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Harold Pinter, the 9/11 Commission and the Current Terror Dilemma
Last uploaded : Wednesday 24th Mar 2004 at 18:39
Contributed by : The Editors


For the past few weeks we have been attending a string of London conferences, seminars and one-day events presented by the anti-war movements and by a Palestinian organisation.

The climax of all of this has been the televised investigation of the September 11th terrorist attacks being held in Washington. Dignitary after dignitary has been appearing before this august Commission, squirming and skilfully evading the incisive questioning.

Watching Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Paul Wolfowitz, Bill Cohen, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet and Sandy Berger being interrogated we are moved to despair.

Were we Islamic, ETA, Columbian, Real IRA or Abu Sayaf terror chiefs we would be chortling. Here is a group of immensely civilised Westerners, raised and educated in the Judao-Christian tradition supplemented by the unique experience of Thanksgiving turkeys, July Fourth fireworks, the Macy?s Parade and Veterans? Day, being pummelled by fellow Westerners of the same tradition. They are trying to figure out why a bunch of ?folks? flew airplanes into the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, and nearly demolished the White House and much of Capitol Hill.

How can anyone, Republican or Democrat, understand the minds of such people? As former Secretary of State under President Clinton Madeleine Albright noted, our psyches are in a different mode since September 11th 2001.

Last week we heard about an eleven-year-old Palestinian boy who burst into tears when he was stopped by an Israeli checkpoint soldier. His back pack contained a mass of explosives. He had been sent to kill Jews by men old enough to be his father. The army is reported to have performed a controlled explosion on the backpack and it created a sizeable crater. It would have killed the little boy and many others. What sort of people send a child to do this? If one watches the scenes of massive crowds in Gaza and the West Bank one notices the robustness of the men and women marching and their attractive clothes. If they are starving under occupation how do they have the resources for hundreds of smart uniforms and masses of guns and hand-held missile launchers? Cynics have said to us that disgruntled Israeli soldiers are supplying Palestinians with lethal gear, and that Israel even encouraged Sheikh Yassin to drive a wedge with Arafat. Other rumours suggest that a PA member is taking kickbacks on the ?Apartheid Wall.?

Whatever the rumours and legends arising from that benighted region, we fail to comprehend the mind of a person who can send children to be blown up. We fail to comprehend the mind of a state or states (we believe, like Rumsfeld, that Iraq may have been associated with 9/11 and we would add Syria and perhaps other nations) that sends young men to kill themselves in airplanes filled with innocent civilians . How can Western minds comprehend the motives of those who send bombers into crowded Spanish commuter trains?

A Commission could sit for a hundred years and not achieve anything because it is not possible for the Western, and most particularly the American mind, to comprehend how they can in future prevent a repeat of acts they are investigating. Nothwithstanding the tongue-lashings we have received in recent weeks at the various seminars from British peace campaigners about the abject evil of our country, the United States (?genocidal;? racist;? ?Zionist -inspired rogue state? etc) we cannot see Americans, even those as astute as the array of leaders testifying to the 9/11 Commission., being able to predict and prevent the bizarre and cruel acts of the new generation of terrorists.

The media?s obsession with Sheikh Yassin in his wheelchair ignores the obscene tragedy of the death of Leon Klinghoffer, an elderly Jewish American on holiday fifteen years ago with his wife on the Achille Lauro cruise liner, singled out by the PLO hijackers of the ship and thrown overboard in his wheelchair in front of his wife/newly-made widow. He had killed nobody and had ordered the deaths of no souls on this earth.

In due course we will be printing on this site a complete review of the seminars we attended, but suffice it to say that we were chilled to the bone by the speech of Dr Izzam Tamimi, Chair of the Muslim Association of Britain (co-sponsor of the Anti-War Coalition) at a seminar by the Friends of al Aqsa. Dr Tamimi worked himself into a near-frenzy explaining to the audience of mostly berobed young British-born Muslims that the world cannot exist with Israel in its midst. He does not wish harm to Jews but Israel must be dismantled. Why does one's blood freeze at this thought? There are scores of Muslim and Arab countries and several rapidly reaching a Muslim majority. Why must a tiny strip of land, devoid of oil and natural resources, be Judenrein?

How soon will such ?spokesmen for the anti-war coalition? be demanding the dismantling of the USA and disenfranchisement of its Jews? 9/11 could have brought the United States to its knees. Is this what the ?anti-war? leaders want?

Harold Pinter, the eminent British playwright, sent a message to the anti-war event at St James?s Church Piccadilly last week. It was so extreme in its rhetoric about the USA that we could barely listen without cringing. The gist of his meesage was that America, the perpetrator of a litany of crimes he listed for the huge and adoring church audience, had for all intents and purposes got its just desserts on 9/11. (Does Harold complain when six-figure sums come in from his American royalties?)

We are reminded of a talk we attended in London last year in London. The speaker was a Jewish member of the peace movement. He said that Americans were sitting in their living rooms scheming about who they wanted to kill next. One of us had to cut in to remind him that it was December and that Americans, including President Bush, were sitting in their living rooms on the edges of their seats waiting to see who would win the Super Bowl.

Despite the endless streams of crimes we have heard levelled against our native ( and dare we say beloved?) United States of America in three weeks of seminars, demos and day events in London, my assessment of the situation, as we watch the Washington hearings, is that the Big Country is misunderstood. Likewise the Americans appearing before the cameras will never understand terrorism (oh, how we have heard about ?American state terror? these past few weeks from fuming peace campaigners!) and will have to become much meaner and ruthless if they are to prevent further 9/11s.

We fear the killing of Sheikh Yassin will provoke a wave of terror and wonder if Israel truly measured the consequences of its actions, but as Andrew Neil has pointed out in today?s London ?Evening Standard,? if the British SAS got bin Laden in its sights it would not hesitate to liquidate him.

We will be writing in more detail about the string of events we have attended in London, but our overall impression from these varied occasions is that the United States is hated more than Israel in the UK by a large number of people of all ages and backgrounds. In a recent newspaper poll, 15 % of Britons said they would consider being suicide bombers in Israel. Our impression, however, of the mood of the anti-war groups whose symposia we attended is that they feel a much deeper hatred of the USA than of Israel. Little grey-haired ladies cheering at the endless stream of America-bashing entertainers and speakers in the Piccadilly church made us feel physically ill. (By the way, the jokes were not all about Dubya -- there were even obscene turns about how overly upset the hysterical Yanks got about 9/11 and of how other victims of violence do not have mobile phones to leave impassioned messages to their loved ones.)

There is a mistaken concept here in Europe that ?Zionists? run the American government. This may be at the root of the current wave of anti-Americanism. Whatever the cause, it is disturbing and painful, and all we can say to the good people in whose land we live is that we have yet to find one American who hates Britain or the British.

For American expatriates, these are troubling times. For the Americans on the 9/11 panel and their distinguished witnesses, all of whom have little idea of how much their nation is venomously detested worldwide, there will, we fear, be trouble ahead.


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