Antisemitism and anti-Israel racism

August 26th, 2010 by Dave Rich

Disputes and arguments over alleged antisemitism have a habit of quickly heading down a dead end of accusations and counter-accusations, leaving no common understanding or resolution. A derogatory comment about Jews, or Israel, or Zionism is made; the person who made it is accused of antisemitism; they deny it; everyone entrenches their position and closes their ears. A good example of the futility and frustration that often results is Deborah Orr’s article from 2001, “I’m fed up being called an anti-Semite“.

But what if the bigotry being displayed is not in fact antisemitism, but racism against Israel and Israelis? Israel’s detractors often accuse Israel of anti-Palestinian racism. What if some of them are guilty of racism against Israelis? And what is the difference between this and antisemitism?

I am brought to these questions by the  reports that the Chairman of Amnesty International in Finland, Frank Johannson, has called Israel a “scum state”. To be precise, according to  the Tundra Tabloids blog which translated his words into English, he wrote on his blog:

A friend of mine who works in Israel, was visiting while piling wood in the shed, we got into his favourite topic. Several years of  residence in the holy country, he has come to the conclusion that “Israel is a scum state”. On the basis of my own visit, which occurred during the 1970s and 1990s for the final time, I agree.

The comment has been translated elsewhere as “punk state” or “creep state”. According to the Jerusalem Post:

[Amnesty International spokeswoman Susanne] Flood said that Johansson used the phrase “creep state” to describe Israel, rather than “scum,” as the initial English translation of the Finnish word found. Native Finnish speakers from Tundra Tabloids said the Finnish term used by Johansson to denigrate Israel is a “highly derogatory term,” and is frequently translated as “scum,” “scum bag” or “douche bag.”

Whatever the precise translation – and “scum state” seems to have stuck – it is clearly a pretty insulting phrase. Johannson has since removed the post from his blog, and explained:

I decided to take down my blog because I appreciate that my comments were ill-judged and appear all the more so when taken out of context, and have obviously caused offence to many people although it was not my intention, at all, to cause such offence.

His comment is reminiscent of the 2001 remark by the then French Ambassador to the UK, Daniel Bernard, that Israel was a “shitty little country” and that “those people” were putting the whole world in danger of World War Three. On both occasions, other commentators were quick to see antisemitism in the comments, even though they were explicitly about Israel rather than, explicitly, about Jews. Of course, both Johannson and Bernard denied that they or their comments were antisemitic.

So is there another way to approach this question? Antisemitism is commonly understood to be prejudice, hatred or discrimination against Jews, often with an ideological component and, for some, specifically European in origin. Jews and Israel are clearly not the same thing: around half the world’s Jews are not Israeli, and around a fifth of Israelis are not Jewish. Israel is a formally constituted sovereign state, and the Jews are a disparate, amorphous set of people and communities. And so on. It follows, then, that anti-Israel feeling and antisemitism should be different things. However, Israel was created as a national home for the Jews, and it has a Jewish character. In almost every aspect of Jewish life – culture, religion, politics, academia and so on – Israel is the beating heart of the Jewish world. For most people, Israel and Jews will always be intuitively connected. So it also follows that anti-Israel feeling and antisemitism would not be entirely separate from one another.

What if we view Johannson’s comment, and Bernard’s, not as examples antisemitism but rather of anti-Israel racism, or bigotry, or prejudice? British law recognises that national groups can be subject to racism: in Section III of the Public Order Act 1986 (pdf), “racial hatred” is defined as “hatred against a group of persons in Great Britain defined by reference to colour, race, nationality (including citizenship) or ethnic or national origins.” (my emphasis). Now, it should be recognised that both Johannson and Bernard spoke of Israel the “state” or “country”, not Israeli people either in Israel or in Britain. Plus, the name of a country is often used as a shorthand for its government. Still, both comments are so sweeping and unqualified as to give the impression that they take in Israel, its government, people and perceived national character. Nor are they alone: similar sentiments about Israel and Israelis are not hard to find, particularly on anti-Zionist blogs or in the comment threads on mainstream media websites. Language in this context is important. Take, for example, the Guardian’s description of Israel as “an arrogant nation“, and Professor Colin Shindler’s response in their letters column.

