The Failure to Understand the Jihad against Israel Led to the Failure to Understand the Jihad against the West

In October 2000, doctored footage aired on French television purporting to show the twelve-year-old Mohammad al-Dura cowering behind his father as he is shot by Israeli soldiers. While a preponderance of evidence subsequently showed that the video is little more than a hoax, Western media largely ignored that evidence. This incident serves as the touchstone of Richard Landes’s Can “The Whole World” Be Wrong?: Lethal Journalism, Antisemitism, and Global Jihad, which investigates such distortions and their effects. In his review, Jeffrey Herf criticizes the book’s “overwrought” language and polemical digressions, while praising its argument and the research that backs it up:

At its core, this is a compelling critique of the various journalists and public figures—especially in France, Britain, and the United States—who managed to be consistently wrong about the facts and their causes. Their errors were not random, however. Landes argues that they resulted from a combination of political biases and threats issued by Palestinian organizations. The failure of journalists, in particular, to grasp the ideological causes of the attacks on the Jewish state in 2000 helped to prevent a coherent understanding of the Islamist attacks on the United States and Europe that followed.

Since the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran after the revolution of 1979, the publication of the Hamas covenant in 1988, and al-Qaeda’s declaration of jihad against “Jews and Crusaders” in 1998, the governments of the West’s liberal democracies have, with only a few exceptions, been reluctant to speak clearly about the causal connection between Islamist ideology and violence. This reluctance persisted through the second Palestinian intifada, the terrorist atrocities of September 11th, 2001, and those that followed in London, Paris, Madrid, Berlin, and Amsterdam.

The popularization of a new term, “Islamophobia,” became a rhetorical cudgel with which to beat anyone who noticed references to Islamic texts in the Islamist literature celebrating terrorism. . . . At least some historians in years to come will note that this refusal to speak frankly about the nature and impact of Islamist ideology was one of the most peculiar yet defining aspects of intellectual and political life in the democracies forced to cope with Islamist terrorism.

The result, Landes argues, was a deficiency of empathy for Israelis as they endured the terrorist campaigns in the first years of the new century. In Terror and Liberalism, Paul Berman observed that the more the Palestinian Arabs engaged in terror attacks on Israeli civilians, the more parts of the Western left concluded that only Israeli oppression could account for such desperate violence.

Read more at Quillette

More about: Anti-Semitism, Jihadism, Media, Second Intifada, War on Terror

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy