Reform rabbis and orthodox mosques
While there are several absurd conspiracy theories about president Obama or members of his administration, and despite my utter disbelief in these theories, one can’t help but concede to the lingering feeling that this administration indeed has some unexplained biases. Biases which often expose themselves in the preoccupation with futile euphemisms regarding “religious extremism”, persistence in pursuing nuclear deals with a criminal terrorism-sponsoring theocratic regime, a State Department that believes ISIS fighters need economic opportunities, an ever deteriorating relationship with Israel or an adamant defense of Islam as a belief system.
The first example of this pattern of unexplained behavior is discrepancy in approaching different faith communities in the U.S. Early this year President Obama and a veiled first lady made their first mosque visit to the Islamic Society of Baltimore; an Orthodox gender segregated mosque which one of its prominent former imams is a radical orthodox preacher with direct ties to the Muslim Brotherhood abroad as well as ties to individuals who turned into Al Qaeda affiliate operatives. Obama spent 45 minutes defending the Muslim faith, American Muslims and condemning the rise of Islamophobia.
Not too long prior to the infamous mosque visit, the white house held a Hanukkah candle lighting ceremony which invited reform female Rabbi Susan Talve to light up the candles. Rabbi Talve is the founding rabbi of a St. Louis very liberal reform congregation which has been performing same gender marriages since 1981. Her congregation prides itself of fostering liberties for the LGBTQ communities, Jews of color and a wide array of liberal issues like black lives matter, gun control, affordable healthcare and combating Islamophobia. In the white house ceremony she prayed for “Justice for the Palestinians” and an enthusiastic “Inshallah, Inshallah, Inshallah.” In the 2014 the white house Hanukkah ceremony invited the reform female Rabbi Angela Buchdahl, an Asian American Jewish convert, and the poster child of Jewish patrilineal descent. In both instances, on the liberal scale both rabbis are extremely so.
The difference between the ways the white house chose to honor the two minorities is quite substantial. Why is it that when honoring the Jewish community the president chose to align himself with most liberal Reform Judaism but when honoring Muslims the president chose to align himself with suspicious, misogynist and homophobic orthodoxy?! There are many Muslim women in this country who are fighting for equal access to mosques, gay Muslims fighting for recognition, dissident ones fighting for moderation and Islamic reform movements fighting for their voice to be heard. Aren’t these peaceful moderate Muslims more worthy and in need of support than a mosque that compel little girls to stay in the dark gym room while boys are praying?! “As a Muslim American I’m just insulted, this is disgraceful that this is one of the mosques — or the mosque — that he’s chosen to visit,” Zuhdi Jasser, of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy commented on the visit.
Another very unsettling question is the association with CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relation. An accurate description of CAIR is that of Sam Harris “an Islamist public relations firm posing as a civil-rights lobby”. For some reason CAIR has a special relationship with the administration and some of its leaders were even invited to congress for the last state of the union speech. They are invited and do attend several meetings with president Obama to discuss issues regarding Muslims mainly on the issues of combating “religious discrimination” against Muslims. CAIR has direct Muslim Brotherhood ties, receives foreign funding, was listed by the Justice Department as an un-indicted co-conspirator in a plot to fund the terrorist group Hamas and is listed in other Muslim countries as a terrorist organization along with ISIS and Al Qaeda. Even inside the U.S the organization had been associated with a very troubling number of convicted terrorists as well as suspected terrorists. Yet, they still enjoy an alarming access to the policy makers. It is notable to say that other moderate reform Islamic groups such as the Muslim Reform Movements are not invited to white house events.
The list can go on and on counting incidences of unexplained behavior. Starting from the issue of Muslim refugees when Obama scolded the politicians who made anti-refugee remarks making fun of them being scared of “widows and three years old children” -the same refugees John Kerry said they are posing an existential threat to Europe just this last month– to the peculiar refusal of labeling whipping out of Christians in the Middle East as genocide. One should also wonder if the “unintentional” favoring of permitting Muslim Syrian refugees over Christian refugees is so unintentional after all. (State Department figures released in November showed that the system overwhelmingly favors Muslim refugees. Of that 2,184 Syrian refugees admitted only 53 were Christian.)
We may never have definitive answers to the questions of why the white house behaves the way it does, or why is it willing to associate itself with radical Islamists with suspicious ties. But we can’t deny the existence of the clear discrepancies obvious to our eyes. While the common wisdom does suggest that where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Sometimes it can be just a deep arrogant stupidity that is responsible for quite a bit of our foolish behaviors.