Blogs > HNN > WE ARE WITNESSING AN INTIFADA REDUX

Feb 9, 2006 8:24 pm


WE ARE WITNESSING AN INTIFADA REDUX



As I noted before, there are worse things than having flags burned (of course, when CNN shows the burning of a Danish flag, they show a cross burning). Lives can be lost. The Washington Post reports:

An Italian Roman Catholic priest was shot dead in his church in the Turkish Black Sea city of Trabzon on Sunday, police said.

I wish I could tell he will be the last victim but I cannot. The events of the past year follow the pattern set out in the second Palestinian Intifada. The Norwegian republication of the Danish cartoons served the same purpose Sharon's visit to the temple mount did. It provided the excuse. All the pieces have been assembled long before. The Danish Imams with their fake propaganda documents toured the mosques while the Organization for Islamic states and the Arab League have laid down the diplomatic foundation. Their demand in Europe as in Israel is a one state solution run according to Muslim creed.

First, mobs and stones. Then, weapons from torches to knives to bombs. The Islamists man the front lines. The Muslim powers feign innocence, shirk responsibility and demand that the"spontaneous outrage" of their mobs be appeased. Note the behavior of the Muslims heads of state and read the demand to say uncle bellow. The pattern is clear.

It has worked before. They believe it will work again. But won't their own people suffer the most? Yes. But they do not care. Note how little attention is paid to the ferry disaster. Apparently, the captain and the crew of the ferry are all safe and sound. They were the first to abandon ship. Life, and I am not saying it lightly, does not seem to have the same value in much of the Muslim world, as it has in the West. Indeed, love of life has been identified by Islamists as a Western weakness.

Let me give you an example. October 1, 2005, the day of the second Bali bombing, was the second day of the annual conference of the American Association of Muslims Scholars which I attended. There were no details of the bombing by the time I left the house. So, during the first conference break, I approached a young Indonesian scholar to express my empathy and to ask if he has heard any details. The young man responded that no, he has not, but that I should not worry. Indonesia has thousands of islands and Bali was just a small, insignificant one. I blinked.

I explained that I visited quite a few Indonesian islands and that I loved Bali's gentle people. He gathered himself and promised to let me know if he finds out any additional information. I asked a few other Indonesians the same question and was met with similar indifference.

Matters came to a head in the late afternoon, during a question and answer period of a panel on terrorism. One of the panelists, a psychologist who has worked for the American army, described how he was sent to Afghanistan to interview the Jihadists and to come up with a psychological profile of a terrorist. He explained that he could not fulfill his assignment because he could not come up with a definition of a terrorist (as separate from freedom fighter).

His presentation met with universal approval. Indeed, a leading Muslim scholar not only agreed with him but implied with an all knowing grin that the entire problem of terrorism was overblown by Islamophobia. Indeed, he dismissed the possibility of another bombing.

I was used to the speed with news of terrorist attacks travel in Israeli and American circles. I expected everybody to have been consumed by efforts to find out any bit of information possible. Clearly, these scholars had different priorities.

Still, I had to wipe that smirk off his face. I told him about the bombing and that as in the first Bali bombings, most of the victims were probably Muslims. He was taken aback and asked for details. I told him I did not have any and hurried to the exit. I did not attend the rest of the conference.

Clearly, living in the West, as most of these scholars have done, did not lead them to adopt its culture of life, it merely provided them with the academic tools to disable us from criticizing theirs. Their reigning hero is Edward Said, the father of Orientalism. When that"distinguished" Columbia University professor visited Lebanon after Israeli withdrew completely to UN certified international borders, he expressed his joy by throwing stones at a passing Israeli border patrol.

So do not believe the usual mantra repeated only today on CNN by the Saudi ambassador and former Saudi chief of intelligence. The smooth Prince Turki, who when confronted by Wolf Blitzer with vicious Anti-Semitic cartoons published by Saudi government controlled papers, admitted that they were offensive but argued that it was an exception related to the Palestinian issue. It is not. The Jews were merely the canaries in the mine. The Danes are now the second. I have already read comments left on my blog expressing a desire to see Europe disengage from the Middle East. Disengagement means the erection of walls. Americans are beginning to express similar sentiments. This is what GWB was referring to when he talked about isolationism in his State of the Union address. This is what Ahmadinejad and his fellow rejectionists want. This would be a new iron curtain but, just like the old one, it would not mean an end to the war.

Update: Sunni suicide bombing kills 33 Shia during Ashura celebration. - No Iranian, Syrian or Lebanese protest.




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Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. F.,

After 20 some posts here, do you really imagine that I am interested in hearing you quote AIPAC propaganda ? Even Klinghoffer can do better than that.

"97% of the West Bank". I'd be a wealthy man if I had a buck for everyt time I've heard than chant repeated mindlessly. What is this mantra supposed mean ? That all Israel's Jews will be put on box cars to Aushwitz if the remaining 3% is given up as well ?
Of course not. The 3% is an appeasement of Israel's terrorist settlers (who didn't use terrorist tactics much as long as Sharon's army was doing their dirty work for them and who, once he kicked their sorry whining behinds out of Gaza, howled like babies but were not willing to start a civil war against the rest of Israel.) The sacred 3% is the mirror image situation of the Palestinian Authority's unwillingness to truly confront the terrorists on its side.

Furthermore, there was a whole further round of negotiations in late 2000 and early 2001 after the failed 97% deal of the Summer of 2000 which Arafat certainly did not "laugh" at but did reject. But you won't read about that round from the extremist Israeli groups that have browbeaten too many American Jewish groups and who are pampered with never-ending propaganda blogs on HNN.

But, this one-sided AIPAC crapola that passes for history is not really the issue here. The main question which our thread has come to is whether America, if it did not have a bungling immature President and a Congress who licks AIPACs unsavory quarters, and cannot imagine doing anything substantial about our insane energy mess and subservient dependency on Arab oil, might bang some heads together over there and get things done.

There is no crystal ball answer to that question of course. Personally, I suspect that millions of Israelis and Palestinians have been secretly hoping for years (since the end of the USSR perhaps) that some big American president would come and kick their idiotic leaders' backsides, and are having great difficulty imagine how we could elect an inexperienced clown for president instead, but this is much harder to gauge than even the kinds of poll questions which we both agree are not very reliable. The historical track record does give some ground for optimism, however.

American has used the threat of aid cuttoffs to stop Terrorist-Israeli settlement building in the past, for example. And, after a few nitwitted Palestinians tried to demonstrate in favor of Al Qaeda shortly after 9-11 any followers were quickly enough cowed in to silence, for another example.

I don't think it would take an invasion to get a settlement. It is likely to take time, however, as with Northern Ireland, for example. And it certainly won't happen with leaders in America who are mortgaging our financial future and trashing our national security. After New Orleans it is hard for people abroad to believe that Frat Boy Bush knows how to solve tough international problems.

Hamas and Omert have a window of maybe three years during which they can either take a little time out and cool the hotheads in their midst. Or trash the chances for peace still further as Arafat and Sharon so recklessly did.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Friedman. Look above for my latest reply "No blind following". I was trying to shoot over to the left, but misfired somehow.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

You are grasping at straws, Mr. Friedman, and acting rather silly. You quite apparently have no real knowledge of why "very, very large numbers" (like what "several hundred" ?) of Israelis re-validated their citizenship passports from other countries...during the Intifadah (what years ?) More likely than your delusional theory is that they were disgusted at having a war criminal for a prime minister, but who knows ? No doubt there were many reasons. The point is despite your obvious paranoia (why, by the way, are you Israeli yourself ?), the existence of a country of 5+ million people, and an army no other country dares to think seriously about challenging, and with an open pipeline to the U.S. Treasury, was not remotely in danger of becoming non-existent in 2000-2004. 1948 and 1967 were radically different.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. F.,

Your somewhat interesting digression into a potted history of Islam and the West basically sidesteps the questions discussed here.

