Iran's Final Solution for Israel
Andrew G. Bostom is the author of such seminal works as The Legacy Of Jihad: Islamic Holy War And The Fate Of Non-Muslims and Sharia Versus Freedom: The Legacy of Islamic Totalitarianism. In March 2014 he published his latest book, Iran's Final Solution for Israel: The Legacy of Jihad and Shi'ite Islamic Jew-Hatred in Iran.
Bostom worries about what he terms the Trusting Khomeini Syndrome. Just days after the Islamic leader Ayatollah Khomeini seized power in Iran in 1979, Richard Falk, an International Law Professor at Princeton University, reassured the world in a New York Times op-ed entitled “Trusting Khomeini” that “the depiction of him as fanatical, reactionary and the bearer of crude prejudices seems certainly and happily false.”
Richard Falk was very wrong back then. Khomeini and his hard-line mullahs succeeded in deceiving quite a few Iranians and even more naïve Western observers about their true intentions. Have Western leaders and policy makers learned anything in the decades that have passed since then? Bostom fears that this is not the case.
Khomeini faced a weak US President back in the late 1970s in Jimmy Carter. His successors face an equally weak US President in Barack Hussein Obama today, plus many appeasing European powers, too. The difference is that this time, the Islamic regime in Iran has a substantial nuclear program as well. Bostom doesn’t criticize merely the Obama Administration, but also the Bush Administration, for failing to deal properly with the Iranian threat. The mullahs of Iran arguably constitute a greater threat than the cruel but largely secular dictator Saddam Hussein in Iraq ever did.
Andrew Bostom laments the fact that even allegedly conservative observers in the West hailed Grand Ayatollah Hussein-Ali Montazeri as a supposed “moderate” when he died in December 2009. This despite the fact that Montazeri in his writings maintained a perfectly traditional view of offensive Jihad as an open-ended obligation on Muslims to establish global Islamic supremacy. Montazeri further held traditional sharia-based views on the inferiority and subjugation of non-Muslims (dhimmis), as well as on the obligation to kill blasphemers.
Generally speaking, the Koran and other Islamic texts encourage hatred of non-Muslims (infidels) worldwide. However, Jews seem to be singled out for even more hatred than do other non-Muslims.
Bostom clearly shows in this book and in his previous works that Islamic culture has never been "tolerant" in any meaningful sense of the word. This is a modern myth. Constant humiliations and occasional outbursts of deadly violence against non-Muslims have been a continuous feature of Islamic life for centuries, encouraged by Islamic religious scriptures. This is not a recent phenomenon, and it goes for both major branches of Islam.
There are theological differences between Shias and Sunnis, but while these matter to Muslims themselves, they are of secondary importance to non-Muslims. Both Shia Islam and Sunni Islam encourage Jihad expansion, doctrines of Islamic supremacy and violent hatred of non-Muslims. As Bostom states on page 28 of Iran's Final Solution for Israel:
“Sharia supremacism—in its Twelver Shiite guise—was the fervent motivation for the Shiite theocracy established.00.0 by Iran‘s first Safavid Shah Ismail I, at the outset of the 16th century. This belief system—which was always redolent with Islamic Jew-hatred in Safavid Iran, and across a 500-year continuum, ever since remains the guiding ideology in the Khomeini revival (and post-Khomeini) era, at present. Intentionally obfuscating apologetics, aside, Sharia, Islamic law, whether Sunni or Shiite, is not merely holistic, in the general sense of all-encompassing, but totalitarian, regulating everything from the ritual aspects of religion, to personal hygiene, to the governance of a Muslim minority community, Islamic state, bloc of states, or global Islamic order. Clearly, this latter political aspect is the most troubling, being an ancient antecedent of more familiar modern totalitarian systems. Specifically, Sharia‘s liberty-crushing and dehumanizing political aspects feature: openended jihadism to subjugate the world to a totalitarian Islamic order; rejection of bedrock Western liberties—including freedom of conscience and speech—enforced by imprisonment, beating, or death; discriminatory relegation of non-Muslims to outcast, vulnerable pariahs, and even Muslim women to subservient chattel; and barbaric punishments which violate human dignity, such as amputation for theft, stoning for adultery, and lashing for alcohol consumption.”
