An Afterword for The Cunning of History

by Richard Rubenstein (July 2015)

Introductory note: In 1975, Harper & Row published the first edition of my book, The Cunning of History: Mass Death and the American Future. In 1978, Harper & Row published a paperback edition with an introduction by William Styron, the author of Sophie’s Choice. In 2004, I received a request from a French publisher, Olivier Veron, for an “Afterword” bringing the book up to date. In the aftermath of 9/11, I focused on the threat of radical Islam. The Afterword was published in France in La Perfiie de l’Histoire. We are presenting it in English for the first time in this issue of New English Review.

The first edition of The Cunning of History was written at a time when the Cold War was very much alive. Throughout much of the post-World War II period, the conflict between the United States and its NATO allies and the Soviet Union was of paramount importance in international relations. There was always the danger that some action by either side, however accidental, might result in the launching of a catastrophic nuclear exchange. Fortunately, deterrence was effective during the Cold War because the conflict was between two powers whose leaders were risk-takers but not suicidal.

By 1974 attention had shifted to the Middle East. On October 6, 1973, Yom Kippur in the Jewish religious calendar, Egypt and Syria opened a coordinated surprise attack against Israel. During the first two days of fighting, Israel lost territory. Eventually, Israel repulsed the invaders and drove into Syrian and Egyptian territory. As the Arab states exhausted their supplies, they were speedily resupplied by the Soviet Union which rejected U.S. efforts to work toward a ceasefire. The United States then began its own airlift to Israel. The Middle-Eastern conflict was a surrogate for the larger conflict between the two nuclear superpowers. The focus remained the Cold War.

Nevertheless, the focus had begun to shift. On October 17, 1973, in the midst of the Yom Kippur War, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) declared an oil embargo against the West. Arab members of OPEC had announced that they would no longer ship petroleum to nations that were friendly to Israel, that is, the United States and its western European allies. Having failed to prevail militarily, the Arab states were determined to assert their strength on the world stage economically and diplomatically. Oil prices quadrupled, resulting in an energy crisis of unprecedented scale, as well as a monumental transfer of wealth from the oil consuming to the oil producing states. A fateful, albeit unintended, consequence of the transfer was the power it gave Saudi Arabia’s radical Wahabi religious establishment to influence the character of Muslim religious and educational institutions worldwide.

The oil embargo was followed by the Iranian Revolution that reached a crucial turning point on November 4, 1979 when 500 students seized the U.S. Embassy in Teheran and held 62 American citizens hostage for 444 days until January 20, 1981, the day Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as the fortieth president of the United States. The inability of Jimmy Carter’s administration to secure the release of the hostages or to take effective action against the revolutionary Iranian regime was a major factor in his defeat. In the aftermath of the bombings in Spain on March 11, 2004, the world was once again made aware of the power of Islamic radicals to influence elections and even to destabilize governments.

The hostage crisis in Teheran marked a turning point in the relations of the United States and the countries of the Middle East. According to Bernard Lewis, an eminent authority on the world of Islam, the hostage crisis took place because relations between the United States and Iran were improving, not deteriorating.[1] For a moment, there appeared to be a real possibility of an accommodation between the United States and the new regime, but compromise and accommodation, the strategies of normal diplomacy, were precisely what the Islamic radicals did not want. The purpose of the hostage taking was to destroy all possibility of dialogue and accommodation.

Although it was by no means evident to Jimmy Carter or his State Department, Ayatollah Khomeini saw the issues in the conflict as cosmic. As such, they were not amenable to resolution through compromise and negotiation.[2] When advised that a fundamentalist attack might damage Iran’s relations with the United States, Khomeini replied, “May God cause it to be endangered.”[3] Khomeini understood the embassy seizure to be an act of war, a “holy struggle” or jihad, against the United States. Neither Khomeini nor the Islamic radicals who came after him intended to fight a conventional war, but that did not make their kind of warfare any less real or dangerous. As Iran’s head of state and supreme religious leader, Khomeini referred to America in terms such as the “Great Satan,” “criminal America,” and “world devourer” while Israel was characterized as the “little Satan.”[4] On May 25, 1979, over 100,000 of his followers marched to the U.S. Embassy in Teheran shouting “Death to America” and “Death to Carter.” Khomeini’s call for America’s destruction was no idle threat. That call has been endlessly repeated in mosques, universities, journals, satellite TV, and in the streets of the Muslim world. It has also been received with more than a little sympathy in western extremist circles, both right and left. One of the most influential calls was Osama bin Laden’s “Declaration of the World Islamic Front for Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders” issued on February 23, 1998 that begins with a catalogue of alleged offenses committed by the United States, Israel, and other U.S. allies, all of which are depicted as substantiating the fact that these powers have declared war against God and God’s Prophet. The document concludes with a fatwa stating that “to kill the Americans and their allies – civilian and military – is an individual duty for every Muslim in any country where this is possible, until the Aqsa mosque [in Jerusalem] and the Har?m mosque [in Mecca] are freed from their grip, and until their armies, shattered and broken-winged, depart from all the lands of Islam, incapable of threatening any Muslim.”[5]

Although both Khomeini and bin Laden directed their fury against the United States, their sanctified license to kill was by no means targeted solely at America and Israel. On the contrary, the spirit that motivated them was much the same as that expressed by Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), one of the twentieth century’s most influential Muslim thinkers, who held that “There are two parties in all the world: the Party of Allah and the Party of Satan – the Party of Allah, which stands under the banner of Allah and bears his insignia, and the Party of Satan, which includes every community, group, race and individual that does not stand under the banner of Allah.”[6] Strictly speaking, not all Jews and Christians are of the “Party of Satan.” Those who have submitted to the “Party of Allah” and have accepted their diminished and, at times, degraded status as dhimmis, protected subject peoples, can be said to “stand under the banner of Allah.” Qutb’s dichotomous division of the world constituted a radicalization of the fundamental Muslim division of the world into the House of Islam (d?r al-Isl?m), in which Muslim governments rule and Muslim Law prevails, and the House of War (d?r al-Harb), that part of the world ruled by infidels. Apart from periods in which they find it to their advantage to enter into a truce with infidels, Muslims are under religious obligation to make war, jihad, until the entire world adopts the Muslim faith or submits to Muslim rule.[7]

Strictly speaking, Islamic tradition envisages no such thing as genuine peace between faithful Muslims and infidels. There can be a truce when combat appears unlikely to succeed. When Muslims are victorious, there can be a cessation of hostilities between the victors and those who submit to their rule, but the relations between dominant Muslims and subject peoples or dhimmis are contractual and conditional.[8] They are based upon the dhimmi’s fulfillment of the dhimma, a pact of submission terminating the state of war and stipulating the conditions under which dhimmis are permitted to dwell in Islamic lands.[9] As is well known, the conditions include certain disabilities among which are payment of the jizya, a poll tax incumbent on every male, and the wearing of distinctive clothing, a ban on bearing arms, owning lands, mounting horses, or possessing or constructing buildings taller than those owned by Muslims, legal inferiority, and the refusal of a dhimmi’s testimony in any case involving a Muslim. Failure to abide by the conditions stipulated in the dhimma entails a return to a state of war in which the dhimmis are subject to the forfeiture of all property, slavery, and even loss of life. Moreover, a dhimmi’s wife and children could legitimately be enslaved and forcibly converted. Lest these conditions appear to be an outmoded relic of an earlier age, a senior aide of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, on the occasion of combat against the occupation forces in Iraq, told worshippers during a sermon on Friday May 7, 2004 that anyone capturing a female British soldier can keep her as a slave.[10]

In the years since Khomeini’s call for death to America, Islamic extremists have been responsible for terror attacks in which thousands of non-Muslims have lost their lives. Since radical Muslims understand the attacks to be divinely legitimated acts for which there is plentiful reward in the hereafter, they are inevitably depicted as responses to the target’s aggression against Islam and innocent Muslims and, hence, as defensive in nature.  Whatever one may think of that rationale, Khomeini, bin Laden and their fellow extremists, both Sunni and Shi’ite, have not been engaging in empty verbal aggression. On the contrary, they say exactly what they mean and would fulfill their violent promises if and when the opportunity arose. The most dangerous mistake of those openly targeted for aggression is to fail to take their adversaries at their word.

World Wars I-II and World War III

Much of the first edition of The Cunning of History was dedicated to an exploration of World War I in order to shed light on the catastrophic events of World War II. Once again, we turn to World War I, this time for insight into the early twenty-first century’s post-modern war of religion in which, willy-nilly, the non-Muslim world now finds itself. In 1914 the Prussian military caste was convinced that Russia’s growing economic, industrial, and demographic strength was such that, in alliance with France, it would soon dominate the European continent. Consequently, they regarded an attack on Russia as imperative while the power equation still favored Germany.[11] Helmuth von Moltke, (1848-1916), chief of the German General Staff in 1914, and his colleagues were convinced that Germany was fated to go to war against Russia in a “battle to the death between Germans and Slavs,” and the sooner the better.[12] The German military leadership was also convinced that it first had to defeat France in as short a campaign as possible before Russia completed its slow general mobilization. With France defeated, Germany could avoid a two-front war and concentrate the full force of its military might against Russia. However, a speedy defeat of France required the invasion of Belgium as specified in the so-called Schlieffen plan.[13]

As we know, Germany’s invasion of Belgium brought Britain into the war. Britain’s leaders understood that German control of the coast line of a defeated France and Belgium would render Britain permanently vulnerable and threaten to end Britain’s role as a world power. Actually, Britain went to war to maintain the European balance of power. The fundamental issue was control of the continent. Maintaining the balance of power had been Britain’s historic role from the Napoleonic wars to 1914. Although Germany was Europe’s most powerful land power in 1914, its ability to control the continent was held in check by the Franco-Russian alliance which was reinforced by the Entente cordiale of Britain, France and Russia.

Having failed to dominate Europe in the First World War, Hitler’s Germany once again sought to control the continent. On that issue, the Second World War can be seen as a continuation of the first. Apart from ideological differences, those who supported the Third Reich, especially after the fall of France, did so in large measure because they regarded German domination of the continent as preferable to Russian. There were influential groups within both Great Britain and the United States who shared that preference, but neither Churchill, Roosevelt, nor de Gaulle were prepared to consent to German domination.[14] With the entry of the United States and Japan into the war, the conflict once again became global. As we know, the war ended with Europe in ruins and the balance of power shifted from the traditional European players to two non-European powers, the United States and the Soviet Union. When the Soviet Union collapsed, only one superpower remained, a situation France and other powers have found unacceptable.

