Category Archives: Hamas

Hamas’ Priorities: Hatred and Revenge Uber Alles

 The tunnels to Israel have only one purpose: kill Israelis. This give new meaning to bloodlust.

 

Tunnel-vs-stuff5

Desperation or Aspiration: Response to someone from a Facebook Discussion

As so many others, I have been involved in a facebook conversation with people highly critical of Israel’s behavior. In particular, I’ve exchanged a number of comments with someone. Given the problems of responding on facebook (hit the return and it’s over), I’ve decided to answer to a long and thoughtful comment he made here at my blog. I welcome his responses.

I totally agree. Hamas is trying to gain western sympathy through higher body counts. 

If only Israel seemed in any way interested in lifting the blockade that puts Hamas in such a position where they feel they need our sympathy.

You are aware that every time Israel lets in anything that can be turned against her, Hamas will do that, yes? The international community and the NGOs and the UNRWA assured Israel that the tons of cement they allowed in would be used for building structures for the sake of Gazans, and they were instead put in tunnels to Israel whose only function was to kill Israelis by the thousands.

The Dead Baby War: Fisking Max Fisher

The Dead Baby War:

Reflections on Palestinian Thanatography and Western Stupefication

Max Fisher, formerly of the Atlantic Monthly, now the WaPo’s “foreign policy advisor,”  just posted a reflection on the war of images in the current Gaza operation. In it he makes every effort to be “even-handed.” And in the end, comes up empty-handed. A remarkable example of how intelligent people can look carefully at evidence and learn nothing. If I didn’t know better (which I don’t), I might think he was doing some “damage control,” if not for Hamas (in which case, presumably it would be unconscious), then for the paradigm that permits him not to acknowledge Hamas’ character.

The Israeli-Palestinian politics of a bloodied child’s photo

Posted by Max Fisher on November 16, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Left, a journalist for BBC Arabic holds his son’s body. Center, an emergency worker carries an Israeli infant from the site of a rocket strike. Right, Egypt’s prime minister and a Hamas official bend over a young boy’s body. (AP, Reuters, Reuters)

Wars are often defined by their images, and the renewed fighting between Israel and Gaza-based Hamas has already produced three such photographs in as many days. In the first, displayed on the front page of Thursday’s Washington Post, BBC journalist Jihad Misharawi carries the body of his 11-month-old son, killed when a munition landed on his Gaza home. An almost parallel image shows an emergency worker carrying an Israeli infant, bloody but alive, from the scene of a rocket attack that had killed three adults. The third, from Friday, captures Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil, in his visit to a Gazan hospital, resting his hand on the head of a boy killed in an airstrike.

Each tells a similar story: a child’s body, struck by a heartless enemy, held by those who must go on. It’s a narrative that speaks to the pain of a grieving people, to the anger at those responsible, and to a determination for the world to bear witness. But the conversations around these photos, and around the stories that they tell, are themselves a microcosm of the distrust and feelings of victimhood that have long plagued the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Studiously even-handed. One of my favorite memes: “both sides…”

The old arguments of the Middle East are so entrenched that the photos, for all their emotional power, were almost immediately pressed into the service of one side or another.

Actually, there’s a huge difference between the sides. Israel has, over the years, shown enormous reluctance to use the photos of their dead and wounded to appeal for public sympathy; whereas Palestinians have actually created victims in order to parade their suffering in front of the public. Indeed, Palestinian TV revels in pictures of the dead (so much so, that when my daughter wanted to help me with some logging of PLO TV footage, I had to decline lest she be brutalized by the material). They systematically use the media to both arouse sympathy from an “empathic” West, and to arouse hatred and a desire for revenge among Arabs and Muslims. Nothing uglier.

Israel, on the other hand, studiously avoids pictures of the dead, and only a shocking incident like Ramallah can break those taboos. They were so reluctant to exploit these images that, even at the height of the suicide campaign (2002-3) they refused to release pictures of the dead victims. The two cultures could not be more different on this score, and yet, Fisher has no problem finding his symmetry.

