A few days ago Bret Stephens argued that a Lady Gaga video does more to "galvanize radical anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world" than Israeli settlements. So Stephens is now echoing Dinesh D'Souza? Andrew Exum responded posting a few racy Arabic-language music videos. Now Thomas Hegghammer weighs in:
How do we know that Palestine is more important than Westernization for the anti-American jihadists? First, al Qaeda's leaders have spoken more often about Palestine and other political issues (pdf) than about moral corruption. Second, when al Qaeda recruits cite their reasons for joining, they more often mention Palestine, Chechnya, and other political issues (pdf) than they do examples of Westernization. Third, incidents of anti-American violence and vandalism in the Middle East have tended to increase during or shortly after dramatic events in Palestine. Fourth, recruitment to al Qaeda has tended to expand during or shortly after escalation of hostilities in Palestine. Fifth, al Qaeda militants are happy to embrace aspects of Western culture when it suits them -- witness the use of videos and music in jihadi propaganda -- and they are arguably more pragmatic about matters moral and ritual than many other Islamists.