Pearl: Put the mosque elsewhere

Slain reporter's dad says Ground Zero mosque would prolong "illusion."

August 27, 2010 05:07
3 minute read.

Pearl 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

In a Jerusalem Post op-ed article, Judea Pearl, father of the Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel murdered by Islamic terrorists in Pakistan eight years ago, says that permitting the Ground Zero mosque project would prolong “the illusion” that the American Muslim leadership can achieve public acceptance without confronting its role in allowing “victimhood, anger and entitlement” to spawn acts of terrorism.

In the article, which will appear in Sunday’s Post, Pearl notes that, in public, American Muslim spokespeople praise the US “as the best country for Muslims to live and practice their faith. But in sermons, speeches, rallies, classrooms, conferences and books sold at those conferences, the narrative is often different.”

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There,” he writes, “America’s foreign policy is one long chain of ‘crimes’ against humanity, especially against Muslims. Affirmation of these conspiratorial theories sends mixed messages to young Muslims, engendering anger and helplessness: America and Israel are the first to be blamed for Muslim failings, sufferings and violence.”

Adds Pearl: “Terrorist acts, whenever condemned, are immediately ‘contextually explicated’ (to quote Tariq Ramadan); spiritual legitimizers of suicide bombings (e.g, Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi of Qatar) are revered beyond criticism; Hamas and Hizbullah are permanently shielded from the label of ‘terrorist.’ Overall, the message that emerges from this discourse is unambiguous: When Muslim grievance is at question, America is the culprit and violence is justified, if not obligatory.”

The Tel Aviv-born Pearl, a professor at UCLA, goes on to say that “True, we have not helped Muslims in the confidence-building process. Treating homegrown terror acts as isolated incidents of psychological disturbances while denying their ideological roots has given American Muslim leaders the illusion that they can achieve public acceptance without engaging in serious introspection and responsibility sharing for allowing victimhood, anger and entitlement to spawn such acts. The construction of the Ground Zero Mosque would further prolong this illusion.”

Noting that 71 percent of Americans object to the project, Pearl writes that “I cannot agree with the theory that such broad resistance represents Islamophobic sentiments, nor that it is a product of a ‘right wing’ smear campaign against one imam or another. Americans are no bigots, nor gullible.”

Rather, he says, most Americans “view the the 9/11 assault as a product of an anti-American ideology that, for good and bad reasons, has found a fertile breeding ground in the hearts and minds of many Muslim youngsters who see their Muslim identity inextricably tied with this anti- American ideology... Public objection to the mosque thus represents a vote of no confidence in mainstream American Muslim leadership which, on the one hand, refuses to acknowledge the alarming dimension that anti-Americanism has taken in their community and, paradoxically, blames America for its creation.”

Pearl says Muslims have the right to build the planned Islamic center and the mosque, but that they should either “put it somewhere else, or replace it with a community- managed all-faiths center in honor of the 9/11 victims. Fellow Muslim Americans will benefit more from co-ownership of consensual projects than sole ownership of confrontational projects.”

Earlier this week, Pearl confirmed that Feisel Abdul Rauf, the Sufi imam behind the project, delivered a moving, empathetic speech at a memorial ceremony for Daniel at a Manhattan synagogue in 2003, in which Rauf quoted from the shema. Pearl told JTA that he had been “touched” by Rauf’s speech, but had been disappointed since that his son’s murder had not proved a turning point in attitudes to terrorism.

The American Muslim leadership “has had nine years to build up trust by taking proactive steps against the spread of anti- American terror-breeding ideologies, here and abroad,” he writes in the op-ed. “Evidently, however, a sizable segment of the American public is not convinced that this leadership is doing an effective job of confidence- building.”

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