22 Jun 2004 BBoard on Beethoven.com
Haggis(Dallas) & Iliam(UK) posted...
Haggis posted 06-15-2004 12:04 PM
The situation in the Middle East is a direct result of events caused by a number of countries in the late 19th century or so, and, as frequently is the case, most of those countries were predominately European. The history of the Middle East in the twentieth century can only be described as both absurd and deadly.
The French created Lebanon as a reward for the large Christian population in Syria that had been traditional French allies.
The British, double-crossing their Hashemite Bedouin army (of Lawrence of Arabia fame) that had help them drive the Ottoman’s away from the Suez Canal, gave the holy shrines of Mecca and Medina to the Wahabis. The Hashemites had controlled those shrines since the 13th century.
Then the British created “Trans Jordan” (literally “Over the Jordan River”) out of the desert to harbor the Bedouins they double-crossed. The Hashemites’ “secret mission” has been to survive and to never forget their lost inheritance. Every since then the Jordanian (Hashemites) eyes have been squarely on regaining Mecca and dealing with the usurper Saudis.
So, the French invented Lebanon, the British invented Jordan, and the Syrians claimed everything. Then the Jews showed up, bought up the land from absentee Arab landowners and kicked the Palestinians off the land and started farming.
Most of these groups are not countries as much as they are tribes with tribal goals.
A summary quoted from an article written in STRATFOR some years back sums up the current situation and the rather bleak projection for the future:
“There are no permanent solutions to the region’s problems. All of the current structures are merely temporary and artificial, some without any real substance at all. How does one make peace in Lebanon when Lebanon is neither a nation nor a state? How can Syria, which sees itself as the rightful heir to Jordan, Israel and Lebanon, give up its inheritance without giving up its identity? How can Israel, which cannot decide if it is the Third Temple or a place to produce low-cost microprocessors, make a lasting peace with a Jordan whose real interest is to dream of a return to Mecca and 700 years of greatness?
The best that can be hoped for is temporary periods of relatively little mayhem. . Many conquerors have come into this region from the outside, dreaming of permanent empire. They all have gone away, many broken by the experience.
American dreams of permanent, stable arrangements would be funny, if they weren’t so dangerous.”
Originally posted by Haggis:Stand by for a long and hopefully fair description of where we are in the middle east and how it just about as good as it it EVER going to get.
I spent many of my formative years living among Arabs (mainly North Africa) I first read the Quran when I was 10 ( my mother made me!)
I then spent a number of years in the military, spending a great deal of time in the Middle East in one moslem country or another and probably have a greater appreciation of Islam and the Middle East than most Americans.
Personally, I have always believed that “Peace”, as Americans view it, is out of the question in the Middle East. To see why I feel that way, we have to look at the history.
The situation in the Middle East is a direct result of events caused by a number of countries in the past century or so, and, as frequently is the case, most of those countries were predominately European. The history of the Middle East in the twentieth century can only be described as both absurd and deadly.
Until the end of World War I, Ottoman Turks ruled the area from the Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf, as well as the entire Saudi peninsula. Allied with Germany, the Ottomans struggled to hold on to an empire that had been in retreat for centuries. The British badly wanted to defeat the Ottomans.
Having built the Suez Canal, which gave them rapid access to India and China, they had to protect it. They needed to secure the sea-lanes of the eastern Mediterranean and drive the Turks away from the Canal and its approaches. The British conducted a series of campaigns to break the Turks, including the disastrous Gallipoli landings and the more successful invasion of the province of Syria by General Allenby, who was supported by a Bedouin army recruited from the Arabian Peninsula. Controlled by British intelligence and special operations teams, including that of the famous Lawrence of Arabia, they first loosened Turkish control over Arabia and then supported Allenby’s attack on Jerusalem and Damascus.
King Hussein’s tribe, the Hashemite, (Jordan came later, read on) was the engine behind the operation.
The British were allied with the French, which meant they had to share the spoils of war. The British kept Iraq and the Arabian Peninsula for themselves. They did divide the Ottoman province of Syria, which contained today’s Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. The division, codified in the then secret Sykes-Picot agreement, was extraordinarily arbitrary. A line was drawn through the province. Everything to the north would be French. Everything to the south would be British.
The French had been making trouble in this area since the 1880s, when they had intruded into another Lebanese civil war, siding with Christian factions. The French owed the Christians a great deal. They also wanted to cement their control of the region by creating a pro-French Christian state. The Christians were at the time in the majority (they no longer are), but the area reserved for them contained Shiite, Sunni, and Alawite Muslims, Druse, and a wide variety of Christians. The religious groups were further divided among themselves along clan lines, with some of the bitterest hatreds dividing clans of the same religion (It’s still very much this way in Somalia). Thus, Lebanon was a contrivance without any reality. It didn’t even have a real name, so they named it after a prominent geographic feature, Mount Lebanon. It was as good a name as any.
Fortunately, the French ran out of ideas for improvements and left the rest of Syria intact, not even changing its name. They did, however, get rid of the Hashemite King the British had selected (not Hussein). The British gave him the consolation prize of the Iraqi throne.
The British were busy double-crossing everyone. They had made many promises to many people. They had promised various competing Bedouin tribes that they would be given responsibility for Mecca, just as they promised in the Balfour Declaration that they would give the Jews a homeland while also promising the Arabs that they would be allowed to control their own destiny. They were particularly close to King Hussein’s tribe, the Hashemites, who had governed Mecca since the 13th century. Having spearheaded the British campaign against the Ottomans, you might have thought that the Hashemites were in good shape.
Unfortunately, a rapidly rising Bedouin tribe, the Saud who were Wahabi Moslems, had become more powerful than the Hashemite, and the British double-crossed the Hashemites, turning the Arabian Peninsula and the guardianship of Mecca over to them.
The British had to figure out what to do with the Hashemites. The royal family could be given thrones, but the tribe itself had to get out of Arabia, since they would be torn apart by the Sauds or, at the very least, destabilize the region. The British decided to settle them in the middle of nowhere. There was not a whole lot east of the Jordan River, so the British decided to put them there. The region had no name, since it was primarily a wasteland of little interest to anyone.
So they named it for where it was—the other side of the Jordan or to be fancy, Trans-Jordan. After independence in 1948, the word “trans” was dropped out and the modern state of Jordan or, to be more precise, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was born as a homeland for a displaced band of Bedouin with nowhere else to go.
The rest of the “mandate” was left with the same name it had when it was a county within the Ottoman province of Syria, Filistina, after the Biblical people that produced Goliath. The British kept that name and it became bastardized into English as Palestine. And so the modern map of the region was born.
Palestine consisted of small villages surviving on agriculture and small merchants. Divided among Moslem, Christian, Druse and Jewish communities, much of the land was owned by absentee landlords. The people of Palestine had as much in common with the Hashemite Bedouins across the river in Jordan as a New Yorker has with a Montana cowboy -- enough not to like each other a lot and not to understand each other at all. They were now all neighbors.
So, the French invented Lebanon, the British invented Jordan, a county became Palestine, and the Syrians claimed everything. Then the Jews showed up.
If things weren’t wild enough before, Jewish intellectuals from Poland decided to come and farm in the middle of this insanity. The fact that they couldn’t speak Arabic merely added to their charm, since they also knew nothing about farming. Jews living in London purchased the land from Arabs living in Paris and Cairo, thereby throwing people who had farmed the land for generations off their land. Out of this, the State of Israel was born.
