A Peaceful Religion?

One of the biggest issues of debate in the West is “is Islam a peaceful religion?” as many of our leaders have told us it is.  Now this is not a question about Muslims per se, we know there are certainly millions of nice, pleasant, peaceful Muslims.  But, the question is not about the individuals, but rather about the belief system itself.  And if Islam is not a “peaceful religion” that is a serious problem for Western civilization and those who have to protect the lives of their citizens in Western countries.  

The Arab Muslim world is in meltdown.  There are currently civil wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, and all the major Sunni Muslim states have cut off ties with Qatar, as well as the more familiar Sunni-Shia schism that goes back to the origins of Islam.  The social fabric of Islam has broken down.  In so many of these countries there were dictators, and this comes from the fact that in Islam there is no distinction between religious and the secular power.  From the beginning there was one leader, Mohammed and he led both the religion and the army and controlled the state.  This was continued in the various Muslim empires that developed (Ummayad, Abbassid, Fatimid and Turkish).  All of them had Caliphs that controlled both state and religion, there was no separation of the two as in Western Christian civilization, that led eventually to a complete separation as in the USA.

If we judge by the degree of violence related to where-ever Islam exists, we can see an arc of war that stretches form Nigeria in the west thru Africa (N. Africa, and Somalia) thru to the Philippines in the east.  Case in point, the uprising of Muslims in the southern island of Mindanao, which is largely inhabited by Muslims.  There has been an on-going war there for generations due to the Muslim attempt to secede from the Philippines to form their own Muslim state.  Three days ago the Muslim militias (including Abu Sayyaf) invaded the town of Marawi, causing ca. 50,000 Muslims to flee.  The fighting has barely concluded, with the Philippine Army retaking the town.    

Now it may be that the extremists, militants and armed elements are a minority within each Muslim country or ethnic minority, but the fact is that where-ever there is Islam there is an armed uprising that seeks to destroy the current government and take it over in the name of Islam.  We can trace this tendency to two causes:

  • Jihad.  It is incumbent on every Muslim to carry out jihad or holy war to fight for Islam to be dominant in the governance of the State where he/she lives.  This would result in the imposition of Muslim Sharia law, that requires everyone in the State to follow the Muslim religion, infidels and heretics would either convert or be murdered.
  • Modern Political Islam.  This was initiated in 1928 when Hassan al Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, in order to reassert Muslim control of power in Muslim/Arab countries.  It included a hatred for the West and all it stood for (democracy, liberalism, secularism) that was considered to have infiltrated and influenced Muslim society.  In order to remove this influence and return Islamic society to its original form such groups as Hamas, al Qaeda and ISIS wage ferocious wars of destruction.  

The reason “homegrown” Muslim terrorists wreak havoc and murder in their home countries is due to these two influences, spread by Islamic preachers in Mosques and through the internet via web-sites and videos.  Such avenues have hardly been touched by the Western powers-that-be due to concern for freedom of expression and individual rights.  These considerations must be overcome in order that the threat of jihadi Islam be defeated.

It is believed by Muslims that the world is divided into two regions, Dar al Harb, the region of war (or Dar al Kufr, the region of infidels) and Dar al Islam, the region of Islam (or Dar al Salam, the region of peace).  Looked at rationally, the opposite is in fact true, the region of Islam is the most war-torn violent region in the world, while the West is largely a region of peace (apart from Muslim terrorism and domestic violence).  The West does not seek to attack Muslim regions, only in response and in defense against attacks initiated by Muslim terrorists. So there is something fundamentally wrong and perverse about the Muslim religion and it needs fixing if the Muslim world is to enter the 21st century.  But, it is not our job to fix it, it is theirs.

 

The Racial Distinction

It is common among liberals to lump all forms of racism together, anti-Black, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, they’re all the same.  But are they?  To a right-wing extremist, a racist, they might appear to be.  But, looked at more carefully there are distinctions.  

For example, there is a sharp difference between the ambitions of Jewish and Muslim minorities in western societies.   Jews by and large want to stay in the background, they don’t want to rock the boat, they don’t want to draw attention to themselves, and they certainly don’t want to impose their own religious or cultural norms onto the general society.  Certainly non-religious Jews play a large role in western political life, but they want to be part of it, not change it. They want to integrate.

By contrast, Muslims are generally non-integratable, they remain in sharply defined cultural and religious community groups. They don’t like western norms, they want to change them.  In Muslim society in general and especially in the more extremist states, music is forbidden, mixed dancing is forbidden, women must wear clothes that hide themselves completely and women are treated as property.  These are all aspects of Sharia law, and it is incumbent on any believing Muslim to live under Sharia law and to strive to ensure that the country he lives in is governed by Muslims according to Sharia law.

