Friday, August 23, 2019

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, August 23, 1939

Treaty of Nonaggression Between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

The Government of the German Reich and the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics desirous of strengthening the cause of peace between Germany and the U.S.S.R., and proceeding from the fundamental provisions of the Neutrality Agreement concluded in April 1926 between Germany and the U.S.S.R., have reached the following agreement:
Article I
Both High Contracting Parties obligate themselves to desist from any act of violence, any aggressive action, and any attack on each other either individually or jointly with other powers.
Article II
Should one of the High Contracting Parties become the object of belligerent action by a third power, the other High Contracting Party shall in no manner lend its support to this third power.
Article III
The Governments of the two High Contracting Parties shall in the future maintain continual contact with one another for the purpose of consultation in order to exchange information on problems affecting their common interests.
Article IV
Neither of the two High Contracting Parties shall participate in any grouping of powers whatsoever that is directly or indirectly aimed at the other party.
Article V
Should disputes or conflicts arise between the High Contracting Parties over problems of one kind or another, both parties shall settle these disputes or conflicts exclusively through friendly exchange of opinion or, if necessary, through the establishment of arbitration commissions.
Article VI
The present treaty is concluded for a period of ten years, with the proviso that, in so far as one of the High Contracting Parties does not denounce it one year prior to the expiration of this period, the validity of this treaty shall automatically be extended for another five years.
Article VII
The present treaty shall be ratified within the shortest possible time. The ratifications shall be exchanged in Berlin. The agreement shall enter into force as soon as it is signed.

Done in duplicate, in the German and Russian languages.

Moscow, August 23, 1939.

For the Government                 Plenipotentiary of the                                   
of the German Reich:                Government of the U.S.S.R.:
v. Ribbentrop                              V.Molotov                 

Secret Additional Protocol

On the occasion of the signature of the Nonaggression Pact between the German Reich and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics the undersigned plenipotentiaries of each of the two parties discussed in strictly confidential conversations the question of the boundary of their respective spheres of influence in Eastern Europe. These conversations led to the following conclusions:

1. In the event of a territorial and political rearrangement in the areas belonging to the Baltic States (Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), the northern boundary of Lithuania shall represent the boundary of the spheres of influence of Germany and the U.S.S.R. In this connection the interest of Lithuania in the Vilnius area is recognized by each party.

2. In the event of a territorial and political rearrangement of the areas belonging to the Polish state the spheres of influence of Germany and the U.S.S.R. shall be bounded approximately by the line of the rivers Narew, Vistula, and San.

The question of whether the interests of both parties make desirable the maintenance of an independent Polish state and how such a state should be bounded can only be definitely determined in the course of further political developments.

In any event both Governments will resolve this question by means of a friendly agreement.

3. With regard to Southeastern Europe attention is called by the Soviet side to its interest in Bessarabia. The German side declares its complete political disinterestedness in the areas.

4. This protocol shall be treated by both parties as strictly secret.

Moscow, August 23, 1939.

For the Government                 Plenipotentiary of the                                   
of the German Reich:                Government of the U.S.S.R.:
v. Ribbentrop                              V.Molotov                 


Molotov-Ribbentrop: why is Moscow trying to justify Nazi pact?

Vyacheslav Molotov (left) signs the pact as Joachim von Ribbentrop (centre) and Joseph Stalin watch

Conversation between Obersturmbannfuhrer Liss  and Mostovskoy  on the similarities between Nazism and Stalinism

Vasily Grossman - Life and Fate

Mikhail Mostovskoy was kept for over three weeks in the isolation ward. He was fed well, examined twice by an SS doctor, and prescribed injections of glucose.

During his first hours of confinement Mostovskoy expected to be summoned for interrogation at any moment. He felt constantly irritated with himself. Why had he talked with Ikonnikov? That holy fool had betrayed him, planting compromising papers on him just before a search.

The days passed and Mostovskoy still wasn't summoned… He went over the conversations he had had with the other prisoners about politics, wondering which of them he could recruit. At night, when he couldn't sleep, he composed a text for some leaflets and began compiling a camp phrase-book to facilitate communication between the different nationalities

He remembered the old laws of conspiracy, intended to exclude the possibility of a total débâcle if an agent provocateur should denounce them.

Mostovskoy wanted to question Yershov and Osipov about the immediate aims of the organization. He was confident that he would be able to overcome Osipov's prejudice against Yershov.

Chernetsov, who hated Bolshevism and yet longed for the victory of the Red Army, seemed a pathetic figure. Now Mostovskoy felt quite calm about the prospect of his impending interrogation.

One night Mostovskoy had a heart attack. He lay there with his head against the wall, feeling the agony of a man left to die in a prison. For a while the pain made him lose consciousness. Then he came to. The pain had lessened, but his chest, his face and the palms of his hands were all covered in sweat. His thoughts took on a deceptive clarity.

His conversation about evil with the Italian priest became confused with a number of different memories: with the happiness he had felt as a boy when it had suddenly begun to pour with rain and he had rushed into the room where his mother was sewing; with his wife's bright eyes, wet with tears, when she had come to visit him at the time he was in exile by the Yenisey; with pale Dzerzhinsky whom he had once asked at a Party conference about the fate of a young and very kind Social Revolutionary. 'Shot,' Dzerzhinsky had answered… Major Kirillov's gloomy eyes… Draped in a sheet, the corpse of his friend was being dragged along on a sledge – he had refused to accept his offer of help during the siege of Leningrad.

A boy's dreamy head and its mop of hair… And now this large bald skull pressed against the rough boards.

These distant memories drifted away. Everything became flatter and lost its colour. He seemed to be sinking into cold water. He fell asleep – to wake up to the howl of sirens in the early-morning gloom.

In the afternoon he was taken to the sick-bay bath. He sighed as he examined his arms and his hollow chest. 'Yes, old age is here to stay,' he thought to himself.

The guard, who was rolling a cigarette between his fingers, went out for a moment, and the narrow-shouldered, pock-marked prisoner who had been mopping the cement floor sidled over to Mostovskoy.

'Yershov ordered me to tell you the news. The German offensive in Stalingrad has been beaten off. The major told me to tell you that everything is in order. And he wants you to write a leaflet and pass it on when you have your next bath.'

Mostovskoy wanted to say that he didn't have a pencil and paper, but just then the guard came in.

As he was getting dressed, Mostovskoy felt a small parcel in his pocket. It contained ten sugar lumps, some bacon fat wrapped up in a piece of rag, some white paper and a pencil stub. He felt a sudden happiness. What more could he want? How fortunate he was not to have his life drawing to an end in trivial anxieties about indigestion, heart attacks and sclerosis.

He clasped the sugar lumps and the pencil to his breast.

That night he was taken out of the sick-bay by an SS sergeant. Gusts of cold wind blew into his face. He looked round at the sleeping barracks and said to himself: 'Don't worry, lads. You can sleep in peace. Comrade Mostovskoy's got strong nerves – he won't give in.'

They went through the doors of the administration building. Here, instead of the stench of ammonia, was a cool smell of tobacco. Mostovskoy noticed a half-smoked cigarette on the floor and wanted to pick it up.

They climbed up to the second floor. The guard ordered Mostovskoy to wipe his boots on the mat and did so himself at great length. Mostovskoy was out of breath from climbing the stairs. He tried to control his breathing.

They set off down a strip of carpet that ran down the corridor. The lamps – small, semi-transparent tulips – gave a warm, calm light. They walked past a polished door with a small board saying 'Kommandant' and stopped in front of another door with a board saying 'Obersturmbannfuhrer Liss'.

Mostovskoy had heard the name 'Liss' many times: he was Himmler's representative in the camp administration. Mostovskoy was amused: General Gudz had been annoyed that he had only been interrogated by one of Liss's assistants while Osipov had been interrogated by Liss himself. Gudz had seen this as a slight to the military command.

Osipov had said that Liss had interrogated him without an interpreter; he was a German from Riga with a good knowledge of Russian.

A young officer came out, said a few words to the guard and let Mostovskoy into the office. He left the door open.

The office was almost empty. The floor was carpeted. There was a vase of flowers on the table and a picture on the wall: peasant houses by the edge of a forest, with red tiled rooves.

Mostovskoy thought it was like being in the office of the director of a slaughterhouse. Not far away were dying animals, steaming entrails and people being spattered with blood, but the office itself was peaceful and softly carpeted – only the black telephone on the desk served to remind you of the world outside.

Enemy! That word was so clear and simple. Once again he thought of Chernetsov – what a wretched fate during this time of Sturm und Drang! But then he did wear kid gloves… Mostovskoy glanced at his own hands, his own fingers.

The door opened at the far end of the office. There was a creak from the door into the corridor – the orderly must have shut it as he saw Liss come in.
Mostovskoy stood there and frowned.

'Good evening!' said the quiet voice of a short man with SS insignia on the sleeves of his grey uniform.

There was nothing repulsive about Liss's face, and for that very reason Mostovskoy found it terrible to look at. He had a snub nose, alert dark-grey eyes, a high forehead and thin pale cheeks that made him look industrious and ascetic.

Liss waited while Mostovskoy cleared his throat and then said:

'I want to talk to you.'

'But I don't want to talk to you,' answered Mostovskoy. He looked sideways into the far corner, waiting for Liss's assistants, the torturers, to emerge and give him a blow on the ear.
'I quite understand,' said Liss. 'Sit down.'

He seated Mostovskoy in the armchair and then sat down next to him.

Liss spoke in the lifeless, ash-cold language of a popular scientific pamphlet.

'Are you feeling unwell?'

Mostovskoy shrugged his shoulders and said nothing.

'Yes, yes, I know. I sent the doctor to you and he told me. I've disturbed you in the middle of the night. But I want to talk to you very badly.'

'Oh yes,' thought Mostovskoy.

'I've been summoned for interrogation,' he said out loud. 'There's nothing for us to talk about.'

