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  Vol. 6  /  October 2004                 A JOURNAL OF POLITICS AND THE ARTS      


Democratizing Islam

Paul Eidelberg

This paper was published as ACPR’s Policy Paper No. 141 (2002)


Since September 11, an “Axis of Evil” is said to threaten mankind. It has been given various names: “Islamic fundamentalism”, “Islamism”, “militant Islam”, “Wahhabism”, etc. Each of these appellations is said to be an extreme form of Islam. The issue is of strategic significance. It is one thing to confront what may only be a fringe element of Islam; it is quite another if this element lurks in the hearts of Muslims everywhere and can everywhere explode into fanatical fury. Moreover, the United States may have the wherewithal to win a war against a supposedly marginal aspect of Islam. But that America possesses the wisdom and perseverance to win a war against Islam per se and then transform various Islamic regimes into democracies is rather dubious.

Be this as it may, no war can be wisely conducted and won unless the enemy is clearly defined. We need to know whether “Islamic fundamentalism” is authentic Islam. Let us first consult the doyen of Islamic history, Professor Bernard Lewis. In The Multiple Identities of the Middle East (1998), Lewis writes:

A basic, distinguishing feature of Islam is the all-embracing character of religion in the perception of Muslims. The Prophet, unlike earlier founders of religions, founded and governed a polity. As ruler, he promulgated laws, dispensed justice, commanded armies, made war, made peace, collected taxes, and did all the other things that a ruler does. This is reflected in the Qur`an itself, in the biography of the Prophet, and in the traditions concerning his life and work. The distinctive quality of Islam is most vividly illustrated in the injunction which occurs not once but several times in the Qur`an (3:104, 110; 7:157; 22:41, etc.), by which Muslims are instructed as to their basic duty, which is “to command good and forbid evil” – not just to do good and avoid evil, a personal duty imposed by all religions, but to command good and forbid evil, that is to say, to exercise authority to that end. Under the Prophet’s immediate successors, in the formative period of Islamic doctrine and law, his state became an empire in which Muslims conquered and subjugated non-Muslims.1

From its very inception, classical Islam fused religion and government, faith and power – with power concentrated in Muhammad and his successors, the caliphs. Within 100 years of its founding, Islam conquered much of the civilized world, spreading throughout Southwest Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. These were regions of ancient, advanced, and deep-rooted civilizations. They were totally obliterated and replaced by Islam.

Professor Lewis’ description of classical Islam conforms to what he calls “The current wave of religious militancy”, and which he says is “one of many in Islamic history...”2 In a most important conference held on October 3, 2002 at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI, on which, more later), Lewis declared that Islamic fundamentalism is “Islamism revived”.3 Yossef Bodansky puts it more vividly:

Throughout the Muslim world, from the Philippines to Morocco and in numerous Muslim émigré communities from Western Europe to the United States, Islamist terrorist and subversive cells are getting ready to strike out. As of late 1998, with the confrontation escalating between the United States and the Islamist international terrorist system as represented in the person of Osama bin-Laden, the terrorists have become increasingly ready with redundant and resilient networks, weapons of mass destruction, and powerful bombs, as well as zeal and readiness for martyrdom – all for what they perceive to be the noble cause of bringing the United States suffering and pain.4

A 1998 fatwa proclaimed, “one billion Muslims are capable of turning their bodies into bombs which are equal in force to all the weapons of...mass destruction possessed by the Americans.”5 Having suffered scores of suicide bombers, people in Israel take such fatwas seriously. Former Knesset Member Moshe Shamir warns: “the Arab-Islamic world sees itself as the only legitimate part of humanity and has placed Islamization of the world as its highest aim.”6 He fears, however, that despite September 11, America lacks the moral resources to honestly define and confront mankind’s greatest enemy, which, he says, bears a striking resemblance to Nazism. He fears that because of its economic interests in the Middle East, America may sacrifice Israel on the altar of Islam. Hence this essay.


Part I: Defining the Enemy and Ourselves

No less than Winston Churchill referred to Mein Kampf as “the new Qur`an of faith and war...”7 Apologists, nonetheless, select passages from the Qur`an that prescribe Islam’s “pleasant and peaceful ways”, while ignoring those that inspire Islam’s hate-filled and murderous fanaticism (2:190; 22:39-41). In a mosque sermon in Qatar on June 7, 2002, the imam prayed to Allah “to humiliate the infidels...destroy the Jews, the Christians, and their supporters...make their wives widows, make their children orphans, and make them a prey for Muslims.” Islam is anything but a religion of love.

One simple fact dispels academic obscurantism and “political correctness”: Islam’s most distinguishing and historically dynamic principle is jihad (holy war), and all four schools of Islamic law (Hanafi, Hanbali, Shafi`i, Maliki) refer to jihad as a commandment to wage offensive war against infidels for the sake of Allah. Consistent therewith, Muslims have plundered, butchered, subjugated, and degraded countless Christian and Jewish communities from the time of Muhammad to the present day.8 That they exult in this history of savagery in the name of Allah – we saw them rejoice throughout Islamdom in the destruction of the Twin Towers – is all the more reason why certain Arab and Islamic regimes must be conquered, just as Nazi Germany had to be conquered before it was democratized.

America’s war against international terrorism is in truth a war against Arab-Islamic civilization. This war dwarfs all others. Muslim-Arabs, who have no regard for the sanctity of human life, are accumulating weapons of mass murder. Muslims commit atrocities around the globe. The recent bombing of a nightclub in Indonesia, in which at least 187 people were killed – Australians and other foreigners – is a lurid case in point. Throughout its vast domain, Islam nurtures and provides havens for thousands of highly skilled terrorists committed to the destruction of Western civilization in general and of Israel in particular. Many of their leaders have been educated in the West and are familiar with biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons. They are motivated not by a righteous desire to alleviate the poverty of the Muslim world, but by a satanic hatred of the non-Muslim world. As Lewis has warned, the suicide bomber may become the metaphor of the Middle East. Never has mankind been so menaced.9

 Islam has already invaded Europe. Its goal is nothing less than conquest. And Europe, rotting in nihilism, hedonism, and anti-Semitism, is allied with its gravediggers.

