Rabbi’s Essays

After 9/11
Thoughts on Religion, Resentment & Rage

Certain events are seared into a collective conscience. To Americans of a certain age, you can ask, “Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” and they can give you a precise answer nearly forty years after the event. We know that we will be able to do the same thing with the question, “Where were you when the World Trade Center was hit?” for decades to come. These events not only become chiseled into our memories, they also serve as a shocking wake-up call, a sudden realization that certain assumptions about civilization and society have to be rethought or re-examined, or inchoate ideas and feelings now crystallize.

I was on a train traveling down the Hudson Valley toward New York City when the first of the towers began to collapse, and the train was turned around. My focus on September 11, were the upcoming Jewish High Holy Days, for which I was planning to give over a large part of my sermons to the ongoing unrest in the Middle East. My problem in constructing my remarks centered on how to draw Jewish religious values into a discussion of the political and strategic events washing over conflict between Israel and Palestine. After 9/11, my focus turned much more to the politics inherent in religious values.

Here are some observations and conclusions on religion and modernity, and the passions that arise from their not-quite mutual co-existence.

I. Modern Religion

Religion, Love and Hate

The world is filled with hate, fear, resentment and murderous rage. It is also filled with love, generosity, sacrifice and righteousness. The Israeli historian, Yehuda Bauer, in his assessment of the roots of the Holocaust, noted that human beings are the distinct species of creation capable of the greatest cruelty and the greatest compassion. Religious sentiment is apt to be at the root of both. Religion tends to promote the highest forms of doing good. It also exhorts its adherents to hate evil. And there’s the rub. Good and evil are the two sides of the same coin: the measure of one’s righteous actions is also the measure of another’s wickedness. The more intense and narrow one’s religious vision the clearer it becomes as to who should be rewarded and who punished.

This component of religion is probably universal. History has witnessed incidents of violence and destruction in the name of virtually every religious creed. Jews, of course, are hardly immune. The central issue here is not whether one religious tradition is more virtuous than another, but rather, what capacity does religious consciousness have to overcome the paradox of righteous destruction. Does religion inevitably lead to validating hatred in the name of universal love?

You might guess that I do not raise this as casual question. I like to think of myself as a religious person. Further, I would like to be more religious, more intense in my fidelity to the canons of my traditions and the values of my faith. Could it be, however, that my tolerance of others is due precisely to the fact that I am not too religious?

But what do we mean when we call one ‘religious’? We are wont to define religiosity as adherence to some doctrine or discipline. All religions have texts: either sacred literature that reflect the will of the divine, or manuals that point toward right action and right thought. These traditions are important, but they are also fixed. The more one attempts to follow literally their directions, the less one is capable of personal discretion. Hence, we tend to see the greatest intolerance and willingness to harm or denigrate others among the most orthodox of a religion.

Religion, however, is not to be found in the texts alone. Religious thought and action is also created by community—the living, dynamic interaction that constantly (if not always consciously) re-interprets and recreates the ancient norms. In Judaism, the authority of God and the authority of human will are mediated as B’rit [covenant]. The Torah is therefore extended first through the Talmud, and then interpreted over and over again in Responsa literature.

Catholicism establishes its covenant as between God and the Church, and extends it through papal pronouncements. Protestants engage in conferences and conventions. Each of these is informed as much by the real interaction of human beings—who respond to the contingent circumstances of their times and needs—as to the ultimately unchanging and timeless divine text. The more we are attentive to this aspect religious thought—finding the godly in the human—the less isolated are we, and the less suspicious and resentful of those who do not quite fit into our sacred ideals.

I have referred to these mitigating factors in Judaism and Christianity. Eastern religions, primarily Hindu and Buddhism, share some of these dynamics. What about Islam? We will come to Muslim thought in due course.

Religion and Modernity

The community that acts to mediate God’s will is a ‘sacred community,’ a community of believers. In a world awash in faith—the Middle Ages—the interaction of human beings could be reinforcing, even as it transformed ‘traditional’ thought. Then, about 500 years ago, the medieval era itself transformed into modernity. Belief was challenged, and the community fragmented. One result was the Protestant Reformation that split one group of Christian believers from the Catholic Church. But note that Protestantism fragmented as well into a variety of synods, presbyteries and creeds.

