Amid the ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, it is worth noting that no pro-U.S. Arab regime—for example, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Morocco and Sudan—has offered tangible support for the terror group, which is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The main reason for this is that the Brotherhood constitutes an existential threat to these regimes, as it aims to topple them all in order to establish a universal Islamic society, through political, social and violent means. Eventually, it aspires to bring non-Muslims, and especially Western democracies, to submission.
The pro-U.S. Arab regimes are also aware that Hamas is a proxy of Iran’s Shi’ite terrorism, even though it is a branch of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, heavily assisted by Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who aspires to re-establish the Ottoman Empire throughout the Middle East and beyond.
Hamas’s patrons—Iran’s ayatollahs and the Muslim Brotherhood—are epicenters of regional and global Islamic terrorism, drug trafficking and proliferation of ballistic and nuclear technologies. They pose a major threat to the production and supply of oil and orderly global trade (e.g., Asia-Europe naval trade), and fuel instability in the Persian Gulf, the Middle East, Central Asia, North Africa, the Horn of Africa and Europe. They threaten the national security, homeland security and economy of the United States and other Western democracies.
Israel’s systematic war against Hamas terrorism, as well as against Hezbollah, constrains the maneuverability of Iran’s ayatollahs, the Muslim Brotherhood and Turkey’s Erdoğan. Pressuring Israel to limit/stop its offensive against Hamas terrorists energizes Hamas and other anti-Western terrorists, undermining the Free World’s war on Islamic terrorism.
Notwithstanding the pro-Palestinian Arab talk, no Arab regime has flexed military or financial muscle on behalf of Hamas, consistent with the Arab conduct during the 2008/9, 2012 and 2014 Israel-Hamas wars, the 1987-1992 and 2000-2003 Palestinian intifadas and the 1982-83 Israel-PLO war in Lebanon. Since 1948, the Arabs have talked the pro-Palestinian talk—capturing the attention of Western media and policymakers—while avoiding the pro-Palestinian walk. No Arab war against Israel was ever launched on behalf of the Palestinians.
The absence of tangible Arab support for the current Hamas war on Israel reflects the consistent Arab view of the Palestinian Authority (PLO) and Hamas as role models of intra-Arab terrorism, subversion and ingratitude. This Arab view has been in response to Palestinian terrorism in Egypt (1950s), Syria (1960s), Jordan (1968-70 and 1980s), Lebanon (1970s and 1980s) and Kuwait (assisting Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion).
In the history-driven Middle East, memory is long: Palestinian intra-Arab treachery is not forgotten or forgiven.
The root cause of Palestinian terrorism
While Westerners observe the Gaza war through political and diplomatic lenses, and attribute terrorism to political and economic despair and deprivation, Hamas is driven by a fanatical, deeply-rooted religious vision. Thus, the current wave of Palestinian terrorism has been accompanied by calls to repeat Muhammad’s seventh-century massacre of the Jewish tribes in the Arabian Peninsula, and to free Jaffa, Lydda, Ramleh and Akko (in pre-1967 Israel!). On May 15, Palestinians commemorated the nakba—the “catastrophe” of Israel’s establishment.
Moreover, P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and Fatah were established in 1964 and 1959, in order to “liberate” pre-1967 Israel, not “the West Bank” and eastern Jerusalem, as documented by Abbas’s own hate-education curriculum.
Islam divides the world into the “abode of Islam” and those who have yet to either accept—or be subordinated to—Islam as the sole legitimate religion, or be eliminated. Thus, Hamas defines Israel as an illegitimate “infidel” sovereignty in the “abode of Islam,” which must be uprooted or brought to submission.
It is a matter of historical record that anti-Israel Palestinian terrorism preceded both the Six-Day War and the establishment of Israel.
The root cause of Palestinian terrorism is not the size but the very existence of the Jewish state. Palestinian terrorism is driven by Israel’s existence, irrespective of Israel’s policies. For example, in 1993 (Oslo) and 2005 (disengagement from Gaza), in a self-destructive attempt to create a “new Middle East,” Israel provided the Palestinians with unprecedented self-rule and a path to independence. However, as expected in the real Middle East, and based on the Arab experience with Palestinians, these critical Israeli policies yielded unprecedented waves of Palestinian hate education, incitement and terrorism.
This is because Palestinian terrorism is part and parcel of Arab/Islamic terrorism, which has dominated Middle East reality since the 7th century, when three of the first four caliphs who succeeded Muhammad were murdered. Palestinian terrorism and Arab/Islamic terrorism have mostly targeted Arabs/Muslims. Is it logical to assume that the “infidel” Jew or Christian will be treated more moderately?
There is no moral equivalence between Western-style democracies that strive to protect civilians and terrorists who systematically and deliberately target civilians, while abusing their own civilians as human shields.
The prerequisites for a successful battle against Arab/Islamic terrorism are the bolstering of one’s power of deterrence—in one of the most violently unpredictable and terror-driven regions of the world—accompanied by a realism-based policy, while avoiding appeasement and the delusion that Middle East rogue entities welcome Western norms, such as peaceful-coexistence, compliance with agreements, human rights and democracy.
Yoram Ettinger is a former ambassador and head of Second Thought: A U.S.-Israel Initiative.
This article was first published by The Ettinger Report.