Sunday, July 30, 2006

Semi-random thoughts: the Israeli withdrawals from Gaza and Lebanon were unilateral - neither Palestinian or Lebanese governing bodies had any say in the decision at all. Critics contend that the pull-out sends the message that "terrorism works". They may have a point - so long as they're only talking about unilateral withdrawal.

Had the Israeli government made at least an attempt to allow the PA or the Lebanese government to have some input into the decision, then the impression from the withdrawal might be more that "negotiation works" rather than "terrorism works". But the Israeli government refuses to negotiate, apparently because that would give the impression that "terrorism works"....

AM report in which a Hamas representative describes the pull-out as a step that promises not peace, but war.

Also, an Al-Jazeera interview with Hasan Nasrallah in which he says this:"I can tell you that they[the world community] do not want to destroy the resistance of Hezbollah in Lebanon. They want to destroy any spirit of resistance in Lebanon, whether inside Hezbollah or any other party. They want to push the country to the point where words such as resistance would become unacceptable, and where words such as martyr, jihad, wounded, steadfastness, confrontation, liberation, freedom, glory, dignity, pride, and honour are unacceptable. All these words should be erased form the Lebanese people's dictionary, from the press, from the political literature, from the political mind, from the people's mind. This is what Israel is doing, and this is what the United States, which wants to re-arrange the entire region anew, needs."

The concept of the thymotic "desire for recognition" I've gleaned provides an interesting framework for trying to understand the mindset driving radical Islam. It appears to me that its adherents sincerely believe that every aspect of their personal dignity - their steadfastness, freedom, glory, pride, etc. - is under threat from the West in general and the United States in particular. Part of this is a reaction to the changes that modernisation has brought to Islamic civilisation, giving a name and a purpose to what otherwise seems to be uncontrollable, impersonal forces that are threatening to make a centuries-old way of life irrelevant to modern living in order to give them someone to blame for it. Part of it is also, I suspect, that it is true in some cases: there are plenty of people in the West who have as their stated goal the complete destruction of the Islamic way of life, on the grounds that its "satanic", or "a death cult" or "evil". Here's one such example: Islam The Lies and Deceptions
They start accumulating in countries and then start terrorizing it with gangs of rapists, violence and civil disruption.

They are possessed, demon possessed. They seek to spread fear and violence, they are pawns of the devil who feeds off of the fear and suffering they create for power.

Just as their leader, Mohammad, they use "God" as an excuse to prey on innocent people. Mohammad was a robber and a thief, his followers are no different.

It is not the Most High God they serve, but Satan.

Signs you've been exploring the darker sides of the Internet for too long #1: you can read something like that and you've become so inured to hate speech that you don't even flinch.

The appeal of radicalism to adherents of Islam, and the population of the Middle East in general, can be blunted by granting dignity and recognition to them that they are not currently getting. Critics may assert that what radical Islamists want in terms of recognition is to be recognised not just as worthy human beings themselves, but superior in worth to all others on the grounds that they alone follow the One True Religion. This may be true for the more fundamentalist muslims, but not all Muslims are Fundamentalists.

If Bin Laden, Hezbollah, Hamas and the like can successfully convince these moderates that their dignity is under attack, then they may be swayed to support a jihadist movement that they would not otherwise support, or at least, they would be less likely to oppose it.

I think this is why the first anti-Zaqarwi protests by British Muslims only occurred after the bombing of a mosque in Iraq. Showing contempt for Westerners is one thing, but Zarqawi showed conempt for something which Muslims hold as a vital part of their worth as human beings: Islam.

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