2008-05-17

Macro and Micro religious extremism

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by Neil Godfrey

It is easy to identify and deplore the micro religious extremists, those who believe in chopping off heads and limbs and whipping the flesh in between those extremities or just stoning the whole lot because that’s what some ancient holy book requires.

If we think of decapitations as the working out of a micro fundamentalist/extremist vision, then I submit that a people who believes in the complete displacement by one race with another race (whom they regard as “the chosen people”) in a land because of what some ancient holy book requires is macro religious extremism.

If we are dismayed over a Wahabi court in Saudi Arabia making life and death distinctions by applying ancient religious injunctions over who persons were allowed to have sex with, then presumably we will be also dismayed over a governments and whole peoples justifying ethnic cleansing and displacement, and declaring one race as especially chosen with rights to do this, because of their devotion to an ancient holy text of theirs.

So we have the president of the United States pronouncing that his nation is fully on the side of macro religious extremism. Let’s call it racial religious extremism, justifying the displacement of one people with another on the grounds that the winners are “the chosen people”. As reported in Haaretz:

“Israel’s population may be just over 7 million. But when you confront terror and evil, you are 307 million strong, because America stands with you,” Bush said.

You have raised a modern society in the Promised Land, a light unto the nations that preserves the legacy of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And you have built a mighty democracy that will endure forever and can always count on America to stand at its side.”

He noted that Israel’s Declaration of Independence “was the redemption of an ancient promise given to Abraham, Moses, and David – a homeland for the chosen people in Eretz Yisrael.”

And the original inhabitants? As with the Biblical Canaanites, they are not worthy of humanizing. They are only defined as “terrorists” or “havens for terrorists”. And the society created by the chosen people in this ethnically cleansed land will be reserved for one race only, despite the few token exceptions of Arabs who are allowed to remain as citizens, with equal rights at least on paper:

“Israel will be celebrating its 120th anniversary as one of the world’s great democracies, a secure and flourishing homeland for the Jewish people.”

“America stands with you in breaking up terrorist networks and denying the extremists sanctuary.

The President might also have reminded his world audience that contrary to his professed past visions of a Palestinian state, the government he was backing as 307 million strong on the grounds of his own macro religious extremism is by its own charter implacably opposed to any such state. The illegal settlements in the occupied territories will continue until a Greater Israel is restored fully to the territories worthy of a Chosen People and in full accord with an ancient religious text.

If it is worth going to war, paying the price of state-sanctioned killing, in order to liberate women from Wahabi extremism and end barbarous legal and social customs among the micro religious extremists, is it really justifiable to stand up for macro religious extremism?

I have attempted to do my little bit to help inform a wider audience of the realities on the ground in Palestine and Israel with two new pages on this blog: Palestinian news sources and Replies to ADL propaganda.

  • 2008-05-18 08:54:57 UTC - 08:54 | Permalink

    It has become a ritual it seems for US Presidents in the last months of their terms to pop off to Israel and make noises about peace deals they know they’ll never be held accountable to keep. Just after Bush proclaimed the Zionist “right” of the “Chosen People” to occupy all the land given Abraham, Isaac and Jacob — a speech that was rightly said to be more openly Zionist than the public pronouncements of even Israeli Zionists — Bush follows up by promising that the Palestinians can have a “dream” come true! He did not even bother to visit the site where the Palestinian dreams focus. How could he? He had just assured the Israelis the right to any soil he would have stood on. But he did hold Abbas’s hand and said he had a broken heart over his people’s suffering. How comforting. How reassuring.

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