Monthly Archives: February 2009

Republishing an Obituary of Edward Saïd: The evil is too oft interred with their bones…

One of my newer but valuable commentators has posted in the comment section an obituary on Edward Saïd which he wrote in Portuguese for Folha de S. Paulo (Brazil). I think it deserves its own post. He prefaced it with the following remarks:

    When in 2003 I wrote Said’s obituary for my newspaper, maybe the only negative text on him to be published in the country’s press, 187 of our most famous intellectuals, writers and artists sent the paper not an answer, but a protest where, besides calling me a warmonger and a racist, they basically asked my boss to fire me (he didn’t). Even in such a far away place as my country, Said became a saint and whatever he wrote is holy writ, above criticism.

It’s a devastating obituary, and, I think, quite accurate. Amazing the editor allowed it, and stood by the author. Not amazing that a bunch of besotted intellectuals got indignant. Interesting that it solicited accusations like “racist,” and “warmonger.” There’s nothing of either sort in the obituary… just a (well-deserved) lack of polite respect for the dead.

EDWARD SAID (1935-2003)

The leukemia that a couple of days ago killed Edward Said lasted long enough for the polemicist and political activist who had settled in the US to watch his projects and hopes crumble.

Said owes his fame to having become the most articulate apologist for the « Palestinian cause », something that wasn’t all that difficult when one considers that most of his rivals in this field, whenever they’re not too busy blowing up school buses and pizza parlours, satisfy themselves spreading anti-Semitic forgeries like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Even so, although his prose reminds one of a post-modern English version of a deconstructionist French translation of the Germanic ravings of some Heidegger epigone, his academic dance of the seven veils with successive layers of Marxist, anti-imperialist and post-colonial jargon never hid the fact that his goals were fundamentally the same.

A large part of his so-called moral authority came from Said presenting himself as a refugee from a Palestinian homeland. In spite of having been put in doubt by his adversaries, the truth or falsity of this claim isn’t too important. The internal borders of the Arab world are all artificial and, half a century ago, loyalties there were established in relation to clans, families, cities or villages and religious sects, not countries or nations, an European import that has had no time to grow deep roots in the Middle East. The Palestinian nationality as a distinct identity has not begun to be developed before the 60s.

US Pulls out of Durban because of anti-semitism; Europe expected to follow

Dare I believe this? A major victory over demopathy… before the decade has passed!

Anne Bayefsky suggests there’s more than meets the eye, here. Keep an Eye on the UN

U.S. pulling out of ‘Durban II’ conference

By Ron Kampeas · February 27, 2009

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Obama administration has decided to boycott the so-called Durban II conference out of concerns for anti-Semitism.

Multiple sources on a conference call with the White House on Friday told JTA that the Obama administration had opted not to attend any further preparatory meetings ahead of the planned U.N. conference against racism in Geneva in April.

The conference reprises the 2001 conference in Durban, South Africa that devolved into an anti-Jewish free-for-all. Canada and Israelhave opted not to attend the conference, and some U.S. Jewish groups had been pressing the United States to do the same.

Preparations for a draft document so far have seen Iran leading a coterie of nations blocking inclusion of anything that might guarantee Jewish protections – including mention of the Holocaust – while inserting draconian language guarding Islam against “insult.”

The State Department sent a delegation, including a senior staffer from the American Jewish Committee, to this month’s preparatory talks. The delegation’s conclusions were that the anti-Israel and anti-Western tendencies were too deeply entrenched to excise.

Now that the United States is withdrawing from the conference, European nations are expected to follow.

Speaking for the White House on Friday’s call were Samantha Power and James Warlick, who handle international organizations for, respectively, the national security council and the State Department; and Jennifer Simon, an adviser to Susan Rice, the U.S. envoy to the United Nations.

Solomonia is somewhat snarky about it:

Once again, these guys come around to doing exactly the same thing the previous crew would have done after campaigning on fantasies. How much long-term damage is this dreaming ideologue going to do in other situations that don’t have as much attention cast on them, and are just a half-step away from as obvious as this “Durban” situation has been? We can only “hope.”

But in some senses, it’s better we went there and walked away, than not going. Indeed, if the Europeans follow suit, it does illustrate the influence that a well-viewed president can exercise on countries which would otherwise be too cowardly to resist, and who might, in times of unpopular US presidents, be drawn into a spiteful and suicidal resistance to the American lead. If the Europeans do drop out, this places Obama in a position to make major moves on the level of discourse.

Of course, watch out for the backlash, not only among Muslims and radicals, but the “realist” Walt-Mearsheimer crowd.

Wouldn’t it be nice if the motivation for this came from the team itself observing the madness that the UN has become, and not from the moral outrage recent American behavior justifiably provoked. Either way, let’s hope this is a principled move, based on an awareness of the demopathy at work, and not a favor for which some major payment is expected down the line.

I’ll wait to hear more before making any other remarks, but I must say, this has made my week.

UPDATE
: H/T Naomi Regan

Favorable reaction to the administration decision is coming in from Jewish leaders and others. B’nai B’rith International executive vice president Daniel Mariaschin said the decision sends a “clear message” that “the administration is not going to tolerate business as usual in these multilateral forums” and also gives a signal to other countries “that have been waiting for us” to make a decision that they can fall in line behind the United States.

The quick decision, just a week after the U.S. attended planning meetings for the April conference in Geneva, also was a positive, said Mariaschin. “The sooner the better,” he said, because if the administration had waited until just a couple weeks before the conference, other countries might not have opted out.

“The administration was faced with the reality that this was not going to change,” he said, and “sensed that their red lines had been crossed and there was no sense pursuing this.”

The Anti-Defamation League also weighed in Friday afternoon: We applaud the administration for refusing to participate in a process that would in any way brand Israel as a racist country. The campaign to label Israel’s policies toward Palestinians as racist serves, in effect, to revive the infamous allegation that Zionism is a form of racism.

This swift and clear-eyed decision demonstrates that the U.S. government speaks with a consistent moral voice against the singling out of Israel for condemnation in the United Nations, and is determined to engage in a fight against racism that is free from the politicization and hatred that has plagued the Durban Review Conference process.

The Congressional Task Force on Anti-Semitism, chaired by Reps. Ron Klein (D-Fla.) and Mike Pence (R-Ind.), also applauded the decision: We applaud the Administration for their decision to pull out of Durban II. It is clear to us that the same anti-Semitic displays of hate witnessed in the first conference are likely to be showcased once again, with nations such as Libya and Iran leading the charge. Especially at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise, the United States simply cannot stand by as an important international conference on racism is hijacked by those who wish Israel harm.

We hope that the parties involved in planning the second World Conference Against Racism will abandon their agenda of hate and draft planning documents which adhere to the red-lines set forth by the United States Congress. In the meantime, it is imperative that the United States not lend its good name to a futile effort.”

House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.): It is very unfortunate that there will no willing partners to try to refocus the Durban II conference on its stated goal to review country commitments to fight racism, xenophobia and intolerance. I welcomed and urged the U.S. effort to engage forcefully in trying to prevent the conference from singling out Israel in any way, but am disappointed that the international community is unwilling to stand up to those who are once again hijacking the conference for political expediency.

“I hope that the Administration’s announcement will galvanize like-minded countries and those who have been sitting on the sidelines to end this mindless march toward an outcome that serves none of the victims of racism, xenophobia and intolerance, and I urge the organizers of the conference to show leadership to create the conditions for universal participation in Durban II. If they cannot, I believe that the United States can and must continue its leadership in addressing these vital matters without participating in a conference that may become focused on political issues that have no place in what should be a joint struggle to end racism, intolerance and xenophobia.

