Published by The Freeman Center

The Maccabean Online

Political Analysis and Commentary
on Israeli and Jewish Affairs

"For Zion's sake I shall not hold my peace, And for Jerusalem's sake I shall not rest."


by David Basch

February 8, 2006


The recent episodes involving the publication of political cartoons featuring representations of Muhammed are treating the world to an example of a global phenomenon of a "pecking order." The "pecking order" is a dominance-submission phenom that psychologists have observed among animals of the same species living in close proximity. Chickens, for example, establish a pecking order within minutes of being brought together in a coop, the outcome of a violent burst, in which each learns from whom it must endure a peck and to whom below it may administer a peck. Apparently, in connection with certain political cartoons, this dominance-submission phenomenon is being enacted with Islam establishing its dominance. As we learn from the preponderance of comment from Muslims quoted in the media, Muslims are highly sensitive to perceived slights directed against them but are virtually blind to their own insensitivity in Muslim media directed against non Muslims, particularly against Jews and Israel.


Muslims find it most acceptable that they peck others, but others must beware were they to attempt to return the favor. What stands out in great relief in these episodes is that Muslims believe that their extreme violent reaction to Western "pecks" is natural and acceptable, notwithstanding the occasional exception of the Muslim spokesmen who are trotted out before the Western media. In effect, Muslims reserve for themselves the august right to peck, to humiliate and defame those of other religions through political cartoons (or in any other fashion) -- which they do regularly and frequently -- but others have no such right to even point it out publicly, lest others incur the violent reaction from the dominating Muslim chickens.


An illustration of this appeared the other night on the Bill O\'Reilly television show, as the editor of a London Muslim daily decried the recent offending cartoons in the Danish and European press. In passing, this Muslim editor noted how Israel had learned not to perpetrate such cartoons in the Israeli media. The editor had nothing to say about regular Muslim media practice to defame Israel or Jews, as though this is the assumed natural order of things in a pecking order in which Muslim\'s dominate. In Western responses in television and news media, it is difficult not to notice how usual are the submissive tones of these responses. These generally overlook the extreme Muslim violence as though that was of no moment and focus more on Western insensitivity in publishing the alleged offensive cartoons that no one even commented upon when first they appeared. In contrast, Muslims are not called to account for their regular, vitriolic defamations but it is the West that is called upon to back down and to make changes in Western practices of free critical expression against religious institutions. I have viewed these cartoons on the internet and was surprised to note how free these were of the crudity, baseness, and vitriol that characterize Muslim defamatory cartoons. In fact, Muhammed was shown in the Western cartoons with some semblance of dignity.


So when I hear Western media pundits speaking in an exaggerated way about how horrible these cartoons are, I immediately recognize that there is some kowtowing going on here. It becomes an expression of a Western acquiescence in the fact that Muslim values will dominate in the arena of this pecking order, their values that will define the reality here. Those acquiescing in this have submitted to Islam\'s unmentioned "legitimate right" to defame others in their media expressions while at the same time affirming the Muslim right to violently veto Western expressions and practices. It is likely that those who have acquiesed in Islam\'s veto are not even conscious of their submission. They no doubt think of themselves as having been merely civilized and conciliatory. But the overlooking of the violent, intimidating Muslim reaction and their own defamations is telltale. This reveals that what looks like willing Western conciliation is an expression of fear, the outcome of intimidation by the Muslims. So powerful has been the fear evoked that those being conciliatory show themselves as ready to identify with the values of those who threaten.


Without realizing it, they have bent the knee and have actually lost their ability to think independently or in a balanced way about what is happening. This new blindness is a must in order to ward off the fear of the Muslims that lies behind their views. It is distressing to suspect that our political leaders are failing to understand what is at stake. Western societies are being threatened and intimidated by the violent reaction of Muslims. Those on the sidelines have reason to fear since they can see our leaders and spokesmen treading gingerly instead of being forthright about Western unwillingness to be intimidated. This fear must gradually lead to transformations of the psychology of Western populations that make them not only acquiesce to the values of those who threaten but also in accepting these values as their own. It is this internalization that relieves fear.


The implications of this are far reaching for policies in dealing with Muslim societies. It subtley plants the idea that Muslims may peck and it is we who must know our place in this pecking order. This is not a new phenomenon but a technique long adopted by aggressive Islamic societies that have a long tradition of spreading their ways through violence and conquest. In the chicken coop, a change of the pecking order is made only through violent challenge. Similarly, it cannot be expected that a Western challenge to Muslim dominance in this pecking order will be successful without some display of firmness or counterforce. But this counterforce response is necessary against those who rigidly assume the right to impose their ways and becomes mandatory if the West is not to find its people mesmerized and indwardly transformed by powerful, intimidating Muslim forces that change minds and hearts to conform to Muslim perspectives and policies.


The reality is that Muslims are intent on spreading their dominance and will not take no for an answer from those who they can intimidate. We see this in the case of Israel where Muslim societies insist that the price of harmony is to acquiesce in the warping of justice and in the rewriting of history in order to submerge this small nation that dares to affirm its people\'s national rights in their ancestral home that existed long before there was an Islam. We observe here an expression of a true political conflict, an unavoidable clash of civilizations, in which the alleged vital values of one side preclude the values asserted by the other and cannot be compromised. But too many Western leaders appear ignorant and unconscious of the stakes in play in the establishment of these pecking orders, unaware of the dangerous implications for the West that lie over the horizon.


David Basch is a research associate of the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies and the world’s expert on the Jewish origins of William Shakespeare.