Category Archives: terrorism

Pallywood: The Damage of Media Malfeasance

Melissa Jane Kronfled of the WJC interviewed me today on Pallywood and its implications. She’s an excellent interviewer, and I stayed largely coherent despite my characteristic roundabout answers.

Alex Safian: NPR’s Terror Problem: When Is A Terrorist A Terrorist?

In reading an important article by Kenneth Lasson, “Betraying Truth: The Abuse of Journalistic Ethics in Middle East Reporting, I came across a reference to an important article by CAMERA’s Alex Safian on NPR’s use of the term terrorist in the early aughts (ie opening years of the 21st century). Since I only found it with imbedded commands, and it is neither up at his page at CAMERA, nor available at National Review Online, I publish it here for reference. 

NPR’s Terror Problem: When Is A Terrorist A Terrorist?

Alex Safian, National Review Online, June 10, 2003,

Suicide bombers strike civilian targets in Saudi Arabia and Morocco, and National Public Radio quite reasonably labels the attacks “terror” and the attackers “terrorists,” but when — at almost the same time — Palestinian suicide bombers launch five attacks against Israelis, NPR reporters, and hosts, as they have in the past, virtually banish the word “terror” from their vocabulary.

Honor-Shame Pathologies and 4th Generation Warfare

One of my colleagues with whom I discuss honor-shame issues is Doyle Quiggle, who in addition to his ability to think about what Daniel Lord Smail calls deep history (governed by honor-shame dynamics), also happens to work on military issues: COIN, Fourth Generation Warfare. He recently sent me the following query, which prompted me a formulation that brings together a number of threads of thought:

What aspects of your research and scholarship would you apply to help us reveal the honor dynamics of Somalia? 

The stubborn and irreducible pathology of conflict in Somalia must be accepted as an existential given. Failure to perceive this pathology and its generative sources condemns the analyst and operator to alienation from the primary psychological, social, economic, and security realities of this region.  That blindness will lead to fatal operational consequences, sooner or later. To operate effectively, let alone establish lasting communal stability in any part of this region, we must first see the pathology of conflict in this region for what it is, accept it, no matter how ugly it might be, and then attack its sources. Once exposed, this pathology is immediately seen to require an integrative “oncological” approach to killing both its tumors and its feeder cells.  However, the decisive operational question today is this: Do we continue to pursue a chemotherapeutic tactic (“paint & kill” drone strikes)? Or do we attempt to administer homeopathic remedies? Is the long-term strategy containment or stability?

A strategy of stability requires an organic, homeopathic approach. Paramount to this approach is co-opting local moral authority.  Local moral authority is used as a kind of homeopathy to kill the cancerous stem cells of Islamic extremism and jihad by use of their own pathogens.

[For further elaboration framing the problem, see below.]

My response:

I’d study the pathologies of honor-shame, i.e. the cases when warrior/stratified, zero-sum, cultures find themselves faced with a more powerful positive-sum culture and after losing repeated zero-sum encounters, instead of adapting, going negative-sum: I’d rather lose more and drag you down in the shit than let you win; I’ll even sacrifice myself/honor/family just to make you miserable.

The classic case of this is the Arab-Israeli conflict where, in response to losing a hard-zero-sum war with Israel, the Arabs were in such denial — recognize Israel? admit defeat? impossible! — that they turned the Arab refugees from their lost war into weapons in a longer war against the Zionist entity. (The original meaning of Nakba/catastrophe was coined by the refugees about what Arab leaders had inflicted on them.)

Own Goal FBI Cogwar: Post from Doyle Quiggle

I’m delighted to publish here the thoughts and arguments of Doyle Quiggle, PhD., whose writing speaks for itself. This is a masterful combination of cogwar and honor-shame analysis that lays out the way in which the FBI unknowingly recruits for ISIS. But then, should not the FBI (just like all the other own-goalers like journalists, philanthropists, politicians, academics) become aware of this? 

FBI Recruiting for ISIS?

Hallal-Haram, Disgust, and Triggering Honor-Shame Emotions

Three months after Omar Mateen massacred fifty patrons of a gay nightclub in Orlando, the FBI have still not revised that part of their counter-terrorism methodology wherein their low-level agents troll the internet looking for potential ISIS recruits.

We know now that Mateen chose a gay nightclub specifically because he wanted to cleanse his sullied Islamic identity from his own experiments with homosexuality. Mateen’s massacre was motivated in large part by self-revulsion. But what and who provoked this lethal self-revulsion in him?  We know that both his wife and his Mullah made him feel violently disgusted by his prior bodily commingling with Kuffir. We know that his coreligionists — inspired by and in contact with ISIS — encouraged him to cleanse himself of the haram contaminants of homosexuality by shedding the blood of gay Kuffir.

Now, we are also beginning to understand exactly what role the FBI played in exacerbating Mateen’s sense of shame about having allowed his hallal Islamic identity to be sullied with the body fluids of gay Kuffir. We know that the FBI troll the internet for ISIS sympathizers. Working under tremendous pressure from higher echelons in the Justice Department to zipcuff homeland terrorists, lower level FBI aggressively seek out contact with Muslims in social media who fit the profile of a potential extremist, which is basically any Muslim male under the age of 40.

