Why do they hate America? Americans see themselves as the good guys, but anger at the U.S. seethes in large parts of the world. And it's not without some explanation. (National).
THE NEWS FLASHED AROUND THE GLOBE: THE WORLD TRADE CENTER TOWERS HAD COLLAPSED, the Pentagon was burning, and thousands of Americans were dead. The reaction in some corners of the planet was pure joy.
In the streets of Jerusalem, Palestinians angry at America for its support of Israel honked car horns and handed out candies. In Israel's West Bank, Arab teens smiled and pumped their fists in the air. In Baghdad, where Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein Saddam Hussein
(born April 28, 1937, Tikrit, Iraq—died Dec. 30, 2006, Baghdad) President of Iraq (1979–2003). He joined the Ba'th Party in 1957. Following participation in a failed attempt to assassinate Iraqi Pres. fought and lost a war to America in 1991, the state-run television announced: "The American cowboy is reaping the fruits of his crimes against humanity."
For Americans, such reactions seemed incomprehensible. How could a nation that sees itself as the Good Guys inspire such animosity--let alone a hatred so fierce that 19 fanatics would commit suicide Verb 1. commit suicide - kill oneself; "the terminally ill patient committed suicide"
kill - cause to die; put to death, usually intentionally or knowingly; "This man killed several people when he tried to rob a bank"; "The farmer killed a pig for the holidays" in order to kill as many Americans as possible?
Millions of U.S. immigrants, including Arab-Americans, pledge allegiance to their adopted country. But anger at the U.S. seethes in large parts of the world, particularly in Arab states, where conservative Muslims see American values--expressed in cultural exports such as music, television programs, and films--as corrupting their societies. Others see America acting to protect its own economic well-being at the expense of smaller, less powerful nations. Still others resent the coercive effects of America's military might and its support of undemocratic governments.
"They don't see us as we see us," says Jon B. Alterman, a Mideast expert at the U.S. Institute of Peace, in Washington. "We see us as about freedom, individualism, providing opportunity for people from all over. Overseas, we're seen as arrogant, we're seen as huddling behind the high walls of embassies, as supporting corrupt regimes, and as being utterly indifferent to Arab suffering."
AMERICA: BEACON OF HOPE OR A CORRUPTING INFLUENCE?
The killers who acted September 11 are believed to have been operatives of Osama bin Laden Osama bin Laden: see bin Laden, Osama. , a Saudi Arabian millionaire and terrorist leader, who has vowed to conduct an Islamic jihad Noun 1. Islamic Jihad - a Shiite terrorist organization with strong ties to Iran; seeks to create an Iranian fundamentalist Islamic state in Lebanon; car bombs are the signature weapon , or "holy war," against the U.S. (see "America's Most Wanted For the professional wrestling tag team, see .
For the United States FBI list of fugitives, see .
America's Most Wanted is a long-running TV show produced by 20th Century Fox. ," page 14).
Islam, with more than a billion adherents worldwide, is second in size only to Christianity. It shares many traditions with Christianity and Judaism Judaism and Christianity while related some ways are distinctly different. Judaism being an Abrahamic religion fundamentally diverges in theology and practice. While Judaism places the emphasis for holiness on the concepts of clean and unclean, Christianity places the emphasis for , including a belief in Abraham and other biblical prophets. Bin Laden follows its most extreme, fundamentalist form, which insists on a strict interpretation of Islamic law Noun 1. Islamic law - the code of law derived from the Koran and from the teachings and example of Mohammed; "sharia is only applicable to Muslims"; "under Islamic law there is no separation of church and state"
sharia, sharia law, shariah, shariah law . Bin Laden's call for a holy war comes out of that view. In that radical interpretation, all Muslims (followers of Islam) are called upon to attack a common enemy. Suicidal acts, normally forbidden under Islamic law, become a form of martyrdom in the spiritual cause.
The governments of every predominately Islamic country except Iraq and Afghanistan expressed outrage over the suicide hijackings of four commercial airliners. Indeed, the overwhelming majority of Muslims mourned America's loss. Yet analysts say that even among those honestly grieving, a certain anger against the U.S. still simmers. The attack has highlighted what Middle East experts have known for some time: While America sees itself as a great beacon of hope, the dispenser of democracy and economic prosperity, the view from the Middle East holds that America is a corrupting influence, whose policies often seem specifically designed to harm Islamic countries or the Islamic way of life.
