I haven’t written anything about the fighting between Hamas and Fatah, but Cox and Forkum do a masterful job in showing the difference between these two groups. In case you miss it, they follow up with a clear explanation.

Six of One

“Palestinian moderates”? It was Fatah’s Abbas who refused to disarm Palestinian militant groups, including Hamas and the “armed wing” of his own party, even after continued terrorist attacks. It was Fatah terrorists who claimed joint responsibility with Hamas for the suicide-bombing mother who murdered four people. Abbas has called Israel the “Zionist enemy”. It is Fatah whose name means “conquest” and whose logo still includes an AK-47 and a grenade.

There’s so little difference between Hamas and Fatah that you can barely tell them apart: Fatah photo and Hamas photo. The only real difference is that Hamas is more open about its intent to destroy Isreal.

This is an article in the series A Look Into Islam.

There is a facet of Islam that isn’t discussed or understood in the West nearly as much as it should be — the religious practice of deception, or taqiyya. Since they were often a tiny minority in the larger Sunni population, Shi’a Muslims would use taqiyya to deceive others around them, concealing the nature of their true beliefs in order to survive. While it could be argued that the practice of taqiyya began with Shi’a Muslims, it is now widely accepted throughout all of Islam. And since Sharia law recognizes no difference between church and state in Islam, the practice of taqiyya has come to be used in all aspects of Muslim life, both religious and political. When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims that his country is doing nuclear research for purely peaceful applications, he is practicing taqiyya upon the world. When confronted with evidence of plutonium, he will likely continue practicing taqiyya. “What plutonium? Oh, you mean this plutonium. Gosh, how did that get there?”

In an earlier article, I referred to a news report of Sunnis being dragged into the streets and set afire by Shi’as. There is now some real doubt that this story really happened. The news services are all quoting Capt. Jamil Hussein in Iraq, but is this single source credible? It is quite possible that this story is yet another example of taqiyya being used to spread anti-Shi’a hatred — not that Iraq needs any more of that right now. And do you remember the infamous faked-up Reuters photo? Is it just an example of shoddy journalism, or is it taqiyya in action? What about the much-ballyhooed story of the Lebanese ambulance supposedly hit by Israeli munitions? Was this an example of faking the news just for the thrill of it, or was it taqiyya again?

This brings me to a classic example of taqiyya: Palestinian news reports. The people at Second Draft have done a great job of showing two examples of intentional deception in the news. Next time you hear about some atrocity committed by Israeli forces on innocent Palestinian bystanders, you should consider the level of taqiyya used in that area to produce “news.” Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are two videos produced by Second Draft about Palestinian taqiyya. If these YouTube links stop working, you can access the movies directly from the Second Draft site.


Birth of an Icon

All this begs the question: how do you deal with a religious culture that sanctions lying and deception?

Since Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is pressing full steam ahead to get his *cough* peaceful *cough* nuclear power, and he has stated that Israel “is a rotten, dried tree that will be eliminated by one storm,” I have a question for Palestinians living around Israel and working to “remove the Jewish presence in Palestine”:

Once Iran nukes Israel off the map, and assuming you are not dead from being too close to the initial blasts, just how soon will you head into the radioactive wasteland to reclaim “Palestine?”

If I were a Palestinian, I’d be rather cheesed if Iran were posed to blow my contested homeland to bits. I’d even have a few choice words to say about it. So why the silence from Hamastan?

Since I’m sure not everyone is familiar with the history behind the events I’m about to cite, let me set the stage with a little background information.

It all began when the settlers moved in. They arrived from many different places, gathering together in the land that had become the center of their faith. The concept of Zion was of utmost importance to them. This land, they said, had been given to them by God, and no one had the right to take it from them. But whenever you have a small group surrounded by a larger, hostile populace that does not share their religious beliefs, you have a formula for trouble. It wasn’t long before there were armed conflicts between the settlers and their neighbors.

But religion alone wasn’t the only reason for friction between the settlers and the others. The fact is, the settlers were a devout, hard-working, industrious people who supported each other in their endeavors. They worked the land they had taken, made it productive, made it bloom. In the process, they also became very prosperous–often far more prosperous than their neighbors. And with the blossoming of the settlers’ land, there was likewise a poisonous flowering of the neighbors’ jealousy and resentment.

