Sunday, August 22, 2010
No say it is not so - It can't be - No- No way- Obama officials' ties to Ground Zero imam Adviser discussed with Rauf U.S. as 'ideal place for renewal
With President Obama igniting political controversy by commenting on the right of American Muslims to build an Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero, it is worth noting the close ties of several Obama administration officials to the cleric behind the proposed project.
The ties include a religion adviser to Obama, Eboo Patel, who discussed with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf – the controversial Muslim leader behind the mosque initiative – America as "the ideal place for a renewal of Islam."
Also, a scholar and charity head appointed to Obama's White House Fellowships Commission, Vartan Gregorian, wants to bring the imam's organization into a proposed Ground Zero museum to ensure it will represent the voices of American Muslims.
In February, Obama named Patel, a Chicago Muslim, to his Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Patel is the founder and executive director of Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core, which says it promotes pluralism by teaming people of different faiths on service projects.
Rauf wrote the afterword to Patel's 2006 book, "Building the Interfaith Youth Movement: Beyond Dialogue to Action."
Patel is listed as one of 15 "Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow" on the website for the American Society for Muslim Advancement, which is led by Rauf.
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In Patel's 2007 book, "Saving Each Other, Saving Ourselves," he recounts discussing with Rauf the future of Islam in the U.S.
Rauf "understood the vision immediately and suggested that I visit him and his wife, Daisy Khan, at their home the following evening," Patel recalled.
Khan founded the society with her husband and has aided him in his plans for the mosque near Ground Zero.
"The living room of their apartment on the Upper West Side was set up like a mosque, with prayer rugs stretched from wall to wall," wrote Patel in his book.
I arrived at dusk, prayed the maghrib prayer with Daisy and Imam Feisal and then talked with them about how America, with its unique combination of religious devotion and religious diversity, was the ideal place for a renewal of Islam.
"In the twentieth century, Catholicism and Judaism underwent profound transformations in America," Rauf observed. "I think, this century, in America, Islam will do the same."
Patel boasts of a "critical mass" of Muslims in the U.S.
"Islam is a religion that has always been revitalized by its migration," he wrote. "America is a nation that has been constantly rejuvenated by immigrants. There is now a critical mass of Muslims in America."
Patel last March wrote a Huffington Post piece referring to Obama's former "green jobs" czar Van Jones as a "faith hero."
"In my last post on Van, I called him an American patriot," wrote Patel. "That is high praise in my book. But watching Van's speech at the NAACP, I have another title for him, one that I reserve for the true giants of history. Van Jones is a faith hero." Jones resigned in September after it was exposed he founded a communist revolutionary organization and signed a statement that accused the Bush administration of possible involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks. Jones also called for "resistance" against the U.S.
Jones previously stated his advocacy for green jobs was part of a broader movement to destroy the U.S. capitalist system.
WND reported that one day after the Sept. 11 attacks, Jones led a vigil that expressed solidarity with Arab and Muslim Americans as well as what he called the victims of "U.S. imperialism" around the world.
Meanwhile, another Obama official with ties to Rauf is Gregorian, the president of Carnegie Corp. charitable foundation who was appointed by Obama last year as a White House fellow.
Documentation shows Gregorian was central in William Ayers' recruitment of Obama to serve as the first chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge – a job in which Obama worked closely on a regular basis with Ayers, a co-founder of the Weather Underground domestic terrorist group.
Obama also later touted his job at the project as qualifying him to run for public office, as WND previously reported.
Born in Tabriz, Iran, Gregorian served for eight years as president of the New York Public Library and was also president of Brown University.
In his role as Brown president, Gregorian served on the selection committee of the Annenberg Foundation, which funded Ayers' Chicago Annenberg Challenge with a $49.2 million, 2-to-1 matching challenge grant over five years. Ayers was one of five founding members of the Challenge who wrote to the Annenberg Foundation for the initial funding.
Steve Diamond, a political-science and law professor and a blogger who has posted on Obama, previously posted a letter from Nov. 18, 1994, in which Gregorian, serving as the point man on Annenberg's selection committee, asked Ayers to "compose the governing board" of the Challenge's collaborative project with "people who reflect the racial and ethnic diversity of Chicago."
Ayers and other founding Challenge members then recruited Obama to serve as the project chairman.
WND was first to expose that Obama and Ayers used the project grant money to fund organizations run by radicals tied to Ayers, including Mike Klonsky, a former top communist activist who was a senior leader in the Students for a Democratic Society group, a major leftist student organization in the 1960s, from which the Weathermen terror group later splintered.
