The 9/11 hijackers now defending Ground Zero

The opponents of Park51, the so-called “Ground Zero mosque,” have decided that the litmus test for identifying “good Muslims” is to ask them whether they regard Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Andy McCarthy, one of the lead knights in the crusade to stop “the Islamization of America,” strikes the latest blow — this time against a rather guileless Imam Dawoud Kringle. This is how McCarthy recounts the crucial part of his “debate” on the fair-and-balanced Fox News:

Then came the moment of truth: the very simple question, “Is Hamas a terrorist organization?” Have a look at the YouTube clip below. Like his friend Imam Feisal Rauf, Imam Kringle won’t answer the question. I pressed him, pointing out that it is a very simple question. And it is: Quite apart from the fact that Hamas is formally designated as a terrorist organization under U.S. law, Hamas’s own charter makes abundantly clear — indeed, wears like a badge of honor — that Hamas exists solely for the purpose of driving Israel out of Palestine by violent jihad. Yet the imam cannot bring himself to say Hamas is a terrorist organization.

Perhaps Kringle would have held surer footing if he had first addressed the reliability of the US government in identifying terrorists.

It was only two years ago that Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress were removed from the US terrorism watch list — that was 15 years after Mandela had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The terrorism watch list — like the Nobel Peace Prize — is not in and of itself a reliable indicator of someone’s current willingness to use violence in pursuit of a political cause.

Likewise, the fact that in the 1980s the Reagan administration regarded Afghanistan’s mujahideen as “freedom fighters” — not terrorists — had everything to do with who they were fighting (the Soviets) and nothing to do with the methods they employed or the causes those particular jihadists might subsequently espouse.

Terrorism and terrorist — as everyone knew until they suddenly forgot on 9/11 — are mutable designations that more clearly specify the relationship between the designator and the designee than they say much else.

Is Hamas a terrorist organization? As far as the US government is concerned, the answer it yes. It’s on the list. Yet not all organizations listed terrorist are the same — and like most objective foreign policy analysts, the US government like every other government knows this: these organizations are as diverse in their political aims as they are in their geographical distribution.

Hamas has been presented with a set of conditions which, if fulfilled, would allow it to participate in the peace process. In other words, even from the perspective of those governments who currently describe it as a terrorist organization there is an exit ramp for Hamas to shed its “terrorist” label. In contrast, there are no conditions under which any government will enter talks with al Qaeda.

Contrary to what McCarthy and others insinuate, Hamas and al Qaeda are not two peas in the same pod. They are in fact sworn enemies.

But given that so far no one has pointed to any direct connection between Park51 and Hamas, one has to wonder why those affiliated with the proposed Islamic center are being asked their views on the Palestinian movement?

The answer has much less to do with Park51 than it does with the myth that America’s interests are indistinguishable from those of Israel.

Whether McCarthy describes himself as a Zionist, he is certainly pushing a Zionist agenda when he claims: “Hamas exists solely for the purpose of driving Israel out of Palestine by violent jihad.”

In fact, Hamas’ leadership has explicitly supported the creation of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders if Israel ends the occupation. But this politically pragmatic position is one that McCarthy and his ilk refuse to acknowledge because it conflicts with a narrative that pits Israel and its allies against an ideologically unyielding and anti-Semitic foe. Characterize the conflict that way and there is no compromise a peace-loving Israel could make which would satisfy its enemies.

Indeed, elsewhere McCarthy has made it clear that he subscribes to the right-wing Zionist school of thought which sees a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as contingent solely on the ability of Israel to crush its opponent.

As he wrote during the war on Gaza: “What Israel needs is to be allowed to win: to finish the grisly work of ‘breaking the will of the Palestinians, of Hamas, to continue to fire at Israel,’ as Israeli Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit so aptly put it.”

As for Palestinian national aspirations in general, McCarthy says: “On the political front, it is high time to acknowledge the failure of the fantasy that the Palestinians are legitimate actors worthy of statehood and its privileges.” He says: “we must halt the mindless ‘two state solution’ rhetoric.” Scorning those who he calls “democracy devotees,” McCarthy says: “Let’s be blunt: we are looking at a generation or more before the Palestinians might be prepared to assume the obligations of sovereignty. So we should stop talking about it.”

Daniel Luban in an article in which he describes Islamophobia as the “new anti-Semitism,” notes the central role that McCarthy has assumed as an ideologue now marshaling opposition to Islam in America.

