Monday, May 29, 2006 - The Dallas Morning News
What part of Germany's flirtation with evil do the Saudis still not get? The part about Jews being treated like pariahs? The part about German churches looking the other way when Hitler rose? The part about allowing hatred to bloom?
You have to wonder, given a new Freedom House report. It shows that some Saudi textbooks used in schools and Sunday schools in the United States, Europe and elsewhere continue to promote a dangerous religious isolationism. Try this from an eighth-grade text the Freedom House reported on:
"The Jews are apes, the people of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christians, the infidels of the communion of Jesus."
And this from a 12th-grade text:
"Jihad in the path of God – which consists of battling against unbelief, oppression, injustice, and those who perpetrate it – is the summit of Islam."
There you have it. No middle ground there. No wonder jihadists take up arms, if this is what they learn. The hatred spews straight out of Wahhabism, a peculiar brand of radical Islam that took hold in the desert kingdom centuries ago. Even after 9/11, when Wahhabi-influenced Saudis rained down destruction upon supposed infidels in America, the Saudi government still gives venomous Wahhabi teachers and clerics too much latitude.
"Too much" is the operative term here. It isn't that Saudi leaders haven't tried to improve their school system. "King Abdullah has retrained teachers and wants to get this out of textbooks," former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia Robert Jordan told this page.
But why these textbooks can't be eradicated faster isn't completely clear. There could be a bureaucratic holdup down the line; pockets of resistance could slow things down. The Saudi family faces a political dance of sorts. If it cracks down too hard on the Wahhabis, the radicals could revolt and cause even greater instability in the Persian Gulf.
One thing's clear. This Freedom House report comes five years after the Saudis started getting the message that the West will not tolerate religious violence. For Americans' good, as well as for the Saudis' benefit, the Bush administration ought to push this point harder. Saudi Arabia clearly hasn't learned nearly enough from recent history.