The Case for a State of Palestine
First, a personal statement: I am neither anti-Arab nor anti-Jewish. I have friends in both camps. My main concern is the need for international peace, and above all for the end of international terrorism. During the long Cold War, I was an active opponent of Soviet communism, and not least of the world-wide Soviet control of international terrorism.
One of the major changes since the collapse of the Soviet communism in 1991 has been the rise of Islamic terrorism. As the National Observer put it, in its Summer issue No. 55:
"During the past two years there has been a marked increase in hostility towards the West by Moslem countries and by a range of Moslem organisations, extending to terrorist groups. Most dramatically, this hostility led to the World Trade Centre attacks in September 2001 . . . There has been a tendency to obscure the fact that the major cause of Moslem animus against the United States has been U.S. support for Israel."
For centuries, the ancient history of Palestine was linked with that of the Jewish people, who welcomed and aided the Moslem conquest of the area in A.D. 636. One of the Caliphs, Abdul Malik (685-705) attempted to turn Jerusalem into a Holy City to rival Mecca and Medina. In the mid-19th century, pogroms in Russia and Rumania turned Jewish eyes towards Palestine. In 1909, the first all-Jewish city was founded: its name was Tel Aviv. And, between the two World Wars, a Jewish national home in Palestine grew spectacularly while the Nazi extermination of the Jews progressed, leading to a massive increase in Jewish illegal immigration into Palestine. This led in turn to a serious outbreak of Arab terrorism.
After the Second World War, Britain’s Labour government pledged assistance to the Zionist cause, leading in turn to severe outbreaks of pro-Jewish terrorism in Palestine. In 1947, a United Nations Commission recommended a partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab States. On 15 May 1948, Britain renounced its mandate, leading immediately to the Jewish Agency's proclamation of an independent State of Israel, closely followed by a simultaneous invasion from Egypt, Jordan and Iraq. The war lasted until 1949, when an uneasy peace was declared. Nineteen years later, Israel's forces routed Arab armies in less than a week in a conflict known as "the Six-Day War".
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This brief summary of the evolution of Palestine into the State of Israel is essential to an understanding of the spectacular rise of Islamic terrorism over the past few years. Instead of a relatively simple Moslem antagonism towards the Jewish State of Israel, the West faces a massive terrorist war directed mainly at the West, and specifically at the United States, emerging after the collapse of the Soviet Union as the world's only superpower.
The spectacular climax of the Islamic war was the destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York on the morning of 11 September 2001, by two teams of Islamic suicide terrorists. The Soviet threat had become past history: the main threat now came specifically from a terrorist network calling itself Al-Qaeda ("The Base"), led by a merciless, Saudi-born terrorist named Osama bid Laden operating originally from Afghanistan, who, since its spectacular success, has vanished from the public view.
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A comparison between the former Communist terrorist network and the newly emerged Islamic one may be helpful to the reader.
At its height, communism was the major threat to world peace, and by far the major source of international terrorism. Its hold on terrorist movements was not universal, however, for in a number of countries, nationalist rather than communist-inspired or communist-supported terrorism prevailed. In Ireland, for instance, this has occurred through the I.R.A. (Irish Republican Army), whose aim is to incorporate British-ruled Protestant Ulster into the independent Irish Republic. Another example was the E.T.A. (Euzkadi ta Azkatasuna or Freedom for the Basque Homeland — that is, freedom from Spain). It is relevant, however, to point out that both the I.R.A. and E.T.A. did obtain Soviet assistance.
It should be noted that such organisations did not necessarily vanish after the collapse of Soviet support. An interesting example of terrorist survival is the continuing activity of the F.A.R.C. (Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia) founded in 1966 under Soviet control. I know of no evidence that support from Moscow has continued since the Soviet collapse.
At the height of Moscow's imperialist expansion, the total number of Communist-controlled countries was 18. By the time of the Soviet collapse, the figure had been reduced to 11. For purposes of comparison with the present, at the height of Soviet power there were 128 Communist Parties world-wide, most but not all under Moscow's control. Those no longer Moscow-controlled include China, Vietnam, Mongolia, Cambodia, Laos and Cuba (which remained under strong Moscow influence until the Soviet collapse). Yugoslavia, of course, had long ceased to be an instrument of Soviet foreign policy.
In comparison with communism, the spread of Islam, in terms of Islamic States, is considerably wider. However, the list of those involved, or likely to be involved in terrorism, is substantially smaller. Apart from Afghanistan, from which the extremist Taliban regime was ousted as a result of U.S. (and U.K.) military intervention (2001-2002), other Islamic States include:
Algeria: Islam is the State religion, but under a military regime.
Iran: Since 1 April 1979, after the expulsion of the Shah, Iran has been under strictly orthodox Islamic rule, and therefore constitutes a potential international danger.
Iraq's military dictatorship under Saddam Hussein was a supporter of anti-Western terrorism, but Iraq is presently under joint U.S.-U.K.-Australian invasion when these lines were written.
Libya's long established dictator, Colonel Qadaffi, was personally involved in various terrorist operations against the West.
Pakistan is a major Islamic country, but helpful to the United States and its allies after the 11 September terrorist outrage.
Saudi Arabia is an absolutist Islamic regime whose capital, Mecca, is in effect the centre of the Moslem world. However, as an oil-rich country heavily dependent on Western economic links, it is unlikely to involve itself directly in international terrorism beyond, on occasion, providing hospitality for terrorists.
Syrian Arab Republic: a potential ally to Moslem terrorism.
The doctrinal justification of anti-Western (meaning, in extremist terms, anti-Infidel) terrorism is worth analysis. Islamic terrorists kill in the name of Allah (God) and his Prophet Mohammed. The unbelievers may therefore be killed in the name of Allah. These include Jews as well as Christians. The deliberate suicide of terrorists is justified on the argument that they are furthering the aims of Islam, for which they will be rewarded by ascent to Paradise. Unless, or until, the religious leaders of Islamic countries personally and publicly condemn suicide bombings, the myth of paradisal reward will continue to flourish.
On earth, however, an important material gain, in the eyes of Moslem extremists, would be the creation of an independent State of Palestine, in defiance of Israel and its Western supporters, especially the "infidel" Americans.
Although there has been little public discussion of the Palestine issue in recent times, President Bush has prepared a "road map" of an international plan of action to inaugurate a Palestine State by 2005. From last December, however, the plan was known to have been locked in a drawer at Israel's request, and it has only recently been provided to Israel and the Palestinians. According to a special Supplement of the London Daily Telegraph of 18 March 2002, Washington agreed to keep the plan under wraps until after the current war in Iraq was over. The "road map", if and when approved and put into effect, will call a halt to the building of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories and will require the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Palestinian towns. Nearby on Israel's northern border, the Lebanese Hizbollah guerillas, well equipped and armed with rockets, have been lying low. Their leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, obviously under U.S. pressure, has been offering "excuses" for deferring attacks on "the Zionist enemy".
It is relevant, I believe, to quote a brief passage, which I discovered while browsing the Koran: "When ye encounter the infidels, strike off their heads till you have made a great slaughter among them, and of the rest make fast the fetters." (From the Koran, Sura XLVII, preceded as with every Sura, by the ritual words: "In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful").
My personal view is that Islamic terrorism against the West will continue until the State of Palestine is relaunched.
National Observer No. 57 - Winter 2003