Comparing Jewish and Islamic Terrorism

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by Neil Godfrey

anonSolThere are a number of interesting similarities between

  • the West’s response to the anti-British terrorist campaigns of the Jewish terrorist groups Irgun and Lehi in the 1930s and 40s 


  • “our” response to Islamic terrorism in more recent years. 

There are also obvious differences but this post is taking a look at the similarities that struck me on reading Anonymous Soldiers: The Struggle for Israel, 1917-1947 by Bruce Hoffman.

Before looking at the parallels notice Hoffman’s striking concluding remarks on the relationship between the two terrorisms (my own bolding and formatting, pp. 483-4):

The Irgun’s terrorism campaign in fact is critical to understanding the evolution and development of contemporary terrorism. The group effectively directed its message to audiences far beyond the immediate geographic locus of its struggle — in New York and Washington and Paris and Moscow as much as in London and Jerusalem. This taught a powerful lesson to similarly aggrieved peoples elsewhere, who now saw in terrorism an effective means of transforming hitherto local conflicts into international issues.

  • Less than a decade later, the leader of the anti-British guerrilla campaign in Cyprus, General George Grivas, adopted an identical strategy. . . . the parallels between the two are unmistakable.
  • The internationalization of Palestinian Arab terrorism that occurred in the 1960s and 1970s would also appear to owe something to the quest for international attention and recognition that the Irgun’s own terrorist campaign . . . .
  • And the Brazilian revolutionary theorist Carlos Marighella’s famous Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla, which was essential reading for the various left-wing terrorist organizations that arose both in Latin America and in Western Europe during the 1960s and 1970s, embodies Begin’s strategy . . . .

Thus the foundations were laid for the transformation of terrorism in the late 1960s from a primarily localized phenomenon into the security problem of global proportions that it remains today.

Indeed, when U.S. military forces invaded Afghanistan in 2001, they found a copy of Begin’s seminal work, The Revolt, along with other books about the Jewish terrorist struggle, in the well-stocked library that al-Qaeda maintained at one of its training facilities in that country.


Extraordinary Rendition and Guantanamo for the “worst of the worst” 

The cabinet approved the decision two days later, and on October 19 [1944], 251 imprisoned Jewish terrorists whom the authorities deemed the most dangerous were secretly flown from Palestine to British-occupied Eritrea aboard eighteen DC-3 transport aircraft accompanied by fighter escort. (p. 153)

From there, Lankin was transferred under heavy guard to police headquarters at the Russian Compound for interrogation. Later that day he was brought to the adjacent central prison facility and, deemed the most dangerous of the lot, quickly transferred to Acre prison and then exiled to the secret terrorist detention facility in Eritrea. (p. 189)

International monitoring bodies like the Red Cross and problematic access to these remote prisons. . . .

The Geneva Convention said not to apply to terrorist prisoners who do not have POW status . . . .

As a result of intensive lobbying by Peter Bergson’s Hebrew Committee of National Liberation, in 1946 the Colonial Office had granted the [International Red Cross] access to the camp. It was less keen to do so again. The main reason was that following an escape in January 1947 the British army had decided to move the remaining prisoners to a more secure facility in Gilgil, Kenya. Operation Malvolio, as the relocation was code-named, was secretly completed between February and March 1947. The authorities were thus reluctant both to reveal this to the IRC and especially to allow its inspectors to visit the new camp. The Colonial Office accordingly had solicited the advice of the Foreign Office, which gladly provided a justification to reject the visit request. Because the 1929 Geneva Convention applied only to prisoners of war and the detainees in Kenya were not POWs, the IRC had no jurisdiction over them or their treatment. Indeed, the Foreign Office concluded, the camp’s military jailers and the Palestine administration “were free to treat [the] suspected Jewish terrorists as they saw fit.” (p. 441)

Many of those sent to the prisons 3,000 miles away in Africa were “mere suspects”. (p. 441)


Trial by Military Tribunals and Extraordinary Powers

Military tribunals — presided over by a field officer along with two more junior officers — would replace civilian courts to judge crimes involving the discharge of firearms, illegal possession of arms, bombs, and other weapons, and acts of sabotage and intimidation, with the first two categories punishable by death. All sentences were to be subject to confirmation by the GOC [General Office Commanding] — from which there would be no right of appeal. (p. 68)

Now, under the 1946 amendments, soldiers were given the right to arrest people without having to produce a warrant or court order and to detain them for up to seven days without having to justify this action before a court of law. Nor were warrants needed to conduct searches of any dwelling or building.

Trial by military tribunals was also reinstated with the tribunals rendering summary judgment: that is, no pretrial inquiry was required, nor was there any disclosure requirement, so the prosecution did not have to furnish evidence of its case to the accused. Tribunal members did not require any prior legal training, and although the rules of evidence based on English law governed court proceedings, these could be relaxed at the court’s discretion.

