Friday, January 30, 2009

Matt 24 Watch, 78: Lessons of history, the post-colonial narrative and the IslamIST challenge to our region

Santayana warns us that if we neglect the lessons of history, we are doomed to repeat its worst chapters.

His second lesson is grimly sardonic: by and large, we neglect the lessons of history. That is why we so often repeat what Barbara Tuchman aptly called "the march of folly." (Of course, she balances this with the equally true observation that because what makes for bad news is more likely to be remarked, we tend to percieve both history and current events as more dire than is strictly warranted.)

However, the reality of the march of folly is plain enough that we need to heed the ANC's classic motto: understand the past, act in the present, build the future. For, as the Russian proverb admonishes: dwell on the past, you lose an eye; forget the past, you lose both your eyes.

Thus, we come back to one of the treasures of my personal library, Alistair Horne's To Lose a Battle.

Horne there paints an opening scene on Sunday afternoon, July 13, 1919, as the crowds and the participants prepared for what was at once the grandest and saddest, most bittersweet Bastille Day ever. For, on that Monday, France (which had lost 1.4 million men) and the other Victorious Allies jointly celebrated their costly victory over the Central Powers of the Great War of 1914 - 1918.

But already, the Third Republic was falling into bickering and divided counsels, and the Versailles Treaty was such that Marshall Foch refused to sign on to it, declaring that "this is not peace, it is a twenty-years truce." Also, a bitter Austrian [Lance-]Corporal who had fought in the German Army was practising his oratorical and political skills, being paid by the German Army to spy on the German Workers Party that he had joined and was soon a leading activist in.

(The party was initially little more than a beer-drinking and grousing club, as was common at the time in defeated, half-starving Germany. However, by 1923, one of the leading Generals had lent it his name: Erich Ludendorff. And, under a new name, it was soon implicated in a coup attempt; the aptly named Munich beer hall Putsch. The new name? National Socialist German Workers' Party, Nazi for short. [And yes, Nazism, strictly, was a statist, leftist ideology; one smart enough to ally itself with the leading cartels and the military -- instead of threatening to put them on show trials and shoot them.] The former Corporal, Hitler, turned his trial into a stinging indictment of the postwar German Republic, and took time in prison to write a book on his struggles; in which he laid out his intent of "survival of the fittest"-inspired conquest and even hinted at genocide. Few-- apart from Churchill -- listened.)

Then, in 1939, Marshall Foch's prediction came true and a divided France, led by mutually discredited men and with an army led by tired men from the last war, faced Hitler's Panzers [including -- thanks to the ill advised "peace in our time," "land for peace" Munich Pact of 1938 that handed Czechoslovakia's defenses over to Hitler -- several hundred purloined Czech LT 35's and LT 38's] , 88 mm anti-aircraft and anti-tank cannon, Messerschmitt Bf 109 Fighters and Ju 87 Stuka dive-bombers. France lost this time around -- in six weeks altogether (the decisive breakthrough battle and following tank dash to the English Channel under Guderian, Rommel et al taking about a week) -- and the allies suffered a devastating defeat that evicted the surviving allies from continental Europe. Soon, Mussolini's Fascist Italy joined with Hitler; and, Britain had to rely on Indian, Australian, New Zealander and South African troops to resist Axis advances in the Middle East. Next, in 1941, Hitler came within an ace of knocking Communist-led Russia out of the war, and in 1941 - 42, Japan joined in, carrying out a stunning sweep across the Pacific Ocean and Indo-China, right up to the doors of India.

With that, the era of unchallenged western domination of the globe -- for the first time since Jan III Sobieski of Poland led his winged hussars and other cavalry in a desperate charge against the Turks at the gates of Vienna, Sept 12, 1683 -- was over.

And so, we come to the present post-colonial era, in which the United Nations charter provides the umbrella for nationalism and liberation from colonial rule, until today there are over 200 independent member-states of the UN. But also, we went straight from one world war to another: the Cold War, in which Communists used national liberation struggles to push on the global stage the concept that was summarised by Saul Alinski in his 1971 Rules for Radicals:
"A Marxist begins with his prime truth that all evils are caused by the exploitation of the proletariat by the capitalists. [NB: Lenin's "definition" of Imperialism is: the export of capital [implicit: backed up by gunboats] i.e. this (plainly deeply flawed) Marxist thesis also takes in the issue of decolonialisation.] From this he logically proceeds to the revolution to end capitalism, then into the third stage of reorganization into a new social order of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and finally the last stage -- the political paradise of communism." p.10
Of course, between 1989 and 1991, Communism collapsed as a global force, exposing the story of the rise of the Marxism-inspired agitator class as the most ruthless dictators in history, with over 100 millions dead due to their tyranny.

However, the Marxist view has deeply coloured post-Colonial discourse, and the intelligentsia habitually think in terms of the Capitalist West's ruling classes -- especially those who ate not socialists of one stripe or another -- as the prime locus of political, economic, social and environmental evils in the world across time and today. This even extends to the way we view the past of 1,000 years ago. For instance, Bostom reports how the crusades are frequently viewed as the first imperialistic project of the Christianised West, by citing Alan Riding [at pop culture level] and John Esposito [at academic level]:
...[The C]rusades were waged, [by] European monarchs, lords, knights and their armies of devout followers to fight — and settle — in an area stretching between what is today Syria and Egypt. The Muslims responded [emphasis added] with their own sporadic jihads until finally, by 1291, the Christians had been driven out.' [Riding, Review of ''Kingdom of Heaven,'' NYT, April 24, 2005]

Five centuries of peaceful coexistence elapsed before political events and an imperial—papal power play led to centuries—long series of so—called holy wars [emphasis added] that pitted Christendom against Islam and left an enduring legacy of misunderstanding and distrust. [Esposito, Islam The Straight Path, New York, 1994; cited, Bat Ye'or.]
This turns the history on its head, using the "he hit back first" fallacy. For in fact, under Mohammed and his early successors, between 622 and 732, Islam expanded by that religiously rationalised military conquest known as jihad, from Yathrib, in the Hejaz [S W Arabia; now known as Medina] to within 150 miles of Paris in the West, and to India in the East. They were only stopped and then with great difficulty over centuries turned back by force, in both the East and the West; a process that includes the crusades, which -- as problematic and wrongful in many ways as they were -- were in fact directly provoked by continual raids into Christian Europe (including Rome itself) and the rise of a new wave of militancy occasioned by the Islamised Seljuk Turks, which led to invasions of Anatolia [Modern Turkey], and preying on Christian pilgrims in the Holy land.

As Bostom summarises:

Within several centuries of Muhammad's death in 632 C.E., based upon the 'proto—jihad' campaigns he waged in Arabia, Muslim jurists and theologians formulated the institution of permanent jihad war against non—Muslims for the submission of the known world to Islam.

The essential pattern of the jihad war is captured in the great Muslim historian al—Tabari's recording of the recommendation given by Umar b. al—Khattab to the commander of the troops he sent to al—Basrah (636 C.E.), during the conquest of Iraq. Umar (the second 'Rightly Guided Caliph') reportedly said: [7]

Summon the people to God; those who respond to your call, accept it from them, (This is to say, accept their conversion as genuine and refrain from fighting them) but those who refuse must pay the poll tax out of humiliation and lowliness. (Qur'an 9:29) If they refuse this, it is the sword without leniency. Fear God with regard to what you have been entrusted.