FERTILE GROUND FOR EXTREMISM
From the Middle Eastern perspective, the U.S. rap sheet reads like this: Guilty of supporting Israel, including providing the very weaponry used to attack Palestinians; guilty of stationing U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia Saudi Arabia (sä`dē ərā`bēə, sou`–, sô–), officially Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, kingdom (2005 est. pop. , home of Islam's most holy shrines; guilty of imposing economic sanctions Economic sanctions are economic penalties applied by one country (or group of countries) on another for a variety of reasons. Economic sanctions include, but are not limited to, tariffs, trade barriers, import duties, and import or export quotas. that contributed to the deaths of as many as 1 million children in Iraq, following the 1991 Persian Gulf war Persian Gulf War
or Gulf War
(1990–91) International conflict triggered by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990. Though justified by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein on grounds that Kuwait was historically part of Iraq, the invasion was presumed to be . Beyond these charges, even some moderate Arabs and Muslims complain that the U.S. supports several undemocratic Arab regimes that stifle opposition by any means, including torture and murder.
The Arab senses of injustice and distrust of Western motives are rooted in centuries of history. During the Eastern Crusades, a series of wars from the 11th to the 13th centuries initiated by the popes, Christian forces aimed to capture the Holy Land and other parts of the Middle East.
ISRAEL: CENTER OF THE CONFLICT
No U.S. policy generates greater Arab anger than American support for Israel. To create a homeland for the Jewish people, the United Nations voted in 1947 to divide Palestine between Jews and Arabs. The split prompted an attack by six Arab nations when Israel declared its independence in 1948. During that war, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled to the West Bank of Jordan The Bank of Jordan is a bank in Jordan. It was founded in 1960 and is based in Amman. The Bank of Jordan offers credit cards and internet banking. It operates over 60 bank branches in Jordan and 8 branches in the West Bank and Gaza Strip areas, and over 60 automated teller machines. and the Gaza Strip Gaza Strip (gäz`ə), (2003 est. pop. 1,330,000) rectangular coastal area, c.140 sq mi (370 sq km), SW Asia, on the Mediterranean Sea adjoining Egypt and Israel, in what was formerly SW Palestine. of Egypt. But during a 1967 war begun by its Arab neighbors, Israel seized those territories, thereby aggravating the conflict.
Arabs believe the U.S., driven by powerful political pressure from American Jews American Jews, or Jewish Americans, are American citizens or resident aliens who were born into the Jewish community or who have converted to Judaism. The United States is home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the world. , always takes Israel's side in disputes with Yasir Ararat, the Palestinian leader. Palestinians see the U.S. support in the most personal terms. "The Americans give the Israelis Apache helicopters to bomb our houses," said Suleiman Qassem, 20, in East Jerusalem East Jerusalem refers to the part of Jerusalem captured by Jordan in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and subsequently by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. It includes Jerusalem's Old City and some of the holiest sites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, such as the Temple Mount, Western , hours after the attack on America. "They give them diplomatic support and intelligence help on how to kill us."
Arab and Palestinian anger has been growing since peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down last year. In the intervening months, Israeli forces have killed more than 550 Palestinians. And more than 130 Israelis have died in a series of suicide bombings and shootings.
Proponents of U.S policy say the Arab view leaves a great deal out. The U.S., they argue, is morally obligated ob·li·gate
tr.v. ob·li·gat·ed, ob·li·gat·ing, ob·li·gates
1. To bind, compel, or constrain by a social, legal, or moral tie. See Synonyms at force.
2. To cause to be grateful or indebted; oblige. to support Israel, a democracy that shares many values with America and Europe. They point out that most Arab countries still refuse to admit Israel's right to exist, and that bin Laden's extreme fundamentalist version of Islam actively promotes attacks on Jews and leaves no room for religious tolerance.
In recent months, bin Laden is said to have played upon Arab anger over Israeli attacks on Palestinians to keep his troops whipped into a frenzy. But the terror attack terror attack n → atentado (terrorista)
terror attack n → attentato terroristico on America appears to have angered many moderate Arabs. "If in the past there were supporters or sympathizers or admiration, what happened in New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of will turn it off," says Jamal Khashoggi Jamal Khashoggi is a media advisor to Prince Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, Saudi Arabia's Ambassador to the United States. Formerly, he was editor-in-chief of the Saudi daily newspaper Al-Watan before being fired by the Saudi Ministry of Information after publicly condemning the , the managing editor of The Arab News, a Saudi newspaper. "He is dragging all of us into a conflict with the West that we don't want."
Safely navigating the mine field of Arab and Islamic politics is only one of the risks that America faces in prosecuting its war on terrorism Terrorist acts and the threat of Terrorism have occupied the various law enforcement agencies in the U.S. government for many years. The Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996, as amended by the usa patriot act . Many experts point out that the crushing poverty and the lack of political freedom leads to a deep sense of powerlessness in many Arab countries. This provides fertile soil for extremism and hatred of America. Those conditions are difficult to change, even if President George W. Bush makes changing them a priority. Yet as long as they exist, attacks against Islamic extremists run the risk of transforming Islamic moderates into extremists.
"America must wisely deal with the roots of this problem," says Azzam Tamimi Azzam Tamimi is a Palestinian-Briton academic. Tamimi has been accused of supporting the use of suicide bombings against Israel, and openly supports Hamas and Hezbollah.
