During the 20th century, the Middle East conflict was seen as an Israeli-Arab territorial conflict that later became the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and was dealt with as such. The Palestine of the British Mandate which was to become the Jewish homeland was divided in order for the Arabs to have their own land. But it did not solve the conflict. The Arab still did not want a Jewish home after getting 75 percent of Mandatory Palestine.
Already in 1935, Muslim scholars issued several fatwas prohibiting peace and normalization with Jews. In 1936, scholars of Egypt’s Al-Azhar University ruled that it was the duty of all Muslims to engage in jihad “to save Palestine.” In 1989, eminent Muslim scholars from 18 countries ruled that it was prohibited for Muslims to give up any part of Palestine.
Some 1,300 years after the conquest of the land in 636 by the Muslims, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, led the Great Revolt in 1936 that was repressed while the Jews continued to dry the swamps, as well as settle and rejuvenate the land. These events confirmed what the Zohar (Kabala) had said, i.e., that the deserted land was given temporarily to the children of Ishmael for 1,300 years. No more.
After 1967, the concept of “Land for Peace” was again considered a condition for resolving the conflict. For Israel, the 1993 Oslo Agreements and their territorial concessions were supposed to bring peace. It brought death and suffering. During the 25 years before the Oslo Agreements, “only” 254 people were killed in attacks committed by Palestinian Arabs. From the signing of the “Declaration of Principles” on Sept. 13, 1993 to Sept. 28, 2000, i.e., in seven years, 256 civilians and soldiers were victims of Palestinian terror attacks. From Sept. 27, 2000 to Sept. 1, 2015, some 1,217 persons were killed (868 civilians), and 5,087 (4,737 civilians) were injured. From Sept. 2, 2015 through April 14, 2017, 46 were killed and 56 wounded. And the attacks continue today.
For the Palestinian Arabs, the Oslo Agreements were the application of the PLO’s 1974 “step-by-step plan.” Few have ever considered that what Israel strives for—peace and normalization—the Palestinian Arabs and Muslims cannot deliver, nor that Israel will ever deliver what the Arab Muslims want, the disappearance of Israel and of the Jews in their own land—land they consider Muslim Trust Land.
New actors have appeared in the Middle East conflict, including the Iranian Mullahs (1979), Hezbollah (1982), Hamas (1987), Al-Qaeda (1988) and the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham, 2006).
The conflict has been considered a territorial conflict by all states and dealt with as such, even by Israel, and with a reasonable hope that a compromise over land would bring peace. The Trump administration seems to follow the same concept, while adding the sweetener of “billions of dollars.”
But a wider perspective of this conflict leads to the conclusion that because of misguided thinking, ideology and theology there is and will be, for the medium term, no peace in the Middle East.
Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims are engaged in a jihadist religious conflict, a theological/metaphysical conflict with Israel’s Jews, however much the West may refuse to see it. The BDS movement and the resulting sudden rise in anti-Semitism is part of this jihadist war against the Jews living around the world and in America, who is considered to side with Israel. It aims to delegitimize them and destroy the existing alliance between the United States and Israel.
American Jews have failed to realize that Islamic propaganda has penetrated, under the guise of Palestinian human rights. They do not fight J Street’s aims, an Obama creation to support his actions to side with the Palestinian/Arab/Muslim discourse, and to weaken American Jewish support for Israel. They underestimated the effect of the Arab States’ investments and propaganda in American universities. They did not fight Jewish Voice for Peace, IfNotNow and other NGOs whose members might well be diagnosed as having a “Stockholm syndrome” unless they are unaware of the nature of the conflict.
Understanding the problem must begin by inspection of its roots. The Palestinian leaders, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabis, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda, ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham), most of the Muslim states, the Iranian mullahs and government, all from whichever Islamic persuasion, share the same jihadist ideology, encapsulated in one sentence: “Allah is our goal, the prophet is our ideal, the Koran is our constitution, jihad is our way, and death for the sake of Allah is our aspiration.”
The Jews in Israel are not their only enemies to be destroyed. This ideology justifies the killing of Jews and of infidels whoever they are and wherever they are found—from New York to Mumbai, Paris, Boston, San Bernardino, Orlando, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Berlin, Manchester and London; and as far away as China, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and the Philippines.
This jihadist war is also underway against the Americans and all “infidels”: Christians, Yazidis, Hindus, Buddhists and in a general manner all those who do not believe in the “religion of truth,” i.e., Islam; and against those Muslims who compromise with such so-called infidels. Over time, the Palestinian/Arab/Muslim conflict with Israel was extended against the non-Muslim world, and all those Muslims who do not share their goal, ideal, constitution, way and aspiration. You don’t have to be a prophet to foresee that unfortunately, a radical backlash, as in the horrific murders in Christchurch, New Zealand, is coming as a consequence of this jihadi war.
Muslims cannot accept that the Jews did not convert to Islam; that Christendom did not convert to Islam, nor that its conquests in Europe ended somewhere before Poitiers in France; that they lost Andalusia and some of the other lands that they had conquered for Islam in Europe, in Asia and the Far East; and that they are now feel discriminated against and even persecuted in several countries as far away as the Philippines, China, Burma, Kashmir, Somalia, Eritrea, Chechnya, Russia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
History has shown that to make an abstraction of the various complex dimensions of the Middle East conflicts leads nowhere. Nonetheless, world leaders and the media continue to deal with the Israeli/Palestinian/Arab/Muslim conflict as a territorial issue. They believe that if it could be resolved, Kumbaya peace and brotherhood would come to the whole world.
While the Trump administration has taken the right steps against the Palestinian Authority and UNRWA, it seems that it has decided not to deal now with the real source of the conflict. His Oslo-style proposition, plus money, will again bring suffering for all—whether the Palestinians, the Israelis and the Muslims accept it or not. Any territorial compromise and a Palestinian state will be only a step towards Israel’s total destruction. Israel cannot take such risk. Land for peace and billions of dollars will not change Koranic fervor and will not bring peace.
The writer was born in Tunis, Tunisia. An expert in international law, he was a member of the International Court of Arbitration representing Israel. He is the author of “The Middle East and World War III: Why No Peace?” with a preface by Col. Richard Kemp, CBE.