'Why do you say that?' asked Liss. 'All you see is my uniform. But I wasn't born in it. The Fuhrer and the Party command; the rank and file obey. I was always a theoretician. I'm a Party member, but my real interest lies in questions of history and philosophy. Surely not all the officers in your NKVD love the Lubyanka?'

Mostovskoy watched Liss's face carefully. He thought for a moment that this pale face with the high forehead should be drawn at the very bottom of the tree of evolution; from there evolution would progress towards hairy Neanderthal man
'If the Central Committee orders you to step up the work of the Cheka, are you in a position to refuse? You put Hegel aside and get working. Well, we've had to put Hegel aside too.'

Mostovskoy glanced at Liss. Pronounced by unclean lips, the name of Hegel sounded strange and blasphemous… A dangerous, experienced thief had come up to him in a crowded tram and started a conversation. He wasn't going to listen, he was just going to watch the thief's hands – any minute now a razor might flash out and slash him across the eyes.

But Liss just lifted up the palms of his hands, looked at them and said: 'Our hands are like yours. They love great work and they're not afraid of dirt.'

Mostovskoy frowned deeply: it was horrible to see this gesture and hear these words that so exactly mimicked his own.

Liss began to speak quickly and with enthusiasm, as though he had talked to Mostovskoy before and was glad to have the opportunity to resume the conversation. The things he said were extraordinary -terrible and absurd.

'When we look one another in the face, we're neither of us just looking at a face we hate – no, we're gazing into a mirror. That's the tragedy of our age. Do you really not recognize yourselves in us – yourselves and the strength of your will? Isn't it true that for you too the world is your will? Is there anything that can make you waver?'

His face moved closer to Mostovskoy's.

'Do you understand me? I don't know Russian well, but I very much want you to understand me. You may think you hate us, but what you really hate is yourselves – yourselves in us. It's terrible, isn't it? Do you understand me?'

Mostovskoy decided to remain silent. He musn't let Liss draw him into conversation.

But he did think for a moment that, rather than trying to deceive him, the man looking into his eyes was searching for words quite earnestly and sincerely. It was as though he were complaining, asking Mostovskoy to help him make sense of something that tormented him.

It was agonizing. It was as though someone had stuck a needle into Mostovskoy's heart.

'Do you understand me?' Liss repeated, already too excited even to see Mostovskoy. 'When we strike a blow against your army, it's ourselves that we hit. Our tanks didn't only break through your defences – they broke through our own defences at the same time. The tracks of our tanks are crushing German National Socialism. It's terrible – it's like committing suicide in one's sleep. And it might well end tragically for us. Do you understand? Yes, even if we win! As victors we would be left on our own – without you – in a world that is alien to us, a world that hates us.'

It would have been easy enough to refute all this. Liss's eyes had now drawn still closer to Mostovskoy's. But there was something even more dangerous than the words of this experienced SS provocateur. It was what stirred in Mostovskoy's own soul – his own vile, filthy doubts.

He was like a man afraid of an illness – of some malignant tumour – who won't go near a doctor, tries not to notice his indispositions and avoids talking about sickness with anyone close to him. And then suddenly someone comes up to him and says: 'Say, have you ever had such and such a pain, especially in the mornings, usually after…? Yes, yes…'

'Do you understand me, teacher?' asked Liss. 'A certain German -I'm sure you know his brilliant work – once said that Napoleon's tragedy was that he embodied the soul of England and yet in England herself found his most deadly foe.'

'If only they'd start beating me up!' thought Mostovskoy. And then: 'Ah, now he's on about Spengler.'

Liss lit a cigarette and held out his cigarette case to Mostovskoy.

'No,' said Mostovskoy abruptly.

He felt somehow calmed by the thought that all the policemen in the world – the ones who'd interrogated him forty years ago and the one talking about Hegel and Spengler right now – should use this same idiotic technique of offering their victim a cigarette. Yes, it was just that his nerves were weak – he'd been expecting to be beaten up and suddenly he'd had to listen to this horrible, absurd talk. But then even some of the Tsarist police had known a little about politics – a few of them were really quite educated, one had even read Das Kapital. But had there ever been a moment when a policeman studying Marx had wondered, deep in his heart: 'What if Marx is right?' What had the policeman felt then…? But what of it? Mostovskoy had trampled on his doubts too. Still, that was different -he was a revolutionary.

Not noticing that Mostovskoy had refused the cigarette, Liss muttered: 'Yes, that's right, it's very good tobacco.'

He then closed his cigarette case and began again. He sounded genuinely upset.

'Why do you find this conversation so surprising? What did you expect me to say? Surely you have some educated men at your Lubyanka? People who can talk to Academician Pavlov or to Oldenburg? But I'm different from them. I've got no ulterior motive. I give you my word. I'm tormented by the same anxieties as you are.' He smiled and added: 'My word of honour as a Gestapo officer. And I don't say that lightly.'

'Don't say anything,' Mostovskoy repeated to himself, 'that's the main thing. Don't enter into conversation. Don't argue.'

Liss went on talking. Once again he seemed to have forgotten about Mostovskoy.

'Two poles of one magnet! Of course! If that wasn't the case, then this terrible war wouldn't be happening. We're your deadly enemies. Yes, yes… But our victory will be your victory. Do you understand? And if you should conquer, then we shall perish only to live in your victory. It's paradoxical: through losing the war we shall win the war- and continue our development in a different form.
Why on earth had this all-powerful Liss, instead of watching prize-winning films, drinking vodka, writing reports to Himmler, looking at books on gardening, re-reading his daughter's letters, having fun with young girls from today's transport, or even just taking something for his digestion and going to sleep in his spacious bedroom – why on earth had he decided to summon an old Russian Bolshevik who stank of the camps?

What did he have in mind? Why was he keeping his motives so secret? What was the information he wanted?

Mostovskoy wasn't afraid of torture. What did terrify him was the thought: 'What if the German isn't lying? What if he's sincere? What if he really does just want someone to talk to?'

What a horrible thought! They were both ill, both worn out by the same illness, but one of them hadn't been able to bear it and was speaking out, while the other remained silent, giving nothing away, just listening, listening…

Finally, as though answering Mostovskoy's silent question, Liss opened a file on his desk and very fastidiously, with two fingers, took out some sheets of dirty papers. Mostovskoy immediately recognized them as Ikonnikov's scribblings.

Liss evidently expected him to feel consternation at the sight of the papers planted on him by Ikonnikov… But he felt quite calm. He even felt glad to see these scribblings: once again everything was clear – as absurdly simple as every police interrogation.

Liss pushed the papers to the edge of the desk and then drew them back again. Suddenly he began to speak in German:

'I've never seen your handwriting, but I knew from the first words that you could never have written rubbish like this.'

Mostovskoy remained silent.

Liss tapped his finger against the papers. He was inviting Mostovskoy to speak, affably, insistently, with good will…

Mostovskoy remained silent.

'Have I made a mistake?' asked Liss in surprise. 'No, it's not possible. You and I can feel only disgust at what's written here. We two stand shoulder to shoulder against trash like this!'

'Come on now,' said Mostovskoy hurriedly and angrily. 'Let's get to the point. These papers? Yes, they were taken from me. You want to know who gave them to me? That's none of your business. Maybe I wrote them myself? Maybe you ordered someone to plant them on me…? All right?'

For a moment he thought Liss would accept his challenge, lose his temper and shout: 'We have ways of making you answer!'

He would have liked that so much. That would make everything so straightforward, so easy. What a clear, simple word it was – 'enemy'.

But Liss only said: 'Who cares about these wretched papers? What does it matter who wrote them? I know it was neither of us. Just think for a moment! Who do you imagine fill our camps when there's no war and no prisoners of war? Enemies of the Party, enemies of the People! Yes, and if our Reich Security Administration accepts prisoners of yours in peacetime, then we won't let them out again – your prisoners are our prisoners!'

He grinned.

'The German Communists we've sent to camps are the same ones you sent to camps in 1937. Yezhov imprisoned them: Reichsfuhrer Himmler imprisoned them… Be more of a Hegelian, teacher.'

He winked at Mostovskoy.

'I've often thought that a knowledge of foreign languages must be as useful in your camps as it is in ours. Today you're appalled by our hatred of the Jews. Tomorrow you may make use of our experience yourselves. And by the day after tomorrow we may be more tolerant again. I have been led by a great man down a long road. You too have been led by a great man; you too have travelled a long, difficult road. Did you really believe Bukharin was an agent provocateur? Only a very great man could lead people down a road like that… I knew Roehm myself; I trusted him. But that's how it had to be… What tortures me, though, is the thought that your terror killed millions -and we Germans were the only ones who could understand, the only men in the world who thought: "Yes, that's absolutely right, that's how it has to be!"

'Please try to understand me – as I understand you. This war ought to appal you. Napoleon should never have fought against England.'

Mostovskoy was struck by a new thought. He even screwed up his eyes – either because of a sudden stab of pain or to get rid of this tormenting thought. What if his doubts were not just a sign of weakness, tiredness, impotence, lack of faith, comtemptible shillyshallying? What if these doubts represented what was most pure and honourable in him…? And he just crushed them, pushed them aside, hated them! What if they contained the seed of revolutionary truth? The dynamite of freedom!

All he need do to defeat Liss, to push aside his sticky, slippery fingers, was stop hating Chernetsov, stop despising that holy fool Ikonnikov! No, no, he had to do more than that! He had to renounce everything he had stood for; he had to condemn what he had always lived by.

No, no, he had to do more than that! With all the strength of his soul, with all his revolutionary passion, he would have to hate the camps, the Lubyanka, bloodstained Yezhov, Yagoda, Beria! More than that…! He would have to hate Stalin and his dictatorship!

More than that! He would have to condemn Lenin…! This was the edge of the abyss.

Yes, this was Liss's victory – not in the war running its course on the battlefields, but in the war of snake venom, the war without gunfire he was waging against him in this office.

For a moment Mostovskoy thought he was about to go mad. Then he let out a sudden joyful sigh of relief. The thought that had horrified and blinded him had turned into dust. It was absurd and pathetic. The hallucination had lasted only a few seconds… But still, how was it that for even a second – a fraction of a second – he could have doubted the justice of a great cause?

