Islam, My Islam



    The success of the Israeli Defence Forces’ Operation Defensive Shield in May aided substantially in shredding the tissue of lies which is the Palestinian Authority.  The operation, which netted about 70% of the leading terrorist operatives and neutralized 80% of the bomb-making labs in the targeted West Bank Cities (about 4,500 Palestinians were detained in the operation.  Of these 1,450 were formally arrested and charged after admitting involvement in terrorist activities.  The IDF also seized 2,000 Kalashnikov rifles, 800 pistols, 388 sniper rifles, 93 machine guns, 9 rocket launchers, six mortars, 40 ammunition crates and 430 explosive charges).  More significant (by far) was the seizure of documents linking Yasser Arafat directly to terrorist activities.  “We’ve managed to translate and explain around a dozen documents, different documents of different types, which have shown the connection of the Palestinian Authority to terrorism,” said Colonel Miri Eisin, a senior Israeli intelligence officer.

    Although it is unwise to underestimate the ability of the secular left-liberal quasi-socialists to accommodate these new facts while simultaneously professing an undying faith in Yasser Arafat as the only possible “partner for peace” in the Middle East (this is, after all, the political faction that still housed a sizeable constituency of Stalin apologists as late as the 1960s) it does appear that the PA chairman’s days as a pivotal figure on the world stage are drawing to a close.  Certainly his credibility as a Muslim suffered a (perhaps mortal?) blow when he turned over to British and U.S. control the six terrorists he had been sheltering at his Ramallah headquarters in a deal to lift the Israeli siege on his compound.  This recalled the decision which faced Abu Talib, Muhammad’s uncle, when the Koreish were pressuring him to surrender the Prophet to them.  As I mentioned in discussing that situation earlier in this series of essays (relative to the U.S. promise of a reward of US $25 million for the surrender of Osama bin Laden), surrendering a Muslim to the infidels is a real “non-starter” for both Arabs and Muslims.  Upon his release, Arafat was forced to cancel a tour of the Jenin refugee camp because of concerns for his safety.  At this point, despite his “nine lives,” I think it’s safe to say that Arafat has dropped off the radar screen as a potential Heir to the Mantle of the Prophet.  However, in my view, he still merits close scrutiny—and I still recommend the precautionary measure of taking him out in the woods and putting a bullet in his head.  I think the fears that the summary execution of Yasser Arafat would lead to his being seen as a martyr to the Palestinian cause are entirely unfounded.  I view it as an extension of the sensible Israeli policy of “early retirement” for the homicidal elements within the PA, Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade (if they are going to describe themselves as Martyrs, then I think they should be assisted in fulfilling that description).  As Neill Lochery, director of the Centre for Israeli Studies at University College in London, put it in his article of 23 January:


The vast majority of the Palestinian population is secular in nature, and is turned off by the prospect of an Islamic Fundamentalist Palestinian State—the ideological cornerstone of Hamas and Islamic Jihad’s program.  Support for Hamas has, in the main, been based on the growing dependency of segments of Palestinian society on the hospitals and schools run by it, which are sponsored by foreign donors.  The hospitals often provide much better conditions than their counterparts run by the Palestinian Authority, which are funded by taxation.  Money is, however, drying up, particularly in the post-Sept. 11 climate.  With the United States, at last, launching serious investigations into international funding of radical Islamic groups, many wealthy Saudis are withdrawing contributions for fear of being exposed.


    I think the Western Democracies should try not to lose sight of the fact that the Islamic extremists—the Wahabites and their offshoots—are a minority within a minority.  As Mr. Lochery goes on to say, “In reality, these groups enjoy core support of only around 10% of the population, the rest is merely an endorsement of their hawkish stand against Israel.”  10% of the population supports the extremist groups which, I would guess, represents 10% of that 10% (those who support terrorism and suicide bombings as an appropriate method for achieving a political aim).  In turn 10% of that 10% consists of those who actually own Kalashnakov rifles, machine guns, mortars and have used them or intend to use them against Israeli soldiers or citizens or who are actually engaged in the making of suicide bombs in the various West Bank underground factories and—who actually believe the ridiculous fatwas of many prominent Wahabite Muslim clerics declaring Israel to be a “a head-to-toe ‘military society’ in which even the babies are soldiers,” thus “validating” the indiscriminate murder of women and children as “legitimate” targets of jihad.   And then, of course, there is the 10% of that 10% who actually blow themselves up.   My thesis is that, once you get down to the base level of people who seriously believe that babies are soldiers and that blowing yourself up next to women and children is a legitimate form of warfare, you are no longer dealing with human beings, you are dealing with homicidal nutcases.  Armed homicidal nutcases.   Armed homicidal nutcases who constitute a minority within a minority within a minority.  That is to say, a “handful” of armed homicidal nutcases.  The only sensible reaction to a “handful” of armed homicidal nutcases is the one Israeli forces have been using: targeted killings.  “Early retirement,” coupled with surgical incursions into the homicidal nutcase breeding grounds, incarceration and interrogation to separate the 1,450 terrorist participants from the 4,500 (relatively) harmless civilians.  Contrary to conventional wisdom, I don’t believe that armed homicidal nutcases are able to breed that fast.  When you are dealing with 10% of 10% of 10% of 10%, it’s basically a “grooming” operation: the way that apes comb through each other’s fur to get the lice and ticks out.  Do they get all of the lice and ticks out?  No.  Do the lice and ticks come back?  Certainly.  Then what’s the point?  The point is to keep the population of lice and ticks in your fur to a minimum.  It’s time-consuming, it is a non-stop process, it is (I’m sure) no “day at the beach” for the lice and the ticks, but it is certainly worth doing and I would venture to say that the vast majority of  anthropoids—even though they exist below the threshold of genuine sentience—agree with me.   “99% of Apes Surveyed Agree: Constant Grooming Well Worth Effort, Time Involved.”   In fact, I would argue that Arab sentience (far, far exceeding that of the apes) makes what the Israelis are doing even more worthwhile.  As incoherent and insensible as the Wahabite Muslim extremists tend to be (as they have to be, since they are defending an indefensible viewpoint), still they are able to recognize that—if the IDF is able to penetrate the refugee camps at will and separate the “wheat from the chaff” of those they arrest (releasing the “wheat” and imprisoning the “chaff”)—as sentient beings it is going to become apparent to the “Palestinians” after a few of these incursions that it is high time to get out of the “lice and tick” business (as it were).  The net effect of “grooming” is to bring forth less incoherent and less insensible representatives of the opposing viewpoint, to marginalise the incoherent and insensible Wahabite extremists.  As is only appropriate since they are, inescapably, a minority of a minority of a minority of a minority.  Constant “grooming,” coupled with a willingness to negotiate should (all things being equal) eventually produce a coherent and sensible viewpoint on the Muslim/Arab/Palestinian/Transjordanian/West Bank and Gaza side of the debate.  And then negotiations can resume—or, rather, begin. 

