A View From the Eye of the Storm
Talk delivered by a famous Israeli scientist at a meeting of the International Advisory Board of a large multinational corporation, April, 2004.
As you know, I usually provide the scientific and technological "entertainment" in our meetings, but, on this occasion, our Chairman suggested that I present my own personal view on events in the part of the world from which I come. I have never been and I will never be a Government official and I have no privileged information. My perspective is entirely based on what I see, on what I read and on the fact that my family has lived in this region for almost 200 years. You may regard my views as those of the proverbial taxi driver, which you are supposed to question, when you visit a country.
I could have shared with you some fascinating facts and some
personal thoughts about the Israeli-Arab conflict. However, I will touch upon
it only in passing. I prefer to devote most of my remarks to the broader
picture of the region and its place in world events. I refer to the entire area
Why do I put aside
The root of the trouble is that this entire Moslem region is
totally dysfunctional, by any standard of the word, and would have been so even
It is fair to say that this creates an unprecedented
breeding ground for cruel dictators, terror networks, fanaticism, incitement,
suicide murders and general decline. It is also a fact that almost everybody in
the region blames this situation on the
Do I say all of this with the satisfaction of someone discussing the failings of his enemies? On the contrary, I firmly believe that the world would have been a much better place and my own neighborhood would havebeen much more pleasant and peaceful, if things were different.
I should also say a word about the millions of decent, honest, good people who are either devout Moslems or are not very religious but grew up in Moslem families. They are double victims of an outside world, which now develops Islamophobia and of their own environment, which breaks their heart by being totally dysfunctional. The problem is that the vast silent majority of these Moslems are not part of the terror and of the incitement but they also do not stand up against it. They become accomplices, by omission, and this applies to political leaders, intellectuals, business people and many others. Many of them can certainly tell right from wrong, but are afraid to express their views.
The events of the last few years have amplified four issues, which have always existed, but have never been as rampant as in the present upheaval in the region. These are the FOUR main pillars of the current World Confl ict, or perhaps we should already refer to it as "the undeclared World War III". I have no better name for the present situation. A few more years may pass before everybody acknowledges that it is a World War, but we are already well into it.
The FIRST element is the suicide murder. Suicide murders are
not a new invention but they have been made popular, if I may use this
expression, only lately. Even after September 11, it seems that most of the
Western World does not yet understand this weapon. It is a very potent psychological
weapon. Its real direct impact is relatively minor. The total number of
casualties from hundreds of suicide murders within
So what is all the fuss about suicide killings? It creates
headlines. It is spectacular. It is frightening. It is a very cruel death with
bodies dismembered and horrible severe lifelong injuries to many of the
wounded. It is always shown on television in great detail. One such murder,
with the help of hysterical media coverage, can destroy the tourism industry of
a country for quite a while, as it did in
But the real fear comes from the undisputed fact that no
defense and no preventive measures can succeed against a determined suicide
murderer. This has not yet penetrated the thinking of the Western World. The
What is behind the suicide murders? Money, power† and cold-blooded murderous incitement, nothing else. It has nothing to do with true fanatic religious
eliefs. No Moslem preacher has ever blown himself up. No son of an Arab politician or religious leader has ever blown himself. No relative of anyone influential has done it. Wouldn't you expect some of the religious leaders to do it themselves, or to talk their sons into doing it, if this is truly a supreme act of religious fervor? Aren't they interested in the benefits of going to Heaven? Instead, they send outcast women, naive children, retarded people and young incited hotheads. They promise them the delights, mostly sexual, of the next world, and pay their families handsomely after the supreme act is performed and enough innocent people are dead.
Suicide murders also have nothing to do with poverty and
despair. The poorest region in the world, by far, is
The only way to fight this new popular weapon is identical to the only way in which you fight organized crime or pirates on the high seas: the offensive way. Like in the case of organized crime, it is crucial that the forces on the offensive be united and it is crucial to reach the top of the crime pyramid. You cannot eliminate organized crime by arresting the little drug dealer in the street corner. You must go after the head of the "Family".
