Thanks to the Internet, never before in human history can a person with the most modest of resources access such massive amounts of information so quickly. With the ability to read a near infinite number of online newspapers, magazines, scholarly journals, blogs and book reviews, all one needs is a basic understanding of English, a cheap computer and an Internet connection to command this massive virtual library. Ironically, while having all this information at our fingertips, a sizeable and ever-expanding population of individuals use the Internet not to explore the diverse beliefs and opinions of others but to validate and reinforce those of their own. Enclosed within the confines of our prejudices and deeply held beliefs, intellectually speaking we use the unprecedented power of the Internet to bolster and not explore.
That brings me to Kenneth Timmerman’s 2003 book Preachers of Hate: Islam and the War on America. With some of Timmerman’s other books being Shakedown: Exposing the Real Jesse Jackson, The French Betrayal of America and Shadow Warriors: The Untold Story of Traitors, Saboteurs and the Party of Surrender, there’s a good chance Mr. Timmerman and I probably don’t see eye to eye on some political issues. But that’s exactly why I chose to grab his book from the public library and write about it on my blog. I want to read something from a perspective different from my own.
While it might be titled Preacher of Hate, Timmerman, a former Middle East correspondent and U.S. Republican candidate turned conservative pundit and investigative reporter, has crafted the book into a damning indictment of contemporary anti-Semitism, which in Timmerman’s opinion masquerades as anti-Zionism. Based on the author’s interviews throughout the Middle East and Europe as well as his interpretation of source material including Friday sermons, speeches and manifestos (some of which borrow extensively from the blatantly anti-Semitic Protocols of the Elders of Zion, as well as from some of the more unsavory passages in the Koran), Timmerman feels much of today’s antagonism towards Israel and Jews in general is not so much a result of Israel’s foreign policy decisions and its treatment of the Palestinians but rooted in deep-seated anti-Semitism. For many, this is a controversial and delicate topic of discussion and Timmerman jumps into the debate feet first with little hesitation. While he does so with passion and at times with bias, fortunately for the most part he does so without excessive vitriol and hate. And for good, bad otherwise he raises more than a few valid points. To his credit, Timmerman’s book feels well-researched and is extensively footnoted, but with more than a few of his cited works coming from the “Fox News” camp I’m left wondering just how many of his selected sources, in my opinion anyway, are trustworthy. Naturally, since it was published in 2003 some world events have overtaken the scope of Timmerman’s book, but overall it does seem to retain a good deal of relevancy. Thankfully, despite the book’s shortcomings I found it surprisingly readable and far from dry.
In the future, I hope to continue spotlighting other books from differing political and religious viewpoints. In doing so, I hope to widen my appreciation a larger world. Who knows, maybe, ultimately isn’t that what reading and blogging should be all about ?