San Francisco's Jewish Leadership Embraces Their Personal Jihad

When buses of the San Francisco Municipal Railway began sporting ads announcing Pamela Geller's retort to CAIR's, this is my jihad as campaign, the local Jewish community leadership practically stampeded over itself to denounce Geller and her organization, the American Freedom Defense Initiative.  In a Jewish community where the leadership would have difficulty agreeing on when the Sabbath starts, the specter of "Islamophobia" created an almost unprecedented unity not seen since Muhamud Abbas became leader of the PLO.  Then, Jewish skeptics and critics of Abbas were advised to remain silent.  Abbas presented a new hope for peace. We should remain silent while he mobilizes his people to pursue that quest. And we all know how prescient that perspective was.

The wondrous thing about being a Jewish community leader here is that getting it wrong never compromises the arrogance and intensity with which you pronounce the next absurdity.  Leadership has its privileges and the right to be naïve -- if not just pathetically stupid -- is one of them.

When in 2006 the Arabs, Muslims, and their leftist allies picketed the San Francisco Israeli Consulate and carried signs in Arabic saying, "The Jews are Our Dogs" the local Jewish leadership also stampeded -- to remain silent that is.  The slogan is brutally offensive as it originated with Haj Amin Al Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and wartime ally of Adolf Hitler, and served as a rallying cry for pogroms in Mandate Palestine.

And where the leaders of the Arab and Islamic communities were is anybody's guess, but they weren't visibly denouncing those signs.  Indeed, I can't remember even one of our prominent politicians standing on the steps of San Francisco City Hall and denouncing anti-Semitism the way they are currently and publicly denouncing purported Islamophobia 

For evil to happen requires nothing more than good men to remain silent, says San Francisco District Attorney George Gascone, from the steps of City Hall before scores of cameras, as he denounces Geller's campaign as Islamophobic. What is worse than saying nothing is for people like Gascone to abet evil by concealing it and transmuting it into something it is not. 

When Omeed Aziz Popal, a member of the Afghan community of Fremont, drove some forty miles through heavy freeway traffic and then through congest urban traffic to the neighborhood of San Francisco's Jewish Community Center and Temple Emanu-El to purposely run people over, this was considered a tragic case of an individual experiencing a  mental breakdown.  Mayor Gavin Newsom joined the chorus of denial and called the act "utterly inexplicable."        The Jewish leadership failed to ask the obvious question: with all the places this individual could have chosen to try and kill people, why did he go to the area around the Jewish Community Center?  Was this his jihad?  

It is, of course, morally reprehensible to judge all Muslims by the actions of a minority. At the same time, it is morally reprehensible to condemn as racists those who expose Hamas's actual statement during the last conflict in Gaza, "Killing Jews is worship that draws us close to Allah. Arise, oh determined men. The color of [the Martyr's] blood protects the land."  It would seem that the statement is racist and hateful, and that exposing is not only legitimate, it is also an exercise in moral virtue. Putting it on a bus and calling people's attention to it is an exercise in civic obligation.

Did the leaders of the Jewish community, the Muslims who are appalled by seeing this statement on a municipal bus, or the San Francisco politicians who are condemning the current advert campaign have anything to say condemning Hamas's statement?  Did anyone say that we condemn Hamas's hate speech, but we are worried that people who see it might unfairly infer that it characterizes all Muslims?  Absolutely not.  Indeed, this might have been an appropriate response from those who were concerned about unfairly painting all Muslims with the same brush. The only thing that the Jewish and Muslim spokespersons and the grandstanding local politicians could agree on was that exposing the statement was hate speech, and the truth of the allegation, in the world of Islamophobia, was not a defense. 

That the majority of Muslims are not extremists is no more meaningful in understanding the Islamist threat than realizing that the majority of Germans were not Nazis. The majority of good people who are aloof from any political movement are inconsequential in writing the historical narrative.  Political minorities make history.  Lenin took a country that was 97 percent agricultural and made a proletariat revolution by mobilizing a minority of the revolutionary proletariat and calling them the majority (Bolsheviks).  Louis Bonaparte overthrew the French Second Republic with a political base that was numerically inconsequential.  Kermit Roosevelt overthrew the elected government of Mohammed Mossadeg with an organized coup that barely numbered in the thousands.  Mussolini similarly came to power, and Hitler never received a majority of the votes of the German people. And if George Washington got the support of a third of colonial America, he got a lot.

