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Islamic Religion and the Palestine Issue Essay

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Islamic Religion and the Palestine Issue

            The dawning of the 21st century saw the rise to prominence of Islam as a religious and political force in the Arab world. The issue at hand is not the position and role of Islam in modern society, but rather on what is the best way it can perform its role. Some Muslims desire for a more secular living but others want a more active role of Islam in public life (Esposito, “Islamic Fundamentalists”).

            Over the years, the words “terrorist”, “militant”, “extremist” and others have been attached to the people of the Arab world. There are many issues that hound the Moslems and due to information vacuum, they have been stereotyped as being fundamentalists.

            Although the chief driving force and consideration of majority of Islamic movements are either local or national, foreign issues likewise did its share in the politics of the Muslim. Some of the most common instances include the conflict between Palestine and Israel regarding the latter’s occupation of Eastern Jerusalem, the Soviet conquest of Afghanistan in the 1980s, the 1991 Desert Storm operation, to name just a few (Esposito, “Islamic Fundamentalists”).

            Political Islam is one of the hottest issues that pervades in modern Middle Eastern countries. While it is an extremely hot issue today, political Islam is likewise one of the least understood (Rashad, 37).

            Islamic fundamentalists are widespread within the region. During the 1990s, Islamic political fundamentalists rapidly grew and became even stronger. This movement escalated even further because of the attention that media placed on them especially concerning their conflict with Palestine (Rashad, 37).

            For many people, Islam is the breeding ground of fundamentalists and terrorists. Islamic movements and organization have often been attached to terrorist activities, such as the one that happened on September 11, 2001, and have often been blamed for the slow pace of the peace process in the Middle East region (Shah, “The Threat of Islam”).

            Political Islam has often been seen as an obstacle to the West. In fact, they are being viewed as the substitute to the communist movement which was prevalent during the Cold War era. This stereotyping has created a negative impact on the Arab people. In Africa, for instance, the bombings that took place in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 have stirred a general resentment towards the Muslim people (Shah, “The Threat of Islam”).

            The Islamic people have been typecasted for being a threat to the ideals of a democratic society without make any distinctions from terrorists or corrupt leaders who use Islam to advance their personal interests. US foreign policy have received negative criticisms for not taking this into consideration (Rashad, 37).

The Beginnings of Palestinian Fundamentalist Movement

            Even before the prominence of Hamas and his military component, the Izzidin Qassam Brigade, the most prominent Islamic fundamentalist group is the Muslim Brotherhood. Established in 1928 by Hassan Al-Banna in Egypt, the group embraced the Palestinian cause providing support through petitions, demonstrations, and fund raising (Rashad, 37).

            In October of 1945, the group established its first office and after only two years of existence, membership in the Muslim Brotherhood increased to 20,000. When war escalated in 1948, many Brotherhood members volunteered to join the war. With Jordan occupying the West Bank and Egypt the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian members of the Muslim Brotherhood became separated from each other (Rashad, 37).

            When war erupted in 1967, the Palestinian chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood sided with the Jordan faction. They refused to exercise their political rights from 1970 to 1980, and instead focused on attacking moral and social issues like corruption, trust administration, and community organizing (Rashad, 37).

            However, these movements aroused the suspicion of many Palestinians most especially since the period was marked by increasing rebellion against the government as well as attempts by Israel to further divide and conquer Palestine. The Brotherhood realized that they were in no position to challenge the Palestinian Labor Organization (PLO) considering that its leader, Fatah, had an impressive track record in military training and operation (Rashad, 37).

            In the middle of the 1980’s, the Muslim Brotherhood became a political movement which eventually led to the establishment of the Hamas or the Islamic Resistance Movement (IRM) (Esposito, “Islamic Fundamentalists”).

            Political Islam in Palestine in the Israeli-occupied region of the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been strictly secular and patriotic. Hamas was not in favor of the Oslo accord which established the Palestinian National Authority. Hamas launched terrorist attacks against Israel while the PNA called for a ceasefire with Israel and negotiated for a united Palestine (Esposito, “Islamic Fundamentalists”).

            In 2006, elections were conducted for the Palestinian Legislative Council with Hamas getting 76 of the 132 vacant seats and became the dominant political party. However, political analysts believed that the result was an indication of the disapproval of the Palestinians against the corrupt and inefficient government of Fatah rather than an acceptance of political Islam. Fatah, the dominant political faction since the 1960s, garnered 43 seats (Esposito, “Islamic Fundamentalists”).

