March 24, 2008

How Come We Never Hear About Jewish Extremism?

While reading an interesting post at Mike's Weekly Skeptic Rant, I had an interesting thought I'd like to share. The atheist blogosphere is filled with criticism for the Christian right, and Christian extremism is increasingly recognized as a pox on American society. So how come we almost never hear about Jewish extremism? I'm not just talking about the mainstream media here but about what you'll find on atheist blogs, including this one.

Frankly, Jewish extremism is something about which I devoted little thought. Maybe it is because I have never personally come in contact with a Jewish extremist. I have probably been more than casual acquaintances with no more than five Jewish people to this point in my life. Where I grew up, there simply was no Jewish presence. I met my first Jewish friend in college, and he was more atheist than religious extremist. Here in Mississippi, I work with a few Jewish individuals but once again, they are allies in church-state separation rather than extremists.

I realize that Jewish extremists exist. I watched CNN's God's Warriors series like many of you and saw the part on "Jewish Warriors." I've learned from the news that Israel has contributed its fair share to the conflict in the Middle East and is certainly not blameless for the long conflict in the region. I also recognize that at least some of U.S. policy in the Middle East is influenced by American Jews. Still, I've never bought into the Jewish conspiracy claims I've heard.

I've been criticized, mostly by Christians, for not devoting enough attention to Islamic extremists. I think some of this criticism is warranted even though I have tried to explain my rationale for focusing on Christian extremism. Interestingly, I don't recall ever being criticized for not addressing Jewish extremism more often.

What do you think? Why do we never hear about Jewish extremism, even in the atheist blogosphere?

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