    I say “begin” because I don’t think what we have had up ‘til now represents anything close to a sensible negotiation.  On the contrary, I think most of the posturing that we have seen from the PA has been a relentless playing of (what I call) the “Jesus card”.  The PA and Yasser Arafat portray themselves as martyrs (istishad).  The reason for this, I believe, is that they know that the Israelis—owing to their experience with Jesus—are loathe to allow anyone to occupy the rôle of victim—or, rather, Victim.  Remember that the complete destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 A.D.  took place within the lifetime of that same generation of Jews who had witnessed the Crucifixion.  The synchronistic occurrence of those two events is very much at the core of the Jewish experience, the mass Jewish consciousness (if you will).  They lost their homeland and their city for two thousand years.  Having gotten their homeland back for all of fifty years and their city for thirty-five years, there is a definite, justifiable and profound Jewish wariness about losing both again—particularly for what the Jews would regard as the same reason: martyrdom, or, rather, Martyrdom. I believe that this is the reason that every Israeli government since 1948 has been walking on eggshells when it comes to the use of force.  Even on those occasions when the surrounding Arab nations have attacked and then been forced into an inglorious retreat, the Israeli military has always stopped well short—well short—of exhausting its own battlefield momentum.  Had they chosen, they could’ve cut through their opponents like a hot knife through butter.  But each time, they have exhibited remarkable, nearly superhuman, restraint: seizing only the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. That’s it!  Even though, on each occasion, in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, they went through their opponents like a hot knife through butter.  I believe The PA—seeing the “trump card” writing on the wall with the Israeli adoption of surgical incursions into the refugee camp/cities of the West Bank as their new foreign policy—have pulled out all the stops in their attempts to play the “Jesus Card.”  Case in point:

    An article by Stewart Bell, dated May 1st (a couple of days before Arafat turned over the six terrorists to British and U.S. control) mentions that Arafat, some humanitarian groups and a member of the Knesset (the Israeli parliament) were complaining that the Israeli army was “starving the 72-year-old Palestinian leader”:


     Angered by suggestions it had tried to starve Yasser Arafat out of his presidential compound, the Israeli military has released a lengthy list of the groceries it shipped to the Palestinian leader during his month under siege.  The figures, presented to the foreign affairs and defence committees of the Knesset, show Mr. Arafat and his entourage consumed 13,200 pieces of pita bread, 420 cans of hummus, 423 cans of tuna, 720 bottles of Coke, 30 cans of coffee, 155 boxes of tea, 360 kilograms of sugar, 505 cans of sardines, 458 packages of cheese, 60 cartons of eggs.

    In addition, 120 cartons of cigarettes and 270 packages of toilet paper were brought in, plus hundreds of kilograms of rice and fruits and vegetables, including 24 watermelons, 40 kilograms of grapes and 65 kilograms of lemons. 

   One box of Corn Flakes was also sent to Mr. Arafat.


   That “one box of Corn Flakes” cracks me up.  So much for the “Jesus Card” on this one.

    If you keep track of Yasser Arafat’s various pronouncements, there is a definite attempt at “linkage” between Christianity and Islam, the use of the “Jesus Card”.  The Jews murdered Jesus!  The Jews are murdering Palestinians!  Let us join forces and drive the Jews into the Mediterranean!  This, of course, takes place against a backdrop of the degraded estate to which Christianity has sunk, particularly in the last fifty years, a state of degradation of which Muslims, Arabs and “Palestinians” are either blindly ignorant or which they intentionally choose to ignore in the interests of forging the necessary temporary alliance.  North Americans and Europeans, if they give Jesus or God even a passing thought in the course of the average day, rate both, in my view, at a level of interest somewhere below that of Levi jeans or the latest Star Wars epic which, themselves, are rated well below the level of importance of the Superbowl, the World Cup, if Madonna is pregnant or not and what Jennifer Lopez is going to wear to the Academy Awards.  The reaction of Raymond J. de Souza, Rome correspondent for the National Catholic Register to the recent occupation of the Church of the Nativity by “Palestinian” gangsters, to me, neatly encapsulates the problem in an article entitled “Christianity turns the other cheek: Where is the outrage when a church is desecrated?” 


   Christian pusillanimity reached absurd lows last Saturday night [11 May] when Italian mayors, gathered in Rome, took to the Colosseum to sing John Lennon’s Imagine.  Italy, which is very proud of itself for being selected as the likely site of the next international peace conference on the Middle East, wanted to show its commitment to peace.  The Christian martyrs of the Colosseum would have wept to see it.

   The enemies of Christianity are justified in their laughter.  The birthplace of Jesus Christ is overrun by terrorists, and in response, dozens of at least nominally Catholic politicians sing pop music’s most nihilistic anthem—imagine there’s no Heaven…no countries…no religion.  Imagine no Christian resistance.  It isn’t hard to do.

   Never before in the centuries of wars and sackings that have drenched the Holy Land in blood has the basilica of the Nativity been occupied.  And for good reason—potential occupiers knew that a ferocious response would certainly have followed.  Today, the only penalty seems to be having to listen to John Lennon’s puerile philosophy set to music. 


  The problem, of course, is that there is no such thing as Christendom such as Yasser Arafat envisions.  The worldwide entity that he seeks to unite behind his cause is in the process of being taken over and eviscerated by women, as surely as colleges and universities and the entertainment field have been taken over and gutted by the left-liberal, quasi-socialist feminine sensibility.  The Anglican Church has already fallen, Anglicans having been given the conventional feminist choice of “capitulate or leave”: accept women priests, homosexual priests and same-sex marriages or leave.  Women are, by nature, pusillanimous creatures.  United with their pusillanimous counterparts—women-with-penises—there is no conflict too large, no interest too vital that, in their view, it can’t be preserved by closing their eyes, linking arms and imagining that there are no countries, no religion, no Heaven, no Hell, dropping piteously to their knees and, with bottom lip a-tremble, singing along.  This was, of course, the reality that the watershed moments of 11 September exposed most vividly.  All of the left-liberal, quasi-socialist women and women-with-penises standing around with mouths agape and tears streaming down their cheeks.  And those of us who believe—and who believed prior to 11 September—that there is such a thing as good and evil and that good must be eternally vigilant and must actively work to destroy evil wherever it exists were left looking at the “Kumbaya” brigade and going, Yes?  And…?  Do you want to add a couple of verses:  “Imagine there’s no World Trade Center”?  “Imagine there’s no Pentagon”?  Of course, the “Kumbaya” brigade has been with us for some time: its ideological predecessors believed that Hitler could be negotiated with.  Right up to September 1939 when the German tanks rolled into Poland.  At which point, I’m sure my ideological predecessors looked at the appeasers going, Yes?  And…?  At these critical junctures in the histories of the great democracies, left-liberal, quasi-socialist women and women-with-penises all have the same astute plan of action which they immediately institute: that is, they continue to stand there with their mouths agape and tears streaming down their cheeks. 

