Jewish World Review Sept. 24, 2001 / 7 Tishrei, 5762
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- WHAT is at stake today is nothing less than the survival of civilization.
There may be some who would have thought a week ago that to talk in these apocalyptic terms about the battle against international terrorism was to engage in reckless exaggeration. No longer.
Each one of us today understands that we are all targets, that our cities are vulnerable, and that our values are hated with an unmatched fanaticism that seeks to destroy our societies and our way of life.
I am certain that I speak on behalf of my entire nation when I say: Today we are all Americans - in grief, as in defiance.
In grief, because my people have faced the agonizing horrors of terror for many decades, and we feel an instant kinship with both the victims of this tragedy and the great nation that mourns its fallen brothers and sisters.
In defiance, because just as my country continues to fight terrorism in our battle for survival, I know that America will not cower before this challenge.
I have absolute confidence that if we, the citizens of the free world, led by President Bush, marshal the enormous reserves of power at our disposal, harness the steely resolve of a free people and mobilize our collective will - we shall eradicate this evil from the face of the earth.
But to achieve this goal, we must first however answer several questions: Who is responsible for this terrorist onslaught? Why? What is the motive behind these attacks? And most importantly, what must be done to defeat these evil forces?
The first and most crucial thing to understand is this: There is no international terrorism without the support of sovereign states. International terrorism simply cannot be sustained for long without the regimes that aid and abet it.
Terrorists are not suspended in mid-air. They train, arm and indoctrinate their killers from within safe havens on territory provided by terrorist states.
Often, these regimes provide the terrorists with intelligence, money and operational assistance, dispatching them to serve as deadly proxies to wage a hidden war against more powerful enemies.
These regimes mount a worldwide propaganda campaign to legitimize terror, besmirching its victims and exculpating its practitioner - as we witnessed in the farcical spectacle in Durban last month.
Take away all this state support, and the entire scaffolding of international terrorism will collapse into dust.
The international terrorist network is thus based on regimes - Iran, Iraq, Syria, Taliban Afghanistan, Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority and several other Arab regimes such as the Sudan.
These regimes are the ones that harbor the terrorist groups: Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, Hezbollah and others in Syrian-controlled Lebanon, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and recently mobilized Fatah and Tanzim factions in the Palestinian territories and sundry other terror organizations in such capitals as Damascus, Baghdad and Khartoum.
These terrorist states and terror organizations together form a terror network, whose constituent parts support each other operationally as well as politically. For example, the Palestinian groups cooperate closely with Hezbollah, which in turn links them to Syria, Iran and bin Laden.
These offshoots of terror have affiliates in other states that have not yet uprooted their presence, such as Egypt, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
How did this come about? The growth of this terror network is the result of several developments in the last two decades: Chief among them is the Khomeini Revolution and the establishment of a clerical Islamic state in Iran.
This created a sovereign spiritual base for fomenting a strident Islamic militancy worldwide - a militancy that was often backed by terror.
Equally important was the victory in the Afghan war of the international mujahedin brotherhood. This international band of zealots, whose ranks include Osama bin Laden, saw their victory over the Soviet Union as providential proof of the innate supremecy of faithful Muslims over the weak infidel powers. They believed that even the superior weapons of a superpower could not withstand their superior will.
To this should also be added Saddam Hussein's escape from destruction at the end of the Gulf War, his dismissal of U.N. monitors and his growing confidence that he can soon develop unconventional weapons to match those of the West.
Finally, the creation of Yasser Arafat's terror enclave gave a safe haven to militant Islamic terrorist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Like their muhajedin cousins, they drew inspiration from Israel's hasty withdrawal from Lebanon, glorified as a great Muslim victory by the Syrian-backed Hezbollah.
Under Arafat's rule, these Palestinian Islamic terrorist groups made repeated use of suicide bombing, going so far as to run summer camps in Gaza that teach Palestinian children how to become suicide martyrs.
Its adherents, believing in the innate supremacy of Islam, suffered a series of shocks when in the last two centuries that same hated, supposedly inferior West penetrated Islamic realms in North Africa, the Middle East and the Persian Gulf.
For them the mission was clear: The West had to be first pushed out of these areas. Pro-Western Middle Eastern regimes were toppled in rapid succession, including in Iran. And Israel, the Middle East's only democracy and its purest manifestation of Western progress and freedom, must be wiped off the face of the earth.
Thus, the soldiers of militant Islam do not hate the West because of Israel, they hate Israel because of the West.
They see it as an island of Western democratic values in a Muslim-Arab sea. This is why they call Israel the Little Satan, to distinguish it clearly from the country that has always been and will always be the Great Satan - the United States of America.
Nothing better illustrates this better than Osama bin Laden's call for jihad against the United States in 1998. He gave as his primary reason not Israel, not the Palestinians, not the "peace process" - but rather the very presence of the United States "occupying the Land of Islam in the holiest of places." And where is that? "The Arabian peninsula," says bin Laden, where America is "plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers and humiliating its people." Israel, by the way, comes a distant third after "the continuing aggression against the Iraqi people."
For the bin Ladens of the world, Israel is merely a
sideshow. America is the