To obfuscate this fundamental difference with a pleasing even-handedness symbolizes the literal stupefication of our culture that necessarily accompanies the politically correct paradigm (PCP1), founded on a dogmatic cognitive egocentrism. It forces one not to see critical information. It’s as if we were under orders to not notice everything that a good detective should pick up on, as if we were required to assist the clean-up crews that want to frame the story to their advantage. In such a world, the protagonists of the Mentalist, Lie to Me, Elementary, CSI, House, are not merely unwelcome, they are banished.

The Post-Self-Destructivism of Judith Butler

Benjamin Weinthal and I have an op-ed today in the Wall Street Journal. Here are the links (as well as some of the material that got cut from the original submission (1250 words). Some of the wording may not correspond exactly to that in the published piece, and bold text does not appear in the article.

The Post-Self-Destructivism of Judith Butler

On Sept. 11, a German organization will reward the American scholar and anti-Israel activist.

By RICHARD LANDES AND BENJAMIN WEINTHAL
In 1938, shortly after philosopher Martin Buber, formerly of the University of Frankfurt, came to Israel to teach at Hebrew University, a reporter asked how his Hebrew was. He replied: “Good, but not good enough to be obscure in.”

The joke, apparently, is on the city of Frankfurt, which tomorrow—Sept. 11, incidentally—will hand its prestigious Adorno Prize for excellence in philosophy, music, theater and film to Judith Butler. Ms. Butler, an American philosopher and anti-Israel activist, is a great admirer of Buber and the 1998 recipient of the “Bad Writing Prize” for her impenetrable prose.

Professor Butler’s first-prize sentence appears in “Further Reflections on the Conversations of Our Time,” an article in the scholarly journal Diacritics (1997):

  • The move from a structuralist account in which capital is understood to structure social relations in relatively homologous ways to a view of hegemony in which power relations are subject to repetition, convergence, and rearticulation brought the question of temporality into the thinking of structure, and marked a shift from a form of Althusserian theory that takes structural totalities as theoretical objects to one in which the insights into the contingent possibility of structure inaugurate a renewed conception of hegemony as bound up with the contingent sites and strategies of the rearticulation of power.

Dutton remarked that “it’s possibly the anxiety-inducing obscurity of such writing that has led Professor Warren Hedges of Southern Oregon University to praise Judith Butler as ‘probably one of the ten smartest people on the planet’.”

objections to award: SPME Germany statement; summary article in JPost; extensive criticism and responses to Butler’s defense at SPME Faculty Forum.

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

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

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

The Trouble With Judith Butler—and Her Critics

September 4, 2012, 2:24 pm

By Todd Gitlin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dupes or Demopaths? Homeland Security wants to deport “Son of Hamas”

I’ve seen various items on this and couldn’t believe that it was true (or at least, that it would continue very long). It would be just too stupid and vicious…

The Department of Homeland Security wants to deport Joseph (Masab) Yousef, the “Son of Hamas,” who has so ringingly denounced the cult of death spawned by his father and other Hamas leaders.

But it looks like it’s for real (see his facebook page). Which raises a question for me.

I’m not given to conspiracy theories, but I’m not stupid enough to think that they don’t happen. I’ve read Paul Sperry’s disturbing Inflitration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington, which I find perfectly plausible. And given the paralyzing political correctness of the current administration, which couldn’t recognize a “radical Islamist,” much less denounce him or her, why would Radical Islamists not take advantage of our principled stupidity?

They’re not that stupid.

So I want to know: Who in the Department of Homeland Security put together a set of quotes from Yousef’s book to make him look like a spy for Hamas? Either he’s a complete idiot, or he’s doing Hamas’ work. The odds stack up as follows: either someone, in good faith, completely misread the book (how did he find it without knowing what it’s about?), or someone has infiltrated Homeland Security and is working to kick Yousef out as a message to anyone else who thinks USA is safe haven from Muslim enforcers.

