Monthly Archives: May 2006

More Insights into the “Thriving Civil Society”

Hat tip: DP and JK

Another piece of news from that TCS, Palestine. One of the things that struck me about my last post on the double “execution”/honor-killing was that as the brother emptied his clip into his sister, the rest of the gang fired off their own guns in the air. I thought about that afterwards, like cowboys, celebrating, high-spirited… over the murder of a mother of four children under 12? I guess so.

So I wasn’t surprised when I read this item:

Disappointed investors shoot up Palestinian exchange
Tuesday, May 30, 2006

RAMALLAH — Gunmen hired by leading Palestinian investors have attacked the Palestinian Stock Exchange.
Palestinian sources said the gunmen opened fire on the PA Stock Exchange in the northern West Bank city of Nablus. The sources said nobody was injured in the May 28 attack, but the building was damaged.
“Sources from the stock exchange indicated that the attack was motivated by losses incurred by some individuals, due to the decline in stocks of some companies,” the Palestinian Center for Human Rights said.
Nablus has been regarded as the economic capital of the PA. The stock exchange had risen sharply in April, followed by an equally steep decline.
The sources said foreign investors have decreased activities in the PA over the last year. They cited attacks on foreigners in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
In April, the PA canceled two conferences in the West Bank meant to attract foreign investors. In both cases, organizers said, the investors feared the prospect of abduction by Fatah gunmen.
The stock exchange was also believed to have been affected by the emerging militia war. On May 28, arsonists aligned with Fatah torched the car of the PA Prisoner Affairs Minister Wasfi Qabha in northern Jenin. Nobody was injured.

Reminds me of one of my favorite scenes in A Fish Called Wanda, where Otto and Wanda open the safe after betraying their partner, and there’s nothing there. Otto begins to hyperventilate:

Otto: Ok… Ok… DISAPPOINTED!! Son of a bitch. What do you have to do in this world to make people trust you?
Wanda: Shut up.
Otto: People are always taking advantage of me.
Wanda: Shut up and think.
[Otto pulls out a silenced pistol and fires two shots at the safe]
Wanda: What are you doing?
Otto: I’m thinking.


Palestinians shoot their guns off often. I remember reading about a movie theatre owner in Lebanon who had to stop showing Rambo movies because the local Palestinian clientele would shoot off their guns during the action sequences. They regularly shoot off their guns at weddings and other celebrations. When they had to leave Beirut, they pretended it was a victory and shot their guns off wildly.

Last February, a 10-year old Palestinian girl named Nuran Dib fell down dead while standing on line in school. At first the media ran the Palestinian accusations that Israelis had killed her; the Arab media played every heart string, and Indymedia got predictably indignant. It turned out, she was killed by gunfire coming back down from a gun shot of by a “pilgrim” returning from Mecca.

Apparently there are dozens of deaths yearly in the PA from bullets coming back down from random gunfire. And the Palestinians include them (along with the suicide bombers) among the casualties of their war with Israel.

Civil society demands a great deal of discipline and restraint from its citizens, especially its alpha males. As a result, in an civic sphere where everyone can walk upright, there’s a different atmospheric pressure. The air of freedom is exhilarating. One medieval chronicler spoke of the hilaritas libertatis, the hilarity of freedom.

Prime divider societies in which the alpha males carry guns and shoot them off at will, when they’re angry, frustrated, disappointed, happy, rejoicing… where women and others who do not bear weapons live in a constant state of intimidation… where when they’ve got your sister and they hand you a gun, you “know what you have to do”… these are very different places. They are hierarchical, and the deference, the subjugation of the many give luster to the honor of the few. They have a different atmospheric pressure, much heavier, that bends most people down under its crushing weight.

These kinds of cultures also can’t do well economically. They’re not so much cultures of poverty as impoverishing cultures. The reasons for the decline of the Palestinian stock market are classic signs of the incompatibility of alpha male violence and the emergence of a healthy economy. But lest we think that it’s the crazy militia nuts who endanger the stable civil society who are the violent ones, and those entrepreneurs ready to invest the money, eager to see stability, are our alter-egos, the representatives of a thriving civil society just waiting to happen, let’s not forget… it was the investors who went to shoot off their guns. They’re the Ottos.

No wonder there’s a wall going up. It’s not an aparthied wall. It’s a wall between civil society and prime divider society. Otherwise the pressure from an unbearably oppressive culture would come and crush the remarkable and genuinely thriving civil society that Israel has managed to create in the midst of a desert of human oppression. Too bad their neighbors are too proud to learn anything. Of course, if they did, they’d be accused of betraying the cause, and subject to summary execution accompanied by celebratory gunfire.

Let me be clear here. Not all Palestinians are murderers and maniacs. But the murderers and maniacs rule; and they’ve made anti-Zionist poison their drug of choice. That Palestinians civilians, who live at their mercy, who are force-fed their poisons from an early age, become addicted to it… this I can understand. But we who care, who treasure freedom and human rights, who would never tolerate such brutality in our own lives… how on earth do so many of us, progressives, become so addicted?

Thought for the Day

Hat tip: SHL

fox and hounds2

Honor Killings and Tyranny: Palestinians Execute “Collaborators”

In a double-killing of two alleged collaborators, Palestinians reveal their notions of justice and mercy. (Hat tip: LGF)

May. 30, 2006 18:12 | Updated May. 31, 2006 1:19
Al Aksa kills suspected collaborators

Masked Al Aksa Martyrs’ Brigades gunmen on Tuesday publicly executed a Palestinian man and woman they suspected of having spied for Israel.

The man was shot dead in the main street of a refugee camp, with a large crowd looking on. The woman was later shot to death by her relatives in the courtyard of the West Bank’s largest hospital.

The Aksa Martyrs’ Brigades, an offshoot of Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement, accused Jafal Abu Tzrur, 24, of having informed the IDF where to find three of its members. The three were killed by IDF troops during a raid on the Balata refugee camp near Nablus earlier this year.

Al Aksa gunmen interrogated Abu Tzrur, claimed he confessed and then dragged him into Balata’s main street. As a large crowd looked on, the gunmen threw Abu Tzrur to the ground, witnesses said. When he tried to get up, the gunmen killed him with several shots, the witnesses said.

Note that the very people who claim loud and long that they want justice, execute without trial. There’s no way of knowing whether Abu Tzrur was guilty or not. Clearly his affar with the wife of one of the AMB could explain some of the hostility, regardless of whether he did or did not inform. This is a world of private “self-help” justice, where the affair was reason enough to execute.

The movement said it also killed Odad Abu Mustafa, 27, a Nablus woman. Abu Mustafa was married to one of the Aksa men slain by Israel, and was reportedly having an affair with Abu Tzrur.

Abu Mustafa, a mother of four, was shot by gunmen and male relatives on grounds that she shamed her clan. More than 15 people took part in the execution, witnesses said. It took place in the courtyard of Raffidiyeh Hospital, the West Bank’s largest.

The mob originally planned to kill her in the street but were swayed by a man who pleaded with them not to carry out the killing in the view of little children could. She was then taken into the courtyard of the hospital, said Yousef Mahmoud, 18, who witnessed the killing.

This, of course, corresponds closely to the world of “thriving civil society” that those who profess solidarity with the Palestinians continue to assure us they find when they go to the territories:

Yet scratch the surface just a little deeper and something quite phenomenal is taking place in Palestinian society, despite the photographs and statistics. There is a vibrant, talented, peaceful and very resolute society that is determined, in spite of suffering, to forge a peaceful, democratic and pluralistic state with institutions that are fully prepared for Palestinians to take their rightful place among the society of nations.

That was penned in 2003. Three years later, hospitals are sites of execution, and the best one can do in pleading for mercy is that the woman not be executed in front of children, and no sign of the “forces of order” in sight. This is the cultural underbelly of the civil war that’s breaking out slow-motion in the PA. It’s not “merely” a problem of politics, to be solved by “democratic” elections: democracy is a cultural achievement, and this culture is not ready for it.

“One of the gunmen said ‘where is her brother?’ and when he stepped forward they said to him ‘you know what you need to do,”‘ he said. “The brother took out a gun and shot her in the head with one bullet.”

Mahmoud said the brother then emptied the entire clip into the body of his sister, while the surrounding gunmen fired into the air. He said that the woman remained silent throughout and did not resist her captors.

Neighbors of the woman said she had four children; two boys and two girls, ranging in age from 11 to three and a half.

And who will these children grow up to hate?

And if they do this to their own people for “shaming” them, imagine what they’d do to the Israelis if they had a chance.

But I’m sure Noam Chomsky can find a way to flip the ever-popular moral equivalence and point out how we’re really much worse.

Riots again? France Faces an Apparently Endemic Problem

Hat tip: Antidhimmi.

More trouble starting up in the Parisian banlieu. A long hot summer in store? Note the elements of territoriality involved.

Times Online May 30, 2006

Paris youths clash with police in worst violence since autumn

From Charles Bremner in Paris for Times Online

Police sent reinforcements to the troubled northern Paris suburbs today after a night of rioting revived fear of a return of the violence that raged through France’s immigrant housing estates last autumn.

In another sign of France’s continuing racial tension the Government also ordered a high-level police inquiry into an anti-Semitic black extremist group which staged an aggressive march through the historic Jewish quarter of the capital at the weekend.

Seven policemen were injured in the four hours of fighting last night in the town of Montfermeil which involved some 400 local officers and national riot police. In the fiercest clashes since last autumn, police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades against youths, many masked and wielding baseball bats.

American culture! It’s everywhere.

About 100 youths hurled projectiles and petrol bombs at police and public buildings and attempted to storm the home of Xavier Lemoine, the conservative mayor of the town. The violence was sparked by the arrest of a suspect in the beating of a bus driver earlier this month.

In other words, these “youths” are protecting their territory from police actions. Just like Robin Hood — a refuge from the law.

The Montfermeil violence spread into the edge of neighbouring Clichy-sous-Bois, the flashpoint for last year’s riots. Two youths were electrocuted there in October while hiding from police in an electricity substation.

Dominique Perben, the Transport Minister, called the overnight incident a reminder of last year’s riots, in which 10,000 vehicles and 200 public buildings were torched.

“The question of the suburbs is a question for the entire political class,” said M Perben. We must have the courage to look things in the face.”

Yes, you do. Would that some of your intellectuals had as much courage looking the these things as they do looking at the debased soul of the French intelligentsia.

More than 400 teenagers and young men were sent to jail after the riots, but community leaders have complained that little has been done to answer the grievances of the alienated young in the high-unemployment estates.

Montfermeil has been a focus of tension since Mayor Lemoine decreed a bylaw last month that banned teenagers from circulating in groups of more than three, and required those under 16 to be accompanied by an adult in the centre of the town. A court quashed the bylaws after protests from civil liberties groups.

The Socialist opposition blamed Mayor Lemoine for fostering the violence in his town with his attempt to restrict the movements of youths. “No act of violence can be excused… but the Mayor of Montfermeil has created a local situation which is a factor in the violence,” said Francois Hollande, the Socialist leader.

“If you stigmatise the young to the point of not allowing them to gather in groups of more than three… you have a context which can unfortunately become favourable for this type of rioting.”

Now there’s courage. Define the response as responsible for the riotous behavior, accept as a norm conditions that enable the organization of gangs, and pretend you know the solution. I don’t know if these by-laws are legal, or even effective. But I am willing to say that the response of the Socialist opposition shows little understanding of the nature of the problem.

Politicians and Jewish organisations united today in condemning the acts of the so-called Tribu KA black supremacy group which has come to light this week.

About 30 muscular men in black garb staged a show of force, intimidating passers-by last Sunday in the rue des Rosiers, the Jewish quarter in the Marais district.

“They were all tough guys, wearing black bandannas – it was really organised, they had a camera and were filming everybody,” one witness said.

We have similar behavior among demonstraters here in the US. When the Israeli consul spoke at Boston University some months ago, not only were there raucous protests outside, but among the protesters were people with cameras filming everyone who went in or came out.

For the best post on the Rosiers incident, see Atlas Shrugged.

Members of the group were also reported to have visited sports centres in search of activists in two hardline Jewish youth groups, Betar and the Jewish Defence League.

On its website, which was taken offline today, Tribu K accused the Jewish groups of staging racist attacks against blacks during marches held in tribute to a young Jewish man who was tortured to death on a mainly black housing estate last winter.

Nice demopathic behavior. Play hardball. Adopt a radically racist ideologyy. Then accuse the Jews of being racist and attacking you. This is a group for whom racism is not a bad word… just your racism.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the Interior Minister, today promised tough legal action against the group when he met Roger Cukierman, the head of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions (CRCIF).

This is a serious dilemma for the French. On the one hand, their intellectual and political elite have pontificated in terms that radically misread the situation, so that whatever they do in line with such analyses will only backfire. On the other, they cannot ignore it, because each clash, though not decisive, strikes the rioters as a victory and encourages more. There is nowhere to go but somewhere they have never been. Rather than fascism, they need to think out of the box. Kobayashi Maru.

Baudrillard on 9-11: American Derangement Syndrome and the Ideology of Resentment

I recently got a book by Sam Harris, The End of Faith: Religion Terror and the Future of Reason. (Hat tip: Lawrence Barnes)

It’s hard to judge the entire argument and I’ll probably blog on it later (my initial sense is that he reduces religion to its theocratic and dogmatic variants). But his treatment of the liberal response to Islamism is excellent, and in it he quotes Jean Baudrillard, one of France’s most “brilliant” sociologists. The passage is worth quoting here since it embodies so much of what is wrong with French — and by extensiion, European, and by further extension, progressive, anti-Americanism — a staggering and spectacular insight into American Derangement Syndrome.

Jean Baudrillard, The Spirit of Terrorism
Le Monde, November 2, 2001
(I have adjusted the translation according to my reading of the French original.)

