Book by Philip Smucker Amherst, 364 pp., reviewed by Raymond Ibrahim
My Brother, My Enemy, being true to its namesake, takes a fraternal, even emotional, approach to understanding the conflict between the United States and the Muslim world, based on the author's travels and interviews in the Middle East.
While Smucker, a foreign journalist for publications including U.S. News and World Report and Time, appears sincere in his search for peaceful solutions, he is ultimately too ideologically driven for this book to have much value. All the classic leftist bromides are here: The notion that an "Islamo-fascist" movement is "a mirage, a false specter created out of our own fears"; with proper cooperation, Hamas might "morph into something far more peaceful in the future"; a two-state solution will not only solve the Arab-Israeli conflict, it will destroy al-Qaeda and radicalism; Fort Hood killer Nidel Hasan is misunderstood and was primarily motivated by a sense of moral outrage.
Smucker's biases are sometimes more subtle: In a paragraph describing the worship of Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Jerusalem, the last are portrayed straightforwardly while less-than-dignified depictions are reserved for Christian pilgrims "huffing and perspiring fanatically" and Jews who "bob up and down" at the Western Wall. The author's apologies for Islam lead him amateurishly to quote and comment on the Qur'an and Islamic history, portraying, for instance, Muslim-dominated Spain in the medieval era as nearly as tolerant as modern-day America.
Smucker appears to be motivated by noble sentiments: "Indeed, my work on My Brother, My Enemy has reaffirmed a basic principle I always knew to be true: 'Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great and you will be sons of the most high' [Luke 6:35]." While such counsel may be noble for an individual's conscience, it is disastrous as state policy.
In the end, Smucker's "brotherly" advice is being preached to the wrong audience. Much of the Muslim world scoffs at the notion that the infidel is a "brother" and sees him only as a misguided enemy. Surely it is in greater need of such advice than the West.
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