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by Mordechai Kedar


We need patience, ideology, and endurance to survive in Middle East

Our enemies read us, hear us, and understand us better than we understand our own self-liquidation process, which we are engaging in with our very own hands.

Our enemies see before them a people that is panic-stricken, emotional, prone to tears, corrupt, hedonistic, reckless, and individualistic; a people subscribing to a grab-what-you can mentality, lacking historical roots, lacking ideology, devoid of values, lacking a sense of solidarity, wanting everything now, and willing to pay any price without taking into account the results of its reckless behavior.

Our enemies see media outlets that took sides, invested endless broadcasting hours and limitless newspaper pages in order to produce a media melodrama out of a wife's tear and a mother's sigh, thus creating public opinion with the sense that we should pay any price for an immediate achievement. Yet who appointed the media to determine our national priorities like that? Who determined that it is appropriate to secure the return of two fallen soldiers in exchange for a living murderer? Did anyone in the media think about the future implications of the pressure exerted by the media on our submissive government?

Anyone familiar with the simplest basis of deals in the Middle East knows well that the moment one of the parties shows that it is facing pressure, the price tag goes up, and the greater the pressure is, the higher the price tag. Our media and public conduct every time we are facing our enemies — those in Lebanon, Syria, and the Gaza Strip — shows them that they greater the pressure they exert, the higher the price we shall be willing to pay for easing the pressure, whether it is missile pressure or psychological pressure.

Our media and public panic created a situation whereby we, with out very own mouths, are boosting the price of any deal to the point we cannot accept it.

This was our foolish conduct vis-á-vis Hamas in Gaza, vis-á-vis Hizbullah in Lebanon, and vis-á-vis Syria, as every day we hear in the media the "sages of Zion" reciting like a parrot the mantra: "Everyone knows what's the price of a ceasefire/return of the hostages/peace with Syria," and when our enemies hear it, why should they demand less than what that fool says "everyone knows"?

Our clock is different

Besides that, our clock is different than that of our enemies: Around here, an average government serves for three years, and therefore it wants to do something in that time and operates out of a sense of pressure that the other side quickly recognizes.

The Muslims, in line with the Koran, believe that Allah is on the side of those who have patience, and patience is found here on two levels: Time and suffering. Allah helps those who do not rush and patiently wait for their dreams to be realized, and in addition, are willing to patiently contend with the suffering inherent in the struggle and expectation for the victory that shall come, God willing. Nasrallah taught all of us some lessons, big time.

A people that has no patience, and that wants everything now without the ability to suffer the pain of living in the poor, deprived, hungry, thirsty, sick, split, and radical environment that surrounds us, cannot survive in the oh-so-old Middle East, where the Shiites are still fighting for supremacy in Islam, 1,400 years after it was taken away from them, and where terms such as democracy, human rights, minority rights, freedom of women, freedom of religion, and freedom from religion are but a distant dream, much more distant than our impatience.

Only a people that is instilled with ideology, possesses a sense of mission and confidence in the righteousness of its path, and feels it is part of a historical process and is willing to suffer and pay the price of survivability in blood, sweat, and tears — only such people can survive in the Middle East. This region is no place for post-Jewish spineless people who are necessarily, sooner or later, also post Zionists.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar is a member of the Arabic-language department and Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. Contact him at This article appeared in Ynet News


An article can only suggest the voice of the essayist. It can not reproduce it. So we are reprinting a June Blog-Ed with links to Kedar's voice. It is a primer on how to talk to the enemy. The essay also features the voice of Wafa Sultan, another person who know how to respond.

Posted by Bryna Berch, June 26, 2008.

These two videos have one thing in common -- when you talk to an arab adversary, you take charge of the conversation and keep attacking. Never fit in the frame they choose -- they'll hack you to pieces.

Pity that the Israeli leadership, the US state department and the hapless American and Israeli negotiators have never learned this lesson. Well, maybe Condoleezza Rice has -- but she only snaps at Jews.

1. Professor Mordechai Kedar of the Department of Arabic Studies at Bar Ilan University is interviewed on Al Jazeera about Jerusalem. Judging from the clip, Professor Kedar speaks Arab fluently and forcefully and never let himself be put on the defensive.

2. Wafa Sultan is a Syrian-American psychiatrist from an Alawi family. Well, she was born and raised as a Sunni Muslim and now lives in the U.S.A.

This is entitled "Al Jazeera TV Religious Confrontation"

In this one she discusses the "Clash of Civilizations"

Here's also one by her talking to a T.V. host talking about her appearance on Al-Jazeera T.V. It is entitled "Belief in Islam and Mental Sanity -- Impossible!"

