Did Imam Call for the Annihilation of Jews during Davis Sermon?

The Islamic Center of Davis has once again received national media coverage, after a translation of a sermon posted online purports that an Iman’s sermon called for the annihilation of Jews.

The problem is that the video that is available has subtitled translation from Arabic into English.  And the group that provided the video, the Middle East Media Research Institute or MEMRI, is considered right wing and anti-Islamic.

According to them, he recites a prayer that calls for the Muslims to fight the Jews on Judgment Day, and prays to Allah to “liberate the Al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth of the Jews” and to “annihilate them down to the very last one,” not sparing any of them. “Oh Allah, make this happen by our hands. Let us play a part in this,” he said.

The English portion is more clear, clearly praying for a day of judgment between Muslims and Jews.

The flashpoint is a policy set by the Israeli government at the Temple Mount, where they installed metal detectors when a terrorist shot and killed two Israeli soldiers earlier this month.

CBS 13 in Sacramento talks to Rabbi Shmary Brownstein and his wife Sorele from the Chabad in Davis.

“He spelled out what he wishes for every Muslim who follows the Quran and the Hadith to follow what the Hadith says which is …find the Jews hiding behind trees and stones and kill them,” said Sorele Brownstein.

“To me, it’s clear this is direct incitement,” said Shmary Brownstein.

On the other hand, Imam Ammar Shahin himself says he was taken out of context, edited and mistranslated by an organization that is “agenda-driven” in order to appear inflammatory.

“It was clear to all who listened to the entire sermon that Imam Shahin was not calling towards anti-Semitism nor towards violence against any religion,” he and the Islamic Center said in a statement Tuesday.

They added, “Rather, he is known for his stance against extremism and his condemnation of un-Islamic groups which promote such views.”

However, as the blowback continues, the Islamic Center released a second statement that apologized to those who were offended by the sermon.

They said, “The ICD will always stand against anti-Semitism similarly to how the Jewish community has always stood against Islamophobia in our close knit community. We have zero tolerance for anti-Semitism or any other form of bigotry.”

Here is the full statement from Imam Shahin and the Islamic Center of Davis:

In light of recent accusations made against Imam Ammar Shahin and the Islamic Center of Davis (ICD), Imam Ammar Shahin and the ICD have issued the following statement:

On July 21st, 2017, Imam Ammar Shahin gave a sermon at the ICD. The sermon was about the horrific events that had recently taken place, and continue to take place, in East Jerusalem. In this sermon, Imam Shahin exercised his first amendment right to protest the illegal closure, occupation, and attacks against Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site for all Muslims.

This illegal closure of the Mosque is in addition to the killing of Muslim worshipers, the injury of many more, including the Imam of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the prevention of worship, and the prevention of the call to prayer at the Mosque. The International community has expressed outrage over the incidents, with the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People stating at the recent International Conference on Jerusalem that what is happening is against international law.

After this sermon, MEMRI, an agenda driven organization that supports Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land, and other Islamophobic news organizations, accused Imam Shahin and the ICD of anti-Semitism, quoting edited passages of the sermon out of context. In particular, they said that Imam Shahin cited an anti-Semitic prophetic tradition in his sermon.

The tradition in question refers to the theological issue regarding the apocalyptic battle between Jesus and the Antichrist. It says that there will be people from various groups, including Muslims, who will follow the Antichrist, and there will be people who will believe in Jesus and follow him, including Jews and Christians. A battle will take place between these two armies, with the army of Jesus prevailing.

Thus, this prophetic tradition is referring to a battle between good and evil, and not a battle against any particular group as MEMRI would like people to believe. The apocalyptic battle between the Messiah and the Antichrist is something found in all Abrahamic traditions. Imam Shahin’s condemnation was aimed towards those who are taking part in the illegal aggression against the Al-Aqsa Mosque and no one else.

It was clear to all those who listened to the entire sermon that Imam Shahin was not calling towards anti-Semitism nor towards violence against any religion. Rather, he is known for his stance against extremism and his condemnation of un-Islamic groups which promote such views. This has always been the position of the Imam and the ICD.