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies: This is unquestionably the right decision,” said FDD President Clifford May. “It sends a message that racism and hatred must not be tolerated in any of its guises — not least when that racism and hatred is used to justify terrorist attacks around the world. We hope that Europe follows the lead of the United States and Canada in refusing to participate.”

The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism’s Rabbi David Saperstein: We deeply appreciate the Obama Administration’s effort to try and prevent the Durban II conference from being hijacked by those with an anti-Semitic and anti-Israel agenda. While there was disagreement in the Jewish community as to whether such efforts would have been better served by the Administration’s engagement in or disengagement from the process, the fact that the Administration made the effort to play a constructive role dramatizes to the world both our seriousness about tackling the scourge of racism and the tenacity of those forces committed to hijacking the conference in pursuit of their anti-Semitic or anti-Israel agenda.

United Jewish Communities’ William Daroff: As feared, it has become increasingly clear that the only purpose of the
Durban conference is to condemn the State of Israel for its very existence. President Obama is absolutely correct in refusing to participate in this sham.Israel is one of our nation’s closest allies and we commend the President for recognizing the need to remove America’s name from these efforts to soil the name of Israel and Jews across the globe. We are hopeful that other countries will follow our lead by refusing to give credibility to this shameful fear mongering and anti-Semitic effort.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee: The event, which has again proven to be a celebration of racism and vile
anti-Semitic activity, is further evidence of the U.N.’s inability to demonstrate any semblance of fairness or objectivity on these issues when it comes to the Jewish State. President Obama’s decision not to send U.S. representation to the April event is the right thing to do and underscores America’s unstinting commitment to combating intolerance and racism in all its forms and in all settings.

Jewish Council for Public Affairs’ Rabbi Steve Gutow: It is a tremendous shame that the global forums we set up to discuss importantissues are so overly-politicized that they have left the U.S.with no option, but to opt out. Unfortunately it seems clear that this conference will turn into Durban II-an exercise in racism against Jews, rather than an honest attempt to address global racism. We support the clear process the Obama Administration followed in order to reach this decision.

The American Jewish Congress: We applaud both the Administration’s decision not to attend the Durban Conference and its effort to make it possible for the United States to demonstrate its desire to join in a world wide conference ending the scourge of racism. We hope that other nations will now follow suit and announce that they, too, will not attend.

The Administration, in keeping with its commitment to multi-lateralism, will send an observer to the UN Human Rights
Coalition meeting in March. Acknowledging that the Human Rights Council is a poster child for what is broken with UN mechanisms, the Administration’s limited cautious effort is understandable, though unlikely to produce much.

PC, Prohibited Analysis, and the “Arab Mind”: More from Green’s thesis

In the version I’m revising for publication, this section is now called “Discouraged Analysis.” This section is taken from a chapter called “Flawed Assumptions and a Poor Understanding of the Threat”, which opens by explaining that the National Security Strategy (2006) is based on some PC, but probably incorrect notions about Islam. Hence the below…

PROHIBITED ANALYSIS

The national security strategists do not make their assumptions in a vacuum. They do so in the context of an intellectual environment that pre-ordains some conclusions and discourages others. In essence, there are accepted judgments Westerners may levy with or without support, and there are judgments deemed unacceptable despite support. It is the unintended byproduct of a benevolent, intellectual environment designed to correct a human history filled with uninformed, unjustified, and unfortunate bigotry. However, rather than removing moral judgments from intellectual pursuits altogether — and this would be a prudent philosophy for achieving objectivity — Western intelligentsia, including mainstream media and academia, allows penetrating, sometimes derisive critiques of its own culture while disallowing it of other cultures.

Raphael Patai’s The Arab Mind has to be the most enduring example of a solid, if imperfect, work routinely rejected by modern scholars as “emblematic of a bygone era,” Orientalist á la Edward Said’s definition, racist, “lurid,” and, like Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations, too general to be accurate or of any use. Critics deride neo-conservatives in the current administration for reading it; some of the more polemic critics claim it “…provided the intellectual backdrop for the torture and sexual abuse that took place at Abu Ghraib.”[1]

Rejecting Patai’s work as a disfavored “type of thinking,” one anthropologist ironically dismisses it as “culture talk,” while another claims “[Patai] can no longer be taken seriously.” In true, universalist form, critic Emram Qureshi suggests, “Rather than plumbing some mythical ‘Arab mind,’ we should affirm the shared humanity that transcends our differences and binds us all together.” Lee Smith, whom National Public Radio interviewed without contest, eloquently demonstrates the accepted discourse on Patai:

The very title of The Arab Mind suggests that it’s possible, and desirable, to reduce a set of cultural ideas and circumstances to a single concept. Patai’s term is more than the vulgar shorthand of mass politics (e.g., “the black community”). It belongs to an old tradition that classified races according to their ostensibly characteristic traits, a field pioneered by 19th-century European writers and shared by, among others, T.E. Lawrence. “They were a limited, narrow-minded people, whose inert intellects lay fallow in incurious resignation.”[2]

Racism-driven inquiry certainly did leave an indelible mark on “the academic mind.” The rejection of obviously flawed and bigoted analysis from the 19th century, however, has produced its own problems. Analysts are now required to assume the universality of human character and prohibited from inquiries like Patai’s, lest they be lumped in with the likes of 19th century bigots.

The problem, of course, is that there are differences between cultures and religions that affect behavior and judgments—this cannot be gainsaid. Moreover, it deprives such terms as “Arab” and “Western” of any utility by picking them apart with incessant particularization. It could be inappropriate to use the term American, for instance, because there are fifty diverse states, hundreds of counties in some of them, thousands of towns and cities, as well as a wealth of cultures and subcultures — in the United States alone. Because it would be difficult to find many U.S. citizens who conform to every character trait considered quintessentially American, the term American can have no use, so the argument goes.

Be Afraid and Learn the Lessons of Eurabia: Nidra Poller nails it, alas!

I went yesterday night to a talk at a synagogue in Stoughton by Geert Wilder, the Dutch lawmaker now on trial in his homeland for “hate speech” as a result of his movie Fitna, and recently ejected from the UK by an administration cowed by the threat of 10,000 Muslims besieging Parliament if they let Wilder show his movie. No one’s problems better illustrates the pathetic condition of Europe than Wilder.

While this was a last-minute affair with announcements going on a mere days before the talk, the room was full (not just of Jews, Miss Kelley and a number of her friends, appropriately marked with ash on their foreheads were also there); and Wilder got three standing ovations. The talk will be posted on the internet shortly.

His message was: “It’s not 8:55, it’s 11:55… We are in the last stages of islamization of Europe… and it’s closer than we imagine… It could happen very quickly… the USA is losing an ally to an ideology of hatred… the European political and intellectual elites have been intimidated and are now behaving like Dhimmi.”

Wilders has run into problems because, apparently, he called for the Quran to be banned, although according to Bostom that was not so much a serious call for banning the Quran as a ploy to emphasize that if you’re going to ban texts for hate-speech then the Quran should be at the top of the list. In honor of Wilder’s struggle, I post here a thoughtful, eloquent, and hard-hitting piece by Nidra Poller on what the USA can learn from European folly.

MARCH 2009 OUTPOST NOW ONLINE

Europe’s Woes America’s Warning
by Nidra Poller

It is difficult to imagine how European nations could find the will and the ways to counter the subversive forces they have invited upon themselves and allowed to flourish for more than three decades. The current phase of global jihad, already underway in the much vaunted decolonization process, coalesced with the seizure of power in Iran by Ayatollah Khomenei (who had been living as a pampered refugee in France). But the American reader should be wary of concluding that Europe is lost…and the United States is standing firm.

