Monthly Archives: December 2006

New Irish Blog by Tom Carew

Well worth a look. An unusual voice: no surrender – ne passaran.

Do Iraqis Have Free Will: Dalrymple on the Gaurdian on the Iraqi “Resistance”

Ted Dalrymple has the following meditation on what Charles Jacobs calls “Human Rights Complex.” One wonders how people like the Guardian (not what I would call a “liberal” newspaper) don’t blush for shame at their idiocy, but I guess American Derangement Disorder explains/excuses everything. The first time I noticed this appalling tendency was back in the days of South African Apartheid resistance, when the NYT ran an op-ed along similar lines about black-on-black violence with an illustration of a disembodied black arm holding a knife being weilded by a white arm. The unconscious (?) racism inherent in such low expectations is nothing short of breathtaking. (HT: Andrew Melnick)

Do Iraqis Have Free Will?
By Theodore Dalrymple
18 December 2006

A headline in the British liberal newspaper, the Guardian, caught my eye recently: IRAQIS CAN’T BE BLAMED FOR THE CHAOS UNLEASHED BY INVASION. The writer was that newspaper’s veteran foreign correspondent, Jonathan Steele (another immortal headline to one of his articles, in May 2002, read: NEW YORK IS STARTING TO FEEL LIKE BREZHNEV’S MOSCOW).

Let us grant, for argument’s sake, the article’s premise: that American policy in Iraq has been naive, rash, foolish, precipitate, and culpable. Yet still it would not follow that “Iraqis can’t be blamed” and so forth, unless one also believed what not even the severest critics of the Bush administration have alleged–that the American army, or other agents of the American government, have desired, planned, and even executed the ongoing terrorist attacks in Baghdad.

The only other explanation of the non-culpability of Iraqis would be that they were not really full members of the human race–in other words, that they did not reflect upon their circumstances and act upon their reflections in the way that the fully responsible and therefore potentially culpable Americans do.

The headline makes clear that double standards are about to apply, double standards that are not flattering to the Iraqis’ capacity for independent action, despite the evident wish of the author to display as conspicuously as possible his sympathy with them by means of exculpating them. Forgive them, he invites all men of goodwill, for they know not what they do.

Like hell, they don’t.

Not even the most ardent, anthropomorphic dog-lover credits his pet with a fully developed moral sense, and he therefore regards its misdemeanors with an indulgence that he would not extend to a ten-year-old child. The author regards Iraqis as if they were in the same moral category as pets: for can one really say that people who travel to a different part of the city to explode bombs, resulting in scores of deaths of people chosen merely because they are (most of them) of a different religious confession, do not appreciate what they are doing, any more than a dog appreciates what it does when it knocks over a precious porcelain vase?

Is there anything in the American invasion, however deeply ill judged you might consider it, that makes these bombings as inescapable as the weather, and that therefore renders those who carry them out wholly blameless? Is not a prerequisite for these bombings that those who carry them out consciously decide to do so? And if it is not wicked to kill people in this fashion, it is difficult to know what is wicked. Not the Iraqis, but some of the Iraqis–presumably a small minority–can take blame to a very considerable extent for the chaos in Iraq.

Dare I say it: the inability to take seriously the culpability of men and women who, as a matter of policy or tactics, kill large numbers of passers-by and bystanders is a hangover of the late Victorian imperial sensibility, which viewed much of the world’s population as intellectual and moral minors. Special pleading of the kind encapsulated in the headline is not a manifestation of broadmindedness or generosity but of deep-seated arrogance.

And racism, and hatred of Americans (and self), and breathtaking moral idiocy. Oh, and did I mention contempt for the very people they supposedly support? Read Pascal Bruckner’s Tears of the White Man: Compassion as Contempt. What Dalrymple doesn’t mention is that Steele is echoing Iraqis’ own desire to avoid responsibility for their deeds and blame the USA, as if a nation whose only form of stability in the post-war era has been a Stalin-admiring and imitating dictator were innocent bystanders. What happened to the “people get the leaders they deserve”? Or does that only refer to us honkeys?

Update on Herzilya Conference: Kesher Talk

Judith Weiss at Kesher Talk has a wide-ranging round-up of reactions to the conference in the blogosphere as well as her own, with pictures. I’ll have more up soon.

Carter’s Book and Subsequent Performance: A Letter from Melvin Konner

Melvin Konner, a professor at Emory has written the following letter to the Carter Center at his institution about the erratic behavior of the former president. I intersperse a few comments, but it speaks for itself.

TO: Dr. John Hardman, M.D.
Executive Director
The Carter Center
One Copenhill
453 Freedom Parkway
Atlanta, GA 30307

Dear Dr. Hardman,

I am sorry to say that after careful and frankly painful reflection, I have decided not to participate in your group advising President Carter and The Carter Center regarding his recent book on the Middle East conflict. During our telephone conversation on December 11 (perhaps not incidentally my late father’s birthday) I spoke from my heart when I agreed to participate; it is not easy for me to lose one of my greatest heroes. In less than a week since then, events have progressed in such a way as to persuade me that I cannot in good conscience participate in such an effort.

First, President Carter has proved capable of distorting the truth about such meetings and consultations in public remarks following them. In particular, he mischaracterized the meeting he had with the executive committee of the Board of Rabbis of Greater Phoenix, saying he and they had positive interactions and prayed together, when in fact others present stated that the meeting was highly confrontational and that the prayer was merely a pro forma closing invocation. (See “Letters,” The New York Times, Dec. 15, 2006, p. A32.) However modest my reputation may be, I will not jeopardize it by participating in a meeting that might subsequently be so starkly misconstrued.

Second, in television interviews I have seen over the past week, President Carter has revealed himself to be so rigid and inflexible in his views that he seems to me no longer capable of dialogue. In an interview with Soledad O’Brien of CNN he failed to address a single one of the criticisms she quoted from various experts in a very serious tone of voice, pointing out that she was not reading the worst of the criticisms; he began laughing inappropriately while she spoke, and when she asked him how he would respond to the criticisms he stated, “With laughter.” In a number of interviews I have seen and heard him respond to highly specific questions merely by stating again and again in one form or another, “My book is completely accurate.” This rigidity of thought and complete failure to engage criticisms from much greater experts than me about his numerous and serious errors of commission and omission make it clear to me that an attempt by me to advise him would be pointless and counterproductive. In addition, his repeated public insinuations that the Jews control the media and the Congress–well-worn anti-Semitic slurs that, especially coming from President Carter, present a clear and present danger to American Jews–are offensive to me beyond what I can politely say.

This inappropriate response says a great deal about both the company Carter has been keeping, and his response to the grilling he’s received since publishing the book. I have spent time with some of the folks who inhabit the world of “Israeli apartheid” (including getting their emails), and I can safely say that it’s a hermetically sealed world in which people can say anything, no matter how loopy, and get nods of approval all around. Carter has spent so much time in these circles (who took him on guided tours of “Palestine”) that he no longer has much contact with empirical reality. As a result, the criticism can only strike him as so imappropriate that he has no real response but to laugh. If it works with his crowd, why not? That this behavior strikes even admirers of Carter — I long ago ceased to admire a man who considers his ability to talk civilly with tyrants a sign of integrity — as bizarre and disconcerting has apparently not yet sunk in. Here’s a comment from a colleague of mine:

    I saw the interview on CNN and was stunned at what came across as a leader gone (shall I say) diabolic as his laughter was totally inappropriate, I thought. There was nothing about him that resembled the one that I had respected. Nothing.

Carter’s inability to respond to criticism is a sign of how insulated from reality the “reality-based” progressive community has become, and a sign of just how vulnerable they are when they “go public” rather than hang together and enjoy the thoroughly pleasing discourse of scapegoating Israel.

Third, I am now carefully rereading parts of this very puzzling and problematic book, having read it through once quickly. I am not going to point out again here all the mistakes and misrepresentations pointed out by others (to take just one example, his flat contradiction of the accounts by President Clinton and Dennis Ross of events at Camp David at which they were present and he was not) ”none of which he has answered–nor explain the grotesque distortion caused by his almost completely ignoring Jewish history between ancient times and 1947 (he devotes five lines on page 64 to that millennial tragic story and mentions the Holocaust twice; his “Historical Chronology” at the outset contains nothing–nothing–between 1939 and 1947).

Again, a good sign of the disconnect with reality. The Palestinian narrative, in order to displace the Israeli, has to erase the Jewish history and reinvent the Palestinians, not as the tragic victims of Arab imperial and theocratic drives, but as a poor indigenous people struggling for freedom.

However, I will call your attention to a sentence on p. 213 that had not stood out for me the first time I read it: “It is imperative that the general Arab community and all significant Palestinian groups make it clear that they will end the suicide bombings and other acts of terrorism when international laws and the ultimate goals of the Roadmap for Peace are accepted by Israel.”

As someone who has lived his life as a professional reader and writer, I cannot find any way to read this sentence that does not condone the murder of Jews until such time as Israel unilaterally follows President Carter’s prescription for peace. This sentence, simply put, makes President Carter an apologist for terrorists and places my children, along with all Jews everywhere, in greater danger.

This is a critical observation. One of the early slogans of the “pacifist” International Solidarity Movement is “Resistance is not Terrorism.” When I pointed this out (in 2002) to a member of the group who presented himself as a “pacifist” as an endorsement of suicide terrorism (then at its height), he responded, “Non-violent resistance is not terrorism.” When I pointed out that you don’t need a sign to tell people that, that that’s something of a tautology, he sighed in exasperation and, like Jimmy Carter laughing on TV, assumed that the audience would side with him (which they did).

For Carter to even indirectly endorse suicide terrorism is, imnsho, staggering for a man who presents himself as a “man of peace.” It echoes the most astounding and ultimately dishonest and destructive response to the suicide terrorism of the early years of this century: “What choice do they have?” and, even worse, “If I were as desperate as they, I too might be tempted.” Nothing reflects Carter’s inability to identify with Israeli civilians than this remark, and nothing reflects his acceptance of a demonizing, dehumanizing Palestinian narrative than this inability to identify with innocent Israeli civilians. In a sense, the way that the Palestinian victim narrative is shaped, it’s impossible to identify with them without hating the Israelis. Carter, for all his insistence on being Israel’s friend, reveals his callous soul with this remark.

Konner’s remark hits the nail on the head: the sentiment “condone[s] the murder of Jews until such time as Israel unilaterally follows President Carter’s prescription for peace. This gets to the heart of the “progressive” dilemma of Jews and non-Jews alike. They are so convinced that they have the key to peace (PCP), that they interpret any Israeli resistance to their solutions (which inevitably call for Israeli concessions) as prima facie evidence of Israeli bad faith that they end up identifying with the barbaric aggression of their perceived victim. Carter illustrates precisely this dynamic. And given the profound flaws in the PCP, including its moral equivalence and cognitive egocentrism, it seems utterly inappropriate for anyone with the slightest bit of intellectual modesty to begrudge the Israelis their reluctance to follow such advice (are you listening George Soros?).

I am sure you will now understand why I cannot participate in your group advising President Carter.

However, if I may, I will share this advice to you: If you want The Carter Center to survive and thrive independently in the future, you must take prompt and decisive steps to separate the Center from President Carter’s now irrevocably tarnished legacy. You must make it clear on your web site and in appropriately circulated press releases that President Carter does not speak for The Carter Center on the subject of the Middle East conflict or the political role of the American Jewish community. If you do not do this, then President Carter’s damage to his own effectiveness as a mediator, not to mention to his reputation and legacy will extend, far more tragically in my view, to The Carter Center and all its activities.

Meanwhile, in my own private and modest public capacity as a university professor and writer, I will work very hard in the foreseeable future to help discredit President Carter’s biased, intemperate and inflexible mischaracterizations of the reality of Israel, Palestine, terrorism, and the American Jewish community. I will urge all my colleagues and students to do the same. And, most painfully, I will discourage any connection with The Carter Center until such time as you make perfectly and publicly clear your independence from President Carter on this tragically difficult set of questions, which he has chosen so dangerously to distort and oversimplify.

I emphasize that I have been a decades-long supporter of President Carter and of The Carter Center and have defended him, his legacy, and The Center’s work at every possible opportunity. It is a grave loss for me to acknowledge that this will no longer be possible.

Sincerely yours,

Melvin Konner, M.D., Ph.D.
Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor
Department of Anthropology and Program in Neuroscience and Behavioral
Biology, Emory University
Departments of Psychiatry and Neurology (by courtesy), Emory School of Medicine

Melvin Konner is Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Anthropology and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at Emory University. He studied at Brooklyn College, CUNY (1966), earned a Ph.D. in biological anthropology (Harvard, 1973), and did postdoctoral work at the Laboratory of Neuroendocrine Regulation, MIT. He spent a total of two years doing fieldwork among the Kalahari San or Bushmen, studying infant development and the hormonal mechanism of lactational infertility. After six years on the Harvard faculty, he attended Harvard Medical School (M.D. 1985) and moved to Emory as department chair. He has held NIMH and NSF research grants, and been a Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, and the Foundations Fund for Research in Psychiatry. Lately he has spent time advocating single-payer health reform, and has testified twice at U.S. Senate hearings.

Paradigms: Honor-Shame Jihad Paradigm

Here is Part III of “Paradigms and the Middle East Conflict.” For previous posts, see:
Paradigms and the Middle East Conflict
: Introduction
PCP (Politically Correct and Post-Colonial Paradigms

I remind the reader that this is articulated, as the PCP, not as a study in nuance, but as the assertion of a framework. You are welcome to agree or disagree. Although by and large I find this paradigm more convincing that the PCP one, I hope I have presented it with the same neutrality as the first. Assessment of the two will follow.

HJP: HONOR JIHAD PARADIGM

The HJP understands the Arab-Israeli conflict through the prism of honor-shame culture and Islamic jihad. These elements of Arab culture are the main factors that have made it impossible to reach a solution to the conflict. Arab leaders view any compromise with Israel as “losing face,” since such an agreement would mean recognizing as a “worthy foe” an inferior group that should be subject. Such a blow to Arab honor cannot be tolerated for cultural and political reasons: losing face means to feel utter humiliation, to lose public credibility, and to lose power. In search of lost honor, Arab (and Palestinian) elites, never particularly concerned with the welfare of their masses, have shown a ready willingness to sacrifice the Palestinian people. The more their own people suffer and Israel can be blamed, the better for their cause. In recent decades Western academics and media, for reasons of political correctness and multiculturalism, and due to a strange inability to distinguish between Arab leaders and their victimized populations, refuse to acknowledge this pattern of exploitation. As a result, ignoring this explanation for the conflict, the increasingly hold Israel responsible. As long as this pattern of Arab honor-shame and scapegoating behavior prevails and the West enables it, lasting and fair peace in the Middle East will not be possible.

HJP: THE ARAB WORLD

The JP identifies Arab political culture as an example of “traditional” or “pre-civil society” culture. In what are known as “prime-divider societies”, the elite monopolize power, wealth, education, and the public sphere, while the masses live in poverty. In these societies the prevailing political axiom runs: “rule or be ruled.” The dominant alpha males (warriors, big men) set the rules of honor-shame and determine when and how often a man can legitimately shed the blood of another for his own honor. Such dynamics encourage patriarchal domination, intimidation of dissent, and political and religious imperialism. Borders are viewed as potential sites of expansion; war is the long-term norm.

THE CONFLICT IN TERMS OF HONOR SHAME

According to HSJP, the Arab-Israeli conflict is fueled by wounded Arab honor and frustrated religious imperialism. At the end of the 19th century, the Arab world, historically established by conquest and colonization, was confronted with humiliating defeats at the hands of a significantly more powerful Western culture. In the 20th century, the establishment of the State of Israel exacerbated this indignity by marking the victory not of a great and worthy enemy, but a tiny people who, in the entire memory of Islam, never fought back against their subjection. It was one kind of embarrassment to lose a battle against an Arab neighbor or a Western nation; that was part of the game. But to lose to an inferior people, an unworthy foe, represented a more existential humiliation.

The only way a warrior can restore his honor is to shed the blood of his enemy. In the case of Israel, the humiliation was so intense that Arab leadership called for a “war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.” This rigid, hard zero-sum approach has guided Arab and Palestinian relationships with Israel. If Israel wins (a state, recognition, and peace), then de facto the Arab and Muslim world loses. Israeli independence, rather than also marking Palestinian independence, had to mark a Naqba – catastrophe – for the Palestinians.

More than a century since Zionism developed and more than half a century since Israel won its independence, Arab political culture continues to war with Israel’s existence. The HSJP, in some intuitive form, dominated most post-1948 Western perceptions of the conflict. The Arab side openly proclaimed their genocidal intentions, making themselves unwelcome in post-Holocaust Western public culture (e.g., UN/human rights talk). But after 1967, Arab and Palestinian spokesmen toned down the genocidal rhetoric (at least in foreign languages), and worked their way into the PCP as the “Palestinian David.” Perhaps the single biggest difference between PCP1 and HSJP revolves around how much one believes that the initial Arab attitude has changed: have Palestinian leaders given up their primary desire to eliminate Israel? PCP says yes; HSJP says no.

PERPETUATING THE PROBLEM: ZERO-SUM GAMES

The zero-sum logic that dominated Arab political culture towards Israel from the start, developed into a negative-sum approach after the Israelis defeated the Arabs in their “wars of honor.” The resulting attitude became ‘if we lose, then they must lose as well, even if it worsens our own conditions’. The Arab League accordingly imprisoned refugees in wretched conditions (“refugee camps”); and when they could have saved millions from Israeli occupation in 1967 by finally making peace, they answered with “the three No’s of Khartoum”: No negotiations, no recognition, no peace. Their priorities were clear: sooner the honor of the elite than the dignity of the people.

As Abba Eban remarked, Palestinian leaders have “never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” But even this remark, reflects Eban’s cognitive egocentrism. For the Arab leaders he described, a positive-sum, mutually beneficial outcome does not represent an opportunity because it does not redeem Arab honor. Arab elites prefer losing wars to resolving the conflict by allowing Israel to exist. When they are weak they withdraw and cherish dreams of revenge. When they feel strong enough – no matter how delusional that feeling – they go to war with Israel (1948, 1967, 1973, 2000). Noting that the problem existed long before 1967, the HSJP views the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as the products of this zero-sum attitude, not its cause. Thus, the solution will not come from a return of these territories into the hands of the current leadership. That will more likely trigger even more aggressive behavior. It will come from a change in the zero-sum mentality of Arab and Palestinian leadership.

The Oslo “Peace Process” led to violence after Camp David 2000, according to JP, because Arafat never had the intention to make peace. Arafat acted with enormous reluctance, taking what he could, offering no concessions in return, and promising his honor-shame constituency that the concessions were not real, merely a “Trojan horse.” As the Palestinian saying goes: “That which has been taken by violence can only be regained by violence.”

In this kind of war, negotiations will not work. The Palestinians cannot make any significant concessions to Israel without losing honor. Additionally, they view concessions by Israel as marks of weakness, as invitations to further violence, rather than as invitations to put an end to the war. Arafat and the forces that brought on the Second Intifada interpreted Barak’s concessions at Camp David as a weakness (like the February 2000 retreat from Lebanon), and determined to exploit the opportunity with a show of force.

Very few Arab leaders have been able to make peace with Israel without losing their prestige or even their lives. Far from softening its attitudes over time, the Arab political peer group that assigns honor and shame has become increasingly bloody-minded. Arafat in 2000 preferred a zero-sum solution that preserved his honor amongst Arab leaders and the “street”, regardless of the misery caused to his people. Rather than nation-build, Arafat increased his honor by entering a disastrous war at an immense cost to everyone (negative sum).

SCAPEGOATING AND THE VICTIMS OF HONOR-SHAME ZERO-SUM

In all “prime divider societies”, the elites dominate and the general public, commoners, and uneducated poor suffer. The Palestinian and Arab peoples have suffered greatly, perhaps even more than the Israelis, from their elite’s zero-sum diplomacy. Palestinians who toil to kill Israeli civilians do not hesitate to use violence against other Palestinians who oppose their actions, including many times the torture and killing of so-called “collaborators”. Although Israelis have some protection from these terrorists (their army), Palestinians do not. Constantly exposed to the violent exploitation of their leadership and humiliation at the hands of a “foreign” rule (Israel), the Palestinian people are unquestionably the most miserable in the conflict.

Their misery, however, serves the greater Arab cause. The narrative of Palestinian victimization at the hands of the Zionist entity operates for the Arab elites as a “weapon of mass distraction”. It enables the elites to scapegoat Israel for the suffering that the Arab leadership has largely inflicted upon their people, and to direct the “rage” of the people against Israel. Over the last 60 years, this powerful WMD has been the only tool consistently able to unify the “Arab nation” in a collective solidarity. An increasing number of Western analysts and commentators, curiously unable to differentiate between the oppressed Arab peoples and their oppressing leaders (PCP2), have increasingly adopted this WMD and repeatedly blamed Israel for the plight of the Palestinian people. This tactic, however, shields the Arab elites by legitimating their claims, and thus prolongs the cycle of internal violence against the masses.

EXPANDING JIHAD AND THE IMPLICATIONS

Unlike the PCP, the HSJP argues that the Arab world’s abreaction to Zionism has become more virulent in the past forty years, not less. Since Nasser’s “secular” Arab nationalism failed to solve the problem in 1967, a more explicitly religious dimension increasingly came to the fore. The very idea of an independent, Jewish “Zionist entity,” had always represented a theological blasphemy as well as an unbearable humiliation. From its first century (7th-8th century CE), political Islam divided the world into two categories: Dar al Islam (the abode of peace where Islam rules) and Dar al Harb (the abode of war, “the sword”). Islam believes that the entire world will eventually convert and Dar al Islam will reign supreme. Additionally, once Islam conquers a territory, that land cannot revert to Dar al Harb (one of the reasons given for the bombing in Spain, once al Andalusia). Islam classifies Jews within Dar al Islam as a “protected” people (Dhimmi) [link to definition]; they are legally and culturally inferior, but not required to convert. For Jews to “live free in our land,” an independent Jewish state in the heart of Dar al Islam not only confounds Islamic religious beliefs, it insults God’s honor.

The longer the frustration and humiliation, the more the religious language becomes apocalyptic: i.e., the ultimate battle between Islam and the Jews. And their “end-time” scenario is at once cataclysmic – huge devastation must precede the victory of Islam – and active – we Jihadis are the agents of God’s wrath and destruction. According to a hadith which is increasingly popular amongst Palestinians, when the end of time comes, the Muslims will slaughter the Jews who are hiding behind rocks and trees. The very rocks and trees will call out, “O Muslim, there is a Jew hiding behind me. Come kill him.” Confronted with this text, which appears in virtually every schoolbook, officials will act as if they had never heard it.

Over the last twenty years this apocalyptic Jihad has spread in Muslim communities around the world. With the help of the internet, “local” jihad has merged with anti-Western sentiment, spread through both Shi-ite Islam (Khoumeini’s Iran, Hizbullah) and Sunni Islam (Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Taliban, al-Qaeda). Movements depicting Israel and the West as the deadly enemy of Islam have arisen even in the West. Jihadis view globalization as a Jewish-American plot to rule the world, against which they set their own globalizing project – the global victory of Dar al Islam). Israel then is just one of their targets; they have now set their sights on the entire world. The attacks in NY, Madrid, and London all express the growing militancy and impatience of this Islamist dream of world domination.

islam will conquer
London protests over Danish Cartoons, February 3, 2006.

Thus, although Jihadis reserve particular venom for Jews and Americans, these groups are not their only targets. On the contrary, the Europeans, who seem to have thought that by siding with the Arabs and Muslims in both their media and diplomacy, would somehow escape Islamist aggression, may well be the prime target of their expansionism.

london rally 3 signs
London Protests over Danish Cartoons, February 3, 2006.

Few religious expressions are as bloody-minded as current Jihad. All ‘infidels’ who oppose Jihadis, including European Christians, share the same fate, an attitude recently openly espoused by Anjem Choudary, in an interview on the BBC about the acceptability of killing non-Muslims civilians because their refusal of Islam is an “crime against Allah.” But the most striking element of current Jihadi is the condemnation of a billion Muslims whose practices are lax by their zealous standards; Westernized Muslims especially are denounced as kufr, or unbelievers, apostates deserving of death. The victory of Jihad may bring Islam to the summit of power, but it bodes ill for the vast majority of Muslims. Those Muslims who realize this find themselves caught between fearing the Jihadis and cheering them on for striking blows for Islamic honor against the despised West.

THE MEDIA AS PARTICIPANTS IN THE CONFLICT

From the HJP’s point of view, the press’s efforts to treat the Arab-Israeli conflict “even-handedly” by presenting both sides as “equally responsible” are not only morally self-defeating, but involve dangerously misleading inaccuracies. By failing to distinguish between the Arab elites and masses, and between the oppressors and oppressed, they fail to recognize one of the major causes of the suffering and the conflict. On the other hand, were they to focus on the injustices to which Arab governments and Jihadi leaders subject their people, they would tip the scales too far in Israel’s favor. Thus, the media is not even able to identify the greatest blight in the conflict – the Palestinians’ constant recourse to terror – as “terrorism.”

By focusing on the Palestinians’ plight at the hands of Israel, both the media and the progressive “left” fall prey to the Arab political culture’s larger strategy of victimizing their own people and feeding them scape-goating narratives. The media and progressives by viewing the conflict as the Israeli Goliath vs. the Palestinian David, unwittingly facilitate the continued victimization of the people they think they are helping. On one level, they swallow the “blue pill” of accusing the state of Israel, rather than swallow the “red pill” of examining the frightening world of Arab and Muslim hate-mongering. Since Israelis take criticism far more easily than Palestinians, the blue pill seems like an easier path to peace.

This ‘even-handed’ approach which intended to “listen to the Palestinian voice” does disservice to all parties involved. Israel’s image and credibility around the world have been shattered by the superficial and overly simplistic media portrayal of its role in the conflict. Less obviously, but no less devastating, has been the damage done to the Palestinian people. Their leaders can safely push harmful agendas while their people remain deprived of the most basic rights. The consequences benefit only the Arab leadership and the elite, who – amongst themselves – retain their tarnished honor, their smoldering rage, and their inappropriate credibility in the West.

CONCLUSION

This paradigm’s conclusions seem dark, with apparently no possibility for negotiations and war as the only apparent alternative. Although this is not necessarily true, it seems deeply depressing. Those who begin to comprehend HJP find it difficult to communicate with people strongly committed to PCP. Our media, talking heads, academic specialists, and even government strategic thinkers operate with a PC paradigm that systematically ignores or underplays key anomalies. Few pay attention to the way Jihadis see Westerners (Israelis, Americans, Europeans). Few, especially those against the war in Iraq, want to think that retreating from Iraq, like retreating from Lebanon or Gaza, will encourage Jihadis in other locations to further action. According to HJP, as much as they may hate to admit it, the Europeans, like the Sunni Iraqis, will be the first victims of US withdrawal from Iraq.

HJP argues that we are wading into a global war with an enemy of determined ferocity and unknown strength, and we are flying blind. Until we begin to address the issues of honor-shame and Jihad, and learn to distinguish between demopaths and genuine moderates, so that we can identify and resist the real enemies of civil society, not only will we not see peace in the Middle East, we will see Jihad spread, the world over. Although it may seem dark, some of that darkness comes from an unconscious “racism” of the PCP that does not believe that Arab and Muslim culture can change, and therefore considers the honor-shame issues non-negotiable. Actually honor-shame cultures are notoriously susceptible to public opinion: we just cannot seem to muster the courage to make the demands.

STRENGTHS:

1. Explains the PCP anomalies, in particular the extraordinary consistency with which Arab leaders have made disastrous decisions for the Palestinian people.

2. Does not put the cart (occupation, invasion of Iraq) before the horse (Arab hard zero-sum attitudes towards Israel, Jihad).

3. Recognizes the historical dynamics of Muslim religious imperialism and its links with “traditional” authoritarian societies throughout history including the West.

4. Acknowledges the great efforts necessary to build civil societies and the discipline in overcoming the “rule or be ruled” attitude that such an effort entails, and therefore does not assume that Arab political culture has made that effort.

5. Acknowledges the danger that faces us all (including moderate Muslims who are considered apostates by the Jihadis).

6. Has the conceptual radar to spot demopaths.

7. Explains why, despite so much support from the “progressive Left,” the Palestinians are farther from civil society today (ruled by terrorists) than before the progressives came to their side.

8. Presents an alternative explanation to the “root” causes of terrorism – not poverty, not grievances, not territorial disputes – but a jihadist ideology with roots in frustrated dominance. the humiliation of failure before a small subject foe, and apocalyptic dreams of world conquest.

9. Provides a bigger narrative/framework to the Arab-Israeli conflict that can explain why even where the “Zionists” have nothing to do with local conditions, there is war, tyranny and oppression in the Arab world.

WEAKNESSES/DANGERS:

1. Anomalies/Mysteries — unexplained problems highlighted by this approach:

  • Why are “Progressives” so anti-Zionist (an explicitly progressive cause), and so philo-Islamist (an explicitly violent, male chauvinist, and authoritarian cause)?
  • Why do the Europeans behave in such suicidal fashion, making allies with Islamists and assaulting Israel? (Eurabia)
  • Why are human rights advocates so reluctant to discuss matters like Southern Sudan? and treatment of women and minorities in the Arab world? and so uniquely focused on Israeli violations of Palestinian rights?
  • Who could claim to be “Gays for Palestine” when gays are the object of honor-killing in Palestine?
  • Why does the academic community broadly oppose discussing this material?
  • How come the Israeli press and academia accept and reinforce PCP’s perceptions when they are so dangerous to Israel’s survival.
  • 2. It insists on a frightening and deeply disturbing vision of the current situation that negates most liberals’ hopes about negotiating a solution.

    3. It runs the danger of becoming essentialist (the Arabs are this way and can’t change), and beyond that, racist (they are genetically so).

    4. Falls into the trap of Western cultural superiority and condescension to others.

    5. Has no obvious peaceful solution to offer for this conflict; indeed the only immediately obvious solutions, given this paradigm’s analysis, are either unacceptable to civilized consideration – ethnic cleansing and worse; or they are currently unthinkable – Arab nations all recognize Israel as a pre-condition to negotiation.

    6. Supports the war camp’s arguments that the only response to such an enemy is to fight him till “unconditional surrender”.

    7. Forces us to think very negative thoughts about “others”, to the point where pointing out their failings seems like “hate speech”.

    8. Runs the danger of mis-identifying as demopaths people who are genuine democrats and underestimating the good-will of the larger culture.

    9. Slippery slope, an invitation to / excuse for empire, globalization as homogenized Americanization.

    10. Lets Israel off the moral hook, and reduces the pressure on Israel and the West to self-criticize.

    11. Makes us confront people who get angry and even violent when criticized.

    12. Seems to mean that “dialogue is out of the question” and therefore “HJP does not advance you one bit.”

    TERMINOLOGY:

    1. Islamo-fascism / Islamo-bolshevism.

    2. Dar al Islam, Dar al Harb

    3. Suicide terrorists

    4. Honor-shame

    5. Jihad

    6. Demopaths

    7. Pallywood, Hizbollywood

    8. Eurabia

    9. Dhimmi

    10. Arab-Israeli conflict

    11. Oslo War, Oslo Jihad

    CATCH PHRASES:

    1. After 9-11 there are two kinds of people in the West: those who understand we’re at war, and those who don’t.

    2. There is a civil war going on in the Muslim World, and if the Jihadis win, everyone suffers.

    3. Terrorism does not come from poverty but from cultivated hatred and paranoia.

    4. Visit Palestinian Media Watch and Middle East Media Research Institute and listen to what Arabs say in Arabic.

    5. Islam is a religion of peace, when there’s no one left to kill. (Said of Augustus’ Pax Romana)

    6. If they will kill their daughters for shaming their family, what do you think they’ll do to the Israelis and the West for shaming their religion and culture.

    7. Antizionism is a Weapon of Mass Distraction.

    8. The Palestinian people are the greatest victims of their leaders’ decision to go to war rather than begin to develop a civil society that takes care of its own people.

    9. When the Palestinians love their children more than they hate Israel, there will be a chance for peace.

    10. The Palestinians have despaired of destroying Israel by themselves and therefore look to enlisting Westerners of good will to unwittingly participate in their effort by making Israel a pariah state.

    11. It’s not the “Green Line,” it’s the shoreline.

    12. Arabs may want democracy but they refuse to pay the price in discipline (e.g., giving up honor killings).

    13. It’s culture, not race; it’s education, not essentialism.

    14. Not all Muslims are suicide terrorists, but almost all suicide terrorists are Muslim.

    15. Not all anti-zionists are anti-semites, but almost all anti-semites love anti-zionism.

    They Promised us a Dove: PCP at work

    Anshel Pfeffer of the Jerusalem post writes this review of a book on the promises made by media pundits about the results of a retreat from Lebanon and Gaza (from 2000-2005). It illustrates well the power of PCP (“if we’re nice to them, they’ll be nice to us”), and the resistance to HSJP (concessions and retreats are signs of weakness and call for further aggression), especially in Israel’s MSM. The review regrettably leaves out choice quotes from the Oslo period and focuses on the promises concerning the Gaza withdrawal. The author concludes by being even-handed and admitting his own failed prophecies, although I would not have put those mistakes in the same league with the colossally damaging and unrepentant prophecies of the MSM on Arab-Israeli relations. (HT: Ellsee)

    Behind the Lines: The press’s false prophecies

    Anshel Pfeffer, THE JERUSALEM POST Dec. 22, 2006

    On my desk for the last few weeks has been sitting an amusing little Hebrew booklet, the translation of whose title is, They Promised a Dove. (This title is a take-off on a popular song from the early Nineties, from the perspective of the generation of children conceived after the Yom Kippur War, who are blaming their parents for not having brought peace.)

    Like a box of Belgian chocolates in which one roots around and keeps finding new and better fillings, I’ve taken delight in delving into this simple, yet subversive, booklet again and again, coming up with new pearls with each reading. Its authors, seasoned journalists Haggai Segal and Uri Orbach, are far from being like the naive children in the song. But, like those children, what they are doing is pointing their fingers at the naked emperor. (Disclosure: I’m on friendly terms with both Segal and Orbach, and have worked with the former on a number of occasions.)

    The booklet is a collection of confident “prophecies,” spouted by many top Israeli pundits, during the period between the May 2000 IDF withdrawal from the security zone in Lebanon and this summer’s war. All had predicted that lasting peace and quiet on the Lebanese and Palestinian fronts were imminent – and that retreating from Lebanon, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank were wise and inevitable steps.

    Great quotes abound in this book. But I have two favorites.

    The first is from Haaretz oracle Ari Shavit on June 24, 2005 – 13 months before the war: “Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon taught whomever did not understand this before the importance of a recognized border for the security of Israel. Since 2000, the strength of the invisible wall of international legitimacy has been proven on the Lebanese border. This invisible wall is what is defending northern Israel today. This invisible war is what is preventing even a terrorist organization like Hizbullah from firing its thousands of long-range Katyushas into the sovereign territory of Israel.”

    Note that Shavit was the author of a much-cited article in 2000 after the failure of Oslo entitled: “Barak’s Copernican Revolution,” (Ha’aretz, October 27, 2000), in which he showed how by pushing the “land for peace” (ie negotiate a positive-sum outcome by making concessions) formula to the hilt, Barak had shown the world the failure of such a paradigm. And yet, here he is, back at it again with the Gaza withdrawal.

    The second is from Ma’ariv mega-star Ben Kaspit, who summarized disengagement as follows: “The IDF is the IDF – meticulous planning, perfect execution. Danny Halutz is on the job. Nobody need worry.”

    SEGAL AND Orbach, both representatives of the religious Right, are making two points here, one political and the other professional. First, they make no bones about blaming the mainstream Israeli media for a monolithic endorsement of any proposal of Israeli retreat, without subjecting it to even minimal inspection – and for marginalizing conflicting views, labeling those who hold them “dangerous extremists.”

    This is the core of the West’s woes. People who live in a delusional universe where they can promise anything and count on our liberal hopes for peace now to excuse their repeated folly, do not hesitate to whip out the ugly terms for anyone who disagrees: racists, war-mongers, fascists…

    Whether or not the second intifada and the events of this summer in Gaza and Lebanon prove the critics of withdrawal and disengagement right is an important debate. But I’d prefer to use this column to examine the authors’ second point – that the leading pundits of the Israeli press have a propensity to fire-and-forget, to issue summary judgments on what the future holds without any responsibility for the eventual outcome.

