Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Jewish and Christian extremists must vigorously be exposed

A bit over 2 weeks ago I posted about about a fundamentalist Rabi inciting hate against Arabs in Palestine (see Jewish 'Mullah' Issues a racist 'Fatwa'). As usual, Becky Zoole contributed a very informative comment with useful links that I hope some of you followed. Part of her comment stated that
"... proper response is to refuse him the attention he desires, but to keep a close eye on his supporters. What's wrong is that whenever an equally lunatic fundamentalistic cleric who happens to be Muslim acts according to his nature, the Western world over-reacts."
I am completely in agreement with the spirit of her statements, but unfortunately, from a Muslim point of view, Extremist Jewish (and Christian) individuals and organizations need to be continually exposed as much as possible. They need to be held in the faces of the media and public as strongly as possible. Otherwise, the world view of the reality and the nature of extremism will continue to be what it is right now: unequivocally one-sided, and told only from an anti-Muslim point of view. And as I was contemplating how to approach a posting on the subject, I came a across an article in the New York times that 'broke the camel's back'.

The whole premise of the relentless anti-Muslim campaign is that Muslims are evil because they do things other humans (especially Christians and Jews) would not do. Moral supremacy of 'Judeo-Christian' culture is not, therefore, a racist concept; it is simply the fact of life.

The proof is out there for all to see: look at the 'news' every day: angry Screaming Mullahs, Evil Palestinians kidnapping innocent IDF soldiers, brain-washed Muslim children hurling stones at peaceful settlers. Muslims do all the bad things. The other side is civilized, well-versed in the rules of conduct, share the 'Judeo' part of out Judeo-Christian heritage, and more or less are, well ... like us.

Well, what do you think? Don't we need a balancing point of view?
Some of you may think the bold red text color is 'too loud'. Of course it is loud, and loud we should be when be bring up Jewish and Christian fundamentalist to the spot light. So far, that have a free ride. They could get away with murder, but they never get the blame.
That pile of violent, uncivilized, racist statements did not catch the attention of many people. To most Americans, Israeli Jews have the right to get extremely angry at Arabs when 8 students are killed by a lone man. The call for revenge in the most horrible ways, inflicted on Arabs other than the murderer, is understandable even from a Rabbi; a man with official training and accreditation to interpret and advise the Jewish people. And that brings me to the New York times article that got me worked up.

What caught the attention of the NYT reporter was not what the fundamentalistic Jewish clerics have been saying and teaching in the occupied Palestinian lands and in Israel. what got the NYT attention was how Gaza people reacted to the massacre of 120 of their own in February 2008, over half of them civilians and children.
The title of the NYT article published on April 1, 2008 was to put it simply: obnoxiously annoying.

It is as if Palestinians do not even have the right to feel angry. Talking bad about Israel will not be tolerated by the civilized NYT journalist. To the NYT reader, this is yet another proof how Arabs and Muslims are 'so not cool'. No one, of course is claiming that the journalist is racist, bigoted or has blind and unconditional love for anything Israeli. And, because he is not an Arab nor a Muslim, no one will ever accuse him of having a hidden agenda. To most readers, he is just seeking the truth, and is just worried about prospects of peace.

The esteemed NYT journalist is worried because a Hamas guy is calling Israeli Jews “They have been traitors to all agreements ". The journalist states that "Incitement against Israel and Jews was supposed to be banned under the 1993 Oslo accords and the 2003 'road map' peace plan". He does not mention though that the worlds, including the US government complain repeatedly - but do not do anything more- about Israel not fulfilling term of these same agreements he is citing. He does not seem concerned that killing hundreds in Gaza over the last few months could be worse than 'incitement'. The media professional in the most influential newspaper in the world is concerned that Hamas may have "control over propaganda and education there, breeding longer-term problems for Israel, and for peace".

And I thought it could be that the occupation of the West bank is what complicates peace.
Or could it be that the siege of Gaza, and the lack of food and electricity is what complicates peace?
I even thought, in my little simple mind, that it may be the low flying fighter jets breaking sound barrier over small Arab towns by night, and the ongoing abuse of Palestinians at useless checkpoints in the west bank, or the on-going settlement expansion promised to the religious fundamentalist Shas party, or the thousands of the new houses advertised (for Jews only) in Arab East Jerusalem - I thought, all this may complicate peace. Stupid me!
But now that the wise man of the NYT has spoken, I can see the light.

With this kind of perception problems, putting one side's sins under the microscope, and sweeping the other side's sins under the carpet, do you think Muslims should stop paying attention to the other side's extremists?
As far as I am concerned, we should make every effort to show that our 'terrorist' extremists are not much worse than their government-tolerated, IDF-protected extremists.


  1. Oh, I definitely agree that all those who break the law or engage in hate speech need to be treated equally!

    I do think, though, that most extremists are looking for publicity more than anything else. I'd rather not give it to them.

    I'm all for the proper authorities, with proper legal warrants, carefully monitoring trash-talking extremists. But other than that, I'd much rather see terrorists and those who commit hate crimes treated like common criminals. Giving them a special "terrorist" status is, in itself, terrorizing. It helps them achieve their goals.

  2. I would also point out that three of the five articles you point to all refer to statements by the same extremist Rabbi Eliyahu, a man who has been indicted before by the government of Israel for making racist, anti-Arab statements.

    Why he continues to walk free is beyond me. I don't know under whose authority he calls himself "the chief rabbi of Safed" (an impoverished small town with a rich history, population 27,000). Judaism, unlike Christianity, is not hierarchical; it is much more like Islam in that way. I think the town of Safed actually pays him a salary to be a religious adviser, and if so the town council has very poor judgment indeed.

    In one of the other articles you cited, there is a quote from an Israeli politician who is legitimately a religious leader as well, the National Religious Party Chairman, Director General of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and member of the Knesset, Zevulun Orlev. Orlev is quoted as calling for "the immediate arrest of those suspected of allegedly planning a retaliatory act against Arabs".

    This is not to excuse the insane fanaticism of some Jews, simply to point out that it is not the norm.

    It does not excuse the bizarre way in which the Western press presents the insane fanaticism of some Muslims as the norm.

    I don't think, though, that making the same mistake as the Western press is the right way to counter-act that mistake. I think the way to counter-act that is by publicizing statements by Muslim religious and political leaders in which they call for the arrest of anyone plotting to attack Israeli civilians, or indicting Arabs for making racist anti-Jewish statements.

    Make it clear that the vast majority of Muslims want to live in peace with the rest of the world. Make it clear that the official government positions of Arab countries are tolerant and inclusive, protecting the freedom and dignity of religious minorities, even if they are imperfect in enforcing those laws. It seems to me that that is the best way to counter-act the rantings of the loud-mouthed bigots.