To clarify how the cut-and-paste tactics of MEMRI twisted what was said, the following is a summary of the sermon:

The sermon was approximately fifty minutes long. The clip that MEMRI circulated was 2 minutes and 19 seconds long, comprised of smaller clips put together out of context. Then they placed a title to the video to reflect the message they wanted to paint Imam Shahin with. The entire sermon was about the theological virtues of the holy site of Al-Aqsa Mosque, which the Jews call Temple Mount.

He then mentioned that closing the holy site of Muslims is a form of oppression, and that God comes to the aid of the oppressed if they return back to their faith.

The Imam also mentioned Jews in a positive context in his sermon. He addressed how God saved the Jews from Pharaoh when they were oppressed yet held on to their religion, similarly, God would relieve the Muslims who are oppressed by the occupying forces in East Jerusalem when they return back to their faith.

This is when Imam Shahin cited the prophetic tradition regarding God giving victory to Jesus and the followers of truth during the apocalyptic war with the Antichrist. When people believe in Jesus as a prophet of God and hold on to the truth, God will support them. This was the purpose of citing the prophetic tradition.

In the context of the full sermon, it becomes clear that the theme of the sermon was against oppression, and not against Jews or any religion. This was clearly explained in the sermon when Imam Ammar said that the battle at the end of time is not specific to Palestine, indicating that the conflict is not with Jews or any specific group of people, but it will be against all evil.

This then makes clear to whom the supplication at the end of the sermon was referring. It was referring to the oppressive occupying forces that closed down one of the holiest sites in the world and attacked worshippers. Moreover, MEMRI also wrongly translates “ahlik” as “annihilate.” Ahlik, in the Arabic language, means destroy, a supplication that is generally used against oppressors. MEMRI’s deliberate and erroneous translation to promote their agenda is unacceptable and aims to portray people of faith against each other.

If MEMRI and company sincerely followed Imam Ammar Shahin’s work and did not just cut and paste what suits their cause, they would have come across the countless lectures and sermons he has given regarding treating all people, especially non-Muslims, with kindness and giving them their full rights, supporting them when they are oppressed.

Never has Imam Shahin called for discrimination or harm of any group of people. These types of claims are expected from an organization like MEMRI which is notorious for its academic dishonesty.

Finally, the ICD welcomes all people to come to our Mosque to find out what we really teach. We have an open-door policy.

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Keith O

    It’s not hard to have the entire speech interpreted and people can then judge for themselves whether they felt the speech contained hate or not.

      1. Keith O

        I’m not saying you, but maybe our community?

        It certainly was a hot topic in the Enterprise comment section yesterday so the community seems alarmed.

        1. Don Shor

          It certainly was a hot topic in the Enterprise comment section yesterday so the community seems alarmed.

          The majority of the comments yesterday were from anonymous people out of town, you, Noreen Mazelis, and one from Rich Rifkin.

        2. Keith O

          The article got updated and the comments disappeared but there were many more comments from locals than you cite.  Secondly, anonymous posters you know are from out of town how?

          1. Don Shor

            There were 17 comments.
            Anonymous posters have links to the Facebook accounts from which they posted. Just like yours does.

        3. Alan Miller

          The majority of the comments yesterday were from anonymous people out of town, you, Noreen Mazelis, and one from Rich Rifkin.

          And the above comment was made by Don Shor.

        4. Keith O

          There were 17 comments.

          There were many more than 17 comments when you add the replies to comments.  You’re really getting a lot of this wrong.


    1. R Fung

      I agree with that.  It seems the author or the Islamic Center might address the controversy by publishing their own translation of the entire text together with the original text.

  2. Alan Miller

    After this sermon, MEMRI, an agenda driven organization that supports Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land . . .

    No agenda in this statement condemning others as having an agenda.  Just sayin’ . . .

  3. Robin W.

    If the Islamic Center disagrees with the MEMRI translation of the Arabic, they should post a direct word-for-word translation they contend is accurate, rather than a separate essay. Reliance on the English part of the sermon and separate statements is not a reasonable way to understand what was said actually in Arabic.

