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The Crescent and the Cross

Religion and Community in the Balkans


Sam Vaknin

Editing and Design:
Lidija Rangelovska

A Narcissus Publications Imprint
Prague & Haifa 2014

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Throughout this book click on blue-lettered text to navigate to different chapters
or to access online resources

1. The Crescent and the Cross: Religion and Community in the Balkans
2. The Clash of Islam and Liberalism
3. The Elders of Zion
4. A Dialog about Anti-Semitism
5. Muslims: Europes New Jews
Author Bio

The Crescent and the Cross: Religion and Community in the Balkans
"There are two maxims for historians which so harmonise with what I know of
history that I would like to claim them as my own, though they really belong to
nineteenth-century historiography: first, that governments try to press upon the
historian the key to all the drawers but one, and are anxious to spread the belief
that this single one contains no secret of importance; secondly, that if the historian
can only find the thing which the government does not want him to know, he will
lay his hand upon something that is likely to be significant."
Herbert Butterfield, "History and Human Relations", London, 1951, p. 186

The Balkans as a region is a relatively novel way of looking at the discrete nation-
states that emerged from the carcasses of the Ottoman and Habsburg Empires and
fought over their spoils.
This sempiternal fight is a determinant of Balkan identity. The nations of the
Balkan are defined more by ornery opposition than by cohesive identities. They
derive sustenance and political-historical coherence from conflict. It is their
afflatus. The more complex the axes of self-definition, the more multifaceted and
intractable the conflicts. Rabid nationalism against utopian regionalism, fascism
(really, opportunism) versus liberalism, religion-tinted traditionalism (the local
moribund edition of conservatism) versus "Western" modernity.
Who wins is of crucial importance to world peace.
The Balkan is a relatively new political entity. Formerly divided between the
decrepit Ottoman Empire and the imploding Austro-Hungarian one - the countries
of the Balkans emerged as unique polities only during the 19th century. This was
to be expected as a wave of nationalism swept Europe and led to the formation of
the modern, bureaucratic state as we know it.
Even so, the discrete entities that struggled to the surface of statehood did not feel
that they shared a regional destiny or identity. All they did was fight ferociously,
ruthlessly and mercilessly over the corrupted remnants of the Sick Men of Europe
(the above mentioned two residual empires). In this, they proved themselves to be
the proper heirs of their former masters: murderous, suborned, Byzantine and
In an effort to justify their misdeeds and deeds, the various nations - true and
concocted - conjured up histories, languages, cultures and documents, some real,
mostly false. They staked claims to the same territories, donned common heritage
where there was none, spoke languages artificially constructed and lauded a culture
hastily assembled by "historians" and "philologists".
These were the roots of the great evil - the overlapping claims, the resulting
intolerance, the mortal, existential fear stoked by the kaleidoscopic conduct of the
Big Powers. To recognize the existence of the Macedonian identity - was to
threaten the Greek or Bulgarian ones. To accept the antiquity of the Albanians was
to dismantle Macedonia, Serbia and Greece. To countenance Bulgarian demands
was to inhumanly penalize its Turk citizens. It was a zero-sum game played
viciously by everyone involved. The prize was mere existence - the losers
It very nearly came to that during the two Balkan Wars of 1912 and 1913.
Allies shifted their allegiance in accordance with the shifting fortunes of a most
bewildering battlefield. When the dust settled, two treaties later, Macedonia was
dismembered by its neighbours, Bulgaria bitterly contemplated the sour fruits of its
delusional aggression and Serbia and Austro-Hungary rejoiced. Thus were the
seeds of World War I sown.
The Yugoslav war of succession (or civil war) was a continuation of this mayhem
by other means. Yugoslavia was born in sin, in the dictatorship of King Alexander
I (later slain in France in 1934). It faced agitation, separatism and discontent from
its inception. It was falling apart when the second world conflagration erupted. It
took a second dictatorship - Tito's - to hold it together for another 40 years.
The Balkan as a whole - from Hungary, through Romania and down to Bulgaria -
was prone to authoritarianism and an atavistic, bloody form of racist, "peasant or
native fascism". A primitive region of destitute farmers and vile politicians, it was
exposed to world gaze by the collapse of communism. There are encouraging signs
of awakening, of change and adaptation. There are dark omens of reactionary
forces, of violence and wrath. It is a battle fought in the unconscious of humanity
itself. It is a tug of war between memories and primordial drives repressed and the
vitality of those still close to nature.
The outcome of this fight is crucial to the world. Both world wars started in central
eastern and south-eastern Europe. Globalization is no guarantee against a third one.
The world was more globalized than it is today at the beginning of the century -
but it took only one shot in Sarajevo to make this the most sanguineous century of
An added problem is the simple-mindedness, abrasiveness and sheer historical
ignorance of America, the current superpower. A nation of soundbites and black or
white stereotypes, it is ill-suited to deal with the nuanced, multilayered and
interactive mayhem that is the Balkan. A mentality of western movies - good guys,
bad guys, shoot'em up - is hardly conducive to a Balkan resolution. The intricate
and drawn out process required taxes American impatience and bullying
tendencies to their explosive limits.
In the camp of the good guys, the Anglo-Saxons place Romania, Greece,
Montenegro and Slovenia (with Macedonia, Croatia, Albania and Bulgaria
wandering in and out). Serbia is the epitome of evil. Milosevic is Hitler. Such uni-
dimensional thinking sends a frisson of rubicund belligerence down American
It tends to ignore reality, though. Montenegro is playing the liberal card deftly, no
doubt - but it is also a haven of smuggling and worse. Slovenia is the civilized
facade that it so tediously presents to the world - but it also happened to have
harboured one of the vilest fascist movements, comparable to the Ustasha - the
Domobranci. It shares with Croatia the narcissistic grandiose fantasy that it is not a
part of the Balkan - but rather an outpost of Europe - and the disdain for its
impoverished neighbours that comes with it. In this sense, it is more "Balkanian"
than many of them. Greece is now an economically stable and mildly democratic
country - but it used to be a dictatorship and it still is a banana republic in more
than one respect. The Albanians - ferociously suppressed by the Serbs and (justly)
succoured by the West - are industrious and shrewd people. But - fervent
protestations to the contrary aside - they do seem to be intent on dismantling and
recombining both Yugoslavia (Serbia) and Macedonia, perhaps at a terrible cost to
all involved. Together with the Turks, the Serbs and the Bulgarians, the Albanians
are the undisputed crime lords of the Balkan (and beyond - witness their
incarceration rates in Switzerland).
This is the Balkan - a florilegium of contradictions within contraventions, the
mawkish and the jaded, the charitable and the deleterious, the feckless and the
bumptious, evanescent and exotic, a mystery wrapped in an enigma.
"In accordance with this [right to act], whenever some one of the infidel parents or
some other should oppose the giving up of his son for the Janiccaries, he is
immediately hanged from his doorsill, his blood being deemed unworthy."
Turkish firman, 1601
"...The Turks have built several fortresses in my kingdom and are very kind to the
country folk. They promise freedom to every peasant who converts to Islam."
Bosnian King Stefan Tomasevic to Pope Pius I I
"...The Porte treated him (the patriarch) as part of the Ottoman political apparatus.
As a result, he had certain legally protected privileges. The Patriarch travelled in
'great splendour' and police protection was provided by the Janiccaries. His horse
and saddle were fittingly embroidered, and at the saddle hung a small sword as a
symbol of the powers bestowed on him by the Sultan."
Dusan Kasic, "The Serbian Church under the Turks", Belgrade, 1969

