Tags: Not | All | Moslems | Hate

Not All Moslems Hate Us

Wednesday, 04 February 2004 12:00 AM

The fact that nobody laughed didn't mean it wasn't hilarious.

It was in a New York synagogue Saturday morning. The rabbi, instead of pulling rank and delivering his own interpretation of the Torah (the Five Books of Moses, the holiest text in Jewish scripture), did something progressive. He had a genial policy of letting worthy members of the congregation come forth and give their own interpretations of whatever Torah portion we were reading that particular Sabbath morning.

And the Torah portion THAT Sabbath was a toughie. And the woman he chose from the congregation to do the interpretation may have been a "conservative" Jew religiously, but politically she was every inch an incandescent New York liberal! A feminist, in fact.

If you're not Jewish, you're excused for not seeing the combustible aspect in all this. If you ARE Jewish, you'll realize that "Saturday Night Live" rarely achieved such a rich mother lode of potential humor.

The liberal feminist was assigned the Torah reading that included, roughly, "If thy son is disobedient, talk to him. If he persists in his disobedience, talk to him some more If, however, he persists in his disobedience, take him before the religious council and THEY WILL TAKE HIM TO THE EDGE OF TOWN AND STONE HIM TO DEATH!

Instead of interpreting that Torah portion, the woman strode to the pulpit and denounced it. She defiantly rejected that section of ancient Jewish law and inveighed against it.

Help me with an analogy here? A Protestant standing up in church and hailing the pope as his supreme religious authority? A Catholic demanding condom-dispensing machines in the Vatican? A Moslem suggesting the mosque's deficit could be overcome by investing in a pig farm?

Whatever, here we had a woman appointed to explain Jewish law to the congregation bitterly denouncing it while the rabbi helplessly looked on.

Afterward, the rabbi, patiently and with a strategically correct smile, explained that the Jewish religion was alive and maturing day by day. As Jews no longer give animal sacrifices in the temple, neither do they turn over their disobedient sons to terminal stoning.

So, what's the relevance to today?

Since 9/11 I've interviewed a multitude of articulate, intelligent authors, scholars who insist Islam itself is our foe. They recite bone marrow-curdling passages from the Koran insisting that "Thou shalt not accept Jews and Christians as your friends" and "Kill the infidels!" "Surely the vilest animal in Allah's sight is the disbeliever. ... Kill them wherever you find them ... strike off their heads and every fingertip of them" and many, many more – many of them much more lurid and menacing to non-Muslims.

Many of those scholars I've interviewed have, indeed, staked out a case that Islam is our enemy and whosoever goes wobbly on that principle or fails to swallow it whole is either a stupid and useless American or an apologist for 9/11.

I'm neither. But I do have some questions and I see some opportunities.

The global Islamic population is over a billion. Are they ALL our enemies? Really? Come on, now! The first Moslems I ever met were in what used to be Yugoslavia. They were ethnically Slavic, Islamic in their faith, owing to a 400-year occupation by the Turkish Ottoman Empire, which ended only after World War I.

They drank, smoked and aspired to get out of that then-communist country – not to a Moslem theocracy but to America. History later gave them the name "Bosnian Moslems." Jihad? Forget about it!

A bit to the south we have the now-famous ethnic Albanian Moslems of Kosovo. If it weren't for the occasional classically architectured mosque – left over from Turkish rule – in Albania you'd never guess Albania had any Moslem population at all. They have a home-grown alcoholic beverage called "Raki." A strong sip or two will put your granny in the branch.

Turkey is a strong Moslem state, American ally, member of NATO, and a wannabe in the European Union. The cookie-pushers and wine-sippers of the European Union found gentle ways to tell Turkey it was a little too rough and repressive on its Kurdish inhabitants and a little too retarded in human rights and a little too un-elegant in the conveniences available in Turkish jails and overall a little too "coarse," shall we say, to raise glasses with the Frances and Germanys and Spains.

And guess what. Turkey set about addressing every single complaint to a degree that brought stomp-down approval from the Master Referee of the Free World Itself; the fabled New York Times.

A native of Islamic Algeria called in to my radio show and fortified my feeling stoutly by telling me he was fresh back from his native Algeria and totally agreed that the people there hated Osama, loved America and the West, and wanted nothing to do with Jihad. He insisted that neighboring Morocco and Tunisia felt likewise.

Libya's dictator, Moammar Gadhafi, now says to the United States, "I've decided terrorism is a miserable hobby, nuclear arms are worthless to Libya, and I prefer you Western infidels to my bearded brothers of the Jihad." And he made no effort to pretend that his timing – right after the capture of Saddam Hussein – was a coincidence!

