Islamophobic ‘Foreign Policy’ article compares Boston bombing and Palestinian resistance to occupation

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 16 Comments

On May 1, Foreign Policy magazine published a piece by Yair Shamir with the headline “Our Shared Islamist Enemy: From Boston to Israel, radicals are attempting to destroy Western culture.”

Shamir’s piece endeavors to draw baseless parallels between the Boston Marathon bombings and the resistance of Palestinians against the Israeli occupation, what he inaccurately portrays as an “aggressive and offensive jihad, unconnected to any particular conflict or borders, which conjoins Islamist terror groups around the world.” His unabashedly Zionist agenda rears its head through this opportunistic attempt to play into the media circus surrounding the Boston bombings.

His ludicrous argument essentially states that the problem is not Hamas or Al Qaeda, the problem is not Osama Bin Laden or Dzokhar Tsarnaev: the problem is Islam.

Unfortunately, the Boston bombings have given virulent propagandists and Islamophobes a field day. While various pundits and media personalities jumped to the Tsarnaev brothers’ religious identities as the singular motive for their alleged acts of violence, they focused on them as individuals, and how their thought processes could have been perverted by purported religious radicalization. What makes Shamir’s contention particularly disturbing is his sweeping generalization that all groups and individuals affiliated with Islam, from Hamas to the Muslim Brotherhood, to the Tsarnaevs and Sayyid Qutb, all had a particular end in mind—the obliteration of Western culture.

Shamir attempts to disengage all incidents of violence from the influences of time period, geography, culture, national interest and socioeconomic disparities.  To Shamir, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been battered, beaten, occupied, oppressed, starved, shot or colonized—your only purpose for resistance or violence, which are the same to Shamir, is Islam. Whether you are acting alone or as part of a group, whether you seek to harm or kill civilians, or occupying soldiers, in Shamir’s world, your goal is the same: to eliminate the West.

Glossing over more than 60 years of military occupation in the case of Palestine, an issue that Shamir convolutedly connects to the Boston bombings only with the tenuous thread of religious commonality, he asserts, “There is little that is reactive about this belief system – it is not aimed at defending its rights, but at conquering the world of the disbelievers.”

When did the Palestinian-Israeli conflict become about conquering disbelievers? Even opponents of Palestinian self-determination would at least agree that Palestinians believe they are defending their rights, whether or not they believe they should be afforded those rights or not.

Shamir’s unfounded argument glaringly displays his belief in the dichotomy between East and West, the incompatibility of Islam with modernity and an apocalyptic foreshadowing of the clash of civilizations, àla Samuel Huntington.

 “In the West, we can understand a person who fights with every breath against tyranny and oppression. We were raised on the heroic struggles against Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. However, we cannot understand someone whose goal is to maim and murder innocents in the name of their religion,” Shamir says.

Apparently, Shamir does not understand that Palestinians, as well as others who have resisted in the name of attaining freedom from an occupying force, fight not to main and murder in the name of religion, but to achieve independence from an occupying force, such as Israel. And individuals who murder and maim independent of any terrorist group act as themselves, and numerous factors contribute to such heinous actions.

Shamir says that we cannot explain away and rationalize acts of violence committed by Muslims because “we in the West” simply cannot comprehend such a mindset. Yet he places Israel, a nation in the East, among the West. He conveniently repositions and aligns Israel with the West, yet he is not able to rationalize the fact that maybe, just maybe, all Muslims who commit acts of violence are not acting because of an inherent hatred of Western culture.

Shamir cannot rationalize, but he sure can generalize.

A repudiation of Western culture is not at the heart of all acts of violence by Muslims. To explain them as such is to ignore the underlying causes, whether they are at the societal or individual levels.

Fortunately, Shamir digs his own grave by the end of the piece. While condemning Muslims and Islam throughout the duration of his article as intrinsically belligerent and fundamentally inclined toward the annihilation of the West, he employs the same rhetoric he denounces Muslims for using.

“If we in the West wish to stand in the way of this malevolent terror, we must first understand its vision, its true nature, and its goals. Only then can it be conquered.”

I think Shamir let us all know who wants to conquer whom.

About Deanna Othman

Deanna Othman is a Palestinian American from Chicago, IL. She currently works as the assistant editor of Islamic Horizons magazine and serves on the editorial board of the Chicago Crescent. Deanna is also a member of the Chicago Executive Committee for the American Muslims for Palestine. Follow her on Twitter at @deannaothman.

