Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Let's Answer to a Higher Authority

This morning I got one of those emails comparing the number of Nobel Prizes and cool medical and technical inventions cooked up by Jewish scientists with a lesser number attributable to Muslim professionals.   I do love seeing how many brilliant things come out of the Jewish keppe.  We are truly the people of the book in so many ways.

On the other hand, it saddens me that we play "My dog is bigger than your dog" with the Muslims.  Yes, some of the Muslim world harbors a terrible hatred toward Jews (also toward Americans and the whole westernized world), but I try not to forget that Islam is not just a reflection of extremism any more than Judaism is a reflection of our own bad actors - there have been more than a few, though thankfully not often of the terrorist sort.  I try to remember that Muslims took us in and guarded us during the Crusades and at other points of expulsion from European countries.  Without the kindness of Muslims, Maimonides may not have survived.  More recently, an Egyptian doctor was given the Righteous Gentile award for the work he did saving Jews during the Holocaust, the Muslim countries of Tunisia and Morocco protected its Jews while occupied by Nazi invader.  In my own community a Muslim doctor founded and runs at great peril to himself an international organization dedicated to fighting Islamist extremism.  And in direct controversion to the letter I received this morning, much of early math and physics was developed within the Muslim world.  

Millions of peace-loving Muslims do not want to spend the best parts of their lives on conflict with Israelis or other Jews.  Some of these are partners in attempts to build bridges between the two cultures.  There is a facebook page called Israel Loves Iran, https://www.facebook.com/israellovesiran, where Israelis and Iranians are coming together to talk about peace.  An Iranian artist filmed a video asking people on the streets of Iran what they wish for Jerusalem, and the response is honest and overwhelmingly about peace.  The video is called "Your heart and mine are one."  http://youtu.be/fVX8oW_qS5E.  It's in Iranian but has subtitles.  In response, a group of Israelis published their own version of One Wish Jerusalem, http://youtu.be/rtSVwTtKQGc.  The thing that strikes me the most strongly is how alike all these people look and how alike are their hopes for peace - none of them wish to live under the threat of violence for the rest of their lives.  כולנו רק ילדים של אלוהים.  We are all just children of G-d.  

Please understand: I am not defending Muslim extremism in any way, shape or form.  I'm properly terrified of certain imams in Iran and extremist cells in Syria, and I think I might support much of Bibi Netanyahu's military strategy were I Israeli.  I dialogue regularly with my non-Jewish liberal American friends trying to explain the realities on the ground in Israel and in the middle east.  And yet I think it critical that we do not lower ourselves to the level of those, for example, who create the textbooks of the Palestinian children, in which Jews are vilified and Israel is absent.  Like Hebrew National hot dogs, we must answer to a higher moral standard.  How else will we ever get to peace?