"if we attempt to solve problems - whatever they imagine them to be - in response to the Jihadis, then the message is sent and received that there is an advantage to Jihad and the Jihad continues and likely worsens. If we fight back, we are accused of attacking Islam and the Jihad continues"

Two points on this:

1. These are by far not the only two courses of action open to the West.

2. IF we fight back is not much of an issue. We ARE fighting to the tune of many billions of dollars and thousands of American lives. By your "logic" all of that expenditure is doomed to be a waste since it is damned if we do damned if we don't, which is psychologically in the direction of "the Jihadis are under all our beds, and all that is left to do is cower in fear of them or get revenge on them by killing them as fast as we can."

My point is a different one. Not IF we should fight but HOW. Stupidly, as in calling Bin Laden a warrior, and terrorism a war, and hypocritically going after Saddam only, and treating the Saudis with kid gloves, and then making blunder after blunder in Iraq anyway (from the non-existent WMD to the "cakewalk", to insulting potential allies, to letting the ammo dumps be looted to Chalabi to Garner to Bremer to Abu Ghraib to the funding of the insurgency from oil money, to the failed attempts at Iraqization to the massive new training ground for terrorists that we created, etc.)

or Intelligently.

It is not my role here to outline the second course in detail. But here is one example: if we would spend 1/10 what we spend on bombs to promote the education and liberation of women in Moslem countries that would do more than anything the Pentagon has done, or likely could do, to cut the number of Jihadists: by cutting the spiraling-out-of-control population explosion in most Moslem countries, You rarely hear about this disaster in the making because steps to avert it suit neither the anti-birth control prejudices of Bush and his faux Christian oil addicts, nor the kneejerk proclivities of the "No War for Oil" placard holders trying to endlessly recycle the 'Bring the Troops home from Vietnam' movement, nor your favorite bigoted fearmongering anti-Moslem authors, but is a big problem with some obvious, tangible and humane solutions.

PK Clarke


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

The question in that referenced Pew poll was yes or no to"suicide bombing in defense of Islam" not yes or no to

"the taking of innocent lives"

or to

"blowing up cafes in Tel Aviv"
"bombing the World Trade Center in New York"
or
"blowing up mosques in Iraq"

The more important issue ought to be
how these various opinions in mostly Moslem countries have changed in response to American policy over the past 3-4 years. I doubt that any honest answer would prove "favorable" to the views of those who make an "overt division of the world" into "with us" versus those "with the terrorists" and sacrifice American national security to such childish illogic for personal political gain.

I will not argue the virtues of a 1400 year old religion versus a 2000 year old religion or a 4000 year old religion. I am, however, aware of nothing in the Bible that says "blessed are the stupid."


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


1. Friedman (#78892): "In your mind, the deaths of several hundred people have not significance beyond their numbers."

I never said or remotely implied any such nonsense. This is yet another example of your frantic scrounging for something to cover your own silly mistakes.


2. Of course Israel was and still is (to a lesser extent now that Sharon has first curtailed his slaughter and second been laid low by some greater power) "at risk" of being attacked by terrorists. So is America. So are many places. The indisputable fact that SOME of those terrorists WOULD LIKE to wipe out the entire country they are attacking proves absolutely nothing about their ACTUAL capability to do so.


3. This discussion has degenerated, like several past ones, and for the same basic reason:

a) You make a preposterous claim straight out of your copycat paranoia and propaganda textbooks. In this case (#78779): “Had he [Sharon] not done what he did [in 2000-04] Israel would not be a country today.”

b) Rather than back down or in anyway admit your misstatement, you instead attempt to evade acknowledging it by frantically reaching around for any extraneous illogic you can find and hurling it into posted comments.


4. END OF CONVERSATION.





Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Re your latest, Friedman:

1. I will not hunt for them now, but I have a rather clear recollection of your labored ambivalence about the "Iraq adventure" at the time it was being launched. If you are now coming slowly around to beginning to face the reality of its disastrousness, then the next step is to realize that what America does in the Mideast makes a difference to how well Al Qaeda etc. do in pursuing their goals.

2. I did not say we should "tempt" Moslem women.

Uneducated adult women in Islamic nations may indeed not want to be "liberated" (even if they understand the possible implications pro and con thereof). Women who are educated as girls are not likely to have the same attitudes as their uneducated mothers, however. My main point though is not whether educating girls in Moslem countries would lead them to give up the veil or their tolerance for suicide bombers. It is the very high likelihood that they will have fewer babies if they are in school longer.

I did a little web research in the meantime and found a few facts that may interest you:

1) The Palestinian territories (Gaza and West Bank together) have the highest population growth rate of any country in the world. A couple of African countries are close seconds.

2) Their population density (people per land area) is second only to Bangladesh (Taiwan is about equal).

3) At current rates (and current borders) they will have have by 2100 about four times the population of Israel living on about one fourth the area.

4) Most other Moslem countries are growing more slowly and are less crowded, but are well above international averages in both measures.

5) I don't suppose I need to convince you re which major religion offers, on average, the least amount of freedom to its females.

Here are just two of many available sites pertaining to these demographic issues:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_population_density

http://encarta.msn.com/media_461545255/World_Population_Growth_Rates.html

http://www.prb.org/pdf06/60.4GlobalDemographicDivide.pdf
(see especially page 20 "Why gender matters")

3. On your last point I agree 100%:
"whatever has been done has failed to make things any better"


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

to point 2 (2) above:

"Their [WestBank+Gaza] population density (people per land area) is second only to Bangladesh (Taiwan is about equal)"

That comparison excludes countries smaller in area than the Palestinian territories (such as Monaco or Mauritius)


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Cowardice, note the spelling, can be found in Israel and America in amounts quite comparable to France, Germany and Italy, though it obviously varies across time and from person to person and issue to issue. There is less among Arabs, but when it comes to close-minded ignorance, for example, the trend reverses. I don't think however, that such international pissing contests advance our understanding of international problems, even if the measuring sticks for such contest are evenly and objectively applied.

Huntington is a good example of a talented non-historian scholar who abuses History for political purposes. He is certainly right to stress population growth as a key factor, however. Even if the data for Palestinian birth rates err on the high side, there is little question that their population is growing fast, is living in cramped conditions, and that these conditions persisting over many decades are not conducive to combating the spread of terrorist ideas. It may be that a better educated and less congested society would be no less inclined to seek redress of grievances through massacres. It is probably also the case that incentives for high rates of reproduction have other more important causes in Palestine than level of female education (those sexism and mass ignorance problems seem to be more pronounced in other Arab or Moslem-dominated countries). But not doing more about the population bomb in these regions is a big mistake. Oil reserves are going down and populations are going up and this can only make any future "clash of civilizations" worse. Things are getting not getting better as you rightly noted already, and this demographic time bomb is something we can defuse over time without having it "blowback" at us. Why not teach our National Guardsmen mercenaries going overseas Arabic instead of loading them up with a lot of often dubious high-tech gadgetry? Why not ship textbooks to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, instead of fighter planes? Why not carefully selecting some of their people to attend medical training, planned parenthood clinics in America instead wholesale roundups of people kept for years at Guantanamo and then released with no charges filed to become embittered future terrorists? What is so hard about leaving John Wayne and Sylvester Stallon to the screen and not trying to pretend that such stereotypes are a basis for a foreign policy?


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. F.,

The "best educated" and "wealthiest
of all Arabs are sometimes, and partly for such reasons, referred to as the "Jews of the Arab world". This aspect of the Mideast mess may be a contributing factor to why Palestinians and Israelis find it so hard to live together even though most on both sides realize deep down that at some level there is no other choice. But I am not a psychologist, and won't insist on the viability of such theorizing.

I really do believe though that issues such as "the policy of high birth rate being "encouraged in mosques" and by Fatah, which I cannot recall ever being addressed in the many hundreds of articles and blog post HNN has publicized on the Mideast or on Islamic fundamentalism, is one example of many, of what SHOULD be the focus of public attention. These are the sorts of issues that have tangible historical causes and tangible future solutions.

