Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Our Hearts He Broke: The Provocation of the Mosque

"Our hearts he broke, he burned the Torah,
burned the Torah,
Ash and smoke and crushed Menorah,
crushed Menorah.
Antiochus, Antiochus."
--Hayo, Haya

In the time of Hadrian, Emperor of Rome, the study and practice
of Torah were forbidden. The teachers of Israel said: "How survive
without the Tree of Life? Why live when the soul is dead?" And so
they taught and learned and in doing so, Israel's ten
martyrs were taken and doomed. . . Hanniniah ben Teriadon
was wrapped in a Scroll of the Law and placed on a pyre
of green brushwood and burned alive. As he was so burned,
he opened his mouth and cried: "I see! I see!"
His students asked: "Master, what do you see?" And he answered:
"I see the parchment burning while the letters of the Law soar upward . . ."

What we have here is a story of provocation and counter-provocation. They are not equal in weight.

The original provocation--the announcement that a mosque-cum-community center will be built at Ground Zero--is explosive. The site has become to Americans a sacred place. A place to which the entire people of the United States look to honor those who were murdered by fire on that day so awful that it instantly became known by its numbers: 9-11. Most of the bodies of the dead were never recovered, having been vaporized in the extreme heat of burning jet fuel, or pulverized into elements and compounds by the weight of the buildings coming down upon their heads. There is no cemetary to go to, no place where the mortal remains of the murdered have been laid to rest. There is only a hole in the ground and a reflecting pool at the place where they died. A place that is on some of the most expensive real estate in the civilized world. They are in some ineffable way there, where their lives were deliberately taken, in the name of Islam; and when we go there or hearken to them in our hearts that were broken that day, we are standing in that sacred space.

That those buildings, full of civilians who went there to work in the service of their own individual lives, goals and happiness, were attacked and destoyed in the name of Islam, is not in dispute. The men who planned the hijacking of the airplanes--and the murder of everyone on them as well--and the men who duly flew them into the Twin Towers, all did so in the name of jihad--holy war--a duty for all who have submitted to the god of Islam in the name of Mohammed, the Prophet of Islam. That there are those Moslems who do not accept such behavior in their own names is real enough, but very few of them have publically abjured the murder of the "infidel" in the name of jihad and in the name of Islam. And even if the vast majority of Muslims worldwide had stood up against the jihadists of that day, and even if they had not celebrated the murder of innocents from 'Arabia to Zanzibar', they would have so stood against these murders out of shame for what was done in the name of Islam,and in their own names.

It is simply unbelievable that Imam Faisel Rauf and his wife do not understand how absolutely inappropriate is the construction of a mosque anywhere near the sacred place where innocents were deliberately killed in the name of Islam. If this Imam is indeed a moderate Muslim who understands American culture, then he knows. And his wife knows, too.
It would be like erecting a shrine to German culture at Auschwitz. It is true that every German did not condone the actions of the German National Socialist Party, and nevertheless the murder of European Jews was done in their name. Most German individuals are not responsible for those murders, but nevertheless they have the sensitivity to understand the pain such a building would bring to the survivors and their families. They have manners. And of course, Germans the world over do not dance in the streets to cheer on the Nazis, nor do they regularly gather in large groups to shout "Death to the Jews." A majority of Muslims the world over have and do. And the Imam and his wife dwell in America and could stand to develop some sensitivity toward American values, manners and mores. That they refuse to do so casts great doubt upon their stated motives.

In a very real sense, Ground Zero represents to Americans the burning of sacred text. The sacred text that is written large upon the lives of ordinary Americans, who in going about their daily work were in that moment pursuing happiness. They were the living text of the American dream. And in the next moment, the jet fuel brought upon their heads by the jihadist hijackers turned them and the work of their hands into an auto-da-fe for Islam. When the buildings came down and the ashes poured through the streets of Manhattan, we all watched the sacred letters of their lives rise toward the heavens in the form of a myriad of papers wafting into the perfectly clear blue Tuesday morning sky.

The mosque at that sacred place, the place where the living texts of American lives were vaporized, crushed and burned, all in the name of Islam, is a very large provocation. It is made even larger by the habit Islamists have had for centuries, the habit of erecting their mosques on the crushed ruins of places of worship the world over; the ruins of the peoples that Islam has conquered by the sword.
It should stop here. It should stop now. If there is a moderate Islam--and we are waiting to see evidence of it in the actions of the supposed moderate Imam Rauf--then such triumphalism should end now. At Ground Zero, that sacred place.


