Category Archives: Demopaths and Dupes

People have rights. Ideas do not have Rights.

HT: Jeffrey Bale who notes:

It should go without saying that in a truly free society, no ideas, beliefs, and ideologies have a “right” not to be criticized, just as no individual has a “right” not to be offended by criticism of his or her ideas. It’s sad that one nowadays feels compelled to state this obvious point, over and over again, in a world in which so many people apparently feel that their beliefs should be immune from criticism or that no one else has a right to offend them.

 

This problem is about to reach epic proportions if the European Parliament enacts a well-intentioned but misconceived legislation against “intolerance” (which protects an undefined “Islamophobia“). All of this effort to legislate tolerance and mutual respect stems from the appalling inability of the progressive intellectual elite to speak out against the grotesque abuse of free speech by Muslims who revile Israel with Nazi-like hate speech.

If they did (rather than defend it as “free speech” – as if free speech should not be criticized), we wouldn’t need legislation that is just waiting to be exploited by demopaths. The response to intolerance is courageous criticism, not legislation.

 

 

 

 

Pallywood in Egypt: What does this tell us about what “they” think of “us”?

First consider the following photograph:

behind the factory 1

This was taken at Netzarim Junction on September 30, 2000. The day that Al Durah was shot on film by Talal Abu Rahma. The picture was made public by AP. I use it in lectures to introduce Pallywood.

The closer you look, the less the picture makes sense. Who are these people and what are they doing? Running from what? Ducking from what? Fire? From where? What kind? And why aren’t the people behind them ducking or running?

And what happens when you realize that the building in the upper left shields this entire area from Israeli fire which could only come from their position behind that building, and which they never left that day?

001-netzarim up diagonal include twin

 

The scene we’re looking at takes place along the road to the bottom left. The building we see in the background is labeled in Hebrew in red (“the factory”), and the Israeli position is behind it, labeled in blue (Magan 3).

In other words, the entire scene is staged, and all these figures are playing for the camera. Indeed, one might phrase it that they are reacting to camera fire.

Now none of that really makes sense to us in the West. When I show this to audiences, people try hard to read the picture as real, not staged. It can’t be that an entire street full of people are involved in such stuff. (James Fallows fall back on al Durah being staged is that it couldn’t happen without someone leaking the story, as if Palestinian culture were identical to ours in these matters of dissent.)

It’s precisely our desire not to believe that Palestinians or Arabs would be so blatantly deceptive that makes us so gullible to a major element of their cogwar against us, namely the manipulation of the (inexcusably) credulous Western news media to create sympathy among the (excusably, if stupidly) empathic Western public, eager to side with the (perceived) underdog.

So now we have serious, comic evidence of Pallywood at work in the Morsi camp in Egypt.

And here’s more of the same, although (a tiny bit) less obvious, from Syria.

What does this tell us about what they think of us, that such patent fakes could conceivably move Western public opinion (note the English signs), and, say, help convince the US government that it should cut off aid to Egypt in reprisal for the behavior of the current ruling group?

That we’re stupid? Unquestionably. The sad thing is, they may well be right. After all, our policy-makers seem to have their major offices on rekaB Street.

American Vanity and Ambition Plays the Fool in Middle East Political Culture

I’ve posted some items on the upcoming “negotiations.” Here I just want to draw your attention to three recent analyses on key American players in this charade of negotiations: Kerry and Indyk, both of whom consider messing with the only relatively stable situation in the Middle East an extremely short-sighted career “win.” Talk about making others pay for your fifteen minutes of fame.

Indyk: Noah Pollak, “What does Martin Indyk Believe

Between 2006 and 2009, no relevant facts on the ground in the Middle East had changed: Iran was still pursuing nuclear weapons, Bashar al-Assad was still the dictator of Syria, and Hezbollah was still entrenched in Lebanon. Only one fact had changed, and it was a Washington fact: Barack Obama had become the president, and he had made “engagement” with Syria a pillar of his Middle East policy. Indyk dutifully discarded his previous objections to the idea.

Give him his due: His shameless positioning and audacious reversals have been successful where they were intended to count – not in making “the cause of peace his life mission,” as Kerry said about him yesterday, but in advancing his career. Step one was showing his loyalty to Obama after betting on the wrong candidate in 2008; step two was burnishing his image as a tough-minded veteran of the Middle East who understands why things went wrong in Obama’s first term and can be counted on to get it right in his second term. On the substance, it’s been an awful, tawdry display. But as a matter of Washington careerism, Indyk’s press conference yesterday, where he was introduced and praised by the secretary of state, is inarguable proof of success.

Kerry: Lee Smith, “Requiem for the Peace Process

The peace process has entered its mannerist phase—it is nothing but a series of empty elegant formalisms. Does Martin Indyk, Kerry’s newly named Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations, really need to add a sequel to his memoirs of the peace process, Innocent Abroad—Again?

The Media’s “Take” on Negotiations: How Palestinian Cogwar has Checkmated Israel in Western Public Opinion

My friend Avi Bell sent me the following. While exaggerated for effect, it’s a recognizable Catch 22 for Israel and a “get-out-of-responsibility-free card” for the Palestinians. Heads we lose, tails, they win.

It’s a good example of a complete cogwar victory for the Palestinians. It shows that and how (but not why) our current herd of independent journalists so extensively plays voluntary dhimmi to the Palestinian cause. When Riccardo Cristiano told Yasser Arafat that his network always reported according to “the procedures for reporting from the Palestinian territories,” he meant, among many other things, this:

If Israel refuses to negotiate, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because it refuses to negotiate.

If the Palestinians refuse to negotiate, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because the Palestinians can see negotiations with Israel are pointless.

If Israel makes preconditions to negotiations, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because it is trying to avoid negotiations.

If the Palestinians make preconditions to negotiations, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because the Palestinians have to force Israel to be serious in the negotiations.

If Israel makes no offer of peace, that proves Israel is not interested in peace.

If the Palestinians make no offer of peace, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because the Palestinians can see that making offers of peace with Israel are pointless.

If Israel makes an offer of peace and the Palestinians reject it, that proves Israel is not interested in peace, because Israel is not willing to make the kind of offer the Palestinians would accept.

There are variations on this, e.g.,:

If Arabs make war, but offer to end it, that proves that Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because the Arabs offered peace. (Thomas Friedman/Arab “peace” initative)

If Israel makes war, but offers to end it, that proves that Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because Israel made war. (Defensive Pillar, Lebanon II, etc.)

If Arabs attack, that proves Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because Israel provoked the Arabs to attack.

If Israel attacks, that proves Israel is interested in war and Arabs are interested in peace, because Israel attacked.

If Palestinians carry out acts of terrorism, that proves that Israel is mistreating the Palestinians, because the Palestinians feel they have no choice but to carry out acts of terrorism.

If Palestinians try to carry out acts of terrorism, but Israel foils them, that proves that Israel is mistreating the Palestinians, because Israel is carrying out anti-terror actions against the Palestinians even while there is no terrorism.

If Palestinians don’t try to carry out acts of terrorism, that proves that Israel is mistreating the Palestinians, because the Palestinians are good and innocent and Israel uses terrorism as an excuse to mistreat Palestinians.

