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Public Diplomacy in the Fight against Radical Islam:
Strategy, Style and Substance

"All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing".
Edmund Burke

 ArrowIntroduction – Defining the Threat

The following – somewhat unflattering - assessment of the nature of Islam (or "Mohammedanism" as it was called then) was made by Winston Churchill over hundred years ago in the first edition of his book The River War:

How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities – but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science, the science against which it had vainly struggled, the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.

Sir Winston Churchill, from The River War, first edition,
Vol. II, ( London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1899, pages 248-50

Some of the elements of this excerpt will serve as the basis for the rest of this essay. The first of these features is the interesting and - in the context of the discussion on public diplomacy - highly significant fact that this portion has been deleted from later editions! One can only surmise that "political correctness" cannot be discounted as the reason for this deletion.

Why is diplomacy – and particularly public diplomacy – an essential tool in the conflict against radical Islam? Of course many are familiar with the assertion of the well-known military strategist, Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831), that war should be considered a continuation of politics through other means(1). However, today there those, like the prominent political strategist, David Horowitz, who believe – with good reason – that this relationship has been reversed and that “[p]olitics is war conducted by other means.(2)” Significantly for the purpose of this work, Horowitz went on to add:

In political warfare you do not fight just to prevail in an argument, but rather to destroy the enemy's fighting ability.(3) Ibid.

And in indeed it would appear that war it is. The following statement by EfraimHalevy, former head of Israel 's Mossad and National Security Council, aptly conveys a widely felt sentiment:

The 11th of September was, if you will, an official and biting declaration of World War III.(4)

Several years later, he remarked:

We are in the middle of World War Three, and I see no end to it.(5)

This assessment by Halevy is reflected in a rather brusque characterization of the situation by a well-known authority in Islamic studies:

The war has started … between two civilizations - between the civilization based on the Bible and between the civilization based on the Koran.(6)

If this formulation seems a little abrasive for some, this is how Bernard Lewis, arguably today's most prominent scholar of Islam, chose to convey his perception of affairs:

We are facing a need and a movement far transcending the level of issues and policies and the governments that pursue them. This is no less than a clash of civilizations – the perhaps irrational but surely historic reaction of an ancient rival against our Judeo-Christian heritage, our secular present, and the worldwide expansion of both.(7)

This is a view not overly divergent from that of M. J. Akbar, an Indian Muslim writer of international repute, who commented that the...

[The West's] next confrontation is definitely going to come from the Muslim world. It is in the sweep of the Islamic nations from the Maghreb to Pakistan that the struggle for a new world order will begin.(8)

Conveying this sense of emerging confrontation between these two opposing world-views to the wider public in the West is of crucial importance to its outcome. Indeed, public opinion has long been recognized as a force that shapes/inhibits/impacts the conduct of national security policy. It was over a quarter of a century ago that Henry Kissinger pointed to the constraining effects public opinion can have on the use of military power. In a speech before the International Institute for Strategic Studies, London , June 25, 1976 – and significantly cited as the introduction to an article entitled “The Military Implications of Public Opinion”(9) – Kissinger chose to designate the restrictions on the executive authority in Western nations due – directly or indirectly – to public opinion in the following manner: the deepest security problem we face [sic]

This view is echoed in a far more recent essay published in TheNational Interest, by David Rivkin in 2003. In it he makes the following observation:

European public opinion makes it impossible for most European leaders to pursue a muscular foreign policy, backed up by the threat to use force… [P]ublic opinion in democracies invariably opposes the use of force, especially when presented with a somewhat ambiguous or inconclusive threat. This problem has become particularly acute in the post-Cold War era, with domestic politics playing an ever greater role in the development of foreign and defense policies.(10)

It follows therefore, that the challenge for the architect of a prospective strategic diplomatic offensive is how to make the threat less unambiguous and inconclusive and to transform it into something tangible, comprehensible and immediate.

ArrowPublic Diplomacy: Its Nature, Role and Impact

This brings us to the subject of public diplomacy and its role in confronting the advance of radical Islam. What is "public diplomacy"? Brian Rosen and Charles Wolf give the following characterization of the term in a recent Policy Review essay

The term “public diplomacy” … can perhaps best be understood by contrasting its principal characteristics with those of “official diplomacy.” First, public diplomacy is transparent and widely disseminated, whereas official diplomacy is (apart from occasional leaks) opaque and its dissemination narrowly confined. Second, public diplomacy is transmitted by governments to wider, or in some cases selected, “publics” (for example, those in the Middle East or in the Muslim world), whereas official diplomacy is transmitted by governments to other governments. Third, the themes and issues with which official diplomacy is concerned relate to the behavior and policies of governments, whereas the themes and issues with which public diplomacy is concerned relate to the attitudes and behaviors of publics.(11)

The major criticism that I have of this otherwise adequate description is its apparent limitation of the transmission of public diplomacy by governments. This is an unnecessary and inappropriate restriction on the realm of public diplomacy, especially in light of developments in recent years.

As Walter R. Roberts, a member of the US Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, pointed out in an address entitled "Public Diplomacy: Rethinking an Old Concept", at Department of State Senior Seminar, in January 1997:

The spread of democracy means officials are increasingly responsible to the electorate. Public opinion counts… The support… diplomats gain for … foreign policies in government ministries won't count for much if people in the streets are demonstrating against such policies.
Non-governmental organizations are proliferating and their influence is growing…Foreign Affairs carries an article entitled "The Age of Nonstate Actors" by Jessica Matthews. She notes the trend of NGOs to supplant services once considered the exclusive realm of government. (12)

Roberts went on to given an instructive, and somewhat amusing, account of the power and efficacy of astute public diplomacy:

Austria … undertook after the Second World War a sophisticated campaign to minimize the then-prevalent impression in the allied world that the Austrians, having welcomed Hitler in 1938, had participated actively in fighting the allies, and had played a significant role in the persecution of Jews.Through cultural attractions – the Vienna Opera, Vienna Boys Choir, Lippizaner horses – Austria was eminently successful in changing that overall impression… which … made the world believe that Hitler was a German and Beethoven an Austrian. (13)

And the question which we must now ask is: Is Islam achieving a similar kind of success in its image enhancement?

Just how successful Islam has been in making inroads into public opinion in the West and in inducing a disturbing retreat from its fundamental liberal values can be gauged by a recent article by Barry Rubin in The New York Post, in which he discusses the initiative in British schools to remove the study of the Holocaust from their curriculum. No less disconcerting than the proposed action itself were the reasons provided for its justification. As Rubin puts it:

The really scary sentence is this: "Some teachers are reluctant to cover the atrocity for fear of upsetting students whose beliefs include Holocaust denial ." … These kids are told at home or by Muslim preachers that the Holocaust never happened – teachers aren't challenging that misinformation, they're shutting up so as not to disturb a world view based on lies. ... (14)

And the Holocaust was not the only subject to be axed for fear of offending Muslim sensibilities:

By the same token, schools are dropping lessons on the Crusades. And not even for the poor excuse that such teaching might stir social conflict, but rather because "lessons often contradict what is taught in local mosques." (15)

This brings Rubin to the following lamentable observation:

This new approach also condemns Muslims to be slaves of the radical Islamists among them. Rather than challenge extremism, the schools would reinforce it. They would tell students hungry for knowledge and freedom to shut up and believe what their mullahs say… I'll note one final horrifying element of all this – - perhaps the worst of all: the passivity with which Europeans are excusing or ignoring this revolution against their most basic and precious freedoms. (16)

Nor is this disconcerting process restricted to the insular confines of Britain:

…in France , the rot has gone even further. Thus, British and French educators are ready to abandon 500 years of progress owing to open intellectual inquiry through the use of logic. The schools won't confront or challenge students but rather will leave them safe in their prejudices. (17)

All this underscores the following far-reaching paradox:

Aside from the broader implications, such behavior constitutes a reinforcement of racism, intolerance and hatred in the name of a philosophy - political correctness that is supposed to combat these things.. (18)

Indeed, it would appear that Islamist mastery of the manipulation of political correctness has brought considerable achievements. As Ehrenfeld and Lappen point out, mainstream media seem to have been seduced into pleading the case of organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood and portraying them as "moderate".(19)

To illustrate their point they note that The Boston Globe carried an Op-Ed piece with an appeal to "Hear out Muslim Brotherhood"(20) while Foreign Affairs published an article entitled "The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood",(21) which advocates that "strategic conversation" between Washington and the organization would make "strong… sense".(22) Ehrenfeld and Lappen note that – even after the Hamas electoral victory in the Palestinian territories – major media vehicles such as The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, in their harsh criticism of the Mubarak government's clampdown on the Brotherhood in Egypt, seem to be oblivious of the real menace the organization poses to Western interests and values.(23)

This then, would this appear an apt juncture to recall Winston Churchill' s ominous warning as to the vulnerability of the Western civilizational system:

… and were it not that [it] is sheltered in the strong arms of science… the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome.

Indeed, the growing prevalence of the tendency, diagnosed by Rubin above, to subordinate factual correctness to political correctness; to suppress empirical truth in order to preserve political norms, in a sense undermines the very foundations that underpin Western (in the broader sense of "Western") society. These foundations are based on acknowledging factual truth, however unpalatable; and it this foundation of factual accuracy that yields rationality; rationality that yields science; science that yields technology, technology that yields modernity, progress … and national power. Distorting or concealing facts to accommodate political fantasy can only disrupt and degrade the internal logic of this causal sequence.

ArrowPublic Diplomacy and the Notion of Branding

This line of thought brings us to the issue of "branding" in general and "national branding" in particular - and their interfacing with the realm of public diplomacy. Clearly this is not the appropriate framework for an exhaustively detailed discussion of these topics. Accordingly we will restrict ourselves to a few brief illustrative remarks.

In its 2004 Autumn Newsletter, The Clingendael ( Netherlands Institute of International Relations)published an article by Jan Melissen entitled "Public Diplomacy: Engaging Foreign Societies", which referred to the "rise of public diplomacy" and its becoming the "the preferred practice of international relations".(24) It went on to point out that:

Engaging with foreign societies not only requires a different mindset, but it also requires techniques sometimes borrowed from the corporate sector … The one-way information culture of foreign ministries is in the process of making way for public diplomacy, which is fundamentally a two-way communication process with foreign societies. Perhaps to their own surprise, the CEOs of today's diplomatic services now see the importance of looking at strategic issues intended to help manage the reputations of their country. Some of them even aspire to a true 'national brand'. (25)

Indeed, as an indication of the centrality and currency of these notions in the discourse today, it is interesting to note that a Google search of "Public diplomacy" + "national" + "branding" will yield about 100,000 hits.

A popular reference website provides the following definition of branding:

A brand is a symbolic embodiment of all the information connected to the product and serves to create associations and expectations around it.(26)

Of course in the case of commercial enterprises, branding is typically "positive branding" designed to create a favorable image of the product or service one wishes to market. The same is true in the political arena, where the branding efforts are aimed at generating appealing perceptions of the "branded" candidate, party, institution or organization. However, unlike in the business world, in the political sphere "negative branding", designed to undermine rival or adversarial entities, is far more common. Indeed, the kind of diatribes hurled at political competitors would probably result in libel claims being filed. For while it is unlikely that one would hear Pepsi-Cola publicly accusing the manufacturers of Coca-Cola of purposefully using noxious ingredients in the preparation of their beverages, or Avis condemning Hertz for intentionally providing faulty vehicles to their customers, berating political adversaries with charges of moral shortcomings and criminal transgressions is not uncommon.

