One way or the other, Israel is to blame for all of the Middle East’s problems, claim many leading Muslims.
Consider the logic of the highly respected Dr. Ahmed al-Tayeb—once voted the “most influential Muslim in the world”— as expressed during a televised interview. After claiming that “the genocides perpetrated by the Zionist entity” prompt aggrieved Muslims to turn to terrorism, he added:
[T]here would never have been any problem [had Israel not existed]. The Middle East and the region would have progressed, and the Arab individual would have been like any other person in the world, enjoying a good life, or at least enjoying the right to live in peace. However, this is… Allah willing, if we have time, I will explain how come this place was selected in the days of British colonialism, and how a most devious and malicious plot was hatched to plunge this dagger into the body of the Arab world, so that it would remain sick [emphasis added].
Thus, for those unconvinced by the “grievance” myth—that Israel “provokes” Muslims to resort to terrorism—Tayeb offers another angle: Israel itself is the creator and controller of Islamic terrorism. Continues the well-respected imam:
Recently, I’m sad to say, we had to swallow a dose of poison. It is manifest in our own preoccupation with our own [infighting], while the [Zionist] entity can relax. All we hear about is Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, whatever, the “Arab Spring,” or the “Arab Hell”… Has anybody heard anything about Israel or the Zionist entity recently? Has it occurred to people that this might be premeditated?
In other words, that Arab/Muslim nations everywhere are experiencing internal turmoil and fighting one another—while the Jewish/infidel state is left to “relax”—must be proof that the latter is controlling events behind the scenes.
Such are the conspiracy theories that top ranked Muslim clerics, above and beyond al-Tayeb, regularly disseminate throughout the Muslim world.
For the record, I am not one to dismiss what are labeled “conspiracy theories” out of hand—since to believe that there are no conspiracies and that whatever the powers-that-be think or do is “transparent” and will be reported to the average citizen is also irrational. The problem, however, with this conspiracy theory is that, just as Islamic doctrine and history gainsay the grievance accusation against Israel, so do they gainsay the “Israel as puppet master” claim.
For starters, beginning with the Sunni/Shia split that traces back to 656, Muslims have been at each other’s throats for 1,292 years before the creation of Israel in 1948. There’s a reason that Shias are so associated as to be conflated with the doctrine of taqiyya: for centuries, Shia minorities living amid Sunni majorities had to pretend to be Sunnis or else risk being slaughtered.
But there has been plenty of Sunni on Sunni violence as well—always justified in the context or pretext of who is more “pious” and upholds Sharia: the Persianized Abbasid caliphate slaughtered and ousted its Arab predecessor, the Umayyad caliphate; both were Sunnis. Sunni Turks—most notable among them the Seljuks—overran the Abbasid caliphate. Ottoman Turks and Mamluks—both Sunnis—slaughtered each other for centuries. African Almoravids invaded and overthrew Andalusia’s Muslim rulers—only to be later slaughtered and overthrown by other African jihadis, the Almohads; all were Sunni. The mighty Timur—who despite modern apologias is portrayed in Islamic sources as a pious Muslim—slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Muslims, both Sunni and Shia.
One can go on but the point should be clear. Even so, during his conspiratorial rant, Tayeb added that, “If you looked for a logical reason for what is going on among us Arabs, you wouldn’t find any. Nor would you find a reason for what is going on among Muslims—between us and Iran and Turkey. Isn’t Iran a Muslim country? Isn’t Turkey a Muslim country? Why do we fight one another? Ultimately, this serves the interests of the well-known [Zionist] entity.”
But what was the “logical reason”—aside from simple power grabbing on the pretext of Islamic piety and jihad against apostates/heretics—between the years 656 to the birth of Israel in 1948 behind the nonstop Muslim infighting that left millions of Muslims dead and caused, to quote Tayeb, the Arab world to “remain sick”? As for Turkey and Iran, they waged about a dozen brutal wars between the 16th and 19th centuries alone; they left countless dead and indescribable destruction in their wake.
Rather than continue to blame the 70-year-old Jewish state for what Muslims have been doing to each other for nearly fourteen centuries, it is high time for Islam’s leaders to engage in a bit of self-reflection and introspection—if such a thing is possible.