Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, September 2014
ISIS Phenomenon Is a Reaction to the US-Israeli Humiliation of Muslims, Double-Standard Foreign Policy, and Israel Above the Law
By Alan Hart
Caliph Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi
Jihadism and how to isolate, contain and defeat it
I must start by saying that jihadism is my necessary headline shorthand for violent Islamic fundamentalism in all of its manifestations. In this article I’m going to ask and offer answers to two main questions.
The first is: where does this madness come from? I mean what is it, really, that gives birth and life to violent Islamic fundamentalism?
In my analysis it is essentially the product of Muslim hurt, humiliation and anger, plus, for many Muslims, the misery and despair of poverty (the absence of some or even all of the basic necessities for life with dignity).
In that light those of our so-called leaders who believe violent Islamic fundamentalism can be eradicated with bombs and bullets either lack common sense or are stupid.
The hurt, humiliation and anger that gives birth and life to violent Islamic fundamentalism have two main causes.
…there are a whole stack of Muslim grievances that have to be acknowledged and addressed if violent Islamic fundamentalism is to be isolated, contained and defeated.
One is the authoritarianism and corruption of regimes throughout the Arab and wider Muslim world, plus their complicity by default in Zionism’s unending oppression of the Palestinians.
The other is the double-standard of American-led Western foreign policy, a double-standard that allows Israel to remain above the law and not be called to account for its crimes, including from time to time acts of state terrorism.
Put another way, there are a whole stack of Muslim grievances that have to be acknowledged and addressed if violent Islamic fundamentalism is to be isolated, contained and defeated.
In my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews I offered a 150-word explanation of how terrorism can be defeated, as follows.
Terrorists cannot operate, not for long, without the cover and the practical, emotional and moral support of the community of which they are a part. When that community perceives itself to be the victim of a massive injustice, and if that injustice is not addressed by political means, the community will cover, condone and even applaud the activities of those of its own who resort to terror as the only means of drawing attention to the injustice, to cause it to be addressed. It follows that the way to defeat terrorism – the only successful and actually proven way – is by addressing the genuine and legitimate grievances of the host community. The community will then withdraw its cover and support for its terrorists; and, if they continue to try to operate, the community will then oppose them by exposing them – reporting them to the authorities if reasoning fails.
I then presented the example of Northern Ireland to give some substance to my general point. The British army did not defeat Provisional IRA terrorism. The terrorists called off their campaign and went for negotiations only when they had no choice – because the Catholic host community would not cover and support them any longer. And that happened only because the British government summoned up the will, about half a century later than it should have done, to risk the wrath of Northern Ireland’s Protestant majority by insisting that the legitimate grievances of the Catholic minority be addressed.
Northern Ireland is not Iraq or Syria or any of the other territories where violent Islamic fundamentalism in one form or another is rearing its ugly head, but the principle outlined above still holds good. Addressing the grievances of the host communities is essential if jihadism is be isolated, contained and eventually defeated.
Now to my second question for this article.
What could the West for its part actually do to address Muslim grievances – the package of hurt, humiliation and anger?
The short answer is: end the double-standard of American-led foreign policy.
…a demonstration of real American even handedness on policy for Israel-Palestine would go a long way to restoring American credibility which, in turn, would make many if not all the problems arising from Muslim hurt, humiliation and anger more manageable.
In principle doing so would require above all an American administration to use the leverage it has to try to cause Israel to be serious about peace on terms that would provide an acceptable amount of justice for the Palestinians and security for all. (I emphasisedtry in the last sentence because it doesn’t necessarily follow that the Zionist state would say: “Okay. We’ll comply with international law and do what you want.” It’s not impossible that Israel would tell an American President and the whole Western world to go to hell.)
I don’t mean to imply that use of American leverage to end the Israel-Palestine conflict on terms the vast majority of Palestinians and most other Arabs and Muslims everywhere could live with is some kind of magic wand. But a demonstration of real American even handedness on policy for Israel-Palestine would go a long way to restoring American credibility which, in turn, would make many if not all the problems arising from Muslim hurt, humiliation and anger more manageable.
The process of making these problems more manageable would also be greatly assisted by a major initiative from within the Muslim world. In my analysis it needs its leading and most respected scholars to come up with a universal interpretation of the meaning of the teachings and messages of the Quran for today’s world.
Muslims believe this central religious text of Islam was revealed by God to the Prophet Muhammad through the angel Gabriel over a period of approximately 23 years, from 609 AD to 632 AD when he died. Common sense suggests to me that interpretation of teachings and messages that were relevant in the world as it was between 1,405 and 1,382 years ago needs updating.
In other words, what I am suggesting is that Muslims need to be told with the greatest possible authority: “This is what the teachings and messages of the Quran mean in today’s world and this is what they do not mean.” I can see no other way of denying religious-based justification to those who kill and maim and destroy in Islam’s name.
Now a reality check.
…Muslims need to be told with the greatest possible authority: “This is what the teachings and messages of the Quran mean in today’s world and this is what they do not mean.”
I have a good number of rational Muslim friends who tell me they agree that the interpretation of the teachings and messages of the Quran needs updating but, they also say, it will never happen. Why not? Because the best Muslim scholars are either too divided among themselves or too frightened to accept the challenge.
In my view, and because of the corruption of American politics, there’s also no prospect of any American administration adopting an even-handed policy for Israel-Palestine.
So what could be done to isolate, contain and eventually eradicate violent Islamic fundamentalism won’t be done.
And where does that leave us? On course for a clash of civilizations. Judaeo-Christian v Islamic?
America’s mad Christian evangelicals who support the Zionist state because they see it as the instrument for bringing about Armageddon, will answer, “We hope so.”
In addition to the American-led Western double standard as indicated above there’s the role America has played is assisting the creation of violent Islamic fundamentalism. An article by Tom Engelhardt with the headline How America made ISIS can be found here.
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