Jihad was pursued century after century, because jihad, which means 'to strive in the path of Allah,' embodied an ideology and a jurisdiction. Both were formally conceived by Muslim jurisconsults and theologians from the 8th to 9th centuries onward, based on their interpretation of Qur'anic verses [8] (for e.g., 9:5,6; 9:29; 4:76—79; 2: 214—15; 8:39—42), and long chapters in the Traditions (i.e., 'hadith', acts and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, especially those recorded by al—Bukhari [d. 869] [9] and Muslim [d. 874] [10]).
So, if we will heed the lessons of history, recent and remote, we should soberly recognise the ideological and military implications of IslamISM in our time, motivated by Quranic texts such as :
9:5 [the Sword Verse -- an Islamic title] When the sacred months are over slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and render the alms levy, allow them to go their way. God [i.e. Allah] is forgiving and merciful.

[. . . . ]

9:29 [the verse of Tribute -- likewise an Islamic title] Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued. (Yusuf Ali).
However, the lesson does not stop there, for in the Hamas Charter, 1988, we may read some disturbing news for us in the Caribbean, once we factor in the further [yes, disputable and even dubious, but history proves that such mere "academic" quibbles do not faze ideologues] arguments of Dr Sultana Afroz of UWI's History Department.

First, Hamas:
[Article 12] . . . the enemy has trampled on Muslim soil. In such a situation, launching a holy war [against] him and confronting him become the personal duty [fardh ‘ayn] of every Muslim man and woman: the woman goes out to fight [the enemy] without her husband’s permission, and [even] the slave [is obliged to go out to fight the enemy] without the permission of his master. There is nothing like it in any other political system, and that is an indisputable fact . . . .

[Article 15] The day enemies steal part of Muslim land, jihad [becomes] the personal duty of every Muslim. With regard to the usurpation of Palestine by the Jews, it is a must to fly the banner of jihad. That means the propagation of Islamic awareness among the masses – locally [in Palestine], the Arab world and the Muslim world. The spirit of jihad must be disseminated within the [Islamic] nation, the enemies must be engaged in battle and [every Muslim must] join the ranks of the jihad warriors [mujahidee].
In that light, how then should we interpret Dr Afroz's assertions? For, it is inferred [by Afroz] that the majority of Jamaicans are descended from Islamic Moors [by a process of expanding "Moor" from the OED's peoples of mixed Arab and (Caucasian) Berber ancestry, to include the Negroes of Africa who may have had any significant contact with Islam; cf my discussion here] who were brought here as slaves by the Spanish or the British, so that:
“[c]ontemporaneous to the autonomous Muslim Maroon ummah, hundreds of thousands of Mu’minun (the Believers of the Islamic faith) of African descent worked as slaves on the plantations in Jamaica.” [“The Jihad of 1831–1832: The Misunderstood Baptist Rebellion in Jamaica,” Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, Vol. 21, No. 2, 2001, p. 227. (Provably false, as the some 300,000 slaves in Jamaica at Emancipation were mostly Animist, and then increasingly Christian, often of Baptist persuasion. The Maroons, similarly, per the main weight of the historical and anthropological evidence were overwhelmingly animist, not Islamic. Even the fact that the Maroons, since Spanish times, were famous for Jerked Pork, is a relevant counter-example. Cf. rebutting discussion
by Prof Maureen Warner-Lewis.)]
Specifically, the Maroons are viewed as resisting the British invaders of 1655 by jihad, as Saladin resisted and finally defeated Richard the Lion Heart and the other Crusaders in the Middle East. Slave revolts, similarly, are reinterpreted by Dr. Afroz as jihads, especially the 1831/2 “Baptist War” rebellion:

Jihad became the religious and political ideology of these crypto-Muslims, who became members of the various denominational nonconformist churches since being sprinkled with the water by the rectors of the parishes. Despite the experience of the most cruel servitude and the likelihood of a swift and ruthless suppression of the rebellion, the spiritually inspired Mu’minun collectively responded to the call for an island-wide jihad in 1832. Commonly known as the Baptist Rebellion, the Jihad of 1832 wrought havoc of irreparable dimension to the plantation system and hastened the Emancipation Act of 1833. [Afroz, p. 227. NB: This set of claims is most improbable .]

Thus, it is concluded by Islamic advocates that the Caribbean’s ancestral and cultural roots are largely Islamic. Islam, then, seeks cultural legitimacy in the Caribbean as being linked to our predominantly African identity, which is specifically tied to an emphasis on jihad as military struggle. On this basis, Caribbean peoples are in effect invited to turn away from both secularism and the Christian religion of our oppressors, and “return” to Islam.

Now, in Jihad, the first phase is an invitation, sometimes called the Dawah: however artfully or persuasively put, strictly, it is the call to surrender from rebellion against Allah and his prophet, law and warriors, on pain of military attack.

So, we are evidently in the preliminary -- often apparently "peaceful" -- phase of the Jihad
against the Caribbean.

A jihad that is in Islamist eyes, rendered more intense by the direct implications of the Afroz claim that Jamaica in particular is "Muslim soil" captured by crusade and with the Muslim inhabitants compelled to "convert" by force and ruthless propaganda. And, that claim extends by rather direct implication to the other originally Spanish settled islands [and onward to Mexico and Latin America]. Then, too, by virtue of the further claim that the slaves of the Caribbean [and by extension North and South America] were predominantly Muslim, the claim also extends to the other islands settled and colonised by the British, the French, the Dutch or even the Danes [i.e what is now USVI].

So, whether or not we wish it to be so, the Caribbean is now a theatre of operations in the current global IslamIST Jihad to finally subjugate the world under dar ul Islam in this Century. [Cf map here. (NB: I personally saw and first archived this striking -- and very disturbing -- map and the associated, even more disturbing, commentary -- when it was live on the Internet.)]

Now of course, we here must in all fairness make and underscore a valid distinction between the peaceful majority of Muslims, and the radicalised minority of IslamISTS; indeed, let us hope that the moderates can prevail in the debates within Islam over its history of supremacism, militaristic expansionism and oppression of subject peoples and women.

But in so doing, let us not forget the warning of a few days ago on a related lesson of recent history:
I used to know a man whose family were German aristocracy prior to World War II. They owned a number of large industries and estates. I asked him how many German people were true Nazis, and the answer he gave has stuck with me and guided my attitude toward fanaticism ever since.

“Very few people were true Nazis,” he said, “but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.” . . . .

The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history. It is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars world wide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or execute honor killings. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals. The hard, quantifiable fact is that the “peaceful majority” is the “silent majority,” and it is cowed and extraneous.

. . . . Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by the fanatics. Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence. Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don’t speak up, because, like my friend from Germany, they will awaken one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun.
(And, worse, [courtesy a certain reader of this blog] we now have a video warning here [warning, has graphic violence elements], on what tends to happen as the Radicalised Muslim population trends ever upward in a country. [Some may wish to dismiss this as alarmist rubbish, but it would be wise to check out the claimed facts first; starting with the striking correlation between the claims and the world news headlines ocver the past few years.])

