THE POLITICAL PAGE

April / May 2006

The fourfold menace of Islam (continuation)

The 1st menace of Islam in the western world was treated in the March edition of the “Political Page”. It was about ‘Islam Terrorism'.

In this issue we will present the other three menaces with which we have been confronted since the beginning of 2006. These are the following :

•  The victory of the radical Islamic Hamas movement in the autonomous provinces

•  The ‘Cartoon' dispute and the Abdul Rahman case

•  The nuclear dispute concerning Iran

This sequence of events, from 'terrorism' right up to the ‘Iran nuclear dispute' is meant to show just how fluid the borders of so-called “Islamism” and the religion Islam are. A distinction made by the Islamic world in order to erect a protection wall against the general accusations against Islam after September 11, and to divert wrath from ‘the Muslim' towards a small group of freaked out radicals – who are hard to catch, anyhow. Our politicians like to make this distinction, which is true in this sense, that not every Muslim is a disguised terrorist; but which is wrong when saying that Islam is a ‘peaceful religion', and that the Koran teaches peace, and that in this sense Islam is absolutely misunderstood and misused.

All the real experts of Islam, i. e. all those who have really read the Koran are unambiguously of the same opinion that Islam is inwardly a rigid legalistic religion, through the application of ‘ Sharia ' against its own believers will; and outwardly it is forced to equate both religion and state in order to get Islam through to the whole world by all means possible. Mohammed the prophet already showed what this religious war the ‘Jihad' should look like, including breach of contract and the shedding of blood. The ‘Sura of the Koran were given to him in the 2nd stage of his life; these say that the murdering of Jews and unbelievers is a ‘pleasant work unto God'.

In contrast to the crusades, which could not relate to the teachings of Jesus, the terrorist can of course, relate to the Koran through more than one ‘Sura'. This is the reason why moderate Muslims and their organisations think it is hard to distinguish themselves quickly and with credibility from the terrorist ‘attacks'; and this is also the reason why preachers of hate can easily transform peaceful Muslim Prayers into a swirling sea of hate and revenge in the name of Allah - like for example in the ‘Cartoon Dispute'. The distinction between Islamism and Islam is also artificial and only a matter of grading regarding the consequences of actions; somebody may learn for his life from the teachings of the prophet. Nothing else!

Due to what has happened during the last few months, these things are also regarded more seriously in both religious and political leadership committees (e.g. the Synod of the Lutheran Church in Württemberg).

These four different areas of confrontation with Islam which are a problem for the West, which is marked by a Christian culture, will be a strong, contributing factor to life in the 21 st century.

The 2nd Menace: Radical Islam

(see THE POLITICAL PAGE OF FEBRUARY 2006)

On 25th January 2006, Hamas won the majority over the Fatah Party in the autonomous regions through a clean democratic election campaign. However, Hamas is regarded internationally as a terrorist group and, according to international law, officially it is not possible to transfer money to a terrorist government; but without help from abroad the Palestinians cannot survive, everybody knows this.

Therefore, the immediate demand of the 'Middle East Quartet', consisting of the UN, Europe, the USA and Russia for the future Hamas Government includes:

•  the acknowledgement of the state of Israel

•  the renouncing of terrorist violence (disarmament),

•  the maintaining of the agreed contracts with the Fatah Government.

Since 29 th March, the Hamas Government has been in office; however, the party has not changed anything.

•  It is not ready to acknowledge Israel's right of existence;

•  They basically do not renounce violence but offer only an indefinite armistice;

•  It remains to see how far they are ready to keep to agreed contracts.

• 

Donor countries therefore are facing the question, ‘on which legal basis to donate money in the future?' None of the developing countries have ever received a comparable amount of international grants, as has Palestine in the last few years; the amount of 2.5 billion Euros has been received since 1993, the main donor has always been the EU.

Since December 2005 however, the World Bank has stopped its payment to Palestine due to wasteful salary increases. Israel and Washington have also cancelled their payments; only the EU is still making payments. Right now they are looking for loopholes which could make support possible, without having to include the terrorist Hamas Government.

•  Thus the EU has quickly transferred 120 million Euros while the old government is officially still in charge, before the official administration of the ‘Oath of the Hamas Cabinet' takes place.

