Category Archives: Auto-stupefaction

“Everyone Agrees”: BBC and CNN Logs

Transparency Principle: Examine the evidence; make up your own mind.

I offer these logs of CNN and BBC available for those who want to check whether my video critique of the MSTVNM has been fair. They constitute the material from which I worked to assemble the video, Everybody Knows… I welcome comments and criticism. Bold and italics mine.

CNN and BBC December 23-28, 2016 logs

CNN 231216 0600-0800 ttl3 ch1 tl 010155

Don Lemon: Unprecedented phone call stops UNSC’s Israel vote. …but unlike most other presidents in waiting, Trump has now jumped in with both feet into in to the most complicated & difficult foreign policy issues for any president – the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Trump has been working the phones & calling world leaders to scuttle an anti Israel resolution at the UN, Elise Labott reports. …Obama was prepared to let the resolution pass. Either by abstaining or voting in favor of it. the US has traditionally seen Jewish settlements in areas controlled by Palestinians, as an obstacle to a peace process, but has never gone so far in a UN vote. The move today would have been seen by many as a provocation. A parting shot at Israel’s PM with whom Obama has strained ties. (rest same as previous)

CNN 231216 0600-0800 ttl3 ch1 tl 010510

Trump’s unprecedented policy move, John Vause with Dave Jacobson (Dem. Strategist) & John Thomas (Thomas Partners Strategists) & Josh Lockman (USC Gould School of Law)

Q’ Obama was prepared to let this resolution pass & not use the veto… its incredibly broad. If you look at the language being used, in some respects it would have meant that parts of  E Jerusalem, including the Jewish quarter in the old city & the Western Wall were technically off limits to Israelis?

Jacobson:

Lockman: That’s exactly right. This was a broad resolution draft. Its important to note here that the Obama administration has vigorously defended Israel over the last 8 years. In fact this administration, unlike the previous administrations since 1967, Republicans & Democrats alike, has vetoed any resolution charging Israel. ?? It wouldn’t be so strange for this administration to abstain, given the frustration that the Obama White House has seen on the conflict.1* But yes this resolution would have been a broad one & would have obviously targeted the settlement building activity that much of the int. community— for Israel, finds illegal.

Q’ your point about Obama essentially being a shield at the UN for the Israelis. You mentioned all the way back to Johnson. Every president has passed or supported a UN resolution which is critical of Israel (caption: 7-Johnson; 15-Nixon; 2-Ford; 14-Carter; 21-Reagan; 9-George HW Bush; 3-Clinton; 6-George W Bush). So if Obama hadn’t let this go through it would have been a very strong diplomatic message to Netanyahu.

Lockman: yes I think so. It would have been something of a parting shot by the President that has obviously had an acrimonious relationship with Netanyahu. But it is also important to note that in 2011 when the Obama administration vetoed a similar resolution, condemning settlement building, it didn’t do so because of the merits of the resolution itself, but because the administration thought it would be an impediment to actively mediating in the Israeli Palestinian conflict. That’s an important move here as well because we are already seeing the potentially destructive move of the president elect in foreign policy, & specifically in the Israeli Palestinian conflict arena what this could pretend for the region, its very disturbing obviously. 2*

Q’ there are concerns of what the blowback will be, what the fallout will be, especially for other areas of policy, if you want those Sunni Arab nations on board, how will they feel about what is a very pro Israeli stance by the new administration?

Thomas: …I have to disagree with your guest that this last administration has been pro Israeli. Remember there were – in the Obama administration tried to out the PM of Israel, & running a campaign to defeat him. So I don’t think they were exactly pro Israeli in this process. But you are right it is complex. Rex Tillerson is going to have his hands full. No doubt about it… but I think Trump has made it, say look we didn’t support Israel strongly enough & he is not traveling lightly about this. He really isn’t.

“Everyone Agrees”: The Links to Items used in the video

 

Transparency Principle: Examine the evidence; make up your own mind.

Links to non-BBC and CNN material used in:

Everyone Agrees:

Second Draft on how Mainstream News Media Contribute to the Arab-Israeli Conflict

UNSC Resolution Must be seen as tool, not merely a victory

Abbas explodes at Kerry

PLO Instructions to Foreign Journalists

Abbas, occupation for 67 yrs, since 1948, to UN, PA TV 281015

Abbas Balfour 1:47-54

Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki: Goal is end of Israel,

 This is how the Zionist jews came to palestine, half naked…

Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki: strategy

PLO leader: Everyone knows our goal is to take all of Israel – “liberate all of Palestine”

Fatah official: We will “expel these invaders from every inch of our Palestinian land”

Fatah Central Committee member Abbas Zaki: strategy

Fatah official: “To this moment, Fatah does not recognize Israel”

Mahmoud Abbas: Israel`s right to exist is a “lie”

Torture in PA system

Repression of Journalists

Executions

New Report Documents Abusive Detentions 2015

Strangled Twice Palestinian Dissident: PA like 1984

Christians flee Bethlehem

Palestinians call to kill Jews

Complicity in the Holocaust: Churches and Universities in Germany

UNRWA Road to Terror: Palestinian Classroom Incitement, Center for Near East Policy Research Ltd. 2016

Children embrace path of violence on PA TV

Children demonize Jews on PA TV

We should be able to trust the news. And if we distrust some of it, we should not have to deal with pack journalists who systematically invert reality in the name of peace, when actually, the only people who benefit, are the very warmongers who make peace impossible.

This is Richard Landes from the Second Draft. See you again soon for another episode on how the Western news media contributes to the Arab-Israeli conflict, and thereby, to the increasingly troubled dawn of the 21st century.

Intellectual Mugging at the MFA: Jhully and Ratzkoff’s “Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land”

I wrote this before i had a blog and never posted it. Dexter van Zile’s recent article about Sut Jhally, the filmmaker in question, prompts me to post it now. Jhally (on twitter) is profiled at Canary Mission. The incident gets mention in an article by Robert Fisk which I deal with at the end of this post.

Intellectual Mugging at the MFA (2004)

I just had a very unpleasant experience.  I was invited to comment on a documentary – Peace, Propaganda, and the Promised Land, shown at the MFA as part of their Film and Media series.  The invitation came because a number of people, including me, had complained to the MFA that they were showing what looked like, from the blurb, a propaganda film which should not be shown without some response.  After a number of negotiations, mostly aimed at sparing the MFA embarrassment, we agreed that the MFA would send me a copy of the film, and after the filmmakers spoke, I would make a statement and ask the first questions.  The idea was to keep it honorable and civil.

The movie itself is, as billed in the blurb, a tendentiously one-sided affair in which hyper-self-critical Israelis and Jews join up with Palestinian accusers to blame the whole conflict on the occupation, and to blame our residual sympathy for the Israelis, on illegitimate Jewish influence over our media.  The media should not only understand and present this Palestinian “narrative” – which is, to some extent the media’s job – but they also should adopt it – which is not it’s job.  The movie demands advocacy journalism: media should always point out the “context” – occupation, occupation, occupation.  They should tell people how to interpret these events.  Our way.

After I saw the movie, in conjunction with conversations with Bo Smith at the museum, who seemed very concerned about the possible hostility of the audience, I figured I’d start it with what we agreed on – the media are our eyes and ears on the world, and we need them to be as accurate as possible; that a well-informed and autonomously critical public is one of the best guarantees of that accuracy.  Did this film help us?  In my considered opinion, it was, if anything an object lesson in propaganda.  Inaccurate information, packaged with hyper-spin, and the exclusion of all dissident voices.  This was not so much an argument – although that it was – but a harangue.  No nuance here.  In response, I planned to raise some problems with the film (oversights that call into question the stark picture) and then pose some questions to the two filmmakers.

I knew I was in trouble when, at film’s end, the audience – packed house – gave the movie a standing ovation, old hippies with their grey pony-tails and their birkenstocks. Okay, so they liked it.  But nothing really prepared me for what was to come.  First the movie-makers spoke.  Bathsheba Ratzkoff presented herself as an Israeli who had grown up learning that you speak out against injustice, and that a holocaust should never happen again to anyone.  Sut Jhally presented himself as a courageous man taking on the Palestinian cause when it was taboo (when was that in University circles?  Was this before 1967?), driven by Edward Said to do what he had to do, regardless of the consequences.  Then it was my turn.

The crowd resisted with catcalls as if to have me speak were an insult, but I got to start.  I got though my opening throat clearing, although someone interrupted me when I said, in a gesture of concession, “at least the movie doesn’t explicitly claim to have a monopoly on absolute truth,” by shouting, “Yes it does!”  (I wonder how many people there, post-modern, post-colonials all, realized how bad that made them look.  All the irony of Pravda.)

