Interview with Me on the Background to the Middle East Conflict

Tovia Singer of Israel National News Radio has a talk show where he interviewed me. The interviews are available. The titles are his, a bit more sensational than we medievalists normally go for.
I’d say:
“Islam at War with World because of a not uncommon pathology of Honor-Shame mentality”
Europe willing to Self-Destruct Because it Can’t Give up Moral Schadenfreude at the Expense of the Jews.
But that’s why he’s got the show and I’ve got the blog.

A7Radio: Islam at War w/ World Because of Honor-Shame Mentality
16:48 Aug 13, ’06 / 19 Av 5766

A7 Radio’s “The Tovia Singer Show”

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Renowned Boston U Historian:
Islam at War with the World because of Honor-Shame Mentality (Special Three-Part interview)

In an eye-opening interview, Dr. Richard Landes, noted professor of History at Boston University and founder of The Second Draft, exposes the medieval mindset that nourishes Islam’s war with Israel and the US.

Listen Now -or- Download

Also on Tovia Singer:
Europe Willing to Commit Suicide Just to Destroy Israel?

Exclusive interview with BU history professor continues as the medievalist exposes the media and continent that astonishingly supports a teaching of contempt.

Listen Now -or- Download

6 Responses to Interview with Me on the Background to the Middle East Conflict

  1. Raphael Adams says:

    I just finished listening to your excxellent interview on Tovia Singer.

    I’m new to you and your blog, so I guess the regulars are used to the brilliance of your insights (how else do I explain that I am the first person commenting). I look forward to catching up on what you’ve written.

    I have 3 comments, preciptated by the interview.

    1. Laying the blame on the media is bang on. While your explanation of why makes sense in a macro, I don’t know how it explains the individual editorial decisions that are made of anti-Israel bias. For example, I just saw the front page of the Toronto Star today (more than I would normally carry to look at) and their headline talks about the shaky ceasefire and Israel’s offensive right up to the final moment. Only in the sub-head is there a matter of fact reference to the Hizboallah rocket attacks.
    This is trivial in the scheme of the Star’s nasty coverage, but I still wonder why. Why does a headline writer (like virtually all headline writers out there) concoct such a one-sided approach. It flies in the face of the journalistic muckraking tradition of challenging the conventions and digging deeper down. Why doesn’t this happen?

    2. It was electrifying to hear you place this conflict in the context of the broad patterns of history – something you are eminently capable of doing.

    3. In that context, you mention that the only solution to this Global Jihad problem is for the Western media to ‘call’ the Muslims on their behaviour. I doubt it would chnage deep-routed cultural patterns, but it would certainly take away some of the invincibility that they feel.Currently they can do anything and say anything and know that there is no price to pay.
    But how is that to happen?

    I believe that G-d, on the macro level that He works in, provides the cure before the illness.

    I wonder if that ‘cure’ lies in the blogosphere – the logical outcome of the individualism facilitated by the Internet.

    Mainstream media, for whatever reason, cannot see. much less communicate, reality.

    But individuals can. Indivudals can uncover photo retouching and photo opp staging.

    As the blogosphere grows, the appeal of mainstream media declines. That means reduced revenues. That forces a re-evauation of their preconceptions.

    It’s starting painfully slowly , but so also did cable and Fox.

    4. I think that there is an additional solution and we’ll get a hint this Wednesday when three flights of Olim arrive through Nefesh BNefesh. If there were to be mass aliyah from the West that would have 3 stirring effects – it provide strength to Israeli’s, it will start to change the political landscape in israel and it would show the Arabs that the Jewish people are not as weak as they think.

  2. Ken Lydell says:

    Great interview! Your view has much in common with mine.

    Some things to think about. From 1517 until France and England took charge of the Arab world the Turks bled the Arab world dry through taxation, treated Arabs as inferiors and with great cruelty suppressed Arab dissent. Arabs were docile subjects in spite of the honor-shame dynamic of Bedouin culture. Nevertheless, Arabs bear no ill will towards Turks. Why not?

    France and England did not ruthlessly exploit the Arab world. In fact, they did quite the opposite and it is likely that they spent more money improving the lives of their Arab subjects than they earned from their colonial possessions. This was a sea change from the systematic oppression of the Ottoman empire. So why the great resentment at this brief episode of European colonialism?

    The honor-shame dynamic of Arab culture is pre-Islamic. There are other elements of Bedouin culture that interact with Islam and contribute to Arab irredentism. What are they?

    What is the traditional role of Muslim clergy in Muslim societies? In what ways is modernity incompatible with that role?

    Answers to these and other interesting questions can be found in David Pryce-Jones “The Closed Circle” and Raphael Patai’s invaluable “The Arab Mind”.