The one country that stands in the way of Islam is the United States. Needless to say, the US cannot wage war simultaneously against some fifty Islamic regimes. Accordingly, intrepid commentators like Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute would have America proceed incrementally, beginning with the elimination of Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein. Baghdad would be first, followed by Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.10 From the demise of these and perhaps one or two other Islamic tyrannies (Libya and the Sudan), a chain reaction will supposedly follow and transform Islamdom. These commentators urge an American crusade to democratize the Islamic world. Predictably, they conceive of this crusade in purely secular terms. They ignore not only the fanatical devotion of the Muslim masses to Islam, but the unappealing aspects of the secular democratic world which, as eminent western scholars admit, is steeped in moral decay. Democratizing Islamic states might not be an unmixed blessing for the 1.2 billion Muslims that inhabit this planet.

If the war against Islam is to be won, the partisans of contemporary democracy will require a deeper understanding of what makes democracies preferable to Islamic (and other) tyrannies. These partisans invariably emphasize the freedom and equality enjoyed in democracies but absent in Islam. They overlook the fact that, unlike in former times, democratic freedom and equality lack ethical and rational constraints. Moral relativism infects the democratic mind and saps the will to overcome the absolutism of the Islamic mind. Lovers of democracy need to ask: What is there about democratic freedom that would prompt a person to restrain his passions, to be kind, honest, just? What is there about democratic equality that would prompt him to defer to wisdom or to show respect for teachers or parents? Are such qualities conspicuous in the secular democratic state?

The partisans of the secular democratic state need to recognize that the freedom and equality they exalt are pure potentialities – neither good nor evil – hence morally neutral. In the war against Islamic barbarism, democrats need to see that the sanctity of human life and the decency and civility still visible in contemporary democracy have nothing to do with democracy itself. They are rooted in the Bible of Israel and in Greek political philosophy. Waving the flag of freedom and equality American style will not purge Islam whose believers are willing to die for Allah. If, however, freedom and equality are derived from the Jewish conception of man’s creation in the image of God – which alone can provide democracy with an ethical and rational foundation – and if democracy, so conceived and so proclaimed, rallies a hundred million Christians in America, so many of whom look to Israel for light, then it may be possible to illuminate and transform the Islamic world. But this means that America needs Israel in the war against Islam.

Unfortunately, the government of Israel is not equal to the task. Its ruling elites have embraced contemporary democracy as their religion, despite its moral failings. The egotistical pluralism of democratic politics has fragmented the nation and made Israel another secular democratic state. Such a state, devoid of Jewish wisdom and vision, cannot possibly inspire America in the war against Islam. Israel’s pedestrian leaders can speak of nothing more than “peace and security”, for which they are willing to sacrifice Judea and Samaria, the heartland of the Jewish people. This not only diminishes American respect for Israel. It also arouses the contempt of Muslims, a contempt magnified by their awareness that Israel has the military power to conquer the land occupied by Arabs but refrains from doing so.

Unlike Muslims, whose sense of cultural superiority is unequaled, Israel’s political leaders are devoid of Jewish cultural pride. Consider their foreign policy, their pronouncements about the Arab-Israel conflict. Not a sign of joyful confidence in the justice of Israel’s cause. In the midst of war with Arab terrorists and suicide bombers, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon obtusely informed his countrymen that he had learned not to think in “black and white” terms!11 September 11 was not enough to dispel the moral flabbiness of Israel’s foreign policy and prompt the Sharon Government to eradicate the terrorist network in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. To the contrary, as may be seen in his Jerusalem Post interview of September 26, 2002, Mr. Sharon rejects a policy of zero-tolerance toward Arab terrorism:

Our policy is to prevent an escalation of terrorism and in fact to reduce it... I have always acted to prevent escalation of the situation...[meaning escalation on Israel’s part as well as on the part of the terrorists]... [G]oing in and destroying terrorism [as advocated by some Israeli politicians] is a wrong approach. (Emphasis added.)

Clearly, Sharon’s military objective is not to eliminate Arab terrorism but to prevent it from escalating beyond a “tolerable” level. More than 500 Jews have been killed and thousands wounded and maimed under Sharon’s policy, and there is no end in sight.

But even if Israel’s government were headed by a wiser and more dauntless leader, how can a cabinet composed of ten rival and ridiculous parties pursue a consistent and resolute national strategy – I mean a strategy whose initial objective is to eradicate the existential threat facing the Jewish state? On the other hand, what positive, what noble, what distinctively Jewish goal can inspire this state when cultural egalitarianism takes precedence over Judaism in the mentality of Israel’s political and judicial elites?

Thus, to say that America needs Israel in the war against Islam can only mean an Israel very different from the present one. I have in mind a New Israel, one with a Jewish structure of government that inspires respect, and whose immediate goal vis-à-vis Israel’s enemies is not peace but conquest.12 Only such an Israel, working with the United States, can bring about a structural transformation of Islam.


Part II: How to Democratize Islam

The year before he wrote his celebrated essay “The Clash of Civilizations?” in 1993, Samuel P. Huntington published an article titled, “How Countries Democratize”. Between 1974 and 1990, more than thirty countries in Europe, Latin America, and East Asia shifted from authoritarian to democratic systems of government. The regimes that moved to or toward democracy, says Huntington, fall into three groups: “one party systems, military regimes, and personal dictatorships”.13 Conspicuously absent from this study is any reference to the Arab-Islamic world, whose 22 regimes, unlike those mentioned by Huntington, may be classified as “theopolitical” despotisms.

