Monthly Archives: February 2009

Shmuel Trigano introduit le concepte heuristique de “Pogrom médiatique”

Du blog de Shmuel Trigano, un des grands penseurs français au sujet des problèmes médiatiques et de l’antisémitisme de nos jours, une méditation sur l’idée d’un pogrom médiatique (H/T: MS):

Le concept de « pogrom médiatique », malgré sa tonalité critique virulente, pourrait bien avoir une valeur heuristique intéressante pour comprendre certains des effets de la guerre de Gaza sur les pays d’Europe de l’Ouest et tout spécialement la société française. Il ne faudrait bien sûr pas l’entendre dans sa portée idéologique mais sociologique.

A quoi a-t-on assisté en effet avec la guerre de Gaza, comme avec la précédente guerre du Liban, ou la deuxième Intifada, sinon à un épisode d’extrême violence symbolique envers Israël, particulièrement effervescent par son émotionnalité, la virulence radicale de la condamnation, la stigmatisation, l’unanimité étrange d’un bout à l’autre du spectre politique ?

Le pogrom était un bref embrasement d’une population qui dévastait le quartier juif et tuait les Juifs. Point n’est le cas, heureusement mais, de fait, les Juifs se sentent déshonorés, méprisés, abandonnés, exclus, isolés dans leur environnement. Comme s’ils avaient été roués de coups réels. Ils le sont, certes, d’une certaine façon, par les agressions dont ils ont été la cible.

Le passage du symbole à l’acte s’est produit à travers de grandes et violentes manifestations, répétitives, organisées selon un plan manifestement prémédité d’envergure nationale, visant à créer une atmosphère d’émeutes. Des actes d’agression ont été perpétrés contre des Juifs mais c’est surtout leur personne symbolique qui a reçu des coups. La dignité et l’image de soi font aussi partie de la personne humaine qui n’est pas seulement corporelle. C’est elle qui a été la cible du pogrom médiatique. Et les traits qui l’ont frappée sont d’un genre unique. La morale et l’humanitarisme ont été fourbis comme des armes. Propres. Morales. Totales. Le discours de la cruauté d’Israël, mis en scène par le Hamas et les télévisions arabes, a été asséné soir et matin en crescendo de l’appel fébrile à sauver un peuple d’un génocide. A Gaza il n’y avait qu’une armée d’enfants, des hôpitaux, des réserves de vivres, des centrales électriques…

The Battle for Accuracy in the Media is Engaged: The IDF Weighs in on Casualty Figures

It may be four weeks later, but we now have some important information from the Israeli army on civilian casualty figures during Operation Cast Lead. They weigh in with a highly detailed report.

See Yaakov Katz: World duped by Hamas’s false civilian death toll figures
David Horovitz: Analysis: Counted out: Belatedly, the IDF enters the life-and-death numbers game
The Elder of Zion: The UNRWA school story was a lie

Basing its work on the official Palestinian death toll of 1,338, Levi said the CLA had now identified more than 1,200 of the Palestinian fatalities. Its 200-page report lists their names, their official Palestinian Authority identity numbers, the circumstances in which they were killed and, where appropriate, the terrorist group with which they were affiliated.

The CLA said 580 of these 1,200 had been conclusively “incriminated” as members of Hamas and other terrorist groups.

Another 300 of the 1,200 – women, children aged 15 and younger and men over the age of 65 – had been categorized as noncombatants, the CLA said.

In other words, in terms of identifiable dead according to this report, two-thirds were valid targets of the assault, one-third collateral damage. This is the opposite of the impression given by the claims of the PCHR:

While the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, whose death toll figures have been widely cited, reports that 895 Gaza civilians were killed in the fighting, amounting to more than two-thirds of all fatalities, the IDF figures shown to the Post on Sunday put the civilian death toll at no higher than a third of the total.

The implications here are enormous, particularly given the vast expressions of hatred of Jews and Israelis that the MSM coverage of this conflict — what Shmuel Trigano called a “media progrom” — provoked around the world, much of it based on imagining and believing the damage caused to civilians was “absolute carnage.”

If, indeed, both in the specific figures now presented — two-thirds military death rate, rather than the two-thirds civilian mortality rate as reported by both Palestinian “human rights groups” and journalists — then the situation changes dramatically.

Actually, given how often the media told us that Gaza was the most densely-concentrated population in the world, and that an aerial attack could not help but cause great collateral damage to the civilians, we would expect a very high rate of civilian casualties. Perhaps one of the reasons that the Palestinian figures strike so many as reliable, is that they are actually fairly conservative in terms of collateral damage in aerial attacks on areas densey populated with civilians.

Turks demand an Apology from Israeli General: Down the Rabbit Hole of Turkish Honor

In one of the more darkly amusing incidents recently, the Turkish government has summoned the Israeli ambassodor and demanded an apology for the remarks of Major General Avi Mizrachi to the effect that Turkey should “look in the mirror” before criticizing Israel.

This was itself a response to Prime Minister Erdogan’s remark that “When it comes to killing, you [Israel] know killing very well. I know how you hit, kill children on the beaches.” [A reference, I suspect, to the Gaza Beach incident.]

Given that Turkey counts heavily on Israeli and American Jewish to cover up its role as the first nation in modern times to engage in a real genocide (1.5 million Armenians), and that their current record with the Kurds is less than savory, this really stands out as a remarkable combination of hypocrisy and sheer lack of self-awareness. Here’s a demopath who’s his own dupe.

How the demands of honor, combined with a bully’s sense of being in the position of strength, can make us behave like fools! (H/T: James Wald)

February 14, 2009 — Updated 0300 GMT (1100 HKT)

War of words between Israel and Turkey sparks formal complaint

ISTANBUL, Turkey (CNN) — Turkey’s Foreign Ministry summoned Israel’s ambassador to the Turkish capital of Ankara on Saturday to issue a formal complaint over a top Israeli commander’s reported remarks criticizing Turkey.

erdogan and peres at davos
Recep Tayyip Erdogan leaves the stage at a conference last month as Shimon Peres sits, left.

