Archive for April, 2012

Why Günter Grass should be persona non grata

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

I thought the Günter Grass issue was behind us yesterday, but it isn’t letting up. After Israel’s Interior Minister Eli Yishai announced that Grass would be persona non grata in Israel (on the basis of a law that, understandably, bars former Nazis), a number of voices were raised against the ban, while agreeing that Grass’ poem was obnoxious.

For example, Alan Dershowitz said,

Grass should be debated and defeated in the marketplace of ideas rather than banned from participating in face to face dialogue with Israeli intellectuals and political figures, who are perfectly capable of confronting him in the public arena of debate and dialogue, and even of literature. Israel need not fear poets or polemicists. It should certainly not use its security apparatus, which includes control over its borders, to exclude has-been octogenarian writers with whom it disagrees.

Salman Rushdie, the author with an Iranian death fatwa on his head, tweeted,

OK to dislike, even be disgusted by #GünterGrass poem, but to ban him is infantile pique, the answer to words must always be other words.

Jeffery Goldberg wrote,

With the decision to ban Grass, Israel changed the subject from his feculent poem … to a question of whether the Israeli government is opposed to the free exchange of ideas.

And the Los Angeles Times adds,

…by overreacting to Grass’ criticism, Israeli officials are acting like, well, Iranians.

All are missing the point. His freedom of expression is not being limited by the ban — he can say whatever he wants in Germany, or even Iran, or any other place — just not in Israel. And really, do we need “a free exchange of ideas” like these? Sometimes an accusation is so absurd that even refuting it gives it a status it doesn’t deserve.

Rather than pique, the decision — which as far as I know is purely symbolic, with Grass showing no desire to visit Israel — is an expression of a more important principle, that of Jewish sovereignty.

By shutting the door in Grass’ face, Israel is saying something like this:

We can’t prevent people like Grass from making vicious and hateful statements, but we don’t have to let them in our house.

Jews have been forced to listen to vicious libels and demonization from the mouths of those that hate them for hundreds of years, often trembling in fear at what they portend. Now we have our own house. Here we have the right — and the power — to demand respect.

We don’t have to take abuse, to pretend that disputation with antisemites is simply an “exchange of ideas.” We don’t have to defer to idiots like Grass, nor do we have to beg our powerful enemies to let us live.

Maybe we are a little touchy sometimes, but given our history it is understandable.

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Günter Grass: nothing to see here, folks

Monday, April 9th, 2012
Gunter Grass. Senile dementia and 'celebrity disease'.ë

Günter Grass. Senile dementia and 'celebrity disease'.

I wasn’t going to write about Günter Grass and his ugly poem.  Googling “Günter Grass poem Israel Iran” gets 789,000 hits. It has been covered from almost every imaginable angle. But I was asked my opinion, so I’ll make it short: what I think is that there isn’t much of a story here. A well-known personality enters his dotage. So what?

Grass doesn’t know who is doing what to whom. The proposition that Israel threatens Iran with a nuclear first strike is so impossible that only an idiot could believe it. Grass’ assertion of it tells us that he is completely disconnected from reality. Time to retire from public life and feed the pigeons in the Unter den Linden.

It’s a combination of senile dementia plus the “celebrity disease”: people tell them how intelligent and perceptive they are for so long that their inner editor shuts down, and popular prejudices and clichés bubble up and are emitted as if they were brilliant insights.

So Grass bravely stands up and says “what must be said” despite his certainty that he will be ‘punished’ with accusations of antisemitism. How courageous to join the anti-Israel chorus in a Europe already full to bursting with Israel-haters! Adding nobility to courage, he’s ready to accept the punishment if it will ‘free others from silence’. Pass the barf bag.

More interesting would be to study why younger people, who presumably still have some functioning brain cells, believe similar nonsense.

Just another ex-Nazi closing in on his reward. Nothing to see here folks, move on.

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Fight terrorism from the bottom up

Sunday, April 8th, 2012
Abu Musab al Suri -- the ideology is the enemy

Abu Musab al Suri -- the ideology is the enemy

The great humanitarian leader of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, recently released from prison Abu Musab al-Suri (real name: Mustafa bin Abd al-Qadir Sitt Maryam Nasar). Thought to be the planner behind the 2005 London subway bombings and the catastrophic train bombing in Spain the previous year, he was turned over to the CIA in Pakistan in 2005 (there was a $5M price on his head), and later transferred to Syria.

