Speech by Haim Harari on War on Terror

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    Speech by Haim Harari on War on Terror

    HAIM HARARI, a theoretical physicist, is the Chair, Davidson Institute of
    Science Education, and Former President, from 1988 to 2001, of the Weizmann
    Institute of Science. During his years as President of the Institute, the
    Institute entered numerous new scientific fields and projects, built 47 new
    buildings, raised one Billion Dollars in philanthropic money, hired more
    than half of its current tenured Professors and became one of the highest
    royalty-earning academic organizations in the world.

    Throughout all his adult life, Harari has made major contributions to
    three different fields: Particle Physics Research on the international
    scene, Science Education in the Israeli school system and Science
    Administration and Policy Making.

    A View from the Eye of the Storm

    Talk delivered by Haim Harari at a meeting of the International Advisory
    Board of a large multi-national corporation, April, 2004.

    As you know, I usually provide the scientific and technological
    \"entertainment\" in our meetings, but, on this occasion, our Chairman
    suggested that I present my own personal view on events in the part of the
    world from which I come. I have never been and I will never be a Government
    official and I have no privileged information. My perspective is entirely
    based on what I see, on what I read and on the fact that my family has
    lived in this region for almost 200 years. You may regard my views as those
    of the proverbial taxi driver, which you are supposed to question, when you
    visit a country.

    I could have shared with you some fascinating facts and some personal
    thoughts about the Israeli-Arab conflict. However, I will touch upon it
    only in passing. I prefer to devote most of my remarks to the broader
    picture of the region and its place in world events. I refer to the entire
    area between Pakistan and Morocco, which is predominantly Arab,
    predominantly Moslem, but includes many non-Arab and also significant
    non-Moslem minorities.

    Why do I put aside Israel and its own immediate neighborhood? Because
    Israel and any problems related to it, in spite of what you might read or
    hear in the world media, is not the central issue, and has never been the
    central issue in the upheaval in the region. Yes, there is a 100 year-old
    Israeli-Arab conflict, but it is not where the main show is. The millions
    who died in the Iran-Iraq war had nothing to do with Israel. The mass
    murder happening right now in Sudan, where the Arab Moslem regime is
    massacring its black Christian citizens, has nothing to do with Israel. The
    frequent reports from Algeria about the murders of hundreds of civilian in
    one village or another by other Algerians have nothing to do with Israel.
    Saddam Hussein did not invade Kuwait, endangered Saudi Arabia and butchered
    his own people because of Israel. Egypt did not use poison gas against
    Yemen in the 60\'s because of Israel. Assad the Father did not kill tens of
    thousands of his own citizens in one week in El Hamma in Syria because of
    Israel. The Taliban control of Afghanistan and the civil war there had
    nothing to do with Israel. The Libyan blowing up of the Pan-Am flight had
    nothing to do with Israel, and I could go on and on and on.

    The root of the trouble is that this entire Moslem region is totally
    dysfunctional, by any standard of the word, and would have been so even if
    Israel would have joined the Arab league and an independent Palestine would
    have existed for 100 years. The 22 member countries of the Arab league,
    from Mauritania to the Gulf States, have a total population of 300
    millions, larger than the US and almost as large as the EU before its
    expansion. They have a land area larger than either the US or all of
    Europe. These 22 countries, with all their oil and natural resources, have
    a combined GDP smaller than that of Netherlands plus Belgium and equal to
    half of the GDP of California alone. Within this meager GDP, the gaps between rich and
    poor are beyond belief and too many of the rich made their money not by
    succeeding in business, but by being corrupt rulers. The social status of
    women is far below what it was in the Western World 150 years ago. Human
    rights are below any reasonable standard, in spite of the grotesque fact
    that Libya was elected Chair of the UN Human Rights commission. According
    to a report prepared by a committee of Arab intellectuals and published
    under the auspices of the U.N., the number of books translated by the
    entire Arab world is much smaller than what little Greece alone translates.
    The total number of scientific publications of 300 million Arabs is less
    than that of 6 million Israelis. Birth rates in the region are very high,
    increasing the poverty, the social gaps and the cultural decline. And all
    of this is happening in a region, which only 30 years ago, was believed to
    be the next wealthy part of the world, and in a Moslem area, which
    developed, at some point in history, one of the most advanced cultures in
    the world.

    It is fair to say that this creates an unprecedented breeding ground for
    cruel dictators, terror networks, fanaticism, incitement, suicide murders
    and general decline. It is also a fact that almost everybody in the region
    blames this situation on the United States, on Israel, on Western
    Civilization, on Judaism and Christianity, on anyone and anything, except

    Do I say all of this with the satisfaction of someone discussing the
    failings of his enemies? On the contrary, I firmly believe that the world
    would have been a much better place and my own neighborhood would have been
    much more pleasant and peaceful, if things were different.

    I should also say a word about the millions of decent, honest, good
    people who are either devout Moslems or are not very religious but grew up
    in Moslem families. They are double victims of an outside world, which now
    develops Islamophobia and of their own environment, which breaks their
    heart by being totally dysfunctional. The problem is that the vast silent
    majority of these Moslems are not part of the terror and of the incitement
    but they also do not stand up against it. They become accomplices, by
    omission, and this applies to political leaders, intellectuals, business
    people and many others. Many of them can certainly tell right from wrong,
    but are afraid to express their views.

    The events of the last few years have amplified four issues, which have
    always existed, but have never been as rampant as in the present upheaval
    in the region. These are the four main pillars of the current World
    Conflict, or perhaps we should already refer to it as \"the undeclared World
    War III\". I have no better name for the present situation. A few more years
    may pass before everybody acknowledges that it is a World War, but we are
    already well into it.

    The first element is the suicide murder. Suicide murders are not a new
    invention but they have been made popular, if I may use this expression,
    only lately. Even after September 11, it seems that most of the Western
    World does not yet understand this weapon. It is a very potent
    psychological weapon. Its real direct impact is relatively minor. The total
    number of casualties from hundreds of suicide murders within Israel in the
    last three years is much smaller than those due to car accidents. September
    11 was quantitatively much less lethal than many earthquakes. More people
    die from AIDS in one day in Africa than all the Russians who died in the
    hands of Chechnya-based Moslem suicide murderers since that conflict
    started. Saddam killed every month more people than all those who died from
    suicide murders since the Coalition occupation of Iraq.

    So what is all the fuss about suicide killings? It creates headlines. It
    is spectacular. It is frightening. It is a very cruel death with bodies
    dismembered and horrible severe lifelong injuries to many of the wounded.
    It is always shown on television in great detail. One such murder, with the
    help of hysterical media coverage, can destroy the tourism industry of a
    country for quite a while, as it did in Bali and in Turkey.

    But the real fear comes from the undisputed fact that no defense and no
    preventive measures can succeed against a determined suicide murderer. This
    has not yet penetrated the thinking of the Western World. The U.S. and
    Europe are constantly improving their defense against the last murder, not
    the next one. We may arrange for the best airport security in the world.
    But if you want to murder by suicide, you do not have to board a plane in
    order to explode yourself and kill many people. Who could stop a suicide
    murder in the midst of the crowded line waiting to be checked by the
    airport metal detector? How about the lines to the check-in counters in a
    busy travel period? Put a metal detector in front of every train station in
    Spain and the terrorists will get the buses. Protect the buses and they
    will explode in movie theaters, concert halls, supermarkets, shopping
    malls, schools and hospitals. Put guards in front of every concert hall and
    there will always be a line of people to be checked by the guards and this
    line will be the target, not to speak of killing the guards themselves. You
    can somewhat reduce your vulnerability by preventive and defensive measures
    and by strict border controls but not eliminate it and definitely not win
    the war in a defensive way. And it is a war!

    What is behind the suicide murders? Money, power and cold-blooded
    murderous incitement, nothing else. It has nothing to do with true fanatic
    religious beliefs. No Moslem preacher has ever blown himself up. No son of
    an Arab politician or religious leader has ever blown himself. No relative
    of anyone influential has done it. Wouldn\'t you expect some of the
    religious leaders to do it themselves, or to talk their sons into doing it,
    if this is truly a supreme act of religious fervor? Aren\'t they interested
    in the benefits of going to Heaven? Instead, they send outcast women, nave
    children, retarded people and young incited hotheads. They promise them the
    delights, mostly sexual, of the next world, and pay their families
    handsomely after the supreme act is performed and enough innocent people
    are dead.

