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Monday, August 27, 2012

IDF Abuses and the Wider Issue

I have been reading with interest the recent flurry of articles about IDF abuses – there was one article about hazing (the practice of harassing or physically abusing a new recruit or low ranking soldier) in which one soldier almost died, another mocked a units long held tradition of individuals carrying a small vessel around their necks – we won’t discuss what was allegedly stored inside each vessel. There have been other controversies but the latest article (as reported in Ynet news) concerns an initiative undertaken by an Israeli organisation called “Breaking the Silence” whose aim it is to shed light on the abuses suffered by enemy youth at the hand of Israeli soldiers.  In the organisations own words:

Deterioration of moral standards finds expression in the character of orders and the rules of engagement, and is justified in the name of Israel’s security. While this reality is known to Israeli soldiers and commanders, Israeli society continues to turn a blind eye and to deny that which is done in its name”.

The down side is that at the time of the UN Goldstone Report fiasco “Shovrim Shtika” (its Hebrew name) was wholly foreign funded and supplied Goldstone’s investigators with information later proven to be fabricated but which succeeded in damning Israel internationally. 

I read a commentary on the latest revelations in the British national newspaper “The Independent.” Next to the article was another article but about the Holocaust. (“The Holocaust: How relevant is it to today’s society?”) The juxtaposition was deliberate. If there is one reason to hate “The Independent” - it is its insensitivity and reprehensible bias.

I do not believe that submitting the report to the army before publicly releasing it would have generated a response that addresses the issues that are raised.  Any organisation faced with systemic failures will prioritise its budget to addressing what is important to its survival and not what it regards as either peripheral or inessential to its continued vitality.  But what is at issue is that unchecked power corrupts and without the application of ethical controls any organisation will lapse into morally dubious practices on an institutional level.

The more serious consequence is that it is unreasonable to assume a delineation of boundaries between work and private life.

I know that Israeli soldiers do acts of amazing kindness towards our enemy and theirs under extreme conditions of threat and violence.   But this is neither going to be reported nor if it was, would it assist in countering the propaganda value that a negative story presents.

All the excuses in the world do not negate the obvious –I do not care what the Arab world thinks about me. I do care about the ethical well being of Israeli and Western society.   Prolonged conflict desensitises everybody to the harm done to society’s values.  Remorse is of no consequence if we are unable to address the wider issue of power and its misuse.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Jewish Identity & Israeli Exceptionalism (P II)

The State of Israel provides the platform for all people to worship freely. That includes Israel’s Arab minority.  This is in opposition to the intolerance and persecution of minorities that is central to Islamic culture and an Islamic theological pillar of conditional tolerance which can be revoked at any time.  Every state (including Israel) is entitled to embrace its past, celebrate its present and anticipate a positive future.  That is how we retain our identity.

A Jewish identity does not require a law of return and it is time for it to be abolished.  A constitution that recognises the historic Jewish identity of the State does not preclude the provision of equal rights to all of its citizens irrespective of their race, creed or colour. The minority population in Israel has equal rights. It doesn’t have the right to support the enemies of the State.  This also should be spelled out. Israel has a Jewish identity and it should be enshrined in its constitution.  Any discrimination must be addressed. However, action by the Israeli-Arab leadership that undermines and challenges the Jewish nature of the State is unacceptable. The right to democratically seek superior status at the expense of the majority Jewish population is a betrayal of the State.  It is a right that no one demands of the Saudis, or any other Muslim nation. And Israel is a nation surrounded by Muslim nations that respect only that which is enunciated without ambiguity. The State of Israel should take the bold step to declare that Judaism is part of its national identity.

I hope that I do not promote hatred of Islam – promoting ones own past does not have to be at the expense of others.   However, in the West, particularly in England we are fighting a battle against the revision of Jewish history that denies Israel any past as a means of ensuring that it has no future.

History is the whole past not just the bits that the anti-Zionist, anti-Jewish bigots want to celebrate or rewrite. Separate education and separate housing must also be abolished.  While the Arab think-tanks have effectively called for the setting up of voluntary Arab Bantustans – autonomous Palestinian areas within Israel, this is a fundamental challenge to the independence of the State.  On a wider note, it is one the ultra orthodox would support because they actively desire the same separation and for similar reasons that the Arab sector desires it. And it must be opposed for the same reason.