In their distress over the role of the United States as the sole superpower, France and other European powers have failed to recognize that the current global conflict is in reality “the undeclared World War III.”[15] They have perhaps failed to take into account that there has arisen a new, post-modern contender for dominance on the European continent and beyond, a contender that is not an independent, self-legitimating, secular state with the normal accoutrements and limitations of sovereign power but a worldwide, religio-political network in which the very idea of the autonomous, secular state is entirely without legitimacy, namely extremist, radical Islam. What Napoleon failed to achieve at the beginning of the nineteenth century; what Germany failed to accomplish in two world wars; what the Soviet Union failed to accomplish in the Cold War, the leaders of radical Islam are convinced they can eventually accomplish, namely, control of Europe as a prelude to world domination.

The End of the Ottoman Empire

As I reread the first edition, I was struck by the fact that I had completely ignored the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. That omission may have been understandable in the aftermath of the Holocaust and in the midst of the Cold War. With the rise of radical Islam, we can no longer ignore the consequences of that momentous event. Bernard Lewis has pointed out that when Osama bin Ladin spoke in his videotape of October 7, 2001 of the “humiliation and disgrace” suffered by Islam for “more than eighty years,” bin Ladin’s Muslim viewers, but very few westerners, understood that he was referring to the defeat of the Ottoman sultanate, the last of the great Muslim empires and the abolition of the caliphate.[16]

With the entry of Turkey in the war in November 1914 on the side of Germany, the Entente powers began to explore plans for the post-war dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire. The Middle East was the last region whose institutions the western imperial powers sought to remake. Iraq, Trans-Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, and eventually Israel were among the new states established in time as a result of western initiatives.

The changes proposed by the Europeans were profound. Above all, they were changes proposed by Christians for Muslims. Moreover, they were changes proposed by Christians who were almost entirely ignorant of the Arab and Muslim world even after years of service in the Middle East.[17] As such, they were deemed unacceptable to large and important segments of the Muslim population. In Islamic tradition, true government is governed by sacred law, and not by secular western civil law whose roots were Christian and Roman. In December 1918, Allied troops set up a military administration in Istanbul in order to bring their dismemberment plans to fruition. Greece and Italy also had designs on Turkish territory, especially Thrace and Smyrna (Izmir). By the end of 1922, Turkish resistance led by Kemal Atatürk proved effective and Turkey was in no further danger of partition. As a consequence of the Turkish victory, between 1923 and 1930, 1.25 million “Greeks” were “repatriated” from Turkey to Greece; a smaller number of “Turks” departed from Greece to Turkey.  In reality, the great majority of Anatolia’s “Greeks” spoke little or no Greek, speaking Turkish among themselves although writing in the Greek script. Similarly, many of the “Turks” in Greece and Crete spoke Greek among themselves and knew little or no Turkish. Turkish-speaking Christians faithful to the Greek Orthodox Church were expelled to Greece, a “homeland” they had never known, while Greek-speaking Muslims were expelled to Turkey. In actuality, the expulsions, initiated by the Turks, were instances of ethnic cleansing based on religion and represent a continuation by less violent means of the genocide of Armenian Christians during the first World War.[18]

By driving out the Christians and frustrating British plans to dismember Turkey, Atatürk was responsible for the first major political victory of Muslim over Christian forces in several centuries. Although his movement originally depicted the aims of the struggle as the liberation of “Islamic lands” and peoples, Atatürk understood that only through modernization could Turkey retain its lasting independence. In November 1922 he abolished the position of sultan. This was a revolutionary act for the Ottoman sultan was not only the political ruler of the Ottoman state but also the caliph. (The two positions were not necessarily linked. There have been numerous sultans who did not hold the office of caliph.) As such, he was widely recognized as the head of all Sunni Muslims, the symbol of Muslim unity and even identity.[19]. At least in theory, from the time of the Prophet, the political and the religious leadership of Islamic communities was vested in one and the same person. Two years later the caliphate was abolished altogether.

The Ottoman Empire had been rooted in almost fourteen centuries of Islamic tradition. Apart from all other considerations, both the British and French on the one hand and Atatürk, on the other, proposed to introduce political structures into the defunct empire that had evolved out of a very different set of historic experiences than those of the Muslim world. The contrast between the two systems is implicit in the difference between Jesus and Mohammed. Jesus is put to death by officials of the Roman state with the possible collusion of some elements in ancient Israel’s priestly establishment. From its inception, there was in Christianity a measure of separation between the religious and the political domains, as there was between prophet and king in ancient Israel. By contrast, Muhammad united the offices of prophet, military commander, and leader of a political community which he ruled in accordance with norms regarded by Muslims as divinely ordained. This fundamental difference continues to this day in the claim that ideally “Islam is both religion and state” (al-Islam din wa dawla). 

It is hardly surprising that the attempt to impose western political structures upon the Islamic world would be resented by faithful Muslims from the very beginning and that over time their number would increase greatly. In the early years of the Turkish republic, Kemal Atatürk was hailed as the leader of Islam’s struggle against the Christian West. In later decades he came to be regarded by Islamic extremists as a Zionist tool who had sought to destroy Islam from within as the Western powers had attempted to do from without. The extremists reviled Atatürk for having illegitimately overthrown the caliphate: “The caliphate is the political system that was established for us by the Prophet in Medina and it endured for fourteen centuries, until the advent of a man called Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who overthrew the Ottoman caliphate and turned Turkey into a secular state whose religion was not Islam.”[20] The radicals also argued that Atatürk was not even a Muslim but a member of a secret Jewish sect, the Doenmeh, that outwardly professed Islam but were in reality followers of the mystical Jewish messiah, Sabbatai Zvi (1626-1676). He was also accused of having abolished the caliphate because Sultan Abdul Hamid II had “refused to sell Palestine to the Jews.”[21]

The claim that Atatürk was a Jew was used to discredit him and the modernizing trends he introduced as wholly alien to Islam. This has been an important political weapon employed by radical Muslims against both the West and modernizing Muslim leaders. The extremist cause was strengthened by the failure of western-style political and economic structures, whether socialist or nationalist, to deliver the material benefits they promised to the Muslim masses.

From an historical perspective, radical Islam’s current assault on the West can be seen as (a) a continuation of Islam’s ancient attempt to expand its dominion at the expense of Christianity beginning in the seventh century and reaching its zenith at the gates of Vienna in 1683 and (b) as a response to Christian counter-expansion in Muslim lands during the last three centuries. Although rejected by Islamic radicals, Kemal Atatürk’s successful check on European expansion in Turkey can be seen as foreshadowing a new era of Muslim expansion. There have been arguably three waves of Muslim invasion of Christian Europe, the first by the Moors, the second by the Turks and the third, the invasion of Muslim capital and labor that began in the second half of the twentieth century. Without a shot being fired and with the consent of the European governments, there is now a massive Muslim presence in Western Europe for the first time since the expulsion of the Muslims from Spain in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.[22]

A Post-Modern Contender for Global Dominance

Superficially, it seems preposterous to think that an informal network of utopian revolutionaries from one of the world’s most politically and economically dysfunctional regions could hope to mount a successful challenge against the most technologically, militarily, and economically advanced countries in the world. In reality, the informal, dispersed character of the radical Islamic networks gives them important advantages in an age of instantaneous global communication and super-empowered individuals who are unaccountable to and unrestrained by any government. These networks have demonstrated their ability to inflict extraordinary damage on traditionally organized western states, such as the destruction of New York’s World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 and, after the fall of the Taliban, the train bombings in and around Madrid on March 11, 2004, with their economic and political consequences.

Moreover, the flexibility and the global reach of Islamic extremists can be seen in the scope of their aggression. A sample of the many outrages perpetrated by the extremists include the bombing of a Bali nightclub that killed more than 200 people, and wounded another 200 on October 12, 2002, the attack on the French oil tanker Limburg on October 6, 2002, the bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish Community Center resulting in the death of 86 persons and the wounding of 100 more on July 18, 1994, the suicide bombing that killed 11 French engineers in Karachi, Pakistan on May 8, 2002, the killing of 22 Christian petroleum professionals in Khobar, Arabia on May 29, 2004, and the beheading and videotaping of Daniel Pearl in Pakistan and businessman Nicholas Berg in Iraq. Writing in the Daily Telegraph (London), Ahmed Rashid, an authority on Islamic extremism, has described the proximate objective of all the attacks: “kill Americans and other Christians, attack the large economic symbols of capitalism, attack to embarrass pro-Western rulers in the Muslim World.” [23]

It is highly unlikely that the West will see a “victory” in this war within the foreseeable future. More likely, the current war could last decades or longer, for the western world can be said to resemble Hercules, a figure in Greek and Roman mythology, who slew Hydra, a monstrous creature with many heads. Every time Hercules cut off one head, two more would grow. The West is confronted by a protean, hydra-headed enemy, Al Qaeda and its many informally related groups. The elimination of any of these groups is likely to be followed by the formation of others.

The loose, relatively uncoordinated nature of these networks has certain advantages over bureaucratically-administered western states. The motives of Islamic extremists are very different than those of western officials. Of necessity, the motives of the westerners are mixed. The turf battles and the resistance to change on the part of competing U.S. government agencies even in the face of extreme national peril has been amply documented in The 9/11 Commission Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States.[24] This can sometimes result in distorting information and recommending unsound or untested programs lest one lose favor with one’s superiors. There remains a residue of suspicion that this may have been true of the leadership of the C.I.A. before the Second Iraq War. Career considerations may also involve advocating a foreign power’s seemingly harmless policies because of the prospect of lucrative employment after retirement. In Washington, for example, the so-called “revolving door” is not limited to lucrative employment in the American private sector after leaving government service. For persons of talent and influence, there are highly paid positions available in organizations directly or indirectly supported by foreign governments and institutions. Salaried government officials can seldom ignore considerations of career advancement.[25] Islamic extremists, by contrast, are more likely to ignore such considerations even when they do have families.[26]

Nor is there is any possibility that the United States or any other major western power could really satisfy the extremists save by abject surrender.[27] Their objectives are both non-negotiable and religiously legitimated. They have been stated repeatedly and explicitly. According to one of the world’s leading authorities on Islamic fundamentalism and himself a Muslim, Bassam Tibi, Professor of Political Science at Germany’s Göttingen University, “The goal of the Islamic fundamentalists is to abolish the Western, secular order and replace it with a new Islamic divine order…The goal of the Islamists is a new imperial, absolutist Islamic power.”[28] One of the many confirmations of Tibi’s views was expressed in an interview in Le Monde (September 9, 1998) by Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, a radical Muslim cleric domiciled in London. Speaking as the spokesman of Osama bin Ladin’s World Islamic Front For Jihad Against Jews and Crusaders, he declared that their movement intends “to make the flag of Islam fly high at No. 10 Downing Street and at the Élysée Palace.” According to Tibi, about half of the world’s Muslim population may hope for the future supremacy of Islam but only between 3 and 5 percent are willing to resort to violence and, if necessary, suicide.

