Response to Rob Eisen on Honor-Shame in Jewish Culture

Rob Eisen, who teaches Jewish Studies at Georgetown University writes the following on my exchange with Paul Scham, of which Paul posted his response at his blog. My responses folded into his More »

Tablet Exchange on Honor-Shame with Paul Scham: Unabridged Version

My friend Paul Scham, who’s on the National Advisory Board of J-Street and teaches about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict at University of Maryland, as well as one of the editors of Israel Studies Review, read More »

Ya’ni culture and the problem of “lying” in honor-shame societies

My friend Matt Wanderman writes: I remember you’ve talked about how Arab leaders don’t see something wrong with lying to Western media outlets. I was reading שומרי הסף and came across an More »

BDS: DOA vs. Sea Change in Favor

Parallel universes (or a lot happened in two days): BDS Is DOA JULY 22, 2014 4:53 PM The movement to boycott, divest and sanction Israel isn’t selling. vs. Shift in opinion over More »

Desperation or Aspiration: Response to someone from a Facebook Discussion

As so many others, I have been involved in a facebook conversation with people highly critical of Israel’s behavior. In particular, I’ve exchanged a number of comments with someone. Given the problems More »

Response to Rob Eisen on Honor-Shame in Jewish Culture

Rob Eisen, who teaches Jewish Studies at Georgetown University writes the following on my exchange with Paul Scham, of which Paul posted his response at his blog. My responses folded into his comments.

The honor-shame dynamic varies in content and intensity with different cultures, but it’s in EVERY culture because it’s a basic element of human psychology. There’s lots to say about this from the standpoint of evolutionary biology, something Landes just isn’t sensitive to.

I’m not sure what makes you think I’m not sensitive to this, when I actually explicitly make the point at the beginning of the essay to which Paul responds. (I’ve just realized that Paul did not post my response to him, nor did he link to the original article to which he was responding, so unless you exercised more than due diligence, you only know what I think through the mirror of Paul’s response.) But thank you for the opportunity to clarify.

The Gruesome and the Grotesque: Gaza Hospitals, Hamas, and Western Useful Infidels

The Times of London, not normally a paper that favors Israel has a great political cartoon out:

Brookes, Gaza Hospital Cartoon

In part, it’s a response (finally) to a piece by a Palestinian French journalist who was interrogated by Hamas thugs inside Shiffa Hospital in Gaza City. The article, which was published by the French (very anti-Israeli) newspaper Liberation, has since been removed by the request of the author who apparently fears for his safety as long as it’s up. The Tablet has a copy of the article up. Elder of Zion published a translation, further discussed at the Algemeiner.

Hamas has threatened journalists not just for articles, but for tweets. One cannot underestimate the role of intimidation in shaping the news we read and hear. If one looks at the role that ideological advocacy plays among lethal journalists and their colleagues who tag along, it corresponds exactly to what one would expect from journalists for whom fear of Palestinian retaliation for publishing the truth about them, is only matched by lack of Israeli retaliation for telling lies of Israel.

The Times of London also published an excellent op-ed by Richard Kemp, British colonel who served with NATO forces in Afghanistan and has the nerve to call the Israeli army the most moral (by far) in the world.

Palestinian rockets are like the Nazi V1s. Civilian casualties were inevitable then and now

‘The Israelis are doing it all wrong. The RAF didn’t fly off to bomb Belfast in the troubles.” These words from a respected media commentator embody the extraordinary lack of understanding by so many in this country who think the Israelis’ fight with Hamas is like ours with the IRA and can be dealt with in the same way.

Lethal Journalism and the Muslim Street in Europe: “Death to Jews” in The Hague

I have long argued that there’s a direct relationship between lethal journalism about Israel and the rise of an aggressive Muslim Street in Europe (and the rest of the West). This round of fighting, better than anything, illustrates the point… so much that one might hope that Europeans are waking up.  This incident in The Hague (Holland), unfortunately, suggests that the Dutch are still struggling with reality, both moral and empirical.

FROM A DUTCH CORRESPONDENT (H/T Eugene Kontorovich)

Dear Eugene,

Yesterday evening, this happened in The Hague, the “international city of peace and justice”.

Hear the Muslim mobs shout “Death to the Jews” (“Al mawt al Yahud”); make references to the genocide of Khaibar and shout “Those who do not jump are Jews” (with all Muslims  present jumping):

This morning, the public prosecutors office issued a press release which understates the size of the demonstration (only 40-50 people — journalists counted over a hundred ‘activists’ and several hundred chearing bystanders).

The press release further states: “The police was present at the demonstration with an Arabic speaking police officer. The slogans overheard by this police officer were, at that moment, not considered as crossing boundaries. Hence, no arrest have been made.”

You can use google translate to get  you an English version.

Apparently, the Muslim police officer lied about what he heard.

And also the Mayor  of The Hague declared that no boundaries have been crossed.

This is unbelievable and totally unacceptable.

This calls for an international scandal. Please spread this message.

Done and to be done.

Tablet Exchange on Honor-Shame with Paul Scham: Unabridged Version

My friend Paul Scham, who’s on the National Advisory Board of J-Street and teaches about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict at University of Maryland, as well as one of the editors of Israel Studies Review, read my piece on Honor-Shame and the Arab-Israeli conflict in the Tablet and wrote a response, to which I wrote a response, which the Tablet, after considerable editing, has published. Both Paul and I are publishing the unedited versions of our work on our blogs, so that the five zealots who want to follow every detailed turn of our discussion can do so at their leisure. Comments welcome.

Honor and Shame are not the Problem:  A Reply to Richard Landes

By Paul Scham[1]

Richard Landes’s article on the honor-shame problem is erudite, articulate, and stimulating.  It is also largely irrelevant to understanding most of the Arab world today.  Such broad sweeps of historical generalization are titillating to historians and others but do not take account of the immense variation within the Arab and Muslim worlds and the fact that fundamental changes have occurred and are occurring within the last few decades, to say nothing of the last century.  Relying on a strict cultural determinism, as Landes does, is a disservice to understanding these dynamics.

