by Reuven Berko
England is debating whether to outlaw the Muslim Brotherhood, the religious, ideological and operative supporter of Hamas. Various political pressures, however, have prevented British security from designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. One can hope that the ISIS execution of American correspondent James Foley, carried out by a British-born Muslim, would be a wake-up call for not only the British, but all the European security services. The chilling similarity between the horror of Foley’s execution at the hands of a British-born ISIS operative and the Hamas execution of dozens of Gazans, as well as the ISIS slaughter of hundreds of virtually naked Syrian soldiers, should have sounded alarm bells regarding the dangers inherent in the fermenting Islamic enclaves in America and Europe. Unfortunately, that does not seem to be the case.
The West’s decades-long apathy toward Hamas’ attacks on Israeli civilians turned into shock and horror when the Hamas’ sister organization, ISIS, used the same tactics on Yazidis, Christians, Shi’ites, Kurds and anyone else the group classified as “infidel.”
The activists of the Muslim enclaves in Europe, which bred volunteers for ISIS, are now demonstrating in the streets – not only against Israel – but against their host countries. They are testing the limits to see how far they will be able to go when they decide to organize riots. When that happens, they will not only be inspired by their political sheikhs, they will be supported by mujahedeen, volunteers who fought in Syria and Iraq and returned to the back yards of their home countries as seasoned fighters.
The whole world is slowly becoming aware of the situation, yet American Secretary of State Kerry still tries to promote Qatar and Turkey, which openly support terrorist organizations all over the globe, as “honest brokers” to negotiate peace between Israel and Hamas. State Department Spokesperson Marie Harf still actively defends Qatar, whose Al-Jazeera TV is shamelessly used for propaganda against Israel, Egypt and Jordan, and calls for rioting on the Temple Mount. It accuses Jordan of collaboration with Israel in Israel’s so-called attempts to “Judaize” Jerusalem and uses all means at its disposal to foment unrest in Jordan against the king and to dethrone him.
The American aerial attacks on ISIS in support of the Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga armies indicate that the Americans turned a corner, perhaps too late, in their understanding of the Muslim Brotherhood-inspired Islamic terrorism carried out by the ISIS, al-Qaida, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Al-Nusra Front and the other terrorist organizations which slaughter, rape and pillage, sell women and behead infidels, all in the name and for the greater glory of Allah, Muhammad and Islam. Now, with American planes in the skies over Iraq, President Obama is willing to talk about “a cancer that has grown” in the Muslim world after many politically correct years of avoiding putting “Islamic” and “terrorism” together in the same sentence.
And yet, the American administration remains stubbornly blind when it comes to countries like Qatar and Turkey, which fund and motivate Islamic terrorism. That may be because of a hidden agenda of military-economic forces too powerful to resist, such as arms sales and naval bases. America, which wants to be seen as fighting for global justice, ironically finds itself acting against the best interests of Israel and Egypt, and in support of countries like Qatar, which bear direct responsibility for the current morass in the Middle East.
Rumors abound that following Operation Protective Edge, Hamas is willing to reach a two-state peace agreement with Israel based on the 1967 borders as part of the Palestinian Authority’s national consensus government. Really? The PA leadership learned the hard way that Hamas cannot be trusted and that nothing its leaders say can be taken at face value. The 2007 Hamas putsch of the Gaza Strip, during which the PA leadership was thrown from rooftops and shot in the streets, taught Fatah to be wary.
When the PA established the “government of technocrats” with Hamas last spring, Hamas promised it would abstain from terrorist attacks, and shortly thereafter abducted and murdered three Israeli youths, all the while issuing denials to every available media outlet.
Israel even thwarted a Hamas coup plot against the PA in the West Bank, confiscating guns, weapons and explosives and arresting senior Hamas activists.
During recent meetings in Cairo seeking pledges to rebuild Gaza, it seemed forgotten that Hamas steadfastly refuses to disarm and demilitarize. In his last United Nations speech, PA President Mahmoud Abbas promised to follow in the footsteps of the fedayoun and rejected Israel’s security claims.
