January 16, 2016
Defaming a faith with 1.6 billion followers
Propaganda and Islam: What you’re not Being Told


Propaganda is the wheel by which the government steers the bus of a nation; typically driving it into war or off the cliff of humanity. It is amazing to see how many people who are otherwise rational human beings will blindly follow the herd on the matter of how subhuman a perceived national enemy is.

The western media wonderfully paints Islam as a death cult bent on world domination. Over and over again the American populace is shown footage of the atrocities committed by fanatics or of Arab men burning American flags. The problem, of course, is that this isn’t remotely representative of the Islamic population of the world. Are there Muslims who employ terrorism? Of course. Are there Christians who employ terrorism? Of course. There are even Buddhists who employ terrorism.

Some general facts about Islam might help break the noose of wartime propaganda that rests around America’s neck. Below are a list of statements this journalist has seen in the last week on social media, followed by the data to put that statement in perspective.

“All [or most] Muslims are terrorists.”
There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. The much-discussed ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) organization, which has been described as the “richest terrorist group in the world” can only field between 7,000 and 15,000 troops in its battle to create a fundamentalist homeland. Even taking the highest estimate of their troop strength means that fewer than 1 out of every 106,000 Muslims from all over the world are actually willing to take up arms and fight for the fundamentalist dream. The Iraqi army, however, can field 250,000 soldiers to fight against that fundamentalist vision. That figure does not include irregular forces allied to the Iraqi army. The premise that all Muslims are terrorists falls flat by a mere study of the numbers. It isn’t a majority of Muslims. It isn’t even 1% of Muslims.

“Muslims want Sharia law.”
While many Muslims believe in Sharia law, what is considered Sharia law is not universal. In Lebanon, which has been considered a hotbed of Islamic terrorism ever since the bombing of the US Embassy in Beirut, 38% of Muslims don’t even believe it is the Word of God. Among those that do believe it to be the direct Word of God, only 29% believe in making it the legal system for the country, and a majority of Lebanese Muslims don’t believe Sharia law should apply to non-Muslims.  Even among those that believe whole-heartedly in Sharia law, they don’t necessarily believe in some of the more violent aspects. The crime of adultery is punishable by stoning under some forms of Sharia law. Some quick and simple math shows that in Lebanon, less than 3% of Muslims believe that punishment should be applied to the population at large. Meanwhile in America’s heartland, a political candidate has advocated or silently endorsed the idea of stoning homosexuals.  The vast majority of Muslims believe that Sharia law should be used to settle family or property disputes among Muslims.

Some countries have higher rates of belief in using Sharia law, and some have lower. Lebanon was chosen because it falls in the middle as far as averages go.

“They beat their women.”
First, the very phase “their women” suggests that the individual might fall close to the more radical elements of Islam in regards to the belief that women are property. Yes, some Muslim men beat “their women.” In the United States 25% of women will be beaten by “their men” in their lifetime. This is not an Islamic issue, this is an issue rising from the idea that women are property and somehow belong to the men. If this is justification for war, the United States might consider invading Belfast, where 60 cases of domestic violence are reported daily.

“They are stuck in the Stone Age, and they want to stay there.”
This statement marginalizes the thousands of Muslim men and women who sit in prison for attempting to change their government and those that died in the attempt. Political prisoners throughout the Arab world sit rotting away for attempting to bring about change in their nations. They are Muslims. Four Saudi Princesses are currently being starved to death by the King for speaking out in favor of women’s rights. Countless journalists and bloggers sit behind bars for questioning their governments. The US government continually props up these brutal dictatorships with multi-million dollar arms deals and keeps the power in the hands of those that don’t want change.

“Muhammad was a pedophile and his wife was only 6 (or 7).”
Most historians agree that Aisha and Muhammad were married after she reached puberty. They place her age, on average, around 13 years old at the time of marriage, though she may have been betrothed to him much earlier. Americans need to keep in mind that while they might not have heard of Islam prior to September 11th, Muhammad lived in the early 600s A.D. It might surprise them to learn that marriage at such an early age was extremely common not only in the Arab world, but the Western world as well. King John of England married a 12-year-old around 1198. Romeo’s love, Juliet, was only 13. No subset of people is more hated in the West than pedophiles. An attempt to cast the founder of the perceived enemy as a pedophile would certainly benefit the war effort.

