Thursday, June 02, 2005

Looking Open-Eyed at the Terror War

First published in AM New York.

"We have ruled the world before, and by Allah, the day will come when we will rule the entire world again... We will rule America... [and] Britain and the entire world - except for the Jews. The Jews will not enjoy a life of tranquility under our rule... Listen to the Prophet Mohammed, who tells you about the end that awaits Jews. The stones and trees will want the Muslims to finish off every Jew." So declared a Palestinian religious leader, employed by President Mahmoud Abbas' Palestinian Authority, in the May 13 weekly sermon broadcast on official Palestinian Authority television.

The messages in this sermon have been promoted by Palestinian leaders for decades and have been standard fare in media, mosques and schools throughout much of the Arab world. The indoctrination to hatred, genocide and conquest is a symptom of what one rare liberal voice in the Arab world, the Tunisian human rights activist Muhammed Bechri, recently called the "twin fascisms" of Islamism and pan-Arabism.

Why did Israel enter into the Oslo agreements with an adversary so clearly intent on pursuing its destruction? The psychology of Israel's Oslo supporters resembles that of children abused by their parents: Such children typically blame themselves for their predicament because they want to stave off hopelessness. They choose to see the fault in themselves because doing so keeps alive a hope that by reforming, by ingratiating themselves, they can change their parents' behavior. In the same way, persistently besieged communities, whether minorities under constant attack or small nations besieged by surrounding neighbors, commonly delude themselves into thinking that self-reforms and concessions will placate their enemies.

Israel has paid a grim price for its Oslo delusions in a terror war launched by "peace partners" that has left well over a thousand Israelis dead and many thousands maimed.

As Americans, we were not, of course, in the same predicament as Israel. The hatred against us was only occasionally translated into physical attacks and those strikes were limited. But the United States suffered a new type of assault on September 11, 2001, and, even though we remain the most powerful nation in the world, many among us have reacted in the manner of persistently besieged groups.

Indeed, blaming America for the threat is the standard line in significant segments of American academia and media.

Many insist we follow the lead of the United Nations in addressing the terror challenge. The UN has routinely coddled terror-promoting states and has failed to respond forcefully even to their acts of genocide. It has viewed Sudan and Saudi Arabia as fit for membership on its human rights commission and it chose Libya to chair that commission. Why American media pundits and political leaders would urge us to bend to the UN in fashioning our own actions in the terror war is difficult to understand except as the delusional view of people determined not to look honestly at the threats we face.

Turning our eyes from the actual challenge cannot help but sap our capacity to fight the war in a way that might minimize the losses we are yet to suffer.