The book's author: Christine Douglass-Williams Why Islam's Reformers are Vitally Important - Daniel Pipes, PhD My library contains a wall of books about modern Islam. But hardly a one of them covers the topic of this important study by Christine ...

Bruce's MidEast Soundbites - 5 new articles


Book Champions Moderate Muslim Thinkers

 
The book's author: Christine Douglass-Williams

Why Islam's Reformers are Vitally Important - Daniel Pipes, PhD

My library contains a wall of books about modern Islam. But hardly a one of them covers the topic of this important study by Christine Douglass-Williams. With all the attention paid to Islamists, who has the time or energy to devote to modernizing Muslims?

Indeed, the paucity of books on anti-Islamist Muslims symbolizes their larger predicament: they are threatened, marginalized, and dismissed as frauds.

Threats come from the Islamists, the advocates of applying Islamic law in its entirety and severity as a means to regain the medieval glory of Islam. Islamists attack modernizers with words and weapons, rightly sensing that these liberal Muslims pose a profound challenge to the current Islamist hegemony. However much they dominate today, Islamist reactionaries fully understand modernity's great appeal, not to speak of its victories over two other modern radical utopian movements, fascism and communism. They know their movement is doomed because Muslims will opt for the benefits of modern life, so they fight modernizers tooth and nail.

The Left marginalizes. One might expect that the many differences between socialism and Islamism would make the two camps enemies. One would be wrong. The intensity of their common hostility toward the liberal order brings them together. Leftists overwhelmingly prefer the Islamist program to the modernizing one and so reject the modernizers, going so far to revile them as anti-Islamic, a truly choice insult.

The anti-Islamic Right dismisses. Ironically, it endorses the Islamist claim that Islamists alone are true Muslims while waving away the modernizers as outliers, fabulists, and frauds. The anti-Islamic right does so despite sharing the same enemy with modernizing Muslims – the Islamists. Instead of joining forces, it perversely keeps its distance from them, muttering about their taqiya (dissimulation), finding only fault with their analysis, and lobbing colorful slurs at their leaders.
Thus do modernizing Muslims face the problems of establishing current credibility and future potential. Islamists dominate the news with their carnage and cultural aggression, Leftists turn reality on its head, and the anti-Islam types fumble on.

How many of you have heard of the Center for Islamic Pluralism?

Here, Christine Douglass-Williams, a Canadian journalist and civil rights activist, enters the picture. She took the time to find eight leading North American modernizers and gave them the opportunity to present themselves and their views.

After laying out these interestingly divergent viewpoints, Douglass-Williams devotes the second half of her book to their commonalities. She focuses on the modernizers' efforts to: Create an alternative vision to the Islamist one; re-interpret the Koran and other problematic Islamic texts; respond to accusations of "Islamophobia" directed against them; formulate a humane positon on Israel; and challenge the Islamist hegemony.

She helps establish this movement as a serious intellectual endeavor, putting contemporary modernizers on the map as never before, thereby boosting their cause. Given the global threat of Islamism, that is a constructive, indeed a great achievement.
[DanielPipes.org]
    


The Kotel Wars

One "Kotel War" is the one some Palestinian Arabs are having with Israel.  The terrorist murders of two Israeli police recently has challenged the "status quo" on the Temple Mount.  Another "Kotel War" is happening among American Jews and Israel.  That is the topic of the second article below, by liberal Democrat Alan Dershowitz.

The Temple Mount is in our hands - Gilad Sharon

The Temple Mount is a holy site, but there is nothing sacred about the status quo. We’ve been hearing repeated oaths of allegiance to the status quo, with people on all sides declaring they have no intention of changing it. If I forget thee, O status quo, let my right hand forget her cunning, Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if I remember thee not.

But if something isn’t working, it can – and should – be changed, and then the new order will become entrenched. We’ll have a new status quo.

Leaving control of the Temple Mount in the hands of the Wakf after the Six Day War was a big mistake.

When Moshe Dayan asked, “What do we need this whole Vatican for?” he displayed appalling insensitivity to the significance of the site for the Jews.


On September 28, 2000, we visited the Temple Mount. At the time, our presence there was a protest against Ehud Barak’s intention to hand it over to the Palestinians. My father, Ariel Sharon, was firmly opposed to such a move, as was the overwhelming majority of the Israeli public, as evidenced by the results of every election since. We entered through the Mughrabi Gate with my father in the lead, along with several Knesset members from the Likud. An official from the Israel Antiquities Authority showed us around. Our visit was secured by hundreds of police officers.

In fact, I saw a great many more policemen than Arab demonstrators. What kind of sovereignty do we wield if a short visit to the compound required this sort of security detail? The whole scene upset me. Israel wasn’t behaving like a confident sovereign power, but with unwarranted hesitancy, and all because of the authority it had granted the Wakf.