Hamas’ Priorities: Hatred and Revenge Uber Alles

 The tunnels to Israel have only one purpose: kill Israelis. This give new meaning to bloodlust.

 

Tunnel-vs-stuff5

Hamas’ Dead Baby War Strategy

A number of writers have recently written on what is now widely evident, that Hamas is pursuing a war strategy that depends critically on maximizing their own civilian casualties: the more, the more gruesome, the better. I append to this post a bibliography of essays identifying and analyzing this strategy.

Hamas’ strategy works like this:

  1. Cyclically attack your enemy’s civilians in such as way as to provoke a violent retaliation.
  2. Hide behind civilians (neighborhoods, schools, hospitals) so that the retaliation does your civilians the maximal damage.
  3. Produce an industry of lethal narratives portraying Israel as ruthless murderers of civilians (a projection of Hamas tactics and desires).
  4. Have these lethal narratives circulated by journalists as news, so that international opinion rises up against Israel.
  5. Survive until that international outrage forces the Israelis to pull back and save you.
  6. Repeat, with each reiteration making Israel weaker on the military battlefield and more isolated in the global community.

Given how merciless and self-destructive this strategy, it has proven surprisingly effective. As Jeremy Bowen explains, each round is a race in time between the moments the Israelis strike (back) and the time an incensed international community intervenes decisively to stop the “humanitarian crisis.”

And as Christiane Amanpour puts it to Tony Blair, the more the casualties mount, the less time Israel has:


 

And thus, we find the same self-destructive and murderous “cycle of violence” in which Hamas targets both Israeli and Palestinian civilians, playing out once again, with ominous consequences both for those in conflict, Palestinians and Israelis, and also for the global community, which increasingly discovers that every round of local violence here provokes greater violence and hatred around the world.

This cannibalistic strategy depends heavily on the world’s news media – the outsider “information professionals” – playing a critical, dual role: on the one hand playing up the suffering the the maximum. No other conflict in the world gets the attention that this one does, despite how much bloodier and more tragic they may be.

media vs casualty footprint

 

But the terribly suffering alone will not suffice. If the world blamed Hamas for that suffering, their war strategy would backfire and they would lose decisively, both in the kinetic war (military battlefied) and the cognitive one. The information professionals’ second and equally crucial task is to blame Israel for the violence. Without that, no world outrage against them, no intervention on Hamas’ side, no next round.

The question then is, why would the Western media, which by all markers considers itself progressive, play so critical a role in so destructive and belligerent a war strategy? Otherwise put, why do the Palestinians have “friends” – the information professionals – journalists, academics, NGOs, activists – who consistently strengthen their predatory elites?

Notes Oren at the end of his piece:

Just as Israel must relentlessly scrutinize its military actions in Gaza and their consequences, so, too, must journalists take a hard look at the way they cover this conflict. They must not allow themselves to act as accessories to Hamas’s murderous strategy that delegitimizes Israel and prolongs the Palestinians’ suffering.

Nu? When already?

Alan Dershowitz, “Hamas’ dead baby strategy,” Washington Times, January 16, 2009.

Richard Landes, “Waging Cognitive War – Exposing Hamas’ Cannibalistic Strategy,” PJMedia, November 18, 2012

Michael Oren, “Hamas strategy relies on deaths of civilians,” CNN, July 21, 2014

Pierre Rehov, “The Terrorists’ Reality Show Who Has the “More Romantic Story”?,” Gatestone Institute, July 22, 2014

Yair Lapid, “Gaza conflict: Hamas chooses to let children die for its own crazy ends,” Daily Telegraph, June 23, 2014

Any suggestions for further inclusions are most welcome.

Ya’ni culture and the problem of “lying” in honor-shame societies

My friend Matt Wanderman writes:

