by Hugh Fitzgerald (Sept. 2008)
The Arab states of the Gulf – the little teeny ones, and even the great big one, that famous Gated Estate (houses and messuage) that the Al-Saud family, whose members, upon takin g full possession of Arabia, promptly renamed as "Saudi" Arabia -- are, as the famously dismissive but accurate phrase has it, little more than "tribes with flags." For "Saudi" Arabia in particular, the deeds of forced sale, from the Hashemites for the Two Noble Sanctuaries in the Hejaz, and those for most of the rest of the real estate, in Nejd and, in soon-to-be-oil-bearing Hasa, turned over to the Al-Saud by the defeated Shammar tribe round about 1920, are of course non-existent. The Al-Saud simply defeated their enemies, and their legitimacy as rulers, even owners, of “Saudi” Arabia, such as it is, is not even a century old. Though it has been deemed impolite in the West to discuss “tribes” in reporting on what really goes on in “the Arab world” or in sub-Saharan Africa, in a part of the world where loyalties are either greater than the nation-state (a Western invention), to a trans-national umma, or smaller than the nation-state, to sect and to tribe, the failure to think or analyze in such terms is unwise.
The “Palestinian” Arabs – that is, the Gazan Arabs, and the “West Bank” Arabs who may be said to constitute a kind of tribe, the tribe of local Arabs who have been turned into the shock troops of the Jihad against Israel -- do not yet have, and certainly do not deserve, and one hopes will never manage to acquire, their very own state in a three-state or two-state or one-state “solution” in historic Palestine (on both sides of the Jordan), but what is amusing is that even without that state, which would be one more “tribe with a flag,” these local Arabs manage to engage in internecine tribal warfare with what weapons they possess. They war with each other, over not principle but over loot, the loot at the moment of foreign aid supplied by Infidels.
But the war is much more severe and obvious in Gaza, among the Gazan Arabs, than it is in the “West Bank” among the “West Bank” Arabs. There are several reasons for this.
a) Primitive though the “West Bank” Arabs may be by Western standards, but they are ever-so-slightly more advanced on the civilizational scale than the Gazan Arabs. In the main this is due to their greater contact with the Israelis, a contact that has had clear, if largely unrecognized, effect, as the unremarked-upon “mission civilisatrice” that results from Israel’s example continues to have its effect among “West Bank” Arabs.
b) Both the Israeli army, and the Jewish inhabitants of those parts of Judea and Samaria -- assigned to the Mandate for Palestine by the League of Nations -- that were seized by the Arabs in the 1948 war and only recovered by the Israeli Defense Forces in the Six-Day War – manage to keep the Fast Jihadists of Hamas at bay, and the beneficiaries of this are the Slow Jihadists of Fatah. Unfortunately, the Israelis then fool themselves, and allow others to be fooled, into thinking that differences over timing and tactics between the Fast Jihadists of Hamas and the Slow Jihadists of Fatah are somehow of great moment, when they are essentially unimportant in the long view – a view longer, that is, than the next few years. The long view is what counts.
c) The presence of Israelis in all parts of historic Palestine west of the Jordan (the region east of the Jordan has been made, by fiat of the Jordanian government, Judenrein), makes for just a little more temporary unity among the local Arabs, based on the shared anti-Infidel (in this case, anti-Jewish) venom which provides sustenance, a poisonous panem quotidianum, to the local Arabs in the Arab-occupied parts of Western Palestine, than would be the case without that presence. In Gaza the Infidels are just over the horizon, and while rockets are lobbied incessantly in their direction, they are not in the midst of Gaza, so Arabs take out the aggression so much a part of Islam on other Arabs.
It would be no different in the case of Iraq, where an American withdrawal could permit a relapse into low-level internecine warfare, between sects (Shi’a and Sunnis) and between ethnic groups (Arabs and Kurds), and that low-level warfare would be without end, until such time as another despot comes along and manages to impose his will, or until there is a permanent break-up in the artificial state of Iraq. Such an understanding should lead those who grasp the nature of Islam, and of Muslim peoples (with their notion that after any conflict there remain only two possibilities: that of being the victor, and that of being the vanquished) to wish to consider how best to exploit the situation in Iraq, not the one created, most temporarily, by the “surge” but the one that reflects permanent fissures, and the kind of behavior that Islam’s texts, and tenets, and attitudes, and atmospherics, naturally encourage.
One should begin with what we all know to be true: the Iran-Iraq War, which lasted from 1980 to 1988. This conflict managed to use up the resources, and monopolize the malevolent attention, of two powerful and dangerous Muslim states, Iran and Iraq. And within Iraq, the hostility between Sunnis and Shi’a long predates the arrival of the Americans, or even the ascension to power of Saddam Hussein, but has been observable ever since the British took over from the conquered Ottoman Turks. And, if one were to take a still longer view, one would observe that the Sunni-Shi’a split goes back to the earliest days of Islam. Similarly, the Arab mistreatment of the Kurds is not a recent phenomenon, but merely a recent manifestation of the Arab supremacist attitude toward all non-Arab Muslims, including not only the Kurds, but the Berbers, the black African Muslims of Darfur, and other non-Arab Muslims in the subcontinent and Central and East Asia who are to be used, for Arab interests, and if possible made to feel that they should wish to be so used, should try to play the sedulous apes of, the “best of peoples,” the Arabs.
A similar realism ought, at long last, to come to those who keep thinking that if only, if only this and if only that, they can somehow reach “an agreement” between Arabs and Israelis (sometimes the loaded words are “between Israel and Palestine” – a transparent attempt to reify a non-existent state), then over time the Muslim Arabs, in “Palestine” and outside, will gradually abandon their hostility to Israel. But why should this be so? Why should Muslims who are taught that the world belongs to Allah and to Muslims, for any reason at all decide to drop the most essential ideas, the foundational ideas, in the politics and geopolitics of Islam. To wit: no Infidel nation-state can be permitted to exist on land once possessed, for a long or a short period, by the forces of Islam. Non-Muslim peoples have no legitimate claims; Muslims alone have claims. And in those lands that were never possessed by Islam, it is the duty of Muslims to remove every obstacle to the spread, and then to the dominance, of Islam.
Judea and Samaria, or the parts that the Arab armies that invaded Israel after May 15, 1948 seized (the Jordanians ruled these lands won in war with an iron fist from Amman until early June 1967), not only are rightfully part of Israel, as that same territory was, prior to May 1948, earlier part of the League of Nations’ Mandate for Palestine. And furthermore, not only is the Israeli claim based on the precise terms and the clear intention of the framers of the League of Nations’ Mandate for Palestine, and then reinforced by the rules of warfare, but at this point, even if the Israeli claim were not as strong as it is, nonetheless it has become territory that Israel cannot surrender, if it is to survive, not to those who openly wish it ill, nor to those who temporarily choose, as Mahmoud Abbas likes to say, “peace as a strategic option.”
The IDF needs to control the historic invasion routes from the east, including the heights of Judea, and to prevent any return to the eight-mile waistline (from Qalqilya to the sea) of Israel in the pre-1967 (that is, the 1949 Armistice Lines, to something less hellishly difficult to defend). Israel must retain control of the indispensable aquifers under Arab-occupied parts of Judea and Samaria. And then there is the matter of national morale, and of keeping that morale up, and of maintaining its own self-respect. Israel gains nothing long-term – only the smiles of a single summer night -- by yielding its legal rights (see the League of Nations’ Mandate for Palestine), its historic rights, its moral rights. It gains nothing from its Arab Muslim enemies, who regard each Israeli concession as reason to be hopeful for others, and then others, and confirmation that the strategy of the Slow Jihad is working. Every concession by Israel does not help sate, but merely whets, the Arab and Muslim appetite for an end to this hideous offense to Arab Muslim sensibilities.
