Search This Blog

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Population Transfers and Selective Political Correctness

In 1990 President Bush Senior “convinced” Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir not to retaliate against long range missiles fired from Iraq into Tel Aviv.  That powerlessness meant that Israel had crossed a line in its relationship with the world that in retrospect, it should never have crossed. The message to the Arab and greater Muslim world was that Israel could be coerced into subjugation by Western pressure. Fast forward fifteen years. Israel unilaterally left Gaza.  Palestinians were given an independent state of their own, if they could behave responsibly.  Our mistake was to assume that conflicts can always be resolved by appeasing bigotry.

I am not supposed to use the four letter “N” word. But it is time to do so. It is time we all did so.  The Hamas regime in Gaza is an Arab and Muslim Nazi regime.  Its justification is theological but in the twenty-first century it can only ever be described as following a racist and genocidal ideology.  Current calls for Palestinian self-determination do not guarantee Israeli self-determination.  Ignoring calls such as the following do nothing to engender confidence or further the peace agenda.

“I say to the Jews loud and clear: The time for your slaughter has come.  The time to fight you has come. The time to kill you has come…Please do not leave in our hearts a single grain of mercy towards you, oh Jews, because when the day of your slaughter arrives, we shall slaughter you without mercy,” Omar Abu Sara calls out from al-Aqsa mosque on 28th November 2014.

This is Israel’s problem.  Israel cannot win any current war by appealing to scales of justice.  Winning the propaganda war is all about appealing to emotions and therefore Israel must adapt or fail. Israel must begin to win over public sympathy and global support in its war with the Palestinians and their allies.  It is morally unwise to argue that Israel’s failures should be forgiven because of the iniquitous behaviour displayed by other countries, no matter how grotesque their crimes may be.   For Israel to argue that it is unfairly singled out for microscopic treatment in the international press does not make any sense when most people quite simply do not understand the conflict to be anything other than territorial.  And we are fed a daily diet of Palestinian victim-hood which makes their acts of terror no more than a sick human response, sick but understandable.   

Israel’s publicized victories are therefore paradoxically its numerous enemies greatest weapon against it.  Victory and magnanimity are the two sides of the fair play coin. The problem is that any act of grace is seen as acquiescence and it must therefore encourage more terror.

Since 911 (September 11, 2001) we in the West have gone to incredible lengths to emphasize the peaceful nature of Islam and the maverick and “wholly unislamic” nature of global Muslim crimes.  Rarely a day passes that we do not hear news of yet another Islamic atrocity, or another raid by the security services on Muslim homes (in order to thwart yet another terror attack against us). The religion of peace beheads adults and slaughters worshipers as they pray in their churches and in their synagogues, in their temples and in their mosques.  The blood flows on every continent, in so many different unconnected countries and still our leaders insist on sagely pronouncing Islam to be a religion of Peace. This Islamic exceptionalism forgives every crime against humanity committed in the name of their prophet and their god. The only thing missing is the vision of the aging hippy surrounded by a sea of bloodied corpses, proclaiming brotherly love. The message that portrays Islam as a peaceful religion seems somewhat discordant when viewed against the backdrop of massacre, crucifixion and beheading which is almost daily carried out in the name of Allah.  And rarely does the Muslim world hear words of condemnation by Muslim leaders.

Hundreds of millions of pounds is spent every year on fundamentalist Islamic education in the West.  The issue is that tolerance is not taught nor is multi-culturalism celebrated in the network of Western schools controlled from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other Muslim benefactor nations.   For the Nazi, ends always justify the means. This Nazism is expressed in Muslim bigotry and Muslim terrorism.  It is the affliction of the 21st Century.  Islamism supports slavery in all its heinous modes of expression.  Its idealization of Arabian 7th Century codes of aggression, brutality and moral bankruptcy is responsible for terrible suffering on every continent. Islam’s claim to being the universal creed for humankind is tainted by its paranoid tribal fidelity to concepts of shame and honor and these characteristics of the faith underpin its attitude to everything and everyone.  It pre-determines the perception of insult in every failure and the need to dominate every relationship for the narrow benefit of an insular Islamic network which derives no benefit from boosting individual levels of personal or family welfare.  It views humanity as pawns in a global power struggle for the afterlife, therefore, a better human existence in our lifetime is theologically incidental.

It is politically correct to accept a one sided colonial narrative of the Arab-Muslim world which is beset by American and Western imperialism (or its fallout).  That same narrative is viewed as progressive and revolutionary rather than as the fascist and reactionary movement it has always been.

Of course there is extremism in all societies. Radicalism is simply the holding of extreme views or principles – what makes it dangerous is that it is almost always extreme in its intolerance towards a target group in society.  The issue is that when we ignore it, radicalism becomes violent, when it is granted free rein its natural tendency is towards contemptuous disregard for human rights.

Our current refusal to judge extremism in all its guises and disguises is poisoning our society. 

By ignoring radicalism we encourage the fanatic to seek to express their position with ever increasing confidence and because of the publicity it provides, escalating violence.  It is only through radical reformation that positive attitudes towards terror can ever be suppressed, even temporarily.   It is a constant battle for theologians and political leaders, which makes it too easy for fundamentalists to lapse into self-justification.  Islam has not yet started down the road of acceptance of the idea of peaceful co-existence with religious competitors. Intermittently and far too frequently it descends a gory path into Jihad because violence is theologically glorified throughout the Islamic canon of religious literature.

I recently attended a “London First” conference titled “Future Sight: The Security of London.”  In the course of a ninety minute discussion no-one referred to Islamism or Islamic education and the challenges to security raised by both. I approached two of the participants after the event.  They told me that Islamism in the West could only be changed through educating successive generations of Muslims.  They were: Michael Clarke, Director General of the Royal United Services Institute (a prominent British think tank) and Keith Bristow QPM, Director General of the National Crime Agency.   When people of such high profile (as both men are) publicly express such blind faith in very long-term solutions they both of them demonstrate the problem society faces.