The mosque furor is only the most recent and revealing demonstration of the anti-jihadists’ political influence; from the beginning of the controversy, McCarthy and his allies have dictated the terms of debate on the right. In his July 28 statement attacking the Islamic center, Newt Gingrich cited [McCarthy’s book] The Grand Jihad and framed the controversy in McCarthy’s terms of Western civilization under siege from creeping sharia. More recently, the American Family Association — a leading fundamentalist Christian group — cited the book to argue that no more mosques should be built anywhere in the United States because “each Islamic mosque is dedicated to the overthrow of the American government.” A campaign spearheaded by Pamela Geller, the right-wing blogger who was previously most notorious for publishing a lengthy piece alleging that Obama is the illegitimate child of Malcolm X, will place ads on New York City buses opposing the Islamic center. On September 11, she and Gingrich will lead a major rally against the center that will also feature [Geert] Wilders, the Islamophobic Dutch politician. What was once a lunatic fringe now appears to be running the show, aided and abetted by mainstream figures like Gingrich.

It is quite possible that the next Republican president will also be a party to what can justly be called the new McCarthyism; for that reason alone, McCarthy and his allies deserve our attention. But even more important is the impact of this steady stream of anti-Muslim vitriol on the popular consciousness. Cynical politicians like Gingrich may know that all the talk of the Islamic center as a “9/11 victory monument” and of ordinary Muslims as stealth sharia operatives is mere agitprop designed to win votes in an election year, but ordinary citizens may take them at their word and act accordingly.

Given that McCarthy and his cohorts want to associate Park51 with Hamas, it’s worth considering what Hamas has to say about the plans for the Islamic center.

In an interview on New York’s WABC radio (audio can be heard here), Mahmoud al-Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas who is in the Gaza political leadership, was asked by Aaron Klein to comment on the construction of the center.

Without addressing the question directly, Zahar chose to respond by pointing out that Muslims in America are like Muslims elsewhere, living in accordance with Islam, fasting (during Ramadan), praying and so forth. He then went on to say that Hamas is being misrepresented by those who would liken it to the Taliban and that it is recognized across the Islamic world as a moderate organization.

Klein, however, wanted to focus on the mosque controversy and returned to that question:

Klein: What do you think about the new initiative to build a mosque near the World Trade Center in New York, which is a major point of controversy on all sides?

Zahar: We have to build the mosque as you are allowed to build the church and the Israeli are building their holy places. We have to build everywhere — in every area we have muslims, we have to pray, and this mosque is the only site of prayer especially for the people when they are looking to be in the group — not individual.

Muslims should be allowed to worship in mosques, just like Christians going to church and Jews going to the synagogue.

Not much controversy there, right?

Well, the New York Post seemed eager to pour fuel on the fire by inserting a few words implying that Hamas (and Muslims in general) are engaged in territorial expansion.

A leader of the Hamas terror group yesterday jumped into the emotional debate on the plan to construct a mosque near Ground Zero — insisting Muslims “have to build” it there.

“We have to build everywhere,” said Mahmoud al-Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas and the organization’s chief on the Gaza Strip.

“In every area we have, [as] Muslim[s], we have to pray, and this mosque is the only site of prayer,” he said on “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio” on WABC.

Zahar actually said, “In every area we have Muslims, we have to pray,” which is to say, wherever Muslims live they have a religious obligation to gather for prayer and they do this in mosques.

The New York Post twisted this into: “In every area we have, [as] Muslims[s], we have to pray,” which conjures up a completely different picture. Lower Manhattan is now an area that Muslims claim as their own — at least the New York Post appears to want to promote this lie.

Those who now man the barricades in response to what they call the Islamization of America, reveal in the shadow of their fears the scope of their ambitions.

On 9/11, four groups of hijackers took control of four aircraft resulting in the horrific deaths of 3,000 people. The same day, another group of hijackers took control of the aftermath of the attacks and began a war in which hundreds of thousands have died and millions been displaced. The campaign of those hijackers continues and Park51 is merely its latest target.

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  1. Is Hamas a terrorist organization? As far as the US government is concerned, the answer it yes.

    Answer IS yes.

  2. Very good analysis of Hamas.

  3. “Is Hamas a terrorist organization? “. Answer might be:
    Well, do you mean, ‘Does Hamas appear on the US list of terrorist organizations?’ Is that what you mean? If that is what you mean, then my answer is that it is my understanding that, yes, it is on the US’s list. Is that what you were asking?
    Oh, no? Then what were you asking? Were you asking if Hamas has fired rockets at civilians with a hope or reasonable expectation of injuring them, all with the purpose of changing their behavior or their politics? Is that what you meant to ask? Yes? Well then, let me paraphrase: — are you asking me if Hamas has fired rockets at civilians with a hope or reasonable expectation of injuring them, all with the purpose of changing their behavior or their politics as, for instance, Israel has (also, and more often, and doing more damage) fired rockets at civilians and dropped bombs on civilians and fired artillery at civilians and fired small arms at civilians with a hope or reasonable expectation of injuring them, all with the purpose of changing their behavior or their politics? Is that a fair statement of what you were asking? (Etc. etc.)

