There are several problems facing the United States as it formulates a response to last week's terrorist attack. Among them is knowing who should be a part of the anti-terror coalition the Bush administration is seeking to create. Another is the hatred for America taught throughout much of the Arab world, including in some of those nations Secretary of State Colin Powell has suggested might be welcomed into the coalition.
Yasser Arafat, whom the State Department has suggested might be part of the battle against terrorism, heads an organization that has spewed hate at the United States and bullets and bombs at Israel for decades. The Mufti of Jerusalem, appointed by Arafat, has called on Allah to destroy America, which, he says, "is controlled by Zionist Jews." Sheik Hamed Al-Bitawi, head of the Palestine Association of Religious Scholars has said, "The U.S. and Israel are the source of terrorism in the world."
Only days prior to the Sept. 11 attacks, suicide bombers were exalted in the official Palestinian Authority daily, Al Hayat Al Jadida. On Aug. 30, Omar Helm Ghul wrote in Al-Ayyam: "(The Palestinians must) harm American interests in the Arab world, with all possible means, in all places, at all levels, because the United States does not understand the language of logic and wisdom, but only the language of interests and force."
Most Arab newspapers are either controlled by, or supportive of their respective dictatorial governments. One wonders how serious these governments are about fighting terrorism when inflammatory editorials appear.
Columnist Mahmoud Abd Al-Mun'im Murad, of the Egyptian-government sponsored daily, Al-Akhbar, wrote recently: "The Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor must be destroyed. ..." He further announced that "the age of the American collapse has begun," and that Colin Powell "has the brain of a bird," is "stupid" and "a liar." Al-Akhbar has also carried blatantly racist statements about Powell, which forced Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to apologize.
This venom comes from a supposedly "moderate" Arab country. There is much worse in other media throughout the Arab world.
In many Arab schools, hatred for Jews and the United States is drummed into children from the earliest grades. A seventh-grade Palestinian Authority textbook says: "(Islam) will defeat all other religions and it will be disseminated, by Allah's will, through the Muslim Jihad fighters." An 11th-grade text in a PA school portrays Western civilization as corrupt, predicting it will end eventually, if not immediately, "in a pile of rubble."
How does the United States combat this indoctrination of children? Where are the voices of "moderate" Muslims denouncing such sentiments?
Other problems in need of examination include the training of pilots from Arab nations within our borders and at U.S. military bases overseas. The State Department's policy has been that training Arab pilots would make them like us and they would become a modifying influence on their governments when they returned home.
Our intelligence system needs a complete overhaul. A proper budget, which was eviscerated by people who thought no threats to America existed or that spying was distasteful, must be restored. According to the London Sunday Telegraph, the CIA and FBI ignored a warning from the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad, whose representatives traveled to Washington last month with an urgent warning that a cell of up to 200 terrorists in the U.S. was planning a major operation here. We should obliterate such cells wherever they exist.
Our government should also consider using The Voice of America, or some other source, to broadcast to Islamic nations. Responsible Islamic clerics could teach from the Koran how terrorist leaders have misinterpreted that book. When others have acted heretically in the name of their religions, responsible leaders within those faiths have condemned the acts and read relevant portions from their religious books to enlighten even their followers.
One thinks of "Christians" who have shot abortionists or Jewish extremists who have assassinated Palestinians. Their violent and ungodly acts were rightly condemned by leaders within their own faiths.
While the administration considers a military response to the terrorism on U.S. soil, these are some of the nonmilitary challenges that must be met if security is to be maintained in our land.
Cal Thomas writes for Tribune Media Services.
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