Leo Baeck 1


May 2002 Journal

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A debt disavowed

In November 1947, when the UN voted to partition Palestine – thereby giving the legal imprimatur to the creation of Israel – the Hindu Maharadja of Kashmir attached his territory to India without consulting the majority Muslim population. Ever since, the unresolved issue of Kashmir has exacerbated Indian-Pakistani relations, and heightened intercommunal tensions inside India. During the last bout of intercommunal carnage a few months ago, Hindu fanatics caused Muslim fatalities that ran into four figures.

Yet despite the far heavier Muslim death toll since partition, the wrath of the Islamic world has never been turned against India to the same extent as it has against Israel. What is the reason for this?

Size is undoubtedly a consideration. In population terms, India is a giant on the world stage, whereas Israel is barely visible to the naked eye. However, religion seems to me to be a more decisive factor. Admittedly, the Kashmir conflict has a religious dimension by pitting Muslims against Hindus. But the Hindu faith, with its many deities, does not arouse as much Muslim ire worldwide as does monotheistic Judaism.

To be brutally frank, Islam - like Christianity before it – simply took up the legacy of monotheism pioneered centuries earlier by Judaism and elaborated it in its own peculiar way.

However, thanks to the perversity religious fanaticism breeds in the human mind, the two separate billion-strong monotheistic ‘Johnnies-come-lately’ Christianity and Islam have always viewed Judaism with greater hatred than polytheism.

In the final analysis, Islamicists everywhere target Israel (rather than, say, India or Russia or Serbia – each of which has killed many more Muslims) because Islam owes Judaism a debt which it cannot bring itself to acknowledge. Is it going too far to see Islamic Judeophobia as an expression of Oedipal rage?
Richard Grunberger

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