THE BLOG
10/22/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Denouncing Islamic Terrorism Does Not Undermine Just Causes

Headlines in newspapers across the Arab and Islamic World proclaimed that the bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad was a "warning" to Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari to end cooperation with the United States.

What was not heard, though, were denunciations of the bombing which took the lives of more than 50 human beings, most Muslims observing the Holy Islamic month of Ramadan.

Zardari had tough words for the Islamic extremists behind the bombing and a campaign of terrorism intended to undermine the war on terrorism and struggle against al-Qaeda. He is the widower of Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated last December.

The terrorist attack reminded everyone that the war against terrorism is not over, but it is also a very complicated war that the world needs to clearly understand in order to win.

Many Arabs and Muslims in the Arab and Islamic Worlds and in the West like the United States are silent on such terrorist attacks. In contrast, leaders in the West, like President Bush, are quick to use the terrorist attacks to justify their own broader world agendas.

Somewhere, however, is the middle ground of principle, morality and the elusive answer on to how to defeat the terrorists.

Bush was wrong on the eve of Sept. 11, 2001 to define the conflict as one between "us and them." He signaled to other nations that they could use the al-Qaeda terrorist attack to justify their own political agendas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was one of the first to use the event to justify his own country's policies against the Palestinians.

That single link is the reason why we continue to fail to defeat the terrorists.

The West needs the Arab and Islamic Worlds to help fight and defeat al-Qaeda and bring Osama Bin Laden to justice where his cowardice can be put on public display and he will most certainly be tried and later executed.

But as long as the West continues to link the war on terrorism with other causes and injustices, like the continuing conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, they will not be enthusiastic in their support, except when the violence reaches their own shores.

Americans can feel angry with that attitude, but the truth is that anger is misplaced and unjustified. American foreign policies have contributed to the success of al-Qaeda and the rise of Islamic fanaticism not just in the Arab and Islamic World but in nation's throughout the globe.

Western arrogance prevents Americans from acknowledging the injustices they have helped create and perpetuate. American policy is the single most forceful road block preventing peace in the Middle East. The fact is that the United States refuses to demand that Israel fairly compromise with Palestinians in exchange for the hundreds of billions of dollars in foreign aid and political support America gives to Israel.

Americans have a right to demand that Israel stop being greedy for land and settler expansion and end the conflict today.

But it is not easy to do the right thing, as Arabs and Muslims have found in the shadow of America's misguided, unprincipled and unjust foreign policies.

So rather than denounce the bombings like the one this week in Islamabad, which killed more Muslims and Arabs than Americans, Arabs and Muslims will step back, let the smoke settle and then issue empty pro-formo denunciations of the attack more as protective insurance against claims they do not act.

But their denunciations are hollow and they need to know that it is the burden of Arabs and Muslims throughout the world to speak out against terrorism committed in their name.

Their anger at the biases of American and Western foreign policies, and the distortions that drag the Palestine-Israel conflict into the terrorism of al-Qaeda and Sept. 11, 2001, are justified. But not justified enough to remain silent when innocent people are murdered.

If the American people will not stand up and do the right thing, then it is the responsibility of Arabs and Muslims to show the world they are better. That despite the biased and unfair American policies that result in the continued oppression of the Palestinians - and feed the rise of Islamic extremism in Hamas and the Gaza Strip - they must speak out and denounce these atrocities.

These terrorist attacks are committed in their name. The fact that President Bush helped ignite a worldwide terrorist network by his shallow and misguided policies of political exploitation is not a reason to step back and be silent.

Bush is wrong. Israel is wrong. American foreign policies are wrong.

But wrong also are the terrorist attacks like the one that destroyed the Marriott Hotel in Islambad, tookt he lives of more than 50 civilians and injured more than 250.

So is it wrong when extremist Muslims and Arabs use American foreign policy and Israeli oppression to justify equally heinous policies and terrorist attacks against Israelis and Western targets.

Arabs and Muslims need to help Americans see through their failed foreign policies and their hypocritical failure to stand by principle when it comes to the rights of the Palestinian people.

But in order for them to do that, they need to first demonstrate their own ability to correct their own problems.

Denouncing al-Qaeda, the terrorism of Sept. 11, 2001 and bombings and attacks throughout the world do not undermine the Palestinian cause or strengthen Israel's oppressive policies. They challenge them and help force them to change.

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