on November 17, 2006
"Now They Call Me Infidel - Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel and the War on Terror" by Nonie Darwish, A Muslim Shahid's Daughter
Nonie Darwish's entrancing and frightening account of her childhood and upbringing in the 50's, 60's and 70's Middle East gives the reader an opportunity to see the build up of jihad and the perpetuation of hatred towards Israel and America at a very personal level. Her status as a Shahid's (Martyr's) daughter and being of the upper class in Egyptian Society allowed her access to the media and therefore information from the outside world that most did not share. Her early years were spent in Gaza where her father was a high ranking member of Nasser's Egyptian Army. She was taught hatred and prejudice towards the Jews and Israel and the passion for jihad as early as elementary school. She was told not to accept candy from strangers on the street because it could be a Jew who wants to poison Arab children. She was told that Jews love to kill Arab children and use their blood in their cookies. Nonie did not buy in to the hate speech and ugliness of the propaganda that is spread throughout Muslim countries. After her father was killed by a package bomb from Israel, her mother, Nonie and four siblings moved to Egypt. She couldn't understand, even at a young age, why President Nasser asked of her and her siblings, "Which of you will kill Jews in retaliation of your father's death?" She did not want to kill Jews. She speaks of Egypt, her country of origin, as being more westernized than other countries in the Middle East. When she was growing up, most women did not wear the veil. There was still polygamy and she had heard tales of female circumcision. But, her mother sent them to private, Christian schools to get the best education and she was able to purchase a car and obtain a driver's license to get them to school. Ms. Darwish's education at the American University of Cairo introduced her to diversity and open discussion. She was amazed that the average Egyptian thought that Egypt had always been Muslim, even when the pyramids were built. They never knew that Israel was inhabited by Jews for centuries before Muhammad was born. The Arab media and Dictators had been lying to their people for generations now. She was able to "escape" to the U.S. where her personality finally found a home. She took several years to raise a family and settle in Los Angeles. Nonie tells of a time she took a visiting family friend to a mosque in her neighborhood. She was embarrassed by the hate speech in the mosques even then. According to Ms. Darwish many Muslims in America do not attend mosques because the local Imams are spreading anti-American propaganda and encourage jihad. She felt the Jihad was coming to America. Most of the Mosques in America are built and supported by Saudi Arabia. When the Jihadists flew into the World Trade Center and into the Pentagon and that field in Pennsylvania Nonie called her family and friends in Egypt. All of them denied it was Islamic Terrorists. They said it was an Israeli plot. She was even admonished for not being a good Muslim and blaming the attacks on Muslim Terrorists. She pointed out to them that Mohammed Atta was Egyptian and they responded with anger that Nonie would not defend her culture of origin. After 9/11 Nonie felt compelled to speak out against the Jihadist movement. Now she speaks around the world and on college campuses to refute the hate coming out of the Muslim world towards Israel and the West. She has organized a group, Arabs for Israel, to open a venue for Arabs who do support Israel's democracy in the Middle East. This book is one brave woman's story of life in a repressed society and her escape to the freedom loving United States. Her insight into Arab culture is invaluable. There needs to be more voices, women's voices coming from these cultures so we can shine a light on the injustice and persecution still being applied to people in these countries today.
Her writing style is not aggressive or combative. Her love of the Egyptian people and the beauty that the diverse Arab culture has given the world is evident in her chapters. She simply deplores the hateful rhetoric and violent methods Islamists are endorsing. She hopes for peace for everyone in this life. Ms. Darwish was able to write her life story because she has been living in the United States for over 25 years now. She is a U.S. citizen; she has the courage of her convictions and the freedom of speech behind her now.
on December 10, 2006
The war currently waged by radical Islam on the rest of the world is very nearly unique in the history of warfare in that the victims of this war are doing their level best to deny the war even exists. In NOW THEY CALL ME INFIDEL, Nonie Darwish explains how the west has decided to play the political ostrich and what can be done to drag those collective heads out of the cultural sand to confront the most ruthless foe of humanism since the demise of Nazism.
