Friday, August 11, 2006

Borrowed Words

The other day I received a copy of a speech from my cousin, Jack McLean. I won't reformat it...but I cannot resist posting it here for anyone interested in its analysis. I found it intelligent and disturbing. And I am also about to read another book from Gwynne Dyer. Call it history month...

This speech is by the former President of Weizmann Institute of Science,
Haim Harari April, 2004.


By Haim Harari

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 between Pakistan and Morocco, which is predominantly Arab,
predominantly Moslem, but includes many non-Arab and also significant
non-Moslem minorities.

Why do I put aside Israel and its own immediate neighborhood? Because
Israel and any problems related to it, in spite of what you might read
or hear in the world media, is not the central issue, and has never been
the central issue in the upheaval in the region. Yes, there is a 100
year-old Israeli-Arab conflict, but it is not where the main show is.
The millions
who died in the Iran-Iraq war had nothing to do with Israel. The mass
murder happening right now in Sudan, where the Arab Moslem regime is
massacring its black Christian citizens, has nothing to do with Israel.
The frequent reports from Algeria about the murders of hundreds of civilian
in one village or another by other Algerians have nothing to do with
Israel. Saddam Hussein did not invade Kuwait, endangered Saudi Arabia
and butchered his own people because of Israel. Egypt did not use poison gas against
Yemen in the 60's because of Israel. Assad the Father did not kill tens
of thousands of his own citizens in one week in El Hamma in Syria
because of Israel. The Taliban control of Afghanistan and the civil war there had
nothing to do with Israel. The Libyan blowing up of the Pan-Am flight
had nothing to do with Israel, and I could go on and on and on.

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
if Israel would have joined the Arab league and an independent
Palestine would have existed for 100 years. The 22 member countries of the Arab league,
from Mauritania to the Gulf States, have a total population of 300
millions, larger than the US and almost as large as the EU before its
expansion. They have a land area larger than either the US or all of
Europe. These 22 countries, with all their oil and natural resources,
have a combined GDP smaller than that of Netherlands plus Belgium and
equal to half of the GDP of California alone. Within this meager GDP, the gaps
between rich and poor are beyond belief and too many of the rich made
their money not by succeeding in business, but by being corrupt rulers.
The social status of women is far below what it was in the Western World
150 years ago. Human rights are below any reasonable standard, in spite of
the grotesque fact that Libya was elected Chair of the UN Human Rights
commission. According to a report prepared by a committee of Arab
intellectuals and published under the auspices of the U.N., the number
of books translated by the entire Arab world is much smaller than what
little Greece alone translates. The total number of scientific publications of
300 million Arabs is less than that of 6 million Israelis. Birth rates in
the region are very high, increasing the poverty, the social gaps and the
cultural decline. And all of this is happening in a region, which only
30 years ago, was believed to be the next wealthy part of the world, and
in a Moslem area, which developed, at some point in history, one of the most
advanced cultures in the world.

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 United States, on Israel, on
Western Civilization, on Judaism and Christianity, on anyone and anything,
except themselves.

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 have
been 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
Conflict, 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 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
Israel in the last three years is much smaller than those due to car
accidents. September 11 was quantitatively much less lethal than many
earthquakes. More people die from AIDS in one day in Africa than all

Russians who died in the hands of Chechnya-based Moslem suicide
murderers since that conflict started. Saddam killed every month more people than
all those who died from suicide murders since the Coalition occupation of

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 Bali and in Turkey.

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 U.S. and
Europe are constantly improving their defense against the last murder,
not the next one. We may arrange for the best airport security in the
world. But if you want to murder by suicide, you do not have to board a plane
in order to explode yourself and kill many people. Who could stop a
suicide murder in the midst of the crowded line waiting to be checked by the
airport metal detector? How about the lines to the check-in counters in
a busy travel period? Put a metal detector in front of every train
station in Spain and the terrorists will get the buses. Protect the buses and they
will explode in movie theaters, concert halls, supermarkets, shopping
malls, schools and hospitals. Put guards in front of every concert hall
and there will always be a line of people to be checked by the guards and
this line will be the target, not to speak of killing the guards themselves.
You can somewhat reduce your vulnerability by preventive and defensive
measures and by strict border controls but not eliminate it and definitely not
in the war in a defensive way. And it is a war!

What is behind the suicide murders? Money, power and cold-blooded
murderous incitement, nothing else. It has nothing to do with true
fanatic religious beliefs. 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 Africa. It never happens there.
There are numerous desperate people in the world, in different
cultures, countries and continents. Desperation does not provide anyone with
explosives, reconnaissance and transportation. There was certainly more
despair in Saddam's Iraq then in Paul Bremmer's Iraq, and no one
exploded himself. A suicide murder is simply a horrible, vicious weapon of
cruel, inhuman, cynical, well-funded terrorists, with no regard to human life,
including the life of their fellow countrymen, but with very high regard
to their own affluent well-being and their hunger for power.

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

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 United States
understands this now, after September 11. Russia is beginning to
understand it. Turkey nderstands it well. I am very much afraid that
most of Europe still does not understand it. Unfortunately, it seems that Europe will
understand it only after suicide murders will arrive in Europe in a big
way. In my humble opinion, this will definitely happen. The Spanish
trains and the Istanbul bombings are only the beginning. The unity of the
Civilized World in fighting this horror is absolutely indispensable.
Until Europe wakes up, this unity will not be achieved.

