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September 23, 2014 / 28 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘violence’

One Woman’s Journey from Morocco to Israel

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Flora Cohen presently lives in Nahariyya, Israel. She has three children and 16 grandchildren. However, she was born and raised in Casablanca, Morocco. Flora was born and spent her childhood living under French colonial rule. Under French rule, Flora claims that Morocco was a modern European state, full of cafés. However, in other respects, the Moroccans did not enjoy the same opportunities that the Europeans did. Living as part of the Jewish minority there was not easy, since being a Jew was a dirty word both in French and Arabic.

While the situation on the whole was tolerable when the French were still in control of Morocco, Flora does not believe the situation was good in retrospect. Flora recalled that not every one was permitted to attend school; that required having the right connections. In her family, all of the boys managed to go to school, yet out of all of the girls in her family, only she was able to go to school. One of her sisters tried to go to school, yet was continuously rejected and thus was forced instead to go to a vocational school where she learned how to sew, instead of learning how to read and write.

Kindergartens only existed for the very rich and women thus had to stay at home to raise the children, despite the fact that it was very difficult to finance having nine to ten children without the woman working. Eighty percent of the students in Morocco were forced to quit their studying following the 8th grade because their families needed them to work for financial reasons. Flora blames the French for this, since they were the ones in control of the country, not the Arabs.

While the French were still in control, Jews were able to coexist for the most part with Arabs peacefully. Flora knew Arabs in her area who were very good people and got along with the Jews well. But there still were incidents.

Flora’s grandfather and his brother were murdered by Arabs, thus leaving her grandmother a widow with two children. The family wasn’t even able to retrieve the bodies for a proper Jewish burial. In June 1948, bloody riots erupted in Oujda and Djerada, resulting in the death of 44 Moroccan Jews while many more were wounded. An unofficial boycott was initiated against the Moroccan Jewish community that same year. Eighteen thousand Moroccan Jews went to Israel during that period. But since the situation was still not as bad as in other Arab countries thanks to the French, most of the Jews stayed in Morocco a bit longer than in other Arab states.

Nevertheless, it was a common practice in Morocco for some Muslims to abduct young virgin Jewish girls, forcefully convert them to Islam, and to make them marry Muslims. Indeed, one of Flora’s relatives suffered this fate and thus did not come to Israel from Morocco with the rest of the family. In addition, Flora mentioned that one woman from Fez also was going to be forced to marry a Muslim and she decided to commit suicide rather than endure this fate. Many Moroccan Jews who participate in Jewish heritage trips to Morocco visit her grave. For this reason, Jewish girls were married off at a very early age, in order to avoid that horrible fate. This had the negative effect of inhibiting the development of Moroccan Jewish women.

Once Moroccans rose up against the French in their struggle for independence, the situation dramatically deteriorated for Moroccan Jews. Terrorism was widespread within the country and Jews were also the victims of such violence, not just the French, since the Jews supported the French. Flora claimed that the situation in Morocco was very much similar to the situation in Israel during the Second Intifada. There were explosions everywhere. Supermarkets were blowing up. People were scared to go out.

Flora said that her brother was almost murdered by Arabs, but that another Arab saved his life by lying and claiming that he was an Arab Muslim from Fez. Soon after this incident, the family decided that they had to leave Morocco and make Aliyah to Israel, even though they weren’t allowed to bring more things with them than what could fit into just one suitcase. This is when most of the Jews in Morocco made Aliyah to Israel.

It took time for her family to leave the country. They spent two months stranded in a special camp in Casablanca, before they were permitted to leave. In August 1956, Flora and her family were able to fly to France, where they were forced to stay for another month before they were permitted to move to Israel. When they arrived in Israel, they were placed on trucks and taken to Moshav Barak. In the moshav, there were no paved roads and no indoor bathrooms. Since they were assigned to create the moshav, they had to do much physical labor. It took a couple of years for her family to get established, yet in the end, her life significantly improved upon making Aliyah to Israel. 

In the moshav, her family had a house and was treated with dignity. The Ashkenazim and Mizrahim got along well together. She was very happy to come to Israel. In the end, she married an IDF soldier and raised her family near Haifa, before moving into a bigger house in Nahariyya. She reports that she is very happy with her decision to come to Israel.

Visit United With Israel.

Finding the Culprit: The Race to be Wrong

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Someone tweeted yesterday that “the race to be wrong first has begun in earnest.” And that is so — we’ve seen wild media reports that there were 12 people killed (so far there are 3, with about 150 injured), that two Saudi nationals were in custody (the police talked to a Saudi student who was injured in the bombing), and more. But there are some things that are known and can serve as a basis for speculation.

