Tolerance vs. security
On Nov. 4, NJ Jewish News paper published my letter that some people consider anti-Islamic (“Containing Islam”).
I am a Jew who had suffered for half of my life from Soviet anti-Semitism before using an opportunity to escape to the free world. One of my correspondents wrote: “I am surprised that someone who grew up in such an environment would want to deny citizens of this country their rights. And yet, you seem to have no problem with denying Muslim Americans their rights — much like the Soviets denied Jews their rights.”
My esteemed correspondent surely has a point, and I would like to stand up to the challenge.
Wherever I go, I see people of different races, colors, and creeds, and my heart jumps from joy to watch this melting pot in action. I feel no threat from those who have no wish to force their way of life on me. This is America, free and tolerant. But radical Muslims are the only group in the United States and Europe that disregards the social achievements of the Western civilization: the rule of law, human rights, women’s rights, religious tolerance, respect for human life, the right of Israel to exist, and other democratic freedoms. They do not have these freedoms in their native countries and they are trying to impose their way of life on us.
The interpretation and practice of today’s Islam is frequently fascistic and medieval. Almost all terror in the West during the last 10 years has come from Islamist radicals. Last Dec. 21, a large-scale terror attack aimed at British landmarks and public spaces was prevented; the 12 suspects are Muslims. In Pakistan, on Christmas Day, a burka-clad female suicide bomber threw hand grenades, then detonated her explosive belt among a crowd, killing 45 fellow Muslims.
By no means do I see the entire Muslim population as a monolith nor do I want to deny them their rights. I know that there are a lot of law-abiding Muslim citizens who themselves suffer from radicalism. A student of statistics wrote me that even a rather large number of terrorists constitute a very small part of the entire world Muslim population. And yet all events in history have been the work of statistically insignificant number of individuals, made possible by the silent consent of the majority.
I see no wall separating the fundamentalists from the Muslim mainstream either in Islamic countries or the West, nor do I see a moderate silent majority. The jihadists easily find an infrastructure, shelter, money, and moral support, even on U.S. soil, otherwise, Sept. 11 would have never happened.
Meanwhile, every minor “mischief” carried out by non-Muslims — whether a cartoon in the Danish press or an unrealized threat to burn the Quran by an obscure pastor — raises the Islamic world in indignation.
As Rabbi Schlomo Lewis of Atlanta said last year in his Rosh Hashana sermon, “We are at war. We are at war with an enemy as savage, as voracious, as heartless as the Nazis but one wouldn’t know it from our behavior. During World War we didn’t refer to storm troopers as freedom fighters. We didn’t call the Gestapo ‘militants.’”
Are our other spiritual leaders so ignorant of history? Do not they see that our entire civilization is under the threat of destruction and that Israel stands on the frontline of our common struggle? Rabbi Lewis has a word for them in the conclusion of his sermon: “I know that there are those sitting here today who have turned me off. But I also know that many turned off their rabbis 75 years ago in Warsaw, Riga, Berlin, Amsterdam, Cracow, [and] Vilna.”
The defense against the Islamist danger is a question of “pikua nefesh” — saving lives. I believe our government should limit Muslim immigration and find other ways to combine our security with the need to respect the citizens’ individual rights.
Eliezer M. Rabinovich