The United States was struck by a disaster unlike any other in modern history. A disaster, though likened to Pearl Harbor by some American writers and analysts, is in fact much more severe and has far more impact. It is an indication of what the American community will have to face in the future.
School children are using machine guns to murder their classmates and teachers. This is what has happened in the United States and nowhere else. It has happened not only once, but several times, and it’s spreading.
Two weeks ago, in the United States, the perpetrator of the Oklahoma FBI building bombing was executed. Hundreds of American citizens were killed in that explosion. During his trial he said he was targeting the unjust American system.
Several years ago the American army and National Guard surrounded the premises of a religious cult. The members of this cult were living in a large complex where they practiced their rituals as they wished. The siege of this complex and the military operation accompanying it went on for a long time. The situation ended in the mass suicide of the cult’s members.
In Japan, a group released toxic gasses in the underground subways, killing innocent people, because the members of this group believed that the Day of Resurrection had come.
Hundreds of Americans gathered in Jerusalem because they believed that the end of the year 2000 would bring the end of the world. They also believed that the destruction of the Al-Aqsa mosque was a sign of this end. They came to destroy Al-Aqsa so their prophecy could be fulfilled. This illustrates the madness of consumer-based and technologically advanced communities.
In Israel, money laundering mafias are fighting in Tel Aviv’s cafés at night, bombing each other and waging a war of organized terror against an entire people. Destroying, killing, burning, uprooting trees, and using American F-16 and improved F-16 planes, air-to-ground and air-to-air missiles against unarmed civilians. Using Apache helicopters to fire guided missiles through windows and killing leaders. All ammunition used is American and British.
Is it not time now, after the New York disaster, for the Americans to realize that terrorism is unacceptable, whether it’s carried out by terrorist organizations, terrorist individuals or a state like Israel? Israel is carrying out organized terrorism against peace-loving unarmed people using an army armed with advanced American weaponry.
Terrorism needs to be combated both in rich countries with a surfeit of wealth, whose wealth breeds its own diseases, and in those facing extreme growing poverty forced upon them by occupation. They have been robbed of their ability to grow and hold out by occupation both in the past and in the present.
I rush to point out that Israel will, regardless of who committed this despicable crime, find in it an excuse to escalate its terrorist aggression against the Palestinian people. Right wing extremists in the Israeli government and army command, trying to mask their defeat in South Lebanon, will escalate their aggression and begin to annex large parts of the West Bank to Israel.
All this will be done under the pretext of creating military buffer zones between the West Bank and Israel. The Israeli army will, when the opportunity arises, evict tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians from their lands and homes using the pretext of creating military areas. The army will announce its plans to issue the landowners with special permits allowing them to work on their lands for eight hours a day provided they leave immediately after that. What in fact will happen is that they will not be allowed to return, and will be shot at if they try to return, under the pretext that they looked suspicious.
This is what the Israeli government will do. It has in fact started implementing this plan in Jenin, Arraba, Tamoun and Yaa’bad in the north of the West Bank. These are all sensitive areas due to their proximity to the sea, and to heavily populated Israeli coastal cities. We do, however, hope this will not happen.
If there is proof of Arab or Islamic involvement in the terrorist operations in New York and Washington, then Sharon and his government will feel free to carry out wider operations, not only against the Palestinians, but also against distant countries such as Iran, Iraq and even Pakistan. This way Israel will feel it has achieved its goals and won the final round in its joint battle with the United States against the Arab oil influence.
It has become apparent that it is going to take quite some time to arrive at the truth of what happened at the criminal lethal operations in New York and Washington. Even though Israel is confident that the mastermind of the operation is Osama Bin Laden, it will not be official until evidence is found to prove his involvement.
Until such evidence is presented, Israel will continue to fuel American public opinion against Arabs and Moslems. It will use all the tricks and ploys that we have come to know all too well but that are, unfortunately, tricks the average American citizen will fall for.
All the stories circulating about finding a Quran and Arabic writings, and the arrest of a man and his wife (of Arab origin) in Boston suspected of housing two of the hijackers é these are all part of those same ploys.
Common sense dictates that we wait for the results of the American investigation. Both Collin Powel and President Bush have stated that the perpetrators of these operations are not as yet known.
Arabs should tread carefully. If Israel is using the lack of evidence to throw suspicion on Arabs, then the Arabs should use this same tactic against all those who try to incriminate them and try to bring them to court on the charges of incitement or slander etc.
As for what is happening on the ground in Palestine, the approach must be different. Palestinians should stand up to the Israeli incursions taking place under cover of the collapse of the World Trade Center and the charges being made against Arab and Islamic terrorism.
Escalation can only be met with escalation, and with exposing Israeli tactics. At the same time, we must all, Arabs and Palestinians, increase our determination to beat the Israeli deception é this can and must happen.
“For example”, the Israeli Foreign Ministry decided to circulate more than a quarter of a million videotapes showing Palestinians celebrating the World Trade Center explosion. The truth is that the footage taken was of kids who are unaware of the political and humanitarian aspects of these criminal acts. Israel decided to use these tapes to paint a picture of a frightening terrorist Palestinian, be he an adult or a minor.
On the other hand, satellite channels paid no attention to the candle light procession that took place yesterday and headed for the American Consulate in Jerusalem. In this march were Palestinian men, women and children all expressing grief and solidarity with the American people.
These hostile media channels also paid no attention to the long queue forming behind President Yasser Arafat é all waiting to donate blood as he did to help out the American casualties. This despite the enormous amount of Palestinian blood shed by the Israeli terrorists.
Thus, we see the following needs to be done in this delicate tactical phase:
1- Arrange to have political ads published in all the American newspapers, especially those read by citizens of average U.S. towns, expressing Arab grief and solidarity with the Americans.
2- Arrange to have broadcast, as an ad if needs be, scenes from the candle light procession, the Palestinian blood drive, the Moslem and Christian prayers held for the souls of those perished and their prayers for the safety of those missing.
3- A series of well presented and informative ads portraying settlers, settlements and how they are a main cause of the problem
4- A series of ads showing the Palestinian suffering in the face of Israeli terrorism. How many children killed, how many trees uprooted, how many houses destroyed by the Israeli army. How much land the Palestinians gave up and how little is left. How much more Palestinian land Sharon intends to confiscate.
There are many Arab institutions located in the United States that could carry out such activities, if funding was made available through the Arab League or Arab countries.
If the coast is clear for Israelis to do as they wish, long-lasting strategical damage will occur.
Bassam Abu-Sharif is a special advisor to President Arafat.