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Posted By Obadiah Shoher On July 3, 2012 @ 9:41 am In correspondence | No Comments

Intolerance can be active (hateful) or passive. Jewish religious intolerance is strictly passive. Jewish religious intolerance boils down to ”leave us alone on this tiny speck of the land we consider ours.” Jews do not embark on crusades, and religious people among us spread neither communism nor democracy. Lighthouses stand still; ships move. The light to nations—or, for that matter, the American beacon of liberty—is better left passive; let others admire and emulate it.

Judaism avoids secular matters. The Bible harshly criticizes monarchy, but then accepts it de facto and regulates it to make it tolerable. Slavery is implicitly opposed, but again accepted and regulated. Democracy is viewed with contempt—“Don’t follow the majority to evil”—but underlies the system of self-regulated communities. The law is divine, but open to interpretation by human judges. The Torah prescribes a free market with basic safeguards for the poor (mandatory charity), labor (treatment of slaves), and government appropriations (king’s rights). Truly religious Jews work hard and lean toward capitalism. Socialist Jews are universally secular. Judaism is the religion and ethics of conservative (Whig-type) liberalism.

Opposition to divergent views is not necessarily bad. The US initially practiced it in a very Jewish way with the Monroe doctrine: do whatever you like in the Old World, but don’t project your influence and values into the Western hemisphere. That passive opposition sufficed against moderately expansionist Europeans. Faced with extremely expansionist communism, Americans had to resort to a pro-active version of the Monroe doctrine, Kennan’s containment. Instead of passively defending the Western hemisphere, the US entered Korea and Vietnam to contain communism and prevent its otherwise certain attempt to expand into the New World. For the Nazi threat, passive defense was clearly insufficient, and the US chose to destroy the potential enemy before it attacked. In relatively peaceful times, passive defense of one’s sphere of influence suffices; probable danger calls for active defense or even preemption.

There are many examples of peaceful religious societies. There is no correlation between religion and militancy. Protestant-Catholic Germany fought Catholic France, which received help from Orthodox Russia and non-religious America. Muslims did not seriously fight for religious reasons from the end of jihad until our time. The non-religious Nazis and Soviets initiated some of the worst wars and atrocities. Sometimes conflicts are dressed in religious terms but have rational underpinnings.


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