July 28, 2007
Summer reading—Goldberg’s ‘Prisoners’
After serving at the Ketziot prison, Goldberg returned to Israel and the Palestinian territories to start talking with some of his former prisoners. One in particular, Rafiq Hijazi, now a professor in UAE, has captured Goldberg’s imagination: He is convinced the two can become friends, an act with symbolic meaning for the solution to that seemingly eternal crisis in Israel.
The back of the book comes with praise from far greater journalists than me, so I’ll just say it’s worth your while to pick up a copy. For an Israel ignoramus like myself, the book really helps you understand the landscape and the latent ideologies manifesting themselves in suicide bombings and the difficulty of discussing peace when two people want such divergent things.
The book is, in parts, disturbing, such as when Goldberg interviews Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a founder of Hamas:
A resounding theme is the difficulty of working toward compromise when fundamentalism is at work. History is rarely right; the Quran always is, Goldberg learns.
Clearly, this fundamentalism, which UCLA law professor Khaled Abou El Fadl told me comes not from true Islamic scholars but politically motivated clerics, is becoming more prevalent in Muslim countries and Europe. It’s the reason Bernard Lewis has said, “Bring them freedom or they destroy us.”
But can Western ideals and Islamic fundamentalism live side-by-side? Or are American Muslims pushed to act in a way that is haram by living in a free society?