Jewish World Review March 8, 2002 / 24 Adar, 5762
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com -- WE'VE heard about Pakistan's Islamist religious schools, or madrassas, where hundreds of thousands of Pakistani boys and young men have been indoctrinated in the hate-based teachings of radical Islam. A goodly chunk of the $600 million in economic aid the Bush administration has designated for Pakistan this year is for re-establishing that nation's school system, which both governments now recognize as having long been a state-sponsored, terrorist training ground.
But a radicalizing Islamic school system turns out not to be exclusive to any one country. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Netherlands is investigating 10 of the country's 32 state-sponsored Islamic elementary schools after a Dutch intelligence study found that many of these schools are funded "by what it called an intolerant Islamist foundation in Saudi Arabia and a society it said is controlled by Libyan intelligence." The intelligence report also says, "a number of the schools are run by boards with contacts to militant Islamic organizations such as Hamas."
The government insists it's not attacking Islamic education, but rather seeking to guarantee that Islamic schools, like other government-sponsored schools, "work toward the integration of minorities into Dutch society." (With a population of 16 million, the Netherlands is home to some 800,000 Muslims.) This rationale may say more about the politeness of the Dutch than the blamelessness of Islamic education, because the more we learn about Islamic schools, abroad and at home, the more at odds their all-too-often intolerant curricula seem to be with the tolerant societies in which they exist.
The Washington Post, for example, recently reported on a couple of Washington-area Islamic schools, including the Al-Qalam All-Girls School, where maps of the Middle East simply omit the state of Israel, and the Islamic Saudi Academy, where several students told a reporter "they are taught that it is better to shun and even to dislike Christians, Jews and Shiite Muslims." Some teachers "focus more on hatred," one teenager said. "They teach students that whatever is kuffar," or non-Muslim, "it is okay for you" to hurt or steal from such a person. A school text teaches that a sign of the Day of Judgment is "that Muslims will fight and kill Jews, who will hide behind trees that say: `Oh, Muslim, Oh servant of God, here is a Jew hiding behind me. Come here and kill him.'"
The Journal story about the Netherlands doesn't include so many gory details, just mentioning a Dutch grade school that showed its pupils "a Hamas videotape that referred to Jews in derogatory language." Gory enough. In the Netherlands -- the country, after all, of Anne Frank -- the government determined that such heinous indoctrination is not adequate preparation for life in the Dutch mainstream. Being a Western country -- that is, boundlessly tolerant and absolutely open -- this determination has provoked some controversy, with certain groups demanding that Catholic, Protestant and Jewish schools come under similar scrutiny. Such groups, of course, are the same ones who would demand strip searches for Granny to avoid "profiling" potential hijackers, and, as such, form a predictable part of the liberal landscape.
What is pleasingly unpredictable is that the Dutch government embarked on such an investigation in the first place. In a country known for the vigor and bloom of both its tulips and its moral relativism (think euthanasia and legalized drugs), it is astonishing indeed that tolerance and openness -- which, as critic Roger Kimball has noted, when "absolutized" lead to moral paralysis -- have finally hit the wall. Is it a passive virtue to tolerate aggressive intolerance? The Netherlands says no.
"I believe it is bad to prepare children for a society in which you have to hate people, in which you instigate hate," said Dutch Deputy Education Minister Karen Adelmund, describing those aspects of the Islamic curricula now under investigation. "That is, by the way, in complete violation of our constitution ... I hate that kind of education."
Hating the indoctrination of hate: What a good way to love your fellow
JWR contributor Diana West is a columnist and editorial writer for the Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.