On the contrary, all of Western civilization is under fire. As promised during the campaign, Barack Hussein Obama is making a radical change in American policy. Not of course the glorious change his worshippers promised themselves, but a troubling shift toward dhimmitude. The newly elected president lost no time in pleading guilty as charged by Muslim authorities and promising to refrain from further rebellion in order to receive their benevolent indulgence.

Similar methods produce similar results. Jihad forces in Europe — and in the United States — used Israel’s Cast Lead operation in Gaza as a pretext to organize virulent, violent pro-Hamas demonstrations. Because Europe is further down the path to surrender, the enraged pro-Hamas mobs were more violent, destructive, and physically threatening here than in the United States. But in both cases they advanced their dominion. This should be recognized as authentic conquest of territory by enraged mobs bearing down on hapless victims in an ominous show of force and not, as claimed and widely accepted, citizen demonstrators exercising their right to free speech.

Absolutely. As I argued almost five years ago, one of the major results of the al Durah affair was to allow the Arab street to take root in Europe. This is just the latest stage, and it’s most worrisome. Anyone reading this as “citizen demonstrators exercising their right to free speech,” is a useful idiot.

If you can carry signs equating the Magen David with the swastika, if you can scream “Jews to the ovens” in the face of Zionists in Ft. Lauderdale Florida, if you can storm into a synagogue in Caracas, Venezuela and terrorize the congregation, if you can bully the police in England, smash up the Place de l’Opéra in Paris, burn Israeli and American flags, shout Allahu Akbar without meeting resolute opposition, it means you can keep going and ultimately fulfill those murderous promises. Do American Jews understand what was acquired by these phony demonstrations that are really paramilitary operations? Wherever those enraged mobs set foot they transformed the streets into de facto waqf territory.

Precisely. This is a war that concerns gangs and territory. We in the West are badly equipped to handle it and (hence) to recognize it (i.e., if we can’t handle a problem, don’t have a solution, then don’t identify it as a problem).

Each successive crisis is an opportunity to ratchet up Jew hatred and the concomitant assault on Western civilization, achieving, step by step, tacit acceptance of the unspeakable. Here is how it works: first, the provocation. Jihadist attacks — thousands of rockets launched against Israel, a few airplanes flown into the WTC, capture and beheading of hostages, roadside bombs, inhuman pizzeria bombers, nuclear weapons programs — finally provoke a riposte. Bingo! The Muslim wailing machine goes into action. It is immediately picked up by complicit Western media and transmitted, with a Good Journalism stamp of approval, to public opinion. Israel, the United States and anyone else who dares to fight back is accused of war crimes, peace crimes, and original sin. This justifies subsequent acts of subversion and aggression against the free world.

It is a brilliant strategy, even if it involves the sacrifice of Muslim lives in order to pull it off. The pathetic, outrageous, inconceivable aspect of it is the role played by our own media.

When the United States used its formidable military force and assumed its international responsibilities, European nations, with rare exceptions, exploited opposition to “the war in Iraq” to undermine the American superpower. This agitation was exploited in turn by jihad interests to advance the Islamization of Europe… and by ricochet to influence domestic politics in the United States as Obamamania surfed on the theme of repairing America’s battered image.

So European resentment causes them to behave in self-destructive ways (striking at the only nation that has and can save them from their folly for what would be a third time), and American insecurity (which I run into among my colleagues all the time), takes European bad faith and cowardice as a model for us to imitate. It’s pretty amazing.

Cognitive Warfare: More from Stuart Green’s thesis

More from Stuart Green’s thesis, The Problem of Cognitive Warfare, this time from chapter 3.

The Discourse and the Cognitive Offensive

Any discussion of the cognitive offensive must begin with a discussion of the discourse, for it is the accepted discourse cognitive warriors see as the strategic target. Limited to the issue or conflict at hand, the discourse may be considered a relatively small memeplex that finds its anchor in larger environmental memeplexes such as culture, religion, prevailing academic paradigms, economic traditions etc. It can, however, be manipulated by outside influences through transparent, open debate, or a protracted information campaign that makes skillful use of propaganda, violence, and knowledge of the adversary’s environmental vulnerabilities. The degree to which the accepted discourse is vulnerable to destruction from the outside depends on the nature of the contributing environmental factors.

Information and “Information”—The Accepted Discourse. It is important here to discuss the transformation of information into “information.” There must be a careful distinction between information meant to persuade and “information” meant to persuade. That is, there must be a way to differentiate between “information” cynically distributed for effect and information—less the quotation marks—distributed for effect but believed by its propagators to be true and free of exaggeration, regardless of the reality.

One could argue, for instance, that the Palestinians’ uttered beliefs are no more propaganda than those of many Jewish settlers who feel a strong emotional and historical connection to the land. Nonetheless, in the context of cognitive warfare and the pressing need for persuasion, there comes a point at which information ceases to be the heartfelt, honest articulation of one’s views. Disconnected from the desire for expression or articulation and no longer parallel to the propagator’s perception of the truth, it emulates propaganda in the traditional, pejorative sense and may be considered an engineered, infectious meme.

As time wears on and the conflict’s rhetoric intensifies, propaganda may pull away from empirical and perceived truths. Its propagators, seeking to shift the intellectual locus of legitimacy, attempt to obscure empirical truth by supplanting it with a “new” truth—in other words, manipulation and deception. Brodie offered the Trojan horse and repetition—discussed briefly in chapter three—as just two means by which minds may be deceptively changed. The more successful the campaign, the more acceptable debate peels off the empirical truth, hopefully, from the propagator’s perspective, without the constituents knowing.

The passage of time and the growing intensity of propaganda increase the gap between the acceptable discourse and the empirical truth, which gradually becomes lost or obscured. In the most extreme scenarios, the gap between the empirical truth and acceptable discourse grows so large that the former is perceived as extreme or unlikely.

stuart green figure changing accepted discourse
Figure 1: Changing the Accepted Discourse 1

In their campaign to expose “alternative” points of view, for instance, Holocaust deniers have benefited from time’s passage and the death of most survivors. As the evidence literally dies off and memories fade, the idea that far fewer Jews died during World War II seems less extreme and therefore more acceptable, particularly when that idea is pitched as a moderate alternative to the notion that the Holocaust never happened. In fact, Holocaust denial is a common theme in the Muslim world (see chapter seven). It presents a major memetic threat to Israel’s legitimacy in international eyes, as much support for the state’s existence is predicated on the Holocaust and the perceived, tenuous survivability of the Jewish race.

Israel’s “Three Choices”: A tentative response to “israeli”

In a previous post on Bob Simon’s 60-minutes piece, I got a long comment from someone with the tag “israeli”, in which he made the basic argument that Simon did about needing to act now in order to avoid either self-destruction as a Jewish democracy or apartheid.

My answer to him turned out to be much longer than I had planned, and fairly dense in both style and content… lot’s of contorted short-hands and long explanatory phrases in mid-sentence. But I do think it gets at some of my broader thoughts on some key issues concerning the problem of “solving” the conflict. So I’m putting it up as an independent post, and starting a new line of comments.

If anyone wants to offer some edits of my text so it’s not so convoluted, I’d be very grateful. If anyone has links to suggest, also welcome.

