Category Archives: global jihad warming

Economist Al Durah Cartoon Self-Destructs

The Economist ran the following political cartoon to illustrate an article about how Palestinians feel about losing the world’s attention.

economist's al durah

Tom Gross caught it, Nidra Poller confirmed it emphatically: the two foreground figures are Muhammad al Durah and his father, Jamal. The wall behind them is the famous wall behind the two, “riddled” with bullets, allegedly shot “like rain” and “in cold blood” by the IDF.

The piece is supposed to accompany the article, which combines a sympathetic story of Palestinian distress at Realpolitik alliances such as Sissi and Bibi,

The shift has left the Palestinians, whose fate once topped the Arab agenda, feeling abandoned.

with an implied threat that, if we don’t pay attention to the plight of the Palestinians, they just might get violent.

What really stirs Arab emotions are scenes of Israelis killing Palestinians. Violence over the past year has left dozens of Israelis and more than 200 Palestinians dead. Most Palestinians, according to polls, back a return to an armed intifada (uprising). With the Arab world focused elsewhere, America in the throes of a presidential race and progress towards a two-state solution halted, they may see no other way to capture the world’s attention.

The article has no author, but appears not to be an editorial (although it would certainly fit nicely in the opinion section, written jointly by the Jerusalem and Cairo correspondents). Presumably, this kind of writing seems both professional and informative to the editorial team who published it. But when we read the cartoon against the grain, we get a remarkable comment on the inveterate lethal journalism that dominates European reporting on the Middle East.

The Biggest Winner in the Lose-Lose “Operation Protective Edge”

The Biggest Winner in the Lose-Lose “Operation Protective Edge”

A shorter version (edited for tone and length) is up at American Interest. If you leave comments here, I recommend you also leave them there.

After weeks of combat in Gaza, pundits sort out “Who won?” The weak side (Hamas) claims points for just surviving, despite the massive hammering its leadership and its constituents endured, while the strong side (Israel), whatever its battle-field gains, lost the “cognitive war” — big time. In the topsy-turvy universe of Middle East politics, nothing succeeds like failure on the battlefield and nothing fails like military success.

As for the ancillary players, more losers all around: journalists’ credibility dangerously damaged; UNHRC and UNRWA behavior, embarrassingly partisan; Secretary of State Kerry and President Obama, astonishingly clueless and blundering; intellectual left shamefully right-wing in its embrace of anti-Semitic discourse. Consensus assessment of many analysts: Operation Protective Edge (OPE) has produced only losers and bigger losers.

Only one group emerged from OPE a grand winner: European Jihadis. During the weeks of Israel pounding Hamas while Hamas hid behind civilians, demonstrators spilled out into the streets of Western and Muslim cities the world over to protest “Israeli genocide of the Palestinians,” even as they shouted “Death to Jews!” #Hitlerwasright, “Jews to the ovens!” Shops ransacked, Jews refused medical services, attacked in riots, Jewish businesses boycotted. For Jihadis, OPE offered a whole new, and possibly permanent, level of public violence. In Germany: “Hamas! Hamas! Jews to the Gas!”; in France, “Death to Jews! Slit Jews Throats!” This time, the chant has become a battle cry for bands of “youths,” armed with metal bars, running after Jews. And European Jews are packing their bags.

In the Jewish diaspora community and Israel, the alarm was palpable. “Time to go?” asked Shmuel Trigano rhetorically about France. Why? Not only because once again, people killed and sought to kill Jews in the streets of Europe, but because the news media continually played down the amplitude of the violence and hatred, and the authorities, both police and judiciary, resisted it half-heartedly. In France, as in England, anti-Semites no longer hide; unafraid of police, they roam the streets like the brown shirts of yore. Is this the “beginning of the end” of a two-millennia-long Jewish presence in Europe?

Jihadis, of course, delight in these new levels of both hatred and violence. For them, it’s a quadruple win: 1) depict Israel as the Dajjal (Antichrist) to Western audiences; 2) roam through the streets of Western cities yelling Jihadi slogans; 3) accelerate the expulsion of Jews from Europe as preparation for its conquest; and 4) keep the Europeans thinking this violence only targets Jews, and only because of Israel. For Jihadis, these past weeks confirm what they have long believed: that this is the Muslim century in which, among others, Europe joins Dar al Islam.

How did this happen? How did it get so bad before we noticed it? Are we observing changes of civilizational magnitude?

Global Consequences of Lethal Journalism: The Muslim Street

Lethal Journalism and the Muslim Street in Europe: “Death to Jews” in The Hague

I have long argued that there’s a direct relationship between lethal journalism about Israel and the rise of an aggressive Muslim Street in Europe (and the rest of the West). This round of fighting, better than anything, illustrates the point… so much that one might hope that Europeans are waking up.  This incident in The Hague (Holland), unfortunately, suggests that the Dutch are still struggling with reality, both moral and empirical.


Dear Eugene,

Yesterday evening, this happened in The Hague, the “international city of peace and justice”.

Hear the Muslim mobs shout “Death to the Jews” (“Al mawt al Yahud”); make references to the genocide of Khaibar and shout “Those who do not jump are Jews” (with all Muslims  present jumping):

This morning, the public prosecutors office issued a press release which understates the size of the demonstration (only 40-50 people — journalists counted over a hundred ‘activists’ and several hundred chearing bystanders).

The press release further states: “The police was present at the demonstration with an Arabic speaking police officer. The slogans overheard by this police officer were, at that moment, not considered as crossing boundaries. Hence, no arrest have been made.”

You can use google translate to get  you an English version.

Apparently, the Muslim police officer lied about what he heard.

And also the Mayor  of The Hague declared that no boundaries have been crossed.

This is unbelievable and totally unacceptable.

This calls for an international scandal. Please spread this message.

Done and to be done.

