Monthly Archives: August 2007

Walt-Mearsheimer as Sympton: Remnick’s Comments in The New Yorker

An excellent short piece on the short-comings of Walt-Mearsheimer. (Hat tip: Ellen Horowitz)

I have noted its short-comings briefly. But it shows that even if you’re part of the PCP paradigm, you are not irretrievably committed to folly as are W-M.

The Lobby
by David Remnick September 3, 2007

Last year, two distinguished political scientists, John J. Mearsheimer, of the University o Chicago, and Stephen M. Walt, of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, at Harvard, published a thirty-four-thousand-word article online entitled “The Israel Lobb and U.S. Foreign Policy,” a shorter version of which appeared in The London Review of Books. Israel, they wrote, has become a “strategic liability” for the United States but retains its strong support because of a wealthy, well-organized, and bewitching lobby that has a “stranglehold” on Congress and American élites. Moreover, Israel and its lobby bear outsized responsibility for persuading the Bush Administration to invade Iraq and, perhaps one day soon, to attack the nuclear facilities of Iran. Farrar, Straus & Giroux will publish a book-length version of Mearsheimer and Walt’s arguments on September 4th.

Mearsheimer and Walt are “realists.” In their view, diplomatic decisions should be made on the basis of national interest. They argue that in the post-Cold War era, in the absence of a superpower struggle in the Middle East, the United States no longer has any need for an indulgent patronage of the state of Israel. Three billion dollars in annual foreign aid, the easy sale of advanced weaponry, thirty-four vetoes of U.N. Security Council resolutions critical of Israel since 1982—such support, Mearsheimer and Walt maintain, is not in the national interest. “There is a strong moral case for supporting Israel’s existence,” they write, but they deny that Israel is of critical strategic value to the United States. The disappearance of Israel, in their view, would jeopardize neither America’s geopolitical interests nor its core values. Such is their “realism.”

The authors observe that discussion about Israel in the United States is often circumscribed, and that the ultimate price for criticizing Israel is to be branded an anti-Semite. They set out to write “The Israel Lobby,” they have said, to break taboos and stimulate discussion. They anticipated some ugly attacks, and were not disappointed. The Washington Post published a piece by the Johns Hopkins professor Eliot Cohen under the headline “Yes, It’s Anti-Semitic.” The Times reported earlier this month that several organizations, including a Jewish community center, have decided to withdraw speaking invitations to Mearsheimer and Walt, in violation of good sense and the spirit of open discussion.

I thought the offers were withdrawn because W-M refused to debate and discuss openly with opponents.

Mearsheimer and Walt are not anti-Semites or racists. They are serious scholars, and there is no reason to doubt their sincerity.

They may have been serious scholars, but one of the reasons they don’t want to defend their book in front of critics is precisely because the scholarship is so shoddy.

They are right to describe the moral violation in Israel’s occupation of Palestinian lands. (In this, most Israelis and most American Jews agree with them.)

Why are they focussing on Israel’s “moral” violations if they’re “realists.” Because the “moral” Arabs whom they’d have us court by dropping our embarrassing ally, Israel, are “morally” outraged? What kind of realism is this?

They were also right about Iraq.

No they’re not. We went into Iraq on Saudi bidding, not Israeli.

The strategic questions they raise now, particularly about Israel’s privileged relationship with the United States, are worth debating –– just as it is worth debating whether it is a good idea to be selling arms to Saudi Arabia. But their announced objectives have been badly undermined by the contours of their argument — a prosecutor’s brief that depicts Israel as a singularly pernicious force in world affairs. Mearsheimer and Walt have not entirely forgotten their professional duties, and they periodically signal their awareness of certain complexities. But their conclusions are unmistakable: Israel and its lobbyists bear a great deal of blame for the loss of American direction, treasure, and even blood.

In Mearsheimer and Walt’s cartography, the Israel lobby is not limited to AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. It is a loose yet well-oiled coalition of Jewish-American organizations, “watchdog” groups, think tanks, Christian evangelicals, sympathetic journalists, and neocon academics. This is not a cabal but a world in which Abraham Foxman gives the signal, Pat Robertson describes his apocalyptic rapture, Charles Krauthammer pumps out a column, Bernard Lewis delivers a lecture—and the President of the United States invades another country. Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Exxon-Mobil barely exist.

Where many accounts identify Osama bin Laden’s primary grievances with American support of “infidel” authoritarian regimes in Islamic lands, Mearsheimer and Walt align his primary concerns with theirs: America’s unwillingness to push Israel to end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. (It doesn’t matter that Israel and the Palestinians were in peace negotiations in 1993, the year of the first attack on the World Trade Center, or that during the Camp David negotiations in 2000 bin Laden’s pilots were training in Florida.) Mearsheimer and Walt give you the sense that, if the Israelis and the Palestinians come to terms, bin Laden will return to the family construction business.

This flaw in their logic/worldview is specifically linked to their inability to see the role of Saudi Arabia’s concerns about Iraq which lled to both Gulf Wars, the first of which, with its US troops in Saudi Arabia, first drove Osama off the Jihadi deepend.

It’s a narrative that recounts every lurid report of Israeli cruelty as indisputable fact but leaves out the rise of Fatah and Palestinian terrorism before 1967; the Munich Olympics; Black September; myriad cases of suicide bombings; and other spectaculars. The narrative rightly points out the destructiveness of the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories and America’s reluctance to do much to curtail them, but there is scant mention of Palestinian violence or diplomatic bungling, only a recitation of the claim that, in 2000, Israel offered “a disarmed set of Bantustans under de-facto Israeli control.” (Strange that, at the time, the Saudi Prince Bandar told Yasir Arafat, “If we lose this opportunity, it is not going to be a tragedy. This is going to be a crime.”) Nor do they dwell for long on instances when the all-powerful Israel lobby failed to sway the White House, as when George H. W. Bush dragged Yitzhak Shamir to the Madrid peace conference.

Lobbying is inscribed in the American system of power and influence. Big Pharma, the A.A.R.P., the N.R.A., the N.A.A.C.P., farming interests, the American Petroleum Institute, and hundreds of others shuttle between K Street and Capitol Hill. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s national-security adviser, recently praised Mearsheimer and Walt in the pages of Foreign Policy for the service of “initiating a much-needed public debate,” but he went on to provide a tone and a perspective that are largely missing from their arguments. “The participation of ethnic or foreign-supported lobbies in the American policy process is nothing new,” he observes. “In my public life, I have dealt with a number of them. I would rank the Israeli-American, Cuban-American, and Armenian-American lobbies as the most effective in their assertiveness. The Greek- and Taiwanese-American lobbies also rank highly in my book. The Polish-American lobby was at one time influential (Franklin Roosevelt complained about it to Joseph Stalin), and I daresay that before long we will be hearing a lot from the Mexican-, Hindu-, and Chinese-American lobbies as well.”