Within the space of 500 years, southeast Europe has undergone two paradigmatic
shifts. First, from Christian independence to Islamic subjugation (a gradual process
which consumed two centuries) and then, in the 19th century, from self-
determination through religious affiliation to nationalism. The Christians of the
Balkan were easy prey. They were dispirited peasantry, fragmented, prone to
internecine backstabbing and oppressive regimes. The new Ottoman rulers treated
both people and land as their property. They enslaved some of their prisoners of
war (under the infamous "pencik" clause), exiled thousands and confiscated their
lands and liquidated the secular political elites in Thrace, Bulgaria, Serbia and
Albania. The resulting vacuum of leadership was filled by the Church. Thus,
paradoxically, it was Islam and its excesses that made the Church the undisputed
shepherd of the peoples of the Balkan, a position it did not enjoy before. The new
rulers did not encourage conversions to their faith for fear of reducing their tax
base - non-Moslem "zimmis" (the Qur'an's "People of the Book") paid special (and
heavy) taxes to the treasury and often had to bribe corrupt officials to survive.
Still, compared to other Ottoman exploits (in Anatolia, for instance), the conquest
of the Balkan was a benign affair. Cities remained intact, the lands were not
depopulated and the indiscriminately ferocious nomadic tribesmen that usually
accompanied the Turkish forces largely stayed at home. The Ottoman bureaucracy
took over most aspects of daily life soon after the military victories, bringing with
it the leaden stability that was its hallmark. Indeed, populations were dislocated
and re-settled as a matter of policy called "sorgun". Yet such measures were
intended mainly to quell plangent rebelliousness and were applied mainly to the
urban minority (for instance, in Constantinople).
The Church was an accomplice of the Turkish occupiers. It was a part of the
Ottoman system of governance and enjoyed both its protection and its funding. It
was leveraged by the Turk sultans in their quest to pacify their subjects. Mehmet II
bestowed upon the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, its bishops and clergy great
powers. The trade off was made explicit in Mehmet's edicts: the Church accepted
the earthly sovereignty of the sultan - and he, in turn, granted them tolerance,
protection and even friendship. The Ottoman religious-legal code, the Seriat,
recognized the Christian's right to form their own religiously self-governing
communities. These communities were not confined to the orderly provision of
worship services. They managed communal property as well. Mehmet's
benevolence towards the indigents was so legendary that people wrongly attributed
to him the official declaration of a "Millet i Rum" (Roman, or Greek, nation) and
the appointment of Gennadios as patriarch of the Orthodox Church (which only an
episcopal synod could do).
The Ottoman Empire was an amazing hybrid. As opposed to popular opinion it
was not a religious entity. The ruling elite included members of all religions. Thus,
one could find Christian "askeri " (military or civil officials) and Muslim "reaya"
("flock" of taxpayers). It is true that Christians paid the arbitrarily set "harac" (or,
less commonly, "cizye") in lieu of military service. Even the clergy were not
exempt (they even assisted in tax collection). But both Christians and Muslims
paid the land tax, for instance. And, as the fairness, transparency and predictability
of the local taxmen deteriorated - both Muslims and Christians complained.
The main problem of the Ottoman Empire was devolution - not centralization.
Local governors and tax collectors had too much power and the sultan was too
remote and disinterested or too weak and ineffective. The population tried to get
Istanbul MORE involved - not less so. The population was financially fleeced as
much by the Orthodox Church as it was by the sultan. A special church-tax was
levied on the Christian reaya and its proceeds served to secure the lavish lifestyles
of the bishops and the patriarch. In true mob style, church functionaries divided the
loot with Ottoman officials in an arrangement known as "peskes". Foreign powers
contributed to the war chests of various candidates, thus mobilizing them to
support pro-Catholic or pro-Protestant political stances and demands. The church
was a thoroughly corrupt, usurious and politicized body which contributed greatly
to the ever increasing misery of its flock. It was a collaborator in the worst sense of
the word.
But the behaviour of the church was one part of the common betrayal by the elite
of the Balkan lands. Christian landowners volunteered to serve in the Ottoman
cavalry ("sipahis") in order to preserve their ownership. The Ottoman rulers
conveniently ignored the laws prohibiting "zimmis" to carry weapons. Until 1500,
the "sipahis" constituted the bulk of the Ottoman forces in the Balkan and their
mass conversion to Islam was a natural continuation of their complicity. Other
Christians guarded bridges or mountain passes for a tax exemption ("derbentci").
Local, Turkish-trained militias ("armatoles") fought mountain-based robber gangs
(Serbian "hayduks", Bulgarian "haiduts", Greek "klephts"). The robbers attacked
Turkish caravans with the same frequency and zeal that they sacked Christian
settlements. The "armatoles" resisted them by day and joined them by night. But it
was perfectly acceptable to join Turkish initiatives such as this.
The Balkan remained overwhelmingly Christian throughout the Ottoman period.
Muslim life was an urban phenomenon both for reasons of safety and because only
the cities provided basic amenities. Even in the cities, though, the communities
lived segregated in "mahalles" (quarters). Everyone collaborated in public life but
the "mahalles" were self-sufficient affairs with the gamut of services - from hot
baths to prayer services - available "in-quarter". Gradually, the major cities,
situated along the trade routes, became Moslem. Skopje, Sarajevo and Sofia all had
sizeable Moslem minorities.
Thus, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, the picture that emerges is one of
an uneasy co-habitation in the cities and a Christian rural landscape. The elites of
the Balkan - church, noblemen, warriors - all defected and collaborated with the
former "enemy". The local populace was the victim of usurious taxes, coercively
applied. The central administration shared the loot with its local representatives
and with the indigenous elites - the church and the feudal landed gentry. It was a
cosy and pragmatic arrangement that lasted for centuries.
Yet, the seeds of Ottoman bestiality and future rebellion were sown from the very
inception of this empire-extending conquest. The "devsirme" tax was an example
of the fragility of the Turkish veneer of humanity and enlightened rule. Christian
sons were kidnapped, forcibly converted to Islam and trained as fighters in the
fearsome Janiccary Corps (the palace Guards). They were never to see their
families and friends again. Exemptions from this barbarous practice were offered
only to select communities which somehow contributed to Ottoman rule in the
Balkan. Christian women were often abducted by local Ottoman dignitaries. and
the custom of the "kepin", allowed Moslems to "buy" a Christian daughter off her
husband on a "temporary" basis. The results of such a union were raised as
And then there were the mass conversions of Christians to Islam. These
conversions were very rarely the results of coercion or barbarous conduct. On the
contrary, by shrinking the tax base and the recruitment pool, conversion were
unwelcome and closely scrutinized by the Turks. But to convert was such an
advantageous and appealing act that the movement bordered on mass hysteria.
Landowners converted to preserve their title to the land. "Sipahis" converted to
advance in the ranks of the military. Christian officials converted to maintain their
officialdom. Ordinary folk converted to avoid onerous taxes. Christian traders
converted to Islam to be able to testify in court in case of commercial litigation.
Converted Moslems were allowed to speak Arabic or their own language, rather
than the cumbersome and elaborate formal Turkish. Christians willingly traded
eternal salvation for earthly benefits. And, of course, death awaited those who
recanted (like the Orthodox "New Martyrs", who discovered their Christian
origins, having been raised as Moslems).
Perhaps this was because, in large swathes of the Balkan, Christianity never really
took hold. It was adopted by the peasant as a folk religion - as was Islam later. In
Bosnia, for instance, Muslims and Christians were virtually indistinguishable.
They prayed in each other's shrines, celebrated each other's holidays and adopted
the same customs. Muslim mysticism (the Sufi orders) appealed to many
sophisticated urban Christians. Heretic cults (like the Bogomils) converted en
masse. Intermarriage flourished, mainly between Muslim men (who could not
afford the dowry payable to a Muslim woman) and Christian women (who had to
pay a dowry to her Muslim husband's family). Marrying a Christian woman was a
lucrative business proposition.
And, then, of course, there was the Moslem birth rate. With four women and a
pecuniary preference for large families - Moslem out-bred Christians at all times.
This trend is most pronounced today but it was always a prominent demographic
But the success of Islam to conquer the Balkan, rule it, convert its population and
prevail in it - had to do more with the fatal flaws of Balkan Christianity than with
the appeal and resilience of Islam and its Ottoman rendition. In the next chapter I
will attempt to ponder the complex interaction between Catholicism and Orthodox
Christianity as it was manifested in Croatia and Bosnia, the border lands between
the Habsburg and the Ottoman empires and between "Rome" and "Byzantium". I
will then explore the variance in the Ottoman attitudes towards various Christian
communities and the reasons underlying this diversity of treatment modalities.
"From the beginning, people of different languages and religions were permitted to
live in Christian lands and cities, namely Jews, Armenians, Ismaelites, Agarenes
and others such as these, except that they do not mix with Christians, but rather
live separately. For this reason, places have been designated for these according to
ethnic group, either within the city or without, so that they may be restricted to
these and not extend their dwelling beyond them."
Bishop Demetrios Khomatianos of Ohrid, late 12th century and early 13th
century AD
"The Latins still have not been anathematized, nor has a great ecumenical council
acted against them ... And even to this day this continues, although it is said that
they still wait for the repentance of the great Roman Church."
" not overlook us, singing with deaf ears, but give us your understanding,
according to sacred precepts, as you yourself inspired the apostles ... You see,
Lord, the battle of many years of your churches. Grant us humility, quiet the storm,
so that we may know in each other your mercy, and we may not forget before the
end the mystery of your love ... May we coexist in unity with each other, and
become wise also, so that we may live in you and in your eternal creator the Father
and in his only-begotten Word. You are life, love, peace, truth, and sanctity..."
East European Studies Occasional Paper, Number 47, "Christianity and I slam
in Southeastern Europe - Slavic Orthodox Attitudes toward Other Religions",
Eve Levin, J anuary 1997
" faced the serpent and the enemy of God's churches, having judged that it
would have been unbearable for your heart to see the Christians of your fatherland
overwhelmed by the Moslems (izmailteni); if you could not accomplish this, you
would leave the glory of your kingdom on earth to perish, and having become
purple with your blood, you would join the soldiers of the heavenly kingdom. In
this way, your two wishes were fulfilled. You killed the serpent, and you received
from God the wreath of martyrdom."
Mateja Matejic and Dragan Milivojevic, "An Anthology of Medieval Serbian
Literature in English", Columbus, Ohio: Slavica, 1978

Any effort to understand the modern quagmire that is the Balkan must address
religion and religious animosities and grievances. Yet, the surprising conclusion of
such a study is bound to be that the role of inter-faith hatred and conflict has been
greatly exaggerated. The Balkan was characterized more by religious tolerance
than by religious persecution. It was a model of successful co-habitation and co-
existence even of the bitterest enemies of the most disparate backgrounds. Only the
rise of the modern nation-state exacerbated long-standing and hitherto dormant
tensions. Actually, the modern state was established on a foundation of artificially
fanned antagonism and xenophobia.
Religions in the Balkan were never monolithic enterprises. Competing influences,
paranoia, xenophobia and adverse circumstances all conspired to fracture the
religious landscape. Thus, for instance, though officially owing allegiance to the
patriarch in Constantinople and the Orthodox "oikumene", both Serb and Bulgarian
churches collaborated with the rulers of the day against perceived Byzantine
(Greek and Russian) political encroachment in religious guise. The southern Slav
churches rejected both the theology and the secular teachings of the "Hellenics"
and the "Romanians" (Romans). In turn, the Greek church held the Slav church in
disregard and treated the peasants of Macedonia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Albania to
savage rounds of tax collection. The Orthodox, as have all religions, berated other
confessions and denominations. But Orthodoxy was always benign - no "jihad", no
bloodshed, no forced conversions and no mass expulsions - perhaps with the
exception of the forcible treatment of the Bogomils.
It was all about power and money, of course. Bishops and archbishops did not
hesitate to co-opt the Ottoman administration against their adversaries. They had
their rivals arrested by the Turks or ex-communicated them. Such squabbles were
common. But they never amounted to more than a Balkanian comedia del-arte.
Even the Jews - persecuted all over western Europe - were tolerated and attained
prominence and influence in the Balkan. One Bulgarian Tsar divorced his wife to
marry a Jewess. Southern Orthodox Christianity (as opposed to the virulent and
vituperative Byzantine species) has always been pragmatic. The minorities (Jews,
Armenians, Vlachs) were the economic and financial backbone of their societies.
And the Balkan was always a hodge-podge of ethnicities, cultures and religions.
Shifting political fortunes ensured a policy of "hedging one's bets".
The two great competitors of Orthodox Christianity in the tight market of souls
were Catholicism and Islam. The former co-sponsored with the Orthodox Church
the educational efforts of Cyril and Methodius. Even before the traumatic schism
of 1054, Catholics and nascent Orthodox were battling over (lucrative) religious
turf in Bulgaria.
The schism was a telling affair. Ostensibly, it revolved around obscure theological
issues (who begat the Holy Spirit - the Father alone or jointly with the Son as well
as which type of bread should be used in the Eucharist). But really it was a clash of
authorities and interests - the Pope versus the patriarch of Constantinople, the
Romans versus the Greeks and Slavs. Matters of jurisdiction coalesced with
political meddling in a confluence of ill-will that has simmered for at least two
centuries. The southern (Slav) Orthodox churches contributed to the debate and
supported the Greek position. Sects such as the Hesychasts were more Byzantine
than the Greeks and denounced wavering Orthodox clergy. Many a south Orthodox
pilloried the Catholic stance as an heresy of Armenian or Apollinarian or Arian
origin - thus displaying their ignorance of the subtler points of the theological
debate. They also got wrong the Greek argumentation regarding the bread of the
Eucharist and the history of the schism. But zeal compensated for ignorance, as is
often the case in the Balkan.
What started as a debate - however fervent - about abstract theology became an all
out argument about derided customs and ceremonies. Diet, dates and divine
practices all starred in these grotesque exchanges. The Latin ate unclean beasts.
They used five fingers to cross themselves. They did not sing Hallelujah. They
allowed the consumption of dairy products in Lent. The list was long and
preposterous. The parties were spoiling for a fight. As is so often the case in this
accursed swathe of the earth, identity and delusional superiority were secured
through opposition and self-worth was attained through defiance. By relegating
them to the role of malevolent heretics, the Orthodox made the sins of the
Catholics unforgivable, their behaviour inexcusable, their fate sealed.
At the beginning, the attacks were directed at the "Latins" - foreigners from
Germany and France. Local Catholics were somehow dissociated and absolved
from the diabolical attributes of their fellow-believers abroad. They used the same
calendar as the Orthodox (except for Lent) and similarly prayed in Church
Slavonic. The only visible difference was the recognition of papal authority by the
Catholics. Catholicism presented a coherent and veteran alternative to Orthodoxy's
inchoate teachings. Secular authorities were ambiguous about how to treat their
Catholic subjects and did not hesitate to collaborate with Catholic authorities
against the Turks. Thus, to preserve itself as a viable religious alternative, the
Orthodox church had to differentiate itself from the Holy See. Hence, the flaming
debates and pejorative harangues.
The second great threat was Islam. Still, it was a latecomer. Catholicism and
Orthodoxy have been foes since the ninth century. Four hundreds years later,
Byzantine wars against the Moslems were a distant thunder and raised little
curiosity and interest in the Balkan. The Orthodox church was acquainted with the
tenets of Islamic faith but did not bother to codify its knowledge or record it. Islam
was, to it, despite its impeccable monotheistic credentials, an exotic Oriental off-
shoot of tribal paganism.
Thus, the Turkish invasion and the hardships of daily life under Ottoman rule
found Orthodoxy unprepared. It reacted the way we all react to fear of the
unknown: superstitions, curses, name calling. On the one hand, the Turkish enemy
was dehumanized and bedevilled. It was perceived to be God's punishment upon
the unfaithful and the sinful. On the other hand, in a curious transformation or a
cognitive dissonance, the Turks became a divine instrument, the wrathful
messengers of God. The Christians of the Balkan suffered from a post traumatic
stress syndrome. They went through the classical phases of grief. They started by
denying the defeat (in Kosovo, for instance) and they proceeded through rage,
sadness and acceptance.
All four phases co-existed in Balkan history. Denial by the many who resorted to
mysticism and delusional political thought. That the Turks failed for centuries to
subdue pockets of resistance (for instance in Montenegro) served to rekindle these
hopes and delusions periodically. Thus, the Turks (and, by extension, Islam) served
as a politically cohering factor and provided a cause to rally around. Rage
manifested through the acts against the occupying Ottomans of individuals or
rebellious groups. Sadness was expressed in liturgy, in art and literature, in music
and in dance. Acceptance by conceiving of the Turks as the very hand of God
Himself. But, gradually, the Turks and their rule came to be regarded as the work
of the devil as it was incurring the wrath of God.
But again, this negative and annihilating attitude was reserved to outsiders and
foreigners, the off-spring of Ishmael and of Hagar, the Latins and the Turks.
Moslem or Catholic neighbours were rarely, if ever, the target of such vitriolic
diatribes. External enemies - be they Christian or Moslem - were always to be
cursed and resisted. Neighbours of the same ethnicity were never to be punished or
discriminated against for their religion or convictions - though half-hearted
condemnations did occur. The geographical and ethnic community seems to have
been a critical determinant of identity even when confronted with an enemy at the
gates. Members of an ethnic community could share the same religious faith as the
invader or the heretic - yet this detracted none from their allegiance and place in
their society as emanating from birth and long term residence. These tolerance and
acceptance prevailed even in the face of Ottoman segregation of religious
communities in ethnically-mixed "millets". This principle was shattered finally by
the advent of the modern nation-state and its defining parameters (history and
language), real or (more often) invented. One could sometimes find members of
the same nuclear family - but of different religious affiliation. Secular rulers and
artisans in guilds collaborated unhesitatingly with Jews, Turks and Catholics.
Conversions to and fro were common practice, as ways to secure economic
benefits. These phenomena were especially prevalent in the border areas of Croatia
and Bosnia. But everyone, throughout the Balkan, shared the same rituals, the way
of life, the superstitions, the magic, the folklore, the customs and the habits
regardless of religious persuasion.
Where religions co-existed, they fused syncretically. Some Sufi sects (mainly
among the Janiccary) adopted Catholic rituals, made the sign of the cross, drank
alcohol and ate pork. The followers of Bedreddin were Jews and Christians, as well
as Moslems. Everybody shared miraculous sites, icons, even prayers. Orthodox
Slavs pilgrims to the holy places in Palestine were titled "Hadzi" and Moslems
were especially keen on Easter eggs and holy water as talismans of health.
Calendars enumerated the holidays of all religions, side by side. Muslim judges
("kadis") married Muslim men to non-Muslim women and inter-marriage was rife.
They also married and divorced Catholic couples, in contravention of the Catholic
faith. Orthodox and Catholic habitually intermarried and interbred.
That this background yielded Srebrenica and Sarajevo, Kosovo and Krajina is
astounding. It is the malignant growth of this century.

The Clash of Islam and Liberalism
Islam is not merely a religion. It is also - and perhaps, foremost - a state ideology. It is all-
pervasive and missionary. It permeates every aspect of social cooperation and culture. It is an
organizing principle, a narrative, a philosophy, a value system, and a vade mecum. In this it
resembles Confucianism and, to some extent, Hinduism.
Judaism and its offspring, Christianity - though heavily involved in political affairs
throughout the ages - have kept their dignified distance from such carnal matters. These are
religions of "heaven" as opposed to Islam, a practical, pragmatic, hands-on, ubiquitous,
"earthly" creed.
Secular religions - Democratic Liberalism, Communism, Fascism, Nazism, Socialism and
other isms - are more akin to Islam than to, let's say, Buddhism. They are universal,
prescriptive, and total. They provide recipes, rules, and norms regarding every aspect of
existence - individual, social, cultural, moral, economic, political, military, and philosophical.
At the end of the Cold War, Democratic Liberalism stood triumphant over the fresh graves of
its ideological opponents. They have all been eradicated. This precipitated Fukuyama's
premature diagnosis (the End of History). But one state ideology, one bitter rival, one
implacable opponent, one contestant for world domination, one antithesis remained - Islam.
Militant Islam is, therefore, not a cancerous mutation of "true" Islam. On the contrary, it is
the purest expression of its nature as an imperialistic religion which demands unmitigated
obedience from its followers and regards all infidels as both inferior and avowed enemies.
The same can be said about Democratic Liberalism. Like Islam, it does not hesitate to
exercise force, is missionary, colonizing, and regards itself as a monopolist of the "truth" and
of "universal values". Its antagonists are invariably portrayed as depraved, primitive, and
below par.
Such mutually exclusive claims were bound to lead to an all-out conflict sooner or later. The
"War on Terrorism" is only the latest round in a millennium-old war between Islam and other
"world systems".
Such interpretation of recent events enrages many. They demand to know (often in harsh
- Dont you see any differences between Islam on the one hand and Judaism and
Christianity on the other?
Islam is a young religion, less than 1400 years old. When Judaism and Christianity were at
this phase of their development, they resembled Islam today: they were rife with militancy,
obscurantism, misogyny, missionary belligerence, and all-pervading, dogmatic intolerance.
- Don't you see any difference between terrorists who murder civilians and regular armies
in battle?
Both regulars and irregulars slaughter civilians as a matter of course. "Collateral damage" is
the main outcome of modern, total warfare - and of low intensity conflicts alike.
There is a major difference between terrorists and soldiers, though:
Terrorists make carnage of noncombatants their main tactic - while regular armies rarely do.
Such conduct is criminal and deplorable, whoever the perpetrator.
But what about the killing of combatants in battle? How should we judge the slaying of
soldiers by terrorists in combat?
Modern nation-states enshrined the self-appropriated monopoly on violence in their
constitutions and ordinances (and in international law). Only state organs - the army, the
police - are permitted to kill, torture, and incarcerate.
Terrorists are trust-busters: they, too, want to kill, torture, and incarcerate. They seek to break
the death cartel of governments by joining its ranks.
Thus, when a soldier kills terrorists and ("inadvertently") civilians (as "collateral damage") -
it is considered above board. But when the terrorist decimates the very same soldier - he is
decried as an outlaw.
Moreover, the misbehavior of some countries - not least the United States - led to the
legitimization of terrorism. Often nation-states use terrorist organizations to further their
geopolitical goals. When this happens, erstwhile outcasts become "freedom fighters", pariahs
become allies, murderers are recast as sensitive souls struggling for equal rights. This
contributes to the blurring of ethical percepts and the blunting of moral judgment.
We must bear in mind that Islam is a relatively young religion, at a stage of its development
similar to 11
century Christianity: belligerent, missionary, exclusive, and committed to
Jihad (doing battle with ones frailties, foibles, and weaknesses in order to get closer to God).
In the Medieval Church, the various orders of ascetic monks reified this ideal of attaining
goodness and holiness by suppressing ones humanity and renouncing the world and its
temptations. In this sense, they were a mirror image of todays Islamic militants. Many of
them indeed went on to participate in the Crusades (warrior-monks such as the Knight
Templars and the Hospitaliers).
- Would you rather live under sharia law? Don't you find Liberal Democracy vastly
superior to I slam?
Superior, no. Different - of course. Having been born and raised in the West, I naturally
prefer its standards to Islam's. Had I been born in a Muslim country, I would have probably
found the West and its principles perverted and obnoxious.
The question is meaningless because it presupposes the existence of an objective, universal,
culture and period independent set of preferences. Luckily, there is no such thing.
- I n this clash of civilization whose side are you on?
This is not a clash of civilizations. Western medieval culture is inextricably intertwined with
Islamic knowledge, teachings, and philosophy the direct descendants of antiquity.
Christian fundamentalists have more in common with Muslim militants than with East Coast
or French intellectuals.
Muslims have always been the West's most defining Other. Islamic existence and "gaze"
helped to mold the West's emerging identity as a historical construct. From Spain to India, the
incessant friction and fertilizing interactions with Islam shaped Western values, beliefs,
doctrines, moral tenets, political and military institutions, arts, and sciences.
This war is about world domination. Two incompatible thought and value systems compete
for the hearts and minds (and purchasing power) of the denizens of the global village. Like in
the Westerns, by high noon, either one of them is left standing - or both will have perished.
Where does my loyalty reside?
I am a Westerner, so I hope the West wins this confrontation. But, in the process, it would be
good if it were humbled, deconstructed, and reconstructed. One beneficial outcome of this
conflict is the demise of the superpower system - a relic of days bygone and best forgotten. I
fully believe and trust that in militant Islam, the United States has found its match.
In other words, I regard militant Islam as a catalyst that will hasten the transformation of the
global power structure from unipolar to multipolar. It may also commute the United States
itself. It will definitely rejuvenate religious thought and cultural discourse. All wars do.
Aren't you overdoing it? After all, al-Qaida is just a bunch of terrorists on the run!
The West is not fighting al-Qaida. It is facing down the circumstances and ideas that gave
rise to al-Qaida. Conditions - such as poverty, ignorance, disease, oppression, and
xenophobic superstitions - are difficult to change or to reverse. Ideas are impossible to
suppress. Already, militant Islam is far more widespread and established that any Western
government would care to admit.
History shows that all terrorist groupings ultimately join the mainstream. Many countries -
from Israel to Ireland and from East Timor to Nicaragua - are governed by former terrorists.
Terrorism enhances social upward mobility and fosters the redistribution of wealth and
resources from the haves to haves not.
Al-Qaida, despite its ominous portrayal in the Western press - is no exception. It, too, will
succumb, in due time, to the twin lures of power and money. Nihilistic and decentralized as it
is - its express goals are the rule of Islam and equitable economic development. It is bound to
get its way in some countries.
The world of the future will be truly pluralistic. The proselytizing zeal of Liberal Democracy
and Capitalism has rendered them illiberal and intolerant. The West must accept the fact that
a sizable chunk of humanity does not regard materialism, individualism, liberalism, progress,
and democracy - at least in their Western guises - as universal or desirable.
Live and let live (and live and let die) must replace the West's malignant optimism and
intellectual and spiritual arrogance.
Edward K. Thompson, the managing editor of "Life" from 1949 to 1961, once wrote:
"'Life' must be curious, alert, erudite and moral, but it must achieve this without being
holier-than-thou, a cynic, a know-it-all or a Peeping Tom."
The West has grossly and thoroughly violated Thompson's edict. In its oft-interrupted
intercourse with these forsaken regions of the globe, it has acted, alternately, as a Peeping
Tom, a cynic and a know it all. It has invariably behaved as if it were holier-than-thou. In an
unmitigated and fantastic succession of blunders, miscalculations, vain promises, unkept
threats and unkempt diplomats - it has driven the world to the verge of war and the regions it
"adopted" to the threshold of economic and social upheaval.
Enamored with the new ideology of free marketry cum democracy, the West first assumed
the role of the omniscient. It designed ingenious models, devised foolproof laws, imposed
fail-safe institutions and strongly "recommended" measures. Its representatives, the tribunes
of the West, ruled the plebeian East with determination rarely equaled by skill or knowledge.
Velvet hands couched in iron gloves, ignorance disguised by economic newspeak,
geostrategic interests masquerading as forms of government, characterized their dealings with
the natives. Preaching and beseeching from ever higher pulpits, they poured opprobrium and
sweet delusions on the eagerly duped, naive, bewildered masses.
The deceit was evident to the indigenous cynics - but it was the failure that dissuaded them
and others besides. The West lost its former colonies not when it lied egregiously, not when it
pretended to know for sure when it surely did not know, not when it manipulated and coaxed
and coerced - but when it failed.
To the peoples of these regions, the king was fully dressed. It was not a little child but an
enormous debacle that exposed his nudity. In its presumptuousness and pretentiousness,
feigned surety and vain clichs, imported economic models and exported cheap raw materials
- the West succeeded to demolish beyond reconstruction whole economies, to ravage
communities, to wreak ruination upon the centuries-old social fabric, woven diligently by
It brought crime and drugs and mayhem but gave very little in return, only a horizon
beclouded and thundering with vacuous eloquence. As a result, while tottering regional
governments still pay lip service to the values of Capitalism, the masses are enraged and
restless and rebellious and baleful and anti-Western to the core.
The disenchanted were not likely to acquiesce for long - not only with the West's neo-
colonialism but also with its incompetence and inaptitude, with the nonchalant
experimentation that it imposed upon them and with the abyss between its proclamations and
its performance.
Throughout this time, the envoys of the West - its mediocre politicians, its insatiably ruthless
media, its obese tourists, its illiterate soldiers, and its armchair economists - continue to play
the role of God, wreaking greater havoc than even the original.
While confessing to omniscience (in breach of every tradition scientific and religious), they
also developed a kind of world weary, unshaven cynicism interlaced with fascination at the
depths plumbed by the locals' immorality and amorality.
The jet-set Peeping Toms reside in five star hotels (or luxurious apartments) overlooking the
communist, or Middle-Eastern, or African shantytowns. They drive utility vehicles to the
shabby offices of the native bureaucrats and dine in $100 per meal restaurants ("it's so cheap
In between kebab and hummus they bemoan and grieve the corruption and nepotism and
cronyism ("I simply love their ethnic food, but they are so..."). They mourn the
autochthonous inability to act decisively, to cut red tape, to manufacture quality, to open to
the world, to be less xenophobic (said while casting a disdainful glance at the native waiter).
To them it looks like an ancient force of nature and, therefore, an inevitability - hence their
cynicism. Mostly provincial people with horizons limited by consumption and by wealth,
these heralds of the West adopt cynicism as shorthand for cosmopolitanism. They
erroneously believe that feigned sarcasm lends them an air of ruggedness and rich experience
and the virile aroma of decadent erudition. Yet all it does is make them obnoxious and even
more repellent to the residents than they already were.
Ever the preachers, the West - both Europeans and Americans - uphold themselves as role
models of virtue to be emulated, as points of reference, almost inhuman or superhuman in
their taming of the vices, avarice up front.
Yet the chaos and corruption in their own homes is broadcast live, day in and day out, into
the cubicles inhabited by the very people they seek to so transform. And they conspire and
collaborate in all manner of venality and crime and scam and rigged elections in all the
countries they put the gospel to.
In trying to put an end to history, they seem to have provoked another round of it - more
vicious, more enduring, more traumatic than before. That the West is paying the price for its
mistakes I have no doubt. For isn't it a part and parcel of its teachings that everything has a
price and that there is always a time of reckoning?
Note - Globalization - Liberalism's Disastrous Gamble
From Venezuela to Thailand, democratic regimes are being toppled by authoritarian
substitutes: the military, charismatic left-wingers, or mere populists. Even in the USA, the
bastion of constitutional rule, civil and human rights are being alarmingly eroded (though not
without precedent in wartime).
The prominent ideologues of liberal democracy have committed a grave error by linking
themselves inextricably with the doctrine of freemarketry and the emerging new order of
globalization. As Thomas Friedman correctly observes in "The Lexus and the Olive Tree",
both strains of thought are strongly identified with the United States of America (USA).
Thus, liberal democracy came to be perceived by the multitudes as a ruse intended to
safeguard the interests of an emerging, malignantly narcissistic empire (the USA) and of
rapacious multinationals. Liberal democracy came to be identified with numbing, low-brow
cultural homogeneity, encroachment on privacy and the individual, and suppression of
national and other idiosyncratic sentiments.
Liberal democracy came to be confused and confuted with neo-colonial exploitation, social
Darwinism, and the crumbling of social compacts and long-standing treaties, both explicit
and implicit. It even came to be associated with materialism and a bewildering variety of
social ills: rising crime rates, unemployment, poverty, drug addiction, prostitution, organ
trafficking, monopolistic behavior, corporate malfeasance, and other antisocial forms of
The backlash was, thus, inevitable.
Note - Exclusionary I deas of Progress
Communism, Fascism, Nazism, and Religious Fundamentalism are as utopian as the classical
Idea of Progress, which is most strongly reified by Western science and liberal democracy.
All four illiberal ideologies firmly espouse a linear view of history: Man progresses by
accumulating knowledge and wealth and by constructing ever-improving polities. Similarly,
the classical, all-encompassing, idea of progress is perceived to be a "Law of Nature" with
human jurisprudence and institutions as both its manifestations and descriptions. Thus, all
ideas of progress are pseudo-scientific.
Still, there are some important distinctions between Communism, Fascism, Nazism, and
Religious Fundamentalism, on the one hand, and Western liberalism, on the other hand:
All four totalitarian ideologies regard individual tragedies and sacrifices as the inevitable
lubricant of the inexorable March Forward of the species. Yet, they redefine "humanity"
(who is human) to exclude large groups of people. Communism embraces the Working Class
(Proletariat) but not the Bourgeoisie, Nazism promotes one Volk but denigrates and
annihilates others, Fascism bows to the Collective but viciously persecutes dissidents,
Religious Fundamentalism posits a chasm between believers and infidels.
In these four intolerant ideologies, the exclusion of certain reviled groups of people is both a
prerequisite for the operation of the "Natural Law of Progress" and an integral part of its
motion forward. The moral and spiritual obligation of "real" Man to future generations is to
"unburden" the Law, to make it possible for it to operate smoothly and in optimal conditions,
with all hindrances (read: undesirables) removed (read: murdered).
All four ideologies subvert modernity (in other words, Progress itself) by using its products
(technology) to exclude and kill "outsiders", all in the name of servicing "real" humanity and
bettering its lot.
But liberal democracy has been intermittently guilty of the same sin. The same deranged
logic extends to the construction and maintenance of nuclear weapons by countries like the
USA, the UK, France, and Israel: they are intended to protect "good" humanity against "bad"
people (e.g., Communists during the Cold war, Arabs, or failed states such as Iran). Even
global warming is a symptom of such exclusionary thinking: the rich feel that they have the
right to tax the "lesser" poor by polluting our common planet and by disproportionately
exhausting its resources.
The fact is that, at least since the 1920s, the very existence of Mankind is being recurrently
threatened by exclusionary ideas of progress. Even Colonialism, which predated modern
ideologies, was inclusive and sought to "improve" the Natives" and "bring them to the White
Man's level" by assimilating or incorporating them in the culture and society of the colonial
power. This was the celebrated (and then decried) "White Man's Burden". That we no longer
accept our common fate and the need to collaborate to improve our lot is nothing short of

