Hamid Karzai recently called the brave and selfless members of the United States
military “demons” who were guilty of perhaps “500” atrocities against the people
of the Afghanistan. One would have thought that the American commander-in-chief
would swiftly denounce this stunning act of ingratitude by reminding him that
nearly 2,000 American troops have given their lives for the freedom of the
Afghani people. They are angels of mercy, not demons.
But in remaining
silent President Barack Obama not only missed an opportunity to defend the honor
of our brave men and women in uniform, but also missed an opportunity to remind
Muslims the world over of the beautiful tenets of their faith, that would never
brook such shameful ingratitude. The Koran, Sura 14, says that those who are
grateful will be given more by God.
And the prophet Mohammad also said,
“Gratitude for the abundance you have received is the best insurance that the
abundance will continue.” The point is this: capitulation by Western leaders in
the face of pressure or bullying from Islamic leaders who, with their misguided
actions, betray a great world religion is bad for the West and bad for
For the past three years I banged my head against a wall called
the City of Englewood – its mayor and council – cajoling, pushing and nearly
begging that they do something about the Libyan Embassy that is my immediate
next-door neighbor. Tax it, fine it, do something to make life uncomfortable for
the Gaddafi government that owned it so that the murderous regime would choose
to sell it and return the millions of dollars invested in it – all in an attempt
to make it comfortable for Gaddafi to stay for a short while – and return the
money to the Libyan people to whom it belonged.
Now comes the
unbelievable news that the city’s inaction potentially endangered its
inhabitants greatly, and not just me, its neighbor. We now know that the Gaddafi
regime, under the concealment of diplomatic immunity, was using its embassies
throughout the world to stockpile handguns, sub-machine guns, plastic
explosives, hand grenades and wiretapping equipment.
In some embassies
the equipment even included booby-trapped vehicles and rocket-propelled
All this was revealed when the weapons were discovered by
representatives of Libya’s interim government, the National Transitional
Council, who started taking over the embassies abroad.
When NTC Deputy
Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdul Aziz was asked whether he thought that the
weapons, which were shipped in diplomatic bags, were intended for covert
operations by Gaddafi and his regime, he answered “I have no single doubt in my
mind.” Aziz revealed that the weapons discovered thus far are just the tip of
the iceberg and even included “chemical stuff.” I still have no idea if the
Embassy next door to me has been searched after this information was revealed.
Pretty scary for a small Jersey town or for the rabbi who lives next door with
nine kids and a synagogue on his property, or the Moriah Jewish Day School with
a thousand Jewish kids that is also a next-door neighbor.
I had actually
told city officials how worried I was that there might be arms in the embassy.
But like everything else it was just shrugged off. This led to a clash between
me and Congressman Steve Rothman, who publicly gave me and other Englewood
residents advice to be “appropriately good neighbors” to the Libyans and
followed up later, after I had publicly rejected his advice, with publishing a
three-page press release attacking me and defending the status quo of the
Libyans living tax-free in Englewood, since the city had lost an earlier
challenge nearly 30 years earlier.
But what we have learned from the
brave Arab peoples of Libya, Egypt and Syria in the courageous Arab Spring is
that there can be no capitulation in the face of oppression and
BBC head Mark Thomson recently confessed – to the Oxford
University research project known as The Free Speech Debate – to giving Islam a
better media portrayal than Christianity out of fear, arguing that the media had
to consider the difference between “violent threats” in place of polite
complaints if they pushed ahead with certain types of satire. Thompson said:
“Without question, ‘I complain in the strongest possible terms,’ is different
from, ‘I complain in the strongest possible terms and I am loading my AK-47 as I
write.’ This definitely raises the stakes.”
Thomson was commenting on a
2005 BBC portrayal of Jesus wearing a diaper, something they pushed ahead with
even as 45,000 people complained to the broadcaster about its irreverent
treatment of Christian themes. Thompson belatedly accepted their argument that
the BBC would not have ridiculed Islam in a similar fashion.
that one of the world’s foremost news organizations would capitulate to fear and
intimidation is deeply disturbing, and not principally for Westerners but for
Muslims. The more the West shows an unwillingness to bow in the face of fright
and panic, the more our oppressed Muslim brothers and sisters who live in
various totalitarian regimes will feel they have committed partners in
confronting tyrants like Bashar Assad of Syria, and the more Islam will be
purged of a militaristic strain that is a betrayal of its core
Those who argue that Islam is an inherently violent faith, or
anti-Jewish, deliberately deny history, as when Sultan Saladin took back
Jerusalem in 1187 and allowed all Christians to ransom their lives and the
penniless to go free. The Christians had expected the same harsh treatment they
had meted out in conquering Jerusalem in 1099, when all Muslims and Jews were
Saladin was also generous in his treatment of the Jewish
community in his realm. In 1190, he called on Jews to settle once again within
the walls of Jerusalem, since they had been banned from the city during the
Crusader occupation. Maimonides, one of Judaism’s greatest thinkers, was court
physician to Saladin.
To assail Islam as inherently anti-modern is
likewise to ignore how already in the ninth century Muslim rulers were
prioritizing general education when few others were. Al-Mamun, caliph of the
Abbasid dynasty, established state-funded academies that translated Greek and
other works of antiquity, thereby predating European universities by some three
centuries. The Abbasid Muslim Empire brought about agricultural innovations in
the 8th century that would not be seen in the West until late in the 12th
century. Al-Razi of Baghdad wrote numerous medical books in the 10th century
which included groundbreaking health treatments which the West would not match
for another 600 years.
In the 16th century Muslim Sultan Akbar of India
was renowned for cross-cultural political appointments and enacting laws that
embraced religious tolerance and protection of women and children. He was also
one of the first commanders to insist on humane treatment of captured enemy
Islam today can experience the same kind of enlightened golden
age it has in the past if it, along with the West, stands up to the murderers
and bullies who betray a great world religion by daring to speak wickedly in its
The writer is the author of Kosher Jesus and is running for
Congress in New Jersey’s Ninth Congressional District. His website is www.shmuleyforcongress.com. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.