In large measure Western – particularly US – public diplomacy efforts have been criticized as not projecting appealing enough messages to Islamic societies, i.e. for poor performance in "positive branding". But on reflection these claims seem a little facile. For it is difficult to conceive of how the US could possible preserve – let alone promote – its own core values without precipitating a clash with what are perceived as core values of Islam, whether these are "distortions" of the original Islamic religious scriptures or not. How can the libertarian West in general, and the US in particular avoid juxtaposing its moral beliefs and behavioral norms to those in Muslim society? How could it avoid such juxtaposition resulting in unflattering comparisons being made with Islam, without denigrating its own system of values, beliefs and social norms? Thus it is unlikely that the US could project an appealing image in the Islamic world without becoming something that would negate its existential raison d'etre.

It would thus appear that there is little alternative to adopting an adversarial posture in the design of a strategic public diplomacy initiative, whose major aim would not to be to curry favor in the Muslim societies but (to use Rivkin's implied prescription - see above) "to make the threat less unambiguous and inconclusive and to transform it into something tangible, comprehensible and immediate" and to help facilitate the ability to “…pursue a muscular foreign policy, backed up by the threat to use force…”(27)

The following flow diagram shows the functional links between the nongovernmental agents/instigators of public diplomacy and the influence on policy in general and the use of military power in particular.


ArrowThe Branding of Islam and the Design of Diplomatic Strategic Offensive

If "branding" is, as previously defined, "a symbolic embodiment of all the information connected to an entity to create associations and expectations around it", then "negative branding" would clearly be a symbolic embodiment of the information designed to generate negative associations and expectations regarding the relevant entity.

This is the conceptual context that should be borne in mind in the effort to fashion a public diplomacy offensive that is designed "to make the threat of radical Islam less unambiguous and inconclusive and to transform it into something tangible, comprehensible and immediate" and to help facilitate the ability to “…pursue a muscular foreign policy, backed up by the threat to use force…”(29) For the failure to do so - as observed by Henry Kissinger – may result in "the deepest security problem we face .(30)

In devising such a strategic diplomatic offensive to contend with the threat of radical Islam the following basic elements ought to be incorporated:

  • Identification of weaknesses of the adversary
  • Focus on internal cleavages of the adversary
  • Alienation of the adversary from sources of support
  • Identification of allies

In implementing these prescribed elements, it is useful to underscore a point of far- reaching impact, which although often intuitively sensed, is far less frequently articulated explicitly:

There are two large segments of humanity which will be dramatically – even devastatingly – affected by the spread of Islamism. These are (a) all the women of the world and (b) all those who are adherents to non-Muslim faiths – but particularly the Evangelical Christians.

Women are clearly the group most likely to be drastically and adversely affected by the propagation of Islamist values. Thus focusing on the issue of the plight of women in societies where Islamist values dominate, will help to raise public awareness to the grave menace such doctrine entails for half of humanity.

In addition to this rampant gender apartheid that prevails throughout most Muslim society, there is an additional variant of pernicious and pervasive persecution – on the basis of faith and creed. This discrimination against nearly all non-Muslim faiths is nothing less than what can – and must – be termed creed apartheid.

It is, however, a practice that arguably is most severely aimed against Evangelical Christians and Christianity. This group is perhaps the only sector of humanity with the necessary spiritual energies,numerical mass and moral resolve toconfront and contain the unabated onset of radical Islamism across the globe. Indeed, this may be why Christians and Christianity are under savage assault throughout much of the Muslim world, where religious repression is the rule rather than the exception; and in many countries, conversion to Christianity is a punishable offence that carries heavy penalties – including lengthy imprisonment and, in some cases even death.

ArrowThe Branding of Islam: Gender Apartheid and Creed Apartheid

These two issues –gender and creed apartheid – are potentially potent political weapons. Since they transcend conventional political divisions, they can be used to harness considerable public support regardless of party affiliation. In fact they provide a rare opportunity where both religious conservative and secular liberal forces can combine efforts in promoting an issue which, for differing reasons, coincides with their opposing world views.

(a) Gender Apartheid

Gender apartheid is a topic that invokes very vividly emotive imagery. Again I take recourse to Churchill, who over 100 years ago, identified the attitude of Islam to women as one of its most insidious traits:

The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property, either as a child, a wife, or a concubine, must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.

An assault on radical Islam via its treatment of women would not be a mere exercise in emotive rhetoric and demagogic propaganda. To the contrary, it can draw on sources such as reputable investigative journalism, solid academic research and the endorsement in public pronouncements of prominent personalities – including male Muslims themselves.

Utilizing the notion of the advancement of women as a strategic initiative against Islamist regimes worldwould:

  • underscore the scourge of gender apartheid, which in many ways is the "soft under-belly" of Islamist society, in terms of public opinion in Western society.
  • focus efforts along the lines of cleavage in Islamist society – which are largely gender-delineated;
  • Use the criteria of political correctness against those who hide behind them.

The following transcript of an address delivered at the American Enterprise Institute byWafa Sultan provides a grim illustration of the status of women in Muslim society and the value accorded them. In it she quotes the chilling account by a Palestinian mother of how she brutally murdered her own daughter in a most excruciating manner, after she had been raped by her older brothers.

“Tonight you die, Rofayda,” she told the girl before wrapping the bag tightly around her head. Next Suad sliced Rofayda’s wrist, ignoring her muffled plea, “No, mother, no.” After her [indiscernible] went limp, Suad struck her in the head with a stick. The killing of her sixth-born child took 20 minutes, Suad tells a visitor through a stream of tears. “She killed me before I killed her,” said the 43-year-old mother of nine. (30)

Perhaps most disturbing element in this tragic episode was the mother’s explanation of her horrendous actions and her statement that:

I had to protect my [other] children. That is the only way to protect my family’s honor.”

This abhorrent incident is neither anomalous nor isolated. It is representative of a far wider malaise. For example, in its July 6-12, 2002 issue, The Economist published a survey of the state of development in the Arab world, under the gloomy title “Self-doomed to failure.” Significantly the survey was based on a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) report compiled by Arab researchers who were very critical of the prevailing state of affairs in nearly all the Arab countries.