The Elders of Zion
I was shown the same book in Yugoslavia, in Macedonia and in Bulgaria - "The World
Conspiracy" - a shabby tome written by an ageing "scholar". The main, unabashedly anti-
Semitic, hypothesis (presented as undisputed fact) is that the Jews rule the world supreme -
always have, probably always will. Lists of prominent Jews in the world of international
finance reprinted with lists of influential Jews in the Soviet communist regime. And it all
amounts to a well organized secretive machinery of illicit power, claims the author with all
the persuasion of a paranoid. In here, trash magazines dwell endlessly on these and similar
Yet, anti-Semitism is only one species in a zoo of rumours, conspiracy theories, meta
histories and metaphysics. Superstitions, prejudices and calumny thrive in the putrid soil of
disinformation, mis-information and lack of information. In the void created by unreliable,
politicized and corrupt media - rumour mills spring eternal. It is a malignant growth, the
outcome of a breakdown of trust so compleat - that communication is rendered impossible.
This is the main characteristic of the East (from Russia to Albania): distrust. Citizens and
politicians, businessmen and government, the media and its consumers, manufacturers and
service providers, the sick and their doctors - all suspect each other of ulterior motives and
foul play. All are more often than not quite right to do so.
It is a Kafkaesque, sealed universe in which nothing is as it appears to be. This acrimonious
divorce between appearances and essence, facade and truth, the Potemkin and the real - is a
facet of daily life, of the most mundane exchanges, of the most trivial pursuits. Motives are
sought with increasing urgency - why did he do it, what did he try to achieve, why had he not
chosen a different path, why here, why with us, why now, what can it teach us. Information is
pursued frantically, appearances discarded, data juggled, heated debates ensue, versions
erupt, only to subside and be replaced by others. It is a feverish ritual, the sound of clashing
exegeses, of theories constructed and demolished in vacuo.
At the heart of it all, is the unbearable uncertainty of being. Political uncertainty under
communism was replaced by economic uncertainty under the insidious and venal form of
capitalism that replaced it. Tucked in identical cubicles, the citizens of planet communism
were at least assured of a make belief job in a sprawling bureaucracy or in a decrepit factory,
manufacturing redundant documents or shoddy goods. Subsistence was implicitly guaranteed
by the kleptocracy that ruled them and, in principle, it was always possible to ignore the
moral stench and join the nomenklatura, thereby developing instant upward mobility.
Corruption, theft and graft were tolerated by the state as means of complementing income.
Life was drab but safe as long as one abstained from politics and subserviently consumed the
bitter medicines of acquiescence and collaboration. The vast majority (with the exception of
the USSR under Stalin) were not affected by the arbitrary capriciousness of history. They
decayed slowly in their housing estates, morally degenerate, possession-less but certain of a
future that is the spitting image of their past.
Under the spastic orgy of legalized robbery of state assets that passed for privatization,
millions were made redundant while thousands enriched themselves by choreographed
looting. The results were instability, unpredictability, uncertainty and fear. In a world thus
unhinged, the masses groped for reason, for a scheme, for a method in the madness, for an
explanation, however sinister and ominous. Anything was preferable to the seemingly
random natural forces unleashed upon them with such apparent vengeance. Even a "World
Government" (a favourite), the Illuminati (a Freemasonry-like movement but much more
odious), the Jews, the USA, aliens. The greatest conspiracy theory of them all - the Phoenix
of religion - sprang back to life from the ashes it was reduced to by communism. A host of
mystical beliefs and sects and cults mushroomed noxiously in the humid shadows of
Thus, every event, no matter how insignificant, any occurrence, no matter how
inconsequential and any coincidence, no matter how coincidental - assume heraldic meaning.
People in these domains carry their complex jigsaw puzzles with them. They welcome each
new piece with the zeal of the converted. They bellow triumphantly with every "proof" of
their pet theory, with every datum, with each rumour. Things don't just happen - they
whisper, conspiratorially - things are directed from above, ordained, regulated, prevented, or
encouraged by "them". A group of 400 rule the world. They are Jews, they are the Serb
mafia, or the Bulgarian. Or the Americans who plan to dominate (which obviously puts
Kosovo in context). They are the rich and powerful, the objects of envy and frightened
admiration, of virulent hate and rage. They are responsible. We pay the price - we, the small
and powerless and poor. And it is hopeless, it has been like that forever. The disparity
between them and us is too great. Resistance is futile.
Why was this president elected? Surely, the West demanded it. Or political parties conspired
to rig the vote. Or rich businessmen supported him. What is the real aim of foreign investors
in coming to these godforsaken places, if not to infiltrate and penetrate and establish their
long term dominion? And wouldn't it be safe to assume that al the foreigners are spies, that
all the Jews collaborate, that the neighbours would have liked to conquer and to subjugate us,
that the world is a colossal puppet show? In other words, is it not true that we are puppets -
victims - in a theatre not of our making? They filter out that which does not conform to their
persuasion, does not accord with their suspicions, does not fit within their schemes.
This deferral of responsibility brings relief from shame and blame. Guilt is allayed by
symbolically and ritually passing it onto another. Fear is quelled by the introduction of
schemata. These are potent psychological incentives. They provide structure to the
amorphous, bring order to the chaos that is the brave, new world of the economies in
transition. Flux is replaced by immutable "truths", possibilities by certainties, threats by
"knowledge". It is a re-construction and reconquest of a paradise lost by giving up the fruit of
the tree of knowledge.
It is this hyper-vigilance, this elevated suspicion, these instant certainties fabricated from frail
pseudo-theories and conspiracies - that make the Man of the East so easy to manipulate, so
vulnerable, so amenable to collude in his own downfall. Bewitched by his self-spun myths,
captivated by his own paranoia, under the spell of his magical, immature, thinking - non
critical, non analytical, non discriminating - he is exquisitely susceptible to crooks and
charlatans, to manipulators and demagogues, to the realization of the very threats he tried to
fend off in the first place.
Here is what the DSM ("Diagnostic and Statistical Manual") IV-TR (2000) published by the
APA (American Psychiatric Association) has to say about paranoids and schizotypals:
The Paranoid Personality Disorder Schizotypal Personality Disorder
A Dialog about Anti-Semitism
Only loss is universal and true cosmopolitanism in this world must be based on
I gnacio Silone
Rabid anti-Semitism, coupled with inane and outlandish conspiracy theories of world
dominion, is easy to counter and dispel. It is the more "reasoned", subtle, and stealthy variety
that it pernicious. "No smoke without fire," - say people - "there must be something to it!".
In this dialog I try to deconstruct a "mild" anti-Semitic text. I myself wrote the text - not an
easy task considering my ancestry (a Jew) and my citizenship (an Israeli). But to penetrate the
pertinent layers - historical, psychological, semantic, and semiotic - I had to "enter the skin"
of "rational", classic anti-Semites, to grasp what makes them click and tick, and to think and
reason like them.
I dedicated the last few months to ploughing through reams of anti-Semitic tracts and texts.
Steeped in more or less nauseating verbal insanity and sheer paranoia, I emerged to compose
the following.
The Anti-Semite:
The rising tide of anti-Semitism the world over is universally decried. The proponents of ant-
Semitism are cast as ignorant, prejudiced, lawless, and atavistic. Their arguments are
dismissed off-handedly.
But it takes one Jew to really know another. Conditioned by millennia of persecution, Jews
are paranoid, defensive, and obsessively secretive. It is impossible for a gentile - whom they
hold to be inferior and reflexively hostile - to penetrate their counsels.
Let us examine anti-Semitic arguments more closely and in an unbiased manner:
Argument number one - Being J ewish is a racial distinction - not only a religious one
If race is defined in terms of genetic purity, then Jews are as much a race as the remotest and
most isolated of the tribes of the Amazon. Genetic studies revealed that Jews throughout the
world - largely due to centuries of in-breeding - share the same genetic makeup. Hereditary
diseases which afflict only the Jews attest to the veracity of this discovery.
Judaism is founded on shared biology as much as shared history and customs. As a religion, it
proscribes a conjugal union with non-Jews. Jews are not even allowed to partake the food and
wine of gentiles and have kept their distance from the communities which they inhabited -
maintaining tenaciously, through countless generations, their language, habits, creed, dress,
and national ethos. Only Jews become automatic citizens of Israel (the infamous Law of
The J ewish Response:
Race has been invariably used as an argument against the Jews. It is ironic that racial purists
have always been the most fervent anti-Semites. Jews are not so much a race as a community,
united in age-old traditions and beliefs, lore and myths, history and language. Anyone can
become a Jew by following a set of clear (though, admittedly, demanding) rules. There is
absolutely no biological test or restriction on joining the collective that is known as the
Jewish people or the religion that is Judaism.
It is true that some Jews are differentiated from their gentile environments. But this
distinction has largely been imposed on us by countless generations of hostile hosts and
neighbors. The yellow Star of David was only the latest in a series of measures to isolate the
Jews, clearly mark them, restrict their economic and intellectual activities, and limit their
social interactions. The only way to survive was to stick together. Can you blame us for
responding to what you yourselves have so enthusiastically instigated?
The Anti-Semite:
Argument number two - The J ews regard themselves as Chosen, Superior, or Pure
Vehement protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, this is largely true. Your purported
and self-imputed ancestor, Abraham, struck a Faustian deal with Yahwe or Jehova, the
monotheistic deity he conjured up: he sold Jehovah his soul in return for promises of wealth,
might, and earthly possessions (notably, land) granted to him and to his lineage, now branded
The Chosen People.
Orthodox Jews and secular Jews differ, of course, in their perception of this supremacy. The
religious attribute it to divine will, intellectuals to the outstanding achievements of Jewish
scientists and scholars, the modern Israeli is proud of his invincible army and thriving
economy. But they all share a sense of privilege and commensurate obligation to civilize their
inferiors and to spread progress and enlightenment wherever they are. This is a pernicious
rendition of the colonial White Man's Burden and it is coupled with disdain and contempt for
the lowly and the great unwashed (namely, the gentiles).
The J ewish Response:
There were precious few Jews among the great colonizers and ideologues of imperialism
(Disraeli being the exception). Moreover, to compare the dissemination of knowledge and
enlightenment to colonialism is, indeed, a travesty.
We, the Jews, are proud of our achievements. Show me one group of people (including the
anti-Semites) who isn't? But there is an abyss between being justly proud of one's true
accomplishments and feeling superior as a result. Granted, there are narcissists and
megalomaniacs everywhere and among the members of any human collective. Hitler and his
Aryan superiority is a good example.
The Anti-Semite:
Argument number three - J ews have divided loyalties
It is false to say that Jews are first and foremost Jews and only then are they the loyal citizens
of their respective countries. Jews have unreservedly fought and sacrificed in the service of
their homelands, often killing their coreligionists in the process. But it is true that Jews
believe that what is good for the Jews is good for the country they reside in. By aligning the
interests of their adopted habitat with their narrower and selfish agenda, Jews feel justified to
promote their own interests to the exclusion of all else and all others.
Moreover, the rebirth of the Jewish State presented the Jews with countless ethical dilemmas
which they typically resolved by adhering uncritically to Tel-Aviv's official line. This often
brought them into direct conflict with their governments and non-Jewish compatriots and
enhanced their reputation as untrustworthy and treacherous.
Hence the Jewish propensity to infiltrate decision-making centers, such as politics and the
media. Their aim is to minimize conflicts of interests by transforming their peculiar concerns
and preferences into official, if not always consensual, policy. This viral hijacking of the host
country's agenda is particularly evident in the United States where the interest of Jewry and
of the only superpower have become inextricable.
It is a fact - not a rant - that Jews are over-represented in certain, influential, professions (in
banking, finance, the media, politics, the film industry, publishing, science, the humanities,
etc.). This is partly the result of their emphases on education and social upward mobility. But
it is also due to the tendency of well-placed Jews to promote their brethren and provide them
with privileged access to opportunities, funding, and jobs.
The J ewish Response:
Most modern polities are multi-ethnic and multi-cultural (an anathema to anti-Semites, I
know). Every ethnic, religious, cultural, political, intellectual, and economic or business
group tries to influence policy-making by various means. This is both legitimate and
desirable. Lobbying has been an integral and essential part of democracy since it was
invented in Athens 2500 years ago. The Jews and Israelis are no exception.
Jews are, indeed, over-represented in certain professions in the United States. But they are
under-represented in other, equally important, vocations (for instance, among company
CEOs, politicians, diplomats, managers of higher education institutions, and senior bankers).
Globally, Jews are severely under-represented or not-existent in virtually all professions due
to their demography (aging population, low birth-rates, unnatural deaths in wars and
The Anti-Semite:
Argument number four - J ews act as a cabal or mafia
There is no organized, hierarchical, and centralized worldwide Jewish conspiracy. Rather the
Jews act in a manner similar to al-Qaida: they freelance and self-assemble ad hoc in cross-
border networks to tackle specific issues. Jewish organizations - many in cahoots with the
Israeli government - serve as administrative backup, same as some Islamic charities do for
militant Islam. The Jews' ability and readiness to mobilize and act to further their plans is a
