AIPAC’s Unhelpful Aversion

 Nothing seemed more objectionable than, hearing the “whoosh” of one hundred-fifty billion dollars of illicit Iranian funds streaming out of their sequestered lock boxes to the coffers of winking Iranian despots. But worse than being reminded of our collective stumbling is being reminded that we in the AIPAC community have yet to have removed the obstacle that caused us to stumble. That object is our aversion to explaining radical/extremist Islam, or Islamism as it is properly referred to, within the context of the globally sophisticated political movement that it is. Not appropriately relegating our opposition to the Iran deal within the context of the global Islamist threat that it is, served only to sanitize Iranian intent and to deescalate the urgency of the inherent risks as contained within the badly flawed deal. 

Islamism needs to be recognized as a sophisticated movement because globally wherever the bloody remnants of its influence are found, it has managed, under the auspices of Western-style tolerance and religious freedom, to have deceptively garbed its nefarious inner workings. Islam is a religion. Islamism on the contrary is a political movement. The core ideology of Islamism is intolerant and is cruelly submissive to the dictates of Sharia law. More Muslims have been killed and enslaved under Islamist doctrine than under all of the “ism’s” combined. Islamism, as a political movement is the number one strategic threat that the non-Islamist (which includes Muslim majority nations) world faces today.

   It has been reported by The Investigative Project on Terrorism that Ahmed Shedeed, president of the Islamic Center of Jersey City attended the state of the Union address (1/12/15) as the guest of Senator Cory Booker.  Shedeed is a known American operative of the Muslim Brotherhood and the treasurer of Egyptian Americans for Democracy and Human Rights (EADHR). The sole purpose of EADHR is to reverse Egyptian president’ Al- Sis’s successful ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood is the mother of all Islamist movements and has been unambiguously designated in both the House and the Senate as a terrorist organization. Saudi Arabia and the UK concur with position of Congress. Numerous other foreign governments do as well.

Accordingly, the symbolic dis-connect embodied in this invitation, comes disappointingly on the heels of the San Bernardino tragedy. The symbolism however is secondary to the more central issue of how Ahmeed Shedeed and the ICJC could possibly have flown in under the radar of Senator Booker undetected? Senator Booker is a friend. In reversing his promises last fall under the extortionate pressure of the Administration, he made a grave mistake in failing to oppose the Iran Deal. Fear getting the best of him, he went the wrong way on Corker-Cardin. But Senator Booker understood his grave mistake and he has been looking for a way to come back into the tent. In that regard he is in fact sponsoring legislation that will dramatically ratchet up the vetting process on the visas of individuals whose travel records create potentially dangerous profiles.

That is important legislation and will when implemented be very helpful in the process of weeding out and preventing potential radical Islamists from entering the country. However Senator Booker’s high profile dalliance with Ahmed Shedeed undermines his positive legislative efforts. Shedeed as an active and visible operative of the Muslim Brotherhood, is maneuvering in unquestionably dubious territory. Senator Booker’s association with Shedeed has the effect of legitimizing The Muslim Brotherhood’s core intent. Shedeed is by himself already working overtime to sanitize his own image.  The essence of radical Islam’s potency is its ability to insidiously penetrate the boundaries of civil society. Once embedded, the radical Islamist agenda, is buried invisibly under the guise of pluralistic moderation. But the moderates that these clever operatives portend to be can never be counted on to vigorously uphold either policies or measurers that will effectively curtail the radical Islamist agenda.

With so much “hair” around the question of Shedeed’s true identity, how is it that Senator Booker, who is working diligently to rectify his blemished reputation might have elected to have publicly flaunted his endorsement of Shedeed?

If I had to guess, the simple answer might be that Senator Booker, outside of Shedeed’s local reputation as an inter-faith healer, was unaware of Shedeed’s extracurricular activities. If Senator Booker was working overtime to redress his past mistake, one might have assumed that AIPAC, in as much as the “data” on Shedeed was pervasive, would have insistently clued Senator Booker in on the poor decision that he was about to make.  Of course the other possibility is that AIPAC, similar to the Administration, views the Muslim Brotherhood in a more benign light. Or if not viewing the Muslim Brotherhood as worthy of more latitude, calculates as it did in the case of the Iran deal, that a frontal assault on the Administration’s position would be injurious to AIPAC’s bi-partisan brand.

