As you can see from the headline, the writer of this article is a bit of a self-appointed ass. In over 27,000 blog posts, hundreds of articles and three books, I never claimed to be a "self-appointed spokesperson for moderate Muslims." How can you read this interview and make that the takeaway? Ridiculous. I don't know what is wrong with these Jewish publications. Sick in the head? The heart? The soul? Perhaps all three.
But do read the interview. And check out the comments — they're fantastic.
NEW YORK – Pamela Geller doesn’t mince words.
“In any war between the civilized man and
the savage, support the civilized man,” read a recent ad campaign she
organized in New York City’s subways. In case anyone was confused as to
the identity of the civilized man, it urged readers to “support Israel,
The campaign was one of a series of efforts –
including opposition to the opening of a Muslim
center near Ground Zero
in Manhattan – that have brought the New York native a measure of
notoriety, and accusations of bigotry.
Geller denies those accusations vehemently. ABC News quoted her last year arguing that the “savage” in the ad was not a reference to all Muslims, but to terrorists.
“The point is any war on civilians is
savagery. The rockets going into Israel by Gaza is savagery, blowing up
buses is savagery, targeting a bus of Jewish mothers and children,
savagery, Daniel Pearl, 9/11, 7/7 [terror attacks in London], 3/11
[terror attacks in Madrid], are all savagery,” she said at the time.
“I’m just restating the obvious.”
In a response to a post in the Atlantic Wire
that blasted the claim “that the bombs in Boston were the inevitable
result of [the bombers’] religion,” Geller insisted the criticism
misrepresented her position.
“No one ever said that believers in Islam would ‘inevitably’ become terrorists,” she wrote angrily. “But when has a mainstream media report on counter-jihadists ever not misrepresented our views?”
Yet many argue her “anti-jihad” agenda is
larger, and targets Muslims as a whole, and the entire religion of Islam
without distinguishing between moderates and supporters of violence.
The Southern Poverty Law Center decried her “broad-brush denunciations of Islam” as “shrill and coarse.”
(There is plenty of “broad-brush” language easily found in her prolific writings. She wrote in a headline on her blog that the Atlantic Wire writer, Elspeth Reeve, “carries water for slaughterers,” and has written that President Barack Obama “wants jihad to win.”)
The Anti-Defamation League has accused her
of “consistently vilifying the Islamic faith under the guise of
fighting radical Islam,” and introducing “a growing number of Americans”
to a “conspiratorial anti-Muslim agenda.”
“Terrorism inspired by fundamentalist Islam is
indeed a true threat to America, Israel and democracies around the
world,” ADL national chairman Robert Sugarman wrote in March 2012.
“But in directing her rhetoric at the entire Islamic faith — indeed, in
supporting campaigns to suggest that Muslims should abandon their faith
entirely — Geller fuels and fosters anti-Muslim bigotry in society,”
The Times of Israel engaged the 55-year-old
Jewish blogger in an email exchange about her views on Islam and
Muslims, and on the criticism she has faced, and made a point of asking
whether Geller is, as the ADL has said, a bigot, or merely an impolitic
and impolite activist against Muslim extremism.
You have been labeled an Islamophobe, someone opposed to Islam as a whole and prejudiced against Muslims. Are you?
Of course, not. I’m
a human rights activist. I fight for all people who yearn for freedom.
Who speaks for the Muslims who flee jihadi wars, Sharia, honor killings
and misogyny? I do.
But this is illustrative of the
smear and defamation campaign. I am opposed to jihad and to the most
brutal and oppressive ideology on the face of the earth: the Sharia
[Islamic religious law]. These smear merchants are implying that all
Muslims support jihad, which is patently untrue. The tactical strategy
of the enemy in the war of ideas is to defame and libel the few who dare
speak to the gravest threat that the West faces. And in doing so, in
marginalizing and demonizing my colleagues and me, they kill the
messenger, and thereby make the message undeliverable.
Who speaks for the Muslims who flee jihadi wars, Sharia, honor killings and misogyny? I do.
Do you support the liberalization of
Muslim societies? Can you describe briefly what you would see as an
ideal future for the Muslim world?
Yes. An ideal future for the Muslim world
would be one in which women would not live in fear of clitoridectomies,
honor killings, divinely sanctioned spousal abuse (cf. Koran 4:34) and
all the other elements of the institutionalized oppression of women
under Sharia. Non-Muslims would have equal rights with Muslims. People
could leave Islam without fear of being murdered for it. And the freedom
of speech, even speech critical of Islam, would be protected.
In 2010, you told the New York Times,
“I believe in the idea of a moderate Muslim. I do not believe in the
idea of a moderate Islam.” Can you elaborate on the distinction? Are
there no moderates among believing Muslims?
The texts and teachings of Islam — the Qur’an
and Sunnah, the teachings of the various schools of Islamic law and the
Islamic sects — teach warfare against and subjugation of unbelievers.
