Saturday, September 26, 2009


Head-scarves and Yarmulkes

The world is again becoming more dangerous. The hot spot now is the antagonism between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Jewish Republic of Israel. Iran has asserted that Israel has no right to exist. Israel responds by threatening grave harm on Iran. Israel has the ability to produce nuclear weapons. Iran covets that ability and is proceding to acquire it.

Both nations have holy books that justify their actions. Israel's holy book states that the Lord God Yahweh or Jehovah or whatever his name is gave the land of Israel in perpetuity to the Jewish people. Jewish people who take this story seriously insist on moving to Israel and in establishing settlements anywhere in the land that God gave them. The fact that people are already living in the area of a settlement and have lived there for centuries makes no difference. They will simply have to go away so that Jews can get their land back.

The holy book of Muslims tells them that it is their duty to convert people to Islam. When people are converted, the land on which they live becomes part of Islam as well. It is not to be allowed for either the people or the land thus converted to revert or leave Islam. Jews, Christians, Buddhists, and other religious folk can come to live in this converted land but they can not dominate it. It must remain part of Islam and the people who have embraced Islam must not abandon Islam. Apostates can be punished by death.

There you have it. The existence of Israel on land that was converted centuries ago to Islam is an abomination and must not be allowed to continue. The land is part of Islam. Jews may live there if they behave themselves and don't do things or say things that insult Islam or Muslims. Establishing a Jewish state on Islamic land is wrong, wrong, wrong. On the other hand, before Islam existed, God gave Israel to the Jews. They have a God-given right to live there, practice their religion, and reestablish King Solomon's Kingdom. It's a conflict of religions and a conflict of laws. Both republics use their holy books as the highest or ultimate law of the land.

In case you, the reader, is a bit slow, I must inform you that neither holy book has any weight with me. I do not condemn apostates against Islam and I think the notion of land necessarily being of any religion is silly. That is, the claim of the Jewish settlers is both silly and dangerous. The claim of traditional Muslims to the land is also silly and dangerous. I have no sympathy for the claims of the President of the Islamic Republic that the Holocaust didn't really happen and therefore Israel has no right of existence. (Of course, no one bases the right to existence of Israel on the holocaust. Rather, that right is based on a reputed conversation between God and Moses.)

I think that religious beliefs that include the literal interpretation of certain holy books are dangerous. As a Christian, I can attend church and participate in the rituals there even though I know that many of the things that Christians "believe" never really happened, or at least they didn't happen the way certain people wrote them down. God did not literally create the whole universe in six days. Astrophysicists have some fairly good ideas about how the present universe came into existence about 15 billion (15,000,000,000) years ago. I share their opininons. No one knows what existed, if anything, before the coming into being of the present universe. It should be possible for Orthodox Jews and conservative Muslims to practice their faiths while at the same time accepting the notion that events described in their holy books probably didn't happen just in the way theat the writers described.

The problem of Israel and the Palestinians can not be solved if people cling to the notion that holy books are literally true. That applies equally to the Torah and to the Quran.

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