According to the authors, the barrier to better Arab performance is not a lack of resources but the lamentable shortage of three essentials: freedom; knowledge; and significantly for the purposes of this work –womanpower.

In the words of The Economist:

The one thing that every outsider knows about the Arab world is that it does not treat its women as full citizens. The report sees this as an awful waste: how can a society prosper when it stifles half its productive potential? After all, even though women's literacy rates have trebled in the past 30 years, one in every two Arab women still can neither read nor write.

Their participation in their countries' political and economic life is the lowest in the world …Governments and societies (and sometimes, as in Kuwait , societies and parliamentarians are more backward than their governments) vary in the degrees of bad treatment they mete out to women. But in nearly all Arab countries, women suffer from unequal citizenship and legal entitlements.

The UNDP has a “gender-empowerment measure” which shows the Arabs near the bottom. But the UN was able to measure only 14 of the 22 Arab states, since the necessary data were not available in the others. This, as the report says, speaks for itself, reflecting the general lack of concern in the region for women's desire to be allowed to get on. [See Fig 2. below]


Fig. 2 (32).

This is an issue which is beginning to resonate with concerned moderate Muslims – including males. The following is an excerpt from a piece entitled "The Arab Man is the Problem, The [Arab] Woman Is the Solution," by Salman Masalha, Israeli Arab author and poet:

The Developed Peoples are Those Whose Women have High Status in Society… The Arab Man's Insistence Upon Controlling the Destiny and Body Of the Woman is an Attempt to Cling to Honor He Does Not Have

The roots of Arab Islamic backwardness are to be found… in this view of the woman. … if we want to look for solutions, the Arab woman is the solution. The first step must be to eradicate the illiteracy that is so widespread among them …

When the mother is educated and self-confident, and is an active and productive member of society, she can raise a generation that in its turn will also be educated, confident, and productive...If she is not, what can she give her children besides love? Nothing. We must recognize that motherly love alone is not enough to push society forward…

In order to escape the dead end in which Arab and Islamic society [are now situated], there is a need to reconstruct these societies … it must be based on legislating full and absolute equality between men and women, in all areas of social, political, and economic life…the individual, and particularly the woman, must be placed at the center of Arab life, because ultimately she and only she is the solution. (33)

The theme expressed above by journalists and public figures is also reflected in recent academic works. In his analysis of Gender Relations in Islam, Prof. Arye Hillman writes

When social mobility is low, gender relations provide alternative benefits for males through polygamy and the extended family. Within the extended family, reluctance to permit participation of women in the labor market limits economic growth … If women were to work in a market economy, family income would increase. Per capita family income would also increase through incentives regarding fertility. Income earned by women in labor markets could compromise male dominance. If, also, girls are not destined for market income activity, there are disincentives for educating girls. Literate mothers, on the other hand, promote literacy in children and increase children’s future productiveness.A rent-seeking interpretation is that women are denied economic opportunity so that relations of gender dominance not be compromised. There are personal winners and losers in the gender-relation outcome. The social costs are expressed in reduced incomes and low economic growth. (34)

In the light of all this, we should seriously entertain the concept of “Weaponizing Women”, that is the idea of utilizing the oppression of women – orgender apartheid – in the Muslim world, as a diplomatic and political weapon in the struggle against Islamist tyranny. Indeed, the plight of women in Muslim society could, and should, be a central element in devising a strategic offensive initiative against Islamism that would be:

  • effective
  • defensible
  • sustainable

Such a strategy is likely to be effective because it would be difficult to imagine any other measure which would cut the ground from under the pillars of radical Muslim society more effectively than a dramatic upgrading of the status of women. For experience shows that advancement of women produces effects that run strongly counter to the factors which nourish fundamentalist extremism such as:

  • higher levels of education
  • increased income per capita
  • reduced size of families
An Islamic world, in which the status of women approached that of women in the West, would constitute an entirely different and probably less implacably hostile adversary than it does at present. Indeed it is difficult to dispute Bernard Lewis's observation that:

In the West, women’s relative freedom has been a major reason for the advance of the greater society; women would certainly be an important, indeed essential, part of a democratic future in the Middle East. (35)

Moreover, given the centrality of male dominance in Islamic society, there would appear to be few methods more effective in removing potentially moderate Muslim countries from the clutches of extremism than by enhancing the status of women, upgrading their levels of education, broadening their employment and career opportunities, raising the legal age for marriage and so on. For these would all be measures that severely hamper the spread of radicalism in societies in which they were implemented.

Such a strategy would be defensible because it underscores that the onus for the lamentable state of most of the Islamic world must be laid on Islamic society itself. For as The Economist points out, "how can a society prosper when it stifles half its productive potential?"(36) It would be a campaign that would force the Islamic world to acknowledge that lack of economic progress is not something that can be blamed on the malice and iniquities of the West, but is an inevitable consequence when half the population is kept in state of unproductive suppression.

It would be sustainable because it conforms entirely to the dictates of political correctness and thus would be largely immune from criticism of "PC" adherents who commonly tend to oppose any assertive offensive initiatives against sources of external threat. Moreover, since it will not involve combat casualties, it could be conducted without the attrition of the “body bag” effect to impede its execution.

Accordingly, it is difficult to conceive of any other “offensive strategy” which, on the one hand, would more effectively erode the foundations of fundamentalist fanaticism and induce a positive, moderating transformation in Islamic society; and on the other hand, would conform entirely to the moral tenets of liberal democracy. These ingredients clearly provide democratic governments with a rare opportunity to mount - and maintain - a sustained campaign over time.

Thus a strong claim can be made that Western nations have a definite interest in undertaking a vigorous and assertive long-term campaign, designed to foment demands for women's emancipation in Muslim societies, to exert pressure for upgrading their status and for acquiring civil rights currently denied them.

