HARVARD SQUARE COMMENTARY

September 3, 2007
Muslim Hearts & Minds

James Adler


Sir, - Barry Rubin and David Horovitz have both recently written wise pieces on our not learning from the failure of various peace processes and hopes, and our not being able to get it together in the Middle East ("Come and let us reason together," August 27, and "Wishful thinking," August 17). But still I think both pieces are ultimately unsatisfactory.

I agree with the writers' frustrations but see no alternative to trying for peace and reasonableness, however long it may take.

The enemy is not like in World War II. Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan were each compact, insular, isolated, centralized states that were unpopular, even despised, on their respective continents. This enabled us to try to defeat them militarily and unconditionally, using any means, and to do what we wanted to them afterward. So to win we used atomic bombs and indiscriminate urban firebombing; and afterwards, the changing of Japan's state Shinto religion and the denazification of Germany.

Today could not be more different. There are a billion Muslims worldwide, whose (often irrational and extremist) anger is decentralized, amorphous and comes from the street. They are not in small, centralized, isolated states but represent a worldwide and popular state of mind. Muslim groups could become increasingly more militant, and want nuclear weapons. In any war we fought Israel would be the first target.

If there was ever a situation in which a people's "hearts and minds" must be won over, skillfully and with determination, this seems to be it - however frustrating the process, however much time it takes.

JAMES ADLER
Cambridge, Massachusetts


Published in The Jerusalem Post (Link)


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