Category Archives: Most Valuable Idiot of the Day

Analysis of a Cognitive War Campaign against the West: Why Iran will get a nuclear bomb

One of the more fruitful ways of understanding the dilemma of dealing with Iran is a cognitive warfare analysis. Cognitive warfare is the main theater of war for “weak” insurgencies in an asymmetric conflict. Unable to win on the kinetic battlefield, insurgencies must pursue means to prevent the stronger side from using their strength to prevent them from gaining strength. In the case of non-democratic insurgencies against superior democratic foes – the majority of such conflicts in the modern period – the “weak” side must deploy both their own deceptions and exploit the vulnerabilities of their foes in order to proceed. When the enemies are democracies who, in principle, consider the use of force a last resort, this means insurgencies must use the pacific (pacifist) tendencies of their foes to paralyze them.

In the case of Iranian nuclear ambitions this involves clearly high stakes: not only is Iran a Shi’i theocracy with an apocalyptic worldview, whose leaders have made clear since the inception of the regime in 1979 (1400 AH), that their resort to war is neither inhibited by modern norms, nor defensive, but also that Iran’s acquisition would trigger a much larger nuclear push on the part of their foes in the Sunni Muslim world. Thus, from any angle, whether from the huge increase in a nuclear Iran’s hegemonic influence among her immediate neighbors, or from the metastasis of nuclear weapons in other, pre-modern polities in so unstable a region, it seems an imperative that the West should prevent Iran from acquiring these weapons. Indeed, one might argue that with this cognitive-war victory (acquiring the nuclear bomb without opposition), Iran could dramatically alter the kinetic battlefield, and with this power to threaten and intimidate, to immeasurably increase their cognitive position of demanding concessions.

Annals of Cognitive War blunders: George Bush, “Islam is a religion of peace.”

 

In the immediate aftermath of 9-11, President Bush appeared with members of the American Muslim community on September 17, 2001, at Islamic Center in DC to declare that Islam is a religion of peace. His comments:

Like the good folks standing with me, the American people were appalled and outraged at last Tuesday’s attacks.  And so were Muslims all across the world.  Both Americans and Muslim friends and citizens, tax-paying citizens, and Muslims in nations were just appalled and could not believe what we saw on our TV screens. These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith.  And it’s important for my fellow Americans to understand that. The English translation is not as eloquent as the original Arabic, but let me quote from the Koran, itself:  ‘In the long run, evil in the extreme will be the end of those who do evil. For that they rejected the signs of Allah and held them up to ridicule.’ The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about.  Islam is peace.  These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.”

Now were we a “reality-based” community with a sophisticated sense of both the narratives and the exegetical principles of the “other,” such a statement would have been met with howls of derision, especially from academics whose knowledge of the history of Islam would make such a characterization as “religion of peace” risible, and who knew alas only too well what shouts of joy 9-11 provoked in Muslim, Arab and even other audiences the world over.

Moreover, more than one person should have been equipped to explain to the President that the man standing by his side, Nihad Awad of CAIR, who may well have supplied the president with the oh-so eloquent Qur’anic quote, heard those words to mean precisely the opposite of what Bush thought: “In the long run [i.e., finally, now], evil in the extreme will be the end of those who do evil [i.e., America]. For that they [Americans] rejected the signs of Allah and held them up to ridicule.”

And rather than slowly learn from this, American scholars and journalists by and large continue to widely mouth the delusional pieties of the president. Despite extensive critiques from Daniel Pipes, in 2012, Samuel Freedman wrote in the NYT:

The other anniversary is of the visit President George W. Bush made to a Washington mosque just six days after the attack, where he spoke eloquently against the harassment of Arabs and Muslims living in the United States and about the need to respect Islam. This act of leadership and statesmanship, however, has all but vanished from the national collective memory. It deserves, instead, to be noted and heeded and esteemed. (NYT, Sept. 7, 2012)

Terrorist chic en France, de l’exposition du Jeu de Paume, à Al Durah, à Mohamed Merah

Terrorist chic en France, de l’exposition du Jeu de Paume, à Al Durah, à Mohamed Merah

Une nouvelle exposition controversée célèbre les meurtriers de masse et élève la propagande de guerre au niveau de grand art.

