Profs Hammer Israel, Fail to Predict Palestinian War
by Jonathan Schanzer
The American Thinker
March 12, 2008

From the Egyptian border breach to indiscriminate rocket fire at Israel, the Gaza Strip currently poses serious threats to regional security. The Hamas terrorist organization controls this territory because it defeated the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in a six-day Palestinian civil war in June 2007. But a cursory review of history shows that the Hamas-PLO rivalry has been brewing since 1988, when Hamas first emerged on the scene. Despite clear signs of impending conflict, nearly every professor of Middle Eastern studies in America failed to see it coming.

Why did so few experts write about the internecine Palestinian war? Hundreds of Arabic-speaking professors and researchers have trekked through the West Bank and Gaza over the years, funded by U.S. research dollars.

Most were too busy lambasting Israel's defense policies to identify the gathering storm, but a few U.S. professors saw the writing on the wall:

Mahmood Monshipouri, a professor at Alma College in Michigan, published a prescient 1996 article in Middle East Policy entitled, "The PLO Rivalry with Hamas."[1] He recognized the potential for conflict a full 11 years before the Gaza Coup of 2007.

Don Peretz at the State University of New York in Binghamton also foresaw that the splintering of Hamas and the PLO during the 1987 intifada would have lasting effects. He predicted that the two groups could only "paper over their differences temporarily," and hence, "internecine conflict will very likely erupt among them when the time comes for the Palestinians to determine their political future."[2]

But Monshipouri and Peretz were the exceptions during the 1990s.Virtually all of their colleagues lavished praise on Palestinian "civil society" as the cornerstone of a budding democracy, or skewered Israel for cracking down on the suicide-bombing terrorist groups that killed scores of Israeli civilians. After the outbreak of a new campaign of Palestinian violence, commonly termed the "intifada" of 2000, academics shifted their focus to an Israeli self-defense tactic they grossly mischaracterized as "apartheid," with a particular focus on Israel's security barriers around the West Bank and Gaza Strip that prevented nearly 100 percent of attempted Palestinian suicide bombings and other acts of Palestinian violence.

Over the past seven years, the Middle Eastern Studies Association (MESA)-the academic umbrella group to which nearly every American professor in the field belongs-has remained focused on these tired topics, but has failed to produce a single paper that broke ground on the internal Palestinian discord and the civil war in the making.

As media outlets in the region began to openly report on the Hamas-PLO clashes in 2003 and 2004, only a few professors chose to note it. Fawaz Gerges of Sarah Lawrence College, often criticized for his Islamist apologia, noted in the Washington Post that, "a danger exists that the further radicalization of Hamas will not only mean an escalation of violence between Israelis and Palestinians but also the risk of intra-Palestinian civil war."

This dose of reality was the exception, not the rule. Rashid Khalidi and Joseph Massad, two Palestinian professors at Columbia University, neglected to warn of the coming Palestinian storm. If they sensed an internecine Palestinian conflict approaching, they neglected to warn U.S. policy makers. Instead, they produced a stream of tired anti-Israel diatribes. Their colleagues at other institutions, who produced almost no critical work regarding the internal Palestinian dynamic, provide additional examples of analytical failure and anti-Israel bias in this failing field.

What the professors did not grasp then, and refuse to grasp now, is that the radical Islamic ideology of Hamas, and the Palestinian nationalist ideology of the PLO, are both expansionist, violent, and based more upon the destruction of Israel than the creation of a viable Palestinian state. As such, it was only a matter of time before they clashed.

The Palestinian civil war and the subsequent Hamas coup has resulted in the launching of more than 800 rockets against Israel, a border crisis in Egypt, the death of more than 330 Palestinians in internecine fighting, and regional tensions that may soon lead to a new Middle East war. The professors in this field have yet to explain how they almost unanimously missed this critical development in the region, despite the mountains of work produced on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. A proper reckoning of this grievous oversight will be one of the necessary steps required if Middle Eastern studies professors are ever to regain the trust of policymakers inside the Beltway and beyond.