The Masri clan and the Kafarneh clan and the Hilles clan and so many others show that Gazan Arabs are tribes with a would-be flag. And the “West Bank” Arabs are the same, but this time it is the old landowning families, the Husseinis and the Khalidis, who are the “tribes with flags.” The Slow Jihadists and the Fast Jihadists fight, but fight over loot, over who will have the power to control the loot. That’s the real disagreement between Fatah and Hamas. It’s simply a matter of warlords and retinues, the warlord who wants, for example, a particular plot of land for his own villa, the building to be paid by money from Western taxpayers, and a rival warlord, who wants the same site, possibly for himself, or possibly for some son-in-law. Sects, tribes, families fighting and squabbling.
May it go on forever.
The government and people of Israel need to recognize, grimly but soberly, the real nature of the aggressive and violent tribes, clans, families of which the Gazan Arabs, and the “West Bank” Arabs consist. And they must recognize that societies suffused with Islam are naturally violent and aggressive, and are held in check only by despots, with their secret police, and their army, and their torture, and their everything. That is the way of Islam, a Total Belief-System that encourages submission to Allah, and mimicry of that Model of Conduct Muhammad, and whose canonical texts overflow with violence and hatred for Infidels. That inculcated violence and hatred, directed in the Qur’an and Hadith at Infidels, also spills over into attitudes and atmospherics that help explain the viciousness of intra-Muslim quarrels.
It is true that in the past century, some constraints on Islam have been imposed from on high – by Ataturk, or Habib Bourguiba, or the Shah of Iran. The Muslim masses will always be more primitive than those of their rulers who have seen the ways of non-Muslims and become aware of the need to limit the political and social power of Islam. “Democracy” has never been a force for moderation, such as it is, in the Muslim world. It has been the enlightened despots – Mohammad V of Morocco, Habib Bourguia of Tunisia, Kemal Pasta or Ataturk of Turkey, and Shah Reza Pahlevi of Iran – who have been able, in ways little and big, to limit the power of Islam. And where they have been able to systematically constrain, for a long period, the power of Islam, then a class of relaxed, or even nominal Muslims, can be created. That is what happened during 80 years of rule by Kemalists in Turkey. There are even Turks who have become that useful thing, “Muslim-for-identification-purposes-only” Muslims. When Islam retreats as an omnipresent political and social force, aggression and violence also retreat. Compare life in Istanbul with that in any Pakistani city.
But without those constraints on Islam, and without violent Jihad against Infidels to preoccupy them (and in Gaza that offers so many their sole reason for being), Muslims will tend to fight with each other. Sweet reason, the art of compromise, all that is not part of the letter or spirit of Islam. It must be repeated: Islam offers, and teaches, two possible outcomes: that of being Victor, or that of being Vanquished.
Watch Iraq after the Americans leave. Whenever that happens, and no matter how rosy the prospects for peace and prosperity and a chicken-with-cumin-and-coriander-and-dates in every pot and fabulous oil wealth (now piling up by the tens of billions, entirely unspent, because the inexhaustibly generous and naive Americans can be counted on to keep paying, and paying, and paying), there will be a natural and unavoidable descent back into what societies suffused with Islam always descend into, unless a general or despot or a despotic family seizes control, and imposes a new own kind of “peace." A "peace" akin to that imposed on the Shammar tribe in the Nejd by the Al-Saud, or, the "peace" that Saddam Hussein imposed on the Shi'a and the Kurds, a "peace" that passeth Western understanding.
Meanwhile, in Israel, the Olmert government, in order to “bolster” Mahmoud Abbas just as Condoleezza Rice arrived to see peace-and-justice done, freed – as one more in a series -- two hundred “Palestinian” Arabs who had been convicted of terrorism and other crimes.
This is yet another in an uninterrupted series of grotesque surrenders, the kind which are described by successive Israeli governments and negotiators as helping to “bolster” the “Palestinian” side, particularly if a shadow-play is constructed where a “trustworthy” and “moderate” interlocutor – Mahmoud Abbas – is set against the other kind, the ones against whose attacks he needs to show, apparently, that his sweet reasonableness is in fact capable of obtaining “concessions” from the Israelis, who are always so ready to oblige. Yes, the Olmert government wants to give that nice trustworthy, no-one-here-but-us-accountants Mahmoud Abbas the "confidence" to proceed, that is to proceed with what he, Mahmoud Abbas, has carefully described as “choosing peace [i.e., negotiations and a 'truce' treaty] as a strategic option."
