The Temple Mount (file)
The Temple Mount (file)Nati Shohat/Flash 90

Pakistan's The Nation newspaper, which describes itself as being the market leader in the Punjab and Islamabad areas, has published an op-ed that predicts Israel will become the world's next superpower.

Aisha Noor, a “researcher and designer,” begins her piece by asserting straightforwardly that Israel “has decided to demolish Al-Aqsa Mosque and build the Jewish Temple in its place.”

As evidence supporting this, she notes among other things that Israeli Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel recently said that it was time to begin building homes for Jews without restrictions, and that he said in a radio interview that “building the Jewish Temple is the paramount demand of the Torah, as it is at the forefront of Jewish salvation.”

“He called for a third Temple to be built on the site, which is today home to the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque and is considered Judaism’s holiest site and Islam’s third holiest” explained Noor. “The very words to focus on are ‘the time to build…has come.’”

Koranic prediction

Noor cites Muslim scholars, such as Sheikh Prof. Abdul Hadi Palazzi and Imam Dr Muhammad Al-Hussaini, who believe that the return of the Jews to the Holy Land, and the establishment of Israel, is in accordance with the teachings of Islam.

She quotes Prof. Khaleel Mohammed, Islamic Law scholar of the San Diego State University, as translating Surah 5, Verse 21 of the Koran, thus: “Moses said: O my people! Enter the Holy Land which God has written for you, and do not turn tail, otherwise you will be losers.” Mohammed here understands “written” to mean this is the final word from God on the subject, Noor adds.

Israel's strategic position has been enhanced by the overthrow of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi, a political change that has further isolated the Hamas-led Palestinian Arabs in Gaza, Noor expounded. Meanwhile, in Lebanon, the Shi'ite movement of Hezbollah has come under increasing military and political pressure after sending combatants to Syria to support the Assad regime in Syria.

Israel is benefiting from the Sunni-Shi'ite divisions ripping apart the Islamic world, claims Noor, and cites an anlysis that states: “The twin crises in Syria and Egypt have marked the emergence of a new superpower coalition in the Middle East, the odd couple alliance of Israel and Saudi Arabia, with Jordan serving as an intermediary and the Persian Gulf oil sheikdoms playing a supporting role.”

Noor goes on to describe powerful “Jewish lobbies” that control different countries, and quotes author Arthur Herman, who wrote in a Fox News piece on January 31, 2013, that the Arab Spring has made Israel stronger than before.

“The Arab Spring has spawned a chaos and instability in every country it has touched that’s going to grind on for years to come,” Herman had opined. “A new report warns that Egypt is on the verge of collapse; Israel’s old adversary Syria, already is. Both are also very likely headed towards economic ruin – as has already happened to Israel’s other foe, Hamas in Gaza, and could hit Iran next."

“All these factors,” Noor sums up, “contribute to the belief that Israel would be the next superpower.”

Fantasy or fact?

While Noor's op-ed may be tinged with shades of fantasy and anti-Semitic myth, recent research in India also shows that Israel is among the top ten most powerful nations in the world.

According to the 2012 National Power Index (NPI), released by the Foundation for National Security Research (FNSR), a New Delhi-based think tank, Israel achieved a 32.19 NPI ranking, placing it tenth on the list of the world's most powerful countries.

The NPI is a quantification of a nation's power, meaning its ability to influence global events. The ranking is based on a composite of indexes of statistical analysis in terms of economy, military, diplomacy, technology and population. Each factor has a certain weight, and the composite index includes a detailed analysis of individual components.

The research appraises Israel as a country of 8 million, with a GDP of $272.7 billion and 176,500 active military personnel.

Israel stands out in military capability where it is ranked 6th in the world, and technological capability where it ranks 4th. Its capabilities ranked 25 in economy, 17 in population and 19 in foreign affairs.

The index study notes that Israel has the strongest military in the Middle East, and is among the world's leaders in technology and science. It also notes that Israel ranks 15 on the UN development index, illustrating the high quality of life in the Jewish state.