You schmooze, you lose?

A Jewish journalist interviews terrorists throughout the Middle East. The result is surprising.

grenade 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
grenade 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Schmoozing with Terrorists By Aaron Klein World Ahead Media 204 pages; $26 'Once Islam dominates America, anyone living inside must abide by our rules. There is no choice. You don't like it? Too bad. Go somewhere else and go to hell." Gems such as this abound in American journalist Aaron Klein's book, which details his many one-on-one interviews with wanted terrorists. They brag. They threaten. They explain that their goal isn't so much to kill Jews (though they aren't shy about declaring that "the Jews are corrupting humanity on earth... they should be removed") as it is to please Allah by sacrificing their lives to further the spread of Islam. And they do go on about what a world under Islam will be like. Britney Spears and Madonna? Beheaded. Music? Forbidden. Islamic dress? Mandatory for everyone. Klein, who grew up Orthodox in Philadelphia, found himself drawn to journalism in general, and Middle Eastern journalism in particular (aided by his olive complexion) after Osama bin Laden's fatwa against the West and 9/11, motivated by a growing conviction that the vast majority of reporters covering terrorism and the Middle East "don't have the ability to tell good from evil. These reporters have absolutely no moral compass whatsoever. They think being a reporter means being 'balanced'; they think it means one thing - that the truth is on both sides, that both sides are equal... They think our anti-terror operations, which target terrorists who hide among women and children, which target jihadists launching rockets from civilian apartment buildings, which target gunmen who fire from a crowd of unarmed civilians, are morally equivalent to suicide bombers or terror leaders who fire rockets into population centers." How refreshing to hear a member of the fourth estate telling it like it is. How refreshing to hear terrorists debunking with their own words such mealy-mouthed Western canards as "ignorance and poverty make them do it," "they act only out of desperation" or "they are merely defending themselves against occupation." Klein provides many examples of these people's shaky grasp of such basic concepts as truth, fairness and innocence, and of how a belief system that deems thinking itself a sin can come to dominate its adherents so thoroughly that there really is no possibility of reasoning with many of them. For those under the sway of the Western media, many of the frank (proud, even) revelations, motivations and goals offered by Klein's subjects will come as a very rude awakening, though of course for many people living in Israel, they are mainly old hat. Indeed, most of the book's attraction is to be found not in its revelations, but in the very spectacle of a single Jew - albeit accompanied by an intrepid interpreter - arranging to be totally alone and at the mercy of armed killers who want nothing more than to see him and all his people dead. It's like watching a mouse interviewing a series of snakes. And perhaps that very novelty explains why Klein is still alive, and why so often his subjects dropped many of the polished lies and half truths they usually feed the media. Klein notes that "a lot of the Palestinian leaders I met were somewhat fascinated at the prospect of meeting a Jewish reporter. For many, I was the first Jew they'd ever knowingly interacted with." So brutal and revealing are the resultant statements, so shameless the hypocrisy exposed, that one can overlook Klein's merely pedestrian talent as a writer. To his credit, Klein doesn't limit his focus to the Middle East. Rather, he goes into considerable detail about how naive American actors and well-meaning citizens are actually supporting and paying for the spread of the very cancer that looks ready to subvert their country and destroy their way of life.