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Imam Rauf, the Ground Zero Mosque, and National Security

It would be a bad idea to allow an asset controlled by American adversaries to be built anywhere in the United States.

1:28 PM, Aug 20, 2010 • By LEE SMITH
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To be sure, the Arab masses appreciate Iranian-backed resistance to Israel and the United States (while the ruling Arab regimes fear Tehran’s regional ambitions), but that hardly means that they are willing to dispense with their confessional identities and fall in with a specifically Shia and Persian political project. Even the Hamas leadership has to calibrate carefully its relationship with its Iranian patrons lest it ruffle Palestinian Sunni sensibilities. The truly distinguished clerics in the region emphasize the sectarian fault-lines, like Al Jazeera’s tele-preacher Yussef al-Qaradawi whose calumnies against Jews are rivaled only by his anti-Shia invective. Why doesn’t Rauf get it? Perhaps the self-described Sufi is the avant-garde of an Islamic ecumenism. More likely, he is just the iteration of a type, familiar both in the Arabic-speaking Middle East and New York real estate circles—he’s an operator. To be all things to all people is to avoid alienating potential donors—like the Arab elite that supports Hamas, and the Islamic Republic of Iran’s business sectors.

Perhaps this is why the State Department has tapped Rauf as its man in the region—not as an unofficial envoy to spread the good word of American Islam, but to have access to his iPhone, just as Rauf’s contacts suppose he will provide them access the other way around. In any case, it would be a bad idea to allow an asset controlled by American adversaries to be built anywhere in the United States, including lower Manhattan.

Lee Smith is the author of The Strong Horse: Power, Politics, and the Clash of Arab Civilizations

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