Jewish Ideas Daily has been succeeded and re-launched as Mosaic. Read more...

Find, Fix, Finish

What is the threat?  Al-Qaeda? "Terrorism"?  "Violent religious extremism"?  Israeli analysts call it "global jihad," but U.S. leadership has carefully circumscribed it as "al-Qaeda" or, even more narrowly, personified it as Osama bin Laden and his minions, hijackers of planes and Islam.  The ideologies motivating individuals from bin Laden to Toulouse gunman Mohammed Merah are rarely examined publicly.  This failure to be specific and honest about the definitional question has hampered American understanding of the problem and the proper means to address it.  

Relevant Links
Nuremberg Diary  G.M. Gilbert, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. A first-hand account, by a Nuremburg prison psychologist, of the trials that attempted to bring international law to bear on the crimes committed by the Nazi leadership.
Guantanamo Documents Revive Debate  Anne E. Kornblut, Washington Post. New documents about the detainees are released—and each side in the debate about closing the base claims ammunition for its own position.
Police Powers in New York  New York Times. New York’s mayor calls the city’s surveillance legal. But the Times has added it to the list of police practices that have “virtually eliminated the presumption of innocence.”

But Find, Fix, Finish, a new book by U.S. counterterrorism professionals Aki Peritz and Eric Rosenbach, shows that the United States may be catching up to Israel in experience and understanding.  "Find, fix, finish" is a military exhortation: Use intelligence to locate enemies, then employ the vast array of U.S. firepower to fix them in place.  The problem, of course, is finishing them.  The book reflects U.S. policymakers' customary focus on the "al-Qaeda" brand but shows that the American response to the Islamist wars has been global, often brutal, and surprisingly successful, sometimes in spite of itself.  Many Israeli approaches to counterterrorism and low-intensity conflict have been adopted by the United States, but on a global scale.  

The story begins with al-Qaeda's late-20th-century attacks on America—the World Trade Center in 1993, the Khobar Towers in 1996, and the USS Cole in 2000.  The Clinton administration responded weakly, in part out of fear of causing increased Islamic extremism.  But the weakness merely convinced bin Laden that the United States was frail. Peritz and Rosenbach describe the subsequent risk aversion, bureaucratic turf wars, failure of information sharing, and legal uncertainties that contributed to the catastrophe of September 11, 2001.

In contrast, the Bush administration swept away risk aversion, conquered Afghanistan, convinced itself of the need for war in Iraq, and improvised military commissions, enhanced interrogation techniques, and rendition, not to mention the gigantic bureaucracies known as the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Safety Administration.

When it comes to the legal foundations of the Islamist wars, the U.S. is also adapting.  The Obama administration, though it has largely pulled out of Iraq and is about to pull out of Afghanistan, finds itself in the same terrible conundrums as its predecessors:  Where to fight the war?  What to do with prisoners too implacably dangerous to set free?  Thus, the administration has retreated from its promise to close Guantanamo and try its prisoners in civilian courts; the base remains open, housing prisoners who will be tried by military commissions.  To avoid more prisoners, terrorists are increasingly killed from above. 

The twinned problems of the Islamist wars and their legal foundations are explored by journalist William Shawcross in his book Justice and the Enemy.  Shawcross, whose father was the British prosecutor at the Nuremburg trials, reviews the tangled intersection of military and civilian law with the real-world villainy of al-Qaeda, Taliban and assorted other jihadis over the past decade and concludes that existing international laws, such as the Geneva Conventions, are utterly inadequate to address global conflict by non-state actors who have no regard for those laws or any others.  In Shawcross's view, the Obama administration's retreat on Guantanamo and civilian trials was entirely sensible.

Targeted killings and other forms of preemption, subject to legal approval and judicial review, have long been part of Israeli practice; the use of coercion against security prisoners has been repeatedly addressed by Israel's High Court of Justice and security services.  The result, as Peter Berkowitz shows in his new book Israel and the Struggle over the International Laws of War, is that Israel has borne the brunt of repeated international legal assaults on its military activities over issues such as proportionality; but American military and legal thinkers have tried to learn from this experience. 

