Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"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.


Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

A wise guy once noted a person can not have two masters, inevitably he will despise one and not the other.

11/13/2007 07:02:00 PM  
Blogger Pascal said...

Your mastery of understatement could well go unherealded by our ever burgeoning idiocracy. The most important warning to be gleaned from your analogy -- and thus sure to be ignored by everybody important -- might best be expressed by:

"Let's open our borders ever wider to Muslim immigrants so that the imminent conflict between their ideology and our first ammendment will sooner rather than later trigger the next American civil war."

With rulers like ours, who needs foreign enemies?

11/13/2007 10:02:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Matthew 12 (New International Version)

Jesus and Beelzebub
22Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23All the people were astonished and said, "Could this be the Son of David?"

24But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, "It is only by Beelzebub,[d] the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons."

25Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, "Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. 26If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? 27And if I drive out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. 28But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

29"Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man's house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can rob his house.

11/14/2007 01:30:00 AM  
Blogger Charles said...

Matthew 12 (King James Version)

22Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw.

23And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?

24But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils.

25And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:

26And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?

27And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.

28But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.

29Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.

11/14/2007 01:33:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

In fairness, Mohammed gave the Arabs, in Islam, a form of government arguably suited to tribal conditions. It created an overarching system of values that transcended the tribes. Were Islam confined to the Middle East the conflicts we describe here might not occur.

It is the Western-ness of Israel that creates the tension between relious affiliation and allegiance to the state. The Western concept of the state is the new; the Arab minister represents a more traditional point of view.

But it is in Europe and America that the two structures clash most completely. There Islam, transplanted from its Middle Eastern millieu becomes to the West what Western Israel is to the Middle East: an intrusion. However, the West, in its multicultural hubris, denies even the existence of intrusion, while Islam via another mode of logic rejects the possibility of intrusion.

11/14/2007 01:59:00 AM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Even without Islam, appeals to a second citizenship, to a higher loyalty, are often present in Western political life. During the Algerian War for example, a number of French intellectuals actively aided the FLN, reasoning that doing so was "patriotic"; that they were simply renewing their commitment to France's repubican and humanitarian traditions. During the Vietnam War, American novelist Mary McCarthy justified her visit to Hanoi on the grounds that she "cared enough about America to risk being hit by an American bomb".

It's all very inspiring stuff until you realize that the words really came down in the end to supporting FLN and the Communist Party of Vietnam. But that's just a detail. The important point is that even perfectly secular Western intellectuals (McCarthy was a self-described atheist) can claim membership in a private country, one in which they make their own rules. The right to one's own separate private allegiance, which some with justice might call freedom, poses real problems for society. Freedom and social cohesion are always in tension.

How if my higher calling leads me to abhor all Muslims? Or Jews? Or Chinese? One could object that this is racism. But how would it be different in principle to Majadle putting the allegiance to his beliefs above Israeli law or the French intellectuals putting their concept of republicanism over French law and aiding the FLN? Does it become a question of what you can get away with?

Maybe it does. The reason you can pubicly praise Stalin but not Hitler is not because Stalin was better than Hitler. He was worse. The reason is you can praise one but not the other is entirely a function of what you can get away with. It's arbitrary.

Therefore it's probably a mistake to rely on the belief that our liberties, our allowed opinions, are entirely governed by the dictates of natural law or reason. Because much of what we can do is governed by usage. Individuals are vulnerable to changes in fashion, and thus, to the whims of the arbiters. The power of political correctness lies precisely in that it can shift the goalposts. And yes, the goalposts can be shifted: by the public opinion gatekeepers, political majorities or government regulation. Things don't have to make sense.

11/14/2007 03:02:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

This story in rich in context on many levels. Islam's claim to the essential holiness of Jerusalem is based on a dream that Muhammad had about flying to there from Mecca on a magic horse. Jerusalem had no other connection with Islam until the military conquest of the area following the death of Muhammad.

I suppose it's fair to say that Islam has a present claim to hegemony of the City because of many years of occupation and the construction of the mosque on the Temple Mount - but no more than for any other mosque in any other city - and no more than for Christians or Jews who, if anything, have greater historical claims to the City, and especially to the Temple Mount.

So far as I know the Arab minister was not beheaded for his comments by the "angry Jewish street." Plus, the fact that the Israeli government even has an Arab Muslim minister should not be lost even on the most ardent Israeli basher.

I don't see anything intrinsically wrong with the comment, but if the Arab minister has a conflict that would affect his ability to perform his duty to the state he should do the honorable thing and resign from the government. If he did not resign I would sack him.

11/14/2007 09:01:00 AM  
Blogger David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 11/140/2007 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...

11/14/2007 09:42:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

At various times in this presidential race I have heard media types ask pundits "How come more blacks aren't planning on voting for Obama?"

Since the Liberal assumption is that blacks put their skin colors ahead of any other considerations, they are mistified.

The perfect answer is "You're a Racist... You tell me..."

11/15/2007 04:58:00 PM  

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