Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Egypt: With Ludicrous Lies The Muslim Brotherhood Shows Its Contempt for West

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By Barry Rubin

I'm fascinated by the op-ed in the New York Times international edition by Tariq Ramadan. It is so amazingly false and puts forward such ludicrous claims that the whole thing seems to shout out:

You people in the West are so stupid and such huge suckers that you'll swallow anything!

I admire good craftsmanship. If Ramadan--who, let's remember, is no Muslim Brotherhood street tough but supposedly the most sophisticated Islamic intellectual in the world as well as being a professor at major universities--had produced a very clever item of disinformation, I would have been impressed. Yet the absurdity he wrote shows his contempt for the audience. I've never seen anything more thoroughly reveal his phoniness.

While I don't want to do a word-for-word analysis I can start by pointing out that he does not properly state the date of the Muslim Brotherhood's founding by his grandfather, 1928, but puts it vaguely in the 1930s.

Of course he skips over his grandfather's collaboration with the Nazis, but also--as our forthcoming book Germany, The Nazis, and The Making of the Modern Middle East, his father's close work with the recently escaped war criminal Amin al-Husaini, help in fomenting terrorist violence, and building of a revolutionary Islamist movement in Europe.

Ramadan cannot even admit that the Brotherhead hated Zionism but pretends that it was only objecting to the actions of the two  radical Zionist militias, the Irgun and the Fighters for the Freedom of Israel, in the late 1940s. Of course he won't admit that it is a virulently antisemitic group, but what Arab of the last sixty years tried to pretend they weren't anti-Zionists from the start?

It isn't enough for Ramadan to say that the Brotherhood hasn't used violence for 60 years but he insists it never used violence ever, even though its terrorist unit's activities are well known and it assassinated an Egyptian prime minister. Of course, the Brotherhood has never been pacifist (it supports terrorism abroad; incites violence at times and has helped some assassinations at home; and has been so quiet within Egypt because otherwise it knew the regime would hit it upside the head).  But as I noted in each case Ramadan goes beyond the clever, moderate lie to the all-out incredibly extreme falsehood.

And so on through the article. Let me be clear here: Anyone who has studied modern Middle East history, certainly every professor of Middle East studies in North America, knows that Ramadan has told a series of whoppers. Will a single one say so?

Consequently, by the time he gets to his apologia about how moderate the Brotherhood is today, his credibility should be totally destroyed. When I finished this article I was even more skeptical about the Brotherhood's claims than I was before. And if you read this blog you'll agree I'm about the most skeptical person in the world on this subject.

I'm waiting to see if others do detailed critiques of this article. How could the New York Times publish such nonsense? Couldn't the editors have told him privately: We don't mind if you prevaricate, but couldn't it be more credible so our readers won't laugh at us. This is on the level of how an 18-year-old Muslim Brotherhood street tough might explain these issues.

And then I realized what was happening. I call it "the test," a frequent experience in the Middle East. When you meet someone they try a silly lie on you. If you catch it, they are more frank and respect you more. If you don't, they treat you like an idiot and tell you the utmost garbage.

An example. When I was meeting a PLO leader in Tunis in 1990, the first thing he said to me when I came into the room was, "Do you know that on the wall of Israel's parliament there is a map showing Israel claims most of the Middle East."

If I said, "Oh, really?" or agreed with him, he knew that I was a useful idiot. Instead, I said: "Look, it's 1990, the modern world [how little did I know then what things would be like two decades later!] You know it's not true; I know it's not true. So let's talk seriously or I might as well leave now." (Yes, that's really what I said.)

After that, he treated me respectfully and we had an interesting discussion. For years afterward he sent me greeting cards on major Jewish holidays. (No kidding.)

So Ramadan and the Brotherhood put the New York Times and the American elite to the test. And they failed miserably.  Lenin once said that the bourgeoisie was so dumb or venal that it would sell the revolutionaries the rope to hang them.

The Islamists are learning that Western intellectuals and policymakers will do far more: become the press agents of those who want to hang them.

A reader wrote me: "The Tariq Ramadan's aren't interested in facts. What they're interested in is in "getting out" their propaganda message."

My response? "That the Tariq Ramadan's aren't interested in facts doesn't surprise me. That the New York Times isn't interested in facts does.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The GLORIA Center's site is and of his blog, Rubin Reports,

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