Robert Spencer on Israel's Struggle for Survival

Robert Spencer recently published The Palestinian Delusion, which depicts the modern struggle between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs (and the Arab world).  This incredibly well researched and readable volume reveals the lack of historical truth in the Arab narrative.  It also depicts the weakness of American presidents from Jimmy Carter through Barack Obama, the inherent contradictions and deceptions of all proposed "two-state solutions," and the importance of the Qur'anic notion of jihad that is driving Arab politics.  The book is a tour de force of historical knowledge, of understanding of modern negotiations, and of the failure of American leadership to appreciate the importance of Qur'anic theology in the Arab mindset. 

Of all the presidents since Carter, Spencer is most pleased with Pres. Donald Trump.  He considers Trump's policies to be reflective of diplomatic wisdom insofar as he has stopped funding being used by the PLO to support jihadists' families; he has shut down the PLO mission in Washington, D.C.; he has called for an end to the PLO extolling of terrorists as martyrs; and he has moved our embassy to Jerusalem. 

While the right to erect our embassy in Jerusalem was authorized by Congress in 1995, the legislation gave the president authority to waive the move, which was done by presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama.  Perhaps these presidents thought they were being even-handed, or perhaps they feared a tremendous backlash from the Middle Eastern Islamic world.  But Spencer rightly points out that this "restraint" is perceived as weakness by the Arabs, not as a "righteous balance."  The Arab theme is that of victimology.  Arabs falsely claim that Israel has victimized them in many ways.  Thus, actions siding with Israel are promoted by the Arabs as though the U.S. is adding to their victimization.  We are "fair" only when we are fair on their terms.

Spencer tells us that the Bush peace plan did include some harsh criticism of Arab terrorism against Israel.  Yet while Bush did not turn words into action, Spencer tells us that Bush's plan stated that "a Palestinian state will never be created by terror — it will be built through reform.  And reform must be more than cosmetic change, or a veiled attempt to preserve the status quo"  (p. 171).  However, unlike Pres. Trump, Bush  did not go so far as to suggest "that there could be no Palestinian state until jihad terrorism against Israel was completely ended; Bush was signaling that he would be satisfied with gestures and half measures, as long as he was satisfied that progress was being made."

Bush's stern reprimand of Arab terrorism reminds this writer, who spent many years teaching in some of the roughest secondary school environments in New York City, of many weak deans who reprimanded criminal students that they had to shape up yet gave those students only in-house, one-week suspensions for offenses worthy of jail time.  The deans knew full well that the most misbehaved students would keep committing worse and worse acts until finally they did something so egregious that they would be arrested and disappear into the Rikers Island jail for an extended time.  More serious punishments to negatively reinforce against bad behavior and prevent worse acts of theft, assault, or destruction of property were deemed not worth the effort.

Thus, for Spencer, Pres. Trump has taken some giant steps in the right direction, but whatever happens, the underlying ideology of the Arabs — which is their true motive for opposing Israel — will remain.  First, they have complete contempt for Jews based on Qur'anic verses that say, "Allah transforms disobedient Jews into apes and pigs" (Qur'an 2:63–66, 5:59–60, 7:166) and the Jews "strive to do mischief on Earth" (Qur'an 5:33).  He lists a whole range of faults of the Jews that are described in the Islamic holiest book, the Qur'an.  Spencer summarizes the negative depiction of the Jews in the Qur'an by stating, "The Qur'an demonizes Jews in all manner of ways, and envisions their living in subservience and submission to the Muslims, not governing their own state.  In light of these teachings, the Jewish state of Israel constitutes a perpetual affront to Muslims and Islam on Qur'anic grounds" (p. 39).

Second, the most important stumbling block to any lasting peace between Israel and the Arab world, especially the Arabs led by the PLO and Hamas, is based on Qur'an 2:191, which states, "[D]rive them out from where they drove you out."  He writes, "Rule of Muslims by infidels, especially by those whose enmity towards the Muslims is strongest (Qur'an 5:82) is unacceptable under any circumstances and can never be tolerated" (p. 41).  The fundamental principle of driving out those who drove you out is the motivation behind the Islamic jihad against Israel.  Expedience over the past 100 years sometimes has led the Arabs to seem to back away from their militancy, but the militancy is their true and only motive. 

