Richard Rubenstein: Jihad and Genocide

a review by Bat Ye’or (January 2010)

In Jihad and Genocide, Richard Rubenstein discusses and clarifies the most important issues of this century. Having written a number of books on the political and cultural processes that led to the genocide of the Jews in World War II, he now detects in jihad the same dynamic targeting Israel.

Most Westerners ignore the meaning of dhimmitude and Islam’s dichotomous division of the world into dar al-Islam (the land of Islam) and dar al-Harb (the land of war). Yet those concepts are fundamental pillars of jihad and encompass the entire Islamic worldview. They affect both everyday life and the future of the West, as is evident every time an airline passenger submits to an intrusive search before boarding a flight. In our nuclear age, these concepts will determine the preservation of our freedom and ultimately of humanity’s survival. In reality, today’s jihadist genocidal rage targets more than Israel. It targets the entire civilized world.


Using primary sources, religious injunctions, and related modern literature, Rubenstein exposes the universality of the jihad threat. Muslims are under the religious obligation to expand the abode of Islam by war, by peaceful means such as immigration, and da’wa (proselytism). Islamists believe global peace can only be achieved through the worlwide domination of Islam. With scholarly objectivity and balanced arguments, the author analyses the structure and implementation of jihad deployed in time and space. He underlines the two opposing interpretations of jihad, the Muslims and the non-Muslim. The Muslim sees jihad and its consequence – Islamization – as a benefit for humanity. They judge resistance of non-Muslims to Muslim forces to be a criminal war against Islam that prevents universal obedience to Allah’s injunctions. That principle dominates contemporary Islamist international policy and is used to justify its hatred against Israel, regarded as guilty of defending itself, as well as its accusation that America is itself guilty of 9/11 for its “sinful” opposition to Islamist imperialism. Similarly, western opposition to Islamization and the alleged sin of “Islamophobia” are condemned as crimes. 


Rubenstein examines the genocidal potentialities of jihad in the writings of Sayyid Qutb, one of the most influential radical Islamist thinkers. He stresses Qutb’s view that jihad is not a territorial war that can be solved by diplomatic compromise. Islamists regard Jihad as a war for Allah that aims at bringing the whole of humanity under Allah’s law. In this view, the non-Muslim world is characterized by jahiliyya, defined by Qutb as the “state of ignorance of the guidance of Allah.” According to Qutb, jahiliyya is the condition of a sub-humanity condemned to disappear. Qutb belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood movement, one of today’s most powerful organizations that propagates his teachings worldwide. These views are shared by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) that unites 57 Muslim countries and whose ultimate aim is the re-Islamization of the universal Muslim community and the restoration of the Caliphate as a global Islamic empire. This trend explains the return of some shari’a laws in Indonesia (e.g. stoning adulterers in Aceh), and the pro-Islamist evolution of Turkey. Although Qutb’s heirs may diverge on the tactical steps necessary to achieve the global Caliphate, their jihadist activities spread terror and massacres worldwide, including violence against Muslims judged insufficiently religious.


Rubenstein’s discussion of the ideological rationale of the Islamists underlines the irreconcilable gap between Western and Muslim political concepts. In his chapter on the Armenian genocide, the author stresses the genocidal character of jihad as it was linked, in the case of the Armenians, to the theological-legal system of dhimmitude. Nevertheless, while the racial divide was unbridgeable for the Nazis, in Islam, religious differences could be overcome by conversion.


Rubenstein methodically explores the sources, the ideological connections, and the common policies of Nazi, Fascist and Muslim leaders. He exposes the Arab (Muslim and Christian) participation in hate teaching and propaganda against the Jews; Muslim military involvement in the Waffen SS armies and in the extermination camps from the Balkans to the Caucasus. The most active and vociferous proponent of genocide before, during and after World War II was Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the former Mufti of Jerusalem. His links to the Nazi extermination machinery in the name of jihad are detailed in the book.  


