vrijdag 12 december 2014

David Pinto

If I were David Pinto I would have turned it around. Pinto wrote last week in Trouw: “Islam can learn something from Judaism”, and then wonders whether presenting the Jewish tradition as an example to Muslims would not easily go the wrong way.

It’s true: there are many punishments in the Torah which can be described as barbaric and which were abolished as a prescription. For example, the punishment of stoning of a Jew who does not respect the Sabbath, no Jew would get it into his head to apply that. Unlike the gruesome punishments that are actually executed by Muslims today, to fellow Muslims and others.

But a lot of the other things that Pinto designates as negative in Muslims are indeed also to be found in (ultra-)orthodox Jews. Think of gay hate, misogyny, or hatred of everything non-Jewish.

This makes Pinto's argument a bit weak. Apart from that, in fact it sounds rather pedantic to set your own tradition as an example to others, even though he’s partly right.

Therefore, I am inclined to turn it around. By this I mean that I would not in an offensive manner shout “Look at me!”. But instead I would keep ready the argument of the de facto abolition of barbaric punishments for the situation that bystanders put away the Jewish tradition as primitive and barbaric, for example, with reference to “all the violence and primitive laws in the Torah”. At such time, the answer is in place that Pinto gives: look how is dealt with it, that no longer exists in practice.

And if then someone says “But what about all the violence in Israel?” Then it is sufficient to let the Torah out because there are already enough ‘normal’ historical explanations for the tragic situation: two traumatized peoples colliding in the same region, an unequal balance of power, geopolitical interests.

But unfortunately – also for Pinto – we will also have to admit that unnecessary, additional hardening of the conflict is caused by a hard core of settlers who actually take their inspiration from the Torah.

Also see Moderate is abusive language