Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury: More Dialogue

I received another email from Rabbi Sue Levy. I wanted once again to share our continuing conversation with the reader. I thank Rabbi Levy for the opportunity to engage her in discussion about Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury.

Rabbi Levy’s email is below followed by my response:

Dear Mr. Rahman,
It’s obvious to me that no words of mine will persuade you of Shoaib Choudhury’s goodness and that no word’s of your’s will persuade me of the contrary, so we won’t accomplish anything by continuing our conversation about him.
I do want to make you aware of one point. The people who support Shoaib come from a broad spectrum of opinion about Israel and everything else. I don’t agree with Sheikh Palazzi in his position about Israel and the Palestinians. In the Jewish community, we have our liberals and our fundamentalists. Those of us who are liberals do not take every word of Torah as God’s revealed word, and we do not operate from an assumption that God gave us the land of Israel. We do believe that it is our homeland, since Jews have been there continuously for more than three thousand years. Having said that, the huge majority of us believe in a two-state solution to the conflict with our Palestinian brothers and sisters, and we believe in peace with justice for all sides.
Those among us who are fundamentalists certainly believe that God gave us the Land of Israel, but there is nothing in the Torah which forbids us from sharing what is our’s or even from giving something away that was given to us by God, since the Torah is given to us, ultimately, as a roadmap toward a more peaceful time. There are many maps and many paths, and I hope you will understand that I am making no comparison with a rather dubious political plan by the same name.
I am a member of a group called Rabbis for Human Rights. Our work in Israel includes proactive efforts to assist innocent Palestinians who are victimized by our Jewish brothers and sisters. Our members have stood in front of bulldozers in an attempt to keep them from destroying Palestinian homes and have gone into the olive groves with Palestinians to help them harvest their crops safely in place where Israeli "settlers" might have harmed them.
All this has become much more difficult since Hamas has come to power. I don’t know any Israeli or any Jew in his or her right mind who would consent to giving an inch of land to someone whose sworn purpose is to destroy you. I would advocate negotiations toward a peaceful settlement, even one that includes making concessions about land for a Palestinian state, if the Palestinians could provide Israel with an honest and sincere bargaining partner. This is not likely to happen while Hamas is in power, and I find that very sad. Would you negotiate with a suicide bomber? Would you negotiate with a government that is using the "peace" process as a way of buying time so that it can strengthen and attack again?
I don’t espouse genocide, and to say that all of Shoaib Choudhury’s supports do is neither honest nor fair. It is reasonable to say that there are some Muslims who believe that the Qur’an states that Allah has given the Land of Israel to the Jewish people, and that some of them draw conclusions from that upon which neither you nor I agree. And, it is correct to say that at least one of these people, Imam Palazzi, supports Shoaib Choudhury.
Shoaib for his part, has taken no position regarding Israel at all, except that the government of Bangladesh should recognize Israel and establish diplomatic and trade relations with it. His editorial policy is to publish articles by people who express many opinions in the hope that the people of Bangladesh will have the opportunity to think for themselves and come to their own conclusions.
All this is quite apart from any other discussions we have had about him. It is something that I wanted to clarify, while still understanding that we will disagree on many things regarding Choudhury.
I’m saddened that you and others find it necessary to hold onto so much bitterness. The divisions in Bangladesh run very deep. A lot of what happens in your home country comes from people who seem to believe that it is still 1971 when, I believe, it would be healthier for Bangladeshis to move on and look to the needs of the future without reliving the past. Shoaib is not my only friend in Bangladesh, but he is the only one who has become a "public figure." In the course of the friendships I have made, I have come to care very much about your homeland, and it is hard for me to watch what people with either greed or grudges or both are doing to each other. I hope for a better time for all of us.
Assalamu Alaykum,
Sue Levy
 My response is below:
Dear Rabbi Levy,
Thank you once again for your response.
You stated in your email that we will not accomplish anything by continuing our conversation. On the contrary, I think we have accomplished a great deal. We have both expressed our views on the matter in open debate to , I hope, the benefit of the reader. As you will recall, we began this conversation with a request from you that I retract my original post and that I apologize as well. I remain prepared to correct any errors of fact in my original post if I am provided with credible news account to the contrary. I hope you will understand that I will not be persuaded by opinions of Mr. Choudhury’s supporters unless those opinions are backed up by credible news reports.
I want to thank you for making it clear that you do not agree with Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi’s views regarding the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. I also applaud your work with Rabbis for Human Rights in your effort to defend the human rights of both Israelis and Palestinians. I firmly believe the only path to peace in Israel and Palestine is through reconciliation and dialogue. I am heartened that you both share those views and champion efforts to make that happen.
You said in your email that it was unfair and dishonest to say that all of Mr. Choudhury’s supporters espouse genocide. Specifically, you said the following:
I don’t espouse genocide, and to say that all of Shoaib Choudhury’s supports do is neither honest nor fair. It is reasonable to say that there are some Muslims who believe that the Qur’an states that Allah has given the Land of Israel to the Jewish people, and that some of them draw conclusions from that upon which neither you nor I agree. And, it is correct to say that at least one of these people, Imam Palazzi, supports Shoaib Choudhury.
I want to note that I did not accuse anyone of espousing genocide. I did however say that the Islam-Israel Fellowship, of which Mr. Choudhury and Dr. Benkin are advisory board members and Sheikh Palazzi is the co-founder, espouses the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. To support my statement, I cited some of the many commentaries written by this group and available on their web site. I also did not state, and certainly did not mean to imply, that all of Mr. Choudhury’s supporters espouse ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. If I left you with that impression, I want to clarify that it was not my intention. Specifically, I do not think I ever suggested that you were a member of Islam-Israel Fellowship or that you subscribed to their views about the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.
