After inviting me as a guest for Megyn Kelly’s Fox News show tonight, and my agreement on Monday morning to appear, Megyn Kelly lied on air on Monday night saying I’d refused to appear (transcript of her comments here). She lied again in claiming I tried to intimidate Fox into silence over the Honor Diaries film.
When I first learned of Kelly’s verbal assault on me last night, I wrote to the producer who’d invited me, Karrah Kaplan. The reply came today not from her, but from her boss, the executive producer of the show, Tom Lowell:
Dear Mr. Silverstein:
We are always interested in discussing the day’s top issues with intelligent, reasonable, and thoughtful guests. Sadly, your ad hominem attacks on Ms. Kelly and the puerile postings on your website make it clear you are not a member of that group. The a priori attempts to quash the debate by impugning our motives and questioning our integrity didn’t help either.
The Kelly File
In fact, his staff knew what I’d written about the show the whole time they were cajoling me to appear, because I sent them the link to my post just after publishing it. In fact, that’s how Lowell knew what I’d written. If he allowed his staff to invite me without reading the post, he’s incompetent. If he allowed his staff to invite me after reading the post, then he’s also incompetent and a jerk. Which one is it?
What it really comes down to is that FoxNews wants to control which critics it brings on air. When it finds that critics are too unmanageable, it drops them, after inviting them. That’s pre-emptive censorship. And the mark of a cowering, demagogic journalism.
Kaplan, while wooing me to appear, had assured me my concerns that the show would be a smear were unfounded because of her own independent journalistic credentials as a producer for Soledad O’Brien on CNN. All I can say is that if this isn’t an act and she does believe in her journalistic integrity, she’s working for the wrong show.
Earlier today, Kaplan assured me the show was still trying to get CAIR to participate for tonight’s segment:
My colleague has been working to get somebody from CAIR all day and has tried alternate groups. We do want the other side represented and have been pursuing somebody all day.
Which dumbfounded me considering the character assassination to which Kelly subjected the group last night.
I sometimes wonder whether anyone on that show knows what the other producers are doing. It seems a model of journalistic dysfunction. For all I know, Megyn Kelly may not even realize she was lying when she claimed I’d refused to go on air. If that’s the case, then Lowell ill-serves her.
At any rate, Fox News is a cesspool fully deserving of garbage like Honor Diaries and the Clarion Project.
Over the past 24 hours, I was invited by the senior producer for FoxNews’ Megyn Kelly, Karrah Kaplan, to appear on a segment exploring the film. For all I know, the producer may’ve been genuine in proclaiming her wanting to hear both sides addressed concerning this issue. After exploring the question of appearing with American-Muslim friends who encouraged me, I spoke to the producer and agreed in principle to appear if she could get me a copy of the film and tell me who would appear with me.
But in the past thirty minutes I’ve had a chance to read a FoxNews hit piece on the film which is replete with lies and inaccuracies. That story links to the segment Kelly did tonight on Honor Diaries. Her guests were Israel Lobby ideologue, Brooke Goldstein of the Lawfare Project and Qanta Ahmed, one of the subjects of the film. But what truly shocked me and made me change my mind about appearing on her show was this intro in which Kelly attacked me viciously and lied about pretty much everything:
We reached out to CAIR to get its perspective…CAIR pointed us to a blogger who, instead of coming on to defend his criticism of the film decided to write a hit piece lamenting that “Jews” produced this film and that FoxNews was intent on ginning up controversy over the movie. Clearly CAIR’s chosen spokesperson wanted FoxNews to back off of its coverage.
So many lies and so little time to rebut them. As I wrote above, twelve hours before Kelly aired this saying I refused to come on the show, I had agreed with her senior producer to go on the show on Tuesday. Second, I am not a chosen spokesperson for anyone but myself. I don’t represent CAIR or speak for CAIR. I certainly never believed FoxNews would back off its coverage because of anything I said or wrote. I merely wanted to pre-empt the slanted, bogus coverage it would put on air with something much closer to the truth.
There is simply no way to have an honest conversation with anyone like Megyn Kelly on this film or anything else. Feh-fooya.
