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"if the Left casts its lot with Islamists, the Left should expect a cloak and dagger play"

Opinion: Woe to the Left If It Allies with Islamists!

How could reactionary Palestinian American Islamists be in alliance with the progressive political Left? They make such strange bedfellows.

The first time I was aware of that affinity was when Edward Said, the late famous progressive Palestinian American academic, visited Beirut, Lebanon, in summer 2000. That year, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) withdrew from Southern Lebanon after twenty-two years of occupation. During his visit, Said gave a speech at a standing-room only theater in the Lebanese capital, hosted by Leftist political parties in Beirut. He talked about the important role of Islamists as exponents of change in the Arab and Islamic world, and he focused on what he called the important role of the Islamist intellectual as a leader of positive change (paraphrased).

This author, who was in attendance, was shocked at the unexpected drastic change in the position of Said whom he had thought then to be a progressive intellectual.  Perhaps Said was “drunk” with what was described as a victory for the Shiite organization Hizbollah.  They made such strange bedfellows.

So, in order to enquire about what he had just heard, this author stood in the Q & A session and asked: “So, do you think Sayyid Qutb (the master philosopher of the Muslim Brotherhood), who wanted the Islamic world to go back to the Middle Ages was an exponent of positive change?”

Said answered, that, certainly, Qutb was an exponent of change (paraphrased), but, in his embarrassment,Said curtly ended the discussion with this author.

Later, in an interview with Politics and Culture, Said praised the Hizbollah leader Sayed Hasan Nasrallah (whom Said met that summer), and upon whose advice, went to visit Southern Lebanon (https://politicsandculture.org/2010/08/10/an-interview-with-edward-said-2/).

Said went with his family to the Lebanese-Israeli border, to a place called Bawabet Fatma (Fatma’s Gate), where he threw a stone at an Israeli army post, an IDF watchtower 200 meters away, on the Israeli side of the border. It was an act done on the spur of the moment on the part of a Palestinian American activist, not a premeditated act of violence by a respected academic (as Said explained in the interview).

Last month, eighteen years after Said met in Beirut with the Hizbollah leader, Chicago, Illinois, was the venue for the 11th Annual Convention for Palestine in the US.  It marked the 70th year anniversary of the establishment of Israel and the Palestinian Nakba (setback). The convention, organized by the American Muslims for Palestine, attracted Islamists from Turkey to California, USA, and Leftists like Ilan Pappe, an Israeli expatriate professor, activist, and writer. Pappe spoke at the convention, calling for the removal of the State of Israel from the map, and the creation of a Palestine that would include his hometown, Haifa.

Furthermore, some Palestinian American Islamists aspiring to run for US congress in the US election-year of 2020 talked about the importance of making alliances with American progressive movements. They explained that in order for Palestinian Americans to achieve their goals in undermining the State of Israel and the Zionist lobby in the West, Palestinian Americans should be pragmatic and ignore their differences with progressive parties in the West.

Some added that their “alliance strategy” was inspired by reading the biography of Muhammad the prophet of Islam who forged alliances with pagan tribes in order to achieve his goals. The Palestinian Islamists explained that the prophet of Islam was very pragmatic in his alliances, and that Palestinians could draw lessons from Muhammad’s life and emulate his strategies.

Such statements at the convention by that praise Muhammad as an inspiring example for political activism are contradictory to human rights, and promotes in anti-Semitism and racism.

According to the most authoritative compilation of Muhammad’s Hadith (narratives) by Al Bukahri, Muhammad, the prophet of Islam said on his death bed: “’Allah cursed the Jews and the Christians because they took the graves of their Prophets as places for praying.” (Bukhari Volume 2, Book 23, Number 41)

In addition, according to the most authoritative biography of Muhammad (The Life of Muhammad: I. Ishaq, Alfred Guillaume), the prophet of Islam tried to eliminate the Jews in the Arabian Peninsula. In order to consolidate his rule in 7th century Arabia, and in just four years (624- 628 A.D), Muhammad voided all his treaties with the Jewish tribes there, massacred their men and sold their women and children into slavery.