Finally, there was no right of appeal: the GOC alone had the authority to confirm, pardon, or overturn convictions. Life imprisonment was mandated for people convicted of wearing uniforms, parts of uniforms, or any police or military insignia or headgear, and five years’ imprisonment was specified for harboring or abetting any person suspected of violating the regulations. (pp. 248-49)


We came to help them. Why are they attacking us?

Memories are still fresh of Western armies occupying Iraq and being shocked to find that from among the people they had been told they were there to help came those who sought to kill them. The British soldier experienced the same in Palestine . . . .

Nevertheless, a perceived sense of ingratitude figured in an animus felt by some British troops toward the Jews. It was beyond the comprehension of many to understand why the Yishuv [Jewish community in Palestine], in the words of the Sixth Airborne’s official historian, “were misguided enough to regard the British army as their oppressor.”

Similarly, Major Roy Farran, one of the most highly decorated British officers during World War II, who had fought as a tank commander and then a commando in the elite Special Air Service (SAS) and in 1945 was serving as second-in-command of his old regiment, the Third Hussars, then attached to the Sixth Airborne Division in Palestine, also writes of the “displaced personnel we had seen in Europe, humble in their gratitude to us, their saviours, but I could not identify them with these ungrateful, well-fed whiners. No, rather I thought of the boys who had been urged forward to their death by propaganda about German atrocities to the Jews. Where did these things fit in?”

The best explanation perhaps is the ambiguous security conditions that prevailed in Palestine at this time. Brigadier R. N. Anderson, a combat engineer, explained the difficulties of coping in this perplexing environment. “Unlike the war, when one had one’s period of rest (normally amongst liberated peoples who were friendly),” he wrote, “the soldier is always on duty [in Palestine] and alert to the fact that, at any time, he may expect a murderous attack. In conditions where the moderate Jew will not cooperate with the Security Forces it is impossible to know who is friend or who is enemy.(p. 230)


Terrorism compared to medieval and Nazi barbarism

After a highly publicized torture and hanging of two British personnel by the Irgun terrorists. . .

Emblazoned across the front pages of newspapers were photographs of the gruesome death scene, leaving little to the imagination. Describing the lynching as an act of “medieval barbarism,” the Daily Express fumed that “not in the black annals of Nazi wickedness is there a tale of outrage more vile.” The more staid Times was equally unrestrained, commenting that “the bestialities practised by the Nazis themselves could go no farther.” (pp. 463-64)

Similar responses after the attack on the King David Hotel in Jerusalem:

The attack evoked horror and umbrage back in London. Addressing the House of Commons, Attlee termed it an “insane act of terrorism.” Daniel Lipson, a Jewish member of the opposition Conservative Party, declared that the bombing brought “dishonour and shame to the name of Jew”; his fellow Tory, the Earl of Winterton, described the Irgun “as vile and treacherous a foe as the Nazis. (p. 306)

Shaw regarded “terrorism in Palestine … [as] an infectious disease,” (p. 154)


The Youth attracted to terrorism

That many youth were being attracted to the terrorist organisations was also deplored. . . .

The problem, as [Chief Secretary for the Government of Palestine John Shaw] explained in a lengthy telegram to Stanley, was the growing “numbers of Jewish young men and women who are becoming infected with the gangster virus; these are providing recruits for the terrorist organization.” (p. 153)


Madrassas breed recruits and sympathizers

The Yishuv was the Jewish community in Palestine . . . .

“This was the direct outcome of the Jewish Agency’s “totalitarian organization and regimentation” of the Yishuv—which amounted to nothing less than the “negation of free thought and speech.” Sedition was taught in the schools and fomented by the Jewish youth movement in a manner, the chief secretary continued, that was “unpleasantly reminiscent of Hitler Youth.”

The effect could be seen both in the recruits swelling the terrorists’ ranks and in the dangerous number of passive sympathizers who, “even while they doubt the wisdom of [the terrorists’] methods, are multiplying.” (p. 154)


Terrorists become heroes to many, & many fear to betray them

A statement by the Irgun just after another attack. . . But Yishuv representatives often said they were opposed to the Irgun and terrorism generally.

“We know that the Yishuv is split on many social and political questions, but stands united behind the armed fight for our last hope. We also know that in his heart, every Jew is with us. (p. 148)


Rounding out this dismal picture was the terrorists’ own growing popularity with the Yishuv and the mounting disquiet their activities were causing among Arabs both in Palestine and farther afield.

Admiration for the skill and the courage of the terrorists” was palpable across the entire Jewish community, Lieutenant Colonel Martin Charteris, the director of military intelligence at army headquarters in Jerusalem during 1945 and 1946, who later became private secretary to Queen Elizabeth II, wrote. “Actuated by a spirit of complete ruthlessness, which takes no account of human life, provided with an abundance of targets and the initiative enabled to make their reconnaissance on the spot, and, above all, protected by the local population who are at best too frightened to give them up and at the worst, entirely their supporters, they have an enormous advantage over the forces of law.” (p. 246)


Why can’t the majority stop them if they oppose them?