We do not have “generations” to re-educate terrorists, or their mass of fellow travellers. You do not reduce terror or suppress an ideology that incubates terror by selectively excusing it.  You cannot hope to eliminate it by ignoring its presence in high profile public events.

Let’s be clear. Every human being is born equal.   Disability, wealth and personal ambition should be the only circumstances that mitigate our potential to exercise full equality.  And if there was a way to alleviate those aspects of inequality, society would benefit from the endeavor.  But society must define and it does define what is acceptable and therefore, what is legal.  And we in turn, are defined by those laws.  Multi-culturalism can only ever be limited in scope because anything that conflicts with our laws in an elemental manner must be denied legal status.  For example: Slavery is legal in Islam. It is our prejudiced attitudes to the institution of slavery that outlawed slavery in our society and those anti-slavery laws are what we wish to bequeath to future generations.   So injustice is relative and set by society. To tackle one strand at a time is not less of an act of discrimination and ignoring institutional or cultural bigotry as we define it, is a crime against society.

A politically correct urgency to accept a constant stream of refugees into western society along with the demographic pressures that accompany Muslim immigration into the West can only increase the violence in our societies because at no point is there a reciprocal demand made of our latest immigrants.  There is no demand to renounce an ideology that is anti-Western, anti-Semitic and yes, anti-Christian too. 

We have today, more openly expressed hatred, intolerance and prejudice in society than at any time since the Second World War.  The veneer of tolerance and civility in society is dropping.  Ultimately, the internal contradictions between the peaceful ideals of our society and the mounting violence we are seeing expressed in both word and deed must cause a break down of civil society.

To the United Nations and European Refugee Commissioners, with tears in their eyes and six figure salaries, the consequences that we must suffer now or in the future because of their benevolence can not ever be justified by their pleas for our mercy, not when it is at our expense.  As a first step towards de-fanging the beast, it is time to end refugee resettlement and funding.  Only then will the Muslim world start to confront its own demons.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Arab Xenophobia and Global Religious Conflict

After the murder of four rabbis in a Jerusalem synagogue the news soon spread.  In Judea and Samaria and in Gaza, thousands of Arabs celebrated the bloody slaughter.  They handed out sweetmeats.    When Baruch Goldstein killed Arab worshipers, in an address to the Knesset, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin denounced Goldstein. Rabin, addressing not just Goldstein and his legacy but also other settlers he regarded as militant, declared:

    You are not part of the community of Israel... You are not part of the national democratic camp which we all belong to in this house, and many of the people despise you. You are not partners in the Zionist enterprise. You are a foreign implant. You are an errant weed. Sensible Judaism spits you out. You placed yourself outside the wall of Jewish law... We say to this horrible man and those like him: you are a shame on Zionism and an embarrassment to Judaism.

That ethical difference between the two separate nations is what drives antisemitism in the West today.

Xenophobia is defined as an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers – but I would object to the word ‘unreasonable’.  To fear that which is unfamiliar or different to one-self is understandable but not reasonable. It is something easily over-come if both sides are willing to work at it and again, if both sides have the desire to accept the other.  It is the latter part of this particular social paradigm that is most acutely felt to be missing from the immigrant experience in the contemporary western world.

Many Muslims do not want to integrate into Western Society and they take this ambivalent immigration experience in a wholly surprising direction when they turn that expectation on its head and demand we integrate their cultural values into our homes, our workplaces and our public places.  Before I am attacked for being selectively biased, there are ultra-orthodox Jews who are the same but they are overwhelmingly, a minority, even amongst Jews.  And there is, even then, usually one difference. Judaism created a template for people to live together, without fear of one another.  As a behavioral principle, ‘derekh eretz’ stands out in rabbinic literature as a guide for human relations.   It is typically defined as doing what is right but the important condition here is that each society has its own definition of decency; it is incumbent upon the Jewish community to reconcile its ethics to those of the dominant cultural community.  Not then the same concept as practiced by our Muslim friends.

We seem to have forgotten that society is evolutionary and that justice, for nearly all of human history, has taken second place to the whims of those who wielded power. A surprising failure of modern scholarship is the inability of thinkers to even attempt to understand the circumstances of peoples’ lives in other times in comparison with how we all live today.  One of the working principles of archaeology is to try to understand the past by reference to what we know in the present.  We seem to have missed the point that the present is similarly informed by the past.

These meandering thoughts came to mind as I read the Israeli and foreign press during the past couple of weeks. Terrible things had been happening. The bloody slaughter of four rabbis as they prayed in a Jerusalem synagogue (and the Druze policeman who came to their aid); a three month old baby murdered by a pious Palestinian, there were two things that all acts of terror and not just these two examples shared.  The first was the hedging of condemnation by the worlds’ journalists and politicians.  The second was the reflexive apologia for Islam that absolved its adherents of any individual guilt.  This collectively racist approach is damaging our society as it excuses theirs for the evil that they now commit at every possible opportunity.

We are living through a period of contradictions and uncertainty. Prosperity has made us less dependent on faith for our emotional well-being.  Our physical insecurity may be minor but we are constantly exposed to news about terrifying plagues, gratuitous acts of violence and wars, brought into our living rooms and interpreted for our entertainment, by the global media.  It is unsettling so we retreat behind simple explanations and a consumer lifestyle that pushes all that bad news away.

The West has lost its purpose. Its obsessive focus on the State of Israel is partly demographic (Muslim immigration), but in part it is an indictment of the complexity with which we are unable to cope.  How else to explain the racism that forgives every atrocity carried out in the name of Allah, the passionate debate on the Left that pardons every hate crime as a product of Zionism?

