Misguiding the Perplexed - Part 2
Had Salman Rushdie been Jewish, we would have welcomed him as an absolutely standard member of the Jewish community. It didn’t even register on the Richter scale in terms of Jewish challenge
We have discussed diplomats' misleading and obfuscating responses to MK Itamar Ben-Gvir's visit to Har HaBayït, and the general pre-emptive capitulation to threats of Muslim violence. We also examined a sermon by American Rabbi Pinchas Taylor in some detail. Blinding Jews to the threat posed by jihad killers is not only an American phenomenon.
Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks
In a debate with Professor Richard Dawkins on 15 September 2012, the late Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks took great pains to avoid mentioning, or even hinting at, Islam. A member of the audience asked the Chief Rabbi, “What’s your take on Salman Rushdie's attempt to challenge some thinking in Islam, and was the Ayatollah right to issue the fatwa?” To this the Chief Rabbi replied, in incredibly smug tone and discourteous body language:
Had Salman Rushdie been Jewish, we would have welcomed him as an absolutely standard member of the Jewish community. It didn’t even register on the Richter scale in terms of Jewish challenge.
This staggering outburst of supremacism and belittling of both Rushdie's plight and its implications seemed not to have caught anyone's attention. How many absolutely standard member of the Jewish community, one might wonder, have worldwide killing contracts put out on their heads for criticising Islam? Certainly not Rabbi Sacks, who is perhaps not an "absolutely standard member of the Jewish community." It is a preposterous equivalence to draw. One might also wonder whether in the Chief Rabbi's world view, being Jewish transcends being human. Did Rushdie not qualify for acknowledgement of his plight, let alone support, because he wasn't Jewish? When the rabbi said, "It didn’t even register on the Richter scale in terms of Jewish challenge," was he saying that Jewish criticism of religion packs a vastly bigger punch than Rushdie's scribblings, or was he saying that the fatwa on Rushdie has nothing on the Shoah? Using the fatwa against Rushdie to sing the praises of Judaism was also not beneath the Chief Rabbi.
Everyone in Judaism challenges beliefs, and I have the great pleasure of knowing, of course, Stephen Pinker, who is Richard Dawkins’ counterpart in the States, and his wife, Rebecca Goldstein, who just published a wonderful novel called 36 Arguments for the Existence of God/ a work of fiction. In Judaism, we accept open arguments and we do not rule people out at all...
The rabbi embarked on a very long stream of consciousness digression down every possible rabbit hole, till the moderator was forced to cut him off and bring him back to the question: “But to flip the question, implicit is a concern that Islam is different. Islam expects special treatment and is that a concern? It’s the elephant in the room, isn't it.—”
At this point, the Chief Rabbi started drowning out the moderator, finally managing to cut her off, when we hear him emphasise, “You cannot have free a society in which people are not permitted to challenge religious orthodoxy. We have to have the confidence of our beliefs to create a society in which people are free to challenge our most sacred beliefs.” No word about either Islam or Rushdie.
Professor Dawkins is brought back in:
For me one of the most horrible aspects of the Salman Rushdie affair was the way non-Muslim intellectuals in this country and in America took the part of the Ayatollah Khomeini. It was utterly disgraceful to see senior clerics and senior scholars in this country saying, Oh, Salman Rushdie got what he asked for. He deserved what he got… and politicians. The threats that were made not only against him, but against his publisher. There was a terrible story told by the publisher, Penguin Books, whose daughter was threatened at her school and parents were complaining about this girl being at the school, because they said, what if the Muslims attack the school and they get the wrong girl! So the publisher of Penguin said, “The wrong girl?! Who is the right girl, in that that case?
Now we see the Chief Rabbi at his slimiest:
Richard, this is where you and I take a stand side by side. We really do. I am NOT going to allow my religious beliefs to say that there should not be freedom to challenge those beliefs or any beliefs, because without a free society, truth will never emerge from conversation.
Somewhere under this thick blanket of insincerity, Dawkins can be heard concurring, revealing the same naivety as when Maajid Nawaz told him that violent Muslims have only been around since the 1920s. Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has successfully deflected from criticism of Islam, thereby protecting Islam.