First, the bombs were in backpacks placed against buildings behind the spectators on the sidewalk, and most of the victims were on the sidewalk. So the intent was to kill and injure as many people as possible, at random.

Second, the bombs were homemade using non-military explosives, built into pressure cookers. They contained ball bearings and possibly other items in order to increase their effectiveness as anti-personnel weapons. They were detonated by either a timer or a remote control device, which could have been a cellphone or other radio receiver.

The authorities will pick up every fragment they can, examine explosive residue to determine how it was made, look for parts of the control device, etc. Then they will deploy the huge amount of manpower at their disposal to try to determine where the pressure cookers and backpacks were purchased, as well as the control devices and the chemicals used to make the explosives.

They will look at the massive quantity of security camera video, photos and videos made by spectators, news footage, etc. to try to spot whoever placed the bombs. They will check hundreds, maybe thousands of leads that they will be given by witnesses.

They will consider Islamic terrorism, right- and left-wing anti-government terrorism, and terrorism by mentally disturbed individuals. They will consider terrorist organizations here and abroad and they will consider “lone-wolf” operations.

Rather than too little evidence, there will be too much. It will take time, but I think they will be successful.

So what do I think they will discover?

Does the viciously random nature of the bombing give a clue to the motive? It was directed at people, including children, who would be expected to be among the spectators. Most terrorists pick targets that embody or symbolize their enemies, as Timothy McVeigh chose the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Anti-government terrorists often see themselves as champions of “the people,” and would be unlikely to want to randomly kill ordinary citizens (McVeigh claimed that he was not aware of the day care center in the Murrah building).

Ted Kacyznski, the Unabomber, targeted universities, airlines, etc., symbols of the technology that he hated. Even George Metesky, the Mad Bomber of Manhattan, placed devices in public places only after his attempts to draw attention to his grievance against Consolidated Edison by bombing its installations was ignored.

On the other, hand, anti-government terrorist Eric Rudolph, who bombed the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta during the 1996 Summer Olympics, did so to protest abortion and the “homosexual agenda.” Rudolph also bombed abortion clinics and a lesbian bar, but it would have been difficult to deduce his motives from the Olympics bombing alone.

Islamic terrorists often (but not always) perpetrate acts of terrorism aimed at the U.S. in general and its people. Examples include the Times Square bombing attempt, the two World Trade Center bombings, attempted bombings of the Sears Tower, airports, etc. In Israel, of course, mass murder attempts are frequent. The common factor is that the Islamic terrorist sees his enemy as the nation as a whole, and public institutions or citizens as legitimate targets.

Al- Qaeda’s Inspire magazine, which tells how to “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.”

What about the bombs? The pressure cooker bomb was described in a DHS bulletin as “[a] technique commonly taught in Afghan terrorist training camps.” A description of such a bomb also appeared in al-Qaeda’s English-language “Inspire” magazine. The use of pressure cookers for bombs dates back at least to 2001, so it is certainly possible that the technique is widely known.

All We Know for Sure is that Boston Will Rise

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

It’s too much to say we don’t know squat yet about the bombing at the Boston Marathon yesterday, but it’s still pretty close.

It was clarified at the press conference yesterday with government officials that there were no additional unexploded devices found near the finish line of the marathon.  The only devices known about so far are the two that exploded, 13 seconds apart, just before 3:00 PM EDT.

The officials were did not expand on the visit of law enforcement to the apartment building in Revere, M.A. late last night.  We already knew that the young Saudi national who was being questioned yesterday was determined to have nothing to do with the bombing. (He is reportedly no longer a focus of investigation).

According to television reports, explosives were made using pressure cookers loaded with ball bearings.  Fox’s Catherine Herridge spoke about the use of triacetone peroxide (TATP) as the explosive agent. The character of the explosions was consistent with TATP.  These readily available materials don’t tell us much right now about who might have been responsible.  They may in the coming days, if the point of sale or commercial manufacturer can be established.

The bombs were effective, which is something.  But a quick search of the internet turns up multiple sites offering general information on what it takes to put together a TATP device.  The bomb’s characteristics don’t automatically finger anyone or rule out any particular group.

