web analytics
April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Spa 1.2 Combining Modern Living in Traditional Jerusalem

A unique and prestigious residential project in now being built in Mekor Haim Street in Jerusalem.



Pain And Martyrdom After The Arab Spring


Beres-Louis-Rene

Share Button

Soon, at least meteorologically, the Arab Spring will become an “Arab Winter. It will also be an apt change of metaphor. After all, from the standpoint of civilizational vulnerabilities to jihadist terror, nothing will have been improved. To the contrary, the still-developing relationship between regional democratization and Islamist terror-violence will most likely be inverse, and hence unwelcome.  Significantly, this injurious turn of events could include both the probability, and intensity, of substantial terror-harms.

Almost certainly, and in more-or-less ascertainable increments, Islamist forces will soon surface and multiply with a renewed dedication to theocratic purity. The grotesquely explosive results of this largely unexpected rededication will be felt in the immediately affected countries, and also in Israel, Europe, and the United States.

In Gaza,  Hamas, empowered by newly-emergent, post-Mubarak elements of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt – not to mention its plainly gainful repatriation of more than one thousand terrorists in the recent asymmetrical prisoner exchange with Netanyahu  – will likely enlarge its plans for “war” against Israel. For all jihadist terrorists, of course, operational terror-violence will remain inseparable from their utterly immutable ideals of the sacred.

As I have been pointing out in these pages for many years, jihadist terrorism has little to do with war, politics or resistance to oppression. Instead, the essential meanings of these unceasing barbarisms can be found within distinctly personal spheres of fear, dissatisfaction, cowardice and loathing. These include: (1) a consuming, though unrecognized, horror of death; (2) an unfulfilled wish for ecstasy, or intense pleasure; (3) a palpable joy drawn from the targeting of those who “lack sacredness;” and (4) perhaps even more acutely after the fall of Mubarak and Ghadaffi, an unrelenting loathing of “apostates” and “infidels.”

In searching for current meanings of revolutionary fervor in the Middle East and North Africa, the implications for jihadist terrorism will not be discoverable in official declarations, charters, or covenants. Nor will they be made readily understandable in less formal Islamist diatribes. Obliquely but profoundly, these deeper meanings will remain hidden and embedded in the intense sufferings joyously inflicted by jihadists upon their defenseless victims.

Throughout this volatile region, jihadist terror and “sacred” vengeance will soon re-emerge. Indeed, it is already re-emerging. Seeking to express shahada, or Death for Allah, this Islamist violence will increasingly challenge secular military forces, perhaps doing even more to fatally undermine democracy than the original authoritarian regimes.

Human language cannot describe human agony. The defiling horror of jihadist terror-violence, therefore, can never really be understood or felt by others. Armies of scholars notwithstanding, this horror simply can’t be reduced to any tangible or measurable inventory of casualties.

Agony is always incommunicable. In matters of jihadist terror, efforts at quantification always miss the point.   

            Following  the Arab Spring, the  anguish of  new terror victims will not only defile language; this anguish will also be language defiling. The sheer inexpressibility of pain, though never determinable by politics, revolution or society, can still have expressible political, revolutionary and societal outcomes. In the case of still-impending jihadist terrorism, it may even stand in the way of recognizing the new Islamist violence as criminal and unacceptable.

Immediately, we need to look beyond the agitated but ultimately futile and stillborn regional cries for “democracy.” We must understand, firstly, that jihadist terrorists are animated and encouraged by the palpably voluptuous and purifying satisfactions of planned violence. Islamist suicide-bombers prepare carefully for their cathartic missions of pain and extinction because of the anticipated ecstasy. Drawn from a presumed religious obligation, this ecstasy, which rewards doubly because it is “cleansing,” represents an almost exact reciprocal of the suffering to be borne by the unfortunate victims.

For jihadist suicide terrorists, both past and future, the death that is meted out to enemies remains only an abstraction. These victims lack sacredness. In the Koranic concept of war, terrorizing the profane unbeliever who refuses to be dhimmi (to accept Shari’a domination) is doctrinally a source of deep satisfaction.

