The most recent offense took place on CNBC’s Donnie Deutsch show. Interviewing Ann Coulter, Deutsch asked her what her ideal world would look like. Her response included a reference that everybody would be Christian, to which Deutsch, a practicing Jew, took offense. Probing further, he elicited from Coulter the remark that Christians believe Jews need to be “perfected.” Deutsch claimed he was further offended, using the weapon of victimhood to near perfection.
As Deutsch, a consummate “ad man”, surely realizes, religion, among many other things, is a competitive marketplace. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have had to distinguish themselves from each other. To do so, a religion’s world view must explain why a follower should wish to subscribe to it; and the best way to accomplish that is to reinforce the notion that followers are either of a higher or better nature or stand to gain more with this particular religion. It would be difficult to attract or hold onto a large number of followers by telling them they stand lowest on the human hierarchy.
As Coulter repeatedly tried to explain, her take on the Christian view is that while Jews were given the Law and need to follow it, Christians were given the “fast track.” In essence, Jesus came along and said, “Let Me simplify this for you. If you accept Me, you will be forgiven and make it.”Accordingly, the Jewish “Bible” became the “Old Testament.” She told Deutsch that Jews had to follow laws while Christians got right in. That was part of what she meant by “perfected.”
The religious belief system that develops later has a distinct advantage in the religious marketplace. Whatever God is on record saying can be rewritten or updated or amended by the religion that originates next. You believe God says to do this or that? God has now said that was wrong and here is the new set of principles you need. It is very difficult for the earlier religion to defend against this challenge other than to have originally included in its view the warning to beware false gods.
To be clear, of course Christians believe they are in some sense better or better off than Jews. It is also no secret that Jews see themselves as “Chosen” (eliminating the need to seek to convert others) and view Christians in one way or another as having been “tricked” into following a false Messiah. There is nothing new here. Modern Christians and Jews have developed a mature and workable understanding and acceptance of each other’s points of view.
If Deutsch is so offended by these notions, he’d better not interview any honest Muslims. Having the benefit of following both Judaism and Christianity, Islam claims not only that it is better than the other two but that it was, in fact, what the other two originally were:
“They [the Jews] change the words from their (right) places and have abandoned a good part of the message was sent to them.” 5:13
“A party of them used to hear the Word of Allah (the Torah), then they used to change it knowingly after they understood it.” 2:75, 76-79
That is, Muslims believe that all of the old prophets, including Jesus, were true prophets but that what they preached was true Islam. Just as Christians believe the Jews misconstrued the essence of what God gave Moses and Jesus came to correct it, so Islam maintains that Mohammad was given his revelations to correct Christianity, Judaism, and all others. Clearly, Muslims believe that Islam is the perfect religion and are telling Jews and Christians that they don’t even know what their religion truly was and that they falsely believe that which is not what they were instructed to believe. Offensive?
Mohammad’s revelations went one step further. Perhaps Allah was not going to let Islam be usurped again. Allah dictated that Mohammad would be the final prophet. A Muslim need not entertain the same doubts Christians and Jews might have when someone new presents himself as a prophet with a new or clarifying message. There can not be another prophet in Islam.
Further, Mohammad is considered the best example of man following Islam. Muslims also believe they must aspire to be like Mohammad. In that light, they certainly must consider Jews far from perfect.
It is clear in Islam what Allah thought of Jews. The Koran contains only Allah’s actual words, not (as with the prior Books) stories about Allah that include His words. The Koran is self-defined as eternally immutable so that anyone thinking of changing it or competing in the future has a tough row to hoe. If the notion that a Jew must be “perfected” is insulting coming from Ann Coulter, how about some of the ideas Allah states about both Jews and Christians contained in the Koran:
It is ever-repeated in the Middle East today that Jews are descendants of apes and pigs and monkeys:
“We said to them: “Be ye apes, despised and rejected.” 7:166
“…some He transformed into apes and swine…” 5:60
Further, Jews throughout time are the cause of war (relieving Muslims of responsibility):
“Amongst them we have placed enmity and hatred till the Day of Judgment. Every time they kindle the fire of war Allah doth extinguish it; But they (ever) strive to do mischief on earth. And Allah loveth not those who do mischief.” 5:64
Nor should you truly consider even being friends with Jews:
“O ye who believe! Take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors; They are but friends and protectors to each other. And he amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is of them. Verily Allah guideth not a people unjust. 8:51
The Koran tells us also that Jews are even worse enemies to Muslims than Christians:
“Strongest among men in enmity to the Believers wilt thou find the Jews and Pagans.” 5:82. The verse continues to describe Christians as closer to Muslims because they are devoted to learning, have renounced the world, and are not arrogant. The Jews are a long way from perfection in Allah’s eyes (although Allah, to be clear, does not need eyes).
Islam clearly looks down on all non-Muslims. Along with Christianity, Islam looks to world-wide domination through the conversion of everyone. All non-Muslims are offered the opportunity to become Muslim and thereby enhance their status in Allah’s eyes.
Throughout Islamic history, Muslims have applied Allah’s command that all non-believers be given the opportunity to convert to Islam or face the sword. Jews and Christians (People of the Book), however, were given a third option — to become “dhimmis.” The dhimmi, in exchange for being allowed to continue his or her faith, accepted a humiliating subservient status and was forced to pay a separate tax. Dhimmitude is very much a part of the Islamic consciousness today fortifying the notion that Jews (and Christians) are lower than Muslims and quite far from perfection.
Jews are so despised in Islam that their extinction is a sign of the last Judgment Day. Mohammad famously said that we will know the end of days when the last Jew is found hiding behind a rock and the rock gives him up. Only when the world is rid of Jews can Muslims look to their possible entry to Paradise (unless, of course, they have already died in Jihad against infidels such as Jews). Offensive?
At their core all religions are critical of — and therefore implicitly, if not explicitly, demeaning of–those who do not subscribe. To feel victimized is disingenuous, especially for those who advocate multicultural diversity. To paraphrase Muslim reformist Irshad Manji, being offended is a necessary byproduct of a diverse community.
The key issue is how one responds when offended. In modern advanced diverse civilizations, one must learn how to grow beyond such offense and victimhood to acceptance and responsibility. Jews and Christians have done a great deal of advancing on this front with each other’s views. Their views of each other have generally been tempered over time and few conflicts manifest in modern times. Western civilization, however, faces a much tougher problem with Islam: the paradoxes of diversity and tolerance. How do you tolerate one who is intolerant of you? How do you accept as equal one who does not recognize you as equal? If Deutsch insists on being offended, perhaps he should point his camera in that direction instead.