Category Archives: Media

On the Corruption of the Media: Attkisson’s Testimony Helps Understand Mideast Coverage

If Matti Friedman tore off the veil from the AP’s modus operandi in covering the Arab-Israel conflict, then apparently, Sharyl Attkisson has done it for CBS’s modus operandi when it came to the White House over the past two decades. Apparently, Attkisson’s book is an update on Bernie Goldberg’s chronicling of a media militating for Obama with their coverage (A Slobbering Love Affair: The True (And Pathetic) Story of the Torrid Romance Between Barack Obama and the Mainstream Media2009).

It’s still not out, but the following article by Kyle Smith offers some extensive examples of partisan corruption of the mainstream news media that we in Israel know intimately. Below I draw some (of many) parallels, in order to highlight the way the mainstream news media’s Augean Stables of encrusted bad practices has become a transnational phenomenon.

(H/T Amos Ben-Harav)

Ex-CBS reporter’s book reveals how liberal media protects Obama

Sharyl Attkisson is an unreasonable woman. Important people have told her so.

When the longtime CBS reporter asked for details about reinforcements sent to the Benghazi compound during the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack, White House national security spokesman Tommy Vietor replied, “I give up, Sharyl . . . I’ll work with more reasonable folks that follow up, I guess.”

Modal Trigger

Another White House flack, Eric Schultz, didn’t like being pressed for answers about the Fast and Furious scandal in which American agents directed guns into the arms of Mexican drug lords. “Goddammit, Sharyl!” he screamed at her. “The Washington Post is reasonable, the LA Times is reasonable, The New York Times is reasonable. You’re the only one who’s not reasonable!”

It’s natural for any stakeholder (political, corporate, personal) to want to protect itself from revelations that embarrass it. Anybody who can (i.e., has power), threatens with loss of access, hence access journalism. Nobody who can does not favor favorable journalists, and punish with exclusion (at the least) those who tend to reveal unpleasant information. The question is, how far will they go? How does the naturally self-protective agent respond to the failure of access journalism to control the situation?

The role of the journalists in a democracy is to fight against this disadvantage for reporters who need access, to resist the kinds of pressures that powerful and influential people can exercise. The remark by White House deputy press secretary Eric Shultz, enumerates some of the more prominent of the submissive journals: Wapo, LATimes, the Grey Lady. They all play nice (reasonable).

Sharyl, on the other hand, is doing her job as a professional journalist with a code. Her kind of journalist was once the pride of the profession. She has, however, become “unreasonable.” “Reasonable” here means someone who knows that, in order to stay in the game (that of access journalism, not real journalism), they will submit their work to a self-imposed censure.

For those trying to understand the Middle East conflict, if mere partisanship (liberal vs. conservative) in the West could produce such damage to the screens upon which we observe our world, imagine what kind of an impact the implicit, constant threat of sudden death, has on reporters working in Palestinian territories.

Conning the Public: The Clash between Lethal Journalism and Journalistic Ethics

One of the most salient features of lethal journalism is the stark conflict between journalistic ethics and the actions of journalists who purvey lethal narratives as news. Given the (inexplicably?) overriding commitment of some journalists to these narratives no matter how obviously false, they must avoid facing up to their professional commitments to accuracy and fairness. Often this leads to a situation of a “public secret” in which they privately admit things (they’re intimidated, the Palestinians stage stuff all the time) which they publicly deny.

CAMERA has a brief video about just this kind of situation. For reasons that perhaps only he (and Bob Simon) can explain, the public face of the station – “if you make a mistake, own up to it” is the opposite of the way they make their sausages. Is the man a hypocrite? Does he not know what he’s doing? Does he think it doesn’t matter when the subject of the mistake is Israel? Is he, like Charles Enderlin, someone who pushes cognitive dissonance to the point of dissociation?

 

By the way, the comment about Bethlehem surrounded by wall and therefore an open-air prison is only the most egregious of errors in Simon’s report, which is a classic example of lethal journalism disguised as investigative journalism.

New Republic’s Decline: Now I Understand

During the US presidential campaign I dropped my subscription to New Republic. I didn’t do any background research, I just found the drum-beat of pro-Obama, anti-Romney propaganda too tedious to bother with (much less pay for). Now I find out that this is because the new owner and self-anointed editor-in-chief, Chris Hughes, is a Obama campaign loyalist whose understanding of journalism, much less the storied history of The New Republic, leads much to be desired.

And just recently, Hughes unveiled the new masthead for his publication, in which, according to an article at the Washington Beacon, a host of Jewish writers have been dropped:

Daily Beast reporter Eli Lake, longtime TNR columnist James Kirchick, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, and onetime senior editor Lawrence Kaplan. Complicating the picture, former TNR editor Peter Beinart was also dropped from the masthead. Beinart is the publisher of Open Zion, an anti-Zionist Daily Beast blog sponsored by the New America Foundation.

Shades of CNN Middle East Bureau?

Not according to TNR contributing editor, Jonathan Chait, in a scathingly sarcastic post entitled “Hitler Alive and Well, Owning Liberal Magazine” (HT: Yair Rosenberg). Chait views the issue as an absurd tempest in a teapot by an embarrassingly alarmist and unrealiable source. And it may just be the long overdue cleaning up of a list, eliminating the names of writers who no longer contribute. After all, Leon Weiseltier is still there and (even) criticizing Obama and his new global “light footprint.”

But it may also be part of an alignment with a Term2Obama who will may raise the demands of  journalistic loyalty. Whatever the case, under Hughes the decline in independent thought has been pretty noticeable.

That has not, however, kept Hughes from grandiose claims to the opposite:

The journalism in these pages will strive to be free of party ideology or partisan bias, although it will showcase passionate writing and will continue to wrestle with the primary questions about our society.

Alas. It’s not a good sign when the new editor in chief engages in unconscious parody.

Hillary Clinton, rekaB Street Statesperson

I heard Hilary Clinton’s angry remarks about American dead on the radio the other day and couldn’t help but think rekaB Street.

With all due respect, the fact is, we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they would go kill some Americans? What difference — at this point — does it make? It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, Senator.

What an extraordinary statement! (And note the complete reversal disguised as “the point” in the final sentence.)

What an aggressive assertion of a complete lack of interest in understanding what’s going on. At least, she could have given the two plausible scenarios – protest over a movie, or well-planned Jihadi attack on the anniversary of 9-11. Instead, she used a ridiculous alternative – “guys out for a walk.”

It’s as if, faced with objections to the plausibility scenario that she was offering, the Secretary of State lashed out against looking closely. In so doing, of course, she pitched to our sensibilities, invoking the sanctity of life,  of American life, over which she had already shed a tear: so greatly do we mourn, that it’s sacrilegious to inquire to closely why they died.

On the contrary, it matters why it was done, precisely in order “to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again.” Indeed, it matters hugely: it is the hallmark of any investigation that aims at inspiring a learning curve to look precisely into the details, unflinchingly.