Surrealist France Disoriented: From Al Durah to the Jeu de Paume

The Tablet Magazine just published a piece of mine on France’s cognitive disorientation, most recently demonstrated by their putting an exhibit of Palestinian war propaganda (exaltation of suicide terrorists as martyr-heroes) in their first class museum, the  Jeu de Paume, with a sign saying, “this is not propaganda.”

Terrorist Chic in France, From the Jeu de Paume Exhibit to Al Durah to Mohamed Merah

A controversial new exhibit celebrates mass murderers and raises war propaganda to the level of high art

By Richard Landes|July 30, 2013 12:00 AM|Comments: 7

A poster of the exhibit ‘Phantom Home,’ by Palestinian photographer Ahlam Shibli, outside the Jeu de Paume museum in Paris, June 2013. (AP Photo/Remy de la Mauviniere)

This Summer the French National Museum, the Jeu de Paume, once famous for its display of Impressionist paintings, is hosting an astonishing photography exhibit,Phantom House. The work of an Israeli Bedouin woman, Ahlam Shibli, it assembles an eclectic series of photographs that depict a number of different groups whose homes are really not theirs, or who do not have homes—people who “live under oppression.” These include Bedouin “Trackers” who enlist in the IDF, “Palestinians” living in the Galilee and Jordan, Polish children in orphanages, Middle Eastern LGBTs who live in Western countries, the French of Corrèze during the Nazi occupation, and, in by far the most elaborate of the exhibits, the Palestinian families of “martyrs” who “resisted” the “occupation,” standing with the pictures, posters, and graves of their “disappeared” relatives.

The exhibit has elicited predictable controversy. These alleged “martyrs” who “took control of their own deaths,” the object of loving devotion by their families, are actually mass murderers who killed themselves in order to murder as many children, women, civilians as they could. Like so much of the Palestinian narrative, these photos give no place to the “other” except as faceless colonial oppressors. For one Jewish woman, a patron of the museum, the experience was horrifying. Looking at these pictures of “martyrs,” she recognized people who had blown up restaurants and buses, which were chosen precisely because there were children there.

Outraged objections poured in. The museum’s response was to post a notice that insisted that this was not propaganda and quoted the artist insisting that she was “not a militant, not judgmental.”

Of course, all of this is nonsense. If not propaganda (like the famous pipe that is not a pipe), it is a display of lovingly presented photographs of propaganda. The artist is decidedly judgmental, presenting her fellow Bedouin who serve in the IDF as pathetic sell-outs to a colonial regime (they appear strikingly comfortable and secure with themselves in the photos), peppering her exhibit on French victims of the Nazi occupation with comments on how they turned around after liberation and became colonial oppressors in Indochina and Algeria. The unalloyed admiration for the “resistance to occupation” of the Palestinians, juxtaposed with that of the French resistance to the Nazis, plays on a common, if grotesque, theme of Palestinian propaganda—that the Israelis are the new Nazis and the Palestinians the new Jews.


The editors cut my final sentence. Here in bold:

Thus, cognitively disoriented by both their media and their academics to such a degree, it is altogether possible for the curators at the Jeu de Paume to put up an exhibit celebrating mass murderers—and to believe that, in so doing, they were siding with the innocent and “speaking truth” to Israeli “power.” And so they raise war propaganda that targets their own culture to the level of high art. Little wonder that, even as they celebrate Palestinian Jihadis who make martyr-heroes of mass murderers, they remain willfully blind to the fact that the “jeunes” in their own Muslim communities are doing the same to their very own child-killing Jihadi, Mohamed Merah.


The Addiction of the Western News Media To Lethal Narratives about Israel

The Addiction of the Western News Media

To Lethal Narratives about Israel

And its Disastrous Consequences for Everyone


Talk delivered Sunday, March 3, 2013 at 11:00 AM 

Since the Fall of 2000, the Western mainstream news media have taken a peculiar turn towards what one might call “lethal journalism.” In particular, the MSNM have consistently served as a major conduit for “lethal narratives” about Israel, largely concocted by Palestinians and other Arabs seeking to destroy Israel, which they, with an astonishingly consistent credulity, report as news. This turn represents not a creation of “lethal journalism” which had already shown its strength during the 1982 Israeli operation in Lebanon, but with the outbreak of the Oslo Intifada, it came to dominate the news media in unprecedented fashion.

Let’s begin with “lethal narratives.” These are stories that are told with the intention of creating hatred and a desire for revenge. Some are based on real events in which Palestinians and other Arabs die (Sabra and Shatilla, Gaza Beach, Kafr Qana), some are invented out of whole cloth (Jenin poisonings, Muhammad al Durah, Mavi Marmara). All involve the exaggeration of the number killed, the attribution of their deaths to Israeli soldiers, and, most significantly, the accusation of deliberate murder. These narratives are weapons of war, designed to both incense, incite, and provoke Muslims the world over to hate the Israelis and seek revenge, to alienate from Israel the support of peace-loving progressives in the West, and to dishearten Zionists in defense of their cause.

Lethal narratives partake of a larger discourse of hatred that has characterized warfare for millennia. They have a peculiarly virulent place in the “war against the Jews” especially in the “Blood Libels” that plagued European culture from the 12th to the 20th century, and continue to circulate widely in the Muslim world to this day. Lethal narratives embody a reactionary “us-them” scape-goating mentality that views the “enemy” as evil. Few phenomena hurt the possibility of peace more than their circulation, and nothing could more violate the basic progressive discourse than this kind of bellicose story-telling, especially when they are concocted out of malice.

Somewhat ironically, then, modern (or post-modern) journalism, which openly pursues a progressive agenda – often in the form of universal human rights – has shown itself particularly susceptible to Palestinian lethal narratives. The lethal journalist’s rule of thumb in dealing with evidence from the “war of images” (which is really a war of narratives) between Israel and its neighbors, is

  • believe what Palestinians say until proven wrong,
  • dismiss what the Israelis say until proven right,
  • and when that eventually becomes the case (after much damage), move on to the next story.

