There is no question that religion plays a part in the war happening in Israel today, but the question is: how much are those ancient texts influencing the actions of people in this conflict?
You could be forgiven for thinking this war boils down to Muslim v Jew, but you’d be wrong. You’d be forgiven for thinking this, however, because there are loud, powerful and well-financed voices trying to convince you of such. The division has always been the goal of a corrupt leadership. Let’s take a step back and examine Hamas. The Pentagon recently released a statement saying: “Iran has a significant relationship with Hamas in terms of funding, training, and support, and so again in that regard they certainly bear some responsibility.”
Iran is not only funding Hamas, but also Hezbollah and other terrorist groups in Iraq, Syria, Bahrain and elsewhere throughout the Middle East, sowing death, destruction and instability in the region. The Islamic Republic of Iran is not only known for funding terrorism abroad. Due to the current revolution sparked by the death of Mahsa Amini, the world can now see how the people of Iran are its first victims. What you see there is the good people of a nation opposing the brutality of the totalitarian Islamic theocracy that perpetuates tyranny against them and against other innocent people across the Middle East.
What is happening in Iran is a microcosm for what is happening across the globe. Good people from all religions and all ethnicities are opposing the terrorist regimes that tyrannise them and their neighbours. The war in Israel is another example of that same phenomenon. It is a war between humanists and terrorists: humanists from both religions and from both Israel and Gaza, are calling for peace. Only the voices of terrorists are calling for continued conflict. Only the voices of terrorist sympathisers and their useful idiots are chanting “from the river to the sea” “Khaybar, Khaybar” “Gas the Jews” and other genocidal slogans.
I am the co-founder and co-director of a group called The CLARITy Coalition. My co-founder and co-director is a practising Muslim man named Zuhdi Jasser. His family fled to the US from Syria because of religious extremism. I am what is commonly referred to as an “ex-Muslim”. I was raised as a Muslim and renounced the religion in my mid-twenties. According to Islamic law practised in just over a dozen Muslim-majority countries, the punishment for being a free thinker is execution. According to the laws of his religion, Zuhdi and I should be mortal enemies. We should not be standing side-by-side co-founding and co-directing a coalition — but we are. We are because we have both chosen to put our shared humanity above any religious differences. And we are not alone.
Our coalition has Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Hindu and atheist members. I am sure there are other faiths represented, but I have never asked. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that we are aligned in our shared goal of working together towards freedom and humanity and against the propaganda and violence of groups such as Hamas.
We recognise that Islamists such as Hamas are a danger to all of us individually and to humanity at large. We are against the tyranny of all Islamists, whether it be the fancy ones in sharp suits and designer dresses that you’ll find in the governments of almost every Western country or the violent ones that engage in terrorism across the globe. They wear different clothing yet espouse the same ideology, and we oppose them all.
Hamas likes to act as if it is a product of the Palestinian people, the Gazan resistance (against a government that has not occupied their land in almost 20 years). However, it is nothing but another terrorist organisation draped in a different flag. It stands alongside Islamic State in its ethos and actions. Raheel Raza, from an organisation called Council for Muslims Against Antisemitism, has this to say about the group: “Hamas, as an evil terrorist entity, has no regard for human life whether it be Palestinian or Israeli, not sparing the elderly, women, children and innocent civilians. Their first PR act was to change the narrative from Hamas v Israel to the Palestinians v Israel and now, in order to get support from other terrorist organisations like the Taliban and Hezbollah while further confusing the Muslims, they are fast and furiously turning this into a religious war, ie Muslims v Jews.”
Raza is another member of the CLARITy Coalition, and another Muslim who doesn’t think I should be killed for renouncing Islam. She not only does not hate Jewish people, she founded a non-profit specifically to fight against antisemitism stemming from Muslim communities. Although she is Muslim, she is a humanist first. She stands alongside her Jewish brothers and sisters and all others who stand against the terrorist organisation Hamas and its proxies.
In the overwhelming darkness of the past couple of weeks, it is hard to see the light. Jewish members of our coalition feel grateful to know that they have a community around them fighting alongside them against the evil that has stolen children from their parents and parents from their children. We know the darkness because we all lived alongside it whether it was in Syria, Pakistan, Iran or the United States. Growing up in Muslim families and communities means that we are familiar with the forces of terrorists and extremists that have tyrannised anyone and everyone who dares to disagree with their message of hate and violence.
As another member, Helayne Kushner, puts it: “The ideology that has killed and entrapped our Middle Eastern, North African and south-west Asian brothers and sisters has infiltrated our own Western shores and is vying desperately for the obedience and hearts of the common man.
“This is not just a Jewish problem that can be solved by eliminating Israel and my people.”
Helayne is absolutely correct, of course. As usual, Jews are the canaries in the coal mine. Islamists and Islamic terrorists are raping and slaughtering Jewish people today, but their thirst for blood will not end there. Top Hamas official Sheikh Ahmad Bahar has made this clear in one of his sermons that he delivered in a mosque: “Oh, Allah, destroy the Jews and their supporters, the Americans and their supporters. Oh, Allah, count them one by one, and kill them all, without leaving a single one.” That includes you.
Clearly, their cult of death sees the world as us vs them. They have that division correct. It is us, those who value freedom and humanity, vs them, those who value violence and death. They play a lot of duplicitous games and speak with a forked tongue to obfuscate and confuse the masses. But the sight of a young woman grotesquely sprawled on the back of a truck while vile men spit on her should bring everything into sharp focus. We all need to recognise our common enemy, come together, and push back against it once and for all.
Yasmine Mohammed is the author of Unveiled: How Western Liberals Empower Radical Islam and the founder and president of the non-profit organisation Free Hearts Free Minds.