     I’m trying hard not to pre-empt my own concluding remarks to this series and much of the substance of “Why Canada Slept”.  However, suffice to say, I believe that it was a serious miscalculation on Yasser Arafat’s part to think that Christendom with its feminist rot and infestation was in any position to take any kind of concerted action for or against anyone or even to make any kind of declaration apart from “Yes, dear.  Whatever you say, dear.  I apologize, dear.”  Although the Catholic church appears to the women and women-with-penises to be holding out against their best efforts (this can, I think, be attributed to the fact that—as was the case with colleges and universities— feminism accepts only total capitulation  Not for too little is Zero tolerance a catchphrase of feminist origin:  to women and women-with-penises there is only one way, their way and their way is absolute)  the fact remains that its evisceration is far advanced.  For all intents and purposes the Catholic church is now a secular feminist social engineering bastion, like the universities and colleges. All that is in doubt is the sequence in which the remaining dominos of its infrastructure will ultimately fall.  Thus, its institutional reactions to even the most monumental of crises—and its hard to imagine a more monumental crisis in world Christendom than the takeover of the Church of the Nativity by gangsters—must needs be those of its constituent parts, women and women-with-penises:  for now and evermore all the Catholic church will be equipped to do in a crisis is to stand there with its institutional mouth agape and institutional tears streaming down its cheeks.   


    This series is called “Islam, My Islam,” but I think the issue of Israel holding the moral high ground in the Middle East is worth lingering over a bit.  While I give equal weight to Judaism and Islam, when it comes to Israel and the Arab dictatorships, I favour the former over the latter, hands down. It is, to me, only common sense.  Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East and I would have to consider Israel (very much against overwhelming odds, I might add) to be a vanguard democracy.  Like the United States, Israel pushes the boundaries of what is and what is not allowed within its borders, striving always to err on the side of greater freedom for all its citizens.  Ed Morgan, a law professor at the University of Toronto, has written a couple of pieces on this very subject after the Israeli incursion into the Jenin refugee camp about a petition filed with the Supreme Court of Israel to halt the removal of bodies and how the Court filed a temporary injunction supporting the petition which it then overturned a couple of days later after a partial agreement had been reached between the petitioners and the Israeli government:


    The petition in question challenged the army’s plans to bury Palestinian gunmen separately from civilians killed in the fighting. It was filed by Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, along with two Arab Israeli Knesset members, Mohammad Barakeh and Ahmed Tibi.  The existence and strength of these Arab legal and political figures in the Israeli system is itself worthy of note given the negative, apartheid-like caricature of Israel so prevalent in international human rights circles.  The ability of these activists to bring a challenge to military operations in the midst of a war is truly remarkable.

   What is perhaps the most interesting aspect of all, however, is that this was not a futile effort by activists to dramatize their point; in fact, they won a major part of their case.  Chief Justice Aaron Barak issued a court order denying the armed forces access to the town which they had just fought bitterly last week to gain. 

    The petitioners had claimed that the plans for cleaning up Jenin included house demolitions and interment of dead gunmen in a mass grave that would violate international law.  Israel’s most liberal jurist…ordered the military to halt pending a full hearing. 

    Two days later, after the army saw the judicial writing on the wall and agreed to bury the gunmen in accordance with Palestinian wishes, the court lifted the injunction.  The panel of three judges included the religious appointee to Israel’s Supreme Court, Justice Yitzhak Englard, who has endorsed a humanitarian rather than doctrinaire approach to issues of religion and the law.  In a compromise ruling, the panel refused to interfere with the security assessment that the demolitions were necessary, but it did so only after it satisfied itself that the human rights issues of mass burial was resolved to the petitioners’ satisfaction. 

    During the height of the Vietnam war, the U.S. courts came to a similar position toward the conduct of military operations, refusing to interfere with the strategic decisions of the armed forces in the war effort, but enjoining and punishing specific cases of human rights abuses.

   Israel’s struggle to protect legal rights and maintain a democracy under intense pressure is frequently ignored by its detractors, including those in the human rights movement itself.  The most graphic example of this came last September in Durban [the U.N. Conference on Racism] when Azmi Bishara of the Knesset’s Balad party, led a group of marchers carrying placards declaring Israel to be an apartheid state.  As an elected Arab member of the Knesset, however, Bishara is living proof of the antithesis of his followers’ claim.


    And this, on May 10, after Mr. Morgan had returned from a Canadian lawyers’ mission to Israel and the West Bank:


   In recent years, and with increased intensity in recent weeks, the Israeli Supreme Court has gone where virtually no court has gone before.  A collection of Jewish and Arab human rights organizations—the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, its Palestinian equivalent Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights and the broadly respected B’tselem human rights organization—have succeeded in engaging the Supreme Court in issues that most judicial bodies would shy away from.  Starting in the 1980s, it has endorsed rights for gay spouses, gender equality in a large number of social contexts, anti-discrimination in housing for Arab Israelis, the rights of national security detainees to procedural safeguards and due process, the right of prisoners not to be subjected to physical abuse or torture, the right of long term residents not to be deported and an assortment of rights for religious minorities and non-Orthodox Jews.   

    One noteworthy case resulted in an agreement between the Israel Defense Forces and Adalah, allowing representatives of the International Red Cross to accompany army teams in evacuating Palestinian wounded and killed to local hospitals.  The compromise struck a balance between, on one hand, the security concerns resulting from several well documented cases of terrorists hiding in ambulances and, on the other hand, the self-evident need to provide medical relief during the heat of battle. 

    Indeed, the Israeli judicial activism has an interestingly paradoxical quality: it provides an accessible and objective forum for rights enforcement against the government and provides the government with its best line of defence against the subjective and hostile interventions from abroad.


    Obviously, I disagree with “rights for gay spouses” and I would have to see an itemized list of “social contexts” for “gender equality” (I am very much in favour of women who are convicted of crimes serving the same sentences that men convicted of those crimes serve, as an example: something which is not apt to happen anytime soon) before saying “yay” or “nay”.  Again, trying not to pre-empt my own concluding remarks, I believe that the “gay spouses” and “gender equality” nonsense will infect all of the non-Muslim world—at least in a legalistic sense—before non-Muslim society gets around to addressing the actual implications.  Leaping before you look has always been the feminist way. 

    But we were discussing the use of the “Jesus Card” by Yasser Arafat and the PA. Regarding the Israeli military operation in Jenin,  Shimon Peres (uncharacteristically for Israel’s super-dove) heaped scorn on the Palestinian claims of a massacre.


    The story began with the so-called fact that 3,000 Palestinian civilians lost their lives.  But now Palestinians are saying it is down to several hundred.  To the best of our knowledge, seven civilian persons lost their lives in Jenin. 


