So much to report today, so much to respond to. But, for me, it all ties together.
I spent a large portion of the day today at a conference called “Facing Jihad” at the Begin Center here in Jerusalem Sponsored by MK Aryeh Eldad and the Ariel Institute, it featured some excellent speakers and a short film.
Robert Spencer, who works with the Jihad Watch of the Horowitz Freedom Center; John David Lewis, visiting professor of political science at Duke University; Dr. David Bukay, who teaches in the Political Science Department of Haifa University, with specialization in Arab and Palestinian issues; Itamar Marcus, director of the Palestinian Media Watch; Shlomo Sharan, Professor Emeritus, Tel Aviv University School of Education; Simon Deng, former Sudanese slave and human rights activist — witness to the horror inflicted on the Christian Sudanese of the Islamic government of Sudan; Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East; and Dutch parliamentarian and founder of the Freedom Party, Geert Wilders, who produced the film “Fitna,” which was shown.
I would like to summarize the main thrust of the messages offered in the conference, interspersing some of the specifics provided by the speakers:
Israel and the Western world are seriously, indeed existentially, threatened by Islamic Jihad. There is no absolute consensus as to whether there is such a thing as moderate Islam — that is, whether we need to look at a specific form of Islam known as “radical Islam,” or whether Islam by its nature is radical. It was conceded across the board that there are certainly some moderate individuals who are Muslim, but the sense is that Muslim nations are not — even and including those typically called “moderate” by the US.
It is state Islam that is the danger, the purveyor of the threat to the Western way of life.
What is Islam (or radical Islam) after? Nothing less than control of the world via restoration of a caliphate. Certainly control from China to Spain, with some speaking of control of the Americas as well. The ideology promoted is one that advocates an Islamic theocracy, with no individual human freedoms. This is an absolute holy war for the sake of Allah.
The danger takes various forms.
One is overt terrorist attacks. This is Jihad (which is a promotion of bloody violence and not an internal struggle as sometimes represented). The film “Fitna” showed this most vividly, as it juxtaposes quotes from the Koran and terrorist acts.
Itamar Marcus similarly showed various clips from Palestinian TV (Fatah as well as Hamas) demonstrating as clearly as clear could be that the message is violent and that Palestinians are encouraged to believe that killing Jews is what Allah wants. This message is everywhere: in books, sports coverage (events named after terrorists), texts, TV interviews, sermons by clerics, etc. etc. The violence advocated is extreme enough so that genocide is sometimes advocated. And, it should be noted, these Palestinian messages go world-wide via satellite for Muslims to see.
The other major method of promoting Islam is via stealth: internal subversion that promotes immigration into a Western country and then attacks the nation’s culture and secular constitution, incrementally introducing Sharia, Islamic law. This is happening in Europe today. This is not a legitimate exercise in freedom, for it invokes the protection of Western constitutions to destroy those constitutions, claiming the “right” to destroy rights.
The techniques utilized by radical Islamists in promoting their agenda include Dawa, a sort of missionary activity endorsed by Islamic holy texts. Islam, in the service of promoting the Muslim cause, permits misinformation — advancing lies as a strategy, and dissimulation — concealing one’s beliefs or telling only part of the truth.
According to Dr. Bukay, the next major Dawa event will be Durban II, at which a catastrophic attack on the Western world is planned with regard to “Islamophobia,” The goal is to utilize the UN to criminalize defamation of Islam, thereby shutting down criticism.
The Western world is not responding well to these threats, because there is no coherent policy, only a stop-gap response in each case. Multiculturalism, which is so prevalent today, undercuts the West. It is a cultural egalitarianism that forbids Westerners to say that the Western way of life — with individual human freedoms — is better than what Islam promotes. I have cited both Steve Emerson and Daniel Pipes on this before: There is a reluctance to even name the enemy. But we cannot defeat what we fear to even name.
Accompanying this is a sort of misplaced altruism that bids Westerners to confront the fact that they have oppressed other peoples — which means they must be compassionate in judging the radicals now, and be giving to them.
The reality, however, is that this is a war of civilizations. If the Western way of life is to survive, the radical Islamists must be defeated.
This leads us now to the issue of Israel within this broader context.
