The Small Kindness (Qur’an 107): A Magnanimous Solution to the Arab-Israeli Conflict

Positive-sum westerners see “two states” as the obvious solution to the conflict on the land between the river and the sea. But analyzed in terms of honor-shame reasoning and the players involved, not only More »

Glossary List for Medievalist’s Guide to 21st Century

The following is a glossary list of terms I (and others) have developed to help describe the civilizational dynamics of the 21st century. I welcome suggestions for my definitions and for others More »

Caliphate Cogwar, Lethal, Own-Goal Journalism, and BDS

The Place of BDS and the Caliphate Cogwar BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) is part and parcel of a wider cognitive war (cogwar) offensive against both Israel and the West. Cogwar is the main More »

From Ilan to Sarah Halimi: Shameful France

French public intellectual, Alexandra Laignel-Lavastine, has written an open letter to Gerard Collomb, the new French Minister of the Interior about the stunning silence in the French public sphere about the terrible murder More »

Further thoughts on Yom Yerushalayim in dialogue:

My Yom Yerushalayim post engendered an exchange with the author of the article I fisked. I asked permission to post one of my long answers and he agreed with this request: Ok. More »

Holocaust Guilt and Holocaust Shame: Parsing Remorse for the Shoa.

 

[My thanks to Rabbi Mark Kujawsky who first helped me understand the difference.]

When I first heard about Catherine Nay – a prominent, mainstream, French journalist – stating on her Europe 1 news program that “with its symbolic charge of this picture, this death annuls, erases the picture of the little Jewish boy, hands up in front of the SS, in the Warsaw Ghetto,” I realized to what an extent Europeans had taken the story of the IDF killing 12-year old Muhammad al Durah in the arms of his father, as a “get-out-of-holocaust-guilt-free card“.

Picture from International ANSWER, Quote from Catherine Nay

At the time I marveled – and continue to marvel – at the astounding folly of the statement. How can a brief, blurry, chopped up video of a boy who, at best was caught in a cross fire started by his own people firing behind him, at worst an outright lethal fake, could eliminate – really replace – a picture that symbolizes the systematic murder of over a million children and their families? How morally disoriented can one get? Apparently escaping guilt made some people – too many people – do strange things… like adopt a supersessionist narrative: Israelis, the new Nazis, Palestinians, the new Jews.

But the profound distinction between guilt and shame suggests that the right formula is “get-out-of-holocaust-shame-free card.” (Doesn’t sound as good.) The difference: guilt is an internally generated sense of moral obligation not to repeat past transgressions, especially egregious ones like the unchecked attempt to exterminate of a helpless minority within one’s own society. Shame, on the other hand, is externally generated, driven by the “shaming look” of others (the “honor-group“). When Germans got caught carrying out a genocide, their nation was not only guilty of the deed, but shamed before the world… for doing it? …or getting caught?

There-in lies a key difference: for guilt, it’s the awareness of the deed and its meaning, for shame, it’s whether others know. In some countries in the world, it’s not a question of whether you’re corrupt or not (everyone is, everyone knows), but just if you get caught. How many teenagers apologize for getting caught? Some adulterers have no sense of wrongdoing, as long as no one else knows. On some level everyone is subject to these concerns.

While honor-shame cultures have moral codes, however, their vulnerability to the fear of shame can readily lead to a jettisoning of any moral concerns. After all, the limbic dread of shame – its disastrous psychological and practical impact on them – kicks in in times of humiliation and fear. Those afflicted with oneidophobia (overriding [limbic] fear of public blame/ humiliation), is that others not see, not know about, not talk about, what they have done, that one not bear the shame publicly, that one need not pay the steep price in social capital for one’s (mis)deeds. After two generations one can easily imagine German youth being fed up with this sense of moral indebtedness of having to bear this blame/shame publicly.

Guilt-integrity has moral codes that operate from within-out, rather than from without-in. Here the awareness of the transgression and the determination to not do it again operate inside the individual, as, for example, in the case of Judah, who refused to repeat his betrayal of his father (in the case of Joseph) with the betrayal of Tamar, the mother of his child (Genesis, 38). That process takes both genuine remorse (for which Joseph later tested), and an understanding of how it could have happened, so as to prevent it from happening again. It involves criticism and self-criticism. It involves a willingness, when absolutely necessary, (beware the public flagellant!), to make the painful sacrifice of public honor in order to maintain private integrity. In the case of Judah, this led to the first renunciation of an honor-killing/shame-murder in recorded history.

Who will defend Western Civilization? Not its “Social Justice Warriors”

David Brooks bemoans the inability of the West to defend itself and its values. The plaint is valid, the analysis deeply superficial and, I’d guess, ineffectual in reaching the “millennials” who think they’ve outgrown the need for those values and the democracies they created. Below a half fisking (critique) and whisking (elaboration) of Brooks’ proleptic threnody for Western civ. HT: YS.

The Crisis of Western Civ

David Brooks, NYT April 21, 2017
Between 1935 and 1975, Will and Ariel Durant published a series of volumes that together were known as “The Story of Civilization.” They basically told human history (mostly Western history) as an accumulation of great ideas and innovations, from the Egyptians, through Athens, Magna Carta, the Age of Faith, the Renaissance and the Declaration of the Rights of Man. The series was phenomenally successful, selling over two million copies.
Note the lack of mention of ancient Israel. The Durants did address the issue what they called Judea, briefly if with limited sympathy in their opening volume, a small fraction of that first volume. In discussing the 6th commandment (thou shall not kill [really murder]) he notes:

nowhere is there so much killing as in the Old Testament; its chapters oscillate between slaughter and compensatory reproduction…

What a bizarre thing for a reader of the Iliad and great admirer of Greece to say! Why is so much of this chapter set on comparing ancient Israel (often, as here, unfavorably) with the worst of other cultures, including Christian religious practices like the inquisition?

That series encapsulated the Western civilization narrative that people, at least in Europe and North America, used for most of the past few centuries to explain their place in the world and in time. This narrative was confidently progressive. There were certain great figures, like Socrates, Erasmus, Montesquieu and Rousseau, who helped fitfully propel the nations to higher reaches of the humanistic ideal.

And Jews were a marginal part of the tale, victims of lamentable Western intolerance (read: aggressive supersessionism), but not actual contributors to that great civilizing venture we call the West. I was astonished, when I finally got introduced to “Western Political Thought” at Columbia, to find that everyone began with Socrates/Plato (5th-4th century BCE) and no attention to the Bible as a political document with remarkably modern resonance.

This Western civ narrative came with certain values — about the importance of reasoned discourse, the importance of property rights, the need for a public square that was religiously informed but not theocratically dominated.
… the principal of equality before the law, the value of manual (productive) labor, literacy and self-empowerment for commoners, respect and empathy for the “other,” criticism and self-criticism, rejection of oppression of those weaker, guilt at wrongdoing, the value of all human life…
It set a standard for what great statesmanship looked like. It gave diverse people a sense of shared mission and a common vocabulary, set a framework within which political argument could happen and most important provided a set of common goals.
And this civilizational consensus became the target of the Caliphaters, hard-zero-sum players from what we Westerners refer to as our “middle ages” or more broadly, pre-modern society, from a world of triumphalist religiosity, holy millennial war and inquisition. They have, with really astonishing success, managed to drive a wedge into democratic civilization and hammer away at fending what has become a internalized clash of civilizations between Western “left” and “right.”
Starting decades ago, many people, especially in the universities, lost faith in the Western civilization narrative. They stopped teaching it, and the great cultural transmission belt broke. Now many students, if they encounter it, are taught that Western civilization is a history of oppression.
Pascal Bruckner wrote about this in his Tyranny of Guilt (in French penitence). Tenured Radicals pursuing their supersessionist, revolutionary agenda. When I was at Columbia (1984-86), a fellow grad student gave a presentation in which he argued that liberalism was a self-creating fantasy that did not collapse in a manner similar to how Wylie Coyote did not fall when he ran over a cliff, until he looked down. I did not at the time imagine that GPL radicals would stampede us off the cliff. Now we have millennials, proud of their unerring instinct for social justice, ready to forgo democracy in search of… ?

Millennial Social Warriors Fighting for Justice
The nice touch here is that it’s Western civilization’s teachings that make it possible to identify this oppression, to detect social injustice in every micro-aggression, every invasion of safe space. You won’t find another civilizational ideology (excepting the Jews) that does not take exceptional privilege for the elite – legal and life-style – as a given. And yet now, the demand for radical social justice=equality (whatever that means) has been turned by those who have been trained in the western (and Jewish) moral tradition(s), exclusively on attacking western (and Jewish) exercise of power.

How Academics think about Freedom of Speech: Fisking the Email that Killed Phyllis Chesler’s Talk on Shame-Murders

In preparing an article on how Phyllis Chesler, one of the few scholars and feminists to tackle the problem of honor-killings/shame murders in the Muslim world (and elsewhere, eg, Hindus in India, Sikhs to a much lesser extent everywhere), got disinvited from a conference on the subject of honor-killings, I managed to get a hold of the email that nixed her invitation. Written by three professors from the King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies at University of Arkansas: Joel Gordon (History, author of email), Ted Swedenburg (Anthropology), and Mohja Kahf (Comparative Literature), it addressed Thomas Paradise, the Head of the King Fahd Center.