I am very late to this, so i am not sure RL will even see my comment but here it goes anyway…

RL, the points you bring up are valid, but there is one or two things you are not taking into consideration… I worked in the policy world for a while, on military matters… The main thing I learned was that critiques are no good if you cannot offer a better solution.

i understand, and have been told that many times. i think, however, that in the current situation, demanding solutions is a luxury we can’t afford. first we have to think seriously and realistically about the situation before we can come up with solutions.

indeed, it’s precisely this demand for solutions that contributed so much to getting into our current predicament. rushing to solutions that policy-makers hoped would work (positive-sum, marshall-plan, land-for-peace type solutions), we systematically ignored all evidence that they wouldn’t work, then didn’t work, indeed even ignoring that they’ve blown up in our face — in this conflict, right now, concession produces violence.

so we won’t find real solutions if we don’t do more reality testing (ie shed our liberal cognitive egocentrism, pay real attention to what’s going on on the other side, and learn to identify and isolate demopaths).

what solutions will emerge for clearly seeing and acknowledging the realities (which in good post-modern style, i will grant you are mutliple and variegated), will only emerge over time. if you won’t move off your current paradigm till you have a solution in sight for this problem, you will go nowhere.

In Israel today the situation is as follows: If there is no peace deal between Israel and the palestinians, the settlements will gradualy expand to the point that a two state solution will become impossible.

i don’t know why you say that. i really doubt any serious settlements are going up in the middle of clearly palestinian areas. most activity (as far as i know — and i’ll accept correction/rectification on this — are areas that a reasonable palestinian negotiating team will agree belongs under israeli sovereignty (e.g., maale adumim, gush etzion).

in any case, this is not what i would call an axiom, so much as it is an acceptance of the current palestinian negotiating stance as immutable — ie the settlements are the reason why there’s not been a 2-state solution yet (eg why Oslo failed), and they all have to go. so if the settlements grow, it’s all over. i don’t accept any of these positions or suppositions as either “fact” or justified.

At that point the palestinians will demand citizenship and Israel will have the choice of apatheid or a democracy that is dominated by the soon to be arab majority.

your very language suggests the degree to which your thinking has been taken over by others. by any sane rules of the democratic game, the “palestinians” have no right to demand citizenship and the israelis are under no moral obligation to grant either to them.

over the last 60 years, the palestinian leadership has pursued policies, both internal and external, that are so profoundly anti-democratic that the current palestinian population, especially the generation raised by the post-Oslo leadership (Fatah and Hamas), are radically incapable of sustaining a democracy among themselves much less participating in one created and maintained with great energy and immense risk, by the israelis.

the only reasoning that this kind of idiotic thinking — that the israelis must grant citizenship to the palestinians if they don’t “give them” their own state — is so fashionable is the result of a combination of incredibly superficial political thinking (along the lines of “hamas was elected, so it must be a democracy/israel, if it wants to be a democracy, can’t insist on being a jewish state”) and really nasty anti-zionism (make them swallow the indigestible palestinians either as citizens or as sovereign neighbors and watch them die a long and painful death).

(i know some of my commentators here will point out that i’ve just “combined” two expressions of the same thing — nasty anti-zionism. and i must confess that the superficiality of most political science right now is so breath-taking that it demands explanation, and that anti-zionism and its siamese twin anti-semitism are major candidates. but i’d like to at least allow the possibility that not every intelligent idiot is a scoundrel. there are genuine dupes of demopaths who, if they realized their folly and confronted the dangers, would change their mind.) Time to swallow the red pill.

Waltzing with Wolves: Rosenthal vs. Goldman on the meaning of the film

An interesting exchange in the pages of PJMedia on the meaning of Waltzing with Bashir, academy-award nominated for best foreign film. First John Rosenthal savages the movie in a two-part article, then Lisa Goldman returned the favor by savaging Rosenthal. Then Rosenthal responded.

Lots of critical themes here, including the meaning of depicting the Israelis engaged in activities that feed the already over-heated imagination of so many around the world.

Comments welcome. Please note if you’ve seen the movie or not. I haven’t yet.

La Gauche est mort, mais elle ne s’en est pas encore aperçue: Luc Rosenzweig decortique ce grand cadavre à la renverse

Quand j’ai commencé à travailler le dossier al Durah, j’ai rencontré une personnalité extraordinaire, Luc Rosenzweig, ancien journaliste au Monde, et l’auteur, entre autres essais, de Lettre à mes amis propalestiniens, un argument puissant contre la folie d’une gauche qui soutient des fascistes juste parce qu’ils sont des palestiniens.

Il vient d’écrire un article sur la mort de la gauche qui ne cède rien à la vanité de ces gens qui se prennent comme l’avant-garde morale du monde (et donc, déteste surtout les juifs, leurs concurrents).

C’était la Gauche
Quand c’est fini, c’est fini

18 février 2009
Luc Rosenzweig

Le “Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure” de bon nombre de Françaises et de Français à la recherche de leur temps perdu pourrait bientôt être : “Longtemps, j’ai voté à gauche…” Les plus talentueux pourront alors commencer à évoquer dans la forme artistique de leur choix un monde disparu, pour le plus grand plaisir esthétique des générations futures.

La gauche est en train de sortir de l’Histoire, mais on la retrouvera, à coup sûr dans les romans, au cinéma, en BD, objet de mémoire et de thèses universitaires. Constater son décès n’est pas chose facile: son cœur a cessé de battre, son cerveau de fonctionner, ses poings de frapper, mais elle passe encore pour vivante dans les lieux où s’élaborent les représentations – instituts de sondages, IEP, services politiques des grands médias.

Je dirai plutôt que son coeur bat plus fort, moins son cerveau fonctionne.

gaza war protest
Gaza War protest San Francisco, January 2009. Photo Zombietime.

Et pourtant, tout observateur un peu attentif de la vie politique et intellectuelle de l’Europe et de ses dépendances devrait s’apercevoir que nous sommes en train de changer de paradigme.

La coïncidence du binôme sociologique dominant/dominé avec le binôme politique droite/gauche n’a certes jamais été totale, mais elle a tout de même permis, aussi imparfaite soit-elle, de structurer de manière plutôt satisfaisante la vie politique, et sociale et intellectuelle des démocraties au XXe siècle. Chacun la déclinait à sa manière, latine, scandinave ou britannique pour le plus grand bonheur des classes moyennes.

On lui doit une prospérité sans précédent, le développement inégalé dans l’Histoire des libertés publiques et individuelles, la protection collective contre les aléas de la vie, et surtout la fin de la guerre civile intra-européenne.

Ce modèle a néanmoins échoué à s’imposer à l’échelle mondiale : on serait bien en mal de distinguer où se situent la gauche et la droite, ou même le milieu, dans les régimes autoritaires et/ou corrompus qui sévissent dans la majorité des pays siégeant à l’ONU. Adversaire, puis régulatrice du capitalisme, la gauche n’est plus aujourd’hui que spectatrice d’un monde qu’elle a d’abord renoncé à changer, puis à comprendre.

Introduction to Bob Simon: Criticism welcome

Here’s the text of remarks I plan to make introducing Simon’s 60-Minutes piece. Suggestions welcome.

We’re about to examine Bob Simon’s lamely titled piece: “Is Time Running out for the Two-State Solution?”