Hence, our suspicions, as responsible citizens, should be aroused by anyone who told us that it doesn’t matter. Even if one wants to claim emotional stress, in which, under the rude questioning of Senator Ron Johnson, Hillary used a ploy to win that exchange, we’re left with the residue of that maneuver, namely a humiliatingly foolish statement. (This is not sexist, men also use ploys and say stupid things when on the defensive.) But when you do it in public, and you’re the Secretary of State, you do have to keep your wits about you when you fight back. This “comeback” was, alas, witless.

Which brings me to the point of this post. Apparently the indignation at Clinton’s call to auto-stupefaction and the analytic dissection of the folly behind the remarks  took place largely “on the right,” while, in the mainstream media, Clinton’s remarks were greeted with great admiration. “Good for Hillary,” she showed those guys on Capitol Hill a thing or two.

Here Diane Sawyer and Martha Raddatz team up to present her “riveting” testimony.

It would be harder to find a better illustration of the workings of rekaB Street than to cheer on such a principled – indignant! -refusal to examine the evidence. There must be a Simpsons or Family Guy or South Park routine that illustrates this kind of behavior. And apparently, alas, we need a term to designate the performers of such triumphalist folly.

Chelmnikim? Nasreddinim?

After all, if there weren’t real danger, this would be simply comic.

Le Pont entre l’anti-semitisme classique et l’anti-sionisme du 21e siecle.

J’ai assisté aujourdui au colloque annuel du CRIF à Paris, Combattre la menace antisémite“. Ma session s’intitulait:

DE LA JUDEOPHOBIE A L’ANTISIONISME.

Voici mes remarque.

Le Pont entre l’anti-semitisme classique et l’anti-sionisme du 21e siecle.

Les médiévistes ont tendance à distinguer entre l’anti-judaïsme et l’anti-semitisme.

L’anti-judaïsme, peut se résumer en cette formule:  “j’ai raison car tu as tort; ma religion est supérieure car la tienne est inférieure; je me couvre d’honneur en t’accablant de honte.” C’est le «supersessionisme» du Christianisme et de l’Islam: une théologie à somme nul, de remplacement: “nous sommes le peuple choisi car vous ne l’êtes plus.” Une telle attitude représente précisément le manque de maturité émotionnelle, d’où les lumières étaient censées nous sortir. Donc, pour les chrétiens pré-moderne et l’Islam (hélas de nos jours), “notre honneur dérive du fait que nous privons les juifs de la leur.” Tant que les juifs acceptaient de se soumettre, se plier devant leurs supérieures, on les laissaient vivre en paix, même prospérer. L’anti-judaïsme manifestent des sentiments qui font partie de la condition humaine quotidienne – l’envie, le Schadenfreude, l’insécurité psychologique. La maitrise de ces sentiments, surtout leur expression à l’échelle politique, ont joué un rôle essentiel dans la naissance des démocraties et de l’égalité devant la loi.

L’anti-sémitisme, par contre, représente une forme paranoïaque de cet anti-judaisme. Il rend rend impitoyable le jeu à somme nul de celui-ci. De “dominer ou être dominé,” on passe à “exterminer ou être exterminé.” Pour les Nazis, et hélas pour trop d’islamistes aujourd’hui, l’existence même des juifs représente une menace existentielle: la race allemande, la religion de l’Islam, se sentent en péril mortel par l’existence même des juifs qui doivent être écrasés, supprimés, pour assurer leur propre survie. L’anti-sémitisme est un délire paranoïaque et génocidaire, un développement que toute civilisation doit combattre: comme le montre l’épisode des Nazis, de tels délires dévorent bien plus que les juifs.

Pourquoi nous voyons l’antisémitisme jaillir aujourd’hui, surtout dans un monde moderne qui s’est soi-disant libéré de son anti-judaisme politique en octroyant aux juifs l’égalité?

Apparemment il y a des anti-judaistes qui, privés de leur sentiment de supériorité, et confronté par les succès presque inconcevables des juifs dans ces conditions de liberté et d’égalité, ne supportent pas l’épreuve. Le cas des Musulmans est très net: un peuple dhimmi devenu autonome représente une abomination théologique qui provoque des rages génocidaires, et qu’ils puissent se défendre contre un monde musulman bien plus nombreux, c’est insupportable.

Ce qui nous amène au 21eme siècle en Occident, en Europe, en France. Ici il y a une nette résurgence du pire anti-sémitisme parmi la population musulmane et parmi certains cercles de la sois-disante gauche: En quelque sorte, on pourrait dire qu’ils ont tous les deux le même Antichrist (ou Dajjal): Israel. Par ailleurs, un aspect important – j’ose même dire dominant – de l’élite intellectuel et politique en Occident, manifeste des éléments inquiétants d’un anti-judaïsme qui permet et encourage l’anti-sémitisme jaillissant. Si l’on compare la Judéophobie à une boisson enivrante, on pourrait dire que l’élite européenne, surtout les professionnels de l’information (journalistes, profs, intellos) vident leurs verres de vins pendant qu’ils maintiennent un “bar ouvert,” bien munis d’alcools forts pour les musulmans.

Et le “bar ouvert” où tout ces poisons se dégustent, c’est la presse européenne, qui passe directement dans les systèmes d’information de leurs démocraties, des récits meurtriers contre Israel produits par des djihadistes génocidaires, non pas en tant que les projections de haine et paranoïa qu’ils sont, mais en tant qu’“événements réellement passés,” “actualités.” Ces récits meurtriers font un double travail. D’un cote elle inspire la haine et le désir de vengeance contre Israel parmi les musulmans. Violence qui, quand elle se présente même sous la forme la plus effarante (Merah), se trouve expliquée voire excusée par la chose même qui la provoqua: le récit meurtrier. De l’autre côté, elles nourrissent la Schadenfreude des européens qui, pour des raisons troublantes, se réjouissent de pouvoir dire aux israéliens: « vous juifs, pendant 2 millénaires on vous maltraita, et dès que vous le pouvez vous faites la même chose aux pauvres palestiniens. »

L’Europe est malade de ces récits meurtriers qui alimentent le Djihad et permettent aux européens de croire que tant que les juifs sont la cible de tirs venus de la position musulmane, eux, post-chrétiens, sont à l’abris. Quand ils se sont précipités sur le plus puissant de ces récits meurtriers, celui de Muhammad al Durah, ils ont mis en marche une dynamique avec des implications tragiques pour le continent entier. Se comblant du sentiment de déculpabilisation – cette image efface et remplace celle du ghetto de Warsovie – ils agitaient en même temps le drapeau de Djihad devant leurs populations musulmanes (?). Les grand personnages qui adoptèrent la formule «Israéliens les nouveaux Nazis et Palestiniens les nouveau juifs», ont peut-être pu se draper d’un moralisme sadique, mais en même temps ils renversaient la réalité précisément au moment ou une nouvel force de haine génocidaire envahissait leurs cultures. Mohamed Merah, et ceux qui font de lui un hero, nous montre la culture toxique que cette folie engendra.

Al Durah c’est le pont entre l’anti-semitisme du 20eme siècle et l’anti-sionisme du 21e siècle: une accusation de meurtre rituel globale, le premier à être diffusé par un juif auto-identifié, peut-être le plus meurtrier de toute la longue lignée de ces producteurs d’atrocités. Et, en fin de compte, c’est une histoire ridicule, qui ne tiendrait pas trois minutes d’analyse sérieuse, mais qui répond à tant de désirs que ces trois minutes ne lui ont toujours pas été accordées par la vaste majorité des gens, meme les juifs, surtout les journalistes. C’est cette icône de la haine qui amena l’Occident à adopter pour leur compte le Dajjal-Antichrist des Djihadist, et ainsi à se rallier à un cauchemar apocalyptique génocidaire qui les vise en même temps qu’Israel.

L’appétit des occidentaux pour les récits meurtriers de Djihadistes au sujet d’Israel, c’est comme un homme avec le cholestérol élevé qui ne peut pas s’empêcher de se goinfrer de steaks rouge, à la sauce Schadenfreude. La prognostique pour le malade, bien qu’il se sent bien, n’est pas bonne. Si l’Occident se remet de tout cela, ses historiens futurs analyseront notre temps, émerveillés de la folie des hommes dits “progressifs” au début du troisième millénaire.

Qu’on s’en tire vite et de nos jours.

 

 

Martin Malliet’s Reflections on the Enderlin-Karsenty Case in the Al Durah Affair

In response to the previous post, reader Martin J. Malliet wrote the following about the upcoming trial in Paris. Since this trial, scheduled for hearing represents an important mile-marker in the now-over-twelve-year-long festering problem of al Durah and its profoundly noxious impact on the West, it’s important to become aware of the issues. Here below, Martin’s excellent comments with further reflections by me. Further remarks welcome.

The accusation of ‘bad journalism’ (misrepresenting the facts of the IDF’s responsibility) against France2/Enderlin should have been brought to the court by the IDF themselves. Or otherwise by somebody who could claim to have been unlawfully harmed by the bad journalism, such as an Israeli citizen being harmed by the false depiction of a government that is representing him.

At this point, I think the most valuable person to complain before the courts, including the international court, would be a Muslim who, radicalized into a genocidal Jihadi ideology with the use of the al Durah footage (subject of previous post), could sue France2 and (if the courts rule against Karsenty), the French Courts for the damage done to Muslim culture in France, which is now so far down the Jihadi “slippery slope,” that when Muhammad Merah, to revenge the Palestinian children killed by Israeli soldiers, kills little Jewish school-girls in cold blood, and a significant part of the French Muslim community considers him a hero in the “struggle.”

Now the trial was brought about indrectly by a French citizen (Karsenty): not directly by Karsenty’s complaining about the bad journalism of his French public news agency (France2/Enderlin), but indirectly by France2/Enderlin complaining about a defamatory statement made by Karsenty on the bad journalism of France2/Enderlin.

This indirect strategem was always risky, because it involved a reversal of the burden of proof: the trial wasn’t anymore about the accusation of BAD JOURNALISM (to which the defendent France2/Enderlin would have had to respond by proving that their journalism was not bad), it was about the ACCUSATION of bad journalism by someone who didn’t claim to be harmed by it (to which the defendant Karsenty had to respond by proving that his accusation was legitimate).

From the first court decision one may have the impression that this reversal of the burden of proof was not handled very well by Karsenty and his lawyers:

“The impact of these accusations is reinforced by the use (twice) of the word “fraud” and by the accusation of a “hoax,” which implies, NOT A CULPABLE RECKLESSNESS, BUT THE DELIBERATE INTENT OF MISLEADING OTHERS by broadcasting images that did not reflect reality (“a false report” according to “film experts” who have “confirmed our conclusions.”) Such accusations clearly damage the honor and reputation of their object, even more so when the persons thus described are employed in informing the public, such as in the case of the journalist Charles Enderlin or France 2.”

It would seem to me that if Karsenty had limited his accusation of bad journalism to ‘culpable recklessness’, it would have been strong enough to make his point, and it would not have opened the door for a discussion on his having sufficient proof for the stronger accusation of ‘deliberate intent to mislead’. Or he should at least have argued that ‘culpable recklessness’ on behalf of a professional public news agency is the same as the news agency’s culpable act of misleading itself (or of letting itself be misled by its sources), and thereby in the end of culpably misleading others.

This is more or less what Karsenty wrote in the original article. I am not really in a position to comment on the legal issues. I used to be (thought I was) good at legal issues, but this case has baffled me from the outset. What I would say here in terms of the larger discussion which I think we need to engage in on as large a scale as possible, is that the issues here concern the accusation of “conspiracy theory,” which I think inhibits many from even touching this topic.

If you think arguing it’s staged, is arguing a conspiracy (e.g., CE and Derfner and many), then you believe that the “conspiracy theorists” (e.g., PK and I) think Enderlin did it knowingly, on purpose, and that a wide range of conspirators were necessary to pull off such a coup, to fool “the whole world.” I’d argue that the pathetic aspect of the entire episode is how cheap the fake, how transparent its deliberate deception on the one hand, and how stunningly gullible CE and the rest of the mainstream western news media proved to be. It’s not a conspiracy theory, it’s a pyramid of (misplaced) trust, CE in his cameraman Talal, and everyone else in CE. And if it weren’t so tragically wrong-headed to persist (here’s signs of a conspiracy to keep the lid on, to maintain the “honor” of CE and the French media), it’s actually full of comedy.

Poison in the Middle East Conflict

The New York Times ran the following cartoon, allegedly about the poisoning of Yassir Arafat by Patrick Chappatte (HT/BR).

Some think this is an outrageous cartoon that supports the libel that the Israelis poisoned Arafat. And it may be just that. After all, either Chappatte is an advocate of the destruction of Israel, or he’s in total ignorance of what’s at stake, as in this cartoon (HT/DG)

As if the reunion of Hamas and Fatah would be good for peace…

But, unintentionally or not, it actually makes a very different and critical point. From the outset, the relationship between Israel and her neighbors has been poisoned by what Nidra Poller has called “lethal narratives,” stories accusing (in this case) Israel of intentionally murdering innocent civilians, preferably children. Lethal narratives are key elements in cognitive warfare designed at once to create hatred and a desire for vengeance among “us” (whose children are being murdered), guilt and self-loathing among “them” (whose soldiers are doing the killing), and hostility among bystanders (the Westerners whose judgments play a critical role in determining policy).

The most powerful lethal narrative, the Muhammad al Durah story, was a nuclear bomb of cognitive warfare. It aroused Muslims throughout the world; it filled Israelis with horror and sapped their ability to defend themselves against accusations; and it thrilled various groups, primarily Europeans and Leftists, who saw it as a “get-out-of-holocaust-guilt-free” card, which freed them from any commitment to be fair to Israel.

From the website of International ANSWER.

The move was a masterstroke of cognitive war. Jihadis got the Europeans to play their lethal narrative repeatedly on their TVs during the early intifada, waving the flag of Jihad in front of their immigrant Muslim population. And as a result, Europe, in the 21st century, got a “Muslim Street.”

