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The Cultural-Historical Debate behind the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

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It is so mistakenly common to refer to the “Middle East conflict” as the “Arab-Israeli conflict.” In fact, in the Middle East there are so many wars, quarrels, conflicts and violence, representing perhaps the pick of world regions. The Arab-Israeli conflict is only one of them and the less lethal. This is one of the important facts to understand.

However, it has a “bad reputation” of the highest media attention. Why? Because the Palestinians have the best public relations machinery, perhaps ever in history, and they have succeeded to bring their case to the core of world attention at the expense of so many severer cases in the Middle East, let alone in the world.    

It is a common belief that the “Arab-Israeli conflict” is a conflict of two peoples fighting over the same piece of land and therefore it is one of nationalism. However, this belief stems from misunderstanding that leads to misperceptions, since the framework is more complicated. This conflict has many facets and dimensions. It is basically religious-cultural, a Muslim-Jewish conflict, which is Islam vs. Judaism; it is cloaked in political-ideological dimension, which is Arab nationalism vs. Jewish Zionism; and it is manifested as a territorial-national one, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

It is highly difficult for Westerners to internalize the real issues of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. On the face of it, the objective is to find the formula of conflict resolution, by bridging the gaps between the attitudes of the parties; or at best to settle the issues down as a sort of conflict management. However, after so many years of negotiations, mediations, academic and political proposals, only little progress has been achieved, and amazingly there is still hope that a political arrangement, a magic formula to its solution, can be worked out.

Now there is the next round. The Israeli government and the Palestinian National Authority have agreed to engage in direct peace talks. However, neither side has expressed any enthusiasm or hopes to find a resolution. They just wish to satisfy the US administration, to show willingness to gather around for talks, to be on the diplomatic track because the US wants them to do so, but not to end the talks by peace treaty. Peace talks are the American solution, which gives the US the appearance of seeking a solution to settle the Israeli-Palestinian problem. The comings and goings of American diplomats, the occasional photo op with leaders give legitimacy, status and standing. The US produces another pyrotechnical exposition which leads to nowhere. Talks do not solve the issues, but give the impression of progressing forward, thus, they become an end in itself and not the means to achieve peace.

Specifically, there are crucial constraints: first, there is no united, accepted, recognized Palestinian leadership, which can carry out the burdens of the resolution and impose it on the Palestinian society. Arafat had it but he did not want to. Abu Mazen has not the ability to achieve it and he does not want it. Second, any agreement with Abu Mazen, a weak and un-authoritative leader, is not acceptable by Hamas and other groups. Third, the Palestinians want it all and no less than all. They have never come to any compromise and they still do not recognize Israel as a nation deserving a statehood in this territory.

Under these circumstances any agreement could not bring a resolution but perhaps exacerbates the Palestinian situation, which will drip and intensify the hostilities against Israel. One of the main reasons is that whatever they do, all the atrocities they perform, and their stubborn refusal is hailed with applauses and consent by the international community, mainly Europe, with donations of billions of dollars.

Under these circumstances, why should they change their attitudes and policies? They win big time, and they have all the patience (Sabr) and steadfastness (Sumud) waiting for Israel’s collapse. The billions of dollars given to them by the international community, really at the expense of those who really need it, empower the Palestinians to continue on the road of stubbornness and extremism, with good life and high standard of living compare to at least 80 states around the world and one billion of people, including many in the Arab and Muslim states. Most of the money donated goes to corruption of the political elite and to terrorism.

All that one has to do to realize this situation, is to visit the Palestinians’ towns and villages, to see the comparatively high standard of living and then to travel to most of African, Asian and South-American states for comparison. All these, bearing in mind that the Palestinians get the flow of money from outside, being defined as wretched miserable people under Israel’s occupation and apartheid.

Very few people around the world really know the situation: 94-96 percent of the Palestinians are not, are absolutely not under Israel’s “occupation” or “control.” They live under their own people control and leadership in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority. Indeed, Israel control part of the territory, but very small part of Palestinians. Most of the Palestinians live their own life under their government and regimes, without any Israel’s interference or control. Moreover, had they stop terrorism and violence, and had they proceed with Oslo Accords, they would already have most of the territory, except of very few territories under dispute.                      

Why so little progress has been achieved? The so many failures of the past have occurred because of profound divergences in the interests and the objectives. The failure is based on the international understanding that the main issues of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict are three: a) recognized borders acceptable by the parties; b) the ‘right of return’ of the Palestinian refugees; and c) Jerusalem issue. However, these are the symptoms, the by-product of the real issue, which is the recognition of Israel as a Jewish Zionist sovereign state. Here, the Palestinians’ refusal is total.  

This is the utmost important issue, and the refusal of the Palestinians to recognize it is the chief reason why the conflict is still here with us. Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), a Holocaust denier and abhor extremist, who nevertheless is considered moderate, has reiterated this view for so many times: “I will never recognize Israel as the state and the Jewish people as a nation.” Time and again he declares that the peace talks are not the goal, but just another stage in the Palestinian attempt to undermine Israel’s legitimacy as a state and present it as a “racist, apartheid state.”

The strategy of denial of the Jewish character of Israel is manifested in the conception that Israel should, in fact, become a bi-national state, or a State of all its Nationals, but never a Jewish state, living beside a Palestinian state, clean of Jews. This in fact the Palestinian formula to what they call “the States Solution.” The immediate end-result would be two Palestinian states, with perhaps a Jewish minority in one of them; and in the not far away future, three Palestinian states, after Jordan becomes Palestinian, out of demography and security weakness in the absence of Israel’s support.

Therefore, he who wishes to solve the conflict must start here. Only after recognizing Israel as a Jewish Zionist state and then the solemn declaration of the Palestinians to end of all sorts of hostilities, and agreeing to peaceful means of living together; only then, the other issues of borders, refugees, and Jerusalem are to be negotiated and decided upon.

The issue of recognition is conspicuous by analyzing contemporary Palestinian politics with its two main strategies: The first, the secular one, which is national-territorial, elaborated by PLO-Fath; the second, the religious one, which is religious-cultural, elaborated by Hamas. However, both approaches are similar in their total demand to obliterating the State of Israel as a Jewish Zionist state. Both wish to establish the Palestinian State on the entire territory “from the Sea to the River;” and both resist any possibility of Jewish existence as a nation entitled to a state. They only differ in the tactics and the means to achieve it, and as of the future status of the Palestinian state, being religious or secular, although not exactly in the Western terms.

These two attitudes are exemplified by a clear ideology of genocide and politicide, in the Palestinian National Covenant and the Hamas Charter.

The Palestinian National Covenant states:

Palestine is the homeland of the Palestinian Arab people (Article 1). The Arab Palestinian people is the only legitimate owner of his land, and will determine himself politically only after the total liberation of his land according to its will and decision (Article 3). Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. Thus it is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase. The Palestinians assert their absolute determination and firm resolution to continue their armed struggle for the total liberation of Palestine (Article 9).

The liberation of Palestine means to repel the Zionist and imperialist aggression, and aims at the elimination of Zionism from Palestine in its entirety (Article 15). The partition of Palestine in 1947 and the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 are entirely illegal (Article 19). The Balfour Declaration [1917], the Mandate for Palestine [1919], and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of the Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history. Judaism, being only a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own. They are only citizens of the states to which they belong (Article 20).

The Palestinian people, expressing himself by the armed revolution, reject all solutions which are substitutes for the total liberation of Palestine (Article 21). The liberation of Palestine will totally destroy the Zionist presence and by that will contribute to the establishment of peace (Article 22).

Hamas Charter, contrary to Fath-PLO covenant, seeks not a ‘Palestinian state,’ but an ‘Islamic Ummah,’ according to the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology. The Charter opens with a quote from the Qur’an (3:10): “You [Islamic nation] are the best nation that hath been raised up unto mankind,” and declares the following:

Israel will exist until Islam will obliterate it… It strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine, for under the wing of Islam followers of all religions can coexist in security and safety where their lives, possessions and rights are concerned. In the absence of Islam, strife will be rife, oppression spreads, evil prevails and schisms and wars will break out (Article 6).

The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the links in the chain of the struggle against the Zionist invaders. It includes the struggle of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1948 war and all Jihad operations… The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the and kill the Jews, and when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees, the stones and trees will say O Muslims, O the servants of Allah, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him (Article 7).

Allah is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Qur’an its constitution: Jihad is its path and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes (Article 8).

The land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf (endowment) until Judgment Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to deny that. Palestine in its entirety belongs only to the Palestinians. This is the law governing the Islamic Shari’ah (article 11).

Nothing is more significant or deeper than Jihad against the Zionist enemy. Resisting and quelling the enemy become the individual duty of every Muslim, male or female. Abusing any part of Palestine is tantamount to abuse part of the religion [which means death]. There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad to eliminate the Zionist invasion. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors (Article 13). It is the utmost necessary to instill the spirit of Jihad in the heart of the Muslim nation (Article 15).

The Islamic Resistance Movement is a humanistic movement. It takes care of human rights and is guided by Islamic tolerance when dealing with the followers of other religions. It does not antagonize anyone of them, except if it is antagonized by it or stands in its way to hamper its moves and waste its efforts. Under the wing of Islam, it is possible for the followers of the three religions – Islam, Christianity and Judaism – to coexist in peace and quiet with each other. Peace and quiet would not be possible except under the wing of Islam (Article 31).

He who wishes even to begin understanding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict must start here, with the ideology of annihilation, with the Palestinian Mein Kampf towards Israel. Moreover, after reading these documents, and listening-watching-reading the so many thousands declarations of the Palestinian leaders, the conclusion is clear: the issue is not the ‘occupation,’ the 1967 borders, but Israel’s existence. There is no mentioning of the ‘1967 occupation’ at all, but the ‘1948 occupation.’ It is Israel’s entity at any part of that area that matters; it is the total refusal to accept Israeli legitimacy and to make peace with Israel in any borders.

This is perhaps the biggest fallacy all outside parties share. When the Palestinians say ‘Israeli occupation,’ it is not the 1967 occupation, but the 1948 occupation; and it is not the 1967 borders even not the 1947 borders. The word ‘occupation’ serves as a code-word for the Palestinians the channel world politics and good people to support their case, without really knowing their real objectives.

This is perhaps the greatest deceit in modern time: when the Palestinians murder and massacre Israelis by inhuman terrorism, it is not because of the “occupation” of 1967 border. Arab harsh terrorism against Jews began from the 1920’s; and it is not because of the “settlements,” since the violent objection against Jewish immigration and settlements began even before 1920’s. The so-called 1967 occupied territories have no relevance to the conclusion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is just another problem in a large set of complex issues which firstly must be focused on the recognition of Israel as a state and as a nation.

