‘Europeans killed 6 million Jews out of 12 million, but today the Jews still rule the world by proxy… 1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews. For well over half a century we have fought over Palestine… If we paused to think, then we could devise a plan, a strategy that can win us final victory’.
The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, speaking (jpost.com) to the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation conference in 2003
Westerners who want to understand why Israel is at war today cannot do so without a proper understanding of Islamic anti-Israelism.
Islamic anti-Israelism is a three-pronged ideology involving honor-shame, apocalypticism, and genocidal antisemitism, all of which are present in Islamism.
The West and the Islamic Middle East (with South Asia) started to diverge dramatically in their underlying philosophies during and after the two world wars. Today the West has become politically liberal and largely irreligious, although still Christian in character in some Western nations, such as here in the UK.
Every civilization has an underlying philosophy. The prevalent philosophy in the West is post-Modernism and its offshoots, all essentially atheistic, and bringing their own problems (there has never been a successful atheistic civilization, and I doubt there ever will be). In the Islamic nations, the prevalent philosophy is Islamism, a political philosophy based on religious fundamentalism. Islamism was the creation of the nascent Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in the 1930s.
In 2019, I was invited to a conference on antisemitism at Oxford University (hosted by ISGAP, or Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy). One of the speakers was Haris Rafiq, (a former adviser to the UK Government on terrorism and deradicalization). Rafiq’s talk (YouTube) explains that Islamism borrowed ideas from Nazism, including the call for genocidal antisemitism. Rafiq also explains that although most Islamists today are not violent, all Islamists by definition – including those who dupe governments and media they are ‘moderate’ – have extreme views, including genocidal antisemitism.
In this article for The Washington Institute, the Muslim political analyst and researcher Soner Cagaptay suggests that Islamists are not in fact Muslims, quote: ‘Islamism is not a form of the Muslim faith or an expression of Muslim piety; it is, rather, a political ideology that strives to derive legitimacy from Islam’.
Islamists disagree of course. Islamists maintain that they are the true Muslims, and that anti-Islamist Muslims have failed to heed the call. Soner Cagaptay, in this short talk on YouTube makes what I think is a good analysis between the working class and Communists, i.e. as Communism ripped through the world, not all working-class people became Communists. However, what is certain is that Communism prevailed in many nations, just as today Islamism prevails in many nations.
Islamism prevails, with its honor-shame, apocalypticism, and genocidal antisemitism, amongst the people in the world who identify as Muslims.
Our political class in the UK, Europe, USA, and Australasia has been programmed since university education to not accept that there is a clash of civilizations between the West and Islam, despite the prevalence of Islamism. Suggesting that the West and the prevalent forms of Islam are incompatible does not square with the ideology and conventional wisdom of multiculturalism.
Those of in the UK who point out that the culture and values of Islamism are incompatible with the long-held culture, values, laws and traditions of the UK are accusing of ‘othering’, i.e. diminishing the humanity of the other.
The accusation of ‘othering’ goes back to the hugely influential American-Palestinian academic Edward Saïd (1935–2003), who heaped scorn on ‘honor-shame’ criticism in Orientalism (1978).
Saïd and others have pointed out that, yes, honor killings are a problem for Islamic culture, just as domestic violence is a serious problem in the West. But the difference is that no-one of good standing in the West accepts that domestic violence is a necessary and desirable aspect of Western culture, whereas many men of good standing in the Islamic nations preach that honor-shame is necessary and desirable in Islamic culture.
Honor-shame motivates fathers who want to kill their daughters in order to maintain family honor. And honor-shame also motivates the leaders of Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon… who want to eradicate the tiny nation of Israel because it is formerly land that was conquered by Muslims. Shame, in Islamic culture, is passed down the generations until honor is restored through blood.
Today, some Islamic nations, rich (oil-rich) and poor, are obsessed with the catastrophic (‘Nakba’) loss of honor in losing wars to the Jews. In traditional Islamic law, Jews are second-class citizens (‘Dhimmis’), forbidden to carry arms, and in Islamism, Jews are vermin, ‘descended from pigs and apes (memri.org)’, for whom even Nature has contempt (sunnah.com). The fact that some Islamic nations have normalized relations with Israel, and others were planning to normalize with Israel, was intolerable to the regime in Iran (and all its political proxies bordering Israel). There is no greater humiliation to Islamism than the recognition of the nation of Israel. (Although Islamism is a movement that came out of Sunni Islam, the ayatollahs oversaw the translation into Persian the books of Muslim Brotherhood leader and Islamist philosopher Sayyid Qutb.)
In our times, Islamic honor-shame has met up with Islamic apocalypticism (the belief in an end-time global ‘Islamic State’), to be ultimately played out in Jerusalem. This is why the Islamic Republic of Iran (which has been overtly apocalyptic since the 1979 revolution) calls its elite special operations force the ‘Quds Force’, meaning ‘Jerusalem Force’. Similarly, the Houthi movement (Wikipedia) in Yemen is an apocalyptic movement, whose motto is, ‘God is the Greatest, Death to America, Death to Israel, Cursed be the Jews, Victory to Islam’.
The prevalence in contemporary Islam of honor-shame, apocalypticism, and genocidal antisemitism defies all Western commentators, reporters, and politicians who think that peace talks, diplomacy and financial aid can solve the problems of the Middle East. In any case, no region of the world has had as much money poured into it as the Gaza Strip. Hamas has some very rich donors, including Qatar, one of the richest nations in the world. Furthermore, Qatar pours money into Western universities – much of undeclared with strings attached (isgap.com) – to promote anti-Israelism on campus.
The motivations behind genocidal anti-Israelism threaten Western civilization. Here in the UK, we have started to witness this on the streets of our cities. It is far from only Israel and Diaspora Jews who are threatened by Islamism.
We must support Israel, and support the Islamic nations who are trying to normalize with Israel, and support the courageous followers of Islam who dare to challenge Islamism. More of us in the West need to understand how honor-shame, apocalypticism and genocidal antisemitism have become a triple threat.
For an understanding of the apocalyptic ideologies at play, there is perhaps no better scholar than Dr Richard Landes, a historian who specializes in apocalyptic movements, Christian and Islamic, down the ages. Here (jcpa.org) Richard talks about the genocidal apocalypticism that came to the fore in 2000, and has been ripping through the Islamic world ever since. The West has failed to take this movement seriously, but, pray, the events of recent weeks are forcing the West to wake up, and to take the Islamists at their word.