    Suicide murders also have nothing to do with poverty and despair. The
    poorest region in the world, by far, is Africa. It never happens there.
    There are numerous desperate people in the world, in different cultures,
    countries and continents. Desperation does not provide anyone with
    explosives, reconnaissance and transportation. There was certainly more
    despair in Saddam\'s Iraq then in Paul Bremmer\'s Iraq, and no one exploded
    himself. A suicide murder is simply a horrible, vicious weapon of cruel,
    inhuman, cynical, well-funded terrorists, with no regard to human life,
    including the life of their fellow countrymen, but with very high regard to
    their own affluent well-being and their hunger for power.

    The only way to fight this new \"popular\" weapon is identical to the only
    way in which you fight organized crime or pirates on the high seas: the
    offensive way. Like in the case of organized crime, it is crucial that the
    forces on the offensive be united and it is crucial to reach the top of the
    crime pyramid. You cannot eliminate organized crime by arresting the little
    drug dealer in the street corner. You must go after the head of the

    If part of the public supports it, others tolerate it, many are afraid of
    it and some try to explain it away by poverty or by a miserable childhood,
    organized crime will thrive and so will terrorism. The United States
    understands this now, after September 11. Russia is beginning to understand
    it. Turkey understands it well. I am very much afraid that most of Europe
    still does not understand it. Unfortunately, it seems that Europe will
    understand it only after suicide murders will arrive in Europe in a big
    way. In my humble opinion, this will definitely happen. The Spanish trains
    and the Istanbul bombings are only the beginning. The unity of the
    Civilized World in fighting this horror is absolutely indispensable. Until
    Europe wakes up, this unity will not be achieved.

    The second ingredient is words, more precisely lies. Words can be lethal.
    They kill people. It is often said that politicians, diplomats and perhaps
    also lawyers and business people must sometimes lie, as part of their
    professional life. But the norms of politics and diplomacy are childish, in
    comparison with the level of incitement and total absolute deliberate
    fabrications, which have reached new heights in the region we are talking
    about. An incredible number of people in the Arab world believe that
    September 11 never happened, or was an American provocation or, even
    better, a Jewish plot.

    You all remember the Iraqi Minister of Information, Mr. Mouhamad Said
    al-Sahaf and his press conferences when the US forces were already inside
    Baghdad. Disinformation at time of war is an accepted tactic. But to stand,
    day after day, and to make such preposterous statements, known to everybody
    to be lies, without even being ridiculed in your own milieu, can only
    happen in this region. Mr. Sahaf eventually became a popular icon as a
    court jester, but this did not stop some allegedly respectable newspapers
    from giving him equal time. It also does not prevent the Western press from
    giving credence, every day, even now, to similar liars. After all, if you
    want to be an anti-Semite, there are subtle ways of doing it. You do not
    have to claim that the holocaust never happened and that the Jewish temple
    in Jerusalem never existed. But millions of Moslems are told by their
    leaders that this is the case. When these same leaders make other
    statements, the Western media report them as if they could be true.

    It is a daily occurrence that the same people, who finance, arm and
    dispatch suicide murderers, condemn the act in English in front of western
    TV cameras, talking to a world audience, which even partly believes them.
    It is a daily routine to hear the same leader making opposite statements in
    Arabic to his people and in English to the rest of the world. Incitement by
    Arab TV, accompanied by horror pictures of mutilated bodies, has become a
    powerful weapon of those who lie, distort and want to destroy everything.
    Little children are raised on deep hatred and on admiration of so-called
    martyrs, and the Western World does not notice it because its own TV sets
    are mostly tuned to soap operas and game shows. I recommend to you, even
    though most of you do not understand Arabic, to watch Al Jazeera, from time
    to time. You will not believe your own eyes.

