Ramadan Shalah, the leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror organization, which is funded, armed and controlled by Iran, lamented at a recent conference in Tehran that Jews love the disputed city of Jerusalem more than Palestinians and Muslims do, according to the Times of Israel, citing a recording of the conference obtained by Israel’s Army Radio.
Shalah cited a popular Hebrew folk song, “Jerusalem of Gold,” by Naomi Shemer, which was released just before the Six Day War in 1967 and amended after Israel’s victory. “Learn from the Jews, from that accursed entity [Israel]. They love Jerusalem not just as a military matter, but as a cultural one…Every Israeli child and every accursed Israeli soldier says this song in their heart,” he complained.
No doubt Shalah meant to exhort his audience to greater levels of commitment to the cause. Yet there is truth in his observation, a backhanded acknowledgment that Jews’ attachment to Jerusalem is far stronger than that of Muslims. The simple fact is that while all three great monotheistic religions regard Jerusalem as holy, only Jews regard it as the most holy. For Muslims, Mecca and Medinah are more important, in that order, than “Al-Quds.”
If you want proof of this, you need look no further than the prayers offered by Muslims on the Temple Mount. While Jews always face the Holiest of Holies–thought to be somewhere in the vicinity of the Dome of the Rock today–Muslims always face the Ka’abah in Mecca. It is a most peculiar sight, for a Jew, to see Muslims facing away from the Dome of the Rock, from some angles. It is a gesture of rejection of one site in favor of another.
There is another sense in which Shalah is correct. Radical Islam subsists on the belief that the terrorists’s desire for death is stronger than the west’s desire for life. The democracies of the Judeo-Christian world breed a kind of soft contentment that is unable to sustain prolonged conflict. Therefore whatever setbacks radical Islam must suffer now, it will always triumph in the end. (The recent pattern of U.S. withdrawals tend to confirm that view.)
But what Shalah is noticing is that the preference for peace only goes so far. And from a strategic point of view, a society that protects life is stronger than one that raises its young people to be martyrs–provided there are enough brave people willing to risk themselves so that others may live. That willingness, in turn, depends on a moral self-confidence that Israel has maintained in spite of terror. No wonder Islamic Jihad is worried.