By Mordechai Kedar
Submitted by Dan Friedman, NYC
Read the article in Italiano (translated by Yehudit Weisz, edited by Angelo Pezzana)
The elections are approaching in Israel, and polls are predicting what the Arab media calls, with great dread, "the meteoric rise of the radical right in Israel". Every article about the Israeli political map has the latest polls, showing the obvious trend that all of us here are aware of. In recent days this writer's telephone has been ringing constantly, with a representative of one Arab media outlet or another on the other end, all of whom are absorbed by one great concern: the strengthening of the Jewish spirit in Israel. The radio stations in the Palestinian Authority, where - I must admit - I am often interviewed, express the most apprehension.
The question is: Why is the Arab world so concerned and what are they worried about? One possible answer is that the radical right will take over the country and Israel will go to war against the Palestinians in order to destroy the Palestinian Authority and undo all of the achievements, especially the international recognition that they won in the General Assembly of the UN about two months ago. Even if I cannot deny this possibility, it doesn't seem to me that this is the real reason for the anxiety, because there are many - especially in the Palestinian Authority - who wish to dissolve the PA, as we saw last week in the article that we published on this honorable platform.
The reasons for the concern are deeper than this, and stem from the cultural mindset of the region. An Israel that has a strong character and is confident of itself and the justice of its cause, might stop behaving like a dishrag, as it has done in the past, more than once, under the irresponsible leadership of the bleeding hearts who are the "Pursuers of Peace", and might adopt a pattern of behavior typical to the Middle East. More than a few Israeli politicians, some of them prime ministers, who sought "a solution now" have earned for Israel the image of "peace seekers", according to their point of view, but which the Middle East understood as "Obsequious beggars pleading for a little peace and quiet". In the Middle East only the vanquished, pleading for his life to be spared, begs for peace, and usually he will get a big, strong kick that will hurl him all the way down the stairs. Peace is the last thing you get when you beg for it.
In the embattled region where Israel is situated, the weak individual gets beaten up: he is shot at, missiles rain down upon him, his buses are blown up, he is de-legitimized, marginalized diplomatically, sued in international courts, states are established on his back that threaten him and declare their violent struggle against him again and again, and he - the weak one - must take all of this garbage that is rained down upon him and say, "It's only words". Sometimes he issues a warning but few take him seriously because he is weak and obsequious; he "seeks peace".
In contrast, only the strong and self-confident, he who can pose a threat, who does not restrain himself at all from utilizing full force, who will not surrender anything due to him, will have peace and tranquility. Everyone else will leave him be because they fear him, and this is the only peace that is recognized in the Middle East. Peace belongs to the one who responds with great power to the first missile that falls into his territory, even if it falls in an open area; who doesn't say on the radio, "no damage was caused", because the truth of the matter is that indeed great damage was caused to his sovereignty, and nothing is more important than his sovereignty. Would a normal person accept someone shooting at his house, even if "no damage was caused"?
The Arab world fears an Israel that after the elections might be - good heavens - more Jewish, because then the world might remember that the Jews, not the Israelis, were expelled from here 1942 years ago, and now the Jews have returned to their historic land - Judea. A more Jewish Israel might be a "bad" example to Europe, where a sense of national identity is in continual decline and where they watch with indifference the alien invasion that is threatening the character of Europe. The strengthening of the Israeli Right might therefore encourage the European Right to put an end to the great immigration of the masses who expect to turn Europe into their land.
A Jewish Israel could be a magnet attracting Jews the world over to immigrate to Israel and to make Israel the center of their life, and thus it will be strengthened demographically, economically, socially and politically. This process might be encouraged by the antisemitism in Europe, which is rising as the Jews lose their influence and the public weight is transferred to groups of immigrants that don't become part of the society of old, sleepy Europe.
A Jewish Israel will concentrate within it the educated Jews, the entrepreneurs, the inventors, the developers and the cutting-edge scientists who brought the Jewish people a prodigious number of Nobel prizes, and thus Israel will become a bastion of science, technology and development, innovation and entrepreneurship, while everything around it - chiefly in the past two years - becomes a quagmire of blood, fire and tears, pillars of smoke, destruction and devastation.
A sovereign and self-confident Jewish Israel will prove to its neighbors again that the Jews are not just another "protected people" ("ahl dhimmi" in their language) who must live according to rules determined by the imams, and must "pay the head tax in a humiliated condition" (Qur'an, Sura 9, Verse 29) according to the Islamic custom in the seventh century CE. A Jewish Israel will cling with more determination to Jerusalem, the capital of the Jews since 3000 years ago, long before the sons of the desert broke into it and invented a history that supposedly grants them the rights to Jerusalem since the creation of the world.
With a Jewish Israel, the mutual bonds of responsibility will be strengthened among Jews, and they will establish a more just, unified, fair and humane society, and Jewish society will be stronger and more robust, more determined and more able to stand the tests of life that anyone who wants to survive in the Middle East are subjected to. This society will have a clearer self image, and will not need to discriminate against minorities only in order to prove to itself that it is "different". As a result of this, the way the state relates to minorities, especially the Muslim minority, will be more humane and understanding, because - after all - many of the Jewish majority and the Muslim minority see eye to eye concerning the true problems of traditional society in a modern and permissive physical and virtual environment. Jews and Muslims alike aspire to promote the education of the young generation, ethical behavior of the sons and daughters of their society, restricting the use of drugs and alcohol, honoring parents and teachers and adherence to religious and traditional values.
A Jewish Israel will present a solid wall of defense against Islamic radicalization and tribalism in the Arab world, and will prove that only a people who clings to its identity and is faithful to its heritage can stand strong against the tidal wave of radicalization and violence that engulfs the Middle East, and this is exactly what frightens our neighbors: those who hoped that with the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, Israel would be paralyzed with fear and would flee from all of its assets, discover that, contrary to their theory, Israel is the state of the Jewish Brotherhood, and will not flee from an enemy. A Jewish state such as this will prove to those near and far that the Jews have returned to their historical and eternal homeland and will remain there forever and ever, and only this way will Israel win peace from her neighbors. It will not be a peace of hugs and kisses, because there is no such thing in the Middle East, but rather it will be a peace that stems from our neighbors' recognition of the reality that the Almighty has imposed upon them, and the realization that they have no choice but to accept it as it is. Within Islamic tradition, there is a way to give peace to infidels who are invincible; temporary peace that continues as long as the enemy is invincible. This is the peace that Israel can win from her neighbors, and it will continue forever, but only if Israel is invincible forever.
A more Jewish Israel will ensure peace among all of the citizens and will oblige her neighbors to leave her in peace, and this is the reason that her neighbors fear a more Jewish Israel.
السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
a-salam 'alaykum warahmat Allah wabarakatuhu.
[Peace be upon you and Allah's mercy and his blessings.]
Dr. Kedar is available for lectures
Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Mordechai.Kedar@biu.ac.il) is an Israeli scholar of Arabic and Islam, a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. He specializes in Islamic ideology and movements, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena.
Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav with permission from the author.