From the Manchester Guardian‘s editorial . . .

“The wanton savagery of the terrorists, the inability of the Jewish majority to stop them, the inevitable but futile reprisals, the general atmosphere of hate and fear which is making life intolerable for soldiers and civilians: all these things continue and will continue until a settlement is reached.” (p. 391)


Widespread suspicion and hostility towards Muslims generally

Similarly, anti-Semitism began to resurface as a direct response to the terrorist attacks.

One British officer attributed anti-Semitism to the disposition of the Jews to refuse to show deference to their British “colonial masters”, but this feeling was degenerating into something far worse in the wake of terrorist attacks . . .

Only weeks before, a British officer with several years’ service in Palestine had written to the Foreign Office. “Among the British in Palestine,” he began, “suspicion and hatred of the Jew is being widely voiced with the bitterest venom. In some cases the crude surge of anti-semitic passion is worthy of a Nazi.” (p. 229)

But what this officer found most troubling was that these sentiments were progressing beyond mere verbal expressions of opprobrium into threats of physical violence. “Already ‘responsible officers’ are talking with vindictive relish of smashing the settlements to search for arms,” he warned. “The swine must be squashed” had become something of a battle call, with the Yishuv widely described as “The Enemy.” In this respect, the terrorist acts perpetrated by the Irgun and Lehi “played into the hands of the anti-semites, who were quick to blame the whole Jewish population for the political crimes of a few. (p. 229-30)

The increase in hostility towards Jews generally followed the King David Hotel bombing….

His point was taken up by Richard Crossman, a member of the Anglo-American Committee, who was troubled by the growing anti-Semitic attitudes evident within both the military and British society. His concerns were well justified. A report provided to army intelligence by an officer who had just returned to Palestine from leave in the U.K. evidenced precisely the same intemperate attitudes toward Jews that the Labour MP stated had taken hold in Britain. The pervasiveness of such views in the wake of the King David bombing is borne out by the Mass Observation research project, which documented the popular views of ordinary Britons from 1937 until the 1950s. “Leave them there to scrap it out,” one respondent commented, reflecting the prevailing mood. “It’s one of those dead end problems with no possible way out.” (pp. 312-13)


Bevin was characteristically blunt in his reply. “The British Government had not taken the initiative in blowing people up,” he told his guests. The foreign secretary described how a year earlier he had warned Weizmann and Shertok that “this terrorism was a dangerous thing to play with.” Britain, he continued, had long been the Jews’ “best friend … and now seemed to be almost their last friend.” Anti-Semitism was growing in Britain because of terrorism in Palestine. Bevin had never known it to be as blatant or rampant as it had become; indeed, the “destruction of the King David Hotel had burned deeply into the heart of the British people. (p. 331)

We’ve seen film of Arabs rejoicing over the deaths of soldiers . . .

A letter sent by the intelligence staff officer at army headquarters in Jerusalem to a Jewish Agency official in late June, concerning a traffic accident that involved an army vehicle, depicts even more starkly the mutual antipathy that was now commonplace. A soldier had been killed in the collision and horribly burned and mutilated. Jewish passersby had acted gleefully, the officer recounted, evidently “pleased such a thing had happened to a British soldier.” Some had also laughed when the “odd pieces of the soldier’s body” were being extricated from the wreck. “I don’t much like sending you the enclosed report,” he apologized, “because I know that there are plenty of Jews in Palestine who do not regard the Army as the successors to the Nazis, but it does explain the occasional anti-semitic attitude of some of our troops. (pp. 445-46)

A child killed . . .

Army intelligence in Palestine now feared that the “rising wave of anti-Semitism in England” might incite renewed attacks on the Yishuv by disgruntled soldiers and police in Palestine. Their concern was not unfounded. On the night of August 29, a Jewish settlement in the Shomron bloc was once again subjected to sustained indiscriminate gunfire from a nearby army camp—this time killing a nine-year-old child.(p. 464)


Not suicide bombers, suicide murderers 

The word “terrorist” appeared to be taking on a glamour association, so . . .

Instead, the War Office issued a directive specifying that the word “terrorist” would no longer be used in any military communication to describe “members of the Stern and Irgun and other Jews involved in outrage and sabotage.” The logic behind this change in terminology, the War Office explained, was to deprive the perpetrators of the “glamour” and publicity they received in press accounts of their operations.