But as soon as I got to criticism, the crowd went wild.  It was like they were Miracle Max in The Princess Bride holding their hands over their ears and shouting “I can’t hear you! I can’t hear you!”  Here I was, trying to tell them that in this movie there is not one voice of dissent, and they were shouting, “Shut up! Shut up!”

The filmmaker insisted that the crowd let me finish, and I was able to continue some more, constantly interrupted.  I’d love to listen to a tape of the event.  But I remember another interruption well.  I asked if they thought that we could do a similar study on Palestinian and Arab attempts to control the media.  I thought one of my strongest (even-handed) questions at the end, was, “are you planning a matching piece of the other side of this phenomenon.  Surely it would be easier to fill in the “big corporate interests” who control our politicians, who set the tone for the media (a power-point presentation in the film) with names like Bechtel and Halliburton, and Saudi owned AOL, owner of CNN, than with identifiably Jewish, much less Zionist “corporations.” But to my astonishment, that suggestion was greeted with loud catcalls.

Indeed, there was something cult-like about it.  The energy was high, and people felt comfortable taking public voice and speaking for the collective.  It was as if they had the gnosis, the secret knowledge, and they gathered to inhale it, to bathe in it.  They thrilled to the movie’s pretended revelation of hidden forces, the “Zionist occupied media” which resembled the conspiracist right winger’s term for U.S. government: ZOG (Zionist Occupied Government).

This movie delighted them. It filled them with enthusiasm and energy. It liberated them from any sense of guilt about Jews as victims – after all, so many prominent Jews in this movie have given them permission not to be concerned.  It mobilized their hate; it clarified the world into the forces of good and evil and let them know who to resist.  It oriented them into the fateful future that looms before us.  And they could not bear contradiction.  Impulse control low, and dropping.  And that’s from our progressive community.

Self-styled peace-loving dissidents shouting down a dissident voice. It was a cross between Monty Python, “We’re aaaall individuals,” we are aaaalll dissenters, and the meeting of the Second International, when the Mensheviks were relegated to the dustbin of history. It was as if these folks had been fed red meat and I was trying to stop the feeding frenzy, not by arguing for veganism, but just by suggesting that the meat was poisoned, that consuming it might lead to unwarranted hatred and foolish approval of violence that no one – repeat no one – has an excuse for. And these 60s retreads – I’m one for crying out loud – snarled at me with the ferocity of a hungry beast.

I finished, rushed by the crowd and an increasingly nervous museum staff by asking Batsheba, if she were against holocausts happening to everyone, why wasn’t she making a movie about Sudan?  Sut Jhally took the mike, and, rather than answering any of my questions, explained to the crowd why I had spoken.  Exempting poor Bo, the point man, he insisted that the higher-ups in the museum had caved, and that our insistence as Jews and Zionists, to respond to such one-sided presentations, was an example of our trying to control the conversation.

This was a replication of the movie’s unconscious message: don’t just listen to the Palestinian narrative, adopt it!  And don’t listen to anyone who tries to tell you otherwise.  So my dissent and request to be heard is really coercive manipulation, and his monopoly on the discussion is just keeping you in the audience away from propaganda.  He refused to recognize me beyond denouncing me, refused to answer any of my questions.  I was not an opponent, but an enemy.

The museum has yet to apologize, or even call to be in touch.  I’m sure it will, sometime soon [still waiting]. I suggest that we have a showing of two movies, and a discussion afterwards.  I invite Sut Jhally and anyone else he would like to bring to a four-person panel discussion in front of our audience.  One in which we all acknowledge the rules of civility.  No applause, except at the end.  We listen to each other.  And let people make up their own minds.

Richard Landes

UPDATE:

Seva Brodsky reminded me in a comment that this took place in 2o04, and that Robert Fisk mentioned the brouhaha over the showing of the film at the MFA. As always when it comes to a Fisk article, rife with irony.

I’ve just received a justifiably outraged note from Bathsheba Ratskoff, a producer and editor at the American Media Education Foundation (MEF), who says that their new documentary on “the shutting-down of debate around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” – in reality a film about Israel’s public relations outfits in America – has been targeted by the “Jewish Action (sic) Task Force”. The movie Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land was to be shown at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

So what happened? The “JAT” demanded an apology to the Jewish community and a “pledge (for) greater sensitivity (sic) when tackling Israel and the Middle East conflict in the future”. JAT members “may want to consider threatening to cancel their memberships and to withhold contributions”.

In due course, a certain Susan Longhenry of the Museum of Fine Arts wrote a creepy letter to Sut Jhally of the MEF, referring to the concerns of “many members of the Boston community” – otherwise, of course, unidentified – suggesting a rescheduled screening (because the original screening would have fallen on the Jewish Sabbath) and a discussion that would have allowed critics to condemn the film.

“Discussion that would have allowed critics to condemn the film…” Horrors. But wait, I thought the movie was against “shutting down debate around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Does this mean that criticism only works one way and “debate” is a code word for “we get to dump on you, and you, in order to maintain your hard-earned reputation for tolerance, have to suck it up”? Certainly, to judge how Ratskoff and Jhally handled the discussion after their movie’s showing… that’s exactly what it means.

The letter ended – and here I urge you to learn the weasel words of power – that “we have gone to great lengths to avoid cancelling altogether screenings of this film; however, if you are not able to support the revised approach, then I’m afraid we’ll have no choice but to do just that”.

Does Ms Longhenry want to be a mouse? Or does she want to have the verb “to longhenry” appear in Webster’s? Or at least in the Oxford? Fear not, Ms Longhenry’s boss overrode her pusillanimous letter. For the moment, at least.

This, from Mr. Fisk, whose name was already a verb… namely to thoroughly analyze, paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence, every line of his systematically misleading articles. Weasel-words indeed.

Pallywood: The Damage of Media Malfeasance

Melissa Jane Kronfled of the WJC interviewed me today on Pallywood and its implications. She’s an excellent interviewer, and I stayed largely coherent despite my characteristic roundabout answers.

Holocaust Guilt vs. Holocaust Shame: On the Crisis of Western Civilization


Holocaust Guilt vs. Holocaust Shame:

On the Crisis of Western Civilization

This is a longer version of what appeared in the Tablet.

Richard Landes, Jerusalem

@richard_landes
[email protected]

[My thanks to Rabbi Marc Kujawsky who first helped me understand the difference.]

When I first heard about Catherine Nay – a prominent, mainstream, French journalist – stating on her Europe 1 news program that “with its symbolic charge of this picture, this death annuls, erases the picture of the little Jewish boy, hands up in front of the SS, in the Warsaw Ghetto,” I realized to what an extent Europeans had taken the story of the IDF killing 12-year old Muhammad al Durah in the arms of his father, as a “get-out-of-holocaust-guilt-free card“.

Picture from International ANSWER, Quote from Catherine Nay

At the time I marveled – and continue to marvel – at the astounding folly of the statement. How can a brief, blurry, chopped up video of a boy who, at best was caught in a cross fire started by his own people firing behind him, at worst an outright lethal fake, could eliminate – really replace – a picture that symbolizes the systematic murder of over a million children and their families? How morally disoriented can one get? Apparently escaping guilt made some people – too many people – do strange things… like adopt a supersessionist narrative: Israelis, the new Nazis, Palestinians, the new Jews.

But the profound distinction between guilt and shame suggests that the right formula is “get-out-of-holocaust-shame-free card.” (I know, it doesn’t sound as good.) The difference: guilt is an internally generated sense of moral obligation not to repeat past transgressions, especially egregious ones like the unchecked attempt to exterminate of a helpless minority within one’s own society. Shame, on the other hand, is externally generated, driven by the “shaming look” of others (the “honor-group“). When Germans got caught carrying out a genocide, their nation was not only guilty of the deed, but shamed before the world… The operative question for each and every German ever since is: does he or she feel bad for Germans doing it? …or Germans getting caught in defeat? (Many a Nazi and their willing executioners believed that if Germany had won, they’d have gotten away with it.)

Pallywood 2017: The meaning of the Becky Anderson-UNRWA gaffes

Those paying attention to matters of Pallywood, or the faking of news in order to target a given population with lethal narratives, had a double feast yesterday and today. First UNRWA, the UN agency for helping the Palestinian refugees, used a picture of a forlorn Syrian girl, living in ruins caused by the wars of rule and resistance in that part of the Arab political world, to relay a lethal narrative about Israel, all for the benefit of fundraising for the work of UNRWA.

Imagine being cut off from the world – for your whole life. That’s reality for children like Aya. The blockade of Gaza began when she was a baby, the occupation in the West Bank before her parents were born. Now she is eleven, and the blockade goes on.
Aya’s childhood memories are of conflict and hardship, walls she cannot escape, and the fear that the only home she knows, however tiny, could be gone when she returns from school.
This Ramadan, please help support children like Aya who have known nothing but conflict and hardship. Donate here:

Even those unaware of how much UNRWA employees are either Hamas agents or their dhimmis, can appreciate the moral degradation involved here. Appealing dishonestly to people’s pitying concern for Palestinians, by providing a heavy dollop of moral Schadenfreude about Israel, in order to raise money to prolong the victimization of Gazans.

For a German article on this issue, see Stefan Frank’s take.

Caliphate Cogwar, Lethal, Own-Goal Journalism, and BDS

The Place of BDS and the Caliphate Cogwar

BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) is part and parcel of a wider cognitive war (cogwar) offensive against both Israel and the West. Cogwar is the main resort of the weak side in an asymmetrical conflict, whose task is to convince the enemy not to use its superior forces to resist attacks from the weaker side. While most asymmetric cogwar conflicts are defensive (chase out the imperialists), the Caliphate cogwar (see below), is an imperialist effort to invade and subject the far more powerful enemy, the modern, democratic West.

BDS pursues two major goals: stigmatizing Israel in the world community, and undermining the workings of a free academy in the West. This two goals strike at both major targets of Caliphate cogwar, Israel and Western democracies. It is based on weaponized false information (Pallywood), and its surprising success in enrolling Western “progressives,” illustrates the degree of disorientation current among Western thought leaders.

How disoriented must one be to look at the ME, where “human rights” don’t even exist in the Muslim-majority world, and blame Israel for the region’s woes because they have failed to provide more protection and human rights to a sworn enemy of both Israel and human rights. Without the disturbing receptivity of liberals and progressives in the West to the absurd portrayal of Israel as a particularly nasty case of human rights violations, BDS would rapidly fade.

This essay is less concerned with understanding BDS – a secondary phenomenon – than understanding from where BDS draws its strength by placing it within the larger context of a cogwar conducted against the West by Muslims who believe that Islam should replace the US/West as global hegemon. It describes the Caliphaters, and the invasive cogwar they wage against the West, and their strategy of using of anti-Zionism, assisted by Western lethal, own-goal journalism, to hit the West in its “soft underbelly.”

Caliphaters: Their Aims, Targets, and Means

It has proven remarkably difficult for the West, Europe in particular, to understand the nature of their most dangerous 21st century enemy: the Caliphaters. Caliphaters are Muslims who believe that this generation will see the revival and spread of the Caliphate to the entire world: Where there was Dar al Harb, (world of war), there shall be Dar al Islam (world of submission). They see globalization as a praeparatio caliphatae, a (largely unconscious) vehicle for the final spread of Islam. For the impatient it’s this generation; for those with more patience, it’s this century (1400-1500 AH/ 1979-2076 CE).

Caliphater is a “lumping” term that includes both “violent extremists” and more “moderate” activists who operate within the parameters of Western democracy. Such believers not only strive for this Islamist victory through violent jihad (Al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, Hamas, Hizbullah, Iranian Revolutionary Guard), but also through verbal, non-violent, da’wa, or “summons to the faith” (Muslim Brotherhood, Hizb ut-Tahrir, Jamaat e-Islami). As Yussuf al Qaradawi, one of the most popular Muslim Brotherhood preachers put it:

The US and Europe will be conquered not by Jihad, but by Da’wa.

Thus not all Caliphaters are alike (just like not all democrats are alike), and specialists can enumerate the differences between various groups at will; indeed some insist that the “moderates” and the extremists have little or nothing to do with each other. Identifying Muslims as a Caliphaters by means signifies that they are all the same. But it does identify a critical belief in a common destiny.

And often enough, it’s not really an either-or. Historically, da’wa and jihad go together: first summons, then jihad; with Bin Laden it went the other way: declare war and strike first (Bin Laden, 1996, 2001), then issue a summons (2002). After a jihadi attack, da’wa steps in as the “nice cop.” Among Caliphaters, the use of violence, is more a matter of timing than principle: like the treaty of Hudaybiyya, Arafat’s model for his participation in the “Oslo Peace Process“: pro-peace when weak, pro-war when strong. In any case, wherever they happen to fall along the gamut from non-violent to beserker, Caliphaters all agree that the supreme goal, for which it is an honor to sacrifice one’s life, is the dominion of Islam over the whole earth.

Caliphaters are ferociously dedicated, adaptable, creative, quick learners, and, in the jihadi version, antinomian: “Allah wills it, everything is permitted.” They, like all millennial believers, have enormous appeal, since they call on people to fulfill a cosmic destiny. For caliphaters of all kinds, life, indeed everything they do, is filled with  meaning.

Caliphaters hate Israel above all other infidels. These autonomous Jews have invaded (what was and should be) Dar al Islam, and despite how few in number, they resist all Arab efforts to wipe them out. For Caliphaters, Israel’s blasphemous existence brings shame to their triumphalist Islam, which must dominate in order to be true.

Israel’s a problem for all triumphalist Muslims, whether they think that this is the generation that will spread Islam to the rest of the world (Caliphaters), or just restore Dar al Islam to its former borders (including Spain, the Balkans and India). Caliphaters, however, consider all unsubjected infidels an insult to them, and to their religion. Hence their greater hostility to America than to Europeans with whom Muslims have many and much more serious scores to settle. Since the Caliphate aims to replace the US as the global hegemon, the US, by its very prominence is hated most in the West. Thus, Caliphaters consider the West (US) and Israel as the high priority targets: great and little Satans.

The Strategy of Caliphater Cogwar against the West

Caliphaters undertake a deeply asymmetrical war when they seek to conquer the earth: both culturally and militarily, they are at an immense disadvantage (and the idea that they have numbers on their side suggests that they believe that most of the 1.x million Muslims on the planet secretly side with them). Indeed, the asymmetry is so great that most Westerners, informed of Caliphater goals, either laugh in scorn at so foolish a notion, or view those who persist in pressing the point as “Islamophobes.” As a result, no matter how spectacular their military attacks on infidel civilians might be, at least for the time being, that terror campaign remains a adjunct to the main battlefield, the cogwar.

Caliphaters, planning the far more massive task of invading and subjecting the West, discovered that Westerners had a “soft-underbelly,” a point of easiest invasion: namely, their susceptibility to anti-Zionism. In this Caliphaters could appeal to supersessionist Christians and post-Christians who do not like – indeed deeply fear – autonomous Jews (Israel). By feeding what has proven to be an astonishingly strong Western appetite for stories about Jews behaving badly, Caliphaters could win a triple strategic victory over Western infidel dupes:

  • Get one infidel target (the West) to side with the Caliphaters against another infidel target (Israel).
  • Disorient the duped infidels into so misreading the situation in Israel, that they make policy choices that play into the Caliphaters’ hand.
  • Take over Western activist projects and turn them towards violent opposition to Israel; invade their universities both academically and through student groups, and bully the “human rights” community.

In principle, it seemed like a pretty tall order way back in the late 20th century. Would the West be so stupid, both empirically and strategically? Would pacifist progressives embrace misogynist jihadis?

Palestinian Cogwar against Israel and Lethal Journalism

Alas, the news in the 21st century is not good. This improbable cogwar, with its outrageous expectations of cooperation from targeted victims, has been going spectacularly well for the Caliphaters for 16 years at least. And this sudden turn of the tide in their favor, their first global victory, came with the “Al Aqsa Intifada” (late 2000). At that point, the Western mainstream news media (WMSNM) turned fully against Israel, adopted the Israeli Goliath/Palestinian David frame as their “nut,” and began presenting the lethal narratives of Palestinian war propaganda as news, starting with the al Durah blood libel (2000) and the Jenin “Massacre” (2002). Fifteen years later, and they’re still doing it.

Thinking that they sided with the scrappy Palestinian David, fighting for the freedom and independence of their “yearned for” state, these lethal journalists pumped Jihadi war propaganda into the Western sphere as real events. This “lethal journalism” played a critical role in convincing the world to see the Israelis as Palestinian war propaganda wanted: the Israeli Goliath oppressing the Palestinian victim (underdogma). In its most malicious supersessionist avatar, the Palestinians “are” the “new Jews,” victims of genocide, and the Israelis, the new Nazis, committing it. Indeed, Al Durah specifically opened the portals of the public sphere to their claims: after 2000, comparing Israel to Nazis went mainstream.