    In an age when everyone is gloomily foreseeing the end of journalism as we know it – not a week goes by without news of another colleague forsaking the profession for more promising fields – there is at least one sector of the media which has nothing to worry about where job security is concerned. As news becomes less about straight reporting, and more about opinion, those among the ranks of pundits, commentators and op-ed writers really have it made. The market for pithy, opinionated and unequivocal columns seems almost unlimited – with the Internet providing an even more expansive outlet.

    All one needs today to sell his wares of wisdom is a loose set of ideas, a way with words, and the ability to churn them out in time for deadline. As long as his doing so makes for a good read, nobody cares if at some later date he will have been proven wrong.

    Anyone reading newspapers and Web sites can easily think of highly-regarded columnists who regularly get it wrong, blithely predicting events and outcomes that turn out to have no basis. But have we ever heard of one of one of these false prophets ever being fired?

    Given the possibilities on the web, I think it would be extremely valuable to compile a list of pundits and their record — quantitative data and rankings, but also make available the substance behind the statistics. I still remember all the folks insisting that when Israel killed Sheikh Yassin and Rantisi, that the suicide bombing would come in waves, even thought there was extended silence.

    THE BOOKLET shows the amusing side of the pundits’ mistakes. But it also illustrates the sinister way in which columnists form and inform public opinion, transforming individual views into the prevailing wisdom and consensus.

    To show that no one is immune to this disease, Segal and Orbach include similar mistakes of their own. Which shows that this kind of reckless soothsaying is by no means reserved to a particular side of the political spectrum.

    Indeed, in the first half of 2005, the right-wing press published dozens of columns explaining how there was no way the Israeli public was going to allow the government to carry out disengagement; how hundreds of thousands of citizens would block the roads leading to Gush Katif; and how a mass rebellion would break out in the ranks of the army. Very few, if any, major right-wing writers admitted afterwards that they had taken part in creating a mindset that made it much harder for the evicted settlers to come to terms with their fate.

    On the other hand, the fact remains that this position remained, for the most part, within the confines of the right-wing press. The mainstream media had little time or space for the sizable minority bitterly opposed to disengagement.

    A much smaller left-wing minority continues to get a disproportionate hearing. Though there are still sufficient grounds to justify disengagement and the withdrawal from the security zone, recent events indicate that opposing ideas deserved to have been taken much more seriously.

    I CANNOT conclude this column honestly without coming clean about my own past practices as an instant pundit. Though my Jerusalem Post track record hasn’t been that bad, a few glaring mistakes stand out. Three of these are particularly embarrassing. Despite the fact that no one actually took me to task for them, I’m now inviting your ridicule by pointing them out.

    • In January, immediately after Ariel Sharon’s second debilitating stroke, I predicted that the Kadima leadership would not gather around his replacement, Ehud Olmert, and that a succession battle would sink the nascent party.

    • On the eve of the election, I advised readers not to vote for the Pensioners Party, confidently asserting that since it had no chance of passing the electoral threshold, a vote for it would be wasted.

    • Before the cease fire at the end of this summer’s war, I wrote that the government’s days were numbered, due to its having been discredited and by its being left with no agenda following the demise of the realignment plan.

    The first two of these predictions were quickly confounded. As for the third: It is four and a half months later, and the government is not only still here, but no one is prepared to make any more bets on its imminent fall.

    Try as I might, I can’t find one excuse for these mistakes, other than hasty judgment. For this reason, the most important passage from They Promised a Dove from my perspective was in its foreword: “What all the failed analyses had in common was that they dealt with the future. This is a territory which would be better left to astrologers in the horoscope columns. As journalists, we should concentrate on reporting the past and present, or on providing clever comment on what is happening now. If we have any predictions on what is expected, we should express them with the necessary care and humility, with a bit more ‘perhaps’ and ‘maybe.’”

    This is commendable honesty on the part of Pfeffer. To be fair to him, however, these prophecies are the result of misunderstanding some of the elements at work in a highly complex Israeli political scene. Trying to predict chaos is high risk stuff. But the subjects of the book are dealing with a political culture that still adheres heavily to the demands of honor-shame, whose Arabic pronouncements clearly contradict its foreign language PR, and whose responses continue to show enduring consistency. For them to repeat the same mistake over and over again, even as the consequences become more disastrous both in weakening civil society and strengthening the forces of religious violence, is inexcusable. I think the pundits who promised not just Israel, but the whole world, a dove, deserve a hefty measure of opprobrium.

    MTW Joel Fishman, “Palestinians lose Prestige: A Major Paradigm Shift Underway”

    [As part of the Herzilya conference, I will post either the papers of those who give me permission or the abstracts we have received here, then link their presentations. I hope to be able to post the audio of each session as a podcast in the coming week. This is the first of the papers. This paper was delivered at the heavily criticized panel on Paradigm Shifts.]

    Text of Paper Read at the Conference: The Media as Theater of War, the Blogosphere, and the Global Battle for Civil Society, IDC Herzliya, Monday, 18.12.06

    At last January’s Herzliya Conference, Prof. Paul Bracken of Yale, stated that the objective of the systems analyst was to identify a range of outcomes for a given situation. In this spirit, I would like to point out a new and highly interesting addition to the range of potential outcomes of the present conflict. There are some signs of a readiness, both in Israel and abroad, to place the responsibility on the Palestinian side for the continuation of the war against Israel. The evolution of this paradigm shift must be monitored, because it may present new advantages to Israel.

    Because the facts are not conclusive, I must present my observations with due caution. Nevertheless, it is still possible to identify certain tendencies which may result in a major change of widely held perceptions concerning the Palestinians, their claims against Israel, and the widely accepted proposition that world justice depends on the satisfaction of their absolute demands. In short, their standing and prospects for the future may be declining.

    If one views the subject in historical perspective, it becomes clear that a change has taken place. What a change has taken place since the early nineties when American academics predicted that there would be a “Palestinian Exception!” They optimistically speculated that the PA would be the first real Arab democracy and it would have a vibrant civil society [Martin Kramer, Ivory Towers on Sand (Washington, 2001), 70-76; editor's note: a reference to the work of people like John Esposito and Augustus Richard Norton]. Since then, they are bogged down in corruption, lawlessness, and civil war. One could say that their image is returning to what it once was in the seventies – that of an outlaw terrorist group. They are no longer considered to be a potential peace partner, and their cause has lost the glow of historical inevitability. The clock has struck midnight for the Palestinian Cinderella, and her coach is turning back into a pumpkin.

    There are several reasons why this happened. The first is the shakeout following the Mearsheimer and Walt Report, the Baker-Hamilton Report, and Jimmy Carter’s new book. The intention of these individuals has been to discredit Israel, its advocates in America, and destroy the special relationship between Israel and the United States, a vital relationship of strategic importance. These challenges also threaten the status of American Jewry. If such views prevail, American Jewry will be forced back into the status of second class citizens, as was the case before the Second World War. Feeling threatened, American Jewish thinkers have joined this battle and are fighting vigorously. In order to win, they have to discredit the authors of these reports hard and make the Palestinians look bad. If one reads their arguments, it is clear that the gloves are off. They are bringing up historical arguments – the kind that the well-meaning friends of the Palestinians have tried to suppress. They are targeting the Palestinian cause frontally and advancing Jewish claims dating from Biblical times and recalling the British Mandate.

    In a related development, Prime Minister Olmert has spoken with world leaders abroad and attacked Iran verbally because of its genocidal intentions combined with a nuclear program, state-sponsored antisemitism, and Holocaust denial. These efforts to draw attention on Iran have raised the long-ignored issue of state-sponsored Arab antisemitism, and, indirectly, have raised other serious questions. What makes the Palestinians different from the Iranians? Why should Mahmoud Abbas, an unrepentant Holocaust denier, enjoy respectability? And what about the well-documented stream of antisemitic incitement which the PA officially sponsors and broadcasts?

    Further, one of the after effects of the second war in Lebanon has been a gradual shift of perception in the ranks of Israel’s political class. A consensus has silently emerged that Oslo failed and that the proposition, “land for peace,” is wrong. This has resulted in a reexamination of the articles of faith which, for more than a decade determined official Israel’s view of its place in the world. For example, Chairman of the Knesset, Dalia Itzik, articulately revealed her discomfort an interview with Ma’ariv (1 October 2006) when she declared: “All these years, I thought that all that keeps us apart from them [the Arabs] was territory. If we returned the territories, there would be peace. This equation ended. What reason do they have to continue to fire [on us]? And we left from Lebanon. Where does all this hatred come from?”

    Similarly, Deputy Defense Minister, Ephraim Sneh in a debate at the Knesset on the subject of civilian casualties at Beth Hanoun told the Arab MKs that “There is a cultural gap between us….” (ynet, 13 November 2006). And at the beginning of December, Major General Uzi Dayan told a small group at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs that the Oslo accords did not benefit Israel and that the PA cannot deliver the goods.

    On the level of international affairs, there appears to be an incipient awareness that the Palestinian Authority will not be a partner in a peace settlement with the State of Israel. In fact, Prime Minister Tony Blair stated at a White House press Conference of December 7, 2006 that “The major difficulty is that the Palestinians don’t accept Israel’s right to exist.” (Jerusalem Post, 8 December 2006). This public acknowledgment of the Palestinians’ real intentions represents a change of perception which is immensely important, because Prime Minister Blair directed the world’s attention to the fact that it is the Palestinians who are unprepared for a political settlement based on compromise. According to Yehoshefat Harkabi, who wrote in the seventies, the “adherence to politicide is the Arab’s main ideological weakness.” [ASIR, p. 106]. Here is their point of greatest vulnerability.

    There are some indications that a new more realistic perception of what the Palestinians stand for may replace the rosy image which their indulgent and well-meaning friends have conferred upon them. The time has come for the world to learn about their reality of unfulfilled expectations, violence, corruption, and intimidation. This change of perception could take place suddenly or as a result of a gradual process of erosion, but there is a clear need for a catalyst. In order to win the media war against the Palestinians, it will be necessary to expose their true intentions, shift the discussion to their genocidal aspirations, draw attention to their sick society, and place the burden of proof on them.

    What I have described are the first signs of a new opportunity. Israel and its advocates should make the most of it.

    Dr. Joel Fishman is a Fellow of the Jerusalem Center of Public Affairs.

    Literature by Dr. Fishman: “Israel’s Information Policy and the Challenge of of Ideological Warfare,” Nativ Vol. 15, no 6 (November 2002): 58-64. (in Hebrew); “Information Policy and National Identity: Israel’s Ideological WarA,” Ariel Center for Policy Research Paper No. 142 (January 2003).; “Ten Years Since Oslo: The PLO’s ‘People’s War’ Strategy and Israel ‘s Inadequate Response,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Jerusalem Viewpoints No. 503, 1 September 2003. “The Cold-War Origins of Contemporary Anti-Semitic Terminology,” Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Jerusalem Viewpoints No. 517, 2-16 May 2004. La Guerre d’Oslo (with co-author Prof. Ephraim Karsh), Paris: Editions de Passy, 2005.

    HERZILYA CONFERENCE

    As part of the 7th Annual Herzliya Conference on the Balance of Israel’s National Security, The Institute for Policy and Strategy at IDC Herzliya would like to invite you to join us at a conference entitled:

    Media as Theater of War, the Blogosphere, and the Global Battle for Civil Society

    The conference will take place on Sunday and Monday, December 17-18, 2006 at the Daniel Hotel in Herzliya.

    The event is open to the general public but we request that you RSVP in advance to guarantee a place.
    [email protected]

    Conceptual Principles

    Program (as of December 13, 2006)

    Bibliography

    Moral Equivalence at the Guardian

    The latest in Moral Equivalence, brought to you by the Guardian.

    poo

    Herzilya Media Conference: Bibliography

    Below are suggested readings for the Herzilya Conference, many by participants. If anyone has further suggestions to make, I’d be happy to consider them for inclusion. We will try and post the PDF files shortly.

    Fishman, Joel, “Information Policy and National Identity: Israel’s Ideological War,” ACPR Policy Paper, No. 142, 2002.
    59 pages,

    Fishman, Joel, ““Ten Years Since Oslo: The PLO’s People’s War Strategy and Israel’s Inadequate Response, Jerusalem Viewpoints, No. 503 (1-15 September 2003).
    20 pages

    Fishman, Joel, “The Cold War Origins of Contemporary Anti-Semitic Terminology,” Jerusalem viewpoints, No. 517 (2-16 May 2004).
    14 pages.