U.S. counterterrorism literature has also come to accept the "global jihad" concept.  As a RAND Corporation study puts it, "terrorist groups that may not be formally part of al-Qaeda but that have assimilated al-Qaeda's worldview and concept of mass casualty attacks" have become the "center of gravity of the current global terrorist threat."  Counterterrorism theorist David Kilcullen describes a "global insurgency" in which "al-Qaeda and similar groups feed on local grievances, integrate them into broader ideologies, and link disparate conflicts through globalised communications, finances, and technology."  Even "lone wolves" like Merah and Fort Hood shooter Major Nidal Hasan turn out to be not so alone.

Two other realities have long been accepted by Israel.  The first is that only highly detailed intelligence from informers and eavesdropping—gained through profiling, agents provocateurs, watch lists, identification cards, border controls—can prevent terrorist attacks.  The second is that the battle is everywhere, preferably abroad but also at home.  These realities challenge democratic principles.  Breathable space has been compressed, behaviors are constrained and monitored, and the conflict increasingly feels ever-present.  Closed circuit cameras peer, ID's are examined, and security guards patrol.  Privacy becomes a dear commodity.  

The recent outrage over the New York City Police Department's surveillance program shows that Americans have yet to learn this lesson; and, despite recognition by intelligence and law enforcement officials of the breadth of the threat, high-level U.S. leadership remains publicly fixated on al-Qaeda and bin Laden.  The Obama administration is willing to extinguish Islamist terrorists using drones or special forces but will not declare that the threat is a global Islamist insurgency.  Attorney General Eric Holder refuses to say the words "radical Islam."  

Perhaps the administration's acting one way and talking another is just political expediency, but it may be something more: Publicly recognizing the scope and depth of the problem would constitute, almost necessarily, a call to arms, one the administration seems not to be willing to issue.  

Still, Americans share many values with Israelis and are likely to learn how to think about and live with the larger terrorist threat in the ways that Israelis do.  This is not a happy outcome, but it is our future.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


