New Internationalist

The New Twin Towers

Issue 340

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Twin Terrors / WORLD OPINION

Touched by terror

The new twin towers
by Uri Avnery

After the smoke has cleared, the dust has settled and the initial fury blown over, humankind will wake up and realize a new fact: there is no safe place on earth.

A handful of suicide bombers has brought the United States to a standstill, caused the President to hide in a bunker under a faraway mountain, dealt a terrible blow to the economy, grounded all aircraft, and emptied government offices throughout the country. This can happen in every country. The Twin Towers are everywhere.

Not only Israel, but the whole world is now full of gibberish about ‘fighting terrorism’. Politicians, ‘experts on terrorism’ and their like propose to hit, destroy, annihilate as well as to allocate more billions to the ‘intelligence community’. They make brilliant suggestions. But nothing of this kind will help the threatened nations, much as nothing of this kind has helped Israel.

There is no patent remedy for terrorism. The only remedy is to remove its causes. One can kill a million mosquitoes, and millions more will take their place. In order to get rid of them, one has to dry the swamp that breeds them. And the swamp is always political.

A person does not wake up one morning and tell himself: today I shall hijack a plane and kill myself. Nor does a person wake up one morning and tell himself: today I shall blow myself up in a Tel Aviv discotheque. Such a decision grows in a person’s mind through a slow process, taking years.

The background to the decision is either national or religious, social and spiritual. Underground fighters cannot operate without popular roots and a supportive environment ready to supply new recruits, assistance, hiding places, money and means of propaganda. An underground organization wants to gain popularity, not lose it. Therefore it commits attacks when it thinks that this is what the surrounding public wants. Terror always testifies to the public mood.

He who runs away
from the conflict is
followed by it, even
into his home

That is true in this case, too. The initiators of the attacks decided to implement their plan after America had provoked immense hatred throughout the world. Not because of its might, but because of the way it uses its might. It is hated by the enemies of globalization, who blame it for the terrible gap between rich and poor in the world. It is hated by millions of Arabs, because of its support for the Israeli occupation and the suffering of the Palestinian people. It is hated by the multitudes of Muslims, because of what looks like its support for the Jewish domination of the Islamic holy shrines in Jerusalem. And there are many more angry peoples who believe that America supports their tormentors.

Until 11 September 2001 – a date to remember – Americans could entertain the illusion that all this concerns only others, in far-away places beyond the seas, that it does not touch their sheltered lives at home. No more.

That is the other side of globalization: all the world’s problems concern everyone in the world. Every case of injustice, every case of oppression.

Terrorism, the weapon of the weak, can easily reach every spot on earth. Every society can easily be targeted, and the more developed a society is, the more it is in danger. Fewer and fewer peoples are needed to inflict pain on more and more people. Soon one single person will be enough to carry a suitcase with a tiny atomic bomb and destroy a megalopolis of tens of millions.

This is the reality of the 21st century that started this week in earnest. It must lead to the globalization of all problems and the globalization of their solutions. Not in the abstract, by fatuous declarations in the UN, but by a global endeavor to resolve conflicts and establish peace, with the participation of all nations, with the US playing a central role.

Since the US has become a world power, it has deviated from the path outlined by its founders. It was Thomas Jefferson who said: ‘No nation can behave without a decent respect for the opinion of mankind’ (I quote from memory). When the US delegation left the world conference in Durban, in order to abort the debate about the evils of slavery and in order to court the Israeli right, Jefferson must have turned over in his grave.

If it is confirmed that the attack on New York and Washington was perpetrated by Arabs – and even if not! – the world must at long last treat the festering wound of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is poisoning the whole body of humanity. One of the wise guys in the Bush administration said only a few weeks ago: ‘Let them bleed!’ – meaning the Palestinians and the Israelis.

Now America is bleeding. He who runs away from the conflict is followed by it, even into his home. Americans, and Europeans too, should learn this lesson.

The distance from Jerusalem to New York is small, and so is the distance from New York to Paris, London and Berlin. Not only multinational corporations embrace the globe: terror organizations do so too. In the same way, the instruments for the solution of conflicts must be global.

Instead of the destroyed New York edifices, the twin towers of Peace and Justice must be built.

Uri Avnery is founder of the Israeli peace organization
Gush Shalom and winner of the Right Livelihood Award
or Alternative Nobel Prize for 2001.


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