The complaint is part of the escalating war of words between the two regional allies, stemming from Turkey’s outspoken criticism of the recent conflict in Gaza.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said Saturday that it had requested an “urgent explanation” from Ambassador Gabby Levy for recent remarks reportedly made by a top Israeli military commander.

According to the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi told an international conference that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan should “look in the mirror” before criticizing Israel.

Mizrahi pointed to Turkey’s treatment of its long-oppressed Kurdish minority and the ongoing Turkish military occupation in northern Cyprus, Ha’aretz reported.

And, in a separate statement issued Saturday, the Turkish military called the Israeli general’s comments “unacceptable,” adding, “We expect the Israeli General Staff, which we think gives importance to relations with the Turkish Armed Forces, to clarify the issue.”

Erdogan objected to Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres’ passionate defense of Israel’s 22-day military operation in Gaza, which left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead. Thirteen Israelis, including 10 soldiers, were killed.

For the past decade, Turkey and Israel have enjoyed close military and economic ties. The Israeli military often conducts exercises around the Turkish city of Konya. Israeli tourists flock to Turkey’s Mediterranean Sea resorts, and bilateral trade has increased dramatically since Erdogan’s ruling AK Party first won national elections in 2002.

As a result, audience members were shocked last month when Erdogan lost his temper while participating in a panel discussion of the recent Gaza conflict in Davos.

Before storming off stage, Erdogan told the Israeli president, “When it comes to killing, you know killing very well. I know how you hit, kill children on the beaches.”

Erdogan has been unapologetic about his outburst. While campaigning for municipal elections to be held in Turkey next month, the prime minister told reporters that the results of Israel’s recent elections “painted a very dark picture” for the future of the region, Reuters reported

Why apologize when you think you are in the position of strength?

And, after laughing quietly at this folly, maybe Israeli and American Jewish leaders might consider how this is karma coming home to roost for not speaking out on the issue of the Armenian genocide. As the saying goes (in the land of the envious), no good turn goes unpunished.

On another level, it raises fundamental questions about whether honor-shame cultures can get out of their ruts. It would be relatively easy for modern, “secular” Turkey to blame the genocide on their Ottoman predecessors, and come clean about this terrible incident in their past. But they cannot. And so, incapable of dealing with the past, incapable of acting with integrity on the world stage, they are condemned to a position of permanent image-cripple, raging at anyone who dares mention the subject, even as they want to condemn others.

No way out of this but down: when you reach the bottom, keep digging.

Turkish Man writes to the Israeli Government: Defend yourself!

The following letter was written by a Turkish man to an Israeli government website. In it he mentions what a powerful grip the al Durah image had on his imagination, and what a revelation “Icon of Hatred” was for him. (The specific identity of the Youtube video is confirmed by my source for reasons I cannot go into because it would make it possible to identify the individual whose name I have removed to protect him.) I have not corrected his grammar and syntax in order to give a sense of the great effort he expended in writing this.

Here we have some of the great themes of mankind on display: independent intelligence, brotherhood between races and religions, a sense of gratitude for good deeds, the battle between malevolent propaganda and truth, and the importance of the one slandered to defend himself. What to challenge – granted it’s only a tiny minority – to the pessimism of a cynic.

Ah M. Peres, I do hope you see this.

Shalom From Turkey
Dear Sir or madam,
I am a 31 years old Turkish man
I do not want to take a risk or maybe advance my self by not showing my identity. So i am not posting via email. I just want to express my feelings.

All my life, there was always some hate to Israel in me. But i dont know why? In my country, it was always like a duty that everyone should hate Israel and their religion without any reason

Everyone hates israel here, but no one knows why. As usual, i grow up with this meaningless hate in me.

But i think, Turkey is not the only country like this. Most of non israilian people talks dirty against Israel. Its very common in all around the world.

But this is your fault. Because, when i hear the word “israel” always that scene comes to my mind. The scene that israel soldiers killed the son and his father on the wall.

And this year, god bless youtube (its banned in turkey) i see that it is a fake video. But i think only one in a million in Turkey knows this.

This is your goverments fault. You have to show the truth to the other people.

From my childhood, everynight i see an israel soldier beats a palestanian in news. Or shoots civilians etc etc. I realise the truths lately. But im sure millions of Turkey still dont realize

Maryam Wishahie, Demopathic Spokesman for Balad speaks with Yossi Klein Halevie

Yossi Klein Halevi has an important report from Acre on relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel. I have excerpted some comments on the dilemma all Israelis face in dealing with the new aggressiveness of Israeli-Arab identification with the Palestinians. In particular, I discuss the demopathic comments of Maryam Wishahie of the Arab Party Balad. Part of what one must keep in mind in reading these remarks is what James Scott would call the “hidden transcript” – that very few Israeli Arabs would willingly give up their Israeli citizenship and become part of a Palestinian state.

One of the real conundrums in the way most PCP folks think about the problem of Israeli democracy is the mistaken notion that somehow the Jewish nature of the state and democracy are mutually exclusive. On the contrary, from both a theoretical and practical point of view, democracy in Israel (and, so far, in the Middle East) is impossible without a Jewish majority. Alone of all the people in the Middle East to present, the Jews have been capable of establishing and maintaining a democracy – free press, free elections, independent judiciary, formal and practical commitment to human – especially women’s – rights.

As the concluding line in the Israeli national anthem goes: “To be a free people in our land…”

There are no Arabs or Muslims in the world who can claim that they are a “free people in our land” – either they are an unfree people in their land, or free individuals and communities in the lands of other people, including the Israeli Arabs who, whatever their disadvantages, are the freest Arabs in the Middle East.

Postcards from the Edge
Ground Zero Of Israel’s New Ultra-Nationalism.

