A return to Andalusia by Yoram Ettinger
The collapse of Israeli-Palestinian agreements from the 1993 Oslo Accords until today stems from the fact that both Israeli and U.S. leaders ignore the real root of the conflict. The heart of the conflict is the denial of a non-Muslim entity's existence – namely, Israel – on land that, in the eyes of many Muslims, is "holy land" that belongs to them, and not any issue with Israel’s size or borders.
On Jan. 9, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, a close associate of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, stressed that all Israeli territory was Muslim "holy land," had been since 637 C.E., and would be forever. The mufti made his comments at a rally for Fatah, which Abbas heads, that was broadcast on the official state television station. The mufti also called for the killing of Jews to hasten the Islamic Resurrection. His sentiments have become rooted in the Palestinian consciousness, with the help of the Palestinian Authority educational system, as a poll from July 2011 shows. Conducted by liberal-democratic American pollster Stanley Greenberg, an associate of former President Bill Clinton and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the poll found that 73 percent of Palestinians viewed killing Jews as a springboard to Judgment Day. On March 27, 2010, Abbas declared: "Jerusalem and all its surrounding areas are holy lands promised by Allah. We must do everything we can to save them from the Jewish threat."
This principle of "holy land" is permanent, and is stronger than any leader or passing policy, and it applies to any land that was ever under Islamic control. It is an inseparable part of the legacy of Muhammad and Islamic law, as evidenced by the Muslim Brotherhood's recent ascent to power. They view Allah, the Koran, the Prophet Muhammad, jihad and martyrdom as the goal, the law, the leader, the way and the exalted aspiration. Their loyalty to the "holy land" obligates Muslims to "holy war" and the restoration of sovereignty in the Philippines, Thailand, parts of China, Kashmir, Chechnya, Israel, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Spain, Portugal and elsewhere.
The centrality of "holy land" in the Muslim experience can be understood from the example of Andalusia, the Arabic name for most of the Iberian Peninsula, which was under Islamic rule from 711-1492 C.E. The Muslim Golden Age did not take place between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea, but rather in Andalusia, especially in the Alhambra palace/fortress in Granada. At the beginning of the 8th century, the Muslims conquered the Iberian Peninsula, southern France, Sicily and the Italian coastline and declared it "Islam's home." In 1492, Spain was liberated from the control of Muslims, who today still view "Andalusia" as their "holy land." Muslim terrorist plots in Madrid in March 2004 killed 191 people and wounded around 1,800. The attack intended to correct the "injustice of Andalusia." Saudi Arabia is constructing the second largest mosque in the world in Cordoba, the former capital of Andalusia, while mosques are springing up like mushrooms all over Spain.
Efraim Karsh, a professor of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean Studies at King's College in London, in his book "Islamic Imperialism" (Yale University Press, 2007), says: "In 1980, there was a huge map on which large parts of what was then Soviet Central Asia and China's Xinjiang Province were labeled 'Temporarily Occupied Muslim Territory.’ Dr. Yusuf Qaradawi, a spiritual guide of the Muslim Brothers [said] the city of Hirqil [Constantinopol] will be conquered first … The other city Romiya, Rome ... we hope and believe that it too will be conquered … That means that Islam will return to Europe as a conqueror."
Recognition of foreign sovereignty over Muslim "holy land" amounts to humiliation, betrayal and servitude for Arabs and Muslims. The Treaty of Hudaybiyya from 628 C.E. set a precedent for the "phased plan," or for signing tactical agreements that temporarily relinquish "holy land," but never abandon the overarching, permanent strategy of reclaiming it all at a later stage.
Continuing the policy of negotiating "land for peace" plays into the hands of our enemies and dooms us to repeat past mistakes. It ignores the roots of Arab hostility, raises Arab expectations and exacerbates violence and terrorism in the region.