I will reiterate what I have said before. Both Mr. Choudhury and Dr. Benkin belong to the Islam-Israel Fellowship, along with Sheikh Palazzi. Many of the contributors on Mr. Choudhury’s Weekly Blitz are members of Islam-Israel Fellowship. Given the extreme views of Islam-Israel Fellowship, to suggest that Mr. Choudhury is somehow unaware of them while choosing to remain on their advisory board once again stretches credulity. I should further note that the one person who seems to be the source of almost all "reporting" on Mr. Choudhury is Dr. Benkin, who is not only associated with Islam-Israel Fellowship, but has written numerous articles expressing views that are consistent with the group.
You stated the following in your email:
I’m saddened that you and others find it necessary to hold onto so much bitterness. The divisions in Bangladesh run very deep. A lot of what happens in your home country comes from people who seem to believe that it is still 1971 when, I believe, it would be healthier for Bangladeshis to move on and look to the needs of the future without reliving the past.
I have to confess that your comments both sadden and disturb me a great deal. Bangladeshis are not "reliving the past" by remembering the genocide of 1971. The events of 1971 are a very important part of Bengali national identity and largely define the foundations of Bangladesh today. We are not prepared to "move on" and somehow forget the most concentrated act of genocide in the 20th century, where up to 3 million Bengalis were massacred in the name of religious extremism. Any suggestion to "move on" is an insult to me as a Bengali, to the memory of my parents, to the memory of my relatives who lost their lives, to the hundreds of thousands of women and girls who were raped, to the millions who were slaughtered, and to the Bengalis who survived the horrors and live with the scars today. 1971 is important to Bangladeshis just as the Holocaust is important to the Jews. We remember 1971 so as not to repeat it, in the same way the world remembers the Holocaust so the unimaginable savagery is never visited upon this Earth again.
The memory of 1971 is especially important in the post 9/11 world. In 1971 Bangladesh fought for the ideal of a secular state against the tyranny of religious extremism. Bangladesh is proud of its founding as a Muslim majority state with a secular parliamentary democracy. While our fellow Hindu brothers and sisters were being slaughtered by the Pakistani army, Muslims and Hindus in Bangladesh came together to resist the atrocities and ultimately drive the perpetrators out. We stood up in 1971 as one nation united by our common humanity and not divided by the false seduction of religious extremism. The independence of Bangladesh was a triumph of secularism over religious bigotry.
Since 1971 there have been extremist forces that have re-entered Bangladesh who continue to try to subvert the secular nature of Bangladeshi society. It is the memory of 1971 that reinvigorates the desire of the Bengali nation to resist all forms of extremism. So, no, we will not "move on" nor will we ever forget.
You also stated in your email:
Shoaib is not my only friend in Bangladesh, but he is the only one who has become a "public figure." In the course of the friendships I have made, I have come to care very much about your homeland, and it is hard for me to watch what people with either greed or grudges or both are doing to each other.
With due respect, Rabbi Levy, while I do not question your caring for Bangladesh, I do question your knowledge of the political landscape in Bangladesh. In a post dated January 23, 2007 defending Mr. Choudhury, you wrote the following:
This is taking place against a background of governmental and social instability in Bangladesh. A new interim "caretaker" government has taken control of the country after many weeks of violent demonstrations, strikes and unrest fomented by the Awami League, a coalition of parties which has most recently been in the minority in the Bangladeshi Parliament. These groups represent the radical Islamist faction whose goal it is to see a Taliban-like government take control of the country with the Islamic Shari’ah (religious law) as the law of the land. The interim government is working to meet one of their demands by correcting some large discrepancies in the lists of registered voters. It seems apparent that these radicals will win many more seats in the parliament than they have had before when elections are held in the late spring. It is, indeed, possible that they will win a majority. Al Queda is making incursions into the country, and an international group of journalists has made a statement that Bangladesh is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists who are often imprisoned and sometimes executed. [Emphasis added by me.]
I am concerned that you are propagating patently false information about Bangladesh and those that come to read your posts will, because of the respect they hold for you, believe your words. You asserted in your post that the Awami League represent "the radical Islamist faction" who want to see a "Taliban-like" government and impost "Shari’ah" law in Bangladesh. It might surprise you to learn that the Awami League is the leading secular party in Bangladesh. It was the Awami League that led the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971 under the banner of secular democracy. If the Awami League were to come to power, and they have held power in Bangladesh numerous times before, hell is likely to freeze over before you see a "Taliban-like" government in Bangladesh.
The immediate past government in Bangladesh, led by the BNP, had within its ruling coalition, the Jamaat-e-Islami  – the leading Islamist party in Bangladesh. If any party would want to bring "Taliban-like" government to Bangladesh, it would be the Jamaat-e-Islami, not the secular Awami League. Fortunately, though Jamaat-e-Islami, like other small parties in a parliamentary democracy, can form coalitions with the major parties to form a government, they do not have a following large enough to actually control a government in Bangladesh. I will take this opportunity to again point out that Mr. Choudhury, the person you defend, was intimately connected to the Jamaat-e-Islami. Yet, in your post, you state falsely that the Awami League is a "radical Islamist faction", which as should become obvious to you is quite the opposite of the truth.. Once again you do a disservice to the truth and to Bangladesh by propagating false and misleading information.
I would like to conclude by asking you to continue to visit my blog and engage me and my readers in open dialogue.
Mashuqur Rahman
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23 Responses to Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury: More Dialogue

