Monthly Archives: January 2006

Cartoons that Mock Cartoons that Demonize

Can someone explain to me why the leaders of the West don’t say to the Muslims: “You can ask us to show respect for you, but not if you don’t show respect for us. When Muslims stop producing grotesque and savage cartoons not just mocking but vilifying other religions, then we will show Islam the respect it craves.”

Okay, not “craves”… “desires.”

Why are we so careful about their desires and not careful to ask them to meet the standards they want us to meet in their regard?

See LGF on the same subject.

Robert Fisk on Hamas

In an article in The Independent Robert Fisk mocks those who are “appaled” at Hamas victory:

And now, horror of horrors, the Palestinians have elected the wrong party to power. They were supposed to have given their support to the friendly, pro-Western, corrupt, absolutely pro-American Fatah, which had promised to “control” them, rather than to Hamas, which said they would represent them. And, bingo, they have chosen the wrong party again.

For him, sooner or later Israel will talk with Hamas. As Israel did in the past.

Back in 1983, Hamas talked to the Israelis. They spoke directly to them about the spread of mosques and religious teaching. The Israeli army boasted about this on the front page of the Jerusalem Post. At that time, it looked like the PLO was not going to abide by the Oslo resolutions. There seemed nothing wrong, therefore, with continuing talks with Hamas. So how come talks with Hamas now seem so impossible? … The Israelis know well the Hamas leadership. And the Hamas leadership know well the Israelis. There is no point in journalists like us suggesting otherwise. Our enemies invariably turn out to be our greatest friends, and our friends turn out, sadly, to be our enemies.

Fisk concludes with a call for Westerners to respect democracy in the Middle East:

Democracy means real freedom, not just for the people we choose to have voted into power. And that is the problem in the Middle East.

For Fisk the history of the Middle East is, above all, a history of Western (and Israel) deception, double-talking and hipocrisy. That’s all. If he could only demand from Arabs the same self-criticism (wrapped in moral outrage) that he demands from the West and Israel. Will he ever do that?

On Keeping Our Eye on the Ball: Three Reflections on Hamas

hat tip: Josh Katzen

Efraim Karsh has a piece in the New Republic,“Hamas does Israel a Favor including the following:

The international community thus ignored the fact that for all their drastically different personalities and political style, Arafat and Abbas were both dogmatic PLO veterans who never eschewed their commitment to Israel’s destruction and who viewed the “peace process” as the continuation of their lifetime war by other means. It whitewashed Abbas’s adamant refusal to fight terrorism as a reflection of political weakness (as it had done with Arafat in the early Oslo years) and turned a blind eye to his repeated calls for the destruction of Israel through demographic subversion (via the so-called “right of return”).
In these circumstances, where the real choice is between a plain-speaking extremist organization advocating the destruction of a neighboring state and a corrupt and repressive regime couching its intentions in hollow peace rhetoric whenever addressing non-Arab audiences, Hamas may prove the lesser of two evils. By leaving no doubt about its true nature and raising no false expectations of imminent peace and democracy, it helps expose the deep malaise of the Palestinian political system and the attendant need for its fundamental overhaul.

Of course, that depends on the West’s (including Israel’s) ability to keep their eye on the ball and not fall for the grudging concessions in our languages that Hamas may rapidly begin to realize will rapidly advance their cause. Not too hopeful on that one as long as things like Pallywood continue to play at major MSM newstations near you and me. As David P. Steinman argues:

In the coming days and weeks you are going to see a lot of sophisticated people commenting on the meaning of Hamas’ election by the Palestinian people and how the west, and most especially Israel, should respond to it. There will be increasingly articulate — and urgent — analyses proposing either that we must deal with Hamas because not dealing with it will make it more desperate or because dealing with it will make it more moderate. We will hear about how it is the legitimate expression of the democratic will of the Palestinian people and entitled therefore to our respect. We will hear that the Palestinian people reaally voted for an end to the corruption of their old masters in Fatah and not for a terrorist regime. The terrorism, we will be told, is an unfortunate by-product of having to get rid of their corrupt former rulers. We will hear that the burden of actually governing will eventually help to moderate Hamas or that it won’t and won’t that be fine because then the world will be compelled to acknowledge that it is an unreformable terrorist organization. And on and on.

Steinman then goes on to quote from a New York Sun column by Mark Steyn, “Now We Know“:

The Palestinians are the most comprehensively wrecked people on the face of the earth: after 60 years as UN “refugees”, they’re now so depraved they’re electing candidates on the basis of child sacrifice.

Indeed Steyn directly addresses the point that I think many liberal cognitive egocentrists make in their effort to spin this electoral victory in terms we can understand, that is, that they voted against corruption, not for genocide.

So I’d like to believe this was a vote for getting rid of corruption rather than getting rid of Jews. But that’s hard to square with some of the newly elected legislators. For example, Mariam Farahat, a mother of three, was elected in Gaza. She used to be a mother of six but three of her sons self-detonated on suicide missions against Israel. She’s a household name to Palestinians, known as Um Nidal – Mother of the Struggle – and, at the rate she’s getting through her kids, the Struggle’s all she’ll be Mother of. She’s famous for a Hamas recruitment video in which she shows her 17-year old son how to kill Israelis and then tells him not to come back. It’s the Hamas version of 42nd Street: You’re going out there a youngster but you’ve got to come back in small pieces.

