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After weeks of combat in Gaza, pundits sort out “Who won?” The weak side (Hamas) claims points for just surviving, despite the massive hammering its leadership and its constituents endured, while the strong side (Israel), whatever its battle-field gains, lost the “cognitive war” — big time. In the topsy-turvy universe of Middle East politics, nothing succeeds like failure on the battlefield and nothing fails like military success.
As for the ancillary players, more losers all around: journalists’ credibility dangerously damaged; UNHRC and UNRWA behavior, embarrassingly partisan; Secretary of State Kerry and President Obama, astonishingly clueless and blundering; intellectual left shamefully right-wing in its embrace of anti-Semitic discourse. Consensus assessment of many analysts: Operation Protective Edge (OPE) has produced only losers and bigger losers.
Only one group emerged from OPE a grand winner: European Jihadis. During the weeks of Israel pounding Hamas while Hamas hid behind civilians, demonstrators spilled out into the streets of Western and Muslim cities the world over to protest “Israeli genocide of the Palestinians,” even as they shouted “Death to Jews!” #Hitlerwasright, “Jews to the ovens!” Shops ransacked, Jews refused medical services, attacked in riots, Jewish businesses boycotted. For Jihadis, OPE offered a whole new, and possibly permanent, level of public violence. In Germany: “Hamas! Hamas! Jews to the Gas!”; in France, “Death to Jews! Slit Jews Throats!” This time, the chant has become a battle cry for bands of “youths,” armed with metal bars, running after Jews. And European Jews are packing their bags.
In the Jewish diaspora community and Israel, the alarm was palpable. “Time to go?” asked Shmuel Trigano rhetorically about France. Why? Not only because once again, people killed and sought to kill Jews in the streets of Europe, but because the news media continually played down the amplitude of the violence and hatred, and the authorities, both police and judiciary, resisted it half-heartedly. In France, as in England, anti-Semites no longer hide; unafraid of police, they roam the streets like the brown shirts of yore. Is this the “beginning of the end” of a two-millennia-long Jewish presence in Europe?
Jihadis, of course, delight in these new levels of both hatred and violence. For them, it’s a quadruple win: 1) depict Israel as the Dajjal (Antichrist) to Western audiences; 2) roam through the streets of Western cities yelling Jihadi slogans; 3) accelerate the expulsion of Jews from Europe as preparation for its conquest; and 4) keep the Europeans thinking this violence only targets Jews, and only because of Israel. For Jihadis, these past weeks confirm what they have long believed: that this is the Muslim century in which, among others, Europe joins Dar al Islam.
How did this happen? How did it get so bad before we noticed it? Are we observing changes of civilizational magnitude?
Global Consequences of Lethal Journalism: The Muslim Street
The story of this episode of Jew-hatred, whose rage is not yet spent, begins in 2000 and continues apace during the aughts (2000-09) and well into the teens. Ironically, it seems to be the unintended consequence of a Palestinian asymmetrical war strategy designed to fight Israel, that has turned out to be another, much greater, boon for global Jihad. The spectacular success of Palestinian war propaganda, delivered to the West as news by journalists, activated a violent “Muslim Street,” whose presence, and whose dominant trope of Jew-hatred, stormed onto the stage of European civilization.
With the Palestinians started the “Al Aqsa Intifada” in late September 2000, they could count on journalists to blame Israel. These journalists saw their job as standing “shoulder to shoulder” with the Palestinians, or “leveling the playing field” by recycling Palestinian “lethal narratives” about the IDF deliberately targeting civilians, especially children. What they may not have calculated on was the explosive impact those lethal narratives would have on Western, especially on European society, the way they would systematically promote global Jihad.
The most dramatic, indeed explosive example of such lethal journalism comes on September 30, with France2’s airing of footage purporting, following instructions from the Palestinians, to show the IDF targeting and killing a Palestinian boy who died in the arms of his father. This particular lethal narrative had an immense impact, indeed, became the 21st century’s icon of hatred. It immediately triggered violent riots among Israeli Arabs, and the murderous attacks of the Oslo Intifada among Palestinians. Osama bin Laden almost immediately exploited the story to recruit for global Jihad: as war propaganda inspiring hatred of Israel, no image could compare for emotive power.