Scientists would consider repeating failed experiments without learning from their mistakes irrational, and repeating experiments that blow up in your face, folly. Alas, that’s precisely what Simon invites us to do by restating all the failed assumptions that guided the previous peace-making experiemnts as if they were axiomatic truths:

• that to achieve a peaceful 2-state solution, Israel must retreat to the 1967 border
• that a Palestinian state has to be free of Jews and therefore Israel must dismantle all the settlements
• that the Palestinians would accept this withdrawl as sufficient for a real peace
• that the settlers are religious fanatics, the primary obsactle to peace
• that the “humiliating” checkpoints and separate roads are the product of Israeli land greed rather than a response to Palestinian terror
• that one can safely ignore the fanatic terrorism of the Palestinian camp, including the teaching of hatred that pervades their media
• that Israel has only three choices: full retreat, apartheid occupation or ethnic cleansing

In so doing he repeatedly misrepresents reality, disguises critical dimensions of the problem, exaggerates those that support his argument, and in the end, creates a perception that endangers:

• Israel, to whom he advises concessions that have consistently resulted in violence

• Palestinians, who will remain in the grip of a self-destructive fanatic leadership which he refuses to expose

• And, ultimately, the West, which, so badly misled, is likely to pursue policies that will benefit global Jihad and paralyze democratic defenses.

Inevitably, one must ask, is this intellectually dishonest, and if so, is it deliberate. We invite you to make up your own mind as we fisk this remarkable piece of “investigative journalism.”

What’s Wrong with the MSM on Gaza: James Kirchick details the dysfunctional thinking

James Kirchick has an excellent piece in City Journal about how some commentators minimize the threat that Hamas poses to Israel. This is actually part of a larger, and extremely dangerous tendency among the intelligentsia in the West to downplay the threat of global Jihad, and I think one of the major dimensions to this “policitically correct” moral and intellectual insanity derive from a seemingly irrepressible desire to dump on Israel. The only way to make Israeli responses disproportionate is to make Hamas and other Palestinian and Arab (Hizbullah) provocations slight. As soon as one recognizes the dangers of Jihad, then it becomes so much harder to crack down on Israel’s disproporionate responses.

I know some of the people cited in this article are intellectual lightweights — as their quotations indicate — but they’re widely read lightweights. What to do?

James Kirchick
Downplaying Hamas
The persistence of rationalizing terrorism against Israel
18 February 2009

Whenever Israel responds to terrorist attacks, it can rely on international bureaucrats, liberal politicians, and humanitarian aid groups to criticize the Jewish state for its “disproportionate” response. The reaction to Operation Cast Lead—launched in late December after three years of incessant rocket attacks on Israeli population centers—has been even harsher than the reaction to Israel’s response to the Second Intifada of the early 2000s. Back then, Palestinian terrorism’s preferred method was dispatching suicide bombers to buses and cafés. The carnage these attacks wrought, visible almost daily, made Israel’s case for self-defense more reasonable in the eyes of Americans who had recently witnessed the immolation of 3,000 of their own countrymen.

When Israel erected a security fence and imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip following its withdrawal from the territory in 2005, Palestinian terrorists had to find other means of killing Jews. Hamas chose crude rockets, which, while occasionally injuring and even killing Israeli civilians, were not nearly as lethal as men detonating themselves in crowded shopping malls. Because of this supposed asymmetry in the metrics of the decades-old Arab-Israel conflict, commentators from around the world have declared Israel’s response to Hamas’s provocations “disproportionate.” Yet the attempt to downplay the significance of Hamas terrorism and the expectation that Israel not respond militarily obscure the real suffering of individual Israelis, as well as the strategic cost to Israel of unanswered aggression.

In order to make the “disproportionate” argument, Israel’s critics must first minimize the threat that Israel responded to in the first place. “Before proceeding, let me state that the Gaza rocket attacks are human rights crimes, and Israel has the right to defend itself,” Mother Jones writer David Corn wrote—before proceeding to explain why Israel didn’t have a right to defend itself: “But that does not mean that in retaliation for about a dozen deaths caused by the rockets from 2004 on, the Israeli Defense Force ought to blow up schools and hospitals in Gaza and kill scores of civilians.” Note how casually Corn dismisses the cold-blooded and unprovoked murder of 12 innocent people, as if they were expendable in the greater quest for a nonexistent “peace process” with a terrorist organization constitutionally committed to Israel’s destruction. Note, too, that Corn neglects to mention that the Israeli military takes great pains to avoid civilian casualties. Israel does so not only on moral grounds, but because it understands that too many people like Corn eagerly await the next opportunity to hold it to an outrageous double standard.

Taqiyya: A brief analysis by Stuart Green

In the comment thread of another post, a former student of mine who has completed a thesis for the National Defense Intelligence College. For an abstract and table of contents, see here. Below, a discussion of a critical issue in the world of intelligence in both senses of the word, the Muslim principle of Taqiyya.

TAQIYYA

Do Arab Muslims lie on the same order of magnitude and for the same purposes? Are they prohibited by tradition from lying in all the same circumstances as Westerners? Although there is overlap in the two cultures’ approaches to lying, there is also great divergence. During brief service in Iraq in 2004, for instance, I noticed most of the translators working for a particular unit were not Muslim, as one would expect, but Assyrian Christian—an Iraqi minority whose dwindling percentage is in the single digits. When the author asked why this was so, a unit interrogator explained that, based on experience, they had determined the Christian translators were more reliable and less prone to deceit.[1] Why did the Muslim translators lie? Moreover, why did they lie to protect individuals associated a regime despised as much locally as internationally?

In this case, as in many others, the answers at least partially rest in the religious duties of all Muslims. According to the faith, it is anathema for Muslims to be ruled by or even allied with non-Muslims. Koran 3:28 clearly states, “The believers should not make disbelievers their allies rather than other believers….”[2] As discussed in a previous section, it is doctrinally vital to protect a fellow Muslim before aiding non-believers, no matter how hateful the Muslim’s character or reputation. Although it may seem counter-productive to the Western mind, it has also been traditionally accepted that Muslim tyranny is better than anarchy or disorder. Thus, in the Iraqi context as in many others, the honorable end of community defense legitimizes and necessitates deceiving non-Muslim employers.

The practice is effectively codified in the Shiite doctrine of taqiyya, or dissimulation. Most Islamic doctrine that allows for dissimulation finds its roots in Koran 16:106, “Any one who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters Unbelief, except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in Faith… theirs will be a dreadful chastisement.”[3] The Shiites developed this historically defensive (though that aspect clearly varies) practice over the course of many persecuted generations, and their Sunni brethren often deride them for it. The Sunni, however, are by no means purists when it comes to truth-telling. One classical Sunni jurist stated, “If anyone is compelled and professes unbelief with his tongue while his heart contradicts him, in order to escape his enemies, no blame falls on him….”[4] In at least the Shafi’i school of Islamic jurisprudence, it is considered prudent to lie for an honorable objective when telling the truth would be detrimental to the cause.

… Scholars say that there is no harm in giving a misleading impression if required by an interest countenanced by Sacred Law that is more important than not misleading the person being addressed, or if there is a pressing need which could not otherwise be fulfilled except through lying.[5]

According to the same school, one is not encouraged, but required to lie if the honorable objective cannot be achieved by telling the truth. Honorable objectives can include smoothing over relations with one’s wife, settling disagreements, or most honorably, defending Muslims against unjust (infidel) authorities. Interestingly, one may also lie if the particular sin, such as fornication or drinking, affects only the individual and is known only to him and Allah.

