Islamic Mythmaking and the Arab-Israel Conflict

Article excerpt

One of the astounding success stories of Arab propaganda is the linking of the return of the Jewish people to their ancestral Palestinian homeland with the colonial imperialist conquest of the Western powers in Africa, Australasia, and the New World. The Arab narrative, which has been enthusiastically adopted by the liberal leftwing intelligentsia that dominates the media, is rooted in the cultural-religious heritage of the Arab and Muslim world. (1) It is inculcated from childhood in school, mosque, and home and gives rise to what might be termed a kind of historical amnesia. No more telling example of this is provided by an Egyptian minister's survey of the socalled colonial past of his country. He listed the colonial occupations suffered by the Egyptian nation as Hellenic, Roman, Byzantine, and British. It is quite inconceivable for most Muslims to imagine that they were ever colonial conquerors of indigenous populations whose culture, language, and religion they ruthlessly suppressed more thoroughly than any Western empire-builder. Naturally, like all conquerors, they absorbed in the process much of the cultural baggage of their subjects.

One has only to look at the plight of the Coptic minority in Egypt, and the Christians in Sudan and Indonesia. Christians have been emigrating to Western countries in increasing numbers from such historic but no longer predominantly Christian towns as Bethlehem and Nazareth owing to Muslim harassment. Indeed, Muslim intimidation, both real and imagined, is so complete that local representatives of these minorities are more often than not too terrified to publicize their plight. They prefer to publicly deny any discrimination--a typical syndrome of persecuted minorities in non-democratic countries.

Most Arab countries are judenrein, and religious, rather than ethnic, cleansing is a consummation devoutly to be wished in Muslim countries. Saudi Arabia is the model. The embryonic Palestinian state has adopted this policy and does not envisage allowing the historic synagogue in Gaza to reopen, nor the Jewish community to be revived around it. Nor are the quarter million Jewish residents of the Gaza Strip and West Bank to be allowed to remain. In contrast, the over one million Arab residents of Israel enjoy more democratic rights than Arabs in their own countries. They are represented in the Knesset and are allowed to agitate against discrimination, real or imagined, and express their anti-Israel views freely. No Jew would be allowed such freedom in any Muslim country. Even a moderate, Western-educated Muslim monarch such as the late king Hussein of Jordan had no compunction, after occupying Jerusalem in the 1948 war, about razing every Jewish synagogue in the Jewish quarter or desecrating the historic Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives. He similarly refused access to Jews to worship at their ancestral shrine, the Western Wall, despite his signature to an armistice agreement guaranteeing such access.

There is little doubt that the Islamic indoctrinated masses are sincerely unaware of the fact that there was ever a Jewish presence in Palestine and that their holy sites of the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosque were built on what was the Biblical Temple Mount. Unlike Christianity, Islam does not accept the religious veracity of the Hebrew Bible. Instead, it produced its own version of the Biblical narratives in the Qur'an, in which it nevertheless did accept the title of the Jewish people to Palestine as the land of Israel. Menachem Begin produced this verse when meeting Anwar Sadat. But modern Arab political realities have found it convenient to ignore the implications of this verse. No Muslim spokesman would publicize the fact that the Aqsa Mosque was originally a Byzantine church. Its new status as the third holiest Muslim site is a purely political ploy with no basis in Islamic theology. The Qur'an makes no mention of Jerusalem--as opposed to that city's central role in the Jewish and Christian Bibles, liturgy, and literature. …