Girl Power: 9/11, the Middle East and the West

The following essay (originally published at The New Republic on Oct. 8, 2001) was co-written by Richard Landes and his father David LandesDavid passed away last month at the age of 89.

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David Landes

Among the popular explanations for September 11′s cunning, devastating attacks on the United States is American support for Israel. The argument runs like this: If the United States had not aided and abetted the Muslim world’s primary enemy, we would not have become Islam’s enemy ourselves, and therefore would not have been a target for reprisals. That argument, however, is a dodge. Even if there were no Israel, the Muslim world would still likely feel deep and deepening hostility toward the West.

That hostility predates the formation of the Jewish State, and has its roots in the West’s growing cultural, political, economic, and military dominance over the lands of Islam, a dominance that has been building for centuries but was by no means inevitable, and which many Muslims find baffling and infuriating. Hundreds of years ago, Islamic civilization stood at the pinnacle of global achievement, politically and intellectually.

Muslim empires ruled over the Middle East, stretched west to Spain and Portugal and east to India and the borderlands of China. Islam was deservedly reputed for its ecumenism, its ability to learn from and assimilate other societies. And then something went wrong.

In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, Islamic theologians shut down liberal philosophical schools. As a result of this banishing of “heresy” from an increasingly dogmatic Islam, the high culture lost its capaciousness and, hence, its adaptability. In the succeeding centuries, reactionary features of Islamic society hardened: slavery; the exclusion of women from public life; the vast gap of wealth and power separating elites from an impoverished population. At the same time new competitors sprang up in the West, committed by Christianity to an anti-Islamic position and by national ambitions to anti-Muslim warfare. As Muslims lost territory and technological superiority, they sought solace in the truths of yesteryear, in a refusal to sell out to the lies of the infidel.

The industrial revolution only made the imbalance worse. By the end of the nineteenth century, Western power had reduced the Middle East to a sandy piece of worldwide European empire. This formal dominion was later reversed, but by voluntary European retreat, not Muslim force of arms. In fact, the West no longer needed formal empire to profit from its technological and economic superiority. By the second half of the twentieth century, the difference between standards of living in the West and in the Muslim world had grown startlingly manifest and unbearably humiliating.

Why did muslim societies fall behind? Given the diversity of Islamic civilizations, of course, and the complexity of historical change, there are many, many answers. But one that has received too little attention–both in the West and in the Islamic world–is the evolution of Islamic societies’ treatment of women. That treatment, needless to say, differs in different parts of the Muslim world. Indeed, to take just one example of Islamic society’s openness to female power, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey, and Indonesia have all been ruled in recent years by women. But nonetheless, compared to the West, the lives of women in most of the Muslim world are remarkably circumscribed. While Christian theology has, to a significant degree, reformed its backward views of women, Islamic theology has been much slower to do so. Muslim women are excluded from much of public space and, according to the Hadith, Mohammad said, “I was shown the hellfire and that the majority of its dwellers are women.” This fundamental inequality makes Muslim societies substantially less productive–not only by denying opportunity to women, but by inhibiting a meritocratic spirit among men.

And the oppression of women may not only help explain why Islamic societies have fallen behind the West. It may also help explain why they find the West so culturally threatening. Israel–where women don bikinis on the beach, attend university in large numbers, and are required to serve in the military–represents a deeply subversive example for many of its Middle Eastern neighbors. Osama bin Laden, in particular, has voiced outrage at the presence of American women soldiers on Saudi soil. Might he be worried that the women of the Gulf are watching them and taking note? For bin Laden and his followers, these are not mere cultural differences. They are evidence of Islam’s purity and the West’s corruption, and part of an apocalyptic struggle for universal salvation through Muslim dominion. The stakes are cosmic, ultimate; and the duty of all Muslims is not only to reject the adversary but also to destroy him.

Given the depth of Islam’s conflict with the West, trading Israel for Syria’s or Iran’s help in the reprisals against bin Laden will win us no real friends; it will only convince the Muslim world that America can be brought to betray its allies with the right combinations of threats and face-saving formulas. The real work–and, sadly, it will take far longer than even the war against terrorism–must take place within Islam itself. Self-criticism rather than blaming others, receptivity rather than dogmatic aggression, especially to their own women–these are some of the difficult steps Islam needs to take if it wants to regain the glory for which it so desperately longs.

This video clip might just upturn the way people think about the conflict

Cross posted at This Ongoing War, a blog edited by Arnold and Frimet Roth

We hope the imagery below has gone viral by the time you see it here.

The caption on the LiveLeaks site where we first saw it says very little about who is behind it or their goals. But that’s less significant than might appear to be the case at first. Though they participants are speaking Arabic, you don’t really need to get into the meaning of their words to fully comprehend the message on show here.

What the people in front of the cameras and behind them have discovered, and which far too few in Western countries understand, is that if you take yourself seriously enough while inventing an entire narrative and looking injured and/or offended, practically no one is going to object or reveal the truth. In other words, Pallywood (“a bustling industry of alfresco cinema“, according to the man who coined the term).

It has been a standard part of news coverage here in the Arab vs Israel conflict for at least a decade. It’s in evidence . Faked photos (sometimes call fauxtography), faked clashes, faked injuries, faked deaths, faked dramatic poses, faked arguments and faked responses.

Take a look at the whole two-minute clip:

 

Now, while it’s still freshly planted in your mind, would be a good time to take a look at the aldurah.com website, and the ground-breaking, 18-minute video “Pallywood: According to Palestinian Sources” (2008), the work of Prof. Richard Landes.

Fisking Rachel Shabi: How Dare the Israelis Suggest Palestinians Lied!

Cross posted by Richard Landes 

When the Guardian came out with their first article on the Israeli report on Al Durah, I thought that even though it was done by Harriet Sherwood, it was fairly neutral. I should have known that CiF would deliver the goods. Below the reaction of Rachel Shabi, with fisking.

dura“So low?” Lots of people and lots of governments have faked deaths. It’s not a particularly heinous or rare phenomenon. But wait, the Palestinians have done much worse: they’ve killed their own children and then made a media circus of trying to blame Israel.

Or wait, maybe the Israeli accusation of fakery is itself the indication of a horrifying new nadir. An Israeli report has concluded that Muhammad al-Dura, the 12-year-old Palestinian whose death in 2000 in Gaza was captured by a French public TV channel, was not killed by Israelis – and may in fact not be dead at all.

Back then, a short film of Muhammad and his father, both caught in a shootout, trying helplessly to shelter against a barrage of gunfire, was narrated by French Channel 2 correspondent Charles Enderlin and relayed around the world, turning the boy into a symbol of the brutality of the second intifada and the Israeli occupation. Now, Israel says those same images are yet more proof of a global campaign to delegitimise Israel – and are, additionally, attempts to invoke the blood libel.

Not invoke… deploy. If you look at the particularly vigorous life of all kinds of blood libels in the wake of Al Durah, from the extensive TV Ramadan series (2005) to the new variants on the old European variety (Muslim blood for Purim Humantashen in addition to Passover matzah), the blood libel is in the cognitive bloodstream of the Arab world.

And so begins another ugly bout of the endless propaganda disease that is so endemic to this conflict. Israel is reported to have killed 1,397 Palestinian children not involved in hostilities since the start of the second intifada, according to the NGO Defence for Children International in Palestine, but there are no investigations into their deaths because none have been as emblematic as Muhammad.

I’m in favor of an investigation of all of them, but I doubt that many of these statistics will hold up to scrutiny. B’tselem, whose figures are considerably lower, itself has a serious reliability problem. In any case I’m willing to bet that (had we serious evidence) we would find:

  • that the number is greatly inflated by including older teenagers (16-17) who are often combatants
  • that in no case were any of those children deliberately murdered (as Talal Abu Rahma explicitly accused Israel of doing)
  • that some of them were killed by Palestinians as herehereherehere, and here (not to mention honor-killings)
  • that a goodly number were killed in situations where their lives were deliberately endangered by Palestinian combatants firing at Israel from behind them

There is perhaps no society on earth with as dark a history of promoting a child death cult, sacrificing its children, encouraging its children to seek death, praising those who die, than the Palestinians. Any serious investigation here will not go well for the Palestinians, who systematically, indeed ghoulishly exploit the children whose deaths they cause.

kid killed by hamas

Egyptian Prime Minister Kandil and Hamas Chief Haniya kissing a baby killed by Hamas rockets aimed at Israeli children.

