...The more surprising thing is that even Tzipi Livni has fallen prey to the same hallucination that Kerry suffered: “ISIS issue – she said – cannot be resolved without addressing the Palestinian problem”. What is the relevant problem for ISIS about this matter? The one about the disappearance of Israel and of all the Jews, I suppose. But not immediately: it is obvious that other ongoing battles are currently more relevant, there are heads to be severed, the Islamic State’s borders to be broadened, and there is the victory in Syria and Iraq.
Times of Israel..
09 December '14..
First, John Kerry fantasized about the possible connection between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and ISIS’ terror, and then he said he regretted it. And the fantasies of a US Undersecretary of State carry a considerable weight. In this case, Kerry made a very nice present to the terrorists, committing a foolish act with no logic and no reason.
He did not notice that ISIS’ terrorism goes from Syria to Iraq, from Afghanistan to Yemen, from Nigeria to Libya, that its program is the subjugation of the world under an Islamic caliphate, in which Israel is just a little part of the Islamic Ummah to be annexed to the caliphate.
Any normal mind would understand that this has nothing to do with the political problem of Israel and Palestine. If someone asks Abu Bakhr al Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS’ beheaders, if he likes the “two states for two peoples” formula he would burst out laughing.
The more surprising thing is that even Tzipi Livni has fallen prey to the same hallucination that Kerry suffered: “ISIS issue – she said – cannot be resolved without addressing the Palestinian problem”. What is the relevant problem for ISIS about this matter? The one about the disappearance of Israel and of all the Jews, I suppose. But not immediately: it is obvious that other ongoing battles are currently more relevant, there are heads to be severed, the Islamic State’s borders to be broadened, and there is the victory in Syria and Iraq.
As a matter of fact, the trouble in untying both these knots, and not only them, is unfortunately connected to the phoenix of terrorism, and there is no another connection on the ground. It is a matter of resolving two examples of terrorism: one linked to a more religious theme, the other to a religious-territorial one.
Besides that, just thinking that the conquest of the caliphate worldwide is influenced by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, namely that if the latter found a solution then the black flags would stop fluttering, is somewhat pathetic.
However, we must admit that this trivial thesis provides an important intellectual stimulus: it is time to identify what terrorism is, to give it an international definition, to learn how to fight it. The West does not know, it cannot actually see terrorism. The Western mind gets lost when we see acts of terror, even though that terror has been infesting our territory, Europe, for centuries. It has not always had the same face, rather it has considerably changed starting from the Seventies.
Previously, in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century, terrorism had a more focused, personalistic, even romantic character, although surely not for the poor victims. The Italian Red Brigades targeted people who were of course innocent, but also – because of their role, their profession, their socio-intellectual position – clearly tantamount to a system that the terrorists loathed. Judges, generals, bankers, cops, trade unionists, politicians, everyone was marked by their mad obsession, the destruction of capitalism.
In the past, also the Russian revolutionaries and the Irish patriots had targeted the people that they hated, and did not tend to indiscriminately terrorize bus passengers, journalists, customers. In their time, the Russians and the Irish could complain about the misery of their condition of oppressed people, the poverty of the masses that youths were saying they wanted to free through their acts of terrorism. They were not right-winged nor left-winged: the Russian terrorists were not followed by the Lenin-style revolutionaries, the left wing had more sympathy, as also recently, for the Irish, although a debate about the means they used remained open. Marx and Engels condemned the use of terror. Nevertheless, the young idealistic terrorists admired their courage, their purposes were clear. This has influenced the confusion about terrorism, even the Islamist and contemporary one.
The terrorists became “Comrades who are mistaken”. After World War Two, terrorism assumed several and different extremist traits: in 1922, Walter Rathenau’s killers were the forerunners of the Nazi movement, but at a much later stage we saw a lot of them from a communist background, like the Red Brigades and the Baader-Meinhof gang.
During the last century, it became hard to understand if terrorism was left or right-winged, and the ethnic and religious terrorism soon overcame the communist, fascist or nationalist one, and broke all the molds. Indeed, nobody was able anymore to establish if at the root there was, as the terrorists were claiming, an intolerable human and social condition, if they were trying to lash out at a tyrant or just an enemy (there were very few attempts to kill Hitler and Mussolini, and none to kill Stalin).
There were not the totalitarian regimes to be attacked, but their successors, as Walter Laqueur, the best analyst of terror, says about Spain, the Basque Country, Greece, Germany, and Italy. Here, terrorism came after the fall of regimes, and not against them. Terrorism has often tried to present itself as a reaction to human wickedness, but this is never the truth: not even poverty is evidently connected to terror, many contemporary Muslim terrorists grew up in a milieu that allowed them to emancipate and study, both in their places of birth (think about Bin Laden, who came from a rich Saudi family) and in their lands of emigration (as the rich and cultured Ahmed Sheikh, who was born in London). Generally, our Italian and German terrorists come from the middle class.
Hereinafter, the picture becomes completely clear when it comes to the contemporary Islamist terrorism as a whole. There is way more than a social compulsion: the Islamist terrorist sees himself as the hero of our times, fighting for a new society.
He is driven by evident religious and psychological impulses, the search for adventure, the appeal of the life as it was at the victorious times of Muhammad, the mysticism of the disguise as in some swashbuckling movie, the machine guns, the scimitars, the pickup trucks, the horses, the black flags fluttering in the wind, the terror painted on the face of their next victim.The same goes for the Palestinian terrorists, the green headband, the mass gatherings, the illusion that the enemy, terrorized by such a steadfastness, will flee like a rabbit in the face of the virile power of Hamas’ mass terrorist revolution, or of the glorification of the demonstrations in Europe where, against any logic, people go around exalting Gaza and shouting “death to Jews”.
