Imagine this scenario. A dangerous enemy is threatening your community with violence. You have the opportunity to infiltrate that enemy, enter its ranks and manipulate it into action in a self-destructive manner.
In doing so, you are risking your personal safety. Your cover might be blown. Members of the enemy may be suspicious of each other, but they are likely more suspicious of a newcomer. Or even of an oldcomer behaving differently.
This is the story behind Denzel Washington’s latest movie BlacKkKlansman.
Washington’s son plays a rooky detective of African American heritage who infiltrates the viciously racist Ku Klux Klan, an organisation with extreme hatred of Blacks, Jews and other groups.
So how can a Black police officer infiltrate an all-White organisation? Simple. The Black cop talks to the KKK over the phone, and his White colleague talks to them in person using the same name and identity.
It should be easy work for the White policeman. Except that in real life, he is Jewish. Admittedly, he is not a devout Jew. He never had a Bar Mitzvah ceremony. He was never surrounded by Jews when growing up. He was just another White kid. But he is troubled by having to deny his Jewishness and having to repeat standard KKK mantras about “kikes”.
Exposed to anti-Semitism, the Jewish cop says to his Negro partner: “I never thought much about it. Now I think about it all the time”. Which makes sense really.
You don’t have to be super religious to become upset and offended when some ignorant fool keeps talking falsehoods about your heritage. And without an understanding of how the ethics of your heritage teaches you to handle such insults, you might just flip.
(Incidentally the Jewish cop’s nickname among his colleagues was “Flip”.)
As I watched the movie, I couldn’t help but remember the Prophet Muhammad’s (s) saying: “War is deception”. These words he spoke to a man named Nu’aym bin Mas’ud al-Ghatafani who secretly approached him at the Battle of the Ditch.
Ghatafani used his contacts with all the major players seeking to destroy the small and vulnerable community. These enemies had surrounded the Muslims on all sides.
Thanks to al-Ghatafani’s diplomacy, these sides began fighting among themselves, demanding hostages from each other on the very morning they were supposed to launch a joint attack.
Ghatafani set against each other two sides known for their violence, their racism and their military and economic might. He used the trust he had built up with these two sides over many years. This act of deception was Ghatafani’s first conscious act as a Muslim.
Similarly, Flip’s first conscious act as a Jew, as a man who inherited Abrahamic values and rejected racism and ethnic chauvinism, was to use the whiteness of his skin and his all-White upbringing to infiltrate the KKK along with his Black colleague. Their struggle to cause a dent in the activities of the KKK was built around righteous deception.