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The Israelization of American Middle East Policy Discourse

Joel Beinin

Department of History

Stanford University

It is dimly possible to imagine that the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon could have provided an occasion to begin a serious national conversation about why some Muslims – relatively few to be sure - hate the United States enough to kill themselves to harm our country and its people. Instead, September 11 further consolidated an understanding of the world drawing sharp oppositions between “us” and “them” and positing Islam as the “new enemy for a new world order.”(1)

President Bush declared that “Islam is not the enemy.” Nonetheless, the administration and its allies – neoconservatives, the Christian right, and pro-Israel hawks - by promoting a vision of the world divided into the forces of freedom and “the evil ones”, encouraged this understanding. The proposition articulated in the president's January 2002 state of the union address that North Korea, Iran, and Iraq constitute an “axis of evil” may well be the most flawed and unsophisticated understanding of international affairs to have been offered by any head of state since the end of World War II.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon quickly identified with the Bush administration's post-September 11 world view and sought to turn it to Israel 's advantage. Announcing a day of mourning in Israel and appropriating rhetoric from the era of the Cold War, Sharon declared, “The fight against terror is an international struggle of the free world against the forces of darkness who seek to destroy our liberty and way of life. Together we can defeat these forces of evil.”(2) After September 11 Sharon repeatedly equated Usama Bin Laden and al-Qa'ida with those he regarded as Israel 's more direct enemies: Yasir Arafat and the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Lebanese Hizb Allah, Iraq, and Iran.(3) The Bush administration, with only minimal reservations, embraced this proposition. The consequence, was to give Sharon a nearly free hand in repressing the second Palestinian intifada, which erupted a year before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The American Council of Trustees and Alumni attempted to give a patina of intellectual legitimacy to the Bush administration's simplistic world outlook in a report entitled “Defending Civilization” released in November 2001. According to ACTA, criticism of the Bush administration's response to the September 11 attacks on campuses across the country is tantamount to negligence in “defending civilization” and proof that “our universities are failing America .” ACTA alleges that American universities have been brought to this sorry state by inadequate teaching of western culture and American history. Consequently, students and faculty do not understand what is at stake in the fight against terrorism and are undermining the defense of civilization by asking too many questions.

ACTA was founded by Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice-President Dick Cheney. Former Democratic vice-presidential candidate Senator Joseph Lieberman is a member of its national council. Lieberman criticized the report, though not too aggressively, after it appeared. Although she is no longer officially active in ACTA, a lengthy quote by Ms. Cheney appears on the cover of the report, suggesting that she supports its contents and giving the document the appearance of a quasi-official statement of government policy.

The original version of “Defending Civilization” named and quoted comments by 117 university faculty members and students in reaction to the September 11 attacks. ACTA's ire was aroused by my statement that, “If Usama bin Laden is confirmed to be behind the attacks, the United States should bring him before an international tribunal on charges of crimes against humanity.” Other remarks in the report's list of unacceptable speech included “Ignorance breeds hate” and “[T]here needs to be an understanding of why this kind of suicidal violence could be undertaken against our country.” After receiving considerable criticism, ACTA removed the appendix to the report containing the names and quotes.

Of course, ACTA's attack on American universities in the name of “defending civilization” was a ruse for pursuing its shared agenda with the Bush administration: suppressing any form of dissent from the militarized policy response to the September 11 attacks. By vilifying those who attempted to engage in a debate over foreign policy and by creating a list of those who did not religiously endorse the line of the Bush administration, ACTA revealed its affiliation with the McCarthyite tradition in American political life conflating dissent with treason.

It would be a grave error to imagine that only xenophobic conservatives have promoted a Manichaean view of the world, and in particular of the Arab and Muslim world. Over the last two decades this perspective has become institutionally entrenched among Washington policy makers, the leading think tanks that influence them, and much of the media that reports on their activities. This is an expression of what might be called the “Israelization” of American Middle East policy discourse.

There are two moments of departure for the emergence of this discourse: the 1979 Iranian revolution and Israel 's 1982 invasion of Lebanon . In the aftermath of these events U.S. citizens were targeted by radical Islamic forces. Because of the propensity for historical amnesia in our public culture, many Americans believed that there was no reason for those attacks.