Darwish wishes to confront not only the Islamic population of the world to convince them that their current approach for world dominion is debasing the very religion that it espouses as the reason for lopping off the heads of nonbelievers on Al-Jazeera. She also wants to shake the political correctness cobwebs out of the naive brains of the political left that insists Islam has every right to use our legal system while at the same time undermining this nation's security. Darwish finds it difficult to comprehend how the west simply refuses to acknowledge a danger that she has seen with crystal clarity since she was eight years old. Her book is her attempt to answer her own question.
Darwish's father was a shaheed, or martyr for radical Islam. When he died, his name became hallowed and enshrined in the pantheon of Islamic demi-gods who died while spitting in the face of the demon Jew. But to her, he was simply Daddy and his loss was the first step in her evolution as a rational creature who dared to question the Way of Things. As she grew older, her questioning expanded to encompass the entire spectrum of Islamic givens: the natural inferiority of women, the absolute necessity for the destruction of Israel, the demonization of the Jew, and the inner meaning of Islamic honor. When she was old enough, she managed to emigrate to the United States where, to her horror, she saw the same vile and bile pour forth from the transplanted mosques that she thought she had forever left behind in Egypt. Each time Darwish saw and heard young American-born Moslem women in college wear the hajib and demand that the United States convert to Sharia, she tells them that if they truly get their wish, the first thing that these women will learn is that they will no longer be permitted to attend school. The second is that they will quickly find themselves married off to strangers whom their parents will choose for them.
NOW THEY CALL ME INFIDEL is one of several recent books that warn the west that the "moderate" image of Islam as a religion of tolerance seen on the major media and in liberal bastions of higher education like Columbia University is a carefully crafted attempt by Islamic Imams funded by the petrodollars of our "friends" in Saudi Arabia to softpedal the true intent of radical Islam. Darwish has done her very best to counter this propaganda. Now it is time for us to heed her words.
PS: As I write this, I hear on Fox News that President Aminidinijab of Iran has called for a conference to question whether the Holocaust in Europe ever happened. Nonie Darwish, I am sure, can easily grasp how Islam might question the reality of the Holocaust. We must join Nonie Darwish in questioning the questioners.
on January 26, 2007
I can't praise this book highly enough! It is written in a personal style, so it is very readable - I finished it quite quickly. She relates her life story from living in the Middle East to now, an American citizen. She describes life in aa Muslim state, the pain of polygamy, the repression of women's rights in the Middle East and why "moderate" Muslims do not speak out against radical, violent Islamist leaders. She explains why there is no Palestinian state yet (no, it's not because Israel stole the land) and why there is so much rhetoric toward
Israel, why Arab states say one thing to the West and something else to their own people.
She also chronicles something of her journey in America and what I particularly loved is that - she LOVES America! & she is grateful to live in a free country. That alone enhanced my pleasure in reading the book.
I highly recommend this book.
on December 27, 2006
This is a compelling story of one women's life journey from Gaza as the daughter of a high ranking Egyptian military officer, to Cairo, after his death as a martyr for Islamic jihad. Nonie Darwish tells of her life from the age of eight, through her adolescent years growing up in a Muslim society while attending a Catholic School in Cairo. She covers her childhood in the 50's to the present day in her adopted country the United States of America. She describes how at young age she began questioning what she was told about Israelis and Americans as it conflicted with what she experienced first hand.
Ms. Darwish tells about the harsh and hate filled culture that she had grown up in, and how life for women in a Muslim society is isolating, fearful, and constrained. She describes how Muslim society even hurts men as the fear of polygamy prevents the kind of intimacy that husbands and wives enjoy in the West. She is critical of the Muslim practice of blaming everything that is bad on the Israelis and Muslim refusal to take responsibility for their own country. She blames the constant wars brought on by Arabs for the terrible conditions in the Middle East.
This is a penetrating look into Muslim Culture that should awaken the West as to Islam's intentions. Ms. Darwish is to be admired for her courage to speak the truth, and for her work to bring understanding of the danger the world faces from Islamic jihad. This is rare and wonderful story of courage, enlightenment, love and determination to work toward understanding and peace in a world filled with misinformation and hate. I highly recommend this book. You will not be able to put it down.