Richard Landes – 30 juillet 2013

Traduction d’Isabelle Sfez

Pour consulter liens hyperliens, consultez l’article originale.

Cet été le musée national français du Jeu de Paume, en son temps célèbre pour ses accrochages de peinture impressionniste, héberge une étonnante exposition de photographies, Phantom House. Le travail d’une femme bédouine israélienne, Ahlam Shibli, rassemblant une série éclectique de photos qui dépeignent un certain nombre de groupes différents, dont les maisons ne sont pas les leurs, ou qui n’en ont pas – des gens qui “vivent sous oppression”.  Il s’agit de Bédouins “trackers” (pisteurs, traqueurs) qui s’enrôlent dans l’armée israélienne, de “palestiniens” vivant en Galilée et en Jordanie, d’enfants polonais dans des orphelinats, de militants LGBT du Moyen-Orient vivant dans des pays occidentaux, de français de Corrèze pendant l’occupation nazie, et, de loin les plus élaborés des séries de clichés, les familles de “martyrs” qui “résistèrent” à “l’occupation”, debout avec les photos, les affiches et les tombes de leurs proches “disparus”.

L’exposition a suscité une controverse prévisible. Ces prétendus “martyrs”, qui ont “pris le contrôle de leur propre mort”, objets d’une ardente dévotion par leur famille, sont en fait des meurtriers de masse qui se sont tués eux-mêmes dans le but d’assassiner le plus possible d’enfants, de femmes, de civils.

Comme la plupart des récits palestiniens, ces photos ne laissent aucune place à “l’autre”, exceptée celle de l’oppresseur colonial sans visage. Pour une femme juive, mécène du musée, l’expérience fut horrible. En regardant ces photos de “martyrs”, elle a reconnu ceux qui avaient fait exploser des restaurants, des bus, des marchés qui ont été choisis comme cible justement pour la présence d’enfants dans ces lieux.

Les réactions de protestations outrées affluèrent. La réponse du musée fut d’afficher un avis soulignant que cette exposition n’était pas de la propagande, et, à propos de l’artiste, précisant qu’elle n’était “pas une militante, qu’elle ne jugeait pas”.

Evidemment, tout cela est absurde. Si ce n’est pas de la propagande (comme la fameuse pipe qui n’en est pas une), c’est une exposition qui présente avec bienveillance des photos de propagande. L’artiste émet assurément des jugements, en présentant ses cousins bédouins qui servent dans l’armée israélienne, comme pathétiquement vendus à un régime colonial (ils apparaissent étonnement confortables et bien dans leur peau sur les photos), elle émaille son exposition de victimes françaises de l’occupation nazie, commentant la façon dont ils se retournèrent après la Libération et devinrent des oppresseurs coloniaux en Indochine et en Algérie. La parfaite admiration pour la “résistance à l’occupation” des Palestiniens, calquée sur celle de la résistance aux nazis, joue sur un thème commun, grotesque, de propagande palestinienne – que les israéliens sont les nouveaux nazis et les palestiniens les nouveaux juifs.

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

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

Indyk: Noah Pollak, “What does Martin Indyk Believe

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

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

Kerry: Lee Smith, “Requiem for the Peace Process

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snip.

The editors cut my final sentence. Here in bold:

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suicidal intelligentsia’s anyone?

