The widening circle of Arab uprisings in the Middle East is a cause of great concern to Christians, Jews, and all people who prefer peaceful solutions to violent struggles in settling political, religious and other disputes. The situation is rapidly deteriorating as the revolutions spread from one country to another, everywhere aimed at bringing down the local government and replacing it with an “Islamic people’s government”. The circle of violence is closing in on Israel and the scene is already set for a “Third Intifada” by the Palestinians and their millions of militant supporters in neighbouring Muslim countries.
Although the securing of human rights is offered as an excuse for the present uprisings, there is clearly a very strong Islamic motivation for the revolts. Islamic jihads (so-called ‘holy wars’) became an ever increasing phenomenon in modern times after the restoration of Israel in 1948. By the early 1980s Islamic revolutions were already so firmly established that Prof. E. Gellner wrote in his book, Muslim Society, (1983): “It is evident that Islam enjoys the biggest political support of all the world’s religions during the 20th century... It is able to generate intense revolutionary fervour and to combine with extreme radicalism. As a means for political mobilisation Islam has surpassed Marxism, as well as all other religions.”
The Islamic jihad has two objectives. The one is the demolition of “evil” governments in Islamic states as they are seen to be Islamic only in name. It is regarded as a religious duty to bring them down and replace them with fundamentalist Islamic governments. The other objective is to fight against non-Islamic states – particularly Israel and the USA. Although Israel is the major target of the jihadists, the USA is held accountable for supporting Israel financially and supplying sophisticated weaponry to them, thereby recognising and ensuring their right to survive. Muslims see this support as the major reason why Israel has not yet been defeated and obliterated. In view of this perception, radical Islam refers to Israel as Satan and to America as the Big Satan. They are intent on subjecting both these countries, and often shout or display slogans such as: “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!”
Between 1948 and 1980 Israel was involved in a number of major wars against coalitions of Arab states. In 1987, the struggle developed a new dimension by way of internal Arab uprisings by the Palestinians. They use a wide range of “weapons” against Israel, ranging from demonstrations and stone-throwing, to the use of rifles, rockets, missiles and suicide bombings. The first Palestinian uprising (Intifada) occurred between 1987 and 1993. The second Intifada started in September 2000 on the Temple Mount when Ariel Sharon, a former Israeli Prime Minister, visited the Temple Mount. This Intifada is also referred to as the al-Aqsa Intifada as it started at this mosque on the Temple Mount. A third Intifada is scheduled for 15th May 2011.
Expanding the struggle
The Third Intifada has a global support base and is therefore quite unlike the localised nature of the first two Intifadas. The new uprising is rightly labelled the “Electronic Intifada” by one of its front organisations as it makes full use of Internet websites, Facebook, Twitter, cell-phones and other electronic media to gain support for their movement. On the website www.electronicIntifada.net they publish highly emotional stories on alleged murders and atrocities committed by the IDF against Palestinian civilians, thereby supporting the call for mass action against Israel. They also wage an international campaign to discredit Israel among the international community. On their website they triumphantly announce that Israel’s negative ratings are rising sharply in the US and UK.
Facebook pages are continuously opened to urge all Palestinians who are scattered in other countries to return to Israel at the same time - on May 15, 2011 - to overwhelm the Jewish state. One of these pages was so radical that it called for the killing of all Jews and the liberation of Jerusalem through violent means. The page was soon afterwards banned by Facebook but virtually the same message is still being communicated by many other Facebook pages and Arabic websites.
One of the largest and most popular Muslim pages on Facebook is entitled, “Subscribe now to the Palestinian Intifada”. Their main thrust is to: “Make the Prophet Number One on Facebook”. Apart from all its praises for Allah and Islam’s founder, the Prophet Muhammad, the website also offers links to other pages that are promoting the Third Intifada as a united attempt to destroy the Jewish state.
This page very soon received more than three million votes of support from Facebook members around the world. Organizers have summoned millions of Arabs from across the Middle East to march into Israel and forcibly implement their “Right of Return”, thereby opening the way to the mass immigration of several million Arabs. The date for this march has been set for May 15, the date of the establishment of the State of Israel. Arabs refer to this day as the “Nakba” or “Tragedy”.
Another Arabic Facebook page is “Maseera 2011”. In a statement on the page they say: “Our goal is to carry out the march of the Right of Return in both word and deed to Palestine on May 15, 2011 from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, in order to penetrate the borders of Palestine and return to the homeland and validate the right of return in word and deed.”
