Life has a way of bringing people down from the perches and providing valuable lessons in humility. One of the discussions we are having right now relates to the brutal headline in the NY Times, that without providing any explication, shouts that a Palestinian boy was shot in the head by the IDF. We’ve discussed why it happened, and the discussion went into other areas of the politics involved.

I think many, like me, who defend the violence by the IDF that sometimes affects Palestinian children, have become somewhat desensitized to the fact that after all, they are merely children. Yes, sometimes a terror group might send them on a bombing or arms smuggling mission. Sometimes the children are used for demonstrations and propaganda purposes – a lesson not lost on the Gaza settlers during the periods before and during the disengagement. Sometimes the children are brainwashed by the adults who surround them, whether through the media or leaders who make no bones about the violence and hatred which they advocate.

And yet, they are merely children. They cannot and do not have a full palette of experiences from which to draw life lessons. They haven’t had opportunities to make mistakes and learn from them. Life has not taught them the differences between foolishness and bravery, or even the meaning of death and injury. They are children. They like to play and can create games in any situation. They like to imagine and dream, and usually do not bear the burdens of earning income that might intrude on such fanciful activities. They tend to be more fragile than their adult counterparts who have learned to develop tough outer shells, and for the same reason they are usually more open and direct.

Usually adults seek to protect their children, and sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to do so. But life is funny in that way. You cannot always be there. Even when you are, you cannot always prevent the accident or injury because it happens too quickly or unexpectedly. Sometimes a parent might simply miss the obvious danger of a situation until the child is hurt. We watch them but cannot always stand in the way of their independence or assertiveness.

So what was Ahmed al-Khatib – the 12 year old boy who was shot in Jenin by IDF troops after brandishing a realistic looking toy gun in the midst of an aggressive and violent protest – doing out there that day? Playing a hero? Expressing hate? Seeking to belong? Mimicking adults? Simply playing a game in the wrong place? Nobody has reported that part of the story, and it is unlikely that we will ever know what he was thinking just before the shots felled him.

But his parents? His parents, who must be grieving desperately as they realize their son and his laughter will never light their lives with joy again, swallowed hard and made sure that his death would not be in vain. They contributed Ahmed’s organs. His injury was such that once his life ebbed away, his healthy organs would survive him. And indeed they have, inside no fewer than 6 individuals including Jewish and Druze Israelis.

Jamal al-Khatib said he hoped to meet the recipients of his son’s organs to ensure that they were healthy, and added: “The most important thing is that I see the person who received the organs, to see him alive.”

The boy’s liver was divided in two and given to a 6-month-old baby and a 56-year-old woman; his kidneys were given to a 5-year-old boy; and his lungs were given to a 5-year-old boy and a 4-year-old girl, the radio said.

Dr. Tzvi Ben-Yishai, spokesman for Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, where Al-Khatib had been treated, said the boy’s parents decided to donate his organs “to bring hearts closer and bring peace closer.”

“I don’t mind seeing the organs in an Israeli or a Palestinian. In our religion, God allows us to give organs to another person and it doesn’t matter who the person is,” said Jamal al-Khatib, the boy’s father, who added that he hoped the donations would send a message of peace to Israelis and Palestinians.

A heart. Lungs. Kidneys. A liver divided to save more than one life. And these organs are especially precious in a land where the prevailing religion, Judaism, has many advocates who believe that it is impermissible for a Jew to donate organs if a proper burial is to take place. So Ahmed’s organs were precious like rare rubies or precious stones. Precious like his parents’ love. Precious like the example and lesson his parents have given us all; that we should never forget the humanity of those who may be opposed to us or Israel.

May their grief be tempered by the precious gifts they have given.

About the author

themiddle

120 Comments

  • Hi, tm
    When I saw the title of the post, I immediately answered to myself: “the normal kind”. Then I read the post. I’m shocked.

  • Yes, this was indeed a touching gesture on the parents part. Thank you TM for bringing this to our attention. However, a better gesture on the parents’ part would hav been to keep their precious child away from a battle zone, whil carrying a toy gun no less. I don’t mean to add to their loss but seriously. Also comparing the parents’ negligence to the settlers – that was uncalled for. And why that dig against religious people? Organs ae always i demand, even in very secular US. You took a sad but inspiring story and turned it divisive and rancorous.

  • Moscow Bound, we agree the boy should have been kept out of the demonstration area. Then again, we don’t know the circumstances at all and there may be a perfectly understandable reason for this happening.

    Second, assuming it was negligence, as you state, the key difference between what they did and what the settlers who sent their children out to protest did, is that the settlers knew with confidence that their children would not be harmed. They, however, definitely used them for propaganda purposes and as the vanguard for the opposition to the disengagement. Remember that this Palestinian demonstration began as an IDF unit was trying to arrest a terrorist. For all you know, it might have taken mere minutes to form and to become a “demonstration.” Ahmed could have simply been in the crowd already or very close by. Would the settlers ever put their children in a situation where they might be harmed by the IDF? I dunno, but I’d ask the folks who set up the “hilltop youth.” Isn’t a 17 year old facing charges for hitting a soldier?

    Oh, and finally, with respect to my supposed dig at organ donations in Judaism. That was not a dig. It was a fair and honest statement. You’ll note my wording does not mention the observance level of the people who advocate against organ donation. I know many secular Jews who don’t want to donate an organ after death because of the taboo in our religion. I also know of at least one very active organization with an Orthodox leader who has convinced hundreds of rabbis in Israel to change their views of the halachic prohibition and now carry organ donation cards. But why lie about the facts? Israel has a shortage of organ donors in large part because of historical Jewish views. It has fuelled a financial trade in organs and remains a severe problem for many sick Israelis who could die. Ahmed’s family did a double mitzvah by contributing his organs under these circumstances.

    Sheesh!

  • we can engage in conjecture all day long but when a 12 year old gets killed there is a prima facie presumption of guilt against the parents. We know all too well how little children have been cynically used as grist for the Palestinian propaganda mill. I am not saying that Ahmed’s parents purposefully allowed their child to be exposed to danger for the sake of some headlines, but still, when armed men are about, you keep a close eye on your kids.

    It’s still a tragedy and I still feel for Ahmed’s parents, but lets not allow ourselves to be blinded by our sadness, and I’m not even going to discuss the stupidity of a toy M-16 in a war zone.

    As for our settler friends, say what you will, but despite the rancor, no serious injuries occurred.

    Now onto the subject of organ donation. We all know that Israel is a predominately western and secular society, as such, the same chronic shortages of organs that plague the US would similarly plague Israel. Why is that? I don’t know, maybe people are grossed out by organ donation, or are just neglectful. I mean, TM, do you and your family have signed organ donor cards you carry around at all times? I think it was a little unfair to single out religious factors for difficulty with organ donation.

    But lets not miss the main point of all this: Ahmed’s parents made a fantastic and unprecedented gesture and should be commended for their ability to be kind and thoughtful despite the tremendous grief they must be feeling.

  • They are children but they are born into a savage like situation, e.g. France now.
    There is a strong element of savagery amongst these Muslims, the political ones.
    We have some Muslims where I work who observe Ramadan and the whole bit, but they are from other countries, their ancestors settles in the Caribbean and other places. These are not savages. But something about the Middle East and Muslims… Personally I have always felt that there is a kind of cultural war really that they feel inferior.
    Yet there are some human and decent Arabs out therem who have not been tainted by the Mullahs and Imams and all the political crap.

  • Why have there not been any posts on this blog about the Arab uprising spreading through France, and what this may portend for Europeans (Jewish and non-Jewish)? I’m sure many of us would like to see a debate on this.

  • How about: when large numbers of Arab Muslims riot in a country already rife with anti-Semitism, it’s only a matter of time before they start whaling on Jews! Wake up!

  • Middle, I am also glad you posted this. I saw the father on a news program and he seemed very determined his son’s death promote peace. I am a bit saddened so few people here chose to comment on your post, particularly those who are so quick to comment on Palestinian violence. Saddened too by words such as “savages” that have been used. But then it was from the same person who used “vermin” to refer to Palestinian children in general else-blog.

    Let’s hope that those who got the organs will live on as witnesses to the gesture and work for peace.