Notice at the Jeu de Paume in Response to the Controversy about “Phantom Homes”

A major controversy roils French “high culture” these days concerning an exhibit at the Jeu de Paume museum (where, in the old days – my youth – the Impressionists used to be housed). Called Phantom Home, the exhibit displays the photography of a Bedouin Israeli woman named Ahlam Shibli, the central part of which is dedicated to photographing the way Palestinian society honors and celebrates the “martyrs” of their “resistance” to the Israeli “occupation.” A tastefully done series – not a hint of the blood these “martyrs” shed when blowing themselves up in public places in Israel, often chosen for the high incidence of children – it has nonetheless stirred controversy among “Pro-Israel” figures who object to its content. In response, the Minister of Culture has asked the Museum to put up a notice explaining that the exhibit’s text was provided by the artist and not the museum.

This is the text of the notice, which appears in several places of the exhibit.

To avoid misunderstandings, the Jeu de Paume wishes to make it clear that the artist Ahlam Shibli’s series Death, a work centered on images, in neither propaganda, nor an apology for terrorism.

As the artist herself explains, “I am not a militant. My work is to show, not to denounce or to judge.”

Death explores the way in which dead or imprisoned Palestinians – “martyrs,” according to the term that Ahlam Shibli reuses – are represented in public and private spaces (posters and graffiti in the streets, inscriptions on tombs, shrines and mementos inside homes, etc.), thereby regaining a presence in their community.

All the photographs in this series are accompanied by captions written by the artist that are inseparable from the images.

It would be harder to find a better illustration of the surrealistic doubletalk that the French have so grown accustomed to, that they don’t even realize how absurd they sound. Okay, ceci n’est pas une pipe, but a drawing of une pipe. This is not propaganda, it’s photographs of war propaganda: virtually every martyr hero appears with his weaponry; the partisan (and deeply misleading) language of “resistance” to “occupation” of “disappeared” or “imprisoned” fathers of families defines the presentation.

Whatever Shibli claims about herself, she’s heavily judgmental – her fellow Bedouins who joined the IDF are selling out their souls to the occupier in order to get a comfortable home, the French who suffered the Nazi occupation turned around and fought to occupy Indochina and Algeria, while her “martyrs” get not one word of disapproval for targeting children.

Far from distancing themselves from the text of Shibli’s exhibition, the curators actually confirmed them.

Alas, poor France, I knew her well.

Leavitt advises on Israeli cogwar against the EU’s ill-advised move against the “occupation”

Stephen Leavitt at the Jewish Press has made some excellent suggestions on how Israel should deal with the latest EU Initiative about stigmatizing anything they deem “occupied territory.” His approach is a model of cognitive war strategy: understand when your foe, overconfident in his strength, has overstepped, and take steps that publicly reveal where the real power lies.

In this case the Europeans actually believe and acted on their auto-stupefying poco model that says beyond the Green Line is “occupied territories,” that the Palestinians are innocent indigenous victims and the Israelis colonial, imperialist racists, and that they are heroes of the (grateful) oppressed by siding with the Palestinians.

PS. the picture JPress provided of Catherine Ashton and the chicken leg is priceless.

How the EU Will Reverse Itself, in Three Easy Steps

Be firm and consistent – they will fold.
EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton marking the V sign for Victory with a chicken leg, standing next to former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad, January 6, 2011.

EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton marking the V sign for Victory with a chicken leg, standing next to former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad, January 6, 2011.
Photo Credit: Issam Rimawi / flash90

Yesterday’s announcement by the European Union, to block funding to any organization that has direct or indirect ties over the Green Line (Jerusalem, Golan, Judea and Samaria), unless they are a leftwing organization, has shocked Israel.

The overt anti-Semitism, the transparent politicization, and the blatant chutzpa took Israel by surprise. Worse, at first it felt as if Israel were trapped in a corner with no options to respond.

But reality is different.

The EU is in bad shape. It has economic problems, social problems, and credibility problems.

With its most recent action, the EU overplayed its hand, not considering the backlash the decision could cause.

Some responses Israel may choose would hurt the EU quite a bit.

THE PEACE PROCESS

In March 2012, following a UN attack on Israel that went too far, Israel announced a boycott of the UN Human Rights Council, declaring it a “superfluous and extravagant body” that Israel would have no connection to anymore.

