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, More »

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: More »

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 More »

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 More »

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 More »

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.

Four Dimensional Jews, Two Dimensional Muslims: Fisking Rabbi Daniel Landes

I do the following fisking with some reluctance. Daniel Landes is a cousin and friend, whom I love and deeply admire. But this piece illustrates too many of the fundamental errors of a “liberal” Judaism attempting to solve problems that are clearly beyond its ken. So, alas, the following.

End the conflict – a Jewish imperative

We must not allow the messianisms of the religious right to cloud the call from our greatest religious authorities to return the territories, for the sake of saving life.

By Rabbi Daniel Landes | 17:52 07.04.14 |  1

For the religious Zionist Jew who wishes to grasp Israel’s present situation in a rational way, the hardest act is to shake off the messianisms that envelop his society – ranging from overt and imminent “end-time” scenarios, to the hazy metaphor of the “beginning of the dawn of our salvation.”

Of course, it also behooves anyone trying to grasp Israel’s present situation in a rational [sic] way, to become aware of the messianisms that envelop Israel’s enemies. Anyone who has not read at least one of the following, has no business discussing the conflict between Israel and its “neighbors” in terms of messianic tendencies.

Timothy Furnish, Holiest Wars: Islamic Mahdis, Their Jihads, and Osama bin Laden (New York: Praeger, 2005)

Laurent Murawiec, The Mind of Jihad (New York: Oxford, 2006);

David Cook, Contemporary Muslim Apocalyptic Literature (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2008);

Landes, Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of the Millennial Experience (NY: Oxford University Press), chap. 14;

Jean Pierre Filiu, Apocalypse in Islam (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2011).

This of course doesn’t even begin to get at the literature on groups like Hamas, who are “near” enemies, and whose apocalyptic delirium places them at the heart of the most dangerous form of apocalyptic belief: active cataclysmic (i.e., we are the agents of the catastrophic destruction that must cleanse the world of evil). That form of apocalyptic belief has, in the past, caused mega-deaths on the scale of tens of millions (Heaven on Earth, chaps 7 (Taiping, ca. 35 million), chap. 11 (Bolshevik, ca. 50 million), chap. 12 (Nazism, ca. 40 million), not to mention Maoism (ca. 70 million).

I think that any comparison of Jewish and Islamic messianism (I prefer the term millennialism), makes it clear that Jews have a far more extensive fire-wall against apocalyptic outbreaks, especially violent ones, than do the current generation of Muslims. It’s almost grotesque to blame our current impasse on Jewish messianists. Like so many people motivated by a belief that the solution to this conflict is somehow “in our hands,” Rabbi Landes is willing to make extraordinary sacrifices for peace (or even just to save lives). The tragedy here is that the only thing standing between the awful situation of “occupation” and the vastly more horrible situation of Jihadi civil war (à la Syria), is Israel’s continued control of the the West Bank. Painful sacrifices for peace is one thing, painful sacrifices that empower the worst kind of war, is quite another.

What they share and engender is an optimistic feeling of ultimate victory and security. We are assured that the Jews’ political failure and physical catastrophe is as finished as the Galut (Exile). But in the actual psyche of the religious Zionist, the persistently suppressed horror of that past repeating itself propels us further – into a delusional messianism that needs to be coupled to a secular rightwing ideology promising salvation by standing ‘strong’ and ‘proud’, that is confirmed by our increasing isolation.

Of course, we have left-wing variants of this misplaced messianic hope and confidence, expressed, for example, in J-Street and everything to its left (Olive Tree Initiative, Jewish Voice for Peace, etc.), who think that the genocidal threat against Jews is over, and all we have to do to appease the Arab/Muslim hatred of Jews is to give back the “territories” and then we’ll have Peace. This vision of a post-modern world in which we’ve all left behind the madness and superstition of the pre-modern world propels us further – into a delusional messianism that needs to be coupled with a secular left-wing ideology promising salvation by being ‘generous’ and ‘peace-loving’ and ‘accommodating’. You know, “tikkun olam” in support of BDS.

When a Fly Falls into a Cup of Coffee: International Style

Hat tip: Cookie D.

WHEN A FLY FALLS INTO A CUP OF COFFEE 


The Italian – throws the cup, breaks it and walks away in a fit of rage.

The German – carefully washes the cup, sterilizes it and makes a new cup of coffee.

The Frenchman – takes out the fly and drinks the coffee.

The Chinese  -  eats the fly and throws away the coffee.

The Russian  -  drinks the coffee with the fly, since it came with no extra charge.

The Israeli  -  sells the coffee to the Frenchman, sells the fly to the Chinese, sells the cup to the Italian, drinks a cup of tea and uses the extra money to invent a device that prevents flies from falling into coffee.

The Palestinian – blames the Israeli for the fly falling into his coffee, protests the act to the UN as an act of aggression, takes a loan from the European Union to buy a new cup of coffee, uses the money to purchase explosives and then blows up the coffee house where the Italian, Frenchman, Chinese, German and Russian are all trying to explain to the Israeli that he should give his cup of tea to the Palestinian.

Arab Self-Criticism and Acknowledging the Real Enemy of the Arab People

I have complained repeatedly at my blog about the lack of self-criticism in the Arab world, the pathetic way that honor demands that all Arabs line up against Israel, even though Arab elites are the real enemy of the Arab people. So it’s with great pleasure that I post the following piece by Abdulateef al-Mulhim published in Arab News. On the other hand, since this is over a year old and has not had much of a visible impact on the discussion in the Arab world, maybe my complaints remain current. Indeed, in his latest piece, Al-Mulhim taunts the still-string irrational Arab hostility to Israel. Alas.

Arab Spring and the Israeli enemy

ABDULATEEF AL-MULHIM

Published — Saturday 6 October 2012

Thirty-nine years ago, on Oct. 6, 1973, the third major war between the Arabs and Israel broke out. The war lasted only 20 days. The two sides were engaged in two other major wars, in 1948 and 1967.
The 1967 War lasted only six days. But, these three wars were not the only Arab-Israel confrontations. From the period of 1948 and to this day many confrontations have taken place. Some of them were small clashes and many of them were full-scale battles, but there were no major wars apart from the ones mentioned above. The Arab-Israeli conflict is the most complicated conflict the world ever experienced. On the anniversary of the 1973 War between the Arab and the Israelis, many people in the Arab world are beginning to ask many questions about the past, present and the future with regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The questions now are: What was the real cost of these wars to the Arab world and its people. And the harder question that no Arab national wants to ask is: What was the real cost for not recognizing Israel in 1948 and why didn’t the Arab states spend their assets on education, health care and the infrastructures instead of wars? But, the hardest question that no Arab national wants to hear is whether Israel is the real enemy of the Arab world and the Arab people.

La Terreur: Couteau à la gorge dans la Guerre Cognitive

J’ai recemment fait une presentation sur la guerre cognitive au MPCT (Mouvement pour la paix et contre le terrorisme) à Paris. Voici le PPP. Textes supplementaires dans un autre posting.

Le francais n’est pas corrigé. Je reçois volontiers des leçons à apprendre. rlandes-at-bu-dot-edu

La Terreur: Couteau à la gorge dans la Guerre Cognitive

Définitions/Terminologie:
La Guerre Cognitive
• Guerre asymétrique: Guerre entre deux entités de combat, l’une étatique et l’autre non-étatique, sur un champ de bataille “kinétique” (militaire). Ce type de guerre oppose des résistants non-étatiques faibles ou supposés tels (des Macchabées aux Vietcongs) aux militaires d’une armée régulière d’état.
• Guerre cognitive (GC): 

L’art de manipuler l’ennemi, considéré plus puissant en termes militaires, afin qu’il n’utilise pas ses forces armées ou, au moins, qu’il s’en abstienne. C’est le terrain de combat préféré des “faibles” dans la guerre asymétrique.

