I have been doing a lot of speaking all over the country lately: Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Wichita, and many more. I have spoken in banquet halls, hotel restaurant meeting rooms, country clubs, churches, and elsewhere. In Boston a few weeks ago I spoke in a synagogue, which led Joachim Martillo at Al-Jazeerah.info (which has nothing to do with the TV channel) in this report (thanks to all who sent it in) to assume that I was Jewish and try to construct all sorts of moral equivalency arguments relating to Judaism. It's a good thing I didn't speak in a garage: if I had, Martillo would be sure that I am an automobile, and bloviate about the numbers of those killed by traffic fatalities as being much greater than the numbers of those killed by Islamic terrorism.
Anyway, Martillo makes a number of statements just as silly in his piece:
Spencer's approach was similar to the anti-Jewish polemic that was common in Germany and Eastern Europe in the late 19th century and early 20th century. (To be honest, I consider Rohling's Der Talmudjude to have been a good deal more coherent albeit equally wrong and malicious.) Spencer made a big deal about taqiyah even though Maimonides gives in the Mishneh Torah exactly the same sort of permission to dissemble in the same way under exactly the same circumstances. Spencer has more or less recreated the anti-Semitic calumny that Jews give themselves permission to lie every year during the kol nidrei prayer at Yom Kippur and transformed it into an anti-Muslim slander.
I don't know if what he says about the Jewish sources is true, but even if it is, it makes no difference. Ultimately, to point to evils in other religious traditions is beside the point; only Islam today has a terror network of global extension, and only Islam has teachers who today advise believers to deceive unbelievers.
Spencer does not like the Quranic verse that assigns authority to men over women even though Abraham Geiger correctly pointed out over 100 years ago that the verse is practically identical to traditional Jewish interpretations of the punishment of Eve in Genesis.
Specifically, my beef is with the Qur'anic verse commanding men to beat their disobedient wives: Sura 4:34. Sure, wives are beaten all over. It's bad every time. But when it is given divine sanction, it becomes exceedingly difficult to eradicate. And whatever Abraham Geiger said 100 years ago, most Jewish and Christian men would not say that their religions mandate wife-beating.
Spencer also made a big deal that the Quran characterizes Sabbath-breakers as apes and pigs and that this language creeps into anti-Israel and Zionist polemic. Perhaps, American Jews are sensitive about the issue because 90% of them are Sabbath breakers, but the Hebrew Bible records in Numbers that Moses ordered the summary execution of a Sabbath breaker. Name calling is mild by comparison.
Note the sleight of hand: Moses executed a Sabbath breaker, therefore it's not as bad for Muslims today to call Jews apes and pigs. Yet who is executing Sabbath breakers today?
Spencer ranted for a while about dhimma even though this area of Islamic jurisprudence is quite similar to the canon law and halakhic rules about nonbelievers under Christian or Jewish authority.
What he says about canon law is absolutely false, and I doubt there is anything like the dhimma's institutionalized inferiority for nonbelievers in Judaism either. But once again, it makes no difference: no Jews or Christians are plumping for these laws today, if such laws even exist, while for jihadists the dhimma is very much on the agenda.
He cited out of context a lot of verses that discussed struggle with idolaters or unbelievers and tried to argue that Islam was incompatible with the idea of universal human rights (as if Zionism is). He also cited Kabbani and another Sheikh (probably out of context) in a sort of ipse dixit argument.
Out of context, out of context, out of context. I have written a book about the jihad verses in context. Islamic tradition is full of mainstream teachers (Ibn Kathir, Suyuti, etc.) who say that the violent verses of the Qur'an abrogate the peaceful ones. I suppose they're taking the verses out of context? And the idea that Islam is incompatible with universal human rights was stated not by me, but by Sheikh Tabandeh of Iran, a Muslim who wrote an Islamic critique of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as by many others. It was also suggested by the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights of 1990, which was endorsed by the OIC, and which stipulated that the Sharia was the final canon of human rights. If that's so, then women and non-Muslims simply don't have the human rights stipulated in the Universal Declaration and elaborated in Western tradition.
Later during questioning he tried to demonize as uniquely evil the desire of ibn Khaldun for the expansion of Sharia throughout the world as if ideas like manifest destiny, mission civilatrice and the white man's burden did not express a similar mentality in the most positive interpretation and a very racist mentality in a more realistic interpretation.