Israel’s basis for establishment is recognised in the universally accepted right of all peoples to national self-determination and statehood. This was acknowledged by UN resolution. The state of Israel has been and continues to be the only nation-state of the Jewish people. The Islamic world has been fighting a proxy war against the existence of a Jewish State via allies that have overwhelmingly accepted the argument of a Jewish ‘oppressor’ while dismissing the obvious issue that the (Arab) ‘oppressed’ are also the oppressor. That complicates matters.

When we stop calling the State of Israel, ‘The Jewish State,’ it does not stop being a Jewish State, because intrinsically, it is understood to be so, but to describe Israel as Jewish is superfluous and antagonistic to those who are not. This identity is what Islamic religious bigots and Arab racists will passionately fight against.  To deny the Jewish centrality of the geographic area of Israel and thus its narrative importance is also fundamentally racist.  Whether one is Jewish or not, the historical reality of Jewish history both in the Holy land and in the rest of the Near East is unassailable. It is the reason the Islamic world with the active complicity of its Liberal-Left allies have tried to erase it archaeologically, deny its historic authenticity and through its international organs of religious, financial and political control to rewrite history to deny Israel a legitimate place amongst the nations. As a consistent act of denial it is the apotheosis of political and intellectual betrayal.

The impact that Israeli actions have on Jews in London is only real because we allow it to be so.  Recently the BBC and the Guardian refused to acknowledge Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel. The only group willing to fight them was “Honest Reporting” (and they are not even based in Britain). They alone issued a complaint against the Guardian while the British Jewish establishment did nothing. When the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) outrageously accepted the Guardian premise and in fact embellished its own ruling against Jerusalem being Israel’s capital, “Honest Reporting” sued the PCC.  Almost immediately the PCC withdrew their contemptible judgment. The Guardian was forced to publicly backtrack.  HR is allegedly continuing with its case through the British courts.

Making truth of the lie is the propagandist’s weapon and we in Britain seem to be unwilling to invest resources in defeating them.  It is only when we actively prevent racist British institutions from creating facts that the conditions will take form that allow us to change the narrative. Identity is how we feel as well as how we present ourselves to others. It is how we react perceptually to external conditions as well as how our institutions guide us to behave that continuously reinforces as it feeds our identity, both communally and individually.

Anti-Semitism can and often does exist and thrive in a state without Jews.  Israel is the excuse but not the reason for Muslim bigotry. However, Israel is the historic fountainhead of Jewish faith, even as it fails as the spiritual source for its continuity it remains the ethical epicentre of monotheism and the historic, undeniable emotional soul of Judeo/Christian identity. This represents yet another reason for Muslims to theologically oppose its existence.  Islam, to the Islamic faithful replaces all other faiths, it physically denies them the right to exist outside of an Islam which imposes inferiority through Dhimmitude and an identity stripped of its past.

A synthetic national identity that was unable to reconcile a jingoistic nationalism with eloquently expressed, historically anchored intolerance created the conditions under which fascism thrived and Nazism became the dominant German ideology.  Similarly, the tribal nature of Arab society continues to ensure that reconciliation with parochial Islamism is next to impossible to achieve.  The artificial creation of Islamic nation states under European imperialist endeavours, in particular in the Arab world, has created enormous instability that is wholly independent of the existence of any Jewish state in their midst.

The Congress of Vienna created the modern nation state based on centralised power and unified ethnic societies.  This is in sharp contrast to the catastrophe created by the Sykes–Picot Agreement which artificially fashioned the Islamic mess we have all inherited today in the Near East. It gave Arab overlords dominance over non-Arabs with European weapons exchanged for oil nourishing this symbiotic but poisoned relationship.  The Arab Spring, far from bringing enlightenment and freedom to persecuted minorities has filled in the barely papered over cracks within Arab ruled society with a toxic brew of fundamentalism and intolerance.  It has brought bigots to power across the Arab world. It will embolden them to celebrate their past ‘glories’ as they deny us ours.  

In terms of the universality of civilisation – there is a convergence of values where murder and theft are proscribed virtually without exception. In “A German Identity 1770-1990” Harold James described the progressive radicalisation that took place, a loss of inhibition contributed to its momentum.  This resulted in the ends justifying the means. In Nazi Germany it enabled genocide to be explained away as the fulfilment of a supreme purpose. Islam through its missionary zeal already possesses the religious framework for this purpose.

The Liberal-Left establishment controls debate in order to ensure conformity. McCarthyism has been intrinsic to a philosophy of control. How reality is presented can and does determine the direction that society takes.  The Jewish establishment is no different except that it fears being outside of the consensus. Perhaps this is understandable. Jews have always stood apart. It is both their greatest creative strength and the source of their greatest weakness.

