At this critical juncture, the president must learn from history -- or be doomed to repeat it.
More than one hundred years ago, George Santayana said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.1 But Friedrich Hegel is quoted as saying: “What experience and history teaches us is that people and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.”2 In other words, all that we learn from history is that we never learn anything from history.
Today our president must decide from which philosopher he takes his inspiration.
Preaching on January 7, 2012 at a Jerusalem rally marking the 47th anniversary of Fatah's founding, Mufti of Jerusalem Mohammed Hussein (the highest religious authority among Palestinian Authority Muslims) quoted a Hadith (an extra-Qur’anic text attributed to the Prophet Mohammad) predicting the ultimate annihilation of all Jews by Muslims: "The hour of judgment will not come until you (Muslims) fight the Jews," he said. "The Jew will hide behind the stone and behind the tree. The stone and the tree will cry, 'Oh Muslim, Oh Servant of God, this is a Jew behind me, come and kill him'." A video of the rally, circulated by Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), showed the rally’s moderator introducing the mufti by saying: "Our war with the descendants of the apes and pigs [i.e. Jews] is a war of religion and faith. Long live Fatah!"
Although the Mufti described his speech as nothing more than an “end-of-times” prophesy3, and not an incitement to mass murder, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the Mufti’s speech as hateful and inciting to war, and called upon Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to condemn the Mufti’s words. Abbas did not.
Vitriolic and incendiary rhetoric by Muslim religious leaders against Jews and Israel is certainly nothing new in the history of the Arab-Israel conflict; and incitement to terrorism and mass murder by Yasir Arafat and other Palestinian leaders is well documented.4 Leaders from just about every Arab terror organization have for decades used references in Muslim religious texts to justify the destruction of Israel and the annihilation of its Jews and to re-cast their own attempts at mass murder of Israelis as an Islamic obligation. The Mufti Hussein himself used similar language during a sermon at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque in January, 2010 (see addendum), where he was unambiguous in exhorting Muslims to kill Jews because they are "enemies of Allah."
Shortly after the Mufti’s speech, the National Conference on Jewish Affairs (NCJA) called upon President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the leadership of the House and Senate and the chairmen and ranking chairpersons of the House and Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to condemn this explicit call to the genocide of Jews. The NCJA also exhorted the Secretary General of the United Nations and leaders of human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, to join in this condemnation.
The UK’s foreign minister, Congressman Howard Berman, and Americans for Peace Now have condemned the Mufti’s genocidal diatribe and urged PA President Abbas to do so as well. Candidates for the Republican nomination have strongly and consistently condemned Palestinian incitement against Israel and criticized Obama and his cabinet for their silence on this issue. Our President has remained silent.
Given our President’s attempts to represent himself as our country’s most pro-Israel president ever, it is strange that he does not speak out, even thought his silence risks losing Jewish votes; especially since history provides us with an amazingly similar situation 66 years ago.
In 1946, when Harry Truman was President,5 the current Mufti’s predecessor, the Hajj Amin el-Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem6, delivered similarly blood-curdling diatribes calling on the entire Arab world to unite, kill all the Jews, and turn the Mediterranean Sea red with Jewish blood. Coming in the immediate aftermath of World War II and the emergence of the mind-numbing truth about the Holocaust, Husseini’s genocidal vitriol caused an uproar among many worldwide, including, but not limited to, supporters of Zionism in the USA. As the 1948 presidential elections loomed near, Republican candidates used Husseini’s words as the springboard for their condemnation of Arab intransigence and anti-Jewish harangues. Republican presidential candidates Sen. Robert Taft and Gov. Thomas Dewey repeatedly spoke out in favor of the creation of a Jewish state, and they harshly criticized the Truman administration for its failure to do so.
While the Democratic Party followed with its own endorsement, being the first meant something to even the Jewish and Christian Zionist voters who were registered Democrats, hence the Republican landslide in the 1946 midterm congressional elections, and the election of the first Republican senator from New York in 30 years.
Whatever influence President Truman’s personal feelings about Jews may have had on his political decisions7 evaporated in light of the obvious political gain to be had by courting pro-Israel voters. In 1946, he endorsed the idea of a Jewish state and expressed support for the UN Partition Plan, just before Governor Dewey did so. At midnight, May 14, 1948, the Provisional Government of Israel proclaimed the new State of Israel. On that same date the United States, in the person of President Truman, recognized the provisional Jewish government as de facto authority of the new Jewish state (de jure recognition was extended on January 31, 1949).
Again, being first counted for something, as did choosing right over wrong and putting our nation’s priorities over his personal predilections. Truman won in 1948.
