View of the Arab world by an Arab
Let me warn you, this is not casual reading. It is likely to be very unsettling for you, as it was for me. This
is for our education...not for our entertainment. This is the future of the world unfolding before our eyes... for
better..or for worse.
Take pride in our armed forces; they are vital for our continued existence.
/s/ LeRoy Collins, Jr.
VIEW OF THE ARAB WORLD BY AN ARAB
The Arab who wrote this is: Haim Harari, Chair, Davidson Institute of
Science Education. Past President, Weizmann Institute of Science. This
is being passed on for your enlightenment and/or action. Once you start
reading this you may understand the current world situation a little
A View from the Eye of the Storm
Talk delivered by Haim Harari at a meeting of the International Advisory
Board of a large multi-national corporation, April, 2004:
As you know, I usually provide the scientific and technological
"entertainment" in our meetings, but, on this occasion, our Chairman
suggested that I present my own personal view on events in the part of
the world from which I come.
I have never been and I will never be a Government official and I have
no privileged information. My perspective is entirely based on what I
see, on what I read and on the fact that my family has lived in this
region for almost 200 years. You may regard my views as those of the
proverbial taxi driver, which you are supposed to question, when you
visit a country.
I could have shared with you some fascinating facts and some personal
thoughts about the Israeli-Arab conflict. However, I will touch upon it
only in passing. I prefer to devote most of my remarks to the broader
picture of the region and its place in world events. I refer to the
entire area between Pakistan and Morocco, which is predominantly Arab,
predominantly Moslem, but includes many non-Arab and also significant
Why do I put aside Israel and its own immediate neighborhood? Because
Israel and any problems related to it, in spite of what you might read
or hear in the world media, is not the central issue, and has never been
the central issue in the upheaval in the region.
Yes, there is a 100 year-old Israeli-Arab conflict, but it is not where
the main show is.
The millions who died in the Iran-Iraq war had nothing to do with Israel.
The mass murder happening right now in Sudan, where the Arab Moslem
regime is massacring its black Christian citizens, has nothing to do
The frequent reports from Algeria about the murders of hundreds of
civilians in one village or another by other Algerians have nothing to
do with Israel.
Saddam Hussein did not invade Kuwait, endanger Saudi Arabia and butcher
his own people because of Israel.
Egypt did not use poison gas against Yemen in the 60's because of Israel.
Assad the Father did not kill tens of thousands of his own citizens in
one week in El Hamma in Syria because of Israel.
The Taliban control of Afghanistan and the civil war there had nothing
to do with Israel.
The Libyan blowing up of the Pan-Am flight had nothing to do with
Israel, and I could go on and on and on.
The root of the trouble is that this entire Moslem region is totally
dysfunctional, by any standard of the word, and would have been so even
if Israel had joined the Arab league and an independent Palestine had
existed for 100 years.
The 22 member countries of the Arab league, from Mauritania to the Gulf
States, have a total population of 300 millions, larger than the US and
almost as large as the EU before its expansion. They have a land area
larger than either the US or all of Europe.
These 22 countries, with all their oil and natural resources, have a
combined GDP smaller than that of Netherlands plus Belgium and equal to
half of the GDP of California alone.
Within this meager GDP, the gaps between rich and poor are beyond belief
and too many of the rich made their money not by succeeding in business,
but by being corrupt rulers.
The social status of women is far below what it was in the Western World
150 years ago.
Human rights are below any reasonable standard, in spite of the
grotesque fact that Libya was elected Chair of the UN Human Rights
According to a report prepared by a committee of Arab intellectuals and
published under the auspices of the U.N., the number of books translated
by the entire Arab world is much smaller than what little Greece alone
The total number of scientific publications of 300 million Arabs is less
than that of 6 million Israelis.
Birth rates in the region are very high, increasing the poverty, the
social gaps and the cultural decline.
And all of this is happening in a region, which only 30 years ago, was
believed to be the next wealthy part of the world, and in a Moslem area,
which developed, at some point in history, one of the most advanced
cultures in the world.