The Failure of the West

The continuing failure of western leaders fully to comprehend the danger to their culture and civilization is due at least in part to their ignorance of Islam and its history. It is also due to a certain reluctance to identify the enemy. Secular societies are understandably loath to get involved in a holy war. Unfortunately, that is precisely the kind of war the adversaries of the West have unambiguously proclaimed. Whatever may be the disposition of non-radical Muslims, the extremists have proclaimed a jihad against the West and the extremists constitute a critical mass within Islam that westerners dare not ignore. I have often been amazed at the ignorance of religion among well-educated Americans trained for responsible positions at America’s elite universities and professional institutions. Even after 9/11 far too many possess little or no understanding of the history of religion, especially Islam, as can be seen in the unrealistic expectations with which decision-makers in the U.S. Department of Defense began the war in Iraq. In 2015, that ignorance has become far more dangerous as revolutionary Iran stands on the point of becoming a nuclear threshold power, if not an actual nuclear state. Moreover, it appears to have done this with the connivance of the current American administration!

Calling the conflict a “war against terrorism” only adds to the confusion. Terrorism is not a warring power; it is an instrument employed by a warring power. The enemy is not “terrorism” but radical Islam. Without reliable knowledge they speak of Islam as “tolerant” and a “religion of peace,” as did President George W. Bush immediately after 9/11. Since achieving high office, President Barack Obama has spoken of Islam in similar terms on many occasions. Too many political leaders somehow assume, incorrectly, that all religions share more or less common values. Prudence may also play a part in the reluctance of western elites to identify the enemy. The values and the institutions of western secular societies leave them ill-equipped to wage a holy war.

No post-Enlightenment western country has ever before faced the kind of warring power that launched the sustained terror attacks of the late twentieth and the early twenty-first century and this has happened before Iran acquires nuclear weapons! We note above that there are no unconditional human rights in Islam for non-Muslims. Nevertheless, traditionally there have been definite limits on the conduct of war in Islam. These normally include the injunction, where possible, not to kill women and children or to mutilate the bodies of the enemy dead although appropriation of the spoils of war and enslavement of enemy women was permitted under certain circumstances.[29] However, when Sayyid Qutb divided humanity into the Party of Allah and the Party of Satan, and when Ayatollah Khomeini characterized the United States and Israel as the “Great Satan” and the “Little Satan” respectively, they legitimated for radical Islam the removal of all restraints on those included in the Party of Satan. Even then, the extremists justified their violence as defensive in nature, as well as just recompense for the allegedly greater crimes committed against Islam by their adversaries. It was such a defense that served to justify suicide murder against any western target.

Post-modern Warfare and Suicide

Suicide murder is not new, but the difference between earlier suicide murders and those of contemporary Islamic extremists is instructive. The Assassins were an Islamic religio-political sect during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In carrying out his mission, each Assassin knew that death awaited him. They never harmed ordinary people. Their violence was always an individual act directed against a ruler or leader. Rejecting safer weapons that kill at a distance, their weapon of choice was the dagger, Assassins made no attempt to escape after striking down the victim and no one attempted to rescue them. To have survived such a mission was regarded as a disgrace.[30]

Radical Islam’s suicide murderers recognize no such restrictions on the killing of civilians deemed adversaries of any age, gender or condition. With the exception of the catastrophic damage inflicted in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001 and in Madrid on March 11, 2004, the numerical impact of suicide murder, as of this writing, has been relatively minor in comparison with other misfortunes. Far fewer victims die or are incapacitated in suicide murders than die of AIDs, automobile accidents, or in genocides such as Rwanda and the Sudan. Nevertheless, suicide murder is a relatively inexpensive yet fearfully potent psychological weapon that cannot be underestimated.[31] Suicide murder disrupts and disorients the flow of normal life of ordinary people and has a capacity to instill widespread fear and revulsion in the general population. Apart from the horror of dismembered body parts, survivors and their families are likely to sustain severe physical and psychological wounds that can last a lifetime. Such assaults attract sensationalist media attention and can do lasting damage to the target community. They can also be a highly effective instrument of economic aggression. The tourist trade virtually disappeared from Bali and Turkey after the bombings in those countries. The attack on the World Trade Center had a damaging effect on the United States economy for months. Unfortunately, in spite of enormous sums spent to prevent suicide and other terror attacks, no preventive measures can deter a determined suicidal aggressor.

Blaming the Victim

Perpetrators often enjoy a propaganda benefit as well. Bystanders often blame the victim. Beholding the horror, they often ask, “What terrible crime did these people commit that drove the perpetrators to commit these acts?” A whole literature has developed demonizing both Americans and Jews as the “reason” for the radical Muslim attacks and, among Muslims, as the explanation of all of the major ills that afflict Muslim societies.

The Jews are, of course, a perennially available scapegoat. In spite of the well-intentioned efforts of the Roman Catholic and other churches since Vatican II to alleviate the harshness of the deicide accusation, a residue of demonic archetypes is readily available to those who seek to “explain” the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians as due primarily, if not entirely, to Jewish malevolence. Acts of terror against Jews, whether in Israel or elsewhere, are depicted as the legitimate acts of “self-defense” of a “colonized” people against their colonizers. The United Nations, European governments and, for a time, the American State Department have been singularly reluctant to recognize acts of terror against Israeli civilians for what they are. For example, in an act of both symbolic and physical aggression, a suicide bomber killed 29 Israelis as they gathered in Netanya on March 27, 2002 for the Passover Seder and was lauded among Muslims as a shahid, a martyr, and by the European left as a freedom fighter.  

One of the nastiest consequences of mass terror is the search by intellectuals, the media, and human rights advocates for “causes.” Invariably, the “cause” is found in wrongs allegedly done to the terrorists or their kin. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, there was an outpouring of sympathy in Europe, if not in the Muslim world, for what the Americans had endured. The sympathy did not last long and a deep and pervasive attitude of anti-Americanism soon manifested itself, especially after it was obvious that the unpopular Bush administration was going to invade Iraq with or without the sanction of the United Nations. There are a multitude of reasons for anti-Americanism, many due to very real differences of culture, history, politics, and comparative economic advantage. Undoubtedly, balance-of-power considerations also play an important role, as has been evident in President Jacques Chirac’s long-standing preference for a multi-polar world and his strong distaste for America’s uni-polar dominance.[32] This is not the occasion to evaluate the merits of the attitude. The issue that concerns us is whether radical Islam’s assault is confined to the United States or whether the United States is the first but by no means the last country of Christian inheritance to be targeted.

One of the chief Muslim complaints, both extremist and moderate, is that the United States is alleged to have blindly supported Israel and to have been deeply biased against the Palestinians because of racism, Christian Fundamentalist antagonism toward Islam, and the allegation that Zionists or Jews in general control the American government. Whatever the merits, if any, of these complaints, let us consider a scenario in which the United States decides that the cost of supporting Israel is too great and abandons Israel to the tender mercies of the Muslim world. Would such a move really alter the hostility of Muslim extremists toward the West and would the more accommodating nations of Europe be any safer? Among Muslim extremists there has long been a saying “After Saturday comes Sunday” or after we finish off the Jews we’ll do the same to the Christians.[33] To repeat, the idea that radical Muslims are involved in a worldwide jihad to achieve domination has been expressed often, openly, and candidly by the radicals themselves.

Muslim extremists are serenely confident of ultimate victory. In a May 1998 interview, Osama bin Laden claimed that, with the help of Allah, the mujahedeen fighting in Afghanistan brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union and they will do the same to the United States and Israel.[34] That bin Laden is convinced that he has the human and material resources to threaten established governments was evident by his offer of a “truce” on April 15, 2004 to European and other governments, in the aftermath of the Madrid train bombings, if they follow Spain’s example and pull their troops and other personnel out of Iraq.[35] Not unexpectedly, the offer was rejected by all European governments, although one wonders what deals may have been made in secret or what comfort countries with no troops in Iraq may draw from the situation. The “truce” offer to European governments was followed by a similar offer by Osama bin Laden in a taped message to the individual states of the United States on Friday October 29, 2004. Bin Laden harshly criticized George W. Bush and for the first time admitted that he rather than Jews and the Mosad was responsible for the 9/11 bombings in New York and Washington. He threatened “each U.S. state” (“ay wilaya”) that a vote for Bush would make that state a potential target of Al Qaeda whereas a vote against Bush would yield security from attack. Clearly designed to influence the American presidential election on Tuesday November 2, 2004, bin Laden’s message stated: “Any U.S. state that does not toy with our security automatically guarantees its own security.[36] Commenting on bin Laden’s message, the radical Islamic web site Al Isiah stated “….this tape is the second of its kind, after the previous tape of the Sheikh [Osama bin Laden], in which he offered a truce to the Europeans a few months ago, and it is the completion of this move, and it brings together the complementary elements of politics and religion, … the sword and justice.”[37] The real significance of the “offer” lies in the fact bin Laden, in hiding somewhere in the inaccessible regions of Afghanistan or Pakistan, regards himself and his movement as a power capable of threatening established governments and doing them more harm than they can do to him or his organization even were he killed or captured.[38]

Extremist Islam’s catalogue of injustices allegedly perpetrated by the West is long and detailed. Nevertheless, the list has an unbalanced character. In the lands of the West, Muslims are free to practice and propagate their religion, usually as full citizens. Christians enjoy no such freedom in Muslim lands. Christians who seek to propagate their faith to Muslims often face expulsion and even death. In Saudi Arabia Christians are forbidden to hold services of worship and Jews and Christians are barred from permanent residence in the Hijaz, that part of Arabia encompassing Mecca and Medina deemed sacred to Muslims..