That strikes me as keeping your eye on the ball. This is about a war to the death for honor, defined as the supremacy of Islam, without which life is not worth living.

Having made that clear-eyed judgment call, however, Steyn then falls back into fantasy:

So what happens now? Either Hamas forms a government and decides that operating highway departments and sewer systems is what it really wants to do with itself. Or, like Arafat, it figures that it has no interest in government except as a useful front for terrorist operations. If it’s the former, all well and good: many first-rate terror organizations have managed to convert themselves to third-rate national-liberation governments. But, if it’s the latter, that too is useful: Hamas is the honest expression of the will of the Palestinian electorate, and the cold hard truth of that is something Europeans and Americans will find hard to avoid.

As with Joel Stein, you’re always better off knowing what people honestly think. For decades, the Middle East’s dictators justified themselves to Washington as a restraint on the baser urges of their citizens, but in the end they only incubated worse pathologies. Western subsidy of Arafatistan is merely the latest example. Democracy in the Middle East is not always pretty, but it’s better than the west’s sillier illusions.

I’ve made the point repeatedly, so I’ll leave the last word to Steinman, who, despite his admiration for Steyn, keeps his eye on the ball longer than Steyn does:

Steyn is right in the first paragraph quoted above. But I fear he is overly optimistic in the second. The Palestinians have been ridiculously successful for decades at hoodwinking the west — including a lot of Israelis — by playing a blatantly obvious shell game, saying in English what we want to hear — what we construct as our “expected world,” while doing what we don’t want to see, information we ignore because it contradicts our expecdted world construct — continued terrorism aimed at destroying Israel and making war on the western world — using superficially deniable proxies. Hamas has already begun the same game, with spokesmen dropping hints and suggestions about long term truces, about concessions the Israelis must make in order for Hamas to agree to put its war of extermination on temporary hold, and so on. And western analysts have already begun the intricate processes of picking apart each and every word from numerous Hamas “leaders” to find implications of suggestions of possible future “moderation” and the like.

But the plain truth — the easiest thing to discern but the hardest for the west because it contradicts our expected world — the world we want to live in rather than the one we actually live in — is that Hamas and the Palestinian people are exactly what Steyn says they are — the world’s most depraved, wretched, evil people on the planet. They voted for exactly what they wanted as their representatives. The only question is whether the rest of the world has the courage to hold them accountable for that vote. My bet is that we don’t and that the slow motion war against Israel — and the rest of the west — by the Islamist world will continue while we work within the confines of our expected world, unable to bear the discomfort and shock of acknowledging that the objective facts don’t square with what we allow ourselves to see. Eventually we’ll have to “get it” or suffer some pretty dire consequences. Iran with nukes may be the first of those consequences but there will be many more to come until we are forced to adjust our view of reality to reality itself. Please keep this concept of an “expected world” versus information that contradicts it in mind as you follow these events. I suspect you’ll be surprised to see how accurate it will turn out to be.

Alas. Only when we wake up to the catastrophic consequences of our wishful thinking about “them” and our often malicious thinking about us, will things begin to change.

The US should accept Bin Laden’s offer of a truce

John Arquilla writes in the San Francisco Chronicle that the United Stated should accept Osama Bin Laden’s offer of a truce. To Arquilla there are good reasons “why bin Laden’s overture should be carefully weighed and thoughtfully debated.”

The moral imperative that should drive us is a sincere desire to end the long suffering of the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. Official figures suggest that 30,000 innocent noncombatants have been killed since March 2003 in Iraq alone. Many respected sources believe that this figure is grossly underestimated. So if bin Laden were to call off his dogs of war, it would be a very good thing, saving lives by removing major elements in the insurgencies in both countries. Such al Qaeda withdrawals would sharply reduce the need for our forces to remain in these sad lands.

To him, “good faith” can lead to peace.

In sum, the practical upside of giving peace a chance looks very attractive. Our ethical obligation to try in good faith to negotiate is even more compelling. Twenty months ago, I suggested in Insight that an era of perpetual warfare need not be our only future and observed that the peace process might begin simply with the release of a conciliatory tape by Osama bin Laden. He has just done this. Now it’s our turn. Reconsidering the immediate dismissive response to his overture is the necessary next step. I pray we have the courage and compassion to take it.

Islamic Insecurities: On the nature of hyper-asabiyya

Solomonia has an interesting post on the Danish cartoon scandal with some pertinent comments about the insecurity it reveals about “a shockingly weak and fragile religion of over a billion people.”

This is a broad generalization, but bear with me. A lot of us here in the US, and I think it’s something sort of particular to the northeast, have this way of dealing with…testing…newcomers. We needle them. We apply a lit put-down humor. Just to see how they react. If they can take it, if they can even be a little self-effacing in return, or maybe give it back in good humor, then they’re in. If not, if they flip out and show their delicate ego and that hanging with them is going to be like walking on egg shells, then that’s it, it’s gonna take a lot to get them “in.”

