To understand what motivates Islamic Jihadists one should read first-hand accounts such as Brigitte Gabriel’s Because They Hate: A Survivor of Islamic Terror Warns America (New York: St. Martin’s Press, c. 2006), that give specificity to events in the Middle East. Born in Lebanon, when it was still a peaceful, prosperous, predominantly Christian country, she witnessed the chaos and destruction that followed the Islamic invasion of her homeland 40 years ago. Now living in the United States, she writes this book to warn Americans “that what happened to me and my country of birth could, terrifyingly, happen here in America” (p. 2). We Americans simply must know this: “The main objective in the radical Islamists’ strategy to dominate the world is the destruction of the United States. They know that if America, the keystone, falls, then the arch of Western civilization will collapse” (p. 169).
The only child of elderly, prosperous parents in southern Lebanon, Gabriel enjoyed, for a decade, an idyllic childhood, blessed with parties, religious holidays, good schools, and friendly neighbors. Things changed rapidly, however, as the nation’s “open door” immigration policies allowed thousands of Palestinians to enter the country. Following the successful establishment of the nation of Israel, growing numbers of Palestinians lived in PLO refugee camps in Jordan, from which they launched terrorist raids against Israel. Weary of their presence, Jordan’s King Hussein expelled the Palestinians in 1970. Subsequently, “Lebanon was the only one of twenty-two Arab countries that was willing to open its borders to a third wave of Palestinian refugees” (p. 18).
These refugees quickly sought to seize control of their host country. Gabriel’s home and village, located not far from the Israeli border, were reduced to rubble as Muslims routinely shelled it. “To a ten year old, all this—the civil war and the attack against us—was bewildering. Just as people asked ‘Why do they hate us?’ after 9/11, one evening I asked my father, ‘Why did they do this to us?’ He took a long breath and paused, deeply concerned about what he was about to say. ‘The Muslims bombed us because we are Christians. They want us dead because they hate us’” (p. 33). To Americans mystified by the terrorists’ attacks on 9/11, and by the Muslims’ rejoicing thereafter, she says: “There is a three-word answer that is both simple and complex: because they hate. They hate our way of life. They hate our freedom. They hate our democracy. They hate the practice of every religion but their own. They don’t just disagree. They hate” (p. 145).
In 1982 Israeli troops occupied southern Lebanon and brought blessed peace to Gabriel’s region—a military action bringing what Europe experienced when the Nazis were defeated in 1945. Protected by Israeli soldiers, she and her neighbors moved about freely and rebuilt their lives. When her mother became seriously ill, Jewish military medical personnel took her to a hospital in Israel, where she received first-class treatment. In that hospital a lifetime of anti-Jewish prejudice drained away from Gabriel. The Israelis were even treating Islamic terrorists! “I realized at that moment,” she says, “that I had been sold a fabricated lie by my government and culture about the Jews and Israel that was far from reality. I knew for a fact, as someone raised in the Arab world, that if I had been a Jew in an Arab hospital, I would have been lynched and then thrown to the ground, and joyous shouts of ‘Allahu Akbar’ would have echoed through the hospital and the surrounding streets” (p. 79).
In that Jewish hospital, Gabriel volunteered to serve as a translator. This led in time to a job with a Jerusalem television station, where she worked for six years. There the contrast between Judaism and Islam was striking. On the Jewish side, “you see order, structure, cleanliness, and beautiful flowers planted everywhere” (p. 103). A block away, in the Muslim section, dirt and disorder prevail. The “clash of civilizations” shines forth every day in Jerusalem. And at work, helping prepare daily newscasts, the clash seemed overwhelmingly clear, and she “began to realize that the Arab Muslim world, because of its religion and culture, is a natural threat to civilized people of the world, particularly Western Civilization” (p. 105). Working as a journalist, Gabriel saw the astoundingly favorable treatment Western media gave homicidal thugs like Yasser Arafat. Ever portraying the PLO in positive ways—and Israelis as villains—American journalists greatly helped the jihadists. “Unable to defeat Western military superiority, our enemy depends on negative themes throughout the media to create disunity, opening schisms on the home front in our communities, on our campuses, and in our government” (p. 111). Noting that “General Bui Tin, who served on the general staff of North Vietnam’s army, was asked why America was defeated in Vietnam. He said: ‘America lost because of its democracy; through dissent and protest it lost the ability to mobilize a will to win’” (p. 112). In our “fight against Islamo-fascism” these words should give us pause.