• Espace public: le théâtre principal ou se mènent les campagnes de guerres cognitives.
• Térrorisme: attaques ciblant les civils. Compagnon de la guerre cognitive, employé pour intimider, afin d’aboutir à des victoires dans l’espace publique ciblé.
• Insurrections agressives: forme insolite de guerre asymétrique qui cherche à envahir la société de la partie la plus puissante – donc, la bataille cognitive doit convaincre l’ennemi de ne pas se défendre sur son propre terrain. De tels campagnes de guerre doivent gagner dans la sphère publique de l’ennemi.
• Démopathes:

les combattants cognitifs qui utilisent le discours/lexique des Droits de l’Homme pour paralyser l’auto-défense des personnes soucieuses desdits droits. De fait, ces combattants n’ont que du dédain à l’égard des Droits de l’Homme (d’autrui), et ne font qu’employer la démocratie (les règles de ce mode de gouvernance) pour démolir la démocratie.

• Les années zéros, ‘00s: la première décennie du 21ème siècle, le moment où tout bascule, et où l’Occident commence à perdre la guerre cognitive à grande échelle.
Définitions/Terminologie:
Millénarisme apocalyptique
•Millénarisme: la croyance en l’avènement d’un monde parfait ici sur terre. Peut être soit religieux (Anbaptists, Taiping) soit laïc (Communisme, Maoisme).
Millénarisme hiérarchique: la perfection est imposée d’en haut, pureté coercitive (“Dernier Empereur”). Impérialisme monothéiste: “Un Dieu, un empereur.”
Millénarisme démotique: égalitaire, la perfection vient d’une pulsion d’en bas, anarchie sainte, fin des distinctions de classe. Monothéisme démotique: “Pas de roi sauf Dieu.”
Apocalypticisme: la croyance que le moment pour accéder au millenium (ou la fin du monde) est arrivée. Aussi le scénario par lequel on arrive au millennium.
Scenario apocalyptique cataclysmique: la transition entre ce monde et celui à venir passe par une immense destruction (e.g., l’Apocalypse de Jean)
Apocalypticisme transformateur: la transition se fait volontairement, sans ou avec peu de violences et destructions (e.g., Isaïe, 2)
Apocalypticisme actif: les croyants sont chargés d’effectuer le processus de transition vers le monde parfait.
l’apocalypticisme actif, cataclysmique prône la mégamort. Ceux qui visent un millenium hiérarchique par un cataclysme qu’ils sont eux-mêmes chargés d’accomplir, représentent l’idée la plus dangereuse de toutes les idéologies religieuses ou laïques.
Avertissement

Avant de procéder à l’examen du Djihad global contemporain, je tiens à préciser une chose importante. L’islam que je vais décrire, cet islam qui mène une guerre d’aggression contre les democraties occidentales, n’est pas le seul representant de l’islam. Je reconnais volontiers l’existence d’un Islam démotique, qui a renoncé à l’impérialisme monothéistique, un Islam différent de celui qui, à présent, lutte contre les pays des infidèles. J’en aurais d’avantage à dire à ce sujet plus tard. Mais pour le moment, je précise que les définitions des termes islamiques que je présente ci-dessous ne sont pas les seules définitions qui existent chez les musulmans.

Pas tous les musulmans qui s’ecrient “Allahu Akhbar” le font avec le sens de “tuer les ennemis d’Allah!” Mais c’est precisement ce que voulait dire Muhammed Atta:

When the confrontation begins, strike like champions who do not want to go back to this world. Shout, ‘Allahu Akbar,’ because this strikes fear in the hearts of the non-believers. Allah said: ‘Strike above the neck, and strike at all of their extremities.’ (911 Muslim terrorists)

Et depuis, partout dans le monde, nous témoignons d’une telle crie de guerre.

Je tente ici un exercise : penser à la manière d’un de ceux qui poursuivent ce que j’appèle le Djihad global. C’est eux les ennemis à la fois des infidèles du monde entier, et des musulmans qui ne s’accordent pas à leur lecture de l’Islam. En fait, les musulmans qui divergent de cette lecture agressive sont les premières cibles et les victimes les plus constantes du Djihad militaire.

Quand je dis “nous” dans la présentation suivante, je parle de tous ceux – hommes, femmes, monothéistes, polythéistes, laïcs – qui veulent vivre dans des sociétés libres, où la dignité et les droits de tous et toutes – y compris le droit de dissidence – sont respectés.