matter of record and the source of the inordinate influence of their lobby organizations in
Washington, for instance.
When two Jews meet, even randomly, and regardless of the disparities in their background,
they immediately endeavor to see how they can further each other's interests, even and often
at the expense of everyone else's.
Still, the Jewish diaspora, now two millennia old, is the first truly global phenomenon in
world affairs. Bound by a common history, a common set of languages, a common ethos, a
common religion, common defenses and ubiquitous enemies - Jews learned to closely
cooperate in order to survive.
No wonder that all modern global networks - from Rothschild to Reuters - were established
by Jews. Jews also featured prominently in all the revolutionary movements of the past three
centuries. Individual Jews - though rarely the Jewish community as a whole - seem to benefit
no matter what.
When Czarist Russia collapsed, Jews occupied 7 out of 10 prominent positions in both the
Kerensky (a Jew himself) government and in the Lenin and early Stalin administrations.
When the Soviet Union crumbled, Jews again benefited mightily. Three quarters of the
famous "oligarchs" (robber barons) that absconded with the bulk of the defunct empire's
assets were - you guessed it - Jews.
The J ewish Response:
Ignoring the purposefully inflammatory language for a minute, what group does not behave
this way? Harvard alumni, the British Commonwealth, the European Union, the Irish or the
Italians in the United States, political parties the world over ... As long as people co-operate
legally and for legal ends, without breaching ethics and without discriminating against
deserving non-members - what is wrong with that?
The Anti-Semite:
Argument number five - The J ews are planning to take over the world and establish a world
This is the kind of nonsense that discredits a serious study of the Jews and their role in
history, past and present. Endless lists of prominent people of Jewish descent are produced in
support of the above contention. Yet, governments are not the mere sum of their constituent
individuals. The dynamics of power subsist on more than the religious affiliation of office-
holders, kingmakers, and string-pullers.
Granted, Jews are well introduced in the echelons of power almost everywhere. But this is
still a very far cry from a world government. Neither were Jews prominent in any of the
recent moves - mostly by the Europeans - to strengthen the role of international law and
attendant supranational organizations.
The J ewish Response:
What can I say? I agree with you. I would only like to set the record straight by pointing out
the fact that Jews are actually under-represented in the echelons of power everywhere
(including in the United States). Only in Israel - where they constitute an overwhelming
majority - do Jews run things.
The Anti-Semite:
Argument number six - J ews are selfish, narcissistic, haughty, double-faced, dissemblers.
Zionism is an extension of this pathological narcissism as a colonial movement
Judaism is not missionary. It is elitist. But Zionism has always regarded itself as both a (19th
century) national movement and a (colonial) civilizing force. Nationalist narcissism
transformed Zionism into a mission of acculturation ("White Man's Burden").
In "Altneuland" (translated to Hebrew as "Tel Aviv"), the feverish tome composed by
Theodore Herzl, Judaism's improbable visionary - Herzl refers to the Arabs as pliant and
compliant butlers, replete with gloves and tarbushes. In the book, a German Jewish family
prophetically lands at Jaffa, the only port in erstwhile Palestine. They are welcomed and
escorted by "Briticized" Arab gentlemen's gentlemen who are only too happy to assist their
future masters and colonizers to disembark.
This age-old narcissistic defence - the Jewish superiority complex - was only exacerbated by
the Holocaust.
Nazism posed as a rebellion against the "old ways" - against the hegemonic culture, the upper
classes, the established religions, the superpowers, the European order. The Nazis borrowed
the Leninist vocabulary and assimilated it effectively. Hitler and the Nazis were an adolescent
movement, a reaction to narcissistic injuries inflicted upon a narcissistic (and rather
psychopathic) toddler nation-state. Hitler himself was a malignant narcissist, as Fromm
correctly noted.
The Jews constituted a perfect, easily identifiable, embodiment of all that was "wrong" with
Europe. They were an old nation, they were eerily disembodied (without a territory), they
were cosmopolitan, they were part of the establishment, they were "decadent", they were
hated on religious and socio-economic grounds (see Goldhagen's "Hitler's Willing
Executioners"), they were different, they were narcissistic (felt and acted as morally
superior), they were everywhere, they were defenseless, they were credulous, they were
adaptable (and thus could be co-opted to collaborate in their own destruction). They were the
perfect hated father figure and parricide was in fashion.
The Holocaust was a massive trauma not because of its dimensions - but because Germans,
the epitome of Western civilization, have turned on the Jews, the self-proclaimed
missionaries of Western civilization in the Levant and Arabia. It was the betrayal that
mattered. Rejected by East (as colonial stooges) and West (as agents of racial contamination)
alike - the Jews resorted to a series of narcissistic responses reified by the State of Israel.
The long term occupation of territories (metaphorical or physical) is a classic narcissistic
behavior (of "annexation" of the other). The Six Days War was a war of self defence - but the
swift victory only exacerbated the grandiose fantasies of the Jews. Mastery over the
Palestinians became an important component in the psychological makeup of the nation
(especially the more rightwing and religious elements) because it constitutes "Narcissistic
The J ewish Response:
Happily, sooner or later most anti-Semitic arguments descend into incoherent diatribe. This
dialog is no exception.
Zionism was not conceived out of time. It was born in an age of colonialism, Kipling's "white
man's burden", and Western narcissism. Regrettably, Herzl did not transcend the political
discourse of his period. But Zionism is far more than Altneuland. Herzl died in 1904, having
actually been deposed by Zionists from Russia who espoused ideals of equality for all, Jews
and non-Jews alike.
The Holocaust was an enormous trauma and a clarion call. It taught the Jews that they cannot
continue with their historically abnormal existence and that all the formulas for
accommodation and co-existence failed. There remained only one viable solution: a Jewish
state as a member of the international community of nations.
The Six Days War was, indeed, a classic example of preemptive self-defense. Its outcomes,
however, deeply divide Jewish communities everywhere, especially in Israel. Many of us
believe that occupation corrupts and reject the Messianic and millennial delusions of some
Jews as dangerous and nefarious.
Perhaps this is the most important thing to remember:
Like every other group of humans, though molded by common experience, Jews are not a
monolith. There are liberal Jews and orthodox Jews, narcissists and altruists, unscrupulous
and moral, educated and ignorant, criminals and law-abiding citizens. Jews, in other words,
are like everyone else. Can we say the same about anti-Semites? I wonder.
The Anti-I sraeli:
The State of Israel is likely to end as did the seven previous stabs at Jewish statehood - in
total annihilation. And for the same reasons: conflicts between secular and religious Jews and
a racist-colonialist pattern of deplorable behavior. The UN has noted this recidivist
misconduct in numerous resolutions and when it justly compared Zionism to racism.
The J ewish Response:
Zionism is undoubtedly a typical 19th century national movement, promoting the interests of
an ethnically-homogeneous nation. But it is not and never has been a racist movement.
Zionists of all stripes never believed in the inherent inferiority or malevolence or impurity of
any group of people (however arbitrarily defined or capriciously delimited) just because of
their common origin or habitation. The State of Israel is not exclusionary. There are a million
Israelis who are Arabs, both Christians and Muslims.
It is true, though, that Jews have a special standing in Israel. The Law of Return grants them
immediate citizenship. Because of obvious conflicts of interest, Arabs cannot serve in the
Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Consequently, they don't enjoy the special benefits conferred on
war veterans and ex-soldiers.
Regrettably, it is also true that Arabs are discriminated against and hated by many Israelis,
though rarely as a matter of official policy. These are the bitter fruits of the ongoing conflict.
Budget priorities are also heavily skewed in favor of schools and infrastructure in Jewish
municipalities. A lot remains to be done.
The Anti-I sraeli:
Zionism started off as a counter-revolution. It presented itself as an alternative to both
orthodox religion and to assimilation in the age of European "Enlightenment". But it was
soon hijacked by East European Jews who espoused a pernicious type of Stalinism and
virulent anti-Arab racism.
The J ewish Response:
East European Jews were no doubt more nationalistic and etatist than the West European
visionaries who gave birth to Zionism. But, again, they were not racist. On the very contrary.
Their socialist roots called for close collaboration and integration of all the ethnicities and
nationalities in Israel/Palestine.
The Anti-I sraeli:
The "Status Quo" promulgated by Israel's first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, confined
institutionalized religion to matters of civil law and to communal issues. All affairs of state
became the exclusive domain of the secular-leftist nomenclature and its attendant
bureaucratic apparatus.
All this changed after the Six Days War in 1967 and, even more so, after the Yom Kippur
War. Militant Messianic Jews with radical fundamentalist religious ideologies sought to
eradicate the distinction between state and synagogue. They propounded a political agenda,
thus invading the traditionally secular turf, to the great consternation of their compatriots.
This schism is unlikely to heal and will be further exacerbated by the inevitable need to
confront harsh demographic and geopolitical realities. No matter how much occupied
territory Israel gives up and how many ersatz Jews it imports from East Europe, the
Palestinians are likely to become a majority within the next 50 years.
Israel will sooner or later face the need to choose whether to institute a policy of strict and
racist apartheid - or shrink into an indefensible (though majority Jewish) enclave. The
fanatics of the religious right are likely to enthusiastically opt for the first alternative. All the
rest of the Jews in Israel are bound to recoil. Civil war will then become unavoidable and
with it the demise of yet another short-lived Jewish polity.
The J ewish Response:
Israel is, indeed, faced with the unpalatable choice and demographic realities described
above. But don't bet on civil war and total annihilation just yet. There are numerous other
political solutions - for instance, a confederacy of two national states, or one state with two
nations. But, I agree, this is a serious problem further compounded by Palestinian demands
for the right to return to their ancestral territories, now firmly within the Jewish State, even in
its pre-1967 borders.
With regards to the hijacking of the national agenda by right-wing, religious fundamentalist
Jewish militants - as the recent pullout from Gaza and some of the West Bank proves
conclusively, Israelis are pragmatists. The influence of Messianic groups on Israeli decision-
making is blown out of proportion. They are an increasingly isolated - though vocal and
sometimes violent - minority.
The Anti-I sraeli:
Israel could, perhaps, have survived, had it not committed a second mortal sin by
transforming itself into an outpost and beacon of Western (first British-French, then
American) neo-colonialism. As the representative of the oppressors, it was forced to resort to
an official policy of unceasing war crimes and repeated grave violations of human and civil
The J ewish Response:
Israel aligned itself with successive colonial powers in the region because it felt it had no
choice, surrounded and outnumbered as it was by hostile, trigger-happy, and heavily armed
neighbors. Israel did miss, though, quite a few chances to make peace, however intermittent
and hesitant, with its erstwhile enemies. It is also true that it committed itself to a policy of
settlements and oppression within the occupied territories which inevitably gave rise to grave
and repeated violations on international law. Overlording another people had a corrosive
corrupting influence on Israeli society.
The Anti-I sraeli:
The Arabs, who first welcomed the Jewish settlers and the economic opportunities they
represented, turned against the new emigrants when they learned of their agenda of
occupation, displacement, and ethnic cleansing. Israel became a pivot of destabilization in the
Middle East, embroiled in conflicts and wars too numerous to count. Unscrupulous and
corrupt Arab rulers used its existence and the menace it reified as a pretext to avoid
democratization, transparency, and accountability.
The J ewish Response:
With the exception of the 1919 Faisal-Weitzman declaration, Arabs never really welcomed
the Jews. Attacks on Jewish outposts and settlers started as early as 1921 and never ceased.
The wars in 1948 and in 1967 were initiated or provoked by the Arab states. It is true, though,
that Israel unwisely leveraged its victories to oppress the Palestinians and for territorial gains,
sometimes in cahoots with much despised colonial powers, such as Britain and France in
The Anti-I sraeli:
This volatile mixture of ideological racism, Messianic empire-building, malignant theocracy
much resented by the vast majority of secular Jews, and alignment with all entities anti-Arab
and anti-Muslim will doom the Jewish country. In the long run, the real inheritors and
proprietors of the Middle East are its long-term inhabitants, the Arabs. A strong army is not a
guarantee of longevity - see the examples of the USSR and Yugoslavia.
Even now, it is not too late. Israel can transform itself into an important and benevolent
regional player by embracing its Arab neighbors and by championing the causes of economic
and scientific development, integration, and opposition to outside interference in the region's
internal affairs. The Arabs, exhausted by decades of conflict and backwardness, are likely to
heave a collective sigh of relief and embrace Israel - reluctantly at first and more warmly as it
proves itself a reliable ally and friend.
Israel's demographic problem is more difficult to resolve. It requires Israel to renounce its
exclusive racist and theocratic nature. Israel must suppress, by force if need be, the lunatic
fringe of militant religious fanatics that has been haunting its politics in the last three decades.
And it must extend a welcoming hand to its Arab citizens by legislating and enforcing a set of
Civil Rights Laws.
The J ewish Response:
Whether this Jewish state is doomed or not, time will tell. Peace with our Arab neighbors and
equal treatment of our Arab citizens should be our two over-riding strategic priorities. The
Jewish State cannot continue to live by the sword, lest it perishes by it.
If the will is there it can be done. The alternative is too horrible to contemplate.

