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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.

Read more at Commentary

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

The Palestinian National Movement Has Reached a Point of Crisis

With Hamas having failed to achieve anything through several weeks of demonstrations and violence, and Mahmoud Abbas reduced to giving rambling anti-Semitic speeches, Palestinian aspirations seem to have hit a brick wall. Elliott Abrams explains:

[Neither] Fatah [nor] Hamas offers Palestinians a practical program for national independence. . . . [The current situation] leaves Palestinians high and dry, with no way forward at all. Whatever the criticism of the “occupation,” Israelis will certainly not abandon the West Bank to chaos or to a possible Hamas takeover. Today the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state is simply too dangerous to Israel and to Jordan to be contemplated. . . . There are only two other options. The first is the “one-state solution,” meaning union with Israel; but that is a nonstarter that Israel will reject no matter who is its prime minister. The other option is some kind of eventual link to Jordan.

In polite diplomatic society, and in Palestinian public discourse, such a link cannot be mentioned. But younger people who visit there, Palestinians have explained to me, can see a society that is half-Palestinian and functions as an independent nation with a working system of law and order. Jordanians travel freely, rarely suffer from terrorism, and [can vote in regular] elections, even if power is ultimately concentrated in the royal palace. The kingdom has close relations with all the Sunni states and the West, and is at peace with Israel.

The fundamental question all this raises is what, in 2018, is the nature and objective of Palestinian nationalism. Is the goal sovereignty at all costs, no matter how long it takes and even if it is increasingly divorced from peace, prosperity, and personal freedom? Is “steadfastness” [in refusing to compromise with Israel] the greatest Palestinian virtue now and forever? These questions cannot be debated in either Gaza or the West Bank. But as Israel celebrates 70 years and the “occupation” is now more than a half-century old, how much longer can they be delayed? . . .

The catastrophic mishandling of Palestinian affairs by generations of leaders from Haj Amin al-Husseini (the pro-Nazi mufti of the British Mandate period) to Yasir Arafat and now to Mahmoud Abbas has been the true Palestinian Nakba.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Jordan, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinians