Palestine Is Not A Muslim Issue

Mona Eltahawy writes on MuslimWakeUp!,

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not a Muslim issue. It is a dispute over land, it is about an occupation that must end and it is about a people who deserve a state. But it is not a religious dispute.
For too long, the assumption that this is a religious conflict has gone unquestioned, with dangerous consequences. A friend of two British men of Pakistani descent who set off explosives in London on July 7 that killed themselves along with more than 50 others told The Washington Post recently he had seen the bombers watching a DVD that purported to show an Israeli soldier killing a Palestinian girl.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been one of the most jumped upon bandwagons in both the Arab and the Muslim world but framing it in religious terms serves no one’s interest, least of all the Palestinians.

Read on…

29 thoughts on “Palestine Is Not A Muslim Issue

  1. If the Palstinian issue were really about the Palestinians, they’d still be complaining that when the U.N. created their state in 1948, it was overrun the next day, obliteratred, and occupied by the united armies of all their Arab neighbors.
    If the Palstinian issue were really about the Palestinians, the imprisonment of the refugees by their Arab “hosts” for generations, while tens of millions of refugees everywhere else in the world have been able to build new homes and lives, would be acknowledged as a crime agaisnt humanity.
    If the Palstinian issue were really about the Palestinians, the Jews of Hebron, who had lived there for over three thousand years (twice as long as Islam has existed) and were expelled en masse in the pogroms of the 1920’s would also have a Right of Return.
    If the Palstinian issue were really about the Palestinians, there would be no one who simultaneously pretended to be civilized and who condoned the random murder of ANY children, ANYwhere.

  2. She is very right. And frankly, Jews ought to wake up to the same reality. This is a geo-political conflict. Obviously people’s religious views are influencing its evolution, but if religious groups focussed on making sure that each nationality could achieve the rights of self-determination, freedom of religion and security, side-by-side, we’d get to a solution a hell of a lot more quickly.
    The whole “my religion is more right than yours” argument has taken the debate hostage, to the severe detriment of both societies. The Palestinians continue to suffer under corrupt leadership, hate indoctrination and poverty. Jews, though, are losing too– racism, hate and myopia are ripping apart the fabric of the Jewish community. It’s very sad for me when I see extremist settlers on TV acting against the very values that embody Judaism in my mind.

  3. Mo, It’d be nice to post Neil’s response.
    If the ‘Palestinians’ have a right to a state, does this necessarily mean that the Jews also have that same right?
    Can a Jew go anywhere in the world (except Israel) and escape the anti-semitism (anti-Judaism) of their neighbors?
    Then think…
    Can an Arab or Muslim go anywhere in the world outside of ‘Palestine’ and escape anti-Muslim or anti-Arab persecution of his/her neighbors?

  4. Kelsey if this is muslims vs Jews how do you account for Palestinian christians like Ashrawi, Said, and this Palestinian comedian “Ray Hanania? How do you account for the fact that the victims in this recent attack on arabs were Druze and Christian?

  5. The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is most definantly NOT a religious conflict, what with the mostly secular Israelis and the multiple Palestinian religious communities. There is no inherent conflict between Judaism and Islam. This has nothing to do with either, but is a struggle between refugees that is left-over from WWII and the cold European climate that would not make ammends on their anti-Semitism (I like Europe now though).

  6. David Kelsey,
    Perhaps you don’t. Because what it is is a political conflict that is easily exploited through religious rhetoric. Like just about any other political conflict.
    Why should it be necessary for Arab and Jewish national rights to be mutually exclusive in the former British Mandate?
    If Israel cannot afford to enfranchise Palestinians within the Israeli political system, and if it cannot afford to expel each and every Arab from the territories to who knows where, then what options does that leave Israel?

  7. On many occasions, especially within the last few weeks, many confused Jews have questioned me regarding the Torah’s opinion on the Kahane idea. To most Jews, it is a very complex topic, where you may find some people for it and others in vehement opposition. But what do our great sages say?
    See http://heshyshouse.blogspot.co

  8. Thanks Heshy: Talmud Eruvin 43 b and Pesachim 13
    There are many thousands of square miles where the Arab or Mulsim is welcome home. However, in these same places Jews are not welcome, tolerated, and in some cases banned.
    If Arabia spanned the entire world where would there be a place for a Jew? If Israel spanned the world, there would be a place for Islam.

