Intellectual Flights and Narrative Wars

The Arabs and the Holocaust: The Arab-Israeli War of Narratives, by Gilbert Achcar, Metropolitan Books, 400 pages, $30

The Flight of the Intellectuals, by Paul Berman, Melville House, 224 pages, $26

Paul Berman’s important and frequently brilliant, but also seriously flawed book The Flight of the Intellectuals is an old-fashioned polemic that takes aim at two main targets. The first are his fellow liberal intellectuals Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash, whom he accuses of a witches’ brew of offenses involving white liberal guilt and displaced racism, abandonment of Enlightenment values, and craven cowardice in the face of Islamist bullying, and whom he considers emblematic of a widespread rot in the Western liberal intelligentsia. But to get to them, he has to go through Tariq Ramadan, the Swiss Muslim academic and activist who also happens to be the grandson of the founder of the original Muslim Brotherhood Party in Egypt, Hassan al-Banna, and the son of al-Banna’s second in command, Said Ramadan. So actually, the bulk of the book dwells on not only Ramadan but also al-Banna and, in great detail, his ally Amin al-Husseini, the onetime grand mufti of Jerusalem.

Berman does a very good job of explicating Ramadan’s highly problematic forebears and his troubling, albeit perfectly natural, fealty to the frankly baneful legacies of his grandfather and, to a lesser extent, his father. Describing al-Banna as the godfather of most political applications of contemporary Islamism, especially in the Arab world, is exactly right. But, he concedes, the son is not the father or the grandfather and needs to be considered on his own terms. Berman has contributed a significant degree of clarity to several important debates, and one of the most important effects his book could have over the long run is to prompt more Western intellectuals who write about Arab and Muslim issues to read more thoroughly what people from the Middle East, reactionary and liberal alike, are saying, and to subject those views to serious and critical analysis rather than assuming they already know them. Berman does a largely admirable and sometimes excellent job of critiquing Ramadan’s ambiguities, lacunae, and evasions, and he makes the case better than it has been made before. Berman is right that Ramadan basically seems to mean what he says and that his agenda is to create what amounts to a socially and religiously conservative Muslim counterculture, or at least subculture, in Western societies.

Probably the most telling line in Berman’s insightful portrait of Ramadan is his observation that “he wants to issue reassurances in every direction.” This habit was part of what led many to hope that Ramadan would be a positive influence when he first rose to prominence. The hope raised by initial readings of Ramadan’s most important book,Western Muslims and the Future of Islam, was that the effort to combine innovation with reassurance was largely designed to assuage the fears of conservatives, traditionalists, and even radicals in the Muslim community while engaging in some serious, substantive reform and modernization of thinking in Western, and possibly even international, Muslim religious circles.

Consider a simple but telling example how Ramadan tries to deploy this process of universal reassurances. First, he observes that all texts require interpretation (two steps forward) but that, “if there is an explicit Qur’anic verse whose meaning is obvious and leaves no room for hypothesis or interpretation, no ijtihad [independent interpretation] is possible” (two steps back—and, of course, there is no such thing as a text whose meaning is obvious and leaves no room for hypothesis or interpretation). Finally, he observes that “the great majority of the verses in the Qur’an and the traditions of the Prophet are not of both a strict and compelling nature” (one step forward, but only if the subsequent interpretations are genuinely reflective of rather than reactionary toward universal human values and the enlightened interests of Western and other Muslims).

Here is Ramadan always issuing reassurances in every direction, even in his methodology. Modern minds are reassured that even religious texts require interpretation; traditionalists are reassured that explicit texts do not allow for interpretation; and everybody is reassured that there are, in fact, very few genuinely explicit texts and that lots of interpretation will be necessary. The problem is that having described the process, Ramadan has almost always failed to play a positive role in shaping the interpretation in the right direction, which renders his contribution, at this point anyway, largely pointless, if not negative. Unfortunately, both Salafist and liberal Muslim reformers would both have to rely on this kind of textual and doctrinal flexibility to overturn traditionally dominant interpretations that are, respectively, too permissive or too restrictive for their liking. So promising processes can just as easily turn out to be alarming ones.

