Category Archives: Even-Handedness

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?

Welcome, Refugee from rekaB Street: Shmuel Rosner’s Mea Culpa

In the flood of commentary and analysis of the Al Durah controversy, I’ve tried to fisk the most important typical responses. And of course, I have a backlog of articles to fisk. But this one by Shmuel Rosner jumped to the top of the pile because of its honest reappraisal. It helps to understand some of the factors that played at the time the story broke, and answer Vic Rosenthal’s question:

Why didn’t then Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and then Prime Minister Ehud Barak demand that all the footage shot by France 2 on that day be placed at Israel’s disposal to do a proper investigation?
Before adding my commentary to Rosner’s mea culpa, I’d like to acknowledge the courage involved in this piece, and the remarkable fact that the New York Times published it. As someone laboring in the wilderness for a decade, all I can say is, this is unexpected.
4 Comments

The Skeptic’s Curse

By SHMUEL ROSNER
On Oct. 6, 2000, Palestinian boys in the Gaza strip walked past graffiti representing Muhammad al-Dura as he was shown in a television report.Ahmed Jadallah/ReutersOn Oct. 6, 2000, Palestinian boys in the Gaza strip walked past graffiti representing Muhammad al-Dura as he was shown in a television report.

TEL AVIV — In late September 2000, at the beginning of the second Palestinian intifada, the French TV station France 2 aired some 60 seconds of footage allegedly showing the killing of a Palestinian boy in the Gaza Strip.

Muhammad al-Dura, who was 12 at the time, and his father are shown caught in an exchange of fire between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian fighters. The boy cowers behind his father, with what sounds like gunshots crackling in the background. Smoke then blocks our view. When it lifts the boy is flattened, listless, and his father is lying against the wall, apparently in serious physical distress. The footage soon became one of the most memorable and heart-wrenching of the bloody Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

No one knows what happened exactly at the Netzarim Junction that day. The French broadcast claimed that gunfire from Israeli soldiers killed the boy. That version of the facts immediately became the official Palestinian account. Israel did not accept responsibility, nor did it deny being involved. And so the French-Palestinian narrative stuck.

But this Sunday, the Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs released a report undermining that account. The document concludes there is “strong evidence” that Muhammad and his father “were not hit by bullets at all in the scenes filmed.” It also details many errors, omissions and open questions in the widely accepted narrative of the event.

I first heard that there might be a problem with the al-Dura story soon after the incident. I was the head of the news division at Haaretz at the time, and a young reporter approached me to say that a high-ranking official at the Israel Defense Force would be staging, in front of a crew from “60 Minutes,” a re-enactment of the shooting to prove the French and Palestinian chroniclers wrong.

I believed the initial story about al-Dura, and I was highly suspicious of the motivations of anyone attempting to disprove it.
Note a few things here. “I believed the initial story about al-Durah.” This readiness to believe the worst of the Israeli army – that they’d target a father and child and rain down bullets upon them, was pervasive, particularly among the journalists who were most proud of their self-critical attitude. As Bet Michael said to me in November of 2003 (after I had studied with Shahaf and seen the France2 raw footage with Enderlin),

BM: 100%. The israelis killed the boy.
RL: Really? Are you aware of the investigation and its findings?
BM: The investigator was a nut… some engineer with the army who argued a conspiracy theory that he kid committed suicide.
RL: Suicide?
MS: (to me while BM waxed eloquent to NB)
NB) He’s being sarcastic.
RL: Were you being sarcastic?
BM: Not at all. I meant every word.
RL: Suicide?
BM: Oh, that was sarcastic, but since then the IDF has killed over 200 palestinian children, you can check with B’tselem.

Here’s a close-up view of the world of aggressive lethal journalism, backed by their “researchers” who systematically compile the lethal narratives. At the time I did not realize it, but I should have after Jenin in 2002, that the lethal journalists – in the case of many, probably not even knowingly – were now dominant in the journalistic scene in Israel.

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. 

The Problem with Today’s Intellectuals when they Think about Culture: Sloppy Symmetry

I’m in the midst of an email exchange with a number of people as a result of my pieces on culture. Part of the issue concerns the way different cultures handle honor and shame, emotions prominent in every society and every individual who ever lived. As in the political world, with the matter of libido dominandi, different cultures handle these universal feelings differently. I personally restrict honor-shame cultures proper to those societies in which it is accepted, expected, even required to shed blood for the sake of honor.

In my search for people who have handled these complex and politically charged issues, I’ve found lots of cases of good work spoiled by a sloppy kind of symmetry in which the author dare not distinguish between various cultures. Russell Jacoby, one of our more prominent intellectuals, the  Moishe Gonzales Folding Chair of Critical Theory (at least he has a sense of humor), has written a book on the roots of violence, an obvious topic of interest for me: Bloodlust: On the Roots of Violence from Cain and Abel to the Present (Free Press, 2011)

Alas, the book is full of even-handed passages in which cultures far less prone to violence must be matched to depressingly violent societies, and texts of great subtlety on the subject get reduced to caricatures to “make the point.”

