Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Mumbai - Globalization - Israel/Palestine

This is a rough translation of an article that appears in today's issue of the Dutch daily Reformatorisch Dagblad.
Globalization 'at its best'
The main characteristic of the tragic events in Mumbai was chaos. For three days we saw the same images full of fear and disorder, and received a continuous flow of information that mostly turned out to be incorrect or incomplete. Pure angst and disarray; the terrorists scored some important points, again. The attacks were prepared carefully and appear to have been carried out according to a well thought-out plan. The terrorists looked specifically for Western – particularly American and British – victims. It seems improbable that American and Israeli Jews – who were clearly recognizable as such, and who worked and lived in a visible and well known Jewish center – became victims by chance. Still, we should not forget that most victims were not Westerners, but Indians. Two of the first sites that were attacked were the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and the Cama hospital. After all, terrorists hate everybody who does not subscribe to (one of) their own absolutist, nihilist brand(s) of Islam. Americans, Jews, Westerners, Hindus,Buddhists, Shi'ites or Sunnis, moderate or simply dissentient Muslims, atheists: in the Islamists' eyes we are all Tweedledum and Tweedledee. They seize upon regional conflicts as grounds for their activities ( see for instance: Chechnya, Kashmir, Afghanistan, Lebanon ), but if such a conflict can not serve as a pretext they will effortlessly find another subterfuge: the fate of the Palestinians, American or Jewish imperialism, Western decadence, you name it and they will find a reason to sacrifice themselves or other Muslims, and to murder unbelievers. The number and diversity of targets that were hit in Mumbai indicate that those who planned and executed this had multiple goals. More than anything, this was a successful show of force: once again it has been made clear that Islamist terrorists can hit almost whenever and wherever they want. Terror is globalization 'at its best'. Ironically the US, the ultimate ‘national symbol’ of globalization, often is a prefered target, because the world loves to hate the Americans. Whoever thought that the hatred against America will diminish under Obama was fooling himself. Muslim fanatics could not care less who lives in the White House, just as they do not care whether or not the Palestinians have a state of their own, if Muslims in the West are discriminated against, or whether the average Muslim in Kashmir, Bosnia or anywhere else will get a better life, autonomy or whatever. Nevertheless, as long as they manage to convince us that their struggle really is only about this or that one, limited cause, some of us believe that we can take the wind out of the terrorists' sails by admitting that they have a point or by letting them have their way. The terror acts in the Indian metropole last week proved once more that extremist Muslims – of various sorts – cooperate within local, regional and international networks, and that they think globally. There are no ready-made, one-size-fits-all solutions that will beat them in the short run. Does that mean that nothing can and should be done? Of course not. We just should not have any illusions about terrorists stopping their work before they achieve all their goals. Terrorism is a global problem that ought to be fought, and particularly condemned, on a global scale: there is no acceptable excuse for acts of terror. As opposed to seven years ago, last week I hardly read or heard about a direct link between, on the one hand, the terror attacks and, on the other, the existence of the Jewish state and American support for that state. Besides Israel and US policies for the Middle East, after 9/11 also poverty and the unfair distribution of global wealth were named as possible causes of Islamist terror. Regarding the latter pseudo-rationalization a reader of the International Herald Tribune wrote very accurately that even the mere suggestion of such a connection was an insulting slap in the face of all poor citizens of the world. Something similar applies to the Palestinians: they deserve better 'brothers' than the masters of terror, and better 'support' than justifications for that terror. I will definitely applaud an end to Israel's settlement policy and the establishment of a Palestinian state. Not only the Palestinians but also ( and especially, I have to be honest ) the Israelis will profit from that. After all, the occupation has a disastrous influence on Israel, just as or even more than it is disastrous for the Palestinians. Besides, in a post-occupation reality the Islamist terrorists will have one less, very useful, excuse for their crimes. But whoever keeps on insisting after Mumbai ( London, Moscow, Madrid, New York, Algiers, Bali, Cassablanca, Beslan, Delhi, Baghdad, and the list goes on and on ) that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict ( i.e. either Israel's occupation of the Westbank, the Golan Heights, and/or East-Jerusalem, or the very existence of the Jewish state ) is the root cause of Islamist terror, walks around with his eyes shut. Or (s)he simply wants to justify terror, at any cost.

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