by Matthew M. Hausman
Secular Jewish leaders have been wringing their hands lately over the perceived threat to democracy from public expressions of Christianity, even as they turn a blind eye to the very real dangers posed by militant Islam and advancing Sharia.
The sight of a football player on bent knee after scoring a touchdown causes great consternation among those who claim that superfluous displays of faith will somehow lead to violence.
Their obsession reflects a wider effort to undercut support for political candidates who have better records on Israel than many liberal Democrats, but whose constituents happen to include fundamentalist Christians.
The apparent strategy is to suggest that politicians endorsed by the Christian faithful will somehow erode democratic institutions, and to confuse classical conservatism with divergent right-wing ideologies.
However, the progressive mainstream’s focus on a single faith of fluctuating electoral significance in national elections is ironic given its ambivalence regarding the documented connection between Islamism and violence against Jews, Israel and the West, and its naive enabling of the Islamist agenda. In a recent editorial in the local Jewish press (which was subsequently taken offline), a Conservative rabbi warned that public declarations of Christianity could have dire social consequences, and specifically singled out Denver Broncos Quarterback Tim Tebow for his practice of genuflecting in prayer after each touchdown.
Though one can certainly question whether the Almighty really cares who wins a football game, the fear that expressions of Christian faith could somehow incite violence in America would seem to be hyperbole at best. There is no dispute that freedom of speech includes the right of people to express their faith, regardless of how off-putting such expressions might be to those who believe differently, as long as the government does not command any particular doctrinal allegiance.
There is likewise no dispute that critics of religion have the right under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution to chide or even ridicule displays of faith. However, the inconsistency with which liberals dole out their criticism cannot escape reasoned scrutiny.
Secular liberals are disingenuous when they deride public expressions of Christianity or traditional Jewish beliefs, but ignore or minimize undeniable displays of Islamic chauvinism.
This incongruity stands out when measured against the willingness of secular and liberal Jews to engage in dialogue with Muslim groups that have ties to extremist organizations, to condemn watchdog groups who are legitimately concerned about the surreptitious spread of Sharia in the West, or to discount and denigrate the counter-jihad movement without a second thought.
There is certainly a history of mistrust within the Jewish community regarding the evangelical elements of Christianity, and not without good reason. Christianity has a long tradition of antisemitism dating from its earliest days, and its history has been punctuated by recurrent anti-Jewish episodes and outbursts, including crusades, blood libels, inquisitions and massacres, confinement in ghettos, forced conversions, public disputations and destruction of holy books, expulsions and pogroms. This pattern of persecution, which was entirely unprovoked, was motivated by a theology in which the continued existence of the Jewish People played a seminal yet troubling role.
The Jews never engaged in like conduct because they had neither the religious imperative nor the power to do so. Jews do not missionize, and the existence of Christianity is simply irrelevant to the continuity of Jewish belief and practice. Nevertheless, for generations Christian-Jewish relations were dictated by a replacement theology in which the Jews were accused of deicide and their status as a chosen nation was said to be superseded by a “new covenant” represented by the Church. The role of the Jews in this paradigm was to bear ultimate witness to the truth of Christianity or to suffer eternal damnation for failing to do so, and this function was an integral part of Christian eschatology.
It is this history that is evoked by evangelical groups, such as the Southern Baptist Conference, who target Jews for conversion and theological harassment, and whose agenda liberals seek to impute to all Christians who declare their faith publically. Although these beliefs still exist within the wider Christian world, not all Christians subscribe to them.
It is certainly true that some Christians support Israel only because they believe that the Jews’ return and ultimate conversion are prerequisites for the “Rapture” as prophesied in Christian scripture. But it is equally true that many others are sincerely motivated by an acknowledgment of the validity of Jewish belief, practice and history.
Premillennial dispensationalists such as Apostolics and Pentecostals, accept Jewish scripture on its own terms without the need to inject Christological references that are clearly alien to the original text, and to support Israel for reasons of history and justice. These groups generally do not believe in proselytizing to Jews, only to other Gentiles.
Ironically, Jewish progressives often have no problem aligning with mainline Protestant groups, such as Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Mennonites and Congregationalists, who are politically liberal and who are often involved in anti-Israel activities, such as the malicious Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (“BDS”) and lawfare movements. Though the antipathy of these groups for Israel is in fact rooted in classical Christian antisemitism and replacement theology, liberal Jews are reluctant to condemn them, and certainly not with the same vehemence reserved for Christian traditionalists or secular conservatives.
