Human Events, by Deborah Weiss, August 8, 2015:
Americans are clearly alarmed about Islamic terrorists who are encouraging and spreading violence across the globe, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as relentlessly threatening violence to the United States. So readers might be surprised to learn that organizations which sympathize and associate with jihadists are yielded a major say over what the film industry says about Islam and Muslims.
Hollywood, for instance, regularly capitulates to The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on how to portray Muslims, even though many in CAIR’s leadership are sympathetic to Islamic terrorists. As Steve Pomerantz, the FBI’s former Chief of Counterterrorism, has bluntly stated: “CAIR, its leaders, and its activities effectively give aid to international terrorist groups.”
CAIR’s connection to the Holy Land Foundation is central to this assessment. On May 27, 2009, U.S. District Judge Jorge A. Solis sentenced the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) and five of its leaders on convictions of providing material support to Hamas, an Islamic terrorist group whose charter vows to obliterate the State of Israel through violence. CAIR was labeled an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the HLF trial, the largest terrorist financing trial in the history of the United States.
Additionally, several of CAIR’s former leaders are now in jail on terror-related convictions. Moreover, virtually all of CAIR’s leadership supports Hamas and Hezbollah, both of which are United States – designated terrorist organizations. Nevertheless, CAIR is actively instructing Hollywood on how to depict Islam and Muslims.
Nihad Awad, Founding Member of CAIR and current Executive Director of CAIR National, boasts that he has successfully negotiated with Hollywood to combat “negative stereotypes of Muslims.” In a 2010 speech, Awad made the inaccurate claim that one Hollywood company created in the prior three decades 800 films that presented Muslims from “an Israeli point of view.” In fact, no Hollywood company can be found to have created that many films of any type.
Here are some examples of CAIR’s successes in Hollywood:
Paramount Pictures’ “Sum of All Fears” was based on a book by Tom Clancy and starred Ben Affleck. The original plot was about Muslim terrorists who shot down an Israeli jet flying over Syria, which was carrying nuclear weapons.
CAIR complained about “negative stereotyping of Muslims” and lobbied to get the script changed for two years prior to the film’s release. Eventually, the villains were altered from Muslim terrorists to Australian neo-Nazis.
Twentieth Century Fox produced “True Lies,” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis, a movie about an Islamic terrorist and a spy with an unfaithful wife.
CAIR demanded a meeting with the producers. When it was declined, CAIR issued leaflets and held numerous activities protesting the film. Eventually, FOX made a disclaimer stating that the film is a work of fiction and doesn’t represent the actions or beliefs of any particular religion.
“Kingdom of Heaven,” also produced by Twentieth Century FOX, starred Liam Neeson and Orlando Bloom. It concerned the Crusades and the battle for Jerusalem.
To avoid problems, the producers gave CAIR a special pre-screening of the film and hired a Muslim consultant who is anti-Israel and believes America is a racist society. Accordingly, several scenes were cut prior to the film’s release. In the end, the movie was a skewed account of the Crusades, not only depicting the Christians as murderers and hypocrites, but the Muslims as morally superior.
CAIR-NY has gone so far as to demand that CBS stop airing all films, TV and radio shows on the subject of Islamic terrorism, whether fact or fiction, claiming that these “defame” Muslims. CAIR-NY argued that the shows cause discrimination and subject Muslim children to harassment. “Not Without My Daughter,” starring Sally Field, and several Chuck Norris movies were among the films that CAIR wanted off the air. To boycott all CBS radio and TV shows from both the CBS News and entertainment divisions as well as their advertisers, CAIR-NY started an online petition. Consequently, CBS changed the title of a Chuck Norris film, telling the Los Angeles Times in 2003 that in an upcoming film on terrorism it would remove all portrayals of Muslims.
“24 Hours” was a hit syndicated TV series produced for the FOX Channel. It was about a counter-terrorism agent who tried to thwart cyber, biological and chemical terrorist attacks. It won numerous awards, including a Golden Globe and an Emmy. It showed villains from a range of backgrounds, including German, Russian, American and Muslim.
After one episode which portrayed a Muslim family as part of a sleeper cell, CAIR met with FOX to complain. FOX capitulated, cutting additional scenes that presented Muslims negatively. FOX also issued a statement explaining that the show is fiction and assumes people can distinguish fiction from reality. FOX also allowed CAIR to air public service announcements of Muslims from different ethnicities, stating “I am an American Muslim”.
It’s important to understand that none of these films alleged all Muslims are terrorists. But CAIR wants no Muslims to be viewed in this light. And it’s obviously unconcerned with reciprocity, like discouraging the negative stereotyping of Jews that is rampant in the Arab media.
The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), founded by Muslim Brotherhood members, has condemned as a “crime” the Oslo accords in which the Palestine Liberation Organization agreed to recognize the State of Israel. Moreover, MPAC officially opposed the designation of both Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations, giving Palestinian violence a pass, and repeatedly condemning Israel’s defense of itself against the onslaught of thousands of rockets launched from Gaza. According to MPAC, the greatest violence taking place in Gaza and the West Bank is Israeli “occupation” and its leadership has likened Israel to Nazi Germany.
Yet, MPAC has a Hollywood Bureau which indoctrinates film-makers on Islam and offers consultations for script approval. It also provides awards to those in Hollywood who depict Islam and Muslims in a positive light. Past winners have included Alec Baldwin and Michael Moore. The bureau also connects aspiring film makers, writers and actors with Hollywood professionals and provides Muslim youth with tips on how to succeed in business.
Both new media and traditional media, including Hollywood movies, influence young minds and help shape their worldviews. Instead of appeasing Islamist organizations, Hollywood should fight for classical liberal values, including free speech, artistic license and critical thinking. It should not be complicit with Islamist groups that aim to persuade America there is no such thing as Islamic terrorism.