National Review Online writer Stanley Kurtz examined the project archives housed at the Richard J. Daley Library at the University of Illinois at Chicago, finding Obama and Ayers worked closely at the project.
The documents obtained by Kurtz showed Ayers served as an ex-officio member of the board that Obama chaired through the project's first year. Ayers also served on the board's governance committee with Obama and worked with him to craft project bylaws, according to the documents.
Ayers made presentations to board meetings chaired by Obama. Ayers also spoke for the Chicago School Reform Collaborative before Obama's board, while Obama periodically spoke for the board at meetings of the collaborative, the project documents reviewed by Kurtz show.
WND reported Obama and Ayers also served together on the board of the Woods Fund, a liberal Chicago nonprofit that granted money to far-left causes.
One of the groups funded by the Woods Fund was the Midwest Academy, an activist organization modeled after Marxist community organizer Saul Alinsky and described as teaching tactics of direct action, confrontation and intimidation.
WND reported Jackie Kendall, executive director of the Midwest Academy, was on the team that developed and delivered the first Camp Obama training for volunteers aiding Obama's campaign through the 2008 Iowa Caucuses.
Camp Obama was a two- to four-day intensive course run in conjunction with Obama's campaign aimed at training volunteers to become activists to help Obama win the presidential election.
Obama scholar linked to 'Ground Zero' imam
Gregorian is closely tied to Rauf. Gregorian also serves on the board of the Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum. The museum is reportedly working with the American Society for Muslim Advancement, whose leaders are behind the mosque, to ensure the future museum will represent the voices of American Muslims.
"[The Sept. 11 museum will represent the] voices of American Muslims in particular, and it will honor members of other communities who came together in support and collaboration with the Muslim community on September 11 and its aftermath," stated Daisy Khan, executive director of the society.
The future Sept. 11 museum's oral historian, Jenny Pachucki, is collaborating with the society to ensure the perspective of American Muslims is woven into the overall experience of the museum, according to the museum's blog.
Khan's husband, Rauf, is the founder of the society as well as chairman of Cordoba Initiative, which is behind the proposed mosque to be built about two blocks from Ground Zero.
With Gregorian at its helm, Carnegie Corp. is at the top of the list of society supporters on the Islamic group's website.
Carnegie is also listed as a funder of both of the society's partner organizations, Search for Common Ground and the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations. Gregorian was a participant in the U.N. body's first forum, as was Rauf.
Rauf is vice chairman on the board of the Interfaith Center of New York, which honored Gregorian at an awards dinner in 2008.
Rauf, meanwhile, has caused a stir with his proposed $100 million, 13-story Islamic cultural center and mosque near the corner of Park Place and West Broadway.
Rauf sparked controversy when he refused during a live radio interview to condemn violent jihad groups as terrorists. Rauf repeatedly refused on the air to affirm the U.S. designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization or call the Muslim Brotherhood extremists.
The Brotherhood openly seeks to spread Islam around the world, while Hamas is committed to Israel's destruction and is responsible for scores of suicide bombings, shootings and rocket attacks aimed at Jewish civilian population centers.
During the interview, Rauf was also asked who he believes was responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks.
"There's no doubt," stated Rauf. "The general perception all over the world was it was created by people who were sympathetic to Osama bin Laden. Whether they were part of the killer group or not, these are details that need to be left to the law-enforcement experts."
Rauf has been on record several times blaming U.S. policies for the Sept. 11 attacks. He has been quoted refusing to admit Muslims carried out the attacks.
Referring to the Sept. 11 attacks, Rauf told CNN, "U.S. policies were an accessory to the crime that happened. We (the U.S.) have been an accessory to a lot of innocent lives dying in the world. Osama bin Laden was made in the USA."
Madeline Brooks, a reporter who attended a sermon this year by Rauf, quoted the Islamic leader as stating "some people say it was Muslims who attacked on Sept. 11."
Rauf's 2004 book had two different titles, one in English and the second in Arabic. In the U.S., his book was called "What's right with America is what's right with Islam."
The same book, published in Arabic, bore the name "The Call From the WTC Rubble: Islamic Da'wah From the Heart of America Post–Sept. 11."
Da'wah, an Arabic term, refers to the preaching of Islam, or, literally, "inviting to the way of submission and surrender to Allah."