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Hirsi Ali Says Israel-Palestine Peace Impossible Due to Muslim Fanaticism

It’s been Hirsi Ali Month here at Tikun Olam.  First, she launched Honor Diaries on International Women’s Day, March 8th.  She executive produced that film with her Islamophobic pals at Clarion Project.  Then she was offered an honorary degree by Brandeis University recognizing her activism for women’s rights in the Muslim world, while ignoring her advocacy of military attack on all Islam.  Yesterday, Brandeis’ president came to his senses and withdrew the degree after it was first reported here and then became a cause celebre on campus, with students and faculty alike arising in anger at her intolerant utterances.

Today, Hirsi Ali released a stinging rebuke of Brandeis which faulted it for betraying its mandate to support free speech.  Here are notable excerpts:

I wish to dissociate myself from the university’s statement, which implies that I was in any way consulted about this decision. On the contrary, I was completely shocked when President Frederick Lawrence called me…

I assumed that Brandeis intended to honor me for my work as a defender of the rights of women against abuses that are often religious in origin…Part of my work has been to question the role of Islam in legitimizing such abhorrent practices. So I was not surprised when my usual critics, notably the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), protested against my being honored in this way.

What did surprise me was the behavior of Brandeis. Having spent many months planning for me to speak to its students at Commencement, the university yesterday announced that it could not “overlook certain of my past statements,” which it had not previously been aware of. Yet my critics have long specialized in selective quotation – lines from interviews taken out of context – designed to misrepresent me and my work. It is scarcely credible that Brandeis did not know this when they initially offered me the degree.

What was initially intended as an honor has now devolved into a moment of shaming. Yet the slur on my reputation is not the worst aspect of this episode. More deplorable is that an institution set up on the basis of religious freedom should today so deeply betray its own founding principles. The “spirit of free expression” referred to in the Brandeis statement has been stifled here, as my critics have achieved their objective of preventing me from addressing the graduating Class of 2014. Neither Brandeis nor my critics knew or even inquired as to what I might say. They simply wanted me to be silenced. I regret that very much.

She has every right to feel wronged by Brandeis, which should have done its due diligence and either didn’t, or didn’t understand the import of Hirsi Ali’s past statements in the context of the public airing they’d receive.  There is shame in this incident, but more for Brandeis than her.  But in using such a term she continues the imagery of victimization which it’s been so convenient for her to adopt in discussing what she sees as the damaged, inferior role of women in Islam.

But where she is disingenuous is in claiming that Brandeis violated any principle of free speech in denying her this degree.  Brandeis has no obligation to reward her for her views, which is what an honorary degree is.  It only has an obligation to encourage the free exchange of ideas among students and faculty on campus and in its courses.  Hirsi Ali’s books and views will continue being discussed in campus courses as they have been.  I’m sure Pres. Lawrence would’ve tried to make amends by inviting her to return to campus (not that I would personally choose this option myself) as he implied in his message yesterday.

Unfortunately, in her anger Hirsi Ali has closed off this option (at least for now, unless her neocon friends can arrange a sulha with Brandeis):

Brandeis has invited me “to join us on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues.” Sadly, in words and deeds, the university has already spoken its piece. I have no wish to “engage” in such one-sided dialogue. I can only wish the Class of 2014 the best of luck—and hope that they will go forth to be better advocates for free expression and free thought than their alma mater.

But the real point of this post was to raise some new, deeply alarming views of Hirsi Ali toward the Israel-Palestine conflict.  In Israel’s pro-Likud paper, Yisrael HaYom, she expounded on her Zionist Revisionist/Islamophobic views of Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians in particular.  Since this is an interview in which she is quoted, I presume she can’t claim she was misquoted or taken out of context, as she does above:

…Why is this [peace] process so prolonged? Because for the Israelis this issue is a territorial problem. For the Palestinian negotiators, on the other hand, it is not a territorial problem but a religious and ethnic one…

From the perspective of the Arab leaders, reaching a two-state solution is to betray God, the Koran, the hadith and the tradition of Islam.

…The presumption that the Palestinian negotiators are secular is not supported by facts. Were they secular, there would already be a settled territorial agreement of some kind. But there is no agreement as of today, because on one side it has become religious jihad of all or nothing, while on the other side it is still a territorial issue. Of course I know that there are Israelis who also perceive this as a religious problem; but their numbers pale in comparison to the Muslim side. Reaching a settlement that brings about two states is a religious betrayal — not only for the leadership but for most Muslims today. The West does not understand this.

