Friday, June 30, 2017


Please excuse this editorial comment, but I need to get it off my chest.

Muslims that refuse to recognize that terrorism is a problem that is related to Islam are similar to Jews that refuse to recognize that lack of mentchlichkait in dinei momonus is somehow related to the culture of Yiddishkeit. Maybe it's not your style of Yiddishkeit, and maybe "people like that aren't really frum," but denying that there's a systemic problem is the same willful blindness. It may be extrinsic, but it's deeply enmeshed. It's easy to say that it's extremely rare, and that we only hear about it because the few that do it do it so well, but that's just denial. Ask anyone that, for example, runs a Pesach program - I know someone that used to run a non-gebrokst program, and had endless agmas nefesh dealing with people - excruciating and endless bargaining, enormous boxes of chocolates taken from the tea room ("because I paid so much for the yomtov,") property damage, and kaheina. He changed to non-non-gebrokst, and it's a pleasure. The point is that it is not just "behavior of individual outlaws," it's evidence of a cultural problem that has become a midda mushreshes. As Reb Yisrael Salanter said, uprooting one midda ra'ah is harder than learning and knowing the whole Shas.

To outsiders, Islam's historic and current encouragement and celebration of bloody violence is so obviously true as to be a truism. But apparently, there are decent and sincere people of the Islam faith that are incapable of seeing this. I think the same is true of us, and I think it's deeper than חוץ מנגעי עצמו.

Here's an excerpt from an article in the Christian Science Monitor that made me realize this. Look at lomdus from the fellow from the Islamic Society of Denmark.

The imams’ decision not to bury the terrorists came after British Prime Minister Theresa May, speaking in the wake of a knife attack near London Bridge that killed eight people, said that there was “far too much tolerance of extremism in our country.”
But European Muslims, divided between many schools of thought and traditions, are unlikely to unite around a single approach to terrorism.
Demanding that Muslims address the scourge in the name of Islam “would imply that Muslims are potentially terrorists and we don’t accept that premise,” says Imran Shah, a board member of the Islamic Society of Denmark. “We will not accept orders from someone pointing his finger at us saying ‘this is your fault.’” (My emphasis.)
But British Communities Minister Sajid Javid, himself a Muslim, argued in a recent op-ed article in The Times that British Muslims bear a “unique burden” to tackle extremism. “It is not enough to condemn. Muslims must challenge, too,” he wrote. “We can no longer shy away from those difficult conversations.”
Naz Shah, a Labor party member of Parliament from Bradford in northern England, says that her Muslim constituents have overcome their reservations and that “they are having conversations about empowering communities” to face up to extremists. “We are talking about this amongst ourselves,” she adds.
But she rejects the idea that Muslims tolerate terrorism. The Manchester suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, had been reported to police by friends and neighbors on three separate occasions, she points out.
In France, too, the tone of the debate is changing, says Rachid Benzine, a member of a government commission studying imams’ education. “In the past people were saying that terrorism either had nothing to do with Islam, or everything to do with Islam,” and nothing to do with adolescent rootlessness, or Western policy in the Middle East, or social discrimination at home, or other contributing factors, he recalls.
Now, he says, “there is a recognition that jihadism is a product of both international problems and of the way Islam has been ideologized.”

The danger of radicalism

Though Muslim public intellectuals may think like that, many preachers in French neighborhood mosques “are hesitant to criticize” extremists “because they are afraid of stigmatizing the whole religion,” explains Mr. Benzine. “But there is no way around this; they have to do it.”

To be perfectly honest, the man quoted above, Imran Shah, might not be a good example of a decent, peace loving Moslem. He is probably an extremist in sheep's clothing. See his youtube interview.


  1. Do you think the problem of Yiddishkeit and money is related to the Kollel culture and not working?

    1. No, I don't. I think that the shock of incongruity of kollel life and chicanery results from several things: convincing themselves that it is a victim-less crime - it's just the government, not individuals; and the confidence that supporting Torah is the highest and greatest good and ultimately benefits the giver; that the welfare laws are unjust and favor undeserving but politically expedient ethnic groups, and unjust laws do not deserve deference; and that just as only one in one hundred reports paying their caregivers or lawn maintenance crews, some laws are expected to be ignored.
      But I think that the occurrence outside the Kollel community results from centuries of being abused by the dominant culture. If a lamb occasionally turns around and bites a wolf, he deserves a medal, not censure. This attitude is absurd in our medina shel chesed, but it's entrenched in some communities. And yes, I believe that it also relates to the extreme contrast we see in Chazal regarding Klal Yisrael and the Umos Ha'olam. Exceptionalism is wonderful, but we've got to learn from the Western World that it should stop at the door of your home.