Moral relativism and jihad
Two events happened on Wednesday which should send a shiver down the spine of everyone concerned about the future of the American Jewish community. But to understand their importance it is important to consider the context in which they occurred.
On January 13, The New York Times reported on a series of virulently anti-Jewish comments Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi made in speeches given in 2010. Among other things, Morsi said, “We must never forget, brothers, to nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred for them: for Zionists, for Jews.” He said that Egyptian children “must feed on hatred; hatred must continue. The hatred must go on for God and as a form of worshiping him.”
In another speech, he called Jews “bloodsuckers,” and “the descendants of apes and pigs.”
Two weeks after the Times ran the story, the Obama administration sent four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt as part of a military aid package announced in December 2012 entailing the provision of 20 F-16s and 200 M1-A1 Abrams tanks.
The Anti-Defamation League, AIPAC, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and other prominent American Jewish groups did not oppose the weapons transfer.
With the American Jewish leadership silent on the issue, Israel found its national security championed by Sen. Rand Paul. He attached an amendment to a budget bill that would bar the US from transferring the advanced weapons platforms to Egypt.
Paul explained, “Egypt is currently governed by a religious zealot… who said recently that Jews were bloodsuckers and descendants of apes and pigs. This doesn’t sound like the kind of stable personality we [sh]ould be sending our most sophisticated weapons to.”
Paul’s amendment was overwhelmingly defeated, due in large part to the silence of the American Jewish leadership.
The Times noted that Morsi’s castigation of Jews as “apes and pigs” was “a slur for Jews that is familiar across the Muslim world.”
Significantly the Times failed to note that the reason it is familiar is because it comes from both the Koran and the hadith. The scripturally based denigration of Jews as apes and pigs is legion among leading clerics of both Sunni and Shi’ite Islam.
It was not a coincidence that the Times failed to mention why Morsi’s castigation of Jews as apes and pigs was so familiar to Muslim audiences.
The Islamic sources of Muslim Brotherhood Jew hatred, and indeed, hatred of Jews by Islamic leaders from both the Sunni and Shi’ite worlds, is largely overlooked by the liberal ideological camp. And the overwhelming majority of the American Jewish leadership is associated with the liberal ideological camp.
If the Times acknowledged that the Jew hatred espoused by Morsi and his colleagues in the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as by their Shi’ite colleagues in the Iranian regime and Hezbollah is based on the Koran, they would have to acknowledge that Islamic Jew hatred and other bigotry is not necessarily antithetical to mainstream Islamic teaching. And that is something that the Times, like its fellow liberal institutions, is not capable of acknowledging.
They are incapable of acknowledging this possibility because considering it would implicitly require a critical study of jihadist doctrine. And a critical study of jihadist doctrine would show that the doctrine of jihad, or Islamic holy war, subscribed to by the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates, as well as by the Iranian regime and Hezbollah and their affiliates, is widely supported, violent, bigoted, evil and dangerous to the free world.
And that isn’t even the biggest problem with studying the doctrine of jihad. The biggest problem is that a critical study of the doctrine of jihad would force liberal institutions like the New York Times and the institutional leadership of the American Jewish community alike to abandon the reigning dogma of the liberal ideological camp – moral relativism.
Moral relativism is based on a refusal to call evil evil and a concomitant willingness to denigrate truth if truth requires you to notice evil.
Since pointing out the reality of the danger the jihadist doctrines propagated by the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood involves the implicit demand that people make distinctions between good and evil and side with good against evil, moral relativists – that is most liberals – cannot contend with jihad.
This is why the American Jewish leadership refused to join Rand Paul and his conservative Republican colleagues in the Senate and demand an immediate cessation of US military aid to the Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Egyptian military even after the evidence of the Brotherhood’s genocidal Jew hatred was splashed across the front page of the Times.
It is the dominance of moral relativism in liberal institutions like the New York Times that make even the most apologetic expose of the Muslim Brotherhood a major event. And it is the dominance of liberal orthodoxies in the mainstream Jewish community that makes it all but impossible for Jewish leaders to speak up against the Muslim Brotherhood, despite the manifest danger its genocidal hatred of Jews poses not only for Israel, but for Jews everywhere.
It is bad enough that liberal Jewish leaders won’t speak out against the Koranic-inspired evil that characterizes the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood. What is worse is what their own morally relative blindness causes them to do.
On Wednesday, we saw two distressing examples of the consequences of this self-imposed embrace of ideological fantasies.
First, on Wednesday, Yeshiva University’s Cardozo Law School’s Journal of Conflict Resolution gave its annual International Advocate of Peace Award to former president Jimmy Carter.
