The Trap of Mirror-Imaging: A Medievalist View on the Relationship of Global Jihad to Islam

May 7, 2015 Lexington 0

In January of 2015, the Western world got another wake-up call about global Jihad. Two men entered the offices of a satirical weekly in Paris and executed ten men and one Jewish woman for blasphemy. The uproar brought millions of people into the streets to protest. But, for a variety of reasons, it was not clear to Westerners just what forces lay behind the attack: in particular, Westerners have great difficulty perceiving and discussing the relationship of Jihadi terrorism to the rest of the growing Muslim community in the West.

The President’s “White House Summit on Countering Extremism,” which avoided any mention of Islam, illustrates the dilemmas involved. In some senses, we Westerners are ill-equipped to understand a form of religiosity that characterized medieval culture and has little to do with modern civil society. This talk seeks to explore the apocalyptic ideology of global Jihad, its relationship to both historical Islam and Muslim communities today, and what we as democratic Jews can do about it.

Richard Landes is a professor of history at Boston University. Trained as a medievalist, his early work focused on the period around 1000 CE, a moment, in his opinion, of both cultural mutation (origins of the modern West), and intense apocalyptic and millennial expectations. His most recent publications include Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of the Millennial Experience (Oxford U. Press, 2011), and The Paranoid Apocalypse: A Hundred-Year Retrospective on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (NYU Press, 2011). In 2005 he launched a media-oversight project called The Second Draft in order to look at what the news media calls their “first draft of history.” His opening dossier was Pallywood and the Muhammad al Durah Affair. Since January 2005 he has been blogging at The Augean Stables. In 2009, just after the publication of the Goldstone Report, he and other critics put up a website dedicated to Understanding the Goldstone Report. He and associates are trying to create an Institute for Cognitive War Research whose first project is to establish the Al Durah Project. He is currently writing two books, one on the Early Middle Ages: While God Tarried: Disappointed Millennialism from Jesus to the Peace of God, and one about the current situation, They’re so Smart because We’re so Stupid: A Medievalist’s Guide to 21st Century Cogwar.

There is no charge for this event. Sponsored by The Connie and George Noble Foundation and the Temple Isaiah Brotherhood.
The talk is being held at Temple Isaiah, 55 Lincoln St, Lexington, MA

Event Location: Temple Isaiah
55 Lincoln Street, Lexington, Massachusetts, 02421

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Thursday, May 7, 2015, 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Temple Isaiah of Lexington
55 Lincoln St
Lexington, MA 02421
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