The conception of religion in the West in the 20th and 21st century differs from that of Middle Eastern Muslims. The West successfully separated religion and politics, but even in places in the West where there is no distinct separation, still the concept of God and religion, even in the 13th or 15th century, differs to the current reality in the Middle East.

 …Islam has a goal. So if you are a true Muslim, you must fight for that goal. You can achieve a temporary peace or truce, but it is not ultimate, not everlasting. It is not just about the territory. Because the territory does not belong to the people; it belongs to God. So for a Palestinian leader — even if he is secular, even an atheist — to leave the negotiating room with the announcement of a two-state solution would mean that he would be killed the minute he walks out.

…More and more leaders see that this conflict is not going to be resolved Western-style, namely that all conflicts are resolvable and no-one leaves the table empty-handed.

In a culture dictated by honor and shame – in addition to the religious issue – defeat of any kind, accepting a compromise, is to leave the room empty-handed. Compromise is loss in this culture. It is very hard to explain this to contemporary Westerners.

To go on and on about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in my view is to take a tranquilizer or smoke pot. You do it just to feel better. You cannot face reality, so you just keep on harping about something that can make you feel better.

…If you want a [real peace] process, continue the way you are. If you want real, lasting peace, then things have to change first within the Arab Muslim individual, family, school, streets, education, and politics. It is not an Israeli problem.

…For cultural change to transpire we need one hundred years and more to pass.

You can pick any number you want. I am speaking of a lengthy, bloody period. But it is going to change.

A close reading of the above interview reveals that Hirsi Ali has a deeply distorted view of Islam, Arabs and Palestinians.  There is virtually nothing above that is factual or provable.  It is all personal opinion.  And as such, it is false.  She has no knowledge of Arabs or Palestinians.  I’d guess she doesn’t know any, doesn’t care to, and hasn’t visited Palestine.  If that’s the case and she derives all of her “knowledge” from her pro-Israel necon sources in Israel and elsewhere, how can she make any claims about The Other?

As for doing drugs, I’d say that it is she who lives in a delusional state buttressed by grievance and devoid of historical evidence.  What is compelling about Hirsi Ali is her personal narrative.  What is not compelling is the spin she has added to it.  It is frightening that the world turns to this “scholar” as an expert on anything more than her own personal suffering.  She would do much better to write novels than expound on reality.

{ 30 comments… add one }
  • Sara April 9, 2014, 8:25 PM

    I don’t understand. Isn’t this stuff in the Hamas charter?

    • Richard Silverstein April 9, 2014, 9:33 PM

      @Sara: No, that would be the Protocols of the Elders of Gaza.

      This is off-topic and been done to death here by far better hasbaristas before you.

      • Sara April 10, 2014, 7:28 PM

        [comment deleted for comment rule violation. Failure to respect the rules may result in moderation]

      • Sara April 10, 2014, 7:55 PM

        [comment deleted – respect editorial direction or lose your privileges here]

        • Donald April 11, 2014, 7:50 AM

          You’re being disingenuous when you say “I don’t understand”, Sara. Yes, there are fanatical Muslims who hate Jews, though as it happens the growth of Hamas was encouraged by Israel to split the Palestinians. The point is that Hirsi Ali is demonizing the Palestinians as a whole and dismissing their legitimate grievances because she filters everything through her bigotry.

  • Ben Silverstein April 10, 2014, 7:59 AM

    “What is compelling about Hirsi Ali is her personal narrative. What is not compelling is the spin she has added to it.”

    I couldn’t agree more with this.

  • Oui April 10, 2014, 11:19 AM

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali describes herself as a “dissident of Islam.” Despite threats to her life, Ali remains outspoken about freedom of expression, hatred of Jews, and reform of Islam.
    U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Presents Ayaan Hirsi Ali as Voice on Antisemitism

    Why is Ayaan Hirsi Ali pushing the envelop as Islamophobe, talking about issues she has no knowledge of and therefore spreading false information. Is that her task being employed as resident fellow for the American Enterprise Institute and accepting funding from the Clarion Project for her awkward film the Honor Diaries?

