Radical Thoughts on Fighting BDS

I was just on a panel at the IDC Herzliya Conference about BDS and Europe. [My remarks made to the panel treated BDS as a cogwar campaign to destroy Israel, one of the most More »

Student Email to Pessin Describes SGA Meeting of March 26

In this student email to Pessin, a member of the Student Government Association describes how the body was pressured into throwing out procedure and rushing through a condemnation of Pessin. Later, Aparna More »

Richard Landes, “Antisemitism’s Fatal Attraction: The Global Progressive Left, the Jihadi Right And Israel” March 30, 2015

Richard Landes,“Antisemitism’s Fatal Attraction: The Global Progressive Left, the Jihadi Right And Israel…” from ISGAP on Vimeo. Richard Landes,“Antisemitism’s Fatal Attraction: The Global Progressive Left, the Jihadi Right And Israel…” from ISGAP More »

Nuggets from the Pessin Affair: For Inclusiveness against Essentializing

As those following this blog know, I’ve been uploading documents on the Pessin Affair, a remarkable and terrifying moment when Connecticut College became Salem on the Thames. As I sift through the More »

Some Recent Videos of Richard Landes

    At an Anti-BDS Conference at University of Baltimore Law School organized by SPME, April 27, 2015:   At BU Conference on Apocalyptic Jihad, May 4, 2015:     Sur I24 More »

Pessin Archive: Faculty Dissent, Alex Hybel on the Coercive Atmosphere at ConnColl, March 31

I publish this email with the permission of the author. It was written the day after twelve departments had published “community statements” denouncing (without naming him) Andrew Pessin’s “hate speech.” Among those published was that of his own Department of Government and International Relations, which Hybel signed, and the English Department, which Jeff Strabone refused to sign.

Alex Hybel, Tuesday March 31.

Dear Colleagues,

The thoughts I am about to express below are mine and mine alone.  I am NOT writing on behalf of my colleagues in the Department of Government and International Relations.

I am troubled by decision on the part of the student who expressed outrage for Jeff Strabone’s unwillingness to sign his [English] department’s letter, and her/his offer to “help facilitate” Jeff’s class.

I do not question the student’s right to express her/his indignation, nor even her/his belief to suggest that he or she has the background and knowledge to enlighten him and members of his class.

I do not question the emotional and psychological pain many of our faculty and students have experienced as a result of the hurtful and spiteful comments voiced by certain members of our community, nor the need on our part to create an environment in which ideas are exchanged in a respectful manner.

What troubles me is that in my view the student’s action is the direct result of a climate of intolerance and intimidation that has been brewing for some time and emerged fully during the email exchange by a small group of faculty this weekend.  They implicitly threatened that if departments did not issue official statements, their absence would be noted on a list circulated under the guise of “transparency.” Such individuals are being guided by the unfounded belief that they have a clear vision of what our community should stand for, and seem determined to impose that idea on the rest of us.

I spent part of my teenage years being told by a fascist regime what to think and how to behave, and a substantial portion of my academic life studying fascist political regimes and the conditions that led to their development.  Though I cannot argue that all such conditions are present at our institution, the one characteristic that those regimes have in common is the commitment to “re-educate” those who have yet to ascend to their level of enlightenment, and to outcast those who refuse to accept their “guidance.”  That feature is very much alive at our institution. 

Whether intentionally or unintentionally, a few members of our community are robbing faculty and students of the opportunity to voice contrarian ideas for fear that if they did they would be disparaged and shunned.   More importantly they are robbing our students of the opportunity to experiment with different ideas, to be contrarian, and to leave our institution with the realization that what we have taught them is how to think, not what to believe.  If we fail to accomplish that end, then we should no longer view ourselves as a liberal institution.

Sincerely,

Alex Roberto Hybel

The “New” 21st Century Anti-Semitism: A Brief Bibliography

I list here all the earliest works that identified a new wave of Western Anti-Semitic sentiments that literally exploded on the scene in the wake of the reporting on the Second Intifada (aka Al Aqsa Intifada, the Oslo Jihad) in October 2000. If anyone has others to suggest, please recommend them.

Shmuel Trigano, ed., Observatoire du Monde Juif (November 2000-2004)

Pierre-André Taguieff, La nouvelle judéophobie (Mille et une nuits, Paris, January 2002); English tr. Rising From the Muck: The New Anti-Semitism in Europe (Ivan R. Dee, NY, 2004).

Emmanuel Brenner et al., Les territoires perdus de la République: antisémitisme, racisme et sexisme en milieu scolaire (Mille et une nuits, Paris, 2002; English: The Lost Territories of the Republic (American Jewish Committee, New York, 2006).

Phyllis Chesler, The New Anti-Semitism: The Current Crisis and What We Must Do About It (Jossey Bass, NY, July 2003, revised edition, Gefen, Jerusalem, 2015)

Manfred Gerstenfeld, Europe’s Crumbling Myths: The Post-Holocaust Origins of Today’s Anti-Semitism (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Jerusalem, 2003)

A New Anti-Semitism? Debating Judeophobia in 21st Century Britain, ed. Iganski and Kosmin (Profile Books, London, 2003);

Gabriel Schonfeld, The Return of Antisemitism (Encounter Books, NY 2004);

Paul Giniewski, Antisionisme: le nouvel antisémitisme (Cheminements, Angers, 2005)

Fiamma Nierenstein, Terror: The New Anti-Semitism and the War against the West (Smith and Kraus, Hanover NH, 2005

Old Demons, New Debates: Anti-Semitism in the West, ed. David Kerzer (Holmes and Meier, Teaneck NJ, 2005).

Pessin Archive: “Community Statements” in Chronological Order

All statements are taken from the page at the Office of Equity and Inclusion. There they are in reverse chronological order. So one can understand the scope of this phenomenon, I list the organizations making statements first:

March 24
Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE), 
Department of History
Holleran Center and OVCS
Student Government Association
Class of 2017 President
March 25
Global Islamic Studies Program
Department of Human Development
March 26
Department of Theater
Department of Sociology
Connecticut College Hillel
Department of Religious Studies
March 27
Department of Gender and Women’s Studies
Department of Environmental Studies, Department of Botany and Goodwin-Niering Center for the Environment
Ammerman Center for Arts and Technology
Department of Art
Department of Education
Department of Biology
March 28
Department of Art History and Architectural Studies
Department of Slavic Studies
Department of Italian Studies
Department of Hispanic Studies
Department of Psychology
Department of English
March 29
Department of Dance
American Studies Program
Department of Philosophy
Film Studies Program
Department of Music
March 30
Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures
Department of German Studies
Department of Classics
Department of Anthropology
Department of Government and International Relations
Department of Physics, Astronomy and Geophysics
Department of Chemistry
Department of Athletics and Physical Education
Department of Computer Science
Class of 2105 President
Department of French
Department of Mathematics
March 31
Toor Cummings Center for International Studies & the Liberal Arts
Department of Economics
April 2
Alumni Association Board of Directors
April 12
East Asian Studies Student Advisory Board
April 26
Office of Sustainability


Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity (CCSRE)

March 24, 2015

In response to the many events that transpired on campus prior to and during spring break regarding a Facebook post by a member of our faculty, the CCSRE would like to clearly state that we do not condone speech filled with bigotry and hate particularly when that speech uses dehumanizing language and incites or celebrates violence and brutality.

