Three years ago today Islamist al-Qaida terrorists hijacked four airliners bound for New York and Washington, crashing them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A second target in Washington was spared when heroic passengers on a doomed flight attacked the terrorists and crashed the plane rather than allowing the attack to proceed. The 9/11 attacks awakened a sleeping giant. The United States mobilized for a new war. The truth is that the war had been going on for many years but few Americans had paid it much notice.
In the days after 9/11 and in speeches ever since President Bush has correctly characterized the enemies of America as those who hate our values, our culture, our freedom, and our democracy. This is exactly right. He also dubbed it the "War on Terror" and that is sadly inaccurate. Terrorism is a tactic, nothing more. It may be the most visible tactic used by the enemies of the United States. It may be the one and only tactic that was sufficient to awake the United States from it's long slumber. It's still just one tactic. Another tactic which has been incredibly effective is the manipulation of the media in the West. Even when painting radical Islamist terrorist groups as the enemy the press often unwittingly does their bidding.
This past Thursday three suicide bombers from Jemaah Islamiyah, a terrorist group with strong ties to al-Qaida, blew up the Australian embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia. Yesterday the Associated Press reported that the terrorists had warned Indonesian police about the impending attack and demanding the release of a jailed Jemaah Islamiyah leader. When that didn't work they went ahead with the bombing and came up with an entirely different motivation. Today the group is claiming that the attacks were really designed to punish Australia for supporting the war in Iraq. This claim is almost believable. Australian Prime Minister John Howard is up for reelection and the war in Iraq is not popular in Australia. A similar attack, the Madrid railway bombing, directly contributed to the election of a government in Spain opposed to the war which subsequently withdrew Spanish troops and support for the U.S. Other acts of terrorism have caused the withdrawal of Thailand, Honduras, and the Phillipines from Iraq. So, certainly, the terrorists may have calculated that an attack on Australian interests would allow them to influence the upcoming Australian elections.
On the other hand, Jemaah Islamiyah is the same group responsible for the Bali bombing in 2002 that killed 202 people. 88 Australian tourists were among the dead. Back then we were told the attack was "to punish Australia for intervening in East Timor". So, is the freeing of East Timor the reason for the antipathy to Australia? I don't think so. I simply think the enemies of Australia, to paraphrase President Bush, hate Australia's values, culture, freedom, and democracy. They will always find an excuse du jour for an attack, whether it is on Australia, the United States, the French Jewish community, or Israel.
The press, on the other hand, will dutifully report that Jemaah Islamiyah claims to have attacked Australia for it's actions in Iraq, which in turn may indeed impact the Australian elections. They will, for the most part, make such reports without taking the time to put the statement in historical context and, in doing so, will unwittingly become complicit with those self-same terrorists.
Similarly the press will dutifully report that the latest attacks on Israeli civillians by Palestinian terrorists were to "end occupation". They will report that the Palestinians are fighting for independence. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth. That is merely another big stripey lie by the Palestinians, just as the claim that the attack on the Australian embassy in Jakarta is all about Iraq is a big stripey lie. Both are just excuses. If the Palestinians wanted independence they could have it. Indeed, they are protesting Prime Minsiter Sharon's moves to give it to them unilaterally without a peace agreement. The last thing the Palestinian Authority needs is to actually have to take responsibility for their own people. It would distract from their 83 year old war of terror against Israel and the Jewish people.
Yes, I said the war is 83 years old. That is when Yasser Arafat's predecessor as leader of the Palestinian people, his uncle Haj Amin al-Husseini, became Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and very quickly began working to end any cooperation between Arabs and Jews and began inciting Arab attacks against the Jewish people living in then British Palestine. His oft stated goal was the expulsion or extermination of the Jewish people, and he was eventually convicted at Nuremberg as a Nazi war criminal. The bloodiest year of the conflict to date was the period of the Arab Riots of 1936-37. 6,000 Jews were killed in that year. The Peel Commission report then recommended partitioning Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. The Palestinian Arabs would have none of it. They rejected similar offers in 1948, 1967, at Camp David in 2000, and again later that year in Taba.
Yasser Arafat, for his part, called his late lamented uncle "our hero" as recently as 2002 in an interview by Al Sharq Al Awsat, a London Arabic daily. Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri as recently as last Wednesday stated that "the war will never end" until all Zionists (that means all Jews) are driven from all Palestinian lands (which, of course, includes all of Israel). The goals of the Palestinian leadership have not changed in the past 83 years. They hate the Jews, to paraphrase President Bush, because of our culture, our values, our freedom, and our democracy. Sound familiar? So long as the same family, the same leaders, control the Palestinians the chance of peace being negotiated with Israel is exactly the same as the chance that Osama bin-Laden will sign a peace treaty with President Bush. The press, in ignoring all the history that has gone before, will dutifully report the latest terrorist lie, whether from Hamas, the Palestinian Authority, Jemaah Islamiyah, or al-Qaida, and will dismiss the oh-so-correct assessments by President Bush or Prime Minister Howard or Prime Minister Sharon as just so much political rhetoric.
As I said, it's all one war, it's all one enemy. It's western Jewish and Christian values, culture, freedom, and democracy versus the antithetical values of the radical Islamist, the jihadist, and the Arab nationalist.