If foreign aid to Palestine can be made contingent on Hamas changing its charter, I do not see why it could not also be made conditional on policies that would for example,

"Tie all government subsidies to number of children per family in an inverse relationship"
as suggested here

http://www.acunu.org/millennium/popul.html

to rant on about what beasts Moslems are for not placing a higher value on human life, as Klinghoffer does here,
is, by contrast, an excerise in bigoted futility. It serves no purpose except to provoke shouting and name-calling, and has nothing to do with history except to exemplify how it can be raped again and again with impunity.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


A "psychological" commonality between Israelis and Palestinians being that both see themselves as victims and outcasts (as indeed both are to a considerable degree, and in multiple ways). As a result, both find it hard, for example, "to turn the other cheek", even when this is their own respective enlightened self-interests. Again, however, this is surely at most only one of several bedrock aspects underlying the emnity.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007


Mr. Friedman,

I hope the placement of this post comes out more reasonably this time.

Post the Caradon transcript if you want. It sounds interesting, although not very relevant to our discussion here.

You focus on the 3% reveals how trapped in obsolete one-sided thinking you are, however.

I am old enough to remember all the talk about "defensible borders" in the years after the 1967 war. It made sense to me then, and still makes sense to be now FOR THAT TIME.

We do not live in that time. The USSR no longer exists and is not around to back up Egypt and Jordan (against Israel) which have in the meantime both signed long-standing peace treaties that are under no realistic threat of being reversed. Furthermore Israel is militarily utterly dominant in the area like never before. A big reason why Israel has been attacked by suicide bombers in recent years is that no sane enemy of Israel would try to attack it unless that enemy were suicidal.

The 3% is not a big deal to Israel's security today.

It matters even less to the interests of the Palestinians.

It is not the deal-breaker keeping at peace settlement at bay.

You are in a completely confused state of delusion to think that I am “asking the Israelis to vacate” that 3%, or “asking them” to do anything at all, or advocating their withdrawal from that 3%, or advocating anything “cavalierly”. Go back and try to read my earlier post more properly if you are still so confused. These are real problems, and that is why it is so absurd for big boys like the U.S. government to have their policies hijacked for decades by foreign lobbyists, stooges, and representatives of terrorists, fanatics, and dictators and the 3% is an excellent example of such hijacking (not re dictators – that refers to Saudi, Pakistan, etc.- but the other two.)

A much bigger sticking point to a peace deal is Jerusalem. But Jews and Arabs are not the only ones with legitimate claims to that city, so some legitimate international pressure could probably force an eventual compromise there.

The unofficial Geneva deal of late 2003, incidentally, ironed out all these stumbling blocks, and was undoubtedly one reason why Sharon felt compelled to so suddenly change course in 2004. Again, your AIPAC sources won't talk about that radical shift, because for them the all-holy Israel is like Gibraltar, unchanging and never shifting.

Reality is different than what such propagandizing mythmakers would have you believe (present article-writer NOT excepted).

Sharon faced down the terrorists in his ranks when he needed to (on Gaza). He would not challenge them, and Olmert won't on the 3%-or whatever it is- of the West Bank because (as mentioned already) that 3% + or - is not a deal-breaker anyway. No point in giving away something that costs you little to just keep. Arafat, to his lasting disgrace, never had the vision or courage to truly confront his lunatic fringe the way Barak, and eventually Sharon did, however, at least in part.

The difficulty with Sharon's (now probably finished) tenure is that before stealing Labor's idea of unilateral withdrawal and disengagement and bolting from his own Likud in the process, he spent three years terrorizing innocent Palestinians to show what a tough guy he was. I know he did a few other less disastrous things along the way, but basically for his own political purposes (e.g. to pave the way for his later reversal) he engaged in assassination by missile, brutal oppression, and inhumane slaughter against Palestinians generally and much more against the Palestinian Authority than against Hamas. I'm not saying they didn't have it coming, but basically Arafat and Sharon together set the peace process (which was closer to success in 2000 than ever before) back many years, if not decades, and did so for the sake of their own selfish agendas, not in service of any worthy objective for their peoples. A real American leader would not have sat on his hands doing nothing at all of any consequence during this terrible period as George W. Bush did.

There is no imminent Mideast peace deal, but it is not out of the question, that with better leaders in America, and the Mideast, that there could be one before the end of the decade. Better leadership from Europe would help too. They’ve been pretty good at blundering lately too, even if they are not all in thrall to Islam as has been sometimes suggested in past discussions.





Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Thanks for the Caradon excerpt.

You are suffering delusions if you really think this: "the reason Sharon did what he did, once elected, is that a war had already started. Had he not done what he did, Israel would not be a country today" A few blown-up cafes did not and would not destroy Israel.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

If the American government (President and Congress) were to set their minds to it, there could be a settlement in relatively short order regardless of what pigheaded corrupt elites in Palestine (or warmongering fanatics in Israel) prefer. Land for peace worked with Egypt, Barak and Arafat got reasonably close to a deal in late 2000, the "Road Map" sets the basic parameters, the Geneva plan showed the kind of creative compromises need to actually implement it, and there are huge pots of money from America and the EU to pour into that demographically overburden region once it comes to its senses. What is lacking is the determination of America to tell two proud and talented, but childish peoples in the "Holy Land" that we have had enough of their tantrums, and back that determination up with real credible actions. Hamas and their fanatical counterparts on the other side would not be able to stop a carrot and stick approach of a determined North America, Europe, and Japan. And China and Russia would not undermine things.
Neither Israel nor the Palestinian group could survive against a determined coalition of the kind that liberated Kuwait. But that will not happen as long as the American Congress and administration insist on foolishly pandering to AIPAC fanatics and Saudi oligarchs who extort money and prop up the nutcase elites on both sides of the not yet finished "security barrier". And as long as our foreign policy is run by incompetents who are good for nothing except wasting money and lives.

Whatever Fatah meant, I think it is basically dead except as a source of mythmaking. Maybe it can reform itself, but that does not seem very likely.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Mr. Friedman,

Many, if not most, of the principal ringleaders of the Palestinian movement were, until they were suppressed by the Likud regimes of Israel (in order to promote Hamas), Christian. Does that make the Pope, the Archibishop of Canterbury, etc. part of a "very, very long history" of a "fight against West"? I don't think so.

The EU laying down the law to Hamas.
Scandinavian embassies being firebombed across the Mideast by Moslem crowds. Does that support Mr. Friedman's oft uttered fear that "Euarabia" hides under his bed ready to nab him if it isn't premptively fought tooth and nail first? Hardly.

Time to shed monolithic prejudices and start examining reality afresh, Mr. Friedman.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

I don't think we are in disagreement as to the unreliability of polls, especially in dictatorial and repressed societies with high rates of illiteracy.

Nor would I contest the claim that there are SOME principles and practices of Islam generally that are antithetical to human rights, democracy, and a functioning liberal civil society.

Nor is there anyone here, I think, who would dispute that Al Qaeda and its ilk are cold-blooded murderers for whom "innocent lives" is a concept without interest.

Where we part company is on the question of whether the way to fight "Jihadis" is by assuming that their values, goals, tactics, and predilections are those of most Moslems.

"Jihadis" have made it clear that one of their most important objectives is to provoke and encourage a "war of civilizations." It does not make sense (in my mind) for non-Jihadis -Moslem, Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Zoroastrian, Rastafarian, Pagan or whatever- to play into their hands.
As Sharon did before his Gaza Conversion, as Bush has done in Iraq, and as Klinghoffer would do every week on HNN pathologically, if she had a following.


Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/2007

Reality is slipping away from you again, Mr. Friedman.

1. "...we should not play into the hands of the Jihadis.Your assumption, if I understand you correctly, is that there is a fever that can be appeased by caution or retreat or something of the sort."

You do NOT "understand correctly". I spoke only about the best way to FIGHT
Al Qaeda and the terrorist fringe of the Moslem world, which you call Jihadi. I said nothing, nor do I mean to imply anything, about "appeasing" it or "retreating" from it. There is probably no way to "win" against it, once and for all. But there are smart and relatively effective and there are dumb and counterproductive ways of fighting it.


2) "I do not think that the Jihad is a reaction, as you seem to understand it, to the West."

I did not say it is a reaction. I do say that depending what "the West" does, it can either faciliate the Bin Ladens of the world or reduce their influence and ability to recruit new suicide fodder.

3) "I think that it is not at all clear what to do about the Jihad. I do not think we provoke it other than by being a region which is not Islamic."

Either you are so stuck in your phobias and prejudices that you cannot think straight or you have not listened to the radio news, turned on the TV news, or read a newspaper for the past week.

When in the past hundred years did mobs of ignorant hyped-up Moslems kill Scandinavian diplomats and burn Danish flags all around the world ? I am not justifying this idiotic violence in the slightest by making the blatantly obvious observation, which has obviously eluded your attention: that these mob attacks were provoked deliberately or otherwise by foolish self-centered Western journalists whose stupidity was then exploited by rage-mongers in the mosques.

Finally re Sharon. He pulled out of Gaza YEARS after the Labor Party advocated it. That delay in following common sense gained Israel nothing and will cost it for years to come.


Stephan Xavier Reich - 11/24/2006

Would you say that a majority of "pro-life" Christians support the murder of physicians who perform abortions? I think there's a distinction worth making here.


N. Friedman - 2/13/2006

Peter,

I guess I think you make idiotic comments frequently. In this case, you did not read very carefully.

I said that in fact the inability to prevent attacks placed the Israelis at actual risk.

In your biased, simpleminded, ahistorical manner, you merely dismiss the reality which, for the Israelis, clearly existed.


N. Friedman - 2/12/2006

Peter,

It seems to me that you have rather odd ideas of what Israelis perceived or ought to have thought.

In any event, if a country is faced with the prospect of weekly, sometimes daily, Jihadi attacks aimed, as the Jihadis stated explicitly, to destroy the country under circumstances where there does not appear to be any means to prevent such from continuing to occur, then, frankly, your country is at risk. For you not to understand that is to show an obtuseness that is hard to imagine.

Bottom line: Israel faced and faces an existential threat. They have, for now at least, found a way to prevent the attacks but if that changes, who knows the end result.

In your mind, the deaths of several hundred people have not significance beyond their numbers. To real people, the question is whether there is a way to prevent them from occuring.

And, to anyone but the obtuse, they were not occuring with reference to the captured territories but with respect to Israel proper.


N. Friedman - 2/12/2006

One other point, Peter. During the Intifadah, very, very large numbers of Israelis re-validated their citizenship passports from other countries. They did so for a reason as it was thought that the country would never find a defense to the Jihadis.


N. Friedman - 2/12/2006

Peter,

It was not a few. Several hundred people had already been killed when he took office.


N. Friedman - 2/12/2006

Peter,

A bit of Lord Caradon:

10. We went to both sides. We know and respect their intense feelings. We well realize that the future security and progress and happiness of their peoples depends on what we do here. It is entirely understandable, therefore, that to each point, indeed to each word, they should attach the utmost importance. Nevertheless, the representatives of both sides have been ready to consider with the greatest patience and care the representations which we have put to them. Perhaps we cannot hope that full agreement between both sides can be secured. It may be too early to hope for such a miracle. But there has been a readiness to go back over every word and phrase, and a readiness, too, to understand the needs and views of others.

11. In the long discussions with representatives of Arab countries, they have made it clear that they seek no more than justice. The central issue of the recovery and restoration of their territories is naturally uppermost in their minds. The issue of withdrawal to them is all-important and, of course, they seek a just settlement to end the long suffering of the refugees.

12. The Israelis, on the other hand, tell us that withdrawal must never be to insecurity and hostility. The action to be taken must be within the framework of a permanent peace and withdrawal must be to secure boundaries. There must be an end of the use aid threat and fear of violence and hostility. I have said before that these aims do not conflict; they are equal. They are both essential, There must be adequate provision in any resolution to meet them both, since to attempt to pursue one without the other would be foolish and futile.

13. So we have been guided by all the earlier work which has been done and by the eloquent statements which have been made by both sides, and we have endeavored, with the help of my brother members of the Council, to set out in a draft resolution what I believe will be recognized as a sincere and fair and honest attempt both to meet the just claims of both sides and also to discharge the high responsibility of this Council.


http://domino.un.org/unispal.nsf/0/13e49b0f4c7ae1dc0525672b0069def4?OpenDocument

If you want to search UN documents from that era (and, maybe, more generally, you do a Google site search, e.g. site:http://domino.un.org and include also the term s/pv and the terms of interest to your search.


N. Friedman - 2/11/2006

Peter,

You write: Sharon faced down the terrorists in his ranks when he needed to (on Gaza).

Who do you have in mind? Name the terrorists. I think you are seeing ghosts.

Now, the reason Sharon did what he did, once elected, is that a war had already started. Had he not done what he did, Israel would not be a country today. Moreover, rather than the brutality you accuse him of, compare what he did to what other countries, including ours, have done in response to terrorist attacks and the like. He did not destroy whole cities like we did in Fallujah, did he? In fact, his approach was rather humane, by any standards of the type of fighting involved.

And note: he did not start anything here, either. He is blamed for walking to a Jewish holy site that is also sacred to Arabs. As if that is justification for what followed from the Arab side. As if that were worth one life. And he, in fact, came into office long after Palestinians were blowing up civilians. And that is why he was elected.

Now, the Israelis have behaved rather well throughout the events. Can you say that about the Palestinian Arabs? They, after all, voted in an international terrorist group as their leadership.


N. Friedman - 2/11/2006

Peter,

CORRECTION:

The sentence that reads as follows is mistated: "Now, you think the Israelis are childish for not wanting a boundary leaving the country with a neck 9 miles wide or by insisting that UN 242 be interpretted differently than was agreed upon."

The sentence should read:

Now, you think the Israelis are childish for not wanting a boundary leaving the country with a neck 9 miles wide or by insisting that UN 242 not be interpretted differently than was agreed upon.


N. Friedman - 2/11/2006

Peter,

The Israelis did not offer 97% in the summer of 2000. Such offer was in late December of 2000. The offer was from Clinton, was accepted by the Israelis and was not accepted or rejected by the Palestinians. They basically pocketed it and then lied about the contents of the offer. Such view is that of Prince Bandar, not to mention historian Benny Morris as well as President Clinton as well as some Palestinian Arab writers.

As for the 3%... Only a person who did not notice wars from 1948 through 1973 would fail to understand the 3% and the promise made to Israel by the International community that it would not have to return the entire WB, so that the country would have a secure boundary. Such, after all, was the main content of the discussion before the UN which led to UN 242.

You will note if you examine the "legislative history" (i.e. the debate on the floor of the UN Security Council) Lord Caradon's discussion about the matter. According to him, the idea was to accomodate both Israel and the Arab's concerns. For the Israeli, the concern was that the boundaries before the war were not secure, much less recognized. For that Arabs, the concern was to get back lost territory. Caradon said that the resolution met the requirements of both sides. Which is to say, not only was the Arab side's interest met but so was Israel's noted interest, which is only conceivable if Israel retained territory so that it would have a secure boundary.

I should add, the USSR bitterly objected to the resolution because it did exactly, in its delegate's words, did not require Israel to return all the land. The Brazilian ambassador also indicated that the goal was for those involved to negotiate so as to fix boundaries. The US, for its part, said that it agreed with the words of Lord Caradon. Shall I post the debate? It is, if you are interested, available online from the UN website.

But, in any event, the issue is a practical one. Israel wants a defendable border, not a border which invites invasions. And that means that part of the WB will not be returned. Such, you will note, was not an issue to the leadership of the Palestinians. They made that rather clear during the negotiations.

Now, you think the Israelis are childish for not wanting a boundary leaving the country with a neck 9 miles wide or by insisting that UN 242 be interpretted differently than was agreed upon. I think your position is pretty outrageous and based on a failure to investigate. Maybe I am wrong but, frankly, the 3% is more important on the Israeli side than to the Palestinian side as the Palestinian side (a) never objected to the divide and (b) the Israelis are more likely to be invaded by a determined Arab force after a settlement than vice versa. What prevents an invasion, at this point, is Israel's temporary military advantage. Were it to be equalized - as it was in 1973 -, you can count on an invasion. Do you think that Jordan, Syria and Egypt will invade a Palestinian state? Do you think Israel will invade a country from which there are no terrorist attacks or support or no army preparing to invade, as in 1967?