We make this public statement with particular attention to those students, staff, and faculty whose identities and affiliations position them as the targets of such speech. We feel a public statement that directly names the harm of bias incidents is essential to supporting the well-being of various members of the Connecticut College community, their right to educational opportunity, and their right to work in a non-hostile environment. We will continue to play our part in creating spaces for productive engagements around inclusive excellence. We look forward to collaborating with others to help move the College forward in achieving our goal of full participation.

Pessin Archive: Faculty Dissent, Spencer Pack, March 29

I publish this with permission from Spencer Pack.

From: Spencer Pack <[email protected]>
Date: Sun, Mar 29, 2015 at 10:24 AM
Subject: [faculty] On Some Recent Faculty Statements
To: faculty <[email protected]>

To my colleagues in the economics department, and throughout the college at large:  my Statement on the Recent Faculty Statements; or, why I will not sign a variant of one of these statements.

Here is my most important objection to the recent faculty statements.

I think in the main, the current flood of faculty responses and statements have been kneejerk politically correct platitudes  demonstrating insufficient thought about the complexity of the current situation. They are below the standards that I expect from my colleagues at Connecticut College;  most of my colleagues are exercising extremely poor judgment.

Some of the complexities of the current situation which need much further thought include the following:

  1. The Facebook postings of summer 2014 were written during war. Thus, the current situation is largely about war; and globalization; and the blowback from globalization of various wars; and what people think and do and say in war (here contributions from the history department could be valuable).
  1. The current situation is about class/and labor relations; it is partly an attack on tenure; and is part of a larger attack on labor unions, workers’ organizations, and the middle class in America; and it is partly about collegiality and worker solidarity; or the lack thereof.
  1. It is about changes in the means of communications; what is appropriate on social media; also who controls the settings on electronic communication; and how; for some historical comparison: what was the role of the printing press in the ensuing century or two of religious wars? How does that compare to the internet and current hostilities? Here people should consider the  work of the great Canadian economic historian Harold Innis, his follower Marshall McLuhan, and the work the Toronto school of communications.

Follow up on Proxy Honor Killings: Response to Peter Sage

In response to my post on Jewish anti-Zionism as a proxy honor-killing, Peter Sage wrote the following request for clarification.

So please help me see a way out of the current blind alley. If we have a one state solution then we will have, immediately or soon, an Arab majority and you are certain this means that Jews will be oppressed by the popular will of that majority. (I agree this is a valid concern.)

The mere fact that you need to reassure me that you grant the concern indicates how far removed from reality much of the public discourse has become. It’s kind of like a “no duh.”

The current alternative are Jews in power in Israel holding military/police power of occupied territory of stateless non-citizens.

Well, since Oslo, if they’re stateless non-citizens, it’s because their ruling elite, who have full control of most elements of a working state – education, police, communication, licensing, health, elections, administration – have seen fit to run their fiefdom as mafia-land. It’s not Israel’s fault they’re, like their political cousins in Gaza, “one man, one vote, one time” democracies.

This has gone on for a half century. The result has been discord within the society.

Which society, Israel? Of course. Given that it’s a democracy, committed to the basic rules of egalitarian power holding – do not do onto others what you would not want done to you – or, more colloquially, live and let live, Israelis all find this situation painful. Most of us, even at great sacrifice, would be happy to give it up. It’s just that the alternatives are much worse, right now.

Indeed, looking at other examples of places where an ethnic group is held in a subservient position (British Colonies prior to 1776; enslaved blacks in America; Jim Crow/Black Codes post Civil War America; European treatment of Native Americans 1492 through independence; Japanese occupation of China 1938-45; German treatment of Jews 1933-45; apartheid in South Africa) has worked out badly.

Wow! That’s quite a list there. Aside from the case of the British colonies in America, most of them are particularly nasty. The sin, as it were, of oppression lays heavily on the shoulders of the identifiable oppressors. Although no comparison to the Israeli-Palestinian case works really well, given the unique aspects of this case of conflict, all of these (except the British/American one) illustrate the most heinous behavior on the part of the oppressor of the “subservient” (in pomo-poco terms: subaltern).

Jewish anti-Zionism: The proxy honor-killing

Available in Polish, translated by Malgorzata Koraszewska here.

The recent stunning performance of Marcia Freedman at the J-Street conference, calling for a one-state solution (almost surely not called Israel), in which an Arab majority would fiercely defend the rights of a protected Jewish minority, heartily applauded by an audience of alleged “pro-Israel, pro-Peace” attendees, has once again raised the question sent to me by someone who saw The J-Street Challenge:

WHY do J Street activists take these positions that they know are destructive to Israel’s chances for survival? 

Obviously, the easy way to answer is to claim they don’t realize the destructive nature of their “plan for peace.” Certainly this would hold for Ms. Freedman, who apparently believes that once Israel becomes a “true democracy [applause]” (whatever that means), that Jews won’t need to maintain control of the levers of power, since that now truly democratic “state” would secure the rights of the Jews no matter who was in power (e.g., an Arab majority).

Only someone struck with terminal cecity could not notice that beyond Israel’s borders, Arab majorities rarely protect the rights of minorities, especially those they feel threaten them. The notion that 2000 years of determined victimization of Jews without sovereignty means nothing, and that somehow an Arab majority would “fiercely defend the rights of the Jewish minority,” such ideas defy the reality-based social and political imagination. Freedman’s speech, so totally divorced from the all-too-human reality of this part of the world, gives us a sterling example of the vapid moral angélisme that animates so many anti-Zionist Jews.

[For those not convinced that J-Street pursues suicidal policies for the polity it professes to “love” – withdraw to ’67 borders as an unreciprocated concession – I’ve written about this elsewhere.]

Here I’d like to address my correspondent’s well-posed question by slightly rephrasing it:

Why do Jews identify with and promote Palestinian lethal narratives about Israel, and ally with, encourage, and promote groups who openly desire the destruction of Israel, even as they assure us (M.F. style) that we have nothing to fear from them?

In a word, I think they’re engaged in a long-term, proxy, honor-killing.

Does Burston really think it’s legitimate to view BDS as Tikkun Olam?

[I re-post this item from 2010 after having attended a meeting at Temple Israel, a Reform Synagogue in Boston last night where J-Street and NIF talked us blue from their tikkun bubble chamber.]

A good friend sent me the following piece by Bradley Burston with the comment: “It expresses how I feel.” I find it so pervasively flawed that I have difficulty taking it seriously. But if my friend can (and he’s one of the smartest people I know), then I have to, and it does raise, however poorly, a whole range of key issues. So, with great reluctance (because there are more interesting texts to sink one’s teeth into), I fisk below.

