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Yoram Ettinger
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Islamic renewal? Western challenge!

Islamic traditionalists vs. Islamic reformers

In 2020, a dramatic battle is raging between the traditional, imperialistic school of Islam, which insists on strict adherence to the Quran and Sharia (“divine laws”), on the one hand, and the modernist/reformist school of Islam, which wishes to adjust Islam to the 21st century, by reforming intolerant and violent principles of the Quran, on the other hand.

The traditionalists are led by Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb, the Grand Imam of Cairo’s Al Azhar University, the highest authority of Sunni Islamic learning, which was established in 975 CE, and the pan-Islamic Muslim Brotherhood, the largest Islamic terror organization, which was established in Egypt in 1928. The latter is heavily supported by Turkey’s Erdogan, haunting every pro-US Arab regime and stretching its presence into Latin America and the US.

The modernists – who face a steep uphill battle – are led by Egypt’s President, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and the President of Cairo University, Mohamed al-Khosht. They urge Islamic liberalization and modernization.

The January 27-28, 2020 Al Azhar International Conference on Renovation of Islamic Thought, with leading clerics and politicians from 46 Muslim countries, demonstrated the decisive dominance enjoyed by the traditional school of thought in the Arab/Muslim world.

The conference accorded reverence and thunderous ovation to the call by Al Azhar’s grand Imam for the renewal of rigorous obedience to the Quran and Sharia and to his harsh criticism of the modernists. However, there was no applause for the challenging President of Cairo University, who called for replacing some of the traditional Islamic guidelines, which “are suitable for a different age.”  The modernists – most notably President Sisi – maintain that adjusting Islam to the 21st century is a prerequisite to de-radicalize Islamic youth, reduce intolerance and violence, curtail regional turbulence and set Muslim societies on a modern path.

Islamic reality facing Western democracies

In 2020, the conclusion of the January Islamic Conference highlighted the critical intellectual and national security challenge facing Western democracies, which tend to underestimate the clout of the Quran and Sharia in determining the strategy and policies of various Islamic entities, such as Iran’s Ayatollahs, the Muslim Brotherhood, Turkey’s Erdogan, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.  Are these entities driven primarily by economic interests or by the classic precepts of Islam?

Thus, Western democracies were elated to hear the traditionalist Grand Imam of Al Azhar stating that “Jihad [holy war] is not synonymous with fighting…” and that “established Sharia bans antagonism for those who oppose the religion [Islam]….”  They tend to ignore his assertion that “renewal is in no way possible concerning those texts, which are irrefutable in their certainty and stability [the Quran and Sharia].”

Moreover, Western democracies tend to sacrifice reality on the altar of well-intentioned hope. Hence, Islam was introduced in the early 7th century in the Arabian Peninsula town of Mecca, took over the entire Peninsula, expanded throughout the Middle East and Turkey, surged to northwest Africa and Spain, and established itself in parts of Asia and Africa. Was such an unprecedented expansion achieved via peaceful persuasion or the power of the sword?

According to historical documentation, Islamic wars have not been defensive, but rather Jihad-driven offensive. The 14 century expansion of Islam has been energized by wars, terrorism, subversion and other forms of intolerant violence toward “believers” as well as “infidels.”

In fact, in 2020, there has been a resurgence of the 7th century Islamic guidelines, as exercised by Islamic regimes such as Iran’s Ayatollahs, the Moslem Brotherhood, ISIS and Turkey’s Erdogan, which pursue global imperialism in accordance with the Quran and Sharia (“divine laws”). This aggressive Islamic strategy is intensified by the education curriculum in Muslim entities, including the Palestinian Authority.

This strategy is a derivative of the precepts of Islam, as prescribed by the Quran and Sharia (Divine Laws).

For example:

*Islam is the sole legitimate religion, divinely-ordained to rule the globe;
*“Infidels” must submit themselves to the “believers” unconditionally, peacefully or militarily;
*Jihad (holy war) is a prime commitment to Islam, guaranteeing each warrior 72 virgins in paradise;
*Terrorism is aimed at terrifying “infidel” civilians into defeat;
*Accords with “infidels” are non-binding, temporary ceasefires and truces (sulh, hudna) – not end of conflict – to be abrogated once “believers” regain sufficient fire-power;
*Double-speak and dissimulation (Taqiyyah) are legitimate tactics aimed at misleading and defeating “infidels.”

