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The wickedness and awesome cruelty of a crushed and humiliated people(fwd)

Subject: The wickedness and awesome cruelty of a crushed and humiliated
    people (fwd)

  The wickedness and awesome cruelty of a crushed and humiliated people

      By Robert Fisk

        12 September 2001

So it has come to this. The entire modern history of the Middle East 
the collapse of the Ottoman empire, the Balfour declaration, Lawrence of
Arabia's lies, the Arab revolt, the foundation of the state of Israel,
four Arab-Israeli wars and the 34 years of Israel's brutal occupation of
Arab land  all erased within hours as those who claim to represent a
crushed, humiliated population struck back with the wickedness and
awesome cruelty of a doomed people. Is it fair  is it moral  to write
this so soon, without proof, when the last act of barbarism, in
Oklahoma, turned out to be the work of home-grown Americans? I fear it
is. America is at war and, unless I am mistaken, many thousands more are
now scheduled to die in the Middle East, perhaps in America too. Some of
us warned of "the explosion to come''. But we never dreamt this nightmare.

And yes, Osama bin Laden comes to mind, his money, his theology, his
frightening dedication to destroy American power. I have sat in front of
bin Laden as he described how his men helped to destroy the Russian army
in Afghanistan and thus the Soviet Union. Their boundless confidence
allowed them to declare war on America. But this is not the war of
democracy versus terror that the world will be asked to believe in the
coming days. It is also about American missiles smashing into
Palestinian homes and US helicopters firing missiles into a Lebanese
ambulance in 1996 and American shells crashing into a village called
Qana and about a Lebanese militia  paid and uniformed by America's
Israeli ally  hacking and raping and murdering their way through
refugee camps.

No, there is no doubting the utter, indescribable evil of what has
happened in the United States. That Palestinians could celebrate the
massacre of 20,000, perhaps 35,000 innocent people is not only a symbol
of their despair but of their political immaturity, of their failure to
grasp what they had always been accusing their Israeli enemies of doing:
acting disproportionately. All the years of rhetoric, all the promises
to strike at the heart of America, to cut off the head of "the American
snake'' we took for empty threats. How could a backward, conservative,
undemocratic and corrupt group of regimes and small, violent
organisations fulfil such preposterous promises? Now we know.

And in the hours that followed yesterday's annihilation, I began to
remember those other extraordinary assaults upon the US and its allies,
miniature now by comparison with yesterday's casualties. Did not the
suicide bombers who killed 241 American servicemen and 100 French
paratroops in Beirut on 23 October 1983, time their attacks with
unthinkable precision?

There were just seven seconds between the Marine bombing and the
destruction of the French three miles away. Then there were the attacks
on US bases in Saudi Arabia, and last year's attempt  almost successful
it now turns out  to sink the USS *Cole *in Aden. And then how easy was
our failure to recognise the new weapon of the Middle East which neither
Americans nor any other Westerners could equal: the despair-driven,
desperate suicide bomber.

And there will be, inevitably, and quite immorally, an attempt to
obscure the historical wrongs and the injustices that lie behind
yesterday's firestorms. We will be told about "mindless terrorism'', the
"mindless" bit being essential if we are not to realise how hated
America has become in the land of the birth of three great religions.

Ask an Arab how he responds to 20,000 or 30,000 innocent deaths and he
or she will respond as decent people should, that it is an unspeakable
crime. But they will ask why we did not use such words about the
sanctions that have destroyed the lives of perhaps half a million
children in Iraq, why we did not rage about the 17,500 civilians killed
in Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon. And those basic reasons why the
Middle East caught fire last September  the Israeli occupation of Arab
land, the dispossession of Palestinians, the bombardments and
state-sponsored executions ... all these must be obscured lest they
provide the smallest fractional reason for yesterday's mass savagery.

No, Israel was not to blame  though we can be sure that Saddam Hussein
and the other grotesque dictators will claim so  but the malign
influence of history and our share in its burden must surely stand in
the dark with the suicide bombers. Our broken promises, perhaps even our
destruction of the Ottoman Empire, led inevitably to this tragedy.
America has bankrolled Israel's wars for so many years that it believed
this would be cost-free. No longer so. But, of course, the US will want
to strike back against "world terror'', and last night's bombardment of
Kabul may have been the opening salvo. Indeed, who could ever point the
finger at Americans now for using that pejorative and sometimes racist
word "terrorism''?

Eight years ago, I helped to make a television series that tried to
explain why so many Muslims had come to hate the West. Last night, I
remembered some of those Muslims in that film, their families burnt by
American-made bombs and weapons. They talked about how no one would help
them but God. Theology versus technology, the suicide bomber against the
nuclear power. Now we have learnt what this means.

       Sura Qadiri
       CU Palestinian Society
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