Moreover, there is the issue of the Israelis who now live in the land which you would cavalierly ask the Israelis to vacate. Whether or not the Israelis had the right to help such people settle, it is a simple matter of common sense, not to mention International law, that those who do live there are merely civilians who have a right to settle anywhere they can find a place to settle and, like civilians throughout the world, are not appropriately asked to move for political reasons. Such, after all, is called ethnic cleansing and, as we both know, is now frowned upon.

Now, the Palestinian authority refuses to guarantee the safety of the civilians involved and demands their removal. That means that 250,000 people would have to be moved. That is not acceptable any more than asking Palstinian Israelis to leave Israel. The world does not anymore work that way and the demand is not reasonable.


N. Friedman - 2/10/2006

Peter,

Well, an invasion, if successful, might change things although it is not clear at all that it could solve a dispute that has now become - and, perhaps although I am not sure, really always was - a religious war, in which Israel is more symbolically important than central. But, frankly, even if such were a reasonable approach, there is no will I can see of for any invasions after Iraq including, most especially, an invasion of an ally which has not threatened any European country or the US.


Nor do I think that an economic embargo would do much either. First, there is no way, even if AIPAC never existed, such would occur, especially in the US. Second, the likely response to an embargo would be to raise arches. I am also quite doubtful that such a boycott would be successful - boycotts rarely are -.

And, I do not see there is much room for a concerted effort, not because of the US or Europe but because no one has any idea what to do. If Clinton is to be believed, his proposal, which addressed all of Arafat's legitimate concerns, was basically laughed at. In any event, at this point, the problem of the Jihadists makes any real settlement a non-starter, as they reject such on principle and they are now the legitimate representative of the Palestinian Arabs.

And, contrary to what you appear to suggest, resolving what amounts to a civil war is a very, very different thing than settling a dispute between nations. So, the Egyptian model tells us very little. I might add that were the Islamists to take control in Egypt - a likelihood if there were really a free election -, such would be the end of any peace.

Nor is it clear that, short of an invasion, that the US could, if it so desired, force the Israelis to commit what they might perceive to be suicidal. Were that to be attempted, you would see that they would break off relations with us and rely on their own deterrent - whatever it may actually be -. Such was a point raised by Dennis Ross some time ago. In that event, the US would lose the leverage it now has.

And the world, frankly, would not have the nerve to take so blunt an approach with Israel, in any event. That would be rather difficult to explain, in my humble opinion.


I also cannot imagine anyone with a straight face suggesting Israel give more than what President Clinton proposed in December 2000 (i.e. 97% of the WB, 100% of Gaza, a safe passageway across Israel connecting to two zones, a division of Jerusalem and 30 billion dollars to those displaced on the Palestinian side during the long conflict). Which is to say, I do nto see much basis to think an agreement can be created or, if created, that it would stick.

And, I do not see the Israelis, in view of Arafat's response to Clintons' proposal, ever agreeing to such an offer again - they appear to be committed to Sharon's third way (as originally proposed by Labor candidate Amram Mitzna) of drawing their own borders -. Or, in simple terms, the only show in town is Kadima.

Given the steps taken so far by the Israelis under, when he was conscious, Sharon, it is kind of hard to claim the Israelis are not trying very hard to resolve the dispute. Such is why the world, as of late, has mostly stopped making Israel and, before his stroke, Sharon the boogey man in the dispute. I note that such is even true in Europe.


N. Friedman - 2/10/2006

Peter,

I did not address your point about Huntington.

You write: Huntington is a good example of a talented non-historian scholar who abuses History for political purposes.

I took his book to be one about politics and political theory and not really a book at all about history. Or, in simple terms, his book is written for the political science department, not the history departement.

His topic, as I understand it, is about the shape and sources of division in today's world (or, at least the world as it was when he wrote his book). I have no idea whether his thesis is correct although there is some evidence that such is the case. The book, in any event, is an excellent source for data and advances an interesting theory.

I also note that his theory has been largely abused, probably intentionally so, by those with different political agendas. Which is to say, his opponents focus on the flashly, contentious title of his book, not its content which are not about a coming super clash.

As I understand him, his view is that civilizational issues have replaced political ideology for purposes of determining alliances and as likely sources of conflict. He was not, as I understand him, positing that the world was heading toward a large clash but only that clashes that may or may not occur were likely to occur between civilizations and to be fomented by divergent trends in such civilizations.

While I am not an historian, I do read a lot of it, as you well know. My sense is that the contemporary is not the field where historians much excell, at least to the extent it concerns the big picture. Consider, Professor Lewis, who you think highly of (as do I), strongly favored the war in Iraq, which you think is wrongheaded. He even claimed - although I bet he was being politic, not analytical - that the time is ripe for democracy among Arab Muslims although he is, for many years, known for the view that the only thing that the radical Jihadists respect is force employed brutally - likely his real reason for advocating for a war -. So, one can be a good historian and come down on any side of an issue, especially, but not only, when dealing with the contemporary.

I do not think that much history can be written about today's world as we are too early to understand what trends really dominate. Paraphrasing the historian you love to hate - Bat Ye'or -, writing about contempory historical trends is a daunting task as there are always diverging trends and rarely a straight line that might be easily discerned.

I thus do not take what goes on at this website, to the extent that it addresses the contemporary world, to be much about history and, moreover, I do not think historians make any better guesses about the present than other intelligent people - including educated non-academics -.


N. Friedman - 2/10/2006

Peter,

I did not address your point about Huntington.

You write: Huntington is a good example of a talented non-historian scholar who abuses History for political purposes.

I took his book to be one about politics and political theory and not really a book at all about history. Or, in simple terms, his book is written for the political science department, not the history departement.

His topic, as I understand it, is about the shape and sources of division in today's world (or, at least the world as it was when he wrote his book). I have no idea whether his thesis is correct although there is some evidence that such is the case. The book, in any event, is an excellent source for data and advances an interesting theory.

I also note that his theory has been largely abused, probably intentionally so, by those with different political agendas. Which is to say, his opponents focus on the flashly, contentious title of his book, not its content which are not about a coming super clash.

As I understand him, his view is that civilizational issues have replaced political ideology for purposes of determining alliances and as likely sources of conflict. He was not, as I understand him, positing that the world was heading toward a large clash but only that clashes that may or may not occur were likely to occur between civilizations and to be fomented by divergent trends in such civilizations.

While I am not an historian, I do read a lot of it, as you well know. My sense is that the contemporary is not the field where historians much excell, at least to the extent it concerns the big picture. Consider, Professor Lewis, who you think highly of (as do I), strongly favored the war in Iraq, which you think is wrongheaded. He even claimed - although I bet he was being politic, not analytical - that the time is ripe for democracy among Arab Muslims although he is, for many years, known for the view that the only thing that the radical Jihadists respect is force employed brutally - likely his real reason for advocating for a war -. So, one can be a good historian and come down on any side of an issue, especially, but not only, when dealing with the contemporary.

I do not think that much history can be written about today's world as we are too early to understand what trends really dominate. Paraphrasing the historian you love to hate - Bat Ye'or -, writing about contempory historical trends is a daunting task as there are always diverging trends and rarely a straight line that might be easily discerned.

I thus do not take what goes on at this website, to the extent that it addresses the contemporary world, to be much about history and, moreover, I do not think historians make any better guesses about the present than other intelligent people - including educated non-academics -.


N. Friedman - 2/10/2006

Peter,

I cannot speak for Ms. Klinghofer so I leave it to her to defend her approach.

Not really addressing - except, perhaps, tangentially - the problem of "two" peoples sharing a small land, I have an interesting aside. I read that Jews and Palestinians share a substantial percentage DNA to the extent of suggesting a commonality. I have no idea whether such is the case but I note that people objecting to Arthur Koestler's theory (i.e. in his interesting book, The Thirteenth Tribe) about Ashkenazi Jews being, to a large degree, the descendants of the Khazarians have cited such DNA studies. I am, in any event, skeptical because the Ottoman Empire moved populations from place to place to the extent that it is difficult to imagine what percentage of the Palestinian Arab population has roots all the way back to the creation of the Jewish Diaspora. I might add that during the 19th Century, the Empire settled large numbers of Muslims from at least the Balkans in what is now northern Israel (and also, in addition to in Israel, up and all along the Asia Minor coast).

