Lost from Lebanon
The case of Brigitte Gabriel, anti-Muslim bigot and pro-Israel apologist, highlights the indignity of those that celebrate military aggression against ordinary civilians, writes Franklin Lamb*
Click to view caption|
These photos, taken during the Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006, corroborate what the text highlights that it is the civilian population that suffers the most at times of war. The innocent bystanders are the victims who pay the most terrible price
"The difference, my dear Christian friends, between Israel and the Arab world is quite simply the difference between civilisation and barbarism. It's the difference between good and evil and this is what we're witnessing in the Arab and Islamic world. I am angry. They have no soul! They are dead set on killing and destruction. And in the name of something they call 'Allah', which is very different from the God we believe in, because our God is the God of love." -- Brigitte Gabriel , speaking at John Hagee's Christians United for Israel Convention, 27 July 2007
"A strong person is not the person who throws his adversaries to the ground. A strong person is the person who contains himself when he is angry." -- the Prophet Mohamed, peace be upon him
One imagines that all Americans and people from every part of the globe and of sundry faiths would be touched emotionally upon encountering the natural beauty of the northern Biblical Holy Land that is South Lebanon. With its rugged vegetation-covered hills and valleys and more than 500 picturesque villages, many quite ancient and populated by warm, devout and peaceful people, the area is hypnotic.
So it is for this observer, visiting Marjayoun ("meadow of springs" in Arabic), one of Lebanon's most stunning towns and home of the historic Cathedral of Saint Peter as well as beautiful historic mosques. A lovely, modest, bucolic town of roughly 2,300 residents in winter and 3,500 in summer, Marjayoun sits majestically atop a hill facing Mount Hermon to the east, Beaufort Castle -- the 1,000-year-old Crusader castle above the Litani River -- and overlooking Mount Amel ( Jabal Amel ) to the west. Marjayoun's fertile plains, some of the richest in the region, extend southward into the Galilee and Syria's Golan Heights.
Shia and Sunni Muslims, Greek Orthodox and Maronite Christians, and Greek Catholics had lived in Marjayoun, mainly in peace, for more than 10 centuries until the invading Israeli forces in 1978 installed near the town centre their proxy militia, the so-called South Lebanon Army (SLA). The SLA and the Israeli army quickly constructed the notorious regional detention centre just down the road at Khiam, where systematic torture has been documented by many human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, until its 25 May 2000 storming and liberation by townspeople. Israel and its proxy army stayed in Marjayoun for nearly a quarter-century and as various local resistance forces rose to confront the occupation and the Israeli-funded (via US taxpayers) Saad Haddad/Antoine Lahad militia, Marjayoun, like scores of other villages, suffered from the fighting.
Marjayoun's most recent tragedy occurred on 11 August 2006, when Israeli forces took control of the town, following the announcement by the UN ceasefire agreement. Israel gave the UN and the Red Cross permission to evacuate a convoy of 3,000 people huddled in the town, providing a map of which exact roads they were to use and repeatedly guaranteeing safe passage to the terrified evacuees. Despite this, the Red Cross/UN convoy was targeted after dark by an Israeli air strike at Joub Jannine, killing eight and wounding 37, most of whom were Christian.
The convoy attack was the 12th such strike during the 33 days conflict for which Israel exonerated itself, stating that its air force "erred" owing to erroneous targeting data, while expressing regret in the wake of too-short-lived international outrage.
Despite its frequent problem with "targeting errors", Israel's air force earned the highest praise and commendation from last month's Winograd Commission Report for "its outstanding success, service and bravery" during the July 2006 war. This "finding" was based on the fact that Israel's air force suffered practically no casualties in its indiscriminate bombing campaign, which was conducted with American aircraft firing from an altitude of around 15,000- 20,000, and sometimes 25,000, feet and at a distance of as much as 10 miles from most of its 1,100 plus civilian victims, nearly one-third of whom were children.
The commission credited the coldness of what Colonel Dan Smith described as "a rational, cost effective, calculated, uninvolved, 'sanitised' unemotional killing of other humans from a far distance over the rather more unstable frenzy that requires facing an enemy close up which is considerably more dangerous for Israel's military."
Amnesty International has criticised the Winograd Commission Report because it fails to address the issue of war crimes against the civilian population in Lebanon, and "the indiscriminate killings of many Lebanese civilians not involved in the hostilities and the deliberate and wanton destruction of civilian properties and infrastructure on a massive scale."
