Friday, July 15, 2005

Not enough being done to condemn terrorism by Arabs and Muslims, July 15, 2005

Not enough being done to condemn terrorism by Arabs and Muslims
Creators Syndicate July 15, 2005
By Ray Hanania

Muslim and Arab American groups quickly and sharply condemned the terrorist attacks in London, but remained silent when suicide bombers struck Israel.

Last week, four attackers whom British officials now believe were suicide bombers, separately struck London’s transit system, killing 52 and injuring hundreds.

All four are believed to be a part of al-Qaeda’s loose network.

The attacks pushed the demarcation line on what is and isn’t possible. Many observers including Stephen Emerson warned that is is a matter of when not if suicide bombers strike America, again.

Yet one week later when a Palestinian suicide bomber struck a shopping mall in Netanya near Tel Aviv, nearly all the Arab and Muslim organizations were silent. The attack was blamed in Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Islamic sibling of Hamas.

These American organizations are playing a duplicitous and dangerous game. They are only saying enough to protect themselves against what they fear will be a repeat of the post-Sept. 11 backlash.

The greater danger though is the impact their silence is having on the efforts to bring peace to the Palestine-Israel conflict, often cited as the backbone of the anger many Muslims and Arabs have against Americans and the West.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who was elected in democratic elections held in January, remains politically crippled as Hamas and the PIJ exploit the suffering of Palestinians.

The harder it is to achieve peace, the more the oppressive Palestinian life becomes. Pushed to heightened anguish and emotion, Palestinians are less likely to speak out against the suicide bombings or the extremist groups like Hamas or PIJ, even though a March 2005 survey of Palestinian by pollster Khalil Shikaki shows most support compromise with Israel and oppose suicide bombings. Hamas and the PIJ have both publicly rejected compromise and Israel’s existence.

Although Abbas’ Fatah political organization continues to dominate Palestinian politics on a national level, Hamas and PIJ gains at the local election level are disturbing.

Abbas should ban both organizations and prevent them from participating in any elections until they renounce violence.

He has the legal mandate to pursue this demand as the officially elected leader of Palestine. In contrast, Hamas and the PIJ are basically operating as illegal militias or vigilantes.

On a moral level, the violence of Hamas and the PIJ go far beyond justified resistance. Although Israel is guilty of many actions that violate human rights and international law, nothing justifies a suicide bombing against any targets, especially those that are civilian.

Suicide bombings are morally reprehensible.

Hamas and the PIJ were not only behind the most recent suicide attack in Netanya, but also the last attack last February which was as much directed at killing Israelis as it was at killing the legitimacy of Abbas’ government.

How do American Arab and Muslim organizations fit into this deteriorating scenario?

As long as the major Arab and Muslim organizations refuse or fail to stand up and denounce Hamas or PIJ violence and suicide bombing attacks, Hamas and the PIJ have no real pressure to discontinue.

Last month when Abbas extended his hand to Hamas and invited them into a coalition government if they would end their violent campaigns, Hamas scoffed at the offer. The Netanya suicide bombing can be viewed as their more public rejection of Abbas and his government.

As long as the major Arab and Muslim organizations refuse or fail to denounce Hamas and PIJ attacks, the Arab American media and even the Arab World media will continue to incite the public against peace and in support of continued violence, claiming falsely that suicide bombings are an act of legitimate resistance when it is well beyond the realm of legitimacy.

Finally, while Arab and Muslim American organizations refrain from condemning Hamas and the PIJ, they are active in attacking any Arabs or Muslims, like myself, who speak out against Hamas and the PIJ and who call suicide bombings immoral and unjustified.

In part, these organizations can get away with this because Americans and people in the West allow them to get away with it.

The Palestine-Israel conflict is so complex that it is beyond the comprehension of most Americans.

The fact that the alleged suicide bombers in London were Pakistani and not Palestinians seems to be irrelevant to many Americans who continue to rail against all Muslim causes, including distant causes like the fight for Palestinian justice and statehood.


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