There is an equivalent to Sharia law in Judaism and that is called “Halakha” or “the way.”   The fact is that very few people have ever heard of this because although it is Jewish law, and  governs relations among religious Jews, it has no relevance to the general western society and there are no Jews, as far as I know, who have ever suggested that Halakha should replace indigenous common law in Britain or in any other countries.

With Blacks the matter is a bit more complex, because in the US where the Blacks were slaves they were stripped of their own indigenous cultures and religions, and so became part of American culture and in fact influenced it very strongly (think of jazz, dancing, accents).  However, African Blacks live in a wide range of cultural and religious societies, from West Africa (Nigeria) to East Africa (Kenya) to South Africa.  But, it is generally accepted that tribal ways cannot govern a modern state, and so the societal norms are generally of western colonial origin.

So let’s be a bit careful when we discuss these matters.  They can be controversial.  But, now we are seeing the development of right-wing political parties, such as in Holland and France, that are not ant-Semitic but are anti-Muslim.  It is because they no longer see the Jews as a threat (in any case that “threat” was well taken care of during the Holocaust), but they do see the invasion of western societies by large Muslim minorities as threatening their own way of life.

Beware Ideologues

One of my favorite writers, Bertrand Russell, once said, “Beware of ideologues, they are dangerous people.”   When I was young and impressionable I pondered the meaning of that statement, why beware of people with an ideology?

But experience has shown that it is a good advice.  Ideologues tend to have ideologies that result in the deaths of others, many others, those who don’t share their ideology.  For example, for communists it was implicit that all capitalists were evil and as such needed to be “got rid of.”  So millions of enemies of the Soviet State were simply murdered.  Nazis were sure that European (Christian) civilization, such as it was, needed to be rescued from  Jewish influence, so murder all the Jews (they managed 6 million).  Racism, the ideology that supposes that ridding the world of ‘inferior’ races will somehow make life better, has resulted in the murder of millions of Blacks.  And so it goes.

This brings me to Islam, a religious ideology that requires that all non-believers (kaffir) be either converted or killed.  They have killed millions, especially in India and Africa, to expand their ideology and this was long before the current scourge of political Islam (Islamism) came along with its particular brand of terrorism.  Terrorism itself is not new, but radical Islamic terrorism is a new phenomenon, that derives from the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928 in Egypt by Hassan al Banna and based on the belief that Islam must be purified from all foreign and Western (Christian) influences.  It is only a step from that to Hamas, Hezbollah, the Iranian regime and the Islamic State that is prepared to murder millions.

The common theme of these disparate ideologies is intolerance.  Intolerance of those who believe differently, who act differently, who think differently and of those who look different.  It may be true that most Muslims are peaceful citizens, but beware the ideologues among them.

The Jews became the Christians

International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27, commemorates the day that Russian forces liberated the concentration camp at Auschwitz where 1.5 million Jews were murdered (Israeli Holocaust Remembrance Day is in April, commemorating the uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto).  Here is an essay written for this occasion.

Jesus Christ was a Jew.  He was born a Jew, lived as a Jew and died a Jew. In fact he never mentioned the word “Christ” because it is Greek, he spoke Aramaic, which was the lingua franca of the region.  He never called himself a Christian and indeed no such designation existed then.  He considered himself merely a reformer within the realm of Judaism. For example, his teaching was an adaptation of Rabbi Hillel from centuries earlier, who wrote “that which is hateful to you do not do to another.”  Jesus was then murdered by the imperial forces of Rome and crucified as just another Jew. The religion known as Christianity was founded by Saul of Tarsus, a Jew who Hellenized his name to Paul and missionized for his heretical version of Judaism among the Greeks within the Roman Empire.

Initially the Christians were persecuted by the Romans, they were murdered and used in spectacles where they were devoured by lions and killed by gladiators.  But, many years later when the Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity (in 312 ce) he was responsible for deciding the tenets of the Christian religion (such as the semi-divinity of Jesus) at the Council of Niceae (325 ce) and wiping out all other variants as heretical.  So the collapse of the Roman Empire was coincident with the acceptance of a new and supposedly non-violent religion.

Yet, the religion was corrupted by the power and wealth of the Church and of the Christian Empires that succeeded Rome, the Byzantines, the Italian States, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal and England.  As a result of replacement theology, Judaism was supposed to be extinct and therefore Jews could be killed if they did not accept Christianity (the Muslims did the same).  This lead over the centuries not only to religious anti-Judaism, but also to racist anti-Semitism.