These FBI agents then engage their target as if they themselves are ISIS recruiters. They deliberately push psychological buttons that pretty much all Muslims possess by virtue of being Muslims, like the fear of becoming contaminated in their Islamic identity by too-close contact with the haram realm of Kuffir. In some operations, the FBI have even helped these targets acquire weapons and explosive material. Harkening back to the era of Al Capone, the FBI call these operations “stings.” Civil rights lawyers call them “entrapment.” No matter what you call the FBI operation that involved Mateen, it did NOT prevent fifty US citizens from being murdered in cold blood by an American-born Muslim.  I call that a major FBI goatope, a colossal failure to serve and protect US citizens. 

When the FBI troll social media looking for extremist recruits, they are playing a potentially deadly game, especially when they do not fully understand how Muslims have been primed by the symbolism of their religion to respond to honor, shame, and disgust triggers. Seeking out the extremist tendencies of their target, the FBI deliberately push the shame and disgust buttons of their Muslim targets. Then they evaluate the target’s response to this “extremist” language. What the FBI do not understand is that ALL Muslims adhere to varying degrees to an identity forming narrative that tells adherents what it is “safe” to eat, to wear, to do, and which thoughts are safe to think and which identities are safe to develop. This identity-forming narrative his hallal/haram.

On Abuse, Donkeys, Mass Murder, and Terrorism

In a recent article (HT: CRP), Rebecca Traister argued that rather than focus on Islam or Jihad

are truly looking to stem terrorism and mass violence of the sort that happened in Nice, they might do better to look to a different kind of litmus test: domestic violence and grievances against women.

The basic argument runs: all these mass murderers, Muslims and not, share a common pattern of abusing women, and in that matrix one will find the motivations for their deeds, and possibly the solutions for stopping them. The take-home message:

But that doesn’t make any religion — whether it’s Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel’s Islam or Robert Lewis Dear’s evangelical Christianity — the defining factor in mass shootings. Perhaps these disturbed men — and 98 percent of mass killers are men — are drawn to the patriarchal traditions upheld by some religions to make sense of or justify their anger and resentment toward women. But we might do better to examine the patterns of violence toward women themselves.

On one level, this argument is a transparent (indeed signaled at the beginning as an) attempt to take the attention away from Islam and hence foil Islamophobic rantings of right-wingers like Gingrich. On another, it’s a retooling of a familiar politically correct “feminist” argument that insists that honor-killings are merely part of a continuum with other domestic violence in which we Westerners, “we too,” are ‘just as” guilty as the cultures (largely Muslim) that practice honor-killings. Not surprisingly, some scholars think this is apologetics, and see a particular, indeed unique pattern of cultural depravity at work. How appallingly judgmental of them.

Rather than dismiss these remarks, however, I’d like to turn them from the piecemeal of individuals and statistics, and look at cultural issues. Let’s grant, for the moment, Traister’s argument that men who abuse women are more likely to a) be steeped in a testosteronic, alpha male mindset, b) find ISIS an attractive option because of its savage patriarchal attitudes, and c) in some (hopefully rare cases) engage in more rampant violence like mass murder.

Let’s then add to the mix, two further issues:

  • the fact that while women are a special object of abuse and violence, both for reasons of sexuality and jealousy, women are the object of male abuse for the same reason that many others are: they’re physically weaker. Thus, in this discussion, let’s widen the range of abused from women to weaker people, including children and animals.
  • the high correlation between people who abuse and people who have been abused, if you will, the intergenerational cycle of domestic violence. If this is true, then despite the fact that all cultures have people caught in this cycle, the nature of the culture – whether it approves or discourages this behavior – plays a significant role in both the frequency of the phenomenon, and its overall influence on life within that given culture.

It was with these thoughts about Traister’s article that I saw the following video of two Israeli policemen confiscating the terribly abused, pregnant donkey of an 11-year old Palestinian boy.

Reversing Humiliation: Jihadis and the West

I just delivered this paper to a conference organized by Springs of Hope at Mishkenot Sha’ananim, March 6, 2015.

Reversing Humiliation:

How Jihadis Interpret the Way Westerners Treat the Victims of Jihad

I’d like to engage you all in an exercise in empathy. Mind you empathy does not mean sympathy. It means putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and thinking the way they do. If, as in this case, the people with who we empathize are thoroughly repulsive, learning to think like them hardly means sympathizing with them. Today the subject of our empathy will be jihadis, and the topic we want to understand about how they think is “how do they respond to the way that we Western infidels, treat their victims.

In order to do so we have to look at the role of humiliation in the mindset of the Jihadi. The following discussion takes its cues from Farhad Khosrokhavar’s Inside Jihadism: Understanding Jihadi Movements Worldwide (2015). According to him, humiliation plays a key role and that on three registers:

There is the humiliation of the Muslim condition of inferiority to the West. Here are the remarks of the Saudi ideologue Youssef Uyayri:

Muslims are at war today. What distinguishes our time from other times is the humiliation and the contempt suffered by the Umma, which was unheard of in the past. At the same time, Muslims are in a state of lethargy and anemia (wahn), instead of mobilizing and fighting against this humiliation. There is a Saying of the Prophet attributing anemia to the love of this world and the aversion of death… Nowadays this is the deadly illness of which the Muslim world suffers.”