Over time, this jealousy caused the others to spread rumors about the settlers–about their habits, their beliefs, the things they did in their religious rituals. Much as with the blood libels of the Middle Ages, there were terrible falsehoods spread under the label of “the truth.” Honorable people who had no stake in the conflict were influenced by these rumors. In some cases they grew to distrust, even hate, the settlers–although in truth, the outsiders knew very little about them or their faith. Many came to believe that the settlers were the aggressors, in open defiance of the laws, and the instigators of a war upon their guiltless neighbors. In the end, officials decided that the settlers would have to abandon the land which they claimed God had given them. If not, they would be exterminated.

I’m sure you all know what happened next. The settlers had been driven out of their land, their Zion, their homes, so they fled to a new location. In a short three years, they had turned an unwanted swamp into one of the largest and most beautiful cities in the region. But again, fear of religious differences and envy of their prosperity stirred up the neighboring people to drive them out. After all, other people had been successful in driving these settlers out of their homes before; why not again? So the settlers gathered up their remaining belongings and left their land again in search of a new home. This time they chose to leave the nation that had failed to support and protect them, striking out for a territory that no one else wanted — a barren desert beside a vast, inland salt sea.

But enough about the experiences of the Mormons in America in the 1830s and 1840s. Let’s talk about Gaza.

It is remarkable to note the many parallels between the current Israeli settlers in Gaza, and the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in places like Missouri and Illinois in the 19th century. Both groups believe their land was given them by God. Both were hated by the people who surrounded them because of their faith. Both were removed from their lands by government fiat. Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs actually issued an executive order that “the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace.” This Extermination Order wasn’t rescinded until almost 140 years later. Now the Jewish settlers in Gaza are being pulled from their homes by their own government. There is no official order to exterminate the Jews, as was made against the Mormons in Missouri, but the surrounding Arab people have made it clear that they consider it their duty to drive out or kill the Jewish people.

Rabbi Marc Gellman posed a very interesting question in Newsweek: “Why can 1 million Arabs live in peace within Israel but 9,000 Jews can’t live in peace in Palestine?” This is a key question that must be answered to understand what is happening in Israel. Rabbi Gellman answered his own question when he made the observation that “Arabs cannot live with Jews but Jews can live with Arabs.” Why should this be so?

To give a little perspective, here is a map showing the state of Israel in blue and surrounded by Arab League states in green. Notice that the tiny sliver of blue is the thorn in the larger Arabic side. The Arabs won’t be happy as long as tiny Israel continues to exist. There are many Arabic states in the world, but there is only one Jewish state on Earth, and the Arabs say that it must be destroyed.

A speck of blue in a sea of green

Jealousy of Jewish prosperity is one reason why Arabs hate the Jews; another reason stems from the age-old issues of religious differences between the Jewish and Arabic people. Both these people have a common ancestor, Abraham, but there has been bad blood between these cousins since the beginning. In the years since the creation of Israel as a Jewish state, Jews and Arabs have clashed multiple times, and there is no indication that this conflict will cease in the future.

If the pullout of the Israelis from Gaza follows the Mormon example, withdrawal will not solve the problem. Once the Mormons were forced out of Missouri, it didn’t take long for hostile people to force them out of Illinois as well. The Mormons solved the problem by choosing to leave the United States entirely, heading for the barren and unwanted valley next to the Great Salt Lake, and founding what is now Utah. But if the Israelis are forced completely out of the one Jewish nation on earth, where could they go? Antarctica? Mars?

Here I will prove that I cannot foretell the future, but I’ll try anyway. Unfortunately, the pullout from Gaza and a few settlements in the West Bank will not stop the hatred and attacks. It will only add fuel to the Arabs’ burning desire to remove all the Jews from Israel. The pullout will be decried as not being enough, and Israel will be asked to do more. Next, the Palestinians will demand full control of the West Bank and the removal of all Jewish settlements in the area. There will be no end to the amount of space and land the Palestinians will demand from the Israelis. When the Israelis finally put their foot down and refuse to give up more land, the Palestinians will complain that they can’t possibly live in peace and happiness unless Israel funds the construction of new buildings and other development in Palestine. Whether they would use these funds to improve their land, or to purchase weaponry with which to further attack the Israelis, remains to be seen.

The Mormons had to wait almost 140 years before the Missouri Extermination Order was rescinded. When will the desire to exterminate the Jews be rescinded by the Arabs?