Dr. Mordechai KedarDr. Mordechai Kedar is a senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University. He served in IDF Military Intelligence for 25 years, specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. Thoroughly familiar with Arab media in real time, he is frequently interviewed on the various news programs in Israel.
Israel is getting closer to the time when, if no solution is found, Amona is going to be destroyed - and possibly homes in Ofra and other places in Judea and Samaria demolished - in order to carry out the decisions of the Israeli Supreme Court. A vociferous public debate is in full swing in Israel, with those in favor of the demolition and those against it arguing about the Regulation Law, the standing of Supreme Court decisions and on the status of the court itself. No one cares about how the "other side" sees the destruction of the homes, what the "other side" takes it to mean and the conclusions the "other side" - our enemies, draw from that destruction.
The Islamo-Arab side observes what is happening in Israel, hears the public debate and is astounded by the court's independence and its ability to force its world view on the entire Israeli government. Some Arab columnists openly wish for that to be the situation in their own countries, with a court that defends the ordinary citizen, and even those who are not citizens, from the arbitrary decisions of rulers and politicians.
The Arab side, however, also has a totally different view and understanding of the home demolitions. This is a religious narrative, one that sees religion as the source of the underlying explanations for everything that happens in the world and Allah as the causal factor in everything that happens each day. Allah's words are in the Koran, a book that is relevant in every place at every time and in every situation. The destruction of the Israeli homes also has an explanation in the Koran, to be found in a paragraph at the start of Chapter 59, the Exile chapter.
"It is He Who got out the Unbelievers among the People of the Book from their homes at the first gathering (of the forces). Little did ye think that they would get out: And they thought that their fortresses would defend them from Allah. But the (Wrath of) Allah came to them from quarters from which they little expected (it), and cast terror into their hearts, so that they destroyed their dwellings by their own hands and the hands of the Believers, take warning, then, O ye with eyes (to see)!" (translation: Wright-house.com)
According to Islamic interpretations, this paragraph concerns a group of Jews known as "Bani Nadir" who lived near the city of Medina. They refused to convert to Islam and Mohammed expelled them from their homes allowing them to take with them only the goods that could be carried by one camel. Instead of complying, the Jews destroyed their own homes and took the beams away so the Muslims could not make use of them. What is significant here is an instance in which Jews prefer to destroy their own homes when Islam is stronger than they.
Since what is in the Koran is relevant in every period, including the present one in which Muslims see Jews destroying their own homes, the above-quoted Koranic verse immediately comes to mind: "They destroyed their homes with their own hands" to explain what is going on, but the rest of the verse is no less important "with the hands of the Believers," meaning that believers, referring to Muslims - Jews are not believers to Islam! - have acted so as to cause the Jews to destroy their own homes.
By Islamic logic, terror is what will bring about the destruction of Jewish homes, and the end of the entire Zionist project - to be carried out by the Jews themselves.
After the destruction of the Katif Bloc over decade ago, the almuslim.net site wrote the following (my additions in parentheses, M.K.): "O, how today resembles yesterday, the Jews are as they were (in Muhammed's time), their characteristics are the same and their nature has stayed intact although so many generations and eras have passed. The Jews have given up trying to feel secure because of the Jihadist Palestinian opposition, and have decided to leave the lands they stole, after expelling and sending their owners all over the world... "
The writer clearly connects the Palestinian Arab "uprising" with the fact that the Jews fled from their homes after they despaired of every living in peace on the lands they had stolen. The only conclusion to be reached is that if the Palestinian Arabs continue their Jihad, the Jews will lose heart, flee and destroy their own homes. By Islamic logic, terror is what will bring about the destruction of Jewish homes, and the end of the entire Zionist project - to be carried out by the Jews themselves.
In Israel, no one has realized that this is the picture being painted on the "other side." There are some who think that it is destroying houses after court decisions to that effect that strengthens us morally and adds to the feeling of being just that has always been our guiding light. This is true, but only where we are concerned. It is totally false when it comes to our enemies, who are encouraged by the destruction and get a motivational shot in the arm that pushes them to more terror and greater Jihad so that Allah "will strike fear in their hearts" as it says in the Koran verses brought above.
A gap in perception
The yawning perception gap that divides Israel from its enemies concerning the importance of the religious factor in the dispute between them burst forth in 2014, during Operation Protective Edge. Res. Gen. Ofer Winter, then commander of the Givati Brigade, wrote a letter to his soldiers as they went out to war. At the end of the letter he wrote that he trusts them to "act in the spirit of other Israeli fighters who marched at the head of the armed forces [throughout Jewish history]." Continuing, he wrote "I raise my eyes to the heavens and call out 'Hear O Israel, the Lord our G-d, the Lord is One.' O G-d of Israel, lead us along the path to victory, the one we traverse in order to fight for Your people, Israel, against an enemy that desecrates Your Name. In the name of the IDF's fighters and particularly those of this brigade and its commanders, grant that we fulfill the words 'Your G-d goes before you to fight for you against our enemies and to bring you salvation.' Amen. Together, only together, we will prevail."
In the midst of the fierce fighting, all the Israeli liberal, humanistic "tired souls," awoke to attack Gen. Winter alleging that he is "turning the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs into a religious one." Heaven forfend! (note the sarcasm). Ofer Winter? He is turning the conflict into a religious one? And what exactly do the Palestinians/Arabs/ Muslims think of the conflict? Is it not Allah who commands them to go out to Jihad - the holy war - with Israel? What did they yell in the War of Independence? Didn't it sound like "itbach el yehud" - butcher the Jews? Not the Zionists, not the Israelis, but the Jews. Absolutely the Jews! So is this not a religious war? Doesn't religion make us Jews before we are Israelis?
And the struggle for Jerusalem is not a religious one either? Not motivated by religious energy in an attempt by Islam to suppress the rebirth of Judaism after Islam was born with the express goal of eliminating Judaism and Christianity? And the struggle for all of Israel is not the result of the fact that Islam believes that the entire country, from river to sea, belongs to the Holy Islamic Wakf as sanctified land?
Does Islam separate religion and state? That would be a first! Separating the two is a European idea that Islam sees as completely alien to itself and its tradition.
Conclusion: Since the basis of Israel's conflict with its neighbors is most definitely religion, their motivation to fight us stems, first and foremost, from religion. And their religious works give them the explanation for the Jews destroying their own homes. That means that anyone who destroys Jewish homes, or decides that this is what must be done, adds to our enemies' motivation to continue the Jihad against us with greater force. The Supreme Court may not understand this, or simply may not take it into account.
But it is important for us to know that destroying Jewish homes helps motivate our neighbors to continue to fight us - and results in pushing any hopes for peace much farther away.
Translated by Rochel Sylvetsky