“We can proceed from the assumption that Judaism and Islam, while certainly differing in a number of fundamental perspectives and priorities — are, as religious communities, not in conflict.” In the main part, Christians, Jews, and Muslims and others are not naturally in conflict. There’s no cause but what may be amplified — or provoked! – in content of imagination and mind. However, legal, social, and political histories evolving after Hillel the Elder, a jurist who may have laid the foundation for a universalized access to Judaism, belie the assumption. Denial is sweet, but like sugar poured on a wound, may add to injury, and all have been injured on the monotheist merry-go-round that follows from Hillel’s outlook and the adaptation of Judaism to restive populations.

The Jews, not to separate myself too much, are a deeply rooted ethnolinguistic people, indigenous and inherent or joined, brought together beneath the umbrella of a common outlook about humanity. That it works may be born out by what has followed, and now we’re here and perhaps again — all sharing a common basis in faith: God — restive.

I don’t wish to drown in theology — it’s too soon — but may suggest being careful about assumptions that have deeply illiberal — enslaving — political consequences. What is here today is “back there” already. Looking forward may be part of a good assembling.


The source for the bounce:

Berman, Howard A.  “Jews and Muslims: A Call for Reconciliation.”  The American Council for Judaism.  Summer 2007.

A conciliatory stance may diminish the want of conflict and contribute to a character in conversation that eventually enables a clarified and frank reappraisal of ideas, instructions, and principles bound in with legacies in faith.  That conversation must and will be had, but whether today is its day is another matter.


And then on, I droned —

Setting aside the problems posed by inherently despotic leaders — they have their hidden stories and the concept of “malignant narcissism” may cover their intellectual disposition and layout — the psychologies of followers and readers differ also. Those are large areas for discussion, but Facebook threads challenge us to distill and compress as much as possible . . . .

Hillel’s statement to a man ambivalent about conversion sets out a standard perhaps implicit either in the Torah or the study of it: “That which is distasteful to thee, do not do to another. That is the whole of Torah. All of the rest is commentary. Now go and study.”

Would that would be all there was to it.

Similarly, when Muhammad says, “One scholar is more powerful against the devil than one thousand worshipers,” he too invokes a universal observation, value, and yearning where language and its treasures have flourished.

We’re all fine with that, or should be.

What happens next becomes history where differences become loud.

In the Jewish way, none of the prophets are close to God or treated as if gods. Moses is shy; he’s dependent on Aaron for advice; and when the waters are parted, it’s not Moses who does it. It’s God. When God sets out to “prove” (test) Abraham, we’re not told whether the test is of obedience or conscience, and we are left to note and argue an awful lot of evidence and subsequent story whether or not Abraham “passes” or “fails” this particular — and many of us believe dumb galunk that would sacrificed his own son without asking God a few questions fails by miles. And so it goes with differences in apprehension, conversational style, and the informing of conscience through language.

On the other side of Jewish liberalism and western “classical liberalism” . . . we miss a lot, which for me starts with the language traditions behind “7,000 living languages” (approximate current estimate) and adding in the ecological and social exigencies of living in large numbers elsewhere on the planet. “Illiberal assumptions” may account for social organization and political peace where imposed even if we don’t much like (and shouldn’t).

Talk and time may work miracles, and as we have that time now, let’s together — Christian, Jewish, and Muslim — set aside complaints and foibles and have a good look around as well as into (my fave) “conflict, culture, language, and psychology” — and see if we cannot produce a better world than that in which we find ourselves.

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