  9. We can’t rid ourselves of all moral obligation simply by saying that Muslims and Arabs haven’t treated us fairly.
    And actually, Palestinians are not treated so well in places like Jordan (the whole black september thing or whatever that was). We can’t blanket-define palestinians as arabs; they may see as “western colonial agents who are welcome in the USA” regardless of how accurate or fair that is.

  10. The conflict is over whatever discourse people frame the issue in. And for many people, this discourse is centered in religion.
    But having said that, let’s face it : it’s Judaism vs Islam. Would the Islamic world be pissed off if instead of the Jews dominating Palestine/ Israel, it was the Jordanians or Egyptians? No they wouldn’t!!
    The dispute is ‘which cultural system wil have its values and instituions dominate the human societies that exist in this land [Israel / Palestine]’? I hope to God Judaism wins. However, as Bycenator above has made out, with a victory for Islam, there will be no place for Judaism, however if Judaism wins, there will still be a place for Islam.

  11. Hi, all. New to comments…First of all, delegitamizing the relgious aspect of the conflict in effect delegitamizes Jewish claims to the land. On a lesser note, it also vastly ignores the terminology (judea/samaria vs. w. bank, martyr vs. terrrorist, etc.), the impetus/excuse for suicide murder (and the whole of ceremonial practices attached), the virulent anti-Jewish (not Israeli) statments and speaches and preaches, etc., the anti-Islamist and anti-Arab ditto headed commentary alive and well and hard to ignore, and, oh yeah, the historical religious Jewish presence in Hebron and Jerusalem, etc. much of secular zionism chooses to ignore… This “issue” is way too damn complex and quagmirish (!) to expurgate any one aspect (relgion, land, culture, tradition, race…) at one’s convenience. Not wanting it to be a relgious issue–which seems to me the point of the writer’s–doesn’t take away from the fact that it is and has always has had an aspect of relgion to it.
    The writer claims it is not a Muslim issue, that it is a people issue, that Palestinians need to take the issue back from the Islamists, etc. The Grand Mufti huffed and puffed and kissed Hitler tuchis. And going back further to ’29 in Hebron with religious tainted rumors… Why go on? The article writer wants to take Islam out of the issue on a site called Muslim WakeUp. Okay. By taking Islam out, do they give up Jerusalem? Does the writer expect Jewish religious zionists or the Jewish religious non-zionist lovers of Jews no matter where they live and what they believe to take Hashem out of the issue? And by taking Islam off the table, the writer doesn’t even argue that the violence will subside! By claiming the two mentioned terrorists were not inspired by relgious sentiments but by empathy for the victim, the writer seems to say that the violence will not only continue, but find a newer, more powerful inspiration… Or am I reading wrong?
    For my first post, a bit long winded and perhaps simplistic. Oh well.

  12. Heshy I read your post but its completely off.
    I learnt in Yeshivoth and I still learn.
    Why is demonstrating and helping soviet Jews get out not laudable? Did you ever hear of Mesirat Nefesh to help other Jews? How dare you talk down on helping pother Jews becasue you think he should have started a Kiruv organization.
    Did you know that he was the Rabbi of Howard beach Jewish Center before the JDL and he was fired becasue the kids were all coming home with Tzitzith?!
    You ignorant fool who has Rebbeim who are ignorant fools.
    There is no question to me that the reason thousands of Jews and not Non-Jews were being let out of Russia in the 70’s before it fell is due to the trementdous pressure on American -Soviet relations that were casued in great part by the JDL.
    You talk about gedolim? Let me tell you that nowadays there is no gadol that one must follow. In fact the gedolim that the ‘yeshiva world’ refer to were wrong in that they made errors in judgment regarding the soviet issue and during WWII when they told thousands not to leave Europe- that the storm will blow over.
    These are the facts. There were mistakes it is well known even if they don’t want to talk about it.
    ‘Who is wise- one who ses the future’ – our sages tell us. What is happening in Israel was seen clearly 30 ears ago by Rabbi Kahane and that makes him the wise man as opposed to all the ons who said ‘nothing to worry about.’
    Rabbi Kahane got Semicha at the Mir in Brooklyn and he has every right and in fact obligation to do what he knows to be correct.
    There is no sanhedrin nowadays and if you know others are mistaken you are obligated to speak out. You want proof I can refer you to teshuvoth and also to Mesechta Horioth.
    I’m sure you haven’t learnt it but are just parrotong what the standard yeshiva rebbe told you. I was in Yeshiv- I know exactly.
    You talk about his not making his training camp into a Kiruv camp? There are hundreds of people religious because of him – I know a few. Different people are reached in different ways. How stupid are the statements you make.
    Finally, for one man he influenced and did more than whole organizations. Whichever Rebbi has told you this nonesense – what did he do with his talent?! Nothing even close- I love those who talk about others and say ‘he should have done this or that’ when they themselves are a sum of zero.