Here's one with an Arab secularist arguing with the cleric Wafa Sultan confronted. They "discuss" The Myth of islamic Contribution to Human Civilization. Again on Al-Jazeera TV; subtitles by MEMRI TV

Part 2 of the debate is at


The essay below is entitled "How did Jerusalem come to be so holy to Moslems? or: Why and when was the myth of al-Aqsa created?" It was written by Professor Mordechai Kedar.

This version comes from the September 2002 Edition of the Jewish Magazine There is a post-Arafat version of the article on the Arutz-Sheva website, posted June 27, 2008 and archived at

When the Prophet Mohammad established Islam, he introduced a minimum of innovations. He employed the hallowed personages, historic legends and sacred sites of Judaism and Christianity, and even paganism, by Islamizing them. Thus, according to Islam, Abraham was the first Moslem and Jesus and St. John (the sons of Miriam, sister of Moses and Aron) were prophets and guardians of the second heaven. Many Biblical legends ("asatir al-awwalin"), which were familiar to the pagan Arabs before the dawn of Islam, underwent an Islamic conversion, and the Koran as well as the Hadith (the Islamic oral tradition), are replete with them.

Islamization was practiced on places as well as persons: Mecca and the holy stone - al-Ka'bah - were holy sites of the pre-Islamic pagan Arabs. The Umayyad Mosque in Damascus and the Great Mosque of Istanbul were erected on the sites of Christian-Byzantine churches - two of the better known examples of how Islam treats sanctuaries of other faiths.

Jerusalem, too, underwent the process of Islamization: at first Muhammad attempted to convince the Jews near Medina to join his young community, and, by way of persuasion, established the direction of prayer (kiblah) to be to the north, towards Jerusalem, in keeping with Jewish practice; but after he failed in this attempt he turned against the Jews, killed many of them, and directed the kiblah southward, towards Mecca.

Muhammad's abandonment of Jerusalem explains the fact that this city is not mentioned even once in the Koran. After Palestine was occupied by the Moslems, its capital was Ramlah, 30 miles to the west of Jerusalem, signifying that Jerusalem meant nothing to them.

Islam rediscovered Jerusalem 50 years after Mohammad's death. In 682 CE, 'Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr rebelled against the Islamic rulers in Damascus, conquered Mecca and prevented pilgrims from reaching Mecca for the Hajj. 'Abd al-Malik, the Umayyad Calif, needed an alternative site for the pilgrimage and settled on Jerusalem which was then under his control. In order to justify this choice, a verse from the Koran was chosen (17,1 = sura 17, verse 1) which states (trans. by Majid Fakhri):

"Glory to Him who caused His servant to travel by night from the Sacred Mosque to the Farthest Mosque, whose precincts We have blessed, in order to show him some of Our Signs, He is indeed the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing."

The meaning ascribed to this verse (see the commentary in al-Jallalayn) is that "the furthest mosque" (al-masgid al-aqsa) is in Jerusalem and that Mohammad was conveyed there one night (although at that time the journey took three days by camel), on the back of al-Buraq, a magical horse with the head of a woman, wings of an eagle, the tail of a peacock, and hoofs reaching to the horizon. He tethered the horse to the Western Wall of the Temple Mount and from there ascended to the seventh heaven together with the angel Gabriel. On his way he met the prophets of other religions who are the guardians of heaven: Adam, Jesus, St. John, Joseph, Idris (=Seth?), Aaron, Moses and Abraham who accompanied him on his way to Allah and who accepted him as their master. Thus Islam tries to gain legitimacy over other, older religions, by creating a scene in which the former prophets agree to Mohammad's mastery, thus making him Khatam al-Anbiya' ("the Seal of the Prophets").

Not surprisingly, this miraculous account contradicts a number of the tenets of Islam: How can a living man of flesh and blood ascend to heaven? How can a mythical creature carry a mortal to a real destination? Questions such as these have caused orthodox Moslem thinkers to conclude that the nocturnal journey was a dream of Mohammad's. The journey and the ascent serves Islam to "go one better" than the Bible: Moses "only" went up to Mt. Sinai, in the middle of nowhere, and drew close to heaven, whereas Mohammad went all the way up to Allah, and from Jerusalem itself.

