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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Shalahuddin Shoaib Choudhury, Proud to be a Zionist

By Seth Mandel
Nov. 9, 2007
Our readers may remember our front-page article on him back in August. As a quick refresher, Choudhury is a Bangladeshi journalist who was arrested in 2003 for attempting to fly to Tel Aviv. But instead of the minor fine that would normally come with a "passport violation" in Bangladesh, Choudhury was imprisoned, beaten, tortured, starved, and deprived of medical attention for his broken bones and glaucoma.
The reason: Choudhury writes pro-Israel and pro-Jewish columns for his newspaper, The Weekly Blitz, and he speaks out against Islamism, violence, and corruption.
He was put on trial for treason, sedition, espionage, and blasphemy -- essentially for being a "Zionist spy." With the help of Dr. Richard L. Benkin, a Chicago-area analyst for a workers' compensation administrator, Choudhury's cause became public, though the Bangladeshi government has yet to fulfill its promise to drop the charges, and they are proceeding with the trial.
In the hopes that Choudhury will accept political asylum in the United States or Canada (among others), Bangladeshi authorities are granting him occasional travel permits. He won't accept asylum, however, no matter how often they try to get rid of him. He wants to fight the battles where they are, even if it means giving his life to do so.
Choudhury was back in the states at the end of October, and has been speaking about the dangers of ignoring Islamists and appeasing terrorists, as well as the right of the state of Israel to be a Jewish state.
Sometimes you can tell the character of a person by the company he keeps. At a Hudson Institute-sponsored luncheon at Manhattan's Four Seasons restaurant on Oct. 30, Choudhury was seated next to Elie Wiesel. Benkin -- a hero himself -- and Naomi Ragen were at another table, and people such as Dr. Alex Grobman, the president of the Institute for Contemporary Jewish Life, were seated around the room as well.
Grobman is the author of "Nations United: How the United Nations Undermines Israel and the West", and Choudhury -- the man everyone came to see -- addressed that subject immediately.
"The United Nations is a diaper -- it is too dirty, we need to dispose of it," he told the audience. He said it without a laugh, because he wasn't joking. Choudhury is as honest as they come, and his disdain for Islamists, terrorist apologists, and anti-Semites was obvious.
The thousands of Bangladeshi madrassas, he told the audience, are "giving birth to thousands and thousands of jihadists, and nobody cares."
When he started speaking out against what he saw as a perversion of Islam and of justice, he said, people called him an idiot.
"I am proud to be an idiot," is his response.
That's because the Islamists, who are teaching Muslims to hate Jews, Christians, and especially Israel, are perpetrating more than hate speech. In 2005, a madrassa teacher raped a 9-year-old girl. During the investigation, the madrassa faculty explained to police that the girl's family was Jewish, and the charges would offend their "religious sensibilities."
Choudhury's response to them: "If raping a 9-year-old girl has something to do with your religious sensibilities, you are worshiping a perverted god."
Because he dared to be an "idiot", that madrassa teacher is now in prison.
In another of many incidents, an Indian woman, who was an employee of Saudi Arabian Airlines, was sexually harassed by her Saudi co-workers. The Saudi government's response was to open their arms and invite the woman to join their royal harem.
But Choudhury covered the story, which was then picked up by the Indian press, and the woman is now free and receiving compensation.
What an "idiot", huh?
But maybe his greatest attribute of "idiocy" is his insistence on being a Muslim Zionist. He is adamant in his belief that Israel is the rightful homeland of the Jewish people, and he understands the danger Israelis face everyday surrounded by their Islamist neighbors, sworn to Israel's destruction.
And so he chides those would support giving Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a platform to spread his hate. He admonishes those who would blame American meddling or Israeli actions for the anti-Semitic and anti-West hate that fills the hearts of Islamists, and he castigates those who would deny that Western civilization is in the terrorists' crosshairs.
"You are not angry," he told the audience at the Four Seasons. "My brothers and sisters here, please become angry."
What would we say to Choudhury if he would pick up Tikkun magazine or the Ha'aretz newspaper and read about how important it is for us to give our enemies land when they try to destroy ours, or give our enemies guns when they shoot at our children, or give our enemies transportation when they blow up our buses, or give our enemies recognition when they deny our right to exist?
What could we say? Who would be the idiot then?
Netta Kohn Dror-Shav authored a 1998 policy paper for the Ariel Center for Policy Research titled "The Ultimate Enemy -- Jews Against Jews". In it, she explores several defense mechanisms through which Jews drift toward their enemies. Denial, she wrote, "leads to avoidance of recognizing the actual inherent dangers, and causes a virtual cognitive distortion of reality."
Basic lack of security, she wrote, causes many Israelis to grasp at any offer for peace, disregarding the enemy's conduct in favor of its temporary rhetoric.
Anxiety, Dror-Shav wrote, propels Jews toward "a resolution -- any resolution -- that puts an end to the uncertainty and thus serves to relieve the anxiety in some way."
Lack of confidence, dependency, passivity, guilt, the "good child complex" (the need for approval from everyone), and Jewish self-hatred are also categories Dror-Shav includes in her report. But the most striking one, in my opinion, was this: identification with the aggressor.
Identification with the aggressor is "pernicious", she wrote, because it causes us to abandon our own sense of self and identity, and instead live vicariously through our enemy's struggle because we project the righteousness of our own struggle onto our foe.
And what comes with our enemy's righteousness is the sinister character of those who still cling to the original Jewish struggle, in this case Zionism. Anything that gets in the way of our enemy's acceptance (those darned settlers!) and the subsequent security (come on, it's not like there are that many rockets falling on our heads) is considered, as Dror-Shav called it, "the ultimate 'enemy'."
Choudhury may call himself, in the words of his detractors, an "idiot", but he is clearly no fool. He sees the situation in the crystallized beauty of truth, without an ounce of psychological projection.
He wants to remain a thorn in the side of the Islamists, and he insists that his suffering has been "minor" -- though he must wear special dark glasses because his glaucoma went untreated for so long, and when his mother passed away while he was in prison in Dhaka, instead of letting him attend the funeral and say goodbye, they tortured him some more, calling him a "son of a b---- Israeli agent".
Yet, he calls Jews his brothers and sisters, he displays a shofar and the text of the Torah in his house, he signs his emails "shalom uvracha", and he dreams of going to Israel.
In fact, in August, Choudhury told me that although his passport stated that he was allowed to travel to any country except Israel, he found the idea simply ridiculous that after not giving in to the Islamists he would surrender to a piece of paper.
"I will visit Israel," he told me. "The passport is not the last word. I will visit. That is my dream; that has to be accomplished."
For now, he travels back to face those who want him dead -- and have the power to make that happen. But he doesn't tone down his rhetoric; he believes that Islamist terrorism isn't only Israel's problem, it is the world's. But Israel, he insists, is on the front lines, and we owe it to the world we are trying to heal to stand foursquare behind the Jewish state.
It might serve us well to have moments of such "idiocy."
"I say Israel is for the Jews," Choudhury said. "People call me a Zionist, and I am proud to be. What is wrong with that?"

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors. Originally posted at Please do link to these articles, quote from them and forward them by email to friends with this notice. Other uses require written permission of the author.


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