The American president instructed Israel to halt its military operation, which is, in essence, a carbon copy of the operations against terrorism being carried out by George W. Bush's forces (the entry of military forces into the territory of a regime that harbors terrorists and refuses to hand them over and an attempt to apprehend them). Is there a double standard here? That is not, even if the injustice is indeed glaring, a serious argument in discussing relations between a superpower and a tiny country that ever since the Yom Kippur War has adopted the posture of a submissive dependent.
The stated reasons for why Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell turned on the pressure - the supposed damage to the coalition's integrity resulting from Israel's operations - prove that the Americans are not delving deep enough into the reasons that brought the painful and humiliating terrorist attack on them.
There is no, nor can there be any, American coalition in which Arab and Muslim states also participate. That is a fiction created by the Americans to gain legitimacy for crumbling a Muslim state and searching for a needle in a haystack there. True, there are Arab regimes whose existence is threatened by fanatic Islam and whose leaders are not shedding any tears over the American operation. But in those places, unlike Israel and the United States, they have also learned very well the oath Osama bin Laden made in front of all Muslims and the entire world on the night the attack against Afghanistan began: He, who was not silent and did not rest until he took revenge on the Americans for the humiliation the world inflicts on the Muslims, will not sheathe his sword until the last foreigner leaves Mohammed's sacred land.
This is, in addition to an oath, the new Saladin's operational order to the Muslim world. And there is no regime around today able to ignore it, certainly not when this man included in his oath, revenge against any Muslim entity that betrays the cause and cooperates with the United States or Israel (where is there a Palestinian leader who would dare, after such a warning, sign an agreement that gives the Jews sovereignty over part of Mohammed's sacred lands in Palestine, even if only a minuscule part?).
A foreigner who arrived in Israel after meetings with Arab academics and businessmen from several countries that are ostensibly in the coalition, related in a closed forum that his partners in dialogue - including some who studied in or do business with the United States - could not, despite their lip service over the casualties, hide their pleasure over the fact that the Muslim world finally has a hero who stands proud. Since September 11, this foreigner felt, a certain spirit of madness has also gripped some erstwhile progressive circles. And the American pressure to join the coalition only increased the opposition to it as well deepened the feelings of tribal and religious identification, even in circles that stand to lose if Al Qaida ends up leading the Muslim world.
Pressure on Israel, or even abandoning it, will not change a thing in bin Laden's oath and his determination to continue Islam's war against America; nor will it change the Arabs' perception that Israel is the little Satan and the ally of the great Satan. They took revenge on the United States for humiliating the Arabs and the Muslims. And they must avenge themselves tenfold on Israel, which is more vulnerable. This little Satan that defeated them time after time on the battlefield, also conquered (as bin Laden reminded us in his speech) Mohammed's sacred lands and is desecrating them. Is there any greater humiliation than that?
These are the correct proportions of the events, and not the minor operations conducted by the IDF today (which it will halt tomorrow. After all, the interests, even the presumed ones, of the United States are more important to many Israelis than the real interests of their own country). The IDF operations have no effect whatsoever on the United States' freedom of operation. And it is doubtful that they will be able to get the genie of terrorism back into the bottle. Even if the United States signals to the Muslims that it is willing to sacrifice Israel upon it, the fire lit by bin Laden will not be extinguished quickly.
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