An ancillary intention was to counter a tendency among law-abiding Jews to “dissociate” themselves from these acts much the same as Germans now dissociated themselves from the Nazis. The invidious rationale used was that “everything was blamed against the Nazis, yet no one professed to be a Nazi or to hold Nazi views,” while, in Palestine, “everyone blamed the terrorists as if they were a race apart” and provided no help to the authorities. “The so-called terrorists are in fact members of the Jewish community in Palestine. [The] word ‘terrorist,’ ” the order concluded, “will therefore not be used; when referring to such persons terms such as armed Jews, Jews, thugs, murderers will be used.” The troops applauded the decision, but it was completely ineffective as both the BBC and other news outlets continued to use the term. (p. 386)

In the opening quotation there was an allusion to the terrorist plan to gain publicity. I am not covering that or other goals of the terrorists in this post, however. However, I will mention their “righteous motivation”. . . .


Our righteous cause

Throughout the proceedings neither man would evince any sign of contrition or regret for his act, and they repeatedly rejected their attorneys’ suggestion that they save themselves by pleading temporary insanity. “What I did is right,” stated a note that both defendants signed and gave to the London Daily Express’s Cairo correspondent. As Bet-Zuri later explained, in a statement that is perhaps the classic elucidation of the terrorist mind-set, “Our deed stemmed from our motives, and our motives stemmed from our ideals, and if we prove our ideals are right and just, then our deed was just! (p. 199)


Clash of Civilisations

Prior to the Jewish terrorist actions (aspects of which are described above) there was an Arab Rebellion, 1936 to 1939. The British were able to crush them decisively because as a rule the Arabs challenged the British army in the open rural spaces and often in large formations. The Jewish terrorists operated quite differently — clandestinely and in the urban areas. But there were several terrorist attacks on Jewish targets nonetheless. The Jewish community (Yishuv) were divided on how to respond.

Like a deer in the headlights, the Yishuv, meanwhile, had no idea which way to jump. From the start, Weizmann had correctly grasped the existential threat that the Arab Rebellion posed to the Jewish national home.

On one side, the forces of destruction, the forces of the desert, have risen, and on the other stand firm the forces of civilization and building. It is the old war of the desert against civilization, but we will not be stopped,”

he had declared on April 23, 1936.

But other leading Zionists argued that such fears were not only exaggerated but counterproductive—ascribing to the Arabs an ideological cohesiveness and degree of coordination that did not exist.

Berl Katznelson, a lifelong Zionist-socialist, founding father of the Labor Party, and the editor of the leading Hebrew-language daily newspaper Davar, for instance, dismissed any talk of an Arab “rebellion” as nonsense. Katznelson couldn’t discern any distinct nationalist movement orchestrating the disorders.

“In all these terrorist manifestations,” he wrote, “one might find evidence of personal dedication to religious fanaticism and xenophobia, but we cannot discern anything else … Can this be described as nationalism? Let’s not believe it for a moment!”

This view reflected that of the high commissioner and other British officials as well and indeed many in the Yishuv who were also inclined to downplay both the dimensions and the consequences of the rebellion. (pp. 55-56)

Not everyone was so dismissive of the Arab rebellion as a chaotic force of darkness against civilization:

Ben-Gurion, however, would have none of it. “There are comrades among us who see only one enemy, the government,” he responded. “In their opinion, there is no uprising or revolt by the Arabs … I have a hard time understanding the astonishing blindness of people like [them].” In a letter to the Labor Party Central Committee in August 1936, Ben-Gurion expressed his bafflement with what he regarded as a willful denial of the facts. “The Arabs fight with arms and strikes, terror and sabotage, mayhem and destruction of property … What more must they do to make their acts merit the name of rebellion and uprising? (p. 56)

Ben Gurion knew that the Arab rebellion was no different in spirit and aim from the looming Jewish rebellion.


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37 thoughts on “Comparing Jewish and Islamic Terrorism”

  1. I beg to differ. Palestinian resistance is not terrorism. You have made an article of Jewish terrorist gangs. Connect the dots. “israel” was born out of terrorism and now resistance to that terror is “terrorism”? Doesnt add up

      1. No that was terrorism. They were illegal immigrants arming themselves to dispossess native Palestinians of of all persuasions (including Jews) of their country.

      2. This is getting away from the topic of the post. The point is not who was and was not a terrorist but a comparison of responses to what was acknowledged by all as terrorism of the day.

        (Jewish immigration into Palestine was legal, by the way; the Palestine administration set annual monthly quotas of Jewish families to enter. The illegal immigrants were those smuggled in to exceed those quotas — but the British responded to these illegals by attempting to reduce future numbers of legal entrants to compensate (with less than overly resounding success).)

    1. Resistance can take many forms of course. We know it can be passive, non-violent, “work-to-rules” and “go-slow”, civil disobedience, undermining through satire and humour, as well as sabotage and terrorism.