From its very first conquests in the seventh century until the Turkish retreat from the gates of Vienna in 1683, Islam was a militarily expanding world empire that threatened the very existence of Christendom through conquest, conversion and assimilation.[39] When Christians began to reclaim territory conquered by the invading Muslims, the latter regarded it as intolerable that lands that had been a part of the House of Islam (dar al-Islam) had reverted to the infidels. To this day, the extremists call for the recapture of these lands and their reintegration into the House of Islam. For example, radical Islamic web sites have stated that more was involved in the Madrid bombings of March 11, 2004 than the Spanish elections. From their perspective, the bombings were an opening shot in the reconqista of the once and future Islamic Spain.[40] Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, head of the Islamic law faculty at Qatar University and a spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, often makes the claim that “Islam will return to Europe as a conqueror.” Al-Qaradhawi qualified his statement by adding, “I maintain that the conquest this time will not be by the sword but by preaching and ideology.…”[41] Similar sentiments have been expressed by other mainstream Muslim leaders, such as the Saudi Sheikh Muhammad bin Abd Al-Rahman Al-‘Arifi, Imam of the mosque of the King Fahd Defense Academy,[42] who wrote “… We will control the land of the Vatican; we will control Rome and introduce Islam in it. Yes, the Christians, who carve crosses on the breasts of the Muslims in Kosovo – and before then in Bosnia, and before then in many places in the world – will yet pay us the jiziya (the poll tax paid by non-Muslims under Muslim rule), in humiliation, or they will convert to Islam…” [43] Such statements cannot be dismissed as solely the atypical rantings of extremists and clerics outside the Muslim mainstream. The Wahabism of the Saudi clerics has had enormous worldwide influence because of the financial support given to Muslim mosques, schools, organizations, and other institutions by the Saudi government and very wealthy Saudi individuals, one of whom is Osama bin Laden.[44] As of this writing, the vast majority of European and American Muslim religious leaders and teachers are trained in the Middle East and the Maghreb, hardly centers of religious enlightenment. There is scant evidence among them of the kind of critical self-reflection to be found in both western Jewish and Christian religious institutions.

There is, in reality, nothing new or even radical in the Islamic aspiration to global dominance. On the contrary, Islam has been throughout its history a conquering religion. that did not recede by persuasion but by the force of arms and Islamic radicals have little doubt that the era of western dominance was only a temporary interlude that is coming to an end. Unfortunately, many westerners have short historical memories and regard the three hundred year era of western dominance as irreversible. In addition, far too many western scholars depict the preceding period of Islamic dominance in overly benign terms.[45] 

Under the circumstances, a singularly important issue confronting the contemporary West is: To what extent do the views of the Islamic mainstream ultimately coincide with those of the extremists? We have noted Bassam Tibi’s observation that over half of the world’s Muslims may hope for the future supremacy of Islam but only between 3 and 5 percent are willing to resort to violence to achieve it. This is hardly reassuring. Population figures for Muslims vary from 1.3 billion to 1.5 billion with some statistics suggesting a figure as high as 2 billion. If we take a conservative estimate of 3 percent of 1.3 billion willing to resort to violence, we come up with a numerical total 39,000,000; if we assume that 5 percent are willing, the figure becomes 65,000,000. Moreover, the regions in which Islam and Christianity respectively are dominant are no longer geographically distinct. In 1993 Professor John Kelsay, an American authority on Islam, observed: “The rapidity of Muslim migration … suggests that we may soon be forced to speak not simply of Islam and, but of Islam in the West.”[46] That historical moment is already upon us.

Birthrates, Immigration and Unemployment

Much has been written concerning the declining western and the elevated Muslim birthrate. Historian Niall Ferguson has observed that “The fundamental problem that Europe faces ….is senescence.”[47] Ferguson cites UN projections that suggest that the median age of the 15 European Union countries, currently 38, will rise in 2050 to 49. While populations are projected to decline in all Western European societies, the Muslim populations in those countries will continue to increase. Apart from all other considerations, a decreasing work force will have the burden of maintaining the social security and health care systems whose beneficiaries are primarily the elderly. Raising the retirement age can make a small contribution to alleviating the problem, but it is hardly an adequate response to the problems that beset the social security and health care systems of both Europe and the United States.

According to Ferguson, there are, in reality, only three possible solutions, all politically unpalatable: (a) Drastically reduce or eliminate entirely health care and old age pension benefits. (b) Increase already high taxes to a level at which the benefits can be sustained. (c) Encourage immigration. The latter has been less of a problem for the United States than for Europe. As noted in the first edition of The Cunning of History, throughout its history the United States has been an importer of peoples; until recently Europe has been an exporter. In addition, although there has been a steady increase in America’s Muslim population, most immigrants to the United States are currently Caribbean Blacks or Hispanics from Central and South America. Both groups are predominantly Christian.

The situation is very different in Europe where the available pool of non-European immigrants is predominantly Muslim and the Muslim birth rate in the source countries is more than twice that of northern Europe. In the European diaspora, the birth rate remains higher among Muslims. In 2003 it was estimated that there were 3.2 million Muslims in Germany, mainly from Turkey.[48] The German immigration pattern was set in the nineteen-fifties when Turks and Kurds were recruited as Gastarbeiter, guest workers, by reviving German corporations during the Wirtschaftswunder, the “economic wonder,” period of postwar German economic development. There was a labor shortage and German manufacturers discovered that the Gastarbeiter could be just as disciplined and productive as German workers. However, the Gastarbeiter and their families were long denied the one right that is the foundation of all other rights, citizenship, that is, full membership in a political community that can be trusted to defend one’s human rights. As noted in the first edition of The Cunning of History, absent the political rights of citizenship, human rights remain impotent abstractions. Until January 1, 2000, German citizenship was based on blood kinship (ius sanguinis) rather than place of birth (ius soli), as in the United States, Britain and France. Under Social Democrat Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, new laws were enacted that made it possible to acquire German citizenship as the result of being born in Germany or through naturalization.[49] This constituted a significant improvement in status for many of the 7 million non-German residents, half of whom have lived in Germany for at least 20 years. The new laws did, however, create other long-term problems that Germany shares with the rest of Europe.

In January 1993 I visited Germany to study the problem of minorities in newly reunified Germany. At the time, there was much neo-Nazi violence directed against minorities, especially Turks. During my stay I interviewed a number of well-informed, responsible Germans, including Gustav Schmidt, a Roman Catholic priest, university professor and long-time friend.[50] Professor Schmidt expressed the view that over time Germany could absorb Christian immigrants from Eastern European, as it had the descendants of Polish miners who had immigrated to the Ruhr in the nineteenth century. On the other hand, he believed that Muslim immigrants neither wanted to assimilate nor could they be integrated. Eventually, he said, they would have to leave. He could not conceive of Germany as a genuinely pluralist country. I was surprised. I have known him for several decades. He is a thoroughly decent human being and in no sense an extremist. He did not specify how millions of men and women, the majority born in Germany, could in the future be compelled to leave, but he was convinced that their German sojourn would, of necessity, be temporary.

Schmidt spoke to me before Islamic extremism had become a major problem. His views were based on the conviction that there is a fundamental incompatibility between the civilization in which he had been nurtured and that of the Muslim immigrants. He is neither a racist nor a right-wing nationalist. He is, however, a Christian who cannot envisage his civilization as other than Christian. Although I am not a Christian, it is also difficult for me to envisage European civilization as other than Christian. The fundamentally Christian nature of Europe is evident in its art, music, literature and its intellectual heritage. As we noted in the first edition, even Europe’s secularization, which has no Islamic counterpart, is derived from the disenchantment of the world of biblical religion.[51] Europe’s Christian heritage is also evident in its sacred architecture and the way urban space is organized in every European city. Take Paris, for example. It is not difficult for the casual visitor to find the city’s true center, the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Construction began in 1163 and, save for a brief period during the French Revolution, the magnificent structure has been the material embodiment of the Christian character of French civilization. The same phenomenon can be discerned in almost every other European city. Europe, even secular Europe, is unthinkable apart from Christianity.

As with all identities, Europe’s Christian identity was also a function of what Europe was not: it was neither Jewish nor Muslim. There was, however, a difference. Christianity has no Muslim roots. Save for Gnosticism, Christianity acknowledged its Jewish roots. Moreover, Judaism had neither the power nor the aspiration to displace Christianity as does Islam. Whenever and wherever it could, Islam challenged Christianity militarily, politically and religiously and there is little, if any, evidence that it has changed fundamentally. Wherever possible, Muslims were instructed that they were obliged to spread the dominion of Islam throughout all of God’s creation, granting to Jews and Christians who submitted to Islam the privilege, not the right, to practice their religion provided they abided by the terms of their inferior dhimmi status.

One wonders whether Europe’s political and business elites truly value their own religious inheritance. If they do, there are some obvious policy questions that they should have asked before admitting so large a population firmly committed to a religion that has for almost fourteen hundred years been Christianity’s most important competitor and, at times, dangerous adversary. The questions include the following: (a) Is there credible evidence that even moderate Muslims have abandoned Islam’s claims to being the sole possessor of God’s undistorted truth? (b) Has the Islamic mainstream cast off the obligation to enlarge the domain of Islam at the expense of Christianity?[52] (c) Would the new immigrants respect the religion and culture of their adopted land or would they seek to make their own religion dominant? Questions such as these are not only theological. They are also political, social, and cultural. By its very nature, the triumph of Islam in any community would have revolutionary consequences for that community’s non-Islamic population.[53] And, it is entirely possible that, given the decreasing Christian and the increasing Muslim birthrate, one or more western European nations will have a Muslim majority during the twenty-first century, France, in all likelihood, being the first.[54]

When Europe’s political elites made the historically unprecedented decision to permit large-scale Muslim immigration, did they ask such questions or were they primarily interested in the economic and perhaps the political advantages that would ensue from Muslim immigration? According to Bat Ye’or, an internationally recognized scholar on Islam’s relations with the non-Islamic world, the fundamental decisions concerning Europe’s relations with the Arab world were taken in the aftermath of the Arab oil embargo of 1973 when the European Community (EC), the forerunner of the European Union (EU), created a structure of Cooperation and Dialogue with the Arab League (EAD).[55] The EC agreed to support the Arab anti-Israel policy in exchange for extensive commercial agreements. The collaboration fostered by the EAD was actually far more extensive than an agreement on Israel. As Bat Ye’or points out, the shifting of Europe into the Arab-Islamic sphere of influence undermined the Atlantic alliance, dominated by the United States, and created a very real but unstated European Union-Arab partnership and the seeds of a new balance of power.[56]

As a result of the agreements, Muslim immigration into Europe was permitted to proceed at an historically unprecedented rate and Arab cultural, religious, and financial institutions in Europe were encouraged to expand. As the immigrant population gained strength and learned how to use the levers of political power within western democracies, they greatly strengthened Muslim influence in Europe. The demonization of Israel became a regular feature of the Europe’s media and political culture.

