New Age Islam
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Islam and the West ( 14 Oct 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

The outsourcing of stupidity in the English-language Arab press

By Hussein Ibish

Sep 20, 2009


One of the more disconcerting features of the English-language Arab press, which now contains a fairly wide variety of daily offerings (none of them particularly impressive yet), is the persistence on the part of several of these newspapers in printing the most ridiculous nonsense, as long as it is written by a Westerner. The most obvious instance of this, which I have complained about before, and in writing, is the positive addiction by whoever runs the Khaleej Times to the extremely idiotic, and often shamelessly anti-Semitic, nonsense spouted by somebody called Karin Friedemann.

On August 30, this newspaper published perhaps her most cancerous pile of garbage yet, in which she exonerates Al Qaeda for the attacks on the US embassies in East Africa and, somewhat more subtly but unmistakably, for the September 11 terrorist attacks as well, and argues that all accusations against it are simply an evil Jewish plot against the Muslims. Her article can only be described as a love letter to bin Laden and Al Qaeda, praising them in every way, comparing Muslims trained by Al Qaeda to Jews trained by the Israeli military, and describing its dead cadres as "martyred saints" with "miraculous healing powers."

Suffice it to say that this article, if you can call it that, is one of the most corrosive, stupid and malicious I have read anywhere in the Arab media, in English, French or Arabic, in many years, if not ever. I very much doubt that, had it been written in Arabic by someone with an overtly Muslim name (this character claims to be some sort of "convert" to Islam, but with friends like that...), that a newspaper such as the Khaleej Times (not to give it too much credit) or similar Arabic language newspapers would have published it. Perhaps a number of years ago, but not today.

As the Arab media has moved away from overt conspiracy theories and, in most cases, the most blatant forms of anti-Semitism, a couple of those that publish in English have found a way to continue to include these malignant ideas with a form of plausible deniability: simply attribute them to someone with a Western name. I'm not suggesting that anyone in these newspapers proactively asks these authors to write such drivel, or that they specifically go looking for this kind of material. I think that rather, they are susceptible to giving credence to what would otherwise be readily identified as the most arrant nonsense if it were submitted by an Arab or a Muslim, as long as it is e-mailed from the United States by someone with a Western background. It's an extraordinary combination of internalized and externalized racism combining to perpetuate the lowest possible common denominator in contemporary Arab political discourse.

Obviously, this kind of thing and worse, is to be found in the Arabic language media as well. But rarely in this manner or at this level. It takes a character like Friedemann these days in the Gulf to openly, shamelessly and maliciously heap praise and exoneration on bin Laden and Al Qaeda and get published in a well-read newspaper. And, anti-Semitism always goes down better when coming from someone who purports to be from a Jewish background and who is an American. It would be no exaggeration to say that most of what she writes is nothing more than anti-Semitic ranting of the most crude and despicable variety.


No newspaper in the United States or Europe would print this kind of hateful rubbish, not because it is challenging, controversial or edgy, but because it is paranoid, idiotic and an amateurish rehash of classical Western anti-Semitism that is well understood as a caustic form of hate speech (sadly, the same understandings about comparable Islamophobia are not yet as widespread). Yet somehow, and to our shame, she has actually found a regular gig with a known (albeit not major) English-language Arab newspaper. That I'm the only person who appears to be bothered by this, at least enough to say something publically, though I cannot be the only person who noticed it, is extremely troubling.

Another example of precisely the same phenomenon can be found in the current issue of Al-Ahram Weekly (English edition). In it, someone called Jeff Gates offers a substantially more convoluted but no less insidious version of the same ideas. Gates suggests, in an almost amusingly implausible fashion (i.e. it would be funny if it weren't so pathetic), that Israel was responsible for the 9/11 attacks, and indeed for a series of "provocations," arguing that the war in Iraq and the entire American military posture in the Middle East is simply and solely a consequence of evil, deceptive Zionist manipulation by a gang of wicked Jews and their fellow travelers. Again, the anti-Semitism bubbles up to the surface as he concludes his piece by describing Jewish, or at least Zionist, Americans as "this enemy within" (how many times have Muslim Americans in subject to the same calumny?).

Again, I do think that the editors of Al-Ahram at the very least would have thought twice about publishing this article had it been written by an Egyptian, an Arab or an Arab or Muslim American (there is a whole other subject to pursue about this and many other government-funded Arab newspapers aggressively promoting attitudes entirely at odds with the foreign policies of their funders, but this is another subject for another time -- and that's a promise). The fact that it is signed by one "Jeff Gates" is probably a major feature of its attractiveness, and a salient point in explaining how such ridiculous, pathetic and malicious propaganda could make it into a newspaper that generally speaking avoids this level overt hate speech.

