20 July 2009

Jerusalem and the Muslim Brotherhood: Who will Claim the Future of the City?

According the Jerusalem Post reporter Herb Keinon on Jul 19, 2009 in an article entiled "Limits on Settlement Freeze Being Set" Avi Diskin, head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), told the Israeli cabinet that "Israel had identified widespread activity by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to block land purchases in east Jerusalem by Jews." Furthermore, he reported that Egyptian cleric Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi of the Muslim Brotherhood "had allocated some $25 million for the purchase of property and to build Hamas charitable institutions that would expand the group's reach in Jerusalem." Adding to concerns, Keinon reported that although "there has been a drop in terrorist activity both in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank," foreigners affiliated with the global Islamic jihad movement were trickling into Gaza, and that
"Hamas continued to develop its armament capabilities inside Gaza, even though the organization was not currently carrying out attacks."

Fear mongering and terrorism have both succeeded in perpetuating the state of war between Palestinians and Israelis. The condition of the Muslim monuments in Jerusalem is undeniably deplorable. The Palestinians have chosen to neglect their patrimony to prove that Israel is effacing the legacy of Islam in the city. Before Hamas and Islamic Jihad can cash in on this neglect by taking over these institutions, Israel and her international allies ought to urge UNESCO to move on Jordan's nomination on the Old City of Jerusalem as a World Heritage site. This year, Arabs are celebrating Jerusalem, but they have been either unwilling or unable to clean up the architectural treasures that are sprinkled throughout the city and concentrated in the Muslim Quarter. The municipality should work with organizations seeking to preserve these monuments as a show of good faith before the radicals turn the city into a battleground.

08 January 2009

Salim Munayer of Musalaha Ministry on the Gaza War

To both Israelis and Palestinians, the current conflict in Gaza has brought nothing but pain and suffering. It has also caused friction among some believers as they choose to pledge sole allegiance to their own people group. Some are even expressing an unabashed hatred for the other side through articles, e-mails and graphic content on Facebook.

From the Israeli point of view they pulled out of the Gaza Strip in the name of peace and an Islamic regime took over. Israel’s justification for going to war was to protect its citizens against Hamas launching rockets on the communities in the Negev. Soldiers continue to mobilize along the Gaza border as they prepare to defend their people and country against terror. They claim that others would have acted more quickly and aggressively. Their reasoning is that it is necessary to attack now before Hamas has longer-range missiles.

The Palestinians claim that though Israel left the Gaza Strip in 2006, the army is still controlling the borders making it the biggest open-air prison in the world. In the last 18-months, 1.5 million Palestinians have been under siege and were prevented from receiving sufficient water, medical aid and food supply. For the Palestinians, Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza was just an excuse to expand their control in the West Bank and build further settlements. The Palestinians also believe they have a right to self-defense. For them, the Israeli reaction is disproportionate. The number of Israelis killed cannot be compared to the hundreds of Palestinians killed.

Each player in the conflict places the full responsibility of the cycle of violence on the other side. There is a general unwillingness to enter into peace talks on ideological or political grounds. For example, Israel will say Hamas is an ideological religious organization that doesn’t recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Palestinians, on the other hand, say the Palestinian Authority has entered into concessions and nothing substantial has evolved; all that increased were settlements and checkpoints.

So, what is our role as believers in this situation? How can we be a model of Messiah as we move forward in the reconciliation process? Are we too busy challenging the moral and ethical position of the other side that we are unwilling to take responsibility? Because our societies have chosen war and violence, there is a great need for reconciliation. We can accomplish this through taking on a priestly role of intercessor and prophetic role of speaking the truth.

While the conflict has divided some believers, there are those taking a stand and fulfilling their priestly role. I was greatly encouraged last week to hear a Messianic pastor lead his congregation in a prayer of repentance, especially emphasizing that in a time of war, repentance is necessary from both the Israelis and the Palestinians. We must begin by examining our own sins, failures and shortcomings and seek God’s forgiveness and direction.

