More on the Middle East from Mark Durie

With so much sloppy thinking, we need his wisdom and clarity:

A leading authority on Islam and the situation in the Middle East is Rev. Dr. Mark Durie. He has recently penned an 8-part series on what we must know about Hamas and the current crisis in Israel. In a previous piece I quoted from the first five articles, and now I will offer more from the last three. See the earlier piece here:

His final three articles are now up, so it is worth sharing portions of each of these as well. I encourage you to read all eight pieces in their entirety, as well as the other articles on his site, and watch the podcasts, etc. And he has penned a number of excellent books as well on Islam that really are must reading as well.

Image of The Qur’an and Its Biblical Reflexes: Investigations into the Genesis of a Religion
The Qur’an and Its Biblical Reflexes: Investigations into the Genesis of a Religion by Durie, Mark (Author) Amazon logo

Here then are Parts 6-8:

Part 6 Is antisemitism part of the problem?

Hamas’s ideology has been nourished by Islamic anti-Jewish teachings. For example, its Charter quotes a saying attributed to Muhammad which states that in the end-times, even stones and trees will cry out. saying “O Slave of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him”. There are also many verses in the Qur’an which speak disparagingly of Jews and incite contempt for them, attributing base characteristics to them….

In addition to the rich vein of Islamic canonical sources which promote antisemitism, Hamas has also been influenced by the antisemitism of Christian nations. For example, the Hamas Charter speaks of Jews as controlling the world, its financial systems and the media. This idea is taken from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a hateful tract originally published in Russia.

In the Hamas Charter, such conspiracy theories are woven in with quranic stereotypes. For example the Hamas Charter transitions from saying that Jews rule the world to asserting that “There is no war going on anywhere without having their finger in it”. This echos the Qur’an: “We have cast enmity and hatred among them until the day of Resurrection. Whenever they light the fire of war, God extinguishes it. But they strive (to) foment corruption on the earth.” (Surah 5:54). Hamas, in its animosity to Israel, looks to the Qur’an to construct an image of Jews, and it also draws from the bitter wells of European antisemitism.

So are Hamas’ goals limited to Israel?

Antisemitism is part of the problem, but the problem doesn’t end with the Jews.

Hamas’ goals are broader than just Israel in two senses. One is that Hamas’ primary motivation is to establish an Islamic system in Palestine: the same goals the Taliban has for Afghanistan and ISIS had for Iraq and Syria.

At the same time, the ideology which drives Hamas will not be satisfied with the conquest of Israel, for Hamas keeps one eye on the caliphate. This is why, from time to time its preachers call for a day to come when Islam will “liberate” Rome, Europe and America….

What does ‘After Saturday comes Sunday’ mean?

There is another sense in which Hamas’ goals will not end with the Jews: a ‘Free, Free Palestine’ ruled by Hamas would result in great devastation for Palestinian Christians. ‘After Saturday comes Sunday’ is an Arabic saying, well known in the Middle East, which implies that Jews will be dealt with first, and Christians later. In reality whenever war breaks out in Islamic contexts, local (indigenous) Christians always suffer greatly (see Elizabeth’ Kendal’s book, which explains why).   

Part 7 What are the rules of war?

[The “laws of war”] are something known as “International Humanitarian Law” (IHL). The core of IHL is the Geneva Conventions, a set of rules for war negotiated after WWII. IHL attempts to achieve a balance between the necessity of defeating an opponent by winning the war on the one hand, and limiting needless suffering on the other. IHL is grounded in Western (i.e. Judaeo-Christian) understandings of the concept of a ‘just war’.

IHL rules rely on a fundamental distinction between civilians and combatants. They require that military action should always be directed against combatants, never against civilians; civilians should always refrain from fighting; and combatants should act in a way which minimizes harm to civilians, for example, by not using civilians as human shields, and when attacking military targets, doing this in a way which minimizes disproportionate civilian casualties.

IHL rules also stipulate that if a combatant is taken prisoner, he (or she) cannot be killed for being a combatant, but should be treated humanely, in a way which is consistent with rights determined by IHL.

Let’s consider an example. If Israel wishes to kill a Hamas military leader using an airstrike, it must first weigh up the likely impact on civilians, go about it in a way which minimizes the impact, and refrain from proceeding if civilian casualties will be disproportionate to the military advantage gained.

If one side is trying to follow IHL rules while the other side rejects these same rules, the side which rejects the rules will have an advantage in battle. It is much easier to defeat your enemy if you don’t have to count the civilian cost….

It is important to grasp that Hamas completely rejects the IHL framework. More than this, it knows how to exploit Israel’s commitment to follow such rules. But this does not mean Hamas is without rules: its commitment to Islam implies that it is bound to follow Islam’s rules of war, but these are completely different from IHL.

A key point of difference is that the principal distinction Islamic rules of war make is not between combatants and non-combatants, but between adult men on the one hand, and women and children on the other. In contrast to IHL rules, Islamic law allows any men – combatants or not – who are taken prisoner to be killed, and it considers enemy prisoners, whether men, women or children, to be slaves who can be bought and sold. (ISIS proudly did this with its prisoners in Iraq and Syria). Islamic law also allows the rape of captive females by their owners, and enslaved children can be kept and be brought up as Muslims. (A source of soldiers for Islam in Islamic history has been enslaved boys, taken captive, then forcibly converted, and raised to be fighters.)

Furthermore, Islamic military strategy has always approved of taking hostages and using them as bargaining chips: threatening to kill them, offering to swap them for the other sides’ captives, or exchanging them for ransom to fund the jihad. All of this is regulated by the sharia….

