Monday, July 18, 2005

The Anti-Semitic Basis of Palestinian Nationalism

Many people tend to derive a feeling of comfort by looking at Muslim terrorist groups as being politically motivated and not religious. Since the issue of Muslim terrorism is a whole topic on its own, I will only be examining the topic of Palestinian terrorist groups, such as Hamas. For some people, it is easier to declare that Hamas, for example, is politically motivated by Israel’s “occupation of Palestinian lands,” something seen as an injustice towards Palestinians, than to recognize the religious component of “the Palestinian struggle.” If the homicidal actions of Hamas are tied in with Israel’s so-called occupation of these sites, then the remedy is political and all that has to be done is for Israel to pull out of these areas and everything should become peaceful. This is relatively easy, at least in theory.

However, the resistance against the State of Israel is pre-existent to 1967, which is commonly mistaken today as being the catalyst for so-called Palestinian Nationalism. Arab resistance to Israel is even pre-existent to 1948, although at the very beginning of Zionism there were pro-Israel Arab voices, but were essentially short-lived. If we bring this image into focus, we can see a constant; resistance against Israel's existence is the norm. The Arab Riots of 1929 were also intended on seeing to it that Jewish immigration into Palestine would cease, it was a pre-Israel period form of intolerance for a Jewish state.

Let’s zoom out a little bit. Let’s look at Muslim history from a bird’s eye point of view and randomly choose a year in that time line. Now let’s say that in that randomly selected year that Jews, be they from Christian or from Muslim countries, wanted to establish a Jewish state. In the period after Islam had already anchored itself in the Middle East, what would have been the Muslim reaction to a Jewish state at any given point in time? Can we imagine that at any historical period of Islam that the Muslims of the Middle East would have supported the notion of a Jewish state? If we consider that the Muslim leaders, even the ones that were (relatively) respectful of the Jews, were in support of the concept known as dhimmitude, which was Jewish, Christian, and Sabian (another religious group) civil obedience to the Muslim state. Dhimmitude composed a social ladder in these Muslims countries, which by the way, is necessary for a functioning society, which only allowed limited movement for Jews (and Christians). Jews’ civil rights generally fluctuated from being treated decently to being treated like dogs, but the academic notion is that life was better for Jews there than under Christendom, which is generally true. Nevertheless, that is not the topic. The Muslim social order would not and could not have tolerated a Jewish state, which meant Jewish sovereignty and the negation of the status quo of dhimmitude, and hence a Jewish state becomes unacceptable in Muslim eyes. The very Muslim teachings that slavery, or ownership of one person over another, is not to be tolerated by the religion of Islam does not take into account that dhimmitude is indeed a form of this very slavery, and creates a classist situation.

So we are begging the question; why is there intolerance to a Jewish state? Is it the actions of the Jewish state that make it unacceptable, or is it the notion of its existence that plays out against the will of a contemporary manifestation of dhimmitude that makes Israel unacceptable? Another question that must be begged, if Islam's attitude towards Jews and Judaism is what makes Israel unacceptable, what motivation do non-Muslims have when applying the same criticisms? What we have is a situation where non-Muslims are responding to the anti-Israel Islam-based propaganda coming from the Muslim world and adopting it as their own argumentation. Another intersting thing to ponder is that Europe, with its own brand of Christianity-related anti-Semitism, as well responds to the particular Islam-based "arguments" and incorporates it. This is the basis of the contemporary European anti-Semitism discussion. What we get is a strange alliance between different forms of anti-Semitism. This is not too far-fetched, considering that during World War 2, Hitler flew to Jerusalem where he met with the Grand Mufti, Hajj Amin Al-Husseini, and coordinated spreading his campaign to North Africa and the Middle East. If the war had lasted another ten or so years, maybe less, it would be no surprise to have seen the Holocaust spread into the Muslim world. Perhaps then they would not have been able to deny it.

Palestinian Nationalism and Dhimmitude – What’s the Connection?

If dhimmitude is the status quo of Jews in so-called Muslim lands, and the dhimmi’s attainment of independence and sovereignty from the ruling Muslim body presents a threat to that social order, then the Muslim body will issue a defense mechanism. We can picture it like the human body, which contains many substances and organisms within it. Their presence in the body generally does not create a disturbance, but when they move into sectors where they are not supposed to be, or they began to act in ways that they previously did not, the balance is disturbed and the body takes the means necessary to return the body to order. Regardless of internal conflict of policy on the Jewish side of things, the State of Israel meant that Jews would have sovereignty in their land in the Middle East. The very religion of Islam claims that the Jews gave up their right to their holy land and to their covenant with G-d after committing a few cardinal sins, namely corrupting the Torah and worshipping the Golden Calf. So on top of dhimmitude, in Muslim eyes, the Jews have absolutely no right to establish a state in a land that they lost due to their idolatrous sins and rebellion against G-d, a claim that is made necessary by Islam’s desperate attempt to show that Islam has replaced Judaism.

There is a particularly disturbing and anti-Semitic notion out there that Zionism is the root cause of Muslim intolerance of Israel, and that Jews and Muslims were at peace under Muslim sovereignty. In other words, dhimmitude might have subjugated Jews under Muslims, but it was far better than life under Christendom, and dhimmitude was a naturally occuring system. Quoting Malka Hillel Shulewitz, author of "The Forgotten Millions," "Whether we are in Judea, Samaria or the Golan Heights is irrelevant except in so far as our presence makes us less vulnerable to Moslem attack and Islam's 'final solution' - a 'natural' return to dhimmitude."