    So in the end, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is once again reunited with her former colleague in Dutch parliament, Geert Wilders, with the same Islamphobic backers of Robert Spencer, Pamela Geller and Daniel Pipes. At least this provides clarity: anti-Islam and pro-Israel on the issues in the Middle East.

  • Oui April 10, 2014, 11:42 AM

    In 2008: Book Review Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s “Infidel” – a discussion.

    “An article about her being discredited in Holland for lying in order to obtain refugee status:

    The Guardian: MP in immigration row to leave Netherlands – 2006

    “Somali-born politician admits lying to get asylum”

    Some comments on a documentary produced and shown in Holland:

    “The documentary I believe demonstrates, in devastating fashion, that Hirsi Ali is an even bigger fraud than she is given credit for by people with genuine knowledge about the subjects she pontificates on. Why? Because she is an invented persona. As you may know, her reputation is built on her purported suffering as an oppressed Islamic woman, forced marriage, and determination to escape not only this forced marriage but the purported consequence of leaving it – an honour killing at the hands of her shamed relatives.”

    Zembla = Dutch television documentary programme produced by VARA (left of center) broadcasting organisation
    VVD = Free People’s Democracy, main liberal (i.e. right-wing) Dutch political party (currently governing coalition member) Party knew that Ayaan Hirsi Ali Invented her Escape Story.

  • Gary Fouse April 12, 2014, 11:25 AM

    Perhaps, if you had lived Ayaan’s experiences with Islam, you might understand why she has a negative view of Islam. Ayaan puts her life on the line to say what she does. What do you risk? As it is, you use the same vicious tactics against her that you use against Chloe Valdary, a young African-American college student you equate to an “Uncle Tom” because she supports Israel.

    Ten of you couldn’t make one Ayaan Hirsi Ali-or one Chloe Valdary.

    • Richard Silverstein April 13, 2014, 8:25 PM

      @ Gary Fouse: But she has not had negative experiences with Islam. Most of those negative experiences were fictional as proven by the links I’ve offered. No forced marriage. No flight from threatening family. She wasn’t even born in Somalia. All fiction.

      • Dieter Heymann April 14, 2014, 5:01 PM

        The only proven negative experience for later life happened when she was five years old. When her father was temporarily absent her grandmother had her “circumcised” against the wishes of her father.
        Indeed AHA is one of the great pretenders of our time.

  • gary fouse April 14, 2014, 12:55 PM

    All, fiction, eh? Was the murder of Theo Van Gogh in Holland over the film he made with Ali all fiction? Are the threats on her life because of that film and her comments and writings about Islam all fiction? Do you really want to make that argument?

    • Dieter Heymann April 14, 2014, 5:12 PM

      I detest the murderer of Theo van Gogh.
      Have you seen the film? I have. It is a vile analog of the Nazi film “Der Jud’ Suess”.
      I have lived in Amsterdam for 30 years. Theo van Gogh was a blustering big mouth. Every Amsterdamer knew that he was also a “zacht eitje”, a “softie”. The blustering was merely his “schtick”. I am pretty sure that it was AHA who talked Theo into making that film.

  • Dieter Heymann April 14, 2014, 4:54 PM

    The Dutch citizenship of Ms. Ali was revoked by a cabinet member of the Dutch government (but was subsequently restored by parliament) because she had lied on her application for asylum which she has admitted. The most egregious lies were that she had been persecuted by Muslims, a lie that was totally debunked by her own family. In the spring of 1933 my mom with my sister and myself fled from Germany to the Netherlands where she asked for asylum and got it. One does not lie when asking for asylum because that generates opposition to asylum granting. I have contempt for Ms. Ali on this score.
    However, there is more. Ms Ali was the driving force on the movie “Submission” which I have seen. It is a vile anti-Muslim analog of the Nazi propaganda movie “der Jud’ Suess”. It cost Theo van Gogh his life.

  • Gary Fouse April 14, 2014, 5:36 PM


    I have not seen the film, Submission, so I will not challenge your description. It is my understanding that it criticizes Islam’s treatment of women. Perhaps you disagree on that point and think that women are treated just fine. If you take that position, you have many interesting debates ahead of you. As for Theo Van Gogh, maybe he was a less than great person. However, that does not justify his murder. Nor does it justify anyone trying to kill Hirsi Ali.

