Menu JTA Search

9/11 reflections

In Israel, which has seen more than its fair share of Islamic terrorism, the anniversary of 9/11 prompted some reflection:

In Ha’aretz, historian Tom Segev recalled being in New York on the day of the attacks. Musing on the meaning of 9/11, Segev writes: “Seven years after that day in September, the attack is too distant for tears, too near for understanding.”

“September 11th,” as people now say in almost every language, also offered a good opening for a historical discussion on the decline of America. The U.S. has lost its status as the sole superpower, and the recent economic crisis has brought about a situation whereby most Americans do not believe today that their children will live a better life than they have. This is ostensibly the most profound expression of the loss of personal security that everyone attributed to the attack; after all, the need to remove one’s shoes during the security check before boarding a plane has not really changed the American dream.

The Jerusalem Post used the occasion to run an unsubtle editorial about al-Qaida titled “Al-Qaida lives, kill it:”

Al-Qaida, along with the Taliban in which it incubates, has been rejuvenated. What to do?

Let’s bear in mind what al-Qaida is, and isn’t.

This is a small organization that specializes in terrorist attacks of staggering scope. It’s a sort of venture-capital outfit for anti-civilian warfare; and perhaps the paramount Islamist think-tank. It’s the home of the motivating icons of the Islamist struggle, Bin-Laden and al-Zawahiri.

Al-Qaida is not a synonym for every Islamist menace. It is not Iran (with which it has a multitude of theological and political differences); nor is it Hizbullah or Hamas. Conflating Islamist threats undermines our ability to confront each unique danger as needed.

The war against Western civilization is real, but the enemy is not a conveniently homogeneous body. Putting al-Qaida out of commission will not achieve victory against a metastasized Islamist threat.

Seven years on, the good news, according to the US Department of Homeland Security, is that America does not face imminent attack. Still, many analysts are concerned that al-Qaida will strike again on or around Election Day, November 4.

But the true nightmare scenario prognosticates that al-Qaida’s terror-masters are devoting their efforts to obtaining a nuclear device; one that would be detonated in New York or Washington, perhaps, with results too ghastly to contemplate.

NEXT STORY