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Posted by on Jan 15, 2009 in Israel | 15 comments

Israel, the US, and 9/11

Incidentally, some of you were sceptical about Israel, and US support of Israel, being a major – perhaps the – central cause of Islamic unrest and resulting terror attacks.

Sam, for example, said:

Also, do you really believe that Islamic bitterness is a consequence of Israel’s existence?

Well, bitterness over US support for Israel is certainly what was behind 9/11 [POSTSCRIPT – I mean it was a major factor – indeed, the major factor, if the architect of the attack is to be believed (and why shouldn’t he be?)], despite the fact that this was endlessly denied by many pundits. It was also denied by many politicians who preferred to blame Islamic hatred of our freedom-loving ways.

Kalid Shaikh Mohammed – the “principal architect” of the 9/11 attack – said his animosity towards the U.S. stemmed from “his violent disagreement with U.S. foreign policy favoring Israel”.National Commission on Terrorist attacks upon the United States. 9/11 Commission Report. Chapter 5. Available at:

Of course, some may say: “So what? the US and the West should support Israel in the way they do.” We can discuss that. But I don’t think one can reasonably deny it’s a major factor re. Islamic terrorist attacks on Western targets.

Some think there’s actually a conspiracy to hide the truth from the US public! See this youtube clip, which has awful dramatic music, a hectoring tone, and may be selective in its use of material, but at least the clips are genuine.

This passage from Chomsky’s contribution to my book might also be of interest:

The specific policies that inflamed the potential “support base” for Islamic terrorism were Israel-Palestine and the murderous US-UK sanctions regime in Iraq. But long before, there were more fundamental issues. Again, it makes little sense to ignore these, at least for those who hope to reduce the likelihood of further terrorist crimes or to answer George W. Bush’s plaintive question, “Why do they hate us?”

The question is wrongly put: they do not hate us, but rather the policies of our government, something quite different. If the question is properly formulated, answers to it are not hard to find. In the critical year 1958, President Eisenhower and his staff discussed what he called the “campaign of hatred against us” in the Arab world, “not by the governments but by the people.” The basic reason, the National Security Council advised, was the perception that the US supports corrupt and brutal governments and is “opposing political or economic progress” in order “to protect its interest in Near East oil.”

The Wall Street Journal and others found much the same when they investigated attitudes of westernized “Moneyed Muslims” after 9-11: bankers, professionals, managers of multinationals, and so on. They strongly support US policies in general but are bitter about US support for corrupt and repressive regimes that undermine democracy and development, and the more specific and recent issues concerning Israel-Palestine and Iraq sanctions.

These are attitudes of people who like Americans and admire much about the United States, including its freedoms. What they hate are official policies that deny them the freedoms to which they too aspire. Attitudes in the slums and villages are probably similar, but harsher. Unlike the “moneyed Muslims,” the mass of the population have never agreed that the wealth of the region should be drained to the West and local collaborators, rather than serving domestic needs.

Many commentators prefer more comforting answers: anger in the Muslim world is rooted in resentment of our freedom and democracy; in their own cultural failings tracing back many centuries; in their alleged inability to take part in the form of “globalization” in which they, in fact, happily participate; and other such deficiencies. More comforting, perhaps, but not too wise.