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16 Responses

  1. Les
    May 3, 2013, 1:53 pm

    Who would respect Palestinians if they did not resist their ethnic cleansing by Israel?

  2. Justpassingby
    May 3, 2013, 3:42 pm

    Of course Shamir, an israeli politician and son to the terror leader Yitzhak Shamir, will try to frame that americans and israel share the same enemy.

  3. biorabbi
    May 3, 2013, 4:38 pm

    The Islamophobes are also making hay with the numbers here:

  4. Daniel Rich
    May 3, 2013, 5:11 pm

    There’s way too much ‘Israel’ connected to the Boston bombing to feel comfortable, sit back and let it all be.

    Israeli Doctors Are Treating Boston Bombing Suspect … , because all those US docs having spent time in the ToO in Iraq and Afghanistan patching up GIs don’t know JS about the horrors of war.

    Israel Hi-Tech Firm Helped Capture Boston Bomber Terrorists.

    Israeli police head to US to aid in Boston Marathon bombing investigation.


    A long, long time ago I was involved in a motorcycle accident in which a friend of mine lost his [right] leg [above the knee]. When I saw certain pictures/videos of the aftermath of the Boston bombing, I couldn’t believe my eyes [LINK], because I’ll never forget the amount of blood I was drenched in or the spooky whiteness of my buddy’s face. Later I was told that if I hadn’t done what I did do, my friend would’ve been dead [bled out] in a minute or so.

    I’ll never know why I survived that crash without as much as a scratch [but that has nothing to do with the topic at hand]. Nevertheless, blood is this dark-red liquid, no matter where it is spelt.

  5. MHughes976
    May 3, 2013, 5:33 pm

    ‘There exist people who would stop at nothing in order to make Islam the sole and universal religion’ – probably a true proposition. ‘There exist people who would like to make Islam part of, rather than a force antagonistic towards, Western culture’ – probably true also, and probably true of a great many more people. How to make fewer enemies and more friends? Step one would be to eliminate any idea that we will never treat people justly if they are Muslims and the basic means to that is to end those activities that make injustice towards Muslims systematic on our side. Step zero would be restrain ourselves when tempted to indulge in hate propaganda.

  6. Sumud
    May 3, 2013, 5:59 pm

    Shamir is son-of-Stern Gang members so knows a thing or two about using violence for political ends. He also has extensive ties to the Israeli arms industry so will be heavily invested in the bogus Clash of Civilisations narrative that underpins the Global War On Terror.

    The US fighting perpetual war is good Israel. You’ve been played Americans; blood and treasure.

  7. EUR1069
    May 3, 2013, 8:10 pm

    Zionists always had a hard-on for terrorist acts (real or staged) in the U.S., ostensibly because it somehow validates & vindicates their own MO relative to Palestinians, forgetting that when Muslims “hate” us it is exactly because our support of the Zionist geopolitical experiment (aka “Israel”) since 1948 has set us on the collision course with the Arab/Muslim world. Which is PRECISELY the dynamics the Zionists wanted.

  8. CloakAndDagger
    May 3, 2013, 9:22 pm

    Interesting statistics on terrorism from the FBI:

    Non-Muslims Carried Out More than 90% of All Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Soil

    Terrorism Is a Real Threat … But the Threat to the U.S. from Muslim Terrorists Has Been Exaggerated

    An FBI report shows that only a small percentage of terrorist attacks carried out on U.S. soil between 1980 and 2005 were perpetrated by Muslims.


    According to this data, there were more Jewish acts of terrorism within the United States than Islamic (7% vs 6%). These radical Jews committed acts of terrorism in the name of their religion. These were not terrorists who happened to be Jews; rather, they were extremist Jews who committed acts of terrorism based on their religious passions, just like Al-Qaeda and company.


    The sample of Muslim Americans turning to terror is “vanishingly small,” Kurzman tells Danger Room. Measuring the U.S. Muslim population is a famously inexact science, since census data don’t track religion, but rather “country of origin,” which researchers attempt to use as a proxy. There are somewhere between 1.7 million and seven million American Muslims, by most estimates, and Kurzman says he operates off a model that presumes the lower end, a bit over 2 million. That’s less a rate of involvement in terrorism of less than 10 per million, down from a 2003 high of 40 per million, as detailed in the chart above.