Picture from International ANSWER, Quote from Catherine Nay

Picture from International ANSWER, Quote from Catherine Nay

This first, sudden, violent, often hysterical wave of hostility to Israel in the West, what Sharansky called the 3Ds (2000-2003), operated as a cultural buzz-saw whose effects we see today in BDS: outrage trumps discussion; defending Israel is unconscionable; no peace without justice (revenge). With the help of lethal journalists, the Al Durah icon of hatred – IDF targets children – became a dominant Western meme, both emotionally (in hostility to Israel) and cognitively (in receptivity to further slander).

And so each time Israel fought back – Jenin and Bethlehem (2002), Lebanon (2006), Cast Lead (2008/9), Mavi Marmara (2010), Pillar of defense (2012), Protective Edge (2014) – the WMSNM complied extensively with the demands of the “Palestinians” to tell their story: the “vast majority” of victims of Israeli bombing were innocent civilians. If an Gazan cameraman came up with a fourth-rate job of “filming the IDF murder of an innocent child,” then true it must be. If Saeb Erekat says the IDF massacred hundreds of innocent civilians in Jenin and buried them in mass graves, true it must be.

Thus, for the last 16 years, every time Israel defended itself against the Jihad declared against it, the lethal school of journalists dominated coverage: Palestinian suffering and Israeli aggression 24/7. The world saw what Palestinian leadership wished it to see, and sided with them against the bully Israeli Goliath… actually siding with the Caliphaters against the infidels resisting subjection.

The Palestinian cogwar strategy in their asymmetrical conflict with the IDF: get world outrage to stop Israel from fighting, so we can recover and start another round. The Jihadi cogwar strategy: use the newswashed propaganda about Israel to rouse Jihad – show the Muslim world how Israel/the West are trying to exterminate Muslims and destroy Islam.

Journalists who did not seem to mind damaging to Israel, showed no sign of understanding that their lethal journalism, was also own-goal journalism, in which they “newswashed” enemy propaganda in their own public sphere, poisoning their own societies, disorienting their consumers, and electrifying the forces of the Caliphate the world over.

The Caliphater Cogwar against the West

The rest of the world, not knowing that their media was systematically misinforming them according to the instructions of Caliphaters, believed these things. Indeed, the West was one of the target audiences for this performance, and progressive “outrage” – played out in public venues like Durban (2001) and the anti-war rallies of the early aughts (2002, 2003) – united post-colonial progressives and Caliphaters, who joined in angry protests shouting “Death to the Jews!”

And for over a decade, the same journals that newswashed jihadi lethal narratives about Israel, fell silent on the genocidal discourse that war propaganda provoked. By 2014, the cry became so widespread, even the journalists mentioned it. Whatever the calculus on who won in Israel’s military “operations” against her neighbors, every such clash in the 21st century has meant a tenfold victory for the global Caliphaters.

The success of the Caliphater attack on Israel in the West has been immense, and the impact of its disorientation has been extensive on the West’s ability to recognize and deal with developments both in the Middle East (where more Caliphaters are open Jihadis), and in dealing with domestic Caliphaters (largely cogwarriors doing Da’wa). In France, any suggestion that Jihadi terrorists shared traits with wider circles of Muslims gets shouted down, “surtout pas d’amalgames.”

Even Western policy and intelligence circles (James Clapper during the badly misnamed “Arab Spring”, 2011), use the language of moderation for the ur-Caliphater group, Muslim Brotherhood which believes that “the US and Europe will be conquered not by Jihad but by Da’wa.” So Caliphaters, people working for the dominion of Muslims over infidels, the world over, go undetected by Westerners disoriented, in significant part, because they are blinded by the wildly successful, anti-Zionist cogwar campaign Caliphaters conduct against them. In 2015, after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, and again after those on the Bataclan, the French radically underinformed about Caliphaters, asked “Why.”

pourquoi

Place de la République, January 2015

One “high” point in this anti-Zionist cogwar strategy of disorientating the West came in 2002, when Europeans openly cheered on the Jihadi use of suicide terror (against Israel), a weapons soon to be trained on them. In the Spring of 2002, lethal journalists pumped Palestinian war propaganda into the West as news: Israel had massacred hundreds of Palestinian civilians in the “Jenin Massacre” and buried them in mass graves – i.e. just like the Nazis in the Holocaust. Consumers of this lethal narrative came out in the streets to protest, some wearing suicide belts to celebrate the plucky Palestinians, who “had no choice,” but to blow themselves up among Israeli civilians in their desperation (to get a state).

Thus did the global progressive Left completely misread the Jihadi war declared on Israel (and them) and instead treat it as a national liberation movement, and thus did she eagerly greet the first appearance of the most potent weapon of Jihad’s apocalyptic death cult – suicide terror/shahida – a weapon that haunts the 21st century. Had you told the signers of the Hamas Charter that in two decades, infidels would be cheering on shahids and shouting “we are Hamas” in the streets of European capitals, they would have said, “Only Allah can make a people that stupid.”

Jeremy Corbyn, useful infidel and head of Labour Party in England

How much easier to believe that if only Israel weren’t so mean (so Goliathish), then we’d have peace. Those who took the easy path – criticize Israel, shield Palestinians from criticism – dominate the Western public sphere, from the NYT, Le Monde, HaAretz, and the BBC, across the major agencies (Reuters, AP, AFP, Al Jazeera). It’s always easier to criticize those who won’t retaliate than those who will. As a result, own-goal war journalism – running enemy propaganda as news – has dominated news coverage and poisoned the global public sphere for at least 16 years.

BDS represents the most elaborately weaponized form of this cogwar. It mobilizes lethal narratives, especially those newswashed, and displays them on campuses (Israel Apartheid Week), before attempting to get student and scholarly organizations to vote boycotts against the Israel. Like Palestinian war campaigns, they don’t have to win the actual battle, in order to win; even when they lose, they both to stigmatize Israel as a global pariah, and bully academic standards into abandoning their intellectual integrity. Win-win for the losers.

Case Study of Lethal Journalism: NYT and Marwan Barghouti

Possibly the single most disorienting aspect of news coverage in the 21st century, was the way the mainstream news media – the main papers and news agencies and TV news studios – presented the “Second Intifada.” For them, the dominant, indeed, the hegemonic, narrative was the Israeli Goliath trying to crush the Palestinian David. Aside from the deep misunderstanding of all the cultural issues in this region that make Arab and Muslim “secular nationalism” and “freedom fighting” inappropriate terms (as was later so spectacularly illustrated by the “Arab Spring”), it completely missed the other narrative, that of global Jihad.

As a result, Western observers were repeatedly exposed by their journalists to a “lethal journalism” that ran Palestinian Jihadi propaganda as news, and portrayed Israel as the murderous, rogue, colonialists running roughshod on Palestinian “civil society.” So when the IDF went after Palestinian mass-murderers, using global Jihad’s most potent new weapon, suicide mass murder of infidels, not only did the press jump all over false reports of an IDF massacre at Jenin, but European “progressives” actually cheered on the monstrous weapon, soon to be aimed at them. In the 21st century, it turns out, lethal journalism against Israel is actually own-goal lethal journalism: running your enemy’s propaganda as news.

If anyone thinks that the long list of scandalous and damaging errors our journalists have made over the last two decades, is in decline, consider the latest. The New York Times, famous for its scrupulous “back and forth” with authors in its op-ed pages, ran the propaganda of a convicted Palestinian terrorist on its op-ed pages, with no fact-checking, and disguising the nature of his crimes. As a result, readers of the Times were treated to a long anti-Israel diatribe by Marwan Barghouti, described by the editors as “a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian.” One could excuse Westerners so informed for thinking that a) the Palestinian Parliament is an operative democratic institution, and b) a Palestinian leader struggles for his people’s freedom, not their sacrifice in the goal of destroying another people’s freedom.

This time, however, the Times felt the blowback. Vigorous criticism got them a rebuke from the paper’s public editor, prompting a “correction.”

I asked Jim Dao, editor of the Op-Ed pages, about the decision not to include Barghouti’s crimes. Dao noted that the piece does say the author received multiple life sentences but he acknowledged that it doesn’t state the crimes for which he was convicted. “We are drafting an editors’ note that will provide that information,” he said.

Here’s the note, attached after our exchange:

This article explained the writer’s prison sentence but neglected to provide sufficient context by stating the offenses of which he was convicted. They were five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization. Mr. Barghouti declined to offer a defense at his trial and refused to recognize the Israeli court’s jurisdiction and legitimacy.

[snip]

This isn’t a new issue for the Opinion section. I have written before on the need to more fully identify the biography and credentials of authors, especially details that help people make judgments about the opinions they’re reading. Do the authors of the pieces have any conflicts of interest that could challenge their credibility? Are they who they say they are, and can editors vouch for their fidelity?

