Israeli lieutenant Dr. Mordechai Kedar, who made a sensation on al-Jezeera, spent a Shabbos in Brooklyn Heights and explained how Middle East peace "can never work."
By Raanan Isseroff
Israeli lieutenant Dr. Mordechai Kedar of Ben Gurion University, an expert in Arabic culture and a former Israeli IDF officer, spoke this past Shabbos at Congregation Bnei Avraham in Brooklyn Heights to a full house.
Israel and her security were clearly foremost on everyone's minds.
Dr. Kedar made a sensation in 2008 when he was interviewed by al-Jezeera television and answered in a very fluent and rich Arabic. He countered contentions that Jerusalem was ever a significant city in the Koran, responding "Jerusalem is not anywhere to be found in the Koran."
The correspondent got upset insisting that to say such things was in insult to Islam. In fact, Dr. Kedar told me later, that it took the correspondent a week to recover from the interview as he took it quite personally.
The interview went viral on the internet a few years ago and so we were expecting something similar on Shabbos. We were not disappointed.
In discussing the Arab Israeli conflict on Shabbos morning to an American audience unschooled in Arab culture, Dr. Kedar explained that first we have to understand how Arabs look at Jews and then how they view peace.
After explaining the place of Jews in the Muslim religion, he went on to examine what the Islamic view of peace actually is depending on who you are. In the year 628, Mohamed took his army and went to conquer Mecca. He could not conquer it as they had a larger army, so he made a temporary peace with the people of Mecca for 9 years, 9 months and 9 days.
As soon as the Meccan’s saw there was peace, they rested their army and went about their business never expecting that 2 years later in 630, Mohammed would take his army, invade the city, slaughter the population and convert it to Islam.
As such, Dr. Kedar explained, this is the sort of peace sanctioned by the Koran for non-believers of whom Jews are included. The implication was clear.
Israel’s continuing a farce of a treacherous peace, can never work. By Mincha, the audience was softened up and no one was even suggesting that peace might work. In fact the question that someone asked was really the one on everyone’s minds.
“If this is the sort of Peace that Muslims have in mind so how can it be that Israel continues to make treaties and give away land?”
We knew we were not talking to someone unschooled in the back and forth of the peace process. His answer really surprised us all. “You have to understand Israel and how they think. There are those who run our government on their theories. There are others who live with realities.”
He explained that American culture as a whole cannot conceive of the Islamic culture. In Israel, there are those who run its government who operate with the same mindset. Here, is where there is a disconnect.
In Israel as well, the government is split between those who know the realities and others who live by their theories, trying to apply European diplomacy and honor to Arab culture and trying to impose these ideas on Israel’s foreign relations with cultures for which there is no word for “Peace” as Europeans conceive of the term. The Islamic idea of “Peace” depends on how strong you are. If you are strong so they will make peace with you, until you are not strong. This is a cultural reality.
As well, it depends on whom they are making peace with. A fellow Muslim or a non-believer. As such, very different rules apply.
For the non-believer peace is only allowed if done as Mohammed did to Mecca…
This is not a speaker for those who think Lubavitch is into blasting Islam and Muslim practice, something the Lubavitcher Rebbe never did. We did however see the Rebbe taking the Israeli government and its politicians to task to waken in them a sense of responsibility for the safety of her Jews. A point that the Rebbe goes into over and over again. Never once relenting on the very point that Dr. Kedar brings out.
Peace for Land with the other side is simply impossible.
Lt. Kedar speaks a certain truth without pointing fingers at this one or that one. And truth, real truth, speaks for itself.
Lieutenant Kedar is an excellent speaker. Rabbi Aaron Raskin was very impressed as were we all. He is highly recommended as a truly expert speaker as a military person on the realities of Land for Peace.