    Yet the scrutiny by law enforcement and homeland security on American Muslims has not similarly abated. The FBI tracks “geomaps” of areas where Muslims live and work, regardless of their involvement in any crime. The Patriot Act and other post-9/11 restrictions on government surveillance remain in place. The Department of Homeland Security just celebrated its 10th anniversary. In 2011, President Obama ordered the entire federal national-security apparatus to get rid of counterterrorism training material that instructed agents to focus on Islam itself, rather than specific terrorist groups.

    • asherpat
      May 4, 2013, 5:09 am

      Cloak, mind to tell us the percentage in the world, not only in US? Is it not that the proportion will reverse?

      • CloakAndDagger
        May 4, 2013, 8:43 pm


        I wouldn’t know how to find the statistics for the entire world although someone here might, but given that freedom fighters are now labelled as terrorists, and given the huge amount of terrorism enacted by Israel on Palestinians and our own military on civilian populations in muslim countries, I doubt if the percentage would be much different than that for the US, and would certainly not be inverted.

        In any case, we are talking about the (deliberate) increase of Islamophobia in the US, and these statistics knock out the scaffoldings that support the distributors of that myth here, along with crap like Sharia law replacing the US constitution.

  9. Kathleen
    May 3, 2013, 11:17 pm

    The problem is expanding empire no matter what the cost in life and treasure. No matter how spiritually bankrupt the U.S. and Israel continue to become Expanding empires continue to be the problem.

  10. ritzl
    May 3, 2013, 11:46 pm

    I sure hope there’s a stick-back/rebuttal article allowed at FPM. But even that raises the question of why these types of utterly bogus and gratuitous ruminations are [seemingly] always presented as a first thought/principle there. They’re so obviously intellectually bankrupt, so why does FPM offer them up first, or at all. Having read Hounshell’s tweets, it’s pretty clear his editorial predilections are firmly informed by the conventional wisdom.

    They publish Stephen Walt’s observations, but is that how they balance out this garbage. Walt’s informed, if arguable (though not by me), realism vs. Shamir’s agenda-driven hyper-castigation. Where’s the middle of that, editorially speaking? What melding (or just understanding) of opposing views can a reader come to if Shamir’s views are one pole of the FPM debate?

    Thanks for this article.

  11. yourstruly
    May 4, 2013, 1:28 am

    scuttlebutt on the boston marathon bombing

    those two boys
    placing a bomb next to that child
    body parts strewn everywhere
    nothing could be worse
    what were they thinking?
    have they no values?
    if they do, they’re not like ours
    we wouldn’t do anything like that
    and the innocents wiped out almost every day by u.s. drones?
    that’s different
    collateral damage
    war on terror
    war on terror
    war on terror
    they’re less than human

  12. asherpat
    May 4, 2013, 3:29 am

    “I think Shamir let us all know who wants to conquer whom.”

    Reading the preceding sentence in Shamir’s article, it is “malevolent terror” that he wants to “conquer”. What’s wrong with that?

  13. aiman
    May 4, 2013, 6:58 am

    Great article.

    Bernard Lewis has been peddling this nonsense for ages. Everybody knows why. Yair Shamir or Sam Harris, they all rely on that same clash of civilisations ideology (the phrase originally coined by Bernard Lewis who the NYT describes as the “doyen of Middle Eastern studies” which is equivalent to a paper in a Muslim country describing Sayyid Qutb as the “doyen of Western studies”). The dehumanisation helps killing the Other, whoever does it.

    Bernard Lewis, a Zionist foremost, offers a myth called the “Judeo-Christian civilisation” against “Muslim rage”. This is ideological service for Zionism as even the odious Harold Bloom acknowledged here

    “It is absurd to talk about a Judeo-Christian tradition. I say this in spite of the political good that this does for the State of Israel or the remnant of Jewry.”

    Bloom is wrong just as well: like all Zionists, or tribalists of any religion whether they are atheist (as he is or not), he makes claims for Jewry that would be opposed by any right-minded Jew. Zionism is advertised to the “Western audience” in this language, drawing upon terrorist atrocities like the Boston bombing in a united front. It knowingly exploits the fears of ordinary people. If the original inhabitants of Palestine were Buddhist, they would be peddling nonsense about Buddha. Fundamentalism, whether coming from the Islamists or Zionists or Hindu nationalists, is the same thing. Yair Shamir and Bernard Lewis are both fundamentalists.

  14. Talkback
    May 6, 2013, 9:45 am

    I like this part from Shamir’s article: “Why do we accept the argument that perceived Muslim persecution in one part of the world necessitates Islamist violence in another?”

    I replaced Muslim with Jew …

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