Shabi:

Those images of his terrified face seconds before his death were relayed around the world and are now burned into so many hearts: there are postage stamps of him, parks and streets named after him and screen-grab posters of that terrible moment raised on roads across the Arab and Muslim world.

And the most likely explanation for the terror is that Palestinian marksmen were firing bullets over their heads (but very close). Their expressions suggest that this was not what they had signed up for.

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The opening scene: the circular cloud over their heads indicates a bullet from head on, not from a 30 degree angle (i.e., from the Israeli position)

Shabi:

This investigation, commissioned by Binyamin Netanyahu last year, seems intended only to give fuel to rightist Israel supporters – any report seeking to get closer to the truth might have bothered to speak to Muhammad’s father, or Enderlin, or France’s Channel 2. Instead, what this document provides is spin and no new evidence. It has cued a flood of commentary, about lying Palestinians and a hostile foreign media, from rightwing Israeli commentators.

Is it to be ignored because it gives fuel to those who think that Palestinians systematically lie in their cognitive war against Israel (something easily documentable), and that the foreign media is hostile, specifically in their predilection for passing on Palestinian accusations, no matter how unsupported by the evidence – as real news to their audiences back home? If it’s not your take on matters, not interested?

If my take needs Al Durah as a symbol of Israeli brutality, I don’t care if its been faked, it’s true. If the Israelis paint Al Durah as a symbol of Palestinian malevolence and journalistic incompetence, they must be lying.

Shabi:

But what stands out, yet again, is the disregard for anything Palestinians might have to contribute to the story. In effect, this report is saying to Palestinians: your words, your pain and your losses are insignificant, erasable bumps in this narrative.

First of all, Palestinian testimony in this affair is ludicrous. Talal Abu Rahma has been caught in a continuous string of false statements and sly retractions. The other “witnesses,” whose testimony Enderlin bizarrely submitted to court, talk of helicopter gunships that never were.

Secondly, given that Palestinians systematically try to weaponize their pain against Israel, even when other Palestinians directly caused it (see above and below), it’s really a bit much for you to get indignant when someone tries to call a halt to the charade.

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Jihad Masharawi

Jihad Masharawi, BBC reporter, holding his baby, almost certainly killed by an errant Hamas rocket. I feel the pain, I just can’t get behind the way that it’s used to scapegoat Israel for Palestinian brutality.

Shabi:

It is no wonder that Muhammad’s father, Jamal al-Dura, has said: “What saddens me is that I feel alone in the face of the Israeli propaganda machine …”, going on to lament a lack of support from either the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah or the Hamas government in Gaza.

I would take that as a sign that even the PA and Hamas aren’t willing to take this one on. “Everyone” – even (or especially) the Palestinian elites know this is a fake.

Shabi:

With this investigation, Israel’s government exposes its obsession with trying to win the propaganda war, as though this will magically make everything OK. Netanyahu has called the al-Dura incident part of the “ongoing, mendacious campaign to delegitimise Israel”. But the problem is that nothing could possibility delegitimise Israel more than its prolonged and oppressive occupation of the Palestinian people – the escalating deaths;

Escalating? Actually deaths in this conflict are exceptionally low. You want “escalating deaths” try Syria next door, where in less than three years more people have been killed (70,000) than in the entire Arab-Israeli conflict over 65 years.

media-vs-casualty-footprint

Shabi:

…the daily, grinding humiliation.

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Ladies in a Gaza supermarket, humiliated in their open air prison.

Shabi:

The longer it continues, the more such attempts to obfuscate or detract from this reality – rather than bring about its end – will only make matters worse.

This is not reality that you’re talking about. This is a constructed lethal narrative, supported by statements that fly directly in the face of reality. (E.g., the Palestinians under occupation have the highest life expectancy, lowest infant mortality, and highest rate of higher education, than any other Arabs in the Middle East, except Israeli Arabs). Your article just illustrates the kind of reality-defying narrative that suits your purposes, the very epitome of the Al Durah Journalism that the Israeli report critiques.

The Guardian’s lethal narrative about snipers who murder innocent children.

On Mar 26, 2001, an Israeli named Shalhevet Pass, age 10 months, was killed by Palestinian sniper fire at the entrance to the Avraham Avinu neighborhood in Hebron. Shalhevet was shot in the brain, while in her stroller - with her parents by her side.  

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Shalhevet Pass

Chillingly, an investigation ruled that the the infant was shot deliberately.

The Jewish baby was one of dozens of Israelis who have been murdered as the result of Palestinian sniper fire emanating from Gaza or the West Bank since the early 90s.

Pass’s murder came to mind when I first read a 2012 report by the Guardian’s Chris McGreal suggesting that IDF soldiers deliberately took aim at Palestinian kids – a narrative of Israeli cruelty which actually paled in comparison to a 2005 story he wrote which was even more explicit in evoking the image of such sadistic villainy.

In ‘Rachel Corrie verdict exposes Israeli military mindset‘, Aug. 28, McGreal, in an effort to contextualize the death of Rachel Corrie, and dismissal of the Corrie family lawsuit, as symptomatic of something much darker, argued that “the state of the collective Israeli military mind…cast the definition of enemies so widely that children walking down the street were legitimate targets if they crossed a red line that was invisible to everyone but the soldiers looking at it.”

McGreal’s 2005 Guardian reportcross posted at one well-known conspiracy site – was titled in a manner leaving nothing to the imagination:

snipers

Here are some passages from McGreal’s tale.

“It was the shooting of Asma Mughayar that swept away any lingering doubts I had about how it is the Israeli army kills so many Palestinian children and civilians.

Asma, 16, and her younger brother, Ahmad, were collecting laundry from the roof of their home in the south of the Gaza Strip in May last year when they were felled by an Israeli army sniper. Neither child was armed or threatening the soldier, who fired unseen through a hole punched in the wall of a neighbouring block of flats.

the army changed its account and claimed the pair were killed by a Palestinian, though there was persuasive evidence pointing to the Israeli sniper’s nest.

In southern Gaza, the killings take place in a climate that amounts to a form of terror against the population. Random fire into Rafah and Khan Yunis has claimed hundreds of lives, including five children shot as they sat at their school desks.Many others have died when the snipers must have known who was in their sights – children playing football, sitting outside home, walking back from school.”

McGreal provided no source for the fantastical story – which was, perhaps, inspired by dispatches in 2001 from Gaza by the discredited American reporter Chris Hedges - and certainly nothing resembling actual evidence that Israeli snipers fired on Palestinian children.

Of course, the most iconic image, preceding the reports by McGreal and Hedges, purporting to characterize unimaginable Israeli malevolence – that Israelis deliberately kill innocent and defenseless children - was the reported death, in Sept of 2000, of Mohammed al-Durrah.

The incident – illustrated by a video purportedly showing a father standing by impotently as the Israelis shot down, in cold blood, his terrified son – was quickly framed in the West  as a justifiable source of outrage for “a beleaguered Palestinian people fighting for their independence“.

Despite the fact that the evidence of the case overwhelmingly demonstrates that al-Durrah was almost certainly not shot by Israelis, and, in fact, in all likelihood, was not shot at all, what Shelby Steele describes as poetic truths triumphed over the empirical evidence, and a lethal narrative about Zionist brutality, which continues to incite Jihadists to this day, emerged victorious.

This one incident became an icon of hatred towards Israel.  

Countries had postage stamps honoring al-Durrah. Daniel Pearl was killed to avenge his “death”. Osama Bin Laden used the incident to incite before 9/11, and town squares & academies have been named after him.  Al-Durrah was even referred to in the Arab media as “a tiny sleeping Jesus“.

In short, he became a poster child for the Intifada, and as proof of Zionist malice.

More recently, a French Jihadist named Muhammad Merah murdered Jewish school-girls in cold blood outside their school in Toulouse to avenge the murder of Palestinian children at the hands of Israeli soldiers. 

Yet, how many people in the West even know the name ‘Shalhevet Pass’?

Indeed, no matter how absurd the charges that the IDF targets innocent Palestinian kids, such morally reckless narratives evoking the specter of unimaginable Jewish malevolence has become so ingrained in the Islamist and extreme-left imagination that the facts regarding such libels have become largely irrelevant.

Richard Landes explained the significance of the media’s unfathomable credulity in the face of such crude propaganda, thus:

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

When Chris McGreal conjures the grotesque image of bloodthirsty IDF soldiers ruthlessly taking aim at innocent Palestinian children, the already powerful Judeophobic antipathy – nurtured continually in the Middle East – becomes that much more impenetrable, and violence directed at Israeli and non-Israeli Jews that much more probable.