  • badchen, that you call what is happening in France an Arab uprising. From what I understand, the people rioting for the most part are a blend of Arabs from North Africa and sub-Saharan Africans, presumably most from former French colonies like Senegal. They have been joined by other disaffected youth from the projects. The French TV news show that I watched last night showed, for example, an Eastern European immigrant whose son had been arrested. I don’t think it is at all unreasonable to worry about whether the violence will turn against the Jewish community in France, but personally I would hope a critique would be extended to the French state and its history of two-facedness and racism regarding Muslim immigrants. As one North African put it last night (I am paraphrasing): I have papers that say I am French, but I am certainly never treated by authorities as though I am. It’s been the same for decades, and the history of the North African population in particular includes extreme violence by the state. To take one example, the massacre of peaceful Arab demonstrators one night in October 1961 in Paris. I recently saw a film made about it by a French director. It may seem like old history, but it is just the most dramatic incident of a continuing story.

    http://observer.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,1598638,00.html

  • PS: Most of the Arabs I heard speak last night on the French news, the German news, and the BBC were condemning the violence in no uncertain terms. One Arab woman even took off yelling at a guy who expressed some sympathy.

  • Leila — I don’t deny that many immigrants in France may have legitimate grievances. But that is no excuse for rioting. Just as the very real ongoing problem of racism in America doesn’t justify the L.A. riots of 1992, nor the looting and raping in New Orleans this year.

    There are plenty of non-violent options for aggrieved individuals and groups to call attention to their grievances, including rallies, sit-ins and strikes. And before anoyone claims that such methods would be beyond the capability of impoverished, poorly-educated individuals, bear in mind the many peaceful labour demonstrations and work actions of the early twentieth century, in which most participants were dirt-poor and functionally illiterate. Sure, there were violent agitators in the labour movements, but they were neither encouraged nor adopted by the majority. Or how about the non-violent civil rights demonstrations of the late 1950s and early 1960s? It was the Rosa Parks/MLK approach, not the “burn baby burn” approach of the Black Panthers and early Nation of Islam, which led to the first comprehensive civil rights legislation in the U.S.

    To sum up: Grievances over discrimination–understandable. Peaceful action–good. Vioence–bad (and ultimately worse than no action at all).

  • badchen: And calling it an “Arab uprising” when there are huge numbers of non-Arab immigrants involved? On your point above, the overwhelming majority of immigrants with their grievances are not rioting or supporting the riots. In fact, they are bearing the brunt of them. Whose cars and facilities do you think are mostly being torched?

  • No, leila, I’m sorry. This is an intifada in the making. Synagogues have been attacked. The rioters are overwhelmingly Arab Muslims. The violence is spreading to other European nations.

    I hate to be inflammatory, but I’m beginning to wonder if you’re making excuses for the thugs–yes, thugs, I won’t apologize for that–because you don’t understand the situation or because you won’t understand it?

    Again: WAKE UP! This is a battle between FUNDAMENTALIST ARAB MUSLIMS–not all Arabs, not all Muslims–AND EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD. Leila, they would not spare you. You are just as much “the enemy” in their eyes as the non-apologists.

  • Also, I thought Jewschool was the appeasement, leftie blog. Where are ck, themiddle and the others to back me up on this?

  • Could you give me a citation that says the rioters are “overwhelmingly Arab Muslims.” I assume by overshelmingly you would mean something like 90 percent or more. I know they are almost all Muslim. I know North African Arabs are collectively the largest immigrant group in France. But from what I have read, Africans who are not from the North and not Arab, but are Muslim, are heavy in the numbers of rioters. I also heard from scholarly and journalistic observers on the newscasts last night that the neighborhoods known for having the greatest number of religious Arab Muslims have been the quietest in recent days, which would kind of go with the fact that Muslim leaders there have issued Fatwas against the rioters. From the French experts I saw for example on the PBS Lehrer News Hour last night, the implication was that most of the rioters are teenagers who have a lot of interest in rioting and torching things, but not much in religion. They are thugs, but not fundamentalist thugs in the majority. I am not making excuses for any thuggery, just could you please cite a source for your statement of this as a riot that is overwhelmingly Arab, that is overwhelming fundamentalist in nature? Please, some documentation.
    You might be interested in the graph from this newspaper article today.

    Some 1,500 cars and buses have been torched. More than 500 young men have been arrested, some as young as 13. All are either Arab or black.

    The original cause of the outburst — the electrocution of two youths as they ran from police — has long since become irrelevant.

    The true source of the outburst is that most of these young Muslim and black French people feel themselves to be nobodies. They are not French — not really so, no matter how fluently they speak its language nor how well they learned its history in school, nor, even, how well they play on its soccer teams. Neither, though, in contrast to their parents, are they Algerian or Senegalese, or whatever was the homeland of their ancestors.

  • baadchen, I am not familiar with Jewschool. But I do find it kind of curious that you prefer not to have even a few dissenters around to muddy any political waters. How fundamentalist of you. I had heard Jewlicious was open to all political faiths. Sorry if I was mistaken. And by the way, I don’t doubt for a moment there is a battle underway between Fundamentalist Islam and its perceived or actual enemies, modernity, the West, Zionism, etc. I just don’t have any reason to believe that is main current of what has been going on in France the past fortnight.

  • Leila, I am not a liberal or conservative so don’t hand out your little snide underhanded attacks on me. I could care less what you think of me, Leila. I wouldn’t trust you as far as I could throw you.
    Now until people like you, intelligent, ostensibly sane, are going to condemn outright the violence that these yes vermin and savages are conducting in France, and in many places around the world, no one will take you seriously here.

  • Jobber, I do hope you will not endeavor to throw me. I believe you referred to Palestinian children in general as vermin, which by definition includes those who are not committing any violence whatsoever. Of course I condemn the violence in France. I condemn it even more so because the people being worst affected are the majority of working class and poor immigrants in the neighborhoods that are now afire as I already mentioned. Perhaps you are right about noone taking me seriously here. So be it. Presumably you are taken seriously here, right? That appears to be what you are implying. But since since you like inflammatory language like vermin to refer to children whether they have done anything or not, I guess being accepted into the “being taken seriously” club of regular commentaters here, is, ala Groucho, maybe not a club I would want to belong to.

  • If they are so horribly oppressed in France, maybe moving back to Africa would offer them more opportunities for advancement? They could be among people who shared their beliefs, culture, and faith. Why do they want to live in a country that so clearly doesn’t want them?

  • Grace, most of the youth rioting were born in France. They are the children or grandchildren, or more of immigrants from former French colonies, by and large. This is particularly true in the case of the North Africans from the Arab countries and former colonies of Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. They are French citizens. About France wanting them, they most definitely did want their parents and grandparents and so on to do jobs the French didn’t want. It wasn’t just third-world immigrants. France has imported and looked down on other European immigrants as well in the past, ask the Portuguese. They also have gone to France in past decades by the millions for jobs.

    France is home for young generation of immigrant descent. Just like Germany is home to their Turkish counterparts. It is unlikely they would fit into the societies of their heritage.

    Tonight on the French TV news (the nightly France 2 program), there was something very moving: a group of parents and teachers protecting a school from being burned. The principal was Arab, the parents were Arab, West African, Euro-French etc. Their sentiments are the majority. Also, reading the French press, I have not seen any evidence as baadchen said of this being in any large part a movement of fundamentalists in the Muslim community. It is a movement of violent, alienated teenagers whose mosque attendance is very likely negligible. There is also a role of organized criminal gangs. The French news showed town officials announcing curfews for minors.

  • PS: One correction. There haven’t been “millions” of Portuguese to France. Portugal experienced emigration in the millions, but in France, their total is in the high hundred thousands, unlike the immigrants and their descendants from former French colonies.

  • Wow. Did this conversation ever go off topic! For the record, I almost totally stand by what Leila has written. Her analysis is the least shrill and the most factual, nuanced and eloquent. Except for the millions of Portugese … Also for the record, calling people vermin, even not nice rioters, makes me think of Der Sturmer in Nazi era Germany. Not very classy.

    Leila, please visit here often and grace us with your commentary.

  • Oh la vache! J’ai effacer ton commentaire leila! C’est a cause du pourriel! En tout cas, merci leila, de rien.

  • Regardless of the degree of Islamism being touted by the rioters, France has a HUGE problem on their hands, no matter what they do.

    If we assume that the rioters actually want to assimilate into a predominantly white European country, the problem can, at least theoretically, be ameliorated. Eventually, such people will, given the opportunity, see themselves as French.

    However, is such a thing really possible? Somehow I doubt it.

    Yes, it is true that the rioters are predominantly French-born. They may be in France, but they are not FRENCH, however. I submit that at least part of the reason for this is that they do not want to be French if being French means they must give up a substantial part of what makes them Muslim, North African, or whatever.

    This is the classic problem faced by all countries that accept large-scale immigration of people who differ markedly in language, race/ethnicity, culture, and religion. The capacity of the host culture to absorb large numbers of such immigrants can only go so far. Where is the tipping point?

    This depends primarily on how the host culture defines itself. Even though the original Yishuv was primarily Ashkenazi, Israel was able to absorb large numbers of Jews from the Arab countries precisely because, regardless of very marked differences, everyone involved felt themselves to be members of a single people. So Ahkenazi, Sephardic, Ashkephardic, whatever, it doesn’t matter. Everyone is a Jew, and that’s what matters.

