Dr. Esam Omeish resigned as a member of the Virginia Commission on Immigration after his anti-Israel remarks in support of "the jihad way" were posted on YouTube. He told a news conference that jihad has nothing to do with violence, but instead is about inner struggles leading to spiritual triumph. We've heard this before. Such explanations are presented after a terrorist act or a radical is exposed. Radicals also have been known to lie, especially to "infidels."
Omeish claims his remarks were "taken out of context." The context appears clear to anyone familiar with the language of the Middle East. Most rational people understand "the jihad way," especially when it is associated with Israel, as meaning the violent overthrow of Israel (and other democracies) and the destruction of the Jewish people.
Democratic Governor Timothy M. Kaine appointed Dr. Omeish, a frequent critic of Israel and of U.S. policy in the region, to the Virginia commission that is examining whether Virginia should do more to restrict illegal immigration. Gov. Kaine said background checks would be more thorough in the future.
Examining Dr. Omeish's associations might help put his views "in context." He is president of the Muslim American Society (MAS), a group with close ties to the extremist Muslim Brotherhood.
Three years ago, the Chicago Tribune published a lengthy investigative article on the Muslim Brotherhood. Leaders of the Brotherhood voted to change the organization's name to MAS and to become more publicly active: "An undated internal memo instructed MAS leaders on how to deal with inquiries about the new organization. If asked, ŒAre you the Muslim Brothers?' leaders should respond that they are an independent group called the Muslim American Society. And if the topic of terrorism were raised, leaders were told to say that they were against terrorism but that jihad was among a Muslim's 'divine legal rights' to be used to defend himself and his people and to spread Islam."
Definitions are important because the same words and actions can have shifting meanings and interpretations, depending on the beliefs of the speaker and hearer. In fact, that is part of the radical's strategy: tell the West what it wants to hear while plotting to destroy us and impose Koranic rule on the world.
The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) went into predictable rant mode and denounced critics of Dr. Omeish as "Islamophobes" (can't they come up with something better than this hackneyed, overused word?). After every terrorist act, or comment about killing and destroying infidels and their nations, CAIR and their fellow travelers tell us that what we have seen and heard is not really what was intended. Sure. Some of their best friends are infidels.
Former Pakistani President Benazir Bhutto, a moderate Muslim, was in Washington last week. I asked her how concerned the United States should be, especially when we see and hear radical talk from people such as Dr. Omeish. Speaking of the radicals, she told me "They are infiltrating (the United States and England). What I am hearing is that they now want to buy people off (and) plant people in intelligence and the military." Bhutto described the radicalization of Islam, which she said is virtually unchallenged in the Islamic world: "When I was a young girl, my Islamic teachers said everybody can have their own religion. Now they say you cannot (even) talk to others about their religion. You used to be able to marry anyone who is from the Abrahamic tradition - people of the Book - but (Muslims) are now taught you can't marry anyone (who doesn't have your) interpretation (of Islam)."
Bhutto says the West is losing the war against the radicals. On Oct. 18, she plans to return to Pakistan from exile in order to fight them and she wants to see a debate within Islam and more support for building mosques and publishing books based on moderate interpretations of Islam to counter the radicals.
If I were an enemy of America and the West, my strategy would be what Bhutto says is now happening: infiltrate important structures within which I could work to damage and destroy the West. Dr. Omeish uses the language and expresses the intensity of others who wish to overthrow America and Israel. One could give this movement and their intent a label. Call it "the jihad way."
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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