Enmity marks the relationship of brothers throughout the Hebrew Bible. Esau considered killing Jacob; Joseph’s brothers contemplated killing Joseph.96 “Am I my brother’s keeper?” rings out as the great rhetorical question of Western culture. (Russell Jacoby, Bloodlust, pp. 61-62).

Actually, Jacoby might have gotten away with this had he written “… throughout Genesis.” But even there, that’s not the case. In the patriarchal narratives – i.e., Abraham’s progeny of “God’s chosen,” self-control and reconciliation replace the fratricidal impulse. And while sibling rivalry is a major theme of the patriarchal narrative, there is a clear progression from the zero-sum hostilities of the first generations (Ishmael-Isaac, Esau-Jacob), explicitly made worse by parental favoritism, to the remarkable positive-sum resolution (through atonement and forgiveness) of the third generation, where all the brothers inherit the blessing (despite parental favoritism).

And the following three books of the Pentateuch (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers) feature probably the most exceptional and dynamic sibling collaboration in the history of world narratives: Moses and Aaron. Did Jacoby stop reading at Genesis? Or did he just want to make a point about how the fratricidal origins of civilization in which these tales, suitably reduced to their lowest denominator (sibling rivalry) offer us, in Hannah Arendt’s terms, “cogent metaphors or universally applicable tales (p. 58).” In any case he managed to profoundly misrepresent a foundational text in search of the “universal.”

Is it any surprise then, that when he gets to the Arab-Israeli conflict, he goes for the same symmetry, kin rivalries.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict also is waged not between strangers but rather between kindred peoples. In the heady years after World War I, when the Arabs and the Jews sensed the possibility of independent states, the principals emphasized the kinship of their peoples. That was a moment when a defeated Ottoman Empire gave the victorious Europeans the power to divvy up the Middle East and to create new countries both for diasporan Jews and for the Arabs, who had been dominated by the Turks. Faisal Ibn Husain, who would become king of Iraq, met with Chaim Weizmann, who would become the first president of Israel. In the aftermath of the encounter, Faisal declared that “the two main branches of the Semitic family, Arabs and Jews, understood one another.” He called the Jews our “nearest relations” and “our cousins.” Of course this could be a problem.

Especially for the Arabs who pursued an alliance with their cousins the Jews, and often enough got themselves assassinated by their brothers.

“We Israelis resemble our Arab enemies in more ways than we care to know,” writes Avner Falk, an Israeli psychologist, in a book titled Fratricide in the Holy Land. Falk refers to character traits, customs, food, and dress. He reminds us that Jews and Arabs believe they descend from two biblical half brothers, Isaac and Ishmael. “From the psychological viewpoint, the Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs think, feel and act like rival brothers who are involved in a fratricidal struggle.”68 He notes also that “almost half of the Israeli Jewish population came from Arab or Muslim countries” and that “many of them are culturally and linguistically Arab.”69 This does not mean that this population appreciated their Arab counterparts more than the European Jews might. Closeness has bred contempt. Sephardic Jews—at least those from the Middle East—are generally much more anti-Arab than the Ashkenazi from Europe and Russia. The assassin of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin came from a family of Yemenite Jews and believed Rabin to be too conciliatory toward Arabs. He declared after his arrest in 1995, “I was afraid an Arab might kill him [Rabin]. I wanted Heaven to see that a Jew had done this.”70 (Jacoby, pp. 52-3).

One would not know from this account, that the degree of fratricide among Arabs is as stunningly high as it is low among Jews. Every Arab “uprising” has a rate of internecine murder equal to or higher than that of Arabs killed by outsiders (1936-39, first intifada). Not only does Jacoby get a self-critical Jew to obliterate the differences, but he focuses on one of the rare cases of fratricide among Jews (Rabin). As a result, he can cram the Israeli-Arab conflict into the same procrustean bed as all this other examples. Indeed, who knows how he’s mutilating those other cases to fit his symmetrical pattern.

I do not question Jacoby’s commitment to finding ways out of the violence against stranger and brother that we see around the world (writing a book is no mean feat). I just question whether some of the folks engaged in finding answers are sufficiently committed to the task that they will violate the politically correct dogmas of our age in order to think clearly. After all, would Chris Hedges have given him a laudatory blurb had he not put the Israelis in their place?

Nietzsche once compared thinking to diving into an ice-cold pond and seizing a stone lying on the bottom. Time to wet more than our feet.

What if the Israelis had taken Bin Laden out?

It’s always a good mental exercise to imagine what the international reaction would be to any belligerent action by another country (democracy or not). Daniel Friedmann, former Minister of Justice under Ehud Olmert, has a piece in Yediot Aharonot that does just that in the case of OBL. When Friedmann wrote this, he apparently did not know that at the time of his untimely demise, OBL was unarmed. That would make him, by the definition of B’tselem and other “Human Rights” NGOs, an innocent civilian.

The following is provided and translated by Steven Plaut.

Suppose, just Suppose that it had been Israel that Carried Out the Assassination (or, American Chutzpah)

By Daniel Friedmann

We are lucky that bin Laden was taken out by the American military.  I tremble at the thought of what would have happened had he been killed by Israeli forces.   Would there not have arisen a deafening outcry against cold-blooded murder without a trial?  Would there not have been calls to investigate whether bin Laden could have been captured unharmed, to be put on fair trial, where he could defend himself judicially?

