Editor’s Note: This is a worthy article written about eight years ago by a university professor who understood Islam too well
Moshe Sharon is an Arabic studies researcher. He is a professor of the
Oriental studies department of the Jewish University in Jerusalem
- When I asked my student, Armi Abu, who is in our chair, and by the
way, a nephew of Arafat: “What kind of peace do you want?”, he
promptly answered: “What kind of peace do you mean? What we mean is a
temporary cease-fire”. This is the logical misunderstanding of the
Oslo agreements and what these agreements mean at all. The Arab
terminology differs greatly from what Europeans mean, – the professor
The Arab language has many nuances. To understand an Arab phrase one
has to understand the context and follow the intonation. Not
everything you hear should be accepted as real. Most of our Israeli
politicians are completely ignorant of understanding the outlook of
our enemies, especially Palestinians. If the country’s policy is based
on ignorance then it is worth nothing. This is the exact image of
Israeli policy towards Palestinians now.
With this shocking monologue by professor Moshe Sharon our
- Is it true that Muslims really want to rule the whole world? Isn’t
it a terrifying prospect?
- Unless we understand the culture of Muslims and how their outlook
differs from ours, this idea itself will seem incredible. But we have
to know – this is the basis of Islam. Both secular Arabs and Muslims,
who are fundamentalists, pursue the same purposes which have the same
roots called Islam.
The laws of Islam are built on two inviolable principles. They are
Koran and “precedents”. The word “precedents” means the life and
doings of Mohammed. Whatever Mohammed did is the rule for Muslims to
follow. He, according to Islam, was faultless. That is why all
generations follow the laws of Islam (sharia – in Arabic), which are
based on two sources. On the one hand, it is Koran, on the other hand,
it is Sunah, that is commentaries, which explain Koran’s directives.
The laws of Islam are the corner stones of civil, government and
criminal codes. They are also the corner stones of Arab outlook, laws
of Arab countries, as well as of laws on peace and war.
- Nevertheless, Israeli politicians think that Koran and Sunah are not
the today’s reality.
- This is a mistake. Moreover, it is the mistake that gave ungrounded
roots for the idea “to build a new Middle East…” We, Jews, are
discussing this idea between ourselves. Our idea of “a new Middle
East” is a fruit, say, product of our imagination. It is torn off from
reality and does not take into account the environment we live in.
Shimon Peres wrote the book called “New Middle East”, in which he
solely believes in his “message to descendants”. The book made a
different impression on the Arab World. Some see in it another proof
of Jew’s vicious intention to spread their ruling over the whole Arab
world. The reaction towards the book was not adequate. Some say that,
having heard about the book, President of Egypt Mubarak asked: “What
shall we do with the old Middle East? Why don’t Jews like it?” There
is some kind of jealousy in this question.
- Still, the Muslims are realists. They don’t try to seize what they
are not able to now.
- Nevertheless that does not mean that they shouldn’t fight. On the
contrary, Muslims should wage wars until Islam conquers the whole
world. Here I want to stress that Arabs do not intend to convert all
people into fanatic Muslims who are praying towards Mecca 5 times a
day. There is no missionary in Islam. Their aim is to put the whole
world under Islam and to recognize its superiority. They divide the
world into two parts – the “house of war” and the “house of Islam“.
The contemporary Muslim world is “the house of Islam”. They call the
part, which they try to conquer, “the house of war”.
Any territory, which in some historical period was under Muslims, is
considered a Muslim land forever. Therefore, creation of State of
Israel on the territory that once belonged to Muslims was a historic
revolution for them. Muslims cannot accept this fact in principle.
Nevertheless, they are still realistic politicians… They do not
hurry. They are waiting. Their actions depend on the situation, on the
difference of their military might and that of the enemy.
- Is there a slightest hope to conclude peace with Arabs?
- Not in the least. The long hand of Ishmael (ancestor of all Arabs)
knows no other state than that of permanent war. This is jihad, the
sacred war of Muslims against “infidels“. Jihad is a duty established
- Still, there are cases when jihad was stopped, say, by Egypt when we
concluded a peace treaty with it in Camp David.
- I regret to say but many people in Israel do not understand what
such treaties are worth of. Islam does not envisage in principle any
peace treaty with “infidels”. Real treaties are possible only between
Muslims. The principle of commanded war is always in force and waits
for the time and real chance to be realized.
Even Anvar Sadat who put his signature under the “peace treaty” knew
that he was signing only a temporary cease-fire agreement. But Sadat
made a sin and broke the commandment when he publicly announced,
“There will be no war any more. No bloodshed”, – and paid his life for
- Tell me then what is the reason for Arabs to conclude temporary
- The situation in the world insistently demands contacts with
“infidels”. Under “infidels’” pressure Arabs have to take some
obligations. Europeans are expecting real peace. But the peace offered
to them by Arabs has a short life.
- How do we know that Muslims will, by all means, break the treaty,
which they have signed themselves?
- It is said in “the precedent” established by Mohammed.
In 628 he signed a treaty with the Kureisha tribe known as the
“khadivia treaty”. At that time Kureisha warriors were stronger than
his. The treaty was for 10 years. But not even two years passed and
Mohammed unleashed the war and seized Mecca. Kureisha people did
believe in the oath and mutual obligations and felt themselves secure.