Clearly, Islamdom is less susceptible to democratization than those studied by Huntington, which included the former Soviet Union. Unlike Soviet Communism, Islam is not a political ideology but a civilization animated by a religion that has imbued countless Muslims with aggressive pride. As indicated above, Muhammad and his successors established the most extensive empire in history. Islam’s past greatness is more real in the consciousness of the Muslim masses than Islam’s present backwardness. Western educated terrorists, who typically come from the middle class, disdain the blandishments of democracy. Beneath the veneer of Westernization, these Muslims have preserved their cultural identity in which they have been weaned. Not only do they dream of Islam’s past glory, but their reveries inspire their hatred and contempt for Islam’s usurpers and drive them to suicidal murder.

Muslim intellectuals, including those educated at Harvard and Oxford, despise the moral and cultural relativism that permeates the mentality of the West. I mention this because it would never occur to a relativist to refute Islam, which refutation may, in the last analysis, be necessary to break Islam’s hold on the Muslim masses. Who indeed, in this age of theological egalitarianism, will question Islam’s deity, say by discrediting its prophet, Muhammad? It was by destroying Zeus and Jupiter that Greek and Roman civilization were destroyed. And then there was Hirohito, the god of Japan, whose demise preceded the democratization of Japanese civilization.

Bearing the conquest and American occupation of Japan in mind, only if certain Islamic regimes are conquered and occupied, only if an entire generation of Muslim children is re-educated, only if political power is decentralized and political accountability replaces Muhammadan top-down leadership, can one speak sensibly of democratizing Islam. Merely to eliminate Muslim despots and institute democratic elections will accomplish nothing enduring.

 * * *

 Turning to particulars, it should be noted that contrary to the conventional view, ethnic and religious diversity is widespread in the Middle East. In the 21 Arab-defined countries – this excludes Iran – there are approximately 250 million people, some 40 million of whom are non-Arabs ethnically or nationally, or non-Muslims religiously. These 40 million inhabitants of Arab countries are not nationally or religiously affiliated with them. This substantial minority includes about 10 million Christians, particularly the Copts in Egypt, and large ethnic groups such as the Kurds and Berbers.14

The Iraqi Kurds are Muslims but not Arabs. Like Iraq’s ruling Sunni Arab majority, they are citizens of the state. Nevertheless, the Kurds’ ethnic loyalty is far more meaningful and stronger than their political loyalty. Also, their ethnic loyalty is stronger than their religious identity, which is why they have been inclined to seek separate statehood vis-à-vis the Arab Muslims of Iraq. Much the same may be said of the Druzes in Lebanon and Syria, the Baluch of Pakistan, and the Berbers of Morocco and Algeria. In contrast, the so-called Palestinians, far from being an oppressed minority, are part of the Sunni-Arab-Muslim majority which has ever aimed to smother the non-Muslim minorities of the Middle East.15

In addition to ethnic and religious diversity, there is also political diversity. Although Arab regimes have always been authoritarian, they divide into two basic types: military tyrannies and hereditary monarchies in which the military sustains the regime. Nevertheless, while some Muslim governments are conservative, others are revolutionary. Some practice capitalism while others practice various kinds of socialism. Some are friends or enemies of the United States, while others are more or less neutral. And of course, there are enormous differences in the per capita income and in the education level of these various Arab and Muslim countries.

Hence the type of democracy best suited for one state will not be equally suited for another. Doctrinairism must be avoided. A constitutional monarchy may be more appropriate in one country than a constitutional democracy. Similarly, in some countries, a presidential system of government may be preferable to a parliamentary one. And wherever significant ethnic and religious diversity exists in a particular country as large as Iraq, a federal, rather than a unitary system of government may be in order. In such cases, a bicameral legislature may be desirable, where one branch represents territorial divisions. (See further on.) Most importantly, the legal distribution of power assigned to the various branches of government must take account of the factual distribution of power in a particular country. Indeed, it will be necessary to radically change the factual distribution of power of Islamic regimes if any type of democracy is to endure, and the changes must be institutionalized and supervised over a significant period of time.

Finally, there inevitably arises the relationship between religion and state. If Turkey is the model, separation of religion and state appears to follow. But Turkey is contiguous with and closely linked to Europe, and it may not be an appropriate model for all regimes in the far-flung Islamic world. Also, let us be candid and admit that the separation of religion and state or public law in the West has not been an unmixed blessing. Separation surely was conducive to personal freedom and a more tolerant daily life. But over the course of the last two centuries, as personal freedom and daily life became more and more removed from religion, or, conversely, the more religion became a Sunday or fringe affair, freedom became separated from morality. The moral corruption now rampant in the West is a direct consequence of the separation of church and state. I hasten to add, however, that this separation was not unrelated to the church’s own corruption. Hence we must avoid both secular and religious dogmatism when addressing the problem of democratizing Islam.

To illustrate the problem, recall Algeria’s experiment with multiparty national elections in December 1991. In the first round of voting, the Islamic Salvation Front did well enough to prompt the military junta in power to cancel the second round and outlaw this populist party of unadulterated Muslims.16 The capitals of the democratic world breathed a sigh of relief at this failure of “democracy”! But meanwhile, Islamic terrorism continues to bloody Algeria.

Another illustration: Democracy means popular sovereignty, which translates into the rule of the majority. But the rule of the majority in most Muslim countries would result in the suppression of many rights associated with democracy. Bernard Lewis put it this way at the AEI conference mentioned above: the Western world, we are accustomed to regard women’s rights as part of the liberal program. In the Middle East, it doesn’t work that way. The liberal program is giving people what they want and what the people want [in Arab-Islamic countries] is suppressing women, so that you find that women’s rights [in the Middle East] fair better under autocratic than [they would] under democratic regimes.