This caused an earthquake in the UN, and it still threatens to destroy the credibility and legitimacy of the council.

Most importantly, Israel’s declaration has forced the HRC to take clear steps to correct itself.

The first action Israel must take here as well is the most obvious one: the EU craves legitimacy on the international stage. With wildcat strikes hitting Greece, Spain, and Portugal, to name but three ailing EU members, the organization must prove it is relevant and credible.

Israel should expel the EU from the Peace Process.

Israel should declare—something Prime Minister Netanyahu was hinting at in his Tuesday night statement—that the EU and all its member states will no longer be considered honest brokers, and no Israeli official will meet with them on any issue related to the Peace Process. It only takes a simple statement, and it will be enough to cause them to capitulate.

Any member state wishing to be included in the peace process must sign a statement that the territories of east Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights are in dispute and their fate will be determined through direct negotiations. It must also commit to disregarding the EU directive regarding those same territories.

Be firm and consistent – they will fold.

Israel is an important trade partner with Europe, and its third largest trade partner in the region following the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Israel buys from Europe more than it sells. A retaliatory trade war and boycott in response to their expulsion from the Peace Process would hurt the already flailing European economy, it’s the last thing they want, and not a step they would take in response.

DIVIDE AND CONQUOR

Next Israel must immediately pass the Foreign Agents Act, with an additional stipulation.

As the EU’s declaration makes it clear that they will now only be financially supporting NGOs on the far left, Israel must make it clear that any NGOs receiving EU funding are de facto foreign agents. These NGOs fund raising will be curtailed, their access to Israeli government officials would be restricted, and their entry into the Knesset will be forbidden.

Watch the left wing NGOs quietly pressuring the EU to back off their directive.

All it takes is a firm conviction on our part.

REPLACEMENT THERAPY

The third step is financial.

The EU invested close to 1 billion dollars in research grants and investments, some of which could now be lost.

Israel should approach private, patriotic wealthy Jews — Sheldon Adelson, who put his money where his mouth was this past U.S. election, comes to mind — to pick up the slack. In return, those who invest in Israeli research will reap the benefits in royalties, shared patent ownership and so on. They could stand to make a lot of money.

Stand your ground, don’t blink, they’ll blink first.

All this reminds of the joke about the Israeli at British passport control. “Occupation?” “No, just visiting.”

Derfner’s Brand of Kool-Aid: You Gonna Believe me or your Lying Eyes?

Really didn’t want to do this. Have responded thrice in the Spring of 2008 to Dernfer’s rattling his cage about Al Durah – here, here, and here – and I probably should leave him to rattle in peace. But there’s something about his tone which I think is particularly revealing, and that readers should be aware of when they hear it. It’s the sound of a lethal journalist being denied his foundational myth.

And the irony is that, at the end of the article, he concedes major terrain in the argument, even as he maintains his tone of contempt… a little like the naked emperor who, realizing everyone knows he’s naked, continues his charade showing even more disdain for the crowd.

In the following article there is not one substantive argument, only one case where Derfner grapples (unsuccessfully) with the empirical evidence (which I’m beginning to think he hasn’t watched – or watched peremptorily). It’s all about name-calling (when it happens to them, people like Derfner like to use the word “smear,” as in the critics are “Desperately smearing Goldstone“), and circuitous arguments all drawn directly from Charles Enderlin. In some senses, the best parallel to Derfner’s prose is the Vultures, except that Derfner does it in public.

Warning in advance. This is long. I will extract the key issues for an article next week, but each of the elements of Derfner’s article deserve analysis, if only because so many people, especially journalists, share his attitude.

On the al-Dura affair: Israel officially drank the Kool Aid

A look at the right-wing conspiracy-nut thinking that informed this week’s blue-ribbon report on the infamous 2000 killing of a Palestinian boy in Gaza. 