If those who criticize public expressions of Christianity are truly concerned about maintaining the integrity of constitutional freedoms and democratic institutions, one must wonder why they downplay the dangers of doctrinal Islam and the spread of Sharia in the West. They raise the specter of classical Christian antisemitism for political reasons, in order to impugn conservative politicians whose advocacy for Israel has nothing to do with replacement theology.
Why do liberals refuse to condemn anti-blasphemy laws as proposed by the 56-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), which would suppress speech by criminalizing public criticism of Islam (but which nonetheless have been defended by Hillary Clinton and other political progressives)?
Why can’t they acknowledge that the so-called Arab Spring was driven not by a thirst for liberal democracy, but rather by the Islamist rejection of secular leadership and western values?
And why don’t they question the political embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood by the Obama Administration and the European Union?
If secular critics are truly concerned about theoretical threats to democracy from relatively benign expressions of Christianity, their silence regarding the actual dangers posed by Islamist extremism is most puzzling indeed.
The problem is not simply that leftists and even mainstream liberals disregard how Islamist bellicosity is incompatible with free and open societies, but rather that they enable the threat by their embrace of a worldview built on deception and subterfuge, including an antisemitic Palestinian narrative based on a rejection of Jewish historical claims.
In mantra-like fashion they repeat the myth of Islamic tolerance and refuse to concede the role that jihad continues to play in shaping relations with the non-Muslim world. They engage in apologetics when they define jihad as “inner struggle” and ignore its purpose as a doctrinal mechanism for the forcible expansion of the faith.
Likewise, they ignore the destruction that jihad brought to India, Europe, Africa, the Mideast and Asia, where Muslim invaders subjugated indigenous peoples, destroyed their sacred places, and exterminated those who refused to submit to Islam.
In extolling the virtues of a Muslim tolerance that never really existed, secular apologists simply parrot back the dissimulation that is fed to them. Few if any are really familiar with the Quran, Hadith, or Islamic commentaries.
Fewer still have any familiarity with legal compendiums guiding daily practice and ritual, such as the “Reliance of the Traveler,” a classic manual of religious law certified by the canonical decisors of al-Azahar, which is recognized as the most authoritative ecclesiastical institution in Sunni Islam. According to “Reliance of the Traveler,” the term “jihad” refers specifically to war against the “kuffar” (non-Muslims), and is derived from the word “mujahada,” which means warfare for the purpose of spreading the faith. It has no other meaning. Indeed, of the forty-one references to jihad contained in the Quran, all but one treat it as an obligation for “expanding the bloody borders of Islam,” to quote the late Samuel P. Huntington in his influential book, “The Clash of Civilizations.”
Nevertheless, the secular left tends to rationalize any jihadist expression as a logical reaction to past European (i.e., western) abuses. But this view is a revisionist polemic with only a skewed historical basis.
Although religious wars are part of Christian history, they largely subsided after the Eighteenth Century. Not so in the Muslim world, where jihad continues unabated to the present day – against black animists in Sudan, against Hindus in India, against the Coptic population in Egypt, against Christians in Nigeria and elsewhere, against Buddhists in Southeast Asia, and against Jews wherever they are found. Jihad was the reason for the Armenian massacre and the three wars of attempted annihilation against Israel.
Muslim apologists often invoke the horrific Crusades as the archetype of Christian chauvinism, but they conveniently forget that the First Crusade followed by three centuries the invasion of Europe by Arab-Muslim hordes in the name of jihad. While the Crusaders were certainly murderers, rapists and thieves who slaughtered entire Jewish communities, their initial impetus with respect to Islam was to retake lands that had been conquered through jihad.
Instead of acknowledging this history and repudiating the myth of Islamic tolerance, many secular Jewish leaders accept the revisionist canard that the West is morally obligated to make amends for harms it supposedly inflicted on Arab-Muslim society. They support a Palestinian Authority that engages in antisemitic incitement and brazenly affirms its refusal to accept permanent peace with a Jewish state. They seek dialogue with Muslim advocacy groups that have ties to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood. They call on Israel to cede territory and to divide her eternal capital with people who call for her destruction and who have no documented cultural, ethnic, or national history and no ancestral connection to the land. They come to the defense of dubious Muslim groups interested in mosque building at the site of the World Trade Center.
And they sanctimoniously lecture Israel about the need to negotiate with terrorist groups, including Hamas, whose charter unequivocally calls for jihad and genocide.