Modernity introduced something into general culture, and the results were broadly appealing. From its sources in European society, the components and features of modernity—chief of which is technological development—spread throughout the world, impacting upon and challenging every culture and social order.

The process of modernization in Europe and elsewhere was hardly smooth. Conservative and reactionary forces fought it at every step. Often found in the middle (more often, in the lead) of the opposition was religious leadership. Not only is modernity a departure from tradition, held so dear by religious expression, it is also an apparent departure from religious goals and ideals, paradigms that were articulated in the ancient (and manifestly pre-modern) sacred texts. Thus, to this day, religion is the most accessible basis, intellectually and emotionally, for opposition to modernity.

Our everyday use of language feeds into the problem, because we identify modernity with secularization, and secularization with the denial or disparagement of religion. As Reform Jews, however, we know that religion itself can modernize. How? “Modern” religion incorporates intellectual features of modernity. It does not simply take them on like sewing new pockets onto a jacket. Rather, it searches for and finds some compatibility, some resonance, between the force of modernity and the teaching of the sacred tradition. We usually call the process “reinterpretation.” In this way, the lessons and discoveries of modernity (Darwinian evolution and the antiquity of the universe are very good examples) are “found” to be present all along in the ancient texts, when they are properly read.

We can, of course, read almost anything into those texts. Shakespeare understood this when he had Antonio, the merchant of Venice, say: “The Devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.” This is a struggle we all engage in—Jew, Gentile, liberal, conservative—how to integrate the ancient words so that they have contemporary value, and to do so with integrity that does not do violence to the text. We occasionally succeed and often fail, and we struggle on. We have, however, some tools to help us. Let me focus first on the Hebrew and Christian Bible.

The Torah and the Gospels both suggest blueprints for a “return to Eden.” They are provided within a historic context that is manifestly unredeemed. The Torah is given to a people in the midst of a wilderness. The subsequent historical narrative marks mostly the failure of Israel to live up to those demands. The Hebrew Bible thus ends with the people having returned from a punishment of exile, given the opportunity to start over again. The Christian Bible posits the condition of humankind as so far from its messianic promise that God has to sacrifice “His only Son” in order to wake humanity up to their sinfulness. Scripture concludes with a vision of some future redemption (the Book of Revelations) that has no precedence or model in human history.

For Christians and Jews, the past (and present) can only be prologue to some future ideal. The lessons of the past are mostly negative and cautionary, telling us how not to live. Although there is a recurring romanticism of some idealized “good ol’ days,” especially in deeply conservative circles, even the reactionaries have to concede that the ol’ days were only good, but not perfect. They could only be an intimation of a better future. History constantly provides lessons, but not answers. The sacred texts point toward truths that even the texts themselves do not contain. Religion therefore calls upon its adherents to transcend themselves; not only to break from sin, but also to break from the past.

This description of religion is drawn from modernity, for it employs the fundamental building block of a modern attitude: self-consciousness. In modernity we are aware of our selves. Something exists, and each of us have it, that can make determinations about truth and value (right or wrong, good or bad) that is essentially independent of everything else that exists in the universe; independent even from God! Modern religion, including most versions of Orthodoxy, accepts the reality of the self.

In the modern world, however, not all religion is modern. At this point, we need to take up the special problems and burdens of Islam.

II. Islam and the Modern West

Arab Nationalism and the Rise of Islam

There is certainly resistance to modern thought and ideals throughout the world. No entity has been more disapproving, to the point of violence, than Islam. The terror of September 11 is only the most recent and most spectacular instance of Muslim inspired attacks on Western interests. Violence in the Philippines, Indonesia, Kashmir, Bosnia, Chechnya, Macedonia, Nigeria, Sudan, Algeria and Israel, have all involved Muslims in opposition to Christian, Jewish or Western-inspired interests. Islam is, of course, as devoted to peace as any other religious system; the name of the religion itself is based on the Arabic word for ‘peace’ (sala’am, shalom in Hebrew). Yet no religion has been as deeply and consistently embroiled in wars of every kind over the past quarter century. What is going on?

Before tackling this issue, let me comment on one significant and related trend that has taken place in the Middle East, the decline of Arab nationalism in favor of Islamism. Arab nationalism and Zionism arose as popular ideologies around the same time, the beginning of the twentieth century. They were both the result of powerful Western ideological forces. Thus, both were indebted to the concept of nationalism, an idea that developed in and seized Europe in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They gained adherents among Arabs in opposition to the colonization of the Middle East, and among Jews in reaction to the outbreak of anti-Semitism. Both imperialism and anti-Semitism were in turn ramifications of nationalism itself.

