Mike Lumish

Barack Obama’s Support for the Rise of Political Islam

It remains fairly astonishing that most diaspora Jews still do not understand that United States president Barack Obama assisted the rise of political Islam throughout the Middle East, particularly in Egypt.

One very simple fact needs to be understood by people who care about US foreign policy in the Middle East:

Barack Obama supported the rise of political Islam within that part of the world.


He did so despite the fact that devotees of political Islam (or radical Islam or Islamism) stone women to death for alleged promiscuity, hang Gay people from cranes because Allah apparently does not like Gay people, and calls for the genocide or dhimmitude of the Jews and the Christians because dhimmis, and other non-Muslims, refuse to accept Muhammad as the prophet of God.  How it is that the great majority of American Jews favor a president that supported a political movement that denigrates their own people is a question that future historians and sociologists will spend many, many hours researching and pondering.

When told that Barack Obama favored and assisted the rise of political Islam, however, many western-left Jews simply scoff.  The truth, of course, is that Obama did assist the rise of political Islam throughout the Middle East and admitted it, himself.

In his September 25, 2012 speech before the General Assembly of the United Nations he said this:

It has 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 States has supported the forces of change.

The United States has supported the forces of change.

These are Obama’s own words.  It is he that claims that under his administration the United States supported the so-called “Arab Spring.”  So, what was the “Arab Spring”?  It should be entirely clear to everyone by this point that it was not the great up-welling of Arab democracy but the rise of political Islam, which is the theocratic-authoritarian movement to impose al-Sharia on the peoples of the world, starting with the peoples of the Middle East.

That is what Obama supported and claimed to support.  This is not a matter of hyperbole or interpretation.  He said what he said and he did what he did and we need to recognize it.  He may have done so out of either ignorance or stupidity, but that he did so is no longer open to question.  If it was ignorance, then he did so out of a belief that the Muslim Brotherhood is largely secular and moderate. Perhaps Obama gave too much credence to his National Intelligence Director, James Clapper, who told Congress that “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.”

How it is possible that the National Intelligence Director of the United States under Barack Obama could believe such nonsense boggles the mind.  The Muslim Brotherhood, as anyone who has done even a little research into their roots can tell you, is meant to advance Sharia, which is religious law.

It is, therefore, not secular. Furthermore, if you read prominent historical scholars who have written about the Muslim Brotherhood, such as Matthias Küntzel or Paul Berman or Jeffrey Herf, you will learn that the Brotherhood emerged in 1920s Cairo as a theocratic-fascistic movement opposed to modernity, opposed to secularism, in opposition to the west, and in racist opposition to the well-being of the Jewish people.

Although numerous countries throughout the region are falling to political Islam, I will limit my comments to Egypt because that country is among the most geo-politically significant countries in the Arab-Muslim world and because it is in Egypt that Obama has done the most damage in his work on behalf of that movement.

Obama’s main efforts in assisting the rise of political Islam throughout the Middle East consisted of his efforts on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.  The Muslim Brotherhood is a violently racist organization that was founded in the 1920s and that, like the Nazis in Germany at that time, or the Ku Klux Klan in the United States at that time, sought to impose its fascistic vision through violence.  The Muslim Brotherhood then, and the Muslim Brotherhood now, is in direct opposition to western values precisely because Sharia is directly in opposition to western values.

That Barack Obama would seek to bolster the fortunes of such a political movement is unconscionable and Jewish people and women and Gay people and all people, who do not wish to live under theocratic dominance, should object strenuously.  Part of the problem that we have, however, is that Obama’s Jewish supporters tend to simply turn away their heads.  They refuse to acknowledge that which is directly before their noses.  And what that means is that we must use the evidence before us to encourage them to open their eyes.

Obama directly claimed his support for the “Arab Spring,” which is the rise of political Islam.

The Cairo Speech:

Prior to helping oust Hosni Mubarak, Barack Obama invited the Muslim Brotherhood, over Mubarak’s objections, to his 2009 speech in Cairo.  From the 1920s through the demise of Mubarak, throughout the period of Arab nationalism, Egyptian regimes consistently suppressed the Brotherhood and sometimes executed their leadership.  For almost a century the political tension in Egypt has been between racist military dictatorships and racist theocratic insurgents.  With the rise of Arab nationalism in the middle of the twentieth century, with Nasser leading the way, Arab theocracy throughout the Middle East was on the wane until the Iranian revolution of 1979.

By inviting the Brotherhood to the Cairo speech, Obama validated the political movement for Sharia that, in its modern form, began with Hasan Al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb, was greatly advanced by the Iranian revolution and that is further advanced with the heinous riots and rapes and murders that are collectively known as the “Arab Spring.”

Many critics condemn Obama’s Cairo speech for implying a moral equivalence between the European effort at Jewish genocide and  al-Nakba (the catastrophe).   The “catastrophe,” of course, is that the local Arabs made war upon the Jews of the Middle East, often fighting against women and Holocaust survivors, and lost, despite their great numerical advantage.

Thus at the very outset of the Obama administration he assisted in the ascendancy of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt while denigrating the Holocaust by suggesting a moral equivalency between the horror of the genocide of the Jews and the displacement of Arabs who likewise sought the genocide of the Jews.

