Prof. Phyllis Chesler
The writer, a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum and recipient of the 2013 National Jewish Book Award, is the author of sixteen books, including Women and Madness, Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman, and The New Anti-Semitism. She has written four studies about honor killing, Her latest books are An American Bride in Kabul, (Palgrave Macmillan) and Living History: On The Front Lines for Israel and the Jews.Professor Chesler may be reached at her website www.phyllis-chesler.com
The headline reads: “Cleric’s Death Stirs Memories of a Seminal Attack.” The New York Times article is about the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. The “cleric,” Omar Abdel Rahman, is the “blind sheikh.” The use of the word “cleric” instantly calls to mind a man of God, presumably, therefore, a man of Peace.
His lawyer, Lynn F. Stewart, (who had been convicted of passing messages for Rahman from his jail cell and who was released years ago for compassionate reasons), is also presented as a sympathetic figure, as someone who is “speaking from her hospital bed in Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan.” Her view of the Sheikh’s “fiery rhetoric was a matter of free speech, a belief shared by many in the Arab world.”
Worse. Stewart describes the Sheikh as “the latest in a long line of American heroes who were convicted wrongfully” and as yet another victim of American injustice. Stewart says: “We can name a lot of names in American history where people were convicted of not doing anything.”
Not doing anything?
Rahman was a follower of Sayyid Qutb and a close associate of Osama Bin Laden as was one of Rahman’s sons. Rahman led an organization (Jam’a al-Islamiya) that was deemed a “terrorist” group by both the Egyptian and American governments. His group murdered 58 foreign tourists in Luxor, Egypt. Rahman issued the fatwa which approved the assassination of President Anwar Sadat—and he issued the fatwa which approved Bin Laden’s 9/11 attacks on America.
In his New York City based sermons, Rahman advised his followers to “rob banks and kill Jews.” One of his followers assassinated Rabbi Meir Kahane.
And yet, Stewart considers him an “American hero.”
This article is one among thousands of similar articles that are publishing dis-information about the dangers of Islamic Jihad; note, I am not writing: “the dangers posed by Muslims.”
Only at the end of the third paragraph does the article mention, in passing, that six people were killed that terrible day in February of 1993; we do not learn that one thousand people were also wounded until the end of the tenth paragraph.
We definitely are not told the specifics of the “conspiracy” for which he was convicted. The anti-American cleric is described as “serving a life sentence for plotting a series of assaults never carried out: bombs to be set in tunnels and buildings in an attack designed to bring New York to its knees.”
In fact, Rahman and his followers planned to blow up the United Nations, the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, the George Washington Bridge, and a federal building which housed the FBI—and all within ten minutes.
What a nice “cleric.” But not necessarily an Arab or a Muslim one. At least, the article does not say so. Perhaps many other NYT articles have already revealed this information when the Sheikh died a few days ago and the Paper of Record did not think it needed repeating.
America is at a cross-roads in terms of our immigration policies. So many Americans are demonstrating on behalf of an open door policy, specifically for Muslim refugees; rallies proclaim that “I am a Muslim Too,” rally-goers wear or wave posters of women wearing the American flag as hijab (Islamic headscarf).
These rallies are taking place at a time when more and more Jewish American Centers—not American mosques–are being bomb-threatened. I am waiting for a large, interfaith rally, organized by Muslims, which proclaims that “I am a Jew, too.”
The Messiah will come before that happens.
How did Rahman get into our country? How did he manage to stay here?
Either via a series of blunders and accidents; via extreme cleverness on his part; or via secret, American government assistance.
Internet based sources reveal that Rahman should never have been allowed into the United States and once the authorities realized that he was a potential danger, it is hard to account for the fact that he still obtained a tourist visa, a green card, and permanent resident status. When Rahman’s status was, finally, being revoked, he was nevertheless allowed to return to New York in order to appeal the decision. He failed to do so and his green card was revoked in 1992. At this point, Rahman requested political asylum. His hearing was held in January, 1993.
The next month he “spiritually” ordered the first bombing of the World Trade Center.
P.S. Today, a column by Jim Dwyer in the NYT describes one of the Sheikh’s victims as the “radical racist rabbi Meir Kahane.” While Dwyer does describe Rahman as a “preacher of fundamentalist Islamic theology,” he does not characterize him as a “radical racist.” I can’t imagine why not.
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