  13. BTW did you know that many gedolim were against aish hatorah in the beginning?
    Thats right Noach Weinberg was a considered maverik adnwas told its better for him not to start. later on aish was refused an audience by a number of yeshivoth.
    The kiruv organization blossomed DESPITE the ‘gedolim’ only years later did they join the bandwagon.
    I apologize Heshy, but the truth is all that matters.

  14. Sheesh, I wanted to comment before this thread reaches the usual finale of ‘Kahane was brilliant, that is a fact’ schpiel 😉
    When you come to solve a problem, debating the rights or wrongs of circumstances or trying to untangle the origins ad nausea will not help. Is the conflict religious, ethnic, geo-political or national? It is all of those, or rather it has all those elements – as in Ezra’s point of ‘The conflict is over whatever discourse people frame the issue in’ – because the issue is too complex to identify as a single fault line, people will identify with that which is close to their world of reference.
    In other words, trying to frame the solution in terms of justice is futile. Justice has not been done in the past, isn’t practiced at present, and is unlikely to magically appear in the near future. Jews have suffered at the hands of Arabs and vice versa. In a tit for tat discussion of whose grievances hold more tear-value and whose fist is more to blame the only benefactor is that sense of righteous holier-than-thee marked by pursed lips and deft ears. Sidestepping religion – or any other factor – from this evil dance of mutual destruction will solve little – we will keep going around in circles, and our dizzying headaches shall continue to grow.
    What might work? Lots of humility, patience and the recognition of our common needs. All people, regardless of religion race or creed want bread on their tables and a future for their kids. This is not to say that overfed people can not suffer from the miserable mix of pompousness, ignorance and xenophobia – the kind that rekindles the flames of intolerance and abuse – as is apparent by the nation who professes to spread “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” all around the world. But that is exactly the point why the Israeli side, rather than the Palestinian, should seek to express a degree of compassion and goodwill not available to the underdog. Call it religion, or Semitic pride, or desperation: Until the children of Chan Yunis and Balata (names of refugee camps) have some semblance of hope restored, desperate parents will not settle for imaginary crumbs of autonomy.

  15. Michael, What you are saying is nice and beautiful if the arabs would agree with you. Unfortunately they don’t.

  16. Joe, wonderful how you can speak for an entire class of millions of individual people. It must be exhilirating to have such ESP.

  17. Dameocrat,
    the saddest part of this issue are the Palestinian/Arab Xians who are shat on by their muslim ‘brothers’, yet feel the need to be united with them nonetheless. Why they still take it, even after virtually abandonning the PA areas is beyond me. We all know that the world can’t stand Xians, just that they don’t whine like we do. Ever hear of Xians persecution? Round the world – who cares?
    Which leads me into the thought that this Palestinian vs Jew conflict, IMO, has very little to do with anyone caring about these Arabs, and more to do with correcting the mistake of giving the Jews sovreignty at all.
    Ultimately, my opinion is the same as DK. Once you (like the Palestinians/Arabs like to do) take the Judaism out of the conflict and only keep the ‘Israeli’ aspect, you basically delegitimize ‘Jews’ being in the middle east.

  18. dk: “First of all, delegitamizing the relgious aspect of the conflict in effect delegitamizes Jewish claims to the land….”
    Strongly disagree. The fact remains that in this world national rights precede human rights, and stateless Jewry was existentially vulnerable before the reconstitution of Jewish national self-determination in Israel. Further, the national rights of Jews are certainly not dependent upon any religious faith or practice. Whatever extent the national components of Jewish identity — a common language, laws, culture, and shared history marked by a unique and common calendar — are rooted in religious tradition is by now beside the point. Religious traditions are subjective, and matter only to us. But historical viability is objective and universal. Every undelusional human critter can understand and appreciate that.
    Bycenator: “There are many thousands of square miles where the Arab or Mulsim is welcome home.”
    Irrelevant. They can say the same thing about how Jews are welcome in the USA, the most powerful nation in the history of civilization founded on an idea of diversity and collectivity rather than any particular ethnic heritage. Further, Israel cannot realistically persuade, coerce or otherwise force Palestinian Arabs out of the territories. Either way it doesn’t matter. If Arab peoples have national rights, then so do Jews and everybody else. The Arab establishment and its amen corner can slather up their intolerance and racism with however many coats of righteous indignation over the legacy of colonial imperialism that they can, but it won’t change their essential argument that one Jewish state is too many while 22 Arab states are not enough. Most people see through that, and that is a significant reason why Israel remains a viable western-style state.

