| ... more
De Tocqueville Versus Lewis and Pipes
Summary ... Israeli policy-makers and opinion-makers — and those who organize international conferences in Jerusalem involving Islam — should be wary of relying too much on the views of Messrs. Lewis and Pipes.
Anyone who has read Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America knows of his extraordinary mind. He was not only a wise, penetrating, and prophetic, but his was an aristocratic mind: magnanimous, urbane, and free from sectarian prejudice. Hence one should take all the more seriously his assessment of Islam:
I studied the Quran a great deal. I came away from that study with the conviction that by and large there have been few religions in the world as deadly to men as that of Muhammad. So far as I can see, it is the principal cause of the decadence so visible today in the Muslim world and, though less absurd than the polytheism of old, its social and political tendencies are in my opinion more to be feared, and I therefore regard it as a form of decadence rather than a form of progress in relation to paganism itself.
Can anyone imagine scholars like Bernard Lewis and Daniel Pipes hinting, let alone saying, such a thing today about Muslims? True, when de Tocqueville was writing in the second third of the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire was in decline; but I do not see how this could affect his evaluation of Islam.
There were no "Islamists" in de Tocqueville's time, to be distinguished from Islam per se, as "Islamists" are so distinguished by Messrs. Pipes and Lewis. There were no Muslim suicide bombers whose barbarism was cheered by the Islamic world. If de Tocqueville were alive today, he would surely see that Islam is now more decadent than it was in the 19th century.
So how shall we account for the "polite"or should I say "politically correct"attitude of Lewis and Pipes vis--vis Islam? Comparisons are invidious, but these American scholarsLewis was born and educated in Englandare not more magnanimous or urbane than de Tocqueville. Of course, unlike de Tocqueville, Lewis and Pipes are Jews, and this alone might deter them from disparaging Islam.
They are also the products of the 20th century, the century of triumphant democracy and triumphant secularism, which would prompt them to regard all religions as equal or with skepticism. Nor is this all.
Both Lewis and Pipes are historians, and there is a strong tendency among historians to succumb to historicism, i.e., historical relativism. Historicism is a denial of trans-historical or absolute truths. If Lewis and Pipes have been influenced by historical relativism, they would tend to be non-judgmental vis--vis Islam.
Of course they can still write, as Lewis does, about "Islamic rage," or as Pipes does, about "militant Islam." But here it could be said they are being descriptive, not judgmental, even thought neither of these scholars approve of Islamic rage or Islamic militancy. Common sense or reality trumps historical relativism.
It should also be noted that Professor Lewis, the doyen of Islamic scholarship, is well-received in various Islamic countries, which of course would be impossible if he were critical of Islam. As for Dr. Pipes, he is a public official, a board member of the U.S. Institute of Peace, which also precludes his being judgmental about Islam.
Hence, with all due respect for their eruditions and achievements, but in view of their being Jewish as well as secular democrats, I do not believe that either of these scholars can be wholly relied upon for a candid assessment of Islam.
I will go even further. If Lewis and Pipes were citizens of Israel, I dare say their view of Islam would not differ substantially from that of Professor Moshe Sharon and of the late Professor Yehoshafat Harkabiboth of the Hebrew University. Even though these two Israeli academics represent, respectively, the right and left ends of the political spectrum, they agreed on the militant and mendacious nature of Arab-Islamic culture.
Therefore, Israeli policy-makers and opinion-makersand those who organize international conferences in Jerusalem involving Islamshould be wary of relying too much on the views of Messrs. Lewis and Pipes, which is not to say these two scholars should not be seriously studied. One should bear in mind, however, that what may be "politically correct" and even commendable scholarship in America may be deadly in Israel.
[ Published: December 15, 2004 ]
The tragedy of the pro-'Palestinian' movement is its attachment to a single narrative: "Look at how wretched the lives of the 'Palestinian' people are," they tell us, "It is because of Israeli oppression." Because this narrative must be constantly reinforced, there is little room for real reporting about the failures of the 'Palestinian' leadership and the corruption and infighting that have caused the 'West Bank' [i.e., Judea & Samaria] and Gaza to languish.
The Arab leadership is attempting to portray the current Intifada as a kind of popular, spontaneous struggle that expresses the population's despair over the political situation. In reality, it is an Intifada supported and directed by the Arab leadership of the PA/PLO-Fatah and Hamas.
Rabbi Meir Kahane points out that, contrary to popular belief, the Temple Mount is in Arab hands, the cunning Arab foxes. And the words of Motta Gur ring hollowly — and it is the Jews who are to blame. They took a miracle and disdained it. They, who took holiness and profaned it. They who were given a Zion, a Jerusalem, Temple Mount — gave it over to the jackal-foxes.
Hamas explains general principles and objectives in 42-article document.
PA/PLO leader Abbas seems intentionally to ignore that he and his PA/PLO are responsible for the violence, as a result of their daily incitement against Israel. A recent poll found that approximately half of 'Palestinians' believe the "Intifada" should lead to the destruction of Israel.
What is really going on behind the scenes of the current terrorist attacks? It's actually a lot more than what is seen on a daily basis. Hamas is fighting to take control of the PA/PLO while Fatah is doing its best to stay in power and get Gaza back under its control.
US Jewish leaders blew it recently when what was a rare opportunity to ask the US president face-to-face to release Jonathan Pollard, they didn't even consider the matter as being a priority.
Obama needs to wake up. The real enemy is not Netanyahu. The real enemy is Iran, Hizb'Allah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Islamic State, and the establishment of a terrorist state in the midst of Israel.
It's no state secret that US President Barack Obama is not a huge fan of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His distain for the Jewish leader is well-known throughout the world; he's never tried to hide it. But now that Israel is having new elections in March does it mean Obama could, either directly or indirectly, influence the elections in Israel in order to obtain a defeat for Netanyahu?