September 14, 2001 -- IT was predictable. The sad sacks at the BBC were sure that if only President Bush had done more to curb Arab-Israeli tensions, the World Trade Center attacks might have been avoided. And no doubt we will be hearing more of this in the coming weeks as the apologists for Arab terrorism at the Economist, the Nation and the New York Review of Books weigh in with equally flimsy explanations.
The issue is not Israel. Osama bin Laden blew up a U.S. embassy when the Oslo "peace process" was at the height of its "success." The issue is the inability of Islamic regimes around the globe to come to grips with the modern world.
What did Israel have to do with the recent Islamic jihad murders in Nigeria? While Islamic terrorists were hitting New York, Muslim militants in northern Nigeria were killing Christians. The violence occurred in the majority Christian city of Jos, where the Nigerian government has imposed the Sharia (Islamic law) on the largely Christian population. The violence began when a Christian woman was attacked after she had the temerity to cross the street in front of a group of Muslim men who had gathered near a Mosque. What followed was three days of killing and burning churches.
Around the world Islamic militants are engaging in a holy war against the infidels - from Coptic Christians in Egypt and the Dinkas in the Sudan, to Hindus in Kashmir, Bahais in Iran, Catholics in the southern Philippines and Christians in East Timor.
In Sudan, the Islamic militants impose slavery on captured Dinkas - but wherever radical Islam is in power, it subjugates people it regards as infidels. The Coalition for the Defense of Human Rights, an organization supporting those persecuted by militant Islam, argues that "radical Islamism is a world ideology, fielding a world terror-army, which oppresses millions with a racist ideology" that deems non-Muslims less than fully human.
Here in New York, it was easy to get angry listening to Egyptians, Palestinians and the Arabs of nearby Paterson, N.J., celebrate as they received word of the murderous attacks in New York and Washington. But Mayor Giuliani (who has been tireless and magnificent in this crisis) rightly warned New York- ers that it would be wrong to take their anger out on the city's Arab and Muslim residents. Attacks on Arab-Americans in Paterson or elsewhere are utterly indefensible.
Omar, a Muslim New Yorker and former student of mine at Cooper Union, e-mailed me to say he was "sickened to watch Middle Easterners celebrate our sorrow." He is an American who has imbibed our values while maintaining his Muslim faith. He wants no truck with those who kill in the name of Islam.
But it's fair to ask this of those non-Muslims at the BBC, the Nation, the New York Review of Books and other rationalizers of Palestinian and Islamic terror: Why is it that everywhere in the world where Muslims are in the majority, their minorities are persecuted?
And where were these publications, not to mention respectable European leaders, when Yasser Arafat, ranting in front of a world conference at Davos, insisted that Israel was using depleted uranium and nerve gas against Palestinian civilians?
And where were the Europeans at the U.N. "hate" conference in Durban, when Islamophobia was denounced, while Muslim discrimination against non-Muslims was passed over in silence?
It's also time to ask Arab-American spokesmen like James Zogby, who rightly criticizes anti-Arab bigotry, why he's silent about the hate that spews daily from the Egyptian and Palestinian media, as with the current hit song "I Hate Israel."
In Commentary, Fiamma Nirenstein asks if the silence from the West isn't what Bush, in another context, called "the soft bigotry of low expectations." No doubt our multiculturalists will explain that, while even mild anger at Arabs by Americans is sign of deep-seated racism, venomous hatred in the Arab world is merely a part of a different culture that can't be judged by our standards.
For all their grievances against America, there have been no Cuban, Vietnamese or Serbian suicide bombers bringing death to our shores, and their people haven't been celebrating in the streets at the sight of American blood.
America, not Israel, is The Great Satan. It was hard to acknowledge before the World trade Center attacks, but radical Islam has been at war with us for a long time.
Fred Siegel teaches history at the Cooper Union.