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Religion is reemerging as a significant global force, challenging prevailing Western methods of addressing fundamentalism and terror.

In this complex landscape, where the intellectual hypocrisy of the left and the war-mongering of the right is evident, a new approach becomes imperative.

Redefining Terror: The West's Effort to Disassociate Religion"

Left-wing supporters, peace advocates, and human rights activists face challenging questions about maintaining faith in humanity and adhering to values of freedom, equality, and human dignity without falling into righteous naivety or dangerous political blindness.  

The media, with a unified narrative, echo the new national slogan: "We will crush, destroy, eliminate, annihilate." On the other hand, left-wing relativists and theory champions, ensconced in academic towers or café tables, argue that Hamas's brutality is a result of occupation, dispossession, and oppression, believing that humane treatment of those perceived as inhumane could have prevented everything. These groups are also resolute in their righteousness, with everyone claiming to know the best course of action.

This polarized environment raises profound questions about human cruelty and the nature of conflict. How can humans be so cruel? What makes such realities possible? Is this solely due to material conditions, i.e., unbearable living conditions leading to such cruelty, or is there also a cultural element involved? Is this only a territorial-national conflict, or is there a clash between civilizations, with Israel being a frontline in a global struggle?

The ongoing dispute between Western right and left perspectives, with the ‘left’ focusing on material reality and inequality and the ‘right’ on cultural and religious differences, highlights the dangers of adhering to ideological extremes. 

The danger in adopting either ideological extreme is clear: on one hand, the moral relativism of the progressive left creates dangerous blindness to value gaps and non-rational drivers of human behavior; on the other, the right-wing approach leads to dangerous generalizations that dehumanize large groups of people, often sliding into racism.

Lost in Translation: The Western Misunderstanding of Extreme Islamic Democracy"

The digital revolution further complicates things and make it increasingly difficult to hold a complex worldview.

Historical comparisons, such as those between Hamas and Nazism, shed light on the limitations of interpreting events through a singular cultural lens. Great interpreters and historians of Nazism failed to understand it because they imposed their cultural standards and conceptual categories onto a worldview that explicitly sought to offer an alternative to all of these. Their failure is not fundamentally different from that of Neville Chamberlain, who tried to save world peace through his appeasement of Hitler. We must accept the fact that often one cannot judge one culture by the categories and standards of another culture.

The globalist liberal approach's failure in conflicts like the Israeli-Palestinian one and the collapse of the multicultural model in Europe exemplifies the perils of cultural blindness.

Between Sensitivity and Reality: The West's Stance on Islam and Multiculturalism

For someone who defines themselves as liberal, it's not easy to admit this. Liberals are educated to believe that all human beings are driven by the same basic needs: freedom, security, dignity, equality, and the desire for property. They are taught to believe that these needs are universal, and once satisfied, humans will turn into McDonald's-consuming, peace-seeking benefactors. The belief that humans are driven by the need to satisfy their egotistic needs, avoid pain, and maximize pleasure is only partially true. Humans also need spiritual content in their lives, self-transcendence, belonging, meaning, and compromise. The answer to this is often found in tradition, religion, collective myth, or national story, which vary from place to place, from culture to culture. The danger of ignoring these non-material and culture-dependent needs can lead not only to a distorted reading of the political and geo-political reality but also to moral blindness. An example of this was seen recently in Judith Butler, the feminist theorist, who described criticisms of Hamas as "unintellectual moral rage" and suggested viewing the attack on Israel in a broader historical context, as part of a reality of prolonged occupation and oppression.

In contrast to Butler, whose rhetorical contortions reveal her embarrassment, others felt no need to disguise their joy at the attack on Israel: for example, Russell Rickford, a history professor at Cornell University, described Hamas's attack as "inspiring" and "invigorating"; Nina Arbina, a law professor at the University of Albany, praised "Palestinian resistance" and defined it as "a source of inspiration." The loss of compass and conscience of the progressive left and the crazy Woke normalizes even murder and kidnapping of children.

These are people for whom theory is stronger than the instinct of life, whose intellectual narcissism has eradicated any trace of humanity. They are addicted to hollow moralism, identity totalitarianism, and ideological purity that can even legitimize the most nefarious acts in the name of distorted principles of relativity and openness. United in their value relativism and their adherence to equality, they have built walls that hide the world from them, turned relativity from a theoretical stance to a moral one, replaced the pursuit of natural rights with identity politics, and turned political correctness into a new religion, in its radical manifestations reaching as far as justifying the murder of innocent civilians, rape of women, and kidnapping of the elderly from their beds. The problem is that these highbrows, who see "power structures" or "mechanisms of exclusion" everywhere, sweep along many young people on Western campuses, idealists of Generation Z, burning with a sincere and true fervor to make the world a better place.

Blurring Lines: The Western Dichotomy in Portraying Hamas

But cultural blindness is not only the domain of the non-liberal and progressive left. The moderate left and the liberal (or neo-liberal) center also believe that through capitalism they can impose their democratic values on non-democratic cultures and spread the message of liberalism to every corner of the world. This logic guides U.S. foreign policy since the end of the Cold War, often serving as a pretext for armed intervention in the affairs of other countries. Here too, the underlying assumption is that changing the material reality through economic incentives will gradually lead the local culture to dismantle its traditional structures and adopt the democratic and liberal values of the West. The U.S. failures in Iraq and Afghanistan are just evidence of the naivety and arrogance of American globalism. The same neo-liberal approach, reducing human beings to the sum of their utilitarian material needs, is also at the heart of the failed Netanyahu government's concept towards the Hamas regime in Gaza: just give them money, build them a port, allow workers to go out to work, and they will give up their Jihadist dreams; if they have something to lose, they will abandon the path of armed struggle. The result is known.

A new paradigm is needed, one that recognizes the diversity of cultural values and the importance of internal reform within Muslim societies. This new approach seeks to balance realism and idealism, fighting for freedom and humanism without succumbing to hate or nationalism. It acknowledges that military force alone cannot eradicate groups like Hamas, whose strength lies in their ideological appeal. Addressing the emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs that religious radicalism satisfies is crucial for effective solutions.

Mirror of Democracy: The American Pursuit of Global Replication

This approach calls for equality amidst diversity, emphasizing the commonality of human nature while respecting cultural differences. While cultural values are relative, morality must be seen as absolute and universal.

Supporting internal Muslim liberalization through economic, diplomatic, and political means, and encouraging intercultural dialogue, is essential. Religious leaders, intellectuals, and educators play a key role in fostering deep cultural changes necessary for a new world order that addresses global challenges without neglecting the need for community and cultural belonging.

These insights are especially pertinent for Israel, as it reshapes its national vision post-conflict and decides its cultural alignment. Rebuilding democratic and liberal values while confronting internal radicalism is crucial. An alliance of moderates, guided by recognition of human complexity, is necessary to counter radicalism from within and without, providing a hopeful alternative to the cycle of war and destruction.

Based on an article by the Historian Amit Varshizky

More about this:

Piers Morgan is joined by philosopher and author Sam Harris talking about the ongoing conflict in Gaza between Israel and Palestine. Sam discusses with Piers Morgan how religion and God have played a part in this conflict and could be partly to blame for the escalation.

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