Now why the intelligentsia would want to double handicap the Israelis and double empower the Palestinians may strike a sound and sober reader as not only unfair, but pretty stupid, given the kinds of voices that dominate the Palestinian public sphere. But to people inebriated by their power to “level the playing field” by giving the weak “underdog” a break, it’s something virtually no one in the news media would question.

Suicidal intelligentsia’s anyone?

War, the Sport of Kings, the bane of Democracies and Obama’s Dilemma in Syria

The New Yorker has a great cartoon that is at once funny, sad, true (especially to people like medievalists who study pre-modern cultures), and paralyzingly foolish. (HT: The Fosters)


we right they wrong

It is, alas, true that most wars are fought on something approximating this principle. A pre-Islamic poem expresses the fearful symmetry of the phenomenon poignantly:

Then we, no doubt, are meat for the sword
And, doubtless, sometimes
we feed it meat.
By foe bent on vengeance, we are attacked,
Our fall his cure; or we, vengeance-bent,
Attack the foe.
Thus have we divided time in two,
Between us and our foe,
Till not a day goes by but we’re
In one half or the other.

Al-Marzuqi, Hamasah 2: 825-27, cited in Steykevych, Mute Stones Speak, p. 63.

Study on the link between financial woes and sensationalist anti-Israel coverage at Ha-aretz

There are some papers which, as much by their literary standards, as by their journalistic standards, stand out as the paper favored by the intellectual elite: The Guardian in England, Le Monde in France, The New York Times in the USA, and Ha-aretz in Israel. If only for their cultural material they are much prized. And, perhaps not surprisingly (but, I think, we should be “surprised” by everything these days), they have a “leftist,” progressive slant. Much has been written about the decline of the NYT’s coverage of the Middle East, not to mention its tendency to reject or heavily edit editorials from the “right,” and run without any editing, editorials from the flakey leftThe Guardian is so bad, it has a website dedicated exclusively to exposing its delirious tendencies towards anti-Semitism. In 2003, a devastating study came out chronicling the collapse of journalistic ethics (in French déontologie) of Le Monde. And now, a new study, traces the decline of standards and the rise of politicized, radical “left” slant in Israel’s Ha-aretz.

Note that all of the critiques have emerged in the last decade, the period of time in which, we argue at The Al Durah Project, the mainstream news media (MSNM), were taken over, at least in their coverage of the Middle East, by a school of “lethal journalists” who systematically injected Palestinian lethal narratives into the information systems of the West as news. It’s hard to exaggerate the role of Ha-aretz in this process. Foreign correspondents read its English edition religulously as their source of information.

NB: this is not because it’s their only access to an English translation. I once asked a journalist if she had read Khaled abu Toameh.

“Who’s he?”

“He writes for the Jerusalem Post.”

“Oh, I don’t read that right wing rag.”

Instead the international press corps prefer a “left”-wing rag. When I presented the al Durah material to my students, one of them, commenting on Ha-aretz’s relentless denunciation and mockery of any effort to exculpate Israel, asked,

“Isn’t Ha-aretz an Israeli paper?”

“Yes,” I replied, “why do you ask?”

“Because it sounds like a Palestinian one.”

As one critic wrote to Ha-aretz in response to a subscription request, “If I want to read a Palestinian paper, I prefer to read it in Arabic.”

Now, after a series of grotesque cases of anti-Israel coverage that violated all the principles of accurate journalism, a study has come out detailing the indictment of the paper’s radical direction.

Headquarters of Haaretz, Israel's once-venerable newpaper. Photo: The Tower/Aviram Valdman

Downfall of a Great Newspaper

Erez Tadmor

Political editor at Mida Magazine.

Slashed budgets, plummeting standards, and political radicalization have turned Israel’s most respected newspaper into a case study in the collapse of modern journalism.

In early April of this year, the controversial Haaretz reporter Amira Hass, whose coverage of Palestinian violence over the last decade has often prompted accusations of bias, caused a major stir when she published a column called “The Internal Syntax of the Occupation.” Most provocative was her claim that “throwing stones is the hereditary right and duty of someone under a foreign power”—words that appeared only a few days after Adele Biton, a 3-year old Israeli girl, was critically injured when a Palestinian threw a rock at the car her mother was driving, causing it to slam into a commercial truck.

In a Sunday interview with journalist Kalman Libskind of the radio station Galei Yisrael, Haaretz publisher Amos Schocken set out to defend Hass’s article. Growing flustered, however, Schocken ended up saying that moving to a settlement was a form of deliberately endangering the welfare of one’s children, something that in another context would trigger the intervention of social services. As for Hass’s sympathy for rock-throwers, Schocken refused to distance himself. “Sometimes,” he concluded, “you have to fight violence with violence.”

The method Amos Schocken chose to defend Hass’s article, and his defense of editor-in-chief Aluf Benn’s decision to publish the piece in full, sheds some light on the recent changes at the once-venerable Israeli daily. In a series of interviews conducted with current and former Haaretz employees, some of whom held high-level positions at the paper and most of whom still hold it close to their hearts, a consensus emerged to the effect that the paper is undergoing a process of major change that has led to a dramatic reduction in staff, a precipitous decline in journalistic standards, and a willful radicalization of its politics in pursuit of Internet traffic.

Veteran Haaretz reporter Amira Hass. Photo: Yossi Zamir/Flash90

Radicalizing. Veteran Haaretz reporter Amira Hass. Photo: Yossi Zamir/Flash90

As Israel’s longstanding newspaper of record, these developments have raised important questions about the future of print journalism, especially in a country where a free and dynamic press has always been at the center of Israel’s democratic discourse.

Are we waking up? Maher calls it “liberal bullshit”

Bill Maher hosted Brian Levin, professor at CSU-San Bernardino, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. The exchange is most illuminating, primarily for what it shows about the kind of “therapeutic” scholarship that dominates the academy. HT: Jeff Poor at Daily Caller). Comments interspersed in the transcipt below.

BM: I’m always interested to know how people like the people we caught today up in Boston can have two minds going at the same time. I mean if you read what the older brother wrote on the internet, he said his world view “Islam” personal priorities, “Career and Money.” And we see this a lot. I mean the 9-111 hijackers went to strip clubs the night they got on the plane.”

BL: Could I just interject. Look, it’s not like people who are Muslim who do wacky things have a monopoly on it. We have hypocrites across faiths… Jewish, Christian who say they’re out for God and they end up…

Levin immediately takes Maher to refer to the hypocrisy of it all, when (particularly as a scholar) he might have addressed the issue of cognitive dissonance, and the kind of “doubling” that Robert Jay Lifton analyzes in Nazi DoctorsBut instead he immediately reaches for the “we too…” meme of moral equivalence.

BM: You know what, yeah, yeah, You know what — that’s liberal bullshit right there … I mean yes there … all faiths…

BL: There are no Christian hypocrites? You made a career on that!

Levin is very confident here, thinking that with Maher, producer of Religulous, he has a like-minded interlocutor. 