One of the factors which seriously threatens unity among the supporters of the Third Intifada is the deep political rift between the Fatah and Hamas parties in the Palestinian territories. They are engaged in a struggle for supremacy, and the competition between them may easily lead to a Palestinian civil war. The Fatah faction PA President, Mahmoud Abbas, are strengthening themselves and many of the PA’s soldiers are presently undergoing intensive military training in Jordan. These soldiers will either be used in a future war against Israel or to suppress uprising in the Palestinian territories.
International support is rapidly mounting for the declaration of Palestinian independence in September 2011. Many of the supporters hope that this objective will be achieved through a mutually accepted settlement plan between Israel and the PA. But time is running out and there are no definite indications that Israel is willing to accept the highly unreasonable conditions of dividing Jerusalem and withdrawing from all the West Bank territories captured during the 1967 war. That would also mean withdrawing from the Golan Heights.
Should Israel fail to withdraw, they will fall victim of an unprecedented barrage of international criticism and become a pariah state. But Israel knows full well that a withdrawal to pre-1967 borders would not guarantee the permanence of a reduced Israel, as pressure would then be exerted on them to withdraw to pre-1948 borders and thus vanish from the world map. That is exactly the final demand of Israel’s neighbouring states:
“Behold, Your enemies make a tumult; and those who hate You... have taken crafty counsel against Your people... They have said: Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more. For they have consulted together with one consent; they form a confederacy against You: the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites; Moab and the Hagarites; Gebal, Ammon and Amalek; Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assyria also joined with them” (Ps. 83:1-8).
A war of annihilation is contemplated against Israel and it may erupt anytime, particularly if Israel is unwilling to make more substantial concessions. Plans are already in place for a unilateral declaration of Palestinian independence, should Israel refuse to reach a negotiated settlement according to the terms of the PA and the international community. It is a foregone conclusion that the UN, including the US and other Western powers, will recognise a Palestinian state created under such conditions.
Will Israel succumb to these conditions of political suicide, or will they engage in a war of survival against the multitude of enemies? The Bible has predicted an international siege of Jerusalem (Zech. 12:2-3) and also a time of great trouble for Israel (Jer. 30:7). Dark war clouds are indeed building up over the Middle East.
The Brotherhood connection
The Muslim Brotherhood is the largest political opposition organization in many Arab states. The group is the world’s oldest and largest Islamic political grouping, and the world’s most influential Islamist movement. The Brotherhood has as its slogan: “Islam is the solution”. It was founded in 1928 in Egypt by the Islamic scholar and schoolteacher Hassan al-Banna. Since 2005 Muslim Brotherhood members in Egypt have also become a significant movement online. In 2006 Abdel Menem Mahmoud created the first publicly identified Brotherhood blog, Ana Ikhwan (http://ana-ikhwan.blogspot.com).
The Brotherhood in Egypt was mainly responsible for organising the mass demonstrations which led to the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak and his regime, and they will probably form the core of the next government in Egypt. It is very likely that the Brotherhood will cancel Egypt’s 32-year peace treaty with Israel, unless the Jewish state complies with all the demands of the Palestinian Authority and the international community.
The Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, founded in 1987 in Gaza, is a wing of the Brotherhood, formed out of Brotherhood-affiliated charities and social institutions that had gained a strong foothold among the local population. During the First Intifada (1987–93), Hamas militarised and transformed into one of the strongest Palestinian militant groups. The Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007 was the first time since the Sudanese coup of 1989 that a Muslim Brotherhood group ruled a significant geographic territory.
The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria was founded in the 1930s. In the first decade or so of independence it was part of the legal opposition, and in the 1961 parliamentary elections it won ten seats. But after the 1963 coup that brought the Baath Party to power it was banned, but it retains a network of support in the country, of unknown strength, and has external headquarters in London and Cyprus. Membership in the Syrian Brotherhood became a capital offence in Syria in the 1980s (under Emergency Law 49) and remains so, but a regional office of the MB-linked Palestinian group, Hamas, is located in Syria’s capital Damascus, where it is given Syrian government support (Wikipedia: The Muslim Brotherhood).
The Brotherhood is largely responsible for the present uprising in Syria. Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, believes that Bashar Assad’s presidency is better for the Jewish state’s interests than any regime that would replace him. Netanyahu believes an Islamist entity tied to the Muslim Brotherhood would rise to power in Syria in the place of Assad. The Israeli PM said in an interview that even though Assad coordinated with Iran, the Syrian president is still more desirable than dealing with a Muslim Brotherhood entity.
