We are told we live in a Judeo-Christian civilization, that the West has a Judeo-Christian heritage, a concept useful to a largely Christian empire where Jews play a powerful role, but one which is rejected by serious scholars, both Christian and Jewish. Talmudic scholar Jacob Neusner told Newsweek: "Theologically and historically, there is no such thing as the Judeo-Christian tradition. It's a secular myth favored by people who are not really believers themselves."
The concept was popularized in the 1940s as a reaction to Nazism and was used by the imperial elite in promoting anticommunism, and in Israel's conquest of Palestine, fashioned as a "clash of civilization" targeting Islam. Many of the founders of Israel (Ben Gurion and Begin) had been communists, and many American Jews in entertainment and intellectual life were communists and had to refashion themselves as anticommunists in the new age of US empire.
It became the foundation of the ideology of the “special relationship” between the US and the newly proclaimed Jewish state in 1948, and was integral to American politics by the 1960s. It was an inevitable result of Israel’s creation and its early need to make an unbreakable bond with the leading empire.
The special relationship grew naturally from its deep roots in American exceptionalism, the celebration of the arrival of the Puritans in the seventeenth century seeking their own Promised Land, oblivious to the American natives they would displace, and the immigration of 2 million eastern European Jewish immigrants in the late 19th–early 20th centuries.
The idea that European and American Jews wanted to ‘return’ to the original Promised Land of the Old Testament appeals to Americans both Jewish and non-Jewish. Israel became both the physical and spiritual embodiment recapitulating the sweep of western civilization. Hence, Christian Zionists, enthusiastic supporters of a colonial project in a non-colonial era, and Bush II’s “Crusade” to be waged against Muslim terrorists after 9/11, as coined in his White House press conference on September 16, 2001. This metaphor touched Christians subliminally. Most never though how insulting and disturbing it was to Muslims, how it was implicit in the widespread acceptance of a Judeo-Christian civilizational construct (even though many Jews were killed in the Crusades too).
On the surface, the special relationship has been fashioned as a subliminal bond between two ‘chosen peoples’, Israel a kind of little brother to America in the Middle East, watching over the local Arab regimes, and making sure the oil flowed.
The underlying special relationship, however, was the ‘embrace’ of the US state by the Zionists, both in the diaspora and now in situ in the Middle East. Israel needed to control US foreign policy, especially there, to further the Zionist goals, and to do whatever that required, be it fighting communism, providing arms to Iran or the Contras and drones to NATO troops in Afghanistan, conducting false-flag operations, or turning its Arab neighbors against the US.
The correct terminology would be Islamo-Christian vs Judaic civilizations, as there is a direct continuity between Christianity and Islam, which have more in common with each other than either has with Judaism. Richard Bulliet argues this in The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization (2006). Islam is the natural culmination of both Judaism and Christiantiy, and never persecuted Jews as did Christianity. Until recently 90% of Jews lived comfortably not with Christians in medieval Europe, but in northwest Africa and the Levant under Muslim rule.
The rise of the patriotic right in the US is a reaction to the ongoing decline of Christian values in postmodern multicultural society, where religion is secondary and can be used or ignored at will. This has been the result of 'Judeo-Christian' civilization, which is really just a euphemism for the ideology behind US imperialism. The Christian-Jewish allies governing the empire were not interested in promoting Christian moral values, substituting commerce and sex, and Christianity declined rapidly in the 20th century. The debate about transgender women (men dressing as women) demanding to use women's washrooms became a symbol of the trivilization of morality, now a matter of what each individual feels, rather than what is accepted as social standards to be observed.
The capitalist West promotes consumerism at all costs, colonizing minds and bodies, bringing with it trivialization of sex and dismissal of religious values of modesty, moral living and worship, values that lie at the heart of both Christianity and Islam. The post-WWII 'critical theorists', the 'Frankfurt School', identified hedonism as the problem, but had no answer. Marcuse's One Dimensional Man showed that "advanced industrial society" created false needs, integrating individuals into the existing system of production and consumption via mass media, advertising, industrial management, and contemporary modes of thought.
This results in a "one-dimensional" universe of thought and behaviour, in which aptitude and ability for critical thought and oppositional behaviour wither away. Against this prevailing climate, Marcuse promotes the "great refusal" as the only adequate opposition to all-encompassing methods of control. In other words: enjoy watching Rome as it burns. This translated into the continued corruption of Christian-based society. No thought was given to Islam as the answer.
Trump and Putin
The International Russian Conservative Forum in St Petersburg in 2015 brought together Europeans who are advocating this return to Christian values. It highlighted the issues that Trump harnessed to denounce what they called the degradation of white, Christian traditions in the West. The rise of the right in Europe is against same-sex marriage, abortion on demand, immigration, international finance, radical Islam and globalization, among other targets. Their champion is Russia and President Vladimir Putin, seen as a pillar of robust, conservative, even manly values.
Russia was isolated and pilloried under Obama, but is ready to make common cause with leftists, centrists, greens and any other potential allies critical of American domination and general social ills. Robert Fiore praised Russia as the vanguard of Europe’s future, a common theme among both Russian and foreign speakers at the Forum. “We are the avant-garde of a new Europe that will very soon emerge,” he said. “It will be a Christian Europe, a patriotic Europe, and Russia will not just be a part but a leading force.” This helps explain Trump's embrace of traditional values and his admiration of Putin. He is part of this movement of social and political renewal.
Christians and Muslims natural allies
Muslims are the natural allies of the cry of despair that elected Trump, though his lifestyle embodies this hedonism and he seems an unlikely ally. The common people sense that America is awash in crass materialism, and long for a renewal of Christian values, which are virtually identical to Muslim values: restraint, industry, worship, peace in foreign relations, respect for life.
This may sound odd, given the large plurality of Evangelical Christians, whose literal reading of the Bible puts them in league with Zionism, the crushing of Palestinians and the complete take-over of Palestine by the Jews. But these 'Christians' are like the al-Qaeda 'Muslims' and the Zionists themselves -- inauthentic to the principles underlying all three monetheistic faiths. Trump appealed to the Evangelicals during the election, but he is not one himself, having been raised a Presbyterian.
Most Muslims in the US supported the Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November 2016 presidential elections. Democrats made tolerance and respect for Islam a modest plank in their platform, but unashamedly pursue anti-Muslim policies abroad, and have no answers to America's moral decay. Both Clinton and Sanders called on the support of Muslims, included them at their rallies, in their advertising, and highlighted the contributions of Muslims to America as part of their campaigns. Yet this support was skin deep.
The burning issue for Muslims is the tragedy of Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan, targeting Muslims, which only gets worse under both Republicans and Democrats. Trump has called for an end to American intervention, even an end to NATO, so despite his bizarre call to end Muslim immigration, he actually addresses American Muslims' most pressing concern.
The November election saw American-Somali-Muslim, Ilhan Omar, elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives. Ilhan Omar is nominally a Democrat, but Minnesota has the DFL, the Democratic Farmer Labor Party, rather than the sold-out Democratic Party of Clinton. The election season also saw Khizr and Ghazala Khan, a Gold Star military Pakistani-American family who captured Muslims’ (and millions of Americans’) hearts with “Uncle” Khizr Khan’s strong and passionate speech at the Democratic National Convention. Khan honored his son, Humayun Khan, who lost his life in the line of duty in Iraq. This was an important moment: an honest question to the soon-to-be US present, calling on him to show his own civic duty, and to honour Muslim Americans.
Muslim Americans live in peace in their homeland. Their only agenda is to practice their faith and be good citizens. They have no ulterior agenda supporting a pariah state, as do many (most?) Jewish Americans. They do not approve of the culture of exploitation of women, pornography, violence, drugs, abortion on demand. They have not been seduced by the cult of consumerism. They can be Christians' best allies in the renewal of Islamo-Christian values.
Trump promised to end Muslim immigration, but Muslims already outnumber Jews in the population, and they are on the front line in the fight against terrorism. They have no dual loyalty, they are not spying or fighting for any foreign state. Muslim Americans have traditionally supported Democrats as more 'inclusive', but the Democratic Party failed them.
To help fashion a genuine renewal in America is the work of grassroots groups, local initiatives, whether in helping the poor, defending the environment or 'fighting' for a peaceful foreign policy. It is here that Muslims can make a difference, while showing the truth of Islamo-Christian civilization. Grassroots activists recognize that Muslims are their natural allies. There are millions of Americans who are now aware of the reality of anti-Muslim hatred, and can be easily convinced of their common cause with Muslims to renew a culture based on Christian, really Islamo-Christian values.
The two strands in the Trump phenomenon -- a renewal of morality, an end to foreign wars -- should be the focus of American (and Canadian) Muslims. We can find common cause with those who want to renew American along ethical, peaceful lines.
From Books of Interest
Connect with Eric Walberg
Eric's From Postmodernism to Postsecularism is available here
Eric's Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics
and the Great Games is available here
Eric's Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics
and the Great Games is available here
Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.
He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.