In the 13 years since Muhammad al-Dura was killed in an Israeli-Palestinian shootout in Gaza while cowering behind his father, masses of right-wing Jews have eagerly embraced a conspiracy theory of the 12-year-oid boy’s killing – that it was staged, a hoax perpetrated by Palestinians to blacken Israel’s name. This theory, promoted most avidly by Boston University Prof. Richard Landes and French media analyst Philippe Karsenty, depends on a view of Palestinians being superhumanly clever and fiendish, and a view of reality that comes from the movies.

As I noted at your site: The difference between you and me is you think the journos are too sharp to be fooled by anything unless it’s a major conspiracy, whereas I, looking at the evidence, sadly come to the conclusion that the Palestinians can put out the shoddiest crap (Talal’s pathetic 60 seconds) and our journos (led by the lethal journalists who pass on anything the Palestinians cook up) will gobble it up. Given your long career as one who regularly feeds these Palestinian lethal narratives to your readers as news, it’s probably no surprise that you need to believe in the necessity of conspiracies that can’t exist, in order to keep on trucking.

The mentality here is essentially the same one that drives the 9/11 “truthers,” the anti-Obama “birthers,” those who say the Shin Bet assassinated Rabin, or those who say ultra-rightists assassinated JFK – a fevered imagination activated by political antagonism that knows no bounds. In the right-wing conspiracy theories of the al-Dura shooting, the boundless antagonism goes out to the Palestinians and their supporters.

Aside from comparing the Al Durah scam, where at most a couple of dozen people were necessary to pull it off, with schemes that took massive levels of participants (9-11, Kennedy Assassination), there’s a fascinating reversal embedded in this comment: the boundless antagonism in this conflict comes from the Palestinians, it not only drove the creation of the Al Durah story, but its systematic deployment as an icon of hatred in order to inject a death cult into Palestinian culture. Of course people like me are hostile to this kind of appalling behavior and hostile to people, like you, who, instead of condemning it roundly, constantly run interference for, and encourage it. As often in conspiracy theories, the person accusing the other of secretly evil intentions projects his own behavior and attitudes.

This week, the State of Israel officially joined the movement. Its report on the al-Dura affair adopts the conspiracy theory in full. (To be precise, it adopts the relatively “restrained” conspiracy theory – that the al-Duras were never shot. The other, wholly unrestrained conspiracy theory in circulation holds that the Palestinians killed the boy deliberately to create a martyr.)

Atlantic on rekaB Street

Preparing an article on the Boston Bombers and the Western response, I thought I’d fisk this piece from the Atlantic (HT: Chana-Rivka Poupko). But it turned out so light-weight that I think I’ll just introduce it with an anecdote: In 2004, David Pryce-Jones spoke at BU. He recalled an interview he had with a Dutch reporter from Rotterdam. “Rotterdam,” Pryce-Jones commented, “by 2020 that city may be a majority Muslim.” To which the reporter replied, “So what?”

The Boston Bombers Were Muslim: So?

And they planted bombs to kill people thronging at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

So?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Suicidal Auto-stupefaction from a Belgian Deputy

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

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

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


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

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

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

DIMANCHE 21 AVRIL 2013

Le dernier livre de Charles Enderlin

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 10th, 2013 – 7:13 am 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the rest.

 

Poisoning the Western Public Sphere: The Roths on the Tamimis and the NYT that Romanticizes Them

When I saw the cover story on the NYT Magazine yesterday, my stomach sank. It didn’t take more than a few moments to know what kind of a fluff piece for the Palestinians and hit-job against the Israelis it would be… part of a systematic campaign against Israel that the NYT is engaged in, documented by CAMERA, illustrated only recently by a cruel piece by Joseph Levine (soon to be fisked here), and again today with a piece by Jodi Rudoren predicated on the principle that the Palestinians should and must have a piece of Jerusalem for their own, and therefore anything the Jews do to jeopardize that outcome is hostile to peace.

