According to Simon Barrett of International Media Intelligence Analysis, despite President Ahmadinejad of Iran’s sudden release of the 15 British sailors taken by force in the Shatt-al-Arab waterway and held for 13 days, the regime has not changed its confrontational ways.
Within the last 18 months, the president has stated, “We don’t shy away from declaring that Islam is ready to rule the world” and “The real cure for the [Middle East] conflict is elimination of the Zionist regime.” It comes as no surprise that a man who questions what historians know to be true—the Nazi Holocaust did bring unspeakably violent death to approximately 6 million innocent Jewish men, women, and children—should stand ready to obliterate the State of Israel.
As we have noted many times before in this blog and elsewhere, ideological fervor is often at the root of violence, planned or accomplished. President Ahmadinejad is preparing for the return of the Shiite messiah, the Mahdi, and considers Islam “a universal ideology that leads the world to justice.” Yet, the justice he envisions for the Israelis is far from that practiced by the original model of submission to God’s will (“islam”), Abraham, the father of Isaac and Ishmael.
These themes remind me of a conversation I had several years ago with a Palestinian tour guide at the Haram al-Sharif or Temple Mount in Jerusalem. I asked when he expected the Mahdi would come. He cautioned me sternly saying that I should not ask such a question, adding, “only the God, He is knowing.” In this he reflected the words of Jesus when He was asked similar questions in Jerusalem—“when will these things be? And what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?” His reply—“of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”
As covered extensively in my book, Identity, Ideology and the Future of Jerusalem, the Haram/Temple Mount is respected by Jews, Christians and Muslims. Sari Nusseibeh, president of Al-Quds University, the only Arab university in Jerusalem, has written about the way to peace, using the ancient site as a model. He explains that for Muhammad there was but one faith, not three monotheistic systems. Muhammad viewed Judaism, Christianity and Islam as manifestations of this primary religion in their own time. Seeking out commonality through mutual respect of origins, Nusseibeh proposes:
[T]he more we see ourselves as belonging to different religions—the more monotheism is a tritheism—the harder the chances for reconciliation, and the more Jerusalem will be a potential source of diffusion and destruction. . . . It will be a source of unity, on the other hand, and will shine as the true jewel it is, if it made [sic] us aware of the unity of our faith. If the unity of our faith is properly perceived as I have described, then our respective claims on Jerusalem as our political capitals can be regarded as a celebration of this unity, rather than as a point of selfish contention between two ethno-centric tribes.
Perhaps the Iranian president could arrange to meet the wise and moderate former PLO chief representative in Jerusalem (2001-2), Sari Nusseibeh.