Now addressing your point. I think that on the Palestinians Arab side there has always been and, at this point, still clearly remains - for them, not for the world and not anymore for the Israelis - the question of who and what the Palestinian Arabs are and want to be. Such issue, I think, has come to the fore - but the International community has yet to understand - with their vote for the openly transnationalist HAMAS party. As a member of a great people (who also perceive themselves as victims), the umma - rather than a victim people separate and distinct -, the incentive for Palestinian Arabs to resolve the dispute diminishes substantially, at least for now.

None of the civilizations involved - nor, for that matter, Christian civilization as it actually existed - much ever turned any cheeks. In the circumstances at hand, the territory involved is so small that there is not much room, in any event, to turn any cheeks while preserving or creating independence.

I reiterate my general view: there never was a will among the Palestinian Arab elite or, with some notable exceptions, general Arab elites to resolve the dispute. By contrast, I note, as Ephraim Karsh indicates, that polling among Palestinian Arabs in the early 1990's suggests that the general population - i.e. man on the street - wanted a settlement of some sort. The elites, however, have not taken that same view, by and large, but instead believed and, I think, largely still believe that with time Israel can and will be destroyed, just as the crusader state was destroyed, and its population driven away. My gut reaction is that they are correct.

I think, in any event, that interest in settlement by the general Palestinian Arab population faded - notwithstanding polling such as that which predicted, rather dramatically wrong, a Fatah election victory (and, in fact, wrong to the extent of suggesting that the pollsters are not sampling even close to the correct representative universe of Palestinian Arabs) - with (a) the rise of Islamism, an radical internationalist and non-compromising ideology - one that arose all over the Muslim Arab regions in essentially the same way and to much the same extent as among Palestinian Arabs -, and (b) and the fomenting of Jihad under Arafat's rule - something for which there is substantial evidence - with both the Arafat clique and by the Islamist groups deeply involved in -.

I am not saying the Israelis have been angels in any of this. Yes, moving people into land allegedly to be ceded does not suggest good will. I nonetheless think Israel's role in preventing settlement is overplayed substantially as, in fact, the complaint by Palestinian and Arab elites concerns Israel in any boundaries. [Note - I, for one, take such talk seriously, just as I take the words of Muslim lunatics such as Ahmadinejad seriously - and note that there was stoney silence so far as any objections from any Arabs or other Muslims.]

I look in vain for very many countries which, having conquered land, have volunteered to return any of it, especially to people who assert in response that the return of any land is only stage one, an interim step. [Note that China is not worried too much about returning Tibet.] And note that, in the Islamist ideology, not to mention in what Arafat said repeatedly in Arabic over the entire course of the Oslo period, the concern was Israel's existence, not its boundaries and any agreement was interim, not final or even long term.

My gut reaction is that there is no settlement any time soon. That is for a great many reasons.

I am surprised you did not inquire about the religious meaning of the word Fatah. It means, literally, opening. Fatah is, in Islamic theology, the counterpart of Jihad fi sabil Allah - which is the justification for Fatah -. Fatah refers to the conquest and settlement in conquered land as part of a Jihad.


N. Friedman - 2/10/2006

Peter,

You write: It may be that a better educated and less congested society would be no less inclined to seek redress of grievances through massacres.

The Palestinians are, by far, the best educated of all Arabs. That is something the Israelis have seen to. They were, also, before the beginning of the now just sort-of-(but not really)-ended Intifadah among the wealthiest of all Arabs.

I note that there has been much Arab literature encouraging Palestinians to have more children as a means to basically drown out the Israelis. And, the policy of high birth rate has been encouraged in mosques and even by the allegedly more secular Arafat, leader of Fatah - a religious term, by the way.


N. Friedman - 2/9/2006

Peter,

I have said repeatedly and not vaguely that I thought the Iraq war is a dumb idea.

I said a lot of other things vaguely but the above has not been one of them.

As for disasterous, I think the situation, whether we did something or did not, was and would be disasterous. The war was one choice a President could make in good faith. It is not the choice I would make as I see no possibility of success - a folly -. But, I can understand, although I would disagree vehemently with, someone taking the view that it is necessary to deal with Iraq if we are to deal with the Jihad.

Nonetheless and equally a folly, in my view, is the policy proposed by many of the enemies of the war - basically European/French/German policy -. Such has been the policy in which the Jihad blossomed to what it was on 9/11 and it is, to some extent, akin to the policy of the US before 9/11 - although we were not as vile as our European allies -.

By way of example, the German government staged, along with the PLO, a hijacking after the Munich Olympics terror attack. This fake hijacking was arranged to allow the Munich terrorists to be "freed." Basically, this staged hijacking included demands to let the terrorists go, which the German government, in order to save the lives of the passengers - who, in fact, did not exist but were, instead, government agents -, let the terrorists out of prison.

There are numerous incidents of extraordinary cowardous by the Europeans, with the above being, in my view, about as low, morally speaking, as it gets. The only other incident worth recalling of nearly equal moral vileness is the Italian government preventing the US from arresting the Jihadists who murdered Leon Klinghofer - and the terrorists could have been tried under US law for killing an American -. Italy, evidently did not want to ruffle feathers regarding its relations with the Arab oil regimes.

My point for mentioning this is that when I read or hear people, like many Democrats (who I would otherwise, by inclination, prefer to vote for), speak about the wisdom of our European allies, I cringe. They, if anything, have done even more harm than Bush, teaching, in a sense, the terrorist Jihadis that the West has no values and is weak, not to mention, morally bankrupt and unwilling to protect itself.

As for population growth among Palestinians, that may or may not be so. I have no idea. I do know that a number of Israeli demographers say that such population is analysis is deeply flawed because the data relied up is innacurate - intentionally so as such data was created for political reasons -, based on wildly innacurate reports on the numbers of births, deaths, etc., etc..

Huntington notes in his well known book, The Clash of Civilizations, that a driving force for the Jihad is dramatic population growth in the Muslim regions, generally speaking. Which is to say, there is a large generation of restless youths.

I think there is something to his analysis. However, I also think that the main issue is internal politics, as I have described, of which population growth is only one component.


N. Friedman - 2/9/2006

Peter,

I trust you know I have never favored the Iraq adventure.

As for fighting the Islamists by liberating women, that assumes that such is what Muslim women seek. I think you are profoundly mistaken.

Again, read what I said before: We are, in the mythology of the Muslim regions, the great Satan. Now, you would fight them by playing one of Satan's parts: temptor to women. Brilliant, Peter.

Here is my suggestion. the dispute with the Muslims will end when they tire of fighting or the West collapses. What we do or do not do in response, absent bombing them into submission (and that may someday occur) is unlikely discourage Jihad and, given the manipulative role of preachers, likely to encourage the Jihad.

Are there things we could do? Maybe. Maybe not. So far, however, whatever has been done has failed to make things any better.


N. Friedman - 2/9/2006

Peter,

Some information about the Islamic revival:

Martin Kramer, "Why Hamas?" at http://sandbox.blog-city.com/why_hamas.htm


Boston Globe, "A vote for Islam"
http://www.boston.com/news/globe/ideas/articles/2006/02/05/a_vote_for_islam/?page=full


N. Friedman - 2/9/2006

Peter,

You write: I do say that depending what "the West" does, it can either faciliate the Bin Ladens of the world or reduce their influence and ability to recruit new suicide fodder.

Again, the issue is how to abate the problem. I think that there are, at present, only lose lose propositions on the table. Which is to say, if we attempt to solve problems - whatever they imagine them to be - in response to the Jihadis, then the message is sent and received that there is an advantage to Jihad and the Jihad continues and likely worsens. If we fight back, we are accused of attacking Islam and the Jihad continues. So, it is not at all apparent what to do.

You write: When in the past hundred years did mobs of ignorant hyped-up Moslems kill Scandinavian diplomats and burn Danish flags all around the world ?