Well if you didn’t already know it, the Muslim world is showing they just can’t take it, and in fact they can’t take even the smallest things…even a few lame cartoons in a paper no one in the world reads published in a country no one ever heard of before this happened (slight exageration — no offense).

And not only are they offended, and obviously annoyed, but they’re flipping out. How weak must these peoples’ psyches be to melt down this completely?

There’s a lot to this speculation, and it relates to the question of honor-shame cultures and their response to humiliation. Part of the problem is not merely seeing oneself in an unpleasant light, but also relates to one’s own self image. The more exceptional one feels one should be, the more painful the failure to live up to such expectations. In a chapter on Arab Self Image in his important survey of Arab Attitudes towards Israel Yehoshefat Harkabi notes that the Arabs have an exceptionally high sense of themselves which makes their defeats at the hands of the Jews so much the more painful. As a parallel, he quotes a line from Charles De Gaulle about the French (page 355):

France is not herself except when she is in the front rank… France cannot be France without her grandeur…” War Memoirs, French edition, part I, p.1.

Similarly, we find just these sentiments from a spokesman for al Qaeda:

How can [the Muslim] possibly accept humiliation and inferiority when he knows that his nation was created to stand at the center of leadership, at the center of hegemony and rule, at the center of ability and sacrifice? How can [he] possibly [acccep;t humiliation and inferiority] when he knows that the [divine] rule is that the entire earth must be subject to the religion of Allah — not to the East, not to the West — to no ideology and to no path except for the path of Allah? As long as the Muslim knows and believes in these facts, he will not– even for a single moment — stop striving to chieve it, even if it costs him his soul…”
Sulaiman abu Ghaith, “Why We Fight America” in The al Qaeda Connection, p. 16f.

In his book Islam under Siege, Akbar Ahmed writes about hyper-asabiyya, or the abreaction of masculine honor under conditions of uncontrollable loss of collective honor, the excessive group loyalty that people who feel under collective siege are driven to express. The Muslim world does indeed feel like it’s under siege by modernity, and its reaction is not only to want to destroy what it feels besieges it, but take the place of the West as the driving and dominating force in globalization. The question that faces us is, how do we deal with this?

PS. I do think the quote about the French explains why they sympathize so with the Arabs: Both people were once the leading civilization, both have had to live with history gone wrong, both deeply resent those who surpass them by the new rules of modernity.

Not so Random Questions about Hamas’ Victory

Some have argued that the withdrawal from Lebanon in May of 2000 played a key role in the outbreak if the Intifada in October. Seen in the West as a hopeful sign that if Israel makes concessions it will lead to peace, the Lebanese pullout registered in the Muslim world as a sign of Israeli weakness, as proof that if the Israelis (and Westerners) bleed enough they’ll turn and run. Thus the pullout encouraged the Palestinians to think Israel was weak and on the run, so they hit them with all the violence they could — both sides of the green line, civilians and military — in the hope of a repeat performance. As one analyst put it in early 2001:

A conspicuous failure of Israeli deterrence occurred in the struggle against the Hizbullah in Lebanon, especially in recent years. This failure reached its climax in the disgraceful withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, in the abandonment of the SLA (South Lebanese Army) and the pedantic, to the point of disdain, fulfillment of United Nations Resolution 425 from 1978. It is difficult to disassociate that withdrawal from the bloody clashes or mini-war, which the Palestinians initiated in Judea, Samaria and Gaza in late September 2000. In the “Al-Aksa intifada”, which is ongoing still today…

To what extent does Hamas’ victory reflect the Palestinians reading of the withdrawal from Gaza this summer? After all, it was Hamas’ relentless campaign of terrorism that dislodged the Israelis. They had restored pride to a wretched people whose corrupt “secular” leadership had failed to defeat its enemy.

It is interesting that Hamas won by about the same percentage of people who think that suicide terrorism (a.k.a., martyrdom) is a legitimate weapon to use against Israel. More fallout from how stupidly our media has covered the conflict?

Europeans and Europe’s Muslims: Thoughts on Syliva Poggioli’s Comments Part II

Sylvia Poggioli on NPR notes that the Europeans have begun to ask themselves what the effect the election of Hamas and the Islamization of politics in the Middle East might have on their own Muslims. Excellent question. And as long as they’re asking such questions, maybe they should ask themselves about what about the effect of a hasty American pullout of Iraq — which they all clamor for — will have on their Muslims. After all, one of the lessons of the Hamas victory is that what counts in the Middle East is not what we think is rational, but what they think has happened. If the global Jihadis think they kicked the USA out of Iraq, what will that do to the aggressivity of their colleagues in Europe?

Although it would mean giving up their anti-American and anti-Zionist Schadenfreude, it would also mean an end to the self-destructive behavior that has characterized so much of European foreign policy for so long.

Europeans start to Reconsider the Palestinians: Thoughts on Sylvia Poggioli I

The Europeans are having a Claude Rains moment. They are shocked, really shocked. The Palestinians, those folks who basically want peace, and for whom the religious extremists are really just marginal have overwhelmingly chosen the religious fanatics to rule them.

