The ceremony at of Ground Zero today mixed commemoration and mourning. In the effort to produce an observance that could provide unity and bring the disparate figures of George W. Bush and Barack Obama together. it steered clear of the different appraisals surrounding the event.
The elephant in the room, radical Islam and its broader support base went almost unmentioned.
If anybody brought in the issue of Islam, it was the liberal papers. From reading the Huffington Post one could almost walk away with the assumption that the main victims of 9/11 were American Muslims. In other papers.there was a plethora of opinion pieces on the benign sharia law and jihad as nonviolent struggle.
The paradox of America trying to move on and heal while NYPD policemen were checking out vehicles in light of an intelligence tip about three Pakistanis who would enter the United States with the goal of committing a terrorist atrocity, was obvious and disconcerting.
It appeared almost necessary to distance oneself from the United States in order to provide perspective. One could witness the two conflicting approaches in the way President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, referred to the atrocity.
Peres wrote Obama inter alia:
"September 11 was the epitome of evil, and the symbol of courage of the American people. September 11 also served as a milestone in the collective war against terror, headed by the United States, with the aim of building a better and safer world for our children and grandchildren. In its aftermath, America waged an uncompromising war on terror, culminating in the death of Osama bin Laden and freeing the world of this scourge that threatened humanity, without losing sight of the freedom and the rights of man."
The Peres letter makes no mention of what Osama bin Laden represented save for generic evil. For all intensive purposes Bin Laden could have been something like the Joker out of the Batman comic book. The "I" word is completely missing in the letter. The impression is that with the death of Osama bin Laden the war has effectively been won.
Contrast this presentation with the Netanyahu version prior to the cabinet session.
"This is a war of terrorism – by the forces and regimes of radical Islam. Radical Islam threatens moderate Islamic and Arab regimes.
It threatens the very existence of the State of Israel and in its linking up with radical regimes, it brings the tools of terrorism – rockets and missiles – to Israeli civilians."
"But today it hangs over all of us..."Therefore, the struggle against radical Islamic terrorism, which is, in effect, a description of the past decade, is at its peak; it is not yet over. We must all unite, countries that aspire to life, certainly the democracies that cherish life, and act in concert against this blight."
The 'I' word is there numerous times.
Tony Blair in an interview with AP sounded more like Netanyahu. "It's completely wrong," to think the struggle to defeat extremist ideology is won…We shouldn't be under any doubt about this at all. Unfortunately, as I say, this ideology is far broader than the methods of al-Qaida."
"You look at Lebanon, for example and how Hizbullah have taken control there, you look at the activities of Hamas. Yemen I'm afraid, it's a long way off being resolved…Even in a country like Pakistan, with some strong institutions by the way, that it's still an issue, so the struggle is by no means over, but it's the right struggle to be engaged in…"
Blair does not use the 'I' word but given the countries he names, one has to be completely obtuse not to jump from A to B.
The former Bishop of Rochester, Michael Nazir-Ali, who came to England to escape religious persecution in Pakistan, went further than Blair in warning that the struggle is far from over and in his interview with the Telegraph actually named the threat.
At the heart of extremism is an ideology, a world-view – and not just concerning the perceived wrong done to the Muslim Umma (or people). Such an ideology expects Islam to dominate rather than to accept a subservient place in world affairs. It promotes pan-Islam and the ultimate rejection of nation-states, even Muslim ones. It may be that some extremists chatter about an Islamic state, in this part of the world or that; however, its ultimate aim is a single Islamic political, social, economic and spiritual entity.
For many, the restoration of the Caliphate is integral to this project and, given past history, we should not be sanguine that Western powers will not collude with it if they believe it promotes a temporary self-interest. Such a vision of pan-Islam is not restricted to the Muslim world as it is now but also includes lands “lost” to Islam whether that be India, Palestine, East Timor, South Sudan or the Iberian countries.