“There can be no true friends without true enemies. Unless we hate what we are not, we cannot love what we are.
Samuel P. Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order
I.- LET THE SUN SHINE IN
When Samuel Huntington published his book The Clash of Civilizations in 1996, the Berlin Wall had fallen seven years earlier and the Cold War had faded.
Faced with the events of November 9, 1989, there was a euphoric reaction among the European left about the fulfillment of I don’t know what messianic prophecy implicit in the bases of Marxism reformulated by Eurocommunism. That is, if the Cold War ended, we were facing the advent of an era of peace, progress and brotherhood, although it was not known exactly under what new regime or way of organizing the economy, politics, society.
While thinking about what to do with a post-Cold War world, and to celebrate the reunification of Germany, colossal festivals with alcohol, sex, designer drugs and dancing were organized in the streets of Berlin and other cities in Europe, and Let The Sun Shine in, as in the musical “Hair” by Rado, Ragni and MacDermot, which was later made into a film by Milos Forman.
Perhaps the Europeans needed to heal from the wound of that wall, perhaps they needed to believe that they had already paid the historical debt of their 40 million deaths in World War II, and they wanted to convince themselves that they were finally heading towards a better world. A kind of wishful thinking mixed with hippieism.
But if you are born in New York, and you study at Yale and Harvard like Huntington, you are permeated by another culture, by another less naive perception. As a Yankee you have no reason to feel responsible for those 40 million deaths or for the disastrous experience of Stalinism and the Iron Curtain in Eastern Europe.
On the contrary, the Americans went to liberate Europe from Nazism, they put ships, planes, soldiers and blood, and where they triumphed together with their English cousins – the British put 25% of the troops that landed in Normandy – they contributed to rebuilding societies that have ended up being the most prosperous on the old continent: Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, Holland, Austria, something very different from the nightmare that the states liberated by the Soviets lived – and some still live. Additionally (and fortunately), the United States later bankrupted the USSR economically, until the Soviet bloc collapsed, something for which humanity still has not thank them in its fair measure.
Nothing that its philosophers and tribunes have not invoked as manifest destiny and political and moral imperative. Ralph Waldo Enerson stated: “To date, and according to what has been observed, the development of the natural rights of man in moral, political and national life is represented in the United States. We could confidently assume that our country is destined to be the great nation of the future.” And Indiana Senator Albert Beveridge, in a speech in 1900, went so far as to say: “God has designated the American people as his chosen nation to begin the regeneration of the world.”
Huntington grew up surrounded by this creed that may sound stupid, arrogant and unreal, but it turns out that Americans have taken it very seriously, and we already see what they have achieved, with their lights and shadows, of course.
Huntington warned us in time of a new world order where the main divisions would no longer be ideological, of capitalism vs. communism, something that was overcome with the fall of the Berlin Wall. The new divisions certainly continue to have strong economic bases, and the geopolitical aspirations of various countries and blocs, that has not disappeared. But what is powerfully new is that these divisions are increasingly based on civilizations, with all the cultural and religious content that such a notion entails.
Huntington envisioned that the conflicts of the future were going to be mainly between civilizations, not between countries or ideologies. The book was immediately demonized by the unredeemed left and by academics around the world.
Amartya Sen criticized “an oversimplification of cultural identities” in the book, and argued that religion was not the only determining factor of civilization. Noam Chomsky noted that Huntington’s vision was a justification for Western military intervention in the Arab world. Tariq Ali argued that Huntington’s book was a tool for Western imperialism and that it promoted Islamophobia.
30 years later, it seems that the simplistic Huntington was right.
II.- TWO WAYS OF LEARNING
My master Michael Laitman always tells us in his morning classes from Petah Tikva that human beings have two ways of learning: studying, or carrying sticks.
The United States did not want to learn from Huntington’s prophecy until the Twin Towers in New York were demolished.
The Prime Minister of Spain has not yet learned, and scolds Netanyahu during a meeting between both leaders, defending the human rights of Hamas militiamen who camouflage themselves among Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
The Scandinavian north is learning the hard way and is changing its immigration policies because the work of immigrant workers is not enough to finance their social benefits in the welfare state.