I see no reason to skimp on this, while failing to do so risks the credibility of the author and the Op-Ed pages.

In this case, I’m pleased to see the editors responding to the complaints, and moving to correct the issue rather than resist it. Hopefully, it’s a sign that fuller disclosure will become regular practice.

I guess beggars can’t be choosy, but this is half-hearted at the most; and the brave Liz Spayd is too easily mollified.

five counts of murder and membership in a terrorist organization?

Fisking Rob Bryan on Bassem Eid: A Glimpse inside the “Pre-Occupied Mind”

I recently had coffee with Bassem Eid, and he mentioned the following article by Rob Bryan that denounces him as a suck-up, a token Palestinian, pandering to right-wing Jewish audiences. It struck me as so classic an expression of what one might call the “preoccupied mind” (or the mindset of members of the “Cult of the Occupation“), that it seemed worth a fisking.

Meet Bassem Eid, the Former Palestinian Human Rights Activist Who’s Sucking Up to the Israel Lobby

Eid once monitored Israeli human rights abuses. Now he defends them before right-wing audiences.
Here’s the pitch, elaborated below. Caveat emptor, this is not about to give you an honest appraisal of either information or opinion.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Bassem Eid, a stocky 58-year-old Palestinian political analyst, stood in front of an audience of about 30 people this June 22 in the law offices of Duval & Stachenfeld in midtown Manhattan. The crowd snacked on stuffed grape leaves and drank red wine from the Northern Galilee region of Israel, eager to hear an exuberant man hold court on the plight of his people.

The Israeli-American Council (IAC), a lobbying organization explicitly dedicated to strengthening theing a st of questions sent to his personal email regarding his speaking fees. Yet the depth of Eid’s hostility towards the very notion of justice for Palestinians was genuinely surprising, as was the total fealty he showed towards the state whose abuses are well-documented.

Good illustration of the cult of the Preoccupation: justice is defined only in terms of denouncing Israel. The slogan “No peace without justice,” along with “Palestine will be free from the river to the sea!” means “No peace with Israel.”

The “abuses” are “well documented” by organizations like Btselem, which Eid left because they refused to document any abuses of Palestinian rights by their thuggish leaders, who reflect an Arab political culture that alleged “human rights” groups like HRW treat with great delicacy while reaching out to the for funding to “document” Israeli “abuses.”

“Friends,” said Eid, spreading his arms wide, “if you will look today to the Middle East map and the growing Islamic terror in the Middle East, in my opinion, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict became the most safe place in the Middle East.” Not once did he criticize the occupation of the West Bank, the blockade of Gaza, or the discriminatory laws passed against Arab citizens of Israel. To him, these were minor details.

Well, when you’re faced with someone with a light wound, and someone who’s at death’s door, it may make sense to shift the attention to the latter, the no cost target, Israel. Bryan will have none of this. Israel’s abuses, which have somehow produced one of the Arab world’s higher-ranking HDI (Israel’s Arabs and oil-rich countries excluded).

Here’s Eid’s way of putting it.

His animated diatribes sounded like the inner monologue of a right-wing member of Israel’s Knesset, inveighing against the “thugs and gangsters of the so-called BDS” and decrying Students of Justice in Palestine as a “bullshit group.”

He was being nice. SJP is one of the nastiest groups out there, and its founder, Hatem Bazian, one of the most aggressive purveyors of a definition of Islamophobia that strangles any criticism of Islam, and surely made Said proud.

His claim that the Arab League is “a rehabilitation center for handicapped people” drew big laughs. (Eid’s preferred rhetorical device is the one-liner, much to the delight of a middle-aged man sitting next to me who responded as though he was witnessing the second coming of Jackie Mason).

It’s so hard to realize that one (or one’s ally) has made oneself into a parody. The Arab League is indeed a big and bad joke. Here’s their ambassador to the UN explaining why Hamas can’t stop bombing Israel even though it means that their own people get bombed back.

Unpacked, this means, “it’s a no brainer (for us) that if we’re getting the stuffings kicked out of us, we have to keep hitting back (to show we’re men).” As the proverb goes: “Fighting an enemy who is stronger is not honor, it’s pride, often the opposite of honor.” Self-preservation, concern for the well-being of their own people? Not high on the Arab League’s priority list.

Eid’s point exactly.

Intellectual Corruption of Intersectional Academics: Ted Swedenburg’s Palestinian Anthropology

In the Phyllis Chesler case, one of the three authors of the letter (fisked here) that got her disinvited was Ted Swedenburg. The letter embodies everything about the current field of post-Oriental Middle Eastern Studies that leads me to conclude that most of its denizens are proleptic dhimmi – the fear of offending Islam, the use of terms like “Islamophobia” to silence dissenting infidels, their invocation of “safe spaces” and allusions to potential violence as a reason to drop a speaker. In turns out, Swedenburg has been at this for a long time.

In an article he wrote in 1989, Swedenburg lays out his methodology, which coincides quite remarkably with the hegemonic discourse across the “humanities” and “social ‘sciences'” of today. How much headway have they made in the last two decades! (HT: YM)

One of the first days after I had moved to Nablus, in November 1984, I had an experience that has now become a daily routine for Israeli settlers in the West Bank. I was driving downtown, when suddenly, bam! the car shook under the impact of a heavy blow to its side. A Palestinian youth, whom I never saw, had darted out of an alley, hurled a large stone, and rapidly vanished. He only man-aged, luckily, to put a large dent above my gas cap and did not break the wind-shield, the usual goal of hurled stones. I guess he singled out my car as a target from all the others on that busy street because its yellow license plates and my appearance led him to believe I was an Israeli settler. (As the holder of a tourist visa, I had to register my car in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, so its yellow plates stood out amidst the distinctive blue-plated vehicles driven by West Bank Palestinians.) I was so shaken that I was ready to give up fieldwork and go straight home.

Earlier anthropologists, who risked far more serious assaults in far less controlled environments – no recently annexed offices and registrations for Napoleon Chagnon, or any of those working a century ago. If an anthropologist wants to understand up close a culture in which violence is a quotidian presence, then he or she needs to be ready to experience some of it. No serious anthropologist feels entitled to safety (talk about white privilege).

My immediate thought was that I, of all people, should never have been stoned. After all, unlike those other Westerners one saw in the West Bank-the settlers, tourists, and embassy officials-I was a good foreigner, working in the best interests of the Palestinians. My response was typical of a mentality I shared with other Westerners who worked as teachers, journalists, or researchers in the occupied territories and sympathized with the Palestinians.

Holocaust Guilt and Holocaust Shame: Parsing Remorse for the Shoa.

 

[My thanks to Rabbi Mark Kujawsky who first helped me understand the difference.]

When I first heard about Catherine Nay – a prominent, mainstream, French journalist – stating on her Europe 1 news program that “with its symbolic charge of this picture, this death annuls, erases the picture of the little Jewish boy, hands up in front of the SS, in the Warsaw Ghetto,” I realized to what an extent Europeans had taken the story of the IDF killing 12-year old Muhammad al Durah in the arms of his father, as a “get-out-of-holocaust-guilt-free card“.

Picture from International ANSWER, Quote from Catherine Nay

At the time I marveled – and continue to marvel – at the astounding folly of the statement. How can a brief, blurry, chopped up video of a boy who, at best was caught in a cross fire started by his own people firing behind him, at worst an outright lethal fake, could eliminate – really replace – a picture that symbolizes the systematic murder of over a million children and their families? How morally disoriented can one get? Apparently escaping guilt made some people – too many people – do strange things… like adopt a supersessionist narrative: Israelis, the new Nazis, Palestinians, the new Jews.

But the profound distinction between guilt and shame suggests that the right formula is “get-out-of-holocaust-shame-free card.” (Doesn’t sound as good.) The difference: guilt is an internally generated sense of moral obligation not to repeat past transgressions, especially egregious ones like the unchecked attempt to exterminate of a helpless minority within one’s own society. Shame, on the other hand, is externally generated, driven by the “shaming look” of others (the “honor-group“). When Germans got caught carrying out a genocide, their nation was not only guilty of the deed, but shamed before the world… for doing it? …or getting caught?

There-in lies a key difference: for guilt, it’s the awareness of the deed and its meaning, for shame, it’s whether others know. In some countries in the world, it’s not a question of whether you’re corrupt or not (everyone is, everyone knows), but just if you get caught. How many teenagers apologize for getting caught? Some adulterers have no sense of wrongdoing, as long as no one else knows. On some level everyone is subject to these concerns.