Or are they shocked? Inspector Renault wasn’t really shocked in Cassablanca. He was, as Europeans pride themselves on being, deeply ironic and cynical. Are the current European intellectuals aware that this was in the cards? Or are they such dupes that they’ve lost their sense of irony? Is Europe now an irony free zone? And if so, at what cost?

Sylvia Poggioli on NPR said that European governments are disappointed that the billions of dollars poured into the Palestinian money pit did not produce the intended rudiments of a civil society. Au contraire, the money funded corruption, brainwashing, and terror, and led to the electoral victory not of a more serious candidate for civil society but one incorruptible in its dedication to brainwashing and terror.

How could they not have known? After all, the Palestinians have now received twice as much aid per capita in real dollars than either the Germans or Japanese after WWII. What happened to it all? And why were “we” funders not informed of the pitiful results?

Well partly because there was no oversight, no demands for transparency, no follow-up, no demands to respect the deal in Oslo. Now the press compares Hamas to the PLO before Oslo, and the same optimistic predictions about increasing moderation fill the MSM. This is classic LCE (liberal cognitive egocentrism) trying to understand a mentality it a) cannot/will not grasp because it doesn’t want to believe such nasty racist things about the “other” and therefore clings to its paradigm about the Palestinian David oppressed by the Israelis, and b) therefore turns off any information that makes it confront the possibility of another perspective.

Part of the cost of separating Church and State — which is at the core of democracy — has been the relegation of religious belief to the private sphere. As a result, we have lost touch with the power of triumphalist religion. I am right and my God is the true God, because you are wrong; because my scriptures are true, yours are lies; because you and your religion are shamed, I and my religion are honored. Hamas’ beliefs about Islam and the utter impossibility of accepting so humiliating an entity as an independent Jewish state where Dar al Islam once was, and should be, make them uncompromising, even genocidal. We can’t hear that. It’s too depressing. It’s so, like, 10th century.

So we want them to do what the PLO finally did: say they’ll recognize Israel and negotiate with her (even if they don’t really mean it).

Why don’t they? After all the long-honored principle of Taqqiya permits a Muslim to lie to an infidel if it advances the cause. And we’re so desperate for any sign of moderation that even if they said “We’ll negotiate” the way Kevin Klein said “I’m sorry” to John Cleese in a Fish Called Wanda (“I’m sssssss… i’m sssssssss… i’m sssssssshhhhit!”), we’d jump for joy.

So why not say what Europe wants to hear? Honor?

Or, rather, how long before they make the necessary “concessions” in infidel languages? Once the money dries up?

And how will the Europeans react to the most transparently dishonest commitments made in our languages? Will they learn the lessons of the past, in particular the lessons of MEMRI and PMW about what Arabs say in English for our consumption and what they say to each other? Will they demand more of Hamas than they did of the PLO during Oslo? Or will they rush in where fools fear to tread and gobble up whatever demopathic utterances Hamas makes in English so they can go back to throwing their money down the pit?

Hamas = Islamization?

An Hamas official said the group will make Sharia a source of law in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. From
The Globe and Mail:

The No. 1 thing we will do is take sharia as a source for legislation. Sharia has a soul in it and is good for all occasions,” Mr. Abu Teir said in an interview with The Globe and Mail over a lunch of traditional Palestinian dishes supplemented with Coca-Cola. The table was set under photographs of Sheik Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz Rantisi, past Hamas leaders who were assassinated in Israeli air strikes … He made it clear that one way Hamas planned to encourage the next generation to follow sharia was to revamp the Palestinian education system, separating girls’ and boys’ classes and introducing a more Islamic curriculum. We will take such measures because we look at examples in the West, like Sweden. They have the highest level of co-education and the highest level of suicides,” he said. “We would like our children to have a protected environment. We don’t want any distractions for our boys or our girls.

In the meantime “some Palestinians see end of secular dream.” From The Washington Post:

To people such as Batarseh, a Christian physician who became politically active during the first Palestinian uprising in the late 1980s, Hamas’s rise undermines the Arab nationalist dream that is also withering in Egypt, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere as the influence of religious movements grows. Whether Palestinians chose Hamas for its clean management of municipal councils, its long history of attacks on Israel, its religious aspect or simply out of disgust with the status quo, the Islamic nationalism Hamas represents has, at least for now, pushed aside the secular movement that shaped the Palestinian cause from its inception.

Hamas victory? Israel’s fault (for a British politician)

Gerald Kaufman, writing in The Guardian, writes that Hamas’s victory is the inevitable result of Palestinian suffering.

The Hamas landslide is the direct outcome of the utter frustration felt by Palestinians at the failure of anybody to do anything about the abject poverty and oppression under which they spend every day of their lives.

For this British Member of Parliament the withdrawl of Gaza was a scam that only led to more suffering:

Western politicians were gullible enough to believe that the Gaza withdrawal was a stage in the road map that would bring about a two-state solution. Palestinian voters, living in their hopeless predicament, knew better. Their vote for Hamas tells the world: “If we can’t have our state, we will opt for armed resistance.”

Of course, America neo-cons are happy with the results:

The American neocons who surround President Bush swooped with grim glee at the Hamas victory. It suits their plans for the next stage for the region.