This is not moderate. There are many Muslims who are not pursuing the
jihad against non-Muslims and never will, but that does not change the
teachings of Islam. The Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
famously also said that “there is no moderate Islam” — is he an
Then are we doomed to a civilizational conflict? What needs to happen to avert such an outcome?
We are not doomed to a civilizational
conflict: if we stood up for our own values and the freedoms that are
denied by Sharia, many Muslims would stand with us.
The Hebrew Bible contains commandments
to seek peace and love one’s fellow, but also the divine demand to
exterminate whole nations and stone to death those who desecrate the
Sabbath. But the ancient text has been interpreted over the millenia to
the point where it is absolutely forbidden by all rabbis to, for
example, kill over Sabbath observance. In similar fashion, do you see an
interpretation of Islam that does not subscribe to the teachings you
find abhorrent? Is there a “good Islam” out there, or do you feel most
or all believing Muslims in fact subscribe to, as you said, jihad, honor
killings and misogyny?
The literal understanding of the Koran is
mainstream in the Islamic world, including its commands to make war on
unbelievers, etc. No sect of Islam or school of Islamic jurisprudence
teaches that contrary to Koran 5:82, the Jews are not the worst enemies
of the Muslims, or that contrary to Koran 4:34,there are no
circumstances, ever, in which a man should beat a woman, or that
contrary to Koran 98:6, the unbelievers are not the most vile of created
beings. There is no open-ended, universal command in the Jewish Bible
for all Jews to make war against and subjugate non-Jews; there is such a
command in the Koran (9:29). There are Muslims who reject these aspects
of Islam, others who ignore them, and still others who are unaware of
The reality is we do not see Jews killing in the name of Hashem or Christians slaughtering in the name of Christ.
The ADL is probably the most
prominent, and presumably least welcome, group to come out against your
work. It has accused you of promoting a “virulent anti-Muslim bigotry
and conspiracy theories.” How would you react to ADL’s accusation?
Considering that the ADL has recently attacked
Israel for forbidding Eurovision contestants from wearing designs by
the anti-Semitic, pro-Hitler designer John Galliano [Galliano infamously
launched into anti-Semitic tirades in 2011, then apologized for them,
an apology that was ‘welcomed’ and accepted by the ADL
– HG], and has attacked Joan Rivers and Seth MacFarlane as well as me
instead of doing what it should be doing — defending Jews and Israel —
it is hard for me to take their criticism seriously.
The ADL is more like the Defamation League. ADL was successfully sued
for $10.5 million for defaming a Colorado couple accused of bigotry…
They smear and run. If I weren’t a “public persona,” I would sue, too.
The ADL is more dangerous to the Jews than her avowed enemies, because
they appear to be on our side — and yet undermine the staunchest and
fiercest Zionists. The enemies of freedom use the compromised Jews of
the ADL to defame and destroy a Jew who is truly standing up for Israel
and for the principles of freedom and human rights that the Jewish State
represents. It’s inexcusable. It’s time the ADL went after the real
enemies of Israel and stop getting their talking points from Muslim
Brotherhood groups in America.
The Colorado case, if anything, may
demonstrate an over-zealousness in their pursuit of anti-Semitism. But
many people, including journalists and many Jewish leaders, view the ADL
as an authority when it comes to identifying prejudice. What are they
getting wrong about you?
If the ADL were an authority in identifying
prejudice, why is it excusing John Galliano, whose vile Jew-hatred he
expressed not once but repeatedly? Why is the ADL criticizing Israel for
not wanting Israelis representing Israel to wear his designs?
What they are getting wrong about me is that
my work is devoted entirely to defending the freedom of speech, the
freedom of conscience, and equality of rights for all people. They are
so wedded to their leftist political perspective that they cannot or
will not see this.
Is there an Islamic conspiracy to take
over America? What exactly do you mean when you warn against, for
example, the imposition of Sharia, or the silencing of criticism of
Islam? Is it organized, or do you see it as a cultural fault line with
different expectations on both sides? You are accused of being a
“conspiracist.” Are you?
The Muslim Brotherhood’s stated goal in the West, according to an internal captured document
entered into evidence in the largest Hamas funding trial in US history,
“is eliminating and destroying Western civilization from within.” All
of the major Muslim organizations in the US are linked to the Muslim
Brotherhood. That is not a conspiracy theory, that is conspiracy fact.
In the latest cancellation of one of
your talks, Rabbi Mendel Kaplan of the Chabad synagogue in Thornhill,
Ontario, called off your speaking engagement after a conversation with
local police. The police later said in a statement that holding the
event “would place [Rabbi Kaplan] in conflict with the values of our
organization, which support a safe, welcoming and inclusive community
for all.” Rabbi Kaplan, as you know, is also a chaplain in the police.
How do you understand this cancellation, and in particular the
involvement of law enforcement in denying you a chance to speak?
The “stuff” that I speak about — gender
apartheid, creed apartheid, Islamic Jew-hatred, honor killing — runs
contrary to their values? What exactly are their values? Imposing
Sharia? Because that’s exactly what they’re doing. My value is life.
The police have no business deciding what is or is not acceptable speech.