The righteous hypocrite requires no excuse for their display of passionate anti-Semitic prejudice.  But in that case any lie will do as long as it is plausible, and after a few smears the implausible becomes reasonable.  I am not saying that we can or should avoid the issues that are debated within Israel but when we hold back from debating the issues that afflict our society, it is easy to acquiesce to the lies and the false narratives of our enemies. Then our lies forfeit any right we possess as a ‘civilised’ nation to criticise what occurs in Israel.

But even so, our identity is sullied by the constant assault on our senses of a false storyline and its relentlessly negative publicity. Only when Israel reasserts its rights to an Israeli narrative will it also be capable of fighting its enemies deceptions and begin to win the war of world opinion.   It is a fight that affects us all.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Identity and Israeli Exceptionalism

In 2011 Mick Davis, a leader of the Anglo Jewish community, created a firestorm of controversy when he urged the prime minister of Israel to “find a way to take a great advance” in the Peace Process.  His entreaties to Bibi Netanyahu would have had greater currency if he had acknowledged the issues that weigh down the Arab-Israeli conflict. This was a huge failure for him.  To understand why this relationship between Israel, Diaspora Jewish communities and the non-Jewish communities remain so sodden with complexity we need to examine it from Israel’s side.

Transparency is a difficult concept to reconcile with security in a country surrounded by enemies whose theological and philosophic constructs are racist (pan-Arab) and religiously supremacist (Islam). A nation that is reliant on secrecy and ambiguity to survive must display sophistication in its approach to both enemies and friends.  Israeli politics is unfortunately too often neither of these things. It is loud, intemperate and usually lacking in nuance.

Leadership has been undermined because Jewish values which should unite the nation have been relegated to the home where they have no chance of impacting the external environment.  Sectarian point scoring and one-upmanship has replaced ethical debate, leaving most secular people to have little faith in the religious establishment. But this also weakens identity. The clergy cannot reflect on matters of a spiritual nature while they sup at the table of government. The Rabbis of old often warned against the dangers of corruption that power wrought. The Jewish people were powerless for most of the last 2½ millennia. Today religious and secular politicians co-habit the same political space and they do so without reference to traditional Jewish values.  Ethical guidance is reserved for tribal kith and kin or is wholly absent.  Each speaks a language which is separate to and limits the possibility of communion with others outside of their community of interest.  Our politicians should lead from the front. By creating consensus they can unite not just their own ideological community but the nation too. Their failure to effectively communicate across multiple divides is an overwhelmingly political failure of vision, both personal and national.

My father said that you build your life around your family; you do not build your family around your life.  This works at every level of identity.  The politics of provincialism creates conflict and disequilibrium because there will always be winners and therefore losers in the whore-house of coalition government.  With increasing factional division there occurs an escalating probability of obstructed justice. Communities compete against each other rather than supporting each other.

The debate in the USA between isolationism and its opposite, American exceptionalism, is mirrored in Israel. The difference is that America is a willing participant in the debate. Israel is not. The idea that any country is unique (hence exceptional), that it has a mission to spread its world-view (in the case of the USA it is democracy, freedom and equality) outside its borders will only work when that nation willingly has a vision to extend past those borders.  The task of surviving in a hostile geopolitical neighbourhood does not prevent Non Government Organisation’s (NGO’s) from participating in Israel’s national debate nor does it prevent them from holding Israel to account when it violates its own laws. But one-sided criticism is not constructive; it is interference, and it inevitably achieves the opposite by highlighting the dishonesty and therefore the clear conflict of interest in the argument.  Preaching someone else’s values only works when one is consistent and not influenced by a perceptually dishonest agenda at variance with the truth, or at least, with a different version of the truth.

Israel, by virtue of its emergent identity constantly defines itself by comparing and contrasting its actions and behaviours with that of other nations. As a Jewish island buffeted by an Islamic ocean; as an ethnically kaleidoscopic state threatened by a monolithic and aggressive Arab hegemon; Israel is a society of immigrants and refugees, of Israelis whose history is denied and falsified for the convenience of others. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that most Israelis do not willingly engage in a debate about identity except at the fringes of society. And even then, it is with the intent to nullify any progress towards equality. For example, Neturei Karta (a Jewish anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox sect) regards the Jewish Nation as being obliged to live in exile until the coming of the messiah. But by their appearance at Holocaust denial conferences in Iran, in support of their passionate hatred of Israeli sovereignty, they repel most secular Israelis and keep them from the synagogue. A further example is the extreme Left which demands that Israel behave in an exemplary manner even while the pressures of external threat and nation building continues unabated.  By refusing to acknowledge any but a myopic Arab or racist Muslim narrative they lose any right to contribute to the debate.  This is the reason NGO’s object so strongly to their programs inside of Israel and the Palestinian Territories being distinctly identified with donor detail.   Israel is often forced to practise ‘havlagah’ (self-restraint) in the face of enemy action but belligerency by Israel’s ‘friends’ creates fatigue and diminishes the influence of those who demand it.