At the beginning of this century, Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat 92% of the West Bank and East Jerusalem as a capital, but Arafat would not accept even this incredibly generous offer.  This writer watched Pres. Clinton's chief Mideast negotiator, the brilliant Dennis B. Ross, being interviewed by Charlie Rose and saying that the night before the agreement was to have been signed between Arafat and Barak, the PLO called him and said that "they 'only' had 39 articles they wished to change."  At that point, Mr. Ross understood that the negotiations were over, and he reported on this to our outraged Pres. Clinton.   

For the Arabs, the principle of "drive them out from where they drove you out" is absolute, and all other negotiations are just biding time or trying to appear balanced and normal.  In short, Arab negotiation is inherently a manipulation, never sincere.

Yet, despite its strengths, the volume does not detail a breakthrough, but ends on a note that was disappointing to this writer.  Spencer calls for greater realism when dealing with Hamas and Fatah.  Because of the Arab jihadist commitment, Spencer believes that Israel will have to accept being even more of a pariah than it has been.  He also believes that Israel must continue to stress that there is no such thing as a Palestinian Arab identity; rather, the so-called Palestinian Arab identity is not at all different from the Arabs living in Syria, Jordan, or Lebanon.  Further, Israel should state unapologetically its right to what are now called the "Palestinian territories" (sic).  He calls this posture "sober realism" and "standing firm."

For those like myself, the real hope for Israel and for a world that seems to be perennially blackmailed and/or intimidated by Arab and Muslim aggression and intransigence in the Middle East and elsewhere is one other option not presented by Mr. Spencer's brilliant survey and analysis.  Revealed religion as presented in the New Testament reminds us that we live in a world under judgment.  There is a providential destiny to all of history.  At a date and time that no human knows, Almighty God, the King of the Universe, will descend to Mt. Megiddo ("Armageddon") in Israel to win a decisive battle against our ultimate enemies: the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet (Rev. 15:13–16).

Robert Spencer recently published The Palestinian Delusion, which depicts the modern struggle between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs (and the Arab world).  This incredibly well researched and readable volume reveals the lack of historical truth in the Arab narrative.  It also depicts the weakness of American presidents from Jimmy Carter through Barack Obama, the inherent contradictions and deceptions of all proposed "two-state solutions," and the importance of the Qur'anic notion of jihad that is driving Arab politics.  The book is a tour de force of historical knowledge, of understanding of modern negotiations, and of the failure of American leadership to appreciate the importance of Qur'anic theology in the Arab mindset. 

Of all the presidents since Carter, Spencer is most pleased with Pres. Donald Trump.  He considers Trump's policies to be reflective of diplomatic wisdom insofar as he has stopped funding being used by the PLO to support jihadists' families; he has shut down the PLO mission in Washington, D.C.; he has called for an end to the PLO extolling of terrorists as martyrs; and he has moved our embassy to Jerusalem. 

While the right to erect our embassy in Jerusalem was authorized by Congress in 1995, the legislation gave the president authority to waive the move, which was done by presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama.  Perhaps these presidents thought they were being even-handed, or perhaps they feared a tremendous backlash from the Middle Eastern Islamic world.  But Spencer rightly points out that this "restraint" is perceived as weakness by the Arabs, not as a "righteous balance."  The Arab theme is that of victimology.  Arabs falsely claim that Israel has victimized them in many ways.  Thus, actions siding with Israel are promoted by the Arabs as though the U.S. is adding to their victimization.  We are "fair" only when we are fair on their terms.

Spencer tells us that the Bush peace plan did include some harsh criticism of Arab terrorism against Israel.  Yet while Bush did not turn words into action, Spencer tells us that Bush's plan stated that "a Palestinian state will never be created by terror — it will be built through reform.  And reform must be more than cosmetic change, or a veiled attempt to preserve the status quo"  (p. 171).  However, unlike Pres. Trump, Bush  did not go so far as to suggest "that there could be no Palestinian state until jihad terrorism against Israel was completely ended; Bush was signaling that he would be satisfied with gestures and half measures, as long as he was satisfied that progress was being made."

