Root Causes of Terrorism

by David Meir-Levi

Many of our contemporary intellectual and political leaders are continually in anguish trying to figure out what the U.S. has done to make so much of the Arab/Moslem world hate us. They desperately search for the ways they believe the U.S. is responsible for triggering terrorism against itself. The terrorists and their supporters, meanwhile, knowing that the West perpetually looks for reasons to blame itself, provide the world with many compelling -- but false -- reasonns why the West should be blamed in the terror war. If we accept these faux explanations uncritically, we shift our focus in the war against global terrorism and the terrorists will have a much easier time defeating us.

In order for us to be able to fight -- and win -- this terror war effectively, we must discredit the false explanations of why Islamists wage war on our free societies. It is a priority, therefore, that we highlight how the enemies of Western freedom are not telling the truth. And we can do that by dealing with the following issues concretely:

Who is the enemy?

The State Department defines the enemy for us. Its website lists those defined as terrorist groups and terrorist leaders worldwide. Almost all of them are Moslem. Almost all of these Moslems are Arabs. Many non-Arab Moslem groups have carried out terror attacks in conjunction with Arab Moslem groups, or with Arab Moslem leaders. The recent Beslan carnage is an example of a non-Arab Moslem group with Arab (Saudi, to be more specific) leaders.

In his ground-breaking book The Clash of Civilizations, Samuel Huntington lists scores of conflicts caused by Moslems: Bosnia, Kosovo, Turks vs. Greeks, Turks vs. Armenians, Chechens vs. Russia, Ingush vs. Ossetians, Bangladeshi Moslems vs. Buddhists, Myanmar Moslems vs. Buddhists, Indonesian and Malaysian Moslems vs. ethnic Chinese, Thai Moslems vs. their Buddhist government, Moslem East Timor government represses Catholic Indonesians, Chad and Kenya, and Tanzanian Moslems attack Christian groups in Nigeria.

In addition, many current conflicts have been initiated and maintained by Moslem forces: Afghanistani Taliban and al-Qaeda, Mauritanian slavery, Sudanese slavery, Sudan's 19-year civil war, Ivory Coast's recent revolt, Nigeria's 10-year war, Algeria's 10-year war, Ethiopia vs. Eritrea, Iraqis vs. Kurds, 8 years of the Iran-Iraq War, then Kuwait, Lebanon's 27-year occupation by Syria, Lebanon's 12-year occupation by the PLO, The PLO's war against Jordan (1967-70), Pakistan vs. India in Kashmir, Indonesia (with Bali the latest manifestation), Arabs vs. Jews in Israel, jihad in Philippines, Islamists in Daghestan, Uighur in China, Islamic extremists in Uzbekistan, Ditto in Pakistan, Thailand's Moslem insurrection, Chechnya and Arab/Moslem involvement in Beslan, Syrian training grounds for terrorists of all creeds, colors, Iraq "insurgency" (Syrian, Iranian and Saudi terrorists), and al-Qaeda in Somalia.

According to Huntington, Moslems participated in 26 of 50 ethno-political conflicts in 1993 alone. In that year, the New York Times identified 48 locations in which a total of 59 ethnic conflicts occurred. Half of these were Moslems fighting Moslems, and most of the rest were Moslems fighting non-Moslems (NY Times, 2/7/93, pp. 1 & 14, per Huntington). Similar independent analysis quoted by Huntington for that same year shows that between two-thirds and three-quarters of all the conflicts in the world were Moslems against Moslems, or Moslems against non-Moslems.

Compilations of data for ensuing years also revealed that during the early 1990s, Moslems were engaged in more inter-group violence than any other group.

From 1928 to 1979, statistics indicate that Moslem states resorted to violence to handle problems and crises more than 53 percent of the time. During the same time period, the UK used force 11.5 percent, the USA 17.9 percent, and the USSR 28.5 percent. Only China exceeded the Moslem propensity for violence, using force to solve problems 76.9 percent of the time.