I remember you’ve talked about how Arab leaders don’t see something wrong with lying to Western media outlets. I was reading שומרי הסף and came across an interesting comment by Avi Dichter (former head of Shabak) on the phenomenon: בלא מעט מפגשים, כולל עם קולין פאוול שהיה מזכיר המדינה, ואחריו קונדוליסה רייס שהחליפה אותו, תמיד אמרתי להם: “אנחנו לא מוכנים לסבול יותר את תרבות ה’יעני’ של הפלסטינים.” ואז אמרו לי: “מה זה תרבות ה’יעני’?” אמרתי להם: “‘יעני’ זו מילת מפתח בערבית.” ואני אדגים לך אותה באמצעות סיפור אמיתי. בבית לחם היה מחבל, רב-מחבלים, בשן עטאף עבייאת שעמד מאחורי ירי המרגמות לעבר שכונת גילה בירושלים בשנת 2001. בשלב מסוים נשיא ארצות הברית בוש ויאסר ערפאת עסקו בשם עטאף עבייאת. תאר לעצמך – נשיא ארצות הברית דרש מיאסר ערפאת להכניס את עאטף עבייאת לכלא, ויאסר ערפאת התחייב שהוא יעצור את עאטף עבייאת ויכניס אותו לכלא. כי ישראל איימה שאם זה לא יקרה היא תיכנס לבית לחם כדי לפגוע בו. אחרי זה שמעון פרס שהיה שר החוץ הזעיק אותי לפגישה בירושלים עם אבו-עלא, שהיה יושב ראש המועצה המחוקקת שלהם, עם ג’יבריל רג’וב שהיה ראש השב”כ הפלסטיני ביהודה ושומרון, ועם סאיב עריקאת שהיה העוזר של יאסר ערפאת. ואז אני נכנס לחדר ויושבים שלושתם מול שמעון פרס, ושמעון פרס אומר לי: “אבי, הם אומרים שעאטף עבייאת בכלא.” ידעתי שזה קשקוש כי הוא היה בדיוק באיזה מבצע הכנו אז. אני אומר: “שמע, אדוני שר החוץ, אני צקווה שאתה לא מקבל את הדברים האלה.” אז הוא אומר לאבו-עלא: “אבו עלא, please tell him.” ועברנו לערבית כי באנגלית קשה מאוד לסכל טרור. ואז אבו-עלא אומר לי: “אבי, אני אומר לך, האיש עצור. האיש בכלא.” אני אומר לא: “אבו-עלא, אני מצטער, האיש לא בכלא.” ואז מהר מאוד ראית שהוא לא חזק בגרסה, הוא מסתכל על סאיב עריקאת ואומר לו: “סאיב, מיש היכ? (לא כך?)” סאיב עריקאת, האמן לי, אין לו מושג מי זה עאטף עבייאת, אין לו מושג מה בכלל קורה סביב הנושא הזה, אבל ניד הוא שולף מהמותן ואומר – “definitely” – ברור לחלוטין שהוא בכלא. ואז שניהם מסתכלים על ג’יבריל רג’וב ואומרים לו: “ג’יבריל, הוא בכלא, נכון?” עכשיו ג’יבריל יודע שאם יש מישהו שיכול לעצור את עטאף עבייאת זה רק הוא. והוא במלכוד. כי ג’יבריל יודע שהאיש לא בכלא. מעבר לזה, הוא יודע שאני יודע שהאיש לא בכלא, והכי גרוע, הוא יודע שאני יודע שהוא יודע שהאיש לא בכלא… ואז לוחצים, אומרים לו: “ג’יבריל, הלוא כן?” הוא בכלא, נכון?” ואז הוא אומר: “יעני…” עכשיו “יעהי” זה הוא בכלא, “יעני” זה הוא לא בכלא, ו”יעני” זה איפה שאתה רק רוצה… יום אחד היתה משלחת מארצות הברית אצלי וסיפרתי להם את הסיפור. בסוף שאלתי אותם: “הבנתם את המשמעות של המילה?” אז הם הסתכלו אחד על השני ואחד אומר – “יעני…” אמרתי: “אז הבנתם.” תרבות ה”יעני” היא אם כל חטאת במערכת היחסים שלנו עם הפלסטינים באותה התקופה. (דרור מורה, “שומרי הסף,” 2014, pg 259-60)

Matt’s quick translation:

In a number of meetings, including with Colin Powell, who was the Secretary of State, and after him Condoleeza Rice, who switched him, I always told them, “We aren’t willing to suffer any more of the Palestinians’ ‘ya’ni’ culture.” They replied, “What’s ‘ya’eni’ culture?” I told them, “‘Ya’ni’ is a keyword in Arabic.” And I’ll give you an example from a true story.

In Bethlehem there was a terrorist, an arch-terrorist, by the name of Ataf Abayat, who was behind the mortars fired at the Gilo neighborhood in Jerusalem in 2001. At a certain stage President Bush demanded that Yassir Arafat put Ataf Abayat in jail, and Yassir Arafat agreed to arrest him and to put him in jail, because Israel threatened that to enter Bethlehem if he didn’t.

After this Shimon Peres, who was the Foreign Minister, summoned me to a meeting in Jerusalem with Abu-Aleh, who was the head of their legal committee, with Jibril Rejub, who was the head of Palestinian interior security in the West Bank, and with Saib Erekat, who was Yassir Arafat’s assistant. I entered the room and the three were sitting across from Shimon Peres, and Shimon Peres told me, “Avi, they say that Ataf Abayat is in jail.” I knew that it’s not true because he was just in an operation that had been planned. I said, “Listen Mr. Foreign Minister, I hope that you don’t believe this.” Then he said to Abu-Aleh, “Abu-Aleh, please tell him.”

And we switched to Arabic because it’s very hard to stop terror in English. Abu-Aleh said to me, “Avi, I’m telling you, the man is under arrest. He’s in jail.” I told him, “Abu-Aleh, I’m sorry, the man is not in jail.” And very quickly you could see that he wasn’t certain of his version, he looked to Saib Erekat and said to him, “Saib, mish hech? (is it not so?)” Saib Erekat, believe me, has no idea who this Ataf Abayat is, has no idea what’s going on at all with this topic, but immediately responds, “definitely” – of course he’s in jail. And then both of them look at Jibril Rajub and say, “Jibril, he’s in jail, right?”

Now Jibril knows that if someone can arrest Ataf Abayat, it’s only him. And he’s trapped. Because Jibril knows that the man isn’t in jail. Beyond that, he knows that I know that he’s not in jail. And worst of all, he knows that I know that he knows that he’s not in jail… And they press him and say, “Jibril, is it not right? He’s in jail, right?” And he says, “Ya’ni…” Now “ya’ni” means he’s in jail, “ya’ni” means he’s not in jail, and “ya’ni” means whatever you want.

One day a delegation from America was with me and I told them this story. At the end I asked them, “Did you understand the meaning of the word?” They looked at each other and one said, “ya’ni…” I said, “Then you understood.” The “ya’ni” culture was the mother of all misunderstandings in the our relationship with the Palestinians during that period.

If it sounds like one of R.D.Laing’s Knots, it’s because it is one of them. And the way out is not to say, “whatever.”

BDS: DOA vs. Sea Change in Favor

Parallel universes (or a lot happened in two days):

BDS Is DOA

JULY 22, 2014 4:53 PM

The movement to boycott, divest and sanction Israel isn’t selling.

vs.

24 JULY 2014

The academic boycott of Israel (“Unity amid divisions”, Features, 17 July) is a boycott of institutions not individuals, and there has been a tidal shift of opinion in favour of a boycott – this week, a fourth US academic association voted to support it.