Liss looked at him and pursed his lips.

'Do you think the world looks on us with horror and on you with hope and love?' he asked. 'No, the world looks on us both with the same horror!'

Mostovskoy was no longer afraid of anything. Now he knew where his doubts led: they didn't lead into a swamp – they led to the abyss.
Liss picked up Ikonnikov's papers.

'How can you have anything to do with people like this? Everything's been turned upside down by this accursed war… If only I could unravel this tangle!'

There is no tangle, Herr Liss. Everything's very simple and very clear. We don't need to ally ourselves with Chernetsov and Ikonnikov to overpower you. We can deal with both them and you…

Mostovskoy realized that everything dark and sinister was embodied in Liss. All rubbish heaps smelt the same; there was no difference between one lot of splintered wood and crushed brick and another. One shouldn't look to garbage and debris in order to understand similarities and differences; one should look to the thoughts, the design, of the builder.

Mostovskoy found himself gripped by a joyful, triumphant rage – against Liss and Hitler, against the English officer with the colourless eyes who had asked him about criticisms of Marxism, against the sickening speeches of the one-eyed Menshevik, against the mawkish preacher who had turned out to be a police agent. Where would these men ever find people stupid enough to believe that there was the faintest shadow of resemblance between a Socialist State and the Fascist Reich? The Gestapo officer Liss was the only consumer of their rotten goods. Now, as never before, Mostovskoy understood the inner link between Fascism and its agents.

And wasn't this the true genius of Stalin? He had hated and annihilated these people because he alone had seen the hidden brotherhood between Fascism and the Pharisees who advocated a specious freedom. This thought now seemed so obvious that he wanted to explain it – to bring home to Liss the full absurdity of his theories. But he contented himself with a smile: he'd been around a long time; he wasn't like that fool Goldenberg who'd blathered to the Public Prosecutor about the affairs of 'People's Will'. [42]
He stared straight at Liss. Then, in a voice that could probably be heard by the guard on the other side of the door, he said: 'The best advice I can offer you is to stop wasting your time on me. You can stand me against the wall! You can hang me! You can do me in however you like!'

'No one here wishes to do you in,' Liss answered hurriedly. 'Please calm down.'

'I'm quite calm,' said Mostovskoy brightly. 'I've got nothing to worry about.'

'But you do have something to worry about. You should share my sleeplessness. What is the reason for our enmity? I can't understand… Is it that the Fuhrer is a mere lackey of Stinnes and Krupp? That there's no private property in your country? That your banks and factories belong to the people? That you're internationalists and we're preachers of racial hatred? That we set things on fire and you extinguish the flames? That the world hates us – and that its hopes are centred on Stalingrad? Is that what you people say…? Nonsense! There is no divide. It's just been dreamed up. In essence we are the same – both one-party States. Our capitalists are not the masters. The State gives them their plan. The State takes their profit and all they produce. As their salary they keep six per cent of the profit. Your State also outlines a plan and takes what is produced for itself. And the people you call masters – the workers – also receive a salary from your one-party State.'

Mostovskoy watched Liss and thought to himself: 'Did this vile nonsense really confuse me for a moment? Was I really choking in this stream of poisonous, stinking dirt?'
Liss gave a despairing wave of the hand.

'A red workers' flag flies over our People's State too. We too call people to National Achievement, to Unity and Labour. We say, "The Party expresses the dream of the German worker"; you say, "Nationalism! Labour!" You know as well as we do that nationalism is the most powerful force of our century. Nationalism is the soul of our epoch. And "Socialism in One Country" is the supreme expression of nationalism.

'I don't see any reason for our enmity. But the teacher of genius, the leader of the German people, our father, the best friend of all German mothers, the brilliant and wise strategist, began this war. And I believe in Hitler. And I know that Stalin's mind is in no way clouded by pain or anger. Through all the fire and smoke of war he can see the truth. He knows his true enemy. Yes – even now when he discusses joint military strategy with him and drinks to his health. There are two great revolutionaries in the world – Stalin and our leader. It is their will that gave birth to State National Socialism.

'Brotherhood with you is more important to me than territory in the East. We are two houses that should stand side by side… Now, teacher, I want you to live for a while in quiet solitude. I want you to think, think, think before our next conversation.'

'What for? It's all just nonsense. It's absurd and senseless!' said Mostovskoy. 'And why call me "teacher" in that idiotic way?'

'There's nothing idiotic about it,' replied Liss. 'You and I both know that it's not on battlefields that the future is decided. You knew Lenin personally. He created a new type of party. He was the first to understand that only the Party and its Leader can express the spirit of the nation. He did away with the Constituent Assembly. But just as Maxwell destroyed Newton's system of mechanics while thinking he had confirmed it, so Lenin considered himself a builder of internationalism while in actual fact he was creating the great nationalism of the twentieth century… And we learnt many things from Stalin. To build Socialism in One Country, one must destroy the peasants' freedom to sow what they like and sell what they like. Stalin didn't shilly-shally – he liquidated millions of peasants. Our Hitler saw that the Jews were the enemy hindering the German National Socialist movement. And he liquidated millions of Jews. But Hitler's no mere student; he's a genius in his own right. And he's not one to be squeamish either. It was the Roehm purge that gave Stalin the idea for the purge of the Party in 1937… You must believe me. You've kept silent while I've been talking, but I know that I'm like a mirror for you
– a surgical mirror.'

'A mirror?' said Mostovskoy. 'Every word you've said from beginning to end is a lie. It's beneath me to refute your filthy, stinking, provocative blatherings. A mirror? You must be crazy. But Stalingrad will bring you back to your senses.'

Liss stood up. In painful confusion, feeling both hatred and ecstasy, Mostovskoy thought, 'Now he's going to shoot me. That's it.'

But Liss seemed not to have heard Mostovskoy. He bowed from the waist.

'Teacher,' he said, 'you will continue to teach us and continue to learn from us. We shall think together.'

Liss's face was sad and serious, but his eyes were laughing.

Once again the poisoned needle entered Mostovskoy's heart. Liss looked at his watch and said: 'Well, time will tell.'

He rang a bell and said quietly: 'You can have this back if you want it. We shall meet again soon. Gute Nacht!'

Without knowing why, Mostovskoy picked the papers up and thrust them into his pocket.

He was led out of the administration building and back out into the cold night. Cool damp air, the howl of sirens in the gloom before dawn
– how pleasant it all was after the Gestapo office and the quiet voice of the National Socialist theoretician.

A car with violet headlamps passed them as they reached the sick-bay. Mostovskoy realized that Liss was on his way home. Once again he was seized by a deep melancholy. The guard took him to his cubicle and locked the door. He sat down on the boards and thought: 'If I believed in God, I would think that terrible interrogator had been sent to me as a punishment for my sins.'

A new day was already beginning and he was unable to sleep. Leaning back against the rough, splintering planks of pine that had been knocked together into a wall, Mostovskoy began to peruse Ikonnikov's scribblings.

Trump explains: I meant Jews are disloyal to Israel, not the US.

From the Jerusalem Post:

Trump told reporters at the Oval Office on Tuesday that Jews who vote for Democrats “shows either total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

Clarifying his remarks on Wednesday, Trump denied his comments were racist and told reporters: “If you vote for a Democrat, you’re being disloyal to Jewish people and you’re being very disloyal to Israel.”

This is an accurate statement.

Jonathan Rosenblum put it best with this comment in Mishpacha in 2013: “The failure of American Jewry during the Holocaust pales besides that of American Jewry today. By virtue of its unshakable adulation of Obama, American Jewry has watched calmly as he placed 6 million Jews in Israel under threat of extinction from an Iranian nuclear bomb.”

Trump has every right to make a statement of fact, like 2+2 = 4, that the majority of American Jews support a party which bent over backwards to back two Muslim congresswomen who had given numerous anti-Semitic statements, who support BDS which economically wants to destroy Israel, and whose anti-Semitism is the direct consequence of the anti-Semitism of Islamic ideology, another fact everyone is too politically correct to mention. While we may dislike that it is Trump who is stating the obvious, everyone else is apparently too pc to do so. 

Yasmine Mohammed

“Western democracies are suffering from a toxic mix of arrogance and naiveté that makes them complacent,” said Mohammed, who highlighted this challenge only days after an eruption between Israel and the American Left over a proposed visit to the Jewish state by pro-BDS representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. “They underestimate the power of Islam, they look at what Islamists have done in other countries and they arrogantly think: ‘That won’t happen to us’ – even though it is happening right under their noses.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

“Islamists have understood well how to couple Muslim anti-Semitism with the American left’s vague notion of “social justice.” They have succeeded in couching their agenda in the progressive framework of the oppressed versus the oppressor. Identity politics and victimhood culture also provide Islamists with the vocabulary to deflect their critics with accusations of “Islamophobia,” “white privilege” and “insensitivity.” A perfect illustration was the way Ms. Omar and her allies were able to turn a House resolution condemning her anti-Semitism into a garbled “intersectional” rant in which Muslims emerged as the most vulnerable minority in the league table of victimhood.”

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Ex-Muslim to 'The Jerusalem Post’: Trying to teach ‘naive West’ about true nature of Islam

Yasmine Mohammed 


Yasmine Mohammed has a story that sounds like an adventure novel. The ex-Muslim, as she calls herself, escaped a forced marriage to an Al Qaeda operative, who was bailed out of prison by Osama bin Laden himself. 

Now, the author of Confessions of an Ex-Muslim is open about her past so she can help others, she told The Jerusalem Post. Mohammed says that she is on a mission to help closeted apostates living in Muslim-majority countries, and to teach the “naive West” about the true nature of Islam.

The educator and author has become a prominent voice within the growing global ex-Muslim community, speaking extensively to audiences worldwide. 

It all started when she was a child.

Mohammed grew up in Canada. Her typical Western childhood was interrupted when her mother married a devout Muslim; the little girl went from riding her bike and going swimming to wearing a hijab and enduring beatings for not memorizing the Quran. 

