Get Out of Our Lives, Fanatics

It's not nice to insult their prophet, Mohammed, but what hasn't the free world done to its own prophets, what haven't we done to our own prophets?

I would like to see this article as a type of Israeli contribution to the struggle for freedom of expression that is now taking place all over Europe.

The fanatics of the world have united, and the soul is already tired of these fundamentalists, wherever they are, whether there or here. They interfere in our lives and embitter them, the fanatics, and woe betide us if we show signs of fear or weakness. They will not rest or give up until they cause paralysis, and until they run our lives according to their ideas.

None of us can or wants to be responsible for all the members of his nation and his religion. We are not responsible for being emissaries, but we will not flee from the responsibility of telling it like it is, out loud, rather than whispering in the corridors.

We will say it aloud to the religious female settler who didn't identify herself by name, when she was interviewed by Uri Goldstein on Channel 1. She told Goldstein - I swear this is the truth - that "the Nazis were more elegant than the policemen in Amona, because the Nazis at least didn't beat Jews with truncheons." Oh, settler, what do we have in common with you? Get up and leave, and may the devil take you.

And in the same loud and clear voice, we will turn to the fanatic Muslims, from Gaza to Jakarta, the life-long partners and fellow travelers of that settler and her spiritual mentors, and say: Get out of our lives, too. The soul is not only tired, it has become strained by your threats and your harassment.

A great Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, published cartoons of the prophet Mohammed in September, and the Muslim world is all aboil. After threats to the editors and employees of the newspaper were heard from all directions, many newspapers in Europe, both on the right and on the left, decided to publish the same cartoons, as a sign of identification with the Danes and with their battle for freedom of expression. Since last week, the French and the Germans and the Norwegians and the Italians and the Spanish and the Dutch and the Swiss are no longer immune, either - they are all in mortal danger from now on.

Fundamentalist-type threats are usually not baseless: Just as they threatened Yitzhak Rabin with murder and murdered him, the Ayatollah Khomeini in his time threatened author Salman Rushdie, who was saved from assassination only by a miracle. And two years ago, a Dutch film director, Theo Van Gogh, was murdered for the crime of his film "Submission," which condemned violence against women in Muslim societies.

I don't like the cartoons in Jyllands-Posten; it's a matter of taste. But I very much like the newspaper's fight for its right to publish them, and that is no longer a matter of taste, but a world view: Mohammed is not sacred and Moses is not sacred and Jesus is not sacred; only the lives of human beings, believers and secular people alike, are sacred.

Freedom of expression is reserved both for the insulters and the insulted. And if the insult is too great to bear, the courts are always open to hear the bitter complaint - and to accept or reject it. Censure after the fact for hurting people's feelings is accepted by civilized people, but definitely not censorship in advance, and certainly not by means of the rabble.

And who are all the fanatics who were so deeply insulted? The Syrians and the Iranians and the Saudis and the Libyans and Hezbollah, who have already protested strenuously, have fomented violent riots and imposed boycotts. They are demanding an immediate apology from European governments, as though in civilized nations government leaders are also the editors of the newspapers, as is common in this region.

An ironic twist: A moment before I became excited about the Syrian, Iranian, Saudi and Libyan uprisings, I recalled the films produced in these sensitive countries, which were based on the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion." When rabbis were seen there slaughtering Arab children, the imams remained silent; they didn't even whisper as their responsibility should have dictated.

It's not nice to insult their prophet, Mohammed, but what hasn't the free world done to its own prophets, what haven't we done to our own prophets? Last week, the French newspaper France Soire published a cartoon that depicts the gods of the Jews and the Christians and the Muslims and the Buddhists sitting on a cloud. And the God of the Christians is seen saying: "Don't complain, Mohammed. We have all been victims of cartoons before you." And our patriarchs, Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and our four matriarchs, and judges and kings and prophets, early and late, will also testify to the abuse that they have suffered in our research studies, our books and our articles. Not only prophets and priests. God himself has not had an easy time with us. And the heretics among us have even cast doubt on his very existence - God forbid - and especially after the Holocaust, which the Nazis imposed on us. The Nazis who in the eyes of certain settlers were more "elegant" than Israel's policemen. No, we have no more sympathy for the lunatic Muslims than we have for Jews suffering from a similar phenomenon, and vice versa.

Both will probably continue to go crazy. And we, the free people, must remember: If newspapers have to be edited according to the "Shulhan Arukh" (code of law) of every faith and religion, we won't even find newspapers worthy of their name in which to wrap herring.