Berman is absolutely right when he concludes that Ramadan “is imprisoned in a cage made of his own doctrine about his grandfather and his grandfather’s ideology” and that he “wants to make his cage look like anything but a cage” but “cannot figure out how to unlock the cage.” Berman’s damning and persuasive conclusion is that Ramadan “cannot think for himself. He does not believe in thinking for himself.”

But Berman’s effort to paint Ramadan as an apologist for terrorism is quite unpersuasive. Berman overstates his case when he cites Ramadan’s judgment that, for Palestinians, “armed resistance was incumbent” and concludes that this amounts to a justification for terrorism, as if the two were necessarily synonymous. They might, but need not, be. And it is a stretch to say that Ramadan “understands terrorism so tenderly that he ends up justifying it” and that he “justifies [terrorism] so thoroughly that he ends up defending it.” Defending terrorism is a charge that ought to be reserved for a case that can be made less indirectly.

Indeed, Berman misreads the Palestinian national movement rather badly. He seems to think, quite wrongly, that from its outset Islamism and the legacy of al-Banna’s ideas largely guided it. Some of his passages would lead an unversed reader to conclude that the Palestinian movement has been an Islamist one for most of its history. On the contrary, after the reformation in the late 1960s of Palestinian national institutions following the 1947–48 Nakba (“catastrophe,” the expulsion and dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes during the establishment of the state of Israel), most Palestinian discourse was anything but Islamist. It was decidedly secular—in parts, third worldist, socialist, and nationalist. Most Palestinian nationalists from the 1960s until the late 1980s would have regarded Islamists as retrograde, reactionary, ridiculous, and probably agents of the West. Political culture has obviously changed since then, not only among the Palestinians but also in the entire Muslim world, and as the mantle of nationalism in the eyes of many has passed from secular nationalists to Islamists, a disturbing amount of political discourse has reversed the order of things, with Islamists now all too often considered the nationalist vanguard and secularist nationalists consigned to the category of retrograde, reactionary, and probably agents of the West. Even so, the Islamist tendency does not yet dominate the Palestinian movement (although if all efforts to negotiate an end to the occupation fail, it eventually may).

Berman complains that Palestinian leaders “might have noticed after several decades that, realistically speaking, violent tactics were advancing the struggle not one whit, and counterproductive tactics ought to be jettisoned in favor of actions better calculated to succeed at building a Palestinian state, side by side with Israel, if need be—as could probably have been achieved at various moments over the years.” Apparently, he has never heard of President Mahmoud Abbas, who was elected in 2005 with a 63 percent majority after running on a strictly nonviolent—indeed, antiviolent— platform, or of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who is busy building the basic institutional, infrastructural, economic, and administrative framework of the Palestinian state. He doesn’t acknowledge the paradigm shift that has taken place in the secular nationalist, which is to say mainstream, Palestinian leadership regarding violence and how to achieve statehood and independence.

Berman’s critique of Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash (and by implication an entire class of other intellectuals) centers on their attitudes toward the former Dutch Somali politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali, on the one hand, and Ramadan, on the other. He argues that Buruma and Garton Ash are two examples, presumably among many, of liberal Western intellectuals who fail to defend the values of the West and the Enlightenment by implicitly or explicitly endorsing the likes of Ramadan, who Berman argues (persuasively, in my view) does not uphold those traditions, and by implicitly or explicitly criticizing Hirsi Ali, who he argues (unpersuasively, in my view) does uphold them.

Berman makes two essentially contradictory arguments in attempting to explain why Western liberal intellectuals would engage in such an allegedly craven betrayal. The first is that they embody internalized Western guilt and white racism masquerading as compassion for the non-Western world, a case of fetishizing the “authenticity” they imagine Ramadan to possess. It is highly debatable whether this is really what has been going on in this case, but the phenomenon Berman describes does exist. His second explanation is that, since the Rushdie affair, the threat of potential and in some cases real violence against strong critics of Islam and Islamists has become so widespread that Western intellectuals are driven by fear—“mortal fear, the fear of getting murdered by fanatics in the grip of a bizarre ideology.” That such fear legitimately exists in many quarters, especially in the Middle East but also in Europe, there is no doubt. But why it would infect the work of people like Buruma and Garton Ash, who could just as easily write about something else, rather than seriously trying to engage with Ramadan and Hirsi Ali and coming to conclusions strikingly different from Berman’s about both, does not follow in the least. And Berman does not seem to experience any mortal fear despite his criticisms of Ramadan.

