A WAR AMERICA CAN'T WIN
By Prof. Paul Eidelberg
America can’t win the war against global terrorism because the U.S. has mistakenly identified the enemy. The enemy is nothing less than Islam, and democratic, multicultural America is conceptually incapable of conquering such an enemy.
We have here a “clash of civilizations” of world-historical significance. The United States, including its intellectual elites, obscure this fact by defining the enemy as “Islamic fundamentalism,” supposedly an extremist aspect of Islam. But as I shall here show, what is called “Islamic fundamentalism” is authentic Islam, now resurgent.
First, consider a booklet entitled Arab Theologians on Jews and Israel (1971) edited by D.F. Green. The booklet is a 76-page condensation of a 951-page volume containing papers presented at “The Fourth Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research” of Al Azhar University in Cairo (1968). Al Azhar University, it should be emphasized, is the Harvard of the Islamic world. The university is attached to the office of the President of Egypt and unofficially represents the theological-political position of that country and most of the Arab-Islamic world.
Delegates from 24 countries attended the conference: Algeria, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Nigeria, Philippines, Russia, Senegal, Sierra-Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Togoland, Turkey, Uganda, Yemen, and Yugoslavia.
Some 22 papers were presented by Islamic theologians and professors. The papers frequently denote Jews as the “Enemies of God” or the “Enemies of humanity.” One paper refers to Jews as “the dogs of humanity.” The Bible of Israel is referred to in pejorative terms. Jews, we are told, deserve the hatred and persecution of all the peoples with whom they have come into contact—and this was said in full awareness of the Nazi Holocaust! Also, the State of Israel is described as a culmination of historical and cultural depravity.
This was not a conference of “Islamic fundamentalists,” unless Islamic fundamentalism is the nature of Islam!
Second, while delegates from Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria were preparing for the U.S. sponsored Madrid Middle East Peace Conference of October 31, 1991, delegates from these same countries and from dozens of other Islamic regimes were attending the “International Conference to Support the Islamic Revolution of Palestine” held in Teheran ten days earlier. All the delegates signed 28 resolutions issued by this conference, resolutions hostile not only to Israel, but to the United States. For example, Resolution 3 calls for the “elimination of the Zionist existence.” Resolution 15 “strongly condemns the extensive presence of the U.S. in the sensitive region of the Persian Gulf.” Resolution 16 “considers the migration of Soviet Jews to Palestine … an attempt to alter its [the Middle East’s] … Islamic identity.” Resolution 22 emphasizes “the need for an all-out jihad against the Zionist regime.” Egypt signed those resolutions, despite its peace treaty with Israel and despite its being the recipient of American aid! This was not a conference of “Islamic fundamentalists” or of any single Islamic sect—Sunni, Shi’ite, or Wahabbi.
Third, allow me to paraphrase and quote at length from an article written by Norman Podhoretz in the Wall Street Journal (September 20, 2001). There we learn that a Professor Fouad Ajami, an American who grew up as a Muslim in Lebanon, has been insisting for years that “the great refusal” to accept Israel—under any conditions whatever—persists in the Arab world among ordinary men and women, as well as among intellectuals. Moreover, “the force of this refusal can be seen in the press of the governments and of the oppositionists, among the secularists and the Islamists alike, in countries that have concluded diplomatic agreements with Israel and those that haven't.” Furthermore, “Mr. Ajami adds that the great refusal ‘remains fiercest in Egypt,’ notwithstanding the peace treaty it has signed with Israel.” Nor is this all.
“Only about two weeks before the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Ab'd Al-Mun'im Murad, a columnist in Al-Akhbar, a daily newspaper sponsored by the Egyptian government, wrote: ‘The conflict that we call the Arab-Israeli conflict is, in truth an Arab conflict with Western, and particularly American, colonialism….” America, said the same writer in another piece, is seeking to impose hegemony on the Arab world.
In a third piece, also published in late August, Mr. Murad declared: “The Statue of Liberty, in New York Harbor, must be destroyed ... The age of the American collapse has begun.” This, from an Arab country that everyone regards as “moderate.” No wonder “radical” states like Iraq and Iran identify America as the “Great Satan.”
Mr. Podhoretz logically concludes: “if Israel had never come into existence, or if it were magically to disappear, the United States would still stand as an embodiment of everything that most these Arabs consider evil. Indeed, the hatred of Israel is in large part a surrogate for anti-Americanism. Israel is seen as the spearhead of the American drive for domination over the Middle East. The Jewish state is a translation, as it were, of America into Hebrew—the ‘little enemy,’ the ‘little Satan’—and to rid the region of it would thus be tantamount to cleansing an area belonging to Islam (Dar-al-Islam) of the blasphemous political, social, and cultural influences emanating from a barbaric and murderous force [i.e., America].”
Podhoretz warns: “We have all been repeatedly instructed in the past few days that suicide bombing, whether in Jerusalem or New York, represents a perversion of Islam fostered by a tiny minority of fundamentalists. This may well be so. Yet it is also true that exhortations to and celebrations of this tactic by leading Muslim clerics, notably in Egypt and within the Palestinian Authority, have for some time now drowned out the few lonely protests against it.”