Toby Mower on May 1, 2012 at 10:35 am (Reply)
The ideological model for the "global Islamist insurgency" is Chabad--i.e., a movement grounded in medieval doctrine and triumphalism, whose tactic is to infiltrate and establish a beachhead worldwide, by playing on believers' spiritual dissatisfaction.
SW on May 2, 2012 at 1:11 am (Reply)
Regarding the "Chabad" comment: Islam predates "medieval doctrine" by twelve centuries. Chabad was established in the 18th century, while Reform Judaism was established in the 19th century, both in Europe. To claim that the "global Islamist insurgency" is modeled on a Jewish religious strain is preposterous. Modern militant Islamism is based on Islam, which dates from the 7th century. There is nothing medieval nor triumphalist about Chabad, nor has Chabad been involved in bombing statues of Buddha, civil war in Syria, a ten-year war between Iraq and Iran, honor killings, modern slavery, or attacks on Christians and native tribes in Africa. Marx's observation about Judaism might come true, as some of us attempt to negate ourselves by suggesting that we are morally equivalent with Islamism at war around the world.
Jerry Blaz on May 2, 2012 at 4:23 am (Reply)
This article is very derivative of many oft-repeated statements apppearing in many articles of sources closer to the facts than the writer.
Fred Davis on May 6, 2012 at 2:53 pm (Reply)
Mower is correct. It was most, not some, of the Jews who founded Israel who were socialist--especially members of the leadership cadre, such as Ben-Gurion, Meir, and Peres. Similarly, regarding the assertion that "modern militant Islamism is based on Islam, which dates from the 7th century," modern militant Islamism dates theoretically from the work of 20th century Sayyid Kutb and practically from the Iranian Revolution of 1979, both of which are antedated by Chabad. "Modern militant Islamism" is as much based on 7th-century Islam as the Ku Klux Klan is based on 1st-century Christianity. Both modern militant Islamism and Chabad are anti-Zionist. Schneerson forbade his followers from singing Hatikvah. When the bodies were flown to Israel after the terrorist attack in Mumbai, Chabad protested the fact that the coffins of the deceased were wrapped in Israeli flags.
SW on May 7, 2012 at 4:05 am (Reply)
“If the definition of 'Zionism' is defined as detachment from Jewish roots and becoming a nation like any other, we oppose that – and so did all the great Torah leaders. But if Zionism is about loving the land, about national security, settling the land, then Chabad definitely supports those important activities,” he declared. [ from "Chabad is Zionist, Rabbi Says," published in Israel National News, July 20, 2011 ] The confusion of terms over a long history muddies many waters. The facts are 1) Israel as a nation exists, and it is both Jewish and partially Arab with some Muslims in the Knesset, 2) Chabad members as above have stated support for Israel in the modern era, 3) many secular and atheist Jews rage against theological Jews until such time as issues like this arise and then proclaim their views as supportive of Zionism, but only when seen as socialist, 4) Israel is, like many other European nations and the United States, a mix of socialist and capitalist elements, and 5) when socialism is prolcaimed, as history also shows, it proclaims itself as universal, international and "triumphal," as Mower accuses Chabad. As to the apology for modern Islamism as not related to 7th century Islam, this is preposterous. The Muslm world seeks to weld together its umma into a new caliphate, and every Muslim leader speaks to this idea, Shia and Sunni alike. The only remaining question is under which leader(s). Many people complain of a potential theocracy coming out of either American Christian denominations or the Orthodox in Israel but revolve 180 degrees to make an apologia for the actual theocracies existing today--among them, Iran, and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which is in thrall to its clerics. As to socialism and the founders of Israel, Israel was not foudned as a socialist nation, with the means of production and distribution under the firm control, if not ownership, of the political state. Rather, the early Israeli socialists experimented with various forms through smaller elements like the kibbutz movements, which now wither for practical reasons. A continued advocacy of socialism is as "triumphal" as anything Chabad might have done. The difference is that Chabad is a small movement, not working to govern all people, while socialism in the modern era is seeking to do exactly that. Given the economic malaise and now austerity weighing down many European nations, and given the massive public debt incurred to prove socialism a viable economic plan, one sees that socialism is actually a belief system, and, as such, sometimes cheers for Zionism when it is in its best interests and sometimes rails against it when that seems the better wind to follow. What is certain is that European and Soviet socialism in the twentieth century avowed "triumphalism" and that did not turn out to the best interests of Jews, from capitalists to the young European socialists all wrapped together in the camps because they were Jews.
Toby Mower on May 7, 2012 at 10:53 am (Reply)
