January 18, 2007
Fated to Meddle
(Page 2 - Previous Page)"He had it about right," Oren said.
And one more thing. I pointed out to Oren that after reading his book, it struck me that one massive black hole in American understanding of the Middle East is our lack of knowledge, or even of curiosity, about Islam, the dominant religion in that world.
"It's astonishing," he said. "President John Quincy Adams wrote a 40-page screed against Islam, and he had never met a Muslim in his life."
Oren recalled the American media's coverage of the sweeping Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections. The reporting focused solely on what possible negative conditions could lead otherwise normal Palestinians to vote for an Islamic party.
"The message was that only people who are driven by corruption or poverty or American perfidy would be drawn to Islam," Oren said. "They don't understand that it could have a positive and relevant message."
So, here's another New Year's resolution. Seek out a class on Islam, like the one professor Reuven Firestone -- for my money one of the most lucid explicators of Islam -- will be teaching at Temple Beth Am beginning Feb. 6.
And for every hour spent gloriously transfixed by "24," spend a few minutes, at least, reading "Power, Faith and Fantasy."
Michael Oren will speak at the L.A. Central Library Feb. 12.
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