Notes From the Margins…

The Wisdom of Ayan Hirsi Ali

  • August 05, 2014
  • by

Whatever you think of Benjamin Netanyahu – and readers of this site will know very well what I think of him – even the most fervent supporters of the Israeli blitz of Gaza have not proposed that he should be rewarded for his efforts with the Nobel Peace Prize.

Such a suggestion might work as satire in a post from The Onion, say.   But even if Netanyahu’s admirers found such a thought floating round in their head they would probably be inclined to keep it private for reasons of good taste and human decency, at the very least.

So it takes a special kind of ideological fanaticism, stupidity, and sheer bloody-minded callousness to advance such a proposal in public as a serious recommendation in the midst of war.     Luckily for Netanyahu he has found a supporter who possesses all these qualities in the shape of the redoubtable Islam-fighter Ayan Hirsi Ali.

In the course of her career, both in Holland and particularly in the United States, Hirsi Ali has become the most prominent Muslim ‘native informant’ in the Western world, combining a bitter and often astonishingly bigoted condemnation of Islam that would be entirely unacceptable were it not coming from a Somali woman,   with enthusiastic support for neoconservative imperial warmongering.

So no one familiar with Hirsi Ali’s views will be surprised to know that she is an uncritical supporter of Israel and its wars.       In a hagiographic and reverential interview with the Israel-Hayom daily, Hirsi Ali was asked who she admired.     She sweetly listed her husband Niall Ferguson – a man whose views on American foreign policy in the Middle East are very similar to hers.       She also listed Bernard Lewis – no surprise there.       And Henry Kissinger, a secretary of state she finds preferable to John Kerry, because   ‘ He has a very interesting and incisive view of what American power is, and what it can achieve if implemented well.’

You there at the back, stop sniggering, because this is serious stuff, or at least Hirsi Ali and her interviewer think it is.       And she also admires Netanyahu ‘Because he is under so much pressure, from so many sources, and yet he does what is best for the people of Israel, he does his duty. I really think he should get the Nobel Peace Prize. In a fair world he would get it.’

Right that’s it.   Pick yourself up off the floor when you have stopped rolling around laughing and go and stand outside the classroom until you think you can control yourself.   Because, as I have said before, these are serious comments from a prominent public intellectual with some very profound insights into what the world calls the ‘Israeli-Palestinian conflict.’

If Hirsi Ali is to be believed, it is isn’t really a conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, or even between Israel and Arabs.     It’s just one more battleground in the existential conflict between ‘the West’ and ‘Islam’,   or at least the Islam that she knows – a nihilistic death cult which falsely presents itself as a ‘religion of peace and compassion’.

These aggressive and essentially irrational and psychotic features are been ignored by ‘wishful thinking’ from naive Western elites, says Hirsi Ali, but not by Israel, which knows what kind of enemy it is fighting in Gaza.   As she tells her interviewer:

‘I think that the State of Israel is different. You are living in a hornets’ nest. Israelis cannot pretend for too long, if you have tunnels being dug under you and rockets flying above you.’

No one can accuse of Hirsi Ali of not understanding her audience.       In this ‘hornets’ nest’ negotiations are impossible because ‘ The problem with negotiating with Hamas is that they have a vision, a certain kind of utopia’ based on the destruction of Israel and the implementation of Shariah law ‘ideally all over the world.’

Well that settles that then.     War it is.       All of which is clearly music to her interviewer’s ears.   Asked ‘ Is there any point in negotiating with those who believe that life on earth is just a test leading to the next world?’ Hirsi Ali is dubious, since:

‘Israel is investing everything it has into life on earth. Hamas is investing everything it has into life after death.  When Hamas recruits young people, their doctrine is ‘we love death, they love life.’ You will be rewarded in the hereafter — that is supposed to be the appeal. ‘

As an analysis of Hamas, political Islam, terrorism, jihadism, Gaza or anything else, this is intellectually thin gruel, a hotchpotch of prejudices and received ideas put together with the assistance of Hasbara for Dummies as a recipe book.

In Hirsi Ali’s Gaza war, there is no occupation, no blockade, no history, no politics, no immediate context, no interest in or knowledge of Hamas’s shifting positions or Israel’s war aims and the collapse of the ‘peace process’ or the national unity government.   There aren’t even any Palestinians.   There is just Netanyahu and   his valiant Israeli Sparta   versus the maniac death cult, which is not even ‘radical Islam’ but Islam itself.   Asked to qualify an earlier statement that there can ‘ never be peace between the cultures’,   Hirsi Ali replies:

‘Not unless Islam there is a true reformation of Islam, an irreversible change where Muslim leaders distance themselves from parts of the Quran, from this emphasis on life after death.’

Throughout the Gaza war, numerous Palestinians have insisted that they are fighting so that they can become part of this world, not the next.   Hamas itself has made the lifting of the blockade one of its essential war aims.     But these are not the voices Hirsi Ali is listening to, and not the ones that will further her career. And so she offers the world a comicbook version of the conflict, in which Israel is fighting an enemy that Europe will also be fighting, as Muslim immigration fills the continent with ‘young populations that are having many more children than they are, who are high on this doctrine of death.’

Bat Ye’or eat your heart out.     In the meantime the message is clear: Israel, just keep on bombing those crazy Muslim ‘hornets’ until they stop wanting to die. And when you do it, know that Ayan Hirsi Ali has got your back, and will always be available to deliver whatever stupefyingly moronic pronouncements and pernicious drivel you require.

You may also Like


  1. Miss Castello

    5th Aug 2014 - 12:42 pm

    Who gives a fuck what this excuse for a human being thinks, does or says? She is nothing. The shit on my shoe is worth more. Period.

    • Matt

      5th Aug 2014 - 2:08 pm

      Well she might be nothing to you, but her ‘human rights activist’ persona gives her a certain poisonous influence in certain circles, so her ideas are worth critiquing, I feel.

  2. Susan Dirgham

    5th Aug 2014 - 3:53 pm

    Dear Matt,

    Thanks for this great article on Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

    When she visited Australia some years ago, I tried to talk a salesman in a bookshop to not stock her books, and I wrote comments on ABC webpages and a letter to the editor about her. She made me so angry! The following are just two pieces I wrote:


    N HER article “Shunning our conscience” (9/6), Julie Szego examines Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s “assault on Islam”. She claims Ali “is our conscience calling”. I suspect many readers would not view Ali as their conscience, as they would not give that role to the Pope or Cardinal Pell.

    In the 1970s, Germaine Greer and other feminists influenced women throughout the Western world. I went to women’s meetings where men were castigated. We damned the patriarchal society and the inequalities between the sexes. Christianity was rarely blamed for the injustices women endured.

    More recently, I have lived with a Christian family from the Middle East, as well as a Muslim family. The children in the Christian family were sometimes physically abused, while those in the Muslim family were brought up with great respect and love. From this experience, should I draw conclusions about the two religions?

    I trust Muslim women who are downtrodden have, or will have, their Germaine Greers to inspire them. Unfortunately, the attraction of Ayaan Hirsi Ali for many people in the West is that she has turned her back on Islam. She has come over to “our side”, so we smugly embrace her.


    Still making no sense of Ayaan

    I have just been watching the recorded interview of Ayaan Hirsi Ali at the Sydney Opera House, July 2010. I am still shocked by what she says, what she can get away with saying.

    For example, she was asked about her response to 9/11. She explains that she had the choice of either condoning it or condemning it, and if she condemned it she would be “sinning”. It was her educational training, five years at a university in Europe, which enabled her to condemn the attack on the World Trade Centre. An outcome of her university study was that she was able to differentiate between what was right from wrong, not based on the authority of some higher god or a father or imam or someone who deems himself/herself to know everything about what is right or wrong, but based on what she thought of “people falling from tall towers who went to work on that day unexpectedly dying.”

    Questions for Ms Ali (ones which weren’t asked at the Opera House):
    Who determined that you would be “sinning” if you condemned the attacks on 9/11?

    Did more than 1 billion Muslims in the world struggle with the same question?
    Did imams and Muslims throughout the world believe they would be sinning if they condemned 9/11?
    People throughout Indonesia, Bosnia, Turkey, Bangladesh, in India and Australia?

    Are people who have not had the advantage of a European university education incapable of condemning the killing of innocent people because they have not learnt to think for themselves?

    If Muslim Australians in this audience or in the wider Australian community have not had a university education, can we assume they condoned 9/11?

    Are pious Christians and Jews, people who honour one God (many people would say the same god as Muslims honour) also unable to differentiate between what is right from wrong unless they have a university education?

    In September 2001, I was teaching a class of migrant students, some of them Muslims. One particular student from Somalia had always been very vocal about his politics, and before 9/11 would not have been shy to say that he supported Al-Qaeda. I found the views he expressed in the classroom abhorrent, and I was not impressed when I saw him pressure other Somali students to leave class early to attend prayers at the mosque on Fridays. Students from his community seemed to be able to deal with him diplomatically and with some humour, as I tried to also, in my role as his teacher. What I will never forget, though, is his not respecting the one minute silence we had in the class for the victims of the attack on the World Trade Centre. While his classmates stood quietly at their desks, this particular student wandered around the room with a smug look on his face. After 9/11, he became much less vocal in the classroom about his political views.

    So, yes, I have known one person who condoned the attacks in the US on 11 September, but as for other Muslims I have met in classrooms (hundreds of them), on my assessment of them, they would be as likely to condemn it as any other group of people anywhere in the world; they are as human, and as touched by the misfortune of other humans, as the rest of us.

    Ref: “Ayaan Hirsi Ali in conversation at the Sydney Opera House”

    So, thank you again, Matt. May your article be read widely. However, at the same time, may more serious attention be given to the grave dangers of the ‘radical Islam’ espoused by IS, Al-Nusra, the Muslim Brotherhood etc. (It is ‘Islam’ by name only.) This is not to downplay the role of American exclusivism, some Gulf states, the UK, France, Turkey and Israel in the death and destruction in the Middle East. They are strange bedfellows on a common mission, it seems.

    The UN and the mainstream media’s response to the atrocities committed in Adra, Syria by extremists, illustrate the above.

    Kind regards,


    • Matt

      5th Aug 2014 - 4:17 pm

      Thanks Susan. And thanks for sharing these experiences and insights. Hirsi Ali is a disgrace, and the fact that her dim prouncements are so widely lauded in the West demonstrates how useful they are politically, and also the prevailing level of prejudice and bigotry that makes them acceptable.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

Subscribe to Blog via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.


  • No events

Recent Comments