This is a perfect example of the Palestinian Suffering narrative that only serves to perpetuate the conflict.

Hamas, A Palestinian Tragedy

In this week’s New Republic, Yossi Klein Halevi comments perceptively on the Hamas victory. The final line makes the key point: this is above all a tragedy for the Palestinians.

Palestinians have delivered their next generation to Moloch, to a movement whose religious pageants include parading children dressed as suicide bombers. The celebration of mass murderers as religious martyrs and educational role models, promoted by both Fatah and Hamas, has now reached its inevitable conclusion in the national suicide of the Palestinian people.

It’s an old story.

Hamas Victory: will pragmatism win? (the world hopes)

Ewen MacAskill writes in The Guardian that the Hamas victory is not a sign of islamization:

The Hamas success does not mean that the Palestinians, one of the most secular populations in the Arab world, are heading headlong towards Islamisation. In many places, the vote was not for the Hamas agenda but against Fatah, stemming from disillusionment with the years of corruption.

“This is the voice of the Palestinian people” announces The Independent:

There can be no doubt over the legitimacy of the Hamas victory … The world has long demanded democracy from the Palestinians. Now they have it. Indeed, that the Palestinian Authority was able to organise such a successful election under conditions of military occupation by Israel makes this an especially impressive feat.

For the Spanish El Pais maybe now the religious dogmatism of Hamas will be replaced by pragmatism.

Los tiempos que vienen exigen calma y contención, y no cabe descartar que el pragmatismo acabe imponiéndose y que verdades consideradas ahora teológicas acaben disolviéndose en una prédica sin graves consecuencias prácticas. En cualquier caso, Hamás se ha erigido en protagonista como consecuencia de unas elecciones plenamente democráticas.

Pierre Rousselin, writing in Le Figaro warned against Western “wishful thinking” about the possibility of a pacifist change in Hamas. Maybe the world should get ready for more war.

Ne nous faisons pas d’illusions. Cela ne réglera rien. Les nouveaux maîtres de Gaza, qui ont lancé leurs kamikazes contre Israël, ne vont pas se convertir de sitôt au pacifisme … Quatorze mois après la mort d’Arafat, l’OLP vient de perdre la direction du mouvement national palestinien. Danger de guerre civile ou danger de guerre tout court, une transition très périlleuse vient de s’ouvrir dans le camp palestinien, comme dans le conflit avec Israël.

In the meantime Ismail Haniyeh, considered the leader of Hamas moderate wing, said that Hamas would maintain its goals:

Regarding the group’s armed struggle against Israel, all he said was: “We will maintain our principles, our objection to the occupation, Jerusalem, the right of return, and the release of all the prisoners.”

Israel Vindicated?

Israel vindicated? That is a strong possibility according to Emanuele Ottolenghi:

The appeasers and the apologists are already cuing up to argue that Hamas has already embarked on the road to realism. But unless Hamas reneges on its ideology and endorses a new course, then Israel’s claim that there is no Palestinian partner is vindicated. The resulting Israeli policy of unilateralism is vindicated. Israel’s argument that the Palestinians do not want peace is vindicated. Israel’s argument that Islamists’ nuances and differences of opinion are just tactical, not strategic, is also vindicated. And the prospects of a Palestinian state will become even more remote. The uniform message that the world gives Hamas should thus be: Take off your veil, and expose your true face for the entire world to see in the naked and transparent light of democracy.

Author: Negociate with Political Islam

Dilip Hiro has an article in Mother Jones about the rise of political Islam in the electoral politics of the Middle East. The rise of political Islam in Palestine, for example, is blamed on Israel.

The Palestinian case is altogether different. Israel’s 38-year-long military occupation, with its devastating impact on the everyday lives of the occupied, has spawned a politics that has no parallel elsewhere in the Arab world. Its salient features include: powerful tensions between local and long-exiled leaders; high political consciousness; a lack of distance between followers and leaders of a sort not found in long established states and regimes; and a turning to religion for solace.

In the same article the author writes that the US has no other option but to deal with groups such as Hamas or the Muslim Broterhood:

As for the policy makers in the Bush administration, they will, sooner or later, have to face reality and deal with organizations such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, as they have found themselves forced to play ball with the religious parties in an Iraq occupied by their troops.

Hamas in Power: Give them a chance (European style)

Italian commentator Bernardo Valli in the newspaper La Repubblica writes that although there are risks in accepting Hamas the rules of democracy demand it so. After all, “if we accept and give our blessing to an election, it is necessary to respect the outcome.” For Valli one of the hopeful signs was that in the electoral platform of Hamas “the destruction of Israel” was not mentioned.

Come Israele, anche gli Stati Uniti e l’Unione Europea hanno fatto sapere che non tratteranno con un governo di coalizione, con ministri di Hamas. Ma se si accetta un’elezione, se la si sollecita e la si benedice, bisogna poi rispettarne il risultato. Lo stesso vale per Hamas. Nel suo manifesto elettorale non figurava, come nello statuto, la distruzione di Israele. Quindi nel corso della legislatura i suoi esponenti dovrebbero attenersi ai loro impegni elettorali. I quali sono stati assunti nell’ambito di una consultazione promossa dall’Autorità palestinese, la quale riconosce lo Stato ebraico. Insomma, la svolta non è soltanto rischiosa.

