Inter-faith “reconciliation” at Ground Zero: A sincerity test for Imam Rauf


A New York City community leader has an interesting (albeit naïve) idea that’s never going to happen, but it could spark some illuminating dialogue in the Ground Zero Mosque controversy.

Julie Menin, chair of the city’s community board has suggested that the embattled $100 million, 13-story Islamic “cultural center” be “transformed into an inter-faith center for reconciliation… to be shared by Muslims, Christians and Jews.”

That should go over just fine with the Ground Zero Mosque Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, since he has already announced to the world that he considers himself “a Jew.” A declaration that liberal journalists like Jeffrey Goldberg tout as proof that a Ground Zero monument to Islam is motivated by nothing but generous impulses of kindness, unity, and goodwill.

The right-wing campaign against the so-called “Ground Zero mosque” includes vicious personal attacks on the Muslim cleric who leads the Cordoba Initiative, the organization behind the plan. I know Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf, and I know him to be a moderate, forward-leaning Muslim — yes, it is true he has said things with which I disagree, but I have never expected him to function as a member of the Zionist Organization of America.

In 2003, Imam Rauf was invited to speak at a memorial service for Daniel Pearl, the journalist murdered by Islamist terrorists in Pakistan. The service was held at B’nai Jeshurun, a prominent synagogue in Manhattan, and in the audience was Judea Pearl, Daniel Pearl’s father. In his remarks, Rauf identified absolutely with Pearl, and identified himself absolutely with the ethical tradition of Judaism. “I am a Jew,” he said.

Jeffrey, if you read this, call me. I know a guy who can get you a really good deal on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. This is a well-known ancient Islamist mind trick. Ever since Mohammed conquered Mecca after lying them into complacency with a ten-year peace treaty, it has been Islamic tradition to sweet-talk adversaries until they can be subdued in a more conventional manner.

That’s why it’s amusing that Menin’s suggestion essentially challenges Rauf to put his money where his mouth is. Not that it would sway those like Goldberg, who are so completely lulled by tranquilizing words that they can’t fathom what ecumenical, unifying “I am a Jew” Rauf is actually asking of New Yorkers: That the same words that echoed through the cabin of UA175 while office workers were leaping from the North Tower inferno, “Allahu Akbar,” will echo over the asphalt that received those souls five times a day for perpetuity.

That is a lot of ask — not just because it opens wounds; but because, face it, there is no guarantee that more hatred wouldn’t fester within those walls. It’s common knowledge that prodigious anti-American fury seethes within many mosques. Americans are rightly concerned that an Islamic center at Ground Zero could be a magnet for Islamist fanatics of the sort that even Goldberg acknowledged would murder Rauf for consorting with Jews.  

Nevertheless, a traumatized populace, already spooked by the project’s dedication to Cordoba and the organizers’ irrational insistence that no other location would suit them, are being asked to trust the word of a man who is either a cunning, manipulative liar or suffers from multiple personality disorder.  

Useful infidels, like Goldberg, only see Fuzzy Rauf – a man the New York Times says “talks reconciliation between America and Middle Eastern Muslims” in “soft, almost New Agey” tones. Fuzzy Rauf praises our system, calls the U.S. Shariah “compliant,” and compares that vicious Islamic straitjacket to our Constitutional form of government. (Oddly his cheerleaders in the mainstream media, like Goldberg, never seem to find that strange.) All that matters is that Fuzzy Rauf sounds soothing, inclusive, tolerant, and says things like, “From our experience multiple religious voices praying together can serve our deepest common good.”

But then there is Scary Rauf, who sheds all pretense when speaking Arabic and declares that he “doesn’t believe in religious dialogue.” Scary Rauf feels the 9/11 attacks were justified, refuses to repudiate Hamas, and discusses the necessity of establishing an “Islamic state… through a “kingdom or democracy.”

“The important issue is to establish the general fundamentals of Sharia that are required to govern. It is known that there are sets of standards that are accepted by [Muslim] scholars to organize the relationships between government and the governed.”

Translation of Scary Rauf’s Arabic rants are available if Goldberg is interested. But, he’s not, because he’s too busy falling for the oldest con job in the book.

Nevertheless, Goldberg’s glowing tribute to Rauf’s courageous ecumenical impulses includes a fairly harsh indictment of his machete-wielding faith partners.

There are those who would argue that these represent mere words, chosen carefully to appease a potentially suspicious audience. I would argue something different: That any Muslim imam who stands before a Jewish congregation and says, “I am a Jew,” is placing his life in danger. Remember, Islamists hate the people they consider apostates even more than they hate Christians and Jews. In other words, the man many commentators on the right assert is a terrorist-sympathizer placed himself in mortal peril in order to identify himself with Christians and Jews, and specifically with the most famous Jewish victim of Islamism.

So off-hand. So casual. Say “I’m a Jew,” and off with your head. And yet Goldberg still doesn’t get why New Yorkers are skittish about these guys setting up shop at Ground Zero. Could you imagine anyone in your church fearing for his life after stating, rhetorically, “I am a Jew?” And yet Goldberg presumes that level of retaliation from Muslims. It makes it seem a teensy bit unfair that all of his frowns and scolds are reserved for “right-wing” Americans and their “vicious” albeit machete-free “personal attacks.”

Wake up Jeffrey! I strongly suspect that Rauf isn’t in danger of losing his head over all that “I am a Jew” claptrap.  Like a good Muslim, he had his fingers prominently crossed for all his brethren to see.

If Rauf agrees to Menin’s “inter-faith center for reconciliation,” I will admit I was wrong. But, even then, I think we should pay attention when he starts speaking Arabic.

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