The mainstream news media’s laundering lethal narratives and presenting them to the public as “news” plays a critical role in Palestinian (and beyond that, Islamist) cognitive warfare. Once they had gone wild over the al Durah poison, the mainstream news media believed any claims that Palestinians made that Israelis had killed children until proven wrong, and doubted any Israeli claims to innocence until proven right. And if that happened (long after the initial lethal narrative had been spread), the press mumbled corrections and moved on to the next lethal narrative.

I personally had a direct experience of this dynamic when I gave a talk at a conference in Budapest in 2007 on millenarianism. I presented al Durah as a key element in the “going viral” of Muslim apocalyptic memes, and referred to the story as a “blood libel.” The organizer of the conference noted:

“I’ve warned against sloppy use of terminology at this conference [I had previously suggested that Marx was a millennialist], and your use of blood libel is a prime example: it’s just simple murder of children, which we know for a fact Israelis are doing every day. (Italics mine)

In her very “statement of fact” the speaker proved the efficacy of the blood libel she denied.

One of the key functions of the mainstream news media is to serve as a dialysis machine, filtering out the poisons that can weaken the civil polities in which they operate. At least in the Arab-Israeli conflict, they have, alas, played the role of injecting the poisons of lethal narratives into the information stream of the West.

We are all the weaker for it. Indeed, we find traces of poison in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship, and the ludicrous story of Israel poisoning Arafat is only the most recent example, and the above cartoon, a pathetic illustration.

Cognitive War and the Failure of the Progressive West in the Aughts

The Problem: Democratic Vulnerabilities in the 21st century

Over the last decade, the primary spokespeople for the progressive causes of human freedom, equality, rights and dignity have lost battle after battle in a cognitive war launched by an astonishingly regressive foe. Global Islamism and Jihad openly champion intolerance of the “Other,” sacred violence, misogyny, homophobia, theocracy, scapegoating and hatred of other religions – the Manichean view of “us” and “them” that has, historically, led repeatedly to mega-death cults. One would have imagined that progressives, dedicated to dissolving that hard zero-sum dichotomy, would have won the battle of ideas rather easily. And yet, the opposite has occurred.

Islamist Jihadi apocalyptic discourse has, in this last decade, played an astonishingly prominent role in defining 21st century narratives, and has established major centers promoting their discourse in both the Muslim and even the Western public sphere. This has permitted a succession of stunningly stupid moves by the West which have not only weakened democratic culture, but strengthened radicalization is the Islamic world. In small and large hostile clashes, Westerners have backed down before Islamist aggression, allowing them to demand a wide range of deeply disadvantageous submissive responses. This has led to a new phenomenon of global Muslim street demonstrating/rioting (French riots of 2005, Cartoon scandal, 2005/6) in response to perceived insult. This reached comic proportions when Muslims the world over rioted and killed in response to the Pope calling Islam a violent religion.

But no one laughed. Instead, Western opinion pressured the Pope to apologize for provoking the violence. The pattern emerged that when faced with angry Muslims demanding “respect,” Western moderates backed down and Western radicals sided with the Islamists. In the end, not only did we look like fools (or dhimmis) to them, but the crowds that rioted were now mobilized within majority Muslim countries, for example, those rioting in Pakistan and Afghanistan at the very suggestion that someone might leave Islam and live. In the West, our passivity in the face of Islamist maximalist claims has hardened over time into a strategic consensus: the best way to deal with Muslim violence is to make friends with (appease) it; sooner attack the critic of Islam for provoking the violence.

At the same time as a broad range of our cognitive elite has adopted these paralyzing measures of appeasement, making it difficult to even perceive the existence of a cognitive war, a more militant branch has actively mobilized on the side of the Jihadi enemy. In particular, “left-wing” radicals have adopted the Palestinian narrative of suffering, in which the Israelis are the Nazis and the Palestinians are the Jews, in which the existence of Israel represents the single greatest obstacle to world peace and justice. This is an only slightly less virulent secular version of the Islamic apocalyptic narrative about the Jews and Israel as the Dajjal (Antichrist). The repeated anti-War and anti-Israel rallies that spread the world over in the aughts (‘00s), beginning with the Durban Conference of 2001, testify to this deeply disturbing alliance, and its effectiveness in increasing belligerence and hatred around the world.

Among the demands that the Islamists make on those who would befriend them, is the acceptance of this particular scapegoating, “lethal narrative,” aimed not only at justifying and inciting the extermination of the Jews, but also the subjection of the kuffar (infidels) the world over. Sadly, this (characteristically) self-destructive anti-Zionism has become almost a shibboleth of identity for the mobilized, progressive left in the 21st century.

Such a scape-goating narrative – Israel is the cause of the evil, and hence must be sacrificed for the well-being of humanity – had not only an international dimension, but a regional one as well. Starting in October of 2000, radical Muslim preachers, using a violent anti-Zionist discourse that got approval from radical “leftists,” activated disenfranchised Muslim youth and young adults all over the West, in a series of increasingly violent attacks, first on Jews (and Muslims), eventually on (post-)Christian Europeans in general (especially women), climaxing in the 2005 Ramadan riots that spread to the whole of France. A new paradigm now animated the European “street,” Israel was the arch-villain, and peace lay just the other side of its destruction.

At the same time, with particular strength in France, radical Muslims and the gangs they nourished, drove Jews from the neighborhoods Muslims and Jews had once shared as North African immigrants with much in common – the first of the territoires perdus de la République. Increasingly, such “zones urbaines sensibles” have becoming no-go zones, and, in places like England, Sweden, and Holland, Sharia zones. To paraphrase a historian of the fall of Rome, “the new, and more powerful, Islamist groups were able to carve out autonomous zones for themselves from the European Union’s living body politic.”

Thus, the very young 21st century stands witness to a new and unprecedented form of aggressive cognitive war in which Islamists seek not to chase the West out of Dar al Islam, but to take over Western democracies to expand Dar al Islam into Dar al Harb. Unlike defensive asymmetrical warfare, this cognitive campaign involves getting Westerners to renounce their fight to defend their own territory, their own states, their own cultures, their own values and the painfully-won democracies built on them.

The Study of Cognitive Warfare: An Infant Field

Part of the problem derives from our lack of awareness, and in some cases aggressive denial, that there even is a cognitive war. While all modern militaries have psy-ops divisions, and study some areas of the cognitive war, few Westerners imagined that their public sphere, the very site out of which democracies have emerged, would become a theater of war, colonized extensively by religious zealots dedicated to destroying it. As a result, not only have few people thought about these problems on the scale they occur, but those who have find themselves stigmatized at the very site where such thinking should take place – academia.

So while for modern armies, psy-ops is an adjunct to military battlefield operations, for the weak side in an asymmetrical war, battlefield operations (terror attacks) are an adjunct to the cognitive war, the principal theater of war. In the 2007 edition of Military Strategy, Thomas Hammes noted that “Strategically, insurgent campaigns have shifted from military campaigns supported by information operations to strategic communications campaigns supported by guerilla and terrorist operations.” Terror aims at polarizing forces both within one’s own society, where it weakens moderates and recruits radicals, and within the target society, where it intimidates those who might fight back, and strengthens those who advocate appeasement.

Viewed from the perspective of the military battlefield, 9-11 was nothing but a painful scratch, a wake up call. But call to what? War in Afghanistan and Iraq? War on Terror? International police action against terrorists? Over a decade later and we don’t really know whom we’re fighting, partly because we’ve been forbidden certain discussions. But from the point of view of cognitive war, 9-11 has been an enormous, almost incalculable and as-yet uncalculated victory for Global Jihadis and their assertion of Sharia, both in Dar al Islam and in Dar al Harb. While they play on a three-dimensional global chessboard, we still play two-dimensional checkers.

Modern democracies are inherently susceptible to cognitive attacks for a variety of good reasons:

  • Publicly elected civilian commanders-in-chiefs subject to public opinion makes targeting decision-making rather than armies an effective strategy.
  • Public sphere in which images from the warfront can have enormous psychological impact on the public (TV, Internet) – targeting empathy.
  • Antipathy to violence and concurrent susceptibility to intimidation.
  • Ideologies prone to peace rhetoric and cooperative foreign relations, rationalizing appeasement as generosity and openness.

All of these are built-in, necessary, even healthy vulnerabilities in any successful civic polity: empathy and openness make it possible to learn and share; and free people choose their leaders. But in the 21st century, both our vulnerabilities and the nature of the attack have mutated into far more aggressive varieties, even as we push further into denial that cognitive wars even exist. Indeed, it seems racist to us to even acknowledge what Islamist Jihadis say and do; as one scholar of apocalyptic Jihad discovered, to describe someone else’s hate speech, is itself hate speech. Thus, whether out of fear or ignorance, most Westerners consider someone who takes these propositions seriously, to be a paranoid alarmist, an Islamophobe, a racist. Even thinking about the problem is forbidden.

21st-century cognitive war studies is thus in its infancy, at a time when it should be rathera sustained and sophisticated research endeavor. Academia, the very place that should have identified the problem early on, and developed effective responses, has not only failed, it has become largely hostile to any kind of thinking on the matter that deviates from the pacific formula: “War is not the answer.” Thus, while some people have, in one way or another, awakened to find themselves in the trenches of that ubiquitous war, and (fewer) have fought back, still fewer have stepped back to assess the larger context, to analyze the public sphere (journalism, academia, NGOs) as the central and highly successful theater of the Islamist cognitive warfare. We have many warriors, some officers, but no generals and no academies.

Nidra Poller on the Auto da fe in Paris: it’s no joke

Nidra Poller has a piece on the Charlie Hebdo bombing in Paris well worth considering. The incident itself was a classic example of the effort to spread Sharia to the West, especially in the form of showing “respect” for the Prophet Muhammad. This began in earnest when, ten years into his millennial project of the “Islamic Republic of Iran,” Khoumeini put out a fatwa condemning Salman Rushie to death for his blasphemous Satanic Verses (which neither Khoumeini nor his advisors had read).

The next major event in this campaign came in 2005-6 when Muslims objected vigorously to the publication of cartoons depicting Muhammad, another attempt to extend to infidels what in principle only applies to (some) Muslim – not depicting the prophet’s face. If there are those in the West who thought that we stood up to our principles of Free Speech and right to criticize during the Cartoon Affair (or, at least that there were no winners), then reconsider. The folks who bombed Charlie Hebdo apparently thought they made it perfectly clear what the price of crossing them would be.

Comments added to bring out some of the implications of Poller’s allusive style.

Auto da fe in Paris: it’s no joke

Paris November 3, 2011

Nidra Poller

The brand new—and deliberately unmarked– offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in the 20th arrondissement of Paris were destroyed by arson hours before a special issue, renamed Charia Hebdo, hit the newsstands on November 2nd. All 75,000 copies were sold out by noon (a rerun went on sale two days later, bringing total sales to 200,000). One or more firebombs aimed precisely at the IT department wiped out the satirical magazine’s nerve center. Charlie Hebdo’s Facebook page had been bombarded with threats, insults, and koranic verses since it pre-released the front page with a caricature of guest editor Mohamed promising 100 lashes to anyone who doesn’t die laughing. As the offices went up in flames, the hacked website was plastered with a photo of Mecca packed with pilgrims, and the declaration, in English, “No god but Allah / Mohamed is the Messenger of Allah.”

This shocking attack on press freedom inspired a rush of near-unanimous solidarity in French society. Unambiguously labeling the act an “attentat,” meaning “terrorist attack,” Interior Minister Claude Guéant promised to find and severely punish the perpetrator(s). Various Muslim authorities condemned “all violence,” reiterated their disapproval of caricatures of Mohamed and other insults to Islam, and vowed to defend their religion as law-abiding citizens, in the courts.

Editorial director Charb posed meekly in front of the smoking ruins of his offices, displaying the front page that provoked those devouring flames.  Interviewed by Rue89 he said that real Muslims don’t burn newspapers. Elsewhere his colleague, Pelloux, opined: “As far as I know, there is no koranic law against laughter.”

Glenn Beck’s Rallies in Israel: Pro-Israel or Pro-Apocalypse?

Glenn Beck presents himself to Israel as a dedicated and whole-hearted friend. In the context of the last decade’s dramatic developments (2000-2010), that puts Beck in a special category. Because lately, very few people are as nice to Israel as he is.

When the second (phase of the) Intifada exploded with particular violence in October 2000, the “left” – progressives who want peace in the world – split into two opposing currents. On the one hand, some Israeli observers in particular, argued that the enemy they wanted to make peace with had no desire for peace, that the Palestinian leadership – Fatah or Hamas – viewed Israeli concessions as a sign of weakness, and responded with violence. On the other hand, other observers blamed Israel for the failure, and called for her to make still more concessions. In a highly vocal and most extreme form, this “peace-camp” assault on Israel involves disturbingly vindictive rhetoric (Israel is the new Nazi).

In Israel where the confrontation with Jihad was deadly daily, the majority turned to the first school (electoral drop for “left”; widespread support for the separation barrier). In the diaspora, defenders of Israel found themselves increasingly beleaguered, silent, embarrassed in the public sphere, while radical prophets of “self-criticism” – most of them identifying “as a Jew” – relentlessly assailed Israel.

One can understand the solitary dilemmas of a liberal Jew in Israel when faced with this inexplicable assault. We know that Israel sets exceptionally high standards for itself, and in failing to meet them, still perform at the highest standards (C- to A- absolute; A+ on a curve). We understand, alas, that our enemy openly embraces those very desires we deny ourselves (massive revenge, genocidal hatreds, religious violence). So why on earth would the progressive left, the peace camp, turn against us, and not against the Palestinians?

Under these circumstances, it’s understandable that Zionists would listen gladly to a voice that said: “We’re with you, guy. We understand what a terrible enemy you have. We identify with you because you uphold the same values that we do: freedom, independence, the sacredness of human life. You are not alone. We recognize your efforts to adhere to civilized values, and admire you for your courage and your successes against all odds… “remain faithful to your ideals, and strong in your struggle.” This expresses a Philo-Judaic Christian Zionism that many fundamentalists enthusiastically voice.

It’s tempting then to respond favorably when someone like Glenn Beck, an emotional, charismatic, articulate man, who openly expresses his love for Israel, comes with his arms open in embrace. Apparently some Israelis open up their arms in response. MKs Danny Danon (Likud) and Nissim Ze’ev (Shas), recently hosted him in the Knesset. Beck is especially music to the ears of those who believe with him that “Jews have a right to live in all parts of the Land of Israel, and that while Arabs have a right to live here, the do not have a right to sovereignty.”

The problem, of course, is: what strain of Philo-Judaic Christian Zionism does Glenn Beck represent? At one end of the spectrum that goes from Dual Covenant to Supersessionism, we have simple-hearted love: “I admire you; I want your friendship; I extend my hand in an act of mutual respect.” Those who feel this way are, I suspect, many; and their feelings are both good and true. They embrace “those who bless you will be blessed” without envy. They engage Jews without wanting to convert them.

But there is another end of this spectrum of Philo-Judaism, one significantly less open and simple. On the contrary, this form of Christian Zionism views the Jews as their Messiah’s donkey, as the vehicle for bringing about a triumphalist Christian apocalypse in which all the evil – including those Jews who refuse to convert to Christianity – will be exterminated by the armies of the Lord. According to this apocalyptic scenario, the Battle of Armageddon and the return of Christ (the Parousia) would not happen until the Jews had reassembled in the land. Hence, their ardent Zionism has a significant ulterior motive linked to both conversion and war. For the latest block-buster rendering of this scenario, see Jerusalem Countdown coming to a theater near you this Fall.

Pallywood, B’tselem and the Augean Stables of the MSNM

CAMERA has spotted a particularly interesting case of Pallywood which illustrates not only the mechanics of staging, and the lust for dirt on Israel on the part of “human rights” organizations like B’tselem, but the near-unbelievable sloppiness of the MSNM (here Ynet, an Israeli newspaper outlet).

March 2, 2011by Yishai Goldflam, Tamar Sternthal UPDATED: B’Tselem Photographer Stages Scene

March 2 Update: Translation of Arabic Proves the Scene is Staged

March 1 — Once upon a time, journalists would report the news. Today, some prefer manufactured news. When journalists collaborate with organizations driven by a one-sided agenda aimed at influencing public opinion, the distinction between a newspaper and a propaganda mouthpiece is dangerously blurred.

Of course, this only goes one way. Let some settlers (or even the IDF) try and give the MSNM some footage putting Palestinians in a bad light and see with what a fine-tooth comb it gets worked over. The basic epistemological principle is: If it’s a Palestinian claim, believe it until proven false; if it’s an Israeli claim, doubt it until proven true. (And if that happens, move quickly on to another topic.)

Take, for example, B’Tselem, which noticed that some lazy journalists prefer to receive pre-packaged video clips over actually doing their jobs. These edited and ready-to-view clips then appear next to bombastic headlines, and the journalist congratulates himself for getting a scoop.

Such was the case early this week (Feb. 27) at the Israeli site Ynet, which appears in English and in Hebrew. Sunday’s Hebrew article by Elior Levi and the corresponding English version (“Video: 11-year-old Palestinian stone-thrower arrested”) are based on a video that B’Tselem apparently supplied to Levi.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What the World Isn’t Being Told about the Israeli-Lebanese Border Incident: My latest at PJM

What the World Isn’t Being Told about the Israeli-Lebanese Border Incident
Don’t look to the MSM to give you the truth about this week’s ambush of IDF reservists.
August 6, 2010 – by Richard Landes Page 1 of 2 Next -> View as Single Page

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Despite the careful “he said … she said” approach of the mainstream news media about the clash along the Lebanese-Israeli border this week, events are quite clear: Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) were deliberately ambushed by Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).

In an outdoor press conference held at a lookout point above the Lebanese border where the incident occurred, Ilan Diksteyn, the deputy commander of the Israeli brigade, explained what happened. The IDF had notified the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) of its intentions and complied with multiple requests to delay a routine job that should have started early in the morning and didn’t get going till midday.

According to Diksteyn, he had personally walked the border with the UNIFIL commander and identified all the trees and shrubs they intended to cut down, all approved of as being located on the Israeli side of the border by the UNIFIL commander. The key tree was some 200 meters from the Blue Line, so there was not the most remote possibility that Israel trespassed on Lebanese territory. The IDF even set out the crane without a man in it, just to demonstrate their intentions beforehand.

But no sooner did they put a man in the unit and lift him over the fence than a sniper shot and killed the commanding officer of the unit who was away from the border and observing from a distance. Despite claiming they fired first in the air, and that Israel initiated the hostilities, an LAF spokesman eventually asserted their right “to defend Lebanon’s sovereignty.”

The Israelis claim this was an ambush by units of the Lebanese Armed Forces. And as such, this was an unprecedented new level of aggression. Even the normally cautious UNIFIL, which the previous day had restricted itself to calling for calm and announcing its intention to investigate, eventually — and exceptionally — sided with Israel’s claim that the tree was on their side of the border. Even the Lebanese admit they carried out an ambush.

Read the rest (with the links)…

UPDATE: Skype interview with me and Roger Simon about the Lebanese border incident.

My latest piece at PJTV: Cotler, Rubenstein and Herzberg on Iran and the NGO giants

Time to Name and Shame: Iran’s Human Rights Violations

Bibliographical notes to the above piece:

Background Material:

Cotler’s Report: The Danger of a Nuclear, Genocidal, Right Violating Iran (PDF)

Executive Summary

Endorsers (PDF)

Elihu D. Richter and Alex Barnea, “Tehran’s Genocidal Incitement against Israel,” Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2009, pp. 45-51.

Op-Ed on the report in Ottowa Citizen.

Cotler Impresses Australian NGOs

The Three Human Rights NGOs Cotler commended for their work:

1) United against a nuclear Iran

2) Stop the Bomb

3) International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran

Global Human-Rights NGO Giants and their Critics

Human Rights Watch on Iran

Amnesty International on Iran

NGO Monitor, the major critic of the Human Rights NGOs tendency to pick on democracies.

NGO Monitor’s Critique of HRW:

NGO Monitor’s Critique of Amnesty International:

Aggressive Lack of Solidarity against Iran

Israel ambassador to Portugal reprimanded for Iran comments JPost 7/14/10

Why is German Public Television Courting Ahmadinejad’s Media? The Weekly Standard

Benjamin Weinthal, “Germany’s chance to get serious on sanctions” JPost

Benjamin Weinthal, “Germany robs sanctions of their power” JPost’

Russian and Chinese Support for Teheran

Attacks from the Left:

Richard Silverstein attacks an anti-Iranian NGO – hint, not on content but smear by association)

Norman Finkelstein’s attack on Cotler. Much projection.

While the [Western] NGOs are away, focusing on their own culture’s violations, groups like Hamas will play…

Hamas’ culture of impunity in violations of the human rights of Gazans

translation here.

Possible Sanctions/Attacks on Iran

AP: Ex-CIA chief: Strike on Iran seems more likely now

Elise Cooper, “Former CIA Director Sets the Record Straight Regarding His Comments on an Iran Attack,” PJMedia

CHARMAINE NORONHA (AP), “Canada imposes tougher sanctions against IranWashington Post, July 26, 2010.