Also, when convenient, Muhammad voided his treaties with Arab tribes too.

Muhammad was a master at political negotiation, forming alliances with pagan tribes when it served his interests. He also used the promise of a larger share of booty to strike alliances with Bedouin clans, some of whom remained both loyal and pagan to the end, fighting for loot rather than for Islam.

The first major treaty that allowed Muhammad to make alliances with polytheist Arab tribes was the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah. That treaty signed between the prophet of Islam and the polytheist Meccans of Quraysh affirmed a ten-year peace. In the articles of that treaty, Muhammad succumbed almost completely to the demands of the Meccans.

According to Sahih, a Muslim who compiled Muhammad’s hadith (narratives), after the treaty was signed, most of the pilgrims objected to Muhammad giving in on most points to the Quraysh, and led some to have doubts about Muhammad’s truthfulness.

But, after only three years of forging alliances with other Arab tribes and gaining more power, Muhammad declared the peace accord null and void, marched on Mecca and conquered it in 630 A.D.  The oldest Islamic English website islamqa.info commented that Hudaybiyyah remained “a very important event for Muslims, and a lesson in the methods of peace craft as well as war craft in Islam.”

After Mecca’s conquest, Muhammad signed treaties with the polytheists of Mecca and environs, and they were in his army ranks when he attacked Taif (62 miles southeast of Mecca) in 630 A.D.

However, the Quran (Chapter 9) declares that as soon as the prophet of Islam consolidated his power in Arabia, Muhammad’s treaties with the polytheists (who had fought in his ranks) were considered null and void and the Quran gave them four months to embrace Islam or face the sword.

Woe to the American Left if Islamists believe that the prophet of Islam is the example to be emulated in pragmatism and political strategies. If the Palestinian American Islamists, a very small minority, make an alliance with the American Left, they would be using a sizable majority for their political goals and would betray their agreements at the first opportunity. They make such strange bedfellows.

If we compare and contrast what the Left believes and what Islamists believe, we would see all sorts of conflicts in worldviews and moral value systems that would eventually make a lasting political alliance impossible.

While the progressive Left is all for separation between Church and State, women’s rights, the LGBTQ movement, and rejecting Anti-Semitism, Islamists are against all those values.

It is odd how the progressive political Left that highly values those principles would be reluctant to criticize a regressive religious ideology whose adherents oppose those principles, or may consider having an alliance with Islamists.

However, the progressive American Left may wrongly see Palestinian American Islamists as representatives of an oppressed minority (American Muslims) that should be protected.  But, American Islamists do not represent mainstream Muslims, and they are not like Native Americans, African Americans, or Hispanics in the US. Instead, Palestinian American Islamists are part of a global movement that works on changing the social fabric in the West in order to establish reactionary radical Islamic communities in America and Europe.

Against the backdrop of Muhammad’s treaty of Hudaybiyyah, Khaled Mashaal, the leader of the Palestinian militant group Hamas, in conjunction with the Islamic Jihad, offered Israel a 10-year “hudna,” or truce, in 2008, after hostilities broke out between the two sides. Within one week of the ceasefire, the Islamic Jihad violated the truce, then Hamas followed its cue. The truce did not last more than six months.

The progressive American Left may be enamored and intrigued by the fight Palestinian Islamists put up against “imperialism,” but if the Left casts its lot with Islamists, the Left should expect a cloak and dagger play. While it won’t be a rocket launched from Gaza, and even though the Left won’t cast the first stone, what the progressive Left should expect is a stab in the back.

Hesham Shehab

Hesham Shehab
Educator, Journalist, Human Rights Activist, Pastor at |

Adjunct Faculty at College of DuPage, Formerly Adjunct Faculty at American University of Beirut and Pastor at Peace Lutheran Church Lombard, IL Name pronounciation: HI-shahm SHI-hab  Hebrews 12: 4 & Philippians 1: 29






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