The Jews settled primarily along the coastal plain as well as in the Galilee. There were relatively few settlements in what is today the West Bank. The Lebanese were not unhappy with creation of Israel, since they were Christian and liked anything that gave the Moslems a headache.
The Hashemites in Jordan were not too unhappy either. They had never really gotten along with their Palestinian brothers. After the War of Independence in 1948, the West Bank remained under Arab rule. Since, at that time, no one had yet thought of an independent Palestine (the main thinking then was that Palestine still belonged to Syria), governance of the West Bank fell to the only Arab country physically connected to it, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.
This was big trouble for the Jordanians, since the Hashemites didn’t like the Palestinians and the Palestinians didn’t like the Hashemites. King Hussein’s grandfather (also King Hussein, there were a lot of them) held secret talks with the Israelis on a peace settlement designed to keep the Palestinians under control. Unfortunately for him, the peace talks didn’t stay secret and he was assassinated.
From 1948 until 1967, the (recently deceased) King Hussein, who succeeded his grandfather, was in constant danger from the Palestinians. In many ways he welcomed the Israeli conquest of the West Bank, since it made the Palestinians their problem rather than his. Unfortunately for him, there were masses of Palestinian refugees living in Jordan after 1967, who decided that it was time to get rid of the Hashemites and create their own state. They tried to do just that in September 1970.
Unfortunately for them, the Bedouin Army that had been trained by the British not only defeated the Palestinians but also conducted a horrific, brutal massacre, securing the Hashemite throne from its only real threat, the Palestinians. The single largest cause of Palestinians deaths in the 20th Century, the “Black September” massacre, was at the hands of another group of Moslems. Remember the “Black September” terrorist organization of the early ‘70s? This was the genesis of that group, and indirectly, Hamas.
The “Black September” massacre had two effects. It directly spawned a wave of Palestinian terrorism and it turned King Hussein into a wise statesman. Having taken care of his Palestinian problem, he could now take the long view. In fact, the last thing Hussein wanted to see was a Palestinian state.
Such a state, bordered by Israel and Jordan, would inevitably seek to topple the Hashemite throne in order to break out of an impossible encirclement. Hussein’s brilliance was to appear to be an urbane man and wise ruler utterly dedicated to peace while doing everything possible to prevent the emergence of an independent Palestinian state and shifting the blame to Israel. He always hoped the Oslo Peace accord would eventually collapse; his vision has been realized.
The last thing Hussein wanted was Yasir Arafat feeling hemmed in on the other side of the Jordan. His mortal enemies, the Saudis, still rule Arabia (off topic, I wonder how much Hussein’s support for Iraq in 1990 had to do with dreams of a return to Mecca after the defeat of the Saudis?)
Syria still claims the entire old Ottoman province including Jordan. No one knows what Saddam in Iraq will do next. King Hussein’s exiled Hashemites had more than enough to worry about. The last thing he wanted to see was an independent Palestinian state threatening his country from the east.
The point to all of this is that there are no permanent solutions to the region’s problems. All of the current structures are merely temporary and artificial, some without any real substance at all. How does one make peace in Lebanon when Lebanon is neither a nation nor a state? How can Syria, which sees itself as the rightful heir to Jordan, Israel and Lebanon, give up its inheritance without giving up its identity? How can Israel, which cannot decide if it is the Third Temple or a place to produce low-cost microprocessors, make a lasting peace with a Jordan whose real interest is to dream of a return to Mecca and 700 years of greatness?
There is nothing permanent in this region save perpetual instability. What we have now is as good as it will ever get.
Remember, most of these groups are not countries as they are tribes with tribal goals. The Hashemites’ (Jordan’s) “secret mission” has been to survive and to never forget their lost inheritance. That is everyone’s ”secret mission” in the region. That means tension, conspiracy and war.
The best that can be hoped for is temporary periods of relatively little mayhem. . Many conquerors have come into this region from the outside, dreaming of permanent empire. They all have gone away, many broken by the experience.
American dreams of permanent, stable arrangements would be funny, if they weren’t so dangerous.
Finally, have you noticed that there are no freely elected governments in any country that uses Islam as its guiding principal?
Pakistan was the last that got close, but its now a more or less benevolent dictatorship.
Pakistan Today had an interesting editorial that reads in part:
"In an Islamist controlled society, debate is forbidden, difference of opinion and dissension is considered a perversion, and modern education a threat. Individual reasoning is forbidden. And expression of doubt about any aspect of the "religiously mandated" social, cultural and political sociology is barred as blasphemy.
Anyone attempting to challenge the status quo is instantly declared an apostate. An Islamist mind is a possessed mind - a condition that compels him or her to live to destroy others. An Islamist does not believe in living side by side with anyone who does not conform to his or her ideology. His life is a constant Jihad (holy war) to overwhelm and eradicate infidels."
lliam posted 06-20-2004 10:12 AM
The First Crusade played a very important part in Medieval England. The First Crusade was an attempt to re-capture Jerusalem. After the capture of Jerusalem by the Muslims in 1076, any Christian who wanted to pay a pilgrimage to the city faced a very hard time. Muslim soldiers made life very difficult for the Christians and trying to get to Jerusalem was filled with danger for a Christian. This greatly angered all Christians.
One Christian - called Alexius I of Constantinople - feared that his country might also fall to the Muslims as it was very close to the territory captured by the Muslims. Constantinople is in modern day Turkey. Alexius called on the pope - Urban II - to give him help.
In 1095, Urban spoke to a great crown at Clermont in France. He called for a war against the Muslims so that Jerusalem was regained for the Christian faith. In his speech he said:
"Christians, hasten to help your brothers in the East, for they are being attacked. Arm for the rescue of Jerusalem under your captain Christ. Wear his cross as your badge. If you are killed your sins will be pardoned."
Those who volunteered to go to fight the Muslims cut out red crosses and sewed them on their tunics. The French word "croix" means cross and the word changed to "croisades" or crusades. The fight against the Muslims became a Holy War.
Many people did volunteer to fight on the First Crusade.
There were true Christians who wanted to reclaim Jerusalem for their belief and get the Muslims out of the city.
There were those who knew they had committed sin and that by going on the Crusade they might be forgiven by God. They had also been told by the pope that if they were killed, they would automatically go to heaven as they were fighting for God.
There were those who thought that they might get rich by taking the wealth that they thought existed in Jerusalem.
Any crusader could claim to be going on a pilgrimage for God - pilgrims did not have to pay tax and they were protected by the Church.
The First Crusade had a very difficult journey getting to the Middle East. They could not use the Mediterranean Sea as the Crusaders did not control the ports on the coast of the Middle East. Therefore, they had to cross land. They travelled from France through Italy, then Eastern Europe and then through what is now Turkey. They covered hundreds of miles, through scorching heat and also deep snow in the mountain passes. The Crusaders ran out of fresh water and according to a survivor of the First Crusade who wrote about his experiences after his return, some were reduced to drinking their own urine, drinking animal blood or water that had been in sewage. Food was bought from local people but at very expensive prices. Odo of Deuil claims that these men who were fighting for God were reduced to pillaging and plunder in order to get food.
Disease was common especially as men were weakened by the journey and drinking dirty water. Dysentery was common. Heat stroke also weakened many Crusaders. Disease and fatigue affected rich and poor alike. One of the Crusades leaders - Frederick of Barbarossa - was so weak that when he tried to swim across a river, he drowned.
