Thursday, October 30, 2014

Arab Violence and Palestinian Identity

On the 22nd of October 2014 an East Jerusalem Arab drove his car into a group of people waiting for the Jerusalem light rail service. Two people, a baby and a new immigrant subsequently died as a result of this act of terror. It happened as violence has all but prevented the service from connecting the two halves of the city, effectively re-dividing Jerusalem for the first time since 1967.  At the same time, riots on the Temple Mount put a stop to visits by Jews or anyone else interested in visiting Judaism’s holiest site.

One of Judaism’s greatest innovations was for worship to become an intellectual exercise and not an act that was dependent on geography, physical artifact or structure.  Nevertheless, power has always demanded of its rulers an imposing physical space as demonstration of their commanding presence.  It is as if we are unable to emotionally detach ourselves completely from the Golden Calf.  And this applies to most of the world’s faiths today and all of them, at some time in their history. If we recognize this condition as a statement of a human need for physical reassurance then we can also understand both the war waged against us and part of the response that is required from us.

Throughout Israel a conflict over identity is being fought. As distance between Israel’s founding fathers (and mothers) widens, Arabs born in Israel are becoming more Israeli and less Arab. This is a good thing because successful integration in any society is based on a shared identity which may take a single generation to achieve or even two or three generations if there is opposition to this integration.  

An ethnic identity is the only thing that keeps Israel’s Arab citizens ‘Palestinian,’ and even that is a lie because Arab identity is postulated on a trans-national ‘universalist’ ethnic indivisibility.

A national identity is tribal and to the fundamentalist Muslim, un-Islamic. In the mythology of the Arab founding narrative Muhammad chose the Arabs for his religious revelation and not the ethnic inhabitants of one geographically limited area.  It may be resented by non-Arab Muslims but it is impossible to deny the influence it has had over Near-Eastern politics and ethnic insecurity.

It explains the ethnic bigotry of some of Israel’s Arab members of parliament. It explains the reason why Arabs who renounce this racist faux-legal construct of third generation Israeli-Palestinian identity are violently opposed by professional Palestinian agitators and anti-Zionists. The recent case of a teenager forced to flee for his life from his kith and kin occurred solely because of his public announcement that he was an Israeli Muslim.  The viciousness of the Arab reaction is indicative of the threat felt by racists who fear for the fight over what constitutes a legitimate identity. They fear that this fight may be taken into their home territory.

That ‘brave’ 17 year-old teenage boy (as referred to immediately above) is a relative of the anti-Zionist MK (Member of Knesset) Hanin Zoabi. What is remarkable is that she appears to have committed an act of criminal incitement when she justified the kidnapping of three Israeli seminarians who were almost immediately thereafter murdered.   Her public denunciation of her young relative was on first reflection mild compared to her public justification for kidnapping. She derided him as “from a divorced family. His mother now lives in Nazareth Illit, where he studies at a Jewish school. He's sleazy. He's distorted his identity."

That Hanin Zoabi MK does not now languish in prison is a display of monumental cowardice by Israel’s parliamentary and judicial leadership.  This case clearly demonstrates the fascism that is intrinsic to the Palestinian cause. So the question is - how do we fight this war?

If according to the current narrative a Jew cannot be a Palestinian, then conversely, a Palestinian identity is invalidated by adoption of a Jewish or Israeli identity.

Many years ago Yasser Arafat famously dismissed the suggestion that a Jewish missionary effort might help to resolve the conflict between the two sides by threatening to flood Israel with millions of Palestinians who would ‘convert’ to Judaism in order to take advantage of Israel’s Law of Return.  He was bluffing of course. Proselytes away from Islam are tortured and then murdered in the Arab world. Again it is viewed as an act of ethnic betrayal.   Identity politics is the Arab way to bully the rest of us into adopting a defensive position. In our post-modern Western world we reject specific national identities as countering a harmonious inter-ethnic existence.  But we permit it to our minorities if they are vocal enough and violent enough in their opposition to us.

The issue of resolving Palestine – Israel is therefore also hampered by ultra-orthodox control over religious identity.   Mass conversion would be impossible to contemplate and would take centuries to actuate.

Just as Christians, Muslims and Druze are able to settle almost anywhere in Israel, the reverse must similarly apply.  It is mainly Arab apartheid that actively prevents Jews settling amongst Arabs.   Jewish missionary activity would break down this brick wall of opposition to Arab integration in Israel and it would help to marginalize Israel’s racist opponents both in Israel and in the West by exposing the real nature of their opposition to Jewish self-determination.   The media must be encouraged to openly debate this Arab particularistic opposition and yes, it would expose Jewish insecurities about their own religious identity as well as the issues that ultra-orthodox authority have created within Israeli society (as well as internationally).  Removing religious coercion would focus religious competition – identity has always been a competition for “souls.”

How to respond to the inevitable riots against integration? Counter them by building thousands of housing units for demobilized soldiers in every town that threatens violence.

Within Israel, the twin actions of encouraging an Israeli identity amongst Arabs and prosecuting those people who threaten this freedom to choose their identity would force everyone to consider their racist positions and to reconcile those positions within a democratic and Western orientated Jewish State.  It would lower the heat in Israel’s parliament because passionate positions on intra-Israeli identity are not based on inclusion and as such discourage equality and kinship within society.

And last, it would go some way towards resolving the Palestine-Israel conflict because without a Palestinian base “in-country” there would be no support in Israel, by Arabs, for a Palestinian “Return.”  Supporters of the Palestinian Right of Return in Europe and the Americas could only then reconcile their support through antisemitic argument that would be obvious to everyone.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

ISIL. Conquest and Root Causes

This is the Final part of a 3 part series.