Stranger than the Jihadi reaction to this image but no less powerful, Post-Christian Europeans seized upon it as a “get-out-of-Holocaust-guilt-free” card. “This boy’s death” opined a prominent news anchor, “erased, replaced the image of the boy in the Warsaw Ghetto.” One can with difficulty imagine a more staggering case of moral disorientation: dubious video footage of a boy caught in a crossfire started by his own side, trumps an image symbolic of the deliberate murder of a million children by the Nazis? And yet, on the wings of this secular substitution theology, Zionazism entered the public sphere: Israelis become the new Nazis, and the Palestinians the new Jews.
Europeans, especially the French, reran the image repeatedly, “l’image choc” of the Intifada. But even as they did so to satisfy their own needs, they waved a flag of Jihad in front of their immigrant Muslim populations. Already in the first week of the violence that became known as the al Aqsa intifada, for example, Parisian “Leftists” and Muslims from the suburbs met in Place de la République to protest the murder of Muhammad al Durah. There, under a banner equating Israel to the Nazis, for the first time since the Holocaust, the cry “Death to Jews” was heard in a European capital.
In the coming weeks, months and years, stoked by a constant stream of pictures and stories about Palestinian suffering, the “intifada of the suburbs” imported the violence of the Middle East to Europe, especially the ZUS (zones urbaines sensibles) where furious and aggressive Muslims targeted a largely defenseless Jewish population. Starting quite specifically in early October 2000, the “new anti-Semitism” began to “rise from the muck” in France and throughout Europe.
Subsequently, each new outbreak of violence between Israel and its most implacable Jihadi enemies – Fatah, Hamas, Hizbullah, Islamic Jihad – has led to a wave of lethal journalism, which in turn has sparked widespread protests the world over, featuring vituperation against Israel that has spilled over readily into Jew-hatred. In 2 002, after weeks of false but ubiquitous media reports of a massacre at Jenin, Westerners, wearing mock suicide bomb-belts and carrying pictures of Sharon with a swastika on his forehead, marched through the streets of Europe, unaware that they were a parody of those who, in the movie Independence Day, welcomed the ETs about to blast them to bits. In 2006, Jostein Gaarder wrote a supersessionist screed against “God’s Chosen People”, and Judith Butler welcomed Hizbullah and Hamas into the embrace of the “global progressive left.” In 2009, members of the German Die Linke party marched in a gender-segregated march, shouting Allahu Akhbar, and Death to Israel, while members of the British protestors rallied to the cry, “We are Hamas,” and drove British police through the streets of London. And now, 2014.
So rapidly and powerfully did this street presence of protestors emerge, that already by 2003, some began to speak of the emergence in the West (especially in Europe) of a Muslim Street, possibly stronger and more intimidating than the famed and intimidating “Arab Street.” Nor was the Muslim Street limited to anti-Israel demonstrations. In February 2003, some 6-30 million people worldwide participated in protests against US President George Bush’s plans to invade Iraq, described by participants as “the largest peace rally” in history.
No incident better illustrates the way in which Jihadis coopted the “peace” movement than the militant tenor of these alleged anti-war rallies, with their huge posters of Saddam Hussein and Yasser Arafat, a development that stunned some observers into a realization that something disturbing had happened to the Left. Seduced by the vision of a global progressive left leading the world as a counter-weight to American imperial hegemony, secular, anti-imperialist progressives welcomed the support of the imperialist global Jihadis, virulent anti-Semitism and its twin anti-Americanism.
By the mid-aughts, the Muslim Street, buoyed by its enthusiastic welcome in the “anti-war” rallies against Israel and the US, went solo. The Ramadan Riots of November 2005 in France (below) began open hostilities between a neo-tribal Jihad for control of the ZUS – no-go zones in the heart of Europe, increasingly “lost territories of the Republic.” The Danish Cartoon Scandal, ginned by radicals with a forged cartoon of Muhammad as a pig, took the globe by storm. In the London demonstration in front of the Danish Embassy in February 2006, we see for the first time, the Jihadi Muslim Street formally protesting, under police protection. Next to a man wearing a fake suicide vest, only months after the London transport bombing (7-7-2005), and speeches about conquering Denmark and raping their women, men carried signs with messages like: EUROPE YOU WILL PAY YOUR EXTERMINATION IS ON THE WAY, and ISLAM WILL DOMINATE THE WORLD.
In hundreds of similar encounters all over Europe, the Muslim Street has grown bolder, more aggressive with each passing year. The anti-Jewish pogroms of 2014 represent the most openly aggressive of the manifestations of the Muslim Street in Europe today, and coincide with the most openly Jihadi discourse. “Never before,” editorialized one paper, “have the sympathizers of Islamic terror appeared so openly in Germany.” Amsterdam presided over a pro-ISIS rally shouting “death to Jews!” even as those Jihadis slaughter infidels who refused conversion to Islam. In Norway, Jihadis threaten their host country with “another 9-11” if they don’t create a separate Sharia-ruled section of the Oslo where Muslims need not “live with dirty beasts like you.”
I suspect that most Jihadis were taken by surprise with these successes in the aughts and beyond. Only a true believer in 2000 could imagine that the West would so extensively indulge open Islamist aggression, and cooperate so readily with broader Muslim demands to silence criticism. Even the most optimistic Jihadi did not expect his progressive allies – UN and “Human Rights” NGOs, post-colonial academics and journalists – who after all, differed with them on all principles and moral values except for their shared enemy, to open up the gates of the global public sphere to their war narrative (that targeted them), and keep that invitation open so long.
The High Cost of Jew-Baiting: Metastasis of Global Jihad
2000 marks the metastasis of Jihad from the margins where it first began at the turn of the Muslim 15th century (1400=1979) – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Nigeria – to a phenomenon with an increasingly assertive presence in the West. Almost a year after the outbreak of the Al Durah Intifada, an alliance of “Human Rights” NGOs under the aegis of the UN turned a conference against hatred and racism in Durban, South Africa, into a hatefest targeting Israel and the US (the Muslim’s Great and Little Satan), which actually formalized the anti-Zionist focus of the “Jihadi-Red” alliance. When, shortly after the close of the conference, Bin Laden struck on 9-11, he tapped into an enormous reserve of anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism among Western infidels. He and other Jihadis had found the vulnerable underbelly of Western European culture.
If it those who indulged in Zionazi Jew-baiting realized it was not cost-free, few showed awareness of the catastrophic price tag. No one linked (dared link) it to the ever-more aggressive Muslim presence in the public sphere. After 9-11: more Muslim women wearing hijab, more confrontations in children’s parks, more clashes between Jihadi discourse and the rapidly crumbling objections of civil society, more Muslim public prayer that claimed the area – in some cases main thoroughfares on Friday afternoon – as temporary Sharia zones.
And something much worse… a darkness permeated the most radical parts of both the Muslim community, and the Left. Conspiracy theory, genocidal hatred, blood libels, seasoned a toxic millennial stew that took the media’s lethal journalism and turned it into a grand narrative of Jihadi victory over not just the Jews, but all opponents of the true faith. Some Islamists believed that now was, as Hamas piously hopes in its charter, the apocalyptic time to exterminate the Jews. Adopting the belief that “kill a Jew, go to heaven,” some of the bolder began the ritual slaughter: a talented Jewish disk jocky, throat slit by a long-time Muslim friend in the parking of their building, a stranger lured into a lengthy and loud torture unto death in a ZUS, which no one dared disrupt. “I’ve killed my Jew, I can go to heaven.” When in 2009, a French-born Algerian Muslim killed Jewish children at point-blank range in order to avenge the Palestinian children killed by the Jews, while official Muslims stood side by side with their Jewish colleagues, in the tribal Muslim circles, the child-killer was a hero.