    I do not believe that this basic dynamic exists in France. The political elite in France may want France to be a post-Xian, post-ethnic society and appear, indeed, to be working hard to make France (and all of Europe) “a state of all its citizens”.
    If this is how France defines itself, it could be anything, including a Muslim theocracy where Sharia is the law but everybody just happens to speak French. However, is such a thing really possible?

    I do not think so. The majority of French people undoubtedly do not want to live in such a state, as as Islam waxes stronger and more assertive, France will have two choices: fold like a cheap tent, or fight.

    Through what is likely a combination of racism on the part of the French and a desire on the part of the immigrants to maintain their culture and religion, the immigrants are, perforce, separate from the majority of the French population.

    And here I think is where Europe faces its choice: to the extent that the immigrants want to remain Muslim this conflict will continue and only increase in violence. If France allows the Muslims to essentially set up essentially autonomous Muslim areas within France, the dissolution of France into warring mini-states is only a matter of time.

    What is happening in france is only the start. It is happening in Denmakr as well, where Muslims are threatening violence over “insulting” cartoons of Mohammed published in a Danish newspaper. The murder of Theo van Gogh should have been a wakeup call. But Europe is, for the most part, still asleep.

    Expect Marie Le Pen (or his replacement) to do very, very well in the next election.

  • And the English translation of the above comment, for non Francophiles:

    “Oh, the cow! I have unfaced a ton of commentary, Leila! This is a puerile cause! In any case, thank you Leila, the rain.”

    [And end scene. Curtain. Applause.]

  • Leila, vermin are those hamas and terrorist supporters. those who mass in their demonstrations, those who learn to become terrorists and suicide bombers. Savages are what these rioters are in France and for that matter in New Orleans, those who were shooting at the hospital workers. I know what you wish to do, equate this violence w/ violence that Israelis do.
    They are only lucky that the Israelis are prissy. They are too refined for their enemies. Are you saying the Israelis do not have enemies?
    People who cynically take little children and train them to kill themselves, while indoctrinating them that they have no life worth living anyway, and that they will be rewarded in paradise w/ Allah and the 790 virgins. It’s crap, it’s garbage, they are vermin and savages, and I am not afraid to state to you that this is my opinion.

  • ck — Badchen’s posts may have been shrill and less than eloquent or nuanced, but the content was spot on I feel. There is a conflict of civilizations at hand, in Europe and elsewhere, and it’s by no means certain who will win.

  • i agree with beinoni. we must not to blame all muslims for this, that is wrong. but the extremeists must be faced fire with fire. the midrach says if you are kind to the cruel you will end up cruel to the kind

  • I agree with ck and apologize for my absence. Leila, please be sure to continue to come here, your voice is a very welcome one.

  • I agree that we cannot blame all Muslims for this, however truth be told i say that but i don’t believe it. What annoys me about the Muslim world in general is that at this time of conflict, they refuse to take control of their extremists and to rein in their religion. They just sit back and watch the rest of the world grapple while trying to deal with them. Extremism is a prevalent problem in the Muslim culture and religion yet they act as if the world is against them for some strange reason. If they don’t choose to accept responsibility and rein in their own people, then the rest of the world must do it for them-by force. And unfortunately children with toy or real pistols may continue to pay the price.

  • Many thanks to Jobber, Ephraim, beinoni and Tevye. You see clearly what is happening.

    The rest of you: I am sorry you feel my opinions are shrill and less than nuanced. Doubtlessly the Israelites thought the same of Isaiah’s and Jeremiah’s prophecies. Doubtlessly many thought the same about Churchill’s warnings in the late 1930s. That said, I sincerely hope you turn out to be right. I would rather have to eat my words than have Europe become the site of a second Holocaust–of Christians and secularists as well as Jews.

    Lastly, contrary to what some of you implied, I never sought to prohibit leila from posting here. Even if I had that ability I would not do it. But I still think she and those of you who agree with her are wrong. I will go now since it is forbidden to further rebuke people who will not listen. Go in peace. Shalom al Yisrael.

  • Jobber, the post that you originally used “vermin” in and that I responded to was the following, regarding the parents of the kid who was shot:

    #

    His parents are happy now, they have one less mouth of vermin to feed, they will get money from various rich arabs.

    Comment by Jobber — 11/4/2005 @ 10:24 am

    I am not sure why you pretend that it was some general remark about demonstrators, terrorists, or anything else when it was clearly a remark about children to feed. Palestinian children. In this particular case, you were speaking of the views of Palestinian parents who went on to donate their son’s organs, but you couldn’t have known that. Regardless, it was an extraordinarily ugly thing to say about these parents, their children, and Palestinian children in general. That is what I was responding to.

    I never suggested as you imply that Israel doesn’t have enemies. YOu have a very odd way of arguing, you insert phrases the other person didn’t say or even imply and then you argue against said phrases. I am willing to own up to any words I actually type. However I am totally unwilling to own up to words you type for me. Cheers.

  • beinoni, I never said there wasn’t a contest of civilizations as baadchen stated with Fundamentalist Islam on one side. I just said that is not, by and large, what is happening in France. My words:

    And by the way, I don’t doubt for a moment there is a battle underway between Fundamentalist Islam and its perceived or actual enemies, modernity, the West, Zionism, etc. I just don’t have any reason to believe that is main current of what has been going on in France the past fortnight.

    beinoni, I have no way of knowing whether you are familiar with the politics of different French newspapers, but Le Figaro is considered firmly on the right. The following is a comment from one of their editorials on the riots as translated in the Guardian:

    “Is Islam at the heart of the current violence? Not as far as one can tell. The solution seems to lie in reaffirming everyone’s rights and responsibilities.”

    The rest of the comment and further ones from the Sarkozy and the French press can be found at:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/france/story/0,,1636343,00.html

    Clearly, something could change to take these riots of the realm of disaffected violent youth into the realm of the fundamentalists of their communities, but it hasn’t happened yet. Isn’t it enough of a problem for France without tarring it with the fundamentalist brush?

  • Ephraim, I have a lot to reply to your post, but it will have to wait as I have to leave for work here in DC, also a target in the “clash of civilizations” argument. Just briefly, again, I would say look carefully at who is rioting in France at the moment, the generation they come from and their lifestyle. More later.

  • Here is a very interesting piece on a political journalist’s blog on the background of the French riots. It’s long but well worth reading and draws on his own decade-long stay in France. It is especially important for the information on how France treated the original immigrants in its government-sponsored push to bring them from North Africa and how the ghettos of the banlieue or suburbs arose as government projects designed to keep the new populations segregated. There is also a lot about the depth of hatred against Sarkozy. Now to work…

  • Leila, as I said, I do not doubt for a moment that French racism is certainly one of the contributing factors. I have never believed for a moment that racism is a specifically American problem.

    At some point this becomes a chicken-or-the-egg question. Is the increasing Islamism of the Arabs in France a reaction to French racism or not (probably yes)? Or is it simply impossible for a predominantly Catholic France to absorb large numbers of Muslims and still retain its quintessential Frenchness (also probably yes)?

    For sure, France is paying the price for its colonial past and its shameful treatment of the Arabs it imported to do the work the white French didn’t want to do. But even saying that, the question still remains:

    Can France integrate the Arab Muslims and still remain French? I am not making any sort of value judgment here, I am asking a simple question.

    As I said, if one wants to create a post-ethnic/religious/nationalist state, this should be quite possible. However imperfectly we have managed it here in the US, such a thinng as a multi-ethnic, multi-religious polity is quite possible, so long as everyone buys into the basic premise on which the state is founded. In the US, this is a specifically political idea and does not, of necessity, have anything to do with race, culture, or religion, theoretically, anyway.

    I do not believe this is true of France or any of the European countries. The problem with France and countries like it is that they are first and foremost ethnic entities. France was not created by an act of will as a democracy like the US was. It is an ethnic state onto which democracy was forcibly grafted. In that sense, France will be France regardless of the kind of government is has. It will define itself as French based on things like blood, soil, culture, language, shared history, and religion, even as atrophied as it is (“nos ancestres, les Gauls“).

    The whole European Community experiment is precisely for the purpose of doing away with such things since Europe believes that it is precisely the devotion to blood and soil that brought Europe to the brink of total destruction. But is it really possible to foribly create a state where the ties of blood, religion, and shared history are meaningless? As Jews, we should understand that people do not give their loyalty to a political bureaucracy, they give it to what that bureaucracy is supposed to represent: a people and a nation with a certain ethos. The state is only the means by which the people is protected and the means by which it functions.

    So, regardless of who you think is right, the question still remains: is the national ethos of France compatible with the increasingly Islamist sentiment of the unassimilated Arabs?