This depends on what you mean. If you mean that mob violence is unusual over the course of the last 100 years in the Muslim regions, you are profoundly mistaken. If you mean that the printing of something in Europe caused a mob in the Muslim regions, you are likely correct. But that is due to the changes in the world, not to changes in the attitudes of Muslims. Which is to say, there are now imams in Denmark to read the papers who can then print even more inflamatory cartoons and then return home and hype of Western evil in mosques.

Now, I note that the last 100 years are rather atypical in the history of the Muslim regions. The Muslims were basically conquered by the West. That basically came to an end and, with a change of generations, the notions of restoring the region to tradition - religious revival - came to the forefront.

And, at the same time, Muslims began migrating - a very, very large generation of kids - and were fed a diet of hate by manipulative religious preachers who dreamed of Jihad and Muslim power being restored. And, at the same time, technology permitting instant communication arose and that, along with the migration, makes a successful Jihad entirely feasible.

Also, as described in Mary Anne Weaver's book about Egyptian Islamists, she notes also the impact of the Jihad against the Soviets. Such created an Internationale of Jihadists and such has had a great influence among Muslims more generally as they successfully took on a super power.

However, I think it is simply not the case - as many assert - that we are witnessing a fringe movement. I think it is a mainstream movement among Muslim intellectuals that has deep roots in Islam. I think that the masses are, as is not unusual when religion is involved, kept ignorant so that they are mallable to the desires of the elite, well educated clerics.

The masses are fed the line that Islam, the faith, is under attack by the West. It is, however, our existence, not our policies which our in issue. You will note that Bernard Lewis makes that exact point as he references the Ayatollah's calling the US the Great Satan, which he notes is the US as great seducer. It is our culture which would, but for Jihad, overun Islam. And, moreover, it is by Jihad that Islam can be restored to its place as the world's dominant power and culture.

Now, yes, Muslims do not always conduct Jihads. It is, however, a very deep part of their history. To deny that is to deny fact. It is to be in a fantasy land. This is not to suggest the absence of precipitating events. It is, however, to point out that what is going on has little to do with US policies nor is it a reaction to US policies. It has everything to do with the desire of Muslim elites for power.


N. Friedman - 2/9/2006

Peter,

You write: Where we part company is on the question of whether the way to fight "Jihadis" is by assuming that their values, goals, tactics, and predilections are those of most Moslems.

I do not suggest that the logistics of most Muslims are specifically those of the Jihadist. However, the vast majority of believing Muslims believe in Jihad, in its traditional sense as understood by Muslims over the ages - Jihad fi sabil Allah (Jihad in the name of Allah) to spread the rule of Islam and the faith. To suggest otherwise is like denying that the vast majority of the world's Christians believe in Jesus' death and then ascension to Heaven.

That underlying theological formula is central to the belief system of Islamic society as it is central to Islam. Again, to suggest otherwise is like eliminating the ascension from Christian theology. So, if you are suggesting that, I think you are objectively wrong.

Such underlying theological formula, however, does not mean that most Muslims are violent or anything of the sort. And it does not mean - as there is no way to know - that most Muslims directly support or favor the current Jihad. By contrast, there is rather clear evidence that much of the elite, especially the religious elite, does.

The most reasonable assumption about what the average Muslim thinks is that the Jihadis come from a community environment conducive to the development, existence and growth of Jihadis - not in one area but far and wide across the Muslim regions including areas where there is no conflict with the US -. Further, most Muslims, I suspect, could not be that terribly upset about the Jihad because so few say or do much suggesting otherwise. No doubt there is some intimidation involved but there is not much evidence of strong disagreement.

I agree that we should not play into the hands of the Jihadis either. The issue, however, is what to do about that. Your assumption, if I understand you correctly, is that there is a fever that can be appeased by caution or retreat or something of the sort. My view is that that is a misunderstanding of the available evidence.

I do not think that the Jihad is a reaction, as you seem to understand it, to the West. I think the Jihad is a product of the Islamic culture and the sense by Muslim elites that now is an opportune time for a Jihad as it has a realistic probability of success.

So, I think that it is not at all clear what to do about the Jihad. I do not think we provoke it other than by being a region which is not Islamic. I think the evidence for my proposition is overwhelming.

I think the evidence that theorizes Western provocation is based on the erroneous hypothesis that everything revolves around the West (or Israel) when, in fact, not everything that occurs can be explained that way and the Jihad is too widespread to be explained that way.

I think Sharon, in pulling out of Gaza while fighting the Jihadis, had basically the correct idea, at least for his country's future. However, I suspect that pulling out of Gaza actually provokes the Jihadis by making them believe that Jihad works and should, therefor, continue. In fact, they have said exactly that. Nonetheless, for Israel's needs disengaging from the Palestinians is a geopolitical necessity.


N. Friedman - 2/8/2006

Peter,

Point well taken except (a) polling from the Muslim regions (or at least the Palestinian part of it) has shown itself to be rather useless (e.g. the wildly innacurate predictions, including even exit polling, from the Palestinian election) and (b) "in defense of Islam" would, in the politics of Jihadis, appear to include "the taking of innocent lives," - "innocent lives" is not a recognized concept in political Islam - "blowing up cafes in Tel Aviv" - no Israelis, in political Islam, are innocent [innocent kfir is an oxymoron to begin with] but, instead, have attacked Islam itself - "bombing the World Trade Center in New York" - in Islamist talk, the US attacked Islam - and "blowing up mosques in Iraq" - and, yet again, in political Islam, attacking people who hide weapons in a mosque is an attack on Islam -.

While Richard may have employed rhetorical flourish, the gist of what he argues is sound.


Richard F. Miller - 2/8/2006

Mr. Gertz: The taking of human life without sanction--murder--will always be a matter of the human heart, and hence, forever beyond substantiation regarding individuals or populations who have never committed a murder.

However, it is more than fair game to inquire about the very notion of "sanction," and in the context of this discussion ask, "Is there anything express (or strongly implied) in a given theology that permits--sanctions, if you will--the taking of otherwise innocent human life, with malice aforethought? In short, my question is not whether some individuals contravene the theological doctrine they claim to represent--some individuals and some movements always will--but rather, is human life being wrongfully taken in compliance with the doctrine?

I'm afraid that Islam, with its overt division of the world into Dar es Islam and Dar es Harb (House of War) will emerge less favorably in comparison with Christianity. Violent jihad ideology finds support in the Qu'ran as well as numerous Hadiths. Your question about Muslims supporting murder (a much different issue than committing murder) is best answered by a recent Pew poll that found significant numbers of people in a number of countries with Islamic majorities answered "yes" to the question, "Is suicide bombing justified in defense of Islam?" For example, 43% of Jordanians polled answered in the affirmative. You may judge the poll results for yourself here: http://people-press.org/reports/display.php3?ReportID=165.


Trevor Russell Getz - 2/7/2006

I think the distinction you assume is unproven. Could you provide any evidence that a 'majority' of Muslims support the murder of, well, anyone? I'd be interested to see that evidence, if it exists. I imagine it doesn't.


Trevor Russell Getz - 2/6/2006

I have, myself, been watching the 'culture of life' propounded by the US religious right, and have noticed that in some extreme cases it supports the murder of judges and doctors whom it as a movement does not like. I am struck at how similar this is to the so-called Islamic 'culture of death', which is also closely held by extremists who believe in killing those with whom they do not agree. Perhaps the two are different sides of the same coin? Yet ideologues (like Klinghoffer) paint all Muslims as if they hold extremism dear, while applying a different standard to the 'west'. Perhpas I could propose that this view is flawed?


N. Friedman - 2/6/2006

Peter,

There is a mistake in the paragraph which now reads: But the most important trend among Christians in the Palestinian areas not to mention the entire Arab and Muslim regions, is flight in the face of oppression. Is there genuine Christian opposition to Israel? No doubt there is a great deal. However, much - and perhaps most - of the opposition relates, in the end, to surviving in a Muslim environment.

The paragraph should read:

But the most important trend among Christians in the Palestinian areas not to mention the entire Arab and Muslim regions, is flight in the face of oppression due to the religious revival among Muslims. Is there genuine Christian opposition to Israel? No doubt there is a great deal. However, much - and perhaps most - of the opposition relates, in the end, to surviving in a Muslim environment.


