The Darker Side of America
-by Mark Silverberg
"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."
The poem's author, Emma Lazarus, was Jewish and her poem epitomizes the yearning of Jews everywhere to live free and unafraid in the warmth provided by the “Lady of the Light.” Yet, today, even as members of the Jewish faith are enjoying a freedom, influence and affluence only dreamed of by their ancestors, there remain shadows, uncomfortable shadows that surface from time to time in this great land.
A rather disturbing article appeared in the September 12th issue of the Jerusalem Post. Written by Caroline Glick, a Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Washington-based Center for Security Policy, Glick discussed her concerns arising from mixed U.S. government messages that flowed from Israel’s offer to provide humanitarian aid for the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
That aid consisted of "80 tons of food, disposable diapers, beds, blankets, generators and additional equipment which were donated from different governmental institutions, civilian institutions and the IDF." But the Foreign Ministry’s notice on its web site suggested that the head of the Israeli delegation had been downgraded from the IDF’s chief medical officer to a less prominent person - at America’s request.
Glick raised a series of questions concerning the incident and, after due diligence, concluded that there are disturbing undercurrents in the U.S. State Department - undercurrents that affect Israel’s relationship with the U.S. administration.
Why, she asks, would the U.S. ask for Israel to lower the level of a humanitarian aid delegation sent to assist U.S. citizens in need? Why, she asks, would the Bush administration hold up the arrival of assistance from a close ally whose government's offer of assistance had been announced a week before? And why (given the IDF Medical Corps' enormous experience in dealing with major disasters) would the Bush administration nix the participation of IDF doctors in the humanitarian assistance effort?
According to a documented report in the online newspaper worldtribune.com the reason for the delay (and presumably for the lowering of the level of the delegation) was the State Department's unwillingness to accept Israel's assistance. Glick’s research revealed that the State Department delayed accepting (in fact, it would have preferred to have ignored) Israel's repeated offers of assistance because it feared that accepting Israel's offer would make the Arabs less likely to make offers of their own.
After a week of deliberation, the administration finally acquiesced to accept Israeli aid. According to a reliable source, “There appeared to be a problem with having the Israeli flag in a foreign rescue mission in the United States" and it was hinted that it would be preferred for Israel to “integrate its assistance” with that of the American Jewish community try. One is left to wonder if the same demand was made of the relief efforts of Ireland and India and their indigenous communities in this country. Somehow, I think not.
Had this been the only time such an issue arose, it might not have raised eyebrows, but it wasn’t. The U.S. administration had also refused Israeli offers of assistance in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. “At that time,” Glick notes, “a delegation from Zaka (the non-governmental organization of volunteers that collects body parts for identification and burial after terror attacks in Israel) was grounded at Ben-Gurion Airport when it received word that the Bush administration had adamantly rejected its offer to come to New York to help identify victims at the World Trade Center.” At the same time, the U.S. administration commented on the extraordinary “outpouring” of generosity by the Saudis. It took former New York mayor Rudolph Guiliani to set the record straight when, on October 10, 2001, he rejected a $10M donation from Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal after discovering that the prince had claimed that "Israeli attacks on Palestinians" were the cause of the al Qaeda bombings in the U.S. In rejecting the donation Giuliani said, "Not only are those statements wrong, they're part of the problem."
“Unfortunately”, says Glick, “the problem continues.” Karen Hughes, President George W. Bush's Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy, recently addressed the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) an organization that has been described by several Washington think-tanks as “a front for the promotion of Saudi Arabia's Wahhabi political, doctrinal and theological infrastructure in the U.S. and Canada." The ISNA is a branch of the Saudi religious militia and is responsible for imposing Saudi/Wahhabi religious conformity on American Islam. To do so, it funds the religious training of Wahhabi chaplains at Wahhabi-supported Islamic academies in northern Virginia (for the estimated 1,200 mosques in America) and certifies Islamic imams for the Federal Bureau of Prisons and the U.S. military. It also has a special financial relationship with the Muslim World League (MWL) which has been linked to numerous Islamic terrorist organizations and which uses the ISNA to finance the mortgages of (and exercise control over) most of the mosques in America. Columnist Joel Mowbray notes that the ISNA’s president has praised suicide bombers and the organization's Web site includes articles lauding Osama bin Laden written by well known anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers.
But even this was insufficient to dissuade the U.S. administration from its support of radical Wahhabism in America. Jim Towey, the Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives even went so far as to invite the ISNA's Director of Communications and Outreach, Mohamed El Sanousi to the White House in February 2005 to partake of the $2B earmarked for faith based initiatives at a White House Leadership conference. In 2002, Towey had also spoken at an ISNA conference, and in 2003, he provided the group with $50,000 dollars in funding which was used to further the propagation of Wahhabist Islam in America and to teach Muslims how to write grants for further U.S. funding.
The U.S. State Department may have been reluctant to accept Israel's offers of assistance to victims of Hurricane Katrina and victims of Islamic terrorism on 9/11, but that has not reduced its enthusiastic endorsement of assistance from Arab states (specifically Saudi Arabia) nor its support for the spread of Wahhabism in America.
What this shows, unfortunately, is a darker side to the American dream. While America still stands as a beacon light to those whom Emma Lazarus described as “huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” and still sends forth its youth to free the oppressed and downtrodden in the name of freedom and democracy, it is also a country of special interests and serious, deeply-engrained prejudices.
As Glick points out: “This is the America that, at the behest of the Saudi government, announced its support for the establishment of a Palestinian State just weeks after thousands of Palestinians celebrated the destruction of the World Trade Center. This is the America that put forward a reform plan for the United Nations that makes no mention of reforming the organization's blatant, institutional discrimination of Israel.”
The Bush administration is attempting to transform the Arab Middle East through democracy. Yet, it constantly humiliates the only democracy in the Middle East while courting favor with anti-democratic, anti-Semitic, terror-supporting Arab regimes that seek nothing less than the destruction of Israel and the promotion of sedition in our own country.
I find such conduct more than reprehensible. It is a betrayal of the principles that made America great.