zenpundit.com » Uncategorized

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Gaza now stretches all the way to God

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- more on the hopelessly interdisciplinary nature of reality, all the way to Amichai, to God, no God ]


In this post, I’ll offer another “entry” into the complexities of the situation in Gaza, drawing largely and gratefully on a post by Derek Gregory — presently the Peter Wall Distinguished Professor at the University of British Columbia — at Geographical Imaginations two days ago under the title Darkness Descending:

First, Dr Gregory quotes Samuel Weber‘s book, Targets of Opportunity: On the Militarization of Thinking:

Every target is inscribed in a network or chain of events that inevitably exceeds the opportunity that can be seized or the horizon that can be seen.

Gregory then comments:

The complex geometries of these networks then displace the pinpoint co-ordinates of ‘precision’ weapons and ‘smart bombs’ so that their effects surge far beyond any immediate or localised destruction. Their impacts ripple outwards through the network, extending the envelope of destruction in space and time, and yet the syntax of targeting – with its implication of isolating an objective – distracts attention from the cascade of destruction deliberately set in train.


I’m not sure who Gregory is quoting here, but the “network” gets personal, while tending to remain impersonal to the targeters:

.. by fastening on a single killing – through a ‘surgical strike’ – all the other people affected by it are removed from view. Any death causes ripple effects far beyond the immediate victim, but to those that plan and execute a targeted killing the only effects that concern them are the degradation of the terrorist or insurgent network in which the target is supposed to be implicated. Yet these strikes also, again incidentally but not accidentally, cause immense damage to the social fabric of which s/he was a part – the extended family, the local community and beyond – and the sense of loss continues to haunt countless (and uncounted) others.

In fact, the only thing I can think of that’s arguably both universal and more richly personal than individual persons is poetry — so I’ll let the Israeli poet, Yehuda Amichai, have the last word, as Gregory does:

The Diameter of the Bomb

The diameter of the bomb was thirty centimeters
and the diameter of its effective range about seven meters,
with four dead and eleven wounded.
And around these, in a larger circle
of pain and time, two hospitals are scattered
and one graveyard. But the young woman
who was buried in the city she came from,
at a distance of more than a hundred kilometers,
enlarges the circle considerably,
and the solitary man mourning her death
at the distant shores of a country far across the sea
includes the entire world in the circle.
And I won’t even mention the crying of orphans
that reaches up to the throne of God and
beyond, making a circle with no end and no God.


Ripple image from Ripple Effect Kindness, a blog that hopes to see ripples of peace


Gaza now stretches all the way to Disneyland

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- on the hopelessly interdisciplinary nature of reality ]


There really is no limit to the diversity of strands which go into a complex tapestry such as that of Gaza.

Jean-Pierre Filiu has written, and Hurst will shortly publish, his History of Gaza. Mark Levine, University of California, Irvine, sums up both the book and the timeliness of its publication in his blurb:

Anyone familiar with Jean-Pierre Filiu’s scholarship knows well his talent for taking complex historical processes and bringing their relevance for the present day to the front burner. Never have such skills been more needed than in addressing the still poorly understood history of Gaza. And Filiu succeeds admirably. Providing a wonderful synopsis of a century’s worth of history, his discussion of the more direct roots of the present violent dynamics, beginning with the “crushed generation” of the Six Day War and continuing through the travails of Gaza’s burgeoning hiphop scene, demonstrates just how historically and culturally rich remains this much abused land. A clear must-read for all those seeking to think outside the existing outdated prisms for studying history, and the future of Gaza and Palestine/israel writ large.

Filiu himself:

Considering the appalling reality of life in contemporary Gaza, a broader view of the current situation can only be taken from the perspective of history, with an attempt to set aside the disorientation, the horror and the hatred that the present situation has engendered. The ‘Gaza Strip’, as it is today, is not so much a geographical entity as the product of the tormented and tragic history of a territory where the majority of the population is made up of refugees who have already attempted to escape other torments, and other tragedies. Gaza’s borders have closed in on those who have fled there: the refugees born within the territory have been destined to remain confined within it, a fate they also share with all of those who have dreamed of leaving it. Neither Israel nor Egypt wanted the ‘Strip’ to exist: it is a territorial entity ‘by default’.