Related articles

In support of Jews goin’ rogue

Is it possible that the whole world is wrong and [the Jews] are right?”

– Ahad Ha-‘Am, 1893 (about the blood libels)

Kofi Anan, 2002 (about the Jenin “massacre”)

“How impoverished a world, when the answer to that question is no.”

- Richard Landes

Glenn Greenwald believes in ‘American Exceptionalism’.

He is a firm believer that, contrary to what most Americans think, his country is exceptionally oppressive to its perceived enemies, both foreign and domestic.  The America conjured by Greenwald daily on his blog is that of an imperialist hegemon exporting ‘terror’ around the globe - a putative democracy which stifles dissent and denies true freedom to its citizens.

One day historians may look back at the likes of Greenwald and marvel at the political dynamic in early 21st century America which influenced affluent and privileged Americans – those blessed with freedom and prosperity unimaginable to most – to be so hyper-critical of their own nation and possessed with a seeming religious belief in their country’s immutable sin.

While it would be easy to contextualize Greenwald’s hostility towards Israel – and the ‘Comment is Free’ columnist’s history of employing Judeophobic tropes in the service of criticizing the state’s American supporters – in a manner imputing antisemitism, a different conclusion should be reached.  Though, admittedly, he seems to have accepted narratives about the dangers of Jewish power which are often advanced by anti-Jewish racists, his anti-Zionism seems to more accurately represent a political derivative of his anti-Americanism.

The American public’s overwhelming support for Israel likely only indicates, to Greenwald, (ala Noam Chomsky) imperialist overlap.

To Greenwald, both nations’ proclivities to ignore the fiction known as the “international community” and go their own way in protecting their interests and in refusing to bow before the UN designated authorities on moral behavior (in sober recognition of the selective justice pursued by such arbiters of civility) makes them especially worthy of opprobrium.

Indeed, quite recently the Guardian blogger expressed concern that, contrary to conventional wisdom on which nations in the world should be criticized for flagrantly defying international norms, it is the stubbornness of Israel (and the U.S.) which should rightly earn them the status of “rogue states”. (A short quiz on the US, Israel on ‘rogue nation’ status, CiF, Dec. 4).

Their sins, per Greenwald?  Opposing Palestinians observer status at the UN, opposition to calls for international oversight of Israel’s nuclear facilities, and Netanyahu’s decision to allow for zoning and planning for future Israeli homes between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim.

For Greenwald, it simply isn’t possible that the whole world is wrong – that granting the Palestinians a road to statehood independent of negotiations and without assurances as to the nascent state’s peaceful intent, is advisable – and Israel and the U.S. are right.

Nor, evidently, can Greenwald conceive why Israel may be a bit suspicious that Arab-led efforts to neuter Israel’s military advantages may not be motivated by the best of intentions.

And, of course, Greenwald is baffled as to why the Jewish state is hesitant to defer to the collective wisdom of leaders in Brussels, London and NYC before engaging in planning decisions near their capital.

Though these all represent unique questions, they are also tied in to a larger dynamic often at play within the pages of ‘Comment is Free’ – a tendency of those who fancy themselves anti-colonialists to engage in a form of soft colonialism which continually fancies in haughtily lecturing Jews on what they need to do, and what they need not do, to pacify their enemies and achieve peace.

The history of such imperiousness attitudes in the face of determined Jewish will predates, by quite a few years, Glenn Greenwald and the New Left – and indeed the evocation of the ‘obstinate Jew’ underlay much of early Christian anti-Judaism.

In its modern (20th century) form Jews were asked why they stubbornly infested a continent instead of packing up and leaving for Palestine – to be followed, decades later, with the inverse query: why don’t they get the hell out of Palestine and return to their European cities of “origin”?

Thousands of Jews ignored warnings to avoid emigrating to Palestine during WWII, as the consensus was that the land couldn’t possibly economically support such a massive influx of impoverished refugees.

Jews were told to delay, or permanently avoid, declaring statehood in 1948, as Western leaders were certain that they’d be horribly defeated by numerically superior enemy forces.

Levi Eshkol was told not to launch a strike against Arab armies, which were amassed along their border in June 1967 and planning a catastrophic attack, but to wait instead for the international community to intervene.  Golda was told much the same in the days leading up to the surprise Arab attack on Yom Kippur in 1973.

The voices of wisdom and protocol were certain that Menachem Begin absolutely should not strike Iraq’s nuclear facility in 1981.

Oslo, Israelis were assured by statesmen and diplomats, would moderate Palestinians and reduce their motivation for terror.  The ‘Land for Peace’ formula, they were told, was simply axiomatic.  

In 2001, when Israel denied it had committed a massacre in Jenin, the spokesman for the ‘international community’ – and more than a few journalists – scolded Jews for their pomposity: How could it be that Israel was right and the whole world wrong?

When a few stubborn scholars began to critically examine the  death of Mohammad al-Durrah, many stood aghast at the audacity of questioning what everyone simply knew to be true.

Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon would make Hezbollah less powerful, they said. And, similar territorial concessions in Gaza would neuter Hamas, denying the Islamist group their raison d’être – and would surely bring peace to Israel’s south.  

The roots of radicalism lay in occupation we were and still are told – a political calculus not scrutinized even after thousands of rockets have been launched from unoccupied land.  And, of course, defending yourselves against such premeditated acts of terror emanating from sovereign Palestinian territory will only radicalize the radicals. 

Through it all, the secular sages who continue to grace the mainstream media pages have never waned in their beliefs: that they know what’s best, their ‘tough love’ will save Jews from themselves.

Yet, despite being an evidently stubborn lot – or, more likely, because of it – Jews (not unlike Americans) are alive and quite well, proud, prosperous, masters of their fate and still audaciously goin’ rogue. 

The Dead Baby War: Fisking Max Fisher

Cross posted by Richard Landes at Augean Stables under the full title: “The Dead Baby War: Reflections on Palestinian Thanatography and Western Stupefication”.

Max Fisher, formerly of the Atlantic Monthly, now the WaPo’s “foreign policy advisor,”  just posted a reflection on the war of images in the current Gaza operation. In it he makes every effort to be “even-handed.” And in the end, comes up empty-handed. A remarkable example of how intelligent people can look carefully at evidence and learn nothing. If I didn’t know better (which I don’t), I might think he was doing some “damage control,” if not for Hamas (in which case, presumably it would be unconscious), then for the paradigm that permits him not to acknowledge Hamas’ character.

The Israeli-Palestinian politics of a bloodied child’s photo

Posted by Max Fisher on November 16, 2012 at 3:17 pm

 

Left, a journalist for BBC Arabic holds his son’s body. Center, an emergency worker carries an Israeli infant from the site of a rocket strike. Right, Egypt’s prime minister and a Hamas official bend over a young boy’s body. (AP, Reuters, Reuters)

Wars are often defined by their images, and the renewed fighting between Israel and Gaza-based Hamas has already produced three such photographs in as many days. In the first, displayed on the front page of Thursday’s Washington Post, BBC journalist Jihad Misharawi carries the body of his 11-month-old son, killed when a munition landed on his Gaza home. An almost parallel image shows an emergency worker carrying an Israeli infant, bloody but alive, from the scene of a rocket attack that had killed three adults. The third, from Friday, captures Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil, in his visit to a Gazan hospital, resting his hand on the head of a boy killed in an airstrike.

Each tells a similar story: a child’s body, struck by a heartless enemy, held by those who must go on. It’s a narrative that speaks to the pain of a grieving people, to the anger at those responsible, and to a determination for the world to bear witness. But the conversations around these photos, and around the stories that they tell, are themselves a microcosm of the distrust and feelings of victimhood that have long plagued the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Studiously even-handed. One of my favorite memes: “both sides…”

The old arguments of the Middle East are so entrenched that the photos, for all their emotional power, were almost immediately pressed into the service of one side or another.

Actually, there’s a huge difference between the sides. Israel has, over the years, shown enormous reluctance to use the photos of their dead and wounded to appeal for public sympathy; whereas Palestinians have actually created victims in order to parade their suffering in front of the public. Indeed, Palestinian TV revels in pictures of the dead (so much so, that when my daughter wanted to help me with some logging of PLO TV footage, I had to decline lest she be brutalized by the material). They systematically use the media to both arouse sympathy from an “empathic” West, and to arouse hatred and a desire for revenge among Arabs and Muslims. Nothing uglier.

