Exposing the Oxymorons
s I listened closely to
President George W. Bush's
State of the Union address, I
kept listening for references
to issues close to my own heart.
Finally, after hearing about some very
important social and domestic issues
and associated proposed legislation,
the president made a one-sentence ref-
erence to my own issue.
He said, "This administration is
interested in a 'peace' between a secure
Israel and a democratic Palestine."
Well, great! Who does not want that?
And, I am OK, Jack.
If the president is serious and knows
of what he speaks, those of us who
understand the geopolitical and philo-
sophical impossibility of a Palestinian
state can feel more secure by the presi-
dent asking for a "democratic
Palestinian state and a secure Israel."
That, of course, is an oxymoron. The
two concepts cannot possibly exist
simultaneously — certainly not in this
lifetime as not in the over 1,300 years
since Muhammad's forces poured out
of the Arabian peninsula.
There is no such thing in the whole
Jerome S. Kaufman is a Bloomfield
world as a democratic Arab state.
Since Palestine would, of course, be an
Arab state, why would anyone think
that "Palestine" would not simply be
more of the same? Maybe that is
President Bush's implied meaning?
And let us hope that Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon, once again
overwhelmingly elected by an enlight-
ened right-wing electorate, also under-
stands this concept as an oxymoron.
Surely both of these strong, astute
leaders know such a "democratic state"
would have only one goal — the elim-
ination of the Jewish state. Then the
"Palestinians" could return to being
simply Arabs and the manmade myth
of the "Palestinian" Arab would natu-
rally just disappear, along with Jordan,
into a greater Syria or a greater Iraq or
a greater Iran. Just get those infidels,
those hideous Jews, out of the way so
we can get on with the business of
But, the president did, in fact, to my
mind at least, make a number of refer-
ences to the State of Israel. I think he
might have done so inadvertently, not
thinking that Israel could possibly fall
Sensitivity And Common Sense
South Windsor, Conn.
IVIIT eve rolled up the
Taliban. Saddam Hussein
is surrounded, and what-
ever fate he chooses, you
can bet he will be gone within the year.
Every week there's news of another
terrorist cell eliminated, or another
financial conduit closed. It appears we
are waging a successful war on terror.
And although terrorist suspects hail
almost exclusively from Muslim commu-
nities, the White House is quick to point
out that this is no clash of civilizations.
President Bush tells us Islam is a peaceful
religion and what we are fighting is a
radical strain that is anathema to the true
nature of the Islamic tradition. Perhaps.
More likely, the tendencies of
Americans to be not seen as bigoted
has derailed critical thinking about
the complexities of modern-day Islam.
Joshua Lessard, is a freelance political
writer with a special focus on the Middle
East. The late Rabbi Milton Rosenbaum
of Temple Emanu-El in Oak Park was
his grandfather; his other grandfather,
the late Sanford Gordon, was a past
president of Ahavas Achim Synagogue in
Detroit. Lessard's e-mail address is
But these tendencies belie our under-
standing of the great religion and its
impact on Muslims today.
Ignorance is not a sign of respect.
Religious Christians are aware of how
their religion has been used for evil. The
Talmud blames the destruction of the
Second Temple on Jewish zealots, and
the Jews have suffered two millennia of
impotence; time spent on intensive
introspection. Islam, which has shown
tolerance in the past, desperately needs
reformation. It is imperative that mod-
erate voices overtake the growing ranks
of adherents' acceptance of Islamic duty
as a kamikaze mission against the
Western, liberal democratic tradition.
But this cannot happen without a tacit
understanding, on our part, that the loud-
est voices speaking for Islam are indeed
engaging us in a war of civilizations.
Yet, academia has largely turned the
tables on independent thought and
healthy debate on the nature of con-
temporary Islam. The prevailing view,
espoused by academia, is one of
American insensitivity to Islam at large.