 

Desperation or Aspiration: Response to someone from a Facebook Discussion

As so many others, I have been involved in a facebook conversation with people highly critical of Israel’s behavior. In particular, I’ve exchanged a number of comments with someone. Given the problems of responding on facebook (hit the return and it’s over), I’ve decided to answer to a long and thoughtful comment he made here at my blog. I welcome his responses.

I totally agree. Hamas is trying to gain western sympathy through higher body counts. 

If only Israel seemed in any way interested in lifting the blockade that puts Hamas in such a position where they feel they need our sympathy.

You are aware that every time Israel lets in anything that can be turned against her, Hamas will do that, yes? The international community and the NGOs and the UNRWA assured Israel that the tons of cement they allowed in would be used for building structures for the sake of Gazans, and they were instead put in tunnels to Israel whose only function was to kill Israelis by the thousands.

Shavit on this sad war story

Ari Shavit has a good piece of analysis up at Ha-aretz. For those who are mesmerized by statistics (often cooked), it’s worth a read. While it’s so easy for Hamas (and Fatah) to say, “my side right or wrong,” it’s really hard for Israelis to say “this time we’re right” even when we are.

In this sad war story, Israel is in the right

Those who are even slightly forgiving of Hamas are cooperating with a fanatically religious tyrannical dictator. Hamas are Palestinian neo-Nazis.

When the fighting ends, they’ll start to ask difficult questions. Did Israel do everything in its power to utilize the many years of relative calm to advance the peace process? Was the United States careful not to leave a vacuum in place when the Kerry initiative failed? Did Israel’s security establishment accurately estimate the raw threat presented by Hamas, and the possibility that it would resort to conflict? Did Israeli society provide the Israel Defense Forces with the backing that it needed in order to sufficiently prepare for war? Did the bug of political correctness drive the far-left crazy? Did the blood and suffering of the last few weeks make Israeli democracy closed-minded and intolerant?

When the time comes, all of these questions will require not-so-simple answers.

But now, as soldiers are being attacked from all directions, there are other, more basic questions that must be asked. Who are we fighting? What are we fighting for, and are we justified?

Who are we fighting? A fascist organization that terrorizes the people of Gaza, oppresses women and gays, and shuns all democratic values of freedom and progress.

Arab Moral Madness and Hamas’ Assault on Israel

If you want to glimpse an understanding of the gap between Western and Arab cultures, and why Hamas continues to bomb Israel even though its people are suffering so, consider the following.

In 2009, during Operation Cast Lead, a BBC reporter asked the Arab League’s ambassador to the UN (probably didn’t know there was such a thing), why, if Israel says it will stop if Hamas does, and you are so concerned for the casualties among Gazans, Hamas doesn’t just stop firing:

Sort of the opposite of what one might expect. To understand why, a recent speech by a Kuwaiti cleric. In the words of Elihu Stone (H/T), a one stop shopping site for everything from suicidal Arab honor-shame to the moral gulf that divides us.

Samuel LAURENT : “Les djihadistes prêts à frapper la France” et le desarroi des intelos

Samuel Laurent parle des réseaux djihadistes en France, et l’apport de mujahideen revenants de Syrie en Europe par les milliers…

Est-ce que cette fois ci, lors d’une operation du Tsahal à Gaza, que les européens commencent à se reveiller au sujet du lien entre leurs journalistes meurtiers et la djihade qui se deroulent à l’intérieur de leurs propres sociétés?

MISE-A-JOUR

Liberation, journal de gauche, publia sur les manifs illégaux un article anonyme qui illustre bien la partie-prise des “professionels de l’information” aux côtes des djihadis, avec tous les distortions morales et empirique qui en suivent.  Illustration de la faillite de l’intelligentsia européenne au début du 21e siècle.

http://www.liberation.fr/societe/2014/07/21/j-etais-a-la-manifestation-pour-gaza-samedi-19-juillet-a-paris_1067663

Lise Haddad, Présidente du Mouvement pour la paix contre le terrorisme ( MPCT)” envoya la lettre suivante en réponse. 

“Quand  au lendemain de  la commémoration de la rafle du Vel d’hiv, des synagogues sont brûlées  ainsi que des magasins juifs et des” voitures de Juifs” dans une banlieue parisienne, il me semble extrêmement grave qu’un journal aille encore semer la haine et faire flamber les tensions.  Voilà pourquoi je décide de répondre à cet article d’un courageux anonyme au pseudo d’Horace Benatier qui étale ses titres académiques mais  cache son identité pour s’extasier devant l’organisation de cette manifestation interdite, samedi 19 juillet.

Il parle de “désobéissance civile” à propos du maintien d’une manifestation  pro palestinienne interdite sans considérer que cette interdiction intervient après une  première manifestation sur le même thème  dans laquelle avaient été tolérés les cris de  “Mort aux Juifs” à Paris et de “nous sommes tous des Mohamed Merah” à Nice avec une première synagogue attaquée rue de la Roquette, des Juifs molestés.

Pendant la manifestation interdite de si haute tenue morale, des slogans antisémites n’ont pas seulement été criés en marge de la manifestation, mais bien au coeur de celle-ci, et  le fait de le nier  constitue une forme de négationnisme contemporain. Que les curieux aillent se renseigner sur les témoignages tweeter des riverains qui  effarés, ont  filmé ces images d’un autre temps.  Une de mes proches, habitant à 100 mètres de la manifestation, a entendu ces cris de haine et a craint pour sa propre intégrité.  Quelle douceur, quelle dignité!

Je retiens de la part d’un “haut fonctionnaire” et “maître de conférence”, cette formule: “La manifestation fut un succès [...] Par la dignité et la justesse verbale («Israël assassin, Hollande complice»)” dont ces manifestants ont fait preuve “. Quelle dignité et quelle retenue dans le fait de traiter en hurlant un pays “d’assassin” et le chef de l’Etat français de complice d’assassinat! Sur quels critères juridiques précis? Mystère. Monsieur l’enseignant masqué s’emballe dans un élan lyrique.

