"Dissent is the Highest Form of Patriotism"
IsraelNN.com describes how an Israeli government minister has openly avowed a higher allegiance to Islam than to the country he represents. "The Israeli government's first Arab minister made it clear Wednesday that as far as the Temple Mount is concerned, Israeli sovereignty is nonexistent and Islam rules. The minister spoke in his official capacity as Minister of Science, Culture and Sport, from the Knesset podium, in response to a parliamentary question by MK Aryeh Eldad (NU/NRP) regarding the Temple Mount in Jerusalem."
The exchange apparently went like this:
At issue was whether Muslim authorities could dig on Temple Mount without the supervision of of the Department of Antiquities, risking damage to the remains of the Jewish temple beneath the surface.
Speaking from the plenum floor, MK Eldad asked Majadle pointedly: "Does Israeli law apply on the Temple Mount or does it not?"
Majadle answered: "In my opinion, certainly not." Eldad reminded him that in answering parliamentary questions he speaks for the entire government, but Majadle was unfazed: "I will say my opinion. Before I am a government minister I am first and foremost a person and a citizen and a Muslim. With all due respect for the law, the law was meant to respect the religion, the person and the citizen and protect him, and not the other way around, enslave him," he explained. "Therefore I say clearly: Al-Aksa, Al-Haram al-Sharif [as the Temple Mount is called by Muslims – ed.], cannot be under the authority of Israeli law."
Eldad interrupted him repeatedly, reminding him that he had sworn allegiance to the State of Israel and its laws, but Majadle insisted: "I hereby inform you, esteemed MK Eldad, that I may be a minister for one, two or ten years but I was born a Muslim and a Muslim I shall die. I respect Israeli law... but if there is a contradiction between the law and my deep faith as a Muslim, I announce that I will know what to choose."
Majadle seemed to be asserting that he was Israel's good servant, but Islam's first. But before any comparisons are made to St. Thomas More it would be well to remember that More resigned his positions, including that of Chancellor, rather than stand in opposition to the King, while Majadle firmly intended to hang on to his. The incident encapsulates the problem of resolving dual loyalties within a secular state.
More's solution to his conflict was to withdraw from public life and remain silent on the matter of the King's authority over matters ecclesiastical. Majadle's solution is apparently to assert the supremacy of ecclesiastical (Muslim) law over Israeli law not in matters spiritual but over the supervision of engineering works. It is therefore a conflict over power and jurisdiction rather than a question of faith.
Conflicts over the authority of Church and State have existed for much of recorded history. But the widely held Islamic distaste for separating Church and State creates a particular tension because for some Muslims, Islam assumes the aspect of the State. This automatically creates two states everywhere Islam is present: the Islamic community as a state and the secular state in which it resides.
By announcing a higher allegiance to his Muslim identity than to his Israeli citizenship, Majadle expresses the dilemma perfectly. This is the central issue around which all intellectual claims to incorporate "moderate Islam" into secular Western society must revolve. It is easy to see why the advocates of compromise are so eager to skate over the issue, because it potentially creates an irresolvable crisis of loyalties similar to those which divided America before the Civil War.
Lincoln expressed the problem best though his clarity of expression implied the worst for the possibilities of compromise. Can the modern world thread it's way around the dilemma?
A house divided against itself cannot stand." I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided.
It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.