August 14, 2011
Palestinian Statehood: Conquest disguised as LiberationBy Dean Malik
First they invaded; five Arab armies, from Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq all descended. Israel was a state newly formed of a small core of native Sabras from the first five Aliyas along with the battered survivors of the Holocaust and a small cadre of American and British WWII veteran volunteers. After two years of desperate fighting and a cumulative loss to Israel of over one and a half percent of its population, the conflicted ended in a stalemate, with Israel holding a swath of land measuring 9 miles in width at its narrowest, and 71 miles at its broadest, extending 263 miles from the Lebanon border in the north through the Negev Desert in the south.
Three more wars followed in 1956, 1967 and 1973, then an airline hijacking campaign, multiple hostage seizures, civilian bus and car ambushes in the 1970s and 1980s, dozens of suicide bombings in the 1980s and 1990s, and a barrage of over eight thousand short and medium range rockets right up to the present.
This September, what the Arab world could not win in war, and would not accept in peace, it will ask the United Nations to give to it through a non-binding resolution, proving in a surreal twist on Von Clauswitz, that politics is in fact the continuation of war by other means.
Initially, the dynamic between Israel and the Arabs was straightforward. The land between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea -- geographic "Palestine" -- had been under Muslim sovereignty since the fall of the Crusader Kingdoms in the 13th century; it was Muslim land, and the Arab world fought to get it back. The invading countries clearly had designs upon the disputed territory, with Jordan and Egypt actualizing their goals by annexing the West Bank and the Gaza strip, respectively.
But in the post-WWII era, the West underwent a seismic shift in political philosophy. Western Europe began shedding its colonies and adopted a left-wing, socialist outlook. The normal inclination for nations to expand -- the very instinct that prompted the creation of the Muslim World -- was labeled "imperialism." a morally reprobate remnant of a bygone era.
As the West struggled to come to terms with its post-colonial guilt, the irredentist goal of eliminating Israel and recapturing the Levantine territory took on a new form. The objective was thus re-invented as a "struggle for liberation" and as "resistance to occupation." The achievement of Palestinian statehood is looked upon as the first critical victory in this ongoing revanchist war.
While the West has fully accepted the Palestinians-as-victims narrative, the way that the Muslim World internalizes the conflict continues to be the opposite.
The world of Islam has no affinity for the concepts of self-determination or individual rights as understood in the West and enshrined within the writ of "international law." Calls for Kurdish independence, implicating a homeland that straddles Turkey, Syria and Iran, are not supported by the Muslim world. The movements for Berber ("Amazigh") independence in Algeria and other North African Nations have been put down with ruthless efficiency, and much bloodshed, also without a word of protest from the world's Islamic nations. Baloch insurgencies in Iran and Pakistan similarly receive no support across the Muslim world.
Accordingly, with regard to Palestine, the message broadcast and to and heard by the Muslim world is devoid of western legalisms, and remains firmly ensconced within the rhetoric of conquest and adding to the greater glory of Islam.
The Arabic phrase "Ummah" means generally, "the community of believers" -- i.e., the Muslim world. Concomitant with this concept is the notion that among believers there is no distinction, and the Muslim world is, and should be, unified. This aspiration is expressed within the foundational principles of a trans-national ideology known as the "Khilafah Movement", which seeks restoration of a global "Caliphate", and is the true motivating force behind Palestinian nationalism, and the Muslim world's preoccupation with Israel.
In the West liberal supporters of the Palestinian cause go to great lengths to devise uniquely western criticisms of Israel's actions, holding the nation to the highest level of scrutiny under international law. These supporters, including groups such as the "International Solidarity Movement" ("ISM"), oblivious to the cognitive dissonance between their pious sentiments and the true geopolitical motivation of Palestinian nationalism, bemoan the "oppressed" status of the Palestinians. Yet passion to end to oppression, itself, is not the fuel that feeds Palestinian nationalism in the Muslim world; rather it is a passion to restore lost glory, and to re-conquer formerly Muslim dominions, for the sake of honor, that drives the fight.
The moral and factual inconsistency is profound. A comparison between statements made by western advocates and those emanating from the Muslim world, from an Islamic perspective, leaves no room for doubt:
The existence of these two parallel and conflicting streams of rhetoric, one messianic, militant and oriented towards conquest, and the other styled as a simple quest for cultural survival resonating with victimhood, sustains Palestinian nationalism in the Muslim world and in the West simultaneously.
Samuel Huntington, in his 1996 work, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, argued that the Islamic world and the West are on an inevitable collision course due to the conflicting and irreconcilable value systems that they each hold. To maintain the western basis of support for Palestinian nationalism, advocates in the West must convince themselves that the aggressive language and tactics employed by the Muslim world, as discussed by Huntington, are simply a combination of valid and easily mollified historical grievances and mere theatrics.
But this attempt to explain away the dissonance is unsupportable; believers in Islamic nationalism are clearly at odds with western apologists, and are unambiguous in their conviction that Huntington is, in fact, correct:
What so many in the West do not understand, and what the Muslim world collectively knows all too well, is this: Palestinian nationalism will never be a spent force until the ultimate goal of elimination of Israel is achieved.
Given this reality, it is hard to understand how the addition of a territory roughly the size of the State of New Jersey, to a Muslim world extending from the Maghreb in North Africa to the islands of Indonesia and comprising a geography over two and a half times the size of the United States can be anything other than conquest. It is equally difficult to see how ceding any territory whatsoever by Israel is either morally required or in the best interest of the nation and its future generations.
But the memory of past Islamic glory is enduring, and the desire and willingness to fight to the death in a perpetual war of attrition for its restoration is far from being quenched.
If Israel and its supporters desire the Jewish state's survival, they best prepare to hold their ground, and fight with courage and conviction and endure great sacrifice for a very, very long time.
Dean Malik lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
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