Muslims: Europe's New Jews
Disclaimer (August 2010)
In the decade since the September 11 attacks, European states, publics and politicians have
embarked on a path of no return and so have their Muslim populations: both sides
radicalizing and growing apart. The alienation has become so strong and all-pervasive that I
no longer believe in the possibilities of co-existence and integration. I regard this article,
therefore, as an example of naivet and wishful thinking on my part.
They inhabit self-imposed ghettoes, subject to derision and worse, the perennial targets of
far-right thugs and populist politicians of all persuasions. They are mostly confined to menial
jobs. They are accused of spreading crime, terrorism and disease, of being backward and
violent, of refusing to fit in.
Their religion, atavistic and rigid, insists on ritual slaughter and male circumcision. They
rarely mingle socially or inter-marry. Most of them - though born in European countries - are
not allowed to vote. Brown-skinned and with a marked foreign accent, they are subject to
police profiling and harassment and all manner of racial discrimination.
They are the new Jews of Europe: its Muslim minorities (see disclaimer above and note
Muslims - especially Arab youths from North Africa - are, indeed, disproportionately
represented in crime, including hate crime, mainly against the Jews. Exclusively Muslim al-
Qaida cells have been discovered in many West European countries. But this can be safely
attributed to ubiquitous and trenchant long-term unemployment and to stunted upward
mobility, both social and economic due largely to latent or expressed racism.
Moreover, the stereotype is wrong. The incidence of higher education and skills is greater
among Muslim immigrants than in the general population - a phenomenon known as "brain
drain". Europe attracts the best and the brightest - students, scholars, scientists, engineers and
intellectuals - away from their destitute, politically dysfunctional and backward homelands.
The Economist surveys the landscape of friction and withdrawal:
"I ndifference to I slam has turned first to disdain, then to suspicion and more recently to
hostility ... (due to images of) petro-powered sheikhs, Palestinian terrorists, I ranian
ayatollahs, mass immigration and then the attacks of September 11th, executed if not
planned by western-based Muslims and succored by an odious regime in Afghanistan ...
Muslims tend to come from poor, rural areas; most are ill-educated, many are brown. They
often encounter xenophobia and discrimination, sometimes made worse by racist
politicians. They speak the language of the wider society either poorly or not at all, so they
find it hard to get jobs. Their children struggle at school. They huddle in poor districts,
often in state-supplied housing ... They tend to withdraw into their own world, (forming a)
self-sufficient, self-contained community."
This self-imposed segregation has multiple dimensions. Clannish behavior persists for
decades. Marriages are still arranged - reluctant brides and grooms are imported from the
motherland to wed immigrants from the same region or village. The "parallel society", in the
words of a British government report following the Oldham riots two years ago, extends to
cultural habits, religious practices and social norms.
Assimilation and integration has many enemies.
Remittances from abroad are an important part of the gross national product and budgetary
revenues of countries such as Bangladesh and Pakistan. Hence their frantic efforts to maintain
the cohesive national and cultural identity of the expats. DITIB is an arm of the Turkish
government's office for religious affairs. It discourages the assimilation or social integration
of Turks in Germany. Turkish businesses - newspapers, satellite TV, foods, clothing, travel
agents, publishers - thrive on ghettoization.
There is a tacit confluence of interests between national governments, exporters and Islamic
organizations. All three want Turks in Germany to remain as Turkish as possible. The more
nostalgic and homebound the expatriate - the larger and more frequent his remittances, the
higher his consumption of Turkish goods and services and the more prone he is to resort to
religion as a determinant of his besieged and fracturing identity.
Muslim numbers are not negligible. Two European countries have Muslim majorities -
Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania. Others - in both Old Europe and its post-communist east -
harbor sizable and growing Islamic minorities. Waves of immigration and birth rates three
times as high as the indigenous population increase their share of the population in virtually
every European polity - from Russia to Macedonia and from Bulgaria to Britain. One in
seven Russians is Muslim - over 20 million people.
According to the March-April 2003 issue of Foreign Policy, the non-Muslim part of Europe
will shrink by 3.5 percent by 2015 while the Muslim populace will likely double. There are 3
million Turks in Germany and another 12 million Muslims - Algerians, Moroccans,
Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Egyptians, Senegalese, Malis, or Tunisians - in the rest of the
European Union.
This is two and one half times the number of Muslims in the United States. Even assuming -
wrongly - that all of them occupy the lowest decile of income, their combined annual
purchasing power would amount to a whopping $150 billion. Furthermore, recent retroactive
changes to German law have naturalized over a million immigrants and automatically granted
its much-coveted citizenship to the 160,000 Muslims born in Germany every year.
Between 2-3 million Muslims in France - half their number - are eligible to vote. Another
million - one out of two - cast ballots in Britain. These numbers count at the polls and are not
offset by the concerted efforts of a potent Jewish lobby - there are barely a million Jews in
Western Europe.
Muslims are becoming a well-courted swing vote. They may have decided the last election in
Germany, for instance. Recognizing their growing centrality, France established - though not
without vote-rigging - a French Council of the Islamic Faith, the equivalent of Napoleon's
Jewish Consistory. Two French cabinet members are Muslims. Britain has a Muslim Council.
Both Vladimir Putin, Russia's president and Yuri Luzhkov, Moscow's mayor, now take the
trouble to greet the capital's one million Muslims on the occasion of their Feast of Sacrifice.
They also actively solicit the votes of the nationalist and elitist Muslims of the industrialized
Volga - mainly the Tatars, Bashkirs and Chuvash. Even the impoverished, much-detested and
powerless Muslims of the northern Caucasus - Chechens, Circassians and Dagestanis - have
benefited from this newfound awareness of their electoral power.
Though divided by their common creed - Shiites vs. Sunnites vs. Wahabbites and so on - the
Muslims of Europe are united in supporting the Palestinian cause and in opposing the Iraq
war. This - and post-colonial guilt feelings, especially manifest in France and Britain - go a
long way toward explaining Germany's re-discovered pacifistic spine and France's anti-Israeli
(not to say anti-Semitic) tilt.
Moreover, the Muslims have been playing an important economic role in the continent since
the early 1960s. Europe's postwar miracle was founded on these cheap, plentiful and oft-
replenished Gastarbeiter - "guest workers". Objective studies have consistently shown that
immigrants contribute more to their host economies - as consumers, investors and workers -
than they ever claw back in social services and public goods. This is especially true in
Europe, where an ageing population of early retirees has been relying on the uninterrupted
flow of pension contributions by younger laborers, many of them immigrants.
Business has been paying attention to this emerging market. British financial intermediaries -
such as the West Bromwich Building Society - have recently introduced "Islamic" (interest-
free) mortgages. According to market research firm, Datamonitor, gross advances in the UK
alone could reach $7 billion in 2006 - up from $60 million today. The Bank of England is in
the throes of preparing regulations to accommodate the pent-up demand.
Yet, their very integration, however hesitant and gradual, renders the Muslims in Europe
vulnerable to the kind of treatment the old continent meted out to its Jews before the
holocaust. Growing Muslim presence in stagnating job markets within recessionary
economies inevitably generated a backlash, often cloaked in terms of Samuel Huntington's
1993 essay in Foreign Affairs, "Clash of Civilizations".
Even tolerant Italy was affected. In 2002, the Bologna archbishop, Cardinal Giacomo Biffi,
cast Islam as incompatible with Italian culture. The country's prime minister suggested, in a
visit to Berlin five years ago, that Islam is an inherently inferior civilization.
Oriana Fallaci, a prominent journalist, published in 2001 an inane and foul-mouthed diatribe
titled "The Rage and the Pride" in which she accused Muslims of "breeding like rats",
"shitting and pissing" (sic!) everywhere and supporting Osama bin-Laden indiscriminately.
Young Muslims reacted - by further radicalizing and by refusing to assimilate - to both
escalating anti-Islamic rhetoric in Europe and the "triumphs" of Islam elsewhere, such as the
revolution in Iran in 1979. Tutored by preachers trained in the most militant Islamist climates
in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and Iran, praying in mosques financed by shady
Islamic charities - these youngsters are amenable to recruiters from every fanatical grouping.
The United Kingdom suffered some of the worst race riots in half a century in 2001-2003.
France is terrorized by an unprecedented crime wave emanating from the banlieux - the
decrepit, predominantly Muslim, housing estates in suburbia. September 11 only accelerated
the inevitable conflict between an alienated minority and hostile authorities throughout the
continent. Recent changes in European - notably British and French - legislation openly
profile and target Muslims.
This is a remarkable turnaround. Europe supported the Muslim Bosnian cause against the
Serbs, Islamic Chechnya against Russia, the Palestinians against the Israelis and Muslim
Albanian insurgents against both Serbs and Macedonians. Nor was this consistent pro-Islamic
orientation a novelty.
Britain's Commission for Racial Equality which caters mainly to the needs of Muslims, was
formed 40 years ago. Its Foreign Office has never wavered from its pro-Arab bias. Germany
established a Central Council for Muslims. Both anti-Americanism and the more veteran anti-
Israeli streak helped sustain Europe's empathy with Muslim refugees and "freedom fighters"
throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
September 11 put paid to this amity. The danger is that the brand of "Euro-Islam" that has
begun to emerge lately may be decimated by this pervasive and sudden mistrust. Time
Magazine described this blend as "the traditional Koran-based religion with its prohibitions
against alcohol and interest-bearing loans now indelibly marked by the 'Western' values of
tolerance, democracy and civil liberties."
Such "enlightened" Muslims can serve as an invaluable bridge between Europe and Russia,
the Middle East, Asia, including China and other places with massive Muslim majorities or
minorities. As most world conflicts today involve Islamist militants, global peace and a
functioning "new order" critically depend on the goodwill and communication skills of
Such a benign amalgam is the only realistic hope for reconciliation. Europe is ageing and
stagnating and can be reinvigorated only by embracing youthful, dynamic, driven
immigrants, most of whom are bound to be Muslim. Co-existence is possible and the clash of
civilization not an inevitability unless Huntington's dystopic vision becomes the basic policy
document of the West.
Note: Anti-Semitism and anti-Islam sentiments in Europe
Comparisons between European intolerance of the Jews in the 20
century and European
rejection of the Muslims nowadays are spurious.
First: while Muslims had surely contributed substantially to the emergence of European
medieval culture, they had nothing to do with the ethos and philosophy of modern liberal-
democracy, with current scientific and technological achievements, and with modern culture,
both high- and low-brow. The Jews, by comparison, have been founders of the modern world
as we know it today. Muslims are true aliens to European civilization while the Jews are its
fountainhead and mainspring.
Second: Nazism amounted to a resounding and brutal rejection of the values of the
Enlightenment and of liberalism as reified by the Jews. Similarly, Muslim hostility towards