    But words also work in other ways, more subtle. A demonstration in
    Berlin, carrying banners supporting Saddam\'s regime and featuring
    three-year old babies dressed as suicide murderers, is defined by the press
    and by political leaders as a \"peace demonstration\". You may support or
    oppose the Iraq war, but to refer to fans of Saddam, Arafat or Bin Laden as
    peace activists is a bit too much. A woman walks into an Israeli restaurant
    in mid-day, eats, observes families with old people and children eating
    their lunch in the adjacent tables and pays the bill. She then blows
    herself up, killing 20 people, including many children, with heads and arms
    rolling around in the restaurant. She is called \"martyr\" by several Arab
    leaders and \"activist\" by the European press. Dignitaries condemn the act
    but visit her bereaved family and the money flows.

    There is a new game in town: The actual murderer is called \"the military
    wing\", the one who pays him, equips him and sends him is now called \"the
    political wing\" and the head of the operation is called the \"spiritual
    leader\". There are numerous other examples of such Orwellian nomenclature,
    used every day not only by terror chiefs but also by Western media. These
    words are much more dangerous than many people realize. They provide an
    emotional infrastructure for atrocities. It was Joseph Goebels who said
    that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it. He is now
    being outperformed by his successors.

    The third aspect is money. Huge amounts of money, which could have solved
    many social problems in this dysfunctional part of the world, are channeled
    into three concentric spheres supporting death and murder. In the inner
    circle are the terrorists themselves. The money funds their travel,
    explosives, hideouts and permanent search for soft vulnerable targets. They
    are surrounded by a second wider circle of direct supporters, planners,
    commanders, preachers, all of whom make a living, usually a very
    comfortable living, by serving as terror infrastructure. Finally, we find
    the third circle of so-called religious, educational and welfare
    organizations, which actually do some good, feed the hungry and provide
    some schooling, but brainwash a new generation with hatred, lies and
    ignorance. This circle operates mostly through mosques, madrasas and other
    religious establishments but also through inciting electronic and printed
    media. It is this circle that makes sure that women remain inferior, that
    democracy is unthinkable and that exposure to the outside world is minimal.
    It is also that circle that leads the way in blaming everybody outside the
    Moslem world, for the miseries of the region.

    Figuratively speaking, this outer circle is the guardian, which makes
    sure that the people look and listen inwards to the inner circle of terror
    and incitement, rather than to the world outside. Some parts of this same
    outer circle actually operate as a result of fear from, or blackmail by,
    the inner circles. The horrifying added factor is the high birth rate. Half
    of the population of the Arab world is under the age of 20, the most
    receptive age to incitement, guaranteeing two more generations of blind

    Of the three circles described above, the inner circles are primarily
    financed by terrorist states like Iran and Syria, until recently also by
    Iraq and Libya and earlier also by some of the Communist regimes. These
    states, as well as the Palestinian Authority, are the safe havens of the
    wholesale murder vendors. The outer circle is largely financed by Saudi
    Arabia, but also by donations from certain Moslem communities in the United
    States and Europe and, to a smaller extent, by donations of European
    Governments to various NGO\'s and by certain United Nations organizations,
    whose goals may be noble, but they are infested and exploited by agents of
    the outer circle. The Saudi regime, of course, will be the next victim of
    major terror, when the inner circle will explode into the outer circle. The
    Saudis are beginning to understand it, but they fight the inner circles,
    while still financing the infrastructure at the outer circle.?

    Some of the leaders of these various circles live very comfortably on
    their loot. You meet their children in the best private schools in Europe,
    not in the training camps of suicide murderers. The Jihad \"soldiers\" join
    packaged death tours to Iraq and other hotspots, while some of their
    leaders ski in Switzerland. Mrs. Arafat, who lives in Paris with her
    daughter, receives tens of thousands Dollars per month from the allegedly
    bankrupt Palestinian Authority while a typical local ringleader of the
    Al-Aksa brigade, reporting to Arafat, receives only a cash payment of a
    couple of hundred dollars, for performing murders at the retail level?