”Is it any wonder,” he continues, “that so many youngsters were dancing in the streets of East Jerusalem and Ramallah, when in textbooks published by the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Education, and in use this very school year, seventh-graders were being taught that Islam ‘will defeat all other religions and it will be disseminated, by Allah's will, through the Muslim jihad [holy war] fighters’? So, too, 11th-graders were taught that Western civilization ‘has begun to collapse and to become a pile of rubble.’ A pile of rubble: the sight of the World Trade Center reduced to endless tons of debris must have seemed the fulfillment of a prophecy to young minds poisoned by such teachings.”
Pity that Mr. Podhoretz does not elaborate on his statement that Islam perceives Israel as a spearhead of America’s drive to dominate the Middle East. If Israel is a spearhead of American imperialism, it can only be such as a secular democratic state as opposed to a truly Jewish or Torah-oriented state. For it is primarily as a secular democratic state that Israel threatens the religio-political power structure of the Islamic world. To identify Israel with the West, however, is misleading. Just what does the West stand for, and why is it anathema to Islam?
The West exalts the individual, and it conceives of the state as a giant insurance agency to promote the individual’s comfort and security. In other words, the primary function of the state is not to cultivate virtue or morality but to foster freedom and material prosperity. In the West, therefore, religion is a private matter, divorced from public law. Contrast the world of Islam. There personal and political freedom are unknown. There the state is all-powerful. Its primary function is to serve Allah by imbuing people with the moral and religious teachings of the Koran. There poverty is endemic.
The World Trade Center represented the pinnacle of wealth. Like the Tower of Babel, it symbolized human power and invention. The Twin Towers were monuments of scientific technology in stark contrast to pre-industrial, feudal Islam.
The destruction of the Twin Towers by suicide bombers reveals the unbridgeable gap between the West’s preoccupation with the things of this world and Islam’s concern with the world hereafter. While the West pursues a life of pleasure here and now, Islam is infatuated with death as the entry to eternal bliss—Paradise.
Multicultural America is incapable of winning a war against this kind of enemy. It lacks the concepts, the understanding, and the staying power required to win such a war. President Bush called the destruction of the World Trade Center a “cowardly” act, when, in truth, it was an act of dauntless courage. He called this act “senseless,” when in fact it was well-calculated to humble America, to uplift Islamic pride, to glorify Allah.
To attribute this monstrous act to Islamic fundamentalism, or to a network of terrorists led by Osama bin Laden, minimizes the profundity and magnitude of the conflict. True, Islamic states were held responsible for harboring these terrorists. But this tacitly indicates that the so-called war against global terrorism implicates Islam as a whole: there is hardly an Islamic state that does not provide a haven for Arab terrorists. Yet, to make a mockery of the World Trade Center disaster, the U.S. has invited Islamic regimes and even arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat to join the war against international terrorism!
President Bush calls this a war between good and evil. And so it is. But the United States and the West have long been silent about evil, indeed, have honored the personification of evil, again, Yasser Arafat. Hence the U.S. is far from being simply good. Besides, American cultural imperialism is vulgarizing much of the world, undermining moral and religious values.
And then there is Washington’s mindless support of Oslo, which has resulted in the murder of more than 700 Jews—an enormous number for a small country like Israel. True, Oslo is primarily the product of Westernized or secularized Jews. In fact, the Israeli architects of Oslo were animated by one ultimate objective, and that is to destroy Israel as a Jewish state and to transform it into miniature, multicultural America! Yet, I shall argue that only Israel, as an authentic Jewish state, can resolve the conflict between Islam and the West.
Because America has enormous economic interests in the Islamic Middle East, this alone will undermine its war against Islamic terrorism. Besides, there are more than forty Muslim states and more than one billion Muslims on this planet; they are not going to be cowed by America. And they will find support from Russia and China, whatever Moscow and Beijing may say.
To win this war, America would have to bring about—beyond its capacity—a Reformation of Islam. Muslims would have to renounce the principle of jihad. Islam would then cease to be a militant and expansionist creed. It would have to recognize, as does the Bible of Israel, that God creates nations as well as individuals, and that the independence of diverse nations, above all Israel, is to be respected so long as they observe the Seven Noahide Laws of Universal Morality or ethical monotheism—to which Islam is far from being consistent.
Moreover, Islamic autocracies, without separating religion and state, would have to become republics with institutional checks and balances. On the one hand, they would no longer be corporate states in which the individual has no unalienable rights. On the other hand, the rights of individuals would not be exalted at the expense of religious-based morality. This means that freedom would have ethical constraints, and equality would be an elevating principle, rather than a leveling principle that nowadays undermines deference and excellence. Thus conceived, an Islamic republic would introduce an ethical market economy. This would promise an end to the poverty prevalent in the Islamic world. It would promote creativity and the development of a middle class, a precondition of a moderate and stable republic.
