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


Universities Are in Thrall to a Constituency That Sees Israel as an Affront to Its Identity

Commenting on the hearings of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce on Tuesday about anti-Semitism on college campuses, and the dismaying testimony of three university presidents, Jonah Goldberg writes:

If some retrograde poltroon called for lynching black people or, heck, if they simply used the wrong adjective to describe black people, the all-seeing panopticon would spot it and deploy whatever resources were required to deal with the problem. If the spark of intolerance flickered even for a moment and offended the transgendered, the Muslim, the neurodivergent, or whomever, the fire-suppression systems would rain down the retardant foams of justice and enlightenment. But calls for liquidating the Jews? Those reside outside the sensory spectrum of the system.

It’s ironic that the term colorblind is “problematic” for these institutions such that the monitoring systems will spot any hint of it, in or out of the classroom (or admissions!). But actual intolerance for Jews is lathered with a kind of stealth paint that renders the same systems Jew-blind.

I can understand the predicament. The receptors on the Islamophobia sensors have been set to 11 for so long, a constituency has built up around it. This constituency—which is multi-ethnic, non-denominational, and well entrenched among students, administrators, and faculty alike—sees Israel and the non-Israeli Jews who tolerate its existence as an affront to their worldview and Muslim “identity.” . . . Blaming the Jews for all manner of evils, including the shortcomings of the people who scapegoat Jews, is protected because, at minimum, it’s a “personal truth,” and for some just the plain truth. But taking offense at such things is evidence of a mulish inability to understand the “context.”

Shocking as all that is, Goldberg goes on to argue, the anti-Semitism is merely a “symptom” of the insidious ideology that has taken over much of the universities as well as an important segment of the hard left. And Jews make the easiest targets.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, University