By 1097, nearly 10,000 people had gathered at Constantinople ready for the journey to the Holy Land. There was no one person in charge of the First Crusade. Urban II had made Bishop Adbenar the leader but he preferred to let others do the work and make decisions. They were four separate proper Crusader armies in the First Crusade but also a large number of smaller armies. However, there was no proper command structure and with the problems of communications at that time, it is possible that a command structure with one person in charge was an impossibility.
The first target of the Crusaders was the important fortress city of Nicea. This city was taken by the Crusaders without too much trouble as the man in charge of it was away fighting !!
The next target for the Crusaders was Antioch - a strongly protected Turkish city. It took a seven month siege before the city fell. The next target was Jerusalem.
The attack and capture of Jerusalem started in the summer of 1099. Jerusalem was well defended with high walls around it. The first attacks on the city were not successful as the Crusaders were short of materials for building siege machines. Once logs had arrived, two siege machines were built.
A monk called Fulcher was on the First Crusade. He wrote about the attack on the Holy City and he can be treated as an eye-witness as to what took place.
Fulcher claimed that once the Crusaders had managed to get over the walls of Jerusalem, the Muslim defenders there ran away. Fulcher claimed that the Crusaders cut down anybody they could and that the streets of Jerusalem were ankle deep in blood. The rest of the Crusaders got into the city when the gates were opened. The slaughter continued and the Crusaders "killed whoever they wished". Those Muslims who had their lives spared, had to go round and collect the bodies before dumping them outside of the city because they stank so much. The Muslims claimed afterwards that 70,000 people were killed and that the Crusaders took whatever treasure they could from the Dome of the Rock.
After the success of the Crusaders, the Kingdom of Jerusalem was created and its first king was Godfrey of Bouillon who was elected by other crusaders. He died in 1100 and was succeeded by his brother Baldwin of Boulogne.
The capture of Jerusalem did not end the Crusades as the Crusaders wanted to get rid of the Muslims from the whole region and not just Jerusalem. This desire lead to the other crusades.
lliam posted 06-20-2004 10:35 AM
Saladin and Richard the Lionheart are two names that tend to dominate the Crusades. Both have gone down in medieval history as great military leaders though their impact was limited to the Third Crusade.
Saladin was a great Muslim leader. His real name was Salah al-Din Yusuf. He united and led the Muslim world and in 1187, he recaptured Jerusalem for the Muslims after defeating the King of Jerusalem at the Battle of Hattin near the Lake of Galilee. When his soldiers entered the city of Jerusalem, they were not allowed to kill civilians, rob people or damage the city. The more successful Saladin was, the more the Muslims saw him as being their natural leader.
The Christians of Western Europe were stunned by the success of Saladin. The pope, Gregory VIII, ordered another crusade immediately to regain the Holy City for the Christians. This was the start of the Third Crusade. It was lead by Richard I (Richard the Lionheart), Emperor Frederick Barbarossa of Germany and King Philip II of France. These were possibly the three most important men in Western Europe - such was the importance of this crusade. It was to last from 1189 to 1192.
Frederick was drowned on his march across Europe. He was 70 years of age and his death shocked his army and only a small part of it continued to the Middle East.
Richard, Philip and their men travelled by boat. They stopped their journey in modern day Sicily. In March 1191, Philip then sailed to the port of Acre, which was controlled by the Muslims. This was an important port to capture for the Christians as it would allow them to easily land their ships and it was also the nearest big port to Jerusalem. Acre was besieged. Richard’s joined Philip’s men.
He had captured Cyprus first before moving on to Acre. The port could not cope against such a force and in July 1191, it fell to the Christians. However, the siege had had its impact on Philip - he was exhausted and left for France. Richard was left by himself. While in control of Acre, the Christians massacred 2000 Muslim soldiers who they had captured. Saladin had agreed to pay a ransom for them but somehow there was a breakdown in the process of payment and Richard ordered their execution.
Richard was determined to get to Jerusalem and he was prepared to take on Saladin. The march south to Jerusalem was very difficult. The Crusaders kept as near to the coast as possible to allow ships to supply them. It was also slightly cooler with a coastal breeze. Regardless of this, the Christians suffered badly from the heat and lack of fresh water. At night when the Crusaders tried to rest, tarantulas plagued them. Their bites were poisonous and very painful.
Both sides fought at the Battle of Arsur in September 1191. Richard won but he delayed his attack on Jerusalem, as he knew that his army needed to rest. He spent the winter of 1191 to 1192 in Jaffa where his army regained its strength. Richard marched on Jerusalem in June 1192.
However, by now even Richard the Lionheart was suffering. He had a fever and appealed to his enemy Saladin to send him fresh water and fresh fruit. Saladin did just this - sending frozen snow to the Crusaders to be used as water and fresh fruit. Why would Saladin do this?
There are two reasons. First, Saladin was a strict Muslim. One of the main beliefs of Islam (the name of the belief of Muslims) is that they should help those in need. Secondly, Saladin could send his men into Richard's camp with the supplies and spy on what he had in terms of soldiers, equipment etc.
What they found was that Richard only had 2,000 fit soldiers and 50 fit knights to use in battle. With such a small force, Richard could not hope to take Jerusalem even though he got near enough to see the Holy City. Richard organised a truce with Saladin - pilgrims from the west would once again be allowed to visit Jerusalem without being troubled by the Muslims. Neither Richard nor Saladin particularly liked the truce but both sides were worn out and in October 1192, Richard sailed for Western Europe never to return to the Holy Land.
However, for Richard the adventure was not over. On his journey back to England, his ship got wrecked in a storm. He found that he had to travel through Austria. A sworn enemy of Richard - Duke Leopold of Austria, owned this country. Leopold had originally been a leading member of the Third Crusade but Richard who did nothing to stop his men making fun out of Leopold had ridiculed him. They called him "the sponge" because he drank so much and was drunk too often!! Leopold had lost a lot of prestige and now he had a chance to avenge himself. Richard was betrayed to Leopold who held him captive for two years until a ransom was paid for him. Richard arrived home in 1194.
His people knew Richard as the “Lionheart”. Even the Muslims praised him. The Muslim writer Baha wrote about Richard while the Third Crusade was going on:
lliam posted 06-20-2004 10:43 AM
Medieval England was to gain a great deal from the Crusades. Many items we now take for granted came from the time of the Crusades.
As happens in many wars, the Crusaders plundered without mercy and took what they wanted from the people of what we now call the Middle East. The British Museum still houses treasures brought back from the Crusades in among its Byzantine collection.
However, new ideas and household goods were also brought back as were new foodstuffs:
Food products Rice, coffee, sherbet, dates, apricots, lemons, sugar, spices such as ginger, melons, rhubarb and dates.
Household goods Mirrors, carpets, cotton cloth for clothing, ships compasses, writing paper, wheelbarrows, mattresses and shawls.
New ideas Chess, Arabic figures 0 to 9, pain killing drugs, algebra, irrigation, chemistry, the colour scarlet, water wheels and water clocks
Though the Crusades lasted for many years, the actual amount of fighting was reasonably small. Of the 174 years of the Crusades, only 24 involved fighting and not all of the 24 years were spent fighting. Therefore, there was much to be made by trading with each other. The above list gives an indication of how Western Europe benefited. The Muslim obtained from the west linen and woollen cloth. There were years when trade between the two sides was very good.
