Yet another group in favour of the destruction of Israel
OCTOBER 10, 2007 – Dr. Jonathan Spyer, a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs Center at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya, recently wrote an article about the rapid rise in support in Hebron for the Islamist party Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Hizb ut-Tahrir states that, “it is a political party whose ideology is Islam, so politics is its work and Islam is its ideology… and not a priestly one. Nor is it an academic, educational or a charity group. The Islamic thought is the soul of its body, its core and the secret of its life.” Its aim is to resume the Islamic way of life and to convey the Islamic Call to the world. Here’s part of Spyer’s article, which can be read in detail at: Spyer
Sitting in the best bar in Jerusalem about four months ago (it’s called Sira, in case you’re interested), I entered into conversation with a tall, ginger-haired young man who turned out to be a member of the Swedish contingent in the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH). Our conversation ranged over the trials and tribulations of the life of a member of TIPH, the very large amounts of money he seemed to be making, and the merits of Jerusalem when compared with other cities in the region.
An offhand remark he made concerning the political balance of power in Hebron turned the conversation from mildly interesting to memorable. I asked him if Hamas was gaining ground in the city of Hebron. He replied wearily that the fastest-growing political force in the city was not Hamas, nor any of the other well-known Palestinian political movements. Rather, the most notable and noticeable development on the ground in Hebron was the sudden and rapid rise in support for the Islamist party Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Subsequent months have attested to the truth of my Swedish friend’s unexpected claim. Hizb ut-Tahrir (the “party of liberation”) is indeed growing in strength and visibility in the West Bank, especially in the areas of Jerusalem and Hebron. So what does the Hizb’s emergence as a political factor mean, and what implications may it have (if any) for the future direction of events between Israelis and Palestinians? Hizb ut-Tahrir was founded in Jordanian-ruled Jerusalem in 1952 by a sharia court judge, Taqiuddin al-Nabhani. The party inscribes on its banner the goal of the restoration of the caliphate – the Islamic government established after the death of Muhammad in 632, and abolished by Kemal Ataturk in 1924.
The party wants the imposition of sharia law – eventually worldwide – and is in favour of the destruction of Israel. However, it sees this as the job of the conventional forces of the restored Islamic caliphate. The party has thus not employed the methods of terror attacks against Israelis, as favoured by other, more prominent Palestinian Islamist currents, such as Hamas and Islamic jihad.
Hizb ut-Tahrir has grown from its beginnings in Jordanian Jerusalem into an international force, with branches in 45 countries in the world. It has achieved particular notoriety in central and southeast Asian countries, in particular in Uzbekistan and Indonesia. It has also come to prominence in western European countries – particularly in Britain, where a branch was established in 1986. A number of the best-known British participants in Islamist terrorism attended meetings of the group or one of its offshoots at certain stages of their trajectories. These include Omar Khan Sharif, who tried to bomb the Mikes Place bar in Tel Aviv in 2003, and the “shoe bomber”, Richard Reid.