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South Florida Intifada By: Joe Kaufman
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, August 22, 2006

American universities rank among the best in the world, but they also boast another, more dubious distinction: They are home to some of the world’s most radical academics.

Last month, one of these select individuals, UC Berkeley professor Hatem Bazian, brought his hate-filled show to two extremist Islamic Centers in South Florida. Both of these institutions are in the process of building large-scale mosques in their respective cities. And, given that their guest had previously called for attacks on the United States, the question naturally arose: Were these institutions looking to make friends in the community or to start a holy war?

Past evidence suggests that the latter possibility is more likely. From October of 1999 through July of 2001, the Islamic Center of Boca Raton (ICBR) contained material on its website calling Jews “people of treachery and betrayal” and discussing the murder of Jews. A founding director of ICBR, Syed Khawer Ahmad, who stayed on in his position till the middle of 2002, doubled as a webmaster for the official website of Hamas’s Islamic Association located in Gaza. In October of 2000, the Imam of ICBR, Ibrahim Dremali, amidst burning Israeli flags and shouts that “Zionist blood will wet the sand,” told a crowd not to be sad for “those who were martyred” (i.e., suicide bombers). Despite this history, the ICBR had no trouble securing a zoning permit for a proposed 9,000 square-foot mosque. No one -- not the police department, not the mayor’s office, not the zoning board -- raised an objection.

What transpired after the permit was given is a matter of record. A Hamas-related charity connected to ICBR, the Health Resource Center for Palestine, was shut down; a founding director of ICBR and associate of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leader Sami Al-Arian, Bassem Alhalabi, was charged by the U.S. government with illegally shipping a $13,000 piece of sensitive military equipment to Syria; the Imam that took the place of Dremali, Munir Arafat, admitted under oath that he himself was a member of PIJ; and a member of the center, Rafiq Sabir, was arrested by the FBI for being an Al-Qaeda operative, to which he is currently awaiting trial.

The Islamic Center of South Florida (ICOSF), located in Pompano Beach, Florida, not unlike ICBR, has had its own extremist behavioral problem.  In the beginning of 2003, the Imam of ICOSF and past teacher at ICBR, Hassan Sabri, stated on a local radio program his wishes for Allah to rid Jerusalem of all its Jews.  He also stated his belief in an Islamic prophesy announcing an impending extermination of Jews. Yet, this center, too, was recently given the go-ahead to construct its own mosque: a 29,000 square-foot superstructure situated right in the middle of Broward County.

One would think that, in view of these centers’ pasts, they would shun the spotlight. But the opposite is the case. If anything, they have become more brazen. Hence, last month, both ICBR and ICOSF invited Hatem Bazian to deliver a speech. If they wanted to avoid feeding their reputation for radicalism, it was altogether the wrong decision. Bazian is a senior lecturer in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. But he is better known for his unreserved contempt for the United States and Israel.

Nowhere did this hatred manifest itself more than at a rally held in San Francisco, on April 10, 2004, where Bazian was caught on videotape calling for an intifada or armed uprising against America. To raucous agreement from the crowd, Bazian asked, "Are you angry? Are you angry? Are you angry?" Inspired, he proceeded to call for an armed uprising against American corporations. "Well, we've been watching intifada in Palestine, we've been watching an uprising in Iraq, and the question is that what are we doing?  How come we don't have an intifada in this country?... Chevron, Bechtel, Carlyle Group, Halliburton; every one of those lying, cheating, stealing, deceiving individuals are in our country and we're sitting here and watching the world pass by, people being bombed, and it's about time that we have an intifada in this country that change[s] fundamentally the political dynamics in here...They're gonna say some Palestinian being too radical--well, you haven't seen radicalism yet!”

Bazian’s outburst was entirely in keeping with his extremist history. In an article titled "The Price of the PLO Surrender: Almost a State!," which he wrote as a Ph.D. student at Berkeley in March of 1994, Bazian denied Israel’s existence and unapologetically described Palestinian terrorism against Israel as a “struggle.”  He wrote: “We, as Palestinians, have not reconciled our differences with Israel, and we do not offer any apologies to Israel for conducting our rightful struggle against a colonial Zionist occupation.  In addition, we do not concur with Yasir Arafat's recognition of Israel as a sovereign country in the region."