Unfortunately, it’s not only dishonest left-wing groups like J Street and the New Israel Fund that ignore the influence of doctrinal Muslim antisemitism. Even the Anti-Defamation League has chosen sides in this scrum, assuming a conciliatory tone towards Islam despite the scriptural charges to kill Jews and the preaching of anti-Jewish vitriol by Muslim clergy throughout the Mideast, Europe and America. Passages such as the following from the Hadith are chilling and not uncommon:
The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews. (Related by al-Bukhari and Muslim.) Sahih Muslim, 41:6985.
Not surprisingly, this passage was incorporated in Article Seven of the Hamas Charter. Yet, there is no moral outrage from secular advocates who believe, despite all scriptural evidence to the contrary, that the existence of a Jewish state is permissible under doctrinal Islam and that Israel can achieve peace simply by negotiating with groups who persistently proclaim their commitment to her destruction.
The ADL’s failure adequately to address doctrinal Islamic antisemitism diminishes its credibility, and has caused some to view with jaundiced eyes its ongoing campaign against the increase in global antisemitism. Although ADL is justifiably concerned about resurgent antisemitism and its alarming social acceptability, its advocates seem focused on the complicity of evangelical Christians, some of whom are indeed antisemitic but many of whom are not.The organizational establishment risks alienating Gentiles who are sympathetic to Israel and Jewish causes, and who can be mobilized in the fight against antisemitism. Christian fundamentalism (which despite its contemptible missionary activities does not preach genocide against the Jews) must not deflect serious discussion of Muslim antisemitism (which does).
Jewish establishment organizations have been largely silent regarding doctrinal Muslim antisemitism. More alarmingly, their spokesmen often repeat the myth of Islamic tolerance, and are generally ill-equipped to discuss how the Islamic mainstream truly regards non-Muslims in general and Jews in particular. Their knowledge of Islamic history is woefully inadequate, and their facility with Muslim text egregiously shallow.
Following the lead of Abe Foxman and the ADL, they seem more likely to chastise Jews who are involved in the counter-jihad movement or to equate suspicion of Sharia with antisemitism than they are to acknowledge the history of Muslim conquest, subjugation and incitement. They are just as likely to ignore the doctrinal barrier prohibiting permanent peace with a Jewish nation, and the role of taqiyya and kitman, or religiously-mandated dissimulation, in Muslim-Jewish dialogue.
The focus on Christian insensitivity is related in large part to the fundamentalist rejection of liberal social policy. Secular progressives tend to vilify beliefs they deem inconsistent with their own partisan vision, regardless of whether those who profess contrary opinions are otherwise productive members of society who respect the political process and the rule of law. This is not to deny the existence of Christian zealots who wish to impose their extreme views on others. However, the Christian mainstream in America seems to respect the institutions of constitutional democracy well enough. Many Christians who oppose abortion, for example, are not deranged, clinic-bombing extremists, but instead lobby, protest and work the political system to advance their position. Regardless of how disagreeable their views may be to the moderate mainstream, constitutional democracy does not require unanimity of vision or personal belief.
Ironically for its secular enablers on the left, doctrinal Islam is no more accepting of the liberal social agenda than are Christians preoccupied with so-called family values – and probably is far less so. Although Christian traditionalists are active in the public debate on so-called moral issues in a way that irks many liberals, libertarians and independents, they at least recognize that the debate exists, and that American society is guided by constitutional and democratic principles that guarantee citizens the right to debate and disagree. Sharia, by contrast, is incompatible with these principles and brokers no dissent, whether in matters of gender equality and sexual orientation or freedom of speech and religion.
Unfortunately, it seems that liberal Jews are more vested in a political agenda that often conflicts with traditional values than in contemplating Jewish existential concerns. They fail to see that there is little practical difference between Muslim Jew-hatred and a pervasive left-wing antisemitism that vilifies Israel as a Jewish nation, promotes the myth of global Jewish conspiracies, validates the Palestinian narrative through historical revisionism, and advocates detente with those who would destroy Israel and exterminate her people.
Although the liberal mainstream would bristle at the suggestion that it condones antisemitism, its weakness in condemning the doctrinal hatred of Jews and Israel amounts to complicity through omission. The problem will not be abated by condemning Christian evangelism while giving a free pass to Muslim antisemites.
There needs to be recognition by Jewish leadership of the role that doctrine plays in fanning the flames of Muslim Jew-hatred. This can only be accomplished if those who promote themselves as Jewish leaders are willing to break with a political ideology that readily endorses Arab-Muslim grievances against Israel and the West, is hostile to traditional Jewish values and national claims, and refuses to take a critical look at real religious totalitarianism.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.