The letter is deeply embarrassing to its signers in its stupefying polemic, its craven reasoning, and its complete disregard for academic integrity. My guess (hope) is that its authors will object to its being made public in much the same way that “professors” of Middle Eastern Studies object to having their talks and class lectures made public.

UPDATE: Tom Paradise has been suspended as a result of his canceling Chesler’s participation, and the brave people who scuttled her are busy scrambling to get out of the hot seat. Ted Swedenburg told a journalist:

We did not call for her to be disinvited and how that happened, I don’t really know, because none of the three of us were a party to that discussion.

You be the judge of whether the letter quoted below reflects this disavowal.

NB: issue of terminology. “Honor-killing” is a supposedly neutral term that does not judge. Instead, I think, it enables, using “to kill” where, by any standards of modern democracy, these are murders. My use of “shame-murders” not only identifies the act as murder, but makes it clear that this is not restoring family honor – what family is honored by killing its daughter? – but rather it is a grotesque and criminal way of trying to wipe out shame.

Below, a fisking of this McCarthyite letter attempting to ban a major researcher on the basis of a dogmatic and anti-intellectual ideology.

Dear Tom:

It has come to our attention that MEST is co-sponsoring Phyllis Chesler to lecture via Skype at the University of Arkansas Law School’s symposium about honor killings on 14 April 2017. 

Chesler’s writings frequently feature on the ultra-right Breitbart forum as well as many other right-wing platforms.

“Right-wing” is thus, by definition, not acceptable. Merely the use of the term in describing someone renders that person unpresentable, outside of the realm of acceptable speech.

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.)

Take the Proleptic Dhimmi Test: Replace Zionist with Caliphater

I am currently reading about the excellent and depressing research of David Collier into the Palestinian Solidarity Commission, England’s largest and most “prestigious” “pro-Palestinian” group with Jeremy Corbyn and Ilan Pappe on their board.

He quotes one of PSC’s activists, Tony Gratrex:

The Zionists’ militarist mindset is evidently motivated by the ethnocentric myths of Jewish victimhood. World-conquering Neocon-Zionist belligerence is driven in large part by the religious adherence to the official propaganda of the victors of World War II.

As I read it, I recognized the classic projective conversion to which some, at times too many, fall prey in projecting their own desire for world dominion onto others. This is what the Nazis did with their “warrant for genocide,” the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and the Jihadis do today with the same text, much embroidered with their own deft touches. Is this Gratrex’s secret desire? Not really my business. Is it the open desire of Jihadis whom Tony joins in attacking their common foe, Zionism? You bet.

Then an interesting mental exercise occurred to me: reverse the referents.

The Islamist’s militarist mindset is evidently motivated by the ethnocentric myths of Muslim victimhood. World-conquering Caliphater belligerence is driven in large part by the religious adherence to the official propaganda of the losers of World War II.

That, alas, is a pretty accurate statement, to which one might add the role that an own-goal, lethal Western journalism, obsessed with images of Muslim victims of Israeli violence, contributed to that sense of global victimization.

But it would be unthinkable in the Western public sphere today, to openly make such an observation, despite the widespread tolerance for the projective meme of Israeli/Jewish malevolence. Imagine Tony, or his fellow cultists at PSC like Falk, or Pappe, or Corbyn, tolerating the very mention of so broad-stroked and conspiratorial statement about Muslims. Just kidding.

Imagine Theresa May saying it. Not likely, until she takes Melanie Phillips as an advisor on these matters.

Why? “Because it would be Islamophobic, and offend many Muslims.”

As for the scurrilous attacks on the Jews… “deplorable, but let’s not forget freedom of speech.”

What If…?

What If…?

What if “right-wing” Israel is right about why the peace process has failed?

What if negotiations repeatedly failed because the Palestinians used every occasion to demand concessions from Israel and broke them off rather than reciprocate?

What if, when Palestinians say “the Occupation,” they mean all Israel?

Does it make sense to use language like, “the whole world thinks the occupation is the problem”? and wring one’s hands over the (imagined) loss of viability of the (imagined) two-state solution?

And then attack us?

What if the reason that the peace process has failed for so long is because Westerners (including Israel) think positive-sum, and Palestinian Arabs play hard zero-sum?

They want it all, and so do their jihadi brethren the world over – infidels must be dhimmi, starting with Israel.

What if Israel is fighting a common enemy with you liberals and progressives, Caliphaters who want to subject or convert infidels the world over?

Why would you side with your enemy against us?

What if your jihadis are watching and studying the deeds of our jihadis, to turn them against you?

Does it make sense for you to cheer them on when they’re hitting us, and then wonder why they’ve hit you?

Does it make any sense to desire a two-state solution, passionately, and, when one side acts in bad faith, you take his side against the side that did try, did sacrifice, and lost big in the failed deal(s)?

Zionist propaganda, you say? Perhaps. And you’ll find no lack of Jews and Israelis eager to confirm your disdain. But given that most of your information replicates Palestinian propaganda, that should hardly disqualify it as a source.

What if it’s not just a “right-wing” point of view as you’re told, but a realistic one, unhappily accepted by liberals and progressives who refuse to be seduced by unrealistic hopes, and who actually cherish and want to protect progressive values, endangered by misplaced trust in enemies of those values?

Do you help yourself by dismissing our war narrative as useless and adopting the Palestinian one? Or should you at least run through a “what if ‘right wing’ Jews are right” scenario.

Imagine all the people… getting it badly wrong….

Nah, emperor’s new clothes scenarios are just kid’s stories, not real.

And if you decline the invitation to even do that “what if…”, are you not becoming a proleptic dhimmi who rejects speech – even thought – that might upset Triumphalist Muslims?

Own-Goal Cognition, anyone?

Liberals without memory: Fisking Roger Cohen on Geert Wilders

Roger Cohen has another of his patented editorials, this time about Geert Wilders. Rapid fisking below.

 Somebody Else’s Babies

Roger Cohen MARCH 14, 2017

And so it begins. With the Dutch election on Wednesday, Europe embarks on a yearlong test of how far it’s ready to realign itself as an anti-immigrant, pro-Russian continent marked by ascendant nationalism, alt-Right intolerance and the fragmentation of the European Union.

The worst could happen. Nobody who has watched the British decision to quit the European Union in a strange little-England huff,

Anyone who thinks that English voters ignored all the dire predictions of econapocalypse if Britain left because of a “strange huff,” hasn’t a clue to what’s going on in the minds of people.

or the election of Donald Trump with his “America First” anti-Muslim jingoism, can think otherwise. The liberal order has lost its center of gravity.

It happened in 2000 when the progressive left sided with the Jihadis against a progressive ally (Israel), and dragged a cowardly narcissistic liberal center off kilter. (As Ian Buruma said in 2003, at the height of the suicide terror campaign against Jewish infidels: “it’s a liberal litmus test to be pro-Palestinian.”)

The only difference is that the “liberal order”, which managed to shunt aside any criticism by people who thought something was awry by exiling them to the Islamophobic, xenophobic, war-mongering, right-wing, is now discovering just how much they have alienated just how many people.

“And all the blame goes to…”: Sisyphus, Kerry and the Failure of “Peace” Negotiations

Two articles and two blogposts have just appeared that tackle the failed peace negotiations conducted by John Kerry during the second Obama Administration. One, by a participant (with a long history of participation in these efforts going back to 1993), “Inside the Black Box of Israeli-Palestinian Talks” by Michael Herzog, in American Interest, and the other, a strong critique of the first piece, by Raphael Ahren, the diplomatic correspondent of the Times of Israel, and two extensive blogposts, by Yaacov Lozowick, and David Gerstman at Legal Insurrection that criticize the widespread lack of interest of the mainstream media on this revealing text, in part, they suspect, because it doesn’t indict Bibi.

Like most diplomatic issues written by negotiators, one has to read between the lines at what is not said. The issues here are crucial, since much of the logic that this information undermines, lies at the heart of Kerry’s final maneuvers to condemn the settlements as the roadblock to peace, and the vast international consensus – diplomatic and journalistic – that stand behind him.

For Herzog, there’s enough blame to go around:

All parties made mistakes, each exacerbating the others’ and contributing to a negative dynamic.

For Ahrens, Herzog’s piece is a “politely devastating critique” that “skewers Kerry for dooming the peace talks.”

What strikes me in reading Herzog is how much – despite his explicit conclusions – he provides an abundance of clear evidence for the fact that (as Lozowick also notes) the real reason the negotiations failed is because the Palestinians  never had any intention of negotiating. So blaming Kerry (or Bibi) for “dooming the peace talks,” is something like blaming a hospital emergency team for blowing the resuscitation of a mannequin.

If there’s blame to apportion here it’s a) the Palestinians for never negotiating in good faith, and b) the Americans, especially Kerry, for blaming Israel for killing the mannequin,  and c) the Israelis like Herzog for never catching on including (apparently) still now.

In reviewing this material, let me lay out what I think were the negotiating strategies of the sides for the last 25 years, a perspective repeatedly borne out by events, including the information in Herzog’s article:

(NB: I’m a medievalist, trained to piece together fragments of evidence into a larger picture. When the CIA launched after the WWII they tapped medievalists (including one of my professor, Joseph Strayer, specifically because of this training. So maybe I see more because I know less. Certainly, in these matters, I am far from familiar with the details.)

The Americans believed (to a man/woman?) that if only they could get the Palestinians and Israelis to agree on a deal that gave the Palestinians a state on the other side of the “’67 borders,” that would bring peace and solve a whole bunch of problems in the Middle East – linkage – including saving Israel from deciding between democratic or apartheid. They formally adopted a cognitively egocentric notion that the Palestinians really wanted a state, but needed to get the best possible deal to “sell it” to their own people. The way to get it was to pressure the Israelis to make concessions that would bring the Israelis into (what they imagined was) “the zone of possible agreement [between Israelis and Palestinians]” (Indyk), and then go to the Palestinians with a great deal (from the US point of view), and thereby achieve the holy grail of Nobel Peace Prizes, the deal that really is so obvious, you should be able to solve it with an email.

The American position represents a dogmatic extension of Oslo Logic after it blew up in Israel’s face in 2000 (Y2K Mind). It takes as a given that the Palestinians will accept a deal +/- on the “1967 borders,” but they can’t concede too much or they’ll lose face with their people. Applying that “reading” to the negotiations since 2000 (Bush/Condoleezza, Obama/Clinton/Kerry) has a) guaranteed US and Israeli failure, b) guaranteed Palestinian and Jihadi success. Once committed to the paradigm and its expectations, the US was incapable of realizing they were being played.

The Israelis wanted to appease the Americans, and I suspect most of the actual negotiators (Herzog/Livni) agree with the American position that a) peace is urgently needed, and b) believe peace is within their grasp, like in 20o0… “so close.” (Certainly Herzog shows no awareness of what’s available at PalWatch or MEMRI on Palestinian attitudes off the negotiating record.) Because they do want a deal soon for fear of the demographic timebomb, the Israelis are ready to make many of concessions, both short-term (slowdown of settlement activity, release of prisoners) and long-term (division of Jerusalem).

But at the same time they know that they have limits to their concessions, not only on some key issues like refugee return and how Jerusalem is divide (already a pocketed concession), but also the damage to their position from making unreciprocated concessions, increasing the odds that this “peace deal” too will blow up in the face of the conceding side. Thus the Israelis fight over every detail to protect themselves from likely attacks from an eventual Palestinian state, while still making concessions to move the process along, to get, as even Indyk admitted they had, into the zone of possible agreement. Herzog expresses his confidence in the Palestinian’s commitment to finding a solution, despite all the counter-evidence, with a credulous humanitarian credo:

But whoever knows the issues in-depth realizes how crucial they are to both sides’ future. And those of us who have spent years at the negotiating table know how arduous and excruciating a journey is required of both sides if they are to find a sustainable balance encompassing all core issues (italics mine).

That “whoever” who “knows” does not include the current crop of Palestinian “leaders” and their negotiators. On the contrary they’re not at all interested in finding a sustainable balance. No arduous journeys for them.

Bibi’s Strategy:

  • Take it seriously.
  • Fight every detail to get the best acceptable deal,
  • Show good faith, accede wherever possible to American demands
  • Ask for reciprocity.
  • Put really good people to work on it, and follow the details closely.
  • Hope that, if/when things fail, they won’t get blamed.

The Palestinians are nowhere near the American’s “zone of possibility.” As long as they can pretend to the cognitive egocentrics on the other side that they are near, ready, desirous of a deal, however, negotiators will play along pretending to accept the notion of a positive-sum, give and take, deal. Indeed they will indignantly rebuke any challenge to their sincerity.

Erekat argued that this was natural given in his view Abbas’ moderate positions: “He doesn’t need to convince Abbas. Abbas accepts the two-state solution [sic], recognizes Israel [sic] and does not build settlements [alas! He should be building settlements for Palestinian Refugees stuck in camps].”

But they know that their job is to make the process as difficult as possible, to give the impression they’ll make concessions without making any real concessions (eg their phony recognition of Israel). They want above all not to reach an agreement, without being blamed for the failure of negotiations. If, in the process, they can use the Americans to get unreciprocated concessions, great. The US wants them so badly to participate that the Palestinians can make just “sitting down to negotiate” a major concession on their part to match say, Israelis releasing prisoners. If they get blamed, go nuts:

The thing that really drove [Abbas] nuts,” Ashrawi relates, “is that they blamed him for the talks’ collapse. In his view, it’s all the Israelis’ — and the Americans’ — fault.”

The Palestinians are in no hurry because the suffering of their people, as long as Israel can be blamed, is a bargaining chip (like a non-funny remake of Blazing Saddles, “don’t no one come near or I’ll shoot this nigger”). They feel no need to make any actual concessions to Israel (that they wouldn’t carry through on anyway) because they feel time is on their side and they can wait. They know that Israel won’t kick the Palestinians out and can’t digest them; that the situation is a timebomb of ethnic warfare which will destroy everyone. (That’s why some Palestinians call for nuking the whole area.) And, anyway, the negotiator’s job is not to create a Palestinian state (pace “international opinion”), but to destroy an Israeli state. If they deviate from that task, if they make a deal with the Israelis, they’d lose face, be accused of betraying the sacred Arab-Muslim cause, and have tea with Sadat.

So they’re willing to “play along” with negotiations as long as the US pressures Israel. Abbas claims his side had “already exhausted its ability to be flexible in past years and therefore that the main onus was not on him.” If the US can force deeply wounding concessions (Green Line including East Jerusalem) on Israel, then maybe they can appease the Jihadis whom they honor in Arabic, by assuring them this is a major step in the “Two Phase Plan” for the destruction of Israel. If they can’t, they can’t risk the humiliation of agreeing to accept a state of free infidels in Dar al Islam, so they’ll walk away from the table and brag to their Jihadis about how they said “No,” to the mighty Americans.

Abbas’ strategy:

  • insist on settlements as main problem and let Western cognitive egocentrists think you mean the Green Line not the shore line;
  • avoid being involved in negotiations as long as possible;
  • refuse any deal, avoid even responding to any deal;
  • negotiate on other tracks (Hamas, International Community), for the time the talks “fail” (i.e., the moment pressure is put on them);
  • blame Israeli settlements for the failure and get outraged when criticized.

Sand Storm helped me work on a 50-year old puzzle: Predestination

I went last night to the Jerusalem Cinematheque for a screening of Sand Storm by Elite Zexer, sponsored by the Times of Israel. The film is superb, a testament to the enormous talent and empathy of the director, right up there with Footnote and To Fill the Void for movies that penetrate into seemingly alien cultures and yet touch on deep human dilemmas, leaving the viewer with a brilliant “end” that is not an end.

In her excellent conversation with Jessica Steinberg that followed, Zexer made the interesting point that she did not want it to be an “anthropological” film that depicted this foreign culture in all its strangeness, and she certainly succeeded. There was no heavy-handed allusions to (my favorite topic) honor-shame cultures, and the kinds of pressures it puts on the members of the tribe, even though the entire drama revolves around a classic honor-issue: whom does a daughter marry – the youth she met at university in Be’er Sheva, or the tribal member her father chooses for her?

No dark allusions to shame-murders (aka honor-killings), no explicit dialogue about how various figures have shamed or might shame others, no lectures on honor and its preservation, no allusions to the shameful fact that the father is an “abu-banat” – father of only (4) daughters, no invocation of kalam al nass, the deeply judgmental “talk of the people” that, at least according to some observers, paralyzes Arab society. All sous-entendu.

And yet one theme – one might say the main theme – of the movie was the conflict between the father and his women over how to behave. Repeatedly the father makes decisions that damage his family emotionally, and repeatedly he justifies it by saying “I don’t have a choice.” And repeatedly, both his wife and daughter challenge him by insisting “You always have a choice.”

 

European Schizoid Dissonance: The Calm of Appeasement

At the Balfour Declaration centenary conference convened by JCPA Tuesday, February 28, there was a particularly interesting juxtaposition during the first panel between remarks by Colonel Richard Kemp and Professor Julius Schoeps.

NB: the videos of the talks are now up.

In his talk, “Israel as a Strategic Asset to Britain“, Richard Kemp drew a striking contrast between two European attitudes towards Israel. On the one hand, there are those who see her as a remarkably successful loyal ally, crucial not only to Montgomery in 1940s, but even more today in the 21st century. On the other, there are those who repeatedly sacrifice Israel’s interests and side against her. His illustrative example concerns Italian Admiral Giampaolo Di Paolo, the Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, who:

In 2009… visited Israel to study IDF tactics to apply to NATO operations in Afghanistan. He was particularly interested in Israeli tactics for fighting terror in civilian-populated areas. This visit came just weeks after the publication of the infamous Goldstone Report – which alleged that Israel had committed war crimes by deliberately targeting civilians in Gaza.

The contrast was striking: within weeks of the European Parliament endorsing the report, the European Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee was visiting Israel, for the third time in four years, to study ethical methods for dealing with terrorist insurgencies without causing undue harm to civilians.

