Darrow Miller and Friends

From the River to the Sea — Jewish and Jihadi Conflict

Mosab Hassan Yousef writes in the preface of his book Son of Hamas that the current conflict in the Middle East between Israel and Hamas “stretches all the way back to the animosity between Sarah and Hagar described in the first book of the Bible.” Yousef has a unique perspective, growing up in Ramallah, the West Bank, as the son of one of the founders of Hamas. He was taught by his father, Sheikh Hassan Yousef, to hate the Jews and to become a jihadi terrorist with the goal of eliminating the Jews “from the river to the sea.” 

In the deep history of the Jewish/Arab conflict, we find the story of two women: Hagar and Sarah in Genesis 16. Sarah was the rightful bride of Abram, the patriarch of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths. Hagar was Sarah’s maid. When Sarah could not conceive, she gave her maidservant to Abram to bear a child in his line. Hagar conceived Ishmael, the father of the Arab peoples. Because she was able to conceive while Sarah wasn’t, Hagar began to treat Sarah with contempt. Abram told Sarah to deal with Hagar as she saw fit. Sarah treated Hagar so harshly that she ran away. It was at this moment that an angel appeared to Hagar and gave her a two-part prophecy (Genesis 16:10-12): 

10 The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” 11 And the angel of the Lord said to her, 

“Behold, you are pregnant
and shall bear a son.
You shall call his name Ishmael,
because the Lord has listened to your affliction.
12 He shall be a wild donkey of a man,
his hand against everyone
and everyone’s hand against him,
and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” 

We find these two significant words of prophecy in Genesis 16:10-12 which give us keen insight into the roots of the Jewish/Arab conflict. 

First, we see in Genesis 16:10, there was a promise to Hagar that Abram’s descendants through her would be “too numerous to count.” This prophecy was described in a recent blog post. This first prophecy has been fulfilled. Ishmael’s descendants, the Arabs, are a great people in number – too numerous to count. In addition to the size of their population, they have made countless contributions to the world through their poetry, literature, art, architecture, math, science, technology, medicine, and pharmacology to name a few. 

The second part of the prophecy is found in Genesis 16:12 and describes the character of the descendants of Ishmael, “He shall be a wild donkey of a man, his hand against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he shall dwell over against all his kinsmen.” 

I have always found this a very difficult passage of scripture and approach it with fear and trembling. The difficulty, for me, comes in understanding the term “wild donkey.” That word in the Hebrew is פֶּרֶא or pere’. Some other translations of this phrase are: “wild ass” of a man,” “wild” man, or “fierce and cruel” man. Certainly, this describes the nature of Hamas’ attack on the Jews on October 7, 2023. 

However, before we go any further, I want to emphasize the challenging nature of this prophecy and explain where I come from. 

I am not saying that this prophecy is a prescription characterizing all the descendants of Ishmael. A prime example is Mosab Yousef himself who turned his life over to Christ and is now a fellow brother in Christ. I am saying that God, in His foreknowledge, described the tribalistic nature of the descendants of Ishmael and how many would function through history. 

Furthermore, this blog is not intended to villainize all Arabs or Muslims. Nor is it meant to implicate all Muslims in the terrorist acts of some. Through this study, I am looking at the deeply rooted, ancient, history of this animosity toward the Jews that manifests itself in and through Hamas and other jihadists groups. I am also compelled to explore the dark and deep-seated motives of these radicalized jihadist groups to better understand what kind of war we are witnessing. 

Considering the current debate going on, sparked by the war between Hamas and Israel, and the organized protests and violence in many universities and major cities, I sense a need to reflect on the deeper roots of the conflict. It’s my contention that we do not, in the West, generally understand this conflict at all. We impose or project our own thought onto this ancient enmity and thus misunderstand and misinterpret both the actions of Hamas and Israel. In the maelstrom that followed October 7th, we have seen an exponential increase in antisemitism. This is the same kind of hatred toward the Jews that catalyzed the extermination of 6 million in WWII. This deeply concerns me and thus I write this article in hopes of bringing clarity. 


October 7, 2023  

The world watched with horror as Hamas terrorists attacked Israel on October 7, 2023. There was no concern for civilian life, nor for women and children. The attacks were brutal and barbaric. 