The Left and its Muslim allies have discarded truth as an inconvenience that prevents them from living a life that to any normal person living in a normal environment is wholly illegitimate for its love of violence and worship of hate. We forgive our academics and their students, the street activists and their Muslim allies for the lies that they use to validate their behavior.  They have redefined normative behavior as deception and dishonor.  In our society today dishonesty is no longer viewed as a sin. The truth becomes a lie and the lie an unalterable truth.  “Hitler called his propaganda theory ‘The Big Lie’. It was easy enough, he explained, just make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually the world will believe it.” (Mark Langfan)

An example follows:  For most pro-Palestinian activists Jerusalem was always Muslim, Islam came before Judaism (we were always usurpers), and Islam has always treated us well, it has never deprived us of our religious rights to pray at our holy sites and by the way, the Temple Mount was never a Jewish site of prayer or holiness. Similarly, Jews may or may not have lived in Israel; their historical narrative may have been located elsewhere but in any case the Holy Land is an Islamic endowment just as Spain is.  Jews have left the stage of history and have no right to return to it. 

So here is one problem.  We are again being fed propaganda that we appear to be unable to combat.  If we leave the information war to our enemies it is interpreted as validating their narrative.  We arrived here because our secular societies dismissed with arrogant delusion the multiple threats that abandoning philosophy to the extremists posed to our way of life. Much of what afflicts our society today results from the triumph of science over faith.  I will explain:

The degree to which humanity is capable of exercising free will has been a matter of speculation by philosophers as well as scientists. If we are all the product of divine providence then we have no free will; if all that matters is the physical world then free will does not exist and we are all of us subject to the whims of scientific forces that can be explained diagrammatically.  If science can determine that the physical universe is governed by mechanistic causation then our own actions become deterministic.  This theory absolves us of personal responsibility for the choices we make.

Human beings have created an ethical framework for living that regulates our universe to the degree that we can control our spiritual environment even if we are unable to control our physical environment.  We do not entirely have free will if our minds are hard wired to fire and occasionally misfire.  The brain is not a perfect organ. No matter where we are born we all conquer complex concepts of language and we all reach certain milestones in our intellectual development at similar stages of our early life.

So we do not have free will to the extent that we are all products of our physical, biological limitations but we do have choice.  Even those choices are not limitless.  Our bodies limit us, our Laws constrain us.  Our ethical system reminds us that though we are able to lead a materialistic life of drunken debauchery and endless narcissism there are alternative choices to be considered. A religious life is not for everyone. A secular humanist can equally lead a moral life if the parameters are set and the questions are asked.

The importance of choice is paramount to our survival.  If all we live for is what we can easily attain then our purpose is shallow and with little difficulty, we are led. That is not freedom but voluntary submission. Perhaps that is why Islam (which means submission) is so attractive to so many people. It is a form of slavery that encourages its adherents to enslave others, for their sake.   Freedom then, is an act of will, a constant companion to the right to choose.  The problem is that we are constantly fighting against people and forces that do not believe that we have choices.  This excuses their benighted ethics because it is something that is outside of their control.

The religious psychopath who cuts off heads or tortures his victims till they beg for death, the axe murderer and the baby killer are all forgiven because they have no choice.  But there are always choices and it is how we choose to fight for our rights or wrongs that determine our outlook towards others, towards society and towards the human project.

I chose the title “Arab Xenophobia” because, to return to the fourth paragraph, it is a choice that has defined and continues to define the Arab Nation.  A few statements from our enemies will illustrate the point.

“We must massacre the Jews in order to break them.” Yunis al- Astal (member of PLC) March 6, 2014

“Anyone who has a knife, a weapon or a car, and is not attacking a settler or a Jew, and is not killing tens of Zionists, does not belong to Palestine.” Fawzi Barhoum (Hamas Spokesperson) July 30, 2014

“Blessed be your quality weapons, the wheels of your cars, your axes and kitchen knives because [they are being used] according to Allah’s will. We are the soldiers of Allah.” Sultan Abu Al-Einein (senior adviser to Mahmoud Abbas and member of the Fatah Central Committee) Tuesday 18th November 2014 in praise of the two murderers who carried out the synagogue massacre

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Violence and Redemption in the Holy Land

We are hearing much about the third intifada as lone Arabs attack Jews with knives and axes, and try to kill lots of people with their cars. One Arab, frustrated by his inability to successfully play human skittles leapt from his vehicle and proceeded to attempt to beat his chosen victim with an iron bar before being subdued. Acts of violence and terror are now a weekly occurrence and would be a daily occurrence if not for the vigilance of the security services.

The debate on how to prevent violence (and ultimately how to stop it completely) is heavily influenced by the extremists so unless we have loud, clear and unequivocal guidance from our political, religious and moral leaders the street will continue to rule; passions rather than respect will govern our actions and the violence will escalate because no-one is seen to effectively and consistently provide justice.

“If we really want to take an effective stand against extremism, we should not obsess over the extremists; rather, we should tackle those who facilitate, empower and legitimize extremism.” Providing a Platform for Terror, Nov 29, 2012 by Sam Westrop

An example: The debate on “ownership” of the city of Jerusalem has been magnified by the Palestinian leadership, so that now, all residents of Jerusalem have been deemed settlers and occupiers, and therefore, are justified as fair game… just like any modern orthodox Jew (those wearing knitted kippot and tsitsiot over their jeans). But Jerusalem is the main battleground, lose that one and Haifa and Tel Aviv will follow.

Who are the people facilitating, empowering and legitimizing extremism?
After the murder of the three Jewish seminarians in Judea and Samaria, Fatah (of which President for Life Mahmoud Abbas is its leader) posted the following threat (with thanks to Isi Leibler):

“Sons of Zion, this is an oath to the Lord of the Heavens: Prepare all the bags you can for your body parts. … We wish for the blood to become rivers.”