Now They Call Me Infidel is a gripping narrative of the author's journey from the upper echelons of Egyptian society to a staunch defender of the West. Like Ayaan Hirsi Ali's Infidel, the book is part autobiography and part analysis of a severely dysfunctional culture. Unlike Ayaan, Darwish is not against the Muslim religion per se, focusing mainly on the destructive aspects of polygamy. This primitive practice harms women, men, the family and ultimately the whole culture.
She further examines the nature of modern Arab society showing how the ruling classes exploit religion in order to advance their oppressive agendas. Darwish confirms the existence of the pervasive Antisemitism that Hirsi Ali observed as a child in places like Saudi-Arabia. For examples of the Anti-Jewish hatred in the mainstream Arab press, please consult Peace: The Arabian Caricature of Anti-Semitic Imagery by Arieh Stav.
On a 2001 visit to Egypt, she noticed the illiteracy, anger and unemployment amongst ordinary people. They blame all of these problems on Israel, obviously brainwashed by the Egyptian media. There is a lack of self-criticism in Arab culture - a taboo against criticizing the family, religion or their leaders. But there's no denying that the constant drumbeat of propaganda against Israel and the USA emanates from, and has totally corrupted the educated segments of Egyptian society.
Observing how many Muslim immigrants do not appreciate Western values, the author warms against radicalism on campus and in mosques funded by petrodollars. Long ago she became aware of the two-faced behavior of Islamist radicals in the West: they speak soothing words to the clueless Western mass media whilst spewing forth hatred in their sermons and the Arab media. To Darwish, the terrorists are pirates who are intent on robbing Western democracies of their soul. She dismisses the misleading portrayal of Jihad as a "personal spiritual struggle," stating bluntly that it has always meant a religious holy war against non-Muslims.
There are many beautiful moments in the book, like her account of experiencing Christian worship for the first time, and her moving description of a visit to Israel and how it altered her perception of that brave little country. And this is the most important message of the book; for Nonie, the most valuable reward of moving to the USA was religious freedom and learning to love: "I had turned from a culture of hatred to one of love." May she be blessed.
Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America by Brigitte Gabriel
The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
The Force of Reason by Oriana Fallaci
Light in the Shadow of Jihad: The Struggle for Truth by Ravi Zacharias
Londonistan by Melanie Phillips
Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis Is America's Too by Claire Berlinski
Unholy Alliance: Radical Islam and the American Left by David Horowitz
While Europe Slept: How Radical Islam is Destroying the West from Within by Bruce Bawer
on November 23, 2006
I find it interesting that reviewer Richard Wigton states that he has not read this book, then goes on to give it a negative review. Huh? Reviewer Verite attempts to discredit the book with personal insults and deliberate misinformation. Nowhere does Ms. Darwish claim to "speak on behalf of a billion Muslims", as Verite asserts in his/her review. Ms. Darwish is telling her story, and speaking for herself.
This is an amazing book written by a brave woman who speaks the truth. Read it along with "Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America" by Brigitte Gabriel - another brave woman who speaks the truth.
This is such an interesting book because of the way the author's life has provided her with many more views on the issues of the Arab view of the world - especially Israel and America, Islam versus the rising militant strands, the role of women within Islam and how the rising militant strands are affecting women even or especially in the West, how Muslim polygamy contributes to the role of women in Islamic countries, and what it means to be the daughter of a martyr. Nonie Darwish knows all these things from her own life and her family experiences and I strongly recommend this book to you. Darwish provides perspectives on Islam that I have not read elsewhere and I found them quite valuable.
She recounts her childhood under the Nasser regime and being taught to hate Jews. She recounts the pleasantness of Egypt and then her family being sent to Gaza. It is interesting to read her comparisons of the way people lived there shortly after the establishment of Israel versus the artificially horrible (but horrible) conditions of today.
Her father led fedayeen attacks into Israel and was targeted and killed because by Israel because of these raids. This made things complicated for her family. Because of her father's status Nasser actually visited their home and promised support to the widow and children. To this day there is a school and a street in Gaza named for her father.
