The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a religious conflict – opinion

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is primarily a religious, messianic struggle and not a political struggle. This is particularly evident in the current war with Hamas.

Moreover, as we contemplate what will happen “on the day after” it is important to examine the religious aspects of the two powerful alliances that have assisted Hamas, and that will continue to assist it even if emasculated. It is worth noting, however, that both these alliances have inbuilt contradictions that can be, and should be exploited so as to weaken them.

The first alliance to consider is that between Hamas and the Axis of Resistance, revolving around the Islamic Republic of Iran and also involving Hezbollah and the Houthis.

Religious background 

Iran’s majority Shi’ite sect is the Twelvers. They believe that the twelfth imam Muhammad al-Mahdi is yet alive and will remain hidden until the End of Days. When Allah so directs, his presence will be revealed. As is the case for Hezbollah and the Houthis, Iran’s ultimate aim is the creation of a Shi’ite caliphate, initially in the Middle East, that will eventually encompass the entire globe.

This will mark the final victory of Shi’ism over Sunnism and other monotheistic faiths such as Judaism and Christianity. It will also lead to the Day of Judgment and the End of Days. There is also a general belief among many Muslims that the messianic age is immanent and for this to happen the “cancer” in the middle of the Islamic Middle East, namely Israel, has to be eliminated.

Hamas is from the Sunni branch of Islam. Its prime aim is the destruction of Israel as part of an apocalyptic vision involving the elimination of its Jews and the replacement of Israel with a religious Islamic state. As article 35 of its revised 2017 Principles and Policies states “Hamas believes that the Palestinian issue is the central cause for the Arab and Islamic Ummah.”

The legitimization of hate and genocide of the Jewish people necessary to accomplish this goal derives from a particularly odious hadith (a hadith is part of the Islamic oral tradition), which is quoted in Hamas’s 1988 Covenant. Its eschatological (End of Days) aspect should be noted:

The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews when the Jews will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say “O Muslims, O Abdullah [servant of Allah], there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”

A sign is seen as people take part in a protest that organizers billed as ”Millions March for Gaza”, a global day of action opposing the impending Israeli operation into Rafah, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in New York City, U.S., March 2, 2024. (credit: David Dee Delgado/Reuters)

Hamas is an offshoot of the Islamic Brotherhood. As does ISIS and al-Qaeda, the Islamic Brotherhood believes in the establishment of a Sunni caliphate encompassing first the Middle East and then the entire world. Of importance, however, is that there is nothing in Hamas’s writings advocating a caliphate.

Hamas’s narrow focus on Palestine alone compared to other fundamentalist Islamic movements has enabled it to become a unifying voice in the Islamic world. This has permitted it to strengthen Islamic hatred of Jews and Israel, such that this has now become almost the default Muslim position, including for Muslims in Western countries. There are doubtless many closet Muslims who disagree with this approach.

Middle Eastern states favoring different outcomes

The inbuilt contradiction regarding Hamas’s alliance with the Axis of Resistance is that a caliphate can be either Sunni or Shi’ite, but not both. Sunnis and Shi’ites have traditionally been in opposition to each other. This is why Egypt and many leaders of the Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia, are rooting for an Israeli defeat of Hamas, and a major reason why Saudi Arabia wishes for a formal defense agreement with America and Israel against Iran.

An alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia, the custodian of the Muslim holy places in Mecca, would very much weaken a Sunni and Shi’ite alliance against Israel. This is why Iran will do its utmost to stop it. However, Saudi Arabia can hardly ignore its population, and without some distinct benefit to Islam, such as a Palestinian state, it will be difficult for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to sell this program to his countrymen. Can Saudi Arabia and Israel finesse this issue in some way? We will have to see.

The second unlikely alliance about Palestine is between Western Muslims and young people and students with a progressive outlook. Progressive views are dominated by their opposition to imperialism, transphobia, capitalism, climate change, and anything to do with racial oppression. An anti-Israel platform has become almost the centerpiece of this diverse package and binds it together. Jews have become a codeword for colonizers and oppressors because of their supposed treatment of the Palestinians. Progressives look no further than the plight of Palestinians in Gaza for affirmation of this.

Progressives have bought fully into Hamas’s claim that “The cause in its essence is a cause of an occupied land and a displaced people” and that “The Zionist project is a racist, aggressive, colonial and expansionist project based on seizing the property of others… hostile to the Palestinian people and to their aspiration of freedom, liberation, return and self-determination” (article 14). Qatar has spent $4.7 billion in donations to American universities promoting this message over the past 20 years, with considerable success it would now seem.

A religious rather than political conflict?

The informal alliance between progressives and Muslims is in actuality a nonsensical one as there is no commonality of interests between them on a host of matters, including racism and LGBTQ+ individuals. Moreover, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a political issue but a religious one. As Hamas admits: “The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Wakf (endowment) consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgment Day” (article 11) and “no part of the land of Palestine shall be compromised or conceded” (article 20). The Palestinian Authority is probably in agreement with both these statements, which is why it has never been prepared to consummate a definitive peace agreement with Israel despite being offered statehood on a number of occasions.

Muslims and students protesting in support of Hamas are in actuality lobbying for two different causes, even when marching in the same demonstration. Young people are lobbying for the liberation of Palestinians from Jewish colonization and oppression and the right of the Palestinians to an independent state while many Muslims are demonstrating for this plus a Palestine free of Jews as a step towards the supremacy of Islam and the messianic apocalyptic prelude to the End of Days.

It is imperative that we Jews combat the ideas of the Progressives, since they enable Islamic hatred of Jews throughout the world. We need to point out to them that this hatred marks the beginning of the breakdown of liberal democracy, the importation of Islamic ethics into Europe and the United States, and an incremental step in the Islamization of Europe.

Moreover, the notion of Jewish colonization and the oppression and displacement of Palestinian Muslims is a total fabrication. In the late 1800s at the time of the First Aliyah, Ottoman Palestine was an almost empty and desolate land to which came two groups of immigrants – Jews and Arabs. Although always in the majority, there was never a large indigenous Muslim population in Palestine to be displaced – just two groups, many of whom were immigrants or children of immigrants who did not like each other and one of which was determined to get rid of the other predominantly for religious reasons.

Moreover, much as progressives would like to do this, one cannot split off the Palestinians from their alliances. The alliance between Palestinians and Iran is a danger to the security of the Western world, particularly as Iran heads to the final stages of developing an atomic bomb as part of its insane messianic project to take over the Middle East and then the entire world.

The writer is the author of a newly-released book, The Struggle for Utopia. A History of Jewish, Christian and Islamic Messianism, in which many of the topics raised in this article are discussed in greater detail. He is also the author of other books.

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