ISIS, Palestinian Terrorism, and Global Jihad: Fisking Naomi Chazan

Naomi Chazan, former head of the NIF fund, has a piece in direct contradiction to an article that Tablet published the following day in which I noted:

People who insist that Hamas and ISIS have nothing to do with each other give global jihad an enormous boon: They disguise Hamas by presenting it as a movement for national liberation even as it fans the flames of global jihad. In so doing, many Westerners think they help the Palestinian cause, when in fact they empower a leadership that willingly sacrifices ordinary Palestinians to advance its cause, and at the same time, empower the global jihadis by running their Palestinian propaganda as news, and reinforcing a collective sense of victimization.

Instead of recoiling from the horror, the more demented—but sincere—Western “progressives” shout “We are Hamas.” And those Israelis who rush to assure the global community that people who argue, as I have above, are just trying to hide their own crimes against the Palestinians, effectively blind those who listen to their counsel to a shared foe of all decent people—Muslim, Jew, Christian, and secular, alike.

Since she takes precisely the position I was criticizing (had I known, I would have linked it at “those Israelis who rush,” and since her thinking illustrates nicely the cognitive disarray that cripples both Israeli and more broadly Western intelligentsia, I think it worth a fisking. I’ll pay special attention to identifying the political agenda that drives her insistence that the Palestinians have nothing to do with ISIS.

Unfortunately, the piece is a collection of assertions, repeated far more often than explained or supported. So at certain key points I’ll both develop her own argument and rebut it. Sigh.

Terror, terrorism and terrorists

NOVEMBER 23, 2015, 12:19 PM
BLOGGER Naomi Chazan
Professor Naomi Chazan, former Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, is Dean of the School of Government and Society at the Academic College of Tel-Aviv-Yaffo


A Palestinian youth raises a knife during clashes with Israeli security forces in the West Bank city of Tulkarem, October 18, 2015. (AFP/JAAFAR ASHTIYEH)

Terrorism is the most abhorrent of political tools: it is a purposeful act of violence directed primarily against innocent civilians in order to create intense fear and sow widespread havoc to promote particular political goals. The use of terrorism is vile: it is merciless, indiscriminate, cruel, and beyond inhumane. Any act of terrorism — whether in Paris or Jerusalem, in Bamako or in New York, in Damascus or in Bangkok — is unconscionable.

So far so good. She’s already less compliant with Jihadi demands that AFP, which published a list of terror attacks from 9-11 to the ones in France this month, which excluded attacks of Israelis.

The broad condemnation of the latest unspeakable wave of terrorism is more than justified; the frequent conflation of these actions with their motives — which confuses cause and effect — is not.

Huh?

Israeli officials, often backed by the media, have contributed to this discombobulation.

Here she no doubt means the few Israeli and other pro-Israel media outlets who operate in something of an echo chamber. The mainstream media firmly rejects the position she is about to describe.

La Terreur: Couteau à la gorge dans la Guerre Cognitive

J’ai recemment fait une presentation sur la guerre cognitive au MPCT (Mouvement pour la paix et contre le terrorisme) à Paris. Voici le PPP. Textes supplementaires dans un autre posting.

Le francais n’est pas corrigé. Je reçois volontiers des leçons à apprendre. rlandes-at-bu-dot-edu

La Terreur: Couteau à la gorge dans la Guerre Cognitive

Définitions/Terminologie:
La Guerre Cognitive
• Guerre asymétrique: Guerre entre deux entités de combat, l’une étatique et l’autre non-étatique, sur un champ de bataille “kinétique” (militaire). Ce type de guerre oppose des résistants non-étatiques faibles ou supposés tels (des Macchabées aux Vietcongs) aux militaires d’une armée régulière d’état.
• Guerre cognitive (GC): 

L’art de manipuler l’ennemi, considéré plus puissant en termes militaires, afin qu’il n’utilise pas ses forces armées ou, au moins, qu’il s’en abstienne. C’est le terrain de combat préféré des “faibles” dans la guerre asymétrique.

• Espace public: le théâtre principal ou se mènent les campagnes de guerres cognitives.
• Térrorisme: attaques ciblant les civils. Compagnon de la guerre cognitive, employé pour intimider, afin d’aboutir à des victoires dans l’espace publique ciblé.
• Insurrections agressives: forme insolite de guerre asymétrique qui cherche à envahir la société de la partie la plus puissante – donc, la bataille cognitive doit convaincre l’ennemi de ne pas se défendre sur son propre terrain. De tels campagnes de guerre doivent gagner dans la sphère publique de l’ennemi.
• Démopathes:

les combattants cognitifs qui utilisent le discours/lexique des Droits de l’Homme pour paralyser l’auto-défense des personnes soucieuses desdits droits. De fait, ces combattants n’ont que du dédain à l’égard des Droits de l’Homme (d’autrui), et ne font qu’employer la démocratie (les règles de ce mode de gouvernance) pour démolir la démocratie.