Every so often I hear something so harebrained regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that it makes me scratch my head and say: “What were they thinking?” Today is one such example. The Obama administration, desperate to save the sputtering Israel-Palestine peace talks, has held out the freeing of Jonathan Pollard as a carrot to induce Israeli “concessions.” I’m not sure what concessions Netanyahu is offering in return for this cockamamie transaction, but whatever it may be, it isn’t worth it.
Netanyahu is a master of intrigue and manipulation. He doesn’t want the talks to succeed. But if he can free Israel’s most valuable American Jewish spy while still ending up with a failed peace process: why not? So if Obama and Kerry want to walk into this with their eyes open and give away half the store–Bibi’s ready to do some business.
If the U.S. was negotiating a final status deal which would bring the entire process to a close, then I’d say give ‘em Pollard, who cares? But in the middle of the process to deal one of your biggest cards? As Aaron David Miller, someone I almost never agree with, said:
“I think it shows real desperation,” said Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East negotiator and now vice president at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. “In an era of leaks and surveillance and Snowden, the idea that the administration is going to trade Jonathan Pollard makes absolutely no sense.”
The release would be seen in Israeli nationalist circles as a sign of weakness as well. Pollard would be paraded around Israel’s major cities and wined and dined as an Israeli hero. He would begin making statements attacking Obama and peace negotiations. He would essentially do the bidding of those who’ve held his cause high all these years: the settlers and intelligence apparatus which recruited him.
Finally, this is a huge mistake. If Obama does it, he and the peace process are toast.
Dubai police chief, Dahi Khalfan, duped by CIA into betraying Mahmoud al-Mabouh
An independent blogger in the United Arab Emirates writes (Hebrew and English) that the CIA provided critical intelligence about Mahmoud al-Mabouh enabling the Mossad to assassinate him in Dubai in 2010. It did so since the victim was Hamas’ chief arms intermediary with Iran. The inside information came from the territory’s police chief, Dhahi Khalfan, who passed it to the CIA without knowing it would be given to the Mossad. As Iran is an enemy of the Gulf States, including UAE, Khalfan thought he was doing a favor to the American ally, who shared his country’s disdain for Iran.
Khalfan had not intended for the information to pass outside the realm of the CIA, but the agency double-crossed him. Here is a translation from Arabic of the information concerning this incident:
“Dhahi became famous after the assassination of Hamas’ martyr, Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, by elements of the Zionist Mossad in 2010…[He] personally provided the cover for the assassination, as he was commissioned by the CIA, five weeks before to investigate…Mabhouh. Within three weeks he gave the CIA a complete file including account numbers used by Mabhouh, the details of his movements and activities in Dubai, and his places of residence. … Due to Dhahi’s extreme stupidity, he did not know he assisted in the assassination of Mabhouh, so he was surprised by [it].”
Without this critical CIA involvement, al-Mabouh could not have been murdered and the Mossad’s most embarrassing scandal in decades might’ve been averted. Unfortunately, until now the CIA has not had to pay the piper for facilitating murder. Nor has Barack Obama, president at the time of the murder.
Just after the assassination, there were media reports that two of the Mossad agents involved fled Dubai for America and that they’d used U.S. based Payoneer payment cards as part of the operation. The CEO of Payoneer is a former senior officer in IDF special forces and presumably associated with Israeli intelligence operations. At the time, I wonder why the Mossad would be so brazen as to implicate the U.S. in the killing in such a way. But given how the killing was organized, this now makes perfect sense. It appears it might’ve almost been a joint U.S.-Israeli operation.
It appears al-Mabouh became a victim of the covert war between Israel and the U.S. and Iran, which was raging at the time. This was also the period in which the NSA was developing Stuxnet and Flame viruses to disrupt the Iranian nuclear program. As a major Hamas arms merchant dealing with Iran, the CIA and Mossad wanted to do everything possible to tweak Iran (and Hamas). That made al-Mabouh an inviting target. But the Mossad’s hubris and Khalfan’s hurt pride at being duped by the CIA, turned the tables on the assassins and led to their exposure. Perhaps now the CIA has learned a lesson and will honor commitments it makes to Arab security officials like Khalfan.
We should not be surprised by the CIA’s actions. In the early 1960s, obsessed by the mania of ‘Communist subversion’ in the Third World, the CIA recruited a double agent within the ranks of the African National Congress. On the day he was arrested by the South African police, they knew where Nelson Mandela was, when he would arrive there, what he was wearing, practically what he ate for breakfast. The South Africans could not have done it without the help of our trusty CIA, ever on the watch for Communist subversion. The U.S., though it allowed Mandela to enter the U.S. in the 1990s, did not finally remove him from the terror watch list until 2008.
The problem with intelligence agencies is that they’re responding to the crisis of yesterday without realizing the crisis of tomorrow is staring them in the face. Instead of Communist subversion, the U.S. should’ve been trying to come to terms with liberation movements like the ANC sweeping the Third World. Instead of murdering Hamas agents, the U.S. should be coming to terms with Palestinian nationalism (including Hamas) and its legitimate claims.
Though the Mossad does a fine job of creating mayhem wherever it operates, the CIA deserves credit where it’s due for facilitating it, as in this wretched case.
For months, the State Department has stalled on approving the visa for the incoming Iranian ambassador to the UN, Hamid Aboutalebi. In the meantime, the departing ambassador has long left New York and there is no chief delegate representing Iran (that nation announced Aboutalebi’s appointment last January). Since State will make no substantive statement other than to say it uses due diligence before approving such visas, others are left to speculate. Here is what the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran wrote:
The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has learned that the reason for the months–long delay may be the diplomat’s possible role in the 1979 seizure of the US Embassy in Tehran…
…In 1980 Aboutalebi, along with Abbas Abdi, a student instrumental in the US Embassy takeover, traveled to Algeria to invite representatives from several “liberation movements” to attend a meeting in Tehran. The invited groups included the Palestine National Liberation Movement (Fatah), Polisario, The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, The Front for the Liberation of Zimbabwe, Shias from Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Lebanon’s Amal Movement.
…Aboutalelbi denied involvement in the U.S. embassy takeover. He was not in Tehran at the time, he was quoted as saying. He said his only reason for being at the occupied embassy later on was to serve as a translator.
“For the past 15 years, I have been an ambassador to many Western countries that are very close to the US, from Europe to Australia, and have always been dealing with the West,” Aboutalelbi said. “Even in 1994 when I traveled to the US as a member of our country’s delegation at the UN General Assembly…no questions ever come up.”
Aboutalebi added: “The fact is that at the time of the embassy takeover on November 4  I wasn’t even in Tehran to know about this or to participate in it or to be present, or for my name to be involved in this; I was in Ahvaz when I learned about what had happened.
“A while later, when I came to Tehran, one day Martyr [Rahman] Dademan sent me a message through another war commander by the name of Shahid Zaker, saying that they needed someone for French translation. I accepted…
“For example, I was the translator at the press conference when they released female employees and African Americans on humanitarian basis.”
My guess is that the Obama administration, which is exquisitely sensitive to allowing the Israel Lobby any opening to attack its Iran policy, is scared stiff that Aipac will circulate photos of Aboutalebi in 1979 with his suspicious scruffy beard and link him to Iranian terrorism. It would rather delay approving the visa in hopes Iran will get the message and approve someone who never stepped foot in the U.S. embassy in 1979.
Of course this is chicken-shit way to pursue foreign policy. But it’s standard operating procedure for this administration, which never goes out of its way to stand for a principle when a lower common denominator is possible.
By the way, if we want to render treif foreign diplomats and leaders with unsavory pasts (not that Aboutalebi has one), perhaps Obama can explain all those visits from ex-terrorists Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir who actually had British and Arab blood on their hands (the King David Hotel bombing, Deir Yassin massacre, Count von Bernadotte assassination, etc). It seems to me that our moral vision is quite selective. When we need a former terrorist we’re more than happy to oblige a visit or a visa. When we don’t, we let them hang in the wind for months, violating diplomatic protocol. Shame.
