Sunday, March 29, 2009

“Dialogue” with Islam and its Backlash

Raphael Israeli

On the eve of this Passover, 2009, we are faced with announcements from the British government, to the effect that it has ceased dealing with the major Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), and that the Jewish organizations of France have discontinued their “dialogue” with French Muslims. both instances, the reason cited is the same. It is the duplicitous game the Muslim groups have been playing: on the one hand seeking “dialogue” with their partners, as a means of coexistence and smoothing over difficulties in communication; but on the other hand supporting Hamas, which wants no dialogue with Israel. The non-Muslim parties in these “dialogues” have been late to wake up to the reality that Muslim culture understands “dialogue” not as a means to facilitate rapprochement and understanding through negotiation and clarification, but as a means to lend legitimacy to the monologue it wishes its partners to hear and to heed. Now, after years of empty encounters, the non-Muslim participants finally understand and they have withdrawn from that exercise in goodwill , realising that the other party does not respond in kind.

Some naïve minds in the West have believed that dialogue and negotiation with Muslim radicals can and will alter attitudes and lead to coexistence between Muslims and their rivals. The problem is that the West has treated dialogue as if it were a real policy, whereas it is in fact a non-policy, designed only to fill an awkward vacuum and to make legislators and royals, such as Prince Charles, feel virtuous for “doing something.” But while Europeans have regularly entered a “dialogue” with Muslims in good faith, fully intending to find common ground with their often unruly Muslim interlocutors—for the Muslims, “dialogue” means something else entirely. For them, it signifies the submission of a lesser culture and religion to their own superior one, a culture they seek to impose on others. Muslims hope to inspire in Westerners and Israelis, conversion to an Islamic view of the world. Anything short of that is regarded by them as an abject “failure of dialogue,” and a signal to resort to threats of violence or acts of terrorism. They are well-practiced at both. Apart from the U.S., most Western nations believe nothing is worth fighting for, and they do not have the stomach for a fight of unlimited duration. They would rather capitulate than investigate what tolerance, understanding, dialogue, and peace really means to the Islamists.

The problem today lies in the juxtaposition of a resurgent Islam on the one hand, and a self-deprecating West on the other, a West unsure of itself, its values, or even for what it stands. Its people have made a virtue of instant gratification, and therefore they invest next to nothing in the future—hence their declining birth rates. Their preferred way of life amounts to a “credit card culture.” They want everything, and they want it now. Never mind that their governments no longer raise sufficient funds from taxation to cover exorbitant welfare entitlements, or that a bleak financial future awaits tomorrow’s pensioners. In short, the West today, has become a disgrace to its own heritage in a sharp reversal of its fortunes, whilst at the turn of the twentieth century the Muslim Ottoman Empire was considered the “sick man of Europe,” and no match for a confident West. Former U.S. Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, was onto something, when he distinguished between “old” and “new” Europe— in their eagerness to grab some (necessarily short-term) economic benefits after emerging from Soviet control, the headlong rush of “new” Europe to join the EU, will inevitably contaminate them with the prevalent Western disease.

The constant Western resort to “dialogue” is dangerous because it has the effect of lulling Western populations into believing their governments are actually doing something constructive to avert violence, or threats of violence in the future. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. This non-policy simply serves to embolden and empower those Muslims whom Western governments have chosen to act as intermediaries with the wider Muslim community. Invariably, Western governments have elected these Muslims largely because they are activists, and therefore prominent in the community, while the governments comfort themselves with the mistaken belief that these figures represent “moderate” Islam. However, these Muslims have been living in Europe long enough to have learned to tailor their vocabulary precisely according to their audience. They speak the language of peace, reconciliation, and goodwill to Westerners, and reserve their true thoughts and beliefs for fellow Muslims. In other words, they have learned to “work the system” admirably. In effect, these “moderate” Muslim leaders gradually extract one concession after another from Western policymakers, rendering “dialogue” a one-way street. They enter each session with the full intention of testing the limits of the concessions they can extract, and it is a rare government minister who would risk disappointing them—or else the headlines in the papers the following day would be sure to inflame the Muslim community.

Herein lies the value of the worldwide Muslim penchant for overreacting to every perceived slight, real or imagined, by demonstrating their “rage” loudly and violently. Temperament comes into play here too, for unlike other peoples who experience anger or humiliation, many Muslims are either unable or unwilling to contain those sentiments. Such uncontrolled behavior is unthinkable in the West, and not because of lack of provocation, particularly since September 11. Funerals are manipulated to vent wrath and fury, emotion, general mayhem, and impromptu rifle-shooting.
The total and shameless lack of dignity at what should be a somber occasion, is jarring to western eyes. Bodies are held aloft and bounced along funeral routes in a manner that would be regarded as disrespectful to the deceased in most other cultures. Bodies have been known to fall off stretchers in the chaos, as was recorded for posterity during the funeral of Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini. One has only to recall the Arafat-orchestrated “days ofrage” in the early days of the Intifadah against Israel, in order to understand that, in sharp contrast to Westerners, Muslims make a fetish of celebrating their anger.

The explosion of the Cartoon Affair in Europe and the Middle East in 2006, was the cause of many deaths, boycotts, rage and world-wide demonstrations by Muslims. Why? Because some obscure artist in an unknown journal dared to depict Muhammed in derogatory terms. This not only points to the pathological sensitivities of Muslims, but also to their obtuse attitude to others in their “dialogues”. When the President of Iran vows to eliminate the Jewish people and to wipe Israel off the map, none of those dialoguing Muslim organizations raises a voice in protest; none also protested when Christian churches were torched, as a matter of course, throughout the Muslim world, or when the Tomb of Joseph and the Jericho synagogues were burned and destroyed by Palestinians during the Intifadah. Only hurting the reputation of Muhammed matters, and justifies the use of violence, whilst the very notion of respect for other religions, simply does not exist. Therefore, the purpose of dialogue is only to instill respect of Islam into western minds, to which the recently adopted resolution of the Human Rights Commission in Geneva, plainly attests. As more and more western and Jewish organizations come to understand what the meaning of “dialogue” with their Muslim partners actually means, they may at last, also learn how to make it more egalitarian, reciprocal, and perhaps also effective.

Thanks Ronit Frad

1 comment:

Lucy said...

Interesting article. Another reason why the west is so eager to appease Islam is because for so many years now our brains have been re-engineered to believe we "have no culture" or no heritage. This is especially so in Australia where we are actually taught this in our schools and universities!!! - that we have no culture, no heritage and we need 3rd world immigrants and Muslims especially to come and teach us some "culture", for example stoning of women, female mutilation and beheadings....