I came to the US for four days for a meeting that was to have been held in Manhattan on Tuesday evening, September 11, 2001. The meeting didn’t take place – no one could get in or out of the great city. I´m not sure if all those invited to the meeting are still alive.
There were no flights back home, and all that remained to do was to listen to the reports and hope for a place on the first flight returning to Israel.
I never stay abroad on Shabbat. The trip is more costly and less efficient, but that´s the way it is; my own rule. I had now missed out on Shabbat in Eretz Israel and I could only pray that I would be home in time for Rosh Hashana.
It was impossible to get away from the reports of the massacre in downtown Manhattan. The news was everywhere: on the air, at home, in the car, in the shops. I entered the neighborhood grocery store. The storekeeper´s radio was on. President Bush was speaking to the American people:
“I declare tomorrow to be a day of prayer”, said the President.
Now that´s interesting, I think to myself, I can´t recall an Israeli Prime Minister who declared a day of prayer. Even when the Yom Kippur War broke out, Golda Meir was shocked, but I don’t remember her asking anyone to pray. After all, I thought, America´s national anthem is directed to G-d and Americans sing “G-d bless America”. Even the British maintain close contact with the Almighty: “G-d save the Queen”. But the Israelis have lost their connection to G-d in their anthem and all that remains is a dismal hope for a meaningless sort of freedom. To whom precisely should they pray?
“I ask every American,” the President continued, breaking into my train of thoughts, “during lunch time tomorrow [not on the employer´s time, like a good Histadrut worker] to pray for all the injured, their families, and the American nation.”
“Go to church, to the synagogue, to the mosque and pray,” ended the President.
“Did I hear right?” I ask the storekeeper, “Did he say mosque?”
“At this very moment you’ve lost the war,” I said to the astonished storekeeper and start looking for what I need on the shelves.
America has lost the war. The Americans have made the same mistake as the Israelis and, just as Israel is retreating from one defeat to the next, so the Americans are now lined up on the track to disintegration.
When the black boxes of the hijacked airplanes are recovered, we will hear the pilots screaming “Allah Akbar” in the last moments before the crash. They slaughtered you in the name of Allah and now the President calls on you to pray to him.
The American giant received a far more serious knock-out blow than that which brought America into the Second World War. Those who gave the Americans the knock-out blow at Pearl Harbor received in two atomic bombs in return. The latest knock-out blow has no return address. During the first hours, it seemed that the American revenge would be horrifying and terrible. US Jews thought that now Sharon could “finish off” the Arabs, blow up the al-Aksa mosque, expel them all and do as he wished. In light of the pictures of horror from the World Trade Center, and the television coverage of the spontaneous celebrations from Ramallah, Sharon would only receive words of thanks from the Americans. The Americans´ revenge would be dwarfed by Israel’s reprisal. The hours passed, and the days, and the American tiger turned out to be a helpless kitten.
The American President was busy running after the countries of the world, trying to set up a strange coalition against a few cave dwellers in Afghanistan, while senators explained on live television to the American people that “we must remember that the enemy is the terrorists, not Islam.”
America has been trapped by the same weakness that has visited Israel in recent years. It is entrapped in a notion of power and is therefore incapable of identifying the enemy and fighting it. Consequently, America will lose the battle, in the same way that Israel is losing it.
The State of Israel was founded on the notion that the Jewish people is a “normal” people like all other nations. One that has to establish a normal state, based on Western cultural values, and be accepted into the family of nations. If these premises are valid, Israel´s disputes with its neighbors are also “normal”, rational, territorial issues that may be resolved in a logical manner.
Yet the Jewish people is not a “normal” nation and its conflicts are not “normal” ones. The war being waged against us is not about territories but rather about our very existence as a Jewish nation. This is a war against our message and our mission. That is what our enemies are fighting against, while we reply to them through our own subjective interpretation of reality: we speak of security and of territories. We fail to understand why they refuse to accept even all the territory.
“The Emperor has no clothes!” Arafat shouts at us and murders three people in Netanya.
“Do you want us to wear something else in your honor?” Peres asks.
“He´s naked!” shouts Arafat and murders a young mother from Alfei Menashe.
“Perhaps we´ll wear red for you?” asks Beilin.
