Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Jonathan Sacks

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks is the former Chief Rabbi of Britain and author of Not in God's Name: Confronting Religious Violence. From his conversation with Fareed Zakaria:

ZAKARIA: One of the things you stress in the book is that every religion has had these seeds of extremism and that it is through this kind of reform that you get rid of it. But you are cautious against the kind of blanket condemnations of Islam. You know, you try to use a very soft touch.

SACKS: Well, Islam is a great faith that's had remarkably wonderful periods of history. In the early middle ages it was the epitome of tolerance. And then Spain, as I say, under the Umayyads, Jews, Christians and Muslims lived together in greater freedom than at any other times in the Middle Ages. Not liberal democracy by our standards, but at least an advance on anything until then. All I can say from Jewish and that matter, Christian history is that when religion turns violent, it begins by murdering its enemies, it ends by murdering its co-religionists. And it then inflicts a self-imposed injury on faith itself. The violence in Judaism internally in the first century caused the catastrophe that took his nearly 2000 years to get over. The violence between Christians, Catholics and Protestants in Europe in the 16 and 17 centuries, led to four centuries of secularization. Religion begins when it chooses the part of violence by assaulting its enemies, but it becomes its own most serious victim.

ZAKARIA: And in a sense the pattern you're describing is exactly what we're seeing where these terrorist organizations began as exclusively anti-Western, but now it's the Sunnis killing the Shia. How does one grow moderates? What is the - what is the path forward? You know, how should particularly westerners view this, you know, what is really an internal debate within Islam. How to help the good guys?

SACKS: Well, you know, what you try and do is try and create...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue