Frequently asked Q & A
1. What inspired you to write this book? I hoped the Oslo process would bring peace ensuring the existence of the State of Israel and the Jewish People. When discussing the Arab-Israel conflict on US campuses I realized students were uninformed and those from the “Left” were taken in by extremist Palestinian nationalist and Islamist rhetoric, but rarely read their literature. Led by Arab Muslim students they were not only anti-Zionist, but antisemitic and usually rejected the two-state solution presented by the pro-Israel students. In 1998 as local council chairman of my town we worked with the Bedouin tribe Arab al-Naim to gain them recognition and town planning from the government. Shortly afterwards the Second Intifada (Low Intensity Conflict) of 2000-04 broke out, bringing Arab riots to the Galilee. These contradictions led me to investigate Hamas extremism to find answers.
2. As a historian, what measures did you take to research your book to ensure it provides a balanced presentation? I do not look for balance where each side is 50% correct. Think of this in terms of Nazism, Bolshevism, Maoism and today’s Jihadism versus democracy and liberalism. I analyze primary source foundational theological-ideological materials to reveal the truth. One must investigate how these ideals impact society for better or worse when the proponents of such values and principles come to power. Understanding the roots of the Hamas Covenant and its implementation helps us to understand the world Jihad objectives and impact. Discussion must rest upon facts, documentation and a clear definition of the issue; in this case – the Hamas Palestinian Islamist Jihadists. This leads to intelligent, fruitful debate.
3. What do Americans need to understand about Hamas-inspired Jihadi Islam? Hamas is a leader and partner to a global Jihadi doctrine, beginning with Jewish destruction but not ending there. Hamas makes clear Jihad is a natural outgrowth of the “only” true interpretation of Islam, that of the Muslim Brotherhood. Palestinian Arab nationalism is only a veneer. The Hamas Muslim Brotherhood doctrine is antisemitic, anti-Christian, anti-democratic, anti-capitalist, anti-socialist, anti-secular, anti-liberal and misogynous, relegating women to a specific unequal place in society. Hamas initiates and exploits the clash with Israel, emphasizing Palestinian suffering, to gain sympathy and support especially among “liberals.” In the Hamas Jihadi world socio-economic factors are secondary while theology is of paramount importance.
4. How is the battle in Israel of Jews with the PLO and Hamas going to end? It is impossible to predict the future but we will attempt some optimism. Israel has no choice other than to eventually fully defeat Hamas; in the meantime pursuing a “containment” policy in Gaza. The Fatah dominated Palestinian Authority supported by the West must retain control of the West Bank Palestinian population. The clash can end with mutual recognition by Israel and the Palestinians with the legitimacy of Jewish and Palestinian Arab nationalism in the form of a two-state solution with the accompanying security arrangements. Without a popular secular Arab nationalist victory in the Middle East, Israel will face the attrition of constant war. Hamas ideals must be crushed from within the Muslim world. If not, Palestinian Jihadism will erupt every few years and there will be no end in sight.
5. What solution do you propose to the violence in the Middle East? The solution is two-fold. Jihadism must be physically eliminated and completely discredited as an ideal like Nazism had been. Jihadism must be replaced by a moderate pluralistic Islam even if it is not democratic. Previously there was an abrogation or nullification of positive attitudes towards non-Muslims. Now is the time for “reverse abrogation” – the nullification of Jihad and the reinforcement of positive attitudes towards non-Muslims. Religious conflict involving Messianic imperatives and expectations must cease when everyone realizes that in a world of “weapons of mass destruction,” the planet will be destroyed before the Messiah arrives. Best we come up with a reinterpretation of Holy Scriptures alongside human-based solutions for borders, security and the like so humanity will still be here at the End of Days.
6. Even if “reverse abrogation” could be implemented, it will take many years for it to sink in. What must be done to stem the violence right now? Jihadist activity must be crushed and its hate speech banned – similar to Nazism. This pertains to the Muslim leadership advocating Jihad, including clerics. However there are no immediate miracles. Educationally we need an in depth examination and dissection of the Koran by Muslims and non-Muslims to expose its ambivalence and emphasize where Islam can take the peaceful path. This can begin immediately in public school systems everywhere. We must work together with Islamic clerics to implement the “reverse abrogation” solution. The hope is they will actively teach these understandings in mosques and Muslim religious schools. Positive attitudes towards Jews, Christians and all other peoples and religions are to be emphasized. Had this process begun after 9/11 we would be 15 years further into defeating Jihadist Islam from the inside.