Berman views their negative evaluation of Hirsi Ali as symptomatic of a kind of Western liberal self-hatred, because he sees her as a champion of humanist and Western values, and more important, of the Enlightenment and its values. But Hirsi Ali is, alas, an anti-Muslim bigot. She insists that the worst actions of any Muslims represent “true Islam” and that all believing Muslims must support the actions of the most brutal extremists. In her book Infidel, she recounts that after the September 11, 2001 attacks, her Dutch colleagues were insisting that, even if the attacks were the work of Muslim extremists, they were not a reflection on Islam as a faith or on Muslims in general. Hirsi Ali thought to herself, “But it is about Islam. This is based in belief. This is Islam.” Then, she reports, she did some “research” to check this preexisting conclusion. Not surprisingly, she found that her alleged research vindicated her assumption. She concluded, “Every devout Muslim who aspired to practice genuine Islam . . . must have at least approved of [the attacks].” “True Islam,” she adds, is by definition, and in apparent contrast with all other religions, “totalitarianism” and “leads to cruelty.” Hirsi Ali and many other anti-Muslim ideologues explicitly hold that all of these traditional, moderate, or liberal Muslims are simply wrong and their ideas invalid, and that the worst extremists are right in their interpretation of the faith. More benign interpretations are foreclosed, and moderation and reform invalidated. On this point she agrees, ironically, with the likes of Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri.

When she relocated to the United States, Hirsi Ali became even more strident about presenting Islam, in all its forms and as a faith, as an enemy of the West that must be “crushed.” In a 2007 interview with Reason magazine, she said that the faith could be socially and politically useful “[o]nly if Islam is defeated.” When asked, “Don’t you mean defeating radical Islam?” She replied, “No. Islam, period.” She explained, “I think that we are at war with Islam. And there’s no middle ground in wars. . . . There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.” She concludes: “There is no moderate Islam. There are Muslims who are passive, who don’t all follow the rules of Islam, but there’s really only one Islam, defined as submission to the will of God. There’s nothing moderate about it.” And, she proclaims, echoing so many other Islamophobes, “Islam is a political movement.”

Berman soft-pedals Hirsi Ali’s aggressive, intransigent, and intolerant attitude toward Islam and Muslims, yet this is precisely what he accuses Buruma and Garton Ash of doing with Ramadan. Berman asks, “What if it were true [that Hirsi Ali has been] hurling a few high-spirited insults at her old religion?” suggesting that such comments are somehow reasonable, understandable, or harmless.

So although Berman has seen through Ramadan with crystal clarity in most ways, and especially on the most important issues, he reveals a debilitating blindness when it comes to other crucial subjects, such as the nature and evolution of the Palestinian national movement and, perhaps even more egregiously, the substance of Hirsi Ali’s interventions, which he indefensibly misreads as championing universal, humanist Enlightenment values, when in fact their intolerance flies directly in the face of those values. Berman may well have a good point about a certain type of Western liberal intellectual who fails to defend humanist and Enlightenment values in the face of presumed non-Western authenticity, but if he has gotten the diagnosis right, his prescription is no improvement on the disease.

It is most instructive to read Berman’s book alongside another important recent study, Gilbert Achcar’s The Arabs and the Holocaust. Berman’s book purports to be about Western liberal intellectuals but actually ends up devoting much of its attention to al-Husseini, the Nazis, and the Holocaust. Sadly, his grasp of the trajectory of twentieth-century Arab political thought is highly skewed, according al-Husseini far more significance than can be justified and presenting his enthusiastic collaboration with the Nazis after he fled from the British authorities in Palestine as a cause and crucial starting point of what Berman refers to as a “Nazified Islam.” Berman does not exaggerate al-Husseini’s outrageous conduct during World War II or the foulness of his rhetoric. There is no doubt that, having fled Palestine, he took up an alliance with the Nazis not merely out of necessity, as some other anticolonial figures from the British Empire did, but also showed a level of enthusiasm for Nazi anti-Semitism that is appalling. The broadcasts that he did for Germany directed toward the Arab world did indeed preach a version of fundamentalist Islam infused with a Nazi version of anti-Semitism.
But those broadcasts hardly introduced such ideas into the Islamist discourse. Had he paid attention to Achcar, Berman would not have so badly misread the central role of Rashid Rida, one of the key founders of the Salafist revival movement and publisher of the hugely influential journal al-Manar. Berman cites him as “express[ing] respect for the Zionist settlers” in the 1920s. This is correct, but it misses Rida’s subsequent introduction of the very Nazi-like anti-Semitic ideas that Berman associates most strongly with al-Husseini, and probably in a much more lasting and influential manner. And Rida was not the only such influential voice. Achcar provides a far more sophisticated and better-informed road map than Berman’s to the development of Nazi-like anti-Semitism among Islamists.