    As for her life story, she has admitted she lied on her application papers as to her correct name, DOB and the countries she visited before arriving in Holland because she did not want to hurt her chances of staying there. If you want to take those lies and discount everything that she says, that is your privilege. You can also take the word of her family vs hers as to whether they were trying to arrange a marriage for her. You concede she was circumsized and Richard denies it.

    There are a couple of points that neither of you can deny. First, Van Gogh was murdered in a hideous fashion because of the film and Ali he made. Second. Ali has also been a target for death ever since for the same reason. You can attack both of these individuals till the cows come home, but you cannot change those facts or justify them in any way.

    • Richard Silverstein April 15, 2014, 1:50 AM

      @ Gary Fouse: I never said a word about whether Hirsi Ali had female circumcision. Do NOT put words in my mouth I didn’t utter. That’s a serious offense here.

    • Dieter Heymann April 15, 2014, 6:15 AM

      What on Earth makes you deduce from my posting that I might think that “women are just treated fine”? Rational criticism of the treatment of women is not only “fine” with me, it is necessary. “Submission” is not a rational critique. It is a vile piece of anti-Muslim propaganda. Did it deserve the knifing of van Gogh? No. Did the knifing of van Gogh vindicate “Submission”? No. “Submission” informs me about the mentality of its producers.
      Your third paragraph is a textbook example of averring “you cannot change the facts” when we have not “changed the facts” by one iota. Hence that paragraph deserves no answer.
      Now if you are eager to learn about truly courageous women I recommend that you Google Yad Vashem and scan their list of “Righteous of the Nations”. I have known several of the Dutch women on that list (e.g. Tineke Wibaut Guillonard and Mevrouw Haak). They did not write books or make films against Nazism but put their lives on the line, in most cases in concentration camps, to save people from certain murder. Incidentally, my mom (Erika Heymann-Geck) is on that list too, hence I need no lectures on courage and putting your life on the line. I was 16 when my mom was arrested for hiding Jews in our apartment in Amsterdam to be incarcerated in KZ Vught. What has this AHA done that comes even close to the acts of these true heroines?

      • Richard Silverstein April 15, 2014, 1:28 PM

        @ Dieterr Heyman: I also urge you to read, if you haven’t yet, my friend Mark Klempner’s book, The Heart has Reasons, about five Dutch Righteous Gentiles who saved Jews during the Holocaust at great personal danger.

  • gary fouse April 15, 2014, 9:29 AM


    OK I was under the impression you had disputed that. But if you don’t dispute it then perhaps you can understand Hirsi Ali’s feelings a bit, or not?

    • Richard Silverstein April 15, 2014, 1:26 PM

      @ gary fouse: Why would you say I was under the impression I denied Hirsi Ali’s claim about circumcision? What gave you this impression? Did you bother to find any evidence before making this dumb baseless claim.

      As for understanding Hirsi Ali’s feelings, why should I “understand” anything other than the truth & facts of her past, which are at extreme variance with almost all her claims about her origins and life?

  • Gary Fouse April 15, 2014, 9:48 AM


    perhaps you can take this opportunity to state what you think about about Islam’s treatment of women and whether it should be discussed by the public. I, for my part, will make it a point to view the film submission if it is online and decide for myself on its merits.

    As for my paragraph that doesn’t deserve an answer, very convenient because neither you not Richard can address that issue. So “it doesn’t deserve an answer”. Does Ali deserve to have to live her life under security because she criticizes Islam?

    As for Dutch people you mention, that’s all well and good. I am very sensitive to the topic of anti-Semitism and consider myself an activist in fighting it. As for lectures on putting yourself at risk, I did not address those remarks to you, rather to Richard.

    • Dieter Heymann April 15, 2014, 1:02 PM

      I quote: “perhaps you can take this opportunity to state what you think about about Islam’s treatment of women…” No. That is not the topic hence it is what one calls a diversionary tactic. In fact, I am much more interested in how American males than how Muslims treat their women. Charity begins at home, right?
      With regards to “Submission” how long (in minutes) was the version that you saw? That is relevant because there are significantly cut versions available on line.
      “Submission” and “Der Jud’ Suess” are both cookies from the same dough: vile propaganda against all members of a religion in the first case and against all members of a perceived race in the second case. You deserve no break.

    • Richard Silverstein April 15, 2014, 1:23 PM

      @ Gary Fouse: Before you published your first comment you saw a message insisting that you read the comment rules, which you apparently failed to do. One of the prime rules is to stay ON-TOPIC. That is, stay close to the topic of the post. The topic of the post was NOT to analyze Islam’s mistreatment of women. It was to discuss Hirsi Ali’s comments about the I-P conflict.