Undoubtedly this will entail a huge effort in terms of funding, planning and execution of PR initiatives, propaganda offensives and psychological warfare stratagems. It is an enterprise that would involve measures such as:

  • massive financing of movements advocating women's rights in Muslim countries (perhaps even arming them to fend off attacks, which may not be long in coming);
  • continuously pounding public opinion within the Islamic world with themes stressing the need for, and the merits of, upgrading the status of Muslim women by means of media channels similar that operated during the Cold War; such as a 21 st-century "Channel Free Lady" version modeled along the lines of "Radio Free Europe";
  • imposing punitive measures against countries which flagrantly violate women's rights – such as curtailing diplomatic privileges of the representatives of such nations.

 These proposals constitute a strategic initiative with little "downside" risk.

On the one hand, should they prove successful and the status of women is indeed enhanced in the Muslim world, there can be little doubt that the result would be a dramatic and positive transformation of Islamic societies.(37) For there is scarcely any measure that would distance Muslim communities more effectively from fundamentalist influence in which male dominance is such a central pillar, than the advancement of women.

On the other hand, if they are met with vigorous opposition by those dedicated to the preservation of male dominance, they are likely to generate tremendous internal turmoil in such societies, which would be compelled to divert significant resources to contend with, contain and curtail the consequences of the initiative, thus reducing their capabilities to assail other external objectives. One can only imagine what effect could have been generated had the US devoted a fraction of the hundreds of billions of dollars it spent/spends on the war in Iraq, to mobilizing the proposed measures and methods to advance the Muslim woman as suggested.

(a) Creed Apartheid

If up to now we focused on the chains that bind women in Islamic society, we now turn our attention to the chains that bind the adherents of other creeds and the grim determination, widely manifested in the realm of Islam, to repress not only the practice, but any discernible trace, of other forms of faith.

As in the case of gender apartheid, the iniquities of creed apartheid in the Muslim world conjure up similarly powerful emotive images. Arguably the most prominent tragedy currently in the news is unfolding in Sudan where two bloody internecine conflicts – in Southern Sudan and in Darfur – have left millions dead and even more displaced.

In the south, where the fighting was predominantly a Muslim vs. non-Muslim (mainly Christian) conflict, reports indicate the death toll has reached two million and about double that number have been forced to flee. According to some sources, the toll of civilian dead is the highest since World War II.(38) Although a peace accord was signed in early 2005, the immense devastation and suffering left behind by the war still remains. This, according to informed sources, has resulted in the Christians being subjected to renewed and insidious pressure, with humanitarian aid, employment and schooling, (all funded by external Muslim sources of funds such as Saudi Arabia), being made contingent on conversion to Islam. According to Baroness Caroline Cox, formerly deputy Speaker of the British House of Lords , who has spent much time on humanitarian missions to the area, this has created a situation in which the Christians are in danger of losing, in the post-war conditions, all they managed to defend in their long and bloody armed resistance against the forces of Islam.(39)

In the more recent violence in the Darfur area, the conflict is one of Arab vs non-Arab with the reported death toll near 500,000 and the number of refugees reaching two million.

So whichever way one might wish to cut the events of the last quarter century in Sudan, they represent an ethno-religious massacre of monumental scale perpetrated by Muslims against adherents of other faiths and even against adherents of their own faith not considered to be Muslim enough. This carnage unequivocally reflects the intolerance and repression that Islam displays in practice – whatever interpretation may be given by its apologists to the Koran and other Islamic scriptures.

This same repressive intolerance is manifested in further aspects of the attitude of Islam to other beliefs – and although they are less dramatic in terms of scale and human suffering - they are indicative of the discriminatory attitude Islamic society often displays to those of non-Muslim religions. For example, a recent Daily Telegraph article carried a story on a BMI (British Midland) air hostess, a committed Christian, who was refused permission by the company to take her Bible with her on flights to Saudi Arabia because prohibitions enforced in the kingdom.(40) But perhaps more disturbing than the actual action of BMI in preventing the air hostess from keeping her Bible with her, was the argument it provided to justify its action – which regrettably won the apparent backing of the British Foreign Office as well. In defending the action, a spokesman from the airline said, "On its web site the Foreign Office says of Saudi Arabia: "The importation and use of narcotics, alcohol, pork products and religious books, apart from the Koran, and artefacts are forbidden." The docile acquiescence with which the company – and apparently the UK government – is prepared to accept this official Saudi position is scandalous, for it can only be interpreted as a meek acceptance of the fact that the Saudis relate with equal repugnance to the Holy Scriptures of other faiths as they do to other items abhorrent to Islam such as …pork, drugs and alcohol.

The same contemptuous arrogance towards Christians and Christianity is reflected in a speech delivered by Saudi Defense Minister Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz. Referring to religious freedom because of local concern that US troops had built churches in Saudi Arabia, he addressed Christians as follows:

"Do whatever you want, you and your family in your home, worship whatever you want, but there has not been, or will be a church [in the kingdom]." (41)

The fate of Christians under Palestinian administration has not been reassuring either. According to CAMERA ( Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America), the Christian population declined 29 percent in the West Bank and 20 percent in the Gaza Strip from 1997 to 2002. (Interestingly enough, in the period 1995–2003, Israel’s Arab Christian population grew 14.1 percent.)(42)

Indeed, under the Palestinian regime, Christians also have to face policies of discrimination and intimidation, which are reducing the Christian population at an alarming rate and obliterating signs and symbols of Judeo-Christian heritage in the Holy Land . Documented research on the persecution of Christians by the Palestinian Authority includes social and economic discrimination; boycott and extortion of Christian businesses; violations of real property rights; crimes against Christian women; incitement by Palestinian Authority against Christians; and failure of the Palestinian security forces to protect Christians.

