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A prominent atheist sides with Israelis over Palestinians

judaism_and_islam

Sam Harris, whose books and articles on religion have made him prominent among atheist philosophers and authors, EXPLAINS his views on a certain political/religious conflict in the Mideast:

The question I’ve now received in many forms goes something like this: Why is it that you never criticize Israel? Why is it that you never criticize Judaism? Why is it that you always take the side of the Israelis over that of the Palestinians?

…[W]hen we’re talking about the consequences of irrational beliefs based on scripture, the Jews are the least of the least offenders. But I have said many critical things about Judaism. Let me remind you that parts of Hebrew Bible—books like Leviticus and Exodus and Deuteronomy—are the most repellent, the most sickeningly unethical documents to be found in any religion. They’re worse than the Koran. They’re worse than any part of the New Testament. But the truth is, most Jews recognize this and don’t take these texts seriously. It’s simply a fact that most Jews and most Israelis are not guided by scripture—and that’s a very good thing…

What do groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda and even Hamas want? They want to impose their religious views on the rest of humanity. They want stifle every freedom that decent, educated, secular people care about. This is not a trivial difference. And yet judging from the level of condemnation that Israel now receives, you would think the difference ran the other way.

This kind of confusion puts all of us in danger. This is the great story of our time. For the rest of our lives, and the lives of our children, we are going to be confronted by people who don’t want to live peacefully in a secular, pluralistic world, because they are desperate to get to Paradise, and they are willing to destroy the very possibility of human happiness along the way. The truth is, we are all living in Israel. It’s just that some of us haven’t realized it yet.

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6 Comments

  1. Such profound and seemingly-reasoned crapola! Harris conflates the long-suffering Palestinians (and all other non-jihadi Muslims) with the brutal ISIS militants.

    I do not see Malays, Indonesians, or Turks taking up arms against the idea of a pluralistic society. The Oighurs (sp?) in China would LOVE themselves some pluralism.

    Allah does not hold a monopoly on cranking out militant religious fundamentalists who want to “stifle every freedom that decent, educated, secular people care about”…

  2. I’ll be Sam Harris’s lap dog any day. We need more thoughtful and insightful people like him, to stand up to the false glory and beauty that religious organizations want heaped upon them.

  3. Shawn Robinson

    Sam Harris used to take a pro-torture position. He is a polemicist for atheism, science and reason. I don’t think all of his arguments are great. In this article he had to go back and explain himself at the end of many paragraphs. The US used to win wars and supposedly didn’t resort to torture. There were no super-terrorists that posed a threat so great that the rights of citizens needed to be curbed. His arguments here are similar to Dennis Prager, a Christian author. If you put labels like “atheist” or “Muslim” or “Christian” on a subject you could assume the authors will conclude a lot differently, but no. Both Harris and Prager come down on the side of Israel while making different arguments.
    http://youtu.be/8EDW88CBo-8
    The Palestinians’ problem seems to be that they have elected Hamas to govern them.

    • I wonder how much intimidation plays into the positions that people like Same Harris take, when it comes to the Israeli/Palestine issue? The Jewish lobby et al is very powerful. Much of our foreign policy relates to Israel’s defense. It’s very rare that you will hear anybody outside of the Arab world take a hard line against Israeli policies (although I think secretly many would like to, including Obama and Kerry and Netanyahu knows that).

      Harris already has to have 24/7 protective services because of his positions against organized religion. I’m sure Harris doesn’t want to be added to the hate group listing represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

  4. RedRover

    [b]RE:[/b]

    [i]But the truth is, most Jews recognize this and don’t take these texts seriously. It’s simply a fact that most Jews and most Israelis are not guided by scripture—and that’s a very good thing…[/i]

    There may be many Jews who are not guided by scripture, but there is no doubt that the Zionists governing in Israel are every bit as fundamentalist as ISIS, al-Qaeda and Hamas. And these Zionists continue to hold power and implement their fundamentalist objectives with the support of most Jews in Israel and abroad, even secular ones.

    [b]SEE:[/b]

    Shahak, I., & Mezvinsky, N. (2004). [b][i]Jewish fundamentalism in Israel.[/b][/i] London: Pluto press.
    http://archive.org/stream/JewishHistoryJewishReligion_665/JewishFundamentalismInIsrael_djvu.txt

    [b]EXCERPT:[/b]

    [i]Virtually identified with Arab terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism is anathema throughout the non-Muslim world.