Nor is this shielding of Islam a distinctly diaspora phenomenon. Not to be outdone by all the doom-laden prognostications, some in the media even went so far as to predict that Ben-Gvir's visit would trigger WWIII. Sure, this can be dismissed as typical Middle Eastern hyperbole, but judging by the protests on the streets of Tel-Aviv, such views is far from isolated. There is nothing new about this compulsion to capitulate to "Palestinians." The Peace Now movement has done an extraordinary amount of damage since its founding forty-five years ago. More recently, it was striking how many Jews felt themselves affirmed in their goodness when their nemesis, MK Mansour Abbas, rose to the podium in the Knesset on Yom HaShoah, 2020. From the floods of gushing praise on social media, it was hard to avoid the impression that these Jews wanted nothing more than to be dhimmis again.
Mansour Abbas opened by identifying himself as a “religious Muslim Palestinian Arab” and proceeded to equate the Shoah to what the Jews had supposedly done to the “Palestinians.” The MKs were all fully aware that the man addressing them was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, yet they read nothing into his perverse statement:
Holocaust denial is a remnant of Nazi ideology. It is a moral failure and its betrayal of the values of truth and justice is a transgression of a fundamental principle in Islam.
As soon as they heard him say that Holocaust denial is a bad thing, they had heard all they wanted to hear, at last. They had not hoped in vain. Finally, they are save. What a great man this Arab is. Apparently, they have never heard of lairs. One should expect Abbas to dupe the Jews on the nature of Islam and what Muslims have in store for them. That what the Muslim Brotherhood does, yet there are rabbis who do the same.
It is certainly correct that Western dhimmi leaders who censure Jews for visiting, let alone praying at, their holiest site be condemned for nourishing the jihad against Israel. That’s easy. More difficult is to expose the far greater damage done by rabbis themselves in lulling Jews into sleepwalking straight into the next Shoah. Is that God’s plan, too? This has to be brought into the open.
The "wokeness" of Israeli academics is already in the public domain, and deservedly called out, albeit as yet only marginally. The holy men (and women) leading their flocks like lambs to the slaughter, too, need to be exposed as enablers of jihad, just as leaders of the defence establishment and members of the Supreme Court are exposed as enablers of the destruction of the Jewish people. In Islamic eschatology striving for the destruction of the Jewish people is a conditio sine qua non for the consummation of all things, since the Last Hour will not come until the Muslims have killed all the Jews.
The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him; but the tree Gharqad would not say, for it is the tree of the Jews.
How many Jews know of this? By contrast, how many Jews hold themselves responsible for religious Muslim Palestinian Arabs violently imposing their will on Jews, even though Islam commands it. How many Jews labour under the illusion of advancing the cause of peace every time they submit to Muslim intimidation, or flee from criticising Islam? How many feel themselves virtuous for pre-emptively capitulating to such violent intimidation by avoiding praying at their own Holiest of Holy? Not only do Muslims pray there, they riot there, they store arms there and they conduct terrorist operations from there!
How many Jews can visit the Muslims’ holiest site in Mecca, let alone pray there, or visit the city in which that holiest site lies, or even the country in which that city is located? The Muslims' religion commands that every single Jew be expelled from that country, and every single Jew has been, as has every single Christian. For Jews to accept that Muslims are entitled to priority access to the Jews’ holiest site, even though Muslims claim it as only their third holiest, is of course for Jews to place themselves on a level that much lower than Muslims.
But to Muslims, this is already too much. Jews even approaching the Kotel, ever, is too much. Jewish presence anywhere in the city of the Muslims’ supposed third holiest site turns their stomach. When Mahmoud Abbas talks of Jews soiling Har HaBayït "with their filthy feet," not only does he mean it literally, he speaks for the vast majority of Muslims. How much more offensive to them that Jews, the sons of apes and pigs, should rule their city?
The dhimmi Jews and their dhimmi rabbis fail to understand that to Muslims, Jews are entitled to nothing, anywhere, ever, holy or otherwise. It’s called Islam. And such Jews will be very angry should Itamar Ben-Gvir restore Har HaBayït to its proper place at the heart of Judaism and keep those same Jews safe in their beds at night. “Times have changed. There is a government in Jerusalem!” Finally.