In whitewashing Israel's killing of more than 1,100 innocent civilians, Winograd missed "another opportunity to address the policies and decisions behind the grave violations of international humanitarian law -- including war crimes -- committed by Israeli forces," said Amnesty's Middle East and North Africa Programme director, Malcolm Smart.
Yoav Peled, professor of political science at Tel Aviv University, shares Amnesty's criticism of the report. "The commission performed its expected role: to whitewash the disaster and get the politicians off the hook," he said following the release of the report.
THE BIGOT OF MARJAYOUN: Marjayoun has become notorious recently, in some circles, not just for decades of Israeli crimes, but also as the base from whence Miss Brigitte Gabriel, a local woman, appeared and launched a virulent strain of Islamophobia. Joining with the US- Israel lobby, she has been organising perhaps the most vicious hate campaign against Islam, Arabs and Muslims ever witnessed in America.
There is no shortage of people in Marjayoun with varying views of "what happened to Miss Brigitte" and how she became so hateful towards her countrymen and became an Israeli collaborator. "She always loved the Israeli occupation of Marjayoun and over time just came to dislike Arabs of all types, even though as a Lebanese she is totally Arab," one of her former neighbours explained.
Another disagreed, "Brigitte never really thought of herself as an Arab at all; rather she fantasised that she was 'Phoenician' and pointed out to her Arabs neighbours that 'Phoenicians were in Lebanon long before the Arabs invaded and it belongs to us!'" According to a former classmate, when she was in middle school, Brigitte preferred French and would announce to classmates in Arabic class, "I don't speak Arabic, I speak Lebanese!"
Before moving to Israel and eventually to the United States, Brigitte worked for Middle East TV, a Marjayoun-based station run by the SLA and funded by Israel. It moved to Cyprus for a period and was later purchased by Pat Robertson, who is now building a Christian Zionism Centre in Israel. After obtaining a green card by marrying an American, Brigitte set up a business selling her new country "insider information not available elsewhere" about the existential dangers posed by Islam and Arabs, based, she announced, "on my unique perspective having been nearly killed by them and rescued by Israel."
Regarding recent Lebanese affairs, according to her former neighbours in South Lebanon, Brigitte has been a close supporter of the Phalange militia and SLA since her teenage years. According to her office in Virginia Beach, Brigitte hopes to host Lebanese Forces warlord Samir Geagea -- five times convicted of murdering various Christian opponents and their children -- during his upcoming March visit to the US.
Previously denied a US visa following convictions for murder, Geagea has been forgiven by the US Embassy in Beirut and he will spend much of March discussing military aid to Lebanon and subjects of mutual interest to the Bush administration, Israel, and the Lebanese Forces.
CELEBRATION OF DESTRUCTION: One can forget about Israel's brutal military occupation of Palestine, the Bush administration's invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and its threatening of much of the world. Brigitte sees a jihadist campaign against her adopted country going back to the very day America was founded. While Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and George Washington and James Madison considered the Barbary pirates, who had operated for centuries along the coasts of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, "nothing but petty tyrants" and "nests of banditti", Brigitte knows better.
In her view, the founding fathers were duped because the Muslim pirates were in fact serious jihadists using a promise in the Quran of paradise and virgins if they warred against infidels, and so they became pirates. Nor is Brigitte, who lives not far from Monticello, Jefferson's birthplace, impressed by Jefferson's liberal views about religion: "Where the preamble [to the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom] declares that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment that was proposed for the insertion of the words 'Jesus Christ' into the preamble was specifically rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammadan, the Hindu, and Infidel of every denomination."
Jefferson might have had people like Brigitte in mind when he wrote: "But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are 20 gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." While religious tolerance did not pick Jefferson's pocket, the same legacy is filling Brigitte's as she panders to the uninformed, the bigoted, and the xenophobic.
Brigitte attracted the attention of this observer, who previously had not heard of her, when she posted her July 2006 'Thank You Israel!' letter expressing "heartfelt gratitude" for Israel's attack on Lebanon. According to a former colleague of hers, this was drafted in Virginia Beach while working on her suntan in a period during which much of her country of birth was being destroyed. Having arrived in Lebanon during the war, this observer was curious as to whether this Lebanese-born woman was somehow unaware of the carnage caused by more than 16,000 Israeli attacks on more than 7,400 targets, whose toll looks like this:
- More than 500 villages destroyed or damaged.