It is fair to say that this creates an unprecedented breeding ground for
cruel dictators, terror networks, fanaticism, incitement, suicide
murders and general decline. It is also a fact that almost everybody in
the region blames this situation on the United States, on Israel, on
Western Civilization, on Judaism and Christianity, on anyone and
anything, except themselves.
A word about the millions of decent, honest, good people who are either
devout Moslems or are not very religious but grew up in Moslem families:
They are double victims of an outside world which now develops
Islamophobia, and of their own environment which breaks their heart by
being totally dysfunctional.
The problem is that the vast silent majority of these Moslems are not
part of the terror and the incitement, but they also do not stand up
against it. They become accomplices, by omission, and this applies to
political leaders, intellectuals, business people and many others. Many
of them can certainly tell right from wrong, but are afraid to express
The events of the last few years have amplified four issues, which have
always existed, but have never been as rampant as in the present
upheaval in the region.
A few more years may pass before everybody acknowledges that it is a
World War, but we are already well into it.
These are the four main pillars of the current World Conflict, or
perhaps we should already refer to it as "the undeclared World War III":
1. The first element is the suicide murder.
Suicide murders are not a new invention but they have been made popular,
if I may use this expression, only lately. Even after September 11, it
seems that most of the Western World does not yet understand this
weapon. It is a very potent psychological weapon. Its real direct impact
is relatively minor. The total number of casualties from hundreds of
suicide murders within Israel in the last three years is much smaller
than those due to car accidents. September 11 was quantitatively much
less lethal than many earthquakes More people die from AIDS in one day
in Africa than all the Russians who died in the hands of Chechnya-based
Moslem suicide murderers since that conflict started. Saddam killed
every month more people than all those who died from suicide murders
since the Coalition occupation of Iraq.
So what is all the fuss about suicide killings? It creates headlines. It
is spectacular. It is frightening. It is a very cruel death with bodies
dismembered and horrible severe lifelong injuries to many of the
wounded. It is always shown on television in great detail. One such
murder, with the help of hysterical media coverage, can destroy the
tourism industry of a country for quite a while, as it did in Bali and
But the real fear comes from the undisputed fact that no defense and no
preventive measures can succeed against a determined suicide murderer.
This has not yet penetrated the thinking of the Western World. The U.S.
and Europe are constantly improving their defense against the last
murder, not the next one. We may arrange for the best airport security
in the world. But if you want to murder by suicide, you do not have to
board a plane in order to explode yourself and kill many people. Who
could stop a suicide murder in the midst of the crowded line waiting to
be checked by the airport metal detector? How about the lines to the
check-in counters in a busy travel period? Put a metal detector in front
of every train station in Spain and the terrorists will get the buses.
Protect the buses and they will explode in movie theaters, concert
halls, supermarkets, shopping malls, schools and hospitals. Put guards
in front of every concert hall and there will always be a line of people
to be checked by the guards and this line will be the target, not to
speak of killing the guards themselves. You can somewhat reduce your
vulnerability by preventive and defensive measures and by strict border
controls but not eliminate it and definitely not win the war in a
defensive way. And it is a war!
What is behind the suicide murders? Money is, money and power and
cold-blooded murderous incitement, nothing else. It has nothing to do
with true fanatic religious beliefs. No Moslem preacher has ever blown
himself up. No son of an Arab politician or religious leader has ever
blown himself up.
No relative of anyone influential has done it. Wouldn't you expect some
of the religious leaders to do it themselves, or to talk their sons into
doing it, if this is truly a supreme act of religious fervor? Aren't
they interested in the benefits of going to Heaven? Instead, they send
outcast women, naive children, retarded people and young incited
hotheads. They promise them the delights, mostly sexual, of the next
world, and pay their families handsomely after the supreme act is
performed and enough innocent people are dead.
Suicide murders also have nothing to do with poverty and despair.