Fortunately someone – a man I greatly admire for his work on these painful issues – Arnold Roth and his wife Frimet, took up the cudgels and critiqued yet another example of the sickness of self-loathing and the romanticization of hatred that so characterizes the NYT coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Please read it all.

17-Mar-13: A little village in the hills, and the monsters it spawns

If you want to affect how people think about an issue, putting your case onto the cover of the New York Times Magazine must be one of the most effective things you can do. And, given the intense competition, one of the hardest.

So if the editors of the NYT (108 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other news organization; 30 million unique visitors per month to its website; the largest local metropolitan newspaper in the United States – according to Wikipedia) give you the cover of the prestigious Magazine, it’s a massive vote of confidence, a huge privilege, a platform of the most effective kind that (probably) can’t be bought for money.
Friends have pointed us to this week’s NYT Magazine cover story, published today. It’s devoted to a Palestinian Arab village set in the hills a few kilometers north of where we live in Jerusalem. It’s a place the author calls “spirited”, where “on warm summer evenings, life… could feel almost idyllic. Everyone knows everyone.” He says “a pilgrimage”to this magical place “has achieved a measure of cachet among young European activists, the way a stint with the Zapatistas did in Mexico in the 1990s”.
Read the rest.

George Galloway and the Politics of Auto-Stupefaction

Recently George Galloway embarrassed – no, humiliated – the anti-Zionist forces by walking out of an Oxford debate with a (non) Israeli, because (he thought) he was Israeli. The audience, normally spoon-fed their anti-Zionism, booed Galloway’s exit and cheered the young man, Eylon Aslan-Levy.

Now Galloway has a comment on his Facebook page that… says it all (HT/A. Ostrovsky).

Me and the Palestinian cause: A number of questions have recently arisen I need to deal with. Firstly if people want to talk to the Palestinians they need to contact the Palestine Liberation Organisation. This is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and has been for many decades.

A bit out of date, but consistent.

Secondly, an organisation calling itself “BDS” does not own the words or the concept of boycott, divestment or sanctions. They are entitled to their own interpretation of these words but they don’t own or control me. I will make my own interpretation. And it is this – no purchase of Israeli goods or services, no normal contacts with individuals or organisations in Israel who support the existence of the racist Apartheid creed of Zionism. That’s what I mean by boycott. That’s what I do. Israelis who are outside of and against the system of Zionism are comrades of mine – like Prof Ilan Pappe. My opponent at Oxford University did not meet this test. The organiser of the event momentarily lionised by the liberal as well as the conservative establishment needs to know this, especially as he is a medical student. To compare Israeli Zionism to “Vegetarianism” is like a doctor not knowing the difference between a pimple and a tumor. Apartheid Israel is a cancer at the heart of the middle-east.

Because Israel is surrounded by liberal and tolerant democracies who assure everyone (including women and religious minorities) of full rights. Talk about a pimple on a pox-ravaged face.

Only it’s replacement by a bi-national democratic state from the Jordan River to the sea will cure this. That is what I am fighting for.

George Galloway MP

House of Commons

London

And just who in this neighborhood, other than the Zionists you won’t talk to is either committed to, or capable of, establishing and maintaining a democracy? The Syrians? The Egyptians? The hapless Lebanese? The endangered Jordanians? Oh, I know, the “democratic” Gazans.

It’s hard to imagine a more foolish political agenda. But the benefits – free rampaging racism and anti-Semitism in the form of Schadenfreude-indulging lethal narratives – are just too delicious to renounce.

 

Scarfe, Ward, Lethal Frames, and the Unbearable Lightness of Simon Kellner

posted recently about the problem of lethal narratives circulating in our information system, vicious and hate-mongering accusations laundered of their malevolent (and dishonest) origins and presented to the public as “news,” a process I think well designated as DurahJournalism. In that essay, I mentioned both David Ward and Gerald Scarfe as examples of the unthinking adoption of a Islamist narrative frame in which Israel was the global Dajjal (Antichrist). Now Simon Kellner explains why this sewage in the public sphere is not really a problem – indeed the objections from his fellow Jews rather embarrasses him – and, here’s the killer, if only everyone were as indifferent to this kind of stuff as he, the world would be a better place. It would be harder to ask for a more obvious case of moral narcissism.