The Crusades had a major impact on the building of castles. Many large castles were built in Wales (such as Beaumaris, Conway and and Caernarfon) by Edward I. He had been on a crusade and it is probable that he learned about castle improvements as a result of his experiences.
The Muslims built in a scientific manner using the area a castle was built in for its maximum potential.
Historians such as E Wright believe that their approach influenced Edward and that is why the Welsh castles associated with Edward I were so well built. Some historians such as C Cairns believe that our castle building would have improved regardless of the influence of the Muslims simply as our knowledge about castle building increased. He is far from convinced as to their importance regarding castle development.
Shapley posted 06-22-2004 03:25 PM
Here are some points of interest from Thomas Madden's Concise History of the Crusades:
Islam was born in war and grew the same way. From the time of Mohammed, the means of Muslim expansion was always the sword.
With enormous energy, the warriors of Islam struck out against the Christians shortly after Mohammed's death. Palestine, Syria, and Egypt -- once the most heavily Christian areas in the world -- quickly succumbed.
By the eighth century, Muslim armies had conquered all of Christian North Africa and Spain. In the eleventh century, the Seljuk Turks conquered Asia Minor (modern Turkey), which had been Christian since the time of St. Paul.
The Byzantine Empire was reduced to little more than Greece. In desperation, the emperor in Constantinople sent word to the Christians of western Europe asking them to aid their brothers and sisters in the East.
The end of the medieval Crusades did not bring an end to Muslim jihad -- Islamic states like Mamluk Egypt continued to expand in size and power, and the Ottoman Turks built the largest and most awesome state in Muslim history.
Under Suleiman the Magnificent the Turks came within a hair's breadth of capturing Vienna, which would have left all of Germany at their mercy. At that point Crusades were no longer waged to rescue Jerusalem, but Europe itself.
It is often asserted that Crusaders were merely lacklands and ne'er-do-wells who took advantage of an opportunity to rob and pillage in a faraway land. Recent scholarship has demolished that contrivance. The truth is that the Crusades were notoriously bad for plunder. A few people got rich, but the vast majority returned with nothing.
It is often assumed that the central goal of the Crusades was forced conversion of the Muslim world. Nothing could be further from the truth. Muslims who lived in Crusader-won territories were generally allowed to retain their property and livelihood, and always their religion.
It was not until the 13th century that the Franciscans began conversion efforts among Muslims. But these were mostly unsuccessful and finally abandoned. In any case, such efforts were by peaceful persuasion, not the threat of violence.
Jews perished during the Crusades, but the purpose of the Crusades was not to kill Jews. Quite the contrary: Popes, bishops, and preachers made it clear that the Jews of Europe were to be left unmolested.
The Ottoman Turks not only conquered their fellow Muslims, thus further unifying Islam, but also continued to press westward, capturing Constantinople and plunging deep into Europe itself. By the 15th century, the Crusades were no longer errands of mercy for a distant people but desperate attempts of one of the last remnants of Christendom to survive. Europeans began to ponder the real possibility that Islam would finally achieve its aim of conquering the entire Christian world.
In 1529, Suleiman the Magnificent laid siege to Vienna. If not for a run of freak rainstorms that delayed his progress and forced him to leave behind much of his artillery, it is virtually certain that the Turks would have taken the city.
Whether we admire the Crusaders or not, it is a fact that the world we know today would not exist without their efforts. Without the Crusades, Christianity might well have followed Zoroastrianism, another of Islam's rivals, into extinction.
found 22 Jun 2004 on Pakistan Today
Fri 7 Jun 2003 · Israel - A State Of Mind · By: Tashbih Sayyed
If one has to look for one basic, elementary cause of terrorism engulfing civilization today; it is religious absolutism. Religious absolutism results from a belief that a particular faith represents the absolute truth and therefore must be accepted by everyone else without question. Such an absolutist ideology encourages bigotry of the highest order and promotes extreme hatred of other faiths.
Since true intellectual enlightenment respects diversity and rejects bigotry, religious absolutists, as a matter of faith, tend to be anti-intellectual. That's why all absolutists are, by nature, fundamentalist and obscurantist. They preach literalist philosophies and demonstrate an intrinsic repulsion for modernity. They abhor open societies and work to destroy any system that promotes tolerance and advances the cause of democracy.
Nazism, Communism, Japanese imperialism etc. all claimed to have possessed the absolute truth and tried to impose it on others, causing a great amount of human suffering in the process. Fortunately, none of these philosophies enjoyed the backing of any church and therefore lacked religious legitimacy, making it relatively easy for the civilized world to eventually defeat them.
Radical Islam or Islamism, driven by extremist and an obscurantist interpretation of Islam, is the current face of this evil. Because it has very cleverly managed to hijack Islam, a faith of more than 1.2 billion people, its sway is absolute. Most Muslim societies have fallen under its influence and, as a consequence, have become the breeding ground of terrorism. Events of the recent past have reconfirmed, beyond any doubt, its destructive potential.
Being a totalitarian ideology, radical Islam demands absolute submission. And since it knows that enlightened and informed souls do not make obedient slaves, it is committed to keep Muslims backward and uninformed. Radical Islam, like any other totalitarian ideology that thrives on lies, manipulated Holy Scriptures, fabricated traditions of the Prophet and literalism, and cannot allow its prey to be exposed to an open intellectual environment. That's why it enforces strict censor and does not allow unconditional pursuit of knowledge. This is the only way it can keep the masses in the dark and in its control.
In an Islamist controlled society, debate is forbidden, difference of opinion and dissension is considered a perversion, and modern education a threat. Individual reasoning is forbidden. And expression of doubt about any aspect of the "religiously mandated" social, cultural and political sociology is barred as blasphemy.
Anyone attempting to challenge the status quo is instantly declared an apostate. An Islamist mind is a possessed mind - a condition that compels him or her to live to destroy others. An Islamist does not believe in living side by side with anyone who does not conform to his or her ideology. His life is a constant Jihad (holy war) to overwhelm and eradicate infidels.
No one is more threatened by radical Islam than the Muslims themselves. That's why some of us who have somehow escaped the Islamist control and influence have taken upon ourselves to expose the scourge and by doing so exterminate it. As a Muslim, it is my experience and observation that radical Islam can only be defeated by providing Muslims a basis of comparison - by informing them of the truth about the others. In an Islamist controlled society, Muslims see Jews, Christians and Hindus through a cleric's lens.
Whatever image of the others has been created by a dogmatic and obscurantist clergy has been accepted by the Muslim masses as truth. Nobody is permitted to challenge this one sided propaganda. The result has been that this state of affairs has deprived the Muslim street of the ability to make an impartial and rational judgment.
No Muslim living in this darkness is aware of the light outside. Only a Muslim can change it. Only a Muslim can remove the darkness of hatred.
For starters, we can begin by letting Muslims know the true nature of other faiths, especially of those faiths that have a tradition of democracy, debate and openness. I have no doubt that if an honest picture of others is shown to Muslims, they will certainly reject the images created by radical Islam.
Muslims need to be told what kind of evil; the ideologies based on evil concepts of "final truths" are capable of. They must know about the Holocaust. Muslims can learn a great deal by studying the struggles of the Jewish people. True reasons why the Jews have always been persecuted by others must be brought home to the Muslims. The truth will liberate them.