The poorest region in the world, by far, is Africa. It never happens
there. There are numerous desperate people in the world, in different
cultures, countries and continents. Desperation does not provide anyone
with explosives, reconnaissance and transportation. There was certainly
more despair in Saddam's Iraq than in Paul Bremmer's Iraq, and no one
exploded himself. A suicide murder is simply a horrible, vicious weapon
of cruel, inhuman, cynical, well-funded terrorists, with no regard to
human life, including the life of their fellow countrymen, but with very
high regard to their own affluent well-being and their hunger for power.
The only way to fight this new "popular" weapon is identical to the only
way in which you fight organized crime or pirates on the high seas: the
Like in the case of organized crime, it is crucial that the forces on
the offensive be united and it is crucial to reach the top of the crime
pyramid. You cannot eliminate organized crime by arresting the little
drug dealer on the street corner. You must go after the head of the
If part of the public supports it, others tolerate it, many are afraid
of it and some try to explain it away by poverty or by a miserable
childhood, organized crime will thrive and so will terrorism.
The United States understands this now, after September 11. Russia is
beginning to understand it. Turkey understands it well. I am very much
afraid that most of Europe still does not understand it. Unfortunately,
it seems that Europe will understand it only after suicide murders
arrive in Europe in a big way. In my humble opinion, this will
definitely happen. The Spanish trains and the Istanbul bombings are only
the beginning. The unity of the Civilized World in fighting this horror
is absolutely indispensable. Until Europe wakes up, this unity will not
2. The second ingredient is words, more precisely lies.
Words can be lethal. They kill people. It is often said that
politicians, diplomats and perhaps also lawyers and business people must
sometimes lie, as part of their professional life. But the norms of
politics and diplomacy are childish, in comparison with the level of
incitement and total absolute deliberate fabrications, which have
reached new heights in the region we are talking about. An incredible
number of people in the Arab world believe that September 11 never
happened, or was an American provocation or, even better, a Jewish plot.
You all remember the Iraqi Minister of Information, Mr. Mouhamad Said
al-Sahaf and his press conferences when the US forces were already
inside Baghdad. Disinformation at time of war is an accepted tactic. But
to stand, day after day, and to make such preposterous statements, known
to everybody to be lies, without even being ridiculed in your own
milieu, can only happen in this region. Mr. Sahaf eventually became a
popular icon as a court jester, but this did not stop some allegedly
respectable newspapers from giving him equal time. It also does not
prevent the Western press from giving credence, every day, even now, to
After all, if you want to be an anti-Semite, there are subtle ways of
doing it. You do not have to claim that the holocaust never happened,
and that the Jewish temple in Jerusalem never existed. But millions of
Moslems are told by their leaders that this is the case. When these same
leaders make other statements, the Western media report them as if they
could be true.
It is a daily occurrence that the same people who finance, arm and
dispatch suicide murderers, condemn the act in English in front of
western TV cameras, talking to a world audience, which even partly
believes them. It is a daily routine to hear the same leader making
opposite statements in Arabic to his people and in English to the rest
of the world. Incitement by Arab TV, accompanied by horror pictures of
mutilated bodies, has become a powerful weapon of those who lie, distort
and want to destroy everything.
Little children are raised on deep hatred and on admiration of so-called
martyrs, and the Western World does not notice it because its own TV
sets are mostly tuned to soap operas and game shows. I recommend to you,
even though most of you do not understand Arabic, to watch Al Jazeera, from
time to time. You will not believe your own eyes.
