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Reader comment on item: Debating Campus Watch

Submitted by Enoch Wisner (United States), Nov 8, 2002 at 13:34

Mr. Pipes:

I am an orthodox Jew -- actually, what is too often called an "ultra-" orthodox Jew (the epithet is prejudicial hyperbole). I am no fan of Israel as the "Jewish State" -- it isn't -- but as A state, and one primarily constituted of Jews, I am deeply interested in its travails and fortunes. Your work, academic as well as substantive, in defense of an entity that would long since have been destroyed save for efforts such as yours, deserves to be recognized and applauded. However, honesty and candor are always at a disadvantage when competing with a partisan. Your opponants think only of their agenda, and "facts" are to be culled, interpreted and spun (when they are not crafted from whole cloth) only to support a foregone conclusion: it doesn't give those who would have the premises force the consequence much chance for a fair exchange.

There are only three approaches to explain the current Middle East situation, of which one predominates, a second gets a little lip service and the third is ignored altogether. The first alternative has one side claiming that the other is wrong and/or evil. Islam offers this assessment of the West, and the West (tacitly, at least) offers this assessment of Islam. Fair enough: let each contestant make the best case possible against the other. The second alternative, unabashed advocacy that, whatever the other side's merit, "my" side is better and more worthy, is apparent to some degree in Islam's evangelical character, but hardly apparent at all in the West's assertion of its own merit. The third alternative -- challenging the opposition while, at the same time, banging one's own drum -- is not deliberately, consistently and effectively practiced by either side.

You do good work, Mr. Pipes; but you will forgive this yeshiva teacher, I hope, if I give you an "Incomplete" for your assignment.

All the best,
E.W.
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