A CENTURY ago, Lenin described fellow-travelling Western leftists as ‘useful idiots’ incapable of discerning the aggressive and totalitarian nature of Soviet Communism. Their equivalents today are the ‘peace campaigners’, Greens and other leftist activists who have been willing to rub shoulders with Hamas supporters in all those massive pro-Palestinian demonstrations rightly dubbed ‘hate marches’ by Suella Braverman.
That Hamas is an evil, bloodthirsty, Jew-hating terrorist organisation dedicated to the political destruction of Israel and the physical extermination of its inhabitants should, by now, be apparent to any even half-sentient human being. What is less widely understood, indeed wilfully ignored by most Western politicians and pundits, is the fundamental cause of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict: not a bitter quarrel about the division of the land, but the refusal of most of the Arab/Islamic world to accept the very idea of Jewish statehood – a refusal rooted in Muslim religious anti-Semitism.
The failure of most of the mainstream liberal media to convey this central fact is both extraordinary and shameful because the evidence for its truthfulness is abundant and overwhelming, and has been so for nearly three-quarters of a century. That evidence includes revealing personal testimonies from formerly hostile Arab supporters of Israel.
To quote one of these, Lebanese-born author and journalist Brigitte Gabriel, addressing an audience at Duke University (US) in 2004: ‘I’m proud and honoured to stand here today as a Lebanese speaking for Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. As someone who was raised in an Arabic country, I want to give you a glimpse into the heart of the Arab world.
‘I was raised in Lebanon where I was taught that the Jews are evil, Israel is the devil, and the only time we will have peace in the Middle East is when we kill all the Jews and drive them into the sea. When the Muslims and Palestinians declared jihad on the Christians in 1975, they started massacring the Christians in city after city. I ended up living in a bomb shelter underground from age ten to 17, without electricity, eating grass to live, and crawling under sniper bullets to a spring to get water.
‘It was Israel who came to help the Christians in Lebanon. My mother was wounded by a Muslim shell and was taken into an Israeli hospital for treatment. When we entered the emergency room, I was shocked by what I saw. There were hundreds of people wounded, Muslims, Palestinians, Lebanese Christians, and Israeli soldiers lying on the floor. The doctors treated everyone according to their injury. They didn’t see religion, they didn’t see political affiliation, they saw people in need and they helped.
‘For the first time in my life, I experienced a human quality that I know my culture would not have shown to their enemy. I spent 22 days at that hospital; those days changed my life. I realised that I was sold a fabricated lie by my government about the Jews and Israel, which was so far from reality. I knew for a fact that if I were a Jew standing in an Arab hospital, I would be lynched and thrown to the ground as shouts of joy of “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) echoed through the hospital and the surrounding streets.’
The testimony of Nonie Darwish, Egyptian-born writer and human rights activist, whose father was head of Egyptian Army Intelligence in Gaza between 1951 and 1956, when Egypt ruled the Gaza Strip, is equally compelling. Brought up from infancy to hate Jews and Israel, she eventually abandoned her anti-Semitic views, emigrated to America, and became the founding president of Arabs for Israel.
In a 2009 interview explaining this change of perspective, Darwish described her early education in Gaza: ‘I was taught hate. For instance, we used to play songs: “Arabs are our friends, Jews are our dogs”. We heard incredible stories such as “Jews baked cookies with blood of Arab children.” We were told: “Don’t take candy from a stranger. He could be a Jew trying to poison you.”
Only after a series of positive personal encounters with individual Jews did Nonie Darwish begin to question what she had been taught: ‘I then read books about Jews and their history. I realised everything that Arab kids were taught about Jews were lies.’ After describing the illiberal and intolerant nature of sharia law and Arab Muslim culture, she concluded, in response to a question from her interviewer, that the Arab/Israeli conflict ‘is a religious holy war against a non-Muslim country. It is the Muslim world against Israel’.
It is true, of course, that Egypt and Jordan recognise the existence of Israel, and there are (and have been) brave Muslim writers, scholars and activists wedded to a more liberal interpretation of Islam, and critical of anti-Semitism, but theirs has been a small minority voice. The Islamic mainstream has usually been relentlessly hostile to Jewish identity, culture and aspirations.
The Koran, for instance, describes Jews as unbelievers who spread evil (Sura [meaning ‘chapter’] 5:64) and are enemies of Allah, His Prophet [Muhammad], and the angels (Sura 2:97-8). As a result, there has, with some notable exceptions, been a long tradition of Arab hostility to Judaism, often expressed in language reminiscent of past Christian anti-Semitism. Here below are three typical examples of this.
On November 23, 1937, King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia told British Colonel H.R.P. Dickson:‘Our hatred for the Jews dates from God’s condemnation of them for their persecution and rejection of Isa [Jesus] and their subsequent rejection of His chosen Prophet [Muhammad]. For a Muslim to kill a Jew, or for him to be killed by a Jew, ensures him an immediate entry into Heaven and into the august presence of God Almighty.’
After the Six-Day War in 1967, the Israelis found that school textbooks used to educate Arab children in the West Bank were full of racist and negative portrayals of Jews. For instance: ‘The Jews are scattered to the ends of the earth, where they live exiled and despised, since by their nature they are vile, greedy and enemies of mankind.’ (The Religious Ordinances Reader, Syrian Ministry of Education, 1963-4, p138).