Following the Iranian revolution and the overthrow of Muhammad Reza Shah, the U.S. embassy in Teheran was overrun on November 4, 1979 by militants claiming to follow the line of Ayatollah Khomeini. Fifty-two embassy staffers were taken hostage, precipitating a crisis that persisted for 444 days until January 20, 1981 . The immediate impetus for the seizure of the embassy was the news that the ousted Shah had arrived in the United States for medical treatment. The militants demanded that he be returned to Iran for trial.

In August 1953 this same Shah fled Iran following a botched coup by the CIA which sought to remove the nationalist government of Muhammad Mosaddeq because it had nationalized Iran 's oil. The CIA and its local allies regrouped. The coup succeeded; and Muhammad Reza Shah was restored to the Peacock Throne. Hence, the notion that the Shah's arrival in the United States was part of a plan to return him to power, although unsubstantiated, was not outlandish.

The seizure of the American embassy in Teheran was a manifestation of the internal struggle within the Iranian revolutionary regime. Through such public dramas Ayatollah Khomeini consolidated his leadership, imposed rule by mullahs loyal to him, and eliminated other elements of the revolutionary coalition that overthrew the monarchy from access to power. Relatively little of that story was prominently reported in the American corporate media.

At a press conference in February 1980 an unusually bold reporter asked President Jimmy Carter if the CIA's restoration of the Shah to power in 1953 might have something to do with arousing Iranian anti-American sentiment that expressed itself in the hostage crisis. Carter replied that this was “ancient history” and that it was not “appropriate or helpful” to discuss it. This answer suggests why the Carter administration may not have carefully considered the potential consequences of bringing the deposed Shah to the United States .

Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982 after receiving a “green light” from the Reagan administration, which hoped that this adventure would contribute to building an anti-Soviet strategic consensus in the Middle East . The hostilities were concluded with an agreement that the PLO would evacuate its fighters from Lebanon while the United States would guarantee the security of the Palestinian civilians left behind. U.S. marines landed, and then quickly departed after the evacuation of the PLO's armed forces, leaving the Israeli army in control of Beirut . Between September 16 and 18 Maronite Phalangists allied with Israel and commanded by Elie Hobeika raped, tortured, and murdered between 700 and 3,500 unarmed Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps under the eyes of Israeli soldiers. The failure of the United States to honor its promise to protect the Palestinians and its alliance with Israel undoubtedly aggravated anti-American sentiments among Lebanese and Palestinians.

None of those involved in the Sabra and Shatila massacre were ever brought to account. On June 18, 2001 , twenty-three survivors filed charges in a Belgian court against Ariel Sharon, Israel's Minister of Defense at the time of the massacre, for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. This is the man President Bush called “a man of peace” on April 18, 2002 – a description even Sharon's closest friends and political allies would not dare to propose to an Israeli audience more familiar with the string of atrocities linked to his name beginning in October 1953, when he led a retaliation raid/massacre of sixty-nine Palestinian civilians in the West Bank village of Qibya (then occupied by Jordan).

After the Sabra and Shatila massacre, U.S. forces returned to Lebanon and briefly participated in the civil war, underway since 1975, in support of Israel , which still occupied a large portion of the country, and the Phalangists. In April 1983 a car bomb at the U.S. embassy in Beirut exploded killing 63 people, including 17 Americans. Another car bomb at the U.S. marine barracks in Beirut in October killed 241 marines, the largest number of casualties suffered by U.S. armed forces since the Vietnam War.

The newly established Hizb Allah was responsible for these bombings. Shortly after Israel invaded Lebanon , Iranian revolutionary guards arrived in the country and encouraged the formation of Hizb Allah. The presence of the Iranians and Israel 's lengthy occupation of South Lebanon greatly accelerated the radicalization of the Lebanese shi`a community. In addition to the bombings of the U.S. embassy and the marine barracks and other attacks on U.S. , British, and French citizens, from 1982 to 1992 organizations apparently lined to Hizb Allah abducted some forty-five U.S. , British, and French citizens and held them hostage for varying lengths of time.