Bush's stern reprimand of Arab terrorism reminds this writer, who spent many years teaching in some of the roughest secondary school environments in New York City, of many weak deans who reprimanded criminal students that they had to shape up yet gave those students only in-house, one-week suspensions for offenses worthy of jail time.  The deans knew full well that the most misbehaved students would keep committing worse and worse acts until finally they did something so egregious that they would be arrested and disappear into the Rikers Island jail for an extended time.  More serious punishments to negatively reinforce against bad behavior and prevent worse acts of theft, assault, or destruction of property were deemed not worth the effort.

Thus, for Spencer, Pres. Trump has taken some giant steps in the right direction, but whatever happens, the underlying ideology of the Arabs — which is their true motive for opposing Israel — will remain.  First, they have complete contempt for Jews based on Qur'anic verses that say, "Allah transforms disobedient Jews into apes and pigs" (Qur'an 2:63–66, 5:59–60, 7:166) and the Jews "strive to do mischief on Earth" (Qur'an 5:33).  He lists a whole range of faults of the Jews that are described in the Islamic holiest book, the Qur'an.  Spencer summarizes the negative depiction of the Jews in the Qur'an by stating, "The Qur'an demonizes Jews in all manner of ways, and envisions their living in subservience and submission to the Muslims, not governing their own state.  In light of these teachings, the Jewish state of Israel constitutes a perpetual affront to Muslims and Islam on Qur'anic grounds" (p. 39).

Second, the most important stumbling block to any lasting peace between Israel and the Arab world, especially the Arabs led by the PLO and Hamas, is based on Qur'an 2:191, which states, "[D]rive them out from where they drove you out."  He writes, "Rule of Muslims by infidels, especially by those whose enmity towards the Muslims is strongest (Qur'an 5:82) is unacceptable under any circumstances and can never be tolerated" (p. 41).  The fundamental principle of driving out those who drove you out is the motivation behind the Islamic jihad against Israel.  Expedience over the past 100 years sometimes has led the Arabs to seem to back away from their militancy, but the militancy is their true and only motive. 

At the beginning of this century, Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat 92% of the West Bank and East Jerusalem as a capital, but Arafat would not accept even this incredibly generous offer.  This writer watched Pres. Clinton's chief Mideast negotiator, the brilliant Dennis B. Ross, being interviewed by Charlie Rose and saying that the night before the agreement was to have been signed between Arafat and Barak, the PLO called him and said that "they 'only' had 39 articles they wished to change."  At that point, Mr. Ross understood that the negotiations were over, and he reported on this to our outraged Pres. Clinton.   

For the Arabs, the principle of "drive them out from where they drove you out" is absolute, and all other negotiations are just biding time or trying to appear balanced and normal.  In short, Arab negotiation is inherently a manipulation, never sincere.

Yet, despite its strengths, the volume does not detail a breakthrough, but ends on a note that was disappointing to this writer.  Spencer calls for greater realism when dealing with Hamas and Fatah.  Because of the Arab jihadist commitment, Spencer believes that Israel will have to accept being even more of a pariah than it has been.  He also believes that Israel must continue to stress that there is no such thing as a Palestinian Arab identity; rather, the so-called Palestinian Arab identity is not at all different from the Arabs living in Syria, Jordan, or Lebanon.  Further, Israel should state unapologetically its right to what are now called the "Palestinian territories" (sic).  He calls this posture "sober realism" and "standing firm."

For those like myself, the real hope for Israel and for a world that seems to be perennially blackmailed and/or intimidated by Arab and Muslim aggression and intransigence in the Middle East and elsewhere is one other option not presented by Mr. Spencer's brilliant survey and analysis.  Revealed religion as presented in the New Testament reminds us that we live in a world under judgment.  There is a providential destiny to all of history.  At a date and time that no human knows, Almighty God, the King of the Universe, will descend to Mt. Megiddo ("Armageddon") in Israel to win a decisive battle against our ultimate enemies: the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet (Rev. 15:13–16).