By Iqbal Jassat in South Africa
When does evidence mean general suppositions? Whenever so-called self-proclaimed “terror experts” seek to affirm an assumption that Islam can be characterized limitlessly by means of a handful of recklessly general and repeatedly deployed clichés, as is the case surrounding the controversy generated in South Africa by the darling of Zionists: Professor Hussein Solomon.
His latest “academic” missive, appropriately called the “ostrich document” is perhaps the best specimen of truth-abuse in pursuit of fear mongering which converges very neatly with the interests of Israel and their band of local lackeys within the SA Jewish Board of Deputies and the SA Zionist Federation.
Following his explosive power-point presentation at a right-wing counter terror conference held in Israel on the physical ruins of a Palestinian village, Solomon has unrepentantly repeated similar vague allegations against Muslims in South Africa. What is worse though, and explains why I would prefer to call his “ostrich document” a form of truth-abuse, is his carelessness in making gross misrepresentations!
Take the example of his reference to Barry Gilder, whom in utter desperation, Solomon cites as a source to lean on for his guffaws. What he omits to say is that Gilder after having been quoted in the media as having made certain allegations about “terror camps” and the like, disputed the veracity of these reports! At an urgent 3 way meeting between Gilder in his capacity as NICOC director, the Muslim Judicial Council and the Media Review Network, he not only explained the context of remarks attributed to him which he claimed was not accurately reflected in media reports – the same reports which Solomon is clutching onto as evidence – Gilder took the honorable route by offering an apology to SA Muslims. This apology is in the public domain as the joint press release was widely reported.
What it simply means is that Solomon has misrepresented the truth by omission. It also demonstrates the vicious cycle generated by untested and wild allegations if left unchallenged. This usually begins with whosoever may make false accusations. It gets reported in the media. It then is picked up by scholars and draped in “academic” colours. Before long an unfounded rumour ends up as a scholarly dissertation with devastating consequences for innocent victims!
Solomon’s presentation in Israel under the grand theme of “Global Jihad and Terrorism in Africa: Sub-Saharan Africa” in his capacity as an academic attached to the University of Pretoria is a classic example of how this vicious cycle, borne out of belligerent hostility, manifests as nothing less than exaggerated stereotyping!
In his own words Solomon is quoted as having said: “Er, so, I’m gonna be talking about radical Islam in South Africa, and when Reuven gave me the title, er for the talk, er, you know, I was kind of thinking: ‘Well, you know, I could have done the same presentation on something called mainstream Islam in South Africa,’ you know?”
In his Politics of Dispossession, the late Palestinian intellectual Edward Said attempted to show that many wild exaggerations of the “sensationalist and ignorant” American media were sourced from the ideas of those he described as “anti-Islamic careerist publicists” who had found a new field for their skills in “demonology”.
In fact had Solomon taken any lessons from Said’s brilliant expositions in innumerable essays which reveal the hidden assumptions and distortions of fact that underlie even the most “objective” coverage of Islam, he would have recognized that many SA Muslims share Said’s view that Israel has become a hot-bed where characterization of Islam with terrorism and violence is fuelled in the hope that “more Americans and Europeans will see Israel as a victim of Islamic violence”.
Alas, this is not the case. Instead, Solomon supports the complaint of the “victim” Israel. In yet another pathetic attempt to substantiate his vicious Islamophobia, he cites as “evidence” the following: “Indeed, as early as 1996 Israel lodged a formal complaint with the South African government regarding the existence of five Hezbollah training camps in the country”. This type of tragic truth-abuse in the guise of academia is no more than a weapon used to subordinate any Muslim resistance to Israeli dominance!
And its not surprising too given that Solomon was reveling in the company of discredited anti-Islam propagandists. Both Steven Emerson and Daniel Pipes are known to belong to a mushrooming industry of terror-fear mongering mercenaries, who have elevated themselves to security experts! They are a spent force with little intellectual integrity.
Said dismisses Pipes as “a perfervid anti-Muslim whose main characteristic is that as an Orientalist he ‘knows’ Islam for the appallingly dreadful thing that it is”.
And on Emerson of the documentary “Jihad in America” fame, Said’s incisive analysis makes this compelling observation: “….the purport of the film is to agitate against Islam as a sinister breeder of cruel, insensitive killers, plotters, and lustfully violent men. In scene after scene – all of them isolated from any real context – we are regaled with fulminating, bearded imams, raging against the West and Jews most especially, threatening genocide and unending warfare against the West”.
Like Emerson’s film, Solomon creates the impression that “jihadis are a problem”. If left unchallenged, Solomon’s academic profile will unfairly be abused to reinforce a feeling of cultural fear and hatred against Islam and Muslims – even if he seeks to frame them as “jihad networks” or “Islamo-fascists”.
– Iqbal Jassat is the chairman of Media Review Network in South Africa. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.