The reasons for the attacks on Americans by Muslims in Iran and Lebanon were unknown and unexplained to most ordinary Americans. This allowed scholars, journalists, and pundits with an antipathy to Islam and a commitment to maintaining Israel as the principal U.S. ally in the Middle East to disseminate a highly simplified explanation of their meaning. The most prominent of the scholars who have lent their names to a policy of confrontation with Islam is Bernard Lewis. His arguments for the incompatibility of Islam with modern Western values have earned him an honored place at Princeton University , in Congressional hearings, television studios, and the pages of many scholarly and popular periodicals. His perspective was taken up and generalized by Samuel Huntington in his notorious “clash of civilizations” thesis. The logic of their arguments led to the conclusion that despite the end of the cold war, there was a new mission for the U.S.-Israeli alliance: containment of radical Islam. This notion was aggressively disseminated by a long list of columnists, commentators, and periodicals likely to support Israel “reflexively and without qualification.”

Sharon 's full identification with the United States after September 11 and his efforts to strengthen the U.S.-Israeli alliance by pointing to radical Islam as a common civilizational enemy of both countries was not an innovation in Israeli policy or a tactic specific to the Likud. The late Prime Yitzhak Rabin actively offered Israel as an ally against radical Islam after the Labor Party came to power in 1992. In December the Rabin government rounded up over 400 Palestinians and announced, without providing any evidence, that they were Hamas or Islamic Jihad activists. They were expelled to Lebanon , where most of them camped out on a hill overlooking the border for a year. When they were returned to their homes, they became heroes of a reenergized Palestinian radical Islamic movement.

Inside the Beltway, one of the most effective proponents of maintaining and strengthening the U.S.-Israel alliance is the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), established in 1985 under the leadership of Martin Indyk. He had previously been research director of the leading pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. On the eve of the 1988 presidential elections, as the first Palestinian intifada was underway, WINEP made its bid to become a major player in U.S. Middle East policy discussions by issuing a report entitled Building for Peace: An American Strategy for the Middle East . The report urged the incoming administration to “resist pressures for a procedural breakthrough [on Palestinian-Israeli peace issues] until conditions have ripened.” Six members of the study group responsible for the report joined the Bush I administration, which adopted this stalemate recipe not to change until change was unavoidable. Hence, it acceded to Israel 's refusal to negotiate with the Palestine Liberation Organization despite the PLO's recognition of Israel at the November 1988 session of the Palestine National Council.

After the 1991 Gulf War, the Bush I administration felt obliged to offer a reward to its Arab wartime allies by making an effort to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. It convened an international conference at Madrid in October followed by eleven sessions of bilateral Palestinian-Israeli negotiations in Washington . These talks were fruitless, in part because Israel still refused to negotiate with Palestinians who were official representatives of the PLO. Then, as now, Israel preferred to choose the Palestinians with whom it would negotiate.

When Israel became serious about attempting to reach an agreement with the Palestinians it circumvented the U.S.-sponsored negotiations in Washington and spoke directly to representatives of the PLO in Oslo . The result was the 1993 Oslo Declaration of Principles. The adoption of the WINEP policy recommendation to “resist pressures for a procedural breakthrough” by both the Bush I and Clinton administrations delayed the start of meaningful Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, contributed to the demonization of the PLO, and contributed to the death toll of the first Palestinian intifada.

Before WINEP became a powerful influence on Middle East policy making, the corporate mass media were fairly clear about its political commitments. The New York Times referred to WINEP as “a group with a pro-Israeli orientation.” The Los Angeles Times called it “staunchly pro-Israeli.” A 1989 Washington Post profile of Martin Indyk reported that he disliked the description of the institute as “pro-Israeli.” The image that Indyk preferred “is that we are friendly to Israel but doing credible research on the Middle East in a realistic and balanced way." WINEP's access to power transformed its public image. It became simply a respected “research and study center” according to the New York Times , a “private research organization” according to the Los Angeles Times , and a “private think tank” according to the Boston Globe .

WINEP's presence in the mass media is ubiquitous. Its associates, especially deputy director Patrick Clawson, director for policy and planning Robert Satloff, and senior fellow Michael Eisenstadt, appear frequently on television and radio talk shows as commentators on Middle East issues. Its board of advisors includes Mortimer Zuckerman, editor-in-chief of U.S. News & World Report , and Martin Peretz, editor-in-chief of The New Republic . WINEP has strong connections to the Israeli military, political, and media establishments. It is especially close to the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University . Yossi Olmert and Dore Gold, both figures in the government of Benjamin Netyanyahu are WINEP authors and former fellows. Israeli journalists Hirsh Goodman, David Makovsky, Ze'ev Schiff and Ehud Yaari all have WINEP affiliations.