EU tightens sanctions over Iran nuclear programme BBC, July 26, 2010

More extensive bibliography of recent articles at The Israel Project.

Ignoring Taguieff: Al Durah, Judeophobia, and the Success of Islamism in Europe

Pierre-André Taguieff sent me two links to articles that deal with the omerta of the French media about Taguieff’s book, « La nouvelle propagande anti juive ». I have already posted on this issue when Robert Redeker lost his position as book reviewer for a small Luxembourgeois paper for daring to review it favorably. Now two articles, including one in the Nouvel Observateur have taken up the cudgels for Taguieff.

Both point to Taguieff’s work on the Al Durah case as one of the main causes of the silence of the MSNM on his work. I reproduce the two passages on Al Durah below.

Note also an interesting incident in the French Senate during hearings for the new head of France2, in which a Senator put the appointee on the spot about the Al Durah story. This story is covered in still greater detail by the indefatigable Veronique Chemla in which she points out that a) the Senator in question (Plancade) gave the new head of France2 (Pflimlin) Taguieff’s book; and b) that none of the MSNM mentioned Plancade’s intervention. (HT/Eliyahu)

Vladimir Vladimirovitch A Lire

Par ailleurs il décrit et démontre la complicité des médias dans le processus précédent. En s’appuyant noatamment sur l’affaire Al Dourah qui lui permet de décrire par quels processus la classe médiatique, au mépris de toute déontologie, a manifesté sa solidarité avec Charles Enderlin, auteur du reportage contesté dans sa véracité (bien qu’il n’ait pas été présent au moment des faits). Israël ne pouvant être que coupable et les Palestiniens des victimes, il n’était en effet pas possible de revenir sur cette version des faits présentant les soldats israéliens comme des tueurs d’enfants palestiniens sans défense. Pourtant bien des éléments méritent qu’une enquête soit menée sur la validité de ce reportage. Ce qu’ont fait d’ailleurs des journalistes allemands demontant point par point la thèse d’Enderlin.

[Among other things he describes and demonstrates the complicity of the media in the preceding process (i.e., the alliance between the left and the islamists - rl). He emphasizes the al Durah affair to describe the way the "media class" (information professionals - rl), acting in violation of all professional ethics, showed its solidarity with Charles Enderlin, author of the contested report (even though he wasn't present at the time of the events). Since Israel can only be guilty and the Palestinians only victims, it was impossible to revise this version of events in which the Israeli soldiers were killers of defenseless Palestinian children. And yet many aspects of the case indicate that an investigation be carried out on the validity of the report... which German journalists did, dismantling point by point Enderlin's contentions.]

Les médias ne présenteront donc pas ce livre. Parce qu’il les met en cause et parce qu’il navigue à contre courant en démontrant que cette nouvelle propagande antijuive dont ils sont les porteurs constitue une arme de l’islamisme non pas contre Israël simplement, mais contre les démocraties. Ouvrage donc iconoclaste.

[The media will therefore not present this book. Because it questions them, and because it sails against the prevailing winds, dhowing that this new anti-Jewish propaganda of which they are the carriers constitutes an arm of Islamism not only aimed at Israel, but against democracies. Therefore, an iconoclastic work.]

Tarnero’s article is longer, published in a relatively new and iconoclastic publication, Causeur, which has taken on the Al Durah case already. Again, I only cite the segment directly concerned with Al Durah.

Lee Smith on the suicidal tendencies of “the wrong that has become habit and custom”

Lee Smith has a brilliant analysis of the way western intellectuals are drawn to terrorists like a moth to a devouring flame, a subject I recently addressed in somewhat more prosaic terms.

Hollow Men

Why Israel’s enemies will always be the darlings of Western intellectuals

By Lee Smith | Jul 14, 2010 7:00 AM | Print | Email / Share

It’s nothing new for Western intellectuals to lavish attention and admiration on the resistance forces aligned against Israel, whether it’s Hamas or Hezbollah or even organizations like al-Qaida that are less interested in Israel than in killing and maiming Western civilians. Last week, when CNN’s former Middle East editor, Octavia Nasr, tweeted that she respected the late militant cleric Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, the cards were out on the table for all to see. But usually the pro-resistance vibe is more subtle, as when Nasr’s defenders demanded a more nuanced understanding from knee-jerk Americans who were shocked by Nasr’s support for a suicide-bomb-sanctioning man of faith. After all, Fadlallah was a relatively pro-feminist radical Islamist cleric—and if his talk about Israel was genocidal, well, that’s just part of the package when dealing with a complex place like the Middle East.

Media consumers in the United States are by now well aware that Hezbollah and Hamas provide “social services” for their communities. For the writers and television personalities who push such supposed palliatives on their audiences—“Yes, they do chant ‘kill the Jews!’ and they do act on their rhetoric, but they also educate poor kids in clean, well-lit schools (please ignore the slogans painted on the walls)”—respect for the resistance is a polite way of indicating one’s tolerance for murderous anti-Semitism. The issue is whether this attitude is in danger of seeping into the mainstream of the U.S. public. Poll numbers show that U.S. support for Israel is consistently high—in February Gallup found that a near-record 63 percent of Americans were more sympathetic to the Jewish state than to the Palestinians. But ideas can change, and it’s intellectuals who often lead the way. Remember that Israel was a popular cause among the intellectual classes until the 1967 war. It is true that the American people and the bulk of their intellectual class are far apart on the subject of Israel, but all the massive and popular evil of the last century started among a small ideological elite.

CNN fires Octavia Nasr for her pro-Hizbullah Tweet

Last week, at the death of one of Hizbullah’s spiritual mentors, Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, Octavia Nasr, CNN’s special consultant on Arab culture sent out a tweet expressing her sadness.

nasr's tweet

The tweet caused a great stir, especially among those familiar with both Fadlallah career and statements – he approved Palestinian “martyrdom operations” targeting civilians, denied the Holocaust, and may well have masterminded the attack on the US barracks in 1983 – and Nasr’s widespread knowledge of the issues.

This prompted a rapid apology/explanation from Nasr: I didn’t approve of his hatred of the US and Israel and approval of terrorism, but he was good on women. (Wouldn’t that be considered dual loyalty? Sure he’s a hateful guy when it comes to the US and other democracies, but hey, he was okay on the subject of my gender.)

Not surprisingly, perhaps, this is not a slip in terms of Nasr’s sympathies. Her coverage at CNN is shot through with support for Arab anti-Zionism, a support which she translated into (scarcely) impartial language.

Just How Crazy Have Europeans Become? Insights into the Flotilla Madness

Hopefully one of the benefits of the Flotilla Madness, in which a deeply morally compromised state (Turkey, with its record from Armenian genocide to the current Kurdish situation) got to set the international agenda with high moral dudgeon, is the number of people at last willing to look at whether the Emperor’s New Clothes are real or not.

In any epistemological crisis, as the anomalies become both abundant and painful to those who must cling to their paradigm of reality, there emerge almost comic moments, moments when the absurdity of this kind of dance of denial becomes laughable.

