To begin to understand why Muslims are backward, consider this passage from G. E. Von Grunebaum’s Modern Islam (1962):
It is essential to realize that Muslim civilization is a cultural entity that does not share our [Western] primary aspirations. It is not vitally interested in analytical self-understanding, and it is even less interested in the structural study of other cultures, either as an end in itself or as a means of a clearer understanding of its own character and history.
Bernard Lewis’ essay, “The Roots of Muslim Rage” (1990), not only portrays Islam’s profound hatred of the West, but its overweening arrogance and utter contempt for Western civilization. Convinced of its possession of absolute truth, Islam cannot believe it is of any value to study cultures steeped in error. Hence it discourages among the faithful any incentive to understand other cultures from the latter’s own point of view.
Unlike Jews (and Westerners generally), people mired in the mentality of the Quran or of Arab-Islamic culture lack the ability to see or respect the other fellow’s point of view and to moderate their demands accordingly. This attitude makes nonsense not only of Benjamin Netanyahu’s insistence on “reciprocity” when negotiating with Muslim despots, but of his very desire to negotiate with them in the first place!
The late Professor Yehoshafat Harkabi, a prominent Israeli expert on Islam, failed to draw this conclusion. Even though his book, Arab Attitudes to Israel (1972), is replete with Arab vilification of Jews and Israel, he advocated a PLO state in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza! I mention Harkabi because he was not only a former Director of Israel Military Intelligence, but also the mentor of Shimon Peres. Indeed, he was once head of Israel’s Command and Staff College.
The officers who graduated that college were surely influenced by Harkabi’s book, whose most significant message was not the obvious hatred of the Arab world toward Israel, but Harkabi’s conclusion that justice favors neither side of the Arab-Israel conflict!
Harkabi’s morally neutral attitude is rooted in moral or cultural relativism, a modern doctrine to which he explicitly subscribed.
This university-bred doctrine, which has tainted Israel’s ruling elites, has undermined wholehearted confidence in the justice of Israel’s cause. This doctrine is foreign to Islam. Utterly convinced of the absolute justice of their cause, Muslims look upon Jews who defend themselves as “aggressors.” That Jews should kill Muslims (even in self-defense) enrages these Quranic believers and arouses in them a relentless and all-consuming desire for revenge unlimited by the passage of time.
The civilized idea of “enemies in war, in peace friends”—proclaimed in the American Declaration of Independence—contradicts Islamic culture and eschatology. This idea presupposes an international community of sovereign nation-states which, despite frequent wars, acknowledges that people can be friends despite their differences. Nothing in Islamic history affirms this basic principle of civilization. To reject this principle is to exalt war on the one hand, and to deny the sanctity of human life on the other—precisely the ethos of Jihad.
There is but one honest conclusion to be drawn from this fourteen-century Islamic ethos: Israel will not enjoy genuine peace with its neighbors so long as Muslims remain Muslims! (Syrian-born psychiatrist Dr. Wafa Sultan concludes that Islam must be “transformed,” not merely “reformed.”)
Harkabi’s aforementioned book provides an abundance of documentary evidence to confirm this conclusion, a conclusion obscured by his relativism. This relativism has stultified the mentality of Israel’s ruling elites: politicians and judges, academics and journalists. Despite Arab barbarism, they stubbornly refuse to acknowledge and confront the enormity of evil that animates Israel’s enemies, and they persist in negotiating with these Janus-faced Jew-haters whose fanaticism, sterility, and love of death constitute the negation of civilization.
Israel desperately needs a new dispensation, one that transcends this stupefying and spiritless era of relativism. Needed is a dispensation conducive to the ascendancy of men of truth and moral courage. I see no such men in the secular democratic world, enslaved in nihilism, materialism, and moral egalitarianism—a world that deprives life and mankind of meaning and purpose, a world that blurs distinctions between good and evil and between what is noble and what is base. Needed, therefore, is a renaissance of Hebraic civilization.
The first, practical step in this renaissance is to advance into leadership a man who will take a non-compromising position on the Land of Israel. By itself, this position entails fidelity to the People of Israel. At the same time, this bold refusal to negotiate over the Land of Israel will generate spiritual courage and confidence throughout the Jewish People and lead to a renaissance of Hebraic civilization, whose rationality, creativity and love of life constitute the source of the West’s most precious beliefs and values.