Intellectual Honesty in Recognizing Terrorism



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Ideological Warfare

by Saul Goldman

Some time ago Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon published an op-ed piece in the New York Times about homeland security. What was disturbing about their assessment is that American conceptions are all defensive in nature. It is defensive, I believe, because the paradigm through which we operate is an incorrect one. Terrorism is still being viewed as a legal problem.

Somewhere along the evolving logic of developing an anti-terror strategy, lurks the confrontation with the reality of terrorism as a social cancer. When women may be hiding explosive devices within their bodies we must realize that we are no longer dealing with outlaws, but with an army of immense faith in the righteousness of their cause. Most outlaws comprehend that they are on the wrong side of the law and when arrested may even show remorse. But, Hezbolleh, Hamas, PLO, Islamic Jihad and Al Queda believe firmly in the righteousness of their cause. It is this belief that intensifies their danger. They serve Allah and will be rewarded in Paradise.

We refuse to acknowledge what we already know about suicide bombers. They tend to be Muslims between the age s of 18-45 and they have prayed in Mosques, heard the sermons of imams and watch their children play at Hamas kindergartens and summer camps. Further, when we have confronted terrorists, we continue to hold on to the belief that terrorists are merely criminals. They are not. They, like the SS guards at Auschwitz, are loving sons and fathers, they are often honest individuals who would never be accused of a crime. But they do believe in an evil ideology.

Many apologists and propagandists argue, in defense of Islam, that it was once, perhaps, a socially acceptable religion. But, that was some centuries ago. These apologists employ all the buzzwords that would evoke the sympathy of the ACLU. They accuse us of being Islamophobes. So for the sake of historical accuracy, I agree that classical Islam had some socially valuable ideas most of which, according to the eminent historian Will Durant, came from Judaism.

Of course, we can agree in principle that there is a segment of Islam that condemns these Jihadists. But, their problem and ours is that in our moral tradition silence attests to complicity (Leviticus 19:16). Muslims must rid themselves of the terrorists within. Do we see that happening?

I downloaded an article entitled "Why Jews and Muslims Can't Live Together" from the website of a Mosque in Boca Raton, Florida! Do we see Muslim clerics being cut loose when they preach Jihad and murder? Or is the principle of freedom of speech employed to defend those who preach genocide? Actually, nothing is being done because the Muslim world is ambivalent. Even as terrorists attack Arab targets, there is a lackadaisical ambivalence.

The "enemy of my enemy is my friend" goes an old Arab expression. Therefore, even if these bombs go off in my neighborhood, the real target is not me; it is Israel, America, Christians and Jews. Arabs seem to accept these incidents with a sad equanimity; they are "friendly fire" tragedies. So Arabs in Gaza or Ramalleh can be cheated and abused by Arafat, yet they remain focused upon their real enemy which is Israel. It is as if, these terror incidents are no more than matters of internecine rivalries; no different in substance than Republican and Democrat or Labor and Likud debates. So we look in amazement at the Saudis and Iraqis while they accept these bombings with little more than a shrug.

One would think that they would have said "enough". But, violence is quite normal in the Islamic world where a father can slaughter his daughter for some impropriety. Comprehending this is basic to our realization that we are not dealing with thugs. We are dealing with the devout.

We are not pursuing criminals, but defending against enemies that would destroy our families all in the name of a perverse morality. Just look at their vocabulary. For example, Naqba refers to what they call the humiliation of 1948. Exactly what happened in 1948? The Arab world declared their intention to drive the Jews into the sea. But, the Jews survived and our survival constitutes their shame.

The Arabs define the Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria as their causus belli. But Israel occupies territory as a consequence of a war launched against Israel by Jordan, Syria and Egypt in June, 1967. Where were the suicide bombers when Jordanians sat in Ramallah and Egyptians occupied Gaza? Ask those Arabs who survived King Hussein's black September slaughter of their own kin what it was like. Arabs describe IDF checkpoints as instances of humiliation. Imagine what would have happened if Arab troops patrolled the streets of Jerusalem and Haifa.

It is not the unpleasant facts of IDF patrols that shame the Arabs. It is their own failure to resist the oppression of their own leaders. Ironically, the Arabs, living among the Jews, enjoy freedom, sit in the parliament, and occupy academic positions and judicial appointments. And they have every right to demonstrate on behalf of their cousins across the green line.

