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August 08, 2003 - Image 68

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-08-08

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Arts Entertainment

On The Bookshelf

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What Comes After Jihad?

In a new book, scholar Noah Feldman proposes
that Islamic democracy is, indeed, possible.

Family Owned For Over 50 Years

Lieberman Orthodox," has impressive
credentials to offer his analysis. He
graduated from Harvard with a bache-
lor's degree in Near Eastern languages
primer for both a popular
in 1992. Following his graduation, he
American audience and
went to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. In
U.S. foreign policymakers,
1994, he earned a doctorate from
After Jihad (Farrar, Straus
Oxford in Islamic thought and in 1997
and Giroux; $24) by Noah Feldman_is
a law degree from Yale Law School.
an insightful look into why Islam and
With a background in both Islamic
democracy are compatible and why
the U.S. government should urge their studies and U.S. constitutional law, it
is little wonder why Feldman (current-
merger in the Muslim world.
After Jihad is an important contribu- ly an assistant professor of law at New
York University) was named by the
tion to the post-Sept 11 political dis-
U.S. government as American adviser
course in the United States for two
to the drafting of the Iraqi constitu-
reasons.
tion.
First, it includes an
Feldman spends
analysis of the U.S.
much
of the first
war in Afghanistan
part of After Jihad
and a possible post-
attempting to rede-
Saddam Iraq (After
fine the popularly
Jihad was published
held conceptual
concurrent with the
parameters that sur-
actual U.S. invasion).
round the question
The author clarifies
of Islam's compati-
how, post-Sept. 11,
bility with democra-
U.S. foreign policy
relates to creating a
cY.
He states that
feasible Islamic
"[to] speak about
democracy.
Islam and democra-
Second, Feldman
cy as ideas, not as
argues that Americans
civilizations or cul-
and their government
tures or worldviews,
must not be driven
Noah Feldman: "Contrary to what takes nothing away
and limited to a for-
is sometimes believed in the U.S,
from their aspira-
eign policy formulat-
Islam
is not inherently committed
tions to truth, their
ed to combat terrorist
to the overthrow oP7estern ideals," depth or their effect
organizations such as
writes the author.
on human conduct;
Al-Qaeda. While
nor does it imply
Sept. 11 may have
that democracy and Islam must be
prompted a more active (and militaris-
reduced to just one idea each."
tic) role by the United States in the
Feldman has correctly assumed that
Muslim world, it should not guide the
while it is a popularly held belief that
United States' long-term goals or
Al-Qaeda is not representative of Islam,
interests.
Al-Qaeda and the Taliban are most like-
What is needed instead, argues
ly viewed as representative of all groups
Feldman, is a forward-looking for-
who seek to incorporate Islamic con-
eign policy that is best for long-term
cepts into a country's political system.
U.S. interests in the Muslim world,
Thus, to avoid the common misper-
not short-term urgencies. Enter the
ception that defines Islamic political
promotion of democracy in the
movements and parties only as ones
Muslim world.
that use violent means to suppress,
The author, born in 1970 in Boston
Feldman
instead treats both Islam and
to a Jewish family he calls "Joe
democracy as flexible and mobile
Kevin Schwartz, formerly of West
ideas, both of which have changed
Bloomfield, recently earned a master's
according to geography and history.
By doing so, Feldman is able to pro-
degree in Middle Eastern studies from
vide the "Islamic democracy" debate
Harvard University.

KEVIN SCHWARTZ

Special to the Jewish News

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