•  Israel and respectively the community of states only talk to the Abbas president, who is a member of the Fatah. However, Hamas consider this to be a weak point, i. e. because he will not be able to force Hamas to do anything, as the previous process proved.

•  An attempt has been made to transfer money to the people via welfare organisations. While an approval from the authorities is needed for every project, this method could be realised with credibility without involving official bodies.

The other radical way to influence the situation in Palestine is to cancel payments. Thus the Palestinians would notice immediately that under Hamas they would face harder times, which would lead to a change of government through re-elections. This is the way that both Israel and the USA propose.

The possible danger with this is that the new government would tap new financial sources, like for example from ‘Arabic brothers', and especially Iran. This danger of this, however, does not seem to be that great. The reasons for this are:

•  The ‘Arabic league' (23 countries) already promised in March 2005 to pool together 50 million dollars each month. Apart from receiving finance from Qatar, which has already paid 14 million dollars, the Abbas president also asked its ‘Arabic brothers' for financial help on 30th March 2006.

•  There is a rumour that Iran is ready to pay 250 million dollars. This however would mean dependence on the Shiite regime in Teheran, a thing the Sunnite Hamas preferably do not want.

•  Anyway, the Arabic regime does not want to strengthen radical Islam by any means at all, in the face of problems that they are already facing with them in their own country.

•  The Arabs require a financial concept from the West in which they want to be included in a long-standing commitment, instead of being a mere stop gap.

It is foreseeable that nations of the world and even the government in Israel will effect connections informally and unofficially with the Hamas Government in time. Formerly even Fatah was a terrorist organisation, but had to come to an arrangement with political reality. The right of Israel's existence is in the first place, a thing, which has never before been as safeguarded as it is now. In my opinion, diplomatic contacts or even the establishment of connections of other countries with the Palestinians is not the same thing as the question of calling Israel a country. Naturally speaking, this is based on the background of the ‘two-state solution' towards which Ehud Olmert is obviously aiming at.

The mood in the country

After a survey sponsored by the Konrad-Adenauer Foundation, the following mood was perceptible among the Palestinians:

Following their election in January, sympathy for Hamas among the people has increased during the last two months by 3% in addition to the 47% they already had. Fatah's sympathy among the people reached only 37%.

52% of the people questioned say: that Fatah is losing support due to its corruption.

37% of the people voted for Hamas because of their Islamic program against Israel.

70% are of the opinion that Hamas will succeed.

75% expect Hamas to enter negotiations with Israel.

64% require a new peace agreement and are fed up with the Intifada (infighting?).

The longing for ‘side by side' peace is thus as strong among the Palestinians as it is among the Israelis.

How to continue?

On 28th March, Ehud Olmert together with his Kadima - the strongest party - won the election in Israel. He changed the election into a referendum for his withdrawal concept of all the Israeli settlements in the west of Jordan. While the Labour Party and some other parties want the same thing, we can say, that the people in Israel prefer the concept of safe borders in contrast to the thought of a ‘large Israel' (F.A.Z.). Ehud Olmert seems to be ready to make concessions regarding the splitting of Jerusalem. Already we saw that on the election evening, he offered the Palestinians dialogue about the position of the borders, but he offered them only to Abbas and not to the Hamas groups.

Because Hamas refuses any negotiations with Israel on this issue, if the Palestinians refuse negotiations, Israel will draw up borders on its own, said Olmert. It remains to be seen for how long they can refuse the dialogue, because on both sides the pragmatists seem to have led the way, which of course is an advantage for both sides.

For sure this isn't peace and it isn't at all the messianic kingdom of peace, but maybe it is right in the eyes of ‘peace science' to resolve local issues as a first step in order to observe how this will be continued with other steps.

Background

As either a Christian who believes in the Bible or as a Gaza Strip resident Jew, the recent political developments can only be perceived with an aching heart. The heart-rending pictures which were seen throughout the world during the evacuation of the Gaza Strip showing residents and soldiers crying together was a proof of the price the people had to pay. Even here in our country - Germany, people cried as they watched the events on TV.

On 23 rd March, during this election, even the resident Israelis observed that they themselves and their Idea of an ‘eretz Israel' had no support from the people, and that only 12 out of 128 seats were available for the Likud (this probably means the political end of ‘Bibi' Netanjahu).

