Tuesday, August 08, 2006

War of Words: Loose Arabic sinks ships

Is this a jihadi? Nope, he's a mufsid

Have you ever referred to Islamic terrorists as jihadists? Did you know you were actually heaping praise on them instead of condemning them with a politically correct perjorative? Did you know that to Arabic-speaking listeners, you are acknowledging your own wickedness?

That's the premise of the 2006 essay, "Choosing Words Carefully: Language to Help Fight Islamic Terrorism," by Dr. Douglas E. Streusand and Lt. Col. Harry D. Tunnell IV. They believe Americans have unwittingly adopted the Arabic words that exalt our enemies and their mission -- and suggest several Arabic terms we should be using instead. For example, they write:

"We begin with the word jihad, which literally means striving and generally occurs as part of the expression jihad fi sabil illah, striving in the path of God. Striving in the path of God is a duty of all Muslims. Calling our enemies jihadis and their movement global jihad thus indicates that we recognize their doctrines and actions as being in the path of God and, for Muslims, legitimate. In short, we explicitly designate ourselves as the enemies of Islam."
Among the alternate words we might use, the authors argue, are hirabah, mufsid and fattan.

Hirabah means "sinful warfare or warfare contrary to Islamic law." So rather than "praising terrorists for jihad, one should describe the Islamic totalitarian movement as the global hirabah.

Mufsid is an evil or corrupt person; the plural is mufsidun. The essay's authors say you should call Islamic fascists mufsidun, not jihadis, because it's unambiguous to Arabic speakers and the word carries "enormous weight" in the Islamic world.

Fitna or fattan literally means "a temptation or trial," but has come to refer to "discord and strife among Muslims." A fattan is a tempter or a subversive. "Applying these terms to our enemies and their works condemns their current activities as divisive and harmful," the authors write, "(and it) also identifies them with movements and individuals in Islamic history with negative reputations."

Finally, the authors urge Westerners to use the word "God" instead of Allah. Saying Allah to refer to God would be like using Jehovah to refer to a Hebrew God. "In fact, Muslims, Christians and Jews all worship the God of Abraham," the authors have said. "Using different names exaggerates the divisions among the religions."

Imagine it in reverse: What if Islamic terrorists had blindly adopted the word "heroes" as their word for our soldiers, or ignorantly labeled the war on terror as "God's work." We'd laugh at them, and probably take some pride in our enemies' acknowledgement that we are on the side of the angels.


shanex said...

I prefer the term "insane and uneducated serial killing animals without morality or conscience" but if I'm in a hurry, I'd just say "savages."

Anonymous said...

The only good mufsid is a dead mufsid.

R. B. Scott said...

So what is your point, Ron? Were you trying to prove that Americans are, indeed, largely ignorant of the world beyond their borders, especially the Arab and Muslim worlds? Hmmm. If Americans have "unwittingly adopted the Arabic words that exalt our enemies and their mission", as the authors you cite suggest, who then is responsible for that mistake? Could it be that the mainstream media you so resolutely defend against all criticism is responsible for informing Americans about "jihad" and "jihadists"?

But perhaps a more important question is this: Instead of learning Arabic so we can more accurately criticize our Arab and Muslim brothers and sisters for their perceived shortcomings, couldn't we Americans occupy our time more productively by taking a long, hard look at the incompetence, malfeasance, haste, corruption, hypocrisy, and excess that characterize our own government's Middle East foreign policy? Might we profitably consider the role of credulous and willingly compliant meainsteam media operatives here in the good old USA who used the public airways to stampede the nation into an unnecessary and illegal war in Iraq on the basis of jingoistic propaganda, scare tactics, and unreliable and falsified intelligence findings?

I have to give you credit for your next to last paragraph, in which you note that, "'In fact, Muslims, Christians and Jews all worship the God of Abraham,' the authors have said. 'Using different names exaggerates the divisions among the religions.'"

Recognition that we all worship the same God is long overdue. (But the previous comments, above, by shanex and anonynmous remind that apparently some of us don't worship or revere any deities other than hate and ignorance.) Fratricide is a serious offense against the God who created us all and who loves us all, without especial favor toward any particular group. Many American Christians might pause to reflect upon the fact that the ancient Christian interjection and exclamation of praise, "Hallelujah!" has its roots in the Arab name of God, "Allah." They might also be surprised to note that when Muslims prostrate themselves in prayer, touching their foreheads to the prayer mat, they are actually preserving an ancient Christian habit of formal worship that is still used in rural places of worship in the Middle East where Christians and Muslims worship together.

Christianity and Islam have a very great deal in common, including their common roots in the ancient Middle East. Surely we would do better to focus on our common values, rather accentuating our differences and pointing out the shortcomings of our brothers and sisters, who love their children just as much as we love ours, and who revere their Creator, just as we do.

After all, now, perhaps as never before, if we are to have a future, it will be one in which we work together toward the common good.

Ron Franscell said...

On this I will agree with you, R.B.: Americans are largely ignorant of the world beyond their borders.

But I would add that my wandering in the Middle East in 2001 also convinced me further: The world beyond our borders, especially in the Middle East, is no less ignorant about America. I think we all have dysmorphic notions of outlanders ... just ask any New England liberal to describe a Southerner.

Is the American media to blame? I think to some degree it is. I hear terms like jihad being used a lot in broadcast and print, and maybe they shouldn't. But like the culture around us, journalists are suddenly faced with learning a new language (not just words, but cultural meaning, too), and it's likely there will be moments when the nuances are lost on us.

