Hamas’ Ramadan war has bled over into Pentecost (Sunday evening May 16), the Jewish feast known as Shavuot/Feast of Weeks in Deuteronomy 16:10: “Then you shall celebrate the Feast of Weeks to YHVH your God.” This is the third time Hamas has initiated rocket attacks on Israel’s civilian population during a Ramadan season, considered in classical Islamic sources to be an auspicious time for jihad.
Hamas’ zealous Islamist religious convictions focus primarily on the destruction of the Jewish state of Israel, as its Charter makes crystal clear:
- “The Islamic Resistance Movement (ed., Hamas) draws its guidelines from Islam” (Article #1)
- “The Platform of The Islamic Resistance Movement (ed., Hamas): Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors”
It’s not surprising that Jewish holidays often center around attempts to destroy the Jewish people. That’s “nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). The famous Hebrew Passover song “V’hi she’amda” graphically charts this historical flow. “For not only has one nation risen up to annihilate us, but actually in every generation they rise up to destroy us. But the Holy One blessed be He, rescues us from out of their hand!” The Jewish nation may be paranoid, but even paranoid people can have real enemies.
Though the Abraham Accords give the impression that peace is breaking out in the Middle East, anti-Jewish roots still run deep in the Islamic world. A clear example: the previous ruler of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (died in 2004) held aggressively anti-Israel views and funded international think-tanks to spread those views, which included Holocaust denial. The coronavirus of anti-Semitism is lurking just under the surface all across the Middle East, hovering below the glass-topped oak tables at Islamic conferences like the World Islamic Conference (Saudi) or the International Islamic Unity Conference (Iran). How do these roots influence not only Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, but also Israeli Arabs?
Not only one nation
To get a solid grasp on developments among Israeli Arabs, one has to look deeper than TV breaking news or the New York Times. Even the occasional voice coming out of Israel’s Messianic Jewish or Israeli Arab community may not always be reflecting concrete realities on the ground.
One of the reasons this is important is because of the recent Arab-Islamic riots throughout Israel involving arson, robbery, blocking and stoning of national highways, lynching and murder have pushed these matters to front and center in Israeli discussions. Talking-head responses in the Arab community have included the following expressions:
- denial that Arabs are rioting
- justification for such behavior, blaming it on Israel’s supposed moral failures
- tit-for-tat arguments, saying that Arabs are simply responding to ‘initial’ Jewish terror
- a call for all rioting (Jewish and then Arab) to stop
In the past week 112 Jewish homes were torched, 386 Jewish homes were looted. One Arab home in Jaffa’s Ajami district was attacked with a Molotov firebomb and a 12 year old Arab boy was badly burned. Israeli police traced the DNA on the glass bottle to an Arab rioter who mistook the Arab house for a Jewish house. Here is an incomplete list of violent activities over the past week, all perpetrated by Israeli Arabs:
- Lod- Monday May 10, Israeli Arabs burn the synagogue in Lod, not far from Ben Gurion airport
- Lod – Tuesday May 11, Yigal Yehoshua, age 56, lynched by being beaten with bricks in Lod by Israeli Arabs, dies Monday May 17
- Laqiya – Tuesday May 11, Israeli Arab Bedouin attempt to lynch inhabitants of 4 Jewish cars on Route 6
- Akko/Acre – Tuesday May 11, Israeli Arab arson destroys two boutique tourist spots, the Arabesque Hotel and Uri Buri fish restaurant
- Akko/Acre – Tuesday May 11, 84 year old famous Israeli leader in Israel’s space program in critical condition as a result of the hotel arson
- Akko/Acre – Wednesday May 12, 30 year old Jewish man in critical condition after being attacked by Israeli Arab mob with rods at Egged Square
- Hura – May 12 Wednesday, Israeli Arab Bedouin rioters set fire to community police HQ in the Negev
- Rahat – May 12 Wednesday, Israeli Arab Bedouin throw stones and burn tires along routes 310 and 264.