It is important to recall that Moslems make up only about 20 percent of the world's population. Yet we see that Moslem countries contribute to the majority of the violence in the world today. Moreover, Arabs make up only about 5 percent of the world's population, yet we witness the phenomenon of Arabs in leadership roles in many, if not most, of the Moslem conflicts, including conflicts emanating from those Moslem countries that are not Arab. We also witness Arab countries that host, train, fund, shelter, supply, and deploy Moslem terrorists.

In sum, "Muslim bellicosity and violence are late 20th century facts which neither Muslims nor non-Muslims can deny," as Huntington aptly argues. And the situation has only gotten worse in the early 21st century. Even Saudi and Pakistani commentators have pointed out that while not all Moslems are terrorists, almost all terrorists are Moslems... and most of these are Arabs.

These Arabs lead the charge against Israel, the Jews, the USA, Western civilization, Christians, other non-Moslems, and even against fellow Moslems who are deemed not "Moslem enough." This global terrorist movement has been termed Islamist or ihadist, as distinct from the vast majority of Moslems who are peaceful people and do not seek to subjugate the world to Islam. Some have come up with the term Islamofascist to demonstrate the similarities between the Islamist movement and that of the Nazis (inter alia, commitment to genocide of Jews, world domination, belief in superiority of their own religion/culture, belief in their right to rule). In short, the Islamofascist replaces Deutschland uber alles with Islam uber alles.


The "roots causes" of terrorism

1) Poverty?

The most frequently mentioned "root cause" of Arab hatred and pursuant terrorist assaults is poverty. This Marxist explanation is very seductive. Waging a war against poverty is far more appealing than waging a war against extremist Moslems. But we need to keep the following in mind:

A) The most poverty-stricken areas of the world (south American indigenous, sub-Saharan Africa, parts of east Asia and India) have produced no terrorism -- or almost no terrorists.

B) Almost all terror leaders and many terror perpetrators are or were rich, or at least middle class. Osama bin Laden is a multi-millionaire, Zawahiri is a doctor, and Mohammed Atta, the leader of the 9/11 terrorists, was a dentist.

C) The most poverty-stricken populations in the Arab world are in the countries where the rulers live in luxury and keep 90 percent of the country's income for their egregiously luxurious life-style, or for the enhancement of their WMD's and conventional arsenals, while their people starve (Arabia, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Saddam's Iraq). So if poverty is the cause of hatred and terrorism is spawned by that hatred, then why are not the poor of these countries flying airplanes into the palaces of their evil rulers?

The fact is that although poverty may assist in the recruitment of terrorists, it is not a "root cause" of terrorism.

2) Hopelessness, desperation and lack of opportunity?

Liberal, humanitarian Americans can really get behind a war against hopelessness.

But terror groups draw their leadership and rank-and-file from all classes of society. The middle and upper classes in 2nd- and 3rd-world countries are far from hopeless or desperate. Even the lower classes in at least some these countries have opportunities to migrate to countries offering better opportunity (hence the tens of millions that knock on our doors, or slip illegally through our southern and northern borders, or relocate to Europe, every year).

As noted above, many of the Palestinian suicide bombers have been well-to-do or even rich men; many of them are high school or college educated professionals with careers -- far from hopeless or desperate.

Even in the case of recruits from refugee camps where hopelessness may be a serious factor in defining the lives and futures of young people there, let's recall that they have been forced to stay in those camps by their host governments (not by Israel and not by the USA), while much of the aid given to these populations by UNRWA is funded by the USA. So why is it that the hopeless and impoverished in these camps, out of the desperation of their hopelessness and lack of opportunity imposed upon them by their own corrupt and inhumane rulers, are not flying airplanes into the government buildings of the dictators who have oppressed them for 50 years?

Consider as well one of several countervailing examples: hundreds of thousands of Burmese have been in refugee camps in Thailand, hopeless, poverty-stricken, desperate, for more than 20 years -- terrorism doesn't not hold sway there.