I'd love nothing more than to live in a world without war and strife. Moreover, I want my children and their children to live in such a world. For the moment, it's seems unlikely, in part, because fascist Muslims want to kill me, my children and their children. No olive branch, no negotiation, no act of good faith has worked so far .... so what would you suggest? As has been said here before, cozying up to Osama, al Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah and the madrassahs' Class of '06 remains unwise. Unless you like cuddling with scorpions.

If we force Americans to study the allegedly failed American foreign policies in the Middle East, it would only be fair to also study the failed Middle Eastern foreign policies in America.

Anonymous said...

I'm so pissed off I'm shaking here!!! what part of "they want to kill all of us" is so hard to understand?? these ignorant people are worse than Nazis and we have too many people in this country who want to make nice and appease these monsters. honest to god, i think the people of the United States are about one terror attack away from supporting a nuke on tehran. do they care? god no. in the end, I'd say the west is the only one trying to pursue any form of negotiated peace in lebanon or iraq, but these monsters are doing what they've done in paletsine forever, standing in the way of negotiation. i'm afraid a lot of them must die before we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

R. B. Scott said...

You wrote, "fascist Muslims want to kill me, my children and their children. No olive branch, no negotiation, no act of good faith has worked so far .... so what would you suggest?"

I can only ask, what olive branches, what negotiations in good faith, what acts of good faith are you talking about? I have seen the Bush administration offer none of the above--NONE! As nearly as I can tell, militant Islamists want only for the USA to a) stop slaughtering Muslims in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon, b) stop subsidizing Israeli expansionism and ethnic cleansing and the Zionist state's unrelenting slaughter of more or less defenseless Palestinian Arabs and Christians, and c) get Western troops out of Muslim world. Any objective study of the publically-declared goals of Islamist leaders reveals a rather modest agenda--basically they want to be left alone to pursue their legitimate life projects, safe from Western oppression, exploitation, and interventionism. I doubt very seriously that they want to kill you, your children, and their children. Frankly, I doubt that they even know you exist. Your claim that they want to kill you and your children is hyperbole of the worst sort.

You wrote, "As has been said here before, cozying up to Osama, al Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah and the madrassahs' Class of '06 remains unwise. Unless you like cuddling with scorpions."

No one I know is cozying up to terrorists. Your suggestion that anyone who disagrees with your wild and baseless charges is a terrorist sympathizer is worse than silly--it's dishonest and a reprehensible form of character assassination.

You wrote, "If we force Americans to study the allegedly failed American foreign policies in the Middle East, it would only be fair to also study the failed Middle Eastern foreign policies in America."

Like many other Western observers, including a growing number of retired journalists who have actually worked in the region, I have studied the history of terrorism and the history of the Middle East, formally and informally. The West's long history of colonialism, interventionism, exploitation, oppression, and slaughter in the region is, in a word, criminal.

By the way, making reference to to Arabs and Muslims as "scorpions" or other lower forms of life is a form of de-humanization that is common among overtly and devoutly racist Zionist ideologues. Do you resort to this kind of racist slur purposefully, in order to signal a political affiliation?

Until you and anonymous can rise above the kind of racist fear and hate that expresses loathing of members of other racial and religious groups by dehumanizing them as "scorpions" and "monsters", you are unlikely to win the support of any fair-minded, thoughtful, intelligent observer.

Ron Franscell said...

R.B., you live in an alternate universe.

When you earlier referred to cavemen fighting saber-toothed tigers, did you yourself not resort to reducing some human group to metaphoric sub-human form? I clearly didn't reduce all Arabs and Muslims to insect level, and your reading is utterly and ridiculously myopic. But if you'd like me to suggest that Islamic mufsidun and fattan are no better than insects -- although far more dangerous -- I'll do it freely. Unless they metamorphose into delicate butterflies, they (and we) risk extermination.

And don't lecture me or anyone else about "loving thy neighbors" when you couldn't bring yourself to try for 10 seconds to see the world from a Republican's viewpoint, much less George W. Bush's. What does it say about you that you're perfectly willing to apologize for Osama bin Ladin, but you can't imagine -- much less agree with -- a rational reason for American government decisions. Are you suggesting you didn't know that the Bush Administration (and many previous adminsitrations) have brokered peace deals between Israel and Palestine? That the USA has worked for a two-state solution? That the resolution of the Egyptian-Israeli conflict was largely made possible by the USA, which continues to pay billions every year to an Arab state to remain at peace? That the USA has reached out farther and faster than any other nation to seek a peaceful solution to this new conflict? That the whole world has peacefully demanded Iran stop developing nuclear energy that could be converted to weaponry, but Iran promises to do MORE of it, yet hasn't been attacked by the USA or anyone else? You're seeing only what you want to see.

And if you are so blinded by your partisanship that you don't believe ordinary innocent Americans and other Westerners are at risk every day from terrorist attacks by people who see no moral problem with killing civilians in, oh, airplanes, subways and office buildings, then you simply aren't paying attention.

When you presume to speak for "fair-minded, thoughtful, intelligent" observers, your arrogance is on flamboyant display. Are they are the ones who agree with you, and the ones whom the rest of us racist, radical, knee-jerk dullards are trying to win over?

Forgive me, but you seem to be an intolerant hypocrite who's willing to call anyone who disagrees with you names of calculated insult ... then whine about being called some rather benign (sometimes imaginary) names. Very simply, your voluminous writing here shows you are passionate about your sympathies with these indiscriminate killers. Admit it! At no point -- despite repeated invitations -- have you decried the Hezbollah bombing of Israeli civilians (or past suicide attacks and IEDs, for that matter.) Your opinion of me as an "anti-Arab racist" is no worse than mine of you as a "terrorist sympathizer" -- you clearly sympathize with Osama, Hamas, Hezbollah, suicide bombers and their ilk. Pretty simple.

