Agenda of Understanding
October 3, 2001
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Under the headline, "Muslim Leader Presses Agenda of Understanding," the New York Times today publishes a fawning profile of Agha Saeed, the "unflappable national chairman of the American Muslim Alliance," which the Times calls "the main organization devoted to the political assimilation of the nation's seven million Arab-Americans."
The Times reports on the Muslim alliance's national conference scheduled for San Jose, Calif., on Oct. 13, "where Dr. Saeed has amended the agenda to include a new topic in the spirit of one of his favorite poets, Walt Whitman -- 'Dream on, America: Dignity in the face of adversity.'"
Just what sort of "dignity" and "understanding" is the "unflappable," Walt Whitman-reading Mr. Saeed preaching?
Well, his organization, the American Muslim Alliance, was a sponsor of an infamous May 24, 1998, program at Brooklyn College at which a militant Egyptian cleric, Wagdi Ghuniem, led an audience of 500 in the chant, "No to the Jews, descendants of the apes.'"
As Steven Emerson has reported on OpinionJournal.com, at the 1997 annual convention of the American Muslim Alliance, the organization distributed an article by S.A. Ahsani, head of the AMA's Texas chapter, denying the existence of "Auschwitz, Birkenau and Majdanek."
The New York Times itself reported on October 27, 2000, that Hillary Clinton's Senate campaign returned $50,000 in contributions raised by the American Muslim Alliance because of what Mrs. Clinton called "offensive and outrageous" statements by members of the American Muslim Alliance, including support expressed by Mr. Saeed for the right of Palestinians to use "armed resistance" against the Israelis.
The American Muslim's Alliance's own Web site quotes Mr. Saeed justifying "armed struggle" by the Palestinian Arabs against Israel. The December 1997 issue of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, itself a rabidly anti-Israel publication, reports that Mr. Saeed "had his first hands-on involvement in U.S. politics in 1984, working in the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Jesse Jackson. Dr. Saeed's U.S. political activism in turn led to an invitation from the Palestine National Council to visit occupied Palestine. 'The oppression I saw there traumatized me,' he says. 'It seemed to me to be far worse than anything my forbears had experienced in the subcontinent. That's where the idea of the American Muslim Alliance came from. I became convinced we needed a system of our own to fight a system of apartheid. But first of all we had to understand the American political system.'" In the late 1980s the Palestine National Council was an organizations of terrorists devoted to Israel's complete and violent destruction. And the quote about where the idea for the American Alliance came from sheds new light on the claim that it is "devoted to the political assimilation of the nation's seven million Arab-Americans." It might be more accurate to say it is devoted to "fight" -- to use Dr. Saeed's word -- the policies of Israel. (The "seven million," figure, by the way, is inflated. The 1990 census, the most recent for which results on this topic are available, put the number of Americans who reported some Arab ancestry at 1.4 million.)
As for the 2001 conference in San Jose, the scheduled speakers for the "Dream on, America: Dignity in the face of adversity" panel, according to the American Muslim Alliance Web site, include Maher Hathout. Mr. Hathout, speaking at the National Press Club on June 18, 1998, said, "Hezbollah is fighting for freedom...This is legitimate." As Smartertimes.com noted yesterday, according the U.S. State Department's Patterns of Global Terrorism report issued in April, 2001, Hezbollah is "known or suspected to have been involved in numerous anti-US terrorist attacks, including the suicide truck bombing of the US Embassy and US Marine barracks in Beirut in October 1983 and the US Embassy annex in Beirut in September 1984. Elements of the group were responsible for the kidnapping and detention of US and other Western hostages in Lebanon." According to the Los Angeles Times of August 22, 1998, Mr. Hathout responded to America's last attack on Osama Bin Laden's training camp in Afghanistan by saying, "Our country is committing an act of terrorism. What we did is illegal, immoral, unhuman, unacceptable, stupid and un-American."
It's just mind-boggling that the Times could run out a profile of the leader of this outfit under the headline "Muslim Leader Presses Agenda of Understanding." The Times reports without even a trace of skepticism on his "dignity in the face of adversity."
What's the "agenda of understanding"? Is it the Holocaust denial? The defense of Hezbollah as legitimate fighters for "freedom"? "No to the Jews, Descendants of the Apes"? "Armed struggle" against Israel? None of it rates even a mention in the Times's puff piece.
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