Has God forsaken his people? Many of the displaced settlers from Gaza are asking this question after believing that God would intervene and protect his country; even Christians ask themselves this or at least are afraid of this question. Even though we have the same questions – we are not affected by all these things, as are those who had to leave there; they have to bear all that. We have the responsibility to call upon the Lord and to ask him about our mission. Our mission is one of comfort, and to comfort Israel.

The political background shows clearly, that the maintenance of the Jewish state in the face of a 4.1% increase in population among the Palestinians/Arabs, and of 1.8% among the Jews, will only be possible through a division of both ethnic groups. Cohabitation of people groups as in former times has been made impossible by the yearlong blood shedding. Only in a few places where forgiveness through Jesus took place, hearts were able to come together again. Much forgiveness is needed on both sides. ‘Forgiveness' is the only political solution one can think of. Although this is a characteristic of the kingdom of God, and the kingdom of this world is still ruling at the moment, politicians have to act according to the laws of this world. This means: security and distance. The reduction in bloodshed slowly helps a return to normality on both sides, as we could see after the reduction of terrorist attacks in Israel. It is clear that the claim over the land remains a latent issue, but at least the killing will stop.

Although on the side of the Palestinians, one condition for normality is an internationally decreed reform of schoolbooks, and a more tolerant education of children towards other races, we have to work intensively toward this in order to stop the sponsorisation by European taxpayers of books which inspire race-hatred.

Should God punish and condemn the end of the bloodshed? Anyhow this is the course for Israel! Israel is called to be the light of people through the light of the messiah. He, however, renounced all his rights on the cross and gave his life, his living space, for his enemies.

The name of ‘ebed jahwe' which means the ‘servant of God', appears repeatedly in the book of Isaiah the prophet. Jewish interpreters have always been of the opinion that these songs of the servant of God are pointing toward Israel, whereas Christians think that this is a picture of the sufferings of Jesus. Should we use these songs of the servant of God alongside the promises of the Old Testament as a picture for the Israel of today, which has a thousand bleeding wounds; and which is in danger of being beaten over and over again. And, is it ready in this context to give up its land, its life? Of course, I see that the reasons are completely different - Jesus acted out of love, and Israel acts out of the need for personal security. Nevertheless – this should be an impulse; maybe this is a word which Israel needs to hear today, to voluntarily give it's land / life for its enemies as Jesus did? Over and over again there have been prophecies and biblical prognoses, that Israel will face another time of tribulation. Could it be possible for the suffering of Israel to be rather a form of pain over a divided land than a new persecution? We always have to take care not to mix up prophecies and their interpretations: God will remain sovereign even to our prognoses.

PRAYER

“Lord my God I believe that you have made no mistake with the election of Hamas in Palestine and with the election of Kadima, and the coalition in Israel. Give us faith for today, patience to wait upon your ways for tomorrow, and a skilled prophetic understanding to realise your hand in these events.

Have mercy, Oh God of Abraham, over Ismael, his wrath and hate, his pain and rights.

Have mercy, Oh God of Abraham over Israel, the son of promise. Give Israel the fear of God again, the love of God and the understanding for the things you are about to do. Pour out your spirit over Israel. Yeshuah, reveal yourself to many as redeemer, as the Saviour of Israel, as saviour from her enemies, and the Saviour of the world.”

Sources: F.A.Z. 16.3., 21.3., 23.3., 25.3., 27.3. 28,3, 30.03.2006; Rhein Merkur Nr. 9 (2.3.) 2006.

The 3rd Menace: The Cartoon Dispute

The 'Cartoon Dispute' started at the beginning of February. Some caricatures of Mohammed in the Danish newspaper 'Jyllands-Posten' were enough to unleash a storm of indignation in Islamic countries, from Indonesia up to the Niger. Flags of western countries were burnt, embassies were attacked, churches were set on fire and even Christians murdered. A mob goaded by preachers of hatred exerted its fury on the West; everybody saw the pictures and everybody was affected. This was no longer Islamic terrorism; this was pure Islam with its inclination towards religious fanaticism and violence. The West was confused; we explained that we have a ‘liberty of press' and that the state has no influence over such things - another reason for Muslims to despise the West. Some countries even apologised without effect; other countries were contaminated by these protests, and ‘measures' became more and more absurd.