That we have dreamed of this event, that everybody without exception has dreamt of it, because everybody must dream of the destruction of any power hegemonic to that degree, — this is unacceptable for Western moral conscience, but it is still a fact, and one which is justly measured by the pathetic violence of all those discourses which attempt to erase it.

In the end, they did it, but we wanted it.

Got to give him credit for honesty. For those innocent Americans who are not familiar with French discourse, allow me to unpack this remarkable piece of prose. Part of what Baudrillard is trying to say is that when any nation or culture becomes as powerful as the USA, they provoke a resentment so deep that others wish to see it destroyed. On one level, this is true. Even as some people around the world shed tears, somewhere deep inside was a thrill at seeing the mighty brought low. And this is a deep-seated instinct in humans, as Helmut Schoek has argued so persuasively in his book, Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior. But it is, as he explains, a zero-sum emotion with a terrible cost.

He is aware that such sentiments are “unacceptable for the Western moral conscience” (Schoek argues that Western economic development is based on a partial renunciation of envy), but he defends himself. This is not a base reaction. Baudrillard deals not with emotions we can control, but with “facts” — and the key “fact” is that “everyone without exception… must dream of the destruction…” Not one to take responsibility for his base emotions, Baudrillard wants to claim that his feelings are a) universally shared, and b) an entirely predictable response to American hegemony.

If one does not take that into account, the event loses all symbolic dimension to become a pure accident, an act purely arbitrary, the murderous fantasy of a few fanatics, who would need only to be suppressed. But we know very well that this is not so. Thus all those delirious, counter-phobic exorcisms: because evil is there, everywhere as an obscure object of desire. Without this deep complicity, the event would not have had such repercussions, and without doubt, terrorists know that in their symbolic strategy they can count on this unavowable complicity.

Now that we’ve established the objectivity of these emotions, we begin to understand how they give meaning to this deed, how it transforms it from a mere marginal, extremist act, into one of symbolic power. The complicity of which he speaks is the intense emotional sympathy that people like Baudrillard and others who share his profound resentment of American hegemony feel. The terrorists know they can count on this “unavowable complicity.”

Of course, Baudrillard, being brave and honest, a Nietzschean superman, can avow the unavowable. (Later in the essay, he calls on us to go “beyond Good and Evil.”) It doesn’t matter so much that the sentiments here expressed are precisely what Nietzsche viewed with greatest contempt — ressentiment. Apparently Nietzsche was entirely correct in using the French term to designate this particular sickness of the soul.

It is worth noting here that the reference to the terrorists knowing they can count on this complicity recoups a remarkable chronological relationship between 9-11 and the delirious hate-fest directed against both the USA and Israel at Durban which had just finished four days earlier on September 7, 2001. This UN sponsored event, intended to inaugurate the 21st century with a world-wide conference dedicated to eliminating racism around the world, turned into its opposite, a non-stop, grotesquely unhinged assault on the USA and Israel, a platform for every kind of hatred as long as it was directed against white “racism,” at once passing over in silence the live racism of Arab slave trade of black Africans, and offering these same active racists a feast of hatred aimed at their enemies. As the Israeli representative noted in his speech to the conference:

But here today, something greater even than peace in the Middle East is being sacrificed – the highest values of humanity. Racism, in all its forms, is one of the most widespread and pernicious evils, depriving millions of hope and fundamental rights. It might have been hoped that this first Conference of the 21st century would have taken up the challenge of, if not eradicating racism, at least disarming it: But instead humanity is being sacrificed to a political agenda. Barely a decade after the UN repealed the infamous ‘Zionism is Racism’ resolution, which Secretary-General Kofi Annan described, with characteristic understatement, as a “low point” in the history of the United Nations, a group of states for whom the terms ‘racism’, ‘discrimination’, and even ‘human rights’ simply do not appear in their domestic lexicon, have hijacked this Conference and plunged us to even greater depths.

Bin Laden clearly had planned 9-11 well before Durban, but as he recently commented, he could have called it off. Instead, not only did Durban not discourage him (which it might have had it raised the hue and cry about Muslim racism), it almost surely led him to believe that the world would cheer him. And, as Baudrillard reveals her less than a month later, Bin Laden was not wrong.

This goes much further than hatred for the dominant global power from the disinherited and the exploited, those who fell on the wrong side of global order. That malignant desire is in the very heart of those who share (this order’s) benefits. An allergy to all definitive order, to all definitive power is happily universal, and the two towers of the World Trade Center embodied perfectly, in their very double-ness (literally twin-ness), this definitive order.

In case you haven’t caught on, Baudrillard loves this “malignant” resentment. For him it is the spirit of anarchy that is “happily universal.”

No need for a death wish or desire for self-destruction, not even for perverse effects. It is very logically, and inexorably, that the rise to power of power exacerbates a will to destroy it. And power is complicit with its own destruction. When the two towers collapsed, one could feel that they answered the suicide of the kamikazes [sic] by their own suicide. It has been said: “God cannot declare war on Itself”. Well, It can. The West, in its God-like position (of divine power, and absolute moral legitimacy) becomes suicidal, and declares war on itself.

The epigrammatic French of “No need for…” seems to mean “[We have] no need [to posit] a death wish or desire for self-destruction” in order to understand this reaction. The reaction is logical, inexorable.

Again, we return to Baudrillard’s attempt to disguise his base emotions in logic, objectivity, inexorability. No need? But what if, whatever its source, however powerful its pull, this reaction is self-destructive, it does reflects a death wish, it is, however “understandable,” profoundly perverse? From the perspective of people who find liberation of both themselves and their fellow citizens in their pruning back of envy and resentment, however limited our success, Baudrillard’s indulgence in this emotion seems like an act of profound self-destruction. Especially given the circumstances. It is precisely this resentment which will destroy the Europeans, which makes them vulnerable to demopaths and the Eurabian future in store for them. It is, in part, what brought down Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

There is another interesting element in this paragraph of suicidal denial. “The West,” he tells us in his characteristic tone of certainty, “in its God-like position (of divine power, and absolute moral legitimacy) becomes suicidal, and declares war on itself.” Actually, the whole point of the West’s success, intellectual as well as moral, comes from its willingness to be more modest about its claims and hence tolerant about dissent, and more self-critical about its behavior. If there are God-like claims to divine agency and absolute moral legitimacy, it comes from the Muslim terrorists, whose ideology apparently holds little interest for Baudrillard. His statement, shorn of its willful ignorance and projection should read: “It has been said, ‘Europe cannot declare war on itself.’ Well, it can. The Europeans, in their radical bad faith and envy (of American hegemony, and relative but clear moral legitimacy) becomes suicidal, and declares war on itself.”

I skip some of the text to focus on his analysis of American hegemony.

When the situation is thus monopolized by global power, when one deals with this formidable condensation of all functions through technocratic machinery and absolute ideological hegemony (pensée unique), what other way is there, than a terrorist reversal (literally, transfer) of the situation? It is the system itself that has created the objective conditions for this brutal distortion. By taking all the cards to itself, it forces the Other to change the rules of the game. And the new rules are ferocious, because the stakes are ferocious. To a system whose excess of power creates an unsolvable challenge, terrorists respond by a definitive act that is also unanswerable. Terrorism is an act that reintroduces an irreducible singularity in a generalized exchange system. Any singularity (whether species, individual or culture), which has paid with its death for the setting up of a global circuit dominated by a single power, is avenged today by this terrorist situational transfer.

Now it gets interesting, because here we see most clearly Baudrillard’s sleight of hand. America unquestionably dominates the global scene in an absolute fashion: it monopolizes power, takes all the cards for themselves. This is important, since were it not so, the resentment would not be objective, but subjective, and therefore, those who feel it might be held responsible for it.

Now granted, since the “thiry years’ war” of 1914-45 and the rise of America to a position of global dominance, France has suffered from a loss of prestige that it once had. But America’s dominion bears little resemblance to the kind of truly suffocating and contemptuous hegemony that France (and England, and the rest of the European imperial powers of the 19th, a fortiori earlier imperial powers including Islam) had exercised when they dominated the globe. And yet, in order for his ressentiment to operate symbolically, it must be unquestionable, “objective”ly true that American hegemony leaves no room for anything else. It must be absolute in order to deserve the hatred it inspires.

But American hegemony is the least monopolistic, the least forceful of all the cultural hegemonies known world-wide… hegemony lite. And the French in particular, have been the recipient of the most generous (and historically unprecedented expressions of America’s lack of imperialist instincts, having twice been saved by American forces and twice given back its independence, the second time with a great deal of foreign aid and a seat on the UN Security Council with veto-power. As Walter R. Meade notes:

This phenomenon [of anti-americanism] persists despite the fact that few countries benefited more from the American security umbrella in the twentieth century.

France has done very well in the world where America exercises hegemony. They have pursued, often at the expense of the USA, their own way diplomatically, economically, culturally. They have prospered as never before, and had a stable and durable republic as never before. In other words, if there is a people who should not be resentful of American, but rather grateful, it is the French. And yet, among the vast array of anti-American forces taking shape so ominously around the world, they are among the leaders of the pack, with this passage from Baudrillard as a flag flying on the prow of that ship.

So what are the “objective conditions” of her resentment at this hegemony? As far as I can make out, the hegemonic force that suffocates French society, especially among the elites, allowing — at least where the USA is concerned — a “pensée unique”, is resentment that the Americans occupy a place that should be France’s, a sentiment they share (unwittingly?) with the Arabs. When stripped of its intellectual gloss, what we here witness is the deep frustration of the French — and the Europeans — that, by rules that allow them to win, they cannot. No matter how hard they try, by the rules of meritocracy and voluntarism that dominate so much of modern societies choices — what movies you go to, what products you buy, who generates successful innovations — they come in a painful second to the US. Could this be why Europeans find it so easy to explain Palestinian hatred of the Israelis as “intolerable despair” and “hopelessness.” They experience the same “identification” with the “intolerable” helplessness of losing competition to the Americans that the Palestinians feel in their efforts to win their zero-sum competition with the Israelis.

The “absolute” hegemony of the US actually resembles more the feeling of despair that overcomes an athlete when he realizes that some other athlete will consistently beat him. [The Euro and the EU — and Eurabia — were supposed to allow Europeans to compete successfully with the US. But no, things are not working out as they wished.] Does that mean you blow up the stadium, or cheer when someone else does it? This is not “objective grounds” for hatred. This is the height of subjectivity, and height of base motives. But Baudrillard can’t stop himself, and it must be someone else’s fault. Into the spell of words he plunges.

Terror against terror — there is no more ideology behind all that. We are now far from ideology and politics. No ideology, no cause, not even an Islamic cause, can account for the energy which feeds terror. This energy does not aim anymore to change the world, it aims (as any heresy in its time) to radicalize it through sacrifice, while the system aims to realize (the world) through force.

Say what? There is plenty of ideology at work here. But never mind. The energy is, indeed, emotional. It is not, however, a force of nature, a juggernaut that will wipe everything out in its path. And, having studied many heresies, I do not recognize his sweeping generalization — or even his invocation of this base resentment as characteristic of “any heresy in its time.” Garbing his emotions in grandiose disguises — a radical, self-sacrificing heresy, an energy that drives world history, Baudrillard has managed an ideological coup. Now the “system” by which America has achieved its unique hegemony becomes the symbolic expression of “force”, and the violent reaction it inspires, the epitome of liberating resistance. But it’s just the contrary: American (Western liberal) hegemony comes above all from “voluntarism“, and the resistance comes from the very forces that produce the most suffocating, force-driven, self-impoverishing hegemonic societies — envy, theocracy, patriarchy, honor.

Baudrillard insists there is no need for discussions of “self-destructiveness” and “suicidal impulses.” I beg to differ. Only by confronting and renouncing this debasing envy and the distorting lens it focuses on everything — a phenomenon to which Baudrillard’s own essay bears eloquent testimony — is there any hope that Europe can save itself. Baudrillard seems to think himself a successor to Nietzsche — bold enough to look the painful truths right in the eye and speak them aloud. But when I read this convoluted and self-deceiving indulgence in the very resentment Nietzsche despised, I’m filled above all with the sickening sense of witnessing someone who should — were he sufficiently aware — be experiencing Sartre’s “nausea”. Indeed, if anything, Baudrillard has taken Sartre’s place as both a brilliant useful idiot and a patron saint of “bad faith.”

As long as he avoids the freedom to chose to which, as Sartre claims, he is doomed, and indulges in the bad faith to deny that he (and “everyone else”) has that freedom, he (and everyone else he so inspires) is doomed. As the scripture he probably has no time for would advise him: “choose life.”

Read the whole piece by Baudrillard, or even the book. If Europe becomes a Muslim continent in the course of the 21st century, Baudrillard has written its epitaph.

Why Are There Checkpoints: A Brief Reflection Suggests…

Hillel Halkin has an excellent brief piece on the problems of both Israelis dealing with suicide bombers, Palestinians dealing with Israelis, and the Western media dealing with Palestinians expert in yanking their liberal heart strings.

May 30, 2006 Edition, New York Sun

The Purpose Of Checkpoints

May 30, 2006

“….The Zaatara checkpoint, where I was waiting, is one of dozens inside the occupied Palestinian territories, restricting the movement of people and goods….I looked at the two young soldiers arrogantly manning the checkpoint, with dozens of people awaiting a sign from them….

“[A soldier] shouted at a woman holding a crying baby. He ordered her to dump her bag’s contents on the ground…..While we waited in a long queue under searing heat, Israeli settlers in air-conditioned vehicles bypassed the checkpoint in their special lane.

“Israel says these measures are vital to stop suicide bombers from flooding into Israeli cities to terrorize the civilian population. But I can’t imagine a suicide bomber standing in a long line deep inside the West Bank, waiting for soldiers to check his ID and car. Determined people can always travel through the hills, avoiding the checkposts.”

– Fareed Tamallah, identified as a Palestinian “peace activist,” writing in a May 25, 2006, New York Times Op-ed.

“This morning, IDF forces arrested a suicide bomber and an aide who were apparently on their way to a terrorist strike within Israel. The two were caught at a surprise checkpoint put up near Nablus….

“Yesterday, as a result of intelligence passed [to the army] by the General Security Service, many checkpoints were put up in the Nablus area. This morning a battalion of the Haruv Brigade spotted the bomber and his aide north of Nablus. The two threw a bag with the bomb in it out the window of their car and tried unsuccessfully to escape. The bag, in which there was a powerful explosive charge, was exploded by sappers of the security forces.”

– MSN Internet news, May 29, 2006

I can assure you that the above news item did not appear in today’s May 30 Times. Why should The Times have published it? It was an incident, after all, in which no one was killed or even wounded. Dozens of Israeli lives may have been saved because of it, but surely one can’t expect The Times to run a story every time a life isn’t lost.

But one can expect even The Times to refrain from publishing blatant anti-Israel idiocy, not only in its own news and feature articles, but in its op-eds that are written by others, too.

Presumably, The Times has one or more op-ed editors. What exactly went through such an editor’s mind when he read Fareed Taamallah’s statement that, “I can’t imagine a suicide bomber standing in a long line deep inside the West Bank, waiting for soldiers to check his ID and car.” Was the editor fast asleep? Why didn’t he or she get on the phone to Mr. Taamallah at once and say:

“Listen, this sentence of yours is absurd. Of course a suicide bomber would be unlikely to stand in a long line deep inside the West Bank waiting to be checked by Israeli soldiers. That’s one reason the checkpoints are there. If they weren’t, what would keep suicide bombers from driving merrily along main highways instead of having to seek out arduous (and, because of Israel’s security fence, increasingly impossible) alternatives? Do me a favor and rewrite those words, please.”

In fact, Mr. Taamallah’s entire op-ed is absurd. Take the poor woman with the baby, the contents of whose bag were dumped on the ground. One sympathizes with her. There should have been a table to dump them on, and one hopes the Israeli army will acquire some for its checkpoints.

But just suppose for a moment that a nice soldier – a most non-arrogant soldier – had felt sorry for the woman and waved her on without emptying her bag. And suppose it soon became known that at Checkpoint X there are nice Israeli soldiers who do such things. How long does Mr. Taamallah – how long does The New York Times – think it would take before a suicide bomber approached such a woman and persuaded her to stick his bomb in her bag? Would our bomber mind “standing in a long line deep inside the West Bank” then?

Indeed, Palestinian women have been caught at checkpoints with bombs in their bags and clothing, just as have Palestinian schoolchildren. The next time Mr. Taamallah sees a schoolchild with tears in its eyes because a checkpoint has made it late for school, he might think of that.

And because the woman with the baby and the child on its way to school are checked thoroughly at checkpoints, and because this takes a long time, and long lines of cars back up on major roads that have good visibility, a suicide bomber who spots such a line ahead of him has plenty of time to turn around and try a back way. And it is precisely when he does that he can be caught at a surprise checkpoint like the one near Nablus yesterday, when coming around a bend in a narrow road he suddenly runs into a barrier that is seen by him when it is already too late.

The checkpoints are a major source of frustration and indignity to the West Bank’s Palestinians and it is understandable that they are resented and hated. It is even understandable that Fareed Taamallah – who, “peace activist” that he may or may not be, clearly doesn’t lose any sleep at night over dead Israelis – should seek to denounce them in a less than honest manner. But The Times owes its readers more. The purpose of the checkpoints is to save Israeli lives, not to embitter Palestinian ones, even if they end up doing both. Surely that’s part of all the news that’s fit to print.

Mr. Halkin is a contributing editor of The New York Sun.

Here’s a good example of the ways in which the Palestinians’ insistence on complaining to the West (and the West’s readiness to validate their complaints) actually prolongs Palestinian suffering. Either the Palestinians acknowledge that suicide terrorism is the reason why checkpoints are so pervasive and unbearable and work against the terrorism as a way to get rid of the checkpoints, or they work on demonizing Israel to the West so that they can eventually eliminate her. The latter is a Rube Goldberg machine of the most destructive kind, but, hey, it sells really well.

Territorial Wars in Paris: The KA Tribe Stalks the Jewish Quarter

On Sunday, December 28, a bunch of French blacks (Afro-French?) belonging to what they call Tribe KA “visited” the oldest Jewish neighborhood in Paris, the famous “Rue des Rosiers”, looking for a rumble. “Are there any from Betar? [A Jewish self-defense group] Is there a Jew or a Cohen among you?” For twenty minutes, while the police tarried, they intimidated the neighborhood. The details are yet to come (Nidra Poller is preparing an article). But one thing seems certain: Anti-semitism is a growing phenomenon today in France. This group is clearly fringe (and although associated with Islam via the Nation of Islam in the USA, anti-Arab), and the police behavior still unclear. But however hostile they may be to the Arabs and other non-Blacks (whom they view as usurpers on the planet which belongs to them), they have learned from the riots and the torture of Ilan Halimi. These are gangs claiming territory. Yet another challenge to “la République.” Hopefully the French will rise to the occasion.

29 mai 2006
La Tribu Ka, ou le symbole de la haine antisémite qui commence à se distiller au sein d’une frange radicalisée de la population noire
Par Jean-Yves Camus

Rue des Rosiers, ce dimanche 28 mai, un groupe de racistes noirs fait la chasse aux militants juifs. À 18H.30, ce lundi 29 mai, Nicolas Sarkozy exprimait le souhait que soit diligentée une procédure contre ce groupe.

La scène a lieu vers 17 heures, ce dimanche 28 mai. Un groupe d’une trentaine de noirs au physique imposant se campe dans la rue des Rosiers et commence à intimider les passants juifs qui déambulent nombreux, comme chaque dimanche aux beaux jours. Celui qui apparaît comme leur chef déclare qu’ils sont à la recherche des membres du Betar et de la Ligue de Défense Juive ; il assure également, selon des témoins, qu’ils « n’en ont rien à faire des Arabes et des Palestiniens » mais qu’ils veulent « karchériser » les militants juifs. Certains témoins encore affirment les avoir vus faire le salut nazi. La tension est forte, mais il n’y a eu pas d’échange de coups. Au bout d’un moment, les « armoires à glace » repartent comme elles sont venues, tandis qu’arrivent sur les lieux, très vite, six voitures de police.

« Y a-t-il un juif, un Cohen parmi vous ?”

Qui sont ces activistes noirs qui chassent les jeunes juifs en plein Paris ? Les membres d’un groupe séparatiste appelé Tribu Ka, qui se réunissent chaque dimanche en début d’après-midi dans un local de Belleville, dans le Xème arrondissement. C’est la seconde fois en quinze jours qu’ils organisent une expédition de ce genre puisque, vendredi 19 mai vers 19h30, il sont allés provoquer une vingtaine de pratiquants d’un sport de combat élaboré en Israël, le krav maga, dans la salle où ils s’entraînaient, dans le 9ème arrondissement. Le scénario avait été quasi-identique : débarquant avec un air menaçant, ils étaient dirigés par un homme qui demandait à la cantonade « est-ce ici que s’entraînent les militants du Betar et de la LDJ ?” puis, « y a-t-il un juif, un Cohen parmi vous ?”. En fait, il n’y avait pas d’activistes juifs dans la salle, mais un groupe dont le professeur et deux élèves étaient d’origine asiatique, un troisième étant métis. Pas malins, de surcroît, les intrus n’avaient pas réalisé qu’on était à une heure du shabbat, moment peu propice à l’entraînement d’un groupe juif…

“La Tribu KA après avoir adressé son message, s’en alla comme elle était venue, à savoir fière et disciplinée.”
Puis, après s’en être pris particulièrement au propriétaire de la salle d’arts martiaux, accusé d’assurer l’entraînement de militants “sionistes”, le « chef » avait donné à ses troupes l’ ordre de quitter les lieux, en éructant un cri de ralliement (ou de guerre) : «leka». Inconscients, ou provocateurs, ou les deux à la fois, les militants avaient d’ailleurs pris soin de filmer l’ensemble de l’action, qu’on retrouvait bientôt sur le site du mouvement.

La Tribu Ka veut la séparation totale des noirs et des « leucodernes » : les blancs

Qu’est-ce que la Tribu Ka, quelques dizaines de membres tout au plus ? C’est un mouvement qui a pris la suite du Parti Kémite, qui s’est longtemps réuni au Théâtre de la Main d’Or, propriété de Dieudonné (qui semble avoir pris ses distances) et qui se fixe pour objectif de « remettre le véritable peuple élu, kémite de son vrai nom, à sa vraie place : celui de guide de l’humanité ». Qui sont les « kémites » ? Ce sont les noirs, Africains ou Antillais. La Tribu Ka veut la séparation totale des noirs et des « leucodermes », c’est à dire les blancs. Dans une rhétorique délirante, elle clame que « chaque morceau de cette planète lui appartient car, à l’époque où le leucoderme marchait encore à quatre pattes dans les cavernes, nous étions déjà les rois et les propriétaires de ce globe ».

Le leader du mouvement est un déçu du groupe antisémite noir Nation of Islam, qui se fait appeler Kémi Seba et dont le nom d’état civil est Stellio Gilles Robert, né à Strasbourg de parents ivoiriens et haitiens. Le « fara » de la Tribu Ka, puisque tel est son titre, est d’ailleurs connu aussi pour avoir tenu des propos particulièrement favorables aux « patriotes » ivoiriens, adversaires acharnés et violents de la France.

L’intégration comme une « haute trahison » et le métissage comme « la fornication avec l’ennemi »

Ce groupe, qui comporte de son propre aveu d’anciens délinquants, a élaboré une sorte de religion sectaire avec son dieu, Aton, sa langue et sa symbolique. Il se vante d’être « la seule organisation noire à n’autoriser l’accès à ses meetings qu’aux seuls kémites, excluant de ce fait les blancs, arabes ou juifs de nos réunions » . Il considère l’intégration comme une « haute trahison » et le métissage comme « la fornication avec l’ennemi ». Les juifs sont au sommet de leurs détestations et « Kémi Seba » est déjà mis en examen pour avoir, après l’affaire Ilan Halimi, diffusé un communiqué de presse dans lequel il menaçait d’aller « couper les papillottes des rabbins ». L’escalade physique actuelle semble d’ailleurs due au fait qu’en marge de la manifestation à la mémoire de Ilan Halimi, un « kémite » se soit légèrement fait corriger par un groupe de militants juifs.

Mais, au-delà du prétexte, la Tribu Ka est bien le symbole de la haine antisémite qui commence à se distiller au sein d’une frange radicalisée de la population noire. Une haine qui, désormais, se traduit par la recherche de l’affrontement physique, le face à face d’aujourd’hui n’étant probablement pas le dernier.

Demopaths and their Dupes: PACBI on NATFHE

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) has a congratulatory piece on NATFHE‘s decision to boycott Israeli academics. It illustrates nicely the way the demopaths (PACBI) appeal to the most disoriented moral sensibilities of their dupes.

NATFHE Leads the Way in Moral Responsibility
British Academics Vote for Boycotting Israeli Apartheid

29 May 2006

Today, British academics proved once again that they are up to the challenge of meeting injustice with the powerful message of civil resistance that boycott represents. The National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) voted for an academic boycott of Israel in response to its “apartheid policies.”

This is a significant accomplishment considering the campaign of intimidation and bullying waged against proponents of the NATFHE academic boycott initiative by Israeli networks and powerful Zionist lobbies in the United Kingdom and the United States.

Note how they designate opposition as intimidation. I’d be interested to hear from them what they think the Muslim reaction to the Danish Cartoons represented. The photo below is from a London demonstration, so something that the members of NATFHE would know about.

london demo against danoons

At this stage of the international boycott movement, Palestinian boycott advocates, including PACBI, aim first and foremost to keep alive an open and principled debate on the need for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel until it fully complies with international law and universal human rights. The other side primarily works on achieving the exact opposite result by suppressing all opportunities for debate and education on this issue in order to maintain the distorted and deceptive image of the conflict constructed through systematic misinformation and biased reporting in a largely compliant western media.

Being among those opposed to the boycott, precisely because it is a political invasion of an arena (academia) where politics should not drive the agenda, I don’t find this description recognizable. As an inversion of who wants debate and who wants to rant and demonize, it makes sense. As for their characterization of a “largely compliant western press,” it seems that the slightest resistance to Pallywood is unacceptable and nothing short of complete acquiescence will satisfy their need for support. The very fact that they feel the press is pro-Zionist illustrates the ways in which they cannot tolerate any dissent, and why banning Israeli scholars — most of whom have nothing to do with political issues — makes sense to them. These are issues about which they see no debate. They are right, innocent, justified; Israel is wrong, guilty, to be banished.

The NATFHE vote proves once again that despite all the obstacles, boycotting Israeli academic institutions due to their complicity in maintaining Israel’s special form of apartheid against the Palestinians remains prominent on the agenda of western progressives and human rights activists.

It’s excellent evidence that Western progressives and human rights activists are still deeply mired in what Charles Jacobs has called the Human Rights Complex, in which the issue is neither the victim nor how badly that victim suffers, but who the perpetrator is: if white (a fortiori if Jewish) then the indignation is boundless; if “of color”, as in the case of Sudanese perpetrators of genocide, they look the other way or, in the case of Palestinian terrorists, then cheer. To get a sense of how skewed the scales, here is another NATFHE proposal, this time about Hamas:

Conference notes the victory of HAMAS in the recent Palestine Authority elections.

Conference condemns the hysterical reporting of the result by most of the British news media and the outrageous bias shown by UK Government statements against the outcome of a democratic process

NATFHE resolves:

1. to continue to help protect and support Palestinian colleges and universities in the face of the continual attacks by Israel’s government.

2. to contact the Palestinian Authority Government to re-affirm that support.