Would not the soldier who had shot him be indicted, because perhaps he could have merely wounded bin Laden by shooting at his legs, thus avoiding an unnecessary loss of human life?   And what about those other “collateral” deaths in the compound? Was it really necessary to kill THOSE people without even putting them on trial?

Let us bear in mind that the operation was carried out in the territory of a friendly foreign country allied to the US – Pakistan. Since when can a country just go in and kill suspects in another country that has its own police and courts?

One must keep in mind that at this stage bin Laden was merely a suspect – since he was never convicted of any crime by any court, including for the destruction of the WTC towers in the US.  Under the circumstances, should not the US forces have warned him and demanded his surrender before opening fire, and – if such a warning was given to bin Laden – was it a sufficient warning?

To all these “questions” others would then be added. Under such sensitive circumstances, is it really appropriate for the US military itself to examine its own behavior and performance?  Would it not be better to have some outside commission of investigation, one that will enjoy public trust?

Indeed, a local commission of investigation would be insufficient and surely many would demand an international investigation, one in which the international community could place its faith!  Like one by the UN or its commission on human rights.

There are other issues.  How did the Americans decide to toss bin Laden’s carcass into the sea without first consulting bin Laden’s own family members and violating his human right to a dignified burial.

And why did the American government do all this without even soliciting a single learned scholarly legal opinion from an international expert on human rights?

And I almost forgot.  In such an important matter it is unthinkable that action should have been carried out without first petitioning the Supreme Court, which in Israel at least routinely interferes whenever the military wants to assassinate terrorist leaders.  Hence the Supreme Court should contemplate who should now be indicted for the abuses in the operation, after the commission of investigation completes its work.

And even that is not the end of the story.  The names of the soldiers and officers involved in the operation must be made public at court order, because of their involvement in the killings.  The individuals involved might someday seek public office.  Even more important is the fact that one day it may be desirable to conduct a thorough legal evaluation of these people, given the fact that their behavior produced human deaths.

It’s always useful to consider the differential between the way Israel gets treated by the “Human Rights” community and the MSNM and the way other countries are. Note that the latest news, which the author of this article did not know at the time of composition, is that Bin Laden was unarmed at the time he was gunned down. By the definitions used by B’tselem and Palestinian “Human Rights” organizations, that makes him an innocent civilian.

Now take this exercise one step further: Imagine the outrage of Americans if any major American institution (e.g., the Supreme Court, or some group in Congress) called for these kinds of investigations, or some newspaper that took this position. Imagine the cry of outrage at such crazy self-inflicted inhibitions. The Nation is not a fringe journal by accident. In Israel, this is all mainstream discourse directed against the country itself.

Nothing illustrates better the principle that, when it comes to the Human Rights Complex, Israel is the whitest of the whites.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

UPDATE: German TV has a member of the Green Party and a theologian expressing precisely the “human rights” sentiments mentioned above. It’s not Christian and it’s not civilized…

MSNM to Israel: We’re a force of nature, deal with it.

The latest developments from Silwan, and a brilliant spoof on the MSNM by Latma (below) prompt me to report a conversation I had last summer with a journalist who is the Middle East Correspondent for a major Western news outlet. I was speaking to him about my concern that the MSNM had behaved very badly over the previous decade, much to the detriment, not just of Israel but of the West and societies that try and guarantee the freedom of speech and the press. In particular I emphasized the skewed epistemology whereby they treated Palestinian claims as true until proven false, and Israeli claims as false until proven true, and when the evidence eventually favored the Israelis, they tended to fall silent.

His response was that Israeli complaints (whining) about the media being unfair is like a general who complains about rain on the field of battle. I didn’t bother pursuing the point that in no case does the rain only fall on one army alone. What interested me more was the implication of this (repeated) comment, namely that he (and apparently many others) saw the media as a force of nature, an unalterable force, immune to reason or rebuke. They would just do their thing, and let the Israelis deal with it.

I think that some of this comes from an attitude of sympathy towards the underdog. Bob Simon, in treating the Al Durah story, commented that “in the Middle East, one picture can be worth a thousand weapons.” Over time, a number of journalists (off the record) agreed with the formula: “The Israelis have all the weapons, so why not let the Palestinians have the PR victory? It’s a way of leveling the playing field.”

But what about fake stories? Like Muhammad al Durah? In subsequent years, I heard (especially European/French) journalists shrug and say, weapons of the weak, as if somehow that made it alright. In this sense, Enderlin’s response to my observation that most of the action sequences from Talal abu Rahmah were framed — “Oh, they do that all the time, it’s a cultural thing” — represents the journalist’s off-the-record Orientalist indulgence of a culture foreign to everything that Western journalism is supposed to be about.

Now, I can understand some journalists coming to this conclusion, deciding that somehow the underdog status of the Palestinians allowed them to invent what Nidra Poller has aptly called “lethal narratives” but not everyone.  And yet, my friend the journalist (who few would consider a particularly nasty anti-Israel writer) tells me that a majority of the journalists stationed in Israel would be far more harsh in their treatment of Israel were it not for their editors at home.