    The fourth element of the current world conflict is the total breaking of
    all laws. The civilized world believes in democracy, the rule of law,
    including international law, human rights, free speech and free press,
    among other liberties. There are nave old-fashioned habits such as
    respecting religious sites and symbols, not using ambulances and hospitals
    for acts of war, avoiding the mutilation of dead bodies and not using
    children as human shields or human bombs. Never in history, not even in the
    Nazi period, was there such total disregard of all of the above as we
    observe now. Every student of political science debates how you prevent an
    anti-democratic force from winning a democratic election and abolishing
    democracy. Other aspects of a civilized society must also have limitations.
    Can a policeman open fire on someone trying to kill him? Can a government
    listen to phone conversations of terrorists and drug dealers? Does free
    speech protects you when you shout \"fire\" in a crowded theater? Should
    there be death penalty, for deliberate multiple murders? These are the
    old-fashioned dilemmas. But now we have an entire new set.

    Do you raid a mosque, which serves as a terrorist ammunition storage? Do
    you return fire, if you are attacked from a hospital? Do you storm a church
    taken over by terrorists who took the priests hostages? Do you search every
    ambulance after a few suicide murderers use ambulances to reach their
    targets? Do you strip every woman because one pretended to be pregnant and
    carried a suicide bomb on her belly? Do you shoot back at someone trying to
    kill you, standing deliberately behind a group of children? Do you raid
    terrorist headquarters, hidden in a mental hospital? Do you shoot an
    arch-murderer who deliberately moves from one location to another, always
    surrounded by children? All of these happen daily in Iraq and in the
    Palestinian areas. What do you do? Well, you do not want to face the
    dilemma. But it cannot be avoided.

    Suppose, for the sake of discussion, that someone would openly stay in a
    well-known address in Teheran, hosted by the Iranian Government and
    financed by it, executing one atrocity after another in Spain or in France,
    killing hundreds of innocent people, accepting responsibility for the
    crimes, promising in public TV interviews to do more of the same, while the
    Government of Iran issues public condemnations of his acts but continues to
    host him, invite him to official functions and treat him as a great
    dignitary. I leave it to you as homework to figure out what Spain or France
    would have done, in such a situation.

    The problem is that the civilized world is still having illusions about
    the rule of law in a totally lawless environment. It is trying to play ice
    hockey by sending a ballerina ice-skater into the rink or to knock out a
    heavyweight boxer by a chess player. In the same way that no country has a
    law against cannibals eating its prime minister, because such an act is
    unthinkable, international law does not address killers shooting from
    hospitals, mosques and ambulances, while being protected by their
    Government or society. International law does not know how to handle
    someone who sends children to throw stones, stands behind them and shoots
    with immunity and cannot be arrested because he is sheltered by a
    Government. International law does not know how to deal with a leader of
    murderers who is royally and comfortably hosted by a country, which
    pretends to condemn his acts or just claims to be too weak to arrest him.
    The amazing thing is that all of these crooks demand protection under
    international law and define all those who attack them as war criminals,
    with some Western media repeating the allegations. The good news is that
    all of this is temporary, because the evolution of international law has
    always adapted itself to reality. The punishment for suicide murder should
    be death or arrest before the murder, not during and not after. After every
    world war, the rules of international law have changed and the same will
    happen after the present one. But during the twilight zone, a lot of harm
    can be done.

    The picture I described here is not pretty. What can we do about it? In
    the short run, only fight and win. In the long run? only educate the next
    generation and open it to the world. The inner circles can and must be
    destroyed by force. The outer circle cannot be eliminated by force. Here we
    need financial starvation of the organizing elite, more power to women,
    more education, counter propaganda, boycott whenever feasible and access to
    Western media, internet and the international scene. Above all, we need a
    total absolute unity and determination of the civilized world against all
    three circles of evil.

    Allow me, for a moment, to depart from my alleged role as a taxi driver
    and return to science. When you have a malignant tumor, you may remove the
    tumor itself surgically. You may also starve it by preventing new blood
    from reaching it from other parts of the body, thereby preventing new
    \"supplies\" from expanding the tumor. If you want to be sure, it is best to
    do both.