Quelle incitation à la  douceur et à la retenue! Il est vrai que Netanyahu aurait eu l’heur de plaire à cet Horace bien peu cornélien en laissant s’abattre des centaines de missiles sur tout son territoire, sur ses aéroports, hôpitaux, écoles, maisons,  faisant ainsi des milliers de morts israéliens mais  la stratégie cynique et visiblement efficace au plan  médiatique du bouclier humain prisée par le Hamas (organisation terroriste selon les critères internationaux) ne semble pas correspondre à la mentalité israélienne.

Les populations civiles palestiniennes sont prévenues  à l’avance par l’armée israélienne des bombardements en retour des tirs de roquettes et seul le Hamas les  incite à rester pour servir de martyres, c’est aussi le Hamas qui refuse d’accorder ou de respecter les trêves ou le cessez le feu. Si cet Horace crypté voyait des criminels  creuser un tunnel  jusqu’à son domicile pour effectuer des enlèvements ou pour  le tuer avec sa famille , sans doute  les accueillerait- il chez  lui et mourrait-il avec grâce, retenue, dignité. Sans doute croit-il que condamner les populations palestiniennes à vivre sous la tyrannie d’organisations terroristes et fanatiques est la marque de sa grande âme et qu’encourager les Mohamed Merah formés en  Syrie à venir massacrer des  enfants juifs dans leur école en France et des soldats musulmans ou  pas pendant leur permission constitue un acte de bravoure démocratique et de désobéissance civile.

Les jeunes casseurs de  banlieue sont nourris de haine contre les Sionistes, une haine semée par les islamistes et entretenue par les bonnes âmes sensibles qui défilent dans les rues aux côtés de gens éructant des “morts aux Juifs”, ils sont abreuvés  de haine contre les Juifs sous le fumeux  prétexte  qu’ils  soutiennent Israël, ils se déchainent  contre les commissariats de police qui essaient de faire respecter les valeurs démocratiques et qui représentent la force de protection de  l’Etat français “complice d’un Etat assassin” d’après monsieur Horace Benatier, ils les  attaquent donc à coup de pierres (intifada à la française), de barres de fer voire d’obus de  mortiers comme à Argenteuil.

Le mystère reste  qu’en pleine crise de la société civile, de bonnes âmes éduquées puissent penser ainsi et que Libération publie de tels articles.

Lise Haddad

 

Facebook Analysis of Arab-Israeli Conflict: It’s like, umm, if like… whatever.

Pamela Olson reported on facebook (at Gershom Baskin’s page) the following remark (which, judging by her page, she fully approves of):

“As a couple of people said on my comment thread lately: The entire presence of Israel is a bit like if I went to the house I grew up in (but haven’t lived in for 25 years) and said that it was my house now and the people currently living there (some distant relatives of mine) have to live in the closet. And I’ll beat the shit out of them if they try to come into the main part of the house or protest the whole situation in any meaningful way. What is worse is that it has been thousands of years and the current Palestinians are likely the offspring of the same people who were the original Jews who at some point converted to Christianity or Islam (or Communism or atheism or Buddhism or whatever).”

Let’s take it statement by statement, and construct an appropriate analogy:

“As a couple of people said on my comment thread lately: The entire presence of Israel is a bit like if I went to the house I grew up in (but haven’t lived in for 25 years) and said that it was my house now and the people currently living there (some distant relatives of mine) have to live in the closet.

H/T Walter Sobchak: Its more like we were expelled from the house by a gang of bikers, they were succeeded by a gang of drug dealers, and they in turn got pushed out by the mafia, who let a bunch of their low life cousins live there.

From the Romans to the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Ottomans, and the British — There were no legitimate peaceful transfers by bequest or purchase. Every transfer was by conquest. The Palestinian Arabs were subjects of the Ottomans and were treated by the Ottomans as lowly peasants (fellahin).

It is a maxim of the law that you cannot take good title from a thief. The Arab peasants could not take good title from any of the conquerors.

Jews lived in the closet or basement of that house, even though it was theirs, for all those long years, being pushed aside by imperialist aggressors, the last of whom was the distant relatives, who ran the place down into a deserted wreck.

When the Jews came to move back in, they rebuilt the place with plenty of room for everyone, including the distant relatives, whose families flocked to move in so they could share in the improved conditions. If in 1900 the place could only house under a million, the same area now houses 10 million.

And I’ll beat the shit out of them if they try to come into the main part of the house or protest the whole situation in any meaningful way.

And if they are willing to play by the rules that make this house liveable to so many, then they’re welcome, but if they come in with their old imperialist games of “we have to run the show or we’ll burn the place down,” then we will make it most unpleasant for them.

What is worse is that it has been thousands of years and the current Palestinians are likely the offspring of the same people who were the original Jews who at some point converted to Christianity or Islam (or Communism or atheism or Buddhism or whatever).”

What is worse is that it has been over a thousand years, and the current Palestinians are the offspring of the imperialist Muslims who came in and conquered the area in the early 7th century, and made life miserable for anyone who didn’t join their imperialist religion (or whatever). And they continue to pursue these unbelievably primitive and regressive attitudes to the detriment of everyone.

And what’s even worse is that people on the outside who think they’re being “fair,” but who don’t have a clue about the history, don’t hesitate to make up silly and hostile analogies that show as profound a lack of understanding, as Arabs political culture shows a lack of affinity for democracy.

I’m sorry, did I offend you? Like, whatever.

Tablet Article: Arab World’s Emotional Nakba

Why the Arab World Is Lost in an Emotional Nakba, and How We Keep It There

By ignoring the honor-shame dynamic in Arab political culture, is the West keeping itself from making headway toward peace?