Taming the influence of lobbies, if that is what Mearsheimer and Walt desire, is a matter of reforming the lobbying and campaign-finance laws. But that is clearly not the source of the hysteria surrounding their arguments. “The Israel Lobby” is a phenomenon of its moment. The duplicitous and manipulative arguments for invading Iraq put forward by the Bush Administration, the general inability of the press to upend those duplicities, the triumphalist illusions, the miserable performance of the military strategists, the arrogance of the Pentagon, the stifling of dissent within the military and the government, the moral disaster of Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo, the rise of an intractable civil war, and now an incapacity to deal with the singular winner of the war, Iran — all of this has left Americans furious and demanding explanations. Mearsheimer and Walt provide one: the Israel lobby. In this respect, their account is not so much a diagnosis of our polarized era as a symptom of it.

I believe it’s called scape-goating.

An Anti-Zionist is Someone Who Takes Seriously a Tenth of What Hyper-Self-Critical Israelis Say About Themselves

In the previous post, I broached a major topic – the epistemological crisis provoked by the skew of European anti-Zionism and anti-Americanism and their complementary silence in criticizing Islamism because of the unacknowledged intimidation factor that is compounded with a combination of hypocrisy and resentment (the “moral” assault on Israel and the USA). So the reader of the MSM would have virtually no idea (unless he or she paid close attention to the occasional honest remarks and unintimidated analysis that slip through the net), that they were getting a systematically skewed view of reality.

Now I’d like to add to the mix that skews our ability to gauge reality, a problem from the opposite direction — the pathological tendency of Jews (both Israeli and diaspora) to self-criticize. For example, in the discussion of the blood-libel Goya cartoon of Ariel Sharon, those who wished to dismiss the cry of outrage coming from the Jewish community had plenty of Jews to quote in their favor. The MP I cited in my posting who accused the Jews who objected to the cartoon as making “entirely spurious” case, and calling them a “lynch mob” was none other than a fellow Jew, the vehemently anti-Zionist Gerald Kaufman. And he, in turn, had no problem quoting another Jew, the Israeli Amos Oz, to make the case further:

Our sufferings have granted us immunity papers, as it were, a moral carte blanche. After what all those dirty goyim non-Jews have done to us, none of them is entitled to preach morality to us. We, on the other hand, have carte blanche, because we were victims and have suffered so much. Once a victim, always a victim, and victimhood entitles its owners to a moral exemption.

I won’t even go into the problems with this statement, which confuses the carte blanche to demonize the Israelis that the Palestinians want for being victims of their own elites with the exceptional self-criticism that characterizes many Israelis, including people like Amos Oz. What I will point out is the vehemently self-deprecatory tone of the passage, the profound impatience that Oz expresses with his fellow Jews, and the field day to be had by those who wish to dismiss as a Jewish refusal to do any self-criticism, any Jewish concern for runaway anti-Semitic vitriol, no matter how virulent and morally revolting.

I have dealt with the problem of hyper-Jewish self-criticism repeatedly in the past, including issues concerning the Alvin Rosenfeld Controversy. Among other things, I emphasized the role of a kind of “prophetic” criticism that uses high rhetorical excess to “whip” the Jews/Israelis into the right path. When combined with a desire to “please” fellow, non-Jewish progressives by showing how “non-tribal” one is, this produces a lethal combination, documented by Rosenfeld, that makes some Jews willing to confess to anything (racism, apartheid, Nazism, the illegitimacy of the State). They do this not only to urge their fellow Jews to mend their ways, but also to pursue a kind of “therapeutic” dialogue where, if they are sufficiently magnanimous in accepting blame, then maybe their enemies, say, the Palestinians, might also respond by being a bit more self-critical.

Today I’d like to bring into the discussion a wonderful comment I ran into while preparing the introduction to a volume of essays on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

    An anti-Semite is someone who takes seriously a tenth of the jokes that Jews tell about themselves.

In this framework, I’d amend that slightly:

    An anti-Zionist is someone who takes seriously a tenth of the “sins” to which Israelis (and Jews) – in their prophetic enthusiasm – confess.

And the problem for outsiders is that, if they don’t understand how eagerly Jews/Israelis self-criticize, how willing they are to engage in prophetic inflation and therapeutic dialogue, they might mistake what Jews/Israelis say about their own sins for a reliable insight into what actually has happened, as a reasonably accurate description of the “reality” they claim to describe. After, all, who admits to something they didn’t do?

The following article criticizes a classic hyper-self-critical Israeli — Ilan Pappé — for his latest. As you read the critique, think about the ways in which Pappé has turned the story inside out in order to be able to confess. Shades of Ariel Toaff. It also illustrates the tendency of the hyper-self-critical Jews to operate in a solipsistic vacuum of “four dimensional Jews and two dimensional gentiles” who are somehow the passive objects of Jewish aggressions. The very self-obsessed focus, the moral narcissism, raises the specter that behind these egregious acts of self-flagellation lies a more profound sense of omnipotence — what I call “masochistic omnipotence syndrome.”

Guest Columnist: Ethnic cleansing in Palestine?

Seth Frantzman, THE JERUSALEM POST Aug. 16, 2007
As negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority aimed at creating a Palestinian state willing to live side-by-side with Israel in peace resume, one of the major sticking points continues to be the Arab refugee issue. Bitter arguments among politicians and scholars continue to surround the creation of the refugee problem during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948.

It has become fashionable in recent decades to frame the 1948 war as one in which the Arabs were victims of Zionist aggression. Anti-Zionist scholars such as Noam Chomsky, Rashid Khalidi and Ilan Pappe have presented the war as if the only important events were Deir Yassin and the flight or expulsion of Arabs from Haifa, Acre, Tiberias, west Jerusalem, Jaffa and numerous villages.

IN THIS context, Ilan Pappe’s work deserves special attention. He was born to a German Jewish family in Haifa in 1954. The former senior lecturer in the University of Haifa’s Department of Political Science recently announced he was moving to the UK because it had become “increasingly difficult to live in Israel” with his “unwelcome views and convictions.”

These views are those of the “new historians” – leftist scholars who in the 1980s began to reinterpret Israeli and Palestinian history. He is the author of six works on the history of the Israeli-Arab conflict and the Middle East. In his recently released book The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Pappe claims that Israel prepared a special plan for the ethnic cleansing of Palestine’s Arab population known as Plan D for dalet. Pappe’s “evidence” is derived from his interpretations of files found in the Hagana and Israel state archives.

One of his most damning pieces of evidence is the village surveys carried out by the Hagana’s intelligence units. These surveys go into minute detail about many Arab villages, including the number of armed men, the mukhtar and any anti-Jewish activity in the village. Pappe lends further evidence to his thesis by showing that Jewish forces, whether Hagana, Irgun or Lehi, attacked Arab villages even before the declaration of the state on May 15, 1948.

But Pappe makes one egregious mistake. He never bothers to ask the same question of the Arabs he does of the Jews: What about their lists, their intelligence reports and their ethnic-cleansing plans? What were Arab intentions in the five months between the passage of the UN partition plan on November 29, 1947, and the birth of Israel?