Like "poverty," "hopelessness/desperation" cannot be a root cause. But it is a great distraction from the real nature of terrorism.

3) Fury at the West's "mistreatment" of Moslems?

This is perhaps the most frequent and vociferous of false causes. It sounds reasonable until one takes even the briefest look at the reality of the Moslem world:

A) Moslems kill Moslems by the millions and no one in the Arab world cares.

Saddam killed far more Moslems than any other leader in the world at any time in history (1,200,000 during his 32 year reign = 3,125 per month, on average), but he is a hero to many in the Arab world. Saddam killed thousands of children, letting them starve to death in the streets of his cities, while he used the Oil-for-Food money to rebuild his army and replenish his WMD arsenal. Yet Osama justifies his terror attacks by blaming the West, and especially the USA, for the deaths of those children.

Mauritania and Sudan legally enslave Moslems, but no one in the Arab and Muslim world seems to care (except the enslaved).

Syria's occupation of Lebanon (1975-2005) has wrecked the country, destroyed the economy, killed literally tens of thousands, rendered close to a million homeless, but both Hafez and young Bashir are doyens of Arab leadership.

Arafat killed, imprisoned, or tortured far more Palestinians than Israel, yet he was adulated as a modern Saladin.

The Algerian government has maintained a 10-year war against Islamist Moslem Brotherhood groups that seek to replace the secular Algerian government with Shari'a law and Islamofascist rule. This war has resulted in the deaths of 200,000 and left a million homeless (due to government retaliation when there is an attack on government forces: level the entire village from which the attack came, kill thousands and render the survivors homeless). Yet no one in the Arab world cries out at the terrible slaughter of Moslem Arabs by the Algerian army.

Sudanese Arabs have killed almost 2,000,000 Christian Arabs, black African Moslems, and Animists in their 21-year war, erroneously or misleadingly described by the western media as a civil war. In actuality, it is a genocide by the Moslem Arab north against the Christian, Moslem and animist black African south. This is part of a vast land-grab strategy now spearheaded by the mounted Janjaweed militias that are indiscriminately killing tens of thousands of black African Moslems in the western province of Darfur. They terrify and murder these people, so that the survivors will flee and the Arab Moslem gentry will take their lands. Two million dead and millions more homeless refugees... and until just recently, no one seemed to care.

The Wahhabi Saudi royal family's security forces have killed hundreds of thousands of Shi'ite Arabs over the past few decades. No one in the Arab world is threatening to fly planes into their buildings. [1]

B) The USA defends Moslems and the Arab world does not notice.

When Christians attacked Moslems in Bosnia, the Arab world was silent. Serbs massacred 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica 10 years ago, but not a ripple disturbed the serene calm of Muslim opinion. Western Europe would not take up arms against the Christian Serbs to save Moslems, so the USA did instead. We will never know how many thousands or tens of thousands of lives were saved by U.S. intervention in Bosnia -- but it hardly seems to matter. The Arab world still demonizes us.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq in Gulf War 1 was an operation that saved two religious Islamic countries (Kuwait and Saudi Arabia) from conquest by a totalitarian Iraq.

C) Moslem countries support Russia, which oppresses Moslems.

Chechnya has been ravaged by Russian occupation for decades, yet last October, the Muslim summit in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) gave a hero's welcome to Vladimir Putin, the man who has presided over the massacre of more Chechen Moslems than anyone in any other period in Russian history.

D) U.S. and Western money has supported the Arab and Moslem world for decades.

The USA, EU, UK and UN (with predominantly western money) have supported Moslems, Moslem states, and Moslem causes for 50 years. Far from having neglected or marginalized these countries, U.S. aid to Moslem countries throughout the world has been in the billions per year for decades (despite the fact that some of these same countries oppose us in the UN, vilify us in their media and sermons, and provide support and haven for the same terrorists that want to destroy us). Egypt alone receives almost $3 billion per year from the USA.

A large part of Egypt's population is alive today because of the millions of tons of free wheat that Eisenhower gave them in the 50's when Nasser's coup left their economy in a shambles.

