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Jewish World Review March 12, 2002 / 28 Adar, 5762

Diana West

Diana West
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Consumer Reports

The American Auschwitz?

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Ten thousand Muslims can't be wrong: 19 Arab men did not hijack four American airliners and attack the United States on Sept. 11, killing 3,000 people. Silly us for thinking otherwise. Must be our "ruthless ... aggressive ... conceited ... arrogant ... easily provoked and biased" ways again, getting in between us and reality. At least that's how the Gallup Organization's Frank Newport said 9,924 Muslims polled across nine Islamic countries described Americans. Good thing Gallup asked the right people the important question. Now, finally, we know the facts.

Or at least we know the "facts" as the Islamic world "knows" them. This state of pan-Muslim denial -- 61 percent denied an Arab role on Sept. 11 (including a staggering 89 percent in Kuwait), while only 18 percent believed Arabs were at the controls -- is well worth pondering. For one thing, Gallup's other findings are only barely comprehensible in terms of this one seminal incomprehensibility. That is, if 19 Arab hijackers from the Al Qaeda network did not kill 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11, then it makes a certain kind of sense that only 9 percent of those polled would consider military action against Afghanistan morally justified. Who do we think we are anyway, pounding on the Al Qaeda chapter of the Afghanistan Beautification League -- and then incarcerating these Wordsworthian souls at Guantanamo Bay?

You -- ruthless and biased American that you are -- probably think of Guantanamo as a place where hardened terrorists get five prayers, three squares and a daily grilling. Think again. Think injustice. Think Big Injustice.

"This detention camp," Dr. Rif'at Sayyid Ahmad writes in the Lebanese daily Al-Liwa, according to a translation provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute (http://www.memri.org), "reminds me of 'J'accuse,' by Emile Zola."

Whoa: There's thinking out of the Camp X-Ray cage. What could the historic essay that exposed the military conspiracy against Alfred Dreyfus, the Jewish officer in the French Army whose phony treason conviction was undergirded by an institutional anti-Semitism, have to do with the murderous combatants of Mazar-I-Sharif and elsewhere now at Guantanamo?

"History repeats itself, painfully," Dr. Ahmad writes. "This time, we are not talking of a single Dreyfus, but of nearly 2,500 Muslim Dreyfuses ..."

We are? In case Yankee aggression and conceit are gumming up the old mental processes again, it appears that Dr. Ahmad is likening 300 Al Qaeda detainees to "2,500 Muslim Dreyfuses" being held in what he calls "The American Auschwitz." Bear with him: If the Guantanamo prisoners are just Dreyfuses in turbans at Auschwitz, then maybe -- maybe -- it does follow that no Arab men hijacked any airplanes on Sept. 11. What Muslim from Indonesia, Iran, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan or Turkey could think otherwise?

Gallup's results failed to shock those who monitor the government-controlled media of such countries, where blame for Sept. 11 is routinely heaped upon the CIA or, more frequently, the Mossad or Jews generally. Indeed, The New York Times' Thomas "Saudi Peace Plan" Friedman expressed surprise that the denial numbers weren't higher. No doubt they would have been had the regimes of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Morocco actually allowed the Gallup Organization to ask the Arab-complicity question.

These numbers have led to much hand wringing. ABC News reported them as evidence of "how far the U.S. still has to go" to win Muslims over to the war against Islamist terrorism, helpfully highlighting such supposed obstacles in our way as President Bush's "bellicose" language and American support of Israel. But imagine if President Bush had substituted "a thousand points of light" for "axis of evil," and threw in our lot with the Dreyfuses of Hezbollah: Would the world's Muslims then conclude that 19 Arab men committed the atrocity of Sept. 11? Not likely. Such groupthink requires a leap of logic from which there is no return.

Something to bear in mind is that anti-Westernism in the Muslim world predates an American role in the Middle East, even Israel's existence. For example, as the eminent Arabist Bernard Lewis has noted, the rival branches of the Ba'ath Parties now ruling Syria and Iraq began with a Syrian group that formed in 1941 to support a pro-Hitler regime in Baghdad. To this day, Holocaust denial is rife in the region, where even the Fuehrer gets quite good press. ("Thanks to Hitler, of blessed memory, who on behalf of the Palestinians, revenged in advance, against the most vile criminals on the face of the earth," Ahmad Ragab wrote in the Egyptian government daily Al-Akhbar last spring, as translated by http://www.memri.org. "Although we do have a complaint against him for his revenge was not enough.")