    David – Before you question the MEMRI translation, perhaps you could do some useful investigation and identify someone who will provide a word-for-word translation of the Arabic?

    1. David Greenwald

      I’m potentially working on that.  To be clear, it’s really the Islamic center that is questioning the translation.  MEMRI has requested to submit a response, which I’ve granted.  And we’ll see if we can get a more neutral party to submit a response.

    2. Howard P

      Robin… do you not understand that a literal word-for-word ‘translation’ often loses much nuance and can come out as gibberish?  Ex.  ‘je t’aime’ literally is “I like you”… but depending on context, it can mean a very intimate “I love you”.  Whole different nuance…

      Languages have many cultural contexts… and there is more than one way to interpret a given word… let’s pick one: “gay”… about a half dozen ways to ‘interpret’ that word… some wildly divergent.  And that just an english word.  Would be interesting to see how a ‘word-for-word’ translation of that word into Arabic, Hindi, Tagalog would be perceived.

      And “gay” has meant a simple adjective, an epithet, and a source of ‘pride’. Again, all in the context of one language…

        1. Howard P

          Like a stopped clock, I endeavor to get something right twice a day… not always successful.

          But thank you for the affirmation I may have met half my daily goal!

          And yes, the potential ‘issues’ of a ‘word-for-word’ translation is a very important factor in the case you cited…

        2. Keith O

          If someone neutral translated it to English taking into consideration the language differences I’m sure we can get a truthful duplicate of what was actually said.

        3. Howard P

          Keith… then why are there about 8 translations (in english) of the Bible?  All from the same sources, most sources coming from different languages…

          Have to assume you’ve never ‘faithfully’ translated from another language… it is not a simple task, and is fraught with opportunities for ‘spin’… or missing ‘nuance’/meaning.

          If we had 10 folk, unbiased, translating a long address from Arabic to English, particularly noting obvious ‘cuts’ in the video, will wager that there will be 12 ‘faithful’ translations…

          That said, it could be worth the effort to try, and perhaps settle my bet…

  4. David Greenwald

    Add this about MEMRI:

    The group claims its goal is to “bridge the language gap between the Middle East and the West.”

    Some have praised it for helping to “shine a spotlight on hate speech wherever it appears”

    However, critics believe that the group portrays the “the Arab and Muslim world in a negative light through the production and dissemination of incomplete translations and by selectively translating views of extremists while deemphasizing or ignoring mainstream opinions.”

    1. Howard P

      Sounds like they should be taken with much more than a few grains of salt, as do both groups cited by both Jim and Dave… could add many others to that list… conservative/liberal, any religious group or atheist/agnostic group.  Me.  You.

      We are human… we all interpret the world differently.  We all have our own ‘truths’. We have to weigh what makes sense to us, ‘speaks’ to us.  Very messy… very real.

      But there are also “facts”. The Earth turns on it’s axis… the earth has a moon… and a star we call the sun that helps us to live.

    2. Dave Hart

      Yes, Howard, precisely the intent of my comment.  You must note, however, that the reliance on facts and on science does run counter to theocracies and to those who are easily led or are more tightly married to their beliefs as Alan mentioned.

      1. Howard P

        I believe in spirituality… not ‘religiousity’…  have known many who are very ‘religious’ folk who are extremely shallow ‘spiritually’… have known many who are deeply spiritual, who follow no religion… some focus on spirituality, but do so in the context of a religion… they tend not to be ‘zealots’, though… I consider myself in the latter group.

        I abhor theocracies… but I also know/believe that facts and science are not necessarily antithetical to a faith-based, spiritual view.  I do not believe that earth and all its life emerged in a six-day period… yet ‘facts and science’ are indicative of a basic truth… light (big-bang?) came first… man came last…

        Causation of that is not scientifically provable, at least to date… hence, the realm of ‘faith’…

  5. Tia Will

    I am reminded of an event that occurred several years ago when David Daleiden decided to run an anti Planned Parenthood campaign based on highly edited “sting” tapes, which were cut and pasted and backed with highly biased “testimonials” and ominous music. As an unaffiliated Ob/Gyn, I was in a strong position to “translate” what was really occurring for those not well versed in gynecology.