An editorial from Spanish newspaper El Pais hopes that “Hamas might be forced to a civilized compromise with Israel or become irrelevant.”

Pero una vez en ellas, la política del día a día puede obligar a Hamás a tener que optar entre un cierto compromiso civilizado con Israel o su irrelevancia más allá del terrorismo. Ésta es una de las esperanzas, frágil como todas las demás, que en este momento cabe albergar.

What Happens when a Terrorist becomes Head of State: Lessons from the Soviet Union

My colleague Anna Geifman in Russian history has written an exceptional book on the first terrorists, child suicide bombers and all, the “revolutionaries” of late 19th and early 20th century Russia, entitled La mort sera votre Dieu: Du nihilisme russe au terrorisme islamiste [Death will be your God: From Russian Nihilism to Islamist Terrorism] (Paris, La Table Ronde, 2005). Unfortunately it’s still only in French. But she has allowed me to post some passages from the English draft which, as the Palestinian elections take place, seems worthy of meditation. [Bold passages RL]

When Terrorists Become Head of State
Do patterns of subversive political violence apply to state terrorism which a country’s government imposes from above? What happens when terrorists become state leaders?

“We must execute not only the guilty. Execution of the innocent will impress the masses even more.”

Bolshevik Commissar of Justice Nikolai Krylenko

It is perhaps not accidental that for the first time in history the terrorists acquired state control in Russia, the country where modern terrorism had taken its roots. In a fateful twist of transitory politics that followed the collapse of the imperial regime, the Bolsheviks usurped power as a result of a coup that toppled the ineffectual Provisional Government in November 1917. The takeover precluded a democratic course, since a cardinal feature of the newly-established Soviet rule was its unremitting dependence on state-sponsored political violence—evident in the regime’s very origins. It manifested itself already in the first frantic weeks following the coup d’état and escalated into sanguinary years of the Russian Civil War of 1918-1921.

Lenin and his associates founded and relied on terrorist mentality and practices. The Bolsheviks zealously defended a policy they called “Red Terror”—an instrument of repression by the revolutionary government– as a pre-condition for success in a seemingly visionary endeavor by a handful of political extremists to establish control over Russia’s population. In their view, state “terror from above” was also an expedient tool in restructuring traditional society in accordance with the Marxist doctrine.

Aside from defending expropriations as legitimate methods of revolutionary fundraising, prior to the Bolshevik takeover Lenin had declared on numerous occasions that his party “never rejected terror on principle,” nor could it do so. In 1905 he had urged his followers to establish armed units, identical to the SR combat detachments for the purpose of killing the gendarmes and Cossacks; he also advocated the use of boiling water and acid against soldiers and the police. Throughout the empire the Bolsheviks took part in terrorist activities, including those of major political significance, such as the 1907 murder of celebrated poet and social reformer Count Il’ia Chavchavadze, arguably the most popular national figure in turn-of-the-century Georgia. Having taken over the Russian administration, Lenin and Trotsky labeled opponents of violence “eunuchs and pharisees” and proceeded to implement government-sponsored machinery of state terror—projecting the conspiratorial and semicriminal nature of the Bolshevik party onto the new dictatorial regime.

In their rhetoric, Lenin’s followers presented the Jacobin Terror as a model for their own version of La Terreur, and themselves –as descendents of Robespierre, who had first coined the term and glorified it “an emanation of virtue.” “Each Social Democrat must be a terrorist à la Robespierre,” Plekhanov was heard saying, and for once Lenin was in full agreement with the Menshevik leader’s plan: “We will not shoot at the tsar and his servants now as the Socialists-Revolutionaries do, but after the victory we will erect a guillotine in Kazanskii Square for them and many others.”

Expanding the notion of “motiveless terror” of the 1905 era, the Bolsheviks launched their campaign of political violence against groups of individuals designated as “class enemies” of the proletarian dictatorship, with extermination now being “class based.” In one of the earliest references to their new course, on 2 December 1917, Trotsky declared before a revolutionary gathering: “There is nothing immoral in the proletariat finishing off the dying class. This is its right. You are indignant . . . at the petty terror which we direct against our class opponents. But be put on notice that in one month at most this terror will assume more frightful forms, on the model of the great revolutionaries of France.”

In evident contradiction to their policy of state repression as an ideological weapon, the Bolsheviks justified the necessity to rely on the Red Terror as a rejoinder to a wide range of anti-Soviet activity allegedly perpetrated by a myriad of their internal and foreign enemies — Russian reactionaries, foreign interventionists, and counterrevolutionaries of various leanings — all out to destroy the communist regime. The Communists had to kill in self-defense, they claimed, echoing the paranoid defensiveness of the terrorists during the past underground period. Yet, months before any organized opposition to the Soviets had had a chance to form, the Bolsheviks established the notorious political police, the Cheka (Extraordinary Commission for Combating Counterrevolution and Sabotage), which began its operations formally, if secretly, on Lenin’s order almost immediately after the Bolshevik takeover — on 7 December 1917, and would soon become a primary instrument of the Red Terror. By the first half of 1918, after the Cheka had already had its debut in repression, “counterrevolutionary organizations . . . as such were not observed,” acknowledged its deputy director, Iakov Peters, known as “Peters, the Terrorist.” This notwithstanding, in early June 1918, the first Cheka head, “Iron Feliks” Dzerzhinskii announced that terror was “an absolute necessity,” and that the repressive measures must go on in the name of the revolution, “even if its sword does by chance sometimes fall upon the heads of the innocent.”