First, a brief introductory note: One of the key contentions of Burston and the people he likes (J-Street, Jewish Voices for Peace, Young Jews for Peace, etc.) is that a) they love Israel and b) they know the best way to peace which, since Israel won’t take that path, they must force upon her. Now all these groups locate along the “left” political spectrum differently. NIF disapproves of BDS but funds groups who do; J-Street disapproves of  BDS even if they associate with people who do; Jewish Voices for Peace and Emily Schaeffer (below) support BDS in many forms.

Whatever the details, each of these groups believes that they must pressure Israel to leave the occupied territories out of a combination of moral passion – the Israel they love should set a moral example to the world – and peaceful intentions – they know their formula for peace will work.

Now some people, myself included, see the situation very differently. On moral matters, howevermuch we may share concerns about the occupation and dominion over another people harms both Palestinians and Israelis, we have difficulty with a moral equivalence, that ends up as a moral inversion, with the profound condescension and bigotry it involves in its abysmally low standards for the Palestinians, and the inversely exacting standards to which it holds Israel. The result – people, Jews! – for whom Israel is the new Nazi. And even as such people are morally reckless in their accusations of Israel, they echo and reinforce genocidal hatreds among the most base of the enemies of the Jews.

On the practical level, many of us feel that while making concessions and apologizing is a splendid way to begin a process of reconciliation, that only works in cases where the other side also seeks resolution, and responds in kind. In some cases, conflicts are not only unresponsive to such an approach, but literally allergic: rather than a peace process it produces a war process. Indeed, given how often and consistently Palestinian (and more broadly Arab) leaders have seized upon Israeli concessions to press for more and on Israeli confessions to reaffirm a demonizing narrative, it’s dubious that under the best of circumstances, Palestinian political players would respond to an Israeli withdrawal to the ’67 borders with a shift to peace.

On the contrary, any such move most likely will strengthen those in the Palestinian camp who argue that any withdrawal should be part of a “Phased plan” to destroy Israel and use any and every pretext to keep the war alive. Any observer who dismisses even this possibility – the favorite line is either, “you’re paranoid,” or “oh, you think they only understand violence.” – is either in ignorance or denial of the discourse that prevails in Palestinian political culture today.

And so, if under the best of conditions withdrawing to the ’67 lines could backfire, how much the more likely that the voices of attack will grow louder if Israel finds itself compelled as a result of becoming the object of universal execration (BDS) and pressure from its only powerful ally, the United States, to withdraw. The naïveté of such a formula is only matched by the aggressiveness with which it gets implemented. A formula for war: si vis bellum para pacem.

The fact that groups can argue that the US should force Israel to make these concessions without any serious discussion of the necessary massive reciprocity from Palestinians (especially when it comes to incitement to hatred and violence), raises serious doubts among many about their realism, and given their recklessness in insisting that virtually any means to get there are legitimate, it raises for us serious doubts about their responsibility.

As far as I can make out, Burston has no idea what I’m talking about. He’s like the New Yorker cartoon of a Manhattanite’s view of the USA. When he looks at the landscape of this debate, all he sees are him and his like-minded friends “doing the right thing,” while the opposition is at the other end of the spectrum – messianic rabbis and their neo-con partners who will not part with an inch of the land, even if God himself told them to do so. And nothing in between.

He encases his simplistic dualism in the antimony “Jews of the Gate” vs. “Jews of the Wall.” This fisking comes from someone who thinks that both of his categories are poorly conceived; and that the real issues are entirely different from the ones upon which he focuses.

Thanksgiving, Tikkun Olam, and U.S. Jews breaking the Israel barrier By Bradley Burston

[Part 2 of a series on U.S. Jews emotionally divesting from Israel. In part, a journal of a recent West Coast speaking tour hosted by J Street]

Norah: It reminds me of this part of Judaism that I really like. It’s called Tikkun Olam. It says that the world is broken into pieces, and that it’s everybody’s job to find them and put them back together again.

Nick: Well, maybe we’re the pieces. And maybe we’re not supposed to find the pieces. Maybe we are the pieces. “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” (Columbia Pictures, 2008)

It’s hard not to read this as a spoof of the trivial use to which a mystical concept like tikkun olam has been put in new “new-age” spirituality. Not having seen the movie, I don’t know if this is an homage to “Deep Thoughts,” but Burston seems to offer them up as his credo. Indeed, Nick’s version – people! – stands behind the full line-up of comments he makes throughout this piece. So it’s probably worth a short comment on this deep and now deeply problematic notion that has set our moral compasses awry in the 21st century.

#GenerationCaliphate: Apocalyptic Hopes, Millennial Dreams and Global Jihad

#GenerationCaliphate: 

Apocalyptic Hopes, Millennial Dreams and Global Jihad

May 3-4, 2015, Boston University

Sponsored by the Center for Millennial Studies, Boston University History Department and Scholars for Peace in the Middle East.

Most Westerners associate the terms apocalyptic and millennial (millenarian) with Christian beliefs about the endtime. Few even know that Muhammad began his career as an apocalyptic prophet predicting the imminent Last Judgment. And yet, for the last thirty years, a wide-ranging group of militants, both Sunni and Shi’i, both in coordination and independently, have, under the apocalyptic belief that now is the time, pursued the millennial goal of spreading Dar al Islam to the entire world. In a manner entirely in keeping with apocalyptic beliefs, but utterly counter-intuitive to outsiders, these Jihadis see the Western-driven transformation of the world as a vehicle for their millennial beliefs, or, to paraphrase Eusebius on the relationship between the Roman Empire and Christianity: Praeparatio Califatae.

The apocalyptic scenario whereby this global conquest takes place differs from active transformative (the West shall be conquered by Da’wa [summons]) to active cataclysmic (bloody conquest). Western experts have until quite recently, for a wide range of reasons, ignored this dimension of the problem. And yet, understanding the nature of global Jihad in terms of the dynamics of apocalyptic millennial groups may provide an important understanding, both to their motivations, methods, as well as their responses to the inevitable disappointments that await all such believers. The now defunct Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University (1996-2003) brings to the public one final conference on apocalyptic beliefs, co-sponsored by the BU History Department and Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME).

This event is free and open to the public.

Schedule

Sunday, May 3

10:00-12:00 Introduction:

  • Richard Landes, “Globalization as a Millennial Praeparatio Califatae: A Problematic Discussion”
  • William McCants, Brookings Institute: “ISIS and the Absent Mahdi: Studies in Cognitive Dissonance and Apocalyptic Jazz”
  • Graeme Wood, Yale University, Atlantic Monthly: “On the Resistance to seeing Global Jihad as Apocalyptic Movement”

 12:00-1:30 Break for Lunch

 1:30-3:30 Panel II: The Millennial Goal: Global Caliphate

  • Timothy Furnish, “”Rejecting Millennial Time: The Ottoman Empire’s 700-year War against Mahdism in its Realm.”
  • Cole Bunzel, Princeton: “From Apocalypse Now to Caliphate Now: Revisiting Juhayman al-‘Utaybi’s Siege of Mecca in 1979″
  • Jeffrey M. Bale, Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, “Refusing to Take Islamist Ideology Seriously: The Persistence of Western ‘Mirror Imaging’ and Ideological Double Standards”
  • Comments: Charles Cameron