So, now, history seems to be speaking to us, yet once again.

What are we going to do about its lessons, how, and why? END

UPDATE, 02:02:
Minor cleanups.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Matt 24 Watch, 77: On the Black Flag Armies and the importance of learning from an all but forgotten recent past of totalitarianism

NB: Since this post continues to be discussed in an English Language Islamic forum, I link updated thoughts as at Feb 3, 2012; here. Also, cf. wider thoughts here. Also, kindly watch Mr Netanyahu's recent address to the UN in reply to Mr Abbas, a grim warning of what is on the table.

This morning I read a sadly revealing commentary by American Talk Show host, Dennis Prager that has given me much food for thought.

In the column, he described a brief conversation he recently had -- on a commercial airline flight! -- with a young University of California Santa Barbara co-ed:
She: What brings you to Denver?
Me: I am giving a speech.
She: What do you do?
Me: I'm a radio talk-show host.
She: Who did you vote for?
Me: McCain
She: Why?
Me: Smaller government and the war on terror.
She: Terror is the new communism.
Me: Communism killed about a hundred million people. And who do you think attacked and killed 3,000 of us on Sept. 11?
She: The [US] government.
Prager aptly comments:
. . . she had to be a student at a major university. She would never have come up with "Terror is the new communism" on her own. [In the sense she intended it, i]t is a moral obscenity that one has to learn . . . . At most universities, communism is a non-evil, indeed, largely a non-issue. The most enslaving and murderous movement in history is almost never taught as such. When communism is mentioned at all, it is usually solely in order to show how vile anti-communists were. Thus, as little as students may know about McCarthyism, most students far more readily identify it with evil than they do communism . . . .

Does one in 10,000 students know of the communist terror-famine that took about 6 million Ukrainian lives? How many know about the communist Pol Pot, who butchered nearly one-third of his fellow Cambodians? Or how many innocents were murdered in the Gulag Archipelago (or could even identify it)? Or that China's communist tyrant Mao Zedong killed about 60 million of his fellow Chinese? Or that Communist North Korea is essentially a concentration camp in the guise of a country?
(We need not bother with the folly of believing in the various conspiracy theories on the 9/11 attacks in the teeth of abundant and easily accessible evidence on what happened that sad Tuesday Morning; save to link to so humble a source as Wikipedia, here and here.)

Now, while Prager's example is from North America, there is no shortage of bright young people in our region captivated by similar, tendentious and deeply polarising mis-education. 

For, something is seriously wrong with how we are learing our history and with how we are therefore thinking about current issues and challenges. Something that is therefore potentially fatally dividing and polarising our civilisation. And, just when we need to stand together with moral clarity and resolute determination to see the struggle through in the face of a rising existential global totalitarian threat.
What "global threat"?
The what?

The fact that we don't know the phrase is itself an evidence of what is going on.
So, let's pause a moment, to hear Sheik Muhammad Hisham Kabani – a chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council of America -- on the relevant hadiths (traditions of Mohammed):

“Hadith indicate that black flags [the flags of the army of Islam; now often seen in street protests] coming from the area of Khorasan will signify the appearance of the Mahdi is nigh. Khorasan is in todays Iran, and some scholars have said that this hadith means when the black flags appear from Central Asia, i.e. in the direction of Khorasan, then the appearance of the Mahdi is imminent.”

[The Approach of Armageddon? (Canada, Supreme Muslim Council of America, 2003), p. 231. (NB Others point out that Khorasan formerly referred to areas E & NE of Persian Empire; and point to the Taliban as the probable black flag army.) [HT: J Richardson, Will Islam be our Future?] ]

Then, let us hear no less than the Government of Iran speak, from the words of an official message to the world at Christmas 2007 in a Shiite IslamIST variation on the above Islamic traditions [note my distinctions], so that we can connect a few dots:
[T]he exploitation of the weak, the unjust system of distribution and denial of the rights of nations [i.e. inter alia Iran's "right" to break its former commitments under the Non Proliferation treaty, and access the technologies for the weapons that would equip it to "wipe Israel from the face of the map"], will end with the reappearance of Imam Mahdi (AS). In the government of the Imam man will witness real economic welfare throughout the world without any discrimination

. . . . Imam Mahdi and steadfast devotees will gather in Mecca . . . . Imam Mahdi sends troops who kill the Sofyani in Beit ol-Moqaddas [i.e. Jerusalem], the Islamic holy city in Palestine that is currently under occupation of the Zionists. . . . Imam Mahdi will be the leader while Prophet Jesus [NB: the Islamic end times no. 2 to the Mahdi: Isa, not the Biblical Jesus!] will act as his lieutenant in the struggle against oppression and establishment of justice in the world. Jesus had himself given the tidings of the coming of God's last messenger and will see Mohammad's ideals materialize in the time of the Mahdi. The seat of the Mahdi’s global government will be the city of Kufa [a Shiite city and centre of pilgrimage in Iraq] . . . .From here he will dominate the east and the west to fill the earth with justice.
And what will happen when Jerusalem is captured?

For that, we observe Egyptian authors Muhammad ibn Izzat and Muhammd ‘Arif, writing in Signs of Qiyamah (Islamic Book Service, New Delhi, 2004), p. 40:

The Mahdi will be victorious and eradicate those pigs and dogs [this is an allusion to an Islamic tradition that Jews were punished by Allah by being transformed into pigs, apes etc] and the idols of this time so that there will once more be a caliphate based on prophethood as the hadith states… Jerusalem will be the location of the rightly guided caliphate and the center of Islamic rule, which will be headed by Imam al-Mahdi… That will abolish the leadership of the Jews… and put an end to the domination of the Satans who spit evil into people and cause corruption in the earth, making them slaves of false idols and ruling the world by laws other than the Shari’a [Islamic Law] of the Lord of the worlds. [HT: JR]

Genocide, in one word. Or, as a notorious hadith that is cited verbatim in Hamas' charter, Clause 7, puts it:
"The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews). When the Jew will hide behind stones and trees, the stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla [= slave or servant of Allah], there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharqad tree would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews." (related by Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim).
Summing up in the words of Joel Richardson:
Islamic tradition pictures the Mahdi as joining with the army of Muslim warriors carrying black flags. The Mahdi will then lead this army to Israel and re-conquer it for Islam. The Jews will be slaughtered until very few remain and Jerusalem will become the location of the Mahdi’s rule over the Earth.
In short, our civilisation now faces an ideology driven by an end-times global conquest mindset; one that is now on the verge of not only ballistic missiles but the nuclear bombs to put on them. One committed to the genocide of the Jews of Israel, and the conquest of the whole earth until it is duly submitted to Allah, to Allah's Prophet, to Allah's Law, and to Allah's Warriors led by Imam Mahdi.