- 30,000 private homes totally destroyed.
- 32,000 homes with major damage.
- 70,000 homes with minor damage.
- 137 bridges and overpasses bombed.
- 26 fuel stations and three main fuel-storage tanks destroyed.
- 950 large businesses and 2,800 smaller ones obliterated.
- 23 large factories -- milk and candy producers among them -- destroyed.
- 330 main and secondary water distribution networks bombed.
- 186 purification, chlorination, storage and pumping stations bombed.
- 150 electrical transformers bombed.
- 50 healthcare facilities destroyed or severely damaged.
- 150 kilometres of coastline contaminated with oil.
- 350 schools damaged or destroyed.
- 950,000 of Brigitte's countrymen displaced.
- Almost 1,450 killed and 4,500 wounded.
- And, according to Amnesty International, as many as 40 people, including 27 civilians and 13 de-mining personnel, killed by Israeli-fired cluster munitions since the end of the war, with more than 240 injured.
WHAT BRIGITTE REALLY THINKS: Perhaps a good way to help inform ourselves about Brigitte's current views and concerns is to consider excerpts from her speeches and Act for America website ( actforamerica.org ) culled over recent months.
- "Thank you Israel!" Brigitte proclaimed in an open letter. "We urge you to hit Lebanon hard and destroy Hizbullah's infrastructure ... On behalf of thousands of Lebanese, we also ask you to open the doors of Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Airport to thousands of volunteers in the [Lebanese] Diaspora willing to bear arms and liberate their homeland from [Islamic] fundamentalism."
- "As I watch what is happening in Lebanon, it is absolutely necessary to support Israel to kill the cancer that has spread and is killing the Lebanese body. Israel is not targeting civilians. Israel is targeting terrorists. Israel has launched 3,000 air strikes on Lebanon since the beginning of the operation and inflicted only 122 casualties. If Israel's intention were to kill civilians you would have seen many more civilian deaths than only 122. That is nothing. They are being extremely careful, even dropping flyers and urging civilians to leave before they bomb. No country meets Israel's high standards and Purity of Arms. These 'civilian casualties' are terrorists and terrorist families and terrorist sympathisers. Terrorists, terrorists, terrorists!"
- "I am speaking with the Lebanese Christians in Lebanon and they are all fine. Israel is not bombing them or their towns. Israel is bombing the Shia radical strongholds. This is what the news is not telling you. The airport was used to bring support to Hizbullah and that's why Israel bombed the infrastructure. It is also in Lebanon, in Hizbullah, where terrorists are developing the roadside bombs used on our marines and soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those same terrorists have cells in America and are ready to unleash suicide bombing here in America within the hour if ordered to do so." (CNN, 18 July 2006)
- "Most Americans in Lebanon support Hizbullah and US taxpayer money should not be used to help them return home."
- Brigitte regularly complains to her audiences that: "Hizbullah's Shia extremists began multiplying like rabbits and are out-producing moderate Sunnis and Christians. Twenty-five years later they have produced enough people to vote themselves into 24 seats in the Lebanese parliament and now are a majority in Lebanon. Hamas is doing the same thing with the Palestinians as part of their 'resistance to occupation.' Yes, sex for them is simply a form of jihad. It all boils down to a war of Islamic Jihad ideology vs Judeo-Christian Westernism wherein our men are too stressed to do it much anymore. Muslims, who are now the majority of Lebanon's population, support Hizbullah because they are part of the Islamic umma -- the nation. Sex as jihad is the taboo subject everyone is trying to avoid but it needs to be exposed for what it really is. This is the same Hizbullah that Iran is threatening to unleash in America with suicide bomb attacks if America tries to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon to bomb Israel. They have cells in over 100 cities in the United States. Hamas has the largest terrorist infrastructure on American soil. This is what happens when you turn a blind eye to evil for decades, hoping it will go away."
ISLAMOPHOBIA AND FEAR MONGERING: When asked for a source for her claims, Brigitte's Virginia Beach office replied: "It's common sense! Why can't you grasp that?"
Brigitte spoke as part of a lecture series organised by Duke University's Jewish community to provide "counter-programming" after the fourth Palestinian Solidarity Movement student conference was held there in October 2004. She angered many members of the crowd when she referred to Arabs as "barbarians" and Duke's Freeman Centre for Jewish Life later apologised for her comments. Recently Brigitte has been telling audiences about a Des Moines, Iowa, imam who not long ago offered the prayer to open the Iowa legislature. In this prayer the cleric made a plea for "victory over those who disbelieve", i.e., those who are atheists. That John Hagee and his ilk along with countless rabbis say the same thing every day does not appear to have dawned on Brigitte.
While reassuring her audiences "that Islamic terrorism is, of course, a serious, global threat that we must -- repeat, must -- defeat," Brigitte has recently been seeing another dark penumbra on the horizon: "But there is another threat to our safety, security and liberty that we must also defeat, and that is the increasing threat of cultural, social and civilisation jihad aided by the forces of American political correctness." She continues: "I am very troubled that in the name of tolerance and educating American children about the Muslim empire in history, liberal American teachers get away with giving [the] beginnings [of] Islamic teaching which may cause many to perhaps one day become Muslims. We have reports that in some classes teachers are allowing students to use calligraphy to copy parts of the Quran in Arabic as an enrichment activity. This has got to stop!"
Brigitte adds: "I am very concerned with books like History Alive! The Medieval World and Beyond, published by the pro-Muslim Teachers' Curriculum Institute (TCI) in California. The upsetting part is not only do they go into the real history, which is OK, but they also teach Islam ... Moreover, the book's one page referencing Jews is only to convey that they were tortured by Crusaders to get them to convert to Christianity. It fails to mention that the biggest persecutors of Jews throughout history -- and still today -- are Arab and Muslims. It gives four only one-liner references to the Jews being wrongly blamed for the plagues and problems in the land. How can the writers of this text get away with this?"
Bert Bower, founder of TCI, said not only did his company have experts review the book, but the state of California and many experts in California also reviewed it, and have approved it for use in public schools.
Undeterred, Brigitte tells whoever will listen: "Political Islam has annihilated every culture it has invaded or immigrated to. The total time for annihilation takes centuries, but once Islam is ascendant it never fails. The host culture disappears and becomes extinct." And concluding, Brigitte has a message of duty and consequence: "We, as patriotic Americans must be willing to give up more liberties in this time of war against Islam -- non-Muslims are not frustrated by time- consuming, privacy-invading airport screenings, phone monitoring, surveillance, and other measures; only Muslims are affected by it, because they are the ones doing all the terrorism!"
440 MILLION TERRORISTS: Brigitte sees another danger: "I believe that the way Sharia will insinuate itself into our law would be through arbitration and mediation of domestic and financial disputes through an extra-judicial arbitration system condoned by our courts. That would entail setting up a separate Sharia law section of the American Arbitration Association overseen by Islamic law panels. Many agree with me, and this should be a warning to all about how Sharia will spread through the proverbial legal back door."
Brigitte urges Americans not to allow mosques to be built and suggests that if citizens observe one being constructed, it should be immediately reported to the FBI. Brigitte has joined Daniel Pipes and the thought policing and silencing actions of America Israel Political Affairs Committee and its Zionist affiliates and instructs students that, "if a college professor or public figure criticises US policies you have a patriotic duty to report this un-American activity to [your] dean, or alert the media and authorities."
During her talk at a Hillel House-arranged event, and without giving a source, Brigitte claimed that up to 25 per cent of the world's 1.5 billion Muslims are "radicals who have their eyes against the West, and are willing to become suicide bombers like Mohamed Atta."
One unconvinced young lady in the audience interrupted: "Holy cow, Brigitte, that's roughly, ah let me see... ah... 440 million Muslims suicide bombers coming after us! Could you help us just a little bit with a source for your claim when you get a chance?" Brigitte glared and refused to continue her talk until the hilarity that broke out among the audience subsided.
And then this: "We used to think Al-Qaeda the only problem; [that] Al-Qaeda is the only terrorist organisation that is causing problems for the rest of us. Well, I am telling you that way of thinking needs to be changed because Al-Qaeda is an umbrella organisation where many different organisations come underneath it, such as Hamas, such as Hizbullah, such as Fatah ... many different people that share the same ideology, and that is Islamofascism, have their eyes on the West."
That practically every schoolchild in Lebanon knows that Shia Hizbullah and Sunni Salafist Al-Qaeda are mortal enemies, with Hizbullah protecting UNIFIL's back from Al-Qaeda-inspired groups in South Lebanon is either lost on Brigitte or purposely concealed.