Apparently the Europeans find scolding Israel nearly irresistible, even though they know their criticism is not only untrue… but, it’s the opposite. Israel behaves better than even other Western armies; a fortiori than the jihadis they fight, whose cannibalistic strategies create civilian casualties among their own people.

Let’s call it (European) schizoid dissonance: holding two diametrically and significantly contradictory notions in one’s empirical and moral discourse at the same time. On the one hand, the (European) cultural elite – journalists, critics, public intellectuals, researchers, NGOs –conduct a conversation in which despising Israel holds an important place, in which they have flipped the symbol and insist on seeing an Israeli Goliath bullying a hapless Palestinian David. On the other hand, the military, the security people, the grown ups in charge, ask the Israelis to teach them how to limit casualties when the enemy uses civilians as shields and how to enhance their security. And that schizoid dissonance seems to hold more or less for all European countries.

No sooner had Kemp finished his remarks than the next speaker, Prof. Julius H. Schoeps, the Director of the Moses Mendelssohn Centre of European Jewish Studies at Potsdam University, made remarks that seemed to illustrate the contradictions Kemp had just highlighted. After asserting German support for Israel and good will towards the morally admirable Zionist dream, he concluded by sternly urging “the Israeli state to prevent the national religious settler movement from carelessly and recklessly squandering the Zionist legacy of the founding fathers…” darkly hinting that a failure to do so would alienate Europeans and especially Germans.

Malliet: Update on Georges Bensoussan Trial in Paris

A tireless warrior in the cogwar, Martin Malliet, frequent commenter here, left a long comment with an update on the George Bensassoun blasphemy trial in Chambre 17 in Paris. I post it here to give it the attention it deserves.

This is indeed a fascinating case that shows how crazy things have gotten in France. (I put some things together on my facebook page.)

Georges Bensoussan, a French Jewish historian and activist against islamism (with quite some credentials in this field), in a debate on the radio (high-brow France-Culture almost nobody listens to) explains how widespread antisemitism in the French Muslim community makes it vulnerable to the islamists’ attempts to set it up against French society.

He then is accused of incitement to hatred against the Muslim community by professional anti-racism organisations, with the lead being taken by the CCIF (against islamophobia). Other anti-racist organisations join in, among which the venerable old LICRA (against racism and anti-semitism) with its star witness Mohamed Sifaoui, an Algerian journalist in France who is a very outspoken critic of islamism and at the same time very much maligned by the CCIF for being former PM Manuel Valls’s sidekick and by the CCIF’s followers for being a ‘zionist agent’, who explains his testimony against Bensoussan with the wish not to leave the defense of the French Muslims entirely to the CCIF.

Apart maybe from the CCIF, nobody seems to be thinking about the sketch Dieudonné is going to make on Bensoussan, who is also associated with the French Shoah memorial, if he is ever found guilty by the court of incitement to hatred against Muslims, as the public prosecutor demands (with a fine of €1.500), after debates at the trial that lasted for 12 hours (till 1h30 in the morning). The verdict will be pronounced on the 7th of March.

The judge, who is Mme Siredey-Garnier, in the meantime has published a sort of opinion piece in the ‘Gazette du Palais’ in which she contrasts the 12-hour long Bensoussan trial with other hearings where she has to decide on the fate of some 23 illegal immigrants in about the same amount of time. The idea she tries to put forward seems to be that the Bensoussan trial is merely about a symbolic matter whereas the other cases are about real lives. But she reminds herself of the trials of Flaubert, Zola, Baudelaire and Charlie, which were also held before the same tribunal (17me chambre), and promises to do her duty by giving every case the attention it deserves.

Her piece inspired me to write a last message in support of Georges Bensoussan that I secretly hope will come to her attention (in French) and that on my part is meant as a simple plea for sanity: “Pour ma part, j’espère seulement que le juge jouera pleinement son rôle de juge, et admettra d’autres considérations que celles introduites par les parties avant d’arriver à une conclusion. Comme par exemple le fait qu’il s’agissait d’un débat contradictoire à la radio, et que dans ce cas on ne peut attendre de personne qu’il pèse vraiment tous ses mots. Que Georges Bensoussan est certes responsable de sa parole, mais qu’il ne peut être tenu responsable de toutes les interprétations malveillantes que d’autres veulent en faire. En d’autres mots, que le juge se rend compte que devant un tribunal révolutionnaire Georges Bensoussan serait facilement condamné pour incitation à la haine raciale. Mais qu’il décide ensuite que devant le tribunal d’un état de droit comme la RF il ne le mérite aucunement. Et qu’il condamne chacune des parties civiles à €10.000 de dommages pour procédure abusive, harcèlement et atteinte à la réputation de Georges Bensoussan.”

http://www.marianne.net/agora-proces-bensoussan-reponse-mohamed-sifaoui-100249704.html

 

On the “Clash of Civilizations” in the Era of Trump

[NB: I wrote this last November, but forgot to post it. Better late than never, and given the reaction to Trump’s Executive Order about admitting people from seven Muslim-majority nations as feeding global Jihad, it seems still highly relevant.]

Pundits are worried that Donald Trump and team – Bannon, Flynn, Pompeo – are “bringing back” the clash of civilizations (back to 2001). This regression, we are told, is a dangerous move that will play right into the hands of the Jihadis. Notes Fawaz Gerges:

What Trump and his followers do not get is that their inflammatory rhetoric plays into the hands of ISIS and Al Qaeda, who labor hard to convince skeptical Muslims that the West is waging a war against Islam.

Indeed this sentiment inspired both Bush’s famous “Islam is a religion of peace” speech within a week of 9-11, and Obama’s aversion to any association of Islam with violence. “ISIS is not Islamic.” It goes along with hand phrases like, “We can’t go to war with 1.6 billion Muslims.”

Much has been written of late about the dangers of exaggerating things. Democrats/ Liberals/ Progressives exaggerate the flaws of their “right-wing” opponents, abusing terms like racism and xenophobia till it ceases to move people. Republicans/ Conservatives/ Realists paint with a broad brush, tarring all Islam with the stain of Jihadi extremism.

And the danger here involves not merely the outsiders who cease to respond to the exaggerated rhetoric intended to stampede them against those designated as “beyond the pale.” It also carries the danger of convincing true believers that the sky really is falling. In this sense, Trump may have won in part because his foes had so abused terms like racist and Islamophobe that some voters even warmed to him because he so openly mocked their politically correct strictures. And in the wake of his stunning victory (unforeseen in part because the mainstream of news and commentary so believed their own pack rhetoric), we now have “progressives” alarmed, even panicked, at the prospect of such a terrible man inhabiting the White House, a man so beyond the pale, that normalizing him would be Orwellian “newspeak.”

And yet the same folks who consider “normalizing Trump” an act of newspeak, would not dream of identifying the claim “Islam is a religion of peace,” as a variant on a central theme of newspeak: War means peace, peace means war. In fact Western infidels have formulated the problem of Islamic violence in a way that guarantees it won’t be understood, much less effectively addressed. Right now, certainly since the turn of the millennium, outside dealings with violent Muslims only made things worse

However well-intentioned, or defensive we infidels might be, whatever we do, we make it worse: if we appease, we invite further demands; if we push back, we elicit further hostility. And while we fail miserably to recognize danger and menace coming from without we consume our energies with internecine warfare between “left” and “right”: our tough cops assault our nice cops for being self-destructive fools, while our nice cops assault tough cops for their obscene and atrocious belligerence: each side correctly predicting the failure of the others’ strategies.

Meantime their tough cop (Jihadis) terrify, and their nice cops (Summoners) show us the path to proleptic dhimmitude, to submission. And the first and most important submission of the dhimmi is not to blaspheme, not to criticize, not to shame a Muslim publicly. Accusations of Islamophobia currently play the role of making substantive criticism of currents of Muslim religiosity impossible.

Thus what began as respectful, politically-correct concerns about not offending others, when applied to Muslims, has become so charged with anxiety (and fear) that anyone who addressed the more problematic aspects of Muslims response to the modern world, gets marginalized. As a result, serious discussion about “radical” and “moderate” Islam, and their relationships to each other and infidels, cannot take place, even though they’re key to responding to the challenge of global Jihad.

Reuel Mark Gerecht offers a fine example of the rhetoric that has made discussion so difficult. Even as he faults Obama for failing to address the issue at all, he then turns on the “anti-Islam crowd:

However, I do have a really big problem when certain individuals attempt to paint Islam, in all its 1400-plus years of glorious complexity, as a deranged civilization and faith, whose denizens and practitioners are somehow uniquely capable of violence because they are hard-wired to do so, via the Koran, the holy law, and whatever else the anti-Islam crowd thinks makes Muslims tick. This is just historically atrocious. It is often obscene.”

“Anti-Islam crowd thinks… deranged faith… Koran makes Muslims hard-wired for violence tick… just historically atrocious… often obscene.”

