As long as Islam remains a potent force in the world, the Jewish nation of Israel will never have tranquility. It may enjoy relative peace through strength and vigilance, but it will never be able to let down its guard. There are three major reasons for this, as far as I can tell.
First, the formation of the modern state of Israel stemmed from the unjust arrogation of power by the Allied powers after WWII who were seeking to ease their consciences as well as avoid waves of European Jews immigrating to their shores. The establishment of a Jewish homeland, backed by biblical precedent, seemed a heaven-sent solution. The only problem was that it created a forced dislocation of the unfortunate people who already inhabited that land – Palestinian Arabs who lost their land and homes and possessions, other than what they could carry as they were “sent packing.” My father’s family, who lived in the Golan (then part of Syria) but had farming land near the Sea of Galilee, lost this land once the borders of newly-formed Israel became secure and they could no longer traverse previously well-worn roads to their farmland. It became the property of newly immigrating Jewish squatters, sanctioned by the United Nations and the Great Powers of the United States, Great Britain and France. Until the leadership groups of Israel and the Palestinians arrive at a mutually agreeable resolution (which I believe is possible) of the original injustice done to the pre-1948 inhabitants of the land, Israel will not have peace. A major reason for this is not that the Palestinians themselves have the power to disrupt life in Israel, but that the Islamic world has taken up the cause of the Palestinian people (who are mostly Muslim), and is using this cause (under the guise of seeking justice) to pursue a more nefarious agenda.
That agenda is seen in reasons two and three why Israel will not find tranquility. Reason two is rooted in Islamic triumphalism. The Muslim eschatological imperative teaches that from the time of Muhammad God has been on the move to conquer all the rebel territory of the world that refuses to submit to Islam. Territory once conquered has now become the possession of Allah and is part of “the Kingdom of God.” Once in the fold, it will never be relinquished. So, orthodox Muslim ideology prescribes that the Kingdom of God/Islam will always be expanding, for God is all-powerful and cannot be withstood by puny infidels. Islam has never developed a robust theology of weakness/loss, and so lands that were once claimed by past caliphates but now enjoy freedom from the domination of Islamic rule confound the dogmatic fiction that Islam is always advancing, never retreating, certainly never being defeated. The loss of the Iberian Peninsula still sticks in the craw of historically-aware Muslims, but the nation of Israel is a cancer which threatens to expose and destroy their theological fantasy, so it must be destroyed instead, and the land (which contains Islam’s third holiest site) returned to Islam (and secondarily, to the Palestinians, provided they in principle remain Muslims). As long as Islam continues to be a major world influence, this theology of conquest will put the non-Muslim world on the defensive.
But even worse for the survival of Israel than Muslim triumphalism is reason number three: Islam is inherently and virulently anti-Jewish. Hatred for Jews is woven throughout the Quran, particularly in Muhammad’s later “revelations.” Those viewpoints were never abrogated by Muhammad, but stand today for Muslims as God’s final word on how Muslims should view Jews. They are to be exterminated whenever possible, because they are the enemies of God, having rebelled against Him in their refusal to follow God’s will as defined by the Quran. This religious hatred is inculcated in Muslim children from their youngest days, and is stoked by the fuel of the most authoritative writings of Islam, not just the Hadith literature and the Sira (biographies) of Muhammad, but the Quran itself. Such traditions call the Jews “descendants of apes and pigs,” based on three passages in the Quran: 7:166, 2:65, and 5:60. The first recounts a fable, not found in any ancient Jewish literature, about a group of Jews who, against God’s express command, continue to gather fish on the Sabbath day. In Allah’s own words, “But when even after this they disdainfully persisted in that from which they were forbidden, We said to them, ‘Become apes—despised and disgraced!’” The second and third passages portray God as referring back to this story with a warning to Muhammad’s contemporary listeners. 2:65-66 declares, “And you know well the story of those among you who broke Sabbath. We said to them: ‘Be apes—despised and hated by all.’ Thus We made their end a warning to the people of their time and succeeding generation, and an admonition for God-fearing people.” It implies that God may do the same to any today who remain recalcitrant. Should there be any lingering doubt, 5:60 seals the deal: “Then say: ‘Should I inform you [i.e., the Jews and Christians listening to Muhammad] of those, who will have even worse recompense from Allah than the transgressors? They are those whom Allah has cursed; who have been under His wrath; some of whom were turned into apes and swine; who worshiped idols; those are the people who are in a far worse plight and who have turned farthest away from the Right Way’.”
A favorite anti-Jewish tradition (found in seven similar iterations throughout the two most highly revered Hadith collections – Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim) quoted with regularity throughout the Muslim world is the following: Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said, “The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say “O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him” (Bukhari: 4.52.177). This tradition is actually quoted in the Hamas Charter of 1988 as a justification for their intention to destroy Israel, as a stepping stone to Islam’s wholesale slaughter of all Jews at the day of Judgment. (I’ll take a closer look at the Charter of Hamas in my next posting.)
While I am not in agreement with the way in which Israel as a modern nation was created, nevertheless this country has now been in existence for sixty-six years. The clock cannot be turned back without creating further injustices to those now inhabiting the land. The only reasonable solution will be for both Israelis and Palestinians to compromise by accepting an agreement in which both give up some claims in order to gain lasting peace. Unfortunately, as long as the ideology of Islam and the fanaticism of orthodox Muslims feed the animus of Palestinians against Jews generally and Israelis in particular, the prospects for enduring peace, are in my lowly opinion, bleak.