Now, as then, choosing right over wrong and putting our nation’s priorities over personal predilections counts for something. And especially now, when nations and leaders worldwide are quick to condemn Israel’s construction of homes for its growing population but stand mute, inert and complicit in the face of the palpable evil of Arab incitement to genocide and terrorist mass murder, speaking out counts for something.
Will our president learn from his illustrious predecessor’s history? Will he recognize evil for what it is as Arab diatribe resurrects the Nazi Final Solution? Will he understand that silence in the face of evil is complicity, and complicity with evil is evil? Or will he stand idly by, complicit in his silence?
1. Reason in Common Sense, vol. I, The Life of Reason, 1905-6. Winston Churchill and others have made similar quips. http://www.quotes-daily.com/2009/09/winston-churchill-quote-those-that-fail.html.
3. Judging from the actual words the Mufti used in his speech, it is difficult to believe that he was merely quoting a Hadith, but rather was indeed rallying his audience to war against modern Israel and Jews everywhere: "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.' Except the Gharqad tree [which will keep silent (because it is the tree of the Jews)].Therefore it is no wonder that you see Gharqad [trees] surrounding the [Israeli] settlements and colonies.."
5. Much of the following, unless otherwise indicated, is taken from Rafael Medoff, “How the Mufti of Jerusalem Once Impacted America’s Presidential Election — and Could Do So Again,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, February 1, 2012, at http://www.nysun.com/foreign/how-the-mufti-of-jerusalem-once-impacted-americas/87688/.
6. For a biographical review of Amin el-Husseini, see http://books.google.com/books/about/Icon_of_Evil.html?id=QMts5Z36kjAC and its review, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/28/books/review/Segev-t.html.
7. For insight into Truman’s vacillation about policy decisions related to Israel and about his personal anti-Jewish sentiments, see http://www.mideastweb.org/us_supportforstate.htm; http://www.adl.org/anti_semitism/oped_truman.asp and http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/israel/large/index.php .
The message in this sermon is unambiguous: “Today’s Jews and Israelis are enemies of Allah and humanity - Kill them!”
"The loathsome occupation in Palestine - its land and its holy places - by these new Mongols and what they are perpetrating upon this holy, blessed and pure land - killing, assassination, destruction, confiscation, Judaization (sic!), harassment and splitting the homeland - are clear proof of [unintelligible word - Ed.] hostility, of incomparable racism, and of Nazism of the 20th century. The Jews, the enemies of Allah and of His Messenger, the enemies of Allah and of His Messenger! Enemies of humanity in general, and of Palestinians in particular - they wage war against us using all kinds of crimes, and as you see - even the mosques are not spared their racism...
"Our enmity with the Jews is a matter of [or 'based on'] faith; our enmity with the Jews is a matter of faith, more than an enmity owing to [or 'arising from'] occupation and the land."
"Were the Palestinian people not the owners of the orchards of Haifa and Jaffa? Were the Palestinian people not the owners of the buildings of Sheikh Munis [today's Ramat Aviv], Safed and Acre? And from [a situation of] orchards and the citrus exports [they have been reduced] to UNRWA and to food stamps, and from buildings and from the Mediterranean beaches to refugee camps and to exile. Why, Oh nation of victory and of Shahada (Martyrdom)?! Why, Oh nation of Islam?! Because we forgot that which we were told [in the Quran], because we forgot that which we were told, and Allah allowed the Jews to punish us."
"Oh Muslims! The Jews are the Jews. The Jews are the Jews. Even if donkeys would cease to bray, dogs cease to bark, wolves cease to howl and snakes to bite, the Jews would not cease to harbor hatred towards Muslims. The Prophet said that if two Jews would be alone with a Muslim, they would think only of killing him. Oh Muslims! This land will be liberated, these holy places and these mosques will be liberated, only by means of a return to the Quran and when all Muslims will be willing to be Jihad Fighters for the sake of Allah and for the sake of supporting Palestine, the Palestinian people, the Palestinian land, and the holy places in Palestine. The Prophet says: 'You shall fight the Jews and kill them, until the tree and the stone will speak and say: 'Oh Muslim, Oh servant of Allah' - the tree and the stone will not say, 'Oh Arab,' they will say, 'Oh Muslim'. And they will not say, 'Where are the millions?' and will not say, 'Where is the Arab nation?' Rather, they will say, 'Oh Muslim, Oh servant of Allah - there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.' Except for the Gharqad tree [tree mentioned in the Quran - Ed.], which is the tree of the Jews. Thus, this land will be liberated only by means of Jihad…”