Anyhow it was interesting, that the protesting stopped when the case of Abdul Rahman was brought up – this means that the Media stopped reporting about the dispute. Here we have some extreme contrasts: on one hand some picture drawing, and on the other a human being taken prisoner?; on one hand some ‘religiously hurt feelings', and on the other the danger of an execution.

Somehow both events go hand in hand and reveal the real face of Islam, which is full of hate; and for which conversion to Christianity is a crime. At the other extreme is the case of Rahman, a Christian who was ready to die for his beliefs just as the young suicide bombers have been.

Some Consequences

•  Very often we start to appreciate our own principles and culture when others speak negatively about them. In connection with the cartoon dispute, which was obviously questioning Western values, it raised the following question among many secular people: What are our values? What is the Christian belief?

•  Internationally, we could observe a new ‘we-feeling' in the West, a sense of solidarity, where we realise that we have common roots, and that Christianity is obviously a part of this as well as the explanation of the term, tolerance. This became even more obvious, when a Christian brother was about to be executed for his beliefs, the same beliefs that we have.

•  Islam – until now was a problem in the Middle East or in the Balkans. People in the West noticed - some even for the first time - the global dimensions of Islam, and how unpredictable and strange it is. S hock waves from September 11 surfaced once again.

•  With these menacing fronts which come through Islam, the West experiences clearly the same things the state of Israel has been confronted with for many decades: An Islam which by all means wants to see the decline of the West, according to the Iranian president Ahmadinedschad recently. This, however, is only the beginning of the conflict that Europeans will have to face, both in this and the next generation. And if they don't fight this conflict with the same will to survive, they will lose. Sometime for sure, the Israelis will teach us their strategies, of how to survive.

•  For some Islamic governments these outbreaks of hatred from the masses came at the right time in order to divert attention from problems within their own countries. The Egyptian Nonie Darwish wrote: “Israel and the West became most useful enemies – scapegoats - through these dynamics. Arabic leaders prefer to accuse the Jews (or the West), instead of offering their own people better schools, streets, hospitals, housing, jobs and hope.”

It does not matter what you may call it; there is a confrontation on European land between two cultures, which are deeply marked by two exclusive religions where the end result cannot be figured out.

During the 16th and 17th century, Turkish Muslims stood at the doors of Vienna ready to Islamise Europe. They were beaten by an army, which was a mixture of nationalities and faiths, and they were forced to draw back. Today we can no longer use this method to halt Islam, because for example, for many years now, there have been over 3 million Muslims living in Germany.

How do we plan our encounter with Islam today ? This century-long theme cannot be considered in only a few lines; this will be the theme of another ‘Political Page'.

This is for sure: Western culture with its values, and Christianity with its confession of a triune God needs an awakening. Our identity crisis – illustrated perfectly through the discussion of the reference to God in the European constitution – faces the aggressive identity awareness of Islam. An ‘awakening' for Europe means that both culture and Christianity have to learn to advocate their point of view strongly against Islam, and thus, break the hypnotical snake-like enchantment the western world is trapped by, and in which it is ready to give in to Islam.

This specifically means: to be bold, to know our civil rights, and to make full use of protest towards a fearful renunciation of evil. To deal specifically with the fears of any Islamic reactions, to respect the tolerance of different people-groups, and to be intolerant to certain things where necessary i.e. to introduce Jesus to Muslims in a fearless and friendly way. To come together in lucid civil groups which both spiritually and in the media immediately fight any form of Islamic control, until the power of the spirit of Islam subsides in its form over our country, and that Germans can again dare to be Germans, and that Christians can be Christians. The guidelines for any engagement between culture (state, society) and churches (believers) in future will need: defensive awareness, friendly confrontation, and a firm defence of occidental freedom.

PRAYER

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

We can pray this word,

•  to confess our faith in Jesus,

•  to proclaim the Name of the living God loudly to the Islamic world, which considers the doctrine of the ‘Son of God' to be blasphemy.

•  to speak out the words of eternal life which the Spirit reveals to us regarding Islam and Muslims, especially over the people who we know.

The 4th Menace: The nuclear dispute with Iran

This menace may be the biggest of the four menaces for the whole world in the future; not because another emerging country is developing nuclear bombs, but because this country – similar to North Korea – is isolated politically and is unpredictable in its isolation.

