“In India, as elsewhere in our darkening world, religion is the poison in the blood. Where religion intervenes, mere innocence is no excuse. Yet we go on skating around this issue, speaking of religion in the fashionable language of ‘respect’.”
— Salman Rushdie
In took the Unites States ten years or more to settle the score with Osama bin Laden, the number one terrorist of the new era. In the US, just like other places around the world, people went out celebrating in the streets. Still, every commentator bothered to explain the already-known: The fight against terror is not over, and a new spiritual leader will probably pop up to fill the gap.
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Whoever experienced talking to people who had undergone some kind of brainwashing, knows the feeling of talking to a brick wall. A sort of infertile discussion that reminds the attempt of selling a used car to someone you’ve just murdered his family in front of him. A hopeless effort to conduct a rational argument with a brain that is apparently open for emotional considerations only.
During the first Israeli-Lebanon war, IDF soldiers became aware of the phenomenon of Shiite Muslim suicide bombers. Later on, many Israeli civilians learned first-hand about the horrors of suicide bombers, who are about to embark – from their point a view – a journey to a Heaven swarming with virgins made to serve martyrs, a.k.a ‘shaheeds’. In days to come, the whole world witnessed some apparently educated people – language-speaking pilots – fervently navigating their airplanes into towers and buildings, equipped with similar motivation and goals.
And here is tactics vs. strategy for you: During the first Israeli-Lebanon war, the Israeli Chief of Staff – the late Rafael ‘Raful’ Eitan – expressed himself in the media: “We shall help them reach Heaven”. The State of Israel within its private struggle, like other countries of the Western World in their similar struggles, did help some potential suiciders to reach Heaven earlier. The problem is similar to a known Hebrew phrase discussing the issue of threatening a whore with rape: It is not really clear how effective it is to threaten a suicidal person with death.
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In the end of the Nineties, a small Israeli organization named ‘Daat Emet’ (‘Knowing the Truth’) was established. In its beginning, Daat Emet approached ultra-Orthodox ‘Haredi’ Jewish population, using some pretty good knowledge of their target audience. One may say they succeeded in doing the allegedly impossible, managing a rational discussion with irrational negotiators. The reason for their partial success is a fascinating topic by itself. In some way, Daat Emet’s contents approached the believers using their own language and mindset.
And here is a very long sentence: If such a small organization succeeded in transforming itself into a well-known brand, and even demonstrated considerable achievements in changing people’s mindset, up to the point of re-educating them into more skeptic and productive thinking… then one can only assume that a similar effort based on more serious resources (like the opposite effort using much of our tax money to educate little children into irrational religious thinking), would achieve a much more significant success.
Hence the question: Why not taking the same measures to encourage skeptical-rational thinking among religious fanatic audience, but not necessarily an Orthodox Jewish audience? The Orthodox Jewish nonsense does not have exclusivity in controlling human minds, and even the greatest deniers of evolution tend to define many of the Muslims as cousins of the Jews.
Yes, it takes considerable knowledge in Islam and its rituals. It also requires time and money resources. C’mon… for the price of four ‘Iron Dome’ missiles one may finance a significant and focused educational effort, targeting both Islamic knowledge and emotions, encouraging healthy skepticism and rational thinking.
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Bin Laden’s extermination is a pain relieving medication while fighting cancer. A touch of good feeling for a couple of hours, not very much beyond it. The right way to tackle the “Islamic threat” is, if you will, an “Islamic Daat Emet” — Curing the roots of the problems rather than its occasional symptoms. Yet what is known as ‘The West’ (Israel included) will not select the right medication, for the simple reason it suffers from the very same disease: The Western countries have not yet been able to distinguish ‘religion’ from the alleged need to ‘respect’ it. Culturally and politically they largely believe in parallel nonsense. It is possible, perhaps even probable, that if and when they are released from this complex, it will be too late for them.