Unveiled: The Two Faces of Islam

Which is the true face of radical Islam—the coat and tie or mask and fatigues? No 

matter what the attire, the goal remains the same: the eradication of Jews, Christians and all those who do not embrace radical Islam. 

The two faces appear contradictory, but they’re not. They represent two strategies with one goal which is known as jihad or holy war. For the well-dressed radical jihadist, a close shave (for some), or silk suit and tie is 21st-century battle gear for waging diplomatic jihad. For others the uniform consists of masks and fatigues and their tools are guns and machetes.

"Our negotiations with world powers are a source of national pride," said Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. During the Iran-Iraq War, our “brave generals stood against the enemy on the battlefield. Today, our diplomatic generals defend us in the field of diplomacy. This, too, is jihad."

Diplomatic jihad is but one prong of the long-term global strategy to influence, infiltrate and defeat the West, including Israel. Its diplomatic initiative gained momentum due to jihadists’ frustration with Western military might, which they see as a deterrence to their plan to reestablish a caliphate by violent means, and then supplant all other religions with radical, Sharia based, Islam.

From as early as the mid-’60s, the goal of the PLO has been the “liberation of Palestine.” Radicals have embraced armed struggle to accomplish this goal which, of course, means the destruction of Israel. During its first 10 years, the PLO pursued this goal in a bloody terrorist war. But after the Arab armies’ defeat in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, PLO leader Yasser Arafat understood that violent terrorism alone was not achieving the desired results so he incorporated a new strategy into the struggle – public diplomacy. Arafat realized that terrorist brutality was not good for public relations and would gain him no friends from the outside Western world. To gain legitimacy and delegitimize Israel, Arafat deliberately launched diplomatic and political offensives using terrorism as the springboard. Arafat’s efforts peaked at his 1974 address at the United Nations where he presented the PLO as peace-seeking freedom fighters with legitimate claims, and gained observer status in the world body. Mahmoud Abbas (a.k.a Abu Mazen) is both the current PLO chairman and the president of the Palestinian Authority and he is building upon Arafat’s plan and methods.

The “aha” moment for radical Islam is not new. It is deeply embedded in radical Islamic ideology which includes the eradication of Christians and Jews and all others who do not embrace radical Islamic teachings. It is generally accepted that there are basically six tracks of the jihadist master plan: economic jihad such as Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaigns against Israel (known as BDS); ideological jihad including “jihad of the pen” and penetrating academia; political jihad; intelligence jihad by infiltrating a country’s institutions; subversive jihad to sap a country’s defenses from within while protected by its laws such as freedom of speech in the United States; and diplomatic jihad to manipulate foreign policy. Militant or radical Islamists have become masters at directing such operations and implementing these subversive takeover plans.

From this foundation stem the multiple faces of militant Islam. Compare this to Israel, which has never called for undermining or destroying the Palestinian people or questioned their right to exist. Radical Islam demands slave-like adherence to its brutal ideology abhorring diversity, freedom of religion and critical thinking. On the other hand,  Arabs living within Israel’s borders enjoy the rights and privileges of democracy including freedom of religion, free speech and free choice.

The Israel-Arab conflict is ultimately a clash between two worldviews—a result of irreconcilable foundational precepts. Any initiative to tackle the Israel-Palestinian equation requires discerning their respective foundational documents, and exposing and addressing the on-the-ground applications. Those who use diplomacy for peace—not jihad—would do well to consider this premise.