Years later, under the torment of a horrific forced marriage, she would risk her life braving an escape in a bid to rescue her daughter from the threat of female genital mutilation. 

“I lived every aspect of Islam up to actually being a jihadi,” said Mohammed. “I was the embodiment of an extremist Muslim. To see someone like me change so resolutely to a person who is in many ways the complete antithesis of who I was, speaks to the power of human resilience.”

The “catalyst” for Mohammed to start speaking out was the now infamous 2014 clash between Ben Affleck and Sam Harris on The Bill Maher Show where they debated about radical Islam. When her Facebook page was inundated with people praising Ben Affleck for shutting down “that racist Sam Harris,” she realized things were profoundly twisted and the time had come to speak up. 

“Everything Sam Harris said was spot on,” explained Mohammed, “I could not understand why so many people were in agreement with Ben Affleck’s stand – and there began a public chapter in my life. I went on to discover the global secular humanist movement and took it upon myself to enlighten others,” through my own experience.

“Western democracies are suffering from a toxic mix of arrogance and naiveté that makes them complacent,” said Mohammed, who highlighted this challenge only days after an eruption between Israel and the American Left over a proposed visit to the Jewish state by pro-BDS Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. “They underestimate the power of Islam, they look at what Islamists have done in other countries and they arrogantly think: ‘That won’t happen to us’ – even though it is happening right under their noses.”

At the heart of this naiveté is a disturbing alliance between Islam and the Left. A toxic partnership, she said, which sees high officials embracing Muslim traditions with "gestures" such as Hijab Day. 

“The hypocrisy of the Left is never more pronounced than when it comes to the topic of hijab,” Mohammed said. “As women in the West demand for themselves the right to wear what they want – in fact to be topless if they so choose – those same women will celebrate hijab. 

“They splash hijab on Barbie dolls, on [modeling] runways and on the cover of magazines,” said Mohammed. “A tool of oppression – a garment that perpetuates rape culture – is celebrated by women who claim to be progressive. They want freedom for themselves, but are happy to support the subjugation of other women. If they actually truly cared, they would be celebrating the women in Iran that are being arrested for defying the compulsory hijab laws.” 

This hypocrisy is best demonstrated through the likes of women marchers led by Linda Sarsour. 

“How can a woman that celebrates the antisemitic, anti-woman, anti-LGBT Louis Farrakhan, lead a liberal march?” asked Mohammed. “She stands in conservative religious clothing claiming that she stands for progressive values; she says we should not humanize Israelis while she claims that Palestinians are being dehumanized; she is best friends with terrorists such as Rasmeah Odeh, while pretending that she is all about peace and humanity.”

Mohammed launched “No Hijab Day,” celebrating the millions of women across the globe who have to defy laws and risk imprisonment, abuse and even honor killings to remove that cloth off their heads. 

“Women are forced to wear it all over the planet,” Mohammed said, “by their families that threaten to kill them for removing it as in my case. Or  they actually are killed for removing it.”

She also founded the Free Hearts Free Minds organization, which provides psychological support for ex-Muslims living within Muslim majority countries, where the state-sanctioned punishment for leaving Islam is death. 

Mohammed has stern words for the Obama administration, which “made a grave mistake” by highlighting an Islamist that praises the Muslim Brotherhood. 

“In the White House, they celebrated a woman who has spoken about the virtues of Sharia,” she added. “World leaders should invest time studying the history of Islam and look at the modern rise of Islamism through groups like the Muslim Brotherhood.”

About the Jews, she said that the general experience for Muslims is that of “pervasive hate for Jewish people – and this is learned from a young age.

“In Muslim communities, the word for Jew is not only used as a pejorative, it is used as a curse word. It is a hate that permeates so much so that it is invisible: It is just accepted."

“Never once, as a Muslim, did I stop to think about why we were to hate Jewish people so much,” she continued. “It’s like asking a child why they hate monsters. It is just a learned behavior that rarely gets questioned, and the hate of Israel is an extension of that. The hope to annihilate all Jewish people is based on the religion that teaches there will only be peace on earth once all Jews are killed by righteous Muslims.  

“There is a Hadith that states that Jewish people will not even be able to hide, as even the rocks and trees will call out: ‘Oh Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me.’”

Mohammed is “consumed with shame and guilt” over the hatred she was forced to carry for the Jewish people. She said that once she started to actually meet Jewish people, she realized the weight of the lie she had been told. 

“I feel humbled at how not one single Jewish person has ever allowed me to feel this guilt; they always quickly remind me that I was a child and that I should forgive myself," she continued. “One of the first Jewish people I met when I was still a child wearing hijab immediately smiled and called me their family, their cousin – but I was mortified and disgusted that this person would associate me with them. 

“That is how blinding the hate is,” she said, explaining that remembering that incident is “a shocking reminder of how much I have changed – and a testament to the fact that anyone else that harbors this hate can change as well.”


My comment:

Have we reached critical mass regarding reporting in the West on Islam? It seems that cognitive dissonance has reached such magnitude that there is no other way than tell the truth.    An article like this one would have been unthinkable only a few years ago.  What is more, today’s JP has another article on Iran by Lela Gilbert:      “I think policymakers in the West should take the IRI official’s apocalyptic vision seriously,” he told me, “because that is what drives Tehran’s decision-making process. Preparing the ground for the reappearance of the Hidden Imam is the Islamic Republic’s raison d’etre. Ignoring it leads to misinterpretation of Tehran’s actions and miscalculation by Western policymakers.”

Friday, August 16, 2019

Brexit Countdown

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Putin on MAD and martyrs



In “US, Russia nuke tensions may be even worse than Iran threat” (August 12), Yonah Jeremy Bob writes, “The threat posed by a potential nuclear Iran is no laughing matter. But neither is the escalating threat of a nuclear exchange between the US and Russia.”

The Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) doctrine is still in effect between the US and Russia, but does not apply to Iran, since, as Bernard Lewis warned, “For people with this mindset, MAD is not a constraint; it is an inducement...”

Speaking to an audience of international experts in Sochi last October, Russian President Vladimir Putin said: “The aggressor will have to understand that retaliation is inevitable, that he will be destroyed and that we, as victims of aggression, as martyrs, will go to heaven. They will simply croak because they won’t even have time to repent.”

This may indicate that Putin’s concept of the MAD doctrine differs from the classic Soviet one. Is this just rhetoric or should Putin’s invocation of martyrs be a reason for serious concern?


Saturday, August 3, 2019

Nazi Swastika Flag Raised by Palestinian Rioters During Unrest on Israel-Gaza Border

 A Nazi swastika flag raised on the Israel-Gaza Strip border, Friday, Aug. 2, 2019. Photo: IDF.

How dumb is the world?

Richard Landes: Caliphaters and Apocalyptic Jihad: The Most Powerful Millennial Movement

Transcript available below

About the speaker

Dr. Richard Landes is a Senior Fellow at the Center for International Communication at Bar-Ilan University (2015 to present). He is the author of a number of books, including Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of the Millennial Experience.
Of his topic, he says: “Millennial movements seek to usher in ‘heaven on earth,’ a messianic era in which evil has been destroyed and good finally triumphs. When motivated by a sense of imminent success, apocalyptic-millennial movements move into active phase. The most dangerous of all these movements are those which believe in an active cataclysmic scenario (we are the agents of the necessary and massive destruction of evil that will clear the path), leading to an imperial millennial dream (we will rule the world). Currently Global Jihad represents one of the largest and most dangerous of all such movements known in history. The current ignorance of Westerners about this dimension of the problem and its dynamics constitutes a major weakness in our ability to resist. Worse, certain Western responses enable this movement.”
Dr. Landes taught history at Boston University for 25 years and was Director and co-founder of the Center for Millennial Studies. For four years prior, he taught at the University of Pittsburgh. He is also the editor of The Apocalyptic Year 1000: Studies in the Mutation of European Culture; and Encyclopedia of Millennialism and Millennial Movements.
He received an M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton University in history and a B.A. from Harvard University. He also attended the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris.


Robert R. Reilly:

Dr. Richard Landes is a senior fellow at the Center for International Communications at Bar-Ilan University and that he has been since 2015 to the present. He’s the author of a number of books, including Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of the Millennial Experience, which pertains to the subject he’s addressing this evening, about which he says, “Currently global jihad represents one of the largest and most dangerous of such movements known in history.” And I won’t give any more of his lecture tonight. I’ll let him do that.
As I mentioned, Professor Landes has taught for some three decades. Twenty-seven of those were at Boston University. He’s also taught at the University of Pittsburgh. I should mention at Boston University he was the Direcor and cofounder of the Center for Millennial Studies,. [He was] also the editor of The Apocalyptic Year 1000. It has a long subtitle, so I won’t want to take his time by getting it. He received both his MA and PhDs from Princeton University in History and a BA from Harvard. He also attended the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. Tonight, he addresses us on the Caliphaters, a wonderful neologism, “Caliphaters and Apocalyptic Jihad: The Dynamics of the Most Powerful Millennial Movement of the 21stCentury.” Join me in welcoming Richard Landes.