Brianna said...

Thank you

Allen Cogbill said...

Well, you don't explicitly state this, but of course Imam Rauf is simply not a "moderate Muslim." It appears to me that there are actually very few such people, at least in the sense that most Americans have of moderation. In my view, most Americans regard a moderate Muslim as someone who would be appalled by the attacks of 9/11/2001. However, we haven't heard from many such people, at least publicly.

Personally, I think that the situation with Muslims and the terrorism directed against infidels bears more than a little similarity to the situation in the American South during Jim Crow times. Very few people were active members of the KKK, just as very few Muslims are active in the jihad. Strangely, though, I don't think anyone in the KKK who committed acts of terrorism against black people (and lynchings were just that, acts designed to terrorize the local black population, and keep them "in line") was ever proscuted by local authorities. Certainly none was successfully prosecuted. Some white southerners spoke out aganst the KKK, but really very few. The reason was because many white people in the South were happy with the situation, and others simpy didn't want to be denounced, which is what typically happened when they spoke out against the KKK. So, most people kept silent. I think that the situation with Muslims in the U. S. is similar. Outside the U.S., I think most Muslims are actually rather happy about the Sept. 11 attacks.

Frankly, I am pretty sick and tired of Muslims threatening violence when some clown says he is going to burn the Quran, or make a cartoon of Mo, or any number of other acts that are perhaps silly or offensive to some, but nonetheless are acts which are in no way criminal. WE should regard such people as barbarians, and have as little to do with them as possible.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Thank you, Briana. I am glad it struck a chord in you.

Allen, no I didn't state explicitly that I don't believe that Rauf is not moderate, but I implied that we will know the man by his actions. If he were moderate, then I believe that he would not be pushing a mosque orginally called Cordova House for that location. On your comparison of the silent Muslims with the KKK situation, I believe you are right--about American Muslims--as you've said. I had not thought about it that way, thanks for that. I tend to agree with you about Muslims outside the US as well. Thanks for commenting, Allen.

Allen Cogbill said...

You're welcome. If you are interested in keeping up with the controversy, there is probably no better source of information than Pam Geller's site, Atlas Shrugs. Geller is a real firebrand, and though I often disagree with her (her views are a bit too Republican for me), there's no doubt that she is immersed in the situation. On top of that, she has been the big proponent of exposing the ever-increasing number of honor killings that occur now in the U.S., almost all of which involve a male Muslim(s) killing a daughter, sister, cousin, or even wife who have "dishonored" the fellow or fellows. A rather stiff penalty, IMHO.

Brianna said...

I second that. The KKK comparison is excellent.

Narada said...

I do not know if my last comment made it to you or not - I do however "get" the reference to Mosques being built on the ruins of their predecessors.....
Perhaps the historic referance should be made more clear. Historicly this act is similar to the Churches built on the ruins of Roman temples or Inca pyramids.
This is similar to the origin of the rock under the golden dome on the temple mount in Jerusalem....... The rock from which Islams great prophet ascended to heaven, the rock which is said to be the remains of the foundation stone which was resting place of the arc of the covenant in the holy of holies in Solomon's temple...
But in spite of all the dogma and fealty to ones creed and belief I still Know in my heart of hearts that there is a common brotherhood, that in spite of differences, truth is the brilliant eternal light that can illuminate even the darkest of souls. When will we re-sheath the sword? When all are dead and no one is left to learn?

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Narada: No, I didn't get a comment from you before this one. I tend to blame the god of the machine, when that happens, and the exigencies of cyberspace, where the normal laws of communication break down and bytes and bits disappear into cyber-black holes.

First, the historical reference is important for the issue of Islam's current triumphalism in a way that it is not for modern Christianity. Note that what I am about to say is not a defense of the theology of Christianity, with which I disagree. But the point is that I CAN disagree with it in these United States, a republic that is majority Christian and not only keep my life, but my liberty and property, is the telling piece of it.

It is a logical fallacy to equate Islam and Christianity as if they were currently in the same state of development. They are not. Christianity has been stripped of political power in the West, and does not have any power to rule people, to force people to accept its doctrines, and it does not--as a rule--teach holy war any longer. (Those minorities who do are quickly pointed out and shunned by the majority of their co-religionists, peacefully).

