Academic journal article Jewish Political Studies Review

Supporters of Islamic Terrorism among the Israeli Arabs

Academic journal article Jewish Political Studies Review

Supporters of Islamic Terrorism among the Israeli Arabs

Article excerpt

Supporters of Islamic Terrorism among the Israeli Arabs Islamic Radicalism and Political Violence. The Templers of Islam and Sheikh Ra'id Salah, by Raphael Israeli, Vallentine Mitchell, 2008, 175 pp.

Reviewed by Moshe Yegar, Translated from Hebrew by Shammai S. Fishman

Professor Raphael Israeli is a well-known expert on Islamic matters. For decades, he has devoted himself to research on Islamic countries. A prolific scholar, he has published twenty-five books and over one hundred articles. Israeli's interests cover a wide variety of topics. They range from the Egypt of Anwar Sadat to the different kinds of Palestinian terrorist organizations, Islam in China and in Asia, and recently, the spread of Islam in Europe. His mastery of Arabic and Chinese, as well as his knowledge of the primary sources, ranging from the Quran and Hadith (tradition), has extended his academic reach.

Of his long list of publications, two examples confirm his reputation as a leading specialist in Islamic affairs. Noteworthy are his book Islam in China (2002) and the PLO in Lebanon. Selected Documents (1983), an anthology of PLO documents which fell into Israel's hands during the Lebanon war of 1982. In a pioneering effort, Israeli translated, edited and annotated these documents.

His studies on Islamic terrorism and, in particular, what is known as self-sacrifice (or terrorist suicide) prompted Israeli to coin the term "Islamikaze," a term for Muslim terrorists combining Islam and the Japanese kamikaze of the Second World War to designate these so-called suicide bombers. This is the weapon used in the Jihad against the West, Christianity, Israel, and even among warring Islamic factions. Israeli argues that the term reflects the common culture in the world of militant Islam. His book on the topic, Islamikaze: Manifestations of Islamic Martyrology, was published in London in 2003. Israeli is thus well-qualified to research another terrorist organization fighting Israel, Hamas, and one of the branches which grew out of Israeli Arab extremist circles, the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement headed by Sheikh Ra'id Salah, the topic of the book under review.

In 2004 Sheikh Ra'id Salah was arrested and charged with transferring money to Hamas. The Haifa District Attorney asked Israeli to draft an expert opinion on the Islamic Movement in Israel and Sheikh Ra'id Salah. Thus, he became deeply involved in the trial. He spent two years in trial proceedings, studied large numbers of documents, testified under oath and was cross-examined for several days by Ra'id Salah's lawyers. A major outcome of Israeli's public service was this important book, which presents an account of this trial and explains the recent changes which have occurred in the Islamic world. In particular, he shows that the problem of the intensification of Islamic fundamentalism and radicalism among the Arab-Islamic minority in Israel represents one manifestation of a larger process which is gradually spreading to many parts of the Muslim world and poses a danger to world peace, not only to Israel.

Islamic Radicalism and Political Violence has six chapters and a detailed glossary of terms which the reader is advised to consult prior to reading the book. Radical Islamic movements all over the world have theological-Islamic common denominators and similar historical origins. To place the issue of the Islamic Movement in Israel in a general Muslim context, Israeli devotes the first chapter of the book to an analysis of the key characteristics of Islam in our time. He explores the reasons for the Muslim world's deep feelings of inferiority toward the West, particularly the United States and Western Europe, and the roots of its hatred for the Jews and Israel. He pinpoints the psychology of eternal victimhood which is typical of Muslims and Arabs and describes Arab-Muslim anti-Semitism, which goes so far as to include Holocaust denial, accusations against Jews of poisoning Arab children and similar forms of libel in Arab and Islamic countries that may shock the reader. …

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