Richard Landes:

Thank you very much Bob and thank you all for coming. You force me to rethink certain things, which is always good. I just finished the manuscript. I still don’t have a publisher for it. The manuscript of a book that’s tentatively titled, “They’re so smart because we’re so stupid: A Medievalist Guide to the 21stCentury,” and the epigram to it is in the middle of the back of your page. If I were a Muslim, I would view the stupidity from Westerners as a sign from Allah that I should join global jihad, which alas is both funny and true.
So what I’d like to do is I’d like to start out briefly with definitions. You have them here. You can consult them as I go on, but briefly, the language that I use: I talk about eschatology, which is what happens at the end of time. In monotheistic religions that’s generally the Last Judgement and the end of the physical universe entirely, the saints go to heaven, the damned go to hell. I use millennial as a intermediary stage of this worldly perfection. In the Christian tradition it’s a thousand years. In some Jewish traditions it’s a thousand years, so as a result that’s where we get the term millennial, which is from mille-anus.
So millennialism is the goal of a perfect society on earth. It’s an enormously attractive idea no matter how unrealistic it ends up being. In fact, there are a whole range of millennial beliefs which are magical in which we’re going to live in a sort of magical society in which the earth is super abundant, in which the lamb lies down with the lamb. There’s a famous joke about the zoo exhibit, the messianic exhibit at the zoo with the [lion] and the lamb and somebody says, “Zookeeper, how do you do it?” He says, “Easy, new lamb every day.” So yeah, ouch, right. So that’s millennialism.
There are two broad varities of millennialism. One is egalitarian. Communism is a good example. Many of the Christian millennial movements, I think the apostles are a good example of an egalitarian, millennial community, but there’s also hierarchical versions in the Christian tradition you have the last emperor who is going to conquer the world and bring the benefits of peace top down instead of bottom up. These are, if you will, starting points because once people start to engage in the project of bringing about the millennium, they tend to move from one extreme to the other as for example the communists, who start out radically egalitarian and end up being ferociously totalitarian.
And then I use the term apocalyptic to describe two different elements. One is a sense of imminence. In my work on the Middle Ages I work on the idea that the end of the world will come six thousand years from creation, six days of creation, one day of rest, a thousand years is a day in the sight of the lord, six thousand years of travail and then a millennial sabbatical millennium. And that idea was introduced to sort of calm people down and say yes, Jesus is going to come back, but you have to wait another three hundred years. And then what’s interesting is what happens as the date approaches, but that’s a different story and a different lecture.
But there are non-apocalyptic, millennial beliefs and in some sense all of us, all Westerners, all monotheists, have somehwere embedded in their psyche this notion that at the end of time, all the mess will be sorted out, the good who suffer will be rewarded and the evil who inflict that suffering will be punished. So in some senses millennialism, apocalypticism, eschatology, it’s all about theodicy, it’s all about god’s justice, which in the current world is not always so visible and in the Middle Ages was even less visible.
So apocalyptic is the belief that it’s happening now and that is the key idea because it activates what otherwise– I mean Marx called it ‘pie-in-the-sky, bye-and-bye’. Well, it’s not ‘pie-in-the-sky, bye-and-bye’, it’s pie-in-the-sky right now and it’s pie-on-earth right now and ironically, Marx was one of the millennialists who spent a lot of energy denying it. I’ll come back to that in a second, but in any case, the point about apocalyptic is on the one hand timing, it’s now, and on the other hand, what’s the scenario where by you get from this world, which is filled with evil and filled with suffering, to the world in which evil is vanquished and suffering disappears
And there are two basic scenarios or, if you will, there’s a kind of four square: on one axis is either violent or peaceful, what I call cataclysmic, apocalyptic or transformative, apocalyptic, so the idea that, you know, at the end of time they will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, nation will not lift up sword against nation nor study war anymore is a transformative notion. The warriors are voluntarily giving up their weapons of dominion and turning them into tools of honest labor, which is a classic, demotic, transformative vision of the end of time. The cataclysmic on the other hand tends to go on with a fairly negative view of human nature and not believe that people are capable of, you know, transforming themselves or being inspired to transform themselves to be inspired through terror and there’s lots of evil that just plain needs to be destroyed. So for example, the Book of Revelation and a number of the prophetic books in the Hebrew Bible contain some fairly elaborate descriptions of the kind of cataclysmic destruction that will happen before you get to either the Last Judgement or the millennium depending on what you think is coming.
There’s a comment that Eric Hoffer makes in a brilliant book called The True Believer in which he says, “Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all unifying agents. Mass movements can rise and spread without a belief in god, but never without a belief in the devil.”
So that goes hand in hand with this apocalyptic scenario of cataclysm. Now, the other axis is active and passive, so for example, in the scenario, the cataclysmic, apocalyptic scenario of Revelation, I call that a passive scenario because humans play no role in the destruction. It’s divinely wrought destruction. The most dangerous form of apocalyptic movement is an active, cataclysmic movement. That means to say huge violence and destruction accompanies the resolution of history and we are god’s active agents in bringing that about. The alternative is active-transformative. I’ll come back to that when I discuss the modern Western, Progressive notions.
But this idea that we are agents of redemptive violence, that we must destroy the world to save it, which is the title of Robert J. Lifton’s book about the Aum Shinrikyo millennial movement in Japan. This is possibly the most dangerous idea ever. It’s one that has killed literally tens of millions of people and when people say, you know, ‘religion has caused more death than any other’, I would say active-cataclysmic millennialism has caused more damage than any other movement.
These ideas are – one historian of the phenomenon described it as ‘they catch like a forest fire’. Once these ideas take, you cannot argue people out of them, events will not necessarily sway them from believing in them. You will have a movement that if it takes well enough, you literally have a forest fire that at best you can direct, but basically is going to have to burn itself out and that’s why it is so dangerous to allow these movements to take, and that is exactly what I think is happening at the beginning of the 21st century, which is my talk today.
Just a quick list of the mega-deaths caused by active, cataclysmic, millennial movements: the Taiping in China between 1850 and 1864, fourteen years of millennial warfare against the Qing Dynasty produced somewhere between 25 and 30 million dead. We had the American Civil War, which could be argued had millennial dimensions to it. We had the American Civil War: 600,000 dead. Now, granted it didn’t last as long, but nothing compared to what was going on in China.
The Bolsheviks probably killed about 60 million people with their famines and their purges. The Nazis and the Japanese probably certainly caused the death of maybe 50 million people and the Maoists may have killed as much as 100 million Chinese with their actions. So before I go into my discussion of what I call Caliphaters as an active, cataclysmic movement, I’d like to spend a few moments on an actual active, transformative millennial movement that’s operating in plain sight, but neither recognizes itself as such nor do most of us recognize that, and it’s what I and they call the ‘global Progressive Left’.
So essentially this book I wrote describes how in the first years of the 21st century we made catastrophic decisions and strengthened enormously an active, cataclysmic movement. The second half, the second part is six different major players in this, two of which I will discuss tonight, on the one hand the global Progressive Left and on the other hand the Caliphate.
So the global Progressive Left. One of the mutations that occurs in the West that’s particularly interesting is the development of what some of us call secular millennialism, in other words millennialism without god. People also refer to it as utopianism. One of the interesting things about secular millennialism – Marx for example was accused of being a chiliast, the Greek word for a thousand, and he was indignant and insisted that it was science and not any kind of you know either literary text or strange prophecies that moved his scenario. It was science. Of course, it was his reading and it proved as inaccurate as all previous millennial movements.
But not unless one of the basic principles of millennial studies is wrong, but all the movements, the apocalyptic movements, which we historians study, were wrong, the world did not come to an end. The millennium did not come, so they’re all wrong, but one of the basic rules is wrong does not mean inconsequential and in fact, these are some of the most consequentially wrong movements in the history of mankind.
Now, what is the basic creed of the global Progressive Left today? Which goes back to earlier, but I think that you know Woodstock is a good example of an apocalyptic moment and it’s fifty years ago, so… But Woodstock is a good example of this transformative, apocalyptic movement. I dreamed, I saw the bomber jet planes, riding shotgun in the sky, turning into butterflies across our nation. We are stardust, we are golden, and we’ve got to get back to the garden. That’s a millennial song.
And this is after World War II and it’s sort of the apotheosis of Liberal, Progressive thinking and it runs something like this. First of all, the key element at least in late-20th, early 21st century Progressive millennialism is the idea that you transgress boundaries, that all boundaries create conflict, us-and-them, all nationalism is bad, all of these things, even gender is problematic and so on – believe it or not.
So transgressing boundaries is the key and treating us-and-them attitudes, you know, my tribe right or wrong. That kind of stuff is primitive. It’s driven by honor/shame. It’s not good. We need to rise above it. We need to have instead of viewing the other as an enemy or a potential enemy, we need to have empathy with the other and that empathic connection to the other will transform society.
There’s a book by Jeremy Rifkin literally called The Empathic Civilizationor something and literally he believes that we are on the verge of, you know, literally rising a whole level of evolution in which we replace our suspicion and hostility and fear of the other, alterophobia. We transform that into an embrace.
So Jacques Derrida was the creator of the exegetical system now as deconstruction literally defines this. He’s very much into the other and so on – he literally describes, the attitude that we need to have to the other is to deconstruct the self, so that you make space for the other to feel at home. It’s a fascinating idea when it’s applied in certain very limited cases where you really – like a marriage for example – you know, okay, but between nations and between cultures, there are some problems, but the whole point about apocalyptic belief and millennial belief is that once you start along a path, you just keep going. Talk about slippery slopes. So you know, if deconstructing is good within a marriage and it brings intimacy, how much the better if we deconstruct the entire world and get rid of all tribes, get rid of all identities, we’ll all become you know citizens of the world and so on.
Empathy, dignity, it’s an interesting notion. I work on honor/shame issues and honor is a commodity that’s limited. Some people have honor, other people don’t have honor. It’s impossible for everybody to have honor. Everybody can have dignity, but honor is, particularly in a stratified society, is something that the elites have and commoners don’t. Manual labor is literally a kind of stigmatizing, degrading act, which is why the egalitarian, millennial movements see this as the apotheosis of the manual laborer, swords into plowshares, spears into pruning hooks.
So empathy, dignity, the deconstruction of the self. One of the memes of this is who are we to judge? Who are we to judge other people? Well, you know, one might say look, withholding judgement until you have more information and not rushing to judgement is a good idea, but never judging? You know, any animal that can’t detect an enemy is in deep trouble and any society that can’t detect an enemy and mobilize it is in deep trouble, and I would say that’s our current condition.
So we have breaking down boundaries, gender, nation-state, religions, racism, ethnicities. We have a sort of worship of positive sum in which everything should be positive sum and there should be no zero sum and there’s no question that modern Western society has done more to develop positive sum relations between people than certainly any society in recorded history. We have a remarkable culture in which we urge cooperation on levels that most cultures can’t and one of the good examples of how hard it is is the European Union. I think I still have time for this and given the laughter, you probably want more.
In 2005, there were two series of books that came out. One series of books was warning that Europe was going down the tubes, Bat Yeor’s Eurabia, Melanie Phillips’ Londonistan, Mark Stein America Alone, Bruce Bawer While Europe Slept. The same year a series of books came out. Mark Leonard I think wrote a book called Why Europe Will Run the 21st Century. Another one was how the United States of Europe is going to eclipse the United States of America. And a series of these triumphalist books – Rifkin wrote one as well– that praised the European Union because the European Union was based on soft power and not hard power, and the future was to soft power.
