Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The "Oslo Syndrome" Article For Those Who Want to Know--And Tell--The Truth

Note to readers: I have written this as a preface placed at the start of my article on "The Oslo Syndrome." I am also putting it here to make sure that those of you who want to see it can do so:

This article is being distorted by various people and places into supposedly saying things that I in no way believe so let me address that.

1. Am I justifying the murders and saying they were well-deserved? Of course not.

I don't in any way believe such a thing. These were as I've said from the beginning terrible acts of terrorism. In the article you will see my explicit argument that nobody should be a victim of terrorism even if they support politically a group committing terrorism. Since my argument is that NO terrorism--defined as the deliberate murder of civilians as part of a conscious political strategy--is acceptable, why would I justify the cold-blooded murder of dozens of unarmed, non-violent people in Norway?

To justify it I would have to be saying that I supported the murder of young people because I disagree with their political views or those of their elders. That would be insane though, of course, that is precisely what actual terrorists do. And many "respectable" people wrote in various ways that the September 11 attacks on America were "well-deserved." That was precisely the kind of thing I had in mind as something dangerous and to be condemned when writing the article.

2. In short, since the entire purpose of the article is to urge a universal condemnation of terrorism and to ensure that it doesn't bear political profit, I had no intention of endorsing terrorism in this case! The point of the article can be simply stated as follows: It is a dangerous thing to empower or reward terrorism anywhere because that makes terrorism seem a successful strategy and thus encourages more terrorism. If you argue politically that terrorists are justified in the Middle East or, to put it a different way, that they aren't terrorists at all, you are making terrorism more likely to happen. It is tragic--not justifiable or deserved but horrible--that such people or such a country then becomes the target of terrorism.

3. The less murder the better. The less hatred the better. In the article I give four examples of waves of terrorism that did not gain widespread sympathy and thus were stamped out successfully, with terrorism not reappearing, at least in those places, in a major way for decades after that.

4. If Hamas uses a strategy of terrorism and then gains Western sympathy and help, then Hamas and other groups will conclude that terrorism works. Thus, more terrorism will take place and more innocent victims murdered. It is not true to say that I claimed any group in Norway applauded terrorism against Israelis. They either did not define it as terrorism, did not take it into account as a factor to be considered, or supported groups despite the fact that they used massive terrorism. Indeed, Norway's ambassador himself said that people in his country viewed terrorism as only a response to occupation while the main newspaper attacking me repeatedly denied--and denies--that Hamas is a terrorist group.

5. I never said and don't believe that the camp in Norway was a terrorist training camp. A terrorist training camp is a place where people are trained to use guns, explosives, and various methods to stage military attacks and then escape afterward. What went on in the camp in Norway was purely conversational, theoretical, and political. That's obvious.

6. So to summarize, my entire point is that one must avoid empowering terrorism. To then be accused of empowering terrorism when what I wrote was the opposite is rather bizarre.

7. There are many dishonest or ideologically blinded people who will either deliberately lie and distort arguments or simply cannot read what the text says without putting their own a priori assumptions on it.

8. As I have written many times, my view is that the problem is not Islam as a religion but revolutionary Islamist movements that draw on normative Islam but are only one of many interpretations that exist. I use the analogy of people fighting over the steering wheel of a car to get in control. The radicals who want to seize state power in the name of Islamism are the problem. Often their first victims are fellow Muslims.

9. My goal is to reduce the frequency and effectiveness of terrorism and to reduce the number of victims. This article was written in that spirit--to save lives in future.  It is based on 35 years of work on this issue and following it on a daily basis. When those who attack me--overwhelmingly one faction within Norway--insist that Hamas is not a terrorist group and thus distinguish between "justified" terrorism and "non-justified" terrorism they are doing what I'm being accused of doing. By the way, that is precisely the same way that  Norway's ambassador to Israel characterized the view of people in that country (as I quote in my article). 

10. If you wish, look at other things I've written and I'm sure you'll conclude that the mischaracterizations of this article have nothing to do with my views or record of writing and scholarship. The great journalist Eric Sevareid once said that a writer cannot prevent and is not responsible for the deliberate desire of some to distort his words. In our current era, there are all too many people who think they can profit politically by doing so. I will depend on those who are open-minded and fair-minded to make their own judgments.

--Barry Rubin

PS: For those interested in the government of Norway, the ruling party, and establishment media's record on sympathy for terrorist groups and indifference to terrorism against Israel, here's a good article:

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