Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gilles Kepel's view on Terror and Martyrdom - RSA podcast

The RSA Event with Gilles Kepel was simultaneously published in the podcast of RSA Current Events as well as UChannel Podcast. Another RSA podcast I saw show up in the UChannel feed even before it did in the RSA feed. With other suppliers to the UChannel Podcast, I usually see the original feed carry a podcast far earlier than the UChannel sampler. But that is merely an aside.

What I found especially interesting about Beyond Terror and Martyrdom, the lecture of Gilles Kepel (and also a book he wrote), is that he took on the overall terminology that has taken a firm grip on the Middle-East and its tense relations also with the rest of the world and showed a perspective from which this clinging on to 'terrorism' and 'martyrdom' fails. Neither the western view, that the Middle-East has become a victim of terrorism and that its terrorism has been exported to the rest of the world works, nor the Islamist view that it is fighting a holy war against modernity and Israel, the view of martyrdom has solid ground.

The War on Terror fails. The bringing of democracy in Iraq or Afghanistan has failed. The west has not been able to stop terrorism, nor taken aways its roots. The Islamists on their part haven't stopped modernization, or the achieved any weakening of Israel or the US or western Culture altogether, nor have they managed to unite the Islamic, or even the Arab world. Kepel concludes that the narratives are bankrupt. The narrative of the west that solidifies the idea of terrorism has failed and so has the narrative of the evils of western culture to which the martyrs of Islam must be sacrificed.

Kepel's work is a strong demand to get out of this dichotomy and start approaching each other differently. His so-called critics that are allowed to speak in the podcast, although they disagree on some analysis of Kepel, basically agree to this general tenet.

More RSA:

More Israel:
Gaza - podcasts on diplomacy and war,
Whither the Middle East,
Desiring Walls,
Gabriela Shalev,
UCLA Israel Studies.

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