      The Irgun liked to recruit members who had a proven record in the French, Polish and other resistance movements against the Nazis:

      For his first attack, Eliav [director of the Irgun’s Jerusalem operations] recruited a decorated veteran of the French Resistance named Jacques Martinsky who had lost a leg during the war. The plan involved sending Martinsky to London with explosives concealed in his artificial limb that he would then use to construct a parcel bomb to be sent to the Colonial Office.

      “The Jews have an armed and organized strength of 54,000,” a report on internal security in the Middle East that the chiefs submitted to the war cabinet that same month explained. “Their technique in guerilla warfare is likely to be good, and among their leaders will be British, German and Polish Army trained officers and a number of experienced terrorists from Eastern Europe.”

      Another interesting quotation, this by Garcia-Granados, a UN diplomat speaking of three Irgun terrorists who had just been sentenced by a British military court to hang :

      “Some of you say these men are criminals,” he had lobbied his fellow delegates. “I don’t know. Only history can pass judgment on the Palestine underground. History alone will state the last word on the French, the Dutch, the Polish, the German, the Yugoslav, and the British underground. These men fought Hitler in defense of their country and their principles. We applauded them because we thought they were right. These men are fighting now for similar beliefs. How, then, can you condemn what they are doing?

      1. “Irgun Nazi collaboration”

        Some wartime documents from the German archives include reports sent back to Germany by the then German ambassador in Turkey, Franz von Papen. The reports give an account of discussions held in 1940-41, when the Nazis were at the height of their power & a defeat of Britain seemed imminent. The documents show that at the time, in the Middle East, German officials were meeting officials of the Zionist terror group, the Irgun Zvai Leumi. The documents contain favourable comments on the philosophy of the Irgun Zvai Leumi as being comparable with the philosophy of the Nazis. The papers describe proposals by the Irgun whereby the European Jews would all be sent to Palestine where, with German military backing, a nazi-type Jewish state would be set up which would be Germany’s ally against Britain.
        For the long term, the “grand strategy” at the time was to be after the defeat of Britain, the nazi-type Jewish state would control the Middle east on behalf of nazi Germany, whose close & personal ally it would be. The leader of the Irgun Zvai Leumi was Menachem Begin, who became the PM of Israel responsible for the invasion of Lebanon. The philosophy of the Irgun Zvai Leumi seems to have changed little & its influence in Israeli politics, through its successor political party, Likud, seems to have increased markedly. Resistance to Nazis grew throughout the years of the second world war in all occupied countries of Europe. In Czechoslovakia, Hitler appointed a man called Heydrich as the “protector” & co-ordinator of German activities. Heydrich was assassinated & in revenge the Nazis totally destroyed the village of Lidice. In 1948, the Irgun Zvai Leumi , in co-operation with other terrorist groups, incl the Stern Gang, of which Yitshak Shamir was a leader, perpetrated their own version of the atrocity against Lidice with cold blooded murder of men, women & children of the village of Deir Yassin, as part of their campaign to terrorize the Palestinians out of their homeland. And in 1985, official terrorism against the people of southern Lebanon remains the policy as the defeated & retreated IOF sought to extricate itself from the “accursed country.” Brutal repression against people in their own homeland by occupying forces does only one thing. It stirs up ever greater anger and resistance and as all history shows, it unites the people and leads to the defeat of the oppressors. Europe in the 2nd world war, Vietnam, Afghanistan & Lebanon all show that even the most sophisticated military forces cannot win in such circumstances.
        From: “Palestine – An Inescapable Duty” by David Watkins.

        1. I am making the following comment the last word on any further discussion about the Nazi association. It is from Bruce Hoffman’s Anonymous Soldiers. I will probably delete any further discussion on this topic.

          Undaunted by his failure to secure a modus vivendi with Italy, Stern shifted his attention to Germany. As preposterous as such an alliance now appears, there was an admittedly desperate logic behind Stern’s overture. To his mind, Britain was the Jews’ preeminent enemy because of its betrayal of the Balfour Declaration and throttling of the Jewish national home. Stern regarded Germany as only a “persecutor.” His enmity against Britain had hardened when Stern learned that his father was trapped in Poland—barred from entering Palestine and therefore consigned to an uncertain fate in war-ravaged Eastern Europe.

          Even though the Nazi execution squads were already at work in Poland, Stern held out hope for a solution that would spare Europe’s Jews annihilation. Given that the conference held in Wannsee, a Berlin suburb, where details of the Nazis’ “final solution” of the Jewish problem were formally articulated, was still a year away, Stern’s wretched gambit—however contemptible—is nonetheless barely comprehensible. It must also be kept in mind that he was absolutely certain that the Jews were now on the verge of a monumental historical turning point that could be exploited in their favor—provided that they were ruthlessly unsentimental and coldly calculating in parsing their few actual, remaining options.

