March 16, 2014
It was not shocking to see the "Islamist lobby," both Muslim Brotherhood and pro-Iranian regime operatives, attacking Walid Phares for his new masterpiece -- The Lost Spring: US Foreign Policy in the Middle East and the Catastrophes to Avoid -- that will come to light next week. Observers were expecting a serious reading and critique of the book, which projects more of the Middle East's future, especially after Phares accurately predicted the Arab Spring in his book The Coming Revolution that was published before the upheavals.
However, the first shot by the "lobby" was in the form of a ludicrous blog posted on a South Florida social medium under a secret name; "Fire Ant." The producer of the smear has a pen name that tells it all: mental and intellectual chaos. Did the "secret blogger" inform his readers about the content of the book? No. Did he present counter arguments to Phares' findings? Of course not. The "ant-blogger" compiled an exhibit of online material disseminated in 2011 by Muslim Brotherhood and Iranian regime operatives in the United States, intended to tarnish Walid Phares' reputation and avenge his appointment by presidential candidate Mitt Romney, as one of his national security and foreign policy advisors.
During the months of October and November of 2011, the Brotherhood fronts and Hezbollah propagandists filled the net with false, despicable and fictional information about Phares, an author of 14 books and hundreds of articles pertaining to Middle Eastern politics. All smear material was countered swiftly, and the campaign receded due to lack of facts and unsupported argument. However, from time to time, as Dr. Phares is continuously interviewed by national and international media, Jihadophile propagandists and apologist allies periodically revert to such unfounded allegations and defaming information as space filler, for their unsubstantial blogs.
Tom Harb, a co-director of the Middle East American Coalition for Democracy, stated that
"The propaganda machine of the Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] and the Iranian regime is embedded online and is often tasked with attacking intellectuals, lawmakers and opinion makers who expose these extremist forces. In 2011, Walid Phares was attacked online because his book The Coming Revolution had predicted the Arab Spring and warned about the hijack of these revolts by Islamists and Jihadists. A prediction that has happened. Now they will be attacking his new book because it is educating Americans about the mistakes of their foreign policy."
The "controversy" that the New Broward Times' agitator wanted to produce, was generated by the fact that Dr. Phares was invited to speak at Florida Atlantic University where he taught for 11 years. The "hidden blogger," or rather the "mole," aired his complaints about the invitation. He began by classifying Phares -- an accredited advisor to many congressmen and to members of the European Parliament and whose book was endorsed by conservatives and liberals -- as "controversial." Perhaps he is "controversial" in the eyes of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Ayatollahs, but he is an academic who has been writing and publishing treasured material on international affairs for over three decades, making his insight indispensable to the international media globally.
The "little fire ant" has no discerning capacity to understand what Phares publishes or talks about. The "secret blogger" rehashes his masters' voice by operating the propaganda machine spewed four years ago, without a glimpse of originality or genuineness.
Ironically, "The propaganda ant" criticizes the low level of publicity by FAU for this event, while overlooking the promotional campaign his misdeed has provided. Just as his predecessors have attempted to accomplish in 2011, the "Ant" tries to depict Phares negatively and irrationally. He accordingly stated:
In the course of his career Phares has been denounced as a "radical, right-wing, sharia-phobe" and praised as "a true gentleman and one of the world's top analysts on terrorism, jihad, and the Middle East."
Over the past decades, many radicals such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, Hamas, Syrian regime operatives and others have tried to label Phares, a guardian of human rights, as "radical" simply for exposing their radical ideologies. Successively, the "Ant" uses the term 'Sharia-phobe' while Phares' expertise and work do not debate the Sharia. Mr. Ant should read Phares' new book before unleashing his resentment, for he will stumble upon an entire chapter devoted to the "industry of Islamophobia," which he depicts as political intimidation against dissent.
We will leave the readers to enjoy and judge that chapter among the others.
The "Jihadophile ant" insists that "criticism of Phares exploded in October 2011 when Mitt Romney announced Phares' appointment as a foreign policy advisor, a move interpreted as a dog whistle to the neocon community."