Darwish recounts going to a Catholic school. Here she encountered her first contradiction between what she had been raised to believe about Christians and what she saw in reality for herself. Nasser soon nationalized such schools and the indoctrination of hate became the norm. This never took with her because she had seen the reality and the lies seemed like lies. Unfortunately, for millions of children, the lies about Jews and Christians are all they know since they have never met a Jew or a Christian.
Her mother was widowed while young, and the description of her status becomes and springboard for a fascinating description of life as a woman in Muslim countries. The ways in which polygamy is used to oppress women is something I had never read before. For example, the author's mother was a young widow. One would expect that her female friends would rally around her. Instead, the drew away because a single woman becomes a threat and competition in a polygamous society. A husband can take a new wife without even telling his first wife (or other wives). He can also abandon her because of the way divorce is put in the hands of the man without any say from the woman. She can also be punished by being abandoned but not divorced so she cannot remarry or have the power to change her own status. There is a lot more to this you will get from reading the book.
A current trend of more Muslim women wearing full covering is also discussed. It is occurring especially in the West where no one is compelling them to do so. Darwish states that she believes this is really about making an aggressive statement and standing apart rather than something coming from being devout. Her belief is that if these women were living in societies that were compelling them to wear a burqua they would be among those standing apart and burning them. A few conversations she recounts with such women is quite, well, revealing.
Another interesting topic is she shows us how the Arab mindset blames everything wrong in their society on conspiracies from outsiders. But that only goes to a point! When her brother was facing a likely fatal condition he could either go to a hospital in Egypt or in Israel. He chose Israel and was saved. Later, she asked him if he thought differently about Jews now and he indicated that he still had real misgivings about them and was still quite against Israel.
I also enjoyed the discussion of the poor treatment of Christian minorities in Muslim countries and especially in Egypt. They are not only treated as inferiors (which all non-Muslims are felt to be by all Muslims), they are brutalized and even killed. This was confirmed to me shortly after 9/11 by a Coptic Christian from Egypt that I met at the business school I was attending for my MBA. This is not only under reported in the West, but it is shockingly telling of the Muslim mindset and what they mean by a religion of peace (peace for all Muslims is all that it means).
Her recounting of coming to America and learning about freedom and liberty is quite moving. She also recounts her trips back to her homeland and how things continued to change. Darwish wants Americans to wake up to the very real danger that the Jihadists are to us and how much we stand to lose if we let them have their way through indifference or concession. Either way, our way of life will change forever.
A very interesting and valuable book.
on January 10, 2007
This is a VERY important book for all Americans to read. Nonie Darwish gives us an insiders look at the contemporary Islamic psyche;a world view that is incomprehensible by the untutored Western mind. Nonie Darwish is the tutor.
It is clear from her sometimes heart-wrenching testimony that the Islamic psyche, particularly under the sway of radical jihadism is terminally dysfunctional. It is a psyche that REFUSES to consider what is obvious to the rest of the world:Islam's problem is Islam. It is a psyche that refuses to examine, let alone critique itself. As such, it MUST project its flaws onto an external boogie man (e.g. "the Jews", the West, and specifically the United States of America). Externalizing the dark side is the only way that a culture of denial can deal with its dark side.
It's us or them. Accommodation is not an option. Negotiation is not an option. Coexistence is not an option. Islam itself does not allow for any of this. Islam contends that it is the only truth, therefore imposing itself on the rest of the world by whatever means necessary is moral, by definition.
Islam is a religion of peace only in the sense that once it has achieved worldwide domination through the imposition of a fascist caliphate, then there will be peace.