While I may be embarrassed by some of the more awkward acts carried out on behalf of the State of Israel I do not live there and my right to a visceral reaction is tempered by acknowledging the emotive and therefore personal nature of my response.

Israel is only a disaster to those people who demand Israeli Exceptionalism, knowing it can never be delivered.  Nations may hold themselves to different standards and that is their crutch which we choose to share, or not. The Nakba (the Islamic loss of territory to the infidel in Palestine in 1948) is the narrative many in the West support even as they arrogantly interpret the event as a Jewish land-grab. But the Arab defeat in 1948 can only ever be viewed in theological terms in spite of its human costs.  In human terms it was a disaster for both sides. But disasters are easy to portray in Manichaean terms because facile arguments persuade facile people and sell ideas as easily as they sell ideologies and newspapers. Reductive journalism pulls at the heartstrings without necessitating any thought. It is ‘sound bite’ journalism at its ugliest. The Nakba is only a disaster for the racists who believe that Jews never had the right to free immigration, religious freedom and freedom from fear or threat of violence; in summary to self-determination. The Nakba is an Arab disaster. The Nakba is an Islamic disaster. Neither Arab nor Muslim sees fit to acknowledge the Jewish right to independence.  On 18th August 2012 Ahmadinejad in his speech to mark al-Quds day said that "The very existence of the Zionist regime is an insult to humanity." He added “Zionist presence on even one centimeter of Palestinian land was dangerous.” And today, Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme religious leader and therefore the man controlling the strings of power in Iran blamed "many of the Islamic world’s problems” on Israel along with the usual obscene references to cancer.

Those Muslims that hang both Baha’i and homosexuals as proof of their tolerance cannot preach the superiority of their faith to anyone but themselves.   Those that commit rape against demonstrators will no doubt be honoured by the UN and courted by nations like China and Switzerland for their oil.  But if there is true evil in this world, it is they that uphold this delusional Iranian theocracy with every breath of their being. It is neither humanity nor politics that drives their zeal but religious mania, a theology that mandates captured territory as eternal Islamic patrimony (part of conquest philosophy known as Dar al-Harb). Mirroring ancient Israel’s relationship with ancient Rome, modern Jewish independence highlights deprived minority rights throughout the Islamic world.

The true narrative can either be that the Jewish ‘people’ are members of the family of nations or, of a nation, weak and isolated, confronted by a broad front of hostile Arab and Western nations, a diabolic conspiracy between Muslim states and a Western coalition of anti-Semitic and unreconstructed Liberal bigots.

Rhetoric helps to mould this view. Israeli self-defence is always communicated as revenge. Anti-Zionist propaganda is resolute in concealing any threats or prior provocations. Attempts by Israel to protect itself from its enemies are always condemned or qualified with a patronising debate about Jewish or Zionist paranoia. Israel has no right to constructively or dynamically protect its’ citizens, something that we take for granted when we permit every nation the right to security.

So we return to Identity. Israel’s detractors are more often than not preoccupied with masking their own prejudice by imposing peace-time standards on Israel while Israel is still at war or at best fighting a cold peace.  And the only way to justify their prejudice is to rewrite Jewish or Israeli (Zionist) history to fit their own bigoted narrative and agenda. (See my comments on Ilan Pappe - The Spy Chronicles. “There is no such thing as truth, only a collection of narratives”)

According to an essay by Evan R. Goldstein (“Reconciling the hyphens of identity”) “Harold Rosenberg argued that in a free society identity is more an act of will than an accident of birth and he defined it as ‘the problem of the voluntary aspect of modern identity.’ It is this very freedom that contains the seeds of so much terror, he continued. ‘People freely choose to subject themselves to totalitarian disciplines in order to be something,’ Rosenberg writes. ‘Perhaps even more, however, in order to quiet the anguish of possibility.’ It is the anguish of possibility - and the attendant feelings of isolation, homelessness, insecurity, and anxiety - that is at the heart of the crisis in Europe.  American citizenship, never a biological construct, extends a reciprocal offer to its immigrants: a national identity you can both assume and shape.”

