Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Defending Muslims’ civil rights, between Switzerland and Kfar-Yasuf.

These days Israel is at war, declared on it by people speaking in the name of Islam. This while very few people or any, who also speak in the name of that religion, stand up against them.

This does not mean that every Muslim is an enemy of Israel, or at war with it. Or, that I, as a Jew, an Israeli and a Zionist, should stand aside when the rights of Muslims are violated. It does mean I should be careful, because there is a dilemma here, and it is not a simple one.

Championing the civil rights and human rights of strangers and enemies is elementary survival for everyone. If someone else’s fundamental rights are violated, and we stand by the sidelines, uninvolved, sooner or later one of us will be violated the same way. It’s maybe an old liberal cliché, but it is still correct and accurate, and the recent event in Moldova demonstrates that to the letter.

But what if the ones whose rights we are defending are hell-bent on violating our civil rights and human rights?

The fact of the matter is, that whenever Arab or Islamist terrorists violate the human rights of Israelis, when they are attacking Israeli civilians, acts that are war crimes and crimes against humanity, Muslims communities in the west support those crimes in droves.

For Israelis like myself it is an “either way we lose” situation. Added to it is the well-known fact that the biggest oppressors of Muslims in the world today are Muslim rulers, yet no major Muslim community in the west had ever went against them.

Which means that if we want to improve the human rights of Muslims on universal level and out of a universal concern, as a part of an effort to make the whole world a better place, our efforts will be useless, because we cannot improve the human rights of Muslims without Muslims taking major part in such an effort. Indeed the commitment to human rights cannot be sporadic or conditional; it needs to be complete, separated from politics and ideology. But that is precisely the case today, it had reach an absurd condition that for an Israeli to champion human rights becomes just as risky as abandoning it, and with it the effectiveness of campaigning fades.

A critic from the dogmatic left is likely to come to me and say I’m putting conditions behind my support on this issue, such critic will be right. I want this to work, and I want the rights of my people to be included. I’m not referring to the rights the settlers claim in face of the freeze imposed on them by the Israeli government, I am referring to the elementary rights for life and physical well being of my fellow Israelis in face of terrorism and the incitement that leads to it.

On the other hand, when it comes to the criminal and cowardly act of burning the mosque in Kfar - Yasuf by right wing extremists, there is no dilemma; this was a crime, a contemptible crime of hate - a hate crime!

No healthy society can tolerate hate crimes. By their definition they represent intolerance. Those who burned that mosque did it because they did not like its worshipers and their faith, not because they’ve done anything to them. The perpetrators call themselves ‘price tag’, demanding retribution from Palestinian civilians not over terrorism, which is also unjustified, but over an attempt to reach peace.

There is no question that the price the settlers are asked to pay in order to push the peace process forwards is heavy, both materialistically and emotionally, on a personal level as well as that of the community, and that while implementing something that contradicts their core convictions. Their resentment should not be ridiculed rather respected, but it does not justify violence, not against law enforcers, and certainly not against civilians and their property. The only threat to my own survival, and that of Israel, comes from the likes of those arsonists; their values are corrupt, their intolerance will not be preserved to non-Jews, but it will be delivered upon Jews they disapprove of, as it happened so many times in the recent past. Therefore I whole-heartedly hope that the police will do its job in the very best of ways, and find them with all the evidence needed to convict them and sentence to jail for the full length of time determine by the law.

Related link, from Ray Cook

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