Arabs and Jews conceived of their national movements as overarching. For Jews, it made no difference where you came from or how observant a Jew you were. For Arabs, it made no difference if you were Muslim or a follower of another religion (except for Judaism, which represented a direct conflict.) In its most radical ideal conception, Zionism expected all Jews everywhere to converge and live in the Jewish State. Arabs expected to create a single Arabic-speaking nation from Spanish Morocco to Iraq.

The One-Arab-Nation ideal was powerful and enduring, promoted most persistently by Egyptian pan-nationalists, of whom the late President of Egypt, Gamal Nasser was the foremost proponent. For a brief while, Nasser was able to forge a single political entity of Egypt, Syria and Yemen—The United Arab Republic. The UAR fell apart in the 60s, and Nasser died in 1971. Pan-Arab nationalism endured, perhaps with less ardor, but continued to founder on the competing dreams of individual strongmen (Hafez ‘al-Assad of Syria, Muammar Qaddafi of Libya and Saddam Hussein in Iraq, in particular) to be the single unifier of the Arab people.

Perhaps the 1979 revolution in Iran that brought about the fall of the Shah signaled the beginning of the end of pan-Arab nationalism. Iran is not an Arab country, but the success of the Ayatollah Khomeini represented the first serious attempt at forging a true post-colonial Muslim republic. From that point on, it was no longer pan-Arabism that would be a dominating ideology, but the broader ideal of Islam resurgent (commentators call it “Islamism” in order to distinguish it from Islam as a religious creed.)

Islamism and Arab nationalism are deeply interconnected. The Qur’an is an Arabic document that must be recited and properly studied in Arabic. Thus, Arab culture and sensibility has penetrated cultures of every country where Islam is dominant—from Indonesia to sub-Sahara Africa. In the Arab world itself, being Arab and being Muslim reinforce each other. The rise of Islam over Arabism, however, has lead to two significant developments. For one, such otherwise secular leaders as Muammar Qaddafi and Saddam Hussein have had to refocus their rhetoric in order to claim status as great protectors of Islam. Second, the status of non-Muslim Arabs, as well as non-Muslims in most Muslim nations, has been degraded, thus often engendering violent conflict.

Islam and the West

The change from pan-Arabism to Islamism has been exemplified in the September 11 attack. Whether Osama bin Laden is the mastermind behind the terror or not, we can be reasonably sure that there was a radical Muslim source. Further, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is an important stimulus, but the motivations for the attack go far deeper. This was not an attack on the United States as supporter of Israeli interests, but rather an attack on the very symbol of modern western civilization and thought.

The deep-seated conflict between Islam and the West is quite ironic. Muslim thought is borne out of the western religious tradition: Christianity and Judaism. Moreover, for the first five hundred years after Mohammed—the period that witnesses the spectacular growth and spread of the religion—Islam was the very epitome of Western thought, far more western than Europe itself. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the Muslim produced some of the world’s most advanced art and architecture, technological development (particularly the hardening of iron into steel), and were the principal preservers and promulgators of the classic Greek philosophic tradition. Islamic countries from India to the Iberian Peninsula were meccas (also an irony) of tolerance and diversity. All in all, the Muslim world was centuries ahead of Christian Europe, sufficiently so that it is appropriate to call Europe during the 5-700 years following the fall of Rome as truly being in the Dark Ages.

Then it all changed. Sometime in the early 1200s, Muslim leadership turned its back on ancient Western modes of thought (just as the Christian world was beginning to embrace it), declaring it as hopelessly out of step with the ideals of Islam. The extraordinary cultural advantage of Islam began to peter away. True, powerful and culturally advanced Islamic empires were established in India and Iran as late as the sixteenth century. With respect to Europe, a last hurrah was the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople in the mid-1400s. By the middle of the nineteenth century, however, virtually the entire Islamic world had been colonized by Europe.

At this point, Western thought is reintroduced to the Muslim East, now in the form of secular modernity. It is fashion and food, technology, materialism and such ideas as nationalism and socialism. In brief, it is some of the most superficial and most destructive qualities of Western life.

