At 12:42 PM on Tuesday, September 25, the internationally known journalist Mona Eltahawy, a New York City-based Egyptian American who identifies herself as a “proud liberal Muslim,” posted the following message on Twitter: “Meetings done; pink spray paint time. #ProudSavage #F–kHate.” She then promptly armed herself with a can of pink spray paint and headed to a New York City subway station to deface a poster that she claimed bore a message offensive to Muslims. Produced by Pamela Geller’s and Robert Spencer’s American Freedom Defense Initiative, that poster read: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” While Eltahawy was busy spray painting over those words, freelance journalist and pro-freedom blogger Pamela Hall tried unsuccessfully to stop her. During the confrontation, Eltahawy also spray-painted Ms. Hall and ruined the latter’s reading glasses, camera, and clothing. She was arrested at the scene, and Hall pressed charges.
Geller, for her part, made it clear that her ad was directed very specifically at jihadis, not Muslims generally.
“There is no Islam in my ad,” she pointed out. “There is no Muslim in my ad. This is a city [New York] that was attacked by jihad on 9/11, not only on 9/11/2001 but [also] ’93…. This is not against Muslims. I don’t believe that all Muslims sanction jihad…. It’s very clear. There’s no ambiguity in my ad. It’s jihad.”
In an age where politically correct, mealy-mouthed euphemism typically dominates public discourse, it is indeed refreshing to hear someone, like Geller, speak her mind so forthrightly and unapologetically. When reporters later asked Geller whether she ought to have worded her ad more gently, so as not to run the risk of offending Muslims, she replied: “I will not sacrifice my freedom [of speech] so as not to offend savages”—i.e., jihadis.
Nothing ambiguous there. But alas, Mona Eltahawy couldn’t deal with a plain talker. So instead, she caricatured Geller’s ad as an attack on all Muslims, while depicting her own act of vandalism as a courageous deed on behalf of freedom of expression. A highly significant sidebar to Eltahawy’s actions is the fact that in 2005 she was honored as a “Muslim Leader of Tomorrow” by the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA), the group that famously led an effort to construct a massive mosque/Islamic Center near Ground Zero in downtown Manhattan. ASMA’s co-founders, you might recall, were Feisal Abdul Rauf (who said that “United States policies were an accessory to the crime” of 9/11) and Faiz Khan (a 9/11 conspiracy-theorist who rejected the notion that jihadis played a role in the attacks on the World Trade Center).
Notably, Eltahawy has not always been a defender of jihad. During the Egyptian revolution of 2011 she was in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, where demonstrators sexually assaulted her and broke bones in both of her arms, prompting the woman to characterize her attackers as “beasts.” (This, presumably, was a less offensive term than “savages,” Robert Spencer notes sardonically.) And in June 2012 Eltahawy wrote an article in Foreign Policy magazine criticizing such widespread Islamic practices as wife beating, honor killings, and genital mutilation—an article for which she was harshly condemned as a “hater” by Islamists and media leftists. Robert Spencer theorizes that Eltahawy’s recent defacement of the anti-jihad poster in New York may have been motivated by a sort of Stockholm Syndrome, a psychological phenomenon that causes victims to express empathy, and even support, for their abusers. “I think that she went to vandalize our ad because she was tired of being shunned and criticized by her friends,” says Spencer, “… so she had to prove that she was on the right side again, and that she was on the anti-freedom, pro-jihad side of things. And so, this was how she did it.”
When Eltahawy appeared in court last week to face charges of “criminal mischief” and “making graffiti,” she was offered a plea deal but instead, citing her “free speech right,” chose to go to trial. “I actually look forward to standing trial,” she said, “because I acted out of principle and I’m proud of what I did and I will spray-paint that ad again in a second.”