1."Chabad is Zionist, Rabbi Says," says poster SW. WHICH rabbi? Schneerson is dead, and only he set official policy. 2. "The Muslm world seeks to weld together its umma into a new caliphate, and every Muslim leader speaks to this idea, Shia and Sunni alike." Ridiculous! "Caliph" is a Sunni term, which Shia oppose. The leader whom Shia await in the end of days is known as the Imam. 3. Chabad depends heavily upon the Zohar, which is a medieval document.
SW on May 7, 2012 at 11:21 am (Reply)
1) Look at the Israel National News, July 20, 2011. The comment that Schneerson alone could set policy is moot as he is deceased, and others speak for Chabad now. 2) Regarding "caliphate," it is a quibble about words in English translation. That Sunni and Shia both look for Islam to dominate the world is theological fact, call the mystic "hidden" leader an imam or othewise. In both strains the leader is "chosen." 3) Regarding the statement that "Chabad depends on the Zohar, a medieval document," all of Judaism rests on the first sentence of Torah, a much older document. And on what documents does progessive Judaism rely? Millenia-old documents, to being with. Returning to the statement that the "ideological model for the 'global Islamist insurgency' is Chabad," the model is the Dar al-Harb, which is found in not a medieval document but a 7th-century document. When Jews attack Jews over political disagreements and this leads to excusing Islam and its attacks on Jews, the world is very much askew.
Aaron T. Leibel on May 7, 2012 at 1:45 pm (Reply)
1. Not all Chabadniks believe that Schneerson is deceased. And has the Chabad rabbi cited by SW (why won't he/she use their real name?) overruled Schneerson about not singing Hatikvah? Or apologized for the flak concerning the Israeli flag adorning the coffins of the Mumbai victims? If not (and he has not), Schneerson's rulings in opposition to Zionism, continue to govern. Remember: Schneerson's views, like those of the Pope in Catholicism, are infallible and inviolable. No contemporary Chabad rabbi can override them, just as no priest can override what the Pope says. 2. It is not a quibble about English translation. "Khalif" and "imam" are separate words in Arabic and Farsi, and reflect significantly different ideologies. Saying otherwise shows factual, let alone interpretive, ignorance about Islamic religion and history. 3. Muslim extremists distinguish between Muslims and non-Muslims on religious grounds. Chabad separates Jews from Gentiles on racial grounds: According to the Tanya, Jews have different--superior--souls from non-Jews.
SW on May 8, 2012 at 12:26 am (Reply)
First, the Chabad movement is about mysticism, and mysticism is not for all. Secondly, regarding the modern multi-culturalism in the complaint that Chabad's views might be "triumphal"--i.e., better than other--used as a pejorative when found in one's opponents. Yet, the socialists of this world are themselves "triumphal," as are the passionate multi-culturalists in proclaiming their view above others. The article speaks about "values." There are values which are greater than others, and there are religious perspectives of greater value than others. The avid multi-culturalist often pretends to be a critic of those who take this position, but the logical contradiction in that criticism is that the multi-culturalists, too, stand by their version of "better." One might ponder Darwin's observation that there is a "fitness" demonstrable by survival. Judaism in its many streams survives; and opposing its survival has been National Socialism and, today, Islamic fundamentalism, both "triumphal." To focus on and complain about Chabad in this broader context is to lose focus on the greater threats to Jews worldwide. The "signifianctly different ideologies" of Sunni and Shia Islam both rely on a triumphal 7th century text, and they both are arrayed against Judaism through their stance of "superiority," which declares Jews to be second-class citizens in a legal sense through sharia. It is not Chabad bombing synagogues and churches, Buddhas, and mosques, or conducting civil war against its own as in Syria today. Chabad, whatever a Jew's view of them, is not a threat to us as is Islamic fundamentalism. Comments condemn peaceful Chabad while drawing subtle yet "triumphal" distinctions between Sunni and Shia Islam, both intent on attacking Jews. Go figure.
Caleb Rosen on May 8, 2012 at 10:36 am (Reply)
1."When Jews attack Jews over political disagreements and this leads to excusing Islam and its attacks on Jews, the world is very much askew." The issue is truth, not tribal solidarity--Torah, not the Golden Calf.
2." a socialist nation, with the means of production and distribution under the firm control, if not ownership, of the political state." This is more a description of communism than of socialism, and certainly not of the social democratic model of socialism, favored by the Scandinavians and the Labor Zionist leadership of 1948.
SW on May 8, 2012 at 12:40 pm (Reply)
1) The issue is "truth," ontological/epistemological statements that cannot be proven -- i.e., belief system statements -- are not measured by truth except in the religious/mystical sense. Torah has many traditions within it, from texts to the oral and from dissenting opinions among generations of rabbis. None of this is that "golden calf," a perjorative but not an argument. The most recent golden calf, rather, is multi-cultural and leafed over with apologia for Islam.

