There have been so many eloquent statements made to commemorate and memorialize the ten-year anniversary of the September 11th attacks, I fear anything I could come up with would shadow in comparison. Today, I want to dedicate this post to the victims of Islamic terrorism, not just the 3,000 who died on this day ten years ago. I am a student of this phenomenon, and today I invite you to join me in this study. I didn't lose family or friends on that day, nor did I fully understand how the events that took place would shape my life. What I did understand, however, was that someone had just declared war on America, and that none of us would ever be the same.
Ten years later, I find myself in Israel, going to graduate school to study the phenomenon of terrorism and its roots in political Islam. I've learned that Islamic extremism is an evil facing the whole world, not just the United States, and I've learned that it is a battle Israel and the Jewish people have been fighting (on behalf of the rest of the world) for much longer than a decade. An Italian journalist, Giulio Meotti, put it this way:
"If 9/11 was conducted by four squads of suicide pilots, in Israel there have been more than 150 suicide attacks carried out. It’s a black hole that in 15 years swallowed up 1,557 people and left 17,000 injured. Israel is a tiny country - a jet can fly from one end to the other in two minutes. If a proportion of the population equivalent to those 1,557 victims were murdered in the US, there would be 53,756 Americans killed."
Read the full op-ed here.
In a post-9/11 society, those who single out Islam as the root of terrorism are labeled "xenophobic" or "racist". It has become impossible to point out the difference between Islam and Islamism- the extremist form of Islam that has spread like a cancer throughout the Arab world. I refuse to dance around it. 9/11 was not a natural disaster, it was not a random act. It was an deliberate attack by Islamists against the United States because of what we stand for- democracy and freedom for all. Islamism is a foe that Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, has been fighting far longer than we have.
Islamism has (cleverly) used the ideals of multiculturalism and acceptance to demonize Israel in the eyes of the world. Israel has been labeled a violator of human rights. An oppressor and occupier. You may have even heard it described as an "apartheid state". Israel is boycotted by universities and public institutions. It is even compared to the Nazi regime. In response to a boycott by the student association at the University of Edinburgh (who had recently boycotted Israel) Dr. Denis MacEoin wrote this letter, saying the following:
"I do not object to well-documented criticism of Israel. I do object when supposedly intelligent people single the Jewish state out above states that are horrific in their treatment of their populations. We are going through the biggest upheaval in the Middle East since the 7th and 8th centuries, and it's clear that Arabs and Iranians are rebelling against terrifying regimes that fight back by killing their own citizens. Israeli citizens, Jews and Arabs alike, do not rebel (though they are free to protest). Yet Edinburgh students mount no demonstrations and call for no boycotts against Libya, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Iran. They prefer to make false accusations against one of the world's freest countries, the only country in the Middle East that has taken in Darfur refugees, the only country in the Middle East that gives refuge to gay men and women, the only country in the Middle East that protects the Bahai's...Need I go on? The imbalance is perceptible...I ask you to show some common sense."
Later this month, on September 20, the Palestinian Authority will go before the United Nations and ask for recognition as a sovereign state. I hope that the world will show some common sense. These are the same people who celebrated in the streets after September 11, 2001.
The scary thing is, they are likely to succeed. Instead of continuing in the negotiation process with Israel, the Palestinians are circumventing the accepted channels and going straight to the U.N. "Why shouldn't they?" you might ask. Well, let's take a moment to learn about how the UN might be biased against Israel. This video lays it out pretty clearly:
There are important things happening in our world today. As an American living in Israel, I am proud to say that I can call both of these countries home- democracies that protect the rights of all people, regardless of religion, color, or race. I am sickened by the memory of what happened ten years ago, but more than that I am inspired by the knowledge that those responsible haven't won. The war is far from over, but hopefully my life can play a small part in the solution. I dedicate the steps I take from here on out to the victims of terror, to the brave men and women who every day choose to put their lives on the line for the rest of us. And I hope that I can contribute in some small way to fight against those men and women who would sacrifice their own lives in an effort to inflict terror on others.