U/D June 15, 2014, let me add a map I first found on or about Sept 11, 2001, produced by a Dawah -- "Missions" --  group, the World Islamic Mission Research Division . . . whicfh plainly demonstrates the close links between Jihad and Dawah (literally the demand to surrender on pain of conquest). Particularly note the after 100 years projection in the lower RH corner:

An ideology that of course has territorial claims against Israel: lands once under Islam must be recovered by any means necessary. 

(It is not at all a matter of who has legitimate historic claims to the land. The Jews obviously do, and the long term residents -- many of whom are Arabs -- do as well. If that was all that was at stake, any one of the many opportunities to get a reasonable compromise deal that would develop the region to the mutual benefit of all its peoples would have worked: in 1919, in 1947 - 48, in 1967, in 1977 - 79, in 1993 - 2000 and onward up to today. The hadith cited as clause 7 of the Hamas Charter tells us why all such deals have consistently failed, and why they consistently failed from the Arab side, with violence. [Post Colonialist myths about a Jewish colonising state that has imposed "Apartheid Mark II" on its Arab neighbours simply fail to explain the easily accessed facts. In fact, the closest thing to a colonial overlord was the British Mandatory Power under the 1919 Versailles-League of Nations regime. And, a League Mandate was very different from your typical colony! What, with annual reports to the League, on progress and issues, etc!])

But equally, IslamISM has claims that bear the same rationale against Spain -- al Andaluz.

Nowadays -- courtesy Dr Sultana Afroz's tendentious teachings that the original Spanish settlement of the Caribbean was Moorish [thus Islamic] and that most of the slaves brought here were Muslims, IslamISTS have similar claims against our Caribbean region as well.
But, Islam is "The Religion of Peace!"

Have you asked just what "peace" in the Islamic -- not even IslamIST, yet -- sense really means? (For, different worldviews will interpret key terms differently.)

Peace is peace!

Not necessarily. In classical, authoritative Islamic teachings and law, the world is "temporarily" split into two: Dar ul Islam -- the house of peace; and Dar ul Harb -- the house of war.

The dividing line: the former is under "proper" Islamic rule, and there is a global conflict with that part of the world that is in rebellion against Allah, His Law and His prophet. A conflict that is normally expressed militarily. (Indeed, the nearest Islamic comparison to gospel preaching missions to the world, is Dawah; strictly a call to surrender, with the implication that refusal is grounds for military attack. [And, reading back ways, many Muslims therefore view Christian Missionaries as agents of subversion and military threats. Indeed, that finds expression in using Intelligence Agencies as weapons to oppose such missionaries. {Added, kindly  cf. Declaration here, including the International Law, freedom of conscience and religion issues on pp. 2 - 3 and 5 - 6.}])

But Isalmists and terrorists are a tiny minority!

The IslamISTS are usually estimated as about 10% of the World's Muslims. 100 - 150 millions, including those who control the Government of Iran. That is actually far more than the total number of Nazis and Communists who so plagued the last Century, combined.
So, the threat is a little more directly relevant than we might think.

Which brings me to my second bit of food for thought this morning; an article by Paul E. Marek:
I used to know a man whose family were German aristocracy prior to World War II. They owned a number of large industries and estates. I asked him how many German people were true Nazis, and the answer he gave has stuck with me and guided my attitude toward fanaticism ever since.

“Very few people were true Nazis,” he said, “but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.” . . . .

The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history. It is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars world wide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or execute honor killings. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals. The hard, quantifiable fact is that the “peaceful majority” is the “silent majority,” and it is cowed and extraneous.

. . . . Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by the fanatics. Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence. Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don’t speak up, because, like my friend from Germany, they will awaken one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun.
So, we need to be very, very, very careful.

But, thirdly, the problem is not just across the seas, with IslamISM; it is also within our civilisation.

For, we are now in a Rules for Radicals world. That term comes from the title of a 1971 book that is often promoted as a tool for empowering oppressed minorities: the community organiser's handbook, in effect. And indeed, it is Saul Alinsky's work that shaped the Chicago school of Community Organisers, from which the current President of the USA has come.

But in fact, Rules for Radicals is nothing of the sort: it is instead the handbook of a self-confessed marxist subversive, a manual of manipulative Agitprop that plays on our legitimate grievances to gain power for the agitator class, so to speak. But, you might think that is a biased summary by an ignorant or hateful right wing zealot. It is not.

Let us hear it directly from Mr Alinsky [HT: Berit Kjos]:
"A Marxist begins with his prime truth that all evils are caused by the exploitation of the proletariat by the capitalists. From this he logically proceeds to the revolution to end capitalism, then into the third stage of reorganization into a new social order of the dictatorship of the proletariat, and finally the last stage -- the political paradise of communism." p.10

"The end is what you want, the means is how you get it. Whenever we think about social change, the question of means and ends arises. The man of action views the issue of means and ends in pragmatic and strategic terms. He has no other problem; he thinks only of his actual resources and the possibilities of various choices of action. He asks of ends only whether they are achievable and worth the cost; of means, only whether they will work. ... The real arena is corrupt and bloody." p.24

"The means-and-ends moralists, constantly obsessed with the ethics of the means used by the Have-Nots against the Haves, should search themselves as to their real political position. In fact, they are passive — but real — allies of the Haves…. The most unethical of all means is the non-use of any means... The standards of judgment must be rooted in the whys and wherefores of life as it is lived, the world as it is, not our wished-for fantasy of the world as it should be." pp.25-26

"...the organizer must be able to split himself into two parts -- one part in the arena of action where he polarizes the issue to 100 to nothing, and helps to lead his forces into conflict, while the other part knows that when the time comes for negotiations that it really is only a 10 percent difference." p.78

"From the moment the organizer enters a community he lives, dreams... only one thing and that is to build the mass power base of what he calls the army. Until he has developed that mass power base, he confronts no major issues.... Until he has those means and power instruments, his 'tactics' are very different from power tactics. Therefore, every move revolves around one central point: how many recruits will this bring into the organization, whether by means of local organizations, churches, service groups, labor Unions, corner gangs, or as individuals." "Change comes from power, and power comes from organization." p.113

"The first step in community organization is community disorganization. The disruption of the present organization is the first step toward community organization. Present arrangements must be disorganized if they are to be displace by new patterns.... All change means disorganization of the old and organization of the new." p.116

Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it. In conflict tactics there are certain rules that [should be regarded] as universalities. One is that the opposition must be singled out as the target and 'frozen.' ... When your 'freeze the target,' you disregard these [rational but distracting] arguments and carry out your attack.... One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angles are on one side and all the devils on the other." pp.127-134
It is worth contrasting this cynical Machiavellianism and unjustifiable sowing of discord with the wise counsel of "the judicious [Richard] Hooker" sought by John Locke in Ecclesiastical Polity, when he -- in Locke's historically pivotal 2nd Essay on Civil Government, ch 2 sect 5 -- set out to ground Liberty under God, laying the foundation for modern Democratic self-government by a free people:
. . . if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man's hands, as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire which is undoubtedly in other men . . . my desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in Nature, as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection. From which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves, what several rules and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant. [Cf Rom 13:8 - 10, Matt 7:12, Leviticus 19:15 - 18.]
So, "we the sheeple" had better wake up fast and critically analyse what we hear in the media or in the classrooms or from our pulpits or on the streets, assess the quality of the sources we listen to, think and act in our own best, gospel-enlightened interests before it is -- yet once again -- too late, bloodily too late.