WINEP and its associates have promoted the notion that Israel is a reliable U.S. ally against radical Islam. After Israel 's expulsion of the 400 Palestinian Islamic activists, Israeli television Middle East analyst Ehud Yaari wrote an op-ed in the New York Times summarizing his Hebrew television report of a vast U.S.-based conspiracy to fund Hamas. WINEP's 1992 annual Soref symposium - “Islam and the U.S. : Challenges for the Nineties” – focused on whether or not Islam was a danger to the United States . At that event Martin Indyk argued that the United States ought not to encourage democracy in countries that were friendly to Washington , like Jordan and Egypt , and that political participation should be limited to secular parties. This policy seems like a formula for ensuring that Islamic forces would forsake the political arena and engage in armed struggle and, to the extent that the U.S. was identified with this policy, that it would be targeted as well. This is, in fact, what happened in Egypt from 1992 to 1997.

The Clinton administration was even more thoroughly colonized by WINEP associates than its predecessor. Eleven signatories of the final report of WINEP's 1992 commission on U.S.–Israeli relations, Enduring Partnership , joined the Clinton administration. Among them were National Security Advisor Anthony Lake , UN Ambassador and later Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Undersecretary of Commerce Stuart Eizenstat, and Secretary of Defense, the late Les Aspin.

Shortly after assuming office in 1993, the Clinton administration announced a policy of “dual containment” directed against Iran and Iraq . The principal formulator and spokesperson for that policy was Martin Indyk in his new role as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Near East and South Asian Affairs at the National Security Council. As Indyk was raised and educated in Australia , he had to be quickly naturalized as an American citizen in order to join the Clinton administration. After his stint on the National Security Council, Indyk subsequently served as U.S. ambassador to Israel , Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, and then a second tour as ambassador to Israel . In all these positions Indyk was a significant player in Clinton administration policy towards the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations misleadingly known as the Oslo “peace process.”

Another WINEP affiliate with major responsibility for Palestinian-Israeli issues in the Clinton administration was Dennis Ross, a hold over from the Bush I era. He had been a key aide to Secretary of State James Baker in formulating Middle East policy during the Bush I administration and became President Clinton's special coordinator for the “peace process.” After retiring from government service, Ross assumed the directorship of WINEP.

As in the Bush II administration, more sophisticated voices in the Clinton administration repeatedly stated that “Islam is not the enemy.” However the “dual containment” policy of the Clinton administration and its overall Middle East policy record - the most pro-Israel of any U.S. administration since 1948 - are the forerunners of President Bush II's “axis of evil” policy. Nonetheless, WINEP has not been as prominent a presence in the Bush II administration as it was in the previous two.

It has been replaced by individuals linked to more monolithically neo-conservative and even more hawkish think tanks like the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) and the Center for Security Policy (CSP), which are very closely linked. Before they entered the Bush II administration, JINSA's board of advisors included Vice President Dick Cheney, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control John Bolton, and Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith. Twenty-two CSP associates secured positions in the Bush II national security apparatus.

Richard Perle, a member of the JINSA board as well as the WINEP advisory board and one of the strongest proponents of a preemptive war against Iraq , is chair of the Defense Policy Board, which advises the Department of Defense. The Defense Policy Board reports to Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, a leading Iraq war hawk who sat on the WINEP advisory board with Perle until he joined the Bush administration. Perle's credentials as an Israel firster are well established. According to Seymour Hersh, when Henry Kissinger headed the National Security Council he determined through telephone taps that in 1970 Perle, then a foreign policy aide to Henry Jackson - “the Senator from Boeing” - passed classified information to the Israeli Embassy.

Perle, Feith, and Bolton's special assistant, David Wurmser, sought to make common cause with Israel's Likud Party for a war against Iraq which they have been promoting since at least 1996, when they concluded that the Bush I administration erred in failing to remove Saddam Hussein from power after the first Gulf War. Perle argued for this position in a paper he prepared for the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies based in Washington , DC and Jerusalem . The paper, entitled A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm , was presented to newly elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It advocates a new foreign policy for Israel : repudiation of the Oslo accords; permanent annexation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; and elimination of the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq - “an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right” – according to the Clean Break paper. On July 10, 1996 , two days after receiving a copy of the paper, Netanyahu delivered an address to a joint session of the US Congress embracing several of the paper's propositions. The Wall Street Journal published excerpts from the Clean Break paper the same day and editorially endorsed it on July 11.

Following the September 11 attacks, the Defense Policy Board convened a two-day seminar. The consensus of those attending was that removing Saddam Hussein from power should be an objective in the U.S. war on terrorism despite the lack of any evidence linking Iraq to the attacks or to al-Qa'ida. The Defense Policy Board then sent former CIA director and JINSA board member James Woolsey to London to gather evidence linking Iraq to the terrorist attacks. He announced that a member of al-Qa'ida met with an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague . There is no solid evidence that the meeting occurred or that it had anything to do with the September 11 attacks.

On September 20 Perle and several other Defense Policy Board members sent an open letter to President Bush. "Even if evidence does not link Iraq directly to the [September 11] attack, any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq ," they wrote. "Failure to undertake such an effort will constitute an early and perhaps decisive surrender in the war on international terrorism."

Perle presided over the July 10, 2002 briefing of the Defense Policy Board at which RAND analyst Laurent Murawiec argued that Saudi Arabia is an enemy of the United States, "the kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent" in the Middle East. This opinion ignores the historically close relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia and the enormous profits of U.S. corporations from oil and commercial exports to Saudi Arabia . It highlights the particular way that Usama Bin Laden and his followers appropriated the Wahhabi Islamic doctrine, which is the state religion of Saudi Arabia . Although the Bush administration repudiated his views, the hawkish pro-Israel, neoconservative media echoed Murawiec's arguments shortly after the briefing.

Muawiec's opinions are taken seriously by members of Vice President Cheney's staff and the civilian leadership of the Pentagon. They are especially attracted by his argument that regime change in Iraq is the key to altering Saudi behavior. "The road to the entire Middle East goes through Baghdad ," said one anonymous administration official, who favored a war on Iraq . "Once you have a democratic regime in Iraq , like the ones we helped establish in Germany and Japan after World War II, there are a lot of possibilities." It is probably not accidental that Murawiec's briefing was held and its contents leaked as the Bush II administration began seriously beating the drums for a war on Iraq .

The most visible responses of the Bush II administration to the September 11 attacks in the Middle East have been to bomb Afghanistan, to draw closer to Israel, to call for the removal of Yasir Arafat as leader of the Palestinians as a prerequisite to entertaining Palestinian demands for an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and to loudly rattle its sabers for a preemptive war against Iraq. These activities have not been well-received in the Arab and Muslim world, where outrage against U.S. Middle East policy has reached unprecedented levels. They have, however, been popular in Israel and among its hawkish American supporters because they postpone Israel 's withdrawal from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip indefinitely and allow the Sharon government a free hand to repress the second Palestinian intifada while expanding Israeli settlements. Robert Satloff, WINEP's director of policy and planning, co-chaired a 52-member group of “experts” and members of Congress who concurred with the Bush administration position “that circumstances were not ripe for high-level efforts to restart the peace negotiations, and that the most urgent task was to prevent a regional war while fighting terrorism and weapons proliferation.” The advice once again, is not to change until change is unavoidable – a policy which allows Israel to assert its overwhelming military advantage and to continue to create facts of the ground (settlements) which will make peace all the more difficult, if not impossible, to achieve in the future.

Such pronouncements, indeed the entire discursive framing of public discussion of the Middle East and Islam in the United States , make it almost impossible for ordinary citizens to understand the basic constituent elements of the circumstances confronting us post-September 11, 2001. Since then, many American scholars of Islam and the Middle East have worked overtime to educate the public about the complex issues behind the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Simultaneously, those inspired by Israeli understandings of political Islam have attempted to delegitimize any effort to explain that political Islam is a complex phenomenon and that the Middle East policies of the United States have created a huge reservoir of anger and resentment in the region.