To some extent, this text speaks for itself. Not all the parallels work, but substitute religion for class, and you get some interesting thoughts on the possible advent of Hamas to political power. Certainly both the Russian revolutionaries and the Muslim Jihadis share the same millennial ideological imperatives to radically remake society, the same megalomanic paranoia they readily project onto the “enemy,” and the same utter contempt for the lives of anyone who might get in the way — in other words, the key ingredients of a ruthless totalitarian state. As Laurent Murawiec wrote in a recent and illuminating study of Muslim apocalyptic, The Mind of Jihad (Hudson Institute, 2005), if the Russian terrorists’ motto was “God is dead; therefore everything is permitted,” then the Jihadist’s motto is “God wills it; therefore everything is permitted.”

Perhaps if some of our prominent public figures, like Jimmy Carter (one of our candidates for dupe of demopaths), knew a little more history, they might think twice before expressing confidence in such fatuous and unsupported hopes as the notion that when Hamas comes to power, they will become more moderate. Instead of comparing Hamas leaders to Menachem Begin, maybe Carter should compare them to the people whose ideology of contempt for human life — including the lives of their own people — is so similar. But then again, we’re such suckers for the demopaths PR

To rephrase Geifman’s opening phrase: It is perhaps not accidental that when, for the first time in history, terrorists acquired state control they created the first totalitarian state, drenched in the blood of its own citizens.

Are you listening, Condaleeza?

Tell Them What They Want To Hear

Remarkable article in Le Figaro about Hamas campaign to present a “new face” to the Western press. Among the things that Hamas militants are forbiden to say are: “Don’t say you’re against the Israelis because they are Jews.” or “don’t say you want to destroy Israel, talk instead of Palestinian suffering.” (which is exactly what so many Western journalists want to hear)

Le Hamas a aussi embauché des experts en communication pour adoucir son image, notamment en Europe et aux Etats-Unis, où il est considéré comme une organisation terroriste. Les experts ont fait au mouvement les recommandations suivantes, selon Nashat Aqtash, professeur à l’université de Bir Zeit et conseiller du Hamas en communication :

– «Ne pas dire que vous êtes contre les Israéliens parce qu’ils sont Juifs.»

– «Ne parlez pas de détruire Israël.»

– «Parlez au contraire de la souffrance du peuple palestinien.»

– «Ne fêtez pas la mort d’Israéliens dans des attentats.»

– «Changez de couleur de barbe si celle-ci est rousse.»

En affichant le large sourire désormais de rigueur au Hamas, Ismaël Haniyeh explique donc : «Nous ne voulons pas jeter les Juifs à la mer. Ni les donner à manger aux requins. Nous ne combattons pas les Juifs d’Israël parce qu’ils sont juifs, mais parce qu’ils occupent notre terre et parce qu’ils ont transformé notre Nation en un peuple de sans-abri.»

On Palestinian Suffering read here
On Demopaths and Dupes here

The Netherlands: getting tough on immigrants

The Netherlands became the first European country to subject prospective immigrants to exams. From the Brussels Journal

From 1 March onwards people who want to settle in the Netherlands (e.g. to join family members or to marry someone living there) will have to pass a preliminary test at the Dutch embassy in their country of origin. In this so-called “integration test” the immigrants have to prove that they have sufficient knowledge of the Dutch language and the geography, history and political system of the Netherlands. The fee for taking the test is 350 euros. Those who do not pass are not allowed to enter the Netherlands. Those who do pass have only taken the first hurdle. After their arrival in the Netherlands they will have to pass a second – more difficult – exam.

Lost Opportunities with Iran: PCP goes on an LCE Tear

Flynt Leverett has an editorial in the NYT about nuclear diplomacy with Iran. It is all about lost opportunities and helpful offers from both Iranians and others to solve the problem, all of which Bush turned down to the great expense of the world community.

During its five years in office, the administration has turned away from every opportunity to put relations with Iran on a more positive trajectory. Three examples stand out.

In the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, Tehran offered to help Washington overthrow the Taliban and establish a new political order in Afghanistan. But in his 2002 State of the Union address, President Bush announced that Iran was part of an “axis of evil,” thereby scuttling any possibility of leveraging tactical cooperation over Afghanistan into a strategic opening.

In the spring of 2003, shortly before I left government, the Iranian Foreign Ministry sent Washington a detailed proposal for comprehensive negotiations to resolve bilateral differences. The document acknowledged that Iran would have to address concerns about its weapons programs and support for anti-Israeli terrorist organizations. It was presented as having support from all major players in Iran’s power structure, including the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. A conversation I had shortly after leaving the government with a senior conservative Iranian official strongly suggested that this was the case. Unfortunately, the administration’s response was to complain that the Swiss diplomats who passed the document from Tehran to Washington were out of line.

