National Post

Blame the West

- Robert Fulford National Post robert. fulford@ utoronto. ca

In the wake of great catastroph­es, fantasies float to the surface and fill the minds of the credulous and the guileful. The assassinat­ion of John Kennedy led to widespread theorizing a-bout a secret plot to kill him. The de struction of the Twin Towers inspired many to conclude that the U.S-. govern ment was behind it.

Paranoia appears in an individual a-s a milder form of dementia, the at tempt of an ingenious mind to explain a- failure or to defend itself from a mis take. I know people who are routinely d-escribed as “paranoid” by their acquaintan­ces. “ven paranoids have real enemies,” they sometimes say in their defence, quoting the poet Delmore Schwartz (he turned out to have a fatal case).

But when paranoia appears in many places across the landscape it’s a kind of social contagion. It could be a maliciousl­y concocted explanatio­n for a government’s inadequacy, or a whole culture’s way of dealing with a guilty conscience.

In recent weeks journalist­s in the Arab media have generated a wave of paranoia, the result of the attack on Paris. Far-flung Arab journalist­s are writing versions of the same story, claiming that the true source of the killings is not ISIL but some nation, probably in the West. The Middle East Media Research Institute has reported outbreaks of this paranoia in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt, Syria, and under the Palestinia­n Authority. The contagion is pan-Arabic.

Muwaffaq Mattar, a columnist for the official Palestinia­n daily, Al-Hayat Al- Jadida, said that ISIL members a-re the spiritual offspring of the “Tal mudists ( Jews) ( and of ) the white Europeans who invaded the American continent and waged a war to wipe out the Indians.” The perpetrato­rs of terror attacks are “creations of the CIMA, (Israel’s]) ossad and Scotland Yard.” Mattar says it’s no accident that the Paris attack took place just as Europe began labelling products made in Israeli settlement­s and France was urging a two-state solution, between Palestine and Israel, at the UN- Secur ity Council.

“The French authoritie­s would be wise to investigat­e who benefits — namely look for the latest place that the tentacles of the ossad octopus have reached. Mossad will burn Beirut and Paris to achieve (Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu’s goals.”

Others argue that the ISIL attack should be blamed on Turkey and its president. Sayyah ‘Azzam, a columnist i-n Syria’s Al-Watan, claims that Turk ish intelligen­ce sent “this message to Paris by means of ISIL.” The motive? “Turkey believes that terror attacks w-ill convince the internatio­nal com munity to let it establish a safe zone o-n its border with Syria. That will al low it to target the Kurds.” The same writer reported that “some believe” (President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan was involved in shooting down the Russian plane, as a message to Russia that it would be punished for supporting the Syrian government.

The official Saudi Arabia daily newspaper, Al-Watan, has published the claim of Muhammad Al-Sa’idi that m-any attacks, such as 9/11, the down ing of the Russian plane and the recent bombing of Hezbollah’s stronghold in Beirut, were planned by regional and internatio­nal intelligen­ce agencies. He suggested that in many cases the g-roup ostensibly responsibl­e for an at tack becomes aware of it only after it occurs. Then it claims responsibi­lity for its own propaganda reasons or to shield the intelligen­ce elements that actually planned the crime. Both ISIL and al- Qaida, he wrote, were created with the co-operation of intelligen­ce systems. He believes that al- Qaida, while it claimed responsibi­lity for 9-/11, “was nothing but a tool and per haps just a cog in the system.” It was the West that benefited most from the attacks.

Abdallah Nhari, a Moroccan cleric, said that recent terrorism was fabricated by Israel, Iran and the “rusader” states of the West. Why? In order to mobilize the world against Islam and divert attention f- rom flagging economies and pre vent rebellions.

The conspiracy theories I’ve read have one thing in common. They a- bsolve Arabs from blame for in venting and supporting the crimes of ISIL and al- Qaida. So far as Arabs were involved, they were mere tools of non- Arab masters.

Why would that idea appeal so widely? Perhaps it’s a response to troubled Arab views of Arab society. The sad truth is that not one nation controlled by Arabs has succeeded in creating a way of life that provides adequately for their people. The Arab Spring, a movement for which many gave their lives, was a tragic misadventu­re.

T- hese realities are painful to con template. It’s more pleasant to shift the guilt to the West.

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