            After Hamas assumed government in 2006, various sanctions were imposed by Western nations on the newly-installed government which crippled the economy of Palestine. Leading the embargo is the United States which froze its aid package followed by the European Union. Israel is not willing to release the taxes and custom duties gathered from the people of PNA. This has led to skirmishes between the supporters of Hamas and Fatah (Esposito, “Islamic Fundamentalists”).

            Shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre and Pentagon, American observers have been attempting to determine why the Arab world develop such a huge hatred against the United States. There are many speculations that the main reason that triggered terrorists to involve the lives of thousands of people in the World Trade Centre has something to do with the continued support of the United States to Israel. In fact, this assumption was strengthened by a study spearheaded by Newsweek a month after the horrendous attack. The study revealed that 58% of Americans feel that U.S.-Israel ties is among the primary reasons the 9/11 attack took place (Gold, “Israel is Not The Issue”).

            Gary Kamiya, who is the Executive Director of Salon magazine, said that unless the United States encourage Israel to negotiate for peace with Palestinian, such hatred for the West will not die. This sentiment was shared by former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak who said that the only way to put an end to this issue is for the United to find a quick resolution to the Palestine issue (Gold, “Israel is Not The Issue”).

            As a reaction to the retaliatory attack conducted by the Americans on Afghanistan, the great Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden said that the Palestine issue is among the reasons why his network and other terrorist groups would continue hating and attacking the United States (Gold, “Israel is Not The Issue”).

The Palestine Issue In Europe

            In the European Union, Islam has grown to become the second religion in a number of European states. Despite of this, Moslems have not been integrated into Western community and has remained on the background of politics in Europe. In fact, Islam is no longer an international issue but has grown to become a local problem that needs to be resolved (Dittrich, “What Place for Islam?”).

            Moslems have seen unfavourable conditions in Europe particularly because of the September 11 attack as well as the various events in Bosnia, Palestine, and Chechnya. Still the main issue surrounding the hostile relationship between the West and Moslems has been the Palestine issue. For most Arabs, they feel some kind of betrayal by the double standards in the West. Unfortunately, the situation between Moslems and Europe will likely escalate unless there is a peaceful resolution of the issue (Dittrich, “What Place for Islam?”).

            There are various international events that have made a huge impact on the treatment of Moslems in Europe. The Iranian Revolution, the Salman Rushdie affair, the growth of the Taliban, and the increasing Arab-Israeli conflict have made an impact on Islam in the European continent (Dittrich, “What Place for Islam?”).

            A Threat to the World

            The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre has enhanced the traditional belief that Islam indeed poses a threat to the world as well as democratic beliefs. However, like Judaism and Christianity, Islam follows the same line of thought. They believe that there is only one God. For the Moslems, Jesus is just a prophet like Moses. Majority of them contradict the hard-line interpretation of Islam (Shah, “The Threat of Islam”).

            In his book After Jihad, America and the Struggle for Islamic Democracy, Noah Feldman, who is likewise a professor at the New York University School of Law, Islamic democracy is likely and this is the dream of every Moslem. Sadly, however, these voices have been suppressed by autocratic leaders (Shah, “The Threat of Islam”).

Resolving the Issue

In order to resolve the politics of Islam on the Palestine issue, drastic moves needs to be initiated. However, focusing on the Israel-Palestine conflict will not solve the issue as this will only fuel the fire of the militant Moslems connected with bin Laden and his cohorts. This will likewise send a wrong impression regarding American policy in the Middle East (Gold, “Israel is Not The Issue”).

Aside from that, placing political pressure on Israel to accede to the current conflict in Palestine will only endanger the security of its people and would not resolve the fury being felt by Islamic fundamentalists towards the United States (Gold, “Israel is Not The Issue”).

            Totally eradicating terrorism requires not only military measures but also diplomatic actions to ensure that there are no sufficient grounds that would trigger more militant action (Gold, “Israel is Not The Issue”).