There were already plenty of lethal journalists before 2000, but they were mostly marginalized – except in 1982 when there was blood in the water. After the outbreak of the Intifada, however, they rapidly come to dominate most aspects of journalism about the conflict, pushing out and intimidating other approaches to the subject with activist fervor. Indeed, once in charge, the lethal journalists could pressure new journalists who come to cover the Middle East to conform to their epistemological principles – the priority of the Palestinian over the Israeli narrative. Whether the fear of hostility from Palestinian sources who brook criticism badly, or of ostracism from the circle of UN-NGO-journalist-activists where they have to spend most of their time, reporters rapidly learn the rules of the game, as Ricardo Cristiano assured Yasser Arafat, when he protested this his crews would never have circulated pictures of the Palestinian lynching at Ramallah in October of 2000:

We emphasize to all of you that the events did not happen this way, because we always respect (will continue to respect) the journalistic procedures with the Palestinian Authority for (journalistic) work in Palestine and we are credible in our precise work.

We thank you for your trust, and you can be sure that this is not our way of acting. We do not (will not) do such a thing.

As a result, the press’ coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict, especially since 2000, fall prey to a double inconsistency: on the one hand an uncritical embrace of these lethal narratives against Israel, and a corresponding reluctance to report real news about murderous Palestinians, their incitement, their targeting of civilians, their genocidal discourse. This double inversion of telling lies about Israel and not telling the truth about the Palestinians (who produce these lies), ends up not contributing to peace, but to war, feeding not the peacemakers but the worst warmongers. Perhaps the single greatest beneficiary of this reign of lethal journalists, has been global Islamic imperialism (Jihad) whose cause benefits from both the incitement of its own troops and the dissemination of culture disorientation and paralysis among its Western democratic foes. Historians will look back at the turn of the millennium and date the appearance of a global Muslim street whose increasing aggression has yet to visibly wane.

Al Durah: the blood libel and the victory of lethal journalism

Let’s begin not with the origins of lethal journalism, but the most lethal of all the “narratives” – Muhammad al Durah – and its consequences. Al Durah constitutes the most extreme example of lethal journalism in every aspect:

  • it was staged – quite crudely,
  • journalists both bought it hook line and sinker,
  • it had a mythical impact on the global imagination – it is the icon of hatred that inaugurated the 21st century
  • it has done untold damage to everyone on the planet who seeks peace – Israeli, Palestinian, Western, Muslim
  • and journalists – still! – resist correcting themselves.

Here is the footage, shot on Rosh Hashannah, 5760/2000 by Palestinian cameraman for CNN, Talal abu Rahmah as presented by Charles Enderlin on France2.

This became an instant global hit. Everyone who had a television saw this event, along with the accompanying narrative – that Israeli army had deliberately, in cold blood, murdered the boy in his defenseless father’s arms. This was the affirmation – the whole world saw it – of all that the Palestinians had been accusing Israel of for time out of mind: they were the murderous, rapist, massacring, Nazis.


American newspapers were not exempt from the feeding frenzy:



The story opened the gates to a morally sadistic equation of Israel with the Nazis (the ultimate lethal frame) even as it gave voice to genocide against the Jews.

place de la republique croppedPlace de la République, Paris, October 6, 2000.

Here we have the opening round of the Muslim Street in Europe: an enthusiastic accusation against Israel of being the real Nazis even as, for the first time since the Nazis a European capital – Paris no less – heard the cry of “death to the Jews.”

Al Durah became a substitution theology. As one reporter, speaking for many, put it: This picture erases, replaces that of the boy in the ghetto.

ghetto boy blog

Israel was the new Nazis, Palestinians were the new Jews: what had, in the 20th century, been considered the most ludicrous and grotesque moral claim – Arabs who openly embraced Nazi genocidal ideology accusing Israel of being the Nazis and claiming to be the Jews object of Israeli genocide – went mainstream. Sharansky was among the first to identify the problem, the 3 Ds: Demonization, Delegitimation, Double – really Quadruple Standard.

Think, for a moment, of the moral disorientation necessary to accept, much less advocate such a claim: the image of a boy, caught in a crossfire the Palestinians started, replacing a symbol of the deliberate murder of a million children and six million civilians. You have to be morally deranged to find such a supersessionist equation compelling. Deranged by what? Hatred? Denied guilt? Resentment? Of what?

Certainly someone like Bin Laden immediately grasped the value of the al Durah imagery for the cause of Jihad.

This video was used extensively by radical Muslim groups recruiting on college campuses.


What are the consequences of the al Durah story

  • Activated global Jihad: Israel was the Dajjal (Antichrist) of the Muslim apocalyptic scenario whereby they would conquer the world.
  • Disabled any Arabs in the peace camp: any Palestinian still dialoguing with Israelis/Jews after this footage appeared became a traitor to the cause.
  • Mobilizing an global anti-Zionist discourse: the “global Left” enthusiastically embraced the discourse in which Israel was the major cause of the conflict, and her elimination was the “solution.”

Thus, al Durah presided over a Red-Green alliance that reached its first climax less than a year later at the Durban “anti-racism” conference in late August of 20001.  There the virulent denunciation of Israel, led by Muslim countries but taken up by Western progressives in a series of conferences and resolutions condemning Zionism and laying out plans for a global campaign against her. Jamal al durah was flown in on Arafat’s private jet, told everyone how the Israelis had killed his boy in cold blood, and Muhammad, carried in effigy became the “patron saint” of Durban’s hate-fest.


As a result of the remorseless media campaign against Israel, she became one of the most despised countries in the world, right down there with Iran among the most warlike countries.

The paradox of Western Peace journalism turning into War journalism:

Peace journalism became a major factor in the Oslo Peace Process, enthusiastically embraced not only by Israeli journalists in the peace camp, but academics as well. Peace journalism argues that the news media can contribute to peace by encouraging people to trust the other side, and by not emphasizing sensationalist news that might discourage people from supporting negotiations (e.g., terrorist strikes). This makes sense, however, only when both sides engage in such a process. If one side systematically suppresses information that might lead the readers to abandon peace and prepare for war, while the other side demonizes the other side and prepares its people for war, then it has the opposite effect, since it disarms the side committed to peace and arms the other for war.