While honor-shame cultures have moral codes, however, their vulnerability to the fear of shame can readily lead to a jettisoning of any moral concerns. After all, the limbic dread of shame – its disastrous psychological and practical impact on them – kicks in in times of humiliation and fear. Those afflicted with oneidophobia (overriding [limbic] fear of public blame/ humiliation), is that others not see, not know about, not talk about, what they have done, that one not bear the shame publicly, that one need not pay the steep price in social capital for one’s (mis)deeds. After two generations one can easily imagine German youth being fed up with this sense of moral indebtedness of having to bear this blame/shame publicly.

Guilt-integrity has moral codes that operate from within-out, rather than from without-in. Here the awareness of the transgression and the determination to not do it again operate inside the individual, as, for example, in the case of Judah, who refused to repeat his betrayal of his father (in the case of Joseph) with the betrayal of Tamar, the mother of his child (Genesis, 38). That process takes both genuine remorse (for which Joseph later tested), and an understanding of how it could have happened, so as to prevent it from happening again. It involves criticism and self-criticism. It involves a willingness, when absolutely necessary, (beware the public flagellant!), to make the painful sacrifice of public honor in order to maintain private integrity. In the case of Judah, this led to the first renunciation of an honor-killing/shame-murder in recorded history.

Who will defend Western Civilization? Not its “Social Justice Warriors”

David Brooks bemoans the inability of the West to defend itself and its values. The plaint is valid, the analysis deeply superficial and, I’d guess, ineffectual in reaching the “millennials” who think they’ve outgrown the need for those values and the democracies they created. Below a half fisking (critique) and whisking (elaboration) of Brooks’ proleptic threnody for Western civ. HT: YS.

The Crisis of Western Civ

David Brooks, NYT April 21, 2017
Between 1935 and 1975, Will and Ariel Durant published a series of volumes that together were known as “The Story of Civilization.” They basically told human history (mostly Western history) as an accumulation of great ideas and innovations, from the Egyptians, through Athens, Magna Carta, the Age of Faith, the Renaissance and the Declaration of the Rights of Man. The series was phenomenally successful, selling over two million copies.
Note the lack of mention of ancient Israel. The Durants did address the issue what they called Judea, briefly if with limited sympathy in their opening volume, a small fraction of that first volume. In discussing the 6th commandment (thou shall not kill [really murder]) he notes:

nowhere is there so much killing as in the Old Testament; its chapters oscillate between slaughter and compensatory reproduction…

What a bizarre thing for a reader of the Iliad and great admirer of Greece to say! Why is so much of this chapter set on comparing ancient Israel (often, as here, unfavorably) with the worst of other cultures, including Christian religious practices like the inquisition?

That series encapsulated the Western civilization narrative that people, at least in Europe and North America, used for most of the past few centuries to explain their place in the world and in time. This narrative was confidently progressive. There were certain great figures, like Socrates, Erasmus, Montesquieu and Rousseau, who helped fitfully propel the nations to higher reaches of the humanistic ideal.

And Jews were a marginal part of the tale, victims of lamentable Western intolerance (read: aggressive supersessionism), but not actual contributors to that great civilizing venture we call the West. I was astonished, when I finally got introduced to “Western Political Thought” at Columbia, to find that everyone began with Socrates/Plato (5th-4th century BCE) and no attention to the Bible as a political document with remarkably modern resonance.

This Western civ narrative came with certain values — about the importance of reasoned discourse, the importance of property rights, the need for a public square that was religiously informed but not theocratically dominated.
… the principal of equality before the law, the value of manual (productive) labor, literacy and self-empowerment for commoners, respect and empathy for the “other,” criticism and self-criticism, rejection of oppression of those weaker, guilt at wrongdoing, the value of all human life…
It set a standard for what great statesmanship looked like. It gave diverse people a sense of shared mission and a common vocabulary, set a framework within which political argument could happen and most important provided a set of common goals.
And this civilizational consensus became the target of the Caliphaters, hard-zero-sum players from what we Westerners refer to as our “middle ages” or more broadly, pre-modern society, from a world of triumphalist religiosity, holy millennial war and inquisition. They have, with really astonishing success, managed to drive a wedge into democratic civilization and hammer away at fending what has become a internalized clash of civilizations between Western “left” and “right.”
Starting decades ago, many people, especially in the universities, lost faith in the Western civilization narrative. They stopped teaching it, and the great cultural transmission belt broke. Now many students, if they encounter it, are taught that Western civilization is a history of oppression.
Pascal Bruckner wrote about this in his Tyranny of Guilt (in French penitence). Tenured Radicals pursuing their supersessionist, revolutionary agenda. When I was at Columbia (1984-86), a fellow grad student gave a presentation in which he argued that liberalism was a self-creating fantasy that did not collapse in a manner similar to how Wylie Coyote did not fall when he ran over a cliff, until he looked down. I did not at the time imagine that GPL radicals would stampede us off the cliff. Now we have millennials, proud of their unerring instinct for social justice, ready to forgo democracy in search of… ?

Millennial Social Warriors Fighting for Justice
The nice touch here is that it’s Western civilization’s teachings that make it possible to identify this oppression, to detect social injustice in every micro-aggression, every invasion of safe space. You won’t find another civilizational ideology (excepting the Jews) that does not take exceptional privilege for the elite – legal and life-style – as a given. And yet now, the demand for radical social justice=equality (whatever that means) has been turned by those who have been trained in the western (and Jewish) moral tradition(s), exclusively on attacking western (and Jewish) exercise of power.

How Academics think about Freedom of Speech: Fisking the Email that Killed Phyllis Chesler’s Talk on Shame-Murders

In preparing an article on how Phyllis Chesler, one of the few scholars and feminists to tackle the problem of honor-killings/shame murders in the Muslim world (and elsewhere, eg, Hindus in India, Sikhs to a much lesser extent everywhere), got disinvited from a conference on the subject of honor-killings, I managed to get a hold of the email that nixed her invitation. Written by three professors from the King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies at University of Arkansas: Joel Gordon (History, author of email), Ted Swedenburg (Anthropology), and Mohja Kahf (Comparative Literature), it addressed Thomas Paradise, the Head of the King Fahd Center.

The letter is deeply embarrassing to its signers in its stupefying polemic, its craven reasoning, and its complete disregard for academic integrity. My guess (hope) is that its authors will object to its being made public in much the same way that “professors” of Middle Eastern Studies object to having their talks and class lectures made public.

UPDATE: Tom Paradise has been suspended as a result of his canceling Chesler’s participation, and the brave people who scuttled her are busy scrambling to get out of the hot seat. Ted Swedenburg told a journalist:

We did not call for her to be disinvited and how that happened, I don’t really know, because none of the three of us were a party to that discussion.

You be the judge of whether the letter quoted below reflects this disavowal.

NB: issue of terminology. “Honor-killing” is a supposedly neutral term that does not judge. Instead, I think, it enables, using “to kill” where, by any standards of modern democracy, these are murders. My use of “shame-murders” not only identifies the act as murder, but makes it clear that this is not restoring family honor – what family is honored by killing its daughter? – but rather it is a grotesque and criminal way of trying to wipe out shame.

Below, a fisking of this McCarthyite letter attempting to ban a major researcher on the basis of a dogmatic and anti-intellectual ideology.

Dear Tom:

It has come to our attention that MEST is co-sponsoring Phyllis Chesler to lecture via Skype at the University of Arkansas Law School’s symposium about honor killings on 14 April 2017. 

Chesler’s writings frequently feature on the ultra-right Breitbart forum as well as many other right-wing platforms.

“Right-wing” is thus, by definition, not acceptable. Merely the use of the term in describing someone renders that person unpresentable, outside of the realm of acceptable speech.

Honor-Shame Pathologies and 4th Generation Warfare

One of my colleagues with whom I discuss honor-shame issues is Doyle Quiggle, who in addition to his ability to think about what Daniel Lord Smail calls deep history (governed by honor-shame dynamics), also happens to work on military issues: COIN, Fourth Generation Warfare. He recently sent me the following query, which prompted me a formulation that brings together a number of threads of thought:

What aspects of your research and scholarship would you apply to help us reveal the honor dynamics of Somalia? 

The stubborn and irreducible pathology of conflict in Somalia must be accepted as an existential given. Failure to perceive this pathology and its generative sources condemns the analyst and operator to alienation from the primary psychological, social, economic, and security realities of this region.  That blindness will lead to fatal operational consequences, sooner or later. To operate effectively, let alone establish lasting communal stability in any part of this region, we must first see the pathology of conflict in this region for what it is, accept it, no matter how ugly it might be, and then attack its sources. Once exposed, this pathology is immediately seen to require an integrative “oncological” approach to killing both its tumors and its feeder cells.  However, the decisive operational question today is this: Do we continue to pursue a chemotherapeutic tactic (“paint & kill” drone strikes)? Or do we attempt to administer homeopathic remedies? Is the long-term strategy containment or stability?