That’s inciting the populace to violence. The savage imagery portrayed cannot hint at even a glimmer of hope for a peaceful future between neighbors.  And yet this is a man in control of an entity that desires national freedom, someone we have often been told is a ‘genuine’ partner for peace.

Intolerance does not need a reason, it simply requires a target. The entire history of Palestinian nationalism is predicated on the denial of legitimate Jewish history, the renunciation of Jewish rights and the delegitimization of Jewish sovereignty.   Not drawing attention to this nationally mandated bigotry legitimises it, on a global scale.

In 1955 Israel blithely dismissed the UN with the words, famously uttered by Ben-Gurion “oom shmoom” (the UN, so what?) That pithy phrase soon entered the Israeli political lexicon. The contempt it expressed was deserved, nevertheless it was a mistake to ignore the damage to Israel that propaganda could cause, spread globally through the UN.  Allowing others to write and re-write the history books has done Israel incalculable damage by helping Israel’s enemies to spread their narrative into the global mainstream.

One example from the many corrupt UN agencies will suffuse as the exemplar for United Nations duplicity.   The creation of UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency) was an act of conspiracy whose intent was to guarantee a continuous war would be waged against Jewish existence in Israel.  The United Nations fashioned an organization that was answerable only to itself, was self-perpetuating and whose foundation document, applied to any nation other than Israel would have been deemed to be blatantly illegal. UNRWAs raison d’ĂȘtre can only be interpreted as easing into position the replacement of one population with another. Thus UNRWA legitimized Arab colonialism and is, for as long as it remains in existence, an act of United Nations sanctioned ethnic cleansing.

The struggle against the UN may be arduous as well as costly to Israel but it is a necessity for its survival and yet Israel has largely suffered in silence rather than fighting it.

Israel’s founding political leaders were left-wing and militantly secular, at least until the ascent of the right wing Likud party to national leadership in 1977.  Yet the same political attitude has continued to govern Israel’s elites since 1977 – it has meant that neither Left nor Right has addressed the religious dimensions of the war between Israel and its enemies, either internationally or internally within Israel.

Writing in Yedioth Aharonoth (an Israeli newspaper) on 9th November 2014 Yoaz Hendel described the killing of an Arab wielding a knife at police as resulting “from the national-religious conflict being waged.”

In any society in which a vacuum forms, people with definite ideas will fill the emptiness that has been created. That vacuum is an opportunity for views of what is right and what is wrong and of personal continuity expressed through time and space. Our identity is layered. Europe is allegedly a post-nationalism entity and this is where many of its problems lie.  People who feel that something is missing from their lives are susceptible to a crippled interpretation of any process that can be explained to them with simplicity.

While issues of identity are never simple - if a person is born in a country they take on the identity of the country in which they live, or they should. It is part of the basis for the social contract that defines and enriches everyone living in a democracy. An Israeli may be a Christian, Druze, Jew or Muslim. Their primary identity may be national (based on their place of birth or election) or religious but Israel has refused to engage in this debate. This has created a vacuum which allows the extremists to dominate the ongoing debate amongst all Israelis.

A “big” problem in Israel is that the national anthem clearly states Nefesh Yehudi (Jewish soul).   This makes the Arabs feel like “outsiders” which they don’t like! I suspect that a Nefesh Yisraeli (soul of Israel) would be equally unacceptable however it may be the only answer that has broad national backing, except to those who do not want a state called Israel.  And those people who don’t want to live under a Star of David (for a national flag)? There are 29 Christian nations that include crosses in their national flag (including Britain and Sweden).  There are 17 Muslim nations with Islamic symbols.  The Palestinian Authority flag is green, white, red and black. These are the classic colors of Islam, pan-Arab imperialism and Ba’athist genocide.  The flag of Hamas is theocratic.

Arab identity is not based solely on ethnicity.  It is religiously colonialist and brutally intolerant of any minorities unfortunate enough to endure living beneath its exercise of power.  Palestinian nationalism is inconsistent with Jewish self-determination. A person of Jewish faith cannot be a Palestinian unless they are hostile to Zionism (which is arguably the main aspect of Israeli identity).  Palestinian nationalism has usually been antisemitic and it denies Jewish Near-Eastern history while interpreting European Jewish history unfavorably.  This is nothing less than a war to deny Jewish civilization.

And yet, over three generations Israel has failed to attack this apartheid view of Arab-Palestinian exceptionalism which refutes Muslim or Christian Israeli identity as bogus and worse, a betrayal of the “Arab nation.” The nephew of an Arab member of parliament called himself an Israeli Muslim in an internet video and as a consequence he was forced to flee for his life - overseas. His aunt, the Member of Knesset Hanin Zoabi, publicly attacked him.  This is also a marker for the extremists.  It tells them that violence against the individual is permissible.  Most of the Arab leadership and its captive intelligentsia terrorizes the populace into conforming to an anti-Zionist / antisemitic narrative that denies them full integration into Israeli society.

Benjamin Netanyahu has refined the art of doing nothing during three terms as Prime Minister.  When he is forced to confront anything he is a populist leader so his do-nothing approach encourages chaos. It is only at the breaking point that he will choose the easiest route to placating the situation.  This is his failure.  It is his weakness as a leader.

It will damn him in any future written history about Israel because the issue of identity is even more important than whether or not the current leader of the Palestinians is inclined towards making peace with Israel.  Peace will not be achieved while a large fifth column lives in Israel, one that refuses to acknowledge the equal rights of the Jewish majority. Paradoxically, the equal rights of the Arab minority are undermined by the fear of that fifth column.

In the 1960’s and 1970’s British television tackled the issue of discrimination and prejudice with the sitcom “Till Death us do Part.”  Its American equivalent “All in the Family” ran for most of the 1970’s.  Israel desperately needs something similar to re-educate its people.