THE ARCHIVES of The Palestine Post, now The Jerusalem Post and then the newspaper of record of Mandatory Palestine, provide some of the answers and tell a very different story from the one presented by Pappe.

Sixty-two Jews were murdered by Arabs in the first week after the UN partition plan was passed, and by May 15, 1948, a total of 1,256 Jews had been killed, most of them civilians. These deaths were caused by Arab militias, gangs, terrorists and army units which attacked every place of Jewish inhabitation in Palestine.

The attacks succeeded in placing Jerusalem under siege and eventually cutting off its water supply. All Jewish villages in the Negev were attacked, and Jews had to go about the country in convoys. In every major city where Jews and Arabs lived in mixed neighborhoods the Jewish areas came under attack. This was true in Haifa’s Hadar Hacarmel as well as Jerusalem’s Old City.

Massacres were not uncommon.

THIRTY-NINE Jews were killed by Arab rioters at Haifa’s oil refinery on December 30, 1947. On January 16, 1948, 35 Jews were killed trying to reach Gush Etzion. On February 22, 44 Jews were murdered in a bombing on Jerusalem’s Rehov Ben-Yehuda. And on February 29, 23 Jews were killed all across Palestine, eight of them at the Hayotzek iron foundry.

Thirty-five Jews were murdered during the Mount Scopus convoy massacre on April 13. And 127 Jews were massacred at Kfar Etzion on May 15, 1948, after 30 others had died defending the Etzion Bloc.

IN ARAB countries more than 100 Jews were also massacred and synagogues were burned in Aleppo and Aden, driving thousands of Jews from their homes.

Back in Palestine many small kibbutzim were subjected to attacks, including Gvulot, Ben-Shemen, Holon, Safed, Bat Yam and Kfar Yavetz – all in December. In January and February, it was the turn of Rishon Lezion, Yehiam, Mishmar Hayarden, Tirat Zvi, Sde Eliahu, Ein Hanatziv, Magdiel, Mitzpe Hagalil and Ma’anit.

In March and April these attacks culminated with an assault on Hartuv by 400 Arabs based in the village of Ishwa and an attack on Kfar Darom by members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Arab attackers also bombed The Palestine Post in February. In March, the Jewish Agency, the Solel Boneh building in Haifa and an Egged bus were also bombed.

SOME OF today’s scholars prefer to present every massacre of Jews as a “response” to some Jewish deed, and to portray as a “myth” the very idea that Israel struggled desperately for existence in 1948.

But it was no myth.

The fact is 1,256 Jews were killed in five months. Even before the first Arab villages were captured in April, 924 Jews had already been killed. Ilan Pappe should have pondered what might have been if those Jews had not been slaughtered.

What if attacks and riots had not been the first Arab reaction to the partition plan?

Plan Dalet was a plan, it was one of many plans. The lists compiled by the Hagana had been cobbled together for a decade before 1948, but they were not blueprints – merely intelligence assessments. The British also kept lists of everything; they knew about weapons in various kibbutzim, about the Hagana and illegal Jewish immigration to Palestine. Those lists weren’t blueprints for ethnic cleansing anymore than were the Hagana files on Arab villages.

When a Jewish area was overrun – and some were – the homes were looted or destroyed and any survivors were killed, as at Kfar Etzion (only three of the defenders survived the massacre).

The potential for the ethnic cleansing of Jewish Palestine was never realized because of the discipline, determination and sheer luck of the Yishuv.

If the Arabs had not carried out across the board attacks throughout the Yishuv between 1947 and 1948, perhaps the nature of the subsequent Jewish victory would have been different. As it was, the ceaseless attacks against all isolated Jewish settlements only gave Zionist commanders every reason to see neighboring Arab villages as threatening and to act accordingly.

Scholarship – including that of the “new historians” – on the 1948 war will remain incomplete until methodical studies are carried out about widespread and often well-planned Arab assaults on the Yishuv.

The writer is in the doctoral program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His master’s thesis was on the 1948 war.

In other words, Pappé, like Avi Shlaim, lives in a world where Israelis act in a vacuum — nothing violent their enemies do counts in explaining Israeli actions, any violent Israeli act is measured in the most negative fashion against an absolute yardstick. And anything short of perfection creates such disappointment that they must shout their moral indignation from the highest hilltops. As for outsiders consuming such convoluted products of the Jewish soul — caveat lector. Contents are dangerous to anyone who ingests them with anything less than a barrel of salt. Alas, Europeans and Leftists seem so eager to view Israel negatively, that these twisted cries of a pathological soul become yardsticks of reality.

UPDATETo illustrate just how Pappé’s work can have an impact on demopaths and their dupes, Arnaud de Borchgrave covers the same issue as Frantzman, without any (apparent) independent knowledge (hattip JW). After giving an umediated version of Pappé, he then consults not an Israeli on how accurate, but, taking the revisionism as accurate, goes to an Arab for his opinion:

Commenting on Pappe’s historical research, Rami Khouri, director of the Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut and editor at large of the Beirut Daily Star, writes, “Many Israelis will challenge Pappe’s account. Such a process should ideally spark an honest, comprehensive analysis that could lead us to an accurate narrative of what happened in 1947-48 — accurate for both sides, if it is to have meaning for either side.”

This is actually a good direction if, what Khouri means, is that the Arabs also start an investigation into their myths. For example:

  • the myth that the Naqba originally meant what Israel did to the Palestinians rather than what the Arab leaders whom they blamed from bringing on this catastrophe with their vain and foolish assumption that they would wipe out the nascent state and massacre its population, and then failed to do what they promised.
  • the myth that they were the innocent victims rather than the frustrated aggressors who would have, had they been able to, masscred as many Jews as possible
  • the myth that the Israelis are responsible for the misery of the Palestinian refugees, rather than the Arab leadership who compounded their catastrophic mistake in attacking Israel with an even more catastrophic mistake of imprisoning the refugees in camps so that they could, someday, repair the error by doing what they set out to do in the beginning
  • the myth that Israel is the vicious entity in the area and they just want “justice”
  • the myth that their leaders want a Palestinian state, rather than the elimination of Israel
  • If we have that, then we can work towards a mutually meaningful narrative of 1947-8. But if it’s just Israeli myth-busting, accompanied by Arab myth affirming, we have a recipe for another Naqba.

    An Israeli official textbook for Palestinian third-graders, says Fares, “that fleetingly acknowledges the Palestinian trauma of exile and occupation in 1948 is an intriguing sign of something that remains largely unclear.” The “something” is worth exploring and reciprocating, “if it indicates a capacity to move toward the elusive shared, accurate, truthful account of Israeli and Palestinian history that must anchor any progress toward a negotiated peace.”

    The key word here is “reciprocating. But where is the evidence of that reciprocation? Where in Palestinian or Arab textbooks do we even have the acknowledgment that Israelis are human beings, rather than subhuman demons who deserve to be wiped out?

