Yoram Ettinger
Yoram EttingerCourtesy

Amb.(ret.) Yoram Ettinger is author of “Second Thought: a US-Israel Initiative” and can be found at bit.ly/3uqh4aO

Prof. Bernard Lewis, who was a leading authority on Islam and the Middle East, shed light on a cardinal aspect of the frustrating, complicated and inconvenient reality of the Middle East: "If the fighters in the war for Islam are fighting for God, it follows that their opponents are fighting against God…. In the classical Islamic view, the world is divided into two: the House of Islam… and the House of Unbelief, which it is the duty of Muslims ultimately to bring to Islam…. The struggle between these rival systems has now lasted for some 14 centuries…. America has become the archenemy, the incarnation of evil, the diabolic opponent of all that is good… of Islam…."

Western conventional wisdom has been based on the assumptions that Middle East violence is despair-driven; that radical Middle East dictators can be induced to subordinate their radical ideologies to dramatic financial benefits (“money talks”); and that significant gestures and concessions could motivate rogue Middle East leaders to embrace peaceful coexistence, compliance with agreements, adoption of human rights and democracy, to depart from fanatic ideologies, and to join the “multilateral/cosmopolitan club.”

In order to advance its well-intentioned assumptions, Western conventional wisdom has consistently overlooked the 1,400-year-old shifty, unpredictable, violent, totalitarian, intolerant, anti-“infidel” (Islam vs. the West), anti-“apostate” (Shiite vs. Sunni), fragmented, volcanic and frustrating nature of Middle East (intra-Arab and intra-Moslem) reality.

It has also overlooked the supremacy of fanatical ideologies over financial benefits in shaping the policy of Iran’s Ayatollahs, the Moslem Brotherhood, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, as reflected in their (K-12) school curriculum, mosque sermons and constitutions/charters.

Western appeasement of Shiite, Sunni and Palestinian Arab terrorism has ignored the well-documented fact, that terrorists bite the hands that feed them, as demonstrated by the Mujahideen (who were assisted by the US to drive the USSR out of Afghanistan and proceeded to carry out 9/11), Iran’s Ayatollahs (who were critically assisted by the US to topple the Shah of Iran and proceeded to become the lead anti-US terrorist and drug trafficker) and the Palestinian Arab leadership (which was hosted by Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Kuwait and proceeded to subvert and terrorize each of them).

In defiance of Western conventional wisdom, the inherent hostility toward the “infidel” West, and especially “the Great American Satan,” has been a dominant feature of fundamental Arab and Islamic education, culture and politics, fomenting epicenters of global anti-US terrorism.

Notwithstanding Western conventional wisdom-driven gestures, Islamic terrorism has haunted the US since the Barbary pirates in the beginning of the 19th century, irrespective of US policy, and independent of the identity of the US President. Thus, it afflicted the US during

  • Presidents Trump (e.g., the Hudson River Park terrorism murdering 8),
  • Obama (e.g., the Orlando terrorism murdering 49),
  • G.W. Bush (9/11 murdering 2,977),
  • Clinton (e.g., the car-bombing of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania murdering 300),
  • Reagan (e.g., the blowing-up of PanAm-103 murdering 257), etc.

9/11 underscored the determination of Islamic terror regimes to engage the US in their battle to bring the “infidel” West to submission, irrespective of the US' intent to disengage from Afghanistan, Iraq and the Middle East at-large. These rogue regimes view the US’ disengagement, isolationism and gestures as symptoms of Western battle-fatigue and the erosion of a posture of deterrence, which intensifies terrorism and shifts the battle gradually to the US mainland (e.g., Iran’s and Hezbollah’s sleeper cells in the US and collaboration with Latin American terror organizations and drug cartels).

Islamic terrorism is not driven by despair, but rather by the imperialistic vision of Islam as the only legitimate religion, divinely-ordained to bring “apostates” and "infidels" – especially the US - to submission, peacefully or militarily.

There is an unbridgeable gap between Western conventional wisdom (WCW) and Middle East reality.

The self-destructive nature of Western conventnional wisdom (WCW) is seen in the 45-year-old diplomatic option toward Iran in defiance of Iran’s rogue track record and is exposed by the march of Middle East facts.

The attempt to subordinate Middle East reality to WCW, was compared by Prof. Elie Kedourie – who was a leading historian of the Middle East – to trying to make water run uphill.