    In his own examination of this ridiculous inflation of casualty figures, Charles Krauthammer (“All this fuss for a phantom massacre”) cited the suicide bombings of the previous month in Jerusalem, Yagor, Haifa, Eilon Moreh and Netanya (total of 61 casualities, all civilians) and found himself, once more, driven to the use of italics:  “These are massacres—actual, recent massacres.  Massacres for which the evidence is hard.  Massacres for which the perpetrators claimed credit.  Where was the Security Council?  Where was the Kofi Annan commission?  Where was the world?”

     Yes, exactly.  Claimed. Credit.  Not “accepted blame.”  Claimed. Credit. Addressing all of the secular left-liberal, quasi-socialists in the crowd: Just for a change, just this once, how about not treating those questions as rhetorical?  Where was the Security Council?  Where was the Kofi Annan commission?  Where was the world?  Still insist on seeing the two sides as co-equivalent?

    Contrast the documented instances of Israel’s Supreme Court seeking to protect human rights in that country with this eyewitness account filed from Hebron by Steward Bell under the headline, “‘Informants’ Meet Death on Peace St.” (National Post, April 24):


     Down the road, the bloodied bodies of three Palestinians, accused of helping Israel were displayed for all to see in front of the Al-Ansaar Mosque—two of them strung by their feet from metal electrical towers and a third left lying on his back on Peace Street.  

    Hundreds of people rushed to the centre of this biblical town on horseback, in cars and by foot to see the latest victims and to spit on the bodies.  Children, women and men gathered around the hanging corpses, smiling and laughing. 

    Yesterday’s lynchings were said to be retribution for the death hours earlier of Marvan Zalum, the 43-year-old leader of the Tanzim militia in Hebron.

    By morning, local Tanzim members had rounded up three men they accused of helping the Israelis pinpoint Mr. Zalum’s location.  They were brought out on to Peace Street in front of the mosque minaret, given a hasty “trial” and pronounced guilty. 

    The men were lined up in front of Mr. Zalum’s car and shot in the head.  Their bodies were then mutilated by a crowd that mobbed the downtown street to seek revenge for the death of Mr.Zalum.

    Colonel Miri Eisin, a senior intelligence officer in the Israel Defence Forces, said she did not know whether the men were informants, but noted that while the Palestinian Authority has been unable to arrest many militants on a list sought by Israel, those deemed collaborators are quickly caught and punished.


   The more I’ve considered the situation, the more I have come to believe that the problem with secular left-liberal, quasi-socialist “thinking” in the Western Democracies is that it takes democracy for granted.  In fact, it takes democracy for granted to such an extent that it sees the underpinnings of democracy, the protection of human rights, the rule of law, as merely one option among (many? several?):  “democracy” and “not democracy” as an honest difference of opinion.  Some people want to petition a civilized Supreme Court with a grievance through prescribed channels and use the basis of centuries of jurisprudence and legal precedence to arrive at a logical conclusion.  And some people want to drag people out in the street, have a show trial on the spot and shoot them in the head.  Seeing the latter as a less suitable way to conduct a society, frowning on that, let alone trying to eliminate it, is (seemingly) viewed by the secular left-liberal, quasi-socialists as culturally insensitive.  Or something.

    I do believe in summary execution for those engaged in targeting civilian populations.  It is for that reason that, while I believe firmly in the rule of law, that belief does not extend to those who, themselves, order the execution of non-military personnel.  Military personnel, that’s a different matter.  Take this example from earlier this year:


The gunman who attacked yesterday, armed with a bolt-action rifle of Second World War-vintage, was hidden in trees overlooking the checkpoint near Ofra, home to 2,500 Jewish settlers.  Using only 25 cartridges, he shot dead three soliders, one by one.  When a paramedic and an officer arrived, he shot them too, as well as two settlers waiting in their cars.  A vehicle arrived with the settlement’s head of security, and the gunman shot dead two more soldiers and mortally wounded a third.  A helicopter tried to locate him, but he fled, abandoning his weapon.


    In terms of “armed resistance,” which is a right the Palestinian Authority has been claiming for itself, well, yes, sure.  Shooting the soldiers seems legitimate to me if you sincerely believe that they are occupying your land illegally.  But a paramedic?  Or the two settlers waiting in their cars?  No, that’s simply beyond the pale.  Let’s say that the IDF actually caught the guy.  Instead of dropping his rifle, he ran with it, they see him run with it and they pursue him.  If he hadn’t shot the paramedic or the settlers, I would say the IDF was obligated to try and capture him, wounding him if that’s what it takes to bring him down, but making a sincere effort to bring him in alive.  Because he wasn’t wearing a uniform, he wouldn’t qualify for Geneva Convention protections, but civilized behaviour would dictate, to me, imprisonment.  However, having shot the paramedic and the two settlers to death, to me, the guy forfeited his right to keep breathing.  It would be perfectly legitimate, to me, having brought him down to put a bullet in his brain.  Anyone who is pretending to be part of an “armed resistance” and shoots a paramedic is basically a mad dog and should be treated as such.  This is why I recommend taking Arafat out in the woods and shooting him.  He isn’t a soldier or a freedom fighter, to me, he is a mad dog.  He targeted civilians: most particularly the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics and the diplomats in Sudan.  He has forfeited his right to keep breathing.  Likewise with those who work in the bomb factories in the West Bank, those who plan the suicide bombings and those who assist the suicide bombers.  If they were blowing up Israeli tanks or barracks or military installations, I would say, fine, good luck to you.  But the fact that they are blowing up civilians, the fact that their sole intention is to blow up civilians means that everyone involved has forfeited their right to keep breathing.  Likewise with the World Trade Center.  The World Trade Center was not a valid military target.  The twin towers were a civilian target.  By targeting the twin towers, you have forfeited your right to keep breathing.  Fact of life:  As an al-Qaeda or Taliban member who has fallen into the hands of the American authorities,  you are going to live out the rest of your days in a cage on Guantanamo Bay.  To me, you should count this as an undeserved blessing, having forfeited your right to keep breathing.  The attack on the Pentagon?  Just considering the Pentagon itself, I would have to say that that was legit.  That was a military target.  THE military target if it comes to that.  A lot of civilians work at the Pentagon but I think that comes under the heading of “at your own risk”.  If you are a civilian and you work in a facility that is primarily staffed by military personnel, your death as the result of an attack would have to qualify as “collateral damage”.  Of course, the fact that the attack took place with an airliner full of civilians takes it completely over to the other side of the equation.  Any individual or organization that had even a tangential role in high-jacking the airliner and crashing it so that all the civilians on board were killed, in my view, has forfeited the right to keep breathing. 