ISIL or IS (the Islamic State as they prefer to be known) are no more than or less than another, in a long line of Islamist revolutionary movements. Their theatrical acts of torture and their public murders have solid roots in ‘revolutionary’ warfare. Extremists will willingly point to the Prophets own actions to justify their behavior. Muhammad publicly beheaded between 300 and 900 male opponents from the Jewish tribe of Qurayza and then gave his victims wives and children to his loyal followers, (in payment for services rendered).

Terror always works to intimidate weaker tribes but if ISIL are bombed out of Syria they will melt away into Iraq and Lebanon, and if permitted, into Turkey.

As a nation, Turkey has thus far successfully integrated a fundamentalist ideology into its main political infrastructure in direct contradiction to the secularist ‘Kemalism’ of the modern Turkish state.  So Turkey must be careful how it relates to the Islamic State (ISIL).  Turkey is a member state of NATO with a significant South Eastern border that it shares with both Syria and Iraq. It does not want to embroil NATO in what many people in the Muslim world view as an internal Muslim religious conflict nor does it want to be seen to be a participant in the killing of fellow Sunnis.

Kobani is much in the news at this time as it comes under attack by ISIL.

Kobani is the last Syrian town before the country’s northern border with Turkey. Geopolitical maps of what exiled Kurds in Europe call Western Kurdistan transect territory across the Syrian and Turkish borders.

Kurdish forces only wrestled control of Kobani (aka Ein al-Arab) from the Syrian military in 2012.  The attack by ISIL represents a dream assault for Neo-Ottoman (expansionist) Turkey.  If ISIL manage to capture and massacre the residents of the city then many Kurdish fighters will have been slaughtered without the military being blamed for the bloodshed. If Turkey is then encouraged to intervene elsewhere on behalf of any of its minorities, it will be on Neo-Ottoman terms.

Turkey was much angered by the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood led government of Egypt and continues to voice open contempt for the government of General el-Sisi. This too is consistent with Turkish support for an ideologically sympathetic movement.

Appeasing Islamist extremism can only encourage the worse elements amongst Islamists to push the limits of tolerance of any society in which they take hold.  It was this logic that saw an Egyptian court place a ban on the Brotherhood on 23rd September 2013.

It is therefore puzzling that President Obama ceased military aid to Egypt after the July 2013 coup.  Being seen to support a regime that was both irrational and bigoted because it was initially freely elected is consistent behavior for President Obama but is neither strategically nor historically sound. For example, no US president could justify a similar stand on Communism.

In the early years after the Russian Revolution communism split between Stalinists who demanded the realization of the ideal of “Socialism in One Country” and Trotskyism which opposed “One Country Socialism.”  The USA and European nations were intolerant of both variants and remain so.  Except in Islamism's non-hierarchical nature it is difficult not to draw comparisons between Islamism and communism.

The ever bleeding wound of Sunni–Shia antipathy and mutual antagonism has boiled over into uncontrollable, murderous rage intermittently since the Iranian revolution of 1979. The schism between the two main sects of Islam has existed for nearly all of the fourteen centuries since Muhammad founded his faith.  Al Qaeda veterans poured into Syria from Iraq and were generously re-supplied by Turkey so that they soon became the main military faction to oppose the Alawite regime.

Thomas Paine, the political activist and philosopher said that “to argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.”  And so it seems we are desperate to refrain from making comparisons between Islamism and Communism.  Perhaps this is the reason that our leaders are incapable of applying a consistent standard when confronted with the Islamist threat to global peace and security.

Neo-Ottoman Turkey is a member of NATO and yet it has encouraged ISIL.   The civil war in Syria and before it, the Iraqi debacle helped to draw out the monumental hatred that exists between the two rival Sunni and Shia sects and not just in Syria where the dictatorship of the Assad family kept the conflict under control.

Turkey has been encouraged to flex its imperialistic muscles by Europe’s de facto acceptance of its conquest of Northern Cyprus 40 years ago. The UN has all but ignored this conflict. When Israel and Cyprus signed a maritime border treaty in late December 2010 Turkey all but asserted its colonial right of first refusal when it judged the accord on 21st December 2010 to be “null and void”. 

Conflict with its Christian, Kurdish, Shia and Israeli neighbors demonstrates Turkey's bona fide right to lead the regions Sunni Muslims.

At the start of the Arab Spring the Muslim Brotherhood took democratic control of Tunisia and Egypt. Syrian Shia minority rule appeared to be increasingly precarious.  If Turkey could control Sunni forces it could re-establish Turkish influence in Libya.  Iraq’s Shia majority could be destabilized and Sunni minority rule re-asserted.  All nations in the region would be subservient to Turkey as had been the situation during the period of the Ottoman Empire.

Analysts and arm chair pundits in the Western media publicly admit that the bombing campaign will do very little to solve the problem of IS.  The ideology they represent is one of limitless power for their faithful followers. Their consequent actions are justified through the bloodthirsty history of the first three generations of Muslim history.  Nations that supported ISIL now fear ISIL but only because they cannot control it.