Suicidal Auto-stupefaction from a Belgian Deputy

People’s Party” Belgian deputé, Laurent Louis, espouses conspiracy theory (HT: Jean-Philippe Desmet):
Les attentats de Boston ou comment en quelques instants stigmatiser la Russie et les Musulmans… Encore un beau coup médiatique des sionistes ! Quelles seront les conséquences de ce pseudo attentat ? Une nouvelle limitation des libertés fondamentales ? Une nouvelle attaque contre les pays musulmans ? L’invasion de la Syrie ou pourquoi pas la déstabilisation de la Russie ? Il ne s’agit peut-être aussi que d’un coup de poker politique d’Obama pour justifier une reprise de la mobilisation militaire américaine dans le monde… Un prix Nobel de la Paix, ça ne peut pas partir en guerre pour une broutille… Les frères Tsarnaev, ça me fait penser au cas de Mohamed Merah, ce jeune pion utilisé par Sarkozy pour créer un vent de panique en France et espérer assurer sa ré-élection… Ah, que de manipulations !!!”The Boston attacks, or how in a few moments one can stigmatize Russia and the Muslims… Another great media coup of the Zionists. What will be the consequences of this pseudo-attack? A new limitation of fundamental liberties [e.g., the right to stay unbelievably stupid things - rl]? A new attack against Muslimc ountries? The invasion of Syria or why not the destablilization of Russia? It may just be a political poker move of Obama to justify un renewal of the american military mobilization in the world… A Nobel Peace Prize winner, can’t just go to war for nothing… The Tsarnaev brothers makes me think of Mohamed Merah, that young pawn used by Sarkozy to creat a wind of panic in France in the hopes of reassuring his re-election… Ah, what manipulations!!!
Nothing can penetrate the conspiratorial mind bent on self-destruction.

Le nouveau livre d’Enderlin: Syndrome d’omnipotence masochiste

Dans un de ses commentaires sur l’affaire al Durah, Enderlin insiste que les gens qui lui critiquent au sujet de son emission du 30 septembre, 2000, le font parce qu’ils s’opposent à sa politique.


“C’est un procès de diffamation contre moi [sic - c'est lui qui fait le procès de diffamation contre Karsenty]… c’est une campagne de calomnie par des gens qui rejettent mes diffusions, mes documentaires et mes livres.”

Avec son dernier livre, on commence à comprendre: il manipule la vérité à tout occasion. L’affaire al Durah n’est pas une bavure isolé, mais plutôt une méthode de travail. J’avais déjà l’occasion de voir cette méthode a Harvard. C’est ce que j’appelle “Masochistic omnipotence syndrome” – c’est tout de notre faute, et si on était meilleur, on pourrait tout résoudre.

Voici un compte rendu de son nouveau livre par un bloggeur français remarquable, Victor Perez.

DIMANCHE 21 AVRIL 2013

Le dernier livre de Charles Enderlin

Si l’on avait le moindre doute quant au refus israélien d’une ‘’juste solution’’ pour le conflit proche-oriental, grâce aux bons soins du ‘’professionnel’’ (avec guillemets) Charles Enderlin, le public en est informé. Il suffit de lire le tout début des articles publicisant son dernier livre, voire seulement leurs titres, pour connaître le nom du coupable, du fauteur de paix. Des papiers, favorables au livre, repris, évidemment, par les alliés idéologiques de celui-ci tel Palestine Solidarité qui se targue d’être un « Site d’information sur la Palestine, le Moyen-Orient… » (Sic).
Ne dit-on pas qui se ressemble s’assemble?
Un livre dans lequel, assure le JDD, « Défilent (…) des portraits de rabbins enflammés, de colons armés, de dirigeants politiques pris au piège et, en creux, les contours d’unepopulation israélienne otage de ses extrémismes ».
Un livre qui garantit que depuis la guerre des six jours de 1967 « la mouvance des colons est devenue une force dominante dans la société israélienne, avec un discours théologique eschatologique » dixit le ‘’journaliste’’ (avec guillemets) de France 2.
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Dominante ? Sur quoi s’appuie l’auteur pour affirmer cette ‘’vérité’’ sinon sur sa seule doctrine voyant en l’Israélien le fauteur de paix ? Doctrine que l’on aperçoit déjà sur la quatrième de couverture de son livre intitulé « Au nom du Temple » et qui installe l’israélien comme « colon » du lieu le plus saint du Judaïsme.
La présentation de l’éditeur, faite bien sûr avec l’accord de l’auteur, assure que « Plongeant ses sources dans la haute antiquité biblique, le fondamentalisme messianique juif a pris son essor en juin 1967, après la conquête de la Cisjordanie et, surtout, du Haram Al-Sharif, le troisième lieu saint de l’Islam – là où se trouvent aussi les ruines du Temple d’Hérode, là où le patriarche Abraham avait prétendu sacrifier son fils Isaac ».

The Arab-Israeli Conflict for Dummies: Barry Rubin explains why Kerry’s “peace” push is bad for peace

For many of us who understand how political cultures driven by honor-shame imperatives operate, the Sisyphean tendency of well-intentioned “peace makers” to “restart” the Oslo Process after its explosion into the Oslo Intifada in 2000, serves as a apt illustration of the (mis-)attributed quote of “Einstein’s” - the definition of insanity is trying the same thing and expecting a different result. (So un-Einsteinian: you can never try “the same thing.”)

So when someone like John Kerry takes over at State and goes on a tour of the area looking for how he can jump-start the peace process based on the principles of the Politically-correct paradigm in which we are all positive-sum players and if only we sweeten the pot for the Palestinians, they’ll join in, many of us roll our eyes and know he’s doomed to failure.

What few people consider is what Rubin analyzes here: not only is Kerry’s approach not going to work, if it did, it would make things worse. Not just, one step forward, two backward, but, as in 2000, blowback in our face. Consider Rubin’s analysis.

Why “Progress” Toward Israel-Palestinian “Peace” Is More Likely to Bring Regional Instability

April 10th, 2013 – 7:13 am 

Secretary of State John Kerry has what-should-be-discredited cliché about the Middle East firmly ensconced in his head. Of course, he is not alone. I just briefed a European diplomat who came up with the exact formulation I’m going to deal with in a moment. What is disconcerting—though long familiar—is that Western policymakers hold so many ideas that are totally out of touch with reality.

They do not allow these assumptions to be questioned. On the contrary, it is astonishing to find how often individuals in elite positions have never heard counter-arguments to these beliefs. It is easy to prove that many of these ideas simply don’t make sense, but it is nearly impossible to get elite intellectuals, officials, and politicians to open their minds to these explanations.

This is a fascinating point. The PCP has literally eclipsed all other approaches in the minds of the Western elites. It becomes unthinkable to view the situation otherwise.

Yet we can’t just believe what we want to believe, what we’d like to see happen, what we hope for. Reality must be faced or things will be worse. Having uunexamined utopian ideas dominate this topic does not serve anyone’s interests.

Well, it does serve the interests of the demopaths, who keep pushing all our liberal buttons as a way to have things go worse. But we fine Westerners don’t even want to admit that there are enemies, much less ones that use our values to destroy us.