When dealing with the Arabic-language media, the situation is more complex, as one is surveying a field that is infinitely broader. However, this kind of nonsense is increasingly unusual, if not virtually eliminated, from the major pan Arab newspapers and is, in spite of what is implied by organizations like MEMRI, hardly the usual fare in all but the most extreme and fringe publications. On the other hand, it does tend to pop up from time to time in one form or another in many publications. The English-language press in the Arab world, in some cases, seems to have found the outsourcing of stupidity to be a solution for keeping these ideas in circulation while imagining that they are employing some form of plausible deniability or, worse still, invoking the supposed inherent authority of Western identity (either way, this is a manifestation of the rampant internalized racism in the Arab world).

The Khaleej Times has actually offered regular platform to a shameless anti-Semite, supporter of Al Qaeda, and certified nitwit. The widely read and Egyptian government-funded Al-Ahram Weekly has seen fit to publish an article that even children would both laugh at and understand is dangerous. I am pretty sure that they would not have published such utter crap, at least at this point in time, if these ghastly articles had been written by someone with an Arab or Muslim name instead of Karin and Jeff. It has all the charm and integrity of desperate resin-scraping, stems and seeds.

The views expressed on this blog are solely those of Hussein Ibish and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or positions of any organization with which he is otherwise affiliated.


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Related Articles referred to above:

Disengaging America from the Israel Lobby

Karin Friedemann


6 September 2009 No taxation by a foreign government without representation” is a basic American principle. Yet, the taxation currently endured by US taxpayers because of the Israel Lobby far exceeds the level of taxation by the British that led to the American Revolution. Pro-Israel organisations do everything possible to prevent Americans from openly discussing the fact that they are being taxed without consent.

Through subversion Israel advocates have orchestrated passage of the Patriot Act, Homeland Security abuses, and other erosions of civil liberties. Pro-Israel organisations file lawsuits to keep the question of Israel investments off local ballots. Jewish communal organisations bribe elected public officials with free trips to Israel to gain their support — even against the will of the majority of their constituents!

Financing Israel at the expense of basic American values victimises every citizen to benefit a very small sub-group of the population and also creates worldwide anti-US hostility, which puts all Americans at risk of terrorist retaliation. Obeying the Israel lobby goes against all logical American self-interest. Obeying Zionist pressure to invade several countries at once means watching America commit suicide, economically and politically, for the sake of Israel. Zionist activists are a real and present danger to the USA. They should be stripped of their US citizenship and sent to Guantanamo for interrogation.


America’s free press, justice system, and democracy are dependent upon the separation of American from Israeli interests. To survive, America must disentangle itself from the Zionist web of control. The common Zionist argument that Jews should get to keep what they stole just because they’ve been sitting on other people’s property for so many years is not a valid legal argument. International law as defined by the post-WW2 Nuremburg Tribunals does not confer upon occupiers any entitlement to “security.” Zionism is nothing less than a criminal ideology that completely rejects the fundamental American principle of sacred property rights.


America stands for equal rights, which applies to property and residency rights and other legal norms such as use of public transportation and voting. The US has acknowledged the injustice involved in colonising America at the expense of the native population. Even though economic disparities still remain, Native Americans have US citizenship and are allowed to rent, buy and sell property just like other citizens. This is not true for millions of Palestinian refugees who are denied any passports while they live under Israeli curfews and martial law. It is even against Israeli law for sympathetic Jews voluntarily to reconvey stolen property that they currently hold without legitimate title to the original, rightful owners. In general, Jews cannot even sell homes to Arabs. Yet Germany returned homes stolen from the Jews in World War II to their descendants.


Many Americans are aware that the subsidisation of the Israeli military at the expense of the US taxpayer puts all Americans at risk of retaliation. Yet the criminal acts begin right under our noses here in America by bankers and real estate agents. With the deep enmeshment of Israeli agents in the United States political spectrum, the Israel Lobby acts as a mafia facilitating the looting of billions of dollars via US military acquisitions from Jewish-owned defence corporations like General Dynamics and via capital transfers including ongoing complex beneficiary-obscuring transactions. In addition to ongoing US foreign aid for weapons purchase, the USA buys billions of dollars of weapons, declares the weaponry to be obsolete and then consigns it to Israel at practically no charge. Using full-scale militarised equipment supplied and paid for by the United States, the Israeli government uses US tax money to pay the IDF to force the non-Jewish Palestinian rightful owners to vacate their own property so that subsidised real-estate magnates can bulldoze the place to build suburban-style condos for foreigners outfitted with supplies from Home Depot and JCPenney.