The bombing of ISIL in Syria may have inadvertently recreated the conditions for another Lebanese civil war.  Shia Hezbollah’s inordinate political influence was based on the support they received from both Iran and Syria.  When the Syrian civil war broke out in March 2011, Hassan Nasrallah (Secretary General of Hezbollah) felt obligated to repay his Syrian protector by sending thousands of his soldiers to fight alongside of the Assad regime of President Bashar al-Assad. Withdrawing Hezbollah’s battle tested troops from Syria may undermine the Shia effort to contain ISIL. At the same time, as ISIL disperses it will enter Lebanon and hide amongst Sunni supporters.  The coalition will be unable to intervene in Lebanon and this may make inevitable a military flare-up in Lebanon.

The fifth member of the original anti-IS coalition is Qatar. Its role is admitted to be only “in support of” the coalition. It will not be bombing IS positions.  According to media reports Qatar continues to fund Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, Jabhat al Nusra (the al-Nusra front) and other Islamist terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda (of which IS was originally affiliated). It is through its funding of these terrorist organizations that it undermines its neighbors. Al Jazeera, the Qatari global news network ridiculed the beheading of the two American journalists and described the beheadings as no more than pretext for the US intervention in Syria (to which it is now nominally committed in its participation).

There are many people who try to blame regional and even global Muslim dissatisfaction on Israel because of Jewish Palestine's conflict with Sunni Palestinians.  Inter-Arab and inter-Muslim conflict is ignored or excused with reference to Israel and ‘the Jews’ or Zionists. The wars being waged in Iraq and in Syria are proxy wars between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia with various other regional players such as Qatar and Turkey also vying for greater influence.

Historically, both Jordan and Egypt have similarly sought to manipulate events in the region to their advantage and control.

Those wars being waged between Shia and Sunni are sometimes expressed as tribal conflicts but irrespective of form they will only subside if the root cause is addressed. That root cause is a fundamentalist belief, a theocratic superstition that instead of a shared humanity, we are all of us nothing more than objects for conquest.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

ISIL, Western Aggression, and Muslim Extremism

This is part 2 of a 3 part series.

A recent newspaper headline declared that “Arabs and Muslims Do Not Trust America” but an explanation for that headline would also have explained that they do not trust that which they do not control.

The Iranian president Hassan Rouhani in his speech to the diplomats gathered for the opening of the 2014 UN General Assembly said:  Western 'aggression' in the Middle East helped foster extremism.  He was only partly correct.

The exercise of power is a unilateral decision whether or not it is legitimized in the eyes of some, by being part of a grand coalition. It is in the exercise of power that trust and respect are built. IS are not open to negotiation. Trust and respect are wholly irrelevant.  Fear is the only thing that counts.  IS is a brutal colonialist enterprise that enslaves, demands conversion from its captives, and kills to demonstrate its absolute power. Its purpose is power for its faithful followers and its line of attack is merciless. Opposition is met with annihilation. Containment is not an option, defeat is inconceivable.

Many people excuse Hamas crimes against humanity because for them, the ends will always justify the means, no matter how heinous those crimes may be.  Hezbollah’s Shiite chief Hassan Nasrallah said that there are no red lines. He was simply enunciating the unwritten, sixth pillar of Islamic faith. When we say that Hamas is not IS and that the Muslim Brotherhood is not monstrous we do this so that we may fear it less. We sanitize that which we fear because if it is not dangerous then we can accept it even when we should not.

So, Barack Obama, President of the most powerful nation on the earth and a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, said: "ISIS is not Islamic".  David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, educated at Eton and Oxford University said "ISIS are not Muslims they are monsters."  Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Caliph of the Islamic State with a PhD from the Islamic University of Baghdad said "We are Muslims."

This is what others say:

In 2006, senior Wahhabi cleric Abdul Rahman al-Barrak released a fatwa which stated that the Shia are "infidels, apostates and hypocrites ... [and] they are more dangerous than Jews or Christians."

The al-Nusra Front declared in 2012: "The blessed operations will continue until the land of Syria is purified from the filth of the Nusayris (Alawite - Ed.) and the Sunnis are relieved from their oppression."

The Alawite minority (12% of the total Syrian population) have controlled most of the country since 1920. Nevertheless, that Sunni quote means almost 3 million people will be ‘cleansed’ (murdered) if this al Qaeda offshoot succeeds in capturing Syria for the Sunni mob.

Even so, a Sunni-Alawite alliance in Syria is still possible, if Assad is able to relinquish control over all of Syria.  His family has maintained its rule for 43 years, through the acquiescence and military strength of his Sunni partners until the civil war and infiltration by al Qaeda affiliated (Sunni) fighters.  To share power now Bashar al-Assad must be able to guarantee that his people are not butchered as they have butchered others. 

Perhaps we have a right to be a little bit confused. Our leaders say one thing – the Muslim world says something else.

If I may offer an explanation by illustration:
The Klu Klux Klan was representative of a significant proportion of American public opinion until they were marginalised.  This was only possible because the internal narrative of White America was altered to largely reject racism. When Lyndon Baines Johnson was elected President of the United States of America it was his opposition to the KKK contagion, coupled with the judicial activism of the US Supreme Court that ultimately defeated the movement.   Treatment of African Americans in the USA was, until that time, a crime against humanity.

Similarly, not all Europeans were Nazis but the Shoah could not have taken place without the passive complicity of Europe’s citizenry.

It is easy for me from the comfort of my 21st Century home, to cast judgement on the frailty and the fears of those populations that are permanently exposed to institutionalized and state supported systems of bigotry and terror. But to deny that bigotry is at the very least a contributory factor in the passive acceptance of such a framework.  Denial of those facts is part of the conspiracy that protects it.

