The Other Israel and a visit to the local mosque

My father died this week, so my mother and I went to the mosque they went used to attend. We waited for an hour before the Imam showed, and while my mom was on the phone, I – being the bibliophile – passed the time by looking at the pile of books that were laid out for sale.

Many of the books were about theology; history of Shi’ism and Shi’ites in America; polemics against Wahhabism; Qu’rans, of course; and the odd book by a Western author, like the book by Karen Armstrong about Jerusalem. But it was another odd book that caught my eye, and it disturbed me that I would find it where my father was going to be remembered, a man who was highly educated and who placed great value on an enlightened worldview.

The book in question is called “Israel: Our Duty … Our Dilemma.” The print and cover design is reminiscent of those cheap Christian fundamentalist propaganda tomes you find in the religion section at the bookstore, or at bookstalls of crazy preachers wielding megahorns that tell passersby that they’re all going to hell. But it was the author that looked familiar yet I couldn’t remember where I heard of him before. When I looked up his name on the internet, I realized who it was –  Theodore Pike, an anti-Jewish Evangelical preacher who produced the ridiculously Judeophobic “documentary” called The Other Israel.

I first became familiar with the The Other Israel back in 1994 when a Pakistani Islamist friend loaned it to me; he felt the movie showed the true nature of Zionism and Jews. That this was produced by Christian fundamentalists apparently didn’t bother him; nor was the fact that it was an un-intellectual piece of shit that promotes a conspiracy-based worldview, despite the fact that such politics inevitably engender a broader racist ethos that targets other people of color and religious minorities, including Muslims.

Pike has some links with white supremacists and neo-Nazis, some of whom have built their political fortunes in recent years by targeting Muslims. And despite his embrace of Palestine, the anti-Muslim outlook of Christian fundamentalism and the anti-Jewish ideology of Pike are just two sides of the same anti-Semitic coin.

But it doesn’t end there. Pike’s views on Muslims is revealing. On page 89 of “Our Duty,” Pike wrote:

With the rise of Islam in the seventh century A.D., Babylonian Jewry entered their period of greatest power.”

Really? Do tell.

Mohammed, of course, was greatly influenced by Jewish law. Although his followers persecuted Jews during Islam’s beginnings, the Saracens soon began to tolerate Jews because they saw in them a powerful ally against their enemy, Christianity.”

In other words, Jews enabled Islamic expansion against Christendom. Therefore, a major obstacle  for a stronger Christendom to emerge against the Muslim world is world Jewry. And since Evangelicals like Pike want to convert Muslims, supporting Israel – which most of his fundamentalist cohorts do – is probably not going to work too well:

Such a policy, Ted has warned for the last 25 years, would only alienate the Arab world from the gospel and stimulate international Arab terrorism.”

Is that what Muslims want, a more fertile ground for fundamentalist Christianity to spread its tentacles? Pike and his father Claude were apparently instrumental in a “National Day of Prayer” that was established by the-President Ronald Reagan on Feb.12, 1982. This was just a small step by the Christian Right in “making powerful use of their efforts to bring America back to Christian moral values,” to quote Pike’s website.

Where would this leave Muslims and other non-Christians? Bringing America back to “Christian moral values” is just a thinly disguised attempt at institutionalizing Christian supremacist ideology, which will serve neither the interests of the Muslim community nor democracy itself.

So the question is this: Is Palestine such an important issue that we allow it to override our better judgement as to the identity of our enemies and our allies?

While solidarity with Palestine is hugely important, so is fighting reaction in all of its forms; as well as fighting America’s occupation of Afghanistan and the continued “post combat” occupation of Iraq. Sadly, I didn’t see any books dealing with those topics at the Masjid; I wasn’t surprised, either.

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