Sunday, August 08, 2010

An Israeli Rabbi's experience with moderate Muslims

A guest post by MEKUBAL

Shortly after receiving semikha from the Rabbinate, I landed my first job as an assistant Rabbi in a kiruv community. The building that we were turning into a synagogue happened to be right next to an ICC(Islamic Cultural Center). One day I was doing some work in the shul, when I heard a knock on the door. Imagine my surprise when I open the door to find a man with a beard longer than mine and wearing a kufi standing there. He came over to welcome his new neighbors to the town, and didn't realize that we were Jews, and that we were intending to build a synagogue. I invited him to look around, and gave him the nickel tour. He invited me to come see his ICC after I was done with what I was in the middle of. In the meantime one of our big donors shows up, he happened to be a Persian who owned a carpet shop. I told him what was going on, he disappeared and came back 20min later with three, from what I am told, very nice Persian Rugs. We went over to the ICC together, got the nickle tour and dropped off his gift of the rugs. It was the start of a great relationship. They helped us get Kosher meat into the local grocery store, allowed us to use their parking lot for big events, and we allowed them to use our sizable yard for their picnics and such. They weren't Jihadists, and while we were Pro-Israel, we were not Meir Kahane breed Zionists.

Through that relationship I learned a great deal about Islam. Most notably that the 85% of muslims who are moderates, live in some sort of fear of the Jihadi extremists, simply because they are managing to take control around the world. Jihadists don't want to just kill Jews and Infidels, Muslims who do not meet their exacting standards, or particular theological perspective are also prime targets. Yes radical Islam is spreading like a plague through the Muslim world, and there are various reasons for that, most notably many of the Regimes in those parts of the world, see a great deal of benefit in fostering radicalism, as then they can be seen as being on the "right side" and can turn the anger and angst of populations who often live in poverty and some form of oppression by Nouveau monarchies and dictatorships against an "other" who is ultimately supposed to be responsible for all of their problems(think Hitler and Germany).

What this has bread is an internal struggle between those who wish to keep a moderate and I would dare say normal face of Islam, which even in its fundamentalist forms, poses little actual danger or threat to the world around it other than to be a highly evangelistic religion, and the extremist Jihadi forms of Islam that would prefer to persuade with violence first. Because most Western countries wouldn't take kind to clan wars happening within the boroughs of their cities, the way this battle is often fought is with the dollar and influence. Because so many of the oil wealthy regimes have turned to this tactic, we find oil money pouring into western countries to fund Islamic education and mosques and such, and with that money comes a certain degree of control. How this plays out was documented beautifully in the UK channel 4's Dispatches programUndercover Mosque and in its follow up program Undercover Mosque: the Return. You also get a sense in both of those programs as to how many Muslims feel angry about what is happening.

So what does all of this have to do with Ground Zero ICC, which many are calling a mosque. Yes an ICC typically does have a mosque in it. They also have places for muslims to buy Hallal foods, purchase Islamic garments, Islamic books, and movies. Activity centers where they can hit the gym in a way the caters to their religious sensitivities, however I digress. How this relates is quite simple. By fighting against (what appears to be) a moderate muslim group, you are in fact playing right into the hands of the Jihadists. Your own actions fuel their propaganda of how the West is hostile to Islam. As well you drain the resources of groups that, in their own way, are fighting the same fight against terrorism. By depleting those resources, you also shove further to the point of needing to seek outside support, which may lead to them falling in with Jihadist donors who will then seek control and influence.

Ultimately I think that this ICC should be permitted to be built and I don't find it an insult to those who died in 9/11 because innocent Muslims died as well. However I do think that if it is permitted to become a place where Jihadist ideology is espoused that would be an insult to all those who died in the 9/11 attack both muslim and everyone else. Denying its right to be built is as much an insult to the victims of 9/11, at least in my mind. Those people died for no other reason than they lived in a western democracy that a group of Jihadis decided was the enemy of their fantasized Islamic state. The victims were martyrs to the cause of freedom and liberty. However in attempting to deny the ICC we infringe upon the very freedoms and liberties guaranteed in the US Constitution, and thus we give the Jihadis what they want. We destroy the American way of life. To me that is the greatest insult of all to those who died on account of America's freedoms and the way they are perceived around the world.

At the very least I say leave the moderate muslims alone. Let them follow their religion within the borders of the US in peace. If you are really angry at the people and the Islam that perpetrated the 9/11 attacks, you may even want to consider helping these moderates, as we share a common enemy with them.



Search for more information about [topic] at 4torah.com.

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