Revolutions are made by charismatic leaders dispensing ideologies that mobilize intensely committed minorities. It didn't make a difference that Lenin's oppressive state, built in a peasant society, looked nothing like Marx's vision of a humane society emerging from the revolt of the industrial proletariat against the organs of the state.  It didn't make a difference that Hitler's Aryan superman could be parodied as being as blond as Hitler, as tall as Goebbles, and as svelt as Goerring.  It doesn't make a difference that Al Qaeda's or the Salafist's vision of Islam looks nothing like the Islam that our neighbors practice.  What counts, regrettably, is who speaks in the name of an ideology and who organizes in that name.

In this country, CAIR, an organization linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, appears to often speak for Islam, and most Muslims have not sought to change that perception. Pamela Geller's group challenged CAIR's campaign to make jihad look like self-transformation instead of holy war.

Here is something the Jewish leadership everywhere should think about. Wherever there is a rising tide of Muslim immigrants there is a growth of virulent anti-Semitism.  The Jews of Malmo, Sweden are leaving. One hundred and fifty thousand French Jews have expressed the desire to leave France in the face of rising Muslim-spawned anti-Semitism. In Brussels, a Jewish School is moving because of concerns for the safety of Jewish children in a Muslim neighborhood.  In Manchester, England special police guard the King David School. The Jewish Community Center I visited in Florence, Italy looks like an armed camp, with uniformed military protecting it.  All of this is in response to a rising Muslim population carrying with it a new source of anti-Semitism.

Of course, not all Muslims are anti-Semites and neither were all Germans. Not all Eastern Europeans volunteered to become Hitler's willing executioners.  Not all Iranians support the Mullahs and their theocracy.  But saying that is not sufficient, for where there are large organized minorities ripe for both exploitation and political mobilization what the majority is doing is insignificant.

In the rush to be above the fray, to appear compassionate, and to celebrate an image of tolerance, the San Francisco Jewish community leadership has failed not just the Jewish community but also all those -- including moderate Muslims -- who are appalled by the people who have seized on Islam as an organizing principle to perpetuate hate and deception. These Jewish leaders aid the deceptions that threaten our very civilization because they hide the reality of what jihad has come to mean to those who exploit Islam as a force for violent political change.  It would appear that the Jewish community leadership's current apoplexy over Islamophobia is really their jihad.  I fear them more than I fear my Muslim neighbors whose daily concerns are no different than anyone else's and whose alleged leaders speak in their name, as mine speak for me, without the least representing us.

When buses of the San Francisco Municipal Railway began sporting ads announcing Pamela Geller's retort to CAIR's, this is my jihad as campaign, the local Jewish community leadership practically stampeded over itself to denounce Geller and her organization, the American Freedom Defense Initiative.  In a Jewish community where the leadership would have difficulty agreeing on when the Sabbath starts, the specter of "Islamophobia" created an almost unprecedented unity not seen since Muhamud Abbas became leader of the PLO.  Then, Jewish skeptics and critics of Abbas were advised to remain silent.  Abbas presented a new hope for peace. We should remain silent while he mobilizes his people to pursue that quest. And we all know how prescient that perspective was.

The wondrous thing about being a Jewish community leader here is that getting it wrong never compromises the arrogance and intensity with which you pronounce the next absurdity.  Leadership has its privileges and the right to be naïve -- if not just pathetically stupid -- is one of them.

When in 2006 the Arabs, Muslims, and their leftist allies picketed the San Francisco Israeli Consulate and carried signs in Arabic saying, "The Jews are Our Dogs" the local Jewish leadership also stampeded -- to remain silent that is.  The slogan is brutally offensive as it originated with Haj Amin Al Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and wartime ally of Adolf Hitler, and served as a rallying cry for pogroms in Mandate Palestine.

And where the leaders of the Arab and Islamic communities were is anybody's guess, but they weren't visibly denouncing those signs.  Indeed, I can't remember even one of our prominent politicians standing on the steps of San Francisco City Hall and denouncing anti-Semitism the way they are currently and publicly denouncing purported Islamophobia 

For evil to happen requires nothing more than good men to remain silent, says San Francisco District Attorney George Gascone, from the steps of City Hall before scores of cameras, as he denounces Geller's campaign as Islamophobic. What is worse than saying nothing is for people like Gascone to abet evil by concealing it and transmuting it into something it is not. 

When Omeed Aziz Popal, a member of the Afghan community of Fremont, drove some forty miles through heavy freeway traffic and then through congest urban traffic to the neighborhood of San Francisco's Jewish Community Center and Temple Emanu-El to purposely run people over, this was considered a tragic case of an individual experiencing a  mental breakdown.  Mayor Gavin Newsom joined the chorus of denial and called the act "utterly inexplicable."        The Jewish leadership failed to ask the obvious question: with all the places this individual could have chosen to try and kill people, why did he go to the area around the Jewish Community Center?  Was this his jihad?  