    To the extent that the Arabs wish to assimilate as French, without insisting that the French kowtow to Islam, and to the extent that the French are willing to accept them on those terms, this problem should be solvable. So, the French may wind up being not so white. So what?

    However, to the extent that Islamism becomes the working philosophy of the Arabs in France a la Tariq Ramadan and jihadists like him who are surely attempting to harness and direct the rage of the Arabs to their own goal of overthrowing the French state and replacing it with an Islamist state (and it is their goal, as outrageous as some people may think this to be), this will be impossible, and we should expect French attitudes to harden and the eventual rise to power of a Le Pen-style demagogue.

    All I can say is that I hope all the Jews have left France by then.

    On one thing I agree with you for sure: France has sown the wind and is reaping the whirlwind.

  • Oh, yeah: the article Leila cited refers to a 28-year old “youth”.

    Youre kidding, right?

    Regardless of one’s politics, calling a soon-to-be middle-aged man a “youth”, so as to somehow indicate that he is just a child who, presumably, is not mature enough to control himself, is, well, stupid, and indicative of something very wrong in the world-view of people who espouse such beliefs.

    That’s like Bush saying he’s not going to talk about the hard-drinking, coke-snorting wild days of his “youth” during his mid-40s or Henry Hyde putting down the years-long extra-marital affair with a married woman in which he engaged during his mid-40s as a “youthful indiscretion”.

    Some things just don’t wash.

  • Ephraim! Tut, tut. You’re putting words in Leila’s mouth. And if there’s one thing that Leila doesn’t like, it’s people putting words in her mouth.

  • No, I’m not. The “You’re kidding, right?” was rhetorical.

    However, she cited the article, not me. So I assume that in the main she supports its contentions and general point of view.

  • Ephraim,

    I cited the article because I thought it was interesting and would add to the debate. I will admit to having only skimmed it before I added the URL this morning right before I started work. I had noticed it on another blog I read as a link. I didn’t notice the 28 year old youth but I would agree that is ludicrous. It is one characterizatio of his, but indeed a stupid one.

    I think you are still implying that Islamism has a lot to do with the present troubles in France. I don’t believe so, at least not at the present, I have explained why, and I have cited agreement from other sources like Le Figaro that is a newspaper far from sharing my politics. I could cite more or talk about my own experiences living in France, but I have a feeling you will still believe these riots are all about Islamism.

    About French ethnicity as Gauls etc. going way back, well that is kind of a strange Le Pennish perspective. Personally I am not real big on the blood and soil rap. I don’t doubt some people agree with JMP about such matters. I would note however that lots of Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese, Sephardic Jews, etc. are also far from French but were eventually assimilated. Sarkozy, of Hungarian descent, is not French French and yet he is the pointman for the government’s response along with Villepin. None of these or many other groups absorbed by the French have the shared language and history you speak of. Many are Catholic so they have that, although as someone very familiar with the elaborate Catholicism of Iberia and Italy, I don’t think France with its austerity and tradition of anti-clericalism really matches up. You just have to enter a French church to know that. In any case, perhaps you are just suggesting Muslims will never fit in. I am not that pessimistic. A very large proportion of the Muslims in France are nominally Muslim the way the French are nominally Catholic. Birth, marriage, burial rites, that kind of thing. But it really doesn’t matter. As many Muslim youth and young adults have said when interviewed, they were born there, they may speak flawless French, they have more of that culture than the culture of their familial heritage, but they have the look, the names, and the stigma of the colonized. Some with the right phenotypic look “pass” as has happened with some minorities in the US, but most cannot or wouldn’t want to try.

  • taltman, good to know that you like to have people say that you said things you didn’t say. I confess to only wishing to be responsible for what I do say. How old fashioned of me. I will try to embrace your POMO fragmented, the author-is-dead approach to attribution, but it may take me some time.

  • Today’s news stories all seem to agree that the rioting in France is slowing down considerably as the curfew and other emergency measures are enforced. So this whole discussion may be pretty much moot.

  • One morning i awake and i find my country under seige by the enemy, i wake up and look into my brothers and sisters eyes all i see is flames and fire, this the country where they’ve lived and none nothing except.. I don’t expect them to walk out the door and tell me they’re going to school and die in God’s sake but when i hear about it i almost know its not far from the truth.. I am a palestinian girl 20 yrs old lived in the states my whole life, Arabs just like you “Arab-Jews” whether you deny your arab descent or not have blood have hearts, my land is being taken away from me by you i expect my children to understand that if we die we’re not dying because we’re making life for the future, you could never imagine sending your children to war because your to afraid of death, for Muslims death is merely symbolic of a transfer from one place to another, for us to die nobly is to move to a better place in god’s hands…we dont expect our children to walk out the door holding stones ready to die, we expect our children to walk out the door ready to pave the future for new generations of Arab-Palestinian-Muslims..

  • You are misreading me, Leila. I do not necessarily support one view or another, I am simply posing questions.

    The feeling of belonging to a people or nation is a mental construct, a spiritual condition. I have no doubt that the majority of Muslims in France could come to see themselves as French should they desire to do so, and the French could come to accept them as such, should they desire to do so.

    The assimilation of various originally foreign groups into the French body politic is neither here nor there. Of course it is possible for a Hungarian like Sarkozy to become French. All he has to do is want to become French and give France his first allegiance. And it is foolish to ignore the basic commonalities between different Europeans that would aid their assimilation into another European country. Anybody who thinks race and religion don’t matter here is fooling themselves. Would I be more foreign in China or in, say Denmark? Where would I have a harder time assimilating, if I should choose to do so?

    The question is the extent to which France, in the aggregate, is willing to accept a large population with a distinctly Muslim culture and the extent to which the Muslims are willing to compromise on certain things, as all immigrants must, to become French. All I am saying is that to the extent they wish to maintain their specifically Muslim and Arab alegiances at the expense of their French ones, they will never become French and the French will not accept them as such. I have no idea how this will work out.

    I am quite aware that plenty of people think the riots have nothing to do with Islam or Islamism. I just think they’re whistling past the graveyard, that’s all. (I have already said that I believe that institutionalised French racism is just as big a contributing factor.) Europe has bet the house on its ability to transcend racial, religious, and cultural barriers to creat a non-denominational post-ethnic society. In the abstract, this may be an admirable goal. Personally, given Europe’s history, I am not hopeful that this will happen. The Msulims in Europe will eventually call their bluff. And the shit will really hit the fan then.

    All European nations with large, restive, poverty-stricken and unassimilated Muslim populations will eventually face this same problem.

    Also, the fact thay you personally do not buy into the blood and soil argument does not mean that other people don’t. These riots will not only call into question the self-identity of the rioters themselves and how they are perceived by most French, it will cause many French people to look at themselves and start thinking about who and what they are. And a lot of them are going to come down on the side of the nativists.

  • Jobber, I believe in the post I cited that you wrote you called the children “vermin.”

  • Laila, others, your comments show you to be caring, clear and critical thinkers. May I suggest jihadwatch.org and dhimmiwatch.org for more insight on Islam. To all of us: Our sages tell us that it is a moral obligation to be critical thinkers.

  • Bechira, i looked at the sites, but i would disagree with you that they give “insight on Islam.” They give insight on some extremist elements in a religion that has over 1 billion adherents from far East Asia to the Americas. I will continue to check out the sites, but your characterization makes as much sense as learning about Judaism from a site that monitors the followers of Meir Kahane.

  • PS: And before someone asks, yes, I am much more worried about Al Queda and violent Jihadists than I am worried about Kahanist loonies. However that is a matter of numbers and organization and determination, not a difference in individual levels of racist hate.

  • It is a misconception to think of Islamic terrorists as “extremist elements” within Islam. They are considered the “true believers”. Tell me, what does a fundamentalist Jew look like? He’s likely studying Torah; taking over the world and killing non-believers is unthinkable. One has only to look at the history of Islam to see its military-political agenda. Here is an excellent intro to that brief history. Those 1.5 billion you mention (elements among them) are fighting wars in every place on earth where they border non-Muslims. So it is not a matter of how many are actually engaged in terrorism, but the underlying ideology which causes them to reject the existence of “the other”. And it really rings my bell (to quote Marty Roberts) when Jews use Kahane’s name as an example of Jewish extremism. How many of you have actually read anything by Kahane? What is it about us Jews that we brand our finest patriots as extremists? We didn’t ask that we should have to constantly fight for our survival but should we really admonish those among us who would attempt to rouse us so that we might know what we are faced with? He really wasn’t all that extremist you know. I have many non-Jewish friends that hold “Kahane-like” pro-Israel and anti-Islamic sentiments. There are many good reasons to reject Islam outright as a legitimate religion. Someone said recently that what we are witnessing cannot really be considered a :”Clash of Civilizations” (the famous book by Samuel Huntington) because Islam is not a civilization: it only seeks to destroy.