The author also demonstrates that Allied acceptance of the extermination of the Jews – either deliberately or through wilful neglect – was a continuous, discrete thread in the World War II policy of the Allies. Rescue of the Jews through the destruction or the liberation of the camps was never an Allied aim. As we know, a remnant did survive because the war ended before Hitler could finish the job. After the war, the massive social, political, economic and intellectual links between unreconstructed Nazis and Fascists and the Arab/Muslim world remained unbroken. Many Nazis now operated in high places in post-World War II Arab countries. Nazi looted treasures were hidden in Western banks. Maintained as an underground, unnoticed trend, this vast network emerged in the 1970’s as a full Euro-Arab alliance against America and Israel. Although downplayed by the governments of the European Community (EC), a policy of Islamization of Europe was nevertheless conducted in tandem with an incitement to antisemitism.


The 1973 Yom Kippur War was a victory for Israel but a fateful defeat for the European Community. Accepting the Arab oil boycott, the EC submitted to PLO terrorism and totally reversed previous European Middle East policy. As a result, the Palestinian-Nazi historical alliances and networks triumphed, now reinforced by the cohesive structure of the European Community. Using American sources, Rubenstein confirms that the Europeans attempted to pressure the US State Department to support Arab policy against Israel. Europe blamed America for putting “vital European interests at risk,” a euphemism to cover up Palestinian terrorist threats should the West refuse to support Arab policy. Using these sources, Rubenstein casts a crude light on the European determination to side with the Arabs and avoid any confrontation. From then on, Euro-Arab working commissions – under the aegis of both the president of the European Commission and the Secretary-General of the Arab League – set the institutional structures for mass Muslim immigration and Islamic political and cultural propagation in Europe. Europe’s anti-Israeli policy and antisemitism is a pillar of this policy, albeit masked by a belated acknowledgement of the Shoah. However, this guilt was coupled with the request to Israel that it recognise its allegedly “Nazi-like” policy toward the Palestinians.


In 1973, under jihadist terror, Europe created a new people, the ‘Palestinians’, which had never fought for a country before 1967. Thereafter its mission – blessed by Europe and the Muslims states – would be the destruction of Israel and its replacement by a new state, Palestine. In this view, whatever Israel does is always wrong because Israel is said to be guilty for existing, guilty of having survived the Shoah. The author recalls here the facets of current Euro-Arab antisemitism, overlooked, if not encouraged, by some European Union (EU) leaders. Rubenstein observes that this strategy now bears fruit as Iran develops as a nuclear power and proclaims its genocidal intentions toward Israel – a déjà vu scenario bringing us back to Hitler’s vile utterances. He explains that the denial of Israel’s legitimacy, felt also in Europe, has its roots in Muslim and Christian theology, and does not relate to a territorial contest. His detailed analysis of Israel’s and America’s answers to Iran’s nuclear threat are bleak. Israel’s demonization internationally, its abandonment by Europe, recalls the antisemitic campaigns from the 1920s onward that aimed at the dehumanization of an entire  people and religious group in order to create an international acceptance for genocide.


In the politically nefarious evolution that led to the present situation, France played a dominant role. Paris led the vilification campaign against the Shah of Iran, offered a safe-heaven to Khomeini and greatly enhanced his rise to power. The shah had good relations with America and Israel, a situation that pro-Palestinian France sought to reverse. Consequently, France bares a heavy responsibility for the radicalisation of the Muslim world. On the other hand, France – as did the U.S. – supported the secular regime of Saddam Hussein, although he massacred tens of thousands of Kurds and Shiites and funded Palestinian human bombers against Israel. France also was the driving force in the creation of ‘Eurabia’ in the 1960s.


The general delegitimization and condemnation of Israel by Europe, its unwillingness to neutralize Iran and condemn Palestinian jihadist attacks, its support for a peace that implies Israel’s disappearance lead the author to detect a tacit approval of the elimination of Israel as a sovereign state which could only be achieved by genocide.


