Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Philological & Semantic Analysis of the "Terror Flyer"

In addition to what I already have noted (here), Steve Plaut sent me some of his thoughts which include these "observations":

- Sternhell's political outlook and opinions were repugnant before the attack and did not become any less repugnant because of the attack.

- Radical Leftist sedition does not become legitimized because of the
attack on Sternhell, no matter who carried it out.

- Critics of the radical Left do not become delegitimized because of
the attack on Sternhell, no matter who carried it out.

- Critics of Prof. Sternhell's opinions have as much right to express
their criticisms as Sternhell himself has to express his.

But there is more to this act of violence, in my humble opinion.

Let's take a look at the flyer left at the scene and try a bit of semantic and philological analysis.

My observations:

1. There is no ב"ה or בס"ד, usual heading of religious persons writing. Those abbreviations mean "with God's help".

2. The signature "the Army of the Statist Liberators" is ridiculous. The whole concept of ממלכתי, i.e., supporting the state is anathema to the radical natioanlist right.

3. Why announce an award of 1.1 million NIS? 1.1??? What was that, a typo?

4. The state of Israel is described as the "dream" (חלום) of the past 2000 years. Religious/nationalists would use the word "vision" (חזון).

5. In the list of weapons that Israel has handed over to the PA is included מכונות ירי (and why not יריה?) which is a fairly archaic term for machine guns which may indicate someone over 65. A youngster who has actually served in the army would use תת-מקלעים or straight out קלצ'ניקובים - Klatchnikovs.

6. The use of the Hebrew term for "Palestinians" is פלשתינאים which is not usual. Either פלסטינים or ערבים - Arabs would have been used.

7. The inclusion of "sins" of the state of Israel of abortion encouragement would indicate Hareidi groups, not nationalists.

8. The same for the inclusion of encouragement of "gay pride parades".

9. The use of מלכות יהודה - Kingdon of Judea instead of the Kahanist demand for מדינת יהודה - State of Judea also indicates to me Hareidi or GSS composition.

10. Sternhell isn't mentioned in the flyer and the addition of the 1.1 NIS reward for the murder of Peace Now leaders is an addition, with a different typeface.

Something is fishy.

And see here, too.


P.S. Consider this in relation the above:

In the name of patriotism
By Avner de-Shalit, head of the Department of Political Science at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

At the time of writing, the identity of the person or group that placed a bomb at the entrance of Prof. Zeev Sternhell's home is not yet clear. However, they should be aware that this abominable act will not deter Prof. Sternhell, or any other member of academia, from having his say. Just as it is impossible to prevent painters from painting, it is impossible to prevent scholars from trying to discover the truth and publish their conclusions, even if they are controversial.

Of course, we must not get carried away into making collective accusations. The attempt to harm Prof. Sternhell was not carried out by "the right" or "the settlers." But even if a "small handful" or "extremists" are responsible for it, it serves as a sad example of the state of Israeli society on the eve of Rosh Hashanah 5769 and testifies to the prevailing atmosphere.

That is because it reflects a society that on the one hand is frighteningly violent, and on the other does not exhibit enough will to confront violence. These patterns of violence, which are taken from the repertoire of the criminal underworld, include phone threats, written threats, and in the end a physical attack or attempted assassination. They are directed against the ideological "other" - someone whose views not only differ from those of the violent group, but who is not "one of ours." In this atmosphere, a person who criticizes the country in general or the settlement enterprise in particular is certainly not a good Jew, so he is "other," not only in his opinions but also in terms of the group he is affiliated with. From here it is a short path to threats and physical attack.

The attempt to harm Prof. Sternhell is also an example in another sense. If it really was done by people from the right, as seems to be the case at the moment, it proves the extent to which the concepts "Zionism" and "patriotism" have become empty of content, or simply have had their content distorted.

After all, who was the target of this attack? Prof. Sternhell is one of Israeli society's and Zionist history's outstanding figures. A person who lost everything he held most dear in the Holocaust, but survived, immigrated to Israel, became an army officer, a teacher and one of the greatest scholars in Israel and the world over. Prof. Sternhell has devoted the past 40 years to researching fascism and the rise of the radical right in Europe - the Jew who rose from the ruins of the Holocaust and pointed an accusing finger at fascism and its sources, without an inferiority complex, but with pride, a unique academic sensitivity and while remaining faithful to the principles of research.

Prof. Sternhell's research deals with intolerance, political hatred, anti-enlightenment and fascism. He has won international recognition and admiration, as well as the Israel Prize, but has also been the target of a great deal of violence and hatred. Any violence is unacceptable and deserves condemnation, but we should stop for a moment and think: What have we come to if those who speak in the name of patriotism attack a man like that?

Therefore all of us - including the spiritual leaders of those whose opinions are not the same as Prof. Sternhell's - are obliged to wake up and strongly condemn the act, educate toward nonviolence, and explain to their students that love of the land should not be separated from love of man, which also means tolerance for a person's views and opinions. We must also demand that the legislature and law-enforcement authorities do not make light of threats of this kind. We must not allow a climate that tolerates violence.


Ashan said...

I wouldn't put it past Sternhell to have concocted the letter himself. I would even be so bold to say that he set the pipe bomb himself (or with the help of a lefty pal). He's a real nasty piece of work. The police will probably take the letter at face value to continue to justify their persecution of "settlers".

Judy in Jerusalem said...

Excellent sleuthing, Winkie. Hope we can get this out and about...

shana tova, gmar chatima tova..

Jerry Haber said...

Every argument used by Yisrael Medad against the letter being written by a member of the right can be used against it being written by the Shabak. Does he really think that the Shabak doesn't have infiltrators who know proper style rightwing religious terroist style? Couldn't Avishai Raviv have written this sort of letter? On the contrary, if the letter were written in the usual style, that would be a better tip-off that it is by the Shabak.

So that provenance can be ruled out.

Medad's analysis is not uninteresting, however. We are either talking about an older sort of rightwing terrorist group (lo haser), or else, what is more likely, a group that wanted to throw the Shabak off its scent by pulling the sort of shtick that Meidad points out.

Actually, somebody intelligent like Meidad could have written this sort of letter; that sort of intellectual underpinning of rightwing extremism is rife among the right.

YMedad said...

Thanks Jerry aka Magnes for the compliment but if I was as intelligent as you would have me, either I wouldn't have done it at all or the Prof. would have been dead by now.

What I was trying to do was to illustrate how the Left/Media/Academia (who have seen the emails from the Hebrew University teaching staff?) are literally hounding after a target, but in every thing else they do academically, etc., they check, review, peer-judge, etc. But not in politics. Gee, I wonder why.

Peter said...

Jerry, I usually agree with you but this time I'm not sure your point is very strong. I think you are giving too much credit to Shabak. This is a natural thing - we all tend to attribute too much competence to security and intelligence services because we've been conditioned to do so by movies, books and folklore. But there are a lot of "halturot" going on inside these organizations as many an insider-written memoir will tell you.
I am far from convinced Shabak would not pull of such a stunt and the flyer is fishy enough to doubt its authenticity (how does one claim the money, by the way?) If Shabak is involved, I'd be interested to infer the motive, though.