This is the Palestinian ideology of annihilation. The chief means is incitement and hatred. It is the supreme utmost strategy; the operational code in which it is executed and perpetuated. This is an ocean-deep, so atavistic and inhuman, a highly venomous loath toward everything Israel and Jews represent, manifested in all spheres of life. Children and youth learn to hate before everything else in life, and this is what motivates their ways of thinking and activities. This is a full-fledged industry, a monstrous phenomenon we are even unable to comprehend.

Although in the Qur’an there is the recognition of the Jewish ownership and sole rights on the Land of Israel, called “the Holy Land” (al-Ard al-Muqaddasah); “the Blessed Land” (al-Ard al-Mubarakah); the “Land of the Jews” (Ard Bani-Isra’il), and although on other passages it is declared that the Jews are Allah’s chosen people (2:47; 44:32; 45:16), Palestinian ideology still promotes genocide and Politicide objectives. Killing Jews serves as a prerequisite to religious redemption, for the sake of humanity at large. Palestine’s blessing is linked to the destruction of Israel that opens the doors to Heaven.

The fanatic exaggerated lies are inconceivable to human mind, and reiterated thousands of times. Khaled Mash`al, Hamas political bureau chairman:

“What the State of Israel has done to the Palestinian people is ten times worse than what the Nazis did to the Jews… The Zionist holocaust of the Palestinian people and the peoples of the Arab-Muslim nation is being carried out in full view, and no one can deny it or claim that it has been exaggerated…”

In a sermon on official Palestinian Authority TV the cleric preached:

The Jews, the enemies of Allah and of His Messenger, enemies of humanity in general, and of Palestinians in particular… The Jews are the Jews. Even if donkeys would cease to bray, dogs cease to bark, wolves cease to howl and snakes to bite, the Jews would not cease to harbor hatred towards Muslims… The Prophet says: ‘You shall fight the Jews and kill them all.

In a Friday sermon on al-Aqsa TV:

We will redeem Palestine with our souls, with our blood, with our sons, with what is most dear to us until it is entirely liberated and purified. The only way to liberate it is through Jihad for the sake of Allah. Jihad today is an individual duty, incumbent upon each and every Muslim man and woman.

Believe it or not, these declarations are not only the least extreme. The industry of hatred is fed even exacerbated by the industry of lies, and both produce an unprecedented volume of violence that brings de-humanization of the Jews. Violence does not and cannot exist by itself; it is invariably intertwined with the lie. The main aspect of hate industry is the educational system.

Anti-Semitism, the denial of the Jewish state’s right to exist, and martyrdom are constant staples on PA TV and other media devices. All cultural and social life are directed to stigmatize the phenomena. The Palestinians have targeted their education and media socialization and indoctrination toward the de-legitimization of Israel and de-humanization of the Jews, to prepare the ground of yet another “final solution.”

The main Palestinian strategy is to turn the historical-political reality upside down, by twisting the well-documented facts of history and by re-inventing a wholly new fabricated history. The lies they present are so detached from reality, are so disconnected from any human logic, and that is why they exactly are accepted. When one reiterates absurdity after total absurdity, people begin to believe it has some truths. Hitler, Goebbels, and Lenin have proven this; the Palestinians practice it so successfully.

The Palestinians claim the ridiculous absurdity that their ancestors were the seven peoples of Canaan and the Philistines. Going along, since the Palestinians are their descendants, they preceded the Jews in their right to the territory. Moreover, in Palestinians’ perspective, the Jews today have no connection to the Jews of the past, which were disappeared historically. Contemporary Jews are religious groups of imposters who are not the real Jews, but rather part of the Zionist plot to gain control of the Palestinians homeland.

Here is the exponent of Zaid Nabulsi review in Saudi paper:

All Zionist archaeologists have failed — after digging up every conceivable corner of Palestine for the last 62 years — to come up with a single credible Jewish teapot or tablespoon… digging. Two years ago, Israeli professor Shlomo Sand argued, with meticulous scholarship in his earth-shattering book, ‘The Invention of the Jewish People,’ that the claim that the Jews of today are the ethnic offspring of the Biblical Jews is yet another Zionist myth, because all records tell us that the current Jews are the descendants of Khazar tribes who converted to Judaism, and have no genetic link whatsoever to the Jews who lived in Palestine during Roman times… the Romans apparently never exiled anybody of the Jews. Sand demolishes the myth of the Kingdoms of David and Solomon by proving they are pure legends that never existed.

Israel is indeed under vicious assault of pseudo-history by the Palestinians who are assisted by pseudo-historians, many of them anti-Semite Jews, to invent new “history,” to rewrite some of the most widely-accepted truths of history. This is not only pseudo-historic revisionism or denial of well accepted truths, but clearly Nazi-Fascist claims, falsifying, twisting and distorting the history of the Land of Israel and the Jews.

Psychological factors operate to manipulate views and attitudes, and to create mantras that do not necessarily reflect either the historical record or applicable international law. Language becomes an important tool both in falsifying events and in perpetuating beliefs based on narratives that do not accurately reflect history. Psychological manipulation is operated for political purposes. Colonialism has become the major theme in de-legitimizing and de-humanizing Israel, charged as a ‘settler-colonialist’ state. The notion of ‘settler’ dismisses any historical or biblical connection of the Jews to the Land of Israel, hence, the importance of denial of Jewish rights. These charges are rooted in cognitive denial of any Jewish connection to Palestine. The mechanism of dissonance reduction is most central by arguing that Jews do not constitute a national entity and cannot have legitimate rights to what was known as Palestine. Corresponding with article 20 of their Covenant, the Palestinians claim that since Jews are members of a religion and not a nation, any nationalistic aspirations based on a specific territory are invalid.

Historically, ‘Palestine’ has never been a territorial-cultural and political unit and it had no special geographic or political role for the last 2000 years. The name in Arabic, “Filastin,” has no historical cultural connotations or any etymological meaning. “Palestine” has even no meaning in Greek, Latin, or English. In the New English Bible, the Latin name Palaestina denote Philistia as in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament, the word does not occur at all. The only language it comes from is Hebrew, denoting the southern coastal region of the Land of Israel called “Pleshet”. Yet, it has now taken on the wholesale myth that could fill volumes of vitriolic and venomous propaganda that has become a virtual religion in itself.

The historical truths are clear: first, there has never been a sovereign Arab state in Palestine, after the Jewish Diaspora, 1900 years ago, until the establishment of the State of Israel; second, nor did a Palestinian people, distinct from other Arabs, appear during 1,375 years of Muslim hegemony in Palestine under Arab, Muslim and Ottoman rule; third, Jerusalem has never been an Arab or Muslim capital, even not an important city during the entire history of Islamic rule. Only twice in Jerusalem’s history has it served as a national capital: during the first Jewish kingdoms of David and Solomon (1013-933 B.C.) and the Second Temple period; and now as the capital of the State of Israel.

After the end of the second Jewish revolt in 135, the Roman ruler, Herod Agrippa, decided to rename the territory from “Provincia Judaea” to ‘Provincia Syria Palaestina’. The name was derived from the Philistines, a non-Semitic, Indo-European people from the Aegean islands. Later on the region was split into “Palaestina Prima,” consisted of Judea, Samaria and east and southern part of the Jordan valley; “Palaestina Secunda,” consist of the Galilee, the Golan and the northern part of the Jordan river; and “Palaestina Tertia,” extended over southern Transjordan, the Negev and Sinai desert. The Roman renamed Jerusalem as “Aelia Capitolina”.

The Arab invasion of the Middle East from 632, culminated in the conquest of the country in 634 and Jerusalem in 638. Palaestina Prima became Jund Filastin, the military district of Palaestina, administered from Lydda and Ramla; Palaestina Secunda including Western Galilee, became Jund al-Urdun, and was administered from Tiberias. These Arabic names were a direct borrowing from the Greco-Roman terms, but because Arabic has no “p” sound in its language “Palaestina” became “Filastin).” The Arab division of the country, like the Roman, was not vertical between east and west, but horizontal, with Filastin in the south and Urdun in the north.

The word ‘Palestine’ was reborn in the 20th century by the British, together with “Filastin” in Arabic, and “Palestina (E.I.: initials standing for Eretz-Israel)” in Hebrew. However, In contrast to the Jews, the Arab inhabitants avoided using the Arabic name Filastin, but the name “Arabs” or “Syrians.” The Peel Report had clearly noticed: “the Arabs had always regarded Palestine as included in Syria.” This was the official position of the Palestinian and Arab leadership during the 1940’s. In 1945, the renowned historian Philip Hitti vehemently claimed before the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry in January 11, 1946: “There is no such thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not.” As late as 1956, Ahmad Shuqeiry, while addressing the United Nations Security Council, has put it: ‘it is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria’. Even the UN Resolution 242 of November 1967 mentions only “Arab refugees,” not “Palestinian refugees,” or a “Palestinian people.”

What do all these mean? One can only imagine if Hadrian had never changed the name from Judea to Palaestina, so this unique name wouldn’t have ever existed. In that case would we be hearing of “a Judean Arab people” striving to establish “a Judean Arab land”? The British could have chosen the name “The Holy Land” or “The Land of Israel” or other name. In that case, again, there could have been no “Palestine” as a territory and no “Palestinians” as a nation. To make it more absurd: what if Hadrian or the British had changed the name to “Jupiter?” In that case, would we be hearing of a “Jupiterian Arab people” fighting to liberate their “Jupiterian Arab land”?

Without entering polemical argumentation, from any known scientific historical perspectives, can one trace evidence to a land called Palestine? Can one show when and where it was founded and who were its leaders? Can one delineate its borders, its major cities and capital? Can one record its society, economy, currency, and political settings? Indeed, there is none of all these. There is no language known as Palestinian, or even specific Arabic accent; there is no distinct Palestinian culture; there are no records in history of Palestinian life; there are no archaeological sites and monuments. Indeed, there has never been a land known as “Palestine” governed by distinct “Palestinians.”

This does not deny at all the idea there is a Palestinian people today striving to establish a Palestinian state. Nationalism and political identity are evolving terms. However, these are brand new terms, only from the 1950’s, and mainly after 1967 war. For that, there is no need to twist and to rape history, unless one wishes to deny other’s legitimate rights. From here stems the most important question: what do the Palestinians really want?

What about Jews’ legal rights? Israel’s political rights and sovereignty over the mandated territory called ‘Palestine’ were favored under International Law. In 1917 Lord Balfour, the British Foreign Secretary, issued his famous ‘Declaration,’ with the consent of the cabinet. In 1920, the Ottoman Empire in Article 95 of the Treaty of Sevres, granted its sovereignty in the Middle East, which had been undisputed for 400 years, to Great Britain. In 1920 San Remo convention, the Allies adopted Lord Balfour’s declaration as its policy, called ‘The British Mandate,’ that became International Law. The 1922 Palestine Mandate specifically refers to the “historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine,” and called for the Jewish people to begin “reconstituting of their national home.” In 1924, the British Mandate became the domestic law of England and the US. The UN continued with this policy, according to article 80 of its Charter. So, Israel emerged from the British Mandate with the support of the League of Nations, and recognition of the UN.