Rubenstein cites the Bermuda Conference April 19-29, 1943 at which the British and American leaders made clear their determination not to rescue the Jews from their fateful ordeal. He sees similarities between the unspoken consensus for genocide in the 1940s and the present situation of Israel’s isolation and vilification. He examines the powerful anti-Israel prejudice among those American leaders who favour a Muslim rapprochement, Eurabia-style, and their hope for engagement to overcome the jihadist theological threat. The author points to numerous examples of a persistent tendency among American elites to oppose the Jewish state either openly or by indirectly obstructing pro-Israel policies. He stresses that the religious character of the Islamist strategic objective cast doubt on the possibility of genuine dialogue. The best that could be achieved, he wisely warns, is a temporary truce or hudna but at the price of progressive submission and ultimate destruction. As Muslim powers accept such a truce only if it favours Islamic interests, Europe, which has engaged in dialogue and truce, today finds itself hostage to the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Europe’s territorial security is in shambles, as jihadists plan their worldwide terrorist operations in Europe’s cities. Hence, Rubenstein observes that the West faces a radically different enemy than was the Soviet Union and that it should examine the enemy through Islamist and jihadist concepts.


Evoking the Nazi attribution of guilt to the Jews for the war that Hitler himself had triggered, Rubenstein observes that the Jews were punished by genocide. Could it be, asks Rubenstein, that we have a similar scenario with Iran? European and U.S. policies that, in effect, press Israel to commit suicide by inaction suggest that Israel is regarded as guilty for existing and guilty for the extermination war conducted against it.


In the last chapter, the author examines the psycho-social roots of the virulent Islamic hatred against both the West (Christianity) and Israel. According to Rubenstein, this violence emerges from the rage, humiliation and impotence of societies that cannot attain the leading place in the world they believe Allah has bestowed upon them. Islamic theology rejects kaffirs – infidels who are considered a sub-humanity that must either convert to Islam or submit as dhimmis – since Islam is in their eyes the bearer of the perfect religion elected by Allah to govern the world. For over a millennium, Muslim power has imposed on non-Muslims the worst attributes of contempt as a visible proof of its superiority. But the humiliation of the Ottoman defeat at Lepanto (1571), the successive retreats in the 17th and 18th centuries before Russian and Western advances, the loss of the Ottoman colonial empire in Europe, followed by Western colonization and its present underdeveloped condition, could trigger a desperate apocalyptic move to destroy the world in which Islam is not supreme. 


Rubenstein pleads for recognition that the world is engaged in a religious conflict. Here he candidly touches on the great taboo, the truth hidden at all costs: neither Israel nor the West have been willing to recognize the religious dimension of the conflict. Given the nature of their societies, they fear that they have no viable solution. But falsehoods do not change the nature of the conflict; they only enable it to simmer and strengthen from Chechnya to India, from Nigeria to Finland, from Spain to Armenia.


Meanwhile we see the Islamist Turkish regime loosening its ties with Israel and joining the OIC Islamist front in view of bringing the restoration of the Caliphate that dominates already at the UN and has taken Europe hostage. Blinded by a vicious repressed antisemitism, the West supported jihad against Israel and consequently failed to suppress an ideology that targets itself and the world with the same, if not greater, violence. Riddled with an immigration that fuels social conflicts within its population, surviving on disinformation and security ransoms, it has become at best the auxiliary of the OIC.


Written in a clear style, Rubenstein’s book evokes in simple language, the most crucial issues of our time: is the West repeating the scenario of the 1940s, organising through a UN, dominated by the OIC – particularly the UN Human Rights Council – a worldwide campaign of demonization of Israel in order to justify its destruction? The Council’s acceptance of the Goldstone Report condemning Israel for self-defence adopts the Islamic view in which jihadist attacks are commended but the resistance of those aggressed upon is taken to be aggression against Allah’s rights. Having lost its legitimacy according to the permanently valid concept of dar al-Harb, Israel is thus alleged to be guilty of the “war crime” of defending itself against its own destruction. In effect, this view condemns any resistance to terrorism and gives a free pass to terrorists. What does this policy tells us about the West, and particularly Europe’s own policy? Does its mean that the West approves the jihadist strategy of world Islamization while self-defence is prohibited? Has the West already adopted this policy for itself as the politically correct culture, as the sanctions against ‘Islamophobia’ seem to suggest? In this case, we have to reflect on the spiritual and political meaning for us of the current anti-Israel hatred and policy in the West, and Rubenstein’s book is an indispensable start.  


Bat Ye’or is the author of Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis, Madison, NJ/ Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2005, among others works.  

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