Let me give a single example. Here are Kerry’s observations after touring the Middle East:

“I am intensely focused on this issue and the region because it is vital really to American interests and regional interests to try and advance the peace process and because this festering absence of peace is used by groups everywhere to recruit and encourage extremism.”

Supposedly, then, the reason that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is so important and urgent to solve is that otherwise it is a powerful force in encouraging extremism. Of course, steps toward easing Israel-Palestinian tensions and stabilizing the situation are good but have no positive effect on the region.

Let’s stipulate that it would be a very good thing if this conflict would be resolved in a stable and compromise way. Let’s further stipulate that this isn’t going to happen.

But there is another point which sounds counter-intuitive and yet makes perfect sense:

Resolving the conflict in some way will encourage even more extremism and regional instability. How can I say that? Very simple.

Islamist groups and governments, along with radical Arab nationalists, Iran, and others, are determined to prevent any resolution of the issue. Anything other than Israel’s extinction they hold to be treason. If—and this isn’t going to happen—Israel and the Palestinian Authority made a comprehensive peace treaty those forces would double and triple their efforts to subvert it.

The folly of “linkage” is precisely the misunderstanding of what drives the conflict. If, as Obama and his advisors wanted to do at the beginning of his first administration, we “solve” the Arab-Israeli conflict, then, with the Arabs happy, we go after Iran. The only problem is that even if some (how many?) Arab leaders might be “happy” with a resolution that still left an Israeli state present and autonomous in the heart of Dar al Islam, far more would find that utterly unacceptable. Not only is linkage a Rube Goldberg machine, but it’s one that strewn with landmines just waiting to explode.

The government of Palestine would face determined domestic opposition, including assassination attempts on the “traitors” who made peace. Palestinian factions would claim to be more militant than their rivals and would seek to use the new state as a basis for attacking Israel in order to prove their credentials and advance their political fortunes.

What would the government of Palestine do once cross-border attacks inevitably began against Israel? It is highly likely it would disclaim responsibility and say they cannot find those responsible or even proclaim that these people are heroes.

Of course, the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip would not accept the deal, thus ensuring that it could not be implemented. That last factor, which is a huge and impassable barrier is simply ignored by the “peacemakers.” Israel would have to make major territorial concessions and take heightened risks in advance that would bring zero benefits from a Hamas government that would increase its attacks on Israel. Hamas forces on the West Bank, perhaps in partnership with Fatah radicals, would seek to overthrow Palestine’s government.

There would be attempts to carry out atrocities against Israeli civilians to break the deal, just as happened by Hamas alone during the 1993-2000 “Oslo peace process” period. Hizballah from Lebanon would also increase attacks on Israel to prove that the treasonous peace could not hold.

The ruling Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Syria would do everything possible to help Hamas. There would be outrage in large sectors of public opinion and especially among the armed Islamist militias who would try to lever their countries into war, stage cross-border attacks against Israel, and back Palestinian insurgents.

Of course, the fact that they understand all of the points made above is one of the main reasons why the Palestinian Authority’s leadership isn’t interested in making a peace deal with Israel, and not even negotiating seriously toward that end.

Ironically, then, the recruiting and encouragement of extremism would be at far higher levels than it is now.

Which is why, ironically, like Penelope, Odysseus’ wife, we need to continue weaving a peace process that must not come to fruition.

But that’s not all. Who would be identified as the architects of this terrible setback for Islam and Arab nationalism? The United States and the West, of course. Imagine the increase of anti-American terrorism for having permanently “stolen” Palestine, perpetuated “injustice,” and so powerfully entrenching the “Zionist entity.”

Kerry, no doubt, thinks that the Egyptians, Syrians, Lebanese, and Iranians would applaud the wonderful U.S. achievement. This is sheerest nonsense, especially at a time when Islamists feel they are riding the crest of a tidal wave of victory.

Is Kerry that foolish? I’d like to think not, but I’m forever astonished at how foolish smart people can be in our day and age.

While the parallels are inexact, some aspects of such a situation remind me of what happened at the end of World War One. Many people in Germany were convinced that their country was not defeated but merely suffered a “stab in the back” by its foreign enemies and the Jews at home. Out of this soil arose the Nazi movement, to avenge this betrayal and defeat. You can make of that parallel what you will.

Remember, too, that the 1990s “peace process” effort came at a time when Arab regimes were weak, repeatedly defeated by Israel, having lost their Soviet superpower ally, been riven by the Iran-Iraq and Kuwait wars, and with a bankrupt PLO. Now we are in a new era when, for example, the most important single Arab pillar for peace—the Husni Mubarak regime in Egypt—has been driven out to the cheers of those Westerners who also claim to recognize the value of an Arab-Israel peace.

Whether or not I’ve convinced you, I assume that you must understand that a serious case can be made for the argument stated above. Yet none of these points will appear in the mass media or the high-level debate. The assumption is, as Kerry stated, that Israel-Palestinian peace will make things better and no idea will be considered that contradicts this notion.

Let me again emphasize that I am not making an “anti-peace” argument here. If it was possible to secure a lasting, stable compromise peace between Israel and the Palestinians, that would be a great achievement. That might be possible some day but, dangerous wishful thinking aside, that isn’t true now.

And wishing it so makes it worse. Until we look at the cultural issues involved in making peace, and begin to prepare the Palestinians/Arabs/Muslims a generation or two down the pike to shift gears, none of our liberal fantasies will do any good.

Read the rest.

 

Bangladesh and the West: The Problem of News Media Silence

Nick Cohen has an excellent article in today’s Observer (HT/ES). In his discussion he goes into (ancient history) about the separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan in the 1970s and the  massacres carried out by Pakistani troops and their Islamist allies. He does not mention the even greater massacres perpetrated by a previous generation of Muslims against the Hindus who happened to inhabit Western Bengal (which went to East Pakistan [later Bangladesh] in the aftermath of the partition of Bengal at the creation of India and Pakistan in 1949: according to one study, over half a million Hindus were murdered, and 3-5 million of them fled to India.

The agonies of Bangladesh come to London
Shahbag protests in Dhaka are reflected in the demonstrations in London

Nick Cohen

The Observer, Saturday 16 February 2013

Three men stand in Bangladeshi national colours in Shahbag square. Photograph: Kazi Sudipto/ Demotix/Corbis

The Shahbag junction in Dhaka has become Bangladesh’s Tahrir Square. Hundreds of thousands of young protesters are occupying it and raging against radical Islamists. Even sympathetic politicians cannot control the movement. The protesters damn them as appeasers, who have compromised with unconscionable men.

Theirs is a grassroots uprising for the most essential and neglected values of our age: secularism, the protection of minorities from persecution and the removal of theocratic thugs from the private lives and public arguments of 21st-century citizens.

