In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

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Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

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April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review March 1, 2005 / 20 Adar I, 5765

In Hindsight, the War on Terror Began with Salman Rushdie

By Jonathan Rauch

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | For most Americans, February 14 was Valentine's Day, the most insipid holiday on the calendar. The date deserves to be better known for another reason. On February 14, 1989, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader and revolutionary dictator of Iran, pronounced a fatwa (an Islamic legal judgment) against the British novelist Salman Rushdie. It said:

"In the name of Him, the Highest. There is only one G-d, to whom we shall all return. I inform all zealous Muslims of the world that the author of the book entitled The Satanic Verses — which has been compiled, printed, and published in opposition to Islam, the Prophet, and the Koran — and all those involved in its publication that were aware of its content are sentenced to death.

"I call on all zealous Muslims to execute them quickly, wherever they may be found, so that no one else will dare to insult the Muslim sanctities. G-d willing, whoever is killed on this path is a martyr."

At that moment, as Daniel Pipes writes in his invaluable 1990 book, The Rushdie Affair: The Novel, the Ayatollah, and the West, Rushdie was attending a book party in London. Soon after, a car provided by British security services whisked him underground, where he remained, hiding, for years. An Iranian charity placed a bounty of $1 million (later increased) on his head.

The uproar had begun a few months earlier with protests and riots against the novel in Britain, India, and Pakistan (where the American Cultural Center was assaulted by a mob). Khomeini's edict was followed by a diplomatic commotion that lasted about a month. On June 3, 1989, Khomeini died. After that, the uproar quieted and the issue receded. The edict was irrevocable after Khomeini's death, and indeed many Islamists reaffirmed it, but in 1998, Iran's foreign minister promised his British counterpart that the Iranian government would do nothing to implement it. Rushdie emerged to live semi-publicly in New York City.

Most Americans quickly forgot the whole ugly business. The affair seemed a historical curiosity, one of those flare-ups that leave few traces. At the time, all but a few Western intellectuals saw it as a free-speech case. Rushdie's tormentors appeared to be a particularly overzealous, but not otherwise exceptional, offended group.

Well, the episode was a free-speech case, and Rushdie's tormentors were offended, but the incident deserves reappraisal with hindsight's benefit. "Looked at in the larger sense," says Pipes, now the director of the Middle East Forum, a think tank in Philadelphia, "it was an act of aggression by the Islamists, an opening salvo in a war to which [Osama] bin Laden and many others have since acceded." More specifically, it represented the emergence of Islamist totalitarianism — not a religion but a political movement, demanding absolutist rule under Islamic law — as a global insurrection using terrorism as its instrument.

The Rushdie affair baffled many Westerners, who wondered how such rage and violence could be caused by a novel — by no means the most inflammatory book written about Islam. The 1989 explosion did not fit the ordinary Western template for international conflict. No national policies or state interests were at stake. Nor, really, was Rushdie's book itself the prime mover in the affair; another book, or a film or a speech or anything, might have done just as well.

With post-9/11 hindsight, it is clearer that the conflict was between political ideologies, not policies or states. Khomeini and his supporters believed that their societies and culture could not coexist with the garbage they felt was spewing forth from the West. As Khomeini had said in a 1979 interview with an Italian journalist, "We are not afraid of your science and of your technology. We are afraid of your ideas and of your customs. Which means that we fear you politically and socially."

The outburst was no mere howl of inchoate rage, as I and others assumed at the time. Some protesters, no doubt, were moved by generalized anger; but Islamist opinion leaders, and many of the protesters, were expressing a distinctively anti-modern ideology, in which the book's role was chiefly symbolic and catalytic. "The aim is to weaken the Islamic faith among Muslims," said Radio Tehran, "thereby secularizing Muslim societies." Rushdie's book was "only a link in the chain of the new anti-Islamic cultural ploys."

The fantasy that made Rushdie the agent of a Western plot was paranoid, but the appreciation of theocracy's fundamental incompatibility with liberalism was quite sane. Tehran, it turned out, understood the stakes better than Washington and London did.

There had been confrontations between Islamism and the West before, most notably the Iranian revolution itself. What set the Rushdie affair apart was the genuinely global character of the crisis. It sparked riots in Muslim countries, but also mass protests in Britain, bookstore attacks in California, and assassinations or attempted assassinations in Belgium, Italy, Japan, and Norway. (At least 22 people, including Rushdie's Japanese translator, were killed as a consequence of the Rushdie affair.) This militance, it should have been plain, was no isolated Iranian whim. Khomeini spoke for a global constituency of millions, some of whom were prepared to kill for the cause.

Khomeini was the head of Iran's government, but in the Rushdie affair he acted in a different capacity, that of the leader of a worldwide revolutionary movement. While the West still thought in terms of state actors, Khomeini operated both above and below the state level. "Like other leaders with a revolutionary message," wrote Pipes in his book, "he despised state boundaries." The paramount goal "was and is to get Muslims to live fully in accordance with the sacred law of Islam, the sharia."

To that end, Khomeini mobilized the tactics of terrorism: the valorization of suicide ("martyrdom"); the designation of civilians as combatants; the choice of a highly visible and symbolic target; the use of nongovernmental and civilian agents; perhaps above all, the capacity and determination to strike in cities and towns in the very heart of the West. The message to Westerners, not only to Rushdie, was: You are safe nowhere.

To have expected anyone to see all of this in 1989 would have been asking too much. Pipes, writing in 1990, concluded: "The global fear of early 1989 is not likely to be soon repeated.... No other leader [than Khomeini] challenged the existing order in so profound a way or had a vision of the just society that differed so fundamentally from the prevailing models." That was true in 1990. But it was not true for long.

Osama bin Laden is a very different creature from Khomeini, and the scale of 9/11 obviously dwarfs the Rushdie affair. But it is not outlandish to think of the World Trade Center towers as The Satanic Verses, magnified immeasurably but not beyond all recognition. Bin Laden is Khomeini's heir, and Rushdie and 9/11 are points on the same line. (Another point was November's murder of Theo van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker, by an Islamist who promised that America, Europe, and Holland "will be destroyed.")

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Khomeini's torch passed to bin Laden, and if bin Laden is captured or killed, the torch will pass again. The adversary is a movement, not a man. A poll conducted last year by the Pew Global Attitudes Project found that bin Laden got favorable ratings from 65 percent of respondents in Pakistan, 55 percent in Jordan, and 45 percent in Morocco (against ratings of 8 percent or lower for President Bush). In 2003, another Pew poll found that "majorities of Muslims, in 10 of the 12 nations in which this question was asked, reject the idea that Islam should tolerate diverse interpretations of its teachings."

Pew cautioned, "This question is not a measure of Islamic fundamentalism or tolerance toward other religions and faiths." Maybe not. By a long shot, most Muslims are not Islamists, and most Islamists are not terrorists. Nonetheless, the Rushdie affair was, in retrospect, no flash in the pan. It was a prairie fire. On that February 14, what Americans now call the war on terror began in earnest.

In January, the Iranian media reported that Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, reaffirmed the fatwa, telling Muslim pilgrims that Rushdie's killing would be authorized by Islam. British officials, reported The Times of London, "anxiously played down" the comments, noting that the Iranian government had not changed its position.

Just so. Khamenei spoke not for a government but for an insurgency, one with millions of followers around the world. The West could not have understood that in 1989, but it cannot fail to understand it today.

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JWR contributor Jonathan Rauch is a senior writer and columnist for National Journal. Comment by clicking here.

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