As the Israeli government orchestrates increasing demand for Palestinian property, ordinary American Jews wishing to escape their credit card debts buy up stolen Palestinian property by means of mortgages that roll in existing indebtedness at subsidised interest rates. American Jewish purchasers can then resell the stolen properties at a profit and return debt-free to the USA with cash in their pockets. This outrageous criminal conspiracy takes place in broad-daylight generally under the aegis of taxpayer subsidised Zionist “charities” that encourage “Aliyah” (Jewish ascension to Israel).


Are American law enforcement officials investigating this racist organised crime network operating in full daylight? The Jews who move into this stolen property are participating in an international crime. The FBI should be attending all the Pro-Israel training workshops that take place on US soil and that promote both the subversion of all our basic national beliefs and also the looting of the US economy. The United States has no choice but to start investigating, arresting, charging, prosecuting, convicting and incarcerating American citizens participating in the Zionist settlement process.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based writer on Middle East affairs and US politics. She is Director of the Division on Muslim Civil Rights and Liberties for the National Association of Muslim American Women. Joachim Martillo contributed to this article


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Of Conspiracies and Plots

Karin Friedemann


23 July 2009 Many blame Ashcroft, Cheney, and Bush for the ongoing campaigns against activists, politicians and organisations that try to help Arabs and Muslims.

Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner, a long time Palestinian rights advocate, told supporters that he believes former US Attorney General John Ashcroft personally orchestrated a sting operation to remove him from office. As in previous cases, strategic “media update sessions” put the media into a predatory frenzy before the accused even went to trial. Media accusations often do not even coincide with the actual charges.


Riad Hamad, founder of Palestinian Children’s Welfare Fund in Texas, believed George Bush was after him. When Hamad died mysteriously and violently after a vicious media campaign libeling him as a terrorism supporter, police and FBI refused to investigate. Clearly, there was a conspiracy involving media and law enforcement. Yet for Bush personally to take such an interest in local politics is probably beyond plausibility.

This pattern of political persecutions from Turner to Chas Freeman can be best understood with a bottom-up approach. As Jewish wealth, power, and influence have increased, so has its ability to punish those offending the organised Jewish community in some way. While the Jewish power elite seems to enjoy legal immunity, Americans and US residents targeted by these powerful political economic oligarchs suffer media and governmental abuse. This is particularly true in the Boston area, which is now a major command and control centre for transnational Jewish politics and Zionist lobbying.

Although the pattern of abuse of power extends well beyond the Boston area, much if not most of Zionist social, political, economic, and academic misbehaviour links back to the Boston-area Jewish community or educational institutions where young Jews often first hook up with vast social networks.


Although the presence of extremist Zionists like Rahm Emanuel or Dennis Ross near the president is disturbing, lower rank staffers like Treasury Department official Stuart Levey or pro-Israel propagandist Matthew Levitt are far more threatening to US democracy. While serving the government, Boston-bred Levitt constructed a vast terrorist conspiracy out of paranoid Zionist fantasies trying to explain the refusal of Muslims to acknowledge that it was just to establish a Jewish state in Palestine.


In Levitt’s delusions, to which other lesser ranking government officials like Daniel Pipes and Rachel Ehrenfeld contributed, Islamic finance and Islamic charity serve as a many-headed hydra of evil. Roots of the conspiracy involving Pipes, Levitt, and Levey lead back to the Boston area, where the Israel lobby is deeply embedded in the region’s educational institutions.

Aafia Siddique, who was a graduate student in cognitive neuroscience at Boston area Brandeis University, was demonised as a terrorist to punish her Muslim activism at the Jewish institution. The case constructed against Siddiqui has the flavour of psychotic paranoia so common in Matthew Levitt’s anti-Palestinian, Islamophobic fantasies. Understanding the centrality of Boston Jewish power in the USA requires a critical look at The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy. Professors Mearsheimer and Walt incorrectly claim the Israel Lobby is just another lobby even though the Israel Lobby is really the public face of an international web, which has rendered the USA a dependent intimidated client state within the Jewish imperial system.

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based writer on Middle East affairs and US politics. She is Director of the Division on Muslim Civil Rights and Liberties for the National Association of Muslim American Women. Joachim Martillo contributed to this article.


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Myths and Facts About Al Qaeda


Karin Friedemann (Letter From America)


30 August 2009 The media myth of a global Islamic conspiracy never got much traction in America before 2001 because the minority Muslim American population simply did not seem like much of a threat, because Saudi Arabia and other Gulf States are loyal US allies, and because Americans generally have a positive attitude toward wealthy investors.

