Saturday, May 24, 2008

Nakba

By Arlene Kushner

May 16, 2008

The Nakba – wrought by the founding of Israel and corresponding roughly to Israeli Independence Day – is the purported national "catastrophe" for the Palestinian Arabs. They had been commemorating the 60th Nakba for some days prior, but Thursday was the official day when thousands marched – in Judea and Samaria, in Gaza and in Lebanon. Sirens were sounded and clouds of black balloons, signifying mourning, were released.

Where Palestinians rallying close to the Gaza crossings became rowdy, IDF troops – who were watching in anticipation of threatened trouble – released tear gas and shot live bullets in the air.

The true nakba (catastrophe) is the failure of the Palestinian Arab community to accept Israel's existence as a Jewish state, and to make peace.

When Mahmoud Abbas addressed a Nakba rally in the course of the commemorations, he spoke, ostensibly, on behalf of peace: "After 60 years, I say again that our hands are extended for peace, that is our strategic choice."

This sounds promising, until you examine his words and associated actions more closely.

For Abbas also said:

"Israel has failed in wiping out the memory of the Nakba from the minds of successive Palestinian generations. They [Israel] thought that perhaps the elderly would forget. But today we see that neither the elderly nor the young have forgotten. Everyone remembers the Nakba."

The reason they haven't forgotten the Nakba, of course, is because of the policies promoted by UNRWA for 60 years. The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) – which cares for all refugees in the world except Palestinians – sustains a policy of helping refugees get on with their lives fully. This sometimes means settling them in a new country if they cannot return home.

But UNRWA has declared for all of these years that Palestinians who fled Israel at the time of her founding are to be considered refugees – even if they have acquired new citizenship and have succeeded in their lives in other ways – until they and their children and grandchildren "return" to Israel. For 60 years, the Palestinian "refugees" have been kept in legal and emotional limbo and told that their inability to get on with their lives is Israel's fault.

It is most certainly the case that "return" was not promoted for peaceful purposes: It was conceptualized, quite openly, as a way to destroy Israel from within. Today, if the 4.5 million Palestinian Arabs who call themselves refugees, a vast number of whom have been radicalized, were to enter Israel, it would finish the nation as a Jewish state.

And so, if Abbas talks Nakba even as he talks peace, what is it that he truly has in mind?

He challenges Israel to halt the growth of settlements and all building in eastern Jerusalem, which he says destroys the hope of peace. The implication, as he speaks thus, is that if Israel were to withdraw to the Green Line there could be peace.

But the Nakba mourns the founding of the state WITHIN the Green Line. Yet, he doesn't say that it's time to release this mourning and to enter a new day, with building of a state at Israel's side. He promotes the Nakba.

And here is the clincher: He, along with other Palestinians at the rally on Thursday, signed a document that pledges him to continuing the "struggle" until all of the refugees have been permitted to return.

There is a wealth of material that provides evidence that Abbas is not a partner for peace. But every now and then some incident arises that makes the case so blatantly, so strongly, that no other documentation is needed.

Abbas' signing of this pledge is such an incident. He is not promoting a two-state solution, but rather the destruction as a Jewish state. What is more, the term "struggle" is a euphemism for terrorism and violence. He is not even promoting the return of all refugees via peaceful means.

It is important to realize that, although it is likely that Abbas truly does favor "return," he would have no option other than to support it in any event. The Palestinian political discourse is being set by Hamasthat discourse has radicalized over the last few years with the growing influence of Hamas. If Abbas values his life (quite literally), he cannot promote compromise on this issue.

A somewhat desperate President Bush came to Israel on Wednesday with a new plan: Israel should agree to borders that would provide the Palestinian Authority with a contiguous state (meaning that many settlements would be dismantled). If these borders were satisfactory to Abbas, he would then be encouraged to modify his stance on refugees, which is considered the "hot" issue.

Abbas's actions expose the nonsense inherent in this plan. In fact, Abbas's actions demonstrate the futility of imagining that a genuine peace can be forged between Israel and the Palestinians, either now or for some time to come.

Arlene Kushner, who lives and writes in Jerusalem, has just completed her latest documented report on Fatah for the Center for Near East Policy Research. Her articles have appeared in The Jerusalem Post, Azure, The Jewish Exponent, YNet, and other venues.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.