I think I understand why he presents the MSNM as a force of nature, impermeable to change: they’re going to handicap Israel by raining on their troop positions. It’s not only the “moral” thing to do (level the playing field, side with the underdog), but it’s also a show of power. They will be the Lilliputians that tie the giant Gulliver down.

Talking to him, listening to his reasoning, to his explanations for things (like explaining the precipitous drop in Hamas’ suicide bombings in recent years as a response to the disapproval of Muslims worldwide), to his disappointment that Israel is not more in line with his own liberal/progressive thinking (alas, they reacted to suicide attacks by becoming more right-wing), to his selective empathy, I begin to realize how tight the grip of what Charles Jacobs calls the Human Rights Complex is on our journalists, and their party-buddies, the UN workers and “Human Rights” NGOs who hang together in Jerusalem. It produces the “herd of independent minds” that characterizes today’s Middle East journalism.

And of course, if you adopt this point of view, you never have to deal with the problem of what happens if you report stuff that’s not acceptable to the Palestinians/Arabs/Muslims. So they can, in all good conscience, look you straight in the eye and say, “There’s no intimidation here.” Try writing some stories on the culture of genocidal hatred that has pride of place in Palestinian pulpits and airways, and see if there isn’t some pushback.

But then, that would be supplying Israel with PR weapons, and we wouldn’t want that.

All of this is a long and rather elaborate introduction to a brilliant satire put out by Latma on precisely this subject. Enjoy. Imnsho, it’s right on.

“Hullo, Can you see Florida from here?”: Helena Cobban opens a window onto the “global hamoulah” of progressives

Helena Cobban, who to her pacifist credit, expressed deep disapproval of Marc Garlasco’s unsavory hobby, despite the fact that she is on the board of HRW, and shares their attitude towards Israel, here gives us a fine example of how the “human rights” community think. It’s a stunning ride through the wild side of liberal cognitive egocentrism, the epistemological priority of the other, and masochistic omnipotence syndrome weaponized against those who dare defend themselves against sub-altern aggression. An excellent guide to what ails our chattering classes, including their chattering tone of self-confidence.

The value of the human rights frame
Posted by Helena Cobban October 22, 2009 11:15 PM EST

Michael Goldfarb, who was the deputy communications director for John McCain’s campaign, worked for a while in that temple of neoconservative organizing, the Project for a New American Century, and is a kind of scuzzy attack-dog for the pro-settler hard right, has now decided to come after–poor little moi.

Ad hominem? Moi?

(Yay! I made the big leagues of this guy’s ‘enemies’ list’! Oops, suppress that childish thought, Helena.)
HT to Richard Silverstein, co-rabbi of our “off-broadway” bloggers’ panel at J Street, next Monday noon-time, for having read Michael Goldfarb’s blog so the rest of us don’t have to…

For those who don’t know, “the rest of us” means, it’s, in Amira Hass’ proud phrasing, the global hamoulah [clan]” of leftists/progressives who know they’re at the cutting edge of global morality, leaders of the fight for a truly just and peaceful world, by identifying with the oppressed. And they’ve gathered, somewhat comically, at the JStreet conference in force.

Truth, Narrative, and Journalism in the ME: Barry Rubin nails it

I’ve dealt with pomo before here, and will again. Meantime, one of the saner observers of the madness that pomo can induce in journalists (and diplomats), Barry Rubin, has an interesting column on the subject.

When journalists say there is no such thing as truth than the world is in big trouble.

He begins with a couple of anecdotes:

A reporter just wrote me a letter that contains a single sentence which I think reflects on why the Western world is in such trouble today. After understandably discussing such real problems of reporting as short deadlines, complex issues, and the duty of the reporter to report what people say, the letter concludes with this sentence:

“And when it comes to the Middle East, one man’s [obscenity deleted] is another man’s truth.”

Woe to us that a journalist thinks this way. Of course, this is very similar to the older version that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

Recently, I heard that latter one from the Danish ambassador to the Council of Europe who said that Hamas and Hizballah were like the Danish resistance in World War Two. I replied, among other things, that I don’t remember the Danish or other World War Two European resistance movements bombing German kindergartens and glorying in getting Danish civilians killed as human shields.

I also don’t think that the Danes and other European resistance movements were attempting to commit genocide on the Germans. I do believe it was the other way around.

(PS: More Danes fought in the German army than in the Resistance, and that was true of other countries as well. Forgive me for remembering who was the main victim of terrorism and “freedom fighter” terrorists then and today. But I digress)

That a European country—and one of the more astute ones, to make matters worse–is represented by someone like that says something pretty sad about the state of the world today.

and finishes with a hilarious (to me at least) thought experiment:

UN Reporting Civilian Casualties: Sri Lanka vs. Gaza

I have posted before on the dramatic difference between media coverage of Israeli actions against Palestinians (and the attendant civilian casualties) and that of other conflicts, as, for example of the US in Afganistan. Now we have a case where a UN official protested a “civilian bloodbath” and the Sri Lankan government called his superior on the carpet for insulting the government in their legitimate pursuit of Tamil Tigers.

