Geller distorts Rauf lecture to falsely paint him as a terrorist sympathizer
Research ››› ››› MATT GERTZ
Right-wing blogger Pamela Geller grossly distorted portions of a 2005 lecture by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf to falsely suggest Rauf is an "extremis[t]" who "supports homicide bombers" and supports the "elimination of Israel." The Drudge Report and Rush Limbaugh have subsequently trumpeted Geller's report.
After Geller pushes distorted view of Rauf lecture, Drudge and Limbaugh trumpet it
Geller pushes "ATLAS EXCLUSIVE!" by taking Rauf out of context. On August 23, Geller posted a heavily edited video consisting of snippets from a July 12, 2005, lecture Rauf gave in Adelaide, Australia, for the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre and The Migrant Resource Center. Geller also published a blog post, headlined "ATLAS EXCLUSIVE! GROUND ZERO MOSQUE IMAM FEISAL'S EXTREMISM EXPOSED: IN HIS OWN WORDS: 'THE UNITED STATES HAS MORE MUSLIM BLOOD ON ITS HANDS THAN AL QAIDA,' ELIMINATION OF ISRAEL, THE N-WORD, and 'FAHRENHEIT 911.'" As the full transcript of the lecture Geller included at the end of her post makes clear, both her commentary in the post and her video grossly distort Rauf's comments.
Drudge: "Ground Zero Imam Says U.S. Worse than al Qaeda." Shortly after 11:30 AM E.T. on August 23, The Drudge Report linked to Geller's video and a blog post about the video by Human Events' Jason Mattera:
Limbaugh airs Geller's audio, says Rauf "sounds like Jeremiah Wright." On his August 23 radio show, Limbaugh aired a portion of Rauf's remarks in which he said that "the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than Al Qaeda has on its hands of innocent non Muslims." Limbaugh commented, "This sounds like Jeremiah Wright. 'America's chickens have come home to roost.'"
Geller attacks Rauf for mainstream observation that U.S. foreign policy spurs terrorism
Geller characterization of Rauf comments: "America Has Blood On Its Hands." In her video, Geller displays the text, "America Has Blood On Its Hands," then airs audio of Rauf saying the following during his lecture:
The complexity arises, sir, from the fact that - from political problems and the history of the politics between the West and the Muslim world. We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than Al Qaeda has on its hands of innocent non Muslims. You may remember that the U.S.-led sanction against Iraq lead to the death of over a half a million Iraqi children. This has been documented by the United Nations. And when Madeleine Albright, who has become a friend of mine over the last couple of years, when she was Secretary of State and was asked whether this was worth it, said it was worth it.
What complicates the discussion, intra-Islamically, is the fact that the West has not been cognizant and has not addressed the issues of its own contribution to much injustice in the Arab and Muslim world. It is a difficult subject to discuss with Western audiences but it is one that must be pointed out and must be raised.
How many of you have seen the documentary: Fahrenheit 911? The vast majority - at least half here.
Likewise, in her blog post, Geller writes (emphasis in the original):
Here are a couple of soundbites of tolerance:
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf: "We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaida has on its hands of innocent non Muslims. You may remember that the US-led sanctions against Iraq led to the death of over half a million Iraqi children. This has been documented by the United Nations. And when Madeleine Albright, who has become a friend of mine over the last couple of years, when she was Secretary of State and was asked whether this was worth it, said it was worth it.
No mention of the 270 million victims of over a millennium of jihadi wars, land appropriations, cultural annihilation and enslavement. No mention of the recent slaughter by Muslims of Christians, Hindus, Jews, non-believers in Indonesia, Thailand, Ethiopia, Somalia, Philippines, Lebanon, Israel, Russia, China................ no candor, no criticism of Islam.
Geller later characterizes Rauf's statements, writing: "Here he blames America. America has Muslim blood on her hands."
Rauf made the uncontroversial point that U.S. foreign policy has contributed to Islamic radicalization. During the lecture, Rauf was asked why the "broader Muslim community" can't "teach their young people that what ['fanatical people'] are doing is really poisoning their minds and it is against their Islamic beliefs." After replying that it "is being done," Rauf discussed "the complexity" of the relationship between the West and the Muslim world and said that "[w]hat complicates the discussion, intra-Islamically, is the fact that the West has not been cognisant and has not addressed the issues of its own contribution to much injustice in the Arab and Muslim world," citing as an example the "US-led sanctions against Iraq":
SPEAKER: The question I have, being Christian, and brought up a Christian but having a great tolerance of other religions, having been privileged to visit middle eastern countries and Africa and having been into mosques and understood Muslim people sharing with me their beliefs, all of that sits really well.