But the last word has to go to Rabbi Pinchas Taylor, whose eventual, “insight into God's plan for the world in this religion’s [Islam] development,” sent a chill down my spine:
So where does it all [Islam and Christianity and all that they do] fit in God's plan? Why did God have these faiths spring up? How does it fit in the overall divine picture of where they’re, or where we’re heading
Maimonides says that God allowed Christianity and Islam to take hold in the world to spread the basic concepts of Torah to the nations of the world… When Christianity and Islam came to the scene, both eliminated the depraved pagan behaviours that were going on before, and introduced the world to a version of God and Torah values.
All of this [the existence of Christianity, Islam, and all that they get up to] is ultimately to prepare the world for the Messiah and the Messianic Era when it comes, meaning that whatever bits of truth, whatever bits of Torah have been spread worldwide through these major faith systems, it paves the way that when Meshiach will come, the Messianic Era will come, that the rest of the world will have already been familiarised with certain basic tenets.
Rabbi Yaakov Amdin [said,] “The Christians and the Muslims are key instruments in fulfilling the prophecy that when the Messiah will come, that the knowledge of God will be spread through the earth as the water covers the seabed.
The implications made my head spin. Firstly, everything that Christians and Muslims have ever done or ever will do to Jews, are part of God’s plan. That Rabbi Taylor knows more about Islam than he lets on is clear, yet he cannot have a problem with any of it, because that would to contradict God’s plan. Secondly, ask any Muslim, an adherent of one of "the faiths God had spring up," what God’s plan for the Jews is, and, if they are honest, they’ll tell you that the Last Hour will not come until the Muslims have killed all the Jews. Some plan! Some God! Thirdly, given that Islam is part of God's plan for Jews, wishing to see the end of Islam, as I do, must then bring me into direct conflict with God’s plan for the consummation of Judaism. The implication of what Rabbi Pinchas Taylor is saying, is that I am anti-Semitic!
Furthermore, if it is God’s plan, then who are we to oppose it? It is a rabbi’s duty to see to it that God’s plan be done, a duty that Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks did not shirk when a goy tried to lure him into speaking of Salman Rushdie, and in so doing sully the Blessed Memory of Ayatollah Khomeini. Rabbi Taylor, ever the comforter, tells his congregation, "So, not to justify any of it," which they must have found comforting, "but just but but perhaps some of the things that we see on the news is is is a is a fringe element, unfortunately, that has uh really um given a bad name to the entire Islamic faith."
I am left with more questions than I had begun with, and more great schisms seem to lie ahead for Judaism. Either way, I am not one for drawing a distinction between “Islam as a set of ideas” and those who support Islam, whether by word or by deed. A set of ideas, whatever it might be, is harmless without people to operationalise it, just as the horrific religion of the ancient Inca is harmless today. One might wonder what these rabbis say to their congregations about the mass apostasy from Islam now sweeping through Iran.
- “Jonathan Sacks and Richard Dawkins at BBC RE:Think Festival,” Brain Sacks, YouTube, 15 September 2012 https://youtu.be/roFdPHdhgKQ?t=2769
- On the "Palestinian" equation of the Shoah to their nakba, see "Hussein Aboubakr on the Holocaust in the Arab Moral Imagination," Mosaic Magazine, https://mosaicmagazine.com/observation/history-ideas/2022/08/podcast-hussein-aboubakr-on-the-holocaust-in-the-arab-moral-imagination/
- Sahih Muslim/Book 41/6985, dubbed “the genocide hadith.” https://quranx.com/Hadith/Muslim/USC-MSA/Book-41/Hadith-6985
- It is commonly asserted, even by Israeli governments, that under Jewish rule, Muslims and Jews have equal access to Har HaBayït. This is nonsense. The main entrances are reserved for Muslims, the back entrance is for Jews; the site is accessible to Muslims at all times, but accessible to Jews only at very restricted times. Muslims can go anywhere on the site, Jews must confine themselves to certain areas. Muslims can be as loud as they want, Jews must comport themselves quietly. Muslims may pray on the site, Jews may not, not even silently. Muslims, especially the waqf officials and staff, make their lordship over Jews abundantly clear, Jews acknowledge their presence on Muslim sufferance and feel themselves subdued. The only difficulty here is in figuring out which parts are Pact of ’Umr and which are apartheid.
- I will examine the perils inherent to the Abraham Accords in a future essay.