…if a ruler asks one about a wicked act one has committed that is solely between oneself and Allah Most High ([if] it does not concern the rights of another), in which case one is entitled to disclaim it, such as by saying, ‘I did not commit fornication,’ or ‘I did not drink.’[6]

There is a seemingly inexhaustible supply of anecdotal evidence demonstrating the prevalence of Muslim lying, particularly in the midst of war, some of which will be explored in chapter seven. The analytical quandary, of course, is that one can easily say the same about Western lying. Those feeling uncomfortable with a comparison between the two cultures will again assert that, “we do it too,” and again, this is at least partially true. Sissela Bok explores the Western aspects of the practice in great depth. She recounts the absolute philosophical positions of Immanuel Kant and St. Augustine, both of whom believed all lies are abhorrent but differed in their practical approaches, and she contrasts them with the ethics of Machiavelli and Nietzsche, where “violence and deceit are portrayed with bravado and exultation.”[7] She notes a well-known Catholic textbook that advises doctors to deceive seriously ill patients, and she describes numerous other pragmatic examples paralleling the Islamic positions outlined above. Even Martin Luther rhetorically asked,

What harm would it do, if a man told a good strong lie for the sake of the good and for the Christian church[…] a lie out of necessity, a useful lie, a helpful lie, such lies would not be against God, he would accept them.[8]

I believe there is a difference in the volume of lies between the two cultures, but it is impossible to systematically exhaust the supply of anecdotes on either side. Additionally, any quantitative studies of deception—if there are indeed any—run the risk of being corrupted by the very phenomenon they seek to explore.

An honest intellectual must therefore consider two qualitative points. Is there a difference in societal approval for the lies? Is there a difference in the philosophical or religious sanction for the lies? Societal derision for Yasser Arafat’s frequent and profound lies about peace with Israel was virtually non-existent in the Muslim world, while a U.S. president was impeached for lying about a personal affair (examples of Arafat’s tactics in the context of cognitive warfare will be given in the following chapters). In contrast, even Bok noted in an updated preface to her book, that a raging debate about the ethics of lying and dishonesty had erupted in the U.S. during the 1980s.

I can no longer subscribe, therefore, to the claim I made in the Introduction, that [the issue of lying has] received extraordinarily little contemporary analysis. Questions of truthfulness and deception are now taken up in classrooms as in the media and in scholarly literature. Codes of ethics, such as the 1980 “Principles of Medical Ethics” of the American Medical Association, have incorporated clauses stressing honesty.[9]

If he’s not Jewish, maybe he’s a right wing fanatic… Sowell on Gaza

I made some remarks in a post about an op-ed piece by Harold Jacobson that it’s hard to find non-Jews who will come to Israel’s defense these days, so I’m posting one by Thomas Sowell.

thomas sowell
Thomas Sowell

He isn’t likely to be mistaken for a Jew, so if he’s going to side with Israel, he must be a right-wing fanatic, right?

Pretty Talk and Ugly Realities

No phrase represents more of a triumph of hope over experience than the phrase “Middle East peace process.” A close second might be the once-fashionable notion that Israel should “trade land for peace.”

Since everybody seems to be criticizing Israel for its military response to the rockets being fired into their country from the Gaza strip, let me add my criticisms as well. The Israelis traded land for peace, but they have never gotten the peace, so they should take back the land.

Maybe a couple of generations of Palestinians in Gaza living in peace under Israeli occupation and a couple of generations of the occupation troops squelching the terrorists— “militants” for those of you who are squeamish— would set up conditions where the Palestinians would be free to vote on whether they would like to remain occupied or to have their own state— minus terrorists and their rockets.

Casualty totals alone should be enough to show that the Palestinian people are the biggest losers from the current situation, where the terrorists among them, firing rockets into Israel, can bring devastating retaliatory strikes.

Why don’t the Palestinians vote for some representatives who would make a lasting peace with Israel? Because any such candidates would be killed by the terrorists long before election day, so nobody volunteers for that dangerous role.

We don’t know what the Palestinians really want— and won’t know as long as they are ruled by Hamas, Hezbollah and the like.

Whatever the benefits of peace for the Palestinian population, what are the terrorists going to do in peacetime? Become librarians and furniture salesmen?

So-called “world opinion” has been a largely negative factor in this situation. Nothing is easier than for people living in peace and safety in Paris or Rome to call for a “cease fire” after the Israelis retaliate against people who are firing rockets into their country.

The time to cease fire was before the rockets were fired.

What do calls for “cease fire” and “negotiations” do? They lower the price of launching attacks.

This is true not only in the Middle East but in other parts of the world as well.

Read the rest.

To find out more about Thomas Sowell and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com. Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305. His Web site is www.tsowell.com.

60 Minutes on the expiring “Two-State” Solution: Invitation to a fisking

I have begun doing some video fisking which we are calling “Dialogues with the Media.” For the first examples, see here. I’ll be putting up some shortly, one on Annie Lennox, another on a CNN interview with Diana Buttu, and a third on a BBC with Hamas official Mahmud al Zahar. In the meantime, one of the major cases I’m looking into is the CBS piece by Bob Simon entitled “Time Running out for a Two-State Solution?” In preparing it, I welcome comments from readers on what they suggest I say in response to this piece (as well as links to others who have already critiqued it). Remember, in video fisking, the comments have to be as succinct as possible.

Below is the transcript.

Time Running Out For A Two-State Solution?
Jan. 25, 2009

(CBS) Getting a peace deal in the Middle East is such a priority to President Obama that his first foreign calls on his first day in office were to Arab and Israeli leaders. And on day two, the president made former Senator George Mitchell his special envoy for Middle East peace. Mr. Obama wants to shore up the ceasefire in Gaza, but a lasting peace really depends on the West Bank where Palestinians had hoped to create their state. The problem is, even before Israel invaded Gaza, a growing number of Israelis and Palestinians had concluded that peace between them was no longer possible, that history had passed it by. For peace to have a chance, Israel would have to withdraw from the West Bank, which would then become the Palestinian state.

It’s known as the “two-state” solution. But, while negotiations have been going on for 15 years, hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers have moved in to occupy the West Bank. Palestinians say they can’t have a state with Israeli settlers all over it, which the settlers say is precisely the idea.

Tzipi Livny goes “Middle-Eastern”: Celebrates victory proleptically

Tzipi Livny held a victory celebration last night. Here’s a picture of her triumphant mood.

tzipi celebrates
Israeli Foreign Minister and Kadima party leader Tzipi Livni celebrates with supporters during a rally in Tel Aviv, Tuesday, Feb 17, 2009. Livni’s Kadima Party edged out Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud in Israel’s election, winning 28 seats to his 27. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

The Balad party feels that “if Israel doesn’t become part of this region, it will have no future.” Well, here’s Tzipi behaving on the same honor-shame paradigm that had Hamas celebrate its victory over Israel in Operation Cast Lead.


Hamas celebrates victory as UN chief visits Gaza and condemns Israeli War Crimes

“If I act as if I won, maybe that will convince people I did, and then President Peres will give me the nod in forming a government.”

As the AP photographer, Sebastian Scheiner, noted dryly in his caption:

She delivered a victory speech and has been actively pursuing potential coalition partners. But in reality, Livni’s only concrete chance of being in the government is in a power-sharing arrangement with her rival.

The Stuff of Nightmares: Obama Administration (Samantha Power) and Durban II

I had an argument last night with a friend about the US sending a delegation to the preliminary discussions for Durban II. I argued that it’s better for Obama to go, see what’s there, and walk away, than not to show up at all. He argued that this is a disastrous first step to participating. Gerald Steinberg, who knows more about this than most anyone on the planet comments on how this is a high-stakes gamble. Anne Bayevsky’s report, alas, suggests that we’re going to lose this one big time.

