Friday, March 24, 2006

A Muslim-American Woman Challenges Muslim Leaders

A Muslim-American Woman Challenges Muslim Leaders

Dov Burt Levy

An Arab-American psychiatrist based in Los Angeles is fast becoming the most famous woman in the Muslim — and Jewish — worlds.

Unlike other luminaries like Queen Noor of Jordan and Suha Arafat, Dr. Wafa Sultan has a profound message to deliver, one that challenges the actions and teachings of extremist Muslim religious and political leaders everywhere.

Only a month ago, on Feb. 21, she appeared on Al Jazeera television and, according to the New York Times, became “an international sensation, hailed as a fresh voice of reason by some, and by others as a heretic and infidel who deserves to die.”

Over one million people have seen the interview, with numbers rising daily as people send the Internet address to their entire mailing list. (If you haven’t seen it, you’re missing something important: Go to and click on Favorites’.)

Here is an excerpt: “The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions, or a clash of civilizations. It is a clash between two opposites, between two eras. It is a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century. It is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality. It is a clash between freedom and oppression, between democracy and dictatorship.”

Sultan is not afraid to confront the particular hatred for Jews that Muslims have fostered in their schools and mosques. She continues: “The Jews have come from the tragedy [of the Holocaust] and forced the world to respect them, with their knowledge, not with their terror, with their work, not their crying and yelling. Humanity owes most of the discoveries and science of the 19th and 20th centuries to Jewish scientists. Fifteen million people, scattered throughout the world, united and won their rights through work and knowledge.”

“We have not seen a single Jew blow himself up in a German restaurant. We have not seen a single Jew destroy a church. We have not seen a single Jew protest by killing people. The Muslims have turned three Buddha statues into rubble. We have not seen a single Buddhist burn down a Mosque, kill a Muslim, or burn down an embassy. Only the Muslims defend their beliefs by burning down churches, killing people, and destroying embassies.”

Sultan is finishing a book that is due to be published next year. In May she is scheduled to appear at the American Jewish Congress meeting in Israel. I hope Jewish organizations don’t take all her time; her voice is for Muslims to hear.

She has received many death threats and we can only hope she has adequate protection. Conversely, she has received great praise from around the world some of which can be read at, an independent website critical of Arab politics.

Sultan’s message and newfound prominence raise a serious question for me. That is, if I applaud and encourage Sultan in her confrontation with the contradictions, evils and misdeeds of the Muslim world, how can I not at least listen with an open mind to those who would criticize the Jewish community, and particularly the State of Israel?

There are many people writing books, giving speeches, and outlining what they call Israel’s faults or crimes. Much criticism is repetitive and some is downright hateful and obsessed. Basically, I have turned most of them off.

But now, call it an unanticipated consequence of Dr. Sultan’s challenge to the Muslim world, I shall listen better and evaluate more carefully the criticism of the Jewish community.

Before you bury me in letters, I am not equating Israel’s faults with those of the Muslim world. Not by a long shot. But Israel is far from perfect and needs, like every nation and institution, continued evaluation.


At 12:11 PM, Blogger Robert Franklin said...

You're right by saying the Jews don't blow themselves up to kill people, but you forgot to mention that they don't need to because they have a full scale military, killing squads, and heavy destructive weapons of war to do their terror. It doesn't matter if a man blows himself up, or uses technologically savvy tanks and bombs to target people. Terror is terror, and both sides are equally wrong in what they are doing. The Israelis are not better than the Palestinian people, and the Palestinian people are not better than them.

About the comment concerned with Israeli people making progress after the Holocaust. Yes the Holocaust was a terrible incident, but let's not forget that it was the United Nations and America that helped them achieve greatness. They had a hand up because the world felt sorry for the horrible event that happened to them, and yes it was a horrible event. I am not denying that, but lets be real. No one is giving a hand up to the Muslims, and yes the Jews did cry and complain about the Holocaust. The Holocaust was a form of oppression, and what the Jews have been doing to Palestine is a form of oppression too. So what do you expect the Palestinians to do when their homes are being bulldozed down to the ground to make way for Jewish homes, and when people are kicked them out of their homes to make way for Jewish families?

Get real, people will cry when oppression is done to them. It is their right to cry and seek help from oppression and wrong doing, and it is everyones right to fight their oppressor. It's just a matter of how you do it. Suicide bombing is not right, but assassin squads are not right either. To be frank with you, who are you to tell people not to cry when they are being oppressed??

Also, what do you mean by backwardness. "If following Allah, his messenger, and Islamic guidance is backwardness in your opinion, then for a Muslim you are truly misguided. Seek help from the Quran and the Sunnah. From what I hear the Jews in Israel have their own Jewish law, and if they can have their law why can't the Muslim people have their own law too.


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