Yossi Klein Halevi , The New Republic Published: February 13, 2009


I’ve come to Acre because promoting Arab Israeli equality and Arab-Jewish co-existence is my civic passion. I know how hard it is to separate the Arab Israeli issue from the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Israel’s Arabs are a unique minority: second-class within a Jewish majority, yet part of a regional majority hostile to Israel.

I would have phrased this “unique” status differently: “Although second class citizens in Israel by the highest democratic standards, they are still far better off, both economically and politically, than any of their fellow Arab commoners throughout the Arab world. Nonetheless, they are part of a regional majority hostile to Israel.

But Israel’s dilemma is unique as well. To be true to itself, Israel must remain a Jewish state responsible for Jews around the world, and a democratic state responsible for all its citizens, Jews and non-Jews.

What’s breaking down in Acre is the habit of decency that makes these insoluble paradoxes possible. Acre offers a scenario for the unraveling of Israeli society. Between Lieberman and Bishara there can be no shared identity. If Yisrael Beiteinu and Balad are our future, then Lieberman is right: The greatest threat to Israel’s existence comes from within.


Acre’s walled Old City, one of the country’s leading tourist sites, has an Arab market, an ancient port, and a vast underground Crusader-era fortress of tunnels and vaulted hallways. Acre was the last capital of the Crusaders before they were expelled from the Holy Land. And that past intrudes on Acre’s politics. Jews say Arabs see them as Crusaders, conquerors who will one day be expelled. “They say it half-jokingly,” says Yisrael Beiteinu’s Noiman, “but it isn’t a joke.”

One of the great mistakes people make is to go for the historical analogy that makes one feel best. It’s clearly a comfort to Arabs to imagine that the Israelis are like the crusaders, i.e., they’ll eventually be expelled. It was the ideology behind the “Intifada” – the “shaking off” of the Israeli fly by the Arab beast. The only problem is that Israel has far deeper roots here than the European crusaders.

Fatah, Hamas a Unity Government?

Note two things: 1) How (apparently) easy it is for Palestinians to forgive each other the most heinous crimes, whereas anything Israel does is, by definition, unforgiveable; and 2) how the perceptions of President Obama’s attitudes plays a role in this effort at “national unity.”

Feb 15, 2009 1:05 | Updated Feb 15, 2009 2:54
Hamas, Fatah try to form ‘unity gov’t’

In the first meeting of its kind in more than two years, senior Fatah and Hamas officials met in Cairo over the weekend to discuss ways of ending the power struggle between the two parties and forming a “national unity” government.

The meeting signals a change in the policy of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who until now had refused to talk to Hamas unless the movement ended its control over the Gaza Strip.

A PA official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post that the meeting was also the result of the change of government in the US. He noted that the previous administration of President George W. Bush was strongly opposed to any form of reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas.

Both Fatah and Hamas are under heavy pressure from many Palestinians and some Arab governments to end their differences and form a joint government in the aftermath of last month’s massive IDF operation in the Gaza Strip.

However, Abbas’s latest effort to iron out his differences with Hamas are opposed by some prominent figures, such as Yasser Abed Rabbo, a top PLO representative, and former Fatah security commander Muhammad Dahlan.

Nick Cohen discusses the impact of British Anti-semitism on his sense of identity

Nick Cohen, whose experience critiquing the “peace” rallies of 2003 for being war rallies in favor of global Jihad led to a turning point in his own political thinking, articulated in the brilliant What’s Left, responds to the further spread of anti-semitism in England.

Hatred is turning me into a Jew

From The Jewish Chronicle
Nick Cohen
February 12, 2009
The more the British Left indulges antisemitism, the more kosher I feel

My name is Nick Cohen, and I think I’m turning into a Jew. Despite being called “Cohen”, I’ve never been Jewish before. It’s not simply that I am an atheist. My Jewish friends tell me that it is hard to find an educated London Jew who is not an atheist, but that I have no connection with Jewish culture.

The Jewish side of my family is my father’s (which is not a help, I gather). My great grandparents fled from the Tsarist Empire at the time of the pogroms, but their son, my grandfather, revolted. He became a Communist and married outside the faith. My father was brought up with no connection to Judaism and, inevitably, so was I.

My sole interest in Jewish concerns came from being a left-wing opponent of the far Right, and the blood-soaked antisemitic superstitions which turned Europe into a graveyard. When I was young, such attitudes seemed unproblematic. You did not have to be a Jew to oppose fascism; everyone I knew did that regardless of colour or creed.

Today the old certainties have gone because there are two far-right movements: the white neo-Nazi parties that the Left still opposes; and the clerical fascists of radical Islam which, extraordinarily, the modern Left succours and indulges. I am not only talking about Ken Livingstone, George Galloway and their gruesome accomplices in the intelligentsia. Wider liberal society is almost as complicit. It does not applaud the Islamist far Right, but it will not condemn it either. From the broadcasters, through the liberal press, the Civil Service, the Metropolitan Police, the bench of bishops and the judiciary, antisemitism is no longer an unthinkable mental deformation. As long as the conspiracy theories of the counter-enlightenment come from ideologues with dark rather than white skins, nominally liberal men and women will not speak out.

Fight back and you become a Jew, whether you are or not. Mark Lawson recently described an argument at the BBC over the corporation’s decision not to screen the charity appeal for Gaza. His furious colleague declared that the only reason Lawson supported the ban was because he was Jewish. Lawson had to tell him that he was, in fact, raised a Catholic.

A furious Labour MP was no different when he told a colleague of mine that I had gone off the rails when I married a “hard-right” Jewish woman from North London. My friend replied that this would be news to my wife, a liberal Catholic from Stoke-on-Trent.

It was kind of him to point that out, but I would no longer protest that I wasn’t Jewish, and I don’t think Lawson should either. It is cowardly to stammer that you are not a Jew because you concede the racist’s main point — that there is something suspect about being Jewish — as you do it.