 

Friday, May 23, 2008

Muhamad Al-Dura and the wars the media made.

Ami Isseroff

22.05. 2008
The Palestinian violence that began in September of 2000 cost over a thousand Israeli lives, and about 4000 Palestinian lives. The violence began with demonstrations on the Temple-Mount al-Aqsa compound that were admittedly stage-managed by Marwan Barghouti, as he admitted an interview with the newspaper Al-Ayyam, London, on September 29, 2001, It was inspired and amplified greatly by the supposed murder of a little child, Muhamad Al Dura, by Israeli troops, on September 30, 2000. France-2 television filmed the child cowering helplessly with his father as the evil Jewish troops shot round after round of semi-automatic fire at him. The films were shown everywhere. Al-Dura's picture appeared everywhere in Gaza and the West Bank, as well as in media around the world. Al-Dura became a martyr to the Palestinian Arab cause, a flame that kindled a huge wave of violence.

The deaths caused by the story of al-Dura were real enough, but in all likelihood, and according to the verdict of a French court of law, the story of al-Dura itself was fabricated by a Palestinian stringer, Talal Abu Rahma, and willingly "improved" and disseminated by Charles Enderlin of France-2. Without the persistence of a handful of "bloggers," notably Phillipe Karsenty and Richard Landes (Augean Stables) and a few others others, the lie would not have been exposed.

We should be careful and conservative in interpreting the meaning of the verdict of the French court. It does not mean that there is proof that al-Dura was certainly not killed by Israel. It does mean, however, that it is not libelous to say so. It means that there are reasonable grounds for assuming that the France-2 film was a fabrication. The film was obviously manipulated so as to hide a part of the truth. The narration announced that Al-Dura was dead, when he was still moving. Parts of the film that were not shown, but were produced in court, indicate that the final version was a fabrication. Parts of the film have apparently disappeared and were not shown in court raise even more suspicion. In justice, one is innocent until proven guilty. World media condemned Israel without any substantial evidence, and helped create a martyr legend that was responsible for many deaths.

The media do not simply report the conflict. They have become actors in the conflict. The probably fabricated death of Al-Dura was only one of several media productions that have had a key role in shaping the conflict. In the Second Lebanon War, the role of the media in lionizing the Hezbollah and villainizing Israel is well documents (see The Media as a Weapon in Asymmetrical Conflict. The media may be proud as they view the results of their efforts - the de facto takeover of Lebanon by the Hezbollah. Following operation Defensive Wall in 2002, the media played a similar role in creating the mythical "Jenin Massacre" in which Israel supposedly "massacred" 500 Palestinians. There is no doubt that international pressure created by the fabricated Jenin "Massacre" influenced decision making in Europe, the United States and Israel.

Unfortunately, exposure of the truth does not prevent repetition of the same fictions, and even perpetuation of the original ones. A few journals published low-key, back page retractions of the 'Jenin Massacre' fable, but the mendacious 'Jenin, Jenin' film continued to win praise and anchored the lie as history. A graduate student, Teddy Katz, created a sensation when he 'exposed' a 'massacre' committed by the Alexandroni brigade at Tantura in 1948. Examination of his evidence, taped interviews, in court showed that Katz had falsified the testimony in his transcripts. There was no massacre. But the 'massacre' made it into the history books and is now cited in Wikipedia and elsewhere. A vicious lie was created from nothing. The exposure of the Jenin farce, and the farcical manipulations of the Hezbollah in Lebanon, did not prevent media from showing fake candle-light meetings held in daylight in Gaza during the recent fabricated electricity shortage. Evidence that the entire 'shortage' was staged appeared in a few Web logs and some lesser journals.

Thus far, Israeli and "Jewish" media are almost alone in reporting the Al-Dura verdict. Among French journals, Liberation appears to be the only one that gave it any coverage. Watch carefully for this story, and see if it is reported and what space it gets. Media do not like to admit they are wrong. After the event, it makes little difference anyhow. Israel attracted severe criticism because a Palestinian who was denied cancer treatment supposedly died while waiting for security clearance. How many people know that the story was a fabrication, and that the "victim" was 'miraculously resurrected'. Mendacious inventions will continue to flourish because for the people who spread them, they are all gain and no pain. Muhammad al Harrani, the more recent version of Muhammad al Dura, will not be denied treatment in Israel because of his lie. That would be against medical ethics. The NGO that circulated this rubbish will not lose their tax exempt status or be penalized in any way for participating, knowingly or through negligence, in the lie. The journalists who made certain not to check the story before circulating it, will not suffer any penalties either.