None of this is true of Islam, both divisions of which still preach jihad as as outward expression of the religious dominance of the polities in which Islam rules, and both of which still dream of an Islamic Caliphate that controls the totality of life within its borders--political, legal, and religious. In a Moslem state, I--a Jew--would not have the liberty to disagree with Islam, I--a woman-- would not have the equality under the law I enjoy in the West, I would not be free to pursue my own values and enjoy my own life.

This difference goes back even farther for Judaism, which came to be a religion about 2000 years ago. The Israelite temple cult which preceded Judaism and served as one of it's foundations--along with Greek logic and thought--did teach Holy War and the Herem ban, but the prophets ended that prior to inception of Judaism, which was formed out of the tragedies of religous war with the destruction of the first and the second temples during the last 500 years Before the Common Era, and the first centruy after it. By the end of those tragedies, during which Israelites understood holy war in the same way as do most Moslems today, a completely new religion and ethics had been developed.

Therefore, we have a situation in which holy war has been declared against the West, the object of which is to transform our culture into a part of the Caliphate, whether by stealth jihad or by force. To refuse to defend ourselves would be suicide for the West, and create a state of dhimmitude for non-Moslems. And in the United States itself, it up to the Muslims who choose to come here to accept our values, manners and mores, and live by them. Those who do not wish to do so are in no way moderate, and ought to return to a place where Islam dominates, if that is how they wish to live.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Narada said...

Elisheva: I only wish the bit bucket had not swallowed my comment prior to the one you received. I had described the same history and reached similar conclusions and agree with your reply. I had also described the same maturation process and battles fought in the Hindu Vedas as well.
It is well understood that Christianity as well as Judaism have had periods of warfare and have had times of political and religious persecution.

continues to be a call to human warfare and suffering.

I do not for a minute take a threat of ideological violence as anything less than a threat of physical violence. I've been on the receiving end of that type of threat, and the violence, more than once, for who I am, or for what I believe, and have thankfully survived the incidents. I know better than to passively plead for moderation where there is none.

I had originally attempted to describe rabid belief and separate that from moderation. Now that I've had time to reflect, I realize that by the act of "belief" that one idea is "right" all others are therefor wrong. Belief in this sense is then exclusion of other thought and the exclusion of opportunity to learn and through learning gain further knowledge, reflection, and possible understanding. That is not radicalism it is fanaticism. It may also be chauvinism or perhaps bigotry but it is in my estimation not religious.

Care and caution must be taken to safeguard the liberties we have, they are fragile and we seemingly take them for granted here in this country after 200+ years. It is the nature of people to see only that which they wish from whatever seems popular. Political rhetoric and a patriotic protectionist fear can blind. and these precious liberties we enjoy can and will slip away slowly without vigilance diligence and duty.

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Narada: Though I do not doubt your sincerity here, I completely disagree with you about this:

continues to be a call to human warfare and suffering."

There's the moral eqivilency argument again. Ideologies are simply ideas wrote big, and they are not all equal. While it is true that some ideologies are destructive and anti-life, others are not. Like anything else, human ideas must be judged by their congruence with reality, and by their effects on individual rights. An ideology that calls for the forceful conversion of the whole world to a particular belief system and way of life is neither realistic nor does it have a good effect on people's life, liberty and property. It is an evil ideology (evil==anti-life). But an ideology that posits that individual rights are inherent to human nature, and must not be interfered with by government, which in turn exists to protect those rights, is both realisitic and good (good=conducive to life).

Further you say:
I realize that by the act of "belief" that one idea is "right" all others are therefor wrong.

If by this you mean that one cannot evaluate ideas, then I disagree with you as above.
For example, it is necessary to evaluate models of the universe. That Galileo was right--the solar system is heliocentric is congruent with reality. This means that Cardinal Bellarmine was wrong. A geocentric solar system is not a true idea.

I reject both assertions you make here. To refuse to make moral judgments about ideologies is moral relativism. to refuse to evaluate ideas is to reject reality and subscribe to some sort of post-modernism.

I would say this, however: that one makes a judgment about an idea or ideology does not give one the ability to suspend the rights of those one disagrees with. I judge that the Islamist ideology of jihad is morally evil, because it requires the violation of the rights of many people. I accept the heliocentric solar system as a correct description of reality. However, neither my judgment of jihad nor my acceptance of heliocentrism give me the license to force others to agree with me.