This leads me onto the comparison of Israel with South Africa which is so beloved of Israel’s opponents, but from the rather different angle of this famous Spitting Image song:

For non-British readers or those of a young age, Spitting Image was a satirical puppet show that ran during the 1980s and 1990s; I’ve Never Met a Nice South African was broadcast in 1986 and then released as the B-side to The Chicken Song, which reached no. 1 in the charts.

The lyrics of this song are brutal: the choruses describe South African people variously as “a bunch of arrogant bastards / Who hate black people”; “a bunch of talentless murderers / Who smell like baboons” and “a bunch of ignorant loudmouths / With no sense of humour”. Even allowing for the fact that it is a comedy song for a notoriously cruel satirical show, I’m not sure these particular lyrics could be written and broadcast nowadays; or at least if they were, there would be a deluge of complaints and possibly even demands for a prosecution. Opinions will differ on whether or not this change in atmosphere is a good thing. My point is that hatred of a country or anger at its government’s policies, can easily find expression via racist or bigoted statements about all of its people, especially if you believe that the particular policies to which you object are intrinsic to the character of the country. There is much in the anti-Israel discourse in this country that smacks of an emotional reaction to Israel, up to and including hatred, which goes beyond its government and encompasses the country and people as a whole. I would call it anti-Israel racism; if you don’t like that term, use bigotry or prejudice instead.

Nobody likes to think of themself as racist, but there is a particular resistance amongst left-wing people to the idea that they are capable of racism or antisemitism. This is partly because the left defines itself as anti-racist, and views racism in narrow terms as a function of power relations rather than a form of bigotry that can go in any direction. There is also a reluctance amongst many opponents of Israel to even engage with the idea that anti-Israel (or even more so, anti-Zionist) discourse may, at times, utilise tropes that have an antisemitic history. There is also a large dose of hypocrisy: many of the people who misquote Golda Meir as saying that “there is no such thing as a Palestinian people” think nothing of denying Israeli national identity.

Still, for those opponents of Israel who do not want to consider the possibility that their attitudes may be polluted with antisemitism, they could instead consider whether they are susceptible to racist ideas or feelings about Israel and Israelis. (And note, the defence of knowing or supporting Israeli leftists is just a variant of the old ‘some of my best friends are Jewish’ line; it is the attitudes towards the rest, as an undifferentiated mass, that are at question). If it is possible to harbour racist views about French people, or Americans, or Nigerians, or, for that matter, Palestinians, then surely it is also possible to harbour racist views about Israelis. For the record, I am not suggesting that all opponents of Israel are guilty of racism, which would obviously be a meaningless generalisation. I am just discussing the principle.

And if it is possible to hold racist views about Israelis, then there is a follow-up question: what if these racist views about Israel and Israelis are similar, to a greater or lesser extent, to things that antisemites believe about Jews? Would this mean that, after all, anti-Israel racism is the same as antisemitism? or does anti-Israel racism exist separately from, but sometimes influenced by, antisemitism? And does it make a difference, morally or politically, which prejudice is in play? This is not mere sophistry. These are genuine questions about the nature and limits of contemporary antisemitism, and I am not sure of the answers.

Pig’s head left at Lithuanian synagogue

August 24th, 2010 by Dave Rich

A pig’s head adorned with a Chasidic hat and fake peyot (side-locks), and with a Star of David carved on its forehead, was left outside a synagogue in Kaunas, Lithuania, on Saturday. EJP reports:

Lithuania’s Jewish organisations on Monday condemned an apparent neo-Nazi attack in which a pig’s head was left at the entrance of a synagogue by unknown perpetrators.

“The Lithuanian Jewish community and the Religious community of Lithuanian Jews judge this as Nazi provocation aimed at insulting the ethnic and religious feelings of Lithuanian Jews,” their leaders, Simonas Alperavicius and Chief Rabbi Chaim Burstein, said in a statement.

The statement said that the pig’s head was found on Saturday — the Jewish holy day — outside a synagogue in Lithuania’s second city Kaunas.

The use of a pig is particularly offensive because Judaism, like Islam, considers pigs unclean and bars the consumption of pork.

Simonas Gurevicius, executive director of the Lithuanian Jewish community, told AFP the incident should be treated as an attack on all believers, not only Jews.

“We hope that Lithuanian society will not be impassive, as this act of a few anti-Semitic vandals does not reflect the attitude of Lithuanian society,” he added.

Kaunas police have launched a formal investigation but there are no suspects so far, officer Gintautas Dirmeikis told the Baltic News Service.

