A Young Jewish Man’s Lethal Arab Spring Delusion

Pochter 2

Cross-posted at The American Thinker

Andrew Pochter, then a recent alumnus of the State Department’s National Security Language for Youth Program, published a report June 8, 2011 for Al Arabiya on his impressions of the Arab Spring uprisings in Morocco. Entitled, “The Acquisition of Reality,” the callow Mr. Pochter lauded Moroccan despot King Muhammad VI’s release of 90 imprisoned jihadists (arbitrarily designated “Islamists” and “Sahrawis,” i.e., the latter being “nationalists” cum jihadists), while lamenting,

This seems to be a good start, though it is important to keep in mind that over 100 political prisoners still remain behind bars.

Just two years later, the well-intentioned, if naïve Pochter’s tragic delusions about the ugly reality of the Orwellian-named Arab spring were shattered, instantaneously, by lethal violence. While photographing demonstrations in the Egyptian port city of Alexandria this past Friday (6/28/13), near an office of the jihadist Muslim Brotherhood, Pochter was stabbed, and suffered a fatal chest wound.

Veteran international journalist Jon Williams tweeted that, as per unnamed “intelligence sources,” Pochter’s assailant questioned the young man whether he were an American, before plunging a knife into the victim’s chest. If Williams’ account is confirmed, this would mark the second time in two months that an American was targeted for stabbing in Egypt. On Thursday, May 12, 2013, Chris Stone, an Associate Professor of Arabic, and Director of the Arabic Program at The City University of New York was stabbed in the neck outside the US embassy’s Cairo headquarters. Stone’s attacker, Kafr El-Sheikh, was motivated by his professed hatred of the US, and Americans.  Stone survived the attack, but as Al-Ahram reported, the knife lodged in his neck had to be removed by a surgical operation. Ironically, Stone, who had penned anti-Israel vitriol, and supported demands that the New York Police Department terminate its legitimate (and successful) anti-jihad terror surveillance activities, was recently appointed head of the Center for Arabic Study Abroad by the American University in Cairo, and, as Al-Ahram highlighted, “praised for his pro-Palestine views  and his interest in Arab culture.”

The late youth Andrew Pochter was described in an Al-Arabiya tribute by his former Moroccan Arabic teacher as similarly “filled with the Arabic language and with the Arab world.” Pochter attended Kenyon College, where he was a religious studies major, who co-managed the college’s Hillel, and had just completed his sophomore year. Prior to his fateful sojourn in Egypt, Pochter interned for AMIDEAST, an American nonprofit that focuses on the Middle East and North Africa, and studied regional politics. His mother, Elizabeth Pochter, maintained that her son read poems to his girlfriend about the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict,”  and insisted that somehow the endless jihad against The Jewish State, “wasn’t just about some detached war to him, but a struggle that he passionately wanted to resolve.” Elizabeth Pochter added, according to a statement by Kenyon College, that her Jewish son,

…was a person who didn’t see the world as separate nations, but a collection of vibrant cultures.

In her encomiumMarcela Colmenares, an instructor at Kenyon College, who had befriended Pochter,  characterized him  as “absorbing every bit of the Egyptian culture” —just before he suffered an even more horrific fate than the adult Arabic Professor, Stone.

Glaringly absent from these poignant encomia by Andrew Pochter’s mentors—academic, organizational, even parental—is any informed, honest recognition of the dangerous cauldron of Islamic hatredanimated by living doctrines and history—into which he had thrust himself.

AMIDEAST, the organization for whom Andrew Pochter “interned,” this past February 2013 marked the end of the tenure of Al-Azhar Grand Mufti Sheik Ali Gomaa (also spelled “Ali Gum’a”) with a public ceremony for the cleric who helped preside over Sunni Islamdom’s de facto Vatican, giving him an engraved silver plate that read,

AMIDEAST recognizes and honors the prominent role of the Grand Mufti Dr. Ali Gomaa in strengthening mutual understanding and cooperation between Americans and the peoples of the Muslim world.

Pace AMIDEAST’s award recognizing Gomaa’s purported “ecumenism,” the former Grand Mufti’s readily available writings and utterances have been punctuated by sacralized hatred toward non-Muslims, and even frank incitement to lethal violence against them, especially Jews. Gomaa invoked canonical Islamic doctrines to rationalize these repugnant views, consistent with his leadership role at Sunni Islam’s most important, mainstream religious teaching institution. A representative sampling of Gomaa’s less than ecumenical pronouncements (arranged chronologically), ignored by the late Andrew Pochter’s erstwhile sponsor and educator, AMIDEAST, includes:

