In a piece so puffy and naive that it bears more resemblance to Lil Abner’s Daisy Mae than to its actual subject, the Sunday Times profiled Daisy Khan, wife of the Imam and co-spearheader of the Ground Zero Mosque. Born in Kashmir to an upper-class family, Ms.Khan emigrated to Jericho, land of the Jews when she was 16. No, not the Jericho on the west bank - the Jericho in Long Island which in this article is treated as a shtetl with a high school full of Yids and nary a Christmas tree to be found. The parochial Jews taunted young Miss Daisy, asking whether she rode a camel or an elephant and making her defend her religion to the whole class. Too bad that the work ethic of those studious Jews didn’t rub off on Daisy who dropped out of Long Island University to become a decorator (here described as earning a degree from the New York School of Design - no relation to the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design.) A brief one sentence later, Daisy is elevated to an architectural designer who could be found habitually brunching with her Muslim friends at Zabar’s and Barney Greengrass. Never mind that there are no tables to brunch at in Zabar’s, a careless lapse in Daisy’s fabrication and a worse one on the part of the Times’ fact checker. In the interest of full disclosure, I was born and bred on the upper west side, and never, not one single time,have I seen a table of young Muslim architectural designers and their confreres noshing on bagels at Barney Greengrass or picking up some whitefish at Zabar’s. Perhaps the reporter, Michael Grynbaum, is too green to know what these places were like in the 80’s but that’s no excuse for our Daisy trying to showboat her ecumenicism by poaching on revered Jewish culinary temples.
Quick as you can say kashe varnishkes, Daisy discovered the little mosque on West Broadway where she used to sneak away for afternoon prayers and a chance to socialize with its Imam and before you know it, she and the Imam were starting a non-profit to help other Muslims become more progressive and familiar with chopped liver. And then they were wed, a brief nine years after Daisy re-discovered her Muslim roots and the burgeoning personal profit in non-profits. The article omits mention of a few salient facts about the Imam’s not for profit religious foundation - namely, that the dwelling where he claimed 500 people congregated for prayer meetings which qualified him for that status, was in reality a small apartment in a residential building on west 85th street, conveniently located to both Greengrass and Zabar’s but barely able to contain an audience of ten. There is also no mention of the Imam as slumlord in New Jersey where his citations and fines could fill several tureens of borscht. Not a whisper about the Sharia Project, to which the Imam has dedicated himself for many years and which will occupy several floors in the projected mosque building.
Daisy and the Imam have discovered that the one thing Jews love even more than hamantaschen and danish is interfaith dialogue and so they yearn to create a center modeled on the JCC, the Jewish Community Center across the street from the Riverside Funeral Chapel and one block north of the Israeli humus restaurant and Fairway. Their Muslim spinoff would be around the corner from Ground Zero, in a building hit by debris from one of the attacking planes, just three blocks from the appetizing store on Chambers street. And many Jews applaud them, including the JCC, the head of the Tanenbaum Center for Intereligious Understanding, J Street and a guy named Bloomberg who insists that this mosque is essential in order for the American constitution to survive, an opinion with which our president vociferously concurs.
Daisy has been subject to great stress because it seems that America is Islamophobic and many of us don’t think it’s kosher to put a triumphal mosque in such proximity to the killing field where almost 3,000 people were murdered by Muslims. Daisy has trouble sleeping and is scared to turn on the t.v. The main thing that neither Daisy nor Mr. Grynbaum ever mention in his parody of a profile is how the surviving families of 9/11 have slept for the past nine years and why any of us should worry about Daisy’s anxieties compared with theirs and ours. Or, how the same person who refers to this controversy as a personal “affliction” could be interviewed for an article spanning three pages of the illustrious Style section without one word of sorrow for the victims, one word of fury for the ongoing Islamic assaults against Americans and other people throughout the world or one word of opprobrium for the concept of jihad.
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