Monday, 5 October 2009

Myths of the Arab-Israeli Conflict - #1

This occasional feature is designed to pierce the lies and inaccuracies that currently pervade general public perception of the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbours, particularly the Palestinians. As the creep of Eurabia has continued its rapid expansion, the anti-Israel bias in the media and in the upper echelons of our leadership has become more and more virulent, and so it has become increasingly common for the average man or woman on the Western street, whether Muslim, Jewish, Christian or atheist, to hold the misguided belief that Israel and the Palestinians are morally equivalent - or even that Israel is the real bad guy in the scenario.

This viewpoint is not only wrong, but it's also dangerous. Israel is the only fully functioning pluralistic democracy in the entire Middle East, and as such represents a beacon of civilisation defending Western, Judeo-Christian values against an onslaught designed to eradicate those values. Israel's enemies wish to destroy it utterly - but they wouldn't stop there. The next stage would be to establish a Caliphate in the very heart of Europe and beyond, as Hamas MP and cleric Yunis al-Astal made clear in 2008. As such, Israel represents the last vanguard against a great victory for Islamic jihad, and a sad day for true lovers of freedom.

Anyway, the first myth is debunked below. Enjoy.

"Israel 'stole' land from the Palestinians/is occupying Palestine"

Here's what happened: After the Ottoman Empire collapsed, part of it became the United Nations Mandate for historical Palestine. The British promised to make the Mandate a homeland for the Jews. But in 1922, Winston Churchill gave 80% of Palestine to the Arabs. This 80% made up what is known today as the Muslim state of Jordan. That could have been the Palestinian "homeland", if the Muslims had accepted it.

But they didn't. In their eyes, 20% of the Mandate for the Jews was still too much. So in 1948, the UN divided that 20% into two more parts, one for the Muslims, the other for the Jews. At this stage, the Muslims had 90% of the original Palestinian Mandate in their grasp.

But that still wasn't enough. The Muslim opponents of the creation of a Jewish state rallied behind the call of Hasan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood: “If the Jewish State becomes a fact [the Arabs] will drive the Jews who live in their midst into the sea.”

What was it they objected to in the first place? To answer this question, one needs to understand Islamic law. All of historical Palestine was conquered by Islamic armies in the seventh century. According to the sharia, whenever a Muslim land is usurped by unbelievers, all Muslims must fight to reclaim it. Israel, as an infidel polity on such “Muslim land”, must be eradicated by jihad and reclaimed for Islam. Ibn Taymiyya (d.1328), the famous jurist of the Hanbali school, wrote: “If the enemy enters a Muslim land, there is no doubt that it is obligatory for the closest and then the next closest to repel him, because the Muslim lands are like one land.” The Hamas charter makes clear that this is the primary reason for waging jihad against Israel: “The Islamic Resistance Movement maintains that the land of Palestine is Waqf land given as endowment for all generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection...This is the legal status of the land of Palestine according to Islamic law. In this respect, it is like any other land that the Muslims have conquered by force, because the Muslims consecrated it at the time of the conquest as religious endowment for all generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection...There is nothing that speaks more eloquently and more profoundly of nationalism than the following: when the enemy tramples Muslim territory, waging jihad and confronting the enemy become a personal duty of every Muslim man and Muslim woman.” (Articles 11 and 12)

Israel in its current form constitutes less than 1% of the entire Middle East, but Muslims are unable to accept even this little Jewish presence on "their" land. On the day Israel was created in 1948, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq all declared war on it, claiming that Israel had “occupied” their land. And it had, of course, according to traditional Islamic law. But the Muslims have no more “right” to live in Palestine than do the Jews, since the Jews had been living there long before the Muslim armies invaded and captured the land in the first place.

In short, the Arab-Israeli conflict is caused by Islamic jihad, not by “illegal Israeli occupation” of “Arab” land.

I anticipate that some readers may recollect that Israel actually invaded the Gaza strip in 1967, and they may wonder how that doesn't constitute an illegal occupation. It is to this issue that I will be devoting the next instalment of this series, which will also deals with those terrifying Israeli settlements which keep Barack Obama awake at night.

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