    This kind of smear campaign can be highly effective and the best antidote when this occurs is, as several people have pointed out”, an accurate and complete translation. I am hoping for one soon.

  6. Jerry Waszczuk

    CBS 13 in Sacramento talks to Rabbi Shmary Brownstein and his wife Sorele from the Chabad in Davis.

    “He spelled out what he wishes for every Muslim who follows the Quran and the Hadith to follow what the Hadith says which is …find the Jews hiding behind trees and stones and kill them,” said Sorele Brownstein.

    “To me, it’s clear this is direct incitement,” said Shmary Brownstein.

    David & Alan :  Watch your back . Folks like that  Imam are not a Polish Jokes . They have agenda on their minds .   Read about your love  and support .  . http://www.davisvanguard.org/2017/01/hundreds-show-central-park-support-davis-islamic-center-wake-hate-crime.  Scary . This is not the bacon on the doorknobs .


    1. Paul Thober

      Yes, there is a big difference between a troubled young person vandalizing a building and a leader of a religious group allegedly referring to members of another religious group as “filth” that deserve annihilation, oops, destruction.

      “If the sermon was misconstrued, we sincerely apologize to anyone offended.” Yes, I must have misconstrued “jewish filth” and “destruction”.  Classic non-apology.

      When is the Central Park demonstration in support of the jewish community scheduled?

      1. Keith O

        This is where I’m at Paul, some of the words are hard for me to see in any other light than hateful.  There seems to be a lot of damage control now taking place.

      2. Howard P

        I take it Paul (any, perhaps, Keith), that you are fluent in Arabic… as another poster indicated, those words were in
        Arabic, not English… or are you relying on another’s ‘translation’ with all that implies?

    2. Dave Hart

      I don’t read it that way, Jerry.  You are citing the comments of the wife of a rabbi who refers to the “hadith” (another set of sayings) in what that person feels or, more likely, fears is a representation of what was actually said.  This is exactly what is wrong with media coverage of events like this where the focus becomes what others want it to be about.  This is about conflating the actions of a sovereign state government with the dominant religious make up of that country.  It is no different than making the preposterous statement that the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord is a sacred Christian moral decision.  What state governments do can never be interpreted as a religious imperative except as a cover for other strategic goals.

  7. Robin W.

    Actually, much of the speech was in English or was translated by the Imam himself, including the portion where the Imam states that Allah “does not change the situation of people” until “they change their own situation” and that “Judgement Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jew,” and the portion where he says this obligation applies to all Muslims in all places. The portions that he did not translate himself are where he then calls for the Al Aqsa Mosque to be “liberated” from “the filth of the Jews” and for the Jews to be annihalated “by our hands.” (Al Aqsa is controlled by the Jordanian Waqf, not by Israel; Israel’s recent “oppression” was to install metal detectors after two police officers were killed by “worshippers” who had smuggled guns on to the Temple Mount.)

    You can call it a prayer if you want, but it sounds to me like incitement to attack Jews.

    But it’s on YouTube, so everyone can listen to it and decide for themselves.


    1. Howard P

      Am looking at the u-tube… and note its source… just starting…

      And you “know”,

      was translated by the Imam himself, ? source?

      And you admit,

      The portions that he did not translate himself are where he then calls for the Al Aqsa Mosque to be “liberated” from “the filth of the Jews” and for the Jews to be annihalated “by our hands.”

      So who translated those ‘passages’?  to what purpose, what inherent biases?

      Listened to it… decided… I go back to my earlier premise.   I question, very seriously, the translation by what appears to be a biased outlet.

      Others may come to different conclusions.  So be it.

      Let the dialogue between the Muslim and Jewish communities move forward.

      It is written, about a guy who came from the Jewish community, who is the basis of the Christian community (although he always considered himself a Jew), and who is honored by the Islamic community as a great prophet, that he said “that they may all be one”… I believe he was speaking even beyond those communities, but to all of the human community.

      It is also written, ‘a house divided shall not stand’.