Thoughtful and fairly observant Muslims survey the situation. What is the West? It is the source of the colonizing and demeaning of their lives and heritage. It is the purveyor of values and practices that are inimical to their culture and teachings. And it is the repository of material well being, and of individual freedom and initiative. The West is feared and envied; hated and found inexorably alluring.

What do Muslims Want?

Like Christianity, Islam is a comprehensive theological idea, and thus it is conceivable within the bounds of Islamic thought to argue that every human being needs to be Muslim in order to achieve any sort of personal salvation. Such chauvinism, like aggressive Christian missionizing, certainly exists and is heard publicized by one cleric or another now and then. Also as with Christianity, it is the subject of intense internal debate with many Muslim thinkers considering such a position at very least impolitic and impractical.

Far more common would be a notion of Muslim separatism. A Muslim might claim that all of humanity is not, nor need not, be Islamic, but Islam should have exclusive and undisputed control over the community of the faithful. The terror attack on the U.S. clearly arose out of this attitude. The ultimate aim of the attackers was to rid the Muslim world of all non-Islamic influence, whether it be the cultural and economic ‘imperialism’ of the U.S. and Europe, the presence of U.S. military bases on the soil of Saudi Arabia, or the existence of an independent Jewish State within their midst. That Americans, Europeans, Indians and East Asians choose not to become Muslim is not their concern at all. Indeed, they might be willing to establish and maintain forms of ongoing peaceful relationships with a non-Muslim world, but only if the Muslim world itself is permitted to be substantially pure.

The terrorists represent the most radical expression of this point of view; a willingness to engage in pitiless and relentless war on behalf of the purification of Dar al-Islam (the House of Islam). This however is ultimately a matter of tactics. Separatism, I believe, is fundamentally the most pervasive attitude of faithful Muslims. For the most part, Muslims prefer peace to war, and therefore will articulate their ideals in spiritual rather than physical terms. Yet, they are drawn away from the West. It remains inexorably Dar al-Harb, the House of the Sword. There simply is no place for the non-Muslim, intellectually or spiritually, within the orb of Islam.

A Modern Islam?

This is jihad. Muslim authorities repeat continuously to a non-comprehending Western population, jihad is not a military engagement with the ‘infidel,’ but rather a spiritual quest for personal purification and re-affirmation of the principals and practices of Islam. [A better term is the verb form, ijtihad, indicating that it is a process rather than an event.] Jihad, in this sense, is no more a threat to non-Muslims, than are Jews going on kallot (retreats) for the sake of reinforcing their Jewish identity. The problem, as I see it, is not jihad (except in its violent forms), but rather what happens after it. To what ends is jihad a means, or is jihad an end in itself? I have noted two attitudes on the part of the Muslim world: chauvinism and separatism. Is there anything else?

At first blush, the answer is: maybe not. The first five to seven centuries of Islam was marked by extraordinary expansion. Muslims fanned out of Arabia, bringing the teachings of Mohammed and the Qur’an to the non-Arab world. Muslim thought therefore both had to adopt elements of these foreign cultures, and adapt to being established in places where all the peoples would not necessarily convert to its teachings. During the time of its ascendancy, Muslims had little difficulty assuming an outward-looking and tolerant attitude.

Then the expansion bogged down, eventually coming to a virtual halt. Muslims, not remarkably, concluded that their lack of success was due to the acquisition of ‘foreign’ and therefore corrupting influences. This attitude marked by a severe criticism of the current state of a religion or culture is hardly unique. The cultural historian Jacques Barzun has referred to it as Primitivism. It is the perception that an enterprise has gone off on the wrong track, and thus must return to first (primitive) principles.

Martin Luther therefore attacked the Church as being deviant from the true lessons of Jesus and the Apostle Paul. Both the Hasidic movement of the eighteenth century and the Reformers of the nineteenth challenged the rabbinic establishment as misconstruing the real principles of Torah. Reform in general can be characterized by the urge to go back to the beginning in order to start over again. Muslim leadership in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries committed Islam to just this sort of Reform. Islamic Reform, however, was very different from Christian and Jewish Reform. For Jews and Christians, Reform ushered in the benefits—and very real drawbacks—of modernity. For Islam, virtually the opposite occurred. A development into modernity was thwarted.

