Lady Gaga Versus Mideast Peace

i just wanted to briefly comment on an article i read in the Wall Street Journal written by Bret Stephens. It’s basic premise is that Lady Gaga does more to anger the Muslim world than the Israeli occupation…no, i’m serious.

i really wish i had more time to address this properly but being a 1L doesn’t afford me that luxury. but i am frustrated and appalled enough to make a few points.

Stephens starts off his article with the following statement:

“Pop quiz—What does more to galvanize radical anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world: (a) Israeli settlements on the West Bank; or (b) a Lady Gaga music video? If your answer is (b) it means you probably have a grasp of the historical roots of modern jihadism.”

oh. my. God.

what an offensive and ridiculous argument to make. i refuse to believe you are that stupid Stephens. this distinction- this amorphous idea of western values versus an actual brutal occupation-  has the purpose of redirecting attention away from Israel and its significant role in stoking the flames. the pundits who bend over backward to present this argument are mostly pro-Israeli hawks, and Stephens in particular is the former editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post.

what does Stephens know about the historical roots of modern jihadism?  that is, aside from narrowing it ALL down to a trip Qutb took to the U.S.? his entire argument is anchored in Qutb’s disdain for Western culture- this is his proof for why the Muslim world, past and present, is angry with us.

yes, it was Qutb who denounced Western culture, but it was also Qutb who wrote a number of articles on colonialism and Westernization. he linked these two phenomena to the British attempt to create a state for the Jews in Palestine. did you forget to read that part when you conducted your little research Stephens? because i think that also played a role in radicalizing the “Muslim mind” …in a much more profound and direct manner than his observations on what American women were wearing halfway across the world.

Stephens goes on to write:

“No less violent was Qutb’s attitude toward Jews: “The war the Jews began to wage against Islam and Muslims in those early days [of Islamic history],” he wrote in the 1950s, “has raged to the present. The form and appearance may have changed, but the nature and the means remain the same.”

Needless to say, that passage was written long before Israel had “occupied” a single inch of Arab territory, unless one takes the view—held to this day by Hezbollah, Hamas, al Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiyah and every other jihadist group…including significant elements of the “moderate” Palestinian Fatah—that Tel Aviv itself is occupied territory.

again, the writer is desperate to remove Israel out of the picture when it comes to assessing “Muslim rage.”  and he uses one Islamic thinker’s writing to prove it…doesn’t seem to care about anything else occurring in the Arab world at the time. the ethnic cleansing of Arabs in Palestine had in fact been happening years before Qutb published anything. reports of Arabs being systematically and brutally removed from their land traveled across the Middle East. militant Jewish groups such as Irgun operated in the British mandate of Palestine between 1931 and 1948. the Irgun’s policy in particular was based on what was then called Revisionist Zionism founded by Ze’ev Jabotinsky. according to Howard Sachar, “The policy of the new organization was based squarely on Jabotinsky’s teachings: every Jew had the right to enter Palestine; only active retaliation would deter the Arabs; only Jewish armed force would ensure the Jewish state.” the Irgun were responsible for bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in July of 1946,  and the Deir Yassin massacre on April 9, 1948. The latter is described as follows:

“The Deir Yassin massacre took place on April 9, 1948, when around 120 fighters from the Irgun and Lehi Zionist paramilitary groups attacked Deir Yassin near Jerusalem, a Palestinian-Arab village of roughly 600 people. The invasion occurred as Jewish militia sought to relieve the blockade of Jerusalem…that preceded the end of British rule in Palestine. Around 107 villagers, including women and children, were killed. Some were shot, while others died when hand grenades were thrown into their homes.”

that goes beyond Tel-Aviv and occurred before Qutb’s publications.  if you won’t recognize the significant role Israel has had in making the lives of terrorism recruiters easier, Mr. Stephens, than at the very minimum accept that Israel’s actions make our job of winning over the hearts and minds of the Muslim world that much more difficult. anything less than that renders you brainless. or worse, evil.

“Which brings me back to the settlements. There may well be good reasons for Israel to dismantle many of them….”

i promise you Stephens, you won’t break out into hives if you join the rest of the world in declaring them illegal instead of politely leaving it to Israel to determine why they should stop illegally and immorally encroaching upon another people’s land.

Bear in mind, too, that the America Qutb found so offensive had yet to discover Elvis, Playboy, the pill, women’s lib, acid tabs, gay rights, Studio 54, Jersey Shore and, of course, Lady Gaga….This, then, is the core complaint that the Islamists from Waziristan to Tehran to Gaza have lodged against the West. It explains why jihadists remain aggrieved even after the U.S. addressed their previous casus belli by removing troops from Saudi Arabia, and why they will continue to remain aggrieved long after we’ve decamped from Iraq, Afghanistan and even the Persian Gulf. As for Israel, its offenses are literally inextricable: as a democracy, as a Jewish homeland, as a country in which liberalism in all its forms, including cultural, prevails. But to imagine that the settlements account for even a fraction of the rage that has inhabited the radical Muslim mind since the days of Qutb is fantasy: The settlements are merely the latest politically convenient cover behind which lies a universe of hatred.

travel to any of the countries he’s mentioned, and anyone can plainly see that Western icons and trends are celebrated and imitated. the Muslim world doesn’t care about your whores, Stephens. what they do care about is the more direct and harmful impact of our politics on their lives. and i think that’s a legitimate and sufficient reason for being angry. what these people desire for themselves and their Palestinian brethren is freedom, a life of dignity, self autonomy. they, like you, are worthy of such a life. rather than insult our intelligence by reducing their grievance down to Jersey Shore and Gaga, i think it’s best you put down that pen and stop pretending to understand their rage and supplying answers for them. perhaps respect the Muslim world enough to actually listen to what they’re telling you. because they are speaking. and when someone is telling you repeatedly and in no uncertain terms, “this is why i am angry with you,” who are you to come along and say “no, this is why you are angry, and this is what you should do about it”?  that attitude has been reflective of Western policy for some time now and its gotten us nowhere. but if it makes your life easier Stephens, blame our political incompetence on Lady Gaga. who knows, maybe 2+2 really does equal 5.

“Which brings me back to the settlements. There may well be good reasons for Israel to dismantle many of them….”

ya think? how about the fact that they’re illegaal? i promise you mr. stephen, you won’t break out into hives if you join the rest of the world in declaring them illegal instead of politely leaving it to Israel to determine why they should perhaps stop illegally and immorally encroaching upon another peoples’ land.

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