Judaism has early roots and is manifest in numerous parts of the Quran and Hadith (which I
am able to read in the original Arabic). As Jews increasingly came to symbolize modernity,
Muslims, both moderate and fundamentalist, came to abhor the Jews. The establishment of
the State of Israel and the Jewish prominence in the worlds new superpower, the USA, only
cemented these negative and sometimes murderous attitudes.
It is ironic, therefore, that Muslims mostly of Semite descent and origin - found themselves
the targets of another strain of anti-Semitism: anti-Muslim hatred.
APPENDI X: Review of "I slam in the United States"
Durrani, Anayat and Ely, Dina (compiled) - I slam in the United States - Suite101, 2004
Of the plethora of negative imagery which has come to be associated with Islam after the
September 11 attacks on the USA, one stands out starkly: Muslims and Islam are supposed to
be abusive to their womenfolk. Females in Muslim countries are not allowed to vote and
testify in court, if married, must veil themselves in public, can be divorced off-hand and
unilaterally, cannot drive cars, inherit or own property, or express their sexuality and are
subject to punishments more severe than males for the same offenses. The Muslims in the
West (in the United states and Europe) are thought to be only marginally better disposed
towards the weaker sex.
Are these facts or stereotypes?
The latter, asserts author Anayat Durrani - and only one of many. Muslims are demonized
because they are different and because of widespread ignorance regarding their faith, culture,
and social mores. Islamophobia is partly the fault of biased, rating-driven, or outright hostile
reporting in the media. Why identify the religion of terrorists? - she demands to know.
Perhaps because most terrorists happen to be Muslims, is the reasonable answer. Facts - even
unpleasant facts - are not stereotypes. This is the weakness of this fascinating, slender,
collection of articles. It swings too wildly to the other side of the divide.
There is no question that the vast majority of Muslims are peaceful and kind and that their
religion, Islam, is beautiful (I have grown up with Muslims as had my father, so I happen to
know it first hand). True enough, only a deranged minority of fringe groups abuse Islam by
associating it with militancy. But to say that all is well in the lands of Islam, that the faith
requires no reform, that there is no justification to associating terrorism with it - is going way
to far and counterfactual.
To its credit, the author does its best to shed light on facts obscured by the pro-Israeli and
pro-Jewish bias of the American media. Jerusalem, for instance, is, indeed, a holy place to
Muslims. It is not a mere self-serving claim to yet more territory, as most Americans and
Israelis present it. Muslim rule was always far more benign than anything the Christians had
to offer.
There are numerous positive Muslim role models, such as Muhammad Ali. Muslims were
among the first pioneering settlers in the colonies that now make the East Coast of the United
States. Today, they are among the best educated and earn more than the American national
average. Mosques are multi-purpose communal as well as religious centers.
What about women? Not in this book. Curious, considering that both author and compiler are
women. Suffice it to say that the picture is far more complicated than we are led to believe. In
Muslim territories, women possess many rights that are glossed over in anti-Muslim tracts,
such as Oriana Fallaci's abominable diatribes. Even the veil is not what it is made out to be. It
actually serves to fend off male attentions and protect the married female in a patriarchal
This is not to justify the all-pervasive discrimination against women in the legal and political
systems of Arab countries. But this backwardness is general - not misogynistic. In many
predominantly Muslim countries, women have reached the post of Prime Minister and
pinnacles of business, arts, sciences, and politics. That they failed to do so in Egypt or Saudi
Arabia or Iran has little to do with Islam and everything to do with venal and vile
authoritarianism - an import from the West.
A good introductory text to an oft-misunderstood belief system and people.
Appendix: Review of Radical State: How Jihad is Winning over Democracy in the
By: Abigail R. Esman
Praeger Security International (Imprint of Praeger, Santa Barbara, Dnever and Oxford),
"Radical State" is a terrifying account of how militant Islam ended up transmogrifying its
victims, casting them in its own morbid and grotesque shape as they strove to evade its
pernicious influence and the violence that permeates its culture. Victims of abuse often end
up being abusers and the erstwhile genteel and tolerant Netherlands - the focus of this study
of infectious Islamic fanaticism and xenophobia - is no exception: following a string of
murderous attacks by Muslims, the Dutch reacted with the curtailing of civil liberties and
with a wave of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim measures. In one fell swoop, Holland, this
bastion of liberalism, democracy, and tolerance has become the darling of the European far-
A guilt-ridden Europe has paid a dear price for its colonial transgressions: it let in 20 million
Muslims, carriers of a civilization so alien to the West that it constitutes a clear and present
danger to its very survival. Radicalism, militancy, fanaticism, anti-individualism, misogyny,
and anti-Western sentiments are rife among these aliens and immigrants. It is nothing short of
a fifth column and a backdoor to the great centers of Western power, such as the USA.
Muslims make suave use of Western civil rights and reflexive multiculturalism and political
correctness to further their agenda: a hostile takeover, not an amicable merger.
The author offers a blood-curdling account based on first-hand observations from the
frontline of the clash of civilizations. Replete with portraits, interviews, transcripts of
conversations, erudite analyses of news, a smattering of historiosophy, and incisive
descriptions of conflicts followed by nefarious compromises this is one of the most
frightening tomes I have read of late. "Radical State" amounts to medical dispatches
regarding a body politique fighting for its survival and identity, soul-snatched from within,
clueless and helpless and thrashing about in a desperate attempt to rid itself of its tormentors
or, hopelessly, to negotiate a liveable compromise with them.
But the author does not dare go where her narrative leads inexorably: history teaches us that
only ethnic and cultural homogeneity yield peace and democracy in Europe. Ethnic cleansing
and genocide have been repeatedly used (even in countries such as Norway and
Czechoslovakia) to create homogenous polities not because of the evil inherent in the hearts
of Homo europeansis (a-la Goldhagen) but because they provided workable outcomes.
Europe should close its gates to immigrants whose culture and background are not
recognizably Western, and, particularly, to Muslims. It should also expel Muslims from
Europe in a graduated but decisive manner.
Islam and the West are mutually exclusive propositions. Huntington was right.
Islam is not merely a religion. It is also - and perhaps, foremost - a state ideology. It is all-
pervasive and missionary. It permeates every aspect of social cooperation and culture. It is an
organizing principle, a narrative, a philosophy, a value system, and a vade mecum. In this it
resembles Confucianism and, to some extent, Hinduism.
Judaism and its offspring, Christianity - though heavily involved in political affairs
throughout the ages - have kept their dignified distance from such corporeal matters. These
are religions of "heaven" as opposed to Islam, a practical, pragmatic, hands-on, ubiquitous,
"earthly" creed.
Secular religions - Democratic Liberalism, Communism, Fascism, Nazism, Socialism and
other isms - are more akin to Islam than to, let's say, Buddhism. They are universal,
prescriptive, and total. They provide recipes, rules, and norms regarding every aspect of
existence - individual, social, cultural, moral, economic, political, military, and
At the end of the Cold War, Democratic Liberalism stood triumphant over the fresh graves of
its ideological opponents. They have all been eradicated. This precipitated Fukuyama's
premature diagnosis (the End of History). But one state ideology, one bitter rival, one
implacable opponent, one contestant for world domination, one antithesis remained: Islam.
Militant Islam is, therefore, not a cancerous mutation of "true" Islam. On the contrary, it is
the purest expression of its nature as an imperialistic religion which demands unmitigated
obedience from its followers and regards all infidels as both inferior and avowed enemies.
The same can be said about Democratic Liberalism. Like Islam, it does not hesitate to
exercise force, is missionary, colonizing, and regards itself as a monopolist of the "truth" and
of "universal values". Its antagonists are invariably portrayed as depraved, primitive, and
below par.
Such mutually exclusive claims were bound to lead to an all-out conflict sooner or later. The
"War on Terrorism" is only the latest round in a millennium-old war between Islam and other
"world systems". Europe is in the crosshairs, enduring the crossfire. It should extricate itself
from this Armageddon: it should rid itself of its Muslims.
Interview granted to Ernest Dempsey on October 10, 2012
Q. Does having some problems with a particular religion, like I slam in this case, mean that
entire cultural diversity be banned by political authority? I s it justifiable by reason? (in
other words, will be it rational?)
A. Diversity is a concept that is subject to a calculus of rights and their commensurate
obligations within an overarching value system. In other words: individuals and groups have
the right to pronounce their differentness and uniqueness; to practice their religion; to
espouse and preach their beliefs; and to make rules and enforce them only when they
conform fully to the dominant values of the societies they live in (liberal democracy in the
case of the West.) This is why we ban Nazism, racism, all forms of hate speech, sexism, and
so on. Similarly, we should ban the practice of militant, fundamentalist, salafist, Wahabbist
Islam. Historically, these are mutations of Islam that were reactions to colonialism and
imperialism. Most Muslims abhor them as well.
Q. Dawkins bases his case on Sharia law, or I slamic law, which the Muslim minority wants
to live by in United Kingdom instead of the state or country law. So the concept of justice
seems to be at stake here. Shall they have to ban all cultures - or only Muslims (i.e. the few
who seem to be most problematic)? But in the same culture, do women not get mistreated
and even men discriminated against in certain cases (divorce for example)?
A. I dispute the statement that Muslims want to adhere to sharia law. There is no systematic
proof of this claim and a lot of anecdotal evidence against it. No need to complicate the issue:
all practices and speech acts religious, cultural, and political that run against the values of
the West should be banned in the West.
Q. Do you think Dawkins real concern should be improvement in law enforcement in the
country instead of trying to ban all or some cultures?
A. No culture, religion, belief, or value system should ever be banned in the West. Only
practices and speech acts religious, cultural, and political that run against the values of the
West should be banned in the West. Law enforcement agencies should prosecute people and
organizations whose practices and speech acts religious, cultural, and political run against
the values of the West.
Q. What will be the biggest advantage if we ban all cultures? Will it bolster harmony and
bring down social problems? And what will be the most negative implication? Will it not
create a divide and evoke hatred and intolerance between various cultures?
A. No one is suggesting to ban all cultures (you probably meant: all minority cultures.)
Monoculturalism is dull, counterproductive, and detrimental to the long-term evolution of the
species. It does not bring harmony, but dissent and unrest. People care about their cultural-
religious identities: it is the only way they can differentiate themselves in a hostile,
anonymous world. They rebel against any attempt to foist a homogeneous cultural space
where actual diversity prevails. But the rule is live and let live. Practices and speech acts
religious, cultural, and political which break this rule run against the values of the West
and should be banned and prosecuted in the West.
About the Author

