Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Christians United for Israel and Attacking Iran

Dedrick Muhammad and Farrah Hassen | Foreign Policy In Focus, August 18, 2008

Though the national sentiment favors wrapping up the Iraq War, there exists a small but powerful movement for starting a new military conflict with Iran. The bipartisan drumbeats for aggression reverberate throughout the corridors of Congress. House Resolution 362 and Senate Resolution 580, for example, call on the United States to prevent Iran from "acquiring a nuclear weapons capability through all appropriate economic, political, and diplomatic means."

Christians United
Photo by Dedrick Muhammad.

The House's Iran resolution, sponsored by Representative Gary Ackerman (D-NY), demands the president impose "stringent inspection requirements on all persons, vehicles, ships, planes, trains, and cargo entering or departing Iran." This legislation effectively requires a blockade on Iran which is considered by international law as an act of war. The Senate's Iran resolution, sponsored by Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN), would require a ban on "the importation of refined petroleum products to Iran." Neither resolution offers evidence on Iran's alleged pursuit of a nuclear weapon. Both neglect to mention any sanctions against the only country known to actually have developed nuclear weapons in the Middle East: Israel.

Evoking Orwellian 2+2=5 logic, both Congressmen have offered sanctions as the means to avoid war by applying economic pressure on Iran. Yet sanctions rarely achieve their intended objective. For instance, unilateral U.S. sanctions failed to topple the Cuban, Iraqi and Libyan governments. They punished (and in Cuba's case, continue to punish) civilians instead.

Washington-Israel Summit

The "squeeze Iran" and "confront Iran" positions are strongly encouraged by the increasingly powerful Zionist Christian Fundamentalist community. About 5,000 people from across the United States attended the third annual Washington-Israel Summit, organized by Christians United for Israel (CUFI). There, the "Iranian threat" loomed as a pervasive theme.

"What do you do with a maniac like Ahmadinejad? I'm not sure diplomacy works," Gary Bauer, President of American Values and a CUFI executive board member, told the crowd during the July 22 "Middle East Intelligence Briefing." Another panelist, Representative Mike Pence (R-IN), urged the attendees to make their support for HR 362 known to their members of Congress.

We attended this "the Rapture" meets "Clash of Civilizations" session – on the only day open to the press. We listened to the never-ending chorus from Bauer, Pence, Representative Elliot Engel (D-NY), and The Weekly Standard editor William Kristol who kept telling the assembled crowd why Americans must fear "Islamo-fascists"/"Islamo-radicals"/"death worshippers," and their other scary names for Muslims. Panels curiously closed to the press at the three-day conference included "Iran: Eye of the Storm," "Radical Islam: In Their Own Words" and "How to Stop Funding the Enemy: Divestment, Sanctions and Boycotts."

As Muslims, we attended the summit to learn more about CUFI. What we found was disturbing. Being well-received and courteously treated by the pleasant staff of a conference that talks of Muslims as "death worshippers" was a truly paradoxical experience. We also found it ironic that the organization's acronym, CUFI, is pronounced like kufi, an Arabic word for the short, rounded prayer cap worn by devout Muslim men.

Continued . . .

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