When Filiu wrote his earlier book, Apocalypse in Islam, he knew the realities of the situation demanded he research pop culture as well as classical sources in Qur’an and ahadith — and devoted 8 full-color pages to illustrations of 21 book-covers like these:

It’s not surprising, then, that he covers “the travails of Gaza’s burgeoning hiphop scene” in this one — but the point I wish to make is more general. If we are to grasp the complex realities of today’s and tomorrow’s trouble-spots, we need to be aware of trends that impinge on our disciplinary foci — “national security” and so forth — from an unprecenented array of other areas. Many of our nat-sec authors, bloggers and tweeters, bloggers, authors and pundits are aware of these areas — Dan Drezner, for instance,eploicates international affairs via a trendy meme in his — but it’s the use of such memes by those the analysts study that’s most significant.

Thus Daveed Gartenstein-Ross wrote a year ago regarding the Boston bombing:

Tamerlan listened to all kinds of music, including classical and rap, and used the email address The_Professor@real-hiphop.com. In fact, a few years ago he had planned to enter music school. AP (Apr. 23) shows that Tamerlan’s interpretation of Islam guided his eventual avoidance of music. Six weeks after Tamerlan had told Elmirza Khozhugov, the ex-husband of his sister, about his plans to enter music school, they spoke on the phone. Elmirza asked how music school was going. Tamerlan said that he had quit, and explained that “music is not really supported in Islam.”

and more recently in The Lies American Jihadists Tell Themselves on FP:

The first “homegrown” jihadist whom most Westerners learned about was John Walker Lindh, a young man who traveled to Afghanistan to join the Taliban prior to the 9/11 attacks. Lindh, before his turn toward radical Islam, used to post regularly on hip-hop message boards in the adopted persona of a racially-conscious black hip-hop artist (Lindh is white, from the wealthy northern California region of Marin County).

And thus also, Disney characters now show up in anti-Hamas propaganda… echoing an image of Samantha Lewthwaite we’ve seen here before:

The truth is, pop culture, high culture, scholarship, propaganda, truths, myths and lies are all hopelessly entangled in how we think about the world, and while our thoughts may prefer certain disciplines or “silos” to others, the world itself is no respecter of silos, but is interdiscipoinary to the core.

We had best get used to it.


Merch for war and peace

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron -- hint: peace comes at a far higher cost ]

No longer do you need to sit long hours in meditation or travel to Syria and borrow a gun to show your appreciation for peace or jihad. You can now buy a t-shirt for the cool Caliphate [upper panel, below]…

or a comfy chair like the one made for the supercool Dalai Lama [lower panel, above].

And that’s the power of — choose one:

  • (a) symbols in the mind
  • (b) money in the bank
  • Thing is, the t-shirt, showing your relaxed appreciation of jihad, will run you about $10 — but a similarly relaxed appreciation of meditation will cost you $10,000 — war is a thousand times cheaper than peace, give or take.



  • The Wire, Retailers Capitalize on Iraq Crisis With ISIS Merchandise
  • Chicago Tribune, Desire a Dalai Lama chair?
  • Nice irony in that Chicago Tribune headline, no?


    Dabiq #2: of pride & humility

    Monday, July 28th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- in those two words, a doctrinal opposition between sin and salvation? ]


    My eye was caught by this Financial Times headline this week: Isis uses humility as tactic for conquest. The writer appears to equate humility with a mixture of humanitarian and collaborative qualities, writing:

    To soften resistance, Isis first shares control of territory with nonaligned but unthreatening local groups, like Mr Saffan’s Hamza Brigade, and the thousands of rebels who pledged their loyalty to the group as it advanced.

    “It’s like the Arabic expression, ‘be humble to conquer’. They make allies as they spread and firm their hold. After that, they can impose full control,” said Rami Abdelrahman, head of monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

    That’s about all that’s said in that FT piece about humility, so we should perhaps consider it more of a journalistic or editorial flourish than a doctrinal statement from the IS caliphate.


    But then there’s the opposite of humility — pride. And that, according to the second issue of Dabiq, p 30, is precisely what deviates other groups from the caliphate’s own jihad:

    Whoever wants to know how a mujahid group fi sabilillah becomes a militant group fighting fi sabilit-taghut, then let him review history, and let him know that a man’s love for leadership, wealth, and personal opinion becomes pride. Pride becomes envy. Envy becomes arrogance. Arrogance becomes hatred. Hatred becomes enmity. Enmity becomes contradiction of the rival. The contradiction begins with hiding tawhid, displaying deviant ambiguity, avoiding the muwahhid?n, and compromising with the mushrik?n. Thereafter it becomes open kufr and war, following desires and holding on to doubts, unless Allah saves the slave with His mercy [Quoted from a ‘Abwah L?siqah article].

