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Sunday, June 5, 2016

britney spears
{But can you have one without the other?}

The primary religions of the Middle East are, obviously, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Each tends, speaking in broad terms, toward a universal perspective or a non-universal perspective.

Each tend to be, more or less, political or non-political.

I recognize that such broad characterizations invite noting the exceptions.

There are Jews who want to see the imposition of Torah law within Israel. That is what Meir Kahane wanted. There are Christians in the United States who would be delighted to live in an American Christian Fascist Theocracy. It is alleged that Sinclair Lewis said, "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross." And there are people of Muslim origin throughout the world who would very much prefer not to live under al-Sharia, thank you very much.

Nonetheless, there is a continuum among the religions of the Levant between the universal and the non-universal, the political and the non-political.

What I outline below is a sort-of pedagogical tool for considering the great religions of the Levant and how they relate to one another and to the rest of us today. It is not meant to be definitive, but is a construct that offers a way to consider current vital political questions around the Middle East. These questions include the Caliphatic dreams of many Muslims, the pulverization of Christians living within Muslim lands, and the efforts of the Jews of the region to hold-off a violent never-ending onslaught of hate.


Judaism, the first of the great three religions of the Levant, tends to be neither universal, nor political.

Judaism has never been a universal religion in the sense that it has never insisted that non-Jews must conform to the faith.

Nonetheless, the Jewish people represent the most inclusive nation in the world because anyone can join it via the faith. The Jews are a people like the French are a people and like the Japanese are a people, but if I were to move to Tokyo and learn the Japanese language and convert to Shinto, I could never actually be Japanese.

However, any Japanese person who converts to Judaism is a Jew.


Judaism, today, is also non-political. That is, virtually no Jews are calling for Israel, or any other country, to be ruled by the Torah. This does not mean, however, that Israel is entirely secular. There is an article in today's (6/2/16) Times of Israel by Amanda Borschel-Dan that discusses criminal penalties within Israel for Jews who marry outside of the rabbinate.

This represents the lingering of religious-based law within Israeli society - and it is a terrible law - but it does not define that country.

Whatever anyone might want to say about the Jewish State of Israel it is very definitely not a theocracy.

The rabbinate may have some power, but it is the secular government that rules.


Christianity is universal but, today, generally not political.

Christianity is universal because at the heart of the faith is the idea that the only way to come to know G-d - and thus the only way to come to heaven - is through devotion to Jesus Christ. Christian theology, unlike Jewish theology, is universal in the sense that its religious ideology applies to every soul on Earth. If you want to know the Truth of the Father than it must come via the testimony of the Son.

However, Christianity today is, like Judaism, generally non-political. The European Enlightenment of the seventeenth-century forced a schism between Church and State that holds. Virtually no one is calling for any country to be ruled according New Testament principles. Even die-hard, right-wing Evangelical Christians in Nebraska are not calling for the US government to be ruled according the will of Mathew, Mark, Luke, and John.


Islam is both universal and political.

Islam, like Christianity, is universal. That is, the only way to gain entrance to Paradise is via the prescriptions of the Prophet Mohammad. The difference is that within Christianity we are taught to turn the other cheek, whereas within Islam we are taught to head-chop the infidel.

Within Christianity there is the notion that the unrepentant sinner will be damned to eternal hell-fire.

Within Islam there is the prescription to crush the Infidel in this world, as well.

Thus Islam, in its political aspect, is far-and-away the most aggressive of the three.

Sharia forms the primary legal basis of the Muslim countries. This is why they hang Gay people from cranes in Iran, stone adulterous (or allegedly adulterous) women to death in Pakistan, and flay the skin of bloggers critical of Islam in Saudi Arabia.

As has been often noted, Islam has simply not gone through the Enlightenment changes and reforms that both Judaism and Christianity have.

The Islamic states have a generalized revulsion toward modernity even as they embrace the technological products of modernity.

They love iPhones but despise Britney Spears.

At the same time, the focus of their studies tend to be more Koranic than scientific and this is why the Caliphitic Dreams of so many Muslims can never be fulfilled. The Muslim governments can never hurt the western states by beating us over the head with the Koran. 

What they can do, and what they are doing, is shooing their "excess population" into the West, most particularly Europe.

Germany and Sweden are leading the way toward a new Europe.

Europe in the future - if not the West, more generally - is going to become more racist, more anti-Semitic, more homophobic, and more misogynistic.

The great irony is that it is the western-progressives, who supposedly stand for none of that, are leading the charge.

Michael Lumish is a blogger at the Israel Thrives blog as well as a regular contributor/blogger at Times of Israel and Jews Down Under.

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