Candidly Speaking: 'Islamophobia'

It was shameful and unprecedented for the World Jewish Congress to participate at an interfaith conference at which outsiders like the Saudis were able to veto who represents the Jewish people.

Isi Leibler NEW 88 (photo credit: )
Isi Leibler NEW 88
(photo credit: )
The interfaith conference of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia which took place under the auspices of the United Nations received wide acclamation. President Shimon Peres went to the lengths of telling the Assembly that he wished that "King Abdullah's voice would become the prevailing voice of the whole region, of all people". The World Jewish Congress published a full page advertisement in The New York Times praising the monarch who leads one of the most oppressive and anti-Semitic regimes in the world. To their credit, the Saudis were upfront about Israel, stressing that Peres and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni were present by virtue of their UN membership and not by Saudi invitation, and that the King would not engage in any contact with them. And, despite his somewhat servile remarks in praise of Abdullah, Peres was strongly criticized by the Saudi foreign minister. As a reward for groveling to King Abdullah, the World Jewish Congress was invited to the conference after the Saudis had the chutzpa to brazenly inform them that major Jewish organizations - including the American Jewish Committee, the Presidents Conference, and the Anti Defamation League - were "too political" and would thus be excluded! It was shameful and unprecedented for a reputable Jewish organization to participate at an interfaith conference at which outsiders like the Saudis were able to veto who represents the Jewish people. It was even more outrageous that the Jews who did participate in the event failed to challenge the behavior of the Saudi regime or even relate to the vicious anti-Semitism which dominates Saudi society. After all, it was Wahhabi preachers from Saudi Arabia who initially provided the inspiration for al Qaeda, until the latter turned on the Saudi leaders, accusing them of corruption and collusion with the US and Western world. To this day, Saudi money is utilized to promote global jihad. THIS INTERFAITH activity must also be viewed in the context of the global campaign launched by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the umbrella body representing 57 Moslem states, to criminalize any criticism of Islam - including Shar'ia law. The members of the OIC include the most tyrannical and repressive states in the world. Many deny human rights to their own citizens and brutally persecute non-Islamic religious minorities, denying them freedom of worship. Even purportedly moderate Islamic countries such as Egypt endorse domestic campaigns inciting their citizens to hatred of non-Islamic minorities, concentrating in particular on promoting the crudest forms of anti-Semitism. Some of these countries, like Saudi Arabia, also seek to globally extend the application of Shar'ia law, which incorporates barbaric practices such as stoning adulterous women to death, decapitating blasphemers, homosexuals and apostates, and cutting off limbs as punishment for petty theft. The OIC bitterly complains that Islamophobia in Western countries is rampant and escalating. Yet taking into account that global terrorism today emanates overwhelmingly from Islamic fundamentalists - including those born and bred in the societies hosting them - it is surely a tribute to Western communities that they continue to peacefully co-exist with their Moslem minorities. Without detracting from the obligation to combat hatred against Moslems and all minorities, the reality is that despite protestations to the contrary from liberals, Moslems residing in Europe face far less institutionalized discrimination than what other migrant groups, including Jews, underwent in the past. Moreover, they are not targeted by terrorists - in contrast to European Jews, their mosques and schools do not require round the clock security guards. It is also astonishing that some Moslem organizations have the impudence to demand an end to security profiling, though over 95 percent of global terrorist acts originate from radical jihadists. Profiling is undertaken exclusively as a pragmatic means to maximize security and is not related to racist bias. If red-headed individuals committed the bulk of terrorist acts it would surely not be unreasonable to profile redheads for security screening. It is even more bizarre that demands to ban profiling are frequently supported by liberals, including paradoxically, Jews who themselves represent the prime targets for acts of terror. The OIC campaign has made considerable inroads, with its secretary general recently boasting that "in confronting the Danish cartoons [caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad] and the Dutch film FITNA, we sent a clear message to the West regarding the red lines that should not be breached." In other words, violence, murder and blackmail have succeeded in forcing impotent Western governments to appease radical Islamist forces, even at the price of compromising hitherto sacrosanct commitments to freedom of expression. Resolutions calling for criminal prosecution of anyone criticizing Islam or Islamic practices have already been formally adopted by the inappropriately named UN Human Rights Council and subsequently by the UN General Assembly. The discredited UN Human Rights Council, which concentrates the bulk of its efforts on delegitimizing Israel, has now formally endorsed a resolution prohibiting any discussion during its proceedings that could be deemed to be critical of Islam, Moslem practice or Shar'ia law. Yet this same body has shamelessly avoided condemning human rights violations including the genocidal killings by the barbaric Islamic Sudanese government at Darfur. THE CURRENT priority for the Human Rights Council is to ensure that the forthcoming Durban II conference is transformed into a launching pad for resurrecting the previous Durban anti-Semitic hate fest demonizing Israel. The structure of the Durban 2 Preparatory Committee says it all. The chairman is a former Libyan ambassador who described Israel as "the most tyrannical regime in the world," and he is backed by an Iranian deputy chairman. The Committee held one of its most important meetings on Yom Kippur to ensure that Israelis and Jews would not participate. In its recently released Final Document for Discussions, undisguised bias is reflected in the language employed. It refers to "Israeli apartheid," the "racist Israeli Law of Return", Palestinians as "victims of Israeli racism," and so on. This abominable body is simultaneously proclaiming that "the most serious manifestations of the defamation of religion are the increase in Islamophobia and the worsening situation of Moslem minorities throughout the world." It is incomprehensible why it took until now for Israel to recognize that Durban 2 is controlled by our most venomous enemies and is intended to serve as a global platform for promoting anti-Semitism and Israel bashing. Had we from the outset supported the Canadian decision to boycott this bogus conference, the Americans and many other democratic nations might also have resolved to distance themselves from these hate mongers. To offset these challenges, Israel must seek to create alliances with democratic nations and NGOs. Likewise, where possible, Diaspora Jewish organizations should seek out moderate Moslem groups with whom to promote genuine interfaith relationships. But such activity must be transparent. Those who accept as a precondition to dialogue the exclusion of Israeli participants or restrictions on discussion relating to Israel are harming the Jewish cause, providing respectability to extremists and marginalizing moderate Moslems. Without diminishing our ongoing efforts to outlaw hate crimes or incitement against all minorities, including Moslems, we must resist OIC attempts to pressure Western countries into criminalizing criticism of religion which, aside from being an unprecedented restriction of freedom of expression, would also deny us the opportunity of exposing Islamic extremism.