A Foreign Policy of Obsequiousness

Yesterday in Geneva, President Obama unveiled the new look of America’s foreign policy — obsequiousness. It was Day One for his emissaries to the U.N. planning committee of the Durban II conference. This is the racist “anti-racism” bash to be held in Geneva in April. The U.S. and Israel walked out of the first go-round in Durban, South Africa in September 2001. Ever since, the U.S. government has refused to lend any credibility to the Declaration adopted after they left. That is, until yesterday.

U.S. representatives were addressing a human-rights negotiating committee with an executive consisting of a Libyan chair, an Iranian vice-chair, and a Cuban rapporteur. Russian Yuri Boychenko was presiding over Monday’s “human rights” get-together. Before them was a draft document which participants plan to adopt in finished form at the conference itself. The draft now contains mountains of offensive references to limits on free speech, anti-Israel and anti-Jewish provisions, and incendiary allegations of the victimization of Muslims at the hands of counter-terrorism racists.

Here is how the American delegates responded to a proposal they understood was incompatible with U.S. interests (“Brackets” denote withholding approval at any given moment in time.): “I hate to be the cause of unhappiness in the room . . . I have to suggest this phrase remains in brackets and I offer my sincere apologies.”

Having watched U.N. meetings for the past 25 years, I can’t remember a U.S. representative in a public session so openly obsequious, particularly in the presence of such specious human rights authorities. And yet the U.S. delegates appear happy to be there and convey the marching orders of their new commander-in-chief.

Unfortunately, while Obama’s calling the tunes, items like freedom of expression are being rearranged. On the table was a provision which “Calls on States to ensure that lawmakers discharge their responsibilities in conformity with . . . article 4 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination . . . ” What did the American delegation have to say about that? Among other things they proposed: “add after article 4, ‘and 5(d)(viii) of the Racial Discrimination Convention.’”

Flashback to 1994. The United States Senate imposed a reservation on U.S. ratification of the Racial Discrimination Convention concerning article 4 because it restricts free speech. Article 4 aims to limit incitement to racial hatred, but is open to an interpretation in direct conflict with the First Amendment.

Obama’s delegation, however, did not object to the proposal to ensure lawmakers adhere to article 4. Instead, they suggested adding a reference to another part of the Racial Discrimination Convention that guarantees an equal right to freedom of expression regardless of race. This idea does not in any way meet the Senate’s command to ensure that the Constitution trumps the treaty in matters of free speech.

There is no escape from Durban II — at least with our vital principles intact.

On Monday, President Obama’s decision to wander into the Durban II sinkhole also raised concerns in the Jewish community. In deciding to attend the planning session, Obama had ignored the direct plea from Israel’s Foreign Minister to stay away, along with Israel and Canada. Instead, on Monday the President sent reassuring messages via phone calls from senior White House and State Department officials.

According to reports, these officials claimed “that Washington’s decision to participate in the conference was being coordinated with the Israeli government.” That would be true — if “coordination” meant announcing hours in advance that the United States intended to do the opposite of what had been requested.

Jewish leaders were also told that the U.S. presence was “an effort to change the direction of the conference.” Apparently, someone in the administration forgot to read the map. The conference objectives have already been unanimously agreed to by all participants, including the European Union. Objective number one is to “foster the implementation of the Durban Declaration” — the same one that claims Israelis are racists, in fact, the only racists U.N. member states could recall. Those directions aren’t going to be changed. On the contrary, the opening words of the Durban II document — also already accepted by consensus — read “reaffirming the Durban Declaration.” Change you can’t believe in, again.

Overall, on Day One, U.N. members were delighted by the new administration’s timidity. And they know exactly how to ensure those promises of change continue. In an entire day of a four-day meeting, they reviewed only 11 of the 140 paragraphs. The next set of meetings will be in April right before the conference itself. By the time somebody begins to suspect it might not change, it will all be over, in more ways than one.

— Anne Bayefsky is a senior fellow with the Hudson Institute and at Touro College, New York.

There are few developments I can think of that are more catastrophic than this. Omri Ceren has a particularly astute post on this, with a challenge to Marty Peretz, whose support for Obama — and Samantha Power — included his certainty that this would not happen.

As for the involvement of Samantha Power, see here.

UPDATE: The story just keeps getting worse: US Durban II Double Cross

Just below the “Criticism” of Israel

Interesting piece in the Independent. Too bad non-Jews can’t make this case.

Howard Jacobson: Let’s see the ‘criticism’ of Israel for what it really is

Emotions have run high over recent events in Gaza. And in this impassioned and searching essay, our writer argues that just below the surface runs a vicious strain of ancient prejudice

Wednesday, 18 February 2009
The language of protesters ‘determines the issue before it can be discussed’

I was once in Melbourne when bush fires were raging 20 or 30 miles north of the city. Even from that distance you could smell the burning. Fine fragments of ash, like slivers of charcoal confetti, covered the pavements. The very air was charred. It has been the same here these past couple of months with the fighting in Gaza. Only the air has been charred not with devastation but with hatred. And I don’t mean the hatred of the warring parties for each other. I mean the hatred of Israel expressed in our streets, on our campuses, in our newspapers, on our radios and televisions, and now in our theatres.

A discriminatory, over-and-above hatred, inexplicable in its hysteria and virulence whatever justification is adduced for it; an unreasoning, deranged and as far as I can see irreversible revulsion that is poisoning everything we are supposed to believe in here – the free exchange of opinions, the clear-headedness of thinkers and teachers, the fine tracery of social interdependence we call community relations, modernity of outlook, tolerance, truth. You can taste the toxins on your tongue.

But I am not allowed to ascribe any of this to anti-Semitism. It is, I am assured, “criticism” of Israel, pure and simple. In the matter of Israel and the Palestinians this country has been heading towards a dictatorship of the one-minded for a long time; we seem now to have attained it. Deviate a fraction of a moral millimetre from the prevailing othodoxy and you are either not listened to or you are jeered at and abused, your reading of history trashed, your humanity itself called into question. I don’t say that self-pityingly. As always with dictatorships of the mind, the worst harmed are not the ones not listened to, but the ones not listening. So leave them to it, has essentially been my philosophy. A life spent singing anti-Zionist carols in the company of Ken Livingstone and George Galloway is its own punishment.

I’m assuming that Howard Jacobson is a Jew, and running into the post-2000 phenomenon that struck so many Jews who had the nerve to defend Israel even minimally in the wake of the Muhammad al Durah blood libel. Non-identified Jews solicited the consistent comment, “I didn’t know you were Jewish,” and non-Jews ran into the same comment:

People who didn’t know me would say “I didn’t know you were Jewish, Richard.” I’d say “I’m not.” And they’d say “Well why are you doing this?” But that’s ridiculous. If I was making a film about cot death, people wouldn’t assume I had lost a child to cot death. If I was making a film about Islamophobia, nobody would say “We didn’t know you were a Muslim.” But there is this assumption that anti-Semitism is something that’s just made up by the Jews, and nobody else would ever really pay any attention to it.

There’s both the evidence of mental dictatorship, and the paralysis of the West in the face of Jihadi anti-semitism.

British Politeness trumps sanity… one more step on the path to Dhimmitude

Neo-Con Latina has a post: “Queen of England: “Long Live the Iranian Revolution” which cites the Queen of England’s warm greetings to the Iranian regime in honor of the 30th anniversary of the regime which, among other things, shattered English sovereignty by putting out a fatwa on an English writer — Salman Rushdie. (H/T: oao)

Queen Elizabeth’s message to the Iranian people (09/02/2009)

    It gives me great pleasure to send the people of the Islamic Republic of Iran my warmest greetings on the celebration of your National Day, together with my best wishes for good fortune and happiness in the coming year.

