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Lotus Eaters

By Nidra Poller

We are at war. We must fight to win.

No other description of the current state of the Western world can accommodate all pertinent concrete facts and integrate them into a coherent whole. Then how can we explain the particular form of denial that flourishes in our nations, intensifying in rhythm with the worldwide conflict it refuses to recognize? A telling example of this sublime irresponsibility is the recent publication in the Washington Post of an op-ed by Ismail Haniyeh, identified innocently as the Palestinian PM, in which the author compares Hamas to the patriots who fought for American independence.

It happens that Haniyeh's apology for jihad terrorism in sheep's clothing appeared on July 11th, just as Bombay was hit by multiple train attacks that killed over 190 civilians in an operation tragically similar to those perpetrated in Madrid and London...and coming soon to your local train station. Haniyeh's sinister taqqiya was published on the eve of an unprovoked Hizbullah attack on Israel's northern border. While rockets fired from Lebanon and Gaza were wreaking havoc on civilian targets, Haniyeh was given prime space to denounce an Israeli "aggression under false pretenses." According to the Hamas PM the June 25th Palestinian cross-border attack was in fact an Israeli ploy: "The 'kidnapped' Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit is only a pretext for a job scheduled months ago." Whereas the civilian casualties falsely attributed to Israel are proof of inhumanity: "Was Israel defending itself when it killed eight family members on a Gaza beach last month or three members of the Hajjaj family on Saturday, among them 6-year-old Rawan?" We can easily imagine what motivates a Hamas chief to twist the facts. But what motivates Washington Post editors? Why would they grant implicit legitimacy to dishonest arguments that justify unprovoked aggression against Israel, formulated by a leader of an organization dedicated to the extermination of Jews?

We can call the editors all kinds of names: Leftwing traitors, deluded pacifists, jihad fellow travelers, pro-Palestinian fashion victims, whores wriggling for Arab money. But it won't satisfy the intellectual--and strategic--need to understand what motivates this inexcusable abuse of press freedom. We have to understand why seemingly rational journalists could in all sincerity commit an unforgivable sin against the very foundations of our nation.

What is the mechanism that allows Washington Post editors to not only observe but report on concrete facts and still not understand that we are at war because war is being waged against us, and we must win because if we lose Washington DC will look like Mogadishu? They are lotus eaters, and the lotuses they swallow are lethal narratives, and what prevents them from seeing the enemy at our gates is that these lethal narratives are both the weapon and the war, the WMDs of the war they cannot recognize. In the story they tell we have not been attacked; we have been simply reminded of our guilt by the downtrodden we mercilessly persecute. The shahids who blow themselves up on Israeli street corners, the "insurgents" who knock off a few dozen Iraqi civilians per day, the great train robbers who demolish hundreds of lives in a few minutes, the "spiritual leaders" who inject death wish into the very wombs of mothers, the reality show beheaders, the 9/11 demolition crews, all of these grim reapers are, to the clouded minds of the lotus eaters, the voice of the oppressed appealing to our humanitarian conscience. They want peace and justice. But the armed-to-the-teeth Israelis and the gun slinging Americans have spoiled the heady dreams of one world, one deep sigh, one true embrace.

Whether the attacks are civilian planes against the WTC or inhuman bombs in Jerusalem buses the lotus eaters will never admit that these acts of war are the cause of whatever reaction follows. Lethal narratives are crude and slipshod but they lock into post-modern minds where cause and effect waver on a sliding scale; everything is moveable. Those evil planes streaking through a clear blue sky were not the beginning of something, they were the last act of legitimate exasperation: the victims of injustice, colonialism, neo-colonialism, capitalism, globalization, and racism who had tried in vain to make their grievances heard through the usual channels, finally resorted to this desperate gesture, which we must strive to understand.

The same mechanism allows the New York Times to justify its orgy of revelation of military secrets that endanger our troops in action. By claiming that Bush lied and dragged us into an illegal war journalists not only soothe their conscience they actually undo the reality of war. The alleged lie spreads from the justifications to the war itself. It too is a lie. There is, then, no reason for our soldiers to be in harm's way and, consequently, no reason for the NY Times to hold its tongue. Bush's alleged sins absolve jihadi atrocities in Iraq; Palestinian victimhood justifies atrocities against Israel; lethal narratives relieve press and public opinion from responsibility for their words and judgments. In the post-modern world of perverse deconstruction, no truth can be self evident.

Flashes of reality stand out clearly: Palestinians elect a Hamas government, Hamas is a terrorist organization, Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with Hamas, PA president Mahmud Abbas cannot prevail upon Hamas, Fatah and Hamas are engaged in ferocious internecine warfare, Palestinian civilians are caught in a deadlock of their own making, Abbas threatens to call for a referendum, Hamas can't be sure of winning, no sane Western political leader will enter into relations with a Hamas government... Then, suddenly, a lethal narrative hits the wires with an emotional punch: a doctored news report featuring an orphaned Palestinian waif is passed off as news. And it works! Heartless Israeli gunboats shelled a Gaza beach, eight civilians are killed, dozens injured. It's not true. The civilians are victims of Palestinian ordinance. But the finger pointed at Israel remains in place and a new round of jihad is packaged as a legitimate response to the murder of civilians.

A month after the Gaza Beach Massacre was exposed as a crude Hamas machination, the Washington Post has forgotten all of the above. Ismail Haniyeh is Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority. He no longer speaks for Hamas. His voice is as good as any, his version as reliable as yours or mine, his accusations against Israel are no more reprehensible than the kidnapping of Galid Shalit, and his reading of American History deserves space in a major newspaper published in the nation's capital.

Now that Hizbullah has chimed in with its own cross-border attack, killing and kidnapping soldiers before unleashing massive attacks against civilian targets and threatening annihilation of Israel, Hizbullah chief Nasrallah will have as much right as Haniyeh to explain to Americans how the extermination of the Jews is a noble endeavor in the hallowed tradition of our founding fathers.

Unless someone can awaken the lotus eaters from their self-destructive dreams.


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