The University of Michigan-Dearborn initially agreed to screen the Clarion Project‘s new faux-feminist film, Honor Diaries. Then faculty and staff began to weigh in on the biased, shallow orientation of the documentary, and the administrators who’d scheduled the screening had second thoughts. This is what one faculty member had to say about one of the interview subjects of the film who would appear on the campus panel:
Raquel Saraswati waves the blue and white!
Ms. [Raquel] Saraswati is a convert to Islam who has spent the past several years speaking in…venues – always as a “representative” of the Muslim community - against the equal treatment of Muslims in US law and in support of egregious violations of the rights of Muslims as in the NYPD’s spying on Muslim communities in New York.
Saraswati, in a Twitter conversation, denied that she supports NYPD spying on Muslims. But she also has not denied that she attended the press conference Zuhdi Jasser held in New York to support the NYPD surveillance program. When I asked her how she make a distinction between these two positions, she said she didn’t support spying on innocent people (“Spying with no lead at all would be wrong”). Presumably, she believes the NYPD only spies on guilty people. She also calls claims that saying she’s against equal treatment of Muslims in U.S. law is ‘defamatory.’ But if you approve of violating Muslims’ constitutional rights through spying then in effect you’re supporting the abridgment of civil liberties.
I discovered this website which posted an unauthorized biography of Saraswati in 2008. Let’s just say she’s had a rich and varied past!
Raquel Saraswait and Zuhdi Jasser
Further, Saraswati appears to be a protege of Zuhdi Jasser (multiple websites acknowledge their close working relationship), one of the strongest opponents of the Muslim-American national leadership of groups like CAIR and the ADC. She and Jasser signed this letter to Hillary Clinton asking her not to allow Pakistan opposition leader Imran Khan to enter the U.S. because he allegedly supports the Taliban and sharia law (none of which is true).
Jasser has appeared in at least two previous Clarion films and he clearly played a formative role behind the scenes in shaping Honor Diaries. His protege has clearly allied herself with a partisan political movement, rather than the purely feminist values she claims to espouse in the film.
Saraswati was also profiled by Clarion Project’s terrorism analyst, Ryan Mauro, here and portrayed as a model Muslim (at least as far as Clarion is concerned).
Another interview subject, Manda Zand Ervin, is a board member of Jasser’s American Islamic Forum for Democracy. Ervin, who makes the most overtly Islamophobic statement in the entire film (“Muslim women are deprived of their humanity”), is also affiliated with the necon Hudson Institute and the National Review.
In my earlier post on the film, I highlighted Ayan Hirsi Ali’s prominent role as executive producer and “expert.” This blog post profiling the personnel behind the film, brought to my attention this interview with Ayan Hirsi Ali in the liberatarian Reason Magazine:
Reason: Should we acknowledge that organized religion has sometimes sparked precisely the kinds of emancipation movements that could lift Islam into modern times?…Do you think Islam could bring about similar social and political changes?
Hirsi Ali: Only if Islam is defeated. Because right now, the political side of Islam, the power-hungry expansionist side of Islam, has become superior to the Sufis and the Ismailis and the peace-seeking Muslims.
Reason: Don’t you mean defeating radical Islam?
Hirsi Ali:No. Islam, period…
Reason: We have to crush the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims under our boot? In concrete terms, what does that mean, “defeat Islam”?
Hirsi Ali: I think that we are at war with Islam. And there’s no middle ground in wars. Islam can be defeated in many ways. For starters, you stop the spread of the ideology itself; at present, there are native Westerners converting to Islam, and they’re the most fanatical sometimes. There is infiltration of Islam in the schools and universities of the West. You stop that…You look them in the eye and flex your muscles and you say, “This is a warning. We won’t accept this anymore.” There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.
Hirsi Ali:In all forms, and if you don’t do that, then you have to live with the consequence of being crushed.
I can’t think of anything more definitively Islamophobic than that. Here Hirsi Ali is calling for holy war against Islam. A literal war to the death. Those who support this film must address the rotten beliefs held by those who play key roles in it.
