The rabbis cited mutual hatred among Jews as the sin responsible for the Second Temple’s destruction. Have Jews learned the lesson?
Donald Trump’s speech in the Saudi capital on Sunday was expected to be a definitive statement on the problem of Islamist terror and American relations with the Muslim world more broadly. While finding much to praise in the address, Elliott Abrams also finds much lacking:
Twice President Trump called Islamist terrorism and extremism an “ideology,” suggesting that he understands it to be a belief system. But he appeared to be arguing that military action alone would defeat it. It won’t: Islamist extremism is a terrible and dangerous idea, and it will not be defeated by military action alone. We need other, better ideas to battle against extremist ideas. To put it another way, Trump’s military approach would work if terrorists had dropped out of the sky like creatures in some action movie about the invasion of earth. But terrorists don’t descend upon us like that: they actually emerge from the societies whose leaders he was addressing.
Why? That is the great question that Trump buried. Why in the last several decades do Muslim societies produce brutal terrorist murderers? . . .
Trump also, though with reason, stayed completely away from the embarrassing fact that Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi Islam is at least a gateway drug for extremism. All around the world, Saudi money is being used to suppress indigenous forms of Islam. Saudi preachers, mosques, and schools teach that local and moderate versions of Islam are impure and must be replaced by the only true version: the Saudi Wahhabi version. But that version of Islam treats unbelievers with contempt and often hatred, oppresses women, and opposes democracy. It would have been impolite and in fact nasty for Trump to say this in public as a guest in Saudi Arabia, but one wonders what he said privately. . . .
Combating extremist ideology must start at home for the Saudis, and it is to be hoped that Trump told them so in his private sessions. Trump did use the word “reform” in his speech, and the word “justice,” but his main message about Muslim societies that are giving rise to terrorists was that we would not raise this question. He said: “We are not here to lecture—we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership based on shared interests and values.” What are those values? Equality for women? He did not say so with clarity. Liberty? Not mentioned. Religious freedom for non-Muslims? Hinted but not stated.