by Uri Avnery
TEL AVIV -- After the smoke has cleared, the dust has settled down and the initial
fury blown over, humankind will wake up and realize a new fact: there is
no safe place on earth.
A handful of suicide-bombers has brought the United States to a
standstill, caused the President to hide in a bunker under a far-away
mountain, dealt a terrible blow to the economy, grounded all aircraft, and
emptied government offices throughout the country. This can happen in
every country. The Twin Towers are everywhere.
Not only Israel, but the whole world is now full of gibberish about
"fighting terrorism". Politicians, "experts on terrorism" and their likes
propose to hit, destroy, annihilate etc., as well as to allocate more
billions to the "intelligence community". They make brilliant suggestions.
But nothing of this kind will help the threatened nations, much as nothing
of this kind has helped Israel.
There is no patent remedy for terrorism. The only remedy is to remove
its causes. One can kill a million mosquitoes, and millions more will take
their place. In order to get rid of them, one has to dry the swamp that
breeds them. And the swamp is always political.
A person does not wake up one morning and tell himself: Today I shall
hijack a plane and kill myself. Nor does a person wake up one morning and
tell himself: Today I shall blow myself up in a Tel-Aviv discotheque. Such
a decision grows in a person's mind through a slow process, taking years.
The background to the decision is either national or religious, social and
No fighting underground can operate without popular roots and a
supportive environment that is ready to supply new recruits, assistance,
hiding places, money and means of propaganda. An underground organization
wants to gain popularity, not lose it. Therefore it commits attacks when
it thinks that this is what the surrounding public wants. Terror attacks
always testify to the public mood.
That is true in this case, too. The initiators of the attacks decided
to implement their plan after America has provoked immense hatred
throughout the world. Not because of its might, but because of the way it
uses its might. It is hated by the enemies of globalization, who blame it
for the terrible gap between rich and poor in the world. It is hated by
millions of Arabs, because of its support for the Israeli occupation and
the suffering of the Palestinian people. It is hated by multitudes of
Muslims, because of what looks like its support for the Jewish domination
of the Islamic holy shrines in Jerusalem. And there are many more angry
peoples who believe that America supports their tormentors.
Until September 11, 2001 - a date to remember - Americans could
entertain the illusion that all this concerns only others, in far-away
places beyond the seas, that it does not touch their sheltered lives at
home. No more.
That is the other side of globalization: all the world's problems
concern everyone in the world. Every case of injustice, every case of
oppression. Terrorism, the weapon of the weak, can easily reach every spot
on earth. Every society can easily be targeted, and the more developed a
society is, the more it is in danger. Fewer and fewer people are needed to
inflict pain on more and more people. Soon one single person will be
enough to carry a suitcase with a tiny atomic bomb and destroy a
megalopolis of tens of millions.
This is the reality of the 21st century that started this week in
earnest. It must lead to the globalization of all problems and the
globalization of their solutions. Not in the abstract, by fatuous
declarations in the UN, but by a global endeavor to resolve conflicts and
establish peace, with the participation of all nations, with the US
playing a central role.
Since the US has become a world power, it has deviated from the path
outlined by its founders. It was Thomas Jefferson who said: No nation can
behave without a decent respect for the opinion of mankind. (I quote from
memory). When the US delegation left the world conference in Durban, in
order to abort the debate about the evils of slavery and in order to court
the Israeli right, Jefferson must have turned over in his grave.
If it is confirmed that the attack on New York and Washington was
perpetrated by Arabs - and even if not! - the world must at long last
treat the festering wound of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is
poisoning the whole body of humanity. One of the wise guys in the Bush
administration said only a few weeks ago: "Let them bleed!" - meaning the
Palestinians and the Israelis. Now America is bleeding. He who runs away
from the conflict is followed by it, even into his home. Americans, and
Europeans too, should learn this lesson.
The distance from Jerusalem to New York is small, and so is the
distance from New York to Paris, London and Berlin. Not only
multi-national corporations embrace the globe, but terror organizations do
so, too. In the same way, the instruments for the solution of conflicts
must be global.
Instead of the destroyed New York edifices, the twin towers of Peace
and Justice must be built.
Copyright © 2001 Gush Shalom