Applying Joel 2, he read, “Return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity” (Joel 2:12-13). God desires us to grieve from within and turn our hearts back towards him. As we as believers intercede on behalf of the people in our societies we need to invoke the nature of God and beg for his mercy and compassion to fall upon us because we have sinned before him. We must also cry out for God’s mercy and compassion to fall upon the other side.

In time of war we are also called to take on a prophetic role. The prophet was a representative of God who brought a message primarily to effect social change. The prophet spoke the truth and reminded us to care for the widow, orphan and stranger. When speaking the prophetic word, we need to be blunt without any hidden messages, and we need to have the courage to speak out when our people are wrong. In the prophetic role we are reminded that we must not only speak out against the injustice which has been committed against our own people, but also against others. We have a duty to speak out against the misuse of power and the blood of the innocent shed whether it is Israeli or Palestinian.

The world views war as war. Some will say, “in war the innocent also die and we cannot help it.” My son was greatly distressed when his friend told him exactly this. I shared with him that in war we need to speak up for the innocent. We cannot justify the act of killing innocent people and say it was in self-defense. Yet, we cannot justify killing someone with a weapon just because they’re holding a weapon. Even killing in war for self-defense should be taken with caution and reverence. The enemy carrying the weapon is also a person who has also been created in the image of God. Especially in a time of war we need to speak louder and clearer against the misuse of power by our governments and their justification of power and violence. War doesn’t mean giving a free hand without any moral and ethical boundaries and limitations.

So, while we are in the midst of war, we need to honestly seek the will of God and be discerning. We must become intercessors for our nation, our leaders and the other side and ask God to pour out his mercy and compassion. We must also become the prophet and convey that message of injustice happening in our societies. We need to attempt to relieve the pain of the innocent even if we feel our side’s reasoning for war is justified. Instead of pointing the finger, let us look within ourselves and repent. Then let us look at the other side with compassion and love, with a love that transcends societal boundaries, rocket fire and airstrikes.

Salim J. Munayer, Ph.D.
Director of Musalaha
Tel: 02-6720376
Fax: 02-6719616

05 January 2009

Follow this link to view the video on Saddam Hussein in which I appear.


For my most recent published article on What Muslims Really think about Israel.

Follow this link to my most recent published article "What Muslims Really Think About Israel"


The Failed Attempt to Prevent the Hannukah War

The Orange Grove: A Mideast opportunity we must seize

Saudi deal on Palestinian government a chance to undercut Iran, al-Qaida

The Brea resident is an associate professor of history and Middle Eastern studies at Biola University in La Mirada.

The Mecca accord, a Saudi-brokered deal last month to bring Hamas into a Palestinian unity government with Fatah, is the result of Saudi Arabia's realization that the growing Iranian hegemony in Iraq, and the deepening presence of al-Qaida throughout the region, have made it imperative for them to bring Iranian-sponsored Hamas back into their orbit.

This will not be easy. Both al-Qaida and Iran have had no trouble infiltrating Gaza, and currently intelligence services of a number of Arab countries are urging the United States and its Arab allies to take these threats seriously.

The Bush administration's subsequent decision to join a round of talks among Iran, Iraq and Syria must be seen in this light. Supporting the initiative of a chastened Saudi Arabia may help to get the region back to a rational political course.

Ziad Abu Amr, an American-trained political scientist and a secular Muslim, has been named the new foreign minister of Palestine. This is that rare piece of good news that even the most dedicated students of the Arab-Israel conflict might miss. Abu Amr served in the Palestinian National Council before Hamas was elected to power. His Ph.D. is from Georgetown University, where he wrote his dissertation on the Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas-Islamic Jihad, published in 1994 as "Islamic Fundamentalism in the West Bank and Gaza: Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic Jihad."