Now we have a sense of the moral universe in which the Israeli boycott pronouncements carry weight: a genocidal, demonizing, irredentist movement which not only targets Israeli civilians, but recklessly endangers and sacrifices Palestinian children, receives support. And protection and support to an academic scene in Palestine which bears almost no resemblance to the world of free speech and impartial inquiry that supposedly animates the Western academic world. What kind of suicidal alliance with a world of hatred and propaganda can the activists in NATFHE be working towards?

The persistence of academic boycott efforts proves that many academics in the UK and beyond do not buy the disingenuous claim that boycott of Israeli academic institutions conflicts with “academic freedom” or inadvertently promotes anti-Semitism in any way. The first claim is at best hypocritical as it is based on the premise that only Israeli academic freedom counts. The fact that Israeli academic institutions themselves collude in various ways in their government’s grave violations of Palestinian human and political rights, which include the right to education, is lost on those making this claim.

This is interesting, and reminds me of when I was a graduate student in 1982 at the time of the Lebanese incursion (which led to Sabra and Shatilla). The campus where I was working had an organization called CAFIOT: Committee for Academic Freedom in the Israeli Occupied Territories. When I asked about academic freedom anywhere else in the Arab world, and pointed out that every institution of higher education on the West Bank and Gaza Strip first arose under Israeli control since the Jordanians and Egyptians would never allow such a thing to occur, they told me not to change the subject. Apparently the obsession is still at work: Israel is responsible for the lack of academic freedom in the Palestinian territories, and probably for the rest of the Arab world as well.

As for the Palestinian “right to education,” when one realizes how the PA (before Hamas took over as well as after) was used to brainwash a generation to hatred and violence, one wonders just what idea of academic or educational freedom operates in these pro-boycott circles.

As to the ubiquitous anti-Semitism charge, it is now clearer than ever that it is mendaciously being used merely to stifle opposition to Israel’s illegal occupation and horrific human rights record and to abort attempts at effectively resisting this decades-old injustice. The Palestinian Call for Boycott [1] is categorically not directed at Jews or even Israelis as Jews; rather, it targets Israel’s oppression and racism with no consideration to ethnicity or religion.

Where to begin? Let’s paraphrase. Any effort to suggest that the virulence and one-sidedness of this campaign with it’s relentless vilification of Israel and its alliance with open sympathizers with the nazis, might have links to anti-semitism, is just a dishonest effort to escape condemnation. Sounds like a Catch-22 to me.

Let it suffice to remark that no effort has been made to get Arab Muslim academics to condemn the genocide committed by their fellow Arabs and c0-religionists in Darfur and southern Sudan. Why? Because the people behind this petitition live in a world obsessed by Israeli “crimes against humanity” no matter how they pale in comparison with what other nations around the world engage in. That such an obsession has no relationship to the fact the Israel is the only Jewish state in the world seems highly unlikely.

The Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is supported by a growing current of social movements, unions, academics, intellectuals and human rights activists across the world. For instance, it is endorsed by the South African Council of Churches (SACC), the Coalition of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and by hundreds of South African political and academic figures, including Ronnie Kasrils, Dennis Brutus, John Pampallis and Steven Friedman.

All obfuscation notwithstanding, the truth about Israel’s denial of Palestinian refugee rights, its illegal military occupation and its system of racial discrimination remains the fundamental motive behind the expanding BDS initiatives around the world. Israel’s colonial Wall, its ever expanding settlements, its indiscriminate killing of Palestinian civilians, its house demolitions, its relentless land and water theft and its abuse of Palestinian human rights are all too real to be ignored by the international community.

What a terrifying list of abuses might one come up with for three dozen other countries under one tenth the provocation! How interesting that Israel, which grants its Arabs rights no other Arab country grants their Arabs (much less their Jews and Christians), should be called apartheid. There is no current form of apartheid more widespread and dangerous in the world today than that of the legal discrimination against non-Muslims built into Sharia. And here is a Western organization, condemning Israeli “apartheid” while congratulating the “democratically elected” Hamas who have stated their desire to inaugurate Sharia. It’s as if these words don’t really have meaning beyond their designated target, Israel. And this is invoked as “justice”?

Just as in the South African case, a comprehensive regime of sanctions and boycotts remains not only the most politically effective but also the most morally sound strategy in bringing about Israel’s compliance with international law and universal principles of human rights. Only through such effective pressures will there be hope for a just peace in our region, based on equality and dignity for all.

Now I’m curious as to who actually believes this. Who really thinks that by bringing Israel down (whether “to size” or eliminating her), we will find either peace or equality in the Middle East? The same people who here insist that getting rid of Israel (the only country with a working democracy, which even its own Arabs, resentful as they might be, nonetheless concede), will bring peace and equality, turn around and with equal confidence assure us that Arab culture is not ready for democracy when it gives them a chance to heap contempt on Bush.

All told, this document, short as it is, contains most of the elements of demopathic discourse: the constant invocation of human rights, justice, equality, and peace, combined with a relentless agenda of aggression and hatred. That a Palestinian organization should embrace such rhetoric is not really surprising: the “victim narrative” is their bread and butter. But that a Western organization of highly intelligent and educated individuals could fall for this kind of demopathy, and for so long… that remains one of the great (and suicidal) mysteries of our day.

It’s not Only Western Progressives who Cannot Reality Test

Barry Rubin reminds us how “same old, same old” much of the rhetoric we are hearing from Palestinian “strategists” these days. As he points out, the last forty years have proven every one of the now-repeated assertions wrong. So why the repetition? Some would call this dogma: it must be true because my belief system needs it to be true. It certainly illustrates the power of the paradigm to dominate perceptions regardless of anomalies.

But something else is involved: the emotional need to believe that there is something one can do to get rid of that which one finds unbearable. Anything but learning to live with Israel. At the end, Rubin points out the pathetic paradox of all this: as the Palestinians complain about how badly the Israelis treat them, they treat their own people with contempt as cannon fodder in their search to destroy the “Zionist entity”. So the people who are supposed to be weak because they “love life” grow stronger and richer; and those who are willing to sacrifice everything including their children to get what they want, grow more impoverished and more impotent. Alas! The Horrors of Modernity.

Same Old, Same Old
Barry Rubin
May 29, 2006

How times change–or rather don’t. Back in 1971, Egypt’s leading journalist Muhammad Husanayn Heikal wrote, “There are only two well-defined goals on the Arab scene: erasing the traces of the 1967 aggression by Israel’s withdrawal from all the areas occupied by it in that year and erasing the aggression of 1948 by Israel’s total and absolute annihilation…. The mistake of some of us is starting off with the last step before beginning the first.”

This kind of thinking continues to be true decades later, certainly among Islamists and across the spectrum of Palestinian politics. The question is precisely how these two stages are related in the strategy of various groups.

During most of the last 40 years–and continuing today–the means of achieving such total victory was supposed to be anti-civilian terrorism. Arab, especially Fatah, statements from the 1960s sound almost precisely the same as what is being said today by leaders from Hamas, Hizballah, Iran, and even Fatah itself. Of course, these strategies and tactics have been miserable failures for 40 years, which has not discouraged Palestinians and Islamists from continuing to believe them today.

For example, consider what Arafat said in 1968 to explain why terrorism would work: “The Israelis have one great fear, the fear of casualties.” In 1970, a PLO official said that the Israeli enemy has no “potential for endurance, except where a brief engagement is concerned.” Israel would collapse because “Zionist efforts to transform [a diverse collection of Jews] into a homogeneous, cohesive nation have failed.”

Precisely the same arguments, long proven false, were used in a May 23, 2006, interview on al-Manar television by Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah, who explained that Israel was weak and would fall apart because, “It is an extraneous entity. It is not deeply rooted…. Its society is not homogeneous. Some Falasha Ethiopians, some from Russia, and some from I don’t know where…. They are bound together by a baseless and unfounded myth.” (MEMRI translation)

Terrorism would, Arafat said in 1968, “Create and maintain an atmosphere of strain and anxiety that will force the Zionists to realize that it is impossible for them to live in Israel.” Since Jews were cowards, they would prefer, “The life of stability and repose” they enjoyed in their former countries compared with, “The life of confusion and anxiety he finds in the land of Palestine.”

And here is Nasrallah 40 years later, “Another weakness of this entity is that its people came because they were promised security, peace, and a life in the land of milk and honey. But if they encounter something else, they will leave this land.” Of course, during the period between these two statements, Israel’s Jewish population has grown a great deal despite years of war and terrorism.

Nasrallah added, “Our people and our nation’s willingness to sacrifice their blood, souls, children, fathers, and families for the sake of the nation’s honor, life, and happiness has always been one of our nation’s strengths.” Actually, it is the main source of their nation’s weakness, causing dictatorship, unnecessary conflict, enormous waste of resources, civil conflict, lower living standards, and ultimately defeat.

One important change over these 40 years is a readiness to use diplomacy and public relations, concealing–or at least being ambiguous–about the ultimate aim. Yet the refusal to give up the goal of total victory and the method of terrorist violence always sabotages any gains made using either of these tools. And there have also been tremendous setbacks, notably the loss of a superpower ally, with the USSR’s collapse, of almost all active Arab state support.

The idea of following Heikal’s advice–destroying Israel in two stages by pretending to seek only its withdrawal from the territories captured in 1967–is not all that new. By 1971, the PLO was already stating, “We are certainly not opposed to total Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories” as long as this did not preclude, “The Palestinian right to struggle for the full liberation of Palestinian soil… since our struggle did not begin in 1967 but in 1965.”

This position was enshrined in the 1974 Palestine National Council decision to accept “every part of Palestinian land” that could be liberated in order to create a Palestinian state that would continue battling for full victory. In retrospect, this was the concept that guided Arafat and much of the Fatah leadership through the 1990s’ peace process.

Even today, this stance is clear in the public relations-oriented “peace” proposals made by Hamas and also those of Abu Mazin. The key linking concepts today are an unwillingness to make permanent peace with Israel even in exchange for an independent Palestinian state and the demand that all Palestinians who so wish can go to live in Israel. The intention is to continue the struggle both across borders and by the creation of a massive fifth column within Israel itself.

Outside of generating a couple of days of sympathetic headlines, these games will not produce any real results except to keep the conflict going for 40 years more, so that in 2046 Palestinian and Islamist leaders can predict Israel’s imminent demise.

It will also allow them to, in Nasrallah’s words, continue proving their “willingness to sacrifice their blood, souls, children, fathers, and families.” Meanwhile, Israelis–who Nasrallah ridicules for their “strong adherence to this world”–will steadily advance in enjoying high living standards, democracy, and better lives.

Barry Rubin is Director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, Interdisciplinary Center university. His co-authored book, Yasir Arafat: A Political Biography, (Oxford University Press) is now available in paperback and in Hebrew. His latest book, The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East, was published by Wiley in September. Prof. Rubin’s columns can now be read online.

The Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center

Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya P.O. Box 167 Herzliya, 46150 Israel
Email: [email protected] Phone: +972-9-960-2736 Fax: +972-9-956-8605
© 2006 All rights reserved.

Alas, Even Palestinian “Moderates” Play Zero-Sum

lucy offers

In a revealing article, Jonathan Tobin talks about the problem with Palestinian zero-sum attitudes. Some comments interspersed:

The Conflict in a Nutshell

By Jonathan Tobin

Utopians need to learn that for all of the talk of co-existence, the conflict is, even in the eyes of Arab moderates, still a zero-sum game, in which the Arabs lose as long as the Jewish state lives

A real-life illustration

Visitors to Israel are often hard-pressed to assimilate much of what they see. But occasionally, all of the disparate elements of Israeli society with its heavy baggage of history, culture and politics can be placed into a comprehensible perspective.

Such a moment came for me last week while attending the International Conference of Jewish Newspaper Editors. Among the many interesting sessions brought together by its organizers for the assembled Jewish press was an afternoon in Nazareth, the Arab city in the Galilee where we visited a business project many see as a hopeful sign of the possibility of Arab-Jewish cooperation.

Nazareth-based NGT — Next Generation Technology — is a joint project of entrepreneurs, scientists and technicians with a double purpose. On the one hand, it is a business “incubator” that seeks to finance various business ideas with the hope that they will take off and become successful enterprises.


Operating with both private capital and guaranteed government loans, NGT’s founder and CEO, Sharon Devir, describes himself as nothing more than a “venture capitalist” whose aim is to make money.

But Devir has a slightly different angle than the score of other incubator projects currently operating in the country. NGT’s uniqueness lies in its express desire to bridge the vast gap between Jews and Arabs inside of Israel. As such, it has prospered, and gained valuable publicity in the Israeli media because of its status as a joint Israeli-Arab project.

While seeking to get life-science technology-based startups such as Fluorinex (which hopes to produce dental products) and Nutrinia (which produces baby-formula supplements) off the ground, it is also building trust between two diverse sectors of Israeli society.

Nasri Said — NGT’s vice president and the man who chooses which start-ups to push — is an Arab, as are five of its principal local backers. Other financing comes from Israeli Davidi Gilo and a quartet of well-heeled Americans, including Alan Slifka, who has poured a fortune into projects devoted to helping foster understanding between Jews and Arabs.

Devir insists that the co-existence angle of his project is just good business, and his colleague Nasri dismisses the notion that his involvement with Jews would endanger him within his own community.

“This isn’t viewed as a negative,” he says. “Everywhere, Arabs work with Jews.”

But this breath of fresh air was quickly dispelled when the same group that met with the NGT team sat down with a pair of Israeli-Arab journalists in what was ostensibly billed as a session devoted to understanding the issues and concerns that they deal with. Rather than a fuzzy schmoozing session with fellow newsies, what followed was a hard slap in the face for anyone who thought “good business” would be enough to bridge the gap between Jew and Arab.

For anyone who doubted that the conflict – and not life-science technology — was still at the top of the agenda, Haneen Zoubi, the general director of I’lam, a “media center for Arab Palestinians in Israel,” had a wake-up call.

“This land is our [the Arab] homeland,” she spat out when asked to discuss her status. “We are the indigenous people; we’re not immigrants.”

