Monday, July 24, 2006

The March of Militant Islam "The cauldron of the Israeli conflict is flaring, scalding the surrounding desert. The hands stoking the fire underneath belong to militant Islam. Jihad has different meanings, but the only meaning that concerns us today is “Holy War.” In the words of esteemed Pakistani writer, Ahmed Rashid: These new Islamic fundamentalists are not interested in transforming a corrupt society into a just one, nor do they care about providing jobs, education, or social benefits to their followers or creating harmony between the various ethnic groups that inhabit many Muslim countries. The new jihadi groups have no economic manifesto, no plan for better governance and the building of political institutions, and no blue-print for creating democratic participation in the decision-making process of the future Islamic states. They depend on a single charismatic leader, an amir, rather than a more democratically constituted organization or party for governance. They believe that the character, piety, and purity of their leader rather than his political abilities, education, or experience will enable him to lead the new society. Thus has emerged the phenomenon of the cults of Mullah Muhammad Omar of the Taliban, Osama bin Laden of Al Qaeda, and Juma Namangani of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.[Ahmed Rashid in JIHAD, The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia.]Although Israel is the center of world attention today, she is only one of many targets for militant Islam. A quick trip around the world to inventory a trail of strife and death shows that Israel is only a face in the targeted-crowd. Last week, about 200 people were killed and 700 wounded by simultaneous terrorist bombings in Mumbai. India is the most unlikely democracy in the world, with its amalgam of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs and others. During each of my long excursions there, I was amazed at how the peace holds together. But it does, mostly, and India, despite many obstacles, continues to develop its place in the global new world. Yet our Indian friends have long suffered at the hands of militant Islam, demonstrating this week again the often overlooked fact that nobody suffers worse at the hands of militant Muslims than other Muslims. India is overwhelmingly Hindu, though about 150 million Muslims live there, which equals nearly the entire population of Pakistan. Most of these Indian Muslims are peaceful, yet clusters of militants in Pakistan, Kashmir and India keep picking, picking, picking. The subcontinent is one of the most dangerous places on Earth for festering wounds because India and Pakistan both possess nuclear weapons. We don’t have to worry about India, but only a weak thread keeps those weapons out of dangerous hands in Pakistan. One thing is certain: Jews in Israel are not to blame for the murderous rage of militant Muslims in India, and India is at this hour blaming Pakistan. The Russians regularly bleed at the hands of Islamic militants. Terrorists invaded a school in Beslan, holding more than a thousand students, teachers and staff hostage. When the shooting and explosions ended, more than 350 were dead and more than 700 wounded; most of the victims were children. The terrorists may have been addicted to heroin or morphine; the Russians say drugs were found in their blood. That many terrorists are heavy drug users, particularly as they approach the date with their own planned death, is not widely known, but our troops in Iraq have found drug use to be part of the fact pattern of homicide bomb attacks. Whether any narcotic substance was used to grease the slope to slaughtering children, the Jews in Israel had no connection to these attacks. Even China has a cluster of militant Muslims who have left bomb craters for footprints. The Euro-rhetoric that claims our foreign policy is to blame for the rise in terrorism cannot account for the problems in China. Thailand, in the southern region, finds peaceful Buddhists suffering from the bombs of militant Islam. The Jews in Israel cannot be blamed for the bombing in Bali, Indonesia that killed about 200 tourists, including my friend Beata Pawlak, in one attack. Over in the Philippines: much trouble, more bombs, and corpses and crime scenes smeared with the bloody rhetoric of militant Islam. The Jews in Israel or our support for them did not cause any of this. Bold leap to Canada, one of the most peaceful and tolerant nations, but hardly a second home for the world Jews; attacks were narrowly averted recently. Down to New York, which might qualify for that homeland claim, buildings collapse. Pennsylvania, people crater into the earth. Washington D.C., hijacked bodies slam into the Pentagon. Bin Laden has been on the record saying he murders because infidels occupy holy land. Al-Qaeda mentions Israel as an afterthought, when reaction to their attacks in the world seems for a brief moment almost unified and resolved. But television cameras captured the footage of militant Palestinian Muslims cheering the news of the attacks and chanting victoriously in the streets. Across the Atlantic, our friends in Europe