The communities and societies in which I was raised, in both the Middle East and the West, maintained a very negative stance against Jews. Now that I have developed into a reformist Muslim, I am finding it difficult dealing with the current narrative surrounding Israel and the Jewish people, simply because I believe we could do better if we gave the entire matter some thought.
In this article, I wish to address two key matters:
1. Referring to Israel as “The only democracy in the Middle East”
Almost every time a politician in the West speaks in defense of Israel, they accompany it with the phrase, “The only democracy in the Middle East.” Yes, it’s a blessing to live in a democracy, but does Israel deserve to exist only because it is a democracy? What if decades from today, Israeli politics evolved into a theocracy, will it not be worthy of protection then?
Israel is a Jewish state, and it should be treated as a Jewish state and a nation that deserves to live, and should be afforded equal rights as every other nation, without having to worry about attacks or an active agenda to annihilate it whether it be a democracy, theocracy, monarchy, or any other system that exists now or may exist in the future.
There are Jewish citizens of Israel who oppose democracy, and wish for other forms of government. They too, should be protected as our political allies and brothers and sisters in humanity – against all forms of terrorism.
Saudi Arabia, for instance, is an absolute monarchy where the king is both the head of state and government – which functions based upon a theocratic constitution. They remain a protected ally of the United States regardless of their lack of democracy.
Israel is not special because it is a democracy. Israel is special because it is the only Jewish state on the face of this planet, and acknowledging it as such is significantly important for the future of this nation.
2. It is not a Jewish-Muslim conflict
I have many Jewish friends, yet I never engage in interfaith dialogue with Jewish people. In fact, Jews are the only religious group with which I refuse to engage in interfaith dialogue with, and here’s why:
• As a Muslim, I believe that the Torah is the word of God, and that all Jewish prophets were sent from God. Judaism owns the foundations of the Abrahamic doctrine, and denying that would lead to the collapse of my own theology.
• The conflict in the Middle East is not between Muslims and Jews, it is between Israel and the Arab establishment known as Palestine. Hamas and other terrorist organizations wish to present the decades-old conflict as a war between two religions because that comes with its benefits.
• I am a Shi’ite. Shi’ite doctrine does not believe in any government before that of the savior in the fullness of time. We also have no attachment to the mosques in Jerusalem, as they were built by the caliphs and the umayyads who are cursed in Shi’ite doctrine. Before the Iranian revolution of 1979, Shi’ites lived in peace with the Jewish communities throughout Iran and Iraq. It was Imam Khomeini’s fabricated system of government that allowed him to rule like a caliph, and wage war against the Jewish people. Before Khomeini, Twelver-Shi’ites never had an Islamic government, nor did we have a problem with the Jewish people.
For thousands of years, powerful forces have exerted all efforts possible to annihilate the Jewish race and religion. Until 70 years ago, there was no government which protected the Jews. Neither do rabbis or believers proselytize Judaism. One would think that with these three factors, Judaism would cease to exist, yet it continues to rise and revive itself as a community and its adherents as a nation.
I invite my co-religionists to continue believing that Islam is the absolute truth, but to also recognize and acknowledge the fact that God has a special covenant with the Jewish people, one that no force can break.