4:00-5:30 Panel III: Case Studies in Apocalyptic Jihad

  • David Cook, Rice University: “ISIS and Boko Haram: Profiles in Apocalyptic Jihad”
  • JM Berger, Brookings Institute, “The role of communications Technology in mediating apocalyptic communities”
  • Mehdi Khalaji, Washington Institute of Near East Policy: “Apocalyptic Revolutionary Politics in Iran”

Monday, May 4

10:0-12:00 Panel IV: Conspiracy Theory and Apocalyptic Genocide

  • Itamar Marcus, Palestinian Media Watch, “Anti-Semitism, Conspiracy Theory and Apocalyptic Global Jihad
  • Charles Small, “Ideology and Antisemitism:  Random Acts or a Core Element of the Reactionary Islamist Global Jihad?”
  • Richard Landes, BU, “Active Cataclysmic Apocalyptic Scenarios, Demonizing and Megadeath: Taiping, Communists, Nazis, and Jihadis.”
  • Comments: David Redles

  12:00-1:30 Break for Lunch 

 1:30-4:00 Final Panel Discussion

Paul Berman, Independent Scholar

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Independent Scholar

Husain Haqqani, Hudson Institute

Charles Strozier, John Jay College

Brenda Brasher, Tulane University

*All events will take place in the Stone Science Building (645 Commonwealth Ave), room B50

Been up so long it looks like down to me: Garry Trudeau and punching down at Jihadis

On April 10 at the Long Island University’s George Polk Awards ceremony, where he received the George Polk Career Award, Garry Trudeau, the beloved author of the Doonsbury cartoons, delivered the following remarks which appeared in the Atlantic Monthly. In it he criticizes the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo for “punching down.” The core of his argument, fisked below.

Ironically, Charlie Hebdo,which always maintained it was attacking Islamic fanatics, not the general population, has succeeded in provoking many Muslims throughout France to make common cause with its most violent outliers. This is a bitter harvest.

The implication here is that the attack on the Jihadis was responsible for this “common cause,” an attribution of causation that will play a critical role in the subsequent analysis. Nothing here questions what is wrong with French Muslims that criticism of their most extreme and violent co-religionists, the one’s who insist that Muhammad cannot be drawn, can drive the “vast majority of moderate Muslims” who have nothing in common with these (not real) Muslims, to nonetheless make common cause with hate-mongering genocidal maniacs. It’s classic Masochistic Omnipotence Syndrome (MOS): it’s all our fault, if only we didn’t provoke them, they wouldn’t hate us so.

There’s a bitter harvest, alright, and much of it comes from this kind of Western supremacist thinking that puts all moral responsibility on the West, and makes no moral demands of Muslims, including the rather basic one – for a civil society at least – of dealing with criticism like mentsches instead of hysterical, testosteronic teenagers.

Traditionally, satire has comforted the afflicted while afflicting the comfortable. Satire punches up, against authority of all kinds, the little guy against the powerful. Great French satirists like Molière and Daumier always punched up, holding up the self-satisfied and hypocritical to ridicule. Ridiculing the non-privileged is almost never funny—it’s just mean.

By punching downward, by attacking a powerless, disenfranchised minority with crude, vulgar drawings closer to graffiti than cartoons, Charlie wandered into the realm of hate speech, which in France is only illegal if it directly incites violence.

Fatal Attraction: The shared antichrist of the Global Progressive Left and Jihad

The following is the text of a talk I gave at ISGAP last week.

Imagine all the people…

Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace…

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one… (John Lennon, 1971)

And now,

Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Something to kill and die for

And one religion too

Imagine all the people

Living under our peace…

You may say we’re dreamers

But we’re not the only ones… (Jihadi Joe, 2000)

Welcome to the 21st century.

The Jihadi Apocalyptic Narrative: World Conquest and the Great and Little Satan

Despite the spectacular attacks on the West, most Westerners have little familiarity[1] with the Jihadi narrative, a narrative first revealed in Khoumeini’s Iran.[2] It varies significantly in some ways from traditional Muslim apocalyptic thought, which focused on a Last Judgment at the end of the world. Instead, this apocalyptic scenario focuses on a this-wordly messianic era, envisioned as the global victory of Islam: when all of Dar al Harb becomes Dar al Islam.[3] Those who join this movement fight in an apocalyptic battle in which the Jews will be slaughtered, and the rest of the harbi, would convert, accept the dhimma contract of submission (religions of the book), or become slaves (pagans), or being put to death[4]: a “Second Global Islamic Kingdom,”[5] only this time, really encompassing the whole world. In the battle, no mercy should be shown to those who resist Islam’s dominion. Everything to kill and die for: suicide martyrs goes straight to heaven; their victims, straight to hell.

Professor Pessin’s Facebook Entry on Operation Protective Edge, August 11, 2014

A complicated but telling development in the cognitive wars, from Connecticut College. For the details, see at Slate and NPR. The controversy has focused on the following facebook entry from August 11, 2014, at the height of last summer’s war in Gaza.

I’m sure someone could make a cartoon of this, but one image which essentializes the current situation in Gaza might be this. You’ve got a rabid pit bull chained in a cage, regularly making mass efforts to escape. The owner, naturally keeps the thing in the cage, but being kind-hearted or something, regularly feeds it, waters it, takes care of its health needs, etc. But liberal hearted world is outraged at the cruelty of keeping in in the cage, keeps pressuring the owner to let it out. Every so often the man relents under pressure, opens the cage a crack, and the pit bull comes roaring bounding out, snarling, going for the throat. A short battle ensues, the pit bull gets put back in… and almost immediately liberal world pressure starts complaining about the cruelty to animals and insisting he open the cage.

Gaza is the cage because of its repeated efforts to destroy Israel and the Jews. (1990s suicide buses anyone? how quickly we forget.) The blockade is not the cause of the current conflict. It is the RESULT of the conflict and cannot retroactively become its cause. The same is true of Judea and Samaria, the result of the Arab enmity toward Israel and not its cause. Anyone who fails to recognize that clear and obvious fact is demanding the release of a rabid pit bull. You may call for this release because you are yourself a rabid pit bull protesting your co-specimen’s detention, or because you are a well-meaning liberal hearted animal rights person. But you are demanding the same thing. (And I wonder how heartily you’d demand this if the rabid pit bull was to be released in YOUR neighborhood.)

Andrew Pessin, Professor of Philosophy at Connecticut College, August 11, 2014, Facebook entry later taken down in the face of misinterpretation, transcribed by me.

The reading of this promoted by Pessin’s vocal critics, in which he meant that the Palestinians are the pit bull which by the logic of his image, Pessin agreed in a later exchange, needed to be “put down,” making this an odious example of “racist hate speech,” is contentious to put it mildly.

As Pessin noted in his defense, read the discussion in which he was participating and it’s clear he’s talking about Hamas. Certainly, the pit bull who “comes roaring bounding out, snarling, going for the throat,” every time the man let’s it out of its cage, is a reference to Hamas, as is his explicatory reference to the suicide bombings of the aughts (’00s).