The reason for these events is simple and tragic: the tail is wagging the dog. Despite the donations from the West and Palestinian Authority-overseen rebuilding of the Gaza Strip, Hamas continues its threats to renew its attacks against Israel and boasts of its new arms and its tunnels under construction. The Palestinian Authority does not even try to restrain Hamas, but additionally, on Oct. 19, one day after Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal appealed to the Palestinians to use weapons against Israel, Abbas used a PLO meeting in Ramallah to call on the Palestinians to act against Israel in Jerusalem “with all the means at their disposal.”
The result came soon: a Hamas terrorist from Jerusalem who had been recently released from Israeli security jail deliberately drove his car into a group of people waiting for a bus, killing a three-month-old baby and injuring eight other people. Hamas hailed the attack and the death of the “female settler.”
Hamas threatens Israel’s existence. It has systematically violated every agreement and ceasefire, even 24-hour ceasefires, reached with Israel. Israel, however, has absolute faith that Hamas will adhere to Article 7 of its charter, which calls for the genocide of the Jews and the destruction of the State of Israel. The situation is absurd. Abbas, a partner in a government in which the other half calls for the genocide of the Jews, self-righteously accuses Israel of genocide in the Gaza Strip. He accuses Israel of “apartheid” all the while claiming that Jewish presence in the Muslim and Christian holy places in Jerusalem “defiles” them. His use of the term “defilement” clearly shows his hatred of the Jews. In that, Abbas is no different from Hamas and Hitler, but the international community, as usual, remains silent.
Experience and recent history have taught Israel that radical Islamists cannot be trusted, because opportunism and treachery are part of their operational code. The taqia, legitimacy of lying to the infidel, is part and parcel of radical Islam. Al-Qaida received aid and training from the United States to defeat the Russians and then destroyed the World Trade Center. The Lebanese Shi’ites who welcomed Israel with flowers in 1982 and helped the IDF expel the Palestinian terrorist organizations became Hizballah and turned their weapons against Israel.
During the 1980s, when Hamas was founded as Al-Mujama’ al-Islami, it cooperated with Israel against the PLO in the Gaza Strip. When the first intifada broke out in 1986, it changed its name to Hamas and instituted an anti-Israeli terrorist campaign, which is still ongoing. Hamas operatives who went to Bashar Assad’s Syria, betrayed him and joined the rebels opposing him. Veteran members of the Muslim Brotherhood, who in the past had been faithful to King Hussein in Jordan, are now trying to overthrow his son, King Abdallah. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood who had previously been dispatched by the Arab monarchies, such as Saudi Arabia, to carry out terrorist attacks around the world, are now attacking the monarchies themselves.
In the meantime, not only did Hamas fail to slaughter the tens of thousands of Israelis it hoped to with its rockets and tunnel-based commando attacks, but its defeated leaders, with the aid of Qatar, Turkey and anti-Semitic Europe, are trying to win concessions from Israel.
Among those concessions are the construction of an airport and seaport, and secure access to Judea and Samaria, all with the objective of importing the weapons promised by Iran for the next round of fighting. The refusal of Abbas representative Azzam al-Ahmad to accept disarming Hamas as a condition for progress during the Cairo talks, should have been a wake-up call for Israel’s critics. Abbas had committed himself to this requirement according to the Oslo Accords. And the Hamas plans for a putsch against Fatah in the West Bank should have been a wake-up call for him. In reality, he is afraid to set foot in the Gaza Strip and barely controls Judea and Samaria, whose restless inhabitants mostly support Hamas. For these reasons, fearing for his own safety, he sent Rami Hamdallah, the prime minister of his technocrat government, to the Gaza Strip to demonstrate his government’s presence and symbolic authority, and to discuss Hamas demands for payments for its workers. Hamdallah didn’t reach any agreement, and Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri threatens that Hamas is “running out of patience.”
The moderate Arab states know that founding another armed, radical Islamist country in the region is a bad idea, and for that reason genuine support for the Palestinian state is fading. Abbas can no longer be part of the solution because of the danger that Hamas will also take over Judea and Samaria. It is clear to the leaders of the moderate Arab states that Hamas will continue its arms buildup and will turn any Palestinian entity, including Judea and Samaria, into an Islamic emirate along the lines of ISIS in Syria and Iraq and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and that outcome will only aggravate the ills of the Middle East.