• Les années zéros, ‘00s: la première décennie du 21ème siècle, le moment où tout bascule, et où l’Occident commence à perdre la guerre cognitive à grande échelle.
Définitions/Terminologie:
Millénarisme apocalyptique
•Millénarisme: la croyance en l’avènement d’un monde parfait ici sur terre. Peut être soit religieux (Anbaptists, Taiping) soit laïc (Communisme, Maoisme).
Millénarisme hiérarchique: la perfection est imposée d’en haut, pureté coercitive (“Dernier Empereur”). Impérialisme monothéiste: “Un Dieu, un empereur.”
Millénarisme démotique: égalitaire, la perfection vient d’une pulsion d’en bas, anarchie sainte, fin des distinctions de classe. Monothéisme démotique: “Pas de roi sauf Dieu.”
Apocalypticisme: la croyance que le moment pour accéder au millenium (ou la fin du monde) est arrivée. Aussi le scénario par lequel on arrive au millennium.
Scenario apocalyptique cataclysmique: la transition entre ce monde et celui à venir passe par une immense destruction (e.g., l’Apocalypse de Jean)
Apocalypticisme transformateur: la transition se fait volontairement, sans ou avec peu de violences et destructions (e.g., Isaïe, 2)
Apocalypticisme actif: les croyants sont chargés d’effectuer le processus de transition vers le monde parfait.
l’apocalypticisme actif, cataclysmique prône la mégamort. Ceux qui visent un millenium hiérarchique par un cataclysme qu’ils sont eux-mêmes chargés d’accomplir, représentent l’idée la plus dangereuse de toutes les idéologies religieuses ou laïques.
Avertissement

Avant de procéder à l’examen du Djihad global contemporain, je tiens à préciser une chose importante. L’islam que je vais décrire, cet islam qui mène une guerre d’aggression contre les democraties occidentales, n’est pas le seul representant de l’islam. Je reconnais volontiers l’existence d’un Islam démotique, qui a renoncé à l’impérialisme monothéistique, un Islam différent de celui qui, à présent, lutte contre les pays des infidèles. J’en aurais d’avantage à dire à ce sujet plus tard. Mais pour le moment, je précise que les définitions des termes islamiques que je présente ci-dessous ne sont pas les seules définitions qui existent chez les musulmans.

Pas tous les musulmans qui s’ecrient “Allahu Akhbar” le font avec le sens de “tuer les ennemis d’Allah!” Mais c’est precisement ce que voulait dire Muhammed Atta:

When the confrontation begins, strike like champions who do not want to go back to this world. Shout, ‘Allahu Akbar,’ because this strikes fear in the hearts of the non-believers. Allah said: ‘Strike above the neck, and strike at all of their extremities.’ (911 Muslim terrorists)

Et depuis, partout dans le monde, nous témoignons d’une telle crie de guerre.

Je tente ici un exercise : penser à la manière d’un de ceux qui poursuivent ce que j’appèle le Djihad global. C’est eux les ennemis à la fois des infidèles du monde entier, et des musulmans qui ne s’accordent pas à leur lecture de l’Islam. En fait, les musulmans qui divergent de cette lecture agressive sont les premières cibles et les victimes les plus constantes du Djihad militaire.

Quand je dis “nous” dans la présentation suivante, je parle de tous ceux – hommes, femmes, monothéistes, polythéistes, laïcs – qui veulent vivre dans des sociétés libres, où la dignité et les droits de tous et toutes – y compris le droit de dissidence – sont respectés.

Al Durah “lives” in the Palestinian justification for terror

Here’s a fascinating exchange between a Jawwad Muhammad Amawwi, chief legal counsel of the Palestinian Prisoners Affairs Ministry and Ofir Gendelman, spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office on Arabic TV. (HT: Hadar Selah)

In particular, watch from 8:30, how the Palestinian spokesman uses Al Durah to accuse Israel for doing what the Palestinians do, namely, targeting children.

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.

From the Archives: Boston Globe Ombudsman on “Who is a Terrorist?”

In the days  before I knew either what a blog was, or fisking was, at the height of the second intifada (aka. the Oslo War), I fisked a piece by the Boston Globe’s ombudsman, Christine Chinlund. The article came to mind recently because a colleague here at the IKGF in Erlangen mentioned that some “experts” were claiming that the serial murders of immigrants to Germany by a neo-Nazi group should not be labeled “terrorism” because they didn’t seek to publicize their deeds (i.e., to spread the terror) or recruit.

He noted: “such narrow minded discussions must be a slap in the face of the bereaved.” Chinlund alludes to the feelings of the Jewish community in 2002 when she calls their policy of not calling Hamas a “terrorist organization” a policy that “infuriates some.”

This reminded by of Chinlund’s piece, and I realized I had never posted my fisking at my blog. So here it is, as preparation for a posting on the issue of using the term terrorism for the Daily Telegraph. I welcome contributions from anyone who has examples of the problem here delineated (e.g., what happened to the BBC after the terror attacks of 7-7, 2005).

The ombudsperson of the Globe yesterday produced what must be the single clearest statement of what is wrong with our media’s approach to the middle east.

WHO SHOULD WEAR THE `TERRORIST’ LABEL?

Author(s): CHRISTINE CHINLUND Date: September 8, 2003 Page: A15 Section: Op-Ed

THE OMBUDSMAN

Who should wear the `terrorist’ label?