Israel as a nation has a history in the region that is one of being a persecuted and ultimately eliminated minority as well as one of deep attachment to the land. By identifying with a history that is at least 3,000 years old and Jewish in terms of history, culture, civilisation and religion, it acts as a counterweight to an Islamic and Arab story that is one of ethnic invasion, conquest, cultural occupation, subjugation and denial.  An Arab and Islamic compulsion to rewrite history in their own image, to obliterate an unsavoury past is reason enough for Israel to continue to reassert its attachment to the land and, if anything, even more of a reason to reinforce its visual identity. Why should the State of Israel not have a Star of David on its flag?  It is the symbol of our political independence and the blue lines denote our religious identity (as in the strands of the talit). What is central to the identity of the majority of people within the State is nothing to which we need to be ashamed. Autonomy has been demanded by Muslim religious fascists in Birmingham and Leeds, both cities in Northern England with large Muslim populations.  Autonomy or institutional independence means forfeiting the right to a national vision.  Extremist elements within the Arab sector (whether of the left or the right) would soon exploit this with the active assistance of foreign agents and foreign NGO’s.  That is the nightmare scenario.  It is not multiculturalism nor is it Palestinian identification.

A national identity is dependent on having a basic vision of society while actively demonstrating tolerance for those who diverge from that vision.  There is a not too subtle difference between celebrating diversity and appeasing those whose aim it is to undermine and ultimately to destroy from within, the nation state.  That difference is the difference between mutual respect and a contemptuous minority subverting the host society in order to destroy it.

This is the first of two articles on identity and Israeli exceptionalism.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Marketing the Truth

Yossi Sarid is one of the grand old men of the Israeli Left.  On August 9th 2012 he wrote an article for the much respected and frequently maligned Haaretz Newspaper, “Marketing the Truth has never been easy for Israel’s left.” It was both condescending and misleading.

The truth, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. There are few absolutes in life and even fewer in politics (Benjamin Franklin wrote in 1789 “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes".)  For instance, the taking of a life cannot be undone and therefore it is an absolute. But blood money has frequently been used to mitigate responsibility and to create layers within law that protect special interest groups. Blood money was first documented in the Code of Hammurabi some 3,800 years ago. The principle of reciprocity was class specific.  In the Hebrew bible (Leviticus) justice is applied across all social boundaries therefore, radically, slave and nobleman were equal before the law (“You are to have one law for the alien and the citizen” Leviticus 24: 19-22).

In the Dark Ages of Europe a payment to the grief-stricken family of the victim could both ameliorate and forgive guilt.  It was abolition of this clause in Western Law that helped us crawl out of the Sewers of the Dark Ages.  It is still part of the law in some nations. Its inherent potential for institutional inequality is well documented through its embrace in Sharia Law.

Nevertheless, in the Western World today, the taking of a life can be exonerated if it is defined as self-defence while the planned and deliberate taking of a life is defined as murder but may be extenuated under certain conditions. In between these poles a drunk driver who kills is treated by society as having committed the lesser offence of manslaughter.  So the truth is often absolute and conditional at the same moment according to the interpretation placed on it by the individual and by society.

The brutal killing of Dutch film producer Theo van Gogh in 2004 by a Muslim extremist was classified by the Dutch court as murder while at least 600 million Muslims throughout the world would view this taking of a human life as warranted by the act of incitement (perceived or actual) against Islam.

In his article, Yossi Sarid continues that “The left is often perceived as being elitist and condescending, but that’s not necessarily our fault”. Excuse me Yossi but politics is about action and perception. In politics nothing can excuse a failure to engage the public. Ideals are without value if we are powerless to exercise them and unless it is part of an effective opposition the party excluded from power is taking money from the public under political pretence.  Perhaps this is the reason Mr Sarid is a writer but no longer a member of parliament.

I can only speak from personal experience.  For a brief time I worked in a factory making car batteries. I complained to the Union Representative that we, the workers, were breathing in toxic fumes and yet we had no protective masks.  I was verbally reprimanded by the union rep who explained to me that I should have been grateful for the job I had.  The second anecdotal example occurred at a ceremony where senior Labour party officials, observed with patient benevolence the idealistic next generation enthusiastically appearing before them.  With na├»ve exuberance the group explained their future plans while one of these government officials stated, with sterile indifference, that their future was already decided for them.  That is the elitist approach. When government knows best, top down decrees are imposed for the supposed 'good' of all.

During the early part of the 20th Century Left and Right was hegemonic and authoritarian.  Israeli politics developed during this period and has not moved beyond it. This is the reason that protest movements are so common and why splinter parties are a feature of the Israeli political landscape.  It is the only means by which the people may express their disapproval of the establishment.  It is also the greatest failure of Israel’s political system that people like Yossi Sarid are incapable of understanding this fundamental issue of governance.  A direct consequence of this failure is that ambiguity is institutionalised. It is the reason that Israel’s Supreme Court is so busy compared with other Western Courts. In an article in Stratfor (an Intelligence briefing service) dated 5th April 2012 it is stated that “Government bureaucracies do not deal well with ambiguity.” Unfortunately for Israel it energises interested parties to abuse the law and neglect whole groups within society. Philosophers such as Noam Chomsky say that “Resistance is feasible even for those who are not heroes by nature, for those who fear the consequences and detest the reality of the attempt to impose (American) hegemony.” We can apply this to any group that is sufficiently motivated to object strongly to any ideal or law with which they disagree. It may be the Revolutionaries justification for terror but is equally applied by special interest groups contemptuous of both law and society.

If, to quote Sarid (in the same article) “The music we produce isn’t pleasant to the terrified ear” then the failure is the failure of the likes of Sarid and Co.  The politics of betrayal is far too often fed by a lack of empathy, an intellectual inability to internalise the lessons of the past and an inability to communicate at the same level of discourse of the target audience.

Blaming it on the audience is vulgar and it is shameful.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Muslim News. Some Thoughts

Teletext, for those not living in Britain, is a news service that is wholly text based and provides short summaries of what has happened in the news on any one day.  It is run from BBC TV channels one and two.  My experience over the years has been that any negative Israel related item remains for two days at a minimum while other items of news will generally stay for no longer than one.  What is particularly dishonest about the BBC is that on the few occasions I have complained about inappropriately worded news items my complaint has been dismissed with peremptory disdain and one sentence: “The BBC is not responsible for any content reproduced by Teletext which is an independent news company”.   So the fact that Teletext could not disseminate its propaganda without the electronic presence of the BBC is apparently not considered relevant.

I bring this up because on the 6th of August 2012 a most curious thing occurred.

Teletext displayed the following stories (in order of appearance).  There were perhaps ten stories featured:
  1. Fighting intensifies in Aleppo as fears grow that the Syrian army will launch a Full-scale assault within days.
  2. Yemen suicide attacker kills 30 in an attack on a funeral service.
  3. In Pakistan several police officers have been suspended after they were accused of parading an unmarried couple, naked, in public.
  4. 48 Iranian pilgrims were kidnapped from a bus in the vicinity of a shrine near the Syrian capital Damascus. 
  5. Deadly attack off Nigeria. Gunmen stormed an oil barge killing soldiers and kidnapping foreigners.
  6. Key Afghan ministers fired after failing to prevent cross-border shelling from Pakistan and security lapses resulting in the assassinations of senior officials.
I recently read that there are some 30 conflicts in the world today, 25 of them involving Islam.  It is what Samuel Huntington (The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of the World Order) refers to as fault conflicts. These are communal conflicts which inevitably deteriorate into violent clashes, ethnic cleansing and war.

In ‘The Islamist’ Ed Husain states that the failure to conquer Europe is seen as “the unfinished business of Vienna in 1683” (where 1683 is the date that the Ottomans were turned back from conquering Europe).  By embracing Muslim refugees but refusing to define what is acceptable within our Western society we may be creating an economically stronger society but we are not creating a better future. 

When Turkey’s foreign minister publicly reminds his Austrian compatriots that they must not integrate into their host Austrian society; that their loyalty and identity remains Muslim and Turkish, it is an issue that we, the infidel fail to deal with at the cost of our identity.  Twenty million Muslims live in Europe and their population is expected to double or treble over the next few decades.  We refuse to discuss any issues that are intrinsic to the health of Western Civilisation where they conflict with the cultural values of our newest subjects. Multiculturalism is the not so new buzzword that invalidates rational debate.  We accept the totalitarianism of other nations, adhere to their fuzzy definition of terrorism and embrace their selective application of Human Rights legislation.  When human rights conflict with Sharia law we look away.

