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Prof. Mordechai Kedar: 'A Ball of Fire'

Jews in Brooklyn, New York last Sabbath met Israeli Middle Eastern expert Dr. Mordechai Kedar, and called him a "ball of fire."
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 1/12/2012, 12:39 PM

Jews in the upscale New York neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights were treated last weekend to an unvarnished reality check on Israel-Arab relations and Middle Eastern affairs, and how those relate to Israel's security, by IDF Lt.Col. (res) Dr. Mordechai Kedar.

The Israeli scholar of Arabic literature and a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University spoke last Sabbath to a packed Orthodox Jewish synagogue at Congregation Bnei Avraham, led by Rabbi Aaron Raski in the upscale Brooklyn Heights neighborhood.

Kedar "looks quiet," commented Raskin, "but underneath burns a ball of fire."

Noted for his fluency in Arabic language, culture and history, Kedar's ability to respond instantly to questions from Arab journalists is legendary in Israel -- and among many Arab nations as well. He has been interviewed numerous times on the pan-Arab satellite television Aljazeera network, with at least one particular interview having gone viral after delivering a biting response to the journalist in which he asserted bluntly that "Jerusalem is not anywhere to be found in the Koran," and has belonged to Jews for at least 3,000 years.

In discussing the Arab Israeli conflict with an American audience unschooled in Arab culture, Kedar explained to the congregants that the first task was to understand how Arabs look at Jews -- and then to look at how Arabs view peace.

Kedar then explained the place of Jews in Islam, and the Islamic view of peace, noting that the definition is dependent on one's identity.

"In the year 628, Mohammed took his army and went to conquer Mecca," Kedar told the congregants, according to Rabbi Aaron Raskin. "He could not conquer it as they had a larger army, so he made a temporary peace with the people of Mecca for 9 years, 9 months and 9 days. As soon as the Meccans saw there was peace, they rested their army and went about their business, never expecting that two years later -- in 630 -- Mohammed would take his army, invade the city, slaughter the population and convert it to Islam. As such, Dr. Kedar explained, this is the sort of peace sanctioned by the Koran for non-believers -- including the Jews.

"The implication is clear," concluded the rabbi. "Israel's continuing a farce of a treacherous peace can never work... Someone asked the real question later in the day: If this is the sort of peace that Muslims have in mind, how can it be that Israel continues to make treaties and give away land?"