Berman lavishes a great deal of attention in the service of his case against Ramadan on al-Husseini’s ghastly broadcasts for the Nazis but admits that “the broadcasts reached a relatively small audience in the Arab world.” Indeed, there is really no reason to think that they had any significant audience or lasting impact at all, although Berman tries, quite unconvincingly, to maintain that they did. Al-Husseini’s main role in Germany was to whip up Arab support for the Germans and the Italians, especially in the form of recruits. As Achcar notes, “The meager results say a great deal about both the Arabs’ support for Nazism and the mufti’s influence.”

At the same time, Achcar has no difficulty identifying al-Husseini as an enthusiastic supporter of Nazism and, in his letter addressed to the Nazi-dominated Hungarian government in 1943 suggesting that Jews be sent to Poland instead of Palestine, as probably criminally complicit in the Holocaust. Achcar notes that although al-Husseini may or may not have known at the time about the systematic genocide against the Jews, he certainly knew about the concentration camps in Poland, and “it is probable that he would have made the same request even had he known that the Nazis were carrying out their Final Solution.”

Al-Husseini was certainly the most prominent Palestinian leader of his generation, largely because, for complex reasons, he was promoted far beyond his qualifications or abilities by the British, who considered him a useful ally until the Palestinian uprising in 1936. After his return to the Middle East following the end of World War II, the Arab League unceremoniously shoved him aside amid the diplomacy dealing with the issue of partition and in the buildup to the 1948 war, and his various demands were repeatedly rejected. In a last-minute maneuver led by Egypt, the Arab League tried to restore his authority to offset the influence of Jordan, but the entire project collapsed. And there is no question that, following the defeat in 1948 and the Palestinian Nakba, al-Husseini was an utterly discredited figure not only with virtually no political influence remaining but also generally bearing a large part of the blame for the catastrophe. Achcar quotes one of al-Husseini’s biographers, the former Israeli military governor of the occupied territories, Zvi Elpeleg, as pointing out “The memory of [al-Husseini] disappeared from the Palestinian public consciousness almost without a trace. No days of mourning [upon his death] were set aside in his memory. His name was not commemorated in the refugee camps, and no streets were named after him. No memorials were built in his memory, and no books written extolling his deeds.” Achcar points out that even Hamas maintains an “embarrassed silence” about him.

Berman describes the initial Arab reaction to the Holocaust as “the belief that, whatever may have happened in Europe, the Arab world had no reason to give the matter any thought. . . . It was not so much a question of Holocaust denial, nor of Holocaust justification, nor of Holocaust belittlement, but of Holocaust avoidance.” Those passages suggest a serious lack of understanding on Berman’s part about the way cultures function. The Holocaust, for all its horror, was an entirely Western phenomenon, and, in effect, the byproduct of a massive, internecine Western civil conflict that spilled over into, and drew in, parts of the colonized world. The phenomenon Berman is describing not only is not unique to the Arab world but also is, frankly, the virtually universal non-Western reaction to the Holocaust. The same could be said of India, China, Indochina, or much of Africa for that matter, all societies in which there was not and continues not to be any great amount of thought given to the matter. But, given Achcar’s book and a great deal of other evidence, it is clear that Arabs have not always simply avoided, or merely denied, the Holocaust but have had a very complex relationship to it as a narrative and as a historical fact.

