[The following was delivered by Haim Harari, Chair of the Davidson Institute of Science Education and Past President of the Weizmann Institute of Science Talk, at a meeting of the International Advisory Board of a large multi-national corporation in April, 2004.]
As you know, I usually provide the scientific and technological "entertainment" in our meetings, but, on this occasion, our Chairman suggested that I present my own personal view on events in the part of the world from which I come.
I have never been and I will never be a Government official and I have no privileged information. My perspective is entirely based on what I see, on what I read and on the fact that my family has lived in this region for almost 200 years. You may regard my views as those of the proverbial taxi driver, which you are supposed to question, when you visit a country. I could have shared with you some fascinating facts and some personal thoughts about the Israeli-Arab conflict. However, I will touch upon it only in passing. I prefer to devote most of my remarks to the broader picture of the region and its place in world events. I refer to the entire area between Pakistan and Morocco, which is predominantly Arab, predominantly Moslem, but includes many non-Arab and also significant non-Moslem minorities. Why do I put aside Israel and its own immediate neighborhood? Because Israel and any problems related to it, in spite of what you might read or hear in the world media, is not the central issue, and has never been the central issue in the upheaval in the region. Yes, there is a 100 year-old Israeli-Arab conflict, but it is not where the main show is. The millions who died in the Iran-Iraq war had nothing to do with Israel. The mass murder happening right now in Sudan, where the Arab Moslem regime is massacring its black Christian citizens, has nothing to do with Israel. The frequent reports from Algeria about the murders of hundreds of civilian in one village or another by other Algerians have nothing to do with Israel. Saddam Hussein did not invade Kuwait, endangered Saudi Arabia and butchered his own people because of Israel. Egypt did not use poison gas against Yemen in the 60's because of Israel. Assad the Father did not kill tens of thousands of his own citizens in one week in El Hamma in Syria because of Israel. The Taliban control of Afghanistan and the civil war there had nothing to do with Israel. The Libyan blowing up of the Pan-Am flight had nothing to do with Israel, and I could go on and on and on. The root of the trouble is that this entire Moslem region is totally dysfunctional, by any standard of the word, and would have been so even if Israel had joined the Arab league and an independent Palestine had existed for 100 years. The 22 member countries of the Arab league, from Mauritania to the Gulf States, have a total population of 300 millions, larger than the US and almost as large as the EU before its expansion. They have a land area larger than either the US or all of Europe. These 22 countries, with all their oil and natural resources, have a combined GDP smaller than that of Netherlands plus Belgium and equal to half of the GDP of California alone. Within this meager GDP, the gaps between rich and poor are beyond belief and too many of the rich made their money not by succeeding in business, but by being corrupt rulers. The social status of women is far below what it was in the Western World 150 years ago. Human rights are below any reasonable standard, in spite of the grotesque fact that Libya was elected Chair of the UN Human Rights commission. According to a report prepared by a committee of Arab intellectuals and published under the auspices of the U.N., the number of books translated by the entire Arab world is much smaller than what little Greece alone translates. The total number of scientific publications of 300 million Arabs is less than that of 6 million Israelis. Birth rates in the region are very high, increasing the poverty, the social gaps and the cultural decline. And all of this is happening in a region, which only 30 years ago, was believed to be the next wealthy part of the world, and in a Moslem area, which developed, at some point in history, one of the most advanced cultures in the world. It is fair to say that this creates an unprecedented breeding ground for cruel dictators, terror networks, fanaticism, incitement, suicide murders and general decline. It is also a fact that almost everybody in the region blames this situation on the United States, on Israel, on Western Civilization, on Judaism and Christianity, on anyone and anything, except themselves. A word about the millions of decent, honest, good people who are either devout Moslems or are not very religious but grew up in Moslem families: They are double victims of an outside world, which now develops Islamophobia and of their own environment, which breaks their heart by being totally dysfunctional. The problem is that the vast silent majority of these Moslems are not part of the terror and of the incitement, but they also do not stand up against it. They become accomplices, by omission, and this applies to political leaders, intellectuals, business people and many others. Many of them can certainly tell right from wrong, but are afraid to express their views. The events of the last few years have amplified four issues, which have always existed, but have never been as rampant as in the present upheaval in the region. A few more years may pass before everybody acknowledges that it is a World War, but we are already well into it. These are the four main pillars of the current World Conflict, or perhaps we should already refer to it as "the undeclared World War III": 1. The first element is the suicide murder. Suicide murders are not a new invention but they have been made popular, if I may use this expression, only lately. Even after September 11, it seems that most of the Western World does not yet understand this weapon. It is a very potent psychological weapon. Its real direct impact is relatively minor. The total number of casualties from hundreds of suicide murders within Israel in the last three years is much smaller than those due to car accidents. September 11 was quantitatively much less lethal than many earthquakes More people die from AIDS in one day in Africa than all the Russians who died in the hands of Chechnya-based Moslem suicide murderers since that conflict started. Saddam killed every month more people than all those who died from suicide murders since the Coalition occupation of Iraq. So what is all the fuss about suicide killings? It creates headlines. It is spectacular. It is frightening. It is a very cruel death with bodies dismembered and horrible severe lifelong injuries to many of the wounded. It is always shown on television in great detail. One such murder, with the help of hysterical media coverage, can destroy the tourism industry of a country for quite a while, as it did in Bali and in Turkey. But the real fear comes from the undisputed fact that no defense and no preventive measures can succeed against a determined suicide murderer. This has not yet penetrated the thinking of the Western World. The U.S . and Europe are constantly improving their defense against the last murder, not the next one. We may arrange for the best airport security in the world. But if you want to murder by suicide, you do not have to board a plane in order to explode yourself and kill many people. Who could stop a suicide murder in the midst of the crowded line waiting to be