Humiliating Slip in Hamas’ Cannibalistic Cognitive War Strategy: Haniyah and Kandil Kiss Baby Hamas Killed

Humiliating Slip in Hamas’ Cannibalistic Cognitive War Strategy: Haniyah and Kandil Kiss Baby Hamas Killed

Here’s a classic. Let’s start with the ghoulish display of sorrow over the body of a dead boy, allegedly killed by Israeli bombing. It’s aimed right at the heart of a someone like Annie Lennox who, upon seeing bombs falling on Gaza immediately imagines Palestinian babies on the receiving end, rather than Hamas militants targeting Israeli babies. And, of course, the news media snatch up the photo-op.

Haniya and Egyptian PM Kandil mugging for the cameras Remember this from Kafr Qana, Lebanon, July 30, 2006: Green Helmet Guy with dusty baby and clean baby toy clip, July 30, 2006. And, of course, the media run with the story. It’s all so obvious. Boy dead from explosion, Israelis bombing Gaza. As the Palestinian “general” in charge of the investigation of Al Durah’s death put it, “there’s no need to investigate when we know who did it. But wait, what about the evidence, asks Elder of Baker Street?

Muhammad Cartoons Seven Years On: Demopaths on the Warpath against Hatred

Muslim Students at UNC: Demopaths on the Warpath against “Hatred”

February 22, 2006

Little Green Footballs posted this:

Daily Tar Heel Now Targeted for Cartoon Jihad

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill student newspaper The Daily Tar Heel is now embroiled in a Krazy Kartoon Kontroversy of their own, after publishing an original cartoon showing a politically correct, balanced and non-violent Mohammed denouncing both Denmark and Islamic protesters: Cartoon for February 9 – Opinion.

Muhammad even handed

The Muslim Students Association is seething.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The Muslim Students Association at the University of North Carolina on Friday asked the campus’ student newspaper to apologize for publishing an original cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

“The intention of bigotry was clear,” the association wrote in a letter to The Daily Tar Heel. “One must question the DTH’s ethics in advancing a widely protested issue to cause a riot of their own. The MSA not only found this cartoon derogatory but is also shocked at the editor’s allowance of its publication — one that incites hate in the current political and social context.”

Note the aggressive tone of injury: “intention of bigotry clear,” “advancing a widely protested issue to cause a riot of its own… derogatory… incites hate in the current political and social context.”

So let me get this straight. Muslims throw a temper tantrum (“current political and social context”); accuse others of “inciting hate” when they themselves revel in it; and express shock that anyone be allowed to trample their sense of honor and dignity. This is a definitional example of demopathy, or the use of civic/liberal values to which you do not adhere to attack those who do adhere to them. Imagine if the newspaper were to produce a savage denunciation of the Israelis. Can one imagine the Muslim students shouting for its removal, or rather praising its courage?

And the cartoon is really quite gentle. (Indeed it reflects the same sense that most Westerners who believe that Islam is a religion of peace feel about Muhammad: that he can’t possibly have been as immature, hyper-sensitive, and insecure as the Muslims who rampage at the slightest slight.

cartoon #3

UPDATE at 2/22/06 12:45:40 pm:

Last year, the Muslim Students Association at UNC-CH succeeded in getting Daily Tar Heel columnist Jillian Bandes fired: lgf: Thoughtcrime at UNC-Chapel Hill.

In other words, demopathy works. Intimidate people with your moral outrage, and you can continue to badger them with impunity.

The sad thing is, these are battles that can be won without weapons, merely by pointing out — gently – the unacceptable hypocrisy of the outrage.

Laor (anti-Zionist) defends Butler (anti-Zionist) in the pages of Ha’aretz (anti-Zionist?)

Yitzhak Laor has come to the spirited defense of Judith Butler in – surprise! – the pages of Ha-aretz. If one thinks of this whole affair as an Emperor’s New Clothes, then think of Laor as a courtier who intervenes after the crowd starts grumbling about Butler’s naked performativity, who rushes in to hold the invisible mantle high.

Before tackling his argument, allow me to give some background on Laor’s attitude towards Israel and Zionism. It will help explain his position in the Butler case.

In 2011, Laor wrote the following:

Get rid of Zionism:

“The “Land of Israel” is a phantasm. Withdrawing from “parts of it” is presented as a “concession” even by supporters of the move. But the only concession we needed to make, even back in 1967, was giving up the messianic claim that this is our land, from the Bible, and therefore we have a right to it. In comparison with this claim, the Serbs, with their preoccupation over the Battle of Kosovo in 1389, are rational, secular people.

Now that he’s made the invidious comparison at his own expense (no “my side even when it’s right” for this fellow), where can he put Hamas and Hizbullah on this scale of secular-rational and religious zealot? But of course, for the self-destructivist left, the madness of the Islamists cannot even be spoken.

Life is in no need of “ancestral rights.” Most of us were born here. That has no connection with the Bible, which for the most part is a very nice book. It has no connection with the prayers of the religious. We don’t need religion, either as a menu in a restaurant or as a strategic analysis.

The only  way that Yitzhak was born here (the year of the war of Independence), was because of the biblical attachment of his ancestors to the land. The lack of acknowledgment of the role biblical beliefs play in history is not only massively uninformed, it shows a complete misunderstanding of the role of religion in history (including why this area has so many Arab Muslims). Like so many “secular, rational” folks, Laor doesn’t have a clue. And he’s a poet, to boot.

Had masses of Israelis had the sense to say that on the morning after the occupation, instead of choosing that of all moments – with the help of professors, poets and writers – to “discover our undivided country,” we would be in a different situation today.

This is an especially nice example of how the other side has no moral responsibility. In fact the Israelis after the Six-day war had precisely the attitude he calls for, and got the “Three no’s.” What can one make of someone who can only find fault among his own people, and doesn’t (dare?) express disapproval of his own people’s sworn enemies?

Liberation from Zionism is not a dirty word. In any case, what lies behind Zionism nowadays are interests related to water, real estate, strategic relations with the U.S. and a huge army hungering to justify its existence.

If our fathers erred in their use of myth, we should part from it, for the sake of our sons and daughters. We don’t have to leave this place or give up our lives. But for their sake, we have to get rid of Zionism.

In other words, we enlightened Israelis, should cast aside the faulty “myths” of our ancestors and live peaceably in the land, where (I, Yitzhak Laor know) the other inhabitants will leave with us. Again, note the lack of any mention of the myths circulating among the other inhabitants of the land. Laor, like “Noa”, is a classic lost, solipsistic soul, wandering the landscape, performing nobly, leading himself and his children into catastrophe.

Here’s his take on Judith Butler.

In the spirit of Hannah Arendt

The witch hunt against U.S. Jewish academic Judith Butler, who is being awarded the prestigious Adorno prize, originates in a dangerous strand of American Jewry that has been assaulting freedom of expression even in U.S. universities.

These are classic tropes of the destructivist left: “We are the innocent victims, hounded by mean people who – gasp! – criticize us.” It’s fascinating to see how they can turn a disagreement into an assault on freedom of expression. Enderlin and his buddies at the Nouvel Obs did the same thing: what? we can be criticized for not doing our job by outsiders? What happened to freedom of the press?