The film’s campus host invited representatives from CAIR and the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) to participate in a panel discussion. These groups refused, saying the film was so hopelessly anti-Muslim that they couldn’t dignify it with their presence. Then the University postponed the screening, finally understanding that they’d been fooled by the producers into buying a pig in a poke. The Women’s Resource Center at the University of Illinois also cancelled a screening of the film when students and faculty notified them of the misleading marketing of this project.
Megyn Kelley plans ambush interview on Clarion’s “Honor Diaries.”
Now, it appears that FoxNews is trying to gin up controversy by claiming that the cancellation was the result of censorship or political correctness in the Muslim-American community. Megyn Kelly, the FoxNews anchor who told America that “Santa Claus was white,” asked (through her producer, Robin Carson) CAIR if they’d participate in an interview segment this coming Tuesday about the film. The group politely declined for the same reasons they declined to participate in the Michigan panel. Fox also asked Arab-American leader Linda Sarsour to participate. She refused as well.
FoxNews often features interviews with Ayan Hirsi Ali, whom I mentioned above. This shows the network’s predisposition to shill on the film’s behalf.
This is a warning to the Muslim community that FoxNews and Clarion’s Islamophobic producers plan a piece of ambush journalism that will boost the visibility of this execrable film. Don’t play ball. Honor Diaries is a piece of propaganda masquerading as a feminist, humanist film. No one should be fooled.
There is a new Twitter hashtag about the film, #DisHonorDiaries, and a powerful theme being tweeted tonight (which I amplified slightly): misogyny has no religion or ethnicity.
One of Bibi Netanyahu’s closest Likud associates, MK and deputy minister Ofir Akunis, recently held a meeting in the prime minister’s office with members of the Belgian anti-Semitic party, Vlaams Belang (Flemish Interest). Akunis’ job is to be chief liaison between Netanyahu and the Knesset. In U.S. or UK terms, he’s the chief whip, a job that requires the highest level of trust between the two men. So we can assume when Akunis held this meeting, he did so with Bibi’s blessing.
Akunis triumphantly posted a picture on Facebook of the meeting (above), but conveniently neglected to name the particular party or individuals with whom he met. The Belgian party supports Flemish secession from Belgium. Its anti-immigrant, racist and anti-Semitic views are in accord with those of other far-right Euro parties like the EDL in Britain and Marie Le Pen’s National Front in France. Neither the Belgian Jewish community or the Israeli embassy will meet with VB inside Belgium. That seems to be of no concern to Akunis and his boss, PM Netanyahu. They seem to pursue a foreign policy of their own independent of the Diaspora or even their own foreign ministry.
This isn’t the first time either: in 2010 Austria’s successor to Jorg Haider, the leader of its far-right Freedom Party, visited Israel and held similar meetings with key government officials. Both of these trips were organized by two settler leaders who play key powerbroker roles in the national Likud party and primaries. They are Gershon Mesika and Yossi Dagan. Dagan in his youth was a disciple of former IDF chief of staff and minister, Rehavam Zeevi, an ultra-nationalist transferist, who was assassinated by Palestinians in East Jerusalem. Both are senior leaders of the Samaria Regional Council, which is a government body that represents the interests of Israeli settlements both inside Israel and abroad.
Mesika and Dagan are the Boss Tweeds of the Likud Party. If you’re an MK and don’t want to be consigned to electoral Siberia in the next party primary, you have to pay obeisance to Tweedledee and Tweedledum. As the Hasidic rebbes of Brooklyn do for the New York Democratic Party, they deliver thousands of votes cast by settlers registered in the Likud primaries:
Mesika, a Likud activist from the party’s “national camp,” has in the past few years signed up many settlers as Likud members, in a bid to move the party further to the right. Many Likud Knesset members say privately that if they don’t cooperate with Mesika they risk being left out of the party primaries.
So despite the fact that some MKs may understand how toxic these anti-Semites are, they do as they’re told. It’s not that different in the case of Aipac and its Congressional water-carriers. Chuck Schumer, Dianne Feinstein and other surely know that the pro-Israel pablum they’re offered by Aipac is largely a charade. But they dance to the music because if they did otherwise they’d face well-financed primary opponents and the wrath of the Israel Lobby’s well-connected donors. It only takes one Charles Percy or Cynthia McKinney being ridden out of Congress on a rail to teach this lesson to the 535 others who remain.