For her Valentine's Day message last month, Brigitte warns that, "we must start doing more than exposing or resisting the advances of Islamofascism -- we must go on the offensive to roll it back and fight for the bedrock values that made America the beacon of hope to the world... The only real question is: do we have the will to do what is necessary to stop Islamofascism, in whatever form it takes? Because, simply put, if we do, we will. If we don't, we won't. That's it. Bottom line."
Meanwhile, Brigitte exhibits little hesitancy in boldly lying to her audiences when pressed with inconvenient questions. For example, she is prominently displayed as a member of an arm of the Israeli propaganda ministry known as the Hasbara Fellowship Speakers Bureau, from whom she gets lucrative speaking engagements. Her photo appears just above the pictures of Dori Gold and Caroline Glick, well known Arab-phobes. However, during the question and answer session of a recent talk at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia, she was apparently not prepared to be so easily and thoroughly exposed as a Zionist shill whose main loyalty is to Israel:
Gabriel: You cannot trust having a Muslim in office when he has to make a decision to either be loyal to the United States or be loyal to Islam.
Audience member: Maam, thank you. I'd like to point out that I'm an American soldier and practising Muslim, served the US Army for the past 19 years very proudly [a rebuttal to your previous point] ... Two questions: Are you a member of Hasbara Fellowship?
Gabriel: What's Hasbara Fellowship?
Audience member: A fellowship in Israel. [An] organisation ...
Gabriel: No. No.
LOOSE WITH THE TRUTH: Brigitte's writings and speeches are full of historical errors, including her recent statement that, "the world protected the Palestinians after the Palestine Liberation Organisaton [PLO] left from Lebanon in 1983," (she probably meant 1982 when the PLO evacuated Beirut only after repeated pledges by the US and Israel that Palestinian refugee camps would be protected). She denies that the pledges were not kept and that Israel organised the 16-18 September 1982 massacre at the Sabra-Shatila camp. She claims it has never been proven who caused "that greatly exaggerated incident, and we may never know. Muslims are always killing each other. Like, what's new, that is all they know."
Brigitte's book, Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America claims she spent 10 years in a bomb shelter until rescued by the Israeli army. Recently, she mentioned it was actually seven years. In a February 2008 update on her website, she writes: "As many of you know, I have a unique perspective on the threat we face. I lived for seven years in a bomb shelter in my home in Lebanon. I am a victim of Islamic terror. Most of my friends were killed by Islamic militants. I watched helplessly as we lost our beautiful country to radical Islam -- I am determined that nothing even approaching that tragedy happens to my adopted country."
Brigitte used to tell her audiences that Hizbullah was the group that terrorised her family for seven years, between 1975 and 1982, until people started to object pointing out that Hizbullah was formed after she left Lebanon with Israeli escorts following their 1982 invasion. Hizbullah was created as a resistance movement as a direct result of -- and to confront -- the Israeli occupation until it drove Israel from most of Lebanon by May of 2000. By then Brigitte was long gone and had never crossed paths with Hizbullah.
Her former neighbours in Marjayoun say she may have spent a few nights in her home's shelter at times, or more likely in her basement, as did many in Marjayoun, but to their knowledge Brigitte lived fairly normally in her family home, given "the situation" of the Israeli occupation.
BANKROLLING BIGOTRY: There can be little doubt that Brigitte Gabriel is on a rich roll with the Israeli lobby and various Zionist organisations as she spews anti-Arab and anti- Muslim venom, the likes of which America has never witnessed.
The Act for America and American Congress for Truth (ACT) sites packages its hate and scare tactics much like Ann Coulter and the right-wing anti-Islam Human Events website. According to Campus Watch, Brigitte is modelling her career after Ann Coulter, but she wants to specialise not in simply harassing "liberals" but to go after "real terrorists."
Claiming chapters for her ACT advocacy group in all 50 states and Israel, as well as affiliates in many countries, Gabriel is in the process of "going international". As part of her move to Europe, last month she reached out to endorse Susanne Winter, the extreme right-wing Austrian politician with the Freedom Party running for a city council seat in the city of Graz. Winter blasted Muslims a few weeks ago saying that "in today's system" the Prophet Mohamed would be considered a dirty "child molester", and that "child abuse is very common among Muslim men."
"In 20 or 30 years," she warned in an interview with the daily Osterreich, "half of Austria's population would be Muslim." Winter claims it is time that Islam was "thrown back out of Europe behind the Mediterranean," and alleges Mohamed wrote the Quran during "epileptic fits".