In the terrorist choice there is a powerful irrational element that is nourished: let us not delude ourselves by religious beliefs and also by very modern ideas, “green” ideas about a life “as nature intended”.
The new savage who hates mass consumption and the corrupted Western morality likes the innate ferocity of primeval Islam, the one of Muhammad’s armies on horseback conquering the world in the Seventh Century, the one of the direct and ruthless application of the Sharia, the Quranic law: severed heads, no mercy for traitors and infidels who put themselves, and this is their fault, between the Muslims and their plan to purify the world with the caliphate, and the consequential cut-off hands, and the kidnapped, sold and raped women. On ISIS’ magazine there is even a theological explanation of this sexual slavery they use to inflict on those poor creatures: keeping them subjugated and miserable, they avoid, through the legal use of women (because, in their view, it is permitted to own a sexual slave), to cheat on their wife or views with lovers, which are forbidden by the Sharia.
The terrorism of nowadays is territorially very large, indiscriminate in its objectives, and its enrolment process is particularly vast and satisfying from Paris to London. The resources of modern terrorism are enormous, they are obtained through kidnappings and oil, but especially Qatar is one of the states providing it with endless funds. It has harbored Hamas for years, and a great number of analysts consider it, together with Turkey, as a de facto sympathetic country toward ISIS, even if, like Turkey, it is part of the coalition that is supposed to defeat it. An organization, ISIS, that, as Qatar likes, is enough Sunni and destabilizing to create spaces for that small state, which has oil and Al Jazeera (based in Doha) on its side.
A clear definition of terrorism has never been found, because “your terrorist could be my freedom fighter”, because the international organizations are de facto ruled by Islamic and Third-Worldist majorities, because the issue about the targets is extremely controversial. If a bomb blows up two hundred American soldiers in their barracks in Lebanon (Hezbollah), is it to be considered a terrorist attack even if soldiers, and not civilians, were targeted? It is really difficult to establish that it is a legitimate attack.
Moreover, to Hamas, every Israeli newborn is a soldier of tomorrow, and for this reason he is a legitimate target: Hamas’ Charter itself establishes that all Jews must be killed, de facto revealing that he is a legitimate target just because he is a Jew. The fact is that the enormous indefinable war, of which we actually are the target, is unidentifiable at our confused and frightened eyes. Still, we try to avoid dealing with a topic like “Islam” for fear that this might place us on a racist islamophobic front.
When, after the umpteenth beheading, Obama states that Islam is clearly not the problem, he simply puts the world on a wrong track and, therefore, does not find the right strategies. In this war against terror, we are flooded with lies: we want to think that Turkey is an excellent ally, that Iran could give us a hand, while the Ayatollahs are, with Hezbollah’s help, the greatest source of terrorism worldwide. Politics, on the other hand, obligates to steps that are even counterproductive.
When on Friday, October 24, a young Palestinian has been killed by the police in Jerusalem while he was throwing Molotov cocktails, and not candies, at passing cars, the Obama administration issued a statement offering the “deepest condolences to the family”. Associated Press reporter Matt Lee asked the State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki whether offering the US President’s condolences to the family of someone who was shot to death while he was carrying out a violent attack against civilians was appropriate. “Does the fact that he was throwing Molotov cocktails makes him a terrorist, as the Israeli administration says?”, asked Lee, “don’t you agree with that?”. “No, we don’t”, Psaki mysteriously replied. The journalist then followed up, insisting on the fact that the teenager was buried wearing the Hamas green headband, but Psaki said she had nothing more to add. This is an irresponsible stance, which in the end denies any kind of international protection against terrorism when, on the contrary, it is absolutely necessary worldwide.
The political consequences of this failure to recognize the existence of terror, and the vagueness in its definition must be faced once and for all. Let us take the last episode in Jerusalem: a young man charged a group of citizens getting off the tram with his car, ran them over riding through the platform, killed a baby girl and wounded three other people. One of them died later, a cute young girl whose only fault was to have stepped off the train.
A video footage showing the car as it charges the passengers leaves no room for doubt about the determination to kill: not only the terrorist comes at full speed, he speeds up toward the people on the platform. The young terrorist who carried out the attack was killed. East Jerusalem was flooded with placards picturing the face of the “Shahid”, the martyr claimed by Hamas and the Jihad as a heroic Jihadist in the war against the Jews. In the meanwhile, his family raised Hamas’ flag on his house, claiming instead that it was a car accident in order to accuse Israel of murder; and this while a rally was being organized to glorify that heroic act of terrorism. This is the usual Palestinian double standard: terrorist on one side, and dedicated in every part to the criminalization of Israel, and on the other part humored when it plays the card of its alleged openness to negotiation, any attempt to which it actually and regularly rejects.
Again, the result is devastating: how could Israel trust it and surrender territories in Jerusalem or near the airport or anywhere it is possible to foresee a crucial security problem? Surely, this is a very simple and direct question, which just as much directly tells us a great deal about terrorism and about what it actually is: a lethal weapon that cannot be neutralized with political means.
The error here is to think that the problem is about poverty, disadvantage or oppression. Nothing like that. The connection between ISIS and the Palestinian terrorism is right here. And certainly it is not the connection between the solution of one problem or the other: in both of them there is an imperialist, racist and totalitarian element, a refusal to share, because the truth lays on one side only, by divine right.
This article originally appeared in slightly different form in Italian in Shalom
Fiamma Nirenstein is a journalist, author, former Deputy President of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, and member of the Italian delegation at the Council of Europe.