No More Excuses
September 19, 2001
by Meyrav Wurmser
This article appeared in The Washington Times on September 17, 2001
Once again, terrorists from the Middle East have demonstrated - in the most heinous of forms - their hate and dismay of Americans and their way of life. Rogue regimes - such as those of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria and the cheering crowds of the Palestinian Authority who celebrated the most severe terror attacks against the United States - have declared war on our values of freedom. But the enemy of the United States is not only these terrorists and their immediate accomplices who committed these atrocities. It is the culture of hate that plagues Arab politics and the leaders who foment it. Last week's events were the culmination of this atmosphere, rather than the opening shot of that war.
This war has been declared a long time ago. The recent world conference against racism in Durban, South Africa, was the culmination and representation of this spirit of hate. History will record this conference - which was hijacked by a group of Arab, African and Asian countries and became an all-out assault against the United States and Israel - as the verbal prelude, which concluded with the launching of the attack. Those who joined the bandwagon and fueled the orgy of anti-American and anti-Semitic hatred in Durban have created the environment in which we now find ourselves. This is a war launched by a broad spectrum of regional radicals, who have been energized by the launching of the Intifada by Yasser Arafat. Mr. Arafat's calculated eruption of violence in September 2000 will be remembered as the start of the countdown to the attack on America on Sept. 11, 2001.
Even before Durban, this spirit has been expressed in the words and actions of many of the West's enemies who did not even bother to cover up their hostility or evil intentions. They declared a Jihad - a holy war - against the West as a whole and called for the killing of Americans in particular. Following the attacks on New York and Washington, the government-controlled Palestinian daily Al Hayat Al Jadida praised the attackers, writing that "these suicide bombers are the salt of the earth, the engines of history . . . They are the most honorable among us." They apparently understood that these acts completed what the mufti, the chief government-appointed and funded cleric in Mr. Arafat's Palestinian Authority, Ikrima Sabri, called for more than once in the last years - to "attack Americans and burn down the White House."
Likewise, Egypt, the second- largest American foreign aid recipient, is using deplorable anti-Semitic language - reminiscent of the Nazi era - in its official government-sponsored newspapers. In the last few months the Egyptian paper Al-Akhbar glorified Adolf Hitler "of blessed memory" and mourned the fact that he did not finish the job of killing all the Jews. Even the secular state-run education system in Syria teaches children that it is their duty to wage Jihad against the West - a religious principle rejected by mainstream Muslim orthodoxy and adopted by Muslim extremists only contemporarily. Syrian children are taught that such an act will bring them spiritual rewards and their family abundant material benefits given by the state to the families of martyrs.
Once again, this demonstrates the simple truth so constantly lost on our Middle East policy community: The attack on Jews and Israel is the local spearhead of a broader attack on the West. We have seen this before. Whenever the Jewish people have become the object of a state-run frenzied campaign of hate - such as in the 1930s and again now over the last year - it signals the beginning of a movement that eventually results in a major conflict against America as the ultimate defender of the free world and thus the target of its challengers. It happened in World War II, when the Jews were attacked, and it has happened this way again. As the Egyptian foreign minister yelled last week at the United States and Israeli representatives at the Durban conference: "So what if five or 10 car bombs exploded in Jerusalem?"
Clearly, America is now at war. It surely must strike severely and thoroughly at those who perpetrated Tuesday's horrendous acts. But it must also defeat the larger problem of the reigning anti-American, anti-Western, hatred-ridden revolutionary politics of the region.
It is easy for many leaders in the Middle East to express their condolences now. But where were they on the eve of this attack? Encouraging the forces preparing for the assault, or fueling the fire from which they gather support and sustenance? Our true friends in the region are precious few. They include those who tried to stop or were themselves the victim of the raging climate of hatred, and our enemies are those who, through their constant anti-American and anti-Jewish incitement in state-run institutions and government organs, contributed to creating the climate of evil that led up to this translation from war of words to acts of war. Many of the Middle East governments are now to be indicted. There can be no more excuses or tolerance of their hate-ridden politics.
Meyrav Wurmser was formerly a Senior Fellow with Hudson Institute.