Peace in the Middle East is impossible as long as radicals in the Islamic world persist in the “intellectual suicide” of insisting that Jews have no right to exist there, a leading Mideast analyst says.
In an exclusive Newsmax.TV interview, Robert Reilly also contends that President Barack Obama’s effort to appease Israel’s enemies in the Muslim world makes peace even less likely.
The Muslim world views the president’s efforts to apologize for America’s past actions as a “sign of weakness” that has failed to sway popular opinion about his policies in the Arab world, says Reilly, author of “The Closing of the Muslim Mind: How Intellectual Suicide Created The Modern Islamist.”
“I don’t think that approach is working,” Reilly says. “His own decline in the opinion polls in the Middle East more or less indicate that.”
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Obama’s decision to distance the United States from Israel to curry favor with the Arab and Muslim world has been “interpreted as an opportunity for them to become more aggressive and more provocative in their attempts to delegitimize . . . Israel,” says Reilly, whose career includes being senior adviser to the Iraqi Ministry of Information, director of Voice of America, and a special assistant to the president in the Reagan administration.
Reilly believes the president’s failure to stand with Israel when Turkey tried to break the blockade of Gaza was the most “egregious” example of this.
“We are creating opportunities for Israel’s enemies to become more aggressive, and that’s a big mistake,” Reilly tells Newsmax.TV.
Reilly contends that the fight among Muslims, Israel, and the West rises primarily from theological rather than political sources. So political and economic programs cannot resolve this clash of civilizations unless the theological causes are addressed.
He believes the discord dates to a ninth-century Islamic theological civil war that pitted a group known as the Mu’tazlis, who favored a reasoned approach to their religion, against a group known as the Ash’arites, who rejected human ability to understand God and the universe.
The latter group won the struggle and ended the Mu’tazlis’ efforts for a reasoned approach to Islam.
“As Benedict XVI said in his Regensburg address, ‘acting unreasonably is against God’; therefore, using violence to promote religion would be against God,” Reilly says.
But the Ash’arites created an Islam that views God as above reason, Reilly says.
“And at the end of that trail, we end up with that notorious statement by Abdullah Azzam, who was one of Osama bin Laden’s spiritual mentors, . . . saying, ‘Terrorism is an obligation in Allah’s religion.’
“You get from a religion of pure will to terrorism being a religious obligation.”
Radical Islam’s repudiation of reason, he says, explains why Islamists such as bin Laden and the Muslim Brotherhood have been able to convince many Muslims to believe that their civilization lost its glories because it “left the path of God” and that war with the West and their own “apostate regimes” is the only way to regain it.
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