This is one reason why Lewis believes that constitutional monarchy, which would be more compatible with Islamic culture, may also be preferable to unqualified democracy.

The above illustrations suggest that, given the religiosity of the Muslim masses, successful democratization of many Islamic regimes will have to be non-secular and moderately hierarchical. Consistent therewith, Islamic law embodies certain concepts which may serve the cause of democratization, if these concepts are newly interpreted, taught in schools, and used to restructure the governments of Islamic regimes. I have in mind four concepts which Muslim apologists refer to as having democratic significance, but which skeptics reject as illusionary. Here is how political scientist David Bukay of Haifa University defines and dismisses these concepts:

An immense literature has been published under the rubric, “Democracy in Islam”. It has several aspects: first, shurah, consultation, as if it functioned as in the Western system of parliamentary power; second, ijma`, the consensus of the community, as if there were social and political pluralism with decisions based on a majority; third, ijtihad, innovative interpretation, as if there were readiness to absorb opposing values and positions into the functioning of the Muslim political system; and fourth, hakmiyah, [as if it means popular] sovereignty...

Even in the conceptions of Islamic thinkers, shurah does not mean participation in political processes or political bargaining, including representation of pressure and interest groups... What they were referring to was an advisory council of experts in the moral field. Further, ijma` does not express consensus of the community. Rather it is an accepted tribal framework made of the tribal leaders or the heads of the community, or a “council of wise men”. Consensus was never a basis for general public expression. The same applies to ijtihad...there is no readiness to absorb the basic values of democracy, such as freedom of assembly and participation or individual rights. These were the prerogatives of the ruling elites alone. The people were never sovereign and were never asked its opinion on political issues. Sovereignty [of the people]...cannot exist in an all-embracing religion like Islam.17

Dr. Bukay’s skepticism regarding these concepts loses validity if key Islamic regimes are conquered and transformed (something he does not contemplate, perhaps because he does not identify “Islamic fundamentalism” with Islam). Moreover, the characteristics he attributes to democracy apply primarily to contemporary democracy, which is secular and devoid of substantive ethical norms. The present author rejects contemporary or normless democracy, and proposes, for Islam – indeed, for the West as a whole – a normative or classical conception of democracy, which can be assimilated to Judaism and Christianity. Bukay errs when he says, “any religion is opposed to democratic values in its conceptions and basic principles.”18 As I have elsewhere shown,19 Judaism provides a solid rational foundation and ethical content for freedom and equality. Muslims will more readily embrace these principles if they are derived from man’s creation in the image of God, and not from secular humanism, which, let us never forget, did not prevent Europe from collaborating in the Nazi Holocaust. Even now, Europe, the home of humanism, has succumbed to anti-Semitic support for Arab barbarism.

Returning to the four Islamic concepts in question, no doubt Professor Lewis had these concepts in mind when he said, “there are these older traditions, I will not say of democratic government but of government under law, government by consent, and government by contract in the Islamic world... And this I think holds possibilities for the future.”20 Let us see how this can be done from a theoretical perspective.

Abstracted from the oligarchic power structure that dominated Islam in the past, “consultation”, “consensus”, “innovative interpretation”, and “sovereignty” may be construed to justify a classical, democratic system of institutional checks and balances. “Consultation” and “consensus” can prescribe and describe the functional relationship between the executive and legislative branches of government. The executive obviously consults the legislature when submitting bills to that body. Whether unicameral or bicameral, the legislature, which in the West represents the diverse interests and opinions of civil society, deliberates and reaches an agreement (or consensus) to approve or reject, or propose amendments to the bills in question. The concept “innovative interpretation” may be assimilated to the function of a Supreme Court that can narrow or broaden the application of a law which citizens, in society at large, may challenge as violating a higher law, a constitution. The principles of this constitution must not clash with Islamic law as qualified by the first three aforementioned concepts (and others to be mentioned further on). As for the fourth concept, “sovereignty”, it must be limited to the majority of the people as represented in one branch of the Legislature if the latter is bicameral, as may be desirable in many Islamic regimes. (I shall deal with minorities later.)

Suggested here is a constitutional and somewhat hierarchic system of government based on religious principles. The constitution would prescribe, in addition to Islamic courts, an independent, unitary executive having the power to propose legislation, but which legislation would require the approval of a popularly elected assembly. This assembly need not have the power to initiate legislation. In fact, it was not until the 17th and 18th centuries that representative assemblies acquired that function. One can even go back to classical antiquity and find examples of popular assemblies whose function was not to make laws but to approve or reject proposed legislation submitted by magistrates. (John Stuart Mill has said, a “numerous assembly is as little fitted for the direct business of legislation as for that of administration.” The primary work of legislation must be done, and increasingly is being done, by the executive departments and administrative agencies.) We want to interpenetrate democratic and Islamic values.

There are groups in Muslim states that would welcome such reform.21 Israel could indirectly encourage them by adopting for itself a constitution based on Jewish principles, such as that proposed by the present writer in Jewish Statesmanship: Lest Israel Fall.22 Not only Islam but modern Israel lacks a system of institutional checks and balances, such as that prescribed in the Torah. Suffice to mention the division of powers between the King and the Great Sanhedrin or Supreme Court, whose laws were not valid unless acceptable to the majority of the public. (See Babylonian Talmud, Avoda Zara, 36a.) Also necessary in Arab states (as well as in Israel) is decentralization of political power. In large Arab states, as previously indicated, decentralization of power can be accomplished by federalism. Again the Torah provides a model: each of Israel’s ancient tribal or territorial regions had its own governor and its own autonomous Sanhedrin, whose members were drawn from the region in which they resided. (This is far more democratic than Israel’s existing system in which the Knesset, though popularly elected, is subservient to the government, whose ministers, as a result of fixed party lists and the absence of regional elections, can ignore public opinion with impunity.)