N. Friedman - 2/6/2006

Peter,

Israel did, at one point, promote religious groups in opposition to the PLO. That is not the same as promoting the group we now know as HAMAS, the organization which employs terror and posits Israel's destruction. That view is posited by people who like to blame Israel when, in fact, the very same trends are occuring in every single Arab Muslim country.

As for killing off the Christian leadership of the PLO, you will note that Christians have been fleeing the Palestinian areas for many years. (And do your own research but if you do, you will find this to be the case.) Note the change in demographics as it is rather telling. Christians have been leaving not due to Israel but due to the religious revival among Muslims. There have been regular incidents of religiously inspired terror by Muslims against Christians in the Palstinian territory.

In any event, my comment was directed against the view that Palestinian Arabs are a non-religious people. Now you cite the fact that some Palestinian Arabs were Christians and, more particularly, that there were many Christians in the PLO. Well, that sort of makes my point for me - i.e. people identified by the religion, not by being secular -.

I note: the dominant group in the Arab regions is Muslim. They, not the Christians, set the tone. For Christians to fit in, they have to go along and get along. The alternative is confrontation. Ask the Maronites or the Copts.

Now: you will find that those Arab Christians - i.e. the leadership of the devout - who side strongly with Palestinian Arabs also happen to be leading voices in replacement theology. Replacement theology posits - and this in Christian terminology, not secular - a modern form of Marcionism as the model for Jews. Marcionism removes the Hebrew Scriptures entirely from the Christian Bible. Jews become the foresaken group in that they were in traditional Christian theology. This means - and again, this is theology, not the secular world -, that the Jewish connection, as replacement theology sees it, with the holy land is illegitimate. Instead of Jews, replacement theology posits, in many versions, a Palestinian Jesus is posited and, in pretty much all versions, the Palestinian Arabs are viewed as the chosen people, replacing Jews. [I shall not address the Antisemitic character of this but merely note the obvious.]

Now, one other part of this replacement theology is the merging - and it is rather a non-critical merging - of the Christian Jesus and Islamic Issa (i.e. Jesus). I say non-critical as the Christian and Islalmic Jesus are not really remotely the same. The point of all this - you having noted Christian opposition to Israel via the PLO - is that replacement theology serves, from the Christian side, as a point for dialogue and cooperation with Muslims. Which is to say, this is part of going along and getting along, so to speak.

But the most important trend among Christians in the Palestinian areas not to mention the entire Arab and Muslim regions, is flight in the face of oppression. Is there genuine Christian opposition to Israel? No doubt there is a great deal. However, much - and perhaps most - of the opposition relates, in the end, to surviving in a Muslim environment.

I reiterate that the Arab regions are very religious. That includes the Palestinian Arabs.


N. Friedman - 2/6/2006

Mr. Geltmaker,

You write: And it is dishonest to make a false connection between the intifada of a native, once largely secular people against Israeli state-sponsored religious occupation of historic Palestinian lands...

I wonder about the accuracy of your statement. While what you say has been said by many people, I think it is very wide of the mark.

I think Palestinian Arabs embrace the same trends as the remainder of the Arab. That trend is the re-integration of religion and politics as part of a religious revival.

The religious revival revolves, in considerable part, around issue of politics. In fact, Islamic peoples - particularly in the Arab regions - have historically tended to integrate politics and religion rather thoroughly (because Islam posits religion as a totality, with the Islamic community viewed as, to follow Patricia Crone's model, a caravan, with the community viewing the caravan leader as the leader of a religious journey - and hence, a combined political and religious person leading a people). Which is to say, it is rather difficult for non-Muslims to discern that which, to our way of thinking, is political from the religious.

In any event, you would have the Palestinian Arabs as a non-religious people. Presumably, you would point to their exposure to the Israelis as distinguishing Palesinian Arabs from their more religious brethren in, for example, Jordan - even though most Jordanians are ethnically and culturally and, until recently, politically linked to the Palestinian Arabs -.

[Note: the Iraqis were also asserted to be a secular people and, in fact, they had a comparatively secular government. Once the veil of that government was peeled away - in this case, by the US war -, the Iraqis appear to be far more religious than what Western experts realized.]

My suggestion: most people in the Arab regions are, by Western standards, rather devout - and that includes Palestinian Arabs -.

It is worth understanding the significance of Israel in the Islamic revival movement. To many Muslims, the cause of the Palestinian Arabs does not so much concern Israel as it concerns - and more centrally concerns - the fight against the West, a fight with a very, very long history. As stated by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

We need to examine the true origins of the issue of Palestine: is it a fight between a group of Muslims and non-Jews? Is it a fight between Judaism and other religions? Is it the fight of one country with another country? Is it the fight of one country with the Arab world? Is it a fight over the land of Palestine? I guess the answer to all these questions is ‘no.’

The establishment of the occupying regime of Qods [Jerusalem]was a major move by the world oppressor [ the United States] against the Islamic world. The situation has changed in this historical struggle. Sometimes the Muslims have won and moved forward and the world oppressor was forced to withdraw.

Unfortunately, the Islamic world has been withdrawing in the past 300 years. I do not want to examine the reasons for this, but only to review the history. The Islamic world lost its last defenses in the past 100 years and the world oppressor established the occupying regime. Therefore the struggle in Palestine today is the major front of the struggle of the Islamic world with the world oppressor and its fate will decide the destiny of the struggles of the past several hundred years.

The Palestinian nation represents the Islamic nation [Umma] against a system of oppression, and thank God, the Palestinian nation adopted Islamic behavior in an Islamic environment in their struggle and so we have witnessed their progress and success.


http://themiddleeastnow.com/ref/jadspeech


Now, HAMAS says pretty much the same things as Ahmadinejad. According to the HAMAS charter, they seek to conquer what is now Israel so that it will be a waqf - basically a trust for the entire Muslim people, not something which would belong to Palestinian Arabs -. And the PLO's covenant treats Palestinians as being part of the Arab nation. While the PLO was not specifically religious, the Arab nation is, it seems to me, an unity suggested by religion. Otherwise, there would be a variety of different peoples deemed Arab. [Note: some speak of the Arabs as a linguistic group. My point is that the unifying feature is largely religious.]

There may be non-religious Palestinian Arabs but they are - and likely have always been - a small elite. The vast majority - as common sense suggests - are typical of others in the Arab regions and that means quite religious.



Ty Geltmaker, Ph.D. - 2/6/2006

Ms. Klinghoffer:

It is not clear what motivations were involved in the killing of the Italian priest in Turkey. Let's not be too quick to ascribe any political connection until we know more of the specific case, which -- given the Church's recent sex-scandal history --could involve issues of no geo-political interest, even if such issues pertain.

And it is dishonest to make a false connection between the intifada of a native, once largely secular people against Israeli state-sponsored religious occupation of historic Palestinian lands and the theocratic attack of intolerant Muslims against the secular states of western Europe where such immigrants have been welcome to live but not asked to trample centuries of hard-earned principles of secular tolerance and criticism, except that in each case it is religious extremists who are doing the violence.

At this point no one doubts that the legitimate Palestinian cause of national self-determination has been infected with anti-Semitism, just as the legitimate satire of European secularism plays to rightist anti-Muslim sentiment. That does not mean that objections to Israeli policy are anti-Semitic or that calls for secular irony are anti-Muslim, any more than criticism of the Vatican amounts to anti-Catholicism.

Muslims in Europe need to understand that religion is fair game for irony and criticism; as Jews and Muslims in Israel must also accept. It is the suppression of the legitimate secular demands of the Palestinian people which has inflamed the appeal of a fundamentalist Muslim religious intifada, mirroring the awful presumption of Jews that they as individuals have a historic right to take land from neighbors who have lived in Israel/Palestine uninterruptedly for all known time.

I say, a curse on all such houses: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim alike.

Ty Geltmaker, Ph.D.
Los Angeles


pst314 - 2/5/2006

So where ARE all those peaceful Muslims? Over and over we are told that most Muslims are peaceful, honorable people. It is time for them to stand up and speak out, and to take action against the barbarians in their midst. Otherwise, why should we believe they exist as anything more than a tiny minority?