Can you expand on that? This case
caused quite a stir, and from a distance it’s hard not to question the
role of the police in closing down a public gathering. Did they accuse
you of inciting violence? Or was it simply, as the police statement
explained, that they felt you were not conducive to a “safe, welcoming
and inclusive community?”
No, they did not [accuse me of inciting
violence]. They said I took stands contrary to their values. Does that
mean they support jihad violence, gender apartheid, creed apartheid,
etc.? My value is life. What values of mine do they reject? They did not
specify because, I suspect, they’re aware of what a difficult position
they’ve placed themselves in.
I am enormously interested in the file of the
“hate crime investigation” that they said they had conducted on me. I
will be pursuing that.
Are you angry at Rabbi Kaplan for apparently bowing to the pressure?
No. I am saddened that such pressure is brought upon decent and freedom-loving people, and saddened whenever anyone bows to it.
Three years ago you told the New York
Times, “You know, it really is a war of ideas and it’s important. That’s
why the free-speech issue for me is everything. It’s the line in the
sand; it is the difference between peace and war, because with freedom
of speech, peaceful men can effect change. Without freedom of speech,
peaceful men have no choice but to resort to violence. You have no
alternative. Freedom of speech is the line in the sand.”
What is the “war of ideas?” How would
you describe the two sides? And how is it related to the New York subway
campaign, where you urged to support “the civilized man.” Who is that?
How does one distinguish between the savage and the civilized?
The war of ideas is a conflict of values. My
value is life, freedom, and the exaltation of the individual, whereas my
opponents revere death, authoritarianism and collectivism.
Savages murder innocent civilians and pass out
candies to celebrate the murders. The civilized do not. I believe in
the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, equality of rights of
all people before the law, and individual rights. The proponents of
Sharia do not.
Can you be more specific about who you
feel falls into the category of savages? For example, the subway ads
spoke about supporting Israel. When you speak about “savages,” are you
referring narrowly to Hamas terror cells or more broadly to the
Palestinians in general? What portion of the Muslim world do you believe
falls into that category of murderers of innocent civilians?
I answered this question already in the
portion of my earlier statement that you quote here. The war against
Israel is a war on innocent civilians. When the Fogel family was
murdered, the jihad murderers slit their baby’s throat. What is someone
who slits a baby’s throat but a savage? Blowing up a bus of Jewish women
and children on holiday in Bulgaria is savagery. Then there was general
celebration among the Palestinians in Gaza, with people handing out
candy and cheering. Who cheers the murder of an innocent family but
Obviously any Palestinian who abhors and rejects such savagery is not the focus of my ad.
When the MTA originally rejected the
ads, you called the transit authority “pro-jihad” and
“sharia-compliant.” You also successfully fought to obtain a permit to
place the ads in New York subways. Beyond the context of that specific
fight, how serious were you about those jabs at the MTA?
Very serious. My ads were anti-jihad. So in
opposing them, the MTA was pro-jihad, particularly since they ran
numerous anti-Israel campaigns in the same venues without a murmur of
complaint. They were enforcing the blasphemy laws under the Sharia,
whether they knew it or not. Under the blasphemy laws, you cannot
criticize or offend Islam. In opposing my ads, the MTA was
How would you characterize the
resistance many authorities, whether Canadian policemen or New York
transit authorities, show when it comes to your campaigns?
Authorities are afraid of Muslim claims of
victimhood, which are a vehicle for the spread of Islamic supremacism
and the crushing of all resistance to jihad, and very fearful of being
tarred as “bigots” — which is why Islamic supremacists so frequently
resort to this charge.
How would you describe an anti-Muslim
bigot? What sort of viewpoint or statement about Muslims would make you
come to the Muslims’ defense?
An actual anti-Muslim bigot is against Muslims
as such — even those who have come to the US to escape the Sharia
oppression about which I speak and write.
What sort of statement would make me come to the aid of a bigot? I would never defend bigotry.
Could you expand on that question of
free speech? Why is it so important to your worldview? How do you see
the issue of free speech affecting the relationship between Islam and
Free speech is the cornerstone of our
Constitutional republic. That’s why it is in the First Amendment, and
not the 5th or 9th. Free speech, most particularly political speech, is
the only means for free men to resolve conflicts. Without freedom of
speech, peaceful men have no alternative but to resort to violence. It
is our fundamental bulwark against tyranny.
Islamic law forbids criticism of Islam. If we
do not have free speech, we cannot resist jihad; it will advance
unimpeded while we stand by mute, unable to speak out against it for
fear of charges of “Islamophobia.”
One final question. If you had a
platform to speak before a representative gathering of Muslim Americans,
what would you tell them?
I would tell them that it is time to work for
honest reform, in word and deed, of the elements of the Koran and
Islamic teaching in general that call for warfare, oppress women and
non-Muslims, mandate death for apostates, etc. And that anyone who
sincerely, in word and deed, accepts Constitutional freedoms and is
ready to defend them and fight against those who subvert them should
join me in the defense of freedom.
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