Reciting a laundry list of complaints about the plight of the 18-20 percent of Israel’s citizens who are Arabs, Zoubi made it clear that her main complaint was with the nature of the state of which she is a citizen: “Israel can’t be a democratic state and a Jewish state.”

“We don’t want ‘to destroy Israel’ — we want to change it,” said Zoubi. At the same time, she asserted that she defined herself as “Palestinian,” not an Israeli. That’s because it is the whole Zionist enterprise — and not just some of its policies — that really bug her.

While Prime Minister Ehud Olmert believes his planned unilateral withdrawals from more of the territories will maintain a Jewish majority inside Israel’s borders, it is that very concept that Zoubi rejects. Other plans for putting more Jewish resources into the Galilee and the Negev are nothing more than “Judaizing,” she says. The notion of keeping Israel Jewish is “an obsession.”

“I’m not a foreigner. I have the same rights, maybe more than immigrants from Russia,” said Zoubi.

This is a classic demopath‘s argument. There is no Arab nation in which someone like Zoubi has anything near the rights she has even as a “second-class,” laundry-list-complaint Arab in Israel. Rights are not, pace the US Declaration of Independence, natural and self-evident. They are hard-fought for, created by a society dedicated to them, difficult to sustain. Zoubi treats them as if they are hers by birthright. But that is true only because she was born in that obsession, a “Jewish state”; there is no Arab state in which such rights are a birthright.

The invidious comparison with Russian Jews (who came late by her standards) is particularly instructive. Taking for granted these rights and resenting the very polity that guarantees them, she embodies the distorted sense of entitlement that pervades the discourse of the Arab world today. It would, apparently, never occur to her to compare how the Muslim world has handled its “refugees” with how Israel handles hers. Nor, it’s my guess, would it occur to her to renounce the idea that Muslim states have a right to exist. Fairness and rights, in other words, are for me, not the other guy. These are not good attitudes upon which to build a democratic state.

Her anger was echoed by the other Arab participant in the colloquy, Adeed Alwan, a 63-year-old who has variously worked for Saudi-owned Arabic papers in London, the BBC and the Israel Broadcasting Authority.

Rather than focus on ending the conflict, Alwan was more concerned with rehashing Israel’s War of Independence, in which Arabs living in villages such as the one he was born in were dispossessed by the tide of war.

As such, the discussion quickly spiraled into a composite of every other Israeli-Arab debate about the rights and wrongs of the conflict — and led absolutely nowhere.

Complaints about the difficult position of Israeli Arabs — or Palestinians with Israeli citizenship as they prefer to style themselves these days — are not without justice. Living in a country whose purpose is to be the sole Jewish state while the rest of the Arab world rejects and makes war on it is a hard task.

But to listen to Zoubi and Alwan, who justly describe themselves as “moderates” within an Arab context, is to hear people who have not made peace with the idea of a Jewish state. They are unmoved by living in a country where Arabs can vote for parliament since it does not automatically translate into the power to squelch the Jewish majority.

This puts the dilemma in the nut shell: Demopaths want to use democracy to destroy democracy. We demand the rights to eliminate the system that provides the rights.


Far from accepting the idea that Arab sovereignty in the land must content itself with the putative Palestinian state currently ruled by the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Authority, their implicit demand is that Israel — and not just the West Bank and Gaza — must be purged of its specific Jewish identity if they are to be satisfied.

For all of the talk of co-existence, the conflict is, even in the eyes of these Arab moderates, still a zero-sum game, in which the Arabs lose as long as the Jewish state lives.

If Israel wins, even the slightest amount, we lose. The seeming irrationality of this position — especially given the untold suffering it’s brought down on the Palestinian people, especially the refugees — may strike most Westerners as difficult to understand. (That’s normally when, to preserve their cognitive egocentrism, they prefer to believe the Palestinian victim narrative in order to “explain” rationally why the Palestinians are so intransigent.) But the heart of it lies in the very system they seek to destroy. Civil society, with its human rights, and women’s liberation, and the empowerment of commoners produces the very world of knowledge, wealth and power that so humiliates the Arab political cultures around it, so numerous, spacious, endowed with vast reserves of oil, and yet so steeped in poverty, servility and impotence.

That also means that even if Olmert’s scheme for separation is completed, that will still leave a potentially hostile Arab minority within Israel’s borders. Can they be satisfied with business development projects when it is still the fundamental issues of identity that are at stake?

Those thinking that a restful peace lies just beyond the next round of “disengagement” will have to have an answer to that question, lest they doom Israel and its friends to further disillusionment. Unfortunately, on even the sunniest days in Israel, it can take only an hour or two for even a bright glimmer of hope to be overshadowed by rancor.

This article, more than most, cuts to the heart of the problem between the Moebius Strip of cognitive egocentrism (we liberals project our good will on them; they project their malevolence on us) which produces the Politically correct paradigm (it’s our fault, if only we’re nice, they will reciprocate) on the one hand, and the sharp eye to detail revealing the irredentist attitudes that undergird a supposedly “moderate” position on the other. We Western liberals are so eager to believe, that, like Charlie Brown and the football, no matter how many times we are betrayed, and no matter what the cost of our misplaced trust, we can be convinced to “try again.”

charlie brown

Response to Mike Odatella: Do You Really Mean This? Or are you a Demopath?

Mike Odetalla, a Palestinian from Beit Hanina, who writes a great deal about his and his people’s suffering has a poem he wrote in 2000 (before or after the “Al Aqsa Intifada”?) in which asks a number of questions. I give Here are some of my answers. I give you the poem in its entirety first so you can savor his work, then I fisk it.

Give me Justice

Peace in the Holyland
By Mike Odetalla

Give me Justice and judge me by a jury my peers
who’ve experienced oppression, loss, and fears

Is it my lot in life to wallow in misery and sorrow
all that is offered are promises that are hollow

My people seek only justice no less no more
and for that you unleash on us the dogs of war

Cast away the rhetoric and leaders of old
their visions offer nothing to us and cannot sold

Freedom, justice, and happiness in our life
will surely put a final ending to this strife

Oh people of peace help us make a final stand
we don’t want your pity, just a helping hand

May peace reign forever in the Holy Land
because this is after all what God intended in his command…

Mike Odetalla 2000

In what follows, I have Odetalla’s poem in bold with my remarks interspersed.

Blogs and Rage: What are the Consequences of Greater Access to Knowledge

Wretchard at Belmont Club has a post on the impact of the blogosphere on trends in world opinion, somewhat misleadingly entitled:

The tree of knowledge of good and evil.

He begins with a discussion that bounces off of a post from, Disruptions in The Fourth Estate, on how the blogosphere has become increasingly competitive with the MSM, even on the MSM’s own terms, as in the in-depth report published by The Politics of CP on the Jamaat ul-Fuqra Training Compound inside the US. Daniel Harrison’s point at Blogcritics is about the blogosphere as a disruptive technology that undermines what seems like a solid hold on an important area of economic activity (in this case the Fourth Estate, or journalism). Such new trends destabilize expectations and open up radically new possibilites for the future. (This is precisely what happened (although far more slowly) with the advent of printing).

Wretchard then segues to the long term impact of the blogosphere and an essay by David Ignatius in the Washington Post:

So why does the world feel so chaotic? Why is there a growing sense that, as Francis Fukuyama put it in a provocative essay in last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, “More democracy will mean more alienation, radicalization and — yes, unfortunately — terrorism”? …

There are lots of reasons why the world seems (and may well be) more chaotic.

  • in part because we know more about chaotic events that have been happening all the time. (If a raid happens somewhere in the world and the media doesn’t report it, did it happen?)
  • in part because of globalization and the intense cultural encounter it brings.
  • in part because the kinds of paradigms that we have been working with (in particular the media and academia) which gave us a false sense of security as well as an enormous sense of guilt, are all of a sudden not working… even worse, they are backfiring.
  • in part because modernity is based on a hubris that replaces nature/God/chance with our will, and when we gain the kinds of powers that technology brings us to make choices, we begin to worry about the unintended consequences of playing with the forces of the universe.

Some of this is related to the role of the media which has played a critical role in the emergence of the modern world. Very little of it is related directly to the blogosphere which has only just begun to play a role.

Charles M. McLean, who runs a trend-analysis company called Denver Research Group Inc. (I wrote a 2004 column called “Google With Judgment” that explained how his company samples thousands of online sources to assess where global opinion is heading.) I asked McLean last week if he could explain the latest explosion of rage in our connected world — namely the violent Islamic reaction to Danish cartoon images of the prophet Muhammad.

McLean argues that the Internet is a “rage enabler.” By providing instant, persistent, real-time stimuli, the new technology takes anger to a higher level. “Rage needs to be fed or stimulated continually to build or maintain it,” he explains. The Internet provides that instantaneous, persistent poke in the eye. What’s more, it provides an environment in which enraged people can gather at cause-centered Web sites and make themselves even angrier. The technology, McLean notes, “eliminates the opportunity for filtering or rage-dissipating communications to intrude.” I think McLean is right.

It’s not clear how much of a leading question Harrison asked McLean, but McLean’s answer is jumps right to the wrong conclusion, showing very little knowledge of the dynamics and even less sense of history. What triggered the riots was Imams with phony pictures who went around parts of the third world arousing fury among populations who do not surf the internet. It was just the kind of fury that the Mufti of Jerusalem aroused in 1929 with faked pictures of a Jewish flag flying over the Dome of the Rock; or Peter the Hermit incited among Christians in 1095-6 with tales of Muslims molesting Christian pilgrims in Jerusalem. This kind of rumor-induced mob violence is as old as civilization.

If anything the violent reactions of the Muslim street, although unquestionably fueled by cyberspace Jihad, was far more likely to have been whipped up by TV reports of flushed Qurans and Abu Graibh. And behind that lies the very process of globalization which, in bringing everyone into a “global village” has hurt the self image of many a culture that, in its splendid isolation, could continue to imagine itself supreme. When the millennial celebration of December 31, 1999 circled the globe, the Arab and Muslim world looked in the global mirror and did not like what it saw. Justifiably.

So why would McLean jump to a cheap McLuhanism about the blogosphere to explain things? As a number of commenters at Belmont Club noted, it’s partly motivated by the radical insecurity that the blogosphere inspires in the MSM. While their insecurity is understandable, it’s not very pretty. And given their arrogance when they thought themselves invulnerable, and the damage that they have been doing — especially since 2000 — it’s hard to be sympathetic.

But the issue goes still farther. Like some person in denial, who doesn’t want to admit something, the MSM will readily project what they refuse to acknowledge in one place onto someone or something else. Actually, if we want to do a McLuhanesque analysis, TV is far hotter medium, a much greater inciter than the blogosphere. It takes no intelligence, no training, no will to channel surf, and the appeal of pictures well chosen and spliced is far more compelling than reading the writing at blogs and responding.

Wouldn’t it be nice to hear the MSM do an analysis of, say, the Palestinian media that was as relentlessly critical. Let’s just use McLean’s language substituting Palestinian MSM for the blogosphere.

By providing instant, persistent, real-time stimuli, Palestinian telelvision takes anger to a higher level. “Rage needs to be fed or stimulated continually to build or maintain it,” he explains. The electronic MSM provides the Palestinian leadership with the opportunity to provide an instantaneous, persistent poke in the eye to their people. What’s more, it provides an environment in which enraged people can watch together and then gather in the street and make themselves even angrier. The monopoly on the technology of TV and radio, and the failure of the Western press to challenge their propagandistic journalism, “eliminates the opportunity for filtering or rage-dissipating alernative communications to intrude.”

But, alas, that is the kind of analysis you’ll have to go to the cyberspace and the blogosphere to get.

I mentioned that Wretchard’s post was somewhat misleading. He primarily addressed the “fruit of the tree of knowledge.” In fact it’s the MSM’s deep moral confusion — their inability to see evil when it comes in exotic forms and their readiness to see evil when it comes in the form of the narcissism of small differences — that lies at the heart of both the MSM’s massive failures and the challenge the blogosphere poses.

The misogynist reading of the story of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil is that Eve sinned first by eating the fruit. But as anyone who believes in free will and God knows, God wishes us to be autonomous moral beings. So eating the fruit of moral knowledge is a no-brainer. Of course God wanted Adam and Eve to eat of that fruit. It’s part of maturing into an independent adult. The sin was pointing the finger, using the knowledge of good and evil for evil, to blame someone else; and that Adam did first. By telling the tale as Eve’s fault we replicate that primordial sin.

Now, in our world of post-modern political correctness, we do the opposite. We go fall for the Masochistic Omnipotence Syndrome of self criticism. Our MSM points the finger of blame at the very culture whose dedication to freedom makes them possible, and protects a misogynist culture of hatred and oppression whose merciless leaders would use every piece of technology we generate to enslave the human spirit.

So if there’s a source of rage out there in the media world, it’s the disgraceful combination of abuse of the technology of communication to communicate hatred, and the determination to jump on the bandwagon, or look the other way, or blame the whistle-blower on the part of the supposed professionals of our MSM.

Egyptian Bloggers Make a Dent

The Christian Science Monitor has an article on Egyptian bloggers that suggests some interesting new developments in the world of cyberspace and politics. (Hat tip: Miss Kelly)

World > Middle East
from the August 24, 2005 edition

Egypt’s growing blogger community pushes limit of dissent

Despite a crackdown on the Net by other Arab countries, Egypt’s bloggers are leading antigovernment protests.
By Charles Levinson | Correspondent of The Christian Science Monitor

CAIRO – With unkempt black locks and a laptop tucked under his arm, Alaa Fattah has a voice that carries further than those of other antigovernment activists. Mr. Fattah, just 23, is one of Egypt’s leading bloggers, part of an online community that acts as a virtual megaphone for Egypt’s burgeoning opposition movement. Other countries in the Middle East have started cracking down on the Internet, arresting bloggers and imposing strict censorship regimes.

As bloggers gain clout in Cairo, observers say it is only a matter of time before Egypt follows suit.