“Muslims take child brides and rape children.”
Does it occur in the Muslim world? Sure. It occurs in the United States as well, typically deep in America’s heartland. The Catholic Church is well-known for its abuse of the youth. Again this is a worldwide issue, not an Islamic one. There is not a single Middle Eastern country listed among the top 20 nations with a high prevalence of child brides.

Most of the information that is spread via social media is simply not accurate. It only serves to plant the idea in the American psyche that somehow the United States must save the Muslims from themselves. The goal of this propaganda is to make Americans believe that Muslims are somehow lesser people. After all, it’s easier to condemn people to die in air strikes if they aren’t really human. Before clicking the share or retweet button on an inflammatory article, try to determine if the information being presented is an accurate portrayal of the Muslim world, or if you are simply furthering the government’s march towards war.

The Islamic world is not without its problems. The struggle for equal rights for women and homosexuals continues to meet roadblock after roadblock on the streets of Amman, Damascus, Riyadh, and Tehran; however, if the United States seeks to use this as justification for intervention, maybe it should invade Mississippi or Arkansas.

They too were Muslims


A British Army man loses his leg in Iraq but not his heart and mind

Chris Herbert, who served in the British Army in Basra, Iraq, lost his right leg when a bomb went off next to his Land Rover in 2007. One of his comrades, Private Luke Simpson, died in the attack, while two other soldiers were also injured.
He told those holding the entire Muslim faith responsible for terrorism to:

“Get a grip of your lives, hug your family and get back to work.”
“Yes. A Muslim man blew me up, and I lost my leg,” he wrote. “A Muslim man also lost his arm that day wearing a British Uniform.
“A Muslim medic was in the helicopter that took me from the field. A Muslim surgeon performed the surgery that saved my life.
“A Muslim Nurse was part of the team that helped me when I returned to the UK.
“A Muslim Healthcare Assistant was part of the team that sorted out my day to day needs in rehabilitation when I was learning to walk.
“A Muslim taxi driver gave me a free ride the first time I went for a beer with my Dad after I came home.
“A Muslim doctor offered my Dad comfort and advice in a pub, when he didn’t know how to deal with my medicines and side effects.”

One man’s voice and grateful heart can make a difference on this planet and Chris Herbert is demonstrating this. Herbert, who lives in Portsmouth, on the south coast of England, said he took the decision to speak out after an “Islamophobic group tried to recruit” him as a poster boy for their organization.

(Excerpted from an article, ‘Trump Represents the Ugly Face of American Politics’, published in Tikkun ezine;

What U.S. Jews must do to fight anti-Muslim bigotry

I’m proud of American Jews mobilizing to fight Islamophobia. But to fully fight hate, U.S. Jews must confront the role pro-Israel organizations continue to play in spreading anti-Muslim bigotry.
Anti-Muslim rhetoric coming from American lawmakers and presidential candidates reached a fevered pitch earlier this month when, standing before a cheering crowd aboard the USS Yorktown in South Carolina, Donald Trump called for a “total and complete” ban on Muslims entering the United States. This call came on the heels of Trump and Ben Carson calling for mosques to be monitored, Senator Marco Rubio suggesting that places where Muslim-Americans gather be shut down, and hundreds of lawmakers voting to turn away Syrian refugees.

These anti-Muslim policies, and the Islamophobia at their core, no longer reside on the fringes in America. They have seeped into the mainstream. Today, a majority of conservative voters support them, and poll numbers often rise for those Republican politicians who choose to double down by exploiting anti-Muslim sentiments. Such policies — and the hateful incitement politicians use when proposing them — are inspiring horrific hate crimes against Muslim-Americans. In the week after Trump’s Muslim ban comments, a California mosque was torched, an Arizona mosque was vandalized, two Muslim women in Florida were violently attacked, a Muslim deli owner in New York was beaten, and a Muslim child in Georgia was asked by a teacher, “Do you have a bomb in your backpack?”