      1. Robin W.

        Howard — I did not mean that the Imam wrote the written translation. If you listen to the speech, you can tell that, in the first half of the clip, he states something in Arabic and then follows it with the translation, in English, of what he just said in Arabic. Just listen to what he says in English if you don’t want to pay any mind to the written translation.

  8. Don Shor

    My daughter was an Arabic translator for the USMC, so I asked her to watch the video. She understandably doesn’t want to get drawn into the discussion but was fine with me posting these comments.

    About the context:

    He is reading a letter sent to Salah al-Din [Saladin].

    Essentially the letter he reads says that Salah al-Din should drive out the Jews and Christians from al-Aqsa and not leave one of them there. That’s probably not a perfect translation either.

    And he read that, I think he could argue, to show the historical context of this problem,

    but people who are looking for conflict could say that he was advocating that approach.

    Regarding “filthy Jews”:

    He said the desecration of the Jews. Now that is a point I could see an argument around because it also means to make dirty or to soil but to ignore the obvious translation of desecration in reference to a holy site seems a bit sneaky. He said from the desecration/sullying of the Jews, which is technically what they believe happened at al-Aqsa…. also again not said by the guy in Davis but in a letter to Salah al-Din.

      1. David Greenwald

        This is what I figured was the case.

        The thing about it is – I know so many of the folks over at the DIC and I’ve stood with them on so many issues, I couldn’t imagine that they would sanction this stuff, particularly given that the Jewish community stood with them after the vandalism incident.

  9. Dave Hart

    It seems to me that there is a big problem in the minds of too many people who continually conflate religion, religious texts, religious traditions and the saying of religious leaders with political decisions made by governments.  Yes, there are many governments around the world who tie themselves as closely as they can to religious identities to provide the moral justification for their actions.  But the actions of governments are fundamentally a legal construction among advanced capitalist nations like the United States, all of the EU, Israel, China, Japan, etc.  Individual leaders may or may not lean on religious doctrine to morally justify or build support for their policy decisions, but we all understand that is just cover for what has to pass legal muster.  The state of Israel is unique in being an economically advanced nation that wraps itself so tightly with a religious tradition, but in the end, it is pursuing a strategic direction that is completely understandable and would not be altered even if it outright repudiated its avowed religious affiliation.

    I don’t know what the Imam said, but conflating anti-Semitic rhetoric with criticism of Israel is always a red herring.  If the Imam was criticizing the actions of the state of Israel, that is not evidence of anti-Semitism any more than a Baptist preacher or the Pope being accused of being anti-Islamist when they criticize the actions of Saudi Arabia or of being anti-Hindu when criticizing the actions of India.

  10. Robin W.

    Howard — Listen to the video with your eyes closed so that you don’t read the translation if you think it is not trustworthy. Half of what the Imam says is in English. In English he says that, according to some spiritual leader (Mohammed?), Allah will not change people’s situation until the people act to change it, that Judgment Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews (attack Jews behind rocks, etc), and that this obligation applies to all Muslims in all locations. You don’t need a translator to understand his perfectly clear English.

    I did not suggest that these statements reflect the views of the Muslim community in Davis or of the Muslim religion.  Just that this  “sermon” is vile, offensive, and threatening to Jews (not to Israel).

  11. Howard P

    OK… the ‘clip’ embedded above is less than 3 minutes in length… if someone is serious, see the nearly 1 hour video…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VzT9F7XdS8c [thank you, DIC, and Davis Enterprise for the “real” link]

    It is clear that the video shown above is but a snippet, heavily edited, with a translation that has no provenance [and Don’s contribution, via daughter, only reinforces this]… I smell something, and to say it is “fishy” would be a gross understatement… think fish left out of water and refrigeration for about a week…

    For those who like and trust ‘soundbites’ and really don’t care about what was actually said, stick with your ‘reality’… I intend to listen to the whole thing…

  12. Keith O

    Hamza El-Nakhal, a longtime member of the Muslim community in Davis and a former president of the Islamic Center’s executive board, told the Davis Enterprise that he found the video “disturbing.”
    He said he was out of town and did not attend the Friday service.
    “While I am disgusted by the action of the Israeli government in preventing Muslim people from doing their prayers in the Masjid Al-Aqsa, I am equally disgusted by any religious leader who does not take the chance (during) high unsettling times to calm their congregations,” El-Nakhal said.
    “Some people like Imam Ammar Shahin become angry for injustices. He spoke while angry. He should not have given this sermon while angry.”


