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September 24, 2012 3:50 pm

Hypocrisy & Danger: Apologizing for Offense to Muslims

avatar by Morton A. Klein

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President Obama addressing the nation following the Libya attack. Photo: Screenshot.

By Morton A. Klein and Daniel Mandel

In recent days, the whole world has witnessed the spectacle of the Obama Administration from President Barack Obama down apologizing for the fact that some Americans exercised their right of free speech to make a video, ‘Innocence of Muslims,’ that offended Muslims. “Hateful,” “offensive,” “reprehensible,” and “disgusting” were some of the grave terms used by Administration officials to describe the video.

The video, broadcast by extremist Muslims to whip up violence, led to Muslims rioting and killing Americans at embassies and consulates across the Muslim world.  Yet Jews, Christians, Hindus and adherents of just about any other faith do not generally embark on a course of homicide and vandalism when their respective religions are insulted or denigrated.

In fact, a great deal of offense – to put it mildly – is often directed by Muslims at Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and others, but without Obama Administration officials condemning the “hateful,” “offensive,” “reprehensible,” and “disgusting” nature of these efforts.

Did Christians assault those who attended the original exhibition of Andres Serrano’s ‘Piss Christ’? Will they be doing so when it is appears again shortly in New York? And who thinks the Obama Administration will criticize the insensitivity and offense of re-exhibiting it?

Thus, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emphatically and repetitively criticizes the ‘Innocent of Muslims’ video but she said nothing earlier in the year when she attended the Broadway hit musical, The Book of Mormon,’ which remorselessly denigrated the Mormon faith.

Clearly, the Administration’s spurious gravity on the issue reflects nothing about sincere if overreaching deference to religious sensitivities and everything about fear of violence from extremist Muslims.

In the words of British commentator, Douglas Murray, in the past week, “the US Secretary of State turned into a film critic, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – head of the most powerful and expensive military in history – relegated himself to a telephone-salesman offering up his country’s founding principles at a knock-down price, and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney decided that his job included condemning the work of amateur directors.”

The Administration’s reaction sets a dangerous precedent. When it apologizes for an obscure American exercising freedom of speech, it stimulates the most totalitarian elements in the Middle East by implying that there is some reasonable correlation between the offense and the subsequent crimes. Yet free speech, if it is to have meaning, requires that even the expression of the offensive and ill-informed be accorded protection. In a liberal democratic society, much that is offensive must be tolerated, largely because we understand that the only sort of society worth inhabiting is one which preserves the right to give and receive offense.

The imbalance between the treatment accorded one religion and another, between American founding principles like freedom of speech and the implied advice of self-censorship that the Obama Administration has offered ought to shock us. So, too, should something else, to the extent that we hear about in our media: the lack of reaction to vilification of Jews by the Palestinians and other Muslim societies surrounding Israel.

Where after all, was the Obama Administration when the Chief Justice of Palestinian Authority PA) Religious Court, Tayseer Tamimi – not an obscure Palestinian fringe figure – stated that, “Concerning the Jews … they make false claims, lies, forgery, slander, and fabrications”?

Where was it when Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the PA-appointed Mufti of Jerusalem and the PA, described Jews as “the enemies of Allah”?

Where was it when PA Mufti Muhammad Hussein, citing Islamic tradition, said earlier this year in a PA broadcast that “The Hour [of Resurrection] will not come until you fight the Jews. The Jew will hide behind stones or trees. Then the stones or trees will call: ‘Oh Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him‘”?

Where was it when PA children were taught the other month that Christians and Jews “are inferior and smaller, more cowardly and despised”? Where was it in May, when Palestinians  vandalized the ancient Jericho synagogue

The truth is that the Obama Administration has shown no interest in ending Palestinian defamation of Jews. President Obama has said that he will hold Palestinians “accountable” for incitement, but never has – certainly not if accountability means public condemnation, diplomatic pressure or withholding U.S. aid.

The only responsible U.S. response to the murder and mayhem directed at Americans overseas on this occasion or any other in which Muslims take offense at the expression of others is one which makes clear that violence and threat do not pay. Those governments that encouraged violence or failed to quell it in timely fashion should be answering questions, not America. And those who incite hatred against others – like Mahmoud Abbas’ PA or Mohamed Morsi’s Egypt – should not be receiving funding from the U.S. taxpayer.

