Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

19 Adar 5761 - March 14, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
The Arab Vision and the Jewish Reply

A new government has taken office in Israel and on our side there are new hopes for improvements. Yet the Arab side has remained constant and it is interesting, to say the least, to hear what it has to say.

The Arab world sees, and has always seen, the State of Israel as an alien, European entity that was forced upon the Middle East. The Arabs are confident that, sooner or later (and later may be decades), it will collapse and the Jews will go back to where they came from. This of course is abetted by the fact that the dominant culture of modern Israeli leaders is so strongly European without any roots in Judaism.

The Arab intellectuals have never spoken (like current Foreign Minister Peres) of a vision of a "new Middle East" in which 22 Arab states (including the Palestinian Authority) live in peace and harmony with one Jewish state. It is a fact that the State of Israel does not appear in the textbooks used in their educational institutions. From their perspective this is only responsible education since they consider the State of Israel an "historical accident" that will one day disappear. They compare the State of Israel to the Crusader Kingdom that ruled Jerusalem for 88 years but was pushed out by Saladin.

In a recent interview, Dr. Asam Tamimi, head of the Islamic Institute for Political Thought in London (himself born in Chevron) explained, "In my eyes, Israel is a colonialist project. It once did not exist, now it does exist, and one day it will not exist. It is as simple as that. . . . Colonialist imperialist projects all start somehow, reach a peak and then decline and collapse. The only question is -- and it is an issue that is currently discussed in Islamic circles -- how the end will come about and what it will look like."

"Zionism," says Dr. Tamimi, "destroyed the relationships between Jews and Moslems. . . . It incited Jews against Moslems and Moslems against Jews. Nowadays the Sheikh who calls for a struggle against Israel does not distinguish between Jews and Israelis."

Dr. Tamimi admits that today the Moslems are not strong enough. "Moslems are relatively weak. They have problems in Iran. They have problems in Morocco, in Sudan, in Nigeria -- all over the world. But they are trying to solve the problems . . . and they will be a mighty power."

Our point is not about the likelihood of this scenario but about the fact that this approach is totally incompatible with the Oslo peace process presumptions that the Arabs fundamentally want peace with Israel and it is up to us to bring out this desire.

Given this mindset which does not really take the Jews of Israel seriously as a community, the only evident way to change this approach may be to develop and emphasize the Jewish roots of the Jewish people in Israel. Judaism is undoubtedly indigenous to the Middle East and even the Arabs admit that it predated Islam. If the people of Israel were to acknowledge and embrace their Jewish roots as individuals and as a society, it would be an irrefutable reply to the Moslem perception of the Jewish community in Israel as an alien transplant.

Such an eventuality would force the Arabs to confront the Jewish people in the Land of Israel as an historical reality that they must come to terms with. But unless and until that happens, it is we who must confront the reality of an historically patient Arab world, confident that time is on their side and that there is no need for them to make concessions, big or small.

A people without faith, without roots in the Middle East, without any deep reason to be here, will not survive here indefinitely. Only the Torah community, and especially those who toil in Torah, are the bulwark even against the outside forces that are a great long-term threat to Jewish survival in the Land of Israel.

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