While Austrian prosecutors are looking into the possibility of filing charges against Winter for incitement, Gabriel heaps praise on her from across the Atlantic. On 12 February 2008, Brigitte e-mailed her subscribers what "may be the most important message I have ever e-mailed to you." She had decided to up the ante in order to maintain her position as the true Joan of Arc of the forces to liberate America from what God told her are the "Islamofascists".
INTRA-ZIONIST WARS: In addition to divine motivation, Brigitte has earthly concerns. Some of her friends are telling her that her "message" is getting stale from overuse and that many of her "facts" are being refuted (eg. Hizbullah bombed her house, when in fact the modest damage occurred before Hizbullah was formed in the area and those who shelled her house were likely either Israeli artillery personnel or their proxy Christian militia). Moreover, Brigitte's lucrative market share with her creators and benefactors in the Israel lobby is under threat.
New young-guns on the street corner who she claims are encroaching hustlers and phonies are giving Brigitte sleepless nights. The subjects of her wrath, who publicly she praises as "colleagues and kindred spirits", are Walid Shoebat, Kamal Saleem and Zachariah Anani, whom journalist Chris Hedges, author of War is a Force that Gives us Meaning, refers to as Curly, Larry and Mo -- the three stooges.
Brigitte is livid! "Not only are these creeps Arabs, but two of them are Palestinians!" she explained to ACT staff during her appearance at the Christians United for Israel Conference in Washington, DC. And they are trespassing far too often into her private space, which primarily includes right-wing Christian audiences, Zionist gatherings, and American audiences with little knowledge of Islam, the Middle East, or the question of Palestine.
Proving Brigitte's claim that you can never trust an Arab ("Never! Never! Never!" she often adds for emphasis), these sneaky fellows have been ratcheting up their rants to get speaking engagements, some of which may have otherwise gone to Brigitte, and one of them is now telling audiences, according to Hedges, "that the only way to deal with one-fifth of the world's population is by converting or eradicating all Muslims."
Shoebat, author of Why We Want to Kill You, recently chortled, "let the spoiled brat from South Lebanon top that!" following an appearance on Tovia Singer's radio show.
For his part, Shoebat, notes Hedges, also promises to explain in 2008 the many similarities between radical Muslims and the Nazis, and how "Muslim terrorists" invaded America 30 years ago and how "perseverance, recruitment and hate have fuelled attacks by Muslims."
The way Brigitte sees it, according to a former colleague at ACT, she has got to "refresh" her own niche because too many others are homing in and crowding the Islamic terrorism/ Islamofascism market. Brigitte has been running out of fresh material for her website and speeches. She has recently complained to friends that only a few months ago no fewer than 11 of the candidates for US president were trying to scare up votes using her Islamofascism material. Remember Giuliani, Richardson, Thompson, and the still running McCain ("the greatest threat facing the world is Islamic terrorism"), Clinton and Huckabee ("Islamofascism is the greatest threat this country has ever faced")?
A gifted if crude businesswoman, Brigitte knows a crowded market when she sees one and has recently increased her market share by moving into the Daniel Pipes Campus Watch territory, mining the juicy resources of colleges, religious institutions, state legislatures, and government agencies -- all the time endearing herself to the Israel lobby by tracking down supposed Islamofascists.
BANGING THE DRUM FOR CASH: In a recent post on actforamerica.org, Brigitte poses a question to would-be donors: "Do you want to see terrorists detonate weapons of mass destruction in America, killing tens of thousands of our people, destabilising our government and plunging our economy into a deep recession?... We are preparing to launch a series of projects that, combined together, will put us on the offensive against the infiltration of militant Islam in America in a way that no other organisation has ventured to even try... I'm asking you to make a choice, take action, make a contribution, and help us do what needs to be done. We are prepared to launch this offensive -- but we can't do it without your financial help."
The following wish list is truncated:
- Commission a nationwide public opinion poll to assess voter opinion regarding these proposals, as well as other issues relating to the advance of militant Islam. Cost: $40,000.
- Prepare a legislative agenda that we will take to our allies in Congress. Travel expenses and related costs: $5,000.
- We have identified a powerful way to disrupt the communication, training and recruitment of terrorists. We want to announce this on a nationwide telephone town hall by 15 March, with a goal of at least 2,500 of you participating. Cost for the telephone town hall: $3,000.