A strategy of stability requires an organic, homeopathic approach. Paramount to this approach is co-opting local moral authority.  Local moral authority is used as a kind of homeopathy to kill the cancerous stem cells of Islamic extremism and jihad by use of their own pathogens.

[For further elaboration framing the problem, see below.]

My response:

I’d study the pathologies of honor-shame, i.e. the cases when warrior/stratified, zero-sum, cultures find themselves faced with a more powerful positive-sum culture and after losing repeated zero-sum encounters, instead of adapting, going negative-sum: I’d rather lose more and drag you down in the shit than let you win; I’ll even sacrifice myself/honor/family just to make you miserable.

The classic case of this is the Arab-Israeli conflict where, in response to losing a hard-zero-sum war with Israel, the Arabs were in such denial — recognize Israel? admit defeat? impossible! — that they turned the Arab refugees from their lost war into weapons in a longer war against the Zionist entity. (The original meaning of Nakba/catastrophe was coined by the refugees about what Arab leaders had inflicted on them.)

Liberals without memory: Fisking Roger Cohen on Geert Wilders

Roger Cohen has another of his patented editorials, this time about Geert Wilders. Rapid fisking below.

 Somebody Else’s Babies

Roger Cohen MARCH 14, 2017

And so it begins. With the Dutch election on Wednesday, Europe embarks on a yearlong test of how far it’s ready to realign itself as an anti-immigrant, pro-Russian continent marked by ascendant nationalism, alt-Right intolerance and the fragmentation of the European Union.

The worst could happen. Nobody who has watched the British decision to quit the European Union in a strange little-England huff,

Anyone who thinks that English voters ignored all the dire predictions of econapocalypse if Britain left because of a “strange huff,” hasn’t a clue to what’s going on in the minds of people.

or the election of Donald Trump with his “America First” anti-Muslim jingoism, can think otherwise. The liberal order has lost its center of gravity.

It happened in 2000 when the progressive left sided with the Jihadis against a progressive ally (Israel), and dragged a cowardly narcissistic liberal center off kilter. (As Ian Buruma said in 2003, at the height of the suicide terror campaign against Jewish infidels: “it’s a liberal litmus test to be pro-Palestinian.”)

The only difference is that the “liberal order”, which managed to shunt aside any criticism by people who thought something was awry by exiling them to the Islamophobic, xenophobic, war-mongering, right-wing, is now discovering just how much they have alienated just how many people.

Alt-Mid to Alt-Lib: The far right’s new fascination with the Middle Ages

The Economist recently published a piece on the renewed interest in the Middle Ages. Like “fakenews” and “anti-semitism” these are issues that have been alive and well for over two decades without the WMSNM paying much attention. Now that they can be attributed to the “far-right,” they’re back in vogue as “new.” The piece is intellectually as disturbing as its claims about the “right’s” fascination with the MA: it offers a flattened MA, tailored as a refutation of the tribal emotions so common among people back then.

The far right’s new fascination with the Middle Ages

Jan 2nd 2017, 12:05 BY S.N. | CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA

UNTIL fairly recently, it was rare to find Americans who were passionate about both medieval history and contemporary politics.

Guess that makes me, who am writing a book subtitled A Medievalist’s Guide to the 21st Century, rare.

Barring the odd Christian conservative, medievalists tended to lean left: a Marxist grad student, say, mucking around in land ownership patterns to show how past inequalities gave birth to present ones,

NB: not to show how much past inequalities have been overcome, even though none of these Marxists would choose to live in the inequities of the Middle Ages.

or an environmentalist activist, perhaps, fascinated with vegetable-dyed handspun clothing.

I certainly don’t fit either “type,” despite having been accused of being “marxicisant” by Dominique Barthelemy because I thought peasants thought (demotic religiosity) and their actions, based on that thought, especially at the advent of apocalyptic dates, like 1000, was consequential.

My regret is that we have not seen more medievalists work on the rural and urban commune movement of the new millennium (11-13th centuries)… lay textual communities, laboratories of civil society, adumbrations of democracies to come.

But when Americans invoked historical events in politics, they tended to be more recent—the founding of the republic; the struggle against slavery and segregation; victory over Nazi Germany.

This has changed. Since the September 11th attacks, the American far right has developed a fascination with the Middle Ages and the Renaissance—in particular, with the idea of the West as a united civilisation that was fending off a challenge from the East.

Had the “mainstream” of the public sphere, alerted by honest information professionals, developed an interest in medieval apocalyptic beliefs and “holy war,” which might have made Al Qaeda and Hamas more understandable as apocalyptic global imperialists, radicals might have been embarrassed to be associated with the folly of seeing them as “resistance warriors” just like us.

We are Hamas London 2009

Anti-Israel Rally, London, January 2009

Fake News and Queer Theory: Feminists on Anti-Semitism at Hebrew U.

This post is now up at Times of Israel.

I just attended a session at the Sassoon Center for Antisemitism at Hebrew University on Sartre and the Jewish Question.

11:15-13:15 Session 3 Sartre, Fanon, and the Subject of Decolonization

Chair: Martina Weisz, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Louise Bethlehem, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Sartre, Fanon and the Subject of Decolonialization: Preliminary Remarks

Vinzia Fiorino, University of Pisa Jean Paul Sartre, “Frantz Fanon and Carla Lonzi: a Bizarre Genealogy”

Nina Fischer, University of Edinburgh “Minor (Transnational) Intersections: Jews and Aboriginal Australians between Anti-Semitism and Racism”

Sarika Talve-Goodman, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem “Blackness and the Body in a Transnational Frame: From ‘Anti-Semite and Jew’ to Black Lives Matter”

Revital Madar, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem “A Moment of Inconsistency: Letting the Black Body into the Sphere of Western Humanity”

About half way through the introductory remarks by Bethlehem I realized I was actually witnessing the kind of parody that I had only imagined in reading Judith Butler: a presentation thick with feminist, queer theory, jargon, promoting a radical (even messianic) political agenda of liberation and authenticity, that, among others, considered axiomatic the identity of Black and Palestinian suffering; and the corresponding racism of Israelis and American whites.

Sarika Talve-Goodman traced an arc of “racially marked bodies unfit for personhood,” and the “heterosexism” that drove this inhumane way of treating the “other,” from European racist imperialism (Fanon) through Israeli treatment of Palestinians and police treatment of Blacks in the US. In her “intersectional and herstorical perspective,” all this is part of a liberationist agenda aimed at challenging “violent imperial masculinity” with “a theory of sexuality” that promotes a “non-homophobic, non-racist politics.”

All of this discourse might just have been an academic matter, amusing to some, obviously very grave from the perspective of its performers.  But these revolutionaries take their vocation seriously. These were not theoretical speculations divorced from the real world, but attempting at least, to engage the world, and presumably, to influence the world, profoundly. And part of the movement involves making common cause with other victims of hierarchical (state, hetero-patriarchy) interventions.

(Talve-Goodman advertised her approach as offering to “open our collective eyes to new dimensions of state interventions into our lives.”)

Ferguson, she asserted, became “ground zero” in the global struggle against racism. “For a moment, Ferguson became the world.”  And in that moment, that the Palestinian and Black movements came together in intersectional solidarity. The brave new alliance of the coming years of world struggle against racism.

Said’s Disorientations

MEQ just published my article on Edward Saïd. They entitled it “‘Celebrating’ Orientalism,” which I presume is meant to be ironic. My more direct title was “Disoriented by Saïd: The Contribution of Post-Colonialism to 21st century Jihadi Cognitive War.”

While a number of people have noted how long the piece was, including Elder of Ziyon, it was much longer when I first submitted it. I post below the longer original version for the three people who might be interested in further details, deconstructing Saïd’s covert tribalist and Orientalist attitudes.

The section on Oslo, also highlighted by Elder, has been translated into Polish, by Malgorzata Koraszewska at her blog, Listy z naszego sadu.

Disoriented by Saïd:

The Contribution of Post-Colonialism to 21st century Jihadi Cognitive War

Although Edward Saïd’s impact on the field of Middle Eastern Studies, and beyond, across the social sciences and the humanities, has been viewed from many perspectives, as a brilliant triumph, or as tragedy, few question the astonishing scope and penetration of Orientalism on the academic world. Here I wish to investigate the (unintended) role played by Saïd, and the post-colonial school of thought his works fostered, in the way that the West has so far handled the cognitive-war that triumphalist Muslims[1] wage in their stated goal of imposing Dar al Islam on democratic polities.

