palestinian authority

A Cosmic Hatred

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Introduction to his month’s Zman magazine

Zman 81 cover - Bassem Eid - Palestinian Authority scandalsA Cosmic Hatred

In our cover story, Bassem Eid offers a surprising angle on the Arab-Israeli conflict: “The first thing that we as Palestinians must do is to stop viewing ourselves as victims of the Israelis. This constant blame that our situation is the result of Israeli politics has brought us nothing and will continue to do nothing for us.”

This is downright refreshing, even revolutionary. Change is impossible without accepting responsibility. The kneejerk reaction to blame others (even where justifiable) is a recipe for misery. It takes strength of character to acknowledge one’s failings and move onto the hard business of fixing oneself, first and foremost, instead of giving that power to others by blaming them. Kudos to Mr. Eid.

Now, if only the rest of the Middle East felt that way….

Blaming Israel for everything – like traditional anti-Semitism that blames Jews for everything — permeates today’s world, but especially Middle Eastern culture. Ironically, some of the soberest thinkers on this subject are Muslims. “I am an observant Muslim committed to combating Islamism,” stated Dr. Quanta Ahmed, an outspoken British-Muslim physician, in a recent interview. “Islamism is a political totalitarian ideology, one of the central tenets of which is Islamist anti-Semitism.”

She then adds, “There is a deep-rooted anti-Semitism… which is greatly fueled by Islamist ideology… which is actually in the philosophy of major groups… like Hamas and Hezbollah, who explicitly identify the Jew or Judaism as a ‘cosmic’ enemy, not just a mortal enemy.”

Here she has hit the proverbial nail on the head: Islamists do not hate, persecute or murder Jews because of anything apologists and politicians imagine, such as alleged economic inequality or territorial disputes. They do so because of their ideology. Similar to the Nazi ideology, Islamism turns Jews into an evil, cosmic, supernatural force to be opposed at all costs.

Hundreds of stabbings of Jewish Israelis by young Palestinian Arabs over the past year are, at their root, natural outgrowths of the raw anti-Semitism spewed daily from places like the Voice of Palestine Radio teaching school children that killing Jews and dying in the process is a sacred duty. Many of the assailants (like Muslim terrorists in general) were financially well-off. It was ideology that drove their behavior.

“Is it any surprise that after decades of indoctrination in a culture of hate that people actually do hate?” Nonie Darwish, who was raised as a Muslim in the Gaza Strip, said of her birth-culture.

Sadly, thanks to what Dr. Ahmed calls an “incredibly ignorant marriage of Left and Islamism,” presidents and pundits alike perpetuate the dysfunctional attitudes that plague the Middle East and which are exported to the West. They need to diagnose the problem soberly, which begins by having no illusions about the central role ideology plays in Islamist terror.

Be that as it may, we can only control what we can, which means living by our faith, growing our communities and continuing to serve as conduits for the “cosmic” good.

Yaakov Astor, Editor-in-Chief