Does America have a lack of understanding of radical Islam? Video. Sean Hannity and Ralph Peters. Hannity. Fox News, July 31, 2014.
Thursday, July 31, 2014
The Ugly Tide Washing Across Europe. By Bernard-Henri Lévy. Wall Street Journal, July 30, 2014.
The “Gaza generation” seems worried about Arab deaths only when Jews are involved.
About the crowds on Friday in Paris chanting “Palestine will overcome” and “Israel, assassin”: Where were they a few days earlier when news broke that over the previous weekend Syria’s civil war had produced 720 more dead, adding to the 150,000 others who have not had the honor of demonstrations in France?
Why did the protesters not pour into the streets when, a few days before that, the well-informed Syrian Network for Human Rights revealed that so far this year Damascus’s army, which was supposed to have destroyed its supply of chemical weapons, carried out at least 17 gas attacks around Kafrzyta, Talmanas, Atshan and elsewhere?
Will these people, “outraged” for a day, claim that they did not know, that they saw no images of the others who died, and that today only images have the power to stir them to action? That is not going to work. Because they had seen what was happening in Syria. As reporters later discovered, those same grisly images, or older versions of them, were appropriated, doctored and retweeted by organizers of the anti-Israel demonstrations under the dishonest hashtag GazaUnderAttack.
Will the protesters claim that they were rallying against French President François Hollande and a policy of unilateral support for Israel that they do not wish to see conducted “in their name?” Perhaps. But conducting outward politics for inner reasons—converting a large cause into a small instrument designed to salve one’s conscience at little cost—reflects little genuine concern for the fate of the victims. Even more pointedly, should not the same reasoning have filled the same streets 10 or 100 times to protest the same president's decision, likewise taken in their name, not to intervene in Syria?
Will they say that it is Israel’s disproportion in force that is shocking, the imbalance between an all-powerful army and defenseless civilians? That argument has some merit, but in the end it also doesn’t hold up. For if that were the reason for protests—if one were primarily concerned about the Palestinian children whose deaths are indeed an abomination—one would demand that Hamas operatives leave the hospital basements where they have buried their command centers, move the rocket launchers that they have installed in the doorways of United Nations schools, and stop threatening parents who wish to evacuate their homes when an Israeli leaflet informs them that a strike is imminent.
Moreover, if alarm about disproportion and asymmetry were the true wellspring of the protesters’ rage, would they not have had at least a passing thought for another disproportion that, not so far from Gaza, now afflicts the most wretched of the wretched, the most defenseless of all, the Christians of Mosul? Hamas’s “brothers” are offering these Iraqis the following ultimatum: Embrace Islam or die by the sword.
The truth is that these protesters—most of them young members of the self-proclaimed “Gaza generation,” for whom the latest in chic is to sport a kaffiyeh made in Palestine—assume it is normal for Arabs to kill other Arabs.
They are also unperturbed upon learning, from the very mouth of the Hamas leadership (Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 41, No. 4), that in 2012 alone the construction of the infamous Gaza tunnels cost the lives of 160 Palestinian children who were turned into little slaves and buried in the rubble.
The oldest of these protesters also missed the chance to mobilize in favor of the 300,000 Darfurians massacred by Sudan; the 200,000 Chechens whom Putin, in his own elegant phrase, “kicked into the crapper” not so long ago; and the Bosnians who were besieged and bombarded to general indifference for three years. The truth is that for these selectively conscientious objectors, indignation arrives only when one has the opportunity to condemn a military consisting mostly of Jews.
The double standard is odious. And it has become increasingly evident across Europe in the past month. Bluntly anti-Semitic slogans have marred most European demonstrations “in support of the people of Gaza.” Residents of Frankfurt and Dortmund were horrified in mid-July to see neo-Nazi groups join hands with left-wing Islamists in a grim chant: “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas.” The center of London was blocked on July 19 by thousands who gathered in front of the Israeli embassy in Kensington to shout their hatred for Jews.
Not to mention Amsterdam, the city of Spinoza, Europe’s capital of tolerance, where in certain neighborhoods it has become practically impossible to wear a yarmulke in public without running the risk of being insulted or assaulted.