    The consensus in Israel today, says Pappe, is for a state comprising 90 percent of Palestine “surrounded by electric fences and visible and invisible walls” with Palestinians given only worthless cantonized scrub lands of little value to the Jewish state. In 2006, Pappe sees that 1.4 million Palestinians live in Israel on 2 percent of the land allotted to them plus another 1 percent for agricultural use with 6 million Jews on most of the rest. “Another 3.9 million live concentrated in Israel’s unwanted portions of the West Bank and concentrated in Gaza that has three times the population density of Manhattan,” notes Pappe. Back from the Middle East last week, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said prospects are good for a two-state solution. A “viable and contiguous” Palestinian state, pledged by the Bush administration, remains a pipe dream.

    It’s too tedious to go over all this nonsense. Pappé’s figures are all gimmicky, as well as his characterization of both what the Israeli consensus is, and what the Palestinians get. The reason why a Palestinian state “remains a pipe dream” is that it’s not the Palestinian leaders’ dream, but the liberal West’s dream.

    Who’s Going to Hit Back? Why It’s Easier to Protest Bush’s Involvment in 9-11 than the Imposition of Sharia in Europe

    Brussels Journal has a posting on how Belgian authorities have given permission for a march sponsored by United for Truth protesting Bush’s involvement in 9-11, but not for one against the imposition of Sharia in Europe. The reasoning:

    Unlike the anti-Sharia demonstration, planned to be held next September 11 in Brussels, the “9/9 United for Truth” demonstration of September 9 has been authorized by the Brussels authorities. Last week the Brussels mayor, Freddy Thielemans, banned the anti-Sharia demonstration because he fears it will upset the Muslim inhabitants of Brussels.

    It is a favorite trope of the “progressives” to claim that they are courageous because they “speak truth to power,” or as a French journalist said to me in 2003 while France was protesting the American threat to invade Iraq, “Courage is resisting the powerful, and right now, America is the most powerful.” This goes to the heart of our current dilemma. The most powerful today – the US in the world, Israel in the Middle East – are also the most tolerant of criticism. So any American can say Bush was involved in 9-11 — including congressmen — and at worst, suffer criticism from others. Similarly, a journalist can compare Israel to the Nazis or South African apartheid and still operate freely in Israel. But try criticizing Muslims and you get real problems.

    The mayor’s response is reminiscent of the British journalist’s association that gave their annual prize to a disgusting political cartoon showing Ariel Sharon in a Goya-like pose devouring (not his own children as the Goya original depicted) but Palestinian children. Unvarnished blood libel (Sharon’s sure doing it on purpose). When confronted by Martin Himel in the movie: Jenin: Massacring the Truth, with why Arafat wasn’t also in the cartoon, the Peter Benson, head of the British editorial cartoonists’ society which honoured the Independent‘s Sharon-eating-babies cartoon responded:

    Himel: My question to you is, why, in all these paintings [sic] don’t we see Sharon and Arafat eating babies?

    Benson: Maybe Jews don’t issue fatwas.

    Himel: What do you mean by that?

    Benson: Well, if you upset an Islamic or Muslim group, um, as you know, fatwas can be issued by Ayatollahs and such, like, and maybe it’s at the back of each cartoonist’s mind, that they could be in trouble if they do so.

    Himel: If they do what?

    Benson: If they depict, uh, say, an Arab leader in the same manner.

    Himel: Then they could suffer?

    Benson: Then they could suffer death, couldn’t they? Which is rather different.

    Benson is grinning throughout this section of the interview.

    And of course, he is right. When the Jews and Israelis objected vehemently to this blood libel, the response was contemptuous dismissal. Wrote one journalist:

    “the accusation of anti-Semitism is also a favourite weapon of those who wish to suppress debate on the measures Israel takes in the occupied territories.”

    Wrote a member of Parliament:

    The labelling as anti-Semitic of Dave Brown’s cartoon, which depicted the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as a naked, child-eating ogre, was entirely spurious – but entirely predictable. Nor is it surprising that the lynch-mob was led by the Israeli embassy in London, once a respected diplomatic mission, but now the instrument of Israel’s worst- ever Foreign Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.

    Then, when he received the award for the best political cartoon of the year, Brown “thanked the Israeli embassy in Britain for increasing the cartoon’s publicity by its angry reaction.” So apparently the lynch mob didn’t really lynch… illustrating the weak hold that some British analysts have over the difference between metaphor and carnal reality… “it’s not meant to be taken literally, it’s meant to refer allegorically to everybody in the Zionist business.”

    But when it comes to real violence, these people have no problem distinguishing metaphorical from real lynch mobs. The full measure of the cowardice and hypocrisy of this affair came out two year’s later with the publication of the Muhammad cartoons and the really violent response of Muslims. The selfsame Independent which showed it could stand up to the Jewish mafia, all of a sudden found that politeness and concern for hurt feelings of Muslims trumped independence.

    …while we `defend Jyllands-Posten’s right to publish, we also question its editorial judgement. It is not a decision we intend to emulate…There is no merit in causing gratuitous offence, as these cartoons undoubtedly do. We believe it is possible to demonstrate our commitment to the principle of free speech in more sensible ways. It is interesting that the entire mainstream British press feels the same way. No national newspaper has printed the cartoons.

    In other words, we’re all cowards and our solidarity shows we’re right. As Taguieff put it in describing European anti-Zionism in the 21st century: “When all the fish are swimming in the same direction, it’s because they’re dead.”

    Which brings us back to Brussels and the problem of the 21st century. Part of the reason that all the fish are lined up in the same direction in Europe has much more to do with intimidation and appeasement of genuinely violent and demonizing Islamists and genuinely tolerant and self-criticial Israelis/Jews/Americans, than it does with any of the intellectual merits bandied about. And until we begin to understand the impact of this pervasive intimidation, we will have enormous difficulty reality testing.

    It’s not talking back to civil power that counts so much as speaking truth about ruthless exercise of power. When the same people who claim to speak truth to power, then turn around and wax sychophantic about ruthless killers with genocidal programs, we’re all in trouble except the thugs.

    This doesn’t mean you can’t criticize the USA and Israel. Almost everybody does. It just means that you don’t engage in grotesque criticism and think yourself brave because you get yelled at, but then fall silent about real dangers, like people who’s idea of a good fatwa (a religious ruling on any issue), is a death sentence to people who have offended Islam.

    Professors Who Don’t Like Negative Feedback

    In a follow-up to my last post about Walt and Mearsheimer’s unhappiness about having to defend their work, I post the following reflections by Winfield Myers, director of Campus Watch, on the broader unhappiness of the professoriate getting monitored by people who are not worried about getting a good grade.

    Sissy Willis at Sisu remarked a while ago that the “left” has been talking to itself for so long that they don’t do well in responding to real objections. This certainly seems to be a sign of such weakness.

    Winfield Myers: Shedding light on the professoriate
    Winfield Myers, The Examiner
    2007-08-16 07:00:00.0
    Current rank: # 70 of 9,123

    Lisa Anderson, the former dean of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs best remembered for her failed attempt to bring Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to campus, had a complaint yesterday for the Web publication Inside Higher Ed.

