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activisms_54-66_December 2010 Activisms 10/27/10 10:17 AM Page 58

A panel discussion at Drake University in Des Moines featured (l-r) Saima Zafar, Luai Amro, moderator Mahmoud Hamid, M. Zhudi Jasser and Bill Aossey, the first Muslim American to serve in the U.S. Peace Corps.

Islamic Center Hosts Open House, Conference On Sept. 17, the Islamic Center of Southern California staged its fifth open house and 58

Waging Peace

second annual conference on contemporary thought under the theme “Islam and NonMuslims: Relations Beyond Confrontation.” Intellectual discourse was exchanged by Dr. Maher Hathout, Dr. Ghada Othman, Dr. Gasser Hathout, Professer Khaled Abou El Fadl, and Prof. Najeeba Sayed-Miller. Jihad Turk moderated a panel which included Rev. Dr. Ed Bacon, rector of All Saints Church, Pasadena. In addressing the title of the panel, “Human Relations and the Role of Religion,” Reverend Bacon said that since 9/11, his mantra has been: “to be religious in the 21st century is to be inter-religious.” Acknowledging Maher Hathout’s statement that there are two Islams, Reverend Bacon said there are also two Christianities: “There is the Christianity of Jerry Falwell, Franklin Graham and Glenn Beck, with a message of hate that is a perversion of the teaching of Jesus, and there’s the alternative Christianity of Martin Luther King, Jr. as expressed in the last Sunday sermon he preached.”

Rashid Khalidi Notes Changes in Public Sphere


them,” he pointed out. “This is a grievance within society.…The most challenging factor we have in the world today is that 50 percent of the world’s population is under the age of 25, and 50 percent of the world’s population live on less than $2 per day, while 25 percent live on $1 a day. If you want to know where the global challenge is, it is not in Islamic extremism. It is from Brazil to Jakarta to Bangladesh and globally, where we have 50 percent of the population living in poverty,” said Aossey, who called for increased education, enlightenment, opportunity, and productivity. Espousing more positive and less confrontational attitudes, Aossey declared that the current climate of fear and tension will pass. “We’ll get over all of this,” he said. “I was born and raised in Iowa, and I’m an optimist.” During the question-and-answer period, Drake professor of economics Ismael Hossein-Zadah, author of The Political Economy of U.S. Militarism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), challenged Jasser’s critique on political grounds. “Terrorism is a symptom,” he argued. “I was hoping that you would look at the geopolitical aspects of terrorism, but you have chosen to blame Islam, to focus on ideology. This is a view…propagated by neoconservatives and scholars or so-called scholars such as Bernard Lewis, Daniel Pipes, and many others who argue that Islam is incompatible with modernization…This is the same ideology that Dr. Jasser is unfortunately parroting here. Let me point out that…there is terrorism because there is occupation, war, humiliation. Look at Palestine, look at Afghanistan, look at Iraq,” said Hossein-Zadeh, who articulated an historical perspective largely absent from Jasser’s analysis. —Michael Gillespie

Rev. Ed Bacon at the Islamic Center of Southern California conference.

Among the pearls of wisdom uttered at the conference was a statement by Prof. Abou El Fadl: “Extremism isn’t an Islamic phenomenon, it’s a human phenomenon.” Maher Hathout noted, “There are two groups that can be vilified in the U.S. today, Muslims and Mormons, yet any reporter who criticizes Israel is fired that day.” “What is a fundamentalist?” Reverend Bacon asked the audience—and answered, ”It’s a tone of voice.” —Pat McDonnell Twair

Before a standing-room-only crowd at the Palestine Center’s annual Edward Said Memorial lecture on Oct. 7, Columbia University Prof. Dr. Rashid Khalidi examined the “Palestine Question and the Public Sphere.” While some media commentators were talking about a peace process, he began, he would prefer to discuss why there is not a process that is leading toward peace. Khalidi noted the crucial role played by scholarly and non-academic writings, and later by the cinema and other media, in cementing American and British support for Zionism and later for the state of Israel. “In other words,” he explained, “in addition to being successful as an idea, as a national movement, and as a colonial settler phenomenon, political Zionism has always been a resounding public relations triumph.” After describing in detail how this Zionist-Israeli narrative attained its pre-eminent status in this country, Khalidi concluded with an assessment of whether the power of this narrative may be waning. There has been an increased willingness lately on the part of publishers, many of whom hold “blatant biases in favor of Israel” or at least shied away from this controversy, to consider publishing works that would have previously been considered too provocative to sell well, he said. Recently former U.S. President “Jimmy Carter’s Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, and John Mearsheimer and Steve Walt’s book on the Israeli lobby [The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy] have been major publishing successes. They showed, as have a few other books, that it is possible to publish profitably works critical of the received pro-Israeli version of events.” The situation also is changing on U.S. campuses, Khalidi said. When he and his brother attended university it was difficult to discuss the Palestinian issue on campus. DECEMBER 2010

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs  

Published to help provide the American public with balanced and accurate information concerning U.S. relations with Middle Eastern states.

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs  

Published to help provide the American public with balanced and accurate information concerning U.S. relations with Middle Eastern states.