I Would Renounce My Judaism

omar mateenIf people consistently committed heinous crimes in the name of my religion, I would have to take major stock of my religion and most probably, temporarily at least, renounce my religion until some major reforms took place.

After the Orlando attack, I heard many Muslims defend themselves saying this is not Islam. I would be more open to and convinced of their protestations if most acts of terrorism in recent years had not been committed in the name of Islam. Sadly, they were. And if these attacks are perpetrated by some psychotic “lone wolves”, it stands to reason that something in Islam attracts psychos and doesn’t give them the tools to reform their psycho ways, which would surely be the job of religion: to rehabilitate the troubled.

We know that Judaism has produced few “psychotic” killers, like that ultra-Orthodox man who horrifically stabbed a poor 16-year-old girl at the gay pride parade in Jerusalem last year. Most of the Jewish world categorically, even desperately, came out against this rare type of attack. The man was jailed, immediately. Indeed, dogmatic ultra-Orthodox Jews generally don’t murder people who don’t believe what they believe. Mostly, they stick to themselves and practice their strange rites and rituals in secluded communities. Thankfully, Judaism has produced proportionately more Nobel prize winners, businessmen, doctors and lawyers than most any other religion, sometimes to the envy of non-Jews.

Actually, the part that I renounce about Judaism is the extreme pacifism that has led to Jews being extreme victims throughout the years. It disheartens me that Jews hardly put up a fight when they were expelled from their homes and eventually murdered by Hitler and his henchmen, in the most extreme case of Jewish victimhood. I wonder the value of Judaism if Jews’ practice of the Torah doesn’t provide them with the tools to fight slavery and tyranny, for what should be the greatest value any religion should protect: life!

This knee-jerk reaction of non-jihadi Muslims to defend the non-jihadi elements of their religion is understandable given some positive value they may get from Islam: ideas of kindness, doing good in the world, and self-improvement. It’s difficult to reject ideas that have given some sort of emotional comfort and stability growing-up. But lately, the “extremist” elements are too loud and bloody, rendering the entire religion problematic.

I think Muslims who really want to purge Islam of its Jew-hating, homophobic, racist, patriarchal, suppressive, and violent ways, need to take a temporary leave-of-absence from Islam. Or give their Islam a completely new name, not simply “moderate Islam.” They could keep rituals that inspire them toward self-improvement, but I think for now, the only solution to distancing terrorism from Islam, is to distance “good” Muslims from Islam.

Until the schisms within the “religion” are clear, which could really only happen with a type of “civil war” between the “good” and “bad” Muslims (the way Americans battled it out over slavery), hopefully without bloodshed, we will never really be able to discriminate between those who condone jihad, whether openly or secretly, and those who don’t. And we will never fully be able to trust Islam and its practitioners, unless we know the practitioners personally.


Orit Arfa

Orit Arfa is a is a journalist and author based in Berlin. Visit her website: www.oritarfa.net.

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