Farewell Israel?

So suggests a new documentary out (saw advertised on Dennis Prager’s site). This is the trailer. Some sweet music.

Here’s the website. Click here for Q&A with Director/Producer/Writer, Joel Gilbert (BA from London School of Oriental and African Studies). In the vein I would say of Bernard Lewis.

Why should we say farewell to Israel–Gilbert answers:

Israel’s lack of understanding of Islam, its values and goals, have lead it to a policy of surrender of territory, based on the belief that it will achieve “Peace” in Western terms. In reality, “Western Peace” between Israel and Islam is unattainable. Peace can only be achieved in Islamic terms – “Peace with Justice” – which requires the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. Muslims have 1,400 years of experience and holy scriptures to refer to that deal with Jews. Because Judaism predates Islam, Jews have no such foundation in dealing with Muslims, hence the Israeli misunderstanding, and the Islamic advantage.

Now this line is actually quite sharp:

There is no such thing as “Radical Islam.” Islamism is not a war against the West, it is an internal struggle for the revival of Islamic society – a “revolt” against their failed secular governments. The attacks of 9/11 are completely misunderstood by the West. In fact, 9/11 was only a provocation by a small group of Islamists, hoping to use the West’s response to inspire the masses in Islam’s internal struggle. The 9/11 attacks were successful only because George Bush played into the hands of the Al-Qaeda by adopting Al-Qaeda’s agenda for government reform across the Middle East – helping to pave the way for Islamist parties to come to power.

That first sentence is precisely on target. Islamism is a modern (though it will appeal to ancient roots) phenomenon that has arisen in light of the failure of Arab socialism/secular nationalism. The West has been drug into this fight. The fight is not per se with the West–only it could be argued to the degree the West backs Arab dictators, refuses to recognize Iran/Hezbollah, and supports Israel. And of course the US now occupying Iraq.

I’m not sure what I think about George Bush playing into the hands of al-Qaeda by seeking reform in the Middle East. Does that mean Gilbert thinks the West should continue to support Arab dictatorial regimes–aren’t they the ones backing (though not pushing it too strongly) an overthrow of Israel?

It would be more accurate, given Gilbert’s correct analysis, to say that George Bush played into bin Laden’s scheme by invading an Islamic country in the heart of the Middle East. That would lead to the rage against the West, the uprising he wanted–though not to al-Qaeda Central by any stretch.

Gilbert also doesn’t acknowledge then that within this push for revival come other permutations of Islam and politics (e.g Turkey’s ruling party). There is a Reformation going on in the Islamic world–the Salafi revivalist (Sunni) and Mahdist Shia apocalypticism (Sadr and Ahmadeinjad) are only two varieties. Two varieties which US policy is doing everything it possibly can to strengthen (unintentionally).

All of a sudden everything revolves around Iran. Shady to my mind. Why does he just sneak al-Qaeda in at the end of the trailer and then back to Iran? They are different.

To the question what does he think Iran’s agenda in the Middle East is:

Iran is acquiring strategic weapons in order to shift the balance of power with Israel, which it believes will precipitate Israel’s destruction and Islam’s revival. Even without attacking Israel, the mere capability of Iranian missiles to lay waste to Tel-Aviv would create a “strategic umbrella,” preventing Israel from using its superior strategic assets in a conventional war. With Israeli missiles neutralized, Muslim countries could overwhelm Israel with their superior numbers, conventional armor and short range missiles.

Huh? Never heard this one before. No analysis from Gilbert at least in the Q&A of why Iran, as we now know, offered to cut off aid to Hamas and Hezbollah, recognize Israel in exchange for normalization of relations with the United States after 9/11? Part of their diplomatic cover to jihad? I think not.

Nor a possible Israeli-Sunni alliance against the Iranians. Why it would have been helpful to peel Syria off from Iran when that chance was available.

I think Gilbert is right, a war is coming. A war that will weaken Israel I worry. But not one that was inevitable given the so-called Islamic mindframe.

It is fair to say that Islam, on the whole, has not come to grips with the modern world. The modern world represented colonialism and humiliation. It represents currently occupation of Iraq, dictatorship in Pakistan. And what message does the US send to Turkey (a NATO ALLY) by not helping root out actual terrorists (as named by the State Department), the PKK? Not to mention Europe giving them the cold shoulder on EU membership to date. What message is sent by way to the Islamic world that a path is opened for them to actually join the modern world?

If there is no Islamic way to modernity (and not imposed or even aided by the West, just let some space open up and give people choice within bounds), then Islam becomes identified more and more with resistance, historical grievance, and ethnocentrism.

This set of policies is a strong part of what is undermining Israel. That and a multi-culturalist anti-Israeli turn in certain quarters. And Israel continuing to illegally occupy (and brutally so) Palestine?

On all sides, ignorant actors.

The fight was always against Salafi Sunni revivalism of a trans-national nature. Now it is a no end in sight occupation, near total bankrupting of the Gaza (the Israelis are now shutting off electricity to Hamas-controlled Gaza), forgotten Afghanistan, and a coming fight with the Shia.

Perfect breeding ground for the Revivalism Gilbert rightly fears gaining strength. My difference with Gilbert is that this end result did not have to happen and is not simply the outcome of “Islam’s” 1400 history and mindset. It could have been very different in the wake of 9/11. Very different.

Now I see darkness spreading.

Published in: on October 26, 2007 at 3:45 pm  Leave a Comment  
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