Archive for February, 2011

The culture of death and hate

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

Sometimes we talk about anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli ‘incitement’ in the Middle East. We also understand that there is a deep reservoir of hatred built up among Arabs, in great measure a result of the constant drumbeat in their media. But this is abstract. Let’s make it concrete.

The Israel-Jordan peace treaty was signed in 1994. Like the treaty with Egypt, it wasn’t an especially warm peace. But unlike the Oslo Agreement with the Palestinian Arabs, the Jordanian leadership did not sign it with intent to violate it. In 1996 my wife and daughter visited the remarkable city of Petra. They are certain that border officials and others knew they were Israeli citizens despite their American passports, but nobody bothered them.

When the treaty was signed, a spot at the confluence of the Jordan and Yarmouk rivers, ‘nahariyim‘ [two rivers] in Hebrew, was set aside as a tourist site. It was called “the Island of Peace.” The area was under Jordanian sovereignty but the site was developed by several Israeli kibbutzim in the area.

On March 13, 1997, a Jordanian soldier, Ahmed Daqamseh, opened fire on a group of Israeli schoolchildren from the town of Beit Shemesh on an outing near the Island of Peace. Seven 11-year old girls were killed, and others seriously wounded. The event shocked Israel and Jordan as well. King Hussein himself traveled to Beit Shemesh and apologized to the families, something heretofore — and probably today — unthinkable for an Arab leader.

Various news reports call Daqamseh ‘mentally disturbed’. But here is a bit from an Aljazeera program broadcast in July, 2001:

The next caller was the mother of the Jordanian soldier, Ahmad Daqamseh, who murdered seven Israeli girls on the Israeli-Jordanian border in 1997. She made the following speech: “I am proud of my son, and I hold my head high. My son did a heroic deed and has pleased Allah and his own conscience. My son lifts my head and the head of the entire Arab and Islamic nation. I am proud of any Muslim who does what Ahmad did. I hope that I am not saying something wrong. When my son went to prison, they asked him: ‘Ahmad, do you regret it?’ He answered: ‘I have no regrets.’ He treated everyone to coffee, honored all the other prisoners, and said: The only thing that I am angry about is the gun, which did not work properly. Otherwise I would have killed all of the passengers on the bus.” — MEMRI tr.

If Ahmed was ‘disturbed’, so was his mother. Of course by enlightened standards, the slaughter of innocent children is beyond horrible, to the point that only mental illness can explain it. But there is a culture — and I am not saying this is Arab culture in general, clearly many Arabs, including King Hussein, were stunned and ashamed — in which this isn’t crazy.

This is the culture of people who have learned to reason according to rigid ideological strictures and to feel by pulling up the hatred that’s been pumped into them by parents, schools, media, religious leaders, etc. for as long as they can remember. These are people who do not empathize, at least not with others outside their family, tribe or religious circle. Fill them with hate and give them rules that legitimize murder, and they murder. With pride and without regrets.

Apparently education and status are irrelevant. In today’s news, we read this:

Jordan minister dubs Israel girls’ killer ‘hero’

By Ahmad Khatib (AFP) – 12 hours ago

AMMAN — Jordan’s justice minister on Monday described a Jordanian soldier serving a life sentence for killing seven Israeli schoolgirls in 1997 as a “hero,” drawing an expression of “revulsion” from Israel.

“I support the demonstrators’ demand to free Ahmad Dakamseh. He’s a hero. He does not deserve prison,” Hussein Mujalli, who was named minister last week, told AFP after taking part in the sit-in held by trade unions.

“If a Jewish person killed Arabs, his country would have built a statue for him instead of imprisonment.” Mujalli, a former president of the Jordan Bar Association, was Dakamseh’s lawyer.

Mujalli is only one of many. The item continues:

Maisara Malas, who heads a trade unions’ committee to support and defend the soldier, told AFP he handed a letter to Mujalli, demanding Dakamseh’s release.

“We cannot imagine that a great fighter like Dakamseh is in jail instead of reaping the rewards of his achievement,” the letter said.

Jordan’s powerful Islamist movement and the country’s 14 trade unions, which have more than 200,000 members, have repeatedly called for Dakamseh’s release.