This is precisely what happened in the period of the Oslo “Peace Process”: the Israeli and Western “peace press” played down any information that might alert the Israelis or the world to Palestinian intentions, and ostracized as right-wing war-mongers anyone who tried to bring this information – MEMRI and PMW were born in this period. Thus while the Palestinians spoke of Oslo as a Trojan Horse, the press played the role of Poseidon’s serpents who killed Laacoon and his sons when they proved the horse contained warriors. And then, when the war that anyone well-informed could have foreseen broke out, the liberal media, both in Israel and in the West, rather than admitting their error of judgment, blamed Israel. And al Durah played a key role in that process.

The overall picture of the period of lethal journalism after al Durah gives us the spectacle of an Arab-Israeli Bullfight. Israel is the Toreador, the Arabs are the Bull, the journalists are the Picadors that enrage the bull, and the crowd is made up of PETA fans rooting for the Bull and hating the matador. And the supporters of the matador are embarrassed to shout their support.

How do we reverse the consequence: ways that people who support Israel (Zionists!) can talk with their neighbors, friends, and co-workers, without getting angry or shrill when they run into resistance.

  • Cognitive Warfare: sometimes lethal narratives backfire:
    • Deir Yassin in the short run led to the Arabs fleeing; in the long run it has been a major accusation of massacre against the Israeli (along with Sabra and Shatilla, and Muhammad al Durah) – all lethal narratives.
    • how can we get these lethal narratives to backfire?
  • focussing on the media’s vulnerability to “lethal narratives” about Israel.
    • staying away from the anti-semitism accusations and reformulating the problem (e.g., why is there such an appetite for lethal narratives about Israel?)
    • disabling certain memes that people unthinkingly accept:
      • war is not the answer
      • violence never solved anything
      • if i’m being criticized by both sides i must be doing something right,
      • it’s racist to say nasty things about Arabs,
      • I’m not saying anything Jews don’t say.
      • Newspapers may make mistakes, but they’re not biased, and certainly not on purpose.
  • Examining some unconscious patterns
    • Racism: no moral expectations towards the Arabs
    • Quadruple Standards: the West is held to a higher standard than the third world, the Israelis are held to a higher standard than the West, and the Palestinians to a lower standard than the third world.
    • “Progressive” support for the Palestinians reinforces the scapegoating discourse of the Arab elite who use it to exploit their own people.
    • As much as it’s aimed at supporting peace, this all actually foments war and prolongs the conflict.
    • PC: Using “Left vs. Right” to identify players (e.g., pro-Palestinian is left-wing; pro-Israeli is right-wing), has become worse than misleading and useless, it’s now destructive and a sign of our utter disorientation.
    • Why are Westerners, including Jews, so attracted to lethal narratives about Israel and so loathe to hear them about their real enemies?
    • getting people to reflect on their unconscious (or unexamined) projections of their own mentality onto others (liberal cognitive egocentrism).

If you can’t vote for Romney, Don’t vote for Obama: An Open Letter to Americans of all Faiths and Skepticisms

If you can’t vote for Romney, Don’t vote for Obama:

An Open Letter to Americans of all Faiths and Skepticisms

I hesitate to take a public stand on national elections, never have, never thought I would. But exceptional times call for exceptional measures. I write because I think that the choice of Barak Obama could have dangerous consequences, not only for the United States (where I grew up, teach, have family, and which I greatly admire as both a nation and a culture), and for Israel (where I live, have family, write, and which I greatly admire as both a nation and a culture). I think another four years of President Obama would seriously endanger the culture of openness, tolerance and productivity that has made our current age such an astonishing one in world history.

I have become increasingly alarmed, in the course of the first decade of the 21st century, about what seemed to me an inexplicable loss of ground in a critical battle for moral integrity with a politicized religious movement which we loosely refer to as Islamism. Many of those who believe that Islam should exercise political sovereignty wherever it exists, also manifest alarmingly aggressive, regressive traits. Since political Islam clearly violates the idea of the separation of church and state, a pillar of free democracies, it did not occur to me that the products and developers of modern liberal culture would lose such a debate to people whose sharia-imposed utopia involves patriarchy and its attendant misogyny, imperialist politics and its hate-targeting of scapegoats, violence and its threat in order to silence critics.

To my shock and horror, I have felt like a witness to a self-destructive generation, bent on pursuing the mirages that John Lennon invited us to Imagine, no matter what the cost, no matter who we tried to reach by throwing off all our identity boundaries. Damn the regressive icebergs, full speed ahead to making the world “a much better place” by embracing the “Other.” Ignore those violent Islamists and what they’re doing; they’re all part of the great experiment in global consciousness in which we all participate.

Not only that, our critics from within and without insist, but “we” Eurocentric Westerners should take responsibility for any problems that arise. Ask not, “what do they believe to hate us so?” but rather, “what have we done to make them hate us so?” It was one thing for Chomsky to respond to 9-11 by declaring the US the worst terrorist, it was madness for a generation of idealist/activists to take Chomsky as their moral compass. The result: when Islamists accused us of terrible and malevolent crimes, and held us to standards of human rights for them, that they themselves would never grant to us, we responded, “Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. We deserve the hostility we get. Perhaps, if we atone and show respect to you, we can all move on to a better, more equitable world.”

Who but the most perceptive prophet in the 1990s could have imagined this marriage of pre-modern sadism and post-modern masochism? And who, upon seeing it take shape, would have imagined the powerful (even hegemonic) voice it commanded in the public sphere in the next decade? Who but a pessimistic William Blake could have dreamed of so perverse an Emperor’s New Clothes dominating public conversation even as a remorseless enemy builds strength?

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.

New Review of my Book by John Reilly

This is a review by John Reilly, one of the smartest and most astute (as well as unconventional) non-academic, metahistorical thinkers I know, an active and early member of the CMS. His website (one of the earlier of the phenomenon) is here, and the review here.

