Briefly, like Christian fundamentalists who believe Earth was created thousands of years ago and fail to address or disregard proof of living creatures long before then (or that the planet existed before then), there are those who want a clean and wrapped bundle of "fact" that today we’re in a war between Islam and Christianity.
Recently, the "General Chong letter" was put forward as argumentative "proof" of this binary conflict. When asked about the other religions, such as Judaism, Hinduism, and even our Hollywood favorites Kabala and Scientology, the discussant referred to this letter and repeated the oft quoted phrase: you’re with us or against us. How would such a high-minded individual read Saudi columnist Yusuf Nasir Al-Suweida’s article in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Siyassa on 27 June 2006? Probably like the fundamentalist reads fossils…
"When Vietcong fighters dug underground tunnels in order to reach the American Danang base in South Vietnam in the 1960s, they did so inside the borders of their homeland, Vietnam, and in the context of a minor world war in which the strong players were the Americans, the Chinese, and the Soviets.
"But the faulty course of action taken by the Palestinians, for instance this war of tunnels, is something else entirely. The tunnel dug by the terrorists from the Gaza Strip to the Kerem Shalom crossing took them outside the Palestinian border, and they used it to penetrate into Israel – an independent, sovereign, U.N. member state. There [in Israel] they perpetrated the crime of murdering two Israelis, kidnapping a third, and wounding others, with all the dangerous consequences that [such a] despicable attack has caused and will cause to the Palestinian side. As Palestinian Presidential Spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina put it: ‘Things are back to square one’…"
Do we ignore divisions in the region in the Muslim world or Arab world, depending if you want to group by religion or ethnicity (both loose groupings that Clash and strict Core-Gap adherents don’t accept as distinctive)? No, we encourage these voices and we encourage the moderates.
As Mao and any other person who has studied insurgencies and guerilla warfare, or simply politics, explains, the core supporters stand in the middle ground. This is why Mao insisted his soldiers treat the people with respect. The failure to do this simple act contributed to the American Revolution and codified in Amendment III of the US Constitution: No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law. The majority in any political opinion are in the middle ground and this group, providing the support systems to the guerillas, can be swayed.
Does cultural awareness matter? Not if you’re a fundamentalist with absolutes in your mind.