By Karmanye Thadani
May 7, 2014
At the very outset of this blog, I would appeal to the readers to be open-minded. To label, without any basis, all Jews outspoken in favour of tolerance to Muslims or vice versa, of having some hidden agenda or being sponsored by vested interests, is similar to a non-Muslim making such a generalisation for all tolerant Muslims. Being a Indian Hindu, writing on this topic, I ought to clarify that I am far from being an Islamophobe, nor am I an uncritical admirer of the Israeli state. I have written this article only out of a commitment to world peace.
Some say that Jews have eternally been enemies of Islam. But Islamic theology provides no room for hate-mongering or violence against any religious grouping as a collective, least of all Jews. In fact, the role model for every practising Muslim, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), demonstrated on several occasions how hatred can be fought by way of humanitarian affection, and if someone suggests that I, as a non-Muslim, should not take interest in Islam, then how does he/she expect non-Muslims misunderstand his/her religion?
It is also very important to note that all Jews are not elite businessmen controlling the economies of their respective countries but many of them are not that well off and are part of other vocations. As for ludicrous conspiracy theories, I must point out that, believing what sounds like music to one’s ears without concrete evidence comes naturally to many people (irrespective of religion), but it doesn’t help solve problems.
Speaking of the creation of Israel and the Deir Yasin massacre, many Jews, including Albert Einstein, had strongly condemned the systematic murder of over 100 men, women and children. Israel has a thriving civil society that passionately fights for the rights of Palestinians. Indeed, many Israeli writers have condemned the wrongdoings of their own government.
There are Israeli-Jewish playwrights who have tried to sensitise people to the Palestinian narrative through their plays. Also, amongst the pro-Palestinian collective are: Israeli -Jewish journalists ridiculing their own extremist leaders, peace-loving Israelis, who voice their opinions through social media and strong anti-Zionist- religious Jews in Israel, who want to undo the creation of Israel and live as Palestinian citizens though, I believe this is not a practical proposition. Moreover, there is a group of Jewish women, who follow the noble tenets of Judaism called ‘Women in Black’ who protest against human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories. One of their members says,
“I couldn’t be a Jew and not get involved with Women in Black.”
A Swedish activist of Israeli origin declared, after being attacked aboard the Gaza Flotilla, that
“We promise that we will go again and again to Gaza, until Gaza and Palestine are free.”
There are also moderate Zionists criticising hard-line Zionist positions and praising Islam as a beautiful religion, and there have been several instances of Jews saving lives of Muslims and vice versa, in the spirit of humanity, which lies at the heart of all religions.
In fact, historically speaking, several Arab Muslim rulers like Saladin (ra), Umar (ra) and Sulaiman (ra) were very tolerant of the Jews, even giving them positions of power, and so were the Arab kings who ruled over Spain. Even today, interestingly, in Iran, for example, which is a vociferous critic of Israel, Jewish citizens of Iran are given complete religious freedom, and they run their own hospitals, libraries, religious schools and even a newspaper, and a seat is reserved for them in the Iranian parliament. They also have a history of contribution to the Iranian army. Many of them are proud Iranians refusing to migrate to Israel, even rejecting monetary incentives by the Israeli government. Many Iranian Jews have also come out on the streets protesting against human rights violations by the Israeli state machinery.
Muslims, following their religious edict of humanity, in its entirety, being a family that descended from one couple should be humanists devoted to the truth. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself said that Muslims must stop fellow Muslims from oppressing anyone, Muslim or non-Muslim. Therefore, a true Muslim must condemn terrorist attacks by Palestinians that take the lives of innocent men, women and children as much as he/she condemns the wrongdoings of Israel.
Israel is a stable democracy with some political parties in Israel emphasising peaceful relations with the Palestinians, and one such political party, ‘Yesh-Atid’, has even made considerable electoral headway.
Also, apart from Palestinians living in the occupied territories, it must be noted that Muslims residing within the borders of Israel, have been conferred equal rights as Israeli citizens, have gone onto become army generals, cabinet ministers, Supreme Court judges and other than being governed by Muslim personal law, and with any non-Muslim having complete freedom to embrace Islam as his/her faith, some occasional issues confronting any pluralistic society notwithstanding. In this context, there is a video of a practising Muslim of Pakistani origin who drastically changed from being anti-Jewish to being a lover of Israel, which is a must-watch.
The two-state solution is the only viable solution to the conflict, which is supported by many moderate Palestinians, but that will only be possible, if a section of Palestinians resorting to terrorism gives up that un-Islamic path which in return gives Israel the security it needs, to recognise Palestinians right to exist.
The creation of Israel was wrong even in my opinion (though there are many people, including those, who are prejudiced against Muslims and even many Muslims who themselves disagree), but undoing it now would neither be practically possible nor fair after so many decades. It would be akin to all those, who were refugees in the partition of the Sub-Continent or Red Indians in Canada, who now try going back to their respective homelands on the other side of the border.
Such a compromise, in the larger interest of peace, is in line with the tenets of Islam. While Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)’s life illustrates this beautifully, verses of the Quran [as explained by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)] also drive home this point very well, suggesting that compromises could be made for the larger cause of peace and goodwill. Once that is done, Israel will have no excuse to hold on to Gaza and West Bank, and non-violent resistance of the Gandhian variety (which has no room for stone-pelting) can help win more international sympathy for the creation of an independent Palestine.
Mahatma Gandhi, who had opposed the creation of Israel, who used to read the Quran in Arabic with understanding and was killed by a Hindu extremist for trying to protect and safeguard Indian Muslims in the wake of the partition, had said that Satyagraha is a form of jihad! And yes, Israel apart, alienating or turning violent against the tiny Jewish minority of Pakistan goes against Mr Jinnah’s vision of a Pakistan free from religious antagonism and is disrespectful to the white strip in the Pakistani flag.
Karmanye Thadani is a lawyer by qualification, the author is a freelance writer based in New Delhi, India He formerly worked as a research associate in a leading Delhi-based public policy think-tank, the Centre for Civil Society (CCS), where he studied the efficacy of the NCPCR in monitoring India’s RTE Act