After every new war, Muslim people ask themselves: What's wrong? If nationalism has failed both in peace and in war, if both capitalism and socialism did not succeed in creating a sound economy, if neither European humanism nor Soviet communism succeeded in filling the spiritual void, where is the solution?
The thunderous reply comes from the depths of the masses: "Islam is the Answer!"
LOGIC WOULD have it that the Israeli reply would be the opposite.
Israel is a success story. Not only does it have a mighty military machine and credible nuclear capabilities, but it is a technological power and has a comparatively sound economic basis.
But messianic fundamentalism, closely allied with an extreme nationalism, is now dictating our course.
On the eve of the recent war, the commander of the Giv'ati brigade published an order-of-the-day to his officers. It shocked many.
The Giv'ati brigade was an outstanding fighting force in the war of 1948 (I was one of its original fighters and wrote two books about it). We took great pride in its composition. The fighters were a mixture of the sons of the metropolitan Tel Aviv elite and the poorest surrounding slums -- a mixture that was eminently successful and proved itself in battle.
The brigade commander was a former German communist underground fighter under the Nazis, who converted to Zionism and became a member of a very left-wing kibbutz. So were most of his staff officers. I don't remember a single soldier in the brigade who wore a kippah.
Imagine our shock when the current brigade commander called for a holy fight to fulfill God's will. Colonel Ofer Winter, who in his youth attended a religious-military school, had this to say to his soldiers on the eve of battle:
"History has chosen us as the spearhead of the fight against the Gazan terrorist enemy, who abuses and curses the God of Israel's battles...I raise my eyes to heaven and call with you: 'Hear oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.' Oh Lord, the God of Israel, make us succeed on our way, as we are going to fight for Israel against an enemy who curses your name!"
The official aim of the Israeli army in this campaign was to guard the border and stop the launching of rockets at Israeli towns and villages. But that is not the aim of the Colonel. He sent his soldiers to die (three of them did) for the God of Israel, against those who curse his name.
If this officer were the only religious fanatic in the army, it would be bad enough. But the army is now full of kippah-wearing officers who have been indoctrinated with religious fervor and indoctrinate their soldiers in turn with the same spirit.
The Zionist-religious party and its fanatical rabbis, many of them outspoken fascists, have been working for years to systematically infiltrate the army's officer corps. It's a process of natural selection: officers who are loath to act as colonial masters in occupied territories leave the army to become high-tech entrepreneurs, while messianic fanatics are sent to fill their place.
The colonel, by the way, has not been reprimanded or harmed in any way. On the contrary, he has been lauded during the war as an exemplary battle commander.
ALL THIS leads me to ISIS -- the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (Greater Syria), which recently changed its name to just "Islamic State." The change means that the former states, created by the Western colonialists after World War I, are abolished. There is going to be one Islamic state that includes all former and present Islamic territories, including Palestine (including Israel).
This is a new and frightening phenomenon. There are, of course, many Islamist parties and organizations in the Muslim world -- from the Turkish ruling party to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to the Palestinian Hamas. But almost all of them restrict their fight to their national countries -- Turkey, Syria, Palestine, Yemen. They want to attain power and rule their countries. Even Osama bin Laden wanted mostly to take over his Saudi homeland.
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