Germany is terrified because violence takes over its streets and Muslim citizens may become the majority in the country, due to its high birth rate.
France will never learn, it is a lost cause due to its anti-American obsession, as the liberal philosopher Jean-Francoise Revel called it. It is a kind of compulsive political consumerism, the product of an inferiority complex with the USA. Although its president, Emmanuel Macron, supports Israel in the war against Hamas, for French intellectuals and academics, and for the vast majority of its population, France buys everything that is against the United States, even if it comes from the the same people who have crushed dozens of its citizens with trucks in the streets of Nice, or who have murdered some of its most prominent caricaturists and comedians, such as Georges Wolinski, Jean Cabut (Cabu), Stéphane Charbonnier (Charb) and Bernard Verlhac (Tignous), from Charlie Hebdo magazine. All this nonsense can be disguised with the argument of a supposed Zionist genocide that justifies anything, literally anything.
So neither the USA nor Europe were prepared to react definitively to the global threat represented by Islam, in this clash of civilizations prefigured by Huntington.
Who ultimately got that mission, as far as Hamas and Hezbollah are concerned? Well, inevitably Israel.
III.- WHICH ISLAM?
With the notable exception of Iran, almost all Arab and Islamic countries have accepted the reality of the existence of the State of Israel, even if they do not draw it on their school maps. After decades trying to destroy Israel through wars and terrorist attacks, it seems that they have resigned themselves, especially when seeing that the more they attack Israel, the poorer they become, while Israel, the more they attack it, the richer it becomes, the more powerful it becomes as a state.
Additionally, there is a geopolitical struggle in the Middle East between Saudi Arabia and Iran: both countries want to be the dominant Islamic power in the region.
Saudi Arabia and the countries seeking to make peace with Israel prefer the Jews over the Persians, for pragmatic reasons, beyond the Koran: clear rules of the game, support with the most sophisticated weapons they can access in the region, and reliable allies. That is to say, negotiating with Israel, which has the support and trust of the USA and England, Australia and the G7, is not the same as negotiating with Iran, which has Russia and China behind it. Who would you choose as a partner and ally? Who is more trustworthy?
And it will be said that there are two versions of Islam, the minority but violent Shiite one and the pragmatic and majority Sunni one. But I remember that Huntington distrusted these two versions:
“Some Westerners […] have argued that the West does not have problems with Islam but only with violent Islamist extremists. Fourteen hundred years of history demonstrate otherwise.”
(Ibidem, The Clash…)
To those 1,400 years we must add the last 30.
Despite that, we Westerners should not feel ethically superior to the Islamists, we have simply been more astute. It is like the war between the Neanderthals and homo sapiens, as described by Yuval Harari in “Sapiens”: the sapiens triumph because they are better organized collectively for war, extermination and genocide. Yes, perhaps the first great genocide was that of the Sapiens against the Neanderthals, and from there, our technique has only evolved and become increasingly sophisticated and lethal, until reaching Oppenheimer.
As Huntington points out:
“The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion […] but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do.”
(Ibidem, The Clash…)
Of course, this technical and economic superiority has made Westerners arrogant, to the point of justifying the most atrocious interventions, and generating Islamophobia, which does exist, as well as anti-Semitism, which resurfaces from where one least imagines it.
And that generates a basis in relationships that has less to do with the economy, and even less to do with the old capitalism-communism divisions, a division based on an inferiority complex, as the “naive” Huntington points out:
The fundamental problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilisation whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power.”
(Ibidem, The Clash…)
Ths is probably the hinge of our relation with Islam, the turning point that can allow us to understand where Islamic hatred towards the West comes from, but also show us the way towards a minimum peace, towards the survival of all the actors in this dangerous game.
IV.- DEAD MAN WALKING
Although it has not publicly changed its doctrine regarding the release of hostages, prisoners of war, kidnapped people and corpses of Israelites on foreign soil, I nevertheless see that Israel’s current attitude goes beyond that.