  • Many of us find it hard to condemn an entire group as that seems like racism. Isn’t that what we’ve been taught? We’ve been taught and we believe that most people are basically good and that it is only troublemakers who cause problems. The history of Islam, though, tells us that this is not so. This idea really is so radical; it rubs up against everything that we’ve been taught to believe, about ourselves, human nature, and the world around us. It took me a long time to grasp it and it wasn’t easy. I don’t expect to change anyone’s mind, but I consider it a duty as a Jew to share what I know, that it might be one small step toward bringing clarity to fellow Jews.

  • Bechira,

    Meir Kahane was one of “our greatest patriots”? “Reject Islam outright as a legitimate religion”?

    Congratulations. I’m speechless.

  • Leila, I was referring to the supporters of hamas and the other terrorists. I am sorry if this was unclear in my post, I have not had quite enough time to post this week as the work load at work has become enormous, and my weekends have also been filled w/ other works.
    I have nothing against the law abiding Arabs in Israel or anywhere. WHen I lived in Jerusalem for example, I would have the cleaning fellow, a Palestinian from Rammallah area, come in for coffee and we would hang out. He invited me to his home as well. I had other Israeli Arabs friends as well, that I met through my GF at the time, and through a group that I was active in, that was about communication skills.
    I do apologize for my overly quick posting in this particular thread this week, do to my compromised free time recently.

  • Jobber, I am going to drop it. It seemed crystal clear that when you said:

    “His parents are happy now, they have one less mouth of vermin to feed, they will get money from various rich arabs.”

    that vermin could only refer in that sentence to children, plus personally I don’t really care to use that kind of language, too Nazi era as ck pointed out. But no need to continue this particular wrinkle of the topic. Thanks for your reply.

  • good to know that you like to have people say that you said things you didn’t say

    Leila: When did I say that? Please, don’t put words in my mouth. I guess it’s good to know that you like to say that other’s like to have people say that you said things you didn’t say. 😉

    And please, ease up on the post-modernism. Though that might explain why you seem so confused…

    Ephraim: your post was rhetorical, mine was sarcastic… no worries. 🙂

  • taltman, i am not a fan of pomo, i was just going with your flow since you seemed to be ridiculing my old-fashioned need for correct attribution. i thought you would enjoy being misattributed yourself. Apparently not.

  • Yes, Kahane was a patriot, despite what the “politically-correct” (read: sanitized) Jewish media would like you to believe. And yes, Islam is an evil cult – not a religion at all in the normal sense of the word. Nice muslims seem very nice indeed – till they get the orders to slit your throat!

  • Beshira, Just curious about what your definition of religion would be “in the normal sense of the word.” I am wondering, since Islam is a religion in the direct Abrahamic monotheistic line of Judaism and Christianity, has existed since the 7th century, and has more than a billion members. The scholarly works of reference I am surrounded by not to mention historical convention calls it a religion. Do you feel there are any traditions in the world other than Judaism that are religions? Is Christianity one? What makes Islam not one, but Christianity or others included if so? History of violence? I think you would lose very quickly on that criterion since no religion’s hands are very clean. Please define your terms. What is a religion in the “normal sense of the word” if not one of monotheism’s top 3? About Kahane, I don’t rely on the “Jewish media” (how odd of you to use that term) for my perceptions of him. YOu didn’t just say he was a patriot (are all patriots good?) you said “one of our greatest patriots.” Very high praise indeed for a man who was a thug, a racist, and an unstinting advocate of violence. I didn’t get this from the “Jewish media,” but rather from reading the man’s own words, the words of his followers, having heard the guy speak, and having seen his supporters chasing peaceful people they disagreed with down the streets of New York with baseball bats.

  • PS: Beshira, It’s fascinating how you talk about over a billion believers in a religion all as people who, as soon as given some “orders” would each and every one automatically slit your throat. Were they each issued the knives already? Is there a secret handshake? I mean clearly they would need to be prepared, all 1 billion plus of them for the alert of the “orders.”

  • Also, anyone with even a cursory knowledge of Islam knows that it’s a decentralized religion. It ain’t the Roman Catholic Church. So no one imam or ayatollah could “order” every Muslim in the world to do anything, any more than a single gadol hador (or vaad) could “order” every Jew to do something.

    As for Islam not being a legitimate religion, it seems to me that in terms of both theology and practice it’s fairly close to Judaism, certainly much closer than Christianity is–and I don’t see anyone knocking Christianity on this thread. Also, while some may not see Islam as a “civilization,” any student of medieval history knows that for centuries the Islamic world was much more sophisticated than most of Christendom: better medicine, better science, greater literacy, and more openness to inquiry. It is indeed sad that extremist forms of Islam have grown in the last 50 years or so, and we must oppose them. But at the same time we must remember that the ancestors of our Christian neighbours, with whom we now get along, went through centuries of extremism themselves–but they evolved out of it.

    These comments, BTW, are not directed specifically to Bechira, who I suspect won’t be swayed by them. I make them so that potentially uninformed visitors, especially young people, will get a broader perspective on the matter. Shalom and Salaam.

  • voice, to be fair to Beshira, she didn’t specify the billion in her phrase:

    And yes, Islam is an evil cult – not a religion at all in the normal sense of the word. Nice muslims seem very nice indeed – till they get the orders to slit your throat!

    But I was assuming that if she thinks the “nice muslims” are all ready to do this, that the not-so-nice ones are too, and eventually you get up to the population don’t you. Plus she did mention that mysterious “orders” thing. I am still trying to figure out what she thinks is the definition of a religion.

    I agree with you about the closer parallels between Islam and Judaism in a whole host of ways, which is intriguing considering Christianity’s direct origins among Jews. There is a really fascinating book I read called “The Muslim Jesus,” by Tarif Khalidi, that shows how the earliest Islamic commentators expressed their differences with Christians while still maintaining Jesus as a prophet, along with Moses, Abraham etc.

  • Yes, Islam was great once.

    However, those days are long gone.

    Get over it.

    It is possible that Islam may one day evolve out of the state in which it now finds itself. The Arab world ranks just about dead last in pretty much every category that modern people use to judge the degree of development of a given society. To cite just one example, minus its oil wealth the Arab world’s aggregate GNP is only equal to that of Spain. I can’t remember the name of the report, but there was a report a while back, commissioned by the Arab League itself, IIRC, that published these findings. So it weasn’t a Zionist plot.

    Islmaism, is, essentially, the response of the Muslim world to the realization that the hated West, and the even more hated Jews, have outstripped them in pretty much every meaningful category. They can’t stand it, and so they blow people up.

  • Oh, yeah, another thing, before we get all gooey about the closeness of Islam and Judaism:

    Islam very consciously sees itself not as a religion separate from Judaism and Xianity but as the final and perfect development of the true religion passed down from Avraham Avinu. Xianity is based on the same kind of replacement theology; it is only because Xians are so horrified at the results of this attitude that it has come to be de-emphasized.

    Mohammed is called “the Seal of the Prohets”. Muslims believe that he was vouchsafed the final, perfect revelation that would correct all of the distortions introduced by the Jews and the Xians that sullied the one true religion. Thus, when Muslkims say they respect all of the prohets that went before Mohammed, this does not mean that they respect the continued viability of their message or the continued viablity of the religions that are based on their messages.

    The coming of Mohammed renders all previous revelations obsolete and of no value. Everything else becomes last year’s model, only fir for the wrecking yard. Muslims see Islam is the only true understanding of the one true religion and believe that while Judaism and Xianity may have been useful once they have both been superceded by Islam, which was revealed specifically to take their place.

    The implications of this basic approach should be perfectly obvious. So let’s just keep things in perpective, OK?

  • Ephraim, the largest Muslim country in the world is nowhere near the Middle East, yet you seem fixated on Arabs. But Arabs are a minority of the world’s Muslims. They are not even a quarter of that population. But that would complicate matters wouldn’t it with all the blanket pronouncements on Islam.

    Also, did you actually mean to say “Islam was great” or “Islamic civilization was great”? If it was the former, it seems odd phrasing. I can’t hear someone saying “Christianity was great,” “Judaism was great,” etc. in the sense I assume you mean.

  • Ephraim, I am not sure who was in danger of getting all gooey. Also I would say all religions claim primacy of one kind or another. They may claim it without seeking to convert people, or they may proselytize. As for Christians not claiming it today as much as Muslims, you must not have met many Southern Baptists or members of many other Christian denominations who today use terms like “completed Jew” to express what they think every Jew should become. Christianity is easily as proselytizing a religion as Islam, if not more, and in its texts makes crystal clear who is and who is not going to heaven unless they embrace Jesus. Those Christians denominations who seek to emphasize such points are quite numerous and powerful in the US, if not in European countries and other less religious places.