BEWARE, BEWARE, BEWARE. The islamofascists are playing for keeps. Are we?
on November 27, 2006
Through her own remarkable life journey Ms.Darwish offers a deeply insightful and commendably honest view of her own culture of origin. Her personal life story opens for the western reader a clear window into the puzzling and little known world of Middle Eastern Arab life and the radical Islam that endangers the world. I salute her bravery in bringing her experience as an Egyptian Moslem into the eye of the American public when such honesty endangers her own life. I hail her rejection of the institutionalized hatred, bigotry and oppression in her culture of origin that is poison to the human soul. I commend her courage in opening our eyes to the fact that the adherants of radical Islam are not a fringe minority in the Middle East, as Americans would very much like to beleive, and to the fact that the seeds of this very same blind hatred are being sown right here on American soil as we sleep. Everyone on my Christmas list will receive a copy of "Now They Call Me Infidel".
on November 30, 2006
Nonie Darwish is a daughter of Mustafa Hafez, a high-ranking Arab military officer who conducted guerilla-style war against Israel in 1955 and 1956. It appears that Nonie has inherited quite a bit of her father's bravery.
Darwish immigrated to the United States in 1978, at the age of 30, to marry her fiance, who had already moved to the United States from Egypt. I know quite a few people who have immigrated to this country, and it does not surprise me that the majority are highly supportive of their new nation. And while it takes some spirit of adventure to move across the Atlantic, many people do just that.
Darwish tells of her life in Gaza and Egypt, as well as in America. And it's a captivating autobiography. Still, the most interesting thing is that Darwish has shown the willingness to write such a book at all, as well to speak to many groups about her experiences. It must take considerable courage to speak out against the tacit support for Islamic extremism we see by many in the American Muslim community. Darwish became interested in doing that after the 9/11/2001 destruction of the World Trade Center buildings and the reaction of many Arabs to it. In February, 2004, she founded the website ArabsforIsrael which has given many people an opportunity to express their support for a much-maligned nation. This website makes several excellent points, two of which are:
"Israel is a legitimate state that is not a threat but an asset in the Middle East."
"It will be better for Arabs when the Arab media ends the incitement and misinformation that result in Arab street rage and violence."
Some people say that it would be better for Darwish to show "support" for the Levantine Arabs instead of support for Israel. But Darwish claims that this would be nothing new, nor would it bring "any new perspective to solving the crisis." In addition, "support" for the Levantine Arabs generally amounts to the abusive use of these people as sacrificial pawns in a larger Arab war against Israel. As the author says, "I do not want to give that kind of support" to the Levantine Arabs. "They don't need hatred; they need hope. They don't need jihad; they need jobs. I reject such eternal jihad and terrorism. I can no longer wish this on any Arab child." In her website, while Darwish does explicitly call for support for the Arab people, she makes it clear that she means by this genuine support, and that support for Arabs does not cancel out support for Israel.
Darwish has a standard question which I think we all need to ask of many Arab Muslim leaders, namely, "What are you doing to end the lying about the West and the State of Israel in the Arab media and educational system?" As she reports, "you won't get a straight answer to that question."
I was particularly intrigued by Darwish's description of a speech given early in 2004 by Dr. Yvonne Haddad, an Arab Christian woman from Georgetown University. Haddad was not critical of the infamous 2001 Durban Conference on racism; instead she criticized the United States for walking out of it! Although Haddad is often considered a "moderate," she characterized support for American foreign policy as "racist" and "discrimination." Darwish says that she stayed to the very end of this outrageous speech and called it "a disturbing example of what the Arab American PR machine is trying to do on U.S. college campuses - to indoctrinate American students into believing what the real racists and purveyors of discrimination in the Middle East want them to believe about American freedoms and democracy."
According to Darwish, that speech energized her and made her realize "how important it was to expose and alert Americans to what is happening on our college campuses." As she says, "I don't want to see the same propaganda, hatred, misinformation, anti-Semitism, and suppression of freedom of speech that I dealt with growing up in the Middle East invade the institutions of higher learning in America. I cannot let anti-American and terrorist sympathizers be the only speakers for Arab Americans. The American people deserve better."
Obviously, the Arab Americans deserve better as well. Without better representation, all of them will look suspicious! I think we need to separate the sheep from the goats here.
Darwish has a number of recommendations. Three of them are:
Change Islam's law against converting from Islam to another religion.
Stop blaming America, the West, and Israel for all the problems in the Middle East.
Have American Muslims take control of their mosques rather than cede such control to people in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
This is an excellent book, and I highly recommend it.