    Gerstenfeld ,Manfred, “Europe’s Mindset Toward Israel as Accentuated by the Lebanon War,” Jerusalem Viewpoints, No. 547, 1 October, 2006.
    19 pages.

    Gissin, Raanan, “The Critical Importance of Israeli Public Diplomacy in the War Against Iran,,” Jerusalem Issue Brief, Vol. 6, No. 9 (August 2006)
    6 pages.

    Glick, Caroline, “Column One: Truth in Advertising,” Jerusalem Post, 3 November 2006.
    3 pages

    Halkin, Hillel, “Israel’s Media Problem,” Commentary, 121:2, February 2006.

    Inbar, Efraim, “What Went Wrong,” Jerusalem Post, 2 April, 2006.
    2 pages

    Kerstein, Benjamin, “Sins of ’68,” Azure, Spring 2006.
    14 pages, PDF File

    Landes, Richard, “Paradigms and the Middle East: PCP vs. HSJP,” Second Draft

    Landes, Richard, “Meditations of Reutersgate: What’s Going on with the MSM?,” The Augean Stables

    Letter from al-Zawahiri to al-Zarqawi,GlobalSecurity.org, 9, July 2005.
    7 pages

    Lynch, Marc, “Al Qaeda’s Media Strategies,” The National Interest online, 1 March 2006.
    7 pages,

    Mansdorf, Irwin J., “Psychological Warfare in the Arab-Israeli Conflict: The Strategic Affect on Military and Political Decisions”
    11 pages, PDF file

    Mazel, Zvi,
    Tzipi, You Failed,Y-net, 24 August 2006.
    2 pages

    Mazel, Zvi,
    Bikinis are not enough,Y-net, 29 October 2006.
    2 pages,

    Mendel, Roee,
    “Want to Win the Media Game? Don’t Apologize,” Y-net, 11 September 2006.
    3 pages

    Navov,Emmanuel,
    Soft Powerlessness: Arab Propaganda and the Erosion of Israel’s International Standing,” Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy, Institute for Policy and Strategy, IDC Herzliya, 21-24 January 2006.
    98 pages

    Pollak, Noah, “Video Made the Terrorist Star,National Review Online, 3, August 2006.
    3 pages

    Poller, Nidra, “Baked on the Premises,” Atlas Shrugs, 25 July 2006.
    4 pages

    Poller, Nidra, “Don’t Apologize,Atlas Shrugs, 8 August 2006.
    3 pages

    Poller, Nidra, “French Duplomacy,Tech Central Station Daily, 11 August 2006.
    2 pages

    Poller, Nidra, “Give War a Chance,Jihad Watch, 3 August 2006.
    2 pages

    Poller, Nidra, “Indiscriminate Pacifism,Tech Central Station Daily, 1 August 2006.
    2 pages

    Poller, Nidra, “Seduce and Betray,” Wall Street Journal, 24, August 2006.
    3 pages

    Rosenfeld, Alvin, “Progressive Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism,” American Jewish Committee, December 2006.
    22 pages,

    Schleifer, Ron, ““Psychological Warfare in Israel,” (Hebrew), The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar Ilan University, July 2002.
    42 pages

    Stotsky, Steven, “ Stotsky, Steven, “Questioning the Number of Civilian Casualties in Lebanon,” CAMERA, 7 September 2006.
    6 pages

    What Can Muslims and Arabs Learn from the West and Israel? Response to CS

    Chaim Shmuel left a long and challenging note in response to my post on the impact of the media on European Muslims. I got a similar complaint in a private email from one of my research assistants. It raises important questions and seems worthy of a separate post in response. (CS in blockquotes)

    Comment:
    the article by John Rosenthal is very, very interesting. however, i have a bone to pick with you. This seems to be your underlying motif, the core of every post you have at this site: “the only way the Arab world will ever achieve some semblance of democracy is in learning from the Israelis. But that would mean, of course, swallowing pride and learning some modesty”.

    Actually, I never stated it quite as boldly as I did in this post, so I’m not sure it’s my underlying motif of every post, but I’ll own it nonetheless, even if I end up changing or clarifying substantially by the end of this discussion.

    But what is the distinction that you always draw? ‘We’ bend over backwards for peace, for restraint, for international approval, while ‘they’ ruthlessly pursue jihad, manipulating us in the process. Therefore, ‘we’ are commendable, and ‘they’, despicable. But Israel, and more broadly, the Jews, always fail precisely when behave this way. They appear ridiculous and contemptible, and rightly so.

    Paradigms and the Middle East Conflict: PCP 1 and 2

    PCP:
    PCP1: POLITICALLY CORRECT PARADIGM (LIBERAL)
    PCP2: POST-COLONIAL PARADIGM (RADICAL)

    If in the 18th century, progressive thought emphasized equality before the law (democracy), and in the 19th, it emphasized equality of goods and services (socialism, communism), in the 20th century it emphasized equality of cultures. This development came on the wings of a wave of exceptional self-criticism in which avant-garde thinkers questioned some of the most basic and often unconscious elements of their own culture and sought to renounce patterns, values, and deeds that they felt were immoral. Respect for other cultures, especially ones that earlier Westerners had found “primitive” and “superstitious” became a major engine of cultural thought, especially in Anthropological studies pioneered by Boas and his students in the early 20th century. Based on the principle that we cannot understand “others” without empathy, and cannot empathize without restraining our tendency to impose our own mentality on others, especially in making value judgments…

    After the horrors of World War II, this paradigm took over most long-range political thinking on an international scale, with a de-colonialization process that was supposed to liquidate imperialism. The Sixties and the New Left shifted attention from classic radical concerns about domestic equality towards the international arena, arguing that the prosperity of the West came from plundering the Third World, and capitalism just represented a more sophisticated cultural version of imperialism that did not need to use brute force most of the time.

    Edward Said’s book, Orientalism (1979) did much to crystallize this direction of thought into a wide-ranging critique of Western visions of the “other,” insisting that Western attitudes towards the Orient ranging from contempt to prurience to romanticism, represent an projection of our own conscious and unconscious preoccupations onto “other” cultures whose real contours we constantly mistake.

    Said’s critique of our misreading of the Orient, especially of the Arab world, developed into a wide-ranging, theoretically sophisticated approach known as “post-colonialism.” Here people examine how dominant (hegemonic) cultures use their discourse to “inscribe” their control over a “subaltern” populations. Here Western culture becomes the theatre of a massive act of military and cultural imperialism, greater in scope (global) and more penetrating in effect (capitalism and modernization) than any earlier imperialistic project. What results is a large body of academic research and analysis that claims to explain the most significant historical developments of the modern world, and to shed light on both the problems that face us and the solutions available. There is an important selection of texts, influenced by Said, that epithomize this post-colonial, anti-imperialist orientation.

    This paradigm, which has both radical variants (revolutionary goals, remorseless hostility to West), and liberal variants (reformist goals, self-critical approach), has a powerful grip on the imagination of most progressive thinkers, who consider it the logical extension of the best and most avant-garde elements of Western thinking about freedom and respect for the other, about self-critical willingness to shoulder responsibility for our own misdeeds (e.g., the European colonists’ treatment of native Americans, north and south). It is embedded in a self-critical historiography dedicated to telling the story of the (largely) voiceless masses through innovative social and and cultural investigations.

    When applied to the Arab-Israeli conflict, this approach to modern, global history sees the Israelis as another example of Western imperialism, still working within the framework of an outdated (since World War II) violent, colonialist approach that does to the Palestinians what the French did to the Algerians, the English to the Indians and South Africans, and the Americans to the native tribes. In this perspective, the Israelis are the oppressing power, using modern technology to subjugate and exploit – if not ethnically cleanse – an innocent population whose violence is largely a form of resistance to colonialism. Israel is the Goliath of modern western imperialism; Palestine the David of brave native resistance against all odds.

    david-goliath

    PCPers refer to the conflict between Israel and its neighbors as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Its cause is the lack of Palestinian statehood, the Israeli occupation and settlements in the Palestinian territories, and its solution is to create a Palestinian state either in the territories occupied in the 1967 war (liberal version) or a single “bi-national” secular, democratic state on all the territory (radical version). The reason that Arafat said no to camp David, is because the Israelis did not offer enough.. The reason violence broke out at the end of September 2000, is because Sharon went to the Haram al Sharif and provoked Palestinian violence. The solution is for Israel to withdraw to the “green line” (pre-‘67 borders) and allow the Palestinians to establish their own autonomous state. The corollary to this sees the US as another imperial-colonialist power like Israel which has stirred up the hornet’s nest of Jihadi terror in Iraq; and similarly concludes that the increase in terror is because of the Iraqi war, and withdrawing from Iraq will weaken terrorism. The implication is that terrorism, particularly suicide terrorism, is essentially a “tactic” against “occupation” and not the symptom of a more deep-rooted jihadist ideology.

    From the PCP, the media is insufficiently “even-handed” in covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Until recently, the press has basically taken a pro-Israeli stance, which has only increased the Palestinian sense of grievance. To use different language about the two sides, especially when the harsher language refers to Palestinian behavior, is biased in favor of Israel. The more advocacy-minded among such PCPers (PCP2) want the media to use honest and realistic language, to speak of occupation and colonialism. Mainstream media, reflecting the PCP view will not use the term “terrorist” in describing Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians because a) if they do, they will be under pressure to use it “even-handedly” about Israeli “state-sponsored” terrorism; and b) if they do, it will seem like they are taking sides against the Palestinians. Media outlets such as the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) have adopted a similar “even-handed” approach.

    ADVANTAGES:

    1) Sides with underdog
    2) Views the conflict in ways that do not lead to violent action on our part.
    3) Self-critically accepts blame on West, thus empowering possible positive-sum solutions from our (and Israeli) changes in behavior
    4) Considers poverty the cause, and economic development the answer to terrorism
    5) Offers coherence in framing the conflict on both intellectual (explains events) and moral (identifies the bad guys and good guys) levels.
    6) Abundance of data to fit
    7) Academic consensus (MESA)
    8) Criticizes the side that doesn’t respond violently to criticism (i.e., to attack them is without immediate cost).

    DISADVANTAGES:

  • 1) anomalies the PCP has difficulty explaining:
  • 2) Involves extensive use of inappropriate moral equivalences.
    3) Solutions backfire producing more, not less violence (Oslo, Lebanon and Gaza withdrawals).
    4) Robs “others” of their identity to fit them in our assigned categories — they are reactions to us.
    5) Ignores the role of Zero-sum behavior on the part of subalterns.
    6) Cannot register aggressive tendencies from “other” (racism, genocide, imperialism are Western sins).
    7) Excessive self-criticism makes it hard to spot the demopaths.
    8) Susceptibility to any narrative that fits the model (e.g., “Palestinian Victim Narrative”).
    9) Susceptibility to anti-semitic discourse disguised as anti-zionism
    10) Feeds resentment by appealing to a Moral Schadenfreude about Israel and the US (we feel better for pointing the finger at Israel)
    11) Suscepibility to conspiracy narratives (particularly the radical PCP2).

    TERMINOLOGY:

    1) Occupation.
    2) Naqbah.
    3) State-Sponsored Terrorism.
    4) Martyr operations/resistance.
    5) Even-handed press.

    CHARACTERISTIC FAULTS:

    1) Liberal Cognitive Egocentrism (LCE)
    2) Masochistic Omnipotence Syndrome (MOS)
    3) Human Rights Complex (HRC)

    CATCH PHRASES:

    1) Islam is a religion of peace.
    2) I’m sure the vast majority of Muslims/Palestinians want peace and a decent life.
    3) If only Israel would withdraw to the “Green Line” then the Palestinians would be satisfied.
    4) The cause of terrorism is poverty and despair.
    5) One man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter.
    6) Any Palestinian with a three-digit IQ knows that Israel is here to stay. (The Connection, ca. late 2002)
    7) What choice do they have? (re: suicide bombers) PCP1
    8) Resistance is not terror! (re: suicide bombing) PCP2
    9) Anti-zionism is not anti-Semitism.
    10) Zionism promotes anti-semitism.
    12) Anytime someone criticizes Israel (or Sharon), they’re accused of anti-Semitism.
    13) Occupation creates suicide bombers and ending occupation will put an end to suicide bombers.
    14) Most Arabs want democracy.
    15) Arabs want democracy but not US-style democracy.