7. It seems many terrorists are young people, many of whom are not necessarily employed or educated. Would addressing the economic conditions of their people decrease the ability of terror networks to recruit people? Access to education, employment and raising socio-economic levels is generally helpful in reducing extremism but it is only one piece of the puzzle. There were destitute Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and other non-Muslims throughout history. They did not become Holy War fundamentalist, suicide-homicide bombers. Even the Shinto kamakazis contained themselves to battle against other militaries. Jihadi leaders and activists come from the educated middle and even wealthy classes. Bin Laden and the 9/11 bombers are a case in point, as is the Muslim Brotherhood, and in general, the Hamas leadership. Westerners seek out material reasons (Karl Marx/Adam Smith) to explain most everything. We forget theology and ideology play major roles in human behavior leading to the revolutions that change our relationship to the material world.
8. Help us understand the difference between Hamas and the PLO, based on your comparative analysis of two key documents – The Hamas Covenant and The Palestinian National Charter. Hamas is viciously antisemitic demanding virtually total Jewish annihilation, except for maybe a few who willingly submit to the dhimma discriminatory strictures. The State of Israel is understood to be one more Jewish plot to destroy Islam. Jewish national existence contradicts the Islamic theological condemnation of the Jews for breaking their covenant with God, whereby they are banished from the Promised Land forever. The other “plots” include global control of the media, finances, capitalism, socialism, democracy, etc. The PLO demands the destruction of the State of Israel – defined as racist, colonialist, imperialist and other Leftist liberation rhetoric from the 1960s. The Jews are defined as only a religious community. The PLO mutilates Judaism by obliterating its core beliefs of “peoplehood” and the connection to the Land of Israel.
9. How is the war on ISIS and terrorism going? The war on ISIS is not going well. The rogue terror state is on the rampage since June 2014, capturing land, brutally murdering and raping its way to many a victory. Lately they suffered setbacks but with 10,000s of Jihadi warriors from throughout the globe they can recover. They had around a billion dollars income from extortion and theft from those they rule, oil revenues and Qatari-Turkish support. ISIS and al-Qaeda export the theology of Jihad. Only a tiny percent of Muslims needs to act on these ideals and there will be major city lock-downs throughout the West – Paris and Brussels style. If the Islamic State entity is shattered we can expect hundreds of Jihadi terror cells to sprout up throughout the West. The terror attacks and paralysis are Jihadi victories. ISIS inspires global terror offshoots and gains their loyalties. Witness Boko Haram, ISIS in Libya and Sinai and possible alliances with the Taliban. We must add a qualifier – we do not know how many terror plots have been thwarted.
10. Your book shows how a hatred towards the Jews throughout many centuries has flowed through Arabs, Muslims, and others. Why do so many people despise such a small group of people? The Jews are seen as having broken their covenant with God and suffering Exile from the Land of Israel as a result. On the theological level they were superseded first by Christians and then by Muslims for God’s favor. Due to their misdeeds, the Jews are to be punished for their sins, which included discriminatory laws and persecution. The Jews became the demonized institutionalized “out group” suffering accusations like the “blood libel.” By the Middle Ages Jews became identified with the devil on earth, who out of spite, refused to convert to the new “replacement” religion, Christianity or Islam. With the secular Enlightenment, Jews were given equal rights and suffered the backlash. Jews could no longer be “theologically” tainted, so they were deemed racially or “inherently” evil – it was just part of their nature. Jewish State survival intensified the hatred.
11. Will a two-state solution, if implemented, resolve the key issues between Israel and its neighbors? There must be a secularization of the conflict – two national entities claiming the same land. The key issue is, “Whose Land?” Absolutes are the starting positions but God is not making decisions; people are, hence the need for two states. As concerns the Palestinians – borders, security including DMZs, holy site access, Jerusalem – issues that must be solved with respect for religion, but not subject to it. The End Time is not now. Details include settlements (Jews remaining in the Palestinian State), water issues, economic development, etc. Israel has peace with Egypt and Jordan. Lower level relations exist with Morocco, Tunisia and the Gulf States, with the Saudis on board unofficially. We all need to be “good neighbors” – not “co-exist.” Peace with the Palestinians will open most doors although not with the Iranians, their Lebanese Hezbollah allies or the Syrians.
12. Having grown up in New Jersey and then relocating to Israel, do you think Americans understand what is going on in the Middle East? Certainly secular Americans do not understand. The starting point is religion; especially as Islam is the determining factor in identity. Minorities supported secular Arab nationalism to guarantee their equality; Muslims were split between choosing primarily a secular or religious identity. The true Arab Spring was under Nasser and the rise of the Baath in Syria in the 1950s-60s. Overall, the Arab nation states and secular legislation failed. The Islamic Awakening of 2011 (Arab Spring) is the result of an Islamic backlash demanding an “all perfect” Sharia law. “Islam is the Answer” to the world’s troubles. Iran underwent a similar process and Turkey, through the ballot box, is on the way. The clash with Israel is a peripheral issue, but explosive due to the theological overtones and the Palestinian “victimization” narrative penetrating mostly “liberal” Western circles.
13. How do you see the candidates for the White House implementing a foreign policy toward the Middle East crisis? Both the candidates are favorable towards Israel, the Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton is openly advocating a two-state solution. Likewise, conservative American foreign policy supported a two-state solution as evidenced by the pro-Israel George W. Bush. At the moment it is not clear if today’s Republicans will line up here as well, yet they are certainly more actively pro-Israel. On the general Mideast front, the Democrats can be seen holding to a policy of limited engagement against ISIS and the Jihadists. The Republican candidate Donald Trump can be expected to increase American air activity and commit larger ground forces. The Democrats may lean towards supporting popular Islamist regimes like Morsi was in Egypt or the present Erdogan administration in Turkey, should they arise. The Republicans will uphold the a-Sisi type pro-West secular military regimes.
14. How was Israel able to make peace with Egypt and sustain it for more than 35 years when tens of millions of neighboring Arabs hate Israel? Peace with Egypt was a matter of geo-political interests. Sadat shifted out of the Soviet orbit and into the American camp. To do so he needed to come to terms with Israel. He was a secular Arab nationalist who accepted Israel’s existence and was not bound by Koranic verses or Islamist injunctions. Jordan followed suit in 1994 and Israel has partial accords (Oslo) with the Palestinians. Israel’s Menachem Begin understood the “land for peace” deal brokered by the Americans would bring much needed security. The conflict was viewed as national and followed the European models for resolution. The Egyptian “street” is anti-Israel but there is still a big difference between expressing hatred and going to war. Today’s secular Arab states face so many internal threats that they have little interest in conflict with Israel.
15. How did Czarist Nazi attitudes toward the Jews develop within the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood? At the outset there was traditional Islamic antisemitism similar to the Czarist type until the publication of the famous Russian forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, accusing Jews of seeking world conquest through control over global finance, capitalism, socialism, democracy and world revolutionary movements. These attitudes penetrated into Mideast Christian Churches and became known to Muslims. The rise of Jewish nationalism or Zionism contradicted Muslim stereotypes of the Jews as subjugated weaklings whose conniving would never succeed and augmented them with the Czarist model reinforced by previous Islamic attitudes condemning the Jew as the Dajjal or devil. Hitler adopted the Czarist attitudes and added the racial factor. Hamas integrated the Czarist accusations and Nazi stereotypes into their demonization of the Jews and made it holy writ in their Covenant.
16. The attacks in Paris and Brussels this past fall and winter seem to have stimulated terrorists to take bold actions while also forcing the West to install a more aggressive fight plan. How do we bring negotiations into the process? There are no possibilities for negotiations, just complete defeat of the Jihadist side. The West must be resolute or face continued terror attacks. Jihadi Islam must be forced into unconditional surrender with no place to hide on earth, its doctrines so completely discredited that only the re-evaluation of Islam’s foundational beliefs and a shift to a peaceful and accepting way of life will end the Western offensive. The only negotiations possible are those on the level of theological interfaith discussions where all religions and peoples have a right to exist. Discussions must take place to decide which Islamic interpretations are acceptable and what others constitute a declaration of war. The West can help the Islamic World see its way to a better future.