Europe’s Old-New Demon

A great deal has been written concerning the revival of anti-Semitism in France, but that country is hardly alone.[57] Expressions of extreme hostility towards Israel and unswerving support of the Palestinian cause have become pervasive in the media of western and central Europe. Cartoons and caricatures have long been one of the most effective means of demonizing Jews and Judaism.[58] Some of the most vicious images of traditional anti-Semitism have once again surfaced in mainstream European newspapers and periodicals, such as The Guardian (UK), Le Monde (France) and El Pais (Spain).[59] One cartoon depicts two Israeli policemen beating up a Palestinian. One officer says to the other, “There’s no time for me to reflect on the Holocaust.” (La Razón, Spain, June 9, 2001). The Holocaust theme also appears in a cartoon depicting three completed buildings and one under construction. The signs in front of the completed buildings read “Museum of the Jewish Holocaust,” “Museum of the Bosnian Holocaust,” “Museum of the Chechen Holocaust.” The sign on the building under construction reads, “Future Museum of the Palestinian Holocaust.” (La Vanguardia, Spain, May 25, 2001).

 There is also a pervasive identification of Israel with Nazi Germany and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon with Hitler in cartoons, posters and political rhetoric. In one image worthy of Julius Streicher’s Der Stürmer, Sharon is depicted as a  fat, ugly, hook-nosed Jew wearing a kippah (skull cap) and saying, “From bad can come good. At least, Hitler taught me to invade a country and exterminate every living vermin.” Sharon is depicted as wearing a swastika within a Star of David on his chest. (Cambio 16, Spain, June 4, 2001). El Pais, arguably Spain’s most influential newspaper, published a cartoon depicting a small figure flying toward Sharon. The caption reads “Clio, the muse of history, placing the mustache of Hitler on Sharon.” (May 22, 2001)

One of the most venomous cartoons appeared in The Independent (UK) on January 27, 2003, the week of Ariel Sharon’s reelection. It depicts a fat, slovenly, naked Sharon, his private parts covered only by a small sign that reads “Vote Likud,” voraciously biting off the head of a Palestinian baby. In the left hand corner four Israeli helicopters are attacking a bombed-out Palestinian town. Sharon is depicted as saying “What’s wrong? You’ve never seen a politician kissing babies before?” In the lower right hand corner is the phrase, “After Goya,” an indication that the cartoon is modeled after one of Francesco Goya’s most gruesome paintings, “Saturn Devouring His Children.” Both the cartoonist, Dave Brown, and the editor of the Independent, Simon Kellner, are Jewish and denied any anti-Semitic intent. Nevertheless, the image elicited powerful associations with one of the most durable of all anti-Semitic canards, the blood libel that Jews allegedly require the blood of Christian boys for their religious rites. Blood libel cartoons appear frequently in Muslim newspapers and journals. What is shocking was its appearance in a respectable, mainstream British newspaper. Inevitably, the crucifixion of Jesus is assimilated to the Palestinian struggle, as if the Palestinians were a Christ among the nations and the Jews once again Christ’s crucifiers. One cartoon depicts a young, innocent Palestinian boy nailed not to a cross but to a Star of David. (El Periodico de Catalunya, Spain, October 6, 2000). There is no caption. None is needed.

Diplomats and political leaders usually express their distaste for Israel with greater finesse, but not always. For example, shortly after 9/11, Daniel Barnard, Ambassador of France to the United Kingdom, declared at a gathering at the home of newspaper magnate Lord Conrad Black, publisher of London’s Daily Telegraph and the Jerusalem Post, that the current troubles in the world were all because of “that shitty little country Israel.” The ambassador asked, “Why should the world be in danger of World War Three because of those people?” The incident was first reported by Barbara Amiel, Lady Black, in her Daily Telegraph column without revealing the ambassador’s identity but word quickly got out.[60] Commenting on the incident, the editors of the Wall Street Journal wrote:

Islamic fanaticism has declared itself the enemy of western civilization, and has killed more than 3,000 people to prove it….But French elites blame everything on Israel? The suggestion is so bizarre and so willfully oblivious to the facts, that it has to make one wonder if it isn’t based on some deeper kind of animus…

Polite society in both Europe and America has rightly bent over backwards not to stereotype Muslims in whose name the atrocities of Sept. 11 were committed. Mr. Bernard is polite society personified. We’d like to think that Mr. Bernard’s remarks have made him an embarrassment in European circles. Perhaps the greater scandal here is that they haven’t.[61]

Nor was Barnard the only diplomat who suggested that Israel, or at least its leader, was responsible for the crisis. Two weeks after 9/11, a “senior British Foreign Office source” was quoted in a front page story in the Guardian declaring that Ariel Sharon was “the cancer at the center of the Middle East crisis.” That official may very well have been Jack Straw, British Foreign Secretary, who commented during an official visit to Iran, “I understand that one of the factors that help breed terrorism is the anger many people in this region feel over events in Palestine.”[62] The demonization of Israel also has a certain echo in Europe’s religious inheritance. Jews were supposed to “survive but not thrive” until a remnant came to accept Christ and in no place was it less acceptable for Jews to “thrive” after the destruction of the Jerusalem’s Holy Temple than in “Christ’s patrimony,” the Holy Land.[63]

At stake in the pervasive demonization of Israel is the legitimacy of that country’s existence. Extremist organizations like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hizbullah have stated repeatedly and explicitly that they will settle for nothing less than Israel’s total destruction as a matter of non-negotiable religious obligation. There are, of course, Palestinians who claim that peace with Israel is possible if Israel were to return to its 1967 borders and accept the Palestinian’s unrestricted right of return. Nevertheless, even if a compromise were found acceptable to the Israeli majority and some responsible Palestinian authority, how durable would such a “peace” be if Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Muslim “street” categorically refused to honor its terms and in the name of religion rejected the legitimacy of Israel’s existence as a sovereign state?

In the unlikely event that Israel were to agree to return to its 1967 borders and accept the “right of return,” how long would such a “peace” last? An Israel that is only nine miles wide from the Mediterranean to the Palestinian border would be strategically indefensible. In reality, Israel is confronted with a never-ending, religiously legitimated, existential threat that her enemies have every intention of carrying out if they can. In every major European government, as well as in the United Nations, there are highly intelligent, knowledgeable officials who fully understand the possible outcomes of the Arab-Israeli conflict. One wonders what advice these officials would offer were Europe’s Arab partners to defeat Israel and the outcome for Israel’s 5 million Jews were expulsion or genocide. The latter prospect is not unthinkable given the depth of Muslim rage at the narcissistic wound inflicted upon them by prior Israeli victories and the extent to which the Middle East has become accustomed to murder during the last thirty or forty years. Even if the victors permitted the defeated Jews to survive on the condition that they go elsewhere, what European government would be willing to receive the descendants of those Jews for whom settlement in Israel was the only available answer to the utter untenability of Jewish life in Europe after the Shoah?

One might consider an even grimmer scenario: The victorious Muslims vengefully enact their own “Final Solution.” Would the response of the Europeans, the United Nations with its fifty plus Muslim member-states, or even the United States be any different than the world’s response to bloodshed and ethnic cleansing in Cambodia, Bosnia, Chechnya, Srebrenica, Darfur and, most especially, Rwanda where U.N. forces were present and did nothing to prevent the slaughter?[64] The complete or near complete elimination of populations that interfere with a dominant group’s political or demographic reordering of a society or territory did not begin with the Third Reich. It has been a regular part of human history in ancient, medieval and modern times. Is it reasonable to expect that in countries where senior officials and the media have held that Israel is basically at fault both for having come into being and for its alleged mistreatment of the Palestinians would expend their citizens’ blood and treasure to prevent genocide or to find a safe haven for the survivors? In spite of the oft-employed rhetoric of two states living side by side in security, is it not more likely that most European governments would regard Israel’s complete demise as a welcome “solution” to the crisis in the Middle East? That is certainly the subtext of the parties of the left in Europe and the United States that cynically propose a single, “democratic,” multi-ethnic, state to replace a “racist” Israel while ignoring the promise of Islamic militants to drive out every Jew.

After Saturday Comes Sunday

Moreover, it is more than doubtful that Israel’s demise would bring an end to militant Islam’s long-range goal of abolishing the western secular order. Let us recall that Israel is Ayatollah Khomeini’s “Little Satan,” not his “Great Satan.” Radical Muslims such as Sayyid Qutb have made it abundantly clear that they regard even states that claim to be Muslim but are not governed by shari’ah as the equivalent of jahiliyyah, a Koranic term designating the condition of heedlessness, ignorance and barbarism that was especially prevalent in Arabia before the revelation to Muhammad.[65] The logical conclusion of such thinking is the overthrow of non-Islamic states by violence when possible.[66] What is not known is the extent to which such views are shared by non-militant Muslims domiciled in the West.

After three centuries of retreat, Muslim extremists and, perhaps, the Muslim mainstream are convinced that conditions are ripe for a resumption of Islam’s expansion, not only in the third world but, more importantly, in the lands of the West. The enemies of the West are supremely confident of ultimate victory. They are convinced that “A clash of civilizations is a war that the West cannot win.”[67]

Many factors contribute to the revival of Muslim confidence. First and foremost is the strength of Muslim belief in the preeminent and unique truth of their religious heritage and its superiority over the weak, secularized traditions of the West. Rightly or wrongly, there is a widespread perception among Muslims, especially the extremists, that the West is spiritually corrupt and lacks the moral resources to overcome a sustained Islamic challenge.

Yet another factor is the worldwide increase in the Muslim population and the stagnant or diminishing population of non-Muslim Europe. In the first edition of The Cunning of History, I cited Europe’s population surplus in the years preceding World War I as a contributing factor to the mass deaths of that conflict. I argued that millions of lives were expendable because Europe had more people than it needed. The loss of a single life can be devastating to a small, compact community. When political decision-makers and military leaders intuit that their nation has a redundant population, it is far easier to sustain battles such as Verdun, Gallipoli, and the Second Battle of the Somme than when a nation’s human resources are in short supply. More recently, the war between Iraq and Iran (1979-1989) has shown the uses to which a state of Muslim inheritance could put its surplus people in case of military conflict.

