Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Robert Spencer's patriarch spouts wicked antisemitism in defense of Islam, Spencer neglects to inform his growing readership

At least, one reasonably assumes that Gregory III Lahham, "patriarch of the Church of Antioch and the entire Levant for Melkite Greek Catholics" is the patriarch of Robert Spencer's flavor of Christianity, the so-called "Eastern Rite Catholics" (as this
Melkite website indicates, Antioch is the institutional heart of the Melkite church; and, of course, it is no secret that Spencer himself is a Melkite Catholic).

According to the online
Daily Star of Lebanon, this particular patriarch opined recently concerning attacks on Christians in the Middle East, saying that such attacks reflected a “Zionist conspiracy against Islam.”


“I believe it is necessary to deeply examine fundamentalism … and terrorism that are masked by religion, along with violence and disturbances against Christians here and there and on an increasing level.

And so, what about all this terrorism, violence and disturbances against Christians in the Middle East? Here's what the good patriarch said:

All this behavior has nothing to do with Islam. But it is actually a conspiracy planned by Zionism and some Christians with Zionist orientations and it aims at undermining and giving a bad image of Islam.”

Oh wait, the patriarch isn't done yet:

“And it is also a conspiracy against Arabs and the pre-dominantly Muslim Arab world that aims at depicting Arabs and Muslims in Arab countries as terrorist and fundamentalist murderers in order to deny them their rights and especially those of the Palestinians.”

One would think such outrageously scurrilous statements -- both in their scandalous vilification of Jews and in their intolerable exculpation of Islam -- would be singularly news-worthy to Jihad Watch. One reasonably concludes that Spencer is withholding such news from his readers out of filial respect for the patriarch of his church.

While not too long ago, Spencer did publish an article about a somewhat lower-rung clergyman of the Melkite church -- Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros, apparently the "eparch" (whatever the heck that is) of the Melkite church in the U.S.A. -- blurting out seemingly antisemitic opinions couched, as is usual for Arabs, in a context of condemning Israel for "occupation" and so forth, Spencer subsequently published -- and recklessly accepted -- a "clarification" by the good "eparch" that did little to allay concerns. Not only that, Spencer laid it on thick by actually apologizing to him!

Indeed, at the time, the vast majority Jihad Watch readers were having none of Spencer's defense of his "eparch". This was apparently just too much for the usually deferentially loyal Jihad Watch crowd.

For example, reader "Amillenialist" wrote:

Now I understand fully his position . . . he owes us and all non-Muslims an apology, for he equates Christianity with Islam and obfuscates for jihad.Any opinion offered on "Palestine" that neglects (or refuses) to tell the truth about jihad is not only a lie but an affront to human decency and a cover for sacralized genocide, pedophilia, rape, and slavery, for it facilitates Islam's "Cordoba Initiative," the "divine" mandate to war against the non-Muslim world until Muhammad's hellish ideology reigns supreme.

And reader "shortfattexan" wrote:

I have a great idea! Let's all bury our heads in the sand!

Meanwhile, reader "Boston Tea Party" wrote:

Does this guy [i.e., the "eparch" guy] honestly see modern, tiny, democratic Israel---as a Jewish state---being more of a threat to indigenous Christians than Muslim rule has been to the indigenous Christian poplulations in Arab lands?

Reader "mgoldberg" had this acutely apposite observation:

I disagree with Roberts' assessment about owing the prelate an apology. I find the man's evaluation, disingenuous, and his assessment of what the Torah states and commands is errant, bigoted as is his nonsensical empty pomposity about 'both sides needing to make compromises' for peace.

And subsequently, the same reader goes on to speculate about the "puzzle" of Robert's apology to the "eparch", noting that:

The prelate states quite pompously, errantly thus:
"...Now in the Israeli-Palestinian issue we are in presence of two opposed religious extremist ideologies..."

And adding:

And he claims both are religious extremist ideologies? ... Christians ought to be ashamed of this assessment by him.

Reader Moishe weighed in with his two cents:

This synod's letter has an inaccurate account of how & why there's a state of Israel, is based on a huge misunderstanding of Islam & why Islam cannot think in the matter suggested, & is contains a recipe for the destruction of the 7 million citizens of Israel.

Reader "charleston" didn't mince words:

...deep, deep, deep down, what you have here is a very ignorant antisemite.

Meanwhile, long-time reader and copious commenter "dumbledoresarmy" posted a previous article by ex-Vice-President Hugh Fitzgerald, that had to remind readers of the rich reasons why Spencer's "eparch" -- and thus by obvious extension, Spencer himself -- is so grievously wrong on this matter.

Then reader "senorlechero" wrote:

Robert...I'm confused. For what reason do you owe him an apology?

And I agree with the poster who called the Archbishop a "tool". Reader "ShyGuy" wrote: From this Torah loyal Jew residing in Jerusalem to the Archbishop:


Reader "kohana" was even blunter:

The Archbishop is spurting a mouthful of ignorant gobbledygook, received from his ignorant brain. Someone needs to spit at his feet, to show their respect.

Reader JB wrote:

Dear Robert
I'm really disapointed. Why do you need to apologise?