Jonathan Schanzer, an adjunct scholar at http://www.campus-watch.org/, is director of policy for the Jewish Policy Center, and editor of inFOCUS Quarterly.
[1] Mahmood Monshipouri, "The PLO Rivalry with Hamas: The Challenge of Peace, Democratization and Islamic Radicalism." Middle East Policy, Vol.4, No. 3,1996, pp.84-105.

[2] Don Peretz, Intifada: The Palestinian Uprising (Boulder, CO.: Westview Press, 1990), pp. 100-101.


Morbid Celebrations
Palestinians Revel In Violence
by Jonathan Schanzer
Weekly Standard (Online)
March 10, 2008

The streets of Gaza were packed with thousands of joyous revelers on Thursday following the terrorist attack at a Jerusalem rabbinical seminary that killed eight people. In mosques throughout Gaza, according to news reports, many residents went to perform the prayers of thanksgiving. Armed men fired machine gun bursts into the air in celebration. Others passed out candies to random passersby on the streets.

This is not the first time that large numbers of Palestinians have celebrated bloodshed.

Recently, thousands of Gazans flooded the streets to celebrate the suicide bombing in early February in the Israeli town of Dimona. Video from the streets shows youths handing out sweets and flowers, as drivers honked their horns and cheered.

During Israel's defensive war against Hezbollah in the summer of 2006, West Bank Palestinians responded with "glee" when the Lebanese terror group fired rockets into the Israeli city of Hadera, some 50 miles south of the Israel-Lebanon border. According to reports, local West Bank radio stations broadcast interviews with listeners who expressed their happiness.

Palestinians also cheered when Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon suffered a stroke in January 2006. In Gaza City, there were reports of celebratory gunfire after the news was released. Some Palestinians openly stated that they were praying for Sharon's death.

Of course, Palestinian glee over violent acts against Israel is not new. During the Palestinian war that began in September 2000, after Hamas and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades suicide bombings, flowers and sweets were commonly dispersed on the streets.

However, the images of the 2000 lynching of two Israeli soldiers in the West Bank town of Ramallah were among the most disturbing. After killing the soldiers, one man appeared at a window and displayed his blood-red hands to a cheering crowd.

During the 1991 Gulf War, Iraqi president Saddam Hussein lobbed 39 scud missiles at the Jewish state. Israelis fled to their bomb shelters, fearing that the missiles might have been equipped with chemical or biological weapons. Meanwhile, Palestinians danced and cheered from their rooftops.

Palestinian joy over violence against civilians is not only directed at Israel, either. CNN and MSNBC aired footage of Palestinians cheering the attacks of September 11, 2001. Children were distributing candy while people on the streets were clapping, chanting "God is great!"

The Palestinian Authority recognized the dangers of having the world see its people celebrating the worst terrorist assault in history. They warned journalists they would be in danger if they continued to use images of Arabs celebrating the attacks. Arafat also assembled a gaggle of journalists to capture images of him donating blood for the victims of the attack--although it was questioned whether his blood was actually drawn, let alone whether it would ever reach the U.S.

The Palestinian Authority also attempted to stop the images of the 2000 lynching from seeing the light of day. However, there have been many other celebrations, particularly those celebrating Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israelis, of which the Palestinians appear to be proud.

Two observations about this morbid trend are worth noting.

First, it must be noted there has never been a recorded celebration in the Israeli streets over a counterterrorism incursion into the Gaza Strip. Indeed, Israelis are typically saddened by the necessity of such operations. Meanwhile, the international community takes great pains to cast the Palestinians and Israelis as having equal responsibility in the ongoing bloodshed, but the culture of violence among the Palestinians goes largely unnoticed.

More broadly, the culture of violence among Palestinians--both in the West Bank and Gaza--calls into question whether the Palestinians are truly ready to create their own state. Until they are able to celebrate the creation of the Palestinian Authority in its current form, rather than the destruction of the state of Israel, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is only destined for more violence.