And soft power is essentially the ability to convince people to act in certain ways rather than to force them to act in certain ways. And it’s a good thing, but there can be too much of a good thing sort of like too much oxygen can kill you. We need zero sum relations and in fact, one of the reason we have sports is precisely built around these zero sum relations. On the other hand, what we have in the messianic movement that I’m trying to describe to you is something very different. That is everything should be positive sum and probably the best place to see that is in a field of academic study, claiming to be scholarship, and there are departments or programs in this field, which calls itself peace and conflict studies.
And peace and conflict studies is basically ‘we can work it out’. They listen to The Beetles too much. If we’re just nice enough to the others, they won’t be hostile with us. And in fact, one of the striking things about peace and conflict studies is the degree to which they’re hostile to people who want to resist the hostility of others and this came out recently in a case of some poor guy who was at a midwestern university and forced to take this for credits or whatever. And they’re discussing what do you do if there’s a shooter. And he said, you know, shoot him, and the reaction was: absolutely not. You must not do that. So it’s conflict averse, which is good, I mean it’s good that we’re not looking for a fight. But when a fight looks for you and you’ve been trained, literally it is a kind of…
For me one of the most ironic things about the 20th century is that in the entire history of Christianity – and as a medievalist I think I can talk about this – in the entire history of Christianity, there has never been a Christian nation, which took the Sermon on the Mount as a guide to foreign policy. Now, in a post-Christian, allegedly atheist society, they want us to adopt the Sermon on the Mount as foreign policy.
So, peace and conflict studies, human rights discourse, I’m not going to go into too much detail because I want to get to my real topic, which is the Caliphaters. So here you go. Just a couple of brief, cute phrases to give you an idea of the messianic dimensions of what we’re talking about.
Post-modern one can characterize as the renouncing of the hubris of Western exceptionalism, objectivity, science, phallogocentrism, what’s today called white priviege, so the West is not the best. Okay. Post-colonialism, brought to us by none other than Edward Said, is blaming Western imperialism for all of poverty and misery that exists in the world. The West is not just not the best, it is the worst.
And what you have is – with intersectionality and the analysis of systemic racism of the privileged – what you have is what Bertrand Russell called the ‘fallacy of the virtue of victimhood’, which is that if you’re a victim, then you are virtuous, and if you are not a victim and in fact seem to be victimizing the other, then you must be bad. I’m quoting here from the Green Deal, which describes the people who we have – we, Westerners – are guilty of turning into people of well, shall we call them ‘the suffering’, indigenous peoples, people of color, migrant communities, de-industrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low income workers, women, the elderly, unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth. And our job is to bring these previously marginalized and underrepresented voices into- welcome them in our public sphere.
Now, on campuses that’s led to some pretty horrendous events, sort of what Ashley Thorne calls ‘Staged Emergencies‘, where you know there’s this hue and cry about racism on campus and certain people get targeted as hate speakers and in some cases driven off of campus or completely intimidated and marginalized. So you let in marginal voices who then take over and marginalize other people.
The result of all this is a dominant cadre of intellectuals in the West who are appeared to adopt the basic principle that if the weak attack the stronger, blame the stronger, even though it means theirculture is the stronger. So it’s not the ecumenical or civil society principle of whoever’s side is right, but the post-modern version of this is theirside is right. And as a result you end up with a, if you will, a mindset which is perfectly primed to be the victim of what I’m about to describe, which is the caliphater-cognitive war. So let me turn to the Caliphaters.
I define Caliphaters – and it’s interesting because I had a Muslim Uber driver who brought me here today and he asked me did I live here, what’s your talk about, so he was actually pretty receptive, he was secular. By the way, according to Ibn Warraq who’s been doing a study of this, about 25% of Muslims who come to Western countries become atheists, which is a surprisingly high number. It also gives you insights into the insecurities of the clerics.
But in any case, so I define a Caliphater as a Muslim – and it can be a convert – a Muslim who believes that in this generation there will be a global caliphate. So the millennial dream, which is embedded I think – I mean I wouldn’t say all of Islam because I don’t know, but all of the Islam that I’ve read there is embedded in it this belief that when the Last Judgement does come, it’s the Muslims who will be saved and not the unbelievers. And so if the millennial version of that is not the Last Judgement and the end of the world, but a universal caliphate or to paraphrase Freud, where there was Dar al-Harb, there shall be Dar al-Islam and we are the ‘where there was’.
Okay, so you have this apocalyptic dimension, it’s going to happen in this generation, you have the millennial dimension of a global caliphate, and you have the active dimension of god chose me to be born now, I’m in a millennial generation, which I think plenty of us back when we were naive teenagers around the late ’60s, early ’70s, believed that we were that golden generation. I write about that generation. My medieval work is about that generation between 1000 and 1033.
So millennial generations are not rare if there not common or if the really strong ones are uncommon, but this idea that I live in a generation and what I do participates in this redemptive, collective action, which is going to bring history to an end. It’s an imperial millennial dream that is that Islam rules the world.
For jihadis, it’s an active scenario. For jihadis, it’s an active, cataclysmic scenario. That is that enormous damage has to occur, massive death needs to occur in order for the true way to dominate the way it was meant to, and in ISIS you can see I think- It’s a medieval principle, actually. J. Cascon articulated it rather well, which is you are utterly ruthless and people will not resist you. If you’re merciful, people say eh, you’re not going to shoot me, and you end up with no end of trouble or what is it that Dread Pirate Roberts says? If I don’t kill you, people will see me as weak and then it’s just work, work, work.
So jihadis are active-cataclysmic. Suicide terror, which is a tremendously powerful weapon: suicide was literally created within Hamas in the early period of the 1980s, early ’90s, suicide terrorism, and it was within this apocalyptic, millennial framework. Hamas believed that they were going to lead the Muslim world in the war against the infidels. Jihadism thrives on chaos. In other words, the more unrolled the war is, the better it is for the jihadis. They get to train. This is literally how they see the world. They make the world into the evil place that they want to fix and it’s really ferocious and we can see it in a number of places.
Let’s start with Kashmir and then move to the Levant, Iraq, Iran- well, no, mostly Iraq and Syria now, and Sudan, and Yemen, and Nigeria. All of these places are sort of perfect Petri dishes for producing jihadis, some of whom right now want to come back. But I don’t want to focus on the jihadis right now. What I want to focus on is the other ones. You could call them transformative because they seem to be nonviolent, but I wouldn’t do that because they’re not really about transformation. They are the nice guy to the jihadi tough guy and they’re working towards the same dominion. They are using each other.
Here, with these people, what we’re dealing with is a form of what some of us call cognitive warfare, and cognitive warfare is what you engage in when you’re in an asymmetric war and you are the weaker side. You cannot win in an all out military or what’s called kinetic battle. You can’t win the kinetic war. You have to win a cognitive war beforehand in which you change the rapport de force, the balance of forces in which you change them, so that you can then engage in a kinetic war that will bring you your victory.
In many cases this kind of cognitive war and guerrilla warfare that accompanies it has been to chase out some invading force, some imperial force, whether it’s the Maccabees and the Greeks or it’s the Vietnamese and the French and then the Americans. That kind of a cognitive war you can understand. What we’re dealing with however, is an absolutely extraordinary form of cognitive war, namely, an invasive one.
So it’s not that you have to convince the enemy that it’s not worth hanging around, which is what the Vietnamese convinced us. You have to convince the enemy to stand down while you take over. I once described this to somebody. This woman gave me a ride somewhere and she said, “Well, that’s ridiculous. Who would do that?” And I said, “We’re doing it.” She paused and she said, “Oh.”
But yeah, okay, so kinetic warfare: you give up because it’s what you want to do, so what you have here on the second page of your handouts is what I call the jihadi prayer to Allah and it’s basically, imagine in the year 2000 when jihad has been successful to some extent. Bin Laden has kicked the Russians out of Afghanistan, the Iranian government has been taken over by theocrats and so on, but it’s still a daunting task to attack the West head on.
And so this is the prayer I imagined if I were a, you know, not somebody who wanted to get killed in war, but somebody who wanted to survive to victory in the end, and if I were thinking about what do I need, what do I need Allah to bring to us so that we can succeed in this ludicrous, you know, Don Quixote-like tilting at, destroying the most powerful nation and the most powerful cultures on the planet. And remember, late 20th century, the Soviet Union has fallen, you know, Fukuyama’s announcing the end of history because bourgeoisie, liberal society has won and there’s nobody who can take us on. Well, think again.
So this is the prayer. “Oh Allah, the most merciful, give us enemies who help us disguise our ambitions, even our acts of war, blinding themselves to our deployment that targets them.” So we have that today, we have a whole range of journalists and pundits and specialists who will say there are no no-go zones in Europe. In fact, the mayor of Paris insisted after the attack and was just indignant, ‘we have no no-go zones’.
We have the same thing with not reporting or reporting as little as possible or identifying as little as possible the Muslim origin of various attacks, so you’ll get an attack and in some cases you won’t find out that it’s a Muslim until later, so you have to be following the story in order to stay up with it.
How many of you followed the bombing in Lyon? Okay, so a week later we find out it’s an Algerian. Somebody knew right away it’s an Algerian. A week later we find out it’s an Algerian, and the papers are filled with testimonies about what a nice person he was, he must have gone crazy.
And the French are particularly good at this. They’ll get to this guy who tortured and killed this Jewish doctor, Sarah Halimi, for hours, reciting Quranic verses while the cops outside were waiting for backup. He was immediately whisked off to a mental institution and will be tried as in terms of an insanity plea.
On the one hand, we don’t report. Muslims in Britain, it’s always a reference to South Asians, which is their way of referring to Pakistani and Indian Muslims. Benghazi is probably another good example of that kind of reporting.
The next prayer, ‘Give us infidels. Give us enemies who will accept those of us who fight with dawn as moderates who have nothing to do with the violent extremists’. And here, the most obvious and most powerful case in the United States is CAIR. It is just astounding the degree to which it has made its way into the mainstream.
‘Choose these false prophets as advisers and consultants in intelligence and police services and as community liaison.’ That’s the theme of Melanie Philips Londonistan, and this is true. You talk to genuinely moderate Muslims who are committed to civil society and not the ultimate dominion of Islam and they will tell you that they are systematically being marginalized by their communities.
And it’s not that they don’t represent the majority of the people – it’s not clear how many they do represent, but the people who control the public approval or disapproval are people like CAIR and they’re the ones that we empower with our policies and we treat the others as somehow- It’s like the Woody Allen joke about I wouldn’t belong to a club that would have me as a member. I don’t believe a Muslim who actually admires my society. In fact, I had dinner last night with Ibn Warraq, and that’s what happened to him. It’s sort of like we turn our back on the very people who can save us and Islam.
So let’s go on. Choose moderates. ‘Verbally attack anyone, including Muslims who criticize Islam, as Islamophobic’. And the recent accusation of the Southern Poverty Law Center declaring Maajid Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali as Islamophobes is a good example of that.
And it’s astonishing the degree to which the Southern Poverty Law Center still has credibility and still gets used. And these are the kinds of lists that then get used by Facebook and Twitter, etc., etc. to ban people as Islamophobes, and just recently there were two administrators at Stanford who objected to somebody coming and what stuck in my mind about this objection was that this person had claimed that some Muslims have a tendency towards violence.
