Sunday, June 26th | 28 Sivan 5782

July 15, 2014 6:58 am

Muslim Zionism is Key to Mideast Peace

avatar by Brandon Marlon

Map of Israel.

The latest Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, should it prove effective, will doubtless comfort some Israelis and disturb others. But all can agree that a ceasefire is a far cry from the dream of peace.

At best, a deal would end the war without inaugurating the peace, and two years from now we will all be hearing again from Hamas, rearmed and trigger-happy, predictably hungry for attention and thirsting anew for global headlines.

When, then, might the long-suffering dream of peace become reality? When will the regular rounds of warfare and military operations become strictly a thing of the past?

When Arabs desperately plead for Jews to return to the Land of Israel, there will surely be peace and prosperity in the Middle East. When they finally relinquish bloodlust in favor of accommodation, when their culture is reformed with a view towards inter-ethnic cooperation and acceptance of historical facts, the region will be given new hope.

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The Arabs will never win a war against Israel, because they will never have as much at stake. They will always lose because they can afford to lose. With 56 Muslim nations and 21-23 Arab states (depending on how you count) compared to the singular, minuscule Jewish state, Israel’s enemies enjoy the luxury of being able to repeat defeat. Globally, about 370 million Arabs and 1.6 billion Muslims vastly overshadow the world’s 15 million Jews.

Yet when Arabs and Muslims recognize that Zionism is as old as Jewish exile and that Jews belong in their ancestral homeland, harmony will take hold in the Holy Land. When Islam acknowledges Judaism’s originality and endurance, religious tensions should dissipate and civilizational narratives begin to align and not clash.

If Muslims in the hundreds of millions felt comfortable and safe in expressing their belief in Zionism as a licit historical enterprise, as part of Allah’s grand design, the dawning of a new day would greet the region. If the average Arab could remove the tinted spectacles of ideology and see the bigger picture – one that makes room for both Arabs and Jews in the Levant – then their culture of shame would not be threatened by Israel’s existence or success. Then pragmatic compromise would entail no loss of honor. Numerically and geographically, Arab nations are the elephant and Israel is the ant. It is absurd beyond belief that for two-thirds of a century the elephant has bristled at the ant’s existence. Not since David and Goliath has the gigantic felt so jeopardized by the puny.

At present there are small numbers of Muslim Zionists inside and outside of Israel, including some imams and sheikhs, and several have become prominent largely due to the scarcity of their kind. But only masses of Muslim Zionists can effect a tectonic shift in the regional mindset. And it is in the mind that the revelation must first take place before the ensuing revolution can emerge.

Realpolitik also aids the situation in that countries such as Saudi Arabia are newly in league with Israel against Iran, just as countries like Jordan partner with Israel versus the Islamic State (ISIL/ISIS). Reluctantly, grudgingly, Arab nations admit to Israel’s stabilizing presence and usefulness as a staunch ally against the region’s truer threats. For now this is largely conceded behind closed doors, away from the media and the mobs in the streets. But in time the acceptance and appreciation of Israel is bound to lose its taboo status and become a commonplace confession.

If the Arab League would show historic and heroic courage in normalizing relations with Israel, regional peace would receive a significant boost and the timeline for Mideast normality could be sped up dramatically. But progress is a process, and re-educating Arab societies to view Israel as a central piece in the Mideast puzzle is a massive, generational challenge.

The politics of tomorrow are born in the classrooms of today. Until the Arab mentality adopts an inclusive outlook regarding Israel and Jewry, the Middle East will remain a powder keg.

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