Blaming the United States, Israel, or Capitalism Is Not the Solution

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Ariel Cohen



The majority of participants (Cohen, Esposito, Fuller, and Khan) shared the
concern that militant and violent adherents of radical political Islam –
“jihadis,” for lack of a better term – may not only radicalize the West’s attitude
toward western Muslims, but, more importantly, toward Islam as a
whole. Indeed, the continuation of terrorism against western interests will
likely result in either an American or a combined western future response –
both political and military. The result of either action may be greater
involvement by the United States in the greater Middle East, although, ironically,
one needs to remember that it is the radicals who would, in fact, prefer
that this country pull out of the region.
Terrorism is also the cause of what some authors refer to as “Islamophobia,”
a phenomenon that remains quite rare despite the events of 9/11.
Though 2004 saw a greater number of anti-Jewish incidents reported in the
United States than anti-Islamic incidents, one could assume that the jihadis
would prefer to see anti-Muslim incidents carried out by Americans to
increase. One reason for this could be that aberrant American actions, especially
if they are blown out of proportion by media in the United States and
abroad, will radicalize Muslims and cause the jihadis’ ranks to swell.
Additionally, Cohen, Esposito, Fuller, and Khan also agreed upon the
necessity for a broader interpretation of the meaning of ijtihad as a tool of
modernization for the Muslim world. However, one of the other participants,
Jan, formulated a traditionalist/fundamentalist position regarding ijtihad,
viewing it as a tool that only the ulama can wield. He believes that mass and
elite indoctrination along the lines of traditional orthodox Islam will bring
about the establishment of a pan-Islamic state along the lines of a khilafah.
Most of other participants disagreed with such a prognosis.
Unfortunately, Esposito, Fuller, and Jan launched quite vitriolic and
misplaced attacks against the supporters of Israel. They refer to them by different
names: “pro-Likud Lobbies,” “extremists,” or supporters of the
“Zionist state.” The topic of Arab-Israeli relations has little to do with the
questions at hand: moderate Islam vs. radical Islam, and the future of political
Islam. If Israel never existed, the extremists would identify other issues
to fight about. Israel-bashers, fall prey – or are, indeed, intentional mouthpieces
for – a conspiracy theory of the worst kind: an ideological canard, that
the United States, or even the world, is run by the Jews. These modern simulacra
certainly resemble something out of the Protocols of the Elders of
Zion, a Czarist secret service (Okhrana) piece of anti-Semitic disinformation,
or the vitriolic rhetoric of Der Sturmer, the Nazi propaganda weekly
rag. Take Jan’s 2003 discussion of Husain Haqqani’s article in The Nation:
… there are well-studded gems for pleasing [the] master of our destiny,
the Zionists in the U.S… Realising Zionist power, the chief opportunist,
General Musharraf, took the lead through covert promises of recognising
Israel during his visit to the U.S.[2] The intellectual mercenaries are now
trying to catch up with some confused mixture of rejecting Musharraf and
accepting Israel ...

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