        1. Howard P

          It was premature… realized that Fox may have actually given a link to the full video… not sure which version Hamza saw… your cite doesn’t say, but the quote clearly indicates Hamza was not present for the actual presentation… I’ll ask him as to which version he was reacting to…  I know and respect him.

          From what I’ve heard in english (full version), the “short version” takes great liberties untruths in what was said (supposedly ‘translated’)…


  13. Howard P

    OK… listened to the whole thing… I speak/understand no Arabic, but unless someone can demonstrate that the Arabic differed greatly from the English, which I must leave to others, I heard no call for the ‘annihilation’ of Jews… I heard historical references to the Crusaders, who wanted to wipe out Islam, as Islam, at that time wanted to wipe out the Christian ‘infidels’… the reference to ‘filth’ was in the context of how the mosque was found after 90+ years when the Muslims were excluded… not a ‘people’… probably the bacon left on the doors of the DIC was considered ‘filth’, as well… as to the ‘final fight’ between Jews and Muslims… Christians should look at the book of Revelation as to the literary context… the speaker was probably drawing on that…

    The Qu’ran draws heavily from Jewish and early Christian texts.  All of those faith trace themselves back to a guy named Abraham…

    Much of the talk was focused on people needing to take responsibility for their own actions.  And then Allah would be with them.

    Judge for yourselves.  But the short version is a pack of twisted untruths.  IMO.

    A bit ‘preachy’ to be sure… but not so inflammatory, unless one goes out of their way to find that.

    Will not respond to anyone who hasn’t seen the whole video…


    1. Don Shor

      Yep, more a call to faith than a call to arms. The only question is exactly what he said in the very fast-paced prayer at the end. Given the long history of distortion and misrepresentation by MEMRI, and the link to Breitbart, I wouldn’t trust MEMRI’s translation on that.
      I consider that Davis has been played here. There’s a reason they call these wedge issues. They’ve certainly managed to drive a wedge in our community, and I believe that was the intent.

      1. Keith O

        “I wouldn’t trust MEMRI’s translation on that.”

        Then refute it.  Instead of blaming the messenger show us proof that MEMRI’s translation was incorrect.  So far I have seen no proof.  MEMRI states that: “Over the years, when an influential person has been caught saying something in Arabic that we translated, they always make excuses and claim that it was mistranslated or taken out of context. But once they are caught they do not do it again, because they know that their words are being monitored and translated.”

        Is this another case of that?

        1. David Greenwald

          “Then refute it.”

          He’s actually gone further than anyone else here with a partial translation from his daughter. You act like there is some objective translation here and that’s not how this works.

          1. David Greenwald

            Hamza is the first person who is a native speaker who has expressed alarmed. I’ve withheld judgment up to this point, but that’s telling.

        2. Howard P

          Yeah… a case of first liar getting home-field advantage and an auto-presumption of “truth” from those unwilling and/or incapable of actual considered thought.

        3. Eric Gelber

          I’m with Keith O and Bob Dunning on this. Under any of the offered translations, the fact that such extreme effort is required to parse and interpret what was said to give it a benign  meaning is reason enough to condemn what was said and identify it for what it was–not an arguably justified condemnation of the actions of the Israeli government but a direct attack against Jews

  14. Keith O

    Rabbi Shmary Brownstein and his wife Sorele are the leaders of the Chabad in Davis. They say they’ve been on guard since the video was posted online. Their family is now being harassed by drivers passing by their home, which is also a house of worship.
    “Cars driving by screaming ‘eff you!’,” said Rabbi Mendy Cohen of Chabad in Sacramento.
    He worries it will escalate.
    “This is what we suffered throughout the years. We’re not going to let Davis become like the neighborhoods in Paris where police can’t go,” said Cohen.