I hate to say it, but they’re probably both plausible. I just think it’s worth knowing which is the case.

United States looking to deport ‘Son of Hamas’ spy
By Avi Issacharoff
U.S. authorities are seeking to deport Mosab Hassan Yousef, the “Green Prince,” who reportedly worked as a Shin Bet security service agent from 1997-2007.

Yousef, who now lives in the United States, had unparalleled access to Hamas, which his father, Sheikh Hassan Yousef, helped found and led in the West Bank. He first described his experiences to Haaretz earlier this year, and has since published a book, “Son of Hamas,” on the subject.

Recently, however, the Department of Homeland Security asked a California court to approve his deportation, on the grounds that he “provided material support to a [Tier 1] terrorist organization” – namely, Hamas.

The request is based on quotes from Yousef’s book, “Son of Hamas” – in which he described how he worked within Hamas to obtain information for the Shin Bet. Taken out of context, the quotes make it seem as if he worked for the group.

A San Diego immigration court is to hear the case on June 30. Yousef said he will appeal if it rules against him.

The deportation request is the Department of Homeland Security’s response to Yousef’s asylum application. Yousef, who converted to Christianity in 2005, wrote on his blog that he was stunned by the move.

“If Homeland Security cannot understand a simple situation like mine, how can they be trusted with bigger issues?” he demanded.

MK Einat Wilf (Labor ), a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, recently began collecting MKs’ signatures on a letter thanking Yousef for his contribution to Israel’s security.


Shades of Reutersgate 2.0
. We need to know who did this job of cropping.

In the meantime, sign the petition.

Hamas Refuses Manipulation Flotilla Aid: My First Report for PJTV

I just produced my first TV news item for PJTV (whose temporary Jerusalem Bureau Chief I’ve just become). They do not permit embeds, so please view the story at their site, leave comments there and constructive criticism here.

In my title to this post I mention an expression from the COGAT (Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories) official who briefed us that fell out of the video report in the editing process. Answering one reporter’s question about how Hamas could ignore these materials sent to the inhabitants (I can’t use the word “citizens”) of Gaza, he replied: “It was never about these goods; it was about the media. It’s not a humanitarian flotilla, it’s a manipulation flotilla.” Dupes and Demopaths anyone?

Omri Ceren of Mere Rhetoric has sent me the following series of posts in which Hamas (and other Palestinian “leaders”) have victimized the Palestinians in order to demonize Israel.

*2006*

Would Palestinian Officials Intentionally Starve Palestinian Civilians Just So They Could Demonize Israel? We Think They Would…

Vulgar Palestinian Propaganda Succeeds with International Media – Again!

Palestinians Reject Israeli Humanitarian Efforts – Easier to Demonize Israel That Way

Palestinians Intentionally Create Humanitarian Crisis, Red Cross and Reuters Parrot Their Claims

2007

Hamas Trying To Turn Gaza Into A Humanitarian Disaster – They’re Stopping Gazans From Getting Medical Aid

Hamas Blocks Israeli Food Shipments, Intentionally Starves Gaza
Civilians To Create A Humanitarian Disaster – Again!

UN And “Gaza Businessmen” Agree: It’s Israel’s Fault That Hamas
Has Intentionally Created A Humanitarian Disaster In the Gaza
Strip By Blocking Food and Medical Shipments

AP: Yup, Humanitarian Crisis Intentionally Caused By Hamas Is
Still Israel’s Fault

Hamas Intentionally Creating Humanitarian Disaster In Gaza – Now
They’re Shutting Down The Few Medical Clinics That Are Still
Working

UN Set To Blame Israel For Intentional, Hamas-Engineered
Humanitarian Crisis In Gaza

IDF Colonel: Hamas Creating Humanitarian Crisis. No Kidding.