    “Young scholars of Middle Eastern literature or history are finding themselves ‘grilled’ about their political views in job interviews, and in some cases losing job offers as a result of their answers,” Anderson said. She carefully stressed that she wasn’t talking about those who study policy or the current political climate.

    This situation has arisen, Anderson said, because “outside groups that are critical of those in Middle Eastern studies … are shifting the way scholarship is evaluated.”

    Anderson’s lamentations are part of a rising chorus from professors who consider themselves besieged by external organizations whose mission is to critique the performance of scholars. These include the one I head, Campus Watch, to which Anderson clearly alluded in her remarks.

    Academic radicals have for years controlled campus debate by blackballing internal opponents, intimidating students and crying censorship whenever their views or actions were challenged.

    They got away with such behavior for two principal reasons: A sympathetic media assured the nation that universities were in the front lines of the fight for liberty and justice, and there were few external organizations or individuals offering sustained critiques of politicized scholarship and teaching. These helped ensure that the public’s reservoir of good will toward universities remained full.

    But times are changing.

    Scholars no longer operate in an information vacuum. Their words carry great weight not only with their students, who pay for and deserve far better than they receive, but with the media, which funnel their often politicized, tendentious views to a broader public. Given such influence, it should shock no one that the professoriate is scrutinized and, when found wanting, challenged.

    Anderson and company’s frequently alleged claims that outsiders threaten their freedom of speech is, on the one hand, risible. Campus Watch and other organizations or individuals who critique academe don’t possess the authority of the state; we have no subpoena power, no ability to force their acquiescence, nor do we seek it.

    What we’ve challenged isn’t the academics’ right to speak as they wish. Rather, we’ve challenged their ability to practice their trade in hermetically sealed conditions free from the need to answer to anyone but themselves. We’ve held them accountable much as countless organizations and journalists have critiqued the behavior of other professions, from doctors and lawyers to clergy and businessmen.

    Given this new reality on campus, it’s almost understandable that outside critics could make the doyens of Middle East studies long for the days when they could operate behind closed doors. They had much to hide:

    In May at Stanford, Arzoo Osanloo of the University of Washington decried “Western, paternalistic attitudes towards Muslim women,” and asserted that Iranian women had made great strides since the 1979 revolution that brought the mullahs to power and implemented Sharia law.

    She failed to mention the regime’s ongoing crackdown on women who wear Western clothing or makeup, the brutal punishments (including death by stoning) of women accused of adultery, or the continuing illegal detention of American scholar Haleh Esfandiari of the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington.

    In a failed attempt to silence critics and elicit media sympathy, some Middle East studies scholars claimed to have received death threats. Most recently, Nadia Abu El-Haj, an archaeologist at Barnard College whose spurious denial of an ancient Hebrew connection to Jerusalem is designed to delegitimize the Jewish state, made such an unsubstantiated claim. Preceding her in making questionable charges were Khaled Abou el Fadl of UCLA and Joel Beinin of the American University of Cairo, whose charges against a journalist were dismissed.

    Last November, Michigan professor Kathryn Babayan aided efforts to disrupt the public lecture of her former colleague Raymond Tanter, who was invited to campus to speak about Iran.

    Moreover, the Committee on Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association, the umbrella group for scholars of the field, has yet to utter a word in protest of Saudi billionaire Khalid bin Mahfouz’s successful settlement against Cambridge University Press, which saw the American-authored book “Alms for Jihad” pulped and pulled from bookstores.

    During a follow-up interview for a teaching position in a large state university, Middle East studies professor Timothy Furnish was told that he “appeared to be more conservative than others in [his] field” and that he “sounded like Daniel Pipes.”

    No, he didn’t get the job.

    Winfield Myers is a member of The Examiner’s Board of Bloggers and blogs at


    For a linked version of this article go to Campus Watch.

    Walt Mearsheimer Run into Opposition

    Apparently, Walt and Mearsheimer, the “realist” proponents of what some of us believe to be a suicidal foreign policy are running into problems on what they expected to be a triumphal tour at the publication of their book. It’s a deeply flawed work, drawing on material from “advocacy websites” some of which have links to some really nasty sites. And they refuse — like their “moral” counterpart, Jimmy Carter — to debate the dubious merits of their work. So there have been cancellations.

    August 16, 2007
    Backlash Over Book on Policy for Israel

    “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” is not even in bookstores, but already anxieties have surfaced about the backlash it is stirring, with several institutions backing away from holding events with the authors.

    John J. Mearsheimer, a political scientist at the University of Chicago, and Stephen M. Walt, a professor at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, were not totally surprised by the reaction to their work. An article last spring in the London Review of Books outlining their argument — that a powerful pro-Israel lobby has a pernicious influence on American policy — set off a firestorm as charges of anti-Semitism, shoddy scholarship and censorship ricocheted among prominent academics, writers, policymakers and advocates. In the book, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux and embargoed until Sept. 4, they elaborate on and update their case.

    “Now that the cold war is over, Israel has become a strategic liability for the United States,” they write. “Yet no aspiring politician is going to say so in public or even raise the possibility” because the pro-Israel lobby is so powerful. They credit the lobby with shutting down talks with Syria and with moderates in Iran, preventing the United States from condemning Israel’s 2006 war in Lebanon and with not pushing the Israelis hard enough to come to an agreement with the Palestinians. They also discuss Christian Zionists and the issue of dual loyalty.

    Opponents are prepared. Also being released on Sept. 4 is “The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control” (Palgrave Macmillan) by Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League. The notion that pro-Israel groups “have anything like a uniform agenda, and that U.S. policy on Israel and the Middle East is the result of their influence, is simply wrong,” George P. Shultz, a former secretary of state, says in the foreword. “This is a conspiracy theory pure and simple, and scholars at great universities should be ashamed to promulgate it.”

    The subject will certainly prompt furious debate, though not at the Center for the Humanities at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, a Jewish cultural center in Washington and three organizations in Chicago. They have all turned down or canceled events with the authors, mentioning unease with the controversy or the format.

    How Liberals (Unconsciously?) Pursue the “Politics of the Worse”

    Jenny Tonge has already made her case for being the poster-woman for PCP1-2 when she explained that if the Palestinians have a death-cult in which they sacrifice their children on the altar of the shame-driven hatreds, it must be Israel’s fault (she didn’t actually put it that way; it might have gotten in the way of her sympathy for the underdog).

      “If I had to live in that situation – and I say that advisedly – I might just consider becoming one myself.”

    Part of what is so appalling about the remark is that, unlike Cherie Blair, who expressed similar sympathies, Tonge tells us she might wade into a crowd on civilians and blow herself up. I may be reading too much into this (and giving her too much credit), but I’d say a) she never would; b) she shows (is capable of?) absolutely no empathy for Israelis, who deserve what they get; and c) she has no clue to the teaching of hatred that lies behind these attacks. I also suspect she’d never say this about, say, Chechnian suicide terrorism, even though the Chechnians have a much stronger case to make about their imperialist oppressors than the Palestinians, who could be an independent state now if they’d have taken what was offered in 2000.

