Dr. Mordechai Kedar has a deep understanding of the Arab mindset. A senior lecturer on Arabic culture at Bar-Ilan University, he served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence, where he specialized in Islamic groups, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic press and mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena. Fluent in Arabic, he is one of the very few Israelis appearing on Arab television, frequently debating Arab thought leaders and imams in their native tongue.
It was therefore deeply concerning when he posted a warning on his Facebook page explaining what he believed was the actual significance of the Taliban victory in Afghanistan:
“August 15, 2021, the day in which Taliban resumed their rule over Afghanistan after 20 years of Western occupation, will forever be viewed and remembered in the Islamic world as the victory of Islam over Christianity, the victory of faith over heresy, and the victory of tradition over permissiveness,” Dr. Kedar wrote. “These events are pumping new blood into jihad arteries and the results will soon be seen around the world, including in Israel.”
This statement seems grandiose and hyperbolic at first glance. Afghanistan is only one of many Islamic nations and the US does not self-identify as the representative of the Christian world. Recent events are perceived by most Americans as a regrettable outcome of a failed attempt at foreign intervention. The motivation to intervene was in reaction to the 9-11 attacks, an attempt to prevent another such attack from a terrorist organization based (at the time) in Afghanistan.
But Dr. Kedar has a unique insight into the Arab mindset and sees it differently.
“All of Islam views the US as the representative of Christianity today,” Dr. Kedar said. “Therefore, a victory by an Islamic entity over the US is not just a victory of one nation over another. This is precisely what the Koran describes as Jihad. The Koran states that Islam must have dominance over all other religions. Muslims must always be involved in this.”
“The entire Muslim world perceives Afghanistan as a Muslim victory over Christianity, not just as a Taliban victory or the US capitulating,” Dr. Kedar said. “The average American does not see that religion has anything to do with politics. But this is absolutely not the case in the Muslim world. America saw the war in Afghanistan as a war on terrorism. The Taliban and other Muslims saw it as a religious war. Here in the Middle East, everything is religion.”
“The inter-Islamic conflicts are domestic issues, family infighting. They do not allow any other nations, especially Christian nations, to intervene. These can be set aside in order to join in a battle against non-Muslims.”
Dr. Kedar noted that when the Taliban first established their government in Afghanistan in 1996, they declared the Islamic Emirate of Khorasan, a theocracy ruled by strict Sharia law. The Taliban repeated this two weeks ago upon taking over Kabul.
“They are adopting the classical Islamic expressions,” Dr. Kedar explained. “They do not use the term ‘Afghanistan’. They refer to the country as ‘Khorasan’, which technically and historically refers to an eastern province, which is the classical name for the area.”
Dr. Kedar noted that people in the West become confused because they are using modern terms that do not have relevance to how Muslims frame events.
“Americans speak of ISIS-K but that does not exist,” he explained. “ISIS is an acronym for The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The organization that is fighting for an Islamic state in Afghanistan has no connection to that group. They are fighting for the Islamic State of Khorosan. The correct acronym should be ISK.”
Though considered an enemy of the Taliban, ISK began in 2015 as an offshoot of the Taliban established by disaffected Taliban leaders.
“It is time that Americans began to open their eyes to see the reality in other parts of the world or else they will keep paying a very high price for ignorance,” Dr. Kedar warned.
After the sharp rise in anti-Semitic attacks in the US that accompanied the Israel-Gaza conflict in May, Dr. Kedar warned that the religious turmoil would expand to include Christians.
“After they finish with the Jews, they are going to go after the Christians,’” Dr. Kedar explained. “This is not new or unexpected. It has only been going on for fourteen centuries. It is the entirety of history between Islam and Christianity. The Koran says that Allah is with the one who has patience. And the Muslims have patience.”
It could be that the Christian-Muslim conflict that characterized the Middle Ages has reemerged. And Christianity just last the first battle.