Living in Jerusalem, she watched foreign TV “journalists” who “blew in, blew around, and blew out. They came with their preconceived ideas, toed the network editorial policy line, and perpetuated,” albeit unconsciously, the “subtle Arab and PLO propaganda, which had reached them wherever they came from.” They loved to photograph “wailing Palestinians” and “kids throwing stones against border patrol soldiers firing tear gas and rubber bullets. Because I could speak the language and read the Arabic press and knew the nuances behind events, I sensed that reporters were being manipulated” (p. 119). Thus it was with a both amazement and anger Gabriel “watched the West fall further under the spell of anti-West, anti-Israeli propaganda, just as it did during its coverage of Lebanon, which portrayed the Palestinians and Islamo-fascists as the victims instead of the aggressors” (p. 119).
Gabriel is alarmed by this because she has carefully observed developments in the Middle East—and America’s response to them—since 1975. When, in the 1979 hostage crisis in Iran, President Jimmy Carter “alternately groveled and bungled, Ayatollah Khomeini exultingly proclaimed, ‘America cannot do a damn thing!’ This became a slogan and a battle cry throughout the Middle East” (p. 125). Though markedly different from Carter in many ways, President Ronald Reagan behaved similarly in Lebanon. When Hezbollah, subsidized and controlled by Iran, “blew up the marines in Lebanon in 1983, America turned tail and ran, leaving the Christians to be slaughtered in town after town. It sent a strong, loud, and clear message to the Muslim radicals of the world, including Osama bin Laden: America is no longer the power it used to be” (p. 125). That being so, Sudanese Muslims, in 1983, launched a genocidal “jihad to impose Islam on black African Christians and animists in the southern part of the country” (p. 125). Some two million innocent people were killed within a decade.
She further provides brief accounts of other Islamic aggressions since 1979. It’s a world-wide phenomenon with enormous implications. And it’s taking place within the United States as well. Radical Muslims, funded by Saudi Arabian petrodollars, are working hard to Islamize this country, though they present a benign face to the public. “Masquerading as a civil rights organization,” for example, CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations) “has had a hidden agenda to Islamize America from the start” (p. 138). Gabriel documents and laments the degree to which Saudi money and compliant professors have established influential footholds for radical Islam on many university campuses. To deal with this threat, at home and abroad, reading this book, with its many suggestions concerning what to do, is most helpful.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
An equally readable book, addressing the same issue and coming to basically the same conclusion, though from a markedly different perspective, is Nonie Darwish’s Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror (New York: Sentinel, c. 2006). Darwish was born into an elite Egyptian family, and her father was a highly placed officer in Gamal Abdel Nasser’s army, considered “one of the most brilliant analytical minds found in the Egyptian military” by an Israeli historian (p. 255). Unfortunately, he was assassinated by Israeli agents while stationed in Gaza in 1956. In death, however, he became a celebrated “shahid,” a martyr for Islam, a national hero. Subsequently, the family settled in Cairo, where Darwish received an excellent education in a Catholic girls’ school and then the American University in Cairo. She enjoyed the unique economic and social privileges of her class. But she was also fully immersed in the culture of Islam. From the radio, as well as the mosques, came “calls to war and songs praising President Nasser. Arab leaders were treated as gods and they acted as gods” (p. 33). The call for jihad was ubiquitous. “No Arab could avoid the culture of jihad. Jihad is not some esoteric concept. In the Arab world, the meaning of jihad is clear: It is a religious holy war against infidels, an armed struggle against anyone who is not a Muslim” (p. 33).
Yet she found herself inwardly torn by some of the incongruities of her world, especially when dealing with “marriage and family dynamics.” She managed to avoid the arranged marriages expected of Muslim women. And she observed that “at the heart of Islamic fundamentalism lies the most precious and important object, the woman. She is the source of pride or shame to the Muslim man who rules and is ruled by the most despotic, tyrannical, and humiliating forms of governments on earth” (p. 66). Muslim men’s “honor is totally dependent on their female blood relatives” (p. 66). Personal honor and integrity are not particularly important. It’s their women that establish their “honor”!
