Thursday, June 05, 2008

Our American Imam Wants You to Know, 'I Am Not an Iranian Agent'

Detroit-area residents who can’t find copies of the Arab American News, or who’ve had their satellite link to Al Jazeera cut off, need go no further than the Op Ed page of the Detroit News to get a view of current affairs from the pro-Iranian side of the street.

That’s where editorial page editor Nolan Finley has given the Islamic House of Wisdom’s Imam Mohammad Ali Elahi a regular column, under the title, “Faith and Policy.”

The Imam’s faith happens to be Shia Islam, of the Hezbollah-are-freedom-fighters strain. Being a Muslim, of course, should not foreclose the Imam having a voice in a free press. And Finley explains his decision to give Elahi a megaphone by noting

that Elahi is considered a moderate in Dearborn's Muslim community.

"Extreme from our point of view and extreme from mainstream America's point of view? Perhaps." Finley said. "Extreme for that community? I'm not sure. I think he has a very large following--in fact, I know he has a very large following in that community, and speaks for a very large segment of that community.”

I’ll say. All the more reason to pay close attention, eh?

As to his policies, Imam Elahi is a big believer that while everything about the American foreign policy of George W. Bush since 9/11 is “a moral tragedy, ”the recent Iranian- and Syrian-backed sacking of the Lebanese parliament is a success story, as he described it in June 3rd column. (“Bush's Middle East foreign policy creates moral tragedies”).

He’s also stated in his column that,

Regarding Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's recent call to wipe Israel off the map . . .:

--"It is very clear that Mr. Ahmadinejad was not making an anti-Semitic statement."

--"The Iranian president's quip can best be understood in the context of the Declaration of Independence.”

--and, “Israel must stop instigating violent conflicts in the Muslim world."

Another Elahi column described Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin as a ‘Palestinian spiritual leader, (who) had a heart full of love for humanity.’ Yet another compared the Iranian constitution to that of the United States.

Imam Elahi, was at one time the spiritual leader of the Iranian navy. The self-evident benefits of an armed force having a spiritual leader can be seen in recent news about the Iranian navy, featuring stories about the navy threatening to attack and “explode” U.S. warships, (“Video of Iran ‘attack’ on three US warships released by Pentagon”), unlawfully taking British sailors hostage, (“Iranian Vessels Seize 15 British Navy Personnel in Iraqi Waters”), and how its Basiji Islamic Revolutionary Guard members brag that they’ve taken a suicide pledge. (“Iran navy in suicide attack pledge”):

“If necessary, we will use the element of martyrdom-seeking and we will become people of Ashura," Fars quoted Gen. Ali Fadavi as saying. Ashura refers to the day marking the death of Imam Hussein, Prophet Mohammed's grandson, who is revered by Shiite Muslims.

Whether or not all this misdirected belligerence is made wors or better by having “spiritual leaders” of the stripe of Imam Elahi, I’ll leave for the Imam Elahis of the world to explain.

After bucking up the Iranian sea dogs Imam Elahi came to the USA around 1991 on a 4-month visa. According to one source, that visa “enabled him to inspect American branches of Hizbullah (Tehran's network of agents) and to reinforce Tehran's influence on Shi'ite communities (in Dearborn)."

Now he’s an American citizen, which, if nothing else, grants him the right to use first-person pronouns when attacking the United States. Such as when he said in his Tuesday column,

Our country, once a beacon of hope and freedom for the world, has squandered our prosperity to create conflicts and instigate civil wars among other nations by funding one group against another”; or, “Our nation deserves truthful and trustworthy leaders who have enough courage and commitment to turn the anti-American resentment around the world into respect and love.”

I guess I shouldn’t knock him for it. Most Democrats are born here and still reflexively refer to most Americans as “them.”

Anyway, Elahi’s nostalgia for a period of respect and love for America that he’s never been around for is truly inspiring. I get dewy-eyed thinking back on those carefree days when it was Jimmy Carter that Ahmadinejad and his scruffy cohorts were burning in effigy as they brutalized our embassy staff.

But although he denies being an Iranian agent, Imam Elahi seems to have a one-track mind when it comes to the policies he preaches. They always seem to be pointed at benefits to Iran--or Iran’s creature, Hezbollah.

For example, to undo the “moral tragedy” of the Bush foreign policy, Elahi thinks we need “to stop these wars, fix the mess in Iraq and Afghanistan and don't start yet another war in the Persian Gulf.”

But who’s to benefit from us “stopping” the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? In other words, who's to benefit from our withdrawing and leaving both newly liberated nations to the depredations of their strongest neighbor--Iran. And who’s the only Persian Gulf nation in the region there’s even the remotest chance of us going to war with? Iran.

Elahi continues: “There is no evidence that Iran is building nuclear weapons.” For this, Elahi cites the much-maligned National Intelligence Estimate of November 2007, which he says “confirmed that Iran's nuclear program has no military aspect -- it is not pursuing nuclear weapons.”

Except the NIE didn’t. Instead, all 16 American spy agencies that contributed to the report stated “that Tehran is likely keeping its options open with respect to building a weapon, but that intelligence agencies do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons.’” (“U.S. Says Iran Ended Atomic Arms Work”).

But Elahi is particularly adamant that Iran is not nuke-bound, and he wishes Bush would quit taking the cautious route, (as if world peace depended on it, or something), pointing out how “United Nations atomic watchdog chief, Mohamed El-Baradei, accused the Bush administration of adding ‘fuel to the fire’ with bellicose rhetoric.”

But if there’s no fire, how can you add fuel to it? Besides, “watchdog” El-Baredei, even as he faces daily lies and obfuscation from Iranian authorities, has never been willing to admit there’s an Iranian bomb program, and probably won’t until he’s falling through space onto Tel Aviv straddling one Slim-Pickens style.

Imam Elahi does spare some concern for the nation he has adopted, instead of the one he's not an agent for. He cares deeply that America “deserves truthful and trustworthy leaders who have enough courage and commitment to turn the anti-American resentment around the world into respect and love.”

His advice is that the “United States should get on the right side of the struggle and be part of the triumph of peace.” He’s short on specifics, but I think this translates this way: “Dump Israel, and let Iran have the bomb.”

Imam Elahi does think there’s a way we can still be friends with Israel, but we should imitate Jimmy Carter in showing how true friendship really works. “Honestly, the best friends of Israel are those who say it like it is. Former President Jimmy Carter called the Israeli policy toward Gaza ‘one of the greatest human rights crimes on earth.’”

(What do you bet it's been a while since Rosalynn asked Jimmy, "Does this dress make me look fat?")

Now we're all waiting for Jimmy to give Hamas some of the same depth of constructive criticism, and show them some true friendship.

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