It's been often noted that a key reason for the intractability of the conflict between Jews and Muslims in the Middle East is that both sides operate with a mutually exclusive set of assumptions about the history of the dispute.
Their views of the conflict are mutually-exclusive, but that's because one is true and the other aids Islam's Lesser Jihad against Israel.
Jews view the state of Israel as the triumph of a dispossessed people who waited 2,000 years for a return to their homeland. If violence has accompanied that return, it is solely because of Arab intransigence; Jews were willing to settle peacefully among their Arab neighbors, but the latter were hostile to a sovereign Jewish entity in the Middle East and declared war against it from its inception.This is a pretty accurate summary of the situation, because that's what happened. Here comes the moral equivalence (read lies).
Muslims view the state of Israel as the most egregious example of Western colonialism and imperialism, a foreign body inserted into the Middle East for the purpose of furthering Western domination. Any violence is solely the fault of the Jews and their Western allies. The Jews were able to take possession of the land by violently displacing its inhabitants, and they have succeeded in holding on to it with the help of Western military support.Under traditional Islam, once a land is part of Dar al-Islam (Land of Islam), it is always Muslim. To have Western (in the Muslim mind, Christian) powers take the land and give it to Jews (according to Allah and his false apostle, apes and pigs) is a great and unforgivable slap in the face of Islam.
In reality, it was Islam that declared war against Israel. The displacement of Arab Muslims was due to Muslim promises that after Israel was defeated the "refugees" would be able to return and share the spoils.
What has been lost is the fact that both Jews and Muslims have a great deal in common in the way they perceive their respective histories. Each community has an understanding of its history that is much broader than that defined by this conflict, and we gain much insight into the nature of the dispute by comprehending those larger frameworks.
But that does not make their claims to the land equally valid. Nor does it mean that both Islam and Israel are equally responsible for the bloodshed there.Apart from a sound knowledge of traditional, mainstream Islam's beliefs and history, there can be no real "insight into the nature of the dispute."
First the Jewish side. To understand modern Jews and their attachment to Israel, one has to remember that the Jewish people have been around for 3,000 years and that for the majority of that time they have been ruled by foreign powers that have often persecuted them. In biblical times Jews were dominated by a series of empires, and their kingdom was destroyed twice. In the Middle Ages they lived in Christian lands and were frequently subjected to violence.
In Muslim countries, Jews were treated much better -- as a protected minority. But they were never equal to Muslims, and medieval Jewish literature often expresses feelings of humiliation because of Jews' lack of power in Muslim lands. And even there, Jews sometimes experienced violence."Even there"? "Sometimes"? This is more of the "If Not for the Christian Extremists, Noble Muslims and Everyone Else Would Just Get Along" line.
Eisen reveals his ignorance of Islam's actual history by repeating the Muslim lie that Jews fared well under Islam. They did "farewell" under Islam--due to its persecuting, enslaving, and murdering them. That "protected minority" status to which the author appeals is that of the dhimmi.
The reason Jews felt humiliation was not because of their perceived "lack of power" (a common leftist/Muslim justification for the "oppressed's" immoral behavior); it was because, as Allah commands, Jews were subdued and humiliated, often violently, and when they violated the "protection" of Islam, they were punished severely.
The ultimate violence, of course, came in 20th-century Europe with the Holocaust. Jews created the state of Israel in the belief that they would finally be able to live in security and dignity. It is a project that has succeeded only in part. Certainly, Jews now have sovereignty in their ancient homeland, as well as a powerful army. But Israel is surrounded by tens of millions of Muslims, many of whom oppose its existence. One must keep in mind that there are only 14 million Jews in the world, and almost half of them live in Israel.And why do those millions of adherents of the Religion of Peace "oppose its existence"? Because Allah requires it: "Fight...the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued" (Qur'an 9:29).
One might argue, then, that the creation of Israel has actually made the Jews less secure.The Jew is never secure in proximity to Islam. Neither is the Christian, the Hindu, the Buddhist, the Zoroastrian, the animist, nor any other non-Muslim.
The fear now is not just violence but annihilation. Much of this helps explain why Israelis deal so harshly with their Palestinian adversaries."Harsh"? A nation that possesses nuclear weapons is constantly attacked by barbarians who murder their young and old, women and children (and have tried since its inception to destroy it), and they respond with restraint. That's harsh?
Jews are sensitive to every provocation that threatens Israel because of their history of vulnerability. They will perceive Palestinians as a threat as long as they commit acts of violence against Israelis and refuse to recognize Israel's legitimacy -- even if Palestinians don't have an army.The Arab Muslims who work to kill Jews are an army, even if they do not possess the usual trappings of one.