ISIS is an abomination to many Muslims but it is supported by the selective use of Islamic texts and thus, by a large swathe of Muslims across the globe.  Islam is a religion of peace but it is also a religion of war; and war is a central plank of its expansion throughout history.  The ends do justify the means in Islam even when used against their own people but certainly when justified against non-Muslims.

In “Hamas and Political Legitimacy” (20/8/2014) I wrote that Hamas has a Hitler Complex.  It is so sure of its own theological infallibility it is willing to sacrifice its own population in a destructive war to first humiliate its enemy and then, to destroy it, utterly.  Hamas is no different to any other Muslim fundamentalist movement. 

The only mistake IS made was that it provoked the United States by publicly beheading two American journalists.  Before then it had killed thousands of Christians and in all probability many more thousands of Muslims. Its attempted genocide of the Yazidis has all but been forgotten though it occurred less than two months ago. The main difference between IS, its predecessors and contemporary rivals in the Muslim world is its success.  Violence will gain the Islamic State an audience and a minor horde of sociopathic followers, extreme violence however, earns a global audience and an army of sociopathic wannabes.

For the Western-Arab coalition, containment of the IS contagion means infiltration by the dispersed ‘warriors’ and therefore, destabilization spreading throughout the region. Appeasement represents the worst of options because it is a sign of weakness and will only encourage more acts of terror. The logic is that the faithful are tested by their resolve, not as measured by their success but more crucially, when they appear to be failing in their endeavour.  Appeasing IS will lead to more 911’s and far greater casualties in the long term.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

US Launches Air Strikes on Islamists in Syria

Representatives from 26 countries attended a conference in Paris on the 15th of September 2014.  Diplomats from the UN, Russia, China, the USA, France, Germany, Canada, Britain and the Arab world attended. At the conclusion of the conference a statement was issued that condemned the Islamic State and ‘showed support’ for the newly elected government of Iraq.

Eight days later, on the 23rd of September, a coalition comprising the USA, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Bahrain, The United Arab Emirates and Qatar began an assault on Islamic State (IS) positions in Syria.  They had notified the tyrant Bashar al-Assad of their intentions before commencement of operations but only because they did not want Assad’s forces shooting down the coalitions airplanes.

A couple of observations then:

ISIS is the unintentional progeny of Sunni extremism and yet they are also the predictable consequence of uncritical Muslim thought throughout Muslim history. The vision of a Global Caliphate is the cornerstone of this religious thinking.

The debate in Muslim history has always centered round the methodology of achieving a global caliphate (an empire ruled exclusively by and for the Muslim faithful). Accord has taken direction from military conquest; in modern times by creeping migration and incremental acceleration of demands for internal self-determination; and by hostile international diplomatic posturing.  It is inevitable that today it is being attempted by a combination of all three.

Islamist movements never saw themselves as anything but transnational.  They arose according to the contemporary ideological environment and if not checked, did not remain isolated to one geographical region. Fabulous economic wealth helped to propel the extremist ideology of the Islamic Levant onto a greater world stage but militancy was always present even when unable to express itself openly.

Charles Allen described one particular sect, the Wahhabis, as “God’s Terrorists.” They arose in Saudi Arabia in the 18th Century and are now concentrated in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and UAE.  Wahhabis represent the governing aristocracy and administration of Saudi Arabia and have therefore provided the principle funding for a ruthless ultra-conservative version of Islam via its worldwide network of schools and mosques.  And Qatar is the world’s wealthiest country (per capita).  It also, has helped to spread the chaos - by providing much of the funding for the HAMAS movement. Moreover, it has funded the more extreme Islamist al Qaeda linked factions that oppose the Shiite regime in Syria.

A couple of years ago a scandal erupted in Britain when a newspaper investigation revealed a Saudi funded private school network that provided textbooks which taught children the ‘proper’ way to cut off the right hand and left foot of thieves. Exhortations to remain separate rather than to integrate into British society were part of the school ethos.  Some people will point out that Western foundations spread the ideals of democracy, equality and human rights in overseas aid programs, and they object to this teaching because it is a foreign, and to them, an alien and unwelcome implant.  This then, is one of the arguments liberals use for excusing schools that teach their children how to commit torture and mutilation, as punishment, in the name of their faith. While I disagree with this argument for the simple reason that a democracy is unlikely to kill those with whom it disagrees, the speed with which we try to excuse the behavior of Islamic organizations preaching the antithesis of our democratic system is far more worrying.

Extremism taught as Normal Behavior

Salafism follows the literal traditional texts of the first three generations of the founders of the 7th Century Islamic faith.

Wahhabis are also referred to as Salafis (even as many view the former as no more than a subset of the latter).   Both are universally recognized as being more extreme than the adherents of the Muslim Brotherhood which, has a similar ideology but is less inclined to maintain the strict defining code of Salafism. 

ISIS is the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.  ISIL is the same movement but stands for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. The Levant defines the territorial ambitions of IS in far more grandiose terms unless both Iraq and Syria are viewed through ‘secular’ Ba’athist imperialist ambitions.   We may choose to place a Salafi label on them but whatever label we select to assign to them, the grisly and barbaric behavior of IS (the Islamic State) represents the logical consequence of the ideas behind Islamic purity.

The estimated 31,000 jihadis fighting for IS are not going to be cowered by a US led coalition of authoritarian Muslim regimes.  With ideological sympathy from amongst the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis they will disperse when attacked and hide amongst their coreligionists across the Arab and greater Muslim world.

