The Washington Post’s article “Va. Muslim Activist Denies Urging Violence; Remarks on YouTube Lead to Resignation” (September 29) was a textbook example of journalism undone by a) gullibility, b) partisanship, or c) some combination of the two.
The page one Metro section report dealt with the resignation of Esam S. Omeish from Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine’s commission on immigration. Omeish is a surgeon and president of the Muslim American Society.
Republican Delegate C. Todd Gilbert wrote to Kaine, a Democrat, suggesting the MSA was of “questionable origins.” A Kaine spokesman dismissed Gilbert’s letter as “xenophobic.” Then video tape emerged of Omeish praising “the jihad way” at a U.S. rally in December, 2000 and attacking Israel in 2006 for allegedly waging war against Palestinian Arab civilians.
The Post whitewashed the issues involved:
• It said Omeish exhorted “an Islamic political rally in 2000 to support ‘the jihad way’….” It adds that “some elected officials … interpreted the remark as a call to arms and a tacit endorsement of terrorism. But jihad is a broad term meaning ‘struggle,’ Omeish said.”
One of the more deadly Palestinian terrorist groups calls itself Islamic Jihad, Islamic Holy War. At the Dec. 22, 2000 rally – when the “al-Aqsa intifada” war against Israel raged — Omeish, speaking of Palestinian Arabs, declared that “you have learned the jihad way is the way to liberate your land.” That sounds similar to Abu Ahmad, an Islamic Jihad leader in the Gaza Strip, who told the Times of London in April, 2006 that “our whole strategy is jihad …. We are going to continue fighting whatever it takes until we liberate our land.” Fighting, not “struggling” for civil rights; “liberate our land,” including Israel.
The Post does not inform readers that the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928, was strongly influenced by the anti-Western, anti-Jewish, anti-modern, anti-secular writings of Sayyed Qutb. The paper does not say that the Brotherhood has been the mother ship of terrorist groups including al Qaeda and Hamas.
• The Post finds “a chorus of supporters” defending Omeish. These include “several Christian leaders from Washington and Northern Virginia” who are not named or quoted, and “Brian Becker, national coordinator of the antiwar ANSWER Coalition.” Becker was “shocked that a small group of right-wing, anti-Muslim bigots would launch a campaign” against Omeish. The article describes ANSWER only as “antiwar.”
ANSWER (International Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), a spin-off of the anti-Zionist World Workers Party, was formed three days after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. It opposes America’s fight against Islamic terrorism. ANSWER’s steering committee includes the Free Palestine Alliance and Muslim Student Association of the U.S. and Canada. It sent delegates to the first anti-Zionist International Cairo Conference in 2000, which issued a declaration “Against U.S. Hegemony and War and In Solidarity with Palestine.” ANSWER delegates attended the second International Cairo Conference in 2003, which supported “acts of resistance in Iraq and Palestine.” They met there with Osama Hamdan, a Hamas leader.
• The Post describes Omeish as “a fierce critic of Israeli military force against Palestinian civilians in Lebanon and the occupied territories.” It adds that “Omeish said he has consistently pushed for a peaceful solution to conflict in the Middle East.”
Omeish gets to portray himself as a good guy. Post wording implies that Israel does use military force against civilians so “fierce criticism” is legitimate. In fact, Israeli practice is to limit as much as possible civilian casualties in counter-terrorism operations. This contrasts with Hezbollah, which often embeds its personnel, weapons and command posts among Lebanese civilians, and Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah’s al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which do the same in the disputed territories, and which target Israeli civilians.
• The Post gives the conclusion to a “spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations.” The spokesman decries “hype and hysteria.” CAIR is not identified.
The Justice Department named CAIR an unindicted co-conspirator in a terrorism funding trial. CAIR co-founder and former board chairman, Omar Ahmad, once declared that the Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, “should be the highest authority in American, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth.” Five former CAIR officials, including a Hamas leader, have been arrested, convicted and/or deported on terrorism charges.
Post coverage of Omeish’s resignation was less news report than apologia.