 * * *

 Here a brief digression is in order. It needs to be emphasized that the democratic transformation of Islam will not come about merely by economic and technological progress in the Middle East, the crypto-Marxist panacea of Shimon Peres. Islamic despots are not interested in alleviating the poverty of their people, but in maintaining Islam’s political-religious power structure. Meanwhile, the cosmopolitan Internet, far from liberating the Muslim masses, has facilitated the transmission of anti-Semitism and the global communications of terrorists. It was not only economic motives but imperialistic ambitions that prompted Nazi Germany and Japan to launch World War II, and it is only because those dictatorships were conquered, occupied, and democratized that peace now prevails between them and the United States. Israel’s political and intellectual elites should emphasize these facts at home and abroad.

It so happens, however, that the Jewish state, craving recognition, exaggerates the importance of establishing diplomatic relations with Islamic regimes, which relations cannot but dignify these tyrannies. Contrast the US, which did not recognize the Soviet Union until the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt – 16 years after the Bolshevik Revolution. Four American presidents, including Woodrow Wilson, refused to recognize Communist Russia on the grounds that it was animated by a militant ideology and ruled by men whose signatures to international agreements were worthless.23 Nor did recognition of the Soviet Union diminish its hostile designs on democratic America. We see the same hostile attitude in Egypt toward Israel despite their 1979 peace treaty.

 * * *

 No peace agreement but only the tangible democratization of Islam rooted in ethical-religious principles can provide a basis for peace in the religious Middle East. Such principles will be found not only in the Torah, but, strange as it may seem, in a joint resolution of the United States Congress. For in 1991, Congress explicitly incorporated the Seven Noahide Laws of Universal Morality in Public Law 102-14, which established March 26 as “Education Day”! The Seven Noahide Laws were recognized by Hugo Grotius, the 17th century jurisprudent, as the basis of peaceful international relations. They can provide the moral content for America’s “Operation: Enduring Tradition” against international terrorism. President George W. Bush, a devout Christian, is qualified to make the Seven Noahide Laws the ultimate justification of America’s war against Islamic civilization.

The Noahide Laws, though violated by all Islamic regimes that breed or harbor terrorists, are nonetheless laws which Muslim countries profess and should be required to abide by. Six prohibit idolatry, cursing God, murder, robbery, adultery, and eating the flesh of a live animal, while the seventh requires the establishment of courts of justice. Such courts are obviously essential to any society based on the primacy of reason or persuasion rather than passion or intimidation.

The Noahide Laws (together with their particular branches) comprise what may be termed a “genial orthodoxy”. This genial orthodoxy transcends whatever social or economic distinctions exist among men: it holds all men equal before the law. By so doing, it places constraints on governors and governments alike and thereby habituates men to the rule of law. Moreover, this ancient Hebraic orthodoxy can moderate and subordinate the differences of various ethnic groups found in various Arab-Islamic countries and thus facilitate their cooperation and mutual enrichment. If all nations complied with the Noahide Laws of Universal Morality, then war, instead of being the norm of international relations, would be a thing of the past.

Muslim youth need to be taught that the Noahide Laws come from the Torah, that they unite Jews and Christians, that Islam would never have come into existence had not Muhammad learned from Jewish and Christian teachers. Qur`anic verses that degrade Jews and Christians must be neutralized by juxtaposing contradictory verses and by commentaries that render such degradation obsolete. Youth should be taught that it is sinful for Muslims to wage jihad against Jews and Christians (as well as Hindus). They must be taught that Muslims who murder women, men, and children in the name of Allah desecrate God’s name. They should also learn that the concept of jihad contradicts the United Nations Charter as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which prescribes “tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial, or religious groups”. The word jihad should be stricken from Islamic law. Public renunciation of jihad should be the litmus test of whether a Muslim regime, consistent with the Seven Noahide Laws, is sincerely committed to peace. Jihad should mean nothing more than striving for self-perfection.

President Bush’s “Axis of Evil” speech following September 11 brands as wicked any Muslim state that provides a haven for terrorists. This definition applies to almost all Islamic regimes and thus calls for regime change. Regime change involves not only WHO rules and HOW they rule (hence political institutions), but also the ENDS for which they rule, which ends must have ethical-religious content. From these three basic factors of regime change, a civic ethos must develop, reinforced by appropriate educational and social institutions.24 The non-secular democratization of Islam should be a declaratory principle of American and Israeli foreign policy.

A crucial aspect of Islam’s democratization is the introduction of a market economy. Such an economy would decentralize the corporate power of Arab regimes, raise the living standards of their poverty-stricken people, and hasten the development of civil society, meaning private and social institutions to counterbalance the power of government. Israel can hasten Islam’s democratization not only by adopting the Jewish democratic constitution mentioned above, but also by privatizing its own economy. But much more needs to be done.

 * * *

 To facilitate the democratization of Islam, it will be necessary to curtail the influence of Arabic in the Muslim but non-Arab world. Let me explain.

Arabic is an official language of more than twenty states in North Africa and the Middle East (including Israel). Like any language, Arabic provides people with a sense of identity and of shared values which, in many instances, transcends national, ethnic, and even religious differences. Bernard Lewis writes:

Within a remarkably short time of the Arab conquests in the seventh century, Arabic, previously limited to the Arabian peninsula and the desert borderlands of the Fertile Crescent, became the dominant and in time the major language of most of the Middle East and North Africa. The Qur`an made it the language of Scripture; the Shari`ah the language of law. The Arab empire made it the language of government... Even those who retained their Christian and Jewish faith in time adopted Arabic, not only of necessity, as the language of communication and commerce, but even as the language of much of their own religious literatures.25

In short, Arabic, which supplanted Latin, Greek, and other languages, made the Arab-Islamic empire possible. It not only endowed Arabs with their sense of superiority, but it also heightened their aggressive and imperialistic ambitions vis-à-vis non-Muslim nations. Bearing this in mind, let us turn to Turkey.