    Virtually identified with ignorance, superstition, intolerance and racism, Christian fundamentalism is anathema to the cultural and intellectual elite in the United States. The recent significant increase in its number of adherents, combined with its widening political influence, nevertheless, make Christian fundamentalism a real threat to democracy in the United States.

    Although possessing nearly all the important social scientific properties of Islamic and Christian fundamentalism, Jewish fundamentalism is practically unknown outside of Israel and certain sections of a few other places. When its existence is acknowledged, its significance is minimized or limited to arcane religious practices and quaint middle European dress, most often by those same non-Israeli elite commentators who see so uncompromisingly the evils inherent in Jewish fundamentalism’s Islamic and/or Christian cousins.

    […]

    In our book we describe in some detail the origins, ideologies, practices and overall impact upon society of fundamentalism. We emphasize mostly the messianic tendency, because we believe it to be the most influential and dangerous. Jewish fundamentalists generally oppose extensions of human freedoms, especially the freedom of expression, in Israel.

    In regard to foreign policy, the National Religious Party, ruled by supporters of the messianic tendency of Jewish fundamentalism, has continuously opposed any and all withdrawals from territories conquered and occupied by Israel since 1967. These fundamentalists opposed Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai in 1978, just as twenty years later they continued to oppose any withdrawal from the West Bank. These same Jews printed and distributed atlases allegedly showing that the land of Israel, belonging only to the Jews and requiring liberation, included the Sinai, Jordan, Lebanon, most of Syria and Kuwait. Jewish fundamentalists have advocated the most discriminative proposals against Palestinians.

    […]

    We have written this book in order to reveal the essential character of Jewish fundamentalism and its adherents. This character threatens democratic features of Israeli society. We believe that awareness is the necessary first step in opposition.[/i]

  5. RedRover

    HTML TAGS CORRECTED

    RE:

    But the truth is, most Jews recognize this and don’t take these texts seriously. It’s simply a fact that most Jews and most Israelis are not guided by scripture—and that’s a very good thing…

    There may be many Jews who are not guided by scripture, but there is no doubt that the Zionists governing in Israel are every bit as fundamentalist as ISIS, al-Qaeda and Hamas. And these Zionists continue to hold power and implement their fundamentalist objectives with the support of most Jews in Israel and abroad, even secular ones.

    SEE:

    Shahak, I., & Mezvinsky, N. (2004). Jewish fundamentalism in Israel. London: Pluto press.
    http://archive.org/stream/JewishHistoryJewishReligion_665/JewishFundamentalismInIsrael_djvu.txt

    EXCERPT:

    Virtually identified with Arab terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism is anathema throughout the non-Muslim world.

    Virtually identified with ignorance, superstition, intolerance and racism, Christian fundamentalism is anathema to the cultural and intellectual elite in the United States. The recent significant increase in its number of adherents, combined with its widening political influence, nevertheless, make Christian fundamentalism a real threat to democracy in the United States.

    Although possessing nearly all the important social scientific properties of Islamic and Christian fundamentalism, Jewish fundamentalism is practically unknown outside of Israel and certain sections of a few other places. When its existence is acknowledged, its significance is minimized or limited to arcane religious practices and quaint middle European dress, most often by those same non-Israeli elite commentators who see so uncompromisingly the evils inherent in Jewish fundamentalism’s Islamic and/or Christian cousins.

    […]

    In our book we describe in some detail the origins, ideologies, practices and overall impact upon society of fundamentalism. We emphasize mostly the messianic tendency, because we believe it to be the most influential and dangerous. Jewish fundamentalists generally oppose extensions of human freedoms, especially the freedom of expression, in Israel.

    In regard to foreign policy, the National Religious Party, ruled by supporters of the messianic tendency of Jewish fundamentalism, has continuously opposed any and all withdrawals from territories conquered and occupied by Israel since 1967. These fundamentalists opposed Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai in 1978, just as twenty years later they continued to oppose any withdrawal from the West Bank. These same Jews printed and distributed atlases allegedly showing that the land of Israel, belonging only to the Jews and requiring liberation, included the Sinai, Jordan, Lebanon, most of Syria and Kuwait. Jewish fundamentalists have advocated the most discriminative proposals against Palestinians.

    […]

    We have written this book in order to reveal the essential character of Jewish fundamentalism and its adherents. This character threatens democratic features of Israeli society. We believe that awareness is the necessary first step in opposition.

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