The Koran says the infidel must be crushed. At the same time we are constantly told that Islam is a tolerant religion.

I hate to interrupt a perfectly good shouting match with information, but as usual there is a lot to what both sides are saying.

Moslems often refer to all non-Moslem faiths as "infidels." Sunni Moslems refer to Shiite Moslems as "heathens" and Shiite Moslems refer to Sunni Moslems as "infidels." Like most insults, these labels are not strictly accurate.

When the Koran uses the word "infidel," it is referring to faiths which are not derived from the Old Testament. Judaism, Christianity and Islam all recognize the Old Testament. Moslem countries allowed Jews and Christians to practice their own faith. In Moslem countries, Christians and Jews were discriminated against, but they were not killed.

Pagans, true infidels, were killed by Islam. So those who worshipped the old Greek gods or the old Arab tribal deities were slaughtered outright. Followers of all the old religions of Northern Europe were burned alive.

This is exactly the same approach medieval Christians used in relation to Jews. Jews were permitted to practice their religion in Catholic countries, in Eastern Orthodox countries, and in Protestant countries, but a "pagan" was burned alive.

A Jew who practiced his Old Religion was tolerated in every Christian land. But any of my ancestors who practiced his Old Religion was burned alive. Jews are the only ones we hear complaining about discrimination because they are the only ones who are still alive to do so.

No one complains about the burning of "heathens" by Christians because our old religions were wiped out by pure intolerance. The only people still around to complain are Jews, so the significance of the fact that they were allowed to live and practice their faith under Christians and Moslems is totally ignored.

So what we call the tolerance of Islam, slaughtering infidels but not Jews, was practiced by Christians.

When Jews were persecuted they went to Moslem lands or to other Christian lands. This sort of "Tolerance" is a very relative term.

According to the Old Testament, today's Israel was taken from its native inhabitants complete with blood, fire and genocide. Islam was spread with the sword just as Old Testament Judaism was. So the Crusaders, about whom Christians feel so guilty because they took the Holy Land by fire and sword, were simply the third of three faiths which took the same land the same way.

The forceful taking of Israel by the Jews in our age is a repetition of a very old process.

No faith based on the Old Testament is likely to be tolerant.

Pagans were almost always tolerant. Which may be why I must refer to them in the past tense.