The EU has given 50 percent of its foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority for the past ten years, even while knowing that most of those billions were being used to fund terror.

Of the billions and billions of dollars coming through the UN to UNRWA for Palestinian refugees, approximately 30 percent comes from the USA alone, while only about 3 percent comes from the Arab world. But none of the terrorist spokespersons faults the Saudis for not being generous enough, or thanks us for our assistance.

In sum, even the most superficial glance as the last 50 years of USA-Moslem interaction demonstrates that far from attacking Islam or ignoring the plight of Moslems, the USA has been a strong supporter and defender of the weak, poor, hopeless, and helpless in the Arab world ... and what good does that do us when the Islamofascists shriek about America's war against Islam? Right now there are 22 active conflicts across the globe in which Arabs are at cause, but Islamofascist propaganda publicizes only those conflicts that can be twisted and spun to provide excuses for fomenting hatred against the United States.

An excellent example is the recent spate of vitriolic anti-American demonstrations (in which scores died) throughout the Moslem world as expression of rage about the as yet uncorroborated report that some American official in Guantanamo may have flushed a Quran down a toilet. Surely disrespecting sacred text is wrong but the Saudi government authorizes the burning of Christian Bibles to the tune of 30,000 per year, confiscated from Christians in Arabia.

Sunni Moslem terrorists have routinely blown up Shi'ite Moslem Mosques with Shi'ite Moslem worshipers in them, destroying Moslem holy places and killing hundreds of Moslems throughout Iraq. And the entire Arab and Moslem worlds are silent!

If the "Arab Street" is silent to the destruction of Moslem holy places and the mass murder of Moslem worshipers by other supposedly hyper-orthodox Moslems, why are there massive riots across the entire Moslem world in response to an uncorroborated journalistic assertion of American mistreatment of the Quran?

It should be obvious that the riots are staged by totalitarian Moslem governments as just another manifestation of the "hate America" strategy of Moslem leaders who support Islamofascism and seek to destroy the West.

The hatred exists independently of the actions of the USA. But the terrorists create fictitious excuses for their terrorism by accusing the USA and the West (and Israel) of horrific crimes of which we are innocent, but which in fact are more akin to what the Moslem world has been doing to itself for hundreds of years.

4) American military threats to the Moslem world?

As noted above, the opposite is the case. Decades before Afghanistan and Iraq 2, we used our military power to support Arab causes: as when Truman forced Israel to return segments of eastern Sinai to Egypt after the 1948 war; or when Eisenhower forced Israel to return the entire Sinai to Egypt in 1956; or when Johnson forced Israel to agree to cease-fires in 1967, and Nixon in 1973, just when Israel's armies were on the verge of decisive victories; or when we sent our Marines to Lebanon to protect Palestinians and to save Arafat from Sharon in 1982 (only to have 226 of those same Marines blown up by an Arab suicide bomber); or when Clinton pressured Israel to bring Arafat out of exile in Tunisia and set him up as governor of the Palestinian Authority so that the Oslo Accords could be implemented, or when we bombed Christian Serbs to protect Moslems in Bosnia.

Our first war with Iraq was to protect the Moslem Arab states of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia from a secular Arab state (Iraq). Osama et al are avowed anti-secular Moslems. So why are they not grateful that we saved avowedly anti-secular Moslem states from a secular Arab state's invasion?

But despite 50 years of support, protection, money and aid -- as well as our own American soldiers dead and wounded to aid and support Moslem countries -- Osama, Hezbollah, Hamas et cetera shriek about how the USA is the "black Satan," which wants to destroy Islam and kill Moslems.

5) USA supports dictatorial governments?

It is true that America has supported dictators in Arab countries, because there has never been any other form of government in any part of the Arab world throughout all of Arab history (with the brief exception of Lebanon, snuffed out by Syria in 1975).