At the same time, the Sri Lankan government arrested and deported a British newsteam for having “consistently filed fabricated stories and had tarnished the country’s image.” For some countries, blackening their face with negative stories, however true, is more than enough cause to ban the press.

sri lankan press freedoms latuff

Sri Lankan minister blasts U.N. comments

(CNN) — Sri Lanka summoned a U.N. official to protest remarks by an agency spokesman about a civilian “bloodbath” in the government’s war against Tamil militants, Foreign Ministry sources told CNN Tuesday.

sri lankan casualty
A photo supplied by a humanitarian group on Sunday shows civilians allegedly injured in government shelling.

The Foreign Ministry expressed its displeasure to Amin Awad, acting resident representative of the United Nations in Sri Lanka, about comments by U.N. spokesman Gordon Weiss in Colombo.

Weiss told CNN on Monday that hundreds of civilians died during weekend fighting because the Sri Lankan army had surrounded rebel fighters in the country’s north, putting residents in the crossfire.

Note that “hundreds of civilians” dying over the weekend approximates the totals for the entire four weeks of Operation Cast Lead., yet another illustration of the disparity in casualties between the conflict involving Israel and other conflicts.

“The U.N. has been warning for weeks that this precise situation would result in a bloodbath and, indeed, that seemed to have come to pass,” Weiss said, adding that rebels had “refused to let 50,000 to 100,000 civilians go in order to force a government assault.”

How many UN officials in Gaza emphasized that Hamas used civilians as hostage-shields?

A Foreign Ministry source said Awad agreed to report the protest about Weiss’ remarks to his headquarters.

The Casualty Footprint of Conflicts: Stealth Conflicts gives us a view of the Astronomical Differences

Stealth Conflicts has an excellent illustration of what one might call the “casualty footprint” of conflicts. (I suggested a similar procedure with the media footprint of conflicts.) This is a visual way to bring forward the strikingly low casualties of the Arab-Israeli conflict. H/T: Honest Reporting

Illustrations based on figures discussed here.

congo-darfur
Figure 1.

congo israel-palestine
Figure 2.

As a contribution to the issue of media footprint, Stealth Conflicts has a post entitled: How many people have to die in the DRC to appear in the New York Times?

Stealth Conflicts suggests this is the death toll comparison between the conflict in the DRC and the Palestine-Israeli conflict (Figure 2 above). I am sure that this estimation (based on known figures) is very close to the real figure.

We live in a globalized world, where any information shows up on a webpage in a matter of minutes. But the DRC rarely appears in the frontpage of the most important newspapers. With its absence, the media are sending us a message: depending on where you are born, your life is worth more, or less.

This is so evidently unfair and painful.

My only hope is that, forty years from now, this scandal will be seen as a problem of the past. As a symptom of the problems of a society -our developed one- that, with time, changed for better. I hope to talk about it to my grandsons in the same way afroamerican grandparents talk nowadays about Rosa Parks. Like talking about an evident problem that finally, one day, one person dared to face. And changed for good.

We need our own Rosa Parks to raise this issue. I hope she will come soon.

My guess is that you’d have to reverse the figures and increase the difference by a magnitude of 10 or even 100 to get at the media footprint. That is, it takes only the smallest casualty figures for something from the Arab-Israeli conflict to make the NYT and many column inches of the NYT, while it would take massive casualties to even get a column inch for the Congo.

These are astronomical differences: between Earth and Jupiter (casualty footprint), between Earth and the Sun (media footprint). They demand explanation.

I think that the casualty footprint can only be explained by the exceptional commitment to Israelis to human life, even among its enemies. Given the vast superiority of fire-power the Israelis have, were they desirous of killing civilians (as are the Sudanese and the Congolese), they could do massive damage.

Only the Israeli will keeps them from causing more casualties, certainly not their capacity; whereas, with these other conflicts (and with the Palestinians), one gets the impression that it’s the opposite: only their limited capacity prevents further casualties, not their will.

What a red spade for the black hearts.

UPDATE: Very witty and biting use of these graphics at Breath of the Beast

Cognitive Warfare: More from Stuart Green’s thesis

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

The Discourse and the Cognitive Offensive

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barry Rubin Captures AP’s PCP Complex

Prof. Barry Rubin, writing for Watch on the Middle East, critiques several recent AP articles that betray the media’s devotion to the Politically-Correct Paradigm, the principle that we cannot understand “others” without empathy, and cannot empathize without restraining our tendency to impose our own mentality on others, especially in making value judgments. In the articles that Prof. Rubin has collected and analyzed, we see journalists who instinctively project the civic ideals that they believe in onto the Palestinians, ignoring all evidence to the contrary. In so doing, of course, Israel comes out as the aggressor who forces peaceful Palestinians to reluctantly turn to violence as the last resort.

In an article of September 20, Ali Daraghmeh, “Army says troops kill Palestinian with firebomb,” there is a long discussion of the current state of the peace process.

