The Myth of Modern Jihad

JUNE 29, 2010, 9:00 PM

By ROBERT WRIGHT

It would be an understatement to say that Faisal Shahzad, the would-be Times Square bomber, pleaded guilty last week. “I’m going to plead guilty a hundred times over,” Shahzad told the judge. Why so emphatic? Because Shahzad is proud of himself. “I consider myself a Mujahid, a Muslim soldier,” he said.

This got some fist pumps in right-wing circles, because it seemed to confirm that America faces all-out jihad, and must marshal an accordingly fierce response. On National Review Online, Daniel Pipes wrote that Shahzad’s “bald declaration” should make Americans “accept the painful fact that Islamist anger and aspirations” are the problem; we must name “Islamism as the enemy.” And, as Pipes has explained in the past, once you realize that your enemy is a bunch of Muslim holy warriors, the path forward is clear: “Violent jihad will probably continue until it is crushed by a superior military force.”

At the risk of raining on Pipes’s parade: If you look at what Shahzad actually said, the upshot is way less grim. In fact, at a time when just about everyone admits that our strategy in Afghanistan isn’t working, Shahzad brings refreshing news: maybe America can win the war on terrorism without winning the war in Afghanistan.

As a bonus, it turns out there’s a hopeful message not just in Shahzad’s testimony, but in Pipes’s incomprehension of it. Pipes exhibits a cognitive distortion that may be afflicting Americans broadly — not just on the right, but on the center and left as well. And seeing the distortion is the first step toward escaping it. Continue reading

Advertisements

Essay of the week: What drives Israel?

Published on 6 Jun 2010

http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/guest-commentary/essay-of-the-week-what-drives-israel-1.1032971

ILAN PAPPE

Probably the most bewildering aspect of the Gaza flotilla affair has been the righteous indignation expressed by the Israeli government and people.

The nature of this response is not being fully reported in the UK press, but it includes official parades celebrating the heroism of the commandos who stormed the ship and demonstrations by schoolchildren giving their unequivocal support for the government against the new wave of anti-Semitism.

As someone who was born in Israel and went enthusiastically through the socialisation and indoctrination process until my mid-20s, this reaction is all too familiar. Understanding the root of this furious defensiveness is key to comprehending the principal obstacle for peace in Israel and Palestine. One can best define this barrier as the official and popular Jewish Israeli perception of the political and cultural reality around them.

A number of factors explain this phenomenon, but three are outstanding and they are interconnected. They form the mental infrastructure on which life in Israel as a Jewish Zionist individual is based, and one from which it is almost impossible to depart – as I know too well from personal experience. Continue reading

The Marriage Myth: Why do so many couples divorce? Maybe they just don’t know how to be married.

By Ellen McCarthy
Sunday, June 27, 2010; W08

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/18/AR2010061804509_pf.html

As a punishing rain lashed across the narrow peninsula of Ocean City, Heidi and Kirk Noll stood facing each other in a windowless conference room of the aging Carousel Resort Hotel.

Amid stackable chairs and retractable walls, they and a half-dozen other bleary-eyed couples clasped hands and pledged their lives to each other. Heidi’s hair was still damp for the 9 a.m. ceremony, which took only 15 minutes, despite multiple interruptions from hotel staffers opening heavy doors that led to an atrium where the hum of a Zamboni on an indoor ice rink mingled with the smell of maple syrup from breakfast.

Vows successfully exchanged, and blessed by an Army chaplain, the couples clambered back onto the chartered bus that had brought them here, and made the wearing slog home to Washington.

It was an experience, the Nolls insist, that saved their marriage.

What’s more: Had they gone through something similar years before, both say they might still be married to their first spouses. Continue reading

Sex and Muslim women: new Asian mag pushes limits

By Philip Lim (AFP) – 1 day ago

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5j9a6beSl4qAXL-FokB-5zZ1pURRg

SINGAPORE — Flip through the pages of Aquila Asia magazine and it soon becomes apparent that the publication is different from other glossy women’s magazines sold across the region.

Side by side with ads for expensive handbags and luxury cars are fashion spreads featuring professional models in Muslim headscarves — and articles on topics like virginity and hymen reconstruction.

To be “modest and fabulous” is the motto of the bi-monthly magazine, whose name means “intelligence” in Arabic, said its vivacious founder and publisher Liana Rosnita, a Singaporean Muslim married to a Swiss man.

Aimed at “cosmopolitan Muslim women” in Southeast Asia, the magazine has corporate offices in Singapore and editorial operations in Jakarta, capital of the world’s largest Muslim nation Indonesia.

“We don’t work for the traditional school of thought,” Jakarta-based Liana said in an interview with AFP.

“If people think that Muslims today are backward or traditional or don’t have a sex life, or we’re not interested in having a great career, then they are very wrong, because that’s really not the case.”

Describing Aquila Asia as something of a hybrid between US magazine Cosmopolitan and high-society publication Tatler, Liana said other Muslim magazines in Asia focus more on religion rather than its readers’ lifestyles.

“For example in Indonesia, we have four different magazines catering for the Muslim market. But all four are very religiously-skewed. You don’t see any models,” said Brad Harris, Aquila Asia’s branding director. Continue reading

Burqa bans grow fashionable in Europe

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2010-06-27-Burqa_N.htm

One advocate argues that those "imposing this ban are guilty of the same extremism as those forcing women to veil themselves." One advocate argues that those “imposing this ban are guilty of the same extremism as those forcing women to veil themselves.”

By Jabeen Bhatti and Aida Alami, Special for USA TODAY

BERLIN — A growing movement in Europe to ban burqas and niqabs, the face coverings worn by some Muslim women, is igniting a debate over individual religious freedom vs. broader cultural values.

The movement started in Belgium when a bill making it a crime to wear a face veil in public passed unanimously in the lower house of parliament in April. The penalty would be a $19-$31 fine or a week in jail. The measure is likely to become law by fall, says Denis Ducarme, co-author of the legislation.

France followed and lawmakers across the continent are considering similar measures.

Belgium already has a law that forbids wearing masks in public, but lawmakers said they wanted to enhance the security of the country, promote gender equality and send a signal to extremists.

“Above all, this law was based around the question of security,” Ducarme says. “We think that it is important that all people must be able to be identified when in public. But we are also concerned over women forced to wear (a burqa or niqab). If the state doesn’t say ‘stop,’ the few wearing them today might be 2,000 in 10 years.”

The Muslim Executive of Belgium, an association of Muslims, estimates that between 30 and 100 women there wear a burqa. In France, fewer than 2,000 cover their faces, according to the Interior Ministry. Continue reading