Pajamas Media’s great historian and blogger Ron Radosh and I have clashed a bit on the nature of Islam and its potential for moderation but on the now-notorious Ground Zero Mosque we’ve found few areas of disagreement. And I’ve appreciated the subtle, precise approach that Ron has employed on the issue — different than the flamethrower we usually employ at NRB.
Ron has just published a fantastic new post responding to an intellectual who is struggling with the necessary Second Thoughts on the intent of Imam Rauf:
The Israeli writer Yossi Klein Halevi, a contributing editor of The New Republic, has issued a challenge to Imam Rauf. Halevi, whom I met a few years ago in Israel, has believed for a long time that the only road to peace in the Middle East is through a coming together of the three Abrahamic faiths. Indeed, this is the theme of his well-received book, At the Entrance to The Garden of Eden: A Jew’s Search for God with Christians and Muslims in the Holy Land.
At first glance, Halevi seems to hold many illusions about Rauf’ s beliefs. He writes his open letter to the Imam, he says, as “a well-wisher and friend.” His approach is the opposite of someone like Andy McCarthy, whose many articles on NRO.com are devoted to exposing the hidden agenda of the Imam. (a view which I have come to believe is correct) Halevi, in contrast, begins by noting what he believes are Rauf’s willingness to endorse Halevi’s call “for the Muslim world to come to terms with the Jewish return home.” Halevi recalls with pride How Rauf beamed when Halevi talked of “joining the Muslim prayer line and the reverence-the love-I felt for its choreography of surrender to God.” As for himself, he and a friend he quotes both believe that the Imam is “a spiritual ally, not an enemy.”
At this point, I had the reaction many of you readers undoubtedly will have. How much is it possible for someone so smart, as Halevi is, to be taken in by the evidently personally charming Rauf? So what lies behind this rather fawning opening of Halevi’s article? Does he really believe all this about Rauf, or is Halevi using a technique he has adopted so that the challenge he lays out will be hard for Rauf to ignore?