Palestinians Going Global With Program To Demonize Israel For
Deliberate, Hamas-Engineered Gaza Humanitarian Crisis (Updated:
WaPo Hops On Board)

Hamas Intentionally Creating Humanitarian Crises In Gaza By
Stealing Fuel From Hospitals For Their “Operations” Against Israel

Palestinians Intentionally Creating Humanitarian Crises In Gaza By
Refusing To Accept Israeli Fuel

2008

Hamas Soldiers Tank Up As Israel Restores Full Fuel To Gaza

Palestinians Shut Down Generator To Create Gaza Humanitarian
Crisis, UN Blames Israel

UN: Gazans Have More Than Enough Food, But Lack Of Fruits And
Vegetables Is A Humanitarian Crisis

UN Statement On Gaza Humanitarian Crisis Somehow Misses “Hamas
Intentionally Causing It” Part

Hamas Confiscates Aid Trucks, Promises To Deliver Them Some Time
Later

Breaking: Two Israelis Murdered By Fatah, IJ Terrorists – /While
Supplying Fuel To Gaza/ (UPDATE: Israeli Towns Shelled For Hours
Before And After Attack)

Hamas Creates Humanitarian Crisis By Stealing Fuel For Terrorism,
Preventing Israeli Gas Shipments, And Cutting Off Gaza Civilians.
/Again/. (Plus: International Press, Human Rights Groups Blame
Israel. /Again/)

New Data Confirms Old Data: Blaming Israel For Gaza’s Medical
Collapse Is A Vicious Lie

Fuel Shipments Renewed After UN, EU Blame Israel For Hamas’s
Intentionally Created Humanitarian Crisis

Palestinian Authority: /Of Course/ Gaza Humanitarian Crisis Is
Manufactured By Hamas (Plus: United Nations Still Trying To Blame
Israel)

Evil Israeli Apartheid State Responds To Weekend Rocket Barrages
By Delivering Humanitarian Aid To Gaza

AFP Lede: “Crippling Israeli Blockade”

Evil Israeli Apartheid Regime Responds To Another Day Of Rockets
By Sending Money Into Gaza

Breathless HuffPo Headline About Gazans Eating Grass Contradicted
By Rest Of Headline, Linked Picture, Reality (Plus: Anti-Semitic
Comments Ensue Anyway)

Hamas Now Doing Everything Humanly Possible To Generate Gaza
Civilian Casualties

2009

Gaza Hospitals Overflowing With Hamas Weapons, Palestinian
Vigilante Murder

Confirmed: Gaza Has More Fuel Than Most Of Eastern Europe As
Russia Shuts Down Gas Pipelines

UN Imposes Collective Punishment On Gaza Population In Response To
Hamas Crimes, Suspends Humanitarian Shipments

Hamas Soldiers Threw “Medicine Grenades” At The IDF

2010

Aww… Glut Of Gaza Products Putting Small-Time Smugglers Out Of
Business

UN Officials Hosting Anti-Israel Tours And Media Events In Gaza.
Obama State Dept Boosts Their Funding [Video]

“Statistically speaking this table is the most dangerous one…: On Arab journalists and Hamas

I recently attended a press conference at Erez Crossing point at the top of Gaza. While the earlier one in Hebrew had quite a few participants, the one in English and Arabic had me, another blogger, a European AFP reporter, and three Arab journalists, one for AP, Al Jazeera English, and Arabic. They were accompanied by a crew of Arab cameramen.

While their formal questions to the spokesman – whose Arabic was considerably more fluent than his English – were largely contentious, their conversation was strangely open and even mordant. At first I suspected ideologues. When I asked my companion about the population of Gaza, he said, “1.5 million,” immediately corrected by one of the Arab journalists to “1.7.”

But after the press conference, and before we could leave, there was an alert and we spent about 20 minutes in a room waiting for the all-clear. Israeli soldiers lounged around, obviously quite used to this. The Arabs gathered around one table, looking a bit out of place. I imagined they were feeling hostile to these “Occupation Army” soldiers with whom they were forced to spend time. I went over to join them.