The difference is that you're wrong about me. But at least you find my writing fascinating enough to return several times a day! Thank you!

Gideon MacLeish said...

Why the Liberal Solution to Israel....SUCKS!

As the conflict between Hezbollah and Israel continues on, I have found the liberal response compelling. They have been quick to judge Israel, to dictate Israeli foreign policy as if we had a right to do so, and yet, ironically, they have not seemed to have a problem with Hezbollah's daily barrage of rockets into Israel. The poor aim off Hezbollah doesn't negate the intent, which is clearly to kill as many Jews as possible. They certainly aren't trying to offer a free fireworks show to the residents of Haifa.

Dissecting the liberal response quickly reveals it for the bizarre, muddled mess that it is, and exposes a party desperately in danger of collapse from the lack of strong leadership. While they appear to have solutions, those solutions are no solutions, and are, ironically, only adding fuel to the fire.

In this conflict, we have two kids on the playground. One has been playing on monkey bars "claimed" by the other. The other boy begins throwing rocks at the child on the disputed monkey bars, and the child on the monkey bars comes back in and starts trying to beat up the bully. The teacher intervens, and sits the boys down together. When asked what the two boys want, the boy who was playing on the monkey bars says he wants to play on the monkey bars. The other boy says he wants to kill the boy on the monkey bars. In short, one set of demands is reasonable, the other is entirely unreasonable. The one with the unreasonable demands obviously doesn't deserve a place at the table. Our solution would be like the teacher turning back and trying to find a solution for the boy; eg, maybe he could simply maim or cripple the object of his hatred instead of killing him. Maybe he could simply excise his voice box with a pocketknife, if that's what annoys him. It is absurd to even think about a teacher offering these solutions, and it is equally absurd to think about us lending any credence whatsoever to Hezbollah.

Worse yet, the liberal "solution" revolves around having the United Nations police the area. Great. So now we've traded AMERICAN hegemony for INTERNATIONAL hegemony, and we've done so in the most ironic way possible, as it was the UN that started this whole conflict in the first place by the manner in which they "created" the nation of Israel (essentially, for the unschooled in this area, it was the ultimate example of eminent domain abuse). We're going to turn to an organization that planted millioons of Jews in the middle of a bunch of people that have been bred to HATE them from their birth, and expect a peaceful outcome?

The best solution for the nation of Israel is to let them fight their own fights, and to not be swayed by the propaganda of either side. It says MUCH about the nature of Hezbollah when they would WILLINGLY sacrifice their own children by using them as human shields and, posthumously, as propaganda tools. When our reporters are being led on guided tours conducted by Hezbollah's thugs, how can we seriously expect to have any point of view except Hezbollah's?

Anonymous said...

The article, "Liberals and Israel" by Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post

Usually, bloggers get hammered for what they say. These days, liberal bloggers are being denounced for what they aren't saying.

As I've noted before, most of the lefty blogs are avoiding the Middle East war. Some of those puzzled by the relative silence have suggested that these bloggers don't want to wade into this particular crossfire. Some of the bloggers have noted that they have no particular expertise on the subject.

Now the debate has taken a new turn, with the accusation that the liberals are really just hiding their anti-Israel views. I have no idea whether this is true or not--the bloggers are not exactly reticent on other subjects--and there are some liberal commentators who have certainly not shied away from criticizing Israel.

Still, conservatives are ramping up the argument that there's a game of camouflage going on, and the back-and-forth is revealing.

David Adesnik at Oxblog declares:

"Clearly, something else besides complexity is preventing liberal bloggers from writing about Israel. I would suggest that there is a part of the online left which is so viciously anti-Israel that moderates have been intimidated into silence. Let's hope that this kind of viciousness never migrates off line, where it might threaten bipartisan support for Israel."

At the liberal TPM Cafe, Matthew Yglesias dismisses that charge, but then concedes some of Adesnik's points:

"I have to say that David Adesnik's account of why a number of major liberal bloggers have eerily silent on the Israel-Lebanon war strikes me as a bit absurd. He thinks the problem is that extreme anti-Israel voices on the interweb have intimidated more moderate folks out of expressing their more-supportive-of-Israeli-policy views which he imagines are akin to the lockstep support of Israeli policy that one hears from Democratic Party elected officials. I can't say for certain since I don't read minds, but I'm almost positive this is false.

"Suffice it to say that I know lots of liberals and talk to them. The number of rank-and-file liberal people who agree with the sorts of things Democrats have been saying about this is vanishingly small. And, indeed, what Israel is doing is certainly incompatible with the general liberal outlook on use of force questions. The Democrats aren't expressing a mainstream liberal view of the situation, they bowing to pressure from the Lobby That Must Not Be Named. If we heard more from liberal bloggers, we'd be hearing commentary that ranged from somewhat critical to very critical. So why don't we hear more?

"Two things, I think. For one thing, a lot of the liberal blogosphere is primarily interested in partisanship rather than robust ideological conflict. Support for Israel isn't a partisan issue in American politics, and liberals (like me) who criticize America's Israel policy are ginning up trouble for the Democratic coalition. So you're not going to see DailyKos and blogs with a similar mentality making a big deal out of this. The other thing is that David's right to see an intimidation factor at work. But annoying and even maddening as hard-core Israel-bashers may be, there's nothing especially intimidating about a group of powerless and marginal email-senders and comment-writers. Israel's hard-core supporters in the United States, by contrast, are extremely powerful and in the habit of mounting broad-brush smear campaigns against people they dislike."

In the Weekly Standard, Dean Barnett does a content analysis of the most popular liberal blog:

"When the bombs began to fall in the Middle East, the Daily Kos had a problem. And the Daily Kos's problem could soon be the Democratic party's problem . . .

"Perhaps sensing that this issue could highlight just how far removed the Kos community is from the American mainstream, [Markos] Moulitsas and his other front-page bloggers have opted to ignore Israel's war. Combined, the half dozen front-pagers have written exactly one post on the subject. And that post, authored by Moulitsas, simply declared that he wouldn't write anything further on the subject. So while the most important story of the year develops, the nation's leading progressive blog has chosen to focus on the Indiana second district House race between Chris Chocola and Joe Donnelly. Nothing wrong with that; it's their prerogative to blog about whatever they like.

"But inside the Kos diaries, it's been a different story. The conversation in the diaries has been overwhelmingly anti-Israel--and potentially disastrous for the Democratic party.

"One diarist labeled Israel 'a destabilizing force in the region' and saw 'no difference between Iran's support of Hezbollah and Hamas in the form of finances and even arms and The United States' financial support of Israel.' Before modifying this diary into a more moderate form, the author opened his essay with the declaration, 'Israel is showing the entire world why the Iranian President was absolutely right to suggest that Israel cease being a sovereign state as is.'

"Echoing the themes of moral equivalence and hostility towards the Jewish state, another diarist observed that, 'War is nothing but terrorist attacks. Call it what you will, whatever rhetoric you want to use . . . when it comes down to it, that's all it is. Israel committed terrorism today. And we helped to fund that terrorism.'"

The problem with this analysis is that the views of a few people who write in to Kos (I don't know how it's decided who gets on the diary page) represent . . . well, mainly themselves. It's like characterizing a radio show by a few of the loons who call in. And getting from these few folks to a problem for the Democratic Party seems like a big stretch.

Atrios explains his lack of posting this way:

"I've said nothing about war in Lebanon or Ethiopia because I have nothing to add, and also because -- as you may or may not be aware -- the United States is actually involved in a hugely bloody war right now, and this is more of a pressing concern to me personally."

Andrew Sullivan is dismissive:

"Are lefties unable to grapple with complex regional wars? Nah. They're just wimping out."

One liberal voice, The Nation , isn't pulling any punches:

"It makes no sense for Israel to destroy the civil infrastructure of the Palestinians and of Lebanon in response to the kidnapping of its soldiers, or to further weaken the capacity of the governments of Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority while at the same trying to hold them accountable for the actions of groups and militias they cannot reasonably control. This collective punishment of the Palestinian and Lebanese people is not only inhumane and should be condemned but also leads to more radicalization and to more chaos."

Kevin Drum , who initially opted out of the Mideast debate in his Washington Monthly blog, says of the failed cease-fire talks:

"Of course, it's increasingly obvious that we don't want to get anything done. The Rome conference is pretty clearly not designed to accomplish anything serious, and in the meantime Israel is gearing up for a long-term occupation of Lebanon -- I'd bet on years myself, not weeks or months. It's hard to think of a worse outcome for Israel, the Middle East, or the world, but that's what we're getting."

Pensword said...

Mr. Francell, since you deleted my last post I must assume it was for the strong language I directed at rbscott. I believe that my language is appropriate for the naive and typical liberal things rbscott has said so I want to make my point again without being too vitriolic this time!! I agree that rbscott is lecturing people about trying to understand Arabs and Muslims which is all fine and good, but rbscott doesn't expend the same effort to understand people right here in this country!! As long as American boys are in the Mideast fighting for America, I believe it is treason to sympathize with the enemy terrorists. That would be like pausing World War 2 to try to understand why Nazis might want to gas and cremate 6 million Jews. The time for understanding and chatting has passed because these people have made no effort to understand or chat. They just want to kill everybody and that doesn't make it easy to chat!

Ron Franscell said...

Yeah, Pen, I really don't think c*** and f****t really contribute to a friendly debate.

Not that it appears to be terribly friendly at times, but you get my drift....

R. B. Scott said...

The editor doth protest too much--way too much--methinks.

As I pointed out earlier point out, Ron, you insist on trying to read unintended meaning to the story I used to illustrate the legitimacy of self-defense.

As for my supposed inability to see the world from a Republican point of view, which apparently drives you to distraction: Sorry, that old dog just won't hunt. I decide who to cast my vote for based on the views, principles, and integrity of candidates as evidenced by the candidates' public statements and actions, not on the basis of party affiliation. I've voted for Republican candidates on more than one occasion, and if I lived in, for instance, Nebraska, I'd have no problem whatsoever voting for Senator Chuck Hagel. I've heard Senator Hagel speak in Washington, and I have followed his statements on the crisis in the Middle East for years. He's earned my respect. So have several other Republican members of Congress and former members of Congress, not least among them the Republicans at the Council for the National Interest all of whom are experts on U.S. Middle East foreign policy and with decades of practical first-hand experience in government and in the region. These men, all of whom are staunch, seasoned Republican movers and shakers, and most of whom are veterans of WWII and/or the Korean War, hold and express views that differ markedly from yours.

Look, for instance, at the views of former Chief of Mission to Iraq and fomer Deputy Director of the White House Task Force on Terrorism (under Ronald Reagan), former Ambassador Edward Peck.

What you and some others fail to see, Ron, is that the crisis in the Middle East is simply not about issues that legitimately lend themselves to partisan politics. The issues at the heart of the crisis in the Holy Land and in the Middle East are essentially matters of fair-dealing, human rights, and U.S. and international law. What is at stake here is our traditional American values, the values upon which our republic was founded, and nothing less.