  • Ephraim — You are correct that Islam from its inception has been a supercessionist religion. However, let me quote your own words regarding the original “replacement theology” religion:

    “It is only because Xians are so horrified at the results of this attitude that it has come to be de-emphasized.”

    Exactly. So who’s to say that one day normative Islam won’t also reject or at least de-emphasize its own supercessionism? Especially when increasing numbers of Muslims realize that intolerance of other religions brings only misery and ruin to their society. It’s too early to say for sure, but there are signs that this sea change is already beginning. Canadian Muslim author Irshad Manji has received flak from many of her co-religionists for her book, The Trouble with Islam Today. However, she testifies that many Muslim men and women from around the world have thanked her for writing this critique of Islamic extremism. To that end, she has had the book translated into Arabic and study groups in such countries as Jordan have formed around it. This is one small example, true, but you know, baby steps… 🙂

  • One last thing, Ephraim, it almost seems as though you are threatened by the close doctrinal, historical, and practical links between the three Abrahamic faiths. It’s almost like some Muslims who are uncomfortable with the blend of Jews, Christians, and polytheists who were the culture of pre-Islamic Arabia, or some Christians who don’t like thinking of the historical Jesus or his followers as Jews.

  • Ephraim, I wish I could remove that last post. It was a thought I had, but better left untyped. Sorry for the personalization of asking if you felt threatened.

  • I’m not uncomfortable with it, leila. I just think people make too much of it in a dishonest attempt to try and square a circle. “See, we’re all the same! Can’t we just get along?” You ought to know that family arguments are worse than any other kind.

    Yes, there is a close relationship. Not to sound cheeky, but so what? What does this mean? Many Xians have come to grips with the Jewish origins of Xianity. I’m not so sure that a Muslim would dream of admitting antyhing like that. AFAIK, they believe that the revelation to Mohammed was totally original and perfect.

    I think it is precisely because of the close relationship between the “three Abrahamaic faiths” (g-d, I hate that euphamism) that there is so much trouble between us. Many Xians and Muslims hate us because they know deep down in their kishkas that we were there first. Both of their religions are based upon proving that G-d rejected us and now favors them. The fact that we do not accept that and that we are still here in spite of their best efforts to get rid of us just drives them batshit. It is sibling rivalry writ large. We are the firstborn and they just can’t stand it.

    When the Muslims get over it, as a lot of Xians appear to have done, things will improve.

  • Ephraim, I didn’t use it as a euphemism, and I don’t think it is. Just a synonym, but I will admit it is a hokey one. I could as easily have said three linked monotheisms, but this was shorter. I think the fact that Islam incorporates prophets from the other two is evidence of something other than something totally original. Yes they claim to be the top of the ladder, but they still incorporate the rungs, for what it’s worth, which may not be much. More important I think is the “people of the book” rule or better if not equal treatment for Jews (and Christians) in Muslim-ruled societies like Moorish Andalucia, the site of some of the greatest Jewish culture ever produced. Until relatively recently in historical terms, Jews could expect less violence or ill treatment in Muslim societies than in Christian ones.

  • Like I said, leila, so what? Yes, I am aware that if you go by the total body count the Muslims were less bad than the Xians. Big deal. That was then, this is now.

    “Better if not equal”? Better than whom and equal to what? You aren’t saying that Jews were on an equal footing with Muslims in Muslim lands, do you? I don’t know anyone who has claimed that, even the most Islamo-centric of historical apologists. You’re joking, right?

    Anyway, what is the purpose of citing the fact that the Muslims were historically somewhat less oppressive than the Xians? The Andalusian experience was a blip on the radar. So for a few years they were kinda nice to us. What exactly does this prove? That if the Muslims are secure and powerful that maybe they won’t oppress the Jews who live among them?

    Anyway, this is boring. What does this teach us for the modern world? You don’t mean to use this as some sort of model, that if we have to be dhimmis that we would be better off under the Muslims than the Xians? This is suppoosed to make me happy?

    How about we NOT be dhimmis? Now there’s a thought.

  • Leila, Honestly, I don’t know where to begin. Here is an article by Hugh Fitzgerald, who has written many books on Islam. Despite what Islam would like you to believe, Christianity is so much closer to Judaism — in many ways but primarily in terms of the moral and ethical values it offers mankind — than anything to be found in Islam. The US Constitution is a paraphrasing of our Torah! Don’t take my word for it. Read/see for yourself. Islamic scholarship on the subject should be treated with a great deal of scepticism since it is their religious duty to lie, sow confusion and lead “infidels” astray. Don’t believe me. Find out for yourself. How about Orianna Falacci? Bernard Lewis? How about Winston Churchill? Are all these people racist? Read some serious scholarship on the subject. I’d be happy to share some references with you. And to answer your question, I accept the reality of other widely practiced “religious cultures”, hinduism, confucianism, buddhism, etc etc, though I do believe that Judaism is the only “correct” one (hey, they can’t all be right!). But I do not accept the validity of Islam, just like I don’t accept scientology either. It is our moral duty to think critically, and that means having rational judgement. Without our critical faculty we are nothing.

  • Ephraim, I realize English can have ambiguity in words, but i would have thought from context it was clear I didn’t mean they were equal, just that they got better treatment than if they hadn’t been people of the book. Maybe some more explicit punctuation would have helped, or probably different phrasing.

    I don’t agree with you that Andalucia was a blip or that, until recently, Muslim societies were only “somewhat” less oppressive to Jews than Christian ones. I think given the bloody history of Europe the difference was rather dramatic. But as you say, right now it is probably irrelevant. Certainly it is irrelevant to people here.

  • Bechira, ok, I see by your use of “religious cultures” to refer to what most other people would call religions that you have the most narrow possible definition of religion. Just Judaism I guess, maybe Christianity since you capitalize it? Who knows. It is news to me that one would have to embrace a religion in order to call it a religion.

    I am familiar with Bernard Lewis and Oriana Fallaci, i doubt very much either the famous Orientalist scholar or the famous journalist would deny Islam the status of a religion as you explicitly did. However I do know some extreme right wing military leaders and talk show hosts in the US who share your opinion if that is any comfort.

  • I didn’t mean to not capitalize them…and it’s not a question of right or left – I don’t consider myself rightwing at all. The word religion didn’t even exist until recently; essential Judaism is itself a “religious culture” more than a religion per se; that is, it is a “lived reality”, not something we do in addition to a secular existence. Calling Bernard Lewis an “Orientalist” is a bit ridiculous. He specialty is Arabic-Islamic history, not East Asian studies…just another semantic trick played upon naive western minds to confound and confuse.

  • Ok. If Islam is a religion, then it is a decidedly evil one; one whose main thrust is a) converting the rest of the world or b) killing them if conversion is not possible or c) relegating them to impoverished second-class status if a and b are not practical. Islam’s secondary goal is to control its society such that women have no rights and men have no choice. Freedom, freedom of conscience, human rights, education, economic progress, music, dance, art, literacy, spirit of inquiry, medicine, value of life — these are threatening foreign concepts to Islam. And despite what you may have read about Islamic history, it has always been so (save for a few brief periods in time). What part of this do you disagree with?

  • I am using hyperbole to make a point, leila.

    Yes, if the only choice is to live under Xian or Muslim rule, history shows that we were, on the whole, better off under the Muslims. The Muslims had their fanatics too, though. You have heard of the Almohads in Spain? So it was not all a bed of roses. Also, do a little research on the position of the Jews in Charlemagne’s empire, for example. They were allowed to own land and carry weapons, and they were not ghettoized. Until the 1st Crusade, the Jews were not that badly off in Xian Europe. It was only after the Crusades got going that things got really ugly.

    All that being said, I still just don’t see how it is really relevant. This point of Muslim tolerance is often brought up, but all it amounts to is that the Xians were worse. What conclusion am I supposed to draw from this? That if we went back to the bad old days a Jew should pray to be ruled by Muslims rather than Xians?

    OK, fine, point taken. But as I said, so what? The choice today is not between lesser or greater degrees of dhimmitude. It is between being a dhimmi and being free. So long as Islam is the law of the land, a non-Muslim will never be free or equal to a Muslim (just ask the Egyptian Copts) and has nothing on which to rely except the whim of his ruler.

    The reason I object to this hagiography of the Golden Age in Spain is because people use it as code for “See? Muslims and Jews co-existed peacefully once, why can’t they do it again?”. But this co-existrence was based on legally mandated Jewish inferiority, even if some Jews rose to positions of power and prominence, and the peace was maintained only insofar as the Jews were content not to protest their lot or try to rise above their station. Jim Crow through and through.

