Rabbi Stein second from left
For those of you not familiar with Wafa Sultan, she is a courageous Muslim woman, psychologist and a native of Syria, and an outspoken critic of Islam and the treatment of women under this religion. She has voiced her opinions on Arab TV, and this led to threats on her life. A search on YouTube will allow you to see the interviews. Here is one on al-Jazeera, where she debated a cleric.
As if she has not gotten enough grief from her coreligionists, now she was attacked by Rabbi Stephen Julius Stein from the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles. In an article published in the LA Times, Stein attacked Ms. Sultan for her comments on Islam. His vitriol is interesting because it not only shows a degree of ignorance on Stein's part on both the subject of Islam and to a large extent Judaism, but also because of his involvement in a debate that does not pertain to him or the Jewish community. The debate about the need to reform Islam, is one that should be conducted among Muslims, without the interference of busybodies such as Stein. But then, if he was not a busybody, then he would not be a lefty liberal, and this posting would be superfluous.
Since Ms. Sultan is by far more capable of defending herself than I am, here is her response to the scurrilous attack:
Obstacles in Liberating Islam
by Wafa Sultan
As an Arab woman who suffered for three decades living under Islamic Sharia,it is clear to me that Islam’s political ideology and Sharia must be fought relentlessly by Western civilization to prevent its application in a free society.
However, I have found myself fighting on two fronts. The first front is against Islamists, a daunting fight indeed. But the other front is one shaped by too many uninformed individuals who like to view themselves as open minded “progressives”. They seem to somehow claim superiority on compassion, on peace, on open-mindedness and on appreciation of other cultures. Regarding themselves as tolerant, free thinking individuals, they avoid questioning Muslims’ harmful intentions. They restrict themselves to self-criticism, and make politically-correct excuses for Islamism.Regrettably, they show their indisputable acceptance of ‘others’ at the expense of the public’s responsibility to learn the truth about Islam’s detrimental tenets.
It is crucial for these so called “progressives” to realize that Islam is indeed based on an anti-liberal system. They need to awaken to the inhumane policies and practices of Islamists around the world. They need to realize that Islamism oppose the liberal values they cherish. And equally important,they must not take for granted the respect for human rights and dignity that we experience in America, and in the West, today.
For me, confronting those who adhere to multicultural relativism is a most painful battle. Their standpoint makes the efforts of Muslim reformers more challenging. When Westerners make politically-correct excuses for Islamism, it actually suppresses and weakens my voice and that of others who are in this fight.
Simply put, too many individuals, and institutions stand in the way of overcoming Islamic political ideology. With their appeasing approach they obstruct the pressing effort to modernize Islam.
When I first immigrated to the US, I learned to my dismay that Islam has been labeled by many as “a religion of peace.” But for me, as a Syrian who grew up in Islamic country, a set of beliefs that insists that women are wicked is an evil set of belief. A pious ideology - - that obliges non Muslims to live as subjects under it as unequal - - is an immoral pious ideology.
Regrettably, we frequently experience politically correct harsh responses to criticism of Islam by those who admonish liberated Muslims or Arabs. They often use clichés such as, “There are violent stories in all religions texts,” or “How can we bulk all Muslims into one group?” Or, “Among Christians and Jews there are also zealots who have done horrible things to others.” All of these excuses are made without considering critical Islamic doctrines which play detrimental role in Islam’s march towards Western decline.
Two years ago Rabbi Stephen Julius Stein published an article in the Los Angeles Times criticizing me in an unjust manner. Recently Rabbi’s Stein article came back to life when an Arab man who happens to follow my writings translated the Rabbi’s article into Arabic and published it in an Arabic website under the title “A Jewish Rabbi scandalizes Wafa Sultan”.
Among other claims, Mr. Stein mentioned that he could not imagine a “Jewish woman standing among a group of Muslims and criticizing Judaism the same
way Wafa Sultan criticizes Islam”.
Is Mr. Stein lacking basic knowledge about Islam and demonstrating duplicity in regard to his own Jewish religion?
Here are few hypothetic scenarios:
If a group of fanatic Jews beheaded an innocent Muslim, justifying their gruesome act as permissible according to Jewish texts, is there any doubt that countless of Jewish women would publicly criticize the tenets of Judaism that permit these outrageous creeds?
Had Jewish women been relegated to the status of animals as a result of their religious teachings, would one doubt Rabbi Stein’s obvious support for Jewish women rebelling against their own traditions?
Recently, a well known Egyptian female lawyer called on national Arabic TV,to incite young Palestinian men to harass and rape Israeli women as part of their war against Israel (you can view her clip on MEMRI.org).
Had an Israeli lawyer declared publicly on a National Israeli TV the same type of incitement against Arabs, would Rabbi Stein object to Jewish women’s unequivocal rejection of this hateful provocation?
Also, I am quite amazed at Rabbi Stein’s ignorance of the intrinsic nature of Islamic anti-Semitism. One would assume that his obligation as a teacher and a leader of his Jewish community is to educate and protect his people.Unfortunately, his criticism only weakens Jews, and further strengthens Muslim anti-Semitism. (Please read Dr. Andrew Bostom new book; “The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism.”)
One Islamic concept in particular is called in Arabic “Al Taqyya.” It allows and encourages Muslims to lie and deceive others in order to reach their ultimate objective which is submitting the world to Islam under Sharia Law.To be sure, Islamists who follow the political ideology of subverting non Muslims under Islam do use the concept of Al Taqyyaa.
Hence, a destructive relationship is created: on one hand, Islamists lie to the gullible non - Muslims and on the other hand, many non Muslims, in particular proponents of interfaith dialogue accept their lies and avoid asking harsh and necessary questions to expose their dangerous intentions. In that context, the Muslims’ Al Taqyyaa and the West’s naiveté and ignorance about the true intentions of Islamists are both harmful models of engagement.
Further, they both violate our right to know the truth, regardless of how evil or unintentional each side’s objective is. Thus, Al Taqyyaa and political correctness are recipes for irreversible damage to the values of freedom and liberty, which are the foundation of our US constitution and other Western liberal democracies.
Rabbi Stein is one in a group of countless others who practice political correctness to avoid hurting those he claimed to be “his Muslim friends,” as he mentions in his article.
People who avoid facing the gloomy facts regarding Islam, have no moral authority to admonish liberated Arabs like me. Those who cannot confront Islamic doctrine boldly and will not allow themselves to question openly dreadful components of Islam are on the wrong side of this conflict.
I have often been asked to soften and compromise my message. I refuse to do so. I believe the way to solve this Islamic predicament is to highlight and confront it in a most truthful and subsequently painful manner. As we all would agree, at times, an acute disease must be treated aggressively rather than with a benign medicine like Aspirin.
Lastly, I will carry on my mission because I love Muslims. I dream of a future when all Muslims, especially from the Middle East, who yearn for better life outside their suppressive environment, can savor the taste of the freedom we all experience here in the US. This is not just Dr. King’s dream; this is a dream that should be granted to all humanity - including those in the Muslim world.