In my post, Blindsided: 9/11 Was the Rule, Not the Exception, I explained how 9/11 woke up America to the reality of Islamic fanaticism. Because of ignorance to Islam’s history and grievance culture, its violent nature blindsided us.
Today, that same naivety is playing out before a looming armed conflict between Israel and Iran. Ignorance is especially strong among the professional punditry, who aim to shape U.S. public opinion.
Since its covert nuclear program was exposed in 2002, Iran has danced around the international community, always professing its peaceful intentions. But many observers have suspected otherwise.
Threats against Israel made by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, such as his statement that Israel must be “wiped off the map,” fueled that suspicion. Ahmadinejad saw Israel’s existence as an affront to Islamic dignity. “Anybody who recognizes Israel will burn in the fire of the Islamic nation's fury,” he has said.
Last November, the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued a report removing any doubt about Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The report detailed Iran’s nuclear-related detonator and explosives development, and its experiments involving the missile delivery of nuclear payloads. President Obama’s press secretary, Jay Carney, said the report showed the “hollowness of Iran’s claims.”
Could Israel possibly view Iran’s nuclear program as anything but an existential threat to its survival? Not likely.
And yet, if it decides to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, many Muslims and non-Muslim Westerners alike will accuse Israel of being aggressors.
Political voices in the West, and some even in Israel, urge caution. They hope further diplomatic efforts and sanctions, although ineffective so far, will suddenly cause Iran to abandon its plan.
But for Iran to permanently back down would require it to permanently accept what it views as the “humiliation” of Islam.
In my new book, Blindsided: The Radical Islamic Conquest, I explain the mindset of Islamic radicalism and its aim to overcome Islamic grievances through conquest.
As it relates to Israel, I write: “Israel is a tiny island of a mere 8,500 square miles in a vast Islamic sea. Such a tiny nation could hardly threaten the Muslim world, with its vast oil wealth. Little Israel should go completely unnoticed by the great Arab world—yet the exact opposite is the case. Israel, to the Muslim, is the fly in the soup, which cannot be ignored.
“Today’s Islamic zealots have sworn that there can be no peace or coexistence with Israel. The Islamists view Israel as a constant reminder of the Islam’s humiliation. As long as Israel exists, there will never be peace.”
A few weeks after 9/11, al-Qaida spokesman Suliman Abu Geith said, “We have a fair and just case. The Islamic nation more than 80 years has been suffering.”
“Eighty years” refers back to the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire, which gave England and France control over large portions of the Middle East. It also eventually led to the creation of the Israeli state.
According to historian James S. Robbins, “The Ottomans had ruled the region for 600 years or so, and brought varying degrees of political harmony under the Sultanate and religious unity under the Caliphate. The 1920 treaty did away with the political order. ... In bin Laden's universe, that was when everything started to go wrong.”
Although Jews had lived in Palestine for a long time (in 1914, some 85,000 Jews lived, alongside some 6,000 Arabs), the eventual presence of a Jewish state was more than many Muslims could stomach. Muslim nations invaded Israel three times during the next 25 years (each successfully repelled by Israel).
In Blindsided, I write: “Many Arab Muslims believe to this day that the Christian West planted Israel in their midst as a means to exert control over the Middle East.
“They see the existence of Israel as a new manifestation of the ancient Crusade against Islam. … The thought that “the House of War”—the Muslim designation for the non-Muslim world—should occupy a land that once belonged to the House of Islam is no small matter to the people of the Middle East.
“It strikes at the very heart of Islamic ideology—and Arab pride. That’s why Muslims will not rest until the Jews either leave Palestine, accept Muslim rule or are eliminated.
Can Israel ever know peace in our lifetimes? It’s been said that if Muslim nations were to abandon their arms, there would be peace. But not if Israel abandoned theirs. In that case, Israel would be thrown into the sea.
The idea of armed conflict between Israel and Iran is a terrifying prospect. It could easily engulf the U.S. and other countries.
But if we desire true peace, we must not be ignorant of the Muslim world’s determination to destroy Israel.
Michael Youssef's expertise on the Islamic culture and the Middle East in today's post-modern world is actively sought by hundreds of thousands of followers around the globe. With a Ph.D. from Emory University in social anthropology, his Egyptian heritage gives him particular insight into the cultural and religious entanglements of international affairs. It is estimated that over 10 million viewers/listeners around the world are tuned in every week through an international Christian media ministry founded by Youssef, www.leadingtheway.org. It broadcasts via radio and television to more than 200 countries and in more than 20 languages. Follow Youssef, a common sense intellectual and renowned author of 24 books, on twitter @michaelayoussef and through his news blog, www.michaelyoussef.com.
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