Now, as far as I understand it Islamophobia is sort of saying ah, they’re all jihadi, but to not be able to say that some of them are is absolutely astonishing and of all the sort of cognitive war weapons that we need to deconstruct and that have been used against us in terrible ways, Islamophobia is probably the single greatest weapon.
In England, if you are accused of Islamophobia, your career is over. You’ll lose your job. And if you’re a politician, you’ll lose your position. And it’s insane that that should be. The irony of course is that it’s not actual Islamophobia, we’re not actual Islamophobes when we’re accused of Islamophobia, we’re critics of various behaviors and ideas that are to be found in Islam.
Now, Western civilization would not be Western civilization if we’re not able to criticize our traditions, and yet here, we have this medieval religion that has not had anything near the sort of self-critical rounds that Christianity and Judaism have been through, which is basically, we’re told, off limits for criticism. I’ll come back to that in a moment.
The next prayer, ‘Give us enemies who believe that except for a tiny minority, the vast majority of Muslims are moderate and peaceful, and that we’re a religion of peace’, and that is exactly what George Bush four days after 9/11, four days, with the now-head of CAIR right behind him. That was a Dhimmi speech. I’ll come back to that.
Alright, George Bush, but the Pope says the same thing, Obama says the same thing, and Hillary Clinton says the same thing. This is a widespread meme. I remember after 9/11 and Bush’s speech thinking, okay, I understand why he has to say that, it’s a diplomatic thing, but surely historians will set the record straight. And instead, a whole bunch of people like John Esposito took over, saying yes, it’s true, Islam is a religion of peace.
As a medievalist, I can tell you that there is no religion with a longer history of belligerence against its neighbors than Islam. Medieval Christianity doesn’t have a great record, but it’s nothing compared to the constant warfare.
I mean the whole conception of Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb. We are harbis. You know what a harbi is? Harb is from the Semitic herev sword, so in the Messianic verse that I recited to you earlier from my Isaiah: “Nation will not lift up sword against nation,” so harb is the world of harb, which is where we are, and we are harbis, meaning we are destined to the sword. Okay, so it’s built in to the religion and we are told, no, no, no, and if you say it isn’t, you’re an Islamophobe.
‘Oh, Allah, give us enemies who report our war propaganda as news.” Now, I’ve worked a lot on this. I’m not going to go into it now. But basically, in the year 2000, the media reported Palestinian claims about Israeli atrocities as news.
The murder of Muhammad al-Durrah, the massacre at Jenin, and so on, and so forth, they reported this as news, violating every single principle of the modern journalism that they were supposed to be practicing, and essentially engaging in what I call not just lethal journalism, which is reporting one side’s lethal narrative propaganda as news, but [unintelligible] journalism, which is reporting your enemy’s propaganda as news to your own audience, which is the ultimate betrayal.
And if you think we’re in bad shape because of fake news, the first piece of fake news of the 21st century was the story of Muhammad al-Durrah, the boy who was allegedly gunned down by the IDF, in the arms of his father, and it was seen by the whole world on television. I won’t go further on that.
But you know you have the same thing, the Muhammad cartoons. Three of the cartoons were made by the people who were objecting to depicting Muhammad as a cartoon and they were by far the most disgusting. There was Muhammad being buggered by a dog, there was Muhammad as a pig, and I forget what the third one was, but they were really disgusting, and that’s what blew up the Muslim Street.
And instead of Westerners saying, ‘Woah, what’s going on here? You guys really believe this is blasphemy when you make your own Muhammad cartoons?’ We go, ‘Oh, what can we do to apologize?’ That’s chapter four.
Among the things at Abu Ghraib was a fake video taken from a porn site of American soldiers raping Arabs and again, that’s what drove people up a wall, and it even passed muster – not quite, but it made its way on to the pages of The Boston Globe.
So you have these pieces of war propaganda that are designed to incite hatred of Muslims against the enemies and a sense of victimization because in many Muslim arguments jihad is a defensive action, so you need to build up this sense of being assaulted by the outside.
So you end up with all of these things. The Pope’s Regensburg address in which he was accused of saying all Muslims are violent when he was in fact quoting a 14th century Christian Emperor who said that and he was disagreeing with it and nonetheless, we get riots in the Muslim street around the world.
Riots: ‘how dare you say we’re violent’. And we’re not laughing. The intellectual and the cultural elite in the West is looking at the Pope and saying apologize, which is what happened with the Danish cartoon scandal.
‘Give us enemies who adopt our apocalyptic enemy Israel as their own, so that they can join us in an attack on one of their key allies’. The UN, the European Union, the whole BDS movement, all of these things are essentially adopting the Muslim apocalyptic narrative in which we are – their term for it is ad-dajjal, our term for it is antichrist – we are the cosmic force of evil, and if only we will be defeated, then everything will work out just fine.
‘Give us enemies who legitimate our terror as resistance and denounce any violence in their own defense as terrorism’. Reuters after 9/11 refused to use the word terrorism to describe what had happened and they were soon followed by the BBC and other journals, who had no problem in fact viewing what happened to America as our chickens coming home to roost, but eventually, by The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, and so on, a whole series of editorials, explaining how one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.
And the irony of all of this is the last thing that Calipher-jihadis are is freedom fighters. They are imperialists, the worst, the most ruthless kind. And the press is saying, well, you know, and of course, what’s the way that sneaks into the system? It’s Palestinian terrorists are freedom fighters because we buy this narrative that what they want is their own state, a democratic state side-by-side with Israel.
‘Give us enemies who legitimate our terror,” so Chomsky’s an example. After 9/11, he said ‘America’s the worst terrorist in the world, and in fact, their attack on us is well deserved’. Well, you probably all know about Reverend Wright’s speech about roosters coming home to roost, so if you go online and YouTube it, you will come upon some really extraordinarily well done videos in which as he’s talking you get illustrations of American, colonial, imperialist aggression the world over to illustrate what’s he’s saying. So like Chomsky and Reverend Wright cheer on jihad.
The reason that they’ve been so successful is that they are pitching directly to the millennial fantasies of the Progressive Left, who happen to have almost – and it’s happened over the last twenty years, it didn’t happen automatically or immediately – but almost a stranglehold on the public’s fear and the ability to talk about these things. That’s the role that Islamophobia has played.
And so there’s no way in the world- not only is there no way in the world I’m going to write for The New York Times, there’s no way in the world The New York Times is going to review a book of mine. Well, medieval book maybe, but it wasn’t popular enough, but the millennial book should have been and it wasn’t because the last chapter is basically about Islam as a millennial movement. And my editor at Oxford basically said this spoils the whole book.
Anyway, okay, why did they succeed? After 9/11, I remember reading an article about somebody in the Department of Agriculture who had been approached by Muhammad Attah for a $600,000 loan to buy a crop-duster without outsized tanks. And what he was planning to do was fill it with poison gas and fly it over an urban area, and she said, we didn’t give it to him because he wasn’t an American citizen. And his response was, ‘you’re racist’.
I thought about it. I thought, holy mackerel! This guy could [not] care less about racism. He looks at us the way a racist looks at somebody of a different color. He is just as us-them and hostile as what he’s accusing this woman of being, and of course, this woman is a nice woman. In fact, if you look at the interviews of the guys who let Muhammad Attah and the other guys board the plane, they were to some extent embarrassed into letting them on because they didn’t want to confront them.
So you have this phenomenon of confrontation. So I turned to a bunch of friends of mine at that time and I said what’s the word for somebody who uses the language of human rights and democracy and the principles of democracy without having any commitment whatsoever to those principles in order to weaken the people who do have a commitment to those principles?
And of my friends came up with the word demopathy. You’ve got sociopaths, you’ve got psychopaths, you’ve got demopaths. It’s maybe not the best word, but I haven’t seen anything better for it and demopathy is basically – and we have jihadis saying this, we have caliphaters saying this – you use democracy to destroy democracy. That’s a formula. You demand rights that once you’re in power, you would never grant to anybody else.
You use enemy terms to have them adopt your cause, so you talk about justice, and dignity, and human rights, and you condemn racism, and islamophobia, and hate speech. And when you engage in it, for example, against Israel, ‘hey, I’m just criticizing, what they can’t take criticism?’ It turns out the people who can’t take criticism are the Islamists and not the Zionists.
Another term for this is hypocrisy. This hypocritical system only works because people are its dupes, and the post-modern Messianics are the perfect dupes for this kind of discourse. They have a framework in which everything in the world is about human rights and the violation of human rights and we’re building up an international law that’s going to stop people from preventing people from having their human rights, as if human rights were sort of there and they’ve been taken away.
I was going to start this speech with a quote from the Declaration of Independence, “hold these truths to be self-evident,” “that all men are created equal.” Well, for most of history it was not self-evident that people were created equal. In fact, if anything, it was self-evident that they were not created equal.
“Endowed with certain unalienable Rights.” Well, for most of human history those rights had been alienated. The Declaration of Independence is an inspiring rhetoric. It’s not a description of historical reality and yet, we take that as a description of historical reality, ‘everybody in the world has human rights that shouldn’t be alienated or can’t be alienated, and we’re going to stop people who try’, and that’s the paradigm that we work in.
They move into this so easily. The obvious place where they do this is the Palestinian claims. It’s all based on rights, including the right of return, which is an invented right, including the right to nationhood as if every people had a right to nationhood.
It may be that every people has a right to nationhood. It’s not exactly clear why yet one more majority Muslim country with a terrorist infrastructure is in the interest of the world. And yet, they have managed to convince everybody that if you just have Israel withdraw to the ’67 borders, everything will be fine, whereas, in fact, it will just be one more stage in a war.
I mentioned earlier these marginalized voices who stage emergencies and take over campuses and then purge the opposition. What we end up with is – to some extent you can explain the behavior of the Progressive Left in terms of their loopy, messianic extremism, but what you can’t explain is why even when it’s counter indicated, they continue to pursue it.
And the other explanation is a slightly more depressing one, which I put forward before you as a hypothesis rather than as a conclusion. And that is one of the striking things if you study the history of dhimmitude in Islam – everybody here knows what dhimmitude is – if you study the history of dhimmitude in Islam, it is absolutely clear that the job of the leaders of the dhimmi communities is to prevent their people from angering Muslims. Blaspheming, whatever behavior might provoke Muslim violence, it’s the leader’s job for the sake of his community to discourage that kind of behavior.
What I think we see today in many of our leaders, many professors who end up joining the staged emergencies in condemning their colleagues for hate speech that they never even bothered to read is what I call proleptic dhimmitude.
Proleptic is a fancy word for anticipative, but it’s got fewer syllables. And what it means is without even being conquered, they are behaving like dhimmi, and they are fulfilling the job of a dhimmi leader, which is to turn on anybody who might produce resistance. And there is actually nothing that an invasive, cognitive war strategy would more like to have than people who behave like that.
So let me conclude by saying that we are faced, and most of us here are of the older persuasion rather than the younger persuasion, actually, our young people are faced with a great war. It’s a cognitive war. It doesn’t have to be a war of killing. It has to be a war of courage and it has to be a war of backbone.
We really need to develop an ability to say wait a minute, this is totally wacky. We need to be able when somebody says, ‘oh, that’s just islamophobia’ to say ‘no, you can’t do that. You can’t use that word that way’ or ‘it’s racist’, ‘you’re a racist’.
I talk about honor/shame culture in the Middle East and I’m called a racist, and I say, it’s exactly not a racist argument, it’s a cultural argument. But I get accused of being a racist. So there are all kinds of ways that we can fight back, but we really have to. We really have to stop allowing ourselves to be stagecrafted by caliphater-dawaists, da-is, who are out there directing us as Nawad was directing President Bush in Washington before the television cameras. He basically gave a speech that any Muslim listening would have said, ‘a speech for jihad’. Alright, let me stop there.