INFORMATION

Iran's arguments for it's own nuclear program

  1. At present the nuclear powerplant capacity of this country achieves 41,000 Megawatts. For 2025 the requirement will increase to approx. 100,000 Megawatts. Will this country still sell its oil reserves, or do we have to look to other sources to cover the needs of our country? 20 new nuclear powerstations are to be built up in addition to existing ones – the reason for this is to protect itself from extortion. Teheran emphasizes over and over again that Iran will use its nuclear energy in a friendly way.
  2. Within a radius of 1000 km, Iran is surrounded by 4 nuclear powers, i.e. by countries, which are disposed to use nuclear weapons. China, India, Pakistan and Israel, and also by other countries, which are allied with the USA: On one side they have Afghanistan and on the other side the Arabic Gulf States. In the face of these facts some Iranian politicians consider nuclear armament to be an imperative – in other words in the ‘slipstream' of civil use.
  3. Iran belongs to those who have signed the Nuclear Weapons non-proliferation Treaty, respectively the Non-Distribution agreement. However this agreement explicitly allows the friendly use of nuclear energy by the Signatory countries. Therefore Iran insists on its 'chartered right' to develop its own nuclear program.
  4. Iran has always tried to achieve supremacy in the region of the Middle East. This was exerted through a military war with competing countries such as Iraq in 1979. Because of the collapse of Iraq, room has been made for a larger political power; especially because of this they can influence Iraq in a massive way through their Shi'ite brothers in faith, who represent the majority in that country. Its own nuclear armament would moreover strengthen Iran in that region.
  5. The question – which of course will not be put – is: if other emerging countries such as India and Pakistan are allowed to have nuclear weapons, why aren't we allowed to have them too, especially after the appreciation President Bush expressed towards India recently?
  6. After all, international disputes are useful for every government because they distract the attention of the people from things, which are lacking at home, towards the enemy abroad.

The only thing which is suspicious…

•  is that Iran is consequently disguising its nuclear program,

•  is that we have only recently discovered through information from exile groups (since 2002) about an extensive nuclear program, and found out that there are also 8 other plants in addition to the 5 existing plants.

•  is that for a three year period of time, Iran has mis-led the inspectors of the supervisory authority IAEO which was sent from Vienna.

•  is that international negotiations had only one purpose, to gain time for the construction of other plants.

•  In addition to this, the verbal attacks made against Israel by Ahmadinedschad, president of Iran ? made things more complicated when he said that Israel has to disappear from the map etc. a thing which finally turns the idea of a nuclear armed Iran into an total meltdown.

•  In addition to this, it is known that Iran is supporting terrorist organisations such as the Shi'ite Hisbollah against Israel, i.e. with money and weapons. Therefore fear is not without reason, because in some way fissionable material could be grasped by terrorist hands – an apocalyptic horror scenario, which is to be avoided by all means.

The Facts

Until 2002, it was known that Iran was running a light water reactor in Baschir and in the Persian Golf, which couldn't be used for military reasons. Uranium enrichment in comparison with this is a central technology for the production of nuclear warheads. In the process of enrichment they use a ‘gas centrifuge'. With this device, uranium can be enriched highly or lowly. Lowly enriched uranium (with a portion of a U-235 isotope of uranium of approx. 3-3.5%) is used for the production of fuel rods for the nuclear powerplants, while highly enriched uranium (with a portion of 80-90%) is used for the construction of nuclear weapons.

300 km away in the south of Teheran they built a 'pilot plant' with 1000 centrifuges, which can be placed on the surface. Underground, however, there is a bunker, which comprises of 50,000 pieces. If all these plants function, Iran could produce 400 - 500 kg of uranium, which could be used for the production of approx. 20 nuclear bombs. Only 164 centrifuges are supposed to be in Natanz right now. We thought it would take years for the Iranians to master the series connection of the centrifuges in order to produce uranium, which could be used for the production of weapons. On 24th March, Iran announced that their engineers had succeeded in connecting 164 centrifuges in a 'cascade', which means a quantum leap in Iranian technology. This means that the first nuclear bomb will be able to be produced in a reduced period of time, right down to 5 years from now. In addition we know that Iran already has 24 Shahab-3 missiles as carriers with a range of 1300 km – this is enough in order to reach Israel.

