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As leader of the free world, Pres. Bush should have stated clearly what he was defending it from. He said we are in a war on "terrorism," but he aids Arab terrorism against Israel. He really mean we have to defend ourselves from Islamism, or should it be from Islam? We have to ask what really is Islam and how does Islamism differ from it.
A useful explanation of Islam would not discuss theological principles and religious practices that have no bearing on the war. That is the Muslims' business. Our business is Islam's goal for our culture, what means it uses, and what counter-measures we may need to take.
Ordinary people may try to understand what Islam is by reading the Koran. They probably overlook the teachings and interpretations that define what is authoritative. In general, later verses of the Koran take precedence over the earlier, more tolerant verses.
There is no point in asking Muslim authorities to define their religion. They may be part of the war on us. In any case, they are likely to give a self-serving definition. We need Western scholars to set matters straight. "Western scholars" are not the biased leftists and Arabs at university centers of Mideastern studies. They either are Islamist infiltrators or anti-US leftists, and give erroneous advice.
Islamists dispute other Muslims over the meaning of their religion. Some scholars contend that the Islamists have stolen the religion's identity. Others find that Islamism is within the traditions of Islam, though it has a different emphasis. Bear in mind that Islam started with conquests by the sword and never disavowed it. The Islamists think now is the time to take up the sword again.
Western scholars should be advising who the enemy is and what means to combat the enemy. Should we lace killed and captured terrorists with lard? Should we bomb the shrine at Mecca?
In my evolving opinion, the Islamists have gotten most of their co-religionists to accept their more extreme position against the Jews - to murder them rather than just to humiliate them. The general Muslim reaction to 9/11 was joy. Westerners try to rationalize that Arafat was the only bad Palestinian Arab, that his successor represents new leadership (which, as Arafat's assistant for 40 years, he does not), and that the Arab people really want peace. But it was the people who danced in the streets after 9/11 and after successful human-bombing of Israelis.
I think that the difference between Islamists and most other practicing Muslims but especially the Arabs and Pakistanis, is that the Islamists are activist. They actually wage jihad. They shame and cajole and indoctrinate other Muslims, the so-called moderates, into joining them. Thus it was that suddenly a Muslim Arab, who had been moderate until he "discovered Islam," turned on his long-time Israeli friend and killed him. A Jew should not turn his back on an Arab.
My understanding is a pessimistic one. It perceives of the mass of Muslims as not moderate in their views, just inactive and amenable to being activated. Certainly many have become radicalized and readily so. In self-defense, the West should expel the Muslims among them. Islam endangers Western civilization.
If there were a movement of moderate Muslims, or if one could be organized, I would favor it. The problem is that Islam is a religion like the Western ones in matters of monotheism but not of tolerance and other ethics. Islam holds that the ends justify the means, and Muslims break agreements. One cannot make peace with them, for they deem rivals as false and evil. They bear a medieval or ancient mind-set, valuing warfare and conquest, whereas Christendom has reformed and come to value tolerance and peace. The Muslims take advantage of our yearning for peace to pretend we can have it with them. They take advantage of the American penchant for letting their religion share the stage, to asserting superiority and demanding that the other faiths exit the stage. If they have superior virtues, their mistreatment of us makes it indiscernible.
Richard Shulman is a veteran defender of Israel on several
web-based forums. His comments and analyses are a regular feature on
Think-Israel. He provides cool information and right-on-target
overviews. He distributes his essays by email. To subscribe, write him
Richard Shulman is a veteran defender of Israel on several web-based forums. His comments and analyses are a regular feature on Think-Israel. He provides cool information and right-on-target overviews. He distributes his essays by email. To subscribe, write him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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