Kurt Tucholsky (a journalist and social commentator) labelled World War I a “worldwide latrine filled with blood, barbed wire, and hate songs.”  For Israel (and Jews elsewhere), if the world is to not become another latrine filled with blood and hate songs it needs to de-escalate the passions that are being expressed everywhere in strident and apocalyptic terms.  For that to happen Israel, for one, needs a firm and guiding hand at the helm of government. Novelist Amos Oz believes the Israel-Palestine conundrum is a battle between extremists and pragmatists - on both sides. Only when the extremists are all but silenced will there be a chance for peace between Israel and Palestine. In a normal society guidance would come from the clergy and then from government but in Israel because of its secular history that clerical guidance is absent or mostly confrontational. So leadership must begin with the government providing a vision for how it can unify the nation and marginalize those people or groups who are working to keep the nation divided.

Barry Rubin (Israeli columnist and professor) said “The Palestinians’ leaders have long believed that an intransigent strategy coupled with some outside force—Nazi Germany, the USSR, weaning the West away from Israel—will miraculously grant them total victory. They aren’t going to change course now that that route leads not forward but in circles.”

That same Arab-Palestinian strategy is fought in the Western World usually far more subtly than the naked racism and religious bigotry that is expressed within the Muslim world nevertheless things will get worse, everywhere, because the fascist nature of identity politics is again reasserting itself in western social discourse.

Fascism is the tyranny of the few against an even smaller group in order to proscribe that groups equal exercise of human rights and ultimately, by eliminating their equal rights, to exclude that target group.

Israel is the victim of fascism in the UN and that fascism is spilling over into Western society. Jews are once more becoming victims.  How often have we engaged in peaceful protest, only to be confronted with intimidation and violence? These twin tactics are the fascists preferred tools of persuasion. In the boycott movement and in academia such methods as these are viewed as the acceptable demonstration of their right to freedom of expression. Our right to not live in fear is inevitably dismissed as the suppression of our enemies own right to protest.  In Weimar Germany the Nazis used the same tactics that the Left and their Muslim allies now use to undermine our democratic rights.

Here’s the thing.  The Palestinians have their identity. It is 1,400 years old, tribal and hierarchical. It is racist, misogynistic, xenophobic and antisemitic.  It is Arab history being fiendishly re-enacted today in Iraq and Syria.

Israeli identity is still in the mix. It is still under development. It is 66 years old (1948), it is 97 years old (1917) and it is 4,000 years old.  It is defined by the period of the Bible, by the Second World War, by 1948, 1967, 1973 and 1979 (the War of Independence, the 6 Day War, the Yom Kippur War and the Peace Treaty with Egypt).  Judaism and Israel began in history some time between 2,600 and 2,100 years before the Prophet Muhammad got his big idea.

Arab identity as expressed in jingoistic circles is based on disrespecting ones enemy. Pan-Arabism has an intellectual history in the 20th Century that is wholly triumphalist. All opponents are ‘the enemy’ – remember the recent picture of the Arab women showing her shoe to ‘the Jew’?  In Arab culture the shoe directed towards a persons face says “you are beneath me, I trample on you”.  It is a telling symbol of Arab cultural attitudes that it finds no opposition in Arab society.

With age comes wisdom (in theory). Respect is earned by intentional humanity that is endowed unconditionally.  It is a concept that Arab identity denies to us and to everyone who is not them. It is their greatest strength but also the root of their greatest threat to us.

Israel, for its own sake as well as for the sake of the Diaspora, must understand the consequences of failed leadership, of its inability to create a credible consensus.  Finding a way to express our rights in our sovereign homeland that is inclusive for all of Israel’s citizens must be a priority.  Only then will peace be possible.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Sticks and Stones

Israel is attacked in universities and Israel is attacked in the Press. We, Israel’s supporters, are attacked for supporting the ‘provincial’ nation state of the Jewish People. We are waging a war for hearts and minds and yet we behave as if the tactics of our opponents are unimportant even though the results may not be so. Many of us blithely ignore this conflict because “the scaremongers” disturb our docility.  Those rabble rousers annoy us, if we are honest with ourselves, because complexity confuses us.

When we are forced to take sides most of us are uncomfortable with the facts and too many variables make the likelihood of resolution, slim.  This encourages the weak to cut corners and listen to the people who treat them like simpletons.  It works.  The quickest way to win over converts to a cause is to create a Manichean reality inhabited by goodies and baddies, victims and aggressors (but more about that later).  Life is rarely so simple.

This is not a friendly rivalry between intellectual competitors.  If we use the word “opponent” our enemy has already won the moral high ground because this is not a game we are playing and they will not ‘play’ by our ‘civilized’ rules of engagement. The antagonism of our enemy can be seen in their signs of protest and the slogans they scream at us.  It can be understood in the actions of their activists and in the allegiances of their fellow travelers.

For instance, “Palestine will be free; from the river to the sea” means the obliteration of the State of Israel which would in turn mean genocide (even Palestinian “moderates” accept that anyone employed by the State would be tried for crimes against humanity and that means any one who has served in the IDF, or anyone who worked for or benefited from their relationship with the state.)  Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) campaigners often do not differentiate between Israeli and Jewish products when they attack shops but would be horrified if anyone were to attack supermarkets that stock halal products even though they may be imported from Muslim countries that are misogynistic, homophobic, slave-trading and founded on an institutionally racist premise.

To quote David Semple Manchesters third intifadists  “The BDS mob pretended not to be anti-Jewish but then poured out ……conspiracy theories about Jews and Israel, reminiscent of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Jews were called Nazis; they were called dirty pigs; they were called murderers; they were even called Christ killers.”

But then I was called a child murderer for serving in the IDF.  One British activist for Palestine accused a Christian supporter of Israel of being “lower than those Jews.”

