Menckens Ghost

More About: Israel - Palestine

The making of Israel, Hamas, and Osama bin Laden

How did the Middle East get to the point where Jews and Muslims are in a fight to the death that might drag the USA and its allies and foes into a nuclear conflagration someday?

How did the Middle East get to the point where Muslim fanatics have dragged Muslim moderates back to medieval times?

And how did the Middle East get to the point where the USA has followed France, Britain, Germany and Russia into one quagmire after another?

Among the many possible answers, one key common answer is religion.  It's an answer that many Americans don't like to hear. 

Another key answer is the imperial folly of the West.  That's another answer that many Americans don't like to hear.

Let's begin with religion.  The inescapable fact is that the three major religions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism have been in varying degrees of conflict at various times since their respective versions of a supreme being sprang out of the human imagination (or, if you prefer, was conveyed by God) in the same small geographic area, in the same narrow window of human history.

Most Americans know about today's radical Islam and its hatred of disbelievers and goal of establishing a caliphate under Sharia law.  Most also know about Muslim conquests in history, especially the conquering of the Iberian Peninsula.  And most know about the Christian blowback known as the Crusades.

Religion is dangerous.

But most do not know that American Christians began meddling in the Middle East soon after the founding of the USA.  Part of the Restoration movement, they were Christian Zionists who believed that Jews should occupy the Holy Land and restore the Kingdom of Judea.  To prepare for this, they sent missionaries to the Middle East to convert the heathen Muslims.  That didn't go over very well with the Muslims?just as it would not have gone over very well with Americans if Muslims had sent missionaries to New England to convert heathen Christians.  Quickly finding themselves in danger, the missionaries asked the fledgling U.S. government for help.

Religion can be dangerous.

Most Americans also are familiar with the history of Jews and their Diaspora.  Because Jews were a religious minority, they were persecuted for their religion and perceived clannish ways in many of the countries where they lived, whether those countries were Muslim, Catholic, Russian Orthodox, or Protestant.  Ironically, the Zionist movement was very strong in England, a country where Jews were not persecuted.   After the Holocaust, Zionists succeeded in establishing the Jewish State of Israel, a nation that was put in the middle of Muslims, many of whom were religious zealots who believed that they, not the Jews, were the chosen people. 

Religion can be dangerous.

Whichever side you think is right or wrong, moral or immoral, barbarian or civilized, it was inevitable that it wasn't going to bode well for mainly European Jews to relocate to a small piece of land in the middle of hostile Muslim Arabs.  It would be akin to me building an expensive home in the middle of a neighborhood controlled by Crips or Bloods.

Religion can be dangerous.  Have I said that before?

Imperial folly added to the danger of religion.  This was especially true in the years immediately preceding the First World War, during the war, and immediately following the war?a period that set the stage for the bloodshed that has continued into the 21st century and led to Osama bin Laden and 9/11.

For example, the Great Power of Germany, a Christian nation, encouraged Islamic extremists to declare a jihad against the Entente powers, especially Great Britain. 

That wasn't very Christian of the Germans.

Another example:  Instead of supporting the cause of the Arab nationalism of moderate Arabs, the Christian nations of Britain and France carved up the Middle East to serve their competing imperialist interests, with no regard for Arab feelings and history, thus fueling tribal and sectarian hatreds and Muslim extremism. 

That wasn't very Christian of them.

Another example:  Instead of putting their full support behind the moderate reformist Arab leader Emir Hussein, the British also supported Hussein's rival in Arabia, Abdul Azis ibn-Saud, who embraced the fundamentalist form of Islam known as Wahhabism.  At the time, British Captain Thomas Edward Lawrence (aka Lawrence of Arabia) warned his military superiors and the British government that the Wahhabists were not representative of Islam and had the "narrow minded bigotry of the puritan."  As detailed in the wonderful new book, Lawrence in Arabia, Lawrence said that the Wahhabist sect was composed of marginal medievalists, and "if it prevailed, we would have in place of the tolerant, rather comfortable Islam of Mecca and Damascus, the fanaticism of Nejd . . . intensified and swollen by success."

After the war, as Lawrence had predicted and warned, ibn-Saud would conquer much of the Arabian Peninsula and establish Saudi Arabia, which was named after the Saud clan and would become a close ally of the United States.  The book Lawrence in Arabia has this to say about this colossal mistake of the British and, subsequently, the United States:  "For the next ninety years, the vast and profligate Saudi royal family would survive by essentially buying off the doctrinaire Wahhabists who had brought them to power, financially subsidizing their activities so long as their disciples directed their jihadist efforts abroad.  The most famous product of this arrangement was to be a man named Osama bin Laden."

Last example:  At the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, moderate Arab leader Faisal ibn Hussein, the son of Emir Hussein, joined forces with British Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann to call for a combined Arab-Jewish state in Palestine, where Jews could buy land instead of taking it by force.  The British and French sabotaged this effort, because it went against their imperial interests.

That wasn't very Christian of them.

Today, Hamas is sending rockets into Israel, and Israel is understandably retaliating.  Today, the fate of the U.S. is tied to the fate of Israel, a fate that doesn't look promising given the demographics of Israel compared to the demographics of its Muslim neighbors?and given that our shortsighted removal of the Sunni regime of the brutal dictator Saddam Hussein has emboldened Shia Iran, which will probably have a nuclear capability one day.

All of this because of religion and imperialism.

I can't decide what is more dangerous:  religion or imperialistic governments.

1 Comments in Response to

Comment by Esther Cook
Entered on:

It is not religion that is dangerous. It is anti-religion that is dangerous, otherwise known as intolerance. Atheist Soviet Russia killed more martyrs than all the religions put together. It wasn't atheism, either--it was intolerance. The Gift of Fear and author Gavin De Becker's other books make clear that people turn to violence only when all other attempts to communicate have failed. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People's 5th habit is Seek First to Understand; then to be Understood. One of those 7 Habits books has a remarkable example of handling communications between pro-lifers and pro-choicers about abortion. That is just as emotional a subject as anything on the planet--and they ended up agreeing! (that they wanted abortion to be rare, and safe for the woman when it did occur.) I learned in a third book called "Divorce Busting" that solving these emotional tangles does NOT depend on the other side. They don't "have to be" willing to listen. THEY don't "have to be" anything. One side can change a relationship and the other will automatically change in response. Seek First to Understand; then to be Understood. The Jews or the Arabs--whichever side understands this first and more thoroughly will end up with the most power and control of the situation. And both sides will win. The rest of the world will win, too. When the Jews and the Arabs REALLY apply these books, they will change the world. War will look like incompetence after that and nobody will be willing to look so incapable ever again.

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