Fast-moving events are transfixing Israel this week. The bodies of three Jewish teenagers murdered by their Hamas kidnappers were discovered. Jihadi rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip have been smashing into Israeli kibbutzim and towns even as we go to press. Saudi Arabia announced that it has moved 30,000 soldiers to its border with Iraq, concerned about the jihadi onslaught rolling like thunder across Mesopotamian fields.
We are entering another season of ‘Bein hameitzarim’ (the period of the “Dire Straits’).
Hamas, The Muslim Brotherhood and Western pipe-dreams
The kidnapping of three Jewish teens nearly three weeks ago was carried out by a Hebron cell of Hamas terrorists, including Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisha. The Qawasmeh clan name has been connected for decades to Hamas-linked terror activities in the Hebron area.
The Hamas Hebron cell cleaves to the Hamas Charter, which allows for no acceptance of Israel, but rather its total annihilation by violent jihad. Hamas is an Arabic acronym (HaMaS) for Harakat al-Muqawima al-Islamiyya, which means ‘The Islamic Resistance Movement.’
The Hamas Charter is copied from that of the Muslim Brotherhood – or Society of Muslim Brothers (Jama’at al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin). “The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers (al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin) …the largest Islamic Movement in the modern era” (Hamas Charter, Article Two; in Raphael Israeli, “The Charter of Allah: The Platform of the Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas]”, Y. Alexander and A. M. Foxman [eds.], The 1988-1989 Annual on Terrorism [Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1990], pp. 99-134; complete Charter text).
The Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood have been more than forthright in their statements. However, some Westerners have obfuscated these clearly jihadi declarations and have attempted to alter their very violent features through political plastic surgery.
In June 2009 President Obama invited ten Muslim Brotherhood leaders (over then-ally and then-President Hosni Mubaraq’s strenuous objections) to his ‘New Beginnings’ speech at Islam’s “Oxford on the Nile,” the al-Azhar University founded in approximately 970 A.D. by the Fatimid dynasty.
Obama’s invitation led to the boosting of the Muslim Brotherhood’s (MB) international stature, the weakening of President Mubaraq’s standing within Egypt, the stirring up of MB jihadi revolution, and the overthrow of American ally Mubaraq and his replacement by a Muslim Brotherhood government. Today marks one year since the military counter-revolution of Egypt’s army, the jailing of Islamist MB leaders and the classification by the Egyptian government of the MB as a terrorist movement.
The Muslim Brotherhood initiated two assassination attempts against Egyptian leaders. On December 28, 1948 Egyptian Prime Minister, Mahmud Fahmi Nokrashi was gunned down by Brotherhood member Abdel Meguid Ahmed Hassan. On October 26, 1954 Muslim Brotherhood member Mohammed Abdel Latif attempted to assassinate President Gamel Abdel Nasser while Nasser was delivering a speech in Alexandria.
Over the years the Muslim Brotherhood metastasized into other Egyptian jihadi groups:
- Ayman al-Zawahiri’s Egyptian Islamic Jihad or Tanzim al-Jihad.
- Abdullah Yusuf Azzam’s Maktab Khadamāt al-Mujāhidīn al-‘Arab (MAK or the Arab Services Bureau, later morphing into al Qa’eda).
- Omar Abdul Rahman’s al-Gamāʻah al-Islāmīyah, which co-operated with Egyptian Islamic Jihad in the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat on October 6, 1981.
Western unbelief marries Western gullibility
American Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and New York Times Moscow bureau chief Walter Duranty wrote glowing articles praising Joseph Stalin in the 1920’s and 30’s – and all the while millions of Soviet citizens were being tortured, starved, jailed and shot.
Arthur Gelb, a veteran New York Times reporter and editor, stated in his memoir City Room, that during WWII Western media in general and the NYT in particular failed to adequately report on or put into perspective the Nazi intentions toward and slaughter of the Jewish people.
In a similar fashion Western post-Christians and secularists yawningly brush off Islamist declarations and actions, blithely dismissing jihadi threats from Tehran to Timbuktu, and from Gaziantep to Gaza. Since Western elites believe that the Bible is no longer intellectually defensible, they hypothesize that Islamists must feel the same way about the Quran and jihad. As a result, the elites’ ability to defend Western interests is effectively castrated, and they become unwitting apologists for jihad.
This is the world political scenario that has given birth of The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant or ISIL (in Arabic al-Dawlah al-Islāmīyah fī al-ʻIrāq wa-al-Shām or Dāʻish) – a group spiritually connected with al Qa’eda, and having a common Muslim Brotherhood paternity. Western unbelief and gullibility has led to the slow collapse of linchpin US Middle East strategies.
Juggernauts in keffiyehs
A face-off is happening in the boxing arena known as the Middle East. Two Islamist juggernauts are both wearing keffiyehs – the traditional Middle Eastern headdress. In the green Shiite trunks is the Islamic Republic of Iran, while in the black Sunni trunks is the ISIL. It is a fight to the finish. The prize? Control of Islam, the honor of spearheading jihad, and geopolitical control of the world’s oil spigots.
In a recent article “Surviving Chaos: Israel needs to prepare for a wholesale breakdown of the Middle East,” Professor Louis René Beres of Purdue University states that “ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Syria, signals potentially catastrophic regional transformations.”
Turkey and Qatar have been betting on the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIL, while Saudi Arabia and Jordan are beefing up defenses on their common borders with Iraq.
As the Middle East hiccups and bursts into flame, it is important to understand how Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood fit into this overall picture.
The leaderships of Egypt, Jordan, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the PLO all have something in common – they see the Muslim Brotherhood as an immediate threat to regional security.
All of these recognize that in each case the MB wants to overthrow current leadership and establish an Islamist dictatorship in its place. As a result, all are willing to work together for limited purposes, but quietly. It is not a matter of “kiss and tell,” but rather “kiss and don’t tell.” There is temporary unity among these players regarding a cooperative effort to blunt the edge of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia and the PLO (more commonly known today as the Palestinian Authority or PA) have no love for Israel and they are simultaneously supporting efforts to destroy the Jewish state.
The PA still adheres to the PLO National Charter or Covenant, which calls for unchangeable armed conflict between the Palestinians and Israel. On this point, little separates the PA from Hamas, for the same spiritual network of Islamist and jihadi veins runs through the aortal arteries of all the players – Hamas, the PA, Iran, Saudi Arabia, etc., as well as through their source documents in the Quran and the Hadith.
The words of the ancient Jewish Psalmist still have substance in describing Middle East realities: “Woe is me, for I sojourn in Meshech, for I dwell among the tents of Kedar! Too long has my soul had its dwelling with those who hate peace. I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war” (Psalm 120:5-7).
Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad – the enemy of my enemy
There is a Middle-Eastern proverb, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” The enmity between Shi’ite and Sunni Islam goes back to the gnarled roots of the Muslim faith.
Shi’ite jihadi forces have been gradually uniting over the past decades, and right now a massive constellation of Shi’ite power is getting the international spotlight.
Iran and its Revolutionary Guards are subsidizing and arming:
- Iraqi Shi’ite forces
- Syrian President Assad’s Alawite-led forces
- Hezbollah’s Lebanese forces.
It is also lending military expertise and funneling missiles to Gaza’s Sunni Islamic Jihad. In times past it has even supported Sunni Hamas, and surreptitious links may well be in the offing again.
During the forty days of Ramadan jihadi fervor rises to a boiling point, for it is considered especially meritorious to engage in jihadi attacks at this time.
As Hamas and the Palestinian Authority vie for the hearts and minds of Palestinians, street violence and rioting against Israeli security forces are being encouraged. This weakens the PA’s influence in Judea and Samaria (the ‘West Bank’) and gains brownie points for Hamas, which is on the ropes both in Gaza and in the West Bank.
The Hamas kidnapping
On the evening of June 12, Amer Abu Aisha was seen by his parents dancing at a wedding in Hebron. He disappeared soon after, just a few hours before three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped at the Alon Shvut bus stop just north of Hebron (see Washington Post story).
According to the Israeli Shin Bet (equivalent to FBI), Marwan Qawasmeh and Abu Aisha obtained a Hyundai i35 with Israeli plates (stolen from Israel a few months earlier), dressed themselves in Jewish Orthodox clothing and were playing an Israeli radio program on the car stereo when they pulled up to the bus stop and offered the three teenagers a lift. As soon as the kids entered the car, they were beaten and threatened with pistols. Sixteen year old Gilad She’ar managed to call the police emergency line and whispered, “They have kidnapped me.” The call was recorded on the police hotline.
That tape was broadcast on Israeli television earlier this week. On the recording one can hear the enraged terrorists yelling at the teenagers upon discovering the phone call, and then one can hear shots ringing out, and quickly fading groans. The terrorists then speak on the phone to their Hamas handler, announcing that “We are bringing you three!” They then are heard singing exultantly in Arabic, and the driver says to the shooter, “May Allah bless your hands!”
Within minutes of the kidnapping all three teenagers were dead. The terrorists transferred the bodies to another car, and burned the first car in a cave near Dura, southwest of Hebron. They drove the bodies to a field owned by the Qawasmeh family northwest of Hebron near the Green Line, and buried the bodies in a hastily dug shallow grave. Then they disappeared.