Israel, on the other hand, studiously avoids pictures of the dead, and only a shocking incident like Ramallah can break those taboos. They were so reluctant to exploit these images that, even at the height of the suicide campaign (2002-3) they refused to release pictures of the dead victims. The two cultures could not be more different on this score, and yet, Fisher has no problem finding his symmetry.

To obfuscate this fundamental difference with a pleasing even-handedness symbolizes the literal stupefication of our culture that necessarily accompanies the politically correct paradigm (PCP1), founded on a dogmatic cognitive egocentrism. It forces one not to see critical information. It’s as if we were under orders to not notice everything that a good detective should pick up on, as if we were required to assist the clean-up crews that want to frame the story to their advantage. In such a world, the protagonists of the Mentalist, Lie to Me, Elementary, CSI, House, are not merely unwelcome, they are banished.

Prayers (selichot) for the ‘As-a-Jew’ Progressive

Cross posted by my ‘favorite’ medievalist, Richard Landes

(Selichot refers to special prayers for forgiveness, recited during the month preceding Rosh Hashanah)

Steven Plaut has put out a (perhaps too-) long list of selichot for the “Oslo Left.”

I had prepared a meditation for progressive, as-a-Jews, who feel compelled to flagellate Israel’s breast in front of the world:

  • How often have I accepted uncritically a lethal narrative aimed at my own people, just in order to “look good,” to “save face” with my friends, who expect me to rise above being a tribal, Israel-firster.
  • How often have I admitted to crimes on behalf of my people without checking to see if they were accurate?
  • How often have I failed to speak out against the depravity of the Palestinian leadership, out of fear of being called a racist and an Islamophobe?
  • How often have I allowed people who wish to destroy my people to use me to Jew-wash their genocidal hatreds.
  • How often have I been tempted to become haughty and hate my people in my heart, and feed the flames of hatred against them, because their behavior shames me in front of my honor group, the “Hamoulah of the global Left”?

Suggestions for further ones – I’m sure there are many – are welcome.

My ‘Times of Israel’ essay: ‘Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian and the anti-imperialism of fools’

The following was published at Times of Israel

The Guardian’s most egregious moral blind spot – especially in light of the media group’s claim to represent anti-racist values – pertains to their editors’ licensing of commentators who possess an antipathy towards Jews and routinely advance tropes indistinguishable from what is normally associated with far-right Judeophobia.

Such polemicists (who are granted the media group’s progressive kashrut license) are typically of the radical Islamic variety – those who espouse values which are incompatible with even the broadest understanding of progressivism yet are given a moral pass by virtue of their cynical use of the language of human rights. (Richard Landes refers to such political posers as “demopaths.”)

Indeed, Guardian editors often grant members of terrorist groups, or their supporters, space at the Guardian’s blog, ‘Comment is Free‘.

However, the Guardian-approved socially acceptable anti-Israel brand of reactionary politics isn’t limited to those of the Islamist persuasion.

Ben White, who penned an appalling apologia for anti-Semitism for the extremist publication CounterPunch, is routinely published at “Comment is Free” – and given a platform to advance his malign obsession with the Jewish state.

The Guardian even offered space, in their letters section, to Alison Weir - accurately characterized as one of the few modern-day promoters of the ancient anti-Semitic blood libel.

Gilad Atzmon, who has literally endorsed the conspiracies advanced in the Elders of the Protocols of Zion that Jews are indeed trying to take over the world, has been the subject of quite laudatory profiles at the Guardian – and also had a letter published.

More recently, it was announced that Salon.com blogger, Glenn Greenwald, will be moving to the Guardian.

Greenwald (who blogs at Salon.com) advances a brand of anti-imperialism, much in the tradition of Guardian Associate Editor Seumas Milne, informed by a palpable loathing of America, a nation he sees as a dangerous force of evil in the world. Greenwald’s anti-Americanism is so intense he once compared the US overthrow of Saddam Hussein to the Nazi conquest of Europe.

As is often the case with Guardian-brand commentators, Greenwald’s anti-imperialist ideological package includes a vicious anti-Zionism, and a corresponding belief on the injurious influence of organized US Jewry on American foreign policy in the Middle East.

Here’s a sample of his musings on the villainy of organized Jewry.

  • “So absolute has the Israel-centric stranglehold on American policy been that the US Government has made it illegal to broadcast Hezbollah television stations.”
  • “Not even our Constitution’s First Amendment has been a match for the endless exploitation of American policy, law and resources [by the Israel lobby] to target and punish Israel’s enemies.”

Read the rest of my essay, here.

Richard Landes: The Real ‘Poison’ in the Middle East Conflict

Cross posted by Richard Landes, who blogs at Augean Stables

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related articles

The Guardian and Hamas: Willing Dupe and Immutable Victim

I came across a passage from a Shelby Steele essay in 2010 (excerpts of which I posted below) which may accurately explain the Guardians’ continuing sympathy for even the most violent, antisemitic Islamists: Hamas members who represent the antithesis of even the broadest understanding of liberal values.

Since 2011, the broadsheet which aspires to be the world’s leading liberal voice has published the Islamist terror groups’ head of international relations Osama Hamdan, Hamas advisorAzzam Tamimi, Musa Abumarzuq - deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau, and today Hamas’ political leader and Gaza’s Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh.

 Steele wrote:

“[T]he merest echo of the shameful Western past is enough to chill support for Israel in the West.

The West …lacks the self-assurance to see the Palestinians accurately. Here again it is safer in the white West to see the Palestinians as they advertise themselves—as an “occupied” people denied sovereignty and simple human dignity by a white Western colonizer. The West is simply too vulnerable to the racist stigma to object to this “neo-colonial” characterization.

Our problem in the West is understandable. [We] don’t want to lose more moral authority than we already have. So…choose not to see certain things that are right in front of us. For example, we ignore that the Palestinians…are driven to militancy and war not by legitimate complaints against Israel or the West but by an internalized sense of inferiority. If the Palestinians got everything they want—a sovereign nation —they would wake the next morning still hounded by a sense of inferiority.

And the quickest cover for inferiority is hatred. The problem is not me; it is them. And in my victimization I enjoy a moral and human grandiosity—no matter how smart and modern my enemy is, I have the innocence that defines victims. I may be poor but my hands are clean. Even my backwardness and poverty only reflect a moral superiority.”

 The truth of Steele’s words is reflected by Ismail Haniyeh’s essay. The leader of a movement whose founding charter continually calls for the eradication of the Jewish state strikes the appropriate ‘liberal cords’ and plays the Guardian crowd like a fiddle.

Haniyeh begins his CiF essay We Palestinians are reclaiming our destiny, June 8th, thus:

“Some people think that the truth can be hidden with a little cover-up and decoration. But as time goes by, what is true is revealed, and what is fake fades away.”

Haniyeh is being a bit coy here. Is the fakery he speaks of the Jews’ erroneous connection to Israel? Perhaps the rhetorical obfuscation and craftiness over the truth (in need of ‘revelation’) is owed to the need for tip-towing around elements in his movement’s less than enlightened founding platform; those elements which command allegiance to the Protocols of the Elder of Zion and insist that there is indeed a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world.  

The Islamist leader now clearly aspires to more lofty and elevated prose (though, as you’ll see in this passage, falls for the garden-variety analogies).

“…our destiny dictated that we should become like a fruit overhanging a garden fence: each passer-by would try to pluck us, while we struggled to cling to the vine. But our right to our land…is an inalienable right guaranteed by all norms and laws. The “Palestinian problem” has many dimensions, but at its root is Israel’s occupation.” 

Hint for the truly perplexed and/or those merely taking the Guardian seriously: where the Hamas leader writes that the “Palestinian problem has many dimensions, but at its roots is Israel’s occupation.”, by “occupation” he meant of course to write “existence”.

Now the progressive Haniyeh pivots to the downright risible:

“We as a people want to live in our homeland, the land of our ancestors, in freedom, dignity and democracy, and with a just peace that restores our rights.”

A more exquisite example of what Richard Landes terms the Demopath vs. Dupe dynamic would be difficult to find. This dynamic indeed lies at the heart of the Guardian’s liberal cognitive egocentrism (the tendency to believe that almost everyone wants positive-sum solutions – and prohibits people from imagining malevolence). 

Demopaths, such as Hamas, are – per Landes – people who use democratic language and invoke human rights only when it serves their interests.  Thus, they are able to invoke the word “democracy” without a hint of cognitive dissonance even in the face of their bloody coup in 2007 which purged Gaza of any last trace of democratic opposition and the dearth of human rights in the territory for religious minorities, women or gays.

Dupes, per Landes, are people who take demopaths at face value, accept their position and accuse those who suspect demopathy of demonizing, essentializing, prejudice, or racism.

