The issue of Palestine is central to the Islamic movement. Obviously, the occupation of Islam’s third holy city by the greatest enemies of Islam and the greatest powers of kufr that history has ever known is a situation that Muslims can never accept. But the experience of opposing that occupation is proving a severe testing-ground for the Ummah.
Over the last eight months of the al-Aqsa Intifada, the commitment and sacrifice of Palestine’s Muslims has transformed the Palestinian struggle. During the previous decade, Yasser Arafat’s PLO had followed the path of the American-designed ‘peace process’, promising statehood in return for the recognition of Israel. The Islamic movements in Palestine always rejected the formula but were reluctant to confront the Palestinian Authority (PA) directly. The zionists’ manipulations and duplicities became clear long ago, and the current intifada is the inevitable outcome. While the approach was failing, however, there were apparent gains for the Palestinians: the partial infrastructure of statehood, for example. When the intifada erupted, Arafat appeared to stand against the zionists and commit these institutions to the uprising. This, and the role of the Fath movement, linked to the PA, gave Arafat a degree of credit to offset his many failures in recent years.
This credit has, however, been completely blown away by his actions in recent weeks, including his secret dealings with the Israeli government, his attempts to disband the Fath and other militias that have been vital to the intifada, his instructions to his security forces to co-operate with Israeli troops in suppressing the uprising and, most of all, his crackdown on Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Islamic movements driving the intifada. If anyone ever doubted the degree of Arafat’s subservience to the zionists and the West, there can be no doubt now.
Arafat’s behaviour stands in sharp contrast with the leadership being shown by the Islamic movement, inside and outside Palestine. The Conference on the Intifada convened by Islamic Iran last month stated the position and approach that Muslims must take so clearly that no-one could possibly misunderstand. The tone was set by Ayatullah Sayyid Ali Khamenei, the Rahber of the Islamic State and de facto leader of the global Islamic movement, with his crystal-clear articulation of the illegitimacy of Israel and the inevitability of its destruction.
The leaders of Palestine’s Islamic groups, Khalid Misha’al of Hamas and Abdullah Ramadan Shallah of Islamic Jihad in particular, were equally clear on the position that all Muslims must now take. Misha’al was particularly forthright, demanding that Muslim governments arm the Palestinians, or — failing that — at least “turn a blind eye” to Islamic movements that are willing to help the Palestinians. Shaikh Sayid Hassan Nasrullah of the Lebanese Hizbullah, whose forces dealt the Israelis a humiliating defeat early last year, also confirmed Hizbullah’s determination to maintain its jihad against the zionists.
It is now impossible for any Muslim, Muslim group or Muslim state to maintain that there is any alternative to jihad in Palestine. Arafat is not alone in having been exposed, of course. Also stripped of all pretensions are the Arab leaders. The roles of Egypt’s president Husni Mubarak and Jordan’s king Abdullah II were highlighted by their initiative to re-launch the ‘peace process’ last month, which the Israelis dismissed contemptuously. But other Muslim countries are equally culpable; the contrast between the conference in Tehran and the earlier summit meeting of the Arab League could hardly have been greater.
Also present at the Tehran conference were Qazi Hussain Ahmed, amir of the Jama’at-e Islami of Pakistan, and leaders of the Ikhwan al-Muslimeen. These are Islamic movements that have tried to hedge their bets: to maintain a firm stance on Palestine while continuing to have dealings with the Muslim states that have so totally betrayed the Palestinians. The situation no longer permits such a dual stance: all Muslims must demand that Muslim states help the Palestinians unreservedly, and explicitly recognise as enemies of Islam those states and Muslims that fail to do so, or that continue to support the US-Zionist plan for Palestine.
The al-Aqsa Intifada has made clear who the leaders of the Islamic movement are, and who the misleaders are whose false paths have caused so much trouble for Muslims and been of such great service to our enemies. The time for politics is over; the time for action is here.