John R. Houk
© February 22, 2012
Here is an essay by Obadiah Shoher that questions the theme of a Clash of Civilizations causes animosity between cultures that are divergent in what is important. Shoher believes the bloodiest wars of recent history have been wars of inter-homogenous cultures. For example WWI was the battling primarily between the Brits, France, Russians and America versus Germany, Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire. Actually Shoher didn’t choose war and you can see why. The inter-cultural thing was between five European powers that included the Muslim Ottoman Turks. Shoher’s central theme can easily be re-worked though. After all the Ottomans were of a divergent culture that joined two European powers against the initial allies of Britain, France and Russia. The then weak Ottomans had a National Interest thing going in that if Russia prevailed on its front, the next target would be the Ottoman Empire because Russia was considered the religious spokesperson for the Orthodox Church and there were a significant amount of Greek Orthodox Christians residing in Western Turkey at the time of WWI. Not to mention it would be quite the feather in the cap of Russia if Istanbul was retaken and given its original name again; i.e. Constantinople. The Muslims would be kicked out of the Christian built Hagia Sophia that was desecrated and converted into a Mosque by conquering Ottoman Muslims in 1453.
Shoher’s primary example of a homogenous culture fighting amongst themselves is WWII. It was a war between Europeans that stretched the globe. Again it may be argued that Japan had an Asian culture that clashed with European culture; however if you examine Japanese history there are amazing similarities of phases that included something comparable to European medievalism and Japan was quicker to modernize their culture than other Asian cultures making Japanese Asian culture competitive with European expertise in industrialization and scientific advancement.
The fault I find with Shoher’s hypothesis that a Clash of Civilizations is a non sequitur to wars in his focus on the environment of people rather than that which people believe. The level of passion that people have for what they believe is where the clash occurs.
Here are some examples
The internecine religious wars of Europe were a clash between the beliefs of Protestantism and Roman Catholicism.
Eighteenth century revolutionary wars within the American Colonies clashing with Britain and within France were clashes of New World thinking and Old World European thinking. The former established the American experiment in personal Liberty from the whims of government and the later much bloodier revolution established the evolution of Secularism over Christianity in European governments.
WWII like so many wars originating on a European scale was a clash between nations desiring to protect their national sovereignty from Hitler’s Nazi ideology believing that Germanic/Nordic culture was the master race desiring a European empire.
The Cold War was a clash between the concept of American Liberty and Capitalism with Soviet godless Communism.
Nazi genocide of Jews sealed the deal of a Jewish State that had been promised from 1917 that coalesced in a war of Jewish survival clashing with Islamic Supremacism in 1948.
There is a good global argument that European exploitation in nations that desire the rule of law to be based on Sharia Law caused a sense of non-Muslims taking resources from areas that are steeped in Islamic Supremacism. Resource exploitation is bad enough; however in the mind of the Muslim such exploitation extends to insulting the superiority of Islam over non-Muslim beliefs. Initially this European exploitation reawakened a Pan-Arab unity movement to expel European control of Muslim Middle Eastern and Muslim Maghreb (North Africa) areas. The existence of Israel was viewed as part of that European exploitation because in the mind of theopolitical Islam, once Islam has dominated an area it is blasphemy to surrender land to the control of non-Muslims even if that land is a non-threatening sliver of land in comparison to the rest of Muslim world that views itself with an Arab legacy.
Early Pan-Arabism was actually secular minded with Sharia Law as the foundation for the rule of law. However, in the early days of Pan-Arabism shortly after WWI and the Ottomans lost control of Muslim people that considered themselves as Arabs, there began a movement to look back on the purity and example of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed. This movement is what we describe as Radical Islam today because of the insistence to follow the dictates of the Quran, Hadith and Sira concerning lifestyle and relations with non-Muslims.
The irony for Pan-Arabism is that the constant invasions of independent Israel that resulted in constant losses, the secularist portion became divisive in an Arab unity movement. These constant invasions resulted in the mutual displacement of Arabs in independent Israel and Jews that had lived for centuries in the Muslim Middle East and the Muslim Maghreb. Arabs fled Israel believing the bloodlust of invading Arab armies assumed they would be returning after the Jews were wiped off the earth. Jews did not flee their Middle Eastern and Maghreb homes; rather they were expelled because of the humiliation of tiny Israel beating the snot out of the invading armies. These expelled Jews were forced to leave with the clothes on their back leaving possessions and property behind ala Nazi policy minus the Concentration Camps.
Shoher would have us believe that the conflict between Jewish Israel and the surrounding ocean of Muslims is a conflict based on homogeneity. I disagree. Modern Israel has a culture based on the evolution of the European rule of law which in turn is based on the influence of ancient Greece, ancient Rome and Judeo-Christianity. Israel is a secular State that is established as a safe haven for Jews that had their origins in the Land of Israel way before Mohammed was born.
My conclusion is there is a Clash of Civilizations between Western Culture (more so with American Culture) and Islamic Culture. It is inevitable the culture clash will lead to confrontation unless a transformation movement happens widely inside Islamic Culture or (God Forbid!) Western Culture so weakened by secularism begins to allow Islamic Cultural tenets to be infused into the West.
Obadiah Shoher believes that his concept that Israelis and the Arab-Muslim people are not so different because they are homogenous that a violent war will ultimately take place. He does not say this but the 21st century bloody war between Israel and Jew-hating Muslims could very well be a nuke war.
I DO CONCUR with Obadiah Shoher’s ultimate conclusion between Israel and the Arabs that call themselves Palestinians. The best way for peace within Israel is to transfer Arab Jew-hating Muslims out of all the land controlled by Israel. That would be Judea-Samaria dubbed the West Bank by once occupying Jordan and the retaking of the Gaza Strip to include those that launch rockets into Israeli cities.
I believe such a transfer exacerbate a final Clash of Civilizations. It is time to place a chink in the armor of Islamic Supremacism to end the Islamic terrorism that occurs on Western soil in the name of Allah and Mohammed’s example.