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Dr. Jonathan Fine

Dr Jonathan Fine Counter terrorism Expert: Tom Friedman on the Arab Spring Got it Wrong ! Fine Does Not Foresee Diplomatic Solution regarding Iran

by Rhonda Spivak, September 9, 2012

An expert in counter-terrorism, Dr Jonathan Fine says that in analyzing the Arab Spring New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, a "good Journalist" got it wrong, when “he was comparing what was going on in the Arab world with what happened in Eastern Europe."
"Egypt has had no history of democratic institutions, liberty and civil society," and "Egypt is not Poland or Czechoslovakia," says Fine
On the subject of Iran, Fine says that although no one knows for sure, he does "not foresee a diplomatic solution" that will stop Iran from having capacity to make a nuclear bomb, and therefore "sooner or later I think we will likely have a military confrontation." That confrontation would be a very serious situation "that will see 65,000 missiles raining down on northern Israel from Hezbollah in Lebanon and 45,000 missiles coming from Hamas in Gaza in the south."
 "I don't envy being in the position of Bibi an Barak, " Fine adds. "No one knows if Bibi will defy the wishes of an American President and attack Iran militarily on its own." But, Fine says with conviction "Israel will not let Iran get the bomb period."
The above remarks were made to the Winnipeg Jewish Review following Fine's talk at the Berney Theatre hosted by the Jewish Federation’s Combined Jewish Appeal, Community Relations and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, as a lead up to Super Sunday September 9. Fine is the undergraduate advisor of both the international program in Government, Diplomacy, and Strategy at the Raphael Recanati International School and the Lauder Government School at the IDC the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzlyia, Israel. He is also a researcher at the ICT - The International Institute for Counter Terrorism.
Regarding the Palestinians, Fine said in his talk, which had a large audience, that Hamas is very popular in the West Bank and if there is another election, he predicted Hamas will take over.
Fine said that Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Fayyad is unpopular among the Palestinians, even though Fine believes that Fayyad has done a lot for the Palestinians in terms of improving the West Bank's economy and is someone the Israel and the West can deal with. It will not be a good sign, if Fayyad resigns or is ousted by the PA.
When asked if he thought that the Palestinian security police, who have been trained and outfitted with equipment by the United States, Canada, and the Europeans would one day use their weapons on Israel, he said that if there is no peace deal, "someday that probably will happen," although he stressed that right now there were more serious issues (Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas) on Israel's radar.
In his talk, Fine noted that since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, there has been a steady rise in Islamist terrorism. In his view, too many Western analysts underestimate the ideological basis of terrorism and argue instead that rational-strategic rather than ideological principles motivate Islamist terror groups. However, according to Fine a comparison, between terrorist groups with secular and religious agenda suggests that "ideology matters for both these groups" and that "downplaying religious inspiration for terrorism in an effort to emphasize tactical motivations is both inaccurate and dangerous."
Fine notes that most suicide bombings since 1980 in the world in general and in the Middle East in particular are sponsored by Islamist and not secular terrorist groups. According to Fine, one of the biggest ideological differences between religious and secular terrorists is their definition of the enemy: While secular terrorists see their opponents as representatives of a certain socioeconomic order or regime, Islamist terrorists espouse a broader definition--a certain civilization or culture. The Palestine Liberation Organization, a secular terrorist group, infused its national liberation agenda, with Marxist doctrine, speaking of Zionist "imperialism." While its Charter did not recognize Israel's right to exist, it did not define the conflict as being against the Jews, but the Zionists. This is unlike the religious terrorist agenda of Hamas, which in its charter calls for the elimination of the Jews and speaks of  Jewish money controlling the world, a line straight out of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Iran's Khomeini linked asceticism and suicide, and this linkage is crucial to understanding the rise of suicide bombing into the principal tactic by Islamic terrorist organizations. According to Khomeini, humanity can only crush its selfish desires by spiritual devotion to the umma or community, and the West threatens this. The only way to deal with the human obsession with materialism is denial. "Khomeini goes to the extreme of justifying the deliberate giving of one's life for the Islamic cause insofar as death is the ultimate denial of one's material self. Khomeini's teachings and charisma led many Shi'a to rationalize the justification of suicide on religious grounds."
Since the early 1980's,the major Islamist terror tactic has been the suicide bomber. Secular terrorists are willing to die, but they prefer to live and try to escape alive, says Fine. Islamist suicide terrorists need not escape; their planning focuses instead on how to deliver the perpetrator to the target area, and how to position themselves among crowds or in restaurants to achieve maximum carnage.
Fine concludes that Khomeini's influence on Islamist terror suggests that suicide bombing has a wider ideological and strategic foundation than just opposition to occupation. "Rather, the basis for suicide bombing is threefold: First, suicide for jihad cleanses the perpetrator of the world's evils. Second, suicide for the community purifies the umma. Third, suicide bombing serves the goal of opposing Islam's enemies."
Fine emphasizes that "analyzing the differences between secular agenda terrorists and their religious counterparts is crucial to understanding the special nature of contemporary terror."
As he says, “Unlike the activities of secular guerrillas and terrorists between 1945 and 1979, the war against the enemies of Islam is not limited by time, territory, or a specific socioeconomic agenda, and it is being waged against an entire culture and civilization."
He is of the view that in order to better understand the political mindset of Islamist terrorist organizations, and confront Islamic terror, their ideology cannot be underestimated.
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.

Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.