February 5, 2007

Religious Dogma - Jewish Version.

Osama bin Laden said in 1998:
For over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples.

All these crimes and sins committed by the Americans are a clear declaration of war on Allah, his messenger, and Muslims.

What's wrong with this statement?

The first, and perhaps the most pernicious, one is the suggestion of an American plot against Islam. I will not go into an analysis of factual accuracy of the above statement. That is not my purpose here. My point is that painting this in religious colors is an extraordinarily effective thing. Whether bin Laden really sees it in those religious terms is also immaterial. For his purposes nothing works wonders like telling Muslims that America is at war with them. It serves to unite them as no other tactic will.

The subsequent tactics (terrorism) of bin Laden and others like him make it easy for the world to denounce him without really identifying the key component of his justification (yes, even bin Laden feels compelled to offer justifications, however spurious).

I have seen the same religious argument offered by many Jewish supporters of Israel. If they have their way, any critic of Israel is a priori influenced by anti-semitism. In long-winded words this is what almost all resort to. To be sure, some Israeli critics are anti-semite (just as some Americans supporting Iraq war hate Muslims). But these Jewish apologists conlude that everyone accusing Israel is anti-semite (a classic case of gulit by association).

In the present geo-political scenario this is turning out to be a fairly useful method of silencing the critics.

In this context it is refreshing to see a number of eminent British Jews raising their hands and spelling out the real issues. Their website is here. More articles here.


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