Acton Institute Powerblog

Weigel on Jihad II

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Having been informed that my evaluation of George Weigel’s new book was posted a few days before it went on sale, I gladly give notice once more, this time with a link to Amazon. Well worth a look.

Kevin Schmiesing Kevin Schmiesing, Ph.D., is a research fellow for the research department at the Acton Institute. He is a frequent writer on Catholic social thought and economics, is the author of American Catholic Intellectuals, 1895-1955 (Edwin Mellen Press, 2002) and is most recently the author of Within the Market Strife: American Catholic Economic Thought from Rerum Novarum to Vatican II (Lexington Books, 2004). Dr. Schmiesing holds a Ph.D. in American history from the University of Pennsylvania, and a B.A. in history from Franciscan University ofSteubenville. Author of Within the Market Strife and American Catholic Intellectuals, 1895—1955 (2002), he serves as Book Review Editor for the Journal of Markets & Morality. He is also executive director of


  • W.

    Thanks for re-posting.

    I think this is an important book and I hope that many will not be turned away because Weigel is grouped with certain “neo-cons.”

    I do wonder about some statements in the book.

    On page 57, he says that “Jihadists do not hate the West because of Israel, they hate Israel because it is part of the West…” and then on page 61 he recognizes the “pathological anti-Semitism that infects too much of the Islamic world.”

    The first statement is more problematic if I understand him correctly.

    Jihadists hate Israel because it is part of the West? Then if the Jews were not part of “the West,” they would not be hated.

    There seems to be a stronger, more foundational, and more visceral reason for hating the Jews and perhaps this is what he was referring to in his later comment. I just thought the section on Israel (p. 57-58) would be the one to address Jihadists’ hatred of Jews and their unwillingness to accept a [i]Jewish[/i] state of Israel.

    It seems that Jihadists hate Israel for reasons much more ethnic and religious than that they are part of the West.

    Do you have any thoughts on this?

  • Kevin

    I think you are correct and Weigel probably could have been clearer about this point. But he is trying to make a different point that is also correct. Yes, jihadists would hate Jews wherever and however they find them, as part of the West or not. The particular view Weigel is criticizing in that section is the belief that abandoning Israel will “solve” the jihadist problem. Weigel’s claim is that, even if Israel–or all Jews everywhere–were to disappear tomorrow, jihadist violence would not cease. The jihadist ideology dictates victory against a bundle of ideas (which Weigel is calling “Western”), such as religious freedom and democratic capitalism. As such, jihadists will not stop until a) they are destroyed or converted out of their ideology, or b) we, meaning those who subscribe to these “Western” ideas, are eliminated or submit to jihadist ideology. Weigel wants to distinguish between this jihadist movement and the broader Islamic world, which is also “too much” infected by anti-Semitism but nonetheless need not be implicated in the “war against jihadism.”