What are the difficulties with the belief that the al-Aqsa mosque described in Islamic tradition is located in Jerusalem? For one, the people of Mecca, who knew Muhammad well, did not believe this story. Only Abu Bakr, (later the first Calif), believed him and thus was called al-Siddiq ("the believer"). The second difficulty is that Islamic tradition tells us that al-Aqsa mosque is near Mecca on the Arabian peninsula. This was unequivocally stated in "Kitab al-Maghazi" (Oxford University Press, 1966, vol. 3, pp. 958-9), a book by the Moslem historian and geographer al-Waqidi. According to al-Waqidi, there were two "masjeds" (places of prayer) in al-Gi'irranah, a village between Mecca and Ta'if, one was "the closer mosque" (al-masjid al-adna) and the other was "the further mosque" (al-masjid al-aqsa), and Muhammad would pray there when he went out of town. This description by al-Waqidi which is supported by a chain of authorities (isnad), was not "convenient" for the Islamic propaganda of the 7th century.

In order to establish a basis for the awareness of the "holiness" of Jerusalem in Islam, the Califs of the Ummayad dynasty invented many "traditions" upholding the value of Jerusalem (known as "fadha'il bayt al-Maqdis"), which would justify pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the faithful Moslems. Thus was al-Masjid al-Aqsa "transported" to Jerusalem. It should be noted that Saladin also adopted the myth of al-Aqsa and those "traditions" in order to recruit and inflame the Moslem warriors against the Crusaders in the 12th century.

Another aim of the Islamization of Jerusalem was to undermine the legitimacy of the older religions, Judaism and Christianity, which consider Jerusalem to be a holy city. Islam is presented as the only legitimate religion, destined to replace the other two, because they had changed and distorted the Word of God, each in its turn. (ghyyarou wa-baddalou). On the alleged forgeries of the Holy Scriptures, made by Jews and Christians, see the third chapter of: M. J. Kister, "haddithu 'an bani isra'il wa-la haraja", IOS 2 (1972), pp. 215-239. Kister quotes dozens of Islamic sources).

Though Judaism and Christianity can exist side by side in Jerusalem, Islam regards both of them as betrayals of Allah and his teachings, and has always done, and will continue to do, all in its power to expel both of them from this city. It is interesting to note that this expulsion is retroactive: The Islamic broadcasters of the Palestinian radio stations consistently make it a point to claim that the Jews never had a temple on the Temple Mount and certainly not two temples. (Where, then, according to them, did Jesus preach?)

Arafat, himself a secular person (ask the Hamas!), is doing today exactly what the Califs of the Umayyad dynasty did 1300 years ago: he is marshaling the holiness of Jerusalem to serve his political ends. He must not give control of Jerusalem over to the Jews since according to Islam they are impure and the wrath of Allah is upon them (al-maghdhoub 'alayhim; Koran 1,7, see al-Jalalayn and other commentaries; note that verse numbers may differ slightly in the various editions of the Koran). The Jews are the sons of monkeys and pigs (5,60). (For the idea that Jews are related to pigs and monkeys see, for example, Musnad al-Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, (Beirut 1969) vol. 3, p. 241. See also pages 348, 395, 397, 421, and vol. 6, p. 135.) The Jews are those who distorted the holy writings which were revealed to them (2,73; 3,72) and denied God's signs (3,63). Since they violated the covenant with their God (4,154), He cursed them (5,16) and they are forever the inheritors of hell (3,112). So how can Arafat abandon Jerusalem to the Jews?

The Palestinian media these days are full of messages of Jihad, calling to broaden the national-political war between Israel and the Palestinians into a religious-Islamic war between the Jews and the Moslems. READ THEIR LIPS: for them Christianity is no better than Judaism, since both "forfeited" their right to rule over Jerusalem. Only Islam - Din al-Haqq ("the Religion of Truth") - has this right, and forever. (shaykh 'Ikrima Sabri, the mufti of Jerusalem, in Friday's khutbah 4 weeks ago, "Sawt falastin", the PA official radio).

Since the holiness of Jerusalem to Islam has always been, and still is no more than a politically motivated holiness, Arafat would be putting his political head on the block should he give it up. Must Judaism and Christianity defer to myths related in Islamic texts or envisioned in Mohammad's dreams, long after Jerusalem was established as the ancient, true center of these two religions which preceded Islam? Should UN forces be sent to the Middle East just because Arafat decided to recycle the political problems of the Umayyads 1250 years after the curtain came down on their role in history?

End Note

For more details about the subject see and the links provided in it. Searching for keywords such as miraj, isra, alburaq, alquds etc. could also be useful.

Mordechai Kedar is professor of Arabic Studies at Bar Ilan University. Contact him at


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