Heaven on Earth
The Varieties of the Millennial Experience
By Richard Landes
Oxford University Press, 2011
499 Pages, $35.00
ISBN 978-0-19-975359-8

For more than 1500 years, a conspiracy of clerics and historiographers has worked, with great success, to hide one of the principal features of cultural and political evolution. Now in these latter days it is more important than ever that the truth be revealed, since the failure to take this hidden factor into consideration threatens the survival of civilization, and maybe of the human race itself.

Perhaps this summary slightly overstates the thesis of this book by Richard Landes, professor of medieval history at Boston University. (He was also the principal organizer just before the year 2000 of the Center for Millennial Studies, of which your reviewer was a member.) The book attempts a typology of millennial movements and apocalyptic thinking, illuminated by often fascinating cross-cultural and historical case studies. At the same time, the book argues that historiography and anthropology often do not categorize these things correctly when they appear, and even tend to expunge the millennial elements from the textual record. Unlike most conspiracy theories, this one has the advantage of being true in large part. Neither is the evidence far to seek: the book’s subtitle is a play on the title of the famous study by William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience, a work which somehow manages not to treat endtime excitement, though that is very often a conspicuous feature of religious revivals and personal conversions.

“Millennialism” may be taken to be the image of a future state of the world in which there will be peace and prosperity and societal justice, with the sorrowful aspects of the human condition overcome. The term comes from the “millennium,” the thousand-year reign of the saints mentioned in the Book of Revelation, though similar notions occur in other religious traditions. In fact, any model of history that forecasts a happy ending can usefully be treated as “millennial,” at least for some purposes. “Apocalyptic” can mean the sudden transition from ordinary history to the millennial condition. In some models, this transition can be effected solely through divine intervention, in which case the human role is likely to be rather passive. To the extent that “history” is a deep cause for the change, the human role is more active. The extreme case in the activist direction is pure social revolution.

All these possibilities are eschatological, in the sense that they treat of the eschaton (“end”), but they are not the only possible eschatologies. Indeed, as we are repeatedly reminded in this book, the orthodox eschatology for most of Latin Christendom has almost invariably some variation on that of St. Augustine of Hippo (AD 354 – 430). Augustine discouraged, to put it mildly, the unique identification of any historical period or political regime with the fulfillment of eschatological hope. The end, the Second Coming, would not be the product of historical evolution, and it would end history rather than inaugurate a new historical era, however blissful.

Augustine, we may note, had a hard job: he spent a large part of his career arguing that “Now is not the time to panic” during an era when a reasonable man might respond, “If not now, when?” Be that as it may, in the typology of this book, he is an “owl,” indeed the Great Horned Owl of Western historiography. Owls are a perennial class of commentators who argue, not always persuasively, that current disasters do not mean the world is about to end. They do not argue that an end will not come, or even necessarily that there will be no millennium; they are at their most owlish when they quibble about the date of the endtime. Most annoyingly, from the author’s point of view, owls in the aftermath of a millennial moment will retrospectively conclude that there was nothing much to it (the world did not end, did it?) and insist that they themselves were not taken in, not at all. Confusing documents suggesting otherwise tend to go missing.

The opposite perennial figure is the “rooster,” who crows that the night is nearly over, the time is now, and everyone must cast aside caution in the impending dawn. Roosters often get a hearing. Even casual students of history will have run across episodes like the Great Disappointment of the 1840s, or Savonarola’s Florence. On rarer occasions, they take over the barnyard, for a while. Among the case studies in this book are the Taiping Rebellion in China (the biggest war in the 19th century, remember) and the Bolshevik and Nazi revolutions. (The author leans toward the view that the Nazis were working from a largely theosophical model of history.) Millennial movements can follow more than one pattern, but the one that interests the author shares the morphology of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

In this view, the millennial moment starts with the appearance of roosters who announce that some marvelous change is about to occur. They gain so large a following that the skeptical owls are drowned out or silenced, or even converted. Then more and more resources are invested in the change occurring; people who see no evidence of this are forced to silence by social pressure. Finally, some event or counter-propaganda makes it obvious that the roosters were wrong and that it is safe to say so.

The author expresses surprise that this pattern repeats again and again, often in the same region, despite the fact that every millennial movement ends in the disappointment of the little boy pointing out that the emperor is wearing no clothes. To that might say that it is not at all clear that disappointment is always absolute. As the books notes in passing, the Eastern Zhou period of Chinese history was characterized by what in effect was an elite millennial movement directed at imperial unification; when unification occurred in 221 BC, the relevant story for the imperial ideologues may have been not so much “The Emperor’s New Clothes” as “The Monkey’s Paw.”

Less speculatively, we may note that the author suggests that a millennial moment happens when “private transcripts,” views that are often common knowledge but rejected by the elite, became “public transcripts” that can be openly discussed. The more oppressive the public regime is, the more vengeful the private transcripts are likely to be. (Fans of Dune may recall Lady Jessica’s horror when she learns the particular version of the messiah archetype common on Arrakis: “They have that story here? This must be a terrible place!”) At least in the Latin West, however, what may sometimes happen is that perfectly acceptable ideas just shift from type to prophecy. Augustine, after all, did not really dispense with prophecy, but rather turned it into a system of types. These are actually quite useful. Even the most hootfully skeptical owl can still call an oppressive emperor “an antichrist” if not “the Antichrist,” for instance, and there are always slacking congregations that can be tarred with the same brush as Revelation’s Church of Laodicea. Such uses keep millennial ideas in circulation, no matter how many times they are misused.

In any case, the author is particularly interested in two aspects of the Emperor’s New Clothes scenario.