The issue that I don't know the answer to is that where in Islam there are fanatical people who teach their young people to do atrocities, like they have done, like our near neighbours and Jamia Islamia have done, and they do that in the name of Islam, they do it because they regard people like ourselves as infidels, etcetera, and they poison the minds of these young boys and girls to commit these atrocities in the name of Islam with a view to gaining eternal reward.
Why is it that the broader Muslim community, who we can co-exist very peacefully with great acceptance of one another's beliefs, why can't the broader community see that that sort of thing doesn't happen and control it and teach their young people that what those people are doing is really poisoning their minds and it is against their Islamic beliefs which you have alluded to earlier?
IMAM FEISAL ABDUL RAUF: Thank you. That's a very important and excellent question. The answer is it is being done. The broader community is in fact criticising and condemning actions of terrorism that are being done in the name of Islam. I just came from a conference in Jordan, Amman where there were over 170 leading Muslim scholars from almost every part of the Muslim world, including some of the most important names like Sheikh Tantawi of Egypt, Sheikh Ali Gomaa, who is the Chief Mufti of Egypt, the Chief Mufti of Jordan, the Sheikh Al-Qaradawi, who is a very very well known Islamic jurist, highly regarded all over the Muslim world. They included fatwas obtained from people like ..... Istani who could not attend but also issued a fatwa condemning acts of terrorism and stating that the attribution of infidel to others is not something that should be done and is outside of the ethics of Islam.
Islamic law, the text of Islam, the Koran is quite explicit on describing Christians and Jews as people of the book, and throughout Islamic history even Islamic scholars in India have actually included Hindus as being people of the book because Hindus were not yet involved - were not part of the society, of Arabic society, at the time of the prophet.
The complexity arises, sir, from the fact that - from political problems and the history of the politics between the West and the Muslim world. We tend to forget, in the West, that the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than al Qaida has on its hands of innocent non Muslims. You may remember that the US lead sanction against Iraq lead to the death of over half a million Iraqi children. This has been documented by the United Nations. And when Madeleine Albright, who has become a friend of mine over the last couple of years, when she was Secretary of State and was asked whether this was worth it, said it was worth it.
What complicates the discussion, intra-Islamically, is the fact that the West has not been cognisant and has not addressed the issues of its own contribution to much injustice in the Arab and Muslim world. It is a difficult subject to discuss with Western audiences but it is one that must be pointed out and must be raised.
National security experts conclude that U.S. policies and Muslim perceptions of them can lead to terrorism. In a September 9, 2007, Washington Post op-ed headlined "Are we safer today?" Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, former chairman and vice chairman of the 9-11 Commission respectively, wrote: "We face a rising tide of radicalization and rage in the Muslim world -- a trend to which our own actions have contributed. The enduring threat is not Osama bin Laden but young Muslims with no jobs and no hope, who are angry with their own governments and increasingly see the United States as an enemy of Islam." Likewise, in an August 24, 1998, Los Angeles Times column, Graham E. Fuller, former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA, wrote:
There is no monolithic Muslim bloc, but a few deeply held attitudes among the public are quite evident. Broadly speaking, most Muslims feel helpless, weak and resentful in the face of external power at work in their region: The Middle East -- the center of world civilization for several milleniums -- is now beset with masses of poor citizens (apart from the oil states), bad social services, poor education, absence of democracy, constant abuse of human rights, widespread corruption, police states, often brutal rulers, no voice over their own fates; they are victims of truly bad governance in most states of the region.
And what do they perceive? U.S. support for almost any ruler willing to protect U.S. interests -- routinely identified in Washington as oil and Israel. They see a Washington unwilling to act evenhandedly in the Arab-Israeli peace process and infinitely tolerant of a hard-line government in Israel that denies Palestinians land, dignity and statehood. They perceive double standards that allow Israel to violate U.N. resolutions, but not Iraq; that Israeli nukes are OK, but not nukes in Muslim hands. They see routine use of U.S. unilateral military power against Muslim targets that is unparalleled elsewhere in the world. They see themselves routinely humbled by use of overwhelming Israeli military power. They see U.S. military forces in the Gulf as being there to protect ruling families and not populations -- the essence of Osama bin Laden's charge.