Some 80 years ago, Kemel Ataturk revolutionized Turkey, a non-Arab but Muslim regime, once the heart of the Ottoman Empire. Ataturk removed Arabic from public life in Turkey, especially from public law and public education. Turkish became the only official language of the state. This had two basic consequences. First, it served to undermine among Turkish citizens any identity with the Arab world. Second, it facilitated the separation of religion and state, the effect of which was to make Turkey the only democratic state whose population is overwhelmingly Muslim.

Accordingly, any Muslim country today whose population, like Turkey’s, is non-Arab, should be induced to remove Arabic from its public law and public education and make its own native language the only official language of the state. This will simultaneously counteract pan-Arab and pan-Islamic movements as well as international terrorism. It will also facilitate democratization of Muslim countries.26

If there is a single principle that could democratize Arab-Islamic states with politically significant ethnic and religious diversity, that principle is federalism. Iraq is a case in point. Here allow me to quote from, as well as paraphrase, various passages from a paper delivered by Kanan Makiya, a scholar-in-residence at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University.

Addressing the AEI Conference mentioned above, Professor Makiya pointed out that federalism would “break the mold of Arab politics”. There is no literature in Arabic on federalism and no experience in federalism. Yet, the Iraqi National Congress (INC), the Kurdish Parliament in northern Iraq, and most other Iraqi organizations that oppose Saddam Hussein’s regime, advocate one interpretation of federalism or another. For Makiya, federalism is the cornerstone of a future Iraqi democracy.

Federalism involves two related ideas: a division of power in the central government, as well as a transfer of power from the center toward semi-autonomous territorial regions. “Unfortunately,” says Makiya, “neither the Kurdish Parliament nor the INC has as yet developed in detail what they mean by this new idea.” Establishing federalism in Iraq (or elsewhere) raises profound issues, such as power sharing and resource distribution.

Although the Kurds have sometimes expressed the desire for independent statehood, federalism has become a condition sine qua non for their staying inside a new Iraq.

Without a federal system of government, in which real power is devolved toward the regions, the currently autonomous predominantly Kurdish north will sooner or later opt for separation, and rightly so. After all that has been done to the Kurds in the name of Arabism, no Iraqi should expect otherwise, and certainly no one who calls him or herself a democrat.

As Makiya views Iraq’s future,

...the project as big as restructuring the state of Iraq on a federal basis should be undertaken not on utilitarian grounds but in terms of some fundamental democratic principle, namely that: “the rights of the part or the minority should never be sacrificed to the will of the majority.”

Whether the part is defined as a single individual or a collectivity of individuals who speak another language and have their own culture, the rights of these parts are inviolable by the state. Federalism, therefore, concerns the rights of those collective parts of the mosaic that is Iraqi society.

Here the question arises: How should the different parts of the new Iraqi federation be defined? Should it be on the basis of ethnicity or on the basis of territoriality? If ethnicity is the basis of federalism, Iraq would then be composed of two regions, the first Arab, the second Kurdish. The Kurds are the driving force behind this definition. According to Makiya, most non-Kurdish Iraqis oppose ethnicity as the basis of an Iraqi federation, and for three reasons:

  1. First, it will cause ethnicity to become the basis for making territorial claims and counterclaims especially with regards to high profit resources located in one region and not another. The fight over Kirkuk, for instance, is already moving in this direction with Arab, Kurdish and Turkoman claims fighting with one another over this oil-rich city.

  2. The second objection is that when a federation is defined as being about two ethnic groups, then clearly all the other ethnic groups who do not have a share in the federation are being to some degree or another discriminated against. Why should an Armenian or a Chaldean or a Turkoman citizen of Iraq have any less rights as an individual than an Arab or a Kurd in a post-Saddam Iraq? Such discrimination in favor of the two largest ethnic groups in Iraq is inherently undemocratic.

  3. The third objection is that we simply cannot map out on the ground a federation that included all the different ethnic and religious groups in Iraq. These groupings are not all territorially concentrated. There are Kurds in Baghdad and Arabs in Sulaymaniyya, and there are Turkomans, Armenians and Chaldeans mixed in with Arabs and Kurds everywhere in many locations.

“Therefore,” Makiya concludes, “a federation of many ethnic groups would be no improvement on a federation made up of only two large groups.” Accordingly, the basis of an Iraqi federation should be

territoriality in which each separate region receives its share of national resources, for instance, oil revenues, according to the relative size of its population... The point becomes not to dilute or diminish the Kurdishness of a Kurd or the Arabness of an Arab. It is to put a premium on the equality of citizenship for all. (As will be seen in a moment, this will require a bicameral legislature.)

As Makiya points out, what is most striking about an Iraqi federation based on territoriality is that this new Iraq could no longer be thought of, in any politically meaningful sense of the word, as an Arab state! This novel idea would revolutionize the Middle East. After all, whereas Arabism sees Iraq as part of the Arab world, Islamism sees Iraq as part of the Islamic world. Federalism would not only serve to democratize Islam, it would fragment it even more effectively than nationalism!

One further principle of democratization must be emphasized. As previously indicated, federalism logically entails a bicameral legislature. Bicameralism may also be appropriate in Arab or Muslim countries which do not have large ethnic and religious minorities. Given a bicameral legislature, the lower branch can be designed in such a way as to protect these minorities, which in the past have been degraded as dhimmis. “Dhimmitude” (as well as slavery) must be eliminated from Islam, and of course the status of women must be elevated without encouraging the West’s family-destructive feminism.