Nevertheless, in the days and weeks following, many people globally began to defend the jihadist’s actions often describing them as victims to Jewish apartheid. Many of these protesters are naive to both history and the reality of the Hamas Charter. Hamas and other jihadist groups clearly state that their mission is to kill Jews and wipe Israel off the map. The jihadi goal is to establish a global caliphate under Sharia Law. 

The second prophecy in Genesis, concerning Hagar’s son Ishmael, gives us a general description of Arab culture. The line of Ishmael is the line of the Muslims as stated in their own Qur’an. This Muslim culture lives in many ways as a “wild donkey” lives and is hostile towards brothers and cousins and certainly towards foreigners. The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges describes the character of the wild donkey as “typically untamable, strong, free, roaming, suspicious, and untrustworthy.”  

An ancient Bedouin proverb aptly describes the nature of the nomadic Arab tribes of the Saudi peninsula. The proverb states: “Myself against my brother, my brother and I against my cousin, my cousin and I against the stranger.”  

In his book Son of Hamas, Mosab Hassan Yousef makes a similar point. He writes that within the Palestinian people there are numerous tribal groups, each with their own vision and agenda for the Palestinian people. Yousef illustrates this by recounting a moment when a Palestinian man was killed during a conflict.  

The Palestinian leaders who had come to comfort the widow began to fight with one another over who would preach at Shada’s funeral? Who would be in charge of receiving the mourners for three days? Who would be in charge of the food for the family? They were all calling Shada “our son,” to claim that he had been a member of their faction and trying to prove that their faction was participating in the intifada more than the others. The competing factions had been reduced to ridiculous bickering over the dead.  

In an interview on “Dr. Phil,” Yousef was confronted by two Palestinian pro-Hamas protesters. In response Yousef states:  

I personally don’t differentiate between Hamas and so-called Palestinians because, actually, there is no Palestinian! There are tribes. There is the tribe of Hamas, there is the tribe of Islamic Jihad, there is the tribe of Khalil, and there is the tribe of Nablus, and each one has different interests, and all of them are conflicted. If they did not have Israel as the common enemy, they would kill each other. This is reality. 

This may be illustrated in the little reported news today about the low-grade conflict going on now between the Palestinian Authority, a secular “tribe” of Palestinians who govern the West Bank and who want to sign a peace treaty with Israel and have a two-state solution to the conflict, and the “tribe” of Hamas who want to destroy Israel and have a one-state solution from the “river to the sea.”

Raymond Ibrahim is an American author and Islamic scholar and is widely published expounding on the topics of Islam and the Middle East. He explains the proverb this way in his article “How Islam Deified Tribalism”: 

Aside from its religious veneer, Islam can easily be defined and understood by one wholly areligious word: tribalism – the bane of any democratic or pluralistic society. 

The fact is, the entire appeal of Muhammad’s call to the Arabs of his time lay in its compatibility with the tribal mores, three in particular: loyalty to one’s tribe; enmity for other tribes; and raids on the latter to enrich and empower the former.

The old Bedouin proverb reflects tribal thinking, prone to discord and contention. This is the same general temperament prophesied of Ishmael’s line (the Arabic people): that of the wild donkey fighting with brother and cousin and most radically against the stranger – the infidel. Thus, the animosity found in the current Hamas culture towards Israel is rooted as far back as the literal genesis of the relationship between the children of Ishmael and their cousins the Jews. 

Tribalism is born out of diversity without unity. The opposite is unity without diversity, as characterized by Mao’s China and Stalin’s Soviet Union. The radical balance of unity and diversity is grounded in the reality of the Trinitarian God who informed the Judeo-Christian founders of the United States to use the motto E pluribus unum – “out of many one” which celebrates the unity of diverse peoples established in pluralistic societies. 


The Hamas Covenant

Some have supposed that a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine is ideal and possible, but let it be known by all that Hamas has no interest in a separate and equal state. They want to eliminate the state of Israel and the Jewish people. Read the following (emphasis mine): 

The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement was issued on August 18, 1988. The Islamic Resistance Movement, also known as the HAMAS, is an extreme fundamentalist Islamic organization operating in the territories under Israeli control. Its covenant is a comprehensive manifesto comprised of 36 separate articles all of which promote the basic HAMAS goal of destroying the state of Israel through Jihad (Islamic Holy War). 