You are now free to enjoy the Bush-haters' effort to pretend that Gadhafi's change of heart had nothing to do with America's successful mission in Iraq and the capture of Saddam Hussein.

Egypt is the unelected and unofficial leader of the Arab world. If you're going to learn Arabic, the Egyptian brand will put you in touch with the most Arabs. "They make the movies!" explained an Arab linguist.

The Egyptian government, though far from our kind of democracy, is even farther from an Islamic fundamentalist theocracy. The secular forces have maintained the upper hand over the Jihadists for over half a century.

Saudi Arabia houses the big-money malignancy that sends Jihad worldwide. If the entire Moslem world were like Saudi Arabia, this essay would have no validity.

Kuwait is no problem – unless you consider ingratitude a problem. Though they owe their liberation in 1991 to the USA, Kuwaitis aren't jumping for joy at the liquidation of Saddam's regime, which swallowed their tiny nation whole so few years ago. Ingratitude, however, doesn't topple tall buildings and kill thousands of innocents.

The Gulf Emirates are okay. They let us run the war against Saddam from Qatar and Bahrain, and the others let Americans drink booze and look at scantily clad dancing girls within sight of Saudi Arabia. Their children are studying the Koran, mind you, not "The Star-Spangled Banner," but they come across, not like bin Laden-lovers, but more like the "interesting and inscrutable Mohammedans" I studied in the sixth grade.

Once upon a time we had an Arab democracy in Lebanon. The Lebanese pray they'll have it yet again. Meanwhile, their population seems to harbor few genuine Jihadists, not counting the Hezbollah and other terrorists planted there by Syria and Iran.

Jordan under King Hussein's son is a constructive player in the Middle East, something not even denied by the traditionally hated "Zionist entity," Israel.

Moving eastward across the Islamic world we have Iran, where the feistiness of the student and anti-mullah uprising has hardened into a perpetual headline. Iran, like Libya, seems to have meditated upon and absorbed the lessons of America's mission in Iraq somewhat better than American Democrats.

Iran, already anti-al Qaeda, is careening from a terror-supporting state to something not-yet-discernable but definitively better than it's been since the late 1970s' overthrow of the shah.

Pakistan is there on center stage. President Pervez Musharraf took a life-threatening lunge toward America after 9/11 and has since survived more than one assassination attempt.

While not an ally like Britain and Poland, Musharraf is at least as helpful as he dares to be – maybe even more helpful than he SHOULD dare to be. He's cooperating even in moves as sensitive as catching Osama bin Laden in his border lair between Pakistan and Afghanistan, where the local population loves Osama, loves the Taliban, hates America and would happily murder any Pakistani prime minister who helps America.

Bangladesh, a Moslem state not frequently spoken of, may throw off a few volunteers for Osama, but we don't read of much anti-Americanism there. More and more Bangladeshis are working happily ever after in America and sending much-needed money home. Over a hundred Moslem waiters and busboys from Bangladesh lost their lives in the Windows on the World restaurant atop the World Trade Center on 9/11.

Indonesia is much more victim than villain. Terrorist car bombs took over 200 lives in Bali in October 2002, severely damaging the lucrative tourist trade there. Jihadist groups loosely connected to al Qaeda mingled with separatist Islamic forces on the island of Sulawesi and elsewhere in that vast archipelago keep Indonesia interesting to our warriors against terrorism.

The FBI gives the Indonesian government only fair marks for cooperating with America but good marks on catching and prosecuting its homegrown terrorists on its own. Considering that Indonesia has the largest Moslem population in the world, it probably has the fewest troublemakers per capita than any Moslem country except Albania.

What country volunteered to go to Saddam Hussein's aid? None. What country today openly sides with Osama bin Laden? None. So, instead of a portrait of over 1 billion Moslems under strict orders from Allah to kill all of us unbelievers, maybe there are sticks to be poked here, carrots to be dangled, alliances to be formed, games to be played.

There was no evidence during World War II that sizable numbers of the German and Japanese populations were on our side. During the Cold War there was abundant evidence that we had lots of friends inside communist countries. In fact, the coldest part of the Cold War was the frosty relationship between the captive populations and their communist masters.

There's no one single "Islamic world." There are many. And far from all of them are against us.

Some of my best friends are Moslems who hate Osama. Let's try to find ways to get out there and manufacture some more.

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The fact that nobody laughed didn't mean it wasn't hilarious. It was in a New York synagogue Saturday morning.The rabbi, instead of pulling rank and delivering his own interpretation of the Torah (the Five Books of Moses, the holiest text in Jewish scripture), did...
Not,All,Moslems,Hate
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2004-00-04
Wednesday, 04 February 2004 12:00 AM
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