Moderate Muslims must accept Israel

Moderation Muslim, real or myth? Test: Accept Israel & Jews

By SALIM MANSUR — for the Toronto Sun

Ever since those who make Islam into an ideology of jihad (holy war) against the West struck on Sept. 11, 2001, the search for “moderate” Muslims by western governments has grown in proportion to the difficulty of defeating the Islamists.

In recent months, efforts to identify moderate Muslims and supporting them against Islamists have received public attention. A CBC-Environics poll in February pointed out “Canadian Muslims appear to be the most contented, moderate and, well, Canadian in the developed world.”

Then came the U.S. RAND Corporation’s March report on moderate Muslims, followed in May by the Pew Research Center survey of Muslim Americans.

The Pew survey sent a reassuring message that the vast majority of Muslim Americans are “assimilated, happy with their lives, and moderate with respect to many of the issues that have divided Muslims and westerners around the world.”

The RAND report recommended the United States and its allies adopt measures learned in the Cold War to defeat communism, by assisting in developing networks of moderate Muslims who constitute the majority of the Muslim population worldwide, empowering them to de-legitimize Islamism and defeat Islamists on the ground.

The mobilization of moderate Muslims is strategically important in winning the long war against Islamist terrorism, and for assisting in the transition of Muslim societies — many being failed states or on the brink of becoming them — into states with minimally responsible governments, caring of their people’s needs and evolving towards democracy.

But the fly in the reports and surveys of moderate Muslims is their failure or refusal to be heard in sufficient numbers — especially in the West where they enjoy full protection of the law — and thereby make the difference in public perception about their unequivocal opposition to Islamists and support for the measures being taken to defeat them.

Apart from the fear factor that inhibits many Muslims from taking a righteous stand publicly against Islamists, there is the added problem of defining what is meant by “moderate” Muslims.

The RAND report states,

    “Characteristics of moderate Muslims include: Support for democracy, internationally recognized human rights, including gender equality and freedom of worship; acceptance of nonsectarian sources of law; and opposition to terrorism.”

These could be taken as the minimal requirements in identifying moderate Muslims. I would add a further attribute to this list of characteristics.

That is, full recognition of the rights of Jews to be secure in Israel as the late president Anwar Sadat of Egypt acknowledged in his historic visit to Jerusalem in November 1977.

Moderate Muslims might readily accept the RAND definition, but many will balk at accepting Israel, which would genuinely advance peace between Jews and Arabs.

Indeed, the real test for separating truly moderate Muslims from so-called moderate Muslims that many western governments have eagerly sought to identify, is on how Muslims respond to the question of Jews and Israel.

As Daniel Pipes and others have repeatedly pointed out, moderate Muslims are the solution to ending the Islamist war with the West and for bringing much of the Arab-Muslim world out of its self-constructed misery.

However, Muslim silence in the face of the extremism of Islamism, of tolerating the intolerant, cannot make for moderation.

Unless Muslims in sufficient numbers, especially in the West, openly demonstrate their moderation meaningfully, it will remain prudent for non-Muslims to view “moderate” Muslims as an idea with some future promise, but as for today, often a myth, every bit as much as is the unicorn.

Salim Mansur is Senior Fellow at the Canadian Coalition for Democracies

August 6, 2007 | 1 Comment »

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  1. I would also recommend that the acid test for a “moderate” Muslim besides recognition of Israel and the denouncement of terrorism is the recognition that some of the teachings of mainstream Islam are extreme and violent relics of a past rooted in conquest that need to be changed.

    I would also like to hear Muslim leaders say that sharia is forbidden and that schools and religious institutions cannot be used for political and hate indoctrination. Spreading Islam through violence, war, torture and force, as is the norm in Islam, must be condemned.

    This brings us back to the same old question often asked in the pages of Israpundit: Is Islam minus the jihad really Islam or is it another religion altogether?

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