Opinion |

Inside Every Islamist Is a Latent Bezalel Smotrich

They are both waiting for the propitious moment to begin their campaign of conquest. They both dream of the day when 'the army will know what to do.'

Salaman Masalha
Salman Masalha
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A Palestinian man reads the Koran on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan at the al-Omari mosque in Gaza City, May 27, 2017.
A Palestinian man reads the Koran on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan at the al-Omari mosque in Gaza City, May 27, 2017.Credit: /AFP
Salaman Masalha
Salman Masalha

The terrorists of the Islamic State, who carried out the slaughter of the Copts in Egypt last Friday, left behind a statement that shows the massacre was planned for the beginning of Ramadan. With a picture of the Kaaba in Mecca and a Koran in the background, the statement included a request and prayer to all Muslims: “We pray that Allah will accept your fast and forgive your sins. A good year and happy holiday.”

Holy places and times have never kept fanatical Muslims from carrying out their crimes. For example, the fourth caliph after Mohammed, who is considered the founder of the Shi’ite branch of Islam, Ali ibn Abi Talib, was murdered in the month of Ramadan inside a mosque while he stood at the head of a group of worshippers. If this is how they treat a Muslim, then how much more so when it comes to heretics, of all types.

From the Islamists’ viewpoint, the source of all the backwardness of the Arab and Muslim world during the modern period lies in Muslims distancing themselves from the commandments of the religion, according to the example of the earliest period of Islam, or as they imagine it.

When the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was asked once whether he sees the country as a national entity, he answered, basically, that as far as he was concerned Egypt could go to hell. So the Islamists feel they are outsiders in every nation-state. This is the case in Arab countries, as well as in the West. Their vision is an imperialist one, whose goal is to impose the laws of Islam by force throughout the entire world.

It is no coincidence that ISIS operates in countries such as Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Libya, which in the past were the standard bearers of Arab nationalism. The Islamists, in all their movements, completely reject Arab nationalism. The leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in Israel are no different in this regard. We can learn this from an article published last week by Sheikh Kamal Khatib, deputy head of the Islamic Movement in Israel’s Northern Branch, which was declared an illegal organization. The article appeared on the popular Arab-Israeli website “Al-Arab,” which operates from Nazareth.

“Here comes this Ramadan for us. It is Ramadan that reminds us of the glorious days of the past and the humiliations that we suffer from in these days, the humiliations that are the result of carrying the banner of Arab nationalism detached from religion,” wrote Sheikh Khatib.

Khatib goes on to mention nostalgically the conquest of Constantinople and its becoming the capital of the Muslim empire that reached the gates of Vienna. He does not skip over other conquests, beginning with Cyprus and ending with Andalusia. He compares the Byzantine emperor who tried to flee dressed in women’s clothes to the “Egyptian soldiers who stripped off their uniforms and tried to escape [from the Israeli army] in the clothes of Bedouin women from the Sinai.”

Khatib exploits the visit to the region by U.S. President Donald Trump for his purposes. He compares the sword dance with Trump in Saudi Arabia to a different drawn sword: The one drawn by Khalid ibn al-Walid during the early days of Islam’s confrontations with the Byzantines, Persians and the rest of the unbelievers, and “with it he humiliated and defeated them and brought down their kingdoms.”

What do these things teach us?

The answer is clear. Inside every Islamist is a sort of “latent Bezalel Smotrich,” who dreams of his own kingdom, the Islamic caliphate. He is waiting for the propitious moment to begin his campaign of conquest, with the goal of returning the crown of the caliphate to its past glory. He dreams of the day when “the army will know what to do.”

Ideology of this type will continue to inflict disasters on the peoples of the region, and all the rest of the world. You have been warned.

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