Saturday, 30 June 2012
Fitzgerald: Islamochristians And Israel
Re-posted from Dec. 5, 2005:
A kind of mental or conceptual paralysis prevents American, European, and even Israeli policymakers -- perhaps most intolerably, Israeli policymakers -- from recognizing the Muslim sources of Arab Muslim opposition to the well-being, or permanent existence, of a Jewish (i.e., non-Muslim) sovereign state in the middle of dar al-Islam. Of course, such opposition is also shared by certain "Palestinian" islamochristian Arabs, such as Naim Ateek, or the gunrunner for the PLO Archbishop Hilarion Cappucci, or Hanan Ashrawi, the good friend of Peter Jennings. Like the Christians who helped found the Ba'athist party (such as Michel Aflaq, who "reverted" to Islam at the end of his life), these Arab "islamochristians" have sought to make their own lives tolerable, and to find a way, as Christians, to survive in the midst of a permanently hostile Arab Muslim world. The only strategy they have discovered, once they realized that the European powers no longer were going to protect them (as France, for example, had helped protect Christians in Lebanon and Syria a century ago), is that of accepting, adopting, and promoting the Muslim worldview. They echo the refusal of Muslim Arabs to permanently accept Israel as a sovereign state, or for that matter the Maronites of Lebanon as autonomous in their own Lebanese redoubts, and thereby hope to curry favor, and deflect the violence, of the Muslims among whom they live.
And along with that, many "Christian" Arabs have been convinced of the intimate connection between Islam and "Arabtum" or "Uruba" or "Arabness." This is carefully encouraged by the Muslim Arabs, who believe that all Arabs, whether Christian or not, must somehow rally around Islam as the defining feature, the great achievement, the gift to all mankind, of the Arabs, in whose language the Qur'an was dictated to Muhammad, an Arab and the "best of men," who was a member of the "best of peoples." Those speakers or users of Arabic have been persuaded that this makes them "Arabs," though many of them, no doubt, are the descendants of the Christians and Jews who once populated the area before the Muslim Arab invaders arrived. They have been made to feel, they do feel, that their own ethnic identity is somehow wrapped up in the defense of Islam.
Of course they are wrong. Of course Islam does not now bode well, and never has boded well, for Christians in the Middle East (or anywhere else). Of course many of those "Christian" Arabs -- such as the Maronites and Copts -- are not Arabs at all, but rather indigenous peoples who were given Arab names, forced to use Arabic, and otherwise "arabized" -- as, over centuries, their own countries were islamized. "Christian" Arabs who, like Cappucci or Ashrawi, tried to fit in by adopting and promoting or parroting the Islamic agenda, and who as Arabs cannot bring themselves to turn their backs on Islam in the way that non-Arab Christians -- such as Christians in Pakistan and Indonesia -- have no trouble doing, may still not realize that they actually have a stake in Israel's survival as a strong and viable non-Muslim power. But not a few of the local Arab Christians, especially those who have clamored for Israeli residency cards or citizenship, or those who are simply fleeing the P.A.'s Islamic rule by leaving for Australia or Canada, have finally begun to realize that there is no hope for them under Muslim rule. For non-Muslims now used to the concept of equal treatment for minorities (word gets around, throughout the world), can no longer tolerate what they tolerated for centuries. Either the Muslims themselves will change, or the Muslim-dominated countries will empty out of non-Muslims -- as has been happening in Pakistan, in Bangladesh, and more recently, in Egypt and Lebanon, where Copts and Maronites have diminished in relative numbers and in power.
It is madness to give the "Palestinians" -- i.e., those local Arabs who appropriated that name post-1967 -- any weapons more than rifles and jeeps. But the Americans do not see this. They do not see that without Israel, there is no possible purchase for the West in the Middle East anywhere closer than Ethiopia or the southern Sudan. They do not realize, or choose to realize, that the "Palestinian people" business is a recent invention, a repackaging of the old Jihad that Ahmed Shukairy (Arafat's predecessor), Azzam Pasha (Secretary-General of the Arab League in 1948, and great-uncle to Ayman al-Zawahiri) discussed in such unambiguous and naked terms.