What is it that enables Israeli Arabs to live in freedom while Arabs living in the Muslim world endure oppression? Why do we not see the obvious? Even now statesmen and politicians speak of the "hijacking" of Islam because they are still not ready to say what they already believe. Islam serves as the ideological basis of repressive society. Freedom and individual liberty are not intrinsic to Islamic thought. Hence, no Islamic state is democratic or free. This is not an unfortunate accident of history; it is the difference between the Judeo-Christian philosophy of history and the Islamic view.

Jews see history as the evolution of freedom or as the German philosopher Hegel, phrased it the "self-realization" of freedom. Islam is the one major force in the world today that has successfully defeated the spirit of freedom. Wherever Islam reigns people live in tyranny.

The world, Charles Beard once wrote, is ruled by ideas. Moreover, such ideas, even if not in accord with historical facts, may become true in practice. One such idea is Jefferson's famous dictum that "all men are created equal". This idea had become a powerful influence in world affairs, despite the fact that there are wide ranging discrepancies in the physical, mental and social positions of people. Ideas contain energy because they constitute the conscious form of our feelings and impulses. Consequently, every idea is a force tending to realize its individual end.

Political correctness has become the central value of our culture. It proclaims the negative value of false equality. There is no longer right and wrong, good and bad. Suicide bombers are militants and murderers are freedom fighters. A segment of the Arab world that lost its chance to live freely alongside a Jewish state back in 1948, has mutated into a moral cancer metastasizing within the body politic of the civilized world. But, if we are to share the medical metaphor with some Arab writers, it is not the "occupation" that causes terrorism; it is Islamic rhetoric and ideology. It is a worldview that is primarily tyrannical.

For over two centuries we have believed in and defended democracy. But, what if our enemies use our democracy as a weapon against us? At best, I think that Jefferson, Rousseau and Locke envisioned democracy as a way of ensuring liberty. Beyond their interest in this kind of social/political organization, they shared a commitment to a higher order. Democracy is a system through which we govern ourselves; liberty is a transcendent value.

Some of our hesitancy in the fight against terror is because of our moral confusion between civil rights and security. In addition to this issue there is the philosophy and agenda of corporate America that further complicates matters. In a letter to Horatio Spafford, Thomas Jefferson wrote that merchants have no country. "The mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains." Or, as a friend of mine put it: "just follow the money."

Many citizens of our country maintain loyalties beyond our territorial boundaries. These loyalties, like those of people in multi-national corporations or companies owned by overseas interests, are influenced by financial motives. We are no longer a nation; America has become a multi-national entity. That is why our political leaders do not defend the economic interests of their constituents when it comes to illegal aliens. In corporate America there are no illegal aliens; there is only cheap labor.

Corporate America has betrayed national America. Instead of assuring that our national goals and values were fostered throughout the world, we allowed everyone's ideas to permeate American life. The ideological framework within which this took place is political correctness. Political correctness is the worldview which asserts manners above morals; insisting that everyone is the same and all ideas are equal. And this attitude is merely a re-statement of the old adage that the customer is always right. In a commercial culture, the Judeo-Christian tradition is no more valuable than Islam or communism or Nazism for that matter.

John Loftus reminds us that even during World War Two, the Dulles brothers and Rockefellers were shareholders in German companies producing war materials and Standard Oil continued to sell oil to Germany through Arab subsidiaries.

Bush speaks of a war against terror that may continue for decades. Eventually, enough Americans may realize that the mind in control of these terrible acts is the Islamic mind. The British historian R.G. Collingwood once defined history as the life of mind. Essentially, history is not the succession of events.

Events are merely the external manifestations of the activity of mind. We must realize that the war will not be won by soldiers alone. The ongoing war between the Arabs and Jews points to an inevitable Arab victory unless Jews and Christians attack the ideological foundations of terror.

We cannot eliminate the terrorists, as long as the Mosques and Hamas kindergartens operate freely. The war against terror may already have been lost. But, if not, it can only be won when we liberate the minds and hearts of a billion Muslims whose culture and morality celebrate murderers as martyrs. Fighting alongside our infantry and airmen, must be the teachers and spiritual leaders of America and Israel.


from the February 2004 Edition of the Jewish Magazine




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