Religious Liberalism
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
A comment I posted on Publius Pundit regarding Israel and its neighbors:

Let me take your points one by one:

1) What is a liberal democracy and why doesn't Palestine qualify?

Palestine is a democracy. But it is not liberal. Liberal, quite literally, means free. People have freedoms. There are lots of cases of unfree democracies (African nations are a prime example) where the majority dictates everything - and so elections turn violent or lose peace-making impact, because the loser can lose everything. Palestine is not liberal. Individuals have no guaranteed rights. Imagine being a Jew living in Gaza under a Palestinian government? Sadly, Israel is not as liberal as it should be. There is effectively a sliding scale of liberty and Israel is lower than it should be. Freedom House, as pointed out above, does a fairly good job of this. While they do have guaranteed rights, Arabs in Israel are disadvantaged, particularly when it comes to government funding. This points, in my mind, to a need for less government funding all around - so that elections are not about patronage. More critically, not even Jews in Israel have a right to free speech, freedom of assembly or a variety of basic rights. For the most part they get them and the Supreme Court does a fairly good job of this, but there is no liberal constitution. In fact, you can have a pretty liberal state that is not democratic. It is rare, but I would point to British Hong Kong as a prime example. Check out for lots more info.

2) Religious movements work against unIslamic regimes. Some governments support these, some oppose them. Why do I point to governments being the cause of terror?

All the Arab governments have fostered and supported terror. They only object when it is pointed at them. They cultivate an acceptance of the tools and aims of terror and then complain when it is refocused on them. Egypt allowed (and supported) the fedayeen, Saudi Arabia allowed and supported Al Qaeda. Wahabi Islam is core to the political set up. Jordan, Lebanon and Syria all fell into the same categories. Now Al Qaeda is anti-Saud, so the Saudis no longer support them. But it sure took a while - until well after 9/11. The Brotherhood is a special example. I believe they pre-date the modern Egyptian state. But have you noticed that there is basically no Turkish Brotherhood? The nations are about as old as one another. But one chose a path that did not support terror in any of its forms. They are dealing with essentially foreign terrorists (Kurds and Al Qaeda), not Turkish movements. My basic point, these states provided fertile ground for terror (against the British, Americans and Jews) and encouraged its mentality. They are not simply victims and it is not simply a mass phenomenon.

4) Large income inequality leads to angry poor who rally to Islam and terrorism

Ah yes. That's why we see so many rocket attacks on the US from Mexico. That's why we see so many cross border raids to kill American ranchers. Clearly income inquality is the core issue. It's amazingthe US isn't in a perpetual state of revolution. I mean there are a group of people at the top who have more money than the average American could make in 100,000 years. Don't you want to kill them?

Folks, it isn't about poverty. It is about freedom, and in this case, religion. Mexicans are freer in their own lands than Arabs. They are freer, even though many are not even legal residents, in the US. The special spices of mideast terrorism are Islam and a lack of liberty. I should note that people would call the massive African slaughters terrorism, except nobody cares about Africans. A million Congolese die, many massacred civilians, and it barely makes the news. There is terror there too. In the mideast, you also have Islam. Sadly, Islam is dedicated to a religious communalist vision which tends to lead to repression, death and war. Islam and nationalist Marxism (the only secular vision to take hold there) have created poverty and terror - not the other way around. The solution is to offer another vision. The Turks have secular communalism (as do the French), the Netherlands have pure secular liberalism, and the US offers religious liberalism. It is a war of ideas.

But in this war, it is the ideas that have created the conditions, not the conditions which have created the ideas.
The War on Terror is a war of ideologies. The terrorists have a fundamental belief in a religious communalist society. It is a model that's been tried a few times before and it tends to lead to repression, death and war (see European history). I believe in a religious liberal society ( A religious liberal is committed both to his or her religion and to the belief that governments are established primarily for the protection of individual liberty and human rights. I think it is a model that recognizes and leverages the power of religion while unleashing the creative and positive forces of freedom.

This blog is being created, by my mom and I, to discuss religious liberalism. It is a companion to her book "Liberty, God's Gift to Humanity" and the associated web site

Keep tuned.

A religious liberal is committed both to his or her religion and to the belief that governments are established primarily for the protection of individual liberty and human rights.

Chana is the academic who wrote Liberty, G-d's Gift to Humanity, Joseph relates the ideas to current events and discussions.

July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / March 2007 / July 2007 / November 2007 / October 2009 /

Powered by Blogger