  1. ZaFa says:

    Perfect response. Proud of you.=d>

  2. Robbie says:

    Nice response. I look forward to her future dialogue on the matter.

    BTW, does she work for Fox News Network or one of those two-bit podcast programs like Hot Air? :d

  3. Rivkeleh says:

    I hope this dialog continues. It’s both educational and uplifting to see two people with obviously strong opinions able to engage in respectful debate and find common ground.

  4. Mash says:

    Zafa, Robbie, thanks. :”>

    Rivkeleh, I hope its been informative.

    And, Robbie, of course Malkin has used this case to fearmonger about Bangladesh.

  5. Steve Johnson says:

    I saw the dirty smile of the man on the top of the blog. All it shows is, this is the perfect place of some evils. Moreover, Mr. mashuqur Rahman even does not know the difference between opinion editorial and news item. In one of the sites, he was arguing with a writer that, opinion editorials do not reflect the editorial policy of the newspaper concerned. Anyway, it is entertaining to read some stuffs from some people, who wish to engage in a dialogue of no goal. Mr. Mashukur Rahman, may I know, how much you receive each month from your Arab brethrens or some hidden Islamist millitant groups in running such ridiculous site?

  6. Steve Johnson says:

    Mr. Mash, may I know, what you do for living and where do you live? I got the impression that this is an Arab site spreading anti Semitic information and hatred. That is why, you are trying to talk about someone, who is certainly at a towering height in considering to your position. are you simply envy of him? Salah Choudhury is our hero, and we know, when the Heroes are on move, street dogs keeps on barking. Shame on you guys! :)>-

  7. Abul Hashem says:

    You are behaving like a fanatic Steve! Mash is simply trying to give specific information on someone, who turns into your ‘hero’ by befooling people. Being a Muslim, he speaks against Islam, and I think he deserves to be punished. Moreover, why should people of Bangladesh support Israel and Jews who are responsible for killing innocent Muslims in Palestine as well as in many part of the world? If Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is your ‘hero’ let him be kicked out of Bangladesh for life in exile in Israel. You Zionists are the evils! \:d/

  8. Mash says:

    I don’t normally do this, but if you are going to perpetrate fraud on here, at least try to do it with a little bit more intelligence.