checked by the airport metal detector? How about the lines to the check-in counters in a busy travel period? Put a metal detector in front of every train station in Spain and the terrorists will get the buses. Protect the buses and they will explode in movie theaters, concert halls, supermarkets, shopping malls, schools and hospitals. Put guards in front of every concert hall and there will always be a line of people to be checked by the guards and this line will be the target, not to speak of killing the guards themselves. You can somewhat reduce your vulnerability by preventive and defensive measures and by strict border controls but not eliminate it and definitely not win the war in a defensive way. And it is a war! What is behind the suicide murders? Money, power and cold-blooded murderous incitement, nothing else. It has nothing to do with true fanatic religious beliefs. No Moslem preacher has ever blown himself up. No son of an Arab politician or religious leader has ever blown himself. No relative of anyone influential has done it. Wouldn't you expect some of the religious leaders to do it themselves, or to talk their sons into doing it, if this is truly a supreme act of religious fervor? Aren't they interested in the benefits of going to Heaven? Instead, they send outcast women, naive children, retarded people and young incited hotheads. They promise them the delights, mostly sexual, of the next world, and pay their families handsomely after the supreme act is performed and enough innocent people are dead. Suicide murders also have nothing to do with poverty and despair. The poorest region in the world, by far, is Africa. It never happens there. There are numerous desperate people in the world, in different cultures, countries and continents. Desperation does not provide anyone with explosives, reconnaissance and transportation. There was certainly more despair in Saddam's Iraq then in Paul Bremmer's Iraq, and no one exploded himself. A suicide murder is simply a horrible, vicious weapon of cruel, inhuman, cynical, well-funded terrorists, with no regard to human life, including the life of their fellow countrymen, but with very high regard to their own affluent well-being and their hunger for power. The only way to fight this new "popular" weapon is identical to the only way in which you fight organized crime or pirates on the high seas: the offensive way. Like in the case of organized crime, it is crucial that the forces on the offensive be united and it is crucial to reach the top of the crime pyramid. You cannot eliminate organized crime by arresting the little drug dealer in the street corner. You must go after the head of the "Family". If part of the public supports it, others tolerate it, many are afraid of it and some try to explain it away by poverty or by a miserable childhood, organized crime will thrive and so will terrorism. The United States understands this now, after September 11. Russia is beginning to understand it. Turkey understands it well. I am very much afraid that most of Europe still does not understand it. Unfortunately, it seems that Europe will understand it only after suicide murders arrive in Europe in a big way. In my humble opinion, this will definitely happen. The Spanish trains and the Istanbul bombings are only the beginning. The unity of the Civilized World in fighting this horror is absolutely indispensable. Until Europe wakes up, this unity will not be achieved. 2. The second ingredient is words, more precisely lies. Words can be lethal. They kill people. It is often said that politicians, diplomats and perhaps also lawyers and business people must sometimes lie, as part of their professional life. But the norms of politics and diplomacy are childish, in comparison with the level of incitement and total absolute deliberate fabrications, which have reached new heights in the region we are talking about. An incredible number of people in the Arab world believe that September 11 never happened, or was an American provocation or, even better, a Jewish plot. You all remember the Iraqi Minister of Information, Mr. Mouhamad Said al-Sahaf and his press conferences when the US forces were already inside Baghdad. Disinformation at time of war is an accepted tactic. But to stand, day after day, and to make such preposterous statements, known to everybody to be lies, without even being ridiculed in your own milieu, can only happen in this region. Mr. Sahaf eventually became a popular icon as a court jester, but this did not stop some allegedly respectable newspapers from giving him equal time. It also does not prevent the Western press from giving credence, every day, even now, to similar liars. After all, if you want to be an anti-Semite, there are subtle ways of doing it. You do not have to claim that the holocaust never happened, and that the Jewish temple in Jerusalem never existed. But millions of Moslems are told by their leaders that this is the case. When these same leaders make other statements, the Western media report them as if they could be true. It is a daily occurrence that the same people, who finance, arm and dispatch suicide murderers, condemn the act in English in front of western TV cameras, talking to a world audience, which even partly believes them. It is a daily routine to hear the same leader making opposite statements in Arabic to his people and in English to the rest of the world. Incitement by Arab TV, accompanied by horror pictures of mutilated bodies, has become a powerful weapon of those who lie, distort and want to destroy everything. Little children are raised on deep hatred and on admiration of so-called martyrs, and the Western World does not notice it because its own TV sets are mostly tuned to soap operas and game shows. I recommend to you, even though most of you do not understand Arabic, to watch Al Jazeera, from time to time. You will not believe your own eyes. But words also work in other ways, more subtle. A demonstration in Berlin, carrying banners supporting Saddam's regime and featuring three-year old babies dressed as suicide murderers, is defined by the press and by political leaders as a "peace demonstration". You may support or oppose the Iraq war, but to refer to fans of Saddam, Arafat or Bin Laden as peace activists is a bit too much. A woman walks into an Israeli restaurant in mid-day, eats, observes families with old people and children eating their lunch in the adjacent tables and pays the bill. She then blows herself up, killing 20 people, including many children, with heads and arms rolling around in the restaurant. She is called "martyr" by several Arab leaders and "activist" by the European press. Dignitaries condemn the act but visit her bereaved family and the money flows. There is a new game in town: The actual murderer is called "the military wing", the one who pays him, equips him and sends him is now called "the political wing" and the head of the operation is called the "spiritual leader". There are numerous other examples of such Orwellian nomenclature, used every day not only by terror chiefs but also by Western media. These words are much more dangerous than many people realize. They provide an emotional infrastructure for atrocities. It was Joseph Goebels who said that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it. He is now being outperformed by his successors. 