The Middle East Conundrum: The Inevitable Civilizational Clash

This is a collective re-enactment of the 'victimhood psychosis'.
Keywords: Terrorism, Conflict, Attack, Israel, Hamas, War, Islamic, Destruction, Hegemony, Middle East
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The Israel-Palestine conflict has vindicated Huntington’s reading of history. The ‘victimhood psychosis’  has changed into a catalyst for civilizational clash. The theory of taqiyya or concealment may not hold water in the digital age.

The Israel-Hamas war is now one month old. Dreadful losses in terms of men and material on either side are mounting with each day of fighting. We are told that this is the most devastating of all the numerous wars the two entities have fought so far.

History neither begins nor ends with one particular event. It is a continuous process. Palestinians say they were evicted from their homeland as a consequence of the 1948 Mandate. The Zionists say that their ancestors lived in those lands thousands of years ago. Then came a time when they were thrown out or emigrated for a variety of reasons, resulting in their wide dispersal over the globe.

In terms of history, neither is the expulsion of communities from their ancient habitats exceptional to the Palestinians nor is the animus against settlers an unending phenomenon with aborigines. 

Most Zoroastrians were expelled from their homes and hearths in Iran when the Sassanid Empire fell to the Arab invaders in the 7th and 8th centuries. More recently, nearly four hundred thousand Hindus in the Kashmir Valley were subjected to genocide and ethnic cleansing in India in 1990 at the hands of terrorists, many of them coming from other regions.

The movement of human groups has been a part of human history. With time so many angularities get straightened. A centuries-old animus nurtured against a particular community can at some point become counter-productive.    

If the Palestinian claim to the territory, now called Israel, is justifiable, then the claim of the Uighurs to independent East Turkistan, India’s claim to POJK plus Gilgit-Baltistan and the Baluch’s claim to independent Baluchistan is more than justified. The Uighurs, the Baluch and the Kashmiri Pandits, by way of example, should also be included in the category of people with ‘victim psychoses.’ In 1947,  Great Britain partitioned India into three sections. By the same logic, India has the right to claim restoration of the separated portions of her original land. 

Many Muslims argue that they are enjoined by the teachings of the holy book to hate the Jews, wage a war against them and even, for some, remove their traces on the earth. The Iranian Ayatollahs assert that Jews have no right to what they call a ‘Zionist entity’ in Palestine.

Muslims say God is not the Lord of the Muslims only but also of both worlds (rubbul-alameen), and that He is Merciful and Compassionate. But this is a contradiction in terms. How can the Lord of both worlds be cruel and merciless to direct one segment of his creation (among humans) to massacre other people he has created, or force them to convert? If God has in reality desired the destruction of a particular community, why did he create it or allow it to be misled, and why should he ask his faithful to hate and despise them? This paradox would imply that either God is not what the holy book claims he is, or that he does not in fact require a holy war to be waged against anyone.

In retaliation for the attack of Hamas terrorists, Israel struck back the next day and continued to destroy Gaza where the Hamas has risen. As Israeli bombardment has razed to rubble hundreds of houses, structures, buildings and establishments in Gaza, nearly five thousand Gazans, including many in their militant groups and leadership have been killed. Thousands are wounded and hundreds were taken as prisoners. Tel Aviv has blocked water, electric power, fuel and food for the people in the Gaza Strip. The entire Muslim world, led by Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey and Pakistan has joined hands to protest against Israel’s bombardment of Gaza and its blockade. Millions and millions of Muslims and non-Muslim the world over are coming out on the streets and many are raising slogans calling for the destruction of Israel. Their refrain is that there is an international conspiracy to finish Islam and that Israel is the instrument for that purpose.

This is a collective re-enactment of the ‘victimhood psychosis’. Through their slogans and protests, they try to create the impression that Muslims are being victimised. Thereby, they seek to legitimise their barbaric acts against Israelis and also discredit those who are critical of Hamas’s carnage. 

In the sneak attack of 7th October undertaken by the Hamas militants, nearly 1400 Israelis – men, women, children, kids and pregnant women were butchered by the Hamas assailants who had managed to take the festival observing Israelis by surprise. They infiltrated through land, air and sea, killing, kidnapping and destroying houses and habitats. 

Not a single leader of any Muslim state, not a single so-called intellectual of the Islamic ummah, has unequivocally condemned the barbarity of the 7th of October attack. The OIC, the Islamic League, and the Caretaker of the two holy cities of Mecca and Medina have been ambivalent or silent about Hamas’s terror but when Israel retaliated, all hell broke loose. 

Now, many Muslim leaders in Pakistan, Iran, Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Saudi and some of the Gulf States are calling for the entire  ummah to join hands and come together to fight Israel. They are raising funds for the jihad unleashed by Hamas. 

According to many of them, Islam is fighting the final battle for world hegemony against the Kaffirs. Some among them call it Islam’s war against the Christians and the Hindus as well. Hundreds of cities and towns in India are witnessing crowds coming out and yelling that they will give their lives for the protection and security of Islam.

Where in India or any other country in the world — France, the US, Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Belgium, Holland etc. is Islam in danger? Who is threatening Islam and how? 

Hamas invited destruction because destruction is the catchword of the Islamic militants. Hezbollah is threatened because as a proxy of Iran, they have accepted to get killed for the Islamic cause in the region, inspired by the saga of the Assassins (Hashishian) of Alamut notoriety. 

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K N Pandita

K N Pandita has a PhD in Iranian Studies from the University of Teheran. He is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University.

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