Rupert Murdoch, Gerald Scarfe, and why – as a Jew – I’m dismayed by the Jewish lobby’s outrage This cartoon was provocative and grotesque, but an assault on my religion? No way

It was Woody Allen, appropriately enough, who best articulated my relationship to the Jewish religion. “I’m not a real Jew,” he said, “I’m Jew-ish”.

Although I was born Jewish, my parents were not so much liberal as permissive when it came to religious observance, and I have never really regarded my faith as part of my identity. I always remember the late writer and journalist John Diamond being interviewed about his Jewishness. “What does being Jewish mean to you?” he was asked. “Well,” he responded, hesitantly, “I suppose it’s about being funny and clever.”

So wait. Simon doesn’t have a religion. He has a vague identity as someone who’s funny and clever, but no knowledge of, or interest in, Judaism. And he - as a Jew - is in a position to tell people what is and isn’t offensive to Judaism (i.e., “his religion”)? This raises an interesting problem. Is Simon serious? Or is this an Onion piece?

Goldberg and the Daniels: Of Sewage Pipes, Lethal Narratives, and DuraJournalism

A recent spat in the blogosphere raises issues worth considering. After Jeffrey Goldberg informed his ample readership that President Obama believed that Israel did not understand its own best interests – a belief that I think it’s safe to say he shares – Lori Lowenthal Marcus quoted Dan Senor tweeting that two American officials had admitted that Obama, via Goldberg, was trying to influence the elections in Israel. In other words, the “Israel” that doesn’t know its own best interests was a reference to Bibi, whom Obama specifically dissed in Goldberg’s account, and reportedly Obama makes these kinds of remarks frequently to those around him.

Senor’s tweet drew response tweets, among others from both Goldberg and Beinart, while Dan Friedman at The Israeli Front Line, posted a far more aggressive comment in introduction to Marcus’ article about Goldberg, chiding Marcus for her too-subdued a depiction of the journalist who reported Obama’s thoughts to the public.

In her Jewish Press piece today Lori Lowenthal Marcus asks a legitimate question: Will Congress Investigate Obama’s Attempt to Derail Bibi? First, the answer is no. But Marcus yaws way off-course when she gives short shrift to Goldberg, describing him as “a centrist liberal Jewish writer.” Indeed that’s his “cover” and an image Goldberg carefully cultivates, but it is no accident that he’s one of the few errand boys Obama uses to get his poison delivered to Israel and the USA Jewish community. The plain truth is Jeffrey Goldberg is a Jewish sewer pipe for Obama. And he’s loving every minute of it because, like T. Friedman, Beinhart and the J Street crowd, he wants to “punish” Israel.  - Dan Friedman

This apparently got up Goldberg’s nose, and he responded in kind:

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.

Hangin’ on rekaB Street: The Stupefaction of the West

I’d like to introduce a new term: rekaB Street. That’s Baker Street spelled backwards, and it represents the opposite of Sherlock Holmes’ approach: rather than notice the anomalies and detect evidence of criminal or shameful activity that people have deliberately tried to conceal, residents of rekaB Street systematically ignore any clues that violate the expectations/demands of their preconceived narrative, sweeping aside the anomalies and highlighting precisely what has been created to mislead. It is, in a sense, a process of auto-stupefaction.

RekaB Street exists in many fields.

In a sense, Thomas Kuhn’s book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, focuses on the problem, in particular, on the resistance to anomalies that contradict the paradigm. He cites a study by Bruner and Postman about how the resistance to anomalies that violate expectations can be so strong that people can literally not see that a deck has some playing cards with red spades and black hearts. The authors note the psychological discomfort felt by people confronting these anomalies (which their minds literally do not want to see).