Martin Kramer, an American who immigrated to Israel in the 1970s, spent a year as a fellow of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy writing a lengthy screed attacking the entire Middle East Studies Association of North America and calling on Congress to eliminate federal funding for Middle East Centers. Kramer edits Middle East Quarterly , the mouthpiece of the Middle East Forum directed by Daniel Pipes, who is also a WINEP adjunct scholar. Kramer's initial volley against American Middle East studies was followed by a sustained barrage of tendentious articles in the neoconservative media by Daniel Pipes, Stanley Kurtz, Stephen Schwartz, David Horowitz, and others. The community of interpretation constituted by these unsavory characters is exemplified by Horowitz's establishment of a “Defense of Israel Campaign.” Its preposterous premise is that “ Never since its founding has Israel been in such dire peril.”

Inspired by Kramer's book, Middle East Forum set up a Campus Watch website which seeks to “monitor and gather information on professors who fan the flames of disinformation, incitement, and ignorance.” Campus Watch does not care to ask whether scholars who study the Middle East might actually know something that would lead them to think that the world is not simply divided between the forces of good (us) and the forces of evil (them). Instead, it compiles dossiers on professors and universities that do not meet its standard of uncritical support for the policies of George Bush and Ariel Sharon. Among other things, this may be Pipes' way of taking revenge on the scholarly community after failing in his own pursuit of an academic career in Middle East studies.

Campus Watch alleges that Middle East scholars “seem generally to dislike their own country and think even less of American allies abroad. They portray U.S. policy in an unfriendly light and disparage allies.” Thus, Campus Watch claims it can penetrate the psyches of scholars whose opinions it does not sanction. Rather than engage those opinions, Campus Watch resorts to quotation out of context, distortion, and in some cases outright fabrication in attempting to damage the reputations of those it finds objectionable.

Campus Watch notes that “ Middle East studies in the United States has become the preserve of Middle Eastern Arabs, who have brought their views with them. Membership in the Middle East Studies Association (MESA), the main scholarly association, is now 50 percent of Middle Eastern origin.” Excuse me?! I thought all U.S. citizens have equal rights regardless of their country of origin and that pointing to peoples' country of origin to discredit them is a form of racism. This is apparently outmoded thinking according to Campus Watch (and the statement is false in any case). But imagine the uproar that would be created by the suggestion that because Daniel Pipes is Jewish he may be more loyal to Israel than to the United States .

The efforts to stifle public debate about U.S. Middle East policy and criticism of Israel are being promoted by a network of neo-conservative true believers with strong links to the Israeli far right. They are enthusiastic supporters of the Bush administration's hands off approach to Ariel Sharon's suppression of the Palestinian uprising. And they are aggressive proponents of a preemptive U.S. strike against Iraq .

One need not agree with the prevailing sentiment in the Muslim and Arab world which is sharply critical of American policy towards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the maintenance of sanctions and the drive to war against Iraq, and support for autocratic and corrupt regimes like Egypt and Saudi Arabia. But no intelligent understanding or response to September 11 can be formulated without appreciating it. We must comprehend why the rhetoric and actions of someone like Usama Bin Laden resonate with a significant constituency despite the fact that the vast majority of the world's 1.2 billion Muslims do not support or condone his crimes.

Even among Islamic radicals there is significant dissent from Bin Laden's views. President Bush's addition of Lebanese Hizb Allah to the “official” list of terrorist organizations on November 2, 2001 was applauded by Israel and its supporters. Yet, Shaykh Muhammad Fadl Allah, the spiritual leader of Hizb Allah, condemned the attacks of September 11 and argued in the Lebanese press that they are incompatible with the Qur'an, shari`a law, and the Muslim concept of jihad . Another Islamic radical, Egypt 's Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, made similar arguments.

The Islamic Research Council of al-Azhar in Cairo – the most prestigious institution of learning in the sunni Muslim world - condemned the September 11 attacks with a ruling confirming the historic consensus of Muslim scholars that “Islam provides clear rules and ethical norms that forbid the killing of noncombatants, as well as women, children, and the elderly, and also forbids pursuit of the enemy in defeat, the execution of those who surrender, the inflicting of harm on prisoners of war, and the destruction of property that is not used in hostilities.”