Since the mid-'80s, when Israel permitted Saudi Arabia to reshape the Muslim Brotherhood into an Islamic movement in Palestine as an alternative to the secular PLO, Amr has tried to convince his people to eschew terrorism, to recognize Israel, and to establish a democratic Palestinian state. He challenged the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's deceitful policies. The disappointments of the Oslo peace process have been hardest on his generation of Palestinians, who had hoped that through reason and good will, peace between Israel and Palestine could be achieved. Instead, the continuing conflict and Arafat's corruption fueled Islamist ideology.

The officials of the new Palestinian unity government are taking their lives into their hands to try to change the course, to return to diplomacy. On Feb. 18, Zakariya Durmush, head of the Army of Islam, al-Qaida's Palestinian cell in Gaza, denounced the Mecca accord as heresy, singling out Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas official Ismail Haniya as violators of shariah, Islamic law.

Durmush told his supporters, "What is now to prevent Hamas from embracing the sinful laws of the Palestinian Authority and those of other satanic forces, the Americans and the Europeans?"

Throughout the Middle East and North Africa, our Arab allies are growing more and more frustrated that the U.S. is not taking seriously the threat of proliferating al-Qaida cells. The fact is that Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Morocco and other Arab allies have recognized that they must step up to the plate to defend themselves.

The United States can't solve these problems for these governments. Instead, we should work with them – taking every step possible to avert a repeat of the disastrous Al-Aqsa Intifada, when Arafat attacked Israel using the very security forces that had been put into place to preserve the peace – to prevent war with Iran and Syria. And Israel must allow the Palestinian Authority to accrue political and economic credits by working with her neighbors to establish stability in the region.

The United States has to act wisely in the face of these challenges, supporting regional initiatives without compromising them. It may seem unreasonable to trust the Palestinians after their many political missteps and the horrible reality of Palestinian terror.

Israelis and Arabs need their leaders to have the courage of a Nixon, who established diplomatic relations with China, of a Reagan, who brought down the Berlin Wall, and of a Sadat, who flew to Jerusalem to save Egyptian lives. Their diplomatic advances seemed unimaginable just before they happened. However, with courage and conviction, it is possible that we, too, can derail the train that Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has set loose.

We must try.

Available at the original source at:


The Hannukah War

Shalom from the war zone! Our friend, Avner Boskey, an Israeli Messianic Jew here in Israel has written an accurate account of what is going on in Israel in the Gaza Strip and what led up to the attack. He has given us permission to forward his letter. Lura & Eddie Beckford, Arad, Israel - Dec. 2008

We know Avner and his account is very helpful. More than that: this war may in the end prevent Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood from continuing their war against the West, with Israel as the prime target. The war may also help the Israelis and the Arabs to make a fresh stab at a peace treaty, based on the Fahd Plan.

War With Hamas – The First 40 Hours

This is a brief analysis of the war, followed by a report of details of today's fighting, and then specific prayer requests.

The war with Hamas began at 11:30 am Israel time on Shabbat (Saturday) December 27 – the sixth day of Hanukkah (the Feast of Dedication). The Operation was given the military name 'Cast Lead' or Opheret yetzuka in Hebrew, referring to the leaden dreidels (sevivon or spinning tops) played with on Hanukkah. These festive tops were once made of molten lead poured into a metal mold, and a popular Hanukkah children's song refers to a dreidl made of "cast lead". As God would have it, this war will be identified in the annals of Israeli history as the Hanukkah war.

Israelis have a lot of experience with war, and many significant wars are connected with certain Jewish holidays. The Yom Kippur War of October 1973 began on the Day of Atonement. The First Gulf War ended in 1991 on the first day of Purim, the Feast of Esther. The Second Intifada broke out on The Feast of Trumpets in 2000. On the Ninth of Av (Tisha b'Av) in 586 BC and 70 AD, both Jewish Temples were destroyed in Jerusalem. God is still speaking to Israel and the nations by using His prophetic calendar and His feast days (see Leviticus 23:2, 4), and this includes minor feasts like Hanukkah (see Daniel 11:29-35 and Hebrews 11:34-38).

