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
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
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.
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
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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.
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
Bin Laden didn’t just want to kill Americans on Sept.
11. His primary goal was to embolden extremists and rally them to his
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
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.
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.
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.
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