The FBI and Boston Police have disclosed nothing about the ongoing investigation, which is understandable.  As far as we know, no one has taken credit for the attack, and we don’t know of any prior warnings that were issued about it (e.g., like bomber Eric Rudolph’s call to police before his bomb went off at the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta in 1996, killing one woman, leading to the death of a man from a heart attack, and injuring 111).

So we simply don’t know, and can’t guess right now, who did this.  We can say that the bombing was relatively small in scope.  The explosions were horrific for those in their immediate vicinity, but the bombs were not big ones, and there were only two.  With each hour that passes, it becomes more evident that there is no larger plot requiring a group of terrorists of significant size.

Based on what we know so far, the overall nature of the attack is most similar to Eric Rudolph’s in Atlanta in 1996.  That doesn’t tell us much, given all the things we don’t know yet.  But we can say some things for certain, such as that this was not an attack on a government facility, like the Oklahoma City bombing of 1995, nor (contra MSNBC hysteric Chris Matthews) was it mounted on April 19th – the actual date of the OKC bombing and the Waco compound assault. (The mass shooting at Columbine high school was on 20 April 1999).

Certainly, the size of the bombs in Boston was nothing like that of the bomb used by Timothy McVeigh to kill 168 people and injure hundreds more, completely destroying the Murrah Federal Building in the process.  McVeigh’s bomb had an explosive effect more powerful than the 2,000-pound warheads used by the U.S. Air Force and Navy.  It had to be transported to the Murrah Building in downtown Oklahoma City in a moving van.

The smaller-bombing M.O. doesn’t rule out Islamist radicals either.  Faizal Shahad, a naturalized U.S. citizen who had trained with terrorists in Pakistan, tried to detonate a single car bomb in Times Square on 1 May 2010.  As with the Atlanta bombing and the Boston Marathon attack, Shahad was targeting an area with a lot of people in it: going for mass casualties rather than attacking particular buildings.  The list of known foiled attacks in the U.S. since 9/11 indicates that Islamist cells plan attacks in different sizes.  They aren’t all envisioned as huge attacks that will bring buildings down.

See hereherehere, and here for the associations of Hezbollah as well as Al Qaeda in the New York and Boston areas.  If it turned out to be the work of Islamist radicals, this bombing would probably have been launched by fewer than a handful in a loosely connected cell, rather than as a coordinated operation overseen by terror-group leadership.

One possibility, of course, is that the bomber(s) don’t live in the Boston area, and may not even live in New England.  Getting the two relatively small bombs to the attack site would not have required living quarters in the vicinity, or other preparations more traceable than the apparent placement of the bombs in trash cans as recorded on CCTV cameras.  It would have been quite possible to ride the trains and/or buses to the attack site, and disappear quietly after detonating the bombs.  (Doing it this way would have required more than one person, in my judgment – at least while riding the public transportation.)

Where to look for a terrorist who has this in mind, and doesn’t plan to take credit for political purposes, is not clear.  The M.O. would be somewhat reminiscent of McVeigh, however, who sought to hide out after the Oklahoma City attack.

There is much that is similar to others in any given bombing attack.  It is not obvious that any group or type of person in particular mounted this one, nor can any be ruled out.  The law-enforcement authorities have their work cut out for them.

(An aside: an official at Massachusetts General Hospital yesterday credited training done two years ago with Israelis for their preparedness to deal with the casualties flooding the hospital after the bombing.  Law enforcement officials would probably benefit from consulting with the Israelis on their manhunt for the bomber(s).)

In the meantime, our hearts go out to the victims and their families, including the family of little Martin Richard, who at eight years old has so far been the youngest fatality.

We can pray that the doctors and nurses will continue to be fit and energetic as they deal with the awful gore and human pain dealt out by this attack.  I saw a comment on Twitter stating that this attack is a reminder of how important the “injuries” are from such an event, even when the death toll seems small.  So many people will have to finish their lives without the limbs we all rely on for simple normality.  Some were fortunate to have received only superficial wounds; too many will see their lives changed forever by what they have lost.  May God’s grace enfold them all.

But Boston will rise.  Rise to the occasion, rise above the pain and loss, rise beyond where she was 24 hours ago, peaceful under the cool spring sun, enjoying Patriots Day, and waiting for the last runners to get to the finish line.

Originally published at The Optimistic Conservative.

Mashaal Cannot Change Hamas

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

The recent re-election of Khaled Mashaal as Hamas leader has been interpreted by some Arab and Western analysts as a sign of the radical Islamist’s desire to march toward “moderation and pragmatism.”

Hamas, according to political analyst Ahmed Rafik Awad, chose the “moderate” Mashaal in order to avoid internal differences.

