Irish investigative journalist and author Maidhc O' Cathail believes that the efforts made to stoke Islamophobic sentiments across the world are aimed at fueling a Clash of Civilizations and strife between the Muslim world and the West.
"These provocations serve to incite and advance a Clash of Civilizations between the West and Islam - a concocted conflict in which Israel self-servingly portrays itself in the front lines of a war in defense of civilization against the medieval forces of radical Islam," said O' Cathail in an exclusive interview with Fars News Agency.
What follows is the text of Fars News Agency's interview with Maidhc ? Cathail who has commented on the offensive movie and its international repercussions.
Q: Dear Maidhc, what's your viewpoint regarding the anti-Islam movie "Innocence of Muslims" which sparked international outrage among Muslims? Who do you think was behind this movie and sponsored it? Who may potentially benefit from the release and widespread distribution of such a blasphemous movie?
A: First of all, it appears that "Innocence of Muslims" is not a movie - nor even a "trailer" for a movie -- as has been widely reported. It's just a 15 minute YouTube video comprised of gratuitous scenes depicting the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and his followers in the most insulting manner. It was clearly made with the intention of provoking Muslims worldwide.
At first glance, it appears that the video was the work of American-based Coptic Christians and rightwing Christian evangelicals. But on closer inspection, it turns out that many of the people involved in its making and distribution have close ties to the Islamophobia network led by Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, whose Jihad Watch group is funded by a former trustee of the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's comments on the issue in interviews on American TV and in his speech to the UN General Assembly made it quite clear who benefits. In that speech, Netanyahu claimed that Israel's desire for "a Middle East of progress and peace" was opposed by "the medieval forces of radical Islam, whom you just saw storming the American embassies throughout the Middle East." Around the same time, posters sponsored by the pro-Israeli provocateur Pamela Geller appeared in New York subways urging support for "civilized" Israel in its war against "savage" Muslims.
Q: Just a few days after the release of the anti-Islam video, the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo published offensive cartoons of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). Do you see any connection between these provocative actions? Why has Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) come under fire from the Western propaganda machinery?
A: In psyops, timing is everything. Charlie Hebdo's publication of the offensive cartoons was clearly intended to throw petrol on the fire lit by the provocative video. Closer study of what you refer to as "Western propaganda machinery" would no doubt reveal a pro-Israeli source of these slights on the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). These provocations serve to incite and advance a "Clash of Civilizations" between the West and Islam -- a concocted conflict in which Israel self-servingly portrays itself in the front lines of a war in defense of civilization against "the medieval forces of radical Islam."
Q: There's a viewpoint that the Western world intends to dissociate Muslims from their sanctities and religious beliefs and that's why they have targeted the holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) in such a pejorative way. They want to make the Islamic countries move towards secularization and abandoning their God-inspired values. What's your take on that?
A: In this context, the use of terms such as "the Western world" only serves to obscure who is deliberately pitting the West against Islam. Netanyahu's UN speech depicting a struggle between "the forces of modernity" and "the forces of medievalism" leaves little doubt as to who is driving this perceived clash of values.
Q: The Western media justified the distribution of the blasphemous movie and cartoons in terms of "freedom of speech." At the same time, we know of many books or movies which were banned in the US and UK in the past 50 years for their offensive and sacrilegious content. What do you think?
A: Again, using terms such as "the Western media" only serves to advance the Zionist-inspired narrative of a "Clash of Civilizations." Instead, it would be far more productive to examine the influence that those with an undisclosed pro-Israel bias have on media in Western countries. To cite one example among many, few viewers of CNN are aware that Wolf Blitzer formerly worked for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) or that he wrote a sympathetic book on Jonathan Pollard, the Israeli agent who did more damage to US national security than any spy in history.
Q: In his speech "A New Beginning" delivered in Cairo, President Obama had promised that he would start a new era of reconciliation with the Muslim world with the objective of improving the image of the United States in the eyes of Muslims across the world. However, it seems that he has failed to adhere to his promise. Do you agree?
A: Any analysis of President Obama's record on relations with the Muslim world needs to take into account the tremendous difficulties any US president faces in trying to pursue an even-handed policy in the Middle East due to the oversized influence of the pro-Israel lobby. The concerted campaign to prevent Obama's re-election led by Netanyahu is evidence that from an Israeli perspective the president has still been far too friendly to the perceived enemies of the Jewish state.
The video had only been screened to a tiny audience in California before President Obama knew anything about it. After its posting on YouTube sparked anti-American riots, White House officials asked Google to reconsider whether the video had violated YouTube's terms of service. Google refused. In seeking a possible motive for Google's refusal, it's worth noting that co-founder Sergey Brin -- who has said his family emigrated from the Soviet Union because of anti-Semitism -- took Israeli President Shimon Peres on a special tour of the company's headquarters in August this year.
Q: Can we say that the West has embarked on criminalizing and demonizing Islam and Muslims because this popular religion is posing a threat to their unilateral social, economic and political dominance over the world's countries, especially the developing nations?
A: Fear of Islam is being stoked primarily by agents and assets of Israel in order to induce Americans to keep fighting and paying for Israel's wars of hegemony in the Middle East.
Q: It's said that the anti-Islam movie was produced with the financial assistance of 100 Jewish donors who contributed $5 million to the movie. What's your assessment of this fact? In what ways do the Israelis benefit from the denigration and desecration of Islam and Muslims' beliefs?
It's revealing that this story -- not "fact" -- was initially reported by the Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal, two media outlets well-known for their pro-Israel bias. Almost immediately, Jeffrey Goldberg, an influential correspondent for The Atlantic magazine who has served in the Israel Defense Forces, "debunked" the story by citing an interviewee who assured him that "the State of Israel is not involved."
Pro-Israel groups such as the Anti-Defamation League and CAMERA then criticized the (pro-Israel) media for spreading anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about the video. Even if, as now seems likely, pro-Israelis were behind the making and distribution of the video, the "debunked" original false story of Israeli involvement makes it more difficult, if not impossible, to get people to look again at facts that do indeed point to actual Israeli involvement.
* Maidhc O' Cathail is an Irish investigative journalist and Middle East analyst. His work has been published by Antiwar.com, Arab News, Forward Magazine (Syria), Journal of Turkish Weekly, Khaleej Times, Ma'an News Agency, Middle East Monitor, Palestine Chronicle, Tehran Times, The Nation (Pakistan), Washington Report on Middle East Affairs and many more. O' Cathail is also the creator and editor of The Passionate Attachment blog, which focuses primarily on the US-Israeli relationship. He has been interviewed by Press TV, Sahar TV, RTE Raidio na Gaeltachta, and California National Public Radio station KZYX.
Interview by Kourosh Ziabari