In France, for example, the unemployment rate among young Muslim males is four times the national average and there has been a string of vicious attacks, some homicidal, by young Muslim gangs against Jews. As Christiane Amanpour, Senior CNN correspondent, has reported, “With little hope of making it outside the [housing] projects, many of these young men try to dominate their own neighborhoods, resorting to violence, especially against young women.”[68] Young Muslim women in the projects feel safe only if covered up or remain at home. Samira Bellil, a young woman of Algerian descent, has written of her experiences in the “hell of the Paris ghettos.”[69] 17-year-old Sohane Benziane was burned alive by a young Maghrebi gang leader who had told her he did not want to see her on his turf. When the gang leader returned with the police to show them how he had doused his victim with gasoline, the high rise apartment complex he controlled broke out in cries of support.[70] Nor do young Muslims confine their activity to the ghettos. More than 50 percent of the inmates in French prisons are Muslims.[71]

Such behavior understandably elicits strong distrust of young, poorly educated Muslim males among the non-Muslim population. A consequent reluctance to employ them compounds their alienation from the host country. With the encouragement of radical Imams, many come to regard Islamic extremism as the perfect vehicle for expressing their alienation and resentment. Radical Islam offers disaffected young men a compelling source of identity, a sense of self-respect, and, unfortunately, a long-range plan of action in a movement that proposes to dominate far more than the local housing project or helpless women. In addition to housing projects, prisons are an excellent source of both converts and recruits to extremist and terrorist groups, as the case of Richard Reid demonstrates. Reid converted to Islam while in a British prison. At his trial as a terrorist in the United States, he proudly pleaded guilty to the charge of attempting to blow up a trans-Atlantic fight in December 2002 with explosives in his shoe.[72]

There is also the testosterone issue. Of all the segments of the population, young adult males are the most sexually charged and potentially the most aggressive. Given the explosive combination of high birthrate and high unemployment, the Muslim world has an enormous pool of young men for whom what they take to be martyrdom may seem to be their most fulfilling life option. Realistically speaking, they are expendable. As such, they are cause for extremist comfort and confidence. Osama bin Ladin has boasted that religious Muslims love death whereas cowardly westerners cling to life.[73] Their numbers are such that they would not be missed, save by their immediate family and friends who have the compensatory satisfaction of regarding the departed as shahids or martyrs in the path of God.

What the West Can Expect

Haven’t we had enough experience with the behavior of radical Muslims in power to have some idea of how they would conduct themselves were they to gain power in countries currently predominantly non-Muslim? For example, in spite of widespread international protests, the Taliban completely destroyed the world’s largest standing Buddha statue (53 metres) and a second Buddha statue of 38 metres in Afghanistan. It is not difficult to imagine what a committed Muslim extremist majority would do to western Christian art or to the more erotic art of ancient Rome or modern times. Even if western art and culture were appreciated by a majority of westernized, relatively secularized Muslims, a critical mass of true believers would suffice to convince the majority, by persuasion or terror, not to stray from the “true path.” The Salman Rishdie affair should serve as a warning.

Even today, when Muslims constitute a minority, albeit a politically and demographically significant minority, in the countries of Western Europe, they are able effectively to influence the foreign and economic policies of western governments. A glaring example of what can be called anticipatory compliance was the initial decision of the European Union to withhold publication of a 112-page report on “Manifestations of Anti-Semitism in the European Union” by the Center for Research on Antisemitism of the Technical University of Berlin. The report had been commissioned by the EU’s European Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia, but the EU sponsors deemed “inflammatory” one of the report’s key conclusions, namely, that Muslim and pro-Palestinian groups have generated a new and violent wave of hatred in Europe.[74] In spite of the European Union’s attempt to delay or suppress the report it had itself commissioned, the full text of the report was leaked and published on the Internet.[75] The EU finally released an amended report in March 2003 with a disclaimer that the original report, the work of highly respected, world-class scholars, was of “poor quality and lacking in empirical evidence.” The amended report concluded that “The largest group of perpetrators of anti-Semitic activities appeared to be young, disaffected white Europeans” influenced by extreme right ideas on Jews although it did acknowledge that some perpetrators were young Muslims and “people of North African origin.” The findings blatantly contradicted the actual report which stated “The percentage attributable to the extreme right was only nine per cent in 2002.” The report itself declared that most of the 191 violent attacks on synagogues, Jewish schools, kosher shops, cemeteries and rabbis in 2002” were the work of “youth from neighborhoods sensitive to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” According to S.O.S. Vérité-Sécurité, an anti-Semitism watchdog organization, 147 Jewish institutions – schools, synagogues, community centers, businesses – have been attacked. Rabbis have been assaulted. Under pressure from Muslim students, secondary school teachers, have canceled classes on the Holocaust.[76] Clearly, Europe’s leaders were in no mood to confront the reality of domestic Islamic extremism.[77]

Unfortunately, such denial is a dangerous mechanism of defense in either the individual or the group. When a reality is too disturbing to confront, denial will not make it go away. On the contrary, denial will only permit the unpleasant reality to fester and grow to the point where it can no longer be effectively coped with. The reality confronting Europe is there for all to see: The out-migration of millions of Muslims to formerly Christian nations where, to repeat, their numbers are increasing rapidly as the indigenous Christian population decreases. Admittedly, population increase is seldom linear and no one can tell whether present trends will continue. Nevertheless, at some point in the foreseeable future a religiously committed Muslim community will, in all probability, achieve a critical mass in a secularized Christian society. Already in the United Kingdom, more Muslims are reported attending religious services weekly than do communicants of the Established Church. “Religiously unmusical,” secularized politicians, to use Max Weber’s term, are often more interested in the short-term advantages of obliging their various constituencies than in the long-term cultural costs of so doing. Already in a number of western countries, Muslim courts, whose rulings are based on shar’iah, have been given the power of legal enforcement in familial matters. In the United States and Europe, Muslim advocacy groups have proven effective in advancing the interests of their community often in ways detrimental to the larger community. Undoubtedly, as their numbers increase so too will their insistence that society as a whole be guided by and reflect Muslim values.

These values are reinforced by the availability of communications media, such as the Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabia satellite TV networks, the World Wide Web, cassette tapes, CD-ROMs and DVDs that creates a virtual Ummah, a trans-national Nation of Islam without borders in which the normal allegiances of citizenship can be dissolved. Many of the extremists openly assert an unconditional loyalty to Islam cancels out any possible loyalty to the nation in which they hold citizenship.[78]  In diaspora Muslim enclaves, many immigrant families have replicated the culinary and cultural amenities of their native lands. They have little need to speak the local language. Assimilation, save at a superficial level, is discouraged by foreign trained, often Saudi-financed imams who preside over many of the local mosques. That is hardly surprising given the Muslim claim to have superseded both Judaism and Christianity and to be culturally and morally superior to the civilization of the West.

Muslim wealth, while unequally distributed, is nevertheless available to finance religious, cultural, social welfare, political, and media programs and institutions in the diaspora. Some of this wealth has also been used to seek the favor of journalists and to finance the training of western academics in such critical fields as Middle Eastern Studies. Aware of the readily available sources of support for their projects, such academics can be relied upon to interpret Islam in the least threatening, most favorable light. Not surprisingly, academics in the field are overwhelmingly pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel. Such wealth has also been used to secure political favor and to finance terror groups such as al-Qaeda that could not function without such support.

An important source of Islamic confidence is the knowledge that there is little, if anything, the West can do to deter or prevent an attack by an individual or a network that is willing to accept self-destruction as the price of a monumental assault on their adversaries. As noted above, the “secret of the believers’ victory over their enemies”  is that Muslims “do not protect their lives” whereas “Their enemies protect their [own] lives as criminals do.”[79] Put differently, Muslims will win because they love death [as a shahid] while their enemies love life. In an address at Tehran University on December 14, 2001, Ali Akhbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, former President of Iran at Tehran University on December 14, 2001, stated that Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons would be useless when the “world of Islam” came to possess nuclear weapons. “The use of a nuclear bomb in Israel,” he said, “will leave nothing on the ground, whereas it will only damage the world of Islam.” At least rhetorically, Rafsanjani indicated a willingness to sacrifice millions of his co-religionists in order to obliterate Israel.[80] Does anyone doubt that had al-Qaida possessed such a weapon on 9/11 it would have used it or that, if it gains such weapons in the future it will use them, and not only on the United States and Israel? Coupled with their present or future possession of chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons of mass destruction and the stated willingness of Islamic extremists to use them, western civilization, not just Israel, is faced with the most dangerous challenge in its entire history.

There is, of course, a solution that Muslim extremists may prefer for Christians, namely, surrender to Muslim terror and dhimmi servitude under the banner of Islam. As dhimmis, Europe’s Christians could give an Islamic empire the scientific, organizational and professional skills lacking in the economically dysfunctional Muslim heartland. This could establish the basis for a new “Golden Age” of Islamic prosperity recalling an earlier time when Byzantine and other Middle Eastern Christians provided the skills for their nomadic Arab conquerors who possessed the military capacities of a harsh desert people but few of the urban skills necessary to create a world-conquering civilization. According to Bat Ye’or, a Europe in denial has already begun the process of adopting to  aspects of dhimmi servitude.[81] The process of adaptation is likely to continue unless Europe ceases to be in denial and recognizes the value of the heritage it is in danger of losing. In The Cunning of History I called attention to the power of a conqueror’s bureaucracy to co-opt the bureaucracy of a defeated people even to the extent of cooperating in that people’s utter destruction. The same power would be available to Muslim bureaucrats who have the experience of more than a millennium in co-opting and ruling their subject peoples.

Should Islam triumph, it is hardly likely that the Jews of Israel or Europe would be permitted even a degraded version of dhimmi servitude. Having once lost the land of Israel to the Jews, victorious Muslims would want to assure themselves that no future descendants of defeated Jews would ever again have the ability to take possession of their ancient land yet another time.

In the concluding sentences of the first edition I warned of the dangers of  “an ever-enlarging pariah underclass of superfluous men and women who cannot be reached by the normal incentives and penalties of the established order.” I described that class as “without hope.” Clearly, members of such an underclass are to be found among the dwellers in the Muslim ghettos of western Europe for whom assimilation is unthinkable. Nevertheless, such people are not without hope nor did they and their families come to the West simply to supply the labor needs of an aging population. The behavior of Muslim ghetto gangs tells a different story. Gang members may not have an adequate western education, but they are not stupid. They have a capacity to organize and use force. They have a will to power and want to dominate or identify with a leader who dominates. The current scope of their control is very small, but radical Islam promises them a far greater dominion. That is why it is so often effective in recruiting them in both the ghettos and prisons. Radical Islam offers hope for this world and the next. We know of the abundant pleasures this conquering religion promises its devotees in the world-to-come, but western elites would be better served to focus their attention on radical Islam’s this-worldly promises. Every one of radical Islam’s major thinkers has asserted the true believer’s religious obligation to compel the entire world either to adopt Islam or submit to it as dhimmis. Whether combat is conventional or unconventional, of short duration or long, conquering warriors are indispensable, and they have much to hope for in the prospect of even distant victory. Sooner or later, they believe, conquest, domination and glory will be theirs. Nor will they be deterred by the fact that some, perhaps many, will perish in the effort. They will die firmly convinced that the lowliest of Muslims is destined to be of greater station than even the most lordly infidel. One does not need to be a conquering general to enjoy the satisfactions of conquest. All that is required, they believe, is to be included in the Ummah, the nation of Islam.