This particular entry is clearly within a long and distinguished tradition of both political cartooning and animal parables, including George Orwell’s Animal Farm. Read in that manner, it is an incisive depiction of Hamas, whose numerous war crimes this summer, according to an Amnesty International Report (!), included killing both Israeli and Palestinian civilians in an indiscriminate manner. The deep irony embodied in Pessin’s image of Gaza as the cage, is that it’s not really the Israelis who built the cage, so much as the rabid dog who has taken Gazans hostage, hides behind them, uses them as human shields to fend off the Israeli effort to “put down” the rabid dog of “genocidal hatred.”

The “liberal” reader who, squeamish at a depiction of genocidal hatred denounced in no uncertain terms (pit bull), ends up behaving like the faculty at Connecticut College: they placate groups who scream injury when criticized, in order to shelter their own discourse of violence and hatred from the scrutiny it so richly deserves.

 

Lethal Journalism, Middle East Style

The practice of lethal journalism participates in the larger category of passing off war propaganda as news, has a long history, and a long future. Lethal journalists take the stories that belligerents create to demonize the enemy – especially the accusation of deliberately killing innocent civilians even children – and present them as news.

In the annals of the long history of running war propaganda as news, rarely if ever, have journalists consistently over an extended period of time, passed off enemy war propaganda as news. And yet that behavior, a kind of “own-goal journalism” marks the dominant school of journalism during the period of the opening years of the 21st century. And although it eventually spread far beyond the Middle East, that lethal reporting began and took shape in covering the conflict between Israel and her neighbors.

This peculiar combination of base war propaganda persistently repeated as news by a target of that propaganda – I’d like to call DuraJournalismBut throughout this essay, when I use the more generic “lethal journalism” I make reference to this eccentric Levantine phenomenon.

Identifying and redressing this problem seems like a high value goal, especially in the cause of strengthening a free (hence accurate) news media at a critical moment in the history of those modern nations, “so conceived and so dedicated.”

The key to this journalism is the delivery as news of an implicit (preferably explicit) accusation of deliberate killing – murdering children,targeting  civilians, or, in the words of the Goldstone Report, deliberately “punishing” civilians with “disproportionate” response, possibly constituting “crimes against humanity.” Lethal narratives constitute the basest form of war propaganda, especially when the stories are largely invented. It seeks to arouse hatred and a desire for revenge by convincing the target audience (recruits, observers), that the designated enemy deserves the violence you wish to visit on him.

The term “lethal journalism” designates the practice of those journalists who take a systematically credulous stance towards Arab lethal narratives about Israel, which they then pass on to us, their readers and listeners, as “news,” or at least, as perfectly believable claims about what has happened. Maintaining such a discourse necessitates playing fast and loose with evidence, ignoring and dismissing anomalous details, playing up dubious ones. It leaves a distinct Augean trail where it passes.

Since all wars have their lethal narratives, and all war-makers want to enlist journalists in spreading theirs, examples of lethal journalism can be found throughout the history of the press in war. Indeed, it’s an obvious need for democracies founded on peaceful relations, to have a press that can accurately identify false evidence, especially in the service of lethal narratives, and report on that war propaganda, rather than become an instrument of that propaganda. The fact that Western media have done so badly for over fifteen years, suggests the extent of the media’s “credibility crisis.” The most trusted news source – Fox! – 29%. Democracies cannot survive such dysfunctional relations between the news media and their public.

Iranian Porridge

obama feeding baby congress iran porridge by fatimafeeding baby GOP lrg POS

Lessons in Honor-Shame Politics: Kedar on the Zionist Camp

Mordechai Kedar, one of the most adept analysts of honor-shame culture, has a fascinating rant on the implications for war in the case the Israeli electorate chooses the “peace” candidates Yithak Herzog and Tzippy Livni. While I agree with almost everything he says, readers should not take this as an endorsement of Naftali Bennet and his Jewish Home (Kedar’s choice) or any other party. This is a major lesson in the dangers of the kind of liberal cognitive egocentrism that lead people to accept the PC Paradigms and reject the HSJParadigm.

The Arab world dreams of the day Herzog and Livni might

be at the helm of the Jewish state.

Published: Tuesday, March 10, 2015 11:20 AM

Written in Hebrew for Arutz Sheva, translated by Rochel Sylvetsky.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar is a senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar Ilan University

Honest disclosure I: I have been acquainted with the Herzog family for decades, ever since I was a child, and at various points in my life I crossed paths with all three Herzog brothers, Joel,  Brigadier General (Res.) Michael and MK Yitzchak.  I have always held this aristocratic family in great esteem for their generosity, deportment, intelligence and erudition, as sons of Israel’s late sixth president Chaim Herzog and grandchildren of the late Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Isaac Halevi  Herzog.  Ambassador Abba Eban, a significant political and cultural figure on his own, was their uncle. An aristocratic family in the deepest sense of the word.

Honest disclosure II: During the second half of the nineties, once I had finished my army service, I was active in the “Paths to Peace” organization, the younger and religious brother of “Peace Now”. I gave peace a chance the European way, but our Arab neighbors disappointed us.

Honest disclosure III:  At various times, I have suggested a Middle East peace plan for us and our neighbors, “The Eight Palestinian Emirates Plan”. I am openly against the establishment of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, one that will without doubt turn into another Hamastan and lead inevitably to the next war.

Honest disclosure IV: I openly support the Jewish Home party’s list.

Let us start with the head of the Labor party, Yitzchak Herzog:

Years of research spent studying Arab discourse, media and culture – in the original Arabic – have led me to the incontrovertible conclusion that most of the Arab population hopes the day will come when Herzog is prime minister of Israel, for that day – at least according to the viewpoint of most Arabs -  is the beginning of the end of the state of Israel .The reason is simple: Herzog is seen as a person of weak character, unimpressive and spineless. He did not serve as a combat officer and was, instead, an officer in my unit, 8200, which is made up of brilliant nerds with the obligatory round-framed eyeglasses.

Herzog’s gentle way of speaking and the unconfrontational terminology he uses, those that make him attractive to Israelis who want to think like Europeans and Americans, have convinced the Arab world that Herzog is the only way to soften Israel enough to step all over it and turn it into a dishrag that can be wrung into oblivion.

The Middle East’s agenda is set by stereotypes and images, and the image Herzog projects is so weak that any threats Israel might pronounce would be met with derision. The distance from that derision to all-out war is a short one.

In the Middle East, anyone who proclaims non-stop that he wants peace, projects the image of someone who is afraid of war because he is weak, thereby awakening the militaristic adrenaline glands of his neighbors, who then resemble nothing so much as eagles and vultures hovering over a dying cow.

And the opposite is just as true: anyone who radiates power, strength, threat and danger enjoys comparative tranquillity because the bullies leave him alone. This is the reason the Arabs hated and respected Ariel Sharon and Moshe Dayan – they were afraid of them. Sadat made peace with Israel because he could not defeat the Jewish state despite the surprise factor he had in opening the Yom Kippur War and his early success in crossing the Suez Canal.  Hussein also made peace with Israel, hoping it would use its power to help him face the Baath party of Syria and Iraq. Arafat agreed to a hudabiyya peace – that is, a temporary “peace” for as long as the enemy is too strong to defeat – after the failure of the first intifada.