3. The third aspect is money. Huge amounts of money, which could have solved many social problems in this dysfunctional part of the world, are channeled into three concentric spheres supporting death and murder. In the inner circle are the terrorists themselves. The money funds their travel, explosives, hideouts and permanent search for soft vulnerable targets. The inner circles are primarily financed by terrorist states like Iran and Syria, until recently also by Iraq and Libya and earlier also by some of the Communist regimes. These states, as well as the Palestinian Authority, are the safe havens of the wholesale murder vendors. They are surrounded by a second wider circle of direct supporters, planners, commanders, preachers, all of whom make a living, usually a very comfortable living, by serving as terror infrastructure. Finally, we find the third circle of so-called religious, educational and welfare organizations, which actually do some good, feed the hungry and provide some schooling, but brainwash a new generation with hatred, lies and ignorance. This circle operates mostly through mosques, madrasas and other religious establishments but also through inciting electronic and printed media. It is this circle that makes sure that women remain inferior, that democracy is unthinkable and that exposure to the outside world is minimal. It is also that circle that leads the way in blaming every-body outside the Moslem world, for the miseries of the region. The outer circle is largely financed by Saudi Arabia, but also by donations from certain Moslem communities in the United States and Europe and, to a smaller extent, by donations of European Governments to various NGO's and by certain United Nations organizations, whose goals may be noble, but they are infested and exploited by agents of the outer circle. The Saudi regime, of course, will be the next victim of major terror, when the inner circle will explode into the outer circle. The Saudis are beginning to understand it, but they fight the inner circles, while still financing the infrastructure at the outer circle. Figuratively speaking, this outer circle is the guardian, which makes sure that the people look and listen inwards to the inner circle of terror and incitement, rather than to the world outside. Some parts of this same outer circle actually operate as a result of fear from, or blackmail by, the inner circles. The horrifying added factor is the high birth rate. Half of the population of the Arab world is under the age of 20, the most receptive age to incitement, guaranteeing two more generations of blind hatred. Some of the leaders of these various circles live very comfortably on their loot. You meet their children in the best private schools in Europe, not in the training camps of suicide murderers. The Jihad "soldiers" join packaged death tours to Iraq and other hotspots, while some of their leaders ski in Switzerland. Mrs. Arafat, who lives in Paris with her daughter, receives tens of thousands of dollars per month from the allegedly bankrupt Palestinian Authority, while a typical local ringleader of the Al-Aksa brigade, reporting to Arafat, receives only a cash payment of a couple of hundred dollars, for performing murders at the retail level. 4. The fourth element of the current world conflict is the total breaking of all laws. The civilized world believes in democracy, the rule of law, including international law, human rights, free speech and free press, among other liberties. There are naive old-fashioned habits such as respecting religious sites and symbols, not using ambulances and hospitals for acts of war, avoiding the mutilation of dead bodies and not using children as human shields or human bombs. Never in history, not even in the Nazi period, was there such total disregard of all of the above as we observe now. Every student of political science debates how you prevent an anti-democratic force from winning a democratic election and abolishing democracy. Other aspects of a civilized society must also have limitations. Can a policeman open fire on someone trying to kill him? Can a government listen to phone conversations of terrorists and drug dealers? Does free speech protects you when you shout "fire" in a crowded theater? Should there be death penalty, for deliberate multiple murders? These are the old-fashioned dilemmas. But now we have an entire new set. Do you raid a mosque, which serves as a terrorist ammunition storage? Do you return fire, if you are attacked from a hospital? Do you storm a church taken over by terrorists who took the priests hostages? Do you search every ambulance after a few suicide murderers use ambulances to reach their targets? Do you strip every woman because one pretended to be pregnant and carried a suicide bomb on her belly? Do you shoot back at someone trying to kill you, standing deliberately behind a group of children? Do you raid terrorist headquarters, hidden in a mental hospital? Do you shoot an arch-murderer who deliberately moves from one location to another, always surrounded by children? All of these happen daily in Iraq and in the Palestinian areas. What do you do? Well, you do not want to face the dilemma. But it cannot be avoided. Suppose, for the sake of discussion, that someone would openly stay in a well-known address in Teheran, hosted by the Iranian Government and financed by it, executing one atrocity after another in Spain or in France, killing hundreds of innocent people, accepting responsibility for the crimes, promising in public TV interviews to do more of the same, while the Government of Iran issues public condemnations of his acts but continues to host him, invite him to official functions and treat him as a great dignitary. I leave it to you as homework to figure out what Spain or France would have done, in such a situation. The problem is that the civilized world is still having illusions about the rule of law in a totally lawless environment. It is trying to play ice hockey by sending a ballerina ice-skater into the rink or to knock out a heavyweight boxer by a chess player. In the same way that no country has a law against cannibals eating its prime minister, because such an act is unthinkable, international law does not address killers shooting from hospitals, mosques and ambulances, while being protected by their Government or society. International law does not know how to handle someone who sends children to throw stones, stands behind them and shoots with immunity and cannot be arrested because he is sheltered by a Government. International law does not know how to deal with a leader of murderers who is royally and comfortably hosted by a country, which pretends to condemn his acts or just claims to be too weak to arrest him. The amazing thing is that all of these crooks demand protection under international law, and define all those who attack them as "war criminals," with some Western media repeating the allegations. The good news is that all of this is temporary, because the evolution of international law has always adapted itself to reality. The punishment for suicide murder should be death or arrest before the murder, not during and not after. After every world war, the rules of international law have changed, and the same will happen after the present one. But during the twilight zone, a lot of harm can be done. The picture I described here is not pretty. What can we do about it? In the short run, only fight and win. In the long run - only educate the next generation and open it to the world. The inner circles can and must be destroyed by force. The outer circle cannot be eliminated by force. Here we need financial starvation of the organizing elite, more power to women, more education, counter