'Pro-Democracy' Think Tank is Front for Israeli Lobby
by Ismail Royer

September 26, 2002

A new think tank reports it has "joined forces" with a Saudi dissident (what are they, the Wonder Twins?) in the neocon campaign to smear the Saudi government and Saudi-based Islamic groups. The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) and the so-called "Saudi Institute," a one-man show run by disgruntled Shi'ite Ali Al-Ahmed (above), claim in a new report that Saudi Arabian religious authorities are spreading "hate literature."

The report is totally bogus, rife with mistranslation and selective quoting. For example, the report cites a passage from a book distributed by the Virginia-based Instititute for Islamic and Arabic Sciences, part of the Saudi university system, in which it is written that Muslims should feel hatred toward non-Muslims. He neglects to mention that this refers to what a Muslim's attitude toward the enemy should be during a period of war. He juxtaposes this with a quote 20 pages away that Muslims should not take the Christians and Jews as friends, regardless of whether or not they are combatants. They translate the word "awliyaat" as "friends," when the term actually means patrons or protectors ("isdiqaa" means friends).

He conveniently avoids passages like this from the book:

“Treat them with gentleness and in the best manner. You may give charity to the poor among them, give them presents and accept their presents, give them condolences, answer their greetings…and travel to their countries if there is no religious oppression. You may visit them, you may interact with them freely.”

As a long time observer of the neocon anti-Islam industry, a think tank with a name like "Foundation for the Defense of Democracies" just begs me to delve a little deeper. Turns out it was co-founded by neocon godfather Richard Perle, one of "a group of high-ranking hawks in the Pentagon--led by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz--that some DC insiders call the 'Kosher Nostra.'" Perle heads up the quasi-official Defense Policy Board, which sponsored the controversial Pentagon briefing in July that described Saudi Arabia as an enemy of the United States.

Look a little further and we find that the FDD's vice president, Nim Boms, is a former Officer of Public and Academic Affairs for the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC. Heading up the FDD is Clifford May, currently Vice Chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition, a group with a stated goal of “continuing foreign aid to Israel.” Other FDD officials include veteran pro-Israel activists like Charles Jacobs, who has been active with the National Unity Coalition for Israel (NUCI), a group he tells the New York Times (1/21/98) gives “voice to evangelical Christians who are ardent Zionists.”

And violent groups? They apparently don't have a problem with them as long as they support their favorite country. Jacobs' NUCI has posted materials on its web site by an official of Kach, the violent Israeli militant group outlawed by the United States as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. And FDD Senior Advisor Walid Phares has had a long and close relationship with the Guardians of the Cedar, a pro-Israel Lebanese militia. The group, which in 1976 led the massacre of at least 3,000 Palestinian men, women, and children at the Tel al-Za'atar refugee camp near Beirut (and continues to call the massacre a "cleansing"), is labeled “an extremist Christian group” by the US State Department. The Congressional Research Service labels them an “extremist Maronite militia and terrorist organization.”

The FDD says it believes that "terrorism ...is never justifiable, and must never be condoned or tolerated by civilized peoples." Obviously that's a lie, since two of its senior officers condone terrorists, at the very least. So what do they really want? The degradation of America's relationship with the Muslim world in general and with Saudi Arabia in particular, a strategy they hope will result in a proportionate gain for Israel.

Ismail Royer is an independent researcher based in Washington, DC and Bosnia. He is former Communications Specialist for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), where he worked in research, media relations, and civil rights. He served as Washington Bureau Chief for the on-line news site iviews.com and has worked with refugees in the Balkans and the United States.

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