. Not just al-Qaida and certainly not just Osama bin Laden.

    Here's the highlights reel for anyone still (ann wrote this article) voting for the Democrats:

    — November 1979: Muslim extremists (Iranian variety) seized the U.S. embassy in Iran and held 52 American hostages for 444 days, following Democrat Jimmy Carter's masterful foreign policy granting Islamic fanaticism its first real foothold in the Middle East.

    — 1982: Muslim extremists (mostly Hezbollah) began a nearly decade-long habit of taking Americans and Europeans hostage in Lebanon, killing William Buckley and holding Terry Anderson for 6 1/2 years.

    — April 1983: Muslim extremists (Islamic Jihad or possibly Hezbollah) bombed the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, killing 16 Americans.

    — October 1983: Muslim extremists (Hezbollah) blew up the U.S. Marine barracks at the Beirut airport, killing 241 Marines.

    — December 1983: Muslim extremists (al-Dawa) blew up the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait, killing five and injuring 80.

    — September 1984: Muslim extremists (Hezbollah) exploded a truck bomb at the U.S. Embassy annex in Beirut, killing 24 people, including two U.S. servicemen.

    — December 1984: Muslim extremists (probably Hezbollah) hijacked a Kuwait Airways airplane, landed in Iran and demanded the release of the 17 members of al-Dawa who had been arrested for the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait, killing two Americans before the siege was over.

    — June 14, 1985: Muslim extremists (Hezbollah) hijacked TWA Flight 847 out of Athens, diverting it to Beirut, taking the passengers hostage in return for the release of the Kuwait 17 as well as another 700 prisoners held by Israel. When their demands were not met, the Muslims shot U.S. Navy diver Robert Dean Stethem and dumped his body on the tarmac.

    — October 1985: Muslim extremists (Palestine Liberation Front backed by Libya) seized an Italian cruise ship, the Achille Lauro, killing 69-year-old American Leon Klinghoffer by shooting him and then tossing his body overboard.

    — December 1985: Muslim extremists (backed by Libya) bombed airports in Rome and Vienna, killing 20 people, including five Americans.

    — April 1986: Muslim extremists (backed by Libya) bombed a discotheque frequented by U.S. servicemen in West Berlin, (coulter wrote this article) injuring hundreds and killing two, including a U.S. soldier.

    — December 1988: Muslim extremists (backed by Libya) bombed Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all 259 on board and 11 on the ground.

    (Then came an amazing, historic pause in Muslim extremists' relentless war on America after Ronald Reagan won the Cold War by doing the opposite of everything recommended by Democrats, depriving Islamic terrorists of their Soviet sponsors. This confuses liberals because they don't understand the concept of terror sponsors, whether it's the Soviet Union or Iraq.)

    — February 1993: Muslim extremists (al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, possibly with involvement of friendly rival al-Qaida) set off a bomb in the basement of the World Trade Center, killing six and wounding more than 1,000.

    — Spring 1993: Muslim extremists (al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, the Sudanese Islamic Front and at least one member of Hamas) plot to blow up the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, the U.N. complex, and the FBI's lower Manhattan headquarters.

    — November 1995: Muslim extremists (possibly Iranian "Party of God") explode a car bomb at U.S. military headquarters in Saudi Arabia, killing five U.S. military servicemen.

    — June 1996: Muslim extremists (13 Saudis and a Lebanese member of Hezbollah, probably with involvement of al-Qaida) explode a truck bomb outside the Khobar Towers military complex, killing 19 American servicemen and injuring hundreds.

    — August 1998: Muslim extremists (al-Qaida) explode truck bombs at U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, killing 224 and injuring thousands.

    — October 2000: Muslim extremists (al-Qaida) blow up the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Cole, killing 17 U.S. sailors.

    — Sept. 11, 2001: Muslim extremists (al-Qaida) hijack commercial aircraft and fly planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, killing nearly 3,000 Americans.

    America's war with Islamic fanaticism didn't start on 9/11, but it's going to end with 9/11 — as long as Americans aren't foolish enough ever to put a Democrat in the White House.

     
  • At 2:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    8:44 AM Anon. Thank you so very much for your intelligent and clarifying comments and the article by Gideon Levy. It's such a relief to hear the voice of reason, clarity and compassion after days of inanities in print and on TV. Please keep sharing wisdom.

     
  • At 5:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    HERE'S WHAT A RABBI HAD TO SAY ABOUT YOUR WITCH WAFA, ANDY. JUST ANOTHER NUTTER, WHICH IS WHAT I THINK YOU MIGHT BE, WRT TO YOUR INDEFENSIBLE SUPPORT OF THE ISRAELI BRUTALITY. I THINK STEIN WOULD AGREE WITH GIDEON LEVY'S WORDS.


    http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-op-stein25jun25,0,3931395.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions
    From the Los Angeles Times
    Islam's Ann Coulter
    The seductive and blinkered belligerence of Wafa Sultan.
    By Stephen Julius Stein
    STEPHEN JULIUS STEIN is a rabbi at Wilshire Boulevard Temple, where he also directs inter-religious programming.


    June 25, 2006

    RECENTLY I WAS one of about 100 L.A. Jews invited to attend a fundraiser for a Jewish organization that seeks to counteract anti-Israel disinformation and propaganda. The guest speaker was Wafa Sultan, the Syrian American woman who in February gave a now legendary interview on Al Jazeera television, during which she said that "the Muslims are the ones who began the clash of civilizations" and "I don't believe you can reform Islam."