Perhaps they thought Assad could be trusted to hold this guy, a radical Sunni extremist who had been imprisoned in the 1990’s for trying to overthrow Bashar’s father. But Assad let him go, probably to punish the West for its (so far, minimal) support of Syrian rebels and as a warning not to intervene in his murder spree. And given evidence of Iranian involvement in the 9/11 attacks, it’s not far-fetched to think that perhaps the Iranian regime gave Assad a push in this direction as well.

Writing in the Wall St. Journal this weekend, David Samuels describes Nasar’s thinking:

What [Nasar] learned from the Afghan debacle and from al Qaeda’s subsequent defeat in Iraq was that jihadists were all but helpless in battle against modern Western armies. In place of old-fashioned hierarchical terror organizations, which had failed, he called for a global struggle in which shadowy motivators and facilitators would prompt jihadists to train and arm themselves in independent, self-generating terror cells that would target Western civilians. His goal: a relentless campaign of exemplary acts of violence under a single ideological banner, culminating in the use of weapons of mass destruction.

Nasar sharply criticized Bin Laden for maintaining a relatively centralized movement which could be (and was) effectively targeted by Western armies and technology.  He wrote a 1600-page book titled “The Call for a Global Islamic Resistance,” which appeared on the Internet, outlining his strategy.

“He is probably the first to spell out a doctrine for a decentralized global jihad,” said Brynjar Lia, a senior counterterrorism researcher at the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment, who is writing a book on Nasar. “In my humble opinion, he is the best theoretician among the jihadi ideologues and strategists out there. Nobody is as systematic and comprehensive in their analysis as he is. His brutal honesty and self-criticism is unique in jihadi circles.”

There’s no doubt that a guy like Nasar is hugely dangerous. And while he himself was certainly viewed as such by the US — although the decision to send him to Syria seems strange to me — I continue to believe that we are not taking the ideology of radical Islam seriously enough.

Our security apparatus (with notable exceptions, like the NYPD) focuses on card-carrying members of al-Qaeda, while failing to take seriously free-lance jihadists — often presented as ‘crazy’ — who are animated by radical Islamic ideology even if they lack direct connections to terror organizations: vicious murderers like Mohammed Merah, Nidal Hassan (the Fort Hood terrorist), or Naveed Haq, the Seattle Jewish Federation shooter.

Possibly those responsible do understand that democratic West is facing a massive challenge — the greatest since the Nazi and Soviet threats — but they have made a conscious decision to deal with it quietly. Maybe they think that clearly describing the threat as radical Islam in its multitude of incarnations would be counterproductive, because it would stir up too much backlash from the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims.

I don’t know exactly what they think. But it seems likely that the face of terrorism in the near future will be that of the Nasars and those that follow them, activated by means of the anonymous Internet.

The theory that we are primarily fighting al-Qaeda and similar organizations limits us in protecting ourselves from the kind of terrorism that will become all too familiar as centralized terror groups become more and more irrelevant. Today we are trying to preempt terrorism by cutting off its head. But what if there is no head?

Nasar wants to metastasize terrorism. His theory is to build the ideology and the violence will come, from the bottom up. Therefore, the best defense — as the NYPD understands — must also be from the bottom up: it’s necessary to seek out the ideology and those who are prepared to act on it at the lowest levels: mosques, student groups, etc.

What we need to do is exactly what the administration refuses to do: name the enemy, focus on ideology, and profile!

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Administration doesn’t get it about Zionism

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012

The Obama Administration continues to make the same mistake, over and over: it refuses to understand the importance of ideology as a cause of behavior. This is in part because of its own ideology: a naive leftism in which the only motivator of human behavior is economics or power relationships. This is combined with the fact that most of our elite is ignorant of history and not very interested in it.

For example, they do not seem to understand that it’s more important to the Palestinians to eliminate the Jewish state than to have a prosperous state of their own. More seriously in the long run, they don’t understand that Islamists will take their money, but cannot be bought.

The majority of Israeli Jews and their leadership have an ideology, too. It’s called Zionism, and it’s combined with a historical memory of the tenuous existence of the Jewish people. The administration doesn’t get these things either.

For example, Hillary Clinton said this yesterday:

It’s our very strong belief, as President Obama conveyed to the Israelis, that it is not in anyone’s interest for them to take unilateral action … The U.S. has worked very hard with Israel on all levels from the military, intelligence, strategic, and diplomatic to make sure we were sharing information … It is in everyone’s interest for us to seriously pursue at this time the diplomatic path.

Israel, of course, is worried that if it waits until its window of opportunity to preempt closes, and if US actions — either diplomatic or military — are not effective, then it is exposed to a nuclear attack at worst, or conventional war under a nuclear umbrella at best.

I think this fear is quite reasonable, but there is much more. What Ms Clinton is asking is that the Jewish people give up one of the primary tenets of Zionism: that we are responsible for our own defense.

The history of the Jewish people in the Diaspora has been that their fate was not in their own hands. In Christian Europe and in the Muslim nations of the Middle East and Africa, when the antisemites prepared a pogrom the far-outnumbered Jews would approach the local rulers and beg, or pay, to be spared. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. Sometimes entire populations were expelled, brutalized or murdered.

More recently, before and during the Holocaust, the allied nations did almost nothing to save the Jews of Europe. One of them, Britain, took actions that directly abetted the Nazis in their efforts to murder the Jews. Even after the war, Jewish refugees were kept in concentration camps.

Zionism is in part a response to this history, and teaches that the Jewish people cannot depend on the rest of the world to protect them. Israel has lived by this principle, rescuing  the Jewish refugees of WWII and saving countless Jews from the Arab world and Africa since then.

Israel has devoted enormous resources to developing a strong military capability. Unlike other nations, it hasn’t used its capability for conquest. The return of the economically and strategically valuable Sinai to Egypt in return for a peace agreement — arguably a mistake — is evidence of this.

Do Clinton or her boss really expect Israel to leave everything to them? Do they expect the Jewish people to go back to begging for its life? Do they expect Israel to give up the control of its own destiny, achieved with great difficulty and by enormous sacrifice, and become a protectorate of the US? Do they think Israel will give up Zionism?

I’m afraid the answers to the above are all ‘yes’, but it is clear that if Israel gives in to the pressure it will be the end of the Jewish state, whether Iran ultimately gets nuclear weapons or if Israel, with its Zionist heart ripped out, more slowly succumbs to the Muslim, leftist and antisemitic alliance that has never given up its struggle to end Jewish self-determination.

How, for example, will Israel resist pressure to make dangerous concessions to the Palestinians if its survival is entirely in American hands?

Israel still has leaders that know this, both in the government and in the opposition. They will not be swayed by the administration’s campaign against a preemptive strike.

The administration should understand that Israel is not going to knuckle under, and that therefore the best way for the US to be constructive is to ensure that Israel has the means to defend itself successfully instead of trying to sabotage it.

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Stealing Pesach

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012
Moses liberating Palestine by armed struggle

Moses liberating Palestine by armed struggle

You may have noticed that the Palestinian Arabs are doing their best to replace the Jewish people, not only on their land, but in history and tradition. So they claim that there was no Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, that Rachel’s tomb is and has always been a mosque, and that their ancestors are not mostly Arabs from Egypt and Syria who have been in the land of Israel for less than 200 years, but rather ancient Canaanites.

They great Palestinian ‘culture’ is too focused on hatred and death to be original, so their creativity is limited to turning facts upside down, as in the massive blood libel that the IDF deliberately kills Arab children, when in fact killing Jewish children is the specialty of Arab terrorists.

Now they are trying to steal Pesach. Thanks to Palestinian Media Watch, we have this snippet from Palestinian Authority TV, in which a lecturer at Palestinian ‘university’ (an-Najah, also called “Terrorism U” because of its suicide bomber alumni) explains that the Jewish heroes of the Bible were all Muslims, including Moses, who ‘liberated Palestine by armed struggle’:

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So either there were Muslims several thousand years before the birth of Mohammed, or this remarkable ‘scholar’ is talking about the ‘exodus’ that took place in the 19th and early 20th centuries when Arabs migrated to Palestine from Egypt and Syria to take advantage of the economic activity generated by the Zionists!

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