The course of action

Maybe it is impossible and even completely needless to describe all the ‘ducks and dives' here, which made negotiations so lengthy and frustrating. It was similar to a carnival where disguised dancers jump 3 steps forward and than 2 backwards on their way. Delays and excuses, then yielding and co-operation; then immediately afterwards, objections and blockades.

It was firstly in 2002 that the supervisors from the IAEO who were in Iran experienced this cat-and-mouse game. Then a Russian joint venture offered to do the uranium enrichment in Russia under certain control. First the answer was no, then yes, then no.

Then the ‘International Crisis Group' with the EU-3 (i. e. England, Germany, France), the USA, Russia and China as members made a proposal. It is this 3-phase-plan, which would allow Iran a 'delayed and limited enrichment' program in their own country.

Iran yielded in order to avoid a decision by the IAEO on 6th March, to bring the matter in front of the UN Security Council. The attempt remained unsuccessful, and the matter is being passed on to the Security Council. The Security Council has now the possibility to impose penalties. It can freeze foreign accounts and impose a travel interdiction for its government leader; it can stop international credits and investments and impose a trade embargo. Finally, the UN-Security Council can also order military action (e.g. through NATO). This option has not been excluded in previous discussions because it became obvious that Iran will only understand things the hard way. Recently, on 28th March the Vice Foreign Secretary Mahammadi made the following suggestion: That Iran was ready to accept the participation of other governments and companies in a nuclear program for the enrichment of uranium in Iran. They will be 'open and flexible regarding the arrangements…' We are anxious to see what this may mean practically.

Time is passing by quickly

After the successful cascade connection of the 164 centrifuges, everything is clear, time is running out. The community of states considers that the possession of nuclear bombs in the hands of the Mullahs, to be an obvious menace. Something has to be done. What can be done?

On the one hand a change of government in Iran is a possibility. Many Iranians are against the fundamentalistic narrowness of the president, and his statements against Israel; he has enemies even in the political establishment. On the other hand we hope they will be reasonable when the Security Council will impose penalties on them. But it is hard to gain Russia's and China's approval in this because Iran is a direct neighbour; both Russia, and China with its booming economy are interested in Iranian oil. Nevertheless, things seemed to move forward in New York. On 29th March the Security Council decided on a resolution which requires that Iran stop its nuclear program within 30 days. They didn't mention what will happen if Iran will not give in. The resolution remained unsuccessful due to China's and Russia's veto.

Anyhow, both the USA and Israel won't want to wait until Iran possesses its own nuclear bomb. If a military action will be necessary because Iran continues to construct their nuclear arsenal, it won't be a war like the one in Iraq but a well-directed military strike on the nuclear establishments. However, this one will be much harder than the one in Iraq in 1981 because the main manufacturing facilities are hidden in a bunker. Fortunately, Mossad, the Israeli secret service has its agents in Iranian society right up to the highest levels, also the American intelligence services benefit from this.

PRAYER

•  God loves Iran. Persia belongs to the very advanced civilizations of the ancient world. It was the Persian king Cyrus who in the year 538 B.C. restored the Babylonian kingdom by conquering the capital and who as a result allowed the Jews (and also other countries) to return to their country. God even calls him: ”my anointed one“ (Is. 45 v.1). Let us bless this country and pray it through to its calling. This isn‘t a word of destruction but a release (when we observe the actions of Cyrus).

•  We say to the spiritual powers, which are presently at work, through prayer to submit to the power of the true anointed one, Jesus Christ.

•  For the liberation of this country from the powerful rule and control of the Islamic Mullahs, who can hinder every attempt for reform according to their constitution; this country of liberty needs liberation.

•  The integration of this country into the ‘transparent' international rules for the development of nuclear programs for peaceful purposes. For the end of high-level uranium enrichment for weaponry. For penalties to be in place, and war to be avoided.

Sources: Fischers Weltalmanach 06, Berliner Zeitung 4. März 06; Frankfurter Allg. Sonntagszeitung 18.12.2005; FAZ 14.2., 21.2., 23.2., 28.2., 25.3., 29.3.,; Rhein. Merkur Nr. 5,8,9; Vertrauliche 21.2., 1.3.2006.

Ortwin Schweitzer