Lithuania was once home to a 220,000-strong Jewish community, and Vilnius was a cultural hub and world centre for the study of the Torah, known as the “Jerusalem of the North”. At the end of the 19th century, the number of synagogues in Vilnius exceeded one hundred.

But 95 percent of Lithuania’s Jews perished during the country’s 1941-1944 German occupation at the hands of the Nazis and Lithuanian collaborators.

Today there are no more than 5,000 Jews in Lithuania, of whom around 500 live in Kaunas, Gurevicius said.

Kaunas-Lithuania-pigs-head-synagogue

Arab European League fined for Holocaust Denial cartoon

August 24th, 2010 by Dave Rich

A Dutch appeals court has found against the Arab European League for publishing a Holocaust Denial cartoon on its website in 2006, according to Reuters: 

A Dutch Muslim group was fined 2,500 euros ($3,200) for publishing a cartoon which suggested the Holocaust was made up or exaggerated by Jews, a Dutch appeals court ruled on Thursday.

The court in the western city of Arnhem overruled an acquittal handed down by a Dutch lower court, saying the cartoon, published on the website of the Arab European League’s (AEL) in 2006, was “unnecessarily hurtful.”

“The court points out that the European Court of Human Rights, which considers freedom of speech of paramount importance and defends it thoroughly, makes an exception for the denial or trivialization of the Holocaust,” the court said.

The court also imposed a 2-year probation period on the AEL.

The cartoon shows two men in Auschwitz looking at several dead bodies. “I don’t think they are Jews,” says one man. The one man replies: “We have to get to the 6,000,000 (figure) somehow’. Six million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.

The Dutch group says it had no intention of disputing the Holocaust, but wanted instead to highlight what it described as double standards in free speech.

The AEL circulated it in 2006 after a Danish newspaper published a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad which triggered an outcry among Muslims in many countries.

This is the cartoon for which the AEL was prosecuted:

Auswitch2

We covered some of the issues in this case in an article on this blog when it was initially brought last year. As we pointed out then, the AEL’s explanation – that they did not deny the Holocaust, but just published the cartoons in response to the Danish newspaper cartoons of Mohammed – suggests a cynical politics that can only be divisive, inflammatory and harmful. It also suggests an attitude that Holocaust Denial is a legitimate tool to be deployed in mainstream political debate.

At the time that the AEL published this cartoon it was run by its founder, Dyab Abou Jahjah, who has since left to join the Iranian-run International Union of Parliamentarians for Palestine (IUPFP). At the time, he defended the AEL’s use of Holocaust Denial in strident terms:

People in Europe are not allowed to do a free historical examination of the Second World War and the holocaust and freely express an opinion on it that is different than the dominating dogmatic line.  Any attempt to have deviant historical examination of the holocaust will earn you the title of revisionist, anti-Semite and a jail sentence.

You don’t even have to go that far, I would be curious to see the reactions of these champions of the freedom of speech  in case that same Danish paper would have published pictures of Jewish rabbi’s, or Moses for that matter, with a Jewish nose, the star of David and represented him as a greedy banker, or other form of economical parasite sucking the blood of the people referring to stereotypes on Jews. Or of King David with the same typical Jewish features and outfit conspiring together with other Jewish prophets to dominate the world inspired by the protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Yes Arabs and Muslims are uptight when you touch their religious and national symbols, but Europe had made of political correctness and the cult of the Holocaust and Jew-worshiping its alternative religion and is even more uptight when you touch that. Europeans might not respect their flags, and they might laugh with Jesus and Mary but if you touch their new religious symbols, they will bombard you with indignation and persecute you in the best European inquisition tradition.

I am for the absolute freedom of speech everywhere, and that’s why I call upon every free sole among Arabs to use the Danish flag as a substitute for toilet paper. To illustrate every wall with graffiti making fun of everything Europe holds as holy: dancing rabbis on the carcasses of Palestinian children, hoax gas-chambers built in Hollywood in 1946 with Steven Spielberg’s approval stamp, and Aids spreading fagots. Let us defend the absolute freedom of speech altogether, wouldn’t that be a noble cause?

