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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

December 07, 2002

Speaking of Warren...

Steve DenBeste reacts to Warren's article, which I have not read yet, but which allegedly posits that Muslims everywhere are experiencing a crisis in their faith. Warren is a Christian, thus his conclusion from this is pessimistic. Steve is an Atheist, and thus his conclusion is quite the opposite.

The problem I have with this whole discussion, is that it is based on the common assumption that the current confrontation between the West and the Muslim world has most of its roots in religion, i.e. Islam. Although many people, including Steve, are well aware of the socioeconomic aspect of the conflict (“they hate us because we are more successful”), still, I think that too much emphasis is being put on religion, and too little on something called “culture”. Although culture and religion in the Arab world are so closely knit together, that it is impossible to discuss them separately, they still are two different things.

There are certain phenomena in Arab culture that can be historically traced to the pre-Islamic period. One of them is the “blood feud”, which is really the most idiotic interpretation of the “eye for an eye” principle.
Anyone familiar with the Arab world witnessed this: families, clans and entire tribes are killing each other off one by one. Sometimes it can go on for years, with no one left who even remembers what started it in the first place.

Steve thinks that if the West defeats the Islamists, or Islam, physically and culturally conclusively enough, the West will also win conclusively. I am not so sure. For one thing, they were defeated physically long ago several times, and they are being defeated culturally every day, when they compare our living conditions to theirs. Why would next time be different? Moreover, I suspect that one of the many underlying reasons for their hatred of the West is that they have a score to settle with us. It is demonstrated very clearly in the Israeli-Arab part of the larger conflict: they were defeated, and defeated, and defeated, and they still keep trying.

Although I am not an atheist like Steve (more of an agnostic), my approach to this is just as utilitarian as his. But I am afraid I do not share his optimism on the subject.

(Crossposted here).