In order to permanently degrade ISIL and prevent it from rising again we have to first accept that their genocidal theology and as a consequence, their abhorrent methodology will find resonance amongst many Muslims in every society. Until we accept this alarming fact we will not seriously approach the subject of how to a) initially contain this phenomenon and how to b) ultimately destroy it.

This is Part 1 of a 3 Part series.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Israel’s Foreign Policy Dilemma

The news headlines screamed out the terrible news “Turkey kills deal on gas with Israel”.  Turkish Energy Minister Taner Yildiz stated that the deal was dead unless (until) Israel made peace and Gaza’s needs were fulfilled.  More specific he said that Israel must “instate a permanent peace there with all its elements”.  “All its elements” means to include all those Muslim Nazis who support a permanent state of war with the Jewish people.

For a generation or more the Western press has been incapable of relating to a theocratic justification for genocide so it ignores it.

An Egyptian lawyer, a woman, promotes her online video which advises all Muslim men to go out and rape Israeli women as punishment for Israel’s actions against its enemies.  This is from the Arab country where rape appears to have become a national leisure time sport.  Eighty three per cent of Egyptian women have experienced sexual harassment and 98% of foreign female visitors have suffered a worse fate if, they stupidly assume a right to appear in public.

A senior Palestinian official, Abbas Zaki in 2014 tells the faithful that “Allah is gathering the Jews (to Israel) so we can kill them.”

The Arab world assumes superiority over the rest of us because the prophet ‘chose’ the Arab peoples to conquer the globe for Islam.  This racist Aryan style doctrine has not always been at the center of the Arab self-image.

Moving forward from the late 19th Century, Western thought on nationalism heavily influenced Islamists who were deeply disturbed by the Muslim inability to shake off Western encroachment on their own conquered territories.   From the 1850’s onwards the period of European exploration in Africa excited Western audiences.  But articles and books that described the activities of the Arab slave traders in Africa deeply unsettled Western opinion as the barbarism of their trade was slowly revealed.  This need to protect Africans became the pretense behind Western colonialism in Africa.

The nation state of Israel did not exist in 1860 nor had the forced demographic superiority of the Arabs been disturbed.  However, from the 1860’s nationalism was an intellectually satisfying means of understanding Arab weakness against the infidel. It has continued to inform the Arab relationship with both Muslim and non-Muslim nations whether under the guise of Pan-Arabism or Ba’athism.

The Jewish state remains no more than an excuse pursued by racists for the partial failure of Arab racial or religiously inspired imperialism.

Turkey tried to ignore the political, tribal and religious nature of this inter-Muslim conflict. Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkish foreign minister (now Prime Minister) stated his policy as “Zero problems with its (Muslim) neighbors”.  But this doctrine soon turned out to be unworkable as instead, it alienated all of its neighbors. Syria fell into civil war, ‘accidentally’ shelling Turkish border towns in the process.  Egypt’s Muslim fundamentalist government seemed to desire nothing less than the bankruptcy of the entire country and events in Iraq threatened to spill over into Turkey, destabilizing Turkey’s south eastern (Kurdish) provinces.  Turkish military aid to their preferred insurgency groups added further oil to the flames of the Syrian inferno and helped to further destabilize the rest of the region.

Persia (Iran) and Turkey (Neo-Ottoman) are both former imperialist Muslim powers and like the Arabs, history is central to their identity, to the active exclusion of any other ethnic or religious group.

Ahmet Davutoglu, the current Prime Minister of Turkey has sagely informed Israel that Jews lived ‘better’ under Muslim protection and therefore they should return to this previous barbaric era of religiously prescribed slavery.   In the aftermath of Israel’s latest conflict with Gaza a respected Turkish journalist calls for Jews who live in or do business with Turkey to be taxed in order to pay for rebuilding Gaza. This is one way to blame a minority for something that is beyond its control and we can assume that it is not meant to demonstrate Islamic grace or charity towards one if its previously persecuted minorities in spite of Davutoglu’s dissimulation.

Prime Minister Davutoglu is a keen advocate of Neo-Ottomanism based on Islamic principles. To assume a humanly rational and ethical attitude from a religious bigot is naïve and demonstrates a dangerously unsophisticated knowledge of human nature. He was formerly chairman of the department for international relations at a Turkish university.  Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu like his president, Recep Erdogan, has no moral qualms about his nations seedy past or their present imperialist pretensions.

The Turkish president Recep Erdogan accused Israel of excessive use of force in its most recent conflict with HAMAS in Gaza.

President Erdogan accused Israel of committing genocide against the Palestinian people. He declared that “Israel has surpassed Hitler in its barbarities.”

I shall respond to those charges:

The number of dead in all of Israel’s conflicts since the 1880’s (in over 120 years of warfare) is estimated at between 100,000 and 200,000 victims of Jewish, Druze, Christian and Muslim faith. During a shorter period of recent history Turkey murdered between 1,000,000 and 1,500,000 Christian Armenians. It murdered up to 500,000 Assyrian Christians. Turkey murdered some 900,000 Greek Christians. Estimates vary but up to 3,500,000 Christians were murdered between the Armenian massacre of 1895 and the Anatolian massacre of 1922.  Up to 500,000 Kurds were murdered by Turkish nationalists

Turkey is an infamous trend-setter.  It was the rapidity with which the world forgot Turkey’s crimes against humanity that encouraged Hitler to undertake his genocidal war, a war which eventually killed over 60,000,000 people.  That is the entire population of Britain or France.  As late as 2012 it was reported in the German press that the Turkish Neo-Ottoman military gassed Kurds, yet another barely reported crime against humanity ignored by the United Nations Organization.  Turkey is guilty of ethnic cleansing, of occupying Northern Cyprus and transferring the Kurds into illegal settlements (a violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention).  In one of Turkeys more ironic crimes against humanity Kurds, forced off their own land have been transferred into land that is not theirs to settle.

