July 20, 2014

The 21st Century And The Return Of Religious War

by Hal Gershowitz

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 The so-called “dark ages,” that very gloomy and seemingly endless period punctuated by a series of grotesque religious wars, represents a particular blight, a plague of sorts, on mankind’s’ imprint on history.

Well, welcome back to the dark ages. Perhaps, we never left.

Religious war is alive and well, and upon us with renewed fury.  Not since the papal representative at the battle of Beziers (a city equally inhabited by Cathars and Roman Catholics) ordered the Pope’s army that had come to fight the breakaway Cathars, to “Kill them all; God will know his own,” has the religious impetus to bloodshed been more evident.

The Thirty Years’ (religious) War of the 16th century was an abomination, the carnage of which was only matched by the First and Second World Wars. The bloody fighting that only recently ended in Ireland after hundreds of years was, of course, an extension of European religious wars.

The very bloody conflict in Bosnia at the turn of the 20th to 21st century was but a dust-up between Christians and Muslims.

But for the effectiveness of Israel’s Iron Dome defense system the unprovoked Hamas barrage of over 1000 rockets fired at Israel’s population centers this month could have been a modern-day version of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of 1572 which claimed the lives of an estimated 30,000 men, women and children.

The war in Gaza, which many incorrectly view as a new chapter in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, is in fact, an old chapter in radical Islam’s war with the West and within its own body politic.  The current conflict in Gaza only obliquely involves Palestine.  Indeed, even Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, had condemned the rocket attacks against Israeli civilian centers (before he condemned the current Israeli counter offensive).

The insane Hamas orgy of rocket fire into Israel however has little to do with Palestine or the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.  It has everything to do with radical Islam’s conflict with the rest of the world. Hamas has been unambiguous is describing its mission: All of the land in the Middle East from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordon River is a sacred, indivisible “Waqf” (religious trust) that belongs to all Muslims everywhere. The defense and liberation of every part of the land is therefore obligatory upon all Muslims. Palestine itself is but a footnote.  In fact, all land ever conquered by Islam is consider rightfully Islamic in perpetuity regardless of who currently occupies the land.

The grotesquerie playing out in Iraq and Syria between the new Caliphate into which ISIS (Islam in Syria and Iraq) has morphed is nothing but a religious war between the two dominant branches of Islam, Sunni and Shite.  Upon taking over the Iraqi city of Mosul, ISIS sent letters to all Christians demanding conversion to Islam or eviction. Those who remained, were told they, “would be put to the sword.” The YouTube videos of ISIS-conducted beheadings and shooting by firing squads suggests they are deadly serious.

The utter madness of the Hamas rocket attack on Israel can only be understood in the context of a 20th Century religious war. The seemingly irrational barrage from Hamas is, as it turns out, perhaps not as irrational as it seems. Nothing is irrational in religious war other than the war itself.  Former President Bill Clinton summed up the seemingly irrational Hamas strategy quite well. When asked about Hamas’s unrelenting rocket bombardment of Israel, Clinton observed, “Hamas was perfectly well aware what would happen if they started raining rockets on Israel. They fired a thousand of them, and they have a strategy designed to force Israel to kill their own civilians so that the rest of the world will condemn (Israel).”

And the strategy, it seems, is not as irrational as rational people might assume.  Protests, utterly absent during the Hamas attack on Israel, have erupted all over the world since Israel began to defend itself.  The hypocrisy within the Middle East has been staggering.  Turkey’s Erdogan lambasted the UN for pursuing a secret agenda, a veiled reference to the Hamas Charter in which they state that the UN is the creation of the Jews to further their secret agenda to take over the world.  “What is the UN doing?” he asked in a speech this week. ”Why has it been founded? For world peace? Does it contribute to the world peace? No. They are serving whatever their secret agenda is.”

What is happening today in the Middle East is historic in that history will, before long, recognize this period as a renewed era of religious war.  It is not apt to be short lived, nor is it apt to be confined to the Middle East.




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