For someone who has advocated, as I have, for nearly half a century the creation of a Palestinian state alongside a fully recognized Israel, this is truly discouraging. That there are sincere men and women among the demonstrators I do not doubt. But I would urge them to think twice before letting themselves be manipulated by those whose motive is not solidarity but hate, and whose true agenda is not peace in Palestine but death to Israel—and, as often as not, alas, death to Jews.
The Left Hate Israel Because It Is Everything They Despise: Capitalist, Conservative and Patriotic. By Russell Taylor. Breitbart, July 31, 2014.
Everyone from liberal journalists to a member of the English cricket team is gunning for Israel at the moment. The Independent describes it as “rogue state.” The Guardian considers the Israeli “occupation” of Gaza as a “shameful injustice.” Meanwhile, cricketer Moeen Ali has pledged his support for the Palestinians by sporting “Free Gaza” wristbands. Respectable opinion knows which side wears the black hats in this conflict.
What is it about Israel that arouses so much anger? Is it because it’s a theocratic state, committed to destroying its neighbour, which uses civilians as human shields, tortures and kills its political opponents, persecutes homosexuals, and holds freedom of speech and the rule of law in contempt?
No, hang on, that’s Hamas, and we all know they’re the good guys of the piece. No matter how appallingly they treat their own people and how many innocents they blow up, shoot or kidnap, nothing can blot their copybook.
Which isn’t to say that Israel could get away with the same behaviour, of course. It can’t even protect its own people without drawing criticism. Israel is like the older brother who is expected to know better. His younger siblings can run riot, because they’re held to different standards, but big bro should sit there quietly, no matter how many times he takes a kicking.
Not that the media does much reporting on the kicking Israel receives. It would much rather lament the significantly higher Palestinian losses, as if they automatically put Israel in the wrong and let Hamas off the hook for striking the first blow. Israel, it seems, should show restraint that no one would realistically expect of Hamas if it possessed the same military might. The relativists who see no moral difference between a liberal democracy and a terrorist regime have no problem expecting the two sides to behave differently.
One thing’s for sure, if it was just another flyblown Islamic hellhole, Israel would get a much easier ride on the world stage. More blood is typically shed each year in Somalia, Pakistan and Nigeria than in Gaza, but outrage at those horrors pales beside the indignation Israel’s actions provoke. Heads are buried, standards doubled and blind eyes turned to provide an excuse for bashing the country everybody loves to hate.
So is this just about anti-Semitism? It is certainly rife in the Arab world, and long-standing critics of Israel probably pick up a little Jew-hatred along the way. But I don’t think it’s at the heart of Western, liberal antipathy. If anti-Semitism were to blame, it would be directed at Israel wherever it was in the world. Yet it’s hard to imagine it having as much trouble with its neighbours, or attracting as much hatred, if it were a European state. The chances are it would be another Switzerland, and would arouse the same amount of ill-feeling.
The fact is that when it comes to Israel, nobody seems to be interested in the truth. No one cares that it gave up the lands it seized during the Yom Kippur War, in the hope of securing peace. Nor that it gifted the Palestinians 3,000 greenhouses, opened border crossings and encouraged trade. Nor that the Gazans responded by destroying the greenhouses and electing a government committed to eradicating the Jews, which has fired thousands of rockets into Israel, and digs tunnels under Israeli territory from which to launch surprise attacks.
No one cares that Israel gives Gazans advance warning of raids, while Hamas deliberately targets Israeli civilians. Nor that Hamas places its weapons in schools, mosques, hospitals and private homes, to maximise the chance of civilian casualties. Nor that Israel arrested those guilty of murdering a Palestinian youth, and offered reparations to the victim’s family, while Hamas did nothing to capture or punish the killers of three Israeli teenagers. Nor that no Israeli soldiers are actually based in Gaza, despite talk of an “occupying force” by Hamas apologists
No one takes these facts into account because they are unhelpful to the narrative propagated by the pro-Palestinian Left – namely, that this is a battle between a strong, macho oppressor and a weak, downtrodden underdog, which leftists can feel virtuous about supporting.
