Every Jew is not a Muslim foe!

Published: May 7, 2014
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Orthodox Jews in support of Palestine. PHOTO: AFP

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 an 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 stateI 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 some Muslim suggests that I, as a non-Muslim, should not take interest in Islam, then how does he/she expect non-Muslims to not 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 same. 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. There are Israeli -Jewish journalists ridiculing their own extremist leaders and peace-loving Israelis are vocal on social media too. There are also strongly anti-Zionist religious Jews in Israel itself, who want to undo the creation of Israel and live as Palestinian citizens though, I do not believe this is a practical proposition. Moreover, there is a group of Jewish women called ‘Women in Black’ who protest against human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territories and as one of their members, following the noble tenets of Judaism, puts it,

“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 (refer to verse 5:32 of the Quran).

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 (Shahi Bukhari, Volume 3, Book 43, Hadith 624) . 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, ‘Yeir Lapid’, 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 even by many moderate Palestinians, but that will only be possible only if a section of Palestinians resorting to terrorism gives up that un-Islamic path, which in turn gives Israel its much needed sense of security to the effect that Palestinians recognise its right to exist.

The creation of Israel was wrong even in my opinion (though there are many people, including those, who are not in the least prejudiced against Muslims and even many Muslims themselves who 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 partition refugees in India and Pakistan now going back to their homelands on the other side of the border and trying to reclaim their houses from those currently living there or Red Indians in Canada and the United States wanting to drive out everyone else living in those countries (including many Muslims, many of Pakistani origin).

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, verse 2:224 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.

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Karmanye Thadani

Karmanye Thadani

A lawyer by qualification, he 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 did research on primary education in India. While in high school, with a friend, he invented an eco-friendly, medically safe cleansing agent that was selected to be presented at the national level in the Intel Science Fair. He tweets as @KarmanyeThadan1 (twitter.com/KarmanyeThadan1)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.