propaganda, boycott whenever feasible and access to Western media, internet and the international scene. Above all, we need a total absolute unity and determination of the civilized world against all three circles of evil. Allow me, for a moment, to depart from my alleged role as a taxi driver and return to science. When you have a malignant tumor, you may remove the tumor itself surgically. You may also starve it by preventing new blood from reaching it from other parts of the body, thereby preventing new "supplies" from expanding the tumor. If you want to be sure, it is best to do both. But before you fight and win, by force or otherwise, you have to realize that you are in a war, and this may take Europe a few more years. In order to win, it is necessary to first eliminate the terrorist regimes, so that no Government in the world will serve as a safe haven for these people. I do not want to comment here on whether the American-led attack on Iraq was justified from the point of view of weapons of mass destruction or any other pre-war argument, but I can look at the post-war map of Western Asia. Now that Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya are out, two and a half terrorist states remain: Iran, Syria and Lebanon, the latter being a Syrian colony. Perhaps Sudan should be added to the list. As a result of the conquest of Afghanistan and Iraq, both Iran and Syria are now totally surrounded by territories unfriendly to them. Iran is encircled by Afghanistan, by the Gulf States, Iraq and the Moslem republics of the former Soviet Union. Syria is surrounded by Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Israel. This is a significant strategic change and it applies strong pressure on the terrorist countries. It is not surprising that Iran is so active in trying to incite a Shiite uprising in Iraq. I do not know if the American plan was actually to encircle both Iran and Syria, but that is the resulting situation. In my humble opinion, the number one danger to the world today is Iran and its regime. It definitely has ambitions to rule vast areas and to expand in all directions. It has an ideology, which claims supremacy over Western culture. It is ruthless. It has proven that it can execute elaborate terrorist acts without leaving too many traces, using Iranian Embassies. It is clearly trying to develop nuclear weapons. Its so-called moderates and conservatives play their own virtuoso version of the "good-cop versus bad-cop" game Iran sponsors Syrian terrorism, it is certainly behind much of the action in Iraq, it is fully funding the Hezbollah and, through it, the Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad, it performed acts of terror at least in Europe and in South America and probably also in Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia and it truly leads a multi-national terror consortium, which includes, as minor players, Syria, Lebanon and certain Shiite elements in Iraq. Nevertheless, most European countries still trade with Iran, try to appease it and refuse to read the clear signals. In order to win the war it is also necessary to dry the financial resources of the terror conglomerate. It is pointless to try to understand the subtle differences between the Sunni terror of Al Qaeda and Hamas and the Shiite terror of Hezbollah, Sadr and other Iranian inspired enterprises. When it serves their business needs, all of them collaborate beautifully. It is crucial to stop Saudi and other financial support of the outer circle, which is the fertile breeding ground of terror. It is important to monitor all donations from the Western World to Islamic organizations, to monitor the finances of international relief organizations and to react with forceful economic measures to any small sign of financial aid to any of the three circles of terrorism. It is also important to act decisively against the campaign of lies and fabrications and to monitor those Western media who collaborate with it out of naivety, financial interests or ignorance. Above all, never surrender to terror. No one will ever know whether the recent elections in Spain would have yielded a different result, if not for the train bombings a few days earlier. But it really does not matter. What matters is that the terrorists believe that they caused the result and that they won by driving Spain out of Iraq. The Spanish story will surely end up being extremely costly to other European countries, including France, who is now expelling inciting preachers and forbidding veils and including others who sent troops to Iraq. In the long run, Spain itself will pay even more. Is the solution a democratic Arab world? If by democracy we mean free elections but also free press, free speech, a functioning judicial system, civil liberties, equality to women, free international travel, exposure to international media and ideas, laws against racial incitement and against defamation, and avoidance of lawless behavior regarding hospitals, places of worship and children, then yes, democracy is the solution. If democracy is just free elections, it is likely that the most fanatic regime will be elected, the one whose incitement and fabrications are the most inflammatory. We have seen it already in Algeria and, to a certain extent, in Turkey. It will happen again, if the ground is not prepared very carefully.[NOTE HAMAS VICTORY RECENTLY] On the other hand, a certain transition democracy, as in Jordan, may be a better temporary solution, paving the way for the real thing, perhaps in the same way that an immediate sudden democracy did not work in Russia and would not have worked in China. I have no doubt that the civilized world will prevail. But the longer it takes us to understand the new landscape of this war, the more costly and painful the victory will be. Europe, more than any other region, is the key. Its understandable recoil from wars, following the horrors of World War II, may cost thousands of additional innocent lives, before the tide will turn." 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Hamas' recent stunning victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections has forced the international community to face a precarious challenge. As the U.S. and Israel regroup to to deal with unapologetic Islamo-Fascists running Palestinian office, several pertinent questions beg analysis: (1) Why did the Palestinians utilize a democratic experiment to elect Islamo-Fascists? (2) Why are Israeli leftists using the occasion to paint the new rulers of Palestinians as forces of social justice?
To discuss these and other questions relating to Hamas' takeover of the Palestinian Authority, we have assembled a distinguished panel. Our guests today:
David Keyes, who assisted a former Israeli ambassador to the U.N. and specialized on terrorism at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He recently returned from the Middle East where he co-authored academic papers with the former U.N. ambassador and the former head of Israeli military intelligence research and assessment. His latest paper, entitled "Al-Qaeda Infiltration of Gaza: A Post-Disengagement Assessment" was published by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
David Gutmann, Emeritus professor of Psychology and Behavioral Sciences at North-Western university Medical School, in Chicago. As a clinician, he has practiced and taught intensive psychotherapy. As a researcher, he has conducted psychological studies of the Galilean and the Golan Heights Druse, as well as the Bedouin of the Negev and Sinai deserts.
