Islamism, Christianism, Judeaism

EDITORIAL, 25 Apr 2011

#161 | Johan Galtung, 25 Apr 2011 - TRANSCEND Media Service

From Alfaz, Spain

These are the days of the christian easter and the judaic passover; the passion story of Jesus delivered to his father in heaven, and the story of Moses delivering his people to the holy land (and the Angel of Death passing over Jewish houses, killing only the Egyptian firstborn sons).  The third great narrative is islam’s hegira, Mohammed’s flight in 622 from Mecca to Medina.

There is much talk about islamism, politicized islam, these years.  But there is also politicized judaism and christianity; judeaism and christianism.  A symmetric approach is called for.

We are talking about geopolitics, territorial politics; not whether railroads should be run by the public or private sectors of the economy (or, more creatively, neither-nor, or both-and).  We are talking about territory embodied in the religious faith.  It is easily identified for islam and judaism.  Mohammed was not only a preacher, but also a politician who turned Medina into a city-state with himself as the enlightened patriarch.  Moses was not only a preacher but also a politician with a very specific address for “let my people go”: Judea (Samaria).  Mohammed and Moses defined islamism and judeaism.  But Jesus preached by words and acts; his kingdom was inside him and in the hereafter.

The christians practiced neither primitive nomadism nor modern statism, but small traditional communities wherever, as the arenas for enacting their faith.  And as addresses for St Paul.

That was not to stand.  The wherevers multiplied and grew. Ancient Greek-Roman polytheism yielded to christian polytheism. Three centuries after Jesus served as an example for humanity his was a terrestrial, not only heavenly, kingdom, even emperor-dom. Christianity became religio licita of the Roman Empire in 313.

Geopolitical christianity, christianism, had been defined.

Abraham’s monotheism had given rise to three faiths embodied in three geo-political formations: archetypal chosen people-promised land nationalism, city-states wherever, and successions of empires whenever.  But before we spell out some implications, what would less, non- or a-political religion look like?

For the believer there will always be thought, speech and action; the right faith, the right words, the right deeds, as prescribed.  There is always the micro-arena: the inner struggles and the relations to one’s next, one’s neighbor.  The ten (or so) shared commandments are traffic rules for that level, eight of them telling what not to do.[i] There are no commandments for the macro level of one nation state potentially against all others, nor for city-states, nor for the mega level of rise, decline and fall of empires.  US has been given three religions with a negative micro level ethic, a strong devotion to one nation-state, to city-states and to empires at the macro and mega levels, but with no moral steering at the macro and mega levels.  Except as communities?  Jews not fighting Jews?  But there is supposedly only one Jewish state!  Christians not fighting christians? They always did.  Muslims not fighting muslims: better, their ummah, community of believers, or dynasty, seems to have more reality.

So we get a world of christian empires, starting in Rome, splitting 395 in a Western catholic and an Eastern orthodox part, the former with a weak ummah-like successor and inner-directed christianity till colonialism gave rebirth to Catholic, then Protestant then secular empires; the latter defeated by Russian and Ottoman empires and their secular successors, the Soviet empire and today’s fascinating Turkish revival–if the leadership manages what Olof Palme tried, to make neutrality and peace-making a valid basis for great, not only big, power politics.

Right now the ultimate christian mega-empire fights muslim communities with mega-weapons, drones, cruise and other missiles, fighter-bombers, high on cowardice–protected, few casualties–low on accuracy; the muslims with IEDs at $10 a piece, high on courage and devotion up to suicide, high on accuracy. Who wins is obvious.  There are myriads of muslim communities–descendants of sultanates many of them–and only one or two vulnerable empires now trying to kill three regimes in the muslim world: Libya, Syria and Iran. All three have security machineries against that infiltration, but they also use them against their own people’s wish for democracy.

US empire christianism is fighting not only for the economic-political-military-cultural empire, but also for God’s rule on earth via USA, a country under God, invoking his support.  The USA does not take such expressions lightly when coming from islam, nor should the rest of the world take US expressions lightly.

And at the root of it all is Cana’an, Zion, Israel; one land for all the chosen ones, bent on defending itself by all means, nuclearism and Massada included.  Why not also against pogroms, against the shoa?  Because in diaspora they were fish out of water, detached from the heaven of their faith, Eretz Israel.  Goldstone’s retraction was as logical as the non-Jewish committee members’ non-retraction.