Enter the Palestinians

There was no talk about Palestinian nationalism until 1967. The only constant coming from the Arab Muslim world before 1967 was the destruction of the State of Israel. So when all the previous attempts failed, the Arab world was in need of a new method that would bring them nearer to their goals of destroying Israel. It would have been easier for them to accept Israel into the neighborhood of the Middle East, but clearly they had not yet reached that level of cognition, and therefore wasted their resources. In the context of dhimmitude, if Jewish sovereignty is intolerable, then how much more intolerable is the emergence of a Muslim Arab population under Jewish rule? Not only does Islam consider Judaism a dilapidated religion, Arabs xenophobically claimed that the European Jews were not really Jews due to their European ethnicity. All in all, white Jews had sovereignty over Arab Muslims, who are the same people from which Muhammad descended, and this comes together to make quite an intolerable situation.

Let us look at a fatwa issued by Dr. Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, titled “Defense of the Muslim Lands; The First Obligation After Faith,” in which he stated,

"Jihad Against the Kuffar is of two Types: Offensive Jihad (where the enemy is attacked in his own territory) ... [and] Defensive Jihad. This is expelling the Kuffar from our land, and it is Fard Ayn [personal religious obligation on Muslim individuals], a compulsory duty upon all... Where the Kuffar [infidels] are not gathering to fight the Muslims, the fighting becomes Fard Kifaya [religious obligation on Muslim society] with the minimum requirement of appointing believers to guard borders, and the sending of an army at least once a year to terrorise the enemies of Allah. It is a duty of the Imam to assemble and send out an army unit into the land of war once or twice every year. Moreover, it is the responsibility of the Muslim population to assist him, and if he does not send an army he is in sin. - And the Ulama have mentioned that this type of jihad is for maintaining the payment of Jizya. The scholars of the principles of religion have also said: "Jihad is Daw'ah with a force, and is obligatory to perform with all available capabilities, until there remains only Muslims or people who submit to Islam."

* Note: The word "Islam" means submission, and is generally rendered "submission to G-d." However, Dr. Azzam specifically mentions Islam in the context of submission to Islam and not submission to G-d. This reinforces that Islam is not concerned with peoples' universal acceptance of G-d's sovereignty, but of the universal acceptance of Islam's sovereignty over people.

A clever eye could quickly assert that this quote is possibly representative only of certain periods of time and does not apply to Islam when it is in normative relationships with its neighbors. There might be truth to that, but the point is that the quote unhesitatingly correlates religious duty with ownership of land, including the requirement to “terrorise the enemies of All-h,” that is, the inhabitants of the land. Islam’s relationship with land is that its goal is to conquer areas that are estranged to Islam, or areas in which non-Muslims live. Contrast this to Judaism’s view of land ownership, for example, which is limited to the Land of Israel as stated in the Torah. Since G-d promises the Land of Israel to the Jews, and the religion of Islam believes that all lands must accept Islam, the land of Israel is an area contested between Judaism and Islam. Clearly, since Islam believes that all lands are to be under Muslim sovereignty, the Land of Israel’s location in the Middle East is irrelevant to Islam’s claim; the sphere of “Muslim control” will always intersect with the Land holy to Jews. In short, Muslim land claims are drawn to the Land of Israel, wherever it may be. In reality, it is no wonder that Islam emerged in the Middle East, in the physical vicinity of the Land of Israel, and not somewhere far removed.

Consider also this verse from Dr. Azzam:

... the Ulama [pious scholars] of the four Mathhabs (Maliki, Hanafi, Shaffie and Hanbali), the Muhadditheen, and the Tafseer commentators [classical Muslim commentators of the Qur'an], are agreed that in all Islamic ages, Jihad under this condition becomes Fard Ayn [personal religious obligation] upon the Muslims of the land which the Kuffar [infidels] have attacked and upon the Muslims close by, where the children will march forth without the permission of the parents, the wife without the permission of her husband and the debtor without the permission of the creditor. And, if the Muslims of this land cannot expel the Kuffar because of lack of forces, because they slacken, are indolent or simply do not act, then the Fard Ayn obligation spreads in the shape of a circle from the nearest to the next nearest. If they too slacken or there is again a shortage of manpower, then it is upon the people behind them, and on the people behind them, to march forward. This process continues until it becomes Fard Ayn [a personal religious obligation] upon the whole world.

It is important to note that much can be said about this topic; there are many Muslims that disagree with these concepts, or at least the interpretations. However, it is important to understand that when it comes to the Palestinian attacks on Israeli’s, not only is there a correlation between the (baseless) political claims to the (Land) State of Israel made by Palestinians (and other Arabs), the claims are made in accordance with the attitude laid down by varying Muslim traditions, in this case, the unilateral agreement by the four major schools of Islamic thought and their commentators. Consider that when the Palestinian media broadcasts Muslim sermons, the nature of the message, almost always quoting from the Q’uran itself or commentaries (Hadith) attacks Jews as a religious community and people as a whole. The very driving force of Palestinian nationalism is not just the establishment of a Palestinian state, but the establishment of a Palestinian state in place of Israel, which is consistent with the goals of the religion of Islam as expressed by Dr. Azzam in his commentary on Fard Ayn. The goal is not to have a state next to another state, but it is to drive the infidels from the land, giving the child, wife, and debtor free reign in the name of destroying them. Is this really the Palestinians talking, or is it the nearly fourteen centuries of the Muslim domination of the Middle East, and specifically Jewish lands, that has become the status quo?

The Difference between Christendom and Islam

It can be said that the post-destruction of the Second Temple takeover of the Middle East had two general chapters; chapter one, Christianity, chapter two, Islam. Chapter one, from the year 70 until about 622 CE, and when Islam became the leading element opened the second chapter. Chapter two went from roughly that time period until the Enlightenment of Christendom in the early 19th century. One view of history has dumped both periods into one as simply “post Second Temple,” but it becomes easier to understand if we view chapter one and chapter two separately.