After 9/11 pro-Israel propagandists exploited public ignorance and created a nightmarish fantasy of Al Qaeda in order to put the US and allies into conflict with the entire Islamic world. What is Al Qaeda? What do they believe? What do they actually do?


Osama bin Laden first used the term “Al Qaeda” in an interview in 1998, probably in reference to a 1988 article written by Palestinian activist Abdullah Azzam entitled “Al Qa‘ida Al Sulba” (the Solid Foundation).  In it, Azzam elaborates upon the ideas of the Egyptian scholar Sayed Qutb to explain modern jihadi principles. Qutb, author of Social Justice in Islam, is viewed as the founder of modern Arab-Islamic political religious thought. Qutb is comparable to John Locke in Western political development. Both Azzam and Qutb were serious men of exceptional integrity and honour.

While Qutb was visiting the USA in 1949, he and several friends were turned away from a movie theater because the owner thought they were black. ‘But we’re Egyptians,’ one of the group explained. The owner apologised and offered to let them in, but Qutb refused, galled by the fact that black Egyptians could be admitted, but black Americans could not,” recounts Lawrence Wright in The Looming Tower. Qutb predicted that the struggle between Islam and materialism would define the modern world. He embraced martyrdom in 1966 in rejection of Arab socialist politics.


Azzam similarly rejected secular Palestinian nationalist politics as an impediment to moral virtue. He opposed terrorist attacks on civilians and had strong reservations about ideas like offensive jihad, or preventive war. He also hesitated to designate any Muslim leader as an apostate and preferred to allow God to make such judgments. Inspired by the courage and piety of Afghan Muslims struggling against the Soviets, Azzam reinterpreted Qutb’s concept of individual and collective obligation of Muslims in his fatwa entitled “Defense of the Muslim Lands, the First Obligation after Iman (Faith).” Qutb would have prioritised the struggle of Egyptian Muslims to transform Egypt into a virtuous Islamic state, while Azzam argued that every individual Muslim had an obligation to come to the aid of oppressed Muslims everywhere, whether they are Afghan, Kosovar, Bosnian, Thai, Filipino or Chechen.


John Calvert of Creighton University writes, “This ideology… would soon energise the most significant jihad movement of modern times.”

At Azzam’s call, Arabs from many countries joined America’s fight against Communism in Afghanistan. No Arab jihadi attack was considered terrorism when Azzam led the group, or later when bin Laden ran the group. Because the global Islamic movement overlapped with the goals of the US government, Arab jihadis worked and traveled friction-lessly throughout the world between Asia, Arabia and America. Azzam was assassinated in Pakistan in 1989, but legends of the courageous sacrifices of the noble Arab Afghans energised the whole Islamic world.


After the Soviets left Afghanistan, bin Laden relocated to Sudan in 1992. At the time he was probably undisputed commander of nothing more than a small group, which became even smaller after he lost practically all his money on Sudan investments. He returned to Afghanistan in 1996, where the younger Afghans, the Taleban welcomed him on account of his reputation as a veteran war hero.


There is no real evidence that bin Laden or Al Qaeda had any connection to the Ugandan and Tanzanian embassy attacks or any of the numerous attacks for which they have been blamed. Pro-Israel propagandists like Daniel Pipes or Matthew Levitt needed an enemy for their war against Muslim influence on American culture more than random explosions in various places needed a central commander. By the time the World Trade Center was destroyed, the Arab fighters surrounding Osama bin Laden were just a dwindling remnant living on past glories of Afghanistan’s struggle against Communism. Al Qaeda has never been and certainly is not today an immensely powerful terror organisation controlling Islamic banks and charities throughout the world.


Al Qaeda maintained training camps in Afghanistan like Camp Faruq, where Muslims could receive basic training just as American Jews go to Israel for military training with the IDF. There they learned to disassemble, clean and reassemble weapons, and got to associate with old warriors, who engaged in great heroism against the Soviets, but did not do much since. Many Al Qaeda trainees went on to serve US interests in Central Asia (e.g. Xinjiang) in the 1990s, but from recent descriptions the camps seem to currently provide a form of adventure tourism with no future enlistment obligations. Although Western media treats Al Qaeda as synonymous with Absolute Evil, much of the world reveres the Arab Afghans as martyr saints. Hundreds of pilgrims visit Kandahar’s Arab cemetery daily, believing that the graves of those massacred in the 2001 US bombing of Afghanistan possess miraculous healing powers.

Source: Khaleej Times, Dubai

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based writer on Middle East affairs and US politics. She is Director of the Division on Muslim Civil Rights and Liberties for the National Association of Muslim American Women. Joachim Martillo contributed to this article.

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