But nowadays, nothing is too ridiculous for some who make American policy, or for the obstinate and slightly demented Ariel Sharon (who once had an idea, and now that idea has him, no matter how obviously foolish and dangerous that idea has turned out to be). They know that the "solution" exists, and that this "solution" is two states, and no discussion of the worldview of Islam, unshakeable and immutable, will change their minds. Show them the discussion by Majid Khadduri of the Law of War and Peace in Islam, show them the model of the Treaty of Al-Hudaibiyya, and they will simply ignore it or attempt to explain it away, as if it could not possibly be true. For if it were true, if that were the basis of all Muslim treaties and agreements with Infidels, then all those treaties and agreements that have been the insane focus of the DennisRosses and the RichardHasses, and the Indyks, and Kissinger's shuttle diplomacy, and the Rogers Plan, and all the rest of it, would be seen -- as they should be seen -- as grotesque, as essentially missing the larger point. Which, of course, they all did.
Building up the "Palestinian" armory makes even less sense than buidling up the "Iraqi" army with American weaponry, or than supplying stingers to mujahideen in Afghanistan, or than allowing Pakistan to get away with its nuclear project, or than continuing to give malevolent and meretricious Egypt $2 billion in aid when Egypt is now spending $7.5 billion on arms purchases which can only conceivably be used against Infidels -- either Israel, at some future point, or possibly against Ethiopia.
Who cares if that weaponry will inevitably fall into terrorist hands, or be used by the people to whom it is given in the first place to make even more hellishly difficult the job of defending Israel? Israel itself has become an abstraction, a place where the odds are against it are unimportant, as is the ratio of length-of-border to area-of-country, and it is already the highest in the world -- why, who still remembers that phrase "secure and defensible borders" anyway? If that idea gets in the way of the "Two-State Solution," then the very idea has to go.
And since that Two-State "Solution" requires forgetting the Mandate for Palestine, forgetting the legal, historical, and moral claim of Israel to all of the territory now known as "the West Bank" (a toponym invented after 1948, for the same reasons the Romans replaced "Judea" with "Palestine"), then those claims will simply be ignored by the outside world. And many Israelis too, not less ignorant of their own history than outsiders, will forget or never knew of that claim, of their own rights.
Just look at how many people all over the world, without a moment's skepticism, have accepted the appropriation by the local Arabs of the designation "Palestinian" -- which then leads to the idiotic but plausible notion that since the place is called "Palestine" and there are these people called "Palestinians," ergo it must belong to them. What could be simpler, what could be more obvious? Many of those “Palestinians" are recent arrivals, with Egyptian or Iraqi grandparents who came in the 1920s and 1930s, illegal immigrants through borders that were, for the Jews, difficult to breach, but for the Arabs, porous. That is the kind of detail that, while well-known to both "Palestinians" and Israelis, never quite makes it to the Western press. That Western press is secure in the certainty of its own examined certainties. One of them is that Israel is an aggressor and thief of land, and that “Palestinian” Christians as well as Muslims will be better off under Islamic rule. It doesn't look that way in Bethlehem, or anywhere else where Christians live in the Middle East -- not in Alexandria, not in Cairo, not in Algeria, where all foreign Christians have been killed, not in Iraq, where new freedoms include the freedoom to kidnap, terrorize, and murder Christians, not in Syria, where only the Alawite military keep things from degenerating further, not in Lebanon where the Christians were a few decades ago a majority, but have seen their numbers, their power, their influence, their security, steadily reduced.
The day could come when “Palestinian” Christians long for the good old days in Israel, when they enjoyed complete freedom of worship, and physical security, from the very people -- the Jews of Israel -- that some of them are doing so much to undermine. They should look at the history of Christians under Islam, from Indonesia to Morocco. They might just have time to reconsider. But one doubts that enough of them will, in time, for their own good.
Posted on 06/30/2012 9:40 AM by Hugh Fitzgerald
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