Berman asks, “Or will someone argue that in my presentation of these developments in the Middle East, I am making too much of the Nazi contribution?” He obviously is. There is no doubt whatsoever that much of the present Islamist movement is infected with a very virulent form of anti-Semitic paranoia—largely imported from the West and promoted by many forces, including the Nazis—that has a complex and overdetermined political and cultural history. There have been plenty of other very significant, and indeed much more powerful, sources of these terrible ideas, not least of them anti-Semitic Western Christian missionaries in late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Berman falls into the trap Achcar describes as “a historical grand narrative that leads straight from the mufti to Osama bin Laden” (or at least to the influential Salafist preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi and, by extension, to Ramadan).

That said, Achcar’s book also suffers from some extremely significant flaws, and his own dubious grand narratives. Although he is appropriately tough on the Islamist movement, he soft-pedals the vitriolic anti-Semitic views of some Arab nationalists. Achcar’s most significant intervention in contemporary politics is his book’s uncompromising anti-Zionism. The whole point of his book is to draw a connection between two themes—a serious and largely fair-minded historical account of Arab reactions to the Holocaust on the one hand and a fairly strong political polemic against Zionism on the other. But the two themes do not sit very well together. The contrast raises suspicions that he deploys the first to strengthen the hand of the second, which may have been the main point all along. Or perhaps he is deploying the second to defend the credibility, at least for Arab audiences, of the first. Either way, his anti-Zionist polemic undermines the main point of the book about the complex history of the cultural and political reception of the Holocaust in the Arab world.

Achcar argues that Holocaust denial and denial of the Nakba are reciprocal phenomena, and he is calling for a dialogue based on mutual recognition of the twin calamities. He is careful to acknowledge that “the Palestinians cannot, however, advisedly and legitimately apply to their own case the superlatives appropriate to the Jewish genocide.” Achcar suggests that Holocaust denial by Westerners whose societies were the culprits of the genocide should be distinguished from the same arguments made by Arabs who have been the victims of Israeli colonialism and oppression, asking, “Should such denial, when it comes from oppressors, not be distinguished from denial in the mouths of the oppressed, as the racism of ruling whites is distinguished from that of subjugated blacks?” It’s an interesting point, but in the end, all it really seems to accomplish is to open a certain space to be more tolerant of indefensible Arab claims and positions about Jewish history, which cannot be the basis of any serious dialogue. Achcar makes the same dubious case about Zionism itself. He argues that, on the one hand, insofar as Zionism was a defensive reaction to European anti-Semitism, “it is as morally excusable as the reactive racism of blacks to white racism.” “On the other hand,” he argues, once Israel was established as a state, it became “ipso facto, a fundamentally racist colonial movement comparable to the European forms of colonialism with which it had identified.”

These arguments all seem to center on an assumption that whoever can successfully claim to be the victim in any given situation suddenly acquires the moral authority to engage in activities that are forbidden to those in the category of the culprits. It also suggests that the two positions are the only ones available to societies, and possibly to individuals, which are always caught in a dynamic binary between dominance and subordination. Moreover, it suggests that groups can, as the Zionist movement did, rapidly move from the position of oppressed to that of oppressor, in the process shifting what is morally available to them as legitimate attitudes and conduct. The underlying idea is that the political and ethical defensibility of any given set of attitudes such as racism or actions such as violence depends entirely on whether they are carried out by those who are oppressors or those who are oppressed. This logic, which comes dangerously close to moral relativism, deeply undermines Achcar’s appeals for mutual understanding and honest dialogue because it dispenses with universal standards and allows any group the ability to claim a kind of moral carte blanche by asserting that it is a victim.

One of Achcar’s weakest arguments in his effort to structure Holocaust and Nakba denial as reciprocal forms of misrecognition and blindness is his effort to suggest that Israelis have consciously preferred dealing with anti-Semitic Arabs in peace negotiations. He cites as key examples the late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat (whom he calls “a notorious Jew hater,” which is at the very least extreme hyperbole) and current Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. He accuses Abbas of having made “remarks denying the Holocaust in the doctoral dissertation he defended in Moscow and published in Amman in 1984.” Again, this is a troubling exaggeration that undermines its own argument, as Abbas did not deny the Holocaust but suggested that the total number of Jewish deaths in the genocide is not known with any precision or certainty. Nonetheless, Achcar, who does not appear to approve of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty or the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations led by Abbas, asks whether this diplomacy “is . . . a sign of elective affinities between Jew haters and Arab haters, whose vision of the world is the same, only stood on its head?” The answer clearly is no. It seems scarcely possible to seriously argue that Sadat and Abbas are prime examples of Arab anti-Semites, if they can seriously be described as anti-Semitic at all, and of course his question assumes that the Israeli leaders in question also obviously qualified as “Arab haters” without any serious interrogation of this assumption. The implicit subtext of this critique is that Zionism is borne of or necessarily involves Arab hatred, and the only Arabs who either wish to or successfully can enter into serious diplomacy with Israel are, of necessity, Jew haters. There is a level of facile, faux-counterintuitive playfulness about these arguments, reminiscent of Arab critiques of Zionism as a virulent form of anti-Semitism, that is ultimately silly and also self-defeating.