    Fighting fi sabilillah is fighting “in the cause of Allah” while fighting fighting fi sabili-taghut would mean fighting “in the cause of tyrants”.

    Maybe some form of humility is a prerequisite for the caliphal jihad after all?


    Dabiq #2, follow-up post — punishment by Flood and Fire

    Monday, July 28th, 2014

    [ by Charles Cameron -- Dabiq issue #2 ends with a note about the Dajjal -- thus bookending the issue with apocalyptic references ]

    Hello Kitty's caliphate -- see below


    There’s not a whole lot more that’s distinctively oriented to the “end times” in the second issue of Dabiq, although as I noted in a comment on my earlier post today, there are in fact references to both flood and fire in “It’s either the Islamic State or the Flood” (p.6):

    Allah ta’ala said: {And We had certainly sent Nuh to his people, [saying], “Indeed, I am to you a clear warner. That you not worship except Allah. Indeed, I fear for you the punishment of a painful day.”} [Hud: 25-26]

    Ash-Shawkani (rahimahullah) says, “The sentence {Indeed, I fear for you the punishment of a painful day} is explanatory. It means: ‘I warned you against worshipping other than Allah because I fear for you’. This sentence contains a true warning. Furthermore, the painful day referred to is the Day of Judgment or the day of the flood.”

    The word “or” in Ash-Shawkani’s statement above undoubtedly combines both items mentioned. This is because the punishment promised by Nuh (‘alayhis-salam) includes both the punishment of Hellfire on the Day of Judgment, and the punishment of drowning in the flood in this dunya. As a result, his people were ultimately afflicted by both punishments.

    Allah ta’ala said: {Because of their sins they were drowned and put into the Fire, and they found not for themselves besides Allah [any] helpers} [Nuh: 25] .


    The apocalyptic references I noted in my previous post and above are from the first few pages of the magazine. And once again, they are book-ended with a final apocalyptic reference.

    On the back page, page 44, the magazine closes with another hadith, this one mentioning the Dajjal — the end times Muslim “antichrist”:

    Again, the eschatological nature of the caliphate and its jihad is clearly implied.


    There’s much else in the magazine, beyond my remit to comment on — a section on the PKK, photos of the destruction of various shrines and at least one hussaynia, an interesting and lengthy discussion of mubahalah specifically including early theological debates with Jews and Christians…

    … and a certain American Christian named Daniel McGivern will, I fear, be surprised to find himself mentioned on page 7, in connection with his expedition to find Noah’s Ark:

    In fact, the people’s faith in these truths – in spite of their differing creeds – reached the extent that a wealthy christian businessman named Daniel McGivern was prepared to invest $900,000 to send a team of explorers to investigate a site believed to be the location of the ark of Nuh (‘alayhis-salam). All this was only because of a decree of Allah mentioned in His book, which He brought to pass concerning the ark. He decreed that the ark would remain as a prominent sign in the lives of the people.

    He ta’ala said: {But We saved him and the companions of the ship, and We made it a sign for the worlds} [Al-‘Ankabut: 15].

    Before I go, here are a couple of other odd notes.

    On p. 11, obesity is mentioned as an extreme symptom of degenerate Islam:

    On the authority of ‘Imran Ibn Husayn (radiyallahu ‘anhuma) who stated that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said: “The best of my Ummah are those of my generation, and then those who follow after them, and then those who follow after them.” ‘Imran said: “I do not remember whether he mentioned two or three generations after his generation.” Then the Prophet added, “There will come after you, people who will bear witness without being asked to do so, and will be treacherous and untrustworthy, and they will vow and never fulfill their vows, and obesity will appear among them.” [Al-Bukhar? #3693 and Muslim #6638]

    And on p. 29, they’ve posted the same photo [see above, top] that drew amused tweets and blog comments earlier this month, along the lines of @sundance’s That Awkward Moment..

    when you realize that your badass jihadi boss owns a “Hello Kitty” notebook for his military battle plans



    Switch to our mobile site