Maggid ben Yoseif / Jerusalem Torah Voice in Exile

Rosh Hashanah 5764 / September 15, 2004

December 18, 2006 / 27 Kislev 5767

Iraq Study Group, elder statesmen, attempt to revive faulty 'Road Map'

Biblical alternative establishes two contiguous states, two 'leum'

Elder statesmen calling for the revival of peace talks between Israel and "moderate" Palestinians include Nobel Laureate Jimmy Carter. The wisdom of the former president and the hoary heads who compiled the Iraq Study Group Report as it pertains to U.S. Foreign Policy in Israel and the Middle East may not be ignored.  But that wisdom has been better informed than the study and the former president's book "Palestine:  Peace Not Apartheid," might reveal.

 

'Wrong Ideas about Islam'

 

The Bush Administration has embarked on a foreign policy in Iraq hell-bent on fomenting a Western-style democracy in the heart of a sectarian Islamic friction that has been ongoing since the death of Muhammad.  Talk about dream an improbable dream.

 

In "Wrong Ideas about Islam:  What the West Should Know," published in our November 1993 special edition of the Jerusalem Torah Voice and Investigative Report -- the stated bottom line from Moshe Sharon, a professor of Islamic studies at Hebrew University in Jerusalem was:

There can be no 'secular, democratic Palestinian Arab state' in which Moslems, Christians and Jews share the same rights.

As explained by an Islamic imam with whom we learned in the late 1980s in the all-Moslem village of Beit Phage, the same would apply to any democratic venture in any Arab nation in the Middle East.

 

Islam and Arab Nationalism

 

"Arab Nationalism is based on Islam as its focus of identity," the imam taught.  The more radical and fundamental the brand of Islam, the more adamantly it is aimed philosophically and doctrinally against perceived threats to Arab Nationalism, including and especially "Zionism."

 

The 'leum' or ideology of Esau

 

In the Koran, Christians and Jews are relegated to a lower social order. Radical Islam also awaits the worldwide submission (Islam) of the infidel to the doctrine of the prophet, Muhammad, with the goal of making the entire world dar-al-Islam, the "Home of Islam." This social discrimination and religious world view is at odds with the basic tenets of democracy guaranteeing those very social and religious freedoms. It also defines "peace" as "the cessation of war with one's enemies only while the enemy is stronger." When the enemy is weaker, the imam taught that the war must be resumed.  This religious world order also defines Islam and the Moslems who embrace it as a "leum" or ideology apart from the non-Islamic world.

 

False hopes raised

 

The failure of the Carter, Clinton and two Bush administrations to recognize and understand the concept of the "leum" has placed blinders on U.S. foreign policy in Israel. Our policymakers have been unable to "think out of the box" since being "locked-in" to the U.N. "will" that the Palestinian state must restore the 1967 borders. But this "will" clashes with the Will.  It has also raised false hopes among Palestinians. The crushing of that false hope has been directly linked to the Islamic sentiment fomenting 911 and the earlier bombing at the World Trade Center in 1993.

 

Our diplomatic initiative has ignored the "irreconcilable differences" and incompatible ideologies that define two separate "leumim."  Instead, we are trying to broker peace between children of Esau and children of Jacob who the Torah describes as irreconcilable.

 

Incompatible 'leumim'

 

As their mother, Rebecca was told, when the two unborns "agitated within her":

"Two nations are in your womb; two "leumim" from your insides shall be separated; the might shall pass from one leum to the other, and the elder shall serve the younger."  (Genesis 25:23)

The logic of this separation is part of the system of checks and balances put in place by the God of Israel to reward or correct Israel according to its observance or non-observance of the Torah of Moses.  As the sages of Torah have written, the "voice of Jacob" overcomes the "hand of Esau" only when Israel observes the Torah by which it was destined to become a light to the nations. Otherwise, the hand of Esau has every liberty to "throw off its yoke."

 

An Israeli oath to Allah?

 

Further, before entering their Promised Land, all of Israel swore an oath to the God of Israel and to His "Allah."  If they would forget their Torah, God would allow the "sword of Allah" to exact its vengeance."  (Deuteronomy 29:11-13)

 

The Bush Administration's Road Map, ignorant of these biblical commands and spiritual principles has attempted to forge a non-contiguous Palestinian state in Judea-Samaria and Gaza connected by a "security corridor."  As in Iraq, where planners underestimated the sectarian friction, our policy in Israel violates a basic spiritual tenet of the Torah:  Thou shalt keep separate Jacob and Esau.

 

A Western pipe dream

 

With Arab Nationalism and Islam so intertwined, the separation between religion and state necessary for a democracy to take root, let alone flourish, was someone's "Western" pipe dream. 

 

The democratic experiment has all but failed in Iraq. In a region heavy with both Sunni and Shi'a mosques, U.S. intelligence has badly miscalculated and underestimated the sectarian fervor, which was suppressed during and through the tyranny of Saddam Hussein.

 

How Saddam used the sectarian hatred

 

Saddam used this 1,300-year disagreement between Moslems on whether Muhammad should be succeeded by a blood relative to his advantage.  In his 8-year war with Iran, Saddam conscripted mostly Sunni Arabs to fight mostly Shi'ite Persians, intensifying the hatred of each sect of Islam toward the other.  Only when charging Iranian youths armed with Korans were killed by the hundreds by Iraqi soldiers did the warring factions declare a cease fire. Temporarily, the warring factions were united against the enemy who had armed both sides of the battle:  the United States and its military establishment.  (See Black Roads in Israel and Iraq)

 

A black chapter in U.S. foreign policy

 

There is an unfortunate and very black chapter in U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Its introduction is the tenure of former CIA Director George H.W. Bush.  The former president's CIA tenure ended about a year before the Ayotollah Khomeini, Iran's religious leader, ordered his followers to take hostage 52 U.S. State Department workers in 1979.  The Ayotollah was demonized throughout America. His claims that these State Department workers included CIA spies who were overly interested in Iranian energy supplies were never adequately investigated.  Under the arrangement the U.S. had with the Shah of Iran, which the CIA was there to protect, it was less expensive to import Persian Gulf oil than to produce it domestically in the U.S.

 

Laws protecting U.S. National Security interests extend to our energy interests in the Middle East.  Therefore, the involvement of George H.W. Bush, James Baker, Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney in securing these interests, though they have resulted in windfall profits for the energy sector, remain protected and without scrutiny.

 

Moslem invitations have 'double-edged' message

 

It is the custom of religious Moslems to extend the invitation of making Islam one's home as a test of one's respect for the prophet Muhammad. Leaders of nations who are now occasionally put to this test, such as our State Department liaisons, should be particularly wary.  Rejecting the prophet's message out of hand brands that person -- and by extension -- the nation for whom he/she speaks an "infidel" and  in the minds of the Islamic extremists satisfies the prior condition of extending "mercy" before one is allowed to administer the sword.

 

A dangerous and damning precedent

 

U.S. intelligence plotting the overthrow of Saddam Hussein drastically and fatally underestimated the power of Saddam in reigning in the sectarian violence.  In choosing to "go after al-Queida," in Iraq, U.S. military strategists hoped to "stage the war" over there as a deterrent to fighting it domestically.

 

This was a dangerous pre-emptive precedent and a damning one. It has diminished our standing in the eyes of the World community because we are perceived as being "occupiers" seeking to protect "our" energy interests in the Persian Gulf. It has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians and made ten times that many enemies.  It has made Iraq into a training ground for al-Queida resistance and rallied popular support in the Middle East for America's new enemy.

 

Not the seeds of success

 

On a more esoteric note, military strategists have chosen to fight this battle and rebuild this country in a region -- Babylon -- that the Bible has forever condemned. These are not the seeds of success, but of judgment and retribution. America will reap what America has sown and Americans should pray for crop failure.

 

Some may argue that it was impossible to anticipate the Sunni-Shi'a sectarian violence that has erupted.  But the 8-year Persian Gulf War between Sunni Iraqis and Iranian Shi'ia was, to a very great extent, such a sectarian Islamic war. It also seems suspicious that the Iraq-Iran war ended on a note that almost united both sides against the U.S. and the U.S. military and defense establishment, who had armed both sides.