The difference is found in the nature of the beginnings of the three faiths. The Qur’an is very similar to the Bible (Hebrew and Christian) in its visions of a model society. Unlike Moses however, who was left on the banks of the Jordan River as the Israelites began their occupation of their Promised Land, or Jesus, who died with only a few disciples following him, Mohammed emerged from the cave in which he received Scripture and created a powerful kingdom. Prof. Yvonne Yazbek Haddad, in an essay called “Current Paradigms for an Islamic Future” (in Religion and the Authority of the Past), comments about the effect on Muslim attitudes of having such an event in their past. She describes standard Muslim thinking:

“God’s final revelation, the Qur’an, is his unerring word; consequently its teachings are valid for all time and all places and binding on all Muslims for eternity. The Prophet was a perfect man, sinless; his life and works as well as his practice and teachings are guidelines for all life on earth. He established a perfect state in Medina from 622 to 632 C.E., during which time the revelation of God guided every aspect of community…Prophetic time is ideal time, and as such Muslims must constantly strive to approximate, if not replicate, its just order.

This is the burden of Islam. Unlike Jews and Christians, Muslims have a belief in the reality of a certain past: the concrete historical reign of the prophet Mohammed. Thus, the past does not merely inform and guide the future, in a fundamental way, the past is the future.

Muslims seem to be caught in a ‘time loop.’ All paths into the future lead to an idealized past. All elements of the present must be judged by the perspective of that past. Self-consciousness, the touchstone of modernity, is severely compromised. The self operates in an eternal present; it perceives everything in the context of the here and now. The past (and the future, for that matter) has no place for the conscious self. Hence, if a return to the conditions of the Prophet’s perfect state is to be achieved, the dictates of the self must be curtailed.

All religion, dependent as it is on a tradition that promotes emulation of the saints of the past, has difficulty with the modern notion of a Sovereign Self. And for good reason: the unrestrained self is a form of paganism. It is not only a challenge to religious principles, but it is, in my opinion, the basis of the worst features of the modern world: its propensity toward racism, colonialism, totalitarianism and despoliation of the environment. As noted at the beginning of my thoughts, the restrained self—in the form of community—mediates against the worst features of tradition: its propensity toward intolerance and condoning hatred in the name of love. All religious thought therefore struggles with the problem of the self. No major religion, I believe, has a greater struggle than Islam.

The intrinsic Muslim discomfort with the self leads to an inevitable confrontation with modernity. If Muslims wish to avoid actual struggle—and who wants to fight all the time—then the obvious solution is self-isolation.

Throughout the world, we see evidence of Muslims wanting to be left alone. There are political and military struggles in diverse places as Chechnya, Albania, Western China and the Philippines. There are also the sophisticated intellectual arguments for Islamic authenticity that entail a non-reductive opposition to Western thought. Yet, the globe has shrunk. Muslim separatism has become increasingly impossible. For better or for ill, the forces of modernity have seeped into every corner of the globe, bringing technological development, cultural diversity and corruption, if you will, of tradition.

What do many Muslims do? They compartmentalize, attempting to define and restrict the features of modernity to some limited aspect of their lives. Compartmentalization, however, is violative of personal integrity. The result is often corrosive. Iran attempted both to establish a pure Shi’ite Republic and to continue its participation in the world energy market. The result is often lethally divided government. Yet, Iran is far better off than the repressive societies that mark virtually the entire Arab world, each of which struggles mightily with the “pact with the Devil” they have made in attempting to manage some economic and political relationship with the modern West.

A Modern Islam!

Much of the Muslim world is dominated by the orthodoxy of a seven-hundred-year tradition that views the contributions of the West with suspicion and scorn. That orthodoxy, however, has now been confronted with the fruits of its own contradictions. The freedoms and material benefits of modern western life are extraordinarily alluring. Muslims, along with the rest of the world, are drawn to it, even as their faith teaches them to reject these ‘gifts’ as inexorably corrupting. Islam leaves them suspended between envy and fear, attraction and repulsion. What an excellent formula for resentment, depression and murderous rage!

While this rage was directed mostly at the edges of modern Europe—in the Balkans and Russia, or in Muslim lands over and against authoritarian and secularized leadership (think especially of the late Shah of Iran), or even against Israel—it could be substantially ignored or rationalized. Now it has been directed in the most spectacular fashion against the symbols of the Modern West, its military and economic might. It can no longer be ignored.