Cogwar Reflections on the Danish Muhammad Cartoon Affair

In preparing to post the speech I gave to a Conference on Homeland Security about Cogwar this month, I found myself elaborating on several points beyond what the talk itself could bear. So I’ve moved some of the discussion to separate posts. The first concerns the Danish Cartoon Affair, which I used to illustrate the way that our news media and the intelligentsia in our public sphere failed to report on a crucial detail of the efforts of radical Imams to make the Danish Cartoons into an occasion to “spread Sharia” to Dar al Islam. As a result, a “teaching moment” for civil society and tolerance became a “bullying moment” for an aggressive, triumphalist religion of conquest.

From the global Jihadi perspective, this incident represented an effort to extend Sharia over areas of targeted Dar al Harb. Indeed since Khoumeini’s fatwa against Salmon Rushdie, global Jihadis have sought to get Westerners to adopt Sharia’s (heavily censuring) position on articulating anything they might consider blasphemous. In the most zealous of Muslim formulations, the depiction of Muhammad was forbidden to Muslims (for fear of idolatry). But here Islamist activists insisted that not even non-Dhimmi infidels (i.e., independent non-Muslims) have no right to violate (their strict reading of) Sharia. The stakes were high, both in terms of freedom of speech and in terms of the demopathic demand that infidels show respect for Islam, even as cartoons all over the Muslim world depicted the infidel (especially the Jew) in the most grotesque, hate-mongering fashion.

And yet, in the entire Muhammad Cartoon episode, only the blogosphere discussed at any length the three fake Muhammad Cartoons, by far the outrageous of the lot, the most blasphemous, created specifically by the radical preachers who wanted to inflame the Muslim Street: Muhammad as pig, as paedophile, as being raped by a dog while praying. These were “lethal narratives,” false tales told to make the Western infidel as odious to Muslims as possible, even as they used them to gain sympathy from Western liberals by illustrating the atmosphere of Islamophobia in which Western Muslims must live.

Victor Perez dévoile la malhonnêteté d’Enderlin et son anti-israelism

Charles Enderlin posted at his blog an essay on “Netanyahu’s Vision,” which reveals all the sloppy prejudices that he has internalized from an international consensus that it’s all Israel’s fault. Victor Perez at his blog, manages to draw out many of the elements the explain why Charles’ readership is so fully misinformed.

La vision idéologique de Charles Enderlin

Certains s’interrogent sur les raisons de la poussée de l’antisémitisme en Europe et principalement en France. Une hostilité systématique envers les Juifs cachée sous le paravent d’un anti-sionisme développé dans les médias nationaux par la bouche et/ou les écrits des journalistes à demeure, ou envoyés, en Israël.

L’envoyé permanent de France 2 à Jérusalem, pourtant juif, israélien et, paraît-il, ayant fait son service militaire ne déroge pas à la règle de ses employeurs. Charles Enderlin en bon petit soldat de la guerre larvée qui se joue contre l’Etat du peuple juif a une idéologie à soutenir.

La logique et le bon sens ont, vraisemblablement, déserté sa réflexion !

Dans un texte intitulé « La vision de Netanyahu », publié dans son blog, il confirme que tout le mal vient des Israéliens ! Il nous affirme qu’il « sera quasi impossible d’évacuer cent mille colons installés au cœur de la Cisjordanie, les 260000 autres étant regroupés dans des blocs d’implantations. En admettant que cela se fasse, resterait le problème de Jérusalem Est (…) »

Analysis of a Cognitive War Campaign against the West: Why Iran will get a nuclear bomb

One of the more fruitful ways of understanding the dilemma of dealing with Iran is a cognitive warfare analysis. Cognitive warfare is the main theater of war for “weak” insurgencies in an asymmetric conflict. Unable to win on the kinetic battlefield, insurgencies must pursue means to prevent the stronger side from using their strength to prevent them from gaining strength. In the case of non-democratic insurgencies against superior democratic foes – the majority of such conflicts in the modern period – the “weak” side must deploy both their own deceptions and exploit the vulnerabilities of their foes in order to proceed. When the enemies are democracies who, in principle, consider the use of force a last resort, this means insurgencies must use the pacific (pacifist) tendencies of their foes to paralyze them.