“Statistically speaking, you might not want to sit here,” said a cameraman from East Jerusalem.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well considerably more Arabs are killed by Hamas rockets than Israelis, so if a rocket does land on this base, the statistical odds are it will hit this table.”

Foolish Cowards: The Flotilla Shows its Colors

In an op-ed which will hopefully appear in a Swedish newspaper and which I will then post here, I wrote about the bizarre behavior of the European progressives participating in this “flotilla of fools” to Gaza.

    The only people this flotilla does assist, are the elected leaders of Gaza, Hamas. Here it gets curious. These European saviors think that they will help these leaders help their people. But Hamas is not a social democratic regime. It is a pre-modern, predatory élite that exploits its people, in this case, theocratic fanatics who promised an end to domestic corruption, and honor in the struggle for Palestine, and gave their people instead, death, destruction, and more misery. Even its kindergartens teach their death cult.

    And more corruption. When Israel recently opened its crossing in the far south, militants targeted it with Qassams on behalf of the tunnel moguls, who were losing money as prices dropped. With the material Hamas garnered through those tunnels – especially cement – they now rebuild their prison and more police stations, as well as a shopping center where Hamas employees get special privileges.

    As for the wretched people who lost their homes in a war Hamas did much to provoke… it’s Israel’s fault. Let the do-gooder Western progressives pressure Israel to open the borders to cement. Hamas has a vested in the blockade: it secures their power. This flotilla comes not to the aid of blockaded Palestinians, but to the aid of those people responsible for the blockade.

Now today this article in Ynet (HT/TB5Y) about an exchange between the Shalit family and the organizers — who all invoke great zeal for human rights the world over — reveals an interesting dimension to their problems identifying reality.

Shalit family’s offer to back Gaza flotilla declined

Kidnapped soldier’s family asks organizers of aid mission to urge Hamas to allow international organizers to visit him. Family’s attorney: I thought they supported human rights
Ahiya Raved
Published: 05.27.10, 13:46 / Israel News

Gilad Shalit’s family offered to support the international flotilla to Gaza if its participants would demand that Hamas permit various organizations to visit the kidnapped Israeli soldier and allow him to receive packages.

Members of the campaign for Shalit’s release said the organizers of the international aid mission to Gaza declined the offer.

Attorney Nick Kaufman, who approached the Free Gaza Movement on behalf of the kidnapped soldier’s family, told Ynet that he offered the flotilla’s organizers the family’s full support provided that “in addition to their demand that Israel lift its blockade they will urge Hamas to allow the soldier to receive letters and food packages from his family and allow international organizations to visit him.”

According to Kaufman, he was referred to the movement’s legal counsel, who rejected the offer.

It would be nice to know the wording of the response. Always valuable to know how people explain themselves publicly.

“I thought this movement supports human rights, as it claims, but according to the reaction it seems that it is only interested in provocation and expressing support for a terror group that doesn’t really care about human rights,” said the attorney.

Now there are two scenarios here. 1) They are afraid to ask for fear of alienating Hamas; 2) they feel Shalit is not a victim, but an aggressor, and therefore not their concern.

The Goldstone Report Part I and II: A Failure of Intelligence, A Miscarriage of Human Rights

I have just published an article in MERIA (Middle East Review of International Affairs) on Goldstone’s Gaza Report in two parts:

The Goldstone Report Part I: A Failure of Intelligence

and

The Goldstone Report Part II: A Miscarriage of Human Rights

From the conclusion:

Intimidation and Advocacy: The Narcissistic Payoff

There is something more sinister here even than various forms of animosity toward Jews, conscious and unconscious, or radical ideologies that have somehow lost their way. If it were only that problem, then reasoned discourse, hard evidence, and some serious self-criticism on the part of the parties involved might help, at least in some cases. One wouldn’t find so much unanimity. There is, however, something more fundamental that underlies the positions taken in the Arab-Israeli conflict, something that explains why, despite so many powerful anomalies (like Hamas using human shields and shutting out aid at the Egyptian border), “progressives” continue to cling to their self-destructive paradigms and adopt positions that so violate the very principles they claim to espouse. That more powerful factor is: “We are afraid and we cannot admit it.”