Of course Hamas is fully aware of the limitations imposed upon the IDF by its rules of engagement. Indeed Hamas leaders regard fighting by IHL rules as a sign of weakness. Add to this inequality the fact that the war with Hamas is not a struggle over land, but a struggle for survival against a genocidal foe. If Hamas laid down its weapons, it would usher in peace. If Israelis laid down their weapons, a great massacre of Jews would result….

In this light, the question to be asked about the battle for Gaza is not “Is this a proportionate deterrence?” but: “Is this the best and least costly path to victory?” or: “Is this war to achieve victory a proportionate response to Hamas’ credible threat of genocide?”

Part 8 Some concluding thoughts about the future.

When two armies face off against each other, there are claims and counter claims by each side, and the war of ideas can be waged as fiercely as the war of bullets. For those who are standing far off, it can be difficult to see past all the rhetoric, to discern what is really happening.

This morning I was listening to an Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) news report about Gaza. They were discussing a report that Hamas has placed its operations center under the basement of al-Shifa hospital, which is the largest medical facility in the Gaza strip. The reporter commented that if the IDF were to bomb the site, this would be a very great war crime. What he failed to point out – which revealed the ABC’s typical bias – was that placing a military operations center under a hospital is itself a war crime. What they also failed to point out is that, according to the laws of war, causing civilian casualties by attacking a military installation is not in itself a war crime, if the intent is to target the military target, and proportionality has been taken into account. In this horrendous scenario, to observe the laws of war, the IDF would have to weigh up the military advantage gained by taking out Hamas’ operations center against the impact on civilians. For example, they could compare how many civilian lives will be lost by taking out Hamas’s center now with how many lives could be lost if it is not taken out and the military conflict was prolonged….

Do Palestinians have legitimate grievances?

Yes, of course they do have grievances. Their situation is heart-breaking in many ways. And their grievances are not only against Israel: they have legitimate grievances against their own leaders, as well as against the surrounding Arab nations, who have deliberately and callously pushed them down a path of bloodshed and death.

Who should we feel compassion for in this conflict?

We should feel compassion for all sides. The Palestinians’ situation is appalling. As human beings they deserve much, much better than being used as human shields as the Muslim Umma’s proxies in a long fight to the death with Israel.

One must also feel deep compassion for the Israelis, who want to be left in peace. Despite many Jews having repeatedly expressed their willingness to work towards a two-state solution – from the 1930’s through to the Oslo Accords – those driven by hate keep insisting on their right to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.

Palestinian leaders have repeatedly made crystal clear that they will never accept a two-state solution. The Arabs opposed partition in the 1930’s, and they oppose it still. The truth is that Israel must defeat its enemies or be defeated….

What does Israel need to do now?

Sadly, it has to fight for its security. Hamas has slammed all other doors shut. Israel must win against Hamas. It must, yet again, discredit the old Qur’anic lie about Jews loving life too much to fight.

The battle ahead is not about achieving a ‘proportionate response’. This is not a tit-for-tat war, in which one side’s casualties justify or validate an equal number of deaths on the other side. That would be a morally repulsive idea. On Israel’s side this is a war for security and survival, while for Hamas, it is a war to eliminate Israel.

What can one do? I have written this series of posts to lay down what pieces of the Hamas jigsaw I have in my hands. In order to see the whole picture, we must reject lies, seek the truth and speak it out. We must also reject hate.

As a Christian I believe in the insistence of Genesis that we are all made in the image of God. Every human life is of value. The challenge for us living on this earth is to hold true to this principle – a principle that should motivate us to love others – while at the same time being willing to do the hard yards to know and speak the truth.

Thanks again Mark Durie.

[1914 words]

6 Replies to “More on the Middle East from Mark Durie”

  1. What absolutely astounds me is the people pretending to take the moral high ground by now calling for a ceasefire. Did these people call for a ceasefire while Hamas was relentlessly sending rockets into Israel?

    Of course Hamas does not abide by modern rules of war nor any normal ethics of any kind and we clearly know they would never honour a ceasefire anyway. Their ideology promotes all manner of injustice including rape and slavery as can clearly be seen in Africa, not just from the atrocities recently done in Israel.

    A ceasefire is what the civilised nation of Israel has been calling for from the start.

    The extent of evil influencing these anti-semites is simply mindblowing. May God open their eyes.

  2. Dear Bill,

    Just to let you know I attended your talk in Kelmscott WA last Sunday evening on Eugenics which was brilliant as usual. I wanted to introduce myself to you as a long time regular contributor to your website and offer my condolences on the loss of your dear wife but I got rather tired and had to leave early. This is because I too am bereaved. I lost my dear husband John of 68 years on the Feast day of the Most Holy Redeemer in the old Latin Rite Calendar which is on the 23rd of October. This was most appropriate that he should die on that day as he was an altar boy in Ireland until he left for England with his brother after his mother died when he was fifteen. Our dear Father in Heaven never lets us down does He?

    I also want to say we are indeed fortunate to have a priest like Father Pavol who knows what is going on in the world because he has seen it all before in his homeland.He will be offering the Mass for John on Friday.

  3. Can we agree to pray for the medical practitioners in this conflict? I say this as a retired nurse, and I have a sister who served in the armed forces and came under fire in Northern Ireland, so I know something of this through that family member. It is the sacred vocation of the medical practitioner, especially if you’re a practising Christian, to try and preserve human life once it has left the battlefield. It is an arduous struggle to hold back death, but somehow those brave men and women in such instances manage to do it. Sadly, they do not always succeed. But theirs is a story of faith too, and one which should be told.

  4. Mark Durie

    Note from 8:00 onwards – as to why Islam (as colonisers of Jewish land) believes Islam has the right to occupy Isreal.

    Refect as to why people like Muslim-Green, Mehreen Faruqi is so hostile towards people she accuses of being colonisers of Austrslia.

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