Conclusion

            The dawning of the 21st century saw the rise to prominence of Islam as a religious and political force in the Arab world. The issue at hand is not the position and role of Islam in modern society, but rather on what is the best way it can perform its role. Some Muslims desire for a more secular living but others want a more active role of Islam in public life

Political Islam is one of the hottest issues that pervades in modern Middle Eastern countries. While it is an extremely hot issue today, political Islam is likewise one of the least understood Political Islam is one of the hottest issues that pervades in modern Middle Eastern countries. While it is an extremely hot issue today, political Islam is likewise one of the least understood.

            Islamic fundamentalists are widespread within the region. During the 1990s, Islamic political fundamentalists rapidly grew and became even stronger. This movement escalated even further because of the attention that media placed on them especially concerning their conflict with Palestine.

            For many people, Islam is the breeding ground of fundamentalists and terrorists. Islamic movements and organization have often been attached to terrorist activities, such as the one that happened on September 11, 2001, and have often been blamed for the slow pace of the peace process in the Middle East region.

            Islamic fundamentalists are widespread within the region. During the 1990s, Islamic political fundamentalists rapidly grew and became even stronger. This movement escalated even further because of the attention that media placed on them especially concerning their conflict with Palestine.

            For many people, Islam is the breeding ground of fundamentalists and terrorists. Islamic movements and organization have often been attached to terrorist activities, such as the one that happened on September 11, 2001, and have often been blamed for the slow pace of the peace process in the Middle East region

Even before the prominence of Hamas and his military component, the Izzidin Qassam Brigade, the most prominent Islamic fundamentalist group is the Muslim Brotherhood. Established in 1928 by Hassan Al-Banna in Egypt, the group embraced the Palestinian cause providing support through petitions, demonstrations, and fund raising

In the European Union, Islam has grown to become the second religion in a number of European states. Despite of this, Moslems have not been integrated into Western community and has remained on the background of politics in Europe. In fact, Islam is no longer an international issue but has grown to become a local problem that needs to be resolved.

Moslems have seen unfavourable conditions in Europe particularly because of the September 11 attack as well as the various events in Bosnia, Palestine, and Chechnya. Still the main issue surrounding the hostile relationship between the West and Moslems has been the Palestine issue. For most Arabs, they feel some kind of betrayal by the double standards in the West. Unfortunately, the situation between Moslems and Europe will likely escalate unless there is a peaceful resolution of the issue

The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre has enhanced the traditional belief that Islam indeed poses a threat to the world as well as democratic beliefs. However, like Judaism and Christianity, Islam follows the same line of thought. They believe that there is only one God. For the Moslems, Jesus is just a prophet like Moses. Majority of them contradict the hard-line interpretation of Islam.

            In his book After Jihad, America and the Struggle for Islamic Democracy, Noah Feldman, who is likewise a professor at the New York University School of Law, Islamic democracy is likely and this is the dream of every Moslem. Sadly, however, these voices have been suppressed by autocratic leaders

In order to resolve the politics of Islam on the Palestine issue, drastic moves needs to be initiated. However, focusing on the Israel-Palestine conflict will not solve the issue as this will only fuel the fire of the militant Moslems connected with bin Laden and his cohorts. This will likewise send a wrong impression regarding American policy in the Middle East.

Aside from that, placing political pressure on Israel to accede to the current conflict in Palestine will only endanger the security of its people and would not resolve the fury being felt by Islamic fundamentalists towards the United States.

            Totally eradicating terrorism requires not only military measures but also diplomatic actions to ensure that there are no sufficient grounds that would trigger more militant action

Works Cited

Dittrich, Mirjam. “What Place for Islam in Europe?”. 2003 October 27. European Policy Centre. 2008 September 27. <http://www.epc.eu/en/ce.asp?TYP=CE&LV=177&see=y&t=42&PG=CE/EN/detail&l=6&AI=336>

Esposito, John. “Islamic Fundamentalism”. Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia. 27 September 2008. <http://www.encarta.msn.com>

Gold, Dore. “Israel is Not The Issue: Militant Islam and America”.  2001 October 1. Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. 27 September 2008. <http://www.jcpa.org/jl/vp463.htm>

Rashad, Ahmad. “Hamas: The History of the Islamic Opposition Movement in Palestine”. Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, page 37 (March 1993).

Shah, Anup. “The Threat of Islam”. 2003 November 11. Global Issues. 2008 September 27.

<http://www.globalissues.org/article/121/the-threat-of-islam>