At a recent demonstration in Cairo’s Opera Square against the 25-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak, activists distributed placards that read “Freedom Now” and “No to Oppression.” Fattah, on the other hand, passed out lists of websites to a dozen or so local bloggers who act as an unofficial media outlet for Egypt’s disparate opposition.

“You just can’t rely on the mainstream media here,” he says.

And it’s even more true in Egypt than it is here.

The connection between the Internet and dissent is not new. In the late 1990s, Zapatista rebels in southern Mexico gained international attention for their plight, largely because of a savvy Net campaign. Similarly, the antiglobalization protests that rocked Seattle in 1999, and have hit other cities since, were organized largely online. Today, blogs, or Web journals, have taken up the charge.

The number of blogs worldwide has doubled in the past five months, and a new blog is created every second, according to a recent report by the blog-watchers Technorati. The Middle East is witnessing its share of that growth.

Many Arab bloggers are tackling sensitive political and human rights issues rarely broached by the state-controlled media. They are proving to be a powerful source of information, capable of reaching a few hundred like-minded activists, or of rallying international attention to a cherished cause.

Having spent some time with Sandmonkey, I can testify to the exceptional nature of at least one of the Egyptian bloggers. He illustrates well the ability of the blogosphere to host exceptional and iconoclastic talents. And last March he passed a million hits.

What consequences such developments will have, however, remains to be seen. It’s easier to blog against an oppressive but archaic dictatorship like Mubarak’s than it is against a dynamic and totalitarian movement like the Muslim Brotherhood. Let us hope that things don’t turn out as they did in Iran in 1979, where the progressive forces worked to bring down a dictatorship, only to open the door to a millennial theocracy.

Read the rest.

Moral Narcissism in “High” Places: Professors Protest Condi

Here you have it. Boston College Professors using the motto of moral narcissism to protest the granting of a degree to Condoleeza Rice.

BC profs protest condi

What’s a level-headed undergrad to think?

Update: Solomonia also found this picture comical, but it produced a far lengthier and more interesting post, including a link to a speech by a student named Jean Rohe which epitomizes the combination of flakey utopianism and self-righteousness that constitute a fine illustration of moral narcissism, and a response from John McCain’s speechwriter Mark Salter (in the comment section to the post at Huffington). Read it and the links, as well as the comments… all of which suggest that, as the culture wars go, we are in trouble.
to a student criticizing John McCain

Are We Waking Up Yet? James Woolsey has

Woolsey, former CIA Director, nails it.

West Bank Terrorist State
May 23, 2006; Page A16
What does one say to a good ally who seems determined to reinforce failure? That the U.S. will pay for the undertaking?

Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is in Washington, where he will be asking for advice and assistance in financing the withdrawal of 50,000 to 100,000 Israeli settlers from 90% to 95% of the West Bank and major portions of Jerusalem, and for the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to be repositioned largely near the security barrier Israel is constructing. Most Americans are inclined to believe that such disengagement may be a reasonable step toward a two-state solution, even if some territorial disputes remain to be negotiated. It is also widely assumed that Palestinian hostility to Israel is fueled by despair that can only be reduced by Israeli concessions. Both assumptions, however, may be fundamentally flawed.

The approach Israel is preparing to take in the West Bank was tried in Gaza and has failed utterly. The Israeli withdrawal of last year has produced the worst set of results imaginable: a heavy presence by al Qaeda, Hezbollah and even some Iranian Revolutionary Guard units; street-fighting between Hamas and Fatah and now Hamas assassination attempts against Fatah’s intelligence chief and Jordan’s ambassador; rocket and mortar attacks against nearby towns inside Israel; and a perceived vindication for Hamas, which took credit for the withdrawal. This latter almost certainly contributed substantially to Hamas’s victory in the Palestinian elections.

The world now needs to figure out how to keep Palestinians from starving without giving funds to a Hamas government in Gaza resolutely focused on destroying Israel. Before his massive stroke last year Ariel Sharon repeatedly said he would not replay the Gaza retreat in the West Bank. With good reason: Creating a West Bank that looks like today’s Gaza would be many times the nightmare. How would one deal with continuing launches of rockets and mortars from the West Bank into virtually all of Israel? (Israel’s Arrow missile defense will probably work against Iranian Medium Range Ballistic Missiles but not against the much shorter-range Katyushas.) A security barrier does no good against such bombardment. The experience in Gaza, further, has shown the difficulty of defending against such attacks after the IDF boots on the ground have departed. Effective, prompt retaliation from the air is hard to imagine if the mortar rounds and Katyushas are being launched, as they will be, from schools, hospitals and mosques. [and the Western media and NGOs jump on the casualties to deplore Israeli aggression.

Israel is not the only pro-Western country that would be threatened. How does moderate Jordan, with its Palestinian majority, survive if bordered by a West Bank terrorist state? Israeli concessions will also make the U.S. look weak because it will be inferred that we have urged them, and will suggest that we are reverting to earlier behavior patterns — fleeing Lebanon in 1983, acquiescing in Saddam’s destruction of the Kurdish and Shiite rebels in 1991, fleeing Somalia in 1993, etc.

Three major Israeli efforts at accommodation in the last 13 years have not worked. Oslo and the 1993 handshake in the Rose Garden between Yitzhak Rabin and Yassir Arafat produced only Arafat’s rejection in 2000 of Ehud Barak’s extremely generous settlement offer and the beginning of the Second Intifada. The Israeli withdrawal from Southern Lebanon in 2000 has enhanced Hezbollah’s prestige and control there; and the withdrawal from Gaza has unleashed madness. These three accommodations have been based on the premise that only Israeli concessions can displace Palestinian despair. But it seems increasingly clear that the Palestinian cause is fueled by hatred and contempt.

Israeli concessions indeed enhance Palestinian hope, but not of a reasonable two-state solution — rather a hope that they will actually be able to destroy Israel. The Iranian-Syrian-Hezbollah-Hamas axis is quite explicit about a genocidal objective. When they speak of “ending Israeli occupation” they mean of Tel Aviv. Under these circumstances it is time to recognize that, sadly, the Israeli-Palestinian issue will likely not be the first matter settled in the decades-long war that radical Islam has declared on the U.S., Israel, the West and moderate Muslims — it will more likely be one of the last.

Someday a two-state solution may become possible, but it is naive in the extreme to believe that this can occur while the centerpiece of the radical Islamic and Palestinian agendas is maximizing Jewish deaths. A durable compromise will only be achievable when we no longer, to borrow from Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “define deviancy down” for the Palestinians.

Today we cannot envision the 250,000 Jewish settlers who live outside Israel’s pre-1967 borders being permitted to live at all, much less live free and unmolested, in a West-Bank-Gaza Palestinian state. But some 1.2 million Arabs, almost all Muslim, today live in Israel in peace among some 5 million Jews — about double the percentage of Jews now in the West Bank as a share of the Muslim population there. Israel’s Arab citizens worship freely — one hears muezzins calling the faithful to prayer as one walks around Tel Aviv. They vote in free elections for their own representatives in a real legislature, the Knesset. They give every evidence that they prefer being Arab Israelis to living in the chaos and uncertainty of a West Bank after Israeli withdrawal.

A two-state solution can become a reality when the Palestinians are held to the same standards as Israelis — to the requirement that Jewish settlers in a West Bank-Gaza Palestinian state would be treated with the same decency that Israel treats its Arab citizens. Until then, three failures in 13 years should permit us to evaluate the wisdom of further concessions.

Mr. Woolsey, a former director of Central Intelligence, is co-chairman of the Committee on the Present Danger.

Wow. Why are there so few who think so clearly?

The Impact of Hamas on Palestinian Media

A recent article in the Egyptian newspaper The Middle East Times, reveals much about the problems of media in the Middle East and the vast gap that separates Arab journalism from the standards of modern professional journalism:

Hamas butts heads with local media
Vivian Salama
Middle East Times
May 15, 2006

CAIRO — At least seven Palestinian journalists have reported receiving alleged death threats for their scrutinizing coverage of the Hamas government. According to the Palestinian Journalists’ Union, the threats – received by telephone, e-mail and fax – were said to be signed by Hamas.

Apparently no concern here with leaving a paper trail. I guess when the threat is realistic and the protection for a free press limited, the mafiosi need not worry about evidence.

In the embattled Palestinian territories, leeway for journalists to report has been impeded in the past. A number of reporters were reportedly beaten for reproachful coverage in the past, and in 2004, a journalist who ran a government-funded magazine was killed.

Parliamentarians say that further development of the Palestinian owned-and-operated media is a priority as it serves as the mouthpiece for the ruling party and a barometer for the political struggle with Israel.

It’s not entirely clear what “barometer for the political struggle with Israel” means, although MDPH (Muhammad al Durah per Hour) comes to mind. In other words, government control of the media is necessary in the fight against Israel… one more example of the sacrifice of Palestinian rights (to know just how corrupt and vicious their government is) on the altar of a battle that the public — were it to know the truth — might not support.

Under Palestinian law the president remains the highest authority over the public media. Fatah officials are concerned, however, that when President Mahmoud Abbas must go through parliament to pass any legislation related to the media, his minority faction will not be able to get a word in edgewise.

“There will probably be a struggle,” admits Palestine’s former deputy prime minister and minister of information Nabil Shaath. “I think Hamas will try to take over the radio and television from the president. Even when the president tries to implement laws, these will be stopped by parliament if Hamas doesn’t like them.”

“There is really a great deal of uncertainty thus far,” says Ziad Abu Amr, an independent MP from Gaza. “The media is a tool in the struggle. This is a national struggle and so we mustn’t air just any programming in haste.

Again, note the complete lack of self-consciousness here. Of course the media is a tool. Only dupes like Charles Enderlin think that their Palestinian assistants are “journalists.”

The Hamas-run parliament is currently forced to convene in split sessions. Prime Minister Ismail Haniya had to address his Ramallah-based cabinet from Gaza via satellite uplink. Resembling a businessman more than militant leader, Haniya admits that a cut in aid will be detrimental to the prosperity of Palestine, but emphasizes that the new government will not bow to foreign pressure.

The victory of Hamas, deemed a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel, instantly threatened Palestine’s flow of financial aid. Nearly $2 billion of the Palestinian Authority’s (PA’s) annual budget comes from overseas sources, the majority from the European Union (EU).

In April the US agreed to provide some $245 million in response to the growing humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian territories – the money would be distributed through the United Nations and other non-Palestinian NGOs. Most surprising, however, was an undertaking by the EU to send $143 million in emergency aid to the PA.

A portion of the EU aid package to Palestine goes to funding its state-run media. A far cry from the often militant programming that defined Palestinian media in the days of the Intifada, today’s Palestinian media – made up of some 80 networks – risks being silenced more so by financial loses than by the bullets that continue to be exchanged with the state of Israel.

“From the first days of the intifada in October 2000, Palestinian TV canceled all regular programming,” recalls Itamar Marcus, director of the ringwing [sic] Israeli group Palestinian Media Watch. “It was a nonstop war atmosphere with one-two-three clips encouraging young kid to be shaheed [martyrs]. Since the elections, we’ve seen a rise in violent clips – clips with a little more hatred in the messages being broadcast.”

During the second intifada Palestinian media centers in Gaza and the West Bank often served as targets for the Israeli military. In February 2002, for example, Israeli soldiers left retaliatory explosives in the Ramallah-based Palestinian Broadcasting Company (PBC) headquarters following a deadly massacre on Jewish guests at a Bat Mitzvah in Hadera. Several floors of the building were destroyed and the PBC was blown off the air.

One week after the attack, PBC’s deputy coordinator Maher Al Rayyes was the first to broadcast a message during experimental transmissions.

“Sons of Arafat know very well how to start from nothing; no one will mute the Palestinian voice,” he said.

Palestinians would go a step further, substituting regular programming with public service announcements promoting the glories of martyrdom. Commercials called out to children to, in one instance, “drop your toys; pick up rocks”. Such messages would peter out by the end of 2004, though critics believe that they have the potential to resurrect with the succession of the Hamas-run government.

“By the time of the elections, Palestinian television was showing more variety – children’s programs, sports,” says Marcus. “Now so-called education programs dealing with ‘historical’ [issues] are bringing academics talking about why Israel has no right to the land, about the delegitimization of Israel.”

“We want to establish a framework that television is not just entertainment, but to educate the people,” says Ghazi Hamed, editor-in-chief for Hamas’s Al Resala (the Message) newspaper and spokesman for the Islamic resistance movement.

It’s a cultural weapon. It talks of our morals, of our national struggle against Israel.”

Now here’s a worthy meditation for Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman on just what the differences between education and propaganda are.

Meanwhile, just as the PA under Fatah was plagued by corruption, rumors of wrong-doing behind the scenes of the state-run media have long cast a shadow of doubt over its integrity.

With the chairs in parliament still warm from the former government, Hamas is already butting heads with the local media. This week, a number of Palestinian journalists complained of alleged death threats for reporting critical evaluations of the new government since it assumed power in March.

Previously known more for its militant calls for the destruction of Israel, Hamas must urgently seek a balance between its hardliner political agenda and its social responsibility to the people of Palestine. Officials with the new government believe that it is by well-equipping Palestine’s media arsenal that it will gain an advantage in their struggle to create a nation.

It is not to our advantage to broadcast messages against Israel or America,” notes Youssef Rezqa, Palestine’s new minister of information under Hamas. “We want to correct the international image of Hamas through the media. There is so much about Hamas that has been forgotten because of this political panic.

Now I confess to some confusion here. Is Rezqa saying that the PA media is a tool for convincing the West that Hamas is not a terrorist organization with a paranoid genocidal ideology? That, as the Western media never tires pointing out, Hamas also provides social services…? And is this to inform the West or deceive it?

And if the media is for propaganda, deception, and belligerence, what about the media as a place where the degree to which a Hamas government actually does serve its people gets examined?

