In Islamist media, and especially among Palestinians, a prediction has been circulating—endorsed by a few clerics—that various scriptural and numerological evidence suggests that 2022 is the year that the Jewish state will at last meet its demise. Ben Cohen explains why the currency of such prognostications must be taken seriously:
Among Palestinians, the belief that Israel’s disappearance will be a feature of 2022 is not exactly uncommon. We know this because a survey conducted last week by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) included a question about the prediction. One in four Palestinians—a sizable proportion by any standards—is certain that the prediction will come to pass, while 63 percent believe otherwise. Most tellingly, according to the PSR, a “vast majority” of 78 percent believe that the Quran contains such a prophecy, while only 17 percent do not.
This particular response needs to be seen within the context of the entire poll. The view of a clear majority that Israel’s demise is religiously sanctioned, along with the view of a notable minority that such an event is expected as soon as this year, would probably not have registered were the Palestinians engaged in a meaningful peace process with Israel that provided both sides with some grounds for hope.
When it comes to the issue that has bedeviled peace efforts for nearly a century—whether the Palestinians can acknowledge and accept that Israel’s existence is legitimate—the world is as far away from a positive resolution as it has ever been. While it is correct that a minority of Palestinians think that the Quranic prediction of Israel’s collapse is accurate, a much greater number clearly wishes the prediction were true, even if their reasoned judgment leads them to a different conclusion. In such an environment, defined by Palestinian incitement against Israel’s very presence, the swords won’t become ploughshares anytime soon.