    You wouldn’t point to Oprah and Michael Jordan today and say “See? The blacks are doing very well here” and expect anyone to take you seriously, would you? The same thing applies to the Jews under the Muslims.

  • Bechira, ok. so now I get it, Judaism isn’t exactly a religion either. I am not sure what you mean by the word religion only existing recently. You must have an interesting definition of that term as well since it is a Latin word. But I will say you may have only recently made the acquantance of Mr. Lewis or perhaps you didn’t realize he is often called an Orientalist, by both friends and enemies, and it has to do with the traditional name for a very traditional approach to studies of the East, including the Middle East. It is not a term referring to East Asian studies.

    See for example this extremely favorable biographical essay on Lewis by Martin Kramer.

    http://www.geocities.com/martinkramerorg/BernardLewis.htm

  • Ephraim, there may be discrimination against blacks in America, but it doesn’t account for the appalling conditions that black families find themselves in. There was terrible racism in the US against the Irish and Jews, against Pakistanis, Chinese and others. Culture does play a role to some extent. Still, it’s true that society has not made any effort to meet the special needs of black and native cultures, but it is also true that social theorists and educators have themselves been groping for answers. One thing though is certain. What we call underpriviledged groups in America do not live in slavery, they do not live under tyrrany, and they do not live as less than full citizens under the law.

  • Ephraim, I think I made it clear before that I realized you thought the history of Jews in Muslim lands was irrelevant or misleading. That is how I ended my last post to you. I don’t think I would use the historical anachronism of a recent term like Jim Crow to describe the situation, but I made it explicitly clear that I realize it was unequal. As for what Jews should pray for, I assume it is to be ruled by Jews.

  • Bechira, all I would say is that at present societies that are predominantly Muslim are very diverse. Some are incredibly oppressive toward women and everyone else, others are far less so and have enshrined secularism in their systems. There is plenty of art and learning in Muslim countries. One of the few actual theocracies in the Muslim world has directors doing some of the best cinema in the world. I am sure fundamentalists object, yet it happens. Believe what you wish, but there are over 1 billion Muslims who behave different ways in difference places. There is no “Islam” as the active subject of a sentence as you have it doing this and that to conquer the world. There are only Muslims, some with good intentions, some with bad intentions, and most just wanting to be left alone to live their lives.

  • Leila, I will never know why there are nice Jewish girls like you who would be apologists for the most repressive culture on Earth, a culture moreover that hates you! There is no diversity, art or learning in the Muslim world. They have no teaching hospitals, no symphony orchestras, no research centres! The 23 middle-eastern Arab countries (pop 300 million) produce less than Spain! They translate fewer than 200 English titles per year! Their cinema might look lyrical and poetic to you, from your perspective, but that is only because filmmakers are unable to express themselves openly, so they are forced to do trite work that looks sweet to our jaded eyes or heavily allegorical work that also looks sweet and poetic but is merely crafted to not directly offend. By any stretch, it is certainly not anywhere near the best cinema in the world. The culture of Islam is against individulity, the Koran is against individuality; it is heavily collective, so yes, Islam by its very nature is “active”…even if you meet nice Muslims, which there are, the culture, the religion itself is actively seeking to destroy ours — it is not extremist elements in the religion, it is the religion itself. Did you read the Fitzgerard article I linked to? Perhaps you would find it offensive to your cultural sensibilities.

  • If someone were to say, “Judaism is a religion of evil,” I think I might question that person a little and if s/he proceeded to claim that Jews are evil because that is the nature of their religion, I might consider him an antisemite.

    Here’s an example of what it sounds like.

    Let us not be hypocritical by attacking another faith in a manner that would be unacceptable to us if the attacks were directed at Jews. There is no question that there are Muslims whose values – because of their faith – are anathema to us in the West, and make them hostile to non-Muslims, but it’s not as if Meir Kahane didn’t advocate a Jewish state modeled after Khomeini’s Iran. Am I, as a fellow Jew, evil because Kahane thought that we should live according to Hebrew scripture as defined by rabbinic laws?

  • Bechira, who told you there were no teaching hospitals in the Arab world? How bizarre to think that. It isn’t exactly difficult to learn about Arab teaching hospitals online. Who told you there are no arts? I could mention all kinds of art in all kinds of Arab countries, including music, dance, painting, cinema, literature, including Nobel Prize winning literature, calligraphy, stunning architecture, the list goes on and on. Your ethnocentricity is breathtaking, with your idea of symphony orchestras as a measure of culture, but in fact they exist in the Arab world as well. I guess you weren’t reading the papers, to take just one example, when the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra played the Kennedy Center in Washington in 2003. Yes, some Arab countries have symphony orchestras, but what a bizarre measure! After all, the region has its own set of arts as well. I guess you feel that the music of Mizrahi Jews in Israel is worthless because it isn’t a Westernized orchestra and in fact is from the region. Do I wonder where all the American oud players are? The oud, an exquisite Middle Eastern lute, is not one common in the US.

    As for the cinema I mentioned, it wasn’t from an Arab country. The theocracy I had in mind in the Middle East is Iran. And it is clear you haven’t seen much of Iranian cinema because as someone who has seen dozens of films, your characterization is desperately off. Films are produced in Iran that deal very directly with the society’s problems, including repression of women. I could name several off the top of my head without even looking them up. Some of the directors are world class, have competed at and even won Cannes, and are extensively analyzed in film scholarship as masters of their art. Even popular crowd-pleaser filmmaking there deals with controversial issues. Film is my preoccupation, so I happen to follow them. The Arab world has plenty of film production as well, but it isn’t as sophisticated as Iran in general, though there are exceptions. Again, easy for me to name them some standouts. The Arab world, again I am not sure why you focus on Arabs since they are a minority of Muslims overall, most definitely has research centers. I don’t know where you got your statistic about number of English translations, but again, how wonderfully ethnocentric of you. Is English the only language to translate from? In Lebanon, for example, an Arab country with many universities and extensive artistic culture, both local and Westernized, French is an important language along with Arabic and English. German also has a long history of academic translation in the Middle East.
    You have this very strange vision of a monolithic Arab world, somehow standing in for all of the Muslim world. Well the Arab world isn’t at all culturally monolithic, not artistically, not economically, not politically. Much less the entire Muslim world. The biggest Muslim country in the world is Indonesia. But I guess you think there is no culture there either. Or in Turkey, or Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia, or any number of other countries that are not Arab but are predominantly Muslim. I did read the piece by Fitzgerald, head of Jihadwatch. Stick with Lewis. While Lewis has his biases at least he is a scholar with a scholarly approach, rather than a polemicist who is all over the net on attack. Oh well. I realize nothing I will write here is likely to make any difference to you. I am just astonished. I know there are plenty of people who don’t know much about Arab countries, but to find someone so willfully…amazing.

  • Girlfriend, I stand by my comments. The Arab-Islamic world is a stinkhole of repression and hatred. Judeo-Christian liberal capitalist democracy is the apex of human civilization. I don’t find their culture to be charming, exotic or in the least bit interesting. I think it stinks. They prove it to the world every day on so many levels.

  • Bechira, so you stand by your comments? All your comments? How fascinating. So you even still think there are no teaching hospitals in Arab countries? Wow. Someone should alert the nine teaching hospitals in Egypt alone that they don’t exist. We can split up the work alerting teaching hospitals in other Arab countries. Just amazing. So much for Jewish traditions of prizing knowledge. I guess you never got the memo.

  • Look, they call them “teaching” hospitals, but do you really believe doctors from the west go there to learn anything? Seriously. Don’t believe the hype.

  • Look, if they’re real hospitals, why does the entire Arab elite go to the west for medical care — still to this day — despite the approx 13 trillions in oil wealth they’ve “earned” since ’73. They have next to nothing to show for it — and they admit it! They know they’re dysfuctional!

  • Bechira, so first you said, categorically, there were no teaching hospitals. Now they are fake teaching hospitals. You say all the Arab elite go for medical care to the West despite their oil wealth. How interesting considering that there are elite in Arab countries that have no oil resources. You suggest there are no Arab elite going to hospitals in their own countries. On what basis, you never say. Your criterion for what is a real teaching hospital or a fake teaching hospital depends on whether Western doctors go there to be educated? So all those teaching hospitals in non-Muslim, but third-world countries are also all fake? So Western doctors who go to teach or work at such hospitals are working out of storefronts. Stop the presses.

    Look, you’ve stated your hatred for the Arab-Islamic world. Why not leave it at that? Why state all these bizarre non-facts? Why reveal yourself as someone who didn’t know Orientalists studied the Middle East? Why claim that words like religion or teaching hospital only mean what you, Bechira, decides they mean. Why not just do your hate thing without all the dubious embellishment?