The first is the tendency of millennial proponents to bet more resources on a prophecy being true as evidence of its disconfirmation accumulates. The point is made with sad clarity in the study of the Xhosa Cattle-Slayings of the 1850s. A prophetess in southern Africa (millennialism is a notably girly phenomenon the world over) predicted that the English would disappear and the Xhosa ancestors would return if the Xhosa slew all their cattle. Not all did, but enough did to cause distress. As the situation worsened, the failure of the ancestors to return was answered by the prophetic insistence that not enough cattle had been slain. This created a famine that resulted in the collapse of Xhosa society.

The phenomenon of millennial improvidence is not unfamiliar; the Millerites in America in the 1840s were equally willing to bet their livelihoods on the Parousia, even if they not quite so wholesale about mere destruction. The author argues, however, that a similar pattern characterizes millennial tyrannies when it becomes clear that their political ambitions may have limits. Certainly the famous Anabaptist Munster Commune of the 1530s and the Taiping rebellion became most radical and paranoid as their strategic situation deteriorated. (We may also note that it was only in the closing weeks of the Third Reich that Joseph Goebbels felt liberated enough to implement the Leftist economic policy that has always been dear to his heart.) The issue fades into the book’s other principal interest in the evolution of millennial movements: how do societies handle millennial disappointment.

Not all of them do this badly. Tom Holland’s popular history of the origins of Western civilization, The Forge of Christendom, is based largely on Professor Landes’s assessment of the state of millennial enthusiasm around the year 1000. That book concludes that the major political institutions of Christendom arose in large part as preparation for the impending final struggle against Antichrist. The solid institution-building survived the millennial excitement (much of the direct evidence for which, to Professor Landes’s continuing frustration, has been lost or glossed by pestilential owls). [NB: nicely put, but I call them “bats” – RL.] On the other hand, it is also possible for a millennial regime, if it survives, to simply refuse to acknowledge that it is not Heaven on Earth, and to use extreme measures to ensure that all of its subjects not just say so but think so; this is totalitarian option, which we are given to understand is a system that tries to replace all private transcripts with the Party Line. There is also the possibility of mere nihilism, of a regime that, like Denethor, will have naught if it cannot get what it wants. In this the Taiping and the Nazis may not have been of dissimilar mind.

In some ways, the most interesting and problematical part of the book is the case study of Akhenaton (1353 – 1336 BC) and the Amarna Period, which the author interprets as a brief and unsuccessful exercise in “iconic millennialism.” Millennialism is usually demotic; it is the contemplation by those below of the humbling of those above, whether to replace them or to create a regime of equality (of which more later). It is not unknown, however, for those who are already high and mighty to embrace the view that their situation is not just a happy accident, but an ontological necessity. Thus, it is not out of place to characterize the founding of the Han Dynasty as the establishment of a “millennial empire.” Some church historians made an at least analogous argument about the Roman Empire after Constantine. (Augustine agreed that the empire was providential, but he said it was not the City of God; he wrote a book about it.) Heaven on Earth would have it that Akhenaton’s solar monotheism was similarly an attempt to bring the divine order permanently to earth, based on a theology too exalted to acknowledge death.

Now it is notoriously the case that Egyptian elites after Akhenaton’s death did their considerable best to expunge his deeds and name from the historical record. They almost succeeded; it was not until Napoleon’s expedition to Egypt that it became possible for archeology to recover Akhenaton, who had been known previously only in an abbreviated and garbled form. If ever there were a golden age of owls, it would have been during the attempted erasure of Akhenaton. Still, that probably is not enough to make the millennialism model fit here. The millennium is a kind of narrative closure. If the Egyptians ever had a story about history that needed such a thing, it has not come to our attention. Not even the largest flock of reactionary owls could have expunged it.

What has come to our attention are the hints that Akhenaton, or rather the garbled popular recollection of him, may have had some influence on the Greek-language Hermetic literature of the first few centuries AD. After a fashion, Akhenaton may be Hermes Trismegistus.

That is a name to conjure with. As the author points out, there is a direct connection between Hermeticism and the Renaissance, and to the more uppity kinds of monarchical absolutism that followed immediately. (“Sun King”? Versailles?! See, it’s all connected!!!) It also, obviously, affected the would-be Hermetic revolutionaries of the stamp of Giordano Bruno of the 16th and 17th centuries. This book does not seem to mention Dame Francis Yates’s The Rosicrucian Enlightenment, which deals with that period, but it does discuss her work about the origins of the idea of technological progress. Unlike Egypt, the West does have a story that invites millennial closure, and into that story the Hermetic material, it seems to this reviewer, fit like a key in a lock. Heaven on Earth suggests that the greatest and chiefest of millennial movements is modernity itself.

How is modernity different from other millennial movements? For one thing, it promotes a species of demotic millennialism that seeks to dissolve what the author calls the “prime divider” between commons and elites. Modern societies tend to favor equality before the law, universal literacy, respect for manual labor, and personal autonomy. The author traces this insistence back to the casteless law codes of the Torah. That is fair enough. We may also note, though, that authors from Tom Holland to Francis Fukuyama say that what really made civil society possible in the West is that the pope and the emperor started arguing in the 11th century about who had the right to appoint the bishops in southern Germany. They are still at it, and so the space between principle and power is still open. That does not mean it will always be, though.

The author notes that there are two important apocalyptic movements in the early 21st century. One is the Global Jihad; the book’s explanation of why 1979 AD (1400 AH) was an important apocalyptic date is as good an explanation as you are likely to find for why millennial studies should play a larger role in political science. The other is Anthropogenic Global Warming, which seems to serve some of its adherents as consolation for the collapse of eschatological Marxism. Many people in the West are very interested in  one or the other, but whoever is interested in one is almost invariably dismissive of the other. In both contexts, postmodernism and its condescension to objective truth (note the lack of “scare quotes”) may be to blame, but it is particularly inapposite with regard to the Jihad, since the jihadis are not at all reticent about truth claims.

In any case, the millennial structure persists. It’s not just a mistake, and it’s not something that just applies to other people.