One of the places most affected is the birthplace of Christ, Bethlehem . Although for decades they constituted the majority, today Christians currently make up only 30,000 of the district's 130,000 residents. Numerous accounts point to a purposeful Palestinian effort to undermine – even eradicate – the Christian character of Bethlehem in favor of an overwhelming Muslim dominance. Complaints include cases of the defacing Christian property, appropriating lands of the Greek Orthodox Church in Bethlehem and building mosques on formerly Christian land.(43)

The following are some data relating to the deteriorating situation of the Christians in Bethlehem under the initial years under the administration of the Palestinian Authority:(44)

  • The Christian population was reduced from a 60% majority in 1990 to a 20% minority in 2001.
  • Between 1000-2000 Christians fled Bethlehem between October 2000 and November 2001 alone.
  • Before 1995, Bethlehem had a majority-Christian municipal council. After the Palestinian Authority takeover, Arafat replaced the municipal council with a predominately Muslim council. Today Christians have virtually no political power in Bethlehem.
  • About half of the Christians in Beit Sahour (adjacent to Jerusalem) were considering emigration in 2001.
  • Polls showed that almost half of Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem expressed growing fears of tensions between Christians and Muslims.
  • Mosques in Bethlehem numbered five in 1970 and seventy-two in 1997. (45)
The dire predicament of Bethlehem's Christians is not a feature which has only recently arisen. Indeed a decade ago, The Times published an article "Tensions darken festive mood in Bethlehem.(46) It reported that:

"Tensions darken festive mood in Bethlehem", The Times December 22, 1997.

LIFE in Bethlehem has become insufferable for many members of the dwindling Christian minority. Increasing Muslim-Christian tensions have left some Christians reluctant to celebrate Christmas in the town at the heart of the story of Christ's birth.

In the article, a young Christian woman described her life in the town under Palestinian rule:

"I do not dare to go out on Christmas Eve any more. The Muslim boys call me and the other Christian girls whores. They spit at us, try to force us to wear headscarves and in the (Islamic) fasting month of Ramadan that begins in a few days, the Palestinian police even arrest us for smoking or eating on the streets,"

It ended with a gloomy assessment – which, in large measure, has been borne out by later events:

Dr George Carey, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said after a visit to the Holy Land in 1993: "My fear is that in 15 years, Bethlehem – once [a] centre…of a strong Christian presence – might become a kind of Walt Disney Christian theme park." His vision of the birthplace of the Christian religion becoming a place where outsiders tend the shrines for the sake of visiting pilgrims only is becoming more a reality with each celebration of Christ's birth.

Elsewhere in the Muslim world, the lot of Christians is dismal as well. In Egypt , for example, the Copts suffer harassment and persecution. Their plight has been described in the following manner:

Egypt 's Copts are an endangered minority. Exposed to continuous and subtle pressures, their numbers are dwindling. Thousands have emigrated; no official figures are available as to their numbers in the diaspora today, but reliable sources count two million living in the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and other countries of Europe. Thousands of those who are left behind convert to Islam every year to escape persecution; for example, between 1988 and 1990, 50,000 Coptic university graduates did so. Those who stay faithful to their religion in Egypt find themselves increasingly marginalized and alienated in their own country. (47)

Of course, the harassment of non-Muslims is not confined to Christians. It is a practice prevalent with regard to virtually all the non-Islamic faiths across the globe. For example in the Indian subcontinent, the harsh treatment of the tiny Hindu community in Muslim Pakistan (and even in Bangladesh – formerly East Pakistan) contrasts sharply with that of the large Muslim minority in predominantly Hindu India, which is fully integrated into all walks of life that country – from government (where the current president, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, is of Muslim descent) via commerce to sport.

Islam's animosity towards Buddhism was dramatically symbolized by the destruction of the giant Buddha statues in the Bamyan Valley in Afghanistan by the ultra-Islamist Taliban regime in 2001. The statues were perhaps the most famous cultural landmarks of the region and were listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. The statement of then Taliban foreign minister, Wakil Ahmad Mutawakil, explaining his government's action leaves little room for speculation. He unabashedly declared:

We are destroying the Buddha statues in accordance with Islamic law and it is purely a religious issue. (48)

Of course no discussion of Islam's religious persecution, of its delegitimization, demonization, and dehumanization of members of other faiths would be complete without a discussion of Islam's attitude to the Jews and to Judaism. Perhaps the best way to convey this is to compare the manner in which the Jew was portrayed in Nazi Germany, and in the Muslim world today – even by allegedly "moderate" elements.

As can be seen from the cartoons in the appendix, it seems in both cases – under the Nazi regime and in the Islamic world - the Jew is depicted:

  • as a vicious predator in the form of a wolf devouring innocent lambs;
  • as a repulsive worm, eating away at the world;
  • as a slimy octopus whose tentacles embrace the globe;
  • as a sinister spider spinning its web to entrap its unsuspecting victims;
  • as a despicable scavenger, in the form of menacing-looking crows, preying on the innocent.(49)
In view of all this distressing evidence it is hardly surprising that Samuel Huntington chose to remark that:

Violence…occurs between Muslims, on the one hand, and Orthodox Serbs in the Balkans, Jews in Israel, Hindus in India, Buddhists in Burma and Catholics in the Philippines … Islam has bloody borders. (49)


ArrowDesign of Strategy Mapping out the Practical Avenues of Action

In the design of the proposed strategic initiative, the following points should be borne in mind:

  • The reason for prescribing that this enterprise be launched in the sphere of public diplomacy rather than in that of official diplomacy is the assessment that because of constraints on the latter, which flow both from institutional and personal career motivated considerations, it is unlikely that such an assertive and unequivocal initiative would be undertaken endogenously by foreign ministries without considerable exogenous inducement from concerned and committed civil society elites. Such elites typically have a view of the national interest that is more far-sighted, clear-sighted and less cluttered by short-term expediencies.
  • However, the final objective of virtually all public diplomacy initiatives is to impact on official policy.
  • Accordingly, in order to achieve this objective, we must be aware of the inherent dialectic relations that prevail between realms of public diplomacy and official policy-making.

