And it is not just Gaza’s jihadists. Understand: This is not Hamas’s war of extermination against Israel. It is Islam’s. And yes, for the millionth time, there are various ways of interpreting Islam, but the Islam that matters in the Middle East, the Islam that animates tens of millions of Muslims, is Islamic supremacism. Israel, the canary in the West’s coal mine, is not besieged by an eccentric doctrine weaved by Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda. Jihadist terrorists are just the point of the ideological spear.Recent polling
shows that four in five Egyptians (i.e., about 60 million people) believe the Camp David Accords — the treaty that has kept peace between Egypt and Israel for 30 years — should be dissolved. It is the same four out of five Egyptians that, given the chance, voted to put Islamists in control of their government. Just as Muslims have chosen to empower Islamists in Turkey, Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Tunisia, as well as in Lebanon and Libya to a lesser but still consequential extent.
The jihad against Israel “isn’t a matter of individuals, not a matter of community. It is a matter of a nation. The Arab nation, the Islamic nation.” So exclaimed Egyptian prime minister Hisham Qandil on Thursday in Gaza. He had been sent there to show solidarity with Hamas by Mohamed Morsi, the Brotherhood leader Egyptians elected as their president. “We are all behind you,” Qandil continued — behind “the struggling nation . . . that is presenting its children as heroes every day.”
This is how the Middle East’s Muslims see the situation. They are not Palestinians, Egyptians, Saudis, Iraqis, and so on. They are the ummah, the “Islamic nation.” For them, Gaza is not a regional dustup over parochial grievances. It is a civilizational struggle to be fought to the finish — the finish being when the enemy is vanquished. We used to fight wars that way, too. The fact that we’ve decided total victory by force of arms is a quaint concept does not mean everybody else has. Islamists define victory in the Middle East as the annihilation of Israel. That is the ambition of the region, not just of Hamas. Our government’s decades-old claim that the aggression results from a “perversion of Islam” weaved by a fringe of “violent extremists” is dangerously delusional.
Delusion, of course, is nothing new. For 30 years, ever since the Carter administration hailed Ayatollah Khomeini as a “saint,” willful blindness has been the order of the day. It induced the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations to insist that Islam was a “religion of peace” even as scripture-citing Islamists repeatedly mass-murdered Americans. But Barack Obama is something else again. This president has supplanted conscious avoidance of our enemies’ ideology with empathy. Our government no longer just ignores Islamist goals; it affirmatively empowers Islamist factions.
It has been only eleven days, but we’re already seeing the wages of November 6. The world has become a much more dangerous place, and not just for Israelis.
— Andrew C. McCarthy is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute and the executive director of the Philadelphia Freedom Center. He is the author, most recently, of Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy, which was published by Encounter Books.