The Consequences of Media Failure: Demopaths Setting the Global Agenda

[I have a video-embedded article up at Pajamas Media. Here’s the opening segment:]

The Consequences of Media Failure: Demopaths Setting the Global Agenda

An examination of just how badly CNN failed to accurately cover the flotilla incident — repeating nonsense when better information was available — and the ramifications.
June 8, 2010
– by Richard Landes

The latest explosion of anti-Israel rage, driven by the Muslim world and echoed by both the MSM and the international diplomatic community, raises important questions. How is it that in a world where North Korea and South Korea may go to war, Iran may get nuclear weapons, and jihadis are killing fellow (non-) Muslims by the dozens in mosques and hospitals, Israel’s killing of nine streetfighting jihadis sets the international agenda?

Amidst the many elements contributing to the sight of a world gone mad, I’d like to focus here on the role of the media.

For some time now, critical observers have warned about the “halo effect” that “human rights” NGOs have benefited from even as they were taken over by radical political activists who had strong links to jihadi organizations and individuals. This halo effect works in two directions: it extends to the “allies” of these hijacked NGOs (“peace activists”) and also to the MSM which tends to convey the “testimony” of the NGOs as reliable news. All of this comes to a grotesque climax in the flotilla affair.

Let’s begin with an interview CNN’s Rosemary Church conducted with a “peace activist,” Osama Qashoo.

As a flotilla of boats heads towards Gaza to break the blockade, CNN has anchor Rosemary Church perform an interview with a participant from one of the boats, “Free Gaza” activist Osama Qashoo. The report has so many flaws, it’s hard to list and analyze them all. (For the entire interview, click here.)

Let’s focus on the main flaws.

The Nature of the Flotilla

Read the rest at PJMedia

If it worked with the Danish Cartoons… why not let Facebook know what’s in store?

Danish Cartoon clash of civilizations continues. I’m reading Jytte Klausen, The Cartoons that Shook the World for the conclusion to my book (overdue). It is a work that strikes some as genuinely “even-handed,” but strikes me as (therefore) genuinely superficial and misleading about Islam and its many manifestations in the 21st century. Anyway, if mainstream media like Yale and Comedy Central caved, cybernautic Facebook has, so far, not. As a result, demonstrations in Pakistan that take us right back to London in 2006.

One illustration of the protests in Pakistan against Facebook’s “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day

Some of the signs displayed in demonstration in London, February 3, 2006 to protest publications of Danish Cartoons.

Note the Pakistani signs in English: This is part of a global cognitive war, in which Sharia is extended to dar al Harb in the matter of treatment of the Prophet. Infidels must, as Dhimmis in dar al Islam, respect the sensibilities of the Muslims, and the death they threaten to those who refuse to obey, is precisely what Dhimmis are “protected from” as long as they remain good subjects.

Apparently, according Waqar Hussain of AFP, the vitriolic response prompted, yet more apologies.

Taqiyya, Territorial Expansion, and the Western European Future

On my class list-serv (class of ’71), we’ve had a discussion of the relationship of Muslim demographics to aggressive behavior. I posted these remarks based on two remarkable pieces, one by Raymond Ibrahim on Taqiyya and Islam, and one a video made by a exceptionally courageous Parisian of the take-over of some public streets in Paris every Friday for 2 and a half hours.

As everyone who’s spent some time with the Quran knows, it’s full of contradictions, especially on the subject of the use of violence. “No coercion in matters of religion” (sura 2) vs “Fight against the infidel till they either convert or submit” (suras 8, 9). The Muslim commentators came up with the principle of abrogation, in which the later passages (the suras are not listed chronologically, but the later Medina suras are the more coercive) abrogated the earlier ones.

In a very important article Raymond Ibrahim lays out the implications of this for Islam:

However interpreted, the standard view [among Muslim scholars] on Qur’anic abrogation concerning war and peace verses is that when Muslims are weak and in a minority position, they should preach and behave according to the ethos of the Meccan verses (peace and tolerance); when strong, however, they should go on the offensive on the basis of what is commanded in the Medinan verses (war and conquest). The vicissitudes of Islamic history are a testimony to this dichotomy, best captured by the popular Muslim notion, based on a hadith, that, if possible, jihad should be performed by the hand (force), if not, then by the tongue (through preaching); and, if that is not possible, then with the heart or one’s intentions.[23]

In a study of tolerance in the Protestant Reformation, Andrew Pettegree came to the conclusion that “tolerance was a loser’s creed” (p. 198), that when they began, Protestant movements were in favor of free speech and dissent (protest), but as soon as they were in a position to take power, then they argue that God gave them their strength because they are right, and imposing their belief is what God wants. Thus, the US constitution is the first time in the history of Christianity that tolerance is a winner’s creed.

Now how that happened, and how it can happen in Islam is not something we will figure out by making arguments about moral equivalence (we were just as bad) or moral inversion (we’re worse).

I strongly recommend the Ibrahim article for many reasons, not the least being the problem it sets before us on this issue: while in Christianity there is no hint of the principle that drove so many Christians to seek power to impose their beliefs on others — on the contrary, everything “argues” against it — the Quran has actually embedded in its collection of suras that very argument, formalized by later commentators across the board (all four schools of jurisprudence). If libido dominandi (the lust to dominate) can have that affect on Christians whose texts are against these principles, a fortiori, will it be difficult for Muslims to confront them… especially if we don’t confront them about these matters.

Before 2000, virtually every book on Islam argued that it was overwhelming a fatalistic religion (inshallah — if God wills it), an attitude that permits many today to argue that the “vast majority of Muslims are moderate.” In the 1960s and 70s sociologists, working on the “secularization model” were depicting its imminent demise.

1979 marks the beginning and 2000 marks a key turning point in Muslim attitudes globally (aided by both media and the second intifada/9-11), in which allahu akhbar as a war cry became more and more widespread. This “awakening” has changed many Muslim attitudes towards both themselves and their neighbors.

There is a territorial battle going on that we are losing because we don’t/won’t even recognize it.

I recommend watching the video full screen in order to read the English subtitles.

