Ben White and Patrick Sookdeo

Ben White is an excellent person to have after a disaster. As he realizes that being thought to lambast the controlling and halting plots of Jew-murder may not be a popular argument, let us take a moment to recall an earlier incident.

White has been a sought after contributor to Christian online publications such as the Anglican Fulcrum, and was recently commissioned to review Global Jihad, by the Director of the Barnabas Fund, Patrick Sookdeo. In this missive, I suggest that whilst, by his own admission, White understands why some individuals are antisemites, he appears to have difficulty in understanding or recognizing Jihadism and associated religio-political ethoses; denying that Hezbollah is such – the clue is in its name, Ben.

Yet, Fulcrum did think him suitable for reviewing Sookdeo’s book. Alas, a good few of their readers did not think so, as revealed in the somewhat lively discussion attached to the above missive. Fulcrum then a statement of clarification, as did White himself.

I have not read Global Jihad, so it will be wrong of me to comment on the accuracy or otherwise of it. I will add, also, that as Sookdeo is, undoubtedly, a social and religious conservative he and I will, on many points, would disagree on many points (not least his discussion of the taqiyya concept, which always sets alarm bells off in my head). It should be possible, though, to examine White’s original review (albeit briefly).

One flaw in Sookdeo’s thesis, the reader was told, was that he “ends up distorting or simplifying Islamic theology”. Remember, White is an English literature graduate: Sookdeo, at least, has a grounding in the theology of his professed faith. Furthermore, in response to Sookdeo’s attributing jihadism in general, and the subversion of the 1979 Iranian Revolution specifically, to a perceived interference from America, White states:

At this point it would have been appropriate to make at least a brief reference to the fact that the US, along with Britain, did indeed engineer a coup against the Iranian government in 1953 in order to protect their economic interests, but there is no mention of this formative event in Iranian-US relations. These are well known facts, and crucial for understanding the nature of the 1979 Islamic revolution.

I am left with the impression of the Iranian population not being ascribed full moral capabilities, but instead seen as dull automata buffeted by the winds of history whilst greater minds (eg upper-middle class English literature university graduates) are able to see that bigger picture. The Western-led subversion of the 1953 Iranian Government was shameful, and one I do not seek to excuse, but at this point it would have been appropriate to make at least a brief reference to the fact that, in 1979, Left-wing activists and pro-democracy Iranians quickly find themselves crushed by the Khomenists which White seeks to portray as a national liberation movement.

Sookhdeo’s sources for his treatment of ‘Palestinian jihad’ are also of questionable reliability, including the fiercely pro-Israeli group ‘Palestinian Media Watch’ and the notorious MEMRI.

No they are not questionable. The frequent tu quoque criticism of MEMRI, in particular, is that it is Israeli-run. So what? At no point have I seen evidence that it mis-represents its Arabic and Faarsi language translations of what Islamists say when they think no-one is listening. As the British media is beginning to suspect, they tend to be highly accurate.

The fact that the US, with the help of Saudi and Pakistan intelligence elements, funded and trained jihadists from around the world receives only the briefest of mentions in a book of almost 700 pages.

Again, the role of Western intelligence agencies in Operation Chaos which took place in Afghanistan during the 1980s is not one which I seek to excuse; and I believe the best way to reform the Saudi and Pakistani intelligence agencies would be to shoot everyone above the rank of Major. But at this point it would have been appropriate to make at least a brief reference to the fact that Islamism and modern jihadism rose out of the bastardization of pan Arab nationalism by the likes of Sayd Qutb (cf. The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright) and loss of ‘pride’ over the demise of the Ottoman Empire in the 19th Century (for which the Armenians and Assyrians, amongst others, paid the ultimate price).

Yet, once more, moral agency is removed potentially even from the venal Saudi and Pakistani intelligence agencies, and all becoming contingent on Western involvement. Recommended reading also includes Ahmed Rashid’s Taleban and Jason Burke’s Al-Qaeda which, hardly admiring of Western intelligence agencies, term their involvement with the rise of Al-Qaeda and the Taleban as one of inattention and irresponsibility; whilst their Pakistani and Saudi counterparts were fully cognizant.

I would agree with White when he objects to lumping all the Muslims on Earth as one poorly defined homogeneous mass, and not a multiplicity of ethnic groups and religious confessionals and political allegiances (and, who, overwhelmingly are the principle victims of violent jihad). For similar reasons I do not spend all my working moments looking for ways to denigrate one country smaller than Scotland, or offering understanding of racial hatred.

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2 Responses to “Ben White and Patrick Sookdeo”

  1. Fabian from Israel Says:

    “Yet, once more, moral agency is removed potentially even from the venal Saudi and Pakistani intelligence agencies”

    I am debating an Argentinian woman who holds that the 1976 coup in Argentina was “Mandate by the U.S. with the goal of imposing neoliberalism in Argentina”.

    I would say that this is the view commonly held by most Argentinians.

  2. Alec Says:

    I have no doubt that Washington would have been pleased for it to go ahead, but it’s the same infantilzation of non North European… hey wait a minute, what’s her excuse???

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