Murderously too late.

Or, as Pastor Martin Niemoller of Germany put it, far more eloquently than I ever could:
"In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up."
So, will we learn the lessons of all too recent history in our day, or will we be simply doomed to repeat it?
Therefore, let us ask, yet one more time in this blog:
Why not now? Why not here? Why not us? END


UPDATE, Oct 11, 2010: Without giving blanket endorsements to either the explanation of Muslim teachings or Biblical Eschatology, there is a thought-provoking exposition of the Islamic eschatology issues and hadiths, compared with Biblical teachings, by Andre Widodo, here. (Also, note the Al Qaeda video claiming to be the Black Flag army as linked and discussed here. HT: Joel Richardson. {NB: The video itself has been removed, cf. this one here to get the general picture from an IslamIST theological-ideological perspective.})  

To be forewarned regarding key signs of our times, should be to be prepared to rise and meet the challenges. But as Matt 16:2 - 3 warned the religious leaders of Jesus' day: "You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times." Just so, Christians and Muslims -- I am aware of the linked discussion from Pakistan and what Imran Hosein (originally of Trinidad) stands for -- are invited to prayerfully read Matt 24 and consider the implications of Acts 17:16 - 32 with Isa 52:13 - 53:12, 1 Cor 15:1 - 11, and 2 Peter 1:16 - 19 & 3:3 - 18. [NB: cf. discussion of the deepest hot-button issue, the biblically anchored Shamrock Principle of Tri-unity of the Godhead, here. Also, Fr Zakaria Boutros' site here will be helpful.] We are invited to measure the way we consequently live -- thus, the authenticity of our spirituality -- by 1 Cor 13:1 - 7 and Titus 2:11 - 14 with 2 Peter 1:1 - 11

 It is worth embedding a sampler from Fr Boutros:

Food for thought.

Let us all reflect, repent, seek renewal and transformation through the truth in love, power, purity and faithfulness. 

Grace be to all, and may Our Risen Lord be pleased to grant an appearance to Muslims and others of sincere heart who seek the whole and wholesome truth. AMEN

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Matt 24 Watch, 76: on the complexity of issues in the Middle East that we see on our TV screens

In recent weeks, with the latest developments in and around Gaza, the Middle East situation has again boiled over into open war and has thus been splashed across our headlines, in the wake of the Israeli air-strikes and now a ground attack.

This led immediately to accusations of "disproportionate" use of force by Israel, and latterly to the accusations of deliberate use of White Phosphorus munitions to attack civilians, causing severe injury or agonising death.

Being quite busy elsewhere, I have not hitherto commented here on the situation.

However, a few days back, I was in a local hardware store where a gentleman of my acquaintance was buying some phosphoric acid based drain cleaner. I casually remarked on how corrosive it is [I have a nice Swiss Army knife that I one day forgot to think about what I was doing, and opened the seal on such a bottle with the knife -- it began to eat the blade . . .], and he immediately launched into a passionate declaration on how Israel is torturing and murdering civilians (especially children) in the Middle East using phosphorus.

I was of course astonished, and tried to suggest that on matters in the Middle East, we need to take extra caution to find the balance of credible facts and contexts, not least because of the high incidence of false atrocity stories in the ME. To my further astonishment, this was twisted into the inference that I supported the murder or harming of children using such weapons.

That of course beings to mind the classic warning Aristotle gave us on in The Rhetoric, Bk I Ch 2, the destructive, deceptive potential of manipulative rhetoric [and by extension propaganda], 2300+ years ago:

Of the modes of persuasion furnished by the spoken word there are three kinds. The first kind depends on the personal character of the speaker [ethos]; the second on putting the audience into a certain frame of mind [pathos]; the third on the proof, or apparent proof, provided by the words of the speech itself [logos]. Persuasion is achieved by the speaker's personal character when the speech is so spoken as to make us think him credible . . . Secondly, persuasion may come through the hearers, when the speech stirs their emotions. Our judgements when we are pleased and friendly are not the same as when we are pained and hostile . . . Thirdly, persuasion is effected through the speech itself when we have proved a truth or an apparent truth by means of the persuasive arguments suitable to the case in question . . . .

However, the ensuing conversation underscored the want of critical thinking and history education in our region, and on gaps in the church's teaching and discipling ministry; including on the key biblical roots of modern liberty and democracy, and on issues on why such an evil as war or other resort to lethal policing power may be a lesser of evils, one that prevents even worse outcomes.

Accordingly, I wish to share a slice of the correspondence that has followed, towards better equipping our churches, educators and people to find a balanced position in these sadly rhetorically over-heated, over-polarised days.


I prioritise the most important of these [concerns]:

1] "Religion" [and implied fanaticism] vs the truth about our situation

. . . as (i) creatures made in God's image, (ii) accountable to him as sinners in rebellion, and with (iii) the possibility of forgiveness through faith in Christ and (iv) onward transformation of life through discipleship and the ethics of the gospel:

When I mentioned . . . that the only deliberate positions I take are those of Christian, Bible-based discipleship, [my interlocutor] immediately made an unwarranted connexion to the idea of religion as fanaticism . . . I must pause to correct [for there is now a growing, media-fed misunderstanding of and unwarranted fear of Bible-believing Christian faith that will if unchecked do our region no good].

So, here we begin:

--> The very nature of the intricately designed world without and our minds, hearts and consciences within jointly scream that we are creatures of a God of love, concern and justice. [Cf here Rom 1 - 2.]

--> But equally, we are plainly creatures in sinful rebellion against a Just God and are properly subject to trial and condemnation as guilty rebels. This is the root of ever so many of the moral outrages of our world, including real cases of destructive religious fanaticism.

--> However, in love, God came in the form of the Eternal Son, and stood our penalty, rising from death with 500+ eyewitnesses of the truth. And, pouring out the blessing of the transforming Spirit, who changes us from rebels and manipulators to those who more and more act from love, truth, purity and godly power.

--> Consequently, we read this summary of gospel ethics (and I deliberately choose this less well known passage, for reasons which will be apparent in a moment):

Rom 13: 8 . . . he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet,"[a] and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself."[b] 10Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. [NIV]

--> Neighbour-love is harmless, so love fulfills the commandments of just law and principles of morality. Indeed, neighbour-love is the plank of good citizenship.

--> But, not all are good citizens . . .

2] Justice, the sword and the state

This brings us to the context of Rom 13:8 - 10, in vv 1 - 7:

Rom 13:1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.

6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

--> The state (especially within the context of the nation, as Paul discussed in Ac 17) and its civil authorities (individually and collectively) are God's establishment for justice, to do the citizenry good and to restrain evildoers through the necessary evil of the power of the sword, backed up by the further necessary evil of reasonable [as opposed to confiscatory -- "thou shalt not steal" also applies to Gov't] taxation and all that goes with that by way of monitoring and control.

