Another’s Life: Lessons from Kafr Qana

Another’s life

The current conflict in Lebanon brings to the fore one of the most basic questions any culture must try to answer: What is the value of another’s life? All people must struggle between the instinct of survival (my life is worth more than yours), the instinct for domination (I have a right to take your life) and the instinct of solidarity (our lives are equal in value). And all cultures provide a range of answers.

The conflict in Lebanon between Israel and Hizbullah, like the war with Hamas, pits against each other two cultures with radically different answers to these questions. On the one hand, Israeli culture values life in all its aspects, including the sanctity of the life of others. Their soldiers take risks to spare civilians on the other side, unprecedented in the history of warfare. Aware of Israeli inhibitions, Jihadi groups use their own people as human shields in fighting the Israelis.

Over the last few years, these Jihadi groups have developed a full-blown death cult in which they raise their children to want to die killing others. As uncomfortable as such statements might seem to a cultural egalitarian who recoils from invidious comparison, the enemy openly embraces the contrast: Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah noted after a prisoner exchange:

“We have discovered how to hit the Jews where they are the most vulnerable. The Jews love life, so that is what we shall take away from them. We are going to win, because they love life and we love death.”

The current war centers around this differential attitude towards life and death in three major ways:
1) how each side views the lives of their own people and the lives of their enemies.
2) How the media reports the story in terms of these issues
3) The effects of that reporting on the nature of the conflict

Muslim Death Cult

At once Arabs complain that the world considers Arab blood cheap. And yet, their own leaders say the same thing.

Our blood is cheap compared with the cause which has brought us together and which at moments separated us, but shortly we will meet again in heaven… Palestine is our land and Jerusalem is our capital” Yasser Arafat (Maariv, Oct. 4, 1996).

Even as they deplore it, Arab intellectuals acknowledge the depths of the problem: Wrote Tunisian intellectual Al-Afif Al-Akhdar:

“Why do expressions of tolerance, moderation, rationalism, compromise, and negotiation horrify us [Muslims], but [when we hear] fervent cries for vengeance, we all dance the war dance?… Why do other people love life, while we love death and violence, slaughter and suicide, and [even] call it heroism and martyrdom?”

In a highly popular music video produced for the PA by a Western company in December 2000, partly to recruit kids for the intifada, the “shahid” Muhammad al Durah calls on the youth of Palestine to follow him to martyrdom. The words of the song begin like this:

How sweet is the fragrance of the shahids [people who have died for Allah]. How sweet is the fragrance of the earth. Its thirst quenched by the gush of blood flowing from the youthful body. How sweet is the fragrance of the earth.”

Among the most terrifying elements of the Jihadi death cult is the revival (and now widespread use of) an apocalyptic Hadith which sees the final battle as one in which the Muslims slaughter every last Jew… with mother nature’s help. Here is one of countless citations, notable for its addition of dehumanizing rhetoric:

“The Prophet said: the Resurrection will not take place until the Muslims fight the Jews, and the Muslims kill them. The Muslims will kill the Jews, rejoice [in it], rejoice in Allah’s Victory. The Muslims will kill the Jews, and he will hide… “The Prophet said: the Jews will hide behind the rock and tree, and the rock and tree will say: oh servant of Allah, oh Muslim this is a Jew behind me, come and kill him!. Why is there this malice? Because there are none who love the Jews on the face of the earth: not man, not rock, and not tree – everything hates them. They destroy everything, they destroy the trees and destroy the houses. Everything wants vengeance on the Jews, on these pigs on the face of the earth, and the day of our victory, Allah willing, will come.” PA TV, September 10, 2004

Schadenfreude and Killing the Enemy’s Civilians

The celebrations of Palestinians at news that Israeli women and children have been killed, are of course, legendary, including their response to 9-11, which Arafat, with the help of a cooperative western Media, quickly suppressed. What is still more disturrbing because done, if you will “in cold blood,” is the exhibit which recreated a terror attack at Sbarro Pizza from the summer of 2001. Palestinians can go and derive pleasure at viewing Israeli body parts in papier-maché dipped in red paint “flying” through the air.

In an internet debate with Abu Basir al- Tartusi, a Syrian jihadi scholar residing in London who criticized both the London 7-7 bombings and urged that the thirst for revenge among his fellow jihadis be subordinate to law and legal rulings (fatwahs), one of his opponents wrote that Muslims

Muslims need no fatwa each time an attack takes place on enemy soil, since “this is an integral part of the Muslim Sunnah,” or the Prophet’s traditions. He urged Muslims to show joy for every tragedy suffered by oppressors, resisting any sympathy. Moreover, he claimed that any condemnations of the London bombings contradict Islam: “I warn my believing brothers to stop criticizing their brothers, the mujahedeen, especially these days.”

