One of the greatest problems in the Jewish–Arab Conflict—and beyond, as the reactions to the terrorist attacks in Boston and Woolwich show—is the lack of respect accorded to our enemies.
That’s right, that wasn’t a mistake in thinking or typing: Our enemies. It has become politically correct not to respect them for what they are.
Our enemies are human beings. They should be respected as human beings, adult human beings with fully mature mental and emotional capacities. They are not children, much less animals acting on nothing more than instinct or micro-organisms reacting to external chemical stimuli.
Human beings have their good and evil sides. They have their desires sublime and base; they have their greed, together with the moral justification to soothe the pangs of conscience resulting from that greed.
We have read about the colonial exploits of the West. In fact, we can’t stop hearing about them, even though the West decolonized its possessions, not to mention abolished slavery, sometimes at a huge cost as in 19th-century America. Slavery was ended, and decolonization was all but completed about thirty years ago.
Yet there are many people who would have us believe that Western colonialism is ongoing—with Zionism, Jewish nationalism, depicted as being an integral part of it, in a monstrous feat of denialism—and that colonialist greed and imperialist expansionism is a Western-only thing. That all the terrorism since 1979 or so can be explained only as a reaction to it.
The most politically incorrect idea one could suggest today is that the terrorist attacks committed by Islamic jihadists stem from their own free, imperialistic will, having nothing to do with the West’s colonial past or Israel’s Big-O Occupation or anything like that.
It’s politically incorrect, but it respects our enemies as human beings. It respects them as free agents with their own consciousness and—gasp—responsibility for their actions.
The British had imperial dreams in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Germans had imperial dreams in the 20th century. For over thirteen centuries, imperial dreams—the imperialist vision of a world under the rule of Islamic law, shariah—have animated the Muslim world. It is to be acknowledge and understood; they are only human.
Yes, most of them want to live happily and in plenty with their families. But why commit a bifurcation fallacy? When the Great Depression dragged on in the 1930s, the German man in the street wanted out of that catastrophe, and also thought that the plans of a certain Austrian painter would achieve exactly that. Today, with Egypt for example in economic ruin, what better way for the man in the Cairo street to enjoy a life of material abundance than steal the riches of the successful neighboring Jewish state, and also please Allah in the process?
Our enemies are not reacting to anything Israel has done, although they trumpet it as an excuse. The Land of Israel a.k.a. Palestine is coveted by them simply because there are riches to be looted and a perceived humiliation of the Arab nation or Islamic ummah to be remedied—the humiliation of having a hole in the territorial entitlement of the Master Religion. Theirs is the aggression—of their initiative, of their accord, of their authorship. Imperial dreams is what they have, just as Alexander of Macedon had them. It is only human.
And there is a flip side to all of this.
We can be victims of imperialist designs. We can have our lands colonized. And some (many?) of us, when that happens, can react to such threats.
Israeli Jews of the 1970s onward have been raised on the idea that land-for-peace deals are possible and viable. The deal with Egypt was especially encouraging. The Oslo Accords of 1993 had their vocal detractors but a majority of supporters, a majority that held out through the 1990s.
But when Arabs of both pre- and post-1967 Israel launch an Intifada in October 2000 just after Ehud Barak’s unprecedented offer, and Kassam rockets keep raining on Sderot after the evacuation of all Jewish population centers in the Gaza region in August 2005, and Israel’s north gets missiles from a totally Israeli troops-free Lebanon in July 2006, and Turkey stabs us in the back with a flotilla of terrorists, and in Egypt the Muslim Brotherhood (whose Palestine chapter is Hamas) rises to power—
When all that happens, in plain sight of everybody in Israel, what’s an Israeli Jew with a functioning brain to think? The anti-Zionists justify an Arab colonist’s support for suicide-murder for much less (“The occupation radicalized him”), but when an Israeli Jew dares to begin suggesting our enemies may have imperialist designs on us, that can be nothing but Big-R Racism. An Israeli Jew who has lost his relatives in a terrorist attack is still “racist” for expressing doubts about the viability of a peace process as conventionally conceived.
Call us racists if you will, anti-Zionists. One thing you should know, however, is that it goes back to poke you in the eye. You’re the racists here, the bigots who look at a group of people with absolute contempt for their humanity, and I’m not talking about the Israeli Jews, I’m talking about Israel’s enemies (and indeed jihadists worldwide like the Tsarnaevs and the Woolwich murderer). You don’t think of them as human beings at all. According to you, they’re nothing but dumb oxen who have no choice but to gore others when provoked.
I don’t buy that anymore. A lot of my fellow countrymen don’t, either. We respect our enemies as human beings, with all that that classification entails, including the susceptibility to imperial dreams. Zionism is based on the rightness and justice of the Jews having a state on their one and only piece of land in the world, and the Arab/Muslim anti-Zionism that we have had to contend with for about 120 years is the result of imperialist greed, of the willful and very human coveting of our one and only sheep and vineyard by those who already have an abundance of sheep and vineyards to themselves.
Our enemies deserve to be respected for what they are; our survival demands that we accord them such respect.