by Eric Walberg (Special Reports, Crescent International Vol. 47, No. 6, Dhu al-Qa'dah, 1439)
ISIS and Hamas should be enemies of Zionism. But somehow the struggle against Israel gets lost in the ISIS caliphate struggle. After seizing bits of Iraq and Syria, the ISIS line was: sure, get the Jews out of Palestine, but only after we’ve cleaned up the Ummah and gotten rid of kafirs. Then they got bogged down in slaughtering Yazidis, Shi‘is, and even Sunnis if their beards did not meet their regulation (long and scraggly!).
Long-term strategy is what motivates both ISIS and the Zionists. All’s fair in love and war, so torturing and killing civilians is the order of the day. It is all about land, so both are aggressively expansionist. Ethnic cleansing and racism based on spurious historical readings are necessary. At the same time, both are movements demanding strict adherence and willingness for self-sacrifice. The ISIS fantasy is the same as the Zionist “foreign policy.” Just replace Jew with Muslim (that is, Wahhabi/Salafi). At least the Zionists aren’t picky about who they call a Jew.
Why would Israel promote Hamas? ISIS is a spin off of the US-backed mujahidin and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in the 1980s, intent on undermining the secular Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan. Likewise, Hamas was founded in 1987 with the tacit approval of Israel, with the intention of undermining the secular Palestinian resistance, making it sectarian and religious-based, rather than a battle for land.
Just as the US washed its hands of al-Qaeda when they stopped following the US script, when Hamas showed itself as an effective resistance movement and a competent governing party, Israel switched to persecuting it, tacitly defending the Palestinian Authority. Things were catching up to Israel. It had its wayward Hamas and now a terrifying, if not particularly competent, more extremist Islamist group on its doorstep.
It looks like ISIS became the new Hamas for Israel, the real thing, politically off the wall, the latest “proof” of the bankruptcy of Islam. What to do?
Are ISIS and Hamas enemies or allies? Hamas, which fought a deadly battle with ISIS supporters in Jerusalem in 2009, has been dismissed by ISIS as a distraction from its caliphate project. Though ISIS was clearly against its principled policies of struggling against Zionism, Hamas wisely refuses to condemn ISIS as terrorist, “a term used by many countries for political purposes,” according to Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.
“We are all Islamists, and it is ideologically difficult for us to condemn them as terrorists. We are accused of the same by the West and some Arab countries,” he said, stressing that Hamas will never join the US alliance against ISIS. Hamas leader Ahmed Youssef explains it this way: if the insurgency in Syria and Iraq is seen as terror, based on the killings taking place there, then the United States and Israel, which have killed thousands of innocent people, ought to be condemned as well, “Nevertheless, we condemn all acts that fall outside the context of the international law and Islamic teachings.”
ISIS nonetheless condemned the Hamas government as insufficiently Islamic, justifying its call to overthrow Hamas as a first step toward confrontation with Israel. Some ISIS fighters even burned the Palestinian flag during the Israeli invasion of Gaza in July 2014 because they consider such nationalist symbols indicative of the decline of the Islamic world, which succumbed to national divisions through the creation of an independent “nation-based” political state. One tweet stated, “The Hamas government is apostate, and what it is doing does not constitute jihad, but rather a defense of democracy” (which salafists oppose).
That explains Israel’s tacit support of ISIS in Syria at least up until it became clear ISIS was on the way out. Wounded ISIS fighters were ferried into the Golan Heights for treatment and then returned. Israel-sourced arms were discovered in abandoned ISIS locations. This all seemed too bizarre to be believed, but makes sense in the “long run” strategy of Israel to keep the resistance divided, brazenly accelerating the illegal settlements while ISIS re-educated its flock for some distant confrontation with Israel.
But isn’t that a gamble, encouraging the Palestinians et al. to make the anti-Israel campaign religious? Maybe God is on the Muslims’ side. YHWH and Allah should be one and the same, but Jews are God’s special people. In Like everyone else… but different (2001), Morton Weinfeld recalls as a child asking his father two questions: (i) if there was a war between Canada and Israel, who would win? and (ii) which country would we support?
He answers, “The first, I know the answer to that one; the second, that remains a tough question.” Weinfeld’s tone is flippant about a serious charge against Canadian Jews — Canadians who put Israel first — as opposed to Jewish Canadians, who put Canada first. He makes light of the otherness unique to Judaism as a religion, making it, in its tribal form, the engine of anti-Jewish prejudice.