These nuances and distinctions are critical to formulating a reasonable understanding of the Middle East and radical Islam. A foreign policy and public discourse based on a Manichaean division of the world and unconditional support of Israel impedes such understanding and is likely to lead to grief for Americans and the peoples of the Middle East .




(1) This phrase is adapted from Joe Stork, “New Enemies for a New World Order,” Middle East Report no. 176 (May/June 1992).

(2) Jerusalem Post , Sept. 12, 2001 .

(3) For example, “Remarks by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at the Ceremony in Solidarity with the American People and the families of the victims on the first anniversary of the September 11 th 2001 terror attack,” September 11, 2002, http://www.israelemb.org/articals/2002/September/2002091100.html

(4) American Council for Trustees and Alumni, “Defending Civilization: How Our Universities Are Failing America and What Can Be Done about it?” ( Washington , D.C. : The Council, November 2001).

(5) The most recent research on the circumstances of the coup is Ervand Abrahamian, “The 1953 Coup in Iran ,” Science & Society 65 (no. 2, 2001):182-215

(6) New York Times , February 14, 1980 .

(7) The low figure is the official Israeli estimate. The high figure is suggested by Israeli journalist Amnon Kapeliouk, who investigated the matter and reported his conclusion in Sabra and Shatila: Inquiry into a Massacre (Belmont, MA: Association of Arab-American University Graduates, 1984).

(8) Bernard Lewis, "The Return of Islam," Commentary , January 1976; reprinted in Islam and the West , (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), pp. 133-54; “The Roots of Muslim Rage,” The Atlantic Monthly 266 (no. 3, September 1990): 47-60; Samuel P. Huntington, "The Clash of Civilizations?" Foreign Affairs (Summer 1993):22-49, expanded as The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996).

(9) Eric Alterman, MSNBC.com, March 28, 2002 applied this characterization to: George Will, The Washington Post, Newsweek and ABC News; William Safire, The New York Times; A.M. Rosenthal, The New York Daily News , formerly Executive Editor of and later columnist for, The New York Times; Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post , PBS, Time , and The Weekly Standard , formerly of The New Republic; Michael Kelly, The Washington Post, The Atlantic Monthly, National Journal , and MSNBC.com, formerly of The New Republic and The New Yorker; Lally Weymouth, The Washington Post and Newsweek ; Martin Peretz, The New Republic , Daniel Pipes, The New York Post ; Andrea Peyser, The New York Post; Dick Morris, The New York Post ; Lawrence Kaplan, The New Republic ; William Bennett, CNN; William Kristol, The Washington Post , The Weekly Standard , Fox News, formerly of ABC News Robert Kagan, The Washington Post and The Weekly Standard ; Mortimer Zuckerman, US News and World Report (Zuckerman is also Chairman of Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations); David Gelertner, The Weekly Standard ; John Podhoretz, The New York Post and The Weekly Standard ; Mona Charen, The Washington Times ; Morton Kondracke, Roll Call , Fox News, formerly of The McLaughlin Group, The New Republic , and PBS; Fred Barnes, The Weekly Standard , Fox News, formerly of The New Republic , The McLaughlin Group, and The Baltimore Sun ; Yossi Klein Halevi The New Republic ; Sidney Zion, The New York Post , formerly of The New York Daily News ; Norman Podhoretz, Commentary ; Jonah Goldberg, National Review and CNN; Laura Ingraham, CNN, formerly of MSNBC and CBS News; Jeff Jacoby, The Boston Globe ; Rich Lowry, National Review ; Andrew Sullivan, The New Republic ; Seth Lipsky, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Sun , formerly of The Jewish Forward ; Irving Kristol, The Public Interest , The National Interest and The Wall Street Journal editorial page; Chris Matthews, MSNBC; Allan Keyes, MSNBC, WorldNetDaily.com; Brit Hume, Fox News; John Leo, US News and World Report ; Robert Bartley, The Wall Street Journal editorial page; John Fund, The Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal , formerly of The Wall Street Journal editorial page; Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal editorial page, Ben Wattenberg, The Washington Times , PBS Tony Snow, The Washington Times and Fox News; Lawrence Kudlow, National Review and CNBC; Alan Dershowitz, Boston Herald , Washington Times ; David Horowitz, Frontpage.com; Jacob Heilbrun, The Los Angeles Times ; Thomas Sowell, The Washington Times ; Frank Gaffney Jr., The Washington Times ; Emmett Tyrell, American Spectator and The New York Sun ; Cal Thomas, The Washington Times ; Oliver North, The Washington Times and Fox News, formerly of MSNBC; Michael Ledeen, Jewish World Review; William F. Buckley, National Review ; Bill O'Reilly, Fox News Paul Greenberg, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette; L. Brent Bozell, The Washington Times ; Todd Lindberg, The Washington Times ; Michael Barone, US News and World Report and The McLaughlin Group; Ann Coulter, Human Events ; Linda Chavez, Creators Syndicate; Cathy Young, Reason Magazine ; Uri Dan, The New York Post ; Dr. Laura Schlessinger, morality maven; Rush Limbaugh, radio host. The periodicals include: The New Republic (Martin Peretz, Michael Steinhardt, Roger Hertog, owners); Commentary (American Jewish Committee, owner); US News and World Report (Mortimer Zuckerman, owner) The New York Daily News (Mortimer Zuckerman, owner); The New York Post (Rupert Murdoch, owner); The Weekly Standard (Rupert Murdoch, owner); The Wall Street Journal editorial page (Peter Kann, editor); The Atlantic Monthly (Michael Kelly, editor).