In my own chosen field of medieval history, I have found precisely this kind of resistance. My early (and now current) work focused on a substantial trail of evidence indicating that for over half a millennium, Latin Christians had been tracking the advent of the year 6000 from the Creation (at which point the millennial kingdom would begin), but that as the date approached, the clergy (our unique source for documentation) dropped the dating system and adopted another that pushed off the apocalyptic date. Among the many events of note that coincided with the advent of these disappeared dates was the coronation of Charlemagne, held on the first day of the year 6000 according to the most widely accepted count, but dated by observers as AD 801.

I argued this “silence,” on something so critical reflected not indifference, but deep anxiety. Like Conan Doyle’s “Silver Blaze,” the main clue was the dog who did not bark. In response, I found that medievalists clung to their view of Charlemagne as someone with his feet firmly planted on the ground, who would never be moved by such silliness. As a result they handled the evidence in ways that resembled the work of clean-up and construction crews rather than that of detectives and archeologists.

Since 2000, the reigning approach for understanding the Middle East conflict between Israel and her neighbors has focused narrowly on the what’s called the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” The resulting (or founding) paradigm for such an approach is what I’ve called either PCP 1 (politically-correct paradigm) or PCP 2 (post-colonial paradigm). In both cases, the framing conceit is the Israeli Goliath and the Palestinian David. And so powerful is the underdogma that governs this view that all evidence to the contrary gets swept aside. So insistent are the demands to support the underdog, that the cost of ignoring empirical reality seem a small price to pay.

What results, is a process of determined, deliberate stupefaction, in which we must inhabit rekaB Street, we must ignore critical evidence, bow down to ghoulish idols, literally render ourselves stupid. We must not talk about honor-shame culture much less adopt a paradigmatic view that privileges such concerns in understanding the Arab/Muslim hatred of an independent Jewish state in Dar al Islam. We should not discuss Islam’s triumphalist obsession with dominating and humiliating non-believers. We cannot discuss anti-Semitism or the Holocaust without equating it with Islamophobia, lest we offend people we might identify as agents of a new blood-dimmed tide. We cannot discuss the repeated evidence that our humanity is being systematically abused to benefit people who literally embody everything that we progressive, democratically-minded people abhor.

And as a result, we are fully misinformed by our media and our academics, who think that “attacking the most powerful” is a sign of courage regardless of who’s right, who prefer to preen about their moral superiority even at the direct cost of empowering those holding their morality in contempt, who attack their critics savagely even as they embrace their enemies; who can’t tell parody from reality because the procrustean beds they impose on the evidence have led them to invert empirical reality.

Thus babies killed by Hamas become the occasion of cries for sympathy for Gazans assaulted by Israel. And terrorists who disguise themselves as journalists become the occasion for accusing Israel of deliberately killing journalists.  An army which undergoes a disastrous defeat, gets handed laurels of victory for their performance. The world’s army with (by far) the best record when it comes to reducing civilian casualties on the other side in urban warfare get’s painted at the world’s most brutal army. And people who target civilians at any cost, including suicide, get painted as heroes of resistance.

The inhabitants of rekaB Street will not break step with the parade of the naked emperor no matter what that reveals about their own stupidity.

Of course were this merely a children’s tale for adults, the tailors merely financial tricksters, the emperor merely vain, and the court merely foolish and frightened of losing face, it might be alright (don’t want to impose too high standards here). But when the tailors are malevolent agents of a ruthless cognitive war of aggression, when the “new clothes” are icons of hatred designed to arouse genocidal fury against the very people witnessing the parade, and when the courtiers are aggressively dishonest, some alarm bells should be going off. We – the Western intelligentsia in particular – are in the running for a Darwin Award.

If we do survive this challenge, there will arise an entire field of scholarly research dedicated to exploring the tendencies of intellectuals to commit civilizational suicide.