The logical outcome was that the perverse political extremist Adolf Hitler could use popular anti-Semitism as a means to attain power and then use his control over Europe during WWII to eliminate the Jews, which meant murdering millions of men, women and children.  So the Jews of Europe took the role of the downtrodden people of Jesus, that the early Christians had taken in relation to the Roman Empire.

The UNESCO Ruling on Jerusalem

UNESCO, the UN so-called “educational, scientific and cultural” organization, has declared that Jews have no historic connection with the Temple Mount, the holiest shrine in Judaism.  I am glad they did this, because it shows the lows to which the Muslim-dominated UN has sunken by denying reality and facts that are known to every school child. It should show those leftist and liberal Westerners, including many Jews, who are associated with the Muslims that they are people who deny reality in furtherance of political aims, that include not only denying Israel’s existence, but also denying Jews the right to exist.

While they are at it, I propose some modest further resolutions for the majority of Muslim dictatorships to pass at the UN:

  1. The moon is made of cheese – well-known to all UN Muslim members
  2. The earth is flat – because Mohammed said it was
  3. Christians have no connection to Jerusalem – only Muslims have rights there
  4. The Holocaust in WWII did not happen – but there will be a Holocaust in the future because the Jews are so evil.
  5. The Great Wall of China does not belong to the Chinese.
  6. The Eiffel Tower in Paris was built by Muslims 
  7. The House of Congress in Washington DC was originally a mosque
  8. Islam is a religion of peace

I could go on, but you get my meaning.  The Muslims in this respect.are no worse than those dictatorships of the past that perverted facts for political ends, the Nazis and the Communists.  Note that the UN was founded after WWII on the  Judeo-Christian principle that all-out war that murders millions of people is not only morally wrong, but must be stopped.  However, because of its democratic basis, the UN has been hijacked by the Muslim majority and the rest of the world is too cowed to do anything to oppose them.  Only a handful of states had the courage to vote against this absurd resolution.

It is a common trait that those who are evil, in order to cover up their true motives, ascribe their own faults to their enemies.  For example, Hitler in a speech said “If the Jews want war, we’ll give it to them…”  Thus, if you search the Koran you will find NO mention of Jerusalem!  Note that Jerusalem was captured by the Muslims in 639 ce, 7 years AFTER the death of Mohammed (unless the Muslims want to change the dates).  So that the myth that Mohammed visited the Mosque of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem is impossible. It is based on a story in the Koran that he visited “the northern-most mosque” which at that time was in Arabia, and it is a ridiculous stretch to identify that with Jerusalem, which at that time had NO mosque!!!  The Dome of the Rock was not constructed until 691 ce. So if anyone has NO connection to Jerusalem it is the Muslims, theirs was purely invented after the fact.

Note that there are several aspects of Muslim Sharia Law that are objectionable, first is that all non-Muslims are infidels and can be killed unless they accept Islam, and second is that the penalty for apostasy (changing your religion from Islam) is death!  This is how Islam spread and became a majority, kill all those who disagree and all those who want to leave.  Quite different from the Judeo-Christian tradition (although the Inquisition was no better).  Whoever said that Islam is a religion of “peace.”

 

 

 

 

The Danger of Comparative Religion

I have not read the Unpanishads or the Baghavad Gita, two ancient classics of Indian scripture that are considered sacred to Hindus.  I have not read the Granth Sahib that is the sacred book of Sikhism, which incidentally is a monotheistic religion.  Neither have I studied the teachings of the Buddha in any detail.  I have not read the New Testament that is sacred to Christians, nor have I studied the Koran.  One thing that is common between Judaism and Islam is that the founding documents, the Torah (The Five Books of Moses, the Bible) were supposed to have been dictated by God to Moses, while the Koran was supposed to have been dictated by God to Mohammed.   Since both are monotheistic religions it was presumably the same God, so why did he need to dictate his thoughts/ commandments to two different prophets so far apart in time.  That is a mystery.  In all of this I suppose that my level of knowledge and experience is about that of any reasonably well-educated secular person, and indeed of most Bible Scholars, who probably have never cracked the sacred books of any other religion.

The question then arises, which of these sacred books are really sacred, or are they all not sacred.  I cannot legitimately see that all of them can be sacred, after all if one of them is really the real thing, why have not the adherents of the non-legitimate religions have transferred to that.  Wouldn’t it be obvious?  Of course, that is what each of the proselytizing religions, particularly Christianity and Islam claim, both of them deriving legitimacy from Judaism, but both of them denigrating their source religion and in order to claim the mantle of “chosenness” actually trying to kill all Jews and stamp out their religion.  Then Christianity and Islam fought wars over many centuries for supremacy.