By Yitzhak Laor | 03:22 11.09.12 |  0

Today, the birthday of the sociologist Theodor Adorno, philosopher Judith Butler will be in Frankfurt to receive a prize named after him. The prize has been given every three years since 1977 to an outstanding intellectual or artist. Its winners include sociologists Norbert Elias and Zygmunt Bauman, philosophers Jurgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida, composers Gyorgy Ligeti and Pierre Boulez, and film directors Alexander Kluge and Jean-Luc Godard.

Red Hot Chili Peppers Elicit Evidence of the Massive Gap Between Pro-Palestinian Israelis and Anti-Zionist Arabs

Elder of Zion has an amazing transcript of a facebook exchange between a radical, pro-Palestinian Israeli activist, Noa, and various Arab exponents of BDS (in this case, refusing to allow Red Hot Chili Peppers to come to Beirut because they plan to play in Israel).

“We’re not against Jews. We’re against non-Arab Israeli citizens”

972mag’s Noam Sheizaf brings us a fantastic example of how Arabs will never accept the existence of Jews as equals in the Middle East.A Jordanian “anti-normalization” group put out a notice to ban all “Zionists” from traveling to Jordan to attend an after-party with a popular Lebanese band called Mashrou Leila (that recently canceled a gig opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Beirut because the RHCP are playing in Israel.) Apparently, many anti-Zionist Israelis are big fans of the band.Well, that’s not quite true. The “anti-normalization” letter says it intends to ban all Zionists, but its definition of Zionist is interesting:

Finally, we would like to inform you clearly that despite your confirmation and that of your associates here in Amman, that the event you’re organizing will not host any Zionists (to be clear we take this stand against all Israeli nationality holders that are non Arab) we are still taking certain measures to ensure that you will abide by your word on this matter, fully realizing and taking into consideration the continuous arguments and justifications in favor of accompanying Zionists to the event here in Amman. We simply reject all Zionists’ irrelevant of their race, political or religious orientations or beliefs.

We are very vigilant to all cultural events in Amman and we will have narrow to the ground during Mashrou Leila, so we urge you to keep your word and promise to keep our events and country zionist-free.

Now, a number of vehemently anti-Israel Jewish citizens of Israel – people who completely share the Arab desire to destroy Israel and create a single “Palestine” from the river to the sea – were offended by this letter. Here is a dialogue between “Noa” and Jordanians who make it quite clear that if she is a true anti-Zionist, she should leave the country she was born in because she is Jewish:
Noa: (Israeli) Can I ask a question?

Response to Ron Radosh: The Demotic vs. the Self-Destructivist Left

Dear Ron Radosh,

In a column on Judith Butler and the anti-Semitic left, you put out a challenge to those of us who would still like to consider ourselves “on the left” but don’t have Israel Derangement Disorder.

The logic of the left is the same logic its ancestors used to defend Stalinism in its heyday — the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and the enemy of the left is Western democracy, as it exists in both the United States and Israel. Butler’s anti-Americanism and anti-Israel posturing defines the left.

Isn’t it time for good men like Landes and Geras to face reality, and to stop trying to get the left to change its tune? The fight to defend Israel must henceforth include the effort to fight the left, whose agenda, as always has been the case, leads to horrendous ends.

I’d like make a distinction between a “demotic” left and revolutionary left, and then address why the sharp differences between those two styles of “being left” have been lost in the last decade(s).

First, everything that you describe as “left” is actually “revolutionary left.” They are the ones who served as useful idiots for the Stalinists back then, and who, today, as Dan Pipes chronicles, serve as useful infidels for the Islamist Jihadis. They in fact pursue – like Marx – a profoundly apocalyptic millennial agenda that wants to radically transform/perfect society and the world now. So while they derive their ideology from demotic leftist principles – egalitarianism, anti-imperialism, dignity of manual labor, un-coerced cooperation and sharing – their impatience draws them into a whirlwind of emotions that end up compromising the very principles they began with. Marx made some very fine distinctions between crude (rohe) Communism, based on “universalizing envy” of others, and (presumably) the real thing (based on generosity?).

I’d like to define demotic principles (which are also “liberal” principles) as the behavior of free people, entering with personal dignity into uncoerced relations with others (Die Würde freiwilliger menschlicher Interaktion). This means the renunciation of coerced, domineering relations at multiple levels in social and political interaction. These are the basic principles that underlie fundamental demotic values like the dignity of manual labor (rather than stigmatizing laborers), equality before the law (rather than legal privilege, apartheid), and the value of every human life (rather than the sacrifice of the well-being of the many for the pleasure of the few). These are the basic cultural building-blocks of successful democracies, that is societies of abundance in which commoners are empowered. Carl Schorske argued that there’s no Liberal Party in England is because the liberals won: both the Tories and Labor were liberal (in comparison with real authoritarians).

Gitlin comes to the Defense of Butler’s Diasporic Non-Violence: Red Meat for the Vegan Crowd

The Butler controversy continues. For some reason Todd Gitlin, whom even people who disagree with him consider “nuanced,” comes out with a defense of his colleague at Columbia, Judith Butler. Despite the obvious daylight between him and Judith, he frames this as part of a schoolyard fight where he’s defending his friend, and is just one stage before, “I’m rubber and your glue…”

Not what I’d call a serious contribution to the issues at hand.

The Trouble With Judith Butler—and Her Critics

September 4, 2012, 2:24 pm

By Todd Gitlin

Whatever one wants to say about the philosopher Judith Butler’s contribution to contemporary thought, I suspect that not even her most devoted disciple would call her a lucid writer. In her introduction to an early book, Gender Trouble, she writes:

  • There is a new venue for theory, necessarily impure, where it emerges in and as the very event of cultural translation. This is not the displacement of theory by historicism, nor a simple historicization of theory that exposes the contingent limits of its more generalizable claims. It is, rather, the emergence of theory at the site where cultural horizons meet, where the demand for translation is acute and its promise of success, uncertain.

What we have here, and throughout Butler’s writings, are not so much [sic?] sentences that carry propositions as a whiff of the burning of incense before an idol called “theory.” There are some in the academy who find this practice “emancipating.” I do not.

I agree (nice image), although this is hardly the most impenetrable of her smoke columns. It actually brushes close to comprehensibility.

Be that as it may, the author of those unilluminating sentences is soon to receive the City of Frankfurt’s triennial Theodor W. Adorno Prize, named for the brilliant, prolific, vastly complex, often tangled, so-called Frankfurt School German-Jewish thinker genius who was himself given to wild overstatement of the sort that Butler, in fact, quotes in the epigraph to another one of her books: “The value of thought is measured by its distance from the continuity of the familiar.” A moment’s reflection shows this to be nonsense. Adorno had bad days, too.

Actually it’s one of the unspoken goals of most academics who want to make an original contribution: the counter-intuitive truth. Who wants to spend a lifetime regurgitating Vérités de la Palice?

The politics of “theory” and prize committees would be interesting subjects on their own, but the focus of vehement attack by The Jerusalem Post and organizations devoted to My-Israel-Right-or-Wrong politics is a more specific claim.

This is an interesting trope that one runs across often: “my Israel right or wrong” or the “Israel firsters.” It’s an effort to dismiss as some kind of primitive incarnation of an “us-them” mentality, people who defend Israel against calumnies. Most people identified as Israel-firsters are not. They are capable of both recognizing legitimate criticism and even articulating it.