Background to this war

After Israel withdrew or retreated from the Gaza Strip in August 2005, that region was taken over by the Islamist group Hamas ('The Islamic Resistance Movement'; for deeper background see newsletters February 2006, June 2007 at www.davidstent.org). This group is linked with the Muslim Brotherhood, a world jihadi group ideologically connected to Osama Bin Laden.

Hamas refuses to recognize the state of Israel. Hamas calls and plans for Israel's military destruction. Over the past three years it has fired more than 10,000 Qassam or Grad rockets and mortars against civilians only – towns, farms and cities within Israel. And over the past week it fired between 36 and 80 rockets per day into kibbutzim, small villages and large towns. Last Saturday I went to visit some believers on a kibbutz bordering on Gaza, and during my 30 minute visit five rockets fell close by.

The government of Israel has strangely tolerated a buildup of these rocket attacks over the past three years. Though originally then-Prime-Minister Ariel Sharon soothingly promised Israelis that the disengagement from Gaza would bring peace, and if even "one rocket were fired" Israel would reconquer the Gaza Strip, the 10,000 rockets fired starkly contradict the soundness and wisdom of his policies. Part of the recent tolerance is due to the fact that the Kadima party Sharon founded is still in office, and these officials owe their political positions to these failed policies.

Over the past few weeks Israel has repeatedly warned Hamas and surrounding countries that if the rocket attacks continue, it will decisively and powerfully respond. These Israeli warnings have gone unnoticed by the world's media, as have the rocket attacks. No country that is worthy of the name would allow terrorists to rocket their civilian populations for so long without an overwhelming response. For both Israel and Hamas, that day of response has come.

The surprise attack

As Palestinian rocket attacks have increased, Israel has spent the past year culling intelligence in preparation for a decisive counter-attack. Hamas command and control (CC) centers, arms depots, senior residences, training camps, rocket launcher sites and Qassam factories – all were located and charted.

On Saturday at 11:30 am 64 Israeli fighter jets and attack helicopters attacked and destroyed 50 strategic Hamas sites in 3 minutes and 45 seconds. A half hour later, another sortie of 20 plans hit 50 more sites, including underground launchers and bunkers. 95% of the hits were 'alpha', meaning exact strikes with no collateral damage.

Strategic targets

Over 240 strategic sites have been hit in the past 40 hours. One site hit was the Hamas police compound, where 80 gunmen were gathered. At other ammo dumps and command centers at least another 50 terrorists were killed. At other smaller CCs a total of 92 terrorists were killed.

On Sunday Israeli jets struck and destroyed 40 underground tunnels used by Hamas to smuggle in significant amounts of weapons, explosives and anti-tank/anti-aircraft missiles in a 3 minute 20 second sortie. This area is called the Philadelphi Corridor, and was surrendered to Hamas by Israel due to significant U.S. State Department pressure in 2005. Over 700 tunnels have been dug, and most are still operative.

Up to this point Hamas rocket squads have managed to fire more than 70 rockets at Israel, and Israel's Military Intelligence believes that Hamas has the ability and reserves to fire up to 200 rockets daily for quite some time.

On Sunday one Hamas rocket traveled 37 kilometers, hitting Gan Yavne a bedroom community east of Ashdod. This means that other towns including Gedera and Beersheva (where we live) are in possible range of Hamas rockets. The Home Front Command has ordered public bomb shelters to be opened in these twons beginning Monday morning. Pray for the Israeli civilians in rocket range of Hamas mortars and rockets (Qassams and Grad rockets, capable of reaching Ashkelon, Ashdod, Kiryat Gat and Beersheva).

The question of casulaties

The casualty rate in Gaza has now reached 300 (most of these terrorists), with over 1,000 wounded.

The IDF takes great pains to avoid civilian casualties, while Hamas deliberately locates its centers and fires its rockets from within civilian centers. Hamas rockets only target civilians, while the IDF tries very hard to only target terrorists. Due to the immediate proximity of civilians to rocket launchers and Hamas headquarters, there have certainly been some civilian casualties.

