Why Many American Muslims Are Afraid to Stand Up to the Anti-Semites in Their Midst

Aug. 14 2017

A few weeks ago, near-simultaneous sermons by two California imams included anti-Semitic rhetoric of the most murderous kind, some of which constituted direct calls to violence. Shireen Qudosi examines the response of Muslim Americans:

The war-mongering rhetoric of [these] imams was not a matter of slips of the tongue or offhand comments. Their rhetoric is the same packaged radical ideology churned out in madrassas, terror camps, and online extremist publications. These are calculated and crafted messages that appear to convey the assumption that [these imams’] religious authority will not be challenged. Their words were not indicative of American Islam or [Muslim Americans as a whole]. Within days of the sermons, [a group of liberal Muslim organizations] launched a petition against Imams Ammar Shahin and Mahmoud Harmoush, calling for their immediate termination. . . .

This silent refusal of many [other] Muslims to condemn [physical or rhetorical] attacks that are openly inspired by Islam does not come from [actual sympathy with these attacks], but from a fear of challenging religious authority or . . . of holding our own community accountable. [The truth is, most] Muslims are not worried about what Jews, Americans, or a new presidential administration will do. Many [instead] fear first and foremost . . . the ostracism and harassment they risk from within their own community if they express dissent. . . .

Within days, the petition received literally thousands of signatures. All it demanded was that those imams be fired. The truth is that the entire mosque board that defended and allowed these imams to speak at length, without interruption, should step down. Members of the so-called “interfaith community” also need to take a hard look at their own complicity. Partnering with Jew-haters is of no service to anyone—not Jews, not Christians, and not the Muslim community. There is also the larger issue of the ineffectiveness of many interfaith groups and their tendency to be used as props during public-relations disasters such as this one.

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Interfaith dialogue, Islam, Moderate Islam, Muslim-Jewish relations, Radical Islam, Religion & Holidays

Iran’s Defeat May Not Be Immediate, but Effective Containment Is at Hand

Aug. 20 2018

In the 1980s, the U.S. pursued a policy of economic, military, and political pressure on the Soviet Union that led to—or at least hastened—its collapse while avoiding a head-on military confrontation. Some see reasons to hope that a similar strategy might bring about the collapse of the Islamic Republic. Frederick Kagan, however, argues against excessive optimism. Carefully comparing the current situation of Iran to that of the Gorbachev-era USSR, he suggests instead that victory over Tehran can be effectively achieved even if the regime persists, at least for the time being:

What must [an Iran] strategy accomplish in order to advance American national security and vital national interests? Regime change was the only outcome during the cold war that could accomplish those goals, given the conventional and nuclear military power of the Soviet Union. Iran is much weaker by every measure and much more vulnerable to isolation than the Soviets were. . . . Isolating Iran from external resources and forcing the regime to concentrate on controlling its own population would be major accomplishments that would transform the Middle East. . . .

It is vital to note that the strategy toward the Soviet Union included securing Western Europe against the Soviet threat and foreclosing Soviet efforts to pare America’s allies, especially West Germany, away from it while simultaneously supporting (in an appropriately limited fashion) the Solidarity uprising in Poland and the anti-Soviet insurgency in Afghanistan. It is not meaningful to speak of a victory strategy against Iran that does not include contesting Iranian control and influence in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq while strengthening and hardening the Arab frontline states (including Oman and Qatar) against Iranian influence.

Syria is Iran’s Afghanistan—it is the theater in which Iranian forces are most vulnerable, where Iranian popular support for the war is wearing thin, and where the U.S. can compel [Iran] to expend its limited resources on a defensive battle. Iraq is Iran’s Poland—the area Iran has come to dominate, but with limitations, and a country Iran’s leaders believe they cannot afford to lose. The U.S. is infinitely better positioned to contest Iran’s control over Iraq than it ever was in Poland (and similarly better positioned in Syria than it was in Afghanistan).

A long-term approach would focus on building a consensus among America’s allies about the need to implement a victory strategy. It would deter the Russians and Chinese from stepping in to keep Iran alive. It would disrupt the supply chain of strategic materials Iran needs to advance its nuclear and conventional military capabilities. And it would force Iran to fight hard for its positions in Iraq and Syria while simultaneously pressing the Iranian economy in every possible way. Such a strategy would almost certainly force the Islamic Republic back in on itself, halt and reverse its movement toward regional hegemony, exacerbate schisms within the Iranian leadership and between the regime and the people, and possibly, over time, and in a uniquely Iranian way, lead to a change in the nature of the regime.

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More about: Cold War, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, Soviet Union, U.S. Foreign policy