Certainly, all possible efforts, negotiations and agreements will be made (as long as they do not threaten the security of the state), so that the more than 100 Israeli hostages in Gaza be released. But if Hamas thought that by using the hostages and their own mothers, children and nephews as human shields they were going to prevent Israel from destroying them, they have been tragically wrong, because as Netanyahu pointed out: “Every Hamas militant is a dead man.” A lot of them still walk, run, shoot, but they’re like that Tim Robbins movie, “Dead Man Walking.”
After thousands of years of persecution and extermination, after losing six million Jews in World War II during the Shoah, I have the impression that Israel and the Netanyahu government are clear that there is a very high risk that those lives will be lost. They may be lost, despite the efforts of the army, the state, and regardless of the pain that their families and Israeli citizens will suffer. It is not something they are looking for, but it does not depend entirely on Israel, but to a large extent on Hamas and its suicidal instinct, or survival…
Perhaps there will be hundreds of hostages executed, perhaps there will be hundreds of soldiers killed in combat, in addition to the more than 1,200 victims of the terrorist attack on October 7.
But if this massacre is going to serve any purpose, it will be to put an end to the enemy (Hamas), and to teach Iran a strong lesson.
Iran miscalculated and bet worse, thinking that international pressure was going to stop Israel, or that Arab countries were going to close ranks around Hamas and its attacks, considering them “a just response to Zionist violence.”
But his Hamas militiamen in Gaza repeated a serious mistake of the Nazis in World War II. The Nazis left records in black and white films of their experiments and of the mountains of corpses that were pushed into the pits by bulldozers, a visual testimony that was used in the Nuremberg trials, and that later served Alain Resnais to compose one of the scariest movies I know, “Night and Fog.”
The Nazis tried to hide these films, to burn them, to disappear them, although they did not succeed, due to the arrival of North American and Russian troops to the concentration camps.
But the Hamas militants were so stupid that they filmed themselves beheading civilians, massacring children, calling their mothers to tell them how many Jews they had killed, and to top it all off, they published it euphorically on their social networks. Did they really think anyone was going to applaud them, apart from Iran?
They gave the perfect excuse to Arab countries that want to continue negotiating with Israel, to distance themselves, to mark the difference between Palestinian citizens and Hamas militants. They have not even managed to get the timorous president of the Palestinian authority, Mahmoud Abbas, to radicalize against Israel, because he calculates that some power will come to his hands when the post-war reconstruction and reorganization of Gaza begins.
Only a childish antisemite like Antonio Guterres dares to defend their human rights, something that Israel will do, of course, as long as they lay down their arms and surrender. However, Israel shot him a silver bullet, the vampire-killing kind: Israel showed her evidence that UNRWA officials, Palestinian officials under his command as UN President, participated in the October 7 attacks. Since then, Guterres has begun to ask for forgiveness, I don’t think out of regret, but because he knows that he could be fired from his position.
And only a stupid like Pedro Sánchez dares to tell Netanyahu in a meeting between the two: “Be careful with human rights and humanitarian conduct in war…!”
Netanyahu made a brutal simile: what would have happened if when the Americans advanced into Germany, destroying Hitler’s army, the citizens of New York or London had gone out to march against President Truman, defending the human rights of the poor Nazis? What Netanyahu lacked was telling him: “My son, are you going to continue defending the human rights of the same kind of people who blew up your trains at the Atocha station?”
Netanyahu has spoken of a confrontation or clash between civilizations, of the survival of Western civilization (Judeo-Christian), and he is absolutely right, and that is why I have dusted off Huntington’s book in this article.
It is vital for the West that Israel triumphs, that Hamas be destroyed and that Iran be stopped in its nuclear aspirations.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, celebrating the massacre, said: “The flames of the bombs will soon engulf the Zionists.” For the West and for the entire world, it is better if these bombs are conventional, the kind that can be destroyed by the Iron Dome, and not atomic bombs. In other words, it is better to teach Iran a lesson now, with conventional weapons, than let them get the atomic bomb and launch one of those devices against Israel.
In the center of Tehran there is a square called “Palestine Square,” where the Iranians have placed a clock that counts the hours and days left to achieve the total destruction of the State of Israel. Be sure that if Iran manages to obtain an atomic bomb, they will drop it on Jerusalem, and we all know what happens next, we have seen it hundreds of times in Hollywood apocalyptic cinema.