Last year, Abou Jahjah was twice invited to London, to speak at meetings organised by the Stop The War Coalition and IUPFP. The first time, he spoke in person; the second time, having been excluded from the UK, he spoke via video link, courtesy of Hizbollah’s al-Manar TV. His exclusion was contested by Jeremy Corbyn MP, who spoke alongside him on his visit to London. Now that the AEL has been convicted of Holocaust Denial under Abou Jahjah’s leadership, will the STWC and Jeremy Corbyn still consider Abou Jahjah a suitable person to work with?

The SWP’s blind spots

August 20th, 2010 by Mark Gardner

A Socialist Workers Party editorial reveals (again) the manner in which the party’s anti-Israel fervour prevents it from acknowledging antisemitism in any such setting.

The SWP understands the significance of the Holocaust upon support for the mere continued existence of Israel. However, this does not change the fact that for the SWP, Israel is always in the wrong. That is the only way it can ever be, and if the Holocaust, or antisemitism, get in the way of that fact, then they must be spun away by any means necessary.

The latest example of this lies in the SWP’s editorial against BBC’s Panorama programme regarding what happened with the flotilla to Gaza and the killing by Israeli commandos of nine people aboard the Mavi Marmara.

The SWP (like many other anti-Israel groups) were simply livid that Panorama had the chutzpah to accept some of Israel’s version of events. This included the BBC referring to the antisemitic catcall “Shut up, go back to Auschwitz”: said in a radio transmission by one of the flotilla participants in response to the Israeli navy.

The editorial does not explicitly deny that the words were spoken, but its context and wording is every bit as close as you can get to it:

…Immediately after the attack the IDF said that its soldiers had been shot, though it soon had to withdraw this allegation. It released a recording it claimed was broadcast from the flotilla, telling the Israelis, “Shut up, go back to Auschwitz.”

The IDF soon backed off, admitting that the recording had been doctored. But both these allegations were included in the “evidence” presented by Panorama.

And the programme repeated as fact Israel’s lying defence that problems in Gaza are down to the rise of the Islamist movement Hamas and IDF attacks are a measured response to rocket attacks on Israeli civilians.

The press release therefore says that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) admitted to having “doctored” “Shut up. Go back to Auschwitz”.

Despite not having not explicitly denied the antisemitic remark, the very next sentence includes it under the term “allegations” and deliberately places the word “evidence” within quotation marks. It doesn’t say that this was an imaginative fake from the IDF, but the inference is clear and will no doubt be wheeled out again and again in years to come.

The SWP’s steadfast refusal to acknowledge antisemitism within the context of anti-Israel activism, is a Trotskyist spin of Stalinist proportions. It is also very stupid. Antisemitism does not help the Palestinian cause and every time the SWP turns a blind eye to such antisemitism, or actively colludes in its promotion, it does not nothing more than prove that its own human rights credentials are a joke – as those concerned with the SWP’s tactical abandonments of homosexual rights will also readily testify.

NB – Those wishing to see what lies behind the SWP’s “doctored” claim should read, view and listen to the following:

Firstly, the original recording supplied by Israel of “Shut up. Go back to Auschwitz”, which the IDF originally said came from the flotilla’s lead boat, the Mavi Marmara.

Secondly, the IDF’s subsequent explanation that the transmission in the recording had not necessarily been from the Mavi Maramara. (Note however that the SWP’s spin relates to the entire “flotilla”: and not just the Mavi Marmara.)

…So to clarify: the audio was edited down to cut out periods of silence over the radio as well as incomprehensible comments so as to make it easier for people to listen to the exchange. We have now uploaded the entire segment of 5 minutes and 58 seconds in which the exchange took place and the comments were made.

This transmission had originally cited the Mavi Marmara ship as being the source of these remarks, however, due to an open channel, the specific ship or ships in the “Freedom Flotilla” responding to the Israeli Navy could not be identified…

Thirdly, the IDF’s entire recording of the transmissions

What Antisemitism Is (And Isn’t)

August 17th, 2010 by Mark Gardner

Ben Cohen, Associate Director of Communications at American Jewish Committee, has written another excellent and thought provoking piece: this time on the nature of antisemitism. His penultimate paragraph echoes much of CST’s current work on the vexing topic of antisemitic discourse

…many of the grand myths of our own time – Israel as the ultimate rogue state, U.S. policy as a hostage of the “Israel Lobby,” the Palestinians as the iconic symbol of human suffering – draw on a much older tradition that, just twenty years ago, most people regarded as a matter for historians, not chroniclers of the present.

