Why They Can’t Condemn Hamas
Rauf and his friends employ different methods, but they are on the same team.


Andrew C. McCarthy

Hamas is a shibboleth. If you want to know whether an ostensible Muslim “moderate” is really moderate, ask him if Hamas is a terrorist organization.

It is really not a hard question, even if Feisal Rauf can’t — or won’t — answer it. Rauf, the would-be imam of the controversial Ground Zero mosque, is also a stud in the State Department’s stable of ready-to-travel-on-your-dime “moderates.” That same State Department has branded Hamas a terrorist organization, and we can’t even get it to say that about the Taliban, the guys we’re fighting in the overseas contingency operation formerly known as the War on Terror.

During a WABC radio interview, Aaron Klein three times pressed Rauf to admit that Hamas is a terrorist organization. Rauf bobbed and weaved in classic Islamist style. “I’m not a politician,” he replied, as if only politicians trouble themselves over whether terrorists are terrorists. “I try to avoid the issues. The issue of terrorism is a very complex question.” Avoid the issues? You don’t say!

But it is not a complex question, no more complex than “Does Derek Jeter play for the Yankees?” It is a straightforward question that Islamists complicate with clever casuistry, carefully designed to ring all the right chimes for our opinion elites and their media pitchmen.

On Tuesday, I appeared on Scoreboard, a Fox Business Channel program, to debate the proposed mosque with Dawood Kringle, a prison imam who is a perfect fit for the correctional system in Michael Bloomberg’s New York City. Like the mayor, Imam Kringle knows and admires Imam Rauf, so it’s only natural that he supports the Ground Zero mosque. He reasons, in his best Rauf-speak, that it would be “a tangible manifestation and demonstration of the spiritual principles of Islam as applied to everyone’s lives.”

Exactly: The main problem with Islamists is that they want to apply the principles of Islam — which are far from limited to “spiritual principles” — to everyone’s lives. It never seems to register with Imam Rauf’s apologists that we already have thousands of mosques and Islamic centers in the United States, and no one is suggesting these should be shut down, even though many of them are hotbeds of rabidly anti-Western ideology that have not proved to be reassuring “tangible manifestations” of how Islam is lived.

Nor does it seem to matter that Rauf’s project is an exercise in self-absorbed indignation. Claiming to “build bridges,” Islamists demand that their First Amendment right to religious freedom (which no one has denied) be deferred to while urging that your First Amendment right to free speech be smothered by governmental scolds — including a preening president, a demagogic mayor, and a House Speaker who wants to use her public office to investigate the project’s opponents (i.e., 70 percent of the public). The anticipated “tangible manifestation” in question not only divides a nation still under jihadist siege; it deeply wounds the 9/11 families, the remains of whose slaughtered loved ones are still being retrieved from the vicinity of Ground Zero.

Still, even Kringle’s desultory case for the mosque paled in comparison with his adamant refusal to answer the question, “Is Hamas a terrorist organization?” You can watch the short debate for yourself here. There are long pauses, shucks, jives, and gibberish — but no answer:

Asman: Do you believe Hamas is a terrorist organization?

Kringle: [Pause] I would, um — [pause]

McCarthy: That’s not a hard question.

Asman: [To McCarthy] Hold on a second.

Kringle:  No, no, no. I –

Asman:  Is Hamas a terrorist organization? A simple question.

Kringle: I believe that there’s people, uh, connected with Hamas that are, uh — advocate terrorism –

Asman: Is Hamas, though, a terrorist organization, as the State Department says it is?

Kringle: I believe that the people — that people that, uh, that, uh, exist on the fringe of there — Hamas is a political party that, uh, that grew out of, uh, out of, uh, what happened to, uh, Palestine. Obviously, there’s going to be people that are, uh, that are going to twist up, uh, the religion to serve their political agendas.

This is just counterfactual bunk. It is served up by the imam and many likeminded apologists as though Hamas did not have a richly documented history, and as though Islamists did not reject the very premise that religious and political agendas can be distinguished.