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
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
"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
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.