The late Krister Stendahl, bishop of Stockholm and dean of Harvard Divinity School, taught that people engaged in interfaith work should always compare the best in their own religion with the best in that of others. This has helped me not to judge Christianity by the anti-Semitism in some of its teachings and not to condemn Islam because Islamist extremists cause havoc in different parts of the world.
Stendahl’s stricture has also made me stay away from Jews who compare the best in Judaism with the worst in other religions. In view of recent incidents in Boston, London and Paris, and riots in Stockholm and elsewhere, a lot of people are prone to such distortions of Islam.
One of them is the American-Jewish blogger Pamela Geller. Echoing statements by responsible Jewish leaders in the United States, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the immediate past president of the Union for Reform Judaism, has described her in a recent Jerusalem Post column as “a bigot and a purveyor of hate.”
On the eve of her appearance here, the Toronto Board of Rabbis issued a statement expressing “profound disappointment” with the Jewish organization that had invited her.
In fact, the primary purpose was to silence a woman who speaks the truth about Islam's worst practices, a.k.a. the jihad imperative and the supremacism and Jew-hate inherent in Islamic doctrines.The primary purpose of the statement seems to have been to mend fences and build bridges between local Muslims and Jews. Its authors expressed the fear that Geller’s customary rants against Islam would create tensions between the two communities...
Too bad Dow and other Jewish "bridge-builders" are incapable of seeing that a focus on Islam's "best practices" in our time is akin to a focus on Germany's "best practices" (Bach, Beethoven, Goethe, etc.) during the Nazi era.
Update: My letter to the Star:
Like Dow Marmur, I would love to focus on Islam's "best practices." Unfortunately, it is Islam's "worst practices," i.e. armed jihad as practiced by the Tsarnaev brothers (who practiced it during the Boston Marathon) and Major Nidal Hasan (who practiced it at Fort Hood), which gravely threaten us. And no amount of ostrich-like head-in-the-sand contortions by those seeking to build bridges with moderate Muslims is going to alter that fact. Indeed, criticizing those, like Pamela Geller, who seek to shed light on these "worst practices," is an insult to Muslims, who are the ones most often on the receiving end of armed jihad.
Update: In her new book, American Betrayal, Diana West writes:
All these decades later [after the Cold War], no one wants to open their eyes to the Muslim Brotherhood's self-described "civilizational jihad," either. It hurts our heads. It exhausts our limited lexicon of ideology. I always wonder whether it is the inhumanity of totalitarian ideologies that somehow drives us from full acknowledgement, as if we recoil from the abyss, in which we perceive our complicity, and winnowing self-respect. Fresh evidence, then, corroborating facts, and clarity of language become doubly, triply worse than any of the depredations or even inhumanity of the offending creed...For proof of that one need look no further than the Pamela Geller incident--how a woman who speaks the facts about the totalitarianism of "civilization jihad," and does so in clear language, is viewed as doubly, triply more dangerous than the depredations and even inhumanity of the offending creed of jihad. Thus are Dow Marmur and the Toronto Board of Rabbis complicit in hiding the truth and the remorseless dhimmification of the West.