We accept their ongoing brutalisation because they are not our own but by being desensitised to their pain we vicariously brutalise our own societies. And ours is based on an assumption of progress but the relentless march towards darkness is possibly mirrored in our own Western States not because we stone our people to death or beat immodestly dressed women to a bloodied pulp but because in our confusion of identity we no longer focus on relieving the stresses within our own society.  John McCarthy is a British journalist and broadcaster. He was held in captivity by Muslim terrorists (in Lebanon) for 1,943 days.   He described this mind-set as the casual cruelty of his Hezbollah jailers. 

Slavery, execution for witchcraft, homosexuality and adultery; mutilation and murder; cruelty, violence and intimidation are a small part of the acceptable face of the Islamic world that we prefer not to judge.  Our own politically correct spokespersons warn us against the “American eye for an eye” or “the Old Testament way.” After Muammar Gaddafi’s butchered body featured on the front page of every British newspaper we became squeamish after the fact even though we (in the West) had encouraged the Libyan Civil War.  What did we expect?

And that is our problem as well as our failure. We have abandoned universalism for a carefully defined particularism.  Our interests preclude taking responsibility for the failure of others as we would expect them to behave if they were in our place.  In theological terms it is defining grace, and therefore mercy, as specific to the chosen. Secular belief in this entitlement is weirdly sacrosanct.  It enables the Left to choose its demons with enthusiastic abandon. It is the sweetest of ironies that the communications era while facilitating the prostitution of our beliefs has shown us the evidence of our complicity in the cruelty of others.

If we looked at the Teletext headlines a little closer we would notice that an alarming pattern is beginning to emerge.

When Sunni is not killing Shiite and Shiite is not killing Sunni their attention is focused on us. To quote the Koran “The war with the descendants of apes and pigs (i.e. Christians and Jews) is a war of religion and faith." Our failure to demand accountability on our terms has left the stage to the enemies of Western Civilisation.  Their fellow travellers will make any excuse to scapegoat others for their crimes.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Spy Chronicles

It has been a sad aspect of the Universalist creed displayed by Jewish Utopians that in possessing the vision, they too often do not concern themselves with its potential abuse.  Those that preach, often do so conditionally to hide their moral failure.

I believe in a Utopian vision of universal justice; freedom from poverty and disease and the absence of fear for all. I would like to see the cruelty of theocracies and dictatorships as well as the inequalities that encourage discrimination removed from our society.  I would especially like to see theocratic regimes and all despotic nations celebrate these ideals within their own societies.  But if they do not, I do not want their citizens to come to my home and preach their ‘values’ to me or to my friends or even, to my enemies in my country.

My society may indeed be tainted by crime and corruption and by injustice and poverty but we can all work together to improve the lot of our own people without having to fight against the prejudices of those who are committed to something totally at variance with our beliefs.  Those idealists who betray their own nation usually do so because they do not believe their society has merit.  I admire their courage but the act of treason is in the betrayal of the society that has nurtured and protected them.  When they betray their country they actively work to undermine it.  And that is completely different to working to change society from within.  It is working to undermine and therefore to destroy rather than to enhance the conditions under which we all live.

Which is why the cases of Mordechai Vanunu and Jonathan Pollard are so interesting.

Mordechai Vanunu is a former Israeli nuclear technician who was found guilty of treason.  He secretly photographed the Dimona nuclear reactor and then passed on information to the British Sunday Times for publication (having been promised $1m). He was jailed in 1986 and served an 18 year sentence.  His total rejection of any Jewish or Israeli national rights while he championed every other ethnic or religious groups right to self-determination and free expression make his subsequent complaints about the restrictions placed on his free association and liberty rather bizarre and Amnesty Internationals championing of his freedom similarly unconscionable.  Having steered clear of equating treason with freedom of conscience Mordechai Vanunu is the only exception to this rule in the annals of Amnesty International’s 51 year history.

Jonathan Pollard was an American Naval analyst who passed on secrets to Israel. His defence at the time of his capture was that the US had agreements (a 1983 Memorandum of Understanding between the two countries) to share vital security intelligence with Israel. By withholding information deemed to be crucial to Israel’s defence the USA was deliberately breaking that agreement with Israel.  Jonathan Pollard made a plea-bargain agreement with the Reagan administration for leniency on full disclosure of his complicity in passing over secret documents to Israel. That agreement was violated at the personal intervention of Secretary of Defence Caspar Weinberger (allegedly placed in that political post to alleviate Arab concerns of pro-Israel bias). The average sentence served for treason in the US is 4 years.  Pollard was convicted of passing classified information to an ally in 1985. After 27 years he remains incarcerated.  