The attack, however, is not as much a crisis for the West as it is for Islam. The terror of September 11 was very upsetting. It shattered lives and disrupted a national economy. Yet, in the full scheme of things, it was a pinprick. New York City, the nation as a whole and the modern world will recover rather easily. Within a month of the tragedy, most of the city and the country had returned to normal social and economic activity. Not everything, however, returns to normal. Western society can no longer remain oblivious to the rage smoldering in the heart of the Muslim world. And this is where the crisis for Islam begins. The Muslim world can no longer be oblivious to the rage residing at its heart either.

This rage cannot be assuaged by the West. While the anger and resentment continues to exist, all the West can do is defend itself. (The means of defense is hardly military alone. The easiest line is and has been economic. We—the modern West—will continue to pay the Muslim world off, and to overwhelm them with the superficial but irresistibly attractive baubles of fast food, escapist entertainment, knock-off fashions and the like. I do not mean any of this in a derogatory way. It is simply the path of least resistance.) Ultimately Islam must cure itself. It must find a way of making peace with modernity.

The good news is that the effort has already begun. The voices are few and far between, and more often than not, they are being drowned by conventional thought. Moreover, the task is daunting. Professor Haddad described in her essay how difficult it has been for Muslim intellectuals to have any influence in the Middle East:

Caught between renaissance and reformation, between the critical study of history and events and the confinement of orthodoxy, the Muslim intellectual found the prevailing atmosphere stifling…The task of intellectual reflection, especially using the rational methodologies developed in the modern West, is an increasingly problematic business in the Islamic world…[Arab intellectuals] have been caught in a pincer of fear between the politicians, who are suspicious of their endeavors, and the masses, who are not ready for their intellectual output.

Haddad does not state explicitly but implies that intellectuals are not only the objects of suspicion, but have also become suspicious of themselves. As committed Muslims, they are as weighed down by the past as anyone else. The past keeps steering intellectual reflection away from the modern West: “the real issue…is whether the quest for an authentic Islamic life in the modern world can be grounded in any authority but Islam.” When the answer is ‘no,’ Islam becomes its own standard of evaluation. It is wholly self-referential, resisting everything outside of it, learning nothing.

This critique can be laid at the feet of all fundamentalisms, but that is not the point. In Christianity and Judaism, fundamentalism is opposed by a substantial movement toward liberalism. The two poles—liberal and orthodox—then act in a dynamic relationship so that the total religious enterprise neither neglects the timeless verities of its tradition nor turns its back on the ongoing march of everyday people through history. Islam has resisted the establishment of a liberal movement.

Such a movement must answer ‘yes’ to the “real issue” noted above, and this means the application of the same sort of scholarship that questioned and evaluated the divine origins of Jewish and Christian Scripture, be brought to bear on the Qur’an. This scholarship, moreover, must not only take place in the university—so manifestly an institution associated with the modern West—but also in recognized Muslim seminaries. Yet, despite all the difficulties and countervailing forces, just such scholarship is taking place. I personally hope that, following the profound shock of September 11, more thoughtful Muslims will begin to listen to these voices.

After 9/11

Violence represents the rawest of emotions. This is no less true for the counterviolence that an initial attack might create. Highjacked airliners slam into the towers of the World Trade Center produce enough grim anger to send bombs slamming into the Afghan countryside. Anger, however, is not the only feeling pervading our post-9/11 existence. Most of us feel revulsion; a fundamental sense of aversion to the rage and the violence that feeds upon it. We want to reach out, not in order to strike someone, but rather to engage with them in some expression of common concern and empathy.

We know we feel it, and we know Muslims in our community feel it as well. The events of September 11 have created a unique opportunity to take advantage of the experience of an abstract evil that has thrown us together. Over the past century, Jews in America have moved from being practitioners of minority religion to participants in a “Judeo-Christian” heritage. We no longer feel that we adhere to exotic practices or beliefs. Muslims, however, are exotic; that is, until 9/11. The Muslim community can no longer be treated as somehow separate from the fabric of American culture. The Muslims, in turn, can no longer treat themselves as separate either.

The time for dialogue and engagement has begun. Resentment and rage must be replaced by understanding and acceptance. In the words of sage Hillel: If not now, when?