America's Slickest Hatemonger
by Stephen Schwartz
Notice: This is an opinion column, not a news story. I include this statement because its main topic, the despicable James Zogby, apparently does not know the difference, and has a history of trying to "correct" the opinions of others as if, when they disagreed with him, it could only be a matter of others' "inaccuracies" versus his "facts."
I have written extensively on two of the worst aspects of life in the American Muslim community: the incapacity to create a new, sophisticated and truly American leadership and the absence of credible intellectuals.
Another curse that has befallen the American Muslims is the inability to produce trustworthy advocates for peace. Moderate Muslims working sincerely in cooperation with Jews to gain a Middle East solution are few in number; some are no more than ambitious individuals seeking publicity and status as community leaders. Much of my work has, unfortunately, had to deal with the mendacious claims of fake peace emissaries.
It is notable that only the Muslims, among all the American religious communities, lack a substantial number of prominent apostles for peace. The Christian churches are dedicated to peace first and foremost; the Jewish community includes a large peace camp, with some confused members willing to march alongside Arab extremists and neo-Nazis in anti-Israel demonstrations.
Instead, the American Muslim leadership is filled with hatemongers. And, since Arab oil money and American obliviousness have allowed Islam to be considered an Arab religion only, unethical and ill-intentioned Arab American Christians with no standing as Muslims or even a basic knowledge of Islam regularly appear in media as representatives of the Muslim community. The roster of such bogus gatekeepers for Islam in America is long and includes such obnoxious characters as the academics Fawaz Gerges and Shibley Telhami, both Arab Christians and both adept at giving American non-Muslims the false impression they speak for Islam, just because they are Arabs.
By far the slickest hatemonger in America is an Arab American Christian named James Zogby, who directs something called the Arab American Institute. His brother John Zogby runs a polling organization that, in a curious pattern, repeatedly generates poll data discrediting the Bush administration, the war in Iraq, Israel, and other favorite targets of the Arab hate lobby.
Of course, I would never suggest that the Zogby polls are skewed, or represent mere propaganda. Coincidences do exist. It might very well be that polling samples confirm the prejudices for which James Zogby is such a loud and crass apologist.
James Zogby has, admittedly, a way with words. He went on television to demand that Americans – citizens of a country proud to have freed our nation from the British monarchs – show respect for a princess married to the reptilian former Saudi ambassador to the U.S., Prince Bandar bin Sultan. Zogby has denounced democracy, the foundation of America, as a juvenile fantasy in the Middle East. He apparently considers his own Lebanese forebears and relatives too stupid or backward for democratic governance, although they are now fighting hard for it.
In 2003, Zogby went to Saudi Arabia and, although a Christian, stood up at a press conference held by the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), an official Saudi agency group identified with global terror financing. WAMY's U.S. representative, located uncomfortably close to the national capital in Annandale, Va., was none other than Abdulah bin Laden, brother of Osama. Zogby had been provided with generous funds by WAMY to try to clean up the Saudi image in the U.S. after the horror of September 11, 2001, in which 15 out of 19 suicide pilots were Saudi subjects.
The bag of swag for Zogby provoked irritation among the American Muslims in the Wahhabi lobby, long faithful to the fundamentalist cult that remains the state sect in the Saudi kingdom. But the Saudis Wahhabis are evil, not stupid, and realized they had more to gain by working with a Christian than a Muslim front-man in America.
Zogby squealed that his WAMY adventure in Saudi Arabia had been arranged by the U.S. State Department, but the time is long past when a State Department seal of approval inspired confidence.
Zogby and his AAI have now come out with a new blast of hate. In a statement dated February 14, 2007, titled "Orientalism 101," Zogby's band of haters protests indignantly because the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee took testimony from David Makovsky of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Martin Indyk of the Brookings Institution, and Daniel Pipes of the Middle East Forum.
Zogby's smear machine ignores the standing of Ambassador Indyk as a notable moderate, and even a defender of Arab grievances, in Israel, and refers to Pipes as a "demagogue." According to the minions of James Zogby, "nobody who is serious about peace would entertain the likes of Pipes." But Zogby calling the sophisticated Pipes a demagogue is simply another among many examples of psychological projection by anti-Israel fanatics.
Thus, according to Zogby Pasha, commander of the Christian legion of Saudi servants, he and his group have right of censorship over the actions of the U.S. Congress, at the same time as they demand obeisance to Saudi aristocrats and jeer at democracy.
The AAI statement went on to condemn a Washington think-tank for hosting talks by The New York Times writer Thomas Friedman and Brandeis University professor Yitzhak Nakash. I am no fan of the glib Friedman, but as usual with AAI and Zogby, they show no awareness that Professor Nakash is an outstanding expert on Shia Islam and a respected, even beloved figure among Iraqi and other Shias. Zogby should be careful when he treads in this territory – I have already demonstrated to him the extent and significance of my own support by American Iraqi Shia Muslim leaders, after Zogby attacked me. He is better off leaving Professor Nakash alone. Nothing burns worse than playing with Shia fire.
But coincidences haunt Zogby. Professor Nakash is Jewish, along with others on his roster. How convenient that AAI's complaint should be hurled at the same ethnic group their Saudi-Wahhabi and other foreign patrons so detest.
Zogby's team finally demands that the Congress and other institutions hear more Arab and Muslim representatives – as if media and academia were not replete with such the distorting claims of such figures. Once again, Zogby Pasha cannot impose his twisted form of Islamist domination on U.S. opinion. Zogby may be adept at hate, but he is a disgrace to America and especially to the Democrat party in which he holds a high post. Zogby's role as a token Arab American for the Democrats may be nothing more than another coincidence, considering how many Democrats seem to agree with him about Iraq. Still, as some Democrats try to shift gears to adapt to mainstream America's commitment to the war on terror, I predict that a crude demagogue like Zogby will prove a liability, not an asset.
Maybe the column on his website was not written by him and does not represent his views. Maybe its appearance there is yet another coincidence. God knows best, as pious Muslims say.