are frequent victims. In the south: BOOM! Madrid, another metro hit, like in India. London: BOOM! Metro and bus attacks: similar to India, similar to Israel, similar to France. Germany and France have been hit again and again. Paris may not have been burning but most of France recently cowered in the face of the flames of militant Muslim youth. Danish people, who pride themselves on tolerance, were burned out of embassy because a cartoonist depicted Mohammed in ways intended to be comical, if cynical. The results were bloody. American flags were burned over Danish cartoons, and many people could not help mentioning “foreign policy” and Israel to excuse barbaric behavior, though the cause of the riots and deaths was militant reaction to a cartoon from Europe. In peaceful Holland, a Dutch filmmaker dared raise a questioning hand, with the following result: On the morning of Nov. 2 in a busy street in east Amsterdam, a 26-year-old Dutch Moroccan named Mohammed Bouyeri pulled out a gun and shot controversial filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who was riding a bike to his office. Van Gogh hit the ground and stumbled across the street to a nearby building. He didn’t make it. As the Moroccan strode toward him, van Gogh shouted, “We can still talk about it! Don’t do it! Don’t do it.” But the Moroccan didn’t stop. He shot him again, slit van Gogh’s throat and stuck a letter to his chest with a knife. He was slaughtered like an animal, witnesses said. “Cut like a tire,” said one. Van Gogh, the Dutch master’s great-grand-nephew, was 47 years old. [—The silencing of Theo van Gogh] Unfortunately, Mr. van Gogh did not grasp the nature of this philosophy: “We can still talk about it! Don’t do it! Don’t do it.” Only bad math would attribute US foreign policy toward Israel into van Gogh’s murder. East, over to Iran, is an insane President who states that the Holocaust never occurred. He would like to make a Holocaust today by destroying Israel, and his scientists and engineers are working on the nuclear bombs to do it. At the current rate, this is scheduled to be the first national-suicide attack, where an entire nation straps a nuclear weapon(s) onto its body and then slams into Israel. If this day comes to pass, countries like Syria and Iran will suddenly cease to exist. Consider now the question of Israel. Islamic terrorists often cite US support for Israel as the cause of their anger. They are lying. They don’t care about the Palestinians. The Palestinians are pawns and excuses. Saddam Hussein “cared” about Palestinians, and he focused his charity by giving bonuses to the families of homicide bombers. His sponsorship of terrorism welled up from ancient land disputes between Arabs and Jews. But he used Palestinian pawns to attack Jews in a desperate ploy to curry favor with Hamas leaders, lest they begin to concern themselves with all their Shia brethren piled into mass graves in the Iraq desert. Attacking Israel while crying crocodile tears for Palestinians has been an effective drill for tapping into wells of anti-Semitism, for polarizing the United Nations, NATO and the EU, which then become embroiled in impassable stalemates that render these organizations inert. This lesson was not lost on Saddam’s closest neighbor and worst enemy: Iran. When Israel defends itself, the world denounces it and cries the same crocodile tears for the Palestinians. The phrase “Never again” has special meaning to a people who have been repeated targets for genocide. But the fact is, like the Iraqi Kurds who have seized on their new peace and run fast with it, if people stop shooting at Israelis, they will stop shooting back. This current situation looks like an endless cycle of attack and reciprocation, but the Israelis will stop if the other sides will stop. But Hezbollah, Hamas and others will not stop. These recent attacks and kidnappings were unprovoked. By Israel, that is. The only common thread to all the violence described in this dispatch is militant Islam. Not Islam. Militant Islam. Militant Muslims around the globe are waging war against anything different, be it the Buddhists’ carvings destroyed by the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Hindus burned alive on trains in India, or Sunni against Shia in Iraq. This is not about Islam; this is not rooted in even a most fundamentalist reading of the Quran. The pattern is clear, says Dr. Wafa Sultan [video]: The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions, or a clash of civilizations. It is a clash between two opposites, between two eras. It is a clash between a mentality that belongs to the Middle Ages and another mentality that belongs to the 21st century. It is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality. It is a clash between freedom and oppression, between democracy and dictatorship. It is a clash between human rights, on the one hand, and the violation of these rights, on other hand. It is a clash between those who treat women like beasts, and those who treat them like human beings. What we see today is not a clash of civilizations. Civilizations do not clash, but compete.

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