Audience member:

Sir, Islamophobia should not be discounted by saying a phobia is an unreasonable fear. Given Islam’s history, fear is not unreasonable.

Richard Landes:

Right, no, that’s definitely a good point and the other thing, the other question that I want asked is if a phobia is an irrational fear, what’s the term for an irrational lack of fear? Yes, stupidity, somebody said. Yes?

Audience member:

I wanted to ask you about what I think is probably an original origin of our problem in the West. Dominant school child psychiatrist, psychology and all the other major institutions say that the worst thing a child can do is hit a bully.

Richard Landes:


Audience member:


Richard Landes:

Well, that’s peace and conflict studies.

Audience member:

I’m just wondering if this passivity and lack of self-defense in childhood is not an origin of the problem we have today.

Richard Landes:

Yeah, and in fact, you can link it to the confusion of gender boundaries, so there’s enormous discouragement at an early age in sort of you know testosteronic-behavior by males. In fact, when I was teaching my class in honor-shame and I talked about testosterone, I had a female student come to office hours and I say I’d like to write a paper about how we can get rid of testosterone.
So I told her the story, there’s a Hassidic story about how a village prayed to God to take away what’s called the sort of evil inclination. So God granted it. The next day they got up, everybody was peaceful, and went to get their eggs from their chickens and there were no eggs because without that there’s no life force. It’s a death force, but it’s also a life force, so how do we manage it not how do we exterminate it.
But yes, I do think this is all part of the same paradigm, which is you know let’s us all share, which is a great thing and anybody who’s had kids who don’t share, knows how awful things can get, but you always tell a kid always to share. Yes?

Audience member:

I’m a retired physicist, eighty-six years old. I have a very strong analytical capability from before school.

Richard Landes:

Okay, and you remember back that far.

Audience member:

And I see the problem with my children, one of them in particular, and my grandchildren. They don’t know how to think, particularly the grandchildren.

Richard Landes:


Audience member:

They can’t think.

Richard Landes:

I mean a lot of this has to do with the internet. You can teach them it, but they’re not learning it in school. Yeah?

Audience member:

You can teach them that. I allowed my daughter to watch something on television I totally despised and I sat there beside her and let her watch it. While she was watching it, I said do you think that’s correct? What do you think about that? That’s teaching her to question, to critically think. At the end of it, at a certain point, I turned it off, and then we had a discussion, so what I was doing was teaching her to think for herself.

Richard Landes:

Right, yep, so it can be done. I remember when I was nine or so, I was watching wrestling matches. My father saw me and he said, “Don’t you know those are all fake?” I said no. I was indignant because I really got into it and stuff, and then I stopped watching for a while, and then about two years later I came back and I looked it and thought, how could I have ever thought that was real? Yes?

Audience member:

You briefly touched the concept of dhimmitude. What is the difference between the dhimmis who belong to the category of People of the Book and others like Hindus or Buddhists or other nameless pagans? How are they treated differently in Islam?

Richard Landes:

So initially – and this is before Buddhists and Hindus got into the picture because it was Middle Eastern. Initially, it was basically, the People of the Book were the protected. Now, the way that the apologists say that dhimmi means protected makes it sound like you know this avuncular, warm arm around the community that’s protecting them, but in fact, what were they protecting them from? They were protecting them from Muslim violence.
Pagans, there was no protection from Muslim violence. Either they converted or, as idol-worshipers, they died, right? Now, most of the Middle East at the time was either Jewish or Christian, so it wasn’t a whole bunch of people – not that there weren’t, but okay. After the conquest first of Iran-Persia, where there were Zoroastrians, and then to India, where you have Hindus and Buddhists, they extended the notion of People of the Book because if they had slaughtered every last Hindu, peasant, idol-worshiper, it wouldn’t have worked. So I think that that’s how I understand it is they were sort of the clean-up operation for paganism in the ancient world and all that was left were the great religions, which isn’t true, but…

Audience member:

Hi, thank you so much. It was wonderful. I’m going back to the first millennials you were talking about, the progressive-left. ‘If the weak attack the strong, blame the stronger’ and connecting that with the Caliphaters, in particular, in the issue of South Sudan right now, where the weak are attacking the stronger, blame the stronger. The strongest tribal group in South Sudan, the Dinka, are being totally demonized and attacked by the world as being wanting to commit genocide against the other tribal groups.

Richard Landes:

Interesting, this is what’s happening in Burma too.

Audience member:

This fits into the caliphate vision of Khartoum as well, but we are following along with it because of our moral equivalence and I think that we have kept the war in South Sudan perpetuated because of that, because of what we have done, not because of what South Sudan has done.

Richard Landes:

Not only there, but in the Arab-Israeli conflict. You know, the Western progressive elite has insisted that this is a war of national liberation, it’s not terrorism, it’s freedom fighting, etc., etc., that Israel is the colonial power, and this is the basic paradigm of post-colonialism, BDS, and so on.
And instead, what I argue in my book is that the outbreak of the Second Intifada – what they call the Al Aqsa Intifada, what I call the Oslo Jihad – that was the first attack from Dar al-Islam on Dar al-Harb. Up until then, you know, the Russians invaded Afghanistan and you can argue the Jews invaded southern Syria, but what you have is the first assault on a working democracy.
And the rest of the democracies looked at Israel and said, oh, you’re a relic of the 19th century colonial imperial model whereas we’re progressive and we’re going to run the 21st century, and we’re siding with these poor, scrappy people, basically, Soviet-propaganda narrative.
Instead of recognizing this as the opening round of global jihad, we sided with the jihadis, and when the press reported in Spring of 2002 after a year-and-a-half of suicide bombings when the IDF went into Jenin, the press invented – they accepted a Palestinian narrative with no evidence whatsoever that there had been massacres of hundreds of people, mass graves.
In other words, the ‘IDF was behaving like Nazis’ and this news led people in the West to demonstrate against Israel, wearing suicide belts to show their solidarity with their enemies, so for me that is sort of the quintessential madness.
I use the expression in my book ‘Y2K mind’. Everybody remembers Y2K, the computer bug and stuff. Y2K means year 2000 and in the year 2000, it’s not that it didn’t exist before, but it took in as a meme, it took over our minds: ‘when jihadis attack a democracy, blame the democracy’, and that’s what they did with Israel, and that’s what the Europeans did with the United States and it’s been downhill ever since.

Robert R. Reilly:

Great, Dr. Landes, thank you very much.