These perceptions obviously do not fully reflect reality, and counterarguments can be made in many cases. But perceptions matter mightily since they form the increasingly poisonous psychological backdrop against which distraught and angry Muslims end up championing those who overcome their impotence, stand up to the West and assert Muslim dignity.
Geller falsely claims Rauf's comment shows that he "blames America," claims he "supports homicide bombers." In her blog post, Geller falsely characterizes Rauf's statement, writing of the comment: "Here he blames America. America has Muslim blood on her hands." She later adds that Rauf "supports homicide bombers." In fact, in his response, Rauf said "I'm not saying this to condone," adding that suicide bombing is "completely against Islamic law":
If it's a man who wants to have a wonderful relationship with a woman, you have to see how you look from the eyes of a woman. If you are a white man seeking to deal in Australia with the Aborigines, you have to learn to look at yourself from the eyes of the Aborigines, and you will see things that you cannot see otherwise. The West needs to begin to see themselves through the eyes of the Arab and Muslim world, and when you do you will see the predicament that exists within the Muslim community.
I'm not saying this to condone. Acts like the London bombing are completely against Islamic law. Suicide bombing, completely against Islamic law, completely, 100 per cent. But the facts of the matter is that people, I have discovered, are more motivated by emotion than by logic. If their emotions are in one place and their logic is behind, their emotions will drive their decisions more often than not, and therefore we need to address the emotional state of people and the extent to which those emotions are shaped by things that we can control and we can shape, this is how we will shape a better future. Is that hand still up there?
Geller smears Rauf with claim he "Cast Doubt About The Madrid And London Terrorist Attacks
Geller claimed Rauf defied "common knowledge" about "who the perps were." In her video, Geller displays the text, "Casts Doubt About The Madrid And London Terrorist Attacks," then airs audio of Rauf saying:
In studies that have been made by political historians of terrorism, defined as the -- as militancy against non-combatants and civilians, the point has been made by political historians that terrorism has been done ever since the beginning of time practically, since the time of the Romans for sure, and they were really -- they were designed to achieve very specific target political objectives.
And when we observe terrorism, whether it was done by the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka or by Al Qaeda or whoever is behind the bombings in London or those in Madrid, we can see that they were target political objectives.
In her blog post, Geller comments, "Note, when he says about the London and Madrid bombings, that was five days after the London attacks and over a year after Madrid. It was common knowledge who the perps were at that time." She also writes, "Imam Feisal on who was behind the London and Madrid bombings? Uh, no clue."
Twelve days after Rauf's speech, NY Times reported, "No one can yet say who was behind" the London attacks. While Geller attacked Rauf for referring to "whoever is behind the bombings in London" by claiming that "It was common knowledge who the perps were" when Rauf spoke a few days after those bombings, The New York Times reported twelve days after his speech that "No one can yet say who was behind" the bombings. On July 24, 2005, The New York Times reported (emphasis added):
First came Bali, then Riyadh, Casablanca and Istanbul, then Madrid, Taba, London, and now, Sharm el Sheik, all sites in the last three years of major terrorist attacks involving big bombs aimed at soft targets.
In each case, the attack was quickly described by authorities as having ''the hallmarks of Al Qaeda,'' in the sense that it involved synchronized strikes or sophistication in planning. But to date, none have been traced to Osama bin Laden, the fugitive leader of Al Qaeda, or to other pivotal leaders of what American officials now call Al Qaeda central, to distinguish from its offshoots, admirers and those who its successes have simply inspired.
No one can yet say who was ultimately behind the attacks in London's Underground trains and double-decker buses this month, although the four dead bombers and a handful of other suspects have been identified. The question of who was responsible for the attacks on Saturday in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt's most cosmopolitan Red Sea resort, appears even more of a mystery.
But in the long term, the real significance of the new attacks may be as new points of data in a picture, indicating what Porter J. Goss, the director of central intelligence, portrayed to Congress in March as ''widely dispersed terrorist networks'' that present real dangers to American security.