Journalists in particular, subject to pervasive threats and occasional violence in the Palestinian territories (and elsewhere in the Middle East), cannot possibly admit this to their readers and viewers for fear of losing credibility. Moreover, not inclined toward living in the constant recognition that they have succumbed to the double indignity of bending their knee to jihadi demands, and to hiding that fact from their audiences, they prefer to believe that they say what they do out of advocacy. They can thus feel noble by embracing the cause of the oppressed (who happen to be the same people who threaten them). How much braver it feels to accuse the Israelis of whining about unfair coverage than to admit one cannot report honestly on Hamas’ behavior. With the alchemy of advocacy for the “oppressed” and “wretched of the earth,” they transform this double cowardice into bravery, “speaking truth to Israeli power.”

That intimidation, however, extends beyond the journalistic front lines to the home front as well. Since the Salmon Rushdie affair in 1989, Muslims have realized that they can extend Shari’a through intimidation, that when they call for targeted killings of blasphemers of Islam, the West will back down. The twenty-first century has been a privileged terrain for such spectacles of intimidation and appeasement, among the most spectacular (and enduring) concerned the “Muhammad Cartoons.” Note that the same radical forces in Islam that responded so violently–and so openly about their agenda–to Western indiscretions, also, in the first decade of the twenty-first century, produced a stunningly long list of suicide attacks on civilians of all faiths around the world, beginning with Israel, but then becoming frequent in both the West and Muslim-majority societies.

Much of this intimidation has been internalized in the form of a politically correct narrative whose hegemony depends on the silences it imposes. It denounces any criticism that offends Muslims as gratuitous insult and provocation. The key issue, of course, is where should one draw the line between gratuitous insult and important criticism? If politeness is not saying certain things lest there be violence, civility is being able to say certain things and there won’t be violence. Is contemporary Western discourse too obsessed with being polite with Muslims? Are they too thin-skinned (especially given how violently they can dish out the criticism)? It certainly seems strange then that supporters of human rights and defenders of free speech expend far more effort silencing those who “seem” to insult Islam, than offensive Muslims who call for the death of blasphemers, who carry signs in the streets of European capitals that read: “Slay all those who insult Islam.”

Those who follow this politically-correct line so dominate the public discourse that any dissent takes one on a perilous path to marginalization–those who make even mildly critical remarks about Muslims, Arabs, or Palestinians are rapidly dismissed as proto-fascists. If they persist, they may be accused of incitement, Islamophobia, and even holocaust denial (of the genocide against the Palestinians). What is portrayed as politically correct–whether Hina Jilani’s it would be “cruel not to believe” or Erik Alterman’s it is an “inarguably racist rant” to say that “Arabs are feigning outrage”–trumps trying to determine what actually happened based on the evidence. They think they are being virtuously generous and open-minded; but in the world of cognitive warfare, the outcome is systematic renunciation all the West’s main defenses.

As a result, Americans don’t know how to protect themselves from real enemies like Major Malik Hassan, FBI Arabic translators whose loyalties lie elsewhere, or government advisors who “help” law enforcement and security deal with the Muslim community. Ironically, stigmatizing as a “right-winger” and an “Islamophobe” anyone who points out the “us-them” ideology–wala wa bara (loyalty to fellow Muslims and enmity to infidels), a mentality so prevalent among Muslims and so effectively incited by radicals–will make it harder to counteract that problem. The losers here are moderates on all sides, especially among the Muslims whom jihadists like Hamas and Jama’at-e-Islami are permitted to stigmatize as collaborators with the enemy.