--> We find this easiest to understand in the context of the police: defenders from evildoers who are largely based in our own familiar community. Few if any will object to the need for such protectors of the civil peace to be sword-bearers [or in our day even here in M'rat, MP5 bearers when bank money has to move]

--> Few will object to the observation that sometimes police make errors, even horrible ones, and that some can become corrupt. So much so that there are means of redress and recourse to correction and even removal of a cop gone bad.

--> Similarly . . . there is recourse [through Courts of Appeal] against the courts, for they too can go bad by mistake or intent.

--> Such is also regrettably possible on the part of Civil Servants or even Ministers of Gov't . . . all the way up to the Queen (and much moreso in days when the Monarch held far more power).

--> Now, a shocker: In Rom 13, the sword-bearer in chief was NERO CAESAR, never mind that he was then still under tutelage of Burrus and Seneca, and had not yet gone utterly mad. In short, even an evil man is sometimes in the role of God's servant to do us good, and is accountable before God for that doing good and defending the civil peace and justice.

--> The wider teachings of the Bible will show that here is in fact a provision for dealing with such a case as a ruler gone bad, through which lower magistrates may act with the people to remove such, e.g. the tax rebellion blessed by God when Rehoboam foolishly sought to multiply already onerous taxes from his father. (In modern times, this pattern of teachings is what underlies much of the rise of modern democracy and liberty -- though it is as a rule neither taught in our schools or our churches; yet another failure of the education system and the teaching ministry of the church in the Caribbean. I have discussed this at length here . . . )

--> In short, there is a [biblical] justification for some forms of resistance, even [after all other reasonable resort has failed] armed resistance, to oppressive civil authority, under the aegis of orderly remonstrance and representative lower magistrates.

--> And in the end, as Daniel and his friends, and as the Apostles showed: "we must obey God rather than man." [In light of Rom 13:8 - 10, this is not at all a call to fanaticism, but to refuse to do wrong because the state abuses its power under false colour of law, and orders us into wrong. (BTW, I note that it is a core principle of Israeli Military law, that an improper and criminal order is not to be obeyed. [This reflects what happened under the Nazis, where otherwise good men blindly obeyed unjust orders and carried out the very worst atrocities.])]

--> Indeed, such is the historical and logical foundation of our electoral system with the associated freedoms of expression, association and publication: the general election is an audit on the government, with potential for peaceful revolution.

--> But, that was bought at bitter and bloody price, which we must not forget. Nor, should we fail to realise that the privilege of selecting our rulers peacefully can be exploited by unscrupulous manipulators.

This extends to the international arena . . .

3] Justice and war among states and nations

Just as there can be domestic evildoers who threaten the civil peace, there can be foreign ones: pirates and the like (non-state actors), and oppressive or aggressive states (official actors), with associated movements and ideologies.

The civil authority bears the sword in no small part, to defend the civil peace against such aggressors -- aggressors in our day who even at small scale can now access the most destructive weapons, including improvised weapons such as hijacked airliners crammed with innocent hostages . . .

--> This last brings up the dilemma of Sept 11, 2001: civil airliners operating on peaceful missions and with ordinary people going about the ordinary affairs of life were hijacked by men who threatened the lives of stewardesses to gain access to cockpits, then proceeded to slit the throats of the aircrews.

--> The remaining hostages were then used as human shields to delay effective action against these improvised missiles that were then flown into the WTC towers, full of innocent people going about the innocent affairs of life. (Had the missions been as "successful" as intended, upwards of 50,000 could easily have died as the towers collapsed, and the over US$ 100 billions in economic damage could have gone much, much further; triggering a massive international economic collapse.)

--> Similarly, a plane was crashed into the Pentagon, with something like 50 civilians onboard. (Consider on why the unquestionably present missile defenses were not activated . . .)

--> A fourth aircraft was crashed into a field in PA, largely because the passengers -- having heard of the fate of the other planes through cell phone calls -- rose up as an impromptu militia and fought the hijackers with their bare hands and whatever they could find in the plane, such as the food trolley.

--> It emerged that evening through a reply to a question by the Vice President [Mr Dick Cheney] on a TV news show [I saw it myself, live], that the US president had issued the order that any further planes, if they were on a threatening track, were to be shot down, lest even worse damage be done. (It seems Mr Bin Laden was attempting a so-called decapitation strike against the US, hoping to trigger collapse of the state that is the bulwark against Islamist global ambitions, as per the first attached.)

--> Yes, though it is not usually reported in the major media or in our schools or most churches, IslamISM -- not the general religion, but a key movement associated with it and acting in its name and on the authority of the Medinan parts of the Quran such as key passages in Surah 9, e.g. verses [ayas] 5 and 29 (which [in Islamist eyes] jointly mandate world conquest and in the vv following 29 a particular, slander-based hostility to Jews and Christians) -- is a religiously motivated, global conquest ideology:


sword: Q 009.005
YUSUFALI: But when the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, an seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practise regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.

Tribute: Q 009.029
YUSUFALI: Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

Slander Q 009.030
YUSUFALI: The Jews call 'Uzair a son of Allah, and the Christians call Christ the son of Allah. That is a saying from their mouth; (in this) they but imitate what the unbelievers of old used to say. Allah's curse be on them: how they are deluded away from the Truth!

YUSUFALI: They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of Allah, and (they take as their Lord) Christ the son of Mary; yet they were commanded to worship but One Allah: there is no god but He. Praise and glory to Him: (Far is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him).

YUSUFALI: Fain would they extinguish Allah's light with their mouths, but Allah will not allow but that His light should be perfected, even though the Unbelievers may detest (it).

(It should be noted that by “Son of Allah” M. evidently has in mind the idea of the old pagan gods and their notorious proclivities for pretty girls that in the myths led to the births of heroes such as Hercules. Judaism teaches no such thing about Ezra, and the Eternal Son of God – so demonstrated with power by the resurrection from the dead [with 500+ eyewitnesses], even in the face of the accusation of blasphemy on the point [Cf here Dan 7:13 - 14] -- is not the biological child of the Father! And that should have been obvious from the fact of the doctrine of the VIRGIN birth.)

[End of amplification]

--> One that has played no small part in the history of the past 1,400 years.

--> E.g. there is an "anniversary reason" why Sept 11 was the logical target date: Sept 11 1683 was the previous high water mark of Islamist world conquest actions: the day before the siege of Vienna was decisively broken by a desperate late afternoon cavalry charge led in person by the King of Poland Jan III Sobieski, riding at the head of his 3,000 Winged Hussars and leading altogether 20,000 cavalry to break the stranglehold of the besieging Ottoman-Islamist armies; just outside the gates of Vienna.

--> And, the same context has had much to do with the recent history of Israel and the wider ME; thus, our current global dilemmas. (On the aspect of the history of Modern Israel, kindly cf here.)

--> And so, the Gaza situation and the atrocity stories:

4] The current Gaza war -- is it just and pursued in light of reasonable tactics?

First some background.

Generally, wars may be initiated by those who are acting unjustly, or [sometimes they] may be based on pre-emptive action by just rulers acting in the defense of civil peace in the face of a clear, rising danger.

