Last week at work, my friend Alton, who is aware that I have studied the Middle East situation, asked me the following question. "George, do you think there ever will be peace between Israel and her neighbors?" Since this was a no-brainer, my immediate response was a resounding "NO". Then I explained to him, as follows, why this was the only possible answer.
The answer starts with the understanding of Islam, and by that I am talking about the Mainstream Islamic teachings, not just the extreme position. By the way, this will only be the "Cliff Notes" version of the Muslim - Israel history. To get a detail understanding, read The Middle East by Bernard Lewis and Islamic Imperialism by Ephraim Karsh.
So let's start off by defining some Islamic terminologies. Islam categorizes people as either:
- Pagan (Idol Worshippers), or
- Dhimmi (Non Muslim Monotheist).
Pagans can either convert to Islam, become a slaves to Muslims, or be killed. The Dhimmi is tolerated and/or protected (depending upon the whim of the rulers), but they have to pay special taxes and adhere to demeaning measures to demonstrate their inferiority to Muslims.
In the Islamic world-view, the world itself is divided into two basic parts:
- Dhar al Islam - World of Islam - Parts of the world that are under Muslim control.
- Dhar al Hareb (or Harb) - World of the sword - Parts of the world that are still to be brought under Muslim control.
At this point, it might start to dawn on us that the P.R. we are getting from the media and the Islamic Hype-Masters, might not be the TRUTH. Muslims don't strive to coexist with the rest of the world, but they are driven to subdue and bend the world to their domination.
But in addition to the drive for domination, Islam also preaches that any land that has been conquered by Islam is henceforth Holy to Islam, and may never again be ruled by a non-Muslim, especially if there are Muslims in the ruled population. Now we can start to see the answer to my friend's original question, as well as the explanation to the general unrest in the Middle East.
If I ask you to name a country in the world that was once ruled by the Muslims, and is now ruled by a Non-Muslim, I am sure that the first country to come to mind is Israel. It is well known that the area in the Middle East that now includes Israel was the site of the Jewish homeland and the site of The Jewish Temple. After the "original" land of Israel was invaded by the Roman army in the year 70CE and the Temple destroyed for the second time (with only the western retaining wall of the Temple Mount remaining), and the Jewish population dispersed among many nations, the land was occupied by different settlers.
Islam was founded in the year 610CE by Mohammed, and as his following grew, he embarked on a path of conquest. The land of Israel was part of the geography that fell under the Muslim rule at that time, and they held it for 1300 years until the area was conquered by the Seljuk Turks. The area then changed hands a few more times before Britain and France occupied the area in 1918. The Balfour Declaration, the Partition of the former Ottoman Empire, the 1947 UN vote to divide "Palestine" into Jewish and Arab halves, finally lead to the establishment of the Jewish state of Israel in 1948.
A brief note has to be inserted here. The Jewish people have maintained a constant presence in the land of Israel in spite of the dispersion following the Roman conquest about 2000 years ago. The population size fluctuated due to the constant massacres by various neighbors (like Arabs) and visitors (like the Crusaders), but the Jews never abandoned their homeland. In fact, up until relatively recently, the terminology of "Palestinian" referred to the Jews of Palestine. And prior to the founding of the modern State of Israel, Jewry worldwide referred to their homeland as Palestine. Check out this video from 1918 and you'll see Jews living in Jerusalem.
History shows, that since the inception of Israel in 1948, the tiny nascent country was repeatedly beset by aggression of its neighbors. The advanced technological marvel that is Israel today, had to be built with one hand, while the other hand was beating back the neighborly aggressors intent on finally ridding the land of Jews. To the Muslims, the State of Israel is an affront that Islam cannot tolerate and the land MUST be recaptured by any means.
But you will point out that the Arabs are always looking to have peace with Israel as evidenced by the many peace conferences that have taken place. So first I will point out to you that even today, the so-called Palestinian people call the Israeli Independence Day, the day of Nakba (catastrophe). Then I will challenge you to show me the results of any of these Peace Conferences that benefited Israel. With each "Peace Initiative", Israel always ended up giving up something, while the Arabs always ignored their part of the bargain. But how could they sign an agreement and then not honor it? It is because the Muslims also believe in emulating Mohammed's Treaty of Hudabiya. To paraphrase the intent, this reference gives Muslims the right to promise anything to non-Muslims, then break the promise without consequences as long as they achieve their aim. By using the forum of the Peace Process, the Muslims are getting the land back a piece (read "peace") at a time.
Of course you will smile and say "But what about the Peace Treaty with Egypt? They didn't back out." And I will explain that the Egyptian Peace Treaty was with a Secular leadership. This brings up the topic that I alluded to in the beginning, and that is the uprisings of the "Muslim Spring". Islam believes that all of the Muslim lands should be under Sharia Law and ruled by practicing Muslims, and this is the reason why the Muslim Brotherhood has unleashed these Mid Eastern uprisings with the pretense of Democracy, in all the countries not living up to their expectations. But this topic really deserves its own post.
So there you have it. The extremely abbreviated "Cliff Notes" version of the TRUTH about the Arab - Israeli Peace Process. A peace that will NEVER happen.