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Friday, February 28, 2014

Semantics and the Illegal Settlements

On the 24th of February, I attended a discussion on the illegality of the settlement enterprise. The purpose, to emphasise the validity of Jewish habitation in what, depending upon your political viewpoint, are usually referred to as the “Shtuchim ha’ k’vushim” (occupied territories) or “agadah ha’ma’aravite” (the West Bank) or “Yehudah v’Shomron” (Judea and Samaria).

The speaker reminded us that it is an act of heresy to describe the settlements as anything but an obstacle to peace. Grandstanding based on historical fictions has doomed peace talks in the past.  There is no reason to believe, at least from the public statements of politicians and religious leaders that the situation surrounding the current talks is any different from previous negotiations.

And here is the problem.

The speaker is the editor of a right wing Internet newspaper but even he was incapable of breaking free from our mutual enemy’s tactics and linguistic speech patterns.  And he failed to appreciate that in a war there is only black and white. Shades of grey are rightly viewed as signs of weakness and ruthlessly manipulated.

As an example of this attitude I read the following day an article that was written by Dr Mustafa Barghouti and published in Ma’ariv, the Israeli daily newspaper.  He said he could not ever recognise a Jewish state because this would be recognition of an Israeli narrative, or put another way, it would mean the renunciation of the Palestinian narrative.  That Palestinian narrative is based on distortion of religious beliefs, denial of history, and an ideological disposition towards conquest.  In fact the colonial narrative is incapable of sharing either the past or the future and is therefore powerless to change its direction in the present. And this, more than anything else, is the reason that peace talks are likely doomed, to failure.

Based on an irredentist doctrine of Arab cultural and ethno-religious homogeneity the Arab world is truly unable to accept any narrative that differs from its own. For that reason it must monopolize the discourse in order to delegitimize the opposing version of events, in fact any contrary version of events. 

It is against this backdrop that any objections will be dismissed, ignored or violently opposed.   Fear of dissension or any debate that veers away from the catechism is viewed as heretical or schismatic and is crushed.  This is what has nearly always characterized Arab, Muslim and Palestinian history.

If my use of religious terminology has been noticed I deliberately used it because submission (that or surrender is usually meant to be the meaning of the word “Islam”) is deeply embedded in the culture of our enemies and the ramifications of this mindset undermines and is fatal to successful reflection or negotiation.

The only way to create an atmosphere of shared history with all of its mutual pain is to make it unsafe not to do so.

The Temple Mount and the Western Wall are singularly and together, the holiest sites in the Jewish faith. On 27 June 1967, Israel’s government formally declared the Temple Mount compound to be under Jordanian Islamic administration which meant Israel gave up its sovereignty in favor of the Jordanian government.  What makes this singular act remarkable is that Israel remained in a state of war with Jordan for twenty seven years after this date (until the signing of a peace treaty with Jordan in 1994).  To this day this act of self-denial remains unique, unprecedented in human history.  Denying itself the mantle of sovereignty was more than an act of generosity by a conquering nation.  Against a setting of Muslim-Arab ethnic cleansing that included the desecration and destruction of almost all of ancient Jewish Jerusalem the decision by Moshe Dayan to ignore the physical destruction and ethnic cleansing by Israel’s Arab enemies appears saintly by comparison.  And it continues to psychically burn many on the right of Israeli politics as if the proclamation of non-sovereignty remains a suppurating wound to this day.

A member of the Israeli Knesset organized the first ever Knesset debate on the subject of Jewish rights on the Temple Mount on the 25th of February 2014.  Jordan informed Israel that “attacking places which are holy to Islam will ignite a diplomatic conflict between the countries”.

Here is the issue in a single sentence.  The Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and his Arab brethren deny any connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem. They deny the evidence of more than 3,000 years of continuous Jewish habitation in Jerusalem.  Or they destroy it.  It is irrelevant whether this aberrant mental tic is a negotiating tactic or a grotesque display of genuine ignorance. Any negotiation that is not based on a priori mutual recognition is doomed to fail.

