The one aspect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that no one wants to talk about.
President Trump unveiled his long-awaited “Deal of the Century” plan Tuesday afternoon, offering Palestinians a state and fifty billion dollars. Predictably enough, the Palestinians and their supporters are enraged. The way they have expressed that rage is a new indication of why all peace plans up to now have failed, and why all future plans are doomed to fail.
An Islamic Republic press organ, the Tehran Times, reported that “Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani on Wed., in a letter sent to the Parliament speakers of the Islamic states, urged Islamic countries to counter US-proposed so-called ‘Deal of Century.’”’
According to the Jerusalem Post Tuesday, Islamic State (ISIS) caliph Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi “called on all Muslims worldwide to thwart US President Donald Trump’s peace plan, and added that ‘The Muslims who live in Palestine… will be at the forefront of the fight against the Jews [and] foiling the ‘Deal of the Century.’”
And in Turkey, according to Yeni Afuk, “Turkish demonstrators poured onto streets across the country on Tuesday to protest U.S. President Donald Trump’s long-awaited Middle East peace plan….Many protesters at the rally held placards bearing slogans reading, ‘Jerusalem belongs to Islam.’”
Even before the plan was announced, the official Palestinian Authority daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida on Monday declared that the Palestinian National Council “again expressed its objection to every plan, project, deal, or attempt to harm the Palestinian people’s inalienable rights.” It called upon the PLO to “take all the necessary steps to encourage and escalate the resistance and the struggle against the occupation in all its forms and manners.” Jihad is “struggle” in Arabic.
“Islamic states” should counter the plan. “Muslims worldwide” should work to thwart it. “Jerusalem belongs to Islam.” Palestinians should escalate their “jihad.”
This is the one aspect of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict that mainstream Western analysts routinely dismiss or ignore: Islam. This is a disastrous exercise in willful ignorance, as the Palestinian jihadis and their supporters constantly frame their war against Israel in Islamic terms, as The Palestinian Delusion: The Catastrophic History of the Middle East Peace Process shows.
It’s easy to understand, albeit inexcusable, why the Islamic aspect of the conflict is routinely ignored. The Qur’an commands Muslims to “drive them out from where they drove you out” (2:191), and even though it is a historical fiction that Israel actually drove Muslim Arabs out, this claim is a staple of pro-Palestinian propaganda, and hence it is a divine imperative, no more negotiable than the Ten Commandments are for Jews and Christians, that Muslims must destroy Israel and “drive out” the Israelis.
That means that no negotiated settlement will ever establish Israel securely and end the jihad against it, and that’s why analysts ignore Islam when considering the conflict: people don’t like bad news, or problems that cannot be solved. Nonetheless, this is the reality of the situation, and no good can ever come from ignoring reality.
In light of the role of Islam in the conflict, a Palestinian state would simply be a new base for more jihad attacks against Israel, as the withdrawal from Gaza demonstrated. Its establishment would not bring peace. The idea that Palestinians or their allies and supporters will ever sincerely accept Israel’s right to exist is a pipe dream. In light of that, it is easy to see why Abbas so contemptuously dismissed the plan before it was even announced: Trump declared: “To ensure a successful Palestinian state, we are asking the Palestinians to meet the challenges of peaceful coexistence. This includes adopting basic laws enshrining human rights, protecting against financial and political corruption, stopping the malign activities of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other enemies of peace, ending the incitement of hatred against Israel – so important – and permanently halting the financial compensation to terrorists.” Not gonna happen.
The refusal of analysts of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to face the role of Islamic theology in the conflict is astonishingly naïve and ethnocentric. The Palestinians and their supporters will never accept the Trump peace plan because of Islamic imperatives that mandate that Islam must dominate and not be dominated, and that any land that once was ruled by Islamic law must be ruled by Islamic law forever. Unless and until these facts are taken into account, every peace plan is foredoomed.