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Twitter, Gaza, and Jihad

Saturday, December 27, 2008 8:54 PM

Israel has counterattacked in Gaza, using her massive military might against Hamas forces and their sanctuaries. This has been a long time coming. First I want to say that this is no video game. Real people are being killed and mutilated numbering in the hundreds. This is no joke. Thanks to Twitter, the world can see, and see easily, what is happening. I am now following a Twitter account called @gazanews, which posts frequent updates on the events. I will state right now that I support the military action by the IDF (Israel Defense Forces). In my opinion it is long overdue. But I am also willing to read what @gazanews has to say in defense of the beleaguered people and buildings within Gaza.

To gain a better understanding of this event, which will be going on for some days or more, I did some Wikipedia research on three topics: Gaza City, one of the world's most ancient cities, Hamas, the elected leaders of the citizens of Gaza, most of whom are refugees from elsewhere in the region, and Jihad, the Muslim concept of spiritual and material struggle.

Gaza has been under control of the local Canaanites, the Egyptians (in ancient times and in the 20th Century), the Biblical Jews, the Philistines (a people who came in by sea and left their name on the region: Palestine), the Greeks beginning with Alexander the Great, who conquered Gaza by siege, the Hasmonean Jewish Dynasty (see Hanukkah), the Byzantine Empire, various dynasties of the Islamic empires, Crusaders from Western Europe, various Muslim Turkish empires, the Mongols, and the British. Have I forgotten anybody? Probably. Jews lived there on and off, mostly on, since antiquity, but by order of the Israeli government, all Jews were evacuated from Gaza in 2005, as part of yet one more of the numerous failed peace plans. For readers of the Bible (Old Testament) and for movie buffs, the betrayal of the Jewish hero Samson by the Philistine courtesan Delilah, ending with the destruction of the gates of Gaza by the blinded, enslaved Samson, took place in Gaza (Judges 16:1-31) Since Israel's 1948 war of independence, a large number of displaced Arabs were gathered in Gaza, where they have subsisted in poverty on United Nations handouts.

Hamas was founded by an Egyptian-educated sheikh, Ahmed Yassin, in 1987, who lived in Gaza since the 1970's, and who was tied to the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization which promotes Jihad as-Sayf, or Struggle of the Sword, one of the four kinds of jihad. In 1988 Ahmed Yassin allegedly raised several millions of dollars from the oil-rich Gulf States to wage war against Israel.

In 2004, the elderly, paraplegic sheikh was killed in his wheelchair by an Israeli helicopter gunship after allegedly directly ordering suicide bombing attacks on Israeli civilians. Yassin's replacements have also been targeted by Israel. Hamas was elected in 2006 to govern Gaza. Hamas, like the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood which inspired it, has had a fairly consistent policy of waging war against Israel with the intent of Israel's total destruction. As this and many other translated videos illustrate, Hamas has a policy of educating the children of Gaza to hate Israelis and Jews in general, and to grow up to combat the "Zionist enemy and American imperialism." Hamas claims to be an advocate of peace, but only under certain conditions: "Allah willing, the day Islam rules the world, there will be justice, love, and peace, and all the people will love one another. That is history."

And that brings me to the topic of jihad, an Arabic word for "struggle." Most Americans seem to fall into two extreme categories. The first, like President Bush, does not like to mention jihad at all, preferring to avoid the topic or use terms like "terrorism" to avoid the Arabic word. Marxist-Leninists, who have a concept of "anti-imperialist wars of national liberation" now prefer to see jihad in such terms.

The other group, quoting from Muslim scripture, seems to view violent, fanatical, suicidal jihad such as that waged by Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Iranian mullahs, as an unavoidable part and parcel of Islam. In my view, that is an oversimplification. The Muslim scholar Majid Khadduri described four kinds of jihad:

  1. Jihad of the heart (jihad bil qalb/nafs) is concerned with combatting the devil and in the attempt to escape his persuasion to evil. This type of Jihad was regarded as the greater jihad (al-jihad al-akbar).
  2. Jihad by the tongue (jihad bil lisan) is concerned with speaking the truth and spreading the word of Islam with one's tongue.
  3. Jihad by the hand (jihad bil yad) refers to choosing to do what is right and to combat injustice and what is wrong with action.
  4. Jihad by the sword (jihad bis saif) refers to qital fi sabilillah (armed fighting in the way of God, or holy war), the most common usage by Salafi Muslims and offshoots of the Muslim Brotherhood.

In my view, ultimately there will be peace in Gaza, peace in India, and peace in Western Europe only when a struggle within the Muslim community is resolved, namely the choice of the first three kinds of jihad over the fourth.

We, however, in the West are not mere spectators of in internal struggle (jihad!) among Muslims. It is our duty to remain consistent in showing the Islamic world what the dire consequences will be of attempting to convert all non-Muslims to Islam by violent means, or of murdering them if they don't submit. It is my belief that George W. Bush, whatever his flaws as an American leader, has accomplished this temporarily in Afghanistan and in Iraq, and that the IDF at the moment I am writing this is showing Hamas what the consequences are of following the fanatical ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood.

[Keywords: impeach-them-all.org gaza hamas israel jihad muslim peace struggle ]