Part of that mutual recognition must involve the renunciation of the war of words but propaganda is meant to score points, not negotiate an equitable peace and once we adopt the language of our enemies we have already lost the argument, if not the war.

The only way we can change the course of this debate is to reclaim the “moral” high-ground. So I lay out a few facts that need to be repeated by our diplomats, by our politicians and by all of us, at every possible opportunity:

  1. In 1948 the indigenous Jews of Palestine as well as immigrant Jews to Palestine were ethnically cleansed from Judea and Samaria
  2. In 1948 the indigenous Jews of Palestine as well as immigrant Jews to Palestine were ethnically cleansed from the ancient City of Jerusalem.
  3. The persecution that Christians are suffering today as a consequence of Arab religious bigotry was the fate of Jews throughout Arab history and culminated in the ethnic cleansing of the Jews of Arab lands in 1948. They travelled overwhelmingly to the only country in the region that offered them safety and the opportunities offered by self-determination and that country was and remains to this day, Israel.
  4. As a consequence of points one through three, the Nakba exists but it was the rejectionism of Muslim nationalists and religious figures throughout the Muslim world that created the momentum for it.  In terms of scope that Nakba was Jewish and those that take only an Arab narrative view of events are racists.
  5. The West Bank did not ever exist until Jordan captured Judea and Samaria in 1948 and illegally annexed it in the same year. The term was created to differentiate the West Bank of the Jordan River from the East Bank of the Jordan River and served to create a border between the two parts of the nascent Jordanian ‘empire.’
  6. 70% of Jordanians are Palestinian but following on from point five, that 70% excludes “West Bank” Palestinians.
  7. Islamic antisemitism as well as Islamic anti-Christian belief are both doctrinally anchored in the primary texts of Islam.
  8. This prejudice is not therefore a foreign Christian or Western import, nor is it the result of Israeli self-determination in Palestine.  Church massacres and the desecration of Jewish as well as other faith’s holy sites have taken place throughout Islamic history and will continue to occur world-wide because the Islamic world refuses to acknowledge the original sin of its theological malevolence and aggression.  The Koran and the Hadith refer to Jews as apes and pigs, and there is far worse extracted from the Muslim holy texts.  Jews that refuse to embrace the only true faith can be killed, quickly or slowly.  The Muslims that perpetrated the Mumbai Massacre in 2008 made that point only too clearly when they tortured to death a woman in the late stages of her pregnancy.

In spite of all this horror, Jews are favoured in their treatment compared to ‘heretics’ and ‘idolaters’.

  1. “Be you apes, despised and loathed.”   Jews and Christians are equated with pigs which are loathed by Muslims. Ridicule is central to demonization and delegitimization.
  2. Massacres such as occurred in Hebron in 1929, Jaffa in 1936, and Kfar Etzion in 1948 reinforced the contempt that Arabs already had for Jewish rights in Palestine. The denial by Abbas and his ilk of Jewish history is consistent with Muslim and Arab cultural terrorism. The theft of classical history is an Islamic tactic used to reject both Jewish and Christian land based ties to the holy land and to anchor Muslim – Arab conquest as firmly in the past to justify the present, as is possible.
  3. If the Koran is not logically consistent, this is also useful as inconsistencies are used to ‘prove’ the peaceful nature of the faith while ignoring any calls to violence, bigotry and hate that are also integral to a conquest based Muslim world view.
  4. Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention involves forced transfers of populations into or out of occupied territories.  Judea and Samaria are contested territories and forced, mass expulsions have not taken place.
  5. The United Nations Organisation has been the propaganda arm of the OIC (Organisation of the Islamic Conference) in its continued war against the Jews for almost four decades and Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention proves the point. Turkey is guilty of repeated violations of the 4th Geneva Convention in both its conquest of North Cyprus and its forced population transfers. But the UN has remained completely silent on this.
  6. And finally, with reference to the alleged illegality of the Settlements, Oslo 2 gave Israel unrestricted building rights in Area C.  If the Arab World is so contemptuous of any treaty obligations then why should Israel ever trust its neighbours with whom it has been in mortal combat in modern times, for over a century?  This obsession with Israel resettlement reinforces the belief that any treaties signed with a Muslim state are no more than one more stage in a war that is only permitted to end in Islamic victory. In theological terms this is referred to as Dar al-Hudna (a treaty signed between Muslim and non-Muslim nations with the intent that it serves only as a respite). 

