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Author Topic: a defining moment in the war against al-Qaeda
Mishei
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posted 30 August 2003 12:37 PM      Profile for Mishei     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
This is a stinging indictment against Islamic extremist fundamentalism. Below is but a short sample of the review of this impressive book.


quote:
Another thread in the book, and in Pearl's murder, is the virulent anti-Semitism of al-Qaeda and other modern Islamist factions. Muslim anti-Semitism in its current guise is a relatively new phenomenon. It is, in part, a recrudescence of medieval anti-Judaic polemics, infused with the hate-speech and propaganda clichés of modern Western anti-Semitism that was imported into the Middle East under European colonial rule. It is also in large measure a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict having taken centre stage in the consciousness of the Muslim world, where the duelling protagonists have come to be viewed with a monotonic, racialized religious identity (a.k.a. the "powerless" Muslim versus the "powerful" Jew).

Into this smouldering cauldron of hatred add the final ingredient: Islamic fundamentalism, which views the West as an existential threat that must be forcibly expunged from Islamic lands. Fundamentalism is not simply the intellectually enfeebled idea of returning to a pristine imaginary past, but also the perversion and denial of more tolerant mediating traditions. One toxic result of Saudi Wahhabism (called Salafism by its devotees) has been a rise of Wahhabi-inspired intolerance toward Jews, Christians and Shiite Muslims. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Pakistan, as Lévy discovers. Time and time again, the author finds his conversations with interlocutors punctuated with crude, conspiratorial anti-Semitic remarks and asides.

One memorable instance of the transmutation of Western anti-Semitism into Islamist "theology" appears in an article entitled Inside Jihad U., by Jeffrey Goldberg of The New York Times. Samiul Haq is a mullah who runs the Haqqania madrassa, an ideological training ground for the Taliban. He also heads one of Pakistan's largest Islamist parties and is a senator. Haq informs Goldberg that "it was the Jews that crucified Christ." What the truly ignorant mullah said was Islamically incorrect. In orthodox Islamic theology, Jesus is not killed; instead, a substitute is placed on the cross. The mullah's views appear to be a regurgitation of the anti-Semitic Christ-killer motif, an import from the Christian world that has percolated into the Islamic world thanks to Saudi Wahhabi missionary organizations which disseminate The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and other anti-Semitic tracts. This, needless to say, is a rupture with received tradition. Lévy perceptively notes that the radical Islam he saw in Pakistan was at odds with the more tolerant Islam he witnessed in Bosnia, and that of his devout Muslim friend Ahmed Shah Massoud, the Afghan resistance leader murdered by al-Qaeda.


Whjo killed Daniel Pearl


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skdadl
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Babbler # 478

posted 30 August 2003 01:03 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
The central thesis of this book is that al-Qaeda is intertwined with the Pakistani military intelligence -- or, as Lévy pithily observes: You look for the ISI, you find al-Qaeda; you look for al-Qaeda, you run into the ISI and "the implications are staggering." Lévy asks whether Pearl stumbled across any of this. Did he die because he was the man who knew too much? As but one example, Pearl was investigating al-Qaeda's attempts to obtain nuclear capabilities (one of Pakistan's top nuclear scientists had met with bin Laden). Moreover, commentators have described the ISI as an invisible government within a government featuring a heavy concentration of Islamist sympathizers. If this is all true, then the broader implications are that the United States' partner in the war against terrorism is the very source of terrorism that it is fighting.

This has been generally known for some time among those who followed the rise and reign of the Taliban in Afghanistan. There have, in fact, been some interesting discussions about the ISI on babble, if anyone cares to do the searches.

I had a hard time figuring out quite where this review was coming from. The opening paragraphs sound a little breathless, as though the reviewer is seriously convinced that Levy is on to something new. Note, though, how often the reviewer must acknowledge, later on, that Levy is making the same points that "a host of commentators" have already made about suspect Western machinations in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In political terms, I think that remains the main problem and puzzle. The U.S. admin is once again playing a dangerous game in Pakistan, and will probably make things worse, if past experience is any guide.

In human terms, of course, the murder of Daniel Pearl was an abominable crime. I haven't read Levy's book, but if he succeeds in making that point powerfully, in reminding us all of the whole human world that was connected to Pearl and of the true horror of his murder, then that is an accomplishment, an important one.

The broader political implications and connections are important to follow -- but from this review, I can't be sure how well or how objectively Levy is doing that. If even the reviewer thinks that Levy is parti pris against Pakistan and for India, eg, then that would be a problem.