2) The definition of socialism I gave is classical, one made by a socialist advocate on another JID thread is asserting elements of the Torah are socialist. As to social democrats, I write from Germany (SPD) and have relatives in Sweden which I visit. The view of social democracy as an ersatz socialism is fallacious. As to the Labor Zionists of Israel's birth, they did not establish a socialist government, but rather one inclusive of many political strains. And as I have noted among the Israeli experiments with socialism, the kibbutzim movement blossomed for awhile and then withered. Moreover as to the word communism, it is important to remember the CCCP was a "union of soviet socialist republiks." Sweden's and Germany's Social Democrats are not moving to nationalize more industry as have the socialists in Argentina and Bolivia most recently. Nor are we standing in bread lines as was the case in the DDR, another "democratic" republic intent on proving socialism a workable system.

Mr. Joffe writes about "recognizing the scope and depth" of some problems, but we seem to have drifted off into attacks on Chabad and apologies for Islam. I think this makes Mr. Joffe's perspective all the more poignant.
SW, Jr. on May 8, 2012 at 2:24 pm (Reply)
"which declares Jews to be second-class citizens in a legal sense through sharia:" And Halacha does not consider Gentiles/pagans as, at the very least, second-class citizens, in the legal sense, as well? It is not Islam that is "conducting civil war against its own as in Syria today" but a secular Arab dictator trying to maintain his rule--and one, at that, who is from a family which belongs to a sect which most other Muslims would view as un-Islamic and heretical.
SW on May 9, 2012 at 12:04 am (Reply)
Calling Assad's family and many supporters not Muslim but "secular," in order to excuse the civil war in Syria? Perhaps the ten-year war between Iran and Iraq may be similarly viewed? Or the fighting between the PLO and its rivals in Tunisia decades ago? There are many more internecine wars between Muslims, not to mention the 60 years' low-intensity war with Israel. Accusations that Halacha decrees gentiles "second-citizens" are falsehoods, plain and simple, if for no other reason than Halacha is directed at Jews within their own community and not the general population at large. The comments on this thread, which began with an attack on Chabad, have turned into ever-greater advocacy and apologia for Islam. The theme of the Frankfurt School from a century ago seems alive and well in demeaning various streams of Judaism while excusing Islam for some political reason. Perhaps the Islamist bombings in England or Spain, the attack on New York and Washington, the destruction of Buddhas in Afghanistan and Mali, the strife on the southern border of Russia and the eastern border of China all came about because those Muslims are "secular?" Perhaps public demonstrations chanting "death to Israel" are "secular?" Perhaps the war in Libya came about because of secularism? Perhaps the Boko Harum are secularists? Perhaps the 10-year war between Iran and Baathist Iraq was "secular?" Mr. Joffe writes about "recognizing the scope and depth" of some problems, but we have drifted off into attacks on Chabad and apologies for Islam. This makes Mr. Joffe's perspective all the more poignant.
Sam Rapoport on May 9, 2012 at 10:42 am (Reply)
It is astounding that on a Jewish-themed blog, a poster would assert that truth (and, hence, all moral values) is a non-existent chimera, effectively dumping all of Judaism--including even the 10 Commandments--into the garbage can. Such, of course, does not preclude the same individual from apodictically asserting, as an absolute, that "The most recent golden calf" is "multi-cultural and leafed over with apologia for Islam." I believe the terms for this are hypocrisy and epikorsus. (Notice the absence of Yiddishkeit and Hebrew terminology in this individual's comments, unlike those of other posters). The individual is certainly entitled, as the saying goes, to his "own opinions, but not his own (fabricated) facts"--which is to say, his analysis of socialism, including his own cherry-picked eccentric definition of the phenomenon. The CCCP was as much socialist as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is democratic and a republic. And why won't he supply his real name?
S. Tuchman on May 9, 2012 at 2:25 pm (Reply)
"Accusations that Halacha decrees gentiles 'second-citizens' are falsehoods"? According to Halacha, a Jew may not charge another Jew interest, but is required to charge Gentiles interest. So, if a Jew wants to lend money to Bernie Madoff, he can't charge him interest, but if he wants to lend money to Raoul Wallenberg, savior of Hungarian Jewry, he is required to charge him.