Given the casual prevalence of such unbrookable sentiment, it's little wonder that the one area where Gallup found agreement between Muslims and Americans is a shared pessimism for chances of a better understanding evolving between the two cultures. Maybe there are just some things you can't understand.

JWR contributor Diana West is a columnist and editorial writer for the Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

Up


03/08/02: Hating the indoctrination of hate
03/05/02: Clinton and Enron: Old friends
03/01/02: Pickering doesn't polarize, the process does
02/26/02: Destiny's prefabricated child
02/22/02: The White House heist
02/20/02: Making the grade
02/11/02: Studying student visas
02/06/02: Understanding arrogance
02/04/02: The professor's war
01/29/02: Disconnected dialogue
01/23/02: Anti-Indiscrimination
01/18/02: How much is enough?
01/15/02: Oh brothers, where art thou?
01/10/02: Air on the side of caution
01/04/02: Blacks seeing red at Harvard
01/02/02: Clinton's campaign continues
12/26/01: A tale of two exhibitions
12/24/01: Taliban Idyll
12/19/01: Right is right
12/17/01: Hillary strikes out
12/13/01: Lost files, lost presidency
12/10/01: Revolutionaries never grow up
12/05/01: Immigration reform talk is not just for 'haters' anymore
12/03/01: A new symbol of justice
11/30/01: Beyond morality
11/26/01: Can't keep a good man down
11/20/01: Tough talk at the United Nations
11/19/01: Hollywood's other battle
11/14/01: What's the matter with Sara Jane?
11/09/01: A beef with bin Laden's Beef Noodles
11/07/01: Facing up to the FBI's past mistakes
11/02/01: A school that teaches patriots to shutup
10/30/01: The gap between Islam and peace
10/26/01: The ties that bind (and gag)
10/24/01: This war is more than Afghanistan
10/22/01: The fatuous fatwa
10/19/01: Left out
10/16/01: Whose definition of terrorism?
10/11/01: Post-stress disorder
10/08/01: How the West has won
10/01/01: Good, bad or ... diplomacy
09/28/01: Drawing a line in stone
09/21/01: Prejudice or prudence?
09/14/01: When our dead will finally rest in hallowed ground
09/07/01: We want our #$%^&*() audience back!
08/24/01: The transformation from Green Mountain State to Green Activist State is all but complete
08/17/01: Enlightenment at Yale
08/10/01: From oppressors to victims, a metamorphosis
08/03/01: Opening the dormitory door: College romance in the New Century
08/01/01: How-To Hackdom: The dubious art of writing books about writing books
07/20/01: Hemming about Hemmings
07/13/01: Justice has not been served in the Loiuma police brutality case
06/22/01: When PC parades are too 'mainstream'
06/22/01: When "viewpoint discrimination" in our schools was not nearly so gnarly a notion
06/15/01: Lieberman flaunts mantle of perpetual aggrievement
06/07/01: Is graciousness the culprit?
06/01/01: The bright side of the Jeffords defection
05/29/01: Campus liberals should be more careful
05/18/01: 'Honest Bill' Clinton and other Ratheresian Logic
05/11/01: Dodging balls, Bugs, and 'brilliance'
05/04/01: Foot in mouth disease and little lost Tories
04/20/01:The last classic Clinton cover-up
04/20/01: D-Day, Schmee-Day
04/06/01: For heaven's sake, a little decency!
03/30/01: The sweet sound of slamming doors and clucking feminists
03/23/01: America's magazines and the 'ick-factor'
03/09/01: Felony neglect
03/02/01: Who's sorry now?
02/23/01: 'Ecumenical niceness' and other latter-day American gifts to the world
02/16/01: Elton and Eminem: Royal dirge-icist meets violent fantasist
02/12/01: If only ...

© 2001, Diana West