Monday evening, I drive to the Luxe Hotel (for the David Horowitz Freedom Center’s Jihad Lecture Series) under a heavy burden (no less horrific than that of the poor Jews of Sderot). (Video)
I had just been accused — in my own Moral Leader chat room no less – of disrespecting women (I’d said she was tight and this was misinterpreted as some kind of sick sexual remark, how, I don’t know, my mind boggles, I only meant it as a respectful remark on her body not being all saggy and loose and disgusting, nothing bums me out more than ugly fat women, that’s why I’m so appreciative of the fairer members of the fairer sex, no fatties).
I was stunned silent.
How could I respond?
Did not this woman know that I was in the running for Ms. Magazine’s Man of the Year award for 2008?
My contributions to feminism can not be described.
How about my membership in the first President Bush’s Thousand Points of Light club for my tutoring work with hot legal female Mexican immigrants between 18 and 19 years of age?
No Orthodox Jew in the world has done more work with fallen women than I have.
That’s just the way I roll.
Flinging aside my honor, I have taken the sins of the entire pornography industry upon my shoulders — I bet that when the prophet Hosea was told by God to go marry a ho, he got kicked out of all the Orthodox shuls in his hood too, I bet the Rabbi Weils of his time showed him no mercy, what, a lowly prophet, what kinda bling can he bring to the game? don’t hate, congratulate mofos, bitches — and offered myself up as the sacrificial redeemer for perverts so that those who read my blog will not perish with all sorts of unhealthy addictions, but shall have true life, life eternal, yeah, in my father’s house there are many mansions… I go to prepare a place for you. Young man, there’s no need to feel down. Pick yourself off the ground. Because you’re in a new town, there’s no need to be unhappy. Young man, there’s a place you can go. I said, young man, when you’re short on your dough. You can stay there, and I’m sure you will find many ways to have a good time.
Young man, are you listening to me? I said, young man, what do you want to be? I said, young man, you can make real your dreams. But you’ve got to know this one thing! No man does it all by himself. I said, young man, put your pride on the shelf, And just go there, to the Y.M.C.A. I’m sure they can help you today. It’s fun to stay at the Y-M-C-A. It’s fun to stay at the Y-M-C-A. They have everything that you need to enjoy, You can hang out with all the boys…
I run into my mate Jeff. Not only does he refuse to kiss my tzitzit, he denies our love three times before the cock crows.
Just a few hours earlier, our relationship had been sanctified before God and state in a moving ceremony presided over by the right honorable Mayor Villaraigosa.
And now this?
I try to spread oil on troubled waters by remarking how tight Jeff looks.
He replies that I don’t treat men with respect.
So I start yakking with a fine Christian couple at Biola University.
"Is that like Ebola?" I ask.
"Like they haven’t heard that a thousand times," says Jeff.
"Actually, I’ve never heard that before," says the Christian gentleman. "Nobody has been so cruel as to compare my school to a plague."
Somehow this is not my day. Everything I say is being misinterpreted.
Let me drown in your laughter, let my die in your arms, let me lay down beside you…
I go to the front row where I’m later joined by famed atheist author Sam Harris.
And that’s when it really gets ugly.
After a fiery introduction by Janet Levy, author Andrew G. Bostom ("The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism") takes the pulpit and reads his speech like he’s Josef Mengele before the Israeli Medical Association.
Bostom pounds in his points like a Roman centurion putting up Jesus for the night. Bang, bang, bang, he slams his points home like T.T. Boy.
He reads his speech with a machine gun delivery, torrents of vicious data, all meticulously (at least it sounded that way) footnoted, and he read every damn footnote.
Occasionally, he’d look up and speak to us for a sentence, never more than two, and it was such an exquisite release.
But after no longer than five seconds, he’d put his head down and ram us with more data.
Sweet Jesus, is there no relief? Is this what I get for denying you? Is this my punishment for converting to Judaism? To be harangued about Islamic Jew hatred?
My life has been such a worldwind since I saw you. I’ve been running around in circles in my mind. You take me to the places where alone I’d never find.
I meant every word I said. When I said that I loved you, I meant that I loved you forever.
Question time. Tony Blair never had it so good. Bostom takes questions and talks to us like a mentch, face to face, no blasted footnotes.
Afterwards, I latch on to Sam Harris and don’t let him go — not in a gay way — until I’d given over my entire life story.
It takes a good five minutes for me to list all my accomplishments.
We talk about atheism among scientists.