    Now she’s back at it, blaming Israel for the appalling state of Palestinian lives. Fortunately, informed folks like Jonathan Speyer and Lord Parry Andrew Mitchell, are there to fight back.

    In the meantime, she articulates precisely the kind of scapegoating of Israel that represents Europe’s – and America’s – greatest temptation. If you blame Israel for the suffering of the Palestinians and the unrest in the area – which Muslims from all over the world will happily tell you is the case — and you sacrifice Israel for “world peace,” by the time you find out it’s too late far too many people will have suffered far more. I’m not sure we can afford to pursue Blake’s proverb of hell: If the Fool would persist in [her] folly [she] would become wise. Isn’t it time we become wise?

    UK peer blames Israel for extremism

    Jonny Paul, THE JERUSALEM POST Aug. 16, 2007
    An Israeli scholar has firmly rejected comments by controversial UK Liberal Democrat politician Jenny Tonge, who recently accused Israel of driving the Palestinians to their current impoverished situation and claimed that this issue was being used to fuel Islamic extremism.

    “Ever since 1948, Palestine has been used as a battle cry and a propaganda weapon for Islamists worldwide,” she said in a speech in the House of Lords last month. “I have witnessed this in some African countries and, more recently, in Bangladesh. Palestine is what the West does to Muslims. That is the message. The Palestinians have been brought to their knees. A cultured and well-educated society with high skill levels has been reduced to a Third-World country. The statistics are there for all to see.”

    Now this is particularly interesting, because it illustrates precisely where the “left” has betrayed everything it stands for. Rather than responding that the Arab-Israeli conflict illustrates just how badly Arabs/Muslims treat their own and use Israel as a scapegoat, that the time has come for the Arab-Muslim world to start taking responsibility for their authoritarian (decidedly illiberal) culture if they want to go anywhere, Ms. Tonge just jumps on the scapegoating bandwagon. The statistics, by the way, are there for all to see — the “well-educated society with high skill levels” is a direct consequence of proximity and interaction with Israel and the decline begins precisely when, in search of honor, the Palestinians began their “intifadas”, first in 1987, then in 2000.

    Tonge also alleged that the IDF was disrupting school exams in Nablus, resulting in a generation of illiterate and unskilled Palestinians.

    “Even education is being destroyed as children are terrorized by raids on their schools,” she said, claiming that the products of such a system would be “capable of very little except low-wage labor. The economy cannot be rebuilt unless Israel changes its policies.”

    Again, she has not paid any attention to the extensive evidence that this culture, especially in the grip of predatory elites, systematically destroys economic growth… which is why so many Arab countries are hopelessly (and from a modern liberal point of view – Tonge’s? – inexcusably poor.

    But Dr. Jonathan Spyer, research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, disputed such assertions, which he said betrayed an “appalling ignorance of Islamist movements. Radical Islam is a political idea, some of whose proponents use the method of terrorism. This idea sees world events as shaped by a struggle between the forces of authentic Islam, and those of the non-believers. It uses a long list of supposed Muslim grievances as a way to mobilize support,” he told The Jerusalem Post.

    In other words, Tonge’s at the top of the list of candidates for “Dupe of Demopaths” for the month of August 2007.

    He noted that al-Qaida had been formed to overthrow the Saudi Arabian government in opposition to the US presence there in the 1990s. “Al-Qaida hardly mentioned the Palestinian issue prior to 2001.”

    That’s actually not true; nor is it relevant. Osama’s guru, Abdullah Azzam was a Palestinian who wrote a book called From Afghanistan to al Quds, and already in 1998 Osama’s talking about Palestine and Israel. On the larger point, however, Speyer is right:

    “The idea that this trans-national idea, which feeds off many local issues, is somehow ‘traceable’ to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and would be settled by the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel – an outcome which the Islamists in any case reject – is an absurd one. It’s used by people like Tonge in order to hold Israel to blame for radical Islam’s war in the West.”

    Baroness Tonge was sacked as a member of Parliament and as the Liberal Democrat spokeswoman in 2004 after expressing support for Palestinian suicide bombers.

    Daniel Seaman, director of the Israeli Government Press Office, told the Post on Thursday that at a recent meeting in Jericho, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that the PA could not control Hamas.

    “Any disruption is down to the extremists of Hamas who are operating in the area. Israel is operating in the area to protect its citizens. If exams are being disrupted, this is unfortunate. However, exams can be retaken. Lives cannot be brought back,” Seaman said.

    Tonge also questioned how things could get better. “The new government talks of rebuilding the economy in Palestine and of getting the Palestinians back to work, which is very welcome, but how will they do that with road blocks, checkpoints and Bantustans divided by settler-only roads?” she asked. “I am not anti-Semitic, but I am appalled by the racist, apartheid state of Israel. I use the word ‘apartheid’ in its literal sense; it means separation, because that is what is going on.”

    Tonge was challenged by Labour’s Lord Parry Andrew Mitchell, who took exception to her labeling of Israel as an apartheid state. “Perhaps we have all forgotten what an apartheid state was like,” he said. He added that Israel “has an Arab Minister in the government and in the cabinet. There is no ban on races mixing with each other. If you go to any hospital in Israel, you will see Arabs, Israelis and Druze, whether they are being treated or whether they are doctors and nurses.”

    In particular, the Weizmann Institute, of which I am the UK chairman, has Arabs and Arab professors who mix closely [with Israelis]. ‘Apartheid’ is a very dangerous word; it has all sorts of meanings, and it is absolutely untrue to say that of Israel.”

    The Shame of Recognition: On What to do about the Arab-Israeil Problem

    Whenever I lay out the obstacles to peace as I understand them, I get challenged by well-intentioned people who have either never heard the information I bring to bear on the problem, or never paid attention — “So what’s your solution?”

    One of my answers is to point out that the very question suggests that the reason they don’t think about the issues at play is because it renders current “solutions” null and void, and the only thing that people who are suddenly confronted with an honor-shame culture in genocidal meltdown rather than a rational “let’s work this out by compromise” culture just waiting to resolve the conflict is the unacceptable options of transfer and war. So often enough, I’ll focus on the point that you don’t reality test based on solutions, you come up with solutions as a result of reality testing.

    But I think we can go further, and the following article suggests one way. As readers of this blog know well, I think the problems of honor and shame play a key role in this conflict, that Israel’s very existence is a humiliation to the Arabs and Muslims (for cultural and religious reasons). Further, I think that liberals who, upon hearing this, say, “Well, you’ll never change that…” not only abdicate on their values and put the onus on Israel, but show a profound contempt for the Arabs who, they think, will never change their (by liberal standards) primitive instincts of whitening their face by shedding the blood of their enemy.