Israeli army intelligence has warned and even done mass telephoning of Gazan civilians, urging them to stay away from potential target areas. Though civilian casualties are deeply regretted, they are known in military parlance as collateral damage. General William Tecumseh Sherman once remarked (based on his American military experiences) that "war is hell". We agree, even though it is sometimes necessary.

The Palestinian terror groups unfortunately see these casualties in a positive light – as helpful grist in their propaganda mills. They immediately tell the world media that Israel is targeting civilians and causing massacres.

One prime example of this tactic was during Operation Defensive Shield (March 2002), triggered by Hamas terrorists who killed 30 Jews (including Holocaust survivors) and injured 140 at a public Passover meal in Netanya Israel. IDF troops retook control of major West Bank cities which had become suicide bomber havens. The army took great pains to avoid civilian casualties, suffering many fatalities in this process. Nevertheless, the Palestinian media accused Israel of a bloodthirsty massacre of over 500 civilians in Jenin. That number was eventually dropped to approximately 56 terrorists, most in uniform, and 7 or 8 civilians (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Defensive_Shield).

One 58 year old Jewish man was killed this Saturday in his apartment by a Hamas rocket, and 10 Israelis have been wounded. We thank God for the protection He has granted so far to Israelis, and we strongly encourage you to pray for continued safety!

Prayer requests

Ø Pray for the leadership of Israel – that the God of Israel will give them clarity, strategy, courage and discernment (2 Kings 6:8-12)

Ø Pray for Gaza's leadership – that God would frustrate their plans, operations and strategies (Psalm 83:4, 9-15)

Ø Pray for the civilian population of Gaza, many who support the terror – that God in His mercy would reveal Himself to many as their Savior and Prince of peace (Jonah 3:8-9)

Ø Pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the salvation of the Jewish people (Psalm 122:6; Romans 10:1)

Ø Pray for the struggling tiny community of believers in Gaza, some who have been tortured or martyred by Islamists in recent days

Ø Pray for the Jewish believers in the Negev area bordering on Gaza, some who contend with daily rocket attacks

In Messiah Yeshua,

Avner Boskey

Donations can be sent to:


BOX 121971 NASHVILLE TN 37212-1971 USA

If you would like follow-up copies of what is happening, let me know, please. Lura lura_eddie@hotmail.com

Website: http://www.kingsmenarad.com

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil.
This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones." Proverbs

01 January 2009

Preferatory Unscientific Reflections on the War in Gaza

Pundits in the media talk endlessly about the Middle East conflict and the quest for peace in the Middle East. Feeding off violence in Israel, or Iraq, or Afghanistan, or sensational terrorist attacks anywhere in the world, media frenzy creates its own fog, obscuring the real issues and trapping the political actors themselves into posturing for the press in search of public support for their policies. Yet the publics they pander to are themselves in a daze, unable to discern the true issues at stake, always surprised at the outbreak of war.

Few members of the public are equipped to analyze what they are hearing and seeing via the internet, radio and tv, and often the public response is emotional—rushing to support of the victims, innocent or not; shutting off the news completely because they perceive no connection of it to their own lives; or buying into the concept of the “cycle of violence” wishing only “a pox on both their houses” for the combatants’ inability (read refusal) to come to terms on what to outsiders seem to be inconsequential matters. However, with nuclear proliferation in the region now a reality, the looming threat of apocalyptic worldwide warfare has begun to sink into public awareness. Lines are being drawn. The axis of evil, in the public mind, still exists, and includes states not on the official list.

With the tsunami of unfiltered, graphic news, public opinion is becoming an ever-more important factor influencing foreign policy. No longer do we have secret treaties drawn up in back rooms. Nor do we have carefully crafted, albeit tendentious propaganda to sort through. Instead, we have "public diplomacy." New institutes are producing more and more “experts” who are studying how best to influence public opinion in favor of government policies by using the practices developed by public relations and media specialists. These experts, unlike the area-studies experts produced in the 1980s and 90s by international affairs programs, do not help to analyze what is happening and to forecast how to approach international crises, but they too are to engage in the fog of war and media coverage.