What is at stake is not the al-Dura incident or another incident. The question of Al-Dura will fade into history.An ominous trend has been created, in which the press and willing historians are fabricating reality. In Orwell's 1984, the government fabricated wars that didn't happen, but we have passed 1984. The importance of the virtual media reality is that it has very real consequences. Israel, and not only Israel, may be defeated as the result of an endless river of spin, manufactured by a greedy and unscrupulous media establishment that is being manipulated by terrorists.

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2008.

 

50,000 Arabs Left Gaza, Many More on the Way.

by Hillel Fendel

 

PA prime minister Salam Fayyad has confirmed that 50,000 Arabs have left Gaza since Hamas took over.  He said many times that amount would like to go if they could.

Speaking on Tuesday at a conference in Bethlehem designed to attract investors to the PA-controlled areas, Fayyad said that "hundreds of thousands" of Arabs are seeking ways to follow the 50,000 who have already left. 

Fayyad linked the exodus to the fighting between Hamas and Fatah, which resulted in the Hamas take-over of Gaza and a sharp decline in international aid to Gaza.  PA sources admit that the clash has caused a great rift among the Arabs of the PA-controlled areas (Gaza, Judea, and Samaria), weakened the PA's international status, shaken internal security - and brought about increased emigration.

 

Conference organizer Hassan Abu Libdeh agreed: "There is a Palestinian brain drain caused by the difficulties of living here," he said.

A year ago, in May 2007, the Mufti of Jerusalem for the PA, Sheikh Muhammed Amin Hussein, issued a religious ruling banning emigration from "the land of Palestine."  Hussein acknowledged in his ruling at the time that many young Arabs are flooding foreign embassies in an effort to receive residency permits.

 

Hillel Fendel

 

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

 

Thursday, May 22, 2008

PA Media: 1948 Refugees Dispatched by Arabs

by Ezra HaLevi

A recent report by a senior Palestinian Authority journalist in the PA daily Al-Ayyam documented the decision by masses of Arabs in 1948 to leave their homes in the hopes that they would return once Israel was defeated.

"The Arabs who became refugees in 1948 were not expelled by Israel but left on their own to facilitate the destruction of Israel," the senior PA journalist wrote, according to Palestinian Media Watch, which monitors the Arabic language PA media. "This plan to leave Israel was initiated by the Arab states fighting Israel, who promised the people they would be able to return to their homes in a few days once Israel was defeated."

PMW points out that the Al-Ayyam article's conclusion that Arab states are responsible for the Arab refugee problem undercuts a backbone of Arab propaganda claiming that Israel expelled hundreds of thousands of Arabs in 1948. "In recent years, PMW has documented an increasing willingness among Palestinians to openly blame the Arab states and not Israel," the report concludes, citing five sources and witnesses' accounts conveyed in the PA media to support the claim:

  • Jawad Al Bashiti, PA Arab journalist in Jordan, writing in Al-Ayyam, May 13, 2008
     
    "Remind me of one real cause from all the factors that have caused the "Palestinian Catastrophe" [the establishment of Israel and the creation of refugee problem], and I will remind you that it still exists... The reasons for the Palestinian Catastrophe are the same reasons that have produced and are still producing our Catastrophes today.

    "During the Little Catastrophe, meaning the Palestinian Catastrophe, the following happened: the first war between Arabs and Israel had started and the "Arab Salvation Army" came and told the Palestinians: 'We have come to you in order to liquidate the Zionists and their state. Leave your houses and villages, you will return to them in a few days safely. Leave them so we can fulfill our mission (destroy Israel) in the best way and so you won't be  hurt.' It became clear already then, when it was too late, that the support of the Arab states (against Israel) was a big illusion. Arabs fought as if intending to cause the "Palestinian Catastrophe" 
  • Mahmoud Al-Habbash, PA Journalist in PA-run daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, December 13, 2006 

