Right-wing media figures have freaked out over a video of White House adviser John Brennan mentioning his love for "Al Quds -- Jerusalem," with some asserting that Brennan had used the "Islamist name" to refer to Jerusalem. In fact, "Al Quds" is simply the Arabic word for Jerusalem, which other prominent political leaders have also used.
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Conservative media freak out over video of Brennan talking about "Al Quds -- Jerusalem"
Gateway Pundit: "Listen to this nut ..." On May 19, Gateway Pundit blogger Jim Hoft posted a YouTube video containing a portion of a speech by Brennan that includes a "WH.gov" graphic. In the post, titled "Top Obama Officials Now Calling Jerusalem 'Al-Quds,' " Hoft wrote, "Top Obama advisor John Brennan talks about his love for 'al-Quds.' Listen to this nut..." In the video, Brennan says:
But I did spend time as an undergraduate at the American University in Cairo in the 1970s. And time spent with classmates from Egypt, from Jordan, from Palestine, and around the world who taught me that whatever our differences of nationality or race or religion or language, there are certain aspirations that we all share: to get an education. To provide for our families. To practice our faith freely. To live in peace and security. And during a 25-year career in government, I was privileged to serve in positions across the Middle East -- as a political officer with the State Department and as a CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia. In Saudi Arabia, I saw how our Saudi partners fulfilled their duty as custodians of the two holy mosques of Mecca and Medina. I marveled at the majesty of the Hajj and the devotion of those who fulfilled their duty as Muslims by making that privilege -- that pilgrimage. And in all my travels, the city I have come to love most is Al-Quds -- Jerusalem, where three great faiths come together.
Hoft gave no indication of where or when Brennan was speaking -- other than his misleading suggestion in the headline that Obama administration officials are "now" calling Jerusalem "Al-Quds" -- or who was in the audience. In fact, according to the full video posted on the White House website, Brennan delivered the speech on February 13 at "a public forum co-hosted by the White House Office of Public Engagement and the Islamic Center at New York University." The video shows that, prior to the portion of the speech used by Hoft, Brennan told a story in Arabic (5:40 in the video).
Beck: "You don't just buy into the fact that Jerusalem's name isn't even Jerusalem." On his May 20 radio show, Glenn Beck stated, "Now, let's listen to" Brennan "and what he just said." He then played a brief clip of Brennan saying, "In all my travels, the city I have come to love most is Al-Quds -- Jerusalem." Beck subsequently commented, "If he hadn't have just said it, I have never heard of Al Quds. Have you? It is the Arab name for the city of Jerusalem. ... If you're talking to a bunch of -- I don't even know, Muslims, Arabs -- whoever you're speaking to -- you could say, 'The city I love the best is Jerusalem -- Al-Quds.' You give the tip of the hat to the other direction. You don't just buy into the fact that Jerusalem's name isn't even Jerusalem."
Limbaugh: Brennan was "saying that his city he has loved most in all of his travels is Al Quds, the Islamist name for Jerusalem." On his May 20 radio show, Rush Limbaugh played portions of Brennan's speech and said, " 'Al Quds' is the Islamist name for Jerusalem. He's speaking at New York University. At the law school. He's not speaking to a Muslim group. He's speaking to a class, students at New York University, and his first reference to Jerusalem is to Al Quds." After playing another portion of the speech, Limbaugh said:
I guess it was a Muslim audience at New York University. This was February 13th, 2010. This is months ago. I do not have a translation on the Arabic portion of what he said. But there was laughter at a couple points in that, and then he said don't tell the folks who don't speak Arabic what I said. OK.
So in February we have the national security adviser for homeland security and counterterrorism speaking in Arabic to, I guess a Muslim audience at NYU Law School in English saying that his city he has loved most in all of his travels is Al Quds, the Islamist name for Jerusalem.
Right-wing blogs spread message. In a May 20 post, Breitbart.tv embedded the YouTube video and used the headline " 'Al-Quds': Top Obama Advisor Refers to Jerusalem by Arabic Name." In a May 20 National Review Online post headlined "Obama's 'Moderate' Hezbo Guy: 'The city I have come to love most is al-Quds,' " Andy McCarthy wrote, "Yes, al-Quds. That would be Jerusalem -- or, rather, what Islamists call Jerusalem." He later wrote, "Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit has the clip, here."