Levy has, of course, a bit of a history of his own -- I leave it to lagatta to fill us all in there.


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josh
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posted 30 August 2003 01:55 PM      Profile for josh     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
That the Arab-Israeli conflict has taken "center stage" is the breeding ground for this anti-semitism. Some of it would exist regardless, no doubt. But it would not be of such prominence had Israel not been created. Such is the unfortunate result of basing a state on religion.

And it's not just Israel. Pakistan is also a state based on religion that never should have been created. Ghandi opposed its creation till his dying breath. The creation of both Israel and Pakistan is in large part the result of botched British imperalism.

And I'm glad to see the author focused on the danger of Hindu fundamentalism and the pogroms radical Hindus have perpetuated both last year and in 1992.

In short, the situation is a mess. The war in Iraq has, and will continue to, exacerbate this dangerous Muslim fundamentalism, and its Hindu and Jewish counterparts. Only a just settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and a withdraw of western forces and support for corrupt regimes in the region can end this threat.

[ 30 August 2003: Message edited by: josh ]


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Mishei
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posted 30 August 2003 04:16 PM      Profile for Mishei     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
And it's not just Israel. Pakistan is also a state based on religion
And what about these countries also based on religion?

Jordan
Syria
Iran
Great Britain

to name but a few more


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lagatta
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posted 30 August 2003 04:30 PM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Ah, 1948! Not a good year, I guess.

The difference is that Israel and India/Pakistan were the outcome of PARTITIONS based on religion or ethnicity.

Syria is Ba'athist, no? That is a SECULAR dictatorship - of course for nationalist reasons they have drawn on Islamism of late, but it wasn't founded on religion.

Great Britain? Mishei, are you referring to Henry VIII's split with the Catholic Church? If not, I don't understand. The complex history of the formation of Great Britain - ah, those rather predatory Sassenach and their many "cleansings" of the Celtic Fringe - can't really be described as founded on religion.


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skdadl
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posted 30 August 2003 04:50 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Oh, lagatta, I was hoping that you could bear to wind up one more time and tell everyone about Bernard-Henri Levy.

Great Britain, founded on religion -- ROTFL.


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Mishei
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posted 30 August 2003 04:50 PM      Profile for Mishei     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by lagatta:
Ah, 1948! Not a good year, I guess.

The difference is that Israel and India/Pakistan were the outcome of PARTITIONS based on religion or ethnicity.

Syria is Ba'athist, no? That is a SECULAR dictatorship - of course for nationalist reasons they have drawn on Islamism of late, but it wasn't founded on religion.

Great Britain? Mishei, are you referring to Henry VIII's split with the Catholic Church? If not, I don't understand. The complex history of the formation of Great Britain - ah, those rather predatory Sassenach and their many "cleansings" of the Celtic Fringe - can't really be described as founded on religion.



No actually I am referring to the fact that in order to be the head of state of Great Britain and indeed the Commonwealth, you MUST be a member of the Church of England.

quote:
Great Britain, founded on religion -- ROTFL.
Perhaps Skdadl can tell us who the last Muslim, Jewish, Roman Catholic, Hindu, Bhuddist etc King or Queen of England was.

[ 30 August 2003: Message edited by: Mishei ]


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skdadl
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posted 30 August 2003 04:54 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Sigh. One more time. To be king/queen of ENGLAND, one must be a member of the C of E (although this looks likely to change very soon).

Even in the rest of Great Britain, the queen's religious affiliation is irrelevant, since the other churches are not established and have no earthly head anyway. I don't know whether any other Commonwealth countries have established churches, but Canada certainly does not.


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Mishei
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posted 30 August 2003 04:57 PM      Profile for Mishei     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by skdadl:
Sigh. One more time. To be king/queen of ENGLAND, one must be a member of the C of E (although this looks likely to change very soon).

Even in the rest of Great Britain, the queen's religious affiliation is irrelevant, since the other churches are not established and have no earthly head anyway. I don't know whether any other Commonwealth countries have established churches, but Canada certainly does not.


And so despite your ridiculous and insulting "ROTFL" it seems I was correct. Indeed, if in order to be head of state of a country you must belong to a specific religious denomination I would say that said country is based on religion...ROTFL

BTW I do recall that the Queen of England is also the Queen of Canada, Scotland etc...no? And whether or not you or anyone else coonsiders it irrelevant is meaningless. The tiltle and the religious necessity remains. Talk to me when and IF it ever changes.