    "...The leaders and the elites promised us at the beginning of the "Catastrophe" in 1948, that the duration of the exile will not be long, and that it will not last more than a few days or months, and afterwards the refugees will return to their homes, which most of them did not leave only until they put their trust in those 'Arkuvian' promises made by the leaders and the political elites. Afterwards, days passed, months, years and decades, and the promises were lost with the strain of the succession of events..." [Term "Arkuvian," is after Arkuv - a figure from Arab tradition - who was known for breaking his promises and for his lies."] "
  • Asmaa Jabir Balasimah, Woman who fled Israel in 1948, Al-Ayyam, May 16, 2006

    "We heard sounds of explosions and of gunfire at the beginning of the summer in the year of the 'Catastrophe' [1948]. They told us: The Jews attacked our region and it is better to evacuate the village and return, after the battle is over. And indeed there were among us [who fled Israel] those who left a fire burning under the pot, those who left their flock [of sheep] and those who left their money and gold behind, based on the assumption that we would return after a few hours." 
  • Son of man who fled in 1948, PA TV 1999

    An Arab viewer called Palestinian Authority TV and quoted his father, saying that in 1948 the Arab District Officer ordered all Arabs to leave Palestine or be labeled traitors. In response, Arab MK Ibrahim Sarsur, then Head of the Islamic Movement in Israel, cursed those leaders, thus acknowledging Israel's historical record.
     
    "Mr. Ibrahim [Sarsur]. I address you as a Muslim. My father and grandfather told me that during the "Catastrophe" [in 1948], our district officer issued an order that whoever stays in Palestine and in Majdel [near Ashkelon - Southern Israel] is a traitor, he is a traitor."
     
    Response from Ibrahim Sarsur, now MK, then Head of the Islamic Movement in Israel:
     "The one who gave the order forbidding them to stay there bears guilt for this, in this life and the Afterlife throughout history until Resurrection Day."
  • Fuad Abu Higla, senior PA journalist, Al-Hayat Al-Jadidah, March 19, 2001

    Abu Higla, then a regular columnist in the official PA daily Al Hayat Al Jadida, wrote an article before an Arab Summit, which criticized the Arab leaders. One of the failures he cited, in the name of a prisoner, was that an earlier generation of Arab leaders "forced" them to leave Israel in 1948, again placing the blame for the flight on the Arab leaders.
     
    "I have received a letter from a prisoner in Acre prison, to the Arab summit:
    To the [Arab and Muslim] Kings and Presidents, poverty is killing us, the symptoms are exhausting us and the souls are leaving our body, yet you are still searching for the way to provide aid, like one who is looking for a needle in a haystack or like the armies of your predecessors in the year of 1948, who forced us to leave [Israel], on the pretext of clearing the battlefields of civilians...
    So what will your summit do now?"

PMW Director Itamar Marcus believes it is critical that the admission of PA Arabs to the root causes of the refugee issue be brought to light, as the matter is not only at the heart of negotiations, but has become a rallying point for anti-Israel activists seeking to flood the Jewish state with the descendants of those who fled originally. "It is clear from these statements that there is general acknowledgement among Palestinians that Arab leaders bear responsibility for the mass flight of Arabs from Israel in 1948, and were the cause of the 'refugee' problem," Marcus said. "Furthermore, the fact that this information has been validated by public figures and refugees in  the Palestinian Authority media itself confirms that this responsibility is well-known - even though for propaganda purposes its leaders continue to blame Israel publicly for 'the expulsion.' "

Ezra HaLevi

 

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The State of Israel has packed more history into her sixty years on the planet than many other nations have in six hundred

 

By Andrew Roberts, The Daily Express -- May 8, 2008

The State of Israel has packed more history into her sixty years on the planet  which she celebrates this month  than many other nations have in six hundred. There are many surprising things about this tiny, feisty, brave nation the size of Wales, but the most astonishing is that she has lived to see this birthday at all. The very day after the new state was established, she was invaded by the armies of no fewer than five Arab countries, and she has been struggling for her right to life ever since.

From Morocco to Afghanistan, from the Caspian Sea to Aden, the 5.25 million square miles of territory belonging to members of the Arab League is home to over 330 million people, whereas Israel covers only eight thousand square miles, and is home to seven million citizens, one-fifth of whom are Arabs. The Jews of the Holy Land are thus surrounded by hostile states 650 times their size in territory and sixty times their population, yet their last, best hope of ending two millennia of international persecution  the State of Israel  has somehow survived.