- Kafr Kassem – Thursday May 13, two police cars set on fire in Israeli Arab town
- Jaffa – Thursday May 13, Leon Shranin, a 19 year old soldier, seriously beaten by Israeli Arabs, suffering from a skull fracture and a cerebral hemorrhage
- Lod – Thursday May 13, Jewish man on way to synagogue prayers stabbed beside mosque by Israeli Arab
- Umm al-Fahm – Thursday May 13, Jewish family attacked by Arab rioters after accidentally entering Israeli Arab town
- Umm al-Fahm – Thursday May 13, Israeli policeman injured by live fire by Israeli Arabs, Molotovs also thrown at Police station
- Haifa – Thursday May 13, bus stoned, one woman passenger injured
- Kiryat Motzkin – Thursday May 13, Arab resident called on Arab protestors to target Jewish vehicles and shops in Akko
- Tamra – Thursday May 13, Israeli Arab medic saves the life of a 50 year old Jewish man stabbed in neck in Israeli Arab town
- Akko/Acre – Friday May 14, Jewish-Arab Theater Center torched by Israeli Arabs
- Other riots of Israeli Arabs include the following towns: Baqa al-Gharbiyye, Fureidis, Jisr az-Zarqa, Nahf (near Carmiel),
- Riots also occurred in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of a-Tur, Bet Hanina, Sheikh Jarrah, Shuafat, Silwan.
The specifically Islamist nature of these attacks needs to be considered. Synagogues and yeshivas were burned to the ground. Torah scrolls and Jewish prayer books were vandalized. Over one hundred Jewish-owned cars were torched. Jewish passengers were pulled out of cars and lynched. The cries of the Israeli Arab mobs were typically jihadi and murderous: “With blood, with spirit we will redeem you al-Aqsa!” and “Khaybar Khaybar, ya yahud, Jaish Muhammad, sa yahud” (‘Khaybar, Khaybar, O Jews! The army of Muhammad is returning!’ – a classic Islamist battle cry used when attacking Jews or Israelis).
These attacks cannot be explained by Marxist political theory – the main motivations here are not economic or social. They are classically jihadi. They are a spiritual continuation of the Islamist jihadi campaigns waged by Haj Amin al-Husseini and the Muslim Brotherhood against Jews and their restoration in 1920-21, 1929, 1936, 1948, etc. As Professor Efraim Karsh of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies notes in his fresh article ‘Israel’s Arabs versus Israel’ of May 14, 2021, “The ongoing explosion of violence by Israel’s Arabs against their Jewish compatriots is not an act of social protest as is wrongly claimed by many commentators but an internal uprising in support of an external enemy – a corollary of decades of steady nationalist and religious radicalization, especially since the September of the Oslo ‘peace process’ in September 1993.”
How did Israeli Arabs get to this point?
In the State of Israel, Jewish and Arab believers in Yeshua make up a very small percentage of the overall population. Out of nine million Israeli citizens, Jewish believers may be 0.3% and Arab believers 0.2% of the total Israeli population. Our relationships with each other are important in the eyes of the Lord, and the love we express to each other is a significant joy and testimony. But for a clearer and realistic view of general relationships between Jews and Arabs in Israel, we need stronger and longer-range spectacles. Jews and Arabs who care about what is happening need to consider the past, present and future of these two groups.
In May 1948, when five Arab armies broke into the fledgling Jewish state, claiming it for their own, there were approximately 750,000 Arabs residing in the area. Nearly 600,000 of these Arabs fled (the ‘Palestinian refugees’), either to Lebanon, to Syria or to Jordanian-controlled territories. Approximately 160,000 Arabs remained in the Jewish State of Israel and became Israeli citizens – 13.6% of the total population. By 2019 these Israeli Arabs had become 1.9 million – 21% of the total population, a nearly twelvefold increase.
Regarding the explosive growth of Islam in Israel: In 1988 there were 80 mosques in Israel, but by 2003 that number had grown to 363. That is an increase of nearly four and a half times. Yet during that period the Arab population increased only one and a half times. This reveals a growing Islamization of Israel’s Arab population. By 2020 Muslims were 85% of Israel’s Arab population. The future seems to be heading even more in that direction.
Perspectives from scholars and spooks
Israeli scholar and doyen of the ‘New Historians’ in Israel Benny Morris gives his perspective:
- “I don’t see the suicide bombings as isolated acts. They express the deep will of the Palestinian people. That is what the majority of the Palestinians want” . . . [Morris] said that Israel was justified in uprooting the Palestinian ‘fifth column’, once the Arabs had attacked the infant state, and that the number executed or massacred – some 800 – was “peanuts” compared with the massacres in Bosnia in the 1990s. He even added: “The Israeli Arabs are a time bomb. Their slide into complete Palestinization has made them an emissary of the enemy that is among us. They are a potential fifth column. In both demographic and security terms they are liable to undermine the state. So that if Israel again finds itself in a situation of existential threat, as in 1948, it may be forced to act as it did then. If we are attacked by Egypt (after an Islamist revolution in Cairo) and by Syria, and chemical and biological missiles slam into our cities, and at the same time Israeli Palestinians attack us from behind, I can see an expulsion situation. It could happen. If the threat to Israel is existential, expulsion will be justified.”