In reaction to Eltahawy’s pronouncement, Pamela Geller stated: “’Yes, attacking people and destroying property is ‘right.’ That’s rich. In attacking my free speech rights, she is carrying water for those who advocate a new genocide of the Jews and celebrate the murders of innocent civilians.” When Eltahawy’s attorney, Stanley Cohen, suggested that Pamela Hall, the blogger who tried to stop Eltahawy’s vandalism, was seeking restitution for the cost of her “Gucci sunglasses,” Geller again set the record straight:
Mona Eltahawy attacked Pamela Hall, destroyed her glasses [that she sees out of, not 'Gucci sunglasses,' as Cohen claimed in a disgusting attempt to paint Hall as some kind of dilettante] and her camera equipment that she works with, and now postures herself as a hero instead of the big ugly bully that she is.
It is highly significant that Eltahawy’s defense counsel is Stanley Cohen, a longtime Hamas defender who prides himself on representing only those clients whose politics he agrees with. “If I don’t support the politics of political clients,” he says, “I don’t take the case.” Thus do we note, with keen interest, that Cohen’s client list includes such luminaries as the al Qaeda-affiliated Texas Imam Moataz Al-Hallak; the Oregon-based Imam and terror suspect Imam Kariye; the Global Relief Foundation co-founder and 9/11 co-conspirator Hazem Ragab; the bin Laden-connected terrorist Wadih el-Hage, who was convicted of conspiracy in the deadly 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in East Africa; and Hamas operatives Abdelhaleem Ashqar and Ismail Elbarasse.
In the mid-1990s Cohen also helped Hamas senior political leader Moussa Mohammed Abu Marzook—who co-founded the terrorist Islamic Association for Palestine and Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development—avoid extradition from the U.S. to Israel, which wanted to try him for the role he and his organization had played in a number of bombings. Articulating his high regard for Marzook, Cohen has referred to him as “my dear friend.”
Also in the 1990s, Cohen—a proud admirer of Lenin—teamed with fellow Communist attorneys William Kunstler, Lynne Stewart, and Ramsey Clark to defend Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic Group leader who was prosecuted for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. “Most of my clients [are] involved with struggle, many of them armed struggle,” Cohen boasts.
Yet another “struggler” whom Cohen would very much have liked to help was none other than the late al Qaeda kingpin himself. “If Osama bin Laden arrived in the United States today and asked me to represent him, sure I’d represent him,” Cohen told the Village Voice in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. On September 22, 2001, Cohen said: “I don’t think this was an Osama bin Laden job at all. But I think for a lot of reasons the government would prefer it be Osama bin Laden. Because then there’s an identifiable bogeyman.” Speculating that “the government is going to use this [9/11] as a pretense … to go after those people who have stood up to Israeli interests and the pro-Israel lobby in this country,” Cohen added that he was “absolutely” certain that “this operation was assisted by ex-CIA, ex-Mossad [Israeli intelligence agency] officers.”
It is not at all surprising that Cohen would implicate Israel, which he has long depicted as a “terrorist state.” In fact, in July 2002 Cohen filed a federal lawsuit demanding that the U.S. government stop giving financial support to Israel’s “program of killing, torture, terror and outright theft” targeting the Palestinians. The suit named President Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, various Israeli military officials, and a number of American arms manufacturers—accusing them all of “genocide” and “war crimes.” Claiming that “what Israel does is far more morally repugnant than what Hamas does,” Cohen affirms the Palestinians’ “right” and “obligation” to “resist occupation … by any means necessary.”
Cohen is so confident in the valor of his cause, that he beams with pride when recounting such fond memories as when he once “had lunch with the alleged mastermind of the Achille Lauro ship hijacking,” a 1985 incident where Palestinian terrorists stormed a cruise ship and threw an elderly, wheelchair-bound American Jew overboard to his death; when he “spent a day with [Yasser] Arafat in Ramallah on the West Bank” and was treated “like a head of state” by the most prolific Jew killer since Adolf Hitler; and when he was given a number of audiences with the late Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the Hamas “spiritual leader” whose favorite pastime was to order the slaughter of civilian Jews. Years later, in fact, Cohen proudly displayed, in his office, a picture of himself seated alongside this same Ahmed Yassin.
In the final analysis, it would appear that Stanley Cohen and Mona Eltahawy—a pair of jihad defenders—personify the proverbial match made in heaven…..or hell.
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