"Walid Phares is advising Romney on Middle East policy? For real? That's terrifying," tweeted one Middle East expert. "I have nothing against Gov. Romney," tweeted another, "but appointing Walid Phares your M.E. advisor is NUTS." The uninformed blogger ignores that the critics of Phares are themselves sympathizers of Muslim Brotherhood or apologists for outreach to Iran's regime. Criticism from that crowd, which populates the internet and some campuses, is in fact evidence of the substance found in The Lost Spring.
The "Ant" added: More detailed objections to Phares came from publications like The New Republic and especially, Mother Jones, who reported that Phares had been "a high ranking political official in a sectarian religious militia responsible for massacres during Lebanon's brutal, 15-year civil war."
How outlandish! The "Ant" refers to Mother Jones, a statement constituting radicalism per se, where another unprofessional blogger, part of the "network," used quotes from Hezbollah allies in Lebanon to criticize Phares. "Sectarian religious militia?" He is referring to a local coalition of political parties, one of whose leaders was a President of the UN General Assembly! Hezbollah and the Brotherhood have attempted to use the Lebanese Christian origin of Phares to connect him with historical events, he is entirely exempt from. If this is not sheer national-socialist and Bolshevik type propaganda, I do not know what is.
The New Times Broward blogger further alleges: Right-wing and GOP writers and publications rushed to Phares' defense, most coherently in National Review, where it was argued that Phares' critics had overstated his role in the Lebanese Christian militia, whose massacres were, in any case "the war crime of a small rogue group."
This is simply another failed attempt to mix up a scholar with an ethnic conflict in his motherland Lebanon. The Hezbollah-Ikhwan axis online lacks credibility, and accordingly bloggers who continue to feed on these canards fail as well.
Mr "Ant" goes on by adding that a very savvy analysis of the affair's political fallout came from Politico, which noted "the extent to which Phares is now aligned with an 'anti-jihad' movement that sometimes shades into being flatly anti-Islam."
This professional propagandist lie slaughtered the credibility of this fired up hidden blogger. Walid Phares has been the most vocal advocate of the Arab revolutions and of Muslim moderates for years, and yes, indeed, against the radical Islamists and Jihadists. He espouses what millions of moderate Muslims feel regarding the Jihadists--in Egypt, Tunisia, Iran, and around the world. Despite his dedicated career and efforts, the US-based Islamist lobby tries to spread lies, knowing that Phares has never addressed Islam as a religion or theology in his writings.
Nevertheless, "The ant" quotes an apologist blogger at Politico during the Presidential campaign, as follows:
Phares may be viewed as mainstream, but he doesn't avoid the more vocally anti-Muslim segments of the right. He has been a columnist for David Horowitz's arch-conservative Frontpage magazine, and he endorsed two books by Robert Spencer, whose writings frequently posit that American Muslims are part of a conspiracy to establish Taliban-style Islamic law in the United States. Phares also serves on the advisory board of the Clarion Fund, which has released a series of films warning of an Islamist fifth column in the United States. In a YouTube video released by anti-Islam activist Brigitte Gabriel, herself a Maronite Christian whose views of Islam were shaped by harrowing experiences in Lebanon's civil war, Phares tells Gabriel that "there is a cold war infiltration acquiring influence and the lands of what they call the infidels." When Gabriel's cohost asks Phares for examples of this vast conspiracy, Phares quietly assures him, "We can't give names, because it's operational, it's happening now."
That is flagrant evidence that Phares is a political scientist who addresses Jihadism, while shunning core theological issues. Publishing on various sites, endorsing books, appearing on TV shows of all natures, from Fox News to al Jazeera, is what Phares does. Does that mean he endorses the philosophy of any of these media? Does the "lobby" seek to approve of and/or authorize an author's interviews and media appearances?
