I was over at Huffington Post yesterday and noticed the latest entry from Alan Dershowitz amazingly titled, "Terrorism Causes Occupation, Not the Other Way Around". Seriously. I'm not joking. Click the link and see for yourself. He wrote it and even signed his name to it. Honestly, I don't think even a defense attorney of Dershowitz' stature can convince a jury of that one.
His argument unravels within just a few keystrokes:
"The oft-reported mantra that "occupation causes terrorism" has been disproved over and over again by history and contemporary experience."
"Just this week, the old myth was once again uncut by the arrests in
of two-dozen suspects in a plot to blow up ten commercial airliners. There is no British occupation about which the suspects care." Britain
, of course, is one of the freest countries on Earth. The suspects do not live--and apparently have not lived--under occupation (unless they consider the entire Christian world to be occupied by "crusaders." And yet the same slogan--that occupation causes terrorism--will persist." Britain
There is no occupation about which they care? Are you sure? You've talked to them about it? Isn't the entire world aflame right now over the
What's even more stunning about this passage is the fact that the plot to which he refers was to be directed against the United States, not Britain. The airlines in question are American companies. The explosions were to take place over the United States. How'd he miss that one?
Oh, but wait. It gets worse. He continues by listing a litany of what he calls examples that supposedly refute the "occupation causes terrorism" thesis:
"First, Palestinian terrorism began well before there was any occupation. It began in 1929 when the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem ordered a terrorist attack against Jewish residents of
, whose families had lived in that Jewish holy city for generations." Hebron
I don't know whether to laugh or cry over such stupidity. The British occupation of
Also, I think the hostility to the Jews living there had at least a little bit to do with the effort to make the land and its holy sites theirs exclusively. I could be wrong but it makes sense to me. It also made sense to Rabbi Baruch Kaplan, survivor of the 1929 Hebron massacre to which Dershowitz alludes. Rabbi Kaplan believed the massacre was a direct result of provocation from the local zionists. His account of that incident is worth reading.
But that's not all, oh no. Dershowitz goes on:
Second, other occupied people, for example the Tibetans, have never resorted to terrorism against innocent Chinese civilians, though their occupation has been longer and more brutal than anything experienced by the Palestinians.
I'm only going to say this once. The Tibetan resistance is largely pacifist. Their leader is the Dali Lama. What did he think they'd do? Dershowitz seems to think he's caught lightening in a bottle with the revelation that pacifists might eschew terrorism. Stop the presses! I'm surprised his next line didn't cite Jesus of Nazareth's refusal to blow up any civilian chariots. Also, a small portion of those Tibetens who did not resort to terrorism are muslims. Is Dershowitz extolling the virtue of pacifism for others while promoting aggressive militarism for Israel?
Here are some alternative examples from history that Dershowitz notably omitted from his article:
was occupied by the Afghanistan which led directly to armed resistance from the mujahadeen there, the forerunner of Al Qaeda. Remember them, Mr. Dershowitz? Usama bin Laden cut his terrorist teeth in that occupation. USSR
- Hezbollah, the very group we are told
so desperately needs to destroy, did not exist until Israel did exactly the same thing it's doing today. That is to bomb, invade and occupy Israel . Expelling the Israeli occupation was the whole reason that group came into existence. The suicide attacks they staged as a response to that occupation are widely cited as the first ever instances of Islamic suicide bombings. How convenient it is that Dershowitz never mentioned them in his article. We can't let a glaringly contradictory fact that like get in the way of defending any and everything Israel's government does, can we? Lebanon
- Terrorism in
before the Iraq -led occupation? Almost nil. Terrorism afterwards? What do you think? US
I could go on for volumes but the point is clear. I would actually like to stop but Dershowitz didn't. He kept this foolishness up for several more merciless paragraphs so, although my fingers may grow tired, I press forward:
Third, terrorism against
got worse after Israel ended its occupation of southern Israel and Lebanon , as these unoccupied lands became launching pads for rockets, missiles and kidnappings. Gaza
That is, after having successfully created Hezbollah and Hamas out of thin air with their actions, Israel withdrew and found themselves worse off than they were before. My point exactly. Does this prove the failure of the withdrawal or of the occupation to begin with?
At this point it seems that Dershowitz surely must have begun to recognize the unsupportable nature of his argument. He would have done well to abandon it right then and there. Sadly, he didn't:
Fourth, while it may be that a brutal occupation may increase the number of people willing to become suicide bombers, it is also true that no suicide bomber ever sent himself. They are sent by well educated, affluent leaders like Usama bin Laden, who do not live in occupied areas but who have terrorized the U.S., Australia, Great Britain and Spain, which do not occupy any Arab lands.