The Shiite threat
Israel also faces a very serious threat of annihilation from the stronghold of the Shiite faction of Islam in Iran. President Ahmadinejad has already said publicly on various occasions that Israel should be wiped off the face of the earth. Iran has a frightening arsenal of missiles that can strike any target in Israel, and this country is on the verge of becoming a nuclear power. Iran’s military treaty with Russia ensures a large flow of sophisticated military hardware from Russia to them, and also to Syria who has concluded a similar treaty with Russia.
Two of Iran’s vanguards in their struggle against Israel are Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon. These terrorist groups have transformed themselves into political parties and they are financed, trained, motivated and armed by Iran with thousands of rockets and missiles to fight against Israel. Syria also supports them. In elections, Hezbollah has gained control over Lebanon and Hamas over Gaza. They are becoming major forces to be reckoned with by Israel as well as their political opponents in their own territories. Hamas is associated with the Brotherhood as far as their religious orientation within Islam is concerned, but they rely mostly on Iran for logistical support in their struggle against Israel.
It is important to note that Iran’s leader has a very strong expectation of the coming of Islam’s Imam Mahdi in the near future. According to him, the Imam will unite Islam, destroy the Jews and Christians, and subject the whole world to the authority of Allah and the Qur’an’s Sharia law. Ahmadinejad is very excited about the uprisings in the Arab world, since he believes that the Imam Mahdi will only come when chaos and disorder prevails on earth. He sees it as his duty to contribute towards the causing of chaos.
Iran plays a big role in preparing the way for the appearance of the Shiite’s Imam Mahdi. According to the website of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Broadcasting Corporation, the Mahdi will shortly make his triumphant appearance at the Ka’aba in Mecca. He will immediately set up armed forces to destroy Islam’s enemies in a series of apocalyptic battles. One of his biggest victories will be against the Zionist enemies and their allies in Jerusalem.
The Imam will move further north and establish his headquarters at Kufa near the ancient city of Babylon in Iraq. This website also says that the prophet Jesus, son of Mary, will appear with the Mahdi and help him to islamise the world and bring an end to oppression everywhere so that righteousness can prevail. Daily prayers are said in Iran in which Allah is petitioned to hasten the coming of the Mahdi.
The diplomatic war
General Amos Gilad, chief of Israel’s Diplomatic-Security Bureau warned that Israel faced an isolation “no less severe than war” should the United Nations recognize Palestine as an independent state this September. According to him, the Palestinian Authority is organising an international diplomatic assault against Israel. The central issue facing Netanyahu concerning September is whether Israel should enter into a partnership for peace with the Palestinians and spare itself international pressure, or continue to oppose them, thereby bringing about a third Intifada. Gilad said that, “if Israel does not enter into negotiations, the diplomatic isolation will legitimise clashes that could erupt from a coincidental event or incident that with Twitter and Facebook could spark an entire fire.”
Gilad’s remarks were similar to those made by Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently in an address to the National Security Institute in Tel Aviv. Barak warned then that a “diplomatic tsunami” would wash over Israel should the world recognise a Palestinian state according to 1967 borders in September. Barak emphasized in his address that Israel must develop its own political initiative to end the conflict in order to prevent disaster.
Israel is faced by serious dangers from different sides and of a varied nature:
- The Third Intifada with its strong religious and political basis, attended by highly emotional outcries for Palestinian independence, and driven with the aid of highly effective electronic media, is posing an unprecedented threat to the internal stability of the Jewish state.
- The planned declaration of a Palestinian state later this year, with or without Israel’s consent, poses a real threat to Israel’s existence as an independent Jewish state with Jerusalem as their capital.
- The sooner Israel succumbs to international demands to divide their land and capital city, the sooner they will reach the end of the road as a viable state. The longer they resist international pressure, the sooner they will become an isolated pariah state. None of these two options is acceptable.
- The uprisings in various Arab states may lead to ominous developments as they will most likely open the door to Islamic reforms that will challenge the very existence of Israel. The Muslim Brotherhood is preparing itself for an active role in this regard.
- The Shiite threat from Iran and Hezbollah is becoming more serious as time goes by and more lethal weapons are delivered to Israel’s enemies by Iran, Syria and Russia.
Israel’s own religious basis is shaky and does not render the much needed spiritual motivation which they need to overcome the dark and menacing opposition against them. Unfortunately, their problems will aggravate until they look on Him whom they have crucified and fully embrace Him as their Saviour and Messiah-King (Zech. 12:10). After the dark days of the coming tribulation, He will return to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem to save the remnant of Israel and the nations. But why wait until it is almost too late to get into the right relationship with Him? Only in Him does any person or people have a hopeful future.