Mesika and Dagan aren’t content to confine their political muscle to domestic political affairs. Here, an Israeli settler publication notes that they met in Washington with 20 members of Congress to express their strong opposition to the Kerry peace talks. While Kerry comes to Israel to broker a peace deal, they go to DC to undermine one. They might as well have their own embassy as Peter Bergson (aka Hillel Kook) did during the Holocaust when he established Herut’s Hebrew Embassy in Washington. Other articles note the close political relationship Mesika and Dagan have developed with the Christian Zionist community which has brought bountiful coverage on CBN, the Christian Broadcasting Network.
Mesika is in high dudgeon about the Haaretz article linking him to anti-Semites. Here is how Barak Ravid described the brouhaha:
…The Samaria Regional Council said Flemish Interest is accused falsely of being anti-Semitic, adding that it is very friendly toward Israel and the Jewish community. The statement accused leftist elements in Israel of trying to denigrate the party, noted that Mesika’s family were Holocaust survivors and that two of his brothers were murdered in Nazi death camps, and expressed regret for the participation of Haaretz in the attempt to besmirch the reputation of its political rivals. The council said it would consider taking action against this newspaper for violating anti-libel laws.
Russian neo-Nazis who met with Likud MKs in Israel’s Knesset
Apparently, having relatives murdered by the Nazis 70 years ago means one wouldn’t possibly consort with European neo-Nazis today, even for the good of Greater Israel. Hopefully, the foolishness of this statement is self-evident. As for threatening a libel suit, that’s rich. What will the Council claim? That Vlaams Belang isn’t anti-Semitic? Even pro-Israel bloggers like Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs rail at the party’s patent anti-Semitism. That’s going to be a tough line of argument to support.
The two meetings I describe above aren’t the only ones between senior MKs and European anti-Semites. I posted about this meeting between two senior pro-settler MKs (one of whom is Druze!) and Russian neo-Nazis–in the the MKs’ Knesset offices! Despite the fact that the Russians were Holocaust deniers, they received the VIP treatment in a tour of Yad Vashem. Imagine the souls of the 6-million spinning in their graves as they were forced to watch that spectacle! This is how I described members of the delegation:
The two Russians have been photographed giving Nazi salutes, celebrating Der Fuhrer’s birthday, and they published songs of praise to Adoph Hitler on their website.
It’s important to note why Israel can now make common cause with European anti-Semites and neo-Nazis. Because they both have a common enemy that they view as more dangerous than each other: radical Islam. In using that term, it’s also critical to understand that for neither Israel nor for the anti-Semites is there much, if any difference between Islam and radical Islam. They rarely bother to make a distinction.
Even when they identify “good” or “moderate” or the latest term, “progressive” Muslims, they’re either secularists or so alienated from their Muslim community that to call them mainstream Muslims is laughable. We’re talking about individuals like Qanta Ahmed, Zuhdi Jasser, Tawfiq Hamid and the like.
There should be one lesson from Israel’s cozying up to such anti-Semitic rabble: that we can no longer allow Israel to claim to speak for Diaspora Jews on any matter. The interests of Israel and the Diaspora have diverged (if they were ever consonant). What is good for Israel, at least for this Israeli government, is not good for Jews. What is good for Jews is not good for Israel. This turns the classical Zionist narrative on its head. That posits that the Diaspora and Israel are, if not united, at least complementary. That the two parties cannot exist without each other (at least until Israel swallows up the Diaspora, which will wither away).
This Israeli government is driving a wedge between itself and Jews abroad. A wedge no classical Zionist, even Jabotinsky, could ever have imagined. This is quite an achievement: you have Israel’s ultra-nationalist government preferring to curry favor with Christian Zionists over the ‘secular left-wing’ American Jewish community. This turns Zionism, at least as it was taught to me, on its head. It leaves world Jewry divided. It leaves Israel with allies who hate Jews and are miscreant scumbags. This is not our fathers‘ Israel.