Mujali is not uneducated and 200,000 unionists are not all mentally disturbed. They are, rather, part of the culture of death and hate, a subculture that has developed in the Arab world. Start with a strictly authoritarian interpretation of Islam, taught by methods which do not allow the smallest opening for questions or empathy for outsiders. Then add the incitement blazing forth every day, always saying that Jews, Israel, the United States, the West, are corrupt, evil, devils, spawn of animals, enemies of Islam and Muslims, over and over again, the voices of authority saying these things.

Add also the falsehoods and blood libels: the IDF shot Mohammad Dura in cold blood, the IDF kills Arabs and takes their organs, thousands were massacred in Jenin in 2003, AIDS and Measles are spread by Jews, Israelis have trained sharks to attack tourists off Egyptian beaches, the IDF shot hundreds of Egyptian prisoners of war in the Sinai in 1967, Ariel Sharon himself shot children to death in Sabra/Shatila, the IDF went into Gaza with orders to kill as many civilians as possible, Israeli soldiers landed on the deck of the Mavi Marmara shooting… I could go on and on.

This comes from Syria, from Egypt, from Turkey, and yes, from Jordan. Some of it starts in Europe in ‘enlightened’ places like Sweden, or is abetted by the most respected figures in the media establishment of France. But the result is the same: a huge reservoir of people who believe that in the case of Jews or Israelis, murder is not only justified, it’s laudable. Daqamseh’s mother is proud of her son, because he took direct violent action to regain the Arab/Muslim honor that has been stolen by the despicable Jews, the ones who should be on the bottom but who inexplicably have defeated and humiliated Arabs.

This isn’t exactly ‘terrorism’ in the way US officials and even some Israelis think about it. It’s not a military tactic used to obtain objectives, to demoralize the enemy, although it has that effect. It is a spontaneous outflow of hate from people that have been made into vessels for hate and instruments for its expression. Possibly they are used as unguided missiles, human Qassams, by some Arab leaders with political goals, but the force that propels them is hate, not politics.

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US Israel-Arab policy is insane… or something

Sunday, February 13th, 2011

Yaakov Lozowick has an interesting short piece on the Yehuda Avner book, The Prime Ministers: An Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership. I haven’t read the book yet (my pile of unread books only gets taller), but Lozowick said this, worth quoting:

Ever since the Six Day War, we learn, American leaders (not to mention all the others) are fixated on this version or that of having Israel hand over the territories it acquired in that war in return for peace. There is never (as told in this book) any discussion of what will keep the peace going once the agreement has been reached. There’s this puzzle, and it can be resolved by moving these pieces in these ways… and what happens afterward? Well, there will be peace,of course, and nothing will threaten it ever, so no-one needs to think much about it; it will be gloriously boring. No-one in the book ever brings up the possibility that the conflict can’t be resolved by Israel giving back those territories because the conflict was always about much more than them. It’s not mentioned, not considered, not part of the discourse.

I mentioned this to my son, who reads a lot of military history. It struck him that while people commonly think most wars are about territory, often — maybe most often — they are not. Human emotions and ideology (usually religious ideology) play a large role in pushing nations to war and in shaping the course of conflict. Who can deny that Hitler’s racial theories and hatred of Jews caused him to take decisions that were suboptimal from a military point of view? Historian Lucy Dawidowicz went so far as to write a book about the war in Europe called The War Against the Jews, in which she argued that Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union was driven by his desire to wipe out the Jews of the world.

The Israeli-Arab conflict is infused with emotion and ideology. The Arab culture which places great importance on honor and shame — and these concepts are not identical with the way they are usually understood in the West —  has had a great deal to do with the conflict. It’s not unreasonable to say that Sadat attacked Israel on Yom Kippur in 1973 as much to regain Arab honor as to repossess the Sinai.

Islam demands that Muslims rule over all the lands in Dar al Islam, and even among secular Arabs there is a belief that there is something upside down about a Jewish state in the midst of the Arab world. Jews ought to be inferior, particularly in warfare — which the Arabs see as the most masculine of endeavors — and their inability to defeat Israel is a stinging wound to their honor, a source of shame.

Indeed, probably one of the reasons that even a ‘cold’ peace with Egypt held firm for so many years is the widespread belief among Egyptians that they were victorious in 1973!

