Here’s what happened, from “Dissent Crushed: Why Muslims Rarely Speak Out, Even In U.S.,” by Adam Brodsky in the New York Post, with thanks to all who sent this in:
November 19, 2006 — MUSLIMS are often accused of not speaking out sufficiently against terrorism. Nonie Darwish knows one reason why: Their fellow Muslims won’t let them.
Darwish, who comes from Egypt and was born and raised a Muslim, was set to tell students at Brown University about the twisted hatred and radicalism she grew to despise in her own culture. A campus Jewish group, Hillel, had contacted her to speak there Thursday.
But the event was just called off.
Muslim students had complained that Darwish was “too controversial.” They insisted she be denied a platform at Brown, and after contentious debate Hillel agreed.
Weird: No one had said boo about such Brown events as a patently anti-Israel “Palestinian Solidarity Week.” But Hillel said her “offensive” statements about Islam “alarmed” the Muslim Student Association, and Hillel didn’t want to upset its “beautiful relationship” with the Muslim community.
When asked why Darwish was disinvited, a Brown Hillel member responded:
Thanks for getting in touch with me. I appreciate the fact that you would like to explore this issue further. These are excerpts from articles that Nonie Darwish has written: (they can be found at http://frontpagemag.com/Articles/authors.asp?ID=1176, which I encourage you to look at)
– To be a Moslem is to belong to that bigger holier-than-thou, self-righteous group whom they try, but fail to emulate…
– Women with Muslim attire in the United States create a wall between themselves and the rest of the population and have a mission of spreading Islam…It is the Muslim women’s form of jihad – without the violence – but it could be aggressive. Remember some of these women raise their sons to become terrorists and give up their lives to jihad.
– So why do these Muslims who want to adhere to strict Muslim dogma choose to leave Muslim countries and come to live with the infidels? They obviously behave as if Islam is the center of their life and existence. I can understand if they choose to live here because of a temporary business assignment or government job such as with an embassy. But why would a Muslim woman who wants to follow Islamic law to the letter, for her and her family, choose to live in the West and the U.S.?
I think we, as Jews, should be especially sensitive about comments which criticize strict religious observance and deem it unacceptable in America. I know from speaking to my Muslim peers who do wear Muslim attire, that they were extremely offended by this characterization of them as “extremists”. I am an observant Jew, and I would be be equally offended if the Muslim Student Association decided to invite a speaker to criticize observant Judaism.
Brown Hillel is very committed to presenting a variety of perspectives on Israel, but there are ways to sponsor a speaker who praises Israel — without denigrating Islam. I thnk that Nonie Darwish has a fascinating life story, and an interesting perspective to bring to the table, but I do not think it was appropriate for Brown Hillel to be the sole sponsor for this event.
A group of students active in Hillel requested that we co-sponsor the event, and we went through a careful decision-making process, which involved input from the students who were organizing the event, students across the spectrum who care passionately about the Middle East, and heard concerns from the Muslim community. After reviewing all this input, the Brown Hillel student board decided not to sponsor the event. It was a thoughtful decision, and I absolutely stand by it.
The Jewish and Muslim communities have a great relationship on campus, and I am glad representatives from the Muslim community voiced their concerns to us (and they did so in a very respectful way). I am confident that if the opposite situation would arise, the Muslim Student Association would heed our concerns in return.
I hope this has been helpful and informative. If you have any more questions, I am happy to help answer them.
Hillel Stavis, a board member of CAMERA (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), wrote this reply to the Hillel member:
I have read the articles which you sent me by Nonie Darwish from Front Page Magazine.com. Thank you for forwarding them to me. Among others, one passage from her writing you omitted from your selection was:
“I pray for Moslem countries to see the light that all men are created equal and not that all Moslems are created equal. Many come to this great nation in search for material gain which is fine, however, the biggest prize I gained was my religious freedom and to find myself in the glory of God.”
I take issue with your decision to ban Ms. Darwish from speaking. Your decision to disinvite (read “ban”) Ms. Darwish re: potential similar remarks uttered by a speaker at a Muslim Student Association fails on a number of counts:
Firstly, there is little basis in comparing Islam – which is a self-avowed institution whose advance (see Suras 9-5, 9-12, etc. of the Koran) for over a thousand years has been accomplished primarily through war and forced conversions ( or relegation to de jure subjugated second class status) of non-Muslim populations (including our own as Jews) from North Africa to the Indus Valley and beyond – with Judaism which, as you know, from its beginnings in the Tannnaitic period has de-emphasized conversion with prohibitions specifically against violent conversion; let alone the fact that Judaism has been stateless for the last two thousand years. Unlike Islam, it has possessed neither a military nor a sovereign political embodiment since the time of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem.
Secondly, you fall into the trap of the “Abrahamic Faiths” construct, insofar as you subscribe to the neatly posited notion that there are 3 “faiths” stemming from Abraham. ( a decidedly Israelite figure who rejects Ishmaelites according to scripture ). Islam, has, from its birth, conducted itself as a political and military, temporal power much like any totalitarian movement of the twentieth century. Yes, there is Sura 2-256 which speaks of “no compulsion in religion”, but, according to every school of Muslim theology for the last 1400 years, that earlier verse is “abrogated” by the scores of later verses that commit every Muslim to convert – either by persuasion or by force, if necessary – the entire world to Islam. Judaism has no such mainstream tradition.
Were a fascist political party to ask to speak on campus, characterizing their activities and goals as a “faith”, I have no doubt you would do your utmost to expose them to the light of day.
