A View from the Eye of the Storm: Terror and Reason in the Middle East

A View from the Eye of the Storm: Terror and Reason in the Middle East

by Haim Harari

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061758386
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/13/2009
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 1,199,124
File size: 439 KB

About the Author

Professor Haim Harari, a theoretical physicist, is the chair of the Davidson Institute of Science Education. He was the president of Israel's Weizmann Institute of Science from 1988 to 2001. In his career he has made major contributions to three different fields: particle physics research, science education, and science administration and policy. He lives in Israel.

Read an Excerpt

A View from the Eye of the Storm

Terror and Reason in the Middle East
By Haim Harari

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Haim Harari
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060839112

Chapter One

From Abraham Lincoln To the Internet

The first Internet line outside the United States linked the United States to Italy and Israel. Had it happened 130 years earlier, my great-grandmother could have sent e-mails from Jerusalem to Lincoln and Garibaldi.

My grandmother Sarah (same name as the biblical wife of Abraham) was born in Jerusalem in 1872, when Queen Victoria, Emperor Franz Josef, and Otto von Bismarck were in the news. My great-grandmother Yocheved (same name as the biblical mother of Moses) was also born in Jerusalem. She was eight years old when Abraham Lincoln became president. Her own mother was also born in Jerusalem at a time when California still belonged to Mexico and Garibaldi had not yet liberated Italy.

My four grandchildren, all of whom were born in Israel and live there today, are seventh-generation Israeli born. For seven generations we have lived here, in the eye of the storm. We have survived more wars and terror attacks than any other nation. But now we are informed by the former French ambassador to London that we are "a shitty little country" endangering the world; at the same time, we learn that the rulers of Iran want to replace our "shitty little country" with yet another Shiite country.

My mother, Dina (same name as the biblical daughter of Jacob), was eighty-two years old when Saddam Hussein sent his Scud missiles into the center of Tel Aviv in 1991. She lived in a fourth-floor apartment there, but did not go to a shelter and refused to put on her gas mask. "I survived World War I, the deportation of the Jews of Tel Aviv to Damascus, the first wave of Arab terror [or intifada] in 1921, the second one in 1929, the third in 1936 to 1939, World War II, the War of Independence and the Egyptian bombing of Tel Aviv in 1948, the 1956 Sinai War, the 1967 Six-Day War, the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and all the terror attacks in between," she said. "I am not going to get excited about Saddam."

As a scientist and educator, I travel frequently around the world, lecturing on topics of science, technology, and education, almost always avoiding discussions about the Middle East and the world around us. Why should I concentrate on painful issues when science is so exciting and education so rewarding? If you live in a constantly stormy area and you visit a calm resort, would you want to discuss the weather?

But in my travels I could not avoid detecting an incredible amount of ignorance regarding all matters related to our region of the world. I can understand disputes about opinions and views when the facts are known. I can even accept minor twists in describing facts; history is not an exact science. We also know about Rashomon: Different witnesses to the same event may tell different stories. But I cannot think of any other topic about which so much disinformation has been spread for so many years, by so many people, in so many places. An amazing number of educated and intelligent people have fallen victim to distortions, misconceptions, and pure unadulterated lies. And when you point out some simple undisputed facts, the response is always the same: "How come nobody told me?"

As long as the Cold War was dominating international politics, our own little corner of the world may have been a perennial trouble spot, but no one would even dream of blaming it for every evil under the sun. With the collapse of one superpower and the emerging threat of global terror, the large region from Morocco to Indonesia, or at least from Algeria to Pakistan, has become the principal theater in a very ugly drama. The Israeli-Arab conflict, while continuing to simmer and sometimes boil, is only a minor part of the scene, but that does not prevent many from blaming every piece of bad news, as usual, on Israel and the Jews.

Some people make such claims as a result of old-fashioned or newly crafted anti-Semitic attitudes. But most are the victims of a massive disinformation campaign. In addition to being fed a rich diet of lies, these people observe each new outrageous act of terror from a rather naive, sterile, and civilized point of view. It is noble to turn the other cheek, but not when you are facing someone who wants to kidnap you and cut off your head. To use civilized standards based on legal arguments when judging suicide murders or the use of children as human shields is an equally big mistake. It has been pointed out long ago that idealism increases in direct proportion to the distance from the danger, but the danger is now everywhere.

I have spent many years performing scientific research in the United States and quite a number of years in Europe. My wife is European and my non-Israeli friends are equally divided between Europe and the United States. I have my own list of what I like and dislike about the two sides of the Atlantic. Israel itself has many Middle Eastern features, but it also has strong influences from both Europe and America. In addition to loving my own country, I do love America and I do love Europe. If there were such a thing as a global passport, I would be proud to hold one in addition to my Israeli passport. All of these feelings color my view from the eye of the storm.

There is no reason that you should care about my political views. This book is not at all about them. But I want to live, and I want my children and grandchildren to live. I also want Israel to live, and I want everybody else in the Middle East to live in dignity -- unless they deliberately want to murder me. These wishes do not make me a fanatic, right-wing zealot ...


Excerpted from A View from the Eye of the Storm by Haim Harari Copyright © 2005 by Haim Harari. Excerpted by permission.
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Table of Contents

Foreword: The Scientist and the Taxi Driverxi
Part IThe Raging Storm
1From Abraham Lincoln to the Internet3
2Where Is the Storm?11
3MTA: Master's in Terror Administration17
4The Virgins Are Ready23
5A Ticking Bomb29
6Rewriting International Law33
7The Referee Is Biased39
Part IIThe Hesitant World
8Trouble in Globania47
9Intellectual Property and Intellectual Poverty53
10There Goes the Neighborhood57
11The Non-Arab Crescent65
12Freedom Fries71
13Does the Sun Rise in the East79
14Right Is Wrong87
15Left Behind91
16Ignorance and Apathy97
Part IIIThe Persistent Lies
17The Superficial Village105
18Words Kill113
19Pictures Lie121
20The Truth, but Not the Whole Truth129
21Some Refugees Are More Equal than Others137
22Rewriting History143
23Life Near the End Zone151
24Fooling Most of the People, Most of the Time159
Intermezzo: "They"165
Part IVThe Uncertain Future
25They Mean What They Say169
26Why Don't You Choose Someone Else?175
27Milli-Globania in the Eye of the Storm181
28Collective Suicide185
29Everybody Knows the Solution191
30The Nuclear Stone Age195
31A Correct Diagnosis Is Half a Cure201
32The World According to My Grandmother207

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