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Jewish World Review Nov. 7, 2000 / 9 Mar-Cheshvan 5761

Evan Gahr

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Hillary's cruel blow to American pluralism -- VETERAN ARAB PROPAGANDIST Clovis Maksoud is a bit rusty these days. Sure, the American University professor, a former Arab League special representative to the United Nations, still makes a pseudo-scholarly case against Israel (or the "Zionist colonial entity" to use his pet name for the Jewish state.) But Maksoud does not fall back on the "race card" or "politics of victimization" as deftly as some other Arab-American and Muslim-American leaders.

When Rep. Rick Lazio last month demanded that Hillary Clinton return Maksoud's $500 donation to her Senate campaign, Mrs. Clinton demurred. Lazio stood accused of bigotry. But Maksoud emphasized that as an American citizen he can contribute to whomever he damn well pleases. In other words, free speech.

Fair enough. But when news broke last month that Arab-Americans, including an outright apologist for the terror group Hamas had contributed some $50,000 to Mrs. Clinton's campaign, Maksoud's brethren knew better than to plead free speech. Why waste time with quaint "First Amendment" arguments? The "race card" places critics on the defensive. To question Hamas and its American acolytes is suddenly to question Islam and Arab Americans. By this "logic" Hillary's decision to return the money dealt a cruel blow to American pluralism.

"This is an attempt by some people to exclude Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans from participating in the American political system," declared the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. "We are Americans and we have the right to freedom of expression . . . When we say, 'End the occupation' we are called terrorist."

No. When some folks call Hamas a "freedom fighting" organization they stand accused of condoning terrorism. Just how is that unfair or inaccurate or a manifestation of intolerance towards a religious minority?

The only thing remarkable here is that Hillary took the money in the first place. The money was raised at a Boston fundraiser hosted by the American Muslim Alliance, whose members have allegedly distributed anti-Semitic texts and even dabbled with Holocaust revisionism. The Alliance also backs the right of Palestinians to use "armed force" against Israel. Perhaps the most notable contribution at the Boston shindig came from Abdurahman Alamoudi of the pro-Hamas American Muslim Council. He donated $1000 to Hillary's senate campaign this May.

Alamoudi, an AMC board member, wants everyone to understand that his group has "defended what is called Hamas." What is called Hamas??? Between 1994 and 1996, Hamas killed 130 people and wounded some 600 others, many civilians. But Alamoudi calls this resolute bunch of terrorists "a freedom-fighting organization."

The AMC officially claims to oppose terrorism. But, to paraphrase Bill Clinton, that defends on how you define terrorism. If Hamas is a bunch of freedom-fighters who precisely are the terrorists the AMC ostensibly opposes? No matter how you answer those questions, the AMC undoubtedly has long evidenced a soft-spot for Hamas. In 1995, the AMC newsletter declared "Yasir Arafat [their spelling] does not represent the Palestinian any longer. Palestinians are now following Hamas. Israel must talk to Hamas."

This rosy view of Hamas is undoubtedly a hard sell in the United States. The organization, after all, is almost as anti-Israel as it is anti-American. If Hamas acolytes in the United States wish to make their case on the "merits" go ahead. So far, though they seem a bit gun shy in that realm.

Aided by useful idiots in the media and academia, Islamic radicals instead pretend they are no different from other newcomers. Consider Dean Murphy's October 27 New York Times story on the funny money controversy for the New York Times, "For Muslim Americans, Influence in Politics is Still Hard to Come By."

Murphy wrote that Muslim Americans contend that "extremist views by Muslims carry far greater negative consequences for Muslim Americans than extremist remarks in support of Israel do for Jewish Americans."

For example? Actually, no example was cited. The claim that both Jews and Arabs here both make equally extreme remarks is palpably false. Even a cursory computer search would have established as much. The last prominent Jew to say anything near extreme as "Islamic leaders" was Rabbi Meir Kahane. The history speaks legions to the current debate.

Kahane, founder of the Jewish Defense League and virulently anti-Arab, was strenuously condemned by most every mainstream Jewish organization. In November 1990, Kahane was assassinated by El Sayyid Nosair. He and nine other members of an Islamic terror cell were later convicted for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and conspiracy to commit other terrorist acts. Funds for the legal defense of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, the conspiracy ringmaster, were reportedly collected by Abdurahman Alamoudi. He, of course, more recently bestowed his financial largesse on Hillary's campaign.

Ah, the ties that bind.

If you're a Muslim American who shills for terrorists it often seems possible to masquerade as a mainstream Islamic leader (much to the chagrin of other Islamic-Americans who oppose terrorism). Before the current controversy, these groups had already obtained considerable mainstream credibility. Early in the Clinton administration the American Muslim Council was welcomed into the White House with little or no criticism, let alone press attention. Mrs. Clinton even hosted receptions attended by the AMC and some like-minded groups.

The Council on Islamic American Relations, which terrorism expert Steve Emerson calls a Hamas off-shoot, is quoted often but examined rarely. Emerson says CAIR was founded in 1994 by the former public relations director of another Hamas front group. Mrs. Clinton even met with a different CAIR official back in 1996.

The State Department has even sent the pro-Hamas Alamoudi on overseas missions to promote religious tolerance. The current controversy, at least initially, has hardly brought increased scrutiny. Indeed, when Hillary's jilted donor paid homage to Hamas and Hezbollah at an October 28 rally in Washington, DC his comments went virtually unreported.

Once upon a time, almost anybody brave enough to talk honestly about the American communists and their allegiance to an insidious foreign power got smeared with charges of McCarthyism. Today, it remains exceedingly difficult to talk honestly about Americans who make common cause with sworn enemies of the United States here and abroad. "Today Show" co-host Katie Couric even asked Mrs. Clinton October 30 if she had been too quick to return the money collected at the Boston fundraiser. The more compelling question is why it took the press nearly three months to report on Hillary's now-notorious fund-raiser; would funds collected at a gala KKK fundraiser go unnoticed that long?

Arab-Americans and Islamic-Americans in the Hamas orbit invariably charge religious bigotry to impugn most anyone who questions their political endeavors.

Faced with so-called religious discrimination they claim they wish to be treated like anyone else. Let's hope that the cultural elite and politicians finally manifest enough bravery and honesty to do just that.

JWR contributor Evan Gahr is an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute. To comment click here.


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© 2000, Evan Gahr.