Written in the context of Oliver Stone’s highly objectionable remarks to the Sunday Times and his subsequent apology, the article may be read in full here at the Huffington Post.   

The following excerpts show the thrust of Ben Cohen’s argument

…Stone quickly apologized for his remarks, prompting the question of whether it is fair to call him an antisemite. The answer lies in understanding what antisemitism is – and what it isn’t.

…Should one’s worst instincts win out, will a subsequent, timely apology annul the offense? If antisemitism is boiled down to a matter of insult, then yes, it probably will. But the problem here, as Marx might have said, is the confusion of appearance with essence.

What makes antisemitism distinctive is that it’s a worldview, a means of explaining why there is injustice and unfairness and conflict in our societies. In his recent epic study, the scholar Robert Wistrich cited the French monarchist Charles Maurras’ admiration for the succinctness of antisemitism. “It enables everything to be arranged, smoothed over and simplified,” Maurras said.

In the nineteenth century, Maurras and his cohorts wore the antisemite’s button with pride. So did Wilhelm Marr, the German rabble-rouser widely credited with coining the term antisemitism, who went on to found The League of Antisemites in 1879. For these men and their followers, antisemitism was not so much an attitude as an ideology.

…In keeping with its politically and theologically promiscuous history, antisemitism is again perfectly compatible with what would commonly, if incorrectly, be regarded as a progressive outlook, especially if the focus is upon the State of Israel.

That is why antisemitism remains one of the most furiously contested terms in political debate today. Invariably, those accused of it angrily reject the charge, retorting that they have been unfairly maligned by a crude tactic designed to muzzle what they insist is the horrible reality of Israel.

These are people who would have you believe that the victims of antisemitism today are no longer Jews, but those who are labeled antisemitic. Such sophistry, however, was not available to Oliver Stone, because of his candor in talking about Jews, and not “Zionists” or “The Israel Lobby.”

…There is a deeper point about those who recycle the favorite themes of antisemitism, yet are careful not to…speak about Jews qua Jews. In Tablet this week, Lee Smith…argued that the matter at hand is not the “indiscernible beliefs of individuals,” but the way in which these writers, when they write about Israel, are “complicit in the common work of mainstreaming the kind of antisemitic language, ideas, and discourse that were once confined to extremist hate sites on the far right.”

It’s unlikely that Lee Smith’s opponents will engage in any critical reflection, perhaps because the truth is too painful to bear. For many of the grand myths of our own time – Israel as the ultimate rogue state, U.S. policy as a hostage of the “Israel Lobby,” the Palestinians as the iconic symbol of human suffering – draw on a much older tradition that, just twenty years ago, most people regarded as a matter for historians, not chroniclers of the present.

It was these myths which effectively licensed Oliver Stone’s remarks. If there is a lesson to be drawn from L’Affaire Stone, it is that he did not – and this is why his apology is really by the by – act alone.

You can follow Ben Cohen on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ZWord

Why can’t the American media copy the Guardian?

August 13th, 2010 by Mark Gardner

An article in the Guardian newspaper (“Obama alone can’t make the US see the Middle East anew” 11 August 2010) by columnist / roving Middle East reporter, Jonathan Steele, provides yet another example of the potential antisemitic pitfalls that are risked by heaping everything on Israel’s shoulders.

In this specific instance, it concerns the recently reported surge in Arab disappointment with U.S. President Barack Obama. The problem is that the President raised Arab expectations in his striking speech in Cairo last year, but ultimately failed to deliver upon them. According to Jonathan Steele, somebody – more accurately, some thing – is to blame for that failure. Can you guess what that thing might be?

Let us be clear, Steele most certainly does not blame the much maligned Global Jewish Conspiracy for Obama’s failure. There is no mention of Jews in his article, but much is made of pro-Israel lobbyists. (What an antisemite might refer to as ZOG – the Zionist Occupation Government.) It is a variation on the routine that is depressingly familiar at both the Guardian and the Independent newspapers (and their respective websites). It goes like this:

1. the pro-Israel lobby runs American Middle East policy

2. the pro-Israel lobby does this via compliant politicians

3. the American media is complicit in the above

To this, we can often add a disclaimer in brackets: (4.) (any resemblance between the pro-Israel lobby accusations herein and antisemitic Jewish conspiracy allegations, including ZOG, are entirely accidental. The authors, publishers and readership are opposed to all forms of racism, including antisemitism – and anyone hinting otherwise is a pro-Israeli trickster.)

