The forceful response by political and religious leaders around the world, including Muslims, to the murder of a dozen people at Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris is most hopeful. Even more impressive were spontaneous vigils by ordinary citizens declaring that the pen is mightier than the sword and that free speech should never be silenced by violence.
“Theocratic fascism” is the ideology of Muslim extremists, not Islam, and, hopefully, mainstream Muslims will realize that they are threatened more by Islamic radicals than by depictions and cartoons of the Prophet.
The more that the rest of us work to integrate Muslims into pluralistic Western societies, the less they will be attracted to the politics of angry, alienated murderers. We are more open to integrating Muslims in the United States than in Europe for we have created a society that prides itself on diversity. At University Synagogue, our shared annual programming with the Muslim Pacifica Institute is one such example.
Israel faces this test, as well – to be ever vigilant against terrorism, while granting societal integration and equal rights to its own Arab citizens and a meaningful path for a negotiated two-state solution for Palestinians beyond the 1967 borders. But Israel can’t do it alone – it needs a willing partner.
We’ll discuss terrorism and cybersecurity along with politics, religion, economics and the upcoming Israeli elections with the Merage Israeli Fellows at Synaplex Shabbat Alive services on Friday, January 16. Join us for Shabbat dinner with Merage Israeli Fellows at each table at 6:00 p.m. (RSVP) and for services at 7:00 p.m., followed by my dialogue and your questions with these gifted, creative and bright Israeli CEOs and MBAs.
The world is more dangerous and unpredictable than we would wish, but we can work together to make it less so.
Rabbi Arnold Rachlis