So the JPost website had another front page story up a few days ago about my favorite Zionist Sheikh Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi. I love this guy. He says all the things that so desparately need to be said by Muslims about Islamists, hatred and terror, and he's a very strong supporter of Israel. What more could we ask for?
Well, maybe a little better background checking. If you snoop around enough, you can find plenty of questions about Palazzi's credentials and background. I do notice that three of his more questionable credentials ("Secretary General of the Italian Muslim Association," "Resident Professor of Middle East Studies, Research Institute for Anthropological Sciences, Rome" and "lecturer in the Department of the History of Religion at the University of Velletri in Rome") no longer seem to be included in his resume. Good for him, because the first group disavows any connection with him (though it's clear he was there up until August, 2003, when new leadership took over) and the latter two institutions don't appear to exist.
Palazzi showed up last week on Daniel Pipes' website with a comment entitled "I agree with Daniel Pipes." I'm glad to see that Palazzi doesn't hold a grudge. A few years back, he attacked Dr. Pipes rather vehemently and sent the attack 'round the world (via a rather extensive email list). Since then, that (rather odd) attack has been published on the web, together with Dr. Pipes' response (which includes the word "fruitcake"). (For the record, that's when and why I started questioning who Palazzi really was.)
As for the organization that he clearly is affiliated with (the Islam-Israel Fellowship of The Root and Branch Association, Ltd.), it appears to be only a shadow its former self, but take a look anyway. It used to have quite a lavish website with a rather impressive international board of directors. Not any more.
And yet, Palazzi has been defended by a number of distinguished people, among them Irshad Manji, Nonie Darwish and even Jeff Jacoby. I'd put more stock in such supportive statements if they reflected any personal knowledge of the man or his background.
Then there's the other end of the spectrum, represented by this attack site (frames -- and unless you read Italian, you have to scroll down and click on "VERSIONE IN LINGUA INGLESE" to get to the English version). Not buying most of that, either, especially since the author's sympathies seem to lie somewhat to the left of Marx, but she's collected a fascinating list of accusations against Palazzi, including Holocaust denial sympathies, UFO cult membership and association with known Israeli right-wing "extremists."
And in that vein, I see the Post also saw fit to publish this strange piece of self-promotion by Palazzi's buddy Barry Chamish, a raving conspiracy-theorist who is perhaps best known for his claim that Yigal Amir didn't assassinate Yitzhak Rabin (Shimon Peres did it). Palazzi's Root & Branch Association organized and sponsored a conference promoting that claim* back in 2000. Chamish seems to think it's an idea whose time has come. (For balance, the Post also published this analysis of Chamish's conspiracy theories by Steven Plaut -- highly recommended.) (*yes, that's David Irving's website)
Don't get me wrong. I would love for Sheikh Palazzi to be the real deal, and I've been trying to find some hard evidence one way or the other for a few years now. So far, it doesn't look so good.