Sam’s finishing a Ph.D. in Neuro-Science at UCLA.
More than two-thirds of neuroscientists are atheists would be a safe guess. The more scientists deal with life (biology, psychiatry, psychology, etc), the more likely they are to be atheists. The more scientists live in theory (a la Mathematics and Physics), the less likely (comparative to other scientists) they are to be atheists.
I tell Sam about speaking to a dozen atheists on my first book, A History of X, to the Center for Skeptical Inquiry West. At the end, I was asked if I was a theist. I had to plead guilty.
Some of the old codgers told me they’d just returned from an atheist revival meeting. I bet that was a great time with a dozen people around 70 years of age.
Sam’s typical fan is a 75-year old man.
Religion gets the chix, man. The nuttier the faith (Kabbalah Centre, Scientology, Mormonism), the hotter the chicks. You want to see a depressing selection of female specimens? Go to a Reform temple on a Friday night, or a Church of England on a Sunday morning.
The energy, fertility and pheromones are with the fanatics.
I’ll pray for him.
I cried a tear. You wiped it dry.
Somehow you needed me.
That’s my visceral report on the evening. Now for my cerebral report.
Janet Levy introduces the speaker. "How many of you have read The Looming Tower?"
More than a dozen hands go up, including mine.
Janet: "I started reading The Looming Tower. I got up to page 38 and I’m still on page 38. This passage discusses the supposed origins of antisemitism in the Muslim world. ‘Until the end of WWII, there was little precedent in Islam for antisemitism. …Jews had lived safely though submissively under Muslim rule for 1200 years, enjoying full religious freedom.’"
Bernard Lewis, widely regarded as the Western world’s leading scholar of Islam, takes a similar view.
Janet: "I had read the Koran and known [Islam experts such as Robert Spencer] to know that this wasn’t so."
At the end of his speech, Andrew says: "Jews…must demand a mea culpa from their Muslim counterparts for their Jew-hatred which is still being taught in Islamic schools… Let us demonstrate as Jews that we are no longer willing to live with 12th Century expectations of Muslims otherwise they will oblige us."
I ask the first question: "How did you develop your expertise in Islam?"
Andrew: "The same way, though a longer period of time, than it took me to go through medical school. It’s been applying the same discipline…in sitting down and reading. My wife is a compulsive lady. She graduated summa cum laude from medical school. I only graduated cum laude. She used to force me to sit in the chair and read when I wanted to play basketball. My only language is English. I have had to assemble a growing team of translators. I have to have their translation vetted."
Andrew Bostom’s new book, The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History, brings massive evidence to show that Jews suffered greatly in Moslem societies due to an antisemitism intrinsic to the Moslem religion. In this he goes against the commonly held belief that Jews under Islam suffered relatively little for being Jewish and that Islam itself is relatively tolerant, ideas put forward by the philosophes of the Enlightenment as part of their battle with the Catholic Church, by Jewish historians who contrasted a mythical Muslim past with their own lachrymose conception of the history of their own people in Christian Europe and by contemporary historians of Islam, many of whom tend to view Moslem antisemitism through rose-colored glasses.The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism is a large collection of a broad range of readings from a paragraph to several pages in length, smoothly joined together by Bostom’s own writing. Included are the portions of Islamic scriptures relating to Jews, writing of Moslem scholars, preachers and rulers, writing of Jews who lived in Moslem societies and the reports of Jewish and gentile visitors to Moslem societies as well as writing of Western scholars who have studied various aspects of the experience of Jews in Islam.
The fact that Bostom’s is a collection of direct quotations allows it to convey emotional tone far better than the usual scholarly writing where the author’s impartial academic voice predominates. Travelers, diplomats and alien residents over the centuries have expressed emotions of sympathy, indignation and compassion regarding the situation of the Jews of Islam which academic authors are reluctant to employ. From their writing we learn telling details of the Jewish condition. For example a Christian traveler in Persia describes a Jew (who by Moslem law has no right of self defense) pleading with a Moslem who is beating his son to beat him instead.
A broad survey, Bostom’s book informs readers about an area of history unfamiliar to most. Whereas readers will know of many cases of persecution of Jews in Christendom (the Crusades, the expulsion of the Jews from England, France, various German states and Spain, the Inquisition, the Chmielnicki massacres, the Kishinev pogroms, the Dreyfus Affair and so on), few will be able to point to similar occurrences in the history of Jews under Islam. Bostom fills in the canvas of such events.