  • Because its true. It’s not a religion in the way you and I think of religion. And they’re aren’t teaching hospitals in the way we know teaching hospitals. These are not functioning societies in the normal sense and reason demands that we be honest and acknowledge this. Arab intellectuals are trying to get us to wake up and make noise about this. Two UN reports over the past eight years show the Arab world with aggregate economies and living conditions on par with sub-Saharan Africa. Genital mutiliation rates are 80-90%. Fuck the architecture (which they stole from the Spanish anyway – BL)! They blow up our brother and sisters and mothers and fathers and dance and pass candies! Where is your outrage? Fuck the cinema! Where is your outrage?

  • Damn Bechira, you’re good when you get mad. Isn’t the debate about the meaning of the word ‘they’.

    Leila may be spending so much of her time in defending the majority who don’t blow others up, that she has no time left to show her outrage for the minority who do.

    Are you over generalizing? Probably, but there clearly isn’t enough outrage, especially by the leaders of the majority in the Muslim religion. And it is of course worrisome to see those pictures of what looks like the majority dancing in celebration after another successful atrocity by that minority.

  • Bechira, I am very outraged about people being blown up. At the moment, my thoughts are with those in Amman, Jordan, one of those Arab predominantly Muslim countries that you hate so much that happens to have made a peace treaty with Israel. I detest Islamist and every other form of terrorism, no matter who is committing it, Jew, Christian, Hindu, atheist, etc. Before the horrors of 9/11, the single greatest act of political terrorism on American soil was commited by the whitest of whitebread Christians whose terrorist ideology included elements of white supremacist religion. Should his dead be comforted by the fact they weren’t blown up by Muslims? Obviously right now Islamist terror is the #1 terror threat in the world, however unlike you, I don’t see every one of the 1 billion plus Muslims as potential terrorists ready to blow me up or, as you seem to particularly fear, slit my throat. I do think about the next attack on where it is I happen to live quite often, but one still has to go to work, live one’s life etc.

    Female genital mutilation is horrific, it is also something that is practiced in a minority of the 23 Arab countries as you can see from this list from the UN. Somehow though it only seems to bother you that it is practiced in Arab countries, not in all the other places it is done. I would be happy to give you references to the Muslim Arab women in the countries that practice it who are crusading against it, in books, films, political activism, etc.

    http://www.unfpa.org/gender/faq_fgc.htm#12

    I would say that any practice of it, in the Middle East, in Africa, in Asia (or even historically by some Western doctors in the 19th and early 20th centuries)is too much practice of it.

    You opened your post by saying about Islam: “Because its true. It’s not a religion in the way you and I think of religion.”

    Kindly don’t presume to include what I think in your statement. I dare say you couldn’t include
    many other people here either. Some have already explicitly declared as much. And I am quite certain you couldn’t include Bernard Lewis. You are wrong about Spain and architecture, but that’s ok. Given everything else counterfactual that you say, I don’t expect you to keep historical chronologies straight.

  • Leila, defending Islam because there are nice Muslims is like defending Nazism because there were nice Nazis. Islam is a lot like Nazism. The Koran calls for the takeover of the world and death to non-believers. It is quite explicit. It is essentially an instruction manual for these goals. For 1400 years, Muslims have attempted to be faithful to their calling. There may be nice Muslims, but that is meaningless when we in the rest of the world are faced with an ideology that is so hostile that we have no choice but to either destroy it or otherwise render it harmless.

  • bechira, careful there. i find that comment really offensive. comparing Islam to Nazism is ridiculous and ignorant. Just as I don’t want generalizations made about myself and the rest of the Jewish community based on extremist and insensitive comments such as yours, generalizations shouldn’t be made about the entire Muslim world. Perhaps a more appropriate comparison can be made between Muslims and the Germans. While most Germans were antisemitic, they were not all murderers. Their crime was their complacency. Likewise, it may be that most Muslims are antisemitic or anti-Israel or both, but they are not all killers.

  • islam is 700 years younger than christianity. think about where the christian world was 700 years ago and you’ll see they’re actually not doing so bad.

  • You’re all a bit silly. While I love this site, I’ve said it before, Jewlicious represents a smart and sexy renewal of Jewish and Zionist pride, I need to remind myself that it’s more cultural than political. Y’rall like 20-somthings and still a bit naive maybe, a bit google-eyed with the world like isn’t it so cool and everyone just beautiful! It just takes a cursory look at the legit security and intelligence sites from across the web to cop onto the truth of Islam – that’s its more about sedition than it is a religion. I don’t what what you’re all reading (or smoking!) but the Islamists laugh at Westerners (especially Jews!) who minimize its military intent and who claim that its just a minority. They call you all “useful idiots”. Yes, there were nice Nazis, but that doesn’t change our opinion of Nazism. Islam is even more dangerous, as it pretends to be a “religion of peace” – thus fooling the enemy, unlike Nazism which never hid its intention.

  • Here is a radically different idea on why Islam has seemed to go off the rails. Part 1 is also very good. Leila & others: My apologies if I caused offence; I did not mean to come off as intolerant, condescending or shrill. Kol Tov. Shavua Tov.

  • So, getting back to the original topic, one would say that this Palestinian Muslim family which has donated their son’s organs so that Israelis may live, disproves much of what Bechira is saying.

    The danger is in stereotyping.

    That’s not to say that we should be ignorant or naive about some segments of the Islamic population and their goals. This is especially true because even 1 percent of a billion is 10 million people – twice Israel’s Jewish population.

    However, what it does indicate is that it’s not particularly useful or wise to dismiss a billion people as if they are one blob. This approach undermines the fight against this extremist segment of the Islamic population because it causes those Muslims who oppose them to be weakened, and those who are neutral to become partial to the extremists’ views.

    It’s much better, I think, to be specific about who the enemy might be. The only generalization I would make is that any time you have a force that could potentially undermine a democracy of the West, it should be confronted as if it is war and they are an enemy that must be crushed.

  • i’m still really pissed about what bechira said. i believe it’s because of people like her/him on both sides that we won’t ever achieve peace.

  • Why? People like Bechira are on the fringes. It’s only when they’re allowed to become the mainstream that one needs to worry.

  • We Jews want peace. What can you do? We’re an intellectual, rational and peaceful people. But sadly, the world is made up of people who aren’t necessarily intellectual or rational. While peace is certainly a desired state or outcome, it is not a rational goal in and of itself. You could be at peace (absence of war) and be in slavery, or under threat, or subjegated. Peace happens when both sides have more to gain by cooperating than by conflict. When that is not the case, it is pointless to bargain, to negotiate. What you’re really trying to do is convince the other side that they have more to gain through peace when they feel otherwise — and they may be right from their point of view. You know, to Islamists, the word “peace” actually means the subjegation of the House of Islam over the House of War (ie:infidels). The Islamic world feels threatened by modernity. This is not new, and it is not something that Israel and the Jews can help them with. Our best strategy is to help each other through this time of conflict, to not sacrice our moral and ethical values, and to be strong, spiritually and militarily — for they are two sides of the same coin.

  • Middle, here’s the money quote from pg2: “The law compels me to chop off the head of anyone who insults Allah and the prophet.” He’s right; that is the text and he is compelled to kill under that law — not one reference in the Koran, but over 18. So your comment should read: “…how Islam silences its critics.” To say “a few Muslim extremists” is to ignore or deny Islamic law. Why do you and others insist on the fiction of “a few extremists”? I have read many arguments against this. What percentage of the Muslim people being actively involved in jihad would change your mind? What percentage of non-active but sympathetic to jihadi methods and goals? Do you really require the Muslim people to be 100% militarily involved to dispell you of the fiction?

  • I read with interest the article and the comments below. Its an interesting site with many varied and well thought out views, however, I found distasteful the casual way in which his parents were judged for allowing him outside. If they are to blame for this.. does this mean that settlers who have been illegally building homes on land the UN clearly stated should not become settlements be regarded as equally irresponsible for putting their children at risk? Does this same easy judgement apply to children killed by guns in the US.. often guns kept at home by their own parents.

    Having lived in Israel, I can utterly contradict the idea that all israelis are rational and sane people. I spent time in hebron and other settlements where I met people armed with submachine guns and actually filmed a large group of settlers celebrating the anniversary of the death of a man who opened fire in a mosque killing a number of palestinians whilst they were worshipping. – It was one of a number of expriencese which frightened and disgusted me and reminded me of a similar feeling of fear and disgust that was aroused when watched the parents of a palestinian child encourage him to yell obsenities which I won’t repeat at jews. Both events were to 2 sides of the same coin. There is no race on earth that is better or worse than another, there are only good and bad people and your race, religion , colour , whatever has nothing to do with that.
    peace

Leave a Comment