When during the Second World War, the island of Malta came through three terrible years of bombardment and destruction, it was rightly awarded the George Medal for bravery: today Israel should be awarded a similar decoration for defending democracy, tolerance and Western values against a murderous onslaught that has lasted twenty times as long.

Jerusalem is the site of the Temple of Solomon and Herod. The stones of a palace erected by King David himself are even now being unearthed just outside the walls of Jerusalem. Everything that makes a nation state legitimate
blood shed, soil tilled, two millennia of continuous residence, international agreements argues for Israel's right to exist, yet that is still denied by the Arab League. For many of their governments, which are rich enough to have solved the Palestinian refugee problem decades ago, it is useful to have Israel as a scapegoat to divert attention from the tyranny, failure and corruption of their own regimes.

The tragic truth is that it suits Arab states very well to have the Palestinians endure permanent refugee status, and whenever Israel puts forward workable solutions they have been stymied by those who interests put the destruction of Israel before the genuine well-being of the Palestinians. Both King Abdullah I of Jordan and Anwar Sadat of Egypt were assassinated when they attempted to come to some kind of sane accommodation with a country that most sane people now accept is not going away.

The process of creating a Jewish homeland in an area where other peoples were already living though far fewer of them than anti-Israel propagandists claim was always going to be a complicated and delicate business, and one for which Britain as the Mandated power had a profound responsibility, and about which since the Balfour Declaration of 1917 she had made solemn promises.

Yet instead of keeping a large number of troops on the ground throughout the birth pangs of the State of Israel, Britain hurriedly withdrew all her forces virtually overnight on 14 May 1948, thus facilitating the Arab invasions the very day, one of which was actually commanded by a former British Army officer, John Glubb (known as Glubb Pasha). Less than four years earlier, Britain had landed division after victorious division in Normandy, now "Partition and flee" was the Attlee government's ignominious policy, whose consequences are still plaguing the world half a century later in Kashmir and the Middle East.

"We owe to the Jews," wrote Winston Churchill in 1920, "a system of ethics which, even if it were entirely separated from the supernatural, would be incomparably the most precious possession of mankind, worth in fact the fruits of all wisdom and learning put together."
The Jewish contribution to finance, science, the arts, academia, commerce and industry, literature, philanthropy and politics has been astonishing relative to their tiny numbers. Although they make up less than half of one per-cent of the world's population, between 1901 and 1950 Jews won 14% of all the Nobel Prizes awarded for Literature and Science, and between 1951 and 2000 Jews won 32% of the Nobel Prizes for Medicine, 32% for Physics, 39% for Economics and 29% for Science. This, despite so many of their greatest intellects dying in the gas chambers.

Civilization owes Judaism a debt it can never repay, and support for the right of a Jewish homeland to exist is the bare minimum we can provide. Yet we tend to treat Israel like a leper on the international scene, merely for defending herself, and threatening her with academic boycotts if she builds a separation wall that has so far reduced suicide bombings by 95% over three years. It is a disgrace that no senior member of the Royal Family has ever visited Israel, as though the country is still in quarantine after sixty years.

After the Holocaust, the Jewish people recognised that they had to have their own state, a homeland where they could forever be safe from a repetition of such horrors. Putting their trust in Western Civilisation was never again going to be enough. Since then, Israel has had to fight no fewer than five major wars for her very existence. She has been on the front line in the War against Terror and has been fighting the West's battles for it, decades before 9/11 or 7/7 ever happened. Radical Islam is never going to accept the concept of an Israeli State, so the struggle is likely to continue for another sixty years, but the Jews know that that is less dangerous than entrusting their security to anyone else.

Very often in Britain, especially when faced with the overwhelmingly anti-Israeli bias that is endemic in our liberal media and the BBC, we fail to ask ourselves what we would have done placed in their position? The population of the United Kingdom of 63 million is nine times that of Israel. In July 2006, to take one example at random, Hizbullah crossed the border of Lebanon into Israel and killed eight patrolmen and kidnapped two others, and that summer fired four thousand Katyusha rockets into Israel which killed a further forty-three civilians.