Jonathan Schanzer, a former U.S. Treasury intelligence analyst, is director of policy for the Jewish Policy Center and editor of inFOCUS Quarterly. He is author of Al-Qaeda's Armies: Middle East Affiliate Groups and the Next Generation of Terror.


Terrible TV
The U.S. is Losing the Larger War Against Terrorist Television
by Jonathan Schanzer
National Review Online
March 4, 2008

Last month, the U.S. Treasury Department smacked the Syria-based Al-Zawraa television station with the label of Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT). Treasury leveled the charge that al-Zawraa took cash from al-Qaeda and broadcast coded messages through patriotic songs to the Islamic Army of Iraq, a Sunni terrorist group that continues to attack Iraqi citizens and American soldiers. This was a small battle won in the War on Terror. However, the U.S. is losing the larger war against terrorist television.

Analyst Avi Jorisch first brought the problem to Washington's attention with the rise of Hezbollah's 24-hour al-Manar satellite channel, which broadcast the message "Death to America" to an estimated 15 million viewers before Jorisch's work eventually encouraged the Treasury Department to designate the channel as an SDGT in March 2006. While al-Manar viewership has since declined, two satellite providers, Arabsat, headquartered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the Egypt-owned Nilesat, continue to ensure that Hezbollah TV reaches millions of Muslims around the world.

The West's inability to remove al-Manar from the international airwaves inspired other jihadi broadcasters. In fall 2006, Hamas launched al-Aqsa television. The channel recently made headlines for using a character similar to Disney's Mickey Mouse to glorify suicide bombing in children's programs. Hammered by international criticism, the show's producers killed off their jihadi rodent, but has since replaced it with a Jew-eating bunny. As is the case with al-Manar, Arabsat and Nilesat continue to allow the Hamas channel to broadcast.

While al-Qaeda doesn't have its own satellite channel, it has its own Pakistan-based media operation, which produces videos that Arab television stations al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya are only too happy to run. The company is called al-Sahaab (the clouds) and is reportedly run by Adam Ghadan, an American member of al-Qaeda also known as "Azzam al-Amriki." Al-Sahaab provides its final products to a third party, a media company al-Fajr (the explosion or the dawn), which distributes videos to jihadist Internet outlets around the world. These videos continue to inspire al-Qaeda supporters and other jihadists worldwide.

More recently, Ghadan's group has upped the ante. Video messages of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri can now be downloaded to cell phones, CNN reports. When the service was first announced earlier this year, eight videos were available, including a tribute to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the former leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq who was responsible for dozens of terrorist attacks in Iraq before U.S. forces killed him in June 2006.

Then there is YouTube and Google video, sites that host millions of video shorts, most of them silly or frivolous. But they now contain thousands of videos glorifying terrorism, some even showing actual attacks. As the Guardian newspaper in the U.K. reported, "footage once available only in Baghdad shops and on jihadi message boards has appeared on video-sharing websites such as YouTube and Google Video."

A number of the videos show gruesome attacks against U.S. soldiers in Iraq. Others show Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters launching rockets into Israel, or recruitment videos exhorting Palestinian children to join the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas military wing.

Guardians of the Internet are growing increasingly alarmed over the surfeit of jihadi videos. They have thus created videos of their own. But, as pundit Michelle Malkin notes, anti-jihadist users of the same sites have reported having their videos yanked and accounts suspended for material deemed to be Islamophobic. Indeed, Pakistan recently ordered Internet service providers to block access to a YouTube video providing a sneak peek of a Dutch film they deemed "anti-Muslim" about the Koran.

While the designations of al-Manar or al-Zawraa clearly demonstrate that the U.S. government is aware of the threat of terrorist media, new challenges continue to surface with new media. A more strategic approach to the problem is still needed.

--Jonathan Schanzer, a former U.S. Treasury intelligence analyst, is director of policy for the Jewish Policy Center and editor of inFOCUS Quarterly. He is author of Al-Qaeda's Armies: Middle East Affiliate Groups and the Next Generation of Terror.

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