Their fundamental misunderstand-
ing of the aims of this jihad, coupled
with their pet causes of diversity and
sensitivity, effectively negate any call
under these particular con-
ful partner would simply
cepts and declarations. He said
destroy their weapons of
several things that might fall
destruction." Again, that's
into what, let us call, "inadver-
easy. Just slip in the Israel
tent references to Israel."
Defense Forces for United
• "The course of this nation
Nations and Palestinian
does not depend upon the
Authority for Iraq.
decisions of others." President
• "It is not a United States
Bush was referring to the
JERO ME S.
option trusting in the strategy
United Nations, the
KAUF MAN of Saddam Hussein." Great!
European nations and all oth-
All we have to do is substitute
ers whose interests might be
the name Arafat for Hussein.
contrary to those of the
• Finally, "Feb. 5, 2003, the
United States. Well, I suppose
U.N. will specially convene
he meant "this nation" must also refer and [U.S. Secretary of State] Colin
to the State of Israel?
Powell will present the United States
• "Americans and the world will not
case for war on Iraq." Great again.
be blackmailed by North Korea."
Just replace Powell with Sharon and
Well, that's easy. Just substitute the
Israel for the United States and
words Israelis for Americans and
Palestinian Authority for Iraq.
Palestinian Arabs for North Koreans
There! The word game is complete
and the reference is exact.
and all my anxieties about President
• "Saddam Hussein will not dominate
Bush's State of the Union speech and
a vital region and threaten the interests his references to Israel - came to naught.
of the United States of America."
He talked about Israel in the most
Great! Again just substitute the words
favorable of terms throughout the
Yasser Arafat for Saddam Hussein and
speech. Surely he must plan to contin-
the State of Israel for the United States ue as a staunch, dedicated, consistent,
unambiguous ally of the only legiti
• "The United Nations inspection
mate democracy in the Middle East —
team in Iraq should not be on a scav-
the State of Israel. Thank you very
enger hunt. Rather a genuine peace-
much, Mr. President. 0
Middle East Forum director
erful American institution
Daniel Pipes discussed in his
from aiding voices of modera-
article "Jihad and the
tion and reform in Islam.
Professors" ( Commentary,
And we aren't being helped
November 2002), the down-
by the duplicity of such
playing of the concept of jihad..
organizations as the Council
While he concedes that most
on American Islamic
academics seem to be "acting
Relations (CAIR). While they
out of the impulses of political
claim to be a mouthpiece
correctness" he reveals that
against Muslim discrimina-
there are some in academia
tion, and a moderate organi-
who have a different purpose.
their record shows
He claims "they are endeavor-
them to be apologists for ter-
ing to camouflage a threatening con-
ror and Islamic domination.
cept by rendering its terms acceptable
Their claim that the conviction of
within university discourse."
Omar Abdel Rahman was a "hate
Another case in point is Columbia
crime" and the conviction of the 1993
University's city-wide lesson plan titled
World Trade Center bombers was a
"(Re)Embracing Diversity in NYC
"travesty of justice" shows them for
Public Schools: Educational Outreach
what they are.
for Muslim Sensitivity." This plan preys
They purport to speak for the mil-
on our sense of fair play. For example,
lions of American Muslims, and by
one lesson calls for intensive discussion
doing so, effectively silence another
on the merits of profiling and the poten-
powerful voice for Islamic reform.
tial for civil rights violations of Muslims
The war on terror will not be won
without focusing on the negative — very
simply by the successful overthrow of
real aspects of Muslim belligerence in
Saddam. Until we move to expose the
places like the Sudan, Nigeria, Pakistan,
true nature of the regimes in the
Chechnya or the Middle East.
Middle East and change them, and
The academic's prescription of order-
until Americans can get past our mis-
ing another round of sensitivity and
placed sensitivities and come to our
diversity training for Americans implic-
senses about the problems inherent in
itly condones the actions of extremist
today's spokesmen for Islam, we will
Islam and confuses the issue. The result
not secure the future of our liberal
is a smokescreen that precludes a pow-