    But before you fight and win, by force or otherwise, you have to realize
    that you are in a war, and this may take Europe a few more years. In order
    to win, it is necessary to first eliminate the terrorist regimes, so that
    no Government in the world will serve as a safe haven for these people. I
    do not want to comment here on whether the American-led attack on Iraq was
    justified from the point of view of weapons of mass destruction or any
    other pre-war argument, but I can look at the post-war map of Western Asia.
    Now that Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya are out, two and a half terrorist
    states remain: Iran, Syria and Lebanon, the latter being a Syrian colony.
    Perhaps Sudan should be added to the list. As a result of the conquest of
    Afghanistan and Iraq, both Iran and Syria are now totally surrounded by
    territories unfriendly to them. Iran is encircled by Afghanistan, by the
    Gulf States, Iraq and the Moslem republics of the former Soviet Union.
    Syria is surrounded by Turkey, Iraq, Jordan and Israel. This is a
    significant strategic change and it applies strong pressure on the
    terrorist countries. It is not surprising that Iran is so active in trying
    to incite a Shiite uprising in Iraq. I do not know if the American plan was
    actually to encircle both Iran and Syria, but that is the resulting

    In my humble opinion, the number one danger to the world today is Iran
    and its regime. It definitely has ambitions to rule vast areas and to
    expand in all directions. It has an ideology, which claims supremacy over
    Western culture. It is ruthless. It has proven that it can execute
    elaborate terrorist acts without leaving too many traces, using Iranian
    Embassies. It is clearly trying to develop Nuclear Weapons. Its so-called
    moderates and conservatives play their own virtuoso version of the
    \"good-cop versus bad-cop\" game. Iran sponsors Syrian terrorism, it is
    certainly behind much of the action in Iraq, it is fully funding the
    Hizbullah and, through it, the Palestinian Hamas and Islamic Jihad, it
    performed acts of terror at least in Europe and in South America and
    probably also in Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia and it truly leads a
    multi-national terror consortium, which includes, as minor players, Syria,
    Lebanon and certain Shiite elements in Iraq. Nevertheless, most European
    countries still trade with Iran, try to appease it and refuse to read the
    clear signals.

    In order to win the war it is also necessary to dry the financial
    resources of the terror conglomerate. It is pointless to try to understand
    the subtle differences between the Sunni terror of Al Qaida and Hamas and
    the Shiite terror of Hizbullah, Sadr and other Iranian inspired
    enterprises. When it serves their business needs, all of them collaborate

    It is crucial to stop Saudi and other financial support of the outer
    circle, which is the fertile breeding ground of terror. It is important to
    monitor all donations from the Western World to Islamic organizations, to
    monitor the finances of international relief organizations and to react
    with forceful economic measures to any small sign of financial aid to any
    of the three circles of terrorism. It is also important to act decisively
    against the campaign of lies and fabrications and to monitor those Western
    media who collaborate with it out of naivety, financial interests or

    Above all, never surrender to terror. No one will ever know whether the
    recent elections in Spain would have yielded a different result, if not for
    the train bombings a few days earlier. But it really does not matter. What
    matters is that the terrorists believe that they caused the result and that
    they won by driving Spain out of Iraq. The Spanish story will surely end up
    being extremely costly to other European countries, including France, who
    is now expelling inciting preachers and forbidding veils and including
    others who sent troops to Iraq. In the long run, Spain itself will pay even

    Is the solution a democratic Arab world? If by democracy we mean free
    elections but also free press, free speech, a functioning judicial system,
    civil liberties, equality to women, free international travel, exposure to
    international media and ideas, laws against racial incitement and against
    defamation, and avoidance of lawless behavior regarding hospitals, places
    of worship and children, then yes, democracy is the solution. If democracy
    is just free elections, it is likely that the most fanatic regime will be
    elected, the one whose incitement and fabrications are the most
    inflammatory. We have seen it already in Algeria and, to a certain extent,
    in Turkey. It will happen again, if the ground is not prepared very
    carefully. On the other hand, a certain transition democracy, as in Jordan,
    may be a better temporary solution, paving the way for the real thing,
    perhaps in the same way that an immediate sudden democracy did not work in
    Russia and would not have worked in China.

    I have no doubt that the civilized world will prevail. But the longer it
    takes us to understand the new landscape of this war, the more costly and
    painful the victory will be. Europe, more than any other region, is the
    key. Its understandable recoil from wars, following the horrors of World
    War II, may cost thousands of additional innocent lives, before the tide
    will turn.

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