It is, of course, morally reprehensible to judge all Muslims by the actions of a minority. At the same time, it is morally reprehensible to condemn as racists those who expose Hamas's actual statement during the last conflict in Gaza, "Killing Jews is worship that draws us close to Allah. Arise, oh determined men. The color of [the Martyr's] blood protects the land."  It would seem that the statement is racist and hateful, and that exposing is not only legitimate, it is also an exercise in moral virtue. Putting it on a bus and calling people's attention to it is an exercise in civic obligation.

Did the leaders of the Jewish community, the Muslims who are appalled by seeing this statement on a municipal bus, or the San Francisco politicians who are condemning the current advert campaign have anything to say condemning Hamas's statement?  Did anyone say that we condemn Hamas's hate speech, but we are worried that people who see it might unfairly infer that it characterizes all Muslims?  Absolutely not.  Indeed, this might have been an appropriate response from those who were concerned about unfairly painting all Muslims with the same brush. The only thing that the Jewish and Muslim spokespersons and the grandstanding local politicians could agree on was that exposing the statement was hate speech, and the truth of the allegation, in the world of Islamophobia, was not a defense. 

That the majority of Muslims are not extremists is no more meaningful in understanding the Islamist threat than realizing that the majority of Germans were not Nazis. The majority of good people who are aloof from any political movement are inconsequential in writing the historical narrative.  Political minorities make history.  Lenin took a country that was 97 percent agricultural and made a proletariat revolution by mobilizing a minority of the revolutionary proletariat and calling them the majority (Bolsheviks).  Louis Bonaparte overthrew the French Second Republic with a political base that was numerically inconsequential.  Kermit Roosevelt overthrew the elected government of Mohammed Mossadeg with an organized coup that barely numbered in the thousands.  Mussolini similarly came to power, and Hitler never received a majority of the votes of the German people. And if George Washington got the support of a third of colonial America, he got a lot.

Revolutions are made by charismatic leaders dispensing ideologies that mobilize intensely committed minorities. It didn't make a difference that Lenin's oppressive state, built in a peasant society, looked nothing like Marx's vision of a humane society emerging from the revolt of the industrial proletariat against the organs of the state.  It didn't make a difference that Hitler's Aryan superman could be parodied as being as blond as Hitler, as tall as Goebbles, and as svelt as Goerring.  It doesn't make a difference that Al Qaeda's or the Salafist's vision of Islam looks nothing like the Islam that our neighbors practice.  What counts, regrettably, is who speaks in the name of an ideology and who organizes in that name.

In this country, CAIR, an organization linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, appears to often speak for Islam, and most Muslims have not sought to change that perception. Pamela Geller's group challenged CAIR's campaign to make jihad look like self-transformation instead of holy war.

Here is something the Jewish leadership everywhere should think about. Wherever there is a rising tide of Muslim immigrants there is a growth of virulent anti-Semitism.  The Jews of Malmo, Sweden are leaving. One hundred and fifty thousand French Jews have expressed the desire to leave France in the face of rising Muslim-spawned anti-Semitism. In Brussels, a Jewish School is moving because of concerns for the safety of Jewish children in a Muslim neighborhood.  In Manchester, England special police guard the King David School. The Jewish Community Center I visited in Florence, Italy looks like an armed camp, with uniformed military protecting it.  All of this is in response to a rising Muslim population carrying with it a new source of anti-Semitism.

Of course, not all Muslims are anti-Semites and neither were all Germans. Not all Eastern Europeans volunteered to become Hitler's willing executioners.  Not all Iranians support the Mullahs and their theocracy.  But saying that is not sufficient, for where there are large organized minorities ripe for both exploitation and political mobilization what the majority is doing is insignificant.

In the rush to be above the fray, to appear compassionate, and to celebrate an image of tolerance, the San Francisco Jewish community leadership has failed not just the Jewish community but also all those -- including moderate Muslims -- who are appalled by the people who have seized on Islam as an organizing principle to perpetuate hate and deception. These Jewish leaders aid the deceptions that threaten our very civilization because they hide the reality of what jihad has come to mean to those who exploit Islam as a force for violent political change.  It would appear that the Jewish community leadership's current apoplexy over Islamophobia is really their jihad.  I fear them more than I fear my Muslim neighbors whose daily concerns are no different than anyone else's and whose alleged leaders speak in their name, as mine speak for me, without the least representing us.

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