Sam Vaknin ( ) is the author of Malignant Self-Love: Narcissism
Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East, as well as many other books and
ebooks about topics in psychology, relationships, philosophy, economics, and international

He is the Editor-in-Chief of Global Politician and served as a columnist for Central Europe
Review, PopMatters, eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI)
Senior Business Correspondent. He was the editor of mental health and Central East Europe
categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.
Visit Sam's Web site at
Work on Narcissism
Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited. (number 1 bestseller
in its category in Barnes and Noble). His work is quoted in well over 1000 scholarly
publications and in over 5000 books (full list here).

His Web site "Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited" was, for many years, an Open
Directory Cool Site and is a Psych-UK recommended Site.
Sam Vaknin is not a mental health professional though he is certified in
psychological counseling techniques by Brainbench.
Sam Vaknin served as the editor of Mental Health Disorders categories in the Open Directory
Project and on He maintains his own Websites about Narcissistic Personality
Disorder (NPD) and about relationships with abusive narcissists and psychopaths here and in
You can find his work on many other Web sites: Mental Health Matters, Mental Health
Sanctuary, Mental Health Today, Kathi's Mental Health Review and others.
Sam Vaknin wrote a column for Bellaonline on Narcissism and Abusive Relationships and is
a frequent contributor to Websites such as and Bizymoms (as an expert on
personality disorders).
Sam Vaknin served as the author of the Personality Disorders topic, Narcissistic Personality
Disorder topic, the Verbal and Emotional Abuse topic, and the Spousal Abuse and Domestic
Violence topic, all four on Suite101. He is the moderator of the Narcissistic Abuse
Study List , the Toxic Relationships Study List, and other mailing lists with a total of c.
20,000 members. He also publishes a bi-weekly Abusive Relationships Newsletter.
You can view Sam Vaknins biography here.