Instead he tried to mitigate the weakness of his point by acknowledging only that occupations increase the number of suicide bombers but pawning that fact off on other factors, like affluent leaders from the outside. But to lay all the blame there one would have to assume that there are people who, absent any actual grievance, are willing to blow themselves up for money (???). Equally unfortunate is his decision to cite as his example Usama bin Laden, scion of a fairly conservative Saudi family, who only became radicalized by what he saw in the illegal occupation (there's that word again) of
Also, did he just say the US, Britain and Australia do not occupy any Arab lands? Has he even heard of Iraq? "Coalition of the Willing"? Does that ring a bell? The distinction between Arabs and Chaldeans not withstanding, Iraq has a large Arab population and is clearly a muslim nation. What is this man talking about? (Sigh)
On he goes still:
Fifth, Islamic terrorists have sworn to continue terrorism even if
were to end its occupation of the Israel West Bank, as it did of the Gaza Strip and Southern Lebanon. They regard all of as occupied. Even if there were no Israel , terrorism would persist as long as any part of the world is not under Islamic control. Israel
Citation, please. Which Islamic terrorists are you talking about? Do you think they're all the same? A quote would have been nice here.
It should be noted that shortly after the electoral victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections its leader, Khaled Mishal, offered to end Hamas' armed resistance if Israel would withdraw from all Palestinian territories it occupied after the 6-day war of 1967. But Israel has no intention of ever leaving those lands so there is no disarmament of Hamas either. It could easily be argued that Hamas' willingness to accept the 1967 borders carries with it a clear acceptance of Isreals sovereignty within those borders, ergo its "right to exist". But what did Israel do in response? It unilaterally annexed 1/3 of the West Bank, intensifying its occupation. So who really doesn't want peace? Whose "right to exist" is really being threatened here? For a glimpse of what the Palestinians are seeing, take a look at this map of Israeli usupations of their territory since 1967. What's left for Palestine?
By the way, if they want all the world under Islamic control why aren't they bombing
Those points aside, to test his theory Dershowitz should let us all know how many Islamic terrorist attacks had taken place before the creation of
The illogical onslaught continues without remorse or pity:
Accordingly, occupation does not cause terrorism. Terrorism is caused by the culture of death preached by radical Islamic clerics and by the world's reaction to it--namely making concessions and blaming the victims of terrorism who fight back. Terrorism persists because it is rewarded--because it works. Occupation does not cause terrorism, but terrorism does cause occupation and reoccupation.
would have left Israel and much of the Gaza West Banklong ago if not for the fear of terrorism from that area. It never would have gone into southern in 1982 were that area not being used as a base for terrorism. Now Lebanon has once again entered southern Israel to stop rocket attacks and try to retrieve its kidnapped soldiers. Lebanon
This passage is riddled with a dizzying array of misinformation. Radical Islamic clerics are portrayed here as having been created in a vacuum, absent any cause of their radicalism, since occupation has already been dismissed out of hand. We are left to assume they are just nameless, faceless, blood-drenched Arabs who can only be dealt with violently by Dershowitz' estimation. He describes Israel’s actions in Gaza and Lebanon as necessary to stop terrorist attacks launched from there before it was occupied. But he fails to note that the terrorists to whom Israel was responding were (guess who?) the Palestinians whose lands had been.. yes... occupied by
At this point I'd like to take a break from deconstructing Dershowitz' attacks on the "occupation causes terrorism" theme. It also needs to be pointed out that this thesis itself is a straw man of his own creation. No one to my knowledge has ever postulated that only occupation causes terrorism. It's clearly one factor that has led to much of the terrorism we've seen throughout history and it's completely absurd for him to argue otherwise. But it was never seen by anyone with good sense as the only cause terrorist activity and anyone who might have thought so is clearly mistaken. Some terrorism is home grown in response to domestic discontent absent any physical presence of a foreign force. Any revolutionary guerilla movement is labeled terrorist by the existing government it aims to overthrow and many do engage in terrorist activity to further their agendas. Still, there's no denying the many instances, some of which I've touched upon here, where occupation has clearly led directly to terrorism.
So the core premise of Dershowitz' rant fails completely. The mere existence of terrorists who currently hail from unoccupied territory is not mutually exclusive of the fact that occupations can and do lead to terrorism. Furthermore, the mere existence of occupied peoples who did not resort to terrorism is equally irrelevant. No one has ever claimed that occupation always the results in terrorism either. But the correlation is self-evident. Dershowitz has grossly overreached by claiming flatly that occupation absolutely does not cause terrorism. I seriously wonder if he was awake when he typed this article.
Lastly, I would like to apologize for the prohibitive length of this post. I started this blog knowing full well of my tendency for wordiness and have made a point of editing myself for brevity (believe it or not). However, there are times when I am forced to make concessions to the positive, exponential relationship between the stupidity of a given argument and the amount of typing required transmit an adequate response, lest any sublevel of the idiocy slip by unlamented. I have tried to deal with this as succinctly as possible but the man is simply so dead wrong on so many levels that it took this much writing just to get halfway through what he wrote. So, I will return tomorrow finish this off in another post. If you've lasted long enough to read this far you've earned my thanks.