Bazian, a Palestinian himself, went on to describe the violent intifada against Israel, led by such terror groups as Hamas and PIJ, as “the most effective weapon in the hands of the Palestinians against an oppressive Israeli occupation.” Two years later, in March of 1996, he reportedly served as the spokesperson for an event where participants dressed up as suicide bombers. Also, in June of 2004, he represented KindHearts, a charity that was shut down by the U.S. government for raising millions of dollars for Hamas, in a fundraising dinner held in honor of "Palestinians in Agony."

Bazian has labeled the PLO police force “enemies,” while commending the “militant activities” of young Palestinians who “have presented a continuous challenge to the Israeli army.” After repeatedly calling Saudi Arabia and Egypt “surrogates” for the United States, he has lamented, “As Palestinians, we were told to put down our guns and depend on the Arab leaders who were organizing for our eventual liberation.  No one helps you liberate yourself by taking away your weapons.” Bazian further believes that the U.S. and Israel are conspiring against the Mid East. “We now are awakened to the reality that the leadership is asking us to recognize the right of the occupier to own our houses and land," he once said. "We are being asked to accept the Israeli and the American Middle East agenda.” 

On February 6, 2004, during a speech he gave at McGill University on the "New American Empire," Bazian was quoted as saying, “The empire has to be resisted both internally and externally. The Iraqis resisted, and we must also resist, as it subjugates people around the world.” The “empire” that Bazian was referring to was, of course, the United States. His call for resistance meanwhile can reasonably be interpreted as a declaration of war against the United States and a call for violence against Americans.

Lending credence to this interpretation is Bazian’s labeling of terrorist organizations as “resistance” groups. During a March 2005 speech he gave, entitled "Empire’s Imbedded Intellectuals," he stated, “Hezbollah was born after Israel’s invasion, in 1985, as a result of Israel’s atrocities in Lebanon. When Israel invaded Lebanon, the Shiia were welcoming the Israeli troops… It was just a short time that that changed into a resistance that resulted in evicting the Israelis out of South Lebanon.” In that speech Bazian also said: “Three months ago, they [Syria] allowed an assassination to take place in the middle of Damascus.  A major leader of the Islamic resistance was assassinated right in the middle of Damascus.”  The “resistance” leader Bazian was most probably referring to was Hamas operative Izz Eldine Subhi Sheik Khalil, who was executed by Israel in September of 2004, when his car exploded.

During another speech Bazian gave, in February of 2005, titled "The New COINTELPRO Campaign Directed at Arabs, Muslims and Southeast Asians," he defended Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Sami Al-Arian, saying, “He has not committed any crime whatsoever.” Bazian then lauded what he referred to as “resistance” groups in Chicago, New York and Texas for their raising of $650,000 for Al-Arian. Al-Arian, of course, later admitted to raising funds for the PIJ and conspiring to hide the identities of other members of the terrorist group. In April of 2006, he plead guilty to conspiring to provide material support to PIJ.

In this same speech, Bazian spoke of his disgust at encountering an FBI booth while attending the 39th annual Islamic Society of North America national convention in August of 2002. Bazian argued that Muslims should not allow the FBI to participate in their events and called it a “miscalculation” on the part of Muslim groups to do so.

When the Islamic Center of Boca Raton and the Islamic Center of South Florida granted an invitation for Hatem Bazian to speak, one has to wonder if they considered the possible ramifications for doing so. However, considering that they were granted permits to build two large-scale mosques in their communities – even after having been exposed as extremist institutions – tells us two things. First, that the ramifications, if any, would be negligible. Second, that neither center cares. And why should they? After all, time and time again their defiance gets rewarded.

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Joe Kaufman is the Chairman of Americans Against Hate and the founder of CAIR Watch.

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