On distinguishing between good and evil

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Good deeds and the spurning of evil preoccupied us throughout the Days of Awe and the festival period, climaxing with the redemption of Gilad Schalit.

We live in times when concepts such as good and evil are deliberately blurred. For example, the mass murder of Norwegians in July by a demented neo-Nazi psychopath – a diabolically evil act – was globally exploited by far-left and Muslim groups to suppress legitimate condemnation or designation of extremist Islamic behavior as evil, even accusing critics of inciting mass murder.

Yet throughout the Arab world we are now witnessing the sickening elevation to hero status of some of the world’s most demented killers.

This is hardly a new phenomenon.

Can you recall the last time you had a serious discussion in which the word “evil” was mentioned? It’s unlikely, because employing such a term today is often regarded as politically incorrect and likely to lead to accusations of bias or bigotry.

During World War II, that the Nazis were evil was never in dispute. That knowledge did not imply that the Allies were pure. The Versailles settlement was unjust. Mistakes were made. There were undoubtedly degenerates in our ranks who committed crimes, and we were certainly conscious of the moral shortcomings of our Soviet allies.

But we unequivocally recognized that the Nazis represented evil incarnate and were willing to stake our lives in the struggle against the forces of darkness which sought to undermine freedom and civilization.

OVER THE past half-century, as post-modernism enveloped the new Europe, conflicts became increasingly viewed from the perspective of moral equivalency. Today, it is considered bigoted to define religious or nationalist crimes as evil.

This change in outlook is linked to the erosion of Judeo-Christian values, which despite being more frequently breached than honored, did at least provide a moral framework to distinguish between right and wrong.

It is no coincidence that Christianity in Europe has declined dramatically. In the UK today, more Muslims pray at mosques than Anglicans attend churches. Christian beliefs have been supplanted by secularism, and some churches have themselves adopted post-modernist concepts.

In contrast, in the US where religion continues to occupy a dominant role, morality remains relevant and politicians endeavor to frame their policies in a manner perceived to be ethical.

In this climate, many liberals refuse to take part in the battle against the new global evil confronting us. They fail to acknowledge that the radical elements dominating the Muslim world today represent no less a threat to western civilization than the Nazis in the 1930s. Even many committed Jewish leaders blur the reality, accusing those who point out that the Arab Islamic world is largely dominated by extremists of promoting “hysteria” and “ideological Islamophobia.”

The level of moderation in Islamic societies can be assessed by posing a number of questions: Do Islamic leaders and activists promote moderation or do they at best stand aside and avoid condemning the jihadists? Do most share the goal of imposing Sharia law throughout the world? Endorse freedom of worship? Protest against the violence and murder directed at critics of their prophet or Islam? Demand the curbing of the violent passions which incite hatred and extremism in their mosques, media outlets and schools? Most of the ruling elites in today’s Islamic Arab world would fail to provide acceptable responses to such questions.

In fact, it may not be politically correct to say, but the sad reality is that aside from a minority of courageous moderate Muslims – primarily domiciled in non-Muslim communities – the majority at best remain passive in relation to outrages committed by Islamic extremists.

Indeed, it is unfortunately indisputable that the vast majority of Arab Muslims identify with the naked evil radiating from the venomous, genocidal statements of Ahmadinejad, Hezbollah and Hamas, which leave nothing to the imagination.

And alas, the misnamed “Arab Spring” has merely resulted in an upsurge of regional extremist Islamic fundamentalist power.

It is not only adherents to the Hamas Charter who unashamedly endorse the murder of Jews and boast that they will never forgo the goal of destroying the Jewish state. The Palestinian Authority is merely more circumspect in statements designed for Western consumption. But a recent poll by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion demonstrated that the vast majority of Palestinians remain committed to our destruction.

Eighty percent responded that it was the duty of Muslims to participate in jihad to eradicate Israel and 73% endorsed the Hamas Charter quoting from the hadith, a call from the prophet Muhammad to kill all Jews.

All PA state instrumentalities – mosques, media and education system – glorify and sanctify mothers of suicide bombers, honoring as “martyrs” those who murder Israeli civilians.

We should be highlighting the contrasting societal responses to evil in democratic countries and Islamic fundamentalist regimes.

Critics of Islam in Western countries do not hail as national heroes liberated psychopaths who murder women and children.

They do not name city squares, erect statues or name football teams to commemorate the perpetrators of such actions. Nor do they hold street parties and hand out sweets to children to celebrate the death of innocent Muslims killed in the war against terror.

But in the wake of every attack on Israeli civilians, that is precisely what happens in the Palestinian street, yet those who condemn such behavior as barbaric are frequently accused Islamophobia and racism.

It is rational, not “racist,” to deem such behavior evil. Prior to Nazi indoctrination, Germany was considered the most cultured European nation.

Since the defeat of Hitler and the implementation of a normal educational curriculum, the evil instilled by the Nazis has been neutralized.

Instead of exposing the criminality and evil of the Palestinian regimes and proclaiming that there is still no credible Palestinian peace partner, we bury our heads in the sand, pleading for a renewal of ritual negotiations with those committed to our demise.

This repeatedly culminates with a “we give and they take” process as the Palestinians endeavor to dismember us in stages. It also contributes to the global climate of opinion in which our adversaries relegate us to pariah status.

The Palestinians are considered the most talented of all Arabs. Provide them with humanitarian leaders. Grant them an enlightened education to substitute the hatred and culture of death in which their youngsters are brainwashed and new humanitarian leaders would emerge, enabling Palestinians and Israelis to jointly create a magnificent region of peaceful coexistence and creativity.

But as Mahmoud Abbas demonstrated in his recent UN General Assembly address, for now, that is but a distant dream.

The time has come to evaluate the evidence, exercise moral judgment and act rationally. To flee from reality and submerge ourselves in a delusionary, Alice in Wonderland environment is highly tempting. But it may incur a heavy price on our children, who will ultimately be obliged to confront the existential threat emanating from the evil surrounding them.

ileibler@netvision.net.il

This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post



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