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Sarah Palin's offensive remarks about Syria

By Dean Obeidallah, Special to CNN
September 4, 2013 -- Updated 2136 GMT (0536 HKT)
Dean Obeidallah says in her callous Facebook remarks about Syrian war, Sarah Palin evinced a surprising knowledge of Arabic
Dean Obeidallah says in her callous Facebook remarks about Syrian war, Sarah Palin evinced a surprising knowledge of Arabic
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dean Obeidallah: Sarah Palin wrote "Let Allah sort it out," referring to possible U.S. action
  • He asks who knew she spoke Arabic? But does she know where that phrase comes from?
  • He says Catholic monk said it before 13th-century siege that killed 20,000
  • Obeidallah: She seems to believe slaughter of innocent Syrians should be met with silence

Editor's note: Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is a political comedian and frequent commentator on various TV networks including CNN. He is the co-director of the comedy documentary "The Muslims Are Coming!" which will be released in September. Follow him on Twitter @deanofcomedy.

(CNN) -- "Let Allah sort it out."

That is Sarah Palin's succinct argument against U.S. intervention into Syria. And I have to be honest: I'm impressed with Palin on this one. Not with her horribly callous recommendation, made via Facebook late last week, but because she appears to speak some Arabic.

I'm not saying Palin is fluent in the language, but she did use the Arabic word "Allah." She could've simply used the word "God" instead of Allah since it has the identical meaning. (Christian Arabs use the word Allah when speaking of God in Arabic.)

Dean Obeidallah
Dean Obeidallah

I think deep down she wanted to show off her language skills.

Could Palin know even more Arabic? She did go on to say that both sides fighting in Syria are, "shouting 'Allah Akbar' at each other."

She could've easily translated "Allah Akbar" into English, noting that the combatants were screaming, "God is great." Or as Sen. John McCain remarked Tuesday on Fox News, "Allah Akbar" is no different than an American Christian saying, "Thank God."

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But Palin went with the Arabic. Why? Because I think deep down she loves the language. And I bet Palin knows even more Arabic words such as humus, falafel and possibly babaganoush.

So, let's get back to her statement, "Let Allah sort them out."

Now, there is a possibility that Palin believes that Muslims worship a different God than Christians and Jews. If she does, is she's actually saying that we should sit back and revel in watching Muslims slaughter each other? Could that be her barbaric message? Possibly.

But my cynical side tells me that Palin was just trying to use inflammatory language to get attention. (I know what you're saying: "No, our Sarah Palin would never do that.")

But let's not forget what Palin said about President Barack Obama's comments on Libya: "Obama's shuck and jive shtick with these Benghazi lies must end." Palin was roundly criticized for using "shuck and jive," which is a term dating back to 1870s and was originally a "Southern 'Negro' expression for clowning, lying, pretense."

Palin denied she was being racially insensitive in using that phrase. Was it just an inadvertent slip or a ploy to draw media coverage?

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So what's the genesis of Palin's statement, "Let Allah sort it out"?

The big debate: Should U.S. strike Syria?

Well, it appears to be based on the infamous phrase: "Kill them all, let God sort them out." This term reportedly comes from the time of the Crusades. You know, those "holy wars" waged by Christians that Sarah might refer to in her Arabic as a "jihad."

However, this expression was not coined in a battle between Muslims and Christians. Rather, legend has it that it was uttered by a Catholic monk in the 13th century as Crusaders were about to lay siege to the French city of Beziers, a town filled with Cathars, who were considered heretics to the Catholic Church.

When the monk in charge of the assault, Arnaud Amalric, was asked by the military commander how to distinguish between heretics and Christians, the monk responded: "Kill them all, God will know his own." Consequently, 20,000 people were slaughtered, including women and children.

It's unclear if Palin comprehends the origins of the phrase she used, but what's abundantly clear is that she believes that the U.S. should do nothing while people are being slaughtered in Syria.

I'm not sure to what God she prays, but I can assure her that the God of Christians, Jews and Muslims demands more than silence in the face of mass killings -- some 100,000 people, including scores of women and children.

Many of us would prefer a political solution that ends this conflict.

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Former President Jimmy Carter has called for a peace summit to try and end the bloodshed while we await a vote by Congress' on military action in Syria. Regardless of how we end the violence, silence is not a morally acceptable option.

In the future, if Sarah Palin is going to show off her Arabic vocabulary, it's my hope that she doesn't use it to encourage the world to turn a blind eye as innocent people are butchered.

Instead, she might use an Arabic word such as "salaam," which means "peace," and encourages people to support a policy that brings an end to the fighting. After all, peace means the same thing in every language.

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dean Obeidallah.

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