Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

How a Group of Christians Smearing Muslims Benefits the Jewish State

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

How a Group of Christians Smearing Muslims Benefits the Jewish State

Article excerpt

In the course of his much-ridiculed albeit deadly serious ACME bomb speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asserted that "the medieval forces of radical Islam" stand in the way of Israel's desire for "a Middle East of progress and peace." As evidence of these freedom-hating, anti-modern forces supposedly "bent on world conquest," Netanyahu cited the Sept. 11 besieging of U.S. embassies throughout the region.

The Israeli prime minister was repeating a theme he had been given the opportunity to develop earlier in an interview on prime-time American television. Addressed by NBC's "Meet the Press" host David Gregory as "the leader of the Jewish people" (Gregory himself is Jewish), Netanyahu was asked whether he thought a "containment strategy" would work on Iran, as it had with the Soviet Union. Iran was different, Netanyahu responded, because its "rationality" could not be relied upon since it is "guided by a leadership with an unbelievable fanaticism." To emphasize the purported threat of nuclear-armed mullahs in Tehran, the Israeli leader drew a terrifying mental picture for his American audience: "It's the same fanaticism that you see storming your embassies today. You want these fanatics to have nuclear weapons?"

While there is much controversy about the reasons for the assaults on U.S. diplomatic missions on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, widespread Muslim outrage over a YouTube video insulting the Prophet Muhammad was clearly a factor in triggering at least some of the ensuing anti-American riots. In light of Netanyahu's subsequent emphasis on these vivid examples of "fanaticism" to advance the narrative of an Iranian "nuclear threat" in an increasingly unstable region in which Tel Aviv remains Washington's "one reliable ally," it's certainly worth exploring whether the deliberately offensive anti-Islam video may have been the work of pro-Israel provocateurs. As former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski said on NBC's "Morning Joe" regarding what position America should take toward the Muslim world, "If there are evil forces at work trying to provoke violence between us and you, we have the obligation to investigate and to crack down."

In what appears to have been an artfully contrived red herring, initial reports did indeed point to an Israeli source of the provocative video. The Wall Street Journal and Associated Press-two media outlets often accused of pro-Israel bias-were suspiciously credulous of someone claiming to be an Israeli-American real estate developer who said he was the writer and director of "Innocence of Muslims." This "Sam Bacile" gratuitously added that the production had been funded by "about 100 Jewish donors." Almost immediately, the dubious story was debunked by The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg-a former prison guard in the Israel Defense Forces whose reporting has at key junctures served to advance Tel Aviv's interests-when a self-described "militant Christian activist" named Steve Klein assured him that "the State of Israel is not involved." Absolving the Jewish state of any culpability, Klein eagerly pointed the finger at Egyptian Copts and American evangelicals. A self-satisfied Goldberg summed up the story in a tweet: "A group of Christians smearing Muslims libels Jews."

Notwithstanding Goldberg's terse dismissal of an Israeli connection, the Jew-libeling Christians actually turned out to have close ties to the pro-Israel Islamophobia network led by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. Spencer's Jihad Watch group has been indirectly funded by Aubrey Chernick, a Los Angeles-based software security entrepreneur and former trustee of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the influential think tank created in 1985 by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Spencer's provocative writings on Islam are also publicized by The Gatestone Institute, whose founder and director Nina Rosenwald has held leadership positions in AIPAC and other mainstream pro-Israel organizations. …

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