TOP TEN 2006 AND CAREER RECIPIENTS OF PRO-ISRAEL PAC FUNDS
In any given election year, the months between the end of July and election day represent a political action committee's (PAC) final opportunity to fill in the gaps, correct oversights, respond to late-breaking developments, and in general get one's ducks in a row. So year-end PAC reports to the Federal Election Commission can make for interesting reading.
The months leading up to Nov. 2, 2006 saw a dark horse emerge in Minnesota's 5th congressional district. Seemingly out of nowhere, one Ember Reichgott Junge suddenly was receiving contributions from a baker's dozen of pro-Israel PACs, to the tune of $29,500-not too shabby for a House race. Indeed, the former state senator and broadcast commentator was the only candidate for this open seat to be deemed worthy of these PACs' support. (Pro-Israel PACs often hedge their bets in races where there's no incumbent.)
It took only a quick visit to <www.opensecrets.org>, the excellent Web site of the Center for Responsive Politics, to determine the impetus behind this last-minute largesse. Reichgott Junge was running against-and lost to-one Keith Ellison, who became the first Muslim American elected to the House of Representatives. To add insult to injury, despite having raised a total of $676,477 (from all sources) to Ellison's $795,047-far outdistancing the other candidates-Reichgott Junge came in third in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary. Pro-Israel PACs took their money and went home, and Ellison went on to easily win the general election.>
DC: LEGITIMATE AND ILLEGITIMATE ACTS OF VIOLENCE
Why is Islam such a violent religion? Does the Qur'an condone acts of terrorism? Why haven't Muslims denounced the 9/11 attacks and suicide bombing?
Whether in the media or public discussions, these are common and persistent questions. But, in fact, major Muslim religious leaders and Muslim organizations have and do speak out. The media tends not to find these fatwas and statements newsworthy but they are available on the internet.
Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, for example, Muhammad Abdur-Rashid, the most senior Muslim chaplain in the American Armed forces, asked for a fatwa about whether American Muslim military could participate in the war in Afghanistan and in other Muslim countries. A group of prominent religious authorities concluded that "All Muslims ought to be united against all those who terrorize the innocents, and those who permit the killing of non-combatants without a justifiable reason" and that it was acceptable "to partake in the fighting in the upcoming battles, against whomever their country decides has perpetrated terrorism against them."
Islam, like other religions, distinguishes between legitimate and illegitimate acts of violence. The Qur'an does not advocate or condone illegitimate violence or terrorism. The Islamic tradition places extensive limits on the use of violence and rejects terrorism, hijackings, and hostage taking. However, Muslims are permitted, indeed at times required to defend their religion, their families, and the Islamic community from aggression.
What about suicide bombers? What about violence against non-combatants? Since the late twentieth century, these issues have resurfaced in Israel-Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Pakistan, Indonesia, America and Europe as suicide-bombing has come to be equated with martyrdom, relinquishing one's life for defense of Islam and the community.
Debates over legitimate vs. illegitimate violence have been highlighted by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Prophetic traditions (narrative stories about Muhammad's words and deeds) clearly and absolutely prohibit suicide because only God has the right to take the life he has granted. Historically both Sunni and Shii Muslims have generally forbidden religious suicide and acts of terrorism.
CAIR-CHICAGO DIRECTOR DISCUSSES MUSLIM LEADERSHIP
When destructive acts happen around the globe in the name of Islam, the reputation of the religion itself, particularly in the post 9/11 era, is also tarnished. Chicago writer and activist Ahmed Rehab feels that while those outside the faith need to think before they generalize those inside the faith need to reassert its peaceful roots.
Every time I receive news of a terror attack carried out by someone professing to be Muslim, I brace myself for what is to come.
Sure enough, a few moments after the Glasgow airport car-ramming incident took place, the phone calls started trickling in. Reporters wanted to know how Muslims felt about it. So I cut short a day at Brookfield Zoo with my nephews in order to appear on camera and, once again, state the obvious: mainstream Muslims everywhere are just as outraged by this shocking incident as anyone else, criminal acts are personal choices that reflect on the perpetrators and no one else.
But it’s post 9/11 America, and reason is not the token of our time.
In a way though, I empathize with the general public. They get to see or hear little else about Islam outside of the evening news when cars - or flags - are burning. As such, I am quick to entertain any opportunity I can get to reclaim my faith and set the record straight.
Terrorism is not only un-Islamic, it is anti-Islamic. The murder of, or intent to murder, innocent civilians is blatantly rejected in Islam regardless of the legitimacy of any personal or political grievances one may claim to have.
Extremism, even if non-violent, is starkly antithetical to the spirit of Islam which is rooted in the notion of “compassion for the world.”
As a Muslim activist and leader, I have a duty to lead the fight against terrorism in the most decisive battlefield of all: the young impressionable mind. No government, terrorism expert, or talking head can do as much there. I believe I can best challenge deviant minority ideologies by enkindling the beauty latent in our faith.
Islam shuns self-victimization and cultivates self-accountability, restrains rage and releases the intellect, rejects self-righteous isolation and embraces humanity; it is tolerant in recognizing the diverse expressions of truth, yet unflinching in its condemnation of injustices, including those at the hands of Muslims.
This is Islam as taught by Muhammad and all the prophets before him, it is the one embraced by enlightened Muslims around the world. It is the one I aspire to personify when at the pulpits of Chicago's largest mosques or in private conversation with disaffected youth. It is every terrorist recruiter’s nightmare.
For me, challenging extremism, both within the Muslim community and against the Muslim community, is a passion. I am in to win - even if it means never having to see the baby Gorillas.