To this excellent article, and others like it that may follow — requiring, of course, a great deal of mental stamina, and a certain implacability — something else can be added. It is something over-arching that goes beyond the viciousness (see Robert Fisk, see Barbara Plett) or laziness or parti-pris banality, and fixed phrases and fossilized thoughts, of the journalists who never quite manage to see what is staring them in the face. They never undertake the kind of study that might make their reports more than mere (tendentious) reports, but would make them into material that would help explain things. Islam is in the minds and hearts of men, Islam cannot be seen, so those who report on it have to learn about it. They should not assume that they can “learn about it” from just being around Muslims and taking what they tell a reporter at face value.
There is no depth to them, no connecting of the dots. Apparently one becomes a journalist without having to pass an examination in anything. Too often, one is sent first here for a few years, and then there. The training of journalists, and the demands made — or rather that fail to be made — on them either by their employers, or by the public, or by fellow journalists, all have created the situation one endures today. It is not only to be found in the atrocious coverage of the Arab Muslim war on Israel, in which everything is devoid of context, lacking in historical sense, and often revealing a tendentiousness that is by now such a given that those who complain about it are in turn ignored, despite the sobriety of detail that they offer to justify such complaints. As the article above suggests, almost no reporting by the major wire services (such as AP, or the even more outrageous Reuters) even attempts to present anything about the non-stop war being made on Israel, and the balance of forces. They see that Israelis are currently more powerful than either the Gazan Arabs or the “West Bank” Arabs and are content with that optical illusion. This reflects both thoughtlessness and an out-of-context cruelty that has become unendurable to readers who, thanks to their own reading, and to the Internet, and to such sites as this one, or to MEMRI, know a good deal more than the average reader.
Those people know what Israel endures. Some of them know not only the history and purpose of the Mandate for Palestine, but also about the other League of Nations Mandates. They know about when the “Palestinian people” were invented and why. They know about the Arab attempts to suppress all non-Muslim and non-Arab peoples in the Middle East and North Africa. They understand what the word “Jihad” means and, what’s more, they understand that the instruments of Jihad have now been deployed all over the Western world, and threaten the countries and civilization of Western Europe — which is to say, threaten us, in North America — in a way that they never could before. They understand also that if there were even the most minimally adequate reporting on the Lesser Jihad against Israel, and on the attempt by Israelis to defend themselves (with so little understanding by so many) against an unceasingly hostile enemy, this would help to alert non-Muslims as to the general problem of the worldwide Jihad — that is, to the worldwide effort or duty imposed on Muslims to engage directly or indirectly in a “struggle” to push back the boundaries of Dar al-Islam, to remove every obstacle to the spread, and then to the dominance, of Islam. And the greatest of these obstacles are the American Constitution, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Successive Israeli governments, out of the ignorance, have not been truthful with the Israeli public about the never-ending nature of the war being made on them. But such a calculation is wrong. There is a salutary effect to learning a dismal truth, and then girding one’s national loins to deal with that situation. To represent the conflict truthfully to those who would impose their idiotic and Islam-ignoring “solutions” to what is an insoluble, but perfectly manageable problem — that is the course Israel, and all who wish her well, should be urging.
And while it is always pleasing to find an example of an educated or advanced Muslim (or Muslim-for-identification-purposes-only Muslim) — a Kuwaiti or Qatari law dean here, a Saudi there who, having been educated in Britain, mocks his own imams and the Al-Saud and the alliance of convenience between the most fanatical Muslim clergy and the most worldly, corrupt, and thieving of ruling families — no one in the West should confuse these occasional heartening examples of intelligence and moral sense with what those who take their Islam deeply to heart (who will always greatly outnumber the handful of advanced souls) will always think. What they will always think is that any Infidel nation-state that exists on land once possessed by Muslims, or still worse, exists now practically within Dar al-Islam, must be destroyed, sooner or later, and the land returned to Muslim rule. While ultimately the whole world must be made a place where Islam dominates, on the To-Do List of Muslims, the lands once ruled by Muslims have priority.
Unless this is understood — and it isn’t hard, it’s not elementary particle physics, nor molecular biology, after all — and unless the reporters reporting on the Middle East or other largely Muslim areas are forced by their employers or by the mockery of readers, to learn about Islam, then coverage of the “Arab-Israeli dispute” or, put much more tendentiously and sinisterly, “Israel/Palestine” (which reifies a non-existent state), will continue to appall the well-informed.