Arafat continues to attack us, and we continue to propose solutions that fail to admit the naked reality. It is no wonder we are losing the war.
The same is now happening to America. The Americans are in fact the children of Christianity. While America is not a Christian country, it is the standard-bearer of Western culture which draws from Christian culture. Why do the terrorists hate the US so much? Why are they prepared to commit suicide in order to kill Americans? After all, America has not conquered their country. On the contrary, many of them receive generous aid from the US. How strange that even Arabs in New Jersey, who are actually living in the flesh-pots of America and were liable to have suffered physically from the terrorist attack, rejoiced at the sight of the horrible massacre.
Why this hatred?
Two deviant daughters came forth from Judaism but left the fold to conquer the world: Christianity and Islam. Both hate their mother and both fight each other.
Judaism integrates the qualities of strict justice and mercy, in harmony and in proper measure. Christianity took only the quality of mercy while Islam took the quality of strict justice.
The Moslems see with jealousy how the culture based on Christian mercy succeeds in gaining control over the world. Let everyone come and benefit from the cornucopia open to all — to everyone we proffer the other cheek, and the whole body, in fact. Come and take your part in the wealth, come and enter the gates of the World Trade Center. We aren’t conquering you with the sword, but with gold.
“Why are they bringing their wars here?” a soot-covered broker shouted into a CNN reporter’s microphone. He didn’t understand that he was conquering, not territories, but the opposing culture, straight from there – from the Twin Towers.
But every Moslem child understands it clearly. What the political commentators and senators in the US fail to realize is crystal clear to the other half of the world. America is not at war with a single individual – Bin Laden – but with every child that will be born tomorrow in Cairo, Amman, Beirut, Gaza and, if he is a Moslem, even in New Jersey.
America will never admit that it is involved in a war of cultures, in fact in a religious war. Such an admission implies that, as in the case of Israel, American values are fundamentally at question. They are not as universal as Americans would like to believe. The happiness they pursue in the name of all humanity may be happiness for a specific group based on Christianity, but it means hell for another group that is just as large.
It is entirely possible that the balance has changed and the other half of the world is now beginning to realize its aspirations for happiness (and woe to such a culture immersed in rivers of blood). America will never admit it, and consequently will be unable to fight back. Just like the Israelis. They fail to identify the enemy. They seek the terrorists just as Sharon is pursuing individual terrorists. They are pursuing the wasps instead of destroying the nest, because they are afraid of the nest. They are afraid of a real confrontation between their values and those of Islam.
They want a coalition with moderate Arab countries. They have to prove that neither Islam nor the Arabs, but terrorism, is their enemy. The situation is so ludicrous that even Arafat is being wooed – Arafat, who invented hijacking; Arafat, the father of 20th century terrorism. They want to make a coalition with him, if only to avoid facing reality.
They will in fact catch the wasps. Bin Laden doesn´t stand a chance. He won´t be able to escape the power of the US. And then what? Today every Arab child wants to be a Shahid, a martyr for Islam. Bin Laden will enter the pantheon of the Shahids, but another million are waiting their turn and they are impatient. America is waging a physical war against a metaphysical enemy. They are incapable of understanding what we in Israel witness every day — overjoyed parents of suicide bombers.
In the coming months, we will see a lot of military planes take off and land. We will see destroyers and missiles and millions of tons of TNT exploding in the Iraqi desert and in Afghanistani caves. They will kill thousands of innocent people and in the end America will lose — because it failed to identify the true enemy.
The previous campaign was code-named Desert Storm and the current one will be called Infinite Justice, but this justice has no aim. It will therefore actually lack justice. If only America had the clairvoyance and the moral fortitude to face up to reality, America could win easily, without a coalition, without deploying armies and without senseless killings.
America is too busy deceiving itself. Not only the politicians, but everyone in the population. An interesting phenomena I noticed was the self-imposed censorship of the American media. I sat and watched as the drama unfolded live on television. In the first hour, there were live broadcasts from Ramallah and Shechem, in which the “Palestinian” masses could be seen rejoicing over the massacre in Manhattan. I was pleased to see the pictures broadcast for all to see. Suddenly the reports ceased as if they had never happened. After the first hour, I didn’t see them again. I don’t believe that the American administration contacted the media networks and told them what to screen. This happened naturally: don’t show the American people a reality that conflicts with its fundamental values. “We shall preserve the American way of life and win” was the message.