    It is also worth noting, I think, that in the only instance that I am aware of in the course of the Intifada which has been going on since September of 2000, the only instance where Israeli civilians have targeted Palestinian civilians—a nutbar group calling itself “Revenge for the Infants” planted several bombs in an Arab elementary school injuring a teacher and three students—the Jerusalem police set up a special investigation team along with the domestic security service, Shin Bet.  The inquiry would be conducted “with the same diligence as if it was an anti-Israeli attack,” according to Mickey Levy, the Jerusalem police chief.  Just a few weeks ago members of the outlawed Jewish Kach movement were arrested for planning a similar bomb attack.  I don’t want to convey the impression that I think that Israel is Disneyland with a national flag or anything.  The Agence France-Press report on the arrests quoted Motti Karpel, spokesman for families of the suspects from the Bat Ayin settlement south of Bethlehem, as saying, “There is no real evidence against them.  After two weeks of interrogation in Shin Bet cellars without having seen a lawyer, anyone would admit to anything, even murdering Jesus.”  It could be a legitimate quote, but it also looks like it could be the work of those wacky anti-Semites, the French.

    The settlements are a huge problem.  According to the same article


The Jewish settlement population has doubled to 380,000 since the 1993 Oslo accord established the Palestinian Authority, Israeli rights groups say.  Helped by lucrative government incentives, it grew nearly 4% last year even as Palestinian-Israeli violence raged.     


     The settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, it seems to me, constitute the closest approach of the Israelis to fundamental incoherence when coupled with their continued negotiation over the “disputed territories”.  If you intend to give someone a plot of land, you don’t tell him you’ll give him the land and then build yourself a house on it.  What it looks like to me is an attempt on the part of the Israelis to tie their own hands in negotiations over the West Bank and Gaza, to allow them to negotiate a turnover of all or part of the disputed territories while making the actual implementation of such a turnover severely problematical.  At the same time, driving the Arabs back into Jordan with suburbs (“Back! BACK!”) has about as much chance of success as the Arabs have of driving the Israelis into the Mediterranean by blowing themselves up next to them.  It seems to me that when the time comes—and I believe the time is coming sooner rather than later—the Israelis will have to adopt the approach taken with the Blue Line in Lebanon.  That is, some other entity, whether the United States or the UN will have to be the ones to draw the line and say, “level everything on this side of the line.”  And will possibly have to volunteer for the onerous task of ejecting the settlers and bulldozing the actual buildings into the ground.  This situation might be eased, somewhat, if the proposal to build a huge security fence in the West Bank gains momentum in Israel (which I hope it will).  The extremists among the Israeli settlers (or is that redundant?) will be more likely, I think, to surrender their homes to create a buffer zone and build a security fence than they will be to handing their homes over to the Arabs.

    That the “Palestinians” have retreated to the repeated use of the “Jesus Card” as a “court of last resort” in their dealings with the Jews—essentially endeavouring to make of themselves a pseudo-nation of Martyrs and to thus render their circumstance analogous in the Christian mind to that of the founder of the elder religion (‘Them lousy Jews, they’re picking on the Palestinians the same way they picked on Jesus!”) seems to me irrefutable.  The underlying motivation of their strange choice of tactic (and I think everyone would have to admit that it’s a strange choice of tactic), I think can be attributed to a “paper/rock/scissors” game of “musical chairs” (a conscious mixing of metaphors).  I believe that the Arab/Muslim mind, now firmly wedded to its Koreish manifestation, views the UN’s creation of the State of Israel as analogous to the hejira of Muhammad and his followers to Medina, that is, as a sneaky Jewish misappropriation of the successful Muslim tactic of 622 of departing Mecca and taking up residence in Medina.  A very, very, very successful tactic, as it turned out.  In Mecca, Muhammad and his Muslims had always been an annoying, but (for the most part) easily dealt with marginal minority.  A description which matches that of the Jews’ situation in the Diaspora in Arab/Muslim lands.  They were annoying, but they were an easily dealt with minority population.  Once they were restored to Jerusalem, however: once the UN had officially declared the former territory of “Palestine” to be the State of Israel—just as Muhammad had officially founded the Nation of God in Medina—they were both more annoying and what was infinitely worse, from a Koreish vantage-point (in both instances), they were no longer easily dealt with.  In fact, each effort to deal with them led to failure, diminishing the Koreish even as it strengthened their quarry.  What, I believe, truly terrifies the Koreish-like despots and dictators of the Arab League is that at some point Israel is going to “break forth”—just as Muhammad and the Muslims did—and basically steam-roll right over the entire Arab Penninsula—just as Muhammad and the Muslims did—without even breaking a sweat—just as Muhammad and the Muslims didn’t.  And I think, at a vital, central level of the Arab Muslim awareness, they know that there is absolutely nothing that they can do about it, just as there was nothing the original Koreish could do about Muhammad and the Muslims.  Once they were in Medina, the end was inevitable.  Consequently, I think, at a vital, central level of the Arab Muslim awareness— desperate for some kind of a saving solution—they asked themselves, What can stop the Jews?  And the answer they came up with was Jesus: or, more specifically, martyrdom.  Historically, I think they’re right.  The only thing that has ever stopped the Jews (apart from their own stupid insistence on having an earthly king, instead of relying on God’s prophets and messengers) was Jesus.  This is the reason that I think only a permanent border in the form of a Berlin Wall-style security fence and the dismantling of a certain number of the settlements is the only thing that is going to (even marginally) put the Koreish-minds of the Arab despots at rest.  It has to be demonstrated that Israel has no intention, now or in the future, of “breaking forth” and steam-rolling over the Arab-Muslim lands.  The settlements in the West Bank and Gaza constitute “breaking forth”.  Granted, “breaking forth” in very, very slow motion, but “breaking forth” nonetheless.   

     Okay.  Back to Islam.   

      In my view, the news is not all bad when it comes to Islam, although its negative aspects can’t—and shouldn’t—be overlooked, most particularly the seemingly insurmountable problem of the exporting of Wahabite Islam into the modern, secular world.  Robert Fulford had an interesting column for 4 May (“An Imam dares to say what Islam should be”) with some observations from Sheikh Abdul Hadi Palazzi, an imam who serves as secretary general of the Italian Muslim Association in Rome:


Islamic countries were not always oppressive.  In fact, Islam came early to the idea of freedom, earlier than Christianity.  Three centuries ago, many Jews considered Islamic societies safe havens.  Bernard Lewis, the great historian, wrote recently that Islamic countries in the Middle Ages “achieved a freedom of thought and expression that led persecuted Jews and even dissident Christians to flee Christendom for refuge in Islam.” 


The world judges Israel harshly, he says, and the world is dead wrong: “The right of self-defence is permitted to every country in the world except Israel.”  He thinks Israel deserves to exist, that the Koran mandates Jewish control of Jerusalem (so long as Islamic holy sites are respected), that peace will not come until the PLO is dismantled (“supporting the PLO is supporting massacres”), and that Yasser Arafat is a gangster.  Why, Sheikh Palazzi asks, was the world not delighted when the Israelis pinned him down in his headquarters?  In the Sheikh’s view, people should have said: “Thank God Arafat is imprisoned.  Now let us try him for 40 years of terrorism.”


