God’s Warriors Are Multiplying

Time is running out for Middle East peacemakers, because demography is on the side of passionate believers, who are manifesting themselves both in Israel and in Arab countries as the local representatives of the “Almighty” on Earth. As these holy warriors marginalize secular national leaders, the last thing they dream of is compromise with their enemies.

CHICAGO – Time is not on the side of peacemakers in the Middle East. Even relentless optimists are giving up. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become increasingly overshadowed and orchestrated on both sides by extreme and uncompromising religious groups that view their political mandate as holy and sacred.

This is hindering any peaceful resolution in the short run and will prove increasingly prohibitive to a political settlement in the long run. More than ever, peace is an unattainable mirage.
During the last 25 years, various competing stakeholders in the region have embraced religion as the dominant paradigm in determining their domestic policies. In many Arab countries, the fundamentalist revival is as significant as it is disconcerting. Hezbollah has emerged in Lebanon as a potent force, Iraq has been transformed from one of the Middle East’s most secular countries into a theocratic-militant state, and Hamas is now surging in Palestine and diluting the authority of President Mahmoud Abbas.

Much of religious fundamentalism’s political strength derives from fundamentalists’ increasing share of the population. This demographic shift is occurring not only in the Muslim world, but also in Israel.
Israel has been slowly evolving from a culturally Jewish democracy into a religiously dominated one. Israel’s Haredi ultra-orthodox religious community, for example, is growing at a rate so high that it is redefining the political landscape. According to Israeli government statistics, Haredi Jews average 7.6 children per woman, almost three times the rate of the population as a whole. Of the Israeli Knesset’s 120 members, 20 (all male) are ultra-Orthodox, up from five just a couple of decades ago.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.


Log in

  1. Sean Gallup/Getty Images

    Angela Merkel’s Endgame?

    The collapse of coalition negotiations has left German Chancellor Angela Merkel facing a stark choice between forming a minority government or calling for a new election. But would a minority government necessarily be as bad as Germans have traditionally thought?

  2. Trump Trade speech Bill Pugliano/Getty Images .

    Preparing for the Trump Trade Wars

    In the first 11 months of his presidency, Donald Trump has failed to back up his words – or tweets – with action on a variety of fronts. But the rest of the world's governments, and particularly those in Asia and Europe, would be mistaken to assume that he won't follow through on his promised "America First" trade agenda.

  3. A GrabBike rider uses his mobile phone Bay Ismoyo/Getty Images

    The Platform Economy

    While developed countries in Europe, North America, and Asia are rapidly aging, emerging economies are predominantly youthful. Nigerian, Indonesian, and Vietnamese young people will shape global work trends at an increasingly rapid pace, bringing to bear their experience in dynamic informal markets on a tech-enabled gig economy.

  4. Trump Mario Tama/Getty Images

    Profiles in Discouragement

    One day, the United States will turn the page on Donald Trump. But, as Americans prepare to observe their Thanksgiving holiday, they should reflect that their country's culture and global standing will never recover fully from the wounds that his presidency is inflicting on them.

  5. Mugabe kisses Grace JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images

    How Women Shape Coups

    In Zimbabwe, as in all coups, much behind-the-scenes plotting continues to take place in the aftermath of the military's overthrow of President Robert Mugabe. But who the eventual winners and losers are may depend, among other things, on the gender of the plotters.

  6. Oil barrels Ahmad Al-Rubaye/Getty Images

    The Abnormality of Oil

    At the 2017 Abu Dhabi Petroleum Exhibition and Conference, the consensus among industry executives was that oil prices will still be around $60 per barrel in November 2018. But there is evidence to suggest that the uptick in global growth and developments in Saudi Arabia will push the price as high as $80 in the meantime.

  7. Israeli soldier Menahem Kahana/Getty Images

    The Saudi Prince’s Dangerous War Games

    Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is working hard to consolidate power and establish his country as the Middle East’s only hegemon. But his efforts – which include an attempt to trigger a war between Israel and Hezbollah in Lebanon – increasingly look like the work of an immature gambler.