In Berkeley, Criticism of Religion Is Admired—Unless the Religion Is Islam

July 28 2017

The Berkeley, CA community radio station KPFA recently canceled an upcoming talk by Richard Dawkins, the geneticist-turned-advocate-of-atheism, explaining that while it “emphatically supports serious free speech,” it “does not endorse hurtful speech.” In this case the “hurtful speech” was Dawkins’ criticisms of Islam, which are of a piece with his observations about religion in general. Tom Wilson writes:

Given Richard Dawkins’ [contempt for] religious belief in general, you would have thought the event organizers might have anticipated that this arch-secularist wouldn’t have anything very complimentary to say about Islam, either. Yet there is something rather troubling in KPFA’s statement on its discovery of Dawkins’s “hurtful speech,” [which it] explained as follows: “We had booked this event based entirely on his excellent new book on science, when we didn’t know he had offended and hurt—in his tweets and other comments on Islam—so many people.”

This leaves a question. If Dawkins’s incriminating tweets on Islam eventually came to the organizers’ attention, what about all of his other pronouncements on religion? As in the many writings and speeches that deal with insulting all the other religions. Is KPFA yet to stumble upon Dawkins’s international best-seller The God Delusion? Imagine their sense of horror when they learn of all those hurt Jewish and Christian feelings. After all, Dawkins has had some pretty fiery things to say about the “God of the Old Testament.”

Unless, of course, the organizers already knew all about Dawkins’s past comments on the other religions, but it only became a problem for them when they found out that Dawkins had been saying similar things about Islam. Had Dawkins been silent on Islam and only derided Christianity and Judaism, would he then have still been welcome at the Berkeley event? It rather sounds like it. . . .

Canceling an event with an internationally renowned atheist on the grounds that he has offended the feelings of religious people is, of course, absurd.

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More about: Atheism, Islam, Political correctness, Religion & Holidays, Richard Dawkins

Hamas’s Deadly Escalation at the Gaza Border

Oct. 16 2018

Hamas’s weekly demonstration at the fence separating Gaza from Israel turned bloody last Friday, as operatives used explosives to blow a hole in the barrier and attempted to pass through. The IDF opened fire, killing three and scaring away the rest. Yoni Ben Menachem notes that the demonstrators’ tactics have been growing more aggressive and violent in recent weeks, and the violence is no longer limited to Fridays but is occurring around the clock:

The number of participants in the demonstrations has risen to 20,000. Extensive use has been made of lethal tactics such as throwing explosive charges and grenades at IDF soldiers, and there has been an increase in the launching of incendiary balloons and kites into Israel. At the same time, Hamas supplemented its burning tires with smoke generators at the border to create heavy smoke screens to shield Gazan rioters and allow them to get closer to the border fence and infiltrate into Israel. . . .

[S]ix months of ineffective demonstrations have not achieved anything connected with easing [Israel’s blockade of the Strip]. Therefore, Hamas has decided to increase military pressure on Israel. [Its] ultimate goal has not changed: the complete removal of the embargo; until this is achieved, the violent demonstrations at the border fence will continue.

Hamas’s overall objective is to take the IDF by surprise by blowing up the fence at several points and infiltrating into Israeli territory to harm IDF soldiers or abduct them and take them into the Gaza Strip. . . . The precedent of the 2011 deal in which one Israeli soldier was traded for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners has strengthened the feeling within Hamas that Israel is prepared to pay a heavy price for bringing back captured soldiers alive. . . . Hamas also believes that the campaign is strengthening its position in Palestinian society and is getting the international community to understand that the Palestinian problem is still alive. . . .

The Hamas leadership is not interested in an all-out military confrontation with Israel. The Gaza street is strongly opposed to this, and the Hamas leadership understands that a new war with Israel will result in substantial damage to the organization. Therefore, the idea is to continue with the “Return March” campaign, which will not cost the organization too much and will maintain its rule without paying too high a price for terror.

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More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security