By Barry Rubin
A leading journalist heard my analysis on the rise of the radical Islamists, how U.S. policy is helping them, and why this is a disaster. His response? How could I say that Hamas was radical and wanted to wipe out Israel since it had not continually attacked Israel from the Gaza Strip?
Although this remark was about a very specific issue, I understood the general concept underlying it. To be a radical or extremist, many Westerners seem to believe, means you are a drooling loony, a caricature of a bomb-throwing revolutionary, like a rabid dog unable to stop himself from biting anyone within reach.
If you wear a tie and jacket, or just a jacket, or speak patiently and protest your moderation, or have patience you cannot be a radical.
Oh, yes, you are also not a radical if you claim not to be one, even if that’s only done in English while you are calling for Islamist revolution, Sharia law, genocide against the Jews, and anti-Western hate in Arabic. Yet radicals have used strategy for many decades. Lenin wrote a short book, Left-Wing Communism, an Infantile Malady, to ridicule the mindless extremists in his movement. The Muslim Brotherhood took a similar view of al-Qaida as being a one-note terrorist group. The whole Turkish model of revolutionary Islamism is based on a patient strategy of hiding their true objectives and maneuvering into total control.
Why cannot Western elites see this kind of lightly camoflauged extremism, used by thoroughly by the Communists and also, though this has been largely forgotten, by Nazi and fascist movements.
Here are two examples among hundreds. First, an official Palestinian Authority (PA)—the moderates, remember—cleric gives a Friday sermon broadcast on PA television, November 11, 2011 (thanks to MEMRI):.
“This racist entity [Israel] will also come to an end, because it too contradicts the natural disposition of the prophets, the righteous, the martyrs, and humanity as a whole….Oh Allah, destroy our enemies. They are no match for you. Oh Allah, count them one by one, and disperse them all. Don’t leave a single one. Oh Allah, drive them out of Palestine in humiliation and disgrace. Oh Allah, drive them out of Jerusalem and its environs, just as you drove them out of Mecca and Medina. Oh Allah, drive them out of the Levant, just as you drove them out of the Arabian Peninsula.”
Remember that the Jewish tribes were not exactly driven out of the Arabian Peninsula. The men were murdered; the women and children enslaved.
For some reason I don’t quite understand, the Western media does not report on literally hundreds of this type of sermon, broadcast, or article. Somehow they are considered not important even though they drive people into a killing frenzy and make a compromise peace impossible.
I do recall, however, a spate of articles a few months ago giving credit for the PA for getting rid of radical preachers. Not at all. It merely eliminated Hamas supporters. Can we ever hope for honest coverage that would thus show people that the PA is not moderate, keeps its people hysterical with hatred, incites them to kill, glorifies terrorists, and thus makes peace impossible?
Then there are the moderate Islamists. There is a large collection of statements by Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders, Libyan warlords, and Tunisian Islamist politicians that show they are definitely not moderate. Here’s one.
Tunisia’s prime minister-designate Hamadi Jebeli speaking at a rally:
“My brothers, you are at a historic moment in a new cycle of civilization, God willing. We are in [the] sixth caliphate, God willing.”
So durable is the mandatory myth of moderation that the article in the Daily Telegraph (a conservative newspaper) reporting this tells us that Jebeli is a moderate. However, it points out that a leftist party, Ettakatol, was so upset at this statement that it suspended coalition talks with Jebeli’s party. The two liberal parties have already denounced those who are called moderate Islamists in Washington as being radical Islamists.
“We thought we were going to build a second republic with our partner–not a sixth caliphate,” Khemais Ksila, a senior member of the leftist party, said.
The article explains that the caliphate idea is controversial because of its association with al-Qaida. Well, actually there are a few other problems. When people like Jebeli speak of a caliph they are talking about a divinely-guided individual who must be obeyed, will unite all Muslims into a single state, will certainly impose Sharia law on all Muslim-majority countries, and can legally declare Jihad.
There isn’t going to be a caliphate for a very long time if ever because Muslims will never agree on who should be caliph, where his capital city should be, whether he should be a Sunni or Shia, and lots of other stuff. Thus, Jebeli’s statement isn’t important because he talks about a caliphate as such but because it tells us his true politics and goals.
So this is just a small sample: the “moderate” Palestinians preaching genocide; the “moderate” Islamists preaching a universal Islamic dictatorship. Why oh why cannot Western leaders speak about such things, Western “experts” talk of them, and Western media publish or broadcast this very real news?
There is no “racial” stereotyping or Islamophobia or any such things here. The guilty are those who hold these political and theological stances, not those who reject them. The heroes are Muslims and other Middle Easterners who fight against genocidal extremism and radical Islamism. Most of the victims of these movements are also Arabs, Muslims, or both.
Even in their own ideology there is no excuse for these Western officials, politicians, journalists, and academics to conceal the nature of the threat. It is almost the end of 2011, years too late to plead ignorance.
Reflecting on this point, a Turkish friend in the anti-Islamist regime opposition said to me: “We can no longer regard these people as fools. We can only consider them to be enemies.”
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His book, Israel: An Introduction will be published by Yale University Press in January. Latest books include The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center is at http://www.gloria-center.org and of his blog, Rubin Reports, http://www.rubinreports.blogspot.com