Physical pain within the human body can do more than destroy ordinary language. It can also bring about a visceral reversion to pre-language human sounds – that is, to those primal moans, cries and whispers that are anterior to learned speech. While the soon-to-be expanding number of victims of jihadist terror will writhe agonizingly from the burns and the nails and the screws, neither the “civilized” world publics who bear silent witness, nor the “martyrs” themselves, will truly experience what is being suffered.

Physical pain, even after the Arab Spring, can have no consequential “voice.” When, at last, it may discover some potentially decipherable sound, the listener will no longer want to listen. The audience, after all, undeniably mortal and fragile, will strenuously seek to deny its own existential vulnerabilities. Such denial, as Freud recognized, lies at the very heart of what it means to be human.

Share Button

About the Author: Louis René Beres, strategic and military affairs columnist for The Jewish Press, is professor of Political Science at Purdue University. Educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), he lectures and publishes widely on international relations and international law and is the author of ten major books in the field. In Israel, Professor Beres was chair of Project Daniel.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

Leave a comment (Select your commenting platform)

One Response to “Pain And Martyrdom After The Arab Spring”

  1. dan kaplan says:

    but tommy friedman – the world’s smartest man – said, back in the spring, this would all be different … so far his batting average on the middle east would be about .125 – and that’s giving him the benefits of all doubts !

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
The interior of the El Ghriba synagogue on the island of Djerba, Tunisia, in 2009.
Tunisian Jew Stabbed in Djerba
Latest Indepth Stories
Chief IDF Rabbi Rafi Peretz

We, soldiers of the IDF, who stand guard over the people and the land, fulfill the hopes of the millions of Jewish people across the generations who sought freedom.

Lebovic-041814

How much is the human mind able to grasp of the Divine?

Benveniste-041814

Jews have brought the baggage of the galut (exile) mentality to the modern state of Israel.

Dann-041814

The Haggadah is an instruction manual on how to survive as strangers in strange lands.

It’s finally happened. New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan reported on her blog that “many readers…wrote to object to an [April 2] article…on the breakdown in peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians,” claiming “[they] found the headline misleading and the article itself lacking in context.” Ms. Sullivan provided one such letter, quoted the […]

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent.

Jewish soldiers in the Polish forces often encountered anti-Semitic prejudice.

When the state was established, gedolim went to Ben-Gurion and asked him not to draft women and, later, yeshiva bachrim.

Perhaps worse than all the above is the acute lack of unity among Jews

At our seder we emulate the way it was celebrated in Temple times, as if the Temple still stood.

Not one world leader holds Abbas accountable for his part in the breakdown of negotiations.

The 1948 re-establishment of Jewish sovereignty was a modern day Exodus and Parting of the Sea.

Spies who caused American deaths and worked for enemy states received lighter sentences than Pollard.

Christie’s “good friend” is an Imam who supports murderers of Jews and defames Israel and Christians.

More Articles from Louis Rene Beres
Louis Rene Beres

President Obama’s core argument on a Middle East peace process is still founded on incorrect assumptions.

Louis Rene Beres

Once upon a time in America, every adult could recite at least some Spenglerian theory of decline.

President Obama’s core argument is still founded on incorrect assumptions.

Specific strategic lessons from the Bar Kokhba rebellion.

Still facing an effectively unhindered nuclear threat from Iran, Israel will soon need to choose between two strategic options.

For states, as for individuals, fear and reality go together naturally.

So much of the struggle between Israel and the Arabs continues to concern space.

An undifferentiated or across-the-board commitment to nuclear ambiguity could prove harmful to Israel’s's overall security.

    Latest Poll

    Now that Kerry's "Peace Talks" are apparently over, are you...?







    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/louis-bene-beres/pain-and-martyrdom-after-the-arab-spring/2011/12/08/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: