In waging war against terrorism, it is vitally important to identify the sources from which the enemy is activated. It is not enough to capture and kill every terrorist fighter. If the organizations and institutions that generate the warfare remain intact, the problem will persist as other fanatics will fall prey to the noxious indoctrination.
The primary source of the worst forms of violent extremism is radical Islam. The criminals commit their crimes in the belief that they are fulfilling the will of their deity as revealed in their particular version of Islam. In order for the War Against Terrorism to be successful, it must eradicate the evil doctrines that propel it and put down those who preach them.
One of the most basic venues for the propagation of radical Islam is the mosque. In many of these “houses of worship,” the imams preach the ideology of jihad and incite their followers to murder, through fiery rhetoric and promises of eternal bliss in Paradise. This is a major problem in Israel, especially in the areas occupied by the Palestinians, where the mosques constantly demonize the Jews and urge the faithful to destroy Israel.
Contrary to the silly statements of Hillary Clinton and former President George Bush, America is engaged in a war against Islam. In one form or another, Islamic teachings are the inspiration for the various groups that engage in terrorism. This is not to say that all Islamic sects embrace the doctrines of destruction. There are many wonderful Muslims who affirm the classical religious values of peace, compassion and respect for the dignity of others. Of course, we have no quarrel with and actually embrace them.
However, the War Against Terrorism is a battle against those brands of Islam that idealize destruction of the “infidel.”
Therefore, the mosques that spew hatred and incitement must be deprived of religious rights and shut down. In addition, the preaching of violence must be criminalized and severely punished. The inciting clerics are a party to the murders they inspire and must be treated in kind.
What about America? We treasure freedom of religion and grant privileges and tax exemptions to legitimate denominations. The question has arisen whether American mosques should be scrutinized to determine whether they are encouraging or promoting terrorist activity. Many blanch at this suggestion and claim it would seriously compromise the free practice of religion. Undoubtedly, it would.
However, we vehemently reject the right of religion to advocate murder in the name of G-d. Donald Trump has drawn fire for saying he would seriously consider the possibility of closing mosques that are guilty of incitement. I fully support his position. We must gain access to what is being disseminated in mosques. If religious institutions are being used to encourage criminal activities, they must be put out of business.
This is not an anti-Muslim position. If, Heaven forbid, there were a sect of Judaism that agitated for violence as a religious imperative and used the pulpit to incite its members, I would advocate government surveillance of any such suspected synagogues and their closure, if found guilty. It was never anticipated that the church, mosque or synagogue would become a source for the indoctrination of hatred and violence. Yet, this has happened. A watch must be kept on criminal clergy who mask their murderous propaganda behind the garb of religion.
Rabbi Reuven Mann is the spiritual leader of Congregation Torat Emet.