Earlier today, on Al-Jazeera, Osama Bin Laden threatened to start killing Americans taken hostage if America executes Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, whom Bin Laden described as a “mujahid and hero.” Despite President Obama’s attempts to appease the Muslim world, nothing he’s done (yet) is good enough for either Ahmadinejad or Bin Laden, who said:
“Your master in the White House continues to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor in many important matters, like his escalation of the war in Afghanistan and the oppression of our prisoners you are holding – first and foremost among them the mujahid and hero, Khaled Sheikh Muhammad. The White House declared that it wanted to execute them. The day the US makes this decision, it will have made the decision to execute those of you who fall prisoner to us.” (Thanks, as ever, to Jeffrey Imm, who immediately alerted me).
But not to worry. I am sure that American left lawyers will fight so hard for their Gitmo prisoners that there may be no executions. On the other hand: If America fills up its jails with terrorists as Israel has been forced to do, why then, all the jihadists will be demanded in return for the release of the next American captured; yes, all of them for one, just as in the case of Israeli Sergeant Gilad Shalit.
We have also just been told that Islamist terrorists are surgically implanting bombs (not silicone) into breasts so that female terrorists can blow themselves up on plane—while Al-Qaeda’s Mastermind threatens the American President with an eye-for-an-eye.
Meanwhile, the American left is busily hosting the triumphantly arrived Tariq Ramadan, the grandson and heir to the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood and other smooth Islamist and pro-Islamist speakers. Next week, in New York City, at the Great Hall at Cooper Union (a place I once knew well), Ramadan will be speaking together with Ian Buruma (see below), Dahlia Mogahed, and Joan Wallach Scott, with whom I once crossed swords over Scott’s support for the boycott and divestment in Israel. I do not know if I’ll have the stomach to attend. Ramadan is not my problem, I know him for the snake he is. Rather, it would be the sight of so many Americans who’ve glamorized him, who are fooled by him, who have come to worship Death at his feet. I may recognize too many of them personally.
Just the other day, I was in a restaurant and noticed that a very old left feminist friend was there too. She was talking a little too loudly, her eyes were very wide and I deftly turned my back and slipped out. I shocked myself. Trust me: In the past, we would have greeted each other warmly and had the most cultured of conversations. Given her perfidy on the subjects of both America and Israel, I truly have nothing to say to her. At least not privately. Steering clear of that elephant in the room is beyond me. Wasting my time in superficial conversation for “old time’s sake” is a luxury I can no longer afford.
Bin Laden is not our biggest problem. There’s also the Palestinian and Arab invasion of the cultural scene. It’s one thing that they’ve done so on American campuses. It’s quite another thing when they do so in film and literary festivals. On the one hand, I want to promote Muslim dissidents, Muslim moderates, Muslim secularists, Muslims who are not Islamists and who are ready to stand together with infidels to fight jihad—but it is another thing when the speakers, including Muslims and Arabs who are featured, have purposely been chosen for their (hopefully) anti-American, anti-Western, anti-imperialist points of view. Thus, PEN, an increasingly left-oriented writers group with some spectacularly impressive members, whose chair is Salman Rushdie and whose President is Anthony Appiah, has invited not only Ian Buruma (a Dutch-British writer and academic who has savagely and unfairly critiqued Ayaan Hirsi Ali), but also many artists from Egypt, Syria, Morocco, Pakistan, Lebanon Afghanistan, Iran, India–including “Palestine.”
I welcome the large contingent from the Arab and Muslim world, but exactly what does PEN mean when they describe someone like novelist and translator Randa Jarrar as representing “Palestine?” She seems to have been born in Chicago, grew up in Kuwait and Egypt and then moved to New York when she was a young teenager. She apparently studied creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College, Middle East Studies at the University of Texas in Austin, and creative writing at the University of Michigan—and now lives in Texas.
None of these universities are located on the West Bank or in Gaza. Nor is Texas. Thus, what can PEN mean by identifying Jarrar as a native of “The United States/Palestine/Egypt”? Is saying that someone is from “Palestine” (even if they are not, even if their ancestors once lived in Egypt, Syria, Jordan, or even in Trans-Jordan) to be taken as a symbol of PEN’s political allegiance? To what? To worldwide Revolution aka Al-Qaeda, The Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah? Shouldn’t PEN’s political allegiance be to the writers whose work is censored, who are jailed and tortured, whose very lives are taken by precisely such terrorist regimes?
On the other hand, Imad Farajin, the playwright, and another PEN participant, seems to honestly, truly, be a native of the West Bank and has performed in plays in Ramallah where he, himself, was born. Not where his great-grandfather was born.
Had PEN asked me, I would have suggested that they consider inviting at least the following Muslim and ex-Muslim speakers: Turkish-American feminist author, Zeyno Baran, who has just edited and introduced a very important book, The Other Muslims: Moderate and Secular; and Ibn Warraq, the author of many books, including Defending the West: A Critique of Edward Said’s Orientaism, Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out, and his forthcoming collection of essays, Virgins? What Virgins? And Other Essays. I would also have suggested Marnia Lazreg, an Algerian-American who has written an elegant book titled Questioning the Veil: Open Letters to Muslim Women .
Then again, what do I know?