“You will find that the Jews were behind all the civil strife in this world. The Jews are behind the suffering of the nations.”
When and where did that venom come from?
This last May–and out of the hateful mouth of a prominent Palestinian cleric, Sheik Ibrahim Mudeiris. He was broadcast on a Palestinian Authority station.
The televised Sheik finished with an even more frightening thought: “The day will come when everything will be relieved of the Jews–even the stones and trees which were harmed by them…The stones and trees will want the Muslims to finish off every Jew.”
Nothing could be clearer than that promise of another holocaust–and promised explicitly on state-run Palestinian television, a public megaphone of the Palestinian Authority, itself the beneficiary of past and apparently promised future American financial aid.
Still, don’t hold your breath that the passive/aggressive sheik is about to lead a pan-Islamic army a few miles across the border to “finish off every Jew,” since he might then end up like Sheik Ahmed Yassin, whose threats of death earned him instead an early paradise.
Throughout this war we have an understandable, if ethnocentric, habit of ignoring what our enemies actually say. Instead we chatter on, don’t listen, and in self-absorbed fashion impart our own motives for their hatred. We live on the principles of the Enlightenment and so worship our god Reason, thus assuming that even our adversaries accept such rational protocols as their own.
So they talk on and on of beheading, suicide bombing, another holocaust, and blowing thousands of us up, while we snooze, now and again waking in the midst of a war to regurgitate Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, flushed Korans, the abusive Patriot Act, and the latest quip of Donald Rumsfeld.
But again keep quiet, and listen to radical Islam.
Take the August 4 declaration of al Qaeda’s second in command, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri. He promises even “more destruction” for London, and tells us precisely why.
Many in the West assume that those mass murders were payback for the United Kingdom’s presence in Iraq, even though its troops are mostly confined to non-Wahhabi areas in the south.
But no, the Dr. instead lists a number of grievances beyond Iraq that justify his terrorist cadres murdering innocents. One complaint, for example, is “Stopping the robbing of our oil and resources.”
Examine that gripe carefully.
Oil is now at record highs. I just filled up with regular gas at $2.89 on a California interstate. It costs the Middle East about $3-4 a barrel to pump petroleum that was discovered, developed, and marketed for the Gulf autocracies through hated Western expertise–and is now selling at over $60. Despite Zawahiri’s rants, billions of poor the world over are being price gouged to enrich a Muslim world flush with petrodollars.
And some of those obscene profits have ended up in coffers of Zawahiri himself. Indeed, his al Qaeda blackmailers depend on recycled petrodollars from Gulf State sheikdoms. Nothing either he or bin Laden has ever done themselves warrants the type of cash that flowed into al Qaeda’s banks–a con operation that extorted oil dollars from autocratic price gougers who in turn got their revenues largely from inventive and productive Indians, Chinese, and Westerners.
Zawahiri next went on to cite, “Stopping your support for the corrupt and corrupting leaders.”
Did the terrorist Dr. read the text of Condoleezza Rice’s June 20 address in Cairo? There she rightly repudiated past American realpolitik that blinked at Arab dictatorships, and then prodded Arab governments to democratize?
Or maybe it was precisely that fresh support for democracy that grieves Zawahiri?
For clarification of al Qaeda’s ideas about democracy, we can turn to Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, the spiritual leader of the terrorists in Iraq. He recently warned that, “We have declared a fierce war on this evil principle of democracy and those who follow this wrong ideology.”
That pathological hatred of democracy was also amplified in the latest al Qaeda video of August 10: “Democracy, human rights, and freedom are all but hollow illusions, with which they tranquilize inhabitants.”
Western critics of America’s attempt to introduce democratic reconstruction in Iraq should ask why al Qaeda is so furious at the effort. The answer is clear: Radical Islam can no longer blame the United States for propping up dictators, but instead is terrified that there is a third choice–the people’s freedom–between creepy strongmen and even creepier pre-modern theocrats.
But back again to the good Dr. Zawahiri, who had still more complaints beyond oil and corrupt leaders that explain why he, of course, plans on more murdering of Westerners.
“What you have you seen, O Americans, in New York and Washington and the losses you are having in Afghanistan and Iraq, in spite of all the media blackout, are only the losses of the initial clashes.”
And we know precisely what were our perceived pre-September 11 wrongs that caused “New York and Washington” since Dr Zawahiri’s boss, bin Laden himself, spelled them out in a 1998 fatwa.
“The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies–civilians and military–is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip.”
Note that bin Laden omits any reference to American efforts to save Muslim Kuwait (a war in which in vain he also volunteered to fight against Saddam Hussein), to save Balkan Muslims (which his own mujahadeen had failed utterly to do), or to stop the Soviet killing of Afghan Muslims (a war in which his resistance counted on American arms to save his fellow Muslims).
The constant theme of this envious and insecure motor mouth? Americans saved Muslims, while bin Laden’s minions talked big, but couldn’t do much against much stronger Baathist Iraqis, godless Soviets, and nationalist Serbs.
September 11 was the promised answer to bin Laden’s fatwa. Later when America withdrew all troops from the land of Mecca, his death promises increased rather than ceased.
Remember that Dr. Zawahiri lists both Afghanistan (his former headquarters) and Iraq in the same breath as reasons for his attacks to come. We in our civil discord tend to distinguish the two theaters; al Qaeda in its unity does not.
So as we try to assess the causes of Islamists’ venom toward the West, it seems wiser to listen to what they say rather than what we say they say.
If we would do that, we would conclude that the hatred of radical Islam is fed by envy, frustration, and pride–and thus existential: They despise Americans for who we are.
That’s why al Qaeda must constantly find new grievances, whether the West Bank, Israel itself, Jews, oil prices, troops in Saudi Arabia, Oil-for-Food, Afghanistan, or Iraq.
Indeed, the latest two-hour training video is little more than cut-and-paste from the Michael Moore Left and hand-me-downs from Euro anti-globalist radicals. Thus America, al Qaeda assures us, “seeks to ravage the entire globe for the interest…of corporate companies,” and so kills the sons of Islam “in Palestine, Afghanistan, the Balkans, Indonesia, the Caucuses, and elsewhere.”
Apparently about three billion Europeans, Asians, Russians, and Indians have been picking on poor suicide bombers and terrorists, who, in fact, are incognito environmentalists bent on stopping corporate exploitation of Mother Earth.
Yet there is one and only one legitimate objection of the crackpot radical Islamists that rings true: We in the West don’t listen to them when they promise us our deaths.
We should. They are yelling as loud as they can to tell us something that we don’t really want to hear.
–Victor Davis Hanson is a military historian and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His website is victorhanson.com.