There will always be the apologists who proclaim that you do not learn about a religion by examining the conduct of its followers.  They will warn you that “true faith” is based on the scriptures and the lessons that should be learnt from embracing them. With respect to those who think this, much of human history is a response to what we as human beings have taken from religious texts. And that interpretation is an ongoing conversation between human beings and not deities and their followers.

If we excuse the behaviour of the conqueror and the slave master instead of demanding a full account of their actions then civilisation is no longer a conversation. It is no longer a thing of hope and love; both a terrible historical journey and a beautiful opportunity for growth and development. Instead it is a cursed thing that can only ever celebrate pain.  And that is something that civilised people refuse to believe.  Hope for a better future is part of our Western tradition and we must not forget it.

In the Western World we have the extremist, fascist Left which will always sycophantically accept the obliteration of our history in favour of the Islamic (Arab) narrative because of its own logical inconsistencies.  If the Muslim world is portrayed as “victims” of Western Imperialism and not collaborators (or worse) instigators and perpetrators of great evil then that Muslim nation must have its terrible enemy.  The fascist Left would collapse under the weight of its antisemitism if its choices – its contradictions could not be explained away by reference to the ongoing conflict with the Zionist occupation.

Perpetual peace is no empty idea, but a practical thing which, through its gradual solution, is coming always nearer its final realization..." Immanuel Kant

We will not achieve peace of any kind while an Islamic – Arab narrative continues to demand our fidelity to a false tale of Islamic tolerance and peaceful co-existence. That tolerance is a myth and peace has not ever existed except through obeisance. Until we recognize this sad fact and until we shout it from the rooftops the Muslim world will continue to use us as its whipping boy. It will blame us for all of its crimes and the world will continue to ignore its inhumanity.

The Islamic migration to the West is based on a narrative of faith based peace and tolerance. I have read of Muslim conditional tolerance but rarely have I read of Islamic peace.

In the Western World they have the attention and the obedience of our intellectuals and most journalists.  Governments fear offending their Muslim constituent’s and will always be loathe to cause offense to the wider 1,500 million strong, Muslim market.  They have economic levers based on oil and demographics. We cannot impact the demographics and journalists are mostly careful – they rarely behave in a way that antagonizes their Muslim hosts (they have never feared Jewish reprisals).  That leaves us with the war of information.

Israel must encourage its Palestinian adversaries to accept Jewish prior sovereignty and the fact that the earlier sin of Arab conquest does not validate its claims against Israel’s.

We are the enemy so let them fear what we can say about their conduct towards us.  The Arab and greater Muslim nation will not thank the Palestinians for being the reason that we demolish their carefully crafted deceptions if we repay some of their most outrageous crimes by publicly denouncing their continued assault on all of us at every opportunity.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Inequality and the Sanitised Bully

We refer to inequality as if it is a conspiracy perpetrated by factions within society rather than being simply an act of domination by the strong over the weak. It is the action of human beings everywhere, whether we disagree with them or not.  Political parties manipulate inequality all the time. The Right demands of us the freedom to make mistakes but of more importance, it wants us to live with our mistakes, to pay their price for our failures, and usually, it wants us to pay for their mistakes too.  The Liberals understand that we all make mistakes and want to protect us from making them in the first place while the Left will demand compensation on our behalf. Of course, this is a bit of an oversimplification. There is altruism in some political policy but compassion in conservatism, liberalism or the left is a necessity rather than a virtue of politics. If our members of parliament know what is good for us whether we like it or not, their behavior is tempered by another maxim and that is that politics is the art of the achievable; therefore, fear of failure rather than respect for the electorate is what determines policy.

If our politicians know what is good for us then imposing their will is rationalized by means of political virtue. Of course they will always tell us that our acquiescence indicates our agreement. But the reality is much more mundane. Britain does not have Political Action Committees like the USA possesses.  If we feel aggrieved we cannot simply petition higher courts of justice. Our voice in politics is heard when our politicians want to listen.  The "Tyranny of the Majority" I referred to in an earlier article is what our politicians use in order to maintain discipline within society.  The European Union has magnified the injustice within society by trying to ensure that every activity has the same outcome.  In leveling society it has had to cater to the lowest common denominator in society without considering that when we deal with 28 separate nation states we have 28 separate lowest common denominators and not one.  Frustration and anger breeds discontent that the consumer society will be unable to appease because not everyone shares either the vision or the wealth generated by the Union. Access that is a right and not a privilege creates expectations which constantly escalate without reference to the prevalent circumstances.

But the European Community (the EU) was an American construction – a last attempt at civilizing the murderous ‘Old World’ which to outsiders appeared incapable of containing its passions. Those passions had created centuries of hatred and warfare.

So we have a different kind of domination today. The tyranny of European parliamentary bureaucracy – tens of thousands of regulations define every aspect of society. Those regulations define every aspect of our existence: What may be called Camembert, what may claim to be champagne, even the angle of a banana; in summary, what is permitted and what is not.

It was recently revealed that corruption costs the EU at least £100 billion per year.  That is only £200 per person for every man, woman and child living in the EU. But to put it into perspective, that is £200 that is stolen from every one of us every year.

We could argue that peace has never been achieved so cheaply or so painlessly.  £12 billion per year is then, a peace tax for Britain, and perhaps it represents good value. But that all depends on whether or not all that regulation and the necessity to cede sovereignty deliver harmony or something else less welcome.  If society is gradually becoming eroded and if our attempts to scale any heights are increasingly curtailed by group-think and the terror of the collective we may one day wish to return to an era of irrepressible passion vicariously or directly played out before us.

Or perhaps we have already begun to take that journey.  We as a society have become enamored of violence in our everyday speech and in our visual entertainment (in our movies and in the ubiquity of aggression in our video games). The popular movie franchise, “The Hunger Games” is one futuristic nod to the Roman amphitheater of two thousand years ago.  It is not so long ago that war was seen as a noble expression of manliness which brought out the best in us.  We have advanced one hundred years so that we can now make our war games sexually egalitarian while retaining their deathly malice.

Some of our music refers to our women and girls as “bitches”, our music videos often add to their debasement rather than their empowerment. We have opened many doors to equality while simultaneously we facilitate the advancement of the pedophile, the rapist and the chauvinistic thug.  It appears that in honor of free speech and civil liberty we are losing all sense of voluntary self-control.

The artistic and the intellectual thug, and the professional demagogue are two sides to the same sickness that we have refused to tackle for fear of violating our sacred principles. But those are the same principles, the abuse of which undermines society and,  whose misuse we appear to be powerless to dispel.

Most non-Europeans did not feel the existential terror of the Nazi era.  It may be the reason that in Britain as well as in the rest of the English speaking world we misinterpret the malevolent power that is represented by the Quenelle.  The excuse that it is no more than a symbol of social disharmony and the muted articulation of French frustration has not prevented some from seeing in it the slow break down of French society; while for others it is nothing less than a portent of the collapse of civil society. The Quenelle is symbolic of all that is dysfunctional within society, a visual representation of the poison within. We seem to have ignored the simple undiluted fundamental here.  The Quenelle is a modern Nazi salute. Does it matter whether it is left wing Nazism, right wing Nazism or Islam that fuels its popularity?

If we have re-awoken to an era of distractions, of rediscovered faith outside of faith, of devotion to the mundane as well as the hateful, it is perhaps no more than our latest descent into a void characterised by barbarism.