Ousting Mubarak:

Barack Obama demanded that Mubarak step down knowing full-well that the Muslim Brotherhood was waiting in the wings.  Given the fact that he invited the Brotherhood to his Cairo speech he certainly knew that they were a force to be reckoned with in that country.  Since he knew the Brotherhood was a significant organization surely his advisors must have informed him about the history of the organization, including its connection to Nazi Germany.

This gets to the crux of the matter.  Either Obama knew of the Brotherhood-Nazi connection or he did not.  If he did not, then he is guilty of dangerous and shameful ignorance.  But if he did, it is worse.  If Obama understood the Brotherhood’s connection to Nazi Germany then he is guilty of something a tad more serious.

In any case, by calling for Mubarak’s ouster Obama helped clear a path for the Brotherhood to come to power in Egypt.

It has to be understood that when Obama called for the ouster of Mubarak he assisted the Brotherhood’s rise to power and thereby assisted the rise of political Islam throughout the region.

Ensuring the Ascendancy of a Racist Regime:

The Muslim Brotherhood, after ninety long years in the political wilderness, finally came to power shortly after the election of Barack Obama and partly due to Obama’s efforts.  The Egyptian election, and the referendums that followed, were not democratic because Brotherhood thugs prevented Copts from voting.  One cannot claim democratic legitimacy if one suppresses the ability of one’s political opponents to express their will at the ballot box.

Nonetheless, directly after the semi-faux-democratic election in Egypt, US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, flew to that country on the instructions of Barack Obama for the purpose of advancing relations between the United States and the Muslim Brotherhood.

In a July 14, 2012, piece written for the New York Times by David Kirkpatrick, he writes:

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in Egypt on Saturday for meetings with its newly elected Islamist president and the chief of its still-dominant military council, declaring that the United States “supports the full transition to civilian rule with all that entails.”

With the rise of political Islam in Egypt, under the Muslim Brotherhood and now deposed president Muhammed Morsi, what civilian rule entailed was the suppression and victimization of the Copts, an increase in the oppression of women, the institutionalization of a particularly violent form of religious homophobia, and incitement of genocide toward the Jewish minority in the Middle East.

Kirkpatrick’s piece emphasizes a certain even-handedness during Clinton’s trip, but this does not change the fact that by visiting Morsi after the election she gave the US seal of approval to a political party, and a political movement, entirely at odds with western liberal values.

Furthermore, the United States sent the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt F-16 fighter jets and hundreds of Abrams tanks.  How anyone can claim that the Obama administration has not supported the rise of political Islam in the Middle East when we have it on record that he sent them heavy weaponry is simply irrational.

Why it Matters:

If the Jewish people are not the most persecuted people on the entire planet within the last few mellennia we are certainly among the most persecuted.  From the seventh century until the current moment Arab majoritarian conquerors in the Middle East have kept the tiny Jewish minority in a state of perpetual self-defense.  For thirteen centuries the Jews of the Middle East lived as dhimmis under the boot of Arab-Muslim imperial rule.

In Martin Gilbert’s In Ishmael’s House: A History of Jews in Muslim Lands, we learn that for the dhimmi:

There could be no building of new synagogues or churches. Dhimmis could not ride horses, but only donkeys; they could not employ a Muslim. Jews and Christians alike had to wear special hats, cloaks and shoes to mark them out from Muslims… A dhimmi could not – and cannot to this day – serve in a Muslim court as witness in a legal case involving a Muslim… men could enter public bathhouses only when they wore a special sign around their neck distinguishing them from Muslims… Sexual relations with a Muslim woman were forbidden, as was cursing the Prophet in public – an offense punishable by death. (pgs. 32 – 33)

The system of dhimmitude is central to Sharia law and it is a return to Sharia law that is the goal of political Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood.  Sharia is, obviously non-democratic and thus Obama’s support for the rise of political Islam under the cloak of “democracy” was a falsehood from the start, whether he realized it or not.

The question is not if Obama supported the rise of political Islam, but just why he did so?  Some contend that he did so because of a desire to support democracy, but political Islam is non-democratic even if it comes to power through the ballot box.  Others maintain that Obama is actually a crypto-Muslim and that he therefore supports the rise of political Islam because he is in sympathy with that fascistic movement.  My suspicion is that the former explanation carries considerably more weight.

What drives Barack Obama is not malice, nor a desire to see the rise of political Islam or to undermine the United States in the region, but a deep naivety and ideological blinkertude that is exceedingly dangerous to the Jews of the Middle East, if not everyone else in the Middle East.

One can support democracy without supporting any and all political outcomes.  The United States government has an obligation to its citizenry to support their vital national interests.  There was a time when American governments understood this.  Under this administration, however, it is no longer the case.  If you believe that Obama’s intentions are essentially benevolent then you must believe that his administration’s efforts in that part of the world are intended to foster the greater good for everyone, as well as to support American interests in the region.

In both cases he has failed almost entirely.  Thankfully, the Egyptian people and the Egyptian military fought back against political Islam in their country.

Nonetheless, embracing the Muslim Brotherhood was merely one in a string of foreign policy cognitive errors, but it was definitely among the worst and certainly suggested to this writer that this president could not be trusted.

That much is certain.


Michael Lumish is the editor of 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