By Richard Landes | June 24, 2014 12:00 AM|Comments: 43

A Palestinian protester aims sparks from a flare toward Israeli security forces during clashes near the Israeli checkpoint in Hebron on Feb. 25, 2013. (Hazem Bader/AFP/Getty Images)
Anthropologists and legal historians have long identified certain tribal cultures—warrior, nomadic—with a specific set of honor codes whose violation brings debilitating shame. The individual who fails to take revenge on the killer of a clansman brings shame upon himself (makes him a woman) and weakens his clan, inviting more open aggression. In World War II, the United States sought the help of anthropologists like Ruth Benedict to explain the play of honor and shame in driving Japanese military behavior, resulting in both intelligence victories in the Pacific Theater and her book The Chrysanthemum and the Sword. Taking her lead, the great classicist E.R. Dodds analyzed the millennium-long shift in Greek culture from a “shame” culture to a “guilt” culture in his Greeks and the Irrational, where he contrasted a world in which fame and reputation, rather than conscience and fear of divine retribution, drive men to act.
But even before literary critic Edward Saïd heaped scorn on “honor-shame” analysis inOrientalism (1978), anthropologists had backed off an approach that seemed to make inherently invidious comparisons between primitive cultures and a morally superior West. The reception of Saïd’s work strengthened this cultural relativism: Concerns for honor and shame drive everyone, and the simplistic antinomy “shame-guilt cultures” must be ultimately “racist.” It became, well, shameful in academic circles to mention honor/shame and especially in the context of comparisons between the Arab world and the West. Even in intelligence services, whose job is to think like the enemy, refusing to resort to honor/shame dynamics became standard procedure.
Any generous person should have a healthy discomfort with “othering,” drawing sharp lines between two peoples. We muddy the boundaries to be minimally polite: Honor-killings, for example, are thus seen as a form of domestic violence, which is also pervasive in the West. And indeed, honor/shame concerns are universal: Only saints and sociopaths don’t care what others think, and no group coheres without an honor code.
But even if these practices exist everywhere, we should still be able to acknowledge that in some cultures the dominant voices openly promote honor/shame values and in a way that militates against liberal society and progress. Arab political culture, to take one example—despite some liberal voices, despite noble dissidents—tends to favor ascendancy through aggression, the politics of the strong horse,” and the application of “Hama rules”—which all combine to produce a Middle East caught between prison and anarchy, between Sisi’s Egypt and al-Assad’s Syria. Our inability, however well-meaning, to discuss the role of honor-shame dynamics in the making of this political culture poses a dilemma: By keeping silent, we not only operate in denial, but we may actually strengthen these brutal values and weaken the very ones we treasure.
Few conflicts offer a better place to explore these matters than the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The Media. If only…

H/T Ed Driscoll

 

See also, Roger Simon, IRS: Shame and Loathing on the Media Trail”

Table ronde à Jérusalem: Pourquoi le processus de paix échoue, voire nous éclate à la figure?

 Le mardi 24 juin, de 19h à 22h, à Yad Ben Zvi, 12 rue Abarbanel, Rechavia, Jérusalem.

Pourquoi le processus de paix échoue, voire nous éclate à la figure?

Répercussions des dynamiques d’honneur et de honte sur les relations israélo-arabes

Scholars for Peace in the Middle East présente une table ronde avec des experts internationaux au sujet des questions d’honneur et de honte dans la culture arabe, et du rôle de ces dynamiques dans l’échec perpétuel, voire explosif, des efforts pour arriver à la paix. A cause du “politiquement correct” qui considère de telles discussions forcément racistes, ces dynamiques élémentaires ne sont que rarement discutées. Les participants vont explorer comment, à partir d’une analyse de ces dynamiques, on pourrait améliorer les relations entre Israël et le monde arabe. 

Participants:

Prof. Lucien Oulahbib, Université de Lyon

Jean-Pierre Lledo, cinéaste algéro-israélien

Dr.Harold Rhode, Gatestone Institute, ancien du State Department

Bassem Eid, Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group

Dr. Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin, psychoanalyste, Fellow, American Center for Democracy

Prof. Mordechai Kedar, Université Bar Ilan

 

Médiateur: Prof. Richard Landes, Boston University

Le mardi 24 juin, de 19h à 22h,

à Yad Ben Zvi, 12 rue Abarbanel, Rechavia, Jérusalem.

Une traduction simultanée anglais/français sera mise en place.

Le public pourra poser ses questions aux participants.

Pendant la pause, des rafraîchissements seront offerts.

Inscriptions et informations supplémentaires :
Dr. Jan Sokolovsky, janavram@netvision.net.il ou 0547-466-383.

Tous les bienvenus.

Why “Peace Plans” Backfire: How Honor-Shame Dynamics Affect Arab-Israeli Relations

Why “Peace Plans” Backfire

How Honor-Shame Dynamics Affect Arab-Israeli Relations

Scholars for Peace in the Middle East presents a panel discussion by international experts on the cultural issues of (gaining) honor and (avoiding) shame in the Arab society, and the role those cultural dynamics play in the current failure, even backfiring, of the “peace-process.” Since the politically correct consider such cultural discussions “racist,”, these critical dynamics rarely get discussed. Panelists will explore some of the ways that, by taking them into account, we can think effectively and creatively about how to improve relations between Israel and her neighbors.

 Tuesday evening, June 24, 7-10 PM,

Yad Ben Zvi, Abarbanel 12, Rechavia, Jerusalem.

Panelists:

Prof. Lucien Oulahbib, University of Lyon (French)

Dr.Harold Rhode, Gatestone Institute, formerly US State Department

Bassem Eid, Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group

Dr. Nancy Hartevelt Kobrin, psychoanalyst, Fellow American Center for Democracy

Jean-Pierre Lledo, Algerian-Israeli film maker (French)

Prof. Mordechai Kedar, Bar Ilan University

Chair: Prof. Richard Landes, Boston University

There will be simultaneous translation between English and French, opportunity for questions from the audience, light refreshments.