I’d add one more component to Landes’ definition of a “Dupe”, Guardian style. ‘Comment is Free’s decision to legitimize Hamas, per Shelby Steele, seems necessarily incumbent upon the terrorist organisation not only effectively employing the language of human rights, but using it in a broader narrative claiming victimhood. 

Who are the Palestinians in the eyes of the Guardian, after all, other than a group (via a strictly enforced political orthodoxy) juxtaposed with the Jewish other: a political abstraction void of complexity or human color?

Without this perception of victimhood, the Palestinians would be forced to be held accountable for their cultures’ political and moral faults and egregious social and economic underdevelopment – difficult truths in an honor-shame culture

The silence of the Guardian (and the West more broadly) in face of decades of the Palestinians’ (post Holocaust) endemic antisemitism is shameful, for sure, but seems in many ways to be informed by their own contempt towards those whose sympathy they claim to possess.

When you deny adults moral agency, you are in effect infantilizing them.  You are implicitly acknowledging that they cannot compete morally with other adults; that their culture can not be held to the same ethical standards as others.

Is there a more clear definition of racism? 

Hijacking Holocaust Remembrance at major U.S. university to demonize Israel as Nazi state

H/T Richard Landes

This video, released by Americans for Peace and Tolerance on Campus, documents Northeastern University faculty members abusing Holocaust Remembrance events for political purposes. Northeastern professors and their invited guest lecturers are seen comparing Israelis to Nazis and denying Jewish peoplehood — on tape recordings and in internal emails. 

Some making these claims were invited by professors holding the Stotsky Professorship in Jewish Historical and Cultural Studies, established specifically to study the genocide of European Jewry.

 

Muslim Anti-Semitism, Israel, and the Dynamics of Self-Destructive Scapegoating

Cross posted by Richard Landes, who blogs at Augean Stables

One of my daughters recently wrote me:

“I was speaking to a friend of mine who had been dating a very, very, anti Israel activist for about a year. We don’t usually breech the topic but she asked me if most of the Muslim antisemitism in Europe wasn’t based on their dislike of what is going on in Israel and not so much on religion.”

This is a widely held belief among not only anti-Zionists, but among liberals in general. It takes a number of forms, all of which serve to explain the explosive and virulent hatreds of the Muslim world for Israel and the Jews (who support it), as a function of the evil that Israel has done to the Palestinians. It includes the widely held assumption that suicide bombings were a response to the despair that Palestinians felt because Israel denied them independence and dignity. It is also directly related to the problem of “Islamophobia is the new Anti-Semitism,” in which speaking of Muslim anti-Semitism becomes a new form of anti-Semitism.

I won’t so much argue against this approach – it has some data points to deploy – as I will argue an alternative approach to the problem, then discuss the consequences of (mis)reading the situation by either approach, and let readers decide for themselves which makes more sense.

From my point of view (medievalist familiar with Christian anti-Semitic words and deeds, and a student of the current scene), the argument works exactly in the opposite direction: Palestinian anti-Semites have produced the images – icons of hatred – that, through modern media, have spread the virus throughout the Muslim world. The violence that Israel does against the Palestinians – a fraction of the violence that Arab leaders do towards their own people with far less provocation – responds to Palestinian attacks inspired by anti-Semitc propaganda.

Because the Western mainstream news media (MSNM) has mainstreamed some of this propaganda (inexcusably but pervasively), many people, including my daughter’s friend – whose only data points are the TV images of terrible violence Israelis do to Palestinians, and TV images of Palestinian hatred – assume that the hatreds are at least in part justified. The number is legion of French Jews in the early “aughts,” under assault from a wave of hostility, who heard some variant of “no wonder French Muslims hate you, look at what your brethren in Israel do to their cousins in Palestine.”

Of course, let’s grant the news media everything they claim – that Israelis “massacred” hundreds of Palestinians in Jenin (2002), that they devastated Lebanon in 2006, that they killed over 1400 Gazans mostly civilians in Operation Cast Lead. This is nothing in comparison with what toxic Arab dictators do to their own people, the over million Muslims that Saddam Hussein killed in his career, the tens of thousands that Hafez al Assad killed a matter of weeks in the city of Hama (1982), even the brutal behavior that marks the current authorities in the Arab world, despite the watchful gaze of the world. And yet we have nothing resembling the thorough “critique” of Zionism in the Arab world that tackles the far older and more widespread problem of authoritarianism in Arab political culture. In a sense, anyone who “grants” the Palestinians and other Muslims “permission” to hate the Jews “given what Israel does to them,” just reveals their unthinking racism: “I don’t really expect anything remotely rational or balanced from these folks. If you piss them off, you deserve their rage.”

But to return to the main issue, the silence of the MSNM about the pervasiveness of a grotesque hatred: it is guilty in two senses here. In addition to reporting Palestinian lethal narratives bordering on blood libels as news, they did not report the hatreds that lay behind such narratives. In the summer of 2000, before the collapse of the Oslo Peace talks at Camp David, months before the intifada, the PA was blasting hatred of Israel and calls to war on its media. Perhaps the MSNM, like Clinton and Barak, were surprised by Arafat’s “no” at Camp David because they did not listen to – or heed – what he and his friends were saying in Arabic. On the contrary, driven by a (soft millennial) belief that peace was around the corner, they felt that dwelling on such bad news would queer the peace process. I still remember someone in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem telling me they would not allow Itamar Markus to present his material (what Palestinians say in Arabic), to the foreign media, “because Israel is officially in favor of the peace process.” As if denying the problem were somehow going to bring peace.

Nor did this change once war broke out. On October 12, 2000, Palestinians shouting “Revenge for the blood of Muhammad al Durah!” tore two Israeli reservists apart with their bare hands and paraded them through the streets. The next day, Sheikh Halabiya gave a sermon calling on Muslims to slaughter the Jews (NB Jews, not Israelis) wherever they see them. Two weeks later, NYT veteran reporter William Orme wrote a piece assessing the Israeli claim that the horrendous violence of the intifada – the attacks on Israelis on both sides of the Green Line – came from the incitement of the Palestinian media. In it he never discussed the al Durah case (which he had specifically covered, and which was the most explosive component in the campaign of incitement, and which his Palestinian informant alluded to when he claimed (dishonestly) claimed that “we have no fabricated pictures, and no fabricated stories”); and when it came time to quote a passage to illustrate incitement, he quoted the genocidal Halabiya as saying, “Labor, Likud, they’re all Jews.” How could a consumer of the MSNM – much less the anti-Zionist media – know any of this?

As a result, the ferocious strain of anti-Semitism in Palestinian irredentism, from the Mufti – who visited Hitler in Berlin 70 years ago today, discussed his contribution to the “final solution,” and pumped the Arab world with Nazi propaganda – to the escaped Nazis who fled to Egypt and Syria to continue their work, to Arafat and his pseudo-secular patter of “national liberation,” to Hamas’ apocalyptic paranoia, has gone largely undocumented and unknown to the average observer of what’s quaintly known as the “Middle East conflict.” Nor is this merely a quirk of journalism, but a widespread practice of the “post-colonial” field of Middle East studies in the wake of Edward Said’s masterpiece of cognitive warfare forbidding Westerners from “othering” Muslims.

Why the Arab/Muslim anti-Semitism? In a book published in the 1986, Bernard Lewis noted that by and large, even though Arabs adopted anti-Semitic material from the worst European sources as part of an anti-Zionist campaign, they remained friendly to Jews personally: 9-5 anti-semitism of the workplace.

No longer. Jews have been driven from places like Egypt, and now “democracy” crowds rallied by the Obama-administration-designated “moderate” Muslim Brotherhood chant, “One day we will kill all Jews.” (As Barry Rubin noted, does that make them “moderate” because they don’t want to do it this week?) Since 2000, Arab and Muslim news media have been awash with gory video depictions of the Elders of Zion carrying out their blood sacrifices of innocent Muslim youth. Specialists disagree over whether this is primarily an import from the worst of European hate-mongering, especially the Nazis, or an indigenous growth with roots in the Qur’an.

From a the point of view of a medievalist who studies millennialism, both these sources share a single genealogy, that of supersessionist, invidious identity formation activated by honor-shame insecurity. Both Islam and Christianity arise as apocalyptic offshoots of Judaism – Jesus and Muhammad were both “roosters” announcing in the former case, the imminent arrival of the kingdom of heaven, in the latter, the imminent Last Judgment. In both cases, early on, the founding prophets included Jews in their scope of those to whom they preached in the hopes of winning them over into apocalyptic time. In both cases their effort to win over the Jews and their prophecies failed: still today, neither kingdom of heaven, nor the Last Judgment have occurred. In both cases, one strain of belief blamed the Jews for the apocalyptic failure.