Thirdly, Jewish groups have had no problem whatsoever in inviting speakers critical of historical Christianity or of Judaism itself. James Carroll, a writer whose opinions can easily be construed as derogatory of Christianity, is a frequently invited speaker on campuses. I ask you, in all honesty, would you ban a speaker at Brown who wanted to give a lecture on the outmoded use of sheitels (wigs) by orthodox women?
I am personally offended by Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappe, two nominal Jews who I consider to be antisemites, but I would never consider banning them from speaking at the Brown Muslim Students Association (indeed, these two speakers are part of the anti-Israel repertoire at many campus Muslim venues). Their hatred speaks for itself and they are the best spokespersons for the defense of Israel I can think of.
Fourthly, you must agree, a large number of Muslims (most would agree that the numbers are in the millions if not hundreds of millions) while perhaps not subscribing to the tradition of violent jihad warfare, nevertheless, favor the destruction of the State of Israel. Every poll taken in every Muslim country (there are 56 of them at last count with some African countries soon to join the group) reflects this desire. We have Ms. Darwish, among a handful of Muslims, who have extended a hand (we don’t have to emphasize how dangerous a risk they have taken) of peace and tolerance to us and the West. Of course in Israel, itself, and elsewhere the identification with violent Palestinian causes by even some Jews has become de rigeur and carries absolutely no risk – e.g. Avi Shlaim, Ilan Pappe, Adam Shapiro etc.
Moreover, Ms. Darwish…etc. come from within contemporary Muslim reality, not as outsiders or “orientalists”. Every mainstream Muslim group has attempted to silence them. By giving in to this repression Brown Hillel has betrayed its obligation to free speech. Their information is critical in understanding the existential threat to Jews in particular and to the West in general.
Lastly, we as Jews have an obligation to honor and to listen to “the Other”. We are commanded by Torah to speak truth to power not even shirking from arguments with G-d. When the very existence of our people is threatened daily by radical Muslims, we should have a heightened sense of obligation to speak the truth and to welcome those Muslims who have grown up in a system of hate who have a chance to influence other Muslims.
Where is the line between “sensitivity” and censorship? I applaud the good relations Brown Hillel has with the Muslim community on campus, but that relationship is best served by hosting all opinions no matter how vigorously we disagree with them. If we arbitrarily exclude voices that someone considers “offensive” you might as well limit your speakers to Barbie, Ken and The Teletubbies.
If your decision to ban was based on security issues, then say it. Don’t lead us astray by claiming “sensitivity”. If nothing else, by now, there isn’t anyone in the world unaware of the intent and ability of radical Muslims to carry out violent acts against perceived “defamers” of their faith. You note that members of the Brown Muslim community “voiced their concerns in a very respectful way.” The past six years alone from the Danish cartoon controversy to the Pope’s remarks must have had the desired effect on you as they have had on non-Muslims everywhere — a veiled threat (no pun intended). Let’s not bowdlerize it.
When Bertrand Russell penned his famous “Why I Am Not a Christian”, he toured the world in absolute safety to the acclaim of intellectuals. Ibn Warraq recently wrote “Why I Am Not a Muslim” and must resort to a nom de surete, dark glasses and bodyguards wherever he speaks. Ms. Darwish, who speaks for millions of muslim women, is similarly threatened. Is this the cowardly new world we”re destined to inherit?
I always thought students and administrators in a university setting would preserve the traditions of freethinking and free speech. Your actions have taught me otherwise.
Meanwhile, don’t miss Nonie Darwish’s book. Some of the endorsements it has received, including one from me:
“Nonie Darwish a woman of great courage with an amazing story to tell…. Readers who pick up her book will find their views of the world irrevocably changed before they put it down.”
-David Horowitz, author of Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left
“All Americans should note well the reasons why Muslims now consider her an ‘infidel’ — this could be the most important lesson non-Muslims in the West will ever learn.”
-Robert Spencer, author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades)
“Indispensable insight into the world of Islamic radicalism and jihad…. This inspiring tale of redemption will serve as an uplifting reminder to proponents of democratic values in the Middle East that our message of equality and God-given freedom is inexorable and will yet penetrate the resistance of the jihadists to find its way into the hearts and minds of the people of the Arab World.”
-Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, author of It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good
“Anyone who wants to understand the real meaning of the clash of civilizations between radical Islam and the West should read this book.”
-Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado, author of In Mortal Danger: The Battle for America’s Border and Security
“Now They Call Me Infidel is a book of great humanity, intelligence, and courage. If ever there is to be peace between Arabs and Israelis, it will have to be along the lines depicted by Nonie Darwish.”
-David Pryce-Jones, senior editor, National Review
“This is a breakthrough book…. Nonie Darwish is one of the most compelling voices for moderate Islam and against extremist violence.”
-John Loftus, President, the Intelligence Summit
“Nonie Darwish indicts the Middle Eastern and Islamic culture she left behind, exposing what she calls the ‘rigid psychological wall’ imposed by religious and political leaders, the ‘giant machine of oppression’ that dominates society, and the dysfunctional ‘culture of arrogance, pride, and shame.’ Fleeing to the United States, she found happiness – but also a growing infrastructure of radical Islam that she has bravely and effectively confronted.”
-Daniel Pipes, author of Militant Islam Reaches America
“We should all be thankful to Nonie Darwish for writing this insightful book on jihad and the global war on terror. As Darwish states in this great exposÅ½, nothing will change in the Islamic world until the voices in the mosques preach love and peace.”
-Paul Vallely, major general, U.S. Army (Ret.), coauthor of Endgame
“This call for peace should be read by everyone and taught in schools…. The free world owes Darwish an invaluable debt for her struggles for freedom.”
-Bat Ye’Or, author of Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis