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Anisa Abd el Fattah on the First Amendment:

Anisa Abd el Fattah (head of the National Association of Muslim-American Women, head of the International Association for Muslim Women and Children, and coauthor, as Caroline Keeble, of The Agent: The Truth Behind the Anti-Muslim Campaign in America) passes along this "National Association of Muslim American Women (NAMAW) Statement on Free Speech":

As US citizens and women of faith and conscience, the National Association of Muslim American Women (NAMAW) recognizes, and works to uphold and protect the Constitutional rights of every American.

We believe that the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights are the pillars of freedom, and true liberty in the US and that they are indispensable, and should be interpreted, used and protected as intended, and explained by our country's Founders.

We do not believe that slander, libel, defamation, perjury, seditious speech, or speech that is intended to undermine the equal rights, and equal protection under the law of any US citizen is protected by the First Amendment.

The NAMAW complaint to the Department of Justice calling for an investigation of the Jewish Lobby is not an attempt to chill, or to remove the right to free speech of Jewish Americans or anyone else.

It is an attempt to end a historic campaign by certain organizations and people, of misinformation and hate mongering against Muslims, Arabs and other Americans who are targeted by these groups, and slandered and defamed as "anti-Semites" or worse, "terrorists" or "potential terrorists" if they utilize their rights to free speech to criticize Israel, question aspects of the Holocaust, or to give an opinion about the US/Israel relationship that is not favorable to Israel, or that is in support of Palestinian rights, or that calls into question the behavior or speech of any Jewish personality or person.

The NAMAW complaint is an effort that is aimed at leveling the political playing field in the US, so that all Americans, rich, poor, Jewish and non Jewish, can participate freely, fairly and equally in the political process, including debates and discussions on any topic, including topics pertaining to the Jewish history, religion, and culture, and also Israel, and Palestine. It is intended to protect the rights of every American to formulate and express a political or religious opinion, make and express their religious and/or political choices, traditions, cultures etc., without fear of reprisal from these organizations and people, and their international network of facilitators.

We believe that the Jewish Lobby in the United States has used its resources and influence to chill, deprive and violate the first amendment rights of other Americans in an attempt to dominate the political discourse in the US on issues related to the Palestine/Israel conflict, and to prevent opposing views, and/or information about Palestinian suffering, and Israeli violations of international law, and human rights abuses from being exposed. We believe that to accomplish this repression, deprivation, and violation of rights of other citizens, the Jewish Lobby and its facilitators and supporters have used threats, harm, and acts of persecution that include defamation, slander, perjury, vandalism and other acts, such as carrying out organized campaigns to deny other citizens their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

We also believe that the Jewish Lobby has acted to create an environment in the US that is hostile to Muslims, Arabs, and others, including White nationalists, and Christians so that members of these groups can be discriminated against, and denied rights such as rights to the assumption of innocence unless proven guilty of a crime in a court of law, fair trials, due process, and justice, political association, organizing and petitioning our government on matters related to civil rights, liberties, and foreign policy.

We also believe that the Jewish Lobby in the US has worked to undermine the US Constitution, since the Constitution protects the inalienable rights of all citizens equally. Certain interpretations of the Jewish faith calls for limiting the Constitutional rights of non-Jews, and the establishment of special rights, laws and protections for Jews, and their special interests. We believe that this behavior is criminal, and unconstitutional and that it must be stopped.

"We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." US Declaration of Independence

NAMAW
Anisa Abd el Fattah
Chairwoman

I leave it to others to discuss what exactly would flow from recognizing a "seditious speech" exception to the First Amendment (see here for the Court's most recent extended discussion of that), or an exception for "speech that is intended to undermine the equal rights, and equal protection under the law of any US citizen is protected by the First Amendment."

But I do wonder just how much protection NAMAW's speech, with its repeated condemnation of "the Jewish Lobby," would likely get if such a standard were adopted. (Even if NAMAW's actual intentions were pure, it would be up to judges and juries to evaluate them.) I likewise wonder about the allegation that "Certain interpretations of the Jewish faith calls for limiting the Constitutional rights of non-Jews, and the establishment of special rights, laws and protections for Jews, and their special interests." Isn't it the case that certain interpretations of the Muslim faith (not all interpretations, but "certain" ones) call for limiting free speech and religious freedom rights of non-Muslims, and the establishment of special rights, laws and protections for Muslims, and their special interests?

In any case, I thought I'd pass this along, in case some of our readers would find this interesting. To get a sense of Anisa Abd el Fattah's public role -- which doesn't seem to be vast, but is apparently not nil -- google Anisa Abd el Fattah or Caroline Keeble (though the latter will get quite a few false positives).

homais:
White Nationalists? Wow, at least she carries her arguments to their conclusions....
1.23.2007 2:51pm
Hattio (mail):
So, I've never heard of "certain interpretations of the Jewish faith" to require its members to push for special rights/privileges for Jewish people. Is she completely off base with that? Anybody have a clue what she is referring to? I'm genuinely curious because I know there are certain faiths that do seem to believe they need to push for certain things in the political arena (first I've heard of special rights though). My guess, she's referring to Jewish employees and organizations representing them pushing employers to allow a person not to work on the Sabbath, and not be retaliated against. Obviously if the employer is private, that is not exactly in the political arena.
1.23.2007 2:57pm
Death & Taxes (mail):
I suppose I'd first need to ask... where do we find "the Jewish lobby", exactly? Is she pointing to any particular, legitimate organizations? If so, how do their official agendas conform with the racialist, self-promoting agenda she alleges?

I'm trying to take her position seriously... really, I am. But this speech offers no new evidence to rebut my initial presumption... that what we have here is just reactionary, extremist consipracy theory, of identical character and nearly-identical form to that espoused by so many other extremist factions... be they "white seperatist", religious fundamentalist (of ALL stripes), hyper-nationalists, political-economic idealogues, etc.

Just replace "the Jewish lobby" with your own particular villian: "secularists", "pacifist-aggressives", "space aliens", whatever.
1.23.2007 3:18pm
donaldk2 (mail):
If you care to consider a hardline take on such matters, I suggest you read Christopher Hitchens, City Journal, Winter 2007.
1.23.2007 3:25pm
jgshapiro (mail):

It is intended to protect the rights of every American to formulate and express a political or religious opinion, make and express their religious and/or political choices, traditions, cultures etc., without fear of reprisal from these organizations and people, and their international network of facilitators.

Even passing by the ironies of demanding for the Islamic community what she denies to the 'Jewish Lobby," she just doesn't get that private reprisal by anyone, including the 'Jewish Lobby,' is fundamentally protected by the First Amendment, and that governmental reprisal -- which would be prohibitd by the First Amendment -- is not happening.
1.23.2007 3:26pm
Brady (mail):
I think she brings up several interesting questions. In their study, Mearsheimer and Walt raise many of the issues that she is attempting to shed some light onto with her complaint. Here is the link to the study if anyone is interested.

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v28/n06/mear01_.html
1.23.2007 3:45pm
Cenrand:
And here is a link to a critique of that study:

Response to Mearsheimer and Walt
1.23.2007 3:54pm
P.K. (mail):
At least they've learned not to use the word "Zionist."
1.23.2007 4:12pm
Carl Carlson (mail):
Is it possible that the "certain interpretations" she is referring to relate to that whacked-out conspiracy theory of the far right about how the U.S. is bound by the Noahide Laws?
1.23.2007 4:19pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
I'm having trouble completing the thought. What are those special rights and privileges for Jews under a secular US implementation of the Noahide laws under that interpretation?
1.23.2007 4:36pm
Carl Carlson (mail):
well, the conspiracy theory would suggest that it is not a "secular" US anymore; that we are now under the religious authority of the Jewish high priests or some such nonsense.
1.23.2007 4:49pm
Hattio (mail):
So Rabbis are now giving Scalia and Brownback their marching orders. Oh, that's amusing.
1.23.2007 5:00pm
Brady (mail):
Cenrand,

The arguments that Dershowitz uses to rebut Mearshheimer and Walt's paper are eerily similar to the ones are used to rebut Jimmy Carter's book.