Similarly, reader "M.O.T." wrote:

I am appalled and very disappointed at your apology to Bustros.
His usual Christian theologian attitude of superiority, his numerous errors and misinterpretations of facts and his damnable self righteous preaching have only exacerbated the matter.

Reader "Sagunto" wrote:

In short, I don't think that the above kind of dhimmified double-talk or attempt to play "both sides of the fence" (no pun intended) warrants any kind of apology, not in the least by Robert Spencer.

Reader "aspacia" wrote:

Nope, the Jewish Community is not buying this.

Reader "KnightsTemplar" wrote:

As a Christian, I continue to be disappointed in the blinders that middle-east Christians wear...

One of the rare defenders of Spencer -- the otherwise intelligent reader "Wellington" -- came curiously to Spencer's defense with this transparently specious logic:

Robert Spencer, a Christian, demonstrates the capacity of a Christian to apologize. When does any Muslim apologize for anything if Islam is even remotely at issue? Christianity, to its credit, allows for humility. Islam most definitely does not, just as no totalitarian ideology does.

To which I would say, if apologizing is such a Christian virtue, why doesn't Spencer apologize to Jihad Watch readers for his apologetic defense of Bustros? Or at the very least, Spencer could deign to condescend from on high and respond -- responsively, not as is his usual wont, curtly -- to all these rightfully indignant readers and otherwise loyal supporters of his.

Back to our main topic, the vile antisemitic remarks of Spencer's patriarch, Gregory III Lahham. Not only has Spencer been oddly silent about this (a good 48 hours after the story broke in the Daily Star of Lebanon, and a good 30 hours after Lawrence Auster posted an article about it on his blog), but a cursory review of Jihad Watch in this same time frame reveals him taking many others to task for essentially the same sin:

1) Reza Aslan, whom Spencer likens (quite rightly) to Fritz Kuhn, a demagogue of the 1930s who sided with Hitler and espoused demonization of Jews. As Spencer quotes Kuhn in a speech he gave in New York at the time:

"The Bund is fighting shoulder to shoulder with patriotic Americans to protect America from a race that is not the American race, that is not even a white race ...The Jews are enemies of the United States."

2) Iranian Parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, who blamed a recent double suicide bombing in Iran mass-murdering at least 39 Shiite Muslims on "the Zionist regime and the U.S.". Again, Spencer rightfully skewers such, as he put it, "conspiracy paranoia and Islamic antisemitism".

3) Then, "Roland Shirk", Spencer's new replacement for Hugh Fitzgerald (whose sudden unceremonious exit recently remains insuffuciently explained), published an essay in which he takes a boldly no-nonsense stand against soft PC Christians of our era, whose Christianity, he claims, "is not real Christianity."

And he elaborates:

"It is, indeed, the "slave morality" against which Nietzsche rightly warned. It is puerile, poisonous, and much more evil than almost any form of paganism with which the West is acquainted--except, perhaps, for the cannibalism of the Aztecs. It is the creed of the dhimmis, and it richly deserves to be persecuted. Indeed, its advocates seem to crave persecution, to satisfy a sense of inner martyrdom over which they impotently preen."

While the stabs at a historical understanding of this situation which "Roland Shirk" takes are rather simplistic, the general tenor of his condemnation -- and of his call for a more robust Christianity which the West practiced for centuries before its modern enfeeblement -- is spot on. It would have been nice, however, had he or Spencer included, somewhere in this week's stories, a similiarly round upbraid of the patriarch Gregory III Lahham.

Incidentally, in the comments thread of this very same essay by "Roland Shirk", Spencer made a rare appearance, swooping in like a hawk from on high to alert his readers to a particular commenter ("fairufzan") whom Spencer rightly accused of having pro-Islamic motives. Spencer wrote:

"Fairuzfan" is not a traditionalist Catholic, as he pretends to be, but an Islamic supremacist who never has a word to say about the Muslim persecution of Christians. Or if he is a traditionalist Catholic, he departs wildly from their usual tendencies in his attitude toward Islam.

If he is a Christian at all, he represents the worst kind of dhimmi capitulation to the Islamic agenda, the advance of which -- often by moral equivalence invocation of the political Catholicism of the medieval period -- is the only purpose for which he comments here. He is just here doing black ops, as so many have tried to do before. Do not fall for him.

I have added the bold emphasis to highlight Spencer's selective conscience and diligence: The very same sin he rightfully points out in "fairufzan" is what the patriarch of Spencer's Melkite Catholic church is squarely guilty of. Let us be reminded of the words of that patriarch:

“... violence and disturbances against Christians here and there and on an increasing level... has nothing to do with Islam. But it is actually a conspiracy planned by Zionism and some Christians with Zionist orientations and it aims at undermining and giving a bad image of Islam.”

This wouldn't be the first time that Spencer let personal issues cloud his judgment and interfere with his reportorial task with regard to the problem of Islam.

1 comment:

Collin Michael Nunis said...

Melkites are indeed Eastern Catholics, just like the other 21 Eastern Catholic Churches. Pray tell, what's so "so-called" about it?