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Then Abraham said, "May the Lord not be angry, but
let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?" The
Lord answered, "For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it." --
I can remember only two occasions when I watched the Discovery/Times Channel for more than a few seconds in a row. The first time they were showing a documentary about Saudi Arabia. There was a room with several women seated around a table. It was difficult to figure out how many of them were there because, covered head to toe with burqas, they all looked like big, black bowling pins and were just as impossible to tell apart.
The women were trying to outdo each other extolling their incredibly good fortune to have been born into a culture that went to such drastic extremes to protect their honor. I listened for a while how happy they were to have to ask male relatives for a written permission to leave the house every time they had to go somewhere; how beautiful it was to become a third wife to a man you had never met until he climbed into your bed to claim your virginity; how wonderful it was to live without a face that could attract unwanted attention, without a clitoris that might produce a sinful sensation, without a job that might result in a dangerous exposure to strangers, without freedom that could be so easily abused, without practically everything that makes up a normal life of a normal person in a normal world.
Of course, normalcy is in the eye of the beholder. But while listening to them speak in Arabic and reading the translation of their halleluiahs in the subtitles, I suddenly remembered what I had read about the will left behind by Mohammad Atta, the leader of the 9/11 highjackers. In his will, Mr. Atta, the great Muslim hero, mastermind and executioner of the most spectacular mass murder of modern times, demanded that no woman, especially no pregnant woman, be allowed to desecrate his holy memory by attending his funeral or visiting his grave. There goes your honor, sisters, I thought. No matter what you sing while perched in your cages, your owners will always find a way to remind you that you are nothing but unclean animals.
What can be worse than being a slave? Only being a loyal slave.
The other time they were airing a documentary about North Korea. I turned it on during an interview with a North Korean general. The general was slightly beyond middle age and had a pleasant outdoorsman's face that radiated confidence and healthy power and looked a bit incongruous under a wide, richly decorated, Soviet-style military cap. He was speaking in a placid, measured tone of voice. He was saying how much he hated the United States, how passionately he was dreaming of killing as many Americans as he could possibly reach, how hopeful he was that now, with the help of new military hardware developed under the guidance of the "Dear Leader", his dream might finally come true. He called it "defending our revolution".
After him, they showed a North Korean defector who also used to be in the military, although in a much lower rank. He had served as a guard at a prison camp. People jailed there were mostly guilty by association with a known criminal, but their association was not strong enough to warrant an execution. They were imprisoned together with their entire families. The inmates had no rights whatsoever. The guards had the power to execute any of them on the whim, without the formality of a trial. Inmates, who committed offences that, in the opinion of a guard, deserved to be punished by death, were rarely executed alone. Usually, they went to their doom accompanied by their families and neighbors. The former guard told about an especially memorable day when he personally killed 31 people. He didn't reveal what any of them had done wrong. He also told how guards routinely killed babies born to inmates by throwing them on the ground and stepping on their throats. That was not a punishment; that was a routine procedure performed immediately after birth in front of a still bleeding mother. But even that was not the most interesting part of his interview.
The main purpose of that particular camp was to test chemical and biological weapons on human subjects. The former guard naively called people who conducted the tests "scientists". An inmate didn't have to commit any offense to be used as a guinea pig. Usually, he or she had to be generally healthy and, sometimes, have some special physical characteristics. The former guard told about one particular occasion when he escorted a family, the parents and two young children, a boy and a girl, to a gas chamber. The walls of the chamber were made out of glass so that the progress of the experiment could be observed. The four were stripped naked and placed inside.
Try to imagine what it was like for them. Even for prisoners of a concentration camp, life goes on as long as they are still alive. Imagine the two adults, suddenly taken away from the grueling daily routine of the camp, thinking of the work that was to be resumed when they were allowed to return to their barracks, standing in the middle of a glass cage, trying to cover their nakedness. Imagine the two children, unaware that their life could have been very different from what it was, looking with normal children's curiosity at the unfamiliar surroundings.
Then gas was pumped into the chamber. It didn't kill them instantly. For a while, the dying parents were trying to save their children by giving them mouth to mouth, but that, of course, didn't work. While they were dying, the "scientists" positioned around the glass walls were busily taking notes.
I saw it on the Discovery/Times channel. I believe it would be reasonable to assume that the New York Times knows what is being shown on a TV channel it partially owns. Apparently, North Korean atrocities did not fall under the category of news fit to print. And that raises the inevitable question of the New York Times's political agenda.