Furthermore, 99% of the lands captured from the Ottomans in the Middle East and the North Africa was allocated to the Arabs. Only 1% was given to the Jews under the British mandate. After Churchill gave Transjordan to Abdullah, the Arabs and Muslims had 99.77% of the lands, and the Jews only one quarter of one percent. These figures expose the whole reality of the Middle East.

The assertion that Israel came into existence on the basis of injustice done to the Palestinian nation proceeds on gross errors and lies: to claim that the Palestinian nation was displaced by Israel, when no such entity existed at that time is playing with the facts of history and twisting it. To argue that Israel took areas belonging to a Palestinian political entity in the Six Day War is a gross lie, since there was no Palestinian sovereignty on any territory. The fact is that in the 1967 war, Israel conquered militarily areas of mandatory Palestine which had been occupied by Jordan, which annexed the ‘West Bank;’ and Egypt, which retained the Mandatory system in Gaza.

After the failure of the Arab states in 1948 war, frontiers for the Jewish state were determined in negotiations with the Arab states, which appropriated the Palestinian issue to themselves. All armistice agreements were conducted and signed by the Arab states. No mention of the ‘Palestinians’ as a people and ‘Palestine’ as a territory. The fact is that UN Resolution 194, of December 11, 1948, refers mainly to conciliation regime between Israel and the Arab states, and only in Article 11 does it relate to the ‘refugee problem’ in general terms. If this means Palestinians, it no less means Jewish refugees from Arab states.

The allegations that Israel was established by the European colonialism, is cynical, ironical and aberration of the truth. It is exactly the Arab States that deserve their nationalities to the decisions of the European powers, including the delineating of their entire borders. Moreover, to accuse Israel of being the product of European colonialism, while the history of the Arabs and Islam is the pure form of imperialism, colonialism and occupation, is again twisting the truth. The Middle East was mainly Christian before it was occupied by Islam; Egypt was Pharaonic; Iran was Sassanid; Lebanon was Phoenician; Turkey was Christian; North Africa was Berber; Afghanistan was Christian; Pakistan was Buddhist. They all and many other countries were harshly occupied and viciously colonized by the Arabs and Islam. While European colonialism demised, Arab-Islamic colonialism thrives and expanding.      

The refugee Issue

The Palestinians initiated a highly successful propaganda campaign that Israel occupies the land belonging solely to them, uprooted its nation and scattered them out of their land. The Palestinian Nakbah has become a myth, the lost paradise, and thus the utmost specter. However, the original political use of the Nakbah was in 1920, when the local Arabs vehemently objected the separation of the territory from Syria.

The Palestinian national narrative depicts the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 as the original sin, routinely equated with the Jewish Holocaust, and its remedy is turning the clock back to 1948. All Palestinian refugees, not just those still alive from 1948, but their millions of descendants, would be allowed to return to their homes. By that, this would entail the ending of the Jewish Zionist state.

The Palestinian issue is not a problem of refugees, since only a small minority of them live in camps, and the socioeconomic data and the living standards show clearly that their situation not only resembles hundreds of millions of inhabitants of Third World countries, but in many ways the Palestinian economy and social situation is much better than at least one hundred states, including some Arab states.

The Palestinian issue is not the problem of a people uprooted from its land, since most of the Palestinians live in the land of ‘Mandatory Palestine,’ in area less than the distance between New York and Philadelphia. Small part of them still resides in refugee camps only because some still hope of the destruction of the State of Israel.

The Palestinian issue is not a problem of a society that was scattered from its human environment, since almost all Palestinians live and reside in an Arabic speaking society and culture, among their own society. It is absolutely clear that the total majority of the so-called Palestinian refugees are in no sense true refugees, according to world standards and social-economic reality.

In the past ninety years, more than 130 million refugees around the world, mainly from Europe and Asia, of which 640,000 were Palestinians – only one half of one percent of world refugees. This is the correct proportion. Of all the millions of people who became refugees, the only ones who still count themselves as refugees and who live at the expense of the nations of the world are the Palestinians. Over 90% of the refugees in the world have been rehabilitated, residing in the places where they resettled. The enormous donations to the Palestinians are unfortunately earmarked mainly for corruption and terrorism. Those who are in need in Asia and Africa receive nothing. The poverty, misery and wretchedness are really there, mainly in Africa, but only the Palestinians get the world’s political, social and financial attention. The Palestinians live off the world’s charity at the expense of those who are truly in need of that charity.

One example of the so many of this tragedy is sufficed to illuminate the sick situation, and it comes precisely from a Muslim state: Pakistan. In August 2010 there were huge areas flooded in Pakistan, causing at least twenty million refugees without any means of living. It was defined by the UN “the greatest humanitarian disaster.” However, except of lip service declarations, including the UN Secretary General calling the world to donate money, the UN itself did nothing to treat these miserable refugees as compare to what the Palestinians get regularly. The same situation occurred in 2009, where two millions of Pakistanis run away from their homes in Swat region taken by the Taliban, without even water to drink, but with the same pattern of the UN: doing nothing. The UN High Commissioner, Antonio Guterres, described the displacement crisis as “one of the most dramatic in recent times,” but except of these high words UNHCR did very little to assist and sustain them.

There are almost hundred countries in the world whose economic and social situation is much more severe than that of the Palestinians, Arab states included, with no attention let alone assistance of the world. The Palestinian GNP in year 2000 was 1600 US$, higher than Arab states and most of the Third World Countries. Concerning the contemporary so-called humanitarian situation in Gaza, it is higher than those state that cry out to sent aid flotilla, like Turkey, Iran and Lebanon. The GNH (Gross National Happiness) of the Palestinians is higher than most Arab states, including Turkey, and almost all Third World countries.

More illuminating and disturbing data give proportion to the Palestinian situation: a) at any given moment there are 15 to 25 million refugees living ‘outside of their border’ according to UN definition, without food and shelter, in conditions far direr than the Palestinians; b) there are almost two hundred national-ethnic peoples in the world begging desperately for statehood, who do not wish to gain their independence at the cost of ruining other nation; c) one third of world population drink polluted water, most of them drink water that endanger their health, and every minute 8000 children die solely from drinking polluted water; d) one quarter of world populations have no toilets at home and use holes in a field; e) there are 240 million slave-children around the world, including many from Muslim countries; f) there are, according to UNICEF and the International Woman Research, 51 million child-brides, all from Islamic countries, most of them are sexually harassed and beaten regularly, including one hundred million mutilated women.

The Palestinians are not included in this long poor miserable list.

There are three categories of refugees, according to the United Nations: refugees from all over the world; Palestinian refugees; and Jews refugees — with a totally different treatment. The first category is the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR), which deals with refugees from all over the world, with the aim to give them a basic treatment, and to find quick and safe shelter for them, so that they are integrated or settled down as soon as possible. Those refugees are discouraged to remain refugees and to quickly find other accommodation alternatives. The budget allocated of UNHCR is 1.5 billion US$, with 6300 working personnel.

The second category is the Palestinian refugees. They are a special, privileged class. There is a special, separate UN agency, the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA), whose principal duty is to perpetuate their status as refugees forever; to prevent any attempt to settle them down; to provide them, their children and the next generations to come special humanitarian social, economic, and welfare treatment. From 640 thousand refugees in 1948, UNRWA supports now more than five million so-called Palestinian refugees. For that, it is the largest organization of the UN’s, with more than 28 thousand working personnel, 90 percent of them are Palestinians, and 1.1 billion US$ budget.

Under the humanitarian cover, UNRWA acts as a political organ, a giant pressure group for perpetuating the Palestinian refugee’s situation. Its activity is counterproductive in terms of the possibility of resolving the Palestinian refugee problem, by relegating them to a state of passivity and dependency. Yet it is much worse. All educational system and schools run by UNRWA actively serve as greenhouses for praising terrorism as a source of hideous hatred and demonism against Israel and the Jews, and active bases of terrorism instruction and operations. The money donated by the Western states that defines Hamas and other groups as terrorist organizations goes to terrorism; the food supply serve Hamas activity; its warehouses stores weapons; and its workers drive terrorists and weapons with the cars and ambulances of UNRWA. Taken the huge money pour upon them, there is absolutely no motivation of the Palestinians to handle the issue and to recover out of the refugee status.          

The third category is the Jews. Nobody took care about them after the Second World War, and nobody even knows there was a Jewish refugee problem. After the establishment of the State of Israel, a million of Jews became refugees in many Arab lands, and had to leave their houses and huge property in Arab countries and to flee to Israel, where they have been fully absorbed. None of these Jewish refugees were helped by the United Nations. All were set¬tled long ago in their new environments, without being parasites of the world.

The following examples put the Palestinian refugees in perspective:

In April 2004, the UN General Assembly decided that it is impossible to implement the rights of the two hundred thousand Greeks and the fifty thousand Turks to return to their homes in partitioned Cyprus, because “the new reality which has been created” must be taken into consideration. However, this stand of the UN is totally different concerning the Palestinian refugees.

Following World War II, 11 million Germans were expelled from their homes in the Sudetenland, in Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary and Romania, and were force-marched to Germany. Two million died on the way, but the others were absorbed in Germany. In 2004, few of them were seeking to return to their homes, not demanding to dissolve the country from which they were deported; not demanding to replace it; and not demanding money compensation. In August 2004, the German government determined they have no right of return even no reparation. However, the attitude of Germany and the EU towards the Palestinian refugees is totally different.  

In 1968, the British Government exiled 5,000 of the residents of the Island of Diego Garcia, for the purpose of constructing an American air base. In 2003, the exiled residents demand to return to their homes in the island. Their demand was rejected by the British High Court of Justice that ruled out that the residents have neither the right to return nor to receive compensations. However, the British stand toward the Palestinian refugee problem is different.    

Now the question is that out of all the misery and suffering in the world, and year 2010 is notoriously known of huge disasters culminating in tragedies almost everywhere, the world is busy with the false detached “humanitarian situation in Gaza” and the need of “rescue flotillas” for the Palestinians? Why the world is silent while there are more than a billion poor and miserable starving and dying people around the world, the Palestinians continue to receive billions of dollars yearly? This immoral and unjustified flow money continues even when the donating countries and the UN clearly know that large part of it goes to produce terrorism against Israel and increased corruption among the Palestinians.

Why the Kurds, 25 million people living in the same Middle East, have no state of their own and nobody cares about their situation? Why the Christians, the original population in most of the Arab states, have become extinct species and nobody cares about their miserable fate, while the Palestinians are treated and sustained as if they are the last and only people with denied national aspirations?