Since the bloody massacres that crowned the Muslim conquest of Constantinople in 1453 Turkish Muslim rule has been an abomination of bloodshed and division, and saying sorry is rarely tolerated.  A journalist can be jailed for even referring to the past.

So excuse me if I become a little confused at Turkeys’ demands for Jewish restraint when confronted with thousands of mortar rounds and thousands more missiles deliberately fired by Arab supremacists at our civilian schools, at our civilian buses and at our civilian hospitals.

There are people, call them ‘moderates’ if you wish, they believe that being tolerant of bigots reaps a reward. They think that passion and self-censorship are unnecessary between people in conflict. They believe that trust can be achieved even after the most acrimonious of divorces and relationships can be mended over time.  They do not live in the real world where such anger as exists has an inter-generational memory seared into the consciousness of its adversaries, on both sides.

Just as the fascist left has taught many Jews and their non-Jewish supporters some important lessons about betrayal, so Israel’s relationship with the Muslim world in the Near East and beyond is approaching a crossroads.  The Left is in denial.  It has failed to address the religious element in the war between the two (Jewish and Muslim) civilizations.

Hate destroys but it also presents a warning to those people who are willing to listen. Calls from the past, calls for the rapist to attack the weak and calls from the idealist with his or her revanchist dreams are not meant to intimidate an adversary. They are messages from an enemy of their intent to demolish bridges not build them.

Israel must deliver a message that it will neither forget Turkish aggression nor will it turn the other cheek. It must begin by accepting the loss of its trade with Turkey. It should break off diplomatic relations with Turkey and not just because Turkey supports Israel’s enemies against it.  Incitement against minorities justifies its cultural dominance.  Turkey has actively encouraged the Muslim Brotherhood whether under the guise of al Qaeda, the al-Nusra Front or in its latest disguise, the Islamic State.

Israel needs Turkey as a major strategic ally, but not unless it can be trusted.

The reason that Israel has stayed clear of replacing Turkey with Greece is that Greece’s past antisemitism is both entrenched and unimpeded by any necessity it may feel warrants the establishment of closer ties.  If Israel is isolated in the world then acknowledging its own failures without complete reciprocity can neither create trust nor improve the relationship.

Sadly then, there is a perception that one of Israel's possible foreign policy options is 'that it is better to deal with the devil you know than the devil you don't.'

Unfortunately, this appeasement never works.  Turkey often behaves like a national criminal enterprise. It is the last nation in the world that should lecture Israel on ethical conduct during war-time. It is the last nation in the world that should set conditions for its participation in energy deals that profit it more than it profits Israel.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Progressivism and Radical Redemption

The spark that ignites a revolution may initially be progressive but in the aftermath of all that is created is embedded the seed for self-extinction. This is because in order to maintain the momentum of its creative spark, paradoxically, the revolution becomes reactionary, expending all of its energies strengthening its grip on a population that must be impelled to embrace the self-evident virtue of the embryonic political entity.  The rulers become bogged down in the minutiae of administration and the initial creative surge is followed by slow deterioration fed by the only thing left to them in order to retain control over the revolutions’ captive neophytes, terror. Fascism is the legacy of all revolutions and death, its inheritance. 

Note: The US and Israeli wars for independence were revolts against injustice and I would argue that they were not therefore true revolutions even if their birth surge created revolutionary changes to their societies.  But the impetus to the initial revolt was not revolutionary change but the overthrow of an oppressive master.

The central issue of the revolutionary process is that if the initial outburst is the expression of a violent ‘popular’ will and if its purpose is the overthrow of one or more tyrannies, it is inevitable that what replaces it will be another tyranny.  Idealism may drive revolution but it is often a cover for gross injustice.  As soon as it is challenged by an opposing ideology it can only justify its control by the willingness of its followers to continue to take orders.  Those people that are unwilling to follow must be excluded, marginalised even killed. Self-justification demands converts.  The greater the corruption of the cause, the higher is the price to be paid by those people that oppose it. This is how incipient religious faith develops its theological infrastructure; by sowing fear in friend and foe. 

It is ironic that while Communism may be a non-theistic faith, it remains the closest in structure to modern Islam.  Like all orthodoxies, deviation from the norm is viewed as ideological distortion and a threat to the prevalent camp.  If theology is the study of the supreme being and the attributes of divinity, then texts viewed as holy writ are to be regarded as inviolate truths and approached with appropriate reverence.

A theology that excludes the non-believer quickly adopts measures to enshrine its dominance over both public and private life. The ends cannot begin to justify the means but I can think of no revolution that has not used terror to enslave the masses even when the many embrace the terror for their own benefit against the minority.

The ends not justifying the means remains a key post-exilic, post second temple period, Jewish religious concept and it is the single most rigid reason that anti-Zionist ultra-orthodox Jews enjoy a measure of sympathy amongst ultra-orthodox communities worldwide. A state not begat by God, cannot be founded by men (and women).