    The following article raises one of the most critical issues faced by Israel — the Arab world’s refusal to recognize them. This is not just a diplomatic maneuver, it gets at the core of Arab attitudes towards the unacceptable anomaly of a state of free and autonomous Jews in the heart of what should be Dar al Islam. It’s noxious impact on the lives of everyone – Palestinians above all — can be seen in both the imprisonment of Palestinian refugees by their Arab “brethren” in order to have a festering sore of reproach with which to justify perpetual war on free Jews, but on the Three No’s of Khartoumno Negotiations, No Recognition, No Peace! — after the Six Day War, which left millions of Palestinians under Israeli “occupation.” The job of any West that want’s to survive, the non-appeasing West, should be to point out to Arabs who yell about the “Occupation” that it’s their fault, that they’re refusal to recognize Israel and negotiate in 1967 was the cause of these last 40 years of Palestinian subjection. (That would, among other things, flush out the ones for whom the “Occupied Territories” means the land from the river to the sea.)

    Civil Fights: Bumps under the rug

    Evelyn Gordon, THE JERUSALEM POST Aug. 15, 2007
    There is often more truth about the Arab-Israeli conflict in articles on unrelated subjects than in articles about the conflict itself.

    Consider, for instance, an item on mapmaking that appeared in the International Herald Tribune two weeks ago. In it, the owner of an Italian company that makes globes discussed issues such as whether Cyprus should be drawn divided or united (most countries do not recognize the island’s de-facto division) and whether the gulf between Iran and Saudi Arabia should be named the Arabian or the Persian Gulf.

    Then, in one throwaway sentence, the article hit on the real cause of our conflict: “And in much of the Arab world, Israel is nonexistent.” Arab governments and educational institutions insist that their maps and globes eschew all mention of a country called Israel, and mapmakers obediently comply.

    IT IS HARD to think of another interstate conflict in which one country refuses even to acknowledge the other’s existence. Indian and Pakistani maps, for instance, show their disputed border in different places, but both include an entity called “India” or “Pakistan.”

    Neither American nor Soviet maps ever failed to depict the rival superpower during the Cold War. Israel’s maps show Syria, a country with which it has been at war since its birth, as well as Iran, whose president routinely vows to wipe it off the rest of the world’s maps as well.

    But in the Arab world, even a depiction of Israel within its pre-1967 armistice lines is anathema.

    Fifty-nine years after Israel’s establishment, the Arab world is still not prepared to accept the Jewish state’s existence. It continues to dream that Israel will somehow disappear, and that dream is transmitted to successive generations through its maps.

    After all, a map reflects what its maker or commissioner deems the “correct” picture of the world. And the “correct” Arab picture of the world is still one where the Zionist entity does not exist.

    THIS SAME truth was offhandedly acknowledged in a recent New York Times article on another unrelated subject: the possibility of partitioning Iraq. The article cited a column that ran last year in the Dubai-based Gulf News, entitled “Partitioning Iraq: No Starter.” In it, author George Hishmeh, a former writer for the US Information Agency, explained that one reason the idea is a nonstarter is that the very word “partition” has “an ugly ring in Arab ears, especially after what happened in Palestine in 1948” – i.e., the UN partition plan that paved the way for Israel’s establishment.

    In other words, 59 years after Israel’s creation, the idea of partition is still so taboo in the Arab world that it cannot even be considered in the completely unrelated context of Iraq. How likely is it, then, that the Arab world is ready to accept the “original sin” – partition of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea into two states, one of which would be Jewish?

    Diplomats tend to dismiss such indications of Arab sentiment as unimportant, insisting that the “real” Arab position is reflected in documents like the Arab peace initiative adopted by the Arab League in 2002 and reaffirmed by an Arab League summit this year. Yet in fact, the Arab peace initiative is completely consistent with the vision shown on Arab maps; diplomats simply prefer to overlook this inconvenient truth.

    THE DOCUMENT states explicitly that one condition for peace is “a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194.” And the Arab world’s consistent interpretation of this resolution, ever since its adoption in 1948, has been that it mandates a “right of return” for all refugees and their descendants – currently some 4.3 million people, according to UNRWA – to pre-1967 Israel.

    Nor does the resolution’s text preclude this interpretation (though it also admits other interpretations): It states that “refugees wishing to return to their homes… should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date.”

    Currently, Israel’s population of about 7.1 million includes 1.4 million Arabs and 5.4 million Jews. It is not hard to realize that the addition of 4.3 million refugees and their descendants – or even a sizable fraction thereof – would turn Israel from a Jewish-majority state to an Arab-majority or binational state. In other words, the Jewish state would cease to exist, even if the name “Israel” remained on international maps.

    Here, too, the standard diplomatic response is simply to pretend that the problem does not exist: that this does not reflect the “real” Arab position; it is merely a negotiating tactic.

    Unfortunately, such assumptions have proven unfounded in the past – as they did at the Camp David summit in 2000 and the subsequent Washington and Taba talks in 2001. Then, too, the working assumption was that Yasser Arafat’s stated positions, such as his insistence on the “right of return” and his refusal to acknowledge any Jewish link to the Temple Mount, were mere negotiating tactics. Yet in practice, according to then foreign minister and chief Israeli negotiator Shlomo Ben-Ami, the Palestinians – not only Arafat, but also the current “great white hope” of the peace process, Mahmoud Abbas – proved unwilling to budge from these positions.

    PEACE, ACCORDING to the cliché, is made with enemies. But it cannot be made with an enemy that refuses to acknowledge your right to exist. That is the real root of the conflict, and until it is resolved, no amount of territorial concessions will make any difference.

    Yet it will never be resolved as long as the international community insists on sweeping it under the rug. Thus if the world truly wants the Arab-Israeli conflict settled, it must begin challenging the Arab refusal to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist wherever and whenever it comes up – from the public refusal by heads of state to abandon their demand for a “right of return” to the lowly globes that are teaching a whole new generation of Arab schoolchildren that the Jewish state does not, should not and, if God is kind, someday will not exist.

    For the West to indulge this kind of peurile denial of reality of the “other” in any way shape or form is a critical tactical and strategic error. It should not be a bargaining chip, but a sine qua non of any discussion. And there are a number of ways that the West can make these matters known to the Arabs and Muslims… indeed an escalating series of moves (as on a chess board), that target the Arabs’ incredible sensitivity to public humiliation. If they know that resisting the first moves will bring not concession (as in Danoongate), but further, escalating humiliations (like the publication of the cartoons in every Western newspaper and magazine, with extensive commentary on how the most vicious ones were forged by the rabble-rousing imams), they will back down. This can begin with drawing the lines on map-making. No self-respecting Western outfit should put out maps without Israel. And every request for such maps should become a cause celebre. If the Muslims insist, that just means that the long and ugly history of how they’ve treated their own people in their mad pursuit of honor comes out. After a series of further public problems created by these matters, if the Arab states continue to threaten and fight, then embassies should start moving to Jerusalem – one by one, so as to draw out the process and give them time to step down. And if the Arab states break off diplomatic contact with the state in question, then we respond.