17. It seems out of 1.5 billion Muslims only a tiny handful is engaged in extremist activities. So is it really the Koran and their religion that makes the Jihadists violent – or is there some other motivating factor at play? The “tiny handful” adds up to 50,000 – 250,000 ISIS Jihadis according to varying inexact estimates. Percentages are small but the absolute numbers are not. Many other Sunni Muslims support ISIS despite unclear statistics. An Al-Jazeera poll showed 81% Arab world approval in an online poll. Others, like the Pew Research Center, published a poll not particularly focusing on the Mideast which seems to show a 5% or so approval rating. Support for ISIS provides the reservoir of future activists – 1% equaling 15 million Muslims. ISIS has barely tapped its potential for future combatants and terrorists. Some claim it is the thrill of power attracting Jihadists, but excitement can be found elsewhere. Jihadis believe destruction of others and death for Islam expresses a pure love and at oneness with Allah.
18. Why is it important that Americans gain a historical and legal review of the Jewish-Islamic relationship of the past 1,400 years? Understanding the Jewish-Islamic relationship is important because it illustrates the deep-rooted dislikes and antisemitism, as embodied in passages from the Koran, the Hadith and the Charter of Omar legal statutes. These attitudes began in the 7th and 8th centuries and were not caused by Zionism or the present conflict between Israel and Arab Muslims. This Jihadist behavior continued into the 20th century exhibiting reinforced hatreds when the Zionist movement made clear to the world that the Jewish People would liberate themselves and re-establish independence in the ancient homeland while offering peace to their neighbors. This form of Islamic vilification augmented its abhorrence of the Jews by zealously adding Czarist/Nazi accusations and stereotypes. What we see here is a spiraling continuum.
19. You live in a part of Israel where Arabs are the majority. How do you co-exist peacefully with them? Arabic speakers are a majority (52%) in the Galilee. Some such as the Druze and many of the Bedouin tribes are quite pro-Israel (both generally serving in the army), while the Christian Arabs may be less pro-state but feel increasingly threatened by the rise of Jihadi activism among Muslims. The large majority of Muslim villagers and city folk identify more with secular Arab nationalism than the recently outlawed Islamic Front. Israeli democracy is appreciated but is seen as not going far enough to guarantee equal rights and opportunities. Overall non-Jews in Israel want to play down Zionism and benefit from democracy. Since the October, 2000 riots, there is more cooperation for joint economic development and efforts towards cross-cultural and religious understandings. There is a common destiny.
20. The Jihadists despise Christians and not just Jews. How do they feel towards other religions or secular groups? Christians are despised just a bit less than Jews (Koran 5:82). As a dhimmi group or “People of the Book,” they are to pay the discriminatory jizya tax and are allowed to live a second-class oppressed existence, and if not, they must convert to Islam or die. Pagans and Jews are seen together in an extreme negative light. Polytheists and idolaters are to adopt Islam or be executed. Socialism, capitalism, liberal democracy or any form of human self-rule not adhering to Sharia law may be considered a capital offense. Buddhism, Hinduism and the Far Eastern religions are Pagan, while Atheism and Agnosticism are among the deniers of Allah. Likewise these above groups are to be converted to Islam or eliminated.
21. What immediate steps need to be taken to improve Arab Israel relations? We need to move to Stage II of the Bush Road Map (2003) calling for a Palestinian Arab State with temporary but expanded borders beyond those of Areas A’ and B’ today. All terrorism and incitement (especially from the Palestinian Authority itself) must be uprooted. Both Palestinian – whether Jihadi or national, and the extremist right wing religious Jewish type such as the “Price Tag” underground, some of whose members are now facing trial in Israel, need to be stopped. This involves administrative detentions, when necessary by Israel and the Palestinian Authority. The PA must recognize the legitimacy of the State of Israel as the “nation state of the Jewish People” and Israel must recognize the Palestinian State as the nation state of the Palestinian Arab People. Joint security arrangements need to be strengthened. Both sides must work to defeat the Jihadists.
22. What does the civil war in Syria mean to Israel? Foremost, the ethnic war in Syria is a humanitarian disaster. It leaves Syria as a much weakened virtual non-state. Syria kept the Golan frontier quiet for 38 years which worked to Israel’s advantage despite Assad’s alliance with Iran and Hezbollah. The Disengagement and Limitation of Forces Agreement of 1974 ensured stability. Now with chaos and anarchy there is no state entity in control on the Syrian border. Israel faces either the Khomeinist Iranian led Hezbollah and rump Syrian forces, the Jabat al-Nusra Jihadists – Sunnis similar to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS) or ISIS itself. Both sides are bleeding each other, yet are distracted from attacking, thereby working to Israel’s advantage in the short term. Whoever wins will demand Israel’s destruction. The day of reckoning is only postponed.