By Christine Chinlund, 9/8/2003

WITH THIS WEEK’S 9/11 anniversary comes reflection on all that has changed these past two years. Even our language has shifted; the word terrorism itself casts a different shadow. It has always, of course, been a powerfully negative label. But post-9/11 the word’s potency has multiplied. In the current climate, the terrorist tag effectively banishes its holder from the political arena. More than ever, it condemns rather than describes.

Actually, it describes and condemns. Not to use terror in the case of a terrorist group – i.e., one that deliberately targets civilians as a basic tactic – is actually mis-describing. The value judgments are up to the public readership: it is not for the papers to “manage” the public’s perceptions.

Indeed, newspapers must be doubly careful about how they apply the word. Sparing use is the norm. For example, the Palestinian organization Hamas, whose suicide bombers maim and kill Israeli citizens, is routinely described in the Globe and other papers as a “militant,” not terrorist, group.

Given that Hamas has introduced the “suicide bombing” as a religious duty, a practice that specifically targets civilians, including women and children, such a “sparing” norm is actually disinformation.

Such restraint infuriates some Middle East partisans (most often, but not exclusively, supporters of Israel) who say it sugarcoats reality and that any group targeting civilians is terrorist. I receive regular demands to, as a Chelmsford reader put it, “stop misleading readers with terminology that affords terrorists a false degree of legitimacy.”

What possible reason is there for not unflinchingly applying the word terrorist to any organization or person who targets civilians? It may seem like hair-splitting, but there’s a reason to reserve the terrorist label for specific acts of violence, and not apply it broadly to groups.

To tag Hamas, for example, as a terrorist organization is to ignore its far more complex role in the Middle East drama. The word reflects not only a simplification, but a bias that runs counter to good journalism. To label any group in the Middle East as terrorist is to take sides, or at least appear to, and that is not acceptable. The same holds true in covering other far-flung conflicts. One person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter; it’s not for journalists to judge.

Such statements reflect, apparently, the author’s belief that she speaks for many (her job), and that those many all share certain self-evident assertions, assertions like, a) to label a group terrorist is to “take sides” and b) even to appear to take sides is “not acceptable.”  Both of these assumptions should be examined precisely in the context of terrorism.  Is it somehow anti-Palestinian to denounce the presence among them of terrible groups who teach hatred and plot the destruction of another people?  Is it working against the Palestinians to point out to the readers that Palestinians have to live with some profoundly violent and fascist forces in their midst?  And on what basis do we wish to avoid even “seeming” to “take sides”?

Anna Geifman on Terrorism and the Creation of “Fear Zones”

My colleague from the History Department at Boston U., who teaches now at Bar Ilan U. and also volunteers in Sederot, just sent me the following piece. All references are from Anna Geifman, Death Orders:  The Vanguard of Modern Terrorism in Revolutionary Russia (Praeger, 2010).

Terrorism today is not what it was a century ago—or ever.  Its patterns changed—from assassinations aimed to punish specific targets to what perpetrators called “motiveless terror” against civilians.  Presently, unnoticed by most, they focus on the creation of “fear zones.”  They do so by intentionally targeting children.

In a cross-border raid from Lebanon on May 15, 1974 gunmen from the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), affiliated with the PLO, took 102 students and their teachers hostage in the northern Israeli town of Ma’alot, which the children from Safed visited during a school trip.  Some managed to escape by jumping out the windows, but when the IDF special unit assaulted the building, the terrorists detonated hand grenades and sprayed the 14-16-year olds with machine-gun fire, killing 21 and wounding 66.  On June 1, 2001 an Arab suicide bomber blasted himself and yet another 21 Israeli teenagers in the “Delphinarium” disco in Tel Aviv.  In 2002 the Chechen terrorists have chosen the Moscow Dubrovka theater as their site during the “Nord-Ost” musical based on the novel The Two Captains by Veniamin Kaverin, a favorite travel adventure story for the young audience.

On September 1, 2004, amid the “Day of Knowledge” festivities, at least 32 heavily-armed, masked terrorists held hostage 1,200 children, their relatives, and their teachers inside School No. 1 in the town of Beslan, North Ossetia, in the former USSR.  This terrorist act yielded at least 334 dead, among them 186 children; over 700 were wounded.  Violence against children soared to a new level.

Beslan is a town of relatives; everyone has familial ties to everyone else.  Even distant family members are very close, so much more the siblings, little ones are frequently left in the care of their older brothers and sisters.  In this traditional community, for decades people live on the same street or in the same house and are more than neighbors:  they spend a great deal of time socializing, celebrating birthdays and holidays together; they have common troubles and memories; their children grow up as playmates and “share moms.”  Prisoners inside the school constituted approximately 3.3 percent of Beslan’s 35,500 inhabitants, but by orchestrating the holdup, the extremists aimed at every household and the locality as a whole:  by murdering and maiming hundreds of children, they mutilated the town.

Psychologists who have been treating victims in Beslan have designated it as a “special place,” a “death space” or “zone,” analogous to “zones of sadness,” which instantaneously mushroomed from Ground Zero into areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn, as far as Staten Island and New Jersey on 9/11.  In Beslan, one and all have experienced dying and bereavement and are suffering from collective traumatization, as well as individual intense post-traumatic stress and anxiety disorders.  Their sense of time is broken into “before” and “after” the violent incident, to which the residents refer as “the event” or simply as “that” (as in “when that happened”).  Everyone agrees that “Beslan is a very sick place.”