My sense is that Western indulgence of Palestinian “journalism” has meant that none of the modern Western professional ideals of journalism have penetrated this world. Journalism here is propaganda, tools of struggle, PR. Dissent is handled through intimidation and violence. In such a suffocating atmosphere, how can Palestinians be expected to understand just who is victimizing them?

Who’s Singling Out Israel?: Fisking Mike Marqusee

The Guardian recently ran an opinion piece by Mike Marqusee on the perennial problem of whether criticism of Israel is anti-semitic. This topic does not seem to be a major focus of his work and it shows. Below a fisking of an article as rife with analytic failures as it is with misplaced moral self-confidence.

Who’s singling out Israel?
Mike Marqusee
May 17, 2006 04:05 PM

In breach of international law, Ehud Olmert has declared that Israel will redraw its boundaries unilaterally, incorporating the major West Bank settlements and maintaining a military presence adjacent to the Jordan.

Well, it doesn’t take Mike long to tell us where he stands. After all, as a specialist in sports, culture, and politics, he knows well the clear and simple issues in international law surrounding the unprecendented case of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Meanwhile, the EU and the US have suspended aid to the democratically elected Palestinian authority, threatening Palestinians with a collapse of public services and deepening penury (see the World Bank report).

Interesting use of “democratically elected” as if that made them legitimate. No hint here that this government has and continues to take public positions that align them with some of the most paranoid and genocidal forces in history. As a result, the perfectly understandable reluctance of the EU and the US to support such a choice — as if choices arrived at democratically were by definition good — becomes a kind of arbitrary cruelty. And behind this, of course, lies a notion of democracy so jejune — any democratically elected government is legitimate, even if the people in their (predictable) folly elect demagogues who will not allow another election — as to suggest they were not paying attention in 8th grade civics class.

Yet those who join this Saturday’s Palestine solidarity demonstration in London will be accused of unfairly singling out Israel. They will be asked: why not Darfur, Kashmir, Saudi Arabia, Burma, Aceh, Kurdistan, Tibet or Western Sahara? It will be suggested that, in this context, adopting the Palestinian cause can only be a reflection of enduring anti-semitism.

Well, that’s one way to set up a straw man. I personally would not argue that it “can only be a reflection of enduring anti-semitism.” I’d argue that it may be that, (although I’d prefer to call it Judeophobia), but that it’s even more strikingly a reflection of a profound ideological confusion and moral failure, in which one supports a cause for “moral” reasons, no matter how immorally the proponents of that cause behave.

One of the ironies of this charge is that for decades the Palestinians were invisible in the western media; not only was there no visible campaign on their behalf, there was scarcely any acknowledgment of their existence. Now, when their cause has at last been taken up by an international movement, that movement is told that its protest is illegitimate because others now suffer the inattention that was once the fate of the Palestinians.

I’m not sure what decades MM has in mind, but it surely can’t be any of the last 4 decades, during which the plight of the Palestinians has received a level of sympathetic attention in the international press far exceeding either their numbers or the degree to which they suffer, and often to negative effect. Surely the coverage of the first intifada (1987-91) far exceeded the attention to, say, the coverage of decades of genocidal warfare in southern Sudan. Having created a false premise, MM then proceeds to what is supposed to be an ironic twist: finally in the spotlight, their protest is illegitimate because of the other movements not in the spotlight. Actually, the argument is, “Palestinians are and have been in the limelight despite their despicable behavior and their self-destructive intransigence at the expense of groups far more deserving of international sympathy both on the basis of their suffering (Sudan) and their refusal to behave like vicious monsters (Tibet).”

Al Durah and Egyptian Pop Music

Hat tip Diana Muir.

Earlier this month, The New Republic ran an article on a 51-year-old pop star sensation, an Egyptian named Shaaban Abdel Rahim Shaaban. He got launched on his political career by Islam Khalil, a song writer twelve years his junior. Khalil recalls the point at which he succeeded in getting Shaaban to work with him:

Khalil says he originally wanted to write songs for Amr Diab, one of the biggest stars in Arabic pop music, rather than Shaaban. “He was not very famous, but he was the first famous singer who asked me to write for him, so I did,” Khalil says. It took eight years for him to persuade Shaaban to go political. The catalyst was the shooting of Mohammed Al Dura, a twelve-year-old Palestinian boy who died in his father’s arms during a shootout between the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinian gunmen at the beginning of the second intifada in 2000. Khalil says the images of Dura’s death inspired him to do something he says he almost never does: He wrote an entire song straight through. In the late evening, he called Shaaban and sang the song’s first lines, “I hate Israel, and I will say so if asked. Even if I’ll be killed or imprisoned.” Shaaban, according to Khalil, liked it immediately and memorized it for weddings. “People were moved by it,” Khalil said of the initial response. “It was Ramadan, and everyone knew about Mohammed Al Dura.” By the end of the Muslim holy month, Khalil and Shaaban went to the studio and recorded the song, “I Hate Israel,” with phony crowd noises.

“I Hate Israel” became an underground sensation and is reported to have sold more than one million copies on cassette. It created a new archetype for Egyptian political music. It was far blunter than any of the pro-Palestinian music that was coming out at the time. The successful 2000 song “Jerusalem Will Be Ours Again,” by a Live Aid-style benefit of Egyptian actors and pop stars, treats Dura as follows: “This was a little Palestine child in his house. Is it his sin? This is his history and his ancestors and his land and sky.” Compare that with Shaaban, who gets right to the point:

I hate Israel, and I hate Ehud Barak,
since he is repugnant,
and all of the people hate you.
All of the time, Egypt forgets,
and has a lot of patience.

“‘I Hate Israel’ is my favorite,” Khalil says. “It is the reason for my success.”


Note the electrifying impact that the news of al Durah had on Egyptian culture. It inspired Khalil to new hights of “creativity”; decisively shifted Shaaban towards political music; produced extremely popular results; and, of course, if it were possible, hardened attitudes against Israel. The contempt for Barak — why him and not Ariel Sharon? — is part and parcel of the unanimous sense of outrage and indignation that the al Durah footage produced around the world: “I hate Ehud Barak, since he is repugnant, and all of the people hate you.” Shaaban sings the song at weddings. “It was Ramadan and everyone knew about al Durah.”

Also note that the New Republic reports the “death” of al Durah as if it were uncontested, and has him dying “in his father’s arms,” when what is most disturbing about the sequence is that, once shot (takes 4-6), the father makes no attempt to reach for or protect his son. Et tu Brute?

Where are the Feminists: The Silence of the Left on Hirsi Ali

Phyllis Chesler writes a characteristically penetrating denunciation of her former colleagues in the “progressive feminist” camp asking why they have failed to make any protest over the scandalous treatment of Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

May 19, 2006, 6:42 a.m.
Priorities Out of Order
Where are the feminists?

By Phyllis Chesler

The Dutch people have driven the heroic Aayan Hirsi Ali out of parliament, out of Holland, and out of Europe. Their shameful appeasement of murderous, totalitarian Islamism has accomplished what the jihadists could not do: sadden one of Europe’s most important critics of jihad. Bat Yeor, the author of Eurabia: The Euro-Arab Axis, tells me that this confirms “how low Europe has sunk. Instead of being grateful to Hirsi Ali, she is banned.” Robert Spencer, author of The Politically Incorrect Guide To Islam, assures me that “Holland would rather become a Sharia state than have to put up with someone who is trying to stop that from happening.” To be fair, Holland has recently strengthened its immigration policies in ways that Muslims claim are “offensive” and “discriminatory.” Would-be immigrants will now have to pay 350 euros ($430) to take a “civic integration examination,” must already speak Dutch, and must indicate a willingness to live in a country in which nude beaches and homosexual marriage are legal.

This represents a late-in-the-day, but serious, effort to control immigration. But Holland has also just sacrificed and exiled their most important prophet. Theo von Gogh, Hirsi Ali’s collaborator on the film Submission, was murdered by a second-generation Dutchman of Moroccan origin. Since then, Hirsi Ali has lived under 24-hour guard. Her Dutch neighbors did not want to live near such a high security risk (which also lowered their property values) and brought a lawsuit to have her evicted. On April 27, they succeeded. Then, a documentary aired in Holland which alleged that Hirsi Ali had “lied” in order to be granted political asylum and Dutch citizenship. Former Immigration Minister Hilbrand Nawijn called for Hirsi Ali to be “stripped of her Dutch nationality and deported.” Nawijn was head of Immigration and Naturalization Service when Hirsi Ali applied for asylum. Hirsi Ali’s own family provided “evidence” against her in the film. According to the Wall Street Journal, on May 15, Holland’s current immigration minister, told Hirsi Ali that “her passport, granted in 1997, would be annulled.”

Like Oriana Fallaci, who dares not travel to her beloved native Italy or to Switzerland lest she be arrested and tried for her views about Islam, Hirsi Ali will now also be living in exile in America—the last, and perhaps only, bunker against jihad. Will she be granted political asylum in America? And if so, on what grounds?

The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) has offered Hirsi Ali a position. Karlyn Bowman of AEI tells me that “President Christopher DeMuth extended the offer to her on May 16 to become a resident scholar.” Ali had visited AEI last year and spoke to a small group, who were “impressed by her extraordinary odyssey and by her courage, charmed by her easy manner, and also impressed by the scholarly projects she wants to pursue.”

So, one of the world’s leading feminists has been offered a safe perch by a conservative think tank. I am not surprised. My own views about Islamic gender- and religious-apartheid have been received warmly and respectfully by conservatives, while such views have been attacked by many feminists as ”white nationalist” and ”racist.” To the best of my knowledge, the American feminist movement, with its vast access to university positions, has not offered Hirsi Ali a perch. Perhaps multi-culturally correct feminists are ambivalent about challenging Islamist misogyny—lest they too be censured as “racists” or threatened with death. Indeed, as I document in my book The Death of Feminism: What’s Next in the Struggle for Women’s Freedom, among most feminists, race trumps gender. Many feminists are now more concerned with the alleged “occupation” of Palestine than with the occupation of women’s bodies under Islam, and they tend to blame America and Israel for the sins of Islam.

America’s Nation magazine presented a critique of Hirsi Ali (who is a black African and former Muslim) as a “reactionary” who “puts all the blame on Islam” instead of blaming “patriarchal customs” and for failing to focus on the “role the West has played… in assisting the rise of the Islamist movements.” On the other hand, according to NOW President Kim Gandy, “Hirsi Ali forced the treatment of immigrant women into the public arena in the Netherlands—and she suffered for it. Perhaps her outspoken advocacy will push the issue into the U.S. consciousness as well.”

However, female whistle-blowers constitute a psychological challenge for many women. They defy the unspoken rules of female behavior. Whistle-blowers are neither conformists nor passive. They do not aim to please or appease those whose criminal misdeeds they expose. Female whistle-blowers are not ”indirectly aggressive.” Hirsi Ali is not slandering or shunning other women—the approved outlet for female aggression and competition. She is directly and publicly challenging corrupt male authority on behalf of women. Less courageous women, including feminists, may not identify with or feel compassion for her. In addition, women often find it hard to support a woman who enjoys more public attention than they themselves do.

Larry Derfner Tries to Think Like a Historian… Not!

Larry Derfner came to my attention a while back for a particularly nasty expression of moral indignation at some “racist” Israeli sentiments, and in looking into Derfner’s positions on other issues, I ran across an article he wrote on the “Irrelevance of Arab Hatred.” It struck me as a particularly good example of a dogmatic defense of the Politically Correct Paradigm whose logic ignored any contradictory evidence and yet expressed itself in terms of a “logic” of causal analysis.

Part of what makes reading the two articles — “Rattling the Cage: Israel is their home” and “The Irrelevance of Arab Hatred” — so striking when considered together is that the very sentiments he denounces among Israelis as “piggish” and “racist”, he sweepingly dismisses as insignificant when they show up — in far more virulent form — among the Arabs.

The Irrelevance of Arab Hatred


By Larry Derfner
derfner illustration
The consensus view of the intifada among Israelis, Diaspora Jews and American conservatives — that it’s caused by Arab hatred and rejection of Israel — is nothing but a lousy excuse. An excuse to say Israel is wholly blameless in this affair, and there’s nothing Israel can do except plod on, dying and killing. It’s an excuse to block out any doubt, and to go on with this bleak worldview that does, at least, offer the comfort of certainty.

Often when people speak in such blunt and dismissive tones they are telling you about themselves. The clue here is: “an excuse to say Israel is blameless…” which is in a league with “any time you criticize Israel in any way, you’re accused of anti-Semitism,” and “oh so it’s all my fault…” a line favored by children and spouses who don’t want to take any responsibility. The totalistic language of dismissal gives you a clue to the motivation, here projected on those who dare point out the importance of Arab hatred in perpetuating the conflict. Reverse the logic and you’ll get an idea of where Derfner is going (I know, no fair, I peeked). Dismissing the importance of hatred among Arabs allows us to return responsibility for action squarely on Israeli shoulders.

So let’s introduce a little doubt. If all this terror is caused by Arab hatred and rejection of Israel, how do we explain Egypt? Egypt’s armed forces haven’t fired a single shot at Israel in over 25 years. Does Egypt hate Israel any less than the Palestinians do? Are its newspapers and bookstores and general public discourse any less loaded with anti-Semitism? Does it have any less abhorrence for the idea of a Zionist state across its border?

Well, no. It’s true that Egyptian (and Arab) media are filled with anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic material, that paranoid conspiracy theories about Israeli gum causing impotence and Israeli shampoo causing baldness have destroyed economic relations between the two countries. But it’s also true that the intensity of indoctrination about Israel is nowhere near the levels in the Palestinian Authority, that children do not graduate kindergarten by symbolically dipping their hands in the blood of Israelis or collaboratiors slain in effigy, that Egyptian officials don’t structure Egyptian identity around the notion of sacrificing anything and everything for the sake of destroying Israel. Egypt, in other words, is not a frontline state in the war against Israel, and its government is not run by suicidal merchants of death. So no, it’s not the same and the idea that it is, shows how little Mr. Derfner knows (or cares) about what’s going on in the Arab world.

