If competence were the only pre-requisite for negotiators then peace would also be achieved through unsolicited concessions and generosity of spirit. But that would be naïve. If we do not acknowledge history then we build up the false expectations of one side or the other that history can be repeated. Nations negotiate for advantage, not for any altruistic reason. Nations build up prejudices over centuries at the expense of the disenfranchised; they exploit weakness to disempower their victim. If the weak become strong, any atrocities committed in the past are inevitably revenged, creating a new dynamic for conflict and “historical” grievance. Disequilibrium does not result from inequality but from a shift in relative advantage.
Until they gained self-determination, Jews were a persecuted minority in the Muslim world. That damaging asymmetrical relationship was the currency of mostly Arab rule from the time that the mythical figure of Mohammad appeared on the scene in the 6th Century CE (or AD) and until Israel’s liberation in 1948. Firstly let me explain that last statement.
Religious figures of the magnitude of an Abraham, Jesus or Mohammed are objects of faith – None of them can be proven to have existed. That is why we call it faith. If we accept their existence by virtue of the writings of the men who followed them it does not automatically follow that we must also accept the theological mandate, or diktat that men of faith have demanded. That is Islam (submission); it is not Judaism. Our heroes were never infallible. To accept without questioning all of the religious literature written mostly by men assumes a universal altruism which does not exist in the historical record. Fallibility does not make faith any less important to people’s lives but it does mean that we do, ALL OF US, have a choice. That choice is whether we accept what others write about us in order to impose upon us a label or whether we allow the other their faith, but choose to disagree with the relevance to us of their theology or writings.
If some of those writings are offensive then we must also decide how we are going to interact with both the script and those people who adhere to its message. At the same time, our response must not make us insensitive to the feelings of either our friends, or our enemies. Jewish fear and past history has made many Jews narrow-minded and fearful of criticism. Taking every slight as a new call for our ethnic cleansing does not help to explain our fears and causes us to appear as if we care for only one issue.
This is our problem and more so for Jews than for Christians and Muslims. For while the Church recognizes that some of what has been written over the centuries by Christian theologians was toxic by design and murderous by intent, the Shoah encouraged a reappraisal by many but not all Christians of past narratives and the relationships that they created.
Islam though, has never been forced either by circumstances or by religious necessity to confront the original sin of its creation, its bloodlust, and its ongoing narrative contempt for all non-Muslim infidel nations.
The Muslim triumvirate of holy writings are the Koran (the word of Mohammed), the Sunna (the body of traditional Islamic law based on the life of Mohammed), and the Hadith (the account of things said by Mohammed and his followers which is the canonical basis for Islamic Law.) The most canonical Hadith is Sahih al-Bukhari. It is said to be 98 per cent violent jihad. To many Muslims it is the most important book after the Koran.
The Koran ridicules the non-Muslim and while there are said to be many contradictory passages within it, the doctrine of abrogation enables followers to pick and choose; to behave with casual disdain or with violent assault. Earlier passages in the Koran are more tolerant, probably because they refer to a period when alliances were necessary in order for the faithful to grow in strength and gain control. Later texts are much less tolerant; Mohammad and his conquistadors were powerful enough to repudiate earlier treaties of amity and to assail their competitors.
The tragic reality is that while reciprocity is the key ingredient to tolerance in society, it is wholly absent from countries in which Muslims form the majority and in countries where they are the minority it is the reason multiculturalism has failed. Demands that we respect the Islamic right to preach hatred and to behave with bigotry are unsurprisingly accompanied by expectations of protection that are often in excess of any thing offered to the targets of that hatred.
A very small selection of statements by Muslim leaders follows:
- Jews are “the scum of the human race, the rats of the world….and the offspring of apes and pigs” Abdul Rahman al-Sudais, imam at the Masjid al-Haram mosque in Mecca. The Sacred Mosque or The Grand Mosque is the largest mosque in the world and surrounds the Kaaba. al-Sudais has a global audience.
- Israeli leaders “cannot be called humans, they are like animals….Israel is the sinister, unclean rabid dog of the region.” Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
- “Against us stood the most intelligent people on earth….we succeeded in compelling the Jews to do what we wanted … and what have we given them in return? A piece of paper!….we have established sophisticated machinery to control and limit to the minimum contacts with the Jews. President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. (Ephraim Dowek, Israeli-Egyptian Relations 1980-2000 (London: Cass, 2001) Also, see below.)
- “Over the decades he (Mubarak) reduced interaction with Israel to the minimum level, he fostered a culture of virulent antisemitism in Egypt, turning his country into the world’s most prolific producer of antisemitic ideas and attitudes.“ (Palestine Betrayed. Ephraim Karsh)
Islam’s ‘friends’ say that these are no more than the extreme views of radical fringe groups. They are not. They are the views of the political and religious leadership of the Muslim world. These quotations aren’t insane rants of incoherent gibberish nor do they emanate from the orifice of some clinically delusional nut. University professors as well as world leaders believe in the writings of a mythic 6th Century warlord whose lust for power rapidly built a political force that today threatens to dominate the globe.
If Muslims scream hatred from the political and religious pulpit then peace is not possible, except as a sham.
The USA, desperate to keep Russia from re-establishing its influence in Egypt turned a blind eye to the unadulterated poison pulsing through the veins of the Arab world’s most influential nations (Egypt and Saudi Arabia) just as it now does so, with Iran, Turkey; the Palestinian Authority and Gaza. Short sightedness fosters greater long term regional instability because it makes nations bereft of trust; insecurity is never a formula for international peace.
I am reminded of the threat of a previous era. During the peace protests of the 1960’s a favored mantra of the anti-nuclear lobby was the strategic estimate that nine nuclear weapons were all the Soviet Union needed to destroy the UK. The USSR had deployed 50 missiles against mainland Britain. The language used by Israel’s enemies against her and against Jews worldwide precludes nothing. If words are bombs the greater Muslim world is its premier nuclear power.
The terrible rhetoric of Israel’s enemies has its Islamic foundation in the deserts of Saudi Arabia 1,400 years ago. The US President and his political followers here in Europe expect Israel to trust in them when they have not EVER been minded to sanction those for whom this primeval bigotry is just business as usual. This grotesque tolerance follows naturally on from an extreme form of individualism that accepts elemental chauvinism as a right for others to display, and more frighteningly, as a right of others, to act upon their beliefs, without interference.
Throughout its history Trojan Horses have taken many forms. ‘Religion of Peace’ is one of the memes used by Islam and its western apologists. Most of the Near-East was created by Britain and France after the First World War. In 1920, the San Remo Conference created a legal basis for carving up the defunct Ottoman Empire into artificial states. Those states were always dysfunctional and they could only ever be ruled by force of arms. Read again the words of hate. If containment contributed to the fall of Communism, why then, do we actively prop up hate saturated Muslim nations?
Perhaps the main issue is this: the greater Israel’s insecurity becomes, the more difficult it is to negotiate, let alone promote a two state solution. Is it in the interest of the USA and others to ignore incitement from the Muslim side and to subsequently blame Israel for its intransigence? There are financial penalties for doing what is right, and huge financial benefits to embracing Hitler’s Muslim predecessors.