On Media / Pop Culcha

Jewish World Review May 26, 1999/ 11 Sivan, 5759

Robert Leiter

America's new

DANIEL PIPES, director of the Middle East Forum, argues in an important article in the May issue of Commentary magazine, titled "America's Muslims Against America's Jews," that what was once historically a Christian phenomenon - virulent anti-Semitism - is now primarily a product of Muslim groups, many of them based in the United States.

"If Christian anti-Semitism is increasingly yesterday's problem," Pipes writes, "Muslim anti-Semitism is today's problem, and tomorrow's."

It is Pipes's contention that this rabid anti-Jewish feeling has fueled a number of physical attacks against Jews and other American citizens and that very little of it makes it into the general press. EconophoneIn the United States, he writes, "one would hardly know anything about the depth and reach of Muslim anti-Semitism from following the press, from reading the work of most researchers, or even from tracking the statements of the organized Jewish community."

The threat to the well-being of Jews and all Americans, Pipes argues, is considerable and should not be taken lightly. He shows how Islamic groups throughout the country are reprinting articles and books originally published in the Middle East and "recycling" the rhetoric of fundamentalism.

In addition, Pipes notes that "Islamic groups here also fly in fundamentalist spokesmen from abroad to address their mammoth conventions at downtown hotels in cities like Chicago and Oklahoma City.

(The annual conference of the Islamic Society of North America, for example, attracts about 15,000 participants.) At one such gathering in Kansas City in 1989, Yusuf al-Qardawi, who is based in Qatar and is one of the most eminent Islamic theologians alive today, told his audience (in Arabic): 'On the hour of judgment, Muslims will fight the Jews and kill them.' "

If you are not convinced, Pipes offers lots of other evidence.

One of the most unusual ads in recent months appeared in The New York Times of Thursday, May 13, in the first section of the paper, surprisingly enough, right under a story about the Philadelphia mayoral race. The ad, placed by an organization called the Balkan Action Council and couched as an open letter to President Clinton, argued that only the use of ground troops in Kosovo will end the ethnic cleansing.

The argument was not so unusual; it was the signatories, quite prominent names from both sides of the political barricades in the culture wars, that were a shocker. This must be the only place where you will see the likes of Saul Bellow, Robert Kagan, William Kristol and Norman Podhoretz on the same page with Geraldine Ferraro, Bianca Jagger, Rabbi Michael Lerner, David Rieff and his mother Susan Sontag. Will wonders ever cease?

Even more interesting is the fact that The Nation of May 24, the magazine that seems to be the natural stomping grounds of such left-wingers as Sontag and Lerner, has a massive headline calling for the United States to "Stop the Bombing: Why Nato's War Must End." Articles in the issue include Tom Hayden on "The Liberal's Folly" and Stephen F. Cohen on " 'Degrading' America." That's quite a disparity.

Keep your ears pealed. Something is clearly going on on the left.

Robert Leiter is Literary Editor of the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent.

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©1999 Robert Leiter