For part I, click here.
In Part 1, we saw the background of the Srebrenica Genocide – centuries of conflict and animosity between Islam and Christianity in the Balkans – and how the genocide was eventually halted by a US-led NATO military coalition.
As we noted, Operation Deliberate Force, the military action which prevented the Serbs and Croats with their allies from exterminating the Bosniak Muslims entirely, was NATO’s first-ever concerted military campaign. And it was launched at the USA’s initiative and insistence on defending the Muslims of the former Yugoslavia.
Four years later, on 24th March 1999, NATO, again led by the USA, played the reprise, launching a 78-day bombing campaign to destroy Slobodan Milošević’s Serbian forces, who were once again destroying mosques in the hundreds, slaughtering Albanian and Bosniak Muslims in their thousands, raping their girls and women in their tens of thousands, and forcing them out of their homes as refugees in their hundreds of thousands – by most accounts, close on a million.
Again the USA led NATO in a campaign to defend Muslims. Again the USA showed that it could mobilise NATO solely in order to defend Muslims.
What was the result?
Two-and-a-half years later came 9/11, the single most devastating terrorist attack in human history, an attack perpetrated by Muslims acting against the USA in the name of Islam.
And Muslims the world over cheered that attack ecstatically. From Britain to Bahrain, from Alabama to Zanzibar, devout Muslims were dancing in the streets, handing out candy, burning the Stars and Stripes, firing rifles in the air in celebration.
Why this outpouring of hate against the world’s sole superpower, which had so recently gone to war in the heart of Europe to protect Muslims and Islam, and defeated the Christian forces which were massacring them?
And equally germane – since global Islam had shown its martial ability, how come there were no Islamic reprisals against Serb Christians? It was, after all, the ostensibly Christian forces of Slobodan Milošević and Ratko Mladić who had massacred the Muslims of the former Yugoslavia, and the USA which had commanded the mission to save them.
The answer lies in the Islamic institution of the Dhimmi.
This is from the Arabic word dhimma, meaning approximately “treaty” or “covenant” or “pact”. And to understand this, we have to go to the very heart of Islam.
The word “Islam” is a cognate of the Arabic “istislam”, meaning “surrender” or “submission”. Hence “Islam” connotes submission to Allah.
The most fundamental purpose of Islam is to subjugate the entire world to the “will of Allah” – to force the entire world into submission.
Therefore, Islam by its very nature has to be expansionist. Islam must perforce conquer as much of the world as it can, and it is a fundamental belief of Islam that it will ultimately conquer the entire world.
For much of Islamic history, this was achieved through military conquests. At other times (such as now, when Islamic military strength cannot possibly vanquish the rest of the world), it is achieved through proselytization and population growth.
An inevitable consequence of this is that Islam, from its earliest inception, developed and defined its relationship with non-Muslims living under its rule.
Non-Muslims living under Islam generally have three options. One is to leave, and to be unsubjugated (until Islam conquers the place to which the non-Muslim has fled).
Another option is to convert to Islam, and to enjoy the benefits of being the superior class of society.
And the third option is to live under Islam as a dhimmi, subject to the dhimmi, the pact or covenant which defines the relationship between the dominant Islam and the subjects which it has conquered and controls.
Islam accepts surrender from non-Muslims in areas which Muslims conquer, and those non-Muslims (kuffar, “unbelievers”) are then permitted to live under Islam – with specified conditions.
They live according to the dhimma, the pact which guarantees that as long as they surrender to Islam and obey its rules, pay the various taxes which non-Muslims pay to their Muslim masters, and generally remain submissive, Islam will protect them. (That, at any rate, is the theory: in practice few Islamic societies in history have extended genuine protection to their non-Muslim subjects, but that is another issue for another article.)
And this defines the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims. The natural way of the world for Islam is that Muslims protect non-Muslims.
And this inevitably implies the Muslims’ superiority over non-Muslims. It is, after all, the superior class who protects their subordinates. Just as we humans declare whales, elephants, hippopotami, and bald eagles as protected species and pass laws which forbid hunting them, so it is the Muslims who declare “their” non-Muslims as protected species and pass laws which forbid persecuting them.
This was the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims throughout the Islamic world – and then in Yugoslavia the situation was reversed. Suddenly, instead of Muslims protecting non-Muslims, the kuffar from all over Europe, but led by the USA began protecting Muslims.
And this was a distortion – nay, a veritable perversion – of all that Islam teaches. Muslims are supposed to be the masters who protect their non-Muslim subjects, and instead the non-Muslims were protecting the Muslims from persecution!
This was unacceptable and unforgivable.
