Information Warfare: Never Again?

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November 21, 2013: One reason for the continued Moslem hostility towards Israel is frustration at not being able to get non-Moslems to agree with or at least understand the Moslem view of the world and Israel. To most Moslems it’s perfectly natural to hate Jews and insist that Israel should not exist. These are indeed alien concepts to most Westerners and non-Moslems. To get a better idea of where Moslems are coming from consider that fact (based on opinion surveys of Moslems) that most Moslems see themselves as Moslems first and feel that the non-Moslem world is out to get them. The intense hatred of Israel is better understood if you keep in mind some key elements of Islamic history. First, Islam is a very intolerant religion. Their scripture calls for any Moslem who converts to another religion to be killed. Moreover, that particular rule is regularly obeyed by Islamic conservatives, even if local civil law forbids it. According to the Koran, other religions are only tolerated as long as the infidels (non-Moslems) pay higher taxes, do not hold positions of authority in the government, do not try to convert Moslems, and keep their own religious activities low key. Note, for example, that in Saudi Arabia, non-Moslem houses of worship are forbidden, as are public religious ceremonies for any other religion.

Infidels have been persecuted and driven out of the Islamic world for centuries. The percentage of Christians in the Middle East has been declining particularly rapidly in the last century. Sure, the infidels "get along" with Moslems in the Middle East, but they do so on Moslem terms. Another unique aspect of Islam is the triumph of religious conservatives and persecution and suppression of original thinkers and innovators. This struggle between innovators and conservatives has been going on for over a thousand years and is a typical feature of most religions. When Islam first appeared it was, in many ways, quite progressive for its time. But seven hundred years later, the Europeans were undergoing a social and intellectual renaissance and the Islamic world was going in the other direction. That is why, when Moslems talk about all the West owes the Islamic world in terms of science, they must refer to events many centuries in the past. It also explains why the Middle East has such high rates of illiteracy and such low rates of scientific and economic accomplishment. Israel makes those differences too obvious to be comfortable for most Moslems. That's particularly painful because over a third of the Israeli population are Middle Easterners, the descendants of Jews expelled from Middle Eastern countries after Israel was founded in 1947. These "Sephardi" Jews look like Arabs and often still speak Arabic because their families lived in Arab countries for thousands of years. Yet the Sephardim are much better educated and economically successful than their Moslem cousins. So is Israel as a whole. Many Arabs will admit that Israel must go because it embarrasses the Moslem world. The despots that still run most Arab countries encourage this concentrated hatred of Israel, and blaming of Israel for the regions problems, as a way to deflect criticism of their own miserable misrule. The whole "Israel is the biggest problem in the Middle East" issue is a scam, to enable local tyrants to keep their people down, and many of the people are starting to wise up.

Part of that awakening is a growing "Arab Reform Movement" in the Middle East that believes the problems in the Arab world are internal, not external. The fact that an increasing number of Arabs support this movement, and that governments are not trying to exterminate it, is encouraging. But the reform movement is pushing against centuries of conservatism and opposition to the kinds of things that Westerners take for granted. Meanwhile, Most Arabs still prefer to believe in conspiracies and fantasies, rather than deal with the reality of their situation. Now the opinion poll makes sense.

Israel is trying to get the U.S. to recognize that the main Israeli-Palestinian problem is the corruption and radicalism among the Palestinians that makes them a divided and virtually ungovernable group. That sort of thing tends to get ignored, largely because it is politically explosive and very difficult to deal with. It's much easier to talk about a "peace deal" or a "two state solution" without confronting the fact that the Arabs in general, and the Palestinians in particular, make no secret (at least in Arab language media) that their main objective is not peace with Israel but the destruction of Israel. This is the elephant in the room that too many will not even recognize, much less discuss.

Yet evidence of what the Israelis are saying is easily found. Check out the media sites for Hamas (which runs the 40 percent of Palestinians in Gaza) and Fatah (which used to represent all Palestinians but now only speaks for the 60 percent living in the West Bank). Hamas media is all about hating Israel, hating Fatah, and hating anyone who does not agree with Hamas in particular and Islamic radicalism in general. Fatah controlled media is also down on Israel and Hamas but spends a lot of time praising Fatah and all its (often imaginary) achievements. Talk to Palestinians on the street and you will hear another message, that Fatah is corrupt and Hamas is blinded by religious fanaticism. While Palestinians cannot agree on who should be in charge, they do agree on the need for a Palestinian state and the destruction of Israel.

In 2012, the Palestinians asked the UN to declare the existence of a Palestinian state, preferably with the 1967 borders (meaning no Jewish control of Jerusalem). That would set the stage for a Palestinian call for sanctions on Israel for not complying with the UN resolution and, eventually, that the UN use military force to make Israel comply. To help the world decide, the Palestinians have begun using unarmed mobs, which try to enter Israeli territory. This gets members of the mobs, preferably women and children, killed and turned into martyrs. This is used to further demonize the Israelis and encourage Western military intervention. This plan, like so many earlier ones, did not work.

The Palestinians accept the fact that no Arab state is going to try and take on the Israelis militarily. But Arabs believe some European states might be goaded into at least making threatening gestures. What the Palestinians really want here are economic sanctions. While the Palestinian terrorism campaign, begun in 2000, wrecked the Palestinian economy, the Israelis continued to thrive. Thus, any damage to the Israeli economy might gain more concessions and would be a big boost for Arab morale.

The Palestinians are particularly encouraged by the success of their efforts to make it acceptable for Palestinian women and children to die for the cause. Palestinian governments have been running media campaigns encouraging this for over a decade. The message has become more and more blunt in the last few years. None of this stuff appears in English, but there's plenty of it in Arabic. While the "hooray for death" propaganda was largely about being a suicide bomber, those who die, unarmed, while trying to occupy Israeli territory are also declared martyrs and praised copiously in the Palestinian media (along with cash payments to the families, making the deaths an economic, as well as political, transaction).

Israelis recognize all this and are appalled at how so many in the West are either ignorant of these realities or simply refuse to believe it. There's a comprehension gap here that the Israelis fear will lead to serious attempts to destroy Israel and kill many of Jews. After World War II, most Jews said "never again" (to mass murder like the Nazis engaged in against the Jews). But here it is, all over again, except this time the Nazis are speaking Arabic and aren't nearly as well organized.

 


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