Yitzchak Herzog at the helm of the government is the sweetest dream the Arab world can imagine, because it is proof that Israeli society is tired, exhausted, lacking the motivation to protect the country and ready to pay any price for a paper  that has the word “peace” written on it.  Herzog at the helm of the government will be subject to pressures from the Arab world – and from Obama’s White House – because he creates the impression that “this time it will work”, or shall I say, “Yes, we can”.

The pressures he will undergo will be much greater than those exerted on Netanyahu, because the White House and the Arab world will sense that his days as Prime Minister are numbered and therefore, they must make every effort to squeeze as much out of him as they can for the short period that Israelis will let him function before waking up to realize the imminent catastrophe and removing him from his seat as they did to Ehud Barak when he gave in to Arafat.

Yitzchak Herzog may bring about harmonious relations with the White House and perhaps even with the angst-consumed leaders of Europe, but he will bring a war of blood, fire and tears to the area called the Middle East where only those who are truly powerful, threatening and determined to deter their enemies survive.

Let us continue with MK Tzipi Livni, Herzog’s rotation partner in what the two self-titled “The Zionist Camp”:

Tzipi is the other aspect of the sweet dreams of the Arab world, a woman born and raised in a courageous Revisionist family, a home filled with healthy and strong Zionist principles. She began her political career in the Likud, but became more and more spineless, deteriorating from party to party, until she joined up with the other leading invertebrate, Yitzchak Herzog.

To the Arab world, Livni symbolizes and represents the dispirited and weary Israeli, those who have had enough of the struggle for survival and are willing to offer their necks to the slaughterer hoping that he will butcher them gently if they speak politely.

The internet tells us that in the eighties, Livni was actually a Mossad agent in Europe, and several Arab websites tell of the “special services” she did for the state of Israel.These services are understood in the West as undercover and secret, but in the Middle East the expression is interpreted in a totally different fashion. We can imagine how they will react on the web in the Arab world and what our image will be if she becomes prime minister.

However, the problem with Tzipi Livni is not just about her image, because in her case, our neighbors have proof that Livni hasn’t the foggiest idea of how to navigate the complex, thorny paths of the Middle East: she was Foreign Minister during the Second Lebanon War, and was the Israeli architect of Security Council Resolution 1701 that allowed the Hezbollah – already clear in the phrasing she espoused – to renew and enlarge its rocket arsenal. I would expect someone with a law degree to comprehend the built-in failure in the way the resolution was phrased, but Tzipi Livni did not even reach this minimal legal test. Is there anyone in his right mind who would hire her to prepare a contract for renting out his apartment?

What is strange is that instead of being ashamed and keeping her mouth shut, Livni even defended Resolution 1701 in public, strangely calling it a resolution that “created change in southern Lebanon”.


Only in Israel do the spineless have the nerve to ask the public for another chance to sit for the Middle East exam which they are sure to fail once again.
She is right about one thing. It surely did create change in southern Lebanon, but one that is bad for Israel. Instead of demilitarizing Hezbollah – which many countries agreed was necessary after the Second Lebanon War – this resolution allowed Hezbollah to rearm. Livni’s failure in phrasing the resolution and its implementation should have left her far away from any Israeli decision making positions, and certainly from those that have anything to do with our geopolitical reality.

In sum: Only in Israel do the spineless have the nerve to ask the public for another chance to sit for the Middle East exam which they are sure to fail once again. Only in Israel does the public’s collective memory go only as far back as the last television debate, the slogan heard yesterday and the latest spin a candidate spread this morning at the advice of his media consultants because it is popular and easy to recall.

Not one of the soul weary people – those who talk non-stop about “peace” – can deal in a suitable manner with the cruel and difficult  cultural environment in our neighborhood, one which, in the best case, will kick him in the rear as a warning before plunging a dagger into his neck.

The Herzog-Livni duo is the last thing I would recommend to lead the state of Israel, as long as we want to survive in the “New Middle East” – not the Shimon Peres fantasy world of that name, but the one where what is new is “Islamic State”. Perhaps, in the far-off future, when and if the surrounding cultural atmosphere turns into something like America or what it was once in Europe, we will be able to consider these two soul weary people as leaders of Israel.

However, while the Middle East looks the way it does and functions the way it does at present, there is no choice except to leave them nailed to their seats in the opposition consisting of other spineless “round eyeglasses” so they can raise shrill voices to criticize the nation’s leaders, while those leaders radiate power, strength and credible threats.

This is the bitter reality in which we attempt to survive. I am not the one who created it, and I bear no guilt for the situation we are in. I am just the messenger who is charged with explaining to my readers what not everyone understands about the culture in our neighborhood. It is a culture that only provides quiet and tranquility to the leader who succeeds in persuading his neighbors that he is invincible and that they had better leave him in peace for their own good.

Ths is an ongoing mission, especially since every once in a  while some “brilliant” figures appear, claiming to have just patented their invention of the wheel  and found the way to be accepted by our neighbors as a legitimate and welcome entity.

My advice? Learn Arabic.

Annals in Palestinian Media Protocols: Cristiano’s Letter to Arafat

A Polish translation of this post is available here.

While writing a talk for the EUSA, I had trouble finding the URL for Riccardo Cristiano’s letter to Yassir Arafat about the Ramallah Lynch. This critical document sheds a harsh light on the nature of journalistic work in the Middle East. So, for easier reference in the future, I post below the version available (with much effort) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, with additional comments of my own throughout.

The Government Press Office today (Wednesday), 18.10.2000, has decided to temporarily suspend the press card of Riccardo Cristiano, the representative of Italian state television (RAI), in the wake of his letter to the Palestinian Authority which was published in the Monday (16.10.2000) edition of Al Hayat al Jedida. Mr. Cristiano has also been summoned to the GPO where he will be requested to explain his letter.

In the aforementioned letter, Mr. Cristiano declared that he had acted according to the PA’s working rules for journalists. His letter implies that he will never again [would never -rl] film events which are liable to cast a negative light on the PA, such as the recent lynching of IDF reservists in Ramallah.

Mr. Cristiano also wrote that his competitors in the Italian media are responsible for broadcasting the pictures of the lynching and thereby accused other foreign journalists working in the territories.

The State of Israel, as a democratic society, welcomes the foreign journalists working here and invests considerable effort in both assuring freedom of the press and assisting journalists in their work. All that we ask from foreign journalists is that they abide by the rules of press ethics as is accepted in democratic societies.

Background

On October 12, 2000, two non-combatant Israeli reserve soldiers were lynched and brutally murdered by a Palestinian mob in Ramallah. Both were drivers, one aged 38 and the father of three, the other a 33 year-old newly-wed.

MIDEAST-ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN

Aziz Salha showing his bloody hands to the crowd outside.

Since this lynching, the official Palestinian broadcasting stations have made every effort to hide the horrible pictures which were shown around the world.

