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Eretz Israel HaShlema / Greater Israel

Today's Jews are the living representatives of Judah, one of the 12 tribes of Israel that conquered most of Palestine in the 13th century BC. Judah's share of the territory continued for seven centuries, until the Babylonian Captivity, in which Judah was deported by Nebuchadnezzer in 587 BC. They returned again within less than half a century, and held Judea, once more, for the next 773 years, until they were evicted by the Romans in AD 135. Jews never renounced their claim to the land of Israel, and always hoped, believed, and proclaimed that they would get this land back again.

In an interview in May 1998, a little over two months before the US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, Osama bin Laden explained his call for Muslims to take arms against America. "Their presence has no meaning save one and that is to offer support to the Jews in Palestine who are in need of their Christian brothers to achieve full control over the Arab Peninsula which they intend to make an important part of the so called Greater Israel...."

In February 2003 an audiotape purportedly from Osama bin Laden called President Bush "stupid" and claimed American war plans against Iraq were part of a plot to attack Muslim nations in the Middle East and North Africa. The United States' goal in waging war against Iraq is to change the regional map to benefit Israel, according to the voice said to be bin Laden. "It is clear that the preparations to attack Iraq are part of a series of attacks prepared for nations of the region including Syria, Iran, Egypt and Sudan," the voice said. "The aim of the Crusaders' campaign is to prepare the atmosphere for the establishment of the so-called greater Israel state, which includes great parts of Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Jordan and large portions of (Saudi Arabia)," it said [this later element was omitted from most published transcripts].

In a sermon delivered by Usama bin Laden on the first day of 'Id al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice, he explains in great detail. The holiday started on February 11, and the sermon was published in February 16th, 2003. "One of the most important objectives of the new Crusader attack is to pave the way and prepare the region, after its fragmentation, for the establishment of what is known as 'the Greater State of Israel,' whose borders will include extensive areas of Iraq and Egypt, through Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, all of Palestine and large parts of the Land of the Two Holy Places. Come let me tell you what is meant by 'Greater Israel' and what disasters will beset the region. What is happening to our people in Palestinian is merely a model which the Zio-American alliance wishes to impose upon the rest of the region... "

This conception of a Greater Israel encompassing much of the Middle East is evidently a pervasive element of popular culture in the region, and it is easy to understand how this would be taken up by bin Laden and other propgandists. By asserting that Israel seeks to occupy the territories of many other countries in the region, it places the Palestinians on the front line of a struggle common to all people in the region.

The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement of 18 August 1988 states: "Today it is Palestine, tomorrow it will be one country or another. The Zionist plan is limitless. After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on. Their plan is embodied in the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion", and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying. ... It is the duty of the followers of other religions to stop disputing the sovereignty of Islam in this region ... They were behind the French Revolution, the Communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there. With their money they formed secret societies, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions and others in different parts of the world for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests. With their money they were able to control imperialistic countries and instigate them to colonize many countries in order to enable them to exploit their resources and spread corruption there. ..... They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains by trading in armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state. It was they who instigated the replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council to enable them to rule the world through them. There is no war going on anywhere, without having their finger in it. " [source]

Bin Laden is not the author of this view, but rather is simply appealing to a widespread belief. On 19 July 2003, the Saudi daily Al-Watan published an article by Dr. Umayma Ahmad Al-Jalahma, who is described by the paper as a professor at King Faysal University. "The Jewish rabbis recently issued a Fatwa [sic] stating that 'Iraq is part of Greater Israel.' The authors of that Fatwa issued calls to the Jewish troops annexed to the American and British forces, whose number barely exceeds 2,000, to recite a special prayer whenever they begin to erect a tent or build anything on Iraqi soil west of the Euphrates, specifically, because such regions are in their view part of the land of Greater Israel."

An edition of the notorious anti-Semitic forgery, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," published by the Iranian government supplies an introduction which describes Iran's view of itself in the struggle to destroy Israel. "A boundless passion for usurpation and hegemony is typical of these professional criminals of history; a passion which they try to satisfy through their fickle logic of 'From the Nile to the Euphrates.'" This edition also included a map that projects boundries up to that include parts of Iran.

In a message dated 6 September 1983 (15 Shahrivar 1362 AHS) Sahifa-yi Nur, Vol. 18, p. 101, Imam Ruhollah Al-Musavi Al-Khomeini said "Greater Israel means an Israel stretching from the Nile to the Euphrates or in other words encompassing all the regions inhabited by Arabs, which besides Egypt surely includes the Hijaz too." And in his Last Will and Testament, Khomeini noted "The USA is the foremost enemy of Islam. It is a terrorist state by nature that has set fire to everything everywhere and its ally, the international Zionism does not stop short of any crime to achieve its base and greedy desires, crimes that the tongue and pen are ashamed to utter or write. The stupid idea of a Greater Israel urges them to commit any shameful crime."

From this perspective, the American occupation of Iraq must seem like a frightening fullfillment of "From the Nile to the Euphrates" -- given a tendency to conflate the United States with the Zionist Entity.

The Leader of the Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei focused on the importance of the Iraqi elections in his message for Hajj pilgrims in early 2005. He said: "The people and leaders of Iraq want to elect a popular government for ensuring a free and independent Iraq. According to them the elections should end foreign military occupation and the political hegemony of the US and Britain. The elections should put end to the seditious presence of the Zionists who under American arms have infiltrated to the banks of the River Euphrates as part of their dream of Greater Israel."

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Page last modified: 18-10-2015 20:22:28 ZULU