Moreover, during interactions with non-Muslims, Shiites add strict doctrinal adherence to the odious concept of najis. This entails the physical as well spiritual impurity of infidels, which results in a series of dehumanizing practices directed toward non-Muslims.
In Bostom's view, Iran’s revolution in 1978-1979 simply returned Iranian society to its longstanding status as a Shiite theocracy. This followed a relatively brief flirtation with Westernization and secularization under the rule of the shahs of the Pahlavi dynasty, from 1925 to 1979. Already during the reign of the first Safavid Shah, Ismail I (1502-1524), European visitors to Persia commented on the harsh treatment of non-Muslims in the region. That very much included Jews, despite recently promoted myths that Jews enjoyed "tolerance" in Islamic-ruled societies.
The Iranian Revolution in 1979 was soon hijacked by Islamic forces. Modern Shiite clerics emphasize the traditional notion of the ritual uncleanliness (najis) of Jews in particular, but also that of Christians, Zoroastrians and others, as the cornerstone of inter-confessional relationships toward non-Muslims. Bostom, page 153:
“The conception of najis or ritual uncleanliness of the non-Muslim has also been reaffirmed. Ayatollah Khomeini stated explicitly, -Non-Muslims of any religion or creed are najis. Khomeini elaborated his views on najis and non-Muslims, with a specific reference to Jews, as follows: ‘Eleven things are unclean: urine, excrement, sperm, blood, a dog, a pig, bones, a non-Muslim man and woman [emphasis added], wine, beer, perspiration of a camel that eats filth…The whole body of a non-Muslim is unclean, even his hair, his nails, and all the secretions of his body…A child below the age of puberty is unclean if his parents and grandparents are not Muslims; but if he has a Muslim for a forebear, then he is clean…The body, saliva, nasal secretions, and perspiration of a non-Muslim man or woman who converts to Islam automatically become pure. As for the garments, if they were in contact with the sweat of the body before conversion, they will remain unclean.’”
The dissident writer Amir Taheri was born in Iran. Although he currently lives in Western exile, he understands a lot more of the local mentality than many Western observers do. Less than a month after it was hailed as “a great diplomatic coup,” the so-called Geneva accord to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions seemed to have come unstuck. The official narrative in Tehran is that Iran signed nothing. “There is no treaty and no pact,” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham, “only a statement of intent.”
Amir Taheri warns that since the mullahs seized power in 1979, "Khomeinist diplomacy has never aimed at reaching agreement with anyone. Instead, the regime regards negotiations as just another weapon in the jihad (holy struggle) for ensuring the triumph of 'true Islam' across the globe. The regime can’t conceive of give-and-take and compromise even with Muslim nations, let alone a bunch of 'Infidel' powers. If unable to impose its will on others, the regime will try to buy time through endless negotiations."
The Western-led economic sanctions over its nuclear program had hit Iran quite hard. Yet after talks in 2013, sanctions are now being gradually lifted. This has resulted in an immediate improvement in the economic strength of the Islamic regime in Iran, in return for little other than gestures and empty words. Seen from the perspective of the Iranian mullahs, they negotiated from a position of weakness and won against Western fools.
One of the major problems in such contexts is that many Western policy makers do not properly understand Islamic history or mentality. According to traditional Islamic history, the Treaty of Hudaybiyya was an agreement between Mohammad and his early Muslim followers in Medina, and the pre-Islamic pagan Quraysh tribe of Mecca. This is alleged to have taken place in the year 628 of our era. It affirmed a 10-year truce, a "hudna" or period of temporary calm. However, this truce was broken as soon as the Muslims felt that they were in a stronger position vis-à-vis to their non-Muslim neighbors. A true and lasting peace with non-Muslims is impossible, according to traditional Islamic law. In the end, Islam can and should be triumphant.
It is important to recall that the Sunna or personal example of Islam's founder Mohammed and his early followers is supposed to be valid for all times and all places. The Treaty of Hudaybiyya is therefore not merely of historical interest; it remains crucial for understanding how devout Muslims relate to non-Muslims today.
Jihad is eternal. It entails a conflict that will never end, until the supremacy of Islam, Islamic rule and sharia laws have been established worldwide. Any agreement with non-Muslims is viewed as a hudna, similar to the Treaty of Hudaybiyya which Mohammed himself made with his non-Muslim opponents. Such a truce exists only so that Muslims can grow in strength and regain the upper hand. As soon as they feel they have the advantage, Muslims are encouraged to go on the offensive against the infidels again.
Bostom, page 44:
“In fact the consensus view of orthodox Islamic jurisprudence regarding jihad, since its formulation during the 8th and 9th centuries, through the current era, is that non-Muslims peacefully going about their lives—from the Khaybar farmers whom Muhammad ordered attacked in 628, to those sitting in the World Trade Center on 9/11/01—are ―muba‘a, licit, in the Dar al Harb. As described by the great 20th century scholar of Islamic Law, Joseph Schacht, ‘A non-Muslim who is not protected by a treaty is called harbi, ―‘in a state of war’, ―‘enemy alien’; his life and property are completely unprotected by law…’ And these innocent non-combatants can be killed, and have always been killed, with impunity simply by virtue of being ‘harbis’ during endless razzias and or full scale jihad campaigns that have occurred continuously since the time of Muhammad, through the present. This is the crux of the specific institutionalized religio-political ideology, i.e., jihad, which makes Islamdom’s borders (and the further reaches of today’s jihadists) bloody, to paraphrase Samuel Huntington, across the globe.”
The traditional hadith literature of Sunni Muslims confirm Mohammad’s tactical formulation when waging Jihad: "War is deceit." (Hadith Bukhari 4:269). In addition to this, we encounter the Islamic doctrines of taqiyya and kitman (concealment and disguise). In combination, this allows for Muslims to lie and cheat to others, if this can be used to further Islam’s cause. Such tactics are employed by Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims alike.
Andrew Bostom writes dense academic works. If you are looking for a "Sharia for Dummies" type of book, he is not the right choice. He does not write for dummies. However, his books are always extremely well documented.
Bostom highlights many texts and examples, also notes from personal letters that are not well known, even to those who are somewhat knowledgeable in the field. He has done an excellent job over the past decade highlighting the continuity between Islamic religious texts and Muslim behavior in everyday life, as well as the continuity between what Islamic scholars wrote a thousand years ago and what Islamic scholars write today. Upholding the illusion that "radical Islam" is a recent invention and that there is a substantial difference between Islam and so-called "Islamism" becomes very difficult after reading Andrew Bostom's carefully researched works.
Based on explicit statements by senior Iranian officials and military leaders, there is every reason to believe that there are powerful forces within Iran that desire the complete annihilation of the Jewish state of Israel. Bostom makes it quite clear in his book that Islamic religious Jew-hatred partially fuels this genocidal desire.
However, a fanatical Islamic regime in Iran armed with nuclear weapons should worry nations and peoples other than the Israelis. Israel may be at the front lines of this struggle, but it’s far from the only line of battle. Already today, Europeans leaders tend towards appeasement when dealing with Muslims. How will they behave towards a nuclear armed Iran? Moreover, now that the Shiites of Iran have a nuclear program, major regional Sunni powers such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt are toying with the idea of creating nuclear programs of their own. How will it affect the Western world, Russia and global security if there is a nuclear arms race at the very doorsteps of Europe?
Western leaders need to face up to this question, and soon.
Fjordman is the pen name of a Norwegian writer who publishes essays at various websites, including Gates of Vienna.