The Western challenge

Will Western democracies persist in allowing their hope for Islamic reform to cloud the skillful use of Islamic dissimulation (as was evidenced by the Western embrace of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran’s Ayatollahs; the miscomprehension of the 2010 eruption of the Arab Tsunami; and the misrepresentation of the 1993 Arafat’s supposed acceptance of preconditions for the establishment of the Palestinian Authority)?

Are Western democracies aware of the 1,400 year old supremacy of the precepts of Islam in shaping the policies of rogue Islamic regimes?

Will Western democracies persist in ignoring the centrality of hate-education in bolstering radical Islam, while serving as the most effective incubator of terrorism (e.g., the Palestinian Authority)?

The preservation of Western democracies is jeopardized by the tendency to sacrifice reality and long term interests on the altar of oversimplification, wishful-thinking and immediate gratification.










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Secretary Blinken, Middle East reality and US interests

Secretary Blinken’s January 29-31, 2023 visit to Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority was another one of his milestones, well-intentioned – but erroneous – Middle East legacies. It has backfired on vital US interests, in general, and the pursuit of regional stability and peace, in particular.

Secretary Blinken in Egypt

*A major issue raised by President El-Sisi, during his meeting with Secretary Blinken, was the volcanic turbulence in Libya, which has traumatized the region since 2011, fueling Muslim Brotherhood terrorism in Egypt and overall Islamic terrorism in Africa and Europe.

*This turbulence was triggered by a US-led NATO military offensive against the Gaddafi regime, and was masterminded, largely, by key policy-makers in the Obama-Biden Administration. They included Antony Blinken, then National Security Advisor to Vice President Biden, and were led by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, her close advisor and Director of Policy Planning Jake Sullivan, UN Ambassador Susan Rice and Special Assistant to President Obama Samantha Power.

*The offensive was motivated by noble values of human rights, but went astray due to an intrinsic misreading of the Middle East, in general, and Libya, in particular, where Gaddafi was not fighting innocent bystanders, but anti-US Islamic terrorists. In fact, these terrorists murdered the US Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, following their US-facilitated victory over Gaddafi.

*While the aim of the offensive was to prevent a massive slaughter of non-combatant Libyans by Gaddafi, the outcome of the offensive has doomed Libya to decades of chaos, plagued by an ongoing slaughter house, which has dwarfed the worst casualty assessments made by Clinton and Blinken.

*The ill-advised offensive has transformed Libya – the soft underbelly of Europe – into one of the world’s largest platforms of anti-Western Islamic terrorists, drugs and arms traffickers.  It energized a global resurgence of Islamic terrorism, and became a home base for scores of terrorist militias and an arena of civil wars with the participation of Turkey, Qatar, Italy, Russia, Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and France.

*Secretary Blinken’s well-intentioned, but misguided, human rights-driven policy has ignored the only choice facing the US in the Middle East, where human rights have not been complied by Arab regimes: a choice between pro-US human rights violating Arab regimes, or anti-US human rights violating Arab regimes.

*The refusal to accept that reality has also led to US military, financial and diplomatic pressure on the pro-US President Sisi – as well as the pro-US Saudi Crown Prince MBS and the pro-US UAE Crown Prince MBZ – to desist from the rough-handling of Muslim Brotherhood terrorists and the Iran-supported Houthi Yemenite terrorists, which the State Department establishment considers legitimate political, religious and social entities.

*This US policy – highlighted by the eagerness to conclude another accord with Iran’s Ayatollahs, who threaten the survival of every pro-US Arab Sunni regime – has pushed Egypt, Saudi Arabia. the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain closer to China and Russia.

Secretary Blinken in Israel and the Palestinian Authority

*As frustrated as Secretary Blinken is with the rogue conduct of Iran’s Ayatollahs, and notwithstanding the recently expanded US-Israel military drills, Blinken still opposes Israel’s determination that the 43-year-old diplomatic option has dramatically failed, while significantly bolstering the Ayatollahs anti-US global rogue strategy in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

*Blinken rejects the Israeli suggestion (shared by all pro-US Arab regimes) that a credible threat to resort to regime-change and military options is the only way to abort the regional and global terroristic, conventional, ballistic and nuclear Ayatollah threats. He still assumes that the apocalyptic Ayatollahs could be induced – via a generous financial and diplomatic package – into good faith negotiation, peaceful-coexistence and to abandon their 1,400-year-old fanatic, religious and megalomaniacal vision.

*Blinken’s policy toward Iran’s Ayatollahs and the Muslim Brotherhood – which pose a lethal threat to all Sunni Arab regimes – has eroded the US strategic credibility in pro-US Arab capitals, and has pushed Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain – reluctantly – closer to China and Russia, militarily and commercially.

*According to the State Department spokesperson: “The Secretary will underscore the urgent need for the parties [Israel and the Palestinians] to take steps to deescalate tensions… [and] put an end to the cycle of violence that has claimed too many innocent lives….”

*Once again, Secretary Blinken resorts to the immoral moral-equivalence, failing to distinguish between PA-incited Palestinian terrorists (killed by Israel) and Israeli civilians (murdered by Palestinian terrorists). Inadvertently, moral equivalence energizes Palestinian terrorism, while aiming to constrain Israel’s counter-terrorist efforts.

*Secretary Blinken’s visit to Ramallah enhanced legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority, while the latter has enshrined, since 1993, K-12 hate-education, which has brainwashed Palestinian youth against the existence of the “infidel” Jewish State. This rogue education system has been the most authentic reflection of the Palestinian vision/aspiration – consistent with the 1959 and 1964 charters of Fatah and the PLO, which focus on the annihilation of the pre-1967 “Zionist entity.”  The PA education system has become the most effective hot house and production-line of terrorists and suicide-bombers.

*Blinken has accorded more weight to Palestinian diplomatictalk than to the Palestinian hate-walk and its induced terrorism.  He has ignored the fact that a prerequisite to meaningful negotiation and peace is the uprooting of hate-education, mosque incitement, generous monthly allowances to terrorists’ families, and the glorification of terrorists through public monuments, schools and other institutions.

*Secretary Blinken attempts to convince Israel that the establishment of a Palestinian state is a prerequisite for bolstering Middle East stability and concluding an Israel-Saudi Arabia peace treaty. However, such a proposal should be assessed against the backdrop of the systematic failure of all State Department’s proposals to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.  They failed because they ignored the Palestinian track record, the non-central role of the Palestinian issue in the Middle East, and due to the preoccupation with the Palestinian issue, which yielded a Palestinian veto power.

*In fact, Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and the Sudan were successfully concluded by bypassing the Palestinian issue, and focusing on Arab – not Palestinian – interests, which are increasingly served by enhanced defense and commercial cooperation with Israel. Arabs do not cut off their noses to spite their faces.

*Blinken ignores Middle East reality, which highlights the non-centrality of the Palestinian issue (no Arab-Israel war has erupted due to the Palestinian issue) and Arab order of priorities (no Arab country has flexed its military – and hardly its financial – muscle on behalf of the Palestinians), unless one assumes that the Palestinian-embracing Arab talk supersedes the indifferent/negative Arab walk.

*Unlike Secretary Blinken, the pro-US Arab Sunni regimes are aware of the despotic, corrupt and terroristic nature of the Palestinian Authority, and the rogue nature of the proposed Palestinian state, as evidenced by the Palestinian intra-Arab track record.  Arabs perceive the Palestinians as an intra-Arab role model of subversion, terrorism, treachery and ingratitude, who bite the hands that feed them (Egypt – in the 1950s, Syria – 1960s, Jordan – 1968-1970, Lebanon – 1970-1982 and Kuwait – in 1990).

*The Arabs are also aware of the systematic Palestinian collaboration with anti-Western rogue entities, such as Nazi Germany, the Soviet Bloc, Iran’s Ayatollahs, Saddam Hussein, Latin American and other international terrorist organizations, Muslim Brotherhood terrorists, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and North Korea.

*The bottom line is that a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River would topple the pro-US Hashemite regime east of the river, transforming Jordan into another platform of Islamic terrorism (just like Libya, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen), and triggering a domino scenario into the Arabian Peninsula.  It would topple the pro-US Arab oil-producing regimes, undermine regional and global stability and economy and erode the US economy and geo-strategic posture, while advancing the fortunes of Russia, China, Iran’s Ayatollahs and anti-US Islamic Sunni terrorism.

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The post-1967 turning point of US-Israel cooperation

Israeli benefits to the US taxpayer exceed US foreign aid to Israel

Iran - A Clear And Present Danger To The USA

Exposing the myth of the Arab demographic time bomb