Jews, throughout their history, have been the symbol of intellectual freedom and have therefore represented the highest level of openness. Their love for knowledge, their penchant for debate, their urge to learn by questioning, and their refusal to submit to any dogma has always posed a challenge to the establishment that depends on the blind following of the masses. The Jews' thirst for truth has always threatened the status quo.
Absolutist fundamentalists do not like the status quo to be disturbed.
To prevent the Jewish state of mind from disturbing the status quo, absolutists have always looked for ways to keep the Jews confined in physical ghettos. But physical ghettos could not prevent the Jews from pursuing the path of truth. Nobody could succeed in confining them in intellectual ghettos. Jews, despite there political poverty and social helplessness, have continued to demonstrate the power of openness by excelling in intellectual fields. Despite their relatively small numbers, they always remained an overpowering influence on thoughts and ideas. And for a dogmatic state of mind, nothing can be more dangerous than a free mind.
All throughout their history, Jews have been forced to struggle to preserve their identity and traditions. They have always found their lives and properties in jeopardy; at the mercy of a jealous and envious establishment. Expulsions, inquisitions, gas chambers, and holocausts have always remained just around the corner, confirming that the absolutist and fundamentalist state of mind cannot tolerate a free mind to exist. Anti-Semitism symbolizes this complex.
Christian Europe was fortunate to have lived through the throes of reformation, counter-reformation and various movements that ushered in enlightenment and made the French Revolution possible. This experience allowed Europe to see the benefits of democracy, pluralism and tolerance. Acceptance of democratic values made it possible for the feuding states of Europe to make their mark as prosperous and developed nations. The surge of Nazism underlined the need of permanent vigilance against absolutist minds, and the defeat of Adolf Hitler's war machine reconfirmed that minds once freed of absolutism will never allow Fascism to enslave them again.
Muslims, on the other hand, were not so fortunate. They did not feel the necessity of any reformation. They were living in their own fool's paradise. And there were reasons for Muslim lethargy.
Up until 1798, when Napoleon Bonaparte invaded and conquered Egypt, Muslims never felt a need for self-evaluation and self critique. The very fact that they remained in control of much of the world as rulers from 622 A.D., when Prophet founded the first Islamic state of Medinah, gave them a sense of superiority.
But absolute power corrupted them absolutely. They became victims of the worst kind of ethnocentrism that took away their ability to respect others and learn from them. Seemingly unending successes and worldly conquests contributed in perpetuating the belief that their faith represents an absolute truth and is destined to run the affairs of the world for ever. They truly believed that all other faiths and peoples are dhimmis (second class citizens).
Even the fall of their Khilafah, the Ottoman Empire in 1924, could not prompt Muslims to look for any faults and weaknesses in themselves. The Islamists, once again, succeeded in convincing the masses that their fall had been caused by a Judeo-Christian conspiracy. Exploiting the universal Muslim sense of loss at the demise of Ottoman Empire, Radical Islam went on to build its own campaign of terror. There was no one to challenge them.
Corrupt and undeserving Muslim rulers supported the evolution of radical Islam for their own selfish reasons: it could keep the masses distracted and prevent them from noticing their ruler's corruptions. In order to ensure that radical Islam remains in control of the Muslim heart and mind, the Islamist state joined hands with the dogmatic mosques that preached the most rigid and the most exclusivist interpretations of Islam - Deobandi, Salafis and Wahhabis.
Saudi Petro-Dollars helped this un-holy alliance to gain legitimacy and hijack mainstream Islam. It took a while before the civilized world realized the threat this posed. Based on the theory that the world is divided into two major realms, the dar ul Islam (House of peace), consisting of Muslims only, and the Dar ul Harb (House of war), consisting of infidels, the Islamist state sought/seeks to control the world by overwhelming all open societies.
Radical Islamists are aware that they cannot succeed without destroying the United States of America and the State of Israel, as both symbolize open, pluralistic and democratic values. The American and Israeli passion for spreading freedoms poses a direct threat to Islamist designs. While Israel's presence right in the heart of an Islamist controlled region gives hope to freedom-loving Muslims, it scares the extremists. Islamists fear—rightly so—that either directly or indirectly Israel will export democratic values to its immediate neighborhood, jeopardizing radical Islam's sway.
All democratic and freedom-loving peoples also need the Muslim world to be educated and informed. Education opens a mind. And an open mind is always an enemy of extremism. The world has counted on education and openness to correct Muslim perceptions about non-Muslim civilizations and to provide a basis for stability in the region and peace in the world. Once educated and informed, as this thinking goes, the Muslims could surely overcome their age old prejudices and biases against "infidels."
Knowing that an educated and informed Muslim street will not allow it to control its collective heart and mind, radical Islam is always on guard to find a way to defeat any plan that is aimed at educating Muslim masses. As a first step in this direction, Islamists have launched a smear campaign against Judeo-Christian values and civilization.
Radical Islam's job has been made easier by misinterpretations of the Holy Scriptures that condemn Jews and encourage violence against "infidels."
Thousands of fables demonizing Jews and Christians that have been passed down as the Prophet's Sayings and Traditions, are also being used to legitimize the fundamentalist terror. These manipulated Holy Scriptures and fabricated traditions help radical Islam in laying the responsibility for Muslim defeats, setbacks and downfall at the door steps of Judeo-Christian powers.
According to radical Islam, the Western concept of democracy is un-Islamic. Man, in the eyes of the Islamists, does not have the authority to legislate; it is solely God's right.
The concept of the nation-state is condemned as a Judeo-Christian conspiracy aiming to divide the Muslim Ummah (faith-based Muslim nationhood). Radical Islamists realize that their spin and mesmerism will only work so long as the Muslim street is not exposed to the truth - as contained in modern and scientific knowledge and the principles determining the directions of open societies. In order to prevent the Muslim masses from gaining such insight, they have made certain that modern education does not reach the grass roots level. They have succeeded in achieving this by labeling all modern education as un-Islamic.
Consequently, the Muslim world is plunged into an abyss of darkness, anti-modernity, anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism.
I am convinced that the only way to save the Muslims from being permanently consigned to the dustbin of history is to destroy the basis of anti-Semitism from the Muslim traditions and liturgy. And this can only be done by exposing the Islamist agenda. Muslims have to be informed of the real reasons of anti-Semitism by creating an alternative source of information and education from within the Muslim community. Only a Muslim challenge to the dark ideology of Islamism can undo the damage done to the Muslim mind.
Since only Jews represent over five thousand years of human pursuit of knowledge, struggle to prevail over bigotry and absolutism, and perseverance against a perpetual desire on the part of evil forces to destroy them, their history—if presented in an honest fashion to the Muslims—can go a long way in destroying anti-Semitism. Therefore it is vital that Israel is supported, defended and protected by all those who want the Muslims to progress as civilized people.
I consider the rebirth of the Jewish State to be a blessing for the Muslims. Israel has provided the opportunity to show the world the results of the Jewish state of mind in action...a mind that yearns to be free, and a mind that longs to see that all humanity enjoys life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
If the American civic faith has given the world a hope to be able to live with dignity, self respect and honor in peace, the Jewish traditions and culture of pluralism, debate, acceptance of dissension and difference of opinion have manifested themselves in the shape of the state of Israel to present the oppressed Muslim world with a paradigm to emulate. And if we want this world to be free of any kind of terror, we will have to defend this state of mind, whether it is seen in the shape of Israel or in the form of the United States of America.