But words also work in other ways, more subtle. A demonstration in
Berlin, carrying banners supporting Saddam's regime and featuring
three-year old babies dressed as suicide murderers, is defined by the
press and by political leaders as a "peace demonstration". You may
support or oppose the Iraq war, but to refer to fans of Saddam, Arafat
or Bin Laden as peace activists is a bit too much. A woman walks into an
Israeli restaurant in mid-day, eats, observes families with old people
and children eating their lunch in the adjacent tables and pays the
bill. She then blows herself up, killing 20 people, including many
children, with heads and arms rolling around in the restaurant. She is
called "martyr" by several Arab leaders and "activist" by the European
press. Dignitaries condemn the act but visit her bereaved family and the
There is a new game in town: The actual murderer is called "the military
wing", the one who pays him, equips him and sends him is now called "the
political wing" and the head of the operation is called the "spiritual
leader". There are numerous other examples of such Orwellian
nomenclature, used every day not only by terror chiefs but also by
Western media. These words are much more dangerous than many people
realize. They provide an emotional infrastructure for atrocities. It was
Joseph Goebels who said that if you repeat a lie often enough, people
will believe it. He is now being outperformed by his successors.
3. The third aspect is money.
Huge amounts of money, which could have solved many social problems in
this dysfunctional part of the world, are channeled into three
concentric spheres supporting death and murder.
In the inner circle are the terrorists themselves. The money funds their
travel, explosives, hideouts and permanent search for soft vulnerable
targets. The inner circles are primarily financed by terrorist states
like Iran and Syria, until recently also by Iraq and Libya and earlier
also by some of the Communist regimes. These states, as well as the
Palestinian Authority, are the safe havens of the wholesale murder vendors.
They are surrounded by a second wider circle of direct supporters,
planners, commanders, preachers, all of whom make a living, usually a
very comfortable living, by serving as terror infrastructure.
Finally, we find the third circle of so-called religious, educational
and welfare organizations, which actually do some good, feed the hungry
and provide some schooling, but brainwash a new generation with hatred,
lies and ignorance. This circle operates mostly through mosques,
madrasas and other religious establishments but also through inciting
electronic and printed media. It is this circle that makes sure that
women remain inferior, that democracy is unthinkable and that exposure
to the outside world is minimal. It is also that circle that leads the
way in blaming everybody outside the Moslem world, for the miseries of
the region. The outer circle is largely financed by Saudi Arabia, but
also by donations from certain Moslem communities in the United States
and Europe and, to a smaller extent, by donations of European
Governments to various NGO's and by certain United Nations
organizations, whose goals may be noble, but they are infested and
exploited by agents of the outer circle. The Saudi regime, of course,
will be the next victim of major terror, when the inner circle will
explode into the outer circle. The Saudis are beginning to understand
it, but they fight the inner circles, while still financing the
infrastructure at the outer circle.
Figuratively speaking, this outer circle is the guardian, which makes
sure that the people look and listen inwards to the inner circle of
terror and incitement, rather than to the world outside. Some parts of
this same outer circle actually operate as a result of fear from, or
blackmail by, the inner circles. The horrifying added factor is the high
birth rate. Half of the population of the Arab world is under the age of
20, the most receptive age to incitement, guaranteeing two more
generations of blind hatred.
Some of the leaders of these various circles live very comfortably on
their loot. You meet their children in the best private schools in
Europe, not in the training camps of suicide murderers. The Jihad
"soldiers" join packaged death tours to Iraq and other hotspots, while
some of their leaders ski in Switzerland. Mrs. Arafat, who lives in
Paris with her daughter, receives tens of thousands of dollars per month
from the allegedly bankrupt Palestinian Authority, while a typical local
ringleader of the Al-Aksa brigade, reporting to Arafat, receives only a
cash payment of a couple of hundred dollars, for performing murders at
the retail level.
4. The fourth element of the current world conflict is the total
breaking of all laws.
The civilized world believes in democracy, the rule of law, including
international law, human rights, free speech and free press, among other
liberties. There are naive old-fashioned habits such as respecting
religious sites and symbols, not using ambulances and hospitals for acts
of war, avoiding the mutilation of dead bodies and not using children as
human shields or human bombs. Never in history, not even in the Nazi
period, was there such total disregard of all of the above as we observe
now. Every student of political science debates how you prevent an
anti-democratic force from winning a democratic election and abolishing
democracy. Other aspects of a civilized society must also have
limitations. Can a policeman open fire on someone trying to kill him?