Carter’s long record of anti-Israel, and indeed anti-Semitic, actions and behavior made the decision to bestow him with the honor an affront not only to the cause of peace, but to the cause of Jewish legal rights. As an advocate of Hamas and a man who castigates Israel as an illegal “apartheid” state, Carter has a long record of outspoken opposition to both Jewish human rights and to viable peace between Israel and its neighbors.
For outsiders, the Orthodox Jewish university’s law school’s law journal’s decision to honor Carter was shocking, but as it works out, the Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution confers its prize almost exclusively on people active in pressuring Israel to make concessions to Palestinian terrorists who reject Israel’s right to exist. Past winners include Dennis Ross, Bill Clinton, Richard Holbrooke, George Mitchell, John Wallach and Seeds of Peace and, perhaps most astoundingly, the outspoken Jew hater Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
In other words, Carter wasn’t chosen for the honor despite his anti-Israel record. He was selected because of his anti-Israel record.
In a similar fashion, New York’s 92nd Street Y invited virulent Israel hater Roger Waters to perform a concert on April 30. Given Waters’s outspoken opposition to Israel, his call for total economic and cultural warfare against the Jewish state and his leading role in the BDS movement, it is not possible that the 92nd Street Y was unaware of his radical, anti-Semitic sentiments.
And so, the only reasonable explanation for his invitation to perform at the Jewish institution is that the Y wanted to invite this openly anti- Semitic musician to perform. A public outcry by pro-Israel activists forced the Y to cancel his performance.
The day that Carter was embraced by the Orthodox Jewish establishment, Jewish author and activist Pamela Geller was silenced. Geller is the nightmare of the liberal Jewish establishment.
She is a beautiful and articulate speaker and writer who has risen to prominence in the US for her steadfast commitment to exposing the deadly pathologies of Jew hatred, misogyny and other prejudices inherent to jihadist ideology.
Geller’s website, Atlas Shrugs, is a clearinghouse for information on Islamic persecution of women, Christians and apostates and hatred of Jews. She also showcases the documented ties between mainstream American Islamic groups and the Muslim Brotherhood.
An indefatigable defender of Israel, Geller recently ran a highly controversial, and successful ad campaign in the New York and San Francisco public transportation systems in response to an anti-Israel ad campaign. Her billboards read, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel, Defeat Jihad.”
Geller was scheduled to speak on April 13 at the Great Neck Synagogue in Great Neck, New York. The topic of her talk was “The Imposition of Shari’a in America.”
Last month, after learning of her talk, a consortium of Islamic and leftist activists in Nassau County led by Habeed Ahmed from the Islamic Center of Long Island launched a pressure campaign to coerce the synagogue into cancelling her speech. Members of the group telephoned the synagogue and castigated Geller as a bigot, and likened her to the Nazis in the 1930s.
In short order liberal rabbis Michael White and Jerome Davidson took over the opposition to Geller and launched a media campaign attacking her as a bigot and demanding that the Great Neck Synagogue cancel her speech.
Rejecting the distinction Geller makes between jihadists and their victims – Muslim and non- Muslim alike, White and Davidson claimed that she opposes all Muslims and so her speech must be canceled. By hosting her, they intoned, the Great Neck Synagogue would be guilty of propagating hate speech. Liberal Christian and Jewish activists and their Muslim associates threatened to protest the speech.
On Wednesday the synagogue caved in to their massive pressure. Citing “security concerns” the synagogue board released a statement saying that while “these important issues must be discussed, the synagogue is unable to bear the burden” of the pressure campaign surrounding Geller’s planned speech. Her event was canceled.
Surveys of the American Jewish community taken in recent years by the American Jewish Committee demonstrate that the vast majority of American Jews are deeply supportive of Israel, and their views tend toward the Right side of the political spectrum in issues related to Israel, the Palestinians and the wider Islamic conflict with the Jewish state.
On the other hand, the AJC’s surveys show that for the vast majority of American Jews, Israel is not a voting issue. This state of affairs was reflected by a comment that Yeshiva University student Ben Winter made to the media regarding the absence of student protest against Carter on Wednesday. In Winter’s words, “While many students at YU feel strongly about their Zionism, few have the courage to publicly express their opinions.”
The danger exposed by the cancellation of Geller’s speech and the conferral of honors on the likes of Carter and Waters by mainstream Jewish institutions is daunting. If moral relativism remains the dominant dogma of the American Jewish establishment, the already weakly defended, but still strongly rooted, support for Israel among the rank and file of the American Jewish community will dissipate.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.