    Ken Lydell

  3. peetgp says:

    Congratulation! :-)

  4. […] an excellent blog comments here often and left this series of questions as a comment to my radio interview. I think they raise […]

  5. Lawrence Barnes says:

    The interview was an excellent way of promoting this weblog and the Second Draft website. That’s great.

    Many listeners must have been overwhelmed by the facts, concepts and interpretations they heard in the interview. It was scholarly to the point of being dense; there was a lot of content that made severe demands on the listener. At times the pace was dismayingly quick. One really should do his homework first in order to be able to understand and appreciate such a challenging presentation.

    As to content, I turn to the concept of Western self-hatred: yes, the problem is not that “progressives” (or Jews) hate themselves; it’s that they hate other “progressives” (or Jews). To that I would add that the West is not sure its values are really superior. Consider:

    The self-criticism that we preach today — take responsibility for your shortcomings, and improve yourself — is based on the nagging fear that we do not have anything to offer. “We are the hollow men.” We are bored and disgusted by the (presumably numerous) Babbitts and Elmer Gantrys of our culture, and we express an irrational cynicism about the achievements of capitalism. Our interpretation of history is neo-Marxist (“Wars are fought on behalf of business interests,” “Third-world poverty is necessary if the USA is to remain dominant”), and many of us harbor a hatred of economic winners (“Eat the rich”). We thus create a mood that is exploited by the likes of Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein. Everything “countercultural” and expressive of punitive political correctness is trendy among our elites. We bask in moral equivalence, the worship of the United Nations, a loathing of George W. Bush, a smug, sneering contempt for young people who volunteer for the armed forces…. That’s what I call self-hatred.

    I would even argue that the loss of self-confidence in the West is mirrored in its art. For me, a Duerer and a Klee sum it all up.

    My point: Islam is not resurgent. It is remarkably unchanged. The West has changed fundamentally, however. It has invited attack by telling the world that it does not have confidence in itself. The signals were loud and clear, possibly beginning with the slaughter in Indonesia of communists in, when was it — the middle or late 1950’s? The world stood by and let Muslim murderers kill the atheists in the tens and even hundreds of thousands (if memory serves; CMIIAW). That was not a political enormity: it was the virtual extermination of a religious minority by “the religion of peace.” (Remember the motives of the killers!) In a sense, it was tentative. We missed that, however.

    Jihadis across the globe know they can accomplish their goals as long as the West responds with half- and quarter-measures, as Israel has in Lebanon. What a pity Isarel’s PM did not turn his generals loose: another bad message sent, and understood.

    Too, consider the USA’s reaction to the abuse of Iraqi prisoners in Abu Ghraib. Torture was not employed. The rack was not used, there was no strappado, and everyone still has his fingernails. The Iraqis were returned to their cells utterly unharmed, which must have provoked them to incredulous hilarity. Yet the USA plunged into humiliated self-condemnation, accepting the rage of the world without even remarking on the appalling barbarity of French prisons.

    That is the reaction of a nation that is tentative, reluctant, unsure of itself, bewildered and lacking in perspective. No one is more aware of that than the Islamofascists. — Good grief! My initiation into my college fraternity was almost as rough as what those prisoners had to go through….and here we are, still wringing our hands over it. The world has noticed.

  6. Eliyahu says:

    Ken Lydell says that the Ottoman empire ruthlessly exploited the Arabs. I think that this has to be much qualified. First, Islamic law as such, stemming from Quran, Sura 9:29 [verse nos. in some editions vary], decrees that non-believers, dhimmis, pay tribute to the Muslims. So Islamic states have been throughout Muslim history, engines for exploiting dhimmis [first Christians & Jews, later Hindus, Buddhists, etc.]. This was true in the Ottoman Empire. And it was not only the central government in Constantinople [Istanbul] that exploited the dhimmis, but local Muslim notables. In times of crisis, such as the Greek war of independence, local Muslim leaders were able to extort extra funds from the Christians, particularly Greek Orthodox [on this, see several posts on my blog]. Jews too were of course regular objects of exploitation by Muslims, both the Ottoman central govt. and local Muslim leaders in various places. Furthermore, in the 19th century, the Ottoman empire allowed many Arab Muslims belonging to “notable” families to become Ottoman officials, including Arabs from Jerusalem and Nablus in Israel [of the Husseini, Khalidi, and Abdul-Hadi families] who rose to high Ottoman posts. Moreover, as Richard once pointed out, when someone is oppressed, it’s always nice to have someone even lower. So the poorer Muslims could always feel superior to dhimmis, regardless of how rich a dhimmi may have been. Dhimmis –rich or poor– were almost always subject to potential humiliation by the Muslim mob. In fact, during the Greek uprising, Muslim leaders in Jerusalem could use the threat of the Muslim mob to extort money from the Greek Orthodox with the promise of controlling the mob [see my blog].

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