The balance of cultural power shifted dramatically. Jihad became, in Bin Laden’s words after 9-11, the “strong horse,” gaining momentum with every passing year. Every cycle of lethal journalism provoked aggressive public protest, demonization, pushing violence it to new levels. Europe’s extensive civic strength crumbled like a cultural Maginot Line: Muslim hate speech flourished, transgressing boundary after boundary with only desultory resistance. A common response to the wave of suicide bombings starting in 2001 in Israel dismissed them: “What choice do they have?” “It’s an act of despair.” By mid-decade, the first round appeared of books appeared, warning that Europe was collapsing culturally before the onslaught.
But the intelligentsia waved away such warnings as alarmist, right-wing, racist, Islamophobic war-mongering. They thus marginalized the voices of admonition, even as they mainstreamed the voices of Jihad. Nor was this an initial tendency corrected by encounters with the realities. The Western denial and dissembling of Jihadi ideas and activities, effected by the very targets of that war-narrative, represents one of the more astonishing elements of this young and already momentous century.
Perhaps the most important work, then, involves this Western aspect of the problem: mainstream denial. The same journalists who over-reported lethal narratives about Israel, no smatter how dishonest, under-reported the constant assaults on civil society from Muslims, no matter how true. Daily, weekly, monthly Jihadi violations of civic rules, aggressions that include gang rape and wanton murder, go unreported, or attributed to alienated “jeunes.” The Ramadan riots of 2005, for example, had nothing to do with Islam.
There results a cultural form of congenital analgesia, where the nerves don’t inform the brain of the body social’s pain. Agents of invasion arrive under cover of silence provided by their intended victim, even as that victim attacks those who warn it of danger. One can understand the pessimistic prognoses of close observers: this is a virulent form of auto-immune disease.
Hamas Global Apocalyptic Strategy and the Western Media
Westerners have tended to think of Hamas as a local/regional group, a Palestinian political movement. Hamas see itself, however, as part of a larger effort to bring the whole world into Dar al Islam: Hamas’ Jihadi target is Israel, other “Islamist” movements target other parts of Dar al Harb. Hamas policy debates about a hudna with Israel, pits those who want a respite to rearm, with those who think that if Hamas continues to “fight” this, and continues to get Gazans killed, that terrible outcome will further strengthen the global Jihad. Apocalyptic warriors have no problem sacrificing the lives of an entire people, in this case the wretched inhabitants of Gaza. Each death is a worthy sacrifice in the civilian embedded war Hamas conducts against Israel, the greater the suffering, the greater the inspiration to the Salafis, the companions of Muhammad to conduct Jihad the world over, and the more self-destructively do Westerners respond to that Jihad.
Such a sacrifice, a national martyrdom, would in their minds break through the last restraints on Jew hatred, and unleash the blood-stained tide the world over, a destructive prelude to bringing on the messianic global Caliphate. ISIS gives us a view of the abyss. Any serious Hamas Jihadi, despite claiming to speak for the Palestinian people, would willingly sacrifice them all, for the sake of the global goal.
In order for this insanely destructive path to succeed, however, the news media has to continue to blame Israel and pass over in relative silence the dastardly behavior of Hamas. To stop doing so will be difficult: it means challenging Hamas intimidation, and it means “supporting the Israeli narrative,” apparently a dangerous thing for journalists to do. It also means turning off the spigot of lethal narratives about Israel, it means no longer indulging the dangerous appetite for moral Schadenfreude. As long as the West saves Jihadis, empowers them, supplies them, and blames Israel for their suicidal and genocidal desires, these apocalyptic warriors will continue to their own people killed (and even kill them)… to the greater glory of the global Jihad, especially in the West.
This does not mean one has to adopt the Israeli narrative (there are actually many) as “true”; just that one must question the Palestinian one, and cease pumping their malevolent war propaganda as reliable accounts into the Western public sphere that the Jihadis target for destruction. The belief that the IDF deliberately kill children, or that Israel is a racist society, represent some of the most astonishing inversions of any fair comparative assessment of Israel. Time to sober up from the moral inversion that, for the last 15 years, has done so much damage to civil society worldwide.