Arguments against Mearsheimer and Walt's paper:

"Professor Alan Dershowitz demonstrates that the paper contains three types of major errors: quotations are wrenched out of context, important facts are misstated or omitted; and embarrassingly weak logic is employed."

Criticisms leveled at Jimmy Carter's book:

"The real reason Carter won't debate me is that I would correct his factual errors."

"It is a tendentious, dishonest and stupid book."

"What a warped sense of history, past and present; what a blatant abuse of our sensibilities. ..."

Not surprisingly, Mearsheimer and Walt discuss, in great detail, how the Israeli lobby (of which Dershowitz is a major part of) attempts to silence anyone that criticizes Israel. Maybe Miss Abd el Fattah's complaint has some merit after all!
1.23.2007 5:28pm
The 12th Imam of Peoria (mail):
old school tribal and regressive thinking appealing to
new school tribal and regressive thinking
1.23.2007 5:39pm
Alan Gura:
Brady,

How are Mearsheimer, Walt, and Carter being "silenced?"

What else have these people done in their recent lives that have garnered them as much stardom and notoriety as their claims of victimhood at the hands of the Jewish/Israel conspiracy designed to silence them? In particular, Mearsheimer and Walt. Who ever heard of these two before they started to claim that they are being silenced?

Are people allowed to criticize crticism of Israel? Or is criticism of Israel above question, because then it is a "Jewish" attack on critics of Israel which, conveniently, proves the points of the original criticism? And must Jews be silent in the face of criticism of Israel, even if they believe the criticism is not warranted?

This recalls the old joke about the Jew in 1930s Germany who confronts his friend, horrified that the latter is reading Der Sturmer. "How can you read such a terrible rag?" "Well," responds the friend, "if I read our Jewish press, all I read about is pogroms, and oppression, and difficulty. If I read Der Sturmer, we Jews rule the world, control banking, the media, etc."
1.23.2007 5:51pm
Cornellian (mail):
I suppose I'd first need to ask... where do we find "the Jewish lobby", exactly?

It's at the front of the Jewish building. If it's raining out, please wipe your shoes on the mats in the lobby before entering the building.
1.23.2007 5:54pm
Cenrand:
Brady,

Perhaps the reason for the similarity is that both Mearsheimer and Walt's paper and Jimmy Carter's book might both be similarly erroneous?

Notwithstanding that, your characterization of Dershowitz's argument is not quite fair, as he then spends 44 pages detailing the factual innaccuracies in the Mearsheimer and Walt paper.

With regards to your equating Dershowitz's critique of M&W's paper with 'an attempt to silence criticism' - I remain unconvinced that correcting factual innacuracies amounts to 'silencing' or censorship as M&W and Ms. Abd el Fattah claim.
1.23.2007 6:04pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):

So, I've never heard of "certain interpretations of the Jewish faith" to require its members to push for special rights/privileges for Jewish people. Is she completely off base with that? Anybody have a clue what she is referring to?


Just a wild guess -- The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
1.23.2007 6:19pm
Brady (mail):
Alan,

Criticizing critics of Israel is not the issue. The issue is the manner in which the criticism is done. Questioning the researcher or writer's methodology, motives, and facts take the discussion off of the actual issue(s). One can question minor methodological and technical issues and interpret facts subjectively ad nausea. Take Jimmy Carter's book for example. While it does have a Palestinian bias, it explores many of the main issues that are obstacles to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. I think it is healthy to occasionally hear the other sides' (in this case the Palestinians) point of view. The opportunity to engage in balanced, thoughtful debate was thrown entirely off course by the loud and frequent attacks (that were largely personal in nature) on Jimmy Carter.
1.23.2007 6:25pm
The 12th Imam of Peoria (mail):
Brady -

what is it that you find to be "eerie" about Dershowitz's arguments?
1.23.2007 6:32pm
Yankev (mail):

The arguments that Dershowitz uses to rebut Mearshheimer and Walt's paper are eerily similar to the ones are used to rebut Jimmy Carter's book.



