Islam is inherently radical. It needs to be isolated and contained while the rest of the world goes forward.
Much has been written about the division of the Middle East between the victors of the First World War, the colonial powers of Britain and France, who split between them the rich spoils left behind by the vanquished Ottoman Empire. Nearly as much was written on the rapid withdrawal by the same “powers” in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, only a quarter century later, after they themselves had been either utterly (France) or very nearly (Britain) defeated by Nazi Germany. What is less pondered, for reasons of political correctness no doubt, is the post-colonial period in the countries that were formed after Britain and France withdrew from the region: Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and yes, Israel. So what happened in the post-colonial period? What was the seminal event that was to define the futures of all the aforementioned countries from the day they gained independence from their colonial masters to this very day today? The answer is as unambiguous as it may be surprising to most people reading this article: it was the war that Israelis call the War of Independence and the Arabs the Nakba, the Catastrophe, the Holocaust.
The story of that war can be summed up in one sentence: all of the Arab countries mentioned in the previous paragraph, the entire Arab League, attacked the newly formed State of Israel (population six hundred thousand) and suffered a total rout, though not before six thousand Jews, a full 10% (!) of the new state’s population were killed in action. What could have precipitated such an inexplicable result? The answer is hiding in plain sight and it is still plaguing the Arab world today. The Jewish State was led by authentic leadership cadre on every level, from David Ben-Gurion the prime minister down to a sergeant in the newly formed Israel Defense Force. This leadership had 100% anti-colonial DNA; it was forged and tempered in a quarter century of struggle not only against the Arab population, but first and foremost the British colonial administration. It was truly a leadership from the people by the people, a leadership that enjoyed the unwavering support of the vast majority of the Jewish population of Israel. In contrast, the leadership of the Arab regular and irregular forces was a combination of two very different “animals”. Regular forces were trained and led by personnel who served the colonial powers, were trained by them, and were often engaged in operations against their own people while colonial rule was in force. Irregular forces were composed of tribal elements who often harbored centuries-old animosity towards each other. Unsurprisingly, neither was proved effective.
In short, Arab League countries attacking Israel were not really post-colonial at all; they were ruled by people who were put in place by the colonial powers after being trained by them and used by them to enforce their rule while they were still (ostensibly) running things. The typical Arab soldier had no trust in his leadership at any level and no loyalty to anything but his tribe members. Following the Arab defeat in the 1948 war, the colonial-trained puppet regimes were further discredited and many succumbed to coups d’etat. However, the leaders of these coups, like Egypt’s Gamal Abdel Nasser, were still the products of colonialism. All that happened was that senior colonial officers were replaced by a more junior and not yet discredited cadre. The 1948 defeat, the Nakba, was followed by the 1967 rout, now under the new and supposedly more dynamic and less colonial leadership, and the snatching of defeat from the jaws of victory by the Arabs in the nearly disastrous (for Israel) 1973 Yom Kippur war. The emerging picture was utterly bleak for the Arabs; even with newly found oil dominance and willingness to use it as a tool of blackmail against the West, even with the full support of a major superpower, the Soviet Union, the combined forces of the Arab world could not vanquish the insignificantly small Israel. In addition to the failure on the military front, the post-colonial Arab government failed to improve their economies; rates of illiteracy remained largely unchanged, academic institutions did not materialize, technological development was lacking, and spoils from oil sales were plundered by the ruling elites. It was clearly time for a more authentic leadership, a new cadre not tainted by colonial rule, not besmirched by Western decadence and filth. But where could this element be found? Only in the circles of radical Islam.
Lots of pictures are making the circles on social media today showing women in miniskirts on the streets of Cairo and Damascus and even Kabul and Tehran. But the truth is that these pictures provide as distorted an image of the Muslim world of the 1970’s as an alien photographer would have had had he landed in the heart of Amish country in Western Pennsylvania and sent back to his home planet photos of stern looking bearded men driving along in horse-pulled buggies as representative of the rest of America. Apart from a few main shopping areas in the capital cities, Arab and Muslim societies across the Middle East were highly traditional, tribal, and religious in a sense that we today would call fundamentalist. The authentic voice of the people of the Middle East from Afghanistan and Pakistan to Morocco and everywhere in between is the voice of Islam. It is a voice that rejects modernity, rejects equal rights for women and minorities, and supports Jihad in the literal sense of waging war against those, like the Israelis, who act against perceived Muslim interests. Majority Muslim nations with only a handful of minor exceptions in the mold of Albania and Brunei, have always been radical and fundamentalist. Western colonialism with its transplanted secularism was never a comfortable fit and was only tolerated if and as long as it could deliver on its promise of military prowess and economic success. Once it could do neither, it was doomed. Secularism was either discarded in favor of outright Islamic fundamentalism as in Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and now Turkey, or suppressed by force of arms in Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. The voice of the Arab street is as ugly as it has ever been. Democracy, as we have seen in the “Palestinian” territories and in Egypt, inevitably brings forth anti-democratic fundamentalist Islamic forces.
The existence in the middle of he Middle East of Israel, a country half populated by the descendants of Jews who for centuries lived among Muslims as second-rate citizens, a country that has no natural resources, but whose per capita GDP far exceeds that of the most oil-rich Arab country, a country that has won every major engagement with the forces of Islam, does not illuminate the way for the regular Muslim; it enrages him. It does not show the way to success, only to perdition. It is not to be emulated, it is to be destroyed. It leads not to moderation, only to radicalization. So is Israel to blame for Islamic radicalism? Perhaps. but only in so much as a person attempting to pet a rabid dog is to blame for being bitten. The dog’s disease is not of that person’s making; neither can he or she treat it and make it better. The only way to deal with it is eternal vigilance and robust self-defense while going on about your own business, the business of being normal, prosperous, and healthy. That has been Israel’s policy ever since the failure of the Oslo accords and the rest of the world should follow suit before many more lives and much more treasure is lost in the shifting sands of the House of Islam.