As I have previously stated, fascists on the Left and their Islamic allies view us as the enemy. We have no redemptive qualities that would save us. This is nascent Nazism. It is also the reason that they call us Zio(n)-Nazis.  They label us so that any excuses we may make for our actions appear at best lame, at worst, the self-justification of apologists for an evil regime.  If you call someone a name often enough, and create the pictures to go with it, the result is that you eventually create a vision in the mind of the public that is almost impossible to eradicate. It is propaganda at its most base, its most fundamental emotional level and therefore the most effective means of impregnation.

Our enemy has 3 assets we lack:

1.                  The Cause: This is an idea that is framed, encircled within absolute boundaries. Validity or accuracy is unimportant.  To quote Winston Churchill “the fanatic cannot change his mind and will not change his subject.”

2.                  The Semantic High-Ground: This is won by fighting a war of words. In a world that is easily afflicted by boredom, dualism creates a short-hand that instantly imprints a story on our sub-conscious. Settler and indigenous, colonizer and refugee, aggressor and victim are word-plays meant to initiate a dynamic interplay between the words and pictures we are fed, and our imagination.

Pictures are used to subliminally reinforce our prejudices. Children confronting soldiers are all of them innocents meeting the neighborhood bully, head-on.  It is what Cass Sunstein of Harvard University refers to as “bias assimilation.”

Words are at their most bestial when used to justify atrocity. But without them no reasonable person would support a Palestinian demand for a return and therefore the overturning of Jewish independence.  Without a justification for atrocity David could not become Palestinian and Goliath could not be Israeli.  The genocidal sub-text of Palestinian independence at Israel’s expense is facilitated by hijacking the biblical narrative.   That murderous sub-text is concealed behind a narrative defining Jesus as a Palestinian even when that surrogate Jesus stabs a Jewish toddler through the heart, cuts off the head of a sleeping baby, or with a rock, dashes out the brains of a toddler. Frustration sanitizes infanticide. Warfare has its rules, terror does not. It sounds obscene when the result is the same death to a child but without the rules of war anything is possible. By rewriting the rule-book to upturn definitions of terror and self-defense the fascist Left aids and abets the murderer but they can only justify this by shifting reality to suit their storyline.

3.         Passion: The committed individual will try to sway the uninvolved bystander by enunciating the intensity of their feelings in any way that effectively demonstrates their beliefs.  Ethics are therefore, not of necessity, a requirement.  Their passion will lead them into activism in university, in the union movement, in any organization they join and in politics.  If they are not confronted by an equally passionate opposing viewpoint they will prevail because they will assert their ideology over all others.

The difference between Zionists and anti-Zionists is that as Zionists we will try to reason with our questioner in order to rationally explain who we are and what we believe.  But in a radicalized group, correcting false beliefs will often intensify those beliefs.  To anti-Zionists, we are the enemy, not misguided but less human; hateful and an abomination.

So I will repeat: we are fighting a war and yet we use the words, demeanor and the tactics of the debating society while our enemy are fighting a war and as befits their contempt for us, their tactics are that of the warrior.  We naively believe that we can still win this war fighting under Queensbury’s Rules.

Plucky little Israel may be able to defeat its larger enemy on the battlefields of the Muslim Near-East but our Western European-American War is being fought in civil society, often by uncivil means and we are ill-equipped to combat the tactics our enemy employ against us. They outnumber us, their numbers are growing and they will never play by our rules unless they know the result in advance – in their favor.

I recently attended a meeting where Dr. Einat Wilf spoke. Dr Wilf is a former member of the Israeli Knesset and of the Israeli Labor Party.   As a woman who served in the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in the 18th Knesset, her opinion on why Israel appears to be blind to this particular arena of warfare was a revelation, at least to me.  She said that in the testosterone filled committees, members of the Knesset understood guns and tanks but not ideas.

It is insufficiently precise to say that Israel lacks the sophisticated European political idioms for dealing with Palestinians Arabs because that accusation is predicated on assumptions of compatibility, mutuality and equal receptivity to shared co-existence. Under those circumstances we could similarly question Europe’s appreciation of the challenges to sovereignty that it also faces in the ongoing battle to integrate its immigrants into European society.

In the macho Muslim ocean Israel inhabits, it is not even close to grasping the nature of the response it needs to provide to the two pronged war it faces on a continuous basis. The Hot War uses missiles and mortars.  The Cold War utilizes surrogate armies and sympathetic fellow travelers to wage a War of Attrition which it intends to win by weakening the resistance of its enemy – us.  Its combatants use rocks as well as cars as deadly projectiles against our bodies. The diplomatic war is used to discredit and ultimately disenfranchise Israel’s supporters so that a diplomatically and economically isolated Israel is sufficiently weakened for an unfavorable ‘peace’ to be imposed from the outside. Our enemies use physical as well as intellectual attributes to harass us and exert continuous and negative pressure upon us and if not us, then those around us.

Israel, envisioned and constructed by intellectuals, the state that still worships its scholars, remains deaf and blind to the words that wound even though those words may eventually kill.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Arab Violence and Palestinian Identity

On the 22nd of October 2014 an East Jerusalem Arab drove his car into a group of people waiting for the Jerusalem light rail service. Two people, a baby and a new immigrant subsequently died as a result of this act of terror. It happened as violence has all but prevented the service from connecting the two halves of the city, effectively re-dividing Jerusalem for the first time since 1967.  At the same time, riots on the Temple Mount put a stop to visits by Jews or anyone else interested in visiting Judaism’s holiest site.

One of Judaism’s greatest innovations was for worship to become an intellectual exercise and not an act that was dependent on geography, physical artifact or structure.  Nevertheless, power has always demanded of its rulers an imposing physical space as demonstration of their commanding presence.  It is as if we are unable to emotionally detach ourselves completely from the Golden Calf.  And this applies to most of the world’s faiths today and all of them, at some time in their history. If we recognize this condition as a statement of a human need for physical reassurance then we can also understand both the war waged against us and part of the response that is required from us.