  4. The question of Hamas being a terrorist organization, has nothing to do with the proposed mosque as far as I can see. This whole B.S. being pursued by the Right wing/Islamophobia/Zionist propaganda machine is smoke & mirrors. Bush used the fear to pursue his agenda, which the Right is continuing to use, “Fear”, hoping to galvanize the Country against Muslims. I would ask in all fairness then, is it O.K. for Murdock who owns Fox News, the N.Y. Post, among the vast media collection he has amassed, to donate 1 Million dollars to the Republican Party, even though he is Married to a Chinese Citizen, has taken out Chinese citizenship himself, is building a monster home in Beijing, O.K.????

    When the public doesn’t differentiate between the truth & B.S., it’s either because they don’t know any better, or are unable to figure out that they are being herded like a bunch of cattle into a pen. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see or understand what’s behind this dust up, but it does take education, which I might add, has been put on the downward course, especially with “No Child Left Behind”.

    With the Corruption in Government, Wall Street, the continual Looting of the taxpayers, the S.S. campaign to give to wall street, the refusal of the Congress to make good on the I.O.U.’s that Reagan started borrowing from the trust fund, who knows really where it ends? I wonder just what these so called patriots are going to do when they wake up one morning to find that they no longer are who they thought they were yesterday, but are now just like the cattle that are led to slaughter, without any hope of escape?

  5. This Imam really should’ve stayed at home. If you’re going on Faux News, you’d better know what you’re talking about..
    The best response the Imam could’ve given would be something along these lines: “On Hamas, I agree with the Australian and British Governments. They distinguish between the socio-political wing and the militant wing of Hamas; only the militant wing is designated a terrorist organisation. Hamas is the elected representative of the Palestinian people after all. Besides, the State Department has a bad record with their terrorism list, did you know Nobel Peace Prize winner Nelson Mandela was designated a terrorist by them until 2008?”

    Instead by ‘umming’ and ‘aahing’ the Iman looks weak and untrustworthy, and the Faux narrative is reinforced.

    I have been alarmed but not surprised by the amount of times Hamas is mentioned in the discussion on Park 51. Really, what the hell does a tin-pot organisation in the Middle East have to with an islamic community centre in NYC? Exactly nothing. Except that chief anti-Park 51 campaigner Pamlea Geller (among others) is a rabid religious zionist and bangs on about them endlessly. It seems a campaign is underway to make Hamas “untouchables”, despite considerable moderation of their position since the 2nd Intifada: abandoning of suicide bombing in 2005, formal renunciation of suicide bombing in 2006 during election campaigning, support for a long term truce w/ Israel, strictly adhering to the 2008 cease fire (broken by Israel), and the imposition of a unilateral cease-fire by Hamas (not perfectly enforced but Hamas’ resolve on the matter is obvious) in the period after the Gaza Massacre. During the same period (until the rocket death of a Thai worker in March, the first death caused by Gazan action in the 14 months after Jan 2009) about 90 Palestinians in Gaza were killed by the IDF, some militants undoubtedly, but many were not. More have been killed since including a 75 year old man shot near the buffer zone, a 19 year old shot at a protest, and a mother shredded by a flechette missile when she walked out the front door of her house.

    If Hamas to be designated a terrorist organisation, surely the IDF must also.

    An angry Nir Rosen writing during the Gaza Massacre, on the opportunistic application of the label “terrorist”:

    ‘Gaza: the logic of colonial power’

    The nutjob Pamela Geller’s articles for settler paper Israel National News – which she now denies writing:

    Her denial (seems she doesn’t people to know her islamaphobia is related to Israel):

    ‘The Guardian of what?’

  6. The interviewer asks loaded, leading questions, many of which are irrelevant or designed to stir it up, all for an obvious agenda.

    The whole mosque affair is designed to whip up another decade of hating Muslims.

    All thinking people should be utterly tired of the games by now; games that lead us to beleive it’s ok to kill ragged people in far away lands; people who prbably couldn’t even point out London and New York on the map let alone pose a danger to us.

    I am so tired of it.

  7. delia ruhe says

    This is a bit off-topic, but I can’t resist posting this URL for another very educational speech from Chas Freeman. It’s about SaudiA and how Washington is screwing up that relationship too.

  8. Here’s what they call a classic case of sophistry — talk about irrelevant ! How you or I, or how the people interviewed define Hamas — is utterly irrelevant, it really is — it’s exactly the same when you disscuss the I/P conflict, the Pro Zionists will look all moralistic, and suddenly say ” Do you, or do you not beleive Israel has the right to exist…..”

    All of that is irrelevent — who cares what my or your stance is on the above — it’s simply an abstraction — what is important , however, is what the Palestinian people want, what they feel is the way to help them out of a situation of fast becoming the next Native Americans, either wiped out or marginalised out of the picture.

  9. Better we define terrorism.

    How about this:

    “The use or threat of violence outside the laws of war, intended to motivate a change of policy by a group or organisation”