From this it should be obvious that the worldwide influence of American pop culture is indeed a threat to the Islamic world. Notwithstanding its many virtues, American democracy has serious vices. It took the destruction of the World Trade Center to overcome, for the time being, the moral relativism that permeates American society. This doctrine removes all restraints on freedom and thereby fosters hedonism and vulgarity. The same doctrine generates an indiscriminate egalitarianism that places all individuals or groups—all lifestyles—on the same level regardless of their ethical character.
To the extent that Israel has imported these vices, it will be perceived as a spearhead of American cultural imperialism. If, however, Israel were true to the Torah and became an authentic Jewish state, then Islam, I maintain, would undergo a transformation comparable to that outlined above. Let me explain
Israel was created to be a light unto the nations, and it was placed here in the Middle East to be the synthesis of East and West. Unlike the East, which subordinates the individual to the state, and unlike the West, which reduces the community to an aggregation of individuals having no purpose transcending their own egos, Israel avoids both extremes. This can be seen via the Torah concept of malchus. Here I rely on Rabbi Matis Weinberg (Patterns in Time - Chanukah, pp. 106-107).
Malchus, which literally means kingship, involves an organizational structure that unites individuality and community and, at the same time, reconciles transience and permanence. “Malchus is a structure, broad enough to allow each detail to be not only itself, but also an essential part of a totality. It creates broader potential by opening the world for the individual and providing him expanded significance.”
Malchus is a concept, not a person. A king has no separate existence of his own. Rather, he comes to be the equivalent of the entire society of which he is an expression—its visions, its values, its lifestyles. “He becomes the identification of an era; a reference point in history.”
“The power of malchus is a function of the individuality of the parts and the strength of the bonds between them.” Weinberg illustrates this individuality by referring to the manner in which the tribes of Israel were encamped in the desert: “And Bil’am lifted his eyes and saw Yisrael according to its tribes… How goodly are your tents, Yaakov, your dwellings, Yisrael” (Numbers 24:2,5), to which Rashi comments: “He saw each tribe dwelling individually without blurring [their differences] and saw how no doorway would face another, preserving privacy.”
Weinberg reinforces this commentary by referring to the unique character of Israel’s census in the desert: “Being numbered is part of establishing the interrelatedness of individuals to the klal [the community]. But counting usually strips individuality; people want to be a ‘name, not a number.’ No other nation totals by name, assigning positions of importance at the very same moment that the individual is counted among the klal. Our census is taken ... [as] ‘the number of names.’” This renders Israel, like no other nation, a “kingdom of noblemen,” “a malchus which is the expression of components of intense individual significance; components of nobility.”
When Israel again becomes a malchus, Islam will undergo a healthy and friendly transformation. For apart from any other purpose, the hostility of Islam serves as an instrument of God to chastise Israel for its unfaithfulness to the Torah, given at Sinai not merely for the Jews, but ultimately for all mankind.
Professor Paul Eidelberg a Political scientist, author and lecturer is the co-founder and president of The Foundation For Constitutional Democracy with offices in Jerusalem and Washington, DC.Professor Eidelberg was born in Brooklyn, New York. From high school he enlisted in the United States Air Force where he held the rank of first lieutenant. He received his doctoral degree in political science at the University of Chicago. While studying at the University, he designed and constructed the electronics system for the first brain scanner used at the Argonne Cancer Research Hospital.Professor Eidelberg wrote a trilogy on the statesmanship of America'sfounding fathers: On the Silence of the Declaration of Independence; The Philosophy of the American Constitution, and A Discourse on Statesmanship.Eidelberg joined Israel's Bar-Ilan University faculty in 1976. He haswritten several books on the Arab-Israel conflict and on Judaism:Demophrenia provides a psychological analysis of Israel's foreign policy. Jerusalem versus Athens and Beyond the Secular Mind apply Jewish concepts for an understanding of modern problems. Judaic Man develops concepts for a Jewish psychology. His most recent book, Jewish Statesmanship: Lest Israel Fall, provides the philosophical and institutional foundations for reconstructing the State of Israel. It has also been published in Hebrew and in Russian.Professor Eidelberg is on the Editorial Board of Israel's premier journalNativ, as well as on the Advisory Council of the Ariel Center for PolicyResearch. He has written more than 800 articles for newspapers andscholarly journals in the United States and Israel.Eidelberg has lectured before Israel's Foreign Office and has writtenpolicy papers for various Knesset Members. He chaired a panel discussion on the topic "Why Israel Needs a Constitution" at the 1997 American Political Science Association conference in Washington, DC. He has drafted a Constitution for Israel which has been published in Hebrew and Russian.During the past two years, Professor Eidelberg has been conducting seminars on constitutions, diverse parliamentary electoral systems, Jewish law, and related topics at the Jerusalem center of the Foundation for Constitutional Democracy.Address:P.O. Box 23702Jerusalem 91236 IsraelTel. 972-2-586-1297; 972-54-928621; Fax: 972-2-586-0141;E-Mail: [email protected]