Now, if we multiply those numbers by nine to get the British equivalent, just imagine what WE would do if a terrorist organization based as close as Calais were to fire thirty-six thousand rockets into Sussex and Kent, killing 387 British civilians, after killing seventy-two British servicemen in an ambush and capturing eighteen. There is absolutely no lengths to which our Government would not go to protect British subjects under those circumstances, and quite right too. Why should Israel be expected to behave any differently?

Last month I visited Auschwitz-Birkenau, researching a book about the Second World War. Walking along a line of huts and the railway siding where their forebears had been worked and starved and beaten and gassed to death, were a group of Jewish schoolchildren, one of whom was carrying over his shoulder the Israeli flag, a blue star of David on white background. It was a profoundly moving sight, for it was the sovereign independence represented by that flag which guarantees that the obscenity of genocide
which killed six million people in Auschwitz and camps like it will never again befall the Jewish people.

Happy birthday, Israel and Shalom.

 

Andrew Roberts

 Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

It's Not the Occupation, It's Islam.

by Carlos

 

Palestinians have successfully sold the notion that terrorism is really not terrorism but 'resistance to an occupation.' In many quarters this has become a dogma not subject to question. It's important to pay close attention to what Palestinian leaders themselves are saying and doing.

 

Just yesterday Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar proclaimed that the new Palestinian state will occupy not just parts but 'all' of historic Palestine, including 'Jaffa, Lod, and Haifa,' major Israeli cities. He said once again that Hamas will never recognize Israel and 'will continue to persecute the Zionists wherever they are, after we prove that the Zionist army can be defeated - contrary to what was believed in the past, that it is impossible to beat the Zionists.'

 

Could it be any clearer that 'occupation' is code for Israel's existence, and that is what Palestinians are really 'resisting'?

 

Zahar went further, saying that the 'right of return of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians is closer than ever,' a formula for turning what is now Israel into another Palestinian state. 'After we defeat the Zionists,' he went on, 'we will persecute them to eternity, and the sun of the freedom and independence of the Palestinians will burn all of the Zionists.'

 

It doesn't sound like he's getting ready for two states any time soon. At least not two states one of which is Jewish. And we know what will happen to a Jewish minority living in Greater Palestine. Zahar and his troops 'will persecute them to eternity.'

 

Zahar is also on record as saying that after the happy day arrives when Israel is destroyed, his people will turn to spreading Islam throughout the West, using force if that's what it will take. Hamas has even established training camps in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, a sign of its broadening international vision.

 

What we are seeing is not a war of Palestinians against an occupation. It is a war of Islam against the Jewish state. And this war has the potential to widen beyond the boundaries of Israel and its immediate neighbors.

             

 

It is already taking an ominous turn. 14 people were wounded, among them a mother and her three-year-old daughter, when a Grad rocket hit a shopping center in Ashkelon. At least two women and two children were wounded seriously. Islamic Jihad took responsibility.

 

A Grad rocket is heavier and much more deadly than a Qassam, and has a longer range. The favorite target of the Palestinians up to now has been Sderot, which, contrary to the impression some people seem to have, is not a settlement but a city in southern Israel. Ashkelon is considerably farther away. It has been hit by rockets before, but these Grads can reach Ashkelon much more easily and with more shattering effect.

 

Israel has reason to believe these Grads are coming from Iran. According to former deputy defense minister Ephraim Sneh, 'It's part of the Iranian war against Israel.'

 

Iran and Israel are already at war, but this war has been going only one way: Iran has been attacking Israel through its Palestinian proxies.

 

This is not even a suicide bombing. This is a war. It is not Palestinians fighting an occupation: if that were the case, they would not be trying to destroy Israeli cities and make areas within Israel uninhabitable. If Palestinians simply wanted the occupation to end, they would not be sending the clear signal that the more land Israel gives back, the closer the rockets will come to Israel's central population centers.

 

Listen to the Palestinian leaders. Listen to the Iranian leaders. They will tell you what this war is about. It is not a war for the 1967 borders. It is a continuation of the war of 1948, when Palestinians unequivocally rejected the UN plan for a 'two-state solution.' This war drew an infusion of energy from the Islamic revival, and it is now a religious war, rooted in the historical animosity between Muslims and Jews ever since Muhammad drove out the Arabian Jewish tribes. The earliest Islamic sources, including the Qur'an and the original biographies of Muhammad, are full of expressions of hatred against Jews, and preachers in mosques frequently use these references to condemn Jews today. These sources constitute the theological underpinning of a war that draws its fire from a religious zeal that cannot be quenched.