The PLO, unlike Hamas, was a political, not a religious, organization. PLO officials such as Hanan Ashrawi (Anglican) and George Habbash (Greek Orthodox) were Christians, not Muslim. The fighting between Iran and Iraq was purely political--and much more Persian vs. Arab than Shi'i vs Sunni, because Saddam Hussein was a secular Baathist. On the one hand, the poster condemns multiculturalism; on the other, he says truth is conjectural and simply a matter of dueling rhetoric, thereby identifying himself as a relativist. But, as a relativist, logically, he has no firm basis for condemning anything. Further, "multicultural" entails the belief, in the Torah view, that everyone is created in the image of God; no one is superior. Anti-multiculturalism means you think that one group of people is superior to another--i.e., a Master Race. Relativism + anti-multiculturalism equals fascism.
SW on May 9, 2012 at 3:24 pm (Reply)
It is astounding on a Jewish-themed blog that Islam is so aggresively defended, alongside socialism, while previous socialist governments in the twentieth century are dismissed as not somehow exemplary of socialism. The defense of socialism by so many in this thread indicates the passion with which they hold socialism dear, almost more dear than their Judaism. The comments argue that 1) Chabad is the model for "global Islamist insurgency," 2) "Chabad separates Jews from Gentiles on racial grounds," 3) halacha considers "Gentiles/pagans as, at the very least, second-class citizens," and 4) the definition of socialism has been "cherry-picked" and "eccentric." The complainers do not offer their own definitions. German Social Democrats do not advocate socialism and its nationalization of industry. The Swedish government is reducing taxes and making government more efficient. The German social welfare state is not socialism, though Americansmay think it is. As to the complaint about not employing Yiddishkeit to the satisfaction of the socialist-apologists for Islam who so easily wish to thump Chabad, a halber emes iz a ganzer lign. Islamism cannot be explained away as either based on Chabad or not connected to the Quran. Islamism is Islamic, and its major "secular" governments have been streams of Pan-Arab Socialism, which some would also insist is not socialism, because socialism is something dear to the many commenters herein who delight in multi-cultural appreciation of Islam while complaining about Chabad and the racial message of halacha. One only wonders what these think of Netanyahu. Socialism? Az got makht mies ken der mentch nit makn shener.
Jerry Blaz on May 9, 2012 at 4:46 pm (Reply)
A single halachic view of the non-Jew is just not there. If we read the Talmud Bavli we see that "saving a Jewish life is as though saving the world." The Talmud Yerushalmi states, "saving a life is as though saving the world." At first reading, it looks counter-intuitive, but it reflects the respective relationships between the Jewish communities in Babylonia and Eretz Yisrael. So when anyone states, "the halachah is thus-and-thus" it usually is that and it is also something else. That is why, when depending upon halachah as a guide, we often need someone "raui lelamed v'ledayen" (suitable to teach and to judge)--in short, a knowledgeable rabbi.
SW on May 10, 2012 at 2:13 am (Reply)
Thanks to Mr. Blaz for a cogent clarification about halacha, which contains a broad spectrum of notions and ideas across centuries of rabbinic dialogue and even disagreement. As to the complaint about thinking one set of religious and cultural ideas superior to others, that is a correct assessment--else the multicultural morass morally equates Judaism with overt secular atheism, in which the state takes the place of religion (there is a photograph of the Hakenkreuz hanging in the Braunschweig Dom in place of Christian symbols, which shows this horribly well, as National Socialism attacked not only Jews but other religions, too), as well as morally equivalent with Druids, Islamists, and ancient religions that practised human sacrifice. Yes, indeed, some religious views are superior to and more civil than others. Moreover, science and engineering suggest that some things work (function) and others simply do not (fail). It takes an avowed multicultural advocate of what the Frankfurt School taught to conclude that "relativism + anti-multiculturalism equals fascism." Fascism is a form of socialism; Mussolini and Hitler were allied. The multicultural advocate is the relativist, who asserts that all religious and social ideologies are equal, i.e., relative one to another. And by doing so, the various views of understanding the phrase "chosen people" are eroded in favor of praise of those ideologies sworn to our destruction. What is the sense in this except to bludgeon Judaism? But, then, this thread began by slurring Chabad and went on from there. I am proud to be a Jew and proud of Judaism throughout the centuries and its interwoven streams of thought and culture.
Mort Klein on May 10, 2012 at 10:49 am (Reply)
The Bavli vs. Yerushalmi variants cited by Mr. Blaz likely reflect the influence of censorship, with the Jews of (Persian) Babylonia freer to express themselves, while those in Palestine were under Christian pressure. That explains the discrepancy. The ruling on interest is unambiguous, and typical. Opposition to multi-culturalism is bigotry, pure and simple. Proof: The biggest opponents of anything remotely resembling multiculturalism were Hitler and the Nazis, as evidenced by their motto: Ein Volk, Ein Riech, Ein Fuhrer.