Can a government listen to phone conversations of terrorists and drug
dealers? Does free speech protect
you when you shout "fire" in a crowded theater? Should there be death
penalty, for deliberate multiple murders? These are the old-fashioned
dilemmas. But now we have an entire new set.
Do you raid a mosque, which serves as a terrorist ammunition storage? Do
you return fire, if you are attacked from a hospital? Do you storm a
church taken over by terrorists who took the priests hostages? Do you
search every ambulance after a few suicide murderers use ambulances to
reach their targets? Do you strip every woman because one pretended to
be pregnant and carried a suicide bomb on her belly? Do you shoot back
at someone trying to kill you, standing deliberately behind a group of
children? Do you raid terrorist headquarters, hidden in a mental
hospital? Do you shoot an arch-murderer who deliberately moves from one
location to another, always surrounded by children? All of these happen
daily in Iraq and in the Palestinian areas. What do you do? Well, you do
not want to face the dilemma. But it cannot be avoided.
Suppose, for the sake of discussion, that someone would openly stay in a
well-known address in Teheran, hosted by the Iranian Government and
financed by it, executing one atrocity after another in Spain or in
France, killing hundreds of innocent people, accepting responsibility
for the crimes, promising in public TV interviews to do more of the
same, while the Government of Iran issues public condemnations of his
acts but continues to host him, invite him to official functions and
treat him as a great dignitary. I leave it to you as homework to figure
out what Spain or France would have done, in such a situation.
The problem is that the civilized world is still having illusions about
the rule of law in a totally lawless environment. It is trying to play
ice hockey by sending a ballerina ice-skater into the rink or to knock
out a heavyweight boxer by a chess player. In the same way that no
country has a law against cannibals eating its prime minister, because
such an act is unthinkable, international law does not address killers
shooting from hospitals, mosques and ambulances, while being protected
by their Government or society. International law does not know how to
handle someone who sends children to throw stones, stands behind them
and shoots with immunity and cannot be arrested because he is sheltered
by a Government. International law does not know how to deal with a
leader of murderers who is royally and comfortably hosted by a country,
which pretends to condemn his acts or just claims to be too weak to
The amazing thing is that all of these crooks demand protection under
international law, and define all those who attack them as "war
criminals," with some Western media repeating the allegations.
The good news is that all of this is temporary, because the evolution of
international law has always adapted itself to reality. The punishment
for suicide murder should be death or arrest before the murder, not
during and not after. After every world war, the rules of international
law have changed, and the same will happen after the present one. But
during the twilight zone, a lot of harm can be done.
The picture I described here is not pretty. What can we do about it? In
the short run, only fight and win. In the long run, only educate the
next generation and open it to the world. The inner circles can and must
be destroyed by force.
The outer circle cannot be eliminated by force. Here we need financial
starvation of the organizing elite, more power to women, more education,
counter-propaganda, boycott whenever feasible and access to Western
media, internet and the international scene. Above all, we need a total
absolute unity and determination of the civilized world against all
three circles of evil. Allow me, for a moment, to depart from my alleged
role as a taxi driver and return to science. When you have a malignant
tumor, you may remove the tumor itself surgically. You may also starve
it by preventing new blood from reaching it from other parts of the
body, thereby preventing new "supplies" from expanding the tumor. If you
want to be sure, it is best to do both.
But before you fight and win, by force or otherwise, you have to realize
that you are in a war, and this may take Europe a few more years.
In order to win, it is necessary to first eliminate the terrorist
regimes, so that no Government in the world will serve as a safe haven
for these people.