Morton A. Klein is National President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) and Dr. Daniel Mandel is Director of the ZOA’ Center for Middle East Policy.

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  • Lamont Lewis

    Not one day in your lives have any of you citing Obama for exacerbating the middle east dilemma, had the opportunity to live during a time in which peace prevailed in the region.
    Yet, everything wrong there is Obama’s fault. It’s as if he is imbued with a preternatural gift that would solve the issues, but he’s not using it. In my seventy years, I’ve been exposed to the idea someone from without the region is capable of resolving the problems that have persisted over a millennium. Anyone with a sense of history knows the only thing outsiders ever achieve, is creating discord. You all will be in your graves smouldering, long before any semblance of a solution is found. As eloquent as your concerns are written, I suggest you save them for the next leader who simply doesn’t do what you’d prefer. Or better yet, discuss the real reasons matter there don’t improve.

  • johntyd

    @Barbra Grancell-Frank

    The Protocols was a Russian forgery of the late 19th century – Middle Ages??

    The only thing that impresses Muslims is a scorched earth. When the Jews rise up against their Arab/Muslim oppressors they will not use videos.

    Not all the mendacity that Muslims mouth, riots, embassy and flag burnings will make an iota of difference. They can burn their ramshackle countries and the embassies found therein to bits for all anyone cares.

    • Thanks for the Protocols reality check. I will research more carefully in future.


  • The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a bestseller in Christian Europe throughout the middle ages, is a pernicious calumny claiming to describe Jewish religious practices. The Protocols aroused killer instincts in its readers and continues to do so today in many Muslem countries.

    Several years ago Mel Gibson produced The Passion of the Christ. His film did not go viral online but became a blockbuster and enjoyed global distribution in movie theaters. And while it incited no pogroms against Jews — as its European predecessors had done for centuries — it did nothing to present Christ’s coreligionists (finally acquitted of deicide) in a fair light.

    Surprisingly, neither the book nor the movie caused “sensitive” Jews in Israel and elsewhere to form flash mobs, storm embassies or murder diplomats. American Jews have frequently been angered by attacks on themselves and their culture by white supremasists. But having been taught from birth to respect freedom of speech, Jews in America typically respond to such aggression by navigating legal channels.

    Why are angry Muslems around the world not being held to similar standards of conduct? And why do we Americans feel the need to apologize to them for exercising one of our most fundamental rights?

    • FK Reg

      You all live in bliss of ignorance. Simply bcz you insult your God and holy poeple does not mean that Muslims should also do that.Please continue insulting your own God and holy people you will get reward at the end. If you try that formula with Muslims that is not going to work.
      The smoke and dirt from the Industrial world has take away all your senses of humanity and you just couple of morons with self defined morality e.g if we Jews dosing this why Muslims are not doing this ? if we Christians are doing this why Muslims are not doing this … BS

  • Sara

    I’m sorry but this article is just crap-stirring and highly prejudicial. Have there been pockets of Jews killing and rioting and destroying U.S. Embassies? NO. This was a statement issued to try to stem the rising tide of anti-American sentiments among Muslims all across the Middle East. Just because President Obama didn’t issue a statement proclaiming something that would have inflamed the rioters more (“oh and Jews, I’m sorry the film maker tried to blame this on you”) doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel that way. It’s called damage control, people. Saying that would have, sad but true, been the opposite of helpful in trying to cease the enraged Islamists’ attacks.

    • Mel

      No, Sarah, you’re not the least bit sorry. Misinformed? Maybe. Sorry? About what?

  • Steve

    MK is 101 % absolutely correct! Yishar Koach!

  • David Most

    It is, and has been, obvious that the Obama administration applies its own double standards to things Islamic and things Jewish! Mr. Klein makes the point very efficiently. If we expand his horizon, the Obama group has NEVER criticized an Arab/Muslim govt. or group because of its ceaseless spouting of anti-Jewish, anti-Christian and anti-every non-Islamic group in the world! When Egyptian Muslims assault and murder Coptic Christians he remains silent. When Muslims constantly push and promote their vicious anti-semitism, he remains silent. But in the latest farce, he chooses to apologize to the Muslim world for our own treasured freedom of speech.
    The stupid trailer causing all the commotion is notorious for its terrible film values. Doesn’t matter. Muhammad was insulted so death and destruction must follow. “When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn”?

    • Mel

      The stupid film trailer has been out there for months. Not a peep about it until 11 September Coincidence?