Does the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the flames of jihadism?
Paul Cruickshank is a Fellow at the Center on Law and Security at New York University's School of Law. He previously worked as an investigative journalist in London, reporting on al Qaeda and its European affiliates and was part of the CNN reporting team that covered the London July 7, 2005 attacks. He collaborated closely with Peter Bergen in interviewing acquaintances of Osama bin Laden for Bergen's 2006 oral history "The Osama bin Laden I Know" and worked with CNN on a two-hour Emmy-nominated documentary "In the footsteps of bin Laden." Cruickshank has written about al Qaeda and Islamist groups for a number of publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic and Studies in Conflict and Terrorism. He has provided on-air analysis to CNN, BBC, NBC, CBS, BBC, Fox News and Al Jazeera on national security issues. Cruickshank graduated from Cambridge University with a degree in history, and has a Masters degree with Honors in International Relations from the Paul. H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at the Johns Hopkins University. He has also worked in the European Parliament in Brussels and at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C.
Paul Cruickshank: The Israeli-Palestinian issue is very, very important when discussing the war on terrorism. It’s a key part of it. Now 9/11 happened and was planned at a time when you were having the Oslo Peace Process. You were having a real dynamic towards peace over there, and people often site that fact to say that Al Qaeda and terrorism have nothing to do with whatever happens in Israel and Palestine. But I don’t think that argument is a very well made one. It’s a very simplistic type of argument. Of course Israel and Palestine plays into the Al Qaeda equation, because it’s used by Al Qaeda again and again in the statements of bin Laden and …as . . . as one of the reasons for why, again, a war against the United States. As they’re claiming the United States is at league with Israel and the Jewish crusader plot to oppress and subjugate Muslims around the world. That’s the way they view this struggle. And they see whatever is going on in Palestine and whatever is going on in Israel as key to this. In recent statements, bin Laden has made a huge amount . . . Sorry. In recent statements bin Laden has made a very great . . . In recent statements bin Laden has really focused in on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. He said that that is . . . the aim of Al Qaeda is to gain control of part of Iraq and use that to then launch an attack to wipe out Israel. They disagree with Hamaas, which they feel is toying with the idea of some sort of agreement with the Israelis. They disagree with that entirely. They are absolutely unprepared to see any part of Israel exist. They wanna take Israel totally out of the equation. And they’re hammering this message home and trying to position themselves as the hawks on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, and trying to gain recruits by doing that; gaining recruits when people are angry about what’s going on in that country. So this is a very important issue for them moving forward.
Question: Is Israel-Palestine al-Qaeda’s informing motive?
Paul Cruickshank: I think it’s very central to their informing motive. Bin Laden has a lot of enemies. You know Al Qaeda had a lot of enemies. They had a lot of goals, but one of their key goals is the removal of Israel from the Middle East. Another one of their goals is the removal of all American influence from the Middle East; but Israel is seen as part of that American influence within the region. So for Al Qaeda, Israel is front and center here. I think there’s . . . I think some experts from time to time have said, well Israel and Palestine is not so important to Al Qaeda as an issue. I think that’s sort of wrong to say that. It’s a very important part of their motivation. It’s an important part of their rallying cry for recruits around the world. Certainly Al Qaeda has very little presence in the Palestinian territories. Hamaas, Islamic jihad, other groups very much dominate the scene now and not allowed Al Qaeda to have any real presence over there. And Hamaas, remember, has a very, very different ideology to Al Qaeda; a very different ideology. They come very much from the Muslim Brotherhood scene. The Muslim Brotherhood are mortal enemies of Al Qaeda, and Al Qaeda are mortal enemies of the Muslim Brotherhood because the Muslim Brotherhood is a political organization. They’re much more moderate, and it has really not very much time for the sort of really violent rhetoric that Al Qaeda indulges in. Obviously the Muslim Brotherhood views the conflict . . . the standoff in Israel and Palestine as a different matter; one where violence is justified against what they see as a foreign occupation. But the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda are very, very different. Hamaas and Al Qaeda have very, very different conclusions about attacking civilians around the world; attacking Americans. So Al Qaeda hasn’t really been able to ___________ itself into the Palestinian conflict. But it’s definitely used that conflict as a recruiting tool.
Recorded on: Jan 14 2008
More radical than Hamaas, bin Laden uses the conflict to the advantage of al-Qaeda.
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How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.