The ongoing debate about al-Husseini and the Holocaust has given many people in the West the impression that during World War II the Arabs and the Muslims in general sided with the Nazis, largely on the basis of anti-Semitism. Berman says as much: “everyone understood during the war that, if a good many Arabs and Muslims condemned the Axis and even fought on the side of the Allies, an even larger number, in some regions an overwhelming number, cheered the Axis on, actively or passively.” At the same time, Berman acknowledges the reality that “Vastly more Arab soldiers fought on the Allied side, in the British and Free French armies.” And, he notes, “some forty thousand African and North African soldiers in the Free French armed forces are said to have died in the liberation of Europe in 1944 and [19]45 alone—a huge statistic if you give it any thought.”

About six thousand Arabs are estimated to have been involved in the German war effort during the entire conflict. Achcar points out\ that nine thousand Palestinians alone enlisted in the British army during the war. At least half a million Indian Muslims enlisted in the British military during the conflict. Achcar provides a number of other telling statistics. The majority of the French army troops in North Africa in 1939 and 1940 were Arabs. In the French defeat of June 1940, approximately 5,400 Arab soldiers were killed fighting on the Allied side, and the Germans captured an estimated 90,000 Muslims—60,000 Algerians, 18,000 Moroccans, and 12,000 Tunisians. It has been estimated that 233,000 North African Muslims were serving in the Free French Army in 1944, and that something like 52 percent of all soldiers of the Free French Army killed during the last year of the war were Muslims, mostly from North Africa. So, as a matter of fact, Arabs and Muslims were heavily involved in World War II, but on the Allied side, not the Nazi side. This remains a woefully untold and acknowledged story, especially in the West.

In all the territories of the Third Reich, it was in Albania alone, which just so happens to have been the only Muslim-majority country in Europe to come under direct German occupation, that not one Jew was handed over to the Germans. (The same, it must be said, sadly, does not apply to Muslim-majority enclaves in parts of the former Yugoslavia, such as Bosnia or Kosovo, not to mention Catholic Croatia.) As a consequence, Albania was the only country in continental Europe to emerge from the war with a larger Jewish population than it had had at its start. This has been documented in the excellent bookBesa: Muslims Who Saved Jews in World War II, by Norman H. Gershman.

Both Berman and Achcar have written books with an agenda, or more accurately with multiple agendas. Each in his own way has made a significant contribution to the recent literature on these closely related topics, especially if read side by side and contrapuntally. Berman has taken his Arab and Muslim subjects seriously and has tried, with varying degrees of success, to understand them on their own terms. Achcar has honestly confronted the growth of Holocaust denial in the Arab and Muslim worlds, especially among Islamists, and the rise of anti-Semitism in those societies, which he correctly identifies as a consequence rather than a cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict. But both books ultimately have a disturbingly defensive, tribal quality that seriously undermines their stronger arguments. Berman symptomatically misreads the Palestinian national movement as essentially an Islamist one and, worse, champions Hirsi Ali despite her overt anti-Muslim bigotry. Achcar provides a limited defense of Arab Holocaust denial as the reaction of the oppressed and, worse, engages in a reductive anti-Zionist polemic that practically forecloses constructive dialogue with most Israelis. Both make strong arguments that need to be taken seriously, yet both are so hidebound and defensive at crucial moments that they surrender moral and intellectual clarity for narrow political effect. As a consequence, neither has provided a useful way forward toward a more honest, self-critical, and generous model for cross-cultural and political dialogue.