Hesham A. Hassaballa on May 10, 2012 at 11:16 am (Reply)
from Beliefnet: There has been so much hysteria, of late, around the issue of Sharia law and its supposed “threat” to the United States. Yet, the “threat” of Sharia law is really nonexistent. Muslims in America are not conspiring to replace the Constitution with Sharia law. True Sharia law is being practiced: in the campaign of “Sisters Steppin’ Up” (SSU) to build a children’s library in Palestine. SSU is made up of young Muslim women who, as their website says, "empower young girls with confidence and leadership skills . . . . We strive to form a stronger relationship with Allah, build bonds of sisterhood, and positively impact the community." No amputations; no stonings; no horrific things that some Muslims have done or currently do in the name of Sharia. These things are horrific misinterpretation of Islamic law. These children in SSU are practicing true Sharia law, seeking to help others in need. I pray their efforts are successful.
R.D.A. on May 10, 2012 at 1:11 pm (Reply)
The origin of Jihad is to be found in the Bible. In the Genesis 32 story of Jacob's encounter at the Jabbok River, the patriarch was given the transformational name of Israel, literal meaning of which is "you have striven." Other translations prefer "you have struggled." The Arabic word for "striving/struggling" is jihad. It is interesting to note that in the Bible Society's (Protestant) 1963 translation of the Bible into Arabic, that is the word used to render this meme. Thus, linguistically, in the Biblical context, it would seem that Israel = Jihad. Which would, literally, mean that the "sons of Israel," or Israelites, were the original mujahadeen, the first Jihadis (or should that be Jewhadis?). Should Jewry sue al-Qaeda for copyright infringement?
Cheryl Halpern on May 10, 2012 at 2:25 pm (Reply)
The rambling May 10 2:13 comments to be illogical and incoherent, starting with the confusion of communism with socialism. The poster, in his May 8 entry, disavowed the existence of anything resembling substantive truth, making him a relativist, but in the May 10 post is absolute in the repudiation of multiculturalism. At the same time, the posting endorses the diversity of views in halacha (because it "contains a broad spectrum of notions and ideas across centuries of rabbinic dialogue" )--which is to say that it is multicultural in nature, in the most basic meaning of that term. So, overall, the posting's rejection of multiculturalism is relative: The poster is against it when it comes to gentile civilization but supports it when it comes to Jewish things. (Cf. S. Tuchman's May 9 blog point about double standards.) Isn't this inconsistency called racism?
Jerry Blaz on May 10, 2012 at 9:34 pm (Reply)
SW's opinion he could have been "unwrapped" with more facts and less of a melange of Druids and a "multicultural morass" that, according to the description, is somehow embodied in socialism, fascism, the "Hakenkreuz," Islamists, National Socialism,and the "Frankfort School." All these terms need to be further explained, and it needs to be shown how they fit into the scheme of things. The poster does not like them, but what they are and how they relate to our topic, is simply unclear.
SW on May 11, 2012 at 11:37 am (Reply)
We learn that jihad is founded in the "Bible," "Israel = Jihad," there is a "true" sharia according to Hassaballa, that National Socialists were against multiculturalists (although in that era no such multi-culturalism was in evidence, it being a realtively new term), that socialism and communism are two different political visions (though the CCCP called themselves Soviet Socialists), that the most basic meaning of multiculturalism is that "people disagree" and, of course, the complaint that a post is "illogical and incoherent" because it gives evidence of the inconsistency between allegiance to that "disagreements" among Jews throughout the rabbibic tradition while somehow not offering allegiance elsewhere, a position deemed racist. Regarding whether posts relate to "our topic," this thread, stemming from Joffe's "Find, Fix, Finish," and immediately turned into a slur on Chabad--perhaps evidence of gentle, inclusive multiculturalism. As to "the scheme of things," many Jews not in the favor of many of those who post here are deemed out of the scheme, while there is a "true" sharia. So much for Jewish Ideas daily, which has now morphed into Muslims Ideas daily, and its passionate defense of Al-Ishtirākīya Al-'Arabīya. "True" sharia? Yet the comments seem to multi-cultural themselves away from a flirtation with a true Judaism, all the while complaining that not enough terms are defined. Here are two terms: slavery and freedom. Can we agree on what these mean, or are both part of the rich tapestry of multiculturalism that washes the "chosen people" into just another bunch of folks, just like Christians and Muslims and Hindus? Why people say they are Jews if Judaism is just something that should not be found special, unique and worthy of distinction? Or is Jewish Ideas Daily just too Jewish?
Jorge on May 11, 2012 at 1:53 pm (Reply)
The posting about attitudes toward non-Jews talks about halacha, but the cited example is aggadah. The distinction must be preserved. Random, often off-handed, statements of aggadah are usually of a homiletic or apologetic nature. The essence of traditional Judaism is halacha, legal enactments that are authoritative because they have been deliberated and officially vetted. S. Tuchman's remarks, therefore, are more cogent as representative of Jewish thinking than any aggadic observation.
