Mike Lumish

A Question for Progressive-Left American Jews

Now that Americans have voted and we are going to get another four years of Barack Obama in the White House, I have a question for our progressive-left Jewish friends in the United States.

What is your argument for supporting radical Islam?

This question may sound rather odd because I am reasonably certain that most center-left American Jews, of which I am one, in fact, would not think of themselves as supporters of radical Islam.  But if this is the case there seems to be a rather gaping disconnect that needs somehow to be reconciled.


President Barack Obama supported the rise of radical Islam throughout the Middle East on “democratic” grounds.  Personally, I think that he could hardly be more foolish, but he supported the misnamed “Arab Spring” because he interpreted that movement as the great up-welling of Arab democracy.  After the fall of Tunisia to radical Islam he said this:

There are times in the course of history when the actions of ordinary citizens spark movements for change because they speak to a longing for freedom that has been building up for years. In America, think of the defiance of those patriots in Boston who refused to pay taxes to a King, or the dignity of Rosa Parks as she sat courageously in her seat.

I don’t know about you, but that strikes me as rather optimistic, wouldn’t you say?  Anyone with the slightest clue at that time had the common sense to understand that what we were seeing with the Arab Spring was, at least possibly, the rise of radical Islam and, therefore, the moment called for a measure of caution.

Not so, Barack Obama.  At a moment when open-minded people were willing to wait and see, Obama charged forth embracing radical Islam as if it represented some combination of the American Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s with the Sons of Liberty and the American Revolution.

When Obama uttered the above words, in May of last year, he could perhaps have been forgiven for unrealistic naivete.  He may have actually thought that the Arab Spring was the herald of a democracy movement throughout the region, as opposed to what it really is, but if this is the case, just why did he support the Muslim Brotherhood in their efforts to attain power in Egypt?

The Muslim Brotherhood is the parent organization of both Hamas and al-Qaeda and has an historical provenance that goes, at least in part, to Nazi Germany.  This, however, did not prevent the Obama administration from meeting with the Brotherhood on several occasions well prior to their rise to power in Egypt.  Nor did it prevent Obama from inviting Brotherhood officials to his Cairo speech, above Mubarak’s objections.

It’s possible, I suppose, that Obama thought that after all these decades, since its formation in 1920s Cairo, that the Brotherhood had moderated.   His Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, after all, at a House Intelligence Committee hearing, said the following:

The term “Muslim Brotherhood”is an umbrella term for a variety of movements, in the case of Egypt, a very heterogeneous group, largely secular, which has eschewed violence and has decried Al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam… They have pursued social ends, a betterment of the political order in Egypt, et cetera. … In other countries, there are also chapters or franchises of the Muslim Brotherhood, but there is no overarching agenda, particularly in pursuit of violence, at least internationally.

But if Obama honestly did believe that the Brotherhood had moderated itself into a largely secular, non-violent, rather benign political organization seeking democracy and justice for Arabs and Muslims, how does one explain the fact that one of its very top officials, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, in a January 2009 sermon said this:

Oh Allah, take your enemies, the enemies of Islam. Oh Allah, take the Jews, the treacherous aggressors. Oh Allah, take this profligate, cunning, arrogant band of people. Oh Allah, they have spread much tyranny and corruption in the land. Pour Your wrath upon them, oh our God. Lie in wait for them. Oh Allah, You annihilated the people of Thamoud at the hand of a tyrant, and You annihilated the people of ‘Aad with a fierce, icy gale, and You destroyed the Pharaoh and his soldiers – oh Allah, take this oppressive, tyrannical band of people. Oh Allah, take this oppressive, Jewish Zionist band of people. Oh Allah, do not spare a single one of them. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one.

Now perhaps I am biased, being Jewish and all, but that does not sound particularly moderate or secular to my ear. How about you?

Is it possible that Obama administration intelligence was so poor that they were unaware of this?  We’re supposed to believe that Qaradawi has an Al Jazeera television show, ash-Shariah wal-Hayat (“Shariah and Life”), with estimated worldwide audience of about 60 million people, yet the administration was entirely unaware of his genocidal rantings?

And what are we to make of the fact that when Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi campaigned for that office he attended a rally in which a speaker called for the conquest of Jerusalem?

Our capital shall not be Cairo, it shall be Jerusalem!

And, yet, in his recent speech to the United Nations Obama demonstrated not the slightest indication that he had learned anything about the nature of the Arab Spring, or the Muslim Brotherhood, over the course of several years, now.  Despite all of this, Obama stood up before the world community, including his Jewish supporters, and said:

It’s been less than two years since a vendor in Tunisia set himself on fire to protest the oppressive corruption in his country and sparked what became known as the Arab Spring. And since then, the world has been captivated by the transformation that’s taken place, and the United — the United States has supported the forces of change.


We were inspired by the Tunisian protests that toppled a dictator because we recognized our own beliefs in the aspiration of men and women who took to the streets. We insisted on change in Egypt because our support for democracy ultimately put us on the side of the people.

You will, I hope, excuse me for being just a tad skeptical, but it seems pretty obvious that the Obama administration, whatever their intentions, supports the rise of radical Islam throughout the Muslim Middle East.

This is clearly evident. There is no question about it and there hasn’t been for a number of years now. Anyone paying attention to Obama’s foreign policy knew that he favored the Arab Spring and anyone paying attention to the Arab Spring knew that it was not about democracy so much as the rise of radical Islam, the very same political movement that is responsible for 9/11.

Thus my question to our progressive-left American Jewish supporters of Barack Obama:

What is your argument for supporting radical Islam?

You support Barack Obama and Obama supports the most rigidly conservative and reactionary movement on the planet today.  Radical Islam seeks the oppression of women, the murder of Gay people, the genocide of the Jews, and is driving non-Muslims out of the Middle East entirely.

So, what I want to know are the American progressive-left arguments in favor of such things.

But, don’t worry, I will not hold my breath.

{Mike Lumish is the proprietor of the pro-Israel political blog, Israel Thrives.}

About the Author
Mike Lumish is a PhD in American history from the Pennsylvania State University and has taught at PSU, San Francisco State University, and the City College of San Francisco. He regularly publishes on the Arab-Israel conflict at the Times of Israel and at his own blog, Israel Thrives ( He has in recent years given conference papers on American cultural and intellectual history at The International Society for the History of Behavioral and Social Sciences in Dublin, Ireland, as well as at the Western Historical Association in Phoenix, Arizona and the American Cultural Association in New Orleans, Louisiana. Lumish is also the founding editor of the scholarly on-line discussion forum H-1960s. He can be contacted at