Yuval Diskin, former Director of SHABAK, Israel’s General Security Services, noted in a 2006 internal document that that Israel’s Arab population “is a genuine long-range danger to the Jewish character and very existence of the State of Israel.” In 2004 then-GSS Director Avi Dichter had told the Israeli cabinet that the Arab population in East Jerusalem “represents today the largest reservoir for terror attacks within the Green Line.”
In an article titled ‘Israel’s Domestic Enemy’, Daniel Pipes (President of the Middle East Forum) speaks bluntly:
- After nearly sixty years on the sidelines, Israel’s third and final enemy may be joining the battle . . . Foreign states are Israel’s enemy no. 1 . . . External Palestinians [ed. terrorists and Hamas] are enemy no. 2 . . . The Muslim citizens of Israel, usually known in English as Israeli Arabs, constitute enemy no. 3. (But I focus on Muslims, not Arabs, because Arabic-speaking Christians and Druze are generally less hostile) . . . Their blatantly celebrating Israel’s worst enemies evidences this, as does growing Muslim-on-Jewish violence within Israel.
In 2000, a poll published by the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot showed that 66% of surveyed Israeli Arabs would support the Palestinians in any confrontation with Israel, while only 13 percent would support their own country.
Ra’am, the political wing of the Southern Islamic Movement, is an organization inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood (as are Hamas and al Qa’eda). Updated and reviewed at a 2019 conference in Nazareth chaired by Ra’am leader Mansour Abbas, the Southern Islamic Movement’s charter takes Islamist and jihadi positions:
- “The State of Israel was born of the racist, occupying Zionist project; iniquitous Western and British imperialism; and the debasement and feebleness of the Arab and Islamic [nations]. We do not absolve ourselves, the Palestinian people, of our responsibility and our failure to confront this project . . . We all are [functioning] one hand until the occupation ends and a Palestinian state is established in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and in noble Jerusalem – when the expelled and displaced return to their homes and to their homeland.”
Ra’am has been seriously negotiating with all major Zionist parties in the current round of elections. There is a warning for Israel in this potential rapprochement, considering what has happened to the formerly Christian-controlled country of Lebanon. The incorporation of many Palestinian Muslims post-1970 led to Maronite Christians becoming too small a proportion of the country’s population to rule it.
Karsh challenges us to think carefully about these matters:
- Israeli Arabs are an avowedly non- or anti-assimilationist minority with the mentality of a majority. Far from seeking to adapt themselves to the norms and habits of the majority, now more than ever they regard themselves as unlawfully dominated by an alien invader who must be supplanted. Their rejection of their minority status has not diminished but has intensified with the rise in their economic and political fortunes, and so has their opposition to the Jewish state per se.
Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar, senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, served for 25 years in IDF military intelligence specializing in Syria, Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups, and Israeli Arabs, and is an expert on the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups. His dry conclusion is:
- Given Islam’s pervasive entrenchment in Palestinian society (and for that matter in all Middle Eastern societies) – even Yasser Arafat and most of the PLO’s founding generation were Muslim Brotherhood members in their young age – the acceptance of Israel’s existence by Muslims communities, both within Israel and abroad, will only be feasible upon their realization of the Jewish state’s overwhelming strength and invincibility. Only a powerful, well organized, highly determined and militarily invincible Israel can stand a chance of surviving in its violent and merciless neighborhood.
Are all Israeli Arabs opposed to the Jewish state?
The answer to this question is simple: no. Though the Islamization and radicalization of Israeli Arabs is a clear and present danger, there are some Arabs and Druze (since 1948) who long ago made the decision to loyally stand with the Jewish state. Today three Arab communities serve in the IDF – Druze, Circassians and Bedouin. Aramean Christians do not see themselves as Arabs, and they too are very Israel-positive. Pipes’ perspective is that approximately 20% of Israeli Arabs could be considered positive to Israel and Israelis. Some Palestinians are also very positive to Israel, though secretly, as their being exposed could cost them their lives.
In a recent article (December 2017) titled ‘Citizenship, Identity and Political Participation: Measuring the Attitudes of the Arab Citizens in Israel’ (Arik Rudnitzky & Itamar Radai; Moshe Dayan Center for Middle-Eastern and African Studies), the authors state that “most Arab citizens (60%) relate positively to Israeli citizenship and to current living conditions in Israel. In contrast, a considerable portion – at rates ranging from one-quarter to one-third of the respondents (by varying demographic categories) – holds very critical views on these matters.”
Those Israeli Arabs who are loyal to the State of Israel, who stand with the Jewish people, who (like Ruth 1:16-17) see their own destiny bound up with the destiny of the sons and daughters of Jacob – these are amazing people and worthy of great honor. The Scriptures give us a striking paradigm of what it means to stand with the Jewish people when many of the neighbors are violently opposed to the restoration of Israel. Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite is commended in the Song of Deborah for her courage and accurate hand in dispatching the enemies of Israel, who are also the enemies of YHVH (see Psalm 83:1-5)
Most blessed of women is Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite. Most blessed is she of women in the tent. He asked for water, she gave him milk. In a magnificent bowl she brought him curds. She reached out her hand for the tent peg, and her right hand for the workmen’s hammer. Then she struck Sisera, she smashed his head, and she shattered and pierced his temple. Between her feet he bowed, he fell, he lay. Between her feet he bowed, he fell. Where he bowed, there he fell dead. Out of the window she looked and wailed, the mother of Sisera through the lattice. “Why does his chariot delay in coming? Why do the hoof beats of his chariots delay?” Her wise princesses would answer her. Indeed she repeats her words to herself, “Are they not finding, are they not dividing the spoils? A concubine, two concubines for every warrior! To Sisera a spoil of dyed cloth, a spoil of dyed cloth embroidered – dyed cloth of double embroidery on the neck of the plunderer?” May all Your enemies perish in this way, YHVH! But may those who love Him be like the rising of the sun in its might.” And the land was at rest for forty years. (Judges 5:24-31)
Did some Israeli Jews also engage in violence?
The answer to this question is sadly – also yes. A few small groups whose political worldview is similar to that of Rabbi Meir Kahane and outright fascist thuggery activated their supporters through social media, and went out to look for violent clash and confrontation with Islamist jihadis. They did this primarily in three locations:
- Beside Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate on Thursday April 22, hundreds of far-right Jewish activists, many affiliated with the Jewish supremacist Lehava movement, marched while calling out “Death to Arabs.” There were many injuries but no fatalities.
- Orthodox Jewish settler social media posts stated that 30 Jewish youths from Yitzhar in Samaria, West Bank traveled to Lod on Tuesday night and engaged in clashes with Arab rioters. Video footage also showed Jewish rioters throwing stones at Arab cars in Ramle. One Israeli Arab was fatally shot in the violent demonstration.
- In the neighborhood of Bat Yam, south of Tel Aviv, affiliated Jewish thugs violently destroyed an Arab-owned ice-cream parlor and then lynched and nearly murdered an Israeli Arab taxi-driver. Four Jews were arrested while chanting “death to Arabs” and “may your village burn.”
These violent images shocked many in Israel, who are not used to seeing Jews engaging in such street violence. Over the next week Israeli television broadcast commercials showing Jews and Arabs as fellow-workers, neighbors and friends. But it must be said that there was no proportionality in the violence. The above numbers clearly show that. The riots were basically Islamist and the lynchings were basically done by Israeli Arabs. There was also some Jewish violent kickback from a few extreme Jewish groups.
Postscript – Why did Hamas go to war now?
Hamas’s track record is to win elections, and then to not allow any more elections. In Gaza 2006 the PLO lost to Hamas in the elections. Hamas’ rise led to immediate torturing, kneecapping and throwing PLO representatives off the roofs of high buildings. Hamas was hoping to do the same in the upcoming West Bank elections (recently canceled by PLO on April 29, 2021). Their plans to take over the West Bank were knocked off track by PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
Hamas’ response was to initiate violence in Jerusalem and to fire rockets at Jerusalem, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Tel Aviv and Beersheva, thus triggering jihad. Hamas’ hope is to come out of this episode with a shining reputation among Palestinians and Israeli Arabs, eclipsing the PLO and clearly to be recognized as the frontline jihadi defender of Jerusalem and the real leader of the Palestinian people worldwide. To state it clearly – this war is not the result of previous events in Sheikh Jarrah or on the Temple Mount/al Aqsa; it is Hamas’ power play to seize the reigns of Palestinian jihad, and to crush the existence of Israel, the Jewish state – which according to Islamist perspective has no right to exist and must be vanquished by the armies of Muhammad.
How should we then pray?
- Pray for the defeat of Islamist terror forces (see 2 Kings 6:8-14)
- Pray for protection for Israel’s citizens still facing jihadi terror rocket attacks
- Pray for minimal injuries and loss of life for Gazan civilians trapped under Hamas’ iron hand
- Pray for strategic and political wisdom for Israel’s leadership in every area
- Pray for the raising up of the Ezekiel 37 prophetic army among the Jewish people
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.
In Messiah Yeshua,
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