The Middle East, it is now well known, is fractured on multiple levels broadly across the region and deeply within the complex societies that make it up. This has been true for millennia. And it is true beyond the Middle East. Conflicts may be connected to one another historically, but what we are experiencing is not a cycle of violence, but a long war that has evolved and localized. Where some have seen religious conflict as the source of political violence, others have seen it as a consequence of nationalism and imperialism. Still others recognize conflict as not because of religious or political differences, but as the expressions and consequences of our human nature. Warfare is endemic. We are violent.

In the West, reason has been deemed the best arbiter for deciding the common good, while today the umma is torn between rationalism and fundamentalism (scriptural literalism) in structuring a just society.

In the West, religious freedom has been equated with political freedom. Note here that I'm not talking about secularization, which has been read as the removal of religion from the public sphere. People of faith read it as the separation of Church and State, that is, there ought to be no church established by the State. Citizens have the freedom to follow any faith, adhere to any religion, attend any meetings that they wish. They simply ought to have no power to coerce others into following their ways. And they respect the freedom of individuals to do as they please, so long as they do not harm anyone in the process.

In Islamic societies, the state has been understood as the guarantor of the spiritual welfare of the community. Political decentralization and multiculturalism has been the ascendant philosophy in the West, while centralization and homogenization has been in the ascendant in Islamic societies. Thus, it may be asked, who has the best understanding of human nature?

These questions have been asked, and answered, before. In Islamic societies there have been those who have believed that rationalism, not fundamentalism, should be the foundation of statecraft.

Should the state seek to ensure the spiritual welfare of its inhabitants? The West has responded with an emphatic no, while the Islamic world has answered, yes. Israel, caught between Islam and the West, has not yet decided, allowing religious authorities from each officially recognized religious body to exert control over their adherents’ private lives, with state support. This is the oft-discussed millet system that the Jewish State inherited from the Ottomans that remained in place throughout the years of the British Mandate.

Israel has been fighting several battles all at once. First, she has fought to save the lives of Jewish people by serving as their refuge from religious and political persecution. Secondly, she has fought for her survival as a political community among her Muslim neighbors. Thirdly, she has allowed multiple battles over religious authority to fester. Israel’s ambivalence relating to religious freedom and equality has been the result of political considerations. On the one hand, Israel seeks to create a space for Jewish identity, and thus has developed strong connections throughout the Galut (diaspora) and in the West, especially among Christians who have recognized her place in the international community for humanitarian, strategic, cultural, and religious reasons. On the other, she has asserted the civil equality of Christians, Muslims, and other religious minorities in the state. However, in reality she has fostered only the Orthodox Jewish community’s political power, subsumed into the very idea of Israel as a Jewish state. This despite the presence of many other varieties of Jewish identity and observance, as well as Jewish adherents to other faiths in Israel.

Muslims, as a community, following decades of uncertainty, for the most part rejected Israel’s claim to what the British called “Palestine” at the end of World War One. It took a rather long time for this position to become dominant, however, and that dominance resulted from an intentional process of the politicization of the Muslim community backed by Britain’s enemies, the Germans, and by the British themselves, who during the interwar period continued to follow their policy of divide-and-rule. Arab Christians, on the other hand, were supercessionists who believed that the Church had replaced Israel, and that therefore there simply could be no justification for a Jewish claim to Palestine. Having lived as dhimmis alongside Jews under Islamic governance for centuries, the Arab Christians chose to ally themselves with the Muslim majority, supporting the idea of secular Arab nationalism. During the interwar period, this alliance was not necessarily a right-wing or left-wing matter; there existed briefly during a time when what Albert Hourani brilliantly called “the Liberal Age” in the Middle East, when the Western conception of the state—that is, secularization, or the separation of Church and State—briefly gained acceptance in the region as liberal education began to make inroads into the traditional societies of the region.