FP: David Keyes, Kenneth Levin and David Gutmann, welcome to Frontpage Symposium.
David Gutmann, let's begin with you.
In July 2000 in the Camp David talks, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians 95% of their negotiating demands, their own sovereign state in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, more than 90 percent of the West Bank, and a capital in Jerusalem.
Barak offered the Palestinians sovereignty over all Arab-populated parts of East Jerusalem, over all of the Old City except the Jewish Quarter, and over the Temple Mount, with Jewish sovereignty only over the Western Wall below the Mount.
The Palestinians had a chance to enter a new era of peace, with their own state, on incredibly generous terms.
They chose death.
Yasser Arafat rewarded the Israelis for their offer by spawning another onslaught of gruesome terror – the al-Aqsa Intifada.
Instead of choosing peace and their own state, the Palestinians decided it was a better idea to strap bombs onto their children and to send them into Israeli buses, cafés and teenage discos to blow themselves up alongside innocent Jews.
Then, as this madness ensued, we did all could to engender a democratic experiment among the Palestinians, hoping that democracy would free them from their addiction to mass death and suicide.
They finally got a democratic process. They took it and elected Islamo-Fascists.
Let me ask you a two-fold question now:
(1) What pathologies spawn a death cult like this?
(2) Many on the Israeli Left have taken the occasion of the Hamas victory to paint Hamas -- which has vowed to exterminate Jews -- as some kind of social justice party that is concerned with peace and the common welfare.
This is just as obscene as the psychology of Hamas itself. What gives here?
Gutmann: In voting for Hamas, did the Palestinians opt for war and death, or for war and victory?
I contend that they always opt for victory, but because their grandiosity leads to overconfidence and under-preparation, they end up with defeat.
In '47 an d '48 the Palestinian leadership chose war instead of the state that the UN offered them in a partitioned Palestine. It was the wrong choice: it led to defeat and to the loss of the lands designated for their state. Nevertheless, their motives in going to war were murderous, not self-destructive: they had every reason to believe that they would win a war of extermination against a relative handful of under-armed Jews - the same "Children of Death" who had gone unresistingly to the gas chambers.
And the Palestinians came pretty close to realizing this Holocaustic vision: a large proportion of Israel's precious younger generation had to die in order to stop them.
Again, the Palestinians had good reason to be optimistic in the second round of their war against the Jews, when Arafat led them into the Al Aqsa Intifada. Then, Israeli society was split between rather ineffectual Hawks and Peace-At-Any-Price-Niks, and Israel's borders were terribly porous to suicide bombers who struck almost every day.
Meanwhile, the Jewish state was condemned - also on a daily basis - by the UN, the Brits and the Europeans. Worst of all, the IDF had recently and for the first time run away from an enemy force: it had bugged out of Southern Lebanon with Hezbollah right behind it, leaving weapons, intact military installations and unprotected Christian allies in its wake.
Given this background, the Barak/Clinton offer of East Jerusalem and almost all of the West Bank was not welcomed by Arafat as a token of Israeli generosity, but as evidence of terminal Israeli weakness: "The Jews are beaten, they are suing for peace. If Hezbollah could chase them out of Lebanon, then Allah willing my Fatah boys can chase them from all of Palestine."
It took the election of Sharon, Operation Defensive Shield, the PLO's crushing defeat at Jenin, and Arafat's house arrest in Ramallah to temporarily correct this grandiose, essentially paranoid delusion. But only for a short while: Islamic dreams of slaughtering a cowardly, effeminate enemy can be temporarily refuted by reality, but they die hard.
They flourish again when, in Arab eyes, the enemy reveals some shameful weakness.
Churchill once said, "The Hun is either at your feet or at your throat." Similarly with the Arabs; and I suggest that their oscillations between quiescence and ferocity are driven by the Shame/Honor dynamic that is central to Arab psyche and Arab society. Shame and loss of honor, while toxic to the Arab, cannot be metabolized within the Arab self. Instead, the stigma must be ejected, spat out from the self, and downloaded onto lesser beings: women, defeated enemy, infidels and especially Jews. Once the weakness that originated in the Arab is discovered in the Other, then - symbolically or literally - he must be killed.
The shamed enemy has come to represent some hated part of the Arab's persona, and Killing him is a substitute for suicide, for the killing of the self. This is the psychodrama that Zionist Jews and Arabs have been playing out in Palestine for almost a hundred years.
Most recently, having crushed the Second Intifada, Sharon trades Gaza, which is a liability, for the strategic West Bank settlements around Jerusalem that he intends to keep. These would be guarded behind the Security Wall - the barrier that will, in the absence of a negotiating partner, unilaterally define Israel's final boundaries. Sharon has drawn back the better to advance; but - particularly now that Sharon is comatose - Hamas spins Sharon's calculated disengagement into a great victory for their own gunmen: "the Jews are running away from us. This is only the beginning: we will make them drown in the sea."
In it's turn, the Palestinian street sees in Hamas, the "liberators" of Gaza, the agents of final victory over Israel, and votes them into power. As in 1947 and 2001, the Palestinians smell blood in the water, indulge their triumphalist fantasies, and again choose the fever-dream of total victory over peace and statehood. They are by now so seriously addicted to Judeo-cidal Dreams that, like true junkies, they will pay almost anything - statehood, peace, the future of their children, life under Sharia law - in order to feed their habit. And in this hectic scenario, Hamas is the more reliable pusher. Again, the fantasied goals are murderous, destructive towards others; it is the Palestinian willingness to pay an exorbitant price for them that is self-destructive.