What’s up with these Royals? We all know that Prince Charles may have already converted to Islam. I wonder how many other Royals are practicing Muslims?

Of course, the pro-fascist stance of the British Royal Family is nothing new. During WWII, King Edward VIII met with Hitler and did the full Nazi salute. Here is a picture of this disgraceful meeting:

nazi windsors

And even the regular politicians in England are now giving me the heebie-jeebies. For example, I still don’t know what to make of the Koran-reading, Mohamed-loving Tony Blair. And the former mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, is openly anti-Semitic and enthusiastically pro-Hamas. Is it any wonder that England just banned Geert Wilders from entering the country because he dared to criticize Islam?

There’s a reason they call it “Londonistan.”

I’m sure the good Queen is trying to be helpful, and thereby embodies the very insanity of Western misplaced good intentions. This will, like the picture above, go down in history as one more step on the path to British suicide.

Arab disappointment with Obama: The Musings of an Unconscious Demopath

The New York Times offers its op-ed pages to Alaa al Aswany, an Egyptian writer, author of The Yacoubian Building and Chicago. He voices his profound disappointment at Obama’s silence on Gaza. What we get is the musings of a (possibly) unconscious demopath, whose lack of self-awareness transpires in almost every complaint to which he gives voice.

We hear the voice of a self-identified moderate, who would like Egypt and the Arab world to have democracies, and a good relationship with the US and Obama, but when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict, continues to pursue the zero-sum politics that have given the Arab world its current unfortunate contours. As the Fable de la Fontaine goes, “celui-ci ne voyait pas plus loin que son nez” [he doesn't see farther than his nose].

As a result, he vehiculates (to translate from the French) a message that says, “side with me on the Israeli-Arab issue, or you’ll never have any purchase in the Arab street.” It’s only a slightly milder version of what long-term hard-line advocates for the Palestinian cause are saying. The result — the classic invitation (à la Walt-Mearsheimer) to a Eurabian foreign policy.

Why the Muslim World Can’t Hear Obama

By ALAA AL ASWANY
Published: February 7, 2009
Cairo

PRESIDENT OBAMA is clearly trying to reach out to the Muslim world. I watched his Inaugural Address on television, and was most struck by the line: “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers.” He gave his first televised interview from the White House to Al Arabiya, an Arabic-language television channel.

But have these efforts reached the streets of Cairo?

One would have expected them to. Mr. Obama had substantial support among Egyptians — more than any other American presidential candidate that I can remember. I traveled to America several days before the election. The Egyptians I met in the United States told me — without exception — that they backed Mr. Obama. Many Egyptians I know went to his Web site and signed up as campaign supporters.

In Cairo, which is seven hours ahead of Washington, some people I know stayed up practically all night waiting for the election results. When Mr. Obama won, newspapers here described Nubians — southerners whose dark skin stands out in Cairo — dancing in victory.

The implication here is that this Egyptian support for Obama represented the awakening of democratic forces in the Arab world which Obama would be a fool to waste by not responding. But what if the hopes he aroused had nothing to do with democratic sentiments, but rather everything from “Nubian pride” [which one imagines must be charged emotions in a society as racist as Egypt] to Arab hopes that the Obama would help them with their Israel hang-up by siding with them and pressure Israel to weaken itself. Disappointing these hopes is hardly Obama’s responsibility, and the implication that he’s to blame suggests that for Mr. al Aswany, Egyptians don’t have to mature, Obama has to indulge their passions.

Our admiration for Mr. Obama is grounded in what he represents: fairness. He is the product of a just, democratic system that respects equal opportunity for education and work. This system allowed a black man, after centuries of racial discrimination, to become president.

This fairness is precisely what we are missing in Egypt.

That is why the image of President-elect Obama meeting with his predecessors in the White House was so touching. Here in Egypt, we don’t have previous or future presidents, only the present head of state who seized power through sham elections and keeps it by force, and who will probably remain in power until the end of his days. Accordingly, Egypt lacks a fair system that bases advancement on qualifications. Young people often get good jobs because they have connections. Ministers are not elected, but appointed by the president. Not surprisingly, this inequitable system often leads young people to frustration or religious extremism. Others flee the country at any cost, hoping to find justice elsewhere.

Now there’s a fair piece of self-criticism, but apparently what is sauce for the goose (Mubarak) is not sauce for the gander (Hamas). His sense of fairness, apparently so rudely violated by his own president, has profound limits when applied outside the tribe to either to Israel or to Obama for not condemning her. So behind the “fairness” talk, actually lies a demopathic demand for the opposite — side with the people whose attitude towards the Israeli “other” could not conceivably be more unfair.

Breath of the Beast analyzes Bill Moyers’ Problems with Honor-Shame and Moral Relativism

Excellent and thoughtful post at Breath of the Beast on the Bill Moyers affair. I cite only the conclusion as an appetizer, with its brilliant analogy to Julia Child and Hannibal Lecter. Read the whole essay.

Saint Bill or Accessory to Mass Murder? The Dilemma of the Morally Relativistic Media

[snip]

Then, finally, trusting that his double talk has rendered us so woozy and nauseated that we will be powerless to resist its authority, he flashes us the gold plated, jewel encrusted, richly engraved, plain-as-day badge of the hypocrite. He taunts Israel, saying that the slaughter of innocents he so deplores, “is exactly what Hamas wanted to happen.”

But, Mr. Moyers, a truly honest critic would have to ask why Hamas “wanted it” to happen. A real friend of reality, let alone Israel, would have to admit that a political/religious movement that intentionally incites violence against its own women and children for its own gain is an abomination — that is guilty of what amounts to human sacrifice. An honest man whether a critic or not would be compelled to admit that such a movement no more deserves equal respect with a modern, western, liberal democracy like Israel than Hannibal Lecter deserves to be compared with Julia Child.

Véronique Chemla analyse les effets de pogroms médiatiques

Véronique Chemla, une des reporteurs les plus dynamiques et consciencieuses du “nouveau style” (i.e., internet), analyse avec un souci d’exhaustivité les quasi-émeutes et manifestations dans les rues de Paris et de l’Europe lancées pendant l’opération Plomb Durci — ou plutôt par le pogrom médiatique de l’operation. Son but est d’abord de les décrire, et de montrer comment cette “rue arabe” défile de manière non spontanée, et parvient à imposer au monde ses diktats.

Véronique Chemla, one of the most conscientious and energetic of the “new journalists” in France has an extensive study of the near riots and demonstrations in the streets of Paris and the rest of Europe in response to Operation Cast Lead — or rather by the media pogrom that accompanied it. Her goal is to describe the phenomenon and then show how this “Arab Street” appears in non-spontaneous fashion, and manages to impose its will on the rest of the world.

Quand la « rue arabe » pro-palestinienne défile…
Par Véronique Chemla pour Guysen International News
Mardi 13 janvier 2009 à 22:49

Depuis le 27 décembre 2008, début de l’opération « Plomb durci » des Forces de défense israéliennes (FDI) contre le Hamas, des manifestations en soutien aux Gazaouis ou/et au Hamas, essentiellement composées de musulmans, se succèdent dans de nombreuses villes, de toutes tailles, sur tous les continents, avec d’étranges similarités dans la diabolisation, voire la haine d’Israël, peuple et Etat. On note aussi une recrudescence d’actes antisémites dans de nombreux pays. En France, une étape a été franchie le 3 janvier 2009 avec des émeutes en marge et en fin d’un défilé à Paris. Deux faits qui inquiètent les pouvoirs publics et la communauté juive français.

Lire la suite, avec son trésor de liens et references.