Tolerance and terrorism (Vic Rosenthal)
So there was a bloody terrorist attack – two bloody terrorist attacks – in Brussels on Tuesday. Dozens murdered, more injured seriously. The Islamic State took responsibility, and threatened more attacks.
The overwhelming feeling one gets is a combination of depression and boredom. Oh no, not again. Since 9/11, terrorism has been followed immediately by outrage, sometimes even by military action that may or may not be targeted accurately. After a while things go back to normal. But the enemy is never named. And nothing changes. The jihadists regroup and return.
Is anything different today? Will anything be different for the European leadership, now that the foolishly-named ‘capital of Europe’ has been struck? “Europe is at war” said the headline on Wednesday’s newspaper. But I doubt that they think so.
I’m sure that security will be beefed up. They will arrest IS sympathizers and activists. Maybe they will support air attacks against the IS in Syria. But as an EU statement issued after the attacks indicates, a change in the suicidal worldview that has led to more and more terrorism is not in the offing:
… This latest attack only strengthens our resolve to defend the European values and tolerance from the attacks of the intolerant. We will be united and firm in the fight against hatred, violent extremism and terrorism.
It isn’t “European values and tolerance” that is under attack, and the attacker isn’t “the intolerant.” Europe does not need to declare war on “hatred, violent extremism and terrorism.”
The truth is that whether they know it or not, all of the non-Muslim world is at war, a war being fought by unconventional means, but a war nevertheless. The enemy is a loose confederation of Muslim groups, from militias to nations, that agree on little other than that the entire world should be ruled by Islam, and that jihad is the way to bring this about. It is entirely correct to call it a war of Islamic conquest.
It has nothing to do with intolerance. It has everything to do with jihadist Muslims wanting to rule over non-Muslims and to take their property (incidentally including humans as property). The goal of Muslim domination is spelled out in the Qur’an and other Islamic texts. The jihadists are trying to implement these prescriptions.
There is a seam, an interface between Islam and not-Islam, which runs through the world. It is found in China, the Philippines and much of southeast Asia, India-Pakistan, the Caucasus, much of Africa, of course Israel, and now Europe. Everywhere along this seam there are regular flare-ups of violence. Of course there is also intra-Muslim strife, but – as Iranian support for Hamas shows – there is often cooperation between disparate groups when there is a common non-Muslim enemy.
Israel is very much on the front line of this war. Her location is highly strategic; she is considered a Western outpost in a region that by rights should be Muslim. She has become symbolic of the struggle since the Crusades. Many Muslims live in the territory Israel controls – that Jews control – a situation that is intolerable for them.
This is a tough war for our side to fight, because it takes different forms in different places, and the enemy does not follow the traditional rules or have a centralized command structure. But in general there are two strategic principles that we must apply: one is disproportionate pushback against violent attempts to extend Muslim sovereignty and the other is cutting the heads off snakes. Let me explain.
Disproportionate pushback means preventing successes that whet the appetites of the jihadists for more. Because their objective is domination, it isn’t possible to defuse their violence by appeasement. This something that Israel has (I hope) learned through her experience with the ‘Palestinian’ incarnation of the jihad. This is why I advocate building in the territories as a response to terrorism, as well as collective punishments for collective crimes. We need to teach the lesson that if you hurt us, expect to be hurt worse.
Cutting the heads off snakes (an expression used by a previous king of Saudi Arabia to refer to Iran) is the idea that there are foci of Islamic jihad – individuals, groups and even nations – that initiate, develop, promote, support, arm and fund the multiplicitous hands of jihad, and that they should be extirpated. So targeted assassinations of individuals like bin Laden or Mugniyeh, the elimination of jihadist organizations like Hezbollah, and the destruction of Iran’s nuclear capability and promotion of regime change there, are all indicated.
Some of these techniques have been used by Israel, the US, and even Russia with varying degrees of consistency and success. The US has never defined the enemy and has inconsistently mixed military action together with appeasement. Europe, though, has almost always taken the path of appeasement.
Both Europe and some circles in the US have been prepared to sacrifice Israel to the jihadists, on the remarkably stupid assumption that that they can protect themselves by doing so. A combination of this tendency to appeasement with the antisemitism that has characterized Europe for millennia has resulted in Europe actually cooperating with Israel’s enemies by financing subversive activities in Israel, supporting BDS by requiring labeling of products from across the Green Line, and trying to force Israel to withdraw to non-defensible boundaries.
The EU Foreign Minister, Federica Mogherini, who was visiting Jordan when the Brussels attacks happened, burst into tears at a press conference with her Jordanian counterpart. “It’s also a very sad day for Europe, as Europe and its capital are suffering the same pain that this region has known and knows every single day, be it in Syria, be it elsewhere,” she said. Does she understand that her pain is caused by exactly the same elements that she criticizes Israel for opposing? Those, like Mogherini, who believe that the greatest evil in the world is “intolerance” also believe that Israel is attacked by terrorists because it is not sufficiently tolerant of Palestinian Arabs, some of whom are the terrorists that attack us. She thinks we deserve what we get.
After the Brussels attacks, will the Europeans begin to take strong measures against terrorism, like profiling at airports and railway stations, controlling their borders, or setting up checkpoints near known terrorist neighborhoods?
Probably not. That would make them intolerant like us.