Parents took the bodies of their children murdered in Ma’alot for the burial in their home-Safed; the “Delphinarium” and the Dubrovka carnages horrified, yet did not stop the lives of citizens in metropolitan Tel Aviv and Moscow.  But Beslan became a closed “infected sphere,” explain the locals; it is like living in a cemetery.

The town of Sderot is the Israeli “trauma zone.”  With few fatalities, it is not a site to pick up sensational news items; random and inaccurate Hamas qassam fire from Gaza has become almost a regular event.  The shelled town is another instance where, overlooked by most observers, modern terrorism has reached a new phase by specifically targeting children.

There is a “Qassam generation”–kids who over the last eight years have been growing under the rockets, terrorism being the hallmark of their daily life.  A Sderot child is aware of the location of every bomb shelter on his way to a local store; some prefer to walk forty minutes to school every morning instead of ten because the circuitous route has better protection; others argue that the safest way is to run all the way.  During periods of heavy shelling, parents keep them at home for days or entire weeks; even during ceasefire school attendance is sparse, often as low as 60 percent.  Like children in Beslan, their peers in Sderot react emotionally to loud noises, such as those of a thunderstorm or even a voice.

Every playground is equipped with protective shield.  Some slides and climbing walls are under metal covers; the make-belief tunnels and labyrinths are made of concrete pipes, so that small children could play inside in relative safety.  Each child has his own sophisticated routines and safety rituals for performing most ordinary tasks; in that generation, there is no one who has not been deeply traumatized by habitual threat of violence.  “Qassam” is the word always in people’s minds and on the tip of the tongue:  when a science teacher asked her little students why a lizard needs its scales, everyone in class knew:  “Against the Qassams!”

The “death space” that the terrorists have succeeded in creating in Beslan by way of the massacre of children, in Sderot has been systematically constructed over the course a decade.  The Qassam rockets are very imprecise and do not inflict great casualties, but as it turns out, not much bloodspilling is necessary to keep the town population in perpetual fear, as long as it is sustained over a long time and reinforced systematically.  “A present for the start of the new school year,” the Islamic Jihad website flaunted the terrorists’ September 2007 missile attack, which sent twelve kindergarteners to the hospital for shock treatment.

Sderot is damaged with collective anxiety.  At present, the full extent of the trauma is known only indirectly; for example, by evidence of symptomatic panic, tenseness, insomnia, nightmares, diminished concentration and ability to perform regular tasks, periodic aggressiveness, depression, as well as high percentage of powerful tranquillizers prescribed to town residents; psychiatrists have classified dozens, if not hundreds, as handicapped.  Mass fear is not a cut-rate sacrifice, when the devotees of death are incapable of showing themselves as free-handed as they had proven to be in the Ossetian town at the other end of the world.  And, having demonstrated quite a commitment to destruction in the designated “fear zone” of Sderot, the terrorists have also tried their hand at transforming larger communities into similar sectors of terrorization in the cities of Beersheba, Ashkelon and, recently, Jerusalem. On March 6, 2008 students were massacred in Merhaz HaRav.  Two weeks ago, most of the wounded were teenagers:  a bomb was set to detonate at a bus stop at 3pm. when children return from school.  Yesterday the terrorists fired an anti-tank weapon at a school bus.

Health and safety of children are among the very few impervious values in our skeptical post-modern reality.  Terrorism came to direct itself specifically against that which remains ethically and socially sacred, revealing itself as a brutal form of counterculture.  Its proponents inevitably had to strike against children — the quintessence of vitality, of sparkling aliveness, the most vibrant and spontaneous of the living.  They are the very life that is being sacrificed because the terrorists “love death.”

How PC Talk Paralyzes us: Holder before the House on Islamic Radicalism and Home-Grown Terrorism

John Hindraker at Powerline has an astonishing tale to tell: Eric Holder before the House Judiciary Committee, answers some blunt questions from Rep. Lamar Smith (R. Texas). What you see is a man incapable of even thinking about, much less discussing intelligently a problem that should be at the top of his priority list.

Note how he repeats three times two obfuscatory talking points. Unlike the 10-page Arizona law, which he didn’t read despite admitting reservations about the law based entirely on hearsay, Holder has apparently deeply imbibed the memo from the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano about the necessary euphemisms for topics we do not discuss.

In so responding Holder reveals himself a firm believer in a kind of “dogma” that states that Jihadi Islam is inconsistent with Islam. If Smith were less confrontational, we’d have even better documentation on what Holder – and, I’d guess, most members of this administration – consider “true Islam.”

But, not to worry. Daniel Pipes’ well-researched survey of the role of this euphemistic discourse among Western authorities fills in the interrupted gaps: “Not Calling Islamism the Enemy.”

RADICAL ISLAM? WHAT’S THAT?
May 13, 2010 Posted by John at 8:23 PM

Could radical Islam be responsible for recent terrorist attacks inside the U.S.? That question doesn’t seem like too much of a poser, but it was too much for Attorney General Eric Holder when he testified before the House Judiciary Committee today. Rep. Lamar Smith tries to get Holder to acknowledge that radical Islam could have played a role in one or more of the recent attacks, but Holder apparently views it as a trick question…

SMITH: Let me go to my next question, which is — in — in the case of all three attempts in the last year, the terrorist attempts, one of which was successful, those individuals have had ties to radical Islam. Do you feel that these individuals might have been incited to take the actions that they did because of radical Islam?

