Not at War with Islam

As the President says, we are not at war with Islam. Fortunately, I think most Americans agree with him. I am also OK with avoiding using the adjective “Islamic” with the word “terrorists”. “Islamic” refers to an entire faith, just like “Christian” does. So using the term “Islamic terrorism” is equivalent to calling the KKK “Christian terrorists” as if they represented Christianity generally. Hopefully, they did not. Although they still professed to be Protestant Christians. However, the term “IslamIST terrorism” is perfectly appropriate in my mind because it captures the true-believer ideological mindset of terrorists from the Muslim world and does not reference an entire faith. Now, a big HOWEVER: The President also said that “young people are taught to hate”. So, who teaches this hate? In every case, it is Muslim Religious Fundamentalists who teach hatred of Jews, Christians, the West, etc. (And so it often is as far as Christian and Jewish Fundamentalists teaching young Christians and Jews to hate.) So, we cannot sidestep the religious question entirely, and it is naive to do so. One other point; It is manifestly NOT primarily poverty that is a key factor in the burgeoning Islamist terrorist movements. That is a red herring, and I could speak to it at length. But it has to do with a pervading love-hate relationship with things Western, deep feelings of humiliation, dislocation, and the like. Many Islamist leaders are far from poor.



We would like to ask spouses and partners who were not born Jewish to join in a conversation about what they have learned from, and what they value about, cultural Judaism from their involvement with Jewish life and culture; i.e., from their partners and from Jewish friends and relatives. Speaking for myself, I have been interested in talking about this subject for a long time, since I can chart a long steady exposure from an early age to the Jewish take on life and the world.

Since we have many intercultural couples, we think that this could be a very rich discussion.

I will start the conversation and am happy to to lead it as well. I know that we can count on many others to add your typically thoughtful contributions.


ENGAGE: An Evening of Jewish Learning – St. Paul JCC and Talmud Torah Event

ENGAGE, An Evening of Jewish Learning!
Saturday, January 10  •  7:00 PM  –  11:00 PM

Open to the Community  •  Member Fee:$ 18.00   Non-Member Fee:$ 18.00
Register at Front Desk by calling 651-698-0751, or Online  From  Monday, December 8  thru  Tuesday, January 6The JCC and Talmud Torah of St. Paul team up to bring you a rich evening of eye-opening and mind-expanding classes.
View event brochure and read class descriptions
The location of this program is at the Talmud Torah of St. Paul, 768 Hamline Avenue, St Paul, MN 55116. For more information please contact Beth Friend, Adult Program Coordinator at 651-255-4735    Email Beth

Radical Islam Comment

I have made comments like this before, so forgive me, but I have been studying religious fundamentalists for quite a few years. The recent brutal beheading of journalist James Foley shows one characteristic of radical fundamentalists of all religions: They don’t care what a person who is an Outsider might have done or what he or she supported. James Foley had done nothing. Rather all they care about is who he “is”. In this case, an American. The chilling corollary of this is that there is now a worldwide ideology that gives perhaps a few million dislocated young Muslim men (only a tiny percentage of all Sunni Muslims) a rationale for venting their rage indiscriminately and with righteous justification on all outsiders — all who are not members of the tribe of true believers into which they have retreated in their escape back to a reconstituted delusional world of 7th Century greatness. Feeling humiliated by the failure of their own cultures to be inventors of the powerful new world or indeed to be really successful in modernity on their own terms. they have experienced instead that success in the modern world requires becoming pale derivatives of the West. Coming from a proud past, and wanting their own identity, this is galling to them. Feeling both humiliated by cultural failures to be “great” anymore and by feeling derivative if they seek “modern” success, these factors combine to deeply enrage them. This rage is so all-consuming that it seeks no specific target, but rather seeks to lash out at the entire outside world. (Yes. They will target those whose presence and success is especially humiliating,like America and Israel.) The radical Islamist ideology gives them a long-sought rationale for venting rage against all who are not them. So they slaughter all others — Secular Sunnis, Christians, French, Americans, Brits, Jews, Israelis, etc., and their ancient enemies the Shiites too, and feel entirely justified.

Radical Islamists are present in numbers (even if small percentages) in every Muslim country (or Muslim area of other countries such as in the Sahel) and in numbers in every Western country. Thanks to social media, though dispersed they can function as a singular force. Not since the Nazis have we seen anything so terrifying or of this scale.