Orientalism played a central role in a transformation of academic discourse in the last two decades of the second millennium, assuring the ascendency of critical theory and post-colonialism.[2] The book, despite its enthusiastic reception among many, also received extensive criticism on both the micro and macro level – the multiple (uncorrected) errors that, in many cases reveal a profound ignorance about the history of the Middle East, the selective focus (nothing on major school of German [non-imperialist] scholarship), the tendency to the same essentialism when dealing with Western scholars that it condemned when dealing with inhabitants of the constructed fantasy, the “Orient,” and of course, the reductive thesis (knowledge essentially a form of wielding power, a tool imperialism).[3] Here I wish to look at what may be an unintended consequence of this book’s success – its contribution to the success of the subsequent cogwar waged by global Jihadis against a West they wanted to invade.

In the last five years alone, Saïd’s epigones in academia, journalism, punditry, and policy, have been spectacularly poor in their depictions and analyses of, and prescriptions for acting in, the Middle East. One might even venture to say that they misread every major development, from the democratic “Arab Spring” (2010) to today’s regional melt-down of state apparatus. And the lamentable state of President Obama’s understanding testifies to their signal failure.

Thus this collapse comes under the blows of the most savage kind of tribal and religious warfare, whose very presence, much less remarkable appeal to Muslims in the West, the post-colonial academy studiously avoided discussing.[4] Now we witness the displacement of tens of millions of refugees fleeing these political catastrophes, now pressing, not as conquerors but as victims, at the gates of Europe. In all this, Western information professionals have catastrophically failed in their task of informing knowledgeable, intelligent and effective decision making.

If we have any hope of figuring out what to do for the rest of the 21st century in dealing with this generational war that Western democratic societies have to fight with the forces of global Jihad, we need to rethink our reliance on Edward Saïd’s cognitive and moral compass. The remainder of this essay is dedicated to furthering that agenda by examining one critical area of scholarship that Saïd’s influence has blighted – the topic of honor-shame cultures – and applying it to one of the more catastrophic and persistent diplomatic blunders of the late 20th century produced by that cognitive damage – the Oslo Accord and the ensuing “cult of the occupation.”

Progressive and Caliphater Millennialism: Interview in Mishpacha Magazine

Machla Abramowitz interviewed me in Mischpacha magazine. It was initially done as coverage of a talk I gave in Montreal on BDS and Cogwar (definitions posted here), but mutated into a much more complex discussion of messianism and the progressive left. The (slightly) longer version I post below may clarify some of the obscurities in my published responses.

For anyone interested in a more extensive discussion of the unfortunate convergence of progressive left and jihadi millennialism, see “Progressive and Jihadi Movements in Action: A Study in Interacting Millennial Currents in the Early 3rd Millennium (2000-2020).”

The End Game

Millennialism: where progressivism and jihad meet.

By Machla Abramovitz

Mishpacha Magazine, 29 Cheshvan, 5777.

They believe in the coming of a messianic epoch, one in which humanity will unite and peace and justice will reign. Their enemies are conservatives and traditionalists, or those who fail to comprehend the arc of history and humanity’s final destiny.

No, they’re not an apocalyptic cult hatching a plot in a South American jungle hideout, but modern progressives who subscribe to the idea of “millennialism.”

Richard Landes, a former professor of Medieval Studies at Boston University, and currently the senior fellow with the Center of International Communication at Bar Ilan University, is one of their leading critics. For decades, Landes has been studying the phenomenon of millennialism, or the belief that a messianic era of justice, peace and abundance is coming soon, often preceded by a massive disruptive (apocalyptic) event. Now, with the election of Donald J. Trump and the protests that have exploded nationwide, the world is witness to many expressions of millennialism, and, as is common, to disappointed expectations. The arc of history that bends towards justice has lurched into reverse.

Bibliography of Articles on the MSNM’s Trumpfail

The unanticipated victory of Trump has left the MSNM in something of a quandary. Their scarcely concealed advocacy for Clinton, and contempt for Trump, for his supporters, even for pundits expressed the heretical speculation that he “might” win, have combined to produce the  spectacular shift from 85% odds in favor of Clinton (NYT) to 95% in favor of Trump in little more than 2 hours, once real returns started coming in Tuesday night.

In addition to the immense consternation Trump’s victory has caused, it has also produced some interesting introspection and self-criticism on the part of at least some journalists. Below is a preliminary collection of the articles that engage in this auto-critique. I welcome other suggestions, and annotations/comments on the articles themselves. Eventually, I’d like to compare the media failure with reporting the US Elections to their failure with reporting the Middle East conflict: the same “liberal” advocacy, narrative-driven reporting that ignored realities on the ground.

Brian Beutly, “Shame on Us, the American Press,” The New Republic, November 8, 2016.

Michael Cieply, “Stunned By Trump, The New York Times Finds Time For Some Soul-Searching,” Deadline Hollywood, November 10, 2016. Cieply worked for the NYT and has interesting things about the culture at the Times:

It was a shock on arriving at the New York Times in 2004, as the paper’s movie editor, to realize that its editorial dynamic was essentially the reverse. By and large, talented reporters scrambled to match stories with what internally was often called “the narrative.” We were occasionally asked to map a narrative for our various beats a year in advance, square the plan with editors, then generate stories that fit the pre-designated line.

Reality usually had a way of intervening. But I knew one senior reporter who would play solitaire on his computer in the mornings, waiting for his editors to come through with marching orders. Once, in the Los Angeles bureau, I listened to a visiting National staff reporter tell a contact, more or less: “My editor needs someone to say such-and-such, could you say that?”

The bigger shock came on being told, at least twice, by Times editors who were describing the paper’s daily Page One meeting: “We set the agenda for the country in that room.”

Will Rahn, “Commentary: The unbearable smugness of the press,” CBS News, November 10, 2016.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that, with a few exceptions, we were all tacitly or explicitly #WithHer, which has led to a certain anguish in the face of Donald Trump’s victory. More than that and more importantly, we also missed the story, after having spent months mocking the people who had a better sense of what was going on.

This is all symptomatic of modern journalism’s great moral and intellectual failing: its unbearable smugness. Had Hillary Clinton won, there’d be a winking “we did it” feeling in the press, a sense that we were brave and called Trump a liar and saved the republic.

Tiffany Gabbay, “A Rebuke to the Media From Joe Scarborough,” Truth Revolt, November 11, 2016

When Mark Halperin suggested that there was a pathway for Donald Trump as president of the United States, I won’t name names because so many of them are my friends and there’s no need to name names now because the time for recrimination is over. But reporters at some of the best newspapers in the world, anchors at some of the best networks in the world, mocked and ridiculed — Mark Halperin, I want you to think about this. They mocked and ridiculed him not for saying that Donald Trump is going to be elected president of the United States. They mocked and ridiculed him for saying there was a slight chance that Donald Trump could be elected president of the United States.

Michael Goodman, “New York Times: We Blew it on Trump,”  NY Daily News, November 11, 2016

Had the paper actually been fair to both candidates, it wouldn’t need to rededicate itself to honest reporting. And it wouldn’t have been totally blindsided by Trump’s victory.

Instead, because it demonized Trump from start to finish, it failed to realize he was onto something. And because the paper decided that Trump’s supporters were a rabble of racist rednecks and homophobes, it didn’t have a clue about what was happening in the lives of the Americans who elected the new president…

As media columnist Jim Rutenberg put it in August, most Times reporters saw Trump “as an abnormal and potentially dangerous candidate” and thus couldn’t be even-handed.

That wasn’t one reporter talking — it was policy. The standards, developed over decades to force reporters and editors to be fair and to build public trust, were effectively eliminated as too restrictive for the Trump phenomenon.

The man responsible for that rash decision, top editor Dean Baquet, later said the Rutenberg piece “nailed” his thinking, and went on to insist that Trump “challenged our language” and that, “He will have changed journalism.”

Arthur Sulzberger Jr. and Dean Baquet, “To Our Readers, From the Publisher and Executive Editor,” NYT, November 13, 2016

Jim Rutenberg, “News Outlets Wonder Where the Predictions Went Wrong,” November 13, 2016

How the Mainstream Media Missed Trump’s Momentum, PBS, November 13, 2016

Some earlier reflections when Trump won the nomination:

Nate Cohen, “What I got wrong about Donald Trump,” New York Times, May 4, 2016

Sean Trende, “The Value of Data Journalism,” May 12, 2016

Nate Silver, “How I Acted Like A Pundit And Screwed Up On Donald Trump,” Fivethirtyeight, May 18, 2016.