Finally, in October 2003, the Europeans got Iran to agree to suspend enrichment in order to pursue talks that might lead to an economic, nuclear and strategic deal. But the Bush administration refused to join the European initiative, ensuring that the talks failed.

Now I’m neither a diplomat, nor on the inside track of the kind of information Leverett here offers us. But it reminds me of Avi Shlaim’s analysis of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, in which every offer made by the Arabs was an honest offer, sincerely made, and every lack of response by Israel a criminal refusal to solve the problem; and vice-versa, every Israeli offer (as in the offer to withdraw from the conquered territory after 1967 in exchange for peace and recognition) is insincere, and every refusal to respond (like the three No’s of Khartoum — no peace, no recognition, no negotiations), a reasonable caution. Similar to that book’s analysis, Leverett’s seems like a classic case of liberal cognitive egocentrism — they want to solve the problem just like us — mixed with that pathology of self-criticism, masochistic omnipotence complex — it’s our fault, if only we were more open to them.

What makes me suspect Leverett’s analysis of such shallow and misguided notions? For one thing he doesn’t seem to know much about the difference between Sunni and Shii Islam. To think that Iran would be a viable ally in cleaning up the Taliban seems bizarre to say the least. For another, he seems like a eager believer in anyone who says the kinds of things he likes to hear:

Last week, the Saudi foreign minister, Saud al-Faisal, suggested a way out of this impasse – one that might also help address other pressing challenges in the Persian Gulf. The Saudi prince noted that if Iranian nuclear weapons were deployed against Israel, they would kill Palestinians, and if they missed Israel, they would hit Arab countries. And so he urged Iran “to accept the position that we have taken to make the Gulf, as part of the Middle East, nuclear free and free of weapons of mass destruction.”

Note the classic appeal to rational analysis. As if Iran’s president (or anyone else in the Iranian government, or any other radical rejectionist of Israel, including the Wahhabi of the prince’s own nation) cared about Palestinian lives (including Shiite Palestinians), or the lives of any of the other Arabs in the region… as if the logic of suicide terrorism — sacrificing ourselves to exterminate the Israelis is a glorious deed — all of a sudden ceased to apply. This offer rings about as true as the Saudi plan for peace with Israel — addressed to liberal cognitive egocentrists like Leverett who salivate at anything resembling “our” kind of rational thinking coming from the Muslim world. Leverett then goes on to spin a plan for a Gulf Security Council that would include Iran, the Arab states, and the members of the UN Security Council, as if this were a) feasible, and b) would work in the ways he hopes it would.

But all this eager “liberal messianism” is nothing compared with the idea that the way to wean Iran away from its nuclear ambitions is to meet in Riyadh.

A diplomatic resolution of the Iranian nuclear problem is still within reach. But successful diplomacy will require a bold new vision. The next time the five permanent members of the Security Council convene to discuss Iran, perhaps they should meet in Riyadh rather than London.

Bold new vision… the way to the Iranian’s heart is via the Saudi’s schemes… all dressed up to fill we Westerners with the kind of hope that we so desperately crave, and which is, in dealing with the current situation, killing us. And this man is a former National Security Council expert on the Middle East. No wonder we’re floundering. No wonder the NYT featured it on their Op-Ed page.

Academic Bill of Rights ?

Interesting article by David Horowitz in the Los Angeles Times regarding the political correctness and indoctrination dominant in US universities.

STEPHEN ZELNICK is a political moderate who has taught in the English department at Temple University for 37 years. He has served as president of the faculty senate, as director of the university’s writing programs and, more recently, was vice provost for undergraduate studies.

On Jan. 10, Zelnick and I testified as witnesses before a Pennsylvania House Committee on Academic Freedom, possibly the first such committee in the history of higher education in America. Zelnick told the legislators that as director of two undergraduate programs, he had observed the classes of more than 100 teachers. He had “seen excellent, indifferent and miserable teaching,” he said. But in all those courses, he added, “I have rarely heard a kind word for the United States, for the riches of our marketplace, for the vast economic and creative opportunities made available for energetic and creative people (that is, for our students); for family life, for marriage, for love, or for religion.”

Horowitz defends an “Academic Bill of Rights” to “protect students from unprofessional political indoctrination by their professors”

The Academic Bill of Rights is a modest attempt to improve a bad and deteriorating situation on our campuses. It would restore the idea of intellectual diversity as a central educational value. It would make students aware that they should be getting more than one side of controversial issues and that they should not be browbeaten (or graded) on the basis of their political opinions.

Opponents of the Academic Bill of Rights — including radicalized organizations that now represent the academic profession, such as the American Assn. of University Professors, American Historical Assn., Modern Language Assn. and American Federation of Teachers — have attempted to block its progress by waging a campaign of gross misrepresentation and falsehood, accusing me of seeking to put the government in control of university curricula, and of trying to have left-wing professors fired.

David Horowitz will have a new book dedicated to the subject soon, called “The Professors,” published by Regnery.