We have filed a free-speech lawsuit against the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority, or SEPTA, for refusing to run our ad calling attention to Islamic Jew-hatred on buses in Philadelphia.
We are suing, of course, on First Amendment grounds. SEPTA has just filed its opposition to our motion for a preliminary injunction forcing the ads to be put, including a declaration from an “expert,” Jamal J. Elias, a humanities professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who says our ad is simply false. In fact, it is his claims about our ad that are false, while our ad is entirely accurate.
But even so, this is incredible. Now the government is taking sides, and rejecting our ad because it claims it contains false statements. Does it similarly vet every advertiser’s statement about every commercial product that is claimed to give you whiter teeth, fresher breath, your perfect match for life, and any number of other claims? Is the government really going to go into the business of judging the veracity of every claim in every ad it allows to be put up on its buses or in other public advertising spaces?
Of course it isn’t. It is singling out our ad for this treatment because it doesn’t like our point of view. It violates the blasphemy laws under the Shariah. Under Islamic law, you cannot offend or criticize Islam. The government is enforcing the Shariah.
This is exactly what the First Amendment was designed to protect the American people against: the government prohibiting the free expression of one point of view that it opposed. Apparently SEPTA and its lawyers think that it is unlawful to state your opinion publicly if that opinion is out of favor with the political elites, and they want the government to have the authority to determine which opinions are acceptable to be expressed publicly and which aren’t. It sounds as if SEPTA is taking pointers from their predecessors of Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union.
Meanwhile, it is Elias who is actually wrong. Our ad is accurate. Elias claims that our calling the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the “leader of the Muslim world,” is wrong. In 1946 the Arab League appointed al-Husseini chairman of the Arab Higher Committee. The Arab League was founded in Cairo in 1945 by Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Transjordan (Jordan from 1946) and Yemen (North Yemen, later combined Yemen). Is that not the heart of the Muslim world?
The Arab Higher Committee was given the same diplomatic status as the Jewish agency for Palestine in the partition of Israel in 1948. The Mufti al-Husseini was the chairman of the Arab Higher Committee. The political committee of the general assembly of the United Nations, without a dissenting vote, decided to invite the Arab Higher Committee to testify before it on the issue of Israel and the Arab Muslims.
The Mufti was also important enough to play a role in the Third Reich‘s extermination of Jews. SS Hauptsturmfuehrer Dieter Wisliceny, a close collaborator of Adolf Eichmann, testified that “the grand mufti, who had been in Berlin since 1938, played a role in the decision of the German government to exterminate the European Jews the importance of which must not be disregarded. He had repeatedly suggested to the various authorities with whom he had been in contact, above all before Hitler, Ribbentrop and Himmler, the extermination of European Jewry. He considers this as a comfortable solution of the Palestine problem. In his messages broadcast from Berlin, he surpassed us in anti-Jewish attacks. He was one of Eichmann’s best friends and has constantly been cited him to accelerate the extermination measures. I heard say that, accompanied by Eichmann, he has visited incognito the gas chamber it Auschwitz.” The statement referred to in the affidavit was made by Eichmann in his office in Budapest on June 4, 1944; the confirmation by Wisliceny was given some days later also in Budapest.
Further, according to testimony at the Nuremberg trials, “[T]he mufti was a bitter arch enemy of the Jews and had always been the protagonist of the idea of their annihilation. This idea the mufti had always advanced in his conversations with Eichmann.”
Elias also claims: “The commands in the Hebrew Bible regarding the treatment of non-Jews are dramatically harsh, and arguably much more hateful than what one finds in the Qur’an (or the New Testament).”
In reality, the violence in the Quran is prescriptive, while the violence in the Bible is descriptive. That is, any commands to do violence in the Bible are a one-time directive, not a command to all believers in all times and places. And they have ever after been spritualized by interpreters, not used to justify violence. The violence in the Quran is in the form of commands to believers for all time, and mainstream interpreters see the Quran’s violent passages as calls to action in our own day.
But above all, in the context of the First Amendment, Elias’ testimony is absurd. The First Amendment is supposed to prevent the government from taking sides. We are certain to win this one, but if we don’t, this country is in for some very dark times.