When Slobodan Milošević and Ratko Mladić and their henchmen slaughtered Muslims, that was war. And being killed in war is an acceptable, even honourable, way to be killed. In war, each side kills the other, each side attempts to conquer the other’s land, pillage their property, and take their women as spoil of war (certainly in the Islamic mind-set).
So Islam had no particular gripe against Milošević and Mladić or their militias. They had merely slaughtered Muslims in war.
But the Americans had done something infinitely worse: they had humiliated the Muslims by protecting them. In Islam, honour is far more valuable than life. This is the reason that Islam sanctions “honour-killings”: a girl or woman who “dishonours” her family by having relations with a man other than her husband has to be killed, by her husband or father or brothers, whichever is appropriate, because that is the only way to restore the family’s honour.
Global Islam therefore had to wreak its revenge on America fir its humiliation of Islam and Muslims, while Slobodan Milošević and Ratko Mladić and their crimes against the Muslims of Yugoslavia were all but forgotten.
(Of course it would be absurd to argue that Operation Deliberate Force was the sole reason, or even the main reason, for Islamic hatred of America and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. But it was definitely a contributing factor. As were all the other times that American forces protected Muslims, or treated Muslims with dignity and respect both at home and around the world.)
How does this impact upon Israel?
– Here in Israel we commit the identical “crime” against Islam and Muslims. We have laws which guarantee Muslims freedom of worship, equality before the law, all the rights of citizenship, and so forth.
From our perspective, this is basic decency. From the Islamic perspective, this is an unacceptable humiliation.
Israel has spent the last 72 years pleading with the Arab states around to make peace. But this, too, is yet another humiliation for Islam. From the Islamic perspective, it should be Islam and Muslims graciously offering the non-Muslims their chance to save their lives by surrendering to Islam, not the kuffar – and in this case Jews, the lowliest of the low! – offering the Muslims generous peace agreements.
Every time Israel makes another “gesture for peace” – we humiliate the Muslims still further. Every time we reassure the Muslims that our laws protect them, that as long as they are in Israel they are safe – we humiliate them again.
Every time Israel makes another “gesture for peace” – we humiliate the Muslims still further.
Under these circumstances, we really leave the Muslims in our midst and surrounding us little choice but to avenge this ceaseless humiliation. Being defeated in war by a superior enemy is honourable; being killed in war is honourable; being protected by an enemy who has defeated them is the most degrading humiliation possible.
Even worse than this: re-read the phrase above: Being defeated in war by a superior enemy is honourable. Yes, but being defeated in war by a weak enemy is a disgrace and a humiliation. So every time Israel makes “gestures for peace”, every time Israel offers to withdraw in return for peace, we display weakness.
And that again humiliates Islam and the Muslims unforgivably. Because every such gesture tells the Arab Muslims surrounding us and in our midst that we are weak. It is a direct taunt: Look – you were defeated on the battlefields by a weak enemy!
Of course that humiliates the defeated enemy, and of course such open humiliation forces the Muslims to respond with renewed attacks, with terrorism, with determination to regain their lost honour, with their necessity to prove that they were nor defeated.
Three times the Arab world launched wars of aggression and attempted genocide against Israel: in 1948, the seven Arab nations which were independent – Trans-Jordan (today called Jordan), Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia – attacked the new State of Israel, and lost. Instead of exterminating Israel and all the Jews therein, as they had planned as their war aim, it became Israel’s victorious War of Independence.
In 1967, thirteen Arab and Muslim states – Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Kuwait, Tunisia, Sudan, and Pakistan – tried again. Again they launched a war of aggression and attempted genocide, and again they failed, in what came to be known as the Six Day War.
And they made another attempt in 1973, when again seven Arab states – Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Libya – again launched a war of aggression and attempted genocide against Israel, and again lost in what came to be known as the Yom Kippur War.
Three times the Muslim world attempted to exterminate Israel and all the Jews therein, three times Israel won – and each time Israel made the same terrible mistake of agreeing to a cease-fire instead of unequivocal victory, each time Israel humiliated the Arab Muslim states by demonstrating that they were defeated by a weak enemy – and thus each time Israel perpetuated the conflict, making the next attack inevitable.
If the Srebrenica Genocide a quarter of a century ago this month is going to teach us anything, it’s that Muslims can forgive being slaughtered in war: that at least is an honourable death.
They cannot forgive the humiliation of needing the protection of dhimmi.
Daniel Pinner is a veteran immigrant from England, a teacher but also an electrician by profession; and a Torah scholar who has been active in causes promoting Eretz Israel and Torat Israel.