Given a pluralistic system of government in any Middle East country, a constitution is obviously necessary to define the powers of the various branches of government and to foster the rule of law. But now a most delicate and difficult question arises: Who will protect this constitution against a reactionary Islamic coup? In Turkey, the constitution, hence democracy, is protected by the military!27 What does this portend for the democratization, say, of Iraq?

First of all, the United States and its coalition partners will have to maintain a fairly large military force in Iraq for perhaps two or three decades (during which time this force should become more and more inconspicuous). This military force will protect Iraq’s constitutional democracy. But it should also cultivate a domestic military force that will have a vested interest in protecting this democratic constitution (as in Turkey).

Second, American commercial relations with Iraq must be designed to foster the development of a large middle class, a precondition of regime stability and a natural barrier to Islamic extremism, provided this middle class has been educated along lines indicated in this paper.

The United States must be very watchful of the Islamic country’s education curriculum. Pan-Arabism and pan-Islamism as well as anti-Semitism must not be permitted. At the same time, it will be necessary to expose the evil consequences of the doctrine of moral and cultural relativism that permeates Western education. Otherwise, this doctrine will undermine conviction in the justice of America’s cause as well as the sacrifice and perseverance required to maintain US troops in the Middle East to oversee the democratization of Islam. Relativism would make nonsense of any proposal to have Arab teachers receive any post-graduate education in the West or to promote faculty exchange programs. How can one logically emphasize the blessings of constitutional democracy when American university professors propagate the corrosive doctrine of relativism? Constitutional democracy in the Middle East is a necessary precondition of peace in this region. Another is a Jewish foreign policy, to which I now turn.


Part III: Some Principles of a Jewish Foreign Policy

  1. Israel, the teacher of ethical monotheism is supposed to set an example to mankind. Accordingly, Israel will not establish diplomatic relations with any tyrannical regime. To do so is to dignify tyrants and perpetuate their unjust rule over their people. Courting tyrannies demeans Israel and lowers the moral standards of the Jewish people. The Torah makes distinctions between good and bad regimes, and warns against seeking relations with those which are wicked. (See Numbers 25:1-3, 17-18; Jeremiah 10:23.) Even before the assassination of Anwar Sadat, the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Egypt, a military dictatorship, was followed by an increase of anti-Semitism in Egypt’s state-controlled media. Much the same may be said of Jordan, where to sell property to Jews remains a capital offense. Until Islam undergoes basic structural transformation, for Israel to court recognition of Arab states only magnifies their contempt. Also, by not seeking relations with hostile Arab regimes, Israel will cease to be diplomatically dependent on the United States.

  2. Consistent with the preceding, Israel should either resign from the United Nations or call it to account. “Praiseworthy is the man who walked not in the counsel of the wicked, and stood not in the path of the sinful, and sat not in the session of scorners.” (Psalms 1:1) Tens of millions of Americans have participated in a movement – “Get US out of the UN!” They perceive the UN as anti-American. Surely Israel can have no higher opinion of this anti-Semitic organization.

Caroline Glick excoriates the UN’s record against Israel:

Over the past year alone, the UN has passed resolution after resolution, in the Security Council, in the General Assembly, in its Human Rights Commission, and even in its Commission on Aging that deny Israel its legal right, under Article 51 of the UN Charter, to defend itself against aggression.

In one month, between March and April [2002], the UN Security Council held 32 separate debates on Israel. The UN Conference on Racism last September effectively reinstated the General Assembly’s definition of Zionism as racism and thus denied that Israel has the legal right to exist under international law. In April, the UN Human Rights Commission passed a resolution endorsing Palestinian terrorism against Israel.

For the past 54 years, the UN has followed a consistent and coherent policy regarding only one issue: anti-Semitism. Its policy has been to advance anti-Semitism by systematically and illegally discriminating against the Jewish state all the time and everywhere. In so doing, the UN has lost even the semblance of legitimacy as a world government. It cannot be regarded as a body responsible for enforcing international law, because in its systematic discrimination against Israel, it stands in breach of international law as embodied in its own charter’s determination that all member states are to be treated equally.28

Dr. Bukay has this to say of the UN:

This is an organization that has never advanced peace and never prevented war; this is an organization that works for its own sake alone, and strives against the values for which it was set up. This is an organization that surrendered to the dictates of the Arab and Islamic states, against the social-economic interests of the Third World countries.29

Fred Fleitz, senior adviser to Under Secretary of State John Bolton, exposes UN waste and corruption and the resulting human costs. His book, Peacekeeping Fiascoes of the 1990s: Causes, Solutions, and US Interests, provides a comprehensive and highly critical assessment of the UN. Among other debacles, he shows how the failed UN mission in Bosnia led to unmitigated atrocities; how the UN debacle in Somalia emboldened terrorists the world over; how the UN operation in Cambodia enabled a ruthless dictator, Hun Sen, to consolidate and retain power in that country; how the UN peacekeeping operation in Haiti collapsed, with the billions of dollars squandered on it, principally benefiting Haitian President Jean-Bertrande Artistide. To all this, add the UN sponsored Durban Conference, which became a vicious instrument of anti-Semitism and Israel-bashing.

The very reason why Israel (belatedly) refused to become a member of the recently formed International Criminal Court (ICC) is the same reason why Israel should seriously consider whether it should remain a member of the UN. The ICC is a supranational tribunal designed to supersede concepts of national sovereignty. The US has not signed on to the ICC because Americans are concerned that the ICC will be influenced by people with anti-American or indeed anti-Western agendas. Its officials may launch frivolous prosecutions against American soldiers or diplomats to further their own political ideas and ambitions. What applies to the US applies doubly to Israel. The UN’s unfriendly Security Council can instruct the ICC to try Jewish settlers, soldiers, and statesmen as “war criminals”!