      Neither this blog nor this thread are your play toy to ramble on about things you dislike about Islam. Just as I don’t allow others to use this blog to drone about what they hate about Jews.

      You apparently are sensitive to anti-Semitism but have no appreciation of or sensitivity to Islamophobia. Why am I not surprised?

    • Dieter Heymann April 15, 2014, 1:27 PM

      I quote: “Does Ali deserve to have to live her life under security because she criticizes Islam”? Of course not.
      In April of 1933 my dad, Stefan Heymann, who knew that he might be arrested any day on the order of Hermann Goering, the police chief of Prussia, did not run away to seek asylum outside Germany but remained in Germany and published a scathing article of what Hitler was going to do to Germany for which he was arrested and given the “security” of 12 years of bed and breakfast at Dachau, Buchenwald, Auschwitz-Monowitz, and back to Buchenwald. He survived. If AHA had had a microgram of courage she would have remained in Kenya and begun to organize Kenyan women. She may be a remarkable person but a heroine? No way. She ran.
      As for myself, in February of 1945 I was called up to serve in Hitler’s army. I “disappeared” because I was not going to fight for his cause. Had I been caught I would have been hanged. Enough of AHA. Basta.

  • Gary Fouse April 15, 2014, 10:36 AM


    I just watched Submission. And you compare that to the story line in Jud Suss? Give me a break.

  • fouse, gary c April 15, 2014, 4:25 PM

    [comment deleted–another comment rule violation. I don’t debate my editorial decisions or entertain arguments about them. You have my editorial judgment. Accept it & act accordingly if you wish to continue commenting.]

  • gary fouse April 15, 2014, 4:35 PM


    I agree that there is not much we can do about the treatment of Muslim women overseas, but we can insist that our own laws protect them if they are in the US just as American women.

    I saw the 10-minute version. I understand there is one that deals with gays as well which I have not found yet.
    Sorry. I still don’t see your equation with the two films. The Nazis purpose was to condemn the Jewish people as a whole. Submission criticized treatment of Muslim women. Does that mean that every Muslim man treats his wife that way? Of course not. But there is a problem, and we don’t want it here. In 2012, I attended the MPAC conference in Pasadena. One of the speakers, a young Muslim woman social worker from NY, said that domestic abuse is the biggest problem in the Muslim community in America. She was a very brave lady to say that in that forum.

    BTW. Having spent over three years in Germany, and going back every couple of years, I have visited all of the camps you mentioned including Autschwitz -(Birkenau) in Poland.

    • Richard Silverstein April 15, 2014, 8:43 PM

      @ gary fouse: You are unbelievable. There are millions of women throughout the world in danger from family relationships, a small percentage of them Muslim. Yet YOU focus on the “poor” Muslim women, ignoring all the others. Which shows your ideological bias for the world to see.

      I haven’t seen Submission. But we all know Hirsi Ali’s views which don’t just condemn Islam for its treatment of women. She condemns Islam in its entirety. Not just radical Islam, but all Islam. So saying Submission has such a narrow scope is impossible to credit.

      there is a problem, and we don’t want it here.

      Speak for yourself you racist ass.

      I attended the MPAC conference in Pasadena. One of the speakers, a young Muslim woman social worker from NY, said that domestic abuse is the biggest problem in the Muslim community in America.

      So you, not just a non-Muslim, but someone who blames Islam for the world’s ills attended the MPAC conference. That makes you allied with, if not a paid asset for a wide network of Islamophobe groups. Who are you affiliated with? You’re affiliated with one of them. I dare you to be truthful and tell us. As for what you claim someone said at the conference I wouldn’t trust your account any farther than I could throw it.

      So you visited concentration camps. Big deal. You want a medal? Others of us have done the same. But we don’t pin medals on our chests like you do.

  • Gary Fouse April 15, 2014, 9:13 PM

    [comment deleted for being off-topic. You are moderated after several warnings, and any further comments will be approved only if they respect comment rules.]

  • Cabdicasiis August 4, 2014, 2:52 PM

    mmmm.. I am a somali man as she was. I have seen her in somali she were business i worked at factort of milk and now she is left religion god will give her deed and i do not say more about her

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