    1. Howard P

      Sure seems to be ‘personal’ for you… not a matter of detached righteousness/justice/intellectual concern… just saying…

      I understand where it might be personal to some… on any/all those levels… for some, ‘unconscious bias’?

      Look forward to what Hamza says to David, to the extent David can put it on the record… when/if Hamza shares his thoughts with me, will keep them in confidence…

    2. Keith O

      Not personal at all, I’m just posting articles and quotes of how others in town and elsewhere see this.  I have not made any judgements, in fact I’m the first one on here to call for a neutral party to do a full translation of the speech.  But unlike others I’m not ready to just say it was all taken out of context and forgive and forget until I see proof.

      I tend to agree with Eric Gelber above until I see proof otherwise..

      1. Howard P

        If it (unconscious bias) exists… not convinced ‘unconscious bias’ exists (that’s why I put a question mark in!).  Except perhaps for the ‘unconscious folk’… am pretty damn aware of my biases… and people who lie, or spout partial truths to fit their agenda I am strongly biased against.  Am very conscious of that…

        I am also very suspicious of Faux Spews Fox News, Breitbart, and the Washington Times.  But I am conscious of that, and the reasons why…

        I prefer things like Snopes.com, primary sources… a very conscious bias.

        I have a very conscious bias against accepting opinions/’facts’ from folk who strut (and particularly those who are ‘sneaky’ about their ‘allegiance’)  ‘conservative’/’liberal’, or “party” creds.  I look for facts before coming up with my version of ‘truth’.  And I do expect folk to consider my ‘facts’, but have zero expectations as to whether others decide whether I speak ‘truth’.

        Back to topic…

        MEMRI, to my view, based on looking at their website, their ‘creds’, has no credibility… less than 3 minutes of a ~ 55 minute address… with a question about veracity of translation, including by someone, reluctant to even opine, but who I strongly suspect looked at the short version objectively and knowledgeably … I watched the entire video, as I said… suspect you haven’t so I breached my assertion that I’d not respond to those who haven’t… mea culpa (X #3).


  15. David Greenwald

    I just spoke to Hamza and he confirmed he was offended by the comments.  There was going to be a press conference today, but that is delayed.  There is evidently going to be an apology by the Imam but there is language that the Jewish community wants to hear and they are working on it.

    1. Howard P

      Thank you… Hamza I trust…

      He was instrumental in the Children of Abraham effort that came out of the aftermath of 9/11… others locally included a number of local members of the local ‘faith community’, including, but not limited to Rabbi Wolf, and Fr Boll.  I know of several others who have helped organize the effort…

      Anyone can “do a stupid”… and needs to own up to it, if/when it happens.

      Bottom line… people need to talk and engage at a local level… and focus on the commonalities, not the differences, and to reject those who are prone to ‘drive wedges’… I believe MEMRI likes to drive wedges…

      [ex. they [MEMRI] said nothing about references to the ‘Christian’ Crusaders , who were clearly excoriated (likely, appropriately so, in retrospect), yet no mention in the piece. Am thinking that was no ‘accident’]


      1. David Greenwald

        It’s encouraging that the Islamic Center is working with the Jewish community, I’ll be interested to see what comes of this. Hamza said that he had never seen this problem with the Imam before.

      2. Robin W.

        Howard — Time to back off your groundless attacks on MEMRI. The comments in the early part of the sermon to Christian Crusaders were critical of actions many, many centuries ago. There were no calls in the sermon to annihilate/destroy Christians.  The last ten minutes of the sermon were a call to action against Jews.

        1. Howard P

          Robin… do you realize that only 70 years ago, ‘christian’ churches were ‘praying’ for the “perfidious Jews”?  That recently politicians have called for the Bans of all Muslims to have visas? That domestically, Muslim (and Sihks and Jews) have been attacked/killed and their houses of worship desecrated?  We have modern ‘crusaders’, just not called that…

  16. Robin W.

    David — With all the snarky comments from you and others assuming (without evidence) that MEMRI’s translation is biased and therefore could not be accurate, I do not understand why we have yet to see a new translation posted by a single one of the numerous speakers of Arabic in Davis (or elsewhere).  

