Time to Choose

Yes, Sharon is a war criminal – his actions have led to hundreds of Palestinians dying in refugee camps in Lebanon and his current policies have helped bring about the situation in Israel/Palestine today. Yes, the US was, in the past, responsible, in its blind Cold War strategies, for creating Bin Laden and Saddam, and Noriega and many other “monsters” by arming them, training them, supporting them when it was geo-politically convenient. Yes, George W is a lightweight intellect surrounded by his daddy’s pals and was not elected by the majority of Americans. Yes, the US media is soporific and sappy and often misses the important stories in their attempts to sell more commercials and turn news into entertainment.

But all of this is beside the point right now in America. And it is beside the point in the Islamic world. It is time to distinguish, among Muslims worldwide, whether Islam wants to be associated with MASS MURDER. Is it godly to kill innocent civilians in another country? Is it godly to board airplanes filled with children and women and non military men and bring them to their doom while turning them into missiles ramming into non military targets, leading to the deaths of tens of thousands?

I have no doubt that Muslims of courage across the world are as horrified by the spectacle of last Tuesday as is every other human being on the planet. When are they going to speak out with real words, not empty catch phrases? When are they going to stand up and say this is not what Islam is all about? When are they going to distinguish between what Islam is really about – love, poetry, science, beauty – and what their religion has been hijacked and turned into by the loudest, most violent in their midst?

It is one thing to complain and fight against oppression; it is another to kill innocents in the thousands intentionally. And in complaining about oppression, is it not also true that the Arab leaders, ruling over non-democratic countries, where the people cannot vote, cannot choose their direction, and are kept poor by their own leadership, often corrupt, are often more responsible for the failing situation of their people more than any hegemonious superpower?

In the recent race conference in South Africa, Arab leaders went to great extremes to parade their hatred to the Jews while not one spoke of or admitted Arab responsibilities in the past African slave trade (a proven and well known fact). No one piped up about the treatment of women in Afghanistan, of the barbaric public executions in many Arab countries. Of the persecution of Jews in Arab lands for centuries. Of anything except the mantra of hatred, justified or not, toward Israel.

Young Muslim Arab children worldwide – often living in poverty and neglect – have been allowed to grow up, often inspired to grow up – with hate in their hearts, raised to live a life of vengeance. Where in the Muslim world would you see the things we see on US TV these days – newscasters and leaders imploring the nation’s people to refrain from bigotry in spite of the feelings of anger toward any group? Yet over and over these days the media and legal institutions have made it clear that in spite of the anger, it is not a question of paying back Islamic people with hate, that this is not the West versus Islam, this is the West versus a group of Islamic fundamentalists with murder in their hearts? When was the last time the Arab media made distinctions like this when it came to the West or the Jews?

Let’s be real here. A war is coming, but it will not be a war like any other, it will likely be a series of extended actions, specific actions aimed at the cells that have spread over 40 countries, cells of men who pretend to be pious Muslims out to defend the world of Islam while drinking heavily, gong to strip clubs, learning to live in Western countries and enjoy the “decadence” while they are at it, even learning to fly sophisticated planes. In the name of wanting to bring the modern world to its knees these same murderers enjoy the very world they claim to hate. They are hypocrites and criminals, not martyrs, not religious, not pious, not heroes to anyone.

It is time for the Islamic world to take its religion back from these men of hate. It is time for Islam to practice what it preaches, to admit that the development of these cells and men like bin Laden and Saddam, men who would gas and kill and bomb totally innocent populations of people who are different, is an abhorrent mutation of what was once a beautiful culture and religion. Time to take it back. Time to banish these men and eradicate them.

My hope is that with the support of real Muslims, who don’t distort the words of the Koran in the name of hatred and evil, we will be able to root these people out without causing damage to innocent Muslim lives in the countries that harbor these men.

Because let’s face it: the pretense that it is Israel that is responsible for Arab woes is just that – a pretense. The average Arab growing up in Israel has a higher life expectancy, has more freedom, has more political representation than in any Arab country in the region. The poverty in Iraq? While Saddam builds palaces and fills the wallets of his families he blames the deaths of children on the embargo. But who invaded Kuwait? Who burned the oil fields? Who did what first? And what is he doing now for his own people? What are the Sheiks in Saudi doing for their own people? What did Qaddafi do for his own people? What did Assad do for Syrians or Lebanese? When was the last time an Arab leader actually made political and economic moves to help his own people emerge from poverty, to move into the modern world?

This fixation with hatred toward Israel has been the Arab world’s stupidest move, most self-destructive move, an obsession, like all obsessions, backfiring on the obsessed. In the name of hate the Arab world has fallen into following charismatic medievalists and made the wrong choice, to attempt to go back in time, when Islam ruled the world in the 7th century as if they could turn back the clock.

Sorry folks, the world goes forward, not backward. If one wants to affect the way it goes forward one can do that, but not by putting its women under wraps, and wanting to return to 14 centuries earlier, for that is an illusion, an impossibility, a self destructive mantra. The only ones to suffer are the Arabs themselves, and on occasions like this, when the hatred extends to mass murder, to innocents from other lands. But this will not turn the clock back either, it only extends the suffering, first to us, then to themselves all over again in an endless spiral of violence.

No, it is time for Islam to wake up and move into the modern world, for it is here, the product of centuries of human evolution, like it or not, and for those who wish to go back in time, I suggest humbly that this is their prerogative, but it is not their right to force this down the rest of the world, not even on its own people, for this choice is what has led to the impoverishment of millions of Arabs and Muslims worldwide. Not Israel, not the US, but themselves, their choices, their leaders, and now, their murdering despots who have no regard for human life, not even their own young men’s lives, who they would fool with myths of heaven and virgins in their martyrdom. For if one believes that these men who killed innocents would qualify for heaven according to the Koran, one needs go back and read the Koran. I don’t think going to strip clubs, drinking alcohol and massacring babies fits the bill.

No, these are hypocrites, as are the men that send them to their false martyrdom. And this hypocrisy has reached its most evil incarnation and it is time for the Islamic world to stand up, to wake up and to take back its marvelous, poetic religion from these murderers. The sooner the better.