In any case, my experience of left-wing antisemitism has changed the way I think and made me, if you like, more Jewish.

Although I want to see every Israeli settlement on the West Bank dismantled, it was clear to me that when Hamas fired thousands of rockets into Israel it had declared war and had to accept the consequences. I would not have thought that five years ago.

You do not need me to add that mine is a minority point of view among liberals, and that British Jews are living through a very dangerous period. They are the only ethnic minority whose slaughter official society will excuse. If a mass murderer bombed a mosque or black Pentecostal church, no respectable person would say that the “root cause” of the crime was an understandable repulsion at the deeds of al-Qaeda or a legitimate opposition to mass immigration. Rightly, they would blame the criminal for the crime.

If a synagogue is attacked, I guarantee that within minutes the airwaves will be filled with insinuating voices insisting that the “root cause” of the crime was a rational anger at the behaviour of Israel or the Jewish diaspora.

Put like this, the position of British Jewry sounds grim. Remember, however, that the first aim of radical Islam is to subjugate Muslims. When brave feminists, gays, democrats and liberals in the Muslim world and in Britain’s Muslim communities make a stand, they, too, are accused of being the tools of Zionists.

As the struggle between theocracy and liberalism intensifies, I can see some being pushed into taking the same journey I have taken and finding their views towards Judaism and Israel softening as they realise that antisemitism helps drive the fascistic ideologies of the 21st century just as it drove the Nazism of the 20th.

I will tell them that the opponents of totalitarianism must never be frightened. If their enemies say they are Jews, they should shrug and say: “All right, I am.” As long as readers of the Jewish Chronicle don’t object, of course.

Nick Cohen is a columnist for The Observer. His latest collection of essays, ‘Waiting for the Etonians: Reports from the Sickbed of Liberal England’, is published this week

Pallywood, Al Durah, and Icon of Hatred up in Spanish

Jimenez Lopez of Libertad Digital TV has put up a Spanish dubbed version of the , three shorts that make up According to Palestinian Sources…Pallywood, Al Durah: the Birth of an Icon, and Icon of Hatred — at Youtube, along with his own introduction and commentary.

Indeed, if I might humbly suggest, particularly after the debacle of media coverage in Operation Cast Lead, they should be required viewing for any journalist claiming to want to do professional work in covering the Arab-Israeli conflict.

And in Hungarian.

Not Available at Toys-R-Us (yet): Hamas Baby Armor

A little black humor. HT: UA-K

hamas baby armor

Breath of the Beast explores the deep links between Jihadis and Leftists

Yaakov ben Moshe at Breath of the Beast has a long and profound meditation on what binds Leftists and Jihadis despite their obvious differences (secular, egalitarian, feminist vs. religious patriarchal dominion) and their superficial links (anti-Zionism, anti-Americanism). In the process he plumbs some of the depths of honor-shame culture as it appears in some of the less expected realms.

The Biggest Honor Killing of All

For the past week I have been spinning my wheels on a broader version of the question I posed in my post “Can Public Broadcasting Really be This Contemptible?” The real question, and I am not to first one to have posed it, is “Why do so many otherwise intelligent people ignore and deny the obvious savagery and danger of the Islamist Jihad?” What do the intellectual elite and the chattering classes actually have in common with Hamas, al Qaeda, the Taliban and The Saudis that allows them to accept and even applaud the bloody, violent, misogynist fascist behavior and writings while they revile our elected leaders and condemn our democratic government and its allies as oppressors.

I have written a number of speculations on that question in the past and I was resolved not to just go over old ground but to add something substantial if I could. In firing off that snap reply, I opened the new door I had been looking for.

It is fascinating that, at first glance, the Arab Muslims and The Left appear to have even more reasons to fear and distrust each other as they do points of conflict with Israel, western civilization, capitalism, the military and the business community. After all, the Muslim treatment of women, children and gays and their absolute antagonism (surpassing even their hatred of Jews) for atheists, pagans and agnostics would seem to be deal-killers for any leftist and the anarchic bent of the left is completely at odds with the desire of the Islamists to institute authoritarian Sharia law and a World-wide Caliphate.

But these are only problems of doctrine, theory and logic. If the bond between these two camps seems to make no sense, it is because political doctrine, logic and fact have almost nothing to with it. Caliphate Islam and Communism/Socialism/Progressivism are, after all, both utopian fascist movements. I have quoted Louis Menand in two other posts, writing that in a fascist movement…, “…official ideology can be, and usually is, absurd on its face, and known to be absurd by the leaders who preach it.” Given that absurdity, the actual details of ideology are much less important than the strength of the movement to dictate complete allegiance, the rejection and liquidation of counter-fascists and the conquest of any other nation – especially those that might be more successful or more democratic. Clearly, the left and the Islamists do not see each other as threats- at least not nearly on the same level as the threat they see in Israel, The U.S. and Western Civilization.

They are, of course, correct. One of the few things that can draw together common cause between fascist groups with entirely opposed “official ideologies” is the overwhelming shame of knowing that your movement’s goals and tenets are mistaken, embarrassingly counter-productive and contrary to human nature- and that there is a thriving example of the alternative right next door.

Read the whole post, and leave comments both there and here.

Did Daniel Pearl die in vain? On the shape of the first decade of the third millennium

Daniel Pearl’s father, Judea, reflects on the world seven years after his son’s death. Not a pretty picture. In so doing he raises some critical issues about the vulnerability/stupidity of the Western world when faced with the remorseless hatreds that (among many other deeds) killed his son with such deliberate brutality. My comments attempt to bring out some of the issues he merely raises in order to stay within his word-limit for an op-ed.

Daniel Pearl and the Normalization of Evil
When will our luminaries stop making excuses for terror?


This week marks the seventh anniversary of the murder of our son, former Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. My wife Ruth and I wonder: Would Danny have believed that today’s world emerged after his tragedy?