(The writer is editor-in-chief of Muslim World Today and Pakistan Today, California-based weekly newspapers, president of Council for Democracy and Tolerance and adjunct fellow of Hudson Institute.)
found 22 Jun 2004 on Fresh, an Israli Bulletin Board
Professor HAIM HARARI, a theoretical physicist, is the Chair, Davidson Institute of Science Education, and Former President, from 1988 to 2001, of the Weizmann Institute of Science.
As you know, I usually provide the scientific and technological "entertainment" in our meetings, but, on this occasion, our Chairman suggested that I present my own personal view on events in the part of the world from which I come. I have never been and I will never be a Government official and I have no privileged information. My perspective is entirely based on what I see, on what I read and on the fact that my family has lived in this region for almost 200 years. You may regard my views as those of the proverbial taxi driver, which you are supposed to question, when you visit a country.
I could have shared with you some fascinating facts and some personal thoughts about the Israeli-Arab conflict. However, I will touch upon it only in passing. I prefer to devote most of my remarks to the broader picture of the region and its place in world events. I refer to the entire area between Pakistan and Morocco, which is predominantly Arab, predominantly Moslem, but includes many non-Arab and also significant non-Moslem minorities.
Why do I put aside Israel and its own immediate neighborhood? Because Israel and any problems related to it, in spite of what you might read or hear in the world media, is not the central issue, and has never been the central issue in the upheaval in the region. Yes, there is a 100 year-old Israeli-Arab conflict, but it is not where the main show is. The millions who died in the Iran-Iraq war had nothing to do with Israel. The mass murder happening right now in Sudan, where the Arab Moslem regime is massacring its black Christian citizens, has nothing to do with Israel. The frequent reports from Algeria about the murders of hundreds of civilian in one village or another by other Algerians have nothing to do with Israel. Saddam Hussein did not invade Kuwait, endangered Saudi Arabia and butchered his own people because of Israel. Egypt did not use poison gas against Yemen in the 60's because of Israel. Assad the Father did not kill tens of thousands of his own citizens in one week in El Hamma in Syria because of Israel. The Taliban control of Afghanistan and the civil war there had nothing to do with Israel. The Libyan blowing up of the Pan-Am flight had nothing to do with Israel, and I could go on and on and on.
The root of the trouble is that this entire Moslem region is totally dysfunctional, by any standard of the word, and would have been so even if Israel would have joined the Arab league and an independent Palestine would have existed for 100 years. The 22 member countries of the Arab league, from Mauritania to the Gulf States, have a total population of 300 millions, larger than the US and almost as large as the EU before its expansion. They have a land area larger than either the US or all of Europe. These 22 countries, with all their oil and natural resources, have a combined GDP smaller than that of Netherlands plus Belgium and equal to half of the GDP of California alone. Within this meager GDP, the gaps between rich and poor are beyond belief and too many of the rich made their money not by succeeding in business, but by being corrupt rulers. The social status of women is far below what it was in the Western World 150 years ago. Human rights are below any reasonable standard, in spite of the grotesque fact that Libya was elected Chair of the UN Human Rights commission. According to a report prepared by a committee of Arab intellectuals and published under the auspices of the U.N., the number of books translated by the entire Arab world is much smaller than what little Greece alone translates. The total number of scientific publications of 300 million Arabs is less than that of 6 million Israelis. Birth rates in the region are very high, increasing the poverty, the social gaps and the cultural decline. And all of this is happening in a region, which only 30 years ago, was believed to be the next wealthy part of the world, and in a Moslem area, which developed, at some point in history, one of the most advanced cultures in the world.
It is fair to say that this creates an unprecedented breeding ground for cruel dictators, terror networks, fanaticism, incitement, suicide murders and general decline. It is also a fact that almost everybody in the region blames this situation on the United States, on Israel, on Western Civilization, on Judaism and Christianity, on anyone and anything, except themselves.
Do I say all of this with the satisfaction of someone discussing the failings of his enemies? On the contrary, I firmly believe that the world would have been a much better place and my own neighborhood would have been much more pleasant and peaceful, if things were different.
I should also say a word about the millions of decent, honest, good people who are either devout Moslems or are not very religious but grew up in Moslem families. They are double victims of an outside world, which now develops Islamophobia and of their own environment, which breaks their heart by being totally dysfunctional. The problem is that the vast silent majority of these Moslems are not part of the terror and of the incitement but they also do not stand up against it. They become accomplices, by omission, and this applies to political leaders, intellectuals, business people and many others. Many of them can certainly tell right from wrong, but are afraid to express their views.
The events of the last few years have amplified four issues, which have always existed, but have never been as rampant as in the present upheaval in the region. These are the four main pillars of the current World Conflict, or perhaps we should already refer to it as "the undeclared World War III". I have no better name for the present situation. A few more years may pass before everybody acknowledges that it is a World War, but we are already well into it.
1 The first element is the suicide murder. Suicide murders are not a new invention but they have been made popular, if I may use this expression, only lately. Even after September 11, it seems that most of the Western World does not yet understand this weapon. It is a very potent psychological weapon. Its real direct impact is relatively minor. The total number of casualties from hundreds of suicide murders within Israel in the last three years is much smaller than those due to car accidents. September 11 was quantitatively much less lethal than many earthquakes. More people die from AIDS in one day in Africa than all the Russians who died in the hands of Chechnya-based Moslem suicide murderers since that conflict started. Saddam killed every month more people than all those who died from suicide murders since the Coalition occupation of Iraq.
So what is all the fuss about suicide killings? It creates headlines. It is spectacular. It is frightening. It is a very cruel death with bodies dismembered and horrible severe lifelong injuries to many of the wounded. It is always shown on television in great detail. One such murder, with the help of hysterical media coverage, can destroy the tourism industry of a country for quite a while, as it did in Bali and in Turkey.
But the real fear comes from the undisputed fact that no defense and no preventive measures can succeed against a determined suicide murderer. This has not yet penetrated the thinking of the Western World. The U.S. and Europe are constantly improving their defense against the last murder, not the next one. We may arrange for the best airport security in the world.. But if you want to murder by suicide, you do not have to board a plane in order to explode yourself and kill many people. Who could stop a suicide murder in the midst of the crowded line waiting to be checked by the airport metal detector? How about the lines to the check-in counters in a busy travel period? Put a metal detector in front of every train station in Spain and the terrorists will get the buses. Protect the buses and they will explode in movie theaters, concert halls, supermarkets, shopping malls, schools and hospitals. Put guards in front of every concert hall and there will always be a line of people to be checked by the guards and this line will be the target, not to speak of killing the guards themselves. You can somewhat reduce your vulnerability by preventive and defensive measures and by strict border controls but not eliminate it and definitely not win the war in a defensive way. And it is a war!
What is behind the suicide murders? Money, power and cold-blooded murderous incitement, nothing else. It has nothing to do with true fanatic religious beliefs. No Moslem preacher has ever blown himself up. No son of an Arab politician or religious leader has ever blown himself. No relative of anyone influential has done it. Wouldn't you expect some of the religious leaders to do it themselves, or to talk their sons into doing it, if this is truly a supreme act of religious fervor? Aren't they interested in the benefits of going to Heaven? Instead, they send outcast women, naïve children, retarded people and young incited hotheads. They promise them the delights, mostly sexual, of the next world, and pay their families handsomely after the supreme act is performed and enough innocent people are dead.