R. B. Scott said...

By the way, Ron, I don't need an invitation from you to decry "the Hezbollah bombing of Israeli civilians (or past suicide attacks and IEDs, for that matter.)" Implicit in my unequivocal and unambiguous statements regarding the legitimacy of self-defense--and the illigitimacy of all other violence--is recognition that any attack on innocent (non-combatant) civilians, any civilians, is a criminal act.

You seem to be incensed because I have not explicity condemned Hezbollah's attacks on Israeli civilians. Indeed, those attacks violate international law.

As in any conflict, determining who is at fault, or more at fault, is largely a matter of looking at motivation and determining who the aggressor is. Israel has a long and ignoble history of violating the territorial sovereignty of Lebanon and has illegally occupied Lebanese territory for many years in the Sheba Farms area, not to mention the illegal occupation of the Golan Heights, which is Syrian territory, or the illegal occupation of Palestinian territory since the 1967 war. In the years since 2000, when Israel withdrew from most of southern Lebanon, Israeli forces have nonetheless continued to violate Lebanese territory repeatedly and with impunity. Only occasionally, about 1/10th as often, has Hezbollah dared to respond in kind. The specific incident that sparked Israel's current massive bombing campaign against Lebanese civilians and infrastructure was a Hezbollah attack on an Israeli military target, in which Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers, for the stated purpose of trading them for Lebanese prisoners held by Israel (held in some cases for decades). Such trades have occurred in the past. The initial Hezbollah attack, on whichever side of the border it occurred, was against an Israeli military target and involved no civilian casualties. Hezbollah's use of rockets against Israeli civilians came only after Israel's grossly disproportionate attacks killed innocent Lebanese civilians. These are well documented facts.

It is clear who the aggressor is in the current conflict, and it is clear who first targeted innocent civilians. It is also quite clear which side has killed a vastly larger number of innocent civilians, though it is using "precision-guided" bombs. By the way, similar circumstances obtain in Gaza, where Israel's most recent slaughter of Palestinian civilians began after Hamas attacked an Isreali military outpost and captured an Israeli soldier. Israel's violations of international humanitarial law in illegally-occupied Palestinian territory are legion and well documented.

Resistance against occupying military forces is legal under international law. Wouldn't Americans reserve the right to resist the occupying military forces of an invading foreign country on American soil? How can they expect others to pretend they have no such right? Israel in Lebanon and Palestine, and the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan, are invading occupying forces, yet they wish to paint resistance to the invading and occupying forces with the broad brush of terrorism. Can you spell hypocrisy, Ron? States can and do engage in terrorism, too. When they do, it's called "state terrorism." Have you ever actually studied terrorism, Ron? Ever read, in The American Conservative magazine, about the work of Dr. Robert Pape?

R. B. Scott said...

That's Dr. Robert Pape at http://www.amconmag.com/2005_07_18/article.html

Ron Franscell said...

You think Hezbollah and Hamas are defending themselves, and I think Israel is defending itself.

Your summary of the conflict seems to be: A woman who is repeatedly beaten by her boyfriend without fighting back must never fight back. You suggest that the boyfriend is entitled to expect the same passive behavior every time he beats her, and that she is somehow wrong to fight back if she's never fought back before.

This time, Israel didn't do what Hezbollah expected after killing and kidnapping Israeli soldiers inside Israel. You've already agreed that Israel has a right to defend itself, so we agree the result is defensible. As is our self-defense in Afghanistan and Iraq.

I also agree that it's clear who the aggressor is in this conflict. It's Hezbollah, according to Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, among others. You want to go back to some point in history where Israel did something that provoked Hezbollah or Muslims in general, and it would be simple to go back one more step to find a provocation against Israel or Jews. It's an unending debate in a region where conflict is cultural. The fact remains: This latest crisis is likely to have never happened if Hezbollah hadn't crossed into Israel to kill and capture Israeli soldiers.

But we disagree on much more. One problem is that you state it's a fact that Israel's response was "grossly disproportionate." That's not a fact, but your opinion.

I admire your passion to defend Arabs and Muslims against the West's misunderstanding -- which I have acknowledged many times. I spent some time in the Middle East right after Sept. 11 and was captivated by the region and its people. But we are at war with a smaller segment of the Arab/Muslim world that embodies an unusual and bloodthirsty radicalism. If understanding them helps us defeat them, we must understand them. But we cannot substitute passive understanding for victory over terrorism any more than we could have tried to "understand" Nazism and allowed it to flourish.

Anonymous said...

Remember when the Far Left ridiculed the Far Right as shallow for voting on the basis of one issues (abortion)? Now the Far Left, as evidenced by rbscott and Connecticut Democrats, has become a one-issue bloc, just as shallow as the Far Right. That's why this country's future rests completely in the ands of Moderates who can see the interconnectedness of many issues.

Carl B

raven said...

I'm confused. Is the United States the cause of all the problems or the solution to all the problems? Reading these posts, there's clearly some who believe we're the cause, but today's Saudi-owned Asharq al-Awsat newspaper agreed that President Bush is right when he says this conflict is a chance to "resolve the root causes of the problem."

The daily said "a bigger and more complicated peace can be reached between the Palestinians and Israelis," adding that Bush is the only one who can push for such a plan because he is "strong and the first president who called for a Palestinian and Israeli state to co-exist side by side."

So it seems like the Middle East acknowledges U.S. leadership and needs American involvement to solve its problems, not to be merely "left alone" as rbscott suggests.

raven said...