Israel is a distillation of everything leftists hate about Western nations: capitalist, conservative and fiercely patriotic. It is a projection of their own prejudices about the supposed injustices of societies that cherish the “wrong” values and the “wrong” people. They don’t share the Palestinians’ spiritual beliefs, but they share a common enemy. Indeed, if Israel was removed from the equation, its critics would have little good to say about Gaza or Hamas. Theirs is a marriage of convenience.
The Left’s use of the Israeli-Arab situation as a platform for moral preening, and as a metaphor for its own hang-ups, blinds it to the evils of Hamas and the rest of the Muslim Brotherhood. It seems oblivious to the ideological conflict between Islamic fundamentalists and Western progressives, because it persists in regarding the former as pet victims of the latter. It may discover the hard way that it is giving comfort to an enemy that makes no distinction between liberal hand-wringers and any other infidels.
The End of the Arab State. By Christopher L. Hill. Project Syndicate, July 29, 2014.
DENVER – In a region where crises seem to be the norm, the Middle East’s latest cycle of violence suggests that something bigger is afoot: the beginning of the dissolution of the Arab nation-state, reflected in the growing fragmentation of Sunni Arabia.
States in the Middle East are becoming weaker than ever, as traditional authorities, whether aging monarchs or secular authoritarians, seem increasingly incapable of taking care of their restive publics. As state authority weakens, tribal and sectarian allegiances strengthen.
What does it mean today to be Iraqi, Syrian, Yemeni, or Lebanese? Any meaningful identification seems to require a compound name – Sunni Iraqi, Alawite Syrian, and so forth. As such examples suggest, political identity has shifted to something less civil and more primordial.
With Iraq in flames, the United States-led invasion and occupation is widely blamed for unwittingly introducing a sectarian concept of identity in the country. In fact, sectarianism was always alive and well in Iraq, but it has now become the driving force and organizing principle of the country’s politics.
When sectarian or ethnic minorities have ruled countries – for example, the Sunnis of Iraq – they typically have a strong interest in downplaying sectarianism or ethnicity. They often become the chief proponents of a broader, civic concept of national belonging, in theory embracing all peoples. In Iraq, that concept was Ba’athism. And while it was more identified with the Sunni minority than with the Shia majority, it endured for decades as a vehicle for national unity, albeit a cruel and cynical one.
When the Ba’ath party – along with its civic ideology – was destroyed by the US occupation, no new civic concept replaced it. In the ensuing political vacuum, sectarianism was the only viable alternative principle of organization.
Sectarianism thus came to frame Iraqi politics, making it impossible to organize non-sectarian parties on the basis of, say, shared socioeconomic interests. In Iraqi politics today (leaving aside the Kurds), seldom does a Sunni Arab vote for a Shia Arab, or a Shia for a Sunni. There is competition among Shia parties and among Sunni parties; but few voters cross the sectarian line – a grim reality that is unlikely to change for years to come.
Pointing the finger at the US for the state of affairs in Iraq may have some validity (although the alternative of leaving in place a Ba’athist state under Saddam Hussein was not particularly appealing, either). The same could be said of Libya (though the US did not lead that intervention). But the US did not invade any of the other countries in the Middle East – for example, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen – where the state’s survival is also in doubt.
There are many reasons for the weakening of Arab nation-states, the most proximate of which is the legacy of the Arab Spring. At its outset in 2011, Arab publics took to the streets seeking to oust authoritarian or monarchical regimes widely perceived to have lost their energy and direction. But those initial demonstrations, often lacking identifiable leaders and programs, soon gave way to old habits.
Thus, for all of the initial promise of the political transition in Egypt that followed the demise of Hosni Mubarak’s military-backed regime, the result was the creation of a Muslim Brotherhood government whose exclusionary ideology made it an unlikely candidate for long-term success. From the start, most observers believed that its days were numbered.
When the military ousted the Muslim Brotherhood from power a year later, many of the Egyptians who had been inspired by the Arab Spring democracy movement approved. Egypt retains the strongest sense of nation-statehood in the region; nonetheless, it has become a shattered and divided society, and it will take many years to recover.
Other states are even less fortunate. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s evil buffoonery in Libya has given way to Bedouin tribalism that will be hard to meld into a functioning nation-state, if Libya ever was such an entity. Yemen, too, is beset by tribal feuding and a sectarian divide that pose challenges to statehood. And Syria, a fragile amalgam of Sunni, Alawite, Kurdish, Christian, and other sects, is unlikely ever to be reconstructed as the state it once was.
These processes demand a broader, far more comprehensive policy approach from Western countries. The approach must take into account the region’s synergies and not pretend that the changes that are weakening these states are somehow unrelated.
The US, in particular, should examine how it has handled the breakdown of Syria and Iraq, and stop treating each case as if there were no connection between them. America called for regime change in the former while seeking regime stabilization in the latter; instead, it got the Islamic State in both.
How Many Children Will Die in Gaza? By Kevin D. Williamson. National Review Online, July 31, 2014.
Israel’s critics hold it responsible for the fate of those whom Hamas is using as human shields.
There is not much that is simple about the Arab–Israeli conflict, but there is one thing that is certain: The question of how many Palestinian women and children are going to die in Gaza is not going to be decided by the Israelis — it is going to be decided by Hamas.
The Jews mean to live, Hamas means to exterminate them, and there will be war until Hamas and its allies either weary of it or win it and the last Israeli Jew is dead or exiled. It is Hamas, not the Israelis, that stashes rockets and soldiers in schools and hospitals, but it is the Israelis the world expects to take account of that situation. Every creature on this Earth, from ant to gazelle, is entitled to — expected to — defend its life to the last: The Israeli Jews, practically alone among the world’s living things, are expected to make allowances for the well-being of those who are trying to exterminate them. No one lectures the antelope on restraint when the jackals come, but the Jews in the Jewish state are in the world’s judgment not entitled to what is granted every fish and insect as a matter of course.
That is one bit of strangeness, but there are a great many strange little assumptions that worm their way into our language, and our thought, when it comes to the Arab–Israeli conflict. Once a week or so, somebody will publicize a chart purporting to show the shrinkage of “Arab land” in what is now Israel and the Palestinian territories — as though Arabs did not hail from Arabia, as though they popped up out of the ground around Jerusalem like crocus blossoms. As though those Arab lands hadn’t been Turkish lands, Roman lands, Macedonian lands, Jewish lands.
As though this situation just dropped out of the sky.
Israel, as a Jewish state, is a relatively new country, having been established in 1948. But the idea of Palestine as a particular polity, much less an Arab polity, is a relatively new one, too, only 28 years older. Until the day before yesterday, the word “Palestinian” referred to Jews living in their ancestral homeland. During Roman rule, Palestine was considered a part of Syria: The prefect of Judea, Pontius Pilate, was subordinate to the legate of Syria, Palestine being a not especially notable outpost. (It is perhaps for this reason that no physical evidence of Pilate’s existence was unearthed until 1961.) That situation obtained for centuries; as late as the 19th century, the idea of an Arab Palestine distinct from Syria was a novel one, and one expressed in Ottoman administrative practice rather than in anything resembling a state as the term is understood. The notion of a Palestinian Arab nation dates to only a few decades before the establishment of the modern state of Israel.
The notion dates to 1920; the Palestinian Arab state as a reality never existed. The incompatible concepts of statehood obtaining in the West and in the Arab world until quite recently are in some ways the root of the dispute, as indeed they were with the early Americans’ relationships with the Indian tribes and various colonial powers’ experience in Africa. But somehow, in the modern mind, the idea that Israel sits upon what is, was, and shall always be “Arab land” is fixed.
The story of humankind is that peoples move around and bump into each other, and the results are often unpleasant. Somebody wins, somebody loses, and, after some period of time, whatever temporary situation endures comes to be considered normal. No one complains that the Celts occupied Ireland and subsumed the identities preceding them. The British came to control Palestine through war, true — and Saladin, what was he? An olive trader?
Israel’s critics often charge its defenders with intentionally conflating anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. One wonders, though, what kind of analysis holds that the Israelis are uniquely responsible for the fate of those whom Hamas is using as human shields, while Hamas cannot be held to the same standard. The answer is: an analysis predicated on the unspoken belief that the Jewish people in the Jewish state are under a unique obligation to lay down and die.
But they do not appear ready to lay down and die. And so one thing is certain: The question of how many Palestinian women and children are going to die in Gaza is not going to be decided by the Israelis — it is going to be decided by Hamas.