Yalla Peace: Osama bin Laden’s message

The true goal of the Sept. 11 attacks was to turn people away from the belief that peace is possible.

Osama Bin Laden 311 (photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer/Files )
Osama Bin Laden 311
(photo credit: REUTERS/Stringer/Files )
As much as America and the West hate to admit it, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 achieved everything that Osama Bin Laden could have hoped for and more.
The attacks not only drew the US into Afghanistan - where it’s still bogged down almost 10 years later with no end in sight – most importantly, they demonstrated the vulnerability of the most powerful nation in the world.
America was and still is vulnerable, despite all the patriotic rhetoric and grandiose speeches from opportunistic politicians to the contrary. We proved that when we compromised our own Constitution and used torture and civil rights violations to fight back.
The Middle East, the very region that spawned the attacks, was even more powerfully affected. For the Palestinians and Israelis, the damage done on 9/11, and in the 10 years since, is greater than they may realize.
Palestinian and Israeli extremists have always turned to terrorism and violence as a means of derailing the peace process initiated by Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn. I was there that beautiful September day in 1993 – I was inspired to believe in peace, and hoped for an end to the conflict that has brought tragedy to both sides for over six decades.
From the day that agreement was signed, extremists were determined to destroy it – and they did. In fact, the year before Sept. 11, 2001, Palestinians and Israelis were engaged in what was then their most vicious exchange. Ariel Sharon pushed peace to the side. His provocation on the Haram al ash Sharif (Temple Mount) did what it was intended to: destroy the peace process in a way suicide bombings never could.
I remember that year in 2000 as being the most terrible time, especially as the previous year had been one of the most hopeful Palestinians and Israelis ever experienced. There had been real belief peace would prevail over extremism.
But extremists on both sides, from Hamas to settler champions, did everything they could to block the peace process. Hamas used suicide bombings and settler champions used assassination. Rabin was murdered less than three years after signing the peace accord. Had he lived, the peace process would have continued, and we likely would have seen Israeli fanaticism reach deeper and deeper into the heart of terrorism to stop peace.
When violence did break out after Sharon’s action, I never thought we would see peace again. But it was Sept. 11 that sealed the fate of Palestinians and Israelis, condemning them to a vicious cycle of hatred, violence and blame.
Bin Laden didn’t just want to kill Americans on Sept. 11. His primary goal was to embolden extremists and rally them to his cause.
Ten years after Sept. 11, many claim we are defeating extremism and terrorism, but that is far from true. I would argue that Sept. 11 only proved that the extremism we face is far more powerful than we are willing to admit.

With every believer in peace that turns away from that goal, the extremists gain another victory. Because that is the true goal of the Sept. 11 attacks: to turn people away from the belief that peace is possible.
The extremists know that they are winning. Extremism feeds upon the disbelievers in peace. The extremists defeat the moderates because their acts of violence and terrorism cause moderates to lose faith and turn to hatred.
What we are seeing today is the weakening of the moderates and those who have hope for peace. We are seeing what Bin Laden and the extremists always hoped for. Continued conflict.
Sept. 11 didn’t show that the extremists will lose by their acts of violence. It proved that their violence can bring them exactly what they hope for.