Volume 3, Number 204
'There's a Jewish story everywhere'

Sunday-Monday, November 8-9, 2009


Keeping the Ft. Hood massacre in perspective

By Ira Sharkansky

JERUSALEM—Allahu Akbar, Praise the Lord, and Hear O Israel elicit the best of sentiments, and something else.

A youtube segment from CNN shows radical Muslims, native born Americans, including one who converted from Judaism, who praise Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, call for Osama bin Laden to continue his holy war, and urge the destruction of Israel.

My link to the item came from an American who wrote, "The Revolutionary Muslim Brothers in our midst protected by the legal rights given to them by OUR COUNTRY, the country they detest so much…slowly but surely we are becoming the United States of Arabia! WATCH and WAKE UP!"

Another wrote that "Nidal Malik Hasan is (a) . . .medical doctor (who) assert(s) the . . . Palestinian Arab-specific version of the Hippocratic oath: do harm."

Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, MD is a religious Muslim and American-born son of immigrants from Palestine. He prays daily, may have authored e-mails praising suicide bombers, and was heard saying Allahu Akbar while killing people at Fort Hood.

All this is food for thought. But we should also remember the religious Jews Baruch Goldstein, Yigal Amir, and Yaacov Teitel. Goldstein was a physician and IDF reservist who killed 29 Muslims at prayer in 1994; Amir killed Yitzhak Rabin; Teitel is accused of murder and other violence against Jewish leftists, Palestinians, and homosexuals. All found justification for their actions in religious doctrine.

Lest Christians feel themselves secure from deadly religiosity, they should remember those believers who expressed their faith by killing abortionists.

And there has been no shortage of rage among individuals not affiliated with religion, shown by notable cases in post offices, McDonalds, and high schools. The same issue of the New York Times that carried stories about Fort Hood included a headline about a dismissed employee in Florida who returned to his workplace, killed one and wounded six.

Goldstein, Teitel, and Malik share the trait of having been raised in the United States. They add to the reputation of a society whose murder rate is twice as high as the closest

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western democracy, and more than four times the average among other democracies.

Jewish and Christian leaders have, for the most part, abandoned ancient doctrines that call for violence against others. Islam has earned our suspicion due to 9-11, suicide bombers, and what happens in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Muslim countries and Israel have an easier task in dealing with religious extremists than the United States. Egypt, Jordan, Tunis, and Syria can wrap themselves in the symbols of Islam while sending the police and army to do things unacceptable elsewhere against those who threaten the state's control of what happens within its boundaries.

Israeli rabbis condemn their colleagues who urge soldiers not to obey orders about clearing settlements. Security services infiltrate Muslim and Jewish extremists. The Knesset banned Rabbi Meir Kahane from politics. Politicians and the media come down heavily against those who endorse the actions of Goldstein, Amir, or Teitel. The police mass against Muslim and Jewish demonstrators at holy sites, or parking garages open on the Sabbath.

The United States suffers from its pride in individual freedom, multi-culturalism, openness to refugees (especially from countries affected by American military activities), religious freedom, opposition to ethnic profiling, privacy, and easy access to fire arms. We can expect a surge of harassment directed at people who look Middle Eastern, as well as official expressions emphasizing that a misguided fringe should not bring retribution against the great majority of Muslims who are good neighbors.

Tensions may increase along with immigration from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

Members of the Muslim community in and around Fort Hood have expressed their concern.

“When a white guy shoots up a post office, they call that going postal. But when a Muslim does it, they call it jihad. . . Ultimately it was Brother Nidal’s doing, but the command should be held accountable. . . . G.I.’s are like any equipment in the Army. When it breaks, those who were in charge of keeping it fit should be held responsible for it.”

Ranking officials expressed confusion and caution. The Army Chief of Staff said, “This is a tough one. . . It’s a kick in the gut." President Obama cautioned against "jumping to conclusions" while investigations continue.

How should individuals protect themselves from the madness of believers? There may be nothing more certain than staying away from sensitive places at sensitive times, and hoping for good luck.

Sharkansky is professor emeritus of political science at Hebrew University. Email: msira@mscc.huji.ac.il

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