In both cases, the newer religions developed a replacement theology whereby they did not just become a new and additional chosen people, but had to replace the previous claimant(s). I make myself look bigger by making others (in this case, people I have been directly inspired by) look smaller. I can only be chosen of God if He has rejected you.

In the honor-shame, zero-sum variant of monotheism, one proves the superiority of one’s beliefs by subjecting those who do not share it to humiliations. Christianity took this attitude towards the Jewish minority in their midst (centuries before shariah law of dhimmis, Theodosius forbade Jews to build new synagogues or to have any synagogue higher than the Christian churches); and Muslims took the same honor-shame attitude towards both Christians and Jews under their power. And, not surprisingly, Christians and Muslims fought it out as only imperialist monotheists can do for well over a millennium.

As Gavin Langmuir pointed out decades ago, virulent anti-Semitism (which he distinguished from garden-variety anti-Judaism or dislike of Jews, but rather a demonization of the supernaturally evil Jews) arises when the supersessionist religion has a crisis of faith and becomes radically insecure. This can be provoked by a variety of circumstances – in the case Langmuir studied, it was a theological crises around the high medieval doctrine of transubstantiation (i.e., the wine and the wafer actually become the blood and body of Christ in the course of the mass). In any case, insecurity denied and weaponized can lead to apocalyptic paranoia and its genocidal hatreds.

In the current case of Islam, the realization that the West has far outstripped the Muslim world in technology and power, that Islam stands humiliated in the world scene, that modernity threatens to castrate Islam, and the belief that the Jews stand at the heart of modernity, has led to a virulent strain of not just anti-Zionism – itself the ultimate insult of modernity, a tiny bunch of should-be dhimmi who defeat Arab armies ten times their size – but of anti-Semitism.

Thus the Jewish slap on the faces of the Christians continues, who apparently enjoy and allow this sort of humiliation and attack, and give them their other cheek so that the Jew can continue to slap the Christians—just as we see—ruling them in Europe through the Masons who dig the grave of Western civilization through corruption and promiscuity. The Crusader West continues like a whore who is screwed sadistically, and does not derive any pleasure from the act until after she is struck and humiliated, even by her pimps—the Jews in Christian Europe. Soon they will be under the rubble as a result of the Jewish conspiracy. (Arif, Nihayat al-Yahud , 85, cited in Cook, Contemporary Muslim Apocalyptic, 220; discussed in Landes, Heaven on Earth, pp. 455-57).

European anti-Zionist may like their fantasy that their attitude is not anti-Semitic, but in the case of the Arab and Muslim world, the slide from opposing Israel to ranting about “al Yahud” everywhere is effortless.

Given the power of genocidal anti-Semitic sentiments in the Arab and Muslim world – press and TV, mosques, public officials – one might wonder why the Western silence on the subject. Indeed it is so deafening, so understudied and underreported, that a less-well informed person might think that it doesn’t exist and my complaint is really just paranoia. It’s not enough to point to the degree of intimidation that pervades journalism in the Palestinian territories (and other places where state terrorists dominate the scene), an intimidation that came through loud and clear in the aftermath of the Ramallah lynch affair. Although that explains much of the behavior of journalists on the scene, like NYT reporter Steven Erlanger who waited until he left the region before – at long last – mentioning the problem in an article.

It’s also related to a particularly dangerous form of political correctness, in which speaking badly of Muslims is the new form of Anti-Semitism. As a colleague said to me in Paris, “The experience of the Muslims in Europe today is exactly the same as the Jews a century ago.” Of course, that’s not the case at all: both in terms of the wildly different behavior of the two minorities, and in terms of how the European elites behaved and behave towards them. By that (completely erroneous historical) logic, however, any attack on Islam is immediately comparable to a 19th century attack on Jews. To claim that Muslims want to take over Europe is the same as believeing the Protocols of the Elders of Zion; to accuse them of planning terror attacks, is the same as believing in the blood libel. Little matter that Islamists themselves say they want to take over Europe, and they want to bring a holocaust on the European infidel, that they actually do carry out terror attacks. The triumph of the will over reality.

This problem is everywhere. Even Jewish organizations designed to protect Jews from anti-Semitism spend much more of their time sponsoring inter-religious dialogues, opposing Islamism, and applauding human rights initiatives, than even discussing, much less mobilizing against Muslim Anti-Semitism. In the USA, the once legendary ADL has become a 20th century relic in the 21st century, still pursuing the nice, liberal policy of protecting everyone’s rights in the (dashed) hopes that others will come to their defense when they need it. A recent study shows that only 1.3% of the ADL’s 4269 press releases (1995-present) focused on Islamic extremism and another 1.3% on Arab anti-Semitism. Of the 57 press releases devoted to Islamic extremism, only 13, about .005 were issued in the ten years since September 11, 2001, precisely when the threat to Jews from Islamic extremism dramatically increased. (That’s almost as small as the percentage of Jews in the world, or the percentage of the Arab world “occupied” by Israel – .002.)

In Germany, the Zentrum für Antisemitismusforschung in Berlin actually held a conference whose main theme was the close identity of Islamophobia and Judeophobia. Challenged, they replied indignantly that the mafioso tactics of their opponents (public criticism) were intolerable. A German colleague was surprised when I told him that Hamas is much closer to the Nazi attitude towards Jews than the neo-Nazis. These latter are closer to violent but garden variety xenophobes, and Jews barely register on their list of concerns, while Hamas shares the same fevered (apocalyptic) paranoia and genocidal loathing of Jews that the Nazis did.

Which brings us to the dilemma that faces the Western observer, especially the one who believes that moral behavior matters, and wants to support those who behave well and oppose those who behave badly. We are faced with two opposing narratives: one in which the Muslims (especially the Palestinians) are victims who might be forgiven their hatred of the imperialist Israelis, one in which the Israelis are victims, who might be forgiven their violent resistance to Palestinian and Muslim anti-Semitic assaults.

Why not toss a coin?

Because (aside from the fact that in so doing one would greatly increase support for the imperialist Zionists to 50%), there are serious consequences to misreading this situation. If I am wrong, and Palestinian hatred is merely a result of the “occupation”, then concessions from the Israelis should lead to a lessening of Palestinian hatred, and the road to peace. As Stephen Bronner, prominent scholar of Anti-Semitism noted in an article on the Protocols,

Nevertheless, it makes sense to believe that an anti-Semitism that has only grown with the success of Israeli imperialist policy will diminish with a change in that policy.

This is the prevailing paradigm that currently dominates thinking about the Arab-Israeli conflict. It projects a kind of positive-sum rationality on Arab political culture, and assumes that if something’s wrong, it is the fault of the stronger party unwilling to compromise (Israel). It’s the same mentality that gives us the universal and universally wrong excitement of the MSNM about the “Arab Spring” – get rid of a dictator… get democracy. No?No.

Of course, if the Palestinians really are rational, really want their own state (rather than to destroy Israel), then they should, in principle, be amenable to making some important moves towards reconciliation, like, say, cutting off the hate incitement on TV, and building settlements in the land they control (Area A of the West Bank and all of Gaza) to resettle their refugees. No? No.

But if I’m right, if it’s a profoundly rooted anti-Semitism among Arabs today, one that has been “cooking” for over a century, got jacked up on steroids during the Nazi period, and hit a rolling boil in 2000 with the al Durah blood libel, then it’s another story entirely. If I’m right, then “solving the refugee problem” by allowing these poor victims of war to have a real home is not on the Palestinian agenda – even if they got their state. On the contrary, these “refugees” are designated victim-weapons in a war of annihilation.

If I’m right, then every time Israel makes concessions, it encourages further aggressions. Thus, despite what the politically correct paradigm, based on projecting our own liberal mentality on others, anticipated, every time Israel engaged in anti-imperialist activities – like withdrawing from most of the West Bank (1994-2000), all of southern Lebanon (2000) and all of Gaza (including uprooting 8000 settlers) – the result was more and more vicious aggression.

Nor is this merely a problem faced by Israel. (I know there are many anti-Zionists out there who treasure the thought that if only they throw Israel into the maw of the beast, that they’ll be spared, but that too is a piece of cognitive egocentrism in which their imagined distinction between the West (us) and despised Israel (them) is shared by the Jihadis.) Israel is to Europe dealing with Jihadi Islam what the Sudetenland was to the French and English in dealing with the Nazis. The difference is that, thankfully for the West, Israel is armed and refuses to commit suicide – even though that infuriates those who would prefer they do so quietly.

