December 9, 2003

by Joe Sobran

     As the United States gets more deeply embroiled in 
the Middle Eastern conflict between Jews and Muslims, 
Americans would do well to acquaint themselves with the 
rival religions of Judaism and Islam.

     Much of what follows is drawn from a small book 
and Robert Spencer, which in turn draws on the Koran and 
other Islamic sources. Mr. Ali himself is a scholarly 
Iraqi Kurd who converted from Islam to Catholicism.

     To a Christian, especially a Catholic schooled in 
the Thomist tradition, the most startling thing about 
Islam is its conception of Allah. According to Muslim 
teaching, Allah is not only all-powerful, but free even 
to contradict himself and the laws of logic; man, on the 
other hand, has no free will. If he wished, Allah could 
reverse his own moral commands and bless murder and 
adultery, though he chooses not to. (He could also 
mandate same-sex marriage if he chose. His omnipotence is 
comparable only to that of an American court; and to the 
Western Christian he appears nearly as arbitrary.)

     Islam accepts parts of the Hebrew and Christian 
scriptures, but it radically changes their significance. 
It reveres Jesus as a great prophet (and Mary as his 
virgin mother), but denies his divinity. Indeed it 
regards the Trinity as a blasphemous doctrine; belief in 
it is a form of polytheism, worthy of damnation. Allah is 
not "the Father," and he has no son. Muhammad himself was 
only a man and a prophet, claiming no divine nature for 
himself. The Koran denies that Jesus was crucified or 
actually died.

     If Christians are damned, so are Jews, whom the 
Koran calls "sons of pigs and monkeys." Muhammad himself, 
a warrior as well as a prophet, ordered the assassination 
of numerous Jewish leaders and rejoiced at the killing of 
a Jewish woman who had mocked him in indecent verses. 
Only Muslims can be saved.

     Another small book, JEWISH HISTORY, JEWISH RELIGION, 
by the late Israel Shahak, illuminates the influence of 
Talmudic Judaism on the state of Israel. According to 
Shahak, the Talmud and associated traditional teachings 
"inculcate an attitude of scorn and hatred toward 
gentiles," especially Christians. One ancient prayer 
beseeches, "[May] all the Christians perish instantly."

     The Talmudic literature is more concerned with 
ritual and practice than with theology as Christians 
understand it. Still, it's imbued with what Shahak calls 
"a very deep hatred towards Christianity." "According to 
the Talmud," he writes, "Jesus was executed by a proper 
rabbinical court for idolatry, inciting other Jews to 
idolatry, and contempt for rabbinical authority." Other 
Jewish sources accuse him of sorcery and assert that he 
was damned to hell, where he suffers in boiling 
excrement; also that he was a "bastard," his mother 
having "played the harlot" with Roman soldiers and 
conceived him, uncleanly, during menstruation.

     Beyond such graphic specifics, Shahak quotes many 
Talmudic passages forbidding Jews to save the lives of 
gentiles (except under unusual circumstances), forbidding 
the sale of land to gentiles, forbidding the drinking of 
wine handled by gentiles, forbidding Jews to praise 
gentiles, forbidding gentiles to testify in rabbinical 
courts, and so on. The pious Jew is directed to spit 
(ideally, three times) when passing a gentile cemetery, 
or when seeing a crucifix.

     In Judaism, adultery is among the gravest of sins. 
Adultery by a married Jewish woman is a capital offense 
for both parties. But a Jewish man may copulate with any 
gentile woman, married or not, with impunity, since 
gentiles are presumed "utterly promiscuous," like beasts. 
Thus "the concept of adultery does not apply to 
intercourse between a Jewish man and a gentile woman."

     And murder? "A gentile murderer who happens to be 
under Jewish jurisdiction must be executed whether the 
victim was Jewish or not. However, if the victim was 
gentile and the murderer converts to Judaism, he is not 

     Neither the state of Israel nor most Arab states 
adhere rigorously to Judaic and Islamic law. But these 
examples are enough to suggest how alien their cultures 
are to Christian and Western modes of thinking. They 
conceive the world in entirely different ways, and it's 
the most naive folly to imagine that we pragmatic 
Americans can settle their metaphysical enmities by 
imposing the machinery of what we call "democracy."


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