Every Palestinian teenager lifting a stone to throw at an Israeli soldier will be viewed by Jews, in light of their bloody history, as a threat. I should emphasize that what matters here is Jewish perceptions of reality, not necessarily the reality itself, because it is perceptions that cause people to act regardless of what the reality is.The Jewish perception here is the reality. What cowardice to equivocate on this point!
Turning to the Muslim side, we see a strikingly similar pattern. Muslim identity in the modern period has also been shaped by the bitter experience of foreign domination and humiliation. For the past 200 years, the Muslim world has been victimized by Western colonialism and imperialism. Many Muslim countries eventually have won their independence, but the power of oil has kept the West deeply involved in the Middle East. The advent of the state of Israel has been understood by the Muslim world as a symptom of the continuing Western attempt to dominate it.
But this is the Muslim perception; it has nothing to do with reality!
Just as with the Jews, Muslims have turned to violence because they see it as the only way to defend themselves. In the absence of military power, some Muslims have resorted to terrorism as the only avenue to independence. Here, too, perceptions have made it difficult to differentiate between different types of threats. American peacemakers who travel to Iraq are being killed alongside American soldiers. Again, it is the perceptions that count, not necessarily the reality.Here is a great moral offense: Jews have used violence (in a very restrained fashion) in self-defense. Islam has used it to advance Jihad against innocent non-Muslims.
The reality is that Islam's founder declared, "I have been made victorious with terror" (Bukhari Volume 4, Book 52, Number 220). He was a lying, thieving, murderous pedophile. One should not be surprised when the adherents of his religion imitate his example.
Getting each side to acknowledge the perceptions of the other, let alone sympathize with them, is no easy task. Some Muslims I have spoken to balk at the notion that Jews or Israelis feel vulnerable and argue that any suggestion to this effect is manipulative and designed to evoke sympathy: After all, Israel has a powerful army and Jews are highly influential everywhere in the world. Some of my Jewish friends are equally discomfited by my analysis. They object to any equation of Jewish suffering with Muslim suffering, because the Muslim world has never experienced the kind of persecution the Jews have.And both fail to admit the role of Qur'an and Sunna in inspiring and sustaining the violence against the Infidel.
If this is what passes for "analysis," perhaps George Washington University should close its doors.
What both sides miss here is the critical point that, again, what count are perceptions.Or, in Eisen's case, misperceptions.
Each side genuinely feels its vulnerability and humiliation and sees the other side as more powerful, and that is all that matters.This perception is far from reality, but to Eisen, that's all that matters!
Here comes the great lie again:
After all, it is those perceptions that motivate each side to kill.Body parts of innocent men, women, and children having gone shopping, or dining out, or worshipping is not a perception, but the tragic result of faith in Allah.
Yet there may be hope for dialogue on the basis of these perceptions. I have shared the arguments outlined here between Jews and Muslims, and some have been intrigued by the parallel between their histories -- particularly Shiite Muslims, whose sense of humiliation at the hands of West has been compounded by the humiliation they have experienced from the Sunni Muslim majority throughout their history. In this regard they share a great deal with Jews.There can never be an equivalence between what Jews have suffered at the hands of Islam and what some Muslims have endured from other Muslims.
(A wise Infidel in command of the most powerful military in the history of Man would allow the historic, bloody divide between these warring branches of Islam to run its natural course.)
Another point: The ones who respond most positively to my thinking are Muslim clerics.
Just as the fox responds positively to the hen who advises other chickens to try to understand the poor, misunderstood fox instead of securing the henhouse.
And why is it that imams like Eisen's perception of reality? Could it be because they recognize Eisen's lies aid their Jihad against Israel and the West?
...it's time the clergy be given a more central role in the peace process between Jews and Muslims.
Islamic clergy know the command of Allah and the example of his false prophet. How will giving them a "more central role in the peace process" mean anything other but death and despair for Jews?
For decades politicians on both sides have argued over where to draw borders but have brought us no closer to peace.
That's because one side doesn't want peace, it wants Israel in pieces.
The clergy have been excluded from such negotiations because of the perception that religion is the problem, not the solution.
One religion is the problem. Any guess on which one? Perhaps it is the one that commands its faithful to fight against, subdue and humiliate, and kill non-Muslims until all religion is for Allah (Qur'an 9).
Yet so much of the conflict between Jews and Muslims has been tied to religion that it's hard to imagine a settlement without the clerics. Perhaps with their help, Jews and Muslims can address the real issues between them so that a new relationship can emerge.And that relationship will be familiar to Jews under historic Islam: dhimmitude.
The writer is a professor of religion and Jewish studies at George Washington University and for the past several years has been extensively involved in interreligious dialogue between Muslims and Jews.
Apparently, "interreligious dialogue" is a euphemism for removing by repeated mendacity the only advantage the non-Muslim has against the tyranny of Allah--the truth.