I’ve long learned to beware the term “just” used dismissively. It has a knack for pulling the rug out of a discussion: the anti-Islam crowd’s view of Islam and Muslims is just awful and tasteless, don’t listen to them. And yet, when one subjects Islam, Muslims, to historical scrutiny, it turns out that on just this subject of war and violence, Islam has the most expansive armory of sacred war phrases, which Mahdi warlords and their mujehaddin have used them, generation after generation, Mujadded after Mujadded, to wage war on Allah’s enemies. Any impartial assessment of the historical record on religious war and violence – thoughts and deeds – would fairly rank Islam at the top of the list in its intensity and recurrence. “Islam is a religion of peace,” as historical generalizations go, is about as misleading as one can possibly get to newspeak.

The Qur’an, the sayings, and the law in Islam all give a great deal of attention to non-believers – kufar, those who cover the truth – and much of it is distinctly hostile. War on the infidel qua unsubjected infidel, plays a role in Muslim thinking that has no parallel in any religion in recorded history known to me. For some Muslims (how many?) Jihad a religious vocation: it is a way of proving one’s fervor for Allah. Indeed it would seem fair to venture that historically and currently, Muslims have a lot of trouble dealing with the “infidel other.”

What attitudes and range of behavioral norms govern Muslim interaction with non-believers, those living within and outside of Dar al Islam? How to deal with dissenters and apostates, those whose voices challenge and undermine the faith’s hegemony? Just how important is it to Muslim identity that Islam’s destiny is Muslim rule over all other, false, religions? Where there was Dar al Harb (realm of war), there shall be Dar al Islam (submission). How many Muslims teach and how many learn that the meaning of Muhammad’s urging wala wa bara means “love your fellow Muslims and hate the infidels”?

How painful is the condition of Muslim believers in a modern world that subjects everything, Muhammad and the Qur’an included, into the same critical matrix. Fair treatment for Islam would be very embarrassing. it has thrown Moses and Jesus and their respective documents? And in what complex ways do Muslims deal with that pain? When the simple, arousing, absorbing, deadly appeal of jihadi triumphalism reaches young Muslims passionate about their faith, who can resist, how many are they, and what do they do to shut down the venue for violence.

These are all legitimate observations from the perspective of a free West, indeed one might even argue, indispensable observations. And yet, when weighed in the balance of Gerecht’s judgment, these historically-based observations, come out on the side of “atrocious and obscene.” It’s not that this is all there is to Islam, but that in its history, cases of hostility to religious “others” has led to “deranged [and destructive] episodes, repeatedly giving birth to “practitioners… uniquely capable of violence because they [we]re hard-wired to do so, via the Koran, the holy law,” the hadith, the histories, the tales of glory, the teaching of the global Caliphate. This is historically accurate. It’s Verités de la Palice. If it is “obscene,” one should ask: In whose eyes the offense?

The ability to disagree, to listen, to self-criticize, to empathize with other perspectives, has played a key role in success of civil polities. To talk about real issues, relevant issues, and try and understand them as best we can, is almost too self evident an activity to need defending. And yet, now, if one discusses such matters, rumblings of Islamophobia, of racism, of paranoia, of obscene and atrocious pronouncements, of a racist lack of empathy for the marginalized, for the not-privileged. This dynamic has led to a radical misunderstanding of the violent Muslim forces at play in these matters, initially concerning Israel, now a global phenomenon, come home to roost in your campuses, and even your halls of power.

Take a particularly critical topic: the emergence of sanctified suicide terror, the most potent weapon of global jihad in the 21st century. Historically speaking, one of the critical moments for apocalyptic movements, is when they go public. History is littered with the corpses of slain messiahs, including the most famous one of all. Most authorities throttle even peaceful millennial enthusiasm, a fortiori, millennial hostility. So when an apocalyptic death cult that believes they must destroy the world to save it appears, societies mobilize in opposition.

(Today, the vast majority of those killed by suicide bombing are Muslims.)

And yet, quite to the contrary, the first suicide-terror attacks were greeted with such unanimity on the Arab/Muslim street, that even the most staid theologians in Cairo, yielded to the pressure and legitimized both suicide and attacking civilians. The meme gave birth to a movement; the revenge poetry of pink mist. Certainly this is a tragedy for Muslims, who today, by far, suffer the most from this apocalyptic weapon unleashed upon their world.

The behavior of the West, however, was still more unusual. Rather than protesting this moral monstrosity, this paranoid hatred for a demonized “other” for whom one has no empathy – the Nazi formula – which was now reappearing in Islam, which threatened planetary peace itself. Western progressives, reacting to lethal reports of a “Jenin massacre,” cheered the Palestinian martyrs on, some wore mock belts in solidarity. In the history of civilizational-suicidal gestures, that ranks high, although the last 16 years have been very high in such incidents.

In the history of the millennial movement of global jihad, that moment in the early aughts (Spring, 2002), when infidels cheered on the most ominous new development in the war on themselves, will stand out as a major turning point. In their eagerness to believe in the IDF as Nazi, they, like the Arab theologians, threw out basic principles of humanity. It was a stunning loss of empathy for people who, only two generations earlier, had a special claim on European empathy.

And for whom did the progressives who shouted “We are Hamas!” in European capitals have empathy? For the Palestinian “people,” for their cause. The people whose culture had produced Hamas’ martyrdom operations, in which the apocalyptic meme of “pink mist” arose, designating that magic moment after explosion when your own blood mixes with the blood of your victims, and your soul ascends to heaven and your victims’ descend to hell. A case study of paranoid violence against an utterly demonized “other,” “martyrs” with no trace of empathy. So instead of identifying the phenomenon of martyrdom operation as a massive social problem, and more specifically, an tragic failure in even the most elementary forms of empathy, it cheered on the death cult as resistance, and protested when the autonomous infidel, under attack, defended.

Of course if Gerges and others were concerned with not radicalizing the Muslim world, they would have spoken out long ago against the own-goal lethal journalism that Western journalists and “progressive activists” have engaged in over the last decade and a half, depicting the Israelis as (Muslim) child-killers and the Western militaries as killers of hundreds of thousands of Muslims – when indeed and alas, Muslims kill many more Muslims than Westerners do.

#ASSO21C: How Kerry Knows Settlements an Obstacle to Peace

I’m a bit late on this one, but it’s such a good example of, and going into the list of Astoundingly Stupid Statements of the 21st Century, that I have to fisk it. Last year, before the Obama Administration’s final flurry of attacks on the Israeli settlements, at the Saban Forum, John Kerry denounced the settlements as a “barrier” to any peace settlement:

I’m not here to tell you that the settlements are the reason for the conflict. No, they’re not.

Unless, as the Palestinian leadership does, you define any Israeli presence a settlement, like Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Ashkelon. So Kerry agrees that the settlements – by which he means Israelis living on the “West Bank” (including East Jerusalem?), are not the cause of the conflict – obviously, since the conflict precedes the “occupation.”

But

…and you knew this was coming…

I also cannot accept the notion that they don’t affect the peace process, that they aren’t a barrier to the capacity to have peace.

And I’ll tell you why I know that: Because the left in Israel is telling everybody they are a barrier to peace, and the right that supports it [them?] openly supports it because they don’t want peace.

Now this is truly a piece of work, and all the more remarkable because he actually explicitly invokes this contrast as his proof of why they settlements are a barrier. Let’s take the two one at a time:

Traduction française de mon article sur Edward Said et la Culture d’honneur et de honte

French translation of my article, “‘Celebrating’ Orientalism,” by Magali Marc and published at Dreuz.
Traduit par MAGALI MARC le 29 JANVIER 2017

 

 

Pour les lecteurs de Dreuz, j’ai traduit ce fort long texte, un exposé magistral d’un grand ami de Dreuz, Richard Landes*, qui est à lire absolument et à faire lire à nos amis bien-intentionnés mais mal informés, gauchistes, pacifistes, pro-palestiniens, anti-islamophobes, pasdamalgamistes, si tant est qu’ils soient encore nos amis…

La victoire de l’Orientalisme
Par Richard Landes
(publié dans le Middle-East Quarterly du site Middle East Forum)
Hiver 2017

Que l’on considère l’impact d’Edward Saïd (1935-2003) sur le monde universitaire comme un grand triomphe ou comme une tragique catastrophe, peu de gens peuvent remettre en question l’étonnante portée et la pénétration de son magnum opus, L’Orientalisme.

En une génération, une transformation radicale a dominé les études du Moyen-Orient : une nouvelle catégorie d’universitaires «post-coloniaux», ayant une perspective libératrice et anti-impérialiste, a remplacé une génération d’érudits que Saïd a dénigrés en les traitant d’«Orientalistes».

Cette transformation ne se limitait pas aux études du Moyen-Orient : Saïd et son paradigme post-colonial réunissaient un large éventail d’acolytes dans de nombreux domaines des sciences sociales et humaines.

Pourtant, quand on examine les événements des deux dernières décennies, on peut dire que les héritiers académiques de Saïd se sont plantés de façon spectaculaire dans leurs analyses et prescriptions concernant la façon dont il fallait s’y prendre pour régler les problèmes du Moyen-Orient.