Not all Palestinians share this genocidal syndrome. Some no doubt voted against Fatah's corruption, while others elected for Hamas' Welfare State (Hitler's wartime charity, Winter Hilfe, comes to mind). But for Hamas' True Believers, why is the addiction to blood-drenched fantasy so powerful? Why this overwhelming desire to see the Jews blown to pieces, terrified, and running? Again, we must refer to the dynamics of shame: I saw the Palestinians abandon their villages in 1947 without a fight, even before we of the Israeli Hagana had enough guns or men to make them run. Their resulting shame was compounded by their Arab "brothers" in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and egypt, who contemptuously shoved the dishonoured Palestinians into squalid camps. There, refugee kids grew up hearing taunts like these: "You Palestinian whores who sold your land to the Jews, and then ran away!
To repeat, Shame/Honor societies cannot manage shame except by inflicting it back on the enemy who shamed them. Until that happens, the timeless sense of humiliation festers in the soul, and breeds Psychosis: Arab leaders still bristle at the word "Crusade," and demand the return of Seville and Andaluz (Andalusia), since 1490 the "occupied territories" of Spain.
So of course the Palestinians will always sabotage - as they did in 1947, 2000 and now in 2006 – a negotiated peace with Israel. For the Palestinians, the only acceptable negotiating partners are Jews who mirror the Palestinians of '47 and '48 : defeated Jews, SHAMED Jews whose terrified mobs run like lemmings to the sea. Good faith negotiations with a still powerful, still undefeated Israel means living forever with the shame of NAQBA , and giving up the wet-dream of a total, redemptive victory.
Thus far, the Palestinian addiction to such orgiastic visions has proven too strong to be broken. In some ways Israeli and American-Jewish peaceniks are even more pathological than the Palestinians: it is the former who exhibit motivated rather than incidental self-destructiveness.
If the Palestinians constitute a typical Shame/Honor culture, then by contrast, Jews - especially Peaceniks - constitute a Guilt culture. The Arabs worry about what has been done to them by way of insults and humiliations; the Jews worry about has been done to others by them, or in their name. History is a tale of blood, and statehood shoved the Jews back into history, into the middle of the battle, where the choices were to fight or die. The Israelis proved to be successful warriors, but many Jews - Israelis as well as Americans - have sickened of the killing, and are fashioning a separate peace. They have reached the point where they plead the enemy's cause against their own people, and ultimately against their own children. Currently, they are starting to spin HAMAS as the wardens of a benign welfare state – Mother Teresa with a suicide belt.
The Palestinians won't be Shame-free until they have defeated the Jews; the Peacenik Jews won't be guilt-free until they have helped them do it.
Keyes: Hamas' victory in the Palestinian election shatters the myth that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is driven by "a small group of fanatics on both sides." It has reaffirmed the existence of profound radicalism among the general Palestinian community. The fact that a mass-murdering terrorist group was permitted to run in the first place was a disgrace to democracy. Just as Nazis cannot run in German elections and al-Qaeda is not allowed to run in elections anywhere, so it should have been with Hamas. In any case, the election was primarily a choice between two terrorist organizations—Fatah and Hamas.
Hamas has killed about 600 Israelis, executed nearly half of the suicide-bombings from 2000-2005, colluded with al-Qaeda, and encouraged the defeat of America in Iraq. Hamas couldn't be less of a legitimate "resistance" group if it tried; a mere two percent of its attacks have been aimed at military targets. For these reasons and many more, Hamas—like al-Qaeda—must be utterly liquidated.
So why did the Palestinians elect this wretched organization? To be sure, in part it was a rejection of the systemic cronyism and dysfunction of Fatah. But Hamas' main goals since its founding have been the destruction of Israel in its entirety and the implementation of strict Islamic law. Through hardly conducted in an environment of true tolerance or freedom, a majority of Palestinians have expressed solidarity with these goals through the ballot box. At the very least, it can be said that Hamas' genocidal aims did not perturb the Palestinians enough to actually sway their vote. Indeed, it is the Palestinian people who bear the responsibility for this latest calamity. Even if the average German citizen's primary goal in the 1930s was not the eradication of the Jews, they clearly did not mind electing someone whose chief aim was exactly that.
Hamas' influence can be blamed in part on the nearly two decades of dictatorship and oppression under Arafat. Tyranny augments fundamentalism as subjugated populations seek an escape from daily suffering and repression. Totalitarianism and the absence of basic human freedoms are the well-spring of extremism and terror. The rampant hate-speech spewed from Palestinian media and mosques have also have also fostered radicalism. Palestinian children are told daily by their leaders, teachers, preachers, and in some cases even families, that martyrdom and suicide are heroic acts rewarded by eternal bliss. The amazing thing is not that so many Palestinians have chosen to strap bombs to their chest to kill Jews, but that more have not. From children's suicide-camps in Gaza to an-Najah University's glorified re-creation of a suicide bombing at an Israeli pizza parlor, generations of Palestinians have been indoctrinated into a cult of death.
As for any Israeli delusions of working with Hamas or moderating them, it can only be said that we have been here before. So much of what is being said about Hamas today is exactly what was said of the PLO two decades ago. Arafat was brought back from Tunis and needed only to sign a piece of paper renouncing terror. He uttered a handful of hollow platitudes denouncing violence in English and the world went forth appeasing this murderous tyrant. He became a frequent and honored guest at the White House. Rabin even said that Arafat could fight terrorism with greater efficiency because he was not accountable to human rights organizations. This was the warped mindset that led to the disaster of Oslo. Meanwhile, Arafat never gave up his dream of destroying Israel and certainly never stopped funding suicide-bombers. Emboldened by Israel's recent unilateral disengagement, Hamas promises to be even worse than Arafat. The fact that Hamas provides social services to Palestinians should be about as relevant as if al-Qaeda handed out blankets to poor Afghanis after 9/11.
