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why the analysis fails

Reader comment on item: Reframing the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Submitted by rw (United States), Jul 21, 2017 at 06:11

Dear Dr Pipes,

After many years of profitably following your work, and many years of surprise at your continued but often, apparently, self-contradictory assertion of moderate islam v islamism with moderate islam as the answer, there is finally a statement in your writings which it is possible for me to simply assert is wrong, and thereby provides me at least with a simple handle for questioning some of your ideas.

In this article you state quite simply "The good news is that all religions, being human constructs, change over time". This is very much your opinion and from my perspective, it simply isn't true. While human activity is involved, the belief systems that are termed 'religions' are not simply human constructs.

A more comprehensive view of the world says that human reality is not limited to the human; when the term 'spiritual' or some cognate is used, in most parts of the world the idea is not confined to some western conception of art and culture - in most places it means the involvement of unseen, non-human forces. Most societies historically seek to combat evil spirits; Jewish faith asserts God's direct involvement in our affairs; Christians see this involvement as culminating in God actually becoming a man; the unfortunate man Mohammed is chronicled as being visited and violently seized by an outside force . . . we can go on.

Islam itself is animated by a thoroughly nasty evil power which produces the most horrid system of thought and empowers its followers to the vilest actions. According to such as Wafa Sultan and so many other commentators (I think Nonie Darwish is probably the best) it is the islamic system which is sick to the core, affecting all under its sway to a greater or lesser extent.

For this reason, much as one might hope that your push for Israeli victory will prove successful, given your underlying mistaken view of islam it is a little hard to see that the resulting analysis and program is likely to be correct! What can be said is that a push for victory is a far more positive outlook, much more helpful than appeasement, but it is still not getting at the heart of things!

In a sense I don't quite understand what looks like the aspiritual view of things in a person of your background. (I have thoroughly enjoyed your fathers' books and his account of his faith in Vixi is most interesting and memorable.) There is a God,a good God. I believe that a nuanced view of islam says that an important element of islam is natural religion - man seeking God, to quote Paul in the old English version 'if haply he may be found'; but everything in any such search for God is, in islam, murderously vitiated by the Koran and everything to do with Mohammed.

So, while hoping that a change in discourse about Israeli victory may prove valuable - the real arena is more spiritual. I read that the old Roman, Cato, would conclude every oration with the words 'delenda est Cartaga' - Carthage must be destroyed. The issue for today is 'delendus est islam'! Happily, all over the world, for the first time in 1500 years, substantial numbers of muslims are discovering a viable alternative - see A Wind in the House of Islam by David Garrison.


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Daniel Pipes replies:

The notion of destroying Islam is delusional. The only realistic approach is to modernize it, to change it for the better.

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