For registration and information, contact Dr. Jan Sokolovsky  janavram@netvision.net.il or 0547-466-383

 

The Soft Underbelly of the West: A Brief Introduction to Jihadi Cognitive Warfare in the 21st Century

I recently attended a meeting where I was asked to speak briefly about cognitive warfare. Here are the remarks I prepared.

Cognitive War’s goal is to convince a more powerful enemy not to use its superior force, but rather to surrender without a fight. Most often this is a defensive war: like the Maccabees, get the enemy to leave. Advanced modern democracies, however, both immensely powerful on the battlefield and immensely vulnerable in their public sphere, have created conditions favorable to a new phenomenon: invasions by weaker military powers who seek to convince the enemy to surrender on its own turf.

None of these invasive insurgencies has had a greater and more unanticipated success than global Jihad, whose goal is to submit the entire world to Dar al Islam. The audacity of this idea, that Islam could conquer the West, that the Queen of England would wear a burkah and the green flag of Islam would fly from the White House, that Jihadis could bully and manipulate the West into surrendering to their demands for Muslim dominion, struck most Westerners as ludicrous, a bad joke at best.

And certainly, if one looked at the situation in later 20th century, such a dream seemed impossible to all but the most committed millenarian fanatic. Indeed, if we imagine the mindset of someone with such outrageous hope – that the entire world will either convert or bend the knee to Islam – he might have prayed as follows at the approach of 2000 (a Muslim apocalyptic date):

Oh Allah, the all-merciful, give us enemies who…

  • …help us to disguise our ambitions and acts of war, blinding themselves to our deployment targeting them.
  • …accept those of us who fight with da’wah (cogwar) as “moderates” who have nothing to do with the violent “extremists.”
  • …chose these false “moderates” as advisors and consultants in intelligence and police services, and as community liaison.
  • …attack anyone, including Muslims and ex-Muslims, who criticize Islam.
  • …believe that Islam is a “Religion of Peace,”
  • …teach themselves a version of Islam where they don’t even know about Dar al Islam and Dar al Harb.
  • … treat anyone who warns about our intentions for world conquest as a paranoid, conspiracy-minded, war-mongerer.
  • …adopt our apocalyptic enemy (Dajjal), so that they turn against their most important ally.
  • …legitimate our terrorism as “resistance” and denounce any recourse to violence in their own defense, as “terrorism.”
  • …respect the dignity of our beliefs even as we heap disdain on theirs.
  • …introduce our intimidating “Street” in the heart of their capital cities..

And may those who so act, play prominent roles in their public sphere. Only then can we, your loyal servants and agents, accomplish your will, that the entire world become Dar al Islam.

Alas, those prayers have been answered singly and collectively, again and again, since 2000, so consistently, that were I Muslim, I’d be convinced Allah indeed wanted us to conquer the world. So we infidels now find ourselves – and by “we” I mean the modern democratic West – on the defensive, even though our advantages, both military and cognitive, still far outstrip those of our foes. Secular democratic Europe only commits suicide over the next thirty years if it continues to speak and act as it does now, not because it lacks the cultural resources with which to resist. On the contrary, like our military advantage, the West’s cultural repertoire is immensely greater, more flexible and resilient than that of Muslim theocracy.

In significant part Jihad’s astonishing success comes from finding the West’s soft underbelly – anti-Zionism. Starting with the Al Durah hoax in October 2000, Jihadis have gotten the most outspoken of the Western “progressive” left to adopt their Antichrist – the state of Israel.

The destruction of Israel has immense significance, both military and symbolic, for Jihadis. And getting the West to abandon Israel, whether as part of a moral crusade (BDS), or “for the cause of peace” (Oslo Logic), would represent an immense victory for Jihad, possibly a decisive one that would shift the battle from its cognitive theater to open warfare in many places. It would deal a devastating blow to the West’s ability to resist the increased aggression this Western folly would inspire in Jihadis. From this perspective, the demonization of Israel is not merely a dagger pointed at the Zionist heart, but at the hearts of all Western democracies.

If you had told the drafters of the Hamas charter in 1988 that within two decades, infidels would be shouting “We are Hamas” in the streets of Western capitals, they would have responded “only Allah could make someone that stupid.” Perhaps the single greatest vulnerability of the West is its mainstream news media, which has, especially since 2000, been dominated by lethal journalism, which, pumps Jihadi war propaganda against Israel into the Western public sphere as news (from al Durah and Jenin to Goldstone and Mavi Marmara).

This lethal journalism, provides the jet fuel for comparisons of Israel with the Nazis (the adoption of the Jihadi Dajjal), for massive “anti-war” demonstrations against Israel that empower an aggressive “Muslim Street” in the West, for “Apartheid Weeks” that justify BDS.

And BDS is the prime Jihadi cogwar strategy to get the West to do the job of eliminating Israel (which the Muslims can’t), by getting them to believe the incredible, facetious claim that this is a moral act that will ameliorate the situation. Of all the serious vulnerabilities of the Western public sphere to Jihadi cogwar assault – and there are many – none is more urgently serious than lethal journalism, which effects everyone on a daily basis.

We really don’t have to be this stupid.

Stuart Green, Cognitive Warfare

For reasons neither Stuart Green nor I are aware of, his thesis is no longer available on the internet. I have his permission to post it here.

Green, Cognitive Warfare

Well worth reading every page.

