Monday, 22 March 2010
From an interview with Der Spiegel with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman:
"Lieberman: There is a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of this conflict. It started as a national conflict between two people over one piece of land. But it developed into a religious conflict. It is a clash of civilizations which you cannot solve with a territorial compromise."
This is not true, and it reveals a deep misunderstanding by Lieberman. The war made on the Jews in Israel, during the Mandatory period, and even during the decades before, was a war by Muslims made against the Jews. It continued to be a war by Muslims against Jews, for those Muslims could not accept the idea that the Jews might indeed be working toward the creation of an Infidel nation-state on land once in Muslim -- though not in Arab -- possession, for the Turks had held it for the previous 400 years .
There was no secret made of this. The Mufti (so often, and so carelessly, called the "Grand Mufti) of Jerusalem, Amin el Husseini, regarded the conflict as one of Muslims against Jews. The Arabs who attacked Jews in Hebron in 1929, killing all who remained in the city, one of the four cities regarded as holy in Judaism, and the site of a continuous and uninterrupted Jewish presence for at least two thousand years, did so because they were prompted by what Islam inculcates about the Jews. The Arab gangs who terrorized Jewish villagers and farmers in the 1930s, during the Arab Revolt, were determined to prevent the Jews from ever establishing themselves. The five Arab armies that attacked the nascent state of Israel in mid-May 1948, attempting to snuff out its young life, were not interested in, had never heard of, a "Palestinian people" (so much for Lieberman's "started as a national conflict btween two people over one piece of land), but were interested in making sure that the Jews did not continue to have a state of their own. It hardly mattered if the local Arabs and the land they were on became incorporated into Egypt, or others became, with the land they lived on, incorporated into the Arab Kingdom of Transjordan (now Jordan). The important thing was to deny the Jews a state, no matter how small that state. Hence the Arab rejection of the Partition Plan, and with that rejection, the plan became an offer that had been withdrawn, no longer existed, could not be revived.
It was only after the Six-Day War that while the Israelis were delighting in the fact that they had survived, and now had control of the Old City and the Western Wall, that they became foolishly unvigilant about what was happening, and did not pay attention to the importance of words, and how they mold the minds of men. And it was then that the Arabs began their campaign to re-package the Jihad (see Hajj Amin El Husseini in the 1920s, see Qassem in the 1930s, see Azzam Pasha in 1948, see Ahmed Shukairy in the 1950s and early 1960s) as something else: as an effort at "national liberation" of the invented-for-the-occasion "Palestinian people."
And this continues to be useful in the West, though everyone in the Arab world knows perfectly well that at the bottom of the war against Israel is not a deep and touching solicitude for the Arabs, either of Gaza or the "West Bank," but a deep and abiding hatred of Israel, whose existence is a constant affront to Arab amour-propre. Look at the way Israel is metaphorically treated, as either a "knife" in the heart of the Arabs, or as a "cancer." within the body of the Arabs.
If a knife is sticking in you, you don't full it out part-way, you pull it out all the way. And if you have a cancerous tumor, you don't remove part of it. You remove all of it. By their metaphors shall ye know them.
Avigdor Lieberman may be described as "tough" and "outspoken" and so on. But he's failed to grasp the problem deeply enough, failed to see it in its world-historical context. He's good, but not quite good enough. Perhaps he will become so. God knowss Israel needs the very best people in its political class, and hasn't, by and large, alas, in recent decades, been getting them. And that is bad for Israel and that is bad for the entire West, for the fates of Israel and the West are intertwined, as so few seem as yet to understand.
Posted on 03/22/2010 6:08 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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