Suppose in a war against Israel, Canada won, as part of a world movement to end Israeli apartheid (no thanks to ISIS)? And Israel, as a nuclear power, was willing to go the full mile rather than admit defeat? Weinfeld probably had something else in mind, relying on the Jews’ ancient pact with YHWH. Weinfeld isn’t worried about the possibility that Israel might lose.
The nuclear threat is the perfect Zionist defense — no need for god, just technology and smarts (which YHWH gave his Chosen People in spades). “God is on our side” is the failsafe recourse even for atheists. After all, Israel was supposedly founded on religious principles, though ultra-orthodox Jews deny this, dismissing Zionism as a heresy. Now that ISIS is kaput (for the time being), it will be hard to pin down exactly what the relationship between Israel and ISIS was.
Hizb al-Tahrir today is akin to armchair ISIS. A tell-all memoir of a reformed ISIS groupy, Ed Husain, The Islamist: Why I became an Islamic fundamentalist, what I saw inside, and why I left (2007) is revealing. Husain complains that he lost his faith when he immersed himself in Hizb al-Tahrir (HT– Freedom Party) politics in London in the 1990s, that the activists against Western moral decadence were themselves easily seduced, even to the point of arguing that pornography has precedents in Islam (watching women undress in the reflection of water), laxness in prayer, indeed ignorance of all but the most rudimentary Islam, dismissing the 14 centuries of Islamic scholarship.
He is right to finally conclude that this radicalism has little to do with Islam. “I continued to see Leninist democratic centralism as the model of Hizb, with the Muslim version of male chauvinism thrown in.” Husain wandered from his cocoon childhood religion to the heady revolutionary movement of the 1990s, activated by the collapse of the “kufr” Soviet Union, the civil war in Yugoslavia, the bizarre “Islamic” world of Afghanistan, the rapidly spreading legend of Bin Laden, and martyrdom.
He constantly tut, tuts about the anti-American sentiment rife among his wild co-conspirators, even indulging himself, as if it is a sin (sorry Ed, America is at the heart of the problem). I am always suspicious of turncoats, be they militant anti-smokers, recovered alcoholics, apostates, political sellouts. The first step was not made with care, you went whole-hog, found it was a mistake, and now have gone to the opposite extreme. Your militancy is phoney, your character/ intelligence weak.
Dismissing all hijackings, captive taking, risking lives (mine and others) is wrong. They have their place, their context. Leila Khaled was (still is) a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Khaled came to public attention for her role in a 1969 hijacking and one of four simultaneous hijackings the following year as part of Black September. In a Guardian interview shortly after 9/11, she said, “Whenever I hear this word I ask another question. Who planted terrorism in our area? Someone came and took our land, forced us to leave, forced us to live in camps. I think this is terrorism. Using means to resist this terrorism and stop its effects — this is called struggle.”
How dare you, Ed, dismiss the tragic suicide bombings of Palestinians during your radical years (1990–2000s) out of hand? The civilian deaths were also tragic, but the total deaths during the second intifadah was 635 Israelis and 171 Palestinian suicide-bombers verses 5,300 Palestinians during both the intifadahs (1987–1991, 2000–2005), and 3,700 Palestinians during the invasions of Gaza (2008, 2014). So don’t lump these tragedies with the African embassy bombings, 9/11, and the latest incarnation of this extremism in ISIS.
As if Israel as caliphate’s caretaker, this is all reminiscent of the flip performed by Trotskyists who lost the communist faith and embraced neoliberalism from the 1960s on. This turned former communists into outspoken anti-communists, much like ex-Muslims today like Ed are called on to comment on things Islamic and to advise on Middle East politics. In a CNN interview in 2013, Husain even suggested that Israel could be called on by the West to retaliate for the poison gas claims against al-Asad — if “proven” true. It is hard to think of a more (outrageous) political act for a Muslim than suggesting Israel should attack Syria. But then ISIS’ dance of death is equally bizarre.
The Zionists are also working behind the scenes with Saudi Arabia, but this looks like it is now paying off in spades, as Trump moves to put an end to Palestinian hopes by embracing the Zionist policy, now backed by the Saudis. Bin Salman told Zionist leaders in New York recently that the Palestinians should stop their whining and take what the US is offering.
ISIS and the Hizb al-Tahrir of the last two decades derive directly from Wahhabism, the Saudi version of Islam. Osama Bin Laden made the flip from Saudi to anti-Saudi, as did ISIS and Ed. The latter is merely adding another flip, dotting the i’s in ISIS, bringing him back to the Saudi fold, courtesy of Israel and Ed’s new friend, US imperialism.