This last, may happen in situations where the price of delay may be too terrible to bear -- e.g. the delay from 1938 to 1939 through the now notorious "peace in our time" Munich pact [the worst "land for peace" deal in recent history] -- in fighting Hitler allowed him to seize the Czechoslovakian resource base that enabled the blitzkrieg to work, ultimately costing 40+ million lives and a devastated continent.

Had France and Britain acted resolutely in 1938, in defense of the Versailles Treaty and related international agreements through the League of Nations, we would not have had a WWII. but, in the face of the memories of the horrors of war -- e.g France's losses of 1.4 millions in WW I and the related devastation of Northern France -- a fatal deal was struck with a man who viewed such pieces of paper as tools to gull his next victims while he made mincemeat of the present one.

Through his subsequent conquest of Czechoslovakia, Hitler acquired not only the former Austrian Empire's famed Skoda arms and general industry factories, but the trucks to mobilise his panzer divisions, and the [37 mm cannon-armed] T35 and T38 tanks that for the vital years 1939 - 41, substituted for the Pzkw III and IV tanks he did not yet have in sufficient numbers to make a difference. [The Pzkw I had only machine guns, and the Pzkw II was armed with a 20 mm gun. A high-velocity gun of 37 - 40 mm or sometimes 50 mm was in 1938 - 40, the typical armament for tanks used to shoot at other tanks. Hitler, apart from the ex-Czech tanks, had astonishingly few tanks suitable for tank vs tank battles.]

Absent those inputs, he simply could not have done what he did in France in 1940.

(For instance, the famous PzDiv 7, "the ghost division" that was one of the hardest charging of all the 7 divs that broke through at Sedan and drove for the English Channel -- led by a soon to be world famed Rommel -- was largely equipped with those former allied tanks.)

This is living-memory context (I first learned of these things from my parents, who lived through those horrible days, and are yet with us) for the circumstances of Gaza today.

5] More specific background:

a --> The Jews, Kurds, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Berbers, Dinkas and more are peoples rooted in the ME and neighbouring parts of the world, have just as much a rightful claims to their homelands as do the Arabs who surged out on conquest through Islamist ideology starting in the C7. Indeed, in Palestine/Judaea and Samaria, Arabs are descendants of these INVADERS.

b --> The subsequent claims that Palestinian Arabs are descended from the Philistines etc are without historical merit -- modern archaeology etc inform us that the Philistines for instance were exiled under Babylon and because they had no distinctive ideology dissipated into the general population of that empire; unlike the Jews. And such dissipation and assimilation was in fact the intent of the policy of exile. (That is why Daniel and his three friends are so important in the history of Israel.)

c --> The 1919 post WW I Versailles settlements, for all the sins and errors made there that helped lay the foundations for WW II, sought to remake Europe and linked lands in the aftermath of the collapse of the Austrian, Russian and Ottoman Empires, on the principle that each people so far as possible should have its own recognised homeland and where reasonable, their own state.

d --> This is the premise of the wave of nationalism that has led to the League of Nations [LON], the United Nations and the wave of post-colonial independent states all across the world. A wave that we benefit from here in the Caribbean-- under no other circumstances would independent microstates like ours across the region be viable.

e --> As a part of that process, Chaim Weizmann (representing the Jewish Agency) and Feisal Hussein (representing the Sherif of Mecca and the leadership of the then envisioned emerging Arab nation; later, king of Iraq, and his brother Abdullah became King of trans-Jordanian Palestine [Now Jordan]) entered into a 1919 Versailles process side agreement in London, for the joint, mutually supportive development of the Arab and Jewish nations in the Middle East. As my note on this history documents, had this been followed, the ME would today be a leading, prosperous, and peaceful region.

f --> Sadly, largely through Islamist fanaticism and murder [not discounting the perfidy of British and French Diplomatists], this was not to be. Riots in the 1920's and an Arab revolt in the 1930's led to the situation where post WW II, the British wished to surrender the LON mandate to the successor of the League, the UN.

g --> The UN voted partition, the Arab League threatened war of genocide, the Jews accepted partition and declared Israel's Independence; leading to invasion by five Arab armies within 24 hours, May 14/15 1948. Against all odds, Israel survived, and in addition to refugees from Europe etc, absorbed a further 600,000+ refugee Jews expelled or forced out from the Arab-dominated ME states. These constitute an irreconcilable refugee population, and are the capstone legitimising rationale for Israel as a land of refuge, and they and their descendants are the present majority of Jews in Israel.

h --> A similar number of Arab refugees -- mostly [but not wholly] owing to the invitation to Arabs to move out so the genocide could proceed unhindered, multiplied by Arab atrocity stories against the Jews [cf here] -- were forced to remain in camps by their brother Arabs [in the case of Egypt and Gaza, at machine-gun point], with the declared intent to exploit their suffering to foment perpetual war until Israel was destroyed.

i --> Then in the early 1960's opportunity seemingly arrived, as the USSR, in pursuit of its global ambitions, turned several key Arab states into clients, and armed them. The Russians, apparently to foment a situation where they could then intervene and in the process destroy Israel's nuclear centre at Dimona in the Negev [about 50 mi from Gaza -- bear this in mind], spread rumours of Israel's mobilising for war against Syria, then in a union with Nasser's Egypt.

j --> By May 1967, Israel was surrounded by a ring of steel: 800 aircraft, 2,800 tanks, 500,000 troops, with the Egyptians poised to thrust straight across the Negev in an armoured attack, cutting Israel's oil lifeline through Eilat. Nasser then declared that the Straights of Tiran were blockaded to Israel (in violation of international agreements and guarantees after the 1956 Suez war that was in key part triggered by the same act of war by blockade) -- cutting Israel's oil lifeline.

k --> After diplomatic initiatives proved obviously futile, instead of waiting until it had run out of oil etc, Israel launched a desperate air strike that knocked out the Egyptian Air Force, and then that of Syria. Simultaneously, they launched a tank attack with three improvised armoured divisions -- largely based on reconditioned and upgunned Sherman Tanks from WW II going up against far more modern Russian equipment. (Because of command of the air, this succeeded, and Israel found itself controlling the Suez and Gaza, both captured from the Egyptians.)

l --> Despite Israeli pleas to keep out, and then even to settle for a "barrage of honour" after it began to shell Israeli territory, Jordan insisted on further attacks and was counter-attacked, so that the West Bank was captured. (Jordan had captured this area in the 1948 war, and had illegally "annexed" it. Thus, W. Bank Palestinian Arabs held Jordanian Citizenship,and indeed in 1969 - 70 when internal unrest heightened, King Hussein offered Arafat the premiership; which he refused. A civil war ensued and the PLO was expelled from Jordan. That is what led to the establishment of the PLO in Lebanon, a material factor triggering in the Lebanese civil war of the 1970's - 80's; and the trigger to the sad situation of that former Paris of the Middle East, Beirut.)

m --> Syria, finally, was counter attacked, and the Golan was captured. The same heights that for 20 years had been used to shell Israeli farmers in Galilee.

n --> Subsequently, after the refusal to engage in a land for real peace deal post 1967, the 1973 war led to the settlement with Egypt and the exchange of all of the Sinai for real peace. (A subsequent settlement with Jordan also issued in exchange of a much smaller slice of land for real peace.)