Israel has so far courted empire, not ummah. A major mistake.  But top prominent Israelis use this passover not “to pass over the Palestinian people”, calling for a 1967 type Palestinian state to “extend our hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness” (from the 1948 Independence Declaration).  The good side of judaism, not ugly judeaism.  The leader?  A woman, of course, Hannah Maron (IHT, 20-04-2011).

True religion at work, a global, spiritual force, binding on us all.  May all three one day graduate into global spirituality.


[i].  See the epilogue in Johan Galtung and Graeme MacQueen, Globalizing God, TRANSCEND University Press, 2009; to be performed by Landestheater Tübingen, Germany, 15-07-2011.

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 25 Apr 2011.

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6 Responses to “Islamism, Christianism, Judeaism”

  1. Dear Johan,

    You talk about politicized islam, judaism and Christianity, but, when in history have these religions, like Hinduism in India, not been politicized?

    “Politics” per se, is a relatively modern institution or concept in the history of the world. Religious
    “Corporations” came first and they run the world. They made laws, telling people what is “legal” and what is “illegal”. They made laws to control what people eat and drink, how people should dress, what parts of the body can show and which cannot show. They made laws to have part of the natural body removed. They made laws to control people’s private life, who can have sex and who cannot. The Church also invented “taxes”, etc, etc.

    Why are Government buildings so large, luxurious and imposing? because lay politicians imitate their religious counterparts.

    Personally, with the huge number of USA soldiers now dead, in both Iraq and Afghanistan, the thousands of bereaved American families, the millions of children, parents, siblings, etc, who will never see their dead relative again, I’d not call American soldiers “cowards”.

    I also feel for all those American soldiers, pilots, landmine defusers, etc who ended up in the military, when they could have had hundreds of other decent and enjoyable jobs, but are/were victims of the very sophisticated mind-control techniques and strategies used by American Authorities, with the help of scientists and psychologists specialising on the subject.

    IEDs at $10 a piece in the Muslim world, has no connection whatsoever, with the situation. There is A LOT of money in the Muslim world; vast fortunes are spent regularly on weapons,large and small, military vehicles, uniforms, spying and torture equipment,etc. The IEDs at $10 a piece are a political statement.

    As you know, only 5 months ago, Saudi Arabia signed a military contract for some 30 “billion” USA dollars. I say it again: the Muslim world is very, very rich. However, rich Muslims don’t want to share their fortune. They wish to continue living in luxurious Palaces, full of servants, which I call slaves.

    As for USA doing what it does, because of what you call
    “God’s rule on earth via USA”, the slaving soldiers, killing and dying, don’t think of their country as being
    “under God”. This is only part of the Authorities strategy, to justify their criminal and imperialistic actions.

    There are many countries around the world that are
    “nuclear threats”. USA and Israel are far from alone.

    Best wishes,



      Dear Alberto Portugheis,

      A 3pp editorial is limited to a theme, and the basic theme was the geopolitical basis of the three abrahamic religions and how enormously important they are today; not peace in general.

      That US soldiers are also forced by their leaders to enter direct, local fighting in muslim communities does not cancel the cowardice of bombing from 44,000 feet or from a computer drone.

      But the basic point in these editorials is always the search for peaceful ways out. The remarkable Passover challenge from leading Israeli personalities should be the basic subject for journalists to explore–they do not. And then, today, the Palestinians are approaching unity, probably on exactly the same solution as those Israelis!

      The revolt has reached all the parties in that deadly embrace–except Netanyahu, and Sharon.

      Best regards,
      Johan Galtung

  2. sharade says:

    well written Alberto, as person who grow up in the middeleast, I say you are more near to what’s really happening now a days, Islam is the new big apple, at the same time the Victim of all cooperations and there servents in any what do you call democratic state, the problem with the Islamic world is that they don’t have a savage hidden Agenda, there is no such thing who called Al Qaeeda any more, every body is calling his enemy a terrorist,that’s the brilliant idea in what you call war on terror, you don’t have to prove any thing, you just decide and go to action and kill who ever stand in a way of any cooperation or a dictator,brilliant ha? that’s what they thought it will be, but it turned out to be a very stupid Idea, to kill your own people on the 9/11 in order invade all the world with it, and get all goverments on there knees to coopreate with the Empire.
    there an old Arabic poem who says, we can’t achieve all what we desire, some times the wind blows agains the desire of the ships. now in the time of revelutions,the fall of one dictator behind the other,all the brilliance and the idea of a new world order, or war on terror as they call it, (the rising of the police states), it was a very profiteable business as long as it lasted, out of business very soon, you can do any thing you like around a sleeping elefant? but when he wakes up,it will be a revelutionarie reaction against the killing of innocent people in many muslim countries, by the empire it self or there dictators who seems that very soon will not be able to help the empire any more.