Progressivism means moving forward.  It is defined as advocating progress, change and reform; viewed as moving towards an improved society and ‘therefore’ it has to oppose the status quo.  It must inevitably be measured by substantive improvement in the socio-economic conditions of its populace.  Democratic choice has no logical standing in the progressives’ revolution.  Clarity of vision demands personal subjugation to the greater ‘good’ and that can only be achieved by embracing fascism or dictatorship. Contempt for our opponents fosters dehumanization.  The increased sophistication of communication eases the commoditisation of human society.  When the granularity of existence has been reduced to the level of commodity worship, human beings become mere disposable objects. This happened in Roman times, it happened with Fascism in the 20th Century and in the 21st Century  it promises to depersonalise and objectify all human beings.

In its lust for the violent validation of its superior purpose the Islamic world could be compared with the era of western piracy that began with Henry IV of England (early in the 15th Century).  State legalised privateers engaged in acts of war but because of the privatisation of their activities this transfer of ‘services’ to the private sector effectively prevented all-out conflict from erupting between nations while successful privateers enriched the English treasury.  Exploited by governments eager to take advantage of the profits that acts of piracy generated, the down-side to this activity was the fear and destruction piracy sowed in weaker nations.

Piracy ultimately precipitated the degradation or collapse of society wherever it was tolerated.

To survive, nations were forced to rise up against it. Islamists today are being ignored in a not dissimilar, short-sighted policy of both benefit and fear.

Those people who preach hatred can rarely if ever withdraw from the language of violence.   To argue that time cools the passions of the radical thinker is to discount history, theology and the limitless influence of modern technology to reach out to poison the hearts and minds of every human being.

That fear manifests itself in the paralysis displayed by Western governments in dealing with all forms of violence. Hate is one of these violent expressions of extremism we refuse to adequately challenge.

One definition of fascism is that it is anything that is opposed to the established order. Fascism is characterised by chauvinism, authoritarianism and militant intolerance. Intellect without ethics leads in turn, to an apocalyptic betrayal of human values.  Harold James in “A German Identity 1770-1990” described progressive radicalisation as a loss of inhibition which contributes to its own momentum.  An ideocracy (a government derived from the claim to be fulfilling a supreme purpose) enables genocide to be explained away as the fulfillment of that supreme purpose. 

While Israel’s enemies often employ theocracy as justification for their prejudice, Operation Protective Edge created the excuse for an expansion (perhaps to the next level) of global antisemitism, an excuse that was masked as a protest against the war.  Radicals, hiding behind a unitary ethical conviction that has a sole victim (in Palestinians) and a multi-dimensional aggressor (in Israelis-Jews-Zionists) will never accept the concept of a war being waged by (radical) Muslim HAMAS against (Jewish) Israel.

Redemption enables the bigot to bed down with people whose usual behaviour would make them social lepers.  By equating Israel’s actions with that of World War 2 Germany not only are all debts cancelled but equally of importance, the revulsion we feel for past crimes may be transferred to a new global pariah. Redemption, like baptism, washes away not only sins of commission but also sins of omission and any future sins we hope to commit.

Redemption is a miraculous thing. In the Western world the ongoing breakdown of social order has created a radicalization of dissent.   Totalitarian political correctness has led to the cessation of cultural dialogue amongst the majority in society and a repetition of 1950’s style McCarthyism that leads to denunciation and suppression of any viewpoint running counter to the accepted political orthodoxy.  This time it is an unholy alliance of Islamists, left wing fascists, radical Greens and anti-globalisation activists who strive to exercise control over the global media.  Those of us who fight them are accused of harbouring hegemonic pretensions; it helps too, if we are Zionists. The clichéd Orwellian response of the fascist to any complaint by supporters of Israel is always to stifle our debate for the sake of their freedom of speech.

The doublespeak expresses itself most eloquently in examples such as follows: “Understanding Hamas, Hezbollah as social movements that are progressive, that are on the Left, that are part of a global Left, is extremely important.”  (Judith Butler)  When we scrutinize the ersatz philosophy of the Judith Butlers of the academic world we reveal the emptiness of the ideas they express.  It is frightening that they hold positions of intellectual authority in our universities because they are charlatans but more important than this, because they sanctify the bigot.

Zionism pictured a Jewish utopia in Palestine. Its vision was of a pluralistic, technologically advanced, secular society with equality for all.  Zionism, by its utopian nature was naïve. Nevertheless, its founding vision remains the only true progressive vision for the Near-East.  The question that remains is how to counter the reactionary totalitarian response to it as the anti-Israel movement bares its antisemitic teeth and builds a momentum fuelled by Muslim immigration and a ‘progressive’ fascist disinformation war that Israel has, until recently, refused to acknowledge, let alone engage.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Palestine & the UN a Deal made in Hell

If Palestinian demands are a problem for Israel, it is only because we are trapped on a merry-go-round of Arab creation that defines the conflict in terms of singular Arab injustice without reference to our own past.  There are those who view all history as no more than a point of view. The fascists will remind us that one persons history is another persons mythology.  That is no more than cant, humbug and an ethically neutral convenience for fools.  Nor is history the mistranslation of historical documents to suit a particular narrative preference. That is the stuff from which an Orwellian future controlled by bigots is made.   A brief recap of history – from our side is therefore in order.

In 634 CE the conquest of Israel began with Mohammed’s successor Abu Bakr.  What imperial Rome had begun, the Arab horde finished.  Co-existence which was, until the 7th Century CE a relatively (usually) benign accommodation between native Jews and Christians was substituted for an Arab conquest that rapidly left the land desolate, lawless, a place of destruction and despair.  But the Arab conquerors built some nice mosques (such as the Dome of the Rock). A conquering power stamps its domination on a nations psyche by creating an architecturally imposing physical presence.   While the indigenous Israelites starved it was important to supplant the local ethnic cultural symbols with those of the replacement authority.