Suicide murders also have nothing to do with poverty and despair. The poorest region in the world, by far, is Africa. It never happens there. There are numerous desperate people in the world, in different cultures, countries and continents. Desperation does not provide anyone with explosives, reconnaissance and transportation. There was certainly more despair in Saddam's Iraq then in Paul Bremmer's Iraq, and no one exploded himself. A suicide murder is simply a horrible, vicious weapon of cruel, inhuman, cynical, well-funded terrorists, with no regard to human life, including the life of their fellow countrymen, but with very high regard to their own affluent well-being and their hunger for power.
The only way to fight this new "popular" weapon is identical to the only way in which you fight organized crime or pirates on the high seas: the offensive way. Like in the case of organized crime, it is crucial that the forces on the offensive be united and it is crucial to reach the top of the crime pyramid. You cannot eliminate organized crime by arresting the little drug dealer in the street corner. You must go after the head of the "Family".
If part of the public supports it, others tolerate it, many are afraid of it and some try to explain it away by poverty or by a miserable childhood, organized crime will thrive and so will terrorism. The United States understands this now, after September 11. Russia is beginning to understand it. Turkey understands it well. I am very much afraid that most of Europe still does not understand it. Unfortunately, it seems that Europe will understand it only after suicide murders will arrive in Europe in a big way. In my humble opinion, this will definitely happen. The Spanish trains and the Istanbul bombings are only the beginning. The unity of the Civilized World in fighting this horror is absolutely indispensable. Until Europe wakes up, this unity will not be achieved.
2 The second ingredient is words, more precisely lies. Words can be lethal. They kill people. It is often said that politicians, diplomats and perhaps also lawyers and business people must sometimes lie, as part of their professional life. But the norms of politics and diplomacy are childish, in comparison with the level of incitement and total absolute deliberate fabrications, which have reached new heights in the region we are talking about. An incredible number of people in the Arab world believe that September 11 never happened, or was an American provocation or, even better, a Jewish plot.
You all remember the Iraqi Minister of Information, Mr. Mouhamad Said al-Sahaf and his press conferences when the US forces were already inside Baghdad. Disinformation at time of war is an accepted tactic. But to stand, day after day, and to make such preposterous statements, known to everybody to be lies, without even being ridiculed in your own milieu, can only happen in this region. Mr. Sahaf eventually became a popular icon as a court jester, but this did not stop some allegedly respectable newspapers from giving him equal time. It also does not prevent the Western press from giving credence, every day, even now, to similar liars. After all, if you want to be an antisemite, there are subtle ways of doing it. You do not have to claim that the holocaust never happened and that the Jewish temple in Jerusalem never existed. But millions of Moslems are told by their leaders that this is the case. When these same leaders make other statements, the Western media report them as if they could be true.
It is a daily occurrence that the same people, who finance, arm and dispatch suicide murderers, condemn the act in English in front of western TV cameras, talking to a world audience, which even partly believes them. It is a daily routine to hear the same leader making opposite statements in Arabic to his people and in English to the rest of the world. Incitement by Arab TV, accompanied by horror pictures of mutilated bodies, has become a powerful weapon of those who lie, distort and want to destroy everything. Little children are raised on deep hatred and on admiration of so-called martyrs, and the Western World does not notice it because its own TV sets are mostly tuned to soap operas and game shows. I recommend to you, even though most of you do not understand Arabic, to watch Al Jazeera, from time to time. You will not believe your own eyes.
But words also work in other ways, more subtle. A demonstration in Berlin, carrying banners supporting Saddam's regime and featuring three-year old babies dressed as suicide murderers, is defined by the press and by political leaders as a "peace demonstration". You may support or oppose the Iraq war, but to refer to fans of Saddam, Arafat or Bin Laden as peace activists is a bit too much. A woman walks into an Israeli restaurant in mid-day, eats, observes families with old people and children eating their lunch in the adjacent tables and pays the bill. She then blows herself up, killing 20 people, including many children, with heads and arms rolling around in the restaurant. She is called "martyr" by several Arab leaders and "activist" by the European press. Dignitaries condemn the act but visit her bereaved family and the money flows.
There is a new game in town: The actual murderer is called "the military wing", the one who pays him, equips him and sends him is now called "the political wing" and the head of the operation is called the "spiritual leader". There are numerous other examples of such Orwellian nomenclature, used every day not only by terror chiefs but also by Western media. These words are much more dangerous than many people realize. They provide an emotional infrastructure for atrocities. It was Joseph Goebels who said that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it. He is now being outperformed by his successors.
3 The third aspect is money. Huge amounts of money, which could have solved many social problems in this dysfunctional part of the world, are channeled into three concentric spheres supporting death and murder. In the inner circle are the terrorists themselves. The money funds their travel, explosives, hideouts and permanent search for soft vulnerable targets. They are surrounded by a second wider circle of direct supporters, planners, commanders, preachers, all of whom make a living, usually a very comfortable living, by serving as terror infrastructure. Finally, we find the third circle of so-called religious, educational and welfare organizations, which actually do some good, feed the hungry and provide some schooling, but brainwash a new generation with hatred, lies and ignorance. This circle operates mostly through mosques, madrasas and other religious establishments but also through inciting electronic and printed media. It is this circle that makes sure that women remain inferior, that democracy is unthinkable and that exposure to the outside world is minimal. It is also that circle that leads the way in blaming everybody outside the Moslem world, for the miseries of the region.
Figuratively speaking, this outer circle is the guardian, which makes sure that the people look and listen inwards to the inner circle of terror and incitement, rather than to the world outside. Some parts of this same outer circle actually operate as a result of fear from, or blackmail by, the inner circles. The horrifying added factor is the high birth rate. Half of the population of the Arab world is under the age of 20, the most receptive age to incitement, guaranteeing two more generations of blind hatred.
Of the three circles described above, the inner circles are primarily financed by terrorist states like Iran and Syria, until recently also by Iraq and Libya and earlier also by some of the Communist regimes. These states, as well as the Palestinian Authority, are the safe havens of the wholesale murder vendors. The outer circle is largely financed by Saudi Arabia, but also by donations from certain Moslem communities in the United States and Europe and, to a smaller extent, by donations of European Governments to various NGO's and by certain United Nations organizations, whose goals may be noble, but they are infested and exploited by agents of the outer circle. The Saudi regime, of course, will be the next victim of major terror, when the inner circle will explode into the outer circle. The Saudis are beginning to understand it, but they fight the inner circles, while still financing the infrastructure at the outer circle.?
Some of the leaders of these various circles live very comfortably on their loot. You meet their children in the best private schools in Europe, not in the training camps of suicide murderers. The Jihad "soldiers" join packaged death tours to Iraq and other hotspots, while some of their leaders ski in Switzerland. Mrs. Arafat, who lives in Paris with her daughter, receives tens of thousands Dollars per month from the allegedly bankrupt Palestinian Authority while a typical local ringleader of the Al-Aksa brigade, reporting to Arafat, receives only a cash payment of a couple of hundred dollars, for performing murders at the retail level.
4 The fourth element of the current world conflict is the total breaking of all laws. The civilized world believes in democracy, the rule of law, including international law, human rights, free speech and free press, among other liberties. There are naïve old-fashioned habits such as respecting religious sites and symbols, not using ambulances and hospitals for acts of war, avoiding the mutilation of dead bodies and not using children as human shields or human bombs. Never in history, not even in the Nazi period, was there such total disregard of all of the above as we observe now. Every student of political science debates how you prevent an anti-democratic force from winning a democratic election and abolishing democracy. Other aspects of a civilized society must also have limitations. Can a policeman open fire on someone trying to kill him? Can a government listen to phone conversations of terrorists and drug dealers? Does free speech protects you when you shout "fire" in a crowded theater? Should there be death penalty, for deliberate multiple murders? These are the old-fashioned dilemmas. But now we have an entire new set.
