En av de mest ødeleggende forestillinger for en ekte dialog mellom Vesten og islam er oppfatningen av at all elendighet i Midtøsten skyldes vestlig innblanding. Den har vært dyrket i årtier, og gjorde at fagkunnskapen ikke kunne advare mot 911.

Det var ikke bare CIA og de andre etterretningsorganisasjonene som kunne ha slått alarm. Det var like mye ekspertisen som kunne fortalt verden om en ny dødelig form for ekstremisme. Men fagkunnskapen har vært mer opptatt av å forklare at alt som ikke fungerer i Midtøsten skyldes Vesten.

Kåre Willoch har gjort dette til sitt evangelium, godt sekundert av forskere som Nils Butenschøn og Hilde Henriksen Waage. De utfyller journalistene som tenker på akkurat samme måte. Da Hamas gjennomførte sitt kupp var det Vesten og Israels skyld, forklarte forsker Are Hovednak. Harald Berg Sævereid i VG var helt enig, og i Dagbladet kunne Jan-Erik Smilden fortelle at det egentlig var Fatah som hadde begått statskupp, med Vestens hjelp. Sidsel Wold satt i NRK-studio og vred seg. Ensidigheten forvandler norsk debatt til et galehus.

Hvis man anlegger et slikt perspektiv ender man opp som apologet for Hamas, slik store deler av norsk presse, forskermiljø og Utenriksdepartement nå har gjort.

Norske miljøer kan trøste seg med at de ikke er alene med sin galskap. Det hjelper så lite. Vi må til utlandet for motgift. Der finnes det folk som viser at det finnes helt andre forklaringer, som er mer overbevisende. Om ikke annet: vi er lei av drøvtyggingen, gi oss noe annet, som kan belyse situasjonen fra andre vinkler.

Ephraim Karsh heter en israeler som er leder av Mediterranean Studies Programme ved King’s College, University of London. I et oppgjør med professor Juan Cole og hans informed Comment-blogg, heter det:

There has been no real discussion of the veracity of this blame-the-West hypothesis since it was spelled out in the mid-’30s, and the handful of scholars who dared to broach the subject were viciously attacked and marginalized. The eminent British historian Elie Kedourie was even denied a doctorate at Oxford University for having refused to revise his dissertation to conform with this dogma. When Kedourie later led the assault on the blame-the-West thesis, the denizens of Middle East studies shunned him.

Yet it is the inculcation of this misguided dogma in generations of students that prevented the anticipation of the September 11 attacks and has subsequently held back a correct prognosis of their root causes. Blaming the victim for its misfortune, most Arabists portray September 11 as a response to an arrogant and self-serving U.S. foreign policy by a fringe extremist group whose violent interpretation of Islam has little to do with the actual spirit and teachings of this religion. Ignoring centuries of Islamic jihads against those deemed infidels and the deeply illiberal elements of Islam, Cole claims, «Radical Islamism was first provoked to terrorism in Egypt precisely by the arrogance of British power there, beginning a genealogy of violence that leads through Ayman al-Zawahiri directly to September 11, 2001.» Were U.S. policy to become more attuned to Muslim sensibilities, Cole and his fellow Arabists imply, Islamic militants would be discredited and the ticking bomb, so to speak, would be defused.


Denne blame-the-West-tankegangen ender alltid opp med å finne Israel som det virkelige ankepunktet. Det er her den største uretten ble begått, og som ennå syder av puss og bakterier. Vesten har mye på historiens samvittighet, men dette er aktuell politikk, og kan og må endres, her og nå. Det oppstår derfor en bonding mellom de mest destruktive krefter i Midtøsten og «idealistene» i Vesten. Man forsvarer seg mot å se dybden i motsetningene mellom feks. islam og jødedommen, og daterer også antisemittismen til vestlig import.

Like many of those who inhabit Middle East studies departments, Cole believes that the U.S. policy that most inflames Muslims is support for Israel. He writes that «knee-jerk US support for Israeli expansionism is at the root of anti-Americanism in the Arab world.» While Cole pays the customary lip service on his blog to Israel’s right to exist within its pre-1967 borders (and says it would be worth American lives to defend Tel Aviv), he also makes clear that he thinks the Middle East would have been better off without the Jewish state. Discounting altogether the millenarian Jewish attachment to Palestine, so as to misrepresent Israel’s creation as an ordinary colonialist project, he claims in one post that it would have been preferable for the British to have simply accepted Jewish refugees «rather than saddling a small, poor peasant country with 500,000 immigrants hungry to make the place their own.» He goes on to perversely blame Israel for Arab militarism, contending that «the rise of Israel put pressure on Arab budgets, when a different sort of neighbour might have allowed them to invest the money in more fruitful areas than the military.»

Cole glibly claims, «[T]o any extent that contemporary Muslims have a problem with Jews, it is largely driven by what they see as injustices done by Zionists to the Palestinians.» Such ahistorical analysis ignores a deep anti-Jewish bigotry that dates to Islam’s earliest days and reflects the prophet Muhammad’s outrage over the rejection of his religious message by the contemporary Jewish community. To his credit, Cole criticized the Egyptian government’s 2002 decision to air a TV serial based on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a virulent anti-Semitic tract fabricated by the Russian secret police at the turn of the twentieth century that alleges an organized Jewish conspiracy to achieve world domination. But the line of argument he uses repeats the same ahistorical belief that the Protocols are a recent alien import to Arab societies that «had no particular resonances in the Muslim world (outside a few radical Muslim cliques) until the past couple of decades.»

Cole should know better than that. The Protocols have been a staple of Arab-Muslim anti-Semitism since the early twentieth century, published in numerous editions and in several different translations, including one by the brother of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. (Nasser himself would recommend the pamphlet as a useful guide to the «Jewish mind,» as would his successor, Anwar Sadat, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, Muammar Qaddafi of Libya, and Yasir Arafat, among many others.) Less than a year after their airing on Egyptian television, the Protocols were saliently displayed alongside a Torah scroll in an exhibition at the newly built Alexandria library.

Sitatene er fra en artikkel Ephraim Karsh skrev i The New Republic 19. april 2005. Hans siste bok: Islamic Imperialism: A history, er nettopp utkommet i paperback.