Tamimi is a leading member of the Stop the War Coalition. , director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought, in London. "It's like a cancer. If you just treat it superficially it will still be there, and it will even spread further."
But getting at the root causes of Arab anger will require the U.S to think of people in Islamic countries in ways that avoid demonizing them, experts say. That may be difficult, given the rage felt at the terrorists.
"President Lincoln said of the South after the Civil War: `Remember, they pray to the same God,'" says Middle East analyst Stephen P. Cohen For other persons with a similar name, see .
Stephen P. Cohen is senior fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution. He is an expert on Pakistan, India, and South Asian security. . "The same is true of many, many Muslims. We must fight those among them who pray only to the God of Hate, but we do not want to go to war with Islam, with all the millions of Muslims who pray to the same God we do."
RELATED ARTICLE: Focus: for millions of fundamentalist Muslims, the U.S. is corrupting their societies.
To help students understand the foundation for the hate that so many fundamentalist Muslims feel for the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. .
* Do you think fundamentalist Muslims separate religion from culture?
* Suppose you had the opportunity to meet with a fundamentalist Muslim who proclaimed hatred for the U.S. What would you say to him or her to demonstrate that the U.S. is not an evil country?
* Short of abandoning support for Israel, is there anything the U.S. might do to ease tensions with fundamentalist Muslims?
Background/Critical Thinking: Critics, in and out of the Middle East, say the U.S. has supported regimes that stifled opposition. During the Cold War, they say, the U.S. often supported authoritarian regimes in Latin America Latin America, the Spanish-speaking, Portuguese-speaking, and French-speaking countries (except Canada) of North America, South America, Central America, and the West Indies. and Asia that proclaimed their anti-Communism.
Is this fair? Ask whether the U.S. must deal with whatever regime is in power in any given country. Does the U.S. have any authority to force oppressive regimes to become more open and democratic?
Note the resentment among fundamentalist Muslims to the export of American movies, music, and fashion. How might these become a threat to the Islamic way of life? (Might they encourage young people to violate cultural and religious prohibitions against immodest im·mod·est
1. Lacking modesty.
a. Offending against sexual mores in conduct or appearance; indecent: a bathing suit considered immodest by the local people.
b. dress and the use of alcohol?) Is this kind of behavior a serious threat to society?
Direct attention to the remarks of Azzam Tamimi, on page 13. What are the roots of the problem? Does anti-U.S. feeling flow mainly from U.S. support for Israel and corrupt Arab regimes, as fundamentalists say? Or does it flow from the fact that fundamentalists regard all non-Muslims as infidels? Is it a bit of both? Can the U.S. ever hope to heal this wound?
Debate: After students have finished reading "Why Do They Hate America?" you can address the question of demonizing Muslims. In light of the mass murder on September 11, how should authorities keep alert to potential terrorists, without targeting innocent Arabs for harassment? Is profiling people who appear to be of Mideast origin a legitimate strategy?
RELATED ARTICLE: `Were All Americans'.
U.S. TEENS WITH MIDEAST BACKGROUNDS FIND THAT THEY ARE NOW TARGETS.
SHADY HAWATMEH, 16 St. Louis, Missouri Jordanian American
"I have started getting dirty looks and rude comments. I've seen bumper stickers like, `Kill an Arab for every American.' It's uncalled for. In the Oklahoma City bombing See Terrorism "The Oklahoma City Bombing" (Sidebar); Venue "Venue and the Oklahoma City Bombing Case" (Sidebar). , an American did it. Does that mean all Americans are bad? No.
"And I try to tell people that Jordan and Afghanistan are different. Jordan is one of the main supporters of America. But people are all just one-minded: `If you're Arab, you're Arab.' They don't see the whole picture."
TAREK ISMAIL, 16 Toledo, Ohio Palestinian American
"When I saw what happened, I knew right away, even before they got any information, that fingers would be pointed at Arabs. In this time, that's just how it is. It used to be Russians and Chinese, and now I guess it's our turn. But we're all Americans. United we stand, divided we fall. Just because the situation happened doesn't give anyone the right to discriminate."
ZAAHIRA WYNE, 16 Fredericksburg, Virginia Pakistani-American
"I'm a Muslim, and these terrorists don't represent Islam at all. They're fundamentalists with their own agenda. I feel like an American because I was brought up here, but all of a sudden, you feel different from other kids. People have gone out of their way to reach out to us, though. A woman in the grocery store hugged me, and I didn't even know her."
With reporting by PATRICIA SMITH Patricia Smith (1955) is a poet, spoken word performer, playwright, author, writing teacher, and former journalist.
She was born in Chicago and lives in Westchester County, New York. in New York, JOHN F. BURNS This article covers the journalist. For other people with the same name see John Burns (disambiguation)
John F. Burns (John Fisher Burns) (born October 4, 1944) is an American journalist, winner of two Pulitzer Prizes. in Pakistan, and JAMES BENNET in Jerusalem.