Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Political Islam’s ‘Disinformation’

July 16, 2013 12:49 pm 2 comments

Mohamed el-Beltagy, a Muslim Brotherhood member running for the lower house of the Egyptian parliament in 2011. Photo: Al Jazeera English.

How could the Muslim Brotherhood and other proponents of political Islam (including the violent kind) fool so many in the West for such a long time? Why did the West accept their demagoguery about “Islamic democracy” or “the rule of law” instead of recognizing that the former is an oxymoron and the later is Shari’a law?

The answers to these questions provide insights into both who the political Isalmists are and who we are, but one thing is clear: Ideologists of political Islam have not devised anything new in the lying or propaganda or demagogy departments. They have taken advantage of the various turns of the world, including what some call “the civilizational crisis of the West.”

The ideologues who invented “political Islam” have, from the beginning, understood the U.S. and the West very well. Knowing what they could get away with without alarming us permitted them to perpetuate their system of “democracy.” This was amplified by the personal ties they developed with Western intellectuals and political figures, their participation in Western civic life, and large financial contributions to Western academic institutions and cultural centers.

A simple explanation of why and how the West fell for this deception is that our openness facilitated this deceipt, and their largess dulled and blinded us.

However, there is more to it than that.

An expert on “disinformation,” Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest ranking intelligence agent to defect to the U.S. from the former Soviet Bloc, who recently published a book on this topic, says the West fell into the trap of “dezinformatsia” (Russian for “disinformation”). “Dezinformatsia” means gulling persons and organizations into doing one’s bidding.

Disinformation allowed the Soviets to influence, for example, national liberation and peace movements, and took the edge off the West’s instinctive negative reaction to propaganda. It also allowed the Russians to inject seemingly innocent and high-minded ideas into political dialogue. They twisted terms that many in America took for granted. The mantra “peace and justice” is perhaps the best example.

Others argue that political Islam’s ideologues learned a great deal from the Nazis – Hitler especially, given his courtship of Islamic leaders and his skill at playing the West diplomatically during the 1930s.

But we’re still left with the question of how political Islam became accepted in America.

At first, political Islam failed to raise our concern because it seemed medieval, minor, and far away. By the time September 11 rolled around, it had developed into a broad movement, well-funded and organized and deeply installed in many countries, including the U.S. (principally thanks to the Muslim Brotherhood and its student, charitable, civic and cultural organizations).

Warnings from Middle East analysts about what was being said in the Muslim world were legion in the late 1970s and early 1980s.  The Islamist takeover of Iran in 1979 was political Islam’s first major milestone. By that time, however, the West had fallen into the lazy belief that the troubles in Muslim countries (as in all the underdeveloped world) were due to a lack of economic development and social injustice.

In part, we have the Soviets and the European Left to thank for our embrace of that belief. Post-Vietnam anti-Americanism of our own making made us susceptible to the notion that the U.S., West, and capitalism had made us sin against the rest of the world.  This was the time when Edward Said and his multitude of followers condemned the West for regarding Muslim countries as incapable of civil society and “normal” political behavior.

September 11 forced us to consider that Islamism (not Muslims) might not be as peaceful as advertised. Yet we failed to seize the opportunity to find ways to contain the Islamist menace. Instead, we refused to accept the truth. It is no accident that the “War on Terror” was the conceptual result of 9/11. Not even George Bush was willing to admit that we were in a war with political Islam, not terrorism.

From Bush forward, we’ve hedged our language.  In our usual naïve fashion, we hoped (and most still do, like too many German Jews in 1933) that the Islamists would just go away sooner or later.  After all, ideology doesn’t feed and clothe people, produces tyranny that all men abhor, etc. We believed (and many still do) that there were things that we could give to the Muslim world that would turn them in the direction of “normal nationhood.” These included generous financial assistance and what (to us) was useful rhetoric that championed human rights, freedom, participatory government, etc.

Nothing we did changed their dogma, lessened their hatred, or blunted their influence. As the problem deepened, we stuck to our guns (first, out of not knowing what else to do because we failed to understand who and what this adversary was and, second, because we lacked faith in our own values and achievements, or took them for granted).

Our response to the recent revolt against Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood displays once again that we will continue to proceed in the same vein. Read President Obama’s take on events.

Among other things, he said, “As I have said since the Egyptian Revolution, the United States supports a set of core principles, including opposition to violence, protection of universal human rights, and reform that meets the legitimate aspirations of the people.” However, there was not one word about how the Morsi government political bulldozer had abused all of these and decreed Shari’a law.

Obama was also dismayed by the undoing of a “free election” and the removal of the Morsi government.  Although last year’s presidential election was surely tainted by the Brotherhood, for Obama it was apparently free enough. Moreover, he was upset at the suspension of the Shari’a-based “constitution,” which violated individual rights and political freedoms.

Finally, Obama said, “The United States continues to believe firmly that the best foundation for lasting stability in Egypt is a democratic political order with participation from all sides and all political parties – secular and religious, civilian and military.”

Although it may be seen as a simple plea for inclusiveness, Obama’s iteration of Egyptian democratic society as “secular and religious, civilian and military” not only offered succor to the Muslim Brotherhood, but also suggests roles for elements (religious and military) that have no place in democratic governance, which as Obama said, represents “the will of the people.” It is rather disturbing to hear a president of the country that for 237 years has stood for individual rights, civilian control of the military, and separation of church and state advocate against these values. All the while,  Morsi and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood made no secret that theirs is a global Islamic agenda, not just an Egyptian one.

Much like our president, the media did not bother with the facts. Why should they? The president’s words well-suited their interest in promoting political Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood  as “moderate” and “reformers.”

It seems that decades-long exposure to disinformation has confused the West to the extent that we deny or excuse atrocities we have been witnessing in societies and countries governed by sharia. By so doing, we allow political Islam and its entities such as the Muslim Brotherhood or Iran, to manipulate us through our acceptance of false meanings of words and ideas. One can blame ideological Islamists for manipulating us, but we can only blame ourselves for misunderstanding their meanings of our words.

2 Comments

  • No evil 9, you sound evil.

    Algemeiner, great article!

  • Reading this article, even there is slight parts of facts in it as of speaking about Islam and Muslims, I cold not help my thoughts in realizing that this article was speaking about something real , but just changed the names of the players . Zionism was replaced with Islam, and Zionists/ Israelis were replaced with Muslims. Other wise all will fit perfectly and very much to the reality in our world today. Just a reminder to support such things, most of the facts of 9/11 points out to the suspicion of the same switch, and all was done to generate support of preset plans ,and then silence others, whom might think to protest or disagree.Only very mentally deprived individuals would fall for the story we have been told about who committed this criminal ,inhumane act.. Isn’t this conveniently coincidental? Following this targeted religious wars and persecution as a cover up for the real intentions is leading us to more destruction of our world and eternal conflict of discrimination and racism . There is no one religion better than the other, as they all equally as bad and could be as equally good if they manage to humanize us, and bring compassion among all people, without the bigoted labels, and superiority complex.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Features World Graves of Jewish Pirates in Jamaica Give Caribbean Tourists Taste of Little-Known History

    Graves of Jewish Pirates in Jamaica Give Caribbean Tourists Taste of Little-Known History

    Tour operators are calling attention to Jamaica’s little-known Jewish heritage by arranging visits to historic Jewish sites on the Caribbean island, including a cemetery where Jewish pirates are buried. A report in Travel and Leisure magazine describes the Hunts Bay Cemetery in Kingston, where there are seven tombstones engraved with Hebrew benedictions and skull and crossbones insignia. According to the report, centuries ago, Jewish pirates sailed the waters of Jamaica and settled in Port Royal. The town, once known as “the wickedest city in the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Filmmaker Eyal Resh Embraces the Challenge of Telling Israel’s Story (VIDEO)