Columnist Mshari Al-Zaydi also wrote an excellent column in today's Asharq al-Awsat. Mshari is a Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism.

"The world is not always against us, as much as we are against ourselves. The popular artists lamenting the state of the Arab world should transform their calls for revolution and unity into a working plan and responsible actions. We await the UN Security Council to make a decision and in turn, it awaits the Arab viewpoints, which is why the Foreign Minister of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates and the Arab League’s Secretary General left Beirut directly to New York and are expected to meet with the US and French representatives, in order to take Lebanon’s “corrections” into consideration. Their central aim is to withdraw Lebanon from the proxy war between Iran and Syria, on the one hand, and the United States and Israel on the other. Hezbollah itself, a few years ago, announced that all occupied Lebanese lands have been liberated. It is futile to keep the Lebanese front active, unless it is a prologue to something else, internal or foreign!"

R. B. Scott said...

I take it that your most recent collection of facile and grossly innacurate restatements of my position, a transparent attempt create strawmen that you can knock down, is your way of trying to avoid answering my question: "Have you ever actually studied the history of terrorism?"

The honest answer, apparently, would be, "No, I have not." Is that correct, Ron? Nor, I take it, have you ever seriously studied the history of the Middle East, Western colonialism in the region, more recent Western interventionism in the region, etc., etc. (Didn't they teach that at the Naval Academy when you were there? No? Oops! Gee, I wonder why not?)

You would have your readers believe that what you bring to the discussion here is a warm feeling for the Arab and Muslim worlds that you gained by spending a few weeks in the region after 9/11, is that right?


So how exactly is it that you came to be "captivated by the region and its people", but somehow the opinions you so persistently offer here bear such a truly remarkable resemblance to the standard neoconservative and Zionist talking points, including the ludicrous notion that somehow it is possible to conduct a war against and achieve a "victory over terrorism"? Has no one pointed out to you that terrorism is a tactic, not an enemy?

If your views were informed by anything like a comprehensive grasp of the available research and analysis regarding terrorism, including, for instance, suicide bombing, you would, were you are as open-minded as you say you are, ditch all the nonsense about "victory over terrorism" being achievable through air campaigns, ground invasions, and military occupations of Arab and Muslim countries. All such tactics only exacerbate the problems that give rise to terrorism in the first place.

The Israelis (who began as terrorists themselves) have been trying to kill their way out of their problems with Arab and Muslim terrorists for decades. How well is that working for them, Ron?

And you think the USA should now take over and fight the war against terrorism for the Israelis, even as we fund their various invasions and illegal occupations?

There are none so blind as those who will not see.

R. B. Scott said...

Here's that suicide bombing link: http://www.palestinechronicle.com/story-08040693009.htm

Ron Franscell said...

I'm not sure what you mean by "studying the history of terrorism." Have I taken a college course in it? Nope. Have I trained to be a terrorist? Nope. Have I read any articles or books about it? Yes. Have I read voraciously since 9/11? You bet. Your conclusion, because I disagree with you, will most certainly be that I haven't studied it and know nothing about it, and thus am not entitled to an opinion.

I would counter that you likely know very little about how to build a microchip and couldn't possibly make your own plasma screen .... but you use computers expertly to spread your opinions. So should your blogging opinions be negated because you haven't studied computers?

But here's a deal: Recommend a book I should read; I'll read it. No strings attached. (I considered asking you to read a book I recommend, but changing your mind isn't as important to me as it is to you.)

Like it or not, all Americans have opinions about terrorism. Most don't share your views that terrorists (except your seminal Semitic terrorists) are misunderstood sweeties whose pursuit of sweetness and light is twisted out of shape by Satan America and its Jewish puppet-state. But that's OK. We all arrive at our opinions in our own ways. Your dissent is accepted in America as a fundamental freedom, and like the rest of us, having your opinion doesn't require that you graduate from a college course.

My time in the Middle East -- specifically to explore many of these East-vs-West issues -- was extremely educational for me. I still correspond with some common Arab and Muslim people I met there, and I learned much about the roots of their views, which are as diverse as Americans' views. I made special note of their ability to separate Americans (whom they admire in general) from the symbolic America (which discomfits them, to put it nicely.) I was always treated with kindness and respect, which I tried very hard to repay with kindness and respect. I would like to tell you a touching story about a day I spent with a poor Bedouin in the Sahara, but I frankly believe you would demean it -- as you have other personal information of mine -- with more of your smarmy, arrogant, rhetorical, booby-trap quizzes. Nothing I could say would penetrate your partisan, already-made-up mind. I don't believe you are capable of listening, much less hearing. But I am determined to hear you better than you'll ever hear me ... and that's my definition of open-mindedness.

You should be as tolerant of fellow Americans as you are of terrorists, MG/RB. You needn't agree with everything America does, but you should try to find something worth believing about what we do.

R. B. Scott said...

If you were as open-minded as you wish your readers to think you are, Ron, your replies to me would not be filled with ad hominem attacks and self-serving distortions and gross misrepresentations of my positions, which I take pains to express as clearly as possible. You would, instead, address the specific arguments I offer and rebut them if you can or at least challenge them by logically by attempting to refute elements of them that you find questionable or irrelevant. But you don't do that. Instead you simply distort my arguments and resort to ad hominem attacks, name-calling, innuendo, and character assassination.

You ask that I suggest a book you should read, but why would I expect that you would actually read anything I might suggest? After all, I have provided numerous references to support my arguments and links to respected authorities whose views are published on-line, but you have yet to give any indication that you have read any--any--of the supporting documentation I typically provide. You may have read some of it, but your readers here would never know it by your responses; it never plays any kind of role in your replies. You never bother to comment in any way on the references I provide, nor do you provide alternate references that support your own perspective.

