‘Muslim dialogue? Don’t bother’

Geoffey AldermanThus the title of Geoffrey Alderman’s column in today’s Jewish Chronicle. The strap reads: “Most Muslims do not repudiate texts which call for Jews to be put to death. Why talk to people with such views?”

Responding to the news that the Jewish philanthropist Richard Stone has facilitated the donation of £1 million to the Woolf Institute in Cambridge to fund a Centre for the Study of Muslim-Jewish Relations, Alderman warns that there is little point in the Jewish community trying to establish friendly relations with adherents of a faith which is both violent and anti-semitic.

He writes: “Judaism was not founded as an expression of hostility to other monotheistic faiths, nor does it depend for its contemporary existence on such a discourse…. We seek no converts from Christianity or Islam, neither do we seek dominion over them. But the same is not true of Islam.

“In times past, the Koran could only be studied by readers of Arabic. Today there are a number of authoritative paperback translations, invariably annotated so as to explain the complex background to its composition. Having read the Koran in an authoritative translation, any fair-minded reader would be unable to deny that it preaches violence – not just in an historical setting, but also in a contemporary context….

“Islam was also founded, in part, on an explicit anti-Jewish discourse…. Early Islam … preached that Jews (along with Christians) should be put to death…. To argue thus is a far cry from indulging in Islamophobia, which we can define as the ‘phobic’ – or irrational – fear of Islam. On the contrary, to argue thus is exceedingly rational.”

Jewish Chronicle, 3 August 2007

You can just imagine what an outcry there would be among the Jewish community if, say, The Muslim News published an op ed entitled “Jewish dialogue? Don’t bother”.