Here’s what we should do: send the Wakf officials packing. Deploy security forces throughout the Temple Mount, so that everyone, including Jews, will feel safe. And make it clear that our sovereignty over the site is more than just empty words.

[Jerusalem Post]


Now American Zionists want to boycott Israel - Alan Dershowitz
Alan Dershowitz, a liberal Democrat,
critiques fellow Americans

Several prominent American Zionists, including long-time supporters of Israel, are so outraged at the Israeli government's recent decision regarding the Western Wall and non-orthodox conversion that they are urging American Jews to reduce or even eliminate their support for Israel.

This sort of emotional response is reminiscent of the temper tantrum outgoing President Barak Obama engaged in when he refused to veto the UN's recent anti-Israel resolution.

I strongly disagree both with the Israeli government's capitulation to the minority of ultra-Orthodox Jews, who wield far too much influence in Israeli politics, and with the proposals to cut back on support for Israel by some of my fellow critics of the Israeli government's recent decisions with regard to religion.

I strongly support greater separation between religion and state in Israel, as Theodor Herzl outlined in his plan for the nation-state of the Jewish People in Der Judenstaat 120 years ago: "We shall . . . prevent any theocratic tendencies from coming to the fore on the part of our priesthood. We shall keep our priests [by which is meant Rabbis] within the confines of their temples."

It was David Ben Gurion, Israel's founding prime minister, who made the deal with the Orthodox Rabbinate that violated Herzl's mandate and knocked down the wall of separation between religion and state. He allocated to the Chief Rabbinate authority over many secular matters, such as marriage, divorce and child custody. He also laid the groundwork for the creation of religious parties that have been a necessary part of most Israeli coalitions for many years.

So, do not blame current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the recent capitulation. His government's survival depends on his unholy alliance with allegedly holy parties that threaten to leave the coalition and bring down his government unless he capitulated. The alternative to a Netanyahu government might well be far to the right of the current government, both on religious matters and on prospects for peace. Reasonable people may disagree as to whether Netanyahu did the right thing, but I believe that given the choice between the current government and what may well replace it, Netanyahu acted on acceptable priorities.

This is not to say that I am happy with the end result.

I want to see a part of the Western Wall opened to conservative and reform prayer. I also want to see conservative and reform and modern Orthodox rabbis deemed fully competent to perform rituals including marriage and divorce. I will continue to fight for these outcomes, and I think we will ultimately be successful.

But in the meantime, I will also continue to fly El Al, contribute to Israeli hospitals, attend AIPAC events, and encourage Americans to support Israel, both politically and financially. To do otherwise is to engage in a form of BDS — the tactic currently employed by Israel's enemies to delegitimize the nation state of the Jewish people. Supporters of BDS will point to these benign boycotts as a way of justifying their malignant ones. If BDS is an immoral tactic, as it surely is, so too is punishing the people of Israel for the failure of its government to be fully inclusive of Jews who do not align themselves with the ultra-Orthodox.

Tough love may be an appropriate response in family matters, but boycotting a troubled nation which has become a pariah among the hard-left is not the appropriate response to the Israeli government's recent decisions regarding religion. The answer is not disengagement, but rather greater engagement with Israel on matters that involve world Jewry.

I, too, am furious about the arrogant and destructive threats of the ultra-Orthodox parties in the current government. I, too, would prefer to see a coalition that excluded the ultra-Orthodox parties. I, too, would like to see a high wall of separation that kept the Rabbis out of politics.

But I do not live in Israel, and Israel is a democracy. Ultimately it is up to the citizens of Israel to change the current system.

The role of American Jews is limited to persuasion, not coercion.

In the end, we will be successful in persuading the Israeli people to take the power of religious coercion out of the hands of the ultra-Orthodox minority because that would not only be good for secular Israelis — who are a majority — but also for religious Israelis. History has proven that separation of state from religion is better not only for the state, but also for religion.
[Washington Examiner]
*
    


Killing Oslo: The Thug & The Prime Minister



End the False Israeli-Palestinian Parity - Daniel Pipes, PhD

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi's decision to visit Jerusalem but not Ramallah has prompted much comment.
The expectation of equal treatment goes back to the Oslo Accords' signing in Sep. 1993, when the prime minister of Israel, Yitzhak Rabin, represented his government in the handshake with Yasir Arafat, the much-despised chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization. No one found it strange or inappropriate at the time but things look differently nearly a quarter century later.
It's now clear that Rabin's vanity got the better of him at that supremely high-profile event on the White House lawn. As the elected head of a democratic and sovereign government, he never should have consented to Arafat, the henchman of an unofficial, dictatorial, and murderous organization, enjoying equal status with himself.
Appearing together as equals created a dysfunctional illusion of equivalence that over subsequent decades became assumed, ingrained, and unquestioned. In fact, this false equivalence became even more inaccurate with time, as Israel went from one success to another and the Palestinian Authority brought on a reign of ever-deeper anarchy, dependency, and repression.
Meanwhile, the head of the Palestinian Authority, presently in the 12th year of his 4-year term, has been neither able to prevent creeping anarchy on the West Bank nor a rogue group from taking over in Gaza, one-half of his putative domain.
Rather than use the prestige of the Oslo signing ceremony to build a constituency that accepted the Jewish state and thereby end the Palestinians' conflict with it, Arafat exploited his heightened standing to develop new resources to reject Zionism and attack Israel. Palestinian "embassies" popped up worldwide to delegitimize Israel, while Palestinians killed more Israelis in the five years after the Oslo signing than in the fifteen years before it.
In other words, Rabin recklessly put faith in an historic and barbaric enemy changing not just tactics but goals. Israel has paid a heavy price for this error.
Instead of the prime minister, the Israeli standing with Arafat on the White House lawn should have been someone like the second secretary at the Israeli embassy in Norway. That would have delivered the necessary signal that Arafat's protocol equivalent registers stoopingly low in the diplomatic hierarchy. To be sure, that would have meant no Nobel Peace Prize for Yitzhak Rabin. In retrospect, however, would it not have been better to skip celebrating so exuberantly a flawed, doomed, and destructive agreement?
For good measure, the signing ceremony should have taken place in the modesty of Oslo, not the grandeur of Washington, the imperial capital, the home town of the only hyper-power.
Had a lowly precedent been set in 1993, today's false parity between Binyamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas would not exist; the true imbalance of the Palestinian-Israeli relationship might be more clearly seen. As low-level diplomats, not prime ministers, negotiate with Arafat, Abbas, and the assorted other villains and self-styled Palestinian leaders, the world would be constantly reminded not of a sham parallel but of the vast moral and power gulf dividing the two sides.
Well, that did not happen. But is it too late? Can Netanyahu or a future Israeli prime minister escape the indignity of meeting as equals with the leader of a gangster enterprise?
No, it's not too late. Netanyahu could eloquently explain that he meets his legitimate counterparts; he will leave it to functionaries in the Foreign Ministry to handle whoever the Palestinian Authority throws up.
Imagine the benefits of such a step: Israel would gain in stature while the fetid nature of the PA would be exposed. American presidents would lose interest in the "ultimate deal." Other assorted would-be mediators and do-gooders would have a much harder time trying to revive a quarter century of botched negotiations.
So, I suggest Israeli prime ministers leave "peace-processing" with Palestinian hooligans to low-ranking staff.
[Israel Hayom]
*
    


Ambassador Bolton: Iranian Regime Must Be Overthrown

 

 
In a Paris gathering of the Iranian opposition on July 1st, 2017, former UN Ambassador John Bolton delivered a powerful speech calling for the overthrow of the Iranian regime.  The National Council of Resistance of Iran's (NCRI) annual gathering had an audience of 100,000 [really] of Persian Muslims.  Paris hosts a large population of Iranians in exile.  Former Senator Joe Lieberman also addressed the crowd. 
  
 
In Paris, on 1st July, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) will be holding its annual meeting where this will be the central topic. More than 100,000 people are expected to attend to show their support for its call for regime change. The Muslims in the NCRI are sickened by the terrorism that Iran has perpetrated.
 
The President of the opposition has outlined a plan for Iran’s future. It is based on democratic elections and the separation of religion and state. It also requires that Muslim societies align, generally speaking, with the principles of democratic countries.
[Iran Freedom Gathering]
 
 

    

Jewish Homeland: "A Universal Right"



The Holocaust Did Not Create Israel - Einat Wilf

Music conductor Daniel Barenboim wrote in Ha'aretz on June 8 that Israel exists because of the Holocaust. The claim is that Israel "was given" to the Jewish people by the guilt-ridden world after the Holocaust.

Israel was not "given" to the Jews. The last thing on the agenda of the European nations at the end of World War II was guilt feelings toward the Jews.

Just as India and Pakistan and other nations did not need the murder of a third of their people to receive a country at that time, the Jewish people would have obtained its own state at the end of World War II, not because of the Holocaust, but rather because of the dismantling of the British empire as a result of the war.

The right of the Jewish people to have a country in its own homeland is a universal right, which is reserved for every people - the right to stand on its own authority and to control its fate.

(Ha'aretz)
    

More Recent Articles

You Might Like

Click here to safely unsubscribe from "Bruce's MidEast Soundbites."
Click here to view mailing archives, here to change your preferences, or here to subscribePrivacy