With regard to the last of these three points, it should be underscored that the elements of this dialectic are that while:

(i) Civil society entities can engender pressures to induce incumbent politicians and officials to adopt measures they endorse and wish to see implemented

(ii) Incumbent politicians can encourage civil society entities to undertake causes which conform to their preferred agenda and thus create an amenable climate for appropriate legislation and/or policy decisions to be adopted.

In this regard we should recall the previously cited excerpt from Walter Roberts's address, "Public Diplomacy: Rethinking an Old Concept", at the Department of State's Senior Seminar:(51)

Public opinion counts … The support… diplomats gain for … foreign policies in government ministries won't count for much if people in the streets are demonstrating against such policies.

This idea of the mutuality between the spheres of public diplomacy and official policy making is graphically represented in the following modification of Fig. 3 below:


Reverting to the issues of the substantive content and the style of delivery, the overriding theme that must be underscored is that:

There can be no tolerance of intolerance. Tolerance of intolerance is both self -obstructive and self-destructive. For when tolerance becomes tolerant of intolerance, it sows the seeds of its own destruction.

This must be the uncompromising response to those who, under glib protestations of "multiculturalism", would argue that these manifestations of gender apartheid and creed apartheid are merely legitimate aspects of the socio-cultural values of the "Other"

Yet one need only take in the words of British-born Muslim, Omar Brooks, an extremist also known as Abu Izzadeen, presented to the world by Christiane Amanpour’s expose on UK Muslims, "The War Within"(52) to realize that lenient tolerance of the views he expresses is not broad-minded "multiculturalism" but feeble-minded (and feeble-hearted) capitulation to "anticulturalism". Such tolerance will not further respect for cultural diversity but only the repudiation of cultural diversity

This is how Omar Brooks/Abu Izzadeen chose to convey the prophet Muhammad's message to nonbelievers:

I come to slaughter all of you ….We are the Muslims…We drink the blood of the enemy, and we can face them anywhere. That is Islam and that is jihad.(53)

In fact it would seem that many Muslims themselves are victims of this sanguinary philosophy. Indeed when the likes of Anjem Choudary, dubbed by CNN as "the public face of Islamist extremism in Britain ", attempts to put forward a rationale justifying such Muslim belligerence, portraying it as nothing but legitimate last-ditch self-defense, it should be resolutely rebutted as blatantly false and fanciful. For his claim that Muslims have no choice but to take the fight to the West is clearly ludicrous. In response to his rhetorical question:

What are Muslims supposed to do when they are being killed in the streets in Afghanistan and Baghdad and Palestine ? Do they not have the same rights to defend themselves?

it should be firmly pointed out that most Muslims being killed in these locations are in fact being slain by the hand of …other Muslims.

This kind of apologetics for Islam's attempts at brutal intimidation must be brushed aside as the flimsy fabrications that they are, and world opinion must be made to confront the questions of:

  • Why discrimination and persecution on the basis of gender and faith should be considered any less heinous or be met with any less vigor than discrimination and persecution on the basis of race or ethnic origin.
  • Why should the practitioners of this kind of discrimination be treated with any less censure and sanction than the former apartheid regime in South Africa?
Western liberal circles must be forced to meet the moral and intellectual challenge posed by the words of Ayaan Hirsi Ali:

I confront the European elite's self-image as tolerant, while under their noses women are living like slaves.(54)

How is all this to be translated into a "nuts and bolts" recipe for action? What are the practical measures that concerned civil society elites can undertake to induce the desired changes in official policy and what are the parameters of this desired policy?

With regard to the former, a “to-do list” for civil society/NGO activism may well include the following elements:

  • canvassing politicians and policy makers (including face-to-face meetings) to explain to them the iniquities of gender apartheid and religious persecution that prevail today in the Islamic world;
  • organizing demonstrations and other protest actions, decrying the injustices of discrimination on the basis gender or faith;
  • initiating mass letter campaigns to both politicians and major media organizations calling public attention to the injustices perpetrated against women and adherents of non-Muslim beliefs;
  • establishing contacts with major mediapersonalities and conveying to them factually accurate material on the grim realities in the Islamic world – in particular with regard to the repression of women and non-Muslim believers;
  • disseminating truthful accounts and reliable data on religious and gender persecution across the Muslim world via internet, e-mail mailing lists and other communication vehicles;
  • setting up proactive monitoring facilities to document and disseminate information on gender and religious discrimination, repression and persecution;
  • monitoring academic organizations and research institutes that tend to understate, conceal, disguise or distort the cruel realities which women and non-Muslims are exposed to;
  • engaging educators, heads of teachers' organizations, and school principals to inform and educate on the true fate of the victims of gender and religious persecution in the Islamic world.

These measures in the public sphere should be marshaled to generate pressures on the sphere of official diplomacy, parliamentary legislation and government policy for the adoption of a three-pronged approach consisting of:

1. "Carrot and stick" legislation modeled on, but expanded beyond, the Jackson/ Vanik amendment, which in spite of a rather inauspicious start, was a major factor in securing the emancipation of Soviet Jewry and subsequently other religious minorities including evangelicalChristians and Catholics. In essence, this type of legislation would condition various benefits accorded foreign nations on the abolition of (or at least on progress in abolishing) gender and creed apartheid. Such benefits may relate, for example, to trading status, access to know-how and technology and foreign aid.