Per the Hamas Covenant of 1988, the goal is to “obliterate” Israel (Preamble). They consider the land of Israel to be entirely Islamic (Article 11,13) and claim it as the individual duty of every Muslim to raise up the banner of Jihad (Article 15). Peace initiatives are rejected (Article 13) and they believe “The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews)” (Article 7). 

The Hamas Covenant of 1988 is the basis of the now popular chant “from the river to the sea,” chanted by thousands of naive college students in the West. The call is for not only the eradication of the Jewish state, but all Jewish people from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. 

Hamas is not so much an organization as it is a tribe defined and unified by a particular ideology. Their centering point: the elimination of Jews. 

A two-state solution is an impossible dream as long as one of the factions is committed to the elimination of not only the state of Israel, but the very Jewish people. Many of the maps found in Muslim nations show no state of Israel. During WWII, Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti in Jerusalem, met with Adolf Hitler to discuss how the Jews living in the Holy Land could be eliminated. Make no mistake, this is antisemitism of the most pernicious kind. 

The war with Israel did not begin on October 7th when Hamas barbarically attacked Israeli civilians. It is NOT the bitter response of people who have been victimized by apartheid. This war did not begin in 1948 when Israel was declared an independent state as some protesters claim. It is NOT a response against so called Jewish colonialism. It did not even begin when the followers of the Prophet Muhammad left the Arabian Peninsula in 632 A.D. to conquer the Jews and Christians in Persia, the Middle East, North Africa, and Southern Europe. The spirit of antipathy found in jihad, stems all the way back to Abraham’s day; it is ancient and runs deep.  

The hundreds of thousands of young protesters around the world who are supporting Hamas and shouting “From the river to the sea”, are largely naïve of the death of 6,000,000 Jews at the hands of the Nazis in my lifetime, and they are naïve of the ideology and intent of the jihadis today. When they shout, from the river to the sea, they are functioning as antisemites and naively calling for the extermination of the Jewish people. The jihadis patronizingly call them “useful idiots.” 

As stated before, I do not intend to villainize all Arabs or to arouse hatred in our hearts toward them. I am only working to clarify the nature of this ancient enmity. In Christ we have living hope for all people including Arabs and Jews. Mosab Hassan Yousef was referenced earlier in the blog as “the Son of Hamas.” In the last 15 years, Yousef publicly announced his conversion to Christianity. Let us stand in solidarity with our Jewish friends against the profound antisemitism of our time, and let us also believe that Christ’s work can provide holistic, miraculous redemption and reconciliation among Jews and Palestinians alike. 

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Darrow is co-founder of the Disciple Nations Alliance and a featured author and teacher. For over 30 years, Darrow has been a popular conference speaker on topics that include Christianity and culture, apologetics, worldview, poverty, and the dignity of women. From 1981 to 2007 Darrow served with Food for the Hungry International (now FH association), and from 1994 as Vice President. Before joining FH, Darrow spent three years on staff at L’Abri Fellowship in Switzerland where he was discipled by Francis Schaeffer. He also served as a student pastor at Northern Arizona University and two years as a pastor of Sherman Street Fellowship in urban Denver, CO. In addition to earning his Master’s degree in Adult Education from Arizona State University, Darrow pursued graduate studies in philosophy, theology, Christian apologetics, biblical studies, and missions in the United States, Israel, and Switzerland. Darrow has authored numerous studies, articles, Bible studies and books, including Discipling Nations: The Power of Truth to Transform Culture (YWAM Publishing, 1998), Nurturing the Nations: Reclaiming the Dignity of Women for Building Healthy Cultures (InterVarsity Press, 2008), LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day (YWAM, 2009), Rethinking Social Justice: Restoring Biblical Compassion (YWAM, 2015), and more. These resources along with links to free e-books, podcasts, online training programs and more can be found at Disciple Nations Alliance (https://disciplenations.org).