In the case of Iranian nuclear ambitions this involves clearly high stakes: not only is Iran a Shi’i theocracy with an apocalyptic worldview, whose leaders have made clear since the inception of the regime in 1979 (1400 AH), that their resort to war is neither inhibited by modern norms, nor defensive, but also that Iran’s acquisition would trigger a much larger nuclear push on the part of their foes in the Sunni Muslim world. Thus, from any angle, whether from the huge increase in a nuclear Iran’s hegemonic influence among her immediate neighbors, or from the metastasis of nuclear weapons in other, pre-modern polities in so unstable a region, it seems an imperative that the West should prevent Iran from acquiring these weapons. Indeed, one might argue that with this cognitive-war victory (acquiring the nuclear bomb without opposition), Iran could dramatically alter the kinetic battlefield, and with this power to threaten and intimidate, to immeasurably increase their cognitive position of demanding concessions.

Annals of Cognitive War blunders: George Bush, “Islam is a religion of peace.”

 

In the immediate aftermath of 9-11, President Bush appeared with members of the American Muslim community on September 17, 2001, at Islamic Center in DC to declare that Islam is a religion of peace. His comments:

Like the good folks standing with me, the American people were appalled and outraged at last Tuesday’s attacks.  And so were Muslims all across the world.  Both Americans and Muslim friends and citizens, tax-paying citizens, and Muslims in nations were just appalled and could not believe what we saw on our TV screens. These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith.  And it’s important for my fellow Americans to understand that. The English translation is not as eloquent as the original Arabic, but let me quote from the Koran, itself:  ‘In the long run, evil in the extreme will be the end of those who do evil. For that they rejected the signs of Allah and held them up to ridicule.’ The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about.  Islam is peace.  These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.”

Now were we a “reality-based” community with a sophisticated sense of both the narratives and the exegetical principles of the “other,” such a statement would have been met with howls of derision, especially from academics whose knowledge of the history of Islam would make such a characterization as “religion of peace” risible, and who knew alas only too well what shouts of joy 9-11 provoked in Muslim, Arab and even other audiences the world over.

Moreover, more than one person should have been equipped to explain to the President that the man standing by his side, Nihad Awad of CAIR, who may well have supplied the president with the oh-so eloquent Qur’anic quote, heard those words to mean precisely the opposite of what Bush thought: “In the long run [i.e., finally, now], evil in the extreme will be the end of those who do evil [i.e., America]. For that they [Americans] rejected the signs of Allah and held them up to ridicule.”

And rather than slowly learn from this, American scholars and journalists by and large continue to widely mouth the delusional pieties of the president. Despite extensive critiques from Daniel Pipes, in 2012, Samuel Freedman wrote in the NYT:

The other anniversary is of the visit President George W. Bush made to a Washington mosque just six days after the attack, where he spoke eloquently against the harassment of Arabs and Muslims living in the United States and about the need to respect Islam. This act of leadership and statesmanship, however, has all but vanished from the national collective memory. It deserves, instead, to be noted and heeded and esteemed. (NYT, Sept. 7, 2012)

People have rights. Ideas do not have Rights.

HT: Jeffrey Bale who notes:

It should go without saying that in a truly free society, no ideas, beliefs, and ideologies have a “right” not to be criticized, just as no individual has a “right” not to be offended by criticism of his or her ideas. It’s sad that one nowadays feels compelled to state this obvious point, over and over again, in a world in which so many people apparently feel that their beliefs should be immune from criticism or that no one else has a right to offend them.

 

This problem is about to reach epic proportions if the European Parliament enacts a well-intentioned but misconceived legislation against “intolerance” (which protects an undefined “Islamophobia“). All of this effort to legislate tolerance and mutual respect stems from the appalling inability of the progressive intellectual elite to speak out against the grotesque abuse of free speech by Muslims who revile Israel with Nazi-like hate speech.

If they did (rather than defend it as “free speech” – as if free speech should not be criticized), we wouldn’t need legislation that is just waiting to be exploited by demopaths. The response to intolerance is courageous criticism, not legislation.