For ultimately, the problem of anti-Semitism is not a Jewish but a gentile problem. Granted the Jews suffer from anti-Semitism, indeed they’re often the first to suffer. But the ultimate price is paid by those foolish enough to either get sucked into the world of hatred and paranoia that anti-Semites peddle, or ignore its presence as a sad but inevitable part of life.  As any historian of World War II can tell you, if six million Jews were murdered, more than ten (!) times as many non-Jews died in that madness.

The Arab world in the latter half of the 20th century offers a striking parallel to Spain in the 16th century. Both worlds had expelled their Jews (Spain in 1492, Arabs in 1948); both experienced a flood of wealth (Spain got New World gold and the Arabs got Petrodollars); and both were failed societies unable to parlay that wealth into a thriving culture that made life better for all its people.  As Ruth Wisse put it recently: “Arab leaders do not yet acknowledge that they sealed the doom of their societies in 1948 when they organized their politics against the Jewish state rather than toward the improvement of their countries.” And they’re doing it again, this time not from the top down, but from the bottom up.

In a recent article, Jeffrey Goldberg tried to acknowledge the problem of anti-Semitic sentiments pervading the “Arab Spring” all the while preserving the belief that “The people of the Middle East are finally awakening to the promise of liberty.” But the two are intimately related. The Judeophobia of these alleged “liberty-seekers” isn’t some deplorable but ultimately separate issue. The Judeophobia is not the problem, but the symptom. It’s the conspiracy thinking that blames every problem on the “other”: Muslims attack Copts? It’s the Jews. Police turn violently on the crowds? It’s the Jews. Arab Spring turning into Islamist Winter? It’s the Jews (or, if you’re on the BBC, “”). How can one possibly inaugurate, foster, and sustain a democratic culture of freedom, one that, the in words of Isaiah Berlin, considers it “shameful not to grant to others the freedom one wants to exercise oneself,” without an ?

Anti-Semitism is everyone’s problem, especially the Muslims. And the sooner the “progressives” who want to help them, stop feeding their anti-Semitic vulnerabilities by joining them in demonizing Israel, and help them deal with the problem of self-criticism (a virtue to which the “left” could well afford to renew its commitments), the sooner we are likely to see a real Arab Spring, one that benevolent people the world over can sincerely cheer. Of course that would mean that anti-Zionists would have to overcome their own scapegoating fantasies.

One more devastating blow against propagandists still advancing the Al-Durrah Hoax

A guest post by AKUS 

Al-Durrah Stamp in Iran

If there was one event that made the Second Intifada more deadly than it might otherwise have been, it was the apparent shooting of Mohammed Al Durrah (Al Dura/al Durah) on September 30th, 2000 that was filmed by Arab cameraman Talal abu Rahmah on behalf of France 2 TV producer Charles Enderlin. This was the few seconds of video that showed the boy cowering with his father behind a barrel at the Nitzanim junction in Gaza in a video and an image that have become infamous.

The accusation to this day surfaces constantly on the internet and doubtless in Islamic media even though it has been conclusively shown to have been impossible for Israeli soldiers to have shot the boy or his father from their position.

See, for example, James Fallow’s report in the Atlantic Monthly in 2003 Who Shot Mohammed al-Dura? .

In fact, it has never been proven that al Durrah was actually killed (there was never a body produced).

If al Durrah was shot it has been conclusively shown to have been done by Palestinians firing at the two from virtually point-blank range behind the cameraman abu Rahmah.

The two were completely shielded from Israeli bullets by the barrel behind which they were cowering and exposed to bullets from the Palestinian position. However, even the boy’s death is disputed since he is shown moving after he is supposedly killed and there is a strong suspicion that the whole thing was a Pallywood production in which the father had agreed to act due to a previous encounter with Hamas (and this is where the latest news surfaces – see below).

Abu Rahmah was brought in to do the filming, and Enderlin was only too happy to get the results and edit them for maximum effect. There is an excellent video reconstruction of the events on YouTube, if you can ignore the disgusting comments below the video by those who either will not accept the truth or want to continue to use the event to libel Israel, at Birth of an Icon.

France 2, Abu Rahma and Enderlin consistently denied faking the scene by selectively filming then editing the few seconds of the action that they showed. Their version is widely available on the Internet to this day.

As more doubts about the events that day surfaced (even the IDF accepted the initial reports), the father, Jamal al Durrah, paraded scars he claimed were the results of the Israeli bullets that hit him in an effort to persuade the public of his and the France2’s version of events. In fact, he became something of a cause célèbre, trotted out routinely at anti-Israeli events and in anti-Israeli media.

As it happened, an Israel orthopedic surgeon, Dr. David Yehuda of Tel Hashomer Hospital became aware of these claims, and the case rang a bell with him. When he checked his records, he found that he had treated Jamal Al Durrah for wounds inflicted upon him by Hamas in 1994 when they suspected him of collaborating with Israel! The scars al Durrah paraded were from the wounds inflicted by Hamas and the subsequent surgery. (There is some confusion in the press as to the doctor’s correct name as both names – “Yehuda” and “David” – could be first or last names. In Israel people are sometimes addressed by last name first, rather than the usual way. He appears in the media as both Yehuda David and David Yehuda).

In fact, the suspicion has been raised that Jamal al Durrah agreed to act in the Pallywood production to “repay his debt”, so to speak, to Hamas, for his previous actions.

Jamal al Durrah then sued Dr. Yehuda and a French magazine that published his story for libel in France in 2008. Of course, it is rather unclear how a semi-illiterate Gazan could have done this. It appears he was funded by an unknown source. Like Enderlin in the Karsenty libel case (see additional material below), on April 29th, 2011 al Durrah won his suit despite the evidence of Dr. Yehuda’s medical records! Dr. Yehuda was ordered to pay thousands of Euros in damages.

Dr. Yehuda vowed to fight back, and on Wednesday, February 15th 2012 the French Supreme Court acquitted him of slandering al Durrah. Another of the lies has been exposed, and it is now even less clear that either al-Durrah – son or father – was actually wounded or killed that day.

Another brick has been torn down from the wall of lies, falsehoods, edited film, and propaganda that has been erected around this patently falsified event in order to demonize Israel. Nevertheless, until a French court forces Enderlin to release the entire film clip, and rules on the actual complaint that the footage was doctored to create a false impression, this affair will continue to damage Israel’s image.

——-

Additional background:

Richard Landes is probably the most important voice tracking the whole affair (see this page on his blog, Al Durah Affair: The Dossier). There also is a chronology of events at Landes’ site.

Here’s an interview with Landes at The Muhammad Al-Dura Blood Libel: A Case Analysis where he recounts what made him take such an interest in the case:

“On 31 October 2003, I sat down in the France 2 studios in Jerusalem and watched the rushes with Charles Enderlin and his Israeli cameraman, who happened to have been in Ramallah with him on 30 September 2000. That was when the shingles fell from my eyes.

“Much of the footage had a familiar quality: it resembled the footage I had seen in Shahaf’s studio, either boring or staged. At one point a Palestinian adult grabbed his leg as if he’d been shot and limped badly. Here, for the ‘scene’ to work, a half-dozen others should have picked him up and run him past cameras to an ambulance. But only kids gathered around him who were too small to pick him up. The man shooed them away, looked around, realized no one’s coming, and walked away without a limp. 

“Enderlin’s Israeli cameraman laughed. When I asked why, he said, ‘It seems staged.’ I replied, ‘Everything seems staged.’ And then the other shoe dropped. ‘Oh, they do that all the time,’ Enderlin offered helpfully, ‘it’s a cultural thing; they exaggerate.’ ‘But if they do it all the time, why couldn’t they have done it with al-Dura?’ ‘Oh, they’re not good enough for that.’ 

“At that moment I realized the full-double-extent of the problem: Palestinians stage all the time, and Western journalists have no trouble with that. Any serious journalist who had a cameraman who filmed extensive staged scenes for him should either have told him that was unacceptable or fired him. Enderlin, the dean of Middle East journalism, had been working with Abu Rahma for more than a decade at this point, and he clearly had done neither. On the contrary, he told everyone that Abu Rahma was a superb journalist who met all the Western professional standards.”

Philippe Karsenty took up the issue in France and was fined 1 Euro and costs in 2006 when he was sued by France 2 for disputing their presentation and the judge awarded the libel case to France 2.