The Issue of Jerusalem

The Palestinian propaganda declares: Jerusalem has no sanctity whatsoever for the Jews; the Jewish Temple was in Nablus and not in Jerusalem; the Western Wall is part of the Wall of al-Aqsa Mosque, and the whole area of Jerusalem exclusively belongs to the Palestinians, and no stone in it has any connection to the Jews. Al-Quds University posts a History of Jerusalem in which the Jewish narrative is a ‘myth’; that King David, whose very existence is questioned, was probably part of an idealized community of “Israelites” that had no connection to Jerusalem; that those “Israelites” never experienced an exodus from Egypt, a story appropriated from a Canaanite legend; that Joshua’s conquest never took place; that Solomon’s Temple was actually a center of pagan worship; and that the Western Wall was part of a Roman fortress. In the al-Quds history of Palestine, Jews are not mentioned.

`Abd al-Rahim Barkat, of the Islamic Movement in Israel:

The imaginary tale regarding the Temple of Jerusalem is a lie, a crime, and the most enormous forgery in history… the existence of the Holy Temple is not based on any historical or archeological testimony and simply does not exist except in the minds of the Jews. Jerusalem in its entirety belongs to the Muslims and Jews have no relationship whatsoever to that city.

Dr. Hassan Khadir, founder of the al-Quds Encyclopedia:

The Jewish connection to this site is a recent one, began in the 16th century. It is not ancient like the roots of the Islamic connection. The Jewish connection to this site is a fabricated one. The true name of the Western Wall is the al-Buraq, named after Muhammad’s horse which was tied to the wall. Who would have believed that the Israelis would arrive 1400 years later, conquer Jerusalem, and make this wall into their special place of worship.

PLO official, Dr. Ghazi Hussein:

Israel has been perpetrating against the Palestinian crimes far worse than those committed by Nazi Germany. The Judaization of al-Haram al-Ibrahimi [the Cave of the Jewish Patriarchs in Hebron] and the Bilal bin Rabbah mosque [Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem], and the claim to build the false Jewish temple and to Judaize the al-Aqsa mosque prove the Jewish ethnic cleansing policy.

This sheer distorted scientific and twisted history is answered in details: Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Qur’an, the Hadeeth and the Seerah. Never in history had Jerusalem occupied a place of importance in Islam, even as a religious site. It was never considered to be a holy city and no religious institutions were established there, and never became a regional or national capital in Muslim history. The ‘awakening’ of the Palestinians is purely political, against the State of Israel, with the objective to de-legitimize its existence and to refute its legal claims.

The Land of Israel was conquered by the Muslims in 634 CE by `Umar bin-Khattab, but the Muslims did not bother to conquer Jerusalem until four years later. That is certainly an indication of the importance of Jerusalem as far as Islam is concerned. Had Jerusalem been of any real significance, it certainly would have been conquered earlier.

When the invading Muslims entered Jerusalem, they signed a Dhimma (a capitulation for security) agreement with the Christians and left it. `Umar Bin al-Khattab did not recognize any special significance of Jerusalem, and decided to make Caesarea the capital of the region. If the al-Aqsa mosque indeed was located on the Temple Mount, could we imagine that he would belittle it and deny the validity of its source in the Qur’an? If it had any religious, even political importance could we imagine how the Muslims treated Jerusalem for generations?

If Jerusalem was important to the Umayyads, why they made Damascus the capital of their dynasty and not Jerusalem? And if it was important to Islam after the Crusaders built their “kingdom of Jerusalem,” why the Muslims did not do anything to materialize Jerusalem’s importance? And if Jerusalem was important during the 400 years of Ottoman rule, why science and politics know nothing of this?

Apparently the Muslims did not think of any importance, as they called Jerusalem “Iliyas,” the Arabized form of the Latin “Aelia”. Afterwards, the city was called Bayt al-Maqdis, from the Hebrew Beit ha-Mikdash. From the 10th century, the Muslims used a shortened version of al-Quds (the Hebrew word of Kodesh, holy).

The only reference in the Qur’an regularly employed by Muslims is the first verse in Surat Bani Isra’il, 17:1 as if al-Aqsa located in Jerusalem:

Glory to (Allah) who took his servant for a journey by night from the sacred Mosque to the farthest Mosque, whose precincts we did bless…

This verse, Isra’, is connected to Mi’ragh verses, that describe how Muhammad had visions at night in which he hovers with the Angel Gabriel through the seven worlds while riding on the horse al-Buraq and returns to Mecca the same night. On his way he meets the prophets: Adam, St. John and Jesus, Joseph, Idris, Aaron, Moses and Abraham.

Flying horses, flying dragons and gods able to fly, were common myths centuries before Muhammad. The whole story may have been influenced by the story of the prophet Elijah who flew into heaven in a burning chariot pulled by horses. Long before Elijah story, Moses ascended Mount Sinai and received the two tablets of the Ten Commandments. In other words, the story of Muhammad has its source in the Hebrew Bible. He intended to reach heaven in order to behold Allah. There was nothing else, surely not Jerusalem.

Moreover, the territory of the Land of Israel could not be called “al-Aqsa,” which means the far-away land, since its geographical proximity to Arabia. The Land of Israel is called in the Qur’an al-Ard al-Adna, the “nearby land,” closest to Mecca and Medina. However, an interesting approach is given by the Egyptian, Ahmad Muhammad `Arafa. He claims that Muhammad’s night journey refers to the Hijrah of the prophet from Mecca to Medina. The journey was not to Jerusalem but to Medina. The word Isra’ in Arabic that appears in the Qur’an means “to move secretly from a dangerous location to a safe place.” In that way the prophet obeyed the instructions of Allah to the effect that Mecca was dangerous, his enemies were plotting to kill him, and he was to escape secretly at night to Medina. Muhammad’s praise for Allah, referred to demonstrate the importance of the event for Mohammad.

The Caliph `Abd al-Malik (685-705) built the Dome of the Rock, in 691, as to elevate and sanctify Jerusalem, since the Umayyads could not reach Mecca for the pilgrimage. His son, al-Walid, constructed the mosque called al-Aqsa on the ruins of the Jewish Temple Mount in 715. The “Praise of Jerusalem” literature (Fada’il al-Quds), that emerged for political reasons during the Umayyad dynasty, disappeared, and a new contradictory literature appeared that belittled the importance of the city. The Hanbali exegete, Taqi ad-Din Ahmad ibn Taymiyyah (1263–1328), is identified with this trend: directing prayer toward Bayt al-Maqdis was nullified, being an apostasy (Irtidad). In 1016 the Dome of the Rock collapsed and no one bothered to restore it as a holy site of worship. Jerusalem once more fell into awe of neglect and oblivion. Damascus, Cairo, Constantinople and other centers were considered to be of much higher religious significance than Jerusalem.

Jerusalem was forgotten until the 20th century. It was “revealed” from the second half of 1920’s, by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini; then by King Abdallah of Transjordan; and culminated with Yasser Arafat. all of them prove the historical rule: Jerusalem is important in Islam only from its political role, when others control it, and to enhance political ambitions and identification.

Why the Palestinian Propaganda Succeeds?

Now, the question is why the Palestinians succeed in their propaganda full of uncorroborated and unsubstantiated facts as to divert world public opinion from reality? The answer lies in the following syndromes:

The first is the Ignorance-Disinformation Syndrome (IDS). Most of the people, even those who have constant information of the situation, are not acquainted enough and do not know the details and the characteristics of the conflict, mainly because of cultural barriers. One cannot avoid detecting the incredible amount of ignorance regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, so, when one pours highly concentrated disinformation to the ignorant, the success is surely his.

Disputes about opinions and views when the facts are known is understandable; different views in describing facts are reasonable, since history is not an exact science; even Rashomon of telling different stories is acceptable. But, the fact is that so much disinformation has been poured so many years and by so many educated and intelligent people, is amazing. Distortions, misconceptions, and unadulterated lies are common, so that it became the whole truth.

Why do the Palestinians twist the reality? It is because they know their case is weak and unconvincing; because this is a cultural syndrome proven in Islamic history when relating to the other; because this is the message of the Qur’an that for the promotion of Islamic interests cheating and deceiving are permitted, and mainly because they wish not a compromised solution, but want it all. Why do they continue lying? Because they have solid proofs that their lies succeed, and world public opinion, leaders and the media, do not condemn them. James Baldwin, the American author has put this syndrome as follows:

It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.

This is the reason why Goethe had reiterated the idea:

There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.

This is why Alan Dershowitz has put it so succinctly:

When the best are accused being the worst, you have to look at the accusers.

To make the situation even more complicated, there is the Mirror Image Syndrome (MIS), the twisted psychological behavioral and conceptual lenses through which we look into the situation and interpret it. This is perhaps our most lethal enemy, proven through historical research by Barbara Tuchman; through psychological research by Norman Dixon and through surprise attacks and misconceptions research. We analyze the situation and relate to our enemy through our own values and conceptions. However, what if our enemy is different from us culturally and conceptually? What if he is devoted to achieve his goals by all means we do not even appreciate politically and understand culturally? What if we play Checkmate while he plays Sheshbesh?

Moreover, the situation is exacerbated by the Aggressiveness-Victimhood as against Political Correct Syndrome (AVPCS). That means, understanding the ramifications of Arab-Islamic cultural phenomenon of victimhood as against Western politically correct approach. The Western trauma of politically correct of not to offend the other and to act according to fashion goes exactly with the Muslim demand of honor and not to be offended, being a supremacist religion. The Arab-Muslims raise to unprecedented extremes their sensibilities; they immediately declare they are offended almost on every realm and every issue in day by day life. This situation, in its turn, deepens Western politically correct approach, and that process end with capitulation and apologies.

Whatever they do; no matter how aggressive is their behavior; how deep and horrible the atrocious violence they exhibit — from Arab-Muslim perspective, they are always the innocent victims who only defend their honor, their life and their land. This is a very well-known syndrome of the Arab-Islamic cultural trait of crying out and complaint (I`rad Baka’- Shaqa’), which is exemplified by the Arab saying: Darabni wa-Baka, Sabaqani wa-Shtaka (he hit me and cried out, he overtook me and grumbled). Add to this the Judeo-Christian guilt remorse, of internalizing the guilt, and the Arab-Islamic cultural syndrome of externalizing the guilt, and the result is clear: Arab Muslims win the situation, and Western civilization capitulates.

However, the most important is the leading scientific culture syndrome of the ‘post’ era, of ‘post imperialism’, ‘post modernism,’ ‘post colonialism,’ and relativism. This has become the new ideology, the god of new Western scientific era. Pascal Bruckner has called the Western intelligentsia’s new form as “tyranny of guilt,” a self-effacement of Western masochism that forbids any critical inquiry into the historical narratives of national movements granted the sanctified status of “oppressed.” The Nakbah narrative cannot even be challenged. This is the horrible legacy of Edward Said’s atrocious approach of Orientalism, which was criticized harshly, among many others, by Bernard Lewis and Ibn Warraq. This approach has become a highly sophisticated grand strategy built on the foundations laid down by Said: all you have to win over is to disqualify, to invalidate and to delegitimize the other, whatever the circumstances, the situation and reality are. This one-sided totality, this black and white absoluteness, is one of the conspicuous cultural traits of Islam.