2. Allocation of resources for overt - and covert - funding of:

  • Activities of organizations for advancement of Muslim women, which operate both inside and outside the Islamic world
  • Defense of activists and organizations against physical assault from proponents of male dominance which may not be long in coming. This could include instruction and training of women's rights activists by special forces and covert advisors to enable them to fend off attacks by radical adversaries, as indeed took/take place in Afghanistan, Iran and other countries across the Muslim world. Such assistance may also include equipping them with the physical means to conduct such defense.
  • The establishment of channels for the propagation of information and ideas supportive of the advancement of Muslim women. This could include a modern-day version of the kind of activity embodied in the broadcasting of Radio Free Europe which operated during Cold War. In a similar fashion, "Free Lady" media channels should be directed at the Muslim world extolling the merits of enhancing the status of women and underscoring the detriments involved in their oppression

3. Instituting domestic sanctions and punitive measures against representatives of regimes that implement or tolerate repressive measures against women and religious minorities. Displeasure at the regimes’ policies may be expressed in curtailing diplomatic privileges of embassy staff, shunning dignitaries from "offender states" and boycotting functions organized by them.

In assessing the efficacy of this proposal, one should once again bear in mind that the US has, by recent estimates spent around US $ one trillion (!) on the war against terror – without any spectacular success. One can only imagine what effect may have been generated if only a fraction of these resources had been devoted to resolute measures designed to promote the status of women and freedom of religion in the Islamic world.


Focusing on the cruel the gender apartheid and creed apartheid that prevail - as a pervasive characteristic - of Islamist society and its value-system, has the potential of providing a potent method of attack against radical Islam that could work to delegitimize in open liberal societies, discredit it in moderate Muslim ones and destabilize it in regimes where it has taken over the reigns of government. If assertively and intelligently implemented, such a strategic initiative would not only be an effective measure to adopt. It would also be the right thing to do – indeed the necessary thing to do. In fact, there can be no more fitting words with which to conclude this essay than the ones of Edmund Burke, with which it began:

All that is required for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing.

Appendix (55)


1. Carl von Clausewitz, On War, eds. and trans., Howard and Paret, 1976, Book 8, Ch 6, p. 605

2. David Horowitz, The Art of Political War, 2003, pp 349-350.

3. Ibid.

4. EfraimHalevy, NATO Alliance Council in Brussels, June, 2002

5. Efraim Halevy, former head of the Mossad, on the threat of Islamic terror, June 4, 2006,2506,L-3258745,00.html

6. Moshe Sharon, "Agenda Of Islam - A War Between Civilizations", December 24, 2003. See Emphasis supplied.

7. Bernard Lewis, "The Roots of Muslim Rage," The Atlantic Monthly, vol. 266, September 1990, p. 60; Time, June 15, 1992, pp. 24-28. Also see Policyvol. 17, no. 4, Summer 2001-2002, p.26

8. Quoted in Samuel P. Huntington, "The Clash of Civilizations?", Foreign Affairs, Summer 1993, p. 32.

9. Brian Mullady, "The Military Implications of Public Opinion", Air University Review, May-June 1978,

10. David Rivkin, " America, Europe and the War on Terror: Where is the Threat?", The National Interest, July 23, 2003. See

11. Brian Rosen & Charles Wolf Jr, " Public Diplomacy : Lessons from King and Mandela, Restoring America’s image around the world", Policy Review, October & November 2005

12. See Emphasis added.

13. Ibid, Emphasis added

14. Barry Rubin, "U.K. Schools' Sickening Silence", New York Post, April 8, 2007

15. Ibid

16. Ibid. Emphasis added

17. Ibid

18. Ibid. Emphasis added

19. Rachel Ehrenfeld and Alyssa A. Lappen, " The Muslim Brotherhood's Propaganda Offensive",American Thinker, April 02, 2007


20. Joshua Stacher and Samer Shehata "Hear out Muslim Brotherhood", The Boston Globe, March 25, 2007 . See

21. Robert S. Leiken and Steven Brooke, "The Moderate Muslim Brotherhood",
Foreign Affairs, March/April 2007, pp. 107-121.

22. Ibid, p. 121

23. "A Constitution for a Pharaoh", Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2007; " Charges of Vote Rigging as Egypt Approves Constitution Changes", New York Times, March 28, 2007 .

24. Jan Melissen, (2004) Public Diplomacy: Engaging Foreign Societies', in: The Clingendael Newsletter, No. 20, pp. 1,2. See

25. Ibid.


27. Rivkin, op cit.

28. Ibid.

29. Kissinger, op cit.


31. P. 26. Emphasis added

32. The Economist, July 6-12, 2002, p. 26.


34. Arye L. Hillman, Economic Consequences of Supreme Values; in Efraim Inbar (Ed.), Radical Islam: Challenges and Responses, Routledge, London, 2007. Emphasis added.

35. Bernard Lewis , "Freedom and Justice in the Modern Middle East", Foreign Affairs, May/June 2005 .


37. The Economist, op. cit.

38. See note 35

39. " Sudan: Nearly 2 million dead as a result of the world's longest running civil war" , US Committee for Refugees, 2001 ,

40. Speech at a conference on "Contending with Radical Islam", Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan, Israel, May 31, 2007.

41. "Stewardess 'banned from taking bible on plane", The Daily Telegraph, December 20, 2006 ,

42. Simon Henderson , Promoting Saudi Civil Society: What Role for the United States ?, Policy Watch, March 13, 2003 . See

42. Alex Safian, "New York Times Omits Major Reason Christians are Leaving Bethlehem", CAMERA, December 24, 2004

43. See: Justus Reid Weiner, "Human Rights of Christians In Palestinian Society", 2005,; David Raab, "The Beleaguered Christians of the Palestinian-Controlled Areas", January 2003,;

44. Bethlehem Christians under Palestinian Authority,

45. "Tensions darken festive mood in Bethlehem", The Times December 22, 1997.

46. Ibid

47. Imad Boles, " Egypt – Persecution: Disappearing Christians of the Middle East ", Middle East Quarterly, Volume VIII: No. 1, 2001;. See



50. Samuel Huntingtonop. cit. p.35.

51. See note 12 above


53. "Radicals vs. moderates: British Muslims" at crossroads, January 22, 2007

54. Christopher Caldwell, "Daughter of the Enlightenment", New York Times, April 3, 2005. See


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