If you were certain of the basis for your so determinedly held and often angrily-stated opinions, I would think you would be delighted to provide references to authorities in the field whose analyses support and bolster your opinions, instead of resorting to name-calling and character assassination, which neither informs or impresses anyone who is worth trying to inform or impress.

I don't think you understand how to discuss the subjects in question in a way that is likely to enlighten anyone, you or your readers.

Who is MG/RB? Are you confusing me with the guy who bailed out awhile back, after you and your thuggish friends insulted and harassed him, as you have me? I'm not Mitch Gillespie, Ron. My name is R.B. Scott.

If you ever decide to discuss these matters in a rational way, without the ad hominem attacks, name-calling, and character assassination, you'll not only make more progress in understanding some of the most important political and religious issues of our time, you'll also find that the discussion here may attract rather than repel intelligent observers and knowledgeable readers.

jason said...

Speaking of words about terrorism, here are some from "experts":

"We seriously suspect the agents of the Americans and Israelis in conducting such horrendous terrorist acts and cannot believe the people who kidnap Philippines nationals, for instance, or behead U.S. nationals are Muslims."
Ayatollah Khamenei

"We will not allow anyone to perform any terrorist acts inside or from Afghanistan against anyone. We are a free country where Osama is living as a guest. This is the reality and it is up to the world to accept it."
Mohammad Rabbani of Taliban

"There are many resistance movements in the world, like the IRA for instance. But it is only Islamic resistance movements that are put on the terrorist list. This is what I am saying.
Sheikh A. Yassin, ignoring that a variety of non-Islamic groups are on the list, including Basque separatists, Colombian rebels, Shining Path ... and the IRA

"Jihad against America will continue, economically and militarily. By the grace of Allah, America is in retreat and its economy is developing cracks ever-increasingly. But more attacks are required. I advise the youth to find more of America's economic hubs. The enemy can be defeated by attacking its economic centers."
Osama bin Laden

"Oh, you Muslims everywhere, sever the ties of their nation, tear them apart, ruin their economy, instigate against their corporations, destroy their embassies, attack their interests, sink their ships, and shoot down their airplanes. Kill them in land, at sea, and in the air, kill them wherever you find them."
Sheikh Abdel Rahman

"September 11 was but the opening salvo of the global war on America."
Azzam the American

"Hezbollah is defending Lebanon against an invading foreign military force that wantonly slaughters Lebanese civilians, men, women, and children."
R.B. Scott

Ron Franscell said...

Hmmm. Al Qaeda and Hezbollah are noble freedom-fighters but bloggers are thugs?

Well, to quote a blogger you might know: "If you could only fathom the motives of your associates, how much better you would understand them. If you could only know your fellows, you would eventually fall in love with them."

Do you believe it, or do you merely say it because it sounds pseudo-poetic?

gohuskers said...

rbscott, are you suggesting that only "thoughtful and intelligent" would agree with you? Or that nobody who thinks with clarity and substance would visit here? I have a doctorate in history and I visit here often, not because I am looking for information to change my mind but because I might see how other people think. Plus Ron is occasionally funny and insightful, whether I always agree or not. Most blogs I've visited would have "flamed" you or deleted you long ago for some of the pro-terrorist, anti-Israel propaganda you spew, so I'd go easy on the "I've been gang-raped by thugs" storyline. It's more like you've gotten a wedgie from the debate team. My best advice is to blog with a more open mind than you've exhibited here and try not to be so superior and smug. Opinions are like assholes; everybody has one and luckily we don't always share.

If you are so vexed by all this, and believe it lacks any value or purpose, go away. Find a blog where everybody agrees with you and throw a Superiority Over the Unwashed Masses Party.

Ron Franscell said...

Jason, you caused me to look up the U.S. State Department's latest list of foreign terror organizations. There's a surfeit of Islamic groups, to be sure, but certainly not exclusive of other, non-Islamic groups. For interested readers, here's the list to judge for yourself:

Current List of Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations

-- Abu Nidal Organization (ANO)
-- Abu Sayyaf Group
-- Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade
-- Ansar al-Islam
-- Armed Islamic Group (GIA)
-- Asbat al-Ansar
-- Aum Shinrikyo
-- Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA)
-- Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army (CPP/NPA)
-- Continuity Irish Republican Army
-- Gama’a al-Islamiyya (Islamic Group)
-- HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement)
-- Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM)
-- Hizballah (Party of God)
-- Islamic Jihad Group
-- Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU)
-- Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM) (Army of Mohammed)
-- Jemaah Islamiya organization (JI)
-- al-Jihad (Egyptian Islamic Jihad)
-- Kahane Chai (Kach)
-- Kongra-Gel (KGK, formerly Kurdistan Workers' Party, PKK, KADEK)
-- Lashkar-e Tayyiba (LT) (Army of the Righteous)
-- Lashkar i Jhangvi
-- Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)
-- Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG)
-- Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM)
-- Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK)
-- National Liberation Army (ELN)
-- Palestine Liberation Front (PLF)
-- Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)
-- Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLF)
PFLP-General Command (PFLP-GC)
-- al-Qa’ida
-- Real IRA
-- Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)
-- Revolutionary Nuclei (formerly ELA)
-- Revolutionary Organization 17 November
-- Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (DHKP/C)
Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC)
-- Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso, SL)
-- Tanzim Qa'idat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn (QJBR) (al-Qaida in Iraq) (formerly Jama'at al-Tawhid wa'al-Jihad, JTJ, al-Zarqawi Network)
-- United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC)

Anonymous said...