- A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
- It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
- While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
Tribalism and discrimination<p>One question the "Genetic Pressure" series explores: What would tribalism and discrimination look like in a world with designer babies? As designer babies grow up, they could be noticeably different from other people, potentially being smarter, more attractive and healthier. This could breed resentment between the groups—as it does in the series.</p><p>"[Designer babies] slowly find that 'everyone else,' and even their own parents, becomes less and less tolerable," author Eugene Clark told Big Think. "Meanwhile, everyone else slowly feels threatened by the designer babies."</p><p>For example, one character in the series who was born a designer baby faces discrimination and harassment from "normal people"—they call her "soulless" and say she was "made in a factory," a "consumer product." </p><p>Would such divisions emerge in the real world? The answer may depend on who's able to afford designer baby services. If it's only the ultra-wealthy, then it's easy to imagine how being a designer baby could be seen by society as a kind of hyper-privilege, which designer babies would have to reckon with. </p><p>Even if people from all socioeconomic backgrounds can someday afford designer babies, people born designer babies may struggle with tough existential questions: Can they ever take full credit for things they achieve, or were they born with an unfair advantage? To what extent should they spend their lives helping the less fortunate? </p>
Sexuality dilemmas<p>Sexuality presents another set of thorny questions. If a designer baby industry someday allows people to optimize humans for attractiveness, designer babies could grow up to find themselves surrounded by ultra-attractive people. That may not sound like a big problem.</p><p>But consider that, if designer babies someday become the standard way to have children, there'd necessarily be a years-long gap in which only some people are having designer babies. Meanwhile, the rest of society would be having children the old-fashioned way. So, in terms of attractiveness, society could see increasingly apparent disparities in physical appearances between the two groups. "Normal people" could begin to seem increasingly ugly.</p><p>But ultra-attractive people who were born designer babies could face problems, too. One could be the loss of body image. </p><p>When designer babies grow up in the "Genetic Pressure" series, men look like all the other men, and women look like all the other women. This homogeneity of physical appearance occurs because parents of designer babies start following trends, all choosing similar traits for their children: tall, athletic build, olive skin, etc. </p><p>Sure, facial traits remain relatively unique, but everyone's more or less equally attractive. And this causes strange changes to sexual preferences.</p><p>"In a society of sexual equals, they start looking for other differentiators," he said, noting that violet-colored eyes become a rare trait that genetically engineered humans find especially attractive in the series.</p><p>But what about sexual relationships between genetically engineered humans and "normal" people? In the "Genetic Pressure" series, many "normal" people want to have kids with (or at least have sex with) genetically engineered humans. But a minority of engineered humans oppose breeding with "normal" people, and this leads to an ideology that considers engineered humans to be racially supreme. </p>
Regulating designer babies<p>On a policy level, there are many open questions about how governments might legislate a world with designer babies. But it's not totally new territory, considering the West's dark history of eugenics experiments.</p><p>In the 20th century, the U.S. conducted multiple eugenics programs, including immigration restrictions based on genetic inferiority and forced sterilizations. In 1927, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that forcibly sterilizing the mentally handicapped didn't violate the Constitution. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes wrote, "… three generations of imbeciles are enough." </p><p>After the Holocaust, eugenics programs became increasingly taboo and regulated in the U.S. (though some states continued forced sterilizations <a href="https://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/eugenics/" target="_blank">into the 1970s</a>). In recent years, some policymakers and scientists have expressed concerns about how gene-editing technologies could reanimate the eugenics nightmares of the 20th century. </p><p>Currently, the U.S. doesn't explicitly ban human germline genetic editing on the federal level, but a combination of laws effectively render it <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">illegal to implant a genetically modified embryo</a>. Part of the reason is that scientists still aren't sure of the unintended consequences of new gene-editing technologies. </p><p>But there are also concerns that these technologies could usher in a new era of eugenics. After all, the function of a designer baby industry, like the one in the "Genetic Pressure" series, wouldn't necessarily be limited to eliminating genetic diseases; it could also work to increase the occurrence of "desirable" traits. </p><p>If the industry did that, it'd effectively signal that the <em>opposites of those traits are undesirable. </em>As the International Bioethics Committee <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">wrote</a>, this would "jeopardize the inherent and therefore equal dignity of all human beings and renew eugenics, disguised as the fulfillment of the wish for a better, improved life."</p><p><em>"Genetic Pressure Volume I: Baby Steps"</em><em> by Eugene Clark is <a href="http://bigth.ink/38VhJn3" target="_blank">available now.</a></em></p>
Scientists discover burrows of giant predator worms that lived on the seafloor 20 million years ago.
- Scientists in Taiwan find the lair of giant predator worms that inhabited the seafloor 20 million years ago.
- The worm is possibly related to the modern bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois).
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A three-dimensional model of the feeding behavior of Bobbit worms and the proposed formation of Pennichnus formosae.
Credit: Scientific Reports
Beware the Bobbit Worm!<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1f9918e77851242c91382369581d3aac"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_As1pHhyDHY?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
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