May 12, 2010 Special Dispatch No. 2948

Arab Member of Israeli Knesset Calls for Establishing a Great Islamic Caliphate that Will Include Israel

May 12, 2010
Special Dispatch No. 2948

In an interview with the weekly Kul Al-Arab, which is published in Israel, Mas'oud Ghanaim, member of the United Arab List (Ra'am-Ta'al) in the Israeli Knesset, from the southern branch of the Islamic Movement, called for establishing a Great Islamic Caliphate that will include Israel, and said that all means were valid for defending Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa mosque. Ghanaim also expressed support for the Iran-Syria-Hizbullah axis, and called for recognizing the legitimacy of the Hamas government in Gaza.

The following are excerpts from the interview:[1]

Israel Must Be Part of the Great Islamic Caliphate

"...Q: As an Islamist, do you believe that there is a need to establish an Islamic state or Islamic regime in Palestine and in the Arab and Islamic homeland?

"A: There is a need for the return of the Islamic Caliphate, and I think that this is the ideal solution to the weakness, collapse, and crumbling afflicting the Arabs and Muslims... I think that a [new] Islamic caliphate is [also] in the interest of the Jews themselves, since their golden age as Jews came during the [medieval] Islamic Caliphate.

"Q: What are your conclusions about our people's Nakba [i.e. the results of the 1948 war], and what is the solution?"

"A: We, as an Islamic movement, present a view that is different, and an interpretation that is different, from those of the other parties regarding the reasons and circumstances of the Nakba. We do not focus on external elements such as colonialism and occupation, nor [do we focus] geographically only on Palestine. In our view, the Nakba is the result of the weakness and collapse of the overall Islamic body, and therefore we must not isolate ourselves [from the rest of the Muslim world], and must strengthen the Islamic body and entity."

"Q: What is to be Israel's fate in such a situation?"

"A: Israel must be part of the great Islamic state. We are not against the Jews, just against the Zionist movement and its racist ideas. But we must not forget our responsibility [for our fate] and the causes of the Nakba..."

All Means Are Valid in Defending Al-Aqsa

"Q: Have you done anything concrete regarding Al-Aqsa [mosque]?"

"A: Of course. I went there, and we met with those in charge of religious endowments, and with the mufti. It is our obligation as MKs to do this. This official political activity complements the popular activity in the field. I have corresponded with [Israeli] ministers and with the prime minister [on this matter]. I said in the Knesset that as Muslims we have the right to Al-Aqsa. Sheikh Raed [Salah, head of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel] was arrested for calling on people to defend Al-Aqsa, and I demanded [to defend Al-Aqsa] from the Knesset podium..."

"Q: Does that mean that the struggle [over Al-Aqsa] must be carried out by peaceful means?"

"A: ...We must not relinquish any means. We are a popular, public movement before we are MKs. The Knesset is no substitute [for popular activity], and is not a matter of principle for us [to be in the Knesset]. If we assess our Knesset activity and it turns out that we are not serving our interests, we may resign. When I talk of our struggle, [I do not mean] only [the struggle] for Al-Aqsa, but [also for] land for construction and for the prisoners... There is no contradiction between the popular and public activity for Al-Aqsa and my activity as an MK. I demanded that the prime minister [allow us] to tour the area beneath Al-Aqsa in order to study the situation."

"Q: You mean, you agree with the northern branch [of the Islamic movement in Israel] that Al-Aqsa is in danger?"

"A: Of course Al-Aqsa is in danger. We must see Al-Aqsa as part of the entire domain of Jerusalem and of what happens within it. Today, there is Judaization of Jerusalem, and Al-Aqsa is part of these matters. The government is also encouraging and facilitating extremist groups in the matter of [re]building the [Jewish] Temple, which endangers Al-Aqsa. In my opinion, Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa are both in danger, as long as Jerusalem is occupied..."

Support for Iran-Syria-Hizbullah Axis, Legitimization of Hamas Government

"Q: If Iran is attacked by [an alliance that includes] Arab states, which side will you take?

"A: I am against any aggression and any alliance that do not promote the Arab interest. I am on the side of justice. The Iran-Syria-Hizbullah axis represents the policy of resistance and non-capitulation, so naturally I am with this axis."

"Q: Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and the U.S. are waging a campaign against Hamas. What is your position on this?

"A: The PA must represent the aspirations of the Palestinian people, and therefore must return to [the people]. My position, and the position of the Islamic Movement, is that [there must be a] reconciliation between the Palestinian factions... The Hamas movement was right to participate in the elections, and it was the attempt to annul the outcome [of the elections] that led to the existing schism. Israel and the U.S. must respect the will of the Palestinian people."

"Q: Do you think that what happened in Gaza was a coup, or a legitimate [move on the part of Hamas] to restore [its] rights?"

"A: I would have preferred it if these events had not occurred, because the murders that accompanied them [i.e. murders of Fatah members by Hamas] harmed the Hamas movement. The Palestinian cause would have benefited if [the government turnover] had taken place peacefully, and if Hamas had shown restraint.

"Q: Do you see Turkey's role [in the region] as [a source of] deliverance for us [Palestinians]?"

"A: I do not believe in waiting for a messiah. We must not [pin our hopes] on deliverance from a [particular] individual. [Turkish Prime Minister] Erdogan [is one who] sets an example and solves people's problems, and that's [what] Islam [is about]. His Justice and Development [party] represents a realistic Islam that has an accurate view of reality... Erdogan acts in a realistic manner, based on Islamic views that are solid yet flexible.

"Q: What is your view on Hizbullah?"

"A: Hizbullah served as a safety valve [preserving] internal peace in Lebanon. Hassan Nasrallah successfully combined political and religious discourse... I [regard] Hizbullah as a model for a political party that assigns a special place to religious discourse as part of the overall political discourse..."

"Q: Could your party include Christian members?"

"A: Yes, because our program is political, not religious. We do not [promote] a sectarian [kind of] Islam, but a comprehensive cultural discourse that is broad enough [to include] everyone. I would like to have a Christian partner in building the Islamic culture."

[1] Kul Al-'Arab (Israel), May 7, 2010.

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