Throughout Israel a conflict over identity is being fought. As distance between Israel’s founding fathers (and mothers) widens, Arabs born in Israel are becoming more Israeli and less Arab. This is a good thing because successful integration in any society is based on a shared identity which may take a single generation to achieve or even two or three generations if there is opposition to this integration.  

An ethnic identity is the only thing that keeps Israel’s Arab citizens ‘Palestinian,’ and even that is a lie because Arab identity is postulated on a trans-national ‘universalist’ ethnic indivisibility.

A national identity is tribal and to the fundamentalist Muslim, un-Islamic. In the mythology of the Arab founding narrative Muhammad chose the Arabs for his religious revelation and not the ethnic inhabitants of one geographically limited area.  It may be resented by non-Arab Muslims but it is impossible to deny the influence it has had over Near-Eastern politics and ethnic insecurity.

It explains the ethnic bigotry of some of Israel’s Arab members of parliament. It explains the reason why Arabs who renounce this racist faux-legal construct of third generation Israeli-Palestinian identity are violently opposed by professional Palestinian agitators and anti-Zionists. The recent case of a teenager forced to flee for his life from his kith and kin occurred solely because of his public announcement that he was an Israeli Muslim.  The viciousness of the Arab reaction is indicative of the threat felt by racists who fear for the fight over what constitutes a legitimate identity. They fear that this fight may be taken into their home territory.

That ‘brave’ 17 year-old teenage boy (as referred to immediately above) is a relative of the anti-Zionist MK (Member of Knesset) Hanin Zoabi. What is remarkable is that she appears to have committed an act of criminal incitement when she justified the kidnapping of three Israeli seminarians who were almost immediately thereafter murdered.   Her public denunciation of her young relative was on first reflection mild compared to her public justification for kidnapping. She derided him as “from a divorced family. His mother now lives in Nazareth Illit, where he studies at a Jewish school. He's sleazy. He's distorted his identity."

That Hanin Zoabi MK does not now languish in prison is a display of monumental cowardice by Israel’s parliamentary and judicial leadership.  This case clearly demonstrates the fascism that is intrinsic to the Palestinian cause. So the question is - how do we fight this war?

If according to the current narrative a Jew cannot be a Palestinian, then conversely, a Palestinian identity is invalidated by adoption of a Jewish or Israeli identity.

Many years ago Yasser Arafat famously dismissed the suggestion that a Jewish missionary effort might help to resolve the conflict between the two sides by threatening to flood Israel with millions of Palestinians who would ‘convert’ to Judaism in order to take advantage of Israel’s Law of Return.  He was bluffing of course. Proselytes away from Islam are tortured and then murdered in the Arab world. Again it is viewed as an act of ethnic betrayal.   Identity politics is the Arab way to bully the rest of us into adopting a defensive position. In our post-modern Western world we reject specific national identities as countering a harmonious inter-ethnic existence.  But we permit it to our minorities if they are vocal enough and violent enough in their opposition to us.

The issue of resolving Palestine – Israel is therefore also hampered by ultra-orthodox control over religious identity.   Mass conversion would be impossible to contemplate and would take centuries to actuate.

Just as Christians, Muslims and Druze are able to settle almost anywhere in Israel, the reverse must similarly apply.  It is mainly Arab apartheid that actively prevents Jews settling amongst Arabs.   Jewish missionary activity would break down this brick wall of opposition to Arab integration in Israel and it would help to marginalize Israel’s racist opponents both in Israel and in the West by exposing the real nature of their opposition to Jewish self-determination.   The media must be encouraged to openly debate this Arab particularistic opposition and yes, it would expose Jewish insecurities about their own religious identity as well as the issues that ultra-orthodox authority have created within Israeli society (as well as internationally).  Removing religious coercion would focus religious competition – identity has always been a competition for “souls.”

How to respond to the inevitable riots against integration? Counter them by building thousands of housing units for demobilized soldiers in every town that threatens violence.

Within Israel, the twin actions of encouraging an Israeli identity amongst Arabs and prosecuting those people who threaten this freedom to choose their identity would force everyone to consider their racist positions and to reconcile those positions within a democratic and Western orientated Jewish State.  It would lower the heat in Israel’s parliament because passionate positions on intra-Israeli identity are not based on inclusion and as such discourage equality and kinship within society.

And last, it would go some way towards resolving the Palestine-Israel conflict because without a Palestinian base “in-country” there would be no support in Israel, by Arabs, for a Palestinian “Return.”  Supporters of the Palestinian Right of Return in Europe and the Americas could only then reconcile their support through antisemitic argument that would be obvious to everyone.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

ISIL. Conquest and Root Causes

This is the Final part of a 3 part series.

ISIL or IS (the Islamic State as they prefer to be known) are no more than or less than another, in a long line of Islamist revolutionary movements. Their theatrical acts of torture and their public murders have solid roots in ‘revolutionary’ warfare. Extremists will willingly point to the Prophets own actions to justify their behavior. Muhammad publicly beheaded between 300 and 900 male opponents from the Jewish tribe of Qurayza and then gave his victims wives and children to his loyal followers, (in payment for services rendered).

Terror always works to intimidate weaker tribes but if ISIL are bombed out of Syria they will melt away into Iraq and Lebanon, and if permitted, into Turkey.

As a nation, Turkey has thus far successfully integrated a fundamentalist ideology into its main political infrastructure in direct contradiction to the secularist ‘Kemalism’ of the modern Turkish state.  So Turkey must be careful how it relates to the Islamic State (ISIL).  Turkey is a member state of NATO with a significant South Eastern border that it shares with both Syria and Iraq. It does not want to embroil NATO in what many people in the Muslim world view as an internal Muslim religious conflict nor does it want to be seen to be a participant in the killing of fellow Sunnis.

Kobani is much in the news at this time as it comes under attack by ISIL.

Kobani is the last Syrian town before the country’s northern border with Turkey. Geopolitical maps of what exiled Kurds in Europe call Western Kurdistan transect territory across the Syrian and Turkish borders.

Kurdish forces only wrestled control of Kobani (aka Ein al-Arab) from the Syrian military in 2012.  The attack by ISIL represents a dream assault for Neo-Ottoman (expansionist) Turkey.  If ISIL manage to capture and massacre the residents of the city then many Kurdish fighters will have been slaughtered without the military being blamed for the bloodshed. If Turkey is then encouraged to intervene elsewhere on behalf of any of its minorities, it will be on Neo-Ottoman terms.

Turkey was much angered by the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood led government of Egypt and continues to voice open contempt for the government of General el-Sisi. This too is consistent with Turkish support for an ideologically sympathetic movement.

Appeasing Islamist extremism can only encourage the worse elements amongst Islamists to push the limits of tolerance of any society in which they take hold.  It was this logic that saw an Egyptian court place a ban on the Brotherhood on 23rd September 2013.

It is therefore puzzling that President Obama ceased military aid to Egypt after the July 2013 coup.  Being seen to support a regime that was both irrational and bigoted because it was initially freely elected is consistent behavior for President Obama but is neither strategically nor historically sound. For example, no US president could justify a similar stand on Communism.

In the early years after the Russian Revolution communism split between Stalinists who demanded the realization of the ideal of “Socialism in One Country” and Trotskyism which opposed “One Country Socialism.”  The USA and European nations were intolerant of both variants and remain so.  Except in Islamism's non-hierarchical nature it is difficult not to draw comparisons between Islamism and communism.

The ever bleeding wound of Sunni–Shia antipathy and mutual antagonism has boiled over into uncontrollable, murderous rage intermittently since the Iranian revolution of 1979. The schism between the two main sects of Islam has existed for nearly all of the fourteen centuries since Muhammad founded his faith.  Al Qaeda veterans poured into Syria from Iraq and were generously re-supplied by Turkey so that they soon became the main military faction to oppose the Alawite regime.

Thomas Paine, the political activist and philosopher said that “to argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.”  And so it seems we are desperate to refrain from making comparisons between Islamism and Communism.  Perhaps this is the reason that our leaders are incapable of applying a consistent standard when confronted with the Islamist threat to global peace and security.

Neo-Ottoman Turkey is a member of NATO and yet it has encouraged ISIL.   The civil war in Syria and before it, the Iraqi debacle helped to draw out the monumental hatred that exists between the two rival Sunni and Shia sects and not just in Syria where the dictatorship of the Assad family kept the conflict under control.

Turkey has been encouraged to flex its imperialistic muscles by Europe’s de facto acceptance of its conquest of Northern Cyprus 40 years ago. The UN has all but ignored this conflict. When Israel and Cyprus signed a maritime border treaty in late December 2010 Turkey all but asserted its colonial right of first refusal when it judged the accord on 21st December 2010 to be “null and void”. 

Conflict with its Christian, Kurdish, Shia and Israeli neighbors demonstrates Turkey's bona fide right to lead the regions Sunni Muslims.

At the start of the Arab Spring the Muslim Brotherhood took democratic control of Tunisia and Egypt. Syrian Shia minority rule appeared to be increasingly precarious.  If Turkey could control Sunni forces it could re-establish Turkish influence in Libya.  Iraq’s Shia majority could be destabilized and Sunni minority rule re-asserted.  All nations in the region would be subservient to Turkey as had been the situation during the period of the Ottoman Empire.

Analysts and arm chair pundits in the Western media publicly admit that the bombing campaign will do very little to solve the problem of IS.  The ideology they represent is one of limitless power for their faithful followers. Their consequent actions are justified through the bloodthirsty history of the first three generations of Muslim history.  Nations that supported ISIL now fear ISIL but only because they cannot control it.

The bombing of ISIL in Syria may have inadvertently recreated the conditions for another Lebanese civil war.  Shia Hezbollah’s inordinate political influence was based on the support they received from both Iran and Syria.  When the Syrian civil war broke out in March 2011, Hassan Nasrallah (Secretary General of Hezbollah) felt obligated to repay his Syrian protector by sending thousands of his soldiers to fight alongside of the Assad regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Withdrawing Hezbollah’s battle tested troops from Syria may undermine the Shia effort to contain ISIL. At the same time, as ISIL disperses it will enter Lebanon and hide amongst Sunni supporters.  The coalition will be unable to intervene in Lebanon and this may make inevitable a military flare-up in Lebanon.

The fifth member of the original anti-IS coalition is Qatar. Its role is admitted to be only “in support of” the coalition. It will not be bombing IS positions.  According to media reports Qatar continues to fund Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Jabhat al Nusra (the al-Nusra front) and other Islamist terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda (of which IS was originally affiliated). It is through its funding of these terrorist organizations that it undermines its neighbors. Al Jazeera, the Qatari global news network ridiculed the beheading of the two American journalists and described the beheadings as no more than pretext for the US intervention in Syria (to which it is now nominally committed in its participation).

There are many people who try to blame regional and even global Muslim dissatisfaction on Israel because of Jewish Palestine's conflict with Sunni Palestinians.  Inter-Arab and inter-Muslim conflict is ignored or excused with reference to Israel and ‘the Jews’ or Zionists. The wars being waged in Iraq and in Syria are proxy wars between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia with various other regional players such as Qatar and Turkey also vying for greater influence.

Historically, both Jordan and Egypt have similarly sought to manipulate events in the region to their advantage and control.

Those wars being waged between Shia and Sunni are sometimes expressed as tribal conflicts but irrespective of form they will only subside if the root cause is addressed. That root cause is a fundamentalist belief, a theocratic superstition that instead of a shared humanity, we are all of us nothing more than objects for conquest.