Either way, AIPAC’s failure to call Senator Booker out on his indiscretion can be construed as nothing less than an endorsement by AIPAC of the Administration’s feckless approach to isolating the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups which share or endorse the Muslim Brotherhood’s lethal agenda.

In the face of the relentless global surge of Islamist violence, Euro-gang-rapes, and expansionism, (which includes Iranian [Shite-Hezbollah/IRGC] and Wahabbists [Sunni- ISIS, Al Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Boko Haram] there can be no daylight amongst allies who seek to uphold a common defense. David Cameron, Prime Minister of the UK has spoken eloquently on this critical imperative.

Without coming out full bore, with an unambiguously clear ideological condemnation, both domestically and globally, of proponents of Islamism like the Muslim Brotherhood, AIPAC‘s future relevance will have been substantially crimped. That is because the US and Israel face Islamism in common as their number one strategic threat. Together they must be permitted to use whatever means are necessary to abate both the military and the insidious ideological goals of that threat.  Whether in the form of Iranian expansionism, rocket attacks by Hamas or Hezbollah, shootings in San Bernardino or at Fort Hood, Islamism’s anti-humanist ideological umbrella must be irrevocably pierced. Where a vigorous military solution is required, the thoroughness and effectiveness of that military solution will be a function of the depth to which the ideological underpinnings of Islamist ideology are simultaneously addressed.

The cavalcade of items that presently top AIPAC’s agenda, like the 3.1 billion dollars in military aid, and enhanced technological cooperation are important data points but they collectively and overtly must be placed within the context of the common threat against which both nations are engaged. Military hardware is essential but as we observed in Gaza in 2014, unreasonable limits placed on the use of that hardware by bureaucrats who viewed Israeli military objectives within the scope of suppressing a “local insurgency”, curtailed what would otherwise have been a substantially more thorough outcome.  As Hezbollah and Hamas, both with extensive arsenals grow more bold and aggressive (under the umbrella of Iranian expansion), only the irrefutable knowledge by these adversaries of crushing Israeli countermeasures, unfettered by onerous rules of engagement will suffice to deter their future aggression.  

The essence of AIPAC’s future lobbying agenda must, within the context of the common strategic threat, faced both by Israel and the US, help facilitate an understanding that removes those constraints imposed primarily under the weight of outmoded US doctrine that has lagged in adapting to the ominous surge of Islamist activity. That doctrine is also lagging in its recognition of possibilities relative to the new defense needs have been created, by the surge, for Israel’s non-Islamist neighbors.

With the evolution of US doctrine must come a redefinition of the meaning of the term “pro-Israel”. The label “pro-Israel” is no longer useful. When we have members who call themselves “pro-Israel” but they support J-Street and other similar agendas which effectively seek to handcuff Israel defensively, they are undermining Israel’s defensive capability. Or when they fail to rebuff organizations which engage in deceptive human rights charades designed to shoe-horn Israel into to further territorial concessions, they potentially serve to increase Israel’s burden of defense. If they are more concerned with an agenda which holds the fear of offending Islam above the need to protect Muslims, Jews, Christians, Yarhdzis, and Buddhists from the aggressions of an Islamist agenda, then their usefulness, given the urgency of the need is of little value. AIPAC must reclaim its brand by clarifying that if you are unable to take an anti-Islamist position, then you should no longer consider yourself in the “pro-Israel “camp. This clarity would allow AIPAC to clear out the riff-raff and allow for the regeneration of a bi-partisan base that is grounded in the realities of the day.

In order to reclaim it’s once unchallenged mantle, and to become a thought leader, AIPAC must take these essentially transformative steps. To do so AIPAC must end its aversion to treating Islamism as the rancid and lethal ideology that it is. AIPAC must break cleanly from the influence of that constituency who continues to propagate the greatest and most harmful of untruths that seeks to shield Islamism under the inappropriate and most unfitting cloaks of religious tolerance.