    Filmmaker Eyal Resh Embraces the Challenge of Telling Israel’s Story (VIDEO)

    JNS.org – Telling Israel’s story. It’s the specific title of a short film that Eyal Resh created last year. It’s also the theme behind the 27-year-old Israeli filmmaker’s broader body of work. The widely viewed “Telling Israel’s Story” film—directed by Resh for a gala event hosted by the Times of Israel online news outlet—seemingly begins as a promotional tourism video, but quickly evolves to offer a multilayered perspective. “I want to tell you a story about a special place for me,” a young woman whispers […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Israel Geeks Out: Science, Art and Tech Event Embodies Jewish State’s ‘DNA’

    Israel Geeks Out: Science, Art and Tech Event Embodies Jewish State’s ‘DNA’

    JNS.org – The entrance to Jerusalem’s Sacher Park was transformed from April 25-27 by a fire-breathing robotic dragon, which flailed its arms and attempted to take flight. The robot, a signature feature at Jerusalem’s first-ever “Geek Picnic,” was one of more than 150 scientific amusements available for the public to experience. This particular dragon was designed by students from Moscow’s Art Industrial Institute in conjunction with the Flacon design factory, said Anatasia Shaminer, a student who helped facilitate the display. Children […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Opinion The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin (REVIEW)

    The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love. CreateSpace, 2015. The Syrian Virgin, by Zack Love, is a very interesting novel. Equally a political and romantic thriller, at times a real page-turner, it gets you intimately involved in the dire situation in today’s Syria, as well as in the romantic entanglements of its mostly New York-based characters — whose entanglements just might determine the fate of that dire situation in Syria. Along the way it introduces a really important idea that somehow […]

    Read more →
  • Features Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    Unpacking the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and Its Ripple Effect on Israel’s Region

    JNS.org – Aside from Israel itself, those with a vested interest in the Jewish state are accustomed to tracking developments related to Middle East players such as Iran, Syria, Jordan and Egypt. But much global attention has recently focused on the Caucasus region at the Europe-Asia border, specifically on the suddenly intensified violence between Azerbaijan and Armenia in the mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh area of western Azerbaijan. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, while not taking place in Israel’s immediate neighborhood, does have what one scholar called […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Features Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    Earth Day 2016: Israel Shines in Water Technology, Recycling, Renewable Energy

    JNS.org – On Friday, April 22, 196 nations across the world mark Earth Day, the annual day dedicated to environmental protection that was enacted in 1970. Not to be forgotten on this day is Israel, which is known as the “start-up nation” for its disproportionate amount of technological innovation, including in the area of protecting the environment. For Earth Day 2016, JNS.org presents a sampling of the Jewish state’s internal achievements and global contributions in the environmental realm. Water conservation Israeli […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture World New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    New Documentary Explores Holocaust Humor, Role That Laughter Played in Death Camps

    Holocaust humor and the role that laughter played in the lives of Jews during World War II are the focus of a documentary that made its world premiere on Monday at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. In The Last Laugh, first- and second-generation survivors, as well as famous Jewish and non-Jewish comedians, discuss their thoughts on when joking about the death camps is appropriate or taboo. “Nazi humor, that’s OK. Holocaust humor, no,” Jewish comedic giant, actor and filmmaker Mel Brooks says in the film. “Anything I […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    Tragedy Culminates in ‘Celebration,’ Says Israeli Author Who Lost Son to Terror

    JNS.org – Sherri Mandell’s life was devastated on May 8, 2001, when her 13-year-old son Koby was murdered by terrorists on the outskirts of the Israeli Jewish community of Tekoa. Yet Mandell not only shares the story of her loss, but also celebrates the lessons she has learned from tragedy. Indeed, “celebrate” is this Israeli-American author’s word choice. Her second book, The Road to Resilience: From Chaos to Celebration (Toby Press), came out earlier this year. The lesson: in every celebration, there is […]

    Read more →