Now many years later, most of the Western Christian countries have become secular and the Church has lost its control over them. Whereas in the Muslim world, where there is no tradition of separation of Church and State, they are still fighting this battle and this is going to be a protracted and bloody internal war.  Already the lines are drawn, not only between Sunni Islam and its heretical Shia sect, but also between normative traditional Islam, such as practiced in Saudi Arabia and Egypt and the so-called Islamic State, that purports to be the real thing.  They are the ones that claim that God/Allah has told them to go out and kill all infidels, including all Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, Yazidis, Kurds, Shia and non-IS Sunnis, and to establish a new Caliphate to cover first all of the Middle East and much of Europe and Asia, and then of course, the whole world.  Since they are beyond rational appeal and since they are now taking the fight to the enemy, i.e., terrorism in Europe and the US, they will have to be stopped and the only way is militarily, by war.  So much for comparative religion.

 

A Historic Return

On February 28, 2015, I received a long letter from someone I did not know in response to a blog I had posted on IsBlog back in June 22, 2011, describing a conference that was held at Netanya Academic College (NAC) entitled “The Worldwide Awakening of the Descendants of the Secret Jews (Anousim).”  This was quite a startling letter, since it was a cri de coeur. The author (whose name I will not divulge) was a respectable professional from New York whose family had moved there from Puerto Rico.  He was very concerned about the fate of people like himself who had discovered that they were in fact descendants of Secret Jews (Crypto-Jews, marranos or Bnei Anousim).

In that and subsequent correspondence, he explained that he had decided to explore the genealogy of his family background, tracing it from Puerto Rico back to Spain in the early 1500’s.  He discovered that some of his ancestors had left Spain and Portugal after the Inquisition had arrived, traveled to Flanders and the Canary Islands, finally settling in the remote mountainous interior of Puerto Rico. In trying to understand why they made this extreme transition, he came to the inescapable conclusion that they had been Secret Jews and were escaping the Inquisition, as many thousands of Secret Jews had done.  These were the descendants of Jews who had been forcibly converted to Christianity (conversos), yet remained secretly true to their own traditions.

Any small infraction (such as wearing clean clothes on Saturday, not eating pork, or lighting candles on Friday night) could result in a family being accused of the capital crime of Judaizing, which could lead to torture, ruination and death.   For this reason, many descendants of Secret Jews fled from Spain and Portugal into the remote regions of their colonies.  Other inquiries and family traditions, whose Judaic origins had been forgotten, convinced him that they were in fact Bnei Anousim.  This was a shocking revelation to someone who had been brought up all their life thinking that they were Protestant.

Having come to terms with the implications of this discovery, he had delved into the history and background and had come across my blog article.  It happened that we were just about to have another conference on the subject, entitled “Mapping the Anousim Diaspora: Six centuries of pushing borders,” held at NAC by the Institute for Sefardi and Anousim Studies on March 23, 2015.  Because of his mounting curiosity, never having attended a conference on this subject, on short notice he decided to come.

I met him at his hotel and we got to know each other.  I also took him back and forth with me to the conference.  We got along extremely well and I and others answered his many questions and concerns.  I also had the privilege of taking him to his first Shabbat service in a synagogue.  He also met two other people at the conference who had come from Puerto Rico and shared his background, as well as several others, some of whom had converted to Judaism.  I believe this was all quite an overwhelming experience for him.

Upon returning to the US he started a process of returning to Judaism and rejoining the Jewish people.  You must understand that the difference between “returning” and “converting” is a big distinction for such Bnei Anousim (as it has been for other groups, such as the Ethiopian Jews).  In general, the Rabbinate and the Israel Ministry of the Interior, require documentary evidence that the matrilineal line has always been Jewish.  In many and perhaps most cases this is impossible.  Hence some Bnei Anousim simply take a conversion course, but some refuse and say that since they are Jewish by birth they should not have to convert.

In his case, he was not able to provide sufficient documentation to satisfy the rabbinate in New York, but his evident sincerity and commitment to becoming an Orthodox Jew, led the Rabbis to accept him as Jewish.  On Yom Hashoah last (May 3) he was accepted by the Beth Din of Queens NY as a Jew, he received immersion in the mikve and had an aliyah in the Orthodox synagogue.  This was an epic return and the righting of a historic wrong, in which I am proud to have played some small part.  Mazaltov!