The vast majority of the countries represented in the UN are dictatorships which should never have been admitted to, or allowed to remain in, the UN, since they violate Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which declares, “Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.” If Israel does not resign from the UN it should introduce resolutions calling for the democratization or expulsion of any member that violates the UN Charter.

The UN is not only a sinkhole of corruption and ineptitude. It is intended by globalists to metamorphose into a secularized world government. Such a government (like a theocratic one under Islam) would constitute the greatest tyranny in human history. A world government would have a monopoly of military power with agents everywhere to prevent any country from developing its own arms. Such a government would impose a stultifying uniformity on all nations, contrary to the Torah. God creates nations, which have a right to develop their own cultural identity, limited only by the Seven Noahide Laws of Universal Morality.

Israel’s having a forum at the UN is of dubious value. If the UN cannot be reformed, better that Israel remains true to its biblical reputation as a nation that stands apart, at least from that pernicious organization.

  1. Consistent with Jewish law, Israel will not export arms to any foreign nation except under extreme circumstances. Generally speaking, international arms sales promote war, sustain tyrannies, and impoverish people.

  2. Given weapons of mass destruction, no nation – certainly not minuscule Israel – can afford to wait to be attacked before it retaliates. Accordingly, Israel will pursue a pre-emptive war strategy.

  3. After uprooting every vestige of terrorism in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, Israel will enact a law that explicitly incorporates this Jewish land into the State. Such a law will merely confirm Amendment 11B of the Law and Administrative Ordinance of 1967, which authorizes the government to apply Israeli law to any area of the Land of Israel that had come under the control of the IDF and which was not previously included within the jurisdiction of the State. By a simple order, the government can thus bring Judea, Samaria, and Gaza within the jurisdiction of the State (as was done in eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights).

  4. The government will speak with one voice only. Any elected official that criticizes any act of Israel’s Government while that official is abroad will be dismissed.

  5. Israel’s government will comport itself in such a way as to uphold the dignity of the Jewish heritage and sanctify the Name of God.



Israel, faithful to the Jewish heritage, is the connecting link between East and West. By virtue of its unique synthesis of particularism and universalism, Judaism can simultaneously justify ethnicity and emphasize the one doctrine that can prevent ethnic conflict and bloodshed: the Seven Noahide Laws of Universal Morality, i.e., ethical monotheism. Moreover, because of its long-established affinity to science, Judaism can endow science – which has served despots as well as democrats – with ethical constraints lacking in the West and urgently needed in the East whose stockpiling of weapons of mass murder is not for purposes of deterrence. But for Israel to set an example to mankind, it will need to pursue a distinctively Jewish foreign policy.

Only such a policy can inspire Israel’s friend, the United States. These two nations are the most natural allies. America was founded by men educated in universities whose presidents and curriculums were very Hebraic. Indeed, the American Constitution owes very much to Jewish principles and values. (If only Israel had a similar constitution!) Recently, 98 out of 100 senators, and 412 out of 435 representatives passed a resolution supportive of Israel. If Israel had a presidential form of government headed by a man of Jewish pride and conviction, allied with the Christian pride and conviction of his American counterpart, America and Israel would together save mankind from a religion that has become a cult of death.




New York: Schocken Books, 1998, pp. 27-28.


Ibid., p. 141.


See <>.


Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America, New York: Random House, 2001, p. 306, emphasis in the original.


Ibid., pp. 297-297.


Jerusalem Post, September 11, 2002, p. 3.


The Gathering Storm, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1948, p. 55.


Bat Ye’or, Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide, Fairleigh Dickenson University Press, 2002.


See David Bukay, Total Terrorism in the Name of Allah, ACPR Publications, 2002.


“The War on Terror Won’t End in Baghdad”, Wall Street Journal, in Jerusalem Post, September 5, 2002, p. 15. See also Mark Steyn, “First We Take Baghdad”, Jerusalem Post, August 25, 2002, p. 9.


Interview in Ha’aretz Magazine, April 13, 2001.


See Paul Eidelberg, Jewish Statesmanship: Lest Israel Fall, ACPR 2000, 2001, English and Hebrew, ch. 10. Published in Russian by the Foundation for Constitutional Democracy, Jerusalem, 2001. The English edition has been republished by the University Press of America, Lanham, MD, 2002.


See Samuel P. Huntington, “How Countries Democratize”, Political Science Quarterly, Winter, 1991-92, Vol. 106, No. 4, pp. 91-92.


See Mordechai Nisan, Minorities in the Middle East, Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1991, p. 2.


Ibid., pp. 7-11.


See Bukay, op. cit., p. 60, for some details.


Ibid., p. 136.


Ibid., p. 135.


See Paul Eidelberg, Judaic Man: Toward a Reconstruction of Western Civilization, Middletown, NJ: Caslon, 1996, pp. 131-143.


Statement at the AEI Conference.


See “The Democracy Agenda in the Arab World”, Middle East Journal, Vol. 46, No. 1, Winter 1992, p. 3; As`ad Abu Khahil, “A New Arab Strategy?: The Arab Rejuvenation of Arab Nationalism”, p. 31.


Op. cit., Jewish Statesmanship, ch. 10.


See Paul Eidelberg, Beyond Détente: Toward an American Foreign Policy, LaSalle, IL: Sherwood Sugden, 1977, ch. 5, which shows how moral relativism facilitated US recognition of the “Evil Empire”.


Here I am indebted to Professor Will Morrisey for reminding me of what we both learned from Aristotle’s teachings.


Op. cit., Lewis, p. 50.


I am gratefully indebted to Professor Israel Hanukoglu for this proposal and its exemplification in Turkey.


Op. cit., Bukay, p. 62.


Jerusalem Post, October 4, 2002, p. 1.


Op. cit., Bukay, p. 161, n. 75.