Actually, even as they tried to hide these images from the world, they have exalted them among their own people.

bloody hands girl

Kindergarten graduation ceremony, PA school.

Moreover, the day after the lynching, PA-appointed Sheikh Halabaya gave a blood-curdling sermon calling for genocide against the Jews and their friends the world over, broadcast on PA TV (and therefore captured by Palestinian Media Watch).

According to reporters’ evidence on the scene, not only did the Palestinian police not protect the two men slaughtered while in their custody in the Ramallah police station, but they also tried to prevent foreign journalists in the area around the building from filming the incident.

Here’s a brief description of the violence against Mark Seager, a pro-Palestinian photographer, published in the Sunday Telegraph of October 15, 2000:

I thought he was a soldier because I could see the remains of khaki trousers and boots. My God, I thought, they’ve killed this guy. He was dead, he must have been dead, but they were still beating him, madly, kicking his head. They were like animals.

They were just a few feet in front of me and I could see everything. Instinctively, I reached for my camera. I was composing the picture when I was punched in the face by a Palestinian. Another Palestinian pointed right at me shouting “no picture, no picture!”, while another guy hit me in the face and said “give me your film!”.

I tried to get the film out but they were all grabbing me and one guy just pulled the camera off me and smashed it to the floor. I knew I had lost the chance to take the photograph that would have made me famous and I had lost my favourite lens that I’d used all over the world, but I didn’t care. I was scared for my life.

At the same time, the guy that looked like a soldier was being beaten and the crowd was getting angrier and angrier, shouting “Allah akbar” – God is great. They were dragging the dead man around the street like a cat toying with a mouse. It was the most horrible thing that I have ever seen and I have reported from Congo, Kosovo, many bad places. In Kosovo, I saw Serbs beating an Albanian but it wasn’t like this. There was such hatred, such unbelievable hatred and anger distorting their faces.

The worst thing was that I realised the anger that they were directing at me was the same as that which they’d had toward the soldier before dragging him from the police station and killing him. Somehow I escaped and ran and ran not knowing where I was going. I never saw the other guy they killed, the one they threw out of the window.

In a subsequent email correspondance with Seager, he told me that right after the publication of this piece, a friend called him to tell him he was no longer safe in the Palestinian territories. According to reports, this was pervasive. Every journalist and film crew there was expected to hand over any film they might have taken.

Despite the attempts to distance reports, an Italian television crew managed to film several scenes [and smuggle them out -rl].

The following is an ad published in the Al Hayat Al Jadidah newspaper, considered the main newspaper of the Palestinian Authority. The ad, probably paid for, is evidence of the double standard which has come to characterize much of the reporting of the recent violence in the territories.

Note that the brutal lynching is described merely as “the events”.

Special Clarification by the Italian Representative of RAI, the Official Italian Television Station

My dear friends in Palestine. We congratulate you and think that it is our duty to put you in the picture of what happened on October 12 in Ramallah. One of the private Italian television stations which competes with us filmed the events; that station filmed the events. Afterwards Israeli Television broadcast the pictures, as taken from one of the Italian stations, and thus the public impression was created as if we took these pictures.

We emphasize to all of you that the events did not happen this way, because we always respect the journalistic procedures with the Palestinian Authority for work in Palestine and we are credible in our precise work.

We thank you for your trust, and you can be sure that this is not our way of acting. We would not do such a thing.

Please accept our dear blessings.

Signed,
Ricardo Christiano
Representative of RAI in the Palestinian Authority

Let’s take that again with commentary. Basically this is a letter meant to avoid any retaliation by the Palestinians for having violated the “journalistic procedures for work in the Palestinian territory.” It’s not us, it’s the other Italians,” Cristiano tells Arafat.

Suicidal Mainstream News Media: Outsourcing Anti-Semitism to European Jihadis

The following is a (long version) of the paper I present at the European Union Studies Association, meeting at the Hyatt Regency in Boston, on Friday, March 5, 2015. An abbreviated version in Polish here by Malgorzata Koraszewska who posted it at her blog.

Suicidal Mainstream News Media:

Outsourcing Anti-Semitism to European Jihadis

An alarming development occurred this last summer, at least from the point of view of people who believe in the post-Holocaust consensus about human rights and free societies in a peaceful global community, for those who believe that Nie Wieder would the madness that generated World War II return to invade European culture. This summer, throughout Western Europe and Scandinavia, gangs of crudely armed rioters ran through the streets shouting “Hamas! Hamas! Jews to the Gas!…”; “Death to Jews! Slit Jews Throats!” This proliferation of sometimes deadly attacks on Jews has convinced some observers that at current rates of open hostility, Europe will have no more Jews in little more than a generation.

In 2000, when the European Union looked forward to a new period of global prominence – one book title read Why Europe will run the 21st centuryif you had told the leaders of the French, or any other Western European democracy, that in the opening decades of the 21st century, increasingly unrestrained Muslim Jew-hatred would drive Jews from Western Europe, they would have mocked your alarmism. Unthinkable! Impossible! Ridiculous. Islamophobic.

How did this happen? And what does it portend?

I can give you the five minute version and you can leave if you wish:

Fatal Attraction: The Shared Antichrist of the Global Progressive Left and Jihad

Fatal Attraction:

The shared antichrist of the Global Progressive Left and Jihad

Richard Landes, Boston University, History Department

From: The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel, edited by Cary Nelson and Gabriel Noah Brahm (2014), chap. 20.

(available in Kindle; and in Polish, thanks to Malgorzata Koraszewska)

Abstract: In the aughts, the “global, progressive, left” (GPL), adopted a secular version of the Jihadi apocalyptic scapegoating narrative in which Israel and the US are the “great and little Satan” (or vice-versa). This overlap between two ostensibly completely different value systems has served as the basis for mobilizing a common struggle against the US and Israel over the last decade or so. In so doing, the Left has welcomed within its “anti-imperialist” mobilization, one of the most ferociously imperialist movements in the long and dark history of mankind, one which opposes not merely Israeli and American “imperialism,” but also targets the very culture of progressive values – human rights, peace, tolerance for diversity, human freedom – that GPL champions. BDS is a flagship (and symptom) of this self-destructive disorientation wherein progressives join forces with their worst enemies.

Prologue

This essay is not written to persuade the reader that BDS is a movement unworthy of support by anyone committed to progressive principles. Anyone who compares Israel’s human right’s record – even the Palestinian version! – with the behavioral norms of Arab political culture, could not possibly take as sincere, the Arab insistence that Israel be put on the global docket for human rights violations. This is all the more true, when one scrutinizes the list of accusations made against Israel, and realizes how many accusations are not only false, but in some cases, indicate the exact opposite of their claims.[i] This essay is written rather to explain to those who want to understand how such an absurd inversion of moral and empirical reality could have made so much headway in the Western public sphere.

I write this essay as a scholar of millennialism who has been studying the emergence in the last fifteen years, of an active, cataclysmic, apocalyptic movement (the most dangerous kind). I also write it as a Jew who began his academic career believing in a self-sustaining, self-critical democratic public sphere and assuming the fundamental maturity and commitment of its participants. I write in defense of that sphere: for the maturity (and now, courage) of the academic community and, not coincidentally, in defense of my people who are being (successfully) slandered by hypocrites and war mongers. To those who believe they should listen to the “other,” I formally request an audience. My tale is not pretty.