 

Sunni and Shiite Islam unite on one issue: a Jewish entity in the heart of the Muslim world is an abomination and an offense against Islam. It reverses the direction of Muhammad's conquests, and so opposes the natural order. It must be exterminated. Neither Hamas nor Iran makes any attempt to soften this message, or any pretense of supporting two states.

 

This war is more than a struggle for land. Land can be shared, but a divine mandate cannot be compromised. Only an examination of this war's religious roots will yield a full understanding of it. But this is an ugly truth that many are loath to face. Therefore terms like 'Islamophobia' have gained currency, a politically loaded, intellectually dishonest word that is meant to suggest that anyone who dares to criticize Islam must be motivated not by reason but by fear, and hence by racism. The word 'Islamophobia' itself implies that Islam is to be held above criticism, and equates criticism of a religion with bigotry. This is a clear attempt to stifle free inquiry into Islam's contributions to the problems we face today, and it must be rejected.

 

Criticism of Islam is not the same as anti-Muslim prejudice. The object of the former is a belief system; the object of the latter is people. It is possible to criticize a religion without fomenting hatred against the members of that religion. In fact, this is precisely the task that confronts us today. A religion is a set of beliefs, ideas, and practices. People are individuals.

 

We can, and we must, consider the destructive consequences of ideas. But if we use that as an excuse to justify a hatred of people, we become just like what we claim to oppose. It requires maturity and self-examination, but we must always meet people as individuals, never assuming without evidence what is in a person's heart, and never making generalizations condemning people we have not met and do not know. Muslims as people vary greatly, and many do not adhere to the most extreme forms of Islam (often misleadingly called 'Islamism,' as if they were not genuine forms of Islam, which they are. It is highly presumptuous for any non-Muslim to tell Iran and Saudi Arabia that they do not really practice Islam but some strange concoction called 'Islamism,' a Western term that is meaningless to Muslims).

 

There is as much variation within the Muslim community as within any other community on earth. Let us always judge others by their actions, not by our preconceptions.

 

Bearing this distinction in mind, we must make a place for the legitimate examination of Islam and its influence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We need this kind of honest and exacting dialogue, or we risk falling into one of two extremes. We may find ourselves returning religious hatred with religious hatred, as some do who now call for a Christian crusade against the Muslim world. Or we may fall into the comforting but dangerous deception that all religions are really the same, share the same values and proclaim the same message. Self-deception can never save us from conflict and will not save the world. But returning hatred with hatred will also surely destroy it.

 

So those who want to spare the world from the ravages of religious extremism face a tough challenge. We need the courage to be honest in naming what we face, even though by doing so we risk excommunication by the politically correct orthodoxy. But we also need the self-discipline to keep from becoming like what we see. We cannot fight darkness with darkness, but only with the light of reason and of a genuine spirituality that does not justify hatred based upon religious and ethnic distinctions.

 

And this is precisely the point: When religion does make a virtue of racist hatred, as Islam certainly does when it wars against Israel, then masking that fact with obfuscating language like 'Islamism' and 'Islamophobia' protects us from facing an inconvenient truth. Back in the day when Christian anti-Semitism was dominant, Christianity, not 'Christianism,' was responsible. Fortunately Christianity has reformed and has greatly changed. The world still waits for an Islamic reformation, but the signs are not encouraging.

 

If those who oppose racism really mean what they say, then it's about time they faced these issues honestly, instead of using the charge of racism to silence those who point to racism in very uncomfortable places.

 

Carlos

 

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

 

Sources:

 

Gunter, Lorne. 'As Goest Israel....' National Post, May 5, 2008.

 

Jerusalem Post Staff. '15 Wounded as Grad Rocket Strikes Ashkelon Shopping Mall.' Jerusalem Post, May 14, 2008.

 

Jerusalem Post Staff. ' Zahar: 'We Will Persecute the Zionists'.' Jerusalem Post, May 14, 2008.

 

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