According to Awad, Mashal is known for his “balanced personality and centrist positions, making him an extremely acceptable figure in the Arab and international arena.”

Another analyst, Walid al-Mudalal, said that the re-election of Mashaal for another four years “would give him a chance to continue his effort to rearrange Hamas’s relations with the West and convince the West that Hamas is not its enemy.”

Some Western analysts have been quick to endorse this theory by pointing out that under Mashaal Hamas would adopt a new and moderate strategy, including accepting Israel’s right to exist.

Their argument is apparently based on remarks made by Mashaal [in English, of course, but not in Arabic] to the effect that Hamas is prepared to accept the two-state solution.

What the optimists are ignoring, however, is Mashaal’s assertion that acceptance of the two-state solution does not mean recognizing Israel’s right to exist.

Mashaal is, in fact, saying that Hamas will accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria -.ed], Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem without giving up its struggle to eliminate Israel.

Hamas re-elected Mashaal not because he has become a pragmatist and a moderate. He was re-elected because Hamas believes that he has the skills to change the West’s attitude toward Hamas. There is, after all, nothing better than a leader who can appear on CNN and try to market Hamas as a peace-loving liberation movement.

Mashaal may be a charismatic and pragmatic man, but at the end of the day he will not be able to change Hamas’s charter calling for the destruction of Israel.

Nor will Mashaal be able to rein in Hamas’s armed wing, Izaddin al-Kassam, which is responsible for hundreds of suicide bombings and thousands of rocket attacks against Israel.

Al-Kassam has many commanders in the Gaza Strip who do not share Mashaal’s ostensible pragmatism and moderation. One of them is Mahmoud Zahar, an influential Hamas figure in the Gaza Strip.

Over the past two years, Mashaal has repeatedly failed to convince his rivals in Hamas to agree to unity with Fatah. When Mashaal signed the last Doha “reconciliation” agreement with Mahmoud Abbas in Qatar last year, most Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip came out against him.

So if Mashaal has been unable to convince his own movement to accept reconciliation with Fatah, he is less likely to persuade other Hamas figures and followers to abandon their radical ideology — let alone accept Israel’s right to exist.

Further evidence of the challenges facing the new-old leader of Hamas was provided this week when leaders of the Islamist movement in the Gaza Strip repeated their commitment to violence.

In response to statements made by U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland to the effect that Washington would not conduct any dialogue with Hamas, leaders of the movement reiterated their refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist or their own willingness to renounce violence.

“We categorically reject these statements,” said Hamas spokesman Ezat al-Risheq. “Hamas refuses to recognize the Zionist entity and the legitimacy of its occupation of Palestine,” he said. “Palestinian resistance is not terrorism, but a legitimate project in line with international laws.”

Hamas Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh, also reaffirmed his movement’s refusal to recognize Israel and renounce terrorism.

Those who expect real changes in Hamas following the re-election of Mashaal are living in an illusion. Even if Mashaal himself changes, Hamas will always remain the same Hamas.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

In Egypt, Pogroms against Christians Have Become Routine

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

On April 7, Islamists threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at mourners attending a funeral at the Cairo cathedral. The funeral was for four young Copts killed in fighting the previous day and to remember victims of a church bombing in 2011. Young Christians ran outside with firecrackers, sticks, and rocks to defend their church. Soon, gunshots erupted outside. The Christians had no guns.

The police stood aside. One man ran into the cathedral and yelled, “The police are firing [teargas] at us….They’re taking the [assailants’] side.” This accusation is confirmed by the article published in al-Ahram, historic flagship newspaper of the old regime but now free (at least temporarily) of government control.

Notice a detail. The newspaper inserted the word “assailants” into the quote. Unless the young man was speaking an expletive, he was probably saying “Muslims.” The Muslim reporter or editor did not change the word to hide the truth—everyone in Egypt knows what was happening—but to avoid inflaming things further and to assert the point that not all Muslims hate and attack Christians.

As noted above, the police didn’t help the Christians. Four Christians were arrested.

As for the government, the Interior Ministry blamed them for the clash, saying that mourners had smashed cars parked by the cathedral leading to fistfights with local residents. But why would mourners randomly vandalize automobiles merely because they were parked in the neighborhood? It isn’t a credible assertion.