Nulle part cela n’a été aussi évident que dans la lecture erronée du désastreux «processus de paix» israélo-palestinien d’Oslo et des fameux «printemps arabes» qui se sont rapidement détériorés en vagues de guerres tribales et sectaires, créant des millions de réfugiés, dont beaucoup ont littéralement détruit les malheureux rivages de l’Europe.

Une grande partie de cet échec peut être attribuée aux restrictions imposées par la pensée postcoloniale sur la capacité de discuter de la dynamique sociale et politique du Moyen-Orient. Si les experts et les journalistes ont été hypnotisés par les perspectives de paix arabo-israélienne et le mirage d’une vague de démocratisation arabe, c’est en partie parce qu’ils avaient systématiquement sous-estimé le rôle de la culture d’honneur et de honte dans les sociétés arabes et musulmanes et son impact sur la religiosité islamique.

La dynamique «honneur-honte» dans les dimensions politique et religieuse

Les termes honneur-honte désignent des cultures où l’acquisition, l’entretien et la restauration de l’honneur public triomphent de toutes les autres préoccupations.

Alors que tout le monde se soucie de ce que les autres pensent et veut sauver la face même si cela signifie mentir, dans les cultures d’honneur et de honte, ces préoccupations dominent le discours public : il n’y a pas de prix trop élevé à payer– y compris la vie– pour préserver l’honneur.

Dans de telles cultures politiques, l’opinion publique accepte, attend, exige même que le sang soit versé pour l’honneur.

Dans de telles sociétés, quand les gens critiquent publiquement ceux qui sont au pouvoir– ceux qui ont l’honneur– ils attaquent leur être même. Si ces derniers ne répondaient pas– de préférence par la violence– ils perdraient la face.

Les sociétés autoritaires permettent donc à leurs mâles dominants de supprimer violemment ceux dont les paroles les offensent.

Conséquemment, les cultures d’honneur et de honte ont une immense difficulté à tolérer la liberté d’expression, de religion, de la presse tout autant que de traiter avec les sociétés qui pratique cette tolérance.

Dans les cultures où les gens se font eux-mêmes justice, cette insistance sur l’honneur peut signifier tuer quelqu’un qui a tué un parent, et dans la culture japonaise, l’honneur peut signifier se suicider.

Cependant, dans certaines cultures d’honneur, cette préoccupation signifie tuer un membre de la famille pour sauver l’honneur de la famille. Le «jugement public», dont le verdict détermine le sort de la communauté demeure le vecteur qui motive le besoin de sauver la face, et définit les façons de faire. Le terme arabe pour «commérage» est kalam an-nas, (la parole du peuple), qui est souvent sévère dans son jugement des autres.

À ce sujet, le psychologue Talib Kafaji a écrit :

«La culture arabe est une culture de jugement, et tout ce qu’une personne fait est sujet au jugement… induisant de nombreuses peurs… avec de graves conséquences sur la vie individuelle. Éviter ce jugement peut être la préoccupation constante des gens, presque comme si toute la culture était paralysée par le kalam [an] –nas.»

Autrement dit, dans la société arabe, tous les individus sont les otages les unes des autres.

En dépit de sa résonnance «orientaliste», cette attention à un jugementalisme paralysant et omniprésent fournit des aperçus importants sur les dysfonctionnements du monde arabe d’aujourd’hui.

Les cultures d’honneur et de honte ont tendance à être à somme nulle : les hommes d’honneur gardent jalousement leur honneur et considèrent l’ascension des autres comme une menace pour eux-mêmes. Dans les cultures à somme nulle de «bien limité», l’honneur pour une personne signifie la honte pour les autres. Si l’autre gagne, vous perdez. Afin que vous ayez le dessus, l’autre doit perdre.

Ceux qui sont juste en dessous continuent de défier ceux qui sont juste au-dessus, et l’ascension n’est possible que par l’agression. Tu n’es pas un homme tant que tu n’as pas tué un autre homme. La prise des biens d’autrui –par le vol ou le pillage– est supérieure à la production. Domine ou soit dominé. Le visage noirci (de la honte) est lavé dans le sang (de l’honneur).

Cette même mentalité dite «à somme nulle», «gouverne-ou-soit-gouverné», qui domine la plupart des interactions dans la politique des cultures d’honneur et de honte, a son analogie dans la religiosité du triomphalisme, la croyance que la domination de sa religion sur les autres constitue la preuve de la vérité de cette religion.

De la même manière que les chrétiens ont pris la conversion de l’Empire romain au Christianisme comme un signe que leurs revendications sur les Juifs avaient triomphé ; les musulmans triomphalistes, dans une expression suprême de la religiosité inspirée par l’honneur, croient que l’islam est une religion de domination destinée à gouverner le monde.

Cette dynamique d’honneur et de honte explique en grande partie l’hostilité arabe et musulmane envers Israël, ainsi qu’envers l’Occident.

Israël, un État de Juifs libres (c’est-à-dire, des infidèles non-dhimmis), vivant à l’intérieur du Dar al-Islam historique (royaume de la soumission), constitue un blasphème vivant. La capacité d’Israël à survivre aux efforts répétés des Arabes pour le détruire constitue un état permanent de honte arabe devant toute la communauté mondiale. Cela fait de l’hostilité musulmane triomphaliste envers Israël un cas particulièrement grave d’une hostilité généralisée envers les infidèles et les musulmans «modérés».

Tout effort pour comprendre ce qui se passe dans le monde arabe aujourd’hui doit tenir compte de cette dynamique religio-culturelle.

Pourtant, dans l’ensemble, cette dynamique n’est pas seulement ignorée, mais ceux qui en parlent sont réprimandés pour (prétendument) contribuer à aggraver le conflit plutôt que de le comprendre.

Une grande partie de cette ignorance (à la fois active et intransitive) remonte à Saïd, qui a fait de l’analyse «honneur-honte» un péché «orientaliste» particulièrement impardonnable.

Avant même que n’arrive la contribution de Saïd, l’anthropologie s’était éloignée de cette analyse. Lui en a fait un dogme. A tel point que, dans le dernier tiers du XXe siècle, il est devenu paradoxalement honteux– voire raciste– qu’un anthropologue discute de l’«honneur et de la honte» arabe ou musulmane.

La honte de Saïd et la désorientation de l’Occident

L’Orientalisme de Saïd a exploité une tendance occidentale à l’autocritique morale concernant l’analyse des autres cultures, dans le but de protéger son peuple de la honte. Pour lui, la critique des Arabes ou des musulmans reflète les préjugés ethnocentriques de l’Occident et de son projet culturel discriminatoire de domination impérialiste.

Ce n’était pas ce que les orientalistes croyaient faire, eux pensaient qu’ils offraient des observations précises concernant les caractéristiques et les conditions d’une autre culture et de son histoire.

Pour Saïd, au contraire, tout contraste entre les cultures de l’Occident démocratique et celles des Arabes et des musulmans– certainement ceux qui montraient ces derniers sous une lumière peu flatteuse– étaient des exemples lamentables de xénophobie hostile dirigée contre des «inférieurs», et ne pouvaient pas constituer une réflexion sur une réalité sociale.

À propos du dix-neuvième siècle, Saïd a écrit : «Tout Européen qui parlait de l’Orient était raciste, impérialiste et presque totalement ethnocentrique».

Saïd a lancé un plaidoyer en faveur d’une alternative : il fallait à tout prix éviter d’orientaliser l’Orient, encore et encore.

Sans l’«Orient» il y aurait des érudits, des critiques, des intellectuels, des êtres humains pour lesquels les distinctions raciales, ethniques et nationales seraient moins importantes que l’entreprise commune dans la promotion de la communauté humaine.

Bien compris, cet appel demande aux chercheurs de ne pas parler de différences ethniques, raciales ou religieuses, alors que la plupart des moyen-orientaux vous diront que ce sont des questions culturelles très importantes pour eux.

Ainsi, dans la nouvelle édition d’«Orientalisme» publiée en 1994, SaÏd se plaignait-il de la focalisation croissante de l’Occident sur le danger que représente l’islam : «les médias électroniques et imprimés ont été inondés par des stéréotypes dégradants qui amalgament l’islam et le terrorisme, les Arabes et la violence, l’Orient et la tyrannie.»

Linda Sarsour’s tweet on those who disagree with her

Linda Sarsour, the controversial but highly acclaimed co-chair of the Women’s March, tweeted out her good will towards those who disagree with her.

I think this raises some important questions. First, what does it mean to bring in love in these matters? Normally the formula is “we can disagree and I can still listen to you, tolerate you, interact with you civilly.”

Second, what kind of conditional is that? Who decides when disagreement “is rooted in her oppression, in denial of her humanity? She does? What if her definition of what “oppresses,” “denies her humanity,” threatens her “right to exist” is extremely sensitive? What if she takes offense at the disagreement by claiming it threatens her very being?

And what happens then? Does she hate those she disagrees with?

French Jewish Historian Sued Over ‘Far-Right Rhetoric’ Against Muslims

The use of accusations of Islamophobia to enforce Caliphater blasphemy codes and block the expression of any criticism of Muslims in Europe has long been acknowledged. The most disturbing trend in this verbal warfare is to criminalize Islamophobia as “hate speech.” Today in France we have a good example of this problem.

French Jewish Historian Sued Over ‘Far-Right Rhetoric’ Against Muslims

(JTA) — One of the world’s leading historians on the Jewish communities in Arab countries is being prosecuted in France for alleged hate speech against Muslims.

The Morocco-born French-Jewish scholar Georges Bensoussan, 64, is due to appear next month before a Paris criminal court over a complaint filed against him for incitement to racial hatred by the Collective Against Islamophobia in France, the group recently announced on its website.

Note that Bensoussan is the author of the first book on the new Anti-Semitism of the 21st century, Les territoires perdus de la République (2002), in English, The Lost Territories of the Republic. It chronicled the way in which a vicious anti-Semitic (and anti-French) hate speech had taken over many schools in France, especially in the banlieues (Zones Urbaines Sensibles). He published it under the protective pseudonym of Emmanuel Brenner.

The complaint, which leading French scholars dismissed as attempt at “intimidation” in a statement Friday, was over remarks about anti-Semitism by Muslims that Bensoussan, author of a definitive 2012 work entitled “Jews in Arab Lands,” made last year during an interview aired by the France Culture radio station, the Collective said.

The Collective based its complaint on two remarks by Bensoussan.

« Aujourd’hui nous sommes en présence d’un autre peuple au sein de la nation française, qui fait régresser un certain nombre de valeurs démocratiques qui nous ont portés….».

“Today, we are witnessing a different people in the midst of the French nation, who have a regressive effect on a certain number of democratic values to which we adhere…” read the first quote flagged.

From an empirical point of view, this is simple observation. Anyone who is familiar with the behavior of French Muslims in these “zones urbaines sensibles” knows the degree to which they show open contempt for democratic principles and norms: shame-murders, butchering teachers in front of the class, rapacious looting, exclusion of women from public places, taking over public space (main roads) for prayer, murders, rapes and assaults. And all of this, while it might have appeared before, became much more pronounced in the 21st century.
You can argue these are not all French Muslims. But you cannot argue that the culture their deeds reflect, is merely marginal to the French Muslim community. The voice of a violent, triumphalist, Muslim rap holds a place of power within that community, especially among youth, and in that world, Muhammad Merah, who filmed himself gunning down little Jewish children outside a school in Toulouse, is a hero. He is a “real man,” like Usama.

An Earlier Earthquake in the Jewish World: Response to Eva Illouz

Haaretz passed on publishing an earlier draft of this response to a piece it had published. #Shocker

It was subsequently published in a shortened form at The Algemeiner.

An Earlier Earthquake in the Jewish World: Response to Eva Illouz

Richard Landes

Eva Illouz wrote a dramatic New Year’s piece for Ha-aretz, in which she accuses fellow Jews who support Trump of falling prey to messianic fantasies and “betraying Jews, Jewish history and humanity,” and claiming for the “liberal Jews” like herself, the sole mantle of “authentic opposition to anti-Semitism.” Invoking Freud’s definition of the uncanny (das Unheimliche), or the anguishing sense that behind the familiar lies something profoundly foreign and menacing, she claims that “the [Trump-riddled] world at the beginning of 2017 elicits the same feeling of the uncanny: It is the same old world we knew, yet we sense it has become inhabited by foreign ghosts, hybrid creatures never seen before.”

This striking image of uncanny recognition among the familiar, so brilliantly explored in the Body Snatchers, reminded me of my own experience of the uncanny, back in 2000, at a time where, dissident that I was, I found my home on the left. Then, suddenly, I realized that fellow Jews – good, smart, imaginative Jews, people I loved to talk with, argue with, struggle with – had suddenly become deaf to the cries of their own people, faced with the unleashing of a terrifying hatred. When you told them that every criticism of Israel that they leveled was true many times over among our enemies, they indignantly declared, “Don’t compare Israel with the Arabs.” Instead, they rushed to announce “as a Jew,” that they abhorred the abominations committed by Israel.

Somehow, for these uncanny Jews, their moral urgency about Israeli crimes went hand in hand with a corresponding reluctance to discuss Palestinian behavior. “Don’t change the subject.” “What choice do they have?” “Don’t demonize the Palestinian people.” “One person’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter.” “We’re worse terrorists.”

And yet, within this matrix of alternating moral indifference to Palestinians (and other Jihadis), and hysteria about Israelis, arose a reckless cognitive disorientation, uncannily sustained by alter-juifs who felt compelled to denounce their own people. Palestinian hostility, unreported, unexamined, unrecognized for the horrendous, genocidal hatreds it harbored, could be inserted into a post-colonial narrative in which Israel was the colonial, racist, Goliath and the Palestinians the indigenous victims, the plucky Davids or, alternatively, the victims of Israel-Nazi genocide.

Thus genocidal Jihadis could masquerade in the global public sphere as heroic “resistance fighters,” struggling for “human rights.” Protesters of Israeli brutality proudly proclaimed their identification with genocidal Jihadi groups.

We are Hamas London 2009

And if these lethal narratives of Israelis and images of Palestinian suffering inflamed the West, driving even good Jews to distraction, then how much the more did it inflame Muslims the world over. They confirmed again and again, the global Jihadi narrative: Jews were killing innocent Muslims with impunity! The final battle against those who wish to destroy Islam – Israel and the West – has begun. Progressive leftist, alter-juifs, and Jihadis shared a common messianic enemy: destroy Israel (and American hegemony) for world peace!

For-World-Peace-Israel-Must-Be-Destroyed

The uncanny at the turn of the millennium, then, went far beyond the progressive Jews and their “friends.” For, alas, this exercise in self-laceration, of prophetic rebuke of one’s own people under attack, took place in the cyberspace-enhanced global public sphere. There malevolent minds, enthralled at any news of Jews (a fortiori sovereign Jews) behaving badly, eagerly devoured the uncanny “self-”accusations of “righteous Jews.” After 2000, comparisons of Israel with the Nazis went mainstream on the progressive Left. In the new replacement narrative, the Al Durah icon “replaced, erased,” that of the boy in the Warsaw Ghetto, just as Gaza replaced that ghetto in the compassionate heart of haters of Zion. The Israeli Goliath – already an uncanny image –morphed into the Israeli Nazi: the secular Antichrist. This marriage of pre-modern sadism and post-modern masochism, this Antichrist Israel, was sanctified at Durban in 2001, where the cult of Al Durah presided as patron saint.

Demonstration during Durban. Al Durah effigy in bottom center.

Demonstration during Durban. Al Durah effigy in bottom center.

Four days later, 9-11 brought a shower of Schadenfreude, from professed lovers of freedom.

Of course, the fiercest foes of Jewish freedom, from the supersessionists, to the most delirious Judeophobes, embraced this replacement narrative with glee. And, insofar as they thought themselves progressive, this glee worked much to their own damage and to the damage of a progressive and peaceful world. When, in 2002, drunk on a wave of lethal journalism about the IDF “massacre” at Jenin, demonstrators wore mock suicide belts to cheer on the Palestinian “resistance,” they actually helped glorify a terrible new apocalyptic weapon, blight of the new century, soon to be turned on their own people and other Muslims. Tony Judt’s response to the wave of outrage at reports of Israel’s “massacre” at Jenin, spoke for many a progressive Jew: in the pages of the NYRB, he complained that Israel’s misbehavior puts innocent, good, Jews, like himself in danger! In his estimation, it was time for Israel, relic of nationalist and imperialist currents of the past, to retire from history.

The uncanny horror first happened for me in 2000 – witnessing the reaction of Jewish progressives to the sight of their own people – the only sovereign Jews in the world – fighting off a suicidally vicious Palestinian onslaught and joining together with movements that celebrated those hatreds. Rather than acknowledge the failure of Israel’s good faith efforts at a positive-sum peace, when faced with deeply nurtured hatred, and their own disastrous advice to ignore belligerent signs in the PA and go on with the “peace process,” “liberals” preferred turning against the “right-wingers” whom Israelis elected to clean up the disaster that they themselves had wrought with the Oslo “peace” process.

hartford_courant

When Eva Illouz deplores today’s “right wing” pro-Trumpers as people for whom “Nationalism has replaced historical memory as the nexus of Jewish institutions and Jewish identity,” she might think about the several times that Jewish internationalism has done just that; these are “foreign ghosts, hybrid creatures” we have, alas, “seen before.” When she claims that “only liberal Jews in Israel and in the democratic world can claim to be the authentic opponents of anti-Semitism,” she might consider the decades of terrifying, uncanny, unrepentant behavior among those (claiming to be) liberals, behavior that has enabled and globally promoted the most poisonous of Jew-hatreds, thereby feeding global Jihad, the worst imperialist movement of our day.

If, instead of penning alarmed and divisive rants that prolong the earthquake about which she warns, she were to introspect, she might find the empathy to understand her fellow Jews who find the persistence of progressive Jews and Israelis in promoting anti-Semitic anti-Zionism in the global public sphere uncanny, something that has terrified those of us who do track anti-Semitism, over the centuries and millennia.