 

 

 

 

The Culture of Dispute and Israeli Hi-Tech

In a recent WSJ article one finds the following (HT: YE):

5.  Wall Street Journal (Ben Rooney), Oct. 24: It is extremely hard not to be a bit star-struck by the Israeli technology scene…. ‘It is Silicon Valley for the rest of the world‘ said Saul Klein, a London-based venture capitalist…. ‘On a scale of one to 10, the innovation I see in Germany would be close to zero. In Israel, it is a 10,’ said Mark Tluszcz, co-founder of Mangrove Capital Partners, a Luxembourg-based venture firm…. What’s the secret? Reasons include the role of the Israeli Defense Forces, and in particular the high-tech Unit 8200; the unique cultural values of a country forged from centuries of oppression; and Jewish mothers…. The link with America remains as strong as ever. If you look at the flight schedules into Tel Aviv, there are just three direct flights a week from Beijing, and another three from Seoul. There are at least that many a day from the U.S.”

Lots of explanations available. I tend towards the one about the Jewish culture of dispute, and the way that one is encouraged to ask challenging questions. About which, two anecdotes and a thought:

1) The first time I studied Talmud, I learned with a venerable and brilliant man, Rabbi Abraham Lappin. At the end of a long passage in which we read carefully and exhaustively not only Rashi’s commentary by that of every Tosafot, he asked us if we understood. We all nodded dutifully. To which he replied, “no you don’t.” When he saw the pained look on our faces, he added, “if you did, you’d have questions.”

2) On a plane from Israel to Germany in the late 1990s, sitting next to an Israeli businessman with factories in Germany and Israel. “Is there a difference between Israeli workers and German workers?” I asked. “Yes,” he replied, “if I ask a German worker to do something, he says, ‘Yes boss.’ If I ask an Israeli worker to do something, he says, ‘Why do you want to do that?’”

3) This is intimately linked to the difference between honor-shame dynamics and integrity-guilt. I you view challenges as attacks on your “face”, as forms of zero-sum one-upsmanship, then questions from subordinates is insubordination; if you take challenges as occasions to up your game, as potentially positive-sum ways to learn from an exchange with another person who may have a different and valuable perspective, then such questions are opportunities.

When Abba Eban said, “the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity,” he got is somewhat wrong. For them, positive-sum encounters in which both sides win (i.e., Israel also wins) are not viewed as opportunities, but decisive defeats in the zero-sum world of honor lost (by Israel’s successful resistance and survival), and the overriding need to regain face by destroying her.

One man’s opportunity is another’s shame… at the core of the difference between innovative and productive cultures on the one hand, and cultures of impoverishment on the other.

UPDATE: Apparently Dawkins is puzzled by the phenomenon. In an interview with the New Republic he admits:

RD: …the number of Jews who have won Nobel Prizes is phenomenally high.

IC: OK, but what do you make of that?

RD: Race does not come into it. It is pure religion and culture. Something about the cultural tradition of Jews is way, way more sympathetic to science and learning and intellectual pursuits than Islam. That would have been a fair comparison. Ironically, I originally wrote the tweet with Jews and thought, That might give offense. And so I thought I better change it.

IC: I still want to know what you draw from this. Do you think the Torah is more progressive than the Koran?

RD: No, I doubt it. I don’t think that.

Of course he has no idea; and like Christopher Hitchens, his exposure to the Hebrew Bible is via his Anglican teachers whom he apparently disliked intensely. A Christian lens, especially one formed in the crucible of invidious identity formation, is not the way to find out just how “progressive” the Torah is.

And I don’t think that the key is in the text (although that’s critical), but how the community reads the text. The culture of dispute is unquestionably encouraged by the text – think of Abraham arguing with God about just how much innocent collateral damage is acceptable to punish the guilty – but unless that is embodied in the relations of the community, the idea has no life.

IC: So then what?

RD: I haven’t thought it through. I don’t know. But I don’t think it is a minor thing; it is colossal. I think more than 20 percent of Nobel Prizes have been won by Jews (24% of Science).