As the police stood aside, 29 worshipers were injured. There is not the slightest doubt that the Egyptian government, now as under the previous regime, will never, ever intervene to protect Christians, who constitute about 10 percent of the population. If the police arrest anyone, it will only be Christians; Muslims will not be charged. The courts will never or almost never rule in the favor of any Christians. Indeed, a high-ranking government official accused the Christians themselves of attacking the cathedral!

No Western protests will change this situation; statements of dismay which may appear from time to time are mere window-dressing. The Islamist regime will get big loans and continued U.S. military aid as long as it does not engage in outright massacres.

Some of the worshipers in the cathedral chanted, Down with the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood regime! The bishop urged calm, stressing three principles: justice would come from heaven; Christians would not flee the country; and bloodshed would only strengthen their religious commitment.

But what can the Copts do except resign themselves to continued persecution; Western apologies and help for their persecutors; and a choice between restraint or worse violence?

One idea of some of those in the cathedral was to march to the defense ministry after the funerals in order to demand military protection for the churches. But others pointed out that they could not depend on the army either since it had been involved in past persecutions and deaths.

This is not to say that the Coptic side was necessarily completely innocent in every case. For example, one Muslim was also killed in the clashes that led to the four Christian deaths. Some Muslim, as well as Christian, property was set on fire during the violence around the cathedral.

Yet it is unlikely that Copts, with a long tradition of survival through passivity and submission (forced by the “dhimmi” status imposed on them), badly outnumbered, and facing powerful forces backed by the authorities are the aggressor or that both sides are equally at fault.

The Brotherhood is running the government; the Salafists are running in the streets. Moderate Muslim Egyptians, like those who run al-Ahram for the time being (as a state newspaper it will soon come under Brotherhood control) are unhappy with the persecution but can do nothing.

Things can only get worse. The world is indifferent; the Western mass media is usually determined to be “even-handed” or to ignore the extent of the situation, preferring to seek alleged oppressors in other, near-by countries.

Meanwhile, a change of regime is approaching in Syria, where the Christian population is proportionately larger than in Egypt. In Egypt, Christians were very active in opposing the old regime; but in Syria they have looked to that same doomed regime for protection. In Iraq, most of the Christians have been driven out; in the Gaza Strip reportedly they have all had to leave.

Murder by Rock Throwing is Still Murder

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

News item:

In a groundbreaking decision, a military court found a Palestinian man guilty of murder for throwing a rock at an Israeli car, causing it to crash and killing the driver and his infant son.

The court at Ofer military prison on Tuesday found Wa’al al-Araji, 25, from Halhul, to be directly responsible for the deaths in 2011 of Asher Palmer and his 1-year-old son Yehonatan.

Palmer was driving from his home in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba towards Jerusalem when Araji and accomplices drove towards them in the opposite direction in another vehicle. As the two cars passed each other, Araji hurled a rock that smashed through the windshield, knocking Palmer unconscious. The car swerved off the road, killing its occupants.

The decision was unusual in that the Military Advocate generally does not seek a murder charge against stone-throwing Palestinians, even when their actions cause fatalities. However, the panel of three judges said that, in this particular case, there can be no doubt that the accused intended to kill and had practiced perpetrating similar — although less deadly — attacks in the past.

As I pointed out at the time of the murder,

Every single day, hundreds of rocks, blocks, stones, etc. are thrown at Jewish vehicles in Judea, Samaria, Jerusalem and Arab towns or neighborhoods inside the Green Line. Sometimes photographers are informed in advance that there will be exciting opportunities to view the heroic resistance to occupation. Throwing ‘stones’ (sometimes as big as a person’s head) is what Palestinian Arab adolescents do for entertainment. Even the great Columbia University ‘scholar’ Edward Said symbolically threw a stone across the Lebanese border at Israeli soldiers.

Stone-throwers are rarely caught. In this case, it was several days before the police even admitted that a crime had been committed. And just a few weeks ago, there was a similar incident in which a three-year old girl was critically injured.

Sentence hasn’t been pronounced yet, but al-Araji faces the possibility of a life sentence. Unfortunately Israel does not apply the death penalty to terrorists, who are sent to prison where they are permitted to take correspondence courses and enjoy other benefits until they are released in exchange for hostages taken by other terrorists.

While in prison, he will be paid a salary by the Palestinian Authority, which, when he gets out, will treat him like a hero, a ‘political prisoner’ like Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi or Mahatma Gandhi. Don’t be surprised — consider the treatment received by mass murderer Ahlam Tamimi, responsible for the Sbarro’s Pizza bombing in which 15 lives were snuffed out (including 8 children).