Most cultures acknowledge the presence of Schadenfreude, but generally they disapprove it. To have the leaders of the people make it into a cultic emotion deviates from the norms of almost any culture, and some Arab intellectuals are painfully aware of this. Commenting on the video of the Nicolas Berg beheading that Iraqi jihadists posted on the internet so others could enjoy the view, an editorial in the Lebanese Daily Star on May 13, 2004, warned of what might happen if this issue is not addressed:

As the war on terror continues, the voices coming from the Arab and Muslim world celebrating death over life have been heard more often than those criticizing this philosophy. An “The region’s kings, princes, and presidents need to learn a valuable lesson from this abhorrent incident: that fractured societies produce real-life theaters of shame like the Berg murder in a systemic manner, and that similar fractures are infecting their own societies. If the Berg beheading does not catapult the region’s leaders from the world of lethargy to the world of vigorous action to establish law and order in their own societies — and beginning with themselves — then they will be considerably weakened…. What more is needed to galvanize Arab leaders into action? Today, a man named Berg was put to the sword; tomorrow, it could be the Arab nation torn asunder by the same savagery.

If anything the situation is worse in 2006. And the media still don’t seem to understand.

Media and the Problem of Arab and Muslim Death Cult and Genocidal Delirium

This entire phenomenon of the Jihadi worship of death has received relatively little attention from the media — almost an inversion of how pervasive it is in the Arab and Msulim MSM. Take, for example a case that happened in the first month of the Intifada, and presented the media with an opportunity to reveal to the public precisely what the Israelis and the Jews were complaining about. The day after two Israelis were savagely torn apart by a mob of Palestinians in Ramallah shouting “revenge for the blood of Muammad [al Durah],”, and “Allahu Akhbar,” Shiekh Ahmad Abu Halabiya gave a sermon which played on PATV.

“The Jews are the Jews. Whether Labor or Likud the Jews are Jews. They do not have any moderates or any advocates of peace. They are all liars. They must be butchered and must be killed… The Jews are like a spring as long as you step on it with your foot it doesn’t move. But if you lift your foot from the spring, it hurts you and punishes you… It is forbidden to have mercy in your hearts for the Jews in any place and in any land. Make war on them any place that you find yourself. Any place that you meet them, kill them.” PA TV, October 13, 2000

In discussing Israeli complaints about the nature of their enemy and the sources of his hatred, specifically pointing to this genocidal sermon, New York Times journalist William Orme presented the evidence as follows.

Israelis cite as one egregious example a televised sermon that defended the killing of the two soldiers. “Whether Likud or Labor, Jews are Jews,” proclaimed Sheik Ahmad Abu Halabaya in a live broadcast from a Gaza City mosque the day after the killings.

Now what would possess a journalist to so poorly misquote a terrifying passage directly reminiscent of the Nazis, from people who were acting on this genocidal rhetoric daily? He even misrepresented the subject of the sermon — not the killing of two Israeli soldiers, but of all Jews. To the uninformed, it makes the complainants look petty, whining. Only Orme can answer why he did that.

In the meantime, Orme’s behavior is much closer to the norm than to the exception. The western press dramatically under-reports the Jihadi death cult. It appears in neo-con journals, and constitutes hate-speech and Islamophobia. But it is not hate speech to reveal the presence of hate-speech, especially when the speakers also act on this speech.

In the meantime, the public knows as little about the Muslim death cults, as they do about the Israeli army’s extraordinary efforts — often at the cost of their own lives — to spare Muslim civilians used as human shields by their “warriors.” Israelis even write academic papers struggling with these issues. And Israeli soldiers die because of their inhibitions on firing at terrorists hiding behind women and children. The most exceptional example of this was at Jenin in April 2002, where the Israelis, rather than bomb the part of the refugee camp where the suicide terrorist network had taken root, went in house to house to avoid civilian casualties. The result was 23 soldiers dead soldiers for Israel, and accusations of an Israeli massacre of Palestinians in the media.

Kafr Qana and the Cult of Death

In a sense the current conflict between Israel and both Hamas and Hizbullah underlines the importance of moral thinking in the life of nations and disputes between peoples. Tony Blair articulated it quite well to the Los Angeles World Affairs Council where he characterized it as a struggle between moderate, benign values versus the hatred and intolerance of fundamentalism.:

“Even the issue of Israel is just part of the same wider struggle for the soul of the region,” Blair said. “If we recognize this struggle for what it truly is, we would be at least along the first steps of the path to winning it. But I fear a vast part of Western opinion is not remotely near this yet.”

The press coverage, in the tradition of “politics of outrage” civil-rights media coverage, reflects and amplifies that moral dimension. But it since the 1960s many things have changed, and the media begins to resemble a parable of the dangers of moral confusion. As Blair puts in with his British understatement, they are “not remotely near” understanding what’s wrong.

What has happened at Kafr Qana illustrates precisely how a highly moralistic press — committed without question to the value of human life, especially of children and other innocents — can invert the very imbalance at the core of the conflict and arouse a misplaced indignation that contributes to the very conflict it, in its moralism, deplores. After the collapse of the residential building in Qana, the media have presented the Israelis as those who show no respect for life, falling prey to the ghoulish strategies of Hizbullah in spilling everyone’s blood including those of their own civilians for the sake of a PR victory. As a result they handed Hizbullah that PR victory and rewarded the very behavior that it thought it condemned.

And even as they condemn the Israelis for their wanton killing of Lebanese, despite their regrets, they somehow don’t notice that Hizbullah celebrates the killing of Israelis as a means to restore “their honor.”

We cannot control how people judge us. We can ask for fairness, set standards, adhere to them as best we can and hope others will too. But ultimately, every person, every media outlet and every viewer makes the final call and judges others as he or she wants to – fairly or unfairly. Jews can scream in pain and outrage at comparisons between Jews and Nazis, but they can’t stop people — even other Jews — from enjoying the moral sadism of accusing them.

But one can point out that there is a price to pay for judging unfairly (as LGF puts it: overdrawn at the bank of karma), and at times of danger, that price can be fatal. In the process of their moralizing coverage, the media have set in motion forces that threaten the very culture of life which created a free press and which, in their moralizing, they pretend to uphold.

Imagine if the story at Qana had gone like this: Initial shock, hard questions, revulsion at the parading of the corpses, connections made with the cult of death in Jihadi culture, connections to the snuff movies that jihadis are giving the world (execution videos) since 2000, refusal of the Western media to jump at the bait of ghoulish PR and thereby mainstream the snuff movies to a public audience, the hard questioning of all the Lebanese including Hizbullah spokesmen on the responsibility of Hizbullah for what happened.

This could have been an occasion to shame Hizbullah publicly, globally, for its atrocious behavior, its sick and destructive attitude towards the life of its own people, its transparent and dishonest manipulation of the public, and its bloody betrayal of the very people it claims to represent. All the voices of Jihad – especially the most bloodthirsty – would be humiliated before the eyes of the world. All the voices of moderation and humanity in the Arab world would have found a public platform from which to address the Arab world and deliver a well-deserved rebuke for their childish egocentrism and unfairness. The temperature of global jihad warming might have dropped by as many as 3 degrees. The initiative could have passed (even briefly) to all those in the Arab world who see the terrifying dangers of global Jihad and realize this is not a beast we want to feed, who show enough constructive realism to resist suicidal honor.

Instead the snuff movies are out with the blessing of an outraged world. Muslims the world over are fed on them constantly, a magnificent contribution to the cult of death with which hundreds of millions of Muslims – whether they like it or not – are force-fed by their TV programmers. People who can articulate a humane vision are drowned out. Men like the Pakistani Seattle “lone gunmen” represent precisely the kind of “unconscious sleeper” activated by these images, to plunge into Jihadi genocide.

The forces of hatred and resentment have once again flooded our system thanks to a media that, like some unintelligent Pavlovian dog, cannot unlearn self-destructive behavior. The temperature of global jihad warming has gone up 3%.

That’s a swing of 6 degrees.

And the reverse — 6 degrees lower — could have been accomplished by the power of the word alone. Not a shot fired by the forces of civil society and peace. Just a self-respecting and honorable press.

Alas! If only the press had a tenth of the sense of honor that the Arabs have; and if only the Arabs had a tenth the willingess to criticize their own culture that our press has — we would all be the happiest people in the world.

Those of us who do not want to see outright war, but who acknowledge what we face, do not think that, as a culture of freedom with a free and honest press, we can afford to continue losing such magnificent opportunities to contribute to a peaceful and prosperous global civil society.

So the challenge is out to our media mired in their Augean Stables. Do you have the courage to stand up to the Jihadi death cult, resist their intimidation, and keep your moral compass? Or will you continue to shoot your own side — the side that values human life — in the foot in pursuit of “the scoop” and the moral Schadenfreude of humiliating Israel globally, and then respond by defending your behavior?