    The commenter claiming to be ‘Steve Johnson’ and ‘Abul Hashem’ posted from the same IP address:

    New comment on your post #382 “Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury: More Dialogue”
    Author : Steve Johnson (IP: ,

    New comment on your post #382 “Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury: More Dialogue”
    Author : Abul Hashem (IP: ,

    If you are going to pretend to be two different people within the space of 5 minutes, at least try to do it from different computers. Please don’t insult my intelligence or the intelligence of the readers here by your embarrassing attempt.

    A quick check at tells me ‘Steve Johnson’ aka ‘Abul Hashem’ is posting from Bangladesh using the isp BBN. And I also notice that you are reading my posts by clicking on a link sent to you by someone to your Yahoo email account.

    So, stop hiding behind false names and use your real name here if you are going to first claim ‘your friend’ Mr. Choudhury as a hero and then post as a nutjob commenter (‘Abul Hashem’) expecting me to somehow support that idiotic and bigoted position.

    Now, let me explain a few things to ‘Steve Johnson’ since I’m guessing those comments are probably closer to your real positions. The picture at the top of this page is Peter Sellers from Dr. Strangelove, the movie by Stanley Kubrick. I encourage you to see the movie, its one of the best. As for your comment about the difference between op-eds and news items, you are apparently referring to my comments on the Daily Kos where I crossposted my original article. For the other readers, here is the link to the relevant comment thread.
    I think I am quite clear about the difference between op-eds and news stories. The question is why aren’t you?

    If you want to know more about me click on the About Me link on this blog.

    Finally, I’ll let the readers decide who is the extremist between the two of us.

  9. This entire blog is nothing more than one colossal fraud. The writer above is correct. This whole thing smells like it being sponsored by an Arab nation that is willing to pay you to smear the reputation of a very good man who deserves better. Yes, I would also like to know who is paying you. You somehow manage to spout the same line about a property dispute as is being given to those who inquire about Mr. Choudhury at the Bangladeshi Embassy in Washington in order to divert people\’s attention from the fact that he is being tried not for a property issue, but rather for three capital crimes which he has not committed. The treatment of Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is worse than fraud. It is well known that Bangladesh is one of the most dangerous countries on Earth for journalists. It is less known in the western world but also true that Islam permits \

  10. CONTINUING: Islam permits the practice of itjihad, thinking for onesself and expressing onesself freely, without intimidation. No Muslim has the right to permit another Muslim from doing so. Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is a bright light to people in places where the truth is not welcome. He is my friend, and my spiritual brother. I am not a journalist, and I am not paid to help him. I am a rabbi, and my faith teaches me to speak out against oppression.

  11. Rivkeleh says:

    Wow. I\\\’ve written three responses, and concluded that I\\\’m speechless. Simply speechless.

  12. Robbie says:

    Respectful debate? i believe that ended about an hour ago, and not from Mash\’s side. It\’s fine to disagree, but not to disparage, on someone else\’s blog comments section. That lowers the attacker to the level of a troll in my eyes. [-(

  13. Mash says:

    Rabbi Levy, I think I am as speechless as Rivkeleh by this sudden meltdown.

    The “writer above” you refer to is pretending to be two people at once from the confines of the same computer in Bangladesh. Hmm, mighty suspicious. \:d/

    I guess I am not surprised since you started this discussion accusing the Bangladesh embassy in Washington of spreading Arab propaganda. Now you’e ended with accusing me. Do you see Arab agents everywhere when people disagree with you? I have to tell you that you are not doing your friend any favors by your grasp of the facts and your wild accusations. And the friend in comments #5, #6 and #7 above is not winning any sympathy either by his childish attempt at assuming multiple identities.

    By the way, what “property dispute” are you talking about. I believe I said he was on trial for sedition. I am puzzled by your grasp of the facts.

    Oh, and I am a Bengali not an Arab. While it may be convenient to lump all of us together when hurling invective, the distinction is significant. And if you are interested in building bridges to the Islamic world, understanding that the majority of the world’s Muslims are not Arab might help you.

    And if you are going to propagate misinformation about Bangladesh, you should expect some fact checking from this particular Bengali.

  14. Mash says:

    Robbie just weighed in on the issue on his blog.

    Thanks Robbie.:”>


  16. Zahidur Rashid says:

    I think that the original article was very thought provoking. I have to give kudos to Mash for such a well researched essay. I wonder how much time you put in to write it. I wish had the same kind of writing skill. Anyway, I stumbled upon your blog after it was recommended by another blog . I am very impressed and I have been following the ongoing debate. Although I was born a Muslim I don’t subscribe to the faith anymore (I thought I needed to clarify that before I made any comments). I believe the original essay was well researched and should raise questions about all of these foreign characters involved. I don’t think it was biased in any way. I also liked the arguments by Rabbi Sue Levy sent by email for all the passion. But I have to say Rabbi is definitely being misled by someone and does not see the complete picture and arguing about the issue without any true facts. However, I am not sure if it is the same Rabbi who is posting all those hateful comments. I am siding with Mash on this topic and looking forward to more entries.