[ 30 August 2003: Message edited by: Mishei ]


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skdadl
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posted 30 August 2003 05:06 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
The last Roman Catholic monarchs in the UK: This is a murky story that runs through the C17 and C18. James II of England, VII of Scotland, was probably playing games about his religion. Hell, Charles II probably was as well, but was much more politic.

The last two serious contenders to attempt to restore the Catholic Stuart monarchy were Charles Edward, aka Bonnie Prince C., and his dad, James III of one and VIII of the other, aka the Young Pretender. That attempt failed in 1746, probably for the right reasons: ie, BPC was a throwback, but the defeat at Culloden was a bloody tragedy for the Highlanders, the real heroes of the uprising, and signalled the start of serious ethnic cleansing, from which the Highlands have still not recovered -- although things are looking better than they ever have since the '45.

Thanks for asking, Mishei.


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skdadl
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posted 30 August 2003 05:06 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
PS: Almost none of that had anything to do with religion, of course.
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al-Qa'bong
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posted 30 August 2003 07:44 PM      Profile for al-Qa'bong   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
BTW I do recall that the Queen of England is also the Queen of Canada, Scotland etc...no? And whether or not you or anyone else coonsiders it irrelevant is meaningless. The tiltle and the religious necessity remains. Talk to me when and IF it ever changes.

Yup, lots of Hnatyshyns, Sauvés, and Vaniers in Merrie Olde Englande.
This C of E/monarchy complaint was dumb the first time. What's wrong Mish, are you bothered that you can't get elected King?

By the way, what was the purpose of posting this piece?

[ 30 August 2003: Message edited by: al-Qa'bong ]


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josh
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Babbler # 2938

posted 30 August 2003 08:45 PM      Profile for josh     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Mishei:
And what about these countries also based on religion?

Jordan
Syria
Iran
Great Britain

to name but a few more



Iran is another one. The other three I would not consider comparable. "Based on religion" was perhaps not the best description. A "religious state" would perhaps be more apt.


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DrConway
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posted 30 August 2003 09:15 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by al-Qa'bong:
By the way, what was the purpose of posting this piece?

I can't figure it out. I'm debating about whether or not to introduce Mishei to the Captain Obvious award of the week.


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lagatta
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posted 30 August 2003 09:23 PM      Profile for lagatta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
No Jewish British monarchs, to my knowledge, but Disraeli certainly had Vicky's ear. (Yes, I know that his father, like Heine's and Marx's, were "converts of convenience", but Disraeli was certainly thought of as Jewish and certainly made no attempt to conceal or play down his origins.

It isn't Iran, one of the oldest countries in the world, that was founded on religion, but the current "Islamic Republic".

skdadl, I've been visiting family in Ottawa (my turn!) so no time to go into the sordid story of Bernard-Henri Lévy - oh, just a typical former leftist turncoat. However some folks I know who have known him for decades and usually have no use for him say his book on Daniel Pearl is one of the best things he has written.

I hope babblers have read things BY Daniel Pearl - some of his writing, especially on music and culture, is extraordinary. Believe the website his family and friends started up is www.danielpearl.org ...


From: Se non ora, quando? | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
al-Qa'bong
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posted 30 August 2003 10:04 PM      Profile for al-Qa'bong   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by DrConway:

I can't figure it out. I'm debating about whether or not to introduce Mishei to the Captain Obvious award of the week.


I do hope it wasn't written or posted merely to inflame passions.


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Courage
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posted 30 August 2003 10:21 PM      Profile for Courage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Mishei:
Perhaps Skdadl can tell us who the last Muslim, Jewish, Roman Catholic, Hindu, Bhuddist etc King or Queen of England was.

[ 30 August 2003: Message edited by: Mishei ]


F*ing pedantic shite. This 'detail' matters only to your own ego, and perhaps during rousing games of Trivial Pursuit...

And to be absolutely, utterly, entirely more pedantic, I will correct you. The reigning Monarch of Great Britain and of the Commonwealth is not just 'a member' of the Anglican (English Catholic) Church - they are, in fact, it's titular head. This is what is meant by: "by God's Ordinance, and Supreme Governor of the Church of England."


The real question is: regardless of constitutional provisions, to what degree is religion an active political catagory in the state? To what degree does it effect the general apportioning of goods and operate as a salient political and social marker with effects on the daily, mundane facts of existence?