At the same time, she might find the self criticism to consider how those who reject the global left’s moral leadership are not deplorables, and why the decision of her fellow progressive Jews to partner with wolves in progressive clothing who grotesquely accuse Israel of genocide, has made them just as uncanny to their fellow Jews who disagree, as these critics – some now Trumpists from “anger and despair” – are unrecognizable to them.

Indeed, she might even ponder the possibility that Obama’s policies, perceived by many, including some pretty smart people, as civilizationally suicidal, might have contributed to a popular abreaction, without which a candidate like Trump could never have “taken” with the American public, including with some Jews.

Then, in that silence and opening borne of self-reflection, maybe sane, progressive, tribal, Jewish voices might arise above the din of civilizational madness that grows louder every year in this troubled dawn of the new millennium.

 

Alt-Mid to Alt-Lib: The far right’s new fascination with the Middle Ages

The Economist recently published a piece on the renewed interest in the Middle Ages. Like “fakenews” and “anti-semitism” these are issues that have been alive and well for over two decades without the WMSNM paying much attention. Now that they can be attributed to the “far-right,” they’re back in vogue as “new.” The piece is intellectually as disturbing as its claims about the “right’s” fascination with the MA: it offers a flattened MA, tailored as a refutation of the tribal emotions so common among people back then.

The far right’s new fascination with the Middle Ages

Jan 2nd 2017, 12:05 BY S.N. | CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA

UNTIL fairly recently, it was rare to find Americans who were passionate about both medieval history and contemporary politics.

Guess that makes me, who am writing a book subtitled A Medievalist’s Guide to the 21st Century, rare.

Barring the odd Christian conservative, medievalists tended to lean left: a Marxist grad student, say, mucking around in land ownership patterns to show how past inequalities gave birth to present ones,

NB: not to show how much past inequalities have been overcome, even though none of these Marxists would choose to live in the inequities of the Middle Ages.

or an environmentalist activist, perhaps, fascinated with vegetable-dyed handspun clothing.

I certainly don’t fit either “type,” despite having been accused of being “marxicisant” by Dominique Barthelemy because I thought peasants thought (demotic religiosity) and their actions, based on that thought, especially at the advent of apocalyptic dates, like 1000, was consequential.

My regret is that we have not seen more medievalists work on the rural and urban commune movement of the new millennium (11-13th centuries)… lay textual communities, laboratories of civil society, adumbrations of democracies to come.

But when Americans invoked historical events in politics, they tended to be more recent—the founding of the republic; the struggle against slavery and segregation; victory over Nazi Germany.

This has changed. Since the September 11th attacks, the American far right has developed a fascination with the Middle Ages and the Renaissance—in particular, with the idea of the West as a united civilisation that was fending off a challenge from the East.

Had the “mainstream” of the public sphere, alerted by honest information professionals, developed an interest in medieval apocalyptic beliefs and “holy war,” which might have made Al Qaeda and Hamas more understandable as apocalyptic global imperialists, radicals might have been embarrassed to be associated with the folly of seeing them as “resistance warriors” just like us.

We are Hamas London 2009

Anti-Israel Rally, London, January 2009

An Earlier Earthquake in the Jewish World: Response to Eva Illouz

Eva Illouz wrote a dramatic New Year’s piece for Ha-aretz, in which she accuses fellow Jews who support Trump of falling prey to messianic fantasies and “betraying Jews, Jewish history and humanity,” and claiming for the “liberal Jews” like herself, the sole mantle of “authentic opposition to anti-Semitism.” Invoking Freud’s definition of the uncanny (das Unheimliche), or the anguishing sense that behind the familiar lies something profoundly foreign and menacing, she claims that “the [Trump-riddled] world at the beginning of 2017 elicits the same feeling of the uncanny: It is the same old world we knew, yet we sense it has become inhabited by foreign ghosts, hybrid creatures never seen before.”

An earthquake in the Jewish world

A feeling of the uncanny accompanies the start of the new year, as Jews witness their religious and political leaders aligning themselves with anti-Semites and anti-democrats | Opinion

By Eva Illouz | Jan. 1, 2017/Rewritten by Richard Landes,  Jan 1, 2003

Over the last three years (2000-2003), like many others, I have followed the news with an undefinable mixture of dismay, fascination and terror. When reality evades our grasp, we may reach for familiar concepts to cope with its elusiveness.

In 1919 Sigmund Freud wrote a short essay, called “The Uncanny” (“Das Unheimliche,” in German), in which he attempted to understand a particular kind of anxiety and fear elicited by art or literature (for example, the tales of E.T.A. Hoffmann) or events (such as recurring coincidences), the uncanny. Unheimlich is the opposite of Heimlich, the familiar, domestic and homey.

Freud’s stroke of genius consisted in understanding that psychically “unheimlich” is not the opposite of “heimlich,” but rather a sub-category of it: It is the strange that occurs within the home, as when a child looks at the face of his mother and suddenly senses that behind her face hides a ghost or a witch (countless horror movies tap into the feeling of the uncanny, turning grandparents, parents or children into possessed creatures). The uncanny is thus the very special form of terror we feel when we look at someone or something that is familiar, yet fail to recognize it. It is the anxiety that derives from actually seeing a foreign creature in the well-known body and face.

The world at the beginning of 2003 elicits the same feeling of the uncanny: It is the same old world we knew, yet we sense it has become inhabited by foreign ghosts, hybrid creatures never seen before.

The “moral leaders of the democratic world, the global progressive left,” uphold undemocratic values reminiscent of the world that the United States crushed only 70 years ago (the name of Goebbels been frequently evoked in the context of Charles Enderlin, with regard to the vicious war propaganda he has disseminated, promoting global Jihad, not rebuked but emulated and admired by his colleagues). This man is far closer in war propaganda journalism, to the Palestinian journalists who concoct footage to spur their people to hatred, than to any “modern” journalist who takes his professional commitments seriously. The Western interference in Israeli affairs, executed with the active collaboration of academia and the Mainstream news media – the apple of the left’s progressive eye, of the presumed guardians of “truth” of “bearing honest witness,and bringing social justicerevealing to all forces that undermine Western civil polities from within its epicenter. Two specters now haunt the world, and seem to have taken possession of its soul: the past specter of the mad messianic wars of the Middle Ages and the future one, of an auto-induced newspeak.

But perhaps most unheimlich of all are the new alliances that have materialized in the Jewish world. The new century/millennium brought, an alliance of a kind never seen before, between Jewish progressive groups, a large percentage of secular Jews (in both the U.S. and Israel), and Jihadi associates and supporters, the same who, during and after the wild protests against Israel, cheered mischievously at Palestinian and Arab Hitler admirers, whose own genocidal meme, “drive the Jews into the sea!” we hear loud and clear on our campuses, with the “social justice” cry, “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.

Fake News and Queer Theory: Feminists on Anti-Semitism at Hebrew U.

This post is now up at Times of Israel.

I just attended a session at the Sassoon Center for Antisemitism at Hebrew University on Sartre and the Jewish Question.

11:15-13:15 Session 3 Sartre, Fanon, and the Subject of Decolonization

Chair: Martina Weisz, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Louise Bethlehem, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem Sartre, Fanon and the Subject of Decolonialization: Preliminary Remarks

Vinzia Fiorino, University of Pisa Jean Paul Sartre, “Frantz Fanon and Carla Lonzi: a Bizarre Genealogy”

Nina Fischer, University of Edinburgh “Minor (Transnational) Intersections: Jews and Aboriginal Australians between Anti-Semitism and Racism”

Sarika Talve-Goodman, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem “Blackness and the Body in a Transnational Frame: From ‘Anti-Semite and Jew’ to Black Lives Matter”

Revital Madar, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem “A Moment of Inconsistency: Letting the Black Body into the Sphere of Western Humanity”

About half way through the introductory remarks by Bethlehem I realized I was actually witnessing the kind of parody that I had only imagined in reading Judith Butler: a presentation thick with feminist, queer theory, jargon, promoting a radical (even messianic) political agenda of liberation and authenticity, that, among others, considered axiomatic the identity of Black and Palestinian suffering; and the corresponding racism of Israelis and American whites.

Sarika Talve-Goodman traced an arc of “racially marked bodies unfit for personhood,” and the “heterosexism” that drove this inhumane way of treating the “other,” from European racist imperialism (Fanon) through Israeli treatment of Palestinians and police treatment of Blacks in the US. In her “intersectional and herstorical perspective,” all this is part of a liberationist agenda aimed at challenging “violent imperial masculinity” with “a theory of sexuality” that promotes a “non-homophobic, non-racist politics.”

All of this discourse might just have been an academic matter, amusing to some, obviously very grave from the perspective of its performers.  But these revolutionaries take their vocation seriously. These were not theoretical speculations divorced from the real world, but attempting at least, to engage the world, and presumably, to influence the world, profoundly. And part of the movement involves making common cause with other victims of hierarchical (state, hetero-patriarchy) interventions.

(Talve-Goodman advertised her approach as offering to “open our collective eyes to new dimensions of state interventions into our lives.”)

Ferguson, she asserted, became “ground zero” in the global struggle against racism. “For a moment, Ferguson became the world.”  And in that moment, that the Palestinian and Black movements came together in intersectional solidarity. The brave new alliance of the coming years of world struggle against racism.