The answer does not come easily. Danny was an optimist, a true believer in the goodness of mankind. Yet he was also a realist, and would not let idealism bend the harshness of facts.

Neither he, nor the millions who were shocked by his murder, could have possibly predicted that seven years later his abductor, Omar Saeed Sheikh, according to several South Asian reports, would be planning terror acts from the safety of a Pakistani jail. Or that his murderer, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, now in Guantanamo, would proudly boast of his murder in a military tribunal in March 2007 to the cheers of sympathetic jihadi supporters.

I’ve found references to the trial, but not to the cheers of jihadi supporters. Anyone have a link?

Or that this ideology of barbarism would be celebrated in European and American universities, fueling rally after rally for Hamas, Hezbollah and other heroes of “the resistance.” Or that another kidnapped young man, Israeli Gilad Shalit, would spend his 950th day of captivity with no Red Cross visitation while world leaders seriously debate whether his kidnappers deserve international recognition.

No. Those around the world who mourned for Danny in 2002 genuinely hoped that Danny’s murder would be a turning point in the history of man’s inhumanity to man, and that the targeting of innocents to transmit political messages would quickly become, like slavery and human sacrifice, an embarrassing relic of a bygone era.

Although Pearl does not go into it, his son’s murder was the first “beheading video” to get put up on the internet. That grotesque snuff film has spawned a whole industry, and the posted films get millions of downloads in days. One of the less salubrious impacts of the new communications technology of cyberspace.

The larger issue, however, concerns the trends at work in 2002. Pearl may not have begun to catch on seriously until after the death of his son. Indeed he may have shared his son’s optimistic (if “realistic”) world view — that we can work out, talk out, negotiate out of any conlfict.

But for those of us who understood why the Oslo Process had blown up in our faces, who understood the Jihadi vision that lay behind the Intifada, who understood how massive an intellectual and moral failure had occurred, starting in late 2000, when, inspired by the wrenching image of poor little Muhammad al Durah, the European “street” and the activist “Left” turned against Israel and embraced the “Palestinian” cause, for those of us who had been watching in dismay at the spread of a new wave of anti-Semitism thinly disguised as delirious anti-Zionism spread unopposed by the liberal and progressive authorities… for us, Daniel’s death was just one more roadsign on the path to the present.

BBC’s reliability in covering the Arab-Israeli conflict questioned: Gasp!

Mere Rhetoric has a post on a new report from a British media watchdog group on the BBC. Well worth examining. This is one of many reports that should come out covering MSM reporting of the recent Gaza operation. I’ll be working on one of the BBC and CNN’s reporting.

British Watchdog’s Report: BBC Coverage Less Than Impartial, Biased

Just Journalism is a British NGO that tracks inaccurate and irresponsible reporting about Israel in the British media. They’ve got a new report out and – shockingly – it turns out that the BBC hasn’t been entirely objective [PDF] over the last few months:

    The BBC has a well publicised commitment to impartiality in news reporting both in its broadcast and online output. An important aspect of impartiality is clarifying to the audience the nature of what they are being exposed to; for example, whether an online article is a news piece reporting facts or an opinion piece espousing opinion. Coverage of the recent confl ict has raised questions about how well the BBC upheld the editorial guideline stating that where controversial subjects are concerned, ‘Opinion should be clearly distinguished from fact’.

And therein ensue 35 pages of meticulous bullet points demonstrating same.

Read both the post and the report.

Statistics, Facts, Opinions, and Casualties of War: Reflections of a Statistician

Excellent site entitled Politically Incorrect Statistics with a post on the Statistics of War. In it Abraham Wyner, professor of statistics dissects the (sloppy) reporting of NYT correspondent Ethan Bronner.

I contend that the distinction between fact and opinion in unwarranted. Facts and opinions are really just varieties of statements, which are testable to varying degrees and “true” in the sense that they are supported by evidence of varying quality. So a statement like “rain yesterday” on the TV news is considered fact because it is 1) obviously testable and 2) reliable in the sense that the weatherman has been doing this for a long time and gets it right nearly every time. He also has no motive to lie, incentives to be accurate and consequences for errors. A thoughtful analysis of facts should consider the 1) supplier 2) testability 3) quality of supporting evidence. Here is an example: It was common place in the media to decry the horrors of Israel’s war in Gaza. This is most easily done with a lament about the number of civilian deaths. So lets consider a factual claim made by Ethan Bronner in the NY Times on January 10th.

    A tank shell landed outside the home of a family in Jabaliya, northeast of the city, killing eight members of the same family who were sitting outside, hospital officials said, bringing the death toll to more than 820. Nearly half of the dead were reported to be civilians.

Note, this is the same family and same incident — I believe — that later reworked the tale into a blood libel for credulous journalists like Time’s Tim McGirk.

Now the “fact” (i.e. Statements) here are two: 1) the death toll (820) and the 2) civilian death toll (approx 400).

Actually, the only thing that can legitimately claim to be a fact here is that a shell hit and killed eight members of the same family. The statistics are, as Wyner will show, constructs with only a very tenuous relationship to fact.

Let’s Anaylze them closely:

Are these statements readily testable?

First, Hamas fighters do not wear uniforms. They fight in highly concentrated civilian areas and they readily employ young adults to provide cover. Now of course, these considerations require verification but there are abundant videos on the web that testify to these statements. Attribution of death is further complicated by cases of”friendly fire” or secondary explosions or a myriad of other inevitable accidents caused by placement of the machinery of war in the middle of a city. So the premise that casualty figures can even be determined accurately is questionable. Now this thesis itself suggests its own testable hypothesis: reported casualty figures should be inconsistent and variable. Indeed, that is exactly the case: on January 6th the NY Times reports that:

    The death toll in Gaza reached around 640 on Tuesday, according to Palestinian health officials. The United Nations has estimated that about one-fourth of those killed were civilians, though there have been no reliable and current figures in recent days.

