The Rubin Report
06 August ’11
Note: This article appeared in the Jerusalem Post in response to recent events. I hope this is the last time I address the issue. If you are going to forward or post a copy please use this one as it has a number of small improvements and is not cut.
Before I begin I want to make five points absolutely clear:
1. I was one of the first people in the world to write condemning the action in Norway as terrorism and as committed by a right-winger. Therefore–and based on my career of 35 years including 30 years working on counterterrorism–it should be clear that I would never endorse the murder of dozens of people. The irony is that a plea to fight terrorism by not granting it rewards was distorted into a pro-terrorist position!
2. A large portion of the Norwegian mass media has repeatedly stated that I endorsed the killings and called the kids at the camp terrorists. This is a lie. False quotes were attributed to my article. To my best knowledge, nobody in Norway tried to establish the truth or report fairly.
3. No Norwegian media–indeed no reporter from anywhere in the world–made any attempt to interview me on this issue and find out what I thought and what I wrote. Imagine, this is the biggest story in Norway and nobody contacted me at all.
4. The Jerusalem Post never discussed this issue with me nor contacted me to discuss the issue and hear my position. I have written for this newspaper for about 30 years without a single controversy arising before.
5. We have arrived at the strange situation in which the Norwegian media and apparently the Norwegian government considers me to be “pro-terrorist” but does not consider Hamas (and a number of other groups one could name) to be “pro-terrorist.”
What explains this kind of thing–deliberate lies, deceitful reporting, disinterest in truth, disinterest in fairness? Answer: The conversion of the public debate and media into propaganda exercises in which (ironically, McCarthyist) witchhunts are conducted and those entrusted with the sacred pursuit of truth and accuracy use their positions to spread lies, incitement, and indoctrination.
This has been going on now for some years but there’s nothing like experiencing something first-hand to comprehend it well. I now hope to get back to work as an analyst of international affairs and especially of the Middle East.
Foreign Minister Store with Hamas Prime Minister Haniya: Smiles at Hamas, Frown at Israel. Deny Being an Enabler of Terrorism. Norwegian media accuses me–but not Hamas–of supporting terrorism. Haniya on US. assassination of Usama bin Ladin,
“Of course we condemn the…killing of a Muslim jihad fighter….We pray for Allah to cover him with His mercy, next to the prophets, the righteous, and the martyrs.”
A Case Study from Norway: It Is Forbidden to Discuss How Political Enablers of Terrorist Groups Unintentionally Encourage Terrorism Without Being Labelled A Terrorist
By Barry Rubin
“I do not understand Norway’s position, and I say that as a friend of Norway. If they shoot, if they fire rockets, why doesn’t Norway believe that they are terrorists? What else do they need to do? Let us not forget that Norway and the other Scandinavian countries called in Yasir Arafat and said: `Iif you want a deal, you must first renounce terrorism. You must recognize the state of Israel, and you must commit yourself to peace.’ Why is all this forgotten? What is the difference between the PLO at that time and Hamas today?” –President Shimon Peres, May 2011
We want Palestine in its entirety—so there will not be any misunderstandings. If our generation is unable to achieve this, the next one will, and we are raising our children on this. Palestine means Palestine in its entirety, and Israel cannot exist in our midst…. We liberated Gaza through resistance. We want to conduct resistance in the West Bank as well.” — Hamas leader Mahmud Zahhar, July 2011, a few days before members of Norway’s ruling party expressed enthusiasm for helping Hamas. .
Ironically, the reaction to my article, “The Oslo Syndrome,” proved its thesis, the same point as the one President Shimon Peres made. If terrorism is empowered, terrorism is more likely to occur. That uncontroversial point has been blown up into something controversial by deceit.
The Norwegian government and media establishment wants no honest discussion of these issues. Instead, my article was misrepresented in order to stir up a frenzy that closed ears and shut eyes to what I was saying. Indeed, the Norwegian newspaper falsely claimed that I had endorsed the terrorist attack there.
How’s that for constructive dialogue and healing?
The blog “Israel Matzav” sums up my position very well:
“Rubin said that this terror attack, committed by a ‘normal Norwegian boy’ [not my words] ought to make Norwegians do some introspection about their government’s support for terror organizations like Hamas. Is Norway giving its youth the wrong message through its support for Hamas? Why is Norway not even willing to ask itself that question?”
And the Norwegian reaction is to reiterate–as the ambassador portrayed his country’s view–that there is a rational reason to murder Israeli children (“occupation,” despite the fact that Israel has withdrawn from all of the Gaza Strip, much of the West Bank, and indicated its readiness to accept a Palestinian state eleven years ago) but not to murder Norwegian children. In other words, one can only discuss the evil Norwegian terrorist in the parameters laid down by the Norwegian left. One can talk endlessly about how his specific ideology–right-wing, allegedly Christian, and Islamophobic–but not the way he fits into a much wider pattern of rising terrorism in general.
I didn’t write about the content of his ideology but about his choice of strategy on the basis of my three decades’ of scholarly study about terrorism. Why did the Norwegian terrorist think that killing people would help—not hurt—his cause? Because like terrorists around the world he sees other groups that use terrorism succeed politically, build a mass base of support, and gain sympathy for their cause despite their methods.