Alas, Goldstone may have won his peaceful sleep at the cost of the Gazans’–and everyone else’s–nightmares, for not only does his report target Israel, it will eventually serve to target every civil polity with a powerful army attacked by this asymmetrical war waged by jihadi forces. Ironically, once these other armies become aware of the heightened standards, they go straight to Israel for advice on how to lower the civilian tolls in their military maneuvers.

The consequences of such self-delusion are massive. The Goldstone Report embodies an astonishing failure of Western culture to collect reliable intelligence, to “see” clearly enough to make sober judgments and take effective decisions. A systematic inversion sets in: al-Dura 2000, symbol of Palestinian blood libels, becomes “Israel’s images of hate”; Jenin 2002, the most exceptional example of military self-sacrifice for the sake of sparing enemy civilians in the history of human warfare, becomes “the Jenin Massacre”; Lebanon and Gaza 2006-2009, the revolting spectacle of religious fanatics victimizing their own people in a war of extermination, become symbols of freedom fighters resisting Israeli apartheid imperialism. The result, as Irwin Cotler points out, is the grotesque double moral inversion of making Israel the only country accused of genocide, even as it is the only contemporary country subject to incitement as the object of genocide.

It may make many in the West feel good to “believe” the Arab Muslim narrative of suffering at the hands of the Israeli oppressor. After all, it allows them to be generously empathic, and to wag the finger at Israel. Yet it also empowers the very forces of intolerance, violence, and reactionary goals they imagine they are opposing. It is neither honorable nor courageous; it is a capitulation that endangers the most hard-earned freedoms. Even as they congratulate themselves on bravely balancing advocacy and “objective” journalism, reporters daily betray the very charge given to them by the citizens they serve–to report accurately.

If someone had told the founders of Hamas, as they penned their genocidal “charter” of Islamic supremacy in 1988, that in 20 years time, infidels in Europe would be carrying their flags and chanting “We are Hamas,” they would have laughed in disbelief. It is not that the jihadists–violent and “non-violent”– are so smart or talented at deception; it is that their Western counterparts are so stupid. Great civilizations do not necessarily die or fall to superior powers; they can self-destruct.

Goldstone’s inexcusably unprofessional report represents a major step on the way to either the suicide of a human rights culture unique in history and a millennium in the making, or a global war that will beggar World War II for casualties. The tragedy is that this fight might be won largely non-violently by showing some courage, honesty, and judgment. Given the cost in lives that would ensue in a war with the vicious forces now empowered daily, is that too much to ask for?

Goldstone vs. Talal abu Rahmah on Hamas’ human shields: Whom to believe

As any serious reader of this blog knows, I don’t have a lot of respect for Talal abu Rahmah, the seeing of whose rushes (see below) for September 30, 2000 inspired the term Pallywood. So what to think when he and another favorite unreliable rogue in my gallery disagree?

The Goldstone Report, at paragraph 481, takes up the subject of whether Hamas deliberately hid among civilians.

¶481. On the basis of the information it gathered, the Mission is unable to form an opinion on the exact nature or the intensity [emphasis added] of their [Hamas’] combat activities in urban residential areas that would have placed the civilian population and civilian objects at risk of attack. While reports reviewed by the Mission credibly indicate that members of Palestinian armed groups were not always dressed in a way that distinguished them from civilians, the Mission found no evidence that Palestinian combatants mingled with the civilian population with the intention of shielding themselves from attack [emphasis added].

Moshe Halbertal in “The Goldstone Illusion,” not an author known for his sarcasm, remarks on Goldstone’s cautious conclusion:

The reader of such a sentence might well wonder what its author means. Did Hamas militants not wear their uniforms because they were inconveniently at the laundry? What other reasons for wearing civilian clothes could they have had, if not for deliberately sheltering themselves among the civilians?

So imagine my surprise when I ran across the following gem from Talal abu Rahmah in a phone interview with a CNN reporter on January 2, 2009:

Hamas, they are under cover, all of them they are civilians now, you don’t see any militants around you, even the cars I don’t know if the car in front of me or in the back of me, if it’s a target or not.