Yeah, there are a lot of Manifest Destiny and White Man's Burden terrorist groups out there these days. Watch out for them.
Over all, Spencer seems to have intended to use the talk to rally the troops against the Mosque and Islam or Muslims in general. Many of the Jewish attendees were quite offended by the thrust and the content. Several questioned Spencer's competence in interpreting the texts and asked why he cited questionable Orientalist literature instead of asking Muslim scholars.
It's true: there were numerous dhimmis in the audience. I am prepared to back up anything I said from Islamic sources and Islamic scholars.
Two compared Spencer's talk with traditional anti-Jewish polemics.
The key difference here is that traditional anti-Jewish polemics are based on fiction. What I say is based on fact. Skeptical? I am prepared to support any statement I have ever made about Islam from Islamic texts.
There was a suggestion that there should be an open debate or discussion between Spencer and a Muslim scholar. The proposal is questionable. Spencer can pack an amazing number of lies and misrepresentations into 10 seconds, and the answer to each point would probably require several minutes.
In other words, "Do not debate this fellow! He will probably win!"
The idea that Muslims must somehow prove themselves worthy to Jews is simply offensive
Why is that, Martillo? Aren't we all pluralists here? You don't have to prove yourself to Jews, but I have to prove myself to Muslims? Why is that, exactly?
If this idea of an open discussion goes forward, the format should provide equality. If Spencer is going to interrogate a Muslim scholar about various religious, cultural, communal, historical, social and political aspects of Islam or about the behavior of Muslims from various ethnic groups or states, the Muslim scholar should be able to pose similar queries to Spencer about various aspects of Judaica.
It's funny how everything I said was out of context and misused, etc., and I am unqualified to discuss Islam, while there is no "Muslim scholar that would have sufficient command of Judaica to provide a reasonable counterpoint." Judaica is beside the point. It would seem to be enough for a Muslim scholar to have a sufficient command of Islam, in order to show how I am supposedly misrepresenting it. Why can't they come up with someone to do that, if what they say is true?
For years I have heard from Muslims that what I say about Islam is "easily refuted." Yet again and again, they have declined to refute what I say. Why? This isn't a case of not wanting to give me the publicity: they're already talking about me to say that I can be refuted easily. They just won't trouble to do it. Maybe it's because they can't?
In fairness, I should note that I have received a response to my million-dollar claim from Dr. Jamal Badawi. This week I have had to tend to several urgent and unexpected problems, but I will post it as soon as possible, with a response.
Spencer seems to fixate on certain aspects of the Quranic text, a few specific commentaries, a very narrow portion of Islamic law, certain cultural practices, and the opinions of representatives of political or fundamentalist Islam. Identifying exactly comparable areas in which to question Spencer would be tricky.
Indeed it would. Because they don't exist.
If Spencer wants to question the role that Saudis play in spreading specifically Saudi forms of Islam, his Muslim counterpart might want to discuss the role that Jewish Hollywood executives play in spreading ideas about male-female relations that seem to have developed in the specifically Eastern European Ashkenazi social context (including the Frankist Jewish heresy that encouraged adultery and promiscuity).
Ah! The Jews are behind fornication! Of course! I should have known! They must have put oysters in the drinking water, eh? Anyway, this is just more anti-Semitic absurdity, unless it can be established that these Jewish Hollywood execs are funding global terrorist organizations.
To be frank, Spencer really did not seem to have much in the way of qualifications to write or to discuss Islam, and I do not know of any Muslim scholar that would have sufficient command of Judaica to provide a reasonable counterpoint. A discussion or debate between Spencer and a Muslim scholar would probably generate more heat than light and might even give extra life to the anti-Mosque campaign, which seems to be dying.
Yes, I know nothing of Islam. That's why Martillo advises Muslims not to debate me. And it's true: Mahdi Bray was in the audience that night, and he gave a soothing speech during the Q & A period that won over many people, and which included a kind invitation to debate Dr. Badawi or some other Muslim. He said he would be in touch. He has not been in touch.
But I told him that night that I would debate anyone, and I will. If I am so ignorant of Islam, it will be easy to demolish what I say, no? What is Martillo afraid of? Mahdi, Joachim, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let's set it up. It's time you guys disposed of this Jihad Watch pest and exposed Judaism for what it is!!