Israel Should Be the Litmus Test of Muslim Moderation

December 9, 2015 | Liel Leibovitz
About the author: Liel Leibovitz, a journalist, media critic, and video-game scholar, is a senior writer for the online magazine Tablet.

Western observers are all too eager, writes Liel Leibovitz, to sort Muslims into “moderate” and “extremist” camps. The limits of such distinctions immediately become apparent when the attitudes of supposedly moderate Muslims toward Israel come to the fore. Take, for instance, the seemingly “moderate” father of the perpetrator of the San Bernardino attack, who responded to his son’s obsessive hatred of Israel by reassuring him that Israel will disappear in a few years and the Jews will be sent “back to Ukraine.”

[W]hen it comes to moderate Muslims, we view Jew-hating as understandable, even acceptable. . . . [V]ile statements [about Israel] are explained away by mumbling something about the occupation or Gaza or the lasting effect of a strange religious conflict over some faraway land none of us well-heeled Westerners have any business trying to understand. That’s a travesty.

A tiny religious minority group with its own independent national existence, Jews are the Middle East’s essential others. A failure to think of them in any other way but yearning for their destruction [means] you should neither call yourself a moderate nor hope ever to strike roots in a democratic society that still believes in the bounties of peace, pluralism, and liberty.

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