When it comes to the attacks of September the 11th, Israel was burned 3 times by this horrible crime. First by the attacks themselves, from the thousand killed there were Israelis in the towers and on the planes, not to mention hundreds of Jews. Then came the blood libels blaming Israel for those attacks. From Hizbullah, came the preposterous lie that no Jews were killed because Israel warned them, a lie that has popularity among Muslims in North America, see Marc Levin’s 2005 documentary ‘Protocols of Zion.’
The second libel, the more respected one, blames US policies towards Israel, as the reason for the murderous attacks. Al Qaeda attacked the United States for a simple reason, its ideology, an ideology that opposes everything western democracies stand for: personal liberties, freedom of religion, accountability of rulers, pluralism, and more. It is the same reason fascism, and communism were at war with the United States.
The blame on Israel rhetoric is a means to justify and support the terrorism Israel was subjected to. A terrorism that is no different then the one practiced by Al Qaeda. Both have been targeting innocent civilians in the name of Islam. The only difference is that Al Qaeda has a global agenda, and Hamas a regional one. Opposing one violent jihad in order to advance another is an act of criminal hypocrisy.
Al Qaeda is a global violent jihad movement; across the globe there are others, regional forms of violent jihad, in India, South Philippines, the Horn of Africa, Northern Nigeria, and in the Middle East against Israel. All have one thing in common, the deliberate systematic mass murder of unarmed civilians. And the best way to stop such behavior is to oppose them all. Partial opposition will get partial results if any.
But in the global political realities of today this is not going to happen. This creates a moral void that allows the occurrences of genuine war crimes and genocides, and the delegitimization campaign against Israel, long identified as a strategic threat to the country.
My concern is that this Islamic community center will allow within its walls the use of 9/11 and its proximity to the site to catapult anti Israeli ideologies and conspiracy theories. Ideologies that pretend to criticize Israel, but instead demonize and delegitimate her and support or justify the murder of its citizens.
This is not an opposition to the Islamic community center and the mosque in it. That is an American matter and a New Yorker matter. Israel’s concerns are within its sovereign territory, and with those who attack her. It is a ‘might take place’ concern and should not be treated as a ‘will take place’ concern, unless there is compelling evidence that such pro-jihadi activity is planned.
Even if this will turn out to be a ‘will take place’ concern, it will not override any of the arguments in favor of that Islamic community center. The values of freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, and the rule of law, and of course the sovereignty of the United States and the city of New York, override outsiders’ concerns. And the debate, whether this Cordova House should be open, is a separate, and a distinguish debate from any debate that may ensue regarding the content of that house.
My personal hope is that this community center will deliver its promises of interfaith activities. Experience had thought many Israelis who support peace and humanitarian values to expect these hopes to be dashed. But sometimes an act of humanity does come from the Muslim and Palestinian side, usually not with regards to high profile events or personalities. Seen humanity in the words and action of your enemy, helps reconnect to the humanity that is within yourself, and that is a liberating experience. Humanity for both sides is acknowledging the suffering of the innocents on both sides – at minimum. It takes a lot of strength and political courage to do so, as well as personal one.
The question whether the people leading the Cordova Initiative has that courage has nothing to do with the debate over this Islamic community center. If the good will of many of the supporters of this community center will be punished it will be a different issue, one that is between them and the people leading the Cordova Initiative. If lies are indeed catapult against Israel, Israel will deal with it, hopefully in a non-inanimate and non-incompetent manner.