[1] Mehdi Barzani, the relatively moderate Iranian Prime Minister, had arranged to meet with Zbigbiew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor to President Carter in Algeria on November 2, 1979, two days before the embassy seizure. The meeting included a “photo op” showing Barzani and Brzezinzki shaking hands. See Bernard Lewis, The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror (New York: Modern Library, 2003), p. 83.

[2] See Ofira Seliktar, Failing the Crystal Ball Test: The Carter Administration and the Fundamentalist Revolution in Iran Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publications, 2000), p. 145.

[3] Ibid.

[4] J. C. Mikos, The Iranian revolution and modernization: Way stations to anarchy (Washington, D.C.: National Defense University Press, 1983), p. p. 57.

[5] The declaration first appeared in the London-based  Al-Quds Al-Arabiya, February 23, 1998.

[6] Sayyid Qutb, Hadha al-Din, Cairo: Dar Al-Qalam, 1962, p. 85. Cited in MEMRI, Special Report-No. 25, “Contemporary Islamist Ideology Authorizing Genocidal Murder,”  A useful discussion of Qutb can be found in Paul Berger, “The Philosopher of Islamic Terror,” New York Times Magazine, Sunday March 23, 2003.

[7] Lewis, The Criss of Islam, pp. 31-32. According to Professor John Kelsay, “Muslims are technically under the obligation to exert effort or to struggle toward the goal of an Islamic world, with the understanding that fighting may be the most apt means of fulfilling that under certain circumstances.” Wherever possible, non-military means are preferable although both in the pre-modern and modern periods much Islamic propaganda is apprehensive that rulers will avoid war more from cowardice or lack of conviction than from wisdom.  Personal communication from Professor Kelsay, August 16, 2004.

[8] The term dhimmi implies “protected” status, but this is a diminished status that is always dependent upon the wishes and, at times, the whims of the dominant party.

[9] The dhimma is modeled after the first such treaty granted by the Prophet Muhammad to the conquered Peoples of the Book. See Bat Ye’or, Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide (Rutherford, NJ: Farleigh Dickenson University Press, 2002), pp.37-38. In addition to Islam and Dhimmitude, the treatment of minorities in Islam has been authoritatively investigated by Bat Ye’or in The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians under Islam, with a preface by Jacques Ellul (Rutherford, NJ: Farleigh Dickenson University Press, 1985); The Decline of Eastern Christianity under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude Islam and Dhimmitude: (Rutherford, NJ: Farleigh Dickenson University Press, 1996). Bat Ye’or is the nom de plume of Giselle Littman, a British subject of Jewish religion born in Egypt.

[10] “Al-Sadr aide says female soldiers can be kept as slaves,” Associated Press Dispatch, Atlanta Journal Constitution, May 7, 2004.

[11]   See David Fromkin, Europe‘s LastSummer: who started the Great War in 1914? (New York: Knopf, 2004), pp. 257-315. Fromkin summarizes recent American and European scholarship in his informative and authoritative work.  See also Fritz Fischer, World Power or Decline: The Controversy over Germany’s Aims in the First World War (New York: W.W. Norton, 1974), first published as Weltmacht oder Niedergang (Frankfurt a/Main: Europäische Verlagsanstalt, 1965), Part I, Thesis 2, pp.  20-31.                    

[12] On the German-Slav death battle see Fritz Fischer, Griff nach der Weltmacht , 4th ed. (Düsseldorf: Droste Verlag, 1970), pp. 40 f. See also  Wolfgang Mommsen, Imperial Germany 1867-1918: Politics, Culture and Society in an Authoritarian State, trans. Richard Deveson (London: Arnold, 1995), p. 159;

[13] On the plan, see John Keegan, The First World War (New York: Vintage Books, 2000), pp. 28-36.

[14] On appeasement sentiment in Britain at the time of the British retreat from Dunkirk, see John Lukacs, Five Days in London: May 1940 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001), pp. 39-81; on isolationist sentiment in the United States, see Wayne S. Cole, America First: The Battle Against Intervention, 1940-41 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1953).

[15] Haim Harari, “View From the Eye of the Storm,”

[16] Lewis, The Crisis of Islam, pp. xiv-xx.

[17] This was especially true of Lord Kitchener (Horatio Herbert Kitchener) and those who served under him in Cairo and when he became Britain’s Minister of War. It was also true of many others. On Kitchener, see David Fromkin, A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East (New York: Henry Holt, 1989), pp. 83-87.

[18] Bernard Lewis, Islam and the West (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 142-143.

[19] Lewis, Islam and the West, p. xvii.

[20]  Al Da’wa, journal of the neo-Muslim Brotherhood, November 1980, cited by Gilles Kepel, Muslim Extremism in Egypt: The Prophet and Pharaoh (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993), p. 121.

[21] Kepel, Muslim Extremism in Egypt, p. 122. Intermarriage with true Muslims was unconditionally forbidden within the sect. Like the Muslim extremists, the Doenmeh claimed that Atatürk was of Doenmeh origin, a claim that was denied by the Turkish government. On the Doenmeh, see Gershom Scholem, article “Doenmeh,” Encyclopaedia Judaica, CR-ROM edition, Judaica Multimedia (Israel), Ltd. There are also numerous authoritative references to the Doenmeh in Scholem, Sabbatai Sevi: The Mystical Messiah 1526-1576 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973).   

[22] On the idea of a third Muslim invasion, see Lewis, Islam and the West, pp. 41-42.

[23] Ahmed Rashid, “Al Qaeda Shifts Strategy,” Daily Telegraph (London), ) October 18, 2002.

[24]  The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Authorized Edition (New York: W.W. Norton, 2004), see especially pp. 361-422.

[25] This issue with special reference to the American Department of State is discussed by Robert D. Kaplan, The Arabists: The Romance of an American Elite (New York: Free Press, 1995).

[26] For example, on July 10, 2004, a follower of Moktada al-Sadr, the extremist Iraqi Shi’ite cleric, told a New York Times reporter that he and his wife stood ready to be martyrs for Sadr’s movement. If need be, he said, he would even volunteer his 45 day old first born baby boy, declaring ”I will put mines in the baby and blow him up.” Somini Sengupta, “In the Ancient Streets of Najaf, Pledges of Martyrdom for Cleric,” New York Times, July 10, 2004.  One is reminded of Max Weber’s reflections on an “ethic of ultimate ends” and an “ethic of responsibility.”  The ethic of ultimate ends is gives no heed to the proximate consequences of an action as long as it is in the service of an end regarded as unconditionally good or desirable. The ethic of responsibility is always heedful of consequences. The father who expresses a willingness to turn his infant son into a bomb and the adult suicide bomber are motivated by an ethic of ultimate ends. See Max Weber, “Politics as a Vocation,” in in H.H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills,  From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology (New York: Oxford University Press, 1945), pp.  121-122.

[27]In response to his own rhetorical question in his “Letter to America,” What do we want from America, Osama bin Laden states, “The first thing that we are calling you to is Islam.” He further states, “ The second thing we call you to, is to stop your oppression, lies, immorality and debauchery that has spread among you.” See Bin Laden’s “Letter to America,”,3858,4552895-110490,00.html

[28] Cited by Lisbeth Lindeborg, “Osama’s Library,” Dagens Nyheter, Stockholm, Sweden, Oct. 25, 2001, reprinted in World Press Review< January 2002, (VOL. 49, No. 1).

[29] For an overview of the subject, see John Kelsay, Islam and War: A Study in Comparative Ethics (Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox, 1993) and Rudolph Peters, ed., Jihad in Classical and Modern Islam (Princeton: Markus Wiener, 1996).

[30] See Bernard Lewis, “Preface to the Paperback Edition,” The Assassins: A Radical Sect in Islam (New York: Basic Books, 2003), pp. XI, XII. The Japanese kamikaze pilots were also suicide killers. During the latter stages of World War II they deliberately crashed their planes into enemy ships in a desperate attempt to stop American armed forces as they approached ever closer to the Japanese homeland. Nevertheless, their targets were strictly military, never civilian. See Denis Warner and Peggy Warner, The Sacred Warriors: Japan’s Suicide Legions (New York: Avon Books, 1994).

[31] For this analysis of suicide murder, I am indebted to Haim Harari, op. cit.

[32] The theme is already present in Jacques Chirac, La lueur de l’espérance : réflexion du soir pour le matin (Paris : Table ronde, c1978).

[33] See Royce Jones, The Sunday Telegraph (London), June 11, 1997: “After Saturday comes Sunday, an Arab tells me-the proverb meaning that after the Jews are massacred it will be the turn of the Christians. Several of them crossed themselves to prove their religion.” See also Israel Amrani, “Hanan Ashrawi: The Palestinians Negotiator is Israel’s Best Hope for Peace, Mother Jones, March/April 1993, available at This interpretation was rejected by M. H. El-Farra, Jordanian Ambassador to the U.N., at a meeting of the U.N. Security Council on May 7. 1968. .

El-Farra pointed with pride to the fact that the majority of residents of Bethlehem and Ramallah were Christians who enjoy complete religious freedom. The situation in 2004 is very different.  There is no longer a Christian majority in Bethlehem, Nazareth or Ramallah. The Christian majority in Bethlehem, for example, has now become a minority of 20 percent and there has been a general outmigration of Christians from predominantly Muslim Palestine.

[34] “Allah has granted the Muslim people and the Afghani mujahedeen, and those with them, the opportunity to fight the Russians and the Soviet Union. … They were defeated by Allah and were wiped out. There is a lesson here. The Soviet Union entered Afghanistan late in December of ’79. The flag of the Soviet Union was folded once and for all on the 25th of December just 10 years later. It was thrown in the waste basket. Gone was the Soviet Union forever. We are certain that we shall – with the grace of Allah – prevail over the Americans and over the Jews, as the Messenger of Allah promised us in an authentic prophetic tradition when He said the Hour of Resurrection shall not come before Muslims fight Jews and before Jews hide behind trees and behind rocks. “


[36] According to Yigal Carmon, “’Wilaya’ refers specifically to a U.S. State; it could never refer to an independent country. The term for such a country is ‘Dawla.’”  Carmon, an authority on Arabic, claims that “The U.S. media in general mistranslated the words ‘ay wilaya’ (which means ‘each U.S. state’ to mean a ‘country’ or a ‘nation’ other than the U.S., while in fact the threat was directed specifically at each U.S. state.”   Yigal Carmon, “Osama bin Laden Tapes Threaten U.S. States Not to Vote for Bush,”  MEMRI, Special Alert No. 14, November 1, 2004,

[37]  I am indebted to Yigal Carmon, loc. cit., for this citation and to MEMRI for the translation.