So what if, by 2020, Rotterdam is a majority Muslim? We already have an answer.

In October of 2004, David Pryce-Jones, whose book on Arab honor-shame culture, The Closed Circle was to be a major player in my new course, “Honor-Shame Cultures, Middle Ages, Middle East,” came to BU to speak. Commentary published a formal draft of the talk in December of that year, “The Islamicization of Europe.” In the question and answer period, Pryce-Jones told the story of turning the tables on a Dutch reporter who was interviewing him.

“You’re from Rotterdam,” he commented, “are you aware that, by 2020, Rotterdam will be a majority Muslim?

“So what?” the reporter shot back.

Well, it’s not even five years later, and we have a pretty good answer, and it’s not very pretty.

Of course, the reporter was just being “politically correct.” After all, Muslim immigrants, according to the prevailing paradigm, were just like any other immigrant, and to suggest otherwise, was to reveal one’s racist prejudices, one’s Islamophobia. Of course there were some of us, even back then, who felt that anyone who wasn’t afraid of Islam was a cretin.

You be the judge of the reporter’s remark:

Eurabia Has A Capital: Rotterdam
Here entire neighborhoods look like the Middle East, women walk around veiled, the mayor is a Muslim, sharia law is applied in the courts and the theaters. An extensive report from the most Islamized city in Europe

by Sandro Magister

rotterdam sharia styles

ROME, May 19, 2009 – One of the most indisputable results of Benedict XVI’s trip to the Holy Land was the improvement in relations with Islam. The three days he spent in Jordan, and then, in Jerusalem, the visit to the Dome of the Mosque, spread an image among the Muslim general public – to an extent never before seen – of a pope as a friend, surrounded by Islamic leaders happy to welcome him and work together with him for the good of the human family.

What planet are they on? What were the European media reporting from the Holy Land.

But just as indisputable is the distance between this image and the harsh reality of the facts. Not only in countries under Muslim regimes, but also where the followers of Mohammed are in the minority, for example in Europe.

In 2002, the scholar Bat Ye’or, a British citizen born in Egypt and a specialist in the history of the Christian and Jewish minorities in Muslim countries – called the “dhimmi” – coined the term “Eurabia” to describe the fate toward which Europe is moving. It is a fate of submission to Islam, of “dhimmitude.”

Oriana Fallaci used the word “Eurabia” in her writings, and gave it worldwide resonance. On August 1, 2005, Benedict XVI received Fallaci in a private audience at Castel Gandolfo. She rejected dialogue with Islam; he was in favor of it, and still is. But they agreed – as Fallaci later said – in identifying the “self-hatred” that Europe demonstrates, its spiritual vacuum, its loss of identity, precisely when the immigrants of Islamic faith are increasing within it.

Holland is an extraordinary test case. It is the country in which individual license is the most extensive – to the point of permitting euthanasia on children – in which the Christian identity is most faded, in which the Moslem presence is growing most boldly.

Here, multiculturalism is the rule. But the exceptions are dramatic: from the killing of the anti-Islamist political leader Pim Fortuyn to the persecution of the Somali dissident Ayaan Hirsi Ali to the murder of the director Theo Van Gogh, condemned to death for his film “Submission,” a denunciation of the crimes of Muslim theocracy. Fortuyn’s successor, Geert Wilders, has lived under 24-hour police protection for six years.

There is one city in Holland where this new reality can be seen with the naked eye, more than anywhere else. Here, entire neighborhoods look as if they have been lifted from the Middle East, here stand the largest mosques in Europe, here parts of sharia law are applied in the courts and theaters, here many of the women go around veiled, here the mayor is a Muslim, the son of an imam.

This city is Rotterdam, Holland’s second largest city by population, and the largest port in Europe by cargo volume.

The following is a report on Rotterdam published in the Italian newspaper “il Foglio” on May 14, 2009, the second in a major seven-part survey on Holland.

The author, Giulio Meotti, also writes for the “Wall Street Journal.” Next September, his book-length survey on Israel will be published.

The photo above is entitled “Muslim women in Rotterdam.” It is from an exhibition in 2008 by the Dutch photographers Ari Versluis and Ellie Uyttenbroek.

In the casbah of Rotterdam

by Giulio Meotti

In Feyenoord, veiled women can be seen everywhere, darting like a flash through the streets of the neighborhood. They avoid any sort of contact, even eye contact, especially with men. Feyenoord is the size of a city, and there are seventy nationalities coexisting there. It is an area that lives on subsidies and residential construction, and it is here that it is most obvious that Holland – with all of its rules against discrimination and all of its moral indignation – is a completely segregated society. Rotterdam is new, having been bombed twice by the Luftwaffe during the second world war. Like Amsterdam, it is below sea level, but unlike the capital it does not enjoy an image of reckless abandon. In Rotterdam, it is the Arab shops selling halal food that dominate the cityscape, not the neon lights of the prostitutes. Everywhere are casbah-cafes, travel agencies offering flights to Rabat and Casablanca, posters expressing solidarity with Hamas, or offering affordable Dutch language lessons.

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

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

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

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

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


Europe’s Woes America’s Warning
by Nidra Poller

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Foreign Policy of Obsequiousness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As for the involvement of Samantha Power, see here.

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

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

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

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


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

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

Véronique Chemla analyse les effets de pogroms médiatiques

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

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

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

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

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

Global Jihad Warming in China: Uighur Terrorists Wanted to Create “Year of Mourning”

On August 5th, The Guardian ran an article about the Jihadist attack in China. Two terrorists attacked Chinese paramilitary police on August 4th, killing sixteen and wounding many more. The attackers were Uighurs, part of the East Turkestan freedom movement. Uighurs are a Turkic Sunni ethnic group in China, central Asia, and scattered diaspora communitoes. Chinese authorities said the group plans to make 2008 into “a year of mourning” for the Chinese, to coincide with the increased publicity that comes with the Olympic games.

There is an interesting subtext to the article as well.