Moreover, now that there are some nascent movements toward democracy in Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and maybe even Saudi Arabia (all of which are the direct and unequivocal result of American intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq) we are faced with the incredibly ironic situation: The U.S. is actively supporting the rise of democracy in the Arab world, while terrorist forces are terrorizing those in Afghanistan and Iraq who are working to create democratic governments.

Nothing could more clearly reveal the hypocritical nature of the accusation that the U.S. supports dictatorial governments than the murderous response of the accusers to American support for democracy in the Middle East.

6) Western morals (or lack thereof) are infesting the East?

Perhaps much of the Arab world's Islamofascists do feel that way. We have what their clerics define as the "sinful mingling" of the sexes at work, in public places, on the dance floor, in the movies manufactured by our materialistic secular society that glorifies violence and sex. Indeed, everything from the popularity of Coca Cola and McDonalds to our anatomically correct Barbie dolls may well be offensive to some Moslems. But there are two major problems with explaining Islamic terrorism as a backlash against the West's "cultural imperialism."

In the first place, such sentiments cannot be very wide-spread, because the hundreds of millions of the terrorists' peaceful co-religionists find our culture so incredibly appealing that they adulate, imitate, and immigrate. Millions of Moslems from all over the world line up every year for entry into the U.S., South America, Eastern and Western Europe. Moslems worldwide by the hundreds of millions buy American products -- including the Barbie dolls that Saudi clerics consider an affront to Muslim morals. Second, even if all Muslims shared the Jihadists' revulsion to Western culture, this would hardly justify their commitment to the destruction of the West.

7. Support for Israel and "oppression" of the Palestinians?

The U.S. does support Israel, but not blindly, and not against Arabs. Moreover, it supports Arab states and Palestinians, as well.

In addition to the patently pro-Arab pressures that America has exerted on Israel's military and foreign policy, the U.S. has done much to support the Arab world, the Palestinians, Yasser Arafat, and the PLO. On a regular basis from Roosevelt to Clinton, the USA has given almost as much money to Egypt as to Israel, has given billions more over the years to many other Arab states, and has given billions more to UNRWA for support of Arab refugees (despite the fact that UN representatives acknowledge that UNRWA refugee camps have become havens for terrorists whose targets include Americans and who have been complicit in the development of worldwide terrorism).

Our State Department has been overtly pro-Arab (and for good reason: the Arabs have most of the world's oil) since FDR, and many of our Presidents have been overtly pro-Arafat, from Jimmy Carter to Bill Clinton.

Consider, too, what the U.S. gets in return for its support of Israel:

A) The allegiance and support of the Middle East's only democratic state, so that the 7th fleet can park its destroyers in Haifa port any time it wants;

B) Recycling much of that aid money back into the U.S. economy because Israel purchases goods and services from the USA with some of that money;

C) Sharing Israel's technological advances in all areas of science, medicine, agronomy, telecommunications, etc., with the U.S. to reduce our costs for such research and improve our economy through the Israeli advances; and

D) Sharing of military intelligence and weapons improvements to save American lives in warfare and in response to terrorist attacks.

When one considers the above facts along with the reality that many assertions about the amount of U.S. aid to Israel have been greatrly exaggerated, it becomes clear that our aid to Israel is a good investment.

Not so with our aid to the Arab world. How have Arab countries repaid the USA for its largess toward them?

A) Without exception, Arab states have voted against the USA on more than -- of all UN votes, for decades.

B) Many Arab countries recycle their US aid into the hands of the very terrorists that seek our destruction.

C) Some Arab countries offer succor, support, comfort and protection to Osama and his ilk.

Moreover, what would the U.S. need to do to satisfy the demand of the Arab leadership regarding support for Israel? If the US were to acquiesce to Islamofascist demands, we would be complicit in the second genocide of 35 percent of world Jewry.

8) American Imperialism?

This is perhaps the most often heard rallying cry of the Islamofacists and their supporters in the Arab world and in the West. All turn their audiences' attention to the putative crimes of American imperialism or the Zionist imperialism that imperialist America supports.