For eighteen days the IDF, the Shin Bet, the Israeli Police and local Israeli hiking guides searched for the boys and the terrorists, discovering a sandal on Thursday June 26, eyeglasses on Sunday morning, and finally the bodies on Monday evening. Their joint funeral was a day of national mourning, attended by over 50,000.
Palestinian street response
When the Twin Towers were destroyed in an al Qa’eda terror attack on 9/11, Palestinians were photographed dancing for joy and handing out celebratory sweets in East Jerusalem, Ramallah, Nablus and in Lebanon (see YouTube, Camera.org, and Little Green Footballs).
In the same way, local Palestinians responded to the kidnapping of three Jewish teenagers with festive celebrations in many Arab towns like Bir Zeit (Ramallah area) and Gaza.
Within a short time, Palestinians across the West Bank began to use a new ‘three-finger salute’ – expressing joy that Hamas had kidnapped three Jews this time, whereas with Hamas’ kidnapping of Gilad Shalit there had only been one soldier in captivity (see Ynet, Gateway Pundit and Times of Israel).
Selfies by Palestinian children were posted on social media, and a spirit of joy seemed to fill large sections of the Palestinian street (see Ezekiel 36:5 for the phrase “wholehearted joy and scorn of soul”).
Rockets for dessert
With the discovery of the bodies, different jihadi groups in Gaza increased rocket fire into Israeli civilian population centers, including kibbutzim, villages and towns. Not that rocket attacks are new – as Noam Bedein of the Sderot Media Center notes, since the end of the IDF’s Operation Pillar of Defense (November 14-21, 2012) up to June 30, 2014, over 300 rocket or mortar attacks have been launched against southern Israel from Gaza. But there has definitely been a marked and radical upswing in the past four days. Forty have been fired in the last 24 hours.
- Pray that the terrorist hands and weapons will be blunted and destroyed, and that jihadi forces will be vanquished
- Pray for the safety of Jewish people in the villages, towns and kibbutzim surrounding Gaza, including believers in Yeshua who live there
- Continued rocket attacks may lead to the necessity of a large-scale land incursion into Gaza. Pray for wisdom and God’s strategies for decision-makers.
Copycat kidnapping or something else?
There has been a sobering new development – the kidnapping and murder of a 16-year old Arab teenager from Shu’afat, a suburb north of Jerusalem. Muhammad Hussein Abu Khdeir was seized by unknown assailants near his house at approximately 0300 hours Wednesday morning. His charred body was found a few hours later by police in the Jerusalem Forest.
The Israeli police sprang into action, and an intensive investigation is underway. An autopsy has just been completed. Within a day or two, more solid information should be available. The murder could have been carried out as a revenge killing by Jewish extremists, or there could be community criminal issues involved here. Honor killings in the Arab community are not unknown when issues of shame and honor come to the surface (see Middle East Forum here and here).
The Talmud asks a question, “Whose blood is redder?” In other words, when innocent life is in question, there can be no justification for murder.
At the same time, it is instructive to note that world media is giving Abu Khdeir’s kidnapping much more press and sympathy than it did to that of the murdered Jewish teenagers. World media is drawing a twisted moral equivalence between what is standard behavior for Islamic terrorists, and what is rare and unusual behavior for Jewish people.
This is like positing a moral equivalence between firefighter and arsonist. Some call this ‘dancing on the blood of the victims.’ It is a disgrace for anyone to lend a hand to such arguments.
Over the past two weeks, some Israeli leftists opposed to Jews living in Judea and Samaria (these people do not accept the Hebraic prophetic vision of the restoration of the Jewish people to their land – if that land is in the West Bank) have verbally attacked Jews who live over the Green Line (in the West Bank) and have said that ‘settlers’ only have themselves to blame for being kidnapped. Even a few Israeli Messianic believers have recently come out expressing empathy for the Arab kidnap victim while remaining silent regarding the three Jewish teenagers murdered by Hamas.
The dynamics here of pointing the finger in accusation against our own people (see Isaiah 58:9; Deuteronomy 19:16; Zechariah 3:1; Galatians 5:15; Jeremiah 30:16) is something to be avoided at all costs, especially during this season of Dire Straits. There is no value in justifying the murderous actions of our enemies, any more than there is in justifying the rape of women or racist attacks.
Pray for the Jewish people, that we will not accuse on another but seek our God in brokenheartedness and repentance
Pray for our enemies, that God would grant them a spirit of repentance
Pray for the salvation of Israel, that we as a nation might step into our prophesied calling
- as a light to the nations (Isaiah 49:6)
- as a mighty army (Ezekiel 37:10-11)
- and as a mighty threshing sledge in God’s hands (Isaiah 41:14-16)
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do!