Do you raid a mosque, which serves as a terrorist ammunition storage? Do you return fire, if you are attacked from a hospital? Do you storm a church taken over by terrorists who took the priests hostages? Do you search every ambulance after a few suicide murderers use ambulances to reach their targets? Do you strip every woman because one pretended to be pregnant and carried a suicide bomb on her belly? Do you shoot back at someone trying to kill you, standing deliberately behind a group of children? Do you raid terrorist headquarters, hidden in a mental hospital? Do you shoot an arch-murderer who deliberately moves from one location to another, always surrounded by children? All of these happen daily in Iraq and in the Palestinian areas. What do you do? Well, you do not want to face the dilemma. But it cannot be avoided.
Suppose, for the sake of discussion, that someone would openly stay in a well-known address in Teheran, hosted by the Iranian Government and financed by it, executing one atrocity after another in Spain or in France, killing hundreds of innocent people, accepting responsibility for the crimes, promising in public TV interviews to do more of the same, while the Government of Iran issues public condemnations of his acts but continues to host him, invite him to official functions and treat him as a great dignitary. I leave it to you as homework to figure out what Spain or France would have done, in such a situation.
The problem is that the civilized world is still having illusions about the rule of law in a totally lawless environment. It is trying to play ice hockey by sending a ballerina ice-skater into the rink or to knock out a heavyweight boxer by a chess player. In the same way that no country has a law against cannibals eating its prime minister, because such an act is unthinkable, international law does not address killers shooting from hospitals, mosques and ambulances, while being protected by their Government or society. International law does not know how to handle someone who sends children to throw stones, stands behind them and shoots with immunity and cannot be arrested because he is sheltered by a Government. International law does not know how to deal with a leader of murderers who is royally and comfortably hosted by a country, which pretends to condemn his acts or just claims to be too weak to arrest him. The amazing thing is that all of these crooks demand protection under international law and define all those who attack them as war criminals, with some Western media repeating the allegations. The good news is that all of this is temporary, because the evolution of international law has always adapted itself to reality. The punishment for suicide murder should be death or arrest before the murder, not during and not after. After every world war, the rules of international law have changed and the same will happen after the present one. But during the twilight zone, a lot of harm can be done.
The picture I described here is not pretty. What can we do about it? In the short run, only fight and win. In the long run ? only educate the next generation and open it to the world. The inner circles can and must be destroyed by force. The outer circle cannot be eliminated by force. Here we need financial starvation of the organizing elite, more power to women, more education, counter propaganda, boycott whenever feasible and access to Western media, internet and the international scene. Above all, we need a total absolute unity and determination of the civilized world against all three circles of evil.
Allow me, for a moment, to depart from my alleged role as a taxi driver and return to science. When you have a malignant tumor, you may remove the tumor itself surgically. You may also starve it by preventing new blood from reaching it from other parts of the body, thereby preventing new "supplies" from expanding the tumor. If you want to be sure, it is best to do both.
But before you fight and win, by force or otherwise, you have to realize that you are in a war, and this may take Europe a few more years. In order to win, it is necessary to first eliminate the terrorist regimes, so that no Government in the world will serve as a safe haven for these people. I do not want to comment here on whether the American-led attack on Iraq was justified from the point of view of weapons of mass destruction or any other pre-war argument, but I can look at the post-war map of Western Asia. Now that Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya are out, two and a half terrorist states remain: Iran, Syria and Lebanon, the latter being a Syrian colony. Perhaps Sudan should be added to the list. As a result of the conquest of Afghanistan and Iraq, both Iran and Syria are now totally surrounded by territories unfriendly to them. Iran is encircled by Afghanistan, by the Gulf States, Iraq and the Moslem republics of the former Soviet Union. Syria is surrounded by Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Israel. This is a significant strategic change and it applies strong pressure on the terrorist countries. It is not surprising that Iran is so active in trying to incite a Shiite uprising in Iraq. I do not know if the American plan was actually to encircle both Iran and Syria, but that is the resulting situation.
In my humble opinion, the number one danger to the world today is Iran and its regime. It definitely has ambitions to rule vast areas and to expand in all directions. It has an ideology, which claims supremacy over Western culture. It is ruthless. It has proven that it can execute elaborate terrorist acts without leaving too many traces, using Iranian Embassies.. It is clearly trying to develop Nuclear Weapons. Its so-called moderates and conservatives play their own virtuoso version of the "good-cop versus bad-cop" game. Iran sponsors Syrian terrorism, it is certainly behind much of the action in Iraq, it is fully funding the Hizbulla and, through it, the Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad, it performed acts of terror at least in Europe and in South America and probably also in Uzbekhistan and Saudi Arabia and it truly leads a multi-national terror consortium, which includes, as minor players, Syria, Lebanon and certain Shiite elements in Iraq. Nevertheless, most European countries still trade with Iran, try to appease it and refuse to read the clear signals.
In order to win the war it is also necessary to dry the financial resources of the terror conglomerate. It is pointless to try to understand the subtle differences between the Sunni terror of Al Qaida and Hamas and the Shiite terror of Hizbulla, Sadr and other Iranian inspired enterprises. When it serves their business needs, all of them collaborate beautifully.
It is crucial to stop Saudi and other financial support of the outer circle, which is the fertile breeding ground of terror. It is important to monitor all donations from the Western World to Islamic organizations, to monitor the finances of international relief organizations and to react with forceful economic measures to any small sign of financial aid to any of the three circles of terrorism. It is also important to act decisively against the campaign of lies and fabrications and to monitor those Western media who collaborate with it out of naivety, financial interests or ignorance.
Above all, never surrender to terror. No one will ever know whether the recent elections in Spain would have yielded a different result, if not for the train bombings a few days earlier. But it really does not matter. What matters is that the terrorists believe that they caused the result and that they won by driving Spain out of Iraq. The Spanish story will surely end up being extremely costly to other European countries, including France, who is now expelling inciting preachers and forbidding veils and including others who sent troops to Iraq. In the long run, Spain itself will pay even more.
Is the solution a democratic Arab world? If by democracy we mean free elections but also free press, free speech, a functioning judicial system, civil liberties, equality to women, free international travel, exposure to international media and ideas, laws against racial incitement and against defamation, and avoidance of lawless behavior regarding hospitals, places of worship and children, then yes, democracy is the solution. If democracy is just free elections, it is likely that the most fanatic regime will be elected, the one whose incitement and fabrications are the most inflammatory. We have seen it already in Algeria and, to a certain extent, in Turkey. It will happen again, if the ground is not prepared very carefully. On the other hand, a certain transition democracy, as in Jordan, may be a better temporary solution, paving the way for the real thing, perhaps in the same way that an immediate sudden democracy did not work in Russia and would not have worked in China.
I have no doubt that the civilized world will prevail. But the longer it takes us to understand the new landscape of this war, the more costly and painful the victory will be. Europe, more than any other region, is the key. Its understandable recoil from wars, following the horrors of World War II, may cost thousands of additional innocent lives, before the tide will turn.