Imagine all the people…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one… (John Lennon, 1971)

And now,

Imagine there are no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Something to kill and die for
And one religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life under our peace… (Jihadi Joe, 2015)

Welcome, Woodstockers, to the 21st century.

The Jihadi Apocalyptic Narrative: World Conquest and the Great and Little Satan

Imagine

Imagine all the people…

Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion too

Imagine all the people

Living life in peace…

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one… (John Lennon, 1971)

 

And now:

 

Imagine there are no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Something to kill and die for

And one religion too

Imagine all the people

Living life under our peace…

You may say, we’re dreamers

But we’re not the only ones… (Jihadi Joe, 2015)

 

Welcome to the 21st century.

William Keylor: Anti-Semitism in France (January 2015)

My colleague at BU, William Keylor drew my attention to this essay he wrote in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo affair this last January (about which, I wrote here). He has given me permission to post it here, where it can be tweeted and facebooked.

JANUARY 14, 2015

As a non-Jewish historian of France with several dear Jewish friends in that country, I read with great dismay the recent news articles suggesting that many French Jews are considering emigrating to Israel to escape the rising tide of anti-Semitism most recently demonstrated in the brutal attack in a Paris kosher market that left four Jewish patrons dead on the eve of the Jewish Shabbat last week.

Of course, Jews in any country have a perfect right to make aliyah to Israel any time they choose to do so, and, as Prime Minister Netanyahu declared last week, they will be welcomed there with open arms. What causes the feeling of dismay and regret in this longtime student of French history is not Israel’s potential gain but France’s potential loss.

I think of the extraordinary contributions that Jews in France have made to the vibrant intellectual life of that country:  The list would include, among too many others to include here, the names of Raymond Aron, Julien Benda, Marc Bloch, Jacques Derrida, Emile Durkheim, Claude Levi-Strauss, Darius Milhaud, and Marcel Proust.

In addition to such path-breaking pioneers in philosophy, sociology, anthropology, history, and literary criticism, hundreds of thousands of ordinary French Jews have played a productive and integral role in their country’s social and political life.  As France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls (who was born in Spain to a Spanish-Catalan father) has put it so bluntly: “If 100,000 French people of Spanish origin were to leave, I would never say that France is not France anymore. But if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France.”

The modern history of France’s relationship to its Jewish population is marked by high points and low points: In 1791 it was the first country in the world to grant civil equality to Jews. A low point came in the second half of the 1890s, when the unjust treason conviction and imprisonment of a Jewish army officer, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, for leaking military secrets to Germany precipitated a wave of anti-Semitism on the extreme right.

One of the observers of Dreyfus’s condemnation and of the cries of “Death to the Jews” that reverberated throughout the streets of Paris was the Austrian journalist Theodor Herzl. He subsequently founded the movement of political Zionism in part because the outburst of anti-Semitism during the Dreyfus Affair  in the most democratic, liberal, tolerant country in Europe persuaded him of the impossibility of assimilation and the necessity for a Jewish state to serve as a safe haven for threatened Jews everywhere.

A high point came when Dreyfus was eventually exonerated and reinstated as a major in the French army. The forces of liberal democracy, humanism, and tolerance triumphed over the forces of extreme nationalism, religious prejudice, and intolerance, which enabled most French Jews to feel secure in the secular French Republic.

Then the fall of France in 1940, the Nazi German occupation of the northern part of the country, and the advent of the collaborationist Vichy regime in the southern part ushered in another low point in the fortunes of Jews in France. Anti-Semitic laws enacted by the Vichy government severely restricted their rights. French authorities rounded up and deported some 76,000 Jews to the death camps of the Third Reich, of whom less than 2,500 survived.

In the decades since the dark days of 1940-1945, the Jewish community in France has thrived and prospered. Its 500,000 members represent the third largest Jewish community in the world (after Israel and the United States).  France has had five prime ministers of Jewish heritage, more than any other country save Israel.

The ever-present scourge of anti-Semitism was confined to the ideological extremes, from the right-wing Front National of Jean-Marie Le Pen to the proponents of Islamic terrorism such as that recently witnessed in Paris. (In recent years Le Pen’s daughter and political heir, Marine Le Pen, has replaced the anti-Semitism of her father with a virulent nativist rhetoric focusing on the threat to the French way of life posed by Islamic immigration from France’s former colonies in North Africa.).

Indeed, the principal source of anti-Semitism in France is no longer to be found in the old extreme right groups that had targeted Jews from the Dreyfus Affair to Vichy. It now emanates from the impoverished suburbs surrounding major French cities, where a small minority of unemployed, restless youth in immigrant families from North Africa and sub-Sahara Africa are attracted to the siren song of Al Qaeda and the Islamic State and are willing to commit terrorist acts to promote the cause.

More than 7,000 of France’s half a million Jewish citizens emigrated in 2014. Some predict that that number will double this year. Others forecast that half the population of French Jews will be gone by the end of the decade.

As the Jewish citizens of France contemplate the choice or emigration or the maintenance of their religious and/or cultural identity within France, the French government must leave no stone unturned in the process of protecting one of that country’s most precious resources. If it fails, to repeat the plaintive observation of Prime Minister Valls, France will no longer be France.

Citing the Quran to Infidels: The Dangers of Liberal Cognitive Egocentrism

[A Polish translation of this essay, “Liberalny egocentryzm poznawczy” is available at Listy z nas zego sadu].

The highly controversial White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism ventured into still more risky territory with a prayer (apparently the only one) offered at the proceedings. It was from an Imam and, at least the way it was interpreted by yet another, supported the principle contention of the Summit and more broadly the Obama administration, that Islam is a religion of peace.

Imam Sheikh Sa’ad Musse Roble, president of the World Peace Organization in Minneapolis, Minn., recited a “verse from the Quran” [Surah 5:32] following remarks by Obama administration officials and Democratic members of Congress.

Imam Abdisalam Adam, of the Islamic Civil Society of America, explained the verse.

In translation those verses of the Quran mean “Whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption in the land, it’s as if he has slain mankind entirely, and whoever saves one life, it’s as if he has saved mankind entirely.”

Note that President Obama used this passage in his Cairo Speech with precisely this meaning of peacefulness and prohibition on killing, as do many apologists for Islam. And we Westerners, born and bred in a civil society where such pacific sentiments are honored, are only too eager to believe what we are told. Indeed, here is a Muslim student, Sarah Aly, using this passage to attack quite forcefully people who quote the Quran out of context to promote hate.

sarah aly quran quote

Despite Sarah’s demand that we not take the Quran out of context, she not only misquotes the passage (“self-defense” is not in the passage), but precisely takes it out of context. Of course it’s in the service, allegedly, of stopping the spread of hatred, even as the context she eliminates gives sanction to both hatred and violence.

This passage is actually deeply troubling on multiple levels.