The provide a credible estimate of the intrinsic variance. First, note that on Jan 6th it was reported that out of the 640 dead 160 were civilians. Then on Jan 10th it was reported that out of the 820 dead 410 were civilians. So the reported number of total dead in the 4 days between the two Times articles grew by 180 while the number of civilian deaths (which must of course be lower than the total number of deaths) grew by 250. From this contradiction we can prove that the uncertainty in the casualty statistics is at least 100%. It is interesting, for those who like to dwell on MSM bias that the Times’ reporters do not suggest that these numbers are inaccurate, only that they my be out of date.

Who is the supplier of these statements?

Read the rest.

Honor-Killings and Suicide Bombers: The Pathologies of Honor-Shame Cultures

We just did a series of readings in my honor-shame class on gender and especially the issue of honor-killings. Although the feminist article we read tried to argue that honor-killings were on a continuum of violence against women that characterize all cultures, I argued that honor-killings, where it is legitimate to shed the blood of women in your own home for the sake of family honor, constituted a separate phenomenon, one sustained by a peculiar and deeply insecure masculine culture.

The other dubious claim the article made was the notion that honor-killings have “nothing to do with Islam,” that although almost all the current examples of honor-killings we have comes from Muslim countries, they warn:

    Although these reports are written with sensitivity toward religious differences, they nevertheless leave the impression that there may be something wrong with Islam or its practice. Especially in the televised reports, a sobering discussion about honor killings is frequently juxtaposed over a silhouette of a mosque or a soundtrack of a Moslem call for prayer. The outcome of these visual and auditory cues is to inseparably tie the crime with the already negatively stereotyped Moslem world. In fact, honor killings predate Islam and are not consistent with the Qur’an…

    Of course, the sociological meaning of culture subsumes all forms of belief systems, but any connection between Islam and this heinous crime is by no means clear or direct. International coverage of honor killings that overemphasizes the role of religion fails to look at the more prevalent patriarchal legitimization behind violence against women.

The striking correlation between honor-killings and Muslim communities the world over (ethnicity plays a lessor role) sharpens still further when we factor in the legitimate causes for an honor-killing. Almost every culture that approves/demands the killing of a daughter/sister for sexual misbehavior would agree that if the girl becomes a public prostitute, she deserves to die.

But what if she did not have sex? What if she were still a virgin?

Or what if she was raped? Shouldn’t it be the rapist who gets killed?

What if she dresses immodestly (and how immodestly)?

What if she went to a movie with girlfriends?

The more unforgiving the attitude, the more trivial the trigger to violence… the more likely we are talking about a Muslim community. There are lots of reasons for this, many of which I don’t know about, some of which relate to a broader anti-modernism. But one, I think, that deserves attention, is the psychological issue of the insecurity of the males. The more insecure, the more “humiliated” in the world of alpha male precedence (i.e., where real “honor” gets accumulated), the more likely males are to obsess over someone else’s loss of honor, and victimize their own women, rather than fight other men.

(In some places, the practice is to kill the girl on suspicion, get the medical report on her virginity, and only go after the guy, if she’s not a virgin.)

What has recently surfaced in Iraq, however, suggests that even if we grant the above-stated reservations (which I would not, nor do I think would any serious sociologist unimpaired by political correctness), Islamic Jihad has no hesitation about exploiting the most craven aspects of the culture of honor-killing to achieve its goals. (H/T Solomonia)
February 5, 2009
Al-Qaeda damaged by arrest of ‘rape and suicide bomb’ woman

(Qassim Abdul-Zahra/AP)

samira ahmed jassim
Samira Ahmed Jassim is suspected of recruiting more than 80 female suicide bombers
Deborah Haynes in Baghdad

The arrest of a woman suspected of grooming rape victims to become female suicide bombers in Iraq has dealt a blow to the network of extremists that orchestrates such attacks, a senior Iraqi official said yesterday.

Samira Ahmed Jassim, 51, is accused of recruiting more than 80 women to become human bombs, including 28 who actually carried out attacks.

She has apparently confessed to helping to organise the rape of young Iraqi women.

She would then play on the shame associated with victims of rape in Iraqi society to convince the women to become suicide bombers as their only means of escape.

London Bobbies: Gunless in Londonistan

It’s always dangerous to play honor-shame games with people who are masters at it. And of course, when it’s a question of territory, you had better be ready to play honor-shame games, or lose territory. And when you lose, you lose big time because you lose not only territory, but face. Let there be no mistake here, there’s a battle for European territory — indeed, the street — between Muslims and the old guard.

I think that although this battle started years, maybe even decades before 2000, that the demonstrations against Israel’s “murder” of Muhammad al Durah represent the moment when the “Arab Street” took root in Europe. We have seen it many times since, including, of course, the riots in the French “zones urbaines sensibles”, as well as in response to such intolerable provocations as the Muhammad Cartoons and the Pope’s outrageous comments about a violent Islam.

Signs at demonstration in London outside Danish Embassy in protest of the Muhammad Cartoons, Februrary 2006

And of course, we saw them in full flower in response to Operation Cast Lead. And of all the places, the most startling was in London, where a “demonstration” chased the police several blocks through the center of London shouting “Allahu Akhbar” and “Run you cowards, infidels (kuffars)!”

Tom Gross notes that

it is quite an extraordinary ten minutes of footage as the police run away from a pro-Hamas mob and allow traffic cones and other items to be thrown at them on some of London’s grandest streets. At one point in the video, one can see St James’s Palace, the Ritz hotel and the Wolseley restaurant on Piccadilly. The police appear outnumbered and too intimidated to make any arrests.

Chants of “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is Great) can also be heard. Two orthodox Jews were severely assaulted after the demonstration, including a student who is a co-chair of a Jewish-Muslim friendship society at Oxford University.

As I mentioned in a dispatch last month, a policeman protecting the Israeli embassy was beaten unconscious following one of these demonstrations.