Yes, Brady; those argumentative techniques are known as "historic facts", "corrections" and "supplying missing context", and they are supported by things lled "citations". At one time they were considered persuasive and appropriate methods of dealing with protracted works of distortion such as those that you mentioned.

Apparently you are both unfamiliar with and suspicious of the techniques Prof. Dershowitz has used. So are Messrs. Walt, Mearsheimer and Carter. Like you, they seem to think that it is sufficient refutation to charge the user of such nefarious techniques with being part of the Zionist lobby.
1.23.2007 6:40pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Criticizing critics of Israel is not the issue. The issue is the manner in which the criticism is done. Questioning the researcher or writer's methodology, motives, and facts take the discussion off of the actual issue(s).
Some people are beyond parody.

We're not allowed to question methodology, motives, or facts? What's left that we're allowed to question, the fact that they used Times New Roman instead of Courier?
1.23.2007 6:44pm
Yankev (mail):
Brady, think about what you are saying.

Questioning the researcher or writer's methodology, motives, and facts take the discussion off of the actual issue(s).


In other words, you have just said that it does not matter if a position is built on lies, half truths and just plain mistakes.

If that's the case, I think you should stop slaughtering small children for their blood, and you should pay me $500 million as compensation for your crimes. Never mind that my "proof" that you have done so is based on equal parts of proven lies, innuendo, fantasy and sloppy research, and never mind that there's no reason the $500 million should go to me even if the allegations were true; after all, attacking my statements simply brings the discussion off of the main issue -- you aren't trying to JUSTIFY the slaughter of children, are you?

Good grief.
1.23.2007 6:46pm
Toby:

Yes, Brady; those argumentative techniques are known as "historic facts", "corrections" and "supplying missing context", and they are supported by things lled "citations". At one time they were considered persuasive and appropriate methods of dealing with protracted works of distortion such as those that you mentioned.

Clearly you need to go back to lit-crit and understand the importanc of the text standing alone. Sheesh, where do the pre-post-modernists get off...
1.23.2007 10:32pm
Elliot123 (mail):
So, what's wrong with silencing criticism by lawful, non-governmental means? That's a risk the critic takes.

I think folks confuse the silencing of criticism with the dismissal of criticism.
1.24.2007 12:51am
Yankev (mail):

Clearly you need to go back to lit-crit and understand the importanc of the text standing alone.

Brady, having overcome my Reconstructionist upbringing, I was never much able to function as a Deconstructionist.
1.24.2007 10:33am
ReVonna LaSchatze:
Is it in the American people's interest for Israel to build new settlements in the West Bank? Discuss.

Of course, I can see where you'd rather talk Borat and about the threats of imposing sharia law here in America. Silencing the critics means you think no Americans think critically of Israeli policies.

Instead we can concentrate on the injustices of not being able to date your hairdresser for three years. lol.

I predict irrelevance will be "in" as the realities of past policies begin to catch up with the politicians, and the academics and professional analysts back off from their previous support.
1.25.2007 6:53am
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Silencing the critics means you think no Americans think critically of Israeli policies.
You know, there were lots of Americans who were not thrilled with Israeli policies in the Middle East in the 1990s. I was one of them. I'm still not completely happy with Israeli policies. But you know what? The events of 9/11 and later, and the Palestinian Authority's preference for confrontation rather than cooperation, have persuaded me that Israeli policies may be the only way to deal with what is fundamentally a culture built on violence and brutality.
1.25.2007 11:51am