The NYT Ship of Fools: Rodenbeck (PCP2) Reviews Pollack (PCP1)

I recently posted on the way the NYT packages discussions of the Middle East. Now we get a close look at how it packages book reviews. Below is a review of a book by Ken Pollack offering a grand strategy for the US to contribute significantly to resolving the Middle East conflict. It seems like a flawed book in many ways, but hardly in the terms in which the chosen reviewer critiques it. The reviewer is Max Rodenbeck, the Middle East correspondent for The Economist. It’s a case of washing away PCP1 with a dose of PCP2, rather than balancing it with a more sober appraisal of the situation (HSJP)

For a more valuable critique, see Michael Rubin’s review in the New York Sun. Thank civil society for multiple sources of opinion. Thank the NYT for sheltering you from painful realities, and loading up its pages with writers from the ship of fools.

War and Peace

By MAX RODENBECK
Published: August 22, 2008

Back in 2002, I ran into one of the Brookings Institution’s top Middle East hands at the inaugural session of the United States-Islamic World Forum, a now annual event that Brookings sponsors jointly with the government of Qatar. “How’s it going?” I asked, expecting to hear about clashing misperceptions across the cultural divide. “Good,” came the gruff reply. “They’re beginning to realize that they are the problem.”

A PATH OUT OF THE DESERT
A Grand Strategy for America in the Middle East
By Kenneth M. Pollack
539 pp. Random House. $30
Related
First Chapter: ‘A Path Out of the Desert’ (August 24, 2008)

Reading this big, ambitious book by Kenneth M. Pollack, who is the head of research at Brookings’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy, it is hard not to wish that what he refers to as Washington’s “policy community” would more often realize that they are the problem.

That’s pretty amazing. If he had written, “they are part of the problem,” okay. But “they are the problem.” That’s pure MOS: Masochistic Omnipotence Syndrome — as if there were no problem besides our bungled attempts to solve the problem. It’s a little like saying all health problems are iatrogenic. There are no diseases; it’s the doctors’ fault.

It would have been nice, for instance, had Pollack himself thought harder before arguing, in scholarly papers and his widely read 2002 book, “The Threatening Storm,” that America had “no choice” but to invade Iraq. That ostensibly sober appraisal, coming from a former C.I.A. analyst, Clinton official and self-described liberal, arguably added more gravitas to the shrill cries for war than any other voice.

Pollack has long since confessed to having been wrong about Iraq. “A Path Out of the Desert” includes other mea culpas. “There has been far too little asking the people of the region themselves what they thought and what they wanted,” he ruminates at one point, though the book offers slim evidence of his having pursued this advice. While the administration that Pollack served gets some light wrist-­slapping, it is the following eight years of Bush policy that he calls “breathtakingly arrogant, ignorant and reckless.”

Rudenbeck speaks as if it’s a) clear how to consult the people of the region, b) that they are clear on what they want, and c) they’ll give you a straight answer whether they are clear or not.

Many of Pollack’s other judgments are as sound as is this criticism of the Bush administration. Since most of the post-cold-war world has stabilized, democratized and prospered, it is probably correct to suggest, as he does, that America should commit itself to helping the messy Middle East come up to par.

Now there’s an breathtaking piece of ignorant and reckless arrogance. Who says they want democracy? And who is they? And even if they say they want it, who says they (and here I’m speaking of the key players, the alpha males) are willing to make the sacrifices necessary for democracy (like giving up honor-killings or self-help justice). What a mealy-mouthed homogenized view of post-war culture Rodenbeck offers up with this description of post-war culture and the [obvious] conclusions he thinks we should draw from it.

The Supression of Mention of Palestinian Barbarism Part II: Ideology

I put up an earlier post on the role of intimidation in the reluctance of the Western media to publish material on hate-speech and other forms of unacceptable behavior (by progressive standards) of Palestinian groups. Some criticized me for emphasizing intimidation over ideology. Now we have an excellent example of how ideology — various forms of PCP — plays a key role in supressing any awareness of these problems in the American public. The American Jewish Committee tried to run an ad that would encourage American audiences to feel empathy for the citizens of Sderot under daily attack from Qassams shot from Gaza. A NYT-owned affiliate refused to run them. Their reasons give a fascinating insight into how some people think. Executive Director of the AJC, David Harris tells the tale and puts it in a larger framework:

What happens when the shoe’s on the other foot?
David A. Harris
Executive Director
American Jewish Committee
April 6, 2008

A small but influential chorus of American voices has made a mantra out of the notion that criticism of Israel is stifled by the pro-Israel community.

Indeed, when NYU professor Tony Judt’s lecture at the Polish Consulate in New York was canceled in 2006 by the consul general, because Poland did not subscribe to Judt’s view of a one-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a group of intellectuals rushed to his defense.

In a widely-publicized petition, they asserted that “We are united in believing that a climate of intimidation is inconsistent with fundamental principles of debate in a democracy. The Polish Consulate is not obliged to promote free speech. But the rules of the game in America oblige citizens to encourage rather than stifle debate.”

Let’s set aside the absurdity of the entire effort. After all, Judt had given countless lectures before that October date, not to mention his articles on the subject in the New York Review of Books and elsewhere. None of his defenders could cite a second instance of ”intimidation,” nor, for that matter, would they be able to cite an instance since then, either. In fact, Judt’s meeting was moved to a different venue in New York and that was that.