But that's not the only question that comes to mind.
We've all heard the version of World War II history a la Pat Buchanan that proclaims that the United States decided to enter the war in order to liberate Jews from German concentration camps. If we were to believe that, we would have to express our regrets that the decision didn't come 6 million Jews earlier. But let us not worry about the Jews who have been dead for so long that the very fact of their pre-Auschwitz existence is easier to deny than to confirm.
Not so long ago, NATO -- mostly, the United States -- bombed Yugoslavia out of existence for the alleged, but still unproven crime of genocide against its Muslim population. Why then the United States, along with NATO and the rest of the peace-loving world, wouldn't even consider going to war to liberate North Koreans from the North Korean concentration camps?
Why did a bra placed by a fool in uniform on the head of a terrorist held in Abu Ghraib attracted more attention of the humankind than the mass murder of North Koreans -- or even the mass murder of Iraqis that went on at the very same Abu Ghraib for decades, while Saddam Hussein was in power?
Why the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, where prisoners are kept in more humane conditions than in any other POW camp in history, although never in history captives deserved so little humanitarian concern, excites defenders of human rights so much more than the tortured death at the hands of "Dear Leader's" goons of people who had done nothing wrong?
While the dying parents were desperately blowing poison from their lungs into the poisoned lungs of their dying children, the institution misnamed the International Court of Justice was diligently seeking the legal basis for the condemnation of Israel for building a fence in an equally desperate (and, predictably, equally futile) attempt to prevent Arab terrorists from murdering Jews. Of the three, only the court achieved its goal. The population of this planet of ours supported the unjust decision of the unjust court with rare unanimity. Neither the Arab atrocities, nor the Korean ones have succeeded in attracting the attention of the court or its world-wide courtroom.
To a naïve person, this may look like most people on Earth have suddenly lost their God-given ability to tell good from evil. Such a hypothesis can be easily disproved. If the humankind had been choosing between the two randomly, then, in approximately 50% of the cases, they would have opted for good. This is not happening. The humankind has made its choice and is sticking to it.
When Israel put Saddam out of nuclear business, the entire world, including the United States, condemned the unprovoked Israeli aggression against a sovereign country. (In the Reagan cabinet, the most enthusiastic proponent of a severe punishment for Israel was the then-Vice President George H. W. Bush.) There was no logic in that condemnation. Israel would, no doubt, become Saddam's first target, but believing that it would have remained his only target is beyond ludicrous. In 1981, Israel literally saved the world. Years later, the West acknowledged Israel's heroic deed in the most unofficial manner possible.
History repeats itself. Today Israel is fighting Hezbollah, and, as it always happens, the majority of governments, organizations, and individuals around the globe condemn Israel for defending itself. But Israel is not only defending itself. Like Saddam's aborted nukes, Hezbollah is not just threatening Israel. Its sleeper cells are omnipresent in Western countries. What are those countries pushing for? A ceasefire -- the only way to prevent the demise of Hezbollah at the hands of its righteous nemesis. Why do people want to save a terrorist organization, which, at the very first opportunity, w ill turn their own cities into Beirut on the Thames, Beirut on the Spree, Beirut on the Seine, Beirut on the Tiber? Beats me.
God promised Abraham to bless those who bless Jews and to curse those who curse them. A few short years ago, you might need some complex reasoning and compelling historic examples if you wanted to convince the ignorant that, so far, God has kept His promise. On July 24, all the proof you needed could be found in a short documentary posted on CNN. It showed two Lebanese children severely burned by Israeli bombs. Even though the show might have been staged -- Arabs are well known for this kind of PR and Western reporters are usually happy to present their productions as documentaries -- I knew that Israeli raids on Lebanon have caused civilian casualties, and some of them were children, and some of those children suffered the way no human being should suffer.
Such is the price the Lebanese people are paying for their hatred of Jews, in general, and their support of Hezbollah, in particular. As terrible as that price is, it doesn't look unfair or disproportionate to me. You may be a Jew-lover or Jew-hater, Republican or Democrat, Communist or Nazi, Sunni or Shiite, but as long as you stick to the facts, you must know that, in the last two thousand years, Jews have been the only people on earth who have never committed an act of aggression against anyone, including Lebanon.