          Although the precise chain of events remains obscure, it appears that the idea to approach the Nazis was Stern’s alone. His two loyal deputies, Hanoch Kalay and Benjamin Zeroni, evidently offered no opposition. Toward the end of the year, Stern ordered Naftali Lubenchik to travel to Beirut bearing the alliance offer. Lubenchik arrived in early January 1941 and presented a memorandum proposing a formal alliance between the “new Germany” and the “renewed National Popular Hebrew Movement” (that is, the Stern Group). Its fundamental premise was that Nazi Germany wanted to rid Europe of its Jewish population and that this could be accomplished by their mass evacuation to Palestine.

          Precisely how Berlin greeted this unusual invitation remains unknown. However, there is some indication that the Nazis might indeed have taken it seriously. The Jerusalem Consular Files of the U.S. Department of State contain a memorandum of a conversation held on June 6, 1941, between President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s secretary of state, Cordell Hull, and the Polish ambassador, Jan Ciechanowski. It states, “The Polish Ambassador … said that the Nazis were talking about the establishment of a Jewish state in Syria and Palestine where all Jews from central and eastern Europe would be located.” Although both Hull and Ciechanowski regarded the report as Nazi disinformation, the ambassador’s remarks suggest that Stern’s entreaty might not have been dismissed completely out of hand.

          Stern could not of course have known this, because there is no evidence of any German reply and Lubenchik himself was never able to report back to him in person. British intelligence intercepted Stern’s emissary in Syria and immediately transferred him to Palestine’s Mazra detention camp. Lubenchik, along with other Stern Group and Irgun members, was eventually exiled to a prison in Eritrea, where he died in 1946.

  2. The book appears to be a treasure trove of historical information. But I find some conclusions less convincing:

    – Just because 2 phenomena have features in common, is not sufficient reason to say that they are related. I miss in the review of the book a clear description how current Islamic terrorism is related to Jewish violence in 1931-1947. And for the same reason, it is not evident that there is a relationship between the British response and ‘our’ (sic) response to Islamic violence. An egg resembles a rugby ball in many aspects, but does this imply historical significance?

    – To suggest that Irgun and Lehi invented terrorism is giving them too much credit. The methods these groups employed were based on earlier terrorist organisations, in particular the Socialist Revolutionaries and the Combat Organization of the Polish Socialist Party in Czarist Russia.

    – And armed resistance against foreign occupation forces was certainly not a new phenomenon in Israel in 1940: Josephus reports on the ‘bandits’ who fought the Romans there in the first century.

    – I am doubtful about the significance of Begin’s book in Bin Laden’s library. It sounds to me like an urban myth (where is the evidence?). But even the book being in that library doesn’t mean that al Qaida copied Lehi methods: the vast majority of books in the al Qaida library were American military books, closely followed by works of Mao Zedong’s organization. Hence the American military and Chinese communists are likelier role models than Begin. (see 500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars By Kurt Eichenwald).

  3. Perhaps we should define “terrorism” before examining its circumstances. I would think that the main element is the murder or threat to murder innocent civilians, especially unarmed children. Historically, there have been terrorist attacks on Jews by Arabs/Muslims, including in the Palestine area, although the main point about the Zionist gangs, operative outside as well as in the ME, here is valid. Quite a fair point that resistance to violent invasion is justified. What about resistance to unarmed invasion?

  4. What I found particularly interesting was the way a small number of Jewish terrorists were responsible for fanning (and reigniting) negative attitudes towards Jews generally. I think most of us would see this is as an unjustified response when it applies to Jews.

    Yet today, when it’s another branch of the Semitic family and devotees of their faith who are the principle agents . . . .

      1. Hoffman quotes reports of officials/politicians/others who deplored this rise in anti-semitism as a response to the Jewish terror. They understood the reason for the rise of the hostile response but did not excuse it. They were condemning it.

        You beg to differ, it seems, but I am sure you don’t really believe that a resurgence in anti-semitism was justified.

        1. “anti-semitism” is as vague a concept as “Islamophobia”, though the way the former is used usually makes it more predictable than the latter. If there were many collaborators in the community, surely criticism of at least its leadership is justifiable.

            1. Most people accused of being anti-semites freely admit to being so. This is not the case with the “Islamophobes” term. Are there any self-proclaimed Islamophobes?

              In any case, both concepts are vague.

              “The term Islamophobia refers to unfounded hostility towards Islam. It refers also to the practical consequences of such hostility in unfair discrimination against Muslim individuals and communities, and to the exclusion of Muslims from mainstream political and social affairs.”

              -Harris and Coyne can easily reply that they have no unfounded hostility to Islam and have never discriminated against Muslim individuals and communities, and that they have never advocated all Muslims be excluded from mainstream political and social affairs. This label isn’t useful.

              1. Most people accused of being anti-semites freely admit to being so. This is not the case with the “Islamophobes” term. Are there any self-proclaimed Islamophobes?