On appeal, Karsenty had the judgment reversed in 2008.

In 2002, Landes notes that:

“German filmmaker Esther Schapira releases her film, Three Bullets and a Dead Child: Who Shot Mohammed al-Dura?   in which she concludes that Israeli bullets could not have killed the boy. France 2, sister station of the German ARD which produced the film, refuses to air it.”

Not to be outdone by France 2, as Landes notes, Suzanne Goldenberg, of the Guardian (UK) and the primary source of another outrageous libel, the so-called “Jenin Massacre”, “ published a lengthy article titled ‘The Making of a Martyr,’ in which Mohammed is eulogized and Israelis demonized”.

Being a useful Jewish reporter no doubt increased the impact of both her reports. Other networks, notably CNN, did much the same. Given the Guardian’s wide circulation among the left and Islamists who wish to delegitimize Israel, Goldenberg’s article was one that had great impact among the many reports on this affair and is still frequently referenced and has never been corrected or retracted by the Guardian.

Ha’aretz no longer claims that Israeli soldiers shot Mohammed Al Durrah, (See their report from Jan. 2011: Mohammed al-Dura’s father wins slander case against Israeli in French court), while their earlier coverage implied that Israeli soldiers had indeed shot the boy.

Nidra Poller examines the al Durrah hoax here: The Muhammad al-Dura Hoax and Other Myths Revived.

One of the most powerful descriptions of the miscarriage of justice in France in the Karsenty trial and the way the French media establishment tried to protect Enderlin as one of their own even when they knew the facts  is “L’affaire Enderlin” written  by Anne-Elizabeth Moutet at The Weekly Standard:

You could see Palestinians being carried on stretchers into ambulances, then coming out again unharmed, all in a kind of carnival atmosphere, with kids throwing stones and making faces at the camera, despite what was supposed to be a tense situation. The tape showed occasional gunshots, not continuous firing. From the general horsing around captured on film by Abu Rahmeh, Mena concluded that the whole scene must have been staged.

CiF Watch has commented on the issue several times, and cross-posted a very compelling essay by David Solway about Karsenty.   

Finally, here’s a great video about L’Affair Al-Durrah by Richard Landes.

Hamas’s immutable malice towards Jews that the Guardian won’t report

Trying to convince Zionists’ critics that Israel’s conflict with her neighbors is not about land, borders, refugees or the status of Jerusalem, but, rather about the immutable malice, and annihilationist antisemitism, of Islamist terrorist groups’ which seek the Jewish state’s destruction is often a fool’s errand.

Many in the West are convinced that such a suggestion – that the malice of a group, people or nation can be endemic and not dictated by the action of the target of such enmity – denotes a form of racism on behalf of those making the accusations.

Such folks are therefore not going to be convinced by even the most irrefutable evidence that there are some in the world who don’t share their liberal assumptions and good will.

This dynamic – what Richard Landes refers to as Liberal Cognitive Egocentricsm – is certainly the most serious intellectual challenge Israel faces in seeking Western support to fight back hard against movements such as Hamas.

As such, I was wondering how Israel’s Western presumably liberal critics (yet alone their not so liberal critics) would respond to Hamas’s recent boasting about the effectiveness of their attacks against “Zionists” over the years, in the context of a celebration in Gaza marking their 24th anniversary.

From the Hamas website:

Al Qassam website- Gaza- Ezzedeen Al Qassam Brigades (E.Q.B), the armed wing of the Islamic resistance movement Hamas released on Wednesday morning a new military stats on the occasion of the 24th anniversary of Hamas founding.

The brigades (E.Q.B) said in an official stat released by its Information Office that it has mourned 1848 martyrs from its militants during the past 24 years, since Hamas foundation.

E.Q.B said in its military statement that it has targeted the Zionist occupation entity with 11093 homemade projectiles and mortars, while it has managed to kill 1365 Zionist soldiers and injuring 6411 others since the foundation of the Hamas movement.

The brigades added that total number of the Jihadist operations conducted by its militants since the establishment  of the movement reached to 1117, 87 were martyrdom operations, however, the number of the Zionist soldiers who were killed and injured by the hands of the Qassam Brigades mentioned  in the stat as (7776).

Relating the abduction operations, the brigades announced that it has implemented 24 abduction attempts against Zionist occupation soldiers since the inception of the movement in 1987.

The brigades said that it has succeeded in releasing 1050 male and female prisoners from Zionist jails in an honorable exchange deal with the Zionist occupation forces, most were from long term and life sentences . 

Here’s the graphic which accompanied their story.

 

I blog every day about the Guardian’s breathtaking moral indifference in the face of such egregious examples of modern antisemitism, such blind hatred towards “Zionists”, and I’m certainly not the most eloquent writer who ever put pen to paper.

But, just perhaps, my one asset as a pro-Israel commentator is that I’m still not morally numb to such a profound injustice, and am still outraged at such an excruciating and piercing lack of empathy towards my people and my nation.

While the Guardian often rhetorically distinguishes between Jewish victims of terrorist attacks who live outside or within pre-June 1967 borders (“Settlers vs. Israelis), our enemies, as the Hamas headline above indicates, are not burdened by such moral categories.   

We’re all just “Zionists”, and, they want us dead.

Moral abdication as principled thought: How the Guardian learned to love the bomb

The latest Guardian editorial on Iran’s efforts to develop a nuclear bomb, Iran: bolting the stable door, Nov. 9, can be summed up by these passages from their polemic:

“It really is time for Iran to drop the pretence that it is not on that path.”

“It really is time to drop the pretence that Iran can be deflected from its nuclear path.”

 “It really is time for the United States to recognise that there is no military solution.” 

“An attack on Iran would of course be madness.”

“And it really is time for both America and Israel to put aside the idea that they can stop history with high explosives, cyber-attacks, sanctions and assassinations.”

So, to sum up: Israel and the US – not to mention relatively moderate Arab Sunni allies who similarly fear Iranian hegemony in the region – should not only accept the inevitability of a nuclear Iran and completely rule out the use of force to prevent it, but even cease non-military pressure, such as economic sanctions and cyber-attacks.

Israel should just accept the inevitability that an enemy sworn to its destruction will acquire the means to carry out such designs.

We’ve often argued that one of the defining characteristics of Guardian Left thought is the condescending paternalism towards the Jewish state, as well as tendency to see Israel, the Palestinians, and the greater Arab world, not as state actors engaged in deadly serious conflict but, rather, as mere abstractions.

This paternalism is often expressed – both by the Guardian and other sage far left commentators who truly see their mission as “saving Israel from itself” – in the implicit, and often explicit, suggestion that Israel is too crippled by irrational fears to make sober political decisions.

Indeed, the most telling passage in the Guardian editorial is this:

“But both Israel and Iran have made a habit of distracting themselves from their most difficult problems by puffing up the spectre of external enemies.”

Leaving aside their signature moral equivalence, such a passage accurately conveys the Guardian’s moral indifference to the unrestrained malice of Israel’s enemies.

Evidently, the Jewish state puffs up the spectre of a Hamas regime committed to Israel’s destruction.

And, Israel evidently puffs up the spectre of Hezbollah, the heavily armed, Iranian-backed, Islamist movement – committed both to the Israel’s destruction and to the murder of Jews all over the world – which increasingly claims more of Lebanon under its yoke.

Regarding the latter, In 2002, Hezbollah’s Sheik Nasrallah was quoted by the Lebanon Daily Star as encouraging Jews to move to Israel. “If they all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide,” he said.

A previous Hezbollah statement was just as clear:

“It is an open war until the elimination of Israel and until the death of the last Jew on earth.”  

To the Guardian, the Jewish state’s fears that Hezbollah’s sponsors in Tehran repeatedly express similar genocidal aims is either an expression of the paranoia and profound pathos which informs Israeli political debate, or mere hyperbole and political theatrics.

Richard Landes characterizes “liberal cognitive egocentrism” as the projection of good faith and fair-mindedness onto others, the assumption that “others” share the same human values, that everyone prefers positive sum interactions.

“I’ll give up trying to dominate and trust you to give it up as well,” “if I’m nice to you, you will be nice in return,”

This is the fundamental moral fallacy which inspires such Guardian editorials, and, moreover, which increasingly excludes Israel from the progressive imaginative sympathy.   

Fortunately, unlike through most of history, Jews are no longer completely vulnerable to such hostility and indifference.

The moral imperative of Jewish sovereignty, and the projection of Jewish power, has never been clearer.