Lisa on May 12, 2012 at 9:46 am (Reply)
The contention that in the 1930s "no . . . multi-culturalism was in evidence, it being a realtively new term" is silly. The word may not have existed, but the phenomenon--cultural and national diversity--most certainly did. Similarly, the word "genocide" did not exist until after World War II; but what it denotes took place many times before the 20th century (including the Bible's attitude toward Amalek).
SW on May 12, 2012 at 9:31 pm (Reply)
Mr. Joffe began his article: What is the threat? Al-Qaeda? "Terrorism"? "Violent religious extremism?" But we learn from so many comments that Chabad is the threat, that jihad rooted in the Torah is the threat--but not when practiced by Muslims, who must have learned it from Chabad. Let one not think that Islamist miliitancy is rooted in Islam, because multiculturalism declares this not true. Let one not think that it is rooted in Al-Ishtirākīya Al-'Arabīya, because the advocates of socialism, ignoring the term in Arabic, deem it not true. Apparently the threat is not what Joffe suggests. Apparently, we Jews are the threat to the complacency of other Jews for whom the loving embrace of socialism and multiculturalism will shield them from harm.
SW on May 13, 2012 at 2:56 am (Reply)
Multicultural? My family is of several nations and cultures. Multiculturalism as a policy is at the minimum the view that all cultures are equivalent in a sense of values. If a Jew does not believe that Judaism is a superior view of life when compared to some other "cultures," why is he or she specficially Jewish?
Joe on May 13, 2012 at 3:47 pm (Reply)
If the poster's family "is of several nations and cultures," why is he afraid to post under his/her real name? "If a Jew does not believe that Judaism is a SUPERIOR view of life..." THAT is the problem in a nutshell. The issue is not "superiority" but meaningfulness. Just because something is meaningful to me does not mean that such is true and the case for others--i.e., is "universal"--and, thus, that I may impose it upon them and employ it as a cudgel to beat them with, so I can feel better than they are and their superior.
Joe on May 13, 2012 at 3:54 pm (Reply)
With regard to the origins of the fear of multiculturalism, "If every prejudice is the rationalization of paranoia, paranoia is the rationalization of insecurity." - Rachel Shukert
SW on May 14, 2012 at 2:34 am (Reply)
Concluding that one view of life is superior to another is a valid Weltanschauung for one's self. To complain about this is to conclude that no view is superior to another, and that, in a nutshell, is exactly multiculturalism's failing. When no view is superior to another for the individual, that individual has no view at all except cultural relativism. What is "meaningful" about everything being of equal merit? If all "meaningfulness" is of the same value and merit, then nothing is evil and, of course, nothing is good. The Frankfurt School remains active therein.
Jerry Blaz on May 14, 2012 at 3:45 am (Reply)
I never had or wanted a choice of "cultures." I'm a Jew. Were I not Jewish, I would not be me. That doesn't mean that I'm every kind of Jew, but I am my kind of Jew, and that is good enough for me. Pluralism in Judaism means respecting the Jewishness of another Jew even if it is not your Jewishness.
Fred Davis on May 14, 2012 at 10:36 am (Reply)
Are Ashkenazism "superior" to Sephardim? Are Yekkas "superior" to Litvaks? Is a Charedi rabbi who is a child molester "superior" to a Catholic priest who is a child molester?
SW on May 14, 2012 at 2:06 pm (Reply)
"Pluralism in Judaism" is not well represented by a comment that names Chabad as the "ideological model of global Islamist insurgency." Pluralism among all religions throughout the world is not sensible when, around the world, many actively pursue war in Dar al-Harb. There are no comments about Al-Ishtirākīya Al-'Arabīya--as if the comments seek to avoid it, as they have sought to avoid Joffe's pointed question: What is the threat?
Jerry Blaz on May 15, 2012 at 3:53 am (Reply)
There was no mention of Chabad at all.
Abe on May 15, 2012 at 10:43 am (Reply)
Why hasn't the prolix poster responded to Mr. Davis' query? And let me add another one: Is Rabbi Meir Kahana "superior" to Mother Theresa? And the poster accuses others of "seeking to avoid" questions--such as his real name.

SW on May 15, 2012 at 11:53 am (Reply)
Please note the first post in this thread: '' The ideological model for the "global Islamist insurgency" is Chabad...''

In answer to Davis' question, I pose others: Is multiculturalism superior to pride in Judaism? Is socialism superior to capitalism? The game of questions seems futile.

The striking question throughout has been as Joffe asked, "what is the threat?" Given the kinds of responses while ignoring Al-Ishtirākīya Al-'Arabīya, I think to many here herein I might be a "threat!"
Joe on May 16, 2012 at 10:39 am (Reply)
re the 11:53 posting- if the sandal fits....

"Intolerance, whatever its object, is at heart a form of conspiracy theory. Xenophobia, homophobia, racism are all essentially predicated on the idea that the members of the despised group are plotting to take something away from the bigot." - Rachel Shukert

And for the 11:53 poster, those plotters are Al-Ishtirākīya Al-'Arabīya and the Frankfurt School. (If he were not Jewish, it would be Jews.)

Comments are closed for this article.

Like us on Facebook! Follow us on Twitter! Pin us on Pintrest!

Jewish Review of Books

Inheriting Abraham