By Manfred Gerstenfeld
The logical approach to the issue of attributing ideological responsibilities for inciting to kill should start with those who make the strongest direct calls for murder.
The horrific murders committed by Norwegian Anders Breivik on 22 July led to huge debates in many countriesabout who has laid the ideological infrastructure for his crimes. In his lengthy treatise he quoted a large number ofsources. There seemed thus to be many potentialcandidates to blame. Numerous commentators did so gladly.
The accused included people who have never called for violence, such as for instance Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders and the author Bat Yeor who coined the term “Eurabia.” Both had strongly condemned the Breivik murders. Another accused was Robert Spencer of the Jihad Watch blog who mentioned Norwegian sourcesblaming him and others for instigating the murders.
This debate should have been at most marginal in a far broader context. The logical approach to the issue of attributing ideological responsibilities for inciting to kill should start with those who make the strongest direct calls for murder. The dominant environment for people with such world views is in a number of Muslim societies. According to a study in 2009 by the Pew Research Institute, at least 150 million Muslims were confident that Osama bin Laden was doing the right thing in world affairs.
This frightening number includes more than 20% of the Muslims in Indonesia and Jordan, as well as in Egypt, which is currently enjoying its “Arab Spring.” Among Nigerian Muslims, the percentage is over 50%. Even with this information in hand, one is far from exhausting all currents in the Muslim world which call for murder. Iran wants to destroy Israel. Hamas promotes the genocide of Jews, and the leading theologian of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sheikh Yusef al-Qaradawi — an Egyptian living in Qatar — openly supports suicide bombings. The glorification by the Palestinian Authority of its mass murderers of Israeli civilians should not be viewed sanguinely either.
The main victims of these inciters to murder have been Muslims, who hold different opinions. Others include numerous Israelis, many Christians living in Muslim countriesas well as Western victims of terrorists who see murder as the route to realize their vision of Islam. Devout murderers elsewhere rarely base their aspirations to kill on the religion they belong to.
In the “pecking order” of ideological incitement to murder, neo-Nazis come in as a far second. This is not due to lack of desire but because of their paucity in numbers. On the progressive side, but not there alone, one finds people who justify suicide bombings by Muslims, or at least show understanding for them. In socialist circles, direct calls for murder are rare, such as the statement made by Belgian socialist Euro-Parliamentarian Veronique De Keyser that she “feels like she wants to strangle the Israeli ambassador.” Norwegian Deputy Minister of the Environment, Ingrid Fiskaa, before she entered the government, told a newspaper that she sometimes dreams about the United Nations firing rockets into Israel.
Being present at places where murder is promoted directly or indirectly is more frequent among European socialists and other leftists. During the 2008-2009 Gaza war, Norwegian Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen, leader of the Socialist Left Party, took part in an anti-Israel demonstration where shouts of “Death to the Jews” were heard. Mona Sahlin, the then leader of the Swedish Social Democrats participated in a rally in Stockholm where Hizballah and Hamas flags were flown and an Israeli flag was burned.
Many people call for Israel to dismantle its security barrier. They know well that it was erected to prevent further murderous Palestinian terror attacks. These persons are thus indirect murder promoters. For instance while acknowledging the threat of terror which Israel faces, the Norwegian Lutheran Church demanded that the security barrier be taken down. A similar demand was made by Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere, of the Labor party, when he spoke to the campers at Utoya, a day before the Breivik murders.
At that camp, leaders of the Labor party’s AUF youth movement demonized Israel so emphatically, that when Breivik started shooting, some of the youth thought that he was demonstrating how Israeli soldiers shoot Palestinians. All these examples illustrate how many politicians and others are willing to ignore a huge number of major inciters to murder in order to focus on attacking their political opponents.
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld The writer has been a long-term adviser on strategy issues to the Boards of several major multinational corporations in Europe and North America. He is the Chairman of the Board of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
As they say, chicken come home to roost. When are we going to have that painful debate why some victims of the horrific terror attack at Utøya thought that the Norwegian police had staged a coup against the government, and that all they could think of even with that unreasonable assumption as a launch pad, was that the mass murderer demonstrated how Israeli soldiers shoot Palestinians?
Is this the political legacy of the Labour Youth Movement, to inculcate paranoid ideas of persecution? In Norway of all places?