But we draw lines between constructive criticism and destructive, between criticizing policies soberly and demonizing, between concerned tochachah and existential hatred. Most people who dismiss defenders of Israel as Israel-firsters, on the other hand, are “Israel is wrong firsters,” who, like Judith Butler, have no trouble finding their full-throated voices when criticizing Israel in no uncertain terms and based on highly uncertain sources, but somehow mumble and fumble when it comes to denouncing her ferocious enemies.

In the context of a battle with an enemy that has one of the most regressive ”my side right or wrong” attitudes – “love my side and hate everyone else” – which is constantly being reinforced by the opposite “progressive” meme of “your side right or wrong” that must accept the epistemological priority of the subaltern “Other” (as does Helena Cobban), it’s a pretty ugly accusation. It goes hand in hand with the common trope, “any criticism of Israel is considered anti-Semitic,” which Butler and her convulsively anti-Israel colleagues uses constantly as a smokescreen for vicious criticism.

In the words of the Post’s Benjamin Weinthal, Butler “advocates a sweeping boycott of ties with Israel’s cultural and academic establishment and has defended Hezbollah and Hamas as progressive organizations.”

This slovenly slash-and-burn propaganda, masquerading as journalism, has occasioned a crisp reply by Butler:

Wow. This is pretty amazing. Weinthal’s piece is slash and burn propaganda, while her long, rambling, and insubstantial reply is “crisp”? Surely a scholar of nuance, like Todd Gitlin can do better. This is red-meat language for the carnivore “progressive” choir.

Judith Butler, the Adorno Prize, and the Moral State of the “Global Left”

The following is a long version of a response to Judith Butler that will appear in various forms at other sites, including SPME. This version is here either for those who enjoy my overwrought prose, of those who find that the logic of edited versions elsewhere is interrupted by the cuts.

Judith Butler’s feelings are hurt because some professors who claim they’re for “peace in the Middle East,” have criticized her and openly called on the Adorno Committee to withdraw the Prize that they have announced would be offered to her this year, on Adorno’s birthday, 9-11. Stung by the criticism, Butler responded at the site of the notoriously anti-Israel Jewish blog, Mondoweiss. in her defense. The defense illustrates every aspect of the problem with Butler’s approach to the criticism of her work, including the folly of German intellectuals to raise her up as a heroic example.

The criticism of her receiving the Adorno prize involves the following three points: 1) Her criticism of Israel for violations of (her) moral standards is exceptionally harsh, even though she has very little to say about exceptionally harsh violations among Israel’s enemies. 2) She has taken this moral imbalance from mere rhetoric to determined action, supporting extensive and punishing academic boycotts of Israel (e.g., Kafka archive should not go to Hebrew University). And 3) she enables and encourages virulent anti-Semitism both in this participation in BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions), and in identifying some of the worst offenders where that ancient hatred is concerned (Hamas and Hizbullah) as part of the “progressive, global, Left.”

Her response was a long, rambling, self-defense (2000 words) in which she systematically misrepresents the critique, and shields herself by claiming the status of a suffering victim of a vicious attack that deeply hurt her feelings.

The Missing Peace: No Reciprocity between Demotic West and Authoritarian Islamism

In response to a request from Benjamin Weinthal to an article about Muslims shutting down Christian churches in  Iran, I wrote the following, which the Jerusalem Post article quoted in large part. For anyone who might have found it difficult reading, I unpack and elaborate what I was trying to say in a sound-bite.

On one level, the closure reveals the insecurity of the Muslims who carry it out, re-emphasizing (if that were necessary), the profound lack of confidence that Islamists in power have in a free market of ideas. And of course, this affects not only the specific [Protestant] church, but any kind of dissident, infidel or Muslim. This is classic pre-modern political behavior.

Modernity, and the world of freedom and abundance it makes possible (even without exploiting others), depends on an ability to self-criticize and recognize fault. This is built into every monotheistic religion: atonement, mercy, forgiveness. The Joseph and his brothers cycle (co-starring Judah) represents the highest expression of these traits. Christian and Islamic literature are full of this complex of cognitions and emotions so prized by demotic religiosity.

The role of the dhimma in suppressing criticism from non-Muslims, however, reflects the opposite: a drive to humiliate and subordinate others (and their dissent) as a sign of the “truth” of Islam (i.e., “might makes right”). This attitude and its institutional forms play a central role in the shaping of Islamic thought. It’s part of a very difficult relationship that Muslims have traditionally had with diaspora existence, difficulties enduring the blows to honor that come with not being the dominant force in shaping public discourse and public transcripts.

In a larger sense, this raises the issue of reciprocity. At a time when Muslim spokesmen and women make strong demands to be treated by the highest standards of “human rights” in the West,

The efforts to criminalize what aggressive Muslim spokespeople define as Islamophobia operate precisely on the axis of making demands about “respecting” the touchy honor of Islam, a matter of “human rights.”  It is a hate crime to stereotype or defame “us,” by a definition “we” give. Western or global legislation (e.g., through the UN), against Islamophobia as hate speech, is a form of global dhimma which infidels willingly accept upon themselves.

neither these Muslim spokespeople, nor those who trust them in the West, demand any kind of reciprocal restraint from Muslims in Islamic countries:

Nor from Western Muslims, who can tolerate a vast fund of demonizing and essentializing discourse as long as it is aimed at its enemies – Israel and the West – but have no tolerance for the slightest criticism sent their way… And, as part of the same failure to demand reciprocity, we find that one of the greatest flaws of the progressive left in this tale of demopaths and their dupes, has been their unwillingness to demand the slightest self-criticism from Palestinians (and more broadly speaking) from Muslims (which would mean testing, and possibly finding wanting, the moderation they insist is there). Instead of telling the Turks to grow up and learn to live with people you are having honor-shame spats with, the US tells Israel not to come to the meeting in Istanbul.

“Who are we to judge?”

This is one of the great millennial memes that currently inhabit our brains like the dicrocelium dendriticum that drives the ant up the blade of grass to be eaten. We Westerners are, in fact, excellently well placed to judge, precisely because we have acquired over the centuries, a great restraint in judging (as becomes a civil polity; also known as anger-management). Whence the meme in question as a kind of millennial perfectionism.  As a kind of personal mysticism, a style of tikkun olam, this meme can be very powerful and very productive. The folly of our generation is that it has become a collective trope of people far from the requisite levels of vulnerable engagement with the outside world that can effect such a tikkun. From the sublime heights to the depths of folly. The reverse of Blake’s proverb of Hell. Rather than report on Turkey’s turn to religious fanaticism (by our standards certainly), the Washington Post’s David Ignatius prefers a puff pieceon Obama and the moderate Islamist Erdogan as fast friends despite their different “styles.”

This failure might seem to the human rights activists who look the other way, as a sign of generosity towards a morally challenged part of the world from whom we cannot expect anything like reciprocity;

An allusion to the embedded racism of the Human Rights Complex.

but it seems to ”them”  as a sign of our moral cowardice, that we proleptically accept the dhimma.