Whom to believe?

Here I think Talal has told us the truth. Why? Partly because he’s showing off. “This is really difficult and scary. I have to do my job, what can I do. Now Hamas…” After presenting himself as a brave journalist who has to do what he must, he jumps on Hamas’ contrasting behavior.

But also, I think he tells us this in part because he thinks the journalist interviewing him is too stupid to notice what a revelation he’s handed her.

And he’s right. Her next question is not: “So Hamas is hiding among civilians and endangering the population? That’s a war crime. How do people feel about that?” Instead it’s the kind of nauseating experiential post-modern journalism that the Gaza war was full of, where the interviewer gives Talal a platform to vaunt his courage, his “in-his-blood” journalism, and the dangers he runs.

Tell us more about how it feels, Talal, send us more pictures, and stay safe. Why without you, we might have to think.

Appendix: Talal’s rushes as presented to the French court (17 of the 21 minutes).

Goldstone’s doubly revealing nightmare from which we have not awoken

In his “debate” on Thursday November 5, at Brandeis, during question and answer, Goldstone got chummy with the audience and told them an anecdote about how he felt going into Gaza:

As far as conditions in Gaza are concerned, I must say that my visit to Gaza turned out very differently from what I had anticipated. Frankly, and I make no, no, no, and I’m not ashamed to say it, I was very nervous about being a Jew going into Gaza on probe by Hamas, especially when the first reaction to my appointment by Hamas was to reject a meeting with me because I was Jew.

And my wife sitting here will remember that three nights before I went, I woke up in the middle of the night after a terrible nightmare, with sweat on my brow, because I had a vivid dream that I’d been kidnapped by, by Hamas, and people in Israel were rejoicing. [laughter] That was the nightmare, based on real fears.

Now Goldstone clearly didn’t tell this anecdote in order to reveal the utter intellectual bankruptcy of both his Report’s methods and and conclusions. But that’s what he did.

One Man, One (Stupid) Vote, One Time: Bronner on Gaza and Democracy in the Arab world

Ethan Bronner, who probably should think twice before going back to Gaza, has an interesting article in the NYT on feelings in Gaza. According to him, the isolation and devastation that Gazans see around them has led them to rethink their support for Hamas. This goes counter to the “conventional wisdom” of most Western observers, who berate Israel both in principle — collective punishment — and in practice — it backfires.

But ironically, many of those who make that argument are also the people who jump on Hamas’ election as proof of democracy. They thereby offer a magnificent example of the way “progressives” treat Palestinians as children who must, at all costs, be protected from the consequences of their actions. Democracy without responsibility. What an excellent formula for the 21st century!

In the interviews, we get some insights into the way Palestinians — here, largely the professional, middle class — thought about the elections.

Opportunities Fade Amid Sense of Isolation in Gaza
By ETHAN BRONNER
Published: October 26, 2009

GAZA — The bank executive sits in a suit and tie behind his broad empty desk with plenty of time to talk. Almost no loans are being issued or corporate plans made. The Texas-trained engineer closed his firm because nothing is being built. The business student who dreamed of attending an American university — filling a computer file with meticulous hopes and plans — has stopped dreaming. He goes from school to a part-time job to home, where he joins his merchant father who sits unemployed.

Ten months after the Israeli military said it invaded this Palestinian coastal strip to stop the daily rocket fire of its Islamist rulers, there are many ways to measure the misery of Gaza.

Bits of rubble are being cleared, but nothing is going up. Several thousand homes remain destroyed. Several dozen families still live in United Nations tents strung amid their ruined houses. A three-year-old embargo on Hamas imposed by Israel and Egypt keeps nearly all factories shut and supplies away. Eighty percent of the population gets some form of assistance.

At least Bonner is honest enough to admit that the embargo is Egyptian as well as Israeli, something many, including Goldstone, do not concede explicitly. This point will be important, and absent, later on.