It is also clear that the “Palestinian issue” was never the main cause of the region’s conflicts; on the contrary, if the Palestinian state does ever come into existence, it will be part of the problem, not a solution. John Kerry’s recent hint that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is somehow related to ISIS is not only ridiculous, but it shows how little the international community in general and the United States in particular understands the Middle East. The Shi’ite-Sunni enmity-caused-disaster throughout the region, Hizballah and the Muslim Brotherhood all have nothing to do with Israel and the Palestinians. How awful for Kerry that it is impossible to link Israel to the spread of the Ebola virus, as Jews were blamed for the spread of the Black Plague during the Middle Ages.
The Palestinian issue is barely marginal to the events in the Middle East. However, the problem can be resolved by renewing the original territorial affiliations, with the inclusion of security oversight: Judea and Samaria can be returned to Jordan and the Gaza Strip to Egypt. That development would facilitate the disbanding of UNRWA, a corrupt and useless UN agency. In light of the millions of genuine refugees fleeing the ISIS and seeking a safe haven in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, where they receive no UN aid, the money financing UNRWA could be put to better purposes. The Palestinians living in the apartheid Arab states should be given citizenship and civil and legal rights, and allowed to live and work as equal citizens.
The world, including the United States, has finally understood that there is no such thing as “political Islam” and that the Muslim Brotherhood is the spiritual mentor of all the various Islamic terrorist organizations. It and its proxies use the preaching of the da’wah to incite the masses to acts of terrorism as a way of installing an Islamic rule of the world. Thus, the need to stop ISIS and Hamas is not because they threaten Israel and Jordan (as noted by the American Secretary of State), but because they threaten the entire world.
The Middle East has turned a corner. On the one hand, the Iranian nuclear threat is becoming more prominent, and Syrian and Hizballah terrorism and missiles endanger Israel and its neighbors. On the other hand, Islamic terrorism poses a genuine strategic threat to all the countries in the region, putting the sane Arab states in the same battlefield trench with Israel. As the king of Saudi Arabia noted, if the ISIS isn’t stopped in the Middle East today, Europe and America will have to deal with it tomorrow.
Israel’s critics had the decency to remain quiet during the summer and allow Israel to deal with Hamas. They understood the danger of Hamas terrorism and the need to disarm it. They also understood that Jordan and Saudi Arabia are next in line, that Israel is the only bulwark between them and radical Islamic terrorism, and that the Palestinians must not be used as a tool in the hands of terrorists. For the sake of world peace, the West has to exploit every chance to stamp out Islamic terrorism. Instead, it concentrates on rebuilding the Gaza Strip, has no intention of trying Hamas for its war crimes, and does not bother even to hold Mahmoud Abbas responsible for his actions.
The Arab world is going up in flames. Hundreds of thousands are being killed and millions are being displaced, and yet the world is silent, unless Israel is part of the equation. Thus on Oct. 13, representatives from 50 countries and the heads of 20 international organizations met in Cairo to discuss rebuilding the Gaza Strip. They pledged $5 billion for Gaza without even a hint of disarmament. Instead, they hurled false accusations at Israel for not using proportional power and causing too much casualties and destruction, and wrung their hands for the plight of the Gazans. All this occurred without requiring some kind of mechanism to oversee the dispersal of funds and building materials and without demilitarizing the Gaza Strip.
Will the promised money ever arrive? Experience has shown that promises are rarely kept in the Middle East. And if the money does arrive, will it be kept out of Hamas’ hands or will it buy more weapons and build more terrorist tunnels? Sweden and Britain, in their rush to recognize the “Palestinian state” without Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, prove that they have learned nothing from history. Hatred for the Jews and the fear of the Muslim enclaves growing in the West have overcome every existential, rational and humanitarian consideration.
Dr. Reuven Berko has a Ph.D. in Middle East studies, is a commentator on Israeli Arabic TV programs, writes for the Israeli daily newspaper Israel Hayom and is considered one of Israel’s top experts on Arab affairs.