Shifting the focus to evangelicals here simply sweeps the matter under the rug.
Ahmed Tharwat's timing is impeccable. His Dec. 18 commentary "Stop fearing the Muslim Brotherhood" insulted Christians and Jews alike during a season when Christmas and Hanukkah overlap.
On his way to whitewashing the Muslim Brotherhood, Tharwat cast broad aspersions against "racist" evangelicals.
Perhaps Tharwat believes that such racism exists because, according to a Pew survey taken earlier this year, "[n]early two-thirds of white evangelical Protestants (64%) say helping to protect Israel should be a very important policy goal for the United States in the Middle East."
(Under the same logic, Tharwat must believe that Americans in general are racist. After all, responding to a 2010 Gallup poll, "63% [of all Americans surveyed] say their sympathies in the Middle East situation lie more with the Israelis than with the Palestinians.")
If this makes evangelicals "racist," it makes the hurler of such a canard no better than those who supported the heinous and since-rescinded 1975 U.N. resolution equating Zionism -- the legitimate aspiration of the Jewish people, like the German, Norwegian or Somali people, to have a nation of their own -- with racism.
Moreover, gratuitously wrapping Newt Gingrich around an anti-evangelical screed makes no sense, since the vast majority of American supporters of Israel, (and Israelis, for that matter) support a two-state solution and recognize the national aspirations of Palestinians.
It would be interesting to learn if Tharwat reciprocates with respect to the Jewish people. Certainly, to put it mildly, the Muslim Brotherhood sees no room for even one Jewish nation within its future Islamic caliphate.
History also counsels great wariness of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Jewish Virtual Library notes the Brotherhood's founder, Hassan al-Banna, was a "devout admirer" of Adolf Hitler. (This was not unusual in the Arab world, with the spiritual leader of the Palestinian Arabs, the Grand Mufti, spending the war as a Nazi collaborator in Berlin, which later earned him an indictment as a war criminal.)
More than anti-Semites, historically, the Muslim Brotherhood also sought to overthrow all non-Islamic governments and to make Islamic law (sharia) the sole basis of jurisprudence everywhere on Earth.
After all, Al-Banna himself wrote: "[It] is the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated, to impose its law on all nations and to extend its power to the entire planet."
Here in the United States, federal prosecutors in their prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation for funding Hamas and other "Islamic terrorist organizations" noted repeatedly that the Texas-based organization, like Hamas, was "born in the bosom of the Muslim Brotherhood."
Seventy years later, the rise of the Brotherhood in the wake of the fall of Hosni Mubarak (a good thing, ending the humiliation of the Egyptian people under his autocracy) has been associated with the persecution of Egypt's ancient Coptic Christian community, attacks on Israel's embassy in Cairo and the understandable angst of Egyptians who fear seeing their 5,000-year-old civilization devolve into theocracy.
If Tharwat advises not fearing the Brotherhood, there are many Egyptians rejecting his suggestion.
For example, Amira Nowaira, an Egyptian scholar and feminist, recently wrote in the Guardian -- a British newspaper notorious for its hostility to Israel -- that "[as] Egyptians lie dying, the Brotherhood's blatant self-interest and arrogance is exposing them to public scrutiny and scorn."
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Steve Hunegs is the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.