With the help of the British Empire, Ibn Saud rebuilt his ancestral domain and named it Saudi Arabia, with Wahhabism as its way of religious life.  As Sheikh Palazzi has put it, “The Wahhabis first conquered the holy cities of Mecca and Medina, transforming these two sanctuaries into places for propagating a primitive and literalist cult to Muslims coming from every part of the world.” 


For reasons Sheikh Palazzi cannot fathom, the world has decided not to think much about the fact that the Sept. 11 terrorists were mostly Saudis.  In his view, “It is as if people said Japan had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor.  Imagine how the Saudi princes feel.  They say to themselves, ‘We kill thousands of Americans and now they welcome us as men of peace.


“Many of us are now ready to admit that hostility for Israel has been a great mistake, perhaps the worst mistake Muslims have made in the last 50 years.”


    Amir Taheri is another Muslim, an Iranian author and journalist and editor of the Paris-based Politque Internationale, who wrestles publicly with many of the conflicts within Islam and within the Arab world:


    The oil bonanza of the 1980s helped create a middle class that promptly dispatched its children to study in American schools and universities.  Saudis with some American education now number almost 200,000 in a native population of less than 15 million. 


Many of the 126 Saudi intellectuals who issued a virulent anti-U.S. petition recently are either American-educated and/or have children attending U.S. schools.  “We are like a touring theatrical troupe,” says a Saudi female writer.  “Half of the year we are acting as pure Arabs, veil and all, in our country.  The other half we put on Western clothes and act the normal part in Europe or America.”


     This last excerpt is perhaps more self-revelatory than the Saudi female writer intended (I’m assuming that she is one of the 126 Saudi intellectuals cited).  Note particularly her characterization of putting on the veil as “acting as pure Arabs” as contrasted with putting on Western clothes to “act the normal part in Europe or America” (italics mine).  Even as a dissident, as an anti-American, she recognizes that Western dress is more normal than Arab attire.  Her studious (dare I say it?) secular left-liberal, quasi-socialist female nature still tilts towards the West once she has been exposed to it, despite her best efforts to portray the scrupulous (and, I would maintain, artificial) even-handedness that is the hallmark of left-liberal, quasi-socialism.  This exposure to the West, through television, movies, the internet, and all other forms of popular culture, in my view, is the Cultural Trojan Horse which proves the undoing of all other cultures it has come into contact with.  In fact, in my view, Islam is only the latest worldwide recipient/victim of this Trojan Horse effect.  The last one was communism, which effectively ceased to exist once it had contracted the virus.  Before that it was Europe.  Europe hated it. The communists hated it.  The Muslims hate it.  Doesn’t matter it you hate it.  Once you’ve got it, you are effectively done for.  You can sign all the virulent anti-American petitions you want, you will still scramble to see the latest American film, to buy the latest American pop culture junk.  And if you won’t, your kids will, just to piss you off.  And if your kids won’t the odds are that they will be the only “weirdo’s” among their peers who won’t.  I have found that Western feminist outrage at the burqa quickly subsides when you ask what they would suggest Orthodox Muslim women should wear instead.  Mini-skirts?  Guess jeans?  Thongs?  In an earlier piece  (“Solutions to Islam’s crisis lies within”) Mr. Taheri, to me, touches on the effects of this Trojan Horse juggernaut with a litany of woeful statistics about the Muslim world:  while Muslims account for almost a quarter of mankind, their share of the global wealth is less than 6%.  Nearly two-thirds of the world’s poorest, those who live on under $2 a day, are Muslim, while not a single Muslim country figures among the world’s 30 richest nations.  Of the 5,000 world-class brand products, not one is produced in a Muslim country.  Iran’s President Khatami laments the brain drain that is forcing 1.2 million highly educated Muslims to immigrate to Europe, North America and other “Christian” lands such as Australia and New Zealand each year.  (Again, it is only a Muslim who could describe Australia and New Zealand as “Christian” countries and keep a straight face:  something I don’t imagine any Aussie or New Zealander could manage without sneering)

     What is interesting to me is the extent to which this “frames the debate in the aggressor’s terms” (to borrow a phrase from earlier in this essay).  All of these statistics center on materialism as the be-all and end-all or, at the very least, as a central consideration in measuring success and failure.  It’s hard for me to picture that, if the Prophet Muhammad were alive today, he would find any of these statistics troubling.  Nor are there any suras in the Koran to support the view that one of our primary purposes in passing our brief, dream-like existence in this vale of tears which the Koran calls “the farmland of the hereafter” is to come up with a world-class brand product or to find away to suck up more than 6% of the world’s wealth.  In fact, the Koran is at great pains to remind us repeatedly that our wealth and our children are a trial for us, a temptation that can seduce the unwary away from the path of God. 


…many of the intellectuals who have joined the “dirty linen” exercise, end their discourse with the assertion that “we have not been good Muslims.”  Their solution is to apply “true Islam.”  Each, of course, has his own definition of what a “good Muslim” is and what “true Islam” looks like.  Some have come out with citations from the Holy Book and, by doing so, have defined themselves rather than the problems discussed. 

    The result is a new form of obfuscation designed to theologize political problems and, thus, avoid the core issue that is the absence of democracy and the rule of law in most Muslim countries. 

    Muslims need the exact opposite method of dealing with their problems: They need to de-theologize their politics and recognize the concept of the political as an independent category.


    That is, the separation of church and state.  I think this is inescapable if you consider material prosperity to be a vital component of a successful society, a first priority.  I think what escapes Mr. Taheri is that material prosperity has never been a centerpiece of Muslim life.  From a Muslim standpoint, the fact that most of the world’s Muslim population lives in a state of poverty is, inherently, a good thing.  Fewer temptations, less corruption, individually and collectively.  Arguably, the despotic, wealth-encrusted dictators in their palaces, from a Muslim standpoint, are “taking one for the team”.  Unlike the corrupted “Christian” countries, where materialism and decadence (in Orthodox Muslim terms) exist in virtually every household as a society-wide infection that spares so few and that is resisted by only the merest handful of citizens, in the Muslim lands, it is materialism, decadence and corruption which are confined to the merest handful of citizens, the dictator, his cronies, and their families.  There are extremes involved, of course.  Mr. Taheri asks why it is that Algeria—which has energy export revenues of $20 billion a year—can’t provide drinking water for its capital.  The issue, it seems to me, is one of how far—and for what reason—a Muslim nation will allow technical innovation, materialism and corruption to intrude within it.  On an individual basis, everyone is confronted with these compound dilemmas (whether they acknowledge it or not).  Anyone who owns a computer has to decide if he or she is going to get hooked up to the internet, if they are going to allow the internet access to their private residence.  If yes, they then confront the question of how much of their time they are going to allow the internet to occupy.  As with any other potent societal force it can come as a complete surprise that an “internet addiction” does not remain within the confines one intends.  The decision is made to sit down for an hour and four hours go by without any awareness on the part of the decision-maker.  When the societal force in question is alcohol, that sort of “loss of control’ is called (rightly, in my view) alcoholism. 