I have been heartened in recent weeks to see many Jewish leaders and pro-Israel institutions, shocked by the historical reverberations, stand up for Muslims under attack. After all, in 1939 it was Jews fleeing Hitler who were demonized and blocked from reaching America’s shores. This stuff hits close to home for American Jews. Which is why 11 Jewish groups, including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), recently signed a letter to Congress declaring that “to turn our back on [Syrian] refugees would be to betray our nation’s core values.” It is also why the ADL was quick to blast Trump last week.

However, such public pronouncements, as wonderful as they have been, conceal a troubling truth which the institutional Jewish community and U.S. Jews invested in Israel must confront if we are to root out anti-Muslim bigotry: in the post-9/11 era, pro-Israel donors, institutions and the Israel lobby have often fueled the very Islamophobia now suddenly catching fire in America, doing so as a strategy for smearing Palestinians.

Promoting and showcasing anti-Muslim bigots has become a troubling pattern for the Israel lobby, particularly its most powerful arm: the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). One example occurred in 2007, when Pastor John Hagee – one of the loudest anti-Muslim voices on the Christian right – was invited to give a keynote address at AIPAC’s policy conference. Not only has Hagee engaged in Holocaust revisionism, but his Islamophobia prompted the Center for American Progress (CAP) to highlight him as a prime example of anti-Muslim hatred fomenting in evangelical circles. Even John McCain rejected his endorsement in 2008, despite the huge potential gains. And yet, crowds cheered him at AIPAC, where he has been given a platform.

Another example is Steve Emerson, who has been invited to speak at AIPAC’s policy conferences multiple times. CAP identified Emerson as one of the five most influential “misinformation experts” in America. Head of the Investigative Project on Terrorism, Emerson is best known for creating outlandish claims to support the theory that Muslim-Americans are plotting jihad in this country, such as the one repeated by a Republican congressman on Fox News that “80 to 85 percent of mosques … are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists.” With AIPAC giving platforms to such purveyors of hate, it is no surprise that the organization has remained silent as Syrian refugees are smeared and anti-Muslim bigotry runs rampant.

Of course, organizations are influenced by those who financially support them. And a deep dive into the world of Jewish, pro-Israel donors reveals that some of the most influential people spreading anti-Muslim bigotry are funded by American Jews with deep connections to the Israel lobby and pro-Israel organizations. This includes the Jewish Communal Fund, which has supported Pamela Geller and the Clarion Fund, and former AIPAC board member Nina Rosenwald, who has given millions to some of the most notorious bigots. This includes Daniel Pipes, who has made spreading Islamophobic misinformation a multi-million dollar profession as head of the Middle East Forum, where he has notoriously argued that Muslim-Americans should be racially profiled and denied constitutionally protected rights.

Why are pro-Israel organizations and donors fueling anti-Muslim bigotry when most American Jews reject such hate? Troublingly, too many Jewish institutions see propagating Islamophobia as a way of supporting Israel. Matt Duss, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace (full disclosure: FMEP is a +972 donor), once wrote that for some, “support for the Jewish state is a zero-sum contest between favoring Israel and favoring Arabs and Muslims. For too many American Jews, smearing Islam is seen as a legitimate expression of Zionism.”
I’m proud of American Jews mobilizing to fight the Islamophobia being fomented by figures like Trump. However, to fully fight such hate, U.S. Jews must confront the role pro-Israel organizations have played – and continue to play – in spreading Islamophobia as a zero-sum justification for smearing Palestinians. Otherwise, even as U.S. Jews publicly fight the purveyors of hate from without, by giving cover from within to those spreading hate, not only will Muslim-Americans continue to be endangered, so too will those Palestinians being occupied and oppressed by Israel.
For they are the true target.

David Harris-Gershon is a writer for Tikkun and author of ‘What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?