Someday we may have peace in the Middle East. In the future, and not necessarily in our generation. It may happen gradually so that no one really notices the swing of the pendulum or it may happen noticeably because of some event or series of events. Think of what a game-changer it was in 1979 when Anwar Sadat made his short plane ride from Cairo to Tel Aviv to openly recognize Israel. Given the previous years of animosities in the whole Arab world toward Israel, this was indeed an historical turning point.
However, there is a caveat. Will we get to such a turn of history before the destruction of the Israeli state? As abhorrent and as hard as that is to think about, we need to be realistic. The Holocaust should have made it crystal clear that Jews and Judaism are vulnerable even in a modern world.
Iran with nuclear weapons, even with only the mere threat of their use, would force the realignment of the system of allegiances and frames of action which could, if not outright destroy Israel, lead to her world-wide isolation and dismemberment. And if Israel were lucky enough to survive this, then she would have to live as a pariah state, an historically untenable situation in the long run.
Aside from the dangers to Israel present in the mere threat of nuclear annihilation, there is the actual use of such nuclear weapons. Most governments follow a rationalist path of thinking, but Iran, and its minions such as Hezbollah and Hamas, are different. Following the thoughts of the great Middle East scholars such as Bernard Lewis, it is entirely conceivable that Iran would actually use nuclear weapons against Israel without provocation from the Jewish state. Israel knows this and has stated that they cannot allow Iran to get them. In fact, they have vowed that Iran cannot be allowed to get them and if the US will not stop Iran, then Israel will have to stop Iran. This situation can lead to a most undesirable war.
Then there are the regional and religious ambitions of the Iranian theocratic state which motivates its ambition to dominate the Middle East and eventually the world. Iran does not conceive of an Israel in such a world, and only sees a future for the United States as an entity subordinate to Iranian religious and political domination. Like Hitler and the Nazis, it is an ideologically driven state with a megalomaniacal ambition and unwavering determination.
We would find a similar analysis is applicable to the promotion of Islamic Radicalism. Another Middle East scholar, Daniel Pipes, has written of the difference between what he calls soft jihad and hard jihad. Al Qaeda is hard jihad, but the Muslim Brotherhood is soft jihad. Both seek the creation of a world-wide caliphate and the imposition of Sharia Law as the governing law of each nation, but they differ in strategy and tactics, in how to get there.
Jews cannot live as a free people in such a state of affairs, and neither can Israel.
Soft jihad is a way of gradually introducing loyal and organized forces representing the radical Islamic agenda and ideology into the West. It seeks to avoid direct confrontation by introducing measures meant to seem innocuous and even in line with the Western way of life. It seeks to use the Western precepts such as diversity and freedom of religion to advance its goals. Under such Western precepts, for instance, it sought to build the mosque near Ground Zero, which was to be called the Cordoba Mosque, a reference to one of the earliest Muslim conquests in Europe. Could it therefore be a signal to Muslims, not understood by Westerners, of the capabilities of the Islamic radicals to fight and win against the West? In other words, it was supposed to induce a strengthening of Islamist jihad by demonstrating the weakness of the West to stop a mosque, even at Ground Zero, and the growing strength of the Uuma, the lands of Muslim rule and domination.
None of this would happen organically, by itself, except that the radicals are organized and dedicated to such a strategy and have the backing of large sections of even moderate Muslims, partly due to their fear of the radicals. Let me say this again: the Islamic radicals are organized into cadres and are deliberately infiltrating and undermining the West. So far the radicals have been going from victory to victory, all over the western world, even though we have had a few instances of victory ourselves, including the taking out of Osama Bin Laden.
I began this essay by positing the role of peace and war. There will be peace in the Middle East eventually if Israel can avoid her own destruction in the meantime, and I have laid out several important challenges in accomplishing this.
The US must be able to avoid internally coming under the domination of radical Islam and Israel must avoid being surrounded by Islamic radicalized states. Moreover, Israel and/or the USA must stop Iranian nuclear ambitions with or without the rest of the world and the West must finally see the war against Islamic radicalism as a war the West needs to prosecute and win by aggressively opposing it.
Just as in the period leading up to WW II there existed in the democracies a penchant to believe evils such as Hitler could be stopped without the need for military force or even the threat of the use of such force, so now there is a similar policy of appeasement of the Islamic radicals.
A hand out in deference to them will not appease the Islamists and will undermine the security of the West in general and Israel in particular. Osama Bin Laden used to say that people follow the strong horse. While the radical Islamists labor to make themselves to appear to be the strong horse, the West must make the radical Islamists appear as the weak horse and the West the strong horse. Killing Osama Bin Laden is a step in the right direction.
Just remember this: Sadat made his historic journey to Israel AFTER Egypt’s defeat by Israel in three major wars and many other skirmishes and when Israel had taken control of the whole of Egyptian Sinai for the second time.
Now that is what we should mean by land for peace.
If you must criticize Israel, Mary, can you please get your facts straight?
Bruce Ticker rightly questions the meaning of "Palestine" as presented by three individuals whose backgrounds do not lend themselves to Middle East expertise.