                You are comparing apples with oranges.

                The people who say they are anti-Semites do not say they are Judaismphobia. A phobia is an irrational fear of something, anti-Semites maintain their fear of Judaism and Jews isn’t irrational, but rational.
                Similarly, people who admit to being anti-Muslims do not say they are Islamophobes – they even refuse to accept there is such a thing.

                -Harris and Coyne can easily reply that they have no unfounded hostility to Islam and have never discriminated against Muslim individuals and communities, and that they have never advocated all Muslims be excluded from mainstream political and social affairs. This label isn’t useful.

                It’s very useful – of course people can have legitimate fears about Islam and Muslims. The term however refers to irrational fears, and such fears do clearly exist. You can see these fears manifested when Harris talks about irrational things such as the only people in Europe that talk about Islam properly are the fascists, or that Islam will take over Europe.
                Coyne also displays Islamophobia when his fear becomes irrational and he starts using the works of people such as Sennels, who has said Muslims are retarted because of interbreeding.

              2. Well, it’s not exactly a secret that Muslim-majority countries don’t do well on international standardized tests. As for why that is, it’s debatable. The inbreeding explanation, I think, can be tested by Arab Christians; I suspect they have less of a tendency towards inbreeding than Arab Muslims.

                As for whether Islam will take over Europe, I’m uncertain. As Muslim fertility rates tend to fall in the West, this must happen through immigration, if it is to happen at all. Germany, Sweden, Norway, and even Russia are surely fine with the idea, but are there enough Muslims willing to emigrate to Europe? Dunno. There are over a hundred fifty million Muslims in North Africa alone.

              3. Here are the implications spelled out:

                As a direct result of inbreeding, the Muslim population is the only population on earth that is mentally and physically devolving. This inherent weakness makes Muslim populations more susceptible to nefarious, oppressive leadership and mass manipulation. The amount of objective evidence supporting this statement is colossal and obvious. — bolding original, from Barnhardt

                — No concept of humanity, no concept that Muslims are human like us with the same political and social and personal motivators and dynamics. . . . I recall someone not very long ago commenting a suggestion that if allowed all the people in developing countries would get up and come and settle in western countries . . . I at first thought it was a joke . . . no concept that “the other” might have the same sense of attachment to their own homes and cultures like “us”. . . This is the essence of the crudest “Orientalism” and Phobia and Ignorance of “The Other”.

              4. Neil, Neil, Neil. On the nature of the results of free immigration, just look at Puerto Ricans:
                Of course second-and-third worlders generally “have the same sense of attachment to their own homes and cultures like “us”” -in fact, this sense of attachment is generally stronger among Arabs, Indians, and Chinese (at least, today) than among those of northern European ancestry- which is precisely why they will chain migrate to the First World under open borders! Just look at the present-day migrant crisis! I can give you numerous anecdotal examples of families of hundreds of Middle Easterners settling down in the U.S. in the past fifty years. Don’t you think a sense of attachment to family and culture might have something to do with that?

                @Mark Erikson

                -What ignorance? Are you denying anything I’ve said? Are you denying the extent of inbreeding in the Muslim world?

                This inherent weakness makes Muslim populations more susceptible to nefarious, oppressive leadership and mass manipulation.

                -I suspect, this, if anything, is the opposite of the truth. Germany was certainly susceptible to “nefarious, oppressive leadership and mass manipulation” in the 1930s, yet, it’s not known for inbreeding. And Syrians, Iraqis, and other Arabs today simply do not fight as well for their countries as the Germans did in the 1930s, despite greater inbreeding among them, and despite equally persuasive mass manipulation.

                “no concept that Muslims are human like us with the same political and social and personal motivators and dynamics”

                -Are there any studies on this? Assuming each stimulus leads to an identical response from every person is strongly questionable.

                Yeah, Barnhardt’s rhetoric is highly overblown.

            2. IslamoPHOBIA is a term that implies irrational hatred or psychopathic aversion. It is therefore either completely indefensible and/or an indication of mental illness. Not all the indications listed in the comprehensive “definitions” provided here are in my view clearly indefensible. However, given the Runnymede Trust’s purpose and publications, I would say that it is a small example of the (misguided) de facto alliance of secular leftists with religious Islamists.

              Similar (though not precisely identical) considerations apply to pejoratives like “antisemitism”, “racism” and “Islamofascism” as they have developed by continual “abusage”.

              Such “terms” may deter unjustifiable hostilities. They can also deter freedom of thought and expression. Humpty Dumoty becomes Big Brother.

  5. A most significant question that arises:

    Would we apply “as a man believes so will he act” to Jews who believed they had a right to the land of Palestine free from British rule?

    (It is interesting to see that modern responses to terrorism are not new but appear to have been modeled on the British response to Jewish terror back in the 1940s.)

    1. “Would we apply “as a man believes so will he act” to Jews who believed they had a right to the land of Palestine free from British rule?”

      -Sure, why not? I believe “as a man believes so will he act” to be almost a truism.

        • The presence or absence of participants’ belief that their religion includes a proscription on premarital sexual activity was not a significant predictor of the survival of abstinence from 12 to 19 years of age.

          — Leonard, KC & Scott-Jones, D 2010, ‘A Belief-Behavior Gap? Exploring Religiosity and Sexual Activity Among High School Seniors’, Journal of Adolescent Research, vol. 25, no. 4, pp. 578-600.

        • No serious academic argues that all—or even most—cognitive extremists will go on to embrace violence. The notion of a ‘unidirectional relationship’ between beliefs and terrorism may exist in the minds of some right-wing bloggers, but it has never gained traction among members of the scholarly community

          — Neumann, PR 2013, ‘The trouble with radicalization’, International Affairs, vol. 89, no. 4, pp. 873-893. DOI: 10.1111/1468-2346.12049

        1. Ah, but the question should have been whether the religion forces a person to hell for premarital sexual activity. Most American Christianity is of the “we-are-all sinners” type, so this is a huge confounding factor.

          My guess is most cognitive extremists won’t go on to embrace violence due to lack of opportunity.

          1. This is shifting the goal posts. The fact is there is the belief of proscription involved; beliefs are either sufficient to drive action on their own or not regardless of whether they specifically involve hell.

              1. It’s irrelevant what the consequences for violating proscriptions are. If “as a man believes so will he act”, beliefs of proscription would be enough to mark a notable rise in the success of abstinence.

              2. Well, most American Baptists/Evangelicals/Fundamentalists believe man is perpetually in sin, and that Jesus was the only sinless man. This inevitably colors the way they perceive “a proscription on premarital sexual activity”. Their reasoning, I suspect, is that if premarital sex is a sin, man’s never free from sin, so why not engage in it? I really wish Godfrey used a less ambiguous example here.

              3. Again, this merely sidesteps the problem by appealing to consequences of violating the proscription. The fact that the believer may not acknowledge any explicit consequence wouldn’t negate appreciation of proscription. The item under discussion isn’t about punishment or reward, it’s about principle. If a man believes that something is an offense against God, a lack of enforcement wouldn’t make this anything other than violation of their own belief.

                You are now arguing that a belief has been rendered impotent by a completely separate belief, thereby having no power to drive any action at all, in defense of the argument that belief drives action. You present a scenario where the believer does the exact opposite of what they believe because of a lack of enforcement, something which wasn’t accounted for in the above almost-triusm.

                And if we played this game of chutes and ladders, where we interpreted all beliefs in light of other beliefs to the point where anything said about religious belief could be turned into an utterly banal statement with no personal meaning whatsoever, where would that leave us? How would you connect any beliefs to actions when I can theorize conflict with other theoretical beliefs that would negate any driving force behind them?

          2. How many Muslims in America have never had an opportunity to kill a single nonbelieving neighbour or random stranger — especially if they die a martyr as a consequence of “acting on their beliefs”. . . .!!! Someone here is crazy — maybe it’s because the Muslims are all inbred so they lack the intelligence to recognize their opportunities for jihad and martyrdom.

            1. Ah, but as the wise one Harris explains, they could just be biding their time and hiding their true feelings (contempt for “Western” values) behind a convenient cloak of “liberalism”:

              ‘Zakaria observes that Muslims living in the West generally appear tolerant of the beliefs of others. Let us accept this characterization for the moment—though it ignores the inconvenient reality that many Western countries now appear to be “hotbeds of Islamic militancy.” Before we chalk this up to Muslim tolerance, however, we should ask ourselves how Muslim intolerance would reveal itself in the West. What minority, even a radicalized one, isn’t generally “tolerant” of the majority for most of its career? Even avowed terrorists and revolutionaries spend most of their days just biding their time. We should not mistake the “tolerance” of political, economic, and numerical weakness for genuine liberalism’ (End of Faith, 115)

            2. I never even bothered reading that book, but out of curiosity went to amazon to see the reviews just now, and I came across a one-star review by none other than … Neil Godfrey! 😀

            3. There are very few open unbelievers in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, etc. -Less than 3%. And it takes money to travel to infidel lands. That’s probably a big reason for why Indonesians are under-represented among Islamic State recruits.

              Come on, Neil, the only way I can see that the effect of inbreeding on intelligence could manifest itself here is via absence of human capital and not being able to earn enough money.

  6. what happened to these terrorists/resistance organizations?….
    —they were absorbed into the IDF the Israeli Defense Forces….and thus, one might say, terror became legal…..

  7. The suggestion that genetic factors may have some cultural or religious consequences may seem “noxious”. It is actually a possibility. However, it requires evidence not easily obtained.

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