But there’s another side to the coin. While Judt and his erstwhile supporters, joined by Jimmy Carter, Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, have been making their case about their inability to be heard – ironically, in think tanks, universities and media outlets only too happy to have them speak out about how they cannot speak out – some are trying to silence a very different viewpoint.

On behalf of AJC, I do a weekly national 60-second radio spot. The time is purchased as any advertisement would be. For the past nearly seven years, it has been broadcast across the United States on the CBS radio network, on hundreds of stations, without incident.

Earlier this year, we expanded the reach by adding in the New York area WQXR, a popular classical music station owned by the New York Times.

For the week of March 31, here was the text to be aired:

    Fifteen seconds. Imagine you had fifteen seconds to find shelter from an incoming missile. Fifteen seconds to locate your children, help an elderly relative, assist a disabled person to find shelter.

    That’s all the residents of Sderot and neighboring Israeli towns have.

    Day or night, the sirens go on. Fifteen seconds later, the missiles, fired from Hamas-controlled Gaza, hit. They could hit a home, a school, a hospital. Their aim is to kill and wound and demoralize.

    Imagine yourself in that situation.

    The sirens blast. 15, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. The time to seek shelter has ended. The missiles hit.

    This is what Israelis experience daily. But, amazingly, they refuse to be cowed. Help us help those Israelis. Visit ajc.org.

The spot was broadcast several times, as is customary, on the CBS radio network, but WQXR refused to do so.

Here’s the written explanation from Tom Bartunek, president of New York Times Radio and general manager of WQXR:

    ”In my judgement several elements of this spot are outside our bounds of acceptability. First, the opening line— `Imagine you had fifteen seconds to find shelter from an oncoming missile’ — does not make clear that the potential target of the missile is not our listening area, and as a consequence, runs the risk of raising anxiety in a misleading way.

I think that was the point of the ad: get people to realize what kind of anxiety people in Sderot feel. Heaven forbid that New Yorkers, who have had their experiences dealing with Islamists who target civilians, should realize that it’s happening in Israel on a daily basis.

    Second, the description of the missiles as arriving `day or night’ and `daily’ is also subject to challenge as being misleading, at least to the degree that reasonable people might be troubled by the absence of any acknowledgement of reciprocal Israeli military actions.

This is rich. Note the contorted syntax as well as the logic. Let’s deconstruct this passage, first merely by getting rid of the passive tense: “Reasonable people” — who? — might feel that the ad misleads by claiming that Sderot is bombed day and night, daily, because this claim does not mention that there are reciprocal Israeli military actions? Huh? How do the Israeli military actions affect whether this is happening day and night? Perhaps because it might unduly influence the audience into feeling sympathy for the citizens of Sderot without assuring that same audience that, because Israel is also bombing the Palestinians, they somehow “have it coming”?

Wedeman’s World: Israel, not Hamas or Fatah, Cause of Palestinian Suffering

Ben Wedeman, CNN’s veteran Middle East correspondent, wrote an article on CNN’s website in which he places the blame for the Palestinian’s economic situation squarely on Israel’s shoulders. Wedeman does not blame Hamas, who took control by murdering Fatah supporters and who spend millions on weapons, or Fatah, whose leaders have embezzled billions of dollars meant for the Palestinian public.

Note to readers: Lazar initially put up this piece. My additional comments are in italics.

This is a perfect article for describing the Augean habits of the media, from the language used to the framing of the problem in which Palestinian behavior — against Israel or against their own people — doesn’t figure. Wedeman — against heavy competition — takes the Most Valuable Idiot of the Day award.

JERUSALEM (CNN) — Air Force One touched down in Tel Aviv on Wednesday. President Bush has come to the Holy Land for the first time as president of the United States.

But he’s trapped inside his security bubble, his every step mapped out in great and precise detail by teams of security experts and handlers. In the end he’ll see a side of this unhappy land that bears as much resemblance to reality as Hollywood does to real life.

Ahmadinejad Makes The Case for Human Rights and World Peace in Newsweek

Flush with confidence after the publication of the NIE, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wrote an article in this week’s Newsweek entitled “An Arrogant Approach: The Danger of Unilateralism-for the United States and the World.” It is a prime example of a proponent of Jihadi Islam attacking the West with its own terms and values- multilateralism, human dignity, and “global, sustainable peace and security”. Like many others who share his worldview, Ahmadinejad understands that the West’s media is an effective, available means of weakening its resolve.

In the name of God the compassionate, the merciful: the international community has moved away from peace, security and justice due to the mismanagement of some of its actors. Yet the expectation of a world marked by security and tranquillity endures.

After the end of the cold war and the regional confrontations emanating from bipolar competition, many hoped there would be a beautiful spring in international relations, as a multilateral system emerged that offered equal opportunities to all members of the international community. It was hoped that the new world would enable all nations, in light of universally accepted humane norms and mutual respect, to advance together, eradicate poverty and injustice, and set aside bitter memories of the past that were nothing but war, bloodshed, violence and tension.

The Coming Urban Terror: How do we fight?