Getting it Wrong: Dinesh D’Souza on Why Islamists Hate America

In his book The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11, Dinesh D’Souza writes:

These Islamic radicals do not hate America because of its wealth and power; they hate America because of how Americans use that wealth and power. They do not hate us for our freedom; they hate us because of what we do with our freedom. The radical Muslims are convinced that America and Europe have become sick, demented societies that destroy religious belief, undermine traditional morality, dissolve the patriarchal family, and corrupt the innocence of children. The term that Islamic radicals use to describe Western influence is firangi. The term means “Frankish” disease, and it refers to syphilis, a disease that Europeans first introduced to the Middle East.12

Today Muslims use the term in a metaphorical sense, to describe the social and moral corruption produced by the virus of Westernization. The Muslims who hate us the most are the ones who have encountered Western decadence, either in the West or in their own countries. The revealing aspect of the 9/11 terrorists is not that so many came from Saudi Arabia, but that so many of them, like the ringleader, Muhammad Atta, and his Hamburg group, had lived in and been exposed to the West.

My point is that their hatred was not a product of ignorance but of familiarity; not of Wahhabi indoctrination but of firsthand observation. But isn’t it true, as many Americans believe, that American culture is broadly appealing around the world? Yes, and this is precisely why America and not Europe is the main target of the Islamic radicals. Decadence is arguably far worse in Europe than in America, and Europe has had its share of attacks, such as the Madrid train bombing of 2004 and the London subway bombing of 2005. But even in those cases the European targets were picked because of their governments’ support for America. The Islamic radicals focus on America because they recognize that it is the leader of Western civilization or, as they sometimes put it, “the greatest power of the unbelievers.” Bin Laden himself said in a 1998 interview, “What prompted us to address the American government is the fact that it is the head of the Western and crusading forces in their fight against Islam and against Muslims.”13

Moreover, Muslims realize that it is American culture and values that are penetrating the far corners of the globe, corroding ancient orthodoxies, and transforming customs and institutions. Many Americans, whatever their politics, generally regard such change as healthy and good. But this attitude is not shared in traditional societies, and it is virtually nonexistent in the Muslim world. America is feared and despised there not in spite of its cultural allure but because of it. An anecdote will illustrate my point. Some time ago I saw an interview with a Muslim sheikh on a European TV channel. The interviewer told the sheikh, “I find it curious and hypocritical that you are so anti-American, considering that two of your relatives are living and studying in America.” The sheikh replied, “But this is not hypocritical at all. I concede that American culture is appealing, especially to young people. If you put a young man into a hotel room and give him dozens of pornography tapes, he is likely to find those appealing as well. What America appeals to is everything that is low and disgusting in human nature.”

There seems to be a growing belief in traditional cultures—a belief encouraged but by no means created by Islamic fundamentalism—that America is materially prosperous but culturally decadent. It is technologically sophisticated but morally depraved. As former Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto puts it, “Within the Muslim world, there is a reaction against the sexual overtones that come across in American mass culture. America is viewed through this prism as an immoral society.” In his book The Crisis of Islam, Bernard Lewis rehearses what he calls the “standard litany of American offenses recited in the lands of Islam” and ends with this one: “Yet the most powerful accusation of all is the degeneracy and debauchery of the American way of life.”14 As these observations suggest, what angers religious Muslims is not the American Constitution but the scandalous sexual mores they see in American movies and television. What disgusts them is not free elections but the sights of hundreds of homosexuals kissing one another and taking marriage vows. The person that horrifies them the most is not John Locke but Hillary Clinton.

D’Souza, Dinesh (2007-01-16). The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11 (Kindle Locations 290-307). Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

On one level, this is true.

But on another, it underestimates the nature of the opposition. I’d argue that while these are the targets of choice – especially when talking to Westerners who, like D’Souza, agree with the critique of their own culture – they conceal a more profound problem with modernity: namely, the freedom to criticize. Locke and his (old-fashioned) liberal colleagues actually believed that people had a right to criticize those in power. Academia was built on this ability. And it has had a corrosive, but liberating effect on religion. The whole area of historical analysis of religion, including the “documentary hypotheses” depends on this commitment to allowing people to voice criticisms of authority, whether the current political leadership, or the religious dogmas that have accrued over millennia.

While it may sound plausible that Islamic radicals hate radical left gender transgressive iconoclasm, they hate a lot more than that. The reason that the historical critique of Islam trails so much behind that of Judaism and Christianity in academia is because Muslims are so violently opposed to anything that undermines their (pre-modern/traditional) notions of what beliefs are necessary for a social order. They, like the Nazis, are reactionary modernists: they want the power and wealth that technology brings, they don’t want the kind of open society that made (and continues to make) that technology possible.

It may be important to D’Souza to claim that Hillary is the problem for Islamists, not John Locke, but alas, it’s both. It also may be comforting to think that if the radical left were not so influential, things would be better, but alas, they won’t. The hostility between modernity in the liberal sense and traditional society is fundamental. It’s a clash of civilizations that will only be resolved when traditional societies achieve the maturity to live without their dogmatic triumphalism, or we return to the Middle Ages, replete with holy war and inquisition. And this is especially true of Islam, which, traditionally, is, like its monotheistic predecessor Christianity, the most imperialist of triumphalist religions.

In a book on religious tolerance in the Protestant Reformation, Robert Scribner noted that “tolerance is a loser’s creed.” By that he meant that religious tolerance was the cry of groups without power, in the minority. As soon as they got power, they interpreted that to mean that their God had endowed them with the privilege of imposing the right belief on everyone. In that sense, the American Revolution and the Constitution were the first time in the history of Christianity that tolerance was a winner’s creed. We’re still waiting from that from Islam.

Ironically, like the Left, which projects its critique of America onto the Islamists even as it claims to listen to them, so does D’Souza. The challenge here is not to enroll them in our internal culture wars, but to appreciate the Islamist enemy for what he is, a totalitarian, anti-modern, anti-liberal, hater of freedom for all, a throwback to the ancien regime when libertés was a plural noun, a synonym for the privileges of the ruling class, not something extended to everyone.