I do not want to comment here on whether the American-led attack on Iraq
was justified from the point of view of weapons of mass destruction or
any other pre-war argument, but I can look at the post-war map of
Western Asia. Now that Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya are out, two and a
half terrorist states remain: Iran, Syria and Lebanon, the latter being
a Syrian colony. Perhaps Sudan should be added to the list. As a result
of the conquest of Afghanistan and Iraq, both Iran and Syria are now
totally surrounded by territories unfriendly to them. Iran is encircled
by Afghanistan, by
the Gulf States, Iraq and the Moslem republics of the former Soviet
Union. Syria is surrounded by Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Israel. This is a
significant strategic change and it applies strong pressure on the
terrorist countries. It is not surprising that Iran is so active in
trying to incite a Shiite uprising in Iraq. I do not know if the
American plan was actually to encircle both Iran and Syria, but that is
the resulting situation.
In my humble opinion, the number one danger to the world today is Iran
and its regime. It definitely has ambitions to rule vast areas and to
expand in all directions. It has an ideology, which claims supremacy
over Western culture. It is ruthless. It has proven that it can execute
elaborate terrorist acts without leaving too many traces, using Iranian
Embassies. It is clearly trying to develop nuclear weapons. Its
so-called moderates and conservatives play their own virtuoso version of
the "good-cop versus bad-cop" game. Iran sponsors Syrian terrorism, it
is certainly behind much of the action in Iraq, it is fully funding the
Hezbollah and, through it, the Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad, it
performed acts of terror at least in Europe and in South America and
probably also in Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia and it truly leads a
multi-national terror consortium, which includes, as minor players,
Syria, Lebanon and certain Shiite elements in Iraq. Nevertheless, most
European countries still trade with Iran, try to appease it and refuse
to read the clear signals.
In order to win the war it is also necessary to dry the financial
resources of the terror conglomerate. It is pointless to try to
understand the subtle differences between the Sunni terror of Al Qaeda
and Hamas and the Shiite terror of Hezbollah, Sadr and other Iranian
inspired enterprises. When it serves their business needs, all of them
It is crucial to stop Saudi and other financial support of the outer
circle, which is the fertile breeding ground of terror. It is important
to monitor all donations from the Western World to Islamic
organizations, to monitor the finances of international relief
organizations and to react with forceful economic measures to any small
sign of financial aid to any of the three circles of terrorism.
It is also important to act decisively against the campaign of lies and
fabrications and to monitor those Western media who collaborate with it
out of naivety, financial interests or ignorance.
Above all, never surrender to terror. No one will ever know whether the
recent elections in Spain would have yielded a different result, if not
for the train bombings a few days earlier. But it really does not
matter. What matters is that the terrorists believe that they caused the
result and that they won by driving Spain out of Iraq. The Spanish story
will surely end up being extremely costly to other European countries,
including France, who is now expelling inciting preachers and forbidding
veils and including others who sent troops to Iraq. In the long run,
Spain itself will pay even more.
Is the solution a democratic Arab world?
If by democracy we mean free elections but also free press, free speech,
a functioning judicial system, civil liberties, equality to women, free
international travel, exposure to international media and ideas, laws
against racial incitement and against defamation, and avoidance of
lawless behavior regarding hospitals, places of worship and children,
then yes, democracy is the solution.
If democracy is just free elections, it is likely that the most fanatic
regime will be elected, the one whose incitement and fabrications are
the most inflammatory. We have seen it already in Algeria and, to a
certain extent, in Turkey. It will happen again, if the ground is not
prepared very carefully. On the other hand, a certain transition
democracy, as in Jordan, may be a better temporary solution, paving the
way for the real thing, perhaps in the same way that an immediate sudden
democracy did not work in Russia and would not have worked in China.
I have no doubt that the civilized world will prevail. But the longer it
takes us to understand the new landscape of this war, the more costly
and painful the victory will be. Europe, more than any other region, is
the key. Its understandable recoil from wars, following the horrors of
World War II, may cost thousands of additional innocent lives, before
the tide will turn."
Politicians prefer unarmed peasants.
Haim Harari, Chair
Davidson Institute of Science Education
Past President, Weizmann Institute of Science
/s/ LeRoy Collins, Jr.