On October 13, 2000,the day after the barbaric lynching of two Israeli soldiers whose murder was caught on camera by the world’s media, Ahmad Abu Halabiya, former Acting Rector of the Islamic University in Gaza, declared in a televised sermon on the official Palestinian Authority TV Channel: ‘Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are, in any country. Fight them, wherever you are. Wherever you meet them, kill them. Wherever you are, kill those Jews and those Americans who are like them and those who stand by them.’
Religious hatred, not legitimate grievance, is the principal driver of Palestinian and Muslim hostility towards Israel, for Zionism was never a threat to the legitimate political aspirations of Arab nationalism, as Prince Feisal, the original leader of the Arab nationalist movement, explicitly acknowledged nearly a century ago. As he put it in a letter dated March 3, 1919, to Felix Frankfurter, a leading member of the American Zionist delegation to the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, he saw no conflict between the Zionist goal of re-establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine and Arab aspirations towards self-government in the Middle East: ‘We Arabs,’ he wrote, ‘especially the educated among us, look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement. We will wish the Jews a hearty welcome home. We are working together for a reformed and revived Near East, and our two movements complete one another. The Jewish movement is nationalist and not imperialist. And there is room in Syria [which then included Lebanon and Palestine under the Ottomans] for us both.’
And ‘room enough’ there was, for in 1922, in fulfilment of Britain’s wartime promises to the Arabs, Churchill, as Colonial Secretary, made Feisal (who had been expelled from Syria by the French) King of Iraq, and created another Arab State, Transjordan (now Jordan), to be ruled over by Feisal’s brother, Abdullah.
Since the creation of the Arab State of Transjordan swallowed up three-quarters of the territory originally set aside by the 1922 League of Nations Palestine Mandate for ‘reconstituting’ a ‘Jewish National Home’, the Zionists had every right – in terms of both morality and international law – to set up a Jewish State within the remaining 25 per cent of the land of Palestine.
Thus the oft-repeated claim that Jewish Statehood necessarily involved the sacrifice of Palestinian Arab self-determination is an outright falsehood. So too is the claim that the return of the Jews to their ancestral home displaced the local Arab population and infringed their human rights.
To begin with, a Jewish remnant always remained in Palestine between the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD and the rebirth of Israel in 1948, maintaining an unbroken link with the Land stretching back 3,700 years. Secondly, the whole area of what had once been Ancient Israel was never an independent Palestinian Arab State, but became a neglected and under-populated provincial backwater ruled by a succession of foreign imperial conquerors, and with an ethnically mixed population. Though Arabs formed the majority of that population in the 19th century, they were very few in number and many were relatively recent immigrants. Thirdly, the Zionist resettlement of Palestine was a peaceful, non-coercive process. Analyses of land purchases from 1880 to 1948 show that 73 per cent of Jewish plots were purchased from rich Arab landowners, not poor Arab peasants. The few Arab tenant farmers displaced by the sale of their land to Jews were given a year’s notice and fully compensated in cash or other land. Far from dispossessing the local Arabs, Jewish immigration and development brought a rapid increase in the Arab population as the Jews created jobs, drained malarial swamps, and brought improved sanitation and health care to the region.
According to official statistics, the Arab population of Palestine more than doubled between 1922 and 1947, with Arab migrants flooding into Palestine from the neighbouring Arab states to take advantage of the higher standard of living the Jews had made possible, a fact acknowledged in the Peel (Royal) Commission Report of 1937.
The fuse of the now century old Israeli/Palestinian conflict was lit in the 1920s by the pro-Hitler, Jew-hating Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, whose Arab terror gangs launched unprovoked attacks on peaceful Jewish settlements, as well as organising the systematic destruction of Arab moderates, 1,000 of whom were murdered during the 1930s. This deliberate re-awakening of traditional Arab and Muslim anti-Semitism, under extremist leadership, aborted the original vision of peaceful coexistence between Jew and Arab enunciated by Prince Feisal in 1919, with the self-destructive consequences we’ve seen ever since.
By refusing to be satisfied with the creation of Transjordan, or to accept the principle of partition for the remaining Palestine Mandate territory, the principle finally enshrined in the UN Partition Plan of 1947 which created Israel, the Arab world effectively rejected not one but two attempts at that ‘two-state solution’ constantly demanded by Israel’s naïve Western critics. Instead of compromise, it attempted genocide.
To quote the words of the then Secretary-General of the Arab League, Azzam Pasha, describing the war aims of the five Arab States whose armies invaded Israel the day after its birth on May 14, 1948: ‘This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.’ In the process of trying to achieve this terrible objective, they created the Palestinian refugee problem by telling the Arab population within Israel to leave their homes temporarily so as not to get in the way of the invaders.
As Haled al Azm, Syria’s Prime Minister in 1948-9, admitted in his 1973 memoirs: ‘Since 1948 it is we who demanded the return of the refugees while it is we who made them leave. We have rendered them dispossessed. We have accustomed them to begging. We have participated in lowering their moral and social level. Then we exploited them in executing crimes of murder, arson, and throwing bombs upon men, women and children – all this in the service of political purposes.’
This murderous vendetta against Israel, and the lies which excuse and sustain it, threaten us all, not just Jews, because they are part of a wider Islamist war against political and religious freedom – a war spearheaded by Iran, and conducted by a plethora of terrorist movements throughout the world, including Africa, where thousands of Christians have been slaughtered in recent years. To quote Hamas Commander Mahmoud al-Zahar, in December 2022: ‘Israel is only the first target. The entire planet will be under our law.’