West Asia: The peace process will have to wait
Talk of topographical solutions or future peace plans is utterly futile until we first address the ultimate catalyst for the conflict: The Islamic world's refusal to accept the right for a Jewish state to exist.
I believe we Jews must confront an uncomfortable truth: As long as Islam does not reform in the Middle East, there can never be peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
The extreme theology holds not only that the State of Israel is an affront to Islam, but also in Islamic lands, Jews must be the subjects of Muslims. It would be a racist smear to accuse all Muslims of holding these beliefs, the vast majority are peace-loving and decent citizens, but it would be intellectually dishonest to suggest that these ideas are not held by many. And therefore until we address the question of the radical Islamic forces' grip on the region, what use is it discussing future peace proposals?
In the seventh century, Arab Muslim imperialism swept through the Middle East, North Africa and elsewhere, and brought lands under Islamic rule as part of the new Arab Islamic empire. And this too included the Holy Land.
This created a Dar al Islam, or the abode of Islam, where Islam dominates religiously, socially, and politically. In short, Dar al Islam is a state with Islamic rule.
This position is irrevocable – a land that becomes Islamic, must always be Islamic. This is a non-negotiable theological maxim.
The State of Israel, as a Jewish and thus a non-Islamic state, is now regarded as Dar al Harb (or house of war). This means Islam will do whatever is necessary to get this former Islamic province back into the hands of Muslim rule. This is not a political duty, but a religious one.
I am of course not suggesting that every non-Muslim state is Dar al Harb. Indeed Islamic law professor Wahbah al-Zuhayli stated, "The existence of Dār al-Islām and Dār al-Ḥarb in contemporary times is rare or extremely limited. This is because Islamic countries have joined the United Nations covenant that stipulates that the relationship between nations is peace and not war. Therefore non-Muslim countries are Dār al-'Ahd [house of truce]…"
In other words, these divisions are not as pronounced as they were in the era of empires, as nations have formed peaceful relationships based on international law and human rights. (Admittedly, this has not persuaded radicals to drop their pursuit of a global Islamic caliphate, regardless of the magnanimity shown by Western nations towards their Muslim citizens).
However, because of Israel now being in the hands of non-Muslims, individuals such as Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradawi, a theologian and now chairman of the International Union of Islamic Scholars, said:
"The martyrdom operations carried out by the Palestinian factions to resist the Zionist occupation are not in any way included in the framework of prohibited terrorism, even if the victims include some civilians... It has been determined by Islamic law that the blood and property of people of Dar Al-Harb [the Domain of Disbelief where the battle for the domination of Islam should be waged] is not protected."
Or just look at the Hamas Charter 1988, which states:
"The land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf [holy possession] consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgment Day. No one can renounce it or any part, or abandon it or any part of it ... The day the enemies usurp part of Muslim land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Muslim. In the face of the Jews' usurpation, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised."
This demonstrates therefore that the fight for this land is not one based exclusively on nationalism. It is also a deeply rooted theological conviction. This means that no political effort to resolve this conflict will be conducive to peace. This situation is not a Northern Ireland, where political solutions can bring detente.
Many would like to refute these points by emphasizing that this is not the case with contemporary Islam, as Muslim leaders have negotiated treaties with Israeli leaders, and thus Muslim leaders see the importance of liberalizing religious values to make peace.
However, this is not one done out of sincerity, it is simply a tactical move. Take the Oslo Accords of 1993, Yasser Arafat, leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, was hailed as the patron saint of peace when he shook the hand of Yitzhak Rabin on the White House lawn.
Yet shortly after signing this agreement, he made it clear on Jordanian TV that this was just part of the "Plan of Phases." Indeed at one stage he compared the Oslo Accords with Mohammed's deal with Quraysh, the tribe that controlled Mecca. Mohammed negotiated a 10-year truce with them in 628, but two years later, once his forces were stronger, and there was an opportunity to capitalize on Quraysh's weaknesses, and take Mecca under Muslim control, he did so. And just how Mohammed did not sign the truce with Quraysh sincerely, neither did Arafat with Israel in the 1990s. Israel decided to ignore what Arafat was saying to his Muslim constituency, and instead hand over power to the Palestinians. And Israelis have paid the price.
No Islamic state (small s) or government can truly commit to co-exist with the Jewish state as long as the uncompromising theology of radical Islam determines their interaction with Israel.
Arafat also said, in a closed-door address to a Mosque in Johannesburg in 1994:
"And long after this agreement (1993 Oslo Agreement) which is the first step and not more than that, believe me. There is a lot to be done. The jihad will continue and Jerusalem is not for the Palestinian people. It is for all the Muslim Umma, all the Muslim Umma. You are responsible for Palestine and for Jerusalem before me."
He is, therefore, suggesting that it is incumbent upon all Muslims to fight for this cause. Similar sentiments have reverberated around the Muslim world.
However, this issue is far more profound than just land; it is also to do with the place of Islam in the realm of monotheism.
Radical Islam believes its existence makes the role of Judaism and Christianity obsolete. It sees itself as the last of God's revelations and thus is now the authoritative source on monotheism. This can be illustrated by how Islamic conquests often result in the holy sites of Christianity and Judaism being turned into Mosques. For example, the Bani Omaya Mosque in Damascus is one of the oldest and largest Mosques in the world. It was built on the Christian Basilica dedicated to John the Baptist.
Or take the Dome of the Rock, which dominates the landscape of Jerusalem. It was built on the complex of the holiest site in Judaism, the Temple Mount, where the Holy Temple once stood. Islam's building of this Islamic shrine is not just to represent Mohammed's fabled ascent to heaven, but also to show Islam's dominancy over Judaism and Christianity.
There is a frequent lie that is propagated by many `liberal` thinkers, namely `Jews and Muslims lived peacefully together before the State of Israel`.
Of this falsehood, the famous Oriental scholar, the late Professor Bernard Lewis said:
"The golden age of equal rights was a myth, and belief in it was a result, more than a cause, of Jewish sympathy for Islam. The myth was invented by Jews in 19th century Europe as a reproach to Christians – and taken up by Muslims in our own time as a reproach to Jews."
Anti-Semitism in Islam predates modern Zionism. The life of Jews in Islamic lands was certainly less bloody than their European counterparts, but even so, life for Jews in the Islamic world certainly cannot be seen as the utopia that many liberals purport it to be.
It is therefore imperative that we do not overlook the place of Jews in Islamic theology and history. At Palestinian demonstrations, one regularly hears the Palestinian side chant "Jews, remember the battle of Khaybar, the army of Muhammad is returning".
This refers to the Muslim massacre and expulsion of Jews at Khaybar. The memory therefore of a subjugated and marginalized Jewry in Islamic lands is still central to many of those who are active in the "Palestinian" cause. It's simply a myth to believe that the cause is just political and that it is solely dedicated to establishing a Palestinian state. It is principally a religious cause that is committed to reducing Jews to the status of dhimmi, those who are protected by Islamic rule under a form of social apartheid, where they must pay the jizya, a tax, to be granted some of their rights. In other words, many in the Islamic world want to relegate Jews to no better than second class citizens.
As a result of these factors, it is utterly futile speaking of topographical solutions or future peace plans until we first address the ultimate catalyst for this conflict, which is the Islamic world's refusal to accept the right of a Jewish state to exist and the right of the Jewish people to live without apartheid dhimmitude restrictions.
This war, therefore, is not a conflict of nationalism; let's do away with referring to it as the `Arab-Israeli` conflict. This is an Islamic war against not just the Jewish state, but against the Jewish people and Jewish freedom.