Egypt is the biggest, strongest country in the Arab world, an incomparably greater threat to Israel than the Palestinians ever could be. Its society is rampant with Islamic and Arab nationalist militancy, and hatred of all things Jewish. Yet even though the Egyptian “street” erupts in war cries, the Egyptian leadership resists.

If Arab hatred and rejection of Israel is the reason for Palestinian violence, why has Egypt been so thoroughly nonviolent toward Israel for so long?

This is obviously intended as a rhetorical question intended to be answered: “Arab hatred is not the reason for Palestinian violence.” But Egypt and the Palestinians are not equal entities. With Egypt, there’s an address: were they to start a war, not only would the Israelis pound them, but the media would not step in to protect their military as it does the Palestinian “civilian” fighters. The Egyptians have lost three major wars to the Israelis and have buried the hatchet, because unlike Palestine, Egypt is not run by suicidal maniacs who have been delegated as the sacrificial victims on the altar of Arab pride.

The same question could be asked about Jordan. Jordan hasn’t touched Israel in 35 years. As a matter of fact, most Jordanians are themselves of Palestinian origin; do they hate or reject Israel any less than do their brethren in the West Bank or Gaza? So why hasn’t Jordan joined the intifada?

Remarkably, we can even raise this issue regarding Syria. Except for when Israel went galumphing through Lebanon in the early 1980s, Syria hasn’t mixed with Israel since the last of the Yom Kippur War.

Which leaves, among Arab nations on Israel’s borders, Lebanon. Here we have to place an asterisk. Hezbollah is without question fighting Israel. But another unquestionable fact is that since the Israeli army pulled out of southern Lebanon over two years ago, Hezbollah has fought Israel with only a small fraction of its previous intensity.

Israel shares borders with five different hateful Arab nations. It has formal peace with two of them: Egypt and Jordan. It has de facto nonbelligerency with a third, Syria. With a fourth, Lebanon, it has a limited border clash. Only with the fifth and smallest neighboring Arab nation, the Palestinians, does Israel find itself in an agonizing war with no end in sight.

Derfner presents all this as if it were a “natural” situation. Both of those peace treaties were with governments that recognized they could not defeat Israel and preferred to step away from belligerency, but whose “street” continues to embrace it. Were either of two factors to change — a new government that embraced belligerency (e.g., an Islamist government) or a shift in the balance of power wherein the present government thought they could win — this situation upon which Derfner builds his case, would cease to exist.

What’s special about the Palestinians? Not their hatred of Israel, not their rejection, not their fearlessness and certainly not their strength. What’s special is that they are the one Arab nation whose rightful country — the West Bank and Gaza Strip — has been usurped by Israel.

Now that is an interesting formulation: whose rightful country — the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Straight out of PCP (is it 1 or 2?), it assumes a) that the Palestinians have a rightful country that it consists of the WB and the GS, and b) that they recognize that as their rightful territory and will be satisfied with that. The first strikes me as an indulgent form of cultural imperialism — if the Palestinians have a “right” to a country it’s conditional on their becoming a responsible people, which is far from self-evident, and further, we know what are the “right borders” because it’s convenient for us to designate this area as their “rightful country.” The second assumption is classic cognitive egocentrism — I’m sure they’ll be happy with what we’ve designated for them… after all, that’s what they say in English… more or less. Having assumed the truth of this extraordinarily unlikely concept, everything else Derfner has to say falls into place, including his (coming) contempt for the Israelis in their arrogant occupation.

Every other neighboring Arab nation can tend to its own affairs without any Israelis around, but the Palestinians have 220,000 Israeli settlers, and many thousands of Israeli soldiers, staring them in the face, lording it over them.

Again, the key to the formulation here, to the term “lording it over them” is the axiomatic assumption of Politically Correct Paradigms (PCP) notions: the Israelis have a choice, if they just would stop “occupying” Palestinian space as defined by us honest and fair progressives, then there would be no conflict; if they are there, it’s to lord it over people… etc.

This is the way it’s been since 1967.

And before 1967 there was peace? Jordan and Egypt and Syria didn’t engage in violence against Israel then? Or does this remark reflect the classic PCP anachronism? That is, the history of the conflict begins with 1967 and the “occupation” is therefore the source of the conflict.

Even in the “good old days” of the Oslo accord, when the “peace camp” was running Israel, the West Bank settlers kept taking more and more Palestinian land. Palestinians still had to pass through Israeli army and border police checkpoints on their way through the West Bank, and the more candid Israeli soldiers, not to mention human rights organizations, can tell about the frequent brutalities and humiliations that went on there.

One would not know from this description that during these “good old days,” the PA was engaged in a systematic campaign of hate-mongering (but I forget myself, hatred doesn’t count) and that suicide bombing was only the most grotesque expression of that hatred. As for Derfner’s sources here, the “more candid Israeli soldiers” represent a group with exceptional moral sensibilities and self-critical faculties (bordering on Masochistic Omnipotence Syndrome (MOS)) and the “human rights organizations” represent a group at once dedicated to a dubious ideological agenda and full-fledged dupes of Pallywood.

It’s true the Palestinians turned down a good-faith Israeli offer of land-for-peace at Camp David to launch the intifada, which puts most of the blame for the current bloodshed on them. But not all the blame. For three and a half years, between the bus bombings of 1996 to the outbreak of the intifada, the Palestinian Authority effectively put down Hamas and provided the Israelis with pretty good security. But in return for delivering three and a half years of a decent approximation of peace, the Palestinians didn’t get much more land — only 13 percent more of the West Bank in that fairly quiet period. Meanwhile Israeli settlements and bypass roads kept eating away at what Palestinians and the rest of the world thought was supposed to become their state. So while the Palestinians are guilty of starting the intifada, Israelis can’t say they were innocent of any prior provocation.

Again we are treated to an extraordinary version of history. The opening phrase: “It’s true the Palestinians…” represents quite a concession from Derfner and the PCPers who normally dismiss the Camp David offering as “nothing but Bantustans“, but like a teenager with ADD, our analyst cannot stay long on the subject. The key factor needing analysis — why the PA responded to generosity with ferocious violence — becomes a concessive clause in a remorseless obsession with Israeli fault. The rest of the paragraph segues from “mostly” but “not entirely” the fault of the Palestinians, to focus on Israel’s contribution to a problem. As for the description of the conditions, we get classic MOS: they did a good job (“delivered a decent approximation of peace”), we were awful. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explore just what version of reality and what maps Derfner uses to give us his statistics, but I suspect he’s getting them from trusted sources like the PA and the NGOs.

It’s also true the Palestinians killed the chance for peace with their demand for the right of return, and for exclusive Islamic rule over the Temple Mount. They’re going to have to drop these demands if the fighting is ever to end. But why is it unimaginable that the Palestinians might change?

Here we get a good insight into the thinking behind PCP. We know what’s good for you (positive-sum). It’s obvious what you have to do. And I’m sure you will soon see the light. Unfortunately, this last rhetorical question Good question, to which there are depressing answers, is about to get a “why not?” answer.

Egypt provoked the Six Day War, and later joined Syria to attack Israeli forces on Yom Kippur 1973, killing 2,600 of our soldiers. Who would have thought that four years later Egypt’s leader Anwar Sadat would be cheered wildly on the streets of Jerusalem,

But not Cairo or any other Arab capital.

and that one-quarter century of peace would ensue? A cold peace, even freezing — the important thing is that no one gets hurt.

Larry, why do you sound like a Jewish grandmother? 25 years of cold, even freezing peace is a solid sign that things are getting better? That the Palestinians, in following in the path of Egypt and Jordan, will lead to no one getting hurt?

The Egyptians would love to be rid of Israel. So would the Jordanians, Syrians and Lebanese. But they don’t dare try it, because they’re afraid of Israel’s superior power. As long as Israel leaves them alone, the Arabs, with the minor exception of Hezbollah, don’t do anything more than mutter. And if Israel leaves the Palestinians alone — if it gets the settlers and soldiers out of the West Bank and Gaza — there’s no inherent reason why the Palestinians shouldn’t eventually come around and join the other neighboring Arabs to hate and reject Israel, but to leave them in peace.


It’s harder to come by a better example of cognitive egocentrism. All that’s missing is a comment like the one made by a specialist on NPR at about the time this column was written: “Any Palestinian with a three-digit IQ knows that Israel is here to stay.” Derfner clearly thinks that what’s on the surface in the Arab world is what counts. If Egypt maintains a 25-year long cold peace, then that’s solid.

James C. Scott, in one of the best books of historical and sociological analysis I know, Domination and the Arts of Resistance, quoted Vaclav Havel on his opening page:

Society is a very mysterious animal… with many faces and hidden potentialities… and it’s extremely short-sighted to believe that the face society happens to be presenting to you at any given moment is its only true face. None of us knows all the potentialities that slumber in the spirit of the population. Vaclav Havel, May 31, 1990.

By now it should be obvious I think Derfner is “extremely short-sighted.” He tries to engage in “causal analysis,” and show by comparison with other cultures that have the same factor but don’t behave in the same way, that the factor in question — hatred — has no causal importance. But what if… what if hatred is not a homogenous entity — there or not — what if at different levels it operates at differently, and needs a tipping point in order to trigger activity?

During the intifada, for example, one sardonic Israeli commentated that the violence could be calculated by MDPH (Muhammad al Durah per Hour) on Palestinian TV. Whipping up outrage and hatred unquestionably plays a role in provoking violence. The question is not, hatred or not, but how much, when, where, and operating in what psychological climate. Unquestionably the Palestinians suffer more than other Arabs as a result of their contact with the Israelis. But that’s not by accident. They are the designated victims; for the rest of the Arabs to remain quiescent in their hatreds, the Palestinians must be “on the front line.”

What Derfner has attempted here is the kind of causal analysis historians are supposed to do all the time. What were the causes of the French Revolution, Bolschevik Totalitarianism, World War I, etc.? We then look for the factors that look like they might apply, we compare the situation to other places with the same factors to see if they operate the same way. For example, Alexis de Toqueville wrote a famous book on the French Revolution arguing that it was not poverty that caused it (since there was worse poverty in the rest of Europe), but rather rising and disappointed expectations. (A similar point disproves the causal link between poverty and terrorism today — lots of places with poverty but no terrorism.) This is as close to the idea of “science” and “proof” that historians get in causal analysis.

What historians have found, over time, is that a) things are overdetermined: lots of things contribute to a given effect; b) given our inability to sort out the “noise” of countless details we cannot “control for” (unlike laboratory scientists), we dare not claim to “prove” anything, only “demonstrate”; and c) most events are part of a web of factors and without understanding the cultural ecology one really doesn’t have much of a handle on what’s going on. (For a wonderful meditation on this issue, see Tom Stoppard’s brilliant play Arcadia.

In the case in question, we are dealing with an ecology of hatred which, like some epidemic, has outbreaks in different populations and spread according the factors that need close attention. The model we use has a great deal to do with what we look for and notice. For example, if one uses the PC Paradigm, that is, that the rational behavior of the surrounding Arab states will communicate itself to the Palestinians — or, in Derfner’s words: “there’s no inherent reason why the Palestinians shouldn’t eventually come around and join the other neighboring Arabs to hate and reject Israel, but to leave them in peace” — then hate is irrelevant and not worth paying attention to.

If one follows the Honor-Shame Jihad Paradigm (JP) (i.e., that the Palestinians are a key factor in a larger Arab strategy for destroying the humiliating existence of Israel), then hate is a key factor in keeping the violence going in Palestine, and simmering in the rest of the Arab world. In the one model, concessions will produce reciprocating de-escalation; in the other they will produce further violence. In other words, according to the paradigm that Derfner rejects a priori (as racist and hateful), the hatred that Derfner acknowledges is omnipresent in the Arab world but dismisses as a relevant factor, will metastasize as a result of the policies he favors.

Thus, by PCP expectations, a withdrawal to ’67 borders will bring peace; but by JP expectations, it will bring a sense of empowerment and a spread of violence. (Even Derfner acknowledges that it is only the fear of Israeli retaliation that keeps the Arabs at bay.) These issues are obviously no small matter. And Derfner’s analysis, riddled with liberal cognitive egocentrism which he asserts aggressively (as if to disagree was immoral as well as stupid), is crude even by the standards of early 20th century positivist historiography.

Derfner’s problem, the source of his crude and superficial causal analysis lies in his agenda. He wants so badly to believe that there is something “his side” can do to advance peace, that he will view the world in such a way as create “real” possibilities for constructive action — i.e., withdraw to the 1967 borders. Given the immense flaws upon which the PC Paradigm is based, one might expect those who still adhere to it after 2000 to show just a bit of modesty in their advocacy.

But no. Derfner is filled with contempt for those who might view the situation differently. His confidence in such a faulty paradigm leads him to give the Palestinians the benefit of the doubt and to heap criticism on “his own.” Finkielkraut identified the dynamics here: Derfner is not a hate himself; its other Jews he holds in contempt.

If this were merely the overheated moral imagination of Jews afflicted with Masochistic Omnipotence Syndrome then the rest of the world could just look on, like the centurian in Life of Brian who shakes his head in disbelief as he watches the People’s Front of Judea and the Campaign for Free Galilee duke it out.

But it’s far more problematic than that. While Derfner and his moral-perfectionist friends do their public dance of self criticism, feeding an increasingly frenzied chorus of anti-Israel hysteria on the left, they make it virtually impossible for the uninformed outsider to perceive the situation and its gravity.

It’s not anti-Semitism that fuels are current malaise, although antipathy to Jews and Israel surely adds some boost to the fuel. It’s our inability to get out of the Moebius Strip of cognitive egocentrism in which people like Derfner project positive-sum rationality on Arab elites in their dealings with Israel and the West, and they project zero-sum bad faith on us. If, in our eagerness to self-criticize, to “break the logjam” by making more concessions, we support their accusations against us and dismiss any criticism of their position as “racism”, then we are lost.