The dire situation inherited from Said’s legacy is that contemporary Western research of the Middle East and Islam suffers from fear and dictation, out of post-colonial and guilt remorse and inferiority complex. According to this, one must accept the Middle East as is and must absolutely refrain of any judgment (but unfortunately and so tragically not Africa and Third World countries; only the Middle East!). This means that only the post-modernists, and of course Arabs and Muslims, hold the pure true academic indisputable knowledge of that field. Anyone who dares criticizing Arabs and Islam is being immediately accused outright as racist, colonialist and Islamophobe.

These are the basic reasons for the successful Palestinian’s propaganda of twisting reality and winning world public opinion’s stand. Of course, there is room for criticism on all sides. No one is solely righteous and no one is totally guilty of the situation. However, there is hardly such a case in which history has been so thoroughly written upside down and facts have been so profoundly manipulated as by the Palestinians. One day historians will devote in-depth many volumes studies of how did the Palestinians succeed in fooling so many people in such a long time, without the entire world standing up and crying out: enough is enough. Indeed, one can safely say: you can fool most of the people all the time; you can fool all the people most of the time; but you cannot fool all the people all the time – unless you are the Palestinians.

Summary

The Palestinians should look into the mirror and honestly ask: why there is no Palestinian state today? Is it Israel’s refusal, or their leadership’s obstinacy demanding ‘all or nothing,’ and out of inter-Arab rivalries? The Palestinians could have established their state according to UN partition plan of November 1947 (decision 181), with a bigger territory than Israel. The Arabs could have conclude peace with Israel after 1948, instead of armistice agreements and establish a state for the Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza, as most of contemporary plans are aimed to. However, unfortunately, both the Palestinian leadership and Arab states declined. The real question is whether the Palestinians are ready to establish a state on the 1967 borders, and to recognize Israel’s legitimacy by declaring the end of hostilities. Unfortunately, all indicators are clear, they do not, and they still believe they can achieve it all.

One of the main reasons for their stubbornness is the political support, almost blindly and totally, they get from the international system, mainly from Europe and the UN. The international community has emboldened them into believing that Israel can be delegitimized and weakened through international pressure. All the Palestinians need is to hold out long enough for achieving their ultimate goal. This situation of putting their case above most of world issues, as if their case is solved all other issues coming from the Middle East, including the Islamic immigration, are solved, is disastrous for the world; counter-productive for the Palestinians; and lethal to the existence of Israel.

The Arab-Israeli conflict is and has always been based on Palestinian and Arab opposition to Jewish statehood. There is mainly one cause to the continuation of this conflict, which is buried beneath an avalanche of media coverage and politicians’ declarations designed to obfuscate and confuse reality — the refusal to come to terms with Israel’s existence as a Jewish Zionist state. Indeed, this conflict is not about the right of self-determination of the “Palestinian,” but rather it is about Jewish self-determination; it is not about Israel’s stubbornness and rejection of a “Palestinian state,” but rather about Arab and Palestinian stubborn rejection of Jewish statehood; it is not about Israel’s refusal to compromise, the Egyptian and Jordanian peace treaties clearly prove it, but about the Palestinian leadership’s refusal to compromise and to recognize the legitimacy of the State of Israel.

Under these circumstances, it is unreasonable to anticipate a change in the Palestinian and Islamic behavior towards Israel, unless their leaderships decide to change their policies, methods, textbooks and verbal messages. The education for hatred for Jews and for Israel lies at the root of the issues. The Nazi and Japanese analogy is most instructive. As long as racism and militarism was the basis of Nazi and Japanese society, both could not enter the modern democratic world. The Allied powers, headed by the US, understood that the military defeat is not enough, and imposed a radical change on Nazi and Japanese societal values, education and politics. Germany and Japan were forced to abandon their ancient tradition of nationalistic racism and militarism and to embrace an open system of democracy. Only then were they able to become democratic and technologically advanced nations. This must be applicable, first and foremost to the Palestinians, who are spoiled by the blind international support (and to the Muslims at large concerning the West).  

Professor Fuad Ajami, of John’s Hopkins University, clearly has stated: an accommodation with Israel is imperative, but the Palestinian leaders still demanding to have it all, ‘from the river to the sea.’ The Arab states have compounded the Palestinian radicalism, granted them everything and nothing at the same time, and there was thus no need for the Palestinians to moderation and realism. The Palestinians should know better, aside from a handful of the most messianic Israelis and Europeans, there is a recognition that the Palestinians must come to term with reason and live in peace with Israel, or to drop off the history.  

In his the Missing Peace, the American Diplomat, Dennis Ross, noticed the salient fact that for the Arabs, any Israeli withdrawal and relinquishment is not enough. The revolutionary change is yet to come for the Arab world to recognize Israeli needs, let alone its existence. It is not enough to sit at the negotiation table and to talk peace and yet to maintain a different atmosphere in the streets, in the media and politics. Without a real change in Arab-Islamic political culture, it is highly doubtful that the Middle East is on the path of change towards peace. On the contrary, it is still a huge barrier to peace, as much as to democracy and civil rights. The Middle East, Ross concludes, is going backwards and not progressing, with a continued militancy of Islamism. This is of course, exactly the case of the Palestinians.

Western public opinion is ignorant of the so pervasive cultural behavior of Arab-Islamic dualism. The reason is that one of the main aspects is dualism in language. The Palestinian Authority preaches peace in English and incites war in Arabic. The contradiction between what it says in English to the Western audience and what it says in Arabic is overwhelming. As Steven Simpson has put it, the fact is that the Palestinians and the Muslims at large still point to these hateful verses in the Qur’an, should give us a pause to consider if there can ever be true peace between Muslims and Jews. In the religious and cultural context, let alone the national territorial rivalry, the Palestinians cannot accept a Jewish state, and the big question under these circumstances, is it likely that true peace will reign in the Land of Israel?

Where did the name Palestine come from?

The Philistines were not native to Israel, in fact, as their name implies, they came from somewhere from the Greek Islands, most likely Crete. Obviously, they did not speak Arabic and they were not Semitic like Jews and Arabs. That is why the Romans chose to eradicate the name Judea by implementing foreign outside name.

From the fifth century BCE, the Greeks called the eastern coast of the Mediterranean “Philistine Syria” using the Greek language form of the name. In the year135, after putting down the Bar Kochba revolt, the second major Jewish revolt against Rome, the Emperor Hadrian wanted to wipe out the name of the Roman “Provincia Judaea” and so renamed it “Provincia Syria Palaestina”,

Therefore, if any, the Jews are the Palestinians, NOT anybody else.

“The British chose to call the land they mandated Palestine, and very later the local Arabs who picked it up as their supposed ancient name, though they couldn’t even pronounce it correctly and turned it into Filastin.”

So where did these so called “Palestinians” come from?

On March 31, 1977, the Dutch newspaper Trouw published an interview with P.L.O. executive committee member Zahir Muhsein. In which he said he said:

“The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel… Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct “Palestinian people” to oppose Zionism.

For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beer-Sheva and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.”

Can the Muslims claim the land through Ishmael?

Some people including many Muslims stake a claim for the Arabs through the line of Ishmael, the son of Abraham and his wife’s Egyptian servant Hagaar. The thinking is that if God promised Abraham that his family would be a blessing to the whole earth and that anyone who blessed them would be blessed and those who cursed them would be cursed, that must include the children of Ishmael who in fact was Abraham’s first son. That theory does make sense using man’s logic. The truth is that God made an executive decision to separate the children of Yitsak (Isaac) from the Children of Ishmael. It doesn’t sound fair does it? But who are we to question the Wisdom of the Almighty? Take a look at Genesis 17:18-21.

So God, Himself, refused to give the Abrahamic Blessing to Ishmael and the Arabs. Muslims have their own story of this covenant. They believe that Ishmael received the Covenant. They also claim that it was Ishmael who was taken and almost sacrificed by Abraham on Mount Moriah, later to be called the Temple Mount, in Jerusalem. But remember one thing, the Bible was written thousands of years before Mohammed was born and he and the other Muslims scribes took the parts of the Bible and other books that they liked and changed the parts they did not like in the seventh and eighth centuries.

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Middle East

Gulf rivalries spill onto the soccer pitch

Dr. James M. Dorsey

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With the 2018 World Cup in Russia behind it, the soccer world’s focus shifts to the 2022 tournament in Qatar. Politics and the Gulf’s internecine political and legal battles have already shaped debate about FIFA’s controversial awarding of World Cup hosting rights to Qatar. The battles highlight not only the sport’s dominance in the Middle East by autocratic leaders but also the incestuous relationship between politics and sports that is at the root of multiple scandals that have rocked the sports world for much of this decade and compromised good governance in international sports.

Three men symbolize the importance of soccer to Gulf autocrats who see the sport as a way to project their countries in a positive light on the international stage, harness its popular appeal in their cultural and public diplomacy campaigns, and leverage it as a pillar of their efforts to garner soft power: Qatari emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and his nemeses, United Arab Emirates Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed and Saudi sports czar, Turki al-Sheikh, one of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s closest associates.

To be sure, tension between Qatar and its Gulf detractors was spilling onto the soccer pitch long before the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt took their opposition to Qatari policies to a new level with the imposition in June 2017 of a diplomatic and economic boycott of Qatar. Since then, debate about the Qatari World Cup has been further politicized with the Gulf crisis driving efforts to deprive Qatar of economic and soft power benefits it derives from its hosting of the tournament, if not of the right to host the mega-sports event.

The UAE-Saudi efforts took on added significance as Qatar and its detractors settled in for the long haul. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt will likely face difficult choices if the Gulf crisis persists when the World Cup, the first such mega-tournament to be held in the Middle East, kicks off in Doha in late 2022.

Difficult choices

The choice would involve potential political risk. It would be between maintaining the boycott that has cut off all air, sea and land links between Qatar and its detractors at the expense of fans in a soccer-crazy part of the world in which little evokes the deep-seated emotions associated with religion and football or effectively breaching the embargo to evade political backlash and ensure that supporters have access to a sports milestone in the region’s history. The starkness of the boycotting states’ dilemma would be magnified if any one of them were to qualify for the Qatar World Cup and would be enhanced if they were to play the host country or, for example, Iran.

The issue of ability to attend is magnified by expectations that the demography of fans attending the World Cup in Qatar may very well be a different from that at past tournaments. Qatar is likely to attract a far greater number of fans from the Middle East as well as Africa and Asia. The Asian Football Confederation’s Competition Committee has already urged governments to exempt football teams from travel bans and would almost certainly do the same for fans.

