Justin Elliott of Salon fact-checks Bill Kristol’s attack ad on Rush Holt, specifically the part about the NJ congressman earning a “100%” rating from the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Turns out the sole basisfor CAIR’s approval is that Holt voted “no” on the REAL ID Act of 2005, an immigration measure which would have created a de facto national identification card. Salon points out that “other REAL ID opponents included Mike Huckabee and the Wall Street Journal editorial page.”
Attack ads are not known known for their careful recitation of the record. But this is so far from the realm of accuracy that it would be wrong to call it anything but a reckless falsehood.
A pro-Israel group affiliated with conservative commentator William Kristol released a TV ad today targeting Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., and questioning his commitment to the Jewish state.
In the ad, the slammed Holt for signing a letter this year that called for lifting the Israeli blockade of Gaza. The group criticized the six-term Democrat for participating in a conference organized by J Street, a liberal Jewish group that has grown more active in politics this year as it tries to become a counterweight to the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee, known as AIPAC.
EIC called J Street’s event “anti-Israel” in the ad; J Street says it is pro-Israel but backs a “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Kristol, the founder of The Weekly Standard, and Gary Bauer, a well-known conservative who briefly ran for the GOP presidential nomination in 2000, serve on the board of the Emergency Committee for Israel.
ECI is not trying to define ”boundaries of acceptable American politics” but rather to recapture the term “pro-Israel” from those who invoke the label but who take positions that are antithetical to Israel’s interests and that are supportive of Israel’s enemies.
Me — I think it is possible to be a friend of Israel, on the right or the left, and still take positions that are antithetical to Israel’s interests. If Israel weren’t complicated, and its citizenry itself so divided over the issues, this thing would have been solved decades ago. Good friends can disagree. I just wish we could talk about it without labeling one another “enemies” or “friends.” But then I’m not trying to win elections.
Back from Acadia National Park — which was gorgeous, inspiring and completely devoid of Jewish content. I couldn’t even find a Chabad house north of Portland. On a kayaking trip we met a short, gray-bearded guy from West Caldwell who we were sure was a landsman. My wife tried bageling him, but it turned out he was Irish. I’m not complaining, mind you.
JTA did something clever: actually filmed the walk from Ground Zero to the proposed site of the Islamic center two blocks away. For anyone weighing in on this issue, it’s important to get a sense of the physical space, distance and sightlines
Fashion Week Has Jews Torn Between Runway Shows and Rosh Hashanah
Fashion Week kicks off on Thursday Sept. 9, smack in the middle of Rosh Hashanah, a multi-day holiday that observant Jews will celebrate from the night of Sept. 8 through Sept. 10.
In an industry where Jews are well-represented — designers Zac Posen, Diane Von Furstenberg, Marc Jacobs are all Jewish, to name a few — the conflict between haute couture and High Holidays is causing some wrinkles.
In the “great minds” department: This morning I started poking around in anticipation of a future column on sharia (roughly, Islamic law) and whether, as folks like New Gingrich and Daniel Pipes keep telling us, America is this close to having the Constitution replaced by the Koran.
Americans across this country are struggling to understand the true nature of the threat we face from Shariah. They are entitled to straight talk about the extent to which it is being insinuated, promoted and legitimated not only in mosques but by financial institutions, banks, academic institutions and government agencies. Those who fail to provide such unvarnished truths are part of the problem, and should be treated accordingly.)
No sooner had I placed a call to a friendly religion professor than I was sent a link to Lee Smith’s latest story for Tablet, about — you guessed it — how demagogues politicians are using sharia as a scare tactic talking point.
Smith points out that sharia is “an almost hopelessly abstract concept” within Islam itself, and that even in Muslim lands the power rests not with practitioners of “sharia” but with the laws of the ruler.
More importantly, the boys who cry “sharia,” in exaggerating the power of American Muslims to shape American jurisprudence and “insinuate” Islamic law into its institutions, have an incredible lack of faith in America itself. Writes Smith:
….Muslim societies have historically treated non-Muslims as second-class citizens, with the status of protected peoples, or dhimmis. While this principle obviously runs against the grain of American culture, it is hard to see how it possibly threatens non-Muslim U.S. citizens, or even American Muslims of the Shiite sect who, since they are considered heretics by the Sunnis, have usually suffered worse fates than Christians and Jews in Sunni-majority lands. When Gingrich argues that “radical Islamists want to impose Sharia on all of us,” I can’t imagine how he sees that happening, short of the largest land invasion in human history of foreign Muslim soldiers, administrators, and religious scholars with the connivance of millions of Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and pagan American collaborators. And look out, Mitt Romney and the Mormons!
The stealth scenario is slightly less preposterous—jihadis insinuating their way through our legal and political systems to slowly Islamize a credulous U.S. public degree by degree—but many times more repugnant. It is necessarily premised on the idea of a United States that has lost all faith and confidence in its own values and an intellectual and political elite too stupid to tell the difference between our founding principles and Islamic obscurantism. In this scenario, the same nation that came out of its Civil War a more perfect union is now just a few headscarves and beards away from becoming a Taliban backwater.
In imagining the practice of Islam as the first stage of a plan to control the American people, purveyors of Sharia-phobia are like the anti-Communists who opposed water fluoridation in the 1940s and 1950s:
The very ugly controversy over the planned Islamic center — not at Ground Zero, mind you, and not even within eyeshot — has managed to make fools or knaves out of some pretty smart people. Some of them have embarked on a fruitless hunt for the perfect analogy. The winner, as you might have imagined, goes to that evil cherub Newt Gingrich, formerly of Georgia but now of any meeting hall with a spotlight. He said approving the mosque “would be like putting a Nazi sign next to the Holocaust museum.”
Gingrich keeps trying. Earlier he had argued that since there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia, “there should be no mosque near Ground Zero.” But the mosque is not Saudi Arabian; it is Islamic, a distinction not all that hard to keep in mind. The comparison to a Nazi sign at the Holocaust museum is equally specious. Every Nazi was dedicated to the persecution and/or murder of all Jews. This is not the case with Islam and the attack on the World Trade Center. That attack was conducted by a handful of fanatics, not an entire religion.
Saletan debunks a few myths, including this one:
5. Terrorists will see the mosque as a triumph. This objection, a Gingrich favorite, has now been taken up [Debra Burlingame, the co-founder of 9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America]. She says of the mosque:
“Those who continue to target and kill American civilians and U.S. troops will see it as a symbol of their historic progress at the site of their most bloody victory. Demolishing a building that was damaged by wreckage from one of the hijacked planes in order to build a mosque and Islamic Center will further energize those who regard it as a ratification of their violent and divinely ordered mission: the spread of shariah law. …”
This is another derivative and dangerous argument. On this view, the nature of the Islamic center and the motives of its sponsors don’t matter. Nor do the perceptions of ordinary Muslims around the world. What matters is al-Qaida’s perception. If al-Qaida thinks it’s a statement of conquest, we should oppose it. In this way, we make ourselves al-Qaida’s slaves.