Anyway, returning to Steele’s article about who is to blame for dashed expectations, it seems relevant to mention that this would not be the first time in history that a politician had failed to live up to his promises.

Furthermore, the Middle East, in particular, is a place where the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.

We could even ask, does America behave any differently in the Middle East to how it behaves elsewhere?

Nevertheless, Steele knows how these things really work and he knows how the Guardian works too. So, the summary of his article (probably written by a sub-editor) puts it like this

After the promise of his Cairo speech, disillusion is rife in the Arab world. But a slanted media keeps the president timid.

It is “a slanted media” that “keeps the president timid” and has resulted in “rife” “disillusion” “in the Arab world.” Arab positivity towards America has collapsed from 45% last summer to 20% this summer. Meanwhile, Arab negativity towards America has soared from 23% to 67%. Only 16% of Arabs are “hopeful” about US policy.

Steele says of the President, “Since his Cairo speech Obama’s Middle Eastern failures have been glaring”. He then goes on to list the “failures”: every one of which cites Obama supposedly failing to crack down on Israel. These are not Obama’s “Middle Eastern failures” (such a list would surely make at least a passing mention of Iraq and Afghanistan to name just two factors), these are simply his Israel “failures”, but having set up Israel as exclusively to blame for the collapse in Arab confidence with America, Steele ends by scrutinising Israel’s role and responsibility.

His third last paragraph links “Israel’s political elite” with its US lobby, implies that the President is helpless in the face of the lobby; and stresses that the lobby’s influence on the US media is every bit as important as its lobbying of politicians

It is easy to blame Obama, as though he alone had the power to crack down on Israel’s political elite. It is easy, too, to blame the American Israel Public Affairs Committee for its lobbying against critical US politicians. Just as important is the pressure that pro-Israel campaigners put on the mainstream US media. They warn people off the very word Zionist as though only antisemites use it and demand Israel be treated as a special country whose politics deserve more sympathy than others.

The (above) concluding sentence is especially curious. It implies that the US media is so compliant (due to fear of being branded antisemitic) that it avoids using the very word “Zionist”.

Only last year, a stern Guardian editorial warned against antisemitism, but the paper (including the Comment is Free website) needs to do some serious thinking about when the use of the word “Zionist” risks evoking older antisemitic conspiracy theories: particularly the ones about Jews running the media, and bending politicians to do their bidding.

The claim that “Israel be treated as a special country” is also curious. Clearly, the Guardian has no problem treating Israel “as a special country”, so why does it seek to prevent others from doing likewise?

This is, of course, disingenuous, but the answer comes in the article’s last two paragraphs. It isn’t stated outright, because it doesn’t even need saying, but if only the American media covered Israel like the Guardian does, then we could start solving both America and the Middle East.

In fact US publishers, editors, and reporters carry the biggest responsibility for the rotten state of US policy in the Middle East. The pro-Israel lobbies are powerful and Obama weak mainly because Americans rarely get an alternative view…

It would be nice if Obama stuck his neck out, but he needs a radical media to start a real debate. The sea-change in US attitudes that the Middle East so urgently needs cannot come from the White House alone.

Obama’s Presidency has more years left to run, and Arabs are not the only ones showing disillusionment. Lets hope the blame game doesn’t go too far.

Status Check: Global Terrorism

August 12th, 2010 by Mark Gardner

Matthew Levitt, at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, provides a very interesting article concerning the U.S. State Dept’s recently released Country Reports on Terrorism for 2009.   

It begins as follows

The State Department’s recently released Country Reports on Terrorism 2009 (CRT 2009) reveals several important trends in the evolution of global terrorism.

The good news is that al-Qaeda is facing significant pressure, even as the organization and its affiliates and followers retain the intent and capability to carry out attacks.

What remains to be seen is if the dispersion of the global jihadist threat from the heart of the Middle East to South Asia and Africa foreshadows organizational decline or revival for al-Qaeda itself and the radical jihadist ideology it espouses. How governments and civil society alike organize to contend with the changing threat will be central to this determination.

The bad news is that governments and civil society remain woefully ineffective at reducing the spread and appeal of radical Islamist extremism.

The rest of Levitt’s article may be read in full here.

« Previous Entries