As a result, the UAE-Saudi effort to undermine the Qatar World Cup is about more than seeking to deliver a body blow to Qatar. It is also about avoiding being further tied up into knots in an anti-Qatari campaign that has so far failed to break the Gulf state’s resolve, force it to concede, and garner international support. The campaign is multi-pronged and doesn’t shy away from violating laws as is evident in Saudi bootlegging to deprive beIN, the sports franchise of Qatar’s state-owned Al Jazeera television network, of the fruits of acquired rights to broadcast World Cup tournaments and European competitions at the risk of being penalized and/or taken to court by the likes of FIFA and the English Premier League. Saudi media reports that the government has launched an anti-piracy campaign, confiscating more than 4,000 illegal receivers that hacked beIN failed to put an end to the bootlegging.

Signalling the political importance that men like the crown princes and Sheikh Tamim attribute to sports, a former top UAE security official, Lt. Gen. Dhahi Khalfan, suggested that the only way to resolve the Gulf crisis would be for Qatar to surrender its World Cup hosting rights. “If the World Cup leaves Qatar, Qatar’s crisis will be over … because the crisis is created to get away from it,” Mr. Khalfan said.

Mr. Khalfan spoke at a time that leaked documents from the email account of Yousef Al-Otaiba, the UAE ambassador in Washington and a close associate of the country’s crown prince, revealed a UAE plan to undermine Qatar’s currency by manipulating the value of bonds and derivatives. If successfully executed, the plan would have allowed Qatar’s distractors to argue that the Gulf state’s financial problems called into question its ability to organize the World Cup.

Serving national interests

Mr. Al-Sheikh, the chairman of the kingdom’s General Sport Authority, makes no bones about harnessing sports to serve the kingdom’s interests. With a career in security rather than sports, he was unequivocal in his assertion on the eve of Saudi Arabia’s debut in the 2018 World Cup in Russia that he made decisions based on what he deemed “Saudi Arabia’s best interest,” reaffirming the inextricable relationship between sports and politics.

Barely 24 hours before the World Cup’s opening match, Saudi Arabia made good on Mr. Al-Sheikh’s assertion that the kingdom’s international sports policy would be driven by former US President George W. Bush’s post 9/11 principle of “you are either with us or against us.”

With Morocco’s bid for the 2026 World Cup in mind, Mr. Al-Sheikh had warned that “to be in the grey area is no longer acceptable to us. There are those who were mistaken in their direction … If you want support, it’ll be in Riyadh. What you’re doing is a waste of time…,” Mr. Al-Sheikh said. Mr. Al-Sheikh was referring to Morocco’s refusal to join the anti-Qatari campaign. Adopting a Saudi Arabia First approach, Mr. Al-Sheikh noted that the United States “is our biggest and strongest ally.” He recalled that when the World Cup was played in 1994 in nine American cities, the US “was one of our favourites. The fans were numerous, and the Saudi team achieved good results.”

Mr. Al-Sheikh was manoeuvring at the same time to ensure that the kingdom has greater say in international soccer governance, including issues such as the fate of the Qatari World Cup and a push to extend international isolation of Iran to the realm of sports. To do so, Saudi Arabia backed a proposal to speed up the expansion of the World Cup to 48 teams from 32, which is scheduled to kick off in 2026, by making it already applicable to the 2022 World Cup. Saudi Arabia hopes that the expansion would significantly complicate Qatari preparations for the event. Implementing the expansion in 2022 would strengthen UAE and Saudi efforts to petition FIFA to force Qatar to agree to co-hosting of the World Cup by other Gulf states, a proposal that was incorporated in the UAE plan to undermine Qatar’s currency.

In an indication of things to come, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) in early 2018 thwarted a UAE-Saudi attempt to get Asian tournament matches that were scheduled to be hosted by Qatar moved to a neutral venue. The AFC warned the two countries that they would be penalized if they failed to play in Doha or host Qatari teams.

Mr. Al-Sheikh’s moves were part of a two-pronged Saudi-UAE effort. Global tech investor Softbank, which counts Saudi Arabia and the UAE among its largest investors, is believed to be behind a $25 billion proposal embraced by FIFA president Gianni Infantino to revamp the FIFA Club World Cup and launch of a Global Nations League tournament. If approved, the proposal would give Saudi Arabia a significant voice in global soccer governance.

Complimenting the Saudi FIFA bid is an effort to expand the kingdom’s influence in the 47-nation AFC, the largest of the world soccer body’s constituent regional elements. To do so, Saudi Arabia unsuccessfully tried to create a new regional bloc, the South West Asian Football Federation (SWAFF), a potential violation of FIFA and AFC rules. The federation would have been made up of members of both the AFC and the Amman-based West Asian Football Federation (WAFF) that groups all Middle Eastern nations except for Israel and is headed by Jordanian Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein, a prominent advocate of soccer governance reform.

The initiative fell apart when the Asian members of SWAFF walked out in October 2018 in the wake of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. The killing could also jeopardize Saudi efforts to gain control of the AFC with the Al-Sheikh-backed candidacy of Saudi Football Federation chief Adel Ezzat, who resigned in August 2018 to run for the office..

Benefits outstrip reputational risk

Mr. Al-Sheikh and his boss, Prince Mohammed, share with the crown prince’s UAE counterpart and namesake, a belief that the public diplomacy and soft power fruits of harnessing sports outstrip reputational risks. Simon Pearce, Abu Dhabi’s director of strategic communications and a director of Manchester City, the British club bought by UAE Crown Prince Mohammed’s brother but controlled by the de facto Emirati ruler’s men, said as much in leaked emails to Mr. Al-Otaiba, the UAE ambassador in Washington.

The emails discussed the UAE’s registration of a new soccer club, New York City Football Club, as the United States’ Major League Soccer newest franchise. Mr. Pearce argued that Abu Dhabi’s interests in the US political environment are best served by associating New York City FC with City Football Group, the Abu Dhabi government’s soccer investment vehicle, rather than the government itself to evade criticism stemming from the Emirates’ criminalization of homosexuality, its less than stellar record on women’s rights and its refusal to formally recognize Israel despite maintaining close security and commercial relations with the Jewish state.

The UAE’s sports-related investments, guided by the crown prince, much like the acquisition of important Qatari sports stakes on the behest of Sheikh Tamim also give Gulf states political leverage and create additional commercial opportunity. The investments constitute the flip side of large amounts of Gulf money being channelled to influential think tanks, particularly in Washington. In a series of notes in 2012, Mr.  Pearce advised Prince Mohammed, a man obsessed with perceived threats posed by any form of political Islam and a driving force in the campaign against Qatar, to tempt than British prime minister David Cameron to counter what he described as Islamist infiltration of the BBC’s Arabic service in exchange for lucrative arms and oil deals.

To illustrate the UAE and Qatar’s sway in European soccer, Nicholas McGeehan, an independent researcher and former Human Rights Watch executive focussed on the region, looked at recent bookies odds for the Champions League. Abu Dhabi-owned Manchester City was the favourite followed by Qatar’s Paris Saint-Germain. Third up was Bayern Munich, whose shirts are sponsored by Qatar, fourth was Barcelona, which recently ended a seven-year sponsorship deal with Qatar, and fifth Real Madrid that sold the naming rights to its new stadium to Abu Dhabi.

Saudi and UAE public relations efforts to generate public pressure for a deprival of Qatari hosting rights were at times mired in controversy. The launch in May of the Foundation for Sports Integrity by Jamie Fuller, a prominent Australian campaigner for a clean-up of global soccer governance, backfired amid allegations of Saudi and UAE financial backing and Mr. Fuller’s refusal to disclose his source of funding.

Saudi and UAE media together with UK tabloid The Sun heralded the launch in a poche London hotel that involved a reiteration of assertions of Qatari wrongdoing in its successful World Cup bid. Media like Abu Dhabi’s The National and Saudi Arabia’s Al Arabiya projected the launch as pressure on FIFA to deprive Qatar of its hosting rights. “It is no secret that football’s governing body is rotten to the core. (FIFA) will rightly come under renewed pressure to strip Qatar of the competition and carry out an internal investigation in the wake of the most recent allegations. The millions of fans eagerly anticipating 2022’s festival of football deserve better,” The National said. Saudi-owned Ash-Sharq Al Awsat newspaper reported that a June 2018 FIFA Congress would hold a re-vote of the Qatari hosting. The Congress didn’t.

Qatar remains vulnerable

Despite so far successfully having defeated efforts to deprive it of its hosting rights, Qatar remains vulnerable when it comes to the integrity of its winning bid. The bid’s integrity and Sheikh Tamim’s emphasis on sports as a pillar of Qatari soft power is at stake in legal proceedings in New York and Zurich involving corruption in FIFA and potential wrongdoing in the awarding of past World Cups. Qatar has suffered reputational damage as a result of the question marks even if the Gulf crisis has allowed it to enhance its image as an underdog being bullied by the big boys on the block.

To Qatar’s credit, it has introduced reforms of its controversial kafala or labour sponsorship system that could become a model for the region. In doing so, it cemented the 2022 World Cup as one of the few mega-events with a real potential of leaving a legacy of change. Qatar started laying the foundations for that change by early on becoming the first and only Gulf state to engage with its critics, international human rights groups and trade unions.

Even so, Qatar initially suffered reputational damage on the labour front because it was relatively slow in embracing and implementing the reforms. Qatar’s handling of the Gulf crisis suggests that it has learnt from the failure of its initial response to criticism of its winning 2022 bid when it acted like an ostrich that puts its head in the sand, hoping that the storm will pass only to find that by the time it rears its head the wound has festered, and it has lost strategic advantage.

The integrity issue remains Qatar’s weak point. For activist critics of the awarding of hosting rights to Qatar, there are two questions. One is, who do they want to get in bed with? Qatar’s detractors, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia hardly have stellar human and labour rights records. If anything, their records are worse than that of Qatar, which admittedly does not glow.

The second question critics have to ask themselves is how best to leverage the World Cup, irrespective of whether the Qatari bid was compromised or not. On the assumption that it may have been compromised, the question is less how to exact retribution for a wrong doing that was common practice in global football governance. Leveraging should focus on how to achieve a fundamental reform of global sports governance that has yet to emerge eight years into a crisis that was in part sparked by the Qatar World Cup. This goes to the heart of the fact that untouched in efforts to address the governance crisis is the corrupting, ungoverned, and incestuous relationship between sports and politics.

Siamese twins: sports and politics

The future of the Qatar World Cup and the Gulf crisis speaks to the pervasiveness of politics in sports. The World Cup is political by definition. Retaining Qatar’s hosting rights or depriving the Gulf state of the right to host the tournament is ultimately a choice with political consequences. As long as the crisis continues, retaining rights is a testimony to Qatar’s resilience, deprival would be a victory for its detractors.