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

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

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

The Coming Urban Terror
John Robb

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

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

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

read the rest…

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

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

Self-Criticism and Well-Meaning Western Wimps

Barry Rubin has a provocative piece on how hard it is to be an Arab these days, when not only do your elites victimize you and you can’t protest, but the West, in thinking they’re doing you a favor, praise your oppressors. In it he recounts an anecdote that illustrates a key element of our problem in the West.

Years ago, when Saddam Hussein was still in office, I was asked to address a visiting delegation of Arab journalists. The other American speakers gave the standard blah-blah. We felt their pain, we were working to resolve the Israel-Palestinian issue, we were sensitive to their Arab nationalist sentiments.

Having no ambition to hold high political office, I decided to introduce a dose of reality. Let’s face it, I explained, we know that your real enemy isn’t Israel or the United States but the regimes in Libya, Iraq, Syria, Iran, as well as Yasir Arafat and others. They are the ones who take away your rights, wreck your societies, destroy your dreams. Afterward I was mobbed–in the friendliest sense possible–by the audience who all wanted to thank me and say that they agreed.

Almost the same thing happened at Harvard Center for Far Eastern Studies a couple of years ago when my father, David S. Landes and a Western scholar specializing in China, Kenneth Pomeranz had a debate. Pomeranz argued the thesis of his book, The Great Divergeance: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy, in which the West and China were neck and neck in economic development really up to 1800, and then only the “luck” of the discovery of the “New World” and coal in Britain account for the West’s decisive advantage in modernizing. So, echoing Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel, he placed the industrial revolution and modernity in the context of aleatory, evolutionary phenomena. Cudda happened in China just as easiy as the West if only…

Landes, whose book The Wealth and Poverty of Nations analyzes economic growth in terms of cultural variables like the amount of empowerment commoners are permitted, the attitudes towards manual labor, the intellectual capital and willingness of a culture to learn from others, and the constraints on the behavior of the power elites, argued the opposite. According to him, already, well before 1800, the Europeans were on a trajectory that was qualitatively different from that of China, which, with all the coal and New World contacts it wanted, would not have “modernized” without fundamental changes in its cultural attitudes both towards the outside world, and towards its own commoners.

After the talk, Pomeranz was “mobbed” by the Western graduate students eager to hear more about how great the Chinese were and how dumb lucky Westerners were. But the Chinese graduate students wanted to talk to my father. Why? Because they were far less interested in having their ego stroked by well meaning Westerners who were basically condescending to them with useless information (unless you consider that kind of misinformation “therapeutically” valuable), than in hearing some hard concrete criticisms that they could actually absorb and respond to.

In his essay on “The Politics of Rage: Why Do They Hate Us” in Newsweek right after 9-11, Fareed Zakaria wrote the following:

About a decade ago, in a casual conversation with an elderly Arab intellectual, I expressed my frustration that governments in the Middle East had been unable to liberalize their economies and societies in the way that the East Asians had done. “Look at Singapore, Hong Kong and Seoul,” I said, pointing to their extraordinary economic achievements. The man, a gentle, charming scholar, straightened up and replied sharply, “Look at them. They have simply aped the West. Their cities are cheap copies of Houston and Dallas. That may be all right for fishing villages. But we are heirs to one of the great civilizations of the world. We cannot become slums of the West.

This disillusionment with the West is at the heart of the Arab problem. It makes economic advance impossible and political progress fraught with difficulty. Modernization is now taken to mean, inevitably, uncontrollably, Westernization and, even worse, Americanization. This fear has paralyzed Arab civilization. In some ways the Arab world seems less ready to confront the age of globalization than even Africa, despite the devastation that continent has suffered from AIDS and economic and political dysfunction. At least the Africans want to adapt to the new global economy. The Arab world has not yet taken that first step.

Misplaced pride, fear of the heavy hand of a power elite that — unlike the Chinese — enforces the ego-gratifying discourse of anti-Western self-assertion, and perhaps a pervasive sense that no matter what they do, they’ll always be behind tiny, humiliating Israel, has the Arab world in its grip. And well-meaning Westerners, eager to feed them the “therapeutic” discourse of our own anti-Western moral equivalence, condemn them further to the mind-forged prison they have constructed for themselves.

As Rubin concludes his essay:

It is heart-breaking. What do you say to a Syrian dissident who is facing prison and quite possibly torture? Can you tell him that the West will support him, that journalists will condemn the regime that beats him, Middle East experts will give papers at conferences praising his work, U.S. congressional delegations won’t visit unless he is freed, or European governments will demand his release?

How can one not feel the misery of the Arab peoples, intoxicated as many are by the opiate of Arab nationalism and Islamism, the false promises of impending triumphs and the horror stories of satanic foes?

How can one not sympathize with the frustration of real moderates who live in societies where they are treated as madmen and traitors?

And how can one not feel the utmost disgust at those living comfortably in the West who celebrate or advocate their own countries’ surrender to all the evil forces holding them down and back?

Barry Rubin is Director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, Interdisciplinary Center university. His latest book, The Truth about Syria was published by Palgrave-Macmillan in May 2007. Prof. Rubin’s columns can be read online at: http://gloria.idc.ac.il/articles/index.html.