Palestinian Arabs see the nakba as a massive loss of honor, an emasculation, and will not be satisfied by anything less than a full reversal of it, preferably accomplished in a violent way. Yasser Arafat was expert at pulling these strings, often leading crowds in chanting “with blood and fire we will redeem Palestine…”

Ideology is strongest among Islamists, such as Hamas. The Hamas covenant explains the need for jihad to get Palestine back to its rightful owners, Muslims, and quotes Koranic scripture calling for the extermination of Jews.

None of this should be a big surprise to anyone who pays attention to what Arabs say, even what they say in English.

This is why, for example, that no Palestinian Arab leader has ever agreed that a ‘peace treaty’ would end the conflict. This is why the Arab League peace initiative (the ‘Saudi peace plan‘), which the US President and others trot out regularly, only promises ‘normal relations’ but does not say that the Palestinian Arabs have no further claims on Israel.

The point is that the conflict is not primarily a conflict over land, and certainly not just over the land Israel conquered in 1967. And if this is true — and it is — then what Lozowick calls the long-running ‘fixation’ on getting Israel to let go of the rest of the land it captured in 1967 (it has already relinquished the major part of it and the conflict has gotten worse) as a path to peace is clearly irrational. I would even use the word ‘insane’, considering the amount of effort and prestige that the US administration has invested in it.

Of course they are not insane, or blind and deaf. They are aware that a technocratic adjustment of borders will not put an end to the emotional and ideological forces that drive the conflict. And therefore I conclude that the goal of American (and European) policy is not to end the conflict, not to obtain a lasting peace. It is limited to forcing Israel to give up the rest of the territory taken in 1967.

This includes, by the way, the Golan Heights (US spokespeople often mention this). A reasonable assessment would assert that the cause of peace would be best served by leaving this highly strategic area in Israel’s hands, since 1) Syria has attacked Israel several times while Israel has not attacked Syria, and 2) the belligerent attitude and behavior of the Syrian dictator makes his intent suspect. But yet, the US and Europeans push for a ‘peace’ treaty here too.

So what is driving the ‘fixation’?

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Moty & Udi: Perfidious Albion

Saturday, February 12th, 2011

Attaquons dans ses eaux la perfide Albion (let us attack perfidious Albion in its waters) — Marquis de Ximenès, 1793

Britain didn’t do well by the Jews of the pre-state yishuv, and the relationship is not so great today. For example, take the recent remarks of British Foreign Secretary William Hague:

“Amidst the opportunity for countries like Tunisia and Egypt, there is a legitimate fear that the Middle East peace process will lose further momentum and be put to one side, and will be a casualty of uncertainty in the region,” Hague said in an interview with the [Times of London].

“This should not be a time for belligerent language,” Hague argued when asked about Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu call to prepare for “any outcome” and comments that he would “reinforce the might of the State of Israel” should it prove necessary.

Hmm… perhaps, living on an island as he does, Mr. Hague doesn’t understand. Suppose by some tectonic magic Scotland were to be suddenly replaced by Germany. Suppose that the friendly German government were overthrown, the future uncertain. And then suppose that a large number of Germans, perhaps a majority, supported a neo-Nazi party that called for the destruction of England. Netanyahu belligerent? I’d call him prudent.

Hague continued:

“It is a time to inject greater urgency into the Middle East peace process,” the foreign secretary told the Times. He called for “strong leadership from the US” and “equally bold steps by Israelis and Palestinians.”

Hague said Israel’s stance on settlement activities in the West Bank was “disappointing” and that peace may become “impossible” within a few years.

I am always bemused when someone argues that Israel must hurry up and make a deal with the Palestinian Authority because otherwise Palestinian Arabs will lose patience and allow ‘extremists’ to take over. Then, they say, it will be too late. But what if Israel does make a deal, gives up Judea, Samaria and parts of Jerusalem, and then Hamas takes over anyway?  It’s not like a ‘peace’ agreement that does not include all of Israel would satisfy Hamas.

Hague is not the dumbest of Brits, not by a long shot. Consider Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, the former British Ambassador to Israel, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan (I did not make up his name). Among other things, he said that Israel should have accepted “the peace that has been on offer essentially since 1937 when the Peel Commission recommended partition…” Well, duh, Sir Sherard, the Jews did accept (with considerable misgiving) the Peel Commission proposal for a tiny, attenuated Jewish state.

And they also accepted the UN partition resolution of 1947, as well as proposing partition themselves in 2000 and yet again in 2008. Guess who rejected all of these proposals? There’s no prize for a correct answer.

But no matter how hostile and uninformed British officials may be, they can’t hold a candle to some segments of the press. For example, The Guardian’s policy seems to be to support and promote the racist, terrorist Hamas organization. The website “Just Journalism” did a devastating study of Guardian coverage of the ‘Palestine Papers’, which showed that

– The Guardian’s handling of the Palestine papers story demonstrated a preference for a hardline Palestinian stance over one of moderation, best illustrated by their call for Hamas to be brought into the diplomatic process and their hosting an opinion piece by the group calling for action.

– Content of the documents attesting to Israel’s efforts and desire for peace were downplayed or ignored; in particular, the content of Olmert’s 2008 offer was not reported and a key quote was elided.

– The Guardian scandalised Palestinian negotiators’ acceptance that Palestinians would not be admitted en mass [sic] as part of a two-state solution.

– The newspaper strongly implied that it does not accept Israel as a Jewish state and would maintain this position in the event of the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza.

– The Palestinian offer to allow Israel to retain most of its settlements in east Jerusalem was treated as an outrage, when such an arrangement would be in line with the 2000 Clinton Parameters.

– The Guardian treated any outcome on the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif other than total Arab control as a betrayal of the Muslim world, despite the site’s place as the holiest site in Judaism.

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Quote of the week: Benjamin Anthony

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Thanks to Elder of Ziyon for this one:

Sgt. Anthony: Excuse me, the lady who’s Jewish—the lady who’s Jewish—and therefore uses her Judaism as validity for her opinion, could you please give me the title of last week’s Torah portion?

A complete report on Benjamin Anthony’s talk at Hampshire College with videos, showing the usual fascist disruptive tactics used by supporters of Palestinian Arab terrorism is here.

Shabbat shalom to all.

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US credibility drops like a rock

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

Despite the clear proof provided by recent events in the Arab world — Tunisia, Egypt, etc. — the obsessed believers in the linkage theory, the view that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs is the key to all the struggles and instability of the Middle East, continue to spout their nonsense. So General James Jones, President Obama’s former National Security Advisor, said it again this week, in Israel no less. At least as far as I know, Jones did not relate the quest for world peace to a ban on Jewish apartments in eastern Jerusalem.

But for sheer over the top stupidity in the service of blaming everything on Israel, NPR takes the cake (again). Here is what I woke up to on today’s “Morning Edition” news program:

Aaron David Miller: We’re neither admired, respected  or feared to the degree that we need to be in order to protect our interests. And the reality is that this is just another demonstration of it. Everybody in the region says no to America, without cause or consequence. Hamid Karzai says no, Maliki on occasion says no, Khamenei says no, Netanyahu says no, Mubarak has said no repeatedly.

Michele Kelemen [NPR reporter]: US credibility fell over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, analysts say, and again last year when Israel rejected calls for a building freeze in the occupied West Bank. [my italics]

What?

You are comparing two bungled wars and repeated major foreign policy disasters with this?

So “US credibility fell” because Israel chose not to agree to yet another pointless concession to the Palestinian Authority (PA) by extending the building freeze — after it had agreed to it and implemented it for the previous 10 months while the PA refused to negotiate?

In my opinion, “US credibility fell” when Obama stalled his own program by stupidly asking for a freeze in the first place, thus giving the PA an excuse to avoid negotiating for 10 months on the grounds that the freeze didn’t include Jerusalem.

Perhaps “US credibility fell” when the PA, which is financially propped up by US dollars and protected from Hamas by the IDF, refused to give Obama the satisfaction of even pointless negotiations after he extracted the 10-month freeze from Israel?

What do you think happened to US credibility when NATO member Turkey defected to the Iranian bloc? Or when Hizballah cemented its control over Lebanon? Does increased Iranian influence in South America do anything to US credibility?

And although nobody mentioned it, US credibility is dropping like a rock as Iran moves toward becoming a nuclear power.

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