As a result, the real yardstick in the debate about the Qatari World Cup should be how the sport and the integrity of the sport benefit most. And even then, politics is never far from what the outcome of that debate is. Obviously, instinctively, the optics of no retribution raises the question of how that benefits integrity. The answer is that the potential legacy of social and economic change that is already evident with the Qatar World Cup is more important than the feel-good effect of having done the right thing with retribution or the notion of setting an example. Add to that the fact that in current circumstances, a withdrawal of hosting rights would likely be interpreted as a victory of one side over the other, further divide the Arab and Muslim world, and enhance a sense among many Muslims of being on the defensive and under attack.

The silver lining in the Gulf crisis may be the fact that it has showed up the fiction of a separation of sports and politics. FIFA, the AFC, and the Confederation of African Football (CAF), seeking to police the ban on a mixing of sports and politics, have discovered that it amounts to banging their heads against a wall. Despite their attempts to halt politics from subverting Asian tournaments, domestic and regional politics seeped into the game via different avenues.

As a result, FIFA and its regional confederations have been tying themselves up in knots. In a bizarre and contradictory sequence of events at the outset of the Gulf crisis, FIFA president Infantino rejected involving the group in the dispute by saying that “the essential role of FIFA, as I understand it, is to deal with football and not to interfere in geopolitics.” Yet, on the same day that he made his statement, Mr. Infantino waded into the crisis by removing a Qatari referee from a 2018 World Cup qualifier at the request of the UAE. FIFA, beyond declaring that the decision was taken “in view of the current geopolitical situation,” appeared to be saying by implication that a Qatari by definition of his nationality could not be an honest arbiter of a soccer match involving one of his country’s detractors. In FIFA’s decision, politics trumped professionalism, no pun intended.

Similarly, the AFC was less principled in its stand towards matches pitting Saudi Arabia and Iran against one another. Iranian club Traktor Sazi was forced in February to play its home match against Al Ahli of Jeddah in Oman. It wasn’t clear why the AFC did not uphold the principle it imposed on Qatar, the UAE and Saudi Arabia in the case of Iran. “Saudi teams have been able to select host stadiums and cities, and Saudi teams will host two Iranian football representatives in the UAE and Kuwait. In return, Iranian football representatives should be able to use their own rights to choose neutral venues,” said Mohammad Reza Saket, the head of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Football Federation in a letter to the AFC.

Soccer governance bodies have long struggled to maintain the fiction of a separation in a trade-off that gave regulators greater autonomy and created the breeding ground for widespread corruption while allowing governments and politicians to manipulate the sport to their advantage as long as they were not too blatant about it. The limits of that deal are currently being defined in the Middle East, a region wracked by conflict where virtually everything is politicized.

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Middle East

The Success of Iranian Activism Shows the Way to Correct European Policies

Ryszard Czarnecki

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Western policies toward the Islamic Republic of Iran would almost certainly be more assertive and ambitious if the international community was more broadly aware of the power and organization of Iranian activism both inside the country and throughout the global expatriate community.

Fortunately, a growing number of Western policymakers do recognize the influence wielded by Iran’s pro-democratic resistance movement, as led by Maryam Rajavi the President elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran and its main constituent group the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK).  Dozens of high-profile political figures and experts in Middle Eastern affairs have taken to participating in the NCRI’s Free Iran rally, which is held near Paris each summer and attended by tens of thousands of ethnic Iranians from throughout the world.

This past June, those participants put their lives on the line by attending at a time when Iran’s domestic affairs are increasingly explosive, with growing consequences for the world at large. On the day of the Free Iran gathering, European authorities arrested two would-be bombers as they attempted to gain access to the event on the orders of a high-ranking Iranian diplomat based in Vienna.

The foiled plot underscored the Iranian regime’s flailing attempts to undermine the Iranian opposition. And it was not the only one of its kind. Months earlier, Iranian operatives were caught plotting an attack on the residence of over 2,000 MEK activists who had relocated to Albania from their former headquarters in Iraq. At the same time, federal investigators in the United States were monitoring two agents of the Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence. The subsequent criminal indictment noted that their spying would have surely resulted in attacks on US-based opposition activists if they had been left unchecked.

Finally, in October, another Iranian operative was arrested in Denmark for plotting the assassination of Iranian dissidents. This finally sparked a serious push for collective measures to confront and contain Iranian terror treats. A call to action had already emerged from France following an investigation that concluded there was no doubt about Tehran’s responsibility for the Paris plot. But in the wake of the Danish arrest and a subsequent meeting of European Union foreign ministers, the stage was seemingly set for the entire EU to adopt economic sanctions that France had already imposed on the Ministry of Intelligence and its agents.

This is, of course, an appropriate response to serious Iranian terror threats. It is made all the more sensible and potentially effective because those threats and their underlying causes are still apparent, and because it follows upon a shift toward much more assertive policies by the US government. But the EU has been notably cautious about making that shift.

The desire for continued access to Iranian markets is surely part of the reason for this. But it might also be said that the US administration is much more aware of the existence of powerful allies inside Iranian society and the expatriate population. After all, some White House officials and close confidants of the US president have been regular attendees at NCRI rallies, including the one that was nearly bombed in June.

European hesitancy is fading now that such threats have come to light and have been shown to not be isolated incidents. That hesitancy might evaporate altogether if more European policymakers were made aware of the organizational capabilities of the MEK, including its contribution to the nationwide uprising that began last December and spawned countless other protests featuring the same anti-government slogans.

Even Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei acknowledged the MEK’s role in January, when the uprising was still in full swing. In a speech to his officials, he declared that the resistance group had spent months planning for the rapid spread of protests and the promotion of a clear message of regime change. This was a significant break from the regime’s decades-long policy of downplaying the strength and social influence of the MEK and its affiliates.

In case this is not reason enough for global policymakers to conclude that regime change is actually within reach for Iran’s pro-democratic population, the Iranian opposition foreign supporters all throughout the world are working tirelessly to highlight the success of recent and ongoing protests. As one example, Iranian communities in 50 locations throughout Europe, North America, and Australia will be hosting simultaneous conferences on Saturday 15 December to demonstrate both the threats and the opportunities that support adoption of a firm, collective Iran strategy by all Western powers.

As well as keeping a spotlight trained squarely on Iran’s recent foreign terror threats, this global teleconference will provide details about many of the protests and labor strikes that have sprung up and, in some cases, continued for months at a time, in the wake of last year’s nationwide uprising. The persistence of those demonstrations is a clear sign of the activist community’s strength and the very real prospects for the popular overthrow of the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism.

The Iranian terror threat is reason enough for the international community to abandon the conciliatory policies that have been prevalent for so long. Proper recognition of the Iranian democratic opposition will prove once and for all that a firm alternative is not only justified but imperative for the triumph of democracy in the Middle East.

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Israel in Syria

Giancarlo Elia Valori

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Over the last two years alone, in complete silence, the Jewish State has already carried out over 200 airstrikes against Iranian targets in Syria.

North American unconfirmed sources also speak about Israeli support for Islamic “rebels” fighting against Bashar el Assad and his allies.

They are supposedly 12 groups of so-called para-jihadist “rebels” operating in southern Syria, who oppose both the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and radical ISIS jihadist militants.

Obviously the Israeli intelligence services closely monitor – with systems active 24 hours a day – the three bridges connecting the Golan Heights with Israel, which are constantly used by the Israeli armed forces to support both the Golan populations and the military operating permanently in those areas.

Israel has named the “humanitarian support” to the region, including the aforementioned anti-Assad rebels, “Operation Good Neighbour”, but the real Israeli spearhead is the air missions in the Syrian skies, which have again much increased in recent times.

Israel has shifted from a policy line of limited tolerance – based on the analysis of the evident severe threat posed by the Sunni and jihadist “rebels” operating in the Southern Syria, who are obviously also enemies of Iran and Assad – to a posture of very clear “zero tolerance” for all the Iranian positions on the Golan Heights and in the rest of the region, which now increasingly dominate Southern Syria. Said positions were created to achieve Iran’s true aim, i.e. the stable, impregnable and strategic corridor between Lebanon – especially Southern and Central Lebanon – and the universal centre of Shiism, namely the Iranian and Twelfth-Imam Shiites (also called the Imamites).

Certainly Iran also hosts Sunni minorities – who are fully integrated with the regime and often act as an operational link with the other anti-Saudi Sunni minorities in Riyadh and in the rest of the region – but also the Zoroastrians, who are a very old minority operating between the para-Islamic armed and unarmed groups in India and the Himalayas, also in tune with the guerrillas supported by China.

But there are also Jewish minorities in Iran, who are entitled to some seats in the Majlis (Parliament) and often communicate with the Israeli motherland, in spite of the covert activity of the Iranian intelligence services.

Currently, in particular, Iran needs to break the Sunni encirclement, which is also a very powerful economic and oil intelligence operation by the Sunni OPEC against Iran.

It is equally certain, however, that the Shiite Republic has some sound Grand Strategy options in the greater Middle East, which are now certain and, in some respects, unavoidable for Iran.

Firstly, Iran will seek any opportunity – even the slightest one – to hit Israel and the USA if they harshly hit its interests in the region.

Hence this is Iran’s main strategic variable in Southern Syria: it has not yet hit Israel because – with its supplies to Hezbollah in the Lebanon – it is waiting to make a new big summer operation jointly with the Lebanese Shiite forces at the edges of the Golan Heights, as happened – to a lesser extent – in the “July war” of 2016.

There was also the strong action of the Iranian Shiite militia of Hashd al Shaabi in Iraq – another factor to support the borders east of Iran and to oppose the Kurds (but there are many Kurdish agents also in the Iranian intelligence services) and the Americans, as well as the link between Israel and Kurdistan, another essential asset of Israel geopolitics.

Nevertheless, Qatar -one of Iran’s rich friends – hosts the large US base that organizes the armed forces throughout the Middle East. It is the Al Udeid base, near the Abu Nakhlah airport, hosting over 12,000 North American soldiers and at least 1,000 aircraft.

An implicit blackmail, which President Trump has not considered at all, while swearing naive loyalty to the Sunnis who are “against terrorism” (nonsense!).

Hence an asset that does not enable Iran to fully use its Lebanese ally and its strongest economic partner, namely the Emirate of Qatar, which also hosts Al Jazeera, the old BBC in Arabic of British imperialism. It should also be recalled, in particular, that the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood have been stationing in Doha for many years.

The cradle of every contemporary Sunni jihadism, the Ikhwan, which -however – establishes its base in the Emirate which is politically closer to the Shiite Iran and in the traditional geoeconomic and strategic-military opponent of Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood, namely Saudi Arabia.

Doctrinal paradoxes that are certainly not mere coincidence. As we will see later on, wars are waged with religions and myths, almost more than with AK-47 Kalashnikovs which, if anything, stem from those religions and myths.