[38] Dr. Mamoun Fandy, a progressive Egyptian columnist, offers a contrary interpretation, calling bin Laden’s message one of “capitulation and bankruptcy” and arguing that bin Laden’s real intent was to tell George Bush “Leave us alone and we will leave you alone.” Fandy, “bin Laden Votes for John Kerry: A Tape of Admission, Voting and Capitulation,” Al Ahram (Egypt), November 2, 2004. For this citation and translation, I am indebted to MEMRI, Special Dispatch Series-No.809, November 2, 2004, .

[39] Lewis, Islam and the West, p. 7.

[40] See Lawrence Wright, “The Terror Web: Were the Madrid bombings part of a new, far-reaching jihas being plotted on the Internet?” The New Yorker, August 2, 2004,. , pp. 50-51.

[41] In a fatwa posted on the website (December 2, 2002), Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi wrote of the “signs of the victory of Islam,” citing a well-known Hadith (Islamic tradition): “The Prophet Muhammad was asked: ‘What city will be conquered first, Constantinople or Romiyya?’ He answered: ‘The city of Heracles will be conquered first’ – that is, Constantinople… Romiyya is the city called today ‘Rome,’ the capital of Italy. The city of Heracles [later to become Constantinople] was conquered by the young 23-year-old Ottoman Muhammad bin Morad, known in history as Muhammad the Conqueror, in 1453. The other city, Romiyya, remains, and we hope and believe [that it too will be conquered]. This means that Islam will return to Europe as a conqueror and victor, after being expelled from it twice – once from the South, from Andalusia (Spain), and a second time from the East, when it knocked several times on the door of Athens. (Emphasis added)

Source: MEMRI, Special Dispatch Series No. 447,  “Leading Sunni Cleric Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi and other Sheiks Herald the Coming Conquest of Rome,” December 2, 2002.

[42] See .

[43] See .

[44] See “On the Status, Method, and Fallout of Global Spread of Wahabism,” an interview with Professor Sulayman Nyang, the Islamic Supreme Council of America, .  Nyang is a Sufi Muslim and a critic of Wahabism. See also Dore Gold, Hatred’sKingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism (Chicago: Regnery Publishing Company, 2003).  

[45] Bat Ye’or, The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians under Islam offers a healthy corrective to the benighn interpretation of Islamic dominance.

[46] John Kelsay, Islam and War: The Gulf War and Beyond (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1993), p. 118.

[47] Niall Ferguson, “The End of Europe?”, The American Enterprise Institute Bradley Lecture, Washington,  March 1, 2004.

[48] Wolfhart Pannenberg, “Letter from Germany,” First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, March 2003.

[49] Details of the citizenship reform, “Reform of Germany’s Citizenship and Nationality Law,” are posted on the web page of the German Embassy to the United Kingdom,

[50] I have changed his name.

[51] Max Weber, “Science as a Vocation,” in H.H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills, From Max Weber, p. 139. On the biblical origins of the “disenchantment of the world,” see Peter Berger, The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a sociological theory of Religion (Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday, 1967), pp. 99, 116, 118.

[52] For a defense of the idea that Islam is compatible with “democratic pluralism,” see Abdulaziz Abdulhussein Sachedina, The Islamic Roots of Democratic Pluralism (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001).

[53] The American Catholic thinker George Weigel has cited some of the possible negative consequences of a Muslim majority in western Europe: “Europe’s current demographic trendlines could eventually produce a Europe in which Sobieski’s victory at Vienna in 1683 is reversed, such that the Europe of the twenty-second century, or even the late twenty-first, is a Europe increasingly influenced, and perhaps even dominated, by radicalized Islamic populations, convinced that their long-delayed triumph in the European heartland is at hand.” First Things, February 2004,

[54] Population figures for France vary from 5 million to 10 million. While the exact figure is not known is that Islam is France’s second largest religion. See Jim Hoagland, “Europe’s Gray Future,” Washington Post, May 2, 2004.

[55] Bat Ye’or, “Eurabia: The Road to Munich,” National Review Online, October 9, 2002.

[56] For an American discussion of the balance-of-power issues between the United States and the European  Union, see Jeffrey L. Cimbalo, « Saving NATO From Europe, » Foreign Affairs, November/December 2004,  Vol. 83, No. 6.

[57] See, for example, Gabriel Schoenfeld, The Return of Anti-Semitism (San Francisco: Encounter Books, 2004); Phyllis Chesler, The New Anti-Semitism: The Current Crisis and What We Must Do About It (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003); Ron Rosenbaum, ed., Those Who Forget the Past: The Question of AntiSemitism (New York: Random House, 2004).  

[58] See article “Caricature” in Encyclopaedia Judaica, CD Rom edition.

[59] After a sojourn of a year in Europe following the start of Intifada II, David A. Harris, Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee, published a sampling of such cartoons. See Harris, “Europe on Israel, 2000-2001: A Sampling of Words and Images,” . See also Tom Gross, “New Prejudices for Old: The Euro Press and the Intifada,” National Review Online, November 1, 2001, .

[[60] Barbara Amiel, “Islamists Overplay their Hand, But London Salons Don’t See It,” Daily Telegraph (UK), December 21, 2001.

[61] Editorial, “French Fried,” Wall Street Journal, December 26, 2001.

[62] Anton LaGuardia and Patrick Bishop, “Straw’s Trip to Teheran Infuriates Teheran,” Daily Telegraph (UK), September 25, 2001).

[63] On “survive but not thrive,” see James Carroll, Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews (Boston: Houhton Mifflin, 2001), p. 219; on the attitude of the Vatican toward the establishment of a Jewish state in the “Holy Land,” see Sergio I. Minerbi, The Vatican and Zionism: Conflict in the Holy Land 1895-1925 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990).

[64] On genocide, see Carol Rittner, John K. Roth and James M. Smith, Will Genocide Ever End? (St.N: Paragon House, 2002;`on Bosnia, see Roy Gutman, A Witness to Genocide (New York: Macmillan, 1993) and David Rieff, Slaughterhouse: Bosnia and the failure of the West (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995); On Rwanda, see Linda Malvern, A People Betrayed: The Role of the West in Rwanda’s Genocide (London: Zed Books, 2000), Gérard Prunier, The Rwanda Crisis 1959-1994: History of a Genocide (London: G. Hurst, 1995) and Philip Gourvevitch, We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families: Stories from Rwanda (New York: Picador USA, 1998).  For an overview of official American response to genocide in the second half of the twentieth century, see Samantha Power, “A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide (New York: Basic Books, 2002).

[65] Kepel, Muslim Extremism in Egypt, p. 13.

[66] Ibid.

[67] See David Remnick, “Letter from Cairo: Going Nowhere: The Problem with Democracy in Egypt,” The New Yorker, July 12 & 19, 2004.

[68] “The New French Revolution,” a report by Christiane Ananpour on the CBS News Program “60 Minutes,” May 16, 2004 .

[69] Gang raped by three young men she knew and raped again after being pulled off a commuter train, her family threw her out when they discovered that she had been raped. She was by no means alone. In one particularly vicious case, a 13-year-old girl was gang raped by 80 men in Lille. Rape victims are reluctant to complain. Having lost their virginity, they are considered dishonored, while the rapists usually suffer neither pain nor stigma.  Samira Bellil, Dans l’enfer des tournantes (Paris: Éditions de Noël, 2002).

[70] Ananpour,  loc. cit.

[71] See Farhad Khosrokhavar, “L’Islam Carcéral, Le Nouvel Observateur, March 25, 2004  ; Craig Smith, “Europe Fears Converts May Aid Extremism,” New York Times, July 19, 2004.

[72] “Richard Reid pleads guilty: Faces minimum sentence of 60 years,”, .

[73] Speaking in praise of Muslim youth who fought against the United States, “I say to you William (Cohen, U.S. Secretary of Defense) These youths love death as you loves life.” Osama bin Laden, “”Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places.” The declaration was first published in Al-Quds Al-Arabiya, February 23, 1998. The text is available on line at Helen Gibson a writer for TIME/Europe quotes radical British Muslim activist Abu Yahya stating that “…true Muslims love death [for the cause] more than life.” Gibson, “Traitors or Martyrs:  What motivated three young Muslims to die, allegedly while fighting for the Taliban,” TIME/Europe, November 12, 2001,,13716,182850-1,00.html .

[74] Bertrand Benoit, “EU body shelves report on anti-semitism,” Financial Times, November 21, 2003;  Clifford D. May, “Hatred, European Style,” The Washington Times, December 3, 2003.

[75] Centre for Research on Antisemitism, “Manifestations of anti-Semitism in the European Union Synthesis Report,” The text of report may be downloaded in PDF at .

[76] Fernanda Eberstadt, “A Frenchman or a Jew?”, New York Times, February 29, 2004., see also Marie Brenner, “France’s Scarlet Letter,” June 2003, .

[77] Ambrose Evans-Prichard, “EU ‘covered up attacks on Jews by young Muslims,” Daily Telegraph, January 4, 2004 .

[78] For example, TIME correspondent Helen Gibson quotes British Muslim extremists Anjem Chadoury and Abu Yahya. “For a true Muslim,” Choudary declares, “a British passport is no more than a travel document.” Abu Yahya is quoted as saying, “Our true allegiance is solely to Alla and his Messenger, not to the queen and country. Nationality ….meaans nothing.”  Gibson, op. cit.

[79] MEMRI, Special Dispatch Series No. 289, “Egyptian Government Daily on Muslims’ Love of Death and Their Enemies’ Love of Life, translation of Abdallah Al-Naggar  in Al-Gumhuria, Egyptian government daily, October 7, 2001. The column was written less than a month after 9/11.

[80]The speech was reported in Iran News (English), Kayhan (Farsi), and Al-Wifaq (Arabic), December 15, 2001. Middle East Media Research Institute [MEMRI], Special Dispatch Series – No. 325, January 3, 2002, 

[81] See Bat Ye’or, “How Europe Became Eurabia,” Front Page Magazine, July 27, 2004,

Copyright © Richard L. Rubenstein, 2015



Richard L. Rubenstein is President Emeritus of the University of Bridgeport. His latest book is Jihad and Genocide (Rowman and Littlefield: 2011).

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