(10) Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Building for Peace: An American Strategy for the Middle East (Washington, D.C., 1988), p. xx.

(11) New York Times , July 20, 1986 ; Los Angeles Times , September 17, 1988 .

(12) Washington Post , March 24, 1989 .

(13) New York Times , September 17, 1988 ; Los Angeles Times , August 26, 1990 ; Boston Globe , July 5, 1992 . These citations and those in the previous two note are from Ali Abunimah and Sam Husseini, “Truth in Labeling: Despite Ties to Two Governments, WINEP Succeeds in Neutral Pose,” Extra (November/December 2000) http://www.fair.org/extra/0011/winep.html

(14) Ehud Yaari, New York Times, January 27, 1993 .

(15) Martin Indyk, “The Implications for U.S. Policy,” in Islam and the U.S. : Challenges for the Nineties (Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Washington DC, April 27, 1992), p. 87.

(16) For example, Martin Indyk, “The Clinton Administration's Approach to the Middle East” Soref Symposium, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, May 18, 1993. http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/pubs/indyk.htm

(17) Jason A. West, “The Men from JINSA and CSP,” The Nation , September 2/9, 2002, pp. 16-20.

(18) Seymour Hersh, The Price of Power: Kissinger in the White House (New York: Summit Books, 1983), p. 322.

(19) http://www.israeleconomy.org/strat1.htm

(20) Time.com, September 14, 2002 , http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,339186,00.html

(21) Washington Post , August 6, 2002.

(22) Dan Quayle, “The Coming Saudi Showdown” The Weekly Standard , July 15, 2002 ; Victor Davis Hanson, “Our Enemies, the Saudis,” Commentary , July/August 2002, p. 23 ff.

(23) Washington Post , August 6, 2002.

(24) Los Angeles Times , April 3, 2002 .

(25) Martin Kramer, Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America ( Washington : Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2001).

(26) For example, Martin Kramer, “Professors of Palestine,” Middle East Quarterly (Winter 2000); Martin Kramer, “Arabic Panic,” Middle East Quarterly (Summer 2002); Stanley Kurtz, “Ivory Scam, National Review Online, May 29, 2002 http://www.nationalreview.com/kurtz/kurtz052902.asp Stanley Kurtz, “The More Things Stay the Same,” National Review Online, July 22, 2002 www.nationalreview.com/kurtz/kurtz072202.asp ; Stephen Schwartz “Treason of the Academics,” FrontPageMagazine.com , July 22, 2002 www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Printable.asp?ID=2021 ; Daniel Pipes and Jonathan Schanzer, “Extremists on Campus,” New York Post , June 25, 2002

(27) http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2002/6/11/ 124227.shtml

(28) Press release of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, November 14, 2001 , www.aipac.org/documents/aipacfacts8.html

(29) Shaykh Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah, interview in Journal of Palestine Studies 31 (no. 2, Winter 2002):80.

(30) New York Times , January 27, 2002.

(31) Al-Hayat , November 5, 2001.