 

The Black Road ahead in Iraq was evident we suspect (since the information is privileged, it can't be proven at this time) because of "Bush hatred" in the Middle East. This goes back to the late 1970s, when Bush was the director of the CIA and its black operations in the Middle East leading up to the Ayotollah Khomeini's charge that State Department workers held hostage included CIA spies.

 

True, the Koran states, "Hate your enemies mildly, because they might some day no longer be enemies." But in 1991, the whole Islamic "nation" comprising Iraq and Iran was burning President George H.W. Bush if effigy!

 

Snubbing the sheikdoms

 

Our efforts to help rebuild Iraq after the fall of Saddam also failed in summarily dismissing the various Sunni and Shi'a sheikdoms.  In a vacuum of power sans Saddam, these sheiks' influence the minds and actions of the people of Iraq. Instituting a "democratic election" in a nation that would increase one sectarian power at the expense of another, the U.S. occupation has upset a delicate balance of power. Given the long history of conflict between the two spiritual sects of Islam, those who orchestrated the rebuilding of Iraq and who snubbed the sheikdoms, may have brought about this civil war.

 

Where is Joseph's return in U.S.-Israeli policy?

 

The staff at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University in Houston may recall our previous contacts relating concerns about U.S. Foreign Policy in Israel "treading" on the territories of Joseph (the head region in the outline above).

 

We detect no understanding of these cautions in the Iraq Study Group's report calling for the abandonment of Jewish settlements in these territories of Joseph. We also continue to suspect complicity in the attempts by former Secretary of State Baker to force Israel to abandon and disband Jewish settlements in Judea-Samaria so as to revive the faulty Road Map of the Bush Administration. Faulty, we allege, because it paves the way for a non-contiguous Palestinian state in Judea Samaria and the Gaza Strip.

 

Tampering with the birthright

 

This, despite our warnings that accommodating a Palestinian state in the territories of Joseph would "hand the birthright of Jacob-Joseph back to Esau."  Tampering with a birthright is considered the blackest of black roads among Native Americans. This is because it is a transgression against your own blood and the "undisturbed" Will of the Creator.  It also represents theft of a gift rather than its appreciation. And, as oft recorded in the Bible, tampering with a birthright results in a biblical curse, according to the terms of Genesis 12:3.  Declines in the U.S., social morality, environment, security, world presence, ability to govern, military standing and a whole litany of other problems including the popularity rating of the Bush presidency and the Republican base have been correlated to U.S. policy that affects Israel and even visits of heads of state from the Middle East.

 

Alleged Apartheid

 

President Carter also has been better informed than his new book,  "Palestine:  Peace not Apartheid," might reveal.

 

As a former senior editor on the staff of the Jerusalem Post, I once used the attributed word "Apartheid" in a headline about a story comparing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the plight of Apartheid South Africa. I was almost relieved of my duties for doing so.

 

Apartheid describes the people in South Africa who are forced to live apart from others because of racial discrimination.  It does not adequately describe the biblical mandate to keep Jacob and Esau separate, since Jacob and Esau are from the same racial origin (the family of Isaac).  Initially, at least, the acts of discrimination including inferior housing and living conditions in refugee camps, are the fault of the United Nations, not Israel.

 

The United Nations -- not Israel -- funded and built and were responsible for maintaining the camps. But the squalor and deplorable conditions have been blamed on Israel.  Before anyone accuses Israel of "Apartheid," one should examine the willingness of 22 Arab nations to accept Palestinian refugees and why they decline to do so.  It becomes obvious that the Palestinian people represent the "whipping boy" of Israel to the world, an image the Arab leaders are not quick to correct or discourage.

 

'No Us or Them; only We'

 

Ideally, in a world promoting globalization and a world community, there should be no "Us" or "Them."  There should only be "We."  Every nation should examine its focus and vision in light of this coming universality.

 

Also Israel. Ideally, the modern Jewish state should have one education system, one transportation system, one currency, one government for both Palestinians and Israelis.  But Palestinian ultra-Nationalism coupled with the Islamic resistance to a Zionist presence in lands considered "dar-al-Islam" (the Home of Islam) have made this improbable if not impossible to achieve, especially in light of the biblical mandate to keep Jacob and Esau apart.

 

Maggid ben Yoseif

 

 

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