There is a precedent for America withholding vital intelligence information from its ally Israel in times where Israel’s existence was threatened. During the 6-Day War America was accused of listening in on military communications deemed vital to the successful defeat of the Arab enemy and of passing on that information to that same enemy (Syria and Egypt). The reason put forward was the consensus view within the State Department that a decisive Israeli victory was not in the best interests of the USA.  The State Department was traditionally viewed as balancing the Pro-Israel perception of the Defence Department by being Pro-Muslim and anti-Semitic. It was generally accepted that a more nuanced outcome to the 6-Day War was needed. This is usually translated as meaning that Israel must not only suffer defeat in battle but also a significantly higher number of casualties.  The more deaths the better seemed to be the desirable outcome mandated by the US Department of State.  A direct outcome of this ‘policy’ was that Israel knew of a planned joint surprise attack on the 6th of October 1973.  The politicians decided that Israel’s ‘friends’ would not countenance a pre-emptive strike against Israel’s enemies as it had done on the 5th of June 1967.  This decision cost Israel well over a thousand Israeli lives including hundreds of Israeli soldiers who were allegedly executed on their capture by Egyptian and Syrian forces.

Pollards’ version of events is therefore not unreasonable and American collusion with Israel’s enemies is similarly not unheard of, but its results have been known to be catastrophic for its ally.  Much of a speculative nature has since been written about this case, some of it no doubt written with mischief in mind.   Perhaps it is best we appreciate that while Israel is a useful ally, it is not in the first tier in terms of the sharing of intelligence nor will it ever be fully trusted and while anti-Semitism will play a not insignificant part in this, the unfortunate reality is that Jewish spies that have betrayed America will not contribute to changing that behaviour.

But perhaps the nastiest aspect of this subject is the subsequent cases of spying reported both in the USA and the UK where those found guilty of treason (that is to say, of passing on information vital to the defence of the nation to our enemies) have had their cases heard, sentence passed and periods of incarceration imposed. All have served considerably less time than Pollard.  The Liberal-Left coalition has remained silent.  Moreover, in both countries they have not uttered a single word of protest at the continued imprisonment of Pollard.  But from the beginning they have protested Vanunu’s.  None of these heroes of Liberal Democratic tradition whether they are clergy, famous actors and actresses, politicians or something else have interfered in the judicial process that denies traitors their public fame. So British traitors, imprisoned in their own land have no web site devoted to their cause nor do their American counterparts. 

The only possible explanation is that there is safety in protesting for those happy to betray Israel. Cowardice appears to be part of the intellectual armour of the righteous hypocrite. When betrayal is conditionally acceptable within the Western family of nations (and Israel is one of these nations) it can only be explained by the corrupt nature of Western thinking.

As history goes, Ilan Pappe (born and raised in Israel) is an anti-Israel propagandist who best summarises as he encapsulates the ethical corruption of the Left. He is on record as stating that “we do historiography (the body of literature that deals with history) because of ideological reason, not because we are truth seekers.” As a Marxist historian he will proudly state that “there is no such thing as truth, only a collection of narratives” (which The Guardians are able to invent as they see fit).

The junior partner in any asymmetric relationship will often suffer abuse. Tolerating that abuse only encourages its continuation and in more extreme cases, its escalation to what is sadly and too often, tragic consequences for the victim. According to the British Guardian newspaper of 29th July 2012:

The National Security Agency historically has kept tabs on Israel…. the U.S. started spying on Israel even before the state was created in 1948.  Matthew Aid, author of "The Secret Sentry," about the NSA said the U.S. had a station on Cyprus dedicated to spying on Israel until 1974. Today, teams of Hebrew linguists are stationed at Fort Meade, Md., at the NSA, listening to intercepts of Israeli communications, he said.
CIA policy generally forbids its officers in Tel Aviv from recruiting Israeli government sources, officials said. To do so would require approval from senior CIA leaders, two former senior officials said. During the Bush administration, the approval had to come from the White House”.
That these guidelines are in place and publicly acknowledged, indicates that those signatures have been obtained.  That their activity does not pierce the public domain is either an indicator of successful American infiltration in Israel or the imbalance in the relationship that ensures silence, when they are caught.  That articles highlighting this dysfunctional relationship between ‘friends’ have appeared as Mitt Romney was visiting Israel should be investigated.