4 thoughts on “Muslims & Jews: The Divide Between Secularists and Believers – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. I wish that you had contacted me before you posted this, if only to let me know that you were doing it, but if you feel that you no longer wish to speak to me or have any dealings with me, then I understand that.

    I have never said anywhere, nor do I believe, that “the Middle East would be a better place if Israel did not exist”. I do, however, believe that the form that Zionism has taken has proved to be a very harmful ideology that has brought much damage to the Middle East and as such I oppose that ideology. If there were a Zionism that did not involve the dispossession of the Palestinians and the denial of their rights, then I would have no problem with that.

    If you followed the links from Fatima’s blog, you would have seen that I state that I do not believe that Israel is at all equivalent to Nazi Germany. However, I do think that Ariel Sharon’s policies may lead ultimately to the mass expulsion (ethnic cleansing) of the Palestinian people, unless he is checked by something. I cannot say that there is no similarity between that and Nazi Germany. They both represent exclusionist views towards people of another ethnic group or religion which are carried out, to one degree or another, by violent action (to put this in larger context, you can also find links on my site that describe Russia’s conduct in Chechnya as “following in Stalin’s footsteps”; I hardly see Stalin as being less evil than Hitler). I discussed this topic on my blog, if you care to read it. The comments on the entry, which I hope you will read as well, touch on some of the other issues. I wish that Fatima had chosen to link to that as well.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my comment.

  2. Al-Muhabarajah: You are absolutely right. I should have given you the opportunity to read my post before I published it. I apologize for that.

    My failing to do that most definitely does NOT mean that I “no longer wish to speak to you or have any dealings with you.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. I believe that dialogue between Muslims and Jews, even (I should say “especially”) when they disagree, is critical.

    I can see from your blog and from your message to me that you are unlike some who write on this subject in being rigid and doctrinaire. I think you, like me, want to learn from the views of others. I want to continue that dialogue. I’m certain that I will learn as much from you about Islam as you will learn from people like Jonathan Edelstein and me about Judaism or Israel.

    I will certainly change my post to reflect all of your comments & again sorry for being so hasty and jumping to conclusions not warranted by the facts (i.e. your real views).

    In response to one substantive point you make about the Zionism-Nazism equation: the notion of population transfer is most definitely racist and you are correct in linking it with notions of Nazi racial superiority. But, unlike you, I feel that population transfer will never happen because it transgresses too many norms in Israeli & world society. I wish in my heart that all Israelis rejected the idea of population transfer. Unfortunately a significant minority accept it. But that doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen. We should not make the mistake of believing that if a movement or people believe a single (or even ‘many’) racist idea(s) that the entire movement or people is racist in its very nature. Ideologues of the left and in the Muslim world believe this. But they are doing a disservice to Israel and Jews in reducing them what the worst among them believe.

    The Stalin-Hitler debate is interesting. Certainly, both are among the world’s worst despots and megalomaniacs & one would be hard pressed to say who was worse. But for me, Hitler trumps Stalin because Stalin only wanted to destroy the Jewish people; Hitler actually did (at least in Europe).


  3. Thanks for your thoughtful response. I’ve said more in our email discussion and just wanted to comment that members of groups that Stalin victimized would not agree with your particular assessment. Just because he did not kill Jews in the way that Hitler did does not make him somehow better. In fact, the number of people that he killed is much larger than the number that Hitler killed. Actually, I don’t think there’s any real way to compare and say that one of them is more or less evil than the other. They’re at a level of evil where I don’t think any difference between them means anything.

  4. Re Hitler vs. Stalin – I regard Hitler as worse than Stalin not because of what Hitler did but because of what he would have done had he not been stopped.

    The Nazi plans called for the Slavic populations of Poland, Belarus and the Ukraine to be replaced with ethnic Germans (that’s about 50 million dead already), and for the Slavs of Russia proper to be reduced to illiterate slaves. In the Nazi view, Jews were cunning beasts to be exterminated, while Slavs were stupid beasts to be exterminated.

    And what do you think would have happened in Africa and Asia after 50-odd years of Nazi rule in Europe? Picture the Khmer Rouge, only on a Eurasian scale – that is what a Nazi victory in WWII would have meant.

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