The other speakers spent so much time speaking in general banalities and quoting from the Bible and the Quran on brotherhood, justice, peace, and love that they sounded more like imams or priests giving sermons than academics. The talk became annoying when moral equivalence was drawn between Muslim and evangelical fundamentalists. For example, according to Seiple, Muslims today are the “Samaritans of the Bible to the majority of evangelicals – we have not treated them with love and respect.” This trope has long since grown tired.
Khan dropped his mask of moderation even more explicitly during the question and answer period. He initially claimed that one must “submit” and be humble in order for justice to prevail. Furthermore, justice is only something that God can provide; we humans are impotent. It wasn’t long, however, before he blatantly contradicted himself: “How can we ask [the Palestinians] to forgive the Jews for what they have done? You cannot. There must be justice first.” He argued strenuously that Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians has had a “profound impact on Muslim psychology” and that all Muslims, particularly in Palestine, are powerless. That claim set up this apologia for violence: “The capacity for compassion comes with power” – in other words (of course he would not say this outright), because Islam is allegedly powerless, violence in its name is at least somewhat understandable.
Khan ended on a melodramatic note by promising “never [to] write about Israel again,” after what happened to journalist Helen Thomas, for fear of losing his job. Again, there were murmurs of approval from the audience. Of course, Helen Thomas did not criticize the Israeli government or its policies. She said, quite bluntly, that Jews should go “get the hell out of Palestine” and go “home” to Poland and Germany. Anti-Semites in those countries in the first half of the last century essentially told Jews to “get the hell out” of Europe and go to Palestine. Is this the kind of person Khan sees as a comrade in arms? If so, let’s hope he keeps his promise.
Jared Sorhaindo is an MA candidate at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University concentrating in Middle East Studies and international economics, and an intern for the Middle East Forum. He wrote this article for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.
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