Rather than state/religious Islam, we are in a global struggle with Militarized borderless Islamists. Those in the West who continue to use a ‘war’ metaphor should reconsider since a ‘war’ denotes an ability to confront; to engage elements of the enemy on a battlefield; to know where the enemy is concentrated combined with being able to easily identify opposing combatants.
We are not in a ‘war’ with state/religious Islam or Muslims but in a direct and dangerous confrontation with Militarized borderless Islamists. Militarized borderless Islamists are volatile, wholly amoral and increasingly deadly and are those who need to be more directly and clearly targeted. These organizations will also continue to expand if the West doesn’t start to really figure things out.
It also needs to be clearly recognized that Militarized Islam is, in many ways, far more at ‘war’ with state/religious Islam, itself, as it continues to brutalize, assault and slaughter far more fellow Muslims on a day to day basis than it could ever even come close to repeating in the west.
If there are ‘war crimes’ to be pursued in the Middle East, it would be those of militarized Islamists to include Hamas and Hezbollah who should be tried for brutalizing, destroying and deliberately using the lives of their own citizens for global media attention, propaganda and fund raising.
With regards to the wrongheaded framework of being in a ‘war with Islam,’ I read an interesting data point recently. It identified that even if there were as many as 100,000 devoted, daily active ‘Sharia imposing’ militarized Islamists globally, this percentage among the overall global state/religious Islam would be in the very low single digits.
The silence from the overwhelming, nonviolent members of state/religious Islam is also an issue.
At the same time, western practices which actively demonize and degrade a broad swath of global Islam to include those that have been directly government supported have also likely neutralized, intimidated and legitimately disgusted huge numbers the global Islamic community.
And ironically, or tellingly, France has been one of those nations which has actively produced very specific and difficult government sponsored ‘anti-Islamic’ legislation and expectations.
These are among the reasons why a larger percentage among the global Muslim community who are similarly repelled by the militarized Islamists and would otherwise be far more willing to speak publically have chosen to remain silent.
And how many others among the constantly demonized, socially and politically assaulted state/religious global Islamic community have become increasingly and understandably alienated as a result believing that they at least share a degree of understanding with those militarized Islamists and their claims to be ‘defenders of the faith?’
There is a similar and broader dynamic also active in the global Jewish Community.
There are a great many Jews, from those in the Diaspora to those in Israel, who are repelled by groups like Gush Emunim and the much larger, ill directed and amoral Israeli hard Right; who consider them more of a threat to Israel than the PA or Hamas.
And similar to those in the global Islamic community, however, many of us also don’t speak out or actively denounce the actions of our own since we, too, are often being attacked politically, militarily, personally and religiously on a day to day basis…if in different ways.
We are also social and culturally attacked regularly by our own and told that any question of or challenge to the currently in power Israeli hard Right makes us ‘self hating’ or trying to destroy Israel. That we have direct blame for Israel’s struggle and the response by many non-Jewish global communities to Israel right now.
In this way, observations made across the global Islamic community that if alternative presentations, whether they be by Charlie Hebdo or amoral right wing western politicians and commentators focused on similarly exaggerated Jewish, Catholic or non-Islamic racial stereotyping (for instance) would have been severely reproached and, potentially, even shut down to include direct legal sanctions in selected countries in Europe is correct and not irrelevant.
While the European and American hard Right can, and do, routinely advocate for severe regulations against Muslims based on broad and, often, wildly exaggerated stereotyping; while the Western hard Right routinely advocates for arcane legal and cultural limitations on the rights of members of the global Islamic community in their respective country, some twit who denies the existence of the Holocaust by Hitler against Jews can be arrested across Europe for ‘Holocaust Denial.’
Before I continue, a point of reference; I am second generation American Jewish and only have a handful of surviving relatives in the U.S. since most were murdered during the Nazi Holocaust and/or during earlier Pogroms across Eastern Europe. Others might have been subsequently killed by their own townspeople when they tried to return home after being freed from Concentration Camps. I’ve also been directly victimized, myself, by anti-Semitism more than a few times.
I consider ‘Holocaust Deniers’ to be reprehensible individuals and certainly support actively repudiating anti-Semitism. But, at the same time, even as anti-Semitism and Holocaust Denial experiences a global resurgence, I do not believe in criminalizing words and thoughts no matter how vile so long as it does not include direct threats or incitement to cause harm.
While Charlie Hebdo, as an immediate example, was and is able to publish grossly stereotypical cartoons that attack the most sensitive and personal issues to Muslims, it is worth repeating that the magazine would very likely long ago have been, at the most, functionally shut down and, at the least, severely reproached if those exact same cartoons targeted other specifically selected religious or racial groups.
As do many of those within the state/religious Islamic global community, I also consider that a problem.
If laws are going to exist at all against religious or racial ‘hate’ language short of direct incitement to commit harm or specific acts of violence; against those considered Holocaust Deniers, such laws should be categorical rather than selectively applied and targeted.
With all this, there is no justification – none whatsoever – which can be used for the horrific attacks by self-described militarized Islamists against Charlie Hebdo and other western targets or, as is far more likely, fellow Muslims who don’t ascribe to the self-indulgent and ill guided interpretations of Islam by the militarized Islamists.
We are not and cannot consider ourselves to be ‘at war’ with Islam even based on the more horrific actions being taken by self-described ‘defenders of Islam’ or the expansion of militarized borderless Islamist organizations.
The west still needs to differently organize, immediately stop the global demonization of everything Islamic and confront the militarized borderless Islamists as nothing more than the large criminal, extremist and rogue military operations that they are.
If gross caricatures of Jews and other western religions or races are not acceptable or tolerable, such behavior towards global Islam should fall into that same category. Jews and others who detest overt anti-Semitism should apply this same sensibility to similar activities targeting global state/religious Islam.
Though definitely not having any primary ‘blame’ for both ongoing and recent atrocities by militarized Islamists, the West does, in fact, share in a larger political culpability for the still expanding maelstrom.
And this a message which also needs to be acknowledged by global Islam and global Judaism alike as we consider our own and our respective and closely linked futures.