    [For men, internet access also implies granting porno sites access to your residence, which implies the question of whether you will or won’t allow yourself to “visit” them, how often you’ll allow yourself to “visit” them, which ones you will allow yourself to “visit,” how much money you’ll allow yourself to spend on them.  If you intend most of the time not to “visit” porno sites (but do), intend to “visit” only softcore sites (but “visit” hardcore sites, s&m sites, kiddie porn sites, bestiality and other perversion sites), intend to limit your visits to an hour (but often put in three hours or more), intend to spend only a few dollars (and end up spending hundreds) to me, again, this is analogous to alcoholism.  In terms of porno sites being a potent societal force—the billions upon billions of dollars of revenue which they generate is proof of that—I think it far more accurate to say that the porno sites “visit” men, not the other way around.  And those porno sites visit you only at your invitation].

     In my own life, I chose to get rid of my television, my CD player and my CD’s, my tape deck, my tuner, my VCR and my videotapes.  In my own view, relative to myself, I saw them as being in the “alcohol and gambling” category as described in the Koran.  They had their benefits, which I could happily enumerate and use to rationalize hanging onto them and they had their drawbacks which, to me, inescapably outweighed their benefits.  I could have hung onto all of them.  I also could have bought a DVD player and 800 DVD’s, a computer, a modem and gotten hooked up to the Internet to add to the pile of techno-crap I already had.  I could also have started smoking again.  I could also have gone back to hitting the bars four or five nights out of the week instead of just on Friday.  Instead, I chose to go the other way, getting things out of my life instead of trying to find more things to graft onto it. 

     I never once considered getting rid of my toilet, however.  Nor did I consider for a moment living without electricity. 

     In a nutshell, I think this is the problem which is facing the Muslim nations.  In one of the earliest dispatches “on the ground” from Kandahar, a reporter outlined the problems involved in finding Internet access to file his reports and described being led by one of the natives down various alleyways and up and down stairways until they came to a large room filled with computer terminals, a completely underground, completely illicit operation—reportedly the only place in Afghanistan with access to the Internet from which he could e-mail his report to his newspaper.   According to his article, before each computer terminal sat an Afghani in approved Muslim garb, with an untrimmed beard as required by the Taliban’s interpretation of schariat law, scrolling through porno sites. 

    Is it possible to pick and choose?  Can a Muslim country use its oil wealth to develop a reliable source of electrical power for its populace, provide its populace with indoor plumbing , clean hot and cold running water, modern sanitation facilities, good roads, modest housing and a flourishing marketplace for fresh produce at affordable prices?  And then stop there?  Or do you really, really have to have Julia Roberts, AC/DC, Star Wars, ‘n’ Sync, Ally McBeal, ‘Slutty Co-Eds Strip 4 U” and all the rest of it along for the ride? 

