The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


A 26 year-old Palestinian man, Amjad Jouri, was accosted recently by the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades in the West bank town of Nablus. He was suspected of escorting IDF troops during past raids on bomb-making factories in Nablus. The Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades is closely affiliated with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party. Mr Jouri was not arrested or tried—rather he was shot in both legs.

The Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, continues the story:
While doctors were X-raying Jouri's leg at the Rafidia hospital, gunmen burst into the room and killed him, witnesses said. Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades officials confirmed that the organization had killed Jouri.

It’s worth noting that Fatah is considered by many to be a “moderate” Palestinian faction. The Bush Administration, the EU, the UN and others are rushing to provide them with arms and funding after Hamas’ coup in Gaza. Not a word of criticism, commentary, or reporting concerning the murder of Amjad Jouri appeared in the MSM(some Right-leaning blogs did mention it). After all, if we connect the dots, it might jeopardize the fiction we’ve created concerning the Fatah “moderates.” But no worries. It’s just one murder by a group of serial murderers—no real news there.

There is, however, some really troubling news about Islamic moderates. Tony Blankley reports:
I have just finished reading a deeply disheartening book by my friend Professor Akbar Ahmed. Dr. Ahmed is the former Pakistani high commissioner to Britain and member of the faculties of Harvard, Princeton and Cambridge, current chair of Islamic Studies at American University -- and is in the front ranks of what we Westerners call the moderate Muslims, who we are counting on to win the hearts and minds of the others.

Blankley notes that Dr. Ahmed is an optimist and a bit of an idealist who has taken the position that Islam can be modernized and can co-exist with other religions and cultures. After extensive world wide research, his book is much less optimistic. Ahmed notes:
"The progressive and active Aligarth model [true moderate Islam] had become enfeebled and in danger of being overtaken by the Deoband model [Islamist ideology]... I felt like a warrior in the midst of the fray who knew the odds were against him but never quite realized that his side had already lost the war."

Blankley continues:
He [Professor Ahmed} likewise reported from Indonesia -- invariably characterized as practicing a more moderate form of Islam. There, too, his report was crushingly negative. Meeting with people from presidents to cab drivers, from elite professors to students from modest schools (Dr. Ahmed holds a respected place in the Muslim firmament around the globe), reports that 50 percent want Shariah law, support the Bali terrorist bombing, oppose women in politics, support stoning adulterers to death. Indonesia's secular legal system and tolerant pluralist society is being "infiltrated by Deoband thinking ... Dwindling moderates and growing extremists are a dangerous challenging development."

Although I dissent from several of Dr. Ahmed's characterizations of the Bush Administration, Washington policymakers and journalists should read this book because it delivers a terrible message of warning both to those who say things aren't as bad as Bush says, and we can rely on the moderate voices of Islam -- with a little assist from the West -- winning; and for those who argue for aggressive American action to show our strength to the Muslims (because, in Bin Laden's words, they follow the strong horse).

To the first group he says that the "moderate" voice is in near hopeless retreat across the Muslim world. Don't count on them. To the second group he says, whatever Bush's intentions, our aggression only strengthens our enemies.

Of course, Professor Akbar Ahmed’s research may be flawed and his interpretation may be inaccurate, but if he is correct, our reliance on the moderates within Islam to correct the slide toward Jihadism may be a pipe dream.

Too often in recent years, we’ve created convenient fictions—small lies that help us face uncertain events or a frightening future. Our reliance on the rise of Islamic “moderates” is one such fiction, and if we continue to believe it, a very ugly truth may ultimately invade our destiny.