I want to talk to you this moning about a matter of some importance for the pro-Israel / pro-Jewish / pro democracy movement.
(And, really, the pro-Israel / pro-Jewish part is redundant because if one is not pro-Israel then, pretty much by definition, one is anti-democratic and, although vocal anti-Zionists may disagree, we can get into the nitty-gritty on that question some other time.)
First, it needs to be stressed that this is not just about Jews or just about Israel, but about a political, religious, non-democratic ideological trend that is spreading throughout the Middle East and the West grounded in the movement to spread al-Sharia, which we typically call Jihadism or Islamism or Political Islam, or whatever.
For now I want to discuss the tendency within pro-Israel circles to sometimes conflate all self-identified Muslims with Jihadis.
We must, in my opinion, draw a distinction between self-identified Muslims and Jihadis. A Jihadi (or Islamist) is anyone who uses violence, or who justifies the use of violence, for the purpose of establishing an Islamic Caliphate. A Muslim, on the other hand, is simply a person who grew up in the community, or within a Muslim family, who self-identifies as Muslim.
Now we can criticize my Muslim pharmacist buddy down the street for not being vocal enough against the Jihad, but what would you have him do? He’s just a married guy, working a job and raising some kids.
I understand, of course, that devout Muslims consider the Koran to be the unalterable and true word of Allah before it was corrupted by the Jews and the Christians.
And I understand that the Koran calls for Jihad and not just the quiet meditative type - or the nonsensical type found on buses in New York reading things like “My Jihad is loving my children,” or however those ads read – but the real kind, which is to say, the physical kind wherein the Holy Shaheed seeks to murder Jews and Christians simply because we are Jews and Christians.
But the point is that we cannot hold people accountable for thought crimes.
It would be exceedingly helpful – and to no one more so than the Muslim people – if more regular non-Jihadi-type Muslims, just regular people, spoke out forcefully against Political Islam as it spreads throughout the Middle East and Europe.
I do not know about you guys, however, but I am certainly not ready to condemn anyone for NOT putting forth a political opinion.
I recognize, of course, that Islam is not merely a religion but is a total system of human regulation and is political in its essence.
However, one is either engaging directly in the violent Jihad, or one justifies the Jihadi trend, or one doesn’t. Our fight should not be with those who do not, but those who do.
It should also be noted, tho, that any Muslim who claims to work social justice – such as our friends at San Francisco State - yet who refuse to loudly and consistently condemn the Jihad, or the more vicious practices of Islamic jurisprudence, such as the hacking off of body parts as a matter of holy religious law, is a hypocrite because social justice and al-Sharia are mutually exclusive categories.
Any such Muslim would be something akin to the kind of western-progressives who claims to stand for social justice yet who, likewise, cannot find it in their hearts to condemn the Jihad lest they be smeared as “Islamophobes” and thereby alienate their political-social compadres.
In both cases the advocates integrity is undermined by the tension between holding certain views on social justice, while refusing to express those views, or necessarily even able to think about those views, when it comes to the Jihad.
Finally, partly as a nod to Graham Coffey’s personal experiences throughout the Muslim world, as he describes them in commentary beneath my piece Myopia and Dismissiveness, the Islamic world is very diverse. A Muslim who grows up poor in Pakistan is likely to come to adulthood with a set of religious / ideological tendencies that are very different from a Muslim born and bred in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Thus - as I am sure Graham is well-aware - the Muslims he talked with in Indonesia, in sub-Saharan Africa, in the Middle East, and elsewhere in the Muslim world, presumably reflect ideological trends and forms of bigotry common to that part of the world.
In fact, there seems to be a positive correlation between vocal pro-Jihadi sentiment among Muslims in majority Muslim countries versus countries like the United States with, for the moment, a very small Muslim demographic.
In any case, pro-Israel / pro-Jewish / and pro-democracy advocates should not put ourselves into the position of taking on the entire Muslim world. Aside from the fact of sheer numbers, it is simply unjust to call out regular people, who are not political advocates, for not expressing political opinions.
That, I think, is a very dangerous road to drive onto.