Geert Wilders said this:
“Israel is on the fault line of Jihad receiving the blows meant for all of us.”
The war against Israel is a war against the West, and the fight must be fought here.
What is clear is that radical Islam, which includes both Fatah and Hamas, wants Israel destroyed, and certainly not a “two-state solution.” Our presence on Wakf land is offensive to the Islamists. Permitting a Palestinian state would weaken us seriously, as it would truly resolve nothing. It would serve only as a stepping stone for what they intend next. (Remember, they consider it legitimate for Allah’s sake to dissemble when signing peace treaties with non-Muslims.)
Daniel Pipes traced the path Israel has taken, which is a losing path right now. No state in history, he says, has faced the array of problems Israel faces.
Arab rejection of Zionism is clear, but the position of the Arabs has shifted. Where once there was a desire to destroy Israel, now it’s more a matter of ideologically undermining it and co-opting it. Israel was first said to be part of Greater Syria, and then part of pan-Arabism. Then Palestinianism arose, which is now part of the Muslim world Jihad.
Prior to 1993, Israel sought Arab acceptance by being tough — doing deterrence. The idea was to demonstrate that we were here to stay and could not be defeated. But post Oslo this was replaced with appeasement. The people of Israel were tired of waiting it out. We no longer sought victory, but resolution via timely concessions. There was the notion that we were actors in determining our fate via the “peace process.”
By 2000, it was clear that this wouldn’t work, and then Israel moved to unilateral withdrawal.
Since 2006, there has been only confusion.
But victory can only be achieved if we defeat our enemy. No mediation is possible between Israel and the Arabs because the goals are diametrically opposed. The key is Israel’s will to go on.
The Palestinians are feeling strong now. There should be no aid given to them, no recognition, no meetings. Nothing that strengthens them. They need to see they cannot win.
Lastly, here I want to return, yes, one more time, to the Netanyahu-Feiglin issues of the last few days. First, it’s obvious, especially in light of the above, that we cannot couch discussion of protecting or sustaining Israel purely in religious ideological terms. The issue of security looms large as well.
I had made the comment recently that Feiglin’s religious nationalist ideology would not resonate with the Israeli public and that he, therefore, could not win for Likud were he heading the party — the win would go to the leftists.
Prof. Shlomo Sharan, speaking today, addressed the painful reality of why this is so:
Over a period of years, the left wing ministers of education we’ve had, and their cohorts in academia, have consistently reduced the amount of education provided in our (secular) public schools on the history and culture of our own people and our own country. “Universalist” values have been substituted, with lessons on Greek culture and more. Jewish Zionist components in education have been devalued, considered “ethnocentrism.” In current history books in schools here there are pictures of Churchill, Roosevelt, Salvador Dali, Freud, but not of Ben Gurion, Weizmann, or Herzl. (Can I write these words and not weep?)
Says Prof. Sharan,
“It is the moral responsibility of educators to sustain the values of our State through education so that the State may survive.”
Our educators, with their own distorted agenda, have failed the State miserably.
If we wish to sustain our State, then we must be pragmatic in determining how this can be done. It’s not a question of putting into place as leader of Israel someone who promotes religious Zionist ideology with conviction. It’s an issue of whether it’s possible to place such a person who could become a leader now.
Whether I, personally, believe in religious Zionist ideology seems to me beside the point. My concern is with sustaining Israel’s existence. Right now I see no viable alternative to Netanyahu. That is realistic. I cannot read his heart. Bennie Begin says he’s matured. Some people have written to me to say that he’ll be good. Others don’t trust him at all. I see him as a far far better bet than Livni. I am pleased that at a minimum he’s focusing on security issues and pray he holds tight on this. His slate — even as adjusted — is a strong one, with Bennie Begin, and Moshe Ya’alon and more. They will provide strength for his spine.
And then, my dear friends, as we secure the existential safety of the State of Israel, we have a long hard job to do in educating the populace to who we are and why it matters.
I make one last comment here: MK Aryeh Eldad, an exemplary human being and devoted nationalist, is to be congratulated for putting together this conference. He cares passionately about the existence of Israel as a Jewish state. But he categorizes himself as a secular nationalist. He does not wear a kippah. A lesson here on not defining too narrowly who speaks for the State.