The kicker in all this is that the British police responded: “WE DIDN’T RUN AWAY FROM GAZA PROTESTORS. IT WAS AN ORDERLY WALK BACKWARDS” (Headline in The Mail on Sunday)

If there’s anything that makes you look more ridiculous than running from aggression, it’s trying to pretend that you didn’t.

It’s like the scene in Princess Bride where Wesley bluffs Prince Humperdink into dropping his sword and letting Princess Buttercup tie him up.

And when, a few seconds later (and no one on Youtube has included this part of the scene), Wesley almost collapses, Humperdink, still tied up, says, “I knew it! I knew you were bluffing! I knew he was bluffing!

Bobbies don’t carry guns because of the exceptional police-philosophy of the early 18th century Prime Minister of England, Robert Peel (hence Bobbies). It’s a triumph of civil society and the liberal paradigm: treat others with respect and they will respond. It is, alas, under heavy pressure.

Time Magazine and Palestinian Sources: On the Origins of Modern Blood Libels

Another epistemological challenge. Tim McGirk of Time Magazine has a report of an Israeli randomly murdering three little girls and an old lady. Pay attention to his idea of what constitutes confirmation of allegations he repeats as true. (H/T Cynic)

Voices from The Rubble
By Tim McGirk / Jebel al-Kashif Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009
A scene of the devastation near a house in Jebel al-Kashif where Palestinians say three young girls were shot by an Israeli soldier. Two of the girls later died.

Standing with his grieving wife, Khaled Abed Rabu insists on showing the old report cards of his 7-year-old daughter Suwad as if the fact that she was an excellent student makes her death any more unfair or inexplicable. He reads out the teacher’s comments in a faltering voice. “See?” he says. “She was the best student in her class.”

You can measure the destruction in Gaza by the number of bombs dropped or buildings flattened or the price to rebuild it all, but the real cost lies within people like Abed Rabu, whose pain and sense of loss are apparent from the moment you meet him. Two weeks after the end of Israel’s 22-day operation against Hamas militants, the battle to control the story of what happened in Gaza continues. The U.N. and human-rights groups accuse the Israeli military of using disproportionate force and even of committing war crimes. The Israeli government has responded to such charges by arguing that Hamas deliberately positioned weapons and fighters in areas populated by civilians. Israel has begun investigating some of the more egregious allegations about civilian deaths, which are multiplying as Gaza picks itself up from the rubble. One such account was presented to Time by Abed Rabu. (See pictures of heartbreak in the Middle East.)

Abed Rabu says his daughter Suwad died in Gaza on Jan. 7, the day Israeli tanks churned across the strawberry fields and knocked their way into a little park about 20 yards (18 m) from the family home. Residents of Jebel al-Kashif recall being warned by the Israelis through loudspeakers to evacuate their homes. “There was no fighting, so we weren’t too worried when the Israelis told us to leave,” Abed Rabu recalls. “I told my girls, ‘Don’t be scared. We’ve done nothing to the Israelis, so they won’t hurt us.'”

Talal made the same verisimilitudinous remarks about Israelis not attacking unarmed people in the al Durah case: “I was afraid the Israelis would think that my camera was a weapon and shoot me,” implying that they don’t shoot cameramen.

The patriarch says he herded his wife, mother and three young daughters, Amal, 2; Samar, 4; and Suwad to the door and gave the children a white flag to wave. “Two Israeli soldiers were beside their tank, eating chocolate and potato chips,” he recounts, waving empty wrappers bearing Hebrew writing that he found later in the debris. “It was like a picnic for them.”

According to Abed Rabu, a third Israeli soldier then popped out of the tank with an M-16 and fired a single shot. “I didn’t understand what happened,” says Abed Rabu. “I thought he was firing in the air, and then I looked down and saw my 2-year-old daughter lying there with her insides spilling out.

“I started screaming, ‘Why are you doing this?’ And then the soldier shot my two other girls. My wife fainted. And when my mother tried to drag Suwad inside the house, the soldier shot my mother in the chest, her shoulder and her leg.”

This is an incomprehensible narrative. What — other than sheer malice and a reckless disregard for the IDF rules of military activity — could motivate this series of murders? Who — other than someone who believes that the Israelis are covert Nazis — would find this account reliable? And, as E.G. noted, if the Israeli soldier shot the girls and the mother, why did he not shoot the rest of the family, especially the father?

The Story of Hamas and the “Palestinian People”

Yaakov Katz has a piece on what Palestinians have told Israeli investigators about how Hamas behaved. Here’s an epistemological conundrum. How do you get an intelligent Arab, who nonetheless believes that anything Israelis say is pure propaganda, to take this seriously? What information do we trust coming out of Gaza? Palestinian/Arab? UN/NGO? Photographer/Journalist? Palestinian speaking anonymously to Western Journalist? Palestinian militants speaking to Israeli Shin Bet (= FBI) interrogators? (Surely not the last option! …featured below.)

Gazans tell Israeli investigators of Hamas abuses
Feb 1, 2009 23:39 | Updated Feb 2, 2009 0:02

Nuaf Atar spoke about the use of Gazan schools to shoot rockets at Israel. Zabhi Atar revealed that Hamas used food coupons to entice Palestinians to join its ranks and Hamad Zalah said Hamas took control of UNRWA food supplies transferred to Gaza and refused to distribute them to people affiliated with Fatah.

child victim of hamas-fatah fighting
A boy is carried after being wounded during clashes between Hamas and Fatah in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis. [file] Photo: AP

These are three examples of testimony from Hamas and Islamic Jihad men who were captured by the IDF during Operation Cast Lead. Details of their interrogations have been released for publication by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).

More than 100 Palestinians were captured during the three-week operation but most were released and only a few dozen – members of Hamas and other terrorist factions – are still being held by Israel, officials said. Some of them may be used as bargaining chips in negotiations for abducted soldier Gilad Schalit.