o --> PLO terrorist activity from S Lebanon led to the Israeli intervention in 1982 [with a side-war with the occupying Syrians].

p --> Subsequent to the 1990-91 Gulf war triggered by Iraq's invasion and occupation of Kuwait, a new wave of peace initiatives has been entered into, during which Israel has left Lebanon, tried to hand over the W Bank to the Palestinians, and has finally unilaterally walked away from Gaza in 2005.

q --> On one excuse or another, civilian-targetting terrorism has continued against Israel, now backed up by Iranian geopolitical and Islamist global supremacist ambitions that have led to the arming of Hezbollah [effectively the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Foreign Legion] and Hamas [a wing of the Egypt-based Muslim Brotherhood] with increasingly long ranged rockets.

r --> In the case of Hamas, over the past decade or so, up to 10,000 rockets and mortar bombs have been lobbed into Israel, in what is in effect long term harassing fire, mostly targetting civilian settlements. And, the rockets used are gradually being escalated in range, now evidently approaching the 50 miles to Dimona.

s --> Then, Dec 19, after a six-month truce, Hamas began bombardments again [actually, it never really stopped, just diminished in ferocity].

6] Israel's response:

Having seen this gathering threat, Israel has acquired 1,000 GBU 39 60-mile range, GPS-guided mini bunker busters and other precision munitions. These, it began to use in a counter attack that targetted Hamas's munitions, launch sites and command structure [except for the main HQ, which is in bunkers directly under a major hospital].

The major challenge has been that Hamas not only bombards civilians, but hides behind innocent Arab civilians, using them as human shields. So Israel has responded by using precision attacks, guided based on intelligence -- much of that from unmanned aerial vehicles that have slowly compiled a database of attack-points.

In the case of the GBU 39, it is noted by Wikipedia:

The GBU-39 has a circular error probable (CEP) of only 5-8 meters,[2] which means it has a 50% probability of hitting within 5-8 meters its intended target, which should minimize collateral damage . . . . The small size of the bomb allows a single strike aircraft to carry more of the munitions than is possible utilizing currently available bomb units . . . . The SDB carries approximately 38 lb (17 kg) of AFX-757 high explosive, yet because of its design it has the same penetration capabilities as the 2000 lb BLU-109. During demonstrations, the SDB has successfully penetrated more than 8 ft (2.4 m) thick reinforced concrete. It also has integrated "DiamondBack" type wings which deploy after release, increasing the glide time and therefore the maximum range . . . . Although unit costs were somewhat uncertain as of 2006, the estimated value for the INS/GPS version was around $70,000. The cost of the second variant was more uncertain, but tentative estimates were $90,000 per unit or more . . . . Under a contract awarded in September 2006, Boeing is developing a version of the SDB I which replaces the steel casing with a lightweight compositeDense Inert Metal Explosive (DIME). This will significantly reduce the possibility of collateral damage when using the weapon for pin-point strikes in urban areas.[7] . . . .

December 2008 - Used against Hamas facilities in the Gaza Strip, including underground rocket launchers.[13]

In short, it is clear that Israel is going to considerable expense and effort precisely to AVOID civilian casualties as much as is possible in war.

Indeed, the reports that they are phoning individual households near strike zones and advising occupants to seek shelter, is along the same lines. Sadly, the further reports -- and video of children being dragged off as such shields -- that reveal that Hamas militiamen are using this to put civilians into the zones as human shields are utterly telling.

And that contrast fits in all too well with the decades long propaganda tactic of accusing the Israelis [often falsely] of atrocities and war crimes, used to incite further regional and global hostility against them. Remember, Hamas by Charter is dedicated to the destruction of Israel, and that in a context where a relevant hadith [authoritative tradition] from their prophet says:

. . . it was narrated that Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: ‘The Dajjaal [Devil] will come down to this pond at Marriqanaat (a valley near Madeenah [Medina]), and most of those who go out to follow him will be women, such that a man will go back to his wife, mother, daughter, sister or (paternal) aunt and will tie them up lest they go out to join him. Then Allaah will grant the Muslims victory over him, and they will kill him and his party, until a Jew will hide beneath a tree or a rock, and the tree or rock will say, ‘Here a Jew beneath me, (come and) kill him.’” (Narrated by Ahmad in his Musnad). This was also narrated by Ibn Maajah from Abu Umaamah al-Baahili from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) concerning the Dajjaal.

Notice just who are the evident "Party of the Devil" in this tradition: women, and Jews.

7] White Phosphorus

Now, this formerly was used as a weapon, but it is relatively ineffective as such and is mostly used as a smoke producing (or illuminating) agent today.

Smoke screens, of course, are a key tactic of concealment that among other things minimises casualties among attacking troops (as a part of the response to the horrible trench warfare slaughters of WW I; e.g. Britain lost 60,000 casualties, some 20,000 of them dead, in the first day of the attack on the Somme in July 1916); so it would naturally have been used in that role in the phase where a ground attack has now been undertaken.

Accordingly, in the context of accusations of misuse of such munitions, we should observe that the International Committee of the Red Cross remarks [cf the 5th attached, CSM report] that:

The International Committee of the Red Cross says white phosphorus is being used in Gaza. No question.

But they have no evidence that Israel is using it illegally.

“In some of the strikes in Gaza it’s pretty clear that phosphorus was used,” Peter Herby, head of the Red Cross mines-arms unit, told the Associated Press Tuesday. “But it’s not very unusual to use phosphorus to create smoke or illuminate a target. We have no evidence to suggest it’s being used in any other way.”

Monitor staff writer Robert Marquand reported yesterday that human rights groups have witnessed white phosphorus munitions exploding over populated area of Gaza. While using the agent is not banned by international laws when it’s used as a smoke screen. But it is outlawed for use on people – civilians or soldiers . . . .

The Red Cross urged Israel to use “extreme caution” when firing white phosphorus munitions, according to AP.

It is of course entirely possible for such munitions (or other munitions) to misfire or for civilians to be otherwise harmed as a result of such firing, even where they are not intentional targets. The tenor of the ICRC report, clearly, is that they have no evidence of intentional targetting of civilians or even soldiers by WP rounds.

Such harm has to be weighed against the cost otherwise of making the assaults in built up areas [i.e. saturation bombardments to suppress counter-fire, leading to very large numbers of civilians dead], and/or the longer-term issues that led to the assault. namely:

(i) bombardment of Israeli civilians in city after city, now potentially affecting ~ 1 million citizens of Israel, and

(ii) the rising threat to the nuclear centre at Dimona in pursuit of Iranian ambitions.

Indeed, the latter is the context of the relative silence of Arab states on the matter, as Iran is also their traditional enemy.


So, perhaps, the above will prove helpful in helping us to address key gaps in the Church's teaching and discipling ministry, and perhaps even to help us come to a more balanced position on the perennial controversy in the Middle East. (I confess that I am a lot less confident that anything will ever settle the war, short of the Second Coming.) END


UPDATES: Slight editing, a link or two, Jan 19.