Second, nobody else apologizes for criticizing Israel in the harshest terms after terrorist attacks, something I did not do to Norway. No newspaper in the world to my knowledge apologized for the terrible things written on its pages about the United States after September 11.
The deputy foreign minister and foreign minister of Norway, who both attacked me, have never criticized Hamas or Hizballah by name. Last May, Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre explained, “We condemn organizations that are involved in terrorism, but Norway has considered the situation as such that having lists where we put an organization and call it a terrorist organization will not serve our purposes.”
Obviously, if Hamas was named as a terrorist group then cabinet ministers can’t have its leaders to tea. But by not naming it, they are saying: You can commit hundreds of acts of terror and it will cost you nothing politically. But if Israel responds, for example, by counterattacking into the Gaza Strip, we will condemn Israel.
Yes, this is a policy that encourages terrorism and makes it look successful: it wins sympathy for the cause and antagonism toward the victims. But while Norway won’t criticize terrorist groups by name, its officials and media are unrestrained in attacking Israel.
Alan Dershowitz has written from personal observation that in Norway, “Anti-Semitism doesn’t even mask itself as anti-Zionism.” And this behavior is carried on by public institutions and media.
Former Prime Minister Kare Willoch criticized President Barack Obama for appointing Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff because he was “Jewish.” Nor the author Jostein Gaarder who wrote an op-ed in Aftenposten entitled, “God’s Chosen People” at a time when three Israeli soldiers had been kidnapped by Hizballah and a war was on, describing Judaism as “an archaic national and warlike religion.” Apology?
In 2008, a Norwegian comedian said on national television, “I would like to wish all Norwegian Jews a Merry Christmas – no, what am I saying! You don’t celebrate Christmas, do you!? It was you who crucified Jesus.” Apology? Last year the minister of finance spoke at a largely Islamist-organized anti-Israel rally. Apology? A person who has served as a Foreign Ministry official remarked in 2008 that she occasionally wished the UN would send “precision-guided missiles against selected Israeli targets.” Apology?
But I never said and I’m not saying now that a terrorist attack took place in Norway because of its anti-Israel policies or atmosphere. Nor am I saying that Norway “supports” terrorism itself, that it applauds the murder of civilians elsewhere. What I’m saying–as nobody has publicly acknowledged in Norway—is that to show terrorists they will get more sympathy than Israel, to reward a group like Hamas, to say that terrorism can be ignored if directed against the “proper” people is to increase the overall level of terrorism against Israel and in the world, including in Norway itself.
You’ve never heard of Samira Munir and Norway’s establishment has swept her story away. She was a Norwegian politician of Pakistani origin who fought for women’s rights and against sharia law. She was found dead in November 2004, supposedly a suicide but seeming far more likely to have been a terrorist murder. She had received daily death threats by phone and walking down the street. Might this act, whose perpetrators were never punished, indicate that some people think they can commit terrorism, get away with it, and suffer no political damage?
If others who have extremist views and/or mental disorders see every day that terrorism produces political advantage and sympathy for those who commit it they are more likely to commit terrorism. If groups see their terrorism is no barrier to being invited to Norway and to have lunch with cabinet ministers while their enemies’ self-defense countermeasures will be condemned and vilified they are more likely to adopt terrorism as a strategy.
The underlying concept of the Norwegian response is that Norway is a country that isn’t supposed to have terrorism committed against it. But Israel is a country that deserves to have terrorism committed against it. My point is that neither country “deserves” to have this happen. That doesn’t mean Norway is guilty or should be punished or that an evil terrorist attack is justified. No, it means that Norway should be more consistently and universally against giving terrorists victories—even though it does so by ignoring their terrorism.
We are now approaching the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States. There were those then, including in Norway, who said the United States had it coming and the attack was due to its policies. There are always those—including in Norway—who say that Israel has it coming and the attack is due to its policies.
My view is the precise opposite. I’m saying about Norway precisely the same thing I said about the United States after September 11: the attack proves the need to take a tougher stance against terrorism and against all terrorist groups. If the world thinks al-Qaida won and its attack brought political gains, then there would be more terrorism. As it happened, there was tough action against al-Qaida itself but other terrorist groups concluded that terrorism worked, increased their operations, and did reap political rewards.
The world that the Norwegian government and left-wing media wants is to accept there are two groups in the world: those immune not only from criticism but from serious discussion of their actions, as compared with those who can be lied about with impunity, have hatred incited against them, and then must apologize for not staying in their place as second-class people with second-class rights to express their views.
What I wrote in the “Oslo Syndrome” is that people who accept rationales for terrorism and reward those movements politically increase terrorism. Equally, those who accept double standards, slanderous lies (without apology) about themselves in the media of other countries, and the consorting of those countries with groups that want to exterminate them only increase that behavior, too.
Here are some good responses to the situation:
A collection of antisemitic cartoons in the Norwegian media:
Alan Dershowitz article (free registration required)
A long analysis of Norway’s actions
Peres and Store quotes: http://www.newsinenglish.no/2011/05/06/peres-criticizes-norway-on-hamas/
Zahhar quote, http://www.memri.org/clip_transcript/en/3051.htm
Haniya quote http://www.memritv.org/clip_transcript/en/2910.htm