There was no longer any footage from Ramallah or from anywhere else. Instead, there began to appear an endless stream of interviews with American professors having Arab names and speaking with Arabic accents. The message was this: here is an professor called Ahmed, who is a Moslem, but who is also an American.
“I vehemently condemn this attack,” said a professor, “You have to realize that the majority of Arabs are not like these despicable terrorists. Most of them think like I do, but,” added the professor in a knowledgeable manner, “when you aid the Israeli occupation of Palestine, you cause more Arabs to be on the side of the terrorists rather than on my side”.
Hence Israel is out of the coalition. Even the crack rescue unit from Israel that was ready to come and help was courteously sent back to its base. Israel is the mistress that must be hidden, while Arafat, the king of terrorism, is the legitimate wife, who is courted. It’s actually better this way, since at the end of the day America is not truly Israel´s ally – but we´ll leave that issue for another time.
The day after the attack, a wealthy American acquaintance approached me and asked for my comments on the situation. I told him what I thought and he then surprised me by making an offer that couldn’t be refused: “I am ready to pay for a full-page ad in the New York Times,” he said, “I want you to compose the ad.” I didn’t want to do it, because America’s war isn’t my war and because I had hoped that this dear Jew would direct his financial resources to far more important endeavors in which we are engaged in Eretz Israel. However, the man persisted, so I composed the following quick draft:
IT IS A CULTURAL/ RELIGIOUS WAR.
We can kill a million Bin Ladens, but they will continue to celebrate.
They have destroyed our symbols.
We must destroy their symbols.
Americans don´t do such things?
Therefore, America will continue to be destroyed until you understand.
My friend was astonished, “But they will start a religious war!” he exclaimed, “Can you imagine what acts of vengeance will result from this?”
“And what have you suffered just now?” I asked him, “Do you think that they only killed nearly ten thousand people, because at the moment they don´t hate you so much?”
“This is a religious war,” I explained to him, “They aren’t afraid to die. They have sanctified death, they die with the name of Allah on their lips, and seventy virgins are waiting for them in Paradise. You don´t frighten them with your bombs. At best, you´ll turn them into Shahids. They have directed their attack against your god. You have no alternative, but to direct your attack against theirs. When you destroy their god, they will become powerless and come back down to this world. They will suddenly be frightened by the sound of footsteps and by the prick of a pin. They will know that not only they understand your language, but you understand theirs, and you are fighting them according to their own rules.”
“Think about it”, I added, “How many people are you going to kill in vain, and how easy it would be to win this war without killing anyone.”
My friend was convinced, but in the end decided not to run the ad.
I am worried by what is to come. Since America is going to lose, tremendous frustration is going to build up in the American population. The Twin Towers will only be the beginning. The success of the terrorist attack will create an unconquerable desire among every Arab child to claim his share of martyrdom. Terrorist attacks will increase and America won´t have an answer.
The Arab professor´s words of incitement will then start ringing true to American ears: Israel is the problem and, by extension, so are the Jews.
There won´t be large-scale pogroms in America, perhaps small ones, but not the kind we became accustomed to in Europe. After all, there is something too good about the American people that won´t allow it. But how will a Jew show his face in the street when every American is convinced that he has lost his job, his property and that his relatives are being killed in terrorist attacks and in an endless war, all because of the Jews?
My return trip to Israel was no picnic. I sat at the airport in uncertainty for nearly 24 hours with thousands of others, until I managed to get onboard one of the flights of El Al´s air shuttle returning the stranded Israelis home.
“If this is the line of Israeli visitors wanting to go home,” I thought to myself, “how long will the line be when American Jews rush to come home to Israel?”
I always kneel and kiss the ground when I return home.
Our holy land had never received as warm a kiss from me as it did this time.
Moshe Feiglin, founder of Manhigut Yehudit, The Jewish Leadership Movement (www.manhigut.org), led the campaign of mass civil disobedience against the Oslo accords in 1995. Feiglin is currently championing the registration of thousands of new members to the Manhigut Yehudit bloc in Likud to create a Judaism-based leadership for the State of Israel.