Terror aims at the human mind.
The goal is seizing the mind, not territory. Terrorists want to get into our head, while we, to survive, need to get into theirs.
The average citizen does not have time to study Arabic or Farsi, and he or she must rely on the gatekeepers of our minds – our media, our academia and our government/intelligence agencies.
These elites are essentially our public intellectuals. They should be our best and our brightest, the guardians of Western democratic society. Instead they became our worst and our dimmest, purveyors of a politically correct and factually inaccurate ideology of idiocy, a doctrine of willful ignorance.
This is true in the United States, in Europe and in Israel.
Top anti-terror officials in the Obama administration give speeches at NYU or Georgetown describing the beauty of Islam and speaking of jihad as a spiritual journey. The New York Times wins prizes for disclosing the most sensitive counter-terror surveillance programs, a program to monitor phone communication and a program to monitor money transfers.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press launches a real jihad, a holy war, against the New York City Police for being too watchful of the same Muslim community that spawned the NY attacks of 1993 and 2001.
These same institutions did not launch serious investigations of the mosques in Brooklyn, Queens and Jersey City after the World trade Center attack of 1993 or the attack of 2001.
Nor have they probed the way Islamic terrorists are manufactured inside prison systems in America, Britain and Israel.
Inside Israel, many of our elites automatically support protests by Palestinian security prisoners inside Israeli jails, and they also protest when Israeli officials try to stem the tide of illegal immigration by thousands of Sudanese and others who swamp our borders.
Our media, many in academia and even officials in government prefer to claim they see a plague of what they call Islamophobia – an unreasoning fear of Islam, and a rise in hate crimes against Muslims. This is not true.
Actually, the terror attacks in France this week, and the earlier Iranian attacks in Thailand, India and Kazakhstan show increased attacks on Jews.
There is no wave of hate crimes against Muslims in America, in Europe or in Israel, and there is no phobia of Islam, no Islamophobia.
Actually, our elites exhibit Islamophilia – a reflexive love or protection of anything Islamic. I discuss the intellectual basis for these trends in my book – Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat. Here are some highlights of the intellectual perversion that infected our elites for the past two generations, causing America to be unready for 9/11 and Israel to be unable to admit the mistakes of the Oslo Process of 1993: Prof. Edward Said redefined Middle East studies for Western universities, but he knew almost no Arabic, and he used no Arabic sources in his work. Yet, Said became the gold standard for Middle East studies in the United States, and he was consulted on hiring decisions in this field, though he was himself a professor of English.
Edward Said became a virtual patron saint for MESA, the Middle East Studies Association. On September 11,2002, MESA presented its first annual Edward Said Award, on the first anniversary of 9/11. Said campaigned against anyone who said Ayatollah Khomeini was an extremist, and he lampooned and harpooned anyone who said Saddam Hussein was a vicious tyrant. Said's views, not those of Bernard Lewis, were published in the New York Times.
Said's popular teachings promoted the careers of Said "wannabes" like John Esposito at Georgetown, and Fred Halliday at the London School of Economics who spoke of the "myth" of Arab-Islamic terror before 9/11, while focusing, after 9/11, on the supposed persecution of Muslims rather than on growing Islamic terror.
Then there's Michael Scheuer, the CIA's "hunter" of Osama bin Laden, who never served as a field agent knew no Arabic, and misidentified Islamic holy sites. Scheuer admired bin Laden, blamed the US and Israel for vexing him, and called American Jews a dangerous minority that threatened America's interests.
Scheuer even says that they have to be destroyed.
Paul Pillar, a top CIA Middle East analyst, showed a colossal off-base percentage for his predictions over a decade: claiming before 9/11 the US was not threatened by terror, then, that Iran was not seeking an atom bomb, and that the US should reach out to Iran and Syria, despite their terror roles and their bloody, repressive regimes.
Like Scheuer and Pillar, CIA director George Tenet never was a field agent, and he promoted their writings and their careers even as he censored talented field agents who said the CIA had become "too political" and was unprepared for terror.
CNN's Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Peter Arnett, producer Robert Wiener and news director Eason Jordan played ball with Saddam Hussein's government, ignoring some of his worst atrocities; CNN's Wiener removed all the Jewish mezuzahs from the doorways of CNN's rented offices in Jerusalem.
Tom Friedman, who got a Pulitzer Prize for directly blaming Israel and its ally, Sa'ad Haddad, for the Sabra-Shatila massacre of 1982, passed up countervailing evidence, including his own face-to-face interview with Sa'ad Haddad.
To battle terror efficiently, citizens must re-establish a cadre of Middle East specialists who are experts in history and language rather than politically correct nostrums that lead only to wishful thinking and strategic surprise.