Jeff SiddiquiPosted Sep 16, 2008 •Permalink • Printer-Friendly Version
Ethics and the persecution of Muslims
by Jeff Siddiqui
I have been reading the Jewish World Review (JWR) for quite some time and have always enjoyed the ethical and spiritual articles and comments they include in the e-zine. I find them reaching into the human soul with insights that can benefit people of every persuasion and I appreciate them grately.
At the same time, I find it very difficult to digest the misinformed, blind, fear-mongering and hate that some of their writers present; the juxtaposition of the former with the latter is particularly jarring.
I have no quibbles with a presentation of the Jewish perspective, or a perspective supporting Israel, or even one that stands against REAL terrorism (as opposed to self-defined “terror” as presented by some “experts”) or one against violence. I begin to get uncomfortable when I see people who, one would presume, are intelligent and scholarly writers, present Islam and Muslims as the evil threat to the US and the world…presented as if that is the only way to view Islam, Muslims and Arabs.
For long, I did not voice my discomfort to JWR because while, what some of their writers present, is simply one more opportunistic bash at us Muslims and at our faith, it is nothing new.
Recently however, as I read in JWR, the comments of Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir in The Jewish Ethicist (“Enabling risky behavior”) in which he said, “In Judaism, each person has an obligation to save his fellow from harm and loss”, I took a lesson from him and I felt I had to respond and at least make JWR aware of the effect their writers’ misinformation, is having on what is perhaps a naïve audience, that depends on JWR to help form their opinions, especially on Islam, Muslims and Arabs. I hoped it might help make them aware of the injury some of their writers are causing to Islam and to Muslims and Arabs (about 20% of whom are Christian)
This time as so often before, the e-zine presented a fiery article against Islam, Muslims and Arabs: war on jihad, “A day that will live in ... accommodating Islam” by Diana West.
My first objection is that the department title they had (“War on Jihad”), included the term “Jihad”, which is a term far greater than the twisted interpretation given it by most of the media, by this Administration and by numerous writers and “experts” on “terrorism”. Note I put the word ‘terrorism’ in quotes, because it is a highly subjective term that has little or no consensus of definition, not by US law-enforcement agencies or even by international ones.
My next objection was to the title of the article and its message.
Diana West used “accommodating Islam” as if this is an unimaginable mistake. Every nation that wishes to govern justly, should seek to accommodate its minority faiths; the very Christian United States began to “accommodate” Judaism not very long ago, why should there not be an accommodation for Islam, as long as it does not infringe on others?
Diana West first lays the ground for a “connection” between extremist Muslims (“Jihadists” as she terms them) and Islam, which is patently false and dangerously misleading. In her next paragraph, she places 9-11 as a “Jihadist act of war” and thus, by her own “connections” suggests that 9-11 was (if one can imagine this) an act of war by Islam. By inference, perhaps should we declare “War!” on all of Islam and perhaps launch an era of Muslim-rein…“cleansing” of Muslims?
West tries to illustrate the threat of Islam by giving an example of a “hilltop farm in rural Vermont, where goats are now raised to be slaughtered according to Islamic law”; I wonder if she could explain how that may be any different from slaughtering the same goats according to Jewish laws for kosher food?
She tries to make a fearsome case of “Islam” (as if Islam were an entity) taking over banking institutions that “now adapt themselves to Sharia banking practices” and thus, exposes her ignorance of Sharia as well. Banks are in the business of making money no matter what the source, they lend money for all sorts of lending from gambling businesses to lend money for reverse mortgages for the elderly. If there is money to be made without impacting anyone negatively, should Sharia-based lending be banned simply because Islam is involved?
Sharia is simply law crafted under guidance of the Quran, the Hadith (sayings of the prophet Mohammed) and Sunnah (actions of the prophet Mohammed). While the Quran overrides everything else, there are lots of arguments about the accuracy of certain Hadith or Sunnah…indeed, there are lots of arguments about interpretations of all three! Thus, it is quite common for Sharia codes to be wildly different from place to place; there is no monolithic code called “Sharia”
In her article, West talks about a person who is “assisting” Pentagon Deputy Secretary, “who has brought in groups to the Pentagon who have been unindicted co-conspirators to the Pentagon”. Presumably, she is talking about CAIR, an organization that serves as a watchdog to protect the rights of Muslims; CAIR has often been dimissively described as an “unindicted co-conspirator”.
This term is akin to the Germans pulling in every Jewish head of household to the village square, to find out who killed their soldier and then listing all those Jews as “unindicted murderers”.
Prosecutors in this country routinely list as unindicted co-conspirators, as many people or entities as they can imagine, when launching Grand-Jury investigation prior to indictment. They plan to keep the ones they are really after and let the others go, but in case their broad net does find another party of interest, they want to cast it wide. The list of unindicted co-conspirators is by law, required to remain sealed because of the potential damage to innocent parties but in this case, someone saw fit to inform the public that CAIR is an unindicted co-conspirator and the Hate-Islam “experts” have had a field day with it ever since.
In her article, West continues in her attack of Islam by claiming that the tragedy of 9-11 is “part of a diffuse but discernable push to advance the law of Islam”, a calumny that will live on because there is no public forum provided, in which to challenge her fantasies.
We have no objection to articles that discuss terrorist threats as long as those discussions are not disguised attempts to target Islam, Muslims or Arabs.
We may or may not agree on all positions of support for all of Israel’s actions, but such positions are entirely matters of personal prerogative, to be freely taken as long as they are not re-translated as issues against Islam, Muslims or Arabs.
We Muslims are a significant part of the fabric of this nation; in general we are as peaceful or as violent as people from any other faith or non-faith in this country although, as a norm, more of us are contributing far more than our share to the economy of our country.
Muslims are often to be found among teachers, lawyers, doctors, engineers and politicians, to hold us or our faith as threats to this nation or, to the so-called “Judeo-Christian Civilization”, is no different than a Hitlerite call against the danger from Jews…one that certainly no Jewish person or group should ever consider being connected with. Jewish World Review is an edifying e-zine that inspires and educates, I would like to believe there is no room in it, for authors who make their living by spreading misinformation and hate-mongering against Islam and Muslims.