Citing the attacks in Madrid, Bali, Saudi Arabia and other places, Mr. Goss warned of the dangers posed by the terrorist threat from ''a broader Sunni jihadist movement'' even beyond Al Qaeda.
Agence France Press in 2006: "Investigators believe" Madrid bombings carried out "by a home-grown group sympathetic to Al-Qaeda but not part of the network." Likewise, Geller's claim that Rauf should have know "who was behind" the Madrid bombings is unreasonable. In January 2010, Reuters reported that Spain's leading expert on terrorism said the Madrid bombings "probably were instigated by al Qaeda and were not the work of autonomous cells." But as of April 10, 2006, Agence France Presse was reporting (accessed from the Nexis database): "Investigators believe the attacks were carried out, as in the case of the July 7 2005 bombings in London, by a home-grown group sympathetic to Al-Qaeda but not part of the network."
Geller falsely claims Rauf supports "elimination of Israel"
Geller: Rauf statement that "a one-state solution is a more coherent one" means he wants to "destroy the tiny Jewish state." Geller writes, "Here Imam Feisal speaks of the elimination of Israel. Israel -- a Jewish state no more. Feisal wants one state, not a Jewish state. I guess 57-odd Muslim countries is not enough. They must destroy the tiny Jewish state." She then quotes from Rauf's statement during his lecture in which he says that he supports "peace in the region" and beleves that "a one-state solution is a more coherent one than a two-state solution":
We now have post-Zionism movements in Israel. We have a very broad spectrum of people in Israel who regard Israel as a nation state, as a secular state, as a multicultural state. The very fabric and demographic, and I would say even identity, of Israel has shifted enormously in the last 60 years since its founding. There's always a danger. It only takes one individual to kill someone like Rabin. Rabin was assassinated by a fundamentalist, and there's no doubt that there are those who are against Sharon. But my sense, again from what I've learned, is that those who are supporting the withdrawal from the territories are in the minority - I am sorry, those who support the withdrawal are in the majority. If not, I don't think Sharon would have had the broadbase to do that.
The differences, perhaps, may lie on whether the solution lies in the two-state solution or in a one-state solution. I believe that you had someone here recently who spoke about having a one land and two people's solution to Israel. And I personally - my own personal analysis tells me that a one-state solution is a more coherent one than a two-state solution. But anyway it goes, there is no doubt in my mind that once there is peace, and there will have to be a peace in the region, the fallout of that will be enormously positive.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin: "I would prefer for the Palestinians to be citizens of this country rather than divide the land." On July 15, Haaretz reported:
Two months ago, at a meeting with the Greek ambassador, devoted largely to discussing the financial crisis, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin referred to a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "I would prefer for the Palestinians to be citizens of this country," he said, "rather than divide the land." This was no slip of the tongue. Rivlin's office gave the statement to the press, thereby making him the highest-ranking political figure to have publicly raised the possibility of a single State of Israel from the Mediterranean to the Jordan.
Haaretz also provided the following statement from Rivlin, who is a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party:
"There is a conflict in the Middle East between two entities, and they're both right, each in their own way. This is our only home, and therefore all kinds of solutions can be found. One could establish a system in one state in which Judea and Samaria are jointly held. The Jews would vote for a Jewish parliament and the Palestinians for an Arab parliament, and we would create a system in which life is shared. But these are things that will take time. Anyone who thinks that there are shortcuts is talking nonsense. As long as Islamic fundamentalism thinks that Jews are forbidden to settle in the Holy Land, we have a problem. It will not be resolved by an agreement, even if we obtain a promise from all the Arab states that it will be fine.
"So if people say to me: Decide − one state or division of the Land of Israel, I say that division is the bigger danger. In an Israel with six million Jews it is much easier to sustain the vision of a Jewish and democratic state than it was in 1948. The people who now say that we must separate because otherwise the state will not be democratic or will lose its Jewish character would, for the same reasons, have said that no state should have been founded in 1948.
Former Likud defense minister Arens: "We are already a binational state." On July 15, Haaretz reported:
"The prospects of the negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas do not look promising. President Obama undoubtedly thinks otherwise, but if Abbas speaks for anyone, it's barely half the Palestinians. The chances of anything good coming of this are not great. Another possibility is Jordan. If Jordan were ready to absorb both more territories and more people, things would be much easier and more natural. But Jordan does not agree to this. Therefore, I say that we can look at another option: for Israel to apply its law to Judea and Samaria and grant citizenship to 1.5 million Palestinians."
