Richard Landes, Symposium Beitrag Abstract

Prof. Richard Landes


Thank you very much for this occasion to address you, and congratulations on gathering this august assembly of information professionals committed to peace in the Middle East. SPME was first founded in the early aughts (‘00s) of the new in response to the tsunami of hatred against Israel that inundated the West, in part thanks to a MSNM that delivered as news Palestinian lethal narratives about Israel – Al Durah, Jenin Massacre, usw. Recognizing how this wave of hatred aroused the dogs of war and destroying any chances of Peace in the region, SPME members sought to fight back. It has proven to be a daunting task.

What I am about to say represents my own opinion, not the consensus of SPME, which has many a member who would disagree vigorously. And before I go any further, let me clear up one important issue. I will speak primarily about triumphalist Muslims, that is Muslims who believe that their religion must visibly dominate all others… supremacists. This doesn’t mean all, or even most Muslims are triumphalist. I believe there are Muslims who will happily give up their claim to dominate in exchange for the freedom to practice their religion in dignity and peace… one of the great gifts of secular democracy. In fact, they are the first targets of the triumphalists.

When we first began, SPME was concerned with peace in the Middle East, between Israel and her neighbors. But over the last fifteen years, it’s become clear that we are fighting against more than just Israel’s enemies. For the Palestinian – Jihadi – war propaganda against Israel that journalists so eagerly purveyed as news (lethal journalism, tödlicher Journalismus), in fact, had a much wider target audience, energizing global Jihad against the West and driving a wedge between Western liberals and Israel. We are, whether we realize it or not, fighting for global peace, against Jihadi enemies who wish to create a global Caliphate.

Thoroughly misinformed by war propaganda as news, Western progressives sided with what they thought was a national liberation movement against a cruel colonial occupation , when actually they sided with Jihadis against a fellow Western democracy – a fellow infidel state! Thus, in 2002, believing in MSNM fake news about an Israeli massacre in Jenin, Western infidels demonstrated in the streets of European capitals, wearing suicide belts to show their solidarity with Palestinian “freedom fighters,” not realizing that they thus cheered on the new and terrifying jihadi weapon that would, soon enough, target them – suicide terror attacks on civilians. Thus, did global Jihad use the readiness of Europeans to believe blood libels about Jews murdering gentiles – in this case sovereign Jews massacring Muslims – as a means to invade Europe. The “Jenin Massacre” qualifies as an egregious case of own-goal war journalism – eigentor Kreigsjournalismus – reporting your enemy’s war propaganda as real news.

European thought leaders need to realize that the Jihadis who target Israel are “fighting in the same trench” (to use the Arabic expression) with those targeting the West. This realization, despite the ample evidence in its favor, is no easy task after 17 years of radical disorientation.

  1. Recognizing the global Muslim movement of Caliphaters, who struggle (jihad) to expand the borders of Dar al Islam into all of Dar al Harb, i.e., to subject infidel nations everywhere. And they do so not in real war (terror attacks), but in an information war designed to get Western infidels not to resist, even to assist, their invasion.
  2. Recognizing that these Caliphaters consider Israel (really all Jews) as the incarnation of evil to be destroyed, and that when the global progressive left assaults Israel as “new Nazis,” they attack an ally and side with the enemy of all their most progressive values. 3) Realizing the key role our Eigentor Kriegsjournalismus plays in the Caliphaters’ cognitive war strategy, and training journalists both to filter out enemy war propaganda from real news, and to report as news, the genocidal content of enemy war propaganda in Arabic. 4) Renouncing moral Schadenfreude about Israel “losing the high moral ground” (Terje Roed Larsen at Jenin), or “doing to the Palestinians just what was done to them” (the Nazi replacement narrative). This will dry up the audience of those so eagerly consuming stories of sovereign Jews behaving badly.

As a contribution to that Herculean tasks, let me quickly outline one of the key issues involved in the cognitive war against the West: the effort to equate anti-semitism and islamophobia.

This is a widespread meme. As one academic confidently told me in the mid-aughts: “Islamophobia today is exactly the same as early 20th century anti-Semitism.” On one level, there is a superficial similarity. Anti-Semites and Islamophobes both propound conspiracy theories: that the target of their hostility (Jews or Muslims) is planning to conquer the world and enslave mankind. Rejecting such conspiracies as immensely dangerous – just look at what Germany under Hitler did – is a key trope of the Western liberal. Jews in particular quickly point out that since “we didn’t like it when others accused us of such terrible things,” we refuse to make such accusations of others.

But what if one accusation is false and the other true? Empirically, the picture is dramatic: In the early 20th century, some Europeans, including Hitler, feverishly invented diabolic Jewish conspiracies to rule the world despite a near complete absence of evidence (with the exception of the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion), early 21st century Europeans, doggedly deny the abundance of evidence of a conspiracy.

On the other hand, “The Project,” composed in 1982 by the Muslim Brotherhood exiles in Europe, unlike the Protocols, is a genuine plan to conquer and convert the West to Islam, which includes as a key-strategy, “To adopt the Palestinian cause as part of a worldwide Islamic plan… since it acts as the keystone of the renaissance of the Arab world today… To nourish a sentiment of rancor with respect to the Jews and refuse all coexistence.” And yet few have heard of it (the MSNM never mention it) and, not unconnectedly, the plan is ahead of schedule. (At the time they laid out the plan, the authors clearly did not expect such lavish help from Western media.)

If one cannot draw a line in the empirical sand and say no to any attempts to use 20th century anti-semitism to whitewash 21st century jihad, then one is lost, and the Caliphaters get their way: in the end, Europeans will have gotten both sides of this oxymoronic equation of anti-Semitism with islamophobia wrong: they’ll have attacked the Jews who had no such conspiracy; and embraced the triumphalist Muslims who do have such a conspiracy. Hard to get more foolish.

So, when Germans say, “we must take in Muslim refugees to atone for the evil we did to the Jews,” when they say “we are more afraid of our own fascism than Islamofascism,” I think that’s a potentially fatal mistake. As a Jew, I’d say I would rather trust post-genocidal, democratic Germans that pre-genocidal, triumphalist Muslims. And as a Western liberal I’d say, I think it’s much more important for democratic Germans – and all peace-loving democrats the world over – to decently but firmly confront today’s real Muslim triumphalism now, as a way to atone for having savagely confronted the hallucinated Jewish menace of yesterday. For everyone’s sakes, yours, Jews, infidels and decent Muslims the world over.

And the first task, the one being tackled in this conference, is the twin, intertwined imperatives of confronting triumphalist Muslim Jew-hatred and renouncing our own participation – knowing and unwitting – in that hatred.