But most Israelis are tired of fighting and will do nearly anything to end the conflict. Israelis are a peace-seeking people who have been besieged by implacable enemies for so long that they simply want it to end. Some on the Israeli left have craved peace so badly that they have become delusional in the process; they are willing to sign a deal with whoever has paper. But overall, Israel has shown incredible tenacity in the face of seemingly endless terror. Nevertheless, perhaps fatigue is taking a toll. Consider the following two statements by leaders in a time of war:
Winston Churchill in 1940: "We shall not flag nor fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France and on the seas and oceans; we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island whatever the cost may be; we shall fight on beaches, landing grounds, in fields, in streets and on the hills. We shall never surrender…"
Ehud Olmert in 2005: "We are tired of fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies, we want that we will be able to live in an entirely different environment of relations with our enemies."
That about says it all.
Levin: I agree with David Gutmann that the Palestinians' pursuit of their terror war against Israel, and election of Hamas, are less suicidal than genocidal. I also agree with his comments on the psychodynamics underlying the Palestinians', and broader Arab world's, genocidal agenda, except that I would emphasize the role of Arab leaders in cultivating and channeling individuals' psychodynamic predilections into murderous hatred toward perceived external enemies, most notable Jews.
On the recent Palestinian election, there has been much debate as to whether votes for Hamas were votes against PA/PLO corruption or for Hamas's exterminationist platform. But the distinction is based on a false premise in that - as David Keyes notes - the PA/PLO likewise promoted an exterminationist platform, using its media, mosques and schools over the past decade to further indoctrinate Palestinians into embracing Jew-hatred and believing in the illegitimacy of Israel, the necessity of its annihilation, and its ripeness for destruction.
As to Israelis, and western Jews, who ignore the other side's explicit agenda and replace it with fantasies of what they want the other side's agenda to be, fantasies that the Palestinians are simply asking for redress of supposed Israeli misbehavior and that sufficient concessions will end the conflict, they are the truly suicidal party, willing to risk their own lives and those of their children, their co-religionists and their countrymen for the sake of promoting their delusions.
The chief voice in this camp, Yossi Beilin, said explicitly that he was not willing to live in a world in which existential problems - such as Palestinian hostility - cannot be solved, and he chose to solve it not by confronting the enemy but by prettifying him, risking the very survival of his nation for the sake of his fantasies.
As I argue in my book, The Oslo Syndrome, embracing the perspectives of one's enemies is a common phenomenon within chronically besieged populations, whether minorities marginalized, denigrated and attacked by the surrounding society or small nations under chronic siege by their neighbors. It has been a recurrent theme in Jewish Diaspora history as well as in Israel.
A major counterweight to the psychological corrosiveness of besiegement must be leaders who convey to the community its true choices and bolster its will to resist. The Israeli-Arab conflict is ultimately a test of wills in that Israel has and will retain the military capacity to defend itself - despite its small population, its lack of strategic depth, and the rabidness of its enemies. It is self-delusion and loss of heart to defend itself that is likely to remain its greatest threat.
From this perspective, the 2005 statement by Ehud Olmert, cited by David Keyes, about Israelis being "tired of fighting" is an enormous dereliction of responsibility that, unless vigorously retracted, renders him unfit to lead the nation.
The Israeli people's response to the terror war launched against them in September, 2000, demonstrated that it was the Oslo era leadership, not the people, that had psychologically capitulated and was no longer willing to fight those determined to destroy Israel. The nation deserves leaders capable of reinforcing the nation's will, as Churchill did for England, not undermining it.
Gutmann: At the outset of this symposium, Jamie asked us to comment on the Palestinian's "death wish." But Dr. Levin, David Keyes and myself hold that the Palestinians have a death wish towards others, and that the truly suicidal version of Thanatos is lodged not in them, but in the Jewish Doves of Israel and the States. The Palestinians have no compunctions about killing: for them the act and its attendant fantasies have become eroticized - hence, addictive. They want to kill Jews so badly that they are willing to kill themselves in order to get at us.
Mr. Keyes and I agree that The Palestinians resemble the Germans under Hitler: convinced by him of their victimization at the hands of inferior enemies who did not beat them fairly on the battlefield, the Germans poured their resulting "Victim's Rage" into various genocidal enterprises, including the Holocaust. Sharing similar delusions, the Palestinians turn their own version of Victim Rage against the Jew.
And as Mr. Keyes points out, too many Jews have become counterplayers in this psychodrama - enablers of the Arab psychosis. Guilty by nature, convinced of their own sins against the victimized multitude of third-world innocents, the Jewish Doves make the gestures of surrender. Turning the bared throat towards the knife they invite the Palestinians to punish them and their guilty nation for their sins.
I grew up among Jews like these, and agree with Dr. Levin that they are the truly "suicidal" party. While I'm surprised to see them proliferate in Israel, I can understand them. What I don't understand is the passive response of so many European Christians, citizens of advanced Democracies, to the increasingly arrogant, murderous challenge that they face from the Eurabian Jihadists. Like their grandfathers who appeased Hitler, the European Doves find all kinds of reasons to spin and minimize the Jihadist fury that now openly mocks and threatens their comfortable lifeways.
The appeaser's whimper, "Just give Herr Hitler the Sudetenland, and that will be the end of his territorial demands" is echoed today, vis-a-vis Hamas: "Make those Jews give Hamas title to Jerusalem, allow the return of the 'Refugees', and the Palestinians will be happy democrats, participants in the comity of nations.."
In the Christian case, I don't believe that "Jewish" guilt is the driving motive behind their covert surrender. Instead, I sense a kind of narcissistic passivity, which is much less treatable. Post-war affluence sponsored the "Me" generations – the narcissistic personality of our times, which is founded in the demand for personal gratification. The individual demands for sexual conquest and material acquisition are idealized, and the capacity to revere entities beyond the self - family, nation, heritage, great causes and inspiring leaders - is blunted. In effect, the Jihadists reverse this syndrome. Despite their psychopathology (or perhaps, because of it) they are quite ready, even eager, to lay down their lives for nation, heritage, religion and charismatic leaders. They are like the Japanese Kamikazes, the suicide pilots who almost destroyed our Pacific fleet at the end of WWII. Confronted by God-obsessed Islam, the self-obsessed Europeans are finding all kinds of excuses to ignore and avoid the challenge. That kind of magical thinking did not work against Hitler and Tojo, and it won't work now.
We face a long struggle. As Dr. Levin reminds us, in the absence of "Churchillian" leaders, it is one that we may not win.
Keyes: Dr. Levin is absolutely correct to highlight Yossi Beilin as a symbol of the deep denial of reality that permeates many on the Israeli left. For Beilin, it seems, no moral red lines exist, whatsoever. No person—no matter how evil or corrupt—is beyond empowering or negotiating with. This is the only possible explanation as to how he could have openly called for releasing arch-terrorist Marwan Barghouti from prison in order to lead the Palestinian people. There is an Arabic proverb which states "Stupidity is a disease without a medicine," and I think such words apply here. The warped mentality that allows someone to advocate freeing and empowering a convicted murderer and terrorist mastermind, is in large part why peace eludes us today. It will take sharp moral clarity and Herculean will to defeat global irredentism and jihad; those who ascribe to Beilin's word-view, and learned not a whit from the mistakes of Oslo, certainly do not help in this fight.
Dr. Gutmann also raises important points regarding European appeasement. Undoubtedly, this is not a new story as Europe has historically done more than its fair share of appeasing the most brutal leaders known to man. In the modern sense, this means sending weapons and aid to the worst regimes on Earth. Take one look at the oil contracts and weapons deals that many European countries had with Saddam up until his final moments as President of Iraq. Add money skimmed from the UN Oil-For-Food program and it instantly becomes clear why certain nations were so adamantly opposed regime change in Iraq. European oil money funding mass-murder in Iraq—that was the real "blood for oil," not America's campaign of liberation against a fascistic tyrant.
Russia and China, incidentally, are often even worse in the appeasement department than their European counter-parts. Russia, for example, sends the government of Sudan, in the midst of their campaign of genocide in Darfur, the vast majority of its weapons. From oil contracts in Iran to unceasing appeasement of Hamas, much of Europe and certainly Russia and China, actively subjugate democracy and aid the forces of tyranny and terror.
If there was any doubt as to who is an appeaser of terror, simply observe who invites Hamas into their capitals. One by one, seemingly giddy at the prospect of defending yet another murderous terrorist group, Iran, Jordan, Russia, Turkey, and even South Africa, are granting Hamas political legitimacy and a platform from which to spew hateful rhetoric. At a time when this unrepentant terrorist organization needs to be totally isolated and indeed destroyed, certain countries are welcoming their leaders with open arms. Some even speak of sending financial aid to the government of Hamas-stan. The lesson radical movements throughout the world are learning is that if you kill enough civilians (especially Jews) then you too can be invited as an honored guest to Ankara, Moscow and a host of other metropolitan capitals. Who knows, you might even be funded by the European Union! If radical jihad and terrorism are to be quashed, then precisely the opposite message must be sent. Terror—no matter what the grievance—must never extract political concession.
Levin: None of the genocidal forces that have created havoc in the Middle East and beyond in recent decades, not Saddam's regime in Iraq, or the Iranian mullahs, or the Sudanese leadership, or Arafat's PLO or the Palestinians' Islamist alternatives, would have attained their capacity for mayhem had they not enjoyed the support of Western, most notably European, powers. The Europeans have indulged them first and foremost because to do so has been very lucrative. Profit consistently outweighed any potential concern for these forces' victims, such as Iraq's Kurds or Sudan's blacks, and it appears that for many Europeans the murderous Palestinian assault on the Jews of Israel was not even a weak counterweight to the profit motive that drives indulgence of all things Arab but was rather an additional incentive to business as usual.
Europe's cynicism has been reinforced by the narcissism described by Dr. Gutmann, a narcissism characterized by a focus on personal gratification and a perception of little beyond the personal as meaningful. This indifference to the world beyond one's self is distinct from the self-involvement found among the acolytes of the Israeli Left. In Israel, such narcissism is largely a cultivated stance with a long pedigree in the history of Jews seeking to detach themselves from a besieged Jewry. A common response among such souls has long been to ostentatiously declare themselves free of any identity beyond their individuality and so properly exempt from being the object of popular negative attitudes toward Jews. The narcissism rampant in Europe evolved in the context of an American security umbrella under which for half a century nothing significant was asked or expected of western Europe.
A consequence of both the cynicism and the narcissism is that Europe has been prepared to see large numbers of people murdered elsewhere without feeling any need to rethink or refashion its policies. The question is how much mayhem will it require at home before there is an effective shift in policies. It is likely that the body count will have to be high and both the terror assault and the backlash will turn ugly at best before Europe fully sheds its torpor and fashions an effective response. If one looks for Churchillian leadership, it is hard to find in Europe today even the remnants of a cultural milieu that could produce a Churchill.
Given the realities of contemporary Europe, almost the entire burden for fighting the Islamofascist onslaught will continue to fall - as is all too obvious - on America. In view of the popularity of the politics of self-delusion even in America, it is yet to be seen how steadfast even the American effort will be; or, more precisely, how much will be lost before that steadfastness firmly asserts itself.
FP: David Keyes, Kenneth Levin and David Gutmann, thank you for joining Frontpage Symposium.