Sunday, July 31, 2005

Demonizing the Enemy Subverts Peace Process

Continued from previous page

When you demonize your enemy you only hurt yourself. It is important to our own souls and our healthy society that we remember that our enemies are individuals, and not a nameless mass of devils. Even amongst the enemy nation, like the Moabites to ancient Israel, there might reside in their midst a friend, a potential ally, a person absolutely necessary to our own bright future, as Ruth among the Moabites.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was fond of stating publicly that “our enemy are the terrorists, not the Palestinian people.” This perspective is essential to peace-making, which in turn is essential to the security of Israel and the happiness of her Jewish inhabitants. Current Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, to his credit, has taken a similarly pragmatic approach, attempting to separate terrorists from the Palestinian masses.

Americans must also remember that our enemy is not “the Arabs” nor “the Muslims”, but only those promoting a particular brand of radical Islam and those who promote terrorism as a tool in an apocalyptic war against the West. It is true that there are not enough loud voices in the Islamic world protesting terrorism, but there are such voices, and we must do what we can to strengthen them. One tool in weakening the voice of hatred and strengthening the voice of moderation is for us to be willing to distinguish between persons and not brand an entire nation, people or religion as hopelessly irredeemable. Hope for the future breeds compromise, tolerance and peace.

Stephen M. Wylen is the author of numerous books, including "The Seventy Faces of Torah: The Jewish Way of Reading the Sacred Scriptures."

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