    Obviously this is a process that needs to be thought out by people more knowledgeable in matters of diplomacy than I. But instead of these folks putting their minds to figuring out how not to upset the Arabs and Muslims — like England’s reaction to the kidnapping and release of her sailors — they should be figuring out how to pick their fights, have a consistent and coordinated strategy, and stick to it. And the core of that strategy should be the twin issues of the Arabs and Muslims fear of public humiliation, and the fundamental inacceptablility of their refusal to recognize Israel.

    The Coming Urban Terror: How do we fight?

    The following is an article that delineates my fears. It also illustrates the incredible danger of justifying resentments expressed as terror — i.e., you end up being the target, as Muslims the world over, but especially in Iraq, are beginning to realize.

    Unlike the writer, who emphasizes military forms of security, I prefer cultural ones – like making it clear that engaging in this stuff is not okay – (i.e., the opposite of what the world told the Palestinians from 2001 to present).

    The likelihood of people “going” for terrorist “activism” is MUCH higher when we turn a blind eye to it and say, “hey, it’s a free country… they can say what they want.” So far so good, they can say what they want. But then we have to say something back, not walk away and let them recruit people who have a weak grip on what right and wrong, legitimate (to use the demopaths favorite term) and illegitimate. tolerance takes energy… what the Dutch and other Europeans have really failed to appreciate. It takes engagement.

    The Coming Urban Terror
    John Robb

    For the first time in history, announced researchers this May, a majority of the world’s population is living in urban environments. Cities—efficient hubs connecting international flows of people, energy, communications, and capital—are thriving in our global economy as never before. However, the same factors that make cities hubs of globalization also make them vulnerable to small-group terror and violence.

    Over the last few years, small groups’ ability to conduct terrorism has shown radical improvements in productivity—their capacity to inflict economic, physical, and moral damage. These groups, motivated by everything from gang membership to religious extremism, have taken advantage of easy access to our global superinfrastructure, revenues from growing illicit commercial flows, and ubiquitously available new technologies to cross the threshold necessary to become terrible threats. September 11, 2001, marked their arrival at that threshold.

    Unfortunately, the improvements in lethality that we have already seen are just the beginning. The arc of productivity growth that lets small groups terrorize at ever-higher levels of death and disruption stretches as far as the eye can see. Eventually, one man may even be able to wield the destructive power that only nation-states possess today. It is a perverse twist of history that this new threat arrives at the same moment that wars between states are receding into the past. Thanks to global interdependence, state-against-state warfare is far less likely than it used to be, and viable only against disconnected or powerless states. But the underlying processes of globalization have made us exceedingly vulnerable to nonstate enemies. The mechanisms of power and control that states once exerted will continue to weaken as global interconnectivity increases. Small groups of terrorists can already attack deep within any state, riding on the highways of interconnectivity, unconcerned about our porous borders and our nation-state militaries. These terrorists’ likeliest point of origin, and their likeliest destination, is the city.

    read the rest…

    Civil societies are, by their very nature, vulnerable. One of the key insights of civil society is that all the good experiential things — intimacy, learning, joy — come from vulnerability.

    By not vigorously opposing terrorism, but rather “understanding” it, “sympathizing” with its “desperation,” excusing its excesses, the Left has created a monster that comes to plague us all. And when we say, “hey, not here you idiots, they can just respond, “one person’s civil society is another’s oppression.”

    On Liberal Overconfidence: Excerpt from Harris’ Suicide of Reason

    Here is a telling paragraph from the end of Lee Harris’ Preface to his new book, The Suicide of Reason: Radical Islam’s Threat to the West.

    Both the tribal mind and fanaticism are rational adaptations to a world ruled by the Law of the Jungle – rational in the sense that they increase the odds of surviving. On the other hand, the rational actor doesn’t have a chance of survival in the jumgle. He who has neither tribe nor pack to defend him will perish. That is why the rational actor must be horrified at the very thought of a return to the Law of the Jungle – in order to exist at all, the rational actor must be living in an environment in which the Rule of Law has replaced the Law of the Jungle. Yet in the modern liberal West, the Rule of Law has been so successful in pushing back the jungle that many in the West have forgotten that we are the exceptions, and no the rule.

    In short, today there are two great threats facing the survival of the modern liberal West. The first is its exaggerated confidence in the power of reason to alter the human condition; the second is its profound underestimation of the power of fanaticism to change the world.

    Although he uses his terms differently, I think it fair to substitute, at least provisionally, my terms Civil Society vs. Prime Divider for Rule of Law and Law of Jungle.

    9-11 Conspiracy and the Post-Modern Mutation

    Excerpt from Heaven on Earth: Varieties of the Millennial Experience

    This section in principle comes either at the end of a chapter on UFOlogy as a form of millennial thought, in which I discuss the close relationship between UFOlogy and conspiracy thinking, or in an epilogue, after the final chapter on Global Jihad as an apocalyptic millennial movement. The text is still raw — needs to be more coherent, and possibly more substantive — and the version below has been altered in ways that correspond with the style of my blog and the style of my academic writing (less of my “jargon” about demopaths, more careful about passing judgments). I welcome comments, links, reflections, criticism, etc.

    9-11 and Post-Modern Western Conspiracy Thinking: We Are to Blame

    9-11 Conspiracy constitutes the most powerful conspiracy theory in the brief history of the internet age. Within hours of the attacks, accusations that the Israeli Mossad had planned and executed the attacks while “4000 Jews stayed at home,” appeared, particularly in the Arab world, a textbook case of internet conspiracy mongering.

    In the Muslim world these theories became the dominant public voice. There, traditional conspiracy operated: We are innocent, our enemies are guilty. In 2002 a Gallup poll found a majority of Muslims interviewed did not believe Bin Laden or any Muslim did 9-11. A 2006 Pew poll found this attitude widespread even among Muslims in the US — 28% — believe that Muslims did not do 9-11 (and 32% unsure, leaving only 40% of US Muslims polled agreeing that Bin Laden carried out 9-11.

    Such claims, and their eager acceptance among fringe elements of Western conspiracy thinkers, especially those who already believed in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, should not astonish observers. Like so many other such conspiracies, they combine “cui bono?” [who benefits?] – Israel, Fascists in the US government – with a semiotic arousal that moves from perceived anomaly — isn’t this strange! — to “obvious” conclusion — what else could explain this? — in the blink of an eye. Among the plethora of Muslim conspiracies that blossomed in the wake of 9-11, perhaps the most scholarly and consequential came from the “progressive” Nafeez Mossadeq Ahmed, The War on Freedom which came out within months of the event in February 2002 and blamed not Israel, but the US Government.

    But the story was only beginning. Over the next months, a vast array of hypotheses, laid out in detail at a host of websites, accused George Bush and his administration either allowed the 9-11 attack to occur (Pearl Harbor version), or actively carried it out (Reichstag Fire version). The logic behind all of these theories focused on the perceived anomalies – the size of the hole in the Pentagon (too small), the collapse of the Twin Towers (too neat), of Building 7 (too far away), even the overall success of the plan (too great) – and rapidly moved to explaining them in terms of a government plot, primarily aimed at turning the US government into a police state. Cui bono? – the proto-fascists in the Bush administration.