From the point of view of Islamists, our accord with their demands for a public manuscript that doesn’t criticize them out of “respect,” represents the obvious product of intimidation. We, in advance of conquest, have accepted the rules of the dhimma: if you criticize Islam, or the prophet, or a Muslim whose honor can be tied to the larger sacred cows, you lose protection and are justifiably subject to unlimited violence. As a PA official said to APon 9-11, “if you don’t remove the pictures of Palestinians celebrating in the streets (including men in PA uniforms), we will remove our protection from you reporters.

At a time when Turkish Islamists seek to undo the secularization of the Hagia Sophia in order to return it to a triumphalist mosque,

which, of course, would be a clear statement that at least these Muslims believe in the law of conquest, that Sultan Mehmed II’s conquest of the city in 1453 meant that they had the right to turn one of the most astonishing accomplishments in late Roman imperial architecture, Hagia Sophia, into a Mosque. Ataturk secularized and ecumenized the site: a museum for people of all faiths. Now, under Erdogan’s brand of Islamism, the blood is up, and the street demands a re-Islamization.

it behooves the Western world to make clear to Muslims that we do not consider them incapable of adhering to global norms of religious tolerance and  the maturity of restraint.

So, for instance, in this case, the world community should be saying to Muslims, that if you do not rise up, protest, and prevent this act of regression to a “might-makes-right” theocracy, then Islam must expect to have the same rules apply to them. As a result, immediately, they must surrender any claim or control over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (which, right now, they administer very aggressively against infidels). Not to mention Muslim claims to Ayodhya in India. Freedom demands reciprocity. If you want to  benefit from the generosity of those who conquered you, you must show similar generosity to those you have conquered. Of course this response to Islamism is a fantasy in 2012. Hopefully not too long into the future, it will become a demotic consensus on what a global civic culture has a right to ask from Muslims who demand high octane civil rights.

Not to do so would betray both “them” as a potentially mature culture, and “our” most cherished values of freedom and respect.

Not to do so shows no real commitment to the values of freedom we claim to represent; it empowers demopaths; and it saps the strength of genuine moderates. It not only encourages further aggression, it places us on our heals, open-mouthed, inhaling, when that aggression occurs.

Assadwashing: On the Distinction between Supporting Palestinian/Arab Rights and Denying Israeli Rights

I recently noted this hit piece on me. Normally I wouldn’t bother responding, but in this case a) it’s from a BU student, and b) it so embodies everything that’s wrong-headed about Palestinian “advocacy” that it’s actually an invitation to explore both the moral rhetoric and argument of the BDS movement. Fisking ahead.

Pointing to Syria to divert attention from Israel’s crimes

20 April 2012

Why aren’t pseudo-supporters of Syrian human rights actively lobbying Israel to stop the occupation of the Golan Heights?

(Yin Dongxun / Xinhua)

Answer: Maybe because the Druse of the Golan have far more human rights under Israeli rule than under the butcher of Damascus.

The very fact that one could seriously ask such a question shows the fundamentally “us-them” mentality involved in this formulation. No matter how viciously “we” Arabs treat our own people (e.g., Assad in Syria today), we want the human rights community to support putting Arabs (not even – Druze) under Arab sovereignty… is this a kind of “right of dictatorship”?

The Israeli government and its supporters have long utilized a wide range of propaganda tools to sugarcoat Israel’s atrocities against the Palestinians.

I like the use of the term “atrocity.” Nothing in the widely inflated thesaurus of accusations against Israel so carefully collected by Electronic Intifada and their allies (e.g., al Awda) comes close to what the Arabs do to their own people (torture, civilian massacres, systematic throttling of free press). But it’s Israeli “atrocities” that drive these activists wild with indignation. Here again we encounter the honor-shame, us-them mentality: what Arabs do to Arabs is not nearly as problematic, no matter how bad, as what Israelis do to Arabs. In other words, no matter how slight the offense, Israeli inflicted Palestinian suffering is an unbearable humiliation. Indeed, in some versions of the story, it is even responsible for preventing Arabs from creating democracies.

In addition to pinkwashing (using Israel’s relative support of gay rights to sugarcoat the country’s apartheid nature) and greenwashing (perpetuating the perception that Israel has environmentally-friendly policies to do the same), Zionist advocates are now using a different method: Assadwashing.

The problems with the “pinkwashing accusations” was widely addressed at the time the NYT shamefully published the editorial. Assadwashing is a worthy successor in the category of inane moral arguments.

But I find (again) the author’s use of “relative support” to characterize Israel’s defense of gay rights, to be especially amusing. Tell it to the Palestinian homosexuals who, for decades, have been fleeing to Israel for that culture’s “relative” tolerance. Jamil makes a grudging concession, which he swiftly brushes aside; and yet, in this matter, Israel shows a double tolerance neither of which one detects in the Arab world: a) for homosexuals, and b) for the “other,” even the hostile “other.” Hard to find a better case of a not “us-them” mentality than Israel’s treatment of Palestinian gays.

Such observations have actually led some gay progressives to praise Israel. Understandably, this infuriates the zero-sum activists for Palestinian “rights,” like Jamil.

As the Syrian uprising moves into its second year and Bashar al-Assad’s regime continues its brutal crackdown, the pro-Israel camp has breathed a sigh of relief and put on an indignant grin. Zionists now feel justified in pointing to Israel’s northeastern neighbor and exploiting the Syrian people’s suffering and resistance in order to further their own political agenda, depicting Israel as a “vibrant democracy” in comparison to Syria.

Ummm, yes. Can you imagine the equivalent of an Ahmad Tibi or Hanin Zouabi in any Arab country… say, an Iraqi or Iranian Jew who loudly and publicly denounced the regime as anti-Semitic and oppressive and openly called for its overthrow? On the contrary, even Muslims who show any support for Israel are under penalty of death.

To follow Jamil’s logic here, pointing out the obvious (and important) is forbidden lest it benefit ‘the [evil] enemy.’  Truth means nothing in the face of solidarity, if the truth works against “us.” That makes sense from a purely “us-them” mentality, but hardly seems like it should fly in a moral conversation. As Pierre Bourdieu, the French sociologist who studied North African honor-shame cultures noted:

The ethos of honour is fundamentally opposed to a universal and formal morality which affirms the equality in dignity of all men and consequently the equality of their rights and duties. Not only do the rules imposed upon men differ from those imposed upon women, and the duties towards men differ from those towards women, but also the dictates of honour, directly applied to the individual case and varying according to the situation, are in no way capable of being made universal. 

So one should not, by this logic, apply the same standards to everyone, both to perpetrators (Israel vs. Syria) or to victims (Palestinians vs. Syrians). Eyes on the prize.

Perversely, to Zionist propagandists, Assad’s pernicious brutality comes not as a tragedy but as a savior.

Or, alternatively, and possibly still more perversely, to anti-Zionist propagandists, the global revelations of Assad’s pernicious brutality come not as a tragedy for the Arabs who are, and have been, the recipients of this brutality, but as an embarrassment/tragedy for Palestinian efforts to depict Israel as an apartheid-practicing tyranny.