- Educate and mobilise one million Americans... we can reach these Americans through a database of e-mail addresses that will cost us a minuscule fraction compared to what mail and telephone canvassing costs. Cost of this nationwide education and mobilisation programme: $100,000.
- To lobby Congress for our legislative agenda and achieve victory in the project described above, we have just printed 40,000 full-colour glossy informational brochures to ship to our chapter leaders for them to distribute... By 15 April we would like to print 150,000 more of these brochures. Cost: $17,500.
Congressional voting record research
- We are poised to commission an extensive research study of the voting records of members of the US House of Representatives and the Senate on issues relating to national security, terrorism, and the advance of Islamofascism ... The total cost for these programmes is $195,500. I know that sounds like a lot of money -- But if you think about it, it's a small price to pay for us to start rolling back the tide of Islamofascism...
BRIGITTE'S LEGAL TROUBLES: As Brigitte tallies her donations, she is facing a much more serious problem than three unconvincing Christian convert upstarts trying to crowd her marketplace of hate speech. She is facing the application of US libel laws with the distinct prospect of spending a lot of time in courtrooms in the coming years explaining to American juries why her patently malicious and false writings and rantings should be protected speech under American law.
Indeed, Brigitte has opened herself up to countless libel suits by her outrageously false and malicious statements and actions aimed at inciting hostility against Arabs and Muslims as well as their supporters in America. While Islamophobes like Eric Cantor and Tom Tancredo are said to adore her, some in Congress are pulling back and counselling Brigitte to "cool it a bit".
According to one source at ACT, who insists on anonymity because Brigitte "can be a little vindictive", Brigitte has been distressed about this problem for more than a year, especially since her new book is being delayed by the same New York publisher, St Martin's Press, who issued her first book, and she is counting on the fire in this book to restore her number one ranking in the war against "American Islamofascism".
Her editor has told her that the publisher is nervous about the possibility of a raft of lawsuits for defamation and that it's potentially a big problem. A natural at "legislative solutions", Brigitte contemplates a Congressional race in 2010. "Not to worry," Brigitte cheerily explained following a huddle with some of her advisors, "the solution was right in front of our noses all the time. Duh. We must change the law!" ACT's office manager replied, "no problem."
Along the same lines, supporters of Israel have done Brigitte and her publisher a huge favour when they had Assemblyman Lancman and Senator Skelos introduce into the New York State Legislature just what the doctor ordered. It is called the "Libel Terrorism Protection Act". According to Brigitte's website, act is as important as it is simple -- "protect New York authors like me and publishers from lawsuits filed in foreign court jurisdictions that are intended to intimidate and silence exposure of terrorism and enablers of terrorism." On her 8 February 2008, posting, Brigitte claims that, "our cherished rights of free speech and press are under assault by libel terrorism."
Moving forward, Brigitte has begun circulating a petition to pressure Albany lawmakers to approve the measure. As of 15 February, she claimed 6,500 signatures but writes, "it would be so great to get 10,000 by 5 March."
If "Brigitte's law" passes in New York, it is a done deal that the likes of Representatives Rita Lowery and Anthony Weiner will introduce it in Congress and try to make the law national.
WHAT'S NEXT? Preaching her repugnant idea of patriotism and American values, while condemning nearly 20 per cent of humanity as subhuman, Brigitte Gabriel appears oblivious to the fact that she is among the last people who should be lecturing America on subjects such as patriotism and loyalty to one's country given her collaboration with Israel during and since its occupation of Lebanon.
If anyone is a terrorist sympathiser -- if anyone is disloyal to her country for religious or ideological reasons -- surely it is Brigitte Gabriel, the dark maid from Marjayoun.
Her former neighbours could be forgiven for thinking that perhaps she suffers from a virulent form of Stockholm Syndrome wherein she identifies with and supports decades of Israeli terrorism against her country, her people, and her religion.
Her message of hate, ridicule, and incitement to action against Islam is akin to shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theatre, and constitutes egregious and contemptible hate speech. Her rants are fundamentally un-American, un-Lebanese, and un-Christian. Her campaign should be vigorously rejected by all people of goodwill, including those seeking explanations and solutions for the consequences of catastrophic Bush administration Middle East policy, which has caused so much death, destruction and desperation across the region.
* The writer is director of Americans Concerned for Middle East Peace, Washington, DC-Beirut, and is senior fellow at the Institute for Middle East Policy Dialogue. A version of this article was first published on PalestineChronicle.com.