  19. Well, maybe one Jewish state armed with nukes is one too many for the Arab neighbors.
    Here’s a nice quote from Churchill on the subject of Israel: “I do not agree that the dog in a manger has the final right to the manger even though he may have lain there for a very long time. I do not admit that right. I do not admit for instance, that a great wrong has been done to the Red Indians of America or the black people of Australia. I do not admit that a wrong has been done to these people by the fact that a stronger race, a higher-grade race, a more worldly wise race to put it that way, has come in and taken their place.” Churchill to Palestine Royal Commission (1937)

  20. a.s. did you ever speak to them?
    How about take a sampling- then talk to me.
    brandon who was churchill refering to?
    In either case I understand him. The average person doesn’t care who is ‘right’ they just understand that the stronger wins. Unfortunate but true.

  21. He was speaking on the racial superiority of the Jews, thereby creating a logic for the creation of Israel. Iroinc, wouldn’t you say?
    I think people do care about who is right, that people move away from a more honest core when they ignore this. There is more pain, I think, in creating and inhabiting an identity that is more rationalization than substance, than there is in facing ourselves in honest reflection and moving on from there.

  22. Zionista, as much as I admire the intelligence of your argument, I disagree with your premise, which, in effect, disassociates Judaism from Jews. You say, “the national rights of Jews are certainly not dependent upon any religious faith or practice” and “Whatever extent the national components of Jewish identity… are rooted in religious tradition is by now beside the point.” Then why Palestine and not Argentina or Uganda? Why hang on to Jerusalem? The national rights of Jews are first and foremost dependent on religion because that’s the source.
    The traditions, history, language, culture, and calendar all derive from the religion; Judaism, that vast “subjective” library of a religion, is our source and our primary connection to the very land so fertalized with the spilled blood of the centuries.
    And, no, I disagree completely that it matters only to us Jews. It matters, positively or negatively, to a vast majority of Christians, Catholics, and Muslims as well that it is Jews, the people of the Book, who are on that land. Religious or not.
    Surely, Judaism is practiced or not practiced in too-many-ways-to count by Jews in and out of Israel. As a people, we’ve always been one to hold up a large umbrella. There’s you and there’s Heshy. There’s a baal teshuvah Chabadnik and there’s a shomer Shabos reform… This goes way back to the twelve tribes. Each followed the one Torah, yet each had their own traditions, each their own “ways” per se (although today the diversity is much more disparate). But as much as you say religion is subjective, it is just as easy to say the same of history.
    I believe you are mistaken to believe in the viability of history. Chomsky has a view of history, and so does R. Kook (!). Arafat and Said have their versions of history, and so does Aish HaTorah. History is just not necessarily objective and universal.
    Finally, saying stateless Jewry was existentially vulnerable ignores about two thousand years of objective history. Attacked, slaughtered, assimilated, converted, dispersed: survivors. As much as anyone can claim to love Israel, I don’t believe anyone could claim that the survival of Judaism and Jews depends on the survival of the state.

  23. Dameocrat,
    That is a fair point – I would say that just as there were and are some Jews who see it strictly in racial and nationalist terms, or partially – so there are Arabs as well.
    But the root of the conflict is still a religious one, as can be seen by the leaders of Muslim resistance to the idea of a Jewish state in any form, and who is leading Arab resistence, and the religious language used in their call for resistance.

  24. Brandon: “…Churchill to Palestine Royal Commission (1937)”
    Only two years before a certain White Paper. Go figure….
    dk: “Then why Palestine and not Argentina or Uganda? Why hang on to Jerusalem? The national rights of Jews are first and foremost dependent on religion because that’s the source.”
    Because the objective historical fact is that Israel, and not Argentina or Uganda, is the only place Jews have ever expressed their national self-determination. To us subjectively, according to our shared history including, of course, the Tanach; but objectively, according to the archaeological record and third party accounts of history as well.
    And if we believe that the human rights of Jews as a people were so secure, then we really need to have a look at that forementioned British White Paper of 1939.

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