  17. Mash says:

    Zahidur, it had not occurred to me that the commenter may not be the same person. The two things I can go on is that the commenter provided the same email address that Rabbi Levy sent emails from, and that the commenter is using the same ISP as the one that I received the emails from.

    Rabbi Levy, I have provided citations for facts I put in my posts. I have welcomed you to dispute them. However, you have resorted to this instead:


    You can continue to insult me if you like, but I would prefer an intelligent debate. I have given you ample platform here to make your case. If this is the kind of invective you are going to use when someone disagrees with you, I think any notion that you are trying to build bridges with people of different opinions rings a little hollow.

    Feel free to continue to express yourself here. You can choose to take the high road or the low road – its up to you. I do however recommend that you refrain from using all caps when you type your comments – its considered rude on the internets. 🙂

  18. Zahidur Rashid says:

    It is important to be civil about any argument. I realize that this issue might be sensitive for Rabbi. But resorting to such childish behavior is not really helping you. Bring some facts on the table please.

    Logging in with different ids to manipulate reader’s and writer’s emotion only indicates this blog is creating discomfort for some people. This kind of tactics is very unethical and indicates what kinds of people are involved in this complex story.

  19. ZaFa says:

    Oh man! Talk about preposterous! 8-|
    Steve Johnson vs Abul Hashem…that was good one…split personality? =))

    What a tawdry way to make you appear anti-Semitic. [-( These people are one trick pony. All they know is how to divide people on ethnicity. They are trying to show Sa Sho Chy is a victim of religious intolerance – to cover some other acts that he shouldn’t have done may be? 😕
    I find it interesting that they’re quick to suggest that it is a paid blog. Is it because Sa Sho Chy is on someone’s payroll? They’re just digging the hole deeper and deeper.
    I’m beginning to think the vengeful “Rabbi Levy” is an imposter. Someone who happens to think Sa Sho Chy is in some kind of property dispute.
    For the record Sa Sho Chy has been and is enjoying full freedom of speech, as evident from his writings in Blitz.

  20. Group Captain Mandrake says:

    I am not a Muslim, and I love America. I also fully support Israel’s right to exist (within the 1967 borders). However, Rabbi Levy, I have seen a lot of citations and back-up for the assertions Mash makes–and nothing but passionate speech from you. Sometimes you are polite, sometimes not, but in any case you refuse to provide any basis for the assertions you make. Therefore, I believe Mash, because he can at least provide some facts to support his assertions. Name-calling will get you nowhere except detention and forfeiture of play-time privileges. :d

  21. Mash says:

    As much as Mr. Choudhury’s supporters would like to make this case about Muslims vs. Jews, it is not.

    I pointed out in my first email that there is more to Mr. Choudhury than is being pushed by his supporters. I also pointed out that there is ample discussion in Bangladesh about Islamic extremism. But, even though it may serve neoconservative political interests to make this about showing Bangladesh as extremist, that contention must be based on facts, and not a desire to paint the country as such.

    I bet if I dug hard enough, I could trace the IP used by ‘Steve Johnson/Abul Hashem’ all the way to its source in Bangladesh. Now, wouldn’t that be embarrassing for the cause.

    The US House passed a resolution calling on Bangladesh to drop all charges against Mr. Choudhury (thanks to Zafa for letting me know). If Bangladesh buckles, and its likely that it will, it will have been political pressure that will have freed Mr. Choudhury and not vindication in a court of law. That’s not the kind of justice that will exactly clear his name or make his supporters look like defenders of law.

    If Mr. Choudhury was sentenced by a sham court, I would defend his rights as loudly as the next person, but I wont preach circumventing judicial proceedings and due process simply to score political points.

    Screaming loudly that he is “innocent” while calling other people who do not agree with you “anti-semitic” is not a recipe for justice – its just childish, intolerant and bullying behavior – exactly the kind of behavior you are accusing the Bangladesh government of.

  22. Hey there i was wondering is keyword research the most important? in seo

  23. Brenda West says:

    Choudhury invents email names to hide behind all the time. It is how he defrauded 2 of his female supporters. He used the fact that they are Jewish and pro Israel to win their sympathy and steal from them. His so called Zionism is a mask for crime. And he has the nerve to call himself a ‘hero’! He is a menace to society and must be exposed. See this article for evidence.

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