It is amazing to realize that reporters are sent to the Middle East without having been asked to really study, and give evidence of such successful study, of the area, in detail, ahead of time. Familiarity with Islam means familiarity with the texts and tenets of Islam. That does not mean simply flipping through a Qur’an. It means reading, re-reading, the Qur’an, and the most relevant (and “authentic”) Hadith, and becoming familiar with the major events in the life of Muhammad, and the role of Muhammad in the lives of Muslims today. It means a study of Islamic conquest, and the subjugation, by Muslim Arabs, and the disappearance, or quasi-disappearance, or continued persistent survival, of the many and various peoples who once lived in the Middle East and North Africa. It means learning the history as well of the Ottoman Empire, of the League of Nations’ Mandate system, and of the real — not the false — history of the area. And in the case of the Arab claims made against Israel, it means having a good knowledge of the legal, moral, and historic claims of the Jews, which in turn requires a good knowledge not only of what has happened in the area since May 1948, but what happened in the 1920s and 1930s under the Mandate, and indeed, a good knowledge of immigration and demographic trends in the area from the 19th century on, when the “ruin” and “desolation” and “emptiness” of the area was reported by every Western traveller who included the Holy Land in his itinerary during trips abroad. And such preparation — journalism needs standards, and only the well-prepared should be sent on such assignments, requiring knowledge of all kinds — should include also information demographic, cadastral, political, military, on those parts of the Ottoman Empire that later were assigned to the Mandate for Palestine.
Any reporter who has not thoroughly familiarized himself with what is in the minds of men — in the minds of, for example, smooth-talking endlessly mendacious Saeb Erekat, or in the mind of Mahmoud No-One-Here-But-Us-Accountants Abbas, fresh from meeting-and-greeting that great hero, Samir Kuntar — has no right, no intellectual and therefore no moral right, to report on either the Gazan Arabs, or the “West Bank” Arabs, or what divides (and what unites) the Fast Jihadists of Hamas who now rule the former, and the Slow Jihadists of Fatah who attempt to rule the latter.
Furthermore, no reporter who covers Kurdistan in the north of Iraq, or Darfur, or Algeria and Morocco, should fail to comprehend that not only is Jihad to be waged on non-Muslims, but because Islam is a natural vehicle for Arab supremacism, the Arabs have no difficulty at all in denying linguistic and cultural rights, and then political and economic rights as well, even to non-Arab Muslims. But you have not read, in the regular, and too-obviously failing press, the slightest hint of this Arab supremacism, or how Islam turns out to be its perfect vehicle, even as it pretends to be a “universalist” faith with equal treatment for all Muslims.
Nor is there any note taken by our intrepid but ill-prepared (because ill-educated) reporters and columnists, of the resentment of non-Arab Muslims toward Arab Muslims and their most successful imperialism — islamization leads to arabization. They take no note of how among the most advanced non-Arab Muslims this Arab supremacism within Islam is dimly beginning to be recognized, and might usefully be encouraged, in order to diminish the appeal of Islam to targets of Da’wa, and to diminish the appeal of Islam to at least some of the 80% of the world’s Muslims who are not Arab.
And no one assigned to “cover Israel and the ‘Palestinians'” should be uncurious about such things as when the very idea of a “Palestinian people” was invented, and why. No one sent to the Middle East should be a deep believer in that concept prompted by ARAMCO’s decades of propaganda, “the Arab World.” They should have attempted to find out about the treatment of Copts, Maronites, Assyrians and Chaldeans, and many other groups. Why does the King of Jordan have Circassian guards? Why did Hafez al-Assad so trust his court contingent of Armenian guards? Why did Christians form the household staff for Saddam Hussein? What exactly prompted the ideology of Ba’athism, and why did it succeed only in two places — Syria and Iraq? These are the kind of things that the mediocre reporters cannot answer, and have no idea why the inability to answer such questions fatally points up their lack of understanding that, in turn, makes them into nothing but the merest reporters, and reporters who cannot see behind the most obvious surface of things. They have no context, no understanding, no ability to convey the meaning or the sense of things, or how the dots connect, because they themselves are inferior, at this point, in such understanding, to a small but growing part of their audience.
And as that audience becomes, through self-education, ever more knowledgeable about Islam — the gorilla, the King Kong, in the room — so grows, pari passu, contempt for the thin and tendentious gruel that is offered up, by AP, by Reuters, by Agence France Presse, by the BBC, by The New Duranty Times and The Bandar Beacon, by [your local newspaper here].