Darwish also struggled with the reality of polygamy and its power in Islamic culture. Married women ever fear that their husbands will take a second wife—often secret liaisons divulged only at the man’s death, when his estate must be divided among all his wives. Muslim women, consequently, distrust both their husbands and any single women who might attract them. Then there is the “temporary marriage,” also known as “pleasure marriage,” empowering men to have one-night stands, “usually in exchange for money (calling it a dowry), and still feel that it is acceptable in the eyes of God” (p. 68). Men may easily divorce their wives, whereas women must beg (often unsuccessfully) for a dissolution of a dysfunctional union. Consequently, Darwish found “very few happy marriages around me” (p. 79). As a single woman Darwish worked for several years at the English desk of the Middle East News Agency. This gave her a unique perspective on the world and also occasionally allowed her to travel abroad. She became aware of a world quite different from that described by the Egyptian media. She also made friends with Copts—Christian Egyptians who had suffered for centuries. In fact she fell in love with and married a Coptic man, with whom she immigrated to the United States in 1978.
Landing in Los Angeles, she acknowledges that she “loved America even before seeing it” (p. 113). She found Americans friendly and helpful, courteous, hard-working, generous and honest—virtues largely absent in Egypt. She worked for a Jewish businessman and found that most everything she had heard about Jews in Egypt was wrong. “I asked myself, Why the hate? What purpose does it serve? What are Arabs afraid of?” Indeed, she concluded: “The Arab-Israel conflict is not a crisis over land, but a crisis of hate, lack of compassion, ingratitude, and insecurity” (p. 126). American women differed from the women she’d grown up around. They were supportive of each other, complimenting and helping in various ways. “Moving to America,” she says, in a memorable passage, “was like being catapulted to another time in history. America for me was not just a place for making money, having a job, a house, and car, it was a place for becoming a human being” (p. 130).
Part of that process was religious. Though she remained a Muslim she hungered for an authentically personal relationship with God. “The truth is that most Muslims are a part of ‘political Islam’ rather than a religion and a personal relationship with God” (p. 136). Islam, for her (and most Muslims) is a matter of birth and politics. Mosques are mainly for men, whom women are expected to obey. To her dismay, she found “that rabid anti-American feeling is rampant in the majority of U.S. mosques, where Muslims are encouraged to stand out as mujahadeen in America” (p. 140). Using America’s democratic processes, these Muslims seek to ultimately control the nation. Knowing the history of Islam, Darwish says: “The current onslaught against our society is nothing new. Conquering the world for Islam has been going on since the seventh century using pretty much the same tactics” (p. 144).
In time, Darwish had to reject her family’s religion. One Sunday morning she was watching a Christian preacher on TV, who was expounding the love chapter in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. She heard about “the love of God I was desperate for but was unable to find in my culture of origin” (p. 160). Her daughter came in and announced that the TV preacher pastored the church that sponsored the Christian school she attended. So Darwish determined to visit the church the following Sunday. She did and heard “a message of compassion, love, acceptance, tolerance, and prayer for all of humanity” (p. 159). This message was differed radically from the hate-filled diatribes, urging Muslims to “destroy the infidels,” propounded by most Muslim preachers. At that moment, sitting for the first time in that Christian church, this Muslim woman “was faced with a challenge, nothing less than the choice between love and hate” (p. 159). She made a decision, and it made a difference. Evaluating this, she writes: “Many immigrants come to this great nation in search of material gain, which is fine; however, the biggest prize I gained was my religious freedom and learning to love. For me it was nothing short of cataclysmic. I had turned from a culture of hatred to one of love” (p. 161). Though still apparently a Muslim, her God is not a jihadist!
Her new perspective provides readers a lens with which to evaluate developments in the Middle East. When she made a brief trip to Egypt (arriving home in L.A. the night before the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2002, she saw again the deadening hand of Islam upon her land. She heard again the lies about the Jews. She sensed the irrational anti-Americanism promoted by the media, including the only U.S. media outlet available to Egyptians, CNN! “To my surprise,” she says, CNN contributed to Arab hatred and suspicion of America by regularly criticizing America and President Bush” (p. 175). She noted the pernicious impact of money from Saudi Arabia, funding radical jihadists. And she sorrowed at the injurious impact of Islam upon the nation’s women, including many in her own family.
Mystified at the silence of allegedly “moderate” Muslims who failed to denounce the jihadists, Darwish began writing and speaking, trying to inform America about the threat of radical Islam. “In the Arab world,” she insists, “there is only one meaning for jihad, and that is: a religious holy war against infidels” (p. 201). That’s what we now face everywhere. Portraying Islam as a peaceful religion “can only bring disaster between the two worlds” (p. 202). She especially critiques America’s universities, where the Muslims are afforded unusual support and easily propagandize naïve students. “The war of words and propaganda,” she warns, “could be as vital as the actual military war” (p. 211). The message she declares is clear. “After 9/11, my fellow Americans should never be in the dark again. They must understand the brutality and persistence of their enemy” (p. 212). Radical Muslims intend to conquer the world “and to usher in a Caliphate—that is, a supreme totalitarian Islamic government” (p. 212). They will do anything possible to accomplish this goal. “they are willing to bring about an Armageddon to conquer the world to Islam. We are already in world War III and many people in the West are still in denial” (p. 212).