These remarks, which to many sound subversive, were not voiced by a left-wing advocate of a binational state. The speaker is from the Betar movement, a former top leader in Likud and political patron of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a former defense and foreign affairs minister - Moshe Arens. On June 2, Arens published an op-ed in Haaretz ("Is there another option?" ) in which he urged consideration of a political alternative to the existing situation and the political negotiations. He wants to break the great taboo of Israeli policy making by granting Israeli citizenship to the Palestinians in the West Bank. Arens is not put off by those who accuse him of promoting the idea of a binational Jewish-Palestinian state. "We are already a binational state," he says, "and also a multicultural and multi-sector state. The minorities [meaning Arabs] here make up 20 percent of the population - that's a fact and you can't argue with facts."
Haaretz: Israeli right wing now discussing "alternatives" to two-state solution. Haaretz further reported:
As Washington, Ramallah and Jerusalem slouch toward what seems like a well-known, self-evident solution - two states for two nations, on the basis of the 1967 borders and a small-scale territorial swap - a conceptual breakthrough is taking place in the right wing. Its ideologues are no longer content with rejecting withdrawal and evacuation of settlements, citing security arguments calculated to strike fear into the hearts of the Israeli mainstream. Their new idea addresses the shortcomings of the status quo, takes account of the isolation in which Israel finds itself and acknowledges the need to break the political deadlock.
Once the sole preserve of the political margins, the approach is now being advocated by leading figures in Likud and among the settlers - people who are not necessarily considered extremists or oddballs. About a month before Arens published his article, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud ) said, "It's preferable for the Palestinians to become citizens of the state than for us to divide the country." In an interview this week (see box ), Rivlin reiterates and elaborates this viewpoint. In May 2009, Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely organized a conference in the Knesset titled "Alternatives to Two States." Since then, on a couple of occasions, she has called publicly for citizenship to be granted to the Palestinians "in gradual fashion." Now she is planning to publish a position paper on the subject. Uri Elitzur, former chairman of the Yesha Council of Settlements and Netanyahu's bureau chief in his first term as prime minister, last year published an article in the settlers' journal Nekuda calling for the onset of a process, at the conclusion of which the Palestinians will have "a blue ID card [like Israelis], yellow license plates [like Israelis], National Insurance and the right to vote for the Knesset." Emily Amrousi, a former spokesperson for the Yesha Council, takes part in meetings between settlers and Palestinians and speaks explicitly of "one land in which the children of settlers and the children of Palestinians will be bused to school together."
Geller ludicrously claims Rauf believes "911 was an inside job"
Geller declares Rauf a "conspiracy theorist" because he asked audience if they had seen Fahrenheit 911. In her blog post, Geller claims that "the Imam is conspiracy theorist - 911 was an inside job." But in the portion of Rauf's lecture Geller cites, Rauf simply asks his audience how many of them had seen the documentary Fahrenheit 911 and then references a portion of the film which in no way touches on whether the September 11 attacks were an "inside job." From Geller's post (emphasis in the original):
And the Imam is conspiracy theorist - 911 was an inside job:
How many of you have seen the documentary: Fahrenheit 911? The vast majority - at least half here. Do you remember the scene of the Iraqi woman whose house was bombed and she was just screaming, "What have they done." Now, I don't know, you don't know Arabic but in Arabic it was extremely powerful. Her house was gone. Her husband, I think, was killed. What wrong did he do? I found myself weeping when I watched that scene and I imagined myself if I were a 15-year old nephew of this deceased man, what would I have felt?
Collateral damage is a nice thing to put on a paper but when the collateral damage is your own uncle or cousin, what passions do these arouse? How do you negotiate? How do you tell people whose homes have been destroyed, whose lives have been destroyed, that this does not justify your actions of terrorism. It's hard. Yes, it is true that it does not justify the acts of bombing innocent civilians, that does not solve the problem, but after 50 years of, in many cases, oppression, of US support of authoritarian regimes that have violated human rights in the most heinous of ways, how else do people get attention?