This happened recently in Europe – more specifically in Luxembourg. For 15 years, the French philosopher Robert Redeker has published a weekly book review for the Tageblatt, even after he ran afoul of radical Muslims who threatened his and his family’s life and drove him into hiding. And just last week, without any warning, they fired him.

This happened, not because of his “Islamophobic” remarks, but because of his choice of book to review – and to review favorably. The book? The latest study of the European descent into anti-Semitic madness in the 21st century by Pierre-André Taguieff, La nouvelle propagande antijuive. The journal not only rejected the review, but ended any association with Redeker.

But perhaps the most astonishing aspect of the story is the reason the editor gave for rejecting the review:

The readers would not understand that someone might be favorable to Israel.

In an irony that only the sane can appreciate, Taguieff had written specifically about the mentality the editor articulated. As Redeker noted in his review:

The blanket demonization of Israel is the daily bread of the media. That Israel is Evil seems to be self-evident. And yet, these opinions, that mutate into passions, are ideological constructions disseminated by a clever work of propaganda which Taguieff examines exhaustively. They recyle the old – the traditional Anti-Jewish stereotypes – in new forms.

Apparently, in reading those lines, the editor found not a description of her own mentality, but an assertion so absurd she could not allow it to be published. (Alternatively, this was just an excuse not to admit the real source of her anxiety, namely the fear that a favorable review of a book that tore the mask off of the Jihadi-Leftist hatefest might alienate the wrong people.)

As Kofi Anan said in 2002 about Jenin, echoing what Ehad Ha-am said in 1892 about the pogroms: “Is it possible that the whole world is wrong and the Jews/Israelis are right?” Don’t be ridiculous.

Robert Redeker, interdit d’écrire du bien d’un livre

lundi 14 juin 2010, par Emmanuel Lemieux

Le supplément littéraire du quotidien luxembourgeois Tageblatt a refusé la critique favorable du livre de Pierre-André Taguieff, La nouvelle Propagande antijuive (PUF), mettant également un terme à une collaboration de 15 ans avec l’auteur de l’article, l’écrivain Robert Redeker menacé de mort par des islamistes.

Robert Redeker, agrégé de philosophie, écrivain et ancien chroniqueur du supplément littéraire du Tageblatt.

    “J’avais ma page dans le supplément littéraire du Tageblatt depuis 15 ans, je n’ai manqué aucun numéro. C’était l’analyse d’un livre, généralement de philosophie. Pour le numéro de juin, j’avais choisi d’écrire sur le dernier livre de Taguieff. J’ai écrit un texte favorable à ce livre. C’est ce texte qui m’a valu d’être censuré. La directrice de ce supplément m’a écrit : “notre collaboration s’arrête là”.

Sec ! Viré ! confie Robert Redeker. D’après la rédaction en chef, les lecteurs ne comprendraient pas qu’on fût favorable à Israël ! ”

Insights into the Workings of the Guardian: Dennis MacEoin gets the thumbs-down

The Guardian, a paper whose obsession with Israel was illustrated during the Lebanon War of 2006 when they bragged about having 19 correspondents covering various aspects of the conflict (more than any other place or country in the world; apparently few to spare for Congo, or Darfur, or Sri Lanka), has just rejected an article by Denis MacEoin, the editor of the Middle East Quarterly, because they’ve published too much already on the subject.

The refusal would be comic, given that they’ve already published 37 articles on the topic, 76% of which are anti-Israel, and 11% (4) pro-Israel (one a surprise they couldn’t avoid because it was one of their own columnists). Nor is this an isolated incident. When Antony Lerman, one of the “alter-juifs” of England, savaged Robin Shepherd’s A State Beyond the Paleindictment of the Western media’s coverage of the conflict, the Guardian refused the author the right of rebuttal.

But it illustrates one of the fundamental aspects of Western media coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict: when the slanders are out, the MSNM runs the story; when they prove false, the press falls silent. Raphael Israeli already pointed this out in a close study of the Jenin “poisoning” scandal of 1983, one of the early episodes in the history of Pallywood.

MacEoin turned to CIFWatch, one of the most exemplary “shadow sites” of a major MSNM production (Comment is Free), which documents and refutes the systematic channeling of anti-Semitic themes via the socially acceptable avatar of anti-Zionism. Here is MacEoin’s piece via the internet, just the kind of thing that could not happen in the 20th century.

What the Guardian Doesn’t Publish: How many Seas…? by Denis MacEoin
June 14, 2010 in Uncategorized | Tags: Antisemitism, Comment is Free, Guardian, Brian Whitaker, Denis MacEoin, Flotilla, Distortion | by Hawkeye

This is a guest post by Denis MacEoin.

Those of you who take an interest – and, in most cases, that’s going to be a malign interest – in matters relating to Israel, Palestine, and the strangely lovable terrorists of Hamas and Hezbollah – will have been greatly stirred by the troubling episode of the boat that tried to break a blockade imposed by a state acting within its legal rights, but which ended up with nine of its activists dead. What a rush to judgement this has been. Within hours of the event, half the world had decided it knew all the facts and wasn’t going to back down, regardless of any new facts that may come to light. I have some of those for you, but wait a little. What you need first is context, something in short supply in discussions of these matters.

If, like myself, you have a serious interest in Middle East affairs, you can’t be unaware of an accusation that has infected the Arab world and beyond. It’s very simple: take a war (any war will do), a revolution (ditto), a tragedy, and, lo and behold, the Jews are behind it. Here’s a string of such claims from a bog-standard white supremacist website [Warning hate site]. And here’s a representative (and much shortened) statement from Egyptian general Hasan Sweilem:

    ‘The Jews stood behind wars and internal strife, and that caused European rulers to expel them and kill them. For example, the Crusader armies, passing through the Rhine basin on their way east, massacred them and burned their houses as an act of repentance to their God. When the Crusaders entered Jerusalem, they collected the Jews in a synagogue and burned them live. Their kin in Russia suffered a similar fate….They were expelled from France, England, Germany, Hungary, Belgium, Slovakia, Austria, Holland, and finally from Spain, after they underwent the Inquisition trials for their conspiracy to penetrate Christian society like a Trojan horse….The Jewish conspiracy to take over Europe generated civil revolutions, wars, and internal strife….The Cromwell Revolution failed in 1649 in England, following the Jewish conspiracy to drag England into several wars in Europe….Then the French Revolution broke out, which the Jews had planned, based on the first conference of their rabbis and interest-loaners that had been convened by the first Rothschild in 1773 in order to take over all the world resources….That conference adopted twenty-four protocols, including the uprooting of the belief in God from the hearts of the Gentiles, distracting people by distributing among them literature of heresy and impurity, destruction of the family and eradication of all morality….’

The Jews went on, he says, to start the First and Second world wars and to lay the foundations of both communism and Nazism.

The thing about these claims is that everything bad that has ever happened to Jews has been legitimate defence by those whom the Jews have harmed. The Holocaust, for example, was the deserved punishment for a people mired in every sort of treachery and hatred for mankind.

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]