Islamism, Not Despotism, Is the Reason for Terrorism in Egypt

In the wake of Islamic State’s November 24 attack on a mosque in Sinai, which left 305 people dead and countless others wounded, some commentators have blamed the autocratic and often repressive government in Cairo for creating an environment that fosters terror. They will doubtless revive the same arguemtns in response to yesterday’s bombing of an Egyptian military vehicle, also in Sinai. Steven A. Cook believes they have it wrong:

The [reason for the attack] is straightforward: the perpetrators are adherents of a worldview that views violence as the principal means of purifying what they believe to be un-Islamic societies. It was not a coincidence that the attackers went after a mosque associated with Sufism—a mystical variant of traditional Islam that both violent and nonviolent fundamentalists consider apostasy. . . .

Wilayat Sinai, [the branch of Islamic State responsible for the attack], . . . was not radicalized because Sisi overthrew [the previous president], Mohammed Morsi, and engaged in a widespread crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, [of which Morsi was the leader]. Extremists need no such encouragement. . . .

[S]mart analysts have also assailed the Egyptian government for mass arrests, extrajudicial killings, and a scorched-earth policy aimed at pacifying the Sinai, claiming that it did not work in the 1990s when Egypt faced another terrorist threat and that it will not work now. As hard as it may be to acknowledge, these are largely inaccurate statements. The low-level insurgency that had buffeted Egypt beginning in the fall of 1992 came to an end in 1999. The tools then-President Hosni Mubarak used were police dragnets, state-sanctioned murder, military trials for civilians, and propaganda to diminish the draw of extremist ideologies. It is true that you cannot defeat ideas with bullets, bombs, and jail cells (which are often incubators of extremism), but between 1999 and 2011 Egypt did not confront a major terrorist threat.

Read more at Atlantic

More about: Arab democracy, Egypt, ISIS, Politics & Current Affairs, Sinai Peninsula, Terrorism

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