In spite of the Roman destruction, Christian dominance, the Muslim degradation of minorities under its control, successive invasions by (in order of conquest): Arab Caliphates, Crusaders, Ayyubids, Mamluks, Ottomans and finally, the British Mandate for Palestine, Jews never completely abandoned Israel.  It has always been our spiritual home even when, as a minority in Israel, we were persecuted.

The return to Israel has been continuous, hampered only by natural disasters and human infamy. Starting with the Karaites in the Tenth Century CE, Jews returned in relatively large numbers all the way through to what is termed “The First Aliyah” in 1882.   The ‘other’ immigration that as a consequence of Jewish immigration accelerated once Britain took control of the territory was the Arab immigration to Palestine. Up to half a million people slipped into Palestine while Britain tried it’s hardest to keep Jews out, even as the Shoah cast its deadly shadow over European Jewry. 

Three important statements that we must never forget but equally important, that we must never allow anyone else to forget:  

  • The imprimatur of United Nations (UN) approval was important but not crucial to the creation of modern Israel. 
  • The State of Israel would have been born without international approval marking as it did the Jewish expression of self-determination in opposition to Arab oppression. 
  • With the Declaration of Independence by Israel on May 14, 1948 the Jewish intifada against Muslim colonial rule came to an end.
But in response to this successful revolution against Arab colonial oppression the UN created a time-bomb.  In an unprecedented act of cynical inhumanity, one that has not been repeated since, the UN created a bogus Palestinian identity that with the slightest irony, included Jewish Israelis (but for a couple of years only).

UNRWA (United Nations Relief Works Agency) defines a Palestinian refugee as a person "whose normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948, who lost both their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict. The descendants of Palestine refugee males, including legally adopted children, are also eligible for registration.

Incredible but true. What this means is that an Egyptian, Iraqi or in truth, a British or American migrant worker who arrived in Israel at the age of 47 and resided there sometime between 1st June 1946 and 15th May 1948 automatically became a Palestinian citizen by right. How they proved that residence is not apparent nor does it appear to have ever been a requirement. If 66 years later (in August 2014) a wealthy Palestinian family living for the last three generations in Qatar adopts a Polynesian infant, that same infant becomes a Palestinian refugee and is entitled to every benefit UNRWA’s refugee status bestows.

I am not going to say that this identity is not now legitimate or that their persecution by their Muslim brothers and sisters is not just unfair but cynical and immoral.  A conspiracy by Israel’s enemies have made them a tragic people – and helped all Arabs be something they are not.  They are not victims of Western colonialism, they are victims of Islamic indifference to fate; an instrument with which to attack the non-Arab peoples in their midst.

Some time ago Palestinian supporters in the West were accusing Israel (and her supporters) of the twin charges of 1) genocide and 2) suppressing the rights of ten million Palestinians.  When coupled with the accusation of genocide a 1,300 percent increase in population, over 50 years, was at best problematic. It did not make for good propaganda.  UNRWA’s current position is that after 66 years there are five million Palestinians under its care.  It would be interesting to hear from the UN what the justification is for losing some five million “refugees.”

Palestinian identity is eternal, or at least until they destroy the Jewish state.  But this also assumes that the Arab states, in the afterglow of their anticipated success, permit the Palestinians their own state.  Eternal Palestinian victim-hood means ‘a free ride’, money from out of the pockets of the 19 Western nations that fund the UN and the right never to be master or mistress of their own fate.  The Muslim world is happy because it is a distraction from their crimes. Palestinians receive ten pounds (dollars) for every pound (dollar) that Africa’s refugees receive. The logical conclusion is that Arab lives are worth ten times that of black refugees.  It is an unpleasant claim to appease but then how else to explain the global silence as Muslims ethnically cleanse every minority they gain control over? 

This is not a class – race distraction ‘fuelled by western imperialism’ or any other cliché the politically correct ‘jury’ likes to throw around as an accusation against the West. Nor is it a matter of white on non-white indifference.  The UN is controlled by a coalition of what is bizarrely referred to as “developing nations,” bizarre because this bloc of nations includes the world’s wealthiest oil-drenched dictatorships.  The UN is manipulated through the malevolent offices of the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation), the largest political bloc at the UN.  When churches, temples or synagogues are destroyed, no UN agency utters a syllable in protest.  When ancient treasures of beauty and antiquity are obliterated there is an uninterrupted but deafening silence which is only ever pierced by cries of indignation, mutilation and the death of many, many innocents, none of them Islamic, when the Muslim prophet Mohammed is allegedly insulted.   Such breathtakingly cynical behaviour is the reason the UN is the precision propaganda weapon the Muslim world is able to so successfully employ against Israel and it is not only Israel’s problem but one for the rest of humanity. While the UN continues to exist, international political cooperation is no more than a market place for thugs.  Cynical exploitation by rival power blocs resides in the abuse of people to the benefit of narrow sectarian agendas.  But there is a simple solution to the dilemma created by the existence of the benighted UN.

If only nations that shared full diplomatic relations with their adversaries were able to put forward agenda items or resolutions that affected either of the parties in conflict the UN in its current form, as an instrument of propaganda, might cease to exist.

Israel must first tackle the institutional bias against it inside the UN, before it will be able to resolve the conflict between it and the Arab nation.