But when the Olmert government does this kind of thing, letting out murderers and would-be murderers, those in the Israeli security forces who apprehended these people, often risking or giving their lives to do so, and the people of Israel whom they have so heroically been protecting, are entitled to ask:
What about the "confidence" of the people of Israel in their own future safety? What about their plummeting "confidence," because of such things as these prisoner-freeing spectacles, in their own government, in their own political and media elites, so that many of the sanest of the sane in Israel itself become bewildered, enraged, finally despondent or half-crazed with despair at what is going on, and at their own inability, it seems, to stop successive Israeli governments -- but above all this one of Olmert, certainly the worst in a long line of terrible governments -- from acting as they do.
And so the ignoring of the obvious continues, the Islamic substratum in the minds and hearts of Muslim Arabs, and even some islamochristian Arabs, the ideology that is so strong, so overwhelming, so difficult not to be affected by, and that explains why the Slow Jihadists of Fatah do not disagree in their ultimate goals with the Fast Jihadists of Hamas, those Slow Jihadists whom, the Olmert government, and presumably the American government, think need yet one more "bolstering" blunder, yet one more "confidence-building" measure that leads to a further bleak leaching out of any "confidence" that might, among the much-put-upon, beleaguered, bullied, betrayed, and brave people of Israel, have managed to subsist.
Societies suffused with Islam seek their own level. It is happening in Iraq. It is happening in Afghanistan. It is happening among the Gazan Arabs, and were the Israelis foolishly and suicidally to leave, it would happen to the “West Bank” Arabs. And the Infidel world, wishing not to recognize this, has been piling on the aid, and will no doubt continue to do so. But this is wrong. Instead, it should recognize that whatever fissures exist within these states or “tribes with flags” should be exploited, so as to divide and demoralize the Camp of Islam. Nothing should be done to hinder those sectarian, ethnic, tribal, family or even, as in the case of Hamas and Fatah, crime-family divisions. Instead, Islam must have its image unburnished, and a display of what Muslim societies and states naturally tend to will limit the appeal of campaigns of Da’wa in the West. Furthermore, there is almost nothing that Infidels can do to persuade Muslims that there is something deeply wrong with Islam. Indeed, the more they try to do this, even obliquely – by promoting “democracy” for example – the more likely Muslims will rally around Islam. But nothing need be done by Infidels, no aid need be extended to Muslims (it is absurd that with rich Arabs drowning in trillions of dollars in unmerited oil wealth, Infidels continue to lavish tens or hundreds of billions on Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, the “Palestinian” Arabs, and other Muslims who have come to expect this quasi-jizyah, and no one expects a cent in aid to come from, to be volunteered by, the rich Arabs). If Infidel states do nothing to hinder the natural working-out of Islam, the societies that result will be such failures, political, economic, social, moral, and intellectual, that it will be impossible for the most advanced Muslims to deny this, and deny that those failures come not from Infidels, but from Islam itself. All we, the non-Muslims of the world, need do is to sufficiently inform ourselves about Islam so that we comprehend, and can explain to ourselves and to others (including Muslims), that we can make that connection, between Islam and the habit of submission that encourages despotism, Islam and inshallah-fatalism that discourages hard work and entrepreneurial flair, Islam and mistreatment of women and non-Muslims that represents a social and moral failure, Islam that discourages most forms of artistic expression, and free and skeptical inquiry that the conduct of scientific investigation requires, and is thus an intellectual failure.
Let Muslim societies seek their own level. No lifelines, no lifeboats, no nothing. Watch, and let the world’s non-Muslims learn enough to recognize the connection of what happens to Islam itself, and thereby force Muslims, too, to start to arrive at the same understanding that they wish so ardently to avoid. Boots on the ground will then prove quite unnecessary.
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