If part of the public supports it, others tolerate it, many
are afraid of it and some try to explain it away by poverty or by a miserable
childhood, organized crime will thrive and so will terrorism. The
The SECOND ingredient is words, more precisely lies. Words can be lethal. They kill people. It is often said that politicians, diplomats and perhaps also lawyers and business people must sometimes† lie, as part of their professional life. But the norms of politics and diplomacy are childish, in comparison with the level of incitement and total absolute deliberate fabrications, which have reached new heights in the region we are talking about. An incredible number of people in the Arab world believe that September 11 never happened, or was an American provocation or, even better, a Jewish plot.
You all remember the Iraqi Minister of Information, Mr. Mouhamad Said al-Sahaf and his
press conferences when the
It is a daily occurrence that the same people, who finance, arm and dispatch suicide murderers, condemn the act in English in front of western TV cameras, talking to a world audience, which even partly believes them. It is a daily routine to hear the same leader making opposite statements in Arabic to his people and in English to the rest of the world. Incitement by Arab TV, accompanied by horror pictures of mutilated bodies, has become a powerful weapon of those who lie, distort and want to destroy everything.† Little children are raised on deep hatred and on admiration of so-called martyrs, and the Western World does not notice it because its own TV sets are mostly tuned to soap operas and game shows. I recommend to you, even though most of you do not understand Arabic, to watch Al Jaseera, from time to time. You will not believe your own eyes.
But words also work in other ways, more subtle. A
There is a new game in town: The actual murderer is called the military wing, the one who pays him, equips him and sends him is now called the political wing and the head of the operation is called the spiritual leader.† There are numerous other examples of such Orwellian nomenclature, used every day not only by terror chiefs but also by Western media. These words are much more dangerous than many people realize. They provide an emotional
infrastructure for atrocities. It was Joseph Goebels who said that if you
repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it. He is now being
outperformed by his successors.
The THIRD aspect is money. Huge amounts of money, which could have solved many social problems in this dysfunctional part of the world, are channeled into three concentric spheres supporting death and murder. In the inner circle are the terrorists themselves. The money funds their travel, explosives, hideouts and permanent search for soft vulnerable targets. They are surrounded by a second wider circle of direct supporters, planners, commanders, preachers, all of whom make a living, usually a very comfortable living, by serving as terror infrastructure. Finally, we find the third circle of so-called religious, educational and welfare organizations, which actually do some good, feed the hungry and provide some schooling, but brainwash a new generation with hatred, lies and ignorance. This circle operates mostly through mosques, madrasas and other religious establishments but also through inciting electronic and printed media. It is this circle that makes sure that women remain inferior, that democracy is unthinkable and that exposure to the outside world is minimal. It is also that circle that leads the way in blaming everybody outside the Moslem world, for the miseries of the region. Figuratively speaking, this outer circle is the guardian, which makes sure that the people look and listen inwards to the inner circle of terror and incitement, rather than to the world outside.† Some parts of this same outer circle actually operate as a result of fear from, or blackmail by, the inner circles. The horrifying added factor is the high birth rate. Half of the population of the Arab world is under the age of 20, the most receptive age to incitement, guaranteeing two more generations of blind hatred.
Of the three circles described above, the inner circles are primarily
financed by terrorist states like
Some of the leaders of these various circles live very comfortably on
their loot. You meet their children
in the best private schools in
not in the training camps of suicide murderers. The Jihad "soldiers" join
packaged death tours to
receives tens of thousands Dollars per month from the allegedly bankrupt
Palestinian Authority while a typical local† ringleader of the Al-Aksa
brigade, reporting to Arafat, receives only a cash payment of a couple of
hundred dollars, for performing murders at the retail level.
The FOURTH element of the current world conflict is the total breaking of all laws. The civilized world believes in democracy, the rule of law, including international law, human rights, free speech and free press, among other liberties. There are naive old-fashioned habits such as respecting religious sites and symbols, not using ambulances and hospitals for acts of war, avoiding the mutilation of dead bodies and not using children as human shields or human bombs. Never in history, not even in the Nazi period, was there such total disregard of all of the above as we observe now. Every student of political science debates how you prevent an antidemocratic force from winning a democratic election and abolishing democracy. Other aspects of a civilized society must† also have limitations. Can a policeman open fire on someone trying to kill him? Can a government listen to phone conversations of terrorists and drug dealers? Does free speech protects you when you shout fire in a crowded theater? Should there be death penalty for deliberate multiple murders? These are the old-fashioned dilemmas. But now we have an entire new set.
