After testifying before Congress on July 31, former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dr. Dore Gold was interviewed by HUMAN EVENTS about Saudi Arabia’s continued support of terrorist groups. Author of Hatred’s Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism (Regnery, 2003), Gold holds a Ph.D. in International Relations and Middle East Studies from Columbia.
“Saudi Arabia is based on a covenant between the [ruling] al-Saud family and the Wahhabist clerical elite from 1744,” said Gold. The radical, often pro-terrorist Wahhabist clerics “legitimize” the ruling royal family of al-Saud, he said. Even after the May 12 terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia, said Gold, Saudi Arabia continues to fund Hamas. “The Saudis are now cracking al-Qaeda cells all over the kingdom,” he said. “They have also arrested some of the most radical clerics, but they keep supporting Hamas.”
Change among the people of Saudi Arabia is likely to come slowly, perhaps over 20 years, he said. Faster progress is unlikely, he said: “If you have whole generations of people who have been taught this hatred, I don’t think you can short-circuit this process.” Some American hawks have called for democracy to be implemented in Saudi Arabia, but Gold noted that “democracy is more than the mechanism of elections. There has to develop civil society, freedom of association. . . . This takes time. Democracy is the preferred model for the Middle East.”
Gold pointed out that Wahhabis have an intense hostility to Christians as well as Jews. “They have classified Christians as polytheists, which is about the worst category to be in. This is not how Christians were classified in classical Islam,” he said. He explained that Wahhabism and other radical Islamic movements are relatively new and opposed to classical Islam. These new movements claim to represent a return to Islam in its original form.
“There was a previous attempt to do that, in the 13th Century,” said Gold. “It was led by a scholar named Ibn Taymiyya, who fought against ‘foreign influences’ on Islam. Ibn Abdul Wahhab [the founder of Wahhabism] loved him. All these people accept Ibn Taymiyya’s thinking. He was against the veneration of Jerusalem because it came from Judaism.” Asked if that meant that these radical Muslims should give up their claims to the Temple Mount-where the Dome of the Rock mosque now sits-Gold laughed and said, “Maybe we should establish the Ibn Taymiyya Institute in Jerusalem.”