The comparatively wide popularity of "Jerusalem Day" is probably due to the belief stated by Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Calling Israel's continuing existence an "insult to human dignity," he said "the creation, continued existence and unlimited (Western) support for this regime is an insult to human dignity ... The occupation of Palestine is not limited to one land. The Zionist issue is now a global issue."
In Iran, Muslims chanted "Death to America" and "Death to Israel:" In the local language, I presume.
The Iranian president wants to see Israel "wiped off the map." The Associated Press story on this issue explained Ahmadinejad's reason for supporting a "death to Israel" position. "He has also called the Nazi Holocaust a 'myth' used as a pretext for carving out a Jewish state in the heart of the Muslim world after the World War II."
In addition to the familiar chants, Muslims burned Israeli and American flags.
I can, in a way, understand the way at least some Muslims feel. Jerusalem is where they believe the Prophet Mohamed took off on his journey to heaven. Given that belief, I can see how they are enraged by Jews controlling the city.
I'm sure that the Muslims who celebrate Al Quds Day would be delighted to see Jerusalem free of Jewish control. They'd also, I suspect, just as soon have Jerusalem and Israel a Jew-free zone.
Why is this important?
I think it is vital to remember what's at stake in the war on terror. It isn't just a matter of arresting Osama bin Laden and affording him an impartial trial.
- Stopping Al Queda is an important part of making those of us who live in the 21st century safe.
- Stopping the Taliban is, too.
- Making sure that Iran doesn't get first-strike nuclear capability is another priority.
Militant Salfists aren't a threat to western civilization alone. Muslims who have gotten used to the living in a post-18th century world also have a great deal to lose.
To me, it doesn't seem like a hard choice.
- Accept ideas about human rights that are a centuries-old tradition in the west.
- Reject honor killings.
- Accept the idea that women can drive, and think, as well as men.
- Embrace the idea that people you don't agree with may be allowed to live.
- Dedicate your life to turning the clock back at least 12 centuries.
- Kill members of your family who shamed you by being raped.
- Keep your women under wraps: literally.
- Kill anyone who you or your imam says doesn't have the right beliefs.
I hope that many Muslims will decide that the tolerant, free, west offers them more than mere prosperity and safety. I think that they will find a civilization that has learned to tolerate a wide variety of beliefs will tolerate a non-violent form of Islam.
And, who knows? Muslims may find that being able to speak freely will help them regain the status and prosperity that the Islamic world enjoyed a thousand years ago.
Related posts, on tolerance, bigotry, racism, and hatred