Do you raid a mosque, which serves as a terrorist ammunition
storage? Do you return fire, if you are attacked from a hospital? Do you storm
a church taken over by terrorists who took the priests hostages? Do you search
every ambulance after a few suicide murderers use ambulances to reach their targets?
†Do you strip every woman because one
pretended to be pregnant and carried a suicide bomb on her belly? Do you shoot
back at someone trying to kill you, standing deliberately behind a group of
children? Do you raid.terrorist headquarters, hidden
in a mental hospital? Do you shoot an arch-murderer who deliberately moves from
one location to another, always surrounded by children? All of these happen
Suppose, for the sake of discussion, that someone would
openly stay in a well-known address in Teheran, hosted by the Iranian
Government and financed by it, executing one atrocity after another in Spain or
in France, killing hundreds of innocent people, accepting responsibility for
the crimes, promising in public TV interviews to do more of the same, while the
Government of Iran issues public condemnations of his acts but continues to host
him, invite him to official functions and treat him as a great dignitary. I
leave it to you as homework to figure out what
The problem is that the civilized world is still having illusions about the rule of law in a totally lawless environment. It is trying to play ice hockey by sending a ballerina ice-skater into the rink or to knock out a heavyweight boxer by a chess player. In the same way that no country has a law against cannibals eating its prime minister, because such an act is unthinkable, international law does not address killers shooting from hospitals, mosques and ambulances, while being protected by their Government or society. International law does not know how to handle someone who sends children to throw stones, stands behind them and shoots with immunity and cannot be arrested because he is sheltered by a Government. International law does not know how to deal with a leader of murderers who is royally and comfortably hosted by a country, which pretends to condemn his acts or just claims to be too weak to arrest him.
The amazing thing is that all of these crooks demand protection under international law and define all those who attack them as war criminals, with some Western media repeating the allegations. The good news is that all of this is temporary, because the evolution of international law has always adapted itself to reality. The punishment for suicide murder should be death or arrest before the murder, not during and not after. After every world war, the rules of international law have changed and the same will happen after the present one. But during the twilight zone, a lot of harm can be done.
The picture I described here is not pretty. What can we do about it? In the short run, only fight and win. In the long run only educate the next generation and open it to the world. The inner circles can and must be destroyed by force. The outer circle cannot be eliminated by force. Here we need financial starvation of the organizing elite, more power to women, more education, counter propaganda, boycott whenever feasible and access to Western media, Internet and the international scene. Above all, we need a total absolute unity and determination of the civilized world against all three circles of evil.
Allow me, for a moment, to depart from my alleged role as a taxi driver and return to science. When you have a malignant tumor, you may remove the tumor itself surgically. You may also starve it by preventing new blood from reaching it from other parts of the body, thereby preventing new "supplies" from expanding the tumor. If you want to be sure, it is best to do both.
But before you fight and win, by force or otherwise, you
have to realize that you are in a war, and this may take
In my humble opinion, the number one danger to the world
In order to win the war it is also necessary to dry the financial resources of the terror conglomerate. It is pointless to try to understand the subtle differences between the Sunni terror of Al Qaida and Hamas and the Shiite terror of Hizbulla, Sadr and other Iranian inspired enterprises. When it serves their business needs, all of them collaborate beautifully.
It is crucial to stop Saudi and other financial support of the outer circle, which is the fertile breeding ground of terror. It is important to monitor all donations from the Western World to Islamic organizations, to monitor the finances of international relief organizations and to react with forceful economic measures to any small sign of financial aid to any of the three circles of terrorism.† It is also important to act decisively against the campaign of lies and fabrications and to monitor those Western media who collaborate with it out of naivety, financial interests or ignorance.
Above all, never surrender to terror. No one will ever know
whether the recent elections in
Is the solution a democratic Arab world? If by democracy we
mean free elections but also free press, free speech, a functioning judicial
system, civil liberties, equality to women, free international travel, exposure
to international media and ideas, laws against racial incitement and against defamation,
and avoidance of lawless behavior regarding hospitals, places of worship and
children, then yes, democracy is the solution. If democracy is just free
elections, it is likely that the most fanatic regime will be elected, the one
whose incitement and fabrications are the most inflammatory. We have seen it
I have no doubt that the civilized world will prevail. But
the longer it takes us to understand the new landscape of this war, the more
costly and painful the victory will be.