Hear, hear, Gohuskers. r.b. scott seems to have a lot of time on his/her hands to spend being negative. How about being positive for once? I get tired of all this partisanship, too. For goodness' sake, all Republicans are not evil (far from it) and neither are all Democrats. When Clinton was in office, Republicans called him the devil. Now it's just a Republican's turn to get the wrath of the party not in the Oval Office. Whatever.

And I do think it's interesting -- what are all these bloggers like in person? Do they actually speak as well (and as vitriolically) (if that's a word) as they write? Would they be willing to speak out these opinions face to face? Or do they hide behind their little computer screens (as I'm doing, leaving an anonymous comment). (The irony is not lost on me.)

The world will never know...

R. B. Scott said...

You're right about one thing, Ron. I do live in a parallel universe. Moreover, I am not alone here. There are many of us who inhabit this universe. Here are the words of just one:

"I, Tsilli Goldenberg, Israeli citizen

"Accuse you - Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister of Israel, Amir Peretz, Minister of Defense, Dan Halutz Head of Staff Chief Commander of the Israeli Army, of committing this bestial barbaric slaughter in Lebanon.

"I accuse you of committing Crimes against Humanity towards the Palestinian People. I accuse you of deserting our soldiers, when their lives could be saved by negotiations, and I accuse you of starting an unjustified war in my name.

"Haniya, Prime-minister of the Palestinian people, was willing to negotiate with us not only the return of P.O.W Gilaad Shalit, but a long term cease fire, that would enable people of Israel and Palestine SECURITY and Sanity. You refused.

"Nasrallah was willing to negotiate the return of the soldiers kidnapped in the north. You refused.

"Instead you have endangered the lives of hundreds of thousands of Israelis, you have caused the death of 27 Israelis, [till now], civilians and soldiers,

"You have caused the mass murder of more than 350 Lebanese, many of them children, you have caused 500,000 Lebanese to be refugees, and you continue to murder and starve Palestinian children, just because they are living on their land.

"The Palestinians are not my enemies, nor are the Lebanese. You, have become my enemy. And I will fight you, and so will many other sane people around the world."

Tsilli Goldenberg, Masarik 11, Jerusalem 93106 Israel

The universe I live in is one in which sane people understand that mankind cannot kill its way to peace and security. War has never, in all of human history to the present moment, put an end to war. The only hope for ending war is an increasing reliance upon voluntarily assumed restraints in accordance with the moral dictates of expanding human wisdom. These self-imposed restraints are at once the most powerful and the most tenuous of all the factors of human civilization--concepts of justice and ideals of brotherhood.

At this moment in human history, it is becoming increasingly clear to sane people that we desperately needs all our available human resources working together if we are to avoid a truly catastrophic breakdown of civilization.

And what do you have on offer here instead?, Ron?

"The only good mufsid is a dead mufsid."

". . . fascist Muslims want to kill me, my children and their children."

". . . you like cuddling with scorpions."

". . . we cannot substitute passive understanding for victory over terrorism."

". . . more of your smarmy, arrogant, rhetorical, booby-trap quizzes."

Et cetera.

We who don't rely on weapons of war have only words and our willingness and ability to speak truth to those who are blinded by fear, greed, and lust for power over their fellows.

Are you sure you are doing all you can to facilitate an increased appreciation of "concepts of justice and ideals of brotherhood"?

You and your coterie of fans here seem to be more than a little fuzzy on "concepts of justice and ideals of brotherhood", Ron. You're seem plainly to be not much interested in them. You seem to prefer to rely instead on tools that destroy human life and property.

Do you think you will not reap what you sow?

Ron Franscell said...

You seem agitated, MG/RB. Do they have Prozac in your universe?

R. B. Scott said...

No, Ron, we manage, somehow, to get by on prayer and meditation as a means of managing the pain of daily living and as a stimulus to growth in the face of conflict.

That Cleaning Lady said...

Yes... RB should consider prozac, or maybe thorazine an iced latte.
Gohuskers said it best... go away, go find some more acceptable sand box to play in and stop condeming those who don't agree with your train of thought.
As for the correct verbage, thanks for the corrections, I never want to look a terrorist in the face and call him or her a jihadist when I should call him or her a mufsid. Hopefully the day will never come when we have to use those words face-to-face on US soil. I stay within the US borders and encourage everyone to do the same. My Blog is "Get Off The Phone" if anyone cares to see MY face, I'm not afraid to show it, just not quite figured out how to get it to follow me along on my blog comments. Thanks.. Jana

SingingSkies said...

The situation in the Middle East is so complex, convoluted, and long-standing, that probably the only one who truly has any earthly, or unearthly, idea of what's going on in the region is God.

I participate in 5-6 different forums, including 2 mostly clergy ones. The thing which has totally astonished me is that, almost without exception, the volume and vitriol of the discussion has increased exponentially once Israel became part of the conversation. And, sad to say, the exception wasn't one of the clergy forums.

Ron, this thread is probably a record for you, isn't it?

I wonder what our response to these complex issues has to say about us and our ability to have any impact on angers, hatreds, and issues which are millenia old. (Not saying we shouldn't try, btw.)

SHANEX said...

Has anyone seen these two radicals in the same room at the same time? Could they be .... ?

MICHAEL MOORE: “Let the resounding defeat of Senator Joe Lieberman send a cold shiver down the spine of every Democrat.”

IRANIAN SUPREME NATRIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SECRETARY ALI LARIJANI: ”Our response to sanctions will be painful to the west and will make it shiver with cold.

Anonymous said...

I think we should just start referring to Shiites as Shits, just to be clear about our feelings.

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