Israel’s nuclear doctrine begins by not recognizing that they have atomic weapons, and in terms of their use, they follow China’s line: if you don’t use yours against me, I won’t use mine against you.
But, after this terrorist attack that they knew was going to cost the existence of Hamas and thousands of innocent civilians: who can guarantee that an Iran with a nuclear weapon does not launch an atomic attack against Israel?
It must be made very clear to Iran that if they use nuclear weapons against Israel, they will disappear from the map. This must be demonstrated with conventional weapons, and even so there are no guarantees, because they are childish, suicidal, and capable of doing so. For the good of humanity, it is better to prevent them from having nuclear devices in any way, and destroy their militias in Gaza and Lebanon.
As Golda Meir said, you cannot negotiate with someone who comes to kill you, you have to stop him, neutralize him, eliminate him.
To Europe and the USA, Israel can say: Sorry, guys, if you haven’t been able to do it, we have to. We have armed ourselves to the teeth since our founding as a State until today, because we knew that this moment was going to come, and our pulse will not tremble, because someone has to save humanity.
As Huntington said, “There can be no true friends without true enemies. Unless we hate what we are not, we cannot love what we are.”
V.- THE GIDEON PLAN
Beneath their diplomatic postures and the necessary hypocrisy of international relations, many governments breathe a sigh of relief when Israel assumed the task of taking this threat off the map. In reality, a ceasefire is not being discussed, because that is not going to happen, wake up and react you governments and academics of the international idiotic left. There may be truces to negotiate the release of hostages, but the ceasefire that the now terrified Hamas survivors are desperately and arrogantly asking for is not going to happen even in 100 parallel universes. They can always give up, and their mothers and wives will thank them, because they will not be used as human shields, and they will be able to raise their children and grandchildren.
Where and how will they be raised? That is the big question of the moment: what will be done with Gaza? Who will govern it? Who will guarantee the security of the State of Israel, and that the Palestinians themselves are not going to put other madmen like Hamas in power in the strip, as they did in the legislative elections in 2006, when they gave them 44, 45% of the votes and 65% of the seats in the Palestinian Parliament? Under what conditions will the Palestinians return to Gaza? That is the vital question.
The Palestinian National Authority will probably be present, and the weakened Mahmoud Abbas will be strengthened. Surely there will be international participation and presence, and now, finally, perhaps the blue helmets and Guterres can serve a realistic purpose.
And of course Israel will be there, but not to displace the Palestinians and send them to other territories and other countries – Israel is not going to repeat what the Nazis did to the Jews of Europe – although the problem is that basically no one want the Palestinians in their territory as refugees, as they never wanted the Jews who were trying to escape the final solution of Hitler and his efficient bureaucrat Adolf Eichmann.
They have always been an excuse to attack Israel, and also a big business, because they raised billions of dollars “for the Palestinian cause.” That is why very few have been really interested in the Palestinians building of a viable state that can coexist alongside Israel, through the well-worn doctrine of peace through two states.
But I think the most important thing will be reconstruction, Israel will have to execute the equivalent of a Marshall Plan in that territory, let’s say a Gideon Plan, for its own security, for solidarity with the Palestinians, and to teach a (another) lesson to the entire world, how to behave after the war. I hope they have learned it from the Yankees in post-war Europe, and in the reconstruction of Japan.
And this is where we will see (or not) what kind of solidarity these supposedly democratic countries – although ultimately anti-Semitic, anti-Israel – really show with the Palestinians.
At the time of this such Gideon plan, we will see how much solidarity Pedro Sánchez’s Spain has, we will see how the loves of the EU and the UN are manifested to rebuild schools, buildings, hospitals, mosques, yes, without arsenals or tunnels underneath.
An utopia? No. It looks to be seen very soon, when Israel reaches the southern border, and there be not a single Hamas militiaman left in Gaza. Everyone will have to play their best cards, because the deck of cards will be shuffled again, and the game will restart.
Huntington was always right, but we didn’t pay enough attention to him 30 years ago.