    The audience warmly greeted Sultan, a psychiatrist who immigrated to Southern California in 1989. One of Time magazine's 100 "pioneers and heroes," she said she was neither a Christian, Muslim nor Jew but a secular human being. "I have 1.3 billion patients," she quipped early in her remarks, referring to the global Muslim population. Sultan went on to condemn inhumane acts committed in God's name, to denounce Islamic martyrdom and to decry terror as a tool to subjugate communities. Those statements all made perfect sense.

    Then this provocative voice said something odd: "Only Arab Muslims can read the Koran properly because you have to speak Arabic to know what it means — you cannot translate it." Any translation is, by definition, interpretation, and Arabic is no more difficult to accurately translate than Hebrew. In fact, the Hebrew of the Bible poses many more formidable translation problems than Arabic. Are Christians and Jews who cannot read it ill-equipped to live by its meanings?

    Another surprising remark soon followed: "All Muslim women — even American ones, though they won't admit it — are living in a state of domination." Do they include my friend Nagwa Eletreby, a Boeing engineer and expert on cockpit controls, who did not seek her husband's permission to help me dress the Torah scroll? Or how about my friend Azima Abdel-Aziz, a New York University graduate who traveled to Israel with 15 Jews and 14 other Muslims — and left her husband at home?

    There is no subjugation in the homes of these and other American Muslim women I know. They are equal, fully contributing members of their families.

    The more Sultan talked, the more evident it became that progress in the Muslim world was not her interest. Even more troubling, it was not what the Jewish audience wanted to hear about. Applause, even cheers, interrupted her calumnies.

    Judea Pearl, an attendee and father of murdered journalist Daniel Pearl, was one of the few voices of restraint and nuance heard that afternoon. In response to Sultan's assertion that the Koran contains only verses of evil and domination, Pearl said he understood the book also included "verses of peace" that proponents of Islam uphold as the religion's true intent. The Koran's verses on war and brutality, Pearl contended, were "cultural baggage," as are similar verses in the Torah. Unfortunately, his words were drowned out by the cheers for Sultan's full-court press against Islam and Muslims.

    My disappointment in and disagreement with Sultan turned into dismay. She never alluded to any healthy, peaceful Islamic alternative. Why, for example, didn't this Southern California resident mention the groundbreaking efforts of the Islamic Center of Southern California, the leading exemplar of progressive Muslim American life in the United States? Why didn't she bring up the New Horizon School-Pasadena that the center started, the first Muslim American school honored by the U.S. Department of Education as a National Blue Ribbon School?

    You might wonder why a rabbi is so uneasy about Sultan's assault on Muslims and Islam. Here's why: Contrary to practically every mosque in the U.S., the Islamic Center has a regulation in its charter barring funding from foreign countries. As a result, it is an American institution dedicated to propagating an American Muslim identity. Maher and Hassan Hathout are the philosophical and spiritual pillars of the mosque. They also have been partners of Wilshire Boulevard Temple rabbis and others throughout L.A. for decades.

    The Hathouts' mosque has twice endorsed pilgrimages to Israel and the Palestinian territories, its members traveling with fellow L.A.-area Jews and Christians. It invites Jews to pray with them, to make music with them, to celebrate Ramadan with them. This is the mosque whose day school teaches students about Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah alongside lessons in Arabic and the Koran. Recently, the Islamic Center joined the food pantry collective of Hope-Net, helping feed the hungry and homeless.

    Make no mistake: I am not an Islamic apologist. But Sultan's over-the-top, indefensible remarks at the fundraiser, along with her failure to mention the important, continuing efforts of the Islamic Center, insulted all Muslims and Jews in L.A. and throughout the nation who are trying to bridge the cultural gap between the two groups. And that's one reason why I eventually walked out of the event.

    Here's another: As I experienced the fervor sparked by Sultan's anti-Muslim tirade and stoked by a roomful of apparently unsuspecting Jews, I thought: What if down the street there was a roomful of Muslims listening to a self-loathing Jew, cheering her on as she spoke of the evils inherent in the Torah, in which it is commanded that a child must be stoned to death if he insults his parents, in which Israelites are ordered by God to conquer cities and, in so doing, to kill all women and children — and this imagined Jew completely ignored all of what Judaism teaches afterward?

    In a world far too often dominated by politicians imbued with religious fundamentalism of all flavors — Jewish, Christian, Muslim — we need the thoughtfulness, self-awareness and subtlety that comes from progressive religious expression. We have that in Judaism, in Christianity — and in Islam, right in our backyard. If only Sultan, applauded in many quarters yet miscast as a voice of reason and reform in Islam, were paying attention.

     
  • At 5:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thank you Anonymous 5:43AM

    Thank you for sharing Rabbi Stein's comments. They are comforting and bring hope as well as enlightenment.

     
  • At 1:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "BOMB THE MID-EAST TO THE NEW AGE"

    as suggested somewhere here. Is that not what happened to Japan and others?

    Of course, many innocents died in the process. There are not that many innocents in the arab and muslim world. Hatred prevails and till we get to the roots of that hatred, PEACE will not be possible.

    Japan and Germany have attained it and they prosper, apart from a few migrants who would disrupt the process.

     
  • At 2:11 AM, Blogger Amirk said…

    Here is the other side of Wafa Sultan discussion on al Jazeera -- part that was missing in mermi tv and hundreds of youtube videos of that discussion

    Part1
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRLWFKB30yk

    Part2
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4tKZv4THCA

    Part 3
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=us1dtTFHYjk&


    Part4
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KpRPnwYHc9w

     

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