    Underlying Grand Narrative
    : Once people, any people, even the Jews, get power they turn around and do to others, weaker people, what was done to them. This is the Athenian argument to the Melians, Nietzsche’s to the Judeo-Christian “slave morality,” and now appears to feed a certain moral Schadenfreude to those who enjoy applying it to the Jews in power, that is, Zionists.

    Herzilya Conference: Media as Theater of War

    As part of the 7th Annual Herzliya Conference on the Balance of Israel’s National Security, The Institute for Policy and Strategy at IDC Herzliya would like to invite you to join us at a conference entitled:

    Media as Theater of War, the Blogosphere, and the Global Battle for Civil Society

    For a bibliography of readings on this subject, many by participants, please visit Bibliography

    The conference will take place on Sunday and Monday, December 17-18, 2006 at the Daniel Hotel in Herzliya.

    The event is open to the general public but we request that you RSVP in advance to guarantee a place.
    [email protected]

    Tentative Program (as of December 11, 2006)

    The Media as Theater of War, the Blogosphere, and the Global Battle for Civil Society

    December 17 – 18, 2006
    Daniel Hotel, Herzliya

    DAY I: Sunday, December 17

    Media as a Theater of War: Lessons of the Second Lebanese War

    08:00 – 08:30 Registration

    08:30 – 09:00 Opening Address:
    Prof. Richard Landes, Head of the Media Working Group for the 7th Annual Herzliya Conference
    The Miracle and Vulnerabilities of Civil Society: The Crisis of the 21st Century
    Prof. Uzi Arad, Head and Founder, Institute for Policy and Strategy, IDC
    Introducing STRATCOM

    09:00 – 10:30 Panel I: Coverage of the Lebanese War: Arab Media
    Hayim Azses, Educational Director, Sephardic Educational Center
    Al Jazeera’s Coverage of the Lebanon War: Journalism or Advocacy?
    Itamar Marcus, Director, Palestinian Media Watch
    The Strategic Use of Media During War: Hezbollah and the Palestinian Authority
    Leah Soibel, Senior Researcher, The Israel Project
    A Mutual Relationship: The Arab Media and Hassan Nasrallah
    Michael Widlanski, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
    Israeli Air-Power vs. Arab Air –Wave Power

    11:00 – 12:30 Panel II: Coverage of the Lebanese War: Western Media
    Chair and Comment: Richard Landes
    Lee Smith, Visiting Fellow, Hudson Institute
    The Lebanon War: US Media Shortcomings and Agenda
    Nidra Poller, Paris Editor, Pajamas Media,
    How do you say ‘Fauxtography’ in French?
    Tamar Sternthal, Israel Director, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America
    Casualty Figures and “Disproportionate Force
    Professor Gerald Steinberg, Bar Ilan University, Editor, NGO Monitor
    Dealing with the Politicized NGO Network and the Media

    12:30 – 13:30 Lunch
    Screening of Icon of Hatred (Continuation of Pallywood and Al Durah, from Second Draft) 20 minutes

    13:30 – 15:00 Panel III: Kfar Qana: Inflection Point?
    Chair and Comment: Nachman Shai, Director, UJC Israel, Former IDF Spokesperson
    Dr. Raanan Gissin, Strategic Consultant and former advisor to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
    The Impact of Qana on the Outcome of the Lebanese War
    Reuven Koret, Publisher, Israel Insider
    Hezbollywood in Qana: How the Exaggeration of Civilian Deaths was Exposed by Bloggers and Web Publishers
    Jonathan Davis, IDF Spokesperson’s Unit (res.), VP for External Relations, IDC
    Experiences of an IDF Spokesman Reservist Officer in the Field
    Mark Regev, Spokesperson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    Qana as an Immense Media, Diplomatic & PR problem
    Joe Hyams, Honest Reporting,
    The Frame Game

    15:15 – 16:45 Panel IV: The New Kid on the Block: Blogosphere and Mainstream Media in Lebanon
    Chair and Comment: Allison Kaplan Sommer, Israelity, Middle East Editor, Pajamas Media
    Martin Solomon, Solomonia
    The Blogosphere and Lebanon – Having an Impact on the Mainstream Media
    Judith Weiss, Kesher Talk
    A range of reactions to the Lebanon media scandals, from the Left side of the Blogosphere
    Michael Totten, Middle East Journal
    Evidence of Hezbollah’s use of civilians
    Richard Fernandez, The Belmont Club, Australian Editor, Pajamas Media
    From Margin to Center: The Bologosphere and the Mainstream Media during the Lebanese War

    17:00 – 18:30 Panel V: Media Oxymoron: Open Reporting from Closed Societies
    Michael Widlanski, Hebrew University, Jerusalem
    Reporting from Inside Arab Society
    Noah Pollak, Assistant Editor, Azure, Shalem Center

    Stephanie Gutmann, The Other War: Israelis, Palestinians and the Struggle for Media Supremacy
    A Theme Park of Great Subjects – 20 Minutes from a Nice Hotel
    Dr. Reuven Paz, Senior Fellow, GLORIA
    Internet – the Open University for Jihad Studies
    Prof. Anna Geifman, Boston University
    Stockholm Syndrome in the Media

    DAY TWO: Monday, December 18.

    The Media as Theater of War, the Blogosphere, and the Global Battle for Civil Society

    Strategies for the 21st Century: Public Diplomacy as Self-Defense for Israel and Civil Society in the West and the World

    08:30 – 09:00 Opening remarks
    MK Amira Dotan, Member of Knesset, Chairperson, Hasbara Committee
    The Hasbarah Greenhouse: Thinking Outside the Box
    Prof. Richard Landes
    Reality Bites, Especially When You Ignore it

    09:00 – 10:30 Panel I: What Challenges face Israeli Public Diplomacy in the 21st Century?
    Chair and Comment: Daniel Seaman, Director, Foreign Press Office
    Stephanie Gutmann, The Other War: Israelis, Palestinians and the Struggle for Media Supremacy
    Sabra Values in a Superficial World
    Philippe Karsenty, Media-Ratings
    Al Durah, Israel and European Jews: A Tragic MisunderstandingItamar Marcus, Director, Palestinian Media Watch
    Changes Necessary in Israeli Public Diplomacy
    Maj. Avital Leibovich, Head of the Foreign Press Division, IDF Spokesperson’s Unit
    Amir Gissin, Director, Public Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    11:00 – 12:30 Panel II: Paradigm Shifts: Radical Reorientations
    Chair and Comment: Ron Schliefer, Bar Ilan University and College of Judea and Samaria
    Dr. Joel Fishman, Project Director of Democracy in Israel, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
    An Emerging Paradigm Shift
    Aryeh Green, Director, Media Central
    Reclaiming the Traditional Definition of ‘Human Rights’ as a Radical Paradigm Shift
    Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, Chairman of the Steering Committee, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
    Changing Paradigms:: Verbal Vegetarians Have to Learn How to Turn the Accusers into the Accused
    Charles Jacobs, Founder, The David Project (video appearance)
    A Proposed Offensive: The Human Rights Hoax
    Emmanuel Navon, Lecturer, The Abba Eban Graduate Studies Program in Diplomacy, Tel-Aviv University
    The Albert Camus Paradigm: When Your Mother Comes Before Your Ideals
    Yitzhak Sokoloff, Executive Director, Merkaz Keshet
    Beyond Right and Left

    12:30 – 13:30 Lunch
    Screening of Icon of Hatred (Continuation of Pallywood and Al Durah, from Second Draft)

    13:30 – 15:00 Panel III: Cyberspace as a Media Revolution: Implications for Israeli Public Diplomacy
    Chair and Comment: Yaakov Kirschen (The Drybones Blog)
    Richard Fernandez, The Belmont Club, Australian Editor, Pajamas Media
    How the Blogosphere Shapes Information
    Lisa Goldman, On the Face
    Blogging: The Power of Direct Online Communication to Humanize the Other
    Charles Chuman, Lebanese Political Journal
    Beginning an Arab-Israeli Dialogue
    Benjamin Kerstein, Diary of an Anti-Chomskyite
    The Blog Revolution, Zionism, and Difficult Freedom
    Aussie Dave, Israellycool
    The New Soldier: The Citizen Journalist
    Michael Totten, Middle East Journal and Mary Madigan, Exit Zero
    Comments from Lebanon

    15:15 – 17:00 Panel IV: Where to Engage? Terrains of Public Diplomacy in the 21st Century
    Dr. Mitchell Bard, Executive Director, American Israeli Cooperative Enterprise
    In Search of Israel Scholars for American Campuses”
    Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Director, Shurat HaDin Israel Law Center
    Legal Initiatives
    Candy Shinaar, Director, Council of Hasbara Volunteers (CoHaV)
    Effective Utilization of Grassroots Efforts
    Noam Bedein, Sderot Media Center,
    Report from the Front between Civil Society and Terror
    Joël Rubinfeld, The Atlantis Institute,
    Europe, its Media, and the Atlantic Alliance
    Dr. Mike Cohen, Senior Analyst and Founder, Galilee Institute
    Facing Reality

    17:30 – 18:00 Closing Remarks Prof. Richard Landes, Boston University, The Augean Stables
    Strategies and Alliances for the Defense of Civil Society around the World

    Paradigms and the Middle East Conflict: Introduction

    This is a revision of one of the essays first posted at the Second Draft in the section Media: Reflections. It consists of four segments, each of which will be a separate post, and to which I invite comments, suggestions, further links, etc. (most of the links come from summer 2005).

    INTRODUCTION TO PARADIGMS

    Paradigms provide overarching frameworks within which people try to understand major issues. An example of a major paradigm shift occurred in astronomy when scholars realized the earth and planets revolved around the sun instead of the sun revolving around the earth. The resultant paradigm shift meant that the same data (observations of planetary and solar position in the sky) fit into a different framework.

    People require frameworks in all areas of life in order to function, including political paradigms, because they help orient us, help us measure the relative importance and significance of any given detail and/or its causes and effects. On the other hand, all paradigms have weak points, are necessarily partial. By focusing on some details, they inevitably slight others; and they must do so. Hopefully, they focus on the important details and slight the less important ones.

    But any paradigm, any framework must confront data that does not “fit”perfectly, data that contradicts either the expectations of the paradigm or its own stated principles. If we are to look honestly at the world then we must explore the anomalies in our paradigms. Refusal to do so contributes to dogmatism or blind adherence to a chosen “truth.”

    Political paradigms are vastly more problematic and uncertain than scientific ones. Because political paradigms deal with subjective value judgments, they involve one’s beliefs, values, and personal morality. In this subjective terrain one can find many more anomalies, especially when political climates change. No political paradigm can justify a claim as “scientific” or “objectively true”.

    Despite these weaknesses, political and social paradigms are as important as scientific paradigms in orienting our thoughts and behavior. They attempt to explain the behavior of important people and current events, and in so doing offer us ways to think about how to solve political problems. When people align themselves with a political paradigm, they often also express their own attitudes towards “others,” either their faith or lack of faith in their good intentions. People may prefer one paradigm over another less for its explanatory abilities than because they like its moral implications, either by giving the believer a sense of moral rectitude, or by offering an excuse to dismiss moral concerns.

    But choosing a paradigm for the wrong reasons can be dangerous. When people are committed to a certain set of conclusions, regardless of the evidence, the paradigm ceases to aid an accurate assessment of reality and asserts a zero-sum relationship to any other approach to the issue. You are wrong because I am right; I cannot be wrong lest you be right. My solutions will work; your solutions will backfire.

    One of the key indicators that paradigms have become dogmatic is the presence of verbal “landmines”: when one says certain things (see the “catch phrases”) from one paradigm, adherents of the other immediately either turn off or get hostile, accusing the person of racism, fascism, idiotarianism, islamo-bolshevism, on the one hand, or of being a flakey angéliste (moral perfectionist/narcissist) and moonbat idiotarian, on the other.

    As a result paradigms become dogmatic, a tool to wield, or a weapon with which an activist can strike, rather than a map to explore. Ultimately, this shift to an activism that blinds can have a huge negative impact on our world, even as it promises to further our hopes. It can insist on a “truth” that directly contradicts important evidence, and proposes solutions that will indeed backfire in real life.

    Ultimately, we need to be able to think flexibly, exploring our social and political world by treating paradigms as working hypotheses that get confirmed or disproved in any individual case, rather than axiomatic truths that impose “right” on every case. Then different paradigms can have a positive-sum relationship, and improve our ability to solve problems by increasing our ability to understand them.

    Ultimately this all comes down to a question of judgment — which framework best suits which situation, and, given human nature, what way of understanding people’s actions and attitudes offers the most hope for significant changes. As promoters of civil societies, we want to avoid both inaccurate and unfair judgments. If we don’t, we may find that poor judgments encourage the very evils we think we oppose. And in today’s current climate of terrorism, judging poorly and taking sides unfairly can be suicidal.

    It has become fashionable, in our post-modern age to renounce judgment. “Who are we to judge?” one hears often, especially from self-critical Westerners eager to avoid accusations of superiority complexes, moral imperialism, and racism. (I have yet to hear an Arab or Muslim say, “who are we to judge the West?” Please notify me if you have an example.)

    Above all, we must learn to judge wisely. And while it is true that not judging is often wise, sometimes not judging is folly. I think we are in one of those occasional moments where failure to make fair judgments may well cause great damage to the very values we prize.

    What follows is a discussion of two of the major “paradigmatic” (comprehensive) approaches to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Neither is completley “wrong” or “right.” But each may be appropriate at different times and places. We need to be able to discuss both, now.

    Why Israel’s existence prevents Arab Democracy

    In a fascinating interview with the Editor-in-Chief of Al-Jazeera, Ahmed Sheikh (hat tip John Rosenthal, who translated the interview initially published in German), we find the following exchange which says a great deal not only about the Arab dilemma, but the immense difficulty they have thinking about this dilemma. At the end of the interviewer, Pierre Heumann (Die Weltwoche on Nov. 23, issue 47/06), asks who is responsible for the dismal condition of the Middle East with its wars, poverty, and dictatorships. His response:

    AS: The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the most important reasons why these crises and problems continue to simmer. The day when Israel was founded created the basis for our problems. The West should finally come to understand this. Everything would be much calmer if the Palestinians were given their rights.

    PH: Do you mean to say that if Israel did not exist, there would suddenly be democracy in Egypt, that the schools in Morocco would be better, that the public clinics in Jordan would function better?

    AS: I think so.

    PH: Can you please explain to me what the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has to do with these problems?

    AS: The Palestinian cause is central for Arab thinking.

    PH: In the end, is it a matter of feelings of self-esteem?

    AS: Exactly. It’s because we always lose to Israel. It gnaws at the people in the Middle East that such a small country as Israel, with only about 7 million inhabitants, can defeat the Arab nation with its 350 million. That hurts our collective ego. The Palestinian problem is in the genes of every Arab. The West’s problem is that it does not understand this.

    Precisely. The West doesn’t understand this particular Arab problem on the one hand, and the Arabs don’t understand how to get out of it on the other. Destroying Israel will only reaffirm the very mentality that makes the Middle East a dictatorship-ridden, war-plagued, poverty zone. It’s in overcoming this regressive, zero-sum honor-shame mentality that the Arab world has any hope in participating in the world of democracy and abundance. Indeed, the only way the Arab world will ever achieve some semblance of democracy is in learning from the Israelis. But that would mean, of course, swallowing pride and learning some modesty.

    For so highly educated man with pretenses to modern standards of journalism to think this way highlights the astounding lack of real, analytic, self-critical thought in the Middle East. “If only we could destroy the people who make us feel bad, then we could join the modern world.” That’s even more pathetic than the teenager or mid-life crisis adult who says to himself, “If only I had that motorcycle, I’d be happy.”

    Update: An article by Daoud, Israel is a Liability for US, reflects a winning combination of this Arab mindset with the pro-Arab foreign policy of the Carter-Baker-Walt-Mearsheimer school. A nice articulation of the demopaths discourse — all about moderation, what the rest of the world thinks, justice… and, of course, forcing Israel to stop being mean to the Arabs. Not a hint of self-criticism.

    Ramallah, Palestine/Amman, Jordan – The departure of Rumsfield and Bolton from the political scene, the bipartisan Baker-Hamilton report, and the frank talk of Jimmy Carter are all signs that Americans are finally beginning to realize that Israel is a liability and not an asset to their global interests. However, there is still a long way to go before the end of U.S. hegemony in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Israel, unfortunately, is still a domestic issue for the United States and the strength of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee hasn’t weakened despite attempts by U.S. academics to expose them.

    Hopefully, as the roots of America’s blind support for Israel are exposed, a more sane U.S. foreign policy in the region might emerge — a policy that takes into account what the rest of the world thinks. So far, a great deal is needed to end the misery caused by the unjust, nearly 40-year-old occupation of Palestine. The U.S. must act proactively, doing what Bush senior and James Baker III tried to do with the Shamir government on the eve of the 10 billion loan guarantees and the Madrid Peace process.

    The next year or so might provide a small window of opportunity if a Palestinian national unity government is formed, the moderate Arab countries get serious, and Britain along with its European partners makes a real push for Olmert to answer for his country’s illegal occupation and for the obstruction of genuine negotiations.

    The irony here is that the only hope for peace in the Middle East (within as well as between Arab states) is their learning to live with Israel, rather than their learning to manipulate the West into abandoning Israel. That a reporter with a reputation for moderation and an ability to “see the other side” should mouth such demopathic pieties, is a very bad sign.

    John Rosenthal on What Makes a “French” Jihadi

    John Rosenthal has an excellent and thoughtful piece in Policy Review on what makes a French immigrant from a Muslim country turn into a Jihadi. It is a long essay based primarily on prison interviews conducted between 2001-2003 by Farhad Khosrokhavar, Quand Al-Qäida parle: Témoignages derrière les barreaux (When al Qaeda Talks: Testimonials from Behind Bars) which “provides us with an unprecedentedly large body of evidence on the backgrounds, worldview, and motivations of those who make the choice for violent jihad in the name of Islam.”

    The piece is long and well worth reading. What I have excerpted below concerns the role of French TV in arousing hatred of France and the West. [Bold highlights mine.]

    The French Path to Jihad

    The transference of hate

    In a long scholarly essay appended to the interviews, Khosrokhavar also identifies the primordial importance of their grievances and/or complexes vis-à-vis France in the biographical itineraries that have led the inmates to radical Islam and its “anti-Western” jihad. He notes in this connection what he calls a process of “generalization” of their hatred of France to “the West” as such. The morose broodings of an Ousman provide just one illustration. But the interviews bear witness not only to such a process of generalization of the inmates’ hate, but also — and, from the point of view of the real conduct of jihad, more crucially — to a process of transference of their hate from, so to say, its “lived” object, namely, France and French society, to an “imagined” object or, more precisely, two imagined objects that in the perspective of the inmates are fused into one, namely, Israel and the U.S.

    “The West,” after all, is an abstraction. Inasmuch as it is a question of taking action — i.e., violent action in the framework of jihad — the designated target that stands in for the West in general and is substituted for France in particular is invariably the imagined Israelo-American monolith. The tight association of Israel and the U.S. in the discourse of the Islamists interviewed by Khosrokhavar is not, for the most part, given an openly anti-Jewish inflection. One highly revealing exception, however, is the “native French” convert. America, he says, “is hand in glove with the Jews” (248), and he denounces the “domination” of Muslims by “the yhudis [Jews] and American Zionists” (253).

    One of the most fascinating and significant features of the Khosrokhavar interviews is that the mechanism of this transference of hate is clearly observable. Time and again, an inmate, having provided an inventory of the sources of his frustration in France, suddenly announces his intention to purge the full charge of his hatred in fighting against Israel and the United States. In virtually every instance, the switch that permits this transference to take place is explicitly designated. It is neither the preaching of radical Imams nor the indoctrination of Islamic organizations. Indeed, in a sense, it is not an ideological instrument at all, since the certainty with which it invests the inmates’ convictions about American and Israeli infamy — a quasi-certainty tantamount to what they know from their own experience — is created through non-verbal means.

    Consider, for instance, the diatribe of “Moussa,” an Algerian-born Islamist who has lived for roughly a decade in France and is suspected of having ties with both the gia and al Qaeda. “Islam is what saves us from the West,” he says (52),

      from America, from all those who commit injustices against Muslims and oppress them: like Israel oppresses the Palestinian people. One sees on the television how the Israeli Army, with the help of America, mistreats the youth of the Intifada. When I see that, I want to go fight against them, against the Americans, against all those who repress Islam [italic emphasis added JR; bold RL].

    “Karim,” a French national and another al Qaeda suspect, says that “France is pushing people toward extremism. . . . If you suspect the worst of us, we’ll end up doing what we are accused of.” Where exactly does such extremism lead? Karim explains further (92):

      You see: in prison the Jihadists are very respected by the other Muslim inmates. The others think that the Jihadists have dared to do what they, the other inmates, think is right but have not had the courage to do. They have taken action and given a good lesson to the Americans who are repressing our brothers in Palestine or in Afghanistan. Just watch the TV and the humiliation to which the Israeli army subjects the Palestinian chebab [youth] [emphasis added].

    When asked “Who are the enemies of Islam?” “Jacques,” the Parisian-born fellow traveler, responds (220):

      You don’t see? There are the Jews who are trying to push the Palestinians into the sea. . . . There is America, which is the closest ally of Israel. It’s as if Israel were the 53rd state! They’re hand in glove. When one sees on the TV how the Israeli tanks fire on youths armed with slingshots or Molotov cocktails and no one moves a finger. One asks oneself whether there is any justice in the world [emphasis added]?

    The implication of Jacques’ remarks is clear: something should be done. And pressed by Khosrokhavar on the matter, he explains: “There are days when I am ready to enlist in the struggle against the Americans and the Israelis” — before adding: “and then I calm down and I think of my life and my future” (224).

    The source of the inmates’ convictions about the injustices of which they accuse France is experience. What, then, is the source of their convictions about the injustice they believe Palestinian Arabs suffer at the hands of Israel and its presumptive American accomplice? “The TV.

    It is important to recall in this connection that the first language of most of the inmates interviewed is French. Some, like Jacques, do not speak Arabic or have at most only a very limited knowledge of it. “The tv” to which they allude for the most part is undoubtedly French television. In France, where the cable and satellite television markets remain relatively limited (and were even more so when the interviews were conducted) and where just two channels split the bulk of the network television audience for news programming, the“the tv,” generically designated in this way, typically means either tf1 (the only privately owned network to offer substantial news programming) or leading public broadcaster, France 2.

    I noted the same effect in an essay I wrote in 2004:

      Secondly French Muslims get hatred from an “objective” “independent” source: the French media feed them a steady diet of horrifying images of the Palestinians, humiliated and murdered by the imperialist Israelis whose occupation is the cause of their despair and rage. This second image, brought to them not by their own preachers of hatred, but by French TV, corroborates everything they have learned from their Imams. As one Tunisian cab driver told me: “I wasn’t anti-Semitic until I saw what the Jews are doing to the Palestinians.” And when I asked him if these were images on Arabic satellite news, he responded, “No, French TV. French news.”

    I have elaborated on this phenomenon in my essay on the ways that the image of Muhammad al Durah, constantly shown on European TV as a “get-out-of-holocaust-guilt-free-card” actually was a seen by Muslims in Europe as a call to Jihad.

    It is, in effect, by way of the false immediacy of images of the Middle East conflict on the nightly news that the hatred the Islamists feel for France gets transferred to Israel. In the images of the Palestinian chebab doing battle with their homespun weaponry against the massively superior force of the Israeli Army, the French candidates for jihad see their own sense of victimhood reflected back to them in heroic guise. The Palestinian gunmen with their less wholesome Kalashnikovs and m16s remain outside the frame. So too, needless to say — since, in any case, it is not accessible in images — does all the background and context that could render Israeli military actions in the West Bank or Gaza comprehensible and/or dissipate the aura of absolute victimhood in which Palestinian Arabs are almost invariably bathed in the French media.

    In order to appreciate just how deceptive the sense of immediacy relayed by these images can be, one need only consider the role played by France 2 in the creation of what has become the iconic representation of Palestinian victimhood: the image of 12-year-old Mohammad Al-Dura pinned against a wall and cowering behind his father’s body while allegedly caught in fire from an Israeli army post at Netzarim Junction in the Gaza strip. On September 30, 2000, at the very outset of the Second Intifada, France 2 broadcast footage of the seeming ordeal of Mohammad and his father, ending, after a mysterious cut, with the boy apparently lying dead on the ground. It was France 2 correspondent Charles Enderlin who identified the supposedly fatal fire as coming from the Israeli Army post. Indeed, Enderlin described the boy and his father as the “targets” of Israeli fire, thus seeming to imply that the killing of the boy was intentional. He would later explain the mysterious cut in the footage by claiming that the scene of the boy’s death throes was too heartrending to broadcast.