  • (2003) Forbidding Muslims in the US military from fighting other Muslims, while simultaneously declaring all Israeli Jews, including as the legitimate targets of murderous homicide bombings.“ A consensus emerged that it was forbidden for a Muslim to [fight] his brother. Even if the [brother’s] guilt was proven, a Muslim is forbidden from fighting his brother, all the more so when it occurs as a result of propaganda and lies. “A Hadith says: ‘A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim; he does not abandon him and he does not give him away.’…The Muslim soldier in the American army must refrain [from participating] in this war, and if he cannot, he must serve in the [logistic] ranks, and if he cannot, he must submit his resignation. If he is forced to [fight] and is among the combating ranks, he is forbidden from killing a Muslim with his weapon; if he kills him in error he must pay reparation. If he kills him intentionally, he has committed the sin of killing a Muslim intentionally.” Question: “Is it permitted to kill an Israeli traveling outside the borders of his land?” Sheikh Gomaa: “Yes, it is permitted to kill him, because he is a Harbi and the Harbi spreads corruption [especially the ‘harbi’ Jew; see Koran 5:64] throughout the face of the earth.”
  • (2006/2006/2006/) Lauding the annihilationist jihad terror organization Hezbollah’s unprovoked summer 2006 war against Israel as “[pages of] jihad that will not be in vain. The blood of those you have lost will be a curse on your enemies. You are not only a model for people living [today], you are also lighting the path for the future generations,” while characterizing Jews—the “Hebrew entity”—as “bloodsuckers” replete with the claimed preparation of Passover matzos with “human [non-Jewish] blood, ” bent upon wantonly   “destroying property, killing people, keeping the [entire] world busy [with the conflict], and violating all the principles accepted by the human [race]?  In 2006, Gomaa also issued a fatwa outlawing sculpture (quoting a canonical hadith that sculptors will be among those receiving the harshest punishment on Judgment Day), while, conversely, sanctioning wife-beating “Allah permitted wife-beating… as one of the means to preserve the family, and as one of the means to preserve stability.”
  • (2007/2007) Denying the plight of women in Islam—sacralized polygamy and violence (such as the wife-beating Gomaa endorsed), including disproportionate application of the death penalty for alleged adultery—while blaming “secularism,” not jihadism for global terror. Gomaa, in 2007, re-affirmed “that Islam prohibits a Muslim from changing his religion and that apostasy is a crime, which must be punished”—i.e., if “public” and “un-repentant,” by death.
  • (2010) As described by analyst Raymond Ibrahim, shortly before the Maspero massacre of Egyptian Coptic Christians, “Gomaa categorized Christians as kuffar — ‘infidels’ — a word that connotes ‘enemies,’ “evil-doers,” and every bad thing to Muslim ears. After quoting Quran 5:17, ‘Infidels are those who declare God is the Christ, [Jesus] son of Mary,’ he expounded by saying any association between a human and God (in Arabic, shirk) is the greatest sin: ‘Whoever thinks the Christ is God, or the Son of God, not symbolically — for we are all sons of God — but attributively, has rejected the faith which God requires for salvation,” thereby becoming an infidel.’”

One further wonders if any of Pochter’s mentors even warned him, with appropriate seriousness, about present on the ground conditions for Jews within Egypt, and Alexandria, specifically?

During early January, 2012, MENA, Egypt’s state-run news agency, reported a coalition of groups led by members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Peace and Freedom Party, was joined by Mohamed El-Baradei’s (then) presidential campaign, and “Nasserists,” vowing to form a human chain to prevent “Zionists” from conducting the longstanding “Hilula” pilgrimage to an official Egyptian state antiquity site in Damanhur, the Tomb of Rabbi Yaakov Abu Hatzeira, a revered Oriental Jewish spiritual figure from Morocco, who became ill, and died there, in 1880. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Wiesenthal Center, commented on these events:

It is an ominous sign that as they ascend to power in the Egyptian Parliament, the Muslim Brotherhood’s first act is to curb the religious freedom of Jews. In their worldview, there is no respect for the traditions for Jews, dead or alive.

Cooper added, appositely,

We are deeply fearful for Egypt’s historic Coptic Christian community, which represents 10% of Egypt’s population and whose churches and faithful have been targets of religious-fueled terrorism

During the spring of 2012, the Egyptian government also denied foreign rabbis permission to enter the country to perform Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services for the vestigial remnant Alexandria dhimmi Jewish community of four Jewish men, and 18 Jewish women. Given that miniscule number of surviving Alexandrian Jews, these guest rabbis were pivotal in order for formal prayers—a minyan—to take place. By late December, 2012, Dr. Ahmed Darraj, a member of the draft committee for Egypt’s post-Mubarak Constitution, led a rally decrying (with unbridled Islamic Jew-hating paranoia) the mere mention (in article 3) of Sharia-circumscribed personal status “rights” for Jews as a “calamity,” which would mean,

recognizing the legitimacy of their presence within the country to practice their rituals and allowing them to claim that the Jews built the pyramids, possibly to claim ownership down the line.

Andrew Pochter’s murder represents the apotheosis of a Big Islamic Lie mentality, rigidly imposed by academic, governmental, religious, and media elites. It is well past time to hold accountable the hyperactive promulgators of such Big Islamic Lies before additional self-destructively indoctrinated victims of their warped “teachings” meet similar fates.

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