However, the temporary cease-fire agreement had also additional
purpose, that is to lullaby the enemy’s vigilance.
When Mohammed struck and began to advance, the citizens of Mecca
crawled to him on their knees. They pleaded for negotiations to
resolve contradictions that made Mohammed to renew the war. But
Mohammed ordered his security not to let the delegation of respectable
people of Mecca come in. Mohammed spent two years of truce for
preparing for a new war because he knew that the war was inevitable.
He knew about it when he was singing the peace treaty. He violated the
treaty at the suitable for him moment. This is how the notion of gudna
(cease-fire between enemies) was established in Islam. Muslims never
sign armistice for a long and indefinite period of time. One of the
main rules for them is to set the validity period of such an
agreement. When Muslims feel that they are strong enough to resume the
war, they should cancel the armistice. If they feel not strong enough
to resume the war, they are allowed to automatically prolong the
validity period of the treaty for 10 years, and not necessarily to
negotiate with the opposite party about it.
- As I remember, Arafat spoke about the possibility of building a
secular Palestinian state.
- His words mean nothing. Immediately after singing the agreement in
Oslo he made a speech in the Johannesburg mosque (South Africa), in
which he outlined his political intentions. He said that he
understands peace as Islam means it. Then he resorted to the lessons
from Arab history. We have to know that when an Arab leader resorts to
history he means the present principles and situation because there is
no such notion as “ancient” in Islam. Islam is a culture of life, the
present way of life. Islam is the past that becomes the present and
shows the way to the future.
Arafat publicly said that in Oslo he meant a temporary cease-fire
(gudna). When he was saying this he knew he would be understood in the
right way. Unfortunately, few people paid a serious attention to these
words. They were addressed to those who knew “the course of events”.
My friends and I tried to persuade others that Arafat’s words were a
code and we had to understand the clandestine meaning of his speech.
However, Israeli leaders didn’t want to listen to our advice. Jews
were dreaming about peace at that time through the prophecy of
Yeshayagu: “and swords will be beaten into ploughshares”.
By the way, they’re some interesting facts about the treaty with
Egypt. After it had been signed, a festive party was organized and
President Carter made a public speech. In his speech he decided to use
quotations about peace from books of the three religions. It was not
difficult to find quotations on peace in Tanakha and he took those
that could sound Christian. However, the President’s advisers could
not find an appeal to peace in Koran. The thing is that there are no
peace appeals in Koran.
- So, does it mean that Arabs’ peace assurances are a thumping lie?
- There is an Arab proverb: “Words are tax free”. We have to learn to
negotiate from Palestinians. They follow the example of a Muslim
caliph Ali who negotiated with the rebelled ruler of Damascus when
each side was not able to gain victory…The caliph’s representative
suggested that the enemy should speak first. He wanted to know the
enemy’s plans before making his own decision. The enemy spoke first
and step-by-step disclosed everything he had in mind. The caliph’s
representative was listening attentively and assenting to him
occasionally. After the meeting was over, the Damascus representative
in his summarizing speech said that the caliph’s representative agreed
that Damascus should receive independence. His opponent stopped him
and said, “I have never agreed to this”.
This classic example should teach us not to make proposals. We have to
make the opponent disclose his position. When the opponent knows what
your interests are, their costs immediately go up. When Begin started
negotiating I told him, “Do not come out with proposals. Let them
speak out.” But even Begin was not ready to understand and accept
this. There were negotiations with Palestinians in 1996. Peres was
negotiating with Arafat. Peres was very pleased with the talks and
said after the meeting, ” They agree with all Israeli proposals. To
each proposal they were approvingly nodding their heads”. Exactly like
caliph Ali’s representative did…
- Tell me, do Arabs mean real war when they speak about jihad?
- Those who support Muslims try to represent this notion like it looks
in the West. They say it is a “struggle” for Muslims’ interests. It is
not true. This is a bloody war to the final victory until the enemy
surrenders to Islam.
Traditional Muslim books say that Islam will take over the world but
only after Muslims defeat and destroy Jews. These books also say that
Jews will hide themselves behind trees and rocks. But the time comes
and one “great day” the rocks and trees will start shouting: ” Hey,
Muslim, there is a Jew behind me! Come and kill him!” Only one tree
will keep silence. In Islamic it is called “el oseg” (the tree of
Jews). I mean the tree of sne (a bush from which God appeared before
Moshe). This tree is mentioned in Muslim books for Muslims not to
forget to look for Jews even behind this tree. These books are studied
in all Arab schools, and political leaders make quotations from them
in their speeches.
- What do we have to do then?
- Our task is to make Arabs disarm and sign a cease-fire treaty for a
- How can we achieve this if any treaty for Arabs is rather
- There should be a reason for Islam to abandon the idea of war. The
reason can be our military supremacy over them.
For example, in 1229, Sultan El Melek El Kamal from Egypt handed
Jerusalem, which had been under Muslims since the rule of Saladin,
over to the Christian king Fredrik the Great, because the latter made
the whole world fear him…
Israel’s policy is weak and, thus, leaves no choice for Palestinians.
Under this condition they simply must fight with us. Until now they
have no military might to oppose Israel, that’s why they try to weaken
the Jewish state.
If we become much stronger than them, they will have to postpone jihad
again and again. They should feel our might; they should feel they
can’t defeat us. Only then they will disarm even if the terms are not
favourable for them.
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