  3. Mammo says:

    Greetings Professor Galtung,

    With Huge respect to you as a student of you and young person, I would like to write a few comments on your article. I always get Transcend Media Service weekly articles on Monday morning and I at least read yours. What I respectfully want tell you that, in my understanding, you are against Christianity and Christians. You are overwhelmingly biased about the religion, I thought at your young age you may have affected or did not get good witness. While reflecting your hatred the American’s politics you use Christianity as a weapon or weaklink. You sometimes quote Bible out of context, text without context is pretext. When you shoot at to the American’s politicians you kill many innocent people only the Americans but more than 2billion people allover the world. Please separate chip politics and Christianity, please do not follow theirs way to pass your messages. I read your books on peace and peace related issues, as you said use ” peaceful way to peace”. It is just to breath out what I felt, otherwise, I respect your ideas… I am grateful what I learned as a student from you and hope I will learn more…

    With best regards

  4. I will agree to professor galtung perfection!

  5. Dear Johan,

    In your response to my comment you said “the three abrahamic religions are enormously important today”. My question is “when in history have they not been enormously important???” at least 90% of wars around the world are caused by religion. This is why countries have an “official” religion and this is why in so many countries, if a man does not belong to the official religion of his country, he can never become his country’s President or Prime Minister.

    You say that that “US soldiers are forced by their leaders to enter direct, local fighting in muslim communities”, but this is US soldiers also fought in Korea, Vietnam, Panama, etc. The US Administration will send their soldiers to kill people of all religions (or no religion) and any ehtnic group, as long as it pleases their controllers, even is MANY of their own soldiers die in the process. Imagine, in Vietnam alone, USA lost 67,000 Americans but they still want more to die, because it’s good for business.

    As you know, I don’t blame them. Weapons are ONLY and EXCLUSIVELY made for killing. Air-fighters, bombs, torpedoes, etc, for “self-defense”????? only a very small child could believe that.

    I speak with pilots and I’ll never agree with you that bombing from 44,000 feet (or from a computer drone) equals “cowardice”. Many of them cannot sleep for years, are under constant psychiatric treatment, for what they’ve done.

    I’m not clear about what you call “The remarkable Passover challenge” To me Passover has a several ugly connotations which I’ll not brong out now.

    As for “Palestinians approaching unity” you say “probably on exactly the same solution as those Israelis!” I don’t know what you mean by “same solution”, but for me, the so called “unity”, is an ominous sign of bigger troubles. Palestineans, instead of fighting each other, will unite to have a stronger way of fighting with Israel.

    Thank you Sharade, for liking what I wrote.
    I see why you feel that “Islam is the new big apple”….
    “victim of all cooperations”….”servants”, etc, but I’d like you to read about the whole globe, look at the mess, the poverty, the hunger, the continuous revolutions and wars, terrorist attacks, etc, in MANY non-Muslim countries. You will then understand much better “why” the world is in the state it is.

    The Islamic world does not have a “savage” hidden Agenda, but there is an “Agenda” and not totally “hidden”.

    Mammo, I have the impression you have not understood Professor Galtung’s position. He is not against Christianity and Christians; he is against USA imperialism.

    It is true that sometimes, when he “shoots at American politicians he “kills” many innocent people. Yes, 90% of the American population are innocent, living in the “imaginary” country Washington, with the help of Walt Disney and the likes, have created for them.

    You say “Please separate cheap politics and Christianity”, but this is impossible, as not only Christianity, but all religions are intimately coneected to politics. In England, for instance, the Church Commission that choses the Archbishop of Canterbury, is made up of 6 politicians and only 2 clergymen. And who is the Head of the Church? the Queen. This shows you have inter-related politics and religion are.