    The “statement” released by Islamic Center contends that the word translated as “annihilate” (in the phrase “annihilate the Jews”) should have been translated as “destroy,” but offered no other translation.

    The daughter of a poster (who, we were told, is reticent to get involved) provided us with her take on the context of a few lines in the sermon, as well as her view that the word translated by MEMRI as “filth” (in the phrase “the filth of the Jews”) could mean “dirty” but more properly should be translated as “the desecration/sullying of the Jews.”

    But we have nothing more in the way of translation — although we have seen the comments by Hamza El-Nakhal, a native Arabic speaker and former president of the Islamic Center’s executive board, critical of the disturbing, divisive comments in the sermon.  

    Are there no Arabic speakers who are willing to provide a translation of the entire sermon? That speaks volumes.

    Howard – I watched the entire sermon. Watching the entire thing does not make the offensive, threatening language in the last 10 minutes any less offensive or threatening.

    1. David Greenwald

      My comment wasn’t snarky, MEMRI has an agenda. That makes them suspect as a source. I withheld judgment on the accuracy until I had a way to substantiate it. It now appears that they were correct.

      1. Robin W.

        No, David. You started off almost neutral in your presentation. But your later posted comments expressed both an extreme conclusion re MEMRI’s “agenda” and bias, and extreme skepticism regarding the MEMRI translation — that there is no way it could be accurate. Then you relied on your personal relationship with DIC as support for the position that the MEMRI translation couldn’t possibly be accurate.

        1. Keith O

          For me I found it hard to believe that MEMRI would dare chance putting out a false translation press release of the Imam’s speech.  They would become irrelevant and chance being litigated against for defamation. That’s why I figured there was something to what they stated.

  17. Hider Noori

    “Did the Imam call for the annihilation of the Jews?” Yes. As an Arab American I can tell you (and challenge you to prove otherwise) that he did. The language in his sermon is unambiguous as it can be. I grew up hearing this anti-jew sentiment in my native country (Iraq) and it’s not even a big deal there or in any other Arab country.

    The question is, even if I or anyone else, would convince you that he did in-fact call for the demise of the Jews (not even Israelis in particular but…THA Jews) what would be your reaction? Nothing, I believe. Too weak to defend the liberal principles you pretend to defend. Sorry.

    I’m an independent and have ZERO good words to say about the GOP or Trump but just surf the main news outlets since the Imam’s incident. This morning, all major news have reported this random North Dakota middle age woman for saying she’ll kill all Muslims. Terrible of course. But how many have reported on this Imam? No one in the left-leaning media of course.

    Let us all be realistic here. This Imam will keep his job. And chances are if it was, say, a Christian or Hindu or whoever clergy man who called for the annihilation of Muslims, well, you do the math judging by that North Dakota woman story.

    PS if you need help translating into Arabic, you can contact me or any of the UCD Arab students. You know you could.

  18. Hider Noori

    An idea here:
    For those who are disputing the MEMRI translation, do the following: write the most incendiary/controversial words of the sermon on a piece of paper…walk up to any given UCD Arab students (there’s a lot of us there) and ask them for the meaning instead of bickering about it with yourselves. No need for Mr. Hamza or any other person who’s related to the UCD Islamic center OR MEMRI for that matter.
    Again, the question is, how far you do you really want to dig, Mr. Greenwald. Not too deep, if I’m right.

    1. Howard P

      If we don’t speak Arabic, how would we know

      the most incendiary/controversial words of the sermon  ????

      Oh, and Hamza is his first name, not his surname…

  19. Hider Noori

    I guess it doesn’t matter now, does it? 🙂
    I hope this will conclude this mini-debacle you guys experiencing here.
    Regarding my suggestion, I thought you guys had the transcripts. I know I’ve read them somewhere online yesterday.

    Now, let us all sit back and watch while our beloved Imam keeps his job of preaching love and tolerance to the Jews, gays and apostates the same way his fellow Imams do in the Middle East 🙂

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