Thursday, August 11, 2005

Part 1

After the attacks of September 11, 2001 in New York and Washington, DC, many Americans began to ask the simple but logical question: Why do they hate us? It is a loaded question with many implications and complexities. First we must define the proverbial “they” and “us”. “They” refers to the terrorists, presumably, but is frequently extended to the region where they come from, namely the Greater Middle East, and the ideology in whose name they commit acts of violence, in this case Islam. The “us” refers to Americans. So the question frequently becomes “Why do Arabs/Muslims hate Americans?” The question is a rational response to a tragedy of the scope of 9/11 and the answer is equally important if there is ever to be normal relations between the United States and the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims, a quarter of whom are Arab. Because the terrorists who attack the United States interests around the world do so in the name of Islam, the American public assumes that the Muslim world in general is hostile to the United States. This is, however, not the case. The vast majority of terrorist acts against US interests in the last two decades have been committed by Arabs not just any Muslims. This is an important point to understand: Arabs, Christian and Muslim, dislike America because of its policies in the Middle East concerning Palestine, oil, support for Arab autocracies, and most recently the botched effort to impose democracy on Iraq without taking the time and energy to coordinate this monumental effort with others in the region or the world. The rest of the Muslim world dislikes the US only out of solidarity with their coreligionists and out of shock at the injustice incurred by the Middle East. The only reason that there is widespread tension between Islam and the United States are a few issues, primarily central Palestine. Historical Palestine is literally located in the center of the Arab world and the Muslim world. It is important to Arabs because of its rich heritage that dates back thousands of years, because of its beautiful cities, rich literary tradition and because it connects Arab Africa with Arab Asia. For Muslims, its importance lies in its rich Islamic history, its beautiful mosques and its famous Dome of the Rock in Eternal Jerusalem, known as Al-Quds (Arabic for Holy City). Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will, in fact, give the United States much needed credibility, good will and relief not only in the Middle East and the Muslim world but also in the rest of the world, most of which appreciates the unfairness of the situation of the Palestinian people through the past 57 years.