Sunday, July 28, 2013

Yasmine Hafiz on the Iftar Boycott

A Huffington Post Religion editorial fellow named Yasmine Hafiz has recently reported on a question circling around the American Muslim community. See, President Obama's administration is hosting dinners during the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. Although they aren't the first ones to do this, it's been going on for over a decade, apparently this year some Muslims are pressuring the others not to go because America's government does stuff that they don't like. Ms. Hafiz quotes Professor Omid Safi:
We should, all of us, collectively, politely, and firmly, decline the State Department Ramadan and White House Iftars until the following three measures are taken:1) The United States immediately abandons the policy of extra-judicial drone attacks in all countries.2) The United States immediately releases the political prisoners who have been cleared for release at Guantanamo Bay3) The United States immediately abandons the policy of profiling and surveillance based on race, ethnicity, and religion.
 Except for #1, these demands are not so unreasonable but as Ms. Hafiz correctly points out, making the demands in the first place is the problem. Eating dinner with President Obama doesn't mean that you agree with him, and more to the point...
"By calling for a boycott of the iftars, these Muslims simply polarize the country into two groups, Muslims vs. Americans, which erases much of the progress that other activists have made to show that Muslims are Americans."
She then goes on to complain about the "otherizing" of Muslims after 9/11, implying that it was done to Muslims by non-Muslims. This whole iftar issue on the other hand seems to indicate that some Muslims quite prefer being "others." Not how Professor Safi refers to "the United States" and not the "United States government." He is part of the United States if he lives here, you know, as would everyone else being called upon to boycott the dinners.

What annoys me about this, though, is the Huffington Post editorial policy. I know that they are not all on the same, but it speaks yet again to how Jews and Muslims are treated differently.

See, when a Jewish person like, say, Alan Dershowitz says that he is considering not voting for President Obama because of his policy toward Jews who live in another country, the Huffington Post calls him an "Israel firster." Ditto with Irving Moskowitz, who the readership accused of dual loyalty, John Bolton, Jeffrey Goldberg, and on and on and on. And all those Jews ever dared to do was be pro-Israel.

In contrast, when Muslims talk about figuratively spitting in the face of President Obama on behalf of different Muslims who live thousands of miles away, the Huffington Post manages to refrain from implying that they are anything less than disloyal Americans. If some people come to that conclusion, it's only because they are "othering," not because Muslims like Professor Safi have demonstrated it by their actions.

Here's one more thing that I noticed, from Ms. Hafiz's examples of people who stood against what they call "iftar shaming:"
Ainy Kazmi

Criticize the president, by all means. Criticize the policies, too. But? Let it go, brothers and sisters. 
lena badr

american  attending  are perhaps most brave by confronting leaders & trying to cause change

So even among those people who are against the boycotts, the expectation is that the Muslims who go should be confronting America's leaders and America's policies regarding their fellow Muslims. Again, that isn't a problem....unless you are a Jewish person confront America's leaders and trying to change America's policies regarding Israel. Then MJ Rosenberg and his Huffington Post editors will accuse you of disloyalty and imply that you should be thrown out of the country. I'm glad to see that the editorial stance is still just as strong as ever.

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