Nuaf Atar, 25, lives in Atatra, in the northwest Gaza Strip, and was captured by paratroopers on January 11. In his interrogation by the Shin Bet, Atar said Hamas government officials “took over” humanitarian aid Israel allowed in to the Strip and sold it, when it is supposed to be distributed for free.

Hamas set up rocket launchers and fired rockets into Israel from within school compounds since the operatives knew that the Israel Air Force would not bomb the schools, he said.

Palestinians who opposed Hamas’s use of their land and homes as launch pads were shot in the legs, Atar added.

Blair vs. Hamas: The Moebius Strip of Cognitive Egocentrism Personified

An Iranian press agency reports on Hamas leader Khaled Mashal’s visit to Iran and his remarks about Tony Blair’s remarks about the conditions of Hamas’ participation in discussions aimed at resolving the conflict. Both the remarks, and the article, represent lucid insights into the deep disconnect between the religious and political culture that produces an organization like Hamas, and that that produces a politician/diplomat like Blair. The Moebius strip of cognitive egocentrism at work. Again, like the exchanges between Obama and Ahmadinejad, we have two different notions of honor at play.

Hamas: Blair’s remarks mirror of stupidity
Sat, 31 Jan 2009 17:15:52 GMT

Hamas has dismissed a condition set by Mideast Quartet Envoy Tony Blair that the movement must recognize Israel before starting talks.

Mushir al-Masri, the head of Hamas’s parliamentary bloc, said Saturday that raising this “suggestion” testifies that Blair is not familiar with the situation in the Middle East.

He termed Blair’s suggestion as “utterly foolish and useless.”

Both the tone and the content suggest contempt, in particular for how clueless Blair is. He just doesn’t get it: Hamas has no intention of changing its tune on Israel, and believes that the vast majority of the Muslim world (minus some cowardly politicians) is behind it.

Note that they make no effort to “respect” Blair’s feelings. On the contrary, dissing him, public scorn, is part of their act. No reciprocity here.

Note that the article begins with the insult before even revealing the remarks to which it is a reaction.

In an interview with The Times published Saturday, Blair said Hamas must be involved in the Middle East peace process; however, the movement have to recognize Israel’s right to exist and renounce ‘violence’.

Although by Western standards this is basic stuff, simple groundrules for reaching a positive-sum solution, by Jihadi standards, this is a joke. From their point of view, he is an idiot, not only because he’s made a demand they will not meet, but because unless he’s got a way to marginalize Hamas, that’s a losing opening gambit, in which case he’s an idiot and a fool. (Let’s hope he’s got some other moves in response to this clearly predictable reaction to his opening condition.)

Obama’s Al Arabiya Interview: Honor-Shame Dynamics and VDH’s Analysis

I’m teaching my favorite course this semester on “Honor-Shame Cultures, Middle Ages, Middle East.” In a discussion, we touched on President Obama’s interview on Al Arabiya and his offering an open hand to soften the clenched fist of the Muslim world, including an offer to meet with Ahmadinejad without conditions. When I asked them what they thought the response might be, the closest I got to an accurate estimation was, “they ignored it.”

I pointed out that, as we had been learning about cultures given to blood revenge, people have long memories, and that they keep score. In that sense, since 1979 — i.e., when Khoumeini took over — Iranians had humiliated the Americans and the West repeatedly, from the seizure of the American Embassy, to kicking the US out of Lebanon via their proxies, Hezbullah, to intimidating the Western intelligentsia with the fatwa on Salman Rushdie, to messing with the US in Iraq, again via proxies. So Iran, having been offered the hand of friendship was less likely to view this offer as a sign of magnanimity and courage and a new opening for a peaceful diplomacy, than as a sign of weakness and cowardice.

And within moments, Ahmadinejad responded precisely as a player in the honor-shame game could be expected to respond, not with magnanimity but with the aggresion one can expect from someone who smells blood: to Obama’s offer to meet without conditions — a position that many warned was an ill-advised concessionAhmadinejad responded with a host of conditions, from further grovelling (Iran has their own list of grievances against the US), to major on-the-ground unilateral concessions.

And still more predictably, dedicated America haters chimed in — Hugo Chavez blamed Obama for not showing sufficient respect; while our own media discussed his “cool” or “ambiguous” response.

Below, Victor Davis Hanson’s analysis with comments from the honor-shame perspective.

January 27th, 2009 8:40 pm
Dancing Among Landmines—The Obama Al-Arabiya Interview.

President Barack Obama is being praised for choosing an Arabic TV network for his first formal television interview on the Dubai-based, Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel. I think we can all appreciate the thinking behind such bold outreach, given that the media at home has chortled to the world that our new guy’s unusual background, in sort

A classic PCP move based on principles of integrity: be self-critical, and generous in judging the other side. They in turn, out of gratitutde for how you’ve shown them respect, will reciprocate. The Israeli progressives tried this on a massive scale during the Oslo process, including rewriting/revisioning Zionist history in the form of an apology to the Palestinians for all the damage Israelis had caused their neighbors.

Now this kind of historiography is a form of “therapeutic” history — “if I apologize, then the other side can accept my acknowledgment of the suffering I’ve caused them, and we can both move on. But therapy is a most dangerous platform on which to build a serious history, not only because it subordinates facts to a rhetorical stance, but because if you misjudge your audience(s), it can misfire. Indeed, not only has post-Zionism (predictably) provoked more hatred — “we told you so, we always knew you were to blame! — among Palestinians and other anti-Zionists, but it has seriously, dangerously, undermined Israeli self-confidence.

Obama, in a minor way, is trying the same maneuver. Let’s hope he’s got a fast learning curve. In any case, both history, and the study of honor-shame cultures suggests that this maneuver will backfire.

Pierre Rehov takes the Mickey out of Hamas

I met Pierre Rehov while working on the al Durah affair, and used some of his footage in my Pallywood movie. His documentaries are superb, and given the locations he works out, they took a great deal of courage to shoot. He now has a short piece of black humor on Youtube which I recommend.