However, the unresolved rivalries between the Europeans during the build-up to the Second World War had enormous influence on the frail liberal regimes of Central Europe and the Middle East. National socialism in Germany crushed liberalism in Central and Eastern Europe and in the Middle East, which saw the emergence of fascist parties in all of the communities there. Likewise, Communism resonated in Middle Eastern societies, eager to break the hold of traditional elites throughout the region. Hitler and Lenin’s ideas found enthusiasts—from Jabotinsky to Aflaq to Saadeh, who reinterpreted romantic ideas of ethnic nationalism and class solidarity into support for authoritarian political parties, of the Right or the Left, depending upon which power offered to provide the most military, economic, and political support against the Zionists.

Mulling over the political writings of Arab and Zionist nationalists from that period, one is often struck by their syncretism and eclecticism, merging Islamic, Christian, and Jewish ideas with Nazi and Communist ones. The strange syntheses produced in the interwar period now seem more comprehensible, as we ourselves contend with the seemingly incoherent mixture of Iranian Revolutionary Shi’ism with fundamentalist Sunnism (themselves incredibly syncretistic and eclectic) in the ideologies of Hamas and al-Qa’ida. What is at stake is not philosophical coherence, but pragmatic alliances in pursuit of political power.

And that is the one constant in all of this is the pursuit of power—the power to assert control over land, people, and resources, and today, as in the dark days of WWII and the Cold War, over public opinion.

This pursuit of power is motivated by either the desire to protect or to exploit. The way that these two aims have been understood in modern times is the same as they were by the ancient Hebrews and Greeks: liberty or tyranny. Ultimately, human nature will express itself no matter what the regime, for both the bad and the good. In the Abbasid period of Islamic history, the war of ideas known as the mihna, sometimes translated as "inquisition" in the sense of state persecution of schools of thought," is instructive to us today. This ideological battle was waged between the Mutazalites, who argued for the use of reason (falsafa, or Greek Philosophy) in statecraft, and the Ash'arites, who argued for scriptural literalism as the only legitimate political authority. The latter were the Wahhabis of their time. The Abbasid regime initially favored the Mutazalites, but at the same time promoted the licenciousness in its court, forever equating reasoning and libertinism (sin) in the Muslim mind.

The caliphate persecuted the fundamentalists until, after several decades, public opinion in the realm came to strongly support them, and the tables were turned. Why was this? The caliph turned to the Shariah-minded for public support. While the fundamentalists preached their sermons to the public and taught their doctrines to eager students, the philosophers worked in solitude, translating Greek works but not educating the masses. What they accomplished spurred the intellectual development of the West, but was forgotten by all but a few in the East until much later. Thus ended the most illustrious period of the Baghdad Court, which is enshrined today in the minds of many Arab humanists as the highest expression of Islamic Civilization. To fundamentalist Muslims, the excesses of the Abbasids overshadow their scholarly, artistic, literary, and technological attainments. Today's Salafists (fundamentalists) believe that the Mongol destruction of Baghdad in 1258 was divine retribution for the sins of an un-Islamic regime. They feel the same way about the Ottomans, and believe that today's Arab states will have a similar fate. They seek a return to what they imagine is pure Islam, unsullied by sinfulness, controlled by a literal interpretation of the Qur’an and the law as it was ostensibly practiced by Muhammad in Medina.

So what we are actually seeing is conflict over how humankind ought to control our nature, for good or for bad. Since the Reformation, the West has increasingly been divided over whether individual liberty or material welfare should be the highest aim of politics. Since the Holocaust, the West has overwhelmingly rejected the notion that the Church and the State ought to be one. The state no longer makes any claim concerning its role in the spiritual condition of its people in this world or the next. Muslims, on the other hand, remain divided over how best to secure the eternal fate of the community. Should the State allow for religious freedom, or should it control the religious affairs of the ummah in this world, to guarantee their fate in the hereafter? Is heaven more important than this world? Or does what happen in this world matter when it comes to heaven? The Muslim world has not yet repudiated the quest for a universal state. Let us pray it will not take another Holocaust to convince them that they must.