To compare Britain and, say, Iran or Israel, is a f*ing diversion of the highest order.

More amateur conjuring.

Back to bad card tricks, Mishei...

[ 30 August 2003: Message edited by: Courage ]


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Michelle
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Babbler # 560

posted 30 August 2003 10:51 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Courage:
F*ing pedantic shite. This 'detail' matters only to your own ego, and perhaps during rousing games of Trivial Pursuit...

If these kind of personal attacks continue, I'm closing the thread.

And just to anticipate the protests ahead of time, this isn't about "politeness". It's about respecting the space. Just because you don't like something someone says doesn't mean you can call them a fucking pedantic shite, even if you do use lame asterisks in your swear words.

And yes, I'm sure you can all come up with a bunch of examples of other people doing it that I missed. Too bad. I caught this one, and I'm tired of it. I'm not going to be intimidated out of trying to keep this forum civil by accusations of being "mealy mouthed" or whatever.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
paxamillion
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posted 30 August 2003 10:58 PM      Profile for paxamillion   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I believe Courage was labelling remarks "shite" and not a person.
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Courage
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Babbler # 3980

posted 30 August 2003 11:06 PM      Profile for Courage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Michelle:

If these kind of personal attacks continue, I'm closing the thread.

And just to anticipate the protests ahead of time, this isn't about "politeness". It's about respecting the space. Just because you don't like something someone says doesn't mean you can call them a fucking pedantic shite, even if you do use lame asterisks in your swear words.


Actually, I called what he said "f*ing pedantic shite". As for Mishei, I withold my personal opinion because I know it would breach Babble policies.

quote:
And yes, I'm sure you can all come up with a bunch of examples of other people doing it that I missed. Too bad. I caught this one, and I'm tired of it. I'm not going to be intimidated out of trying to keep this forum civil by accusations of being "mealy mouthed" or whatever.

I wouldn't do any such thing. You have your job, and I respect that. I'm sorry if I crossed the line.

[ 30 August 2003: Message edited by: Courage ]


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Courage
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posted 30 August 2003 11:09 PM      Profile for Courage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post

[ 30 August 2003: Message edited by: Courage ]


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al-Qa'bong
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Babbler # 3807

posted 30 August 2003 11:52 PM      Profile for al-Qa'bong   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Well, whaddaya know? Inflamed passions.
From: Saskatchistan | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 31 August 2003 08:42 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by Courage:
I wouldn't do any such thing. You have your job, and I respect that. I'm sorry if I crossed the line.

Well, I didn't realize you were referring to what he was writing instead of him. I guess I was harsh in that case. Also, to make it clear, I wasn't necessarily saying that would be your response. I've just been facing a dilemma lately in the Middle East forum, where the forum is getting unnecessarily ugly, and when I try to moderate it into a little more civility, I get accused of mealy-mouthedness (is that a word? ) or told that I'm stifling debate, and I was anticipating it ahead of time. But not necessarily from you. I appreciate your response. Thanks.


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skdadl
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Babbler # 478

posted 31 August 2003 09:55 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Gee, my reputation precedes me.

And after I have been nothing but cheery and helpful through this entire thread. *smiley is innocent*

I'm sure that Mishei posted the original link because the review of Levy's book was given big play in the Grope yesterday. I read it over last night and still find it a muddled piece of writing, although it gets better as it goes along.

There is one claim that strikes me as very odd: the reviewer seems to be saying at one point that Levy claims to have been a personal friend of Ahmed Shah Massoud, the Lion of the Panjshir. Now, for that to have been true, Levy would have had to be spending more than a little time in Afghanistan (not Kabul, either) before 2001. Now, I dunno -- maybe he did, but that seems so unlikely to me.

Anyway, while I shouldn't talk about books I haven't read, I remain skeptical about the hype around this one. The very title is suspect: from all I can tell, Daniel Pearl knew what a great many people knew; by pursuing the story in Pakistan, he was taking some risks, but then so are many others; it is a tragedy that he gambled and lost.

Only briefly before Pearl's killing, btw, Harper's magazine ran a short feature on Sheik Omar, on his misadventures in India and his arrest there, most of that feature a record in his own words. I have no doubt he has taken an evil path, but no one who read that record would think of him as any kind of mastermind. He seemed, on the contrary, an incompetent blowhard. He has been able to do the awful things he has because of the incompetence or connivance of others.


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged

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