Prognosis… dubious. Unless the public hold the media responsible.

35 Responses to Another’s Life: Lessons from Kafr Qana

  1. Christians being used as human shields by Hezbollah

    Christian Solidarity International (CSI)
    Hezbollah is Using Christian Villages to Shield its Military Operations in Violation of International Law
    WASHINGTON, August 1, 2006: Hezbollah is using Christian villages to shield its military operations a…

  2. Brilliant and incisive analysis of two problems: the MSM and the moral quagmire they have chosen to inhabit, and the ghoulish death cult that dominates the Arab/Muslim mind. Link to my site soon to follow.

  3. kaseiryu says:

    Well done. Seeing the attitude of the MSM, it makes me exceedingly grateful for the internet and the access it provides to the alarm clock. The MSM is steadily singing us a lullaby in the hopes that the jihadis will slit the throat of western civilization by catching us asleep.

  4. Moishe3rd says:

    Well written.
    I am coresponding with a 16 year old Lebanese kid who believes in the insanity he is taught.
    He wants to know why Israel is doing this to him and his family…
    I have been unable to convince him of reality, but he is sincere and he is 16. Who knows, there may be hope there… He keeps on coming back at me with his rather distorted views. And, he does want peace.
    I’m gonna post part of your piece.
    Good work…

  5. [...] rome. Anything that might help Bush must be opposed, even if it means whitewashing one of the ugliest death cults in the history. smintheus and his approving readers seem to think that N [...]

  6. You have eviscerated the MSM and all they have left is ad hominem. A growing cadre of people undertands the MSM emperor has no clothes – and no facilities for critical inquiry or thought.

    Jews can scream in pain and outrage at comparisons between Jews and Nazis, but they can’t stop people — even other Jews — from enjoying the moral sadism of accusing them.

    Moral sadism is a good expression for the actions of many in the MSM.

    In the past I used the expressions emotional terrorism”, “moral psychosis” and “psychological sadism” to describe this phenomenon.

  7. Media Lies says:

    I wish I could write….

    ….like this. You simply must read this essay on press coverage of jihadis. Excerpting will not do it justice, I promise you, but here’s a sample.In a s…

  8. Old War Dogs says:

    Another’s life

    Another’s Life: Lessons from Kafr Qana Another’s life The current conflict in Lebanon brings to the fore one of the most basic questions any culture must try to answer: What is the value of another’s life? All people must struggle

  9. mishehu says:

    This is an excellent, frightening, and compelling piece of analysis. I will refer friends to it. Especially like the “turn”: since the media folks don’t get that even the virtue of tolerance has limits, they can’t see that violent Islamic fundamentalism is opposed to all the freedoms and rights they depend on to do their job. More–that it is truly opposed to _them_, and to the whole idea of credible journalism which lets people learn and make their own decisions.

  10. jewrick says:

    You are absolutely right. If a large enough portion, say 25% of the world press, stood on their hind legs and shouted the uncomfortable truth to the world others would follow. It wouldn’t have much effect on the generation of death worshippers coming out of the ME right now, but it might sound the warning bells for the west. If western forces were to back out of the middle east now the psychological boost to the extremists would be staggering and they would be able to rearm for their next attack on the west. We are in a fight for our lives. So few want to believe it.

  11. David Funk says:

    I beg to differ with the term shadenfreude. Shadenfreude referrs to the idea of feeling pleasure in the suffering of others. Most humans feel it, though there is a reason that it is a German word. Smiling when you neighbor gets arrested for DWI is shadenfreude. Dancing in the streets when your neighbor is killed is something else. Most people do not do this. Psycopathic behavior is a more workable term.

  12. Warren says:

    The way to weaken the death cult of state-sponsored terrorism is to take away their oil money. Defund Radical Islam by seizing the oil fields. No money, no nukes. It wasn’t necessary to depose Sadaam Hussein, just take away his oil fields.

    Internationalize the oil fields of Iran and Iraq and administer them separately. The penniless leaders of Iran and Iraq will then be as important as the leaders of Comoros and Burkina Faso. That is, anonymous and powerless.

  13. RL says:

    to jewrick: you’re right. the irony is that the more we deny it the more dangerous it becomes. it’s like trying to wake someone up who’s aslepp at the wheel on mountainous slick terrain. how do you get him to wake up quicly without panicking him and having him skid off the road.

  14. RL says:

    to David F.: i accept your correction. schadenfreude is a relatively low-level feeling whereas this is madness incarnate. part of it has to do with the fact that this minor but pervasive emotion has been encouraged by the arab and muslim elites to grow into a monster that devours their very souls. and there aren’t people in the arab and muslim world who know how terrible this has become. the problem is that they’re weakened in their protests by the voice of revenge, amplified by an idiot MSM and their pictures of victimaization.

  15. RL says:

    to Warren: i assume your suggestion is somewhat tongue in cheek. but it points out two aspects of the problem which the PCP does not understand.
    1) when the Saudis nationalized in the 1950s the president of the USA was the general who won WWII. any truly imperialist country would have just moved in and taken control of such precious primary resources. instead he let the Saudis nationalize.
    2) the Arab elites who have had control of the petrodollar bonanza have used it grotesquely to feed themselves like some huge bloated tick, parasitic on a body politic of poor arabs. Surely a less corrupt elite would have used it differently.

    if Eisenhower had had the presence of mind he would have agreed on condition that 1% of oil revenues went to resettling the refugees from the 1948 war (but with a state dept shaped by the british foreign service how could he?). then we wdn’t be faced with a horrendous apocalyptic war that grew out of two generations of festering hatred.

  16. [...] sheer idiocy pouring out of some of the ignorance I highlighted above. The Augean Stables looks at the death cult and the value of life, also applic [...]

  17. [...] on occasion, been dupes to demopaths and in so doing, you are unwittingly but objectively contributing to the very things you claim to abhor — the victimization of the innocent, the [...]

  18. fiona says:

    For the media (the companies at the source of this travesty, this is a purely business transaction. I can’t find the link, but there is one describing the separate company set up by AP to produce video and photos – half is designed to supply the Arab world with satisfactory full service news – this is the high-profit side of the enterprise. The remaining side, producing feeds for Western Journalism, is decidedly the junior partner. Apparently Reuter’s has a similar business set up. So the oil money is essentially buying a propaganda feed for the West – and the rest of the Media tag along uncritically. Why am I not surprised?

  19. [...] y even teach their own children to kill others for the sake of the “cause.” This is a cult of death. So viewed impartially, this statement of principle in which “anti-humanist” s [...]

  20. [...] r. The segment that follows concerns events at the outbreak of the Second Intifada, taken from a post written shortly after the Kafr Qana incident this summer. The day after two Israeli [...]

  21. [...] ly concerned with honor and shame, had their misdeeds denounced before the world? What if when something like Qana happened, the press reported on their shooting from inside civilian resi [...]

  22. [...] the West precisely the inverse of what’s really going on, and the press can turn the ghoulish scenes from Qana into an orgy of Israel recrimination? Certainly not liberal forces o [...]

  23. [...] ng terrorism.’’ First, we are privy to this, but not via our MSM who systematically filter out the bad news. But just go to PMW and MEMRI and read what they’ve translated, an [...]

  24. [...] was a media ready to whitewash them and accuse Israel of disproportionate response if not massacres — any Arab leader would have carpet bombed — together with a European diplo [...]

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  26. Kesher Talk says:

    Robert Novak opens mouth, swallows propaganda

    In his recent column in the Washington Post, Robert Novak’s credulity toward his Palestinian tour guides, rehearsal of discredited tropes and total lack of curiousity about the other side of the story is a painful example of the cliche that…

  27. Alprazolam. says:

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  28. [...] for terrorist organizations. MSM failure to hold Muslim journalists to any standards and apparent eagerness to run footage that demonizes Israel (while showing little interest in cases where Palestinians kill their own children) generates huge [...]

  29. [...] you were a Muslim, inundated with images of your fellows ruthlessly murdered by heartless Israelis — carried by a MSM that convince them that this is [...]

  30. [...] et de certains journalistes, comme Bruno Stevens) mais parce que le Liban est dans les griffes de fanatiques religieux qui vénèrent la mort, la cultive et, cachés au sein de la population, déversent la mort et la destruction sur Israël [...]

  31. [...] by Hamas in the early 21st century – play the victim card… at all costs. It was the same one Hizbullah played so effectively in the summer of 2006. Hamas initially offered two reasons for not allowing the wounded out: 1) [...]

  32. [...] pattern has long been clear, and most recently carried out with explosive effectiveness in the Lebanon war of 2006… when Israel is winning, draw get yourself a civilian massacre. Make sure that you have [...]

  33. [...] concessions to us — encourage us in our efforts. We will destroy your civilization because you love life and we love death. And you are not willing to sacrifice your lives for your freedoms, and we are willing to sacrifice [...]

  34. […] Posted By RL On 2nd August 2006 @ 11:48 In Arab-Israeli Conflict, Demopaths and Dupes, Media, Global Jihad, Moral Equivalence | 1 Comment […]

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