HOLDER: Because of?

SMITH: Radical Islam.

HOLDER: There are a variety of reasons why I think people have taken these actions. It’s — one, I think you have to look at each individual case. I mean, we are in the process now of talking to Mr. Shahzad to try to understand what it is that drove him to take the action.

Jack Hexter wrote an interesting essay on the difference between lumpers and splitters (see also, Berlin’s foxes and hedgehogs). Splitting – every case has to be considered on its own – is a tendency of those who wish to avoid making connections. Here, Smith is lumping, driving Holder to split.

SMITH: Yes, but radical Islam could have been one of the reasons?

HOLDER: There are a variety of reasons why people…

This is the second time Holder’s used the same answer to an unanswered question. Is this a talking point?

SMITH: But was radical Islam one of them?

I wish Representative Smith had had the patience to let Holder go on. I’d like to hear what variant on the opening talking point he was planning on saying.

HOLDER: There are a variety of reasons why people do things. Some of them are potentially religious…

Wow. That’s three times in a row. Definitely a talking point. Note the splitters resistance to strong statements: “Okay, I’ll grant you ‘potentially religious,’ but it’s still to early to say. Let us splitters do some research for a while…”

Quotes to Ponder

Revolutionary Islamism is the main strategic problem in the world today. Terrorism is the main tactical problem.
Barry Rubin, Radical Islamism: An Introductory Primer

“…the structure of the bargain required to be struck between [Israel] and the Arabs seems inherently irresolvable. For whatever appears to be even minimally adequate…for Israel, seems to be totally inadequate… for the Arabs“.
Martin Sherman, The Politics of Water in the Middle East (Macmillan,1999), p. 94

” …the maximum that any government of Israel will be ready to offer the Palestinians and still survive… is much less than the minimum that any Palestinian leader can accept.”
Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland, former head of Israel’s National
Security Council, The Future of the Two-State Solution 2009

“I think that this is the first war in history that on the morrow the victors sued for peace and the vanquished called for unconditional surrender.” Abba Eban, to the UN on 1967 Six-Day War. (HT: NL)

“If Algeria introduced a resolution declaring that the earth was flat and that Israel had flattened it, it would pass by a vote of 164 to 13 with 26 abstentions.” Abba Eban (HT: NL)

Accepting other suggestions.

The demonisation of Israel is largely based on lies – much as the demonisation of the Jews during the past 2,000 years has been based on lies. And there is a connection between the two.”

Benny Morris – letter to the Irish Times (H/T: MN)

“Criticizing Israel is not anti-Semitic, and saying so is vile. But singling out Israel for opprobrium and international sanction — out of all proportion to any other party in the Middle East — is anti-Semitic, and not saying so is dishonest.”

Thomas Friedman, Campus Hypocrisy (H/T: MN)

Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” Abba Eban (H/T: SG)

Nota Bene: I have a longstanding nitpick with this quote, and I just heard an interesting variant on it yesterday. First, the nitpick. Ebban is being a liberal cognitive egocentrist: these seem like opportunities for him because they’re positive-sum deals that allow everyone to move on. How bourgeois.

For the Palestinians, these are not opportunities, they’re traps into which, were they to fall, they would never recover from the humiliation. In their zero-sum minds where if Israel wins anything, they lose, they’re not “missing an opportunity,” they’re avoiding defeat.

On the other hand, they never miss an opportunity to dump on Israel, no matter how self-destructive or irrational.

Abbas calls Goldstone “My brother, Richard Muhammad Goldstone,” even though the report strengthens his deadly enemies in Hamas (far more deadly than Israel).

Fayyad develops a plan for statehood “alongside Israel” that welcomes the destruction of Israel in the back door, and ramps up a cognitive war campaign to delegitimize Israel in Europe.

Like Europeans with their moral Schadenfreude truffles of Anti-Zionism, the Palestinians are addicted to their hatreds and vendettas. Except where Europe is like a fat man with a 300 Cholesterol count, still popping the truffles at every turn, the Palestinians and other Jihadis are mean and hungry.

Anatomy of “Progressive” Double Speak: Fisking Frank Rich on Fort Hood

I have yet to fisk Frank Rich, partly because he rarely deals with an issue in which I have some expertise, partly because, like Daniel Pipes, he so thoroughly links his comments to other literature, that I have not had the time or the energy to look them all up. But Rich is a former classmate (Harvard ’71), and I’m on a class listserv where I posted David Brooks’ criticism of the psychological school’s approach to Major Hasan’s killing spree, and several classmates answered. So when Rich weighed in on the subject, I decided to call up all his links, read the material, and respond.

The result is long and sometimes circuitous. At times, following his logic is like trying to deal with a bucking bronco: easier to watch than to ride. But in the end, I think what a close look at how Rich dealt with problem reveals, is how bereft of serious thinking even the most intelligent and apparently well-read among the self-styled “liberal left” are on the subject of Islam and its extremist manifestations, and to what lengths they will go to belittle people who try to think clearly on the matter.

Nietzsche once likened serious thinking to diving into an icy river and grasping a stone lying at the bottom. Rich won’t get his feet wet, but he mocks those of us who are soaking from head to toe.

The Missing Link From Killeen to Kabul
By FRANK RICH
Published: November 14, 2009

THE dead at Fort Hood had not even been laid to rest when their massacre became yet another political battle cry for the self-proclaimed patriots of the American right.

It also became a non-battle cry for the self-proclaimed progressives of the left, who far preferred the psychologization of the event — “pre-proxy-post-traumatic stress syndrome” — to any discussion of the problem with Islam. Will Rich have the courage to address the problem? Or will he just bash the “right”?

Their verdict was unambiguous: Maj. Nidal Malikan, an American-born psychiatrist of Palestinian parentage who sent e-mail to a radical imam, was a terrorist. And he did not act alone.

“Terrorist,” I think it’s hard to argue against. Did not act alone? That’s another matter. As for “unambiguous,” does Rich mean “unanimous”? I don’t know too many people who thought he acted in concert with anyone.

Indeed, the near-unanimous verdict was that he was a loner. If there’s any support group here, it’s some of the more radical members of his mosque, like Duane. So what does Rich mean here, other than suggesting that the “self-proclaimed patriots of the right” are conspiracy theorists? (Unlike the truthers who have come up with the scenario whereby Hasan’s been framed.)

His co-conspirators included our military brass, the Defense Department, the F.B.I., the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Joint Terrorism Task Force and, of course, the liberal media and the Obama administration. All these institutions had failed to heed the warning signs raised by Hasan’s behavior and activities because they are blinded by political correctness toward Muslims, too eager to portray criminals as sympathetic victims of social injustice, and too cowardly to call out evil when it strikes 42 innocents in cold blood.

Oh, now I get it. Rich means that the vast range of responsible figures, hands tied by a political correctness that he, among others, plays a major role in enforcing, are, in the minds of the “right,” collaborators. Is this what, “didn’t act alone,” means? I thought it meant, “had co-conspirators.” Rich takes it to mean “enablers.” Intellectual integrity is not the first word that comes to mind here.

Is this clearly sarcastic summary of the “self-proclaimed patriots of the American right” suggesting that there’s no problem here with political correctness? Does it not matter that our intelligence services can’t talk about “honor-shame” culture because some people — Rich? — think it’s racist as Edward Said so urgently insisted? Does it matter that Hasan’s multiple flags never quite tripped a switch somewhere? Does it matter that all those doctors who heard his alarming presentation were too embarrassed to say, “something’s wrong?”

Undermining the Enemy: A report from the ICT Panel with Stuart Green

Stephen Kramer, an American-born Israeli, attended the panel we organized at the Institute for Counter-terrorism at the IDC last month. He summarized the panel’s offerings for a Jewish paper in the USA.

Undermining the Enemy

Israel’s overwhelming strength and its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza deprived Israel of its favored “underdog” status.

Recently I attended the 9th World Summit on Counter- Terrorism at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT). The Institute is located on the IDC College campus in Herzliya. According to ICT, its international conference has become one of the most influential annual events in the field of counter-terrorism and has achieved international recognition for its exchange of views on best practices among global counter-terror experts, security professionals and leading academic scholars.

“Manipulation of Western Mainstream News Media in Asymmetrical Warfare,” a fancy description for terrorist groups’ propaganda efforts, was the subject of the workshop, one of many presented during the conference. Among the five speakers were a US naval officer, a college professor from Boston, researchers from two NGOs (non-profit organizations), and the chief editor of an Italian TV station.

Lt. Commander Stuart Green, who was quick to announce that he was speaking as a private citizen and not as a U.S. Navy representative, put the subject matter into historical context by describing how the Soviets took active measures to manipulate the conceptions of their target societies (the enemies) during the Cold War period. Their object was to set up a model which softened the enemy’s resistance to communism by persuading significant groups to consider communism as a viable alternative to democracy.

Green pointed out that in modern warfare, the terrorists take control of the intellectual “high ground,” increasing their propaganda as the conflict continues and obscuring the truth. By example, before 1967 Israel enjoyed the favorable status of underdog, but in the ensuing decades after 1967, particularly after the 1982 war, Israel’s overwhelming strength and its occupation of the West Bank and Gaza deprived Israel of its favored “underdog” status. Over time, and with the growing intensity of propaganda, the empirical truth that the Arabs absolutely opposed a Jewish state regardless of its size was replaced by an “acceptable discourse,” the Palestinian narrative. This Muslim-inspired “truth” has become so engrained that the actual cause of Israeli-Palestinian strife has been obscured and almost forgotten.

Green used another example from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, whereby the cause of Palestinian terrorism is attributed to checkpoints and settlements, not the longstanding Palestinian refusal to accept Israel’s existence. He described the media as a “force multiplier,” promoting the message of the underdog/terrorists and geometrically increasing its effect. The media is overwhelmingly democratic, meaning it is anti-army, prounderdog, and universalistic – assigning moral equivalence to democracies and dictatorships. Answering the question about what to do to combat the media manipulation, Green said it’s imperative that the public understand the fact that we’re at war with radical Islamists.