The release of prisoners has been an important demand made by the PLO, and at times has even been given by Mahmoud Abbas as a precondition for negotiations with Israel. It is an integral part of the Arab narrative that what they do — what we call ‘terrorism’ — is justified, akin to self-defense, a legitimate ‘resistance to occupation’.

At least, that’s the Western translation of their narrative, often dressed up in neo-colonial theory in which the ‘colonized’ are justified in resisting the ‘colonizers’ by any means (academics particularly eat this nonsense up).

Probably in Arab minds it is more like “they took our land and our honor, and we will get it back by killing them, especially the children they value so much.” That might be a little raw for Western sensibilities.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

An Awakening…or Just Terror?

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

Over the years I have urged readers to look behind the news. Now, amid relentless socio-political eruption and upheaval taking place across the Middle East and North Africa, there has still been too little serious effort to look for any underlying meanings and explanations. To some extent, perhaps, the reasons for this laxity have to do with an apparent sense of obviousness. On the surface, after all, much of the violence is entirely predictable, having been spawned by the traditionally visible array of Islamist fears andjihadist goals.

In essence, cascading and intersecting crises of religion, war, and terror in volatile sectors of the Islamic world represent distinctly primal kinds of social behavior. Such behavior, moreover, is the inevitable result of both compelling private needs, and ecstatic collective expectations.

Sometimes, even more than their typically overriding need to avoid death, human beings want to belong. This often desperate need can be manifested harmlessly, as in sports hysteria or rock concerts, or more perniciously, as in rioting, war, and terrorism. In all cases, however, the critically underlying motivations are pretty much the same.

Back in classical Greece, Aristotle had already proclaimed that “Man is a social animal.” Now, we readily understand that even the “normal” individual often feels empty and insignificant apart from his or her membership in the “mass,” the “crowd,” or the “herd.” Often, that herd is the state. Sometimes it is the tribe. Sometimes it is the faith (always, the “one true faith”). Sometimes it is the liberation movement, or, in a plainly kindred relationship, the revolution.

Whatever the particular demanding collectivity of the moment, it is the persistent craving for membership that hastens to bring forth a catastrophic downfall of individual responsibility, and, as corollary, a corrosive triumph of collective will. Today, unless millions of our fellow humans in parts of the Middle East and North Africa can learn to temper their overwhelming desire to belong, the prevailing military and political schemes to control regional violence, war, and terrorism will inevitably fail.

To best understand what is going on here analysts must first learn to locate pre-political causes. These “molecular” explanations stem from the celebrated fusion of susceptible individuals into popular crowd-centered collectives. Not every mass or crowdor tribe or herd is pernicious, of course, but war and terrorism can never take place in the absence of consuming collective identifications.

Whenever individuals crowd together and form a herd, the murderous dynamics of the mob may be released, thus lowering each person’s moral and intellectual level to a point where absolutely anything, even mass killing, can be accepted.

Publicly, current Arab/Islamic rioting, war and terror are fueled by certain effectively incontestable presumptions of Divine Will. In reality, of course, the net result of homicide bombings, chaotic riots, and mass denunciations must always be to drown out any residual hint of sacredness or godliness. Once empathy and compassion outside the Islamist herd go intentionally unrewarded, they become extraneous, and as virtues completely beside the point.

In the presumed name of divinity, Arab/Islamist war, terror, and the murder of “others” impose upon the wider world neither salvation nor holiness but groupthink. Reciprocally, and expectedly, the hideously intolerant rhythms of such a suffocating ethos make it increasingly futile to advance any meaningful efforts at coexistence. This futility is especially troubling in Israel, where assorted promises of a peaceful “two-State solution” are resoundingly unpersuasive.

To mount now urgent investigations of an already widening Arab/Islamic jihad against Israel and the United States, our scholars and policy makers should begin to look more closely at human meaning. Before we can prevent further expanding violence against innocents, certain Arab/Islamic states and terrorist groups will have to be shorn of their capacity to bestow significance upon complicit individuals. To affect those individuals who now turn ritually to rioting, war, terror, and killing for affirmations of importance, we will first have to identify more benign and similarly appealing sources of belonging.

An underlying cause of present Islamist violence in Libya, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Sudan and elsewhere in the region is the enduring incapacity of individuals to draw authentic meaning from within themselves. In the Middle East and North Africa, at least among large swaths of enthusiastic Islamists, true redemption still requires Muslims to present tangible proof of “membership.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/louis-bene-beres/an-awakeningor-just-terror/2013/03/06/

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