But even the most superficial review of American history from the Spanish-American war to the present will reveal that there is no American imperialism. It is a lie concocted by the "hate America" crowd here and in the Islamofascist world.

We freed Cuba after liberating it from Spain. We did not occupy it, annex it, or even establish any sort of control over it.

Regarding the two World Wars, one need only paraphrase Colin Powell at a recent conference in Europe: we have fought two wars to liberate our European friends from the totalitarian designs of the Kaiser and Hitler. We suffered the loss of hundreds of thousands of our brightest and our best in the course of those two wars, and we never asked for anything in return except enough land in which to bury our dead.

Has any German government since WWII objected to the tens of thousands of American troops on German soil protecting it from the expansionist intentions of the former USSR and pouring hundreds of millions of our dollars into the German economy? Does South Korea view the presence of American troops on its soil as a form of imperialism, or are we welcome protection against the insane nuclear aspirations of North Korea?

As for Zionist imperialism, it is important to recall that the UN's partition plan gave the Zionists that part of the land which was crown land (not owned by any individual) or land which had been purchased by Zionists from willing sellers at fair or inflated prices. There was never any imperialist conquest of Arab territory. Moreover, both before and after each war that the Arab world initiated with the intent to destroy Israel and genocide its Jews, Israel begged for peace and offered negotiations as a way to resolve differences. Israel's conquest of Jordanian and Egyptian land in 1967 was the result of its defensive war against genocidal invaders. And its retained sovereignty over these territories is a function solely of an Arab refusal to consent to peaceful resolution.

Regarding what our enemies have termed "cultural imperialism," they are correct in so far as American language and culture have become the most powerful influences on other cultures throughout the world. But no one is forcing other cultures to buy our products, view our films, or speak our language. They do it because they find it enjoyable and beneficial to do so.

Ironically, it is the Arab history of conquest, expansion, genocide, and destruction that best fits the definition of imperialism. They accuse us of that which they themselves are guilty.

9) The "Occupation" of Palestine?

Of all the explanations advanced for Muslim anti-Americanism, this false reason is probably the most seductive. It is based on a deceptively simple equation: End the occupation and you end the hatred that springs from the occupation.

Terrorists who kill innocent Israelis come from all over the Arab (and in some cases non-Arab Muslim) world. Many Palestinian terrorists are from Palestinian populations outside of Israel. They have not experienced any "occupation". If they, and their Palestinian colleagues living in Israel, were attacking because they are defending their Arab brethren against an evil occupier, then why are they not attacking Syria for its 25-year occupation of Lebanon? The Syrian occupation has caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Lebanese Arabs (Muslim and Christian and Druze), far more than Israel.

Moreover, for most of the time that Israel maintained sovereignty over the West Bank and Gaza Strip, there was almost no terrorism in these areas. After the 6-day war, terrorism came from Jordan between 1967 and 1970; and then from Lebanon from 1970-1982; and then from Tunis until Arafat was enthroned in Ramallah in 1994. Palestinian terror against Israel from within the West Bank and Gaza Strip began when Arafat returned from Tunis. Palestinians launched more attacks in the 4 years following Oslo than had been launched in the 20 years before Oslo. If the "Occupation" were the cause, why did the "occupied" Palestinians wait 27 years before attacking Israel (1967-1994)?

It is also important to recall that after its conquest of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel immediately offered to return those territories in exchange for recognition, negotiations, and peace. The entire Arab world said "No" at Khartoum in September, 1967. When Sadat finally agreed to negotiations and peace, Egypt got back all of the Sinai. The so-called "occupation" of the West Bank and Gaza Strip could have been ended peacefully any time between 1967 and now. Arab leadership and especially Arafat chose to continue a terror war that used "The Occupation" as an excuse, because their goal was not liberation; it was (and still is) the destruction of Israel and the genocide of its Jews.

Clearly, the hatred producing such terrorism pre-dated the Six-day war, and continued even as Israel sued for peace, offering an end to its sovereignty in these territories in exchange for peace and an end to the conflict. But for Arafat and his supporters in many Arab nations, continuing the conflict was more important than ending "The Occupation."

So where did the hatred come from?

We may never know for sure when the hatred of America started, but there are some factors worth considering when trying to determine the origins of the terrorists' baleful and relentless hatred. Arab hatred of the West is centuries old. Recall the origins of Arab sovereignty. Mohammed conquered all of the Arabian Peninsula, preaching death or conversion to all who resisted. The oldest Arab extra-Quranic accounts of his life include numerous instances of brutal savagery against the "infidel," especially the Jews (who happened to have a large share of the two most lucrative businesses in the western section of the peninsula [the Hejaz]: date plantations and the spice trade).

After his death, Mohammed's followers spread north, east and west, destroying four civilizations and killing millions in Israel, the Byzantine Empire in Syria, Egypt, North Africa and Spain, Mesopotamia and Iran. In Europe, the Muslim invasion was stopped by Charles Martel at Poitiers (736 AD, a few kilometers south of Paris). Had the Muslims won, Europe would have become part of the Islamic empire. On the threshold of India, the Muslim advance was stopped, but at the cost of 100,000,000 Hindu lives during one hundred years of continuous Muslim aggression.

And the aggression never stopped. A thousand years later, the Muslim empire of Turkey was still pummeling the eastern reaches of Europe. The Polish King John Sobieski, leading a three-nation army, stopped the Muslims twice in the late 17th century at the gates of Vienna.

Professor Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said chair of Middle Eastern Studies at Columbia University, in his book Palestinian Identity, notes the response of 18th century Arab notables, in what would later be called "Palestine", when the Turkish Governor of Beirut agreed to allow the French consul to purchase land in Jerusalem. The Governor was dissuaded from his land sale by the Arab leaders' urging that there must be no Ifranji (European infidels) in Jerusalem. The kufar (infidels) Ifranji would pollute the sacred precinct of Haram esh-Sharif.

In the early 19th century, our own President Monroe tried to intervene against Muslim piracy in the Mediterranean, and was told by the Bey of Algiers that it was incumbent upon all Muslims to attack, kill, enslave, or convert all infidels anywhere. Old Ironsides put a stop to the piracy by bombarding the Bey's palace.

In the early 20th century, long before the USA had become an important influence in the Levant, Arab intellectuals in Cairo and Beirut excoriated the West for the cultural imperialism that was awakening in the Arab world and for the western technological advances that were integral to the Arab world's entry into the modern world. However good these advances may be, they were tainted because they came from the West.

In sum, there is nothing new about Arab hatred of the West. The hatred began with the onset of Islam. The earliest Muslims sought to conquer and destroy all that was not Muslim. They did not hate the Byzantines or the Copts or the Spaniards or the Iranians for what these kingdoms did; they hated them for what they were -- infidels.

Shame and fear

Realistic speculation as to the real "root causes" of Arab hatred and Islamofascist aggression against the West may begin with an understanding of Arab society's concept of shame, and Arab totalitarian rulers' fear that they will lose their jobs (and perhaps their lives) unless they repress opposition and distract potential agitators by re-directing their dissatisfaction to other threats -- real or fabricated.

There is an old Arab adage: shame is worse than hell.

The UN's 10/2002 survey of human development in the Arab world (and subsequent sequels in 2003 and 2004) throws into high profile the horrendous failure of Arab leadership in every aspect of human social endeavor. The survey was done by Arab sociologists at the behest of the largely Arab-controlled UN. Looking back over more than 20 years, the study concluded that Arab culture throughout the entire Arab world (21 states from Mauritania to Yemen and Iraq) is retrograde by all of the UN measures: freedom of movement, freedom of speech, education, access to information, economic opportunities, cultural development, exploitation of children, repression of women, racist and apartheid attitudes toward religious and racial minorities.

A similar survey with slightly different foci in 2003 and 2004 yielded the same results.

The success of the West in every area in which the UN study documents Arab failure shames the leadership of the Arab world. The very fact that millions flee to the West every year is a catastrophic humiliation for the proponents of the superiority of Islam and Arab culture.

But other cultures have been confronted with our success as a society. Rather than flying planes into our skyscrapers, they try to emulate the best in our government, society, economy and culture. Immigrants to our shores as well as to South America and Europe, Pacific Rim countries, Japan, Post World War II Europe, South American countries, Post-USSR countries, south Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Philippines, all see our freedoms and achievements as worthy of study and adaptation -- and all have created in partnership with the USA and other western nations more advanced and successful societies.

As we know from the UN studies mentioned above, many Arab governments limit or prohibit access to the Internet. Most press and other media are owned or controlled by the government. Fewer books have been translated into Arabic over the past 1000 years than were translated into Spanish in 1999. Nonetheless, word of what goes on outside of the Arab world gets in. That is why millions leave the Arab world every year and come to the West. And the Arab leaders know this.

So they fan the flames of hatred against Israel and the West with vitriolic rhetoric and genocidal diatribe, and stoke the basest of human emotions toward violence and terrorism in order to maintain their positions of power.

For example, Syria has a basic law that guarantees enlightened social freedoms for its people, except in cases of emergency situations (like when Syria is under attack). In such emergencies, the government can adopt repressive measures and curtail freedoms in order to protect the country. Not coincidentally, Hafez el Assad declared an emergency situation shortly after coming to power 35 years ago, due to the conflict with Israel. His son Bashir has maintained that emergency status. A resolution to the conflict with Israel would eliminate the need for emergency powers. Therefore, it is easier to stay in power as long as the conflict continues and there is an excuse for such emergency powers. Thus, there is no resolution to the conflict.

Nasser and Sadat did something very similar in Egypt. Sadat maintained the emergency status even after peace with Israel because of problems with Libya and Sudan.

So our freedoms terrify them. After all, where would these Islamofascist terror leaders be if their people enjoyed the freedoms that we take for granted?

Conclusions

To answer the question: "Why do they hate us?" we need look no further than at the Islamofascist leaders worldwide who are confronted with our success, threatened by our freedom, humiliated to the point of fury and violence due to their culture's emphasis upon shame versus honor. Rather than learn from us or work with us, they seek to destroy us.

They cannot admit to their followers or to us that their real motivation is their own shame and fear. Instead, they make up a long list of fictitious misdeeds in order to justify their hatred. Then they teach and preach to their societies, and especially to their young, the lies about why they hate us, and their children grow up believing such lies.

In addition, they are buttressed by Arab and pro-Arab intellectuals and professors in the West who re-write history in order to make us believe that this hatred is new and is a function of the fictional crimes of which we are accused. For example, academic reassessments of American foreign policy since World War II have begun to cast President Eisenhower as opposed to Arab nationalism, marginalizing Palestinians, waging war on Islam. All of this is pure fiction. But many of us fall prey to these lies.

By getting us to think that we are the cause, that our "imperialism" has generated the grinding poverty and tragic hopelessness that their own failed leadership has created and maintained, the Islamofascist leaders seek to make it harder for us to focus on what we must do to stop the scourge of global terrorism. In short, they want us to believe that they hate us for what we do, not for what we are. Then, those who do believe their lies can self-righteously oppose any American action that could forestall the advance of Jihadist Islam.

The Ayatollah Khoumeini claimed in 1979 that this will be the century of Islam, when Muslim forces finish the work begun by Mohammed. Should the West ever accept the terrorists' definition of the root causes driving their implacable hostility, they may yet do so.

David Meir-Levi is an American-born Israeli, currently living in Palo Alto. He lectures in English, Hebrew, and Spanish; his expertise is in Near Eastern studies and the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. He is Director of Peace and Education at Israel Peace Initiative (www.ipi-usa.org).

This article appeared in FrontPage Magazine November 9, 2005. It is archived at
www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=20117





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