"The inquisitor-ant" then attacks the FAU Professor and the associations that organized the event as if the "ant" is a thought gestapo. He states:
New Times only became aware of Phares' FAU appearance when we received an email off an FAU internal email list, in which Professor Robert Rabil announced Phares' lecture--"co-sponsored by the Peace Studies program and the College Republicans at FAU"--on behalf of the school's Political Science Department, where Rabil teaches. Asked about the scant publicity for Phares' appearance, Rabil said he had expected Phares' publisher to handle that. Otherwise, he said, "If you're not on an email listed with FAU, you won't get [an announcement]." About attendance by the community at large he said, "I'm not concerned. It's an open space." Asked if he supports Phares' thinking on the Mideast and Islam, Rabil replied, "I tell my students to never follow one line of thought. I don't endorse anything [Phares] says." Rabil, who has co-authored several papers with Phares, took a much different tack when Phares was under attack during the Romney campaign. At that time Rabil wrote that the charges against Phares constituted: an attack on Lebanon's Christian community as a whole, and perhaps against all minorities and liberal Muslims in the Middle East. They explicitly attacked Dr. Phares on the misleading basis of guilt by association without even considering either the political context in which the Lebanese Christians operated or the collective angst of the Christian community.
Having said that, we have consequently investigated this alleged interview of New Times with Professor Rabil, via direct inquiry. Rabil insisted that
"There was no interview. A man who never identified his name called my office and started to ask about our guest and the event. Then started to ask me about my ideas, though my books and articles are out, so are Dr. Phares many publications. I asked him why doesn't he come and ask his questions at the event? He just quit the conversation without giving his name. Today I saw a man write a blog and cite our conversation."
Clearly, the "ant-blogger" never interviewed Dr. Rabil, concealed his identity and that of the publication, depicting unethical and unprofessional journalism, contiguous with illegal libel.
The "ant" didn't stop here. He added: Phares has a well-oiled publicity machine at his disposal, but his vaunted predictive powers are non-existent (see what he said would happen after the US exited Iraq) and his policy prescriptions are a lot of empty blather about winning the "war of ideas."
Obviously, the "ant" has never read The Coming Revolution, which was the only book that predicted the Arab Spring, or any of Phares' hundreds of articles. Besides, the only article he cites from 2007 asserted that Iran will dominate Iraq's central power after US withdrawal. Now that did happen, did it not?
The "ant" interviewed another FAU professor. He wrote:
We expected a similarly critical comment from Professor Eric Hanne, faculty advisor to the FAU chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine. In an email, though, he wrote: "As I've not read the book, or kept up with Phares' work (being a medievalist myself), I wouldn't be able to add anything substantial to the conversation regarding his discussion of the Arab Spring or US Foreign policy. Having followed the coverage of the Arab Spring from its inception, and having read a number of pieces from a variety of scholars, I would say that the 'jury is still out' regarding an assessment of the 'Arab Spring.' There is much more at work here, going beyond the confines of the Arab world (a problematic monolithic term in and of itself) and it would be premature to make predictions or judgments."
Hanne concluded exactly as Phares does in his book; a very interesting critique indeed.
The "ant" went on:
Asked if Phares' controversial history was problematic or likely to color his message and analysis, Hanne wrote back: "I wouldn't presume to prejudge his upcoming talk; his career has tied him to particular mindsets (Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Romney campaign) in which there are very clear parameters for discussion and analysis, but where he stands is still a mystery to me (as someone who looks elsewhere than the FDD, Romney crowd for analysis)."
Undeniably, these are facts we do not object to.
In the end, the reader should clearly see the "ant" for what he truly is: a "lobby-mole" with a publishing spot at the New Times, evidently not vetted by the publisher, even worse, given that spot to puff with fire his intentions to attempt to tarnish the reputation of scholars. Now, one can freely agree or disagree with authors, academics, and even politicians. However, to employ propagandist material disseminated by lobbies defending terrorist organizations, such as Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood inspired fronts, is alarming. To say the least, New Times Broward owes an apology to Dr. Phares, Dr. Rabil, and to the community of FAU for the unprofessional handling of event coverage.
Joelle Sawaya is the editor, of The Voice of Justice. She is a FAU Political Science Graduate
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