     As I said earlier in this series, I think democracy is favoured by God over theocracy for the exact reason that it represents the institutionalizing of “free will” as a centerpiece of human existence.  The whole point of democracy is to guarantee that everyone gets to choose exactly what they want to do, what they want to think, how they want to live, what they will allow themselves to do and what they won’t allow themselves to do—whether that’s drinking too much, eating too much, watching fifty uninterrupted hours of The Beverly Hillbillies on a cable channel over a holiday weekend or losing their children’s trust funds playing blackjack in Vegas.  For many (if not most) this also involves choosing which laws they will allow themselves to break—by smoking marijuana, drinking and driving, cheating on their taxes, using prostitutes.  The word of the angel spoken to the shepherds in Luke’s Gospel, in announcing Jesus’ birth  (you remember, A Charlie Brown Christmas?), “Peace on earth, good will to all men.”  This, to me, is God’s declaration of intent to us both individually, as human beings, and collectively, as society.  We all have free will, we are all free to make our choices.  What God wishes for us is that we make of our free will, good will.  That we make not only free choices, but good choices.   By the grace of God, I am free to choose to drink a 26er of vodka tonight.  Drinking it constitutes an act of free will.  Not drinking it constitutes an act of good will.  The failing that I see in Islam is that—in those countries which impose shariat law on the entire population, that vital component of choice is removed.  To me, it is a central consideration of the on-going debate between good (God’s viewpoint) and evil (God’s adversary’s viewpoint) that the former holds that human beings are “all or mostly good” and the latter holds that human beings are “all or mostIy evil”.  In a real sense, those societies which impose the strictest rules on their citizenry,  and who use the most Draconian methods to enforce those rules (totalitarian governments, both fascistic and communist, Wahabite Muslim societies) in a very real sense, are arguing the “evil” side of the debate, not just “playing” but literally being devil’s advocate.  It is a centrepiece of the jurisprudence of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as an example, that religious police are a necessity and that they need to be given a free hand in policing the religious habits of the populace—literally dragging people out of their homes and to the mosques for the mandated salat, prayers.  Like God’s adversary, they believe that without strict rules and without the strict enforcement of those strict rules men will choose to do evil every time.  God’s view (I believe) is exactly the opposite.  Very few rules, very few guidelines.  “Thou shalt not kill,” “thou shalt not steal.”  Even in the Koran, in those verses which address gambling and alcohol, the revelation is limited to “they have benefits and they have drawbacks.  The drawbacks outweigh the benefits.”  I don’t think God intends for gambling and alcohol to be illegal.  In fact, I think alcohol exists for the exact reason that it represents so much that we don’t understand about ourselves.  If I did buy that 26er of vodka and took it home and just popped it open and chugged it down.  No mix, no glass, no ice cubes.   Just glug glug glug.  I’d get alcohol poisoning.  The odds are that I would die.  That’s just one bottle.  There are a dozen liquor stores in this town.  Each one with hundreds and hundreds of bottles of pure or virtually pure alcohol.  All of it perfectly legal.  I can walk into any one of them any minute of any day and buy enough alcohol to kill myself.  And no one would bat an eye.  I’ve known two guys who—literally—drank themselves to death.  Not figuratively, not metaphorically.  Literally.  If you live in a society where you are allowed to do that—as everyone reading this does—then you know something about yourself that a person in a Wahabite Muslim society doesn’t know about him or herself.  That is: “I wouldn’t do that.  I’m not that stupid.”   You don’t have to threaten me with a flogging, I know, alcohol is dangerous stuff.  But, then, many of us overdo it from time to time—and that gives us a self-knowledge that you don’t have in a Wahabite Muslim society:  alcohol is dangerous at many different levels and in many different ways.  I don’t know those levels and ways as well as I thought I did.  I don’t know myself as well as I thought I did.  I can intend good will (I’ll just have a couple of beers) and end up succumbing to bad will (what do you mean, “Last call”?).  The road to hell is actually paved with bad intentions that started out as good intentions and then were changed through the conscious decisions, the conscious exercise of free-will decisions, by each individual.  I believe God’s view is that overall we are getting better.  The average human being in the 21st century is a better human being than the average human being in, say, the 12th century.  Not just in terms of health, nutrition, income and living standards but in the debate between good and evil, where those are largely irrelevant (there are a lot of healthy, well-fed, rich, evil people living in mansions).  Contrast the reaction to Pearl Harbour—the unconscionable, unlawful, but at the time almost universally approved of internment of Japanese-American citizens—with the reaction to the bombing of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon—the internment of those Arabs and Arab-American citizens linked to radical Islamic terrorist groups, an infinitismal fraction of the Arab population and the Arab-American population.  Painstaking efforts made to maintain the safety and security of the majority while guaranteeing the inalienable rights of virtually every individual. God has every confidence in us.  We make mistakes, sure. We’re human.  The indiscriminate internment of Japanese-Americans was evil, but it was an evil which was an honest mistake.  We learned.  When the time came, the mistake was not repeated.  This, I think, is the answer to the plaintive cry of the agnostic, the atheist and the disappointed deist:  “if God is good, how can he allow so much evil to exist?”  God is good.  If He were to interfere monumentally in human affairs—sending a legion of Angels, as an example, to steamroll the Nazis as they swept into Poland in September of 1939—he would be conceding his adversary’s point: human beings need outside help because they are intrinsically evil, if God doesn’t interfere they will destroy everyone and everything around them, and ultimately themselves.  There was a lot of evil unleashed upon the European continent from 1939 to 1945.  In human terms, an unimaginable level of human suffering: in London during the Blitz, in Stalingrad during the seige, during the fire-bombing of Dresden, in the death camps, on the Bataan Death March, in Hiroshima and in Nagasaki.  All of it unleashed as a consequence of individual human choices, the exercise of free will by Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, Hermann Goering, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Irwin Rommel, Eisenhower, Adolf Eichman, Oppenheimer, Einstein, Mussolini.  God, in his omniscience, knew exactly what role each of those individuals was likely to play and knew the likelihood of the consequences of each decision which led to each subsequent decision.  God Knew that the Physics problems Albert Einstein was whittling away at in the 1920s would in all probability lead to the bombing of a major Japanese city in the 1940s.  But He also knew that—despite the monstrous toll in human suffering that would take place as a result of all those cumulative human choices—that the Second World War would only be, roughly, six years long (four years in American dollars. Nyuck nyuck nyuck).  Which compares quite favourably with the Hundred Years War fought between England and France from 1337 to 1453.  We make mistakes.  We are human.  We are not God.  But we learn, and we improve.  Six years of war is better than a hundred years of war.  The invention of the atomic bomb and its use against the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was, I believe, a critical moment in the debate between good and evil, the on-going debate between God and his adversary.  An even more critical moment came when the Soviet Union successfully tested its own thermonuclear device in 1953.  At that point, with the Promethean Myth writ large in crimson letters, from the standpoint of God’s adversary, it was inevitable that God would have to interfere in human affairs.  If He doesn’t they will blow each other to bits.  The appropriateness of the acronym MAD applies here: Mutually Assured Destruction, the central fact of life on planet earth from 1953 to 1989.  Almost forty years.  And yet God won his point with the Cuban Missile Crisis in October of 1962.  Right to the very brink of thermonuclear war and STILL, still no interference from God.  And the Soviet ships turned around.  Even a wholly Godless State backed down from the precipice of evil.  God won his point.  Human beings are not MAD and we are not evil.  We are good.  God knows.  God made us that way.  We make mistakes.  We’re human.  But we learn from those mistakes.  And, overall, we’re getting better all the time. Americans (as an example) can have a hundred, five hundred, a thousand, two thousand, five thousand missiles with thermonuclear warheads pointed at their most hated adversary.  And they can’t push the button.  Why?  Because they’re good.  Nothing, I don’t believe, would ever again compel the only nation to launch a nuclear strike in anger to repeat that action.  Why?  Because they’re good.  Nothing would ever again compel them to intern an entire population based solely on race.  Why?  Because they’re good.  This is God’s thesis, I believe.  The only way to prove its veracity is for God to not interfere, to send prophets and messengers delivering the same basic message—and then to stop sending them and to allow all the ensuing generations from 632 A.D. to Judgement Day to work everything out, working to understand free will, working to enshrine it in the rule of law, to progressively limit those actions which can be taken by any individual or by the state against any other individual or group’s expression of free will and, by painful progressions of three-steps-forward-two-steps-back—progress that in some centuries can be measured in inches and in some decades can be measured in miles—to allow us all to make our own free will choices and to—individually and collectively—make good will choices.  To make our own mistakes, individually and collectively, to suffer the consequences of those mistakes, to pick ourselves up in the aftermath of our individual and collective mistakes, to dust ourselves off and to, individually and collectively, continue our forward march of progress. 

    It seems to me that what unites the great democracies (those “nations formerly known as Christendom”) is a fundamental belief in using the instruments of government and society to protect by law and—if necessary—by force of arms the expression of free will choices.  In any of the great democracies, any Muslim who wants to pretend that he is living in Medina in the seventh century is free to do so.  Up to a point.  If he catches his wife cheating on him, he can’t, with impunity, stone her to death—nor can he have his neighbour publicly whipped for drinking a beer or buying a lottery ticket.  The great democracies are historically tolerant with those things taking place in a Muslim country.  For a country’s population to accept some oil sheik’s interpretation and imposition upon them of his own interpretation of shariat law (and there are as many interpretations of shariat law as there are Muslim states) is both their individual and collective free-will choice.  It is only when Wahabism or any of its variants begin to spread outside of a Muslim country and within a great democracies—violating the free-will choices of others by flying them into the side of the World Trade Centre or blowing babies into so much ground beef because their mother picked the wrong outdoor market in the Jaffa Road to do some window-shopping—that force must needs be met with force.  For force to sustain itself to the degree necessary for the great democracies to prevail requires, I believe, an unshakeable conviction that it is right to defend democracy against assaults upon it, an unshakeable conviction that the difference between 11 September and the latest suicide bombing in the “disputed territories” is one of degree only and (the central consideration) an unshakeable conviction that—while “might” does not necessarily “make right,” “might” is not, by implicit definition, “wrong” (the bedrock belief of those whose reaction to a crisis is to stand there with their mouths agape and tears streaming down their cheeks).  Eradicating fascism was a very good idea and was accomplished in no small part through the exertion of superior “might”.  Those forms of Wahabism which are not content to confine themselves to advocacy by all ancient and modern forms of communication but which seek to kill innocent people in the name of Wahabism, it seems to me, are well worth eradicating.  Whether the great democracies are capable of maintaining that degree of conviction necessary for the arduous task of ridding the world of terrorist Wahabism (or whether a quorum of their citizens is even capable of using a term like “great democracy” without getting a left-liberal, quasi-socialist sneer on their faces) will be the subject of the concluding instalment of “Islam, My Islam”.