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 US forces were already
inside Baghdad. Disinformation at time of war is an accepted tactic. But to
stand, day after day, and to make such preposterous statements, known to
everybody to be lies, without even being ridiculed in your newspapers
from giving him equal time. It also does not prevent the Western press from giving
credence, every day, even now, to similar liars. After all, if you want
to be an anti-Semite, there are subtle ways of doing it. You do not have
to claim that the holocaust never happened and that the Jewish temple in
Jerusalem never existed. But millions of Moslems are told by their
leaders that this is the case. When these same leaders make other
statements, the Western media report them as if they could be true. 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. 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 Jazeera, from time to time. You will not believe your own eyes.

But words also work in other ways, more subtle. A demonstration in
Berlin, carrying banners supporting Saddam's regime and featuring three-year
old babies dressed as suicide murderers, is defined by the press and by
political leaders as a "peace demonstration". You may support or oppose
the Iraq war, but to refer to fans of Saddam, Arafat or Bin Laden as peace
activists is a bit too much. A woman walks into an Israeli restaurant
in mid-day, eats, observes families with old people and children eating
their lunch in the adjacent tables and pays the bill. She then blows herself
up, killing 20 people, including many children, with heads and arms rolling
around in the restaurant. She is called "martyr" by several Arab
leaders and "activist" by the European press. Dignitaries condemn the act but
visit her bereaved family and the money flows.

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 Goebbels 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, ideouts 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, madrassas 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

Of the three circles described above, the inner circles are primarily
financed by terrorist states like Iran and Syria, until recently also
by Iraq and Libya and earlier also by some of the Communist regimes. These
states, as well as the Palestinian Authority, are the safe havens of
the wholesale murder vendors. The outer circle is largely financed by Saudi
Arabia, but also by donations from certain Moslem communities in the
United States and Europe and, to a smaller extent, by donations of European
Governments to various NGO's and by certain United Nations
organizations, whose goals may be noble, but they are infested and
exploited by agents of the outer circle. The Saudi regime, of course, will be the next victim
of major terror, when the inner circle will explode into the outer circle.
The Saudis are beginning to understand it, but they fight the inner
circles, while still financing the infrastructure at the outer circle.

Some of the leaders of these various circles live very comfortably on
their loot. You meet their children in the best private schools in
Europe, not in the training camps of suicide murderers. The Jihad "soldiers" join
packaged death tours to Iraq and other hot spots, while some of their leaders
ski in Switzerland. Mrs. Arafat, who lives in Paris with her daughter,
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 ------, 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
anti-democratic 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 daily in Iraq and in the
Palestinian areas. What do you do? Well, you do not want to face the
dilemma. But it cannot be avoided.

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 Spain or
France would have done, in such a situation.

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

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 Europe a few more
years. In order to win, it is necessary to first eliminate the
terrorist regimes, so that no Government in the world will serve as a safe haven for these
people. I do not want to comment here on whether the American-led
attack on Iraq was justified from the point of view of weapons of mass
destruction or any other pre-war argument, but I can look at the post-war map of
Western Asia. Now that Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya are out, two and a half
terrorist states remain: Iran, Syria and Lebanon, the latter being a
Syrian colony. Perhaps Sudan should be added to the list. As a result of the
conquest of Afghanistan and Iraq, both Iran and Syria are now totally
surrounded by territories unfriendly to them. Iran is encircled by
Afghanistan, by the Gulf States, Iraq and the Moslem republics of the
former Soviet Union. Syria is surrounded by Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and
Israel. This is a significant strategic change and it applies strong
pressure on the terrorist countries. It is not surprising that Iran is
so active in trying to incite a Shiite uprising in Iraq.

I do not know if the American plan was actually to encircle both Iran
and Syria, but that is the resulting situation.

In my humble opinion, the number one danger to the world today is Iran
and its regime. It definitely has ambitions to rule vast areas and to
expand in all directions. It has an ideology, which claims supremacy over Western
culture. It is ruthless. It has proven that it can execute elaborate
terrorist acts without leaving too many traces, using Iranian
Embassies. It is clearly trying to develop Nuclear Weapons. Its so-called moderates
and conservatives play their own virtuoso version of the "good-cop
versus bad-cop" game. Iran sponsors Syrian terrorism, it is certainly behind
much of the action in Iraq, it is fully funding the Hezb'Allah and, through
it, the Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad, it performed acts of
terror at least in Europe and in South America and probably also in Uzbekhistan
and Saudi Arabia and it truly leads a multi-national terror consortium,
which includes, as minor players, Syria, Lebanon and certain Shiite
elements in Iraq. Nevertheless, most European countries still trade with Iran, try
to appease it and refuse to read the clear signals.

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 Qaeda and Hamas and the
Shiite terror of Hezb'Allah, 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

Above all, never surrender to terror. No one will ever know whether the
recent elections in Spain would have yielded a different result, if not
for the train bombings a few days earlier. But it really does not matter.
What matters is that the terrorists believe that they caused the result
and that they won by driving Spain out of Iraq. The Spanish story will surely
end up being extremely costly to other European countries, including France,
who is now expelling inciting preachers and forbidding veils and including
others who sent troops to Iraq. In the long run, Spain itself will pay even more.

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 already in Algeria and, to a certain
extent, in Turkey. It will happen again, if the ground is not prepared very
carefully. On the other hand, a certain transition democracy, as in
Jordan, may be a better temporary solution, paving the way for the real
thing, perhaps in the same way that an immediate sudden democracy did not work
in Russia and would not have worked in China.

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. Europe, more than any other region, is the
key. Its understandable recoil from wars, following the horrors of
World War II, may cost thousands of additional innocent lives, before the
tide will turn.

Haim Harari is the former President of the Weizmann Institute.


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