    From the start, simple considerations of geometry contradicted France 2’s attribution of the gunfire to the Israeli Army. Some investigators went so far as to suggest that the entire episode had been staged. More recently, new evidence has come to light that clearly supports such allegations. Following years of stonewalling, in October 2004 France 2 agreed to allow three well-known French journalists — Luc Rosenzweig, Denis Jeambar, and Daniel Leconte — to view the unedited rushes filmed by the France 2 cameraman at Netzarim Junction. All three concur that the 27-minute reel consists almost entirely of obvious “play-acting” [mise-en-scene]. Jeambar and Leconte have politely allowed that the roughly three minutes depicting the Al-Dura episode “might,” nonetheless, be authentic. All three journalists likewise concur that, contrary to the claims of Charles Enderlin, the rushes contain no footage of Mohammad Al-Dura’s death throes. Confronted by the revelations of his colleagues, Enderlin has averred that even if his original report should turn out to have been false, “for me, the image corresponded to the reality of the situation not only in Gaza but also in the West Bank.”14

    The effects of such would-be representative and symbolically charged images of the Middle East conflict upon French and, more generally, European public opinion are well enough known. But the Khosrokhavar interviews clearly reveal the incitement they represent — incitement, namely, to jihad — for those in Europe or, for that matter, around the world who are psychologically predisposed to identify most intimately with Palestinian grievances. “When I see that,” Moussa says, “I want to fight against them.” In this connection too, Ousman’s testimonial is perhaps the most revealing, for by comparison to the other inmates Ousman appears to be well-informed about Israel and the history of the Middle East conflict. It is worth underscoring — as his above-cited allusion to the German SS and the Jews makes clear — that he acknowledges the persecution to which European Jews were subjected under the Third Reich. Perhaps on account of this recognition, or perhaps by virtue of simple political realism, Ousman — in what amounts to a stunning admission for a self-professed Islamist — is prepared to accept the existence of Israel. Nonetheless, he says his rational assessment of the need to accept Israel is sometimes submerged in an irrational urge to see it “destroyed” (142):

      I know that Israel is there and is there to stay. . . . Some days, I say to myself: that is just the way it is and there is no use banging one’s head against the wall. But other days, when I hear the news about the death of young Palestinians killed by Israeli bombs or missiles, when I see the Israeli tanks on the tv that fire on youngsters who do not have one-one hundredth of their weaponry, then I say that it’s a calamity for Muslims and that it [Israel] has to be destroyed.

    “I watch the tv every day,” he notes, “and it hurts me a lot. . . . One watches it all on the tv when they mistreat the young Palestinians and no one does anything” (150–51).

    In response to the very next question — about 9/11 — Ousman warns that one has to treat “with caution” the information provided in the media. But this warning evidently does not apply to French coverage of the Middle East conflict. The images of supposed Israeli mistreatment of Palestinians are taken by Ousman and his fellow inmates as bearing a constant meaning that is fully independent of the specific context of the events being depicted. Revealingly, Ousman associates these images with, as he puts it, “all injustice”: “the sexual exploitation of children, the Americans who exploit Asia with their dollars, a girl who is prevented from wearing the veil” (151). “All of that,” he concludes, “drives me wild with rage” (152).

    Palestinian suffering is thus elevated to a sort of summum of all unjust suffering, by which it follows that to redeem Palestinian suffering would be to redeem the injustice of the world. The religious structure of such thinking is obvious. The images are indeed “iconic” in more than just a metaphorical sense. But it is equally obvious that there is nothing specifically Islamic about such religious thinking and that it is also in evidence in the apotheosis of the Palestinian cause by a large part of the European and global left.

    As Osama bin Laden put it:

    The deliberate killing of children in Palestine today is the ugliest, most oppressive, and hostile act, and something that threatens all of humanity. History knows that one who kills children, even if rarely, is a follower of Pharaoh… Slaughtering children was something for which the head of oppression and unbelief, and hostility, Pharaoh was famous; yet the sons of Israel have done the same thing to our sons in Palestine. The whole world has witnessed Israeli soldiers killing Muhammad al Durreh and many others like him…

    So in fact it is as if Israel — and those backing it in America — have killed all the children in the world. What will stop Israel killing our sons tomorrow, in Tabuk, al Jauf and other areas? What would the rulers do if Israel hroadened its territory according to what they allege is written in their false, oppressive, unjust books, which say “our borders extend as far as Medina”? What will rulers do except submit to this American Zionist lobby?

    Rational people must wake up or what befell Muhammad al-Durreh and his brothers will happen tomorrow to their sons and women. The is no strength or power except in God…

    The events of the 22nd of Jamada al Thani or Aylul (9-11) are merely a response to the continuous injustice inflicted upon our sons in Palestine, Iraq,…

    “Nineteen students,” statement by Osama bin Laden, released by al Jazeera TV on December 26, 2001, printed in: Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden, ed. Bruce Lawrence (Verso, London, 2005), pp. 147-48.

    I think one can safely argue that the anti-Zionist, anti-American media, that so delights in images of Israeli and American misdeeds contributes significantly to the impulse that produces Jihad. Given that that media-produced skew is in part due to a rhetorical drive to push Israeli and American leaders towards a peaceful, negotiated solution, we find a remarkable and potentially deadly irony: our peace-minded media unleash the dogs of war. What better illustration of the Moebius Strip of Cognitive Egocentrism.

    Third Al Durah Trial

    The plot thickens. After the unexpectedly positive outcome of the Lurcat trial — granted, it was on a technicality — the situation in court realigns.

    The case: Enderlin and France2 against a distinguished 62 year-old physician who began a website called Desinfos.com in September 2000 that represents along with Honest Reporting the almost immediate response of some observers to the systematically skewed portrayal of events of the “Second Intifada” by the MSM.

    The charges: In 2002, at the time of the (now) famous demonstration outside the offices of France2 (itself a response to France2′s refusal to show Esther Schapira’s movie), Désinfo.com published a piece by Stephane Juffa that argued against the demonstration awarding of the “Prix de désinformation” to Enderlin. Instead he recommended that people ask France2 politely to show the data they have — in particular, Talal abu Rachme’s rushes. In so doing he wrote the following passages to which France2 and Enderlin objected. The defendant’s lawyer A. Weill Raynal has sent me the following texts that France2 and Enderlin made the basis of their suit [MENA -- Metula News Agency -- is the subject of the following phrases] :

    « [MENA]… is of the opinion that, as we think, Charles Enderlin commited grave professional errors in the Al Dura Affair, that the whole thing has to be explained publicly, so that people can understand precisely what happened. The important aspect is not to punish anybody, as necessary as it might be; it is to tell the truth, the whole truth, so that it gets known. As known as the lies were known. At least so. »

    « [MENA] affirms that grave suspicions of disinformation exist where this affair is concerned, and of the role of the personnel of France2 in the diffusion of elements and affirmations that seem highly contestable. That these elements are of a such a nature that they unduly tarnish the image of one of the belligerents and favor, as a result, popular feelings of of ethnic and racial hatred towards Israelis. »

    « [MENA] considers that the repeated refusals of France2 to respond to requests as so many brutal and unacceptable obstructions in the search for and demonstration of the truth.

    For having made these opinions available to French readers at a French-based website, the webmaster of Desinfo.com was being accused of having struck at the honor and the consideration of Charles Enderlin.

    The Place: Palais de Justice, Paris, Thursday afternoon from 14-19h (2-7PM).

    The highlights:

    Peters vs. Steyn: What Will Waking Up Look Like?

    John Hinderaker at Powerline has posted the following discussion of two articles, one by Ralph Peters on the Europeans ethnically cleansing their Muslims and one by Mark Steyn, on the demographic time-bomb that threatens Europe. At the end there’s a response from Mark Steyn to Peters. My interlinear comments in italic; longer comments at the end.

    They Report, You Decide (with update from Mark Steyn)

    Most of our readers are aware of Mark Steyn’s “Demography is Destiny” theme, which he has elaborated in much of his recent writing. Steyn thinks that low birth rates among Europeans, in particular, will inevitably lead to their replacement on the European continent by Muslims who are reproducing at a far faster rate. Steyn pursues the theme in today’s article in the Chicago Sun-Times, Quartet of Ladies Shows Where We’re Headed. He contrasts Fatma An-Najar, the 64-year-old Palestinian grandmother who became a suicide bomber, with Katharine Jefferts Schori, the new Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church:

      An-Najar gave birth to her first child at the age of 12. She had eight others. She had 41 grandchildren. Keep that family tree in mind. By contrast, in Spain, a 64-year old woman will have maybe one grandchild. That’s four grandparents, one grandchild: a family tree with no branches.

    Meanwhile, what of the Episcopalians?

      Bishop Kate gave an interview to the New York Times revealing what passes for orthodoxy in this most flexible of faiths. She was asked a simple enough question: “How many members of the Episcopal Church are there?”
      “About 2.2 million,” replied the presiding bishop. “It used to be larger percentage-wise, but Episcopalians tend to be better educated and tend to reproduce at lower rates than other denominations.”

      This was a bit of a jaw-dropper even for a New York Times hackette, so, with vague memories of God saying something about going forth and multiplying floating around the back of her head, a bewildered Deborah Solomon said: “Episcopalians aren’t interested in replenishing their ranks by having children?”

      “No,” agreed Bishop Kate. “It’s probably the opposite. We encourage people to pay attention to the stewardship of the earth and not use more than their portion.”

    Is that a death wish, or what? As Steyn points out, “Here’s the question for Bishop Kate: If Fatma An-Najar has 41 grandchildren and a responsible ‘better educated’ Episcopalian has one or two, into whose hands are we delivering ‘the stewardship of the earth’? If your crowd isn’t around in any numbers, how much influence can they have in shaping the future?”

    This question underlines the extraordinary combination of supreme self-confidence (bordering on arrogance) of “moral Europe” on the one hand, with, just below the surface, a profound lack of confidence that makes the same people who want to take care of the earth unwilling to defend it.

    Steyn’s logic is persuasive to me, but Ralph Peters isn’t buying it. He thinks that, far from taking over Europe, that continent’s Muslims “will be lucky just to be deported:”

      Have the Europeans become too soft for that sort of thing? Has narcotic socialism destroyed their ability to hate? Is their atheism a prelude to total surrender to faith-intoxicated Muslim jihadis?

      The answer to all of the above questions is a booming “No!” The Europeans have enjoyed a comfy ride for the last 60 years – but the very fact that they don’t want it to stop increases their rage and sense of being besieged by Muslim minorities they’ve long refused to assimilate (and which no longer want to assimilate).

      Far from enjoying the prospect of taking over Europe by having babies, Europe’s Muslims are living on borrowed time. When a third of French voters have demonstrated their willingness to vote for Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front – a party that makes the Ku Klux Klan seem like Human Rights Watch – all predictions of Europe going gently into that good night are surreal.

      I have no difficulty imagining a scenario in which U.S. Navy ships are at anchor and U.S. Marines have gone ashore at Brest, Bremerhaven or Bari to guarantee the safe evacuation of Europe’s Muslims. After all, we were the only ones to do anything about the slaughter of Muslims in the Balkans.

    It’s true that the Europeans have historically been willing to act much more harshly that Americans when they have felt threatened. But I wouldn’t start sending the Marines to Brest just yet.

    As Steyn will point out below, Peters is above all a polemicist who throws out assertions with perhaps excessive ease. He does have one good phrase:

      Muslim minorities they’ve long refused to assimilate (and which no longer want to assimilate).

    Nice formula that gets at both sides’ contribution to the problem (it’s so much fun being even-handed), and the element of lost opportunity (“no longer want…”). But it’s not conclusive in that howevermuch they may despise (not “hate” — that’s too strong an emotion for the Europeans, especially where a victim minority is concerned), that doesn’t mean they are ready to act. The characterization of Le Pen’s group as more ferocious than the KKK strikes me as silly. I don’t know of one lynch of Arabs by Le Pennistes, much less a systematic pattern of such aggression. More like wishful thinking on Peters’ part. Indeed, much of the essay seems like wishful thinking, which bespeaks what an abysmal situation we’ve gotten ourselves into, when we who want to see civil society survive, start hoping the fascists come back.