She hopes that reading Now They Call Me Infidel will shake some of us out of such denial!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
An immigrant from India, Dinesh D’Souza, gives us his analysis of the Middle East crisis in The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11 (New York: Doubleday, c. 2007). Unlike Brigette Gabriel, who lived amongst Muslims, D’Souza takes a more genial view of Islam, trying to see things as Muslims see them, arguing that radical Muslims are a small minority within an overwhelmingly moderate (though deeply religious) culture. Too many of these moderates, however, share the anti-American animus of the radicals. But what they actually hate, D’Souza insists, is the America represented by the cultural left in this country. Furthermore, he argues, the cultural left hates not America herself but the conservative America personified by George Bush.
Muslims hate us not (as President Clinton once averred) because of the Christian Crusades, which were hardly noticed until recently by Muslim historians, who now find them useful for propaganda. Nor is it because of oil and multinational corporations. In fact, most Muslims welcome foreign investment and technological developments. Moderate Muslims are, however, deeply offended by the America personified by this country’s cultural left—especially in Hollywood, the universities, and the media. As the left promotes its world-wide agenda, devout Muslims feel their religion is under attack. D’Souza sees authentic hate for America not so much in Muslims but in cultural leftists who hate conservative America.
Consequently, the “cultural left is unwilling to fight a serious and sustained battle against Islamic radicalism and fundamentalism because it is fighting a more threatening political battle against American conservatism and American fundamentalism” (p. 10). Defeat of the American military in Iraq is preferable to victory in any arena for George Bush. Amazingly, “the left seeks America’s most devastating foreign policy defeat, surpassing even America’s loss in the Vietnam War” (p. 192) because it hates George Bush and James Dobson! The cultural left hates anything that threatens their antinomian, nihilistic, individual, libertine autonomy. Thus they defend virtually all forms of vulgarity, immodesty, indecency, pornography, same-sex marriage, abortion, etc. Their position is visibly evident at noisy demonstrations where “banners and placards say ‘Save Roe v. Wade’ on one side and ‘Impeach Bush’on the other” (p. 191).
For example, Harvard University’s Henry Louis Gates, the chairman of the Black Studies Department, finds great value in the “so-called obscenity” rap lyrics of 2 Live Crew, comparing them to Shakespeare! Martha Nussbaum, an influential liberal philosopher, celebrates promiscuous theatrical productions, commending to her readers the example of “the Athenian thinker Crates and his lover, Hipparchia, who ‘copulated in public and went off together to dinner parties.’ For Nussbaum this couple demonstrates ‘the life of the cosmopolitan’ at its best’” (p. 124). That Al Gore can praise, and the Academy Awards showcase, a lesbian such as Ellen DeGeneres simply documents the moral rot at the heart of this nation. Such liberals—represented by Michael Moore, Al Franken, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Jane Fonda, et al.—have done everything possible to oppose President Bush’s war on terror. They are more committed to the “war against the war” that “is being waged by the left with mainstream liberal encouragement” (p. 234). These are the people Osama bin Laden regularly cites in his videotaped statements. “To see how bizarre this is, imagine if Hitler had issued regular missives during World War II in which he praised a group of Americans and cited from their writings” (p. 214). Jihadists like bin Laden, following the lead of Vietnamese Communists, have effectively developed a “media strategy” to discredit America, and they have been enormously assisted by American leftists.
These leftists must be intellectually defeated here at home, D’Souza believes, before the war on terror can be won around the world.
# # #
For anyone interested in historical data—both documents and excerpts from respected historians—demonstrating the validity of the books I’ve reviewed, perusing 725 pages of The Legacy of Jihad: Islamic Holy War and the Fate of Non-Muslims, edited by Andrew G. Bostom (New York: Prometheus Books, c. 2005) will prove persuasive. “Bostom has provided an invaluable service,” writes a noted scholar, Bat Ye’or, “an invaluable service to both scholars and lay audiences with the comprehensive analysis of jihad.” His “exhaustive research,” she continues, “is of paramount importance for an understanding of both the history and the contemporary resurgence of jihad, in all its manifestations, including the current cultural jihad subverting Western universities.”