"Al Quds" is the Arabic word for Jerusalem
Guardian: "Quds" is "the Arabic name for Jerusalem." A December 10, 2008, Guardian article about letters sent to Jerusalem that are addressed to God stated, "People write from all over the world, but this year a letter arrived from Morocco. The envelope read simply, 'Quds', the Arabic name for Jerusalem. It's the first time someone from the Arab world has written to God in Israel, Yaniv says."
Bar-Ilan University website: "[T]he current Arabic name for Jerusalem" is "Al Quds." A page on Bar-Ilan University's website states, "According to the historian Moshe Gil the current Arabic name for Jerusalem -- Al Quds, similar to the Hebrew HaQadosh -- 'the Holy' began being commonly used in the 11th century and even appears in Jewish documents found in the Cairo Geniza."
Other political figures -- including a former member of the Reagan administration -- have referred to "Al Quds"
Former Reagan official: "If we refuse to work out a way to allow Muslims a place in Al Quds, we expand the conflict." Marshall J. Breger, whose Jewish Policy Center biography says he was "special assistant to President Reagan and his liaison to the Jewish Community," wrote in the May/June 2010 issue of Moment magazine:
You will never get to peace without some kind of compromise on Jerusalem: Jerusalem is both a nationalist issue for Israelis and Palestinians and a religious issue for Jews and Muslims. If we refuse to work out a way to allow Muslims a place in Al Quds, we expand the conflict beyond the Palestinians to all Muslims and we ensure religious conflict with Islam for generations. And don't be so sure that the Christian world will remain quiet on this subject.
President Clinton: "[T]he city of Jerusalem is not just 'Yerushalayim' for the Israelis and 'Al-Quds' for the Palestinians." From a Federal News Service transcript of a July 26, 2000, press availability (from the Nexis database):
Q On the Middle East, Mr. President, the Palestinians are saying the deal on the table on Jerusalem is just not doable. If that's the case, how can there ever be a compromise?
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, first of all, let me try to frame this in a way that I think that the Palestinians and the Israelis, and I would hope other friends of peace around the world, would think about it.
We all know how hard Jerusalem is because it goes to the sense of identity of both the Palestinian and the Israeli people, and in a larger sense the adherents of Islam and Judaism and Christianity all around the world. And in a sense, therefore, the city of Jerusalem is not just "Yerushalayim" for the Israelis and "Al-Quds" for the Palestinians. It is a holy place that reaches beyond even the geographical boundaries of the city.
Then-Israeli Prime Minister Barak referred to Palestinians potentially having "their capital, Al-Quds." In a September 20, 2000, CNN special called Arafat and Barak: The Quest for Peace, Christiane Amanpour said to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, "When I asked him [Yasser Arafat] why he decided not to sign a partial agreement and defer Jerusalem, he said, 'I have signed many interim agreements, even with Prime Minister Barak at Sharm el Sheikh, and nothing has been implemented.' That's his position." Barak, who was the most decorated soldier in the history of the Israel Defense Forces, replied (from Nexis):
Except for the end of the sentence, it's not true that it has not been implemented. We were fully, kind of, following very carefully every commitment ourself, but I agree with the rest of it. There is already enough of interim agreements. It's a time to put an end to the conflict. Even if we defer or delay certain elements, they should be confined in a way in terms of procedure and possible content so that we will be able to say, "This is the end of the conflict."
And if we get an end of the conflict, permanent borders for Israel, 80 percent of our settlers in seven blocks that might cover 11 or 12 percent of the overall area and a Jerusalem which is not ideal, but is wider and stronger and recognized by the whole world -- is something that Israelis are not aware of, that most of the world has not yet recognized Jerusalem as our capital.
But if we have this Jerusalem united under our sovereignty and the Palestinians will have their capital, Al-Quds, adjacent to it, with certain elements, the correct nature of which we cannot detail here in front of camera, I believe that we have changed the future of the Middle East and it's worth any effort that could be made by human beings as leaders in order to achieve.