Why do they hate us?
Wednesday 01 June 2005, 10:34 Makka Time, 7:34 GMT
Why do they hate us so? That question was asked by many Americans after 11 September 2001. The query is based entirely on ignorance, which, by itself, is a result of a chronic American fault - a near total apathy towards history.
The vast majority of Americans are clueless regarding the past of faraway lands as well as their own. That is highly dangerous in so much as we share this planet with other ethnicities, and historical illiteracy breeds misunderstanding.
George Santayana wrote: "Those who forget the past are condemned to relive it," or words to that effect, and many believe him, allowing the caveat that the principle also applies to those who never learned history in the first place.
Subsequently, during the agony known as the
Noting that awareness of the past is a two-edged sword, meaning it is incumbent upon Arabs to learn as much as they can about the West, the fact remains that since the fall of the Arab empire in the 11th century, Arabs have not been in control of their own destiny, and, to a large extent, that condition exists today, Bush's attack on Iraq being a case in point.
After the Seljuk Turks took control of the
eastern Mediterranean lands (now known as
The Western army created four colonies,
including one in
The vast majority of Americans are clueless regarding the past
of faraway lands, as well
The Seljuk Turks were followed by the Mongol empire (1219 to 1500), and the Mongols were replaced by the Ottoman Turks during the 1500s.
At the height of the Ottoman empire, 1566, their control over Arab lands stretched from
Mesopotamia through the Holy Land into North Africa from
The Ottoman empire
maintained its grip on modern-day
Meanwhile, the largest Arab nation in the
This was followed by a brief period of autonomy under Muhamad Ali, an Albanian. However, the fate of
Built by the French, the
Today, for example, the canal and access to
the Red Sea and Arabian Sea is largely in the hands of the American Fifth,
Sixth, and Seventh Fleets, as is the
The fact remains that since the fall of the Arab empire in the 11 century, Arabs have not been in control of their own destiny.
Arabs living in Arabia, changed to
Now that last statement assumes that Arabs in
the kingdom (Saudi Arabia) can experience independence while the United
States has bases in Dhahran, Jedda, Riyadh and four
other locations, with still other locations that are "classified".
There could well be some Arab resentment about that.
The Middle East possesses the world's largest
easily accessible reserves of black gold,
Arab lands were now doomed to dominance by the industrial West, which needed that oil for its cars, planes, ships, and factories. There could well be some Arab resentment about that.
Mother of all insults
The greatest ignominy, by far, perpetrated by
the West upon the Arab people is the formation of the state of
Indeed, the creation of the Jewish state fomented Islamic "terrorism", as we know it today. Arab nationalists, frustrated by defeat in wars against Israel in 1948, 1956, 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973, turned to "terrorism" and every target in the West was open game, Munich Olympics in 1972, Achille Lauro in 1985, World Trade Centre in 1993 and, of course, 2001.
Actually, over the years, the target list has
become a very long one. Many in the West respect the state of
For Americans to fully appreciate the scope of this mother of all insults, please allow a ridiculous scenario.
Let us assume that the Arab League had the
power to carve a nation out of the
How did this happen? That story is equally
sordid. In 1917, the British treasury was depleted by the war, and
Chaim Weizmann, an activist within the World Zionist Organisation and the first Israeli president, offered both financial hope and improved weaponry to Foreign Secretary Arthur James Balfour.
Arabs in the kingdom (
The result is the infamous Balfour Declaration that stated equivocally that His Majesty's government favoured, "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of that object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done, which may prejudice the religious and civil rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine".
Balfour was equivocal, because he later added in
a private memorandum in 1919: "For in
"The four great powers are committed to Zionism and Zionism, be it right or wrong, good or bad, is rooted in age-long tradition, in present needs, in future hopes, of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs, who now inhabit that ancient land."
This uniquely bad form by
On 14 May 1948,
The vacuum was filled by the
That made the
That made our young, our future, enmeshed in a
fiery cauldron so far from home and targets for Arab revenge. There are some
who feel that the
Bush's goals or justification for war has changed over the years, and this new one was adopted after his February 2005 State of the Union address.
Role of religion
Once again, history becomes a casualty. Never in the history of mankind has democracy flourished at the point of a gun. Also, an absolute requirement for a democracy is education, a secular education, not a Bible-waving, Quran-waving education. Education slanted by religion breeds prejudice.
Religion belongs in the home, church or mosque, and the innermost thoughts of the individual.
Let's just say that both Christianity and Islam are two of the great religions of the world and get on with it - meaning governance.
Does more than 900 years of foreign domination, the lion's share of it by Western powers, justify atrocities? Emphatically no. There is no purpose served by killing 25 people and wounding 50 others at a funeral.
However, the Iraqi resistance fighter is a soldier, and soldiers are strong adherents to reality. One reality is that continued attacks on Iraqi policemen and national guard units only prolong the stay of the American occupation forces.
At some point, the soldier will come to the bargaining table, and I am clueless at to what will happen there.
However, centuries of Western domination are kind of hard to forget and that will remove any holier-than-thou attitude American negotiators may have.
Once a man's grievance is recognised, that can go a long way towards understanding.