Nevertheless, CNN will not show you even a two-minute-long movie about the suffering of Jewish children who have become victims of Arab aggression against Israel, although there is a not too subtle difference between the two groups of victims: The Jews, including even infants, were targeted deliberately, and the cesspool known as the Arab street has supported the attacks enthusiastically and unanimously. Why then should they and their children be exempt from a similar faith?
Now would be a good time for you to remind me about the Geneva Conventions. The Geneva Conventions protect the innocent from harm at the time of war. Or do they? In a hypothetical war between Switzerland and Denmark, they might. A hypothetical war between Switzerland and Denmark would be fought by properly uniformed armies, and every person who wasn't armed or wearing uniform would be classified as an innocent civilian.
But ask any Muslim, and they will tell you that a non-believer cannot be innocent by the definition, be he or she a member of enemy armed forces or a church choir. This is perfectly logical. Everyone can convert to Islam at any moment. All it takes is a formal announcement witnessed by Muslims. By choosing not to convert, you are persisting in your crime of unbelieving; therefore, you are not innocent; therefore, you are not a subject to the mythical benevolence that, according to Condoleezza Rice, is found at the heart of Islam. Therefore, killing you, or your child, or your grandmother, or, better yet, all of you together, would promote jihad and, therefore, be perfectly legitimate according to Muslim laws.
Jihad, which is the only state in which Islam can exist, is an interesting phenomenon. Modern jihad is not fought by armies, and it's easy to see why. Iraq had the most powerful army in the entire Muslim world. During its war with Iran, it inflicted terrible devastation on its enemy. But when confronted by the United States military, it was unable to present any opposition whatsoever. That's why modern jihad is being fought by civilians.
Uniformed soldiers are liable to be shot on sight. Thanks to what we mistake for humanism, civilians who ambush and blow up our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are subject to criminal prosecution, the so called "due process". The reality convincingly demonstrates that the "due process" is totally senseless in the context of modern jihad. Therefore, the jihadists are fighting us unopposed.
To prove my point, the current Iraqi prime minister is supported not only by the US military. He is also supported by Moqtada al Sadr, the most prominent Shiite warlord opposed to our "liberation" of Iraq. Al Sadr was allowed to gain his prominence while Iraq was already occupied by our forces. The very fact that he or any of his followers are still alive testifies to our inherent weakness and gives us the right to ask what exactly have we won in Iraq. The answer to that question is simple: exactly nothing.
It is the same with Hezbollah and Hamas. Contrary to what you hear from our politicians, they do not have to disarm. The formidable goals of these organizations cannot be fulfilled without a prolonged armed struggle. Those goals are wholeheartedly supported by tens of millions of seemingly moderate Muslims who constitute their power base. Hezbollah and Hamas are responsible to neither Western governments nor na´ve Western pacifists. They are solely responsible to those who put them in power. And those who put them in power want them armed, because Hezbollah and Hamas defend their interests.
Therefore, if you want to take power from Hezbollah and Hamas, disarming them is not an option, because those who put them in power will eventually find a way to arm them again. Physically exterminating Hezbollah and Hamas is not an option either, because those who put them in power will find plenty of others willing to fill the vacancies. Physically exterminating those who put them in power is not an option either, because that would have inevitably amounted to genocide, and our civilization prefers to succumb to genocide rather than inflict one, unless, of course, the people on the receiving end of it are Jews. That's why the UN, along with the entire peace-loving humanity, is so worried about the Lebanese who have been suffering at the hands of the ruthless Israeli agressors for almost three weeks, but hasn't done squat to protect Jews from the Arab aggression that's been going on for at least 6 decades.
The only remaining option is to attempt to eradicate Islam without eradicating Muslims, because Islam is the motivation behind jihad. Technically, this is possible (remember World War II?), but only technically, because Islam is a religion, and all religions are equal in the eyes of the enlightened Westerners. (I myself believe that all religions are equal only to atheists.)
So, what's the solution? There is none, unless we decide to fight jihad in earnest. But there is no danger of that. Today, the United States has found it to its political advantage to resist the calls for ceasefire in Lebanon. Tomorrow, as it has happened so many times in the past, it will change; Israel will be instructed to stop in the middle of a battle, and Islam will be handed yet another victory it could have never won on the battlefield.
This essay was submitted July 27, 2006.
Yashiko Sagamori is a New York-based Information Technology consultant. To read other articles by the author, go to
or email email@example.com
This essay was submitted July 27, 2006.
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