Reality Check

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

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

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

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

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 Feb. 8, 2006 / 10 Shevat, 5766

Cartoon jihad is not about hate censorship but the idiosyncratic dogma of one particular faith

By Jonathan Kay | In 2003, artist Dave Brown published a cartoon in Britain's Independent newspaper depicting Ariel Sharon eating a Palestinian baby. "What's wrong?" Sharon is saying. "You never seen a politician kissing babies before?"

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The cartoon provoked outrage for two reasons. First, it played on the debunked myth that Israel had massacred Palestinian civilians in Jenin the previous April. Secondly, it evoked the ancient libels against the Jews — the most famous being the claim that Jews use the blood of Gentile children to make their Passover Matzoh.

Yet Brown never felt compelled to go into hiding from Jewish mobs. Nor was he bashful about showing up when the Sharon image won Political Cartoon of the Year honors from Britain's Political Cartoon Society. His award was presented by a former Cabinet minister at the London headquarters of The Economist, with nary a protester in sight.

Later, Canadian filmmaker Martin Himel interviewed the Cartoon Society's director, Tim Benson, to find out what he thought of Brown's award-winning creation. The exchange is captured in Himel's 2004 documentary Jenin: Massacring Truth.

Himel: "Why, in all these [British cartoons], don't we see maybe [Yasser] Arafat eating babies?"

Benson: "Maybe Jews don't issue fatwas."

Himel: "What do you mean by that?"

Benson: "Well, if you upset an Islamic or Muslim group, as you know, fatwas can be issued by Ayatollahs and such-like. And maybe it's at the back of each cartoonist's mind that they could be in trouble if they do so."

A dozen cartoonists who published crude depictions of Muhammad in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten are now learning this the hard way. At rallies in Europe and the Middle East, protesters held signs that demanded that such infidels be variously "beheaded," "slain," "exterminated" and "massacred." So much for freedom of speech. Or, as one protester's sign put it: "Freedom of expression — go to hell."

That last one crystallizes the reason the Danish firestorm represents such a watershed in the clash of civilizations between the West and the Muslim world.

If the cartoons constituted garden-variety hate-speech, there would be no story. Political correctness is now as much a Western value as due process and representative democracy. In 1997, following a terrorist attack in Egypt, Gazette cartoonist Aislin published a cartoon showing a dog wearing an Arab headdress. The heading read, "In the name of Islamic Extremism ...," followed by the words "With our apologies to dogs everywhere." The Montreal newspaper quickly apologized to readers, and few even remember the incident. Such teapot tempests are old hat.

What makes the Jyllands-Posten controversy different is that it is not about hate censorship — which has broad approval across all religions — but about the idiosyncratic dogma of one particular faith.

As Haroon Siddiqui noted in the Toronto Star on Thursday, things began when a Danish author complained he could not get an artist to provide illustrations for an innocent children's book. The reason: Islam forbids pictorial depictions of Muhammad — or at least of his face — as risking idolatry. It doesn't matter whether the depiction is flattering or unflattering, peaceful or menacing. It is forbidden, period. That is what led an editor at Jyllands-Posten — in a misguided effort to uphold the principle of free speech — to commission the cartoons at issue.
All across Europe, the ingredients for a violent culture war are in place. American conservatives like to lampoon Europeans as touchy-feely lefties who will do anything to appease militant Islam. But in recent years, the continent has begun to fight back

I say misguided because the cartoons are crude, and not particularly clever. Had they been submitted for publication in the Post, or any other Canadian newspaper, they would have been rejected on that simple basis alone.

But in Europe, it's the lofty principle — not its vulgar implementation — that editors are now standing on. Which is why several other newspapers defied Muslim threats and republished the cartoons this past week. Their point is that the ban on depicting Muhammad is, from a secular perspective, arbitrary — like a fiat against showing a man's elbow. Or an avocado. Or the number eight. And if you give in to that, you're validating a quantum leap in political correctness that opens the door for extremists — of any religion — to enforce any no-go area they please.

All across Europe, the ingredients for a violent culture war are in place. American conservatives like to lampoon Europeans as touchy-feely lefties who will do anything to appease militant Islam. But in recent years, the continent has begun to fight back.

The French decision to ban the hijab from public schools in 2004 is the most famous example. But there are many others. From Jan. 1, 2006 onward, for instance, the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg has required immigrants to take a "conscience test." The questions include: "(13) What would you do if your daughter wants to marry a man of a different religion?", "(22) You have learned that a terrorist operation is under way. How would you act?", "(27) Some people think the Jews are responsible for many evil actions in the world and even believe that the Jews were behind the Sept. 11 attacks in New York. What do you think?", and, most pertinently to the current crisis, "(3) Some films, plays and books offend the religious sensitivities of people of different religions. In your opinion, what methods should be employed for the prevention of religious sensitivities from being hurt?"

As you run through the test's 30 questions, you realize how abundant and fundamental are the moral divisions between traditional Islam and secular Western society. Some pundits have written that Hamas's victory in last week's Palestinian election was a good thing, because it showed Israel what it's up against. The Danish affair may have the same effect on Europe.

Westerners tend to make triumphalist assumptions about their values. We assume that once traditional societies get a taste of free speech, female emancipation, capitalism and all the rest, they'll quickly cast off their patriarchal strictures and religious dogmas. That's proven true in most of the developing world — including East Asia, eastern Europe and Latin America. But the Muslim world is putting up a stronger fight. A lot of blood will be spilled before it's over. And some of it may belong to cartoonists.

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JWR contributor Jonathan Kay is Managing Editor, Comment of Toronto's National Post newspaper Comment by clicking here.

© 2006, Jonathan Kay