Certainly, in the Israeli strategic thought, the current “war of attrition” which opposes Israel and Iran – particularly in Syria – is destined to inflict a psychological defeat on Iran by Israel alone, which – in the short term – deters the Iranian decision makers from launching the primary direct attack.

As seen also recently, traditionally Iran tends to defeat its opponent with the great mass of averagely armed soldiers, who discourage it from continuing its fight (the model with which Imam Khomeini peacefully conquered his own country).

This is a model also at work in Hezbollah’ strategic thinking.

The same model followed by the Persians in the Battle of Thermopylae – as the classics teach us.

King Leonidas’ 300 Spartan soldiers, however, fought all to death against the invading Persian forces.

Their sacrifice was commemorated by Simonides in the famous epitaph “Go tell the Spartans, stranger passing by / That here obedient to their laws we lie” which can still be read on the hill overlooking Thermopylae.

However, two are the weak points of the Iranian Grand Strategy against Israel: firstly, the strong social and economic weakness of the regime, which pushes the Iranian leaders to make wars of attrition “outside”, so as to create a rapid patriot unity “inside”, and possibly even send its dangerous masses to the front.

During the 2017 uprising for supporting their Iraqi Kurdish brothers, the Kurds acted in such a way as to severely jeopardize the Iranian security, while in 2006 the Azeris set fire to the government buildings of their Iranian North-East  – not to forget the huge 2009 “Iranian Green Movement”, after the re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinedjad. These are all signs that the vast minorities of the Islamic Republic of Iran are capable of severely undermining the stability of the regime. And mass poverty will play its sad role.

Hence, if Israel attacked the Iranian positions in Syria, Iran would likely be unable to react with a direct and significant military strike against the attacker.

The Iranian Shiites’ real and probably sole reaction will be to operate with Hezbollah in the Lebanon or with the Shiite minorities in Bahrain or to provide further support for the Houthi insurgency in Yemen.

But certainly a skilful and smart military strategist does not make the eternal severe mistake of underestimating the opponent and hence takes at least three other variables into account. Firstly, the possibility of a missile attack by the Islamic jihad between the PNA Territories and the Gaza Strip, together with Hamas – the official organization of the Islamic Brotherhood and hence easy to contact and train from Iran, via Qatar.

Secondly, an action by Hezbollah also between the Golan Heights – mainly used as rear zone and areas for diversionary actions – and the traditional Shiite line of the Litani river between the Lebanon and Israel, according to the model of the 2006  “July war” that the Lebanese Shiites still consider to be a successful and winning model.

Thirdly, a land-maritime attack by special forces, either local or with additional forces of the Pasdaran, from Qatar or Syria, but passing through Deirer-Zor or, on the other side of Syria, besides the Turkish forces south of Damascus.

In fact, it takes so little for defaming Israel as a “cruel and ferocious attacker” of the “poor Lebanese or Syrian farmers” and to quickly gain short-lived, but huge consensus in the “streets and squares” of the Middle East.

In spite of rhetoric, Iran does not want – and above all cannot – “destroy” Israel, but currently intends to create many points of friction with Israel, particularly outside the traditional places of clash and confrontation, especially with commando actions on the Israeli borders, but above all from the sea. A myriad of small blows, which hurt like a powerful strike.

Exactly as, in certain phases, the PLO strategy did from the sea and with many small and ferocious operations.

Another stable basis of Iran’s Grand Strategy is again the great importance of indirect strategies and of cyberwarfare – especially nowadays.

It serves above all to reduce the weight of sanctions and, to a greater extent, to keep the EU friendly to the Shiite regime.

As all those who know that they are bound to become poor soon, the Europeans think only about money, namely the rich contracts that Iran grants selectively and “politically” to the EU companies entering its domestic market.

Moreover, the penetration of Arab and Islamic capital in Europe is not only relevant for its size, but for its political and strategic significance.

All over the world, in 2021 the Islamic finance is expected to rise from the current 2 to 3.5 trillion US dollars of assets.

However, there are already 109 out of 622 institutions in the world that provide “education to Islamic finance” in Europe alone.

Hence, as can be easily imagined, the EU ruling classes are particularly pervious – under the politically correct rhetoric – to finance, ideological pressures, consortia and cartels, business mediation and brokerage, coming from Islamic finance and the already huge Islamic properties and investments in the various EU countries.

Currently, at least in Italy, both the so-called “right parties” and the “left parties” have only a minority – albeit variable in size – of openly pro-Israeli politicians.

The “battle for Europe” – as Raymond Aron called it – was lost at the time by the “Warsaw Pact” against NATO and nowadays what is in contrast with Europe’s and the Atlantic Alliance’s old and  traditional goals is precisely Islam, in all its forms, ranging from the “sword jihad” to the “business and dialogue jihad”. In all likelihood, Islam will win the real battle between the old two “big prairies”, namely the United States and the USSR, by using Europe as a financial, strategic and industrial “back-shop” (a 5% shareholding of Credit Suisse is owned by Qatar, not to mention Volkswagen, Siemens and many other companies) and as a future coverage area for its military and indirect actions against Israel and against the other European and US interests and allies in the Middle East.

But let us revert to Israel, which is in strategic conflict with Iran through the fundamental link between the two, namely Syria.

The inevitable fulcrum of any operation Israel may launch against Iran and, more probably, vice versa.

With its “asymmetric war” -the only one it currently wages on a continuous basis – Iran will hit primarily the United States – a necessary ally, but not always in agreement with Israel – to immediately isolate the Jewish State. Later, however, it will hit  Israel directly and, at the same time, the Gulf powers opposing Shiism, namely Saudi Arabia, Bahrain – possibly triggering here a guerrilla warfare between the Shia majority and the Sunni minority in power – Kuwait and probably other countries.

As Italian jurists say, the European Union “will be less of a defendant”, thus playing second fiddle.

Hence, if tension keeps on mounting – especially in Syria – both   Israel and the Islamic Republic of Iran could witness an escalation particularly on the Syrian territory or anyway in the strategic link between Syria and the Lebanon.

A guerrilla warfare from the North that could also be triggered by the Palestinian Islamic jihad alone and also by Hamas, but only at a distance and jointly with Hezbollah and Iran in the North.

Nevertheless, this could also make the US or Israeli decision-makers fall into the temptation of a nuclear strike or a conventional and nuclear operation.

A very important variable is Iran’s use of the economic agreements with the EU, which could become essential. A “geoeconomic pact” with the naive and unprepared Europeans that Iran could use against the United States.

Hezbollah, however, already has the weapons that the US strategists consider to be game changer.

Given its long-standing and mounting tension with the Iranian forces operating in Syria, Israel is currently thinking about some primary strategic variables.

Firstly, Israel is not fully convinced of the US pro-Jewish stance and of the current US positions in Syria.

President Trump does not want to send (other) troops to Syria and, anyway, the local US champions have already made a bad impression there.

As a genuine pro-American politician, Francesco Cossiga, used to say “The Americans are always up in arms on a war footing, but -later – when they have taken the warpath, they do no longer know how to come out of it well”.

Israel cannot even fully rely on its good relations with Putin’s Russia which, however, have so far led to good results in the Syrian war.

I was about to write Syriac war, like the one between the Romans and the Seleucid Empire, namely Syria, Persia, Asia Minor and Mesopotamia, which ended in 188 BC.

The number one tension between Russia and Iran is the one in the Yemen of the Houthi insurgency, when Russia strongly resented Iran’s assassination of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, an old friend of theirs, on December 5, 2017.

Russia does not even want to deteriorate its excellent relations with a new and important ally, namely Saudi Arabia.

In particular, the Russian Federation does not want a US massive intervention throughout the Middle East.

Among other factors, at the beginning of the war in Syria, the presence of scarcely effective militants of the “Free Syrian Army” and of some gangs of quasi-jihadists trained by CIA or by the Department of State – immediately rushing to join forces with ISIS -led to the Russian presence in Syria.

Russia wants above all to create failed states in the Middle East, dependent on it, and to avoid any possible further hotbed of tension.

Iran wants the same thing, but obviously with its own leadership. It reminds us of the rivalry between Emperor Charles V and King Francis I of France, epitomized by his statement: “My brother Charles V wants the same thing I want”. In that case, it was the Duchy of Milan.

Iran often says it is “a stabilizing force” throughout the Middle East, but Hezbollah’s operations in Syria – the only real serious Shiite armed force, apart from the Iranian Pasdaran, who also train it -prove the exact opposite.

Russia, however, wants its strong hegemony in the region and does not want to share it with anyone.

For Russia, Israel – which is isolated at its borders and does not intersect Russian strategic interests – is already an even more reliable friend than Iran, at least for the future.

As an old Hebrew proverb says, “Friends are not those who wipes your tears away, but those who do not make you cry”.

Hence Russia will be subjected to a long phase of Israeli strategic verification in Syria and in the rest of the world.

Furthermore, the United States is willing to strengthen the Syrian peace talks between Geneva and Astana.

For the Syrian peace talks, Astana is a game especially between Turkey and Russia. Iran arrived in the Kazakh capital later, welcomed by cold smiles.

Currently the United States and Jordan are only “observers” in Astana, but the US diplomacy is waiting for some results, besides the already defined “de-conflict zones”, to fully enter the game.

Certainly the United States now wants Iran’s fully exit from the Syrian conflict.

It will be its card, impossible to play on to the end.

Recently President Trump has spoken of an “indefinite” effort by the US Armed Forces and diplomacy to impose and enforce peace in Syria.

Obviously another problem is the fact that Israel’s ongoing and very harsh polemic against Iran brings the Jewish State closer to Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. Paradoxes of history.

Some relations between the two countries have taken place also in the field of security and intelligence.

A double result of great importance: Israel no longer has its very dangerous sworn enemies in the Arabian peninsula, which is a great result for its safety and security.

It is also an opportunity for Israel to enter – via Saudi Arabia – the area of oil and political-financial relations that really count in the Arab world.

Israel is no longer a target of the Sunni Islam which, indeed, declares to everyone that it is an ally of what – in ancient times – it called the “Zionist entity” – as currently only Iran does. This is a great success for Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli global strategy.

The much desired safety and security of Israel eastwards, so much called for as early as the time of Ben Gurion and of my dear friend Shimon Peres.

Meanwhile, the Iranian economy is severely worsening and this can create the classic effect of a diversionary war.

As early as last September, the Iranian “Revolutionary Guards”, the Pasdaran, declared they had attacked – with their missiles – Kurdish dissidents of Iranian origin based in Iraq.

Hence even the “Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan” can be seen as a danger, while Turkey is constantly air bombing the PKK Kurdish positions in the Qandil Mountains.

Therefore, in this case – apart from future and dangerous Shiite infiltrations in the Syrian-Lebanese axis -the current Israeli strategy could remind us of Mao Zedong’s old motto: “Everything under heaven is in utter chaos; the situation is excellent”.

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