The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Wednesday, July 24, 2002  

Ten Points on the Way to Recovery

Hmm . . . The headline and deck here sound all too much like a story in Vogue magazine, but this is a serious matter.

It’s not necessary for non-Muslim Americans to embrace Islam as a religion or a cultural identity to at least express some empathy with Muslims as human beings, but given our collective lack of understanding of Islam, as well as the culture of Muslims, Arabs, and Palestinians, it’s not too much to ask that we at least try to learn a little more than we know now.

A good start . . . “Challenging Ignorance on Islam: A Ten-Point Primer for Americans,” by Gary Leupp, associate professor of history and coordinator of the Asian studies program at Tufts University.

Leupp’s article makes innumerable valid points, including its last:

“Muslims and Jews in Palestine/Israel have not always hated one another, and the current Middle East conflict does not go back many centuries. Rather, it began with the influx of foreign Jews into the region after World War I, which became a flood as a result of the Holocaust, and with international support resulted in the formation of Israel as a specifically Jewish state in 1948. Jewish settlement and terrorism . . . resulted in the displacement of 750,000 Palestinian Arabs (including both Christians and Muslims). The Arab-Israeli conflict is not, fundamentally, about Islam, or a clash between Islam and other faiths, but about this -- worldly land grabbing, settlement, dispossession and oppression that has enraged the Muslim world, as it should enrage any thinking, moral human being.”

That’s about as contentious as Leupp’s article gets. If you can handle that, you’ll learn a great deal from the rest of the professor’s essay.

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