We are indebted to Philip Mendes and Bennett Muraskin for writing on the complex facts behind the virtually total exodus of Jews from Arab lands in the wake of Israel’s birth. A key to understanding this phenomenon is recognizing its complexity.
Recently, I saw Bill Maher’s bitingly satirical documentary “Religulous.” The flaw in this otherwise entertaining and illuminating film is his uncompromising conclusion: that religion is inherently bigoted and violence-prone and that even moderately religious people are “enablers” for the extremists.
In a related vein, some people whom I’ve dialoged and debated with online have characterized as “racist,” my view that the Arab and Muslim worlds have a huge problem with violence and intolerance. They are NOT inherently this way – that would be a bigoted assertion.
One has to ask if many majority Arab countries and areas (e.g., Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Algeria, the Gaza Strip, Sudan/Darfur) and non-Arab Muslim countries (e.g., Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey) are not plagued by inter-communal violence and intolerance. If they are not, then my point could be categorized as prejudiced or at least mistaken.
My observation is based upon my reading of the facts that indicate social pathology, but it is not intended to denigrate anybody for their ethnicity or religion. I mean to highlight the desperate need for progressive change in these places. And obviously this does not exempt Israel and predominantly Christian societies from the need for more tolerance and enlightenment. This blog regularly reports upon Israel’s shortcomings and abuses; we are equal opportunity critics.