European imperialism in the Middle East was preceded by Islamist imperialism. The Jewish state is the only indigenous fragment that survived the onslaught of Islamic imperialism
In his recent anti-Semitic rant, PLO leader Mahmoud Abbas repeated the lie that Israel is a “colonial project”. This is part and parcel of a long Muslim Arab tradition to wipe out the Middle East’s indigenous pre-Islamic civilizations.
Imagine if mainstream voices in the 21st century demanded that all non-German Europeans ”integrate into proper Europe” by embracing German culture, language, identity and the Lutheran religion. In a post-Second World War Europe, it would be rightly considered unacceptable supremacist racism. By contrast, many “liberal” Jew-haters demand that Israel “integrates into the proper Middle East” in the name of “peace” by letting itself be swallowed up by the surrounding Muslim Arab world.
In an era of Western post-colonial guilt, the Middle East is often presented as a hapless victim of former European imperialism. This myth was successfully promoted by the late Arabist Edward Said and his influential propaganda book “Orientalism”, which was enthusiastically embraced by numerous Middle East departments at Western university campuses.
It is a frequently ignored fact that former European imperialism in the Middle East was preceded by Islamist imperialism. In his book Islamic Imperialism: A history, professor Efraim Karsh, documents the long and violent history of Islamic imperialism. At its height, Islamist imperialism carved out a giant Muslim empire stretching from Spain in the West to India in the East. This once mighty empire eventually fragmented and the last Muslim empire collapsed with the end of Ottoman rule in 1917.
However, Islamist imperialism largely succeeded in wiping out pre-Islamic indigenous civilizations by imposing Islam and Arabic as the new norm across the Middle East and North Africa. The Jews were one of the few indigenous nations that managed to survive Islamic imperialism and maintain a separate identity and culture.
For centuries, Jews were the ultimate “other” in a predominantly Christian Europe. Today, the reborn Jewish state is the ultimate “other” in a predominantly Muslim Arab Middle East. Persians, Turks, Kurds and Berbers have largely embraced Islam but maintain separate cultural and linguistic identities from the surrounding Arab majority.
Ancient Christian and Zoroastrian communities are oppressed and threatened under Islamic rule. Israel stands out as the only remaining independent non-Arab and non-Muslim state in the wider Middle East region.
Anti-Jewish history revisionists often claim that Israel is a “foreign body” in a “Muslim Arab” region. In reality, the reborn Jewish state is the only remaining viable and indigenous fragment that survived the onslaught of Islamic imperialism.
Most of Israel’s enemies eventually realized that the Jewish state could not be defeated in the military battlefield. Israel’s military superiority has only grown since the so-called Arab Spring left most of its foes’ military forces in ruins.
Israel’s enemies however, have exploited the Jewish state’s numerical inferiority by demanding that it commit national suicide by assimilating into the region’s Muslim Arab majority.
After failing to destroy Israel through terrorism, PLO eventually tried to impress gullible Western liberals by advocating the replacement of Israel with a “democratic” PLO state for Muslims, Christians and Jews. In a New York Times op-ed some years ago, the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi even promoted the destruction of Israel by replacing the Jewish state with a Muslim Arab majority “utopia” called “Isratine”.
To Islamist and Arab supremacists, a tiny Jewish nation-state within any borders is considered unacceptable. Hebrew-speaking Jews are viewed as “colonialists” regardless of whether they reside in Judea or in Tel Aviv.
Many Western leftists, who officially claim to oppose imperialism, hypocritically support the racist notion that the Middle East is somehow an exclusive Muslim Arab domain. Ironically, the term “Middle East” is of Western origin and was introduced by the British in the 19th century.
The Muslim Arab world has successfully promoted itself as the “inheritor” of the region’s ancient and extinct civilizations like the Babylonians and the pharaonic Egyptians. PLO’s Arab leadership absurdly claims to be the descendants of the extinct Canaanites.
A vibrant and reborn Jewish state though, shatters the Muslim Arab world’s attempts to present itself as the “inheritor” of ancient Israel. The relentless demonization and delegimitization of Israel is part of the ongoing Islamic neo-imperialist ambition to wipe out the remaining traces of the region’s indigenous pre-Islamic and pre-Arab civilizations.
In his book “The New Middle East”, the late Israeli leader Shimon Peres optimistically envisioned a peaceful Middle East based on regional cooperation and integration akin to the European Union. This utopia ignored the harsh reality of chronic inter-Arab and Muslim violence. How can Israel “integrate” into a Muslim Arab world that cannot even live in peace with itself?
In reality, a “normal” Middle Eastern state equals a Muslim/Arab failed state and impoverished third world